Fanfic Friday, and I almost forgot! Thirty lashes with a wet noodle. 😉
So today I’m going to share with you something I wrote a while back that follows on some time after “The Shadow of the Daleks”. It’s many years later. The Doctor apparently did manage to get Methos back home on time, and everybody has moved on. (Note: I am utterly and completely ignoring any “Highlander” film continuity — as far as I’m concerned, it ended with the final episode of “Highlander: the Raven”. Thus I can ignore the continuity problems of the movies!) On the Doctor Who side, this takes place probably a bit before “Closing Time”, the second-to-last episode of Season Six, while the Eleventh Doctor is on his “farewell tour” prior to meeting his fate on the shores of Lake Silencio. What this means is that if you haven’t been watching Doctor Who, the good Doctor has been through a hell of a lot since then. The Time War, and then three regenerations. The date is very important: April 22, 2012 is the date when history records that the Doctor was murdered on the shores of Lake Silencio in Utah. We learn towards the end of that season that although he’s worked out what’s going to happen (and also that it’s a fixed point in time which cannot be altered), he’s been understandably reluctant to actually go through with it, and has been wandering around through time and space, avoiding facing the inevitable; if his age claims are to be believed in “The Impossible Astronaut”, he’s spent over 200 years avoiding his fate. He’s a time traveler — it can be the day before his death for as long as he likes. But I think here he’s getting very close to the end.
And in case you missed them, here are the previous stories in the series:
ELEVEN AND JOE
A Highlander/Doctor Who Crossover
Paris, April 21 2012.
Spring was in the air, and people young and old were out enjoying a beautiful Saturday afternoon. As Joe Dawson scrubbed down the bar one more time at “Le Blues Bar”, he reflected that this could be either a good thing or a bad thing from his perspective. On the one hand, it meant business was down for a moment; it was too nice a day to spend it drinking. But on the other, it also meant he had some peace and quiet for a change, which was always a nice surprise on a weekend.
It had been a quiet year in general. His daughter, Amy, had managed to snag a very nice young man who worked in the Watcher archives, a nice quiet position, and in addition to bringing some much-needed stability into her life, he’d also brought more: they were expecting their first child in a few months. Joe’s Immortal friends seemed to have found niches to settle into for the foreseeable future. MacLeod was taking a breather from the Game again, and helping renovate a monastery. And Methos had returned to Paris after a ten-year break to let “Adam Pierson” fade from memory. Now he was Michael Jones, an accountant who looked nothing like the perpetual academic that Adam Pierson had been, but who was if anything even more forgettable. Neither Immortal had taken a head this year, and so Joe had the opportunity to relax.
The bar was clean. He put the rag away and ran his fingers through his white hair, pondering how to pass the time until some customers arrived.
He didn’t have long to wait, because at that moment the door opened. An unfamiliar man sauntered through. He was tall and gangly, with unruly brown hair in severe need of a trim, and he was wearing a long brown coat. That immediately triggered Joe’s attention; it was a warm April day, and Immortals were wont to wear long coats out of season to conceal their swords from notice. The man ambled up to the bar, then shrugged out of the brown coat to reveal a tweed coat underneath. The brown coat was dumped unceremoniously on a barstool; Joe couldn’t look closely enough to see whether it was suspiciously stiff. The man looked very young, not that appearance meant anything with an Immortal, and there was something not quite right about him. Joe couldn’t quite put his finger on it.
“Can I get you anything?” he asked.
The newcomer shrugged. “Yessss,” he said, uncertainly. “Yes. I think one usually orders beer. Yes. Innkeeper, a pint of your finest!” The last was boomed out melodramatically. “Erm . . . is that right?” he asked.
Joe raised an eyebrow at that. The man was obviously English, and almost too charmingly naive. Between his gangliness and the bowtie he wore, he struck Joe as a bit of an awkward professor. Like someone who had read what a stereotypical geek looked like and then got it a bit wrong. “Yeah, most folks get a beer. Any particular kind?”
“Oh, you’re American!” said the man, as if this was the most wonderful thing he’d encountered all day. Joe still waited for an answer. “Um . . . do you have any suggestions?”
It was painfully obvious the man had no idea what he was doing, so Joe took pity on him. “Here; I’ve got just the thing.” He reached into the fridge and brought out a cold bottle. “This is a microbrew that a friend insisted I stock. It’s different, but if you’re not used to beer, that won’t put you off. I’d love to find a second customer for it.”
He popped the top off and handed it to the man. The man studied it, holding it up to the light, carefully pouring a tiny drop and rolling it around on his hand, carefully sniffing it, and then, most preposterously, holding it up to his ear to listen. Finally, the man brought it to his lips and took a cautious sip.
The parade of expressions that traveled across the man’s face forced Joe to bite his lip to keep from laughing out loud. He was strongly tempted to offer it for free just for the entertainment value. The man blinked furiously and finally swallowed it. He sputtered a few times. “Yes. Well. Zow!”
Joe couldn’t quite surpress a grin. “Glad you like it,” he deadpanned.
“Yeah,” said the man. “It’s got a kick!”
Joe chuckled. It was definitely a full-flavored beer, and not one that had sold well. But Methos liked it, and stocking the stuff was justified as a way of keeping the old guy coming ’round. “So,” he said, fishing for a little conversation, “is this your first visit to Paris?”
The man shook his head. “Oh, no. I’ve been here lots. I think the last time was . . . the mid-nineties, perhaps?” Mid-nineties? Joe automatically did the math. The guy looked about 25. He had to have been just a kid then. How could he have come to Paris lots and not been there since he was a kid? “‘Course, I was a different man then,” he said, grinning.
Joe’s eyes narrowed. Immortal radar was going off like crazy in the back of his mind. “What brings you back this time?” he asked.
“Oh, just kicking around, doing a bit of tour, seeing the sights . . . .” The man trailed off, and then for a moment the youthful face suddenly looked very, very old. He stared at something over Joe’s shoulder, and then sighed. “No, actually I came looking for a friend. Someone I haven’t seen in a while. Also something I don’t often do, looking up old friends, because . . . .” He trailed off, and seemed to be looking at Joe’s hair. Hair . . . if this man was Immortal, maybe he avoided seeing friends because they aged.
“Anyone in particular?” asked Joe. “Old girlfriend?”
The man chuckled. “No.” He looked Joe in the eye. “I’m looking for Adam Pierson,” he said. “And I thought that you might know where I could find him, Joe Dawson.”
Joe’s mind raced. The man knew who he was. And he wanted Adam Pierson. Methos hadn’t gone by Adam in years — but he certainly had done so in Paris in the nineties. “You’re Immortal,” he finally said.
The man chuckled again, this time with no mirth at all in it. “No. Would that I were,” he said, gazing off over over Joe’s shoulder again. “Tomorrow would be a different day.” Joe frowned. The man wasn’t staring into space this time, but at a particular spot. Joe looked over his shoulder and saw the calendar. April 21. Literally tomorrow, then?
“Who are you?” he asked.
The man smiled sympathetically. “I’m sorry. I never introduced myself. I’m the Doctor.”
“Ah. Doctor who?”
The Doctor didn’t answer. Then it clicked. The Doctor. Terri Johnson, the Watcher who mysteriously vanished, then reappeared, had been assigned to research apocryphal Immortals to try and determine whether or not any of them were legit, or duplicates of other sightings, or just rumor. She was excellent at the work, and had dug into dusty old records that nobody else cared about and made some real sense out of the whole mess. She’d consolidated rumors, linked up some with actual, known Immortals, and provided a solid foundation for one or two recoveries of living but untraced Immortals. And one of these apocryphal Immortals was a nameless Doctor, only after she reappeared, she determined he had been a myth the whole time.
Or not. Joe evidently had the mysterious Doctor right in front of him. But . . . Terri had vanished in the nineties. And she had been working out of Paris, in the biggest Watcher archive on the planet. And the only apocryphal Immortal she hadn’t been studying was Methos, because of course Adam Pierson had that job (the stinker) . . . and this Doctor was looking for Adam Pierson.
The Doctor was staring into his beer again, watching bubbles rise, cling to the glass walls of the bottle, eventually break away to climb up the neck to the surface of the beer. He seemed entranced by it, and didn’t stir when the bell by the door rang, announcing another guest.
Huh. When it rains it pours. Methos had arrived.
Joe watched carefully as Methos walked in. Neither he nor the Doctor appeared to react to the other’s presence; perhaps the Doctor really wasn’t Immortal. But he had a Chronicle, of sorts, and he knew Adam Pierson from over fifteen years ago despite looking 25, and he knew about Joe Dawson. Weird.
“Joe!” called Methos. “Get me the usual, would you?” The ancient Immortal sauntered up to the bar in his usual fashion, sliding comfortably onto a barstool beside the Doctor.
“Hey, Mike!” said Joe, pointedly using his new pseudonym. He got another beer out for Methos, opened it, and set it in front of him. “Looks like I’ve found another customer for this stuff,” he said, inclining his head towards the Doctor.
“Oh?” asked Methos. He glanced at the Doctor with absolutely no sign of recognition on his face. “Glad to hear you’ve finally found someone else with taste,” he said, then frowned as he took in the other man’s oddball attire.
But while Methos didn’t recognize the man, the Doctor’s face had lit up like a Christmas tree. “Methos!” he said. With impeccably poor timing, he had said this just as Methos was taking a drink, triggering a spit-take. Methos sprayed beer all over the man’s tweed jacket, but he didn’t seem to care. “How are you? It’s been ages! You haven’t changed a bit! ‘Cept the name. Nice name. Mike, was it? Great to see you?”
Methos had a look somewhere between confusion and terror and intense irritation. “And who the hell are you?”
“Sorry, sorry,” said the Doctor. “I’ve had a few faces since last we met. Been busy. But it’s me, Methos! The Doctor!”
Methos rolled his eyes, groaned, and dropped his head down on the bar with an audible thunk.
“What did I say?” asked the Doctor, looking helplessly at Joe.
Joe shook his head. “Beats the hell out of me. I have no clue what’s going on.”
Without lifting his head, Methos pointed at the Doctor. “Him. The Doctor. He’s absolutely nothing but trouble.”
Joe raised an eyebrow. “You mean you actually know this guy?”
Methos dragged his head back up and turned a long-suffering gaze on Joe. “Unfortunately, yes. I was helping Terri Johnson investigate an apocryphal Immortal. Only he wasn’t Immortal, he was him.” He jerked a thumb in the Doctor’s direction.
The Doctor sighed. Suddenly deflated, the stranger looked a great deal older and very tired. “I’m sorry,” he said, lamely. “I never meant for that to happen.”
Methos shrugged. “I suppose not,” he said. “But you still nearly cost me my head. Three times.”
“Twice!” said the Doctor. “Kallan was never after your head.”
“But Daleks, Doctor?” said Methos. “They even thought I was one of your lot!”
His lot? Joe stared at the Doctor again. Changing faces, Terri Johnson’s apocryphal Immortal . . . . “Would someone mind telling me what’s going on?” he asked.
Methos drank his beer and didn’t answer, leaving the Doctor to answer. The Doctor shrugged. “What’s to explain?” he said. “I’m just a thousand-year-old time-travelling alien from the planet Gallifrey with a taste for adventure. Terri Johnson travelled with me for a while, and when I gave Methos a free ride home in my TARDIS, we got a bit off course and there was stuff. That’s all.”
Joe stared. Aliens? Time travel? That was a bit ridiculous.
“Stuff?” asked Methos. “That’s all?”
The Doctor shrugged. “All right, so instead of Seacouver in 1996, we got Riga III 2,000 years in the future. It all ended all right. Things usually do, in my experience.”
The future! Joe’s mind spun with questions, piled so deep that none of them could reach his mouth. It was like a dance club stampede inside his head.
“Yeah,” said Methos,”two thousand years in the future on a planet populated by naive Immortals about to be exploited by a lunatic Immortal trying to double-cross the Daleks — ‘stuff’ seems a bit of an understatement, wouldn’t you say?”
The Doctor stared blankly, as if to say that no, that all seemed perfectly ordinary.
“All right,” said Methos. “Forget the past. What are you doing here now?”
“Oh, just having a bit of a farewell tour,” he said breezily. “Never done that. Checking up on old friends. Thought I’d look for you.”
The old Immortal’s eyes narrowed suspiciously. “Me?” he asked. “Why not Terri? You travelled with her a lot longer. You and I, we barely know each other.”
The Doctor opened his mouth, then closed it, then opened it again, as if searching for the right thing to say. Then finally he gave up and slumped over in his seat. He took a long swig from the beer and looked at Joe. His eyes flicked up to Joe’s white hair, then over to Methos. “It’s 2012,” he said. “She’ll be 16 years older. But you . . . you haven’t aged a bit. Rather like a Time Lord,” he said, with a faint glimmer of a grin, but not a happy one.
“This is the third face I’ve seen on you,” said Methos. “How can you say we’re anything alike?”
“Well,” said the Doctor, “that’s different. We age very slowly, and if we’re injured we have to regenerate. Get a new body. I suppose I do go through them a little faster than most,” he said, a little sheepishly. “It’s been a rough few years. Centuries. Whatever.”
“Doctor,” said Joe, “if you don’t mind my asking, what’s a Time Lord?”
The Doctor pointed at himself. “Me. And don’t go looking for more; I’m the last. It’s sort of a long story, actually.”
“The last?” asked Methos, curiously. “On Riga III, the Daleks seemed to think there were more like you. And what about the Master?”
The Doctor shivered, then collected himself and acted as if nothing had happened. “Like I said, long story. Short version is there was a war.” He smiled sadly. “The Last Great Time War. We fought the Daleks, and in the end . . . well. I’m the only one left.”
Joe cleared his throat. “So is that why you’re on a farewell tour?”
The Doctor raised his beer in a toast. “You pay attention! Good! You can stay.”
Joe frowned, unsure what to make of this. “Oooookay . . . but is that what you meant about a farewell tour? Last Time Lord, so you’re saying goodbye on behalf of your race?”
The Doctor looked him in the eye and seemed about to speak, but then his eyes suddenly became shuttered. He shook his head. “No.”
“Something to do with tomorrow?” said Joe, pointing at the calendar.
“Very perceptive,” said the Doctor. “Yes. Tomorrow is a big day for me. You could say that tomorrow I take center stage.”
“And exit stage right?” asked Joe.
The Doctor looked sharply at him, but didn’t answer.
Methos had an inscrutable expression on his face. Joe got a little nervous at that; Methos had the best poker face he’d ever seen, so if he was wearing it, he had something serious on his mind. “what happens tomorrow, Doctor?”
The Doctor looked sidelong at Methos. “What, caring all of a sudden? That isn’t like you.”
“I’ve met some bad influences since we last met,” said Methos.
Joe stifled a laugh. Surely, Methos meant MacLeod.
“Sounds like a good influence,” said the Doctor. “Caring is never misplaced.”
“So what happens tomorrow, then?” asked Methos. “If caring is never misplaced, you should be able to answer.”
The Doctor leaned back in his seat. He met Joe’s eye. “Don’t write any of this down,” he said. “My people are supposed to be gone, and it needs to stay that way.” He turned his head to fix Methos in his stare. “Tomorrow I die,” he said. “I’ve been putting it off. You can do that when you’re a time traveller. I know I will die on the shores of Lake Silencio in Utah on April 22, 2012. It’s a fixed point in time; I can’t change it. Just delay getting there.” He trailed off. “I’ve left too many people behind. They get old. They move on. They die. And I’m getting so tired. So old . . . .”
Methos laughed. “I’m five times your age; stop complaining.”
“But how do you deal with it?” asked the Doctor. “I’ve got the TARDIS, and I’ve got . . . well, I had . . . I knew I could always go home. Face the music, and then live with my own people again. I can’t now. They’re gone. How do you deal with that?”
Methos didn’t answer immediately, but sat as if evaluating the Doctor. “The last time we met, I’d just buried Alexa. A beautiful woman. I loved her, but she was dying when we met. We had less than a year together before her illness claimed her. And you know what? Knowing it’s coming doesn’t make it any easier. But knowing it’s coming doesn’t make it any less worthwhile. Mortals die, but that just means you have to seize whatever moments you can get with them.” Methos leaned back and polished off the rest of his beer. “Do whatever you have to do. But don’t give up. I don’t care if it’s a fixed point in time or whatever mumbo jumbo it might be. Live. Grow stronger. You may be the world’s biggest pain in the arse, but the universe still needs you.”
And then, uncharacteristically, Methos dropped ten euros on the bar, enough to pay for both the beers, and got up. He walked away without another word. Joe watched him leave before realizing that he hadn’t even said goodbye, so stunned he was by the money. It still left Methos badly in debt to Le Blues Bar, but it was a startling gesture to pay for the Doctor’s drink.
Joe turned his attention back to the Doctor. “Who the hell are you?” he asked. “I mean really?”
The Doctor was still staring at the door. He wrenched his attention back to Joe. “I’m a silly old Doctor,” he said, shaking his head. “And Methos is right. There really is no time to waste.” He finished his beer. “I have people I need to see. Old friends, before it is too late.” A faint smile danced around his lips. “And maybe he’s right. Maybe there is a way out of this.” He stood, then extended a hand across the bar. Joe took it. The Doctor had a firm handshake, it turned out. “Thank you, Joe Dawson. It’s time I went.”
“Went where?” asked Joe.
The Doctor grinned mischeivously. “That would be telling. Good bye!”
And the Doctor followed in Methos’ footsteps, right out the door into the bright Parisian sunlight.