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Chocolate Cake Blues

Chocolate Cake Blues
By: Memory Dragon
Disclaimer: I do not own Doctor Who, nor do I make any claim to.
Summary: After leaving Tegan again, the Doctor sets off to collect his companions and tries to forget the whole thing ever happened. The TARDIS has a different idea.
Characters: Fifth Doctor, Evelyn Smythe, a bit of implied and one-sided Fifth Doctor/Tegan
Warnings: Spoilers for the BFA "The Gathering." Also, some not so great Five voice. Ah, well. I did try.
Notes: Oh, look! Many months after finishing this, I can finally post it. And yes, it really was just an excuse to have Five and Evelyn together. Because I think she would adore him.
Thanks: Many thanks to nemaline, for correcting my horrible attempts at writing characters baking cakes. Hopefully, this is a bit more satisfactory.

~

The Doctor stared at the gleaming white console, lost in thought. The trouble with not having companions around to fill the silence was that he was left alone with his thoughts, and that was always a bad thing. In this particular regeneration, he'd avoided that as much as possible by making sure he had a full TARDIS at all times. It limited the between period while he was still looking for someone new to travel with quite nicely, if he did say so himself.

It didn't account for times like now, however, when he'd had to drop his companions off at Monte Carlo in 1966 for a mission without him (at the behest of one of his later selves, no less. The nerve of... well, that was neither here nor there for now) and he had time on his own. Time that gave him more things he didn't want to think about.

"They should be done by now," he told himself, trying to shake the gloom that had settled over him. "Right then. Monte Carlo, 1966. It's about time I picked Peri and Erimem up." Still, he didn't move for a few more minutes, staring moodily at the controls. What would she have said if she'd been here? She probably would have laughed at him for being so ridiculous...

He shook his head, sending his blond fringe flying. "Nothing good comes from reminiscing. You always told her to keep a brave heart, Doctor, so you should do the same," he said, trying to cheer himself up. Except now he was talking to himself again, another thing he really didn't like doing. First sign of madness, that was, and... bother.

Yes, Peri and Erimem would help, and not a moment too soon. He leaned over and flipped a switch inputting the coordinates as he finally set the TARDIS in motion.

Grabbing his hat, he landed the TARDIS and opened the door, stepping out into the warm Mediterranean air... only to find himself in a slightly chilly New England fall. "Well," he said with some embarrassment, "I can see this isn't Monte Carlo." It wasn't, on second glance, even Earth at all, despite his earlier thought upon seeing the color of the trees. Where had he ended up this time?

About to turn around and try to set the coordinates again, he was rather surprised to hear a voice calling to him. "Doctor!" a middle aged woman called out, running up breathlessly.

Her glasses were slipping down her nose as she came to as stop in front of him and she pushed them up absently before smoothing her pinned up hair. On the whole, she looked rather like a librarian - the kind that told you exactly what she thought of you making for making so much noise, and slapped both you and the monster trying to kill you on the wrist before kicking you both out, not the mousy, quiet kind. Not mean, necessarily, because of the very kind and compassionate look in her eyes behind the glasses, but not someone the Doctor wanted to cross either.

"Doctor, it really is you," she said, once she'd caught her breath. "You know, I'm really getting too old for this sort of thing. If you were going to stop by, you really should park the TARDIS closer."

The Doctor blinked, just a little baffled by the encounter but taking it in his stride quickly enough. "I'm terribly sorry. I didn't mean to be a bother. In fact, I really must be going-"

The woman placed her hands on her hips and raised her eyebrows. "Nonsense, Doctor. Dropping by and not staying for tea at least? You should know better than that. Besides, you can't fool me. You look like you could use a slice of my cake right now," she said, lightly scoffing, then pulled the Doctor into a tight hug. The movement surprised him, given he was much more inclined to keeping his personal space to himself this regeneration.

He returned the hug awkwardly when he realized it was expected of him, patting the woman on the shoulder once she released him. The scent of honey and chocolate drifted past his nose as she pulled away, looking at him oddly. "Doctor," she said, "if I didn't know any better, I'd say you don't remember me at all, do you?"

"Um, yes," the Doctor said, plainly embarrassed of the fact. "Well, maybe not. Technically, I haven't lost my memories yet. I think it's that I simply haven't met you. Hazard of time travel, you see. It seems to be happening to me a lot recently." He smiled awkwardly, taking a relieved step back now that she wouldn't be offended by the gap. Hopefully. Sometimes humans could get very sentimental even after things have been logically explained.

"I'm terribly sorry for the inconvenience," he continued, putting his hand on the door of the TARDIS, "but I really must - Madam, I must insist you let go of my arm!"

"I'm sure having a piece of my cake won't blow a hole in the time line, Doctor," she said with a stern, but kind expression on her face. "You might have a different face, but you can't hide it from me when you're sulking. You're worse than one of my students!"

She was pulling the Doctor along with her, across the field into a very large mansion when he stopped short. His earlier resignation came to a complete halt. "I'm not sulking," he huffed, shoving his hands in his pockets so she couldn't take his hand again. "And it's really very kind of you, but it's dangerous for me to meet you when I haven't actually met you yet."

The woman turned back to look at him, highly amused by his actions. It was the exact kind of look a teacher gives to an over-reacting student she was humoring, and he found himself flushing under her gaze. "I'll just have to not tell you anything important then," she said. "And you can tell me all about what's bothering you over a nice cup of tea."

"How do I know I can trust you?" he said, attempting to look suspicious, but finding that to be utterly impossible when the person you were supposed to be suspicious of was looking at you as if you were a bumbling school boy looking for relationship advice. He was uncomfortably reminded of his days back at the academy when he'd tried to talk to his crush and only ended up locked in his room designing his first sonic screwdriver. His efforts to gather the courage to talk to that person had always failed miserably.

The Doctor started to fidget as he tried to explain himself apologetically. He didn't know why he felt the need to explain himself now, but something about the woman's raised eyebrow said he should at least explain why he was attempting to be mistrusting. "The last person I met who knew me in the future did torture me and try to upload my brain into a computer."

"Don't be ridiculous, Doctor," she said, waving off his concerns with a small laugh. "Do I look like the sort of person who would do such a thing? Now, why don't you come inside and I'll make the chocolate fudge icing you like so much."

"Fudge?" he asked, perking up slightly. "This wouldn't happen to be a chocolate cake?"

"Of course, Doctor. One of the best, if I do say so myself and you've always agreed with me," she said, smiling knowingly.

The Doctor felt resignation settle over him again as he allowed himself to be pulled into the very grand house. At least if she were going to poison him, it would be through tea and cake. If she were half as good as she claimed, then it would be very good cake too, so he really couldn't complain.

He found out a little about her as she lead him through the mansion to the kitchen. Her name was Dr. Evelyn Smythe and she was a future companion of his, if she were to be believed. Which he might as well just believe her since he wasn't in a habit of distrusting old ladies who wanted to make him chocolate cake. She seemed nice enough, at any rate. A politician's wife with a doctorate in history and years of teaching experience at a university. Besides, the biscuits she passed him along with the tea were wonderful, and a woman who could bake that well couldn't be evil.

"The cricket outfit is a little better than that coat you used to wear," she said skeptically, eying him critically as he sat on stool pulled up to the kitchen counter. He had to control the urge to fidget again, taking a sip of his tea. "Though I can't say the celery is a very catching fashion statement."

Because her biscuits were really rather addictive, he would politely ignore that. "Do they have cricket here?" he asked instead, ever excited to discuss one of his favorite subjects, especially if the conversation partner was knowledgeable on the game. Recognizing the outfit was always a good sign, especially if she considered it a step up from his other regenerations. Though, considering what some of his past and future selves liked wearing...

Unfortunately, he was disappointed a few seconds later. "No, they don't play cricket here," Dr. Smythe said. "They've developed something like that dreadful American football, but not cricket."

"Oh," was all he said, dejectedly staring into his tea.

It earned him a low chuckle from Dr. Smythe, who was beating together the butter and sugar. There was a pot with a glass bowl on top on the stove and the Doctor could just make out the blocks of melting chocolate. "Would you mind stirring that, Doctor?" she asked when she caught his glance, before continuing on with the previous subject. "I'm sure they'd love to learn if you would teach them. In fact, I know just the group of young people that would be keen pick up a new sport."

"Do you really think so?" That really did cheer the Doctor up nicely. Thoughts of cricket and stirring the half melted goo that promised to be very tasty chocolate was more than enough to raise his spirits. He did have a time machine after all, so it wasn't like Peri and Erimem would be kept waiting. And since he wasn't going to remember most of this anyway, what with losing his memory sometime in the near future, the Doctor didn't see much harm in it.

"Of course they will," she said as she added the eggs to the bowl. The Doctor felt he really should be getting annoyed at how condescending she sounded, but there was something about Dr. Smythe's manner that kept him from arguing. Or maybe it was just the fact she had passed him another biscuit to keep him mollified as he stirred. "I'll give them a call after I've put the cake in the oven. In the mean time, why don't you tell me why you're sulking this time?"

"I'm not sulking," the Doctor said again, immediately recognizing that such a statement generally implied he was indeed doing just that.

"Oh, no?" Dr. Smythe asked, raising her eyebrows. "I suppose I'll just have to find some other poor soul to give all these biscuits to."

The Doctor's hand shot out to cover the biscuits in front of him as he quickly reversed his earlier assumption. Old ladies who bake this well could be evil. Dr. Smythe just laughed as she poured in flour to her concoction, making the Doctor even more indignant. He stopped stirring the chocolate and went back to his tea as he tried not to pout. "Oh, you can't fool me, Doctor," she said. "You might as well just tell me all the details and get it over with."

Something about the look in her eyes told him that it didn't matter how good he was at escaping (and the Doctor did have a few hundred years of experience in that regard), he was never going to leave this comfortable little kitchen until he had told her everything she wanted to know. He drank his tea as he contemplated the unfairness of it all. Just because it was a pleasant and well stocked prison didn't make it any less undignified.

Though, he decided as he watched her take over the now nearly completely melted chocolate, the promise of cake did make it slightly more bearable. "Must I?" he asked with a crestfallen expression in one last attempt to get out of it.

"I'm afraid you must," Dr. Smythe said with a laugh. "Or I'll just have to find someone else who needs cheering up to eat this cake."

That was really just cruel, because at the time she said that she lifted the spoon out of bowl, dripping with chocolate. Then the villainess ran her finger along the side of the spoon, sticking the now chocolate-covered finger in her mouth. He fidgeted uncomfortably, caught between wanting the chocolate and not wanting to talk.

Finally, she passed him the spoon and he decided she was right. Best just get this over with. Following Dr. Smythe's lead, he moodily used his finger to scoop the chocolate off the spoon and - Oh! Oh, my. This really was good chocolate.

"Now," Dr. Smythe said, pouring the chocolate in with the rest of the mixture with a spatula, "why don't you start from the beginning."

"There was..." the Doctor started, forgoing his finger entirely to lick the spoon. The chocolate cheered him enough to go on. "I used to travel with a woman named Tegan. She was an air hostess, from Australia and she was..."

"Someone you cared for?" Dr. Smythe prompted.

"Dr. Smythe, I care about everyone I invite to travel with me in the TARDIS," the Doctor snapped.

"Evelyn, Doctor. I can't have you calling me Dr. Smythe. Just call me Evelyn," the woman said, pouring the cake mixture into several pans. He realized with great pleasure this was going to be a four layer cake. "And I'm well aware that you care a good deal about your friends," she continued. "I traveled with you, remember? But she was one of the special ones, wasn't she?"

The Doctor nodded, cleaning off the last of the chocolate on the spoon. It was easier to keep his eyes down on the spoon than to look up and meet Evelyn's eyes. All of his companions were special, but Tegan shone a bit brighter than the rest. There was something extra-special about her and it had drawn the Doctor to her. "She left me, not too long ago. She said she had seen too much death and that she didn't... she didn't know me anymore."

Putting the trays in the oven and setting a timer, Evelyn came around the counter and gave him the bowl. "That must have been hard on you," she said quietly as he set about using his finger to clean remaining cake batter out of it.

He stared at the bowl, absently sucking on his chocolate covered finger without seeing any of it. He had made so many mistakes with the Daleks... but that was an old wound, one that had healed the best it could, though the scar still remained. "I just saw her again. She's gotten older, a lot older actually. But she was still just as marvelous and brilliant. And she's dying."

Something changed in Evelyn's eyes, but it was hidden too quickly for the Doctor to tell what it was. He hesitated, wanting to ask but not sure where he stood with this strange woman. She'd reacted when he'd said Tegan was dying, but not in the expected sympathetic way. It was almost as if she... not understood the feeling, exactly, but knew how it would effect the Doctor? Which meant she had seen it before. If he knew her in the future, then he really shouldn't know before, but...

Evelyn smiled sadly and reached over to touch his shoulder. "That's not all of it, is it though?"

Better to leave it for now, the Doctor thought with a small sigh. He'd know eventually. "No, it's not," he said, continuing the explanation with heavy words and even heavier conscience. "Tegan is dying because of me. It was some alien tumor she picked up while she'd traveled with me and the stubborn little fool won't... she won't let me help her."

The Doctor looked away, trying not to think of the accusation in Tegan's eyes when she'd found out that the tumor was alien. The Doctor continued on speaking, his voice with an oddly flat tone to it. "She said she didn't want to go back in the TARDIS, not again. She said she was okay with it..."

"Oh, Doctor..."

There was such understanding in Evelyn's eyes when he glanced up at her that the Doctor went ahead with the rest. "You know what is strange? That isn't what makes me feel the worst. Someone..." Then again, he definitely wasn't mentioning that it had been one of her ex-boyfriends - possibly current boyfriend - that had mentioned this to him or now jealous he'd been over that fact. Even worse than the said ex-boyfriend, if he were going to be honest, which he wasn't. "Someone told me that she might have been in love with me, all those years ago. And when I asked her about it, she just laughed and told me how ridiculous that was. As if she'd never even considered it. It's horrible, that her reaction hurts more than the fact she's dying, but I can't stop thinking about it."

This time when Evelyn pulled her stool closer and hugged him, the Doctor didn't feel like pulling back awkwardly. He leaned against her, taking in the scent of chocolate and honey and just let himself be held and comforted. He also didn't protest when Evelyn pulled back, but not away, staying in his personal space he usually kept so closely guarded. She kept an arm around him and the Doctor actually snuggled closer. He was beginning to wonder just how close his future self would be to this strange woman and he had a sneaking suspicion that she would be every bit as important to him as Tegan. Which meant he'd be every bit as heart broken when she left him to marry this politician of hers.

"This reminds me so much of consoling one of my heart-broken students," Evelyn said a few minutes later with an amused, but kind, tone. The Doctor somehow couldn't take offense to it, despite the condescending nature of the comment. "From everything you've told me about the people you've traveled with, it sounds like it's generally the other way around. They're the ones half in love with you, aren't they?"

"It's happened before," the Doctor admitted, thinking back to how he'd felt when Jo went off with that scientist fellow, leaving him and UNIT. It didn't happen often, granted, but it'd happened before. Though he dismissed the idea that it was 'the other way around' with his other companions, assuming that was just his future self exaggerating how much his past companions adored him to scold the current ungrateful one. He'd done it before in previous regenerations, if not this one.

"Heart-break is always a terrible thing to go through," Evelyn said as she squeezed his shoulder gently. "But do you regret it?"

The Doctor looked over at her, lifting his head from her shoulder where he'd been resting it. He thought about that carefully, then shook his head. "She was happy when she traveled with me and... she said she was happy now too, despite everything that was going on. I'm... I'm glad I met her. I'm glad I got to see her again too."

"You'll be alright then," Evelyn said, hugging him tightly again. This time he did muster up the will to look vaguely disgruntled at her condescending tone, but he still didn't pull away. This was... very nice, sitting like this and breathing in the warm smells of chocolate baking. While he wasn't one generally given to hugs, this felt comfortable. It... helped. Despite the heartbreak over Tegan, he still had something to look forward to.

Well, if he remembered this. "Did I say anything about having met you before, when we first met?" he asked suddenly, as the thought struck him. Evelyn shook her head and the Doctor sighed. Wonderful. "This must be part of the memory loss I'll have sometime soon," he said, regret coming into his voice.

Evelyn merely seemed amused, her eyes lively behind her glasses. "You know you're going to lose your memory?"

"I must do at some point. I just met someone who recognized me and... it was something I would have remembered." The Doctor thought back to Kathy Chambers and her accusations of not helping her brother and shook his head to dispel the guilt that settled there. He'd done everything he could to change that. "But she said that the first time she met me, I didn't know who she was. Which means at some point in time, I must lose my memory and it looks like this will be part of those memories that I lose. I'll be sorry to miss this..."

Evelyn smiled at that, taking the now mostly cleaned bowl out of his hands and moving away to actually wash it. The Doctor missed her warmth against him, frowning slightly as she spoke. "I'll just have to tell you all about it next time I see the you in my time stream then. And you better come back, understand? I'm not having you forget to come and visit every now and then."

"Ah, yes. Of course not." The Doctor was trying not to let his discomfort show, given his personal track record for visiting old companions.

She understood this and laughed anyway, absently checking the timer as she cleaned the bowl and the rest of the supplies she'd used. Then again, if her cakes were as good as she promised (and the bowl he'd licked clean was fairly good evidence to that!), he might just come back to visit her more often than the others. "I think I'd have liked to get to know this regeneration of yours," she said softly, with the same tone he'd used to apologize for forgetting the encounter.

The Doctor smiled broadly, rather pleased that she had taken a liking to him now as well as in his future regenerations.

Later that day, Evelyn called over the young people she'd mentioned and the Doctor did enjoy teaching them cricket as she made the frosting. They were all from a nearby university, willing and eager to learn a new sport. By the end of the lesson, he had thoroughly cheered up and made a few new friends. No one he could travel with, as they were all preparing to go on with their careers, but it was enjoyable company.

And the cake when he'd returned... Good gracious, that cake. This was definitely something to look forward to on a regular basis. It was a good thing his lifestyle included lots of running or he'd get fat with all the chocolate Evelyn seemed intent to feed him.

"Thank you," he said at the end of the day as she saw him off to the TARDIS. "I actually do feel a lot better now."

"You're very welcome. It's good to see you cheerful again," she said, giving him another hug. He still stiffened awkwardly at the embrace, but he did relax into it after a few seconds and hugged her back. "Now you take care of yourself, Doctor. All those adventures we had... I wouldn't have missed any of them, so don't go getting yourself hurt before then!"

The Doctor beamed at her, actually meaning the smile with all his heart. He felt lighter and thinking back to how he'd laughed as Tegan talked about magic, the Doctor was starting... not to be okay with it, exactly, but at least more willing to let go. All he could do now was hope that Eve found a cure for the tumor. "I'll look forward to meeting you, Evelyn and having more of that cake!"

"You're always welcome to more of that," Evelyn said with a laugh.

The Doctor stepped into his TARDIS, watching Dr. Evelyn Smythe retreat a few feet away and waving, smiling to himself. "Time to collect Peri and Erimem," he said to himself, knowing that his TARDIS wouldn't try to hijack the coordinates again now that he was sufficiently cheered up. He'd have to remember to thank the old girl later with a few repairs. Maybe she didn't always go where he wanted her to, but she always managed to put him where he needed to be.

~FINI~

Memory: Well, hopefully that was enjoyable. <3 As for the quote, I'm pretty sure Evelyn knows exactly how big to make the Doctor's piece.

Quote of the Fic:

"A compromise is the art of dividing a cake in such a way that everyone believes he has the biggest piece."
-Ludwig Erhard