Beta: hhertzof, livii, reversingpolarity
Summary: When Ian and Barbara return home in a Dalek ship they're relieved to find it's the day they left. However, they soon find that a two year absence coupled with the dangers lurking around Coal Hill School means they're not going to be able to go back to their old lives that easily.
Notes: The art for this was created by reversingpolarity.
One, two, buckle my shoe,
Three, four, knock at the door.
Lunchtime and the chants and shouts of children playing carried along Coal Hill Road. One of the girls in school uniform sang as she skipped.
Five, six, pick up sticks.
Seven, eight, lay them straight.
She peered out through the school gates hearing something no one else had. A moment later and she was gone.
Ian stepped out of the Dalek ship and looked around. The nearby cars had British number plates, the air didn't smell of a Dalek invasion and he could hear traffic on a nearby road. He was already smiling by the time he checked the tax disk on the nearest car. The expiry date on it was December 1963 and they were home.
He'd lingered outside, taking it all in, for long enough that when he went back inside to collect Barbara, she was on her way to the door. "We made it," he told her, excited to be home.
"I don't believe it." But she was grinning as much as he was at the sight before them.
They didn't have time to revel in it because they couldn't let anyone find the Dalek ship. Ian followed the Doctor's instructions to set the self-destruct and then, before anyone could come and investigate the explosion, he and Barbara set off to remind themselves what home looked like.
Barbara worked out where they were before he did. "Trafalgar Square is over there." She pointed in the direction the traffic was going as a pigeon flew overhead.
He discovered she was right as they got closer. Trafalgar Square was relatively empty, which wasn't surprising given that it was winter. They weren't dressed for it. Ian pulled his blazer tighter around him after Barbara refused it, but they soon warmed up by chasing pigeons who were too used to children running around to fly very far. From there they took the long way round to the bus stop. There was a worrying moment when they thought they saw the TARDIS near Embankment, but it turned out to be just an ordinary police box.
"I'd almost forgotten these things existed," Ian said, as he stood on tiptoe to look through one of the windows. It would be ironic if they'd risked the Dalek ship to get home when the Doctor had made it after all. Although now they were really here, it didn't matter how they'd travelled.
"So had I." Barbara took his hand and pulled him away from the police box. "I wonder what date it is?"
Spotting a discarded newspaper fluttering nearby, Ian said, "Let's find out." When he tried to pick it up the wind carried it away from him and brought Barbara's laughter to his ears. He ran after it and caught it on the second try. "It's the day we left." He held the newspaper out so she could see the date too.
Barbara's grin matched his and they hugged and laughed, until a passer-by gave them a funny look. Then they let go of each other, asked him the time and adjusted their watches.
They were still smiling when they boarded the bus and collapsed into an exhausted but happy heap next to each other on a seat near the back.
"I enjoyed that," Barbara said.
"Yes." Ian smiled at her, stretching his arm across the back of the seat as he looked round. "So did I." It felt like they'd bunked off school to run around London. It was a school day after all.
"Fares, please." The conductor stopped in front of them, his hand resting on the ticket box hanging around his neck.
Ian dug into his pocket for some change. "Two threes, please." He frowned at the assortment of coins in his hand. Some of them were certainly not from Earth and after turning a few over he discarded any that didn't have the Queen's head on or weren't the right shape. It took Barbara leaning over his shoulder to pick out a sixpence and hand it over. It was only when the conductor had gone that he whispered, "I think that coin was minted in 1969."
Barbara put a hand over her mouth and laughed quietly. Ian turned away, so her laughter wouldn't infect him, but he couldn't help grinning all the same.
It was dark by the time the bus dropped them off and they walked around the corner to Totter's Lane. "My car's still here," Ian said, surprised at seeing it. He trailed his fingers along the side of it, remembering what it was like to drive. Somehow he'd been expecting someone to have stolen it or had it towed it away. It was another reminder that they hadn't been away for any time at all.
"Shh." Barbara put a finger to her lips. "I think we're still in the junkyard."
He leaned against the door and listened. Now he could hear their voices, and the Doctor's and Susan's along with them.
"If we called out or went in there we could stop the Doctor from taking off," Barbara said quietly.
"And a nice paradox that would make." He knew it wasn't possible, since the Doctor had shown them they couldn't change history, but it was an interesting idea nonetheless. "Would you like to never have gone?"
She shook her head. "No. It was a wonderful adventure, but I'm glad to be home."
He smiled, feeling the same way, and pulled the car keys out of his pocket. "I believe I was going to give you a lift home, Miss Wright."
She laughed. As they got in the car they heard the TARDIS taking off.
"Do you think anyone heard that?" he asked, worried.
Barbara shook her head. "There's nothing much around here."
All the same, he'd rather not be found in the vicinity in case there were awkward questions, so he turned the key in the ignition and took Barbara home.
Barbara had been afraid for a while that she'd lost her house key. After all, she hadn't used it for two years. Fortunately she'd left her bag in Ian's car when they followed Susan and she'd found it in the foot well when she stretched her legs. Still, she hesitated after putting the key in the lock. She'd missed her mother after not seeing her for so long, but as far as Joan was concerned they'd spoken this morning. But now she was so close, she was afraid of acting differently, of her mother working out something was wrong, and not being able to tell her the truth. However, she couldn't stand out here all night. It was cold and dark outside, but inside it would be warm and inviting. Besides, Ian was waiting to make sure she got inside all right.
She took a deep breath and turned the key. Nothing terrible happened and it was just another Thursday evening in the Wright household. As she closed the door she looked back to see Ian driving off, going back to his flat. Once she'd hung up her coat she looked around the hallway. It was exactly as she remembered, but although she'd pictured coming home many times, it felt different now she was finally here.
Joan reacted to the sound of the front door opening and closing by coming to the kitchen doorway wearing oven gloves. "Good day at school?" she asked.
Barbara nodded out of habit before thinking back to what had happened at school that day. She couldn't remember anything in particular until she and Ian had followed Susan home, so presumably nothing particularly good or awful had gone on.
Joan smiled, not noticing anything out of the ordinary. "Did the student get the book all right?"
Barbara frowned as she followed her mother into the kitchen, where there were delicious smells of dinner. Then she remembered. She'd lent Susan a book on the French Revolution and had forgotten it until she was about to leave the house. She'd nearly missed the bus after she'd gone back for it. "Oh, yes. She did."
"I'm sure she'll find it interesting." Joan left her oven gloves on the side and stirred something in a saucepan.
As far as Barbara knew Susan had taken the book into the TARDIS and it was still there now. It had gone out of her mind the instant she stepped inside the Ship and she'd never checked if Susan had read it, despite her insistence that she could read the whole thing in one evening. But then living through the French Revolution, even if only for a few days was probably enough. It made Barbara wonder how accurate the book was and what Susan might have thought of it. "Can I help?" she asked, feeling guilty about letting her mother do all the cooking again.
Joan smiled. "Thank you, but dinner's nearly ready." She turned to look at her daughter and Barbara had to grab the side to avoid throwing her arms around her mother the way she wanted to. The nonchalant attitude she'd managed to cling onto since she stepped through the door was wearing off. "Is everything all right, Barbara?"
Her mother knew her too well and must have seen the impulse in her eyes. Barbara nodded. "Yes, fine. I was just thinking how nice it was to come home and not have to cook."
"You could do with the rest. You look tired." She put a hand on Barbara's cheek. "And older, somehow."
Barbara bit her lip. She couldn't explain looking older, but given that her mother dropped her hand she was probably putting it down to her imagination. Although she still looked concerned. "It's just been a long week," Barbara said eventually.
"Only one day to go until the weekend," Joan pointed out, going back to the saucepan. "If you set the table dinner won't be long."
Barbara nodded and opened the cupboard to reach for the plates on the bottom shelf. For once she was looking forward to a quiet evening in with just her mother for company.
Ian was also having an evening in, although his didn't involve company. His flat felt cold and empty, even though he'd been here this morning. Unused to the quiet, he'd put the radio on and it was playing jazz in the corner, interspersed with comments from the presenter that he wasn't really listening to.
Having missed everything about being in London in 1963 he wanted to experience it all now, but he had other responsibilities. After enjoying some proper food for a change, he'd ended up walking around the flat procrastinating on the things he should be doing and trying not to think about the things he'd rather be doing.
In the end, he'd given into the inevitable and started on his marking. He'd even missed that, although it always had been his least favourite aspect of teaching. It didn't help that tonight he was struggling to remember what he'd been teaching in the first place. He had notes but they weren't very organised and he hadn't expected to be returning to all of this after a two year break. It didn't help that some of the students hadn't grasped the topic very well.
Susan's homework was different to the rest, though. What he'd put down to fanciful notions in the past he now knew was just scientific knowledge beyond his own. There wasn't much point in marking it, since she was no longer in a position to care about school. Perhaps he'd keep it and one day he might understand her answers as the scientists on this planet made new discoveries. He put her work to one side and turned to the next exercise book in the pile.
After making it halfway through his marking he started to wonder if it wouldn't have been better if the Doctor hadn't got the Dalek ship quite so spot on. That was until he thought about having to explain their absence and couldn't think of anything that would justify their sudden disappearance and equally sudden reappearance some time later without a word in the meantime. Perhaps it was better this way.
When the radio started up with a jaunty tune that didn't lend itself to working, Ian put his pen down and ran a hand through his hair. The truth was, he was bored. Much as he'd missed the mundane aspects of life, this was too mundane. To add to the problem he missed Barbara more than anything else. He got up and paced around the room, his footsteps unconsciously in time to the music as he thought about her. He wondered if she was doing her marking and how she was getting on with her mother. It was strange being apart from her. He wanted to rush off and save her, but there was nothing here she needed rescuing from. She hadn't always needed it on their adventures either. He chuckled, remembering.
He wanted to be sitting with her, doing their marking, telling each other amusing snippets of their students' mistakes and remembering the wonderful things they'd seen with the Doctor, Susan and Vicki. He could call her, but on the drive home she'd said how much she was looking forward to seeing her mother and Ian didn't want to interrupt their reunion. Given that his mother often complained he didn't call her enough, she would be suspicious if he rang for no reason and he could hardly tell her the truth.
His friends on the other hand, would probably just shake their heads and carry on, whatever they thought of his strange behaviour. And he'd missed them too. His mind made up, Ian turned the radio off and picked up his coat. He was going to spend the evening in the pub.
On his way home from the pub, Ian saw the lights. Unsure whether he was imagining it or not, he shook his head and then regretted it. He leaned against the lamppost and only looked up again once his head had cleared. The descending lights had vanished. He must be more drunk than he thought and the cold November air wasn't sobering him up enough. He headed home, where he drank a pint of water, went to bed and forgot about what he thought he'd seen.
On his way into school Ian noticed the four scorch marks on the playground that he was sure hadn't been there when he left. He wondered if the school gates had been left unlocked last night and someone had been playing with chemicals. He resolved to ask later, but first he needed a cup of coffee.
When he opened the staff room door, he smiled upon seeing Barbara by the kettle. After he hung up his coat he went over to her. She passed him a steaming mug without him having to ask.
"Thank you." It was too hot to drink yet, but he breathed in the aroma. "I need this."
She picked up her own mug, smiling at him over the brim as she blew on it. "I can tell."
They moved away from the kettle and he frowned at her back. "Do I look that bad?"
She looked back at him over her shoulder. "What were you doing last night?"
"I went to the pub." He ran a hand over his face as they took the last two spaces on the sofa. "I missed the pub," he added, although he wasn't sure why he felt the need to explain himself. He was allowed to go to the pub if he wanted to.
"You don't look that bad." She put a hand on his shoulder. "I don't expect anyone else will notice."
"Thank you." He sighed.
She giggled, but Maggie, who taught geography, was beckoning Barbara over and she left him with his coffee.
Barbara's first class was with the lower sixth. She said goodbye to Ian at his classroom door and paused at hers next door, steeling herself for the day. When she entered the students all quietened down, waiting for her to begin. They all knew she would come down hard on them if they didn't. She frowned at the empty seat in the first row. "Susan," she said softly. Susan was never coming back to school. Coal Hill wouldn't be quite the same without her. Although now they knew what they did, it wouldn't have been the same with her either.
"She's not here today, Miss Wright." One of the boys who also sat in the front assumed Barbara was asking about Susan's whereabouts, although she didn't think she'd said her name loud enough for anyone to hear.
"Thank you." What was his name? Peter? No, he was in the fifth form. Never mind. She glanced over her lesson plan to see that they were just about to start the French Revolution.
"The French Revolution," she began. "1787 to 1799." She wrote the dates on the blackboard and turned back to the class. "Who can tell me anything about the French Revolution?"
She was surprised to see not a single hand raised. She'd expected Susan... but Susan wasn't here. Some of the others were almost as keen, though, even if what they knew wasn't always accurate. Worse, some of the students were frowning at each other. Something was wrong. Finally one of the girls put her hand up. "Yes, Janet?"
"Janice," she corrected.
Barbara just about managed not to show her wince. Close wasn't good enough when she'd been teaching this form for two months.
"We did this lesson last week when we started the French Revolution," Janice went on.
She should have remembered that. It was why she'd lent Susan that book. She looked down at the lesson plan she'd been glad of earlier, but now wasn't so helpful as she hadn't marked off where she'd got to. At the time there'd been no need. "I'm just making sure you've been paying attention." They looked like they believed that. It wasn't too far off her usual teaching methods at least. "Now, one of you must remember something from the past week."
After a pause a couple of reluctant hands went up and Barbara smiled and called upon them. By the end of the lesson she had a much better idea of where they were, but this was only her first lesson of the day.
Ian was buried in a biology textbook when Barbara sat beside him. Although he didn't look round, he was aware someone had sat down and since no one else was likely to do so and not say anything straight away he guessed who it was. It was only when he heard the sound of cutlery scraping against a plate that he turned to see her eating her lunch and remembered he was holding a forkful of cabbage and potato. He put the fork in his mouth and brushed the crumbs off the page. By the time he'd put the fork back on the plate she had a hand in front of her mouth and her eyes were laughing at him.
"I have the fourth form for biology after lunch," he said in his defence.
She swallowed her mouthful. "Doing some revision?"
"Never underestimate 4F," he said seriously and was rewarded with a smile. He shut the book and pushed it away to focus on Barbara and his lunch.
"I take it your morning was as bad as mine," she said, digging her knife and fork into her own food.
He shrugged. "No one got seriously injured. Just the usual quota of boys setting light to things using a bunsen burner when I wasn't paying attention." When you weren't sure what was going on, sometimes it was easiest to do an experiment and then none of the students noticed.
"I expect they just put your lack of attention down to your hangover." She grinned.
He gave her a look in return, but didn't get a chance to say anything because Pat, who was one of the secretaries, came around behind them and bent over the table to speak to Barbara. "Susan's not in today," Pat said.
Barbara nodded. "I noticed. Did she call in sick?"
Ian was impressed by Barbara's acting skills. If he hadn't known that she already knew the answer, he wouldn't have guessed. Perhaps she'd spent the morning practising.
"Yes, but that's the odd thing." She sat on the other side of Barbara in the seat Geoff had just vacated, so missed the matching surprised expressions on Ian and Barbara's faces. Susan was in the future, how could she call the school?
"A man came in," she continued, "wearing trainers with a suit, saying he was Dr Foreman and he and Susan were moving away, so she wouldn't be back."
"Why is that so odd?" Barbara asked.
Ian could think of a good reason, just not one that Pat would appreciate.
"He wasn't old enough to be her father, never mind her grandfather. When I asked, he said he was her uncle, but I thought she lived with her grandfather. Did she ever mention her uncle?"
"No, never," Barbara said, and Ian shook his head. Presumably Susan had other relatives, apart from the Doctor, but neither of them had ever talked about their family or where they came from.
"Perhaps her grandfather died suddenly." Pat looked unconvinced at Ian's suggestion. Ian didn't think much of it either, although that was less because of the credibility and more because he disliked thinking about the Doctor being dead.
Pat sighed. "I'm going to get to the bottom of this," she promised and left them to it.
"Who do you think this so-called uncle is?" Ian asked, as a meatball fell off his fork, bounced off the table and ended up on the floor.
Barbara giggled as Ian looked around for his meatball, discovered it had rolled under the next table and decided to let it go. "Perhaps we'll never know," she said, when she managed to keep a straight face again.
He had to be content with that - it certainly wasn't something they could investigate easily. He turned the conversation to more mundane matters, much like the ones they used to have over lunch in the school canteen, before they'd been wanderers in the fourth dimension.
"Only half a day to go," he said with a sigh when they were back in the staff room and preparing to face their afternoon classes.
He looked round to see Barbara was staring at the noticeboard. He put a hand on her shoulder as he stood behind her to read the new notice on it. "I wasn't planning on going into the cellar anyway."
"Strange the headmaster should mention it's off-limits then." Barbara glanced over her shoulder and he recognised that look.
He smiled. "After school," he promised, as the bell went for the end of lunch. He wasn't sure what was in the cellar, having never been down there in the past, but he was certainly going to find out now.
Barbara was relieved to have made it through the day. But not so relieved she didn't notice the van that had been parked outside the school gates all day drove off just as the final bell rang. However, she didn't have time to think about it because before she could even make it out of her classroom, Maggie caught up with her.
"So how was your date last night?" Maggie asked, once all the students had gone.
Barbara turned away from the window and frowned. "What date?"
Maggie perched on the edge of one of the desks. "You can tell me. I won't tell anyone, I promise." She put a hand on her heart.
However comforting that was to hear, it still didn't answer her question. "I don't know what you're talking about." She folded her arms and stood up straight. Maggie had been a friend and she was still the person Barbara would go to for a second opinion about any date. Not that she'd been on any since she started here, but Maggie was always keen to ask Barbara's advice about hers.
Maggie frowned. "So you didn't go on a date with Ian last night?"
She blinked, although she should have guessed that if Maggie thought she was seeing someone it would be Ian. Barbara had been aware of the gossip going round the school about the two of them, but Maggie had never teased her about it before. "No." Travelling through space and time for two years didn't count as a date. Most of the time when they'd been alone they'd been in danger of one sort or another. "What makes you think we went on a date?" She wondered if Maggie was fishing for something.
She shrugged. "You're more chummy today than yesterday. And when you're in a room together you're either touching or standing so close you might as well be touching. Something's changed since yesterday and it must be something big."
Barbara thought back. She couldn't remember behaving any differently towards Ian, but then she couldn't remember exactly how they acted before either. Until now she hadn't even thought about it. There had been far more important things to worry about today. "We're just friends."
Maggie snorted. "If that's what 'just friends' looks like, I'd hate to see you two when you were dating. If I didn't know better," she added, standing up, "I'd say you two were married."
Barbara blushed. She'd imagined what marriage with Ian would be like and it was a pleasant prospect. He knew how she felt about him and was sure he felt the same way. They'd both been waiting until they got home, but since they'd had arrived there hadn't been a chance to do anything about it.
Maggie smiled. "So I am right. There is something going on." She stood up. "If you don't want to tell me that's fine, I'm only your best friend." She waved a hand and left. She didn't sound upset at least, but then she knew Barbara would confide in her in the end. There weren't many other people she saw often enough that she could trust to be discreet.
Barbara sighed. She couldn't tell Maggie the truth, but she wouldn't mind hearing her advice. It was one thing to agree to act on their feelings when they returned home, it was another to be home and work out how to fit their new relationship into their old life. Perhaps she could come up with a story over the weekend and speak to Maggie on Monday.
As soon as Maggie left, Ian entered, frowning at something behind him. "What's Maggie grinning at me like that for?"
Barbara shook her head and kept a desk between them. "I think she thinks we're sleeping together."
Ian blushed, which was interesting, given that they'd done nothing of the sort. Maybe he'd thought about it, just as she had, but that was still something for the future.
"We should be careful," she added.
He nodded and didn't close the gap between them. "That doesn't stop us from going out somewhere together, though, does it?"
She smiled. Despite everything they'd been through, they'd never been on a proper date. "I'd like that." A chance to be like two normal people who wanted to spend time in each other's company without alien involvement.
He smiled back. "Dinner tonight? We can work up an appetite going down to the cellar."
"Dinner tonight," she confirmed.
He offered his arm and, grinning now, she came around the desk and took it. "Did you see the grey van outside all day?" he asked more seriously as he led the way to the cellar.
She nodded. "It just left. Do you think they were watching the school?"
"It looks that way. It's too late to find them now, but if they're back on Monday we'll find out what they're up to."
They quietened as they neared the cellar and let go of each other so they could tiptoe. As they peered round the corner at the bottom of the stairs they were in time to see the headmaster leave the cellar and lock it. They waited for the echoes of his footsteps to die away before they left their hiding place.
"When has the headmaster even been down to the cellar?" Barbara whispered as Ian tried the door and found it locked.
"Maybe since the caretaker left." His eyes widened and turned to her. "He did vanish in mysterious circumstances."
She rolled her eyes. "It was a heart attack. Sometimes it's worth listening to gossip."
"Hmph. How strong do you think this door is?" He eyed it speculatively.
"Too strong to open when it's locked." He'd only end up hurting himself trying if she let him, but convincing the headmaster to give them the key would be impossible. Fortunately, she had another solution. "How good are you at picking locks?" she asked, plucking a hairpin from her hair and holding it out to him with a smile. She wasn't sure now was the time to begin herself.
He matched her smile and took the hairpin.
It didn't take him long to jimmy the lock and she wondered when he'd practised that, but it was a question for another time. Now she followed him down the darkened staircase, the light from the corridor lengthening their shadows. Barbara shivered and pulled her cardigan tighter around her as the warmth from above failed to penetrate the cold and damp of the cellar.
They saw the flashing lights at the bottom before they could see where they were coming from. The bulbs switched on and off in a rhythm and they were mounted on top of what looked like a pair of jukeboxes connected by a platform. But they both knew it wasn't a jukebox and nor was it from Earth. Ian reached out to touch it.
"Whatever it is, the headmaster knows it's down here." It was impossible to miss and certainly explained why he'd banned anyone else from the cellar.
Ian nodded and withdrew his hand when the device didn't react. "Who is he working with?" He looked speculatively at the controls, but it was just as well he didn't try any of them because she saw something move out of the corner of her eye.
When she looked round to see what it was she knew the answers. "Daleks," she said quietly.
Ian scoffed at what he thought was a suggestion. "Daleks aren't going to be on Earth for another--" He broke off when she clutched his arm and pointed him towards the corner of the cellar. Now he could see the Dalek for himself. Which had started moving towards them.
Neither of them hesitated; they both ran. Halfway up the stairs they heard the familiar cry of "Exterminate" but they didn't look round. They'd only see what they already knew was there and the Dalek's gun had a range longer than the length of the staircase. When they reached the top Ian let Barbara go first, then he slammed the door and leaned against it, panting.
"There's a Dalek in the cellar," he said.
She nodded, giving the door a worried look as if she could see the Dalek through it. She'd caught a glimpse as Ian shut the door and it had been floating halfway up the stairs. "We can't just leave it down there for someone else to find."
He stood up straight. At first she thought he had an idea, but then discovered it was because they had company.
"I told you not to go down to the cellar." The headmaster stopped in front of the door and looked at them as if they were naughty children.
"Because there's a Dalek down there?" Ian asked, with false cheer.
Barbara bit her lip, hoping that Ian revealing what they knew wouldn't get them into more trouble. However the headmaster looked impassive and held his left hand to his ear. When he dropped it, he punched Ian with his right.
Not expecting it, Ian took a step back from the force of the blow and held his hand to his cheek. "What are you doing?" He shuffled backwards, away from the headmaster and Barbara could see the pained look in the headmaster's eye. If he was working with the Daleks he could do anything.
What he did was to try another punch. This time Ian was ready and dodged it. He followed it up with a punch of his own and knocked the headmaster out cold. Barbara stood with a hand to her mouth as she looked down at him. After all, they had just knocked the headmaster out. When he woke up they'd be lucky if the only retribution they got was the sack.
"Help me with him." Ian was trying to pick him up with his hands under the headmaster's shoulders.
Barbara bent down to grab his legs and between them they carried him to his office. She was just glad his office was on the ground floor. "What do we do now?" she asked, as they left him slumped over his chair and she shook out her aching arms.
"Lock him in." Ian rummaged around in the top drawer of the desk and found the key to the office door. "We'll let him out later," he promised at Barbara's dubious look.
But that wasn't her only concern. "The door isn't very strong. He could open it easily."
"Maybe he won't come after us." He ushered her out and locked the door. Then he turned a softer look on her. "The Dalek's the bigger threat."
She nodded and he pocketed the key.
"We'll worry about the headmaster later," he promised, with a touch to her arm.
She gave a last look back at the door and followed Ian upstairs.
"There must be something here we can use against the Dalek." Back in his classroom Ian was digging through the cupboards of chemicals, so hadn't seen what Barbara had.
"The van's back," she said.
He joined her at the window, carrying a bottle of something clear. It wasn't just the van out there, but some men in Army uniform too. "That can't be good."
"It might be, against a Dalek." It wasn't as if they'd had the Army when fighting Daleks before. Maybe some firepower was all they needed - and there was only one Dalek at least.
He gave her a thoughtful look. "Come on, then." He left the bottle on his desk as they passed.
Once outside Barbara hung back and let Ian take the lead, thinking the Army would respond better to him than they would her. However, it wasn't just the Army here. There was a man dressed in shades of brown and carrying an umbrella, and a girl in a black jacket.
"Who's in charge here?" Ian asked.
The others mostly kept talking among themselves, but one of the men in uniform turned at his question. "Group Captain Ian Gilmore." He held out his hand.
"Ian Chesterton." He shook the group captain's hand. "May I ask what your intentions are toward the school?"
"Headmaster, are you?" Gilmore asked.
Ian shook his head.
Gilmore carried on anyway, not giving Ian time to explain. "We have reason to believe there's a serious threat at the school. You'd be better off going home and leaving it to us."
Barbara stepped forward. "You mean the Dalek?"
Gilmore frowned, but before he had a chance to say anything the civilian man who hadn't looked like he'd been listening to their conversation stepped forward with a smile. "Barbara Wright and Ian Chesterton! How lovely to see you again."
Barbara was certain she hadn't met him before and judging by Ian's expression when they shared a look, he hadn't either.
"Who are you?" Ian asked.
"I'm the Doctor." He stood back and grinned.
He shook his head. "The Doctor. The definite article. I travel through space and time in the TARDIS."
That gave them pause because no else would know all about that. Neither of them hadn't told anyone. "No, you're not," Barbara said. They'd seen the Doctor only yesterday and he wasn't young and Scottish.
He looked down at himself. "I look a little different, but I promise you it's me. Never mind that." He waved his hand. "We have more important things to worry about. Like where you've seen Daleks recently."
Barbara supposed he was right - they could worry about who he was later. If he was someone who knew about Daleks perhaps he'd be helpful in dealing with this one.
Ian sighed. "In the cellar."
"Right then." The Doctor twirled his umbrella and smiled. "Show me the way."
"Professor." The girl grabbed at the Doctor's arm before he could get too far away. "Can we take this?"
"What?" the Doctor looked back over his shoulder to see the Army were taking delivery of a weapon of some sort. He sighed. "If you must."
The girl grinned and followed them into the school. Barbara kept up the rear, not particularly keen on seeing the Dalek again. It only took one of them to show the Doctor and the girl where the cellar was, but she kept with them, wanting to see if this man was anything like who he claimed to be.
In the end they didn't make it as far as the cellar because they met the Dalek around the corner from the entrance.
"Get back!" the Doctor shouted.
They did as they were told, but it was too late - the Dalek had already spotted them. It didn't seem to bother the girl, though, because she leaned out around the trophy cabinet they were all trying to hide behind.
"Ace!" the Doctor shouted.
Ace ignored him, shouldered the weapon and blew the Dalek to pieces.
Ian raised his eyebrows. "What is that?" He sounded impressed.
"Anti tank weapon," Ace said proudly, letting it dangle from one hand.
"How did you know how to work it?" the Doctor asked, sounding suspicious as he inspected the Dalek.
"One of the soldiers showed me."
He poked the Dalek with a pen. "You destroyed it." He didn't sound that happy about it. In Barbara's opinion the only good Dalek was a dead Dalek.
Ace looked proud. "I aimed for the eyepiece."
"Just as well you did," Ian said. "Otherwise it would have destroyed us."
Ace smiled at him.
Barbara thought it was probably time to intervene, given the Doctor's unhappy expression. "There's a machine down in the cellar, Doctor," she said, giving him the benefit of the doubt for now. "I don't think it's from Earth."
"Let's go and have a look at it." He set off, looking glad not to be continuing the discussion himself.
The cellar door was no longer there, the Dalek presumably having smashed through it. But the machine was.
"Aha, a transmat." The Doctor stood in front of it and twiddling a few dials.
"A what?" Ian asked, frowning.
"A matter transmitter. But where's it coming from?" He opened a control panel and examined the wires.
"Something's coming through." As the transmat's humming increased Barbara could see an indistinct shape on the platform. It looked worryingly like a Dalek.
The Doctor looked over. "So it is." He sounded perfectly calm. "We'll soon take care of that." He pulled one of the wires. The humming stopped suddenly and all the lights went out. "That will slow them down for a while." He didn't look as pleased about it as Barbara expected.
"Is that where the Daleks at the junkyard came from?" Ace asked.
"No. And that's what concerns me."
Just the suggestion of more Daleks concerned Barbara.
"I have made a grave error of judgement," the Doctor pronounced, once they were back outside and Ace had handed the weapon over to the Army.
Barbara's attention was distracted for a moment by two professionally-dressed women climbing out of another van, this time a black one. Once the Doctor spoke again she turned back to him.
"You're all in danger."
That explained why he'd been quiet on the way out of the school and looking worried about something. But Barbara had already guessed that from seeing the Dalek and the suggestion of more. Although their presence at the junkyard was unlikely to be a coincidence, she still put a hand on the Doctor's shoulder. "It's not your fault."
"I'm afraid it is, Barbara." He turned to face her, with an expression of guilt. But only for a second. The next moment he looked away again and called out, "Group Captain! You should evacuate the area. Those Daleks won't stay in the junkyard for long."
Barbara shivered. So far she'd only been thinking about the one Dalek but if more of them were likely to roam the streets... Well, she'd seen the results of that herself, in the future. Ian put an arm around her and she put her hand over his hand on her shoulder.
While the Doctor and the group captain quibbled over the whys and wherefores and how long it would take, Ian and Barbara stayed where they were, only half-listening.
"We know history can't be changed," Ian said. "So we know Daleks don't destroy London in 1963. We've seen the future."
"I don't think it works like that," she said quietly. Otherwise they had no free will and she hated that idea. "And we haven't seen London in the 20th century. The Daleks could still take over Shoreditch and we'd never have known any different."
His grip on her shoulder tightened and she knew he was as worried about the prospect as she was. Except he was probably trying to look on the bright side and she was bringing him down. She felt guilty about that, so she smiled at him. "I'm sure if anyone can stop them it's us, the Army and the Doctor."
His grip relaxed a little. "So you believe he's the Doctor, then?"
She shrugged. "I don't know. I'm not sure what to believe any more."
He nodded. "I suppose time will tell."
The two men seemed to have come to an agreement. Gilmore barked orders and told someone to come up with a cover story. Barbara wondered what the residents would believe. She was glad it wasn't their problem, but there was something else that worried her. "What about my mother?"
"You can't," Ian said, removing his arm so he could face her and grip her upper arms. "If you ring her she'll want you to evacuate with her."
She bit her lip. He was right, but she couldn't just let her mother sit at home, not knowing the dangers that lurked on the streets. "I'll tell her I've gone out to dinner and I'll meet her at my aunt's later." Although it looked like dinner with Ian wouldn't happen tonight, her mother didn't need to know that. Barbara couldn't complain, given that there were more important things to worry about, but she had been looking forward to a normal evening out together.
He let go of her to take her hand and squeeze it, perhaps thinking the same thing she was. "And what will you say if she asks you why she has to leave?"
She sighed, knowing she wasn't going to win this argument. "I'm just worried."
"I know. So let's do something about these Daleks before they get that far."
She smiled, glad to have Ian by her side. But if things got that bad, nothing was going to stop her from making sure her mother was safe.
Once the Army were busy dealing with the evacuation the six of them who weren't part of the military stayed at the school. After examining the remains of the Dalek they'd gone upstairs to Ian's classroom, where it was safe and were now sat around one of the benches.
"So the Daleks are alien?" Rachel asked. She'd introduced herself as the scientific advisor to the Intrusion Counter-Measures Group - the rest of whom were in the Army, apart from Rachel's assistant, Allison. None of the rest of the group had come across aliens either, which surprised Ian. They had said they dealt with unexplained events, but then Rachel told him she and Allison had only been drafted in yesterday.
"Yes," Barbara replied to Rachel's question. "They're from a planet called Skaro. And they kill anything that isn't a Dalek. I've seen what they've done to a planet they invaded before." Ian understood why she hadn't said that planet was Earth.
"What are they doing on Earth?" Ian had been wondering about that since they saw it, but Rachel, Allison and Ace hadn't seen Daleks before today and their questions needed answering first.
The Doctor sighed. "Looking for the Hand of Omega."
"What's that?" Aside from not much of an answer.
"It's from my planet. It will allow them to travel through time." The Doctor stood up and stared out the window, looking at the playground below.
"They already can, can't they?" After all, it was the Dalek's ship that had got Ian and Barbara back to 1963.
"It's a rudimentary time corridor technology. The Hand of Omega is far superior."
He would say that, but time travelling Daleks were still a bad idea. "Then we just need to make sure they don't get it," Ian said.
The Doctor shook his head and turned to face the room again. "It's not that simple. You see, I lured them here, intending to let them have it. I didn't expect another faction to turn up."
Ian raised his eyebrows, unsure of which part of his plan to question first.
But Ace was more confident. "You want to give Daleks time travelling ability?" Her tone suggested he was mad and Ian was inclined to agree with her.
"No, no. I want to trick them. But I don't want the other Daleks to get it."
Ian shook his head. "Aren't all Daleks the same?"
"No, of course not." The Doctor said it as if it was obvious. It was so like him Ian was inclined to believe he really was the Doctor. "The Daleks at the school are the imperial Daleks. The Daleks at the junkyard are renegades."
"So that's why the Dalek downstairs looks different from the one you blew up." Rachel sounded like she was understanding the whole thing much better now.
"The renegade Daleks are blobs. The imperial Daleks are bionic blobs with bits added," Ace put in.
The Doctor nodded. "Needless to say they both want to wipe each other out and don't care who gets caught in the crossfire."
"Racial purity," Ace said quietly, sounding like she hated the idea, even in Daleks.
Ian could feel a headache coming on. "So we get rid of one faction and give the Hand of Omega to the other."
The Doctor gave him a look, as if he was stupid. "We can't just give them the Hand. They'll suspect something."
"I tried," Ian muttered to Barbara, who was sitting next to him. She put a hand on his arm.
"No, that's a good idea," Rachel said, standing up. "The sooner the Daleks have the Hand of Omega, the sooner they leave right? We just have to let them think they found it on their own."
The Doctor twirled his umbrella. "Perhaps you're right," he said after a moment's thought.
"Hallelujah," Ian muttered, and Barbara elbowed him.
"I have a plan." The Doctor grinned.
Barbara sighed. "Oh, dear."
Barbara stood in the office and kept the funeral director occupied while the Doctor did something out the back with Ace's baseball bat. She couldn't hear him hitting anything, but she thought she heard him talk to someone - or something - once or twice.
"Two days that casket's been here," Martin said, looking glad of someone to complain to. "Never a word and then he sends someone else to pick it up."
So where had the Hand of Omega come from? Why it looked like a casket or was in one, Barbara couldn't say. The Doctor had only told her he'd hidden it here and hadn't been keen to divulge any details.
"Is he his son?" Martin asked, cocking his head in the Doctor's direction.
Barbara suspected not, but you never could tell. Susan never spoke about her parents. "What did the man who left the casket here look like?"
"I wasn't here when he brought it," he admitted. "But I heard he was an old bloke with white hair."
That sounded like the Doctor - the one they knew. But now she was suspicious that he'd been planning this since before they'd followed Susan home. Maybe that's why one of the Dalek factions were at the junkyard - perhaps they could tell the TARDIS had been there. "I think he probably is," Barbara said, in answer to Martin's question. It was the simplest explanation, especially since she still didn't understand the real answer.
"All done." The Doctor returned, swinging the baseball bat. "We'll take the casket with us."
Martin's mouth fell open at the sight of the casket floating along behind the Doctor. Not wishing to get into more explanations she didn't understand, Barbara didn't say a word and exited the funeral parlour ahead of the Doctor.
"How does it float?" she asked, looking back at it.
The Doctor grinned. "I did say it was from my world, didn't I?"
That was true, she just hadn't expected that his world had invented that sort of thing. "Won't it look a bit odd, a floating casket going down to the graveyard?"
"Hmm." He frowned. "You're right. You take one end, I'll take the other."
Somehow Barbara ended up having to walk backwards and try to look like she was carrying a casket. It was hard because she kept going too fast and ending up with her hands in front of it. "You never told us why you look so different."
"Regeneration," he said offhand, as if it was something ordinary people did all the time.
"What do you mean?" She knew what the word meant, but not how it applied to the Doctor in this sense.
"When I die all my cells change and I come out of it looking like a new man."
Barbara nodded, understanding as much as of that as she probably ever would. "I suppose that's no stranger than a police box that's bigger on the inside."
The Doctor smiled. "You were always good at accepting what other humans would say was impossible."
Like Ian, for example. As much as the TARDIS had been a shock, she'd quickly found she had to believe it, whereas Ian had refused at first, despite the evidence.
"Ian might not," she warned him. He'd probably be able to tell her the exact biological reason why it was impossible. She wasn't sure she wanted to hear it, though.
The Doctor waved a hand, not caring about that. "He'll come round."
He was right, Ian would, although he might put up a protest about it.
For a moment Barbara wondered about the Doctor giving her an order as if he was her superior, but then she realised he'd been talking to the casket, which had done as it was told. She boggled at it and looked round to find they were standing next to an empty space in the graveyard. It had even been dug out, ready. Once they were out of the way the casket settled into it at the Doctor's command. Barbara didn't ask who the grave was originally for: it would be better not to know. They still had to cover it up themselves, but when Barbara checked to make sure no one had seen the casket float down into a hole she saw the headmaster watching them. "Oh, no."
"What?" The Doctor picked up two shovels and handed her one.
"The headmaster," she replied as she took it. "He was hiding the Dalek in the cellar." She looked at her watch to find it had been long enough for him to have come round, broken out of his office and followed them.
The Doctor glanced round, but didn't appear to be concerned by the headmaster's presence. "Coerced by them in some way."
She frowned. "It is?"
"Yes." He dug his shovel into the pile of dirt and threw it into the grave. "The imperial Daleks are the ones I want to have the Hand."
She smiled. "In that case he can take it." It would solve their problems.
"Too suspicious." He glanced round again and she followed his gaze to see the headmaster was still watching, but not coming any closer. "Distract him. I'll dig."
That was easier said than done, but they had to do something, so she lay down her shovel and walked over to the headmaster. "We're so sorry," she said. "I know we shouldn't have locked you in your office, but you did hit Ian. Er, Mr Chesterton."
The headmaster smiled and patted her on the shoulder. "Don't worry, Barbara. I understand."
Whatever was going on, he definitely wasn't himself. As glad as she was not to be fired on the spot, she wasn't sure about this happier, more friendly version of the headmaster.
He peered over Barbara's shoulder. "What's your friend doing?"
She stepped to the side so the Doctor wouldn't be so visible to him. "Burying an old friend. Why don't we go for a cup of tea?"
He shook his head. "No, thank you. I should be getting back to the school. Goodbye, Miss Wright."
"He'll be back," Barbara said, when she reached the Doctor and picked up her shovel once again.
"I'm counting on it," the Doctor replied.
Once the others had left Ian straightened up the classroom, not wanting to leave it in a mess over the weekend. Ace hung around, looking at the cupboards of chemicals as if she was searching for something specific.
"Do you like chemistry?" he asked her, as he picked up the bottle he'd left on his desk and slotted it into the cupboard beside her.
"You could say that." She studied the cupboard's contents for a moment more before facing Ian. "Do you mind if I use a few chemicals to make Nitro 9? I've run out."
He frowned. "Nitro 9?" He could make a guess based on the name, but couldn't be sure what it was or what it did, never mind what she might use it for.
She nodded. "It's a variant of nitroglycerin. I made it at school."
"And is it explosive?" Nitroglycerin had one important quality, at least as far as this discussion was concerned.
"Yes." She sounded defensive about it and he wondered who had told her off in the past. That might depend on exactly what she'd blown up.
He folded his arms and leaned against his desk, considering the idea.
"The Doctor used one to blow up a Dalek."
"Did he now." But it made him think. More weapons would be useful if there were more Daleks - and it sounded like there were. "If the Doctor thinks it's all right..."
Ace grinned. "Thanks."
That didn't really answer his question, but it wasn't worth stopping her. "I'll help," he continued. He was not about to let a teenage girl play with chemicals on her own, especially when he didn't know her abilities in that area. "How's it made?"
She started pulling out the chemicals she needed and explained the process. It was fairly simple and Ian could see how it could be used to create a small timed explosion, a little like a grenade. "You're good at this," he said. He could tell from her explanation that she understood how it worked. "Are you still in school?" She looked to be around sixteen, but it wasn't always easy to tell with teenagers.
She shook her head. "I don't like school. And I blew it up."
He paused while measuring out a chemical for her.
"It was an accident. I've learnt how to make it properly since then."
"I hope so." Despite her confident tone he wasn't reassured. He was definitely going to keep an eye on her Nitro 9 production today. He'd rather his classroom was still in one piece, to say nothing of the two of them. He was in enough trouble with the headmaster as it was.
They had just finished when Allison returned. "Are you two ready? We're about to go and we'd like a Dalek expert with us."
Ian wouldn't call himself an expert, but in comparison to someone who'd never seen one, he supposed he was. "We're coming." He put the last of the Nitro 9 cans in Ace's backpack and they followed Allison back to their van.
The Intrusion Counter-Measures Group had set up in a nearby recreation hall, which looked as if it had once been a stately home. It was a little odd to have their base in a room with wood panelling and paintings, and to use a billiard table as an actual table, but Ian had been in stranger places.
He'd just finished telling Rachel and Allison everything he knew about Daleks when the Doctor and Barbara arrived. "All done?" he asked.
Barbara nodded. "They just need to take the bait."
"And we need to do something about the other Daleks," Ian reminded her.
"I have a plan for that." The Doctor grabbed the piece of paper Ian had been sketching Daleks on and turned it over. On the back he scribbled a list, then handed it to Rachel. "Do you have these things?"
"If we don't, we can get them," she replied, looking it over. "Teaspoons, circuit boards," she muttered, reading it. "What are you planning to use these for?"
"Making a device to disable the Daleks. It will interfere with their internal controls. I hope." He smiled.
It didn't make Ian feel any more confident.
"Can't we just blow them up?" Ace asked. "We've got the anti-tank weapons and I've got plenty of Nitro 9."
The Doctor sighed. "Where did you get more from?"
Ian tried not to look guilty. Fortunately for him the Doctor didn't seem to notice and he continued, "They've probably got a spaceship in orbit. That's where they're transmatting from. They'll detect a military build-up and I doubt you have enough Nitro 9 to destroy them all. I'd much rather not put you all in danger." He sighed. "More than you already are."
"It's not your fault, Doctor," Barbara said, although Ian was inclined to think it was. "And we all know what we're getting into. We just want to be rid of the Daleks before they kill anyone."
The Doctor smiled at her. "Let's stick to my plan. No blowing things up," he said sternly to Ace, but touched her on the nose with his finger.
She smiled at the gesture. "I'll help find the parts."
They all helped, except for the Doctor, who was busy drawing something. Barbara and Ace ended up going out to the shops for some of the components and Allison called in some favours for the technical equipment. While they were gone the Doctor passed his drawing over to Ian and Rachel. "We need to make two of these," he said, "and we don't have much time."
Rachel nodded. "I'll see what I can do."
"I'll help." What it needed sort of made sense, but Ian couldn't see exactly how it worked. He hoped he would understand it better once he'd made one.
He and Rachel settled down to work on one bench, while the Doctor started assembling components on the other.
"Do you do this sort of thing often?" Ian asked, while he soldered the tine of a metal fork in place.
"This is the first time I've been drafted in. I usually have a quieter life at Cambridge. So no," she said drily. "How about you?"
Ian smiled. "Up until yesterday I did. I was hoping to live the quiet life of a science teacher."
"Oh?" She looked up at him inviting him to say more. Given that she'd already encountered Daleks and the Doctor, he couldn't see the harm in telling her the truth while they worked.
When Ian and Rachel finally finished putting their device together and Ian looked up, he saw the Doctor had finished his a while ago with Allison's assistance. He and Rachel had been slowed down by their discussion and Barbara telling them about the experience she'd had with the Hand of Omega and the headmaster, not to mention their lack of understanding in comparison to the Doctor's.
"How about this, Doctor?" Ian asked.
He came over and inspected it, while Ian and Rachel looked on nervously. "Hmm," he said, then swapped the teaspoon and the capacitor round. "That's better. Now we're all ready."
Ian frowned at the diagram, trying to see where they'd gone wrong. He gave up when Rachel asked, "What's the plan?"
Barbara and Ace came over from where they'd been chatting in the corner to hear the answer too.
The Doctor's expression was grim, but he didn't look worried. It soothed Ian a little, especially as the Doctor seemed to know what he was doing. "With the transmat broken the imperial Daleks will have to land a shuttle. Perhaps in the school playground again."
Of course, that's what the scorch marks were and why they were in such an even pattern. And those lights in the sky last night must have been the shuttle descending. Although Ian was glad to know he hadn't been hallucinating he didn't have time to wonder about it because the Doctor continued.
"We need to make sure they get the Hand of Omega, but not without a fight. And we need to take out the renegade Daleks."
"I reckon this baseball bat can do it." Ace hefted it and it crackled with energy.
"Be careful with that," the Doctor warned.
"Of course I will, Professor." She smiled, but the Doctor didn't look so sure.
"The devices paralyse them," he went on, "but they only work at a short distance, so you have to get close. Once you've disabled them, then you can take them out."
Ian nodded. "I think I understand how to work it," he said. "I volunteer to wield one of them."
"Good." The Doctor relaxed a little. "Then we'll split into two. One group at the school, one at the junkyard."
They organised themselves and moved out, collecting soldiers to help them. Ian caught at Barbara's arm. "Be careful," he said. They hadn't risked a dangerous space ship ride home only for something to happen to them now.
She smiled and took his hand briefly. "You too."
Barbara wondered if she should have gone with Ian, but he had seemed happy enough in charge of the trigger-happy Ace and someone needed to look after the Doctor. However, they were going off to fight Daleks and there was a possibility they wouldn't be coming back. She wished she'd said something about her feelings for him, just in case, but it was too late now. She tried not to think about the worst that could happen.
When they reached the junkyard, Barbara, the Doctor and Rachel got out of the van quietly and waited behind it while the soldiers took up positions along the pavement.
"Stay there," the Doctor said to Barbara and Rachel. The two of them had to resort to peering around the van as the Doctor calmly walked up to the gates and shouted, "Come out, Daleks, I know you're in there."
Barbara wasn't sure that was the best approach to take, given that a Dalek did as he asked. The soldiers stood their ground and the Doctor held up his device. Barbara breathed a sigh of relief when the Dalek didn't fire or say 'Exterminate'.
"Now shoot it!" the Doctor said. He sounded far calmer than she felt.
A sergeant fired one of their anti-tank weapons and the Doctor dived out of the way as the Dalek's casing exploded. Afterwards the Doctor stood up, dusted himself off and put his hat back on with the air of someone for whom this was all in a day's work. Which she supposed it was for him. "That should have got their attention," he said, stepping through the gate.
As Barbara and Rachel followed the Doctor, Barbara wondered how many more Daleks were in there and if getting the Daleks' attention was a good idea. She'd find out soon enough, but at the moment she was distracted by the memories brought up by the junkyard. It hadn't changed at all since she was last here, with the exception of the space where the police box had been. She looked at it on the way past, remembering that night two years ago that they'd also overheard yesterday.
At the back of the yard was a warehouse, which she and Ian had ignored before, with the mystery of the police box capturing their attention. Today the warehouse was hard to miss with a Dalek rolling out of it and heading towards them.
"Get out of my way." Gilmore pushed past them, and without waiting for the Doctor to use his device, he signalled for the soldier with the anti-tank weapon to fire, which he did, destroying the Dalek. He then led the soldiers into the warehouse ignoring the Doctor and issuing his own orders.
"A battle is just what I didn't want," the Doctor cried, but none of them took any notice of him.
The three civilians waited in the yard in comparative safety, although they still kept an eye out in case there were any more Daleks out here.
"Maybe the other Daleks will think you're too preoccupied with these Daleks to worry about the Hand of Omega," Rachel said.
Barbara liked that idea and expanded on it. "They might even assume that you think these Daleks want the Hand of Omega, so they can go after it safely. Which is what we want."
The Doctor sighed. "Perhaps. The trouble is these Daleks do want the Hand."
It was hard to convince him when she still wasn't sure how the Daleks knew about the Hand of Omega in the first place or what else he wasn't telling them. Fortunately, they didn't have long to wait and wonder before a soldier shouted for the Doctor and the three of them ran inside.
Given the lack of gunfire they'd heard while outside, Barbara had hoped there were no more Daleks in the warehouse. However, there were plenty - too many to stop and count. The soldiers held their positions near the door, their guns trained on the Daleks. She wondered if it was a stand-off until she saw the little girl standing beside a chair. Barbara gasped at the sight, wondering if she was a Thal the Daleks had enslaved, although she didn't look blonde enough.
"Hold your fire!" the Doctor shouted, wading into the middle of the room, so the soldiers couldn't shoot otherwise they'd have hit him. He was holding up his device, which made sure the Daleks couldn't fire.
It didn't seem to have much of an effect on the girl, though. "Doctor." She took a step towards him, arms outstretched. "You have something we want."
The Doctor smiled. "Why should I give it to you?"
She turned to one of the soldiers, who fortunately for him, ducked as what looked like a lightning bolt shot from her hands and hit one of the Daleks, destroying it. Barbara gasped again and Rachel stiffened beside her. The girl smiled and took another step towards the Doctor. With his back to her, Barbara couldn't see what his reaction to that was.
"Stand back, Doctor," Gilmore ordered.
The Doctor didn't move at first, but the soldiers for whom the Doctor wasn't in their line of fire started shooting in response to Gilmore's hand signal, and he couldn't stay where he was for long. He, Barbara and Rachel ran back out of the warehouse, out of the line of fire, although Rachel and Barbara had to drag the Doctor and he complained all the way.
"Of all the stupid military minds. Even the Brigadier..."
"Why have the Daleks got a girl working for them?" Barbara asked, hoping to get his mind off things, not to mention wanting to know the answer.
"Oh, imagination," he said in an off-handed manner as he craned his head to look round at what was going on inside. "The imagination of children works well in battle against logical, rational Daleks."
"That's cruel," Barbara said, her heart going out to that poor, little girl.
"And clever," Rachel added.
Barbara shook her head, agreeing but not liking it. "How do we free her?"
"By getting them to stop shooting." Almost as if they heard him, which they couldn't have over the noise of gunfire, the shooting stopped and the Doctor ran back inside with Barbara and Rachel following.
The Daleks were all in various states of destruction, but Barbara only had eyes for the little girl, who was slumped in the chair, hair over her face and sobbing. Barbara went over and put her arms round her. "It's going to be all right," she said, although she had no idea if that was true.
"She's bound to be traumatised," Rachel said.
Gilmore stepped forward. "We'll look after her."
The Doctor looked around the warehouse. "All of this destruction." He sighed. "This was what I was trying to avoid."
When they arrived at the school everything was quiet. While the soldiers took up hidden positions around the playground, Ian, Allison and Ace went inside. It didn't look like anyone else was here as Ian led them up to his classroom. The headmaster wasn't in his office and there were no Daleks in the cellar.
"If we really want to make the Daleks think we're stopping them from taking the Hand of Omega, a small explosion inside their shuttlecraft might help," Ian said quietly in case anyone else was nearby to overhear.
"Nitro 9's perfect," Ace said.
Ian shook his head. "We need something smaller that isn't going to damage any essential systems." He smiled. "So it's just as well we're in a chemistry lab."
Ace smiled too and the three of them got to work on creating something with a small explosion and a long timer. Well, longer than the few seconds Ace tended to prefer on her explosives. All the while they kept a look out for the shuttle or the headmaster.
It was the shuttle they heard first and they all ran to the window in time to see a white ship the size of a large van descending over the playground above the spot where the scorch marks were. The headmaster had come out from wherever he'd been hiding to stand on the other side of the playground watching it. Floating beside him was a casket. Ian assumed it was the Hand of Omega, from what Barbara had told him earlier. Although even her explanation hadn't quite prepared him for seeing something floating like that. While he could think of ways of achieving it, none of them were possible in the open air in a playground.
Even more marvellous was the sight of a spaceship in Shoreditch in 1963. While Ian was struggling to believe his eyes, Ace hefted her baseball bat. "Let's get down there," she said, not worrying about being quiet any more.
Allison picked up their bomb and Ian followed them both out, carrying the Dalek disabling device.
The shuttle had just landed when they made it outside and it began extending a sloping walkway to the ground.
"Headmaster!" Ian shouted, not wanting anything to happen to him. "Don't do it!"
The headmaster ignored him and walked towards the ramp, where a Dalek was now rolling down. When Ian ran closer and held up the device the Dalek came to a sudden stop. Ace didn't need to be told what to do; she hit it with the baseball bat. The force of her blows made Ian wonder if she was taking out her anger on it, although what she was angry about he couldn't guess. Sparks flew off the Dalek when the bat made contact. The headmaster was forced to take a step backwards to avoid being hit by any of them.
Ian kept his finger on the button just in case. Out of the corner of his eye he saw the soldiers come out of hiding and take up positions, ready to shoot. Not that bullets did much good against Daleks. Unfortunately there was only one anti-tank weapon and the other group had it.
Ian waited until Ace had made sure the Dalek wasn't going to do anything to anyone any more, then cautiously walked into the shuttle, brandishing the device and wishing he had a weapon. He still wasn't sure how big a range this thing had. The Doctor hadn't even been that sure it would work in the first place and despite its initial success Ian still held his breath, hoping it wouldn't fail.
Ace, Allison and the headmaster followed him inside, with the casket floating behind them. The shuttle was full of Daleks - one baseball bat couldn't take them all out and Ace let her arm drop to her side.
"What are we going to do now?" Allison asked, sounding as worried as Ian felt.
Fortunately the device appeared to be working - or the Daleks were all in hibernation, because none of them moved.
The headmaster pushed past the three of them to guide the Hand of Omega to the console.
"Headmaster, they're Daleks," Ian said, in a low voice. "They're going to destroy the galaxy and you're helping them."
He ignored Ian, maybe because he wasn't interfering with what he was doing. So Ian passed the device to Allison and went over to the headmaster, grabbing the back of his shirt collar to pull him away. Now the headmaster turned and knocked Ian to the floor with a lucky punch.
"We've got to get out of here!" Ace said.
Ian looked up to see the Daleks were jerking about as if they were trying to break through an invisible barrier. Whatever the device was doing, the effect was starting to wear off. When he stood he grabbed the headmaster by the arm, ignoring his protests and his ineffectual thrashing as Ian pulled him along and the four of them exited the shuttle. When they were clear Ace grabbed the bomb from Allison and lobbed it inside.
Allison let go of the button on the device, the ramp retracted and the shuttle took off. Two of the soldiers came forward to restrain the headmaster and Ian hoped they'd done enough. The three of them stayed where they were, watching as the shuttle rose. When it was above the school it wobbled as the small bomb inside it went off.
"Is that it?" Allison asked.
"I do hope so," Ian replied, but he knew nothing was ever simple when Daleks were involved.
When the Doctor, Barbara and Rachel returned to the school in the van, he checked everyone was all right and that their plan had worked. Ian decided not to tell him about the bomb unless something went wrong. With all these people around he settled for smiling at Barbara, rather than hugging her, which was what he really wanted to do, but was still thinking about what Maggie had said earlier.
Now the Army were cleaning up at both locations there was nothing left to do now but hope. Or so Ian thought. The Doctor, it turned out, had a better plan, which was just as well, because otherwise they'd have only sat around and worried about the Daleks returning.
He led them down the road from the school, in the opposite direction to the junkyard. A couple of streets away was a police box. Police boxes weren't that unusual on the streets of London, but Ian knew Shoreditch well and this particular road didn't have one. It certainly didn't have one the Doctor had a key to.
"Why don't you come in?" he said, smiling once he'd opened the door.
Ace happily followed him inside. Rachel and Allison looked suspicious. "What, all of us in there?" Rachel asked.
Ian was hesitant about entering the TARDIS again, but Barbara smiled, said, "It's bigger than it looks," and followed Ace.
"After you," Ian said to Rachel and Allison, motioning for them to precede him.
They looked at each other, then Rachel shrugged. "Might as well see what's in there."
Ian was right behind them as they stood in the entrance, gaping at the console room. He smiled - he remembered the first time he'd seen the inside of the TARDIS himself. "Why does it look so different?" he asked the Doctor. The room looked smaller, which he was sure couldn't be possible. Aside from the console and hat stand there was nothing else in there. It was probably just as well - with all the bits and pieces that used to live in the console room there wouldn't be space for so many people in this smaller one.
"Just a little remodelling. Now, let's see." He pressed a few of the controls and a section of the wall opened up to reveal a TV screen with the image of a ship on it. "The Dalek mothership," he told his audience. It looked like the shuttle to Ian, but it was hard to judge scale with nothing to compare it to. "Now to make sure they use the Hand." He pulled a lever and they heard the familiar sound of the TARDIS taking off.
"Doctor!" Ian and Barbara rushed forward at the same time, but it was Barbara who spoke first. "Doctor, we only just got home yesterday. We don't want to leave so soon." She tugged on the Doctor's arm.
"Leave?" He frowned at her. "Who said anything about leaving? We're just going to scare the Daleks, then return."
"Yes, but where to?" she asked.
"And when?" Ian added.
The Doctor sighed. "I can steer the TARDIS, you know."
Ian and Barbara shared a look behind the Doctor's back. They'd heard that before. Many times. And this time there were more unwilling passengers. It was too late now, though, the TARDIS was in flight. They gave up for now and Ian took Barbara's hand for comfort as they stepped back out of the Doctor's way as he wandered around the console staring at it and ignoring everyone.
"This isn't a police box," Rachel said disbelievingly.
Barbara smiled at her. "It's a spaceship," she explained. "It's just disguised as a police box."
"It can go anywhere in space and time," Ian added.
"That's impossible." Although Rachel didn't sound that sure of herself.
"That's what I thought too," Ian said in an undertone.
"I know there's ship to ship communications on here somewhere," the Doctor muttered into the ensuing silence.
"Can I help?" Ace asked, coming up to the console beside the Doctor.
"Ah, here it is." He pushed Ace aside to flick a switch. "Daleks, this is the Doctor. Surrender the Hand of Omega before it's too late."
They were all silent, waiting, but no reply came.
"Not feeling talkative, are you?" The Doctor tapped a couple of buttons. "Reading a power build-up," he said quietly. "They're using it. Daleks, this is your final warning," he said louder.
There was still no reply.
"What are you threatening them with?" Ian asked. "The TARDIS doesn't have any weapons." Or if it did that was news to him. Unless it was part of the remodel.
The Doctor shook his head. "They've launched it." There was a beeping from the console that gradually sped up. Another lever pulled and on screen they could all see an explosion. Although of what, Ian couldn't tell.
"What's happened?" Barbara asked.
Ian squeezed her hand, wondering the same thing.
"They've fired the Hand of Omega into Skaro's sun, just as I predicted." The Doctor smiled. "And turned it supernova, just as I hoped."
"So that's it?" Ace asked, sounding as if she disliked the anti-climax.
"That's it. Now, back to Shoreditch." He flicked switches with a flourish.
Ian shook his head. He wished the Doctor had revealed that part of his plan. He wouldn't have been as nervous about what they were doing for a start.
Barbara stepped forward. "What about the Thals?"
The Doctor waved a hand. "They've long since left the planet. Doing very well for themselves too."
Ian wished he could see them again, but not so much that he was willing to leave Earth and they were already landing anyway. When the Doctor opened the door Ian was the first out.
He wasn't sure what he'd been expecting to see, but it turned out to be the school playground. It didn't look any different, but that might only meant they were somewhere in the vicinity of 1963. What clinched it was the headmaster lying on the ground not far away with a soldier sitting beside him, looking like he was standing guard. "Headmaster!" Ian ran to him and knelt down beside him, checking for a pulse. He was relieved when he found it.
"Is he all right?" Barbara asked. She'd followed Ian at a slower pace and came to a stop beside him.
He looked up at her. She looked worried and he smiled. "He seems to be." For a certain value of 'all right' anyway. He was very glad not to have to tell her the headmaster was dead.
The Doctor leaned down and checked the headmaster's ears. From behind the left one he pulled out a small device that looked like it could be a hearing aid, but Ian didn't remember the headmaster ever wearing one.
"What is that?" Ian asked, leaving the headmaster to the soldier and standing up to get a better look at it.
"Dalek control device." He threw it to the ground and stamped on it. It crunched beneath his foot. Allison bent down to pick up the pieces and study them.
"So he was under their control." He was glad the headmaster hadn't been acting of his own volition. Explaining why the headmaster had considered him unfit to work in a school would have been hard when no one else even knew what a Dalek was.
"Will he remember any of it?" Barbara asked.
"Very probably, I'm afraid."
Barbara bit her lip.
"Maybe he won't fire us," Ian said hopefully.
"I was more worried about whether he'll be all right," Barbara said.
Knowing the headmaster he'd be fine. Maybe he'd think it was all a dream. Or a nightmare. If that was the case Ian had no intention of alerting him to how much he'd experienced had been real. Otherwise they'd just have to pretend they knew as little as him. He couldn't imagine the headmaster would believe the truth.
"Let's leave him to the professionals," the Doctor said, and nodded towards the gates, where a couple of soldiers were coming in carrying a stretcher.
"He'll be in good hands," Rachel assured them.
Barbara smiled at her.
"Good." The Doctor clapped his hands together. "I'm starving. Where's the nearest place to eat?"
Ace grinned. "You should have eaten earlier, Professor."
In the nearby café, which Ian had been past many times, but never been in, there were bacon sandwiches all round, which everyone tucked into with enthusiasm. It had been a long evening and they'd missed dinner.
"I know it's not the date we planned," Ian said apologetically to Barbara, who was sitting beside him and enjoying her coffee. Although there wasn't much space with all the people crammed in, there was enough chat that no one would overhear them and he didn't have to speak too softly. They'd already caught each other up on their experiences with the Daleks.
"We weren't expecting the Dalek in the cellar." She smiled. "As long as there aren't any aliens next time, I'll forgive you."
Ian smiled and squeezed her hand, glad there was going to be a next time.
Across the table, the Doctor and Ace were arguing.
"It's just a few bottles," she said. "And the times on the fuses are all correct now. You can't complain about that."
He shook his head. "I can," he said. "Where did you make them?"
"In the chemistry lab." She nodded in Ian's direction. "I understand more about making fuses now."
The Doctor narrowed his eyes at Ian. "You helped her," the Doctor accused him.
Ian had heard enough of their conversation to know what the Doctor was accusing him of. "What?" He dropped Barbara's hand and stared at the Doctor surprised. "Ace's Nitro 9 might have killed one Dalek, but you blew up their sun."
"I couldn't let them have a decent method of time travel." The Doctor leaned forward.
Ian unconsciously copied the gesture. "They didn't have one in the first place."
"They would have found the Hand of Omega eventually," the Doctor admitted. "I only hid it a couple of days ago, linear time."
Ian took that to mean that he'd hidden it the day before they met. And before he regenerated, whatever that involved, he still wasn't clear on that point. "What were you doing with it?"
"When I left my home I took it with me. Long story." He waved it away and reclined in his chair.
Ian sighed. As much as he wanted to hear the whole story, he suspected the Doctor was never going to tell them. He'd always had a tendency to miss out any inconvenient facts. He didn't get a chance to ask anyway because Rachel tapped Ian on the shoulder.
"Can I talk to you?" she asked, looking uncertain.
Ian wondered what that was about, but picked up his cup, still in need of the caffeine, and followed her over to the corner where they were less likely to be overheard. "I'm going back to Cambridge in the morning," she said, "but the Group Captain needs a permanent scientific advisor. I'd like to recommend you for the position."
Ian blinked. It wasn't what he'd expected at all. "Are you sure? I don't have a PhD." Besides, he already had a job. Probably.
She nodded. "All the doctorates in the world can't make up for experience and you have more experience of this sort of thing than anyone else."
He did, but he'd always been aware that the Doctor had more scientific knowledge than he'd ever understand. He couldn't hope to match it. Yet he knew the Doctor wasn't likely to hang around. He never did like to stay in one place too long.
"Think about it," she said at his hesitation. "And call me." She pulled a pen out of her jacket pocket, picked up a napkin from a nearby table and wrote her phone number on it. She smiled as she passed it to him and then left to return to the table Allison and Gilmore were sitting at.
Barbara looked up curiously as Ian returned to his seat and tucked the napkin into his trouser pocket.
"I'll tell you later," he said quiet enough so no one else would hear.
She nodded. "Did you know Ace was from the 1980s?"
"No, I didn't." It hadn't come up earlier, but then they hadn't spoken of much beyond chemistry. "How did you come to be travelling with the Doctor?" he asked, turning to Ace.
"Never mind that," the Doctor put in, spinning round from where he'd been listening to another conversation and not seeming to pay them any attention at all. "It's time to go."
Ace sighed, but said, "Saved the world, now onto the next planet."
Ian smiled. That had been his life too, until yesterday. "It's been lovely meeting you. You should keep up with your chemistry, you have a talent for it."
Ace smiled; the Doctor scowled.
"We should probably go too," Barbara said, "it's getting late."
Ian guessed she wanted to check on her mother so he nodded and they said their goodbyes to the other occupants of the café.
Outside it was dark and getting cold. Barbara hastily buttoned her coat. Ian didn't bother - they weren't going far.
"So what happened to Vicki?" Barbara asked the Doctor as he left the café behind them and they all headed towards the TARDIS, which was on the way to the school, where Ian's car was still parked.
"She married Troilus," the Doctor answered, swinging his umbrella as he walked.
And the wife of Troilus was...
"Cressida?" Barbara asked, coming to the answer just before Ian did.
The Doctor's smile was his reply.
Ian shook his head, trying to imagine Vicki choosing to live in what was such a primitive time, especially to her, and couldn't. But then she didn't have a home to go back to either.
The TARDIS wasn't far away and they were soon there. "Feel like another trip?" the Doctor asked, his hand on the door.
Ian took a step back. "It's hard enough coming back after a couple of years away. Another two years and we'll have forgotten everyone's names."
"Oh." The Doctor sounded disappointed, but turned a hopeful look towards Barbara.
She shook her head and stepped back to stand beside Ian and take his hand. "As far as the school's concerned Susan's vanished," she said. "Although perhaps we should tell them something."
Ian thought that leaving them in ignorance would be simpler, Pat's investigation notwithstanding.
"Don't worry," the Doctor said. "I'll tell them." Except that he then entered the TARDIS. Ace gave them a wave before following him and it dematerialised before their eyes.
They stood watching the space it had occupied for a few moments, until Barbara said, "Let's go home."
Ian turned to her before they could go any further. "Dinner tomorrow?" he asked.
She smiled. "I'd like that." She reached up and kissed him.
Note: Some speech is from The Chase and Remembrance of the Daleks.