sam_storyteller: (Default)
sam_storyteller ([personal profile] sam_storyteller) wrote2005-07-17 12:57 pm

In Another Life: Story Notes


I blame [ profile] spiderine for this. And [ profile] jeanquirieplus just a little.

The whole thing started with a review post: Sam's Three Things about Journey's End. While I didn't really address the prime wankpoint of the episode, Donna's mindwipe, I was definitely interested in the secondary wankpoint, the Doctor leaving his human self in Pete's World with Rose. Spider pointed out that the Doctor was still the Doctor and no doubt there would still be grand adventures even if he didn't have his TARDIS or his Screwdriver (trufax: in the original shooting script, 10.5 gives Human!Ten a bit of TARDIS coral to grow his own with). I imagined him building his own screwdriver, and from there perhaps a spaceship.

There used to be a link here to the original discussion thread, but it was lost when my journal was hacked. I announced I didn't have time to write the fic, and then did it anyway. I really didn't have time, but -- well, fandom finds a way, I suppose.

I don't write much Doctor Who fic, mainly because it took me a while to get up to speed on, you know, fifty years of canon. Besides, it's intimidating to try and get into the headspace of a brilliant near-immortal alien. I think one of the reasons I was able to execute this fic at all was that the Doctor was human. His mind may have been intact, but he still had to learn to live as a human in one place and time with the anticipation of death relatively close at hand, compared to where he stood in regards to death as a Time Lord.

This is one of the hardest stories I've ever written, I think, just in terms of trying to get it completed and up to my standards. I don't know if its reads as raw and sharp-edged as it felt while writing it -- probably not -- but it touched several personal nerves for me. Cathartic, yes, but difficult because of that. I do know that I've had an unusual number of people claim that it inspired vivid dreams after reading, which is gratifying in a strange way.

I hadn't actually seen Rise of the Cybermen or Age of Steel (the Pete's World episodes) when I started writing this, and it had been a long time since I'd seen Army of Ghosts or Doomsday. Once I'd finished the fic I went back and reviewed them, which meant I had to rework a lot of the Torchwood backstory. I'd forgotten that the alternate universe had a Torchwood as well, but I needed something similar to Torchwood to provide some of the story's infrastructure. Originally the Torchwood you see in this fic was Tyler Universal Laboratories, and Ianto was the survivor of a different disaster entirely by a Torchwood that had existed and been destroyed. This is the original story Ianto tells the Doctor:

"They scrounged a warhead from a downed ship. We reckon it was a dud; something wrong in the firing mechanism, probably."

"Messing about with things you don't understand," the Doctor said.

"Well, how else are we going to learn anything? We won't understand it ever if we don't mess about," Ianto retorted. The other man looked surprised. "And I think it's pretty inconsiderate of aliens to treat the place like a junk heap and never send any salvage teams."

"What happened, Ianto?" Ms. Tyler asked gently.

"The team opened it up and started studying the wiring. Or they were going to. I don't know if they got that far or not. The warhead went off...shot straight up, practically vaporised part of the basement. We were lucky...we were on the ground floor, and Lisa was safety captain. We started tunnelling..." He stopped, clenched his fists, fought down the tight sensation in his chest. "A ceiling tile fell when we were almost out. Sheared her arm off at the shoulder. I had to drag her out."

Elements of the destruction of Torchwood probably linger in some situations throughout the fic, but I've done my best to work it up to canon compliance.

One of the things I knew I wanted to incorporate was the Doctor's parallel to Peter Wimsey. I spent a long time considering what name he'd take for himself, because I wanted the story to end with him being named, since as a human he would need one, and it would have to be a climactic event. John Smith was too close to his old self, so I discarded it; I went through various kings and historical figures until I realised the Doctor wouldn't want to be a king and most historical figures are historical for being kind of bastardy.

I finally settled on Peter as a good name without too much romance, but not too plain. I was still iffy about it because yeah, it is a little bit hinky to name your boyfriend after your dad, but it also occurred to me that there was a possibility for a parallel with Peter Wimsey, hero of Dorothy Sayers' mystery novels. Wimsey is a clever, witty English aristocrat whose experiences as an officer during WWI left him severely traumatised, and still reverberate for him years later.

The quotes from Sayers books throughout the fic have sometimes been compressed for pithiness; they cover everything from Whose Body, the first chronological novel (and the first novel written, though short stories predate it) to Busman's Honeymoon, the last. Close readers will also note the appearance of Bernard Black, irascible Irish hero of Black Books, and Mr. Fell, the angelic book not-quite-seller of Good Omens, when the Doctor buys his first books.

I think Peter Hawthorn suits the Doctor. I've always wanted to give someone the last name Hawthorn, and as Rose says it does indicate a certain putting-down of roots.

That British Library card, by the way, is a manip of a real one; it's a "reader's card", and I felt that in all it was the most appropriate one to give to Peter as an endnote. He looks happy, don't you think?


Missing Scene Fragments

At one point, before I conceived of Davros as the villain in the piece, I wanted the "three horsemen" to simply be violent invaders from another universe who believe the Doctor can get them home. With that in mind they were more set on personal destruction than they became under Davros, and I had to remove a huge chunk of the story. I kept what I didn't cannibalise for the new version, and you can see some of it below, including I think a rather good account of Ianto interacting with a homebrewed Ghost Machine (hearkening back to the utterly forgettable third episode of Torchwood S1).

Ianto was one of the first people the Doctor saw when they pulled up to the lab complex -- he was sitting on the back of an ambulance in the car-park, an oxygen mask strapped to his face, blood spatter on the sleeve of his left arm. Beyond him the labs were burning, flames licking out of the nearest windows, threatening the big hangar where Rose worked. Firemen were running back and forth, shouting orders.

Ianto looked up as they leapt out of the car, and immediately pulled off the oxygen mask, tossing it down carelessly.

"Ms. Tyler's safe," he said, before either man could say anything. "Mrs. Tyler and Tony as well. None of the equipment was stolen. The fire isn't in our lab."

"Where's Rose?" the Doctor demanded. "Are you all right?"

"Dunno where she went, but I saw her get out okay. It's not my blood," Ianto said, nodding at his sleeve.

"What happened here?" Pete asked. The younger man chewed his lip.

"They were looking for you," he said quietly, to the Doctor. "They came in with guns and said they were looking for you, and then they started shooting people."

"Doctor! Dad!"

Pete caught Rose up in a tight hug before he even managed to turn around; when he did she all but leapt from her father's arms to his, holding his body tightly.

"I was so scared," she whispered in his ear. "I thought they'd shot you."

"I told you this morning, I was home today," he answered, skimming his fingers through her hair, down her throat and over her shoulders, looking for injuries. "Are you hurt?"

"I wasn't thinking logically, they had guns! I didn't even see them. I'm all right," she added, when he tipped her head up to check the dilation of her pupils. "Mum and Tony are fine too. They're doing headcounts now. Oh, Ianto," she added, dismayed, catching his left arm and holding it up. "What happened to you?"

"Spatter," Ianto said distantly. "I'm fine."


At the final count, that evening, there were seven dead. Mary Ellen had been shot without even a question; two people in the hallway as well. He didn't know the names of the people nearest the entryway as well as he did his immediate neighbours, but he'd seen them coming and going and been faintly amused by their toddler-like rummagings in the world of physics and technology. Now two of them were dead, as well as Nelda and Mary Ellen and Stanley and Stanley's two assistants, Mike and Tracey. They'd taken a wrong turn into Stanley's lab, which was all that had saved Ianto from a bullet to the head. Instead Ianto had fetched up the as-yet uncalibrated sonic modulator and switched it on from their own lab.

Some of the blood on the shirt had to be his, because he'd been bleeding out his ears when it finally failed and died.


"Right then. Keep back against the wall," the Doctor ordered, and bent down, pressing a large button on the top of the ghost machine.

Immediately the dim hallway brightened, and Ianto thought for one insane moment that perhaps it was just a superpowered lightbulb. Then he began to hear it -- the low murmuring not of crime-scene officials but of lab techs and machinery. And, strangest of all, he could see himself standing at the far end of the hall, taking a coffee break with Mary Ellen. He glanced sidelong at Rose, who was standing nearby, and the Doctor, who had begun to walk down towards the phantoms.

For that minute, perhaps a little longer, everything was crystal clear, but as soon as the Doctor reached the other end of the hallway and there was a clatter that signified the opening of the front doors, it was as if reality...blipped. It jumped like a bad television cut; he was standing in some dark underground place for a second, and then back in the hallway, and then back in the cave.

Not a cave -- some kind of building, damp, smelling the way Cardiff had on days the wind blew the salt in off the water. He turned around and saw another version of himself, standing over some kind of table. No, a drawer. A morgue locker-drawer. Writing on a clipboard as another man approached -- Captain Harkness, the Doctor's friend.

Distantly, he heard shouting; Rose and the Doctor, something about slippage and pulling him back. But he couldn't move -- this wasn't any memory he'd had and yet at the same time it was intensely familiar. There was a body lying in that drawer, waiting to be tucked away.

"Thanks for doing this," Captain Harkness drawled in his American accent.

"Part of my job, sir," he heard himself say.

"No, I should be doing it, but..." Harnkess sighed. "One day, we're gonna run out of space."

Before he could figure out what the hell was going on, the world jumped and shorted out again and he was back in the hallway, reeling with nausea. Ahead of him, four people in black masks were aiming weapons -- not at him, he realised, but at the lab techs. Nelda, standing in Ianto's doorway, asking to borrow some printer paper -- the spray of blood from her wound spattering his sleeve. He breathed deep through his nose as Rose grabbed his hand and held tight.

"ROSE, NOW!" the Doctor shouted, and she kicked a switch on the ghost machine, turning it off. For a second all three of them were blind in the dim light, until their pupils began to dilate.

"I knew it," the Doctor said vehemently. "You slipped through."


"You slipped universes. Something resonated across reality for you -- you nearly broke the machine."

"I didn't do it on purpose," Ianto said defensively.


"Time doesn't exist in a line," the Doctor said, sitting in the front seat of the car. "It's more like a big ball of...stuff. Something traumatic, something important, it ripples backwards and forwards. It stays. For a while. Some longer than others."

"Like a pond," Ianto said.

"Precisely not," the Doctor answered, glancing in the rearview mirror at him. "But good try."

[identity profile] 2008-08-29 05:29 pm (UTC)(link)
Holy crap, the bit with Ianto slipping through? Surprisingly powerful, there. I mean, Ianto in this world has just had such a different experience... yikes, would not want him dealing with the shit the Ianto we're used to had to.

That last bit dovetails quite nicely into tiwey-wimey stuff, though.

(Reposted because I forgot an apostrophe and don't look at me like that.)

[identity profile] 2008-08-29 11:50 pm (UTC)(link)
Has it really been fifty years? Seems like yesterday when I first watched it for myself and what was it like to put all of that into research as a chunk rather than an ongoing experience?

Thanks for the notes, a useful insight into DL Sayers and I shall now attempt to follow that up and start to write more myself.
aunty_marion: (Stonehenge)

[personal profile] aunty_marion 2008-09-01 12:03 am (UTC)(link)
Not quite 50 years. 1963 was when it started, so it's 45 years, actually.

[identity profile] 2008-08-30 06:54 am (UTC)(link)
The Hawthorn/Wimsey idea is intriguing, not least because I've just finished re-reading Gaudy Night. It's not a parallel I would have drawn, considering their differences but yes, Peter Wimsey is just so human and in the end, so is Doctor Peter.

Quite enjoyed this, thankyou. Even if reading the story notes (and the fic, although I was kind of pretending you'd made up human!doctor so as to save myself) has spoilt me for the end of the series. With the exertion of great self-control, I've only been watching the eps here in Melbourne as they air on telly, and we're only up to the 2nd half of the Moffat-Library double.

[identity profile] 2008-09-02 05:08 pm (UTC)(link)
Wimsey and the Doctor do have differences, of course, but I felt like he would empathise strongly -- the inability to decide things for himself, the knowledge that he is essentially much more intelligent than most of the people around him, and the severe wartime trauma in his background all sort of spoke of Peter to me. :)

I'm sorry you were spoiled! Enjoy the rest of the series, though!

[identity profile] 2008-09-03 02:22 am (UTC)(link)
Does Wimsey's inability to decide things for himself persist past his complex about giving orders? He's unable to force Harriet to a decision, but that I think is more about their relationship - his respect for her - than his personality.

The Doctor and Wimsey share a far more important quality than above, though: their inherent silliness and the ability to talk endless piffle (as I think Harriet puts it). Piffle is underrated, in my opinion, although the jury is out on the monocle.

[identity profile] 2008-09-03 01:35 pm (UTC)(link)
Wimsey's inabilities aren't really visible in the realtime of the books -- well, the problem crops up once in a while, like the breakdown he has in Whose Body, and in a couple of the books they talk about his "hangman's hands". But Busman's Honeymoon made it pretty clear that directly after the war he couldn't do things like ask for the kind of breakfast he wanted.

And you're right -- one of their most important shared traits is charming piffle, which can be used to edge around real issues if done properly.

I'd pay good money to see David Tennant in a monocle. With a dye job and some dialect adjustment he'd actually make an extremely good Wimsey, don't you think?

[identity profile] 2008-09-04 06:53 am (UTC)(link)
He gets uproariously drunk after I think the case involving his brother and his sister, doesn't he? In the back of the editions I usually read (ie, are at the library), there's an autobiographical note by Paul Delgardie that mentions something to that effect.

Sausages and not eggs, yes. I read all the descriptions of Wimsey's breakfasts with a kind of wistful envy. It's something the English do right, breakfast.

He's got WImsey's nose, sure enough. But perhaps too much chin? It would be fun to turn tenth doctor 'fair and mayfair', although his blue eyes in Casanova are quite unsettling. Charming but useful piffle. I am amazed sometimes that Tennant remembers it all the way to the end.

[identity profile] 2008-08-30 05:34 pm (UTC)(link)
Utterly, utterly fantastic story. Cannot praise it enough - for all your reservations, you understand the Doctor and Rose, and accept that it's going to be hard. There are also some wonderful laugh-out-loud moments, especially when Jack is involved. Longer than I usually like to read, but entirely worth it :)

[identity profile] 2008-08-30 07:56 pm (UTC)(link)
Including deleted scenes. When is the director's uncut version going to be available on Blu Ray?

I love extended authors' notes. You can always tell when the writing really meant something -- hardship, stress, whatever -- when they show up. Cathartic, I suppose.

I really, really like the idea of Ianto slipping through multiverses. I like that a lot of this smacks like destiny, like reincarnation, that everyone will always be in each others lives because that's the way it is, that's where they're supposed to be. Jack and Ianto, like a tide, because I just can't grok a universe where things end well for Lisa. I cannot.

I need Jack to come back and start mucking things up in this universe, rearranging things. It's not your fault I'm not quite satisfied, I just don't care about Rose that much. And you've got everyone ending up where they should be, ostensibly (save Mary Ellen... I liked her!), but I want something different. I want them ending up where they shouldn't be, or maybe where they should be but harder and not quite.

Ok, maybe that's all just talk... I want Ianto and Jack to be together, no matter what.

[identity profile] 2008-09-02 01:17 pm (UTC)(link)
Hee! I used to just delete the deleted scenes, and then I realised -- WRITER'S NOTES. Which I like doing now because it means I don't have to put author's notes at the top of the chapter anymore.

I had a lot of fun with Ianto slipping through the universes -- originally it was supposed to happen more than once, with each scene showing a significant progress moment in their relationship (the kiss at the end of 1.13, the office-date conversation in the premiere of S2, and the greenhouse scene in Adrift).

I did almost want to write an imperfect ending, but I think for me the kind of point of the Happy Ending was to wrap up the imperfect ending of the actual episode. And I do think in at least one universe, Ianto and Lisa are traveling through the stars with Captain Jack and enjoying a perfectly decent threesome. :D

[identity profile] 2008-09-02 02:12 pm (UTC)(link)
Well, write me that fic, then! The one that starts with Ianto slipping through 'verses and ending with happy I/J/L threesomes.

Geez, sam, I can't believe you even made me ask.


[identity profile] 2008-09-02 03:05 pm (UTC)(link)

[identity profile] 2008-09-02 03:32 pm (UTC)(link)
Ok, ok, I can take a hint -- or a gigantic "NO" in all-caps.

Meanwhile, I think *you* need to visit your happy place. Close your eyes and picture red clay rooftops, white stone buildings, cool, misty Alps in the distance, a cold shandy waiting for you on the next block...

Er, wait a minute: that's *my* happy place. Oh, well. I can share.

[identity profile] 2008-09-02 03:39 pm (UTC)(link)
LOL, yes, okay, may have overreacted slightly. Your comment came at the end of a three-comment run of "ARE YOU GOING TO FINISH THIS FIC?" and it makes me insaaaaane. :D

[identity profile] 2008-09-02 03:44 pm (UTC)(link)
Happy place, sam, happy place. (This ( and this ( should help.)

Absolutely loved this story!!!!!

[identity profile] 2008-09-01 03:48 am (UTC)(link)
I enjoyed this story immensely. The Doctor's and Rose's journey seemed very real. I so appreciated Ianto and Jack characterizations, they haven't been included in many post J/E stories. I've never read any Dorothy Sayers novels, but now I am intrigued and possibly inspired to pay my fines and start using my library card again.

Re: Absolutely loved this story!!!!!

[identity profile] 2008-09-01 06:33 pm (UTC)(link)
Glad you enjoyed it! Dorothy Sayers is an awesome author -- my advice to new readers is to start with Whose Body, and make sure you read Strong Poison before Gaudy Night or Busman's Honeymoon. :)

[identity profile] 2008-09-02 01:12 pm (UTC)(link)
If they’d kept that scene you mention about Timelord!Ten giving human!Ten a starter clipping to grow his own TARDIS, that would have all but confirmed my personal theory that the Paul McGann Doctor is a future version of human!Ten. So thanks for that tidbit.

[identity profile] 2008-09-02 05:40 pm (UTC)(link)
(finally: appropriate icon!)
to whole fic/ novella: I have no words. But love the Doctor-Tony chats!
to story notes: yes, yes, yes.
sorry for late comment!

[identity profile] 2008-10-05 03:37 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh, freaking hell, this is so good it blows my mind away. While I still love Journey's End, the whole circumstance around human!Doctor still made me feel somewhat indignant, with that slight feeling of him getting quite a few of the short ends of the bargain (ok, not the part about getting Rose, but still... high expectations much?)
The end part with the library card is just the perfect end note to the entire fic. Bravo!

[identity profile] 2008-10-05 09:50 pm (UTC)(link)
Thank you! I'm so glad you enjoyed it :)

[identity profile] 2008-10-15 03:38 am (UTC)(link)
Well, I told you you'd drag me down into the pits of Who-fic... Well pits is a bit melodramatic, I've been reading fic since I was 13 years old (9 years or so), I don't know what I expect from myself anymore really... And like many of the Café, I'll read pretty much anything you write anyway...

Hmm, I've forgotten my point =P

Well it was great. The whole abandoning the human!Doctor thing bugged me a bit too, and I'm glad it was you who fleshed it out. You always make me feel better about these kind of things *cough*Cartographer'sCraft*cough* I loved muchly all your little references (Good Omens, Black Books, Harry Potter) as well as your portrayal of the aged Jack. And come on, who doesn't love a bit of Jack? The Doctor's realisation that as a human he was more susceptible to Jack's charms was particularly amusing. Not as amusing as this however:
"What did you barter?" she asked, sidetracked momentarily.

"That's between me and Jack."


I think the thought you put into this one is really reflected in the story and how you fitted it all together. Another masterpiece =D

/End ramble.

[identity profile] 2008-10-24 07:11 pm (UTC)(link)
I'm your newest fangirl, new to this fandom, and have inhaled everything you've written in the past coupla weeks, persistently awed by the standard of narrative and characterization you sustain (and oh my harth, thank you for insisting that decent writing SHOULD BE OUR COLLECTIVE DEFAULT). Will leave other mash notes on other fics when I can, but all I can do here is stutter out my admiration of this. Terrific premise and a lovingly detailed attention to just where the difficulties would lie in the Doctor becoming human. The parallel universe works here as something more than a Big Stupid Plot Device -- it's a chance for some absolutely charming revisionism of the canon, and you've exploited it to the full.

And how very perceptive of you to use Peter Wimsey as a doppelgänger. Not an obvious choice at all, but once you start thinking about the parallels they multiply. Sayers wrote comedies of manners within mystery fiction conventions. Your alternate Whoniverse has the same dependence on conventions shared and subverted, and the comedy (and manners) are by no means lacking. Especially, of course, whenever Captain Jack wrist-straps his way into the action.

Again, congratulations, salaams, gratuitous requests that you bear my future children...

[identity profile] 2008-10-25 03:18 am (UTC)(link)
I'm so glad you've been enjoying the fic :) This one I worked especially hard on, so it's gratifying. And I do love to toss Peter Wimsey in whenever I can -- brings his fans out of the woodwork and sometimes nets some new ones!
fyrdrakken: (Books)

[personal profile] fyrdrakken 2008-11-21 10:48 pm (UTC)(link)
This is a point -- I keep getting recced to Sayers' books by sources who seem to have acceptable taste in reading material, and one of these days I'm going to actually remember to go looking at the library or on

[identity profile] 2008-11-22 03:32 am (UTC)(link)
I have some in text files if you want -- drop me a line, copperbadge @ gmail. :)
fyrdrakken: (Frodo)

[personal profile] fyrdrakken 2008-12-02 04:29 pm (UTC)(link)
Thanks for the offer, but I'm not so good at getting around to reading novel-length text files. More convenient to swing by the library (happily well-stocked with Sayers' work) and get it in a format that doesn't tether me to a computer.

[identity profile] 2008-12-02 04:46 pm (UTC)(link)
That's kind of what I thought -- most people don't like reading novels on computer :) Well, enjoy when you get 'em!
fyrdrakken: (Donna 2)

[personal profile] fyrdrakken 2008-11-21 10:42 pm (UTC)(link)
And now I'm very glad that I was a bit swamped and behind on the friends list when you started posting this story and I wound up saving the bits to my thumb drive for later, because it meant that I was able to go through the whole thing at once today when I had nothing going on at work. In my (admittedly limited) exposure to Handy fic, I'm used to seeing his experience portrayed as either unremittingly craptacular or else as sunshine and kittens and joy -- marvelous work in balancing out the undeniable downsides of his having to juggle a massive identity crisis, all the Doctor's accumulated trauma, and a relationship with a woman who quite likely considered himself a shadow of the man he remembered being, with the opportunity inherent in a fresh start in a strange universe for the life the original model Doctor would never have been able to have. Alt!Jack was an unexpected pleasure but a welcome one. And very much liking the deleted scene fragments.

In Another Life - how did I miss this story?

[identity profile] 2009-02-07 10:55 am (UTC)(link)
Well, brilliant, naturally - but I have to admit something I think you'll get a kick out of.

Bernard Black was hilarious, but... the blond bookstore owner with the strange collection of Bibles? I didn't, at that point, realize you were going with any Good Omens references (we weren't near the Horsemen bit yet), and I assumed he was the parallel world's version of Remus's ex from Stealing Harry.


Re: In Another Life - how did I miss this story?

[identity profile] 2009-02-07 02:58 pm (UTC)(link)
LOL! Well, Remus's ex from Stealing Harry, as I'm sure you know, IS Aziraphael. :D

Re: In Another Life - how did I miss this story?

[identity profile] 2009-02-07 06:18 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh yes -- I was just thinking you were playing with having HP be *real* in this universe, til Ianto was reading Prisoner of Azkaban.

Re: In Another Life - how did I miss this story?

[identity profile] 2009-02-08 12:05 am (UTC)(link)
Ahhh, I see :D Well, it still could be, in some interdimensional way...