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The Winter of Her Discontent

By LilacFree

Romance / Scifi

Chapter 1

“Doctor, you have evaded your responsibilities for far too long.  The disqualification of President Borusa leaves a gap at the very summit of the Time Lord hierarchy.  There is only one who can take his place.  Yet again it is my duty and my pleasure to inform you that the full Council has exercised its emergency powers to appoint you to the position of President, to take office immediately.”

“Oh, no.”

(“The Five Doctors”, Terrance Dicks, 1983)

The Doctor closed the outer door of the TARDIS and sent her off into the vortex.  His hands rested on the controls.  The lights of the churning Time Rotor stroked up and down his face.

“It’ll soon be good-bye then,” Tegan said regretfully.

“Will it?”  The Doctor looked over at Tegan, who turned to face him.  She had changed a great deal from the sullen air hostess who’d been his accidental passenger and he saw genuine affection in her eyes.

“Well,” Turlough slapped his hands together, “you’re off to Gallifrey to be President.  I suppose your Time Lord subjects will find a TARDIS that really works and get us both home.”  His sarcasm served to veil the sorrow the Doctor’s reluctant would-be assassin anticipated at this parting.

“Who said anything about sending you two home?  Gallifrey has been through enough upheaval.  I must do this.  And I would ask a favor of you two.  Come with me.  I don’t want the High Council left in any doubt of what sort of President is in office.  They called upon the Master for help.  I had you, and many other old friends.  I think it has been shown which path was the better choice.”

“Do you still need our help?  Is that what this is about, Doctor?”  Turlough fiddled with his tie, restless fingers giving away the speculation in his gaze.

“You can help as you think you may, but you are welcome, more than welcome, to enjoy the amenities of Gallifrey.  It is an exceedingly wealthy world.  You needn’t have anything to do with the Time Lords.”

“Isn’t it more like they needn’t have anything to do with us?  Maybe it’s not your way, Doctor, but Borusa looked at us like we were insects.”  Tegan tilted her chin up defiantly.  “And I hope you don’t expect me to blunt my tongue.  I’ve never had much luck at that.  Besides, I know you.  If you find something wrong you won’t rest until you’ve dragged it all out into the open.  I think your fellow Time Lords will be glad to see the back of you in short order.”

“May it be so, Tegan, may it be so!”  The Doctor laughed.  With a light step, he roamed around the console until the Tardis’ engine hummed purposefully.  “I was tempted to do a runner and leave Flavia waiting in vain in the High Council chambers.”  His face grew somber again.  “Borusa was a power in Gallifrey for a long time.  I always thought of him as a principled man.  Now I wonder who else is going his route while claiming to respect the laws of Rassilon.”

Tegan and Turlough exchanged looks.  “Politics is a continuation of war by other means, Doctor,” Turlough observed.  “My home world recently endured a vicious civil war.  Is Gallifrey beyond that?”

“It would not be open warfare.  The political conflicts of Gallifrey tend to work out in covert maneuvers.  The Time Lords have long claimed they follow a strict policy of non-intervention.  Officially, it’s true.  Unofficially-- as an exile in dubious favor, I was often forced to work towards their ends.

“Anyway—there’s a sense in which having the two of you here with me is a vindication.  The Time Lords once captured me and took away the memories of our travels together from my companions.  They forced me to regenerate.  Yet my last incarnation was voted the Presidency.  I never intended to keep the office.  It was a desperate measure to stop an alien invasion.  They have made it an excuse to recruit me to clean up Borusa’s mess.  Me, whom they call the renegade, the clown, the eccentric.  I’m not coming back to dance to their tune.  I am who I am, and my friends are my friends.  Please come with me.”  The Doctor looked at Tegan and Turlough and for a moment saw in their places Zoe and Jamie, whose minds had been violated.  His companions would serve as a living reproach to the arrogant ways of the Time Lords.

He watched their faces as they thought seriously about what he was asking.  Turlough was intrigued, his pale eyes sharp with curiosity.  The Doctor wasn’t surprised that Turlough was tempted by the idea of living on Gallifrey.

Tegan was staring at the Doctor as if she was reading something from his face.  He had no idea what she was thinking, which was unusual.  In most ways Tegan was frank and outspoken.

“I’ll go, Doctor.  I understand wanting to make your world a better place.  And I’m not ready to go home yet, not when I’ve a chance to see the place that made you.”  She grinned; her eyes slid from his face to Turlough’s.

“Isn’t Lady Flavia expecting you already, Doctor?” Turlough inquired, raising an eyebrow.

“Indeed she is.”  The Doctor’s fingers hesitated over the controls.  The Lord President did not leave Gallifrey.  Was he trapping himself?  He entered the final sequence, and the TARDIS sang her materialization song.  It was over far too quickly.

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