The worlds' greatest actor won't be found on any of the great Broadways. He won't be found in a touring company, itinerant or planetbound. He won't be found in the motion-capture studios of New Hollywood, nor even in the old California live-halls.

He's done theater-in-the-sphere before, a year and a half with an American Shakespeare company on Earth. For the Hamlet-Rosencrantz season he'd been Alfred and the Player's understudy. The Player fell ill in Milwaukee, and for three nights and a matinee he got to be somebody important. That's when he discovered his talent, and became the worlds' best actor. But no one else noticed, and when the Player got better and they moved on to St. Louis, he went back to being an understudy. But he never forgot that rush, that lovely feeling of being somebody.

He never felt it again while with the company, and they never acknowledged that it had happened. They did, however, notice that he was brooding over something, and that it got in the way of his performance. So the director let his contract expire, and they let him off in New York before the next audition.

He tried out for a couple of roles in New York, but found nothing that he fell into easily, or that felt as good. He drifted into the undercity, taking work where he found it, but growing lazy as nothing appealed to him. Finally he landed where so many drifters end up: sex work.

And here he stayed, among the jetsam of the undercity, and it was here he found his talent again, playing out women's fantasies for less than minimum wage. Every woman who came to him wanted something different out of him, not just acts but attitudes, wanted him to be a father-figure, a guardian angel, the true love they'd never had. And he found himself falling subtly into these roles, playing them almost unconsciously, and he liked it.

News of his talent spread, as such news always does. He began to serve classier clients, and raised his prices accordingly. Soon he had enough to move into an apartment higher in the city, at the fringes of respectability, and to take down appointments on a tablet. Soon after he began to branch out, doing specific characters instead of broad archetypes. With the money he now had, bod-mods were cheap: skin, hair, and iris dye to be a specific celebrity; temporary horn and claw implants for girls who liked; body glitter and false eyeteeth for the bimbos who read twenty-first-century pulp romances.

One day he received a call from an up-and-coming member of the planetary civil service, ordering a whole Friday night two weeks in advance. Her voice sounded vaguely familiar. "Be the Doctor for me," she said.

"Which Doctor?" he asked. He had no idea what she was talking about.

She acted like he understood. "The Tenth, like he was for Rose. I'll pay extra for a double heartbeat." She signed off, leaving him confused. He opened a googler and gave it the conversation, hoping to make some sense of it. What he found amazed him.

The character she wanted was the hero of an old television program-one that was still popular in the outworlds, and had in fact been the source of names for some of them, Boeshane and Skaro most prominently. The Doctor himself changed his appearance every few years, but the tenth one was easy to find information on, since he was still in the top five.

He began collecting his costume: the complexion tint, the hair gel, the pinstriped suit-the sneakers were hardest to find; he finally got them 3D printed off the black market. But by that time, he knew it was worth it. The more he prepared for the role, the more he watched, the more he learned-the more he wanted to know. It was scary. He hadn't worked this hard since Hamlet.

He began practicing on his other clients, those that wanted British celebrities or space travelers. He'd never done that before, and it annoyed a couple of his more knowledgeable clients.

At last it was time. He laced up his sneakers, straightened his tie, and turned on the micro-amp he'd had implanted in his chest, which played his heartbeat back. (He'd spent a whole afternoon making sure it sounded right.) Now he had two heartbeats, and they were pounding. Had he done enough?

The doorbell rang at the stroke of eight, and he had no more time for stage fright. He opened the door. "Hello, Rose," he said.

Her name really was Rose, he remembered upon seeing her; he'd met her at school years ago. Had she wanted him then? He didn't remember, but it didn't matter. What mattered was now, and tonight he was the Doctor. And she'd made it possible. So he did his best for her, and when she fell asleep, he even felt satisfied.

He woke her at dawn, and dressed in the Doctor's suit again to see her out. She reached down and picked up something that had fallen from his coat. "Is this your watch?" she asked, handing it to him.

"Yeah," he said, toying with the silver pocketwatch absently as he watched her dress, "it came with the—" No. No, it hadn't come with the suit, he realized. It was his. He'd always had it, but never really—

Rose paused in buttoning her shirt, as if she'd suddenly had the same thought as him, then shook her head and finished dressing.

She paid the extra she'd promised, and he showed her to the door. "Good luck," she said as she turned to leave.

She walked away, and he found himself staring at the watch again. He wondered what would happen if...On an impulse, he opened the watch and looked inside.

His hearts raced. "Rose!" he shouted.