Sarah Jane pulled her cardigan closer around her, shivering, as the cell door was unlocked and opened, and the policeman called inside. “You’re free to go, Mr Smith.”
The Doctor, who had been lying face-down on the cell bed, lifted his head off his arms and grinned. “Sarah Jane! You’re my hero.” He slid off the bed and approached the door. “Can I have my belongings back now, officer?”
Once the Doctor had been reunited with his coat and the contents of his pockets, which filled an entire cardboard box, he and Sarah Jane left the station and ventured out into the middle of the night.
“I really appreciate this, Sarah Jane,” the Doctor said as he relocated all his belongings to the right pockets. “They took the psychic paper away before I could tell it anything. Besides, I’m not sure who I could have pretended to be, in that situation.”
“You mean breaking into a teenage girl’s bedroom?”
“You’re right, there’s no-one you could be that would excuse that behaviour. Which brings us to the question, why did you break into a teenage girl’s bedroom, Doctor?”
He sighed. “It’s sort of complicated.”
They reached Sarah Jane’s car, and she unlocked it. “Where’s the TARDIS?”
“Recovering after a nasty incident with a rift. I can’t get in for another eight hours. Sarah Jane ...”
She opened the passenger door and gestured for him to get in.
“So,” she said, once they were on a long stretch of road. “What’s all this about?” She chanced a glance at the Doctor, and got a shock. He was staring out of the window, apparently lost in thought, his pained face unusually easy to read. “Doctor? What’s wrong?”
“Nothing, I’m fine.”
“No, you’re not. What’s going on?”
He wouldn’t answer, just closed his eyes. Sarah Jane turned hers back on the road, deciding to postpone the interrogation.
The car was silent for most of the journey. When they were entering Ealing, the Doctor finally spoke again. “Sarah Jane?” His voice sounded lost: mournful and confused.
“Can you help me?”
She smiled. “Of course I will.”
When Luke came downstairs the next morning, he got a shock. A man was asleep on the living-room sofa, only a mop of brown hair sticking out from under a blanket and a pair of feet sticking out the other end.
Sarah Jane entered. “Yes?”
“Who’s the houseguest?”
She beckoned him out of the room. “It’s the Doctor.” Luke’s mouth fell open. “I’ll explain later, you’re running late.”
Luke thought this was rather unfair, but after a hurried breakfast left for school without arguing.
As he walked, his mind went back to the day the Earth was taken by the Daleks. After all the stories he’d heard about the Doctor, it was exciting enough seeing him on the screen. And now he was at their house! What could he be doing in Ealing? It wasn’t as if alien invasions were thin on the ground in their part of London, but they were usually able to handle it themselves. Why was the Doctor there—and sleeping in their living-room?
“Luke! Hey, LUKE!”
He turned round just as Clyde caught up with him. “Where’s your head this morning?”
“Probably at home.”
“Everything all right?”
“Yeah, as far as I know. But you’ll never guess who stayed over last night …”
When the Doctor woke, he found himself face-to-face with an old companion. “Oh. Morning, Sarah Jane.” He stretched. “Thanks for the sofa.”
“You’re welcome. Breakfast?”
“If you’re offering.”
After smoothing down his crumpled suit he followed her into the kitchen and offered a hand. She waved him off and made him sit while she boiled the kettle and popped four slices of bread in the toaster.
“So,” Sarah Jane said after a minute or two of silence, “What were you doing in a teenage girl’s bedroom?” When she got no reply, she tried a different tack. “Are they aliens?”
He just laughed, though the humour didn’t meet his eyes.
“Doctor, you’re going to have to tell me something, otherwise how can I help?”
“I was looking for something,” he said. “Something I didn’t find.” He bit his lip. “It’s got to be somewhere.”
“What has, what are you looking for?”
“A chameleon arch.”
“And … what’s that when it’s at home?”
He seemed lost in his own thought processes. “Maybe it’s not in her room, maybe it’s in one of the others; or maybe it’s somewhere else, not in the house at all—”
He jerked in surprise. “Sorry! Got lost for a moment.”
“Are you all right?” As he opened his mouth, she cut over him. “And don’t just brush off the question, I know you and I know when there’s something really wrong. Telling me you’re fine won’t work.”
The Doctor was silent for a moment. “I don’t know.”
“Let’s start again. What is a chameleon arch and why were you looking for it where you were?”
“It’s Time Lord technology which can rewrite biology,” the Doctor said heavily. “Can turn one species into another. With a catch; memories are re-written.”
“One … species into another?” Sarah Jane poured out fresh coffee for him and put his toast on a plate. “Who would do that?”
“I did. Once. To hide. But that’s not the point.” After a moment, he realised his breakfast was in front of him and helped himself to the butter.
“She can’t have done it herself.”
“She. She? The girl whose bedroom—”
“I broke into, yes. That’s why it was my starting point to find it. Unfortunately she’s a lighter sleeper than I anticipated and the humans pretending to be her parents didn’t take too kindly to a strange man in her bedroom—as the lump on my head can attest.” The Doctor rubbed it absently. “Mr Brown is quite skilled with a cricket bat.”
Sarah Jane tried not to laugh. “You got knocked out with a cricket bat?”
“I didn’t say knocked out ... Okay, I was knocked out. But that’s not the point. The point is, I couldn’t find the chameleon arch. It’s got to be somewhere.”
“Doctor—wait, what do you mean, pretending to be her parents?”
“Just that. She can’t have done this to herself, she didn’t have the knowledge or the technology. They’ve got to be the ones behind it. The question is how and why; I didn’t know anyone but Time Lords even had the technology. Maybe it was stolen …” He shuddered. “I don’t even want to think about why. I just hope I’m not too late. Mind you, if her Time Lord consciousness was all they wanted, they’d have just killed her afterwards, they wouldn’t have carried on with the illusion—”
“Time Lord consciousness?”
“They must want her for something else, but what?”
“Are you telling me she’s a Time Lord?”
“Time Lady,” he corrected. “And yes. Or rather, she was. At the moment she’s human. Thinks she’s human too.”
“So—how do you know who she is?”“Because she’s my daughter.”