"Well, here it is," the Twelfth Doctor said, gesturing at the dim outline
of the building ahead. "This Time Round."

"Or 'a stark staring madhouse,' as I've always thought of it," Nardole

"Well, you must expect these things when you give women the vote," the First
Doctor said.

Nardole shook his head. "I've seen things in there you can only expect if
you give women hand-held surface to air missiles."

"Still, we won't have any trouble like that tonight," the Twelfth said
cheerfully. "Will we, Bill? ... Bill?"

"She went off to the Steel Maiden with Clara," Nardole pointed out.
"Probably already there by now. She did tell you."

"She did? When?"

"About twenty minutes ago." He shook his head. "You were monologuing at the
time. In one ear and out the other."

"I do not 'monologue,'" the Twelfth insisted.

"Sounded like monologuing to me. Three minutes and twenty-four seconds
without a breath. I don't know how you did it."

"Respiratory bypass." With a wave of his hand, the Twelfth dismissed the
subject. "Come on, let's get in there and not hang around in the rain."

Polly raised a hand. "Do you think they'll let Ben and me in?"

"Oh, I should think so."

"But won't they notice we look-- well, we don't look quite the same?" Ben

"Don't you?" He looked over his younger self's companions. "You look just
the same to me."

"With respect, sir, you're not exactly renowned for your abilities when it
comes to facial recognition," Nardole pointed out.

The Twelfth waved that away, too. "Doesn't matter. Everyone knows Polly's
in charge of who gets in and who doesn't. And we've brought our own Polly,
haven't we?"

"Quite right," the First Doctor added. "Don't bother your pretty little
inadequate brain about it, my dear." He lowered his voice. "Was that
overdoing it, do you think?"

"Where you're concerned, there's no such thing," the Twelfth said firmly.

"Keeps people's minds on what you're saying," Nardole added. "Not on all
the other stuff you got wrong."

"Like what?" Ben demanded.

Nardole shook his head. "What you don't know, won't hurt you."

"Then shall we proceed?" the First Doctor said.

Not waiting for an answer, he strolled into the inn. The rest of the
party followed.

After the dark, raw evening, the interior of the pub was warm and welcoming.
Behind the bar, a burly Ogron was thoughtfully holding a glass up to the
light, angled so that the sock puppet of a cat on his other hand could get
the best view of it. Standing beside him was Adric, a dishcloth in one hand,
wearing the apprehensive look of one whose skills were being subjected to the
most rigorous of judgements. Above the small stage to the left, a
hand-lettered sign reading KARAOKE EVENING hung from the ceiling. A small
cluster of companions and acquaintances were gathered around the stage,
listening to Isobel Watkins as she struggled to do simultaneous justice to
the lyrics of 'Baby Got Back' and the tune of 'I Am The Doctor'. Among the
drinkers in the main part of the room, the Simm Master seemed to be enjoying
the result, though Lord President Rassilon seemed more inclined to clap his
gauntlets over his ears.

At the sight of the new arrivals, a young blonde woman, who looked more
like Polly than Polly herself currently did, bustled up.

"Names, please?" she said, brandishing her clipboard.

"The Doctor," the First Doctor said. "The original, you might say."

"The Doctor," the Twelfth echoed. "Not quite the latest, definitely the


"Ben Jackson."

Polly gave her counterpart a nervous smile. "Polly Wright."

The blonde ticked the names off, seeming not to notice anything out of
the ordinary. "That's all fine," she said. "Enjoy your evening."

"Thanks." Polly hurried after the rest of the party, who were already well
on the way to the bar. Behind her, she heard the other Polly beginning to say
"Just a moment..."

"Evening," the Ogron grunted, as the group came up to the bar.

"Evening, François," the Twelfth Doctor said. "The usual, please."

"'Usual?'" François repeated. "Grey stick-insect man never order same drink

"Then my usual's something I haven't had before, isn't it?" The Doctor
paused, as if a thought struck him. "Not the spring water, though. You can
never tell what's drowned in that stuff."

François, whose eye had been resting idly on a bottle marked SPRING OF
DROWNED VALEYARD, cast around for a few moments, then picked out a dusty
bottle from the extreme end of the shelf.

"Cherry brandy," he said. "Brewed by some monks somewhere to ancient recipe,
François expect."

"Are you sure that's what it is?" Polly asked, as François produced a
foot-long corkscrew.

"And what else could it be, my child?" the First Doctor said.

"In this place? It could be anything."

"Anything's what he asked for, isn't it, princess?" Ben said. "So that's
what he'll get."

Before Polly could explore the logic of this any further, François had
successfully extracted the cork. With the air of a conjurer handing a
discarded prop to his glamorous assistant, he tossed the corkscrew at Adric,
poured out a glass of mahogany-coloured liquid, and handed it to the Twelfth

"Who next?" he demanded.

The First Doctor indicated Polly. "That would be you, my dear. If you
waited until we'd ordered I daresay your flighty female brain would have
forgotten what you wanted."

"*What* did you just say?" Isobel's voice demanded from behind them.

Belatedly, the realisation came to those standing at the bar that the
company was now being entertained by Donna's rendition of 'My Angel Put the
Devil in Me' to the tune of the Toreador march from Bizet's 'Carmen'. Isobel,
no longer engaged in musical pursuits, had evidently got close enough to
overhear one injudicious remark too many.

"Dear me," the First Doctor remarked, "You seem a little put out, my dear.
Might I suggest you think happy thoughts? Flowers, perhaps, or small furry
woodland creatures. Something more suited to your lesser mental stature."

"You senile old bigot!" Isobel snatched up the bottle of cherry brandy. Had
Rory and Mickey not rushed up and caught hold of her arms, she would
undoubtedly have laid the Doctor low there and then, possibly precipitating
an unscheduled regeneration into the bargain.

"Don't do it," Rory urged her. "He's not worth it."

"He isn't usually like that, is he?" Mickey mused. "You think he's been at
the brandy?"

"If he has, it wasn't here," Adric said, leaning over the bar. "He hasn't
touched a drop, I promise."

François grabbed him by the scruff of the neck. "Back to work, dead boy. Who
next to order?"

Together they surveyed the bar. Rory and Mickey were, it seemed, managing to
talk Isobel down, or at least put her in an armlock. But of the other members
of the First Doctor's party, there was no sign.

"Is it me?" a plump gentleman in a blazer asked. Finding himself
uncontradicted, he went on. "First, I'll have a large gin and tonic."


"I still think this was a bad idea," Polly said. She and Ben had retreated
to a secluded booth, and were both trying to ignore the rest of the room.

Ben shrugged. "Don't see why, princess. We've got every right to be here."

"Have you, indeed?" It was the other Polly, the one with the clipboard.
"I think I deserve an explanation, at least. What right have you got to go
around making free with my name?"

Polly coloured. "Are you saying I'm an impostor? A shapeshifter or

"No, I'm not," her counterpart retorted. "Because a shapeshifter would
actually look like me! Couldn't you even get the right colour wig?"

"Wig?" Polly was on her feet. "How dare you!"

"Something the matter?" a familiar voice asked, and another Ben stuck his
head round the corner of the booth.

"Look at them, Ben!" the clipboard-wielding Polly urged. "They're pretending
to be us!"

"What, cosplayers?" The new arrival gave them a close look. "Is she a

The Round's infuriated doorkeeper unbent so far as to say "Why don't we
put her through a Polly-graph test and find out?"

"Wait, don't tell me. She's been on the Polly-juice potion, right?"

"You watch it, mate," the Ben who'd come in with Polly said. "This young
lady doesn't want anything to do with you. Isn't that right, princess?"

The standing Ben shook his head. "You can't even get that right. 'Duchess,'
not 'princess.'"

"Really? Seems to me that's talking her down." Ben rose to his feet. "You
want a little chat about it in the car park?"

A squeal from the karaoke machine momentarily distracted the two bickering
couples; all four looked round, to see that Wesley Crusher and one of the
Osgoods had the machine in bits, presumably trying to cure its tendency to
musical mismatches.

"Now then," Ben said, cracking his knuckles. He turned back to the booth.
"Hang on, they've scarpered!"

Polly pointed her clipboard. "That way. After them!"


"Hello, sweetie," said a voice beside the First Doctor. He turned, to see
the Simm Master favouring him with a grin.

"Do I know you?" he asked.

"If you were really you, you'd know that." The Master smirked. "You really
think I can't spot a false face?"

The First Doctor grasped his lapels. "I'm afraid I haven't the faintest
idea what you're talking about."

"I'm talking about that." The Master poked at the Doctor's nose. "Where did
you get it, novelty shop at Clacton?"

Before the Doctor could stop him, he caught hold of the Doctor's chin and
pulled. The mask came away in his hand, the air blinked as if with the
cheapest of jump-cuts, and where the First Doctor had been standing was

"That belongs to the Faceless Men of Braavos," she said, trying to snatch
the mask back.

The Master seemed unimpressed. "Same difference. I suppose that was the
closest they could get to the old nuisance without actually killing him. So
what's his game?"

"Poker, I think," Ashildr said. "Why?"

"No!" The Master whipped the mask away as Ashildr made another grab for it.
"I mean, what's he think he's playing at having you dress up as one of him and
shoot your mouth off about women's rights?"

"I haven't the least idea."

"No." The Master leaned closer. "You really haven't, have you... So why are
you doing--"

He broke off, at a pricking sensation in his chest. He glanced down, his
gaze taking in the sword that was now in Ashildr's hand.

"I like a girl with spirit," he said, a broad grin spreading across his

Ashildr seemed unimpressed. "Now you can say you were provoked, as I believe
someone once said."

The Master, in one fluid movement, jumped back and pulled his laser
screwdriver out of his pocket.

"Come on, then," he sneered. "If you think you're hard enough."


Captain Archibald Lethbridge-Stewart looked up briefly as Ashildr, her sword
now glowing with blue light along its length, deflected a laser bolt a split
second before it hit her head. Then, deciding that he couldn't possibly have
seen what he just saw, he turned back to the bar.

"Excuse me," he said.

François nodded at him. "Be with you in moment. Serving this gentleman

"Don't worry," the portly gentleman said, downing his third gin and tonic.
"It's all quite straightforward. Now then. The girl with the Scotsman wants
a pink dress. For the drowned chap, a sparkling blackbird..."


"Still no sign of your date, sir," Nardole said.

"She's not my date," the Doctor said. "That would be weird."

"Like that's ever stopped you before."

"Anyway, she'll be here."

"I suppose so." Nardole pulled on his woolly hat. "I'll leave you to it
then. Try not to break anything." He ducked; another ricocheting laser
bolt whizzed straight through where his head had been, and caught Adric
neatly in the heart. "At least, not more than you've done already."

The Twelfth Doctor sat back in his chair, watching the spreading chaos.
The Master's duel with Ashildr had been considerably complicated by the
intervention of Nyssa who, seemingly slighted that someone other than her
had killed Adric, was attacking both parties with equal skill and fury. Polly
and Ben were being chased around the room by the other Polly and Ben, with
tireless energy if not any idea of what might happen if they managed to lay
hands on their prey. At the bar, the stout gentleman was explaining to a
patient François that the Scottish fellow with the legs wanted a small

Such, indeed, was the state of confusion that apart from the Twelfth
Doctor, nobody paid attention to the rapidly descending scream outside, nor
the sound of shattering glass which immediately followed it. Thus the
Thirteenth Doctor's arrival in the Round went almost unnoticed, until she
stopped by the now-repaired karaoke machine.

"Nice tracksuit," she said.

Wesley Crusher, the recipient of the compliment, blushed and forgot to sing
the next line of his song. Since this was "Love, strange love a star woman
teaches" this was probably just as well. By the time he'd regained his
concentration, the Doctor had arrived at her immediate predecessor's table.

"You got here all right, then," the Twelfth remarked.

The Thirteenth nodded. "By way of a cucumber frame or two. I hope they
weren't important cucumbers."

"Probably not." The Twelfth Doctor made a show of adjusting his sunglasses.
"I thought you wouldn't want too much fuss made, by the way, so I made sure
to set a distraction or two going."

"That was you, was it?"

"That's the sort of thing you want for a twentieth anniversary special,
isn't it?" The Twelfth held up his hands to suggest a caption hovering in
the air before him. "'The Five Impostors.'"

The Thirteenth gave the chaos a closer look. "I make it three-and-a-half
impostors, and a bloke in a woolly hat."

"Yes, well. It's the thought that--" The Twelfth broke off as a Dalek
extermination ray -- by now, who was firing what weapon was anybody's guess --
hit the ceiling, bringing a light fitting and several lumps of plaster down
onto their table.

"I thought this was supposed to be a quiet night out?" the Thirteenth
Doctor asked, dusting herself down.

"In this place?" The Twelfth gave her a grin that was positively feral.
"This is as quiet as it gets, believe me."

"Doctor Who" characters belong to the BBC.
Wesley Crusher was created by Gene Wesley Roddenberry.
François created by BKWillis.
This Time Round was created by Tyler Dion... twenty years ago, and doesn't
time fly when you're having fun?

John Elliott

Thinks: This is what a nice clean life leads to. Hmm, why did I ever lead one?
-- Bluebottle, in the Goon Show