A curious old man, his granddaughter, and a bouncy ball.
They had been running for so long now, and had seen so many things. Though he was a bit adamant about observing, not interfering, she could easily convince him to “study” the different planets up close. For scientific purposes. Even convinced him they had to bring numerous artifacts onto the TARDIS, her name for his wife’s old ship. They had stolen one of her two that were in the repair shop, and even though his wife had been forbidden to use it for quite some time, he was sure the necessary repairs were really just minor adjustments- details, if you will. Besides, he was a genius. He could fix anything. Sooner or later.
From the moment he stepped onto her, he’d fallen in love. He didn’t quite know the ins and outs of how to fly her, but he was getting the hang of it. He knew how to get from one place to another, even if that other was not where or when he had originally meant to go. And, the TARDIS herself was sentient and very smart. She disguised herself wherever they went, ensuring more of a passive role in the history of the universe. So what if they wobbled every now and then? He assured his granddaughter she was meant to do that, though he suspected the truth was more along the lines of she had meant to do that.
So it was that an adventuring spirit took the three of them off to see the universe. After quite a few years they landed on Sol III, also known to some species as Terra, and to others as Earth. The Doctor’s own mother had had a strong affinity for it many years ago, spending so much time there she considered herself one of its native humans. When the doors to the (now) palm- tree shaped TARDIS opened, Susan was amazed.
“Where are we Grandfather?”
“Hmm. Oh, Earth I believe. Twentieth century. 1960s I should say. America- in the land of California.”
“It’s wonderful! Shall we have a look around?”
“Of course, My Dear. But first, remember the rules.”
“I’ll not change anything. I just want to study this planet is all. It fascinates me.”
“Quite right too. Very well, where would you like to go first?”
Susan was very eager to see the flora of this planet, entranced by all the different colors and shapes of every plant she came across. They came to a large market where they browsed fruits, vegetables, plants and flowers of every kind. She would pick up random items and would taste them or smell them, then hold them out for her Grandfather to try. He humored her, soon collecting his own bouquet, which, he reasoned, it couldn’t hurt to take back with them. Susan grabbed a flower and stuck it in her hair. It suited her. She tried to stick one in his, but he sputtered and whined, “No, no!”
When he saw her crestfallen face, he told her to pick out any of the flowers she wanted, and he would wear it, but not on his head. She perked up and immediately went for a solid leafy light green one, which she immediately pinned to his jacket. She stepped back and admired her work, while he preened. Suddenly, they heard an amused laugh behind them.
“Well, I must say I’ve never seen celery used quite like that before.”
Turning, they both looked at a man behind them, a smile still lighting his face.
“Hm, well, who are you? What do you know of it?”
“Celery? Only what’s fairly common knowledge I suppose. Like, you eat it, tastes great with peanut butter, the usual. Sorry, wrong field. I’m a chemist, not a botanist. Name’s Norman. Norman Stingley.”
“Well, Norman, I’ll thank you to keep out of our business, and leave us to our whims.” The Doctor began to turn away grumpily when Susan, embarrassed because of her ignorant mistake, leaned forward and asked-
“What is that in your hand? And how do you get it to keep returning to you?”
“This, oh, I call it a Super Ball.® I invented it not so long back. Well, sort of. The rubber part. A toy company helped me run with it, and this is what we came up with. It’s due to hit the market in a couple of weeks.”
“But what does it do?”
“Well, I admit it’s not as inventive as using a vegetable as a boutonniere, but I’ve been assured this will be the greatest hit since bubblegum.”
“Can I try it?”
“Now now dear, no time for that, back to the TARDIS. Lots of other lands on this planet you know.”
“Here,” said Stingley, “Take one. Think of it as an apology for laughing at you.”
“Thank you! Thank you so much.”
“Yes. Well, let’s be off Susan.”
They took off to their stolen home, the Doctor still stubbornly sporting the vegetable on his coat, and Susan throwing the ball into the air. When the ship got into the vortex Susan began to absent-mindedly bounce her new gift. After a few minutes, the Doctor decided he needed to scientifically assess this novel toy as well. Soon, Susan and he had made a game of it, seeing who could bounce it highest or the farthest around the console room. They threw it around for hours, giggling as it hit bits and pieces of the old ship. They continued even as the TARDIS landed, changing her camouflage to suit 1960s England. They only stopped when the ball bounced off one of the controls and they saw sparks, followed by a hissing sound.
“Oh no, Grandfather. Did we break something?” cried a distressed Susan as the Doctor inspected the damage.
“No, no my dear, it was always like this.”
“What is that? Oh, the Chameleon Circuit! Are you sure? I think we may have broken it.”
“Of course not. Don’t you think I’d know if I broke it? I tell you it was always like that. Why do you think the old girl was in the repair shop, eh? No, it must’ve hit a sensitive part of the console. Yes. But just to be sure I think we’d better put that blasted toy away, don’t you?”
“Yes, Grandfather.” Then, after a moment, she began laughing quite loudly.
“What’s this? What’s so funny?”
“It’s just that, it’s been an awfully amusing day. Not only with this small ball that does nothing but bounce, but you’re still accidently wearing that vegetable I mistook for a flower.”
“And who said anything about an accident? Perhaps I like wearing it. Perhaps I shall wear it all the time, now what do you think of that?”
She just laughed, knowing the somewhat cantankerous man in front of her would never dare to do anything so ridiculous. Well, not yet anyway.
And, he assured himself, the Chameleon Circuit wasn’t broken because of a bouncy ball in the hands of a young man trying to act old. It was the repair shop’s fault, entirely. Once they were out of this junkyard, it would cease being a Police Box. Of course it would.