Chloe was always wary of strange people that she didn't know. This one, this little man in his shabby tweed jacket, his blood red waistcoat, his white shirt, his wild hair, his checked trousers; he was trouble. She was watching him like a hawk, because somehow, after years of sniffing out meteor freaks, she knew exactly what to expect.
So she spied on him. She didn't tell Clark – not yet, she didn't want to bother him – but she took a covert picture of him, and tried to find out if he'd committed any crimes. All she got was a name – if you could call it that - 'The Doctor'. There were all sorts of conspiracy theories about him, from UNIT files to Alien invasion stories (pfft). But what was his name? If she knew that, she might get some answers. What did he want? That too, was a mystery. He popped up, every now and then.
So one day, she followed him from the library. Oddly, he wandered down a long dusty country road, never once looking back at her. Then, some way out of Smallville, he started singing, in an odd accent – Scottish?
"It's the music that we choose, it's the music that we choose, it's the music that we choose, it's the music that we choose…"
Chloe recognised the song. She stopped and hid behind a bush as he went through the whole first verse, then, when he stopped before the chorus, she almost joined in. Then he took out a pocket watch, checked it, then looked in her direction.
"It's your cue, you know," he said. Chloe tried not to gasp, as he continued. "You know, I don't mind so much you following me, but when you don't even join in a simple sing along, that's just taking the prrroverrrbial."
His accent made him roll his 'r's in a very strange way. Chloe stepped out.
"Who are you?" she asked.
"I might ask you the same, if I didn't already know," the Doctor said. "Chloe Sullivan. Amateur reporter. Darn good, considering where you arrrrre. I read your last article, by the way. Most interrrresting."
"It's a school paper," Chloe said, confused.
"No, I mean I read your last article, before you rrretired," the Doctor said. "It was very good."
Chloe raised an eyebrow.
"Are you quite sane?" she asked.
"Oh, no," he smiled. "I'm the Doctor."
He tipped his hat to her, and walked off. Chloe, slightly dazed, let him go, since – well, did he just imply that he was a Time Traveller?
She walked away, not noticing him enter a small blue box, which then vanished…
3 years later. 2008
Chloe was walking down a Metropolis street, having just finished yet another days work at the Planet. It had been a slow week, there had been absolutely no interesting things going on, at all – no monsters, no freaks, no aliens...
And then she saw the man again, walking straight towards her.
"Hello!" he said. "Pleasure to see you again!"
"Wish I could say the same," she muttered. "Just who the hell are you? Are you stalking me?"
"No," he said, perfectly innocent. "I just happen to be in the same arrrrea as you. How long has it been since you saw me last?"
"Three years," Chloe said, confused.
"Has it?!" the little man said, suddenly shocked. "Well, now. Tempos Fugit, it seems."
"You're crazy," Chloe pointed out.
"Again, no, I am the Doctor," the man said. "And – this is… 2008?"
"Yeeees," Chloe said, seriously thinking she was dealing with a crazy man.
"Still not quite there, yet, then," the man said. "Oh, by the way – look up at the sky."
Chloe immediately looked up, before chastising herself for falling for such an obvious trick. when she looked down again the strange man – the Doctor – was gone.
"Great," she muttered.
The man was younger, in a faux-Edwardian costume, but somehow she felt the connection.
"You look totally different to the Doctor I met," she told him, as soon as he introduced himself, in a small bar in Metropolis.
"I know," he said, grinning. "Unfortunate incident in Chinatown, San Fran. I love that word – San Fran. Must meet someone called Fran just so we can go to San Fran and say, this is San Fran, Fran!"
He babbled a lot. That was the most obvious thing. He seemed more absent minded – but his eyes and his clothes were similar, and maybe a little of the smile.
"You're not the same person," she said to him.
"Well, technically I am, but genetically I'm not," the man smiled. "Just call me his successor – makes life easier."
"So, what do you want?" Chloe asked.
"To talk about your friend Clark," the man smiled. "Lovely man," he added. "Totally devoted to doing good…"
He stopped at the blanch on Chloe's face.
"Oh, sorry," he said. "Yes, I know about Clark. No, he doesn't know who I am, just yet, anyway – unless this is 2013?"
"It's 2009," Chloe said.
"Oh, then no he doesn't know I know," the Doctor said – the man said, he was not the same Doctor. "But I know. Good fellow. Good thing he has friends like Lois and you, too."
"What do you want?" Chloe asked.
"Just to watch the world," the man said. "Help a little myself. Nothing major. Worlds. Galaxies. Universes, once."
"You're not the Doctor," Chloe repeated.
"When we first met," the Doctor said, "at least – when we first met by your account – I was singing 19/2000, by the Gorillaz – Damon Albarn, very nice man – I was at Blurs first concert – anyway, you didn't join in, and I got rather upset."
Chloe blanched again. This guy was the Doctor.
"Anyway," the Doctor said. "Just do me a favour – next time we meet – I'll be tall, with a really long scarf – tell me, 'go left, then right.' Trust me, remember that."
Chloe nodded, half dazed with utter confusion.
The Doctor smiled, nodded, and walked away.
A week later.
"Excuse me," the man said, his voice deep and commanding. "I'm looking for a great big secret base."
Chloe looked up at him – tall, curly hair, blue eyes – long scarf.
"Go left then right," she said, quickly. The man looked vaguely surprised for a moment, then turned in triumph to a small blonde woman.
"See Romana?" he bellowed. "I told you someone would know…"
He and his friend walked off, leaving Chloe alone and confused.
"Look up at the sky!" someone called out, loudly, silencing the din for a long time.
Chloe Sullivan hadn't fallen for that yet, nor would she easily do so. Well, not since the weird guy, all those years ago…
"Is it a bird?" someone asked.
"It's a plane," someone else asserted.
Chloe looked up, just to see what al the fuss was about. Then her eyes widened.
"Clark," she breathed. Then she smiled. "No," she called out, over the din. "That's Superman!"
And, unseen by anyone, the little man in the red waistcoat smiled, and looked up.
"Now, this is the right time," he murmured, pocketing his watch. "The beginning."
A little more.
"It seems these aliens have a message for Earth," the newscaster said to the camera, as Chloe watched. "The message is coming through now…"
And then, like a horrible nightmare, a harsh metallic voice rang through the TV speakers, and Chloe felt, for the first time in her life, a true sense of fear.
"Exterminate," the voice repeated. "Exterminate. Exterminate. Exterminate. Exterminate. Exterminate. Exterminate. Exterminate! Exterminate!"
Chloe sat back, reasoning that the end of the world was upon them. Clark wasn't even on Planet – the entire JLA were off sorting out some off world dispute or another. Then she locked eyes with a twenty something man across the bar – and gazed into his eyes. He grinned at her, and walked away. Chloe smiled. Ok, things were going to be alright after all.
The Doctor was in.
She was almost surprised to see him. But somehow, this man was always going to be there. Stranger in a strange land. Chloe had seen so many things that made no sense, Ghosts, and Cybermen and Daleks, Clark – Superman – saving countless realities. His Death and resurrection, almost Christ like in some sense. But this other man, the Doctor; she knew him as well.
Never mind that he looked completely different, walking up to her hospital bed. Never mind that she was half blind and dying. She watched as the youngish man in his trenchcoat and his suit and his shirt and tie walked up, and he smiled down at her.
"That last article," he said. "Masterpiece."
Chloe smiled, too weak to speak. Then she was asleep and he was gone forever.