Title: Faces And Names
Author: Beer Good
Fandoms: Doctor Who/Hitch-Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy
Timeline: Season 1 (new Who), pre-"The Empty Child", but with spoilers for s3.
Word Count: ~1100
Characters: Nine, Rose, Mickey, Wowbagger, surprise
Disclaimer:: The characters belong to RTD, DNA, and BBC. I make no USD, GBP or EUR off posting fic about them to LJ, FFN, ETC.
"You walk past a café, but you don't eat when you've lived too long" (David Bowie)
Faces And Names
"'The Doctor', eh?" Mickey grumbled as he and Rose stood outside the TARDIS, watching the aforementioned timelord fiddle about with something inside. "I'll bet he hasn't even told you his real name. Doctor of what? I don't care if he's an alien, that's not a name, it's a bloody title."
"And a Mickey is a sleeping pill." The Doctor cheerfully closed the doors of the TARDIS and joined them outside. "I've told you before: I'm the Doctor, just the Doctor. That's what I do, that's what I am, that's who I am, that's all you need to know."
"But why?" Rose asked. "I mean, we've told you our names, what's the big secret?"
The Doctor grinned in that slightly unsettling way he had. "I love it. You lot are always so open, tossing your names about like they belonged to everyone, like they said everything there ever was to say about you. Your parents tell you who you are, and then for the rest of your lives it's 'Hi, I'm Rose.' 'Hi, I'm Mickey.' Not giving a second's thought to what your names might be used for, the power of a name in the wrong hands... it's a luxury." He beamed at them and kept walking.
Mickey turned to Rose. "What was that about?"
"I don't know. He's like that sometimes."
Mickey rolled his eyes at the heavens. "And you still trust him? An alien with no name appears out of thin air one day, and you two just go prancing off in his..." He froze with his face looking up at the sky. "...Spaceship?"
They all looked up in surprise at the long silver spaceship that calmly and elegantly slid down from the clouds with a low, non-threatening hum, landing so softly and perfectly it would have made an Olympic gymnastics judge weep.
A door opened.
A ramp slid out.
And a tall, greyish-greenish being stepped out. An unmistakably alien being, a little too tall, a little too flat around the face, with skin a little too shiny – as if he spent at least an hour using very expensive anti-aging cream every day.
Mickey and Rose took a step back when the alien reached inside his robe for something, but it turned out to just be a clipboard, which he checked before fixing his eyes on Mickey. "Mickey Smith?"
"Mickey Reginald Smith?"
Rose blinked. "'Reginald'?"
"Yeah, what of it?" Mickey turned back to the alien.
The alien checked his clipboard again and then raised his head, looking Mickey straight in the eye. "You're an idiot, Mickey Smith. A complete cretin."
Now, when an alien you've never met before steps out of a spaceship, addresses you by name and calls you an idiot, you'd be excused for taking a while to process this information. So it's to Mickey's credit that he managed to get out a "...Wha?"
"You heard me."
"Oi!" Rose put her hand on Mickey's shoulder, equally surprised, and shot the alien an angry look. "You can't just walk up to... fly up to random strangers and -"
"Who are you again?"
The alien sighed. "I'll see you in a few thousand years. And you..." He looked at the Doctor, frowned, and then grimaced as if he remembered something. "Oh. It's you."
"Hullo again!" The Doctor grinned and waved at him.
The alien shot all three of them a cold look, then made the same grimace again and walked back up the ramp. Just before the door closed, he turned back to the Doctor. "I'll find out eventually, you know."
For once, the Doctor didn't smile. "No, you won't."
And the spaceship took off, if possible even more silently and gracefully than it had arrived. Within seconds it was just a silver glint in the stratosphere, and then it was gone.
Mickey finally snapped out of his surprise. "What... what was that?"
"Oh, just Wowbagger," the Doctor shrugged.
"So... now what?" Rose asked. "Do we go after him, or what?"
"No point. He's harmless enough. Besides, he's probably halfway out of the solar system already, now that he's done what he came for."
"You mean he came all the way to Earth just to call me a..." Mickey didn't want to finish that sentence.
"Yup." The Doctor seemed to think that took care of the matter, but when Mickey and Rose kept looking at him like he'd just asked them to believe that the moon really was made of cheese, possibly cheddar, he relented. "Look, it's simple. His name is Wowbagger the Infinitely Prolonged. He's immortal, meaning he will never die. Since he's not happy with that, and since he's got nothing better to do with his time, he's decided to insult the entire galaxy."
Rose stared at him. "What, as in..."
"Every single individual of every single species on every single planet. In alphabetical order."
"But that's... impossible."
"Nope. It just takes a very long time, even if he probably has some sort of time machine. We've run into each other a few times. I remember he called Jamie a 'knock-kneed Scots git'. Don't feel bad, Mickey, he gets everyone eventually." The Doctor grinned again, looking insufferably pleased with himself. "Well... the ones he knows the real names of, anyway."
- - -
Back on his spaceship, Wowbagger sat back in his chair and rubbed his temples. He barely listened as his computer told him their next stop was the planet of Creefen-B, where he was supposed to call King Mick Eyregi Naldsmit I "a sad little king of a sad little mill" (Creefen-B being known for its cotton production), after which they would just do a few jumps forward in time to deliver similar insults to King Micks II-IV.
Damnit. He should have recognized them. There'd been a lot of faces in all these years, a lot of names... but still, he should have recognized them. At least him. OK, with both of them being time-travellers, he never had the same face twice in a row, but... still.
But that's what happens when you live this long; you change your own face and name often enough, and eventually everyone else's start blurring together too. Wowbagger looked up and caught his own reflection in one of the few shiny surfaces on the inside of his spaceship. At least he couldn't blame the Doctor for not recognizing him; after all these millennia, even with all the anti-aging cream, he didn't look remotely human anymore. Not for the first time, he wondered how he would end up. He'd even asked the Doctor once. Not that this Doctor would remember that yet, of course. Not that any of them could help him.
What happens if I live for a million years?
The being that had once called himself Jack Harkness decided to put some extra sting into his next few thousand insults.