Summary: The guys in Def Leppard have seen some very strange things over the course of their 10-year recording career. However, this madman with a blue box is definitely the strangest thing they've ever come across. For one, the man claims to be an alien. For another, his police box is bigger on the inside and can apparently travel through time and space. More than that, he's lonely and wants them to come with him. This cannot be good for all involved—especially the Terror Twins.
Notes: This is not going to become a new series. No. A thousand times no . . .
I have no control over the plot bunnies anymore. *sigh* And besides, the "lonely god" has met Janis Joplin, so why not Def Leppard?
"Madman with a Box"
Flashing lights, countless faces, and the sound of their music often lifted Joe and the rest of his band into a high that no drug could ever match. As he bounced around the stage, occasionally sharing the mike with Sav—his bassist—or Phil or Steve—his guitarists—Joe couldn't help but catch sight of an odd-looking audience member. Granted, this was the early nineties; but still, who wore a brown suit, an overcoat, and converse to a rock concert? Great hair though: dark brown, tousled, sideburns . . . And Joe was paying attention to that detail because . . .?
He shrugged it off and continued on with the show. Besides, when he next looked, the strange man was gone.
Joe didn't think much about the stranger until the band was backstage, having a meet-and-greet after the show. He wasn't entirely sure if the others had seen him, or if he had just imagined the whole thing. After touring and playing in dimly-lit stadiums with moving lights, the faces in the audience blurred together. So he didn't know why this one face had stood out.
"Hello," a voice said, and Joe looked up to find he was looking at the man he'd spotted earlier. "Great show, absolutely brilliant. I'm Doctor John Smith, by the way." He was shaking all five members' hands now, a wild grin on his face. A shadow crossed his face and the smile faded when he reached Steve. Quietly, almost too softly for Joe to hear, Smith whispered, "I'm so, so sorry. If there was anything I could do, I would, but it's a fixed point. It's one of those rare times where I can't interfere. With anything else I would, but . . ."
Both Phil and Steve looked at him in bewilderment. Phil asked, "What are you on about?"
"Ask your mate," John replied, already looking around him. "You haven't seen anything strange happening around here recently, have you?"
"Aside from you, you mean?" Joe blurted. Too late, he realized he should have kept his mouth shut when that dark brown gaze turned on him. For having such a young face, those eyes were old, incredibly old, and suddenly filled with so much emotion—anger, pain, loss—that Joe involuntarily took a step back.
"Yeah, aside from me." There was that smile again, so very disarming. How could one person have so many mood swings in such a short window of time?
Sav shrugged. "We're in a rock band," he pointed out. "We've seen loads of insane stuff."
"Meh. Not as much as I have, I bet." John glanced over his shoulder, where several impatient fans were waiting to greet the band. "Um, sorry. I should go. Don't want to be run over. No one does, really. See you lot later."
He was gone before Def Leppard could even blink. Then they were swarmed, and it was an hour until they could return backstage to their dressing room. Somehow, none of them were surprised to find the messy-haired John Smith lunging in one of the sofas. What did surprise them, however, was the big blue box parked in the corner.
"H-how did—?" Rick started, eyes wide as he stared at the box.
"I parked her," John said casually, lurching into a sitting position. (Joe noticed he'd changed clothes into a T-shirt and ripped jeans—very casual wear for him, it seemed, though he was still wearing Converse.)
"Her?" Phil asked, gaze flickering from the blue box to the stranger.
"Yeah. She's mine. And it's not like you haven't given your car a gender."
"Fair point," Steve admitted, flashing an amused smirk at his Terror Twin. Phil's returning look was half-annoyed, half-amused; then he broke into a grin.
"How did you get past security?" Rick asked, bringing Joe's attention back to the spiky-haired man in their room who shouldn't even have made it inside there in the first place.
"Well, no one really notices a blue police box materializing inside an empty dressing room, do they? 'Specially when they have other places to be. And I used this," Smith said, pulling an old leather wallet out of his jeans pocket and flashing paper that Joe could have sworn was blank for a second. He blinked, and it read: Doctor John Smith, UNIT. (UNIT stood for United Nations Intelligence Taskforce, Joe remembered.) "The paper's low-level psychic. Shows them whatever I want them to see."
"You're not really with UNIT, are you?" Sav said. It was more of a statement than a question.
"Nah. Well, I used to work for them, but that was, oh, six lifetimes ago. Well, maybe I'm working for them now in a previous incarnation. Time travel—it's confusing. I can't cross my own timestream, y'know. The universe would probably explode."
"Sorry, what?" Joe spoke up, wanting to see if he'd heard right. "Time travel?"
"It's possible. Besides, people don't understand time," John said.
"Then what is it?" all five Lepps said in unison.
"Complicated. It's very complicated."
By now, the various members of the band had drifted to comfortable places in the room: Steve and Phil were on the other sofa, with Rick sitting next to them; Sav was leaning against one of their lockers; and Joe was leaning against the wall with his legs crossed and arms folded. The lead singer said, "Try explaining it for us then."
John sighed. "How do I put this? Oh, got it! Okay, so, people assume that time is a straight progression of cause to effect; but actually, from a non-linear non-subjected viewpoint, it's more like a ball of wibbly-wobbly timey-whimey . . . stuff."
"I think that sentence got away from you, mate," Sav said with a smirk.
"It got away from me, yeah."
Joe seized on something the man had said earlier. "Hang on—'six incarnations'? What's all that about?"
Doctor John Smith sighed and facepalmed. "Can't believe I said that. My gob says stuff before my thick brain catches up. First off, my name's not John Smith; it's the Doctor—not really, but it's what I go by."
"Doctor who?" Joe asked.
"No, it's just the Doctor."
"So . . . you're not human, then," Phil said slowly.
"Nope," the Doctor said cheerfully.
"But . . . you look human," said Steve.
"No, you look Time Lord. We were here first."
"Time Lord," Rick said faintly.
"Yep. I'm from Gallifrey. Not that it means anything to you lot, of course. You wouldn't even know about it. 'Sides, you humans are still searching the moon and have only just sent the Hubble Space Telescope. Hang on—this is the year 1990, right?"
"Good. Otherwise, it wouldn't be the first time the TARDIS has sent me to the wrong year and place." The Doctor looked strangely relieved.
"TARDIS?" Sav asked.
"Yeah. That's this police box here. It stands for Time And Relative Dimension in Space. She's my ship."
"But . . . it's a police box," Rick pointed out.
The Doctor rolled his eyes. "Thank you for pointing out the obvious, Sherlock. Anyway, she didn't always used to look like a 1960s police box, but her chameleon circuit is broken. Now she's stuck like that—and I'm rather quite fond of that shape. And don't knock the TARDIS. She's sensitive."
Joe's mind was scrabbling for some way to make sense of this whole conversation. The only question that came to mind was, "Why are you even here?"
The Doctor smiled again. "I just wanted to see you lot in concert. Best British rock band ever, right up with Queen and Led Zeppelin . . . How could I resist? Love the darker songs and B-sides, by the way; you should play them live more often. 'Billy's Got a Gun,' 'Too Late for Love,' 'Die Hard the Hunter,' 'Desert Song,' 'Fractured Love', the list goes on. . . . I'm rambling, aren't I? Sorry, people usually stop me when I'm rambling." He chuckled a little.
The Leppards just stared, occasionally blinking when their eyes began watering.
"So," the Doctor said suddenly, breaking the silence, "do you want to come with me?" He jumped off the couch and opened one of the doors to the blue box, shielding the inside so the band didn't have a clear view of what was inside.
"How can we all fit in there?" Sav asked. (Personally, Joe thought that was a fair question.)
"You'll see." There was that grin again, though this time it looked a bit smug.
Before any of the Lepps could move, there was a sudden loud noise from outside the door—Joe thought he heard a voice cry, "Exterminate!". The Doctor—naturally—went over to the door, opened it a tiny bit, peeked outside, and then slammed the door shut. He pulled out a metal device and aimed it at the lock. The end glowed blue as a high-pitched whirrring noise filled the room. Then the Doctor was running towards the band and the blue box, yelling, "Inside the TARDIS! Now!"
For once, there were no questions. It wasn't until the doors shut behind the Doctor that Joe turned around and took in his surroundings.
"Oh my God," Sav breathed, voicing Joe's thoughts exactly.
"It's bigger on the inside," said Rick.
"Wicked," Phil and Steve said in unison, flashing excited grins.
"Yeah, Time Lord technology," the Doctor said from where he was flipping levers and knobs and whatnot on the mushroom-shaped console in the middle of the room. The transparent column in the middle of it glowed green; large tubes or pistons or whatever—Joe didn't know what to call it—began to move up and down. A grinding, grating noise filled the room. "And in answer to any questions, we are currently flying in the Time Vortex."
"The what?" Sav said.
"What, didn't I mention that this travels in space and time? I thought I did when I told you what 'TARDIS' stood for."
"Well, this is just great," Joe muttered sarcastically, loud enough for his bandmates to hear. "We've been kidnapped by a bloody time-traveling alien."
"Yep." The Doctor was wearing a maniacal grin as he dashed around the console. Finally he stopped and crashed on a yellow jump seat not far from what looked like a tiny TV screen, or maybe a computer. He laced his hands behind his head and studied the band, looking almost pleased with himself. "Well, I'd say this is the largest number of companions I've picked up at one time in my nine hundred years of existence. Possibly the most famous, too."
The band just stared, unable to find anything to say to that. Sav broke the silence by tilting his chin at the device in the Doctor's hand (that he was casually throwing up into the air and catching) and asking, "What is that?"
"What, this?" The Doctor glanced down, as if surprised to find he was still holding it. "It's my sonic screwdriver."
"A sonic screwdriver," Steve repeated, eyes glued to the screwdriver.
"Yeah, a screwdriver that's sonic. Haven't you ever been bored?"
"Do you really want an answer to that question?"
"Not really. So! Where do you want to go? All of time and space just waiting for. Past, future, other planets . . ."
Joe met Sav's eyes, who looked at Rick, who looked at Phil, who looked at Steve. Steve, for his part, exchanged an amused—and slightly disturbing—smirk with his fellow Terror Twin. "Surprise us," the lanky guitarist told the Doctor.
The Time Lord sprang up from his seat, sonic screwdriver back in his jeans pocket, and yanked down a lever. "I know just where to go," he said with yet another wild smile. "Allons-y!"