I'm back! Due to a series of things happening, I ended up away from this stroy for half a year instead of the month I planned on. Hopefully you will still want to read it. I will keep on updating now again for a while. I'm trying to pick it up from where I left it and my hope is that worked well enough.
Hailey had well imagined that she and Maralee would become decent friends quickly. They had after all certainly gotten along well enough during the short time the bus had been stranded in another universe. But it so quickly become quite apparent that Maralee had many of her own friends already at the school and many of them were less than fully accepting of the visiting outsider with so much outside influence. All of the oldest students from the once stranded bus seemed to be in the same situation, once they were home.
Much to Hailey's great surprise the tiny girl, Lyna-Melie, became the one that talked to her and showed her the school and her own little world on the large and still little understood planet. The girl could speak so well, Hailey discovered quickly, as soon as the child had overcome her initial shyness. The tiny girl was more help than expected with the number system Hailey was having such trouble mastering.
"Where is Earth?" Lyna-Melie asked one afternoon a few days after the bus misfortune. She sat with Hailey under the silver leaves of an ancient tree, and looked up the sky with the wonder of any child.
"So far away it's not quiet common knowledge on this world," Hailey answered. For a moment she felt slightly sad at imagining the planet she'd grown up on so far away and not even heard of.
"You come from an alternative universe too," the child chattered on, thinking fast. "Your Earth must be farther than it would seem at first. Do you suppose, come to think of it, that there is an Earth in this reality? I wonder how much like your home it would be. Clearly this world took a different path in your universe. I wonder how yours did in this one."
Hailey blinked a couple of times, saying nothing and trying to wrap her head around everything the child had said. She could understand what she was saying of course, and the concept made complete sense. But to hear that sort of complex thought from an eight year old was still nevertheless shocking. For a moment she found herself nearly intimidated by the mind power of her own people.
"What are you going to be when you grow up?" the Time Lord child asked after a few moments of silence.
Hailey laughed a little at that. "I'm already grown up."
The child looked disbelieving. "How old are ya' then?"
Lyna-Melie considered for a moment. Finally she said slowly and thoughtfully, "that's not all that old at all. There are many students older than that. Why hurry to be grown up if you don't have to be. You get to live to be hundreds of years old."
Hailey laughed. "True. But really it's not so simple. Now that I've grown up and lived an adult life, I can't just go back to childhood. Even if it is late childhood."
"Too big a step backward then?"
"I like childhood."
"Of course you do," Hailey said, laughing again. "You're eight years old."
"So you already have your job then?" asked Lyna-Melie. "Since on earth you are already grown up?"
Hailey nodded her head.
The child looked at her with wide eyed interest. "So, what do you do."
"I've been a pub waitress, and then a shop clerk. Now I'm out to save the world every few weeks with the universe's greatest adventurer."
The little Time Lord girl shrugged both shoulders with far less interest then Hailey had expected. "Hmm... neat."
"So what are going to be then?"
The girl's eyes lit with with excitement and she flew into a flurry of fast chatter. "I want to be a time and dimensional operations engineer. That's a whole big field of course and there are jobs within it to specialize in. I know I want to work with time ships and their fine tuned programming. So basically teaching time ships how to think in a way."
The little girl paused for a second, looked at Hailey and laughed before she went right on again. "Our time ships are alive you know. Well not in the way you and I are alive but still living consciousnesses to some complex degree. They can learn to think. Basically people teach them so much before they are given over to their crews to fly. But then you knew that..."
"Some people tend to think that the job of teaching the ships like that is too thankless and without recognition. In our world everyone wants to be seen as important and high and mighty. But I like the ships. They are smart in their own way. Did you know that each one has it's own personality? Teaching them enough can take so many years. They pretty much need to learn how to learn for themselves. It takes so much patience. But still I want to do that job."
At some point during her excited speech, the child had jumped to her feet. She now sat back down under the tree. Hailey laughed again.
The Doctor sat alone in the school guest room he had been assigned to use while on the planet. The white walls with their fancy white painted moldings and the simple beige carpet, were nothing like his room back on his ship. The blue covers on the bed were too perfect, and the empty shelves and dresser too clean and uncluttered. He glanced to the window high up on the wall, and behind it's open blue curtains, but he could not see much through it. Of course he couldn't see much through the window he reminded himself in both frustration and amusement. His room was in the school's basement, and the window was so high up. He thought of wandering down the hall to Hailey's assigned room, but he was quite sure she wasn't in hers.
He got up from the bed he had been sitting on to read, tossed his book aside, and walked quickly to the window. Once closer and looking up he could a clear view across the campus. He and Hailey were housed in rooms below the main school building, but there were several others of slightly more interest than that one. Across a grassy clearing and couple of stone pathways, stood one of the dormitory buildings. Next to it, across another narrow stone path was the huge gym and auditorium structure. Across the school grounds, among the brick buildings with their elaborate sloping metal roofs, ran students of all ages and sizes and all dressed in identical and perfectly clean and pressed clothing. He didn't like the place anymore than than he had so many centuries before and though it was an entirely different reality, the place looked exactly like it had back in the days of his own childhood.
Just so typical of his own people, even in this reality, he mused to himself. Hundreds of years allowed to go by without so much as a single change to something as important as a school, just for the vary sake of change. He doubted the roofs would even be looked over unless they sprung a leak somewhere. He had for got just how greatly his people were set in their ways and resistant of change in any way.
A slight knock at the door dragged from from his reflecting and before he could even turn to answer the knocking, Hailey entered the room. She sat down in the chair at the desk in the corner, after turning it backward to face out to the room.
"Doctor?" she questioned after a moment in which he said nothing to her at all. "What's the matter?"
The Doctor stepped back from the window. "Sorry Hailey. Nothing's the matter. I'm fine. Just... thinking."
"Thinking hey? Well that must be where all the smoke is coming from."
"Hahaha, I try." Hailey laughed. She tilted the chair backwards a bit against the front of the desk. "Seriously though, thinking about what?"
"I met with a few members of the senate today. It seems the matron contacted them yesterday about us and the idea of the now missing alternate version of this planet."
Hailey's heart sunk for a second at that. "Oh wow. You aren't in serious trouble now are you?"
"No, no. Remember, we are a race that can see possibilities, and not quite manifesting time-lines constantly. Several moments consideration after hearing my side of things and it all made sense to them somehow. Besides it's not their world. There isn't much attachment to it here because they've got this one."
"That's a bit sad in a way."
"In a way, yes it is. But a good thing in the current situation, all things considered."
"We've been invited to stay here," the Doctor said, after a slight moment of silence in which they both considered their own thoughts. "I've been offered a teaching job here at the school, of all things."
"Stay here?" Hailey questioned. "Well are you going to accept the offer?"
"That's a complicated situation. See, for years now I was the only Time Lord left in the universe... well not counting you of course, but I met you later. It was so lonely for so long, just finding myself alone. Now there is a planet of our people again, I could stay and make a life here if I wanted... and all I can think of is the same old wish to run away from home. Just like the old days, when I ran because I could.
Hailey considered for a second or two. Finally she said, " I think that makes perfect sense though. "You've only even said you wished you had your people around and alive again. You never said you wanted to stay home if you could. It makes sense that you would run off again with little guilt about doing so, because now of course you've got a home to return to when you want to. Just like the old days."
"It still shocks me sometimes how well you actually manage to understand my reasoning."
"Doctor, I've been thinking," Hailey said next. Her tone and changed and her face had taken on a look of good and serious consideration over something huge. One look at her in the second and the Doctor knew without a second thought that this would not be a good thing at all. Nevertheless, he boldly gestured for her to go on speaking.
"The time war never happened here," Hailey said with excitement. "So this version of Gallifrey never had it's people frantically trying to save their children or run for their lives. Everything is as it should be... and my dad is probably still alive somewhere."
The Doctor stood for several long seconds, frozen where he stood in panic and disbelief. No, no, no! He ranted in his mind. Why was it that sooner or later it seemed every parent-less companion he knew eventually decided to look for her parent in an alternate universe or time period? Why was it exactly that he could vaguely recall a nearly Earth destroying time based disaster, caused by a similar attempt for a companion years before?
He shook he head for a second, thinking hard. He realized in a second that that had been different in the case. It was Earth and time itself had been upset by the survival of someone that was meant to be dead. Gallifrey held the time vibration itself, and besides they were not saving any lives, just looking for an already surviving man. He nearly slapped himself in the next second. Why, he wondered in frustration, was he even considering this? In the next second he'd turned to look Hailey firmly in the eyes.
He was about to tell her that was impossible, and dangerous. he was about to explain exactly what had happened the last time someone had suddenly decided she should know who her father could have been. He was ready to let her down and claim that he was doing the safe thing. But one more look at her face, now hopeful and excited, and he found himself speechless. In the name of the universe itself, he raged silently, why was it exactly that he never could seem to say no to his companions?
"We can look for him," he said with some lingering doubts. "But with every possible safety protocol in place. I've got somewhat of a bad history with meeting dead parents. If for whatever reason he is dead in this time-line too, well we can't just try to save him, but of course you know that. You're a Time Lord student. Someone tried that by accident once and nearly destroyed the Earth as a result. And remember that he is not really your father. Yours is dead with our varsion of this planet. We are simply looking for what could have been, as far as we are concerned."
Hailey nodded, grinning with the excitement of a new discovery.
The Doctor went on speaking, quickly. "There's a good chance in this reality he never went to Earth, and never met your mother. If he didn't, he will have no idea at all who you are or why you are looking for him. This varsions may not even know what Earth is. So many of the people here don't"
The Doctor ran toward the door of his room, stopping for a second to pull Hailey to her feet and drag her quickly behind him at running speed. "Well then, off we go."
Oh...kay! I have no idea whatsoever where that ending to the chapter came from. Originally I had no intention of bringing James (Hailey's father) back at all. Well it does seem this one is taking it's own direction again. let's see where it leads, shall we.