Cassie stood in front of me awkwardly (awkward? Since when was Cassie awkward with me? S'pose she knows I'm not used to failure and was a bit nervy about how I was going to react. Not like I was going to spontaneously combust in light of my failure. Much.) as my Physics class trickled out. I knew she was trying not to state the obvious, bless her. The bloody demo hadn't worked, and I was left standing there like a lemon with the stupid circuit round my neck, whilst my Physics class tried to be nice about the whole thing (as I was clearly not all there and they wanted to humour the mad kid. Nice of them). From the look on Anselm's face you'd have thought Christmas had come early, and he'd received a shiny new batch of comic book porn. Wanker.
"Well," he started, sounding jubilant, because, as I've previously pointed out, this is what he gets his kicks out of,"That didn't go too well, did it, Tyler?"
I forced a smile. Dunno why I thought smiling would be a good idea, but it's what I do. If in doubt, pretend to be happy as a king. Even if no sane person would be.
"Now do you see what I mean about science fiction?"
"Very clearly, sir." You'd know. You probably spend your evenings watching Star Trek with Klingon subtitles.
"Ty, I've got to go," Cassie announced quickly, gripping my hand in sympathy (not kissing me in front of Anselm, for which I was heartily grateful) and slipping past him and out of the door, the keyboard that she'd brought with her tucked under her arm. Great, Cass. Go to bloody orchestra practice and leave me with not a soul to roll my eyes at. Very charitable.
Anselm ranted at me for a few more minutes, essentially implying that I'm an arrogant little narcissist and I need to realise that there's a line between real life and fantasy. All I can say is, I'm not the one who thinks he looks good in a magenta shirt. I nodded and smiled, which probably added to his impression that I was delusional. Well, that's fine with me. It's funny to see how people respond to you when they think you're not all there. After my bollocking (abridged, because he had a department meeting) he fucked off and left me to clear up my circuity thing. Yeah, sir. Thanks for offering to lend a hand.
It should have worked. Yet it hadn't, for no reason that I could work out. I'd been stood there with the thing around my neck, as Cassie played the Bach whatsit. I think my nerves must have been affecting my hearing somehow, because it didn't sound as good as usual, even though all the notes seemed to be in the right places. Number seven, Cassie had chosen, in D minor. Should have been a dead cert. I'd felt the energy pulsing through the circuit, and when I'd pressed the button to add that one vital particle, there hadn't been a doubt in my mind.
And it hadn't broken, or anything. Apart from the fact that it hadn't worked, the circuit was functioning beautifully.
Sighing, I pulled the circuit from my neck. I felt like tearing the damn thing apart, such was my frustration. And then…
I'm not sure how to say this. It's going to sound beyond ridiculous, since the thing hadn't worked during my demo. But when I gripped it…
It was like I got a little shock, from static electricity. Not exactly surprising, it had had electrons racing around it at the speed of light a few moments before. But it was only when I got that little shock that I realised I was feeling distinctly odd. Like something was pulling at every cell of my body, gently at first, then stronger. I stumbled, wondering if the circuit had magnetised the iron in my blood or something. It could happen.
But then the tugging feeling gave a last, decisive yank, and there was an explosion of light. And then…?
Okay. This was not what I was expecting. Well, to be honest, I don't actually know what I was expecting, so I don't really have anything to go by in that statement. But I'm fairly sure my hypothesis didn't involve materialising face-down in what appeared to be someone's front room. But not. Because most people's front rooms had windows, and this place didn't. Besides, there was this strange, throbbing hum, which I doubted was central heating.
And then I noticed a fortysomething ginger woman, staring at me with a slack jaw and bulging eyes.
"Who the hell are you?" she choked, slowly going puce.
I didn't see that telling the woman my name would be especially constructive in this situation. It seemed to me that she'd benefit more from my explaining why I'd materialised on the rug in her windowless, noisy front room.
"Sorry," I started, sounding unusually polite. For me, anyway. Cassie and my mum are always saying that I'm too rude to people. Must work on. And if I was going to appear in front of this ginger woman and nearly give her a heart attack, I'd like to point out that of course I had the grace to be apologetic. I'm socially inept, not stupid. "This might sound like an odd question, but… is this a parallel universe?"
The woman goggled at me. I was never going to get much out of her, I realised. Only fair. I'd materialised on her carpet. She didn't owe me anything.
A man's voice spoke up suddenly from the doorway, and I whipped my head around. Tall bloke, standing in the doorway dressed in converse (why is it that even at times like these I notice other people's shoes?) and a blue suit, with a weird gleam in his eye. "Parallel to what?"
Okay, I know it's a short chapter, but I felt that this and the next chapter needed breaking up. I realise that it's not my best, but it's very much a filler between the good stuff. I think you can guess where Ty is now, and who he's with. I'll try to get the next (hopefully meatier) chapter up within the next couple of days, I just couldn't merge the two successfully.
I'd also like to explain a couple of technical problems that come with working with a Mac. For one, the first line of everything I post seems to be repeated, and for another, my line breaks and suchlike don't get recognized. This means I've got to wait and use my brother's PC to get this all sexifed (as I've recently done with all my other fics) using the document editor. For now though, I crave your indulgence.
Do review, I still love to hear comments. Especially if they're irrelevant. And can I point out to everyone that this fandom is SO much better for reviews? You get much longer, more substantial reviews with more constructive criticism, which is absolutely lovely. I was also amused to receive a flame for, of all things, the name Gallifrey. Dear dear, someone's not been reading a word apart from the summary. shakes head in despair silly people.