A/N: Hello all! This is my first ever fanfiction, hooray! I've had this idea running around in my mind for a while now, so here goes!
Disclaimer: I've created an original character, but I own NOTHING Doctor Who related at all, of course.
"Doctor, where are we?"
River smiled fondly at her very own cosmic nine-year old. He was performing the dance around the TARDIS console that she had become so accustomed to seeing every night. He flipped switches, pushed buttons, and peered into the screen, all while smiling broadly.
"We're doing something different tonight. Do you have any idea what today is?" he said with that same huge grin on his face.
"Well, if I'm not mistaken, it's our wedding anniversary," River said, raising an eyebrow. "How could I possibly forget, considering you've been talking about some 'big plans' of yours for weeks now-"
"Okay, okay, you caught me," the Doctor said, laughing and throwing his hands in the air. "I was pretty excited, just shoot me now…"
"Sweetie, while you know I have a certain affinity for guns, I could never shoot you." River paused. "Unless of course, you're wearing one of your ridiculous hats," She sauntered up to her husband. "Besides, you secretly like the fact that I'm a spectacular shot." She planted a kiss on his lips.
The Doctor, being currently penned against his own TARDIS console, returned the kiss. He didn't even notice that River flipped a couple of switches behind his back before breaking the kiss.
"Anyway, we're here. Wherever 'here' is, that is," River said with a flirty wink.
"Wait, we haven't landed yet!" exclaimed the Doctor.
But River was already throwing the TARDIS doors open to a beautiful night sky. "Sweetie, I don't know when you're going to realize that you aren't technically supposed to leave the brakes on every time you land…"
"I told you, I like that noise. It's a cool noise," The Doctor straightened his bow tie with a stubborn look on his face.
"Anyway, where are we exactly?" River asked as the Doctor closed the TARDIS doors behind them. She breathed in the sweet smell of the early evening air. They were standing in the middle of a park, where the TARDIS was stealthily hidden by trees. "We're on Earth, right?"
"Correct. New York City to be exact. We're currently standing in Central Park, in 2012," The Doctor bounced happily on the spot before taking River's hand and beginning to stroll in the direction of the street.
"This is… different. No strange looking races? No saving a random planet? No explosions or monsters or anyone trying to kill us?" River chuckled.
"Nope!" he exclaimed as they approached a cozy, small café. "I know I always said that I don't do domestic things, but I thought we'd try something new tonight." He squeezed her hand as they crossed the street.
"We never get a chance to just relax, but tonight is our night. Nothing can stop us." He paused right outside the café and pulled her into a hug, burying his face in her hair and planting a kiss on the top of her head. ""I know it's not the usual, but I figured that not running for our lives on our wedding anniversary would be a welcome change for once."
When River stayed silent, he pulled away slightly in alarm.
"Is this okay? I mean, we can always go find another planet-"
He stopped himself when he saw tears in River's eyes. He brushed one of them away warily.
"It's perfect," said River, sniffing slightly. "Perfect."
"Happy tears?" the Doctor asked.
"Humany-wumany ones," River replied with a smile.
They entered the café hand in hand. As they sat, River admired the café itself. It was a small, cozy place with candles on the table in substitute for harsh overhead lighting. The dark red walls were filled with pieces of modern artwork that, according to the small signs below each painting, were created by local art students at New York University. It was surprisingly empty for an evening, but the people who were there were mostly young couples. The Doctor and River were seated in a far corner of the room by a hostess, who handed them menus, mumbled that their server would be a girl named Adyson, and disappeared.
A great crash and a high-pitched fit of giggles behind them made the happy couple realize how close they were to the kitchen.
A muffled yell came from within. "Adyson West! If you don't quit laughing at your coworkers' expense, I swear…"
"Oh shut it, Bradley. Neil's klutzy ass if funny, and you know it." A young girl's voice also drifted through the thin walls.
The doors then swung open, revealing a girl of her early twenties. Her dirty-blonde hair reached her waist and swayed slightly back and forth as she walked. Her blue-gray eyes were narrowed slightly, but she had a smug, confident look on her face that the Doctor realized favored River's when she had said something particularly smart. The girl tossed her hair over her shoulder and approached the Doctor and River's table.
"Hey, hey. I'm Adyson, and I'll have the lovely pleasure of serving you tonight and not spending time in the kitchen with my horrible boss and my idiot coworkers," she said, smiling and cocking her head to the side. "Can I get you started with some drinks?"
The Doctor and River chuckled. "We'll start with water."
"Awesome, I'll grab them and be right back," she said, twirling on the spot and dancing away.
"She's energetic," River noted.
The Doctor nodded and peered at his menu. Earth food was so limited in comparison to the other planets they had visited together. But alas, this was supposed to be a somewhat normal night! Human food would have to do.
Adyson returned, a glass of water in each hand. She set them on the table and pulled out a notepad and pen.
"Ready to order?"
"Sure, I'll have a steak. Medium, please. Baked potato on the side." River handed her the menu as Adyson scribbled on the notepad and turned to the Doctor.
"What about you?"
"Erm…" the Doctor had actually not looked at the menu at all. "I'll have… the same thing."
"Great, makes it easy for me. Two steaks, medium, baked potatoes. I'll go put that in, and of course, assuming that the dumbass we call our chef gets it right the first time, I'll be back soon." She smiled again, and with another toss of her hair, twirled on the ball of her foot and disappeared into the kitchen.
River smiled after her. "She seems like a lovely girl."
"What a firecracker. I bet her family acts the same… oh goodness, can you imagine an entire human family of people like her?" the Doctor waved his arms energetically while River laughed.
The light conversation continued while they waited on their food to arrive. Finally, the doors to the kitchen swung open yet again and Adyson came sauntering out, balancing two large platters of steak in her hands. She expertly delivered them in front of the Doctor and River.
"Well, you're in luck tonight. Our new kitchen chef, Neil, decided that he'd actually get your orders right the first time." She sighed, but smiled nonetheless. "He's… something else. Drops every other plate he picks up. Anyway, anything else I can get you?"
"Nothing for me, thanks," said River. "How about you, Sweetie?"
But the Doctor wasn't listening. He was poking at his steak with his fork while grinning broadly. He very obviously had no clue that Adyson was even still present at the table.
"River, did you know that on the planet Krojan they have steaks that look just like this? They aren't beef, of course, they're actually an animal called Ransufers…"
The Doctor was stopped short by the stern look on River's face. It was quite clearly a "what-the-hell-are-you-doing-there-is-a-human-present" face.
Adyson, on the other hand, had frozen. She stared at the Doctor, who was turning redder by the second.
"Did you just say… another planet?" she asked quietly.
"Umm…" the Doctor played with the napkin in his lap.
But Adyson clearly didn't notice the Doctor's slight discomfort. She stared straight at him as she tried to decipher what she had just heard.
"There are… other planets out there with… life? Ransufers or whatever?" Adyson said as she suddenly broke her gaze from the Doctor to the night sky outside the window. "Are you kidding me right now?"
"There's… well… no, I'm not kidding," the Doctor said. River, on the other hand, put her fork down as her face fell into her hands. "Here we go again," she muttered.
"Wait, wait, wait. I can't… I mean… you've got to be lying… but I just heard you… what? Sorry, what am I even thinking? I'm sorry I bothered you. I'll let you eat your dinner in peace." Adyson turned to go, but the Doctor grabbed her hand.
"Do you believe in life outside Earth?" he asked with a serious look on his face.
For the first time since they met her, Adyson was actually not prepared with a snappy comeback. Her mouth opened and closed like a fish a few times before she was able to give an audible answer.
"I… suppose. I always just had this feeling that there was something more than just… this. Just the Earth. Just us. I mean, maybe it's just me wanting more than my pathetic life, but I always just had the feeling that there was something else out there, somewhere." She continued to gaze out the window. "All that sky, there's got to be something else, you know?"
River was now shaking her head, which was still in her hands.
"Doctor, you're doing it again."
His head snapped up. "What?"
"You're doing it again."
"Boasting about space and time and all that."
"For your information, I hadn't even mentioned time travel yet…"
"Time travel?" Adyson choked out. "That's possible?"
"See?" said River. "There you go."
"God, either you're telling the truth or I'm really damn gullible," Adyson said.
"I don't think you're the gullible type," replied the Doctor.
"I… okay. Can you prove it to me?" Adyson said. "Sorry to sound rude or anything, but something like that has to be taken with a grain of salt until someone shows me otherwise."
"We can show you… after we eat," said River, slapping at the Doctor's arm. "I'm hungry and this steak is good. No way are we leaving at this very minute."
The Doctor looked slightly downtrodden, but still happy nonetheless. "You go wait on your other tables, and then we'll talk."
"Deal," said Adyson, suddenly jumping to life again. "My only other table I'm serving right now is almost clear. Be back soon."
With that, she scurried away.
"Doctor, we can't keep doing this," said River.
"What, making people realize that there's actually stuff out there?" He gestured towards the window. I see nothing wrong with helping one young girl realize that what she has always suspected is actually true.
River rolled her eyes. "Fine, just eat."
As he chewed on his steak, the Doctor couldn't help but wonder about their newfound friend. She had described her life as pathetic. Did she really mean that, or was that just post-teenage angst? With a little bit of guilt, he wondered if she would ever consider coming with him for a while. The TARDIS tended to get lonely when he had to take River back to Stormcage.
Stormcage… he shivered at the thought. A few years previously, this prison had begun to crack down on River in particular. They noticed that she was breaking out every single night. The certain specifics of the methods they used to try and contain her once and for all caused River and the Doctor to have to do one of the most painful things they had ever done-
The Doctor shook his head. This was no time to reminisce on the past. Regrets are regrets and time can be rewritten, but there are some situations that can't be no matter how much you want them to change.
River and the Doctor were just finishing their meals when Adyson returned.
"Do you… I mean… can you tell me more?" she asked slightly warily.
The Doctor immediately launched into a story about the planet Krojan, which was the one Adyson had overheard his speaking of before. He was just getting to a good description of the residents of the planet (who looked similar to pink chimpanzees) when there was a loud bang.
The kitchen door had swung open and hit the wall next to it, sending one of the paintings cascading to the ground. A large man with a black beard and a very angry expression came charging out of the kitchen, straight toward River and the Doctor's table.
"ADYSON! Why on Earth are you chatting it up with customers?" the man spat.
Adyson didn't miss a beat.
"I don't know, maybe because I have a good sense of customer service!" Adyson was not very tall, but she drew herself up to her full height to stare down the angry man. "Unlike you, who just bangs open the door and begins to scream at me in the middle of this lovely couple's dinner!"
The man looked slightly taken aback, but not surprised that Adyson had responded like this.
"You're not getting paid to chat with customers! You're getting paid to serve them food! You obviously aren't serving food at the moment; I saw you leaning over the table. Clearly talking! I'm so sick of you and your attitude! You're fired!" the man said, growing redder with each word.
"You know what? I quit!" Adyson took off her apron and with a swift flick of her wrist, threw it in her boss's face. "I've wanted to quit here for a while now! You say you're sick of my attitude, but I'm sick of yours! Good luck getting someone else to work in this dump!"
With that, Adyson pushed past him into the kitchen and emerged seconds later with a coat and a purse.
"By the way, I want my last paycheck. Stat." With a twirl, she was out the door.
River and the Doctor stared at each other with wide eyes before quickly throwing some money on the table and following Adyson out the door. Knowing that angry humans and other angry aliens can be quite similar, they did not want to be in the vicinity of this man at the moment.
They found Adyson outside, sitting on the curb in front of Central Park. Her fingers were knotted in her hair, and she was staring at the ground. She glanced up as she heard them approach.
She sniffed quickly. If she had been crying, there was no evidence now.
"Sorry you had to see that. My boss Bradley is a real ass. Well, former boss." Across her face was her signature smug smile. "So how about that time and space stuff?"
The Doctor smiled and extended a hand to help Adyson up, but she was already on her feet.
"Come on. I need to take River back anyway, we might as well make a side trip." The Doctor replied as they began to walk towards Central Park.
"River? Oh, that's your name isn't it? Sorry, I didn't catch yours earlier. Like I said before, I'm Adyson. Adyson West. You?"
"Just… the Doctor. Nothing else?"
"Nope. The Doctor!" He spread his arms wide and grinned.
"Okay…" Adyson glanced at River, who gave her a reassuring nod. "What's with the bow tie?"
"Bow ties are, and always will be, cool." The Doctor straightened his as he spoke.
Adyson nodded, chucking slightly as River rolled her eyes.
"So… do you have a spaceship or something?" Adyson asked as she looked around the park. "Because I don't see anything."
"Here we are!" The Doctor said, spreading his arms out again. "This, Adyson West, is the TARDIS."
"It's a big blue box," said Adyson skeptically. "You're telling me that this thing flies through space?"
"And time," the Doctor said with a wink. He opened the doors and ushered her inside.
The Doctor laughed as he watched Adyson's face change from smug and skeptical to absolute awe. After the initial stammers and descriptions of "it's bigger on the inside", Adyson seemed to take it all in.
"So. This thing. It's bigger on the inside. And it flies through space. And time. So you go to other planets in other times." Adyson listed as she ticked things off on her fingers.
"Pretty much. You catch on fast!" The Doctor nudged River. "Other people I've traveled with have taken forever to soak it all in. You hold the record right now, I think."
River shook her head. "Doctor, I really should get back… you know how they are…"
"Of course!" The Doctor clapped his hands. "Want to come with, Adyson?"
"Where are we going?" she asked while still exploring the console room of the TARDIS.
River looked at the Doctor, who instantly knew it was not the time to explain why they had to take her back to a prison. "Well, that's a long story. We're going to drop River off really fast and then I'll take you somewhere, how about that?"
"Okay, I suppose so," said Adyson.
"Great! Off we go!" With a few flicks of switches and knobs, the Doctor sent them hurdling into the time vortex.
Never in her life did Adyson West think that she would be knocked to the floor of a time machine that looks like a blue police box from the force of it being thrown into another time and planet. It even sounded ridiculous to her in her head.
But there was something so right about this. Adyson couldn't pinpoint it, but something about traveling felt like that's where she needed to be. She remembered her lonely life as a small child, staring out the window at the starless night sky, wishing that someone or something would whisk her away into a life of adventure. Or at least wishing that she could see the stars from her bedroom window. But unfortunately, you can't see stars in New York City. And she had been condemned to a life of loss and pain instead.
Adyson shook the thoughts out of her head. She was going to another planet; there was no need for depressing thoughts.
With the TARDIS's signature grinding noise, they came to a halt finally.
"Uhh, Adyson, you stay in here for a minute," said the Doctor. I'm going to walk River in-"
"Is this another planet? Can I come?" Adyson exclaimed, starting towards the door.
"Not yet!" The Doctor replied quickly, catching her arm as she ran to the door. "This one's not safe. Stay here for a minute then I'll take you somewhere else."
"Doctor, I can take care of myself. I have been for most of my life. Don't ever tell me I can't do something, because I can and will prove you wrong." Adyson crossed her arms and raised her eyebrows.
"Seriously, this won't even take me five minutes. Just wait here," said the Doctor.
"Fine," Adyson said with a huff.
River hugged Adyson goodbye. "I'm sure I'll see you soon," she said. "Have fun with the Doctor!" With that, they both slipped out the door.
Adyson was still irritated. She did not like being told what to do or what was and wasn't safe. However, before she had the chance to think about it, the Doctor was back.
"So, where to, Adyson?" the Doctor asked. "We could go for a little joy ride somewhere."
"Do you travel alone?" Adyson said suddenly.
The Doctor was shocked. "My life is quite… complicated. Especially now."
"How so? Are you and River together?" Adyson asked.
"We're actually… married. And it's a really long story." The Doctor began to switch a few knobs and push some buttons. "You know, I know this lovely planet that is full of mountains that I think you'd like…"
"You never answered my question. Do you travel alone?"
The Doctor paused, leaning his head on the console.
"Yes. Yes, I do travel alone."
"Need some company?" Adyson asked. "I know it's kind of quick and you haven't even taken me anywhere yet, but I figured, you know…"
"You would come with me?" The Doctor asked.
"I sure as hell would! You try explaining to my landlord that I won't be able to pay rent this month because I just lost my job. He's a bigger bastard than my old boss was. And you have no idea how long I've waited for something like this to happen to me," Adyson said as she gazed around the control room. "Me and my pathetic little life."
"What do you mean?" The Doctor asked.
"Well, my life is quite… complicated," Adyson said with a little smirk and a cock of her head.
The Doctor rolled his eyes. "Well, where do you want to go first?"
"Adyson West. We can go to all of time and space. Anywhere and everywhere. Any star or planet that ever was or ever will be. Where do you want to start?"