Did you know I've been working on this story since last year?
Anyway, I tried my best to make this story a mix of a lot of things- funny, heartwarming, thoughtful, sad- and I hope I delivered as such. I also didn't include the War Doctor. Sorry 'bout that.
Mild spoilers- if you count that fact that Clara's leaving this season to be a spoiler, anyway. (Oops!) I also happened to steal some dialogue from the preview of Hell Bent. (Oops again!)
THIS STORY IS NOT PART OF MY CALVIN WHO UNIVERSE.
Please leave a review if you enjoyed!
When Calvin was three, an old man in an Edwardian suit gave him a stuffed tiger, and asked him if he would like to keep it. Calvin said 'thank you very much', of course, but secretly was slightly confused. What was he supposed to do with a stuffed toy? The man gave him a wink and told him to take good care of the tiger.
Calvin stared at the stuffed toy for a few seconds. And then, to his great surprise, it stretched its arms out and yawned, showing a row of shining, sharp teeth.
"Hello," it said, and peered curiously at him. "And who are you?"
Calvin stood up bravely, and poked a finger right in the tiger's chest. "I'm Calvin!" he said. "And you don't scare me!"
"Of course I don't," the tiger agreed. "I never wanted to scare you. I'm looking for a friend. Can you be my friend?"
Calvin tilted his head. "Mom tells me not to talk to strangers."
"I'm Hobbes. Look, we're not strangers now, right?"
He considered. "I suppose not." Suddenly, he grinned. "Let's go explore, Hobbes! I can be the intrepid detective, looking for clues, and you can be my trusty assistant."
Hobbes looked up hopefully. "So, we're friends, now?"
"Yes!" Calvin was just about to stand up to run off with his new buddy, before a sudden question struck him. "Who was that man?"
Hobbes shrugged. "He told me to call him the Doctor."
When Calvin was four, he lost Hobbes. He put posters up all over the neighbourhood, and looked in every nook and cranny that he could think of. But nothing turned up.
It was, he reflected bitterly, as he sat on the swing at the park, all the stupid dog's fault.
But then again, it was as much the dog's fault as his own. He had been the one that just stood there while Hobbes was dragged over the hill, yelping all the while.
Calvin was most definitely not sulking, or at least that was just what he wanted himself to believe. He sat there, lost in ideas and memories. And then, a soft melody, whistled as if through a wood pipe, cut through his thoughts. It was a slow, careful rendition of 'Greensleeves', and at first Calvin thought it was the ice cream van. But no, it was too close for that, unless the van had crashed in the park.
Upon closer investigation, the song was coming from a man in a black-and-white suit and a stovepipe hat who was sitting on a park bench and playing the recorder. He finished up the song as Calvin came close, and smiled at him.
"Hello there. What are you doing out here, all alone?"
"I've lost my friend," Calvin said timidly. "And I'm looking for him."
The man looked worried, and set the recorder aside. "Oh, dear. That's not good." He patted the seat next to him. "Come and sit down."
"He was dragged off by a dog," Calvin explained, taking a seat. "He's a tiger, by the way."
The man's eyes widened in understanding. "Ah. Well, tigers are very resilient. I bet you he'll pop up again in no time."
"But he was dragged off by a dog," Calvin stressed, trying to get him to understand the importance of that simple fact.
"And tigers will always beat dogs in a fight, hm?"
When Calvin found Hobbes at a tea party with Susie later, he wasn't completely surprised. Just relieved that his friend was safe. So relieved, that he even kissed Susie's hand (a fact he'd vehemently deny later).
When Calvin was five, a yellow roadster pulled up next to him on the street. Hobbes glanced curiously around, and growled at the sight of an old man in a crushed velvet suit and cape coming towards them. A young blonde popped her head out of the window, and grinned down at them.
"Hello!" the man said cheerily. "We seem to have been sucked through a small rift in space. Would you mind telling us exactly where we are?"
Calvin blinked for a moment. "Ohio, America," he finally responded. "A rift in time and space?"
"Just space," the man said. "The Itraxi set it up to divert us from UNIT. It's actually quite an interesting question of metaphysics..." And he launched into a complicated scientific explanation of how the rift worked, that looked likely to continue on for a good hour, unless someone stopped him.
Which is precisely what the blonde woman in the yellow car did (and boy did Calvin want one of those cars when he got older). "Doctor," she said, sighing slightly. "He's four years old. He won't know what you're talking about."
"Five," Calvin corrected irritably. "And I understand perfectly well what you're saying. The rift might actually be hooked up to a time-space quantifier, so you'd have been in the rift for longer than it actually seemed."
The man stopped, and looked at Calvin more closely. "Hm. You're quite the smart one, aren't you."
Hobbes snorted. "Well, he pretends to be."
The man and his friend slipped off in their yellow car with not Calvin nor Hobbes noticing, them being too engaged in their argument to pay attention to anything around them. And neither of them thought anything of the strange meeting.
When Calvin was six, he sat dejectedly in the corner of the playground after another barrage of bullying from the older kids. They had called him crazy for talking to his tiger, and yelled out variations on 'mentally unbalanced'. And, he really had to wonder, what if they were right? What if he really was... retarded, like they had said?
"Hello!" a young man with wild curly hair and an excessively long scarf dropped down next to him. "Would you like a jelly baby?" He gave him a Cheshire Cat smile, which Calvin tentatively returned, minus the insanity. He accepted one of the sweet treats from the bad that the man held out, and sucked on it contemplatively.
"What's a nice boy like you doing sitting here all alone, then?" he asked, as if the whole conversation (however short) had led up to that question.
Calvin shrugged, attempting to be nonchalant. "Oh, you know. Just..." He stopped. The man seemed trustworthy enough.
"Yes?" he encouraged.
"The other kids don't like me," Calvin said quickly.
The man frowned, looking all for the world as if his one job in life was to listen to young children's problems. "Well, that's not very nice of them."
"They think I'm weird, because I talk to my tiger," he confided.
The man tilted his head. "I talk to animals all the time. I talk to my dog! And it talks back!" He paused. "Well, I programmed him to do that, so I suppose that doesn't count."
Calvin giggled. "You're an odd person."
"I am, aren't I?" he replied, looking quite pleased with himself. "Well, we can both be odd together."
Silence fell for a moment. But Calvin was a hyperactive six-year-old, and he couldn't be calm for that long.
"Do you wanna play Calvinball?" he asked suddenly.
"What is 'Calvinball'?" the man asked, raising a quizzical eyebrow.
"It's a game! I made it up myself," he added proudly.
The man got up, flicking his multicolored scarf over his shoulder. "Why not? I have some time before I need to meet up with Sarah. She gets testy," he added confidentially. "if I'm late."
Calvin laughed, even though he didn't know who Sarah was, and began to explain the complex rules of Calvinball to the man, who listened, engrossed.
When the game was over, and Calvin was smiling again, and the man had left, Calvin suddenly realized he had never asked what the man's name was.
When Calvin was nine, he attempted to swing on the swing set, but couldn't do it. His dad had explained exactly how swinging worked, and he knew the theory, but it just wouldn't come. He gazed up to his room, where he knew Hobbes was catnapping, and wiggled his feet a bit, before trying to push off from the ground. He dangled back and forth, before giving up, and climbing onto the seat, belly on the plastic, so his feet and arms hung over the sides. He managed to dangle back and forth, but it just wasn't the same as the freedom of skimming through the air, wind tickling his bare feet.
"Do you need a push?" asked a person in an unusual cricketing outfit.
Calvin nodded enthusiastically, then glared suspiciously at him. He was wearing celery on his lapel, which wasn't something normal people did. "Did Moe hire you to push me off? Because that sounds like something he'd do. If so, clear off. I have a bloodthirsty vicious attack tiger that could tear your head off."
The man laughed, and assured him that he'd do nothing of the sort, and gave him a push that sent him soaring up to the clouds. Calvin laughed too, as he soared through the sky, in his world of spacemen and alien fighting.
When Calvin was twelve, he somehow managed to toss himself backwards out of his classroom window.
"Oop!" gasped the man in the multicolored coat who caught him. "Is 2007 the year of unidentified flying children landing in the arms of complete strangers?"
"I don't know," said the older woman next to him. "Is it?"
"Do I look like I know?" asked Calvin, who really hadn't meant to fall out of the window. It had just happened. "Would you mind putting me down?"
"With pleasure." The man dumped him on the ground slightly unceremoniously. "Now, where did you pop up from?"
Calvin pointed up towards his classroom, more specifically, the window. "I fell."
The woman blinked. "You... fell."
Calvin made a fist with his hand and swished it through the air slowly, whistling as it came down, and smashed it into his other hand, making a smush noise when it hit, then shrugged. "And... you caught me."
The man nudged his friend. "Impeccable timing as always, eh, Evelyn?"
The woman sighed a bit and shrugged at Calvin. "Ignore him. I always do. You'd better get back to your class, or, er-"
Calvin nodded in understanding, said a quick thank you, and promptly turned in the opposite direction to the school and dashed down the street in a route that was most definitely not the way to his classroom. The man in the rainbow coat and the older woman watched in slight bemusement as he zigzagged his way into the woods.
When Calvin was fourteen, he and Hobbes travelled back into the 19th century and promptly crashed straight into a man who clapped his straw panama hat to his head as he rolled over backwards.
"I hope we aren't going to make a habit of this," he grumbled, flipping himself upwards. He had a slight Scottish accent and an umbrella with a moulded red question mark handle. "It's quite rrrrrude to knocking people over in such a matter." He rolled his rs with great aplomb, as if they were particularly ripe pieces of fruit. He peered at both of them. "Hm. How curious!"
Hobbes's eyes widened slightly. "You can see me?"
"Well, of course I can see you!" snapped the man. "You're standing right in front of me, and you just knocked me over in that time machine of yours."
Calvin brushed dirt off his shirt. "Wait, how do you know it's a time machine?"
"I'm uniquely sensitive," replied the man, turning the cardboard box over, and beginning to fiddle about in its insides. "I'd assume that you're having problems with the landings, correct?"
Calvin almost made to stop him, but restrained himself, since the man looked like he knew what he was doing. "Er, yes."
The strange little man connected two wires, and thumped the box heartily. It sprang to life with a growl. "Fixed. Now, would you please not go around, knocking people into ditches without a care in the world?"
Calvin checked the Time Machine, and found that it was in perfect working order. "I... will. Thanks."
"My pleasure," said the little man, and hopped off down a hill and into the distance. "Ace!" he called. "Don't go blowing anything up without me!"
Hobbes looked at Calvin. "Weird."
"You're telling me," agreed Calvin, then shrugged. "Come on, let's go find some aliens!"
When Calvin was sixteen, he had one of the strangest teachers he could ever recall having. He was a funny young man with a dress sense that seemed firmly stuck in Edwardian mode, and had a blonde assistant with a posh accent that seemed to get into more trouble than an assistant should. He was called Dr Smith, which sounded obviously fake to Calvin. But when he tried to look up the guy on the internet, nothing came up. Despite all of the mystery, though, he was still firmly the best Science teacher that Calvin had ever had- enthusiastic about his subject, and genuinely engaging. His assistant- Miss Pollard- was rather nice, too, although she wasn't exactly his type.
"She's a bit beyond me," he told Hobbes later, staring at the ceiling. "Like she's living in a completely different time period sometimes."
"Sounds like she'd be right up your alley," Hobbes commented.
Calvin laughed. "Yeah, well... I get the impression that if I ever asked her out, Doctor Smith would kill me. Or throw me into a black hole or something- we talked about those last week, actually..."
Dr Smith mysteriously vanished, just as he had come, at the end of the second term. No one ever saw him or his assistant again, although some girls who rather fancied him did try looking.
When Calvin was nineteen, a strange guy and his girlfriend broke into his flat to defeat an alien menace intent on taking over the known universe. He wouldn't have minded, really, but they could've at least knocked first.
As he walked into the messy living room, the first thing he noticed wasn't the fact that his comic books were out of order and scattered across the floor. That little issue kind of paled in comparison to the giant whopping bat-like monster thrashing on the floor.
"GET SOME FLOUR!" yelled the man in the leather jacket who was riding the back of the monster. Calvin stood there, mouth open, and muttered something that could have been 'what?'
A blonde girl dashed past him and into the mini-kitchen, rummaging his cupboard. "He said, get some flour! Where do you keep your flour, anyway?"
Calvin shook himself out of his stupor. "Uh- bottom shelf, far left. It's in the Spiderman cookie tin."
"Thanks!" said the blonde, and pulled it out. She tossed it over to him. "Toss this on it, will ya?"
Calvin did, and it promptly dissolved. The man in the jacket fell to the floor and dusted himself off, beaming brightly.
"Well!" he exclaimed (with a Northern accent). "That's sorted. C'mon, Rose- we've got stuff to do."
He extended a hand to the blonde girl, who shrugged and accepted. They twirled out of Calvin's apartment together, leaving a gaping Calvin behind. The whole incident had taken less than two minutes.
By the time he finally had the sense to dash after them, yelling, "hey, wait," they had already vanished without a trace.
When Calvin was twenty-one, he was sitting opposite a job seeker, looking for a job. The guy was currently expounding (rather enthusiastically) on the positive benefits of becoming a banana farmer. Calvin sighed pointedly, and slid down in his seat, feeling like he was in first grade again.
The guy must have noticed, because he straightened his glasses and brushed a hand through his spiky hair.
"Maybe not banana farming, then," he concluded, as if he had made some particularly brilliant observation. "Hm... let's see." He flipped through some papers. "Alien fighting?"
Calvin sat up instantly, suddenly intrigued. "You're joking, right?"
"I never joke," said the careers bloke with such utter seriousness that Calvin nearly believed him. Then he grinned. "Well... I do. Occasionally. Okay, fine, I tell a lie, I joke almost all the time- but really, what's life without a bit of humor? Or, for that matter, quite a lot-"
"Aliens?" Calvin interrupted eagerly.
"Aha, yes, those." He tossed a brochure over. "Here you go. Torchwood. If it's alien- it's theirs. And I kind of wish that someone would stop them thinking that. Lovely bloke that runs it- Captain Jack Harkness. He's looking for recruits."
Calvin flipped through the glossy pages. At a glance, he could see pteranodons, alien beasts, and lots and lots of futuristic technology.
"I'm in," he said instantly.
"Excellent," said the man happily, with such enthusiasm that Calvin immediately began to suspect that he had planned this all along. It was a suspicion that was intensified by what he said next. "You can start work tomorrow."
Later, when Calvin entered the Hub for the first time, and introduced Hobbes to everyone (and they could see him, no less!) he felt like he actually belonged, for once. And that was an excellent feeling.
When Calvin was twenty-two, a Weevil was chasing him and Hobbes down a street, snarling and snapping.
"Sharp left at the next street," Toshiko instructed via the earpieces fitted to their heads. "Jack and the others are waiting to ambush it."
"Oh good," panted Calvin- he still hadn't quite got the hang of the whole 'running for their lives' thing, even after a year in Torchwood's employ. "I was worried that we might have to do something drastic."
"Define 'drastic'." Hobbes grabbed Calvin's hand, and tugged him forwards.
"Transmogrifier gun," Calvin responded instantly, even as they approached the agreed ambush point. Hobbes groaned.
"Three... two... one..." Tosh warned. On zero, Calvin and Hobbes dived in opposite directions as a large, steel-reinforced net came crashing down, trapping the vicious alien. Calvin reached out to Jack for a high five, before realizing that the person standing opposite him wasn't his boss. For starters, his boss would never wear anything as ridiculous as a bow tie.
"That wasn't part of the plan!" Owen yelled from across the street, annoyed. "Who the hell is that guy?"
The man in the bow tie straightened it smugly. "It looked like you needed a bit of help. Ooh, hello, Jack! How's the alien catching going?"
Jack instantly dropped his gun, which had been steadily rising to the man's head, and he grinned broadly. "Hiya, Doc. Nice of you to drop in."
"Oh, good grief," said Toshiko over the earpiece. "It's him again, isn't it?"
"I'd love to stay and chat," said the man, twirling on his heel, "but Amy and Rory are actually waiting for me, and- well, you know how companions get."
"I do," Jack nodded, and he glanced at the Weevil, still trapped. "We'd better get this one back to the Hub. Drop by sometime, won't you, Doctor?"
Calvin frowned, recognizing the name, and opened his mouth to speak, but before he could, the strange man in the bow tie was gone.
When Calvin was twenty-five- or something...
Oh, never mind.
"It's you, isn't it?" he asked.
The man with grey hair and a cloak that looked as if it should belong to a magician didn't even glance up. His guitar was laid forlornly, next to him. "I have no idea what you mean," he said, Scottish accent making every word sound grumpy. Calvin pushed the guitar to the side, and sat down on the park bench next to him, crossing his arms.
"You're the one who's been visiting me, all this time."
"Was I?" the magician asked cryptically, and closed his eyes. "You know, I thought I was cynical this time 'round at first. It's funny, since right now I'm writing poetry."
Calvin was momentarily thrown. "Poetry?"
"Yes." His eyes were still closed. "A song."
Calvin paused, unwilling to get thrown off track, but couldn't help himself. "Is it a sad song?" You look sad, he thought but didn't say.
"Nothing's sad till it's over," the magician told him. "Then everything is."
"What's it called?"
He paused, and opened his right eye a slit, breathing deeply. "I think it's called Clara."
Calvin thought for a moment. A part of him didn't want to sit here and listen to this- the man who had been following him- almost stalking him- through all his life, sounding so utterly broken and tired of it all.
But another part of him felt pity.
"Tell me about her," he said.
The magician opened both his eyes, and bowed his head. He picked up the guitar, almost tenderly, and began to pick out a tune. When he sang, his voice was soft, and the words alien, but they told a story all the same.
When he was finished, a single tear trickled down his cheek, and he didn't make a move to wipe it away. Calvin sat in silence.
"I'm sorry," he said after a moment, with a lack of anything else to say. "I'm sorry- I shouldn't have-" He broke off, shaking his head. "Never mind."
When Calvin had first seen the magician sitting in the park, all sorts of scenarios had run through his head. Scenarios in which he yelled at him; in which he thanked him; in which he apologized for not thanking him sooner-
He hadn't expected this.
"I think I loved her," said the magician suddenly, but shook his head. "I don't think I knew what love was supposed to feel like."
He set the guitar down, and the two men looked out onto the wet coolness of a Cardiff evening. Calvin was the first to speak.
"Did you mean to?" he asked. "Follow me around, I mean?"
The magician considered this for a moment. "I'm not quite sure. Not at first, I think. But then it just became a compulsion. Did you mean to keep finding me?"
Calvin thought. "I think it became a compulsion, too."
The silence spread, once more.
"Hobbes died," Calvin said suddenly. "He was torn apart by an alien that we found. He's just a pile of fabric and fluff, now."
"I'm sorry to hear that," replied the magician, and he seemed genuinely sorry. "I know he was a good friend to you."
"Yeah, well..." Calvin looked down at his feet. "Not all good things last forever."
"I know," said the magician, and he did, more than anyone. He got up, and tucked his guitar under his arm, and turned to go.
"Will I see you again?" Calvin asked. The magician looked back, and smiled for the first time.
"Who knows?" he said, and disappeared into the night.