The characters of Doctor Who are the property of the BBC. No copyright infringement is intended.
What attracted Bill Potts to the Doctor was the mystery surrounding him.
"If there's one thing you are, Bill, it's curious. You just can't leave anything alone, can you?"
That was a frequent refrain Bill heard from her foster mum, Moira, whom she lived with in a small flat in Bristol. When she got the job in the cafeteria at university, Bill told herself, It's just a gig. I can work the café while I figure out what's next.
Naturally, Moira had to add her slightly drunken advice.
"Why don't you just sign up for some classes, then? Can't hurt, cannit? Mind like yours? You never know, Bill. Maybe you'll like it. But then again, you've never really stuck to anything, have you?"
But that was the problem. Bill hated school. Her entire academic career was a struggle. School was just so dreary. Bill's teachers were dull. She got more out of her discussions with the head master, whom she saw frequently, than she did in any of her courses. It was everything she could do to finish sixth form and get her diploma, a year behind her classmates. She would have given up except that she didn't want to prove Moira right. The cold hearted bitch.
University was different, though, as Bill quickly discerned. It was filled with people who wanted to be there. As she served students during lunch and dinner, she heard snippets of conversation about classes. Professors. Bands. Dating. College life. It all sounded so sexy.
Bill started visiting the pub near campus, and found herself making friends with a number of students. While considered a "townie," which carried it's own stigma, Bill quickly blended in with the nerdier faction of students her age. Her natural intelligence and geekiness made up for her lack of enrollment at uni.
Over the first weeks of the fall semester, she heard about a mysterious professor who called himself "The Doctor" and taught an array of subjects, from physics to ancient history. His classes had long waiting lists. Bill's friends always talked about what outrageous thing the Doctor said that day. From where Bill sat, the things they called outrageous sounded brilliant.
Finally, she decided she needed to check it out for herself. The first time she snuck into one of his lectures, the topic was string theory. The hall was packed. She sat near the door in case she was found out and had to leave.
The lecture was everything she hoped for. The Doctor entered the room through a door in back of the podium several minutes after the official start time. The buzz of conversation ended abruptly and was replaced by the sounds of textbooks and laptops opening. His clothing was outlandishly formal, Bill decided, closer to Victorian era high society than 21st century Bristol.
He launched into the topic as if picking up an ongoing conversation after a brief interruption. Bill didn't try to understand the subject matter, which sounded like a chain of scientific terms delivered in another language, perhaps Swahili, with a Scottish accent. There were no slides. No reference to textbook pages, either, though several students around Bill paged through their books, searching for an anchor.
She let the discourse wash over her like a warm tide. While she didn't know anything about string theory except for references to it in the many sci-fi books and movies she devoured from the age of seven on, when the Doctor talked about spacetime and multiple dimensions, Bill had an overwhelming sense of connection to the universe. To spacetime. To everything, really. Of being incredibly important and significant, while at the same time inconsequential and small. In her head, she said, Yes, that's it! That's exactly right. I get you!
Bill made for the door when he gave an assignment and the class broke into teams to work it out. On her short walk from the lecture hall to the cafeteria, She struggled to capture the substance of her epiphany. While she couldn't pinpoint the exact topic or phrase, that feeling of everything being connected lingered.
Bill returned the next week, and the week after, always sitting in the back, always leaving if there was a group activity. She thought maybe the Doctor noticed her once or twice. She dreaded the moment when he would call on her to answer a question, and always breathed a sigh of relief when he passed her over.
Gradually, the subject matter started making sense. Bill began stopping in at the library after the dinner shift. She allowed herself an hour on the Internet, taking the later bus home, exploring what she found about things that interested her in the Doctor's lectures. It's just a hobby, really. Something to pass the time, she told herself. She was single again, and things were miserable at home with Moira. String theory was a nice distraction.
This routine carried on until the mid-term break. As she left the cafeteria after her last shift before the break, she found a strange looking man waiting for her. He was white, short, chubby, and wore thick glasses. His clothes looked a little unconventional. He wore a colorful wool hat and coat against the autumn chill.
"Miss? Excuse me, but are you…" he glanced at something that was scribbled on the back of his hand in black ink. "Bill Potts?"
Her foster-Mum piped up in the back of her head about the many things that could go wrong when talking to strange men who knew your name and shouldn't.
"Yes, that's me. What's it to you?" Bill didn't mean for it to come out as cross as it sounded.
"Erm, you have an appointment with the Doctor. I'm Nardole. I'm – his assistant."
"What Doctor?" Bill's memory check for recently scheduled doctor's appointments took just a moment. "You mean the Doctor?"
"Yes, that's the one."
"What's his name, anyway? And why's he wanting to meet with me?"
Nardole ignored her questions and turned north, inclining his head to indicate that Bill should follow. She heard a curious creaking sound when he did that. The odd man flinched, as if something pained him slightly.
"His office is right around the corner. We'll be there in a tick."
You're so busted, Potts, she thought, as she fell in step beside the strange man with a strange name. Nardole. What kind of name is that?
That meeting was the beginning of what was next for Bill Potts. Never in her wildest dreams did she envision a future where she would partner up with an ancient being from another planet who would mentor her and take her on grand adventures through space and time. But that's exactly what happened. And it was amazing.