The Doctor woke up in his warm comfortable bed. Rose Tyler was wrapped around him and their thick comforter was up to his nose. In other words, he was broiling. Sticking a foot out of the duvet to rapidly cool his body, he snuggled back down into his pillow and felt a sharp pain radiating from the back of his head. Reaching up, he stuck a hand into his messy bed head hair. There was a knot! He touched the lump. Hissing, he probed the edges of it. Ow! Did he feel stiff, also?
Wiggling his fingers and toes, he ran a little diagnostic. He wasn’t as accurate in his hybrid form. He couldn’t get his blood gasses or a report from each organ but he got enough. His muscles complained. He was concussed? There were several bruises on the bit of shin he could see on his exposed left leg. And if the way his bum felt was any indication, it was bruised as well. Had he fallen down? Had he passed out and fallen down? If he had passed out and fallen down, how had he ended up in his own bed and not the infirmary at UNIT? If he had passed out and ended up in his own bed instead of the infirmary, had Rose carried him here? If he had passed out and Rose had carried him here, why didn’t he remember passing out? “Hmm.”
Rose had wrapped both arms around his middle with no regard to his bruised form. She had even tangled their legs together the way he liked. Soft snores were escaping her and a strand of her hair was puffing up and away from her face adorably. Gently, he lifted the duvet to take a look at her. She was wearing a pale lavender camisole and darker purple sleep shorts. From what he could see of the lovely expanse of her back and her long toned legs, she was free of blemishes. So whatever had happened, had happened only to him. “Oh, that’s a relief,” he remarked to himself.
The sun was blazing through the window. It was well into morning. His time sense informed him it was 8:15 am. What? He never slept that late! Why would he be sleeping so late? Why didn’t he remember getting into bed? Mysterious morning.
The door to their bedroom bounced open. Startled, he arched a brow as Tony bounded into the room with a white pastry bag. He dove onto the bed, bouncing around. “You’re awake! Hi!” he squealed with a million ‘i’s.
“Tony,” he greeted softly, waving at the sleeping Rose. Tony whispered, “Hi,” just as loudly as before and the Doctor snorted. He slid back, extricating himself from Rose’s warm embrace. “When did you get here?”
A gazillion giggles exploded out of him as he rolled around on the bed. The Doctor caught him up, tossed him over a shoulder, and carried him out of the room. Tossing the little boy onto the sofa, he closed the bedroom door and faced the youngest Tyler. “Well?”
“Last night!” Tony sat up and opened the pastry bag, removing a chocolate croissant and handing it to the Doctor. “‘Memeber? Rose was watching me. Then Gramps helped me bake ‘em croissants an’ you said we should have a sleepover so Mummy and Daddy could have a date night!”
The miniature Pete look-alike with more hair grabbed another croissant out of the bag and stuffed it into his mouth. The Doctor flopped down next to him. “I don’t remember any of that.”
“Rose said you hit your head. Does it hurt?” Tony asked, nibbling his croissant.
“Nah,” the Doctor denied even as the pain radiated outward. “Drink?”
“Juice!” Tony bounced up and down. Was that what Donna thought he was like?
The Doctor walked to the fridge, flipping the kettle on, on his way by. Stuck to the fridge was a piece of notepaper in familiar handwriting. “Evelyn Smythe’s Chocolate Cake Recipe? Well, where did you come from?” He popped the recipe off of the wall and stuffed it in his pajama pocket.
Inside the fridge was half a pizza he was sure hadn’t been there yesterday(?) and several juices. He grabbed apple juice since it was Tony’s favorite and the little monster wasn’t about to accept substitutions. “Did we order pizza?”
The inside of his head felt buzzy, full, and a bit shadowy in the corners where the older Doctors resided. He rubbed the knot, deciding to put frozen peas on it. Settling on the couch next to the little boy, he sipped tea, ate his croissant, and wondered if his brains had finally leaked out of his ears. “I feel as though I am missing something rather important Tyler Tot.”
Tony shrugged. “I’m a Tardis pilot.”
“Are you?” The tea was doing nothing to clear the fog. On the table was the engagement ring he’d been hiding in his pocket for ages and ages and ages. He scooped it up, hurriedly stuffing it under the couch cushions. “I thought I was the Tardis pilot around here…”
“Nuh-uh, me too, and Donna and my sister,” Tony licked his fingers before picking up the juice very carefully with both paws and sipping it. “Gonna go to Mars.”
He puffed out a breath. “Since when did you start calling Wilf ‘gramps’?”
“He likes it,” Tony replied.
“Oh, well, if he likes it…”
“You have peas on your head.”
“You have chocolate on your nose.” Checkmate.
Rose woke up to Tony telling the Doctor a story. She couldn’t hear the words, just the high pitched notes of Tony’s storyteller voice and the rumbling bass notes of the Doctor’s morning voice responding. Stretching, Rose rolled out of the bed, pulled on a robe, and padded into the living room.
“Rose!” they both exclaimed with gratifyingly similar bouts of enthusiasm.
“How’d you sleep, Tiger?” Rose asked Tony, fluffing his red hair.
“The bed was bouncy. So, I slept bouncier than at home.” Tony offered her a chocolate croissant from his mysterious pastry bag from last night.
“That’s good, isn’t it?” she asked, eyes shifting to the Doctor who made a face.
“Yep. I’ve got juice!” Tony demonstrated his ability to drink out of a cup by two-handing it.
“Great, is there tea?” She flopped down beside her brother.
“Yeah, course,” the Doctor bounced up with a bag of frozen peas balancing on his head. He returned a second later with a mug and a bag of mixed vegetables on his head. Cream and sugar sat on the table waiting for her. “Rose...I ah, I don’t erm, this is embarrassing, well, I erm don’t remember a lick of last night.”
Rose smirked. And tilted her head toward Tony. He pouted, puffing out a breath in acceptance of the delay. He stood up. “Well, I need more than a croissant to fill me up, How about some eggs?”
“Fine, pancakes,” the Doctor amended to cheers.
Rose couldn’t put him off forever, he thought in the shower.
After a lovely breakfast with Tony, she had decided to take the monster back to Jackie. She didn’t even ask him to accompany her and he was disappointed because he had a whole argument for why he shouldn’t go prepared. She had told him not to take a shower in case he passed out from his Mysterious Concussion. Well, he wasn’t above a little teenage rebellion in his hybrid body. Technically, his form was younger than Tony, so was it a temper tantrum? Veering away from that thought, he glanced down at the pattern of bruising.
“Was I slammed into a wall?”
Rose opened the door, rushing in. “I told you NOT to shower. God, Doctor, you could have passed out and drowned yourself!”
“Look at my legs, Rose! I’m all purple! Why am I all purple?” The Doctor showed her his back glancing over his shoulder to gauge her expression. “Everything hurts. My memories feel weird. And I know I’m not old enough to be this stiff. I’m aging but not THAT fast.”
Rose handed him a towel. Stubbornly he stepped back closer to the spray. It hit his bruised back, shooting messages of annoyance up his nerves. Rolling her eyes, Rose stripped out of her clothes and stepped in after him. That was not fair! She was trying to distract him. He crossed his arms and focused on a spiderweb in the corner of the stall after only two looks at her naked form. She ignored his very-in his opinion-justifiable pout to grab his biceps and squeeze. “How weird?”
“Hm?” He looked at her and away, forgetting he was trying not to be distracted by the lovely expanse of her skin.
She let go and grabbed for the shampoo. “You said your memories feel weird, how? In what way?”
“Squirmy?” The Doctor concentrated on it and things kept shifting around. “Like I’m full of slippery eels, slippery gelatinous eels… or no, like inside my head is a mud pit full of slipper electric eels…”
Rose’s brows arched.
“Activated? They’re all… the Others, they’re all…” He added a few more lines about the time sense and the instability of memories when each set of memories was actually it’s own separate incarnation and sums and a bit about Rassilon before she tapped him. “What?”
“None of that was in English.”
He scratched his chin. “No. Don’t suppose it would be.”
Rose changed places with him so she could rinse her hair. He grabbed a loofa, loaded it up with soap, and scrubbed her back needing to do something with his hands. Rose made a few appreciative noises before reaching for conditioner. “You remember the negotiations?”
“Yeah, big delegation, telepathic conference… Oh no,” the Doctor moaned. “I wasn’t that exhausted that I would… Blackout? Like when your mother drinks red wine? That’s embarrassing.” He dropped the loofah to massage the slippery conditioner into her wet blonde strands. “And I somehow fell into a wall?” He mused aloud.
She shifted to face him, so he used the slippery stuff left on his hands to condition his own hair. Her products were magical. He had secretly bought stock in the company with the explicit instructions to never stop making this exact set of hair care and to make a new version slightly more banana flavored. She looked uncomfortable. Rose Tyler was awkward.
“Don’t do that,” Rose insisted.
“Don’t do what?” he asked.
“Get freaked out.” Rose nervously detangled her hair.
The Doctor screamed internally. “I’m not.”
“Your eyes get like all this white around them when you freak out. And your leg jiggles.”
He glanced down, forcing his leg to stop. “Erm.”
“Right, rip the plaster right off then, yeah?”
The Doctor thought Rose looked lovely in their blue slate bathroom all covered in slipper soaps and conditioners. She was a bit golden, he thought. Memorizing this image, just in case this was Very Bad News, he was shocked when she pinched him. “Stop being melodramatic. It’s not bad. S’just weird.”
“You were doing the memorizing thing…”
The Doctor grabbed her shoulders, changing places again to get under the hot spray and rinse off. After turning on the other showerheads, he rinsed them both clean rapidly. The water shut off. “C’mon, tell me your weird news in the bedroom.”
Grabbing the towel Rose had abandoned, he wrapped her in the big fluffy white towel before retrieving its mate from the hook. Rose went willingly. They dried in silence for a few minutes while the Doctor felt the memories inside him shift again, shuffling around. The scent of jelly babies hit him forcibly for an instant before fading into tea and morphing into hot chocolate.
“All right?” Rose asked. She didn’t get dressed, preferring to sit with hair dripping on the edge of the bed.
He bobbed his head and took his towel to her hair. Muffled complaints escaped the towel. “I'm erm, well, I’m experiencing sort of fragrant flashbacks?”
Rose pulled the towel free and wrapped it around his waist, securing it with some interesting tucks. “What?”
“Memories of smells or memories linked to smells.” He plopped down next to her.
“Right, so we came home after the negotiations, and you were exhausted. Thought you’d sleep half the day away. Instead, you sort of… got up to do Tardis maintenance.”
“Oh?” He made an interested face.
“Yes, only it wasn’t you you…
The Doctor stilled. “What?”
“It was one of the other ones…” Rose worried her hair.
The other ones? “Oh, no, that’s not allowed.”
“Yeah, he might have mentioned that only he had a reason for wanting to do it,” Rose explained.
“I don’t care. He had no right.” A heat built up within him. “His time is over. It’s my turn now... They’re memories. Not backup Doctors.” He gripped the brown duvet in his hands. “He had no right.”
Rose reached for him and grabbed one of his fists, forcing it to release the duvet and curl gently around her smaller hand. “Don’t be too hard on him. He knew how to fix the Tardis. He took a chance… and he was already sort of punished. Donna almost shot him!”
“You mean me,” the Doctor corrected absently before correcting, “Donna almost SHOT ME?”
“Sh, she didn’t mean to, she was trying to stun you because she thought you were a shapeshifter or something. Look, it all worked out.” Rose reached her freehand up to cup his cheek. He was sure she could feel the anger in his skin. The Others were memories. They were not supposed to move him, usurpers. He’d lock their memories so far down that they’d know what the one they always tried to forget felt like. Rose tapped his nose. “He did it, by the way. Tardis is healthy and back in her growing phase.”
“How do you-How do I know that?” The Doctor had known the instant Rose said it that she was right. He felt it. He felt it almost like the old Tardis almost as if… “We bonded to her? And I missed it! Aw, this is so...Wait so that’s why she was stunted. She needed the imprint… It was the one in the patchwork coat. Him. The angry blond rainbowy one.”
“He’s a sweetheart really…”
The Doctor glared. “He flirted with you, didn’t he? That’s unbelievable.”
“He’s YOU.” Rose rolled her eyes.
“Yeah well, he won’t be bothering you again,” the Doctor stood up, tossing the towel towards the bathroom. He pulled open a bureau and dressed in pants and trousers with shaky hands. “I’ll see to that.”
Rose let out a sniffle.
He spun to face her, a soft gray t-shirt in hand. “You’re crying.” He dropped the tee and pulled her into a hug, wet towel, and all. “Why?”
“I like them. They’re you.” She blubbered into his shoulder which was unusual enough because Rose Tyler rarely cried… unless it was over him.
“I’m not going to kill them,” he whispered, softening his exasperated tone.
“They’re bored in there with no new adventures,” Rose explained, pulling back.
“Do you want them to control me like a puppet?”
“No,” Rose said miserably.
“Do you want me to make clones of myself and have them all put into new bodies?” the Doctor asked.
Rose looked contemplative. "That could be--" Fun? Fun for Rose maybe but he was fighting himself for space in his own bed.
“It’s not happening,” the Doctor told her. “I need them in there with me.”
“Because they’re you! But in your Meta Crisis they’ve gotten more lively, haven’t they?” Rose asked, taking the tee and helping him into it. She smoothed it down into place tapping where his second heart used to be. She never did that. Never called attention to the differences on purpose. He was a little hurt.
“You like them better?”
“I like them the same, they’re you.” Rose sat back.
“That’s… flattering… a bit… a smidge… But they can’t do that again. Not without my permission.” The Doctor said falling backward on the bed.
“Would you give it?” Rose asked, falling down beside him. He wrapped an arm around her.
“Never say never, but yeah never.”
From where he lay on the bed he could see the mirror on the back of his armoir. Inside the glass, he saw them all smiling. Later, he took the recipe out of his discarded pajama pocket. While unfolding it, he noticed there was a message on the back in his handwriting:
“It was good to be the Doctor again, if only for a moment.”
Ah, well maybe he could work something out with them… They were him after all. He’d think about it over cake. Tucking the recipe into his suit pocket, he smiled.