Like, take last April? Last April I was walking down the street. Simple street, middle of London, 1964. A year earlier and I would've risked bumping into myself, which was always awkward. Not that I don't adore my other selves, splendid fellows and all that, they're just so dreadfully difficult to deal with. Ooooh, I like that. Alliteration. Dreadfully difficult to deal---anyway.
So I was walking along Cherry Tree lane when I hear the most peculiar noise. Now, let's take my lifestyle into the whole scheme of things and peculiar is peculiar when you're me. It sounded like singing, which does happen on rare occasions on some planets, but is far more likely in the Sweetoptian Galaxies---dreadful places, you burst into song without warning. As it was, London? 1964? Just doesn't happen. So, naturally, I followed the sound to find several schoolchildren dancing around on some sidewalk drawings. Singing about spoonfuls of sugar or something or other, I wasn't really paying attention.
You see, it was their Nanny I had my eye on. Not just any Nanny, no. She was like me. A Time Lord. Well, Time Lady. Obviously in a timeline before the War. Simple dress, black umbrella, and a strange black hat with white flowers on it.
She was Merry. That's what we called her back at the Academy. Merry Pop-ins, because she was always so bloody happy with the universe and could never stay in one place too long. I was actually quite a git to her in our Academy years. I vaguely remember her getting back at me and the Master---back before he was the Master---during graduation. Terribly embarrassing story, but we really did deserve it.
With Time Lords, you don't have to see someone to recognize them. You just sort of feel it. With regenerations, it's almost necessary. Well, sometimes manners outweigh aspects, but still. We recognize each other psychically. Makes a lot more sense when you're a Time Lord.
Anyway! So, there she is, Merry Pop-ins, standing with two human kids and singing. If I remembered rightly, which I of course did, she was always quite fond of the Sweetopian Galaxies. Probably because of how gleeful they could be. She was a brunette, now, and rather tall. Not unattractive, either. Rosy cheeks. But she always had rosy cheeks.
And being a Nanny? What?
She leaned down, opened her handbag, and pulled out several very large kites. They were unfolded and clearly impossibly large for the bag.
"Let's go fly a kite…"
"Run along, children," she gestured to the park and they scampered off, continuing to sing.
I stepped up to her and grinned widely.
She looked up and tilted her head to the side. "Oh, I do hate it when you use such a condescending tone with me, Doctor. I rather like the name 'Mary', now."
I nodded, "Yes, you seem to have embraced your inner…" I looked to the singing children. "Glee."
"Sweetopian perfume," she said. "It actually elevates human emotion. Quite nice when dealing with grumpy children."
You see? I'm brilliant. I knew it was Sweetopian.
"And for children dealing with as much as they do…" She sighed, and pulled a lawn chair out of her handbag and placed it on the sidewalk to rest in.
"Not exactly responsible, is it?" I asked. "Showing off your dimensional bag, there?"
She shook her head. "The children find it more magical than anything else. What was it that one fellow they have here used to say? Clark?"
"Any advanced form of technology…" I nodded.
"Yes, yes, that." She sighed and took off her silly black cap that was adorned with small white flowers. "The children of this planet are wonderful, you know? They take such simple things from our world and turn them into magic. Like nanoliquid?" She reached into her bag to produce a pot of tea and two cups. Not wanting to be impolite, I naturally took one of the cups. Three sugars no cream.
"What? The dreadful medicine? The one that tastes like rum punch?"
"Well, for us it does, for them it's whatever they desire." She nodded. "For years I could never understand your fascination with this planet, Doctor, but they are so lovely here. Simple and yet amazing. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious."
I rolled my eyes. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. The Gallifreyan equivalent of "groovy" to a person from the 21st century.
"Oh, but being around them does make me so nostalgic for youth, you know?" she sighed and sipped her tea. "For the days where we could find such things as singing without reason to be magical."
"You and I were strange creatures, I think," I replied. "Most Time Tots never found anything to be magical. 'Cept school and…learning. And observation. Big on the watching-but-don't-act."
She nodded and took another delicate sip of her tea. "Are you living here, in London?"
"Not really? Well, temporarily. Just a quick look-round, pick up some lunch." I shrugged and scratched my head. It's come to my attention that I scratch my head a lot. I don't think I do, but I've been asked by companions if I have fleas or something. For the record, I do not. It's simply a nervous tic and should be left alone.
"I've been asked to head the thesis department back at the Academy. Have they asked you yet? I heard they might."
That was good. I at least had a vague idea where she was coming from. I had been asked to be a lecturer (and completely ignored the request) during my sixth incarnation. It was also ridiculously surreal. Making idle small talk with one of my own kind decades after they'd all died off. Elating and saddening all at the same time.
"Weaeaeaeaell, you know me," I said. "Always on the move, that sort of thing. Like you, actually. Couldn't seem to keep your feet nailed to the floor."
"Pop-ins," she said. She smiled, then. "I've actually adopted that. My Nanny-name. Fits quite well, and it's rather difficult to forget it."
"Turning a bad thing into something good," I nodded. "Can't fault you for that."
I wondered if she knew anything. Oh, I couldn't imagine that she did. After all, the timelines were sealed back when the Time War came through. She couldn't see into my mind, couldn't tell what was coming for her. By the time she made it back to Gallifrey to teach, she was forced to fight alongside everyone else.
Rather than wallow in self-pity (despite what a fantastic hobby it's become for me lately), I took another sip of my tea and shook my head free of it.
"What about this lot? Not interfering, are you?" I asked, my tone mock-scolding. As if I could chide anyone for interfering.
She laughed at that. "Oh, I'm quite certain they would see it that way."
"Well, I have to admit it's quite an irresistible idea. Interfering. Become a bit of a hobby of mine."
"So I've heard." She gave me a quick look up-and-down. "Have you hit the big one-oh-oh-oh yet?"
"No," I said, not too defensively. "I'm only 903."
"You were 925 during your trials." She took another sip of her tea.
"Was not!" I have been known to get my age mixed up a bit, but I'm quite certain I've got it sorted out, now.
"Suit yourself, Doctor." She drained the rest of her tea and placed it back into her bag. Her umbrella squawked at her, which is when I realized, for the first time, that it had a bird's head that moved.
"Yes, yes, not now," she said, and she bapped it on the nose.
"Is that your TARDIS?" I asked. It looked like a model 342, which had personality amplifiers and a significantly slimmer size. It also had exterior-flight manipulation, if I remembered correctly (which of course I did).
She smiled. "Yes, do you like it? It's so much more convenient to keep around when I'm out walking with the children."
"Seems a bit more likely to get lost," I replied. "I have a police box shaped one, m'self."
"So I've heard. Type 40, isn't it?"
I crossed my arms. "You do seem to know a good deal about me, Merry. Not working for the Council, are you?" I said the words with a teasing tone, but there's always that minor worry that maybe I'm still being watched from opposing timelines.
She smiled again, and it was less prim and much more warm. Yes, yes, she was probably quite beautiful in this incarnation, I decided.
"I've always thought very fondly of you, Doctor. You know what it means to take care of those who can't take care of themselves."
I scratched the back of my head again, nervously. For a girl I tormented in our youths, she'd grown up remarkably stable and secure. Which was a bit more than I could say for myself, rebel and exile that I am. Was. It's a was, I think. English doesn't lend towards past-to-be-presented-perfect-past tense.
"Uh, well, I, uh, better be off, eh? Don't want your children to get caught up in that kite." I said.
She nodded, only a little stiffly. "Very well, Doctor. Take care." And, a little more warmly: "Don't stay away too long." With that, she turned and left to be with her charges.
And, really, deep down I knew that she'd eventually go back to Gallifrey, that she'd be one of those that didn't make it through the War. But then? Just then? It was…nice. Spending a bit of time with someone like me. Cheating the Time Laws. Not being alone.
I turned and headed back towards the TARDIS, a little song in my hearts that I figure had very little to do with the Sweetopian perfume she wore.
Muse: The Doctor (Ten)
Fandom: Doctor Who
Word Count: 1,364