A/N: First of all, I am an American, so if I get British colloquialisms wrong, please don't kill me. I'm innocent, and I'm doing my best to pay attention to British colloquialisms in British television shows.
This is my first attempt at a Doctor Who fanfic, and it is a bit of an AU, since we know for a fact that, aside from the Master, the Doctor is the last timelord. In any case, I will be utilizing my liberties as a writer, since I don't know everything about Doctor Who and how things work exactly. So, please, if I've done something wrong, message me and inform me of my mistake so that I may fix it or provide some sort of explanation for it. Thank you!
Also, this fic will start out with the Ninth Doctor but may eventually progress into the Tenth Doctor. I only began with the Ninth because it seems easier to work with - and because I've started watching the series from the beginning and all I can think about is the Ninth Doctor. (The Tenth, however, will always be my favorite.)
"Ever been to America?"
Rose glanced up at the Doctor, eyebrows arched. "America? As in the United States?"
The Doctor grinned. "That's the one."
"No, I haven't." Rose cocked her head slightly. "Why?"
"D'you want to see it?"
Rose thought for a moment and shrugged. "Sure. Why not?"
"Brilliant." The Doctor clapped his hands together and began to dart around the heart of the TARDIS, pressing buttons and pulling levers. "America's different enough to be fun."
"Fun? I thought Americans were, um…" Rose wracked her mind. "You know…stupid."
The Doctor laughed and passed by the 19-year-old Brit. "Americans think Brits are stupid. Why don't you see for yourself?"
Pressing one final button, the Doctor gripped the TARDIS for dear life, his eyes trained on the internal mechanism as it glowed and pulsated, the machine coming to life to carry them across the universe and through time. The TARDIS jolted and rolled, shaking and shuddering with each bounce through spatial dimension. Rose clung to the Doctor for dear life, exhilarated by the ride but frightened that she would be flung across the room. The two companions laughed, timelord and human connected by the love for adventure and the prospect of new worlds and places.
The TARDIS came to a stop, stabilizing itself as it materialized somewhere on American soil. Rose relaxed her grip on the Doctor's leather jacket and stretched, shaking the thrill of the TARDIS's journey out of her system. The Doctor darted around to look at the screen. He laughed again, a silly grin stretching across his face from ear to ear. He glanced up at his companion, bright, sky blue eyes twinkling.
"And it's 2010," he exclaimed, clapping his hands together. "There's lots of new stuff going on. America has a black president!"
"Why's that so special?"
"They've never had a black president before!" The Doctor leapt across the TARDIS and grabbed Rose's hand, gripping it tightly, so caught up in his excitement he was. "And, it's two years before the end of the world!"
Rose stiffened. "You're joking! That doesn't happen until the year – "
"No, no, no. It's two years away from 2012," the Doctor explained, rolling his eyes. "Everybody thinks the world's gonna end. They even made a movie about it. It stars some chap named John Cusack." The Doctor pursed his lips and looked over Rose's head, his brow furrowing. "Cusack. Who has a name like Cusack?"
Rose chuckled and shook her head. "Does it really matter?"
"Guess not." The timelord's face lit up again. "Well, come on! What are we waiting for?"
"You to shut up."
The Doctor pouted. "You've never complained before."
"You've never blamed me for your blabbering."
"Blabbering? Since when do I blabber?"
"Oh, come on." Rose tugged the Doctor down the TARDIS ramp and towards the doors. "I want to see America."
"It's a nice place, aside from all the fat people."
The Doctor nodded, pretending to be grave. "It's all those McDonalds. Speaking of which, chips in America are called French fries."
"French fries?" Rose pushed open the TARDIS door. "They're not even French!"
"I never said Americans weren't weird."
Rose blinked and sneezed as bright light blinded her for a moment. When her eyes adjusted, she looked around. The TARDIS sat between two buildings. Rose turned slowly on her heel, her head tilting to the side as she peered through the two buildings.
"Is this a school?"
The Doctor glanced around. "Yep."
"What kind of school?" Rose walked towards the end of the buildings and peered around the corner. A group of boys looked up, startled, cigarettes and marijuana joints hanging from their lips and fingers.
The Doctor popped his head around the corner, too, and cried, "Hullo!"
The boys scattered, cigarettes and joints ditched and forgotten on the asphalt. Rose inched forward, staring at the joints.
"Are those what I think they are?" she asked, pointing.
"I dunno." The Doctor shrugged and stood beside Rose, his eyes following her finger. "I can't tell what you're thinking, now can I?"
Rose smacked the Doctor's shoulder. "Are those drugs?"
The Doctor's eyebrows arched. "You act like you've never used drugs before." He stooped, picked up one of the joints, and sniffed. "I believe Americans call it 'weed' or 'pot'."
Rose shook her head and knocked the joint out of the Doctor's hand. "They sure have weird names for everything, don't they?"
In a voice very much like Rose's, the Doctor quipped, "Does it really matter?" His silly grin stretched wide across his face again. "Yes, I suppose they do. Now, come on! Let's go see the children!"
Rose clung to the Doctor's hand as he dragged her along. "What's so important about the children?"
"They're the weirdest." The Doctor paused at the end of the row of buildings. "I think this is a high school."
Rose blinked. "What do you mean 'high school'?"
"That's what they call a school when the kids are between fourteen and eighteen, I think." Scratching his head, the Doctor tugged Rose to the left down a long open corridor.
Rose followed along, her eyes darting around to take in the low-lying buildings. "Eighteen? They have to be in school until eighteen?"
"Yep. It's the law."
A boy wearing a white shirt with the number 14 on the back in big, black letters passed the duo by, a backpack hanging off one shoulder. The Doctor let go of Rose's hand and tapped the boy's shoulder. Brown eyes glared at the Doctor, the Mexican face furrowing into an expression of irritation and confusion.
"What the fuck do you want?" he snapped, stepping away from the Doctor, the heavy Mexican accent chopping his words.
Rose winced. "How old are you?"
"Thirteen. Got a problem with that?"
"You're not friendly much, are you?"
The Doctor tapped the boy on the shoulder again, drawing the teenager's attention away from Rose. "What school is this?"
"Sur Vista High School," the boy answered, still glaring.
"And, um," the Doctor continued, glancing around, "where exactly is Sur Vista High School?"
The boy's brow furrowed in confusion. "What the fuck are you smoking?"
The Doctor blinked. "I don't smoke."
"Could've fooled me." The boy shook his head and started to wander off.
"You never answered my question!" the Doctor called after him, still standing in the sunlight, Rose flanking his left side.
The boy lifted his middle finger and lifted it over his head so the Doctor and Rose could see. The duo squinted, particularly the Doctor, and turned to each other, their faces contorting into expressions of confusion. Rose peered up at the Doctor quizzically.
"What does that mean?"
"It means 'fuck off'."
The Doctor and Rose pivoted around to face the speaker. An adult man, dressed in slacks, an Oxford shirt, and a loose tie, approached them, a thick stack of papers in hand. He smiled at the duo and extended his free hand to the both of them, his brown eyes intrigued but revealing nothing beyond that. The Doctor shook the man's hand fiercely and grinned broadly. Rose, still perplexed, gave the man a weak grasp and let her hand fall down to her side, her eyes still following the boy as he hurried further and further away across the moderately-sized campus.
"I'm Mr. Anderson," the man said. "I'm a teacher here."
"A teacher!" The Doctor clapped and rubbed his hands together. "I'm the Doctor, and this is Rose."
"Hi," Rose mumbled, forcing herself to face the man.
"Nice to meet you." Mr. Anderson shifted the stack of papers from one arm to the other. "You two are from England. First time in the States?"
The Doctor opened his mouth, but Rose cut him off and replied, "Yeah. This is our first time."
"Where are we?" the Doctor finally managed to ask.
"California," the teacher replied. "I can't believe you guys stopped here, though. Sur Vista's not exactly a tourist hot spot."
"We just sort of ended up here," Rose muttered, running a hand through her blonde hair. "California? As in all the beaches and stuff?"
"You're too far inland to see beaches around here." Mr. Anderson frowned. "You'll have to go down to Long Beach. It's kind of a long drive."
The Doctor grabbed Rose's hand and smiled at the high school teacher. "We'll be seeing you."
"Yeah, I bet." Mr. Anderson's frown deepened. "What did you say your name was?"
"What's your last name?"
The Doctor beamed and shrugged. "Don't have one. Just the Doctor."
Mr. Anderson nodded slowly and watched the companions head back towards the other buildings. He shook his head and muttered to himself, "Crazy Brits."
"Don't you get tired of having to say that?" Rose asked, letting her hand run against the poorly painted wood of the nearest building.
"That your name is the Doctor. Everybody always asks for your last name, or they say, 'Doctor who?'" Rose rubbed the back of her neck, her eyes wandering over the Doctor's shoulder and fixing on the seemingly empty buildings across the way. "Don't you ever get tired of that?"
The Doctor shrugged. "After nine-hundred years, it grows on you."
As they approached the two buildings where the TARDIS waited for them, Rose glanced at the spot where the group of boys had been. She faltered and chuckled in disbelief.
"The fags are gone," she pointed out.
"They were probably expensive." The Doctor tugged on Rose's hand and pulled her around the corner.
The Doctor halted in his tracks. A girl, no older than sixteen, stood by the TARDIS. Her brown hair fell in a braid down her back, thick and long, stretching almost all the way down to her hips. She eyed the TARDIS with awe and reverence, her hands reaching out to touch the blue box. Long, sensual fingers, pressed against the wood and trailed down the grain slowly. The Doctor stiffened beside Rose, his hand tightening around hers. She winced and pulled her hand away.
"That hurt!" she hissed, clenching and unclenching her hand; she glanced up at the Doctor. "What's wrong?" Following the Doctor's unblinking stare, she saw the girl and tensed as well. "Oh no."
The girl touched the keyhole of the TARDIS. A warm sensation spread from the Doctor's pocket and up along his chest, settling deep within him. A single tear rolled down the girl's cheek and dripped to the asphalt. Rose's eyes darted between the girl and the Doctor, her brow furrowing as she noticed the look of disbelief in the Doctor's blue eyes. He shook his head and whispered to himself, "It's not possible. It can't be possible."
The girl, another tear sliding down her cheek, pressed her forehead against the TARDIS, her eyes fluttering close. Her words drifted into the Doctor and Rose's hearing, despite the considerable distance between them.
"Unbelievable," she said. "This can't be happening."
The warm sensation in the Doctor's pocket intensified in a burn. The Doctor winced, his hand digging around in his pocket for the source of heat. Pulling it out of his pocket, the Doctor stared at the TARDIS key. Rose tore her gaze away from the girl and fixed her eyes on the key, her frown – and confusion – deepening. The key glowed in the Doctor's hand, growing hotter and hotter by the second. Rose glanced back at the girl and tugged the Doctor's arm.
"Doctor," she whispered. "Look!"
The Doctor tore his eyes away from the glowing TARDIS key and stared at the girl. The girl's hands began to glow, a golden light enveloping her fingers. The glow spread up her arms and to her face, her hair shimmering as the light rose up around her and dissipated into the air. She staggered away from the TARDIS, the glow growing brighter.
"What's happening?" Rose asked, gripping the Doctor's arm tightly. "What's wrong with her?"
The girl's head jerked back, the golden light shooting out of her head and hands, the very air around her rippling. Rose jumped back, her hands falling away from the Doctor's bicep. Horrified, she watched as the girl grew taller, her long, swinging braid shrinking and unraveling. The girl's features changed, ageing about fifteen more years.
The girl shuddered and doubled over, the light disappearing in an instant – only she wasn't a girl anymore. She straightened, breathing heavily as she examined her hands. Dark red hair – so deep it was almost brown – fell down to her shoulders in waves. Her height, almost a foot taller now, matched up nearly with the Doctor's.
The TARDIS key's glow dimmed. The Doctor let it fall back into his pocket, his hands shaking. He shook his head and took a few steps forward, his legs weak beneath him.
"The Reader?" he asked, his voice wavering.
Slowly, the woman turned around, hazel eyes falling on the Doctor's. Rose heard the woman inhale sharply.
"The Doctor?" she asked.
"I'm not? You're not!"
They stood a foot or so apart, tears springing up in both of their eyes. The Doctor reached out and touched the woman's face, his hands still shaking. The woman nodded her head, the Doctor's disbelief reflected in her own eyes. The Doctor swept her up in his arms, squeezing her against him tightly. She hugged him back just as fiercely, her fingers clinging to the back of his jacket as he picked her up off the ground.
"You're alive!" the Doctor cried. "You're alive!"
Rose wandered over to the two warily. The Doctor set the woman down and held her shoulders at arms length, taking in all her features, the tears still streaming down his face – happy tears, deeply happy, joyous tears. Noticing Rose, he turned sharply and threw his arms up in the air. He swept her up in a tight hug, swinging her around as he jumped up and down in ecstasy.
"Rose!" he cried, setting her down. "She's alive! I'm not the last! I'm not the last!"
Rose frowned. "Who is she?"
The woman smiled through her tears and stretched out her hand. "I'm the Reader."
The woman nodded, but the Doctor spoke up before she did. Gripping Rose's hand tightly, he nodded his head furiously, his other hand reaching for the Reader's.
"She's a timelord!"