In the 'Round (well, in its car park)...
The Eighth Doctor looked around his horde of companions, and rubbed his hands together. 'Right. Everybody ready for the off?'
'Remind me again.' Sam whispered to Fitz. 'Why are we doing this?'
'We needed a break from the stuff we go through in the books, the strip, the fanfic, the Round, the angst, the uncertainty....'
'I know _that_,' Sam hissed. 'What I want to know is... why are we _doing_ this, when the Doctor let the _author_ handle the travel arrangements?'
Fitz scratched his head. ' 'Cause he gave us first choice on where we wanted to go?'
'That's what _bothers_ me...'
The Doctor clapped his hands together. 'Quiet, please.'
The group fell silent.
The Doctor took out his fobwatch. 'Hmm. He's late. Should have been here-'
-Sorry I'm late- said a ragged voice. -I overslept...-
(Fey cocked a cynical eyebrow at this.)
'Well, everybody's prepared and ready to go.' the Doctor said happily.
He completely ignored the look of total bafflement on Ssard's face...
Ssard peered after the Doctor as he left, then asked Adric for a Martian brandy.
'I am... still unsure as to what having a holiday is meant to achieve.' Ssard said to no one in particular.
'Don't you have holidays on Mars?' Adric inquired.
'In my era, no. Not in the sense the Doctor talks about. There are religious pilgrimiges, and... visits to the domains of other Lords on matters of war and politics, but those, generally, are the only reason to leave one's domain.' Ssard mused. 'In the future, when my people are a more... accepted part of galactic society, there are some of us who have a 'holiday'... but it is not that common.'
'Oh, right.' Adric said. 'Well, what it means is the chance to take time off and relax.'
'Take time off.' Ssard repeated. 'This would be from jobs, if I have that correctly?'
'Well, yes...' 'So it would be a longer version of ssvere?'
'The time we have away from our role in the nest or the domain.' Ssard helpfully explained. 'What do you do on yours?'
'Well, I, er... learned to surf, one time... and I got eaten by dingoes in the Outback...' Adric managed to get out.
'If you do not mind my opinion, these seem more stressful then your actual job.' Ssard commented.
'So, by your example, humans set out to do _more_ strenuous things on holiday than they do at work.' Ssard looked at the ceiling. 'This is one of the reasons I fail to understand them sometimes...')
...the total and utter terror written over Anji's features...
Anji was sitting at her table with a _very_ tall lemonade, with a massive grin plastered over her face, when Benny came over.
'Wow. That _must_ be a good drink.' Benny noted.
Anji blinked. 'Oh. Oh, this? No, it's just that the Doctor's invited us all to go on holiday, and I said 'yeah', since I wanted to see what else you guys have around here...'
Benny raised an eyebrow. 'He didn't tell you what happened when _we_ went on holiday, did he?'
'No...' Anji said. 'Should he have?'
'Ooh, boy. Well, I don't know about the others, but the first time he tried taking *me* on holiday...'
After Benny had left (having noticed Jason attempting to chat up Liz), Anji sat for a moment, staring at her drink. Anyone looking in her direction might have noticed the sudden spasm of tremors which came over her hand.
Which was why, when Peri started doing her 'Summer Holiday' rendition, Anji suddenly screamed, wrestled the crossbow off Nyssa, shot the karaoke machine, and ran for her life...)
...Sam managing to convey the expectation of complete and utter doom...
'Okay, Hyspero was good... but you are _not_ seriously telling me that Kursaal and the Vega Station were meant as _holidays_...' Sam stated flatly.
The Doctor managed to look innocent. 'It was hardly _my_ fault about the Vega Station; _I_ didn't know that there were so many plans afoot there...'
'But if you hadn't won so much money, the management would hardly have felt the need to knock you off. _Would_ they?' Sam pointed out.
The Doctor tried another tack. 'Sam, I promise. Where we're going, there are going to be absolutely _no_ old enemies, no evils from the dawn of time, no tinpot dictators... It's just going to be a quiet holiday.' He gave Sam a big-eyed look (well, the PMEB kept swooning each time he tried it, so it obviously meant _something_...).
Sam finished off the apple juice. 'I've heard _that_ before... Okay. Word of honour that we'll have at least _one_ quiet stop on the trip?'
'Word of honour as a...' The Doctor frowned. 'Hmm. That's the problem with having a flexible history; your old constants don't apply... Word of honour as a Time Scout.'
'*You* were a Time Scout?' Sam spluttered her drink. And started laughing )
...Compassion conveying, through body language alone, that she'd rather be anywhere else, with anybody else...
Compassion gave the Doctor a cool, appraising stare. 'No.'
The Doctor pouted like a small child. 'It'll be a break, Compassion. No crazed Time Lords, no Faction Paradox, no being constantly on the run, the chance to choose where to go...'
'I know where I'd want to go, Doctor, and I seriously doubt any of the others could even survive there...' Compassion frowned, and stared at the Doctor. 'That's unusual...'
Briefly, the Doctor wondered if this was how other people felt when he used the sight. 'I wouldn't worry about the DNA, Compassion, that's...'
'I'm not talking about the DNA,' Compassion interrupted. 'Your future may be uncertain... but I should at least be able to see the conflicting possibilities. I can't... I'm coming.'
'Really?' the Doctor said.
'Really. It looks to be a fascinating opportunity to study temporal anomalies. Even if there _will_ have to be other people along...')
...Izzy putting her head in her hands and moaning gently...
The Doctor sat at the bar.
Busily pretending to wipe a glass, Chang Lee came over. 'Problem, Doc?'
The Doctor darted a quick look at Izzy, sitting alone in a quiet corner. 'Yes.'
Chang Lee followed the look. 'She's been like that for _weeks_. Just comes in here and sits down without talking to anyone...'
'Cliffhanger Syndrome,' the Doctor replied absently. 'She's uncertain whether she's alive or dead... and she won't know until the next DWM.'
'Can't you tell her what happens? I thought...' Chang Lee said.
The Doctor shook his head. 'One of the Laws of Time I _can't_ break, unfortunately. I can't tell her what happens.... because I don't _know_ what happens.'
'Can't you... you know... _do_ anything?' Lee asked. 'You did for me...'
The Doctor blinked. 'So simple... So simple. Take her on holiday. Take her mind off the future. Try to focus her on the _moment_, to deal with the future when it comes.That's _genius_, Lee!'
But the Doctor was already gone.)
...Fitz doing his absolute best to look as if he were a complete and utter stranger who'd just got caught up with these loonies, and Stacy behind him, trying to desperately force-evolve the power of invisibility...
'We're dead.' Fitz said.
_Why?_ Stacy asked.
'Well, you know that holiday the Doc's been banging on about?'
_Yes..._ Stacy said uncertainly.
Fitz gulped down another shot of the whisky. 'I took him up on the offer yeaterday. Said something about 'individual choice'; each one of us chooses a place, and we hop over to it...'
_What's the problem?_ Stacy asked.
'He said he was letting the _author_ handle the travel arrangements. The one who stuck us like this. The worst part is...' Fitz took another gulp of his drink. '...the others went along with it.'
Stacy considered this. _We're dead..._ )
...Fey wondering when they'd first meet a dictator out to conquer the world...
'You're _coming_?' the Doctor said in amazement.
Fey gave him an odd look. 'Naturally. I had some free time between tasks, and you're a friend, so... Besides, I was curious. I wanted to see what these continuities they'd developed in my future were.'
The Doctor blinked furiously. 'Well, er...'
'And I am hardly likely to tell anyone in the 1930s what gets established in the future. Rassilon made that _very_ clear when I started.' Fey pointed out.
'Good. Well. That's... er. That's fine.' the Doctor managed to get out, and quickly left for the toilet. Shortly afterwards, yelps of astonishment could be heard.
'Well, that, and that from what I've heard of your holidays, it'll be a chance for me to get in a refresher course on survival skills...' Fey added as an aside, with a wicked grin on her face.)
...and Kroton with a deeply embarrassed look on his faceplate...
(Earlier... 'So where big metal guy with big stick off to?'
Kroton sighed. He'd got enough shtick for this over the last few days...
He took in a large amount of air (his equivalent of a deep breath). 'Sunnydale.'
Francois looked momentarily baffled. Then his expression cleared. 'Ah, place where girl who kick vampire butt and tip _very_ heavily live.' He looked around, then whispered to Kroton in a conspiratorial tone. Which meant it carried across the room, the Ogron voicebox not being designed for this. Fortunately, they were alone. 'Francois has all the videos. ' He brightened up. 'Hey, big metal guy fan too? Francois planning to have all-night marathon on Saturday...'
Kroton's eyeholes whirred (his equivalent of a blink). _This_, he had not expected. 'No, sorry. I'll be on holiday come Saturday, and I want to check on an old friend of mine.'
'Oh.' Francois deflated. 'You couldn't get autograph for Francois? Francois big fan of Willow babe...'
As Francois continued, Kroton breathed silent a sigh of relief. He _really_ didn't want to get into discussing that alleged 'crush' he had on Buffy. Or that drabble...
...But still, it'd be... interesting... to see how things had gone for her since he'd last seen her...
So he was occasionally nostalgic. That came with having a soul, surely...)
-Err... right- the author said, who _had_ noticed the companions' expressions. -So...umm.. what's our first stop?-
The Doctor pulled a grubby sheet of paper out of his coat pocket. 'Let's see... Sunnydale, the Land of Dreams, FBI headquarters in Washington, Yomi, "someplace in the middle of nowhere", the Subreality Cafe... Ah, here we are. Gotham City.'
-Okay- the author said. -One PLOT Hole to Gotham coming up...-
The PLOT Hole opened.
And the Road Trip from Hell began...
Copyright 2001 Imran Inayat