Chapter Four

"So, I show up and complicate things then?" Rose said.

"Yes, some things haven't changed," the Doctor said.

Jackie chuckled when Rose playfully punched his arm. He took another sip of tea and gathered his thoughts for the next part of his story.

"When I first met Arella it was at the beginning of another academic year," he said. "I had an advanced quantum theory class and I arrived early that day so I could prepare myself for the lecture…"

The young Doctor entered the classroom, paused and looked around. The room was empty so he walked over to the steps at the side of the room and walked up to the top row of seats. He liked to sit at the back and keep to himself. He didn't fraternize with the other students, except for Koschei but sharing classes with him was becoming rarer and rarer. The chairs were made of hard plastic with a small desk attached to them. The desk had a small monitor and keyboard near the top in case the student wanted to take notes and also a holoprojector on the left hand side that would allow viewing of examples brought up in the lecture. The Doctor put his satchel down by his chair and opened it. He pulled out a small computer that resembled an IPad and put it under the monitor. He turned it on and pulled a small keyboard out of the bottom. He typed in the name of the class and the hour the class started and the textbook for the class appeared on his monitor. He used his fingers to slide open the front cover of the book and he began to read, trying to get a head start on the lecture.

He was so engrossed in reading that he didn't know someone else had entered the room until he heard someone clearing their throat. He looked up and saw a young woman standing beside him. She was tall and thin with long, brown hair that had been braided and put into a bun. Her dark green eyes gazed at him and the Doctor couldn't help but admire their beauty. She had a satchel similar to his and she held it in both hands in front of her.

"Hi, um…sorry," she said in a slightly high pitched voice. "I came in early so I wouldn't be late and I saw you. Do you mind if I sit next to you?"

"No, go ahead," the Doctor said.

The woman thanked him and took the desk next to his. The Doctor glanced at her as she sat down, admiring her beauty. The woman smiled at him and pulled her monitor out of her satchel.

"Hate quantum theory. It's so boring, I feel like pulling my hair out of my head," she said.

"I don't mind it. It's an easy subject for me," the Doctor said with a shrug.

The woman studied him.

"I don't think I've ever seen you before," she said. "I'm Arellahydoniazaphellazenon but people call me Arella."

"Merzetophiliostomozeta. Call me Merzet."

Rose perked up when the Doctor said that.

"That's your real name then?" she said, excited.

"Nope. It's an alias. You know, names have been changed to protect the innocent. The reason I'm using it is because I didn't call myself the Doctor until later and I still want to keep my name private so just assume I'm called Merzet."

"Blast, I thought you just told us your real name," Rose muttered.

"If you're his wife's past life, shouldn't you remember his real name?" Jackie said to Rose.

"I should, I s'pose but I don't. This whole meeting he's describing is new to me. I s'pose when you enter a new life, memories of your old lives are buried deep in your mind so you don't confuse them with this life. Anyway…sorry…continue...Merzet."

"Well…" the Doctor said.

"Merzet, that's pretty," Arella said. "So…what are you hoping to do once you graduate?"

"Be part of the observation team. You?"

"Archiving. I'm not interested in traveling," Arella said.

"Archiving sounds boring to me. But if that's what you enjoy, do it," Merzet said.

"That's why I don't wanna be here. I won't need quantum theory for archiving but since this is a required class I have to suffer through it. Just don't be surprised if I nod off and put my head on your desk."

Merzet chuckled.

"I don't think the professor would appreciate that," he said.

"Probably not but I'd be doing something more useful. At least I think sleeping is more useful than quantum theory. So…where are you from?"

"South Gallifrey. The mountains. You?"

"East Gallifrey. Little town called Starshine City. Trust me, it wasn't a city, that was just wishful thinking on the namer's part. I guess I'm little more than a yokel. How about you? Are you a yokel?"

"I hope not," Merzet said. "I like to think of myself as sophisticated. Not everyone from the mountains of South Gallifrey is a hick."

"Perhaps not. You're a cute hick though," Arella said.

A few more students started to file into the classroom so Arella and Merzet lowered their voices.

"So how long do you have to go to school then?" Rose asked the Doctor.

"Oh, about a hundred and fifty years," the Doctor said.

Rose and Jackie shared a look.

"You went to school for a hundred and fifty years?" Rose said in disbelief.

"Yes. Time Lords become experts on the universe. You don't think that sort of thing comes overnight, do ya?"

"You said your brain was engineered for this Time Lord stuff," Jackie said.

"Yes, but they still had to teach us. My brain holds more information than the average Gallifreyan which is why it takes so long. In order to graduate, a Time Lord must become an expert on every facet of time and space."

"And you graduated then?" Rose said.

Rose and Jackie stared at the Doctor while he fidgeted.

"You did graduate, right?" Rose prompted when he didn't say anything.

"Um…yeah, just barely, but yeah," the Doctor said.

"Barely? You're traveling through time and space with someone who just "barely" made it through school?" Jackie said to Rose.

"He's cute so I forgive him," Rose said with a shrug.

Rose giggled when the Doctor blushed at that. He cleared his throat.

"Moving on then!" he said while Rose sniggered. "Despite what you may think, Jackie. I didn't need every single class. Like Arella, I was in some classes because they were required so I'm perfectly capable and qualified to travel through time and space."

"But he's just barely qualified, mind," Rose said.

"I can go back out to the TARDIS and not finish this story of mine," the Doctor said to Rose while she giggled. "I'm sure you'd hate me if I did that since you and your mum are just aching to learn more about my early years."

"I'm sorry, I'll behave," Rose said. "I wasn't exactly a bright spark at school."

"That's for bloody sure."

"Mum!" Rose said while the Doctor chortled.

"Anyway, getting back to my story before the two of you get in an argument," the Doctor said. "Arella and I became close because of that class. We would meet afterwards to compare notes and discuss the lecture and I found that I was becoming fond of her. I mentioned her in passing to Koschei but I never really talked about her in depth. I s'pose I was a bit protective of her and our time together because I couldn't believe that someone other than Koschei wanted to be my friend. And Koschei had separate classes that year so we really didn't see much of each other during the day. Still, after years of being bullied and harassed, I didn't think she saw me as more than a friend and study partner. However, all that changed the night of the annual Krunke's Comet Dance."

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