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[personal profile] lost_spook
[personal profile] el_staplador requested Meet Me at Midnight for the Fic Commentary Meme.

This was a recent one, written to finish off one of my remaining [community profile] who_allsorts prompts on my Fourth Doctor claim, the prompt being, "I will go alone," which, in conjunction with Four, made me think of the line from Androids of Tara where the Doctor says, "They always want you to go alone when you're walking into a trap, have you noticed that?" So I thought it could be fun to play with that being the Doctor's voice of experience speaking there.

I picked the prompt set out a couple of years ago now, and the vague idea had been lurking for a while, and then suddenly the full idea just struck me, and I wrote it and it was a lot of fun. I do have my original notebook version, but it didn't see a lot of changes, overall.

Each segment was, hopefully (and judging by comments, fairly successfully), a typical scene with each Team TARDIS of Four's era. (Well, barring Four, Romana & Adric, but the E-Space trilogy is still on my to-watch pile.)


Meet me at midnight, in the third of the Temples of Death. Come alone. A Friend.

“How nice,” said the Doctor, folding up the hand-written note. “I wonder if it’s a midnight feast. What do you think, Harry?”

“In a temple of death?” Harry said, raising an eyebrow. “Seems a bit unlikely. Even if it is only the third one.”

The Doctor pulled a lugubrious face. “Well, you never know. It could be. I’ll take a few jelly babies anyway. Never turn up to a party with empty pockets, that’s my motto.”

“You’re not actually going, are you?”

“It would be rude not to. So, you and Sarah will stay here and tell Alfredo where I am – assuming he’s still alive –”

“Now, look here, Doctor –”

“Alone,” said the Doctor. “And don’t tell Sarah until after I’ve gone.”

It was a trap, of course. No sooner had the Doctor arrived at the Third Temple of Death, discovered a way to open the heavy stone door, and cheerily called out to announce his presence, than he realised that he was not alone after all. Swinging around abruptly, he found Harry Sullivan close behind him. Somewhere above them, they heard an ominous creak, and even as Harry shouted out a warning, a cage fell with an ear-wrenching clang as it hit the floor, leaving the pair of them neatly boxed in.

“What was that you were trying to say?” the Doctor asked once he’d got his breath back, as he rescued his hat from where it had fallen somewhere in the darkness beside him.

“’Look out, Doctor, it’s a trap,’” said Harry. “Sorry about that.” He switched on his torch. “Gosh. Rum sort of place, isn’t it?”

The beam was illuminating some very strange carvings indeed, but the Doctor ignored them in favour of glaring at Harry. “Of course it’s a trap – what else would it be? Why do you think I wanted to come alone, eh? If it’s a trap, I could be in here, getting gloated at – so handy, a good gloat, I always find – and you, Sarah and Alfredo would be out there.”

“Er, yes, but you see –”

“Never mind. At least Sarah had the sense to –”

“Stay behind?” said Sarah from somewhere very near, giving a sheepish cough. “Not likely. I mean, there you were, walking straight into trouble! We had to try and do something. We didn’t know that you knew that it was a trap. And we did leave a message for Alfredo.”

Harry turned to shine his torch at her. “You all right, old thing? I’d hoped you might have managed to dodge it.”

“No, worse luck. But at least I’m still in one piece – those bars nearly speared me!” She paused. “So, what do we do now, then?”

“Well,” said the Doctor. “I think we hang about here, get our breath back, see if anyone comes to gloat and if not, we could always escape.”

Harry shone the torch out through the bars again. “Well, you’ve got my vote.”

“Mine, too,” said Sarah, eyeing the bones the light was now revealing, lying about the temple floor in all directions. “Can’t say I like it in here very much. They weren’t exaggerating about the death part, were they?”

“So, how do we go about it?”

The Doctor lay back on the smooth flagstones and put his hat over his face. “It’ll come to me presently. You can’t rush genius, you know.”

“Harry,” said Sarah, who evidently didn’t have much faith in genius, rushed or otherwise. “Give me that torch.”

“Righto, old –” Harry handed it over and choked back the rest of his sentence. “I mean, there you go, Sarah. Have you spotted something?”

Sarah shone the torch downwards. “I don’t know, but this stone is a bit loose – I think we ought to take a closer look…”

I think this segment (with them in the trap) was the only really difficult bit - there was some action, three characters, and a fair few asides to build up the sense of an off-screen plot to fiddle with until it wasn't as clumsy as it was when I started. The original version ended with the Doctor in contemplation and no sign of a way out, which I think was the bit that then got awkward.

(Lines lost in the attempt, fished out from my notebook, include the Doctor: "Yes, yes, you're sorry, I'm sorry, Harry's sorry - and now I suppose I'll have to do something terribly clever before someone comes along and kills us. Or worse, gloats." But I'm not sorry; it's definitely better the other way.)


“Psst,” said the shadowy figure skulking behind the pillar. “When the second sun is low in the sky, you must be in the clearing in the centre of the Forest of Souls. Come alone.”

“I say, you couldn’t repeat that, could you?” the Doctor said, only to find his mystery whisperer had gone.

Leela had a frown on her face. “It must be a trap.”

“You think so?”

“If a man hides his face in the shadows and asks you to come alone, it is always a trap.”

“Well, yes, but your people would say something like that. They are rather primitive, after all –”

Leela raised her chin. “My people do not say so. I have learned it from travelling with you, Doctor. Have you not observed it also?”

“Well, yes, true, but it could be he’s just a bit shy. You probably scared him off. I mean, you shouldn’t go around waving knives about like that. People could get the wrong idea. Now, I shall go and see what the chap wants, and then if it should turn out to be a trap –”

“I shall slit the villain from end to end.”

“No! Absolutely no slitting of anyone, and certainly not from end to end.” The Doctor leant back against the pillar and looked out and the dusty, hot courtyard before them. “I go; you follow at a discreet distance, and then if anything should go wrong, which I’m sure it won’t, you can scare the fellow again.”

“So, Doctor,” said the Chief Advisor as a net fell around the Doctor and the guards advanced on him where he was standing in the centre of the clearing. “You walked straight into my little trap. I had expected better of you.”

“Oh, I am sorry. I do hate to disappoint people – I’ll try harder next time.”

Hmm, that was originally, "I do hate to disappoint." Which seems tidier to me. Maybe I'll change it back again.

The man drew himself up, a knife longer and even more lethal-looking than Leela’s in his hand. “There will not be a next time, I assure you.”

“I’d have to agree. You know that my friend is creeping up behind you, don’t you? And she’s not as nice as I am.”

The villain gave a laugh. “You don’t expect me to believe that, do you? Really, Doctor, that trick has been used since the ages of darkness and would not deceive a child –”

“One false move,” said Leela, her blade at the villain’s throat, silencing his sneers, “and I shall kill you. That is a promise.”

The Doctor grinned. “As I said, this is my friend Leela. I think you two are going to get along like a house on fire.”

(This bit originally cut off at "Have you met my friend Leela?" and then cut to a Doctor-Leela exchange that ended:

Leela gave a smile. "I know other means of making an enemy beg for mercy. You are not hurt, are you, Doctor?"

"No, no. Just wishing he'd had time to gloat about his plans before he ran off like that. It always makes things so much easier.")


“Doctor,” said Romana from what sounded like a very long way above him. The pit must be deeper than he’d thought. “Are you down there?”


A small, distant face appeared in the circle of light at the top. “I found the data crystal you were sent. K9 was sure on analysing the message it contained that it must be a trap. And it did seem likely – after all, Fyra seemed very insistent on you going alone and in complete secrecy. Very fishy, I thought.”

“One of these days,” said the Doctor, “it’s going to be someone who’s just a bit shy. You can’t go around assuming everyone is a homicidal megalomaniac.”

“Yes, but, Doctor,” Romana said, “nearly everyone you meet seems to be a homicidal megalomaniac, so –” Her head disappeared again and then returned moments later. “Oh, thank you, K9. K9 thinks it’s about sixty-seven per cent, although I’d have estimated at least seventy –”

The Doctor scowled upwards. “Yes, well, obviously it was a trap, yes. I knew that – but when a chap’s gone to such trouble, it seems unkind not to oblige him by falling into it. I must say, I didn’t realise the falling would be so literal.”

“A few rotten planks over a large hole in the floor?” said Romana. “Hardly worth trying to break your neck for. Doctor, you are all right, aren’t you?”

This conversation grew in the typing, as I was having too much fun. Looking at the notebook shows that most of the dialogue from "one of these days," to here was a typing-up addition.

“Of course I’m all right! How about you stop standing around there chattering and find a rope or a –”

A rope slowly snaked downwards, tickling the tip of his nose even as he spoke.

“Ah, yes,” he said. “Yes, very good. You’re coming along at this business. But don’t let it make your head swell – the credit is all mine, obviously.”

Romana craned slightly further into the hole. “Do you think you can climb up it? It is a long way down and you aren’t as young as you used to be.”

“Romana,” said the Doctor. “Are you by any chance implying that you think I might be too old to climb up this length of rope?”

“Only asking, Doctor. I believe I can see spikes in the sides and they seem to be dripping with some liquid – I was trying to see if I could reach one so K9 could analyse it, but it might be safest to assume that it’s poisonous. Do be careful!”

The Doctor, already a few feet up the rope, glared again. “Pfft, hah. Careful? I’ve been doing this sort of thing at least twice a day since long before you were thought of.”

“Oh, I don’t know,” said Romana. “I believe my biological progenitors spent several centuries planning my conception. I was quite carefully designed, you know, although I think I have considerably improved on their ideas since.”

Romana's immaculate conception was another addition in the typing up process, one which still amuses me.

The Doctor continued his climb, trying to avoid the first spike in the way. “Well, that would explain a lot,” he muttered. Then a thought struck him and he paused – although not for a breather because he was in any way elderly or out of shape, obviously, that would be silly – and had to ask, “Er, Romana. What exactly is this rope attached to?”

“Is there a problem?” she said. “Poor K9 is doing his best, you know.”

“K9?!” said the Doctor and hastened his progress upwards. Sometimes, he thought, his friends alarmed him a good deal more than his enemies. In his experience, enemies were so much more predictable. It was reassuring in its own strange sort of way.


“What do you think you’re playing at, my girl?”

Romana didn’t seem in the least surprised to find the Doctor leaping out on her in the middle of the gloomy forest. She passed him the letter she’d been carrying. “A letter from Sir Marmaduke,” she said in a low tone. “He wants to rendezvous with me at the Old Priory at nightfall. He said I was to be sure to come alone.”

“And you did? What kind of loose thinking is that? It has to be a trap!”

“Oh, yes. I thought so, too. But you always say that if they ask you to walk into a trap, it’s very rude to disappoint them. Besides,” she added with a distant smile and the slightest flick of her blonde hair, “I’m pretty sure I can handle Sir Marmaduke.”

“But what about a Garail, eh? Because I think you’ll find that’s what’s waiting for you at the Old Priory.”

“Gosh,” said Romana, sounding suitably awed. Then she paused before adding, “What’s a Garail?”

The Doctor opened his mouth to try and explain and then waved his arms about before giving up. “You’ll soon see for yourself if we keep on walking in this direction. Anyway, I’ve changed my mind. A person can get bored of walking into traps. It’s not good for your health – and sometimes the villain doesn’t even turn up to gloat. Much better to ignore them – do your own thing. Keep the element of surprise.”

“Oh, all right, then,” said Romana. “I wasn’t feeling terribly keen on the whole going alone business anyway. It’s much more fun with two, after all.”

The Doctor edged nearer to her as he thought about that. “Two what?” he asked, as they strolled on through the woodland into a particularly fine seventeenth century sunset.

The ending was pretty much word for word from the notebook.

So, it was rather fun, it was a nice look back over the changing eras of Four's run, if not quite a Five Times fic. (Only Four Times, but the same X + 1 format.)

Date: 3 Jul 2017 03:56 pm (UTC)
liadtbunny: (AAL Georgie book)
From: [personal profile] liadtbunny
Yes, this was lots of fun and I'm glad you had some fun writing it too! If you do get to E-Space you can squeeze in no.5. My memories of E-Space are hazy as usual, stuff happened;p

If you ever do a ask me anything meme I'm asking you about your notebooks, they seem to have an exciting life!

Date: 3 Jul 2017 06:37 pm (UTC)
eve11: (Default)
From: [personal profile] eve11
I love your Four voice. It is absolutely perfect.

Date: 4 Jul 2017 12:00 am (UTC)
ashlyme: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ashlyme
I really enjoyed these. <3

(Cheeky request, and I don't expect you to do it, can you write the trap where Adric gets killed off before he can step on board the TARDIS? ;))

Date: 5 Jul 2017 08:51 pm (UTC)
el_staplador: TARDIS (doctor who)
From: [personal profile] el_staplador
Thank you! This story is already a great deal of fun, and I enjoyed the notes, too.


lost_spook: (Default)

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