elisi: (Seeker)
[personal profile] elisi
Chapter 1 and explanations here.

Summary: “Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” – Miriam Beard (or: The Seeker takes some time out to travel and think things over)
Setting: Between A Good Day and The Death and Life of Rodageitmososa. (This is AU, but within New Who between Name of the Doctor and The Day of the Doctor.
Spoilers: A Good Day. But can easily be read on its own.
Rating: PG-13.
Characters: This part: The Third Seeker, TenToo, Rose and a few others.
Beta: Um... That would be a no. All mistakes mine.
Feedback: Would be amazing. :)


Stepping Sideways: Pete's World

“I soon realized that no journey carries one far unless, as it extends into the world around us, it goes an equal distance into the world within.” – Lillian Smith

9

The Caffe Nero was comfortingly normal, but Allison felt more nervous than before a blind date. She’d come early, occupying a seat at the back from where she could see the door, and at a minute before their agreed time he turned up.

For a long time she had debated back-and-forth with herself, and in the end it turned out to be the random query about her brother’s boyfriend that had tipped the balance. She wasn’t particularly keen on him, as he was Irish and loud and more than a bit abrasive, and she couldn’t for the life of her work out what her brother saw in him… But he was devoted, she’d give him that. Even so - of all the people for her alien ‘admirer’ to enquire after, Troy seemed to her the least obvious.

Seeing that she already had a drink, Alexander bought himself a coffee and made his way to her, taking a seat opposite her. He was wearing a purple blazer, but the rest of the outfit was as smart as before – and she liked the beard, oh yes. Whatever could be said for her other self in his world, they certainly had the same taste in men.

“Thank you,” he said simply, and she fidgeted with her cup.

“I have some questions,” she began. “First of all - why did you ask about Troy?”

He looked surprised.

“I just wanted to make sure he was OK in this reality too. But if he’s with Toby, he’ll be fine. We… I guess the best description might be that we bonded, back in the day, wondering how two damaged creatures like us had somehow ended up in the jackpot of families.”

She understood the description of her family - she knew she was lucky - but frowned at the use of the word ‘damaged’.

“What do you mean ‘damaged’?”

He shook his head, eyes guarded.

“His secrets are not mine to tell. And my father is an evil, psychotic megalomaniac - I’m sure you can imagine how that impacted me. Next question?”

Well, that was her told. The thing that struck her, however, was how he was reacting much like Toby did - open, yet defensive at the same time. Happy enough to explain his own side, yet protective of Troy… It somehow made her trust him more, especially since he had no reason to go out of his way to enquire.

A small thing - small, but significant. However, there were other issues.

“Why me?” she asked, then raised her eyes, studying him. She’d turned it all over in her head, and narrowed it down to this one issue.

“Sorry to be so blunt, but what is it you can only ask me, and not ‘your’ Allison? You said she wasn’t lost the same way as Rose, so presumably she’s still around?”

For a moment he didn’t answer, but the look in his eyes made her falter.

“Yes and no. From my perspective she died centuries ago - which is why the prospect of seeing you made me bail. But you’re right - I could go back in time and talk to her, but it wouldn’t help… The reason I’m asking you, is that you see me with different eyes to her. You know exactly what I am, and what I can do. My Allison… didn’t. Not for a long time.”

“What do you mean?” she asked, and he folded his hands.

“My Allison and I met at university. I had grown up on Earth, pretending to be human, and I was still pretending then, and doing a pretty good job of it by then - those that noticed I was odd, generally just presumed I was autistic. Long story. I… didn’t plan on a relationship, but she was so bright, so captivating, that I found myself falling for her without realising what was happening.”

He sighed, took a drink, and then continued, speaking more to the table, than to her.

“I was a child, basically. I didn’t- didn’t understand what I was doing – although I thought I did of course, arrogant idiot that I was. But I wanted a normal relationship, if that makes sense. If she knew the truth, she’d treat me differently.”

Abruptly he looked up, eyes sharp and unavoidable.

“Are you afraid of me?”

“I – I don’t know,” she replied, thrown. "Should I be?"

“Sorry, that wasn’t a fair question. But my Allison… I’m sure she more than suspected that there was more to me than met the eye, but she – she didn’t know what a Time Lord was. What I could do. When I finally showed her, after three years… It didn’t go well.”

She’d been listening in silence, carefully processing what he was telling her, but this made her speak up:

“You lied to her for three years?”

“Yes. Yes I did. And we both paid the price. Trust me, I learned my lesson, and learned it well. But - this is where you come in!”

“Me?”

“Yes, you.” His eyes almost seemed to glow. “I’m not offering – but if I was… Would you come with me? I don’t mean ridiculous adventuring like Rose did with the Doctor. But you’ve seen what I can do. I have power, and I’m going to use that to make the universe a fairer place. Well, my universe, not this one. Would you have me? Would you be interested in a relationship with me?”

She’d listened in increasing disbelief.

Excuse me? Are you for real?”

He seemed a little puzzled.

“Of course.”

“But what kind of question is that?”

“What do you mean?”

“How am I supposed to reply to something that… hypothetical?”

He smiled an easy smile.

“Well, if you take it as a given that you could love me, is helping me rule the universe – well, not all of it course, just the parts that really need it – something you could envisage doing?”

She’d read about people’s jaws dropping, in books. She didn’t know this was a thing that could actually happen.

“Oh. My god. You are actually insane!”

He looked hurt, grasping his cup more forcefully as if having to control some sort of strong emotion.

No, I’m not. And trust me, I know what insanity is, my father is a textbook example. I can be a calculating manipulative bastard, but I’m not mad. Please. If I was mad, I’d be far less capable - insanity is a serious handicap.”

"Well, that's reassuring," she said, cuttingly.

They sat for a moment in silence, then he spoke again.

"I did say I was useless at this. I don't have a lot of friends - my human friends, the ones I grew up with, died centuries ago. My other friends - both of them - know me so well that I generally don't need to explain myself. I know what you’re probably thinking, that I’m some sort of Evil Overlord wannabe, wanting to rule the world and power hungry… Which is as far from the truth as possible. I have been running from that my whole life, turning myself into something of a hermit, because I could never see how it could be done without becoming that cliché. Let me see, how to explain it…”

He tapped his fingers, then leaned forward, studying her.

“You are friends with Rose, yes? And through her, I'm sure you have heard plenty of stories about the Doctor. How he turns up wherever he's needed, saves the day - and then runs away again. Great if you need a hero to topple an evil regime, but what about the aftermath? Who is going to take over? Can you restructure a whole society? Should you? What about religion - more times than not, the bad guys have aligned themselves with some faith system or other, and you can't just remove that without considerable damage - if necessary you need a substitute, but what?... I was always frustrated with the Doctor's lack of follow-through, but never knew how to tackle it myself without being an unwelcome usurper. But now, finally – after more than three hundred years – I’ve found a way that works for me. Which is why I went travelling; I don’t want to rush into anything, I want to plan properly. Where to start, how to continue, how to use my power and my influence most effectively… How to create long term solutions that will work. Whilst not doing anything that'll change history adversely of course. Let’s say it’s a challenge of a lifetime!"

He was getting excited, his enthusiasm almost infectious. And she realised she had misjudged him - if he was mad, it was a madness that was rigorously controlled and disciplined. It wasn’t about him, but about what he could do. Goodness knew how his plans would turn out, but at least his intentions were ‘good’, for lack of a better word.

Still...

"I'm sorry I called you mad," she said slowly. "Although I think you're more scary now than you were before."

The smile he smiled was strangely bitter.

"And there you are. My Allison. I remember that look still..."

"Not getting any less disturbing, you know."

Suddenly he laughed.

"Do you want to know why I love you? Because you have no qualms about telling me the truth, however unwelcome."

Well, whatever she had expected, this was weirder still.

"Um, thanks?"

"No, thank you. You have been very helpful. I always wondered - could it have worked? The answer is clearly no.”

Alien. He was alien. She’d spent enough time with the Doctor to know that Time Lords were utterly tone deaf when it came to normal human interactions.

"Why would you ever think that I would want to- You know what, never mind."

Smiling firmly, she held up her cup in a mock toast.

"To your future empire."

He solemnly held up his own cup in response.

"To my future empire."

After taking a drink, he watched her candidly over the rim of the cup.

“I’m a little surprised, I’d have thought you would try to talk me out of it…”

She was caught somewhere between hysterical laughter and some other emotion she had no words for, and tried her best not to make a spectacle of herself, instead speaking as calmly as she could:

“Would it make a difference if I tried?”

“Not really, no.”

She closed her eyes, tried to center herself.

“That’s what I thought. I’ve listened to enough rants from Rose to know how headstrong the Doctor is - you seem to be quite similar in that regard. Besides, you clearly think you’re doing the right thing.”

A beat, then she shook her head.

“And I thought I was having a weird day when those lizards invaded… They told me Torchwood would be an experience, but this takes the biscuit. ‘So, Allison, how was your day?’ ‘Well, I had a sort-of-date with a three hundred year old alien from a parallel universe who loves me, and is honestly not a megalomaniac, despite all evidence to the contrary…’ Was your Allison this disoriented by you too?”

He had that strangely melancholy look in his eyes again as he replied, reaching out and taking her hand.

“Oh yes. Far moreso, to be honest.”

“Well, that’s a relief.”

Then he held her hand to his lips, kissing it gently.

“Have a wonderful life, Allie. You were more than worth breaking my hearts for.”

And with that he walked out of her life forever.

She would sometimes wonder how the other Allison’s life had played out, but eventually decided that she was happiest not knowing. That sort of knowledge was a double edged sword and no mistake. Although not long after she met a lovely bloke with a neat beard, and told herself very firmly that it was pure co-incidence.



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