Killer Bees Episode One;Always the Third Doctor!;Welcome to Jeri's Dr. Who fiction Page!;Doctor Who;UNIT;TARDIS;Third Doctor;Katy Manning;Jo Grant;The Master;Roger Delgado
Episode 1 Revised 12/08/96
Dedicated to Rebecca Anderson
The man opposite Jo Grant had an odd habit of fixing her with his eyes every few moments. He wasn't like those unpleasant middle-aged men who would watch her fixedly when they thought she wasn't looking. She could have endured that sort of rudeness on a long train ride. No, he did not hide it at all when he stared at her with his expressionless eye. It was as though she were some troublesome bug on a pin, some unidentifiable species, and he were the entymologist. At times his stare was austere and stern; at times puzzled. Then he would abruptly look out the window at the cluttered and cold landscape rolling by, as though dismissing her entirely from his attention.
But really, the worst part was that it was she who could not take her eyes off of him--not at all. He dressed like a gentleman of the old school: perfect pinstriping on the expensive suit, a tie of some school or other, and handsome bowler hat. He had neatly stowed his umbrella on the rack of the compartment, but from where she sat, she could see that it was an umbrella of the finer sort: wood stays and firm wooden handle. The reason that she watched him even more unguardedly than he watched her was that something seemed to be commanding her to do so. Hardly a word had passed between them since the train had left the station. And yet some magnetism in him was drawing her eyes and attention, though he did not seem to acknowledge her gaze. He did not rebuff her, and so they sat silently in their compartment, he alternating between watching fixedly out the window or watching her, and she looking at him almost without interruption, too rapt to realize that she was being ridiculous and rude.
With a sudden jolt, she remembered that only one person had ever drawn her attention in this way before. And she chided herself for having forgotten about the Doctor. He had also commanded her attention, and in that same unconscious way. He entered a room,and her eyes were instantly drawn to him. And not just hers. Everybody would feel that presence. But to her eyes, to her expectant gaze, there had always been from him a sure reply--even if just a glance and brief smile.
At the thought of the Doctor, the familiar pang of pain and grip of nervous fear returned to her. Three years ago she had said goodbye to him and her old familiar life at UNIT. And it had been two full years since she had last heard from him--a letter updating her on things and telling her he had received the blue crystal and would soon have everything put to rights. And then two years of silence. But the world had not ended in that time, and cataclysm had not come. Surely he was all right, then. Letters to travelers down the Amazon were easily lost, often stolen. And he had warned her early that he would prove to be an inconsistent letter writer. She wrung her hands together unconsciously, stared harder at the man across from her without meaning to, and prayed that the Doctor was all right. So many things had gone wrong since her blithe and optimistic flight into marriage and the dark, brooding rain forests.
"You look too tired, Miss," the man suddenly announced, unsmiling. He said it as though he were telling her the time. His eyes were fixed on her hands, which were wrung together in a tight knot of fear, loneliness, and grief. "You are very young. You ought to close your eyes for a few minutes." It sounded like an order.
He cocked an eyebrow at her startled expression, and when she did not immediately obey, he leaned towards her. With great emphasis, and holding her eye with his, he said, "Why don't you get some rest?"
For a moment she forgot all the strands and strings of memories and recollections that her mind was tying together. She forgot even that her marriage had failed, that Cliff was gone, that the expedition was in ruins after three unsuccessful and bankrupt years. The motion of the train underneath her suddenly seemed to carry her with it: the compartment seemed warmer than it had been a moment before, but a single gentle draft of cool air brushed past her face. She fell back against the seat, eyes closed. Her clasped hands relaxed.
Unexpectedly, the man's voice spoke again, but this time not to her, "No, don't touch her, you fool. There's not a moment to be wasted." There was a pause, and then a question: "Are you still ready to go through with it?"
"Yes," a second voice said. "Have you got the iodine for me?"
"Right here. Put out your arm and roll up your sleeve. This won't work indefinitely, you know."
The second voice made a slight sound as a man does when receiving a painful stick from an injection. "It doesn't have to, does it? That's the way. I'm on my feet, anyway, and will be for a few days."
What she was hearing began to puzzle and concern her, as the disorganized bits of a dream would trouble a person who is waking up. She struggled to open her eyes, embarrassed that she should be asleep with a stranger in the compartment. The second voice had sounded resigned and weary, but now it spoke sharply: "Couldn't you have been a bit more thorough? I warned you she would have a tough guard. She's been hypnotized before and has learned to resist it instinctively."
"Just lower your voice. No!" the first voice hissed, quieter but far more urgent. "Are you mad?"
"She'll sleep now. Look, there she goes. Just a little pressure over the eyes, very gently so that the optic nerve doesn't flash. . . "
The voice went on, but it was no longer articulate to her ears. Her mind collapsed into the rhythmic sea of sleep and the motion of the warm train across the cold landscape.
She woke up. The compartment was cooler, and she had fallen to a half reclining position in the seat on her side. The man across from her was gone. The train jolted lightly and the push of inertia told her that it was coming in to the station.
A cold English rain was falling on the station just outside of London when Jo got off the train. No one was there to meet her. But that was partially her fault. She had been vague to her relatives about her return, dodging questions from them on her exact schedule. She told herself that the next train ride from this station to Ostenbury would be her real trip home. There was plenty of time to let the family know when to meet her at the Ostenbury station.
But this trip _felt_ more like home--coming in to the little station outside the city, the station that UNIT had favored for dispatching missions and receiving visitors. It was not crowded and still retained something of the air of a friendly English town, though the London HQ was less than 20 minutes away by car.
In the chilling rain, it was considerably less cheerful than she remembered, and her own sense of foreboding returned to her. The one permanent shadow in her friendship with the Doctor had been the fear that he would leave and never come back. At first she had not understood this danger, but then there had been the Axos incident, when she realized that--if restored properly--the TARDIS could take him away, and that he wanted it to take him away. Back then, his only comment to her about leaving was that he would miss her.
But then there had been Devil's End. Only Jo knew how deeply moved the Doctor had been by her willingness to sacrifice herself to save him. It had been the turning point of their friendship, the point at which he had wanted her by his side on his cases, when he had seriously undertaken to be her teacher and mentor. Yet when the Timelords returned control of the TARDIS to him, she had worried again, for she knew by then that the desire to leave and to wander was a part of him. He could no more deny it to himself than he could have cut off his own hand. But he had given her the choice: she could go with him on his journeys, and she did. And yet still, she had worried that he would eventually have to leave her behind. In the end, it was she who had left him.
There had been no word for so long. Not that the Doctor was all that good at correspondence. His stream of letters had been fitful and irregular that first year, and she had hung on every one of them. At times the gentleness of his tone had warned her that he sensed her own misgivings on her venture as the months had unfolded, that he was reading in her careful letters a certain strain at times, her fear, her sense of being deserted. He was good at reading her, and she was not very deep, and she knew it. The brooding jungles of South America had been a far, far distance from the happy clutter of Wales, with its cheerful pubs and grudgingly tolerant miners. The Doctor may have sensed her own shock at the changes that had been worked in both her and in Cliff, her truant husband.
When had she received the last letter from the Doctor--almost two years ago? He had warned her that he felt ready to be rid of Earth for a while, ready to go out exploring. And in that same letter, he had written and told her about the changes in Mike Yates. To think of cheerful, carefree Mike Yates having a breakdown, betraying his dearest friends, betraying the Doctor. She almost couldn't stand to think of it.
She wondered how Mike would have fared if she had married him instead. For a moment she considered the tall, slender, handsome Captain: enthusiastic and brave. What had changed him? What had broken him, she wondered. In the early days, everybody had supposed that they would become a matched pair. Not that he had ever asked her for any commitment. And yet, it had often seemed that someday there would be time to adequately talk about what they wanted and what they hoped for in life. Someday there would have been time to pass on adventure and get on with life itself. She had very nearly been in love with him, once. But there had never been time.
Well, someday had come. She was alone in the raw cold and rain in a station outside London, and nobody knew where Mike had gone to recover, and she had not heard from the Doctor since the first year of her failed marriage.
"Need a cab, Miss?" a man asked her. He was a curiously dressed old duffer, with some crazy thing slung on his back and a heavy canvas sack hung around his neck. In the muzzy and chilling rain, he had a cloth like a towel draped over his head and clamped down with his dirty cap, so that she could not see his face very well. But even as he offered his help to her, he expertly slung the item off his back, and it resolved itself into a shoe stand, and the canvas sack the equipment for shining men's shoes. Before she could answer, he waved over another man who had been sipping tea from a vendor. "Oy! You got a rider!" he shouted.
"Thank you," Jo said. He ducked his head and shrugged before settling down to hawk customers. The cab driver hurried up to help the porter stowe her luggage, and she soon found herself on her way to the old HQ.
The three years of her absence had worked some changes in the scenery. London continued to expand--eating up ground that she thought could not have been further developed. She had spent two years firmly convinced and even preaching the good news that a greener environment would make for happier and more peaceful inhabitants. She knew better than that, now. The villagers in South America had been locked in the exact same power struggles as their English counterparts. Politics, intrigue, dishonesty made up the bulk of their lives--except for a few dear friends here and there who could not be bought, could not be corrupted, but could be murdered and done away with.
She turned her heart and thoughts away from the head man who had been of such help to them on the river. His death had been nothing but assassination, and justice had never been done on his behalf. No: once on the river the motto had become one of all for the project, all for the food, all for the good of the world, but less and less for the good of its individuals. She winced without realizing it. The cab man was talking.
"They'll want ID, Miss," he was saying. The windshield wipers flicked back and forth in the haze of rain, sloshing droplets back and forth. Using her own peculiar technique of projection, she let the windshield cry her tears so that she could answer without sobbing.
"Tell them I'm a guest of Sergeant Benton's," she directed.
UNIT HQ generated the odd feelings in her that a person gets when he or she visits a former home or school. All the familiar things were there, yet they no longer felt familiar. Her previous forebodings returned with something like a panic. Her old, old fear that the Doctor would really leave forever finally burst its bonds.
The front hallway was nearly unchanged: old water damage on the walls and cracked linoleum flooring underfoot. But she sensed the difference immediately. He was gone. Oh, why had she ever left him? He was gone, and she knew it. Had he still been there, the walls and floors would have echoed back her old optimism that she had once felt, that she knew now had been the echoing in herself of his optimism. He had generated happiness and confidence that her own open spirit had picked up and reflected. And it was gone, now, too.
She was led into the familiar undecorated waiting room where the soldiers were permitted to receive unauthorized visitors. Some enterprising individual had managed to get a soft drink machine installed.
Jo sat against the edge of one of the bare tables, but she did not have long to wait. Sergeant Benton burst through the doors, his honest and broad face alight with undisguised happiness at seeing her.
"Why Jo Grant," he said softly. "If you aren't a welcome sight after all this time--Where is your husband, then?"
Honest Sergeant Benton would always ask the most honest questions.
She tried to smile because she knew this was one of the worst moments--telling her old friends the truth, knowing that the old ties with them were now worn and would likely not sustain such heaviness. She had lost many friends simply from being grief stricken.
"Cliff has left me," she said.
Benton looked stricken for a moment, and she realized with another rending inside her that she had left behind what would have been lifelong friendships if she had stayed to cultivate them.
"So you've come back to stay?" he asked gently, and he put enough hopefulness into his voice to tell her that he, for one, would always be glad to see her and have her nearby.
"Yes, I have," she told him, blinking back the few stray tears that had gathered in her eyes.
"Then welcome home," and he hugged her quickly. He let her go and looked down at her, the ever ready, ever helpful Sergeant Benton. "Where are you staying?" he asked.
"Oh," she said. "I mean, I've come home to England to stay, but I'll be going up to spend some time with my family in Ostenbury," she told him. "I just wanted to stop in on the way. I wanted to see how everybody's doing."
"The Brig's gone up to some family do in Scotland," he told her. "Or I know he'd be pleased as punch to see you here."
"And do you know how Mike is?" she asked.
"Oh, he's back with government work somewhere," he told her vaguely.
"I heard about what happened--the time scoop and all that," she said.
He nodded and a flicker went across his face. "Well," he said steadily. "It was a shock of course. Put me in a bit of a tight spot with disobeying orders. But it's water under the bridge. I mean, he did redeem himself, didn't he?"
"Did he?" she asked.
"Yes, he was the one who tipped off the Brigadier and the late Doc about the spiders."
Her heart nearly stopped. Duty and guilt had dictated that questions about Mike must come before questions about the Doctor, but his offhand statement drove out all thoughts of anybody else except for the Doctor.
"What?" she gasped. "The late doc? The late Doctor? He's dead?"
Benton stopped, stunned at realizing that she did not know all that had passed "Didn't anybody contact you?" he asked. "Oh, what a stupid question! I suppose not. I'm sorry Jo. It wasn't a proper death, really--"
"Tell me!" she gasped.
"The Doc you knew--and remember, he was the second one I knew--he took on a sort of kingdom of the spiders. Yates helped him, Yates and that journalist, Sarah Jane Smith, but I guess you never met her."
"He was killed?" Jo asked.
"The spider queen, she did something to him. I don't rightly understand all of it," Benton told her. "It made his cells die off." As a whimper of pain came from Jo, he hurried to assure her. "But he didn't die like we would, Miss. He wandered around for a bit in that TARDIS of his, and it brought him back, and it seemed he was dead all right. And then he changed again. Regenerated, the Brig called it."
"So he's not dead?" she exclaimed hopefully.
With an insight she would not have expected, and a gentleness that brought back to her all their times on Devil's End, he took hold of her by the arms. He looked her in the face, and said. "I think you might say that he's dead to you now, Jo."
Before she could stop them, new tears gathered. "He doesn't remember me," she faltered. "Is that what you mean?"
"You were the dearest flower of his heart during his time," Benton said, talking about the Doctor that she had known. "You know there wasn't an insincere bone in his body, Miss."
She bowed her head and nodded. She had not heard much about the regeneration process, but from the little that had been discussed during her tenure, she had understood that the veil of regeneration was a thick one. It did not completely obscure the past, but it certainly made room for the Doctor to amass new experiences and a new personality.
"Would he recognize me?" she asked.
"Yes," he said. "Just," he added quietly.
"Oh, I've lost him," she whispered. Benton was a shy man, but he quietly put an arm around her as she wept.
"He's really gone anyway," he added. "He and Sarah Jane Smith left in the TARDIS. They've been gone ever so long now."
She wiped her eyes with her fingers, and was not very surprised to find him offering her his clean handkerchief. She patted her eyes and looked up at him. "Does he look the same?" she asked. She had met the Doctor once in his second regeneration and the incredible disparity of his face and physique from the version she knew had startled her.
"Still a tall chap," he conceded. "But all hair and teeth if you ask me. Smiles more--lots more. But--" he stopped himself.
"But?" she asked.
"Not quite as--not quite as warm, maybe. I dunno,the late Doc--" and she realized that this term was his way of differentiating the tall, white haired Doctor that she had known from his present self--"the late doc could be a rascal, couldn't he? But he was a bit more warm once you got to know him. Now, in his current form, you don't get to know him. Not really."
"Hard to picture," she said quietly. The Doctor she had known had frequently rebuked her, lectured her, scolded her, with a liberty that came only from complete confidence in being right and in being her friend and mentor. But he had been tender with her, too, amazingly tolerant when she considered the times she had disobeyed him and gone headlong into danger against his orders. Indeed, by the end, there had been nothing that she did not confide in him, no danger they had not shared together, no laughter or joy that he would have thought to have excluded her from. She tried to understand what he had been to her, but she did not understand. Even when she had fallen in love, she had been aware of trading a good, durable, permanent knowledge of one person for the opportunity of coming to know another. But with the other had come the human relationship of marriage. It had seemed so important, so very essential. The vows had seemed enough. Their happiness together had seemed enough.
"I don't know what he was to me," she whispered.
"Jo?" Benton asked. She had forgotten he was there. "I'm sorry," she said, looking up at him. "You must think I'm a great baby, standing here and blubbing like this. We knew all along that he wouldn't be tied to Earth forever."
"How long will you be in town?" he asked. "I get off at 1800. We could go down to that pub we used to go to--oh, the name's been changed since you left--What was it called?"
"I wish I could," she said automatically. "But I have to leave this afternoon." The very thought of going where they had all gone together to celebrate their victories, the very thought of being there and knowing that Mike had been ruined, her own Doctor killed, the adventures ended forever, was unendurable.
She knew she wasn't fooling him, but he was discreet, kind, and gentle with her always.
"You'll stop in again if you come through London?" he asked her.
"I will. Give my best to the Brigadier." She kissed his cheek, caught a faint whiff of the familiar aftershave that brought back a flood of fresh memories--each of them a small dagger--and hurried out, the tears once again collecting in her eyes. She called for a cab to take her back to the station.
The windshield wipers slogged back and forth on the windscreen of the cab. The rain had become heavier with the late afternoon. She let the whiff of Benton's aftershave, which clung to her briefly, take her back. She saw him again with the wind whipping back his hair, his lined face calm, but the coppery eyes keen with interest and curiosity as he scanned a new countryside. Where had she seen him like that? She could not remember which landscape it had been, or what adventure.
And now he was gone, forgotten even by his own self, a stranger who was not really the person she had known and loved so well and been so indebted to. The Doctor--her Doctor--had made her grow without pain; and now that she knew pain, she wanted him again, but that was part of the pain. He was gone, and this was a different sort of growing--a growing old rather than a growing up. The days of growing up were over; the days of growing old had only begun for her.
With a creak of brakes the cab pulled in at the station. The luggage was taken again. It was time to let her relations know she was on her way. She paid the driver and went in search of a phone. Out on the platform of the station, people were seeking shelter from the cold and driving rain. Another degree or two lower, and it would turn to sleet, she thought. She had not seen sleet in years.
A tall and slender man stood at the shoe station, getting a shine from the same old man who had assisted her earlier. The towel under the cap still shrouded his head. She would have passed them both without thinking, but as she did, the old man snapped his rag a little too vigorously, catching the other right on the ankle with a shot that looked almost deliberate, and his customer exclaimed, "All right, steady on!"
She turned instantly.
"Were one of them dang waterbugs, sor," the old man was saying, "I allus pops 'em." But the customer, sensing her sudden turn, also turned to look at her.
"Mike!" she exclaimed. It took a moment to recognize him, so changed he was from three years ago. But next thing she knew, he let out a great laugh that was all Mike Yates, and he caught her by the shoulders. "Jo!" he exclaimed, and for a moment all the changes vanished. Then suddenly he caught himself. "I say," he stammered. "What are you doing here? Where's your--"
"Gone, Mike," she said simply, and this time she did not cry or feel at all inclined to do so. If she had wronged Mike Yates, this was the time to right the wrong, or at least to begin righting it. And if she had not wronged him but could be of assistance to him, then she was resolved to be. Her thoughts of growing old vanished.
"You ready, sor?" the old man asked from where he knelt on the hard boards of the station.
"Oh! Right, sorry!" Mike said, putting his foot back on the bench.
"Look here," he said to Jo. "How long are you in town?"
"Not long," she told him. "But I'm back in the country to stay. My family are up in Ostenbury."
He glanced down at the shoe shiner, who now seemed to be concentrating with extraordinary attention to detail on the shoes. "That'll do, that'll do now," Mike said, paying him. "Well if this is just a whistle stop for you, let's go find a place to sit down. Have you got time for tea?"
"Plenty of time!" she assured him, and they set off from the station in the rain.
They found an encouraging little pub sparsely peopled, ordered lagers instead of tea, and sat down in a table nestled back in a corner near a window.
"Are you going up to UNIT?" she asked him once they were settled in.
"No, Jo," he told her with a bitter smile. "You haven't heard, but--"
She stopped him with a hand over his hand. "I heard," she said softly. "I'm sorry."
He inclined his head slightly. "No," he said carefully. "I'm sorry. If I had succeeded, you would never have been born, and that would have been one of the brightest lights of all snuffed out. I had no right."
"Sometimes we're lucky," she told him. "We're prevented from making the decisions that seem the best. Later we find out they were the worst choices we could have made." She looked down. "But we're not always prevented."
He looked at her with sober eyes as he took a long pull on his glass of lager. He set it down. "Do you want to tell me what happened?" he asked.
"He left me," she said simply. "It was his choice."
"Another woman?" he exclaimed softly. "I can hardly believe it--"
"Women," she corrected. "Some of the marital practices of the people we met were very different from ours."
He looked at her, speechless.
"Cliff thought we should adapt," she told him. "But I couldn't. I wouldn't. I meant my vows."
"I know you did," he said with a fervent quietness that she had never heard before. "Where is he now?" he asked her.
"Still there," she said. "It's not what you think, Mike. Circumstances--" Surprisingly, to her, the tears did well up in her eyes again, and she subdued them. "Circumstances changed him. Changed both of us. It was a hard life." She couldn't go on. She realized with a small pang of shock and grief that in spite of all, she felt sorry for Cliff, grieved for the loss of the idealism that he had buried on the shores of the river. His fall from the promises he had made her were really only a part of a much larger fall, a much larger loss, a much greater death in his soul.
"But he had you," Mike said softly.
"I wasn't enough," she told him. "I tried. I really tried, but I wasn't enough."
"Do you suppose there really is such a thing as love?" he asked her suddenly. "I mean, that it's not all just a biological function that we've mythified?"
"Those were his words too," she said softly, but curtly.
Mike was silent.
Her tears at hearing the sentiment expressed again could not be hidden, but she answered his silence with the bravery that she had not felt since her journeys with the Doctor. "Yes there is such a things as love," she affirmed. "I know because I have been loved, and because I did love. Even if it destroys us to do it, there is such a thing as love. It can be aped, and it can be faked, but it's still real, only very rare."
"I'm sorry," he said.
"I learned that I can't make anybody love me," she said, but she wasn't even looking at him, and her eyes had taken an expression of steel such as he had never seen in Jo. "But I can love--love with all the virtues. I won't let this ruin me from what I was--" and she stopped. For one moment, the image of her idealism, of their previous, innocent and enthusiastic friendship, of their victories together, all came back into her like a ghost momentarily returning to its body. She became again what she had been. And then it was gone. Mike, looking at her, suddenly spoke up.
"Come with me, Jo," he said. "I'm on a mission. Come with me. Please."
"No, Mike. I won't rush into anything again," she said. "But you can find me at Ostenbury."
"I don't mean it that way," he said. "Everything can be proper, Jo. But come with me. Work on the case with me. It's right up your alley."
"My train will be in," she warned him. "We'd better go. You haven't even told me what you're doing."
They stood up and pulled on their jackets. "I'm investigating an international conspiracy of sorts," he told her. "Looking for two children." She led him out, and he came closely behind her. "It's perfect for you, Jo, and it won't take any time at all to get you reactivated. You're cleared for top secret." He held the door open for her and they came out under the awning before the driving rain.
"I haven't even thought about what to do with myself yet," she told him. Just as he was unfurling his umbrella to put up over them, two arms slid around her shoulders, and she heard Mike yell.
She stomped desperately with her feet, hunting for the insteps of her attacker, caught a glimpse of the shoe shine man across the street, his face hooded over by the towel and cap, and heard Mike let out a strangled yell. There were two men on him. She struggled desperately, but the snick of a switchblade stopped her, and she saw that her own assailant had a knife at her throat.
"Stand still and you won't be hurt," he ordered, and she stopped. A car raced to the curb on the narrow street, and two more men jumped out of it. Mike was struggling terrifically. The shoe shine man had vanished.
The four men picked him up bodily and hoisted him into the back of the car, raining blows on him liberally. She was suddenly spun around and thrown face first at the pub door. She hit it with a loud crash and sank to the sidewalk.