Rating: PG-13, for language
Summary: An AU based in the universe of the BBC's Doctor Who. The newest incarnation of The Doctor finds himself in L.A. on New Year's Eve in 2010, fighting once again to save Humanity. And perhaps in need of a companion to accompany him on his adventures.
Notes: For ismenin. I hope it satisfies! Happy Holidays!
"All I'm saying is that the chicks love it, okay?" Out of the mirror, a pair of brown eyes stares back, incredulous. "Seriously. You know those bands, man, Fall Out Boy, The Killers, those guys have been doing this for years, and the girls go crazy for it!" With the ease of long practice, the well-muscled young man glides the pencil under his own brown eyes, first the right, then the left, while his companion shifts impatiently. The single bare light bulb hanging above the sink swings a bit, and flickers.
"Whatever, dude. You L.A. boys can do what you want, but I'm not putting that crap all over my face." His lips twist up in a grimace of distaste as his friend repeats the motion on his eyelids and then pauses to smudge the corners with quick, deft strokes of his middle finger.
"Yeah, yeah. And we'll see who goes home alone tonight -- and who doesn't go home at all!" The boy with the eyeliner gives the mirror a broad wink, and drops the pencil to the black painted shelf below with a clink. In the next room, the beat suddenly changes, and both the boy and his companion jump to attention, as if stung. "Oh shit, I love this song! Let's go man, time to dance!"
The heavy wooden door bangs shut behind them. Seconds later, the single stall swings open, and a pair of shiny black dress shoes touch lightly down on the stained cement. A slight young man with a crooked nose perched atop a crooked jaw and a pronounced dimple in his unshaven chin, hands shoved firmly in the pockets of his black wool pea coat strides purposefully towards the shelf. He bends easily at the waist, bringing his intelligent blue eyes level with the abandoned eyeliner.
In the mirror, his artfully disheveled blond hair tilts a bit to the right as he narrows his eyes and examines the pencil. With one long-fingered hand, he reaches out and gingerly touches the tip with his index finger, then pulls back lightning-quick, muscles tensed as if expecting a hostile response. When nothing happens, the strange man seems to nod, satisfied, and reaches for the pencil again, this time gripping it between forefinger and thumb and straightens up, lifting it towards the light. Suddenly, the door to the men's room slams open, impacting the wall with impressive force, and the boy with the eyeliner half-jogs through, stopping just short of the spot now occupied by the gentleman in the peacoat. Who despite the noise, hasn't even blinked.
"Oh, sorry man, I didn't know anyone was -- I was just here and -- I just left something here, that's all." He rubs a hand over the back of his dyed black hair, mussing it, and tries again. "Hey, you haven't seen an eye..." He trails off, confused, as the stranger glances at him and then back up at the pencil he's still holding above his head, twisting it back and forth as if to catch the light.
"Looking for this," drawls the man, in a voice that sounds like Manchester, dangerous and dark. It's not really a question. At the other's nod, he raises the pencil even higher, and switches his grip to that one might take on the handle of a knife.
"Yeeeeah. Uh. Did you want to borrow some? You can use as much as you'd like, dude." The boy looks on, concerned, while the man seems to consider.
"No," he says, "thanks," and then drops his eyes, actually looking at the boy for the first time. In a flash, his demeanor changes, and his crooked jaw tilts up into a charming grin. "Oh! Well, actually, now that you mention it, I might at that. Would I, perhaps, be able to borrow this?" His eyes twinkle as he holds the pencil out to the boy, and ups the wattage in his smile. The boy finds he can't help but grin back.
"Sure, sure, man, no problem," the boy sighs in relief. "In fact, you can keep it! I've got plenty more at home!"
Elijah sips thoughtfully at his drink and smiles out over the dance floor. It's not crowded yet, not this early, but it will be. It's New Year's Eve and as far as his little corner of L.A. is concerned, this is the party of the year.
He sets his plastic cup gently down on the bar top, and uses a cocktail napkin to wipe moisture from his short fingers. On the wall behind the bar, a cluttered poster advertises "EPIC New Year's Eve 2011 by MIDNIGHT" in bright colors, on a background field of stars. Underneath the title, jumbled rows of letters reveal the names of the DJs lined up for that night, and although Elijah would never say it to Jack, even he has trouble picking out anyone's handle among the mess. "DJ ELWOOD" is buried somewhere in the middle, and truth be told, he sort of likes it that way.
"Hey, Elwood," breathes a voice in his ear, and whoever it is plants a kiss firmly on his cheek. "Happy New Year, you bastard!"
"Orlando! Happy New Year, man! I'm so glad you made it!" Elijah turns and gathers his old friend in for a hug. Pulling back, he slides his hands down the man's back, holding him at arm's length and looking him over carefully for signs of hard use, pleasantly surprised to find none. Orlando is tall and lanky with a mop of dark curls on top of his head, and a smile so wide it looks as if it might split his face. He's clad in a shiny black button down shirt and leather pants. It looks presentable, even hip from far away, but up this close, Elijah can see the faint pattern of tiny overlapping navy blue triangles, outlined in sparkling thread scattered at random over the material of the shirt. He wrinkles his nose. "Fashion forward as always, I see," he chuckles, and gives Orlando's shoulder a little shove.
"Shut it, arsehole!" Orlando says, but he's laughing as he hops up onto the bar stool next to Elijah. "We can't all be as cool as you, mate! Nice Chucks," he says, pointedly tilting his head down and indicate Elijah's black skinny jeans that taper off at the ankle, just inside the tops of his bright red shoes.
Elijah giggles and rolls his eyes, Orlando's absolute lack of any kind of fashion sense being a bit of a long-standing joke between them, and with a contented sigh, he settles back onto his stool.
Around them, the music is swirling, and overhead, colored lights are flashing here and there, following the beat. Across the dance floor in the DJ booth, he can see Matt - known to the regular crowd here at Midnight as Doc Beats - bouncing along as he flips through his stack of CDs, lining up the next song. More young, beautiful people are starting to trickle in, many of them glammed up, covered in glitter and sequins, and they shimmer and sparkle like jewels as they glide smoothly through the undulating crowd. "It's going to be a great night," Elijah thinks to himself, reveling in the warm glow of happiness he feels spreading outwards from his belly.
"What are you drinking?" Orlando indicates Elijah's mostly empty cup with one hand and nods to the bartender.
"I'll take the usual, Kat," Elijah says as the bartender looks at him expectantly. "Orli, this is Kat. Kat, this is my mate Orlando. He'll have a Stoli and Cranberry, right, Orli?"
Orlando nods, the curls on his head flopping, and gapes a little at Elijah. "You remembered!"
"How could I forget," Elijah teases, "They all love vodka cranberry!"
"Oh, so there are others," Orlando says flinging an arm to his forehead in a mock dramatic fashion, "I just knew it! Twist the knife a little harder, why don't you?"
"Alright, heartbreaker," Elijah grins, "you're the one with eyes for someone else, and you know it. Speaking of, how is Josie?" He picks up the cup Kat sets down in front of him, and looks at Orlando expectantly.
"She's great, man! Home in London for the holidays, though, and jealous as anything that she couldn't be here to see you. She sends her love." Orlando lifts his own drink and holds it out to Elijah in a salute.
"Cheers!" Elijah calls, and Orlando echoes. Their plastic cups clink together before they each take a sip. The sharp taste of gin and tonic water explodes behind Elijah's tongue, the bubbles tickling his nose. "Well, tell that gorgeous creature that I miss her, and that we'll all have to get together in the new year, once things calm down!" Orlando nods, and opens his mouth to respond, but over his shoulder Elijah spots another familiar face heading in his direction, one he can't ignore.
"Hey, sorry, man, but it looks like work is calling. I'll catch up with you later, though?" He pats Orlando's knee apologetically and stands. "My set starts around 11; don't wear yourself out too early!"
"Sure thing, Lij." Orlando smiles and hops up from his stool, sauntering towards the dance floor and past the shorter dirty-blond man whose brown eyes behind his hipster eyeglasses are locked on Elijah's face as he makes his way across the club.
"Sorry to interrupt, Elwood," Jack says, his lips twisted in a grimace, once he's within earshot. "But we've got a bit of a problem."
"No worries, Jack," Elijah answers with a small sigh of trepidation. Jack has only owned Midnight for one year, but the club is already becoming a bit of a hot spot among a certain crowd in L.A. "Of course," thinks Elijah, "that's the way things usually are here -- people and places, they burn fast and hard, then go down in flames or just sputter and die. Either way, you're left with nothing." A small shadow slithers its way into his mind, skittering across the surface of his thoughts, but he shakes his head to clear it. Elijah and Midnight are both still doing well, and there isn't much of a point to worrying about the future. Not on a night like this when they should all be celebrating the successes of the past year.
But Jack is still standing in front of him, and, if anything is prone to under-react, so "a bit of a problem" is more likely than not to be a "really big deal". "What's up?" Elijah asks, and steels himself for the answer.
"Beats thinks one of the speakers just blew, maybe more than one, says a couple of girls came up to the booth complaining that they couldn't hear anything on that side of the room." He gestures over his shoulder at the far corner, which, sure enough, looks strangely empty, considering how packed the rest of the dance floor is starting to seem. Elijah's heart jumps into his throat -- blown speakers could mean a disaster on a night like this -- but Jack's next words force it back down. "We have some old ones in the back that still work, thank god, so the night isn't a total disaster, but I sent Caleb out on a last minute errand and I could really use a little help." He spreads his hands and gives Elijah his best pleading puppy dog eyes.
"Oh, sure, man, of course! Anything I can do, you know that!" Jack's face breaks into a smile of relief, and he points his chin towards the manager's office off the hallway at the end of the bar.
"Thanks, man, thanks a lot. Nothing to worry about, we'll have this taken care of in no time! Go grab a pair of work gloves from my desk and meet me in the back. I'll start digging 'em out." Jack winds his way around the bar and through the swinging doors to the storeroom area, while Elijah heads for the office to find the promised gloves.
As he passes the restrooms, the door to the men's room bursts open with a flurry of activity, and before he can do more than shout in surprise, a man in a wool coat slams into him, forcing him into the wall across the way. For a second, he thinks he's seeing stars, but as he starts to stand up and can't, he realizes it's just little flecks of glitter on the man's coat, seen from very close up.
"Hey, watch it!" Elijah shouts, more shocked than annoyed, and shoves backwards against the weight pinning him to the wall.
"Oh, sorry, mate," says the oddly attractive man, pushing himself back up and brushing off his jacket, "I didn't see you there. I tripped over something coming out of the Gents..." he trails off as he spins in a circle to look where he's just come from, but seems unable to find anything out of the ordinary. "Huh. I could've sworn there was something... Oh!" he exclaims, turning back to Elijah, "You're all over glitter!"
Elijah looks down at his army green button-down and back up at the blond guy whose blue eyes are sparkling in the errant light from the dance floor. "Must've come from you, then. I didn't have any before, and it's all over your coat." Elijah starts to brush absent-mindedly at his shirt, but thinks to himself that he has more important things to worry about right this second than a bit of glitter. The man blinks, and rubs at the stubble on his oddly set jaw.
"So it is, then! That's a bit worrying, isn't it? I know I didn't have any on here before." He reaches across the space separating them, and Elijah's breath catches in his throat as the man's thumb slides gently along his cheekbone. It seems to linger for a moment before he pulls back and slips it between his pink lips, swirling his tongue over it, and then pulling it out again with a little pop, spit glistening on the tip. Elijah exhales.
"Now that is not what I was expecting," the strange man mumbles to himself, and using the same thumb, swipes a bit of glitter from his own jacket into his mouth to taste as well. "Not at all what I was expecting..." He glances suddenly up at Elijah as if he's forgotten the younger man existed -- and maybe he has. "Excuse me! Sorry again for almost braining you. I've got to run!"
And just like that, he's off, rounding the corner out of the hallway, as Elijah calls after him, "There's a coat check downstairs, you know!" And leans back into the embrace of the wall for a second, catching his breath after the odd encounter.
"Cheers, mate!" The blond head pops back around the corner and is gone again before he can answer. Elijah yelps and springs to his feet, hand clutching at his chest.
"Jesus! What was that? Did that guy just eat glitter?" he thinks to himself, and then shakes his head to clear it. "The weirdos always come out on New Year's Eve, don't they? New Year's and full moons. Guess that's what I get for working at a place called 'Midnight'..."
Less than an hour later, Elijah stands upright and wipes the back of his hand across his forehead. Between them, he and Jack were able to pull the speakers out and set them up, one on each side of the room. They'd taken one of the newer speakers from the far side and moved it to the near so that the sound would be more balanced. Then Caleb, the club's sound engineer had returned and had everything working again in minutes, with only the slightest disruption to the flow of the night.
While they worked the dance floor had filled completely, and Elijah now has to wiggle and squeeze his way through the crowd to head back to the bar. He bobs his head and shimmies a bit to the beat as he moves, adrenaline starting to pop and fizz in his veins as the start of his set nears. He just about has time to refill his drink before it will be his turn in the booth. In fact, when he looks up over the heads of the crowd, he can see Doc Beats loading the last disc in on the right hand side of the turntable and starting to pack up. "Wow, there's glitter everywhere tonight," he thinks as the light catches and sparkles on a million tiny particles in hair, on skin, on clothes, "must be a glam heavy crowd this year." Elijah is having trouble admitting it to himself, but he's kept his eyes peeled all night for the mysterious stranger from earlier, although he hasn't, as of yet, spotted him anywhere. And if he's being completely honest with himself, that feeling tickling his throat might just be disappointment. It makes no sense, it isn't as if the guy seemed remotely interested in anything about Elijah other than the randomly appearing glitter, but Elijah can't seem to shake the image of the taller man's smile from his mind. There was something about him that made him oddly compelling, something beyond the unconventional good looks, but Elijah can't quite put his finger on what.
Reaching the edge of the dance floor, still without any sign of the guy, Elijah chalks his attachment up to the excitement of the night, and with a shake of his shoulders, leaves the strange feeling behind along with the crowd and finally reaches the bar.
Kat has his drink ready for him, naturally, she isn't their best bartender for nothing, and he snags it with a wink and a nod of thanks before wading back out. "Once more unto the breach, dear friends," he mumbles under his breath, and catches sight of Orlando, swaying and moving with a pretty girl near the center of the crowd. He stands out, of course, because of his height, but also because even among all of the glitter and sequins, something about Orlando just makes him shine.
Elijah smiles at the sight of his friend in what must surely be his natural element, and scans the crowd one more time, but there's no sign of the particular blond hair or blue eyes that he's looking for. "Oh well. He probably already has someone to kiss at midnight anyway." Wish a shrug, he bounds the few steps up to the swinging door of the booth and slips in, tapping Matt on the shoulder to get his attention. With those headphones on, all the DJ can hear is the music and Elijah is short enough that Matt might have missed him making his way through the crowd.
Matt turns to him and smiles wide, shifting to his left and motioning Elijah forward to fill the gap. "You ready, man?" he asks, removing the large headphones and handing them to Elijah.
"Ready as I'll ever be," Elijah answers with a nervous grin, taking his place at the turntable, and sliding his first selection in to the left-hand side.
Elijah loves being a DJ. The feeling of power and control is unmatched anywhere else in his life. Especially on a night like this. The dance floor is crammed completely full, a sea of bodies, vibrating and undulating in time to his rhythm, moving according to his whims. It's a bit like magic, in a way. Elijah waves his arm and the crowd waves back, jumping, pulsing, beating right along with his heart.
This particular crowd seems even more in thrall than usual, although that can probably be attributed to the holiday. Elijah recognizes several regulars among the revelers, but is surprised to note that there are plenty of new faces as well, all smiling, all dancing. Even Kat is getting into the rhythm, gliding back and forth behind the bar, and Elijah allows himself a small moment of pride at being the one responsible for their fun.
He looks down, shuffling through his CD cases, searching for just the right song to keep the holiday mood going, and when he looks back up, his heart does what feels like a 360 in his chest and starts thundering wildly against his ribs. Standing right in front of him underneath the booth is the strange man from earlier, and his blue eyes that had seemed so friendly before are staring daggers, right at Elijah.
Somehow he's the only one in the whole place not dancing. He's just standing there, muscled forearms folded across his chest, eyes boring holes into the booth, and into Elijah. He's shed the peacoat, finally, and is wearing an electric blue t-shirt with some sort of design, Elijah can't really make it out from here, and a red striped tie; an unusual combination but weirdly it seems to suit him somehow. Elijah swallows, and tries a smile, raising his right hand and giving a small wave, but the man's frown just deepens.
Elijah's face falls, and he looks back at his CDs, confused. He grabs the nearest one, not even caring anymore what he's putting on, and shoves it into the deck, flipping a few pages before grabbing another to replace the song that's about to near its end. Unable to help himself, he glances up again, hoping he's just misinterpreted the stranger's look, maybe because he isn't wearing his glasses or something --
-- and finds himself staring straight at a white cocktail napkin pressed against the plastic enclosure of the DJ booth, with a message scrawled on it in messy black letters. It looks to Elijah as if it's written in crayon, or maybe -- is that -- eyeliner?
"DO NOT REMOVE HEADPHONES."
"What the hell?" Elijah asks out loud, knowing no one is around to hear. He tries to peek around the napkin to see who is holding it in place, although he's pretty sure he knows what he'll find, but the angle is wrong, he can't quite see. He reads the note again just to be sure he isn't missing something.
"DO NOT REMOVE HEADPHONES."
"Well, of course not," he thinks, "I'm working. Why would I take my headphones off? Unless I were going to leave the booth."
As if the note-writer is somehow reading his mind, the first napkin disappears, to be quickly replaced with another, this one with a single message written on it on three lines.
"FOLLOW ME. OUTSIDE. NOW."
"What?" Elijah all but shouts, "Why?" Another napkin.
"I'LL EXPLAIN OUTSIDE."
The napkins disappear, and sure enough, it's the stranger looking back at Elijah, eyebrows raised in anticipation. "Come on!" he mouths, and Elijah shakes his head. "But I'm working!" The stranger rolls his eyes, and holds up yet another napkin.
"EMERGENCY. NO ONE IS SAFE."
"Emergency!" Elijah's pulse pounds in his neck. "What do you mean? Who are you?"
The man shakes his head violently and holds up the "FOLLOW ME" napkin again. Elijah gets the distinct impression that the man doesn't think much of his intelligence, but he isn't sure what he's supposed to do, just leave the booth to follow some random stranger out in to the night? With a sigh he realizes that yes, that's exactly what he's supposed to do. And more to the point, it's what he's going to do, although he hasn't the faintest clue why.
"I must be crazy," he thinks to himself, and then slips another disc into the turntable, before reaching up to take the headphones off --
The man slams his hand into the DJ booth, over and over, shaking the enclosure and managing to attract Elijah's attention again. He holds up the first napkin and pounds it on the booth.
"DO NO REMOVE HEADPHONES."
"Well what, then?" asks Elijah, completely exasperated. "Am I supposed to bring them with me?" The incredulous look on the man's face is answer enough. Elijah unplugs the headphones from the deck, cutting off his connection to the music. An eery silence descends. He can still feel the beat through the soles of his shoes, feel it rumbling in his chest, still see the crowd moving to it, but he can't hear anything at all.
"Yup. I'm insane. This is insane!" he thinks again, turning to leave the booth. The man is waiting for him at the bottom of the stairs, tapping his foot impatiently.
"Okay," says Elijah, "now what?" Without a word, the man turns, leading Elijah towards the emergency exit down the hallway behind the booth. The door is alarmed, and Elijah starts to shout a warning, but the man stops in front of it, reaching into the pocket of his trousers and pulling something out. Then he does something Elijah can't see, and when he puts the object back in his pocket and pushes on the door, it swings open and no warning bells seem to be going off. Of course, Elijah doesn't think he'd be able to hear them if they did, but it sure seems like the alarm is disabled. Blinking, he follows the guy outside into the back alley.
The man slams the door behind them, reaching out for Elijah's shoulder and spinning him around, indicating that he should remove his headphones. Elijah raises an eyebrow, but does, bracing himself for -- he realizes he has no idea what to expect, but he tries to brace himself nonetheless. He pulls the headphones off, but nothing happens.
Taking a deep breath, Elijah shakes his head. "Okay can you explain to me what the fuck is going on here?"
The blond man reaches out to him, taking the headphones from his nerveless fingers, and pulls the odd metallic object out of his pocket again, pointing it at them purposefully. The end of the device lights up, a bright yellow color, and it lets out a high-pitched whine. "I'm not sure just yet, but I assure you, I am going to find out. What's your name?"
He looks up at Elijah. "It's. I'm. Elijah. What the fuck is this? What is that thing? Who are you?" The man switches the device off and places it back in his pocket.
"Nice to meet you, Elijah. I'm The Doctor," he says, and holds out a hand, "And that was my sonic screwdriver."
"Sonic what? Doctor who?" asks Elijah, taking it automatically.
"Screwdriver, and just 'The Doctor'," he says, and shakes.
"Yeah, right man. There are 3 other doctors here tonight - this club is full of DJs. Doctor what? What's your handle?"
"That's it. Just 'The Doctor'. But if it means you'll shut up and let me work, you can call me whatever you damn well please!" He bends back to the headphones, twisting them around in his hands. "Aha! Noise-canceling headphones, are they? Just as I thought. They're keeping whatever it is from affecting you, which means it must be --"
"Keeping what from affecting me? What the hell are you talking about?"
"You mean you haven't noticed?" the Doctor asks, "Oh, you're thicker than I thought!" Elijah looks at him, not comprehending. "Those people in that club are in terrible danger, Elijah."
"From what?" Elijah asks. He's pretty sure he's never been more confused -- and come to think of it, insulted -- in his life.
"They can't stop dancing. Did you look at them? Really look? Ever since you started in the booth, every single person in that club has been dancing. Every one of them except for you and me. Doesn't that seem odd to you?"
"Not really, man. This is a club. It's New Year's Eve." It's Elijah's turn to look incredulous. He folds his own arms across his chest.
"But all of them? Have you ever seen something like that? No one at the bar is even ordering a drink. They can't. It's like they're under some kind of spell!"
"A spell? Seriously?"
"Well, not a spell, exactly," says the Doctor. He's pacing a little, gesturing emphatically with the headphones as he speaks. "But like a spell. Something is forcing them to move, and they have no control over their own bodies!"
"I don't know..." says Elijah. He thinks back to his vantage from the booth. He had noticed that even Kat was dancing, but it didn't seem like anything out of the ordinary. This is a club. People dance. Especially when the music is good. And Elijah'd been working hard to make sure that it was. Damn good.
"Come on, Elijah. Trust me! We don't have time for this!" As if to underscore his point, Elijah's watch beeps once, and he looks at it. 11:45. If this Doctor is right, those people have been dancing non-stop for 45 minutes, with no breaks, nothing to drink. They must bet wearing themselves out. If the Doctor is right.
"But why should I trust you?" Elijah asks, "I'm not even sure why I followed you out here."
"Why would I make something like this up?" The Doctor just looks at him, exasperated. "Oh, alright, fine, but we're wasting time here. Put your headphones back on, go inside, and take a look. But whatever you do, don't take them off okay? I need some help with this and you're the only one left!"
"Gee, thanks," thinks Elijah bitterly, "glad I'm your first choice," but he takes the proffered headphones and slips them over his ears, reaching for the door.
He jogs quickly back down to the end of the hallway, peeking carefully around the corner. Sure enough, everyone is still dancing, gyrating in time to the beat. It's as if he never left. Nearest to Elijah, a brown-haired girl in a gold sequined top and white jeans, with glitter on all of her exposed skin, smiles at him, swinging her hips, and beckoning him towards the floor. Elijah smiles at her, and shakes his head, but he doesn't see any signs of anything wrong, and he's about to go tell that strange Doctor just where to put his insane theories.
Right before he turns, though, the crowd parts for a second, and he catches a glimpse of Orlando twisting and turning, surrounded by people. Pausing, Elijah searches his friend's face -- and what he sees there makes his blood run cold. Orlando looks exhausted. His normally vibrant brown eyes are dull, the hollows around them deep and dark, and his cheekbones stand out in sharp relief in his pale face. Now that Elijah is really looking, he can see that Orlando doesn't look so much like he's dancing, more like he's writhing. But worse than that, somehow Orlando senses him watching and spins a little, catching his eye, and the pain Elijah can see there is more than enough to convince him.
He turns on his heel and runs for the back door as fast as he can, bursting out into the alley where the mysterious Doctor is waiting. He slams the door behind him, leaning on it and breathing hard, then rips the headphones from his ears.
"Oh my god. You're right. What the hell could make them do that?" he chokes out, in between breaths, "And more importantly, how do we stop it?"
"Now you're with me!" The Doctor seems strangely exhilarated, almost excited. "Think! What could make people do that? Seem like they are dancing, even when they don't want to move?"
"I don't know," cries Elijah, and to his embarrassment it comes out more than a bit like a whine. He grabs his head as if force of will alone could rip the necessary information from his brain.
"Okay," says the Doctor, starting to pace again, "what do we know?" Elijah shakes his head. "You had on noise-canceling head phones, and you weren't affected. Everyone else was. Everyone. So it has to be something they are hearing. Some kind of signal, maybe? Carried in the music?"
"What about you?" Elijah finally thinks to ask. He feels as if he's trying to swim through caramel, his thoughts slow and sticky.
"What about me, what?" Asks the Doctor, pausing in his steps.
"Why weren't you dancing?"
"Oh, well," says the Doctor, "never mind that. I'm special."
Elijah snorts. "Special? Oh yeah, that sounds like a very scientific reason --"
The Doctor's eyes suddenly light up. "Oh Elijah! You're brilliant! It only works on humans! Of course! Why didn't I think of that?"
"Humans? What --" Elijah hadn't thought it was possible to feel any more confused than he already did, but the implication in the Doctor's last statement had him reeling. "What do you mean 'only humans'?"
"I'll explain later, I promise," says the Doctor, stopping in front of Elijah, and placing both of his hands on the sides of Elijah's face, forcing him to focus. "But right now I need your help. Whatever is doing this to those people, it's acting on their central nervous systems. It's some kind of signal, being carried by the sound. How is it getting to them, Elijah? How?"
Elijah's already large blue eyes widen even more. "It's in the sound waves? It has to be -- but it can't -- the speakers!"
"What about the speakers, Elijah? Come on, what about them?" The pressure from his hands increases, and Elijah gasps.
"Two of them broke earlier. Jack -- the owner -- he had some old ones in the back, we hooked them up instead."
"Which ones! Quick, Elijah, think. Which speakers did you replace?"
"One on each side, uh. Closest to the bar on the left, furthest away on the right." The Doctor relaxes his grip, and steps back, whooping almost with joy. Elijah's face tingles where the Doctor's hands had touched him, and he reaches up to rub at his cheeks. "Why? What do you think is wrong with them?"
"It's not what's wrong with them. It's what's in them!" He laughs, more than a little crazy sounding, and reaches in his pocket for the tool he'd used earlier. His 'sonic screwdriver.'
"This whole thing is nuts," Elijah thinks to himself, but before he has time to do more than that, the Doctor is speaking again.
"Come on Elijah. Put those headphones back on and come with me. And don't take them off until I tell you it's alright. We're going to save New Year's Eve."
Puzzled by his strange phrasing, but nonetheless eager to obey, Elijah nods, and does as he's told. His heart is pounding and his breath is coming in gasps, and somehow he's sure that he's never felt more alive than he does right at this second.
With one last backward glance to be sure Elijah is ready, the Doctor yanks open the door and takes off running down the corridor with Elijah hot on his heels. He rounds the corner out of the hallway, almost diving through the crowd for the nearest speaker, which happens to be one of the replacements Elijah had seated earlier.
Almost obligingly, the crowd seems to shift around them, still caught in their endless loop of movement, allowing them a clear spot to stand. The Doctor points his screwdriver at various spots on the speaker, and although Elijah knows he can't hear it, his brain supplies the strange hum he'd heard earlier as the screws on the speaker casing start to slide out, one by one.
Suddenly, though, the Doctor's shoulder twitches, and he jerks the screwdriver up and away from the speaker, a look of confusion on his face. He pauses for a second, but nothing further happens, so he takes aim again -- and this time his other shoulder begins to twist, yanking his body offline. Elijah watches the realization dawn on his face as first his right and then his left foot start to shift, causing him to shuffle in place. Elijah moans, and clutches his stomach, wondering what on Earth he can possibly do to stop this and save his friends if the Doctor is incapacitated.
But before he can give up completely, the Doctor forces his shoulder back down and the screwdriver back in to place. Whatever is happening, it doesn't seem to be working completely right. The Doctor still has some control over his body parts, although he can't stop himself from moving, and he's able to coordinate his shifts and jerks into a sort of choreographed dance of speaker destruction. His tie swings wildly as he moves, and the muscles in his back stretch and pull under the tight t-shirt. Elijah lets out the breath he hadn't realized he was holding and tries to help direct the Doctor when he seems to be sliding too far out of reach.
As they work, Elijah sees a couple of sparks pop out of the casing, and smoke starts to rise from the back of the speaker. With one last big heave, the Doctor twists around, pointing the screwdriver over his shoulder at the other speaker across the room and shuffling in that direction. It's over within seconds - the second speaker goes and half of the crowd around them collapses, leaning on each other or giving up right where they stand and sliding to the floor. The other half all turn towards them, anger in their eyes and disappointment on their faces.
Someone on his right slides the headphones from his ears, and Elijah gasps and looks at the Doctor, blinking stupidly.
"It's over, Elijah. You can take them off now." Even the Doctor is breathing hard, exhausted from his fight with the -- whatever it was. Elijah still isn't sure that he really understands what just happened.
"What was that? Are you okay? Who are they?" The dancers that are still on their feet are milling around a bit in confusion, shooting strange glances in their direction as they seem to group together and mumble among themselves. Elijah spots Orlando draped across one of the speakers nearby and with a cry, rushes to help his friend, pulling him to a sitting position and bracing him against the wall. Orlando looks up at him gratefully, still too tired to speak.
"Glitterati," says the Doctor, following him over slowly, and it comes out with a small sigh. "I didn't see it earlier because they blend in so well, but look at them, Elijah. See that glitter on their skin?" Elijah looks and nods. Like the girl who'd invited him to dance earlier, every inch of exposed skin on each and every one of them is shining and flickering in the light. "That isn't some kind of makeup or glue. It's their skin. They shed, of course, like mad, that's how we ended up with glitter all over us before. I just didn't realize..."
"But. How is that possible?" Elijah feels as if he's had the rug pulled out from under him, as if his whole life up until this point has been some kind of a lie.
"They're aliens, Elijah," says the Doctor, not unkindly.
"I -- Oh." Elijah's mouth opens and shuts like a fish, but try as he might he can't get any real words out. He's not even sure what he would say if he could.
"Oi, you!" the Doctor calls, and the girl Elijah recognizes from before turns around and steps carefully towards them over the still worn-out bodies laying across the floor.
"Aw, we were just having a little fun," she pouts, once she's close enough to make conversation possible, "why'd you have to ruin it?"
"You were killing those people," cries the Doctor, exasperated, "why -- and how?"
"Oh, it's easy!" She giggles and tosses her hair over her shoulder. "Our modulators," she indicates the now-blown speakers with a flip of her hand, "turned the sound waves into electrical impulses that flow into the humans' central nervous systems and control their movements. As long as the music was playing, they had to dance. We just wanted someone to dance with on New Year's Eve! We would've stopped soon, and moved on to the next place." Her pretty lips push out into an even prettier pout, and she flutters her eyelashes at the Doctor who moans and rubs his forehead.
"You came to Earth on a New Year's Eve bar-hopping expedition?" "Well, yeah! First stop, anyway. Earth has the most rockin' parties!" She laughs again, and behind her several of the others echo her giggles, throwing metal horns and sticking out their tongues. For the Doctor, this seems to be the last straw.
"Out, all of you. Get out of my sight, right now. Or there will be consequences for your actions." He says the last part through clenched teeth, hands balled into fists at his sides, and the girl takes an involuntary step back, eyes wide.
"Ok, man, chill out! We're going! There's a wicked cool party planet over in the Saturnalia galaxy we wanted to hit next, anyway. Who needs humans?" She giggles again, and turns back to her friends. Although Elijah notices that she wastes no time in rounding them up and heading for the door.
As the last of them exit, the Doctor's fists slowly unclench, and the lines in his forehead smooth out, returning to normal.
Hesitantly, Elijah asks the one question still weighing on his mind. "So... if aliens really do exist, and you aren't human, then why did it work on you?"
"The modulators must have a biological component, and they tweaked the signal," the Doctor says, looking away, "figuring out that it didn't work on me. They found the frequency for Time Lord, I guess. I'm a Time Lord, Elijah," the Doctor turns towards him with eyes full of sadness, "I could never be anything to you other than a friend, even if. Well. If I --"
Elijah shakes his head, blushing madly. "No, I. Well. I mean, I wasn't. I --" just at that moment, the part of the sound system that still works begins to count loudly and rhythmically down from ten, Elijah's watch beeping out a warning into the now quiet club.
Feeling suddenly courageous -- after all, how much weirder could things possibly get -- Elijah steps forward, taking one of the Doctor's hands in his and raising his head, locking his wide blue eyes with the Doctor's own. The Doctor sighs, small and quiet, and tilts his chin down a little, just enough that Elijah can reach up and touch their lips together, pink and soft and oh so sweet. The kiss goes on forever and yet somehow takes no time at all, and when the clock finally strikes twelve and the Doctor pulls away, the light in his smile is blinding.
Elijah has never seen anything so beautiful.