Never Change

by vegetables [Reviews - 0]

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  • All Ages
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  • Action/Adventure, Alternate Universe, Angst, Character Study, Drama, General, Introspection, Mixed, Series

“It’s not a problem, is it, though?” said John. “Having hairdryer people around.”

“It’s a problem,” said the Doctor as she fumbled through her pockets for a thing. “I’m not sure they’ll be here for much longer.”

She fumbled through ancient sweet wrappers as she fished out what she was looking for: a small blue sphere a bit like a rubber ball. As she held it the hologram of a spaceship flickered in its middle, all angular shapes stuck in a confusing way.

“So they have a spaceship?” said John. “That doesn’t seem like an issue.”

“It’s to scale,” said the Doctor flatly.

“But there’s nothing beside it!”

“That’s the issue. If you had stupidly amazing eyesight, you’d see a little dot about an eighth of a millimetre across. Which is the Earth, if the Earth would survive something that size appearing on it. It wouldn’t, of course; we’re a fly on a window screen.”

She mimed an insect splatting on glass, inappropriately. John’s mind tried to reel from the news his whole planet was in danger, then found it had reeled too much already. He just took it calmly, like a nurse hearing news of a death.

“I’d ask why they need it to be that large,” he said with a sigh, “but I’m guessing that we wouldn’t understand.”

“Smart!” said the Doctor with a smile. “Sensible words from a sensible name.”

“But what I also don’t understand,” he went on, “is how the ship gets here in the first place.”

“Ah! Now that I can help with, a bit. They construct it in an incomprehensible way, sort of twist it out of an object that’s lying around. Folding something through space until it’s something bigger, but it has to be the right sort of something to work at all. Don’t ask why.”

“I wasn’t going to!” said John.

“Also smart! Everyone should be called John Smith; the world’d be better then.” The Doctor was buzzing her sonic screwdriver over the Bendolene, watching as the creature tried to break free of the wire. It was straining in a particular direction, down the road that joined the street and towards the centre of the town.

“We’ll let Rosie go,” she said. “We’ll follow the Bendolene; they’ll lead us to whatever’s turning into their ship. And when we get there,” she smiled, “I’ll have a trick up my sleeve.”

She pulled a long, thin stick out of one cuff of her shirt, wincing slightly as it scraped against her arm.

“Did you put that there just to make the joke?” asked John wearily.

“Ah, questions,” said the Doctor happily. “This stick, it’s a sort of back-regenerative channel; my species use it when we want to talk to the people our friends once were. If it’s fully charged, we can talk to the people the Bendolene used to be; get them to understand that we don’t want the world to go splat. It’s just,” she said awkwardly, “I’ll need a little something from you.”

“I’m not going to like this; am I?” said John.

“’Fraid not. Charging the stick takes something with a huge regenerative potential– something that should’ve changed, but didn’t. And I’m afraid that means”–

“Me,” said John, his heart sinking. “You want me to sacrifice myself, to save the world.”

“Not you, you idiot,” said the Doctor. “Your clothes! I need you to take them off. Not all of them, of course. Just the vast majority.”

What?” said John, horrified.

“You thought I wanted you to die!” said the Doctor. “How is this more awful than that?”

“Dying to save people would be dignified. Stripping to do it is”–

“Nobody said anything about stripping”–

“I’m not taking off my clothes!”

Fine,” said the Doctor, throwing her hands in the air. “The planet’s destroyed now, everyone, but at least our John’s still got his dignity! There’s nothing for it, then.”

John stared at her. “You’re giving up?”

“I’m finding another way. We need clothes; we don’t have any time.” She looked at him. “You got any money on you?”

He remembered the change for the phone box, which seemed from a lifetime ago. “Some,” he said. “Not very much.”

“Then it’s settled, then!” said the Doctor. “We’re going to save the world. And we’re going to do it”–

—she paused dramatically—

–“in a charity shop.” She grinned to herself. “I do like these low-key adventures.” She looked at John. “How do you feel about running?”

“Hate it!” said John. “Always came last in our sports days.”

“Well, we don’t have a lot of time,” said the Doctor as she loosed the Bendolene from its bindings, “So you’re about to hate it an awful lot more.”

She darted off towards the town at an impossible speed without saying another word.

John let himself be perfectly still for one glorious moment, then sighed and ran as fast as he could as well.