Fandom(s): Doctor Who (modern)
Characters: David Tennant, Eleventh Doctor, Amy Pond, Rory Williams
Pairing(s): None (well, Amy and Rory)
Rating: PG, maybe PG-13
Warnings: Character death
Genre: Sci-fi, adventure
Summary: While filming his final specials for Doctor Who, David Tennant finds himself in the TARDIS, face-to-face with a future incarnation of the character he portrays, his childhood hero. When he discovers that he can't return to his own world, he must determine his place in this strange yet familiar universe.
Word count (chapter): 2355
Master post link: Master post
David awoke to see the face of Rory floating above him. The young man immediately assured him that he was fine, that he had caught him and he'd been out for less than a minute. David spotted the police box doors behind the nurse and jolted up into a sitting position, pointing at them, astonishment and disbelief plain on his face.
"That was, that was, uh, uh, uh..." His mind was whirling. Did he really see what he thought he saw?
"Yeah," Rory nodded. "You're in the TARDIS now. It's a spaceship."
"I know what the TARDIS is." Even through his confusion, his annoyance bubbled up. The TARDIS had been a part of his life since he was three years old, and part of British culture for far longer. How could anyone in Britain not know what a TARDIS is? A tiny voice in the back of his mind reminded him that it wasn't Britain on the other side of those doors. "Could you... Could you show me... that... again?" He jerked his head towards the doors.
"Sure," came Amy's voice from behind him. She skirted around Rory and threw the doors open.
David wasn't sure how long he sat there staring. The spacescape was beautiful: deep blackness with more stars than he had ever seen, with a swathe of a galaxy (was it his own?) cutting across the upper quarter of the panorama. The cold hard floor under his legs and fingers reassured him as he gazed at the universe.
"That's... brilliant." He felt a tug at his heart, a longing to explore every star and planet he could see, a desire that had burned within him since he was a lad of three. It reminded him of a character he was known for playing, and that thought brought him back to the present. "If... If this is the TARDIS, then..." He twisted his torso to look up the ramp at the man in tweed. "...then you must be the Doctor." His jaw dropped.
The Doctor's face lit up and he pointed at David. "There! I told you he'd figure it out! Without all that 'I am he and he is me' nonsense."
David shook his head violently. "No! No no no no no, no no!"
The Doctor looked delighted. “Sounding more like me all the time! Well, like him me. Not like me me."
David jumped to his feet and strode up the stairs to get in the Doctor's face, drawing himself up to his full height to tower over him. "No! Doctor Who is a programme on the telly!" He prodded the man in the chest for emphasis. "I am an actor who plays an incarnation of the Doctor. It is not real!"
Amy followed him and flung her arm toward the doors. "Then how do you explain that? Or this?" She pointed at the emergency programme, which was still looping next to them. Then she jerked a thumb at the Doctor. "Or him, for that matter? He's mental enough to need his own explanation."
"Oi!" The Doctor looked offended.
David faltered and stepped back. There was too much he couldn't explain. He felt a little faint and put a hand out to the console to steady himself. The cool metal gave him a smidgen of rationality. "I don't know."
"Well," replied the Doctor. "I do. Rory, he's human, right?"
"Yeah. I checked his heart."
"Then I must have used a chameleon arch to become human and hid myself away in that alternate universe. Interesting choice, to become an actor playing myself. I suppose I know myself best, don’t I?”
David rolled his eyes and threw his arms up in frustration. “I’m NOT you!” he roared. “I’m a human! Always have been! There is NO way I’m a Time Lord, even with a chameleon arch.”
“Ah!” The Doctor pointed at him in triumph. “But you know what a chameleon arch is! No way a human could know that. Even Amy and Rory don't know what it is."
“Except that my character used one in ‘Human Nature’ to hide from the Family!” David countered. They both paused, staring wide-eyed at each other, the gears turning in both brains showing plainly on their faces.
“What?” asked Rory. “What’s going on?”
The Doctor’s eyes narrowed. “Just how closely does your programme follow my life?”
David slapped a hand to his mouth. “Oh, that is creepy.”
“What exactly happened in this episode where you used a chameleon arch?” the Doctor inquired.
David thought back. It had been a couple of years since the filming of that show. “Let’s see. The Doctor - my character - is being chased by the Family and uses the arch to make himself human…”
“...as a schoolteacher in 1913, with Martha as my maid…”
“...He falls in love with Joan Redfern just as the Family catches up to him…”
“...and when Tim Latimer returned the watch, I had to decide to save the village by becoming a Time Lord again…”
“...Then he deals with the Family, and returns to Joan, but she refuses to travel with him.”
Amy and Rory stared at each of them as they spoke. “This is disturbing,” Amy murmured.
David waved his hands to dispel the atmosphere. “That’s all part of the story and would be known to anyone who’d seen the episode, really.”
The Doctor shook his head. “Did you hold Joan’s hand over the watch? Was the vision in the show?”
David hesitated, then nodded. “The wedding. Becoming parents. The children…”
“Two boys and a girl. Then, the grandchildren…”
“Uh, there were no grandchildren in that scene.”
“Yes, there were. We saw our children all grown up, with grandchildren."
David blanched. “There were the adult children and grandchildren in a very early version of the script, but they were cut out because we didn’t have the actors. I suppose we don’t film everything that happens to you.”
“Exactly. But only Joan and I know about that. She would never have told anyone, and it wasn’t in Verity’s novel. There’s no way for you to know that.”
“Except if our programme is accurate.” David exhaled heavily and ran his hand through his hair. “That is proper creepy.”
Rory stepped forward. “So wait. You’re saying that in your universe, there’s a programme on the telly that tells the story of the Doctor’s life? And you played the Doctor in it?”
The Doctor answered for David. “Yes. And he looks exactly like I did in my previous incarnation. And that also means, you’re on the telly, too.”
Amy’s eyes went wide. “Oh my god. I was in my nightie on Starship UK!”
But what Rory said finally sunk in with David. “You said ‘my universe’? You mean, we’re in an alternate universe now?”
“Oh, yes,” the Doctor replied. “The TARDIS fell through a rift, came out right over you on the highway. We had time enough to pull your car in before you hit that pile, but then we came right back home.”
The words David had heard earlier drifted back to him. I’m busy! I’ve got to close the rift. “You sealed the crack! And there’s no way back, is there? You kidnapped me from my own universe!”
“This is your own universe, Doctor. You’re me, remember?”
David was about to scream back that he wasn’t him, but realised that if this man really was the Doctor, he wouldn’t be able to get him to change his mind; if there was anything he knew from thirty-plus years of watching the show, it was that the Doctor was a stubborn git. He changed his tactic. “You snatched me right out of my life! I’ve got a family, and a career, and, and, and...! You take me back right now!”
“Can’t. The rift is closed. No way back. Only thing you can do is open your watch and become me again.”
David smacked his forehead with both hands. “I don’t have a watch! Because I am NOT YOU!”
“Of course you do.” Dashing down the ramp, the Doctor grabbed David’s overnight bag and started rifling through it. “You just don’t remember because of the perception filter. But you would’ve kept it with you anyway and I’m sure it’s right… There’s no watch in here.”
“Because I don’t have one!"
“"Maybe it’s in the car?” He dropped the bag.
“No, because I. Don’t. Have. One!” David stared at the ceiling in frustration. “And anyway, my car is stuck in a different universe!”
“No, it’s here. We pulled it in here, remember?” The Doctor sprinted out of the console room.
David collapsed to the floor and held his head in his hands. “This is insane.”
Amy sat down next to him. “Sanity kind of gets checked at the door when you enter the TARDIS.”
“Don’t I know it. I keep telling myself it’s time to wake up.” He hit his head with the heel of his hand a few times.
“Oi, stop that.” Amy grabbed his wrist. “It isn’t going to help. This is all real.”
“Oh, David, you’re really going over the edge now. Calling up a hot Scottish redhead to tell yourself you’re not crazy.”
“Hey, that’s my fiancee you’re calling hot,” Rory piped up.
“And then making up a jealous boyfriend to beat yourself up more. Good going.”
“Get yourself together,” Amy commanded. “This is real, no matter what you might have seen on the telly. The universe is much weirder than you might have imagined, and the sooner you accept that, the easier you’ll cope.”
David snorted. “Probably the wisest words I’ve ever heard. So he’s really the Doctor.”
She nodded. “That’s what he’s always told me.”
“How long have you known him?”
“He landed in my garden when I was seven. Didn’t actually start traveling with him until recently.” She hesitated, then asked what was bothering her. “So, in this programme you acted in, it shows all of his life?”
“Well, not all. It’s like any other show, with episodes for each adventure, that kind of thing.” He shrugged.
“And you played the Doctor before he looks like what he does now?”
“So there’s an actor in your world that looks exactly like the Doctor?”
David considered the idea. “I suppose there is. My run on the show is almost over, but they haven’t chosen the new actor for the part yet. I suppose if I look like that” - he flung an arm towards the hologram without looking - “then there’s someone who looks like him. There’d be actors who look like you two, too.”
“I don’t want to think about that,” mumbled Rory.
The Doctor dashed back into the console chamber and up the ramp to join the group. He was wringing his hands and had a worried look on his face. “No watch in the car, either.”
David, hunched over on the floor, peered up at the Doctor. “I told you I don’t have a watch.”
The Doctor started pacing around. “Where would it be? Oh, it must be on you!” He dropped to the floor and started frisking David while the hapless actor tried to fend him off.
“I don’t have it! I don’t have a watch! Stop it! Get offa me!”
“Doctor! Stop that!” Amy called, and that seemed to be effective in calling him off.
The Doctor stood back up, aghast. “It must have been left in the other universe! And we can’t get back!”
“Or it doesn’t exist!” David rolled his eyes. “If I really were you, and we can’t get back to the watch, wouldn’t you stop existing or something?”
“Oh, the paradoxes!” The Doctor was crestfallen. “You’re not me, then.”
“No. I’m not.” David breathed a sigh of relief, though a not insignificant part of his soul was disappointed to not be revealed as the great Time Lord and his childhood hero.
The Doctor crossed his arms and tapped his chin. “What are we going to do with you then? Could we drop him off with your aunt, Amy?”
Amy sprang to her feet and stomped in front of the Doctor. “What do you mean, drop him off with my aunt? You’re the one who yanked him from his universe! You’re not going to just abandon him!”
“What do you want me to do? I already have to look after you and Rory!”
“He is your responsibility!”
David was glad that Amy was arguing for him. He didn’t want to think about what lay in his future, as he was starting to realise that he would never get back to his own life. He’d never see his family again. He wouldn’t get to finish out his run as the Tenth Doctor. He wouldn’t be playing Hamlet for the Royal Shakespeare Company. As far as anyone would know, he will have disappeared off the face of the Earth (and he had, literally), relegated to history as another unsolved mystery, the famous actor who vanished inexplicably.
He dropped his head into his hands as the argument continued above him and tried to stop the sobs threatening to burst from his chest, but he was unsuccessful. As he cried, he felt Rory kneel next to him and put an arm around his shoulders. “Come on. Let’s go find you a place to rest.” With Rory’s touch guiding him, he stood and allowed himself to be led out. The timbre of the voices turned from heated arguing to concern, and Rory scolded them both for their insensitivity. The Doctor called some directions to “David’s room,” and Rory escorted him there.