Title: No Such Gorram Thing
Character(s): The Firefly Crew, Three, Four, Seven, Ace McShane, Eight, Nine, Rose Tyler, Jack Harkness, Ten, Martha Jones.
Spoilers for: Nothing, actually.
Notes: My offering for the 2008 Doctor Who Crossover Ficathon. I take no responsibility for the insanity of my Muse. This is what it demanded and would accept nothing else. Immeasurable thanks to my beta, st_aurafina who made this so much better with so little time and to such_heights whose prompt inspired this.
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
Hamlet Act 1, scene 5, 166-167
Little Malcolm Reynolds was five when his Pa took off.
Least that's what everyone in town and otherwise always said.
He doesn't really remember. Memory of that time's all stewed together, filled with shadows, childhood monsters and the fleeting recollection of his father's embrace.
His Ma had left with some of the hands to take care of a fence, leavin' his Pa to take care of most everything else at the house.
They'd eaten and later, Mal had protested the need for a nap vigorously and lost the battle.
The sound of something breaking downstairs woke him up.
"Pa!" he shouted.
The answering silence unnerved him, and he crept downstairs.
"Pa?" he repeated his call as he entered the office.
He stopped short.
There was a man, tall and skinny like a may-pole and dressed finely, even if all he could see was the man's back. The girl was pretty, with bright, blonde hair but much too old to not be wearin' a dress.
"Who are you? Where's my Pa?!" he questioned with suspicion as soon as he caught sight of the pair of strangers who had no business bein' alone in his parent's office, with all their "very important papers". He knew, he'd gotten a smack for that.
The man jerked in surprise at the shout, and a dark, black shape, a shadow, previously obscured from his view, thrashed and was gone with a terrifying shriek of triumph.
"Tyen shiao duh," Mal breathed with disbelief. "What was that?"
"An elemental shade," the man in the suit said shortly.
The girl stared at Mal with big, sad eyes before turning to her companion.
"Doctor?" she questioned.
The Doctor shook his head. "It's gone, Rose. We have to follow it before it can consume again."
Mal didn't know what the man meant but he had a very bad feeling. It was never a good thing when the adults got all serious.
"I'm sorry," the Doctor said simply before he pointed some kind of contraption that lit up at him…and then nothing. A big blank.
He woke up in bed. It was night. His Ma was in the kitchen; waiting.
She waited for days. She never stopped.
He never saw his Pa again.
Kaylee is seven and she's lost.
She'd given her Ma the slip and run off to her Pa's shop. He promised, every year, that he'd take her with him but kept putting it off until she was "older".
Well, she was plenty old enough now even if he didn't think so.
But she's forgotten how to get there and can't find the way home and she doesn't dare stop to ask for help 'cause they're all off-worlders and she's already gonna get her hide tanned so hard she won't be able to sit for days--and it'd all be worth it if she could just touch the engine of an Icarus-class ship--but her Ma'd kill her if she spoke to some stranger fresh off a boat.
She stops walking when she hears it.
There's the sound of grinding metal, a song which she's dreamed about since before she can even remember.
Without even thinkin' she's running towards it, ducking into the alley where the sound was loudest before it started to fade.
Confused, she frowns. Only one way in or out, lots of trash and a big blue box.
Where had the sound come from?
Cautiously, she creeps forward, towards the thumpin' and clangin' that's comin' from inside the box.
The door's open a crack so it's easy to slip inside for a peek.
"Wuh de ma!"she yelps in surprise and quickly claps a hand over her mouth. Too late.
"And who might you be?"
He's tall and white-haired, reminds her of Old John who sometimes slips her a strawberry with a smile and a wink.
"Kaywinnit Lee Frye," she answers promptly, without thought.
"Pleased to meet you, Miss Frye," he bows gallantly, with a swish of lace cuffs.
She can't help but giggle.
"That's wrong," she points out cheerily.
"What, exactly, is wrong, my dear?" he questions, slightly patronizing.
Boldly, she continues further into the bright, white room until she reaches the source of the thrum and hum she can feel in her blood. There are wires and odds and ends trailing from the console with the screens and buttons, her small fingers immediately occupy themselves with twists and connections, plugging, unplugging and rearranging without rhyme or reason.
"Child! What are--oh! I see!" He is smiling broadly, watching avidly. "You are quite the little prodigy, aren't you?"
Kaylee grins, able to recognize a compliment. "Pa won't let me help him."
The man looks stricken. "Oh dear. Parents," he murmurs the word to himself as if it were a revelation.
He scrutinizes her for a moment. "Have you run away, Miss. Frye?"
"Not really," she hedges.
He sighs and holds out a hand. "Come, Miss. Frye."
She looks at his hand then at the beauty of what she's been tinkering with, clearly torn.
"Your parents will be worried," he adds.
She takes his hand.
"Who are you?" she inquires belatedly as they step into the alley, leaving the bright place filled with the song of machinery that until now, only existed in her dreams.
"I--I am merely a traveler trying to return to the stars, my dear. A goal which you've helped me come closer to achieving. Thank you."
"But what's your name?" she questions with slight exasperation.
"I am called the Doctor."
Derrial Book isn't his name but it's as good as any.
His mission is clear, if somewhat insulting to his skills: retrieve the blue container, subdue its owner and deliver them to the station on Heinlein.
Unfortunately, there's a girl with a wicked grin and a threatening stance who worries him as much as the cunning looking man hiding under the exterior of an absentminded and bumbling scholar.
The girl lobs something at him; a silver canister which he catches by reflex, even as his mind screams not to.
"Twenty second timer," she announces cheerily. Book's mind quickly calculates that five of those seconds have already elapsed.
"Ace!" the man shouts and runs for cover, umbrella cocked over his shoulder, traveling faster than a man of his age has any right to move. The girl spins on her heel and pelts after him.
He tosses the canister away and follows their example.
He doesn't remember much after the thirteenth second.
Inara Serra might be considered a novice but she is at the top of her class. Her instructors whisper and gossip about her aptitude, envisioning the splendor of her skills in full bloom.
Experience has yet to truly settle and calm her, youth has not given way to wisdom and serenity.
She is fiercely pursued by those who fancy themselves in love with her and the experience can still give her a heady sense of over-confidence.
She plans to be the perfect Companion; to give and inspire love.
She thinks him beautiful, when she sees him. He has a face fit to be painted by artists centuries dead on Earth-that-was.
He is charming and polite, attractive and appealing in a way that is deeper than the face he wears.
She wonders if he has had training or whether he is simply a very talented natural, able to captivate entire audiences with only his words and his eyes.
She smiles, coy with the slightest tease meant to entice, as she watches him evaluate her with the same skills. She is thrilled, fascinated and eager to meet and match, to surpass, his expertise.
"The stars, Inara, have you never wondered what lies beyond this system?" he questions with a solemn air.
"Are you asking if I believe in aliens?" she teases gently.
"Do you?" he counters, intent on her answer.
In that moment, entire galaxies seem to live in the eternity of his eyes. Whatever witty rejoinder she had is lost as his gaze compels and enthralls her, beckoning her to draw closer.
"No," she replies reflexively, with the answer everyone is taught from birth.
The moment is lost.
She feels as if something has just passed her by, something she cannot name or recognize and she wants to say something, anything but she can't find the words and now he is no longer that timeless being with secret promises and stars in his eyes.
He is only a beautiful man who leaves with a courteous farewell.
Years later, when the House is too small, and the politics too petty, she flees to the stars in search of eternity and the freedom she'd seen in another's eyes.
Leaving home had been a matter of common sense for Jayne.
He was old enough to be a man and his Ma needed the help of a man to keep the house afloat.
He doesn't expect to find Reavers in the black; thought they were ghost stories for naughty children.
Ghosts are comin' for him and he hasn't got much ammo. He knows everyone else on the boat is dead even if they're still breathin'.
He's set and ready to say his apologies and goodbyes to his Ma and his siblings before putting a bullet through his head when people run past his tiny cabin.
"Run!" one of the men--tight pants and a gun Jayne would kill for--shouts.
What the hell, he figures as he follows them, ain't no shame in tryin' to live.
Only, they must already be touched in the brain pan. Reavers must've turned 'em gorram crazy because it looks like they're planning' on takin' cover in some flimsy wood box that won't fit but two of 'em if they squeeze real tight.
"Come on," the one with the leather jacket growls and pulls him in.
"Gwai-gwai long duh dong!" he shouts 'fore he passes out.
He wakes up in Newhall, finds a job and swears to never drink again.
Or, for another week which sounds more reasonable.
Zoe Alleyne is a strong woman on account of her Momma and her Daddy and she doesn't take any nonsense from no one.
When some yo cho yo ying bastard with more teeth than sanity starts babbling at her about being his Companion after she saved his miserable hide from hanging on his own gorram scarf she's set to kill the go tsao de piece of gos se, until he gets around to the part about aliens and time travel. Then it's just obvious to her that he's completely fong luh so she knocks him out instead.
Wash crashes into the man so hard that they fall in a tangle of limbs.
"Sorry! I'm so sorry," Wash babbles apologies to the dazed stranger as he tries to man chuckles as he collects himself from the street.
"No harm done," he says cheerily in an accent that makes it obvious he's from Dyton, wealthy too judging from the natural textiles of his brown suit and the cleanliness of his coat and the shoes are obviously custom, he's never seen the like.
"Really sorry," Wash repeats. "I'm Wash."
"Wash?" the man repeats as a question.
Wash shrugs. "Hoban Washburne."
He looks sympathetic. "I see the reason for it then. I'm the Doctor, pleased to meet you, Wash. I think you're the first Wash I've known, actually. Not a very common name, interesting though. Your last name, very contradictory."
Wash can only stare in awe as the man continues to babble at length and at an alarming rate with a single breath of air.
"Nice to meet you too, Doctor. What kind of doctor are you? Must have taken awhile to finish school, expensive too, I expect. But being a doctor must be worth it huh?"
Wash could babble too.
"Oh well, I suppose it is. What do you do, Wash? If you don't mind me asking? You look like a pilot. Are you a pilot?"
Wash felt the blush on his face as he rubbed the back of his neck. "No! Not a pilot. I was actually on my way to apply for a job at the factory--" he trailed off, embarrassed.
"Factory? I suppose that's all well and good. What about flight school? I just passed by this sign that said they're taking on applicants. That'd be fun, wouldn't it? Flying, traveling, seeing the stars, what could be better?"
Wash couldn't help but snort rudely while gesturing to the obscured, pollution-clouded sky. "I've never even seen a star, Doctor. What would I be doing up there?"
The Doctor's eyes widen in disbelief and a small amount of pity. "What about having adventures? Finding aliens, maybe?" he adds teasingly.
"Aliens?" Wash laughs.
The Doctor smiles enigmatically and pats Wash's shoulder. "Think about it," he advises as he continues on his way.
Wash can't help but continue to snicker at the man's expense. Aliens?
There was that voice, persuasive and awed.
Flying, traveling, seeing the stars, what could be better?
"What have I got to lose?" Wash asks himself.
He signs up.
"Excuse me, could you help us?"
Simon Tam, youngest doctor on staff looked up from his patient file to see the widely grinning man with an attractive woman at his side.
"What do you need?" he asked.
The man flipped open a wallet, flashing his credentials. "I'm Doctor Smith, that's Almost-Doctor Jones. We're here about the unusual patient, young boy exhibiting unusual markers in his DNA?"
"Oh! The Alliance said they were sending over agents today. Very well, this way," he gestured as he led them to the patient.
"He's lightly sedated as per the instructions we were given," he explained as he opened the secure room, swiping his card and punching in his code.
Doctor Smith immediately began taking measure of the patient. Measuring his responses and taking his vitals with an exceedingly outdated stethoscope which seemed more fitted for a museum.
"Have you any idea what the cause of the mutations are? Some of the markers are completely random and unlike nothing we've ever seen. And who is he? We tried to run a search but he didn't appear in any of our databases."
The woman, Jones, glared at him. "He's a little boy, not your experiment," he heard her mutter.
"He's an alien," Doctor Smith dead-panned.
Simon chuckled politely, somewhat uncomfortable with the hostile intern and the eccentric doctor. He sobered immediately, as Doctor Smith unplugged the monitoring equipment.
"Martha, can you manage him?"
"Yes, Doctor," she answered as she moved to help him maneuver the bed towards the door.
"You're not government agents," Simon realized the fact aloud.
Doctor Smith shrugged, grinning irreverently. "Nope. Sorry!"
Simon gave the alarm button a longing, furtive glance.
"Your sister!" The man burst out, just as Simon was rallying his courage for a lunge at the button.
Simon froze, one arm outstretched. "Are you threatening me?" he hissed.
Smith shook his head. "No. I'm warning you. Make sure she's safe. The threat, I assure you, Doctor Tam, is not from me."
It took a moment for him to process the suggestion before he shook his head and pressed the button. By then, Smith had already started running.
All trace of them was gone when hospital security arrived.
Months later, after finding and saving his sister he can't help but wonder what atrocities the Alliance and Doctor Smith committed on the poor boy he'd briefly been responsible for.
Sobbing and screaming as the pain of reading the man in front of her recedes, River can't help but be gratified to know that someone in the 'verse is crazier than she is.