BETTER WITH FOUR

Chapter Two

(Wyoming, July 26, 1846…)

The Doctor stepped out of the TARDIS and looked out across the grassy plains of Wyoming.

“Beautiful, just beautiful!” he said to himself.

He frowned when he noticed no one else was coming outside. He stuck his head back in.

“Oi! Get out here! You’re letting all the flies in!” he said.

He stepped back and three very sullen women dressed in long gingham dresses and bonnets stepped out of the TARDIS.

“That’s better,” the Doctor said, closing the door.

Donna looked down at her blue gingham dress and looked at the Doctor.

“Excuse me, but why is it we have to dress up like Little House on the Prairie and you get to wear your suit?” she said.

“Because women don’t wear the kinds of clothes you like to wear at this point in history.”

“We’re out in the middle of bleedin’ nowhere!” Donna said.

The Doctor sighed and rolled his eyes.

“Oh, come on, Noble. Just play along for a change, will ya?” he said.

Rose looked at her.

“It’s no use, Donna. He’s the Doctor and what he says goes.”

She gasped when the Doctor planted a big wet one on her cheek.

“Hurrah, someone gets it!” he said.

He patted Rose’s head. Ignoring the dirty looks his companions were giving him, he turned and surveyed the landscape.

“Now, I suggest we go in that direction,” he said, pointing off to his right. “Perhaps, just over the hill, we might see a herd of buffalo.”

He paused and turned to his companions with a big grin on his face.

“That is such a brilliant word. Buffalo. Love the way it rolls off the tongue. It’s so fun to say! Buffalo. Buffalo. !”

He giggled, amused with himself. The women, who were anything but amused, stared at him waiting for him to get over himself so they could go.

“This way!” he said, after he finally sobered up.

He took off at full speed, leaving his companions in his wake. They tried to keep up with him while he sprinted towards the hill. He reached the top of it, looked down, spun around, and ran back down.

“Never mind, we’ll go the other way,” he said.

The three women looked at each other.

“Why? What’s wrong?” Martha said.

“Nothing, nothing at all,” the Doctor said.

“Then…why do you want us to go the other way, all of a sudden?” Rose said.

“Um…just changed my mind. I do that from time to time. Well, come on!”

“Wait, what did you see?” Donna said.

“Nothing, it’s not important. Well, I’m sure if we go this way, we’ll…”

“Wait, I wanna see what you saw,” Martha said.

“Martha…”

“Yeah, I do too.”

“Rose…”

“Come on, girls; let’s go see what the Doctor’s so scared of.”

“I’m not scared of anything, Donna, it’s just that…”

He trailed off when the three women ignored him and headed towards the hill. Muttering under his breath about how no one ever listened to him, he folded his arms over his chest and tapped his foot while he waited for them to come back.

The three women climbed up the hill. Reaching the top, they looked down the other side and felt as if they were going to puke. Sprawled out at the bottom of the hill was a decomposing, maggot-infested, scalping victim. They stared at it for a moment and then hurried back down the hill.

“Satisfied?” the Doctor said.

“Yeah, I think we’ll go the other way,” Martha said.

The Doctor let out an exasperated sigh.

“Yup, you guys are definitely descended from apes because it’s monkey see, monkey do with you lot,” he said.

“Well, gee,” Donna said. “I guess since we did the same thing you did, that means you’re a monkey too, eh?”

The Doctor realized that he had just walked into that. He looked at his companions who had smug looks on their faces. His gears worked overtime trying to think up a snappy comeback to Donna’s snide remark. Finally, he thought of one.

“I know you are, but what am I?” he said.

He gave them a haughty look, pleased that he had thought up such a brilliant comeback. Without another word, he turned and walked away while the three women looked at one another and rolled their eyes.

After about twenty minutes, they reached another hill. Reaching the top first, the Doctor froze. An enormous grin spread over his face and he let out a delighted yell. His companions who were struggling to get up the hill in their clunky Doc Martins wondered what he was so happy about until they heard him squeal…

“!”

They paused and watched, as he jumped up and down and squeed with joy. Martha looked at the other two women.

“You know, I have a theory about his kind. I think the older they get, the more immature they get.”

“Guys! Come up here and see the cute !”

Rose raised her eyebrow.

“I think you’re right,” she said to Martha.

They hurried up the hill. Once they reached the top, they stood beside the Doctor who was staring at an enormous buffalo herd grazing in the distance.

“Oh, aren’t they gorgeous?” the Doctor said.

The three women couldn’t help but be infected by his enthusiasm, and they broke into smiles along with him.

“Wow,” Rose said. “I’ve only seen pictures of them in books, and here’s a whole heap of em.”

“Yup, you have to admit these are the kinds of moments that make traveling with the Doctor worthwhile,” Martha whispered.

They nodded.

“Mooooooooooooooooooooo!”

They frowned and slowly turned their heads to look at the Doctor. He had one hand to the side of his face.

“Mooooooooooooooooooooooooo!” he said, in a deep voice.

The three women glanced at each other and giggled softly.

“Trying to speak their language, Doctor?” Martha said.

“Yeah, I thought the TARDIS would translate for ya,” Rose said.

“TARDIS probably heard that and won’t translate because he just said something vulgar,” Donna whispered.

They snickered.

“Moooooooooooooooooooooooo!” the Doctor said, ignoring them.

The three companions stood and waited for a buffalo to answer back to the Doctor. But, they just kept on grazing.

“Mooooooooooooooooooooooooo, damn it!” the Doctor said.

The three women bent over laughing at that.

“Doctor, surely you don’t think the buffalo are down there thinking there’s another buffalo up on the hill calling to them,” Rose said.

“I just want one to come to me.”

Donna rolled her eyes. She walked over to a tall patch of grass, grabbed a handful, walked back to the Doctor, and shoved it in his hands.

“I think you’ll find they’ll respond to this better than to your pathetic mooing,” she said.

The Doctor glared at her as Rose and Martha laughed.

“Excuse me, my mooing was spot on, Noble. I am a master at mimicry.”

He looked down at the grass in his hand.

“But since you seem to think this’ll work, I’ll reluctantly try your method.”

He held the grass out in front of him and waved it about while he continued mooing at the herd. His eyes widened when an enormous bull stopped and stared at him.

“Mooooo! Mooooo!” he said, waving the grass around.

“Uh, Doctor, I’m pretty sure that’s a male,” Martha said. “You sure you want to bring that up here?”

“Don’t worry, I know what I’m doing,” the Doctor said, waving a hand dismissively.

He pumped his fist in the air when the bull slowly walked up the hill towards them. His three companions backed up, wondering if it was a good idea to be near a huge bull bison, but the bull merely wandered over to the Doctor and quietly ate the grass from his hand.

“Oh, you are beautiful. You are gorgeous!” the Doctor said.

He smiled at his companions while he stroked the hair on his hump.

“Isn’t Arthur magnificent?” he said.

“Uh…yeah, Doctor, Arthur’s…wonderful,” Rose said hesitantly, staring at its horns.

He finished feeding the grass to Arthur and quickly pulled up some more. The three women glanced at the herd, but none of the others seemed to take notice of them and they relaxed.

“You are so cute, yes, you are,” the Doctor cooed, while he stroked Arthur’s hair, “you hungry, fella? I guess you are, aren’t you? You are such a beauty!”

Rose looked at her friends and then took a tentative step towards Arthur. Reaching his side, she laid her hand on his hump and began to stroke him along with the Doctor. She smiled when she felt how soft his hair was. She looked back at Donna and Martha.

“Feel this. It’s so soft,” she said.

Donna and Martha looked at each other and slowly came up beside her. They laid hands on the hump and smiled while they stroked him. The Doctor peered over at them and smiled when he noticed the enchanted looks on their faces. He looked over and noticed a patch of tall grass nearby. He walked over to it and Arthur followed him. The Doctor bent over to pull the grass up and gasped when Arthur started sniffing around in his jacket pocket.

“Oi, you little scamp, get outta there!” he said. “There’s nothing in there for you!”

He gasped when Arthur pulled the banana out of his pocket and began to munch on it.

“Hey! That was my snack, you furry thief!” the Doctor said.

“What’s wrong, Doctor,” Martha said, “don’t wanna share your food with your new friend?”

The Doctor rolled his eyes when they laughed. He looked down at Arthur who was munching on the remains of the banana.

“Well, fine, if you are going to be rude, I suppose this is farewell then,” he said, “enjoy your ill-gotten gain. Come along, girls, time we moved on.”

“Aw, come on, Doctor, don’t be angry,” Martha said. “All he wanted was a bleedin’ banana. It isn’t the end of the world.”

The Doctor sniffed.

“I will feed him grass, but I draw the line at bananas. Besides, we need to get going before the sun sets. So, come on.”

The women looked at each other, shrugged, and followed him down the hill.

While the Doctor walked back towards the TARDIS, he became aware that his companions were sniggering and giggling. He turned his head and his eyes widened when he noticed Arthur was following behind them, like a little lost puppy.

“Oi, go back to your herd!” he said, as the three girls roared with laughter. “You’re not about to come back to the TARDIS and nick more bananas off me, clear off!”

He started to run towards him. The three women backed up when Arthur snorted and pawed the ground.

“Okay, maybe yelling and running at him isn’t the wisest thing to do,” the Doctor said, freezing in his tracks, “um…maybe if we just keep walking, he’ll get bored and go back. Come on, guys, ignore him.”

They walked. The three women looked back every few minutes and noticed that Arthur was following right behind them. Rose looked at them.

“I guess when the Doctor makes a friend, it’s for life,” she said.

“Well, just as long as it doesn’t stick its horns up our bums, I’ll put up with his new friend,” Donna said.

They heard someone yelling in the distance and the sound of hoof beats. All of them stopped and watched, fascinated, as a wagon train came up a hill and headed towards them. The Doctor waved at the lead driver who gave them a confused look.

“Whoa!” the man said, pulling on his reins.

The covered wagon he was driving came to a stop directly beside the Doctor and his companions. The Doctor looked back and counted at least five other wagons who had stopped behind him. He looked up at the man who was shifting around on his buckboard so he could get a good look at them. He looked like he was in his early thirties with chiseled features, brown hair, and a full beard. His gaze went from the Doctor to his companions.

“Ya’ll in trouble?” he said.

“Um, no,” the Doctor said, “our…wagon is nearby. We’re just doing a bit of sightseeing. I’m the Doctor…”

He paused when a mischievous thought formed in his brain. He put his arm around Rose.

“This is my wife, Rose, and my daughters, Martha and Donna.”

He bit his lip holding back his laughter when he noticed the man staring at him, then at Rose, then at Donna and then finally his gaze settled on Martha and he gave her a big, long, shocked look. Ignoring the daggers in his companion’s eyes, the Doctor cleared his throat.

“Um, Rose is my third wife. My first wife had Donna and Martha was by my second. I met Rose when she came to my town to be the plucky new schoolmarm.”

He stifled his laughter. Now the man was looking at his youthful face and looking at how old Martha and Donna were.

“I married my first wife very young,” the Doctor said. “My family members tended to die young so they just decided to hurry up and marry me off before I kicked the bucket. Odd thing was, I outlived them all. So, anyway, where are you pioneers headed to?”

The man recovered from his shock.

“Um…California.”

“Well, good for you! Pioneer spirit, gotta love it! Well, good luck to you and your friends, mister…”

“Donner. George Donner.”

The Doctor fell silent.

“Donner, is it?” he said. “You’re not heading for the Sierra Nevada Mountains, are you?”

George was taken aback.

“Why, yes we are. We’re following the California Trail. Quickest route. You guys heading out there? Perhaps you can join up with us…”

“NO!”

George jerked his head back when the Doctor shouted at him. The Doctor quickly recovered.

“I mean, no thanks. We’re headed back east. Back to New York. We hate the west. Too much open space and fresh air. We’re just a bunch of city slickers, I guess. But, thanks for the offer.”

George shrugged.

“Suit yourself.”

He paused.

“By the way, you folks realize you got a buffalo behind you?”

“Yes, that’s my pet, Buffy. Buffy the buffalo. They actually make good pets. Extremely intelligent and far more loyal than dogs. Wouldn’t know what we’d do way out here in Indian country without Buffy guarding our very lives.”

George gave him a long, hard stare.

“Um, yeah. Listen, maybe ya’ll are right about getting back to the city. I think the sun is frying your brains.”

“Probably is, yeah,” the Doctor said.

He sighed.

“Well, we better let you get on with your…um…journey. Just…take a little bit of advice from me. Before heading into the Sierra Nevada Mountains, stock up on plenty of food…or better yet, don’t go into the mountains at all. Take the scenic route to California and enjoy yourselves. You’ll be glad you did.”

George gave him an odd look.

“Yeah, um, don’t quite know if I should take the advice of a man who keeps a buffalo for a pet and marries at five years old, but we’ll stock up on provisions before heading into the pass.”

“Trust me, you won’t regret it.”

“Yeah…” George muttered. “Anyway, you folks have a great afternoon.”

“You too,” the Doctor said.

George shifted back around on the buckboard, gave out a, “YEAH!” as he snapped the reins and the wagon train was off. The four friends stood there and waved at all of them. Then, when they had passed by, they headed off towards the TARDIS.

“Um, Doctor,” Rose said, “Donner…as in…”

“Donner party that get stuck up in the mountains and end up resorting to cannibalism to survive? Yup, that’s the one,” the Doctor said, “why do you think I was telling them not to go through that pass?”

“Think they’ll listen?”

“No, because no one in the universe ever listens to me!”

He turned and looked at Arthur.

“Isn’t that right, Buffy? Told you to bugger off and here you are following us home. Well, sorry, I don’t have room for a buffalo on my ship. I get enough crap from my companions without having literal crap on top of it.”

His eyes widened when he noticed the three women were glaring at him.

“Course when I say crap, I mean that affectionately,” he said.

He shrank from their enraged looks and looked around.

“Oh look, I see the TARDIS!” he said, making a beeline towards it.

“You know, I’m beginning to think the Doctor should join that dead body,” Donna said.

“Think we should go flag down the Donner party and offer him as an appetizer?” Martha said.

“No, I think we should just bring “Arthur” on board with us since he seems to be so fond of him,” Rose said.

“Hey, Holly Hobbie 1, 2, and 3, come on! I wanna get going!” the Doctor screamed while he stood in the TARDIS doors.

The three women looked at each other and grinned.

“Come along, Arthur,” Rose said, looking behind her, “you’re just gonna love all the yummy items he’s got on the console.”

Giggling, the three of them walked towards the TARDIS with Arthur in tow.

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