Though now that he thinks about it, that's not anything very new.
He's standing before a large pillar. On the pillar is a great face looking down at him and his three companions. In his hand is a broken broomstick, procured by unpleasant methods. On his feet are bright red Converses. The Converses, while both stylish and comfortable, are possibly the most frustrating footwear he's ever owned. When the TARDIS landed here, wherever here is, it crushed an evil sorcerer who was wearing the shoes. The sorcerer death passed the shoes on, and since the TARDIS belongs to the Doctor, the Converses transferred themselves to the Doctor's feet. Even though he was originally wearing quite lovely white Converses and red clashes with a brown suit. And another evil sorcerer---this one with a wide, terrifying smile and a habit of drumming his fingers---became obsessed with killing the Doctor to obtain them. The Doctor tried to direct him to a local shoe shop to buy his own, but seeing as he wasn't certain where he was it made giving directions difficult.
But a bucket of water and some unpleasantness later, the Doctor and his companions bested the Sorcerer and came to this face in the stone, this...Wizard bloke in order to obtain directions back through the rift. His companions have their own desires, all of which are valid, but he needs to leave this place and seal the rift behind him. He doesn't want to think what damage he is doing to this brightly-colored world and its inhabitants by staying.
There's the Straw Man, of course. Straw Idiot, the Doctor likes to call him. He can't figure out why, "Idiot" seems like a rather harsh term. And the Straw Man is trying to find a brain, after all. The material used to bind him is dark, and he has straw sticking out of the places where the stitching doesn't quite mesh in. He's in a Nintendo t-shirt that's torn a bit in places from all of their adventuring, and some ratty jeans.
The Tin Man, he's a bit of a mystery, even to the Doctor. His skin is grey, just about matching the long grey coat he always wears. He's all bright smiles and boyish good looks, but he tells the Doctor he's been rusting in those Cardiffian Woods for 150 years. He's looking for a heart, or a way to feel after all these years.
And the Lioness. All wild ginger hair and a sour expression on her face. She was supposed to be married, though something happened that made her run away. She's trying to find courage. Real courage, not just the shouting and ordering about she does to cover up her fear. The Doctor's rather fond of her, even though she's rather fond of slapping him.
And now they're all here, talking to a giant green head.
Upon closer inspection, the Doctor starts to think that the giant face looks a bit like Lord Zed from Power Rangers. The three companions with him aren't from his universe and won't understand the reference at all, which is disappointing.
"What's he gonna do?" The companion on his left asks, scratching at the straw poking out of his collar.
The Doctor snorts. "If I knew, I doubt I'd be waiting. He's probably just trying to figure out what do to with me."
"It's always about you, isn't it?" the Straw Man glares. "Always about you, and it's never about me!"
"Not my fault you're an idiot," the Doctor says.
"I'm trying to get a brain!"
"Yeah, but if you don't shut up, he's never going to give any of us anything," the Tin Man on the Doctor's right says, glaring. He looks at the Doctor and flashes him a Hollywood smile. "With all the charisma in this party here, he can't possibly say no."
"Can't you all just SHUT UP?" the Lioness puts her hands on her hips. "He probably isn't sayin' anything because you all are still talking!"
The Tin Man puts a hand on the Lioness's shoulder. "Hey, hey, he's just checking over it. Nothing to worry about. Everyone just chill out."
"I'm chill!" the Straw Idiot says, flailing a little.
The Doctor rolls his eyes. Where does he pick these people up? Really, though, no matter how mad they all drove him each found their own place in the group. The Straw Idiot appeared to be both daft and cowardly when the Doctor first found him, but he quickly proved to be brave in the face of danger. The Tin Man was empty-hearted and manipulative, but he proved to also be loyal and self-sacrificing. The Lioness was loud and loud and loud, but she also was unwilling to back down in a fight. She also threw the water on the sorcerer because he made a comment about her waistline.
"I have seen the broom! But this is not enough! You must go forth and find another element for me!" The Wizard's voice booms down at them.
"Wha? Another bloody fetch quest!" The Straw Idiot crosses his arms and makes a face. "We did our bit, mate! You owe me a brain, this bloke a way home, the Lioness her courage, and Captain Tin here his new attitude!"
"Heart," the Tin Man corrects him. "I'm a lover, gotta be more romantic than that."
"You shall not have them! Not yet!"
"Don't make me come up there!" growls the Lioness. The Tin Man reaches for his colt. This is starting to spiral out of control quickly and the Doctor knows he has to stop it before it does. They all very nearly died at the hands of the Sorcerer. The Sorcerer pulled stuffing out of the Straw Idiot's head and poked fun at the missing brother of the Tin Man and mocked the Lioness. They all want things to be right before they move forward. The Doctor just wants to fix the rift before the worlds fall apart.
The Doctor raises his hands and takes a few steps forward. "We did what you wanted. Didn't want to, but we did. You said you had answers. Give them first."
"You can not order me, tiny man! I am the Wizard! I know all!"
The Lioness roars and bounds up the stairs to the pillar. The Doctor cries out for her to stop, but she runs past him and…the pillar vanishes. Left behind is a strange, knobby-headed metallic creature with a projector on the top of its rounded head.
"What is that?" the Tin Man points his gun at it.
"You aren't even anything!" the Lioness throws her hands up in the air. "I want you to get me some courage, now, pepper pot!"
The 'Wizard' goes silent. The Doctor steps up to the creature and circles it once. Something in the back of his mind…tickles. The same way it did when he first met his companions. It almost feels like he knows the Wizard. Like he knows…
Feet pound against concrete and they run, run, run away.
"Send them back to hell! Into the Void!"
"Doctor!" the Lioness barks and the Doctor's head jerks up. The memory melts away and he stares at the creature as if nothing has happened.
"Who are you?"
"You're not a Wizard, though," the Doctor says. "You're just barely here. Just a projection."
"I-am-a-shamed," the Wizard says, and its eyestalk lowers sadly. "I-have-been-hi-ding-for-years. No-one-will-ac-cept-a-ro-bot-as-a-guide!
The Tin Man lowers his weapon. "So you can't help us?"
"All this was for nothing?" The Straw Idiot's crestfallen expression breaks the Doctor's hearts. He's wanted to prove himself for so long, now. The Lioness and the Tin Man have their strength of self behind them, but the Idiot's always fallen behind.
"You-do-not-un-der-stand," the Wizard says. "While-I-can-not-give-you-the-things-you-d
It feels wrong. This feels…wrong. The Wizard is being too kind. Why are the Doctor's hearts pounding in fear? He is positively terrified.
The Wizard's eyestalk turns to the Lioness. "You-have-al-ready-shown-that-you-are-no
The Doctor shakes his head. The feeling of wrong persists.
"This place was floodin' and burnin' and they were dyin' and you just stood there like…a stranger."
Then to the Tin Man. "You-have-shown-that-you-have-a-heart-by-h
"This new regeneration. It's pretty cheeky."
Then to the Straw Idiot. "And-you---"
"Mickey Smith meet the universe."
"No," the Doctor shakes his head and takes a step backwards. "No, no, something's wrong."
Everyone turns to look at the Doctor. "What's up, Doctor?" The Tin Man puts his hands on his hips and stares at him as he backs away. They're starting to fade, but their faces are making more sense. But the Tin Man is taller and in a heavy coat and the Straw Idiot is in a t-shirt and running away from something, and the Lioness is in a white dress and…it's all coming together but it's not.
"This is wrong," the Doctor says, stumbling over his strange red shoes. "I know everyone here. I know him. I know them. I know you."
He takes one step, then two, and he walks into someone right behind him. He spins around and the Good Witch is there. She’s as lovely as she was when he first met her in Munchkin Land. She's in a white corseted dress and her beautiful hair is piled atop her head along with a crown. She's like a little queen.
"Every lonely little boy must learn how to dance---"
"Doctor!" She raises her wand and he realizes that they're alone on the platform where the pillar was. Her lips move into a strange sort of smile and she captivates his attention. It reminds him of something, too. A time she captivated his attention. He can't think of where. What. Where. Who---
"You have always had the power to return home, Doctor," she says. "All you must do is click your heels three times and imagine where your home is."
"What?" The words she says sound wrong. They sound off. Strange, like everything else here.
"Imagine where your home is," the Good Witch says. "Click your heels and imagine the time-space galactic coordinates to your home."
The Good Witch has never lied to him before. She's only been good to him. She's taken his hand and looked within his---no, no, that's not right. It's not right. Still, he has to trust her. He's always trusted her.
He liftss his heels up off the ground and smacks the back of the Converses. One. Two. Three. Ten-Zero-By---
"There's no place like home," he whispers.
"Yes, Doctor. No place like home. Now imagine where home is. Tell me where home is."
He blinks. Blinks. Blinks. The Good Witch's face vanishes, replaced by the slimy green form of a Ruten. He knows what it is. He knows. He knows.
Jack. Mickey. Donna. The Master. Daleks. Reinette. Rutens! He blinks again and when he tries to move his head, he feels that it has been strapped into some sort of machine. He's in a machine in a room and surrounded by Rutens, staring at a screen with Reinette's face on it. She looks wrong, dream-like.
No, no. A manipulation.
"He is awake! He's coming out of the chemical coma!"
"It's too soon! We haven't managed to get Gallifrey's coordinates. Put him back under!"
"No!" The Doctor struggles, but he's so drowsy, so confused. He's held down, he doesn't know where he is, and where is everyone? "No! Stop!"
He hears a cry. Something primal, like a roar. And the Lioness---no, Donna. It's Donna, with a gun of some sort. With an army of Sontarans behind her, also firing the same gun. The Rutens cry out and melt beneath her might. Well, the might of whatever gun she has.
The Doctor struggles and shakes. After a moment, Donna appears at his side and begins unstrapping him from the machine.
"Doctor?" Her voice is frightened and breathless. "Doctor?"
"I had a strange dream," he whispers. "And you were there…"
"Don't worry, Doctor. Going to get you home." She wraps one of his arms over her shoulder.
"Yeah," he nods and leans heavily against his courageous companion. "There's no place like home."
Muse: The Doctor
Fandom: Doctor Who
Word Count: 2,098