Two Years Later. (Christmas 2015.)
The boy known to the world as Alexander Saxon was woken on Boxing Day by his mother knocking on his bedroom door. He curled up under his duvet for a moment, wishing to hold onto the last wisp of a dream... A strange sort of dream, where his uncle was sitting by his bed, telling him a bedtime story. Except it was a very sad story, about a thousand little space ships - sharp and pointy like needles - falling towards the Earth and Uncle trying to catch them - folding and refolding time over and over - but he still couldn’t save them all. It had to be a dream because Uncle didn’t come visit at all yesterday, and when he focussed he couldn’t sense the TARDIS nearby.
Finally he gave up trying to remember any more details, pulled himself together, and got out of bed.
Opening up his wardrobe, he lingered only for a moment by the beautiful silk robe within - so much more comfortable than stupid, constrictive human clothing - before carefully putting on his new ‘best’ clothes (slightly too big), and then pulled a face at himself in the mirror, because he always looked like his father’s Mini-Me when he was all dressed up.
Pondering the problem, he dug out a jar of hair gel that he’d ‘borrowed-without-permission’ from his uncle and made his short, blonde hair stick up in many many spikes. It made him look not entirely unlike a Vinvocci hybrid, but it’d certainly made Aunt Emily frown...
Standing up straight, he studied himself with mock-seriousness.
“I am the Seeker - and I seek a family that doesn’t suck!”
No, it didn’t really have a very good ring to it. Well, maybe the next generation would grow up sensible and amicable - or the one after that. Or the one after that... He had time, after all. So, so much time - centuries and centuries stretching out in front of him, making his poor human relations’ lives seem horribly short and muted in comparison. It wasn’t fair really, but then life wasn’t fair, full stop. Funny that he’d needed the Schism to learn that lesson - it seemed so obvious in hindsight.
For a moment he entertained himself with imagining what Uncle George’s reply would be, if he responded to the annual ‘So how old are you now, young man?’ with ‘Eight, Uncle George. And for my birthday, I got to see eternity!’
Poor Uncle George, he’d get all befuddled. And Aunt Emily would think it a hidden insult of some mysterious sort and be even more horrid. It still made for a funny scene. Then he noticed that he was hungry - and that there were delicious smells coming from downstairs - and bolted down the stairs so fast that it made his mother tell him off.
She didn’t say anything about the hair, but he could tell she wasn’t pleased.
As he started tucking in he heard the front door open, and a second later his uncle’s voice rang out, declaring that he could murder a full English breakfast.
After hanging up his coat - which was wet from snow or rain or goodness knew what, even when craning his neck the Seeker couldn’t quite tell - Uncle sat down at the table, smiling widely at the plate that was put in front of him.
“You smell like burnt metal and ozone,” the Seeker said suspiciously, remembering his dream, and then wrinkled his nose.
His uncle’s head snapped up, and he stared at the Seeker with the strangest look on his face - amusement and sadness and exasperation all mixed up, and the Seeker felt sure that he’d never get the hang of his uncle’s weird Christmas moods.
He almost asked what had happened - why was Uncle so late, and had his dream been real after all - but decided against it, since he didn’t like stories with kissing in. It was OK when it was Mum and Dad, but he’d once walked in on Uncle snogging River and had seriously contemplated trying to do a mind wipe on himself.
“Did someone say murder?”
His father’s voice cut through his thoughts, and he saw Uncle roll his eyes.
“Morning Master,” Uncle said, as the Seeker turned happily.
“Good morning, Dad!”
His father grinned, and made a great show of very carefully pretend-patting his head, not touching any of the spikes. “Ready to face the dragons, Seeker, my boy?”
“Oh, yeah,” he answered. “Piece of cake. They don’t even breathe real fire or anything.”
“That’s the spirit!” Dad smiled, taking a seat.
The Seeker smiled back, before finishing off his breakfast, silently contemplating just how different he was now to the boy who had hated Boxing Day so intensely - new name, new outlook, new everything. No - that wasn’t quite right... It was more that he’d become himself, completely. Like the creation of a diamond: His whole being crystallised and thrown into proper focus. Or something like that. He really ought to give up on trying to find a good metaphor, linguistic acrobatics weren’t his forte.
Still, the main point remained - things were different now. For starters, this year he had A Plan.
As they were getting ready to leave, he turned to his uncle. “Uncle... you know you forgot to make it snow yesterday.”
Uncle looked like he’d been hit very hard. “I’m sorry, Seeker, I- there were these-”
“It’s okay,” he cut in, because Uncle rambled when he got into apology-mode. “But I was going to ask... Could you instead make it warm today? Not hot, just warm and dry enough to play out?”
His uncle hesitated. “I’m not sure that’d be very good for the environment...”
“Oh, the humans are screwing that up anyway. Go on - please?”
Uncle looked unsure, but then Dad joined in, just like the Seeker had known that he would.
“You absolute misery-guts. You don’t turn up for Christmas, you don’t make it snow... The boy just wants a bit of nice weather; won’t kill you, will it?”
“Well...” Uncle started, looked from one to the other, and then folded. The Seeker hugged him happily, profuse in this gratitude. Sometimes it was almost too easy...
As he and Mum stood outside the train station a little while later, waiting to be picked up (the Seeker worriedly checking up on his spikes - Leia had been poking around), Mum caught his attention.
“Alexander. You will remember not to say anything-”
“Mum!” he countered, reproachfully. He never slipped up anymore, she knew that. Balancing two worlds wasn't a problem anymore, since those worlds were now properly defined, and it was impossible to confuse who they saw (Alex), with who he really was (the Seeker) - the human ‘mask’ he had to wear as simple and easy to slip on and off as the bracelet that concealed his second heartbeat, and just as effective.
Then he unbuttoned his coat, because it was indeed getting warmer.
As he’d predicted, Aunt Emily did think his hair looked atrocious. Of course what she said, was “Well, that certainly is an interesting hairstyle,” and smiled with deep insincerity.
The Seeker responded with a “Thank you, Aunt Emily” so polite it would have done Ianto Jones proud.
Anything they could do, he could do better...
At dinner he had been positioned with Aunt Margaret on one side, a hedge fund manager uncle on the other, and Aunt Emily across the table - none of them paying him the least bit of attention.
But the food was good - really good, why had he never noticed that before? - and, despite the usual endlessness of the meal, boredom was never an option anymore.
Every moment - every waking second - he saw Time. All of time: Past; present; future. Endless timelines, endless possibilities - an infinitely complicated and intricate web, mesmerising and extraordinary.
It had been tricky to get used to, if he was honest... It was entirely too easy to get lost, to drift away in the sheer joy and wonder of forever. He knew his school reports said that he’d become inattentive, but then he was so far ahead anyway that it didn’t matter. And here he didn’t even want to pay attention to life around him.
However, the problem with being a million miles away became apparent when Great Aunt Margaret had to ask him repeatedly for the salt, before finally tapping his arm to catch his attention. As he handed it over - his only thanks being mutterings about 'young people these days' - he saw Aunt Emily shooting him evil looks, and in return smiled his widest, most enigmatic Saxon Smile (TM), which caused her to falter for just a moment, before covering up her discomfort with a patently fake smile.
Picking up his fork, he wondered what would happen if his family ever let loose and had a proper big argument, the way Martha's family did sometimes. Would it clear the air - or just make things worse? Humans were such surprising, unpredictable creatures, that either option was as valid as the other...
When dinner was finally done, and all the children were herded off, the Seeker stopped Geoffrey in the hallway. “Listen - it looks like a nice day. How about going outside and playing cricket?”
Geoffrey studied him suspiciously. “You like cricket?”
The Seeker nodded. “I’m brilliant.”
Geoffrey’s eyes narrowed - the inbuilt competitiveness of sportsmen everywhere rearing his head - and then looked out the window. “Yeah... why not?"
An hour later, and the Seeker was so engrossed in the game that it took him a moment to take on board Geoffrey’s appreciative “You’re not half bad, Alex!”
“Told you!” he replied, and resolved to do something really spectacular and tricky to impress his cousin further.
192 seconds later precisely, he broke a window.
A terrified silence fell over all the cousins, as they turned to look at the black hole that had appeared in an ancient windowpane.
“My Mum,” Geoffrey said, voice low with terror, “is going to kill you!”
But the Seeker had two simultaneous thoughts, neither of them about Aunt Emily:
One, this would be the perfect way of getting home early.
Two - he didn’t want to go. He was having fun. On Boxing Day. His plan had been an even greater success than he’d expected it to.
Oh, he was brilliant!
A wide, triumphant grin spread across his face as he swung his bat onto his shoulder, and then turned to his cousin.
“She gets to try, Geoffrey! After all, I’m sure she doesn’t want to spoil Boxing Day...”