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The Doctor scratched his chin thoughtfully and then to Susan's delight wandered over to the two schoolteachers. He tried-unsuccessfully-to affect an air of nonchalance.
'Well... I... er... er...' he began.
Ian turned to him and smiled. He raised a hand to stem the Doctor's awkward words. 'Don't bother to say a thing, Doctor,' he said magnanimously. 'You know, there are times when I can read every thought on your face...'
The Doctor turned an even brighter shade of red.
'Er. yes. well, thank you, Chesterton. I always did think you were a man without any recrimination in you.' The Doctor ventured a comradely pat on the younger man's back. To his surprise, he discovered that it wasn't hard to do at all, and the young man returned it.
You see, Grandfather, thought Susan and smiled, thought Susan and smiled, it isn't to difficult after all. it isn't to difficult after all.
The Doctor turned his attention to Barbara. She was still sitting in the chair, staring thoughtfully into s.p.a.ce. Her ordeal had held back her tears but now it was over they were beginning to form at the corners of her eyes. Ian and Susan tactfully drew away as the old man approached Barbara.
'I... er, I feel I owe you an apology, Miss Wright.' the Doctor began falteringly.
Barbara arched an eyebrow in interest and surprise as the Doctor continued: 'You were absolutely right all along-and it was me who was wrong, I freely admit it. It was your instinct against my logic and you triumphed. The blackouts, the still pictures, and the clock-you read a story into them and you were determined to hold to it... Miss Wright, we owe you our lives.'
Barbara regarded the Doctor. The look in her eyes told him that his apology wasn't enough. 'You said some terrible things to me and Ian,' she reminded him.
The Doctor lowered his head in agreement. 'Yes, and I unreservedly apologise for them. I suppose it's the injustice. When I made that threat to put you off the Ship, it must have affected you deeply.'
Barbara laughed ironically. 'What do you care what I think or feel?'
'As we learn about each other on our travels so we learn about ourselves.'
'No, certainly,' insisted the Doctor softly. 'Because I accused you injustly you were determined to prove me wrong. You put your mind to the problem and you solved it... As you said before, we are together now whether we like it or not. Susan and I need you and Chesterton, just as much as you need us. We may have originally been unwilling fellow travellers but I hope that from now on we may be something more to each other. There is a boundless universe out there beyond your wildest dreams, Miss Wright, a thousand lives to lead, and a myriad worlds of unimaginable wonders to explore. Let us explore them together not in anger and resentment, but in friendship.' He looked expectantly at her and offered her his hand. 'Miss Wright?... Barbara?'
To his delight, Barbara smiled and shook his hand. Watching from a distance, Ian and Susan winked happily at each other.
Yawning, Barbara walked into the control room to find the Doctor scanning the read-outs and graphic displays on the control console. In the centre of the console the time rotor was slowly falling to a welcome halt. The deafening crescendo of dematerialisation began to fill the control chamber.
Swiftly, the Doctor's hands flickered over the controls as he brought the time-machine into a safe landing. He examined the atmospheric readings which were displayed on one of the control boards.
'A perfect landing,' he said as he became aware of Barbara's presence. 'How did you sleep, my dear?'
'Like a log,' smiled Barbara.
'Quite understandable too after your ordeal.'
'So what's it like outside, Doctor?' she asked.
'Normal Earth gravity and the air is remarkably unpolluted,' the Doctor replied, 'although it is a trifle chilly. I suggest you go off and find yourself a warm coat-we must look after you, you know.'
Barbara nodded and went off in the direction of the TARDIS's extensive wardrobe.
'So where are we then, Doctor?' asked Ian who had just walked into the control room with Susan after having breakfast.
The Doctor looked shocked. 'Goodness gracious, you surely don't expect me to know that, do you:'
Ian burst into a fit of uncontrollable giggles.
'My dear boy, what on Earth are you laughing at?' spluttered the Doctor. 'Really there are times when I find it quite impossible to understand either you or your companion!'
He smiled and, to his surprise, found that Ian smiled back. As Barbara came back, wearing a long overcoat, and loaded with warm clothing for all of them, he operated the door controls. The double doors buzzed slowly open.
A brisk refreshing wind rushed into the control room. Beyond the double doors the four companions could see an infinite expanse of snow and white-capped mountains set against a breathtakingly blue sky. It was one of the most awe-inspiring and beautiful sights any of them had ever seen.
'Well, shall we go out?' the Doctor asked his friends. Barbara smiled and took the Doctor's outstretched arm. Susan and Ian followed.
Looking out over the mountains, Barbara had to agree that the Doctor had been right-there were indeed a myriad wonderful sights to see in the wide Universe.
If they were truthful with themselves, Ian and Barbara had to admit that they were finally beginning to enjoy their travels with the Doctor in the TARDIS. Smiling to each other, they recalled that far-away foggy November night.
It had all started in a junkyard. Who could say where it would end?