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Uncertainty and Inconsistency

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Things are perfectly normal. He's back at school, he's hanging out with Jennifer, he's practicing his guitar and hugging his parents (who are of course the same parents he always had, and how could he ever imagine that they were ever any different?) And if he doesn't quite remember everything he's supposed to, well, that's just a side effect of the medication, and it'll probably go away in time. He doesn't talk to the Doc anymore--the old man is gone from his head, and if it's a little lonely in there, at least Marty knows that he's sane. He's starting to think that the Doc was maybe just in his head, to begin with, all along.

He goes to therapy with Dr Voselgang for a few sessions, but drops it once it becomes very clear that he doesn't really have that many issues to work out since the delusions are gone--silly, really, to imagine he has a time machine. Childish. He doesn't need therapy for those, anyway. He's got the pills. The lovely little blue pills, one a day. And as long as he takes them on time, everything is OK, everything is OK, everything is OK...

 

Things aren’t okay.

Marty doesn’t know how he knows, but things aren’t okay. Despite the fact that the only voice in his head is his own, and that he is doing well at school, he knows something was wrong. Again, he doesn’t know how or what, but something just… isn’t right. Little pieces of the puzzle that are either the wrong shape or are missing altogether. So many memories that just have to be made up, right? Except they aren’t. They feel too real. Too recent.

He still doesn’t know much about his family. He doesn't know who his sister’s boyfriend is or are since she keeps mentioning that she has more than one, or just changes boyfriends so often that it just seemed that way. He has no idea where his brother works, or how long he’s been working there, or when he’d started or how he even got the job in the first place. He has no idea what happens in any of his father’s books. He doesn't know anything about his mother’s hairdressing business. He feels like a stranger in his own home.

His family often sit and talk with him, trying to tell him things he knew weren’t true. That his mother never drinks - she always did - and that his brother is working for a promotion to a leading position a major business - he worked night shifts at Burger King - and how his father writes short stories all the time and is working on a third novel - Biff always told him he would never be any good at writing and laughed at him for even suggesting such a stupid thing. They tell him that there is no Doctor Emmett Brown in Hill Valley and that nobody has heard of the man in years. Since the fifties, to be precise - they’re lying what about Doc’s garage and his dog and his time machine and the Libyans and his wife and his kids and the train and - they tell him that he works three days a week in the record shop in town, four until seven on Monday, three until seven on Wednesday and four until seven on Friday. They tell him that he’s been with Jennifer for four years - no they’re lying you only met last year - and that she had talked to Marty because she’d liked his father’s books - she thought he was cute and her friends dared her to talk to ‘Doc Brown’s friend’.

Marty takes his little blue pill at 8:00 pm every evening on the dot, just as his family are having dinner. He swallows it with a mouthful of water and spends the next two hours or so fighting off a mild headache. His parents always smile and praise him whenever he takes the little blue pill, often rewarding him with an extra bit of dessert or a few bucks. So Marty keeps taking it, like clockwork. Dinner, blue pill, praise. Dinner, blue pill, praise. Dinner, blue pill, praise. Dinner…

Until one night, he forgets. He never takes his blue pill. They had been knocked off the table and kicked underneath during lunchtime one Saturday, and so he never takes it. He doesn't take it the Sunday, either. If they aren’t there, if he can’t see them, he doesn't take them. His parents begin to panic as they realised that Marty has skipped two doses and immediately get him to start taking them again, hoping that nothing would change.

The Sunday night, two days since his last blue pill, Marty lays awake in bed with the voices in his head louder than ever. Their words are jumbled and scrambled over one another into an indecipherable white noise. He lets the tears drip down his face slowly, terrified of the noises. He shakes and trembles a little and buries himself under his blankets, curling up into a tight ball. The voices in his head just get louder and louder and he’s sobbing now and begging them to please just leave him alone leave me alone go awaY GO AWAY

“Marty…?”

Suddenly, everything inside Marty’s head has gone quiet. The room is completely silent. It’s cold, too. Far too cold. Marty is about to poke his head out from under his blankets when he feels a hand on his shoulder and the soft voice in his ear again.

“Marty? Are you okay?”

Marty swallows the bile rising in his throat and slowly wriggles his way free of his cocoon of blankets, poking his head out into the freezing cold air in his bedroom. It’s dark, but in the light filtering through the window from the streetlights outside, he can see a tall man with silver hair standing by the side of his bed, his hand still resting on Marty’s shoulder. Marty squints a little in the low levels of light before a strangled gasp left his mouth.

“D-Doc?!”

-------

Doc knows something is wrong as soon as he looks through Marty’s window.

The only movement in the room is some slight quivering from underneath the bundle of blankets on the teenager’s bed. He pushes the window pane up, managing to climb into the room the same way Marty has snuck out of it many times during the night to see him. He does so as quietly as he can, the room immediately filling with cold air as soon as the window is open. He shuts the window behind him once he’s inside, quietly approaching the sobbing mess on the bed. He lays a hand on Marty’s shoulder from between the covers.

“Marty?”

The reaction from Marty is immediate. His whole body goes tense and he stops crying. The room falls silent and Marty barely moves, if at all. Doc frowns softly and speaks again, keeping his voice quiet as to not wake Marty’s parents.

“Marty? Are you okay?”

Marty starts to wriggle from under the blankets and soon his head pops out from where his pillow is. Even in the low light, Doc can tell that his hair is a mess, his cheeks are wet with tears and his eyes are red. Marty squints for a moment before his eyes go wide and the colour drains from his face.

“D-Doc?!”

Doc slowly sits down on the side of Marty’s bed, keeping his hand on the teenager’s shoulder. Marty is trembling and shaking like a leaf, but judging by the sheer terror and shock in Marty’s eyes, Doc guesses it isn’t from the cold. He reaches over and flicks the bedside lamp on, causing Marty to flinch a little bit. The light only illuminates the tears dripping down Marty’s cheeks.

Doc sighs softly and gently uses his thumb to wipe the tears from Marty’s face. Marty flinches a little at the touch but doesn’t pull away. Doc wipes away the tears from Marty’s face before moving closer to him, drawing the teenager in for a hug.

Marty knows as soon as Doc hugs him that this is real, that this is real and happening right now in front of him oh God Doc is physically here and not just a voice in my head what do I do what do I do?!

“It’s okay…” Marty hears Doc murmur into his hair, his arms wrapped firmly around the teen. He feels Doc rub a hand up and down his back slowly and the smell of woodsmoke and cheap aftershave fills his nostrils as he breathes in through the fabric of Doc’s shirt. Trembling, Marty brings his arms up slowly and wraps them tightly around the man beside him, holding on for dear life and not wanting to let go. He’s scared that if he lets go, Doc will just become the voice in his head again.

“W-what are you doing here…?” Marty manages to croak out, his eyes shimmering with tears again. “I - I thought you left me…”

“Marty,” Doc sighs softly and tightens his arms around the teen a little bit. “I could never leave you. I wanted to leave a little space between visiting you and returning here again so that I knew things would have settled down.”

Marty just sniffles and buries his face in Doc as much as he can, his fingers digging into the scientist’s shirt tightly. He is still trembling, even when Doc grabs the duvet off the bed and wraps it around his shoulders. Marty just hugs Doc with as much strength as he can muster.

“It’s okay, Marty,” Doc assures softly, rubbing Marty’s arm gently. “I’m right here, and I’m not going anywhere…”

“Y-you did, though…” Marty whimpers softly, hugging Doc even more tightly. “You were gone, a-and they made me take drugs to get you to go away…”

“Make me what…?” Doc frowns, pulling back a little bit so that he can look Marty in the eyes. Marty’s lower lip is trembling and his eyes are full of tears again.

“I … a-after you left, I … I kept seeing you in my head…” Marty admits quietly, rubbing his eyes with his sleeve. “I’d talk to you about stuff, or just listen to you ramble about science… my parents took me to see a psychiatrist and she said I was schizophrenic or something…”

“Oh, Marty…” Doc holds the teen closer to him as Marty buries his face in his shirt again. Marty starts to tremble and before he knows it, he’s sobbing again, his arms wrapped around Doc as tightly as he can.

“Don’t leave me again…” Marty whispers softly. “Please… I can’t take it…”

“I’m not going anywhere, I promise,” Doc murmurs quietly into Marty’s hair, cradling him close. He used to do this when Marty was younger when he’d come to Doc’s place after school with a black eye or a bloody nose after being in a fight with the other students. He used to clean Marty’s injuries up and hug him close. He’d hold Marty close, sitting on the couch with him and comforting him until his sobs went quiet. He’d do it whenever Marty snuck out of his house and over to Doc’s garage in the middle of the night, either after a nightmare or having been unable to sleep in the first place. Doc would always make him something to drink, usually hot chocolate, and sit with him until Marty either decided to head home or, far more likely, he fell asleep, curled against Doc’s side and snoring quietly. Doc would never move from his spot, only holding Marty close and making sure they were both comfortable, be it on Doc’s bed, the couch or the armchair.

Marty shifts a little bit in Doc’s arms and for a moment Doc thinks he’s going to pull away, but Marty only moves closer and wraps his arms around the older man a little tighter. The teen’s face is still buried in Doc’s shirt, tufts of brown, slightly greasy hair tickling Doc’s nose. Doc doesn’t mind, only pressing his mouth to the top of Marty’s head.

“It’s okay, kiddo, I’ve got you,” Doc murmurs softly. “I’m sorry I ever left you.”

Marty shakes his head. “It’s okay, Doc,” he mumbles, pulling back enough to make eye contact with his friend. “You were with Clara and your kids… It’s okay…”

“But I never came and visited again,” Doc says softly, brushing Marty’s bangs out of his eyes. “I should have done, but I foolishly left it for much longer than I should have. I thought that you would need time to adjust to your new family and your new life, but what I didn’t think was that I should have helped you. I should have been there for you, Marty, and I’m so sorry that I wasn’t.”

“It’s okay Doc,” Marty insists, hugging him tightly once more. His head is resting on Doc’s shoulder. “You’re here now, and that’s all that matters.”

Doc opens his mouth to speak, but there’s a knock on the door which cuts him off. “Marty?” Lorraine’s voice calls from the other side of the closed bedroom door. “Are you okay? Who are you talking to? Do you need to take your meds?”

Marty swallows hard and slowly untangles himself from Doc’s arms, as much as he would love to stay there forever. He goes over to the bedroom door and opens it slowly, flinching a little at the bright light from the hallway flooding his room and blinding him. The sliver of light isn’t quite wide enough to shine onto Doc, the man remaining hidden in shadow even with his silver hair. Lorraine still looks half-asleep, her eyes squinting a little and her hair like a bird’s nest. “Marty?”

“Hey mom,” Marty says quietly, though he’s grinning like mad. “I-I’m not crazy after all…”

“Oh honey, you never were, you were just sick,” Lorraine says softly, kissing Marty’s forehead gently. “But who were you talking to? Were you dreaming?”

“No,” Marty shakes his head and pulls his bedroom door open all the way. The room is engulfed in light and Doc squints a bit, the man now fully visible to Marty’s mother.

Lorraine just frowns in confusion, seeing nothing but an empty room with an unmade bed. “Marty? You do realise the room is empty, right?”

Marty frowns and shakes his head. “No, Doc’s right here!” He goes over and grabs Doc’s hand, pulling him up off the bed and getting him to stand beside him. “See?”

Lorraine only sees her son holding hands with thin air. “Marty… no-one’s here…” she says quietly. She’s starting to get worried. “You need to take your medication again, you’re seeing things.”

“N-no I’m not!” Marty insists. “Mom! He’s right here!”

“Marty… there’s nobody there…” Lorraine sighs sadly and brings Marty closer for a hug. Marty only struggles out of his mother’s embrace and stands beside Doc again.

“Mom, please…” Marty’s voice is shaking and he has tears burning in his eyes. Even as he starts to tremble, he can feel Doc’s hand grow cold in his palm. He shakily looks up at his friend, only to see that Doc’s face is far too pale and he can see faint beams of moonlight showing right through him. Doc is fading away right in front of him.

Marty breaks down. He starts to sob and beg his friend not to leave, not again, but Doc just gives him a sad smile. The man’s body goes completely transparent and the hand in Marty’s own vanishes. Marty falls to his knees and buries his face in his hands. Lorraine sighs softly and kneels beside her son, bringing him into a tight hug. Marty buries his face in her shoulder and sobs quietly.

He really thought that, for just a moment , Doc was back.

Marty cries until his eyes grow tired and his body grows numb. He blinks once, his eyes slipping shut and then opening slowly. He does it again, and the next time his eyes open, he’s gazing up at the ceiling in his room. Sunlight is filtering through the curtains and just barely reaching the foot of his bed. His mother is gone and Marty feels drowsy. He’s got a headache again. His cheeks and his eyes are wet with tears and Marty belatedly realises he was crying in his sleep.

Slowly, wearily, he sits up in bed rubbing his eyes with the sleeve of his pyjama shirt. The tears only serve to make his eyes ache more and call him back to the comfort of his pillow, but now that he’s awake he has to get up and do something , otherwise, he’ll only end up talking to himself again. He’s already been doing that over the past day or so since he last took his meds. He knows his parents are already getting scared for him again. He knows they’re keeping a close eye on him, making sure he doesn’t start talking to the scientist in his head again.

Marty had been so sure that Doc was real. At least, this time.

Had it been a dream? Had he just dreamt that his best friend was back? And he’d just dreamt that his mother couldn’t see him? Or was it that Marty actually had woken up in the middle of the night by an imaginary voice and he’d been seeing things? Both scenarios were perfectly credible, given that Marty could see Doc and Lorraine couldn’t. He just wishes that he’d been dreaming. He can’t take it if his best friend really was gone forever.

Marty slowly gets himself up out of bed and into the bathroom across the hall. He takes a brief shower before getting dressed - blue jeans with a plain t-shirt and button-up checked shirt, as usual - and goes to dig himself out some breakfast. George is sitting at the table, reading over a manuscript and sipping some coffee, a plate of half-eaten toast beside him.

“Morning, Marty,” George says as his youngest son enters the room. He puts the manuscript down and smiles warmly. “Did you sleep well?”

Marty shrugs a bit. “I guess so,” he replies in a quiet, subdued voice. “I mean, I didn’t wake up for a while, which is usually a good sign.”

“That’s good,” George nods, still smiling. It’s starting to make Marty feel uncomfortable. “I can make you some breakfast if you want?”

“It’s fine, Dad,” Marty says quietly. “I got it.” He goes into the kitchen, grabbing the jar of jam and the butter from the fridge and cutting a couple of slices of bread from the loaf in the bread bin, sticking them in the toaster. He goes to grab a mug from the cupboard for some coffee but notices that his bottle of medication has been put inside his favourite mug, topped with a post-it note reminding him to take them. He sighs, tearing the note off and screwing it up into a ball, tossing it into the trash before grabbing a different mug and setting it down beside the coffee pot.

The toast pops up a minute or so later and Marty spreads it with butter and probably-too-much jam, before setting the slices on a plate and going over to the table to eat after retrieving a cup of coffee. He sits and flips through an old Batman comic as he munches his way through his breakfast.

“When are you going to take your medication?” George asks him quietly. “You need to eat it with a meal, remember. Are you going to take it at dinnertime?”

“Er...sure,” Marty replies vaguely, more focused on the argument between the main hero of the comic and his butler than his father’s words. “I’ll take it later, don’t worry.”

“Good, good,” George nods and returns to reading his manuscript. Marty hasn’t quite gotten used to his ‘new’ dad, yet - maybe he’s always been like this and your stupid, broken mind has just made you think he was a loser, a quiet voice at the back of Marty’s head tells him.

But he was never like this, his own thoughts reply. He never had time to write anything. Biff used to make him do all his work for him.

No, you dumbass, that was you. Your fucked-up mind made up those memories to make it look like you really did travel through time.

Marty sighs and rests his elbow on the table, putting his chin in his hand and reading through the comic slowly, though none of the words or pictures are registering to him. They all seem to move around the page and make no sense to him at all. He ends up sighing in frustration, flipping back to the beginning of the issue and starting over again.

At some point during Marty’s struggle to read his comic, George finishes his breakfast and gets up, leaving the table to set the dishes in the kitchen before heading off into his study. Marty sits for another hour, his coffee long since gone cold, trying in vain to read his book. He eventually gives up and puts it away in the stash in his bedroom, flopping onto his bed and staring up at the ceiling.

“Doc…” Marty sighs quietly. “Please… please come back… I need you…”

----

It isn’t for another few weeks that Marty finally gets back into the rhythm of taking his medication. He still gets the side-effects, but in all honesty, if it means he’s no longer imagining some wild scientist running around his mind, he can put up with the headaches and nausea. His parents are more than relieved when he finally settles down again, his grades steadily improving and his mind a lot clearer. He’s spending more time with his girlfriend and the Pinheads and he’s out most afternoons. His parents never say anything when he tells them he’s spending the night over at Jen’s, only reminding him to keep it safe. He always blushes and assures him that they both know what they’re doing and that they’ll be fine, before heading over to his girlfriend’s house.

Before long, Christmas arrives. Marty can’t help but feel empty, as if something - or, more likely, some one is missing - but shrugs it off. He spends the morning with his family and the afternoon with his girlfriend, eventually passing out on Jennifer’s couch with his girlfriend in his arms. The Parkers wrap the teens up in a blanket, set a pillow under Marty’s head and leave the couple to get some sleep. Marty brings Jennifer back to his place on Boxing Day for a buffet made up of the leftover meat and stuffing from the day before, along with whatever else Lorraine can dig out from the cupboards. The couple spends the majority of the afternoon in Marty’s bedroom, playing on his new NES console and reading through some new comic books. Marty has to keep reminding himself to avoid the topic of Emmett Brown.

The Christmas holidays came and went and before long Marty finds himself wandering the halls of his high school again. He feels lost, despite the newfound strength in his relationship with Jennifer and the improvement in his work. He still feels as though there’s a huge part of him that’s missing, no matter how many times he tells himself that Doc is made up, that he never existed and that his mind was just conjuring something out of thin air. He feels like he should have Doc with him from time to time, but a dose of his medication usually fixes that little issue.

As January fades into February, Marty only finds that the feeling of loneliness gets stronger and stronger. He finds himself unable to concentrate in class and spends more time in his room on his own than anywhere else. Jennifer starts to get worried about him, trying her best to get him to talk. Marty only shuts himself away more and more and before long he’s stopped eating regularly. He keeps making excuses to not practice with the Pinheads, choosing to take long walks around Hill Valley alone instead.

One morning in particular, the rather chilly early-morning wind nipping at his cheeks as he buries himself further into his coat, Marty finds himself standing right by the train tracks where he landed the DeLorean… or may not have done. He stands on the exact spot where he last saw Doc. Or at least, where his mind still believes he last saw Doc. If Doc truly was real, then surely he would have come back by now? Surely he wouldn’t be making Marty go through this all alone? Marty shivers a little and buries his hands further into his jacket pockets as he walks, his headphones blaring Van Halen’ s music into his ears at damn near top volume.

The volume isn’t quite high enough, however, that he misses the sound of the crossing’s warning bell as a train approaches. He steps off the line, checking up and down the tracks for any sign of the train. There’s nothing. Frowning in confusion, Marty takes a further step back and looks around again, pausing the music from his Walkman and slipping his headphones off. The bell only continues and Marty begins to wonder if the signal is faulty.

That is until three large blasts and a miniature hurricane blow him off his feet, knocking him onto the grass on his back. He barely manages to sit up before a train materialises out of nowhere on the tracks in front of him. It looks like something out of Victorian England, all fancy chimneys and detailed paintwork. It’s got a vague Steampunk feel to it, but Marty doesn’t care about that. The only thing he cares about is the fact that the initials ‘ELB’ are printed on the side of the cabin, and that a familiar face is grinning at him from the window.

“Marty!” The man in the cabin grins and pushes the gullwing doors of the cabin open - huh, gullwing doors, just like his first time machine - before rushing down the steps. Marty is just about able to sit upright before he finds himself engulfed in a strong hug, the smell of motor oil and smoke, along with a scent that is so familiarly Doctor Emmett Brown, flooding his nostrils. Marty starts to tear up, but not from the smell.

“N-no…” He feels tears trickle down his face before he can do anything to stop them. He attempts to pull out of the strong arms holding him close to Doc’s chest, but lacks the capability. He simply breaks down into soft whimpers and buries his face into Doc’s coat, gripping the fabric as tightly as he possibly can.

Don’t let this be a dream. Dear God, please let this be real. Just this once.

He feels five fingers brush through his dishevelled hair and a soft, warm voice in his ear. “It’s okay, Marty. I’m right here. I’ve got you…”

“Doc…” Marty sobs and pulls his friend closer to him, wrapping his arms around Doc’s shoulders as tight as he can and burying his face in the crook of Doc’s neck. He can feel Doc’s stubble brushing against his forehead and the smell is stronger now. The collar of Doc’s shirt and jacket become soaked with the tears still dripping down the teen’s face, Marty’s whole body trembling as the cries finally break free.

Doc sits in the grass in the chilly morning air and holds his friend close to him. Marty feels as though he’s lost weight, and there’s something about his voice and his complexion that aren’t right. He’s certain this is Marty McFly - after all, who else would react in such a way to his return? - but this isn’t the Marty he left at the tracks back at the end of October. This Marty is different. He’s more scared. More vulnerable. More … unstable. Doc continues to run his fingers through Marty’s hair to comfort him. It works, and eventually, Marty’s sobs have melted away into quiet sniffles, the teen eventually pulling back enough to rub the lingering tears from his eyes.

“Doc… where have you been…?”

“I’m sorry… I was going to come back sooner, but I told myself you would need time to adjust…” Doc mumbles into Marty’s hair. “I wanted to let things settle down first…”

Marty just wraps his arms around Doc more tightly, whimpering and holding back another sob. “... I … I can’t… they think I’m insane… the-they’ve b-been making me take these pills so I won’t talk to you any more…”

“Won’t talk to - Marty…?” Doc frowns, gently pushing Marty back enough for the pair to make eye contact. “Have you been… hallucinating?”

“N-not exactly,” Marty mumbles and pulls Doc closer to him again, wanting his friend as close to him as possible. “More like - I kept seeing you in my head, a-and talking to you, or sometimes I’d just sit and listen to you talk about time travel and science and stuff.” He takes a shaky breath before adding, “It … it got really lonely without you …”

“Oh Marty,” Doc sighs and brings Marty closer, gently pulling the teen forward into his lap. Marty wraps his arms around Doc’s neck and nuzzles close to him, starting to tremble a little bit. “I’m so sorry…”

“‘S okay, Doc,” Marty mumbles from amongst the folds of Doc’s jacket. “That’s all that matters.”

“I should have been here sooner,” Doc murmurs softly, his fingers once again passing through Marty’s hair. His eyes go wide and he freezes. “Sooner! Of course! I’ll simply just return earlier!”

“Doc, wait,” Marty’s voice pauses the thoughts running through Doc’s mind. “I … I don’t want you to do that…”

“Why not?” Doc frowns in confusion. “I thought you would have loved for me to return to Hill Valley sooner.”

Marty shakes his head, resting his cheek against Doc’s shoulder. “It could… I dunno, mess up the timestream or something?” He mumbles. “I just … it’s okay, just please don’t go away again…”

“I won’t, Marty, I promise,” Doc murmurs, resting his chin on top of the teen’s head. “I’m not going anywhere.”

“...that’s exactly what you said in my dream…”

“...what…?” Doc frowns again, pulling back a little to glance down at the teenager, who is still nestled up against him like a frightened child in a summer storm. “What dream?”

“I - I had a dream where you were back,” Marty admits quietly. “My mom heard me talking to you and came to check on me. Sh-she said she couldn’t see you, a-and that you weren’t there…” He whimpers and buries his face in the crook of Doc’s neck. “...you faded away right in front of me…”

“Oh, Marty…” Doc sighs and holds the teenager close to him, both of them starting to shiver a little from the crisp morning air. He can see droplets of frozen dew in Marty’s hair. “Come on, why don’t I take you back to my place and get you warmed up?”

“Your place?” Marty frowns in confusion and looks up at his friend. “B-but your garage has been out of use for years…”

“No, no, not that place,” Doc shakes his head. “I mean my home now. Well, then. Back in the Old West.”

Marty just blinks again and cocks his head to the side. “S-so...you’re still living out there…?”

“Well, not for much longer,” Doc grins. Marty can’t help but feel a sense of warmth and comfort at the smile. That’s definitely a trademark Doc grin alright. “We’re planning on moving back here.”

“Really?!” Marty’s eyes go wide and a grin breaks out onto his face, the first one in weeks. He throws his arms around Doc’s neck and hugs him fiercely, knocking the older man onto his back with the sheer force of the embrace.

Doc chuckles and simply hugs his friend in return, glad to see that Marty’s mood has at least improved a little bit. “Yep. We’ll be moving out of 1885 Hill Valley and into 1986 Hill Valley. I mean, it’s only logical that we would do so. I was never meant to arrive there, and my mere presence in that time period could cause major disruption to the timeline if it hasn’t done so already, and Clara was meant to die in the ravine - thank goodness she didn’t, but historically, she was meant to perish. Since neither myself nor Clara were meant to exist in that time period, neither should Jules or Verne, so we’ve made the decision to move back here, where at least we’ll be in a place where we’re less likely to destroy the space-time continuum.”

Doc blinks in surprise and glances down at his teenage companion. Marty has one hand over his mouth and appears to be laughing. “Marty?” Doc questions. “What’s so amusing?”

“Nothing, Doc, I just missed all your nerdy sci-fi talk.”

Doc chuckles and props himself up with an elbow, using his other hand to ruffle Marty’s hair. “Believe me, I missed having someone to talk to about it without having to explain it all to them seven times in a row.”

Marty giggles quietly and sits upright, gently pulling Doc up so that they’re both sitting. “I’d love to see your place, Doc.”

Doc grins and claps a hand on Marty’s shoulder. “Excellent! I knew you would!” He gets to his feet, beaming, and offers Marty a hand up. Marty can’t keep himself from grinning as he takes Doc’s hand, allowing his friend to pull him to his feet. Doc slings an arm around Marty’s shoulders and ruffles his hair with his other hand. “I’ve really missed you, Marty.”

Marty chuckles as he flattens his hair out again, giving Doc an affectionate nudge. “I’ve missed you too, Doc.”

Doc grins, before taking hold of Marty’s wrist. “Come on! You must see the house my family and I occupy back in the West!”

“Honestly, Doc,” Marty smiles genuinely. “I’d like nothing more.”