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DW Comment fic: Celebration

who_at_50

4300 character limit (including spaces)

"Looks like a party of some sort," said Steven, a faint note of cheer still in his voice. "That’s nice."

"Ha." The Doctor, rather the worse for wear after the struggle with their captors, made an effort to look around. "I think I might be happier if we weren’t intended as the victory feast, hmm?"

"Yes." Steven leant back against the stout pole to which he was bound. "Still, it’s nice to be the guests of honour. After a fashion."

"Some day, dear boy, we shall have to have a chat about your sense of humour." The Doctor threw him a sharp glare, although there was the ghost of a smile beneath it. "At least Vicki got away. That’s some consolation."

"She’ll be safe inside the TARDIS, won’t she Doctor? Even though she can’t fly it, I mean."

"If she can reach the TARDIS, she shall be quite safe. Yes, quite safe." The Doctor’s confident tone did not hide his meaning. If Vicki could reach the TARDIS. Steven didn’t press the point. Instead he shifted position, testing for slack in the knots. There was none. Rather than hemp, the people of this world used a plastic-like substance as rope. He had a nasty suspicion that nothing but a sharp knife would free him from it. The thought made his eyes trail over to where the fires were being stoked, and where a man who was unmistakably head chef was polishing the biggest cleaver Steven had ever seen. His heart thumped, and the merry singing of the crowds did nothing to ease his nerves. It seemed to grow louder every second.

"Noisy lot, aren’t they," grumbled the Doctor. Steven smiled.

"They’ll have the neighbours coming to complain." As though to prove his point, a furious bellow rose briefly above the music, and several people looked about for the source. Clearly less curious, the chef chose that moment to cease his polishing – and hefting his gigantic cleaver, started to advance. Steven swallowed hard.

"Uh oh. Which of us do you suppose is the starter?"

"I rather think we’re about to find out." The Doctor gave one last, furious wriggle, then went still. "It’s not quite the end I’d envisaged. I only wish—" He broke off as the furious bellow sounded again – and this time, rather than ending, it rose sharply in volume. Around them the crowd began to scatter, their song trailing away into confusion.

"Doctor! Steven!" Straining to make itself heard above the noise was a voice – a high-pitched, gloriously familiar voice, that made Steven’s eyes all but pop out of his head. He struggled to turn towards it, the ropes holding him back.

"Vicki? It can’t be!"

"Steven!" It was her, whatever the impossibility of it – clinging on for dear life to a six-wheeled cart pulled by a beast that might have been half-horse and half-mammoth. It was clearly the source of the bellowing, and dancers and cooks alike scattered before it. Vicki had to fight to bring it to a halt, but she managed it, leaning down and slicing through Steven’s ropes with a long knife.

"Hurry up!" she said, with feeling. Stiff though he was, Steven grabbed the knife, and made short work of the Doctor’s bonds. He had to help the older man up into the cart, and had barely clambered into it himself when the wild beast took off once more, sending all three passengers tumbling backwards. Vicki did her best to right herself and the Doctor, and Steven struggled to grab at the reins.

"How do you steer this thing?" he roared, as they tore past the cooking fires, sending bunting and coloured streamers flying every which way. Vicki gestured helplessly.

"You’re the pilot!" was all she could offer. "I just stole the thing!"

"And we’re most grateful," the Doctor told her, then gulped as they lurched over a bump in the ground. "Probably. Let’s, er... let’s sit down, shall we, hmm? And cling on for dear life."

"Well just see if I try to save you again." Vicki folded her arms and glared at him, before breaking into a smile. "Sorry. This rescue business isn’t as easy as I’d hoped."

"That’s quite all right, my dear." Patting her hand, the Doctor settled himself down in the back of the cart. It was bouncing about like a ship in a storm, and Steven clearly had no idea how to stop it – but they weren’t being eaten. It might be a strange kind of comfort, but nevertheless it was comfort indeed.

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