(A.N.) Long wait, I know. But my fanfiction focus was shifted on a little Doctor Who Christmas story that I never ended up finishing/posting. Anyway, the Christmas special hit me with a big burst of Who-inspiration, so on we go!
One of these days, the Doctor was really going to have to remember which of Jupiter'smoons that street market had been on so he could vigorously thank the three-eared fellow who had sold him what he had referred to as Trickster Parchment, and the Doctor had quickly renamed Psychic Paper.
It was this most marvellous of inventions that allowed the Doctor - a man dressed in a bow tie, braces and tweed - to claim to be a member of the Fire Brigade and have actual members of the Fire Brigade believe him. In turn, this was how the Doctor was able to wander the smoky ruins of Ryan's school, while firemen finished putting out the last stubborn flames that clung to rubble. He was able to listen in on conversations between the firemen, who remarked on how this fire was very strange, and early examinations were not characteristics of a gas explosion. If that was true, they asked, then what in god's name would cause a school to explode so massively?
The Doctor wondered this also.
He started to speculate, build theories upon theories then stack them all up next to each other to run through with that speed-of-light brain of his. But then he heard something else that made him stop. One of the Firemen had asked if anyone had been to the small office building next door to check if everyone was alright.
"I'll go do it," said the Doctor.
The Firemen looked at him in surprise, not seeing him sneak up behind them and eavesdrop on their discussion.
"Who are you," said one of them crossly, looking at the Doctor's attire. "Are you supposed to be here?"
The Doctor merely smiled, and reached inside his pocket again for that oh so wonderful black wallet of his.
It was a strange feeling of nostalgia that overcame Ryan, as he stepped through his front door and into the hallway of his house.
Though it was true that keeping track of time whilst travelling through it was easier said than done, Ryan reckoned he'd been in the TARDIS for no more than three days. But in the three days since they had stood in this hallway, his feet had touched down in places he'd never dreamed they would. They had strolled along the streets of Manhattan and then almost seen them destroyed. They'd walked across alien soil that could have gave out under him at a moment's notice. And they had ran. Oh, boy, how his feet had ran like they had never ran before. So, maybe it had only been three days since he'd stood in this hall, but his feet had been beyond the stars and back since then.
"You go upstairs love," said his mum, as she and his dad entered the house behind him. "Get yourself cleaned up."
Ryan nodded. He waited a few seconds, then said gently, "Mum, I can't really do that if you don't let go of me."
His Mum released the protective grip she'd had latched onto his shoulder, and he walked up the stairs to his bathroom.
Ryan was in the shower when it hit him. This dirt, these bits of soil being washed off of his face and out of his hair right now, they weren't from the field by his house. They were from Cantare, and from the compound. A horribly burnt-brown spec was stuck to his wrist, and he realised it was probably a piece of scabby skin from one of the Nothing.
He clenched his eyes shut and tried to will the image of the bloody-eyed zombies running towards him out of his mind. He focused on the sound of the water raining down on him instead of the memory of their howling screams. Evetually, he realised he'd been standing in the shower for close to twenty minutes, completely still and with hands covering his face.
He got out and dried himself, leaving his clothes in a pile on the bathroom floor where he hoped his mother would throw them away so he'd never have to lay eyes on them ever again. He dressed himself in warm, clean clothes, and collapsed face first into his bed, where he was asleep within minutes.
The building the firemen spoke of, a small, one storey office complex that was adjacent to the back of Ryan's school, was unharmed. Just out of range from the blast. Not a scratch or even a shattered window. The building was completely fine.
"Too fine," said the Doctor, standing outside of the offices and staring at it intently. Then he heard himself and sighed. "Did I just say 'too fine'? Ugh!"
Still, the point stood. There was something all together fishy about this building. Not to anyone else's mind, of course. To anyone else it was a nameless, faceless, office building. But to the Doctor, it was a giant red flag. A glaring alarm bell. A structure whose every brick set off his spidey-sense.
He reached into his jacket, retrieved the Psychic Paper for the third time today, and started approaching the front door. There was a desk in the front room, and through the large windows that panelled the entrance he could see a mild-mannered receptionist sitting behind it, a man who would no doubt have waived him through into the building without a second glance at the black wallet.
But then the Doctor stopped, because someone else had appeared. A young woman had poked her fiery red-haired head out the doors behind the receptionist desk, spoken loudly and concisely to the receptionist, then disappeared back the way she had came.
The Doctor cocked an eyebrow.
"Well, well, well," he murmured. "Fancy meeting you here, Miss Blitz."
The bloody eyes of a Nothing locked on to his. A decaying hand clawed out for his face and…
Ryan woke up with a start. He sat up straight in bed, heart thundering beneath his chest.
"Dream," Ryan told himself. "Bad dream."
The thought that nightmares from his time in the TARDIS might be a regular night time guest from now on briefly came to him, but he quickly stood up in search of something to distract from it. Something fun, he decided. Something he liked. He looked around him, at the average bedroom most seventeen year old boys would have. Books, comics, DVDs, videogames. He walked to his shelf and flicked through them. A game he had loved, about a time cop at war with aliens, caught his eye. Ryan had actually travelled in time, now. He'd fought aliens. The game probably wouldn't be much fun anymore.
He turned away with a tinge of frustration, and in doing so he noticed something else. On the other side of his room was his desk, which housed his computer and, more importantly, a small piece of paper. Ryan, of course, knew exactly what that piece of paper was, yet he still crossed the room and picked it up.
It was the note that the Doctor had left for them on the morning after the night they had first met. Ryan, at the time assuming he'd never see the Time Lord again, had kept it. In the six weeks between that morning and the day he flew away, he'd read it many times. Marvelled at what an experience he'd lived through. Longed to meet this magic man again, so as to properly thank him, for everything the Doctor had done.
He scrunched up the piece of paper and threw it into the waste basket. Since that night, 'everything the Doctor had done' included stuff he was not to be thanked for.
That tiny, one floored office building had an elevator. This elevator travelled ten feet underground to a narrow hallway. At the end of this hallway was a blank, non-descript door. On the other side of this door, was the most secret and technologically advanced government-run laboratory that planet Earth had ever seen.
It was shaped like half a theatre, with one half covered in black reflective tiles that curved around to meet in a wall, as though the whole room was to be looking in this direction at all times. The curved part of the room housed the work stations. Six tiers of levels like rows of an audience, desks and computers all focused forwards. On the floor level was a raised platform; a stage, almost. And the star of the show, was a machine. A very, very, powerful machine.
Also on the floor level was a door that led to an office. This office belonged to Edward Whilhelm. He was the reason everyone was here, the whole project was his baby, and so it was only natural for him to be as close as possible to it at all times.
Inside his office, sitting behind his desk, Edward nodded nervously to no one.
"I'm aware of this," he said.
There was no audible reply, and yet Edward continued to nod.
"As I've already said, we've taken care of it. You don't have to worry so much, I -"
He flinched quite suddenly, like he'd been whipped across the face.
"I understand," he said. "I'll be more careful in future, I promise." He sat still for a few seconds, listening. "Hello? Are you still there?"
There was, as there had been the entire time, silence. Edward sighed, holding a hand to his chest to quell his pounding heart.
"Hey, boss," came Blitz's chirpy voice. She stepped halfway through the door and caught sight of Wilhelm rushing to compose himself. "You okay?"
"What have I said about knocking, Blitz?"
"I'm sorry, I just… you sure you're alright?"
Wilhelm straightened his tie. "I'm fine."
"Have our, er, lord and masters been in touch about your little glitch?"
Wilhelm could only stare dumbly at her.
"Our… our lord and masters?"
Blitz frowned. "The government," she clarified.
Wilhelm sighed again, this time with great relief. "Yes, they've been in touch. They understood. No one was inside, no one was hurt, they can make it look like an accident."
Blitz nodded, still looking at Wilhelm weirdly. "Right. So, back to work then?"
"Back to work," he confirmed.
Blitz closed the door behind her with a furrowed brow. But this expression soon fell away, just as soon as she turned around, and her eyes landed on the machine. The machine that seemed to continually startle you even on the hundredth occasion you looked at it. The machine that made you feel sick; and though you told yourself you didn't, you knew exactly why this was. Because of what it could do.
As Blitz climbed the steps of the different levels of workstations, she did not see the man watching her from the other side of the room.
A ordinary, one storey office building that happened to have a top-secret government base hidden beneath it. The Doctor smiled. He had hit the jack-pot.
End of Chapter Three.