Disclaimer: I own nothing. If I did, David Tennant wouldn't be leaving Doctor Who, they wouldn't have made The Golden Compass into such a horrible movie, and they would be planning to make The Subtle Knife into a movie along with The Amber Spyglass. But since I will probably never gain the rights, I can't do anything but wish.
Author's note: This takes place in the Doctor Who timeline, in between Rose and Martha, about after 'Runaway Bride' and before 'Smith and Jones.' And in the His Dark Materials timeline, it takes place when Will is 17 to 18. Oh, and by the way, you of course know that people in Will's universe can't see or hear daemons, and this goes for the Doctor as well. Just to make that clear…
Will Parry and his daemon stepped onto the bus, placing the setting sun behind their backs. The trip from London to Oxford would only take a little over an hour, but that's not counting the fickle traffic. Will handed his ticket to the bus driver and headed to the back for a seat. Although the bus was sparsely populated, Will still wanted to sit as far away from other people as possible, which now only included a couple of tired business travelers, a lone 15 year old, and a mom with a sleeping child in her arms.
Will sighed as he sat down in a seat in the far back of the bus, having already placed his bag in the overhead unit. He was tired of course, Kirjava was too. But he knew he couldn't sleep, nerves would only keep him up. So he didn't even bother with trying to rest. Will looked out the window as his daemon laid down on his lap. The bus station was fairly empty as well, save a few parked buses, retiring for the night, and some worn looking bus drivers and attendants. The sky took on a purple-red hue as the last of the sun's fiery fingers dropped below the horizon. In ten minutes time, the stars would be popping out of the black velvet, most of them being over powered by the lights of human activity.
It was hard to believe that Midsummer's Day was tomorrow. In 24 hours he would be on this bus again, heading back to Mary in London. They had moved there partly because Mary had been offered a job in a dark matter experiment in London, but Will had a feeling that some of it was because Elaine Parry had died only a few months before they'd moved. Mary just wanted to get him away from Oxford, which held so many memories, good and bad. Yet despite this, Will still felt more comfortable in Oxford than London, which was as strange to him as a different world.
In London, all they talked about were aliens or 'mass hallucinations' or whatever they wanted to call the latest Christmas nightmare. Will couldn't care less about them. Since he's been there, only what was dubbed the 'Christmas Star' had created mass panic, and he didn't notice it for he was long a sleep by the time it had happened. It wasn't until the morning news did Will find out what'd occurred, and even then he didn't bother to waste his thoughts on it. Then there was the 'ghosts' which had appeared everywhere on the planet and the metal men that followed. In Oxford they had just dismissed the whole thing and went on like nothing happened. But in London, there were still theorist on TV talking about it and what it really meant or other related crap. London was definitely different, and Will couldn't wait to get back to Oxford, even if it was just for 24 hours.
The bus's engine started up as it took in its last passenger. Will stared absentmindedly out the window, hand petting Kirjava, as a man took the seat across the aisle from him.
"'ello. I'm the Doctor," greeted the man.
Shaking himself out of his thoughts about the past, Will turned to look at the man who had just introduced himself as the Doctor. The man was wearing a brown pinstripe suit with a trench coat and a pair of converse. There was a cheery smile painted on his face as he looked at Will. Kirjava perked her ears up as her human replied.
"Hello…," hesitantly said Will. Who was this weirdo? he thought.
"And you are?" questioned the man.
Kirjava was sitting up now. Will could feel her interest increasing as the conversation progressed.
"Nice to meet you, Will Parry," replied the Doctor holding out his hand for Will to shake, which he tentatively takes. "So where are you heading off too?"
"Uh…Oxford, of course." This is the bus from London to Oxford; where else would I be going? thought Will.
"Ah, Oxford. Nice town, nice college town. May I ask why you're going?"
"…uh…to meet a friend…"
For some reason Will didn't feel like lying to this man, who ever this bizarro was. It might have been because he was too tired to come up with some lie, or it might have been that there was some type of atmosphere that this Doctor gave off, that made Will not want to lie to him. Despite this fact though, Will still couldn't help himself from stretching the truth by stepping around the facts and wishing that the man would just go away.
"May I ask who?" the Doctor pressed on.
"…uh…long story…," replied Will, getting really tired of the eccentricity of the man.
"Okay, this guy's starting to really creep me out," whispered Kirjava.
Will silently agreed as he turned back to the window, hoping that would be a sign to the man to bug off. It worked, for there was silence on his end as the bus started zooming out of London. Streetlights and headlights were flicked on, creating millions of bright stars that illuminate the whole city. Will and Kirjava were just about to get comfortable for the long ride, when words suddenly blurted out of Will's mouth.
"Why all the questions?"
"Where did that come from?" quietly questioned Kirjava, wondering like her human, why Will suddenly spoke when they didn't even want to talk.
"What? I can't try to strike up a friendly conversation?" retorted the Doctor.
"No…but it's just…it's a little weird."
Why was he talking to this weirdo? It was like his conscious mind was powerless while his subconscious mind took over his mouth. He normally never talked unless spoken to; he was not the type to suddenly start speaking to someone, much less to a bizarre stranger. Yet there something about this stranger that made Will talk to him…something in his voice and eyes.
"Well, I can assure you that I'm not a stalker or anything of that sort. I just like talking to people. Finding out their stories. Everyone's got something interesting to tell. Plus, I like the human interaction…," replied the Doctor.
The man's words suddenly reminded Will of the harpies in the land of the dead, and how they craved and feed on stories. His thoughts then wondered on to Lyra and how she had told the harpies her story…
"Will, don't…" whispered Kirjava, digging her claws into her human. The memories he was thinking of were still too painful.
Will nodded and pushed back his thoughts and continued on with the conversation, turning his head back to the Doctor. "Okay…fine. Tell me why you're going to Oxford then."
"Ah…Well…no reason really in particular. I just travel and go along with anything happens," responded the Doctor a false cheery note to his voice.
"And how long have you been doing this?" questioned Will.
"Well…quiet awhile actually," stated the Doctor, pulling on his ear and settling back into his seat.
"Must be nice…to get away from it all," commented Will leaning back in his seat as well and looking back out of the window as the bus reached the suburbs of London.
He was suddenly thinking of Mary and her sometimes suffocating concern and love, of school where he never seemed to fit in and therefore was bullied, and of the sometime deep bouts of depression as his mind stayed in the past. There were moments that he just wanted to fly away from it all.
"Oh yah…it's nice…it's fantastic…but at times you still long for home," said the Doctor the seat in front of him creaking as his pushed his feet against it. There was a dark note in the man's voice, that Will couldn't help but noticing.
"Do you? Go home I mean," Will quietly asked as the bus bumped along.
"Wish I could…," darkly whispered the Doctor. "But traveling all the time ain't that bad," continued he on a lighter note.
"Where do you travel?" questioned Will, actually becoming interested in this Doctor. There was something about him that Will wanted to know more of.
"Anywhere. Everywhere," replied the Doctor, looking off in the distance.
"What are you rich or something?"
"Not particularly. But I do have my own transport. Okay now," began the Doctor, sitting up and turning towards Will. "Enough about me, tell me something about you…have you been in London for long?"
"No…we just moved there last year," replied Will, a little disappointed and uncomfortable that the subject was now turning towards him.
"A family friend and I," answered Will, still stepping around the truth.
"Ah…you like it in London?" asked the Doctor.
"It's alright. Kind of weird…"
"What do you mean by that?"
"Just that it's different than Oxford that's all."
"So you used to live in Oxford, eh?"
"Grew up there actually. Had a lot of interesting…adventures."
Kirjava stirred on Will's lap, uneasy. This kind of stuff was not something they usually talked about to other people and it was making them both feel on edge. He had no idea why he was saying this to the Doctor. Will was not exactly telling the full truth, but it still was more than he'd told anyone so far. This caused Will to turn back to the window again and watch the bus finally leave London.
"What kind of adventures?" questioned the Doctor, a note of interest in his voice.
"Stuff that you wouldn't believe," muttered Will, a dark edge to his voice.
"Try me. I've seen some pretty unbelievable things," the Doctor stated seriously.
"Will…don't say anything that we'd regret," warned Kirjava, looking up at her human with worried eyes.
Will nodded slightly, fingering his daemon's tail in a way that seemed like a nervous twitch instead of petting something people can't see. Traffic was moving unusually slow for this time of night. There must have been an accident further up, thought Will. He didn't really want to talk or think about anything related to his uncommon past. He just wanted to sit and stare out at the traffic. But both the man and Kirjava were staring at him, waiting for him to take his next move and his subconscious mind acted.
"Well…its stuff…about…different universes," quietly blurted out Will.
Will's eyes grew wide and Kirjava gasped. Did I just say that? thought Will. He couldn't believe what he just uttered, to this wacky stranger no less. Oh-no…He's going to think I'm a totally mad-hatter, thought Will. His heart started to pound as he waited for the Doctor to state his reaction. It didn't take long, though. The man's reaction was almost immediate.
"Different universes?" repeated the Doctor, surprised and a feeling of urgency in his voice. "W-what did you mean by different universe?"
"Uh…uh…," stuttered Will, not sure what to say. Will looked down at his daemon for help.
"Deny it Will. Deny you said anything of that nature," instantly stated Kirjava.
"Uh…n-nothing. It was nothing...," muttered Will following his daemon's advice and a refusing to look at the Doctor.
"No, no. Tell me. Please, Will. I need to know," said the man. His voice was serious and Will could feel the man's eyes bore into his back.
Stupid, stupid, stupid…, thought Will. Why did I have to say that? And what am I going to do now? He had a feeling that the Doctor would keep on insisting until Will said something, and for some reason that made him angry. What right does that man have to try to dig into my personal past? thought Will.
"Why? Why do you need to know?" asked Will, rounding on the Doctor.
"I need to know if there's rips in the fabric of the universe, because they shouldn't be there and I need to close them as soon as possible. So please tell me what you meant," answered the Doctor.
There was a grim urgency in his eyes and voice that made the man's body rigid and tense. You could tell how important this was to him. Yet, Will still played the role of the cocky and cross teenager.
"You don't have to worry about 'rips' or whatever you want to call them. They're all closed," exclaimed Will, not thinking about the consequences of his words as he irritably turning back to the window. "We made sure of that…," Will whispered to himself darkly.
"Are you certain?" the Doctor pressed on.
"I'm sure!" snapped Will. "Now will you just leave me alone?"
His chest was heaving, his heart was pounding angrily in his ears, and his fists were clenched so tight that his knuckle had turn as pale as paper. This entire subject was making him agitated and playing havoc on his nerves. He just wanted this whole thing to stop.
"Will…calm down…it's not right for you to be so worked up," caringly advised Kirjava.
Will nodded and closed his eyes, taking a deep breath. He allowed his muscles to relax as the bus slowly but surely rumbled onwards. He didn't know why he was letting this stranger get him so worked up over something that he should've gotten over years ago. Wait a minute…Why was this Doctor even asking about different universe and 'rips' in universes anyway? Not everyone asks about that kind of stuff. And now that Will had thought of it, the man didn't even treat Will like he was crazy like he would've thought the man would've done. Who was this guy?
"Why do you want to know about it anyway?" questioned Will, still facing the window.
"I told you. So I can close them," simply replied the Doctor.
"No, why? Why did you ask? Why you? Who are you?" asked Will, facing the Doctor.
"I told you…I'm the Doctor," answered the man wearing a poker face.
"Don't give me that shit. I mean really who are you? What sort of person asks about 'rips' in the universe and whether or not they're closed?" quizzed Will, leaning forward slightly causing Kirjava to leap from his lap to his side.
"I'm…," the Doctor began softly, some type of hidden emotion in his eyes. He then shook his head as if to get rid of whatever he was thinking and continued. "It doesn't matter. What sort of person had adventures in other universes?"
"Wait…I didn't say that!" exclaimed Will, his anger slightly flaring up again.
"True, you said it was about different universes. But judging you reaction, I think what I said is true…isn't it?" concluded the Doctor, saying the last two words softly as his eyes dug into Will.
Will was almost speechless as his anger rose once more. Who did this man think he was? thought Will. Assuming things and judging me like…like…
"Will…," warned Kirjava in a deep growl.
Will glared at the Doctor and muttered, "I have half a mind to sock you right now." He then turned towards the window yet again, fists clenched.
"Trust me, you wouldn't be the first," the Doctor whispered mysteriously.
A minute or two of silence followed the Doctor's words. A silence that was only filled by the snores of the handful of other passengers and the bus's engine as it grumbled onwards. Outside the window, miles and miles of tail lights lit up the darkness, completely overpowering the stars. In fact the only thing Will could see in the sky was a crescent moon, sitting there like a glowing half eaten cookie. Watching the slow moving traffic and the slim moon caused Will's anger to gradually subside and for him to loosen his knotted hands.
"What happened?" suddenly and quietly questioned the Doctor.
"What? What do you mean?" replied Will, refusing to look at the man.
"What happened in that different universe or universes?"
The Doctor's words weren't prying or pressing. They were more calm and curious than anything else. There was more in his voice too, something bleak and mysterious, something buried too deep for Will to decipher fully.
"Doesn't matter," began Will. He was not angry anymore, instead bitter for even having to think or talk about it at all. Despite this change, he still didn't want to tell this stranger anymore of his past. "It's history. And plus I don't really want to talk about it, much less to you."
"Oh..harsh… Fine…You don't have to tell me…," said the Doctor, his seat creaking as he leaned back. "I' won't force you."
"Good…" muttered Will.
"'Course, I just want to know that you're not the only one. I've traveled to a different universe…"
Now that caught Will's attention. He and his daemon sat up, ears alert.
"Did he just say he's been to a different universe?" questioned Kirjava, doubling checking.
Will wasn't sure. The Doctor was talking softly; maybe he had heard him wrong. He couldn't have traveled to a different universe, could he? What were the odds?
"You did?" asked Will, quietly, cautiously.
"Doesn't matter. It's history. And plus I don't really want to talk about it, much less to you," jokingly mocked the Doctor, with a hint of seriousness to his voice.
"Ha, ha, ha. Very funny. You gonna to tell me about it?" said Will, turning back to the Doctor again, who was looking at him with his goofy, painted smile and his arms behind his head.
"W-what do you mean?" questioned Will, not sure if he heard the Doctor right again.
"You tell me your story, and I'll tell you mine," answered the Doctor clearly.
"I-I…" Will didn't know what to do. This complete stranger just asked him again to tell him the story that changed his whole life. No one had bothered to be this curious before. Well, there's a first time for everything, Will thought bitterly. Yet, despite that, there was some part of him willing to tell the Doctor his story, to get it off his chest and just pour his heart into a stranger that he probably will never see again.
"We don't know this guy, Will…just remember that. Why would you want to tell our story to a wacky stranger? How do you know we can trust him?" spoke Kirjava, unease coming off her like heat off a lamp.
In response, Will only lightly petted her paw to calm his worried daemon. An odd calm had suddenly taken over him, and replaced his bitterness and anger. To tell the truth, he didn't know if he should tell the Doctor or not. He didn't have any true reason to, or not to. He could live without telling the Doctor, and hearing the man's story. He could live having this strange stranger know his story too, knowing that the man would only think him nuts and leave him for the rest of his life. Of course the story would be painful to tell, it was painful to even think about it, but then again there was that curious and helpless bit of him that wanted to talk, that was empowered by the Doctor to let him know all. And there was that strange power of the man's again: the power to get people talking without saying much at all.
"It's uh…a long…story," muttered Will, not exactly sure what he was doing.
"That's okay," began the Doctor, putting his feet up. "Judging by that traffic out there, this trip will surely turn out to be a long one."
"Will, w-what are you doing?" questioned Kirjava desperately.
He didn't know. What was he doing? Once again his mouth had seemed taken control. But what was odd was that he was numb to the whole thing. Almost not caring what he said. What was wrong with him?
"Uh…It-it all really started with me taking my mum to…"
Will Parry then proceeded to tell the Doctor his story, numb to the whole thing, words just flowing out like a dam had broken somewhere in his mind. And all the while, Kirjava just sat by him staring at her human with confusion and anxiety, not saying a thing.
When Will got to the part about him finding the window into Cittágazze, the Doctor sat up, obviously interested. He leaned forward, his eyes saturated with curiosity and fascination. Will continued. And then when he got to when he first met Lyra, Will found that he voice was starting to crack, and he had to stop and regain his composure in order to resume the story. As Will carried on, the Doctor commented from time to time, saying either "interesting," "brilliant," or "fascinating." When Will mentioned the angels on the other hand, the man said more than just a word or two.
"No…can't be…I thought…no…they're extinct…aren't they? ...At least I thought they were…," muttered the Doctor, more to himself than to Will as Will waited for the stranger to stop babbling, not bothering to question the man's odd word because of the emotions swimming in his head. "Oh, sorry…go on," the Doctor said after awhile.
Will didn't tell the man exactly everything, though he did say the better part of all the details. If Will had told the whole thing, it would've taken them ages to get through it all. No, it was best to shorten it, leave out some scenes. Plus, there were some things he didn't want to tell even the Doctor. In fact, when Will got near the end, he shorted the whole parting to one sentence:
"So, she had to go back to her universe and me to mine. And that's the end."
After the words finally left his mouth, Will felt his eyes sting with oncoming tears. He looked away, not wanting to have the stranger see him cry. Sucking up the tears and ignoring his daemon's worried gaze, Will turned back to the Doctor who seemed to be looking at him with a new light.
"Wow. That's brilliant. I mean really brilliant. And you did this all when you where what? 12? 13? Wow…," softly spoke the Doctor in obvious amazement.
"Yah, enough of that…," muttered Will darkly, not wanting random fanfare when the loss of Lyra was so fresh in his mind. "Are you going to tell me your story now?" continued Will, wanting to change the subject.
"Yah…sure…Wow, I still can't believe you did that…Humans' are so magnificent that I swear nothing compares to them," stated the Doctor leaning back again.
"Uh…your story…" said Will. I swear if this guy doesn't complete his part of deal, I'll…, he thought.
"Oh…you don't want to hear my silly little story…Its boring compared to yours," replied the man, sounding like he was trying to back out of their arrangement. "Plus, it's a long story too, and I don't think we'll have enough time."
"I don't care. I want to hear, and we can go to a café once in Oxford if you don't finish by then. I have time to spare. I don't have to be anywhere until the morning," said Will, almost threateningly.
He was going to hear the Doctor's story if it was the last thing he did. He told his story. He went through the emotional rollercoaster of his past again for this guy, for this stranger and he was not leaving without hearing the Doctor's end of the deal.
"Well…I…uh…do have somewhere to be once in Oxford…so I can't really finish it in a café or anything…," lied the Doctor.
"Then you better get started if you have somewhere to be."
"I told you mine. Your turn, bozo."
"I…uh…uh…f-fine…," quietly agreed the Doctor, looking away. "Do you remember the ghosts…no wait…I should start from the beginning…"
The man started off by telling Will of his 'transport', a blue box that could travel through time a space, and then went to tell him about a shop girl named Rose. It all seemed to so impossible, so unbelievable, that if it wasn't for the serious tone of the Doctor's voice, Will would have to ask if the man had just escaped from the Looney bin. The story went on the Doctor and Rose accidently landing in a different universe and what happened there.
All the while the Doctor refused to look at Will. His eyes were always diverted away from Will's face, and his expression stated that this man's mind was not completely there. His body was tense and his voice had lost all of the false cheer from before. There were little moments in the story where he smiled slightly at the memory, but it was a sorrowful smile, definitely not one of joy. There was something in that smile, something in his eyes, something in his voice, that reminded Will of something else…something he couldn't quite grasp.
"He reminds me of you…," Kirjava had muttered, at one point, when the story was reaching the end and the Doctor was talking about the ghosts.
That was when it hit Will. That was the something that he was reminded of. This man, this completely strange stranger, this Doctor, reminded him of himself. The sorrowful smile, the dark tone to his voice, the faraway look in his eye, it was all very similar if not exactly like Will's smile, voice, and look in his eye.
"And her father saved her with the dimension hopper, the realignment of her molecules making it so that she could live in another universe, and she was gone," ended the Doctor on a dark note. He then leaned back, rubbing his eyes like he was waking up from a deep sleep.
Will sat there, amazed at this man's story, about not only the unbelievable aspects of the whole thing, but the similarities between the Doctor's story and his own. They had both lost someone they deeply cared about to a different universe. How similar can you get?
"Wow…I thought my story seemed impossible…," spoke Will.
Those were the only words he could get out of his mouth, which was odd because only a few moments ago he couldn't stop his flow of words. The Doctor took his hands off his face and smiled his sad smile, laughing slightly at Will's comment.
"Yah…It does seem a bit impossible. Yet again, so does yours. Just goes to show you, nothing's impossible…just highly improbable," replied the Doctor.
That was when the bus stopped. With the rumble of the engine, the waking of the snoring passengers, and the harmonies of the traffic outside gone, the bus was left in an eerie silence.
"Looks like we reached Oxford," murmured the Doctor.
Will nodded in agreement, not sure what to say or do next. As the other passengers of the bus started to file out, the Doctor stood up.
"I really should get going…," whispered the Doctor more to himself than to Will.
"Wait," Will said, standing up. "Do you want to…I don't know…get a coffee or something?"
For some reason he didn't want the Doctor to leave. He wanted this man to stay with him. He wanted to continue talking to him. In truth all he wanted was someone to connect to. And Will was not going to let him walk away.
"I really shouldn't…it's been nice talking to you though. But I probably should be going…," answered the Doctor looking back at Will.
For a moment they just stared at each other, a connection in their eyes. Then they turned away at the same time, as if in some unsaid agreement. Will nodded, and the Doctor walked down the aisle.
"Wait," Will blurted out again as the Doctor reached the front of the bus. "Will I ever see you again?"
"Probably not," answered the Doctor, his corky smile back on. "See yah, Will." And with that he stepped off the bus and out of Will's life.
Author's note: This fanfic has really been in my mind for quite awhile. Well, really ever since I've finished reading His Dark Materials, which was in 2008. I only really started writing this because David Tennant left. I wanted to write a crossover between my two obsessions before the Tenth Doctor was replaced by Matt Smith's Eleventh Doctor. So this really is my tribute to the Tenth Doctor. And that is all I have to say about the subject. I hope you enjoyed the story, and please review. This is written as a oneshot…but if people start saying that I should continue it, I might…You just have to review…