The day the Doctor met Forrest Gump

The Doctor saw a lonely bus bench before him. No place better to think than a bus bench. There is no liability to have to go somewhere just as there is no reason not to leave at your leisure and go wherever the number 23 should so ever take you.

The Doctor sat with an exhaling breath, looking up to the bright blue sky with a thoughtful gaze. He'd left her three months ago and yet it only felt as though three minutes had passed since he was on that god forsaken beach, asking her if it needed saying. Of course it needed saying, he should have told her. At this thought the Time Lord inhaled with the weight of the world, which happened to amount to the guilt and regret he was harbouring, as his stare narrowed on the cloudless expanse above him, breaking contact with the fragment of ozone he was staring at only when he felt a presence beside him.

"Hello. My name's Forrest, Forrest Gump. You want a chocolate?"

The Doctor lolled his head to his right shoulder, seeing a man, nearing thirty, sporting a slightly off-white suit and a smile to match. He readjusted himself offering the white box of chocolates he was clutching by raising them further into the Doctor's scrutinizing eye line.

"No thanks" he returned, watching the man carefully. His green eyes looked softly back, this Forrest had a warmth to him, a refreshing warmth that the Doctor found most intriguing.

"My momma always said, life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get." Forrest continued, placing the box on his lap with precision, adjusting the angle so that the sides were parallel with his legs and then placing his hands palm down on the lid. The Doctor nodded, considering how astoundingly correct this man was and pondered the thought that his mother must have a brilliant lady, making a mental note to pay her a visit some time. After doing so the Doctor seemed prompted to sit up straight, having observed the man's movements, putting legs together in much the same fashion as though testing the position out before relaxing into his usual falsely at ease posture.

Forrest had in turn been studying the curious man at the opposite end of the bench and sashayed his shoulders subtly. A comfortable silence passed as a young man strolled by, the pair watched him for no particular reason, Forrest's eyes then noticing the seated stranger's shoes. There were lovely worn shoes, not like any he'd seen before "Those must be comfortable shoes, I bet you could walk all day in shoes like those and not feel a thing"

The Doctor diverted his eyes to Forrest "Yes, I suppose they are" he smiled, outstretching his ankle as it tilted from side to side. He admired the scuffs, his mind couldn't help but wander to thoughts of the places they'd been and more importantly who with.

"My momma always said you can tell a lot about a person by their shoes, where the go, where they've been. I've worn lots of shoes, I bet if I think about it real hard I can remember my first pair of shoes" Forrest added, his head moving in accordance with the Doctor's ankle.

"I like the sound of your mother" the Doctor thought aloud, causing the man to beam widely.

"Oh you would have liked her mister..mister. Er-" Forrest stammered on realization that he didn't know the man's name.

"I'm the Doctor, sorry, should have said earlier…nice to meet you Forrest, was it?" the Doctor interrupted, offering a hand - the man in the white suit took it with a friendly expression, nodding.

"You don't mind me asking but how did she…you know…" the Doctor asked inquisitively.

"She got the cancer and died on a Tuesday" the man replied with a nod as though confirming the statement.

"I'm sorry" the Time Lord commented.

"Don't be. Mama always said, dying was a part of life" Forrest remembered.

"I know that more than you could believe my friend" the Doctor said, looking outwards at nothing.

"I sure wish it wasn't." Forrest stated, mimicking the Doctor's eye focus. The Doctor's softened as he focused his attentions on the man beside him. A quiet breeze tumbled passed, taking a piece of newspaper along the curb in front of the men "Now I don't know if we each have a destiny, or if we're all just floating around accidental-like on a breeze, but I, I think maybe it's both. Maybe both is happening at the same time" Forrest proceeded, watching the paper float away. The Doctor furrowed his brow momentarily, this man was a genius, an utter genius. Okay, perhaps not the most eloquent as his southern accent clung to his proverbial words, but then again geniuses come in all flavours - he only had to assess himself or think back to Malcolm to confirm that.

"Have you been runnin' in them fancy shoes?" Forrest questioned, eyes returning to the wondrous footwear.

"Ohh yes" the Doctor smirked.

"Now you wouldn't believe me if I told you, but I can run like the wind blows. From one day, if I was ever going somewhere, I was running!" Forrest said with great expression.

"Really?" the Doctor said, the flame of his inquisitive mood blazing.

"I had run for 3 years, 2 months, 14 days, and 16 hours. Then I stopped of course, wouldn't be catching the bus or talking with you if I were still runnin'" he grinned.

The Doctor chuckled "Been running all my life" his face dropping slightly "Me and my friends…always running" A silence passed as the Doctor fought the prickling sensation in his hazel eyes "3 years, 2 months, 14 days, and 16 hours did you say?!"

"Yup, one day, for no particular reason, I decided to go for a little run. So I ran to the end of the road. And when I got there, I thought maybe I'd run to the end of town. And when I got there, I thought maybe I'd just run across Greenbow County. And I figured, since I run this far, maybe I'd just run across the great state of Alabama. And that's what I did. I ran clear across Alabama. For no particular reason I just kept on going. I ran clear to the ocean. And when I got there, I figured, since I'd gone this far, I might as well turn around, just keep on going. When I got tired, I slept. When I got hungry, I ate. When I had to go, you know, I went" Forrest reminisced, fingers curling over the chocolate box.

"And so, you just ran?" the Doctor persisted.

"Yeah" Forrest nodded as the Doctor dipped his head to the left with thought.

"Can't fault it. You Forrest, are a man after my own hearts" he beamed.

"Last time I checked a man only had one heart" Forrest said with a little laugh.

"They do, maybe I'm not a man" the Doctor said, expecting some form of reaction. Forrest however just turned to look outward, as though deep in contemplation.

"You have to do the best with what God gave you" the man concluded.

"Quite right" the Doctor concurred, still smiling.

"You are a very peculiar person if you don't mind me saying" Forrest noted, drumming his fingers mindlessly on the cardboard.

"Thanks, different is good…quite peculiar yourself" he grinned, taking the compliment. But the façade the Doctor was holding did not fool Forrest.

"You look sad Doctor" he stated, having been looking at him for a few seconds.

"What makes you say that?" the Doctor stated.

"Well you don't look sad. Just like you're a thinkin'…and when you speak it's not what you say but just the way you say it, like there's a kinda sadness you are trying to hide"

The Doctor smile shrunk, letting out a breath. A bus pulled up in front of them and the doors flapped open with a hiss, he stared dubiously.

"This your bus?" Forrest asked.

"Nope" the Doctor concluded, eyeing the closing door up and down "Yours?"

"No. I'm waitin' for" he began before consoling a piece of paper from his left breast pocket "The 75"

"Why the 75?"

"Goin' to see Jenny" Forrest beamed. The Doctor couldn't help but feel a twinge of pain within him as the name echoed through his mind, along with her shining face.

"Is she your girlfriend?" the Doctor inquired, dismissing his thoughts.

"Oh shucks no, I wish she was. Me and Jenny goes together like peas and carrots" Forrest explained, blushing with a rosy tint in his full cheeks.

"I had someone like that…Rose. Her name was Rose" the Doctor said slowly, eyes dying as another wave of remorse hit him.

"That's a perty name" Forrest remarked, turning to look at the Doctor.

"Hmm. Well all over now. Gone" the Time Lord breathed, glaring at nothing but had a glimmer in his eyes as though the last moments he shared with his precious Rose were being played out in front of him.

"Mighty shame because I'm not a smart man but I know what love is…and you are a man who is in love" Forrest observed. The Doctor didn't move as a woman caught his eyes.

"Yeah. Suppose I am" he voiced slowly, watching a blonde wander across the street. She was hand in hand with a man, dark hair, suit - they seemed perfect for one another. She was giggling as she pulled back a strand of hair, infatuated with her arm entwined around his as they strolled. She seemed so familiar, her mannerisms and even posture reminded him of Rose. The perfect couple carried on walking around the corner and out of sight, prompting the Doctor to carry on speaking "So tell me a bit more about yourself"

"Sure…you know it's funny what a young man recollects? 'Cause I don't remember bein' born. I don't recall what I got for my first Christmas and I don't know when I went on my first outdoor picnic. But I do remember the first time I heard the sweetest voice in the wide world…" Forrest began.

Time passed, marked out only by the arrival and departing of buses, the sky was slowly turning a familiar amber that reminded Doctor of his home world, except there were so shining trees in the park opposite. In all his years the Doctor did not find someone with as much conversational stamina as himself. It had been a pleasant conversation, he'd learned a lot about the magnificent Forrest Gump - not that the man himself was boastful or arrogant in any way, quite the opposite, in the Doctor's eyes the most humble being he'd met. He had the license to the most self-proud man on Earth with all he had achieved but in his magnificence he simply shrugged his shoulders and smiled with that soft innocent smile.

"Were you scared in Vietnam?" the Doctor asked, beguiled by the tale of Forrest's life so far.

"Yes. Well, I-I don't know. Sometimes it would stop raining long enough for the stars to come out...and then it was nice. It was like just before the sun goes to bed down on the bayou. There was always a million sparkles on the water...like a mountain lake. It was so clear, Doctor, it looked like there were two skies one on top of the other. And then in the desert, when the sun comes up, I couldn't tell where heaven stopped and the earth began. It's so beautiful" Forrest said, almost in awe of the description himself.

"Sounds it. Reminds me of home" the Doctor commented with a sigh, staring deep into the burning orange sky that lingered above them.

"Tell me about yourself Doctor…I've been yabberin' away for near two hours now" Forrest light heartedly demanded. With that the Doctor opened his mouth and paused.

"Didn't you say you were waiting for the 75?" he remembered.

"Mhm" Forrest confirmed.

"Cos' there it goes" the Doctor pointed out at the disappearing bus. His friend remained seated, not moving "Aren't you gonna run after it?" he enticed, raising his eyebrows.

"Nah, another will come along soon" Forrest replied "What about your bus?"

"Never liked buses much" the Doctor doted, remembering the last bus trip he'd been on "might go for a run" the Doctor returned with a small smirk, rising from the wooden bench.

"Everybody has to stop running sometimes Doctor. My Mama always said you've got to put the past behind you before you can move on, maybe you gotta do that and walk for once" Forrest suggested plainly. The Time Lord stared in marvel.

"You. You are…brilliant, absolutely brilliant" he admired, pushing his hands deep into his coat pockets. Something still alluded the Doctor. In all the places in time that he'd gone where Forrest Gump had been, never had the Doctor laid eyes on the man before, and he never forgets a face "Do you ever dream, Forrest, about who you're gonna be?"

"Who I'm gonna be?" Forrest repeated.

"Yeah" the Doctor added.

"Aren't-aren't I going to be me?" Forrest asked in return, a slight concern lingering in his eyes.

"Of course. Be you, brilliant you" the Doctor smiled "Bye Forrest" with that the Doctor turned on his heel.

"Thank you…well it was a pleasure chatting with you sir" Forrest called after the Doctor who had begun to move away. He paused, facing the man on the bench.

"Forrest…I can give you a lift, if you want?" the Doctor offered. Forrest's smile brightened as he got up, following the Doctor quickly.

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"Forrest, let me introduce you to the Tardis" the Doctor announced tapping the blue box fondly.

"What is a 'the Tardis'?" Forrest enquired, eying the box up and down with mounting curiosity.

"Remember I said I wasn't a man?" the Doctor began.

"Yeah"

"Take a look inside" he concluded, pressing the door open and gesturing for the man to enter. Forrest did so, gingerly, eye widening as he stepped inside the spaceship.

His green orbs grew with awe as his footsteps rang through the dome-like room. He ran his hand along the rail, the dark metal cool and smooth to Forrest's grasp, he couldn't help but just stare, his staring was interrupted, however, by the Doctor's wake.

"This is…oh my goodness…I do not know what to say" Forrest gabbled quietly, looking to the Doctor.

"Nothing…Jenny, right what was her surname… ! Yes, now we are in business. Allons-y!" the Doctor reeled with excitement, causing Forest to grin wildly as his new friend ran around the room, like a madman but none the less magnificently.

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"Thank you Doctor for taking me in your spaceship. I won't ever forget talking with you on the bench" Forrest beamed, walking out of the Tardis.

"Neither will I. Good luck Forrest" the Doctor smiled softly, hanging onto the ship's doorframe.

"And you Doctor" the human added.

The Doctor would have then said something along the lines of 'oh Forrest, and watch this…you won't want to miss it' but something caught his eye. Actually several somethings captured the Time lord's full attention and the fact that none of the people wandering around seemed to be phased by their presence made it all the more unnerving to the Doctor.

"Forrest?" he gulped, a lump suddenly forming in his throat.

"Yeah" Forrest returned.

"Since when were there Zeppelins in the sky?" the Doctor said, almost at a whisper as though anything he did now would destroy everything in existence - walking on eggshells would be putting it mildly.

"Since as long as I can remember…you know they haven't been around for a week or so though…the President said that they was in the way of some parade going on" Forrest answered, his eyes drifting upwards before replying as though he'd been reminded to their place in the sky.

The Doctor felt the cogs in his mind turn slowly and then suddenly whirring at a thousand rotations a second, the cobwebs were blown away and the electricity was sparking behind his eyes.

"Thank you Forrest. I think I better go now…put the past behind me. Move on" the Doctor explained, looking around wearily. He shut the Tardis door and took a few staggered steps forward, his right hand hanging onto Forrest's shoulder as he surveyed the surroundings. His pupils dilated with adrenalin as he supported himself on Forrest for a lingering second. He inhaled at the thoughts whizzing through his head and then sprinted off down the road leaving Forrest to turn and watch the wind curl in his wake. A grin spread across his face as he removed the chocolates from under his arm and pressed his suit and shirt with his left hand, continuing on his life as the Doctor did with his.

The pair of converse ran around the corner, the owner looking in every Diner window and down every alley passed. He ran down Main-street, ran through the park, ran all the way across town and then out down a dirty long road that led to the Bayou. Only then did the Doctor finally find what he'd been looking for.

From where he was standing he was sure not to be seen, the willow trees camouflaging his presence under the cover of shadow from the two figures he'd been searching for. Her blonde hair was golden in the sinking sunlight as were her brilliant brown eyes. She was illuminating to the encroaching darkness - his Rose. She was smiling softly as the man before her, namely his other self stood beside.

The Doctor took a step closer, standing on a branch that caused his former companion to divert her attentions in his direction. He could have sworn that Rose stared right at him but his counterpart, who had guided her face softly to his - returned her eyes to their original focus with fingers on her jaw.

"What are we doing here Doctor?" she questioned - it was so soothing to hear her voice on the warm air and rustling in the thousands of leaves that whispered an echo into his ears.

"Well, I was thinking back the other day about the people I'd met and realized how lucky I was to have met you...then I thought about another person I met only for a few hours and talked to for hours on a bus bench"

The Doctor's face contorted, his stare turned stony. So many questions shot at light speed around his mind - how had he met Forrest? And more pressingly how was he, himself, here in the first place. This is the parallel world….it had to be. Zeppelins - check, Rose Tyler- check, Human me - check. It had to be.

"And he told me about one of the most beautiful sights on Earth…and we are going to see it right now, so I want you to look out to that setting sun, and watch this sun set" the human Doctor instructed.

They entwined fingers, the Doctor felt his breath hitch in his throat. It was as though he felt her hand in his, he looked down to see a willow vine softly comforting an empty hand. He buried his hands instantly into his overcoat.

"Its amazing Doctor" Rose smiled as the stars started to shine and the amber faded.

"Rose. Marry me" he heard himself say. The Doctor suppressed tender and raw tears, he felt his adam's apple quiver as his jaw clenched.

"What?" he heard through the pumping blood that deafened his ears slightly.

"I love you more than anything and anyone…and I should have asked you this a long time ago" his counterpart admitted, turning to Rose Tyler. It hurt more because it was true, not because it was happening in front of him. The Doctor stood silent.

"I love you too. Yes, you should have but that doesn't change my answer…I will marry you" Rose answered, playing with the back of his hair before she was captivated in an earth shattering kiss.

The observing Doctor couldn't help but smile, they were happy and she had moved on from him. What was more she would have said yes before. His heart was accepting it's self destruction, making the pain dissipate with each passing beat. Stoic and at peace with his guilt, regret the Doctor gained second breath with a fresh wind.

Time never traveled in straight lines - he'd told her that himself back when he was all big ears, blue eyes and leather clad 'Born in the 21st Century and die in the 19th'. With a reminiscent smirk the Doctor then pulled a brown palm sized object out of his pocket, a pen and a paper. Scribbling a note out in his eloquent and perfectly crafted handwriting he placed the object and his message on the path - the Doctor knew she'd see it immediately, she was too brilliant not to notice it. He wanted to see her if he was being honest with himself, he could not grant that guilty pleasure - it would cause too much pain for her, him and possibly destroy two universes in the grand scheme of things - but he could give her one last thing.

Rose and her fiancé parted for air, a familiar sound gracing their ears.

"Did you hear that?" she stated with confusion.

"It can't be" the human Time lord acknowledged.

The pair ran down the path, he continued a little further down the road but even in the encroaching starlight something caught Rose's eye. She had stopped dead in her tracks as her husband to be pulled out a sonic screwdriver, put on his specs and began scanning the nearby air. Rose giggled lightly and picked up the brown organic object that resembled a piece of ginger and coral all at once. Taped to it was a small note.

My Rose,

Here is a piece of Tardis, tell him that if you shatterfry the plasmic shell and modify the dimensional stabiliser to a foldback harmonic of 36.3, you accelerate growth by the power of 59 - it should be ready in about 4 months.

And remember this, although I could never say it, the words were behind everything I ever said to you - I need you and will always love you,

Your Doctor x

Rose darted her watering eyes upwards and saw a the silhouette of a man walking down the road, his large overcoat flapping in the warm air as a blue box materialized before him. The figure entered the box quietly, that warm amber light framing him with a halo of gold as the sound of her old universe enveloped the bayou. He hadn't looked back and Rose knew then that this was truly that journey's end. Her heart began to thud dotingly as she smiled, the Doctor watched the remaining shadow of his ship fade away before glancing to her with a quizzical look. She held the piece of Tardis up with a wide grin and saw the excitement take over his face. Slowly he walked over to her and she handed him the piece of their old life and the note. He read quietly and flickered his burning brown eyes upwards at Rose, the smile on his face growing further.

"It's true" the Doctor confirmed happily "Oh, I guess the other me met Forrest too"

"Who?" Rose said in bewilderment.

"Just a friend who clearly had…a lot of time to chat today" the Doctor grinned with a nod, taking Rose's hand in his. He confused her but that was okay - never like him to give a straight answer immediately. After all, the note that she was now placing into her jean pocket was a perfect example.

The Doctor placed the Tardis fragment into his trouser pocket and the couple began to walk down the dirt path, the crickets and whistling trees sounding in their wake.

"It's just the beginning, right?" Rose asked after a few minutes, as though confirming her conclusions from this bizarre and supposedly impossible event.

"Oh you have no idea" the Doctor replied, squeezing her hand with promise.