Time and Space for Geniuses
Chapter 3: The Eleventh Hour (iii)
"So what was with the cricket bat? And pretending to be your brother?"
"Seemed like a reasonable response at the time, guaranteeing my physical safety and gathering information without offering you any."
"But a cricket bat!"
"A cricket bat!"
"Twelve years and four psychiatrists."
"I didn't tell them about you—Mycroft assumed it was all a story, and that my new obsession with tracing extracurricular life interactions was merely that—a childish obsession. He never really figured out about you, either. However, after I refused to talk with any of my classmates for four months straight, he began sending me to the psychiatrists. They did try to institutionalize me once, worrying about 'Anti Social Personality Disorder.' Complete rubbish, I put my foot down, and Mycroft stopped bothering me. Why are we having this conversation again? Aren't we supposed to be doing something interesting?"
"Yeah, saving the world. Wait a second—"
An ice cream truck ahead of them was blasting the refrain: Prisoner Zero will vacate the human residence, or the human residents will be incinerated. Prisoner Zero will vacate the human residence, or…
"It's supposed to be playing Clair de Lune," the confused ice cream man stuttered.
"Hi, may I borrow this? Yeah, thanks." The Doctor pointed his sonic at the radio, rapidly switching stations, but the same refrain was everywhere.
"We weren't saved by an ice cream truck," Sherlock said.
"What? Hm, no, deep breaths, it's okay, life can be this crazy around me. Being saved by an ice cream truck is not the strangest thing to happen and I need to see—"
He veered off, rushing towards a house. Sherlock followed him, saying, "No, I don't care how ridiculous it sounds, the ice cream was too far away. Only explanation is that this message is playing from all the communications in the village, so it was probably Mycroft's big television that would make that much noise. However, the Atraxi had no way of knowing that Prisoner Zero would stay here, in Leadworth, so it's all over the world. Obvious."
The Doctor burst into a house, ignoring him, greeting the old lady. "Hello, I'm here doing a special on…television problems in this neighborhood." He flashed the psychic paper, brushing past the old woman's stutters about how she was just about to call. Sherlock hastened into the room after him, still rather annoyed at his deductions being completely disregarded. The Doctor, as usual, seemed oblivious. "And, um, I hired Sherlock as an, um, assistant."
"Here on a case, Mrs. Hudson," he explained.
"I thought Mycroft said that you were supposed to stay at home, under constant supervision."
The Doctor's ears perked up. "Constant supervision? Why?"
Sherlock gave him a glare. "Mycroft doesn't seem to think that fending off boredom is a good excuse for doing recreational."
"Recreational? As in drugs? You?"
"Shut up." For the first time, Sherlock looked somewhat uncomfortable. "You're worse than my brother."
"I'm the Doctor, I'm worse than anyone's big brother." Suddenly, he seemed to realize that he had an audience. He turned back to Mrs. Hudson. "And that's not how I'm introducing myself. Now, the television."
The eye of the Atraxi was repeating its refrain. After a few attempts to change the channel, the Doctor gave up and scanned the radio. "Russian, German, French, Chinese…it's all over the world. They're not talking about your house, they're talking about the world."
"I told you. Took you long enough. You know, if you had actually listened to me—"
"I do recognize you!" Mrs. Hudson proclaimed. "You're the Doctor, aren't you? The Raggedy Doctor! Sherlock used to—"
"Shut up." Luckily, however, the Doctor was nearly out of the door by now, and didn't seem to be listening. He ran into Jeff by the doorway, and proceeded to look him up and down, still talking to himself about the impending alien threat. "Mid-sized battle fleet in the sky, they'd need to seal off the upper atmosphere, power up, that would give us twenty minutes, you think, yeah, twenty minutes."
"That's the Raggedy Doctor!"
Sherlock wanted to face-palm. All of these people, stating the obvious, and this conversation had been over twelve years ago.
"The Raggedy Doctor, you know, you set up a whole website, passed out 'Have you seen this man' posters, and didn't you try to infiltrate some government agency—"
"Torchwood. Mycroft forbade me, something about how even he stayed out of Torchwood's business, but I still hacked into their files. Surprising how very little they know, they seem to try to clean up and cover up alien messes than worry about preventative action."
The Doctor looked between them. "Wait, you—"
"This is not the conversation to be having at the time. We've got to get to the hospital." He rushed out of the house, back towards the center of town, and this time, the Doctor came with him
"The hospital? Why? Where are we?"
"Does it have an airport?"
"No. Thirty minutes from the nearest town with an airport."
"And twenty minutes to save the world. A nuclear power plant?"
"Are you kidding? As if Mycroft would let me live anywhere near a nuclear power plant. No, this is the most boring town in the world, and he's basically got me under house arrest here, 'for my own good.' We've got a post office, and it's closed today, Sunday."
"A duck pond."
"Where are the ducks?"
"We don't have any ducks."
"Then how do you know it's a duck pond?"
"Does it matter?"
"I don't know." The Doctor kneeled down, examining the pond, then he spasmed, gasping, clutching his chest. Sherlock wondered if he was mad. Why the pond? The pond had nothing to do with anything.
Suddenly, the sun went out, or, rather, the aliens must have been using their technology to manipulate the heavens. Sherlock felt a little bit out of his capacity. "Doctor?" he called. A few seconds later, the sun was back, but far larger. "Doctor, whatever they're doing, it's beginning. I suspect they've done something to our atmosphere because the wouldn't be able to move the earth's orbit, not without us noticing a change in temperature—"
"Sealed off the upper atmosphere, getting ready to boil us. And look at you, the human race. The end comes, as it always was going to, down the end of a camera phone."
He stood up. "I saw something, but I missed it. What? What?" He bashed his palm into his forehead.
"Oh! The nurse! Stop that nurse!"
Sherlock had a very bad suspicion of exactly who that nurse was, and in his opinion, the entire situation had spiral out of his control far too quickly. "No."
The Doctor looked completely confused. "What did you say?"
"No." Sherlock grabbed onto his necktie and yanked him towards a parking car, grabbing the keys from a rather confused man. He slammed the Doctor's tie in the door, then locked the car, effectively holding him captive. "You can explain exactly who you are and what you're doing here."
The man whose car had been commandeered looked somewhat shaken up. "You know, Sherlock, I will be needing my car back—"
"Go get coffee," Sherlock ordered, and that was the end the discussion.
"Twenty minutes. Twenty minutes until the end of the world."
"Than you better explain very quickly."
"Everything I told you the day I met you was true. I'm a time traveler called 'The Doctor' and—"
Sherlock quickly shook his head. "No, the Atraxi show up when you show up. What do you have to say for yourself? Torchwood doesn't really know anything about you, either, except that you're all over our history—and our future, I suspect—and there's always trouble when you're around. Are you some sort of agent for them? Or are you working for Prisoner Zero? Why are you here?" Sherlock's voice became increasingly livid. Under the flash of his silver-blue eyes, the Doctor could see the real question he was asking: Why did you say five minutes, and how can you ever expect me to trust you again?
The Doctor had rarely felt afraid for his own life before, but standing there, trapped by this seething man, at his mercy (well, a voice in the back of his head told him he could merely take his tie off, but Sherlock probably would have been able to see him and stop him and…) Trust. It would take a long time to rebuilt Sherlock's trust, but here was as good as any a place to start. The Doctor took a deep breath.
"Coincidence; we have nothing to do with each other. The Atraxi latched onto my signal, though, so they're only late because I am. I'm here because I promised, and because this is what I do. I'm the Doctor, and I go around and help people, help planets, help whole civilizations in all of time and space. And right now there are aliens up there that are threatening your world, your species, your civilization. Please, twenty minutes, trust me for twenty minutes."
Sherlock frowned. Trusting the Doctor, coming to terms with all sort of emotional…things…that wasn't his problem, that wasn't what he wanted to deal with. No, his problem was he wasn't a little kid anymore, and he wouldn't accept the Doctor treating him as anything less than an equal. "No, you trust me for twenty minutes. I'm not here to stand around in awe about how smart you are. I can work things out just as well as you, even if I lack your knowledge of advanced technology or alien societies, I can still put clues together, so if you want me to help, then you have to listen to me."
The Doctor swallowed. "Fine."
"Fine." Sherlock unlocked the car. "Let's go catch that nurse."
John Watson was taking pictures of Peter Moyes, the coma patient who Dr. Ramsden refused to admit was walking around. Out of the corner of his eye, he thought he saw a man that greatly resembled Sherlock (which was impossible because Mycroft had Sherlock under constant supervision), speaking with another man, who was babbling about "everyone here taking pictures of the sun, but you're taking pictures of that man. Why?"
Suddenly, he realized the pair was standing in front of him.
It was Sherlock. It really was Sherlock, and…but it was impossible. The other man looked like…like the Raggedy doctor. It was impossible. (Somehow, he thought that he had already thought that.) "But you didn't exist. You can't be here, you didn't exist."
The Doctor, who didn't really have time to go through the whole 'No, I really do exist' conversation again, grabbed his shirt and shook him violently. "Why were you taking pictures of him?" he demanded.
John's shocked brain answered before he even realized it. "Because he can't be here, because he's—"
"in a hospital, in a coma," the Doctor finished with him. "Knew it, multiform, you see, needs psychic link with a living, but dormant, mind."
"Yep. You know, you're rather slow sometimes. I've been trying to get you to the hospital for the last fifteen minutes."
The Doctor looked confused. "Oh. That's why? I thought you were going to…"
"Introduce you to his friend?" John butted in.
Sherlock snorted. "John Watson. Colleague, past classmates, helps me out on cases every once in a while when I need a medical opinion."
"Oh, thanks," John said. However, Prisoner Zero's loud, angry bark muted out any other words that John may have tried to say.
The Doctor stalked forward. "Prisoner Zero," he drawled. Almost as if on cue, an Atraxi spaceship flew into view, hovering around a tower, searching. "See, that ship up there is scanning the area for non-terrestrial technology. And nothing says non-terrestrial like a sonic screwdriver!"
The Doctor raised his sonic screwdriver into the air. All of the Earth technology went haywire.
Sherlock wondered if he ought to point out that the sonic screwdriver wasn't actually doing anything, it was making the earth technology overreact, which would in turn disguise any of its own traces. Basically, the Doctor was creating a huge scene for nothing.
Sure enough, the screwdriver blew out after a few seconds, and the Atraxi flew off.
"No, no, no!" the Doctor shouted. "Don't do that! He's here! Prisoner Zero is here!"
The ship was far gone by now. The Doctor's shouts were pointless, another one of those emotional reactions. Sherlock wasted no time staring at Prisoner Zero, watching carefully for its next move. As expected, the alien deconstructed its psychic stolen form and disappeared down a drain. The piping led towards the hospital.
"TARDIS, no sonic screwdriver, twenty minutes to save the world. I can do it."
Sherlock snatched the phone from John, earning a sharp squawk which he promptly ignored. "Watson's phone has pictures of all of the forms that this multi-form alien takes. If you could somehow communicate this to the Atraxi, then they would be able to capture it. They would then have no reason to destroy the earth."
The Doctor snatched up the phone. "Brilliant. I need your friend—" (John looked up hopefully), "not you, the good-looking one, with the laptop."
"You mean Jeff?" Sherlock volunteered.
"Jeff! With the laptop! The nice, big laptop, because you know what going on right now, somewhere on the Internet? A huge meeting with all the smartest brains on Earth."
Sherlock made up his mind. "Well, I'll only get in the way. You've obviously got a plan. I say John and I go to the hospital and try to stall Prisoner Zero. Oh, come on, it's obviously at the hospital, the drain it disappeared down leads there, besides the fact that it will want to protect all of its dormant minds, make sure we do nothing to break it's connection. Come on, John, we need to make sure it doesn't disappear back underground!"
The Doctor had already run off. John Watson just stood staring at where he had once stood. John's entire rational world had pretty much been shaken to pieces. "But…but how can he be real?" he demanded.
Sherlock didn't grace him with an answer, but rather yanked him towards his car.
a/n: And I finally started stealing dialogue for Sherlock, too, although there's a lot more in the next chapter. Confrontation between Sherlock and the Doctor felt a bit weird, but it was inevitable; no way Sherlock would act like a normal companion (not to say Amy is a normal companion at all. Or any of the companions were really normal. Actually, if you think about it, there's no such thing as a normal person). I'm trying to balance staying true to the original plot, staying true to the original script, and staying true to the original characters, and at some moments, those seem to be completely clashing objectives.
I should probably clarify something—Mycroft's 'supervision' is more of the cameras/surveillance/threats to institutionalize him if he leaves the house rather than actually hiring a nanny or assigning security guards to the house. Those would be a lot easier to avoid.
Oh, thank you for the amazing comments, especially warning me about the dangers of repeating dialogue. Special thanks to the42jabberwocky for bouncing around ideas with me. Sort of like a beta reader. I've never had a beta reader before, which is kind of strange and a tad hypocritical because I've beta-ed people myself and it's usually my #1 recommendation to new writers. Well, if anyone thinks I desperately need one, or wants to volunteer…
Other than that, leave more intelligent reviews! (Wait, I just realized that sounded sort of insulting. I'm not getting mad at my reviewers for being unintelligent; on the other hand, I'm saying that your reviews were quite intelligent and well thought-out, and I hope you leave more of them. Well. Sorry. That certainly sounded a lot better in my head. Yeah, I'm just digging myself in deeper here. Um, you're smart. Maybe. I'm not sure because I don't know you. Drop me an intelligent review and I'll tell you. If you're smart, I mean. And thank you. For reading the story and caring to review. Yeah, I'll stop talking now. Or writing. Sorry!)