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like reincarnation, but backwards.

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1 DAY AFTER (18992 DAYS BEFORE)

before alaska young even opened her eyes, she knew this was going to be a terrible hangover. she only had vague impressions of what had happened the night before, and now her entire body ached and there was a rushing in her ears and the familiar smell of her room- old books with a hint of vanilla- had been replaced by something that smelled a lot like dirt. alaska was a champion coper though, so she tried to pull her blanket over her head and sleep off whatever the hell had happened.

problem number one: no blanket.

she groaned and sat up, thinking maybe she had slept on the floor or in the quad or even at the smoking hole. it hadn't happened yet, but it wouldn't surprise her.

problem number two: she was not in any of those places.

alaska looked around, and started to panic when the surroundings were not at all familiar. she was on the side of a road that almost looked like the highway between school and home, except clean and not full of billboards. the few cars that were driving by (at a reasonable speed, even) were way classic and her baby, blue citrus, was nowhere in sight. she started trying to piece together what had happened the night before.

problem number three: she remembered.

it came back to her in a series of flashes: kissing pudge. talking to jake. the flowers. getting off campus. the headlights in the distance. straight and fast. and then...an angel in her backseat. it (she?) never seemed to move, but came closer every time alaska blinked. she remembered time slowing down and then right before impact, a burst of light. and then- nothing.

well shit, she thought. i guess this is the afterlife.

 

8 DAYS AFTER (18985 DAYS BEFORE)

alaska spent most of the first week of the rest of her afterlife scavenging for food, which seemed entirely unfair to her. the whole set-up just seemed like more life, only boring and without mcdonald's french fries. she thought about figuring out why her afterlife was apparently alabama in 1954, but she hated all those stupid books about dead girls who had to make amends so they could move on.

(1954 was the year her mom was born. maybe that mattered. maybe everything mattered. maybe she was here for a reason. she decided that was pretty fucked up though, even for the uncaring universe she had been born into. died into. whatever.)

she took advantage of how much less suspicious people were here, refused to answer any personal questions, and stole whatever she could get away with. whenever she caught herself wishing for accomplices- for lara's laugh and takumi's rapping and the colonel's know-it-all attitude and pudge's willingness to see things through to the end- she would find something bigger and more useless to steal. it was the best she could do to give the powers that be the middle finger without running the risk of being thrown in the afterlife's loony bin.

since she drew too much attention to be running around town in the middle of the day, she was wasting away the afternoon at the smoking hole, or at least what would one day be the smoking hole, or maybe had already been the smoking hole. alaska found all of her theories about time travel and the afterlife equally implausible, but at least conjugating verbs gave her something to do. it annoyed her that a week ago she would have loved to spend all day lounging at the smoking hole and debating time travel's effects on verbs and now she felt more trapped here than she ever had in dr. hyde's class.

being dead was such a bore.

 

34 DAYS AFTER (18959 DAYS BEFORE)

alaska was starting to settle into a routine. wake up mid-day (as luck would have it, the barn was still empty. or had been empty. she still hadn't quite gotten the knack of verbs), loiter at the smoking hole, waitress at the local diner for a couple of hours, head back to the barn. she broke up the monotony with trips to the library and all the booze she could steal. it wasn't a bad afterlife, but she was starting to reconsider her position on making amends.

she was at the smoking hole, just starting her second cigarette and giving some thought to what she was supposed to be changing in 1954 when a loud wheezing noise emanated from the woods. she had seen enough of lost to wonder if it was a polar bear and if so, what she should do, when a man appeared. he was long-limbed and lanky and, of course, wearing a bowtie. alaska didn't think she'd ever adjust to some aspects of life in the '50s.

"hello!" he said cheerily. "i'm the doctor!"

alaska narrowed her eyes. "culver creek doesn't have a doctor."

"of course not, don't be ridiculous, why would a creek need a doctor?" the doctor looked her up and down, making a face at the cigarette she was still smoking. "you must be alaska. the colonel said this is where you would most likely be."

"the colonel sent you," alaska deadpanned, the cigarette now forgotten.

"that's a great name- 'the colonel,'" he said with a grin. "almost thought he was one of mine." he sat down next to her on one of the crates she had dragged down here. "have you ever heard of the weeping angels?"

alaska jumped up and backed away from him. "so you're a, what, a guardian angel with a lot of feelings?" she asked skeptically.

"no, i'm the doctor. pay attention!"

they just stared at each other for a minute, but eventually alaska gave in, stamped out her cigarette, and sat down next to him. maybe if she was lucky this crazy british man would give her a hint about her quest for amends or whatever she was supposed to be doing to move on to a more interesting afterlife, so she crossed her legs and gestured for him to continue.

he straightened his bowtie, tugged on his suspenders, and nodded his thanks. "the weeping angels," he began, "are time thieves."

after he finished explaining and alaska convinced him that she understood what was going on (not the afterlife, probably was mostly what she understood) he ushered her into the blue box that had apparently made all the noise earlier and took her to connecticut.

"why connecticut?" alaska asked.

"it has a silly name," the doctor replied. alaska raised an eyebrow. "also someone there owes me a favor."

"okay, but if your magic box--"

"she's not magic, she's a TARDIS."

"fine, if your TARDIS can do time travel and i'm not actually dead, why not just take me home?"

he stopped running around pulling on seemingly random levers and slowly approached her. "alaska young, i am sorry," he said, placing his hands on her shoulders. "but everyone in 2006 thinks you've died. essentially, you have died, except for the bits where you're still breathing. you have to live out your life here, and do your best not to interact with the future or muck around with the present."

alaska frowned. "why can't i just come with you then? or start over someplace else in 2006? none of my favorite books have even been written yet!"

the doctor shook his head. "i travel alone now, and that would have too much mess potential, even for me. besides, this will be an adventure!"

 

1383 DAYS AFTER (17610 DAYS BEFORE)

it had been over three years since the doctor had waved a blank piece of paper at the dodds and somehow convinced them to adopt alaska. three years since she had chosen her own name (again) and settled into life in connecticut.

it had been two years since she had shed the last vestiges of her accent and enrolled at state. two years since she had decided she didn't want to start over with her life's library knowing she was missing 50 years of quality books, and picked something new: art. her first year at the university sealed the deal- himillsy took over, and her life as alaska young was seeming more like a half-forgotten dream every day.

she had garnett and her art and a life without any real tragedy attached to it; she felt invincible.

and then: vive le danse.

he didn't know anything, he didn't have opinions- wrong or right- about anything, he shouldn't have meant anything! but hims couldn't shake him. something about him was familiar, reminding her of things she hadn't thought about in years. maybe he was her new laveen, but maybe he was something more than that. maybe he was why she was here.

(she remembered the doctor, of course she remembered the doctor. the parts of her that were still alaska knew she wasn't dead or dying or being punished or making amends or any of that nonsense. but the parts of her that were alaska were shrinking by the day, turning her into the tiny ball of manic opinions known as himillsy dodd, and hims didn't know any of those things.)

every day with him (snickering in dottie's class, drinking at the skeller, going out for ice cream) brought alaska back a little bit more. at first himillsy tried to keep him at arm's length, but then thought that maybe if she could do this without fucking everything up, it would fix all the things she had ruined on the last go 'round. straight and fast had inexplicably led her deeper into the labrynth, but maybe he was the way out. she figured a second chance at making the right turns was worth a try, at least.

 

1493 DAYS AFTER (17503 DAYS BEFORE)

the breaking point: winter coming along and christening him with a nickname she had been stoutly refusing to hand over, as if that was the only mistake she had made before. happy. of course.

but that was okay. she'd keep making the right turns for long enough to find her way out this time, if it was even a labrynth she was trapped in.