Characters: The Doctor, OC
Spoilers: spoilers for 4:13
Author’s Note: This is the first fanfic I’ve ever written since I was twelve! Comments and concrit are extremely appreciated. If anybody wants to be my beta and/or britcritter, I’d love you forever. I'm aiming for something different from the glut of the post finale fic out there.
Summary: Everybody changes, adapts to their needs over time, and the Doctor is no exception. Now that he’s human, finding himself rapidly growing older and adopting more eccentricities than ever before, maybe it’s time for him to finally make a name for himself.
The first time Olivia Walden saw him she was waiting for the bus with a bag full of books and he was crossing the road away from her. The second time she saw him he bumped into her accidentally in the atlas section of the local branch library, his thin body mostly obscured by an enormous volume of what looked to be ancient Norwegian maps. The third time Olivia saw him was the first time she ever noticed he existed. They were in the supermarket.
Her basket was nearly full and she was contemplating a package of soy cheese when the man next to her made a high keening moan from the back of his throat. His eyes were flicking between two different blocks of tofu that he held in his hands. Olivia, being the sort of person who naturally eavesdrops and got in trouble for staring when she was small, gave him a good once over.
He wore a plain brown suit that was slim fitting and a blue shirt, no tie. Red trainers peaked out from his trousers that had seen better days. They were nearly pink, with a hole that had been repaired on one side. He squinted, took a deep breath, and lifted one hand to scratch his graying sideburn. The block of firm tofu made a soft splut noise as it smacked into his face.
“Brilliant.” He finally noticed Olivia, who had failed to stifle her laughter, and turned to face her. “Look, hold this for a second, just a second, thanks.” Olivia startled as he grabbed her hand and plopped the offending tofu into it. He adjusted the large messenger bag he had slung around his torso, making a few odd clink noises as he did so, and reached into his inside coat pocket. When his sleeve snagged back a bit she saw at least three wristwatches, and Olivia realized that this man emitted a quiet cacophony of ticking noises, none of them in time with one another. Suddenly her hand was grabbed again and the man’s face, now wearing thick-rimmed spectacles, was inches away from the tofu. “Can’t read a thing these days, I’m far too old, this is downright insulting.”
“Um, excuse me, sir, is there something that I could maybe help you with?” Olivia leaned down and put her basket on the floor.
“Well, perhaps. How much do you know about tofu? I see that you have some soy cheese there, I’ve never understood that, is it some sort of macrobiotic process? Do they just color it orange and the human mind sees the color and assigns the taste? Never tried it myself. I’ve got to eat better, Tony says that it’s best to start as soon as possible but in my case I might as well start now, maybe it isn’t too late, and at least I like vegetables but I just could never get around to figuring out tofu. What do you do with it? This is half of why I spent so much time in Britain to begin with, but now I’ve run out of excuses and they are making me go in for a checkup next week so I’d better be ready for it, I say, when they give me a list of what I’m supposed to eat, I can say, why yes I have six different ways of making tofu delectable and I’ve been eating it all this week, I don’t think this will be problematic at all.”
Olivia realized that this man was extraordinarily worried. But right now, she was worried that the circulation in her hand was going to be cut off. Putting the soy cheese back, she gently extricated her wrist from his grip and gave him back his block of tofu. “Get the firm stuff. The one in the blue wrapper. That’s what Meryl gets. I don’t know about soy cheese, I can’t keep the stuff down, but my flatmate is unfortunately afflicted with a case of veganism, first degree, and she loves it. If you want recipes try the internet, I’ve not been able to cook one thing Meryl likes other than chocolate cake. I suppose if you’re trying to eat better you shouldn’t have chocolate cake though, or I’d share the recipe with you.”
It seems that the ticking man was not used to people being able to keep track of his rambling monologues, because she had stunned him into a moment of silence. It didn’t last long. A grin broke out across his face and he tumbled three blocks of tofu in the blue wrappers into Olivia’s basket. Adjusting his bag over his lean frame again, this time with a faint mooing sound, he picked up the soy cheese, deposited it in her basket, linked his arm with hers and pulled her along to the cashier.
“You were done with your shopping, yeah? Let me buy your groceries for you, my treat.” Numbly nodding, Olivia helped him put her groceries on the conveyor belt. The cashier was halfway through, past her bacon and artichokes, when she came to her senses.
“Wait, what? No no, I’ll be paying for my own groceries thank you very much. You don’t owe me any favors. I don’t even know who you are! Who are you?” Her hands found their way to her hips and she shot him a glare. He shrunk back, the megawatt grin toned down and he picked his tofu out of her groceries with thin fingers.
“I’m the, um.” He paused, rolling something around in his mouth, and for a moment there was just low ticking and the beep of the cashier scanning Olivia’s granola bars. “I’m just John.” He almost looked disappointed in his own name. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to presume, but that’s what works the best, most of the time.” He reached back and opened up the flap of his bag, revealing more watches attached to the inside, and pulled out some empty totes. “At the very least, use these instead of the paper bags they’ve got here. Did you know that they only started using recycled materials in them last year?”
Olivia watched as he prattled on and bagged her groceries for her. She couldn’t pin down his age, but apparently ten years ago he’d been in the rainforests, looking at “the same trees that are probably in that pile right there”. His hair was grey at the temples fading up into brown, and he had crow’s feet around the eyes, but he seemed to act younger than he ought to. For a madman, that is.
“Ah, yes, my tofu, thank you my good man.” He paid for his purchases with an unaccustomed air, like he wasn’t used to handling change, holding out the coins in his hand for the cashier to pick the right amount. “Can’t ever keep track of these new metals,” he mumbled. Olivia cocked an eyebrow, but paid it no mind.
With a wave and a quiet “Enjoy your soy” Olivia turned to walk to the bus stop. She made it halfway there when she heard a rhythmic clanking coming up from behind her. “Look, John, I need to be back in thirty minutes to start making dinner, it’s been a curious experience meeting you but I have a new book in my bedroom that I am most eager to start reading.”
John brought himself up even with her. “I take the same bus these days, and I’ll be needing those totes back or the lady of the house will have my head.” He was clearly lying. Olivia was no stealer of tote bags though, and allowed him to sit next to her on the bus. She was prepared to call Meryl any second to meet her at the bus stop and make an escape if need be. No fool was Olivia Walden.
“What’s the book you’re so eager to read?” John hadn’t been able to keep still, fidgeting with the collar of his shirt until it was completely askew.
“Oh, just some scifi.” She waited for him to understand that she was trying to ignore him, but the way he looked at her made her go on. “It’s silly, but I love the stuff. It’s the new one by Adric Smith, maybe you’ve heard of him?” She was not prepared for the grin that came back to John’s face, nor the way he nearly knocked her off her seat with his flailing arm.
“The Golden Cliffs of Ferian? Heard of him? Yeah, you could say that.” He stopped flailing and finally managed to find what he had been looking for inside his bag, and pulled out an unmarked green hardcover book. “Here’s the advanced copy. Loads of typos. Can you believe that there were twenty-five different misspellings of the word feriospheric? It’s like they don’t even know what feriospherance is. I tried to explain, but those editors, once you get to the proper science, they just wave their hands and tick off an email telling you to consult an expert. What expert? I daresay I’m the only one in sixteen light years. Ooh! Here’s my stop. Too bad yours wasn’t first.”
Goggling, Olivia saw the bus was pulling up to the corner of the Tyler estates, one of the few places in the city with privately owned green spaces left. “Excuse me, John, maybe I can get your bags back to you, um, another day?” This was awkward. Her hand felt sticky wrapped around the pole she’d grabbed to keep balance as the bus slowed.
“Not a problem. Here we go!” John found a card in his coat pocket, flicked what looked like a gummy candy off of it, placed it inside the cover of his book, and handed it to her. “The number on the bottom, give it a ring. I’d like to meet Meryl, maybe she can show me how to eat tofu without wrapping it in bacon first. Oh, look at me, never asked you your name. And you are?”
“Olivia Walden. Are you Adric Smith? I thought you were called John.” She shook the hand he offered her and found his two handed grip disconcertingly strong.
“Oh, I’ve got loads of names.” He tripped down the steps and gave her a wave as the bus pulled away. Olivia opened the book he’d given her. The card read “Adric Smith, teller of tales from another dimension” with a number about six digits longer than it ought to be.
She watched as he placed his hand in the security alcove of the gate to the Tyler estates, and waited while nothing happened. The bus pulled away and John appeared to be cursing, kicking at the gate, and pulling a cell phone out at the same time. Nobody just walked into the front gate of the Tyler estates other than the Tylers. This John was definitely mad. Olivia was definitely going to give him a call.