Paul Gadzikowski


"You know," said Padme as the Doctor led her into the TARDIS console room, "I believe I've actually gotten used to this."

"Accustomed to the adventure, the danger?" The Doctor shut the TARDIS exterior doors. "I don't think I ever have."

"After all the time you've been at it?" Padme dropped the Yongurian Sacred Chalice into a storage compartment. "I mean, for me it's only been - well, it's hard to tell with time travel. You agreed to take me on for a year."

The Doctor turned away to the TARDIS console, setting the time machine into motion. "Be precise! A year is different depending on the planet. A Gallifreyan year? An Earth year?"

"You know what I meant. A Naboo year. How long has it been?"

"I should have to check the log," the Doctor lied, not looking up.

"Well, I'm going to clean up." Padme strode to the console room interior door. As soon as she was gone, Yoda was there.

The Doctor had his back turned, but he knew Yoda was there and Yoda knew he knew. The Jedi master was in the same spot where the Keeper of Traken had first appeared. The penultimate Keeper, the Doctor recalled. That had not turned out well. This should not turn out much better.

"Time it is, Time Lord," Yoda said. "Past time."

"A few days." The Doctor temporized half-heartedly because he knew genuine effort would be wasted, now that he'd been caught out. "A few more won't hurt. Particularly when the TARDIS can return her to any minute -"

"Know better do you," said Yoda. The Doctor turned. Like the Keeper, Yoda had projected a chair with himself; mindful of the physical inconvenience and psychological handicap of making more average-sized humanoids stoop in order to talk with him. "Attempting to postpone the inevitable you are."

"Yes," the Doctor said, and fell silent.

Yoda regarded him back, then realized, "To do with your foreknowledge about Skywalker this is. Reluctant you are to return her on his account." He must want to ask more. This was his first indication that what the Doctor knew about Anakin Skywalker's future was bad news, perhaps confirmation of the reservations Yoda had had from the start. But Yoda knew the Doctor wouldn't answer. So he asked about that. "What would you say if reversed the situation were?"

The Doctor had been wrong to try to delay it, but had done so anyway, salving his conscience with the knowledge that it couldn't work for long; and here was Yoda now. But some relative weeks ago he'd stumbled on a glimpse of Padme's - Amidala's - future history and he hadn't liked what he'd seen. Oh, he'd known the broad outline before. But this detail, this ... pain.

He sighed. "She'll be back within a day." There was nothing else to say.

Yoda nodded. "Do not fear so, Doctor," he said as he began to vanish. "Always in motion is the future."

"Depends on your perspective," murmurred the Doctor, but he was alone.

As he had once explained to Obi-Wan in that Jedi's future, true history is that comprised of the free will of those who live it. But it was still history to the Doctor, even if Yoda couldn't see the horizon for the forest. Yoda was too close to the problem - and, like any humanoid, had blinders of his own, deriving from his very nature. A Jedi doesn't know fear.

Or hate.

Or love.


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