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Episode 1

The last of the Time Lords was having a rare five minutes to himself. He was reclining on a comfortable chaise longue in his book-filled study, his battered first edition of A Brief History of Time propped on his lap. His eyes were closed behind half-moon glasses, and he was breathing slowly and easily as he dozed.
His dreams were far from peaceful, though. A petite dark-haired young girl, with a cheeky smile on her surprisingly broad face, still haunted his nightly rambles through his subconscious mind. The Doctor had no idea who she was, or why she kept turning up in every odd scenario his imagination was able to conjure up. On waking he would feel as if he almost had the girl’s name on the tip of his tongue – but then the dream would dissolve, leaving him frustrated and vaguely unsettled.
He was snatched back to consciousness by the ringing of a telephone somewhere in the distance. The book dropped to the floor as the Doctor leapt to his feet and threw open the study door. The sound became louder, but its echoing through the labyrinth of narrow corridors made its location difficult to pin down.
‘Mobile phones’, he muttered. ‘They’re always a bit too mobile!’
He strode along the corridor, trying to narrow down the source of the sound and cursing under his breath. Misplacing a phone in one’s own home is bad enough; when one’s home is theoretically infinite, and reshapes itself periodically without any warning, the problem becomes incalculably worse.
The ringing sound stopped. The Doctor stopped in his tracks, too.
‘Bugger!’ he said loudly. ‘Still, if it’s important they’ll ring back.’
He was on his way back to the study when the phone started ringing again. He ran his hand through his wavy iron-grey hair and his eyes bulged comically.
‘Where the hell are you?’
He opened the nearest door and listened through the gap. The ringing was noticeably louder here, so he stepped into the room. It was at least ten metres long and half as wide. To his astonishment, it was almost empty except for a huge model railway that stretched around three walls. He shook his head.
He had no recollection of ever building the layout, but the ringing sound was definitely emanating from within the room.
‘Hang on, I’m coming,’ he called, casting around for the missing phone. The ringing continued. Whoever his mystery caller was, s/he was definitely persistent.
‘No, I haven’t been mis-sold PPI,’ he growled as he rummaged through a pile of old Railway Modeller magazines. His fingers closed around the familiar shape of his trusty Nokia thickphone, and he snatched it up with an audible gasp of relief.
Hello, TARDIS benevolent home for distressed gentlefolk,’ he said.
‘Hello?’ said a familiar voice. ‘Doctor?’
‘Yes, it’s me. Sorry I didn’t pick up – I was in another room. Although come to think of it, I’ve never seen this particular room before.’
‘You sound different’, the caller said. ‘Sort of … Scottish.’
‘What’s wrong with being Scottish? Who is this, anyway?’
‘It’s me – Martha.’
The Doctor’s mind crashed backwards several centuries, and countless light years across the vastness of space.
‘Martha Jones?’
‘Yeah! Long time, no hear.’
‘You can say that again.’
Of all the companions the Doctor had travelled with in his long life, Martha had been one of the few to keep in touch. Then again, she hadn’t been trapped in a parallel universe, or had her memories selectively erased, or been blasted back in time, or … There’d been another girl, too, he was sure, but he simply couldn’t bring her to mind.
‘So, how are you?’ he ventured.
‘Pretty good, thanks. I was wondering if you fancied a coffee and a catch-up.’
Something in her tone told him this wasn’t just a casual social call.
‘Yes, that’d be lovely. Where do you want to meet?’
I’m in Cardiff at the moment,’ Martha said. ‘How about the coffee shop in Waterstones?’
‘Okay, great. Give me five minutes.’
With the TARDIS safely parked in the lane outside Metros, the Doctor made his way through the familiar streets of the city centre. Waterstones occupied two floors of a handsome red-brick building on the corner of the Hayes. He breezed in through the open door, paused for a moment to peruse the bestsellers, then took the stairs two at a time and headed for the little Costa at the back of the shop.
Martha was sitting at a table near the window, half-reading the paper. She glanced up as the Doctor strolled in, but then returned to her people-watching from her vantage point high above the street.
The Doctor caught his reflection in the window, and remembered why she’d shown no sign of recognition. He approached her table, put on his most winning smile, and extended his hand.
‘Dr Jones, I presume?’
Martha looked up and gasped in surprise.
She’d been expecting to see a tall, very slim young man with dark brown hair sticking up in all directions, wearing a smart suit with a carelessly knotted tie. Instead, the stranger in front of her was at least old enough to be her father, dressed in a white linen shirt and smart black trousers, topped with a black Crombie overcoat. His face was thin and pale, with hollow checks and the first signs of wrinkles around his eyes. Only his eyes, in fact, betrayed his identity. The same intensity and keen intelligence that she remembered blazed deep in those pale grey-blue irises.
‘Sorry,’ she managed after a few moments’ shocked silence. ‘I didn’t recognise you for a minute. It’s been a few years.’
‘A few hundred, in my case.’ He beamed and tried not to laugh at her confused expression.
Martha, on the other hand, had hardly changed at all. The short, petite mixed-race girl wore a casual jumper and tight jeans, and had a leather jacker on the back of her chair. Her glossy black hair was tied back in a long ponytail, and she looked cheerful and relaxed.
‘I’ll get some coffee and tell you all about it,’ he suggested.
A few minutes later he was outlining (very briefly) his adventures since they’d last seen each other.
‘Do you remember when Professor Yana turned into the Master?’ he asked. ‘Regeneration, we call it.’
‘How could I forget it? That was the start of the worst year of my life!’
‘Well, that’s what happened to me, soon after I saw you last. It’s happened twice since then, in fact. And I fancied a change from the “eccentric schoolteacher” look, too.’ He grinned and raised his mug towards her. ‘To old times and old friends.’
‘Cheers’ Martha chinked her cup against his and smiled her familiar smile. ‘Old times and old friends.’
‘Do you ever hear from Jack?’
‘Not a word.’ She looked sad at the memory of the dynamic daredevil who’d accompanied them (accidentally) to the very end of the universe itself. ‘I’m sure he’s up to mischief somewhere, though.’
‘I’d bet my life savings on it.’
‘You’ve never got any money!’ she retorted immediately.
‘He laughed.
‘That’s partly why I decided to be Scottish this time – it makes for a good cover.’He took a mouthful of coffee and licked his lips. ‘Coffee in a bookshop. What a great idea! I think I’ve just decided where I’ll spend my time when I retire.’
‘Well, don’t hang up your sonic screwdriver just yet, mate. I’ve seen something in the paper that might be right up our street.’
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