Global Search and Replace;Doctor Who;Jo Grant;Katy Manning;Third Doctor;Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart;Jon Pertwee;Jeri Massi
Global Search and Replace
Set After The Claws of Axos
The only thing Jo hated more than judo practice was judo practice when the Doctor was in a bad mood.
He lunged forward and tried to pin her arms to her sides and pick her up. She twisted around in the grip, slid her shoulder under his arm, pushed her hip into him, and bowed forward. "Ki-ai!" she shouted. Theoretically, he should have toppled over her shoulder to the floor. But just as she leaned as far forward as she could go, he slid his left arm behind her back like a bar, twisted sideways in a complete turn, and flipped her right up over his shoulder.
"Don't stop now! Try something else!" he shouted. Looking on, Mike Yates laughed outright before catching himself, and Sgt. Benton looked down to hide a smile.
"Argh!" she exclaimed, and she slid her am like a bar across his throat. But before she could use her other arm as a bar behind the neck to subdue him, he rolled her off his shoulder face first and then caught her by her legs before she hit the floor.
"Doctor, let me go!" she shouted.
"All right, but you're perfectly miserable at defending yourself!" he exclaimed. "And you two, stop laughing!" The two UNIT soldiers became as grave as church wardens.
Fists on his hips, the Doctor glared at Jo as she stood up from the ancient mat that adorned UNIT's training room. She dusted off the loose, heavy tunic of the borrowed judo gi. "I don't understand. I was fabulous at this during my training," she said.
Mike Yates, ever gallant, stepped forward. "Come on Jo, have a go with somebody closer to you in size."
He glanced at the Doctor as Jo took hold of his sleeve and tunic lapel. "After all, Doctor, you're sixteen inches taller than she is," he said soothingly.
"Well, I beg your pardon! I should have realized that most criminal types are short anyway!"
Jo instantly stepped under Mike's arm, got a tight push into his underarm and hip, and threw him over like a sack. "Oh well done!" he exclaimed as he hit the map and slapped down with his hand.
Before the Doctor could interject a critical remark, Benton stepped forward. "Come on Doc, give me a lesson. I've always relied on my fists in a fight. Let's see if I can't learn some of this chop-chop stuff."
"It is Judo!" the Doctor exclaimed. "Oh, very well. See if you can't put up a bit of resistance." He grappled with Benton, gripping sleeve and tunic in the traditional method. Just as he would have thrown, Benton attempted a counter. It was perfectly timed, but the tough, strong sergeant seemed to forget what to do halfway through. He got the Doctor partway off his feet, and then they both toppled to the mat. They landed in a pile with an ungraceful thump. Jo laughed in delight.
"I don't know why I waste my time!" the Doctor snapped as they struggled up to their feet. "And you!" he scolded Jo. "You can laugh now, but you're of no use to me if you can't make a reasonable attempt to defend yourself. It's bad enough that you don't know a thing about any real science."
Mike stepped forward without thinking, and the Doctor caught himself at the young Captain's eyes.
"I'm sorry," the Doctor said instantly. "Jo, I didn't mean that."
"I'm going to go get changed," she said, and walked off the mat.
"Doctor, that really was unnecessary," Mike Yates said to the Doctor in a low voice. "She is trying to please you."
Benton was moving towards the locker room, and Mike untied his brown belt and also walked away. "She practically lives her life around you."
The Doctor followed him. It was not typical of the Doctor to apologize once, let alone twice, but the memory of how he had tricked all of his comrades in the fight against Axos was still fresh. Though they were all grateful to him, his frank admission that he would have put UNIT as far behind him as possible if he could only have regained control of his TARDIS had somewhat dampened the affections of his young human friends toward him. And being stuck on earth in the second year of his exile, particularly on a stormy spring day like this, sometimes made him almost doggedly sociable. "Look, I truly am sorry I lost my temper," he said. What say I buy a round for all of us?" he asked. "I'll make it up to her. Were you going to the pub?"
At the door, Benton turned and nodded, and Mike cooled off. "That's very kind of you. I'm sure it will please her."
"I'll meet you out by Bessy," the Doctor said. "Won't be a minute. My wallet's downstairs at the lab."
For once he did not dawdle in the lab. But outside in the car park, nobody was in sight. The Doctor waited for about fifteen minutes, then went back inside to look around. But the men's locker room was empty.
"They've gone on without me," he said to nobody in particular. He returned to Bessy and drove off for the pub.
* * * *
Captain Yates and Jo Grant both preferred the booth-like tables, recessed ceiling lights, and false mahogany bar at Figleaf's to the plainer, less sophisticated pubs close to the HQ. By the time the Doctor arrived, the April night was becoming drizzly. Business-men and women were seated here and there, and the bar was more than half full. He spied the threesome from UNIT at their favorite booth
The Doctor summoned up all his charm and readied himself to be apologetic all over again. He strode to the table, interrupting their conversation.
"Look," he said humbly. "I do apologize for my behaviour." He looked down at Jo, who looked up at him, a half smile from Mike's latest joke on her face. Her eyes filled with complete incomprehension at this interruption. "Jo, I am very sorry for what I said." He told her gravely.
She still seemed to draw a blank. "Why, that's all right, sir."
He glanced at Mike, and the young captain, also slightly disarmed, stood and offered a hand. "I'm sorry," Mike Yates said. "You have us at some disadvantage." His quick eyes took in the Doctor's outlandish clothes and he refrained from shooting a second glance at Sgt. Benton.
The Doctor played along and shook hands. "I deserve this," he said. "Can we all be friends again?"
"Certainly. I'm Mike Yates and this is Sgt. Benton," Mike said. "Are you off to a fancy dress party?"
Mike Yates was a bit of a wag and a prankster, but he was not one to carry jokes to awkward limits. The Doctor glanced at Benton, who was sipping his beer and watching the Doctor with a frankly amused expression over the rim of the glass.
"Say, don't you know me?" the Doctor asked.
It seemed to dawn on the three of them that the newcomer had perhaps had a bit too much to drink. Mike became slightly more firm. "I'm sorry sir, you must have us mistaken for somebody else. Perhaps you're a bit confused."
"No," the Doctor said firmly. "I'm not confused. I do know you. You're employed at UNIT headquarters-"
"That's a bit obvious, isn't it sir?" Yates asked with a nod down at his own uniform.
"--Under Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart," the Doctor added. "And you recently encountered the Axons, who claimed to have a material that would end world hunger. Before that, you Captain Yates, had charge over disposing of the Thunderbolt missile-"
"That's enough," Yates said sharply. "No need to go into all that." He frowned at the Doctor, not convinced but now half persuaded that somebody who knew this much may be a danger. Then he obviously dismissed the worry. So far, nothing absolutely critical had been said. "Shall I have a cab hailed for you?" Yates asked him.
The Doctor glanced down at Jo, who was looking up at him with evident sympathy. "No," he said. "I'm sorry I disturbed you. Good night."
He walked away, and Mike sat down to the puzzled murmurs of Jo Grant and Sgt. Benton. Just as the time lord got to the front doors, he heard a loud laugh from Sgt. Benton and Jo called, "Doctor! Over here!"
He turned, rueful at having been so perfectly fooled, and was just in time to see a tall, elegant figure dressed in a perfectly tailored pinstriped suit cross the room from a side door. The Doctor stopped and gazed at this newcomer. He was young, with a full head of brown hair, clean shaven. Jo jumped up, and the well dressed stranger caught her in a very familiar and enthusiastic hug, then let her go and shook hands with the two men. Benton jumped up to buy him a pint, and Mike eagerly pulled the latest football pools from his pocket and laid them out on the table.
On impulse, the Doctor dropped into a chair at a small table. He ordered a glass of sherry and watched. At the table of four, the three men bowed their heads together over the football pools while Jo waited in patient boredom. Decisions were made and advice given. Laughing, Mike Yates handed the forms and a few notes to the newcomer, who tucked them into his pocket. Only then did it become clear to anybody watching that there was a sort of rivalry going on.
It was obvious that the normally shy Sgt. Benton was teasing Jo and telling her something funny-a role he usually left to Yates. Mike Yates wore an amused look on his face, but behind the eyes there was also an urgency to speak. And the third man, the one they had called the Doctor., he actually seemed to be the one that Jo Grant was the most attentive to. She watched his face carefully whenever he gave any answer to the others. He pretended not to notice this, but twice he rested an affectionate hand on her shoulder as he spoke to her. And then he stroked back her hair. The Doctor found himself getting to his feet. He caught himself and then sat down, unwilling to be noticed again.
The newcomer to the party at last excused himself, and Jo turned wistful eyes up to him. But he simply said goodnight to the three of them and hurried out. He went out through the side door. The Doctor rose and went through the front door.
By this time, the drizzle had turned to a downpour. Heedless of it, the Doctor rushed up the four steps of the entrance and bolted around the corner, determined to accost this impersonator. But the street, though choked with parked cars, was otherwise empty. The Doctor did not hesitate but rushed back to Bessy. Without bothering to put the top up, he drove for UNIT at top speed-or as much as traffic conditions would allow.
By policy, all personnel were to present proper ID before being admitted to any building on the campus. It was a rule that the Doctor had always ignored, and by habit he ignored it now. He pulled into the reserve parking lot, heedless of whistles shrilling behind him, and he raced through the rain for the main doors. People were shouting out on the grounds, but he had enough problems of his own. He strode down the main corridor for the lab, water streaming from him.
Mrs. Huxtable, the cleaning lady who sometimes doubled for tea service, was already at work with a mop at one of the side doors and a FLOOR WET notice nearby. Normally the Doctor afforded her a polite word or two, but now he hurried past. To his complete surprise, a brace of soldiers appeared from around a corner in front of him, barring his way.
"All right sir, what's the rush then?" one of them asked.
"I'm going to the lab!" the Doctor snapped. "Kindly get out of my way."
"You're in a security restricted building, sir," the second soldier said.
"Of course it's security restricted! It's UNIT headquarters, isn't it? Now get out of my way."
A voice behind him spoke. "You'll have to come with us, sir." He turned. Two more men were behind him, and there were four others marching briskly up the hallway, their faces fixed on him and set in stern lines. At the side doors, Mrs. Huxtable seemed to be busily mopping, but her bright, hard eyes weren't missing a thing.
The Doctor hesitated as he realized the current conditions. Nobody recognized him. He might have produced his pass card and ID, except that Jo kept track of all of that for him, and he had no idea where they were.
He raised a hand to his forehead. "I'm sorry," he said. "There was a bloke down the pub, said to meet him at UNIT headquarters-"
"Was it down the pub you were then, sir?" one of the soldiers asked. "Had a bit more than was good for you?"
"Well, this fellow said he would see me at the lab at UNIT-"
"Ah, that might just be the Doctor," one of the other soldiers said. "Bit of a jokester he is, especially when he's had a drop or two. Were you drinking together?"
The time lord looked sheepish. "Well, yes. I suppose we were."
"We'll just see you out to the front gate, sir."
Firmly but kindly, the Doctor was led out of the building and back to his car. A UNIT car in front and one behind him escorted him through the gate and then turned and drove away. The Doctor drove around the nearest corner, found a sidestreet, and finally saw to getting the top up to shed the rain that was pouring freely all over him.
He sat in the dark and pondered. The lights of UNIT's main building were plainly visible through the fence and hedges. Cars drove by at intervals, making for the gate or leaving. He even saw Yates, Benton, and Jo Grant drive past in Yates' car as they returned from Figleaf's.
A wavering light suddenly washed over him from the side, and he turned quickly.
"Excuse me Doctor."
He had expected some sort of attack, but now he saw that it was simply Mrs. Huxtable, bundled in an enormous, cheap slicker, an umbrella in one hand and a flashlight with uncertain beam in the other.
"Do you know me?" he asked.
"Ah do, sir. Ah don't know what come over them lads. What ever would we do without the Doctor?" she asked. "But Ah went down the lab, and there's another feller in there this very instant, callin' himself the Doctor. And t'ain't you at all, but Ah suppose you knew that."
"Would you like to come in?" he asked with a nod at the passenger seat.
"Well sir, Ah thought it might be better if I took you with me," she said. "Ah can get you in the service entrance in t'morning."
"That's a capital idea!" She stepped back as he got out. She handed the umbrella up to him so that he could hold it over the both of them. She was a sturdy, round woman on the far side of middle age. Her gray hair, curling in the dampness, peeped out from here and there under her rain hat. "You're a very noticeable feller," she added. "And a noticeable feller with no pass only gets led to the door. But Ah have an idea."
"What do you suggest, madam?" he asked her.
"My Harry now, he were dustman too until this past March when the cancer took him." She looked him up and down. "But once upon a time before he went down so badly from it, he were a big strapping fellow like you. Ah think Ah could fit you out so's you could pass unnoticed, sir."
"Then I shall place myself in your hands."
* * * *
An hour later, the Doctor found himself dry (except for his damp hair), wrapped up in a man's bulky robe, slippers on his feet. He sat on a chair in Mrs. Huxtable's tiny nook of a kitchen while she fussed over the stove. She thrust a mug of hot tea into his hands.
"Ah packed up all of Harry's things right away," she said as she stood poised over the skillet with a cooking fork in her hand. "But then Ah could never send them away," she confessed. "They've sat boxed up all these weeks. But it's just as well. His passes and paperwork are in the top drawer of the dresser. They might just do for you, sir, if you keep your head down."
"Mrs. Huxtable, it's not my plan to become a janitor longterm," he told her. "Only long enough to get through the doors."
"You're a great scientist, Doctor, cut out for more than sweepin'. But a janitor can get all over a building-especially when no one else is about. Wouldn't you like to do a good bit of scouting around before you confront that other feller?"
"Now you're just worried about losing your job," he said peevishly. "Isn't that more like it? You'll get into trouble if I get caught, and it worries you."
She brought his plate to the table and set it down before him. ""Mah job's all I have. Children's gone; husband's gone. Ah couldn't get up in the morning without my work to go to."
He looked down. She went back to the stove. "I beg your pardon, Mrs. Huxtable," he said in a quieter voice. "I am sorry. I'll be careful to behave discreetly."
She came back to the table with her own plate and mug.. Unexpectedly, he stood up and pulled out the remaining chair for her.
This pleased her. "Why thank you, Doctor." She sat down with a contented sigh. "Miss Grant. What about her? She don't know you, I reckon?"
He shook his head. "She doesn't know me."
"All right then, enough of trouble for the moment. Eat your victuals, man, and then we'll think about it. Is bangers and mash enough, then?"
"Yes, very good, thank you." He noticed that he had two sausages on his plate, and she had none, only potatoes. "Aren't you hungry?" he asked her.
"Sausages give me gas when I'm all het up sir. You eat yours, then."
Obviously accustomed to waiting on the people at the table, she finished before he did. She took her plate and mug to the sink, came back to the table, and without a trace of hesitation or self consciousness, applied a hand towel vigorously to his damp hair. She scrubbed his hair briskly with both hands. "You'll get deadly ill if we let you sleep with wet hair," she said. Then she took the towel out to dispose of it in the laundry basket. Slightly dazed, he gave his head a shake and then ran his hand through his hair to sweep it back.
After she had tidied the kitchen, they stepped into the tiny front room. Over a second round of tea they compared their notes and observations.
"Ah went down t'the lab after them fellers took you out," she reported. "I thought maybe it were me, don't you know, being mistaken on the real you. But when I peeped in and saw that big young feller stridin' about, it was as if the world had got turned on its head." She shot him a round-eyed glance to show her surprise. "And then t'young lady come in. And she always so proper, you know. Always a little bit afraid of you-"
"Afraid of me?" he echoed.
"Only when you're in one of your moods, sir-"
"One of my moods?"
"She come in all big-eyed-self conscious, like. She sidled up to him, like a teen-age girl might do, shy like, but wanting him to notice her. Whatever is the child about, I thought. Then they both saw me in the doorway, and I commenced to mopping. The young lady were red in the face when she saw I saw her. Then t'young feller laughed at her and teased her. What a vain little cock-a-whoop he is, I thought. High time I searched you out, so I did."
"I saw him at the pub," the Doctor told her. "He's playing them off against each other, in some ways encouraging the very worst in them, or at least encouraging them to let go of some of their inhibitions." He set down his mug. "It's as though he's always been here in my place. Do they think he fought the Autons with them? Does Jo think it was he with her in Stangmoor prison?"
"T'would explain the changes in her," Mrs. Huxtable said. "He's a dreadful flirt with her, and a great tease, Doctor. What would a young lady do if a great strong man like you saved her life now and again as you've done, but behaved that way all along? He's playing with her feelings."
"The real problem is to find out how he's doing this and to determine if I can undo it," he said.
"Ah leave that to you. That will take science and what you do best. But tomorrow, you can come in with me and we'll post a watch over that feller. Maybe there's others who will know you." She stood up. It was after ten, and he realized that she was ready for bed. "You'll be all right on the couch?" she asked.
"Fine, thank you." He stood up as she took their mugs to the kitchen. "You're being very kind, Mrs. Huxtable."
She returned from the kitchen and went to get blankets for him. "Why, it's nothin' at all, sir. They say you saved the whole entire planet. So I suppose it's only fair." She came back with several worn blankets neatly folded and handed them to him. "Good night, sir."
* * * *
The first thing to do once they got inside the main building the next morning was to get down to the lab. Mrs. Huxtable gave him a quick course in how to run the floor buffer and some advice on behaving as a janitor. "Dress you as Ah will, y'still carry yourself like you own the place!" she had warned him. "It's not enough to dress like the floor buffin' man, you have to act like 'im, too!"
Clad in grayed dungarees and an old cotton shirt from some long discarded attendant's uniform, the Doctor pulled his painter's cap low and kept his head down. He shuffled behind the buffing machine and came into the lab. He started his work by moving aside the smaller furniture and clutter. Eventually, he heard footsteps, and Sgt. Benton poked his head through the doorway.
"Have you seen the Doctor then?" Benton asked.
Cap low, head down, the Doctor shrugged and then shook his head. "No, not this morning, sir," he said. He turned away, switched on the buffer, and guided the big machine carefully in front of him in gentle sweeps.
Benton waited around, and a moment later the impersonator strode in. The real Doctor kept his head down and stayed turned the other away, intent on buffing the floor.
"Well, Benton," the impersonator said pleasantly. "What brings you down to the lab at this time of day?"
"Um. That horse sir. It did come in. I checked last night with my sister's young man. He said it did come in at three to one. So, if you don't mind . . . "
The impersonator gave a toss of his head and drew a sizable notebook from inside his handsome suitcoat. "You don't say, Sergeant! I don't know how I missed it. Right then! Sixty pounds to you, eh?"
"That's right, sir."
The Doctor squinted at them and then looked away. He got an image of the impersonator thumbing through leaf after leaf of money while Benton looked on hopefully "Now you see, Benton," the impersonator said. "You could take it all, but what about today's race? If you're flush, why stop now? That same horse is running today, I believe."
"All right then, Doctor. Put ten down for me."
"Right you are. And, uh, Sgt. Benton. Are you still speaking to Yates?"
The buffer under the Doctor's hands suddenly made a strange sound. He realized that it had scraped an extension cord that snaked from the workbench input socket to a high powered outlet in the wall. Just as he realized he should move away from it, the buffer head ripped the cord out of the wall and out of the workbench receptacle. The buffer head abruptly stopped and let out a shriek of gears straining to turn. Hastily, he switched off the machine. The buffer head, suddenly released from the tension of the motor, whipped back around in a swift, short counter turn. The plug of the cord smacked into his ankle at about thirty miles an hour. The Doctor cried out and fell over. The buffing machine fell on its side.
"Say, what are you doing over there?" the impersonator demanded.
"Not to worry, sir," the Doctor said in an appropriately humble voice as he gasped in pain. "Just a bit of an accident." For a moment he had to restrain himself from rolling around in agony. Gripping his ankle, he sat up. The impersonator was talking in a low voice to Benton. Despite the Doctor's superior hearing, he could not catch all of what was being said. But he did hear the stranger say, "Well I suppose you could have taken what Yates said as a joke, but I thought it a bit of a low blow. Still, it's good of you to let him off the hook."
The Doctor bent over the buffer, pried the pad off, and tried to disentangle the cord from the rotation gears.
After a murmured conversation, in which increasing levels of worry, anger, and injured feelings were noticeable in Benton's tone, the young Sergeant left. The gears were properly wrapped up with ruined power cord, and the Doctor knew the job needed some decent tools to get it unstuck, but he was loathe to leave. A few minutes later, Jo Grant entered.
"Hello Doctor," she said shyly, not like her usual, cheerful greeting that he was used to. He shot a furtive glance at her. All her gaze was fixed on this handsome intruder. The impersonator ignored her for several minutes as he examined some machinery at his work station, not even replying. A little at a loss, Jo wandered over to what she took to be the dustman and the ruined floor buffer.
"Having a bit of trouble?" she asked kindly, leaning over to inspect the damage.
He kept his head down and gentled his voice, hoping she would not recognize him from the pub. "Oh aye, Miss, just a dab," he said meekly.
She knelt down and peered at the workings of the buffer head. "Dear me. Looks like you got too close to the cord."
"Aye, ah'm afraid Ah did," he said.
She suddenly beamed up at him, the Jo he knew, cheerful and optimistic. "Would a screwdriver help you?"
"He's not ruining my screw drivers," the impersonator said. "Sonic or otherwise. Let him get one from the maintenance closet."
She would have stood to go retrieve one for him, but the Doctor as janitor said quickly, "No, no, Miss. I'll get it, but thank you."
"Oh, let her get it," the impersonator said. "I can spare her for a bit." He crossed to Jo as the Doctor hastily looked down. "But only for a bit," he added, crooking a finger under her chin. "I didn't save you from Stangmoor and Axos to have some old duffer take up your time. How are you this morning, Jo?" And now his voice was warm and concerned. "You're twice as pretty on rainy mornings, I think, my dear." He let her go and stepped back. "Go on then, get the man his screw driver if you like."
She went out. The Doctor found himself suddenly able to yank the cord out of the motor with his bare hands. As the impersonator leaned closer to take a look at the buffer head, the Doctor leaped up with a strangled yell and wrapped the cord around his adversary's throat. He pulled tight, cutting off the man's first yell of surprise.
Just to make sure that they both knew who would be in charge of this conversation, the Doctor threw the younger man into the heavy, reinforced wall, then snatched him back by the electrical cord.
"Now," he said in a low, dangerous voice, while his prisoner grabbed in futility at the cord. "Now that I've got your attention, tell me who in blazes you are, and what you've done to my friends, my lab, and my life!"
The air of careless unconcern dropped away, and the young man at once became servile. "Oh. Ha-ha. Why, it's you, Doctor. They said you might not think this so funny, but it's all in the name of higher education."
The Doctor jerked the cord tight on the man's throat. "Enough of this. I'll just choke you and be done with it!"
And he did, but before his prisoner quite lost consciousness, he released the tension. "Now are you going to answer me?"
"I'm-I'm a timelord. L-like you!" the young man gasped, his chest heaving.
"Like me!" the Doctor snapped. "Not like me! You turf accountant! You bookie! Playing one friend against the other and treating young girls badly! How have you done this? Answer me!"
"I'm a graduate student," he gasped. "I have permission from the Council to do this. It's a global search and replace experiment."
The Doctor did not loosen the grip any further. He was furiously angry. But now he was puzzled. "A what?"
"I-I went into the time stream. I replaced you with me in every individual instance of your existence. For them, I mean."
"You've done more than that! You've altered things!"
The graduate student nodded, his eyes big. "Say, could you, uh, let me go?"
The reply was a fierce choke that nearly wrung his head off. When the Doctor loosened the grip of the cord again, the student said, gasping, "Look old man, if you kill me, you're stuck forever as a nonentity in these people's lives. I mean, everybody else will know you, but not anybody here. I confined my replace operation to their individual strands of the time stream."
"But you changed events?" the Doctor asked.
"Only slightly, sir. Only slightly. I had to make a way for myself, so to speak, create a time stream I could find comfortable. It's all working beautifully, Doctor."
"What have you changed?" he demanded. "Tell me everything before I lose patience!"
"The girl-she's so pretty and sweet. I mean, what is romance anyway? I wanted to try it. I want to try everything. Look, Doctor, even the best of the humans is possessive and egotistical. It's like punching buttons to control them. I just wanted to know how they work, that's all! And what it's like to be admired."
The Doctor threw him into the wall again. "What did you change?" he roared.
"Just little things. I kissed her once; that's all. A little peck after the Axos incident. And I've managed to teach the young men that there is a method and science to wagering that will assure them a tidy income if they play a longterm strategy-"
"Filling your pockets with their money!" the Doctor snapped.
"Well, Doctor, I've got to make my living. I'm not nearly as ascetic as you are, nor do I have a TARDIS with a tidy fortune piled up inside."
"My TARDIS is still my own?"
"Of course sir. It exists independent of all time streams. I cannot take it over. It is yours."
At this honesty, the Doctor reluctantly released his captor. "Look here," the impersonator said. Gasping, he unwound the cord from his neck and let it drop. "You can kill me, and I cannot stop you. I mean, I'm a fighter only as much as you have been against the Silurians and the primords and the others, but even then it was just me superimposing my body on your actions. I don't know how you did it. I'm a pacifist, you see."
The Doctor put his fists on his hips in disgust, and the impersonator continued, "But if you kill me or imprison me or find some way to send me back, that's all there is, then. You're still stuck because you can't undo the global search and replace. Your friends will just think that the Doctor left and that there's a new dustman sweeping up the place. Just let me conclude the experiment, and then I'll replace your identity back over my actions in their strands of the time stream. You can pick up where I leave off."
"Do you honestly think that I want to be identified with these actions of yours?" the Doctor asked.
"But you can make amends, surely. I mean, each one of them owes you his or her life, Doctor. They know they can't survive without you. You can do anything you like with them. I just don't see the problem."
The Doctor very nearly grabbed him again, but just then Jo Grant entered. The impersonator dropped the servile attitude and picked up his condescending, slightly flirtatious face and tone of voice. "Why, here she is now. Look, my dear, we managed to get the cord loose." He hastily snatched it up and handed it to her. "You'd best dispose of it, Jo. Our clumsy dustman was just on his way out."
The Doctor righted the buffing machine and dragged it out.
* * * *
In the maintenance office, which was actually just an enormous tool closet that had an electric tea kettle on a shelf and a couple of stools, the Doctor held a conference of war with his new assistant.
"So you're what's called a timelord," Mrs. Huxtable said ponderously. "And this other feller as great as you has bumped you out of your place. And what's more-"
"What's more, by the time he leaves, he'll have so changed my life and my slot that it's going to be perfectly wretched!" the Doctor exclaimed. "And he'll have made life wretched for everybody else!"
"It's right unnerving to think that somebody could just--replace you like," she said. "Change things in your very life." Puzzled, she glanced at him. "But why do I know you? I know you full well, sir. And everybody else has forgotten you."
"I think he overlooked you, Mrs. Huxtable. He's not well acquainted with human societal structure. He did not take the janitorial services into account when he applied his global search and replace operation in the strands of the time stream here."
He drained his mug and checked the kettle. "And his abilities are limited. The Blinovitch limitation effect has not been entirely overthrown. This fellow is just pushing the envelope a bit."
"It's still 'orrible. And you feel downright violated. I can see that."
The Doctor made a noise of frustration. "He's not just ruining my life, Mrs. Huxtable. He's ruining theirs. He's taking advantage of who I am to exploit their human frailties."
She was silent. She stood up and rummaged through the tins on the shelf until she found some digestive biscuits. "This will sit right with you," she said, and handed him one. She sat down again and made her pronouncement. "What you are forgetting, Doctor," she said. "Is that you really are the Doctor. You really are. All the greatness is still with you, and he's still just a silly young fool. You mustn't let his position intimidate you."
Munching the biscuit, the Doctor looked at her in some puzzlement. "What's that?"
"I mean it. Over ride the bugger. He's a silly, conceited young man, and he's no match for you. If you'll pardon my language, you should kick his arse down steps!"
He looked at her in some thought and said at last, "Mrs. Huxtable, I believe you have found the answer."
* * * *
After lunch, the Doctor, as Jo knew him, was more communicative, she thought. She had not forgotten his apology to her after the Axos incident, nor his sudden, passionate kiss. Immediately, of course, he had said to her, "I'm sorry. I didn't mean that. I mean, I meant it, Jo. But I'm not allowed to mean it. A timelord mustn't do those sorts of things." And then he had seized her hands in his. "Oh Jo! We will be friends, won't we! You'll forgive me for fooling you and making you cry?" And then, as though overcome, he had strode away.
Since then, she had waited for him. All she knew was that some law forbidding him to love her had stopped his kiss. And it explained why sometimes he treated her so coldly. He was afraid to violate his ethics and his laws and state his love. Yet there were moments, too, when his eyes were fixed on hers with longing, when it seemed that he could not be happy unless he pleased her with some word of kindness or some little gesture of courtesy.
And now today, at last, with the lab door closed, he suddenly took her hand as she handed him the portable ammeter.
"How fine and delicate your hands are, Jo," he said. "What a study of perfection in the human form." He met her eye. "The timelords declare that we are unable to appreciate such perfection except in the coldest, most detached way. So I must marvel at the efficiency of genetic trait distribution." He gently pulled her closer by the hand. "But I wonder if genetic expression ever made a timelord feel as I feel."
He looked down at her. She couldn't answer him because she couldn't speak at all. She had experienced his gallantry and tenderness at Stangmoor; it was then that she had truly come to hold him in awe. Now to have him at last condescend to truly notice her and admire her was more than she had dared to hope for, and yet was everything she had hoped for. Especially since that brief, interrupted kiss after the Axos incident.
"Why don't you speak?" he asked her. "Why don't you answer me? Do I frighten you? I don't mean to. If I were free to do so, I would make you the happiest women in the cosmos. You deserve happiness."
"Why aren't you free?" she whispered.
"Passions have been driven out of me," he told her. "So I've been taught all my life."
"But how do you know?" she asked.
He lifted a hand and touched her cheek with his fingertips, then softly traced her cheekbone with the back of his hand. "I don't know," he whispered. "Will you show me? Will you let me find out? What is passion, Jo? Shall we find out together?"
He leaned closer to her, saw her close her eyes as she lifted her mouth to him. She was trembling in his arms.
The wet mop hit him right by the eye, and the soaking, reeking cotton strands wrapped around his eyes, nose, and chin. It splattered Jo as well, but not as severely.
"Oh, mah gracious Doctor, sir. Ah didn't see you there!" Mrs. Huxtable exclaimed. She turned back, the wet mop over her shoulder. She was pulling a wheeled bucket on a short rope like a leash. "Good gracious me! Whatever are you doin' here, sir? Miss? Ah come down to mop because the duty officer said the lab was empty for an hour or so."
"You stupid, clumsy woman!" the impersonator exclaimed, flinging back his wet and dirty hair. "How dare you, you hag! I'll have your job for this!"
Mrs. Huxtable dropped the mop and clasped her hands. "Oh please, Doctor! Don't take mah job!"
"Stop bleating at me, you slattern! Get out of here!"
"Please sir, Ah'm a widow. Mah poor Harry was taken off just this past March. Don't get me sacked." Tears appeared in her bright eyes.
Jo, also wiping dirty water from her face with her sleeve was instantly sympathetic. "Oh, we won't, Mrs. Huxtable," she said. "It's all right, isn't it Doctor?"
"All right for some-not for me!" he shouted. "You did that on purpose, you witch!"
"Oh, please don't shout at a poor old woman, Doctor," she pleaded.
"Listen, you tell that--that other janitor it's no good!" he exclaimed. "What I say is what we do around here. You and he are both in on this aren't you?"
"Please Doctor," Jo said, interceding. "It surely wasn't on purpose."
He threw a furious glance at her. "What do you know of this!"
And he stormed out the lab door. Both Jo and Mrs. Huxtable heard the tremendous crash as his fell. They ran to the door in time to see him sprawled on his back, right next to the FLOOR WET warning sign. The other janitor was there, offering a hand to the fallen timelord. "Are ya all right sir?" the white-haired janitor asked.
"You did this on purpose; well you can't attack me here in front of the girl!" the impersonator shouted. Jo frowned, puzzled. "I know what you're doing!" he exclaimed. He meant to jump to his feet, but the water was exceptionally slick, as though somebody had added oil to it. He fell forward onto his face. He rolled over as the janitor would have assisted him to his feet. "I'll get you fired. I've got the Brig's ear. He doesn't know you from Adam, you old fool! You'll be thrown out. I'll do what I like, do you hear me! I've got you now!" He kept struggling and floundering, but couldn't get to his feet.
"Perhaps you'd like a cup of tea first," the janitor said meekly. He at last set his own mop down and hauled the man that Jo knew as the Doctor to his feet and set him upright. This did nothing to amend the situation. The soaking wet and thoroughly greased timelord strode up the hall, slipping and sliding slightly.
"I'll clean up that mess from mah bucket," Mrs. Huxtable said. "You'd perhaps want to see to the young lady, Bill."
The tall, white haired janitor nodded and carefully stepped into the room. He took off his hat. Mrs. Huxtable went past him and busily attended to the floor. The janitor closed the door again and turned to Jo.
He handed her his handkerchief. "You've got mop water on your face, Miss," he said gently.
"Oh, thank you." She rubbed at her face. "Look, I know the Doctor's angry, but he'll cool off. He won't have you fired."
"Miss Grant," the man said gently, but with new authority. She looked up at him. He was looking at her steadily. "Please accept a word from one who cares about your happiness," he said seriously. "You're a fine young woman, one with many happy prospects. You are being trifled with."
"Oh, I know that would seem that way--" she began.
He took her hands, gently. There was no trace of his meek, janitor-like bearing now. "If you could only see what others see," he told her. "When a brave man loves a woman, he speaks his mind. He doesn't torment her with uncertainties and half truths. If that timelord loved you, he would value your feelings and not make you suffer."
"But he's different from men--" she began.
"I know my dear." She looked up into the great quiet eyes and for a moment was speechless.
He spoke earnestly. "The young woman who defied the Master and his criminal gang, and who so bravely faced the Keller machine deserves more than mere flirtation," he said. "He has made you self-conscious, uncertain, embarrassed, and overly dependent on his every mood. Loving you one way or the other, he would not do what he is doing. He would exercise kindness and consideration towards you." He hesitated, suddenly aware of his own bad moods around Jo, and so he added, "Time lords are an imperious bunch, maybe too conceited for our own good. But it is wrong to deliberately manipulate people, and that is what he is doing to you."
"Who are you?" she asked. "Why, you're the man from the pub." He only looked at her, his eyes quiet, but slightly sad. She took in his presence, his eyes, his bearing. And then she asked, "Are--are you a timelord?"
"Yes," he said. "Will you keep my secret for a little while?"
"But he was so brave and good to me in the prison--" she began.
"He is not the same person. He's changed. I don't want to destroy him, Miss Grant, but prevent him from destroying you and from destroying friendships here that you've cultivated for the past six months. Won't you trust me for a little while? Please, resist him."
She didn't answer him, but he was sure of her. He strode out and made for the duty room.
Upstairs, Benton and Yates, arguing furiously with each other, strode up towards the staff office and were accosted by the janitor.
"Sergeant." The white haired man said. "Captain, please. A word, gentlemen, before you say things you'll regret."
Benton stopped. "Yes?"
Yates subsided in angry and defensive silence
"Look here, I think I need to show you both something." And he drew the impersonator's notebook out of his shirt.
"Now look here, where did you get that?" Benton demanded.
"The point is, it's loaded with evidence that the feller running this operation is stealing money from you; from all of you," the Doctor said. "Just take a look, and if it isn't so, you can have my job."
Benton hesitated, then seized the notebook. It had been efficiently filled in with neat columns and figures: horses, races, betters, odds, takes, and what was actually paid off. Yates, forgetting their squabble for a moment, peered over his shoulder to take a look. He flipped to the records of the football pools.
"I'll be blowed!" Benton exclaimed. "He has been cheating us!"
"You and Captain Yates first and foremost," the janitor said. "To be truthful with you sir, I suspected as much when I overheard you two this morning. I picked his pocket just now downstairs. He's making a tidy sum off of you fellows. He knows who trusts him and he under reports the takes to them. You see there that he's honest with some of the others, probably because they double-check."
"I'll keep this," Benton told him. "Some of our mates will want to see it."
"Right sir. And, er, sorry I interrupted your discussion."
Benton and Yates glanced at each other, a trifle shamefaced.
"I've wanted to make your acquaintance for ever so long," the Doctor said. "I've heard the way you two stood up in that Axos incident. They tell us you was the last ones away from there when the attack started. Wasn't you a bit scared?"
Yates nodded. "I certainly was." Benton looked down.
"Aye there's nothing like the friends you make on the battlefield," the Doctor said. "Good day, sirs."
He walked meekly away. It wasn't until Benton and Yates were out of ear shot that he started whistling a cheerful little tune as he made his way down to the lab.
* * * *
Not many hours later, there was a furious scrabbling at the lab doors, and the impersonator raced in. He spied the Doctor, clad in the magenta smoking jacket and narrow trousers, standing indolently at the door of the TARDIS. At sight of him, the younger timelord exclaimed, "All right! All right! You win! The experiment is over." He raced to a computer that he had set up in one corner. He punched up a sequence. Nothing happened. He tried again. Then he raced to the doors and locked them. He raced back to the computers. The Doctor examined his finger nails.
"You've shut it down you fool!" the impersonator cried. "Now we're both trapped!"
"I rather like my new lot in life," the Doctor told him. Somebody started to pound furiously on the lab doors. "I'm the poor but honest janitor who gives exceedingly wise advice. It's a role I could learn to live with."
"Give us our money!" a husky man's voice shouted from outside.
"Look, do something. What have you done to my program and transmission station? There's no power!"
"Of course not. Did you think I wouldn't figure out that you were powering my own downfall from my own TARDIS?" the Doctor asked. "I shut it down."
Several muscular shoulders were now being applied to the doors.
"By the way," the Doctor told him. "I believe that Mrs. Huxtable has spent a portion of the evening pouring out her concerns for Miss Grant's welfare to Captain Yates and Sgt. Benton. Unless I'm much mistaken, once they get their money back, they will attempt to defend her honor."
The impersonator backed away from the sound of the blows on the door. He was nearly screaming. "You really don't mind being a janitor forever?"
"Well," the Doctor thrust his hand in his pockets. "It comes down to a choice. Either you stay the Doctor and I stay Bill the janitor until my exile is over, or you undo the experiment. I checked your program. You've got an emergency undo function under a password. I added in a few new sequences to cover the last two days. I don't want them remembering any particle of you."
"My doctoral degree is resting on this! Are you mad?" he screamed. "If we undo it, my life's work is in ruins!"
The doors were now bulging inward as the whole platoon of men rammed into them with something. Each time it was rammed, the crack of the middle seam of the two doors widened a little more.
"I'm sure you can be awarded the degree posthumously," the Doctor said. "Or you could give me the password, and I will activate the undo function from my own console, as well as implementing my little patch program to replace your actions with mine over the last two days."
There was a sound of metal buckling. "One in a million! It's one in a million!" the impersonator screamed. "That's the password!"
"Right then, come inside." The Doctor stepped back and allowed the impersonator to dart past him. The TARDIS doors closed just as the lab doors gave way under the onslaught of furious soldiers.
* * * *
Everything was quiet when the Doctor emerged from the TARDIS a few minutes later. The lab doors were intact and silent.
He crossed to them and swung them open like a man opens doors to the morning sun. He was just in time to welcome Mrs. Huxtable and Jo. "Well ladies, what brings you here?" he asked pleasantly.
"We were looking in the maintenance closet for that special cleanser," Jo said. "And then we had a cup of tea. I hope you don't mind."
"Not a bit."
"We never did find that cleanser," she added. The day was ending, and so she went off to find her jacket.
Mrs. Huxtable glanced up at him puzzled. "We weren't looking for cleanser," she said. "I took her in there to talk some sense into her about that other fellow." She glanced around the room. "Where is he then? Is the plan working?"
"The plan has worked," the Doctor told her. "As far as Jo knows, it's been an ordinary day. In her particular experience of time, she has gone with you to look for a special cleanser that I use on some delicate equipment."
"And so you've been her Doctor all along!" Mrs. Huxtable exclaimed. She beamed. "We won, then, Doctor, didn't we?
He took her hands and smiled down at her. "We did, Mrs. Huxtable."
"Well," She was suddenly shy as she realized that he was great again. "Ah'd best be getting' home to mah supper, sir." And she made to walk away.
He stepped after her. "Please. Won't you have supper with me?"
Jo was just coming from the coat rack, shrugging her way into her jacket. Her mouth opened in surprise.
"I would be so honored," the Doctor said to Mrs. Huxtable. "Please join me." He glanced at Jo. "You too, Jo? Shall we make it a threesome?"
Jo caught herself. "Certainly. Love to." She cocked her head to the side and looked up at him.
"Why, thank you, Doctor! Ah'll get mah coat and meet you right here." Mrs. Huxtable hurried out.
"You must be feeling generous tonight, Doctor," Jo said.
"Mrs. Huxtable is a kind and generous woman, Jo," the Doctor told her. He looked down at her. He frowned. "Say, did anybody kiss you after Axos?" he asked sharply.
"What? No! Whatever are you talking about?"
He did not reply and then he said. "You know, I'm not a perfect scoundrel like some people are. I would have come back eventually and said goodbye to you."
"If you'd gotten away?" she asked. "Hardly. You might have meant to, but you'd have never gotten around to it. But I don't know where that old police box would have taken you anyway." She looked up at him and frowned, trying to figure out his mood, but he gave her no clue. When Mrs. Huxtable came back, he firmly put her hand in his right arm, took Jo's in his left arm, and escorted them up the hall.
Mrs. Huxtable sighed happily. "All's right with the world," she said.
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