The wind rushes past his face and he pulls the collar of his jacket over his mouth to provide a sort of barrier. Perhaps he should’ve listened to the Doctor and Graham and worn a scarf, but he wasn’t about to grab one now.
Another glance at this surroundings reveals that the person he was intending to meet, his father, is nowhere in sight. Glancing down at his wrist, he sees that his watch reads 7:06.
They had agreed upon 6:30. Typical.
Ryan decides to give his father five more minutes before standing up and walking back towards the TARDIS. He only makes it a few meters before hearing the voice he didn’t want to hear. Shit. This would’ve been easier if the man hadn’t shown at all.
Sighing and sticking his hands into his jacket pockets, he turns around to see his father walking towards him.
All he says is “Hello.”
“You were going to leave without seeing your old man? Is that it?”
The phrase ‘your old man’ makes him feel sick. As far as Ryan is concerned, this man has no right to say that to him.
“You’re late,” Ryan huffs. “By forty minutes.”
“I was busy.”
Of course. That’s always his excuse. He’s always busy with something or other, to the point that he can’t make anywhere on time, if he makes it at all.
“Why did you call me?”
That’s about the only thing Ryan has to say to him today. When they spoke on the phone, he already said that this was the last chance he was giving his father. Yasmin said he’d given him enough chances already; told him that he shouldn’t have met him today at all. Ryan figured that meeting face to face would be worth at least something, if nothing more than to finally tell him off for good.
“I wanted to see how you were doing.”
Ryan doesn’t believe a single word of that. Since when has this guy ever cared? Despite how reluctant he is to accept Graham as anything more than his Nan’s second husband, he has to give him credit. At least Graham tries; at least it’s clear he cares.
“I was doing better before this conversation.”
“Come on, Ryan. Don’t be like that.”
“Like what? Rightfully dismissive?”
His dad scoffs and runs his hand over his face. “I’m trying, Ryan, I swear.”
There was a time Ryan wished that was true. Now he just shakes his head. “Why weren’t you at Nan’s funeral? And don’t you dare say you were busy.”
His father opens his mouth, but closes it again. He really doesn’t try, does he?
“Have you been to her grave?”
The only response this question elicits is a darting of his father’s eyes away and a hesitation before he finally shakes his head. The bar was on the ground and the bastard pulled out a shovel.
Trying to remain composed, he takes a deep breath and clenches his fists in his pockets.
“It’s been five months,” he hisses through gritted teeth. Strictly speaking, it’s been five months on Earth since his nan passed away. For him and the others, it’s been slightly more.
“Five bloody months and not once did you make it to your mother’s grave?”
A moment ago he wanted his father to shut up, and shut up he has. Now, however, he wants a fucking explanation as to how he couldn’t find one day out of roughly a hundred fifty to visit Grace. Said explanation is not provided.
“This? This is over,” Ryan says, turning back around to head to the TARDIS once more.
“Ryan, you can’t just leave like this. I’m your dad!”
Ryan turns his head towards the man. “Genetics don’t mean I owe you anything. Not when you’ve been unreliable my whole life. As far as I’m concerned, you’ve never been much of a father.”
The wind drowns out the protesting response that follows as he walks away.
Upon opening the TARDIS door, he’s greeted by a much welcomed blast of warm air. Scattered across the floor are various tools, assorted parts of various deconstructed machines, and one apparatus that the Doctor is currently working on. Ryan inquires about it and they begin an infodump that he can’t even begin to follow. He catches the phrases “temporal energy” and “neural electricity” and he’s not sure if he wants to understand what the connection is between these two things.
“How did it go?” the Doctor inquires, looking up from the chaotic device.
“About as well as could be expected.” Ryan makes his way to the console and sits down beside them, watching them work.
“That bad?” The Doctor sonics a bit of the device and it makes a whirring sound that it doesn’t seem like it should be capable of.
“Do you want to talk about it?”
“Not really,” he says as he leans back against the console. “I’d rather take my mind off of it for a little bit.”
“Alright.” The Doctor stops working on the mysterious contraption. “Well, I’ve been meaning to take a look at some of the mechanisms below the console. Would you like to help me out?”
“Fixing an alien spaceship? That sounds proper awesome.”
The Doctor shoves what they were working on to the side and leans under the console, beckoning Ryan to join them. They work for a while, with the Doctor directing him with some tasks and him figuring out other ones. Eventually they begin talking about his dad again.
“I don’t need him — or want him in my life. Known that for a while.”
For a moment he thinks the Doctor might question this. Even though they already know how he feels about his father, it almost feels like there’s a chance they’ll start rambling about how important family is and why it’s because of that that Ryan shouldn’t cut his dad out of his life. Instead, they just nod understandingly and continue working.
What he wants to say next is a tad risky and has the potential to just be awkward.
“Honestly, you’re more of a parent to me than he is, Doctor. Like a Space Mum.”
The Doctor’s face scrunches in what looks to be disgust and they visibly cringe slightly. They stop working and look over at him. Yeah, that was the wrong call.
“Uh, that was a bit weird, sorry. Never mind that,” Ryan backtracks, hoping to dissolve the tension that he’s feeling build up.
“Dad,” the Doctor says after a moment.
“I’d rather be your Space Dad than Space Mum.”
Oh. He did screw up a bit with his comment, but not for the reason he thought.
Ryan thinks back to when they were on the planet Desolation. “When you found the TARDIS, you first called yourself ‘Daddy’ but corrected yourself.”
“Yes, I did. It was perfectly reasonable for you to assume based on that comment since I was the one who made it. I like ‘Dad’ a whole lot more, though. Thought I’d try ‘Mum’ with this new face but it didn’t work. Like when you’re putting together a puzzle and a piece looks like it’s the right one so you shove it in — but then it gets stuck because it doesn’t fit and you need to wedge it back out. I’ve been a dad for a long time and a new face hasn’t changed that.”
Ryan doesn’t ask more when they say that last bit. He catches on that they’re alluding to the family they’ve lost.
“Right. Is there anything else you’d prefer we call you?”
The Doctor shrugs.
“Eh. My gender’s a bit, uh …” They wave their hands about in front of them in a way that makes almost zero sense but still manages to get enough of the point across.
“Sort of fluid?” Ryan asks.
“Yeah, that works.” The Doctor runs a hand through their hair. “Honestly, you can call me whatever and I’ll correct you if you get it wrong. Sound okay?”
“He’s a fool.”
“What?” Ryan’s thrown by the sudden topic change before he realizes they’re talking about his bio dad again. “More of a deadbeat, really.”
The Doctor sets the sonic on the ground beside them. “A deadbeat and a fool, then. A fool twice over, because he keeps failing to be there for you and because he can’t recognize just how amazing you are.”
“Thanks, Doctor,” Ryan says with a small smile.
“Ryan Sinclair, I am honored to be your Space Dad.”