Doctor Who ; Adam Mitchell ; PG-13 ; 1300 words
He had instructions from the Doctor, but Adam's never been good at following orders.
notes: Written for lorannah at tardis_gen, many thanks to avendya for the beta! A quick canon refresher: Adam comes from the year 2012. This story handwaves the fact that 'Dalek' does therefore absolutely not fit into the timeline just as much as the show does.
Adam Mitchell has always been a fast talker, a blagger, and an accomplished liar. He's always known just how important those skills are, despite the scoffing of those who loved their moral high ground.
When he gets ditched in his parents' living room with a time machine disappearing behind him, his mother in front of him, and a gaping hole in his skull, he's suddenly profoundly grateful to his younger self for all that time spent sweet-talking teachers and hacking computer systems. He sits his mum down, makes her tea and promises he'll explain everything in a moment, and then does the world's fastest Wikipedia hack for back-up. He knows she'll never check it again after this afternoon. So he spins a story about a far-out new piercing he got done while he was travelling and "no, honestly, Mum, it's not anything like as bad as it looks." He shows her the internet proof, and she worries and talks about taking him to a doctor but eventually he settles her down, and they don't speak very much of it again.
He spends the next week recovering, both from the gradually lessening morbid desire to stand in front of a mirror and click his fingers time and time again, and from the entirely unnerving sensation he gets everything morning when he wakes up and realises that holy crap, it really happened. When he feels a little more like himself, he bandages up his forehead and goes into Manchester to stock up on hats.
For a while, he takes the Doctor's advice. He gets a job in IT that bores him out of his mind (no pun intended), makes friends who don't know anything about him, and goes on dates he knows will never go anywhere. If there's honour in hiding this way, in trying to forget all of his knowledge and experiences, Adam can't find it.
He lasts three months before he snaps, siphons off funds from his generous savings account (Van Statten was good for some things), and books himself into a penthouse suite in London.
When he arrives in London, he sets up his computer equipment and then stares at his phone apprehensively, one number ready to dial. He tries to remind himself that he's a genius who's had more alien contact than almost anyone on this planet -- a Dalek and the Doctor and the year 200,000 -- and he hits 'call'.
The phone rings twice, and then there's silence on the other end for a moment, punctuated only by the subtle click of a recording device of some kind.
"Who is this?" asks the voice on the other hand, warily.
"Hello." Adam laughs a little. "Look, I have no idea if you'll remember me, my name's Adam Mitchell. I hassled you for a job a while back?"
There a few quick clicks down the line. "Adam Mitchell. Yes, that's right -- certified child prodigy and all-round nuisance, Last I heard you were caught up in the Van Statten imbroglio, we thought you'd been cast out on to the streets with him."
Adam thinks he hears someone mutter "good riddance, too," in the background, but he can't be sure.
"We aren't hiring, if that's why you're calling," says the voice. "How'd you get this number anyway?"
"I have my ways."
"Right . . ." the voice replies, dubious.
"Prodigy, remember? Anyway, I'm actually phoning because -- well, because I need your help."
"Really. Your genius alone isn't enough."
"That's not --" Adam bristles, and then remembers he's still got a bargaining chip left to play. "It's something you might be very interested in, actually. Something to do with -- oh, what was his name, lanky guy, strange ears, amazing spaceship -- that's right! The Doctor."
There's a heavy sigh. "I assume you've said that knowing full well I'm now obligated to investigate your story further?"
"So you'll meet me today?"
"I can't quite drop everything and come join in your wild goose chase."
"Well --" Adam checks his monitor, "-- as luck would have it, you're in London today. I can see you're just off Oxford Street right now, so I'll be with you in twenty minutes. Don't worry, I'm tracking your mobile, shouldn't be a problem finding you."
He hangs up with a grin, although it is tempting to stay on the line and listen to the indignant spluttering. Genius is bliss.
When he gets to the rendezvous, his contact is wrapped up in a black coat and standing in the shadows. Adam smirks a little: subtlety is certainly in the eye of the beholder.
Ianto Jones folds his arms and stares at Adam. "I haven't got all day, make it quick."
"Um," says Adam, because Ianto is a little more fearsome and intimidating than he remembered. He blames it on all the trauma he must have suffered on Satellite Five, not to mention nearly being electrocuted by a killing machine shaped like a pepper pot. "Can we, er, go somewhere more private?"
Ianto arches an eyebrow but he follows Adam into a narrower, quiet street. Adam has a funny feeling Ianto has got his hand resting on a gun, and tries not to think about that too hard.
"I was working for Van Statten, and he had a Dalek, then the Doctor arrived. The Dalek tried to kill us all, the Doctor saved the day, him and Rose, Rose Tyler. They took me with them, just for a bit, but then they left me stranded here and I can't bear it. I'm better than this, I'm wasted here, and I --" He's babbling, and he knows it. Quickly, he recovers his composure. "Oh, and also? I am royally screwed." He snaps his fingers.
Ianto pulls a face of almost comical disgust. "Oh, God."
"Please," says Adam. He hadn't realised how desperate he is until it came flooding out of him. "I need someone to give me a second chance, really badly. I don't know what to do. I never don't know what to do."
Ianto looks at him for a long moment. Adam squirms.
"Well," says Ianto. "We can rig up some sort of holographic device to hide that gaping hole in your face." He hesitates. "Oh, Jack's going to hate me for this, hypocrite that he is. Come with me, get in the car, and listen up. I'll explain on the way, it's a long drive back to Cardiff and I'll have to stop by UNIT HQ to finish up on the report I'm up here to give."
Adam tries to keep the relieved grin from his face.
Later, when he's sat in the back of the most improbably advanced SUV he's ever seen, Ianto glances at him in the rearview mirror and smiles tightly. "Right. For starters, this is strictly provisional -- you'll have to impress both Jack Harkness and Gwen Cooper, none too easy. If you stay on, and you fuck up, you'll be lucky if you escape with any of your memories intact. Nothing short of the best is good enough, this is a job that will own you, body and soul . . ."
"Some pep talk," Adam murmurs as Ianto keeps talking, but he doesn't say it very loud. He sits back, watching as London recedes away, and he hopes that this might finally be the start of a decent life, something worth doing.
"Reckon you might just be proud of me someday," he says to the sky, thinking of a little blue box and all those worlds packed inside.