Dear Mr. Doctor: Chapter Five
Subtitled “Unfortunate Situation of the Time Lord.” Crossposted to A Teaspoon And An Open Mind.
“Mmm…what? Oh…” sighed the Doctor, not understanding a bit.
“Temporal paradox, friend —” River reconsidered, “er, enemy of mine. They seem to follow us around like stray…” River was searching for a word.
“Adipose?” said the Doctor with a familiar goofy grin on his face.
“Stray Daleks,” River said, taking the obvious choice.
“Ah. That’s pretty apt as well,” said the Doctor, stretching out in his chair while completely ignoring the handcuffs.
“As I was saying, you gave me the sonic, but now you still have it,” said River, still pacing in her high heels while combing her hair.
“And why did I do that?” asked the Doctor, genuinely puzzled for what wasn’t the first time and wouldn’t be the last time on this trip.
“Now that I know you’re yet another of my growing list of mortal enemies, I wouldn’t do that unless I was unconscious, brainwashed, or…” The Doctor would have made hand motions, he was that sort of person, but handcuffs. He stared sharply at River.
“I believe you did it because you knew, know now, that you have to do it in the future,” commented River, completely ignoring the Doctor’s stare.
“Wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey isn’t helping me a bit here,” snarked the Doctor with an exasperated breath.
“The Curse of the Time Lord,” said River weightily.
“No, you’ve got it wrong. This is the Unfortunate Situation of the Time Lord.” The Doctor was a bit annoyed. He remembered naming those situations when he was in his first incarnation, sitting down with a thesaurus trying to be prepared. This one, well, it wasn’t quite as good as he remembered.
“Doesn’t have quite the ring to it.” River rolled her eyes.
“Indeed, but I was running out of synonyms.” said the Doctor sadly. His hair was drooping and he couldn’t push it back with handcuffs on. Also, nostalgia.
Another long moment passed, River pacing, the clink of her heels on the tiled floor, the Doctor sadly looking nowhere in particular. But then he realized something.
“Heyyyyy… where’s the President gone?”
“Oh blimey. Why won’t anyone let me meet the president properly?” The Doctor wondered if it was a conspiracy. He’d never met a single person who wanted him to meet the President, including the President himself.
“Jealousy.” River had decided one-word answers were better. They added to her mystique.
“You’re Britain’s presiding alien. America can get their own.”
The Doctor rolled his eyes. There was something to say about the power of human emotions…just not anything good.
“So you’re telling me…a situation of international security, interplanetary security, interuniversal security…” the Doctor raged. He needed a good shout once and a while.
“AND YOU’RE TELLING ME YOU RISK A WHOLE PLANET AND MORE, BILLIONS OF MILLIONS OF LIVES, FOR A LITTLE SPAT BETWEEN COUNTRIES?”
“Pretty much.” River was succinct.
“Humans,” the Doctor said with disgust.
“You could also say that there isn’t enough of you to go around.”
He looked at her, showing that he was still not amused. Well, trying to, anyway.
“There is nothing the President has done wrong,” the Doctor said.
The Doctor tried to rest his cheek on his fist and failed.
“So why are you keeping him there? What did he ever do?”
“Absolutely nothing,” said River, sitting down.
The Doctor laughed a cold, cynical laugh.
“Let him out.”
“Why?” River was doing her nails. Color-coordinated with her heels, of course.
“Because…” the Doctor searched for a way to reason with her, this woman he’d never known and now it didn’t seem ever would.
“River, you know about the Time Lords.” River didn’t look up.
“You know what I did to them.”
“Well, what I did to them, I can do to you.”
River looked at him with that patented ‘maybe when you’re older’ look. She thought to herself “Oh, you’re playing that card, are you?”
The Doctor trembled with rage.
“And I will.”
“AND I WILL! Just as soon as…”
“…you get out of those handcuffs?”
Still trembling, the Doctor stuttered:
“Yeah. Y-yes.” He looked into her eyes and River could see just how old he was. He took another deep breath.
“River, let him out.”
River laughed. It was all under control. She unlocked the President from the closet.
“It was never about him,” she said. “It was always about you.”
“Oh. Well, normally I like it when that happens, but this time…”
The Doctor sighed.
“…can it be about him?”