(A.N.) Big thanks for all the reviews, they mean a lot. :) If you'll allow me for a moment to fantasy-cast like I did with Tina Fey as the Mayor back in Episode 3, I'd just like to mention that if you picture Felicia Day when reading Blitz's lines, it will make everything better. Because even if my words fall flat, you're picturing Felicia Day, and she's all kinds of awesome. So win-win, right?
Here's chapter two...
Ryan had been a good distance away from the actual building that exploded, but he felt as dizzy as if he had been standing right next to it. That was his school. For seven years he'd walked across that field, stepped through the gates and spent nine hours inside. That was the building he made all his friends in. It's where Ashley Campbell fell down the stairs outside the maths room and broke her collarbone. It's where Daniel Jacobs and his gang set off four separate stink bombs in a co-ordinated Halloween prank. It was the building where he first read Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy in an English lesson, never knowing how useful it's tips would prove to be.
It was the building now collapsing in front of his very eyes.
He stood with the crowd of people outside the gates. By some miracle there had been no one inside the school when it erupted. The teachers had been just about to let the twenty or so students who had already arrived through the tall electric gates to pick up their results, when they all been thrown backwards by the blast. The group that had been shaking with excitement was now shaking for an entirely different reason. They all watched the third floor crumble in on itself, become enveloped by flames, and then cease to be a floor at all.
There were sirens approaching at the end of the road, and it was only when he heard them that Ryan realised something. The morning that he'd flown away with the Doctor - this morning - he'd been walking to school like everyone else, and he hadn't been alone.
"Craig!" he called out suddenly. "Tom? Adam!"
"Ryan?" came a hoarse voice behind him.
He turned, and breathed a sigh of relief when he saw his three friends - ash and dirt covering parts of their clothes and faces, but still very much alive. He rushed over to them.
"Are you okay?"
"Fine," said Craig, and Ryan realised it was his hoarse voice that had spoken. To hear Craig; cocky and confident and rarely without something to say; speaking like this was surreal. "We'd just got here when… when…"
"I was about to push," said Tom, staring at the gates like they were not of this world. "Nudge past everyone else so I could get in first."
"Ryan, where did you go?" asked Adam, who cradled a sprained elbow against his chest.
How, in any situation let alone the one they were in now, was Ryan supposed to answer that question?
"I…" he stuttered.
"Excuse me, Ryan, can I just borrow you for a second?"
It was the Doctor, who Ryan had completely forgotten about. He placed a hand on Craig's shoulder comfortingly, but motioned for Ryan to follow him. His friends gave him a puzzled look as he and the man they'd never seen before approached the school gates.
"I can't open them," said the Doctor.
"The gates," he said. "The sonic won't even budge them."
Ryan searched for the reaction he thought the Doctor was after, but then decided there wasn't one.
"So what?" was his exasperated reply.
The Doctor frowned at him. Clearly Ryan was not as bothered by the sonic's performance issues as he was.
"It's a sonic screwdriver. And those are school gates from Earth. They should open before I've even taken the thing out of my pocket."
"Well maybe it's broken."
"Or maybe someone doesn't want me getting through the gates."
Ryan stared at him in disbelief until it made his eyes hurt, and he rubbed them tiredly.
"…what?" asked the Doctor. "What's wrong."
"What's wrong? That's my school! Those are my friends! My friends have just nearly died because my school exploded. I don't have time to think about people stopping your sonic screwdriver from opening gates."
The Doctor looked around, as if noticing for the first time the people who'd been closest to the blast. They were standing as Ryan had been, gazing at the burning building in horror. There were people still too shaken to stand, others clinging to one another in despair as ambulances and fire engines arrived at the scene.
"I'm sorry," he said quietly. "I didn't mean to - "
"No, I'm sorry," said Ryan. It seemed his emotional reflex lately was to blame everything on the Doctor, and he knew that wasn't fair. "I'm just… I'm still exhausted from what happened in the compound. And now this, it's all - "
There was a metal clang and the gates started to slowly pull themselves open. The sonic had finally found a way through, and now Ryan and the Doctor were looking at the open entryway, across the schoolyard and up to the still crumbling shell that had been his school.
"That could very well have been a gas explosion," said the Doctor. "Or an electrical fire that triggered a gas explosion, or any number of perfectly innocent reasons. But those gates should have opened five minutes ago, Ryan, and they didn't. These are the things I notice, and I can't ignore them."
Ryan, of course, knew what the Doctor wanted to do. He wanted to run across that field and burst into the building. He wanted to search the whole area, leave no stone un-sonic-ed, until he found some semblance of proof to back up his suspicions of foul play. And, while he would certainly want to bring the perpetrators (if there were any) to justice, the most important thing to the Doctor, the thing that his unbelievable impossible brain just always needed to know, was why? Why did this school blow up? Why here, why now? All of his adventures were fascinating stories, and he was always racing to the end so he could connect all the dots.
The Doctor was running across the schoolyard. No question about it. The only thing in question, was whether Ryan would run with him.
Then he heard her.
"Ryan? Ryan? Craig! Oh, boys, you're alright! Where's Ryan?"
He stared at his mother like he hadn't seen her for decades. She saw him and sobbed, and he was by her side instantly.
"We heard the noise of it!" she said through tears. "It shook the kitchen windows, I thought you were…"
"Mum, I'm fine," he told her, allowing her to wrap him up in a hug that rivaled the bone-crushing squeeze of the Doctor's.
"Ryan," said his dad, standing beside his mum and looking pale as a ghost. "What was it, son?"
"I don't know, I didn't really see."
Other parents had appeared now, enveloping their children as Policemen tried to move everyone away from the school.
"Let's get you home," said his mum, putting an arm around his shoulders and pulling him away.
"Karen, maybe the Paramedics should look him over," said his dad.
They argued. Ryan stopped listening. He turned back as his Mum led him away. The smoke from the explosion had crossed the schoolyard, and now a thick black cloud was drifting out of the open gates. But even through the cloud, Ryan could see that the Doctor was gone.
They didn't look her in the eye, Blitz noticed. This laboratory was staffed only by the most brilliant minds in their respective fields. The men and women in white coats had Masters, PhDs, and degrees the general public weren't even aware of. And yet every single one of them was painfully intimidated by the twenty-four year old American in the corner, who was smarter than all thirty of them put together yet had never finished high school.
This tickled Blitz.
"Excuse me," she said, stopping a passing scientist who had been pretending to stare at notes on his iPad while risking glances in her direction. But now, he was forced to look at her, leant back in her chair with her sneaker-clad feet resting on the desk (the desk that was not so subtly placed in the top corner of the lab, a good five feet away from everyone else). "Hi!" she said brightly. "Listen, do you know how to get a charged particle to accelerate at the speed of light?"
"Uhh," said the scientist awkwardly. He prodded and poked at his iPad screen like it would help him in some way. Blitz couldn't contain herself any longer, and giggled.
"Lol, I'm just kidding, I worked that out when I was thirteen. Yeah, I say 'lol' out loud, what of it? Keep walking!"
The scientist scurried back to his desk like a mouse, and Blitz watched him with intense delight.
"Ah, the British," she sang to herself.
"Are we planning on working today?" came the voice of Dr Wilhelm, and he appeared from behind her, rifling through a stack of papers he carried in his arms.
"You mean apart from fixing your little technical hitch and saving every life on this planet? Nah, I think I've filled my quota for the day."
Wilhelm sighed and put the papers away. He pulled out a pair of thick-rimmed glasses and placed them on his face to look at her.
"Blitz, I'm beginning to think you're not 100% committed to this project."
Blitz grinned. "You wanna hear what I think you're a 100% of?"
Doctor Wilhelm's expression turned from weary to severe.
"Miss Gregory - " (Blitz scowled at the mention of her real name, as intended.) "You are a brilliant young mind. You are gifted and creative, and more intelligent than I think you even know. But you are also lazy, ill-mannered, and pointlessly rebellious."
Blitz dropped her feet off the desk and sat up straight in her chair.
"I'm also the chick who stopped the world ending today," she said pointedly. "Technically, that makes me a superhero, and it kind of gives me the right to a five minute break."
She pulled her chair in and opened up her laptop, declaring the conversation over.
Wilhelm studied her for a moment. He sighed again, and seemingly gave up as he started to walk away. But after only a few steps, he stopped. He looked at her over his shoulder; super-serious and entirely more dramatic than the situation called for.
"We're part of something special here, Blitz," he told her. "Every person in this room is going to be remembered for years to come. Talked about. So watch how you're perceived, because generations to come will perceive you the exact same way. We're going to change - "
"Just one second, Doc," replied Blitz, holding up a finger and pulling her blackberry out of her pocket. She dialed a number, and the staff phone on her desk began to ring. Wilhelm was already storming away sullenly when she picked it up and began a conversation with herself. "Hello? Sorry, Doc, gotta take this. Why yes I have just been given a boring speech! However did you know?"
End of Chapter Two