0. the beginning
It's 2008, at a political rally for Barack Obama (did you expect anything else from a California Democrat?), when Peri sees her first modern-day equivalent of a mobile. It's small and compact and practically glued to the ear of a chatty girl in her twenties wearing a neon green t-shirt that proudly exclaims "Barack & Roll" in big letters. Peri glances over at her companion (ha!) who is looking rather uncomfortable being surrounded by political groupies in an ill-fitting suit picked up on the sly. They all may have been liberal in that part of the country, but not when compared to the Doctor's own eccentric brand of 'liberal'.
Eventually they exit stage right for the TARDIS, which is hidden behind a monumental mess of placards and hand-made banners, and the Doctor is soon bombarded by Peri with questions about the phone, all leading up to the big one - and when can we buy one of those? Preferably in a nice blue tint?
And after a while, the Doctor folds and buys Peri a nice little model from some tech shop in Tokyo, cause where else are you going to buy a good phone these days?, all the while pocketing one for himself. That's when it all starts going to hell.
1. doctor in distress
He doesn't know how his mobile's number gets out, but it does, and the first call comes during a holiday in Wales. Someone mistakes him for roadside assistance and before the Doctor can correct his mistake is giving him directions to a broken-down motorbike on the side of the road, only a couple miles away from the Doctor's location. Curiouser and curiouser. Grumbling, he tells an also grumbling Peri to wait at the hotel while he sorts some business out, something chock full of "wibbley-wobbley timey-wimey" things.
The Doctor curses his own habit of helping complete strangers as he stomps through the rain and mud in his best galoshes, holding an old toolbox in his arms. Eventually he comes across where he's supposed to be, gets close enough to see the broken down motorbike with pockets of steam cascading from the gears, sees the driver, and curses some more in an ancient (and very rude) dialect of Gallifreyan. Oh, it's him. If there was a competition for smarmiest bastards on the planet, he'd take the blue ribbon every year.
"Oh, it's you." Gregory House frowns, rubs the stubble on his chin like he's considering a real dilemma. "So why are you here bothering me for? I'm not loving your choice of scenery for a social call."
"You called me," the Doctor says irritably, holding up his red and black mobile as physical proof before pocketing it again. He scowled. "Asked for roadside assistance for that piece of corrugated tin you call a motorbike. Thus the tool kit, unless you've lost a muscle in your eye as well since the last time we met."
"I must have - your sad excuse of an outfit has upgraded to a practically phosphorus level. That means really bright, in case you forgot your junior encyclopedia at home." House snorts, runs one hand through his wet hair. "So, my bike isn't going to fix itself---"
"Your bike? Your bike? Your bike?" The Doctor's face turns a particular shade of red bordering on pure scarlet. "I have no such obligations to such a pedestrian pediatrician as yourself---"
"Oh, pediatrician, good one, can't even remember I'm a diagnostician. But then memory goes with old age, as do looks---"
It is lucky that a licensed repairman happens to arrive on the scene a few minutes later, as the two men are at that point shouting at each other in close quarters, not even aware of getting completely drenched in the Welsh rainfall, close to fisticuffs.
2. frobisher, p.i.
The Doctor spends a great deal of (replaceable) money to get his mobile number removed from half of the phone books in the Milky Way. Peri doesn't understand why he scowls whenever they are in the vicinity of Plainsboro, New Jersey. Eventually, life goes on interrupted, save for the occasional alien coup on Earth and other such happenings.
She leaves for a bit to do her own thing, but that's okay. The Doctor spends those days traveling with a shape-shifting detective, and he can't get into half the places he could because they don't allow 'pets' - well, except for twenty-sixth century Sea World, they apparently take a shine to talking penguins.
And somehow Frobisher has a mobile too - being a private dick for the universe's most desperate must be busy work, after all. However, when his phone rings, the Doctor has to answer it. There's different ring tones for different callers, and apparently Frobisher really doesn't want to talk to someone whose ring tone is a polyphonic version of Chopin's Marche Funèbre.
For the second time in his lifetime, the Doctor curses that familiar unshakable habit as he and Frobisher end up walking several miles in the desert outside of Las Vegas, each lugging a heavy shovel on their back. Frobisher momentarily shifts into the form of a camel, although it is not clear if he does it for the physical advantages or to piss off a very sore and cranky Time Lord who only has two legs.
"I severely dislike both your friends and your occupation, you know that, Frobisher?"
"Third time you said so, Doc." The camel snorts hot air out of his nostrils.
"Yes, well, it's only in the marginal hopes that if I keep saying it, you'll learn something from it. Like, I don't know, make new friends."
"What are you then?" Frobisher says in response, and then there is silence, the kind of silence that usual forms between two close male friends forced into camaraderie flouncing through the desert with nothing but two shovels and a crappy GPS device.
"Ah - are we anywhere close?"
"Eh? These old camels ears can't hear---"
"I SAID, ARE WE ANYWHERE CLOSE?"
"Yup, right on top of it."
There is a lot of scrambling and arguing over who takes the first dig (which calls for Frobisher to go from camel to the familiar shape of an Antarctic bird) and they begin making a hole in the cracked, baked earth.
After five minutes, they unearth a long hollow wooden reed. Ten minutes of more digging (and a bit more scrambling), the Doctor and Frobisher are standing before a very dirty, very alive and very naked grown man, who is grinning like the proverbial cat who got the canary, even with the dusty reed jutting out of his mouth. For someone who's been buried in the middle of nowhere for several days, he has rather white and shiny teeth.
The Doctor, after a while, finally gets up the nerve to ask: "So . . . why exactly are you naked?"
After spitting the reed out in a most jaunty fashion, Captain Jack Harkness winks at the two. "That, my friends, is something best fitted for a long night in a hotel room with a case of booze and a whole lot of free time. And what a hell of a story it is."
3. roonil wazlib
It's 3 AM by the TARDIS' internal clock when the Doctor's mobile bursts to life with a digital version of "Brush Up Your Shakespeare". He gets to it before Peri in the adjoining room can be awakened by it (Frobisher has long since departed, on a case with that double decker-driving vixen the Time Lord knows all too well).
"HULLO? CAN YOU HEAR ME? I --- WANT --- TO --- TALK --- TO --- HARRY --- POTTER!"
"What--- Who is this? How'd you get---"
"THIS --- IS --- RON WEASLEY --- WHO --- ARE --- YOU?"
"I am known as the Doctor, but that's not important! Now, tell me, who gave you this number?"
"DO --- YOU --- KNOW --- HARRY --- POTTER?"
"Now, listen here you petulant child, get it through your head that not only do I not know who this Potter chap is, you have obviously reached a wrong number and do you have any idea what time it is?" Why the hell not, he figures. Guilt is guilt, even if not based in reason.
". . . SO --- YOU --- DON'T --- KNOW---"
He hangs up and spends the next hour in the library making rude comments in the margins of all his Harry Potter books, paying special attention to the epilogue in book seven.
4. ed is ed, who is who?
The fourth is less of a calling card than a real phone call. With Peri up and married to King Ycranos, winner of the loudest shriek in the galaxy award five times running, the Doctor now travels with Evelyn Smythe. She's a history professor with a love for chocolate. The Doctor is constantly reminded that despite being old enough to be most of his past companions' mothers, Miss Smythe can give as good as she gets.
It's during one of these reminders that the TARDIS gives a lurch mid-flight, the lights flicker off and on, and the microspeakers in the console start blaring bebop music - "Crazeology", Miles Davis and John Coltrane by the sound of it.
"Is this some kind of take-over attempt?" Evelyn shouts over the snare drum and trumpet.
"Probably!" the Doctor replies. "But at least they have good taste in music!"
Evelyn gives him a look equal to saying "Not the point, you thick headed git."
A polyphonic version of a random Gillbert & Sullivan song goes off, clashing harshly with the jazz coming from the console, which has now turned to "Nutty" by the Thelonious Monk Quartet. The Doctor retreats to a quiet room in the TARDIS (his bedroom, predictably) and answers the phone.
"Hello? Who is this?"
A cheerful androgynous voice answers. "Ed is Ed? Who are you? Do you like the music?" A cough. "Ooh, Ed thinks it's kinda dusty down here!"
The Doctor sputters for a moment before giving the mobile an evil glare and answers: "I am known as the Doctor and you are a very rude child. What have you done to my ship?"
"Ed hacked it! It was very easy, Ed thinks! Wanna see how I did it?"
"How would I---" The Doctor falls back several paces as he spots a thin tan arm wiggle out from under the bed. He hangs up the phone and pulls on the arm, and proceeds to fall back even further, this time onto his back. There's a girl on top of him, evident only by the feminine face and eyes. Her hair is wild and red, the same red as the spots on her cheek. Wearing a loose-fitting white tee and not-so-loose bicycle shorts, Ed doesn't look like a cyber hacker, especially not the type to hack into a TARDIS mid-light just for kicks.
"Oh --- it's you!" The Doctor pushes Ed off his chest, and sits up with a loud and pained grunt. Strains of John Coltrane and Miles Davis creep in from the console room. He wonders briefly if Evelyn is already getting irritated by the volume of so much American bebop in such a confined space, and half expects her to be coming in any second to see what the trouble's all about. (The idea that Evelyn might actually be fond of jazz, of course, never crosses the Time Lord's mind even for a second)
Ed rolls onto her haunches, then handstands onto the covers of the bed, fully revealing her bare feet on his good sheets. "Hello 'ello, Mister Six, did you miss me?" She makes a face at the Doctor before laughing it up, shaking the bed in the process.
The Doctor frowns and reaches under the bed, pulling out Ed's ragtag of a laptop. He starts to open it, but in one quick motion Ed leaps forward, grabs it from his hands, and begins using it herself. The music in the other room becomes less audible, then stops all together.
"See? Ed fixed it by herself. Ed doesn't like Mister Six touching Lappy cause last time --- hey!" She gives a yelp as the Doctor grabs her by the midsection and throws her light body over his shoulder, stomping his way back into the console room to be greeted by a clearly amused Evelyn.
The trip to Mars is long and agitating to the Time Lord, who is forced to endure Evelyn's wry comments on Edward possibly being his daughter from the future and said child bouncing around the console room, occasionally rolling into other rooms, forcing the man to chase after he lest she break something with her boundless energy.
He ends up sorely regretting that holiday to South America, that's for sure.
5. the end (last call)
The last call comes as the Doctor is lurking around the console, looking for a place to hide the 'healthy' snack foods Mel has pushed onto him that day. He had never tasted tofu mixed with nuts before, and after washing out half a bar of the concoction with a shot of the strongest mouthwash he could find, the blond man knew he never would again.
When the mobile rings, he's still trying to push away the thought of future sessions with the torture device Mel calls an exercise bike. She's a good girl, really, he thinks, but he doesn't know how much of this 'fitness' stuff he can take for long. As long as she never discovers the crumpled bag of jelly babies in his left pocket, though, he should be safe from going completely catatonic.
The Doctor answers his mobile, and immediately his ears are filled to the brim with a panicked, shrill voice. It's female and it doesn't sound like she's stopping for breath any time soon.
"Janine? Mom? Is that you? . . . (at this point, the Doctor realizes the call isn't for him, he's intruding on someone else's line, someone he knows very well) Oh God, I heard the worst news. I-It's the Doctor . . . yes, the guy who took me out of Lanzarote, Mom, just listen, for God's sake . . . Mom, he's dead, they killed him, somewhere called Lakertya, in mid-flight . . . I've already explained how it works, you don't understand, he's dead, my Doctor's dead---"
There is no more of Peri's voice coming from the phone, as it drops and breaks on the console floor. He never hears Peri cry over the space of many light-years to her mother in California of the time they spent together, the adventures they shared, God, how much she loved him, like no one else before him.
Mel walks in to see a pale-faced Doctor brush up bits of electronics from the floor and dispose of them in a rubbish bin in another room. He re-enters the console room a bit under the weather but calm, and when Mel asks him if he'll go work out with her in the exercise room sometime soon, she's surprised to hear him agree.
"Time I got into shape, isn't it?" the Doctor agrees, patting his sides chidingly, his fingers quivering ever so slightly. He comes around the controls and squeezes Mel on the shoulder. "Now, how about that vacation I promised you, hmm? I was thinking Blackp---"
The console room shakes and echoes with the sound of blaster fire bombarding wood. They rocked back and forth, attempting to grab onto one of the panels or at least the unmoveable hat stand. It takes him a second to check the scanner, to see the planet the combination of lasers and tractor beam is pulling them towards. Lakertya. He's already dead. He's breathing raggedly and darting around trying to put the TARDIS to right. He sees Mel cowering as she clings to the console with all of her might. Sweet child, he can't help but think, poor thing. Their eyes lock, and the Doctor smiles. He smiles like he means it. And then he makes his move. After all, he thinks, we can't cause a time anomaly because of stubborn old me, can we? Oh, that wouldn't be becoming of a Time Lord of my stature.
With great force, he falls onto the edge of the console, and everything switches from bright lights and flashing sirens to a quiet, calming darkness. Finally, his work is done.