Word count: 2167
Despite the fact that David always encouraged him to consider his house as his second home, Will hesitated before unlocking the front door and walking in unannounced. It felt like invading his privacy or forcing himself on his friend, something he could prevent with a simple call or text beforehand. However, David had specifically asked him not to do so, saying that having to drop what he was doing to respond was a worse interruption in his eyes. He'd rather have Will drop by, so that if he truly didn't want to be interrupted, he could simply say so without pausing his work. And so Will found himself back in the house he had once thought he'd never be welcome in again, gazing down the familiar plain entry hall.
It had been a full week since the alien had shared his life story over beer and snacks. That tale had been strange enough that the next morning, Will had wondered if it had been distorted into something unrecognisable by the alcohol, but he really hadn't drunk that much, and David had continued to insist that all of it was true. Thus, Will had spent the week doing his job, playing his computer games, and going out with his friends while his head was filled with alternate universes, aliens and spaceships, Time Lords who could transform themselves into humans, humans getting transformed into Time Lords, and clone bodies and consciousness transfers. He did wonder how much David hadn't told him, for he knew that though the man had promised to tell him everything, that simply wasn't possible and everyone had their secrets. He had no interest in prying to find out what he might have withheld; he trusted his friend and was confident that if he needed to know something, David would tell him.
Indistinct sounds of movement floated down to him, and he supposed that the alien was in his time machine, working. Hesitating a moment, afraid that when it came down to it, David really wouldn't want someone walking into his house at any time, he finally called out, "Hoy, David!"
An immediate answer sounded above. "Will! Come on up!" Surprised, Will trotted up the stairs, into the room at the top. It appeared the same as the last time he'd been here, including the door to the metal cylinder standing slightly ajar. He approached it and pushed it open, poking his head in.
The incongruity between the small size of the cylinder and the cavernous space within it made him slightly dizzy. As before, the area was packed with materials, workbenches, tools, and the odd table in the center; David, protected by a heavy work apron, was hunched over a workbench, working on an object with a metal-handled tool tipped with a humming crystal, a device mounted on his glasses that Will assumed helped him see minute things.
"Can I come in?" His voice was almost a whisper, afraid to distract his friend.
"Of course!" Though his tone was friendly and conversational, David continued to concentrate on his work. "Any time the door's open, you're welcome inside. If it's closed, you won't be able to get in." He dropped the crystal tool on the work surface and grabbed another, applying it to his target. "I'll be just a moment, if you don't mind."
"Take your time."
Will hadn't had an opportunity to really look at David's spaceship the other time he'd been inside, so he strolled around, in turns awestruck by the impossibility of it all and intrigued by the piles of materials and tools all around him. He was also puzzled by David's passing mentions of the spaceship needing to grow, and he peered closely at this item or that to try to figure it out.
A number of minutes passed in which the silence in the chamber was broken only by Will's footsteps and a cacophony of clicks, whirrs, bangs, clanks, and occasional unrecognisable exclamations, which Will guessed from the tone of voice were alien expletives. Eventually, David straightened and, pulling the specs with the viewing device off, grinned proudly. "There, finally done! Only took me three days, too! Isn't she a beauty?"
He held up what looked like a golf-ball-sized mass of pale occluded crystals and plastic orbs from which a number of wire loops protruded. Stepping over a box of what looked like multicolored florets of broccoli to get a closer look, Will leaned from side to side, trying to see if the object became recognisable from a different angle. "I suppose? What is it?"
Delighting in showing off his handiwork, David took a deep breath to launch into a little lecture. "It's a..." His face fell, and he licked his lips as he thought. "Er, there's no word for this in English. I mean, the concept doesn't even exist here yet, in any language." He shrugged, giving up on the train of thought. "It's a component of the gravitic anomaliser, is what it is. But you know, I told myself I wouldn't talk your ears off about silly things like this, when you can't possibly be interested in what I'm saying."
"Never mind that. Does that mean you're done with the... whatever that's for?"
"Oh, no." He brandished the object in front of Will's face. "I need to build five more of these to put in that array" - he pointed at a metal framework with six settings arranged in an octahedron - "and then I build the rest of the anomaliser around it."
Will stared at the object in David's hand, then at the lattice it was meant to occupy. "This whole thing is going to take you forever to complete."
"I'd thought it would be about two years, but I'm finding I have to improvise quite a bit." He considered for a bit, his eyes wandering around the chamber. "With what I have left to do, it'll probably be more like five years."
Will's jaw dropped in horror. "I'd no idea you'd be stranded here for so long!"
"It's but a blink of an eye to a Time Lord, a real one." His attitude was matter-of-fact, almost as if he were talking about someone he'd only read about in a book. "For me, well, the time goes by like it always does. I suppose in a couple hundred years, I'll look back, and it'll seem like it had been just a passing moment."
"A couple hundred years." Will shook his head, his hand over his mouth. "I just cannot imagine that."
"Neither can I, to tell the truth. I'm forty years old." He shrugged. "That's how old I feel. Well, no, I feel younger, like thirty. Always have. Age is a matter of mindset, you know. Two hundred seems such a long time from now, but, you see, five years is nothing compared to that, and anyway, I'm enjoying every minute of it." David's smile was completely genuine.
"Speaking of which, that's why I came by today." Will pulled two slips of paper from his jacket pocket and held them up. "Markus got a stack of tickets to a performance of A Comedy of Errors tonight. He didn't want them going to waste, so he asked if I knew anyone who'd want to go. I thought you might be interested."
Will had been right: David perked up at the suggestion. "That's the one put on by the Purcell Players, isn't it? That amateur theatre group in town?"
"Yup. I'm surprised you know them."
"Well, that's because..." He glanced away in embarrassment.
David's voice turned quiet and shy, to the point where Will strained to hear him. "I went out this week and joined them. Well, volunteered. Put my name on the list to play extras. I thought, well, acting has always been my love, and I can't see why I shouldn't do it as a hobby."
"Good on you, mate!" Will hopped over the stuff on the floor to clap his friend on the shoulder. "You're really branching out!"
"I'm just doing what you advised, to be who I want to be, at least as far as I can. Of course, with that and my work in Glasgow, it'll slow my work on the TARDIS even more, but that just means I'll be here longer, and I think I can live with that." David seemed pleased with his decision.
"That's good to hear."
"So, er, yes, I would love to attend the theatre tonight. Thanks for the invitation." He made a mock-formal bow to his friend. "What time is the play?"
David nodded. "It's four-seventeen right now, so you'll probably want to get dinner. I could whip up some grilled chicken and cauliflower, if you like." He started to put some of his tools away, which, to his friend, seemed like a futile effort in the midst of the chaos of the room.
Will was hasty in his refusal of the offer. "Mate, if it's all the same to you, I'd really rather you not cook."
A surprised eyebrow shot up. "You don't like my cooking?"
Grimacing with embarrassment, Will replied quietly, "I'm sorry, mate, but no. Your food really isn't that good."
David shrugged, suppressing his hurt pride. "I can only get better with practice."
"I'd rather you practise on your own time. You know," and he wagged a finger at David, "do you think that it might be a problem of your tastes being different from mine? I mean, the Time Lords' planet -"
"Right. Gallifrey must have had different foods, right? Different animals and plants. So when you're experimenting, you're making it to your tastes, not mine."
David pursed his lips and nodded as he thought. "You might be right. Perhaps I should stick to the recipe when cooking for you."
"Perhaps we should just go to the pub by the theatre," Will suggested with a mischievous lilt in his voice. "Come on. I'm parched."
"All right. Let me secure the -" David's last words sounded like nonsense to Will, and he held up the object he had built to indicate what he meant. Hopping over the mess on the floor, he placed the thing into one of the settings and adjusted what looked like clips to secure it. Muttering "sonic" under his breath, he plunged a hand into his pocket but came up empty. Glancing around at the different work tables, he spied his mobile sitting on the workbench he’d been working at. "Ah, there it is."
As Will stepped toward the table to bring the phone to his friend, the device lifted from its location and flew across the chamber into David's waiting hand, and he immediately applied it to the lattice setting. When the familiar trilling noise ceased, he tapped the object to make sure it was stable, then nodded, dropping his mobile in his pocket. "There. That's done."
"How'd you do that?" Will's astonished eyes were wide.
David tapped his temple. "It's not something I do much, and only little things. That's important. And I can't do it outside, because..." Digging in his pocket, he pulled out the necklace with its brass pendant. He shrugged then strung it around his neck.
Will quirked a smile, shaking his head. "There's always something new with you."
"Oh, I hope not." He dropped the medallion under his shirt. "I just want to be the same old me."
"I don't think you can be, but that's not a bad thing, you know."
“I’m starting to understand and embrace that." Biting his lip, he paused for a moment, then pressed his lips together in a thin line as he made up his mind. "You know, Will, last week... I didn't realise it before, but I needed that. I needed to tell someone. You know. Maybe you don't believe any of it-"
"I do." Even though he was still a bit iffy on the whole thing, Will was quick to assure his friend, but David waved him silent.
"No, I know you can't possibly believe all of it, but it doesn't matter. I feel like an enormous weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I feel lighter and stronger, because I've shared this with you." His eyes shone with shy appreciation. "Thank you."
"Any time, mate." Will clapped David on the shoulder. "A burden shared is a burden lightened."
"I know someone who would do well to learn that." David turned to the console to pat it affectionately, then grinned at Will. "Come on, I'm famished."
Will rolled his eyes. "No, you're not," he chided as he turned to trot out. "You never are."
"I can pretend." David pulled of his apron and threw it over a box as he followed his friend. "I'll get the fish and chips and you can have the chips. I never finish them."
"Deal," Will agreed as he held the door open for David, and they stepped out of the TARDIS and headed out for the evening.