Slowly and almost silently the pair edged towards the blasted tree as the wolves circled closer and with more confidence. The leader of the pack, a huge grey, blind in one eye and with a damaged ear, coiled to pounce, staring right at the Doctor. Meeting it’s gaze the Timelord felt behind him and ripped a dead branch from the tree. The crack of breaking wood echoed around the mountains and forced the pack leader to check his strike. The Doctor began fumbling in his pocket vaguely waving the torn bough in front of him. Emboldened the wolf began to pad forward, dust and grit raising under it’s huge paws. Triumphantly the Doctor produced his Sonic Screwdriver and turned it onto the dead wood in his other hand. The glow from the blue beam picked out the silver fur and wicked eyes of the now brazen pack as it closed in, snarling. Suddenly the makeshift torch sprang into life, a roaring, guttering flame. Startled, some of the wolves began to back away, snarling now more in fear. “Take this” ordered the Doctor, “and swing it at anything that moves. Well, anything except me.”
Nervously Rose swung the flaming brand around her, in bright, smoky circles forcing the wolves back. Meanwhile the Doctor prepared himself a similar torch and joined her in facing down the danger. Eventually the pack padded away eager to get away from the flames and to find less aggressive prey. Less confident than the Doctor that the danger had passed, Rose gripped the ashy remains of her torch for what seemed like an age before allowing herself to relax and let it drop to the ground.
The Doctor rubbed his hands enthusiastically, squinting at the horizon. “Now then,” he breezed, “can’t be far from here. Keep up then.” And with that he strode off, up a shingle scattered slope. Brushing the grey ash from her hands with a grimace Rose stumbled behind him, her trainers sliding on the shale.
Since meeting the Doctor, Rose had come to the impression that his opinion of ‘Not Far’ and hers varied greatly and had resigned herself to this being a part of his Timelord heritage. They stumbled on for what seemed to be an age, Rose debating whether they were walking in circles and the Doctor apparently sure where they were heading. Without warning the Doctor came to an abrupt halt and seemed to almost sniff the air, “There!” he announced pointing diagonally behind him. The companions turned slowly, leaning their heads back taking in the towering power of the rift in time. An obvious tear, although seemingly though the air itself, the edges were ragged and appeared to be blowing in an unseen and unfelt gale. The flickering, dancing rift was at least three stories high and appeared to be growing, albeit slowly. Beyond the tear a maelstrom of swirling reds and blues thrashed chaotically as if threatening to break through into the peaceful mountain scene.
Roses mind filled with questions. “Is that the rift?” “What’s that inside?” “Is it really all that dangerous?” “Is it really getting bigger?” but the only one that reached her lips was: “How are we going to fix that?”
The Doctor grinned at her and whipped out his sonic screwdriver. “Well,” he replied “If I’m very lucky, and I quite often am, I can pretty much sew it up with this.” Rose considered this for a moment “And if you can’t? Sew it up, with that, I mean?” A look of fear flashed ever so briefly in the Timelords eyes before he responded “Well, then we think again.” He said.
The Doctor strode over to the swirling and eerily silent rift, stooping to its nadir a few centimetres off the rough ground. Focussed on adjusting his sonic screwdriver he was oblivious to his teenage companion as she circled the phenomenon. “Right,” he announced, glancing about trying to find Rose, “Lets see if I’m a genius, shall we?” Slowly, almost tenderly, he pointed the sonic beam at the ragged tear, his eyes intent and serious. Almost immediately the wound in time and space began to heal and had she been listening more intently Rose would have heard the Doctor whisper “Easy”. Carefully the Doctor began to seal the wound as he rose to his feet. His eyes were focussed on the delicate task in front of him, yet he wore an affable smile.
“Doctor?” Rose interrupted, “this is all well and good, but how will you reach all the way up there?” She pointed up at the apex of the growing wound, a worried look on her face. It appeared that the thought hadn’t even entered the Doctors head as he glanced sheepishly upwards. Apparently deep in thought his hands continued sewing up the dangerous tear until he had repaired up to just below his waist when he broke into a huge grin. Meeting his young companions gaze he pointed at her and intoned “Don’t try this at home!”
Gingerly he took a firm hold on each side of the tear, placed a foot onto the new repair, testing the strength of his work before lifting himself up off the ground. Again he made a careful repairs around waist height and eased himself higher. Slowly and meticulously the maverick Timelord worked his way up the twisting and turning flaw, repairing the damage as he climbed higher and higher.
Further and further below Rose stood, feet planted firmly apart, looking nervously upwards. She was chewing absent mindedly on her sleeve fretting for her companion. “Doctor, please be careful.” she tremored. The Doctor put his hand on her face in mock horror. “And there I was, he replied “planning on being cavalier and positively dangerous.” With that he flashed Rose one of his trademark grins and continued his laborious work.
Waiting at ground level for her companion, Rose completely lost track of time. It was possible she had waited for hours before the Doctor, working his way back down, reached the earth. Despite his best efforts he was unable to cover his shaken and ever so slightly distant demeanour. He seemed positively wan as he completed his task sealing the final tiny hole in the tear.
There was a blinding flash of light, silent and cold…
A watery, late afternoon sun eased down on to the streets of Geneva. It was enough to draw crowds to the alfresco cafes, among whom the Doctor and Rose sat, sipping cheap coffee. The Doctor spoke suddenly “So, Rose Tyler, what have we learnt today? In addition to my obvious genius, wolves are not partial to fire and that trains are a great way to travel?” Surprised that her companion seemed serious and failed to flash a grin Rose sat up, in mind of numerous meetings with teachers not that many years before. “Well,” she stammered, “I guess it’s that when you say ‘don’t touch that’ and ‘don’t open that’ I don’t touch or open it?” She gave a hopeful smile. “I suppose, the Tardis is a very complex bit of kit,” she continued, ignoring the Doctor rolling his eyes, “and you just can’t open panels in, er, flight?”
The Doctor sat quietly for a moment, steepling his fingers in thought, before breaking into a grin. “Well, that’s not how I’d have put it,” he said, finishing his coffee in one gulp “but it’ll do I suppose. Now lets go find a station so we can get back to the Tardis eh?”