This Tangled TARDIS
Hello! Spoilers for all things Who, and featuring characters/themes from the Eighth Doctor Adventures. HOWEVER you do not need to have read the EDAs for this fic, and in fact I've done my best to minimize any serious spoilers. So please read on even if you've only ever seen the new series.
Oh, and reviews make me write faster, so pretty please comment?
I don't own the Doctor, though I often wish I did…
Chapter 1: That Was Tense
"I've always liked red suns," the Doctor said a little too casually, trying to act normal as River held his hand.
"No you don't," River Song replied, not quite succeeding in keeping a wry grin off her face. "They remind you of blood. And vampires. You're just trying to act casual because we've been holding hands for 15 minutes straight and you're still young enough to be easily flustered at my touch."
"I… What… You don't know what you're talking about!" the Doctor stammered, absolutely flustered and at a complete loss as to how to extricate his hand without feeling like a complete idiot.
A picnic. On Asgard. Surrounded by iridescent butterflies and moss-covered ruins, under a yellow sky filled with three blue moons. What had he been thinking? What had he been expecting?
"Don't worry, sweetie. Feel free to let go of my hand anytime you like. Or to hold on to any other part of me that might take your fancy instead."
The Doctor almost dropped the picnic basket.
Why did River always manage to make him feel like a flustered little boy in this incarnation? It was enough to drive him mad. She always liked to stand a little too close, with her wolfish smiles and winks and promises of so much adventure ahead of them.
Especially this River, so confident in what exactly they meant to each other, reminding him of the first time they'd met. A lifetime ago. This was an older River than he'd seen since he'd regenerated, and it suddenly struck him that she probably didn't have much time left. He felt his hearts race at the thought, a sudden panic coursing through him that he couldn't quite keep from being obvious. Not that River couldn't read him like a book in any case.
River stopped, stepping in front of him. Locking eyes with him. He gripped the handle of the picnic basket very tightly.
"All right. What's wrong?"
"I just realized… I've never kissed you," he lied, hoping she believed him. Pushing his thoughts elsewhere, he crammed a plethora of emotions into a tight little corner of his mind. It was a trick he'd mastered quite well in his seventh incarnation, though several lifetimes had passed before he'd picked up the knack again. He was grateful he had, though he had a feeling it wouldn't work on River.
The Doctor was certain she didn't believe him. He gave her a weak smile and brushed his floppy hair from his face.
"I'm not certain I believe you," she said.
"I mean, yeah, I'm sure in my future we've kissed just loads of times, right?" he said, surprised to find himself suddenly hopeful. "I just haven't done it yet."
"Oh, I believe that part," she said, suddenly leaning close.
A completely different kind of panic set in.
"Oh look, there's the TARDIS!" he said, tilting his head to look behind her.
"What a clever distraction, Doctor," she replied, wrapping he arms around his neck and pressing against him. "How will I ever resist it?"
The Doctor gulped. He dropped the picnic basket.
River kissed him. She tasted like honey. It felt like a switch within him had been suddenly turned on. He felt himself overwhelmed by a dangerous sort of lust he hadn't felt in such a long time, and then they were tangled in each other, tumbling to the soft blue grass, hands everywhere, limbs entwined, and he forgot about anything but the soft feel of her lips. Of her body.
Time passed, and he didn't even attempt to keep track of it.
Then she pulled away, and stood up, leaving him panting and desperately disappointed. With a little wink, she picked up the picnic basket and began walking towards the TARDIS.
He laughed, letting his head fall back to the grass so he could stare at the sky and laugh some more, giddy with possibilities.
"Coming?" she asked, and he heard her turning her key in the lock. Her key? When had he given her a key? When would he, more likely.
He jumped to his feet, adjusted his bow tie, and dashed in after her.
"Where to next?" he said, still feeling giddy, practically skipping up the stairs to the console.
"I needed a ride, remember?" River said, setting coordinates. "It's why I called you in the first place?"
"But…" he started, utterly crestfallen. "But you only just got here. I mean, Rory and Amy will be on their honeymoon for, well as long as we need them to be. I do have a time machine. Girls still dig time machines, right?"
River laughed. He loved her laugh.
"Next time, my love. I remember it well. But I'm afraid I really must be going."
She pulled the dematerialization lever as he joined her at the console, shoulders slumping.
"Don't pout," she said, and gave him a quick peck on the lips.
He refused to be embarrassed by the wide grin he felt creeping across his face.
Then the familiar wheezing of the TARDIS's departure turned into the familiar wheezing of the TARDIS's arrival. River's eyes widened. The Doctor spun around behind him, in time to see a police box fade into existence on the third floor landing in the console room.
Fitz woke in his bed. Unfortunately alone, he thought with a yawn as he stretched, then curled back under the covers. The low blaze in the fireplace crackled merrily, making his room just warm enough to be cozy.
He and the Doctor had been up late, reading. They'd spent all day running around the fabulous centennial book bazaar of Alpha Tuan 3 sometime in the 45th century, perusing a city full of ancient texts and tomes from around the universe that put even the TARDIS library to shame. Not ordinarily his idea of a good time, but considering they'd spent the previous week jamming with David Bowie and Brian Eno, not to mention shagging their way through every glam rocker and pretty little groupie who happened to take their fancy, he was hardly in a position to complain about their recent adventures. And besides, he loved seeing the Doctor excited, wearing that boyish smile and running around, laughing, full of enthusiasm. Dragging him by the hand from stall to stall to gush excitedly about this original first edition textbook or that journal by some famous dead bloke he'd never heard of.
With Compassion off "exploring her humanity" on Earth, as the Doctor put it, he and his best friend had been enjoying themselves for months now. Traveling the universe with a stroppy redhead definitely sounded like more fun than it was. Actually, she scared the living shit out of him. No, he liked things just the way they were. If it were up to him, he'd put off coming back to pick her up indefinitely. They had a bloody time machine, for God's sake. He and the Doctor could spend years enjoying each other's company during her little 6-week vacation.
Thinking about the Doctor made him smile as he snuggled under the blankets. They'd stayed up late reading through a stack of the lovely haul of books they'd acquired at the bazaar, but Fitz had finally given up trying to tempt him for a shag and left for bed. If he knew the Doctor, he was probably still at it, sitting in his armchair, listening to records. His nose in some forgotten journal.
Fitz yawned, then forced himself out of bed, padding to the bathroom wearing only red y-fronts. He took a piss, brushed his teeth, and washed his face. Looking in the mirror, he wondered whether to shave, or not… Well, his stubble wasn't too bad yet. Made him look cool, a bit rebellious. Fitz Kreiner, intergalactic man of mystery. He splashed on some Old Spice and gave himself a little wink. No wonder he was irresistible.
After getting dressed, he stopped by the galley to make some tea. Milky Earl Grey for him, and Lapsang souchong with a dab of honey, just how the Doctor liked it. Fitz found him in the console room, open book on his lap, dozing in the armchair. Exactly as Fitz expected. The overhead holographic projection of Alpha Tuan's pink morning sky let him know they hadn't traveled anywhere in the night.
Fitz put the mugs down on the little table with the tiffany lamp and sat on the edge of the armchair. He stroked the Doctor's cheek, marveling as always at how soft his skin was, almost unnaturally smooth and silky.
The Doctor gave a pleasant little moan and curled into his touch like a kitten. "Morning, you," he said without opening his eyes, a fond smile crossing his face.
"Hope it was a good book," Fitz said. He began to pull away his hand, but the Doctor held it, and gave it a small, delicate kiss before releasing him and jumping to his feet. Accidentally knocking Fitz to the floor in the process. Nice.
The Doctor laughed and pulled Fitz up with an apologetic little shrug. "Right," the Doctor said suddenly, already distracted as he practically skipped over to the console. "How would you like to have breakfast at the best diner the American 1950s has to offer?"
Fitz chuckled, then drained his tea in a single gulp before responding. "Fab. I could go for some grits. Never had grits, but they're American, right?"
With a giggle, the Doctor nodded and started dancing around the console setting coordinates. "Yes Fitz, grits are considered American cuisine. Grits and coffee and hash browns and all sorts of delightfully non-British things. But first, was that tea I smelled?"
"You are correct, sir," Fitz replied in an exaggerated posh accent.
He was already bringing it to him when the TARDIS began to dematerialize. He loved that sound. It reminded him of adventure, of mystery and danger and lovely girls with blue skin on distant alien planets, like he used to read about as a lonely German kid during World War II, in between getting the shit kicked out of him by his fellow students. Yeah, but look at him now, traveling the universe, visiting the stars he used to glimpse with wonder during the nightly air raid blackouts. The life he'd left behind in 1963 at the age of 27 was a long way away, and he had no intention of ever going back.
The Doctor took the tea from him with a grateful smile, then choked on it as the sound of dematerialization suddenly shifted to the other end of the spectrum. And a very familiar blue box suddenly appeared in a dim corner of the console room.
"Bloody hell," Fitz muttered.
Jack finished resoldering the last of the wires and slid out from under the console.
"How are the readings now?" he asked, standing up and wiping his hands on his blue jeans.
"Fantastic," the Doctor said. He looked up from the console with a wide grin.
"You look much better when you smile," Jack teased, sidling up next to him. "Kind of a rugged sort of handsome."
"Yeah, well, we can't all be pretty boys, can we? Not everyone gets by on their looks. Been there, done that before."
"Hey, I'll have you know my gorgeous looks are just one of the many tools available in my arsenal," Jack said with mild affront.
The Doctor chuckled, "Now that I can believe. Shall we take her for a test run?"
"Sounds like my idea of a good time."
The Doctor adjusted the settings and the TARDIS started to dematerialize. It was all still new to Jack. New, and very exciting. The TARDIS was a class act all the way. It made his vortex manipulator feel like a carved stone wheel in comparison. Now this was definitely the way to travel.
"Something's wrong," the Doctor said suddenly, scowling.
"I'll say," Jack said, pointing to the blue box materializing near the back of the console room. "That's not supposed to happen, is it?"
The Doctor's frown deepened. "No it isn't."
The wheezing, grating noise finally stopped and the TARDIS became firmly solid, seemingly in defiance of all logic.
"Where's Rose?" the Doctor demanded.
"Watching EastEnders in the library, I think she said."
"I've got to find her," he said, turning toward the interior doors. "If we're stuck in a recursive time loop, the interior of the TARDIS could be going haywire."
Jack began to follow him, but the Doctor stopped and turned to face him. "No. Stay here. We don't know who, or what, might be coming out of that thing."
Just then, the outer door swung open, and a slender man dressed in dark slacks, a silver waistcoat, and a long velvet jacket stepped out. He was absolutely beautiful, with long golden brown hair and melancholic blue-green eyes. His aristocratic features made Jack think of some forgotten Byronic poet.
"Oh no, not you," the Doctor said with disgust.
"Hello!" the new arrival said with a smile, stepping up to meet them as a taller, slightly gangly man wearing tight black drainpipe jeans and a red t-shirt followed close behind. He had grey eyes with long lashes, and a delicate face that contrasted nicely with his dark, unkempt hair and five o'clock shadow.
"I'm the Doctor, and this is Fitz," the shorter man said, extending a handshake.
"I know who you are," the Doctor spat.
"But how-" Jack began.
"Regeneration," the Doctor said, still refusing to take the other man's hand. "He's the Eighth, and I'm the Ninth."
"Yes, well, pleasure to make your acquaintance," the Eighth Doctor said archly, pouting as he stuffed his hands in his pocket.
"Hey, wait a minute, that's my jacket!" Fitz interjected, pointing. "Not the one I'm wearing now, I mean obviously, I'm not wearing a jacket..."
Fitz trailed off, sounding embarrassed.
"Yeah, it is your jacket," the Ninth Doctor said, tearing his eyes away from the Eighth Doctor to finally look at Fitz. He suddenly smiled, and it was like the sun shining through a storm cloud. "It's good see you again, Fitz," the Ninth Doctor said with barely suppressed emotion.
"So it's true," Jack said in awe. "I'd heard the rumors that Time Lords were practically immortal, that they could change bodies, but I'd never believed it."
"Yes, well the rumors about Time Lords have the unfortunate habit of being far too close to reality," the Eighth Doctor said, keeping a wary eye on Nine. "I'm sorry, I'm afraid we haven't been properly introduced."
Jack extended a hand and gave him his most charming grin. "Hello there. I'm Captain Jack Harkness."
"Look, we don't have time for this," the Ninth Doctor snarled. "While you lot stand around chatting, Rose could be trapped, or hurt."
"I'm so sorry," Eight said with genuine concern. "I didn't realize there was anyone else on board. Yes, of course, you're right. If the TARDIS architecture has been affected, then she could be in very real danger."
"I'm gonna find Rose," Nine said gruffly, and glared at Eight before continuing. "You. You're coming with me. I'm not letting you out of my sight. Jack, go check what's inside that TARDIS. See if there's a way out."
"Fitz, go with him," Eight said, then began to count off on his fingers. "And keep an eye out for a crotchety old man, a short fellow with a mop of black hair, a tall dandy dressed in velvet, a wild-eyed bohemian with a long scarf, an exceedingly polite blond dressed in Edwardian cricket gear, a small slightly sinister man who may or may not be wearing a jumper covered in question marks, a tall skinny guy in a pinstripe suit and trainers, and a youngish chap wearing a bow tie who dresses like a professor. Tell them you're friends of ours and they'll help you."
He stopped and waggled his fingers for a moment. "Am I missing anyone? Oh, right. Him. If you run across a curly haired man who looks like a clown vomited all over his clothes, avoid him at all costs."
"Is he dangerous?" Fitz asked nervously.
"No. But he is exceedingly annoying."
"Finished with your charming little speech?" Nine growled. "Cause I'm sick of hearing you babble. Come on if you're coming."
"All right!" the Eight Doctor snapped, whirling around to face him. "There is absolutely no reason to be so utterly unpleasant."
Nine stepped up to him, and for a moment Jack tensed. He'd seen that look in the Ninth Doctor's eyes before, and it normally meant the person on the receiving end was about to regret ever meeting him. To his credit, Eight glared back, just as fiercely, his dark expression transforming his pretty features into something cold and suddenly dangerous.
"I have plenty of reasons," the Ninth Doctor said, his voice icy with menace. Then he turned and walked away.
Eight sighed, seemingly overcome by melancholy.
"It's all right," Fitz said and gave his shoulder a squeeze. "Don't let him get to you. And good luck, Doctor."
Eight smiled fondly at Fitz, if not cheerful, then at least reassured. "Thanks. See you soon, Fitz."
"You better," Fitz said and gave him a quick hug.
Then the Eighth Doctor hurried along through the interior door, Fitz's gaze lingering after him.
"Wow," Jack said with a little nervous laugh. "That was tense."
"Yeah, wonder what that was about," Fitz said with a little frown.
"Sooo..." Jack said as casually as possible as they walked across the console room to the other TARDIS. "Are you and him sleeping together?"
Hope you liked it! The next chapter is written and I'll have it up in a few days. There's much more excitement and drama ahead. But first some end notes.
How does Eight know about his future incarnations?
Read Four and a Half Doctors, an awesome story I wrote that I'm shamelessly plugging! All will be explained.
Where are all of these characters in their respective timelines?
Nine and Jack, and Rose, are a few months after The Doctor Dances, but before Boom Town. Everything is still new to Jack, but he and Nine have really bonded and he's quite taken with both the Doctor and Rose.
Eight and Fitz are between Parallel 59 and Shadows of Avalon. All you have to know is that Fitz and Eight have been traveling together a couple of years now, and many crazy things have happened to both of them. They've already been firmly established as best friends, and Fitz would go on to be the Doctor's longest serving continuous companion, from 1999-2005. Oh yeah, and canonically, Fitz is the first guy the Doctor kisses, all the way back in 1999! Boy did I squeal when I read that book…
As I mentioned, I am going to avoid any major spoilers for the EDAs (so please keep reading this story!). However, if you like insane adventures, epic levels of angst, breaking all the rules of the Doctor Who universe, and a beautiful, tragic friendship that survives all sorts of catastrophe and ruin, not to mention the inspiration for the Time War and probably the closest you'll ever get to seeing how it really could have happened, then seriously consider reading this book series. It's like reading professional fan fiction, and I mean that in the absolute best way possible. A lot of the writers here went on to work for Big Finish or to write the New Series Adventures with 9, 10, and 11, so it's a very talented group.
Oh, and if you're wondering what Fitz looks like? He was perfectly played in a Big Finish audio by the gorgeous Matt Di Angelo of Hustle/EastEnders fame.
But anyway, enough gushing! Leave me those reviews, and I'll have a new chapter up before you know it.