This story is being reuploaded due to a lot of changes being made and more practical spaces of chapters. I'm editing as I go. The story starts with the Tenth Doctor, who regenerates into Eleven later on. I wrote this between the series 4 finale and the series 5 finale, so it's pretty... long. Tell me how you like it! Thanks.
The alarm clock screamed at me to wake up. Again. I sleepily glanced at the clock and then sat bolt upright when I saw the time- 6:50 A.M.… I'd missed the bus by five minutes. Not that I usually caught the bus, but if I could I would grab my skateboard for the ride home and get a free ride to school. I pulled on some khaki cargo pants and a random stretchy tee-shirt, brushed my teeth and combed my hair simultaneously, then ran barefoot down hall.
"Late again?" Maria asked.
"Yes!" I cried while I shoved on some sneakers. I hopped on my bike and rode as quickly as I could through the winding streets in my relatively rural town- I could not be late to school again!
See, I live in a foster home. I have all my life- not that it's a bad thing. But no, fate couldn't be kind to me and leave me in one place, oh no, this gigantic should-probably-have-been-a-hotel-but-the-government-bought-it-out-first building was my fifth foster home. I wish they would have let me stay in the Blue Ridge Parkway, or even on that ranch in Alabama, but they were getting so full and I was one of the only two or three old enough to travel alone. Either way, I've never met my parents, who dumped me in a New York foster home the day I was born, where I lived till I was six. Then somebody adopted me, moved south, decided they didn't want me, and hello state government of Tennessee. Currently I'm in the inner part of Georgia- on the outskirts of Atlanta. I used to hope my parents might find me; that they might actually want me, but I gave up on both when I was about four and a half and I wished on every star I saw for a year and they never came. Not exactly the best evidence, but I accepted it for what it was for more realistic reasons as I got older.
Backpack swinging, I ran through the school doors at 7:57 A.M. and charged into first period, sliding into my seat a half second before the bell rang. I managed to make it through last period relatively unscathed from the teasing, and slipped into my biology class unnoticed- exactly how I wanted it to be. While we waited for the teacher to take attendance, I caught some of the other kid's "you're a freak" looks. The foster home, obviously, but I'd also skipped three grades (I'm a Junior in high school, but I started late because of all the moving around) because I wasn't challenged enough, and I'm still in advanced classes, then there's- but the teacher started to speak, so I stopped thinking.
"Good morning, class, I'm your substitute teacher for, well, actually the next three months while you teacher is on maternity leave. Anyway, I'm Mr. Smith!" said a smiling man in a brown suit as he walked in the door. A British man. How strange.
He was tall and skinny, wearing faded sneakers similar to the ones I wore every day, had on black square glasses that he had just pulled out of his jacket pocket, and when he looked at the class I finally saw his eyes- amazing eyes. Even through the glasses I could tell they were amazing- but for a man who looked in his early thirties they were so… old. Like all the years of the universe were packed inside those eyes. I wish mine were half that magnificent- my eyes are just weird because they're just this really dark, slightly-decayed-wood-mixed-with-brown-bottle-glass color… but nobody else has eyes that color, nobody. Also, I see double a lot, and it's supposed to be some kind of convergence issue, but whichever one the real one isn't always looks just slightly different than the other one. Like a color will be more faded or a spot will be on one and not on the other. I have glasses for when it gets really bad, but usually I don't wear them.
I stood in front of a class of pleased-looking high school students, all of who were grinning and whispering amongst themselves, probably relishing the fact that their teacher was gone for a while. The only reason I was there was because they needed a substitute and this is where the TARDIS took me when I set the sensors in random. You know, now that I think of it not everybody was whispering- I was in an advanced biology class, so everyone was sitting with their lab partners, but there was one girl off in the back- she wasn't doing anything except staring slightly for a second and then pulling her books out of her bag hastily when she saw me looking. She didn't have a lab partner, and she looked way too young to be a junior in high school. I decided to ponder it later and began calling the roll. After a succession of 'here's, I finally reached
"R-" I stopped abruptly. It couldn't be.
"River?" This was 2010. She couldn't be alive- she hadn't even been born yet! The original typed name on the sheet had been blacked out and River was written beside it, like it had been written down wrong. The girl in the back raised her head quietly, her big brown eyes shining even in the dim school lighting.
"Here." She looked like they could be related. It was really uncanny: she had the same curly dark hair, the full lips, and the big eyes. The only thing she didn't have was the olive skin tone, and the eyes weren't the right color. She was even about the right height. I'd say it was genetic multiplicity except for the skin tone and the face shape being just slightly off around the forehead. She was on the pale side of healthy and her face was just slightly less heart-shaped and more rounded, though she did have the prominent cheekbones. Also, the River I knew wasn't half so shy as her, and even though she was very smart I don't think she'd have been a junior in high school when she was that young- how old was that girl, fifteen? It was my turn to stare.
After class Mr. Smith stopped me at the door.
"River, wasn't it?"
"Yes." Who could forget someone with a goofy name like River? Whoever my parents were apparently liked water and at least bothered to name me before chucking me to the state government.
"Tell me, where did you get your name?"
"I dunno. I guess my parents gave it to me."
"You guess? What do you mean you guess? Don't you know if your parents named you?" Oh, boy.
"No, as a matter of fact I don't. I'm an orphan- I live in the small apartment complex foster home thingy on Oak Street. I guess my parents named me and then turned me over to the state government of New York." he looked puzzled.
"New York? Well, you're a bit far from home, aren't you?" I almost laughed.
"I have no home. No real one at least- listen, I've gotta get back, I'm the one who has to unlock the apartments for the younger kids and if I'm late Ella will chew me out when she gets home from work. Any more questions?"
"Just one. How old are you?"
"16 today. That's another reason I've got to go- my party starts in a half hour." he smiled happily, almost to the point of giggling, it seemed. Elina appeared at the door. She'd lived at the past three foster homes with me, was my age, and was pretty much my only friend at school. She was two years behind me, but we still got to see each other because the middle school was right beside the high school, plus she'd moved up last year.
"River, you ready to go?"
"Yeah! Well, I'll see you tomorrow, then."
"Happy birthday, then! I'll see you tomorrow, River."
"G'bye!" I waved and hurried out the door. What a funny little (well, not little. He must have been at least six feet tall!) man…
Back at the apartments I bustled in the doors to help with the party setup. Quickly throwing my books and coat on the hall tree, I slipped out of my sneakers and skidded into the kitchen in my socks- more literally than figuratively, and I was on my butt laughing in three seconds flat. Ella, our foster mother who we normally addressed by her first name, pulled me up with a finger to her lips, and ushered me into the hallway.
"River?" said Ella. "We have something for you. From your parents." Say what?
"My what? But how, when, who, why would they-" Ella put a hand over my mouth to silence me and held out a rectangular box about the size of a sheet of printer paper on top and four inches thick.
"They, or rather, he, told us to give this to you when you turned 16, but honestly I'd forgotten about it until I cleaned out the attic yesterday. He said not to try and open it till then, because anybody else wouldn't be able to get the latches undone- even though there's no lock that I can see. I'll leave this with you, and you can open it when you will. Don't worry about setting up, we'll take care of it." She kissed my forehead and left.
I stood, frozen and mesmerized in the entryway. Shaking my head, I bounded up the stairs to my room. I sat down on my bed, staring out the window that it was pushed up against. For the first time in a long time, I cried. The hot tears ran down my face and I just sat there for a while- they stopped soon enough. I angrily threw the box under the bed and ran downstairs as soon as my face was clear enough.
The party was wonderful- small, but that was just the way I liked things. The whole foster family (10 kids and 2 adults) got together to play games and eat cake. I didn't have any friends besides them, so there wasn't anybody else there. Not many of them knew what to get me, so by the time I'd opened all the presents I wound up with several handmade birthday cards from the little ones, some new books from Maria (she was the oldest at seventeen, just one year away from aging out), and about $150 in cash. The party ended for the older ones at about 11:00, and we trudged up to our rooms feeling groggy and full.
As I was about to climb into bed my foot hit something hard, and I remembered the box beneath my bed. Slowly and hesitantly, I pulled it up and sat it on the bed, slumping beside it. My hand stayed suspended in midair for a long time before it touched the brass latches keeping the box closed- there were two like a jewelry box has and they seemed to spring open at the touch of my fingertips. I could see on the inside that there were three layers to it, but on the top there was a sealed envelope with my name on it in handwriting that I didn't recognize. I carefully tore it open.