The Doctor carefully stepped out, sniffing at the air, Susan following.
"Oh, Grandfather, look. It's a junkyard! Why here?"
"Heh. Rather appropriate for her, I suppose, and a good hiding place. It's not that unlike where we found her, situationally, you know." He wandered off to the left, prodding at the piles of scrap and old machinery, then pulled out his spectacles and briefly examined the primitive lock on the gate to the street.
Behind him, Susan was looking back at their TARDIS with dismay. She gave a little stamp of her foot. "Oh that won't do. Look at it, Grandfather! It's a damaged cooling unit!"
"Eh?" He ambled back to see what was upsetting her. "Ah. Yes, a, eh, cold storage for foodstuffs, I presume."
"We can't leave it like that."
"Whyever not, child?"
"Because, well…it would look foolish! Who climbs inside one of those every day? I want it changed."
"Changed?" He tucked his spectacles away. "It's perfectly fine."
"No, it's not!"
The Doctor shook his head in silent judgment on youth and all of its opinionated noise. Susan's lower lip began to come out into a pout and he sighed. "All right, all right. Let me see now…hm…" He disappeared into the dented refrigerator and a hum was heard. The shape shimmered slightly and shifted.
The tall petrol-pump had no obvious door, but the Doctor stepped out of it anyway. He fingered his lapels and looked up at it with approval, . "How's that?"
Susan stood back and crossed her arms critically. "That's not much of an improvement. At least the other one had a door."
"Very well then," he said, distinctly annoyed, "If you're so determined to be particular about it, we will shift it until you're satisfied. Hmph." She opened her mouth to protest, but he'd already turned back, disappearing into the body of the pump.
The pump shifted and recoloured. He stuck his head out of what appeared to be a tall stack of wooden crates. "Well?"
"It says 'Danger! Combustible!'" she pointed out. "Does it have to say that?"
He took a step out and glanced up at it. "Why? Are you expecting arsonists for company? Really, I must say…"
"Can't it at least change the wording?"
He marched back inside. There was a hum and the crates expanded and shifted. Susan tapped her foot. "It's a… we can't live in that!"
He came out. "Why not, I ask you?"
"It’s a horrid, old rusted lorry!"
"Well, I think the, eh, wording on the side is rather fetching. Very decorative."
"It says 'Happy Nappies'." She covered her face with her hands in dismay. "Oh please, Grandfather, no!"
He took a breath. "All right. I'll adapt the parameters then. I think part of the 'problem' is it is doing what it is supposed to do and blending in with a junkyard. If I set it to encompass the surrounding streets, will that be sufficient for you?"
She peeked out from her fingers. "Yes," she said in a smaller voice. "Just please, please get rid of that lorry!"
He tapped the ground with his walking stick. "No one else is bothered by this."
Muttering something under his breath, he stepped back into the bedraggled vehicle. There was a pause and once more a hum. He looked out of a rusty wrought-iron bus shelter for approval, took one look at her face and went back inside. Another hum, and a bit of a grinding sound and it had morphed into a closed news kiosk.
The Doctor stepped out. "Now, that's better. And I wonder, did you notice an odd noise that time? I wonder if it isn't straining her chameleon circuit a bit, all this changing about."
Susan just shook her head. "People will notice! They give out newspapers every morning on Earth, at least I'm pretty sure they do. It can't just be closed. They'll be knocking at our door."
He rubbed his chin and considered the papers and notices plastered on the kiosk; some of the events sounded mildly interesting. "Do you really think so? In a junkyard?"
She looked exasperated. "You know what I mean. It just isn't going to work!"
"I know what you mean? I sincerely doubt that," he chuckled.
"All right, all right…" He went into the kiosk, shutting the door after him. There was a prolonged hum with a noticeable buzzing, then it slowly changed colour again. The Doctor climbed up out of a large, dry granite fountain and raised his brows at the cavorting, buxom nymphs with their Grecian urns overhead. Without a word he stepped back in to try again.
The TARDIS hummed, groaned and buzzed. After a long moment, the fountain flattened and elongated, then settled into a new shape.
His white hair popped out of the side of a huge writing desk, followed by the rest of him. Straightening his back he smiled and tapped it with his cane. "Ah, there we go. More like it. I must say, that circuit doesn't sound right at all, did you notice that, eh, buzzing…?"
"A writing desk?"
"Yes, a writing desk. As I said, there was a distinct circuitry…"
"Grandfather, we can't live in a writing desk out of doors. I mean, there's a blotter!"
"It isn't a real writing desk, child. The blotter will be fine. I'm more concerned about…"
Susan waved her arms with frustration. "I know it isn't a real one, that's exactly the problem. Who leaves a nice, wood writing desk sitting out in the open like this? No one!"
"It's obviously picking up items from inside the houses as well as out, then. Or maybe someone did leave one out, how should I know?" the Doctor grumbled. "It's going to stay a writing desk. The chameleon circuit…"
Susan burst into tears.
"Now, now. None of that," he chided. "Really, Susan! What's come over you? I brought you here, right near that school you're signed up for, I might mention. I said you could stay…"
"B-but you don't even care that we're going to be living in a d-desk! Out in the m-middle of a yard!"
"It isn't as if you're going to be entertaining visitors." Still, the Doctor was looking more and more discomfited as she sobbed. All this being alone had been hard on her. Maybe one more try, then he could run some diagnostics on that chameleon circuit. "All right," he said, putting an arm around her. He tugged a neatly folded handkerchief from his pocket and handed it to her to mop her face with. "Let's give it one more go, shall we?"
"Th-thank you," she said in a small voice.
"But," he said more sternly, "this is absolutely the last time."
He patted her shoulder, then stooped and entered the writing desk. There was a long pause followed by a wheezing buzz and hum. The buzz grew louder as the desk slowly contracted and grew taller, shifting from mahogany-brown to blue.
It was a London police call-box.
There was a loud pop and a fizzing noise. The Doctor abruptly opened the door, frowning as he waved wisps of smoke away from his face. "That's done it," he pronounced gravely. "The circuit's overloaded, just as I feared. We'll have to see about fixing it of course, assuming we can..."
Susan blinked up at the tall blue box and looked at her grandfather's face. He was obviously biting his tongue to keep from blaming her and his eyes dared her to say anything against the current form, no matter what it was.
She sniffled slightly, folding the handkerchief, and tried a timid smile. The Doctor looked from her to the blinking light on the top of the box as she reached out to take his arm.
He looked down at her at this, and patted her hand. "I think blue is quite suitable," he said after a moment.
She nodded, still contrite. "It's a lovely shade of blue. I like it."
"Only blue police-box we've ever lived in."
"The very best blue police-box in the entire universe."
"Couldn't be more perfect."
"Yes. Well, seeing as you approve, how about we go take a walk now. You can show me this school of yours."
Susan smiled up at him. "Thank you, Grandfather."