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While He Slept

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“Where’s he then?”

“Sleeping,” Rose managed between bites of croissant slathered in jam. Three more bites and she switched over to the poached egg. She bolted it down with too hot tea, huffing to cool her mouth.

Jackie sat across from her at the quartz kitchen counter in the mansion. They only had about ten minutes before Tony got home from school. She had promised to watch her little brother while Jackie met up with Beryl. She hadn’t seen her little brother in a week and he’d let her know with a late-night phone call on a stolen mobile. While she’d like to be home soaking after last night’s adventure, she couldn’t pass up the chance to see Tony.

And after Tony Time, they were going to have to spend a weekend with the Tardis. She didn’t seem to be growing or developing as fast as she had been. The Doctor wanted to try some new nutrient baths. He hadn’t said anything but it was obvious that he’d been worried at their last check-in with her. Donna had also given her an elaborate story about him biting a research assistant’s head off when he dared suggest he take a look at the budding time machine with only eyebrow raises and mouthing the curses. Rose’s stomach reminded her it was only half full and she went back to shoveling it in.

“Slow down, you’ll choke. The food’s not going anywhere, Rose Marion Tyler, and I will not have you teaching your brother bad table manners.”

“‘E’s not even here,” Rose complained around a mouthful of egg.

Jackie glared.

Rose glared.

Jackie glared more glaringly.

Rose sighed, marginally slowing down. “Sorry! I’m starving! We were up all night. And once Tony barrels in here like a rocket, I won’t have time to eat. Pete says we’re going to have to meet with the Vliz’riKm again next week. That’s another late night for us, especially him because they’re telepathic. The Doctor says they never bothered to develop speech in a way we’d comprehend since they communicate mind to mind. I said if it’s a bit like how the Tardis communicates that I want to get in on the next meeting.” Rose pushed her empty plate away from herself as her stomach did it’s best to deal with all the food stuffed in there right up to her throat. Seconds earlier it had been complaining about being empty, silly stomach!

“Why would you want to let some freaky alien connect to your mind-’Ere, never mind, forgot who I was talking to for a sec,” Jackie snorted and refilled Rose’s teacup. It was a delicate thing with elegant ivy leaves painted on and a gold rim. Rose was terrified of dropping it. Why did her mum never use the mugs she and the Doctor had bought them? Good, solid, drop ‘em on cement mugs... “I’ll ask another one then, have you gotten engaged yet?”

“Mum,” Rose said, stuffing all of her exasperation into one word. “We aren’t in any rush. We said forever. We meant forever. All the rest is just…” She shrugged a shoulder. Rose had ‘married’ him in his peoples’ way mind to mind. While she figured they’d eventually get around to it, she was wondering if it wouldn’t happen until the Tardis was done. Or even after, she might have to ask him herself. He hadn’t yet. In his defense, they had very little downtime lately. There had been all the work to get Wilf to move in with Donna, then all the fun of having Wilf start at work, and then the invasion of Zygons-that had worked out great. They were even working in UNIT now in disguise. Then there was last night.

The Doctor had needed to use his telepathy for a seven-hour negotiation. The Doctor never ever mentioned the differences between his abilities pre and post-Metacrisis, but Rose suspected even with a wholly Timelord brain, he had taken a while to get in touch with all his alien skills, including telepathy. And she knew for a fact that it took more of a toll on his slightly human body. He’d be asleep for at least a full eight hours instead of his normal four to five.

Jackie harrumphed. “My only daughter and she wants to rob me of seeing her and her weird alien boyfriend get married…” She sighed. “And enduring years of your miserable lonely face without the Doctor, you’d think I’d earned a fancy party to show the pair of you off. I love you both you know, and a fancy wedding is the way I tell everyone else that. Not that I need to, you and he are always in the papers snogging.”

Smirking, Rose put the teacup down. “Yeah alright, give it a rest Jackie Tyler.”

“Disrespectful cow,” Jackie said, slapping at her with a tea towel.

They burst into giggles. Tony found them wiping happy tears out of their eyes and launched himself into Rose’s lap. Rose’s eyes stung for a minute. She had been so willing to leave them all behind. Maybe her mum did deserve a wedding, even if she was being unbearable about it. Rose already had a dress. She was sure she could have custom trainers made… She wondered if Donna would be willing to stand in as both maid of honor and best man? And if not, would they have to flip a coin for her? Should she make more friends? Jake would never want to be in the party. He’d want to be outside with guns in case aliens turned up which they inevitably would, wouldn’t they? Of course, they would. Who was she kidding?

“Now, I’ve got to go. Tony, come and give your mummy a kiss, sweetheart.”

“Where’s the Doctor?” Tony asked, looking around for him.

“Oh, thanks.”

 

“How long do you think he’ll be at the perfect level of REM sleep, do you think?” the Little One in the Panama Hat asked, slyly.

“Oh, I daresay he’ll be out for at least as long as a human would, if not longer. He shouldn’t be overtaxing his mental abilities the way he has. I know I was particularly telepathically gifted,” the Cricket one said, “but the tradeoff was a bit of my time sense. All regenerations have different strengths.”

“Yes, and mine is Tardis maintenance,” the Doctor said, patting the black and white cat pin on his lapel affectionately. “We know he’s been having trouble and I can help. We shouldn’t waste this opportunity.”

“It’s against the rules,” the Little One in the Panama Hat said, face dropping into a mopy frown. “We can’t. Our time is over.” His burr was even mournful.

“Poppycock!” the Doctor boomed. “She’s OUR Tardis too. We’re him.”

“No, we WERE him, big difference,” the Cricket One argued, “he’s in charge. We have to let him do as he sees fit.”

They stared down at the impossibly thin pinstriped Doctor lying in the bed of the flat he shared with their mate, Rose Tyler. They were in his mind, of course, because they were his mind. The Doctor in the Rainbow Coat had finally spent a disturbing evening absorbing the horror of the Leather Coat One and this Pinstriped Chap and the end result was, he’d noticed a few flaws in the Doctor’s Tardis growing methods.

“Horseshit,” he swore.

The other two turned shocked faces to him. He waved off their offended expressions. “Sorry, sorry, something Peri used to say whenever I assured her I was perfectly capable of saving us from impending doom. And even though I continued to succeed time and time again, she insisted on saying it each and every time.”

“Until that last time,” the Little One in the Panama Hat said, darkly.

The Doctor wasn’t about to revisit those darker memories just now. She’d survived and lived on. That was all that had mattered. And they were in quite another universe from her now, so this was all a very moot point.

“Don’t distract me,” he hissed. “The point stands. We are him. We get to help him help himself.”

“That’s not what this is, this is, to use another American term in honor of Peri, a hijacking.” The Cricket One glared.

“Yes, but it’s for my own good,” the Doctor insisted.

The other two looked at one another, having a fierce conversation with eyebrows and possibly telepathy, he didn’t care. They ended it by shrugging. They turned to face him and if he wasn’t very much mistaken, they’d reached a consensus in his favor.

“Oh, why not?” The Cricket One said after a minute. “But DON’T get TOO comfortable.”

“Why? You want a go next?” The Doctor snarked, chuckling at his own joke as he gently slipped the Pinstripe One out of the driver’s seat.

“The Tardis is at BigBen. The security passcode is the same as our locker at the Academy.”

The Doctor waved them off, linking his mind into the control matrix for the hybrid body. It was a lot like getting into your car after someone had adjusted the mirrors. He took a moment to orient.

“Good luck,” the Cricket One said.”

“No need, I’m a genius, remember?”

Chapter Text

The Doctor’s eyes snapped open. The heavy feeling of his limbs was surprising. He was so thin in this incarnation. Of course, being noncorporeal for several hundred years, he couldn’t be expected to remember every single sensation. Sitting up, Rose and his own scent hit him sending a pleasant warmth through him. He glanced down at his pajamas. “No, this will never do. If I’m to get in and out of BigBen without anyone noticing, I need to wear proper work clothes. I suppose I should find something stripy.”

Hopping out of the bed, he hissed as his bare feet hit the hardwood floors. “Why am I not wearing socks?” He padded over to the armoire opening it to see his clothing intermingled with Rose Tyler’s hoodies, dresses, and blouses. He fingered a few of the brighter colors, enjoying the silk. In comparison, his own clothing was devastatingly muted. “Hm, he really loves his browns and blues, doesn’t he? Suppose I can tone down my incredible sartorial tastes for a few hours.”

Pulling loose one of the brighter blue pinstripe suits, he also selected a t-shirt in a desaturated purple, and he chose a long silk red polka dot scarf that he could tie into a proper cravat. Dressing quickly, he headed into the living room. Reggie was glowing softly pink next to his friend Leah. “We are really going to have to do some proper testing on you, Reggie my boy! You are a dapper young hedgehog and pink is your color!”

He stopped at the mat choosing a bright red pair of Converse shoes. “Why not wear flip flops?” he asked his reflection, taking in the mop of messy dark brown hair and the purple smudges under his warm dark eyes. He did enjoy the arched brow quite a bit. He did not enjoy the reflection as much, noticing his other personalities manifesting in the glass.

“Remember, this incarnation is friendly,” the Cricket one admonished.

“I AM FRIENDLY,” he growled.

The Little One in the Panama Hat muttered, “And spiky like a porcupine.”

“I am quite capable of impersonating myself, thank you.” The Doctor said. “Now, do they have oyster cards here?”

“You have a car,” the Cricket One said with a long-suffering sigh.

“Ah, excellent! Keys, keys... keys… Which one of you remembers where he keeps his keys?”

They stared.

“Well? Come on! We don’t have all day!”

 

“An’ I getta ride in the Tardis first,” Tony said disgustingly fresh and bouncy after several laps around the playground. “An’ I getta space pony.”

“Right, you little terror. No time travel until you’re eighteen,” Rose grabbed both his hands and swung him up into the top of the monkey bars. She flipped up after him.

Tony’s hair was getting long and the ginger was lightening to a strawberry blond. Rose hoped he maintained the red. It was lovely and drove the Doctor insane with jealousy. He smiled at her with giant blue eyes like Mum’s. “Then I getta space pony?”

“Yeah, if you promise to feed it,” Rose said, staring up at the bright blue sky arcing over them. It was brisk but soon the weather would shift to hot, hot, hot. “And if you let me and the Doctor use your pool.”

“Deal,” Tony responded, sounding like a miniature Pete.

Rose shook on it. Kicking her feet, she grinned at her little brother. “You’re a right handful.”

“Nuh uh, Mummy says I’m easier than you were,” Tony said pulling a bag of sweets out of his pocket. He offered her one.

“Did she? Well, you know Mum’s really the difficult one. She always catches you when you’re sneaking biscuits, or trying to stay up late, or hiding presents. Isn’t that right?” Rose popped the candy into her mouth. It was sickeningly sweet and tasted vaguely of ginger. She pocketed one for the Doctor later.

“Mm,” Tony agreed. “Rose?”

“Yeah?” Rose stopped looking up to look at him. He had her nose. She booped it.

“I love you.”

Rose’s heart seized. She threw an arm around the small boy and crushed him against her. “Quite right, too.”

Her phone rang, playing the Toxic from Brittany Spears. “Oh, that’s Donna. Hang on Tyler Tot. Gotta take this one. Hello Donna! Alright?”

 

“The Doctor is here,” Donna hissed into her phone. She was hiding behind a pillar watching him cross the cantina to get the mug of tea Gramps had made for him and had called out cheerily for a piece of chocolate cake. “Isn’t he supposed to be sleeping?”

Rose sounded like she was outside. “There’s no way he’d be conscious right now.” A small voice added, “he’s asleep!”

“I. Am. Looking. At. Him.” Donna ducked behind the pole as the Doctor enthusiastically clapped Wilf on the back and boomed a thank you that was off. “He looks mental by the way.”

“More or less mental than every day, Donna?” Rose asked.

“Fair point...He’s wearing your red polka dot scarf as a sort of tie thing, the fancy kind like at a posh wedding for ponces…” Donna whispered. “And...he sounds different.”

“How different?” Rose’s playful tone slipped and Donna heard UNIT Leader Rose Tyler’s tone seeping in.

“I can’t explain it. It’s as if someone were pretending to be him and doing a decent impression…” Donna followed as the Doctor took his tray and headed for the elevator to his lab. “What should I do?”

“Follow him up. Keep an eye on him. I’ve got Tony with me so I’ll be bringing him. Donna, it’s probably fine. Alright? Just keep him in your sights until we get there.” Rose hung up.

Donna huffed and grabbed a stunner off one of the squaddies. She decided to take the steps and see if she could spy on him. If he did anything suspicious, she was going to drop him until Rose got there. After meeting shapeshifting aliens, Donna was suspicious of everyone. The steps were a terrible idea. Puffing on the third floor, she grabbed the rail and wheezed, before getting off at the landing and waiting for the elevator. “I need to stop letting the Doctor talk me into cake for lunch.”

The elevator dinged. Donna hopped on. Tapping her foot impatiently, she watched the numbers go up.

 

Rose led Tony to the tube. “Come on big man, we’re going to go see the Tardis.”

Tony got on without fussing. “I’m hungry.” Alright, he got on with minimal fussing. Rose settled him and herself. It was at least ten minutes to Westminster. She called the Doctor’s mobile. After five rings it went to his voicemail. “Yeah, you better call me back. Donna says you’re being weird.”

“Whose being weird?” Tony asked.

“The Doctor,” Rose answered, texting Donna for an update.

The reply was swift, as Donna rang back. “I’ve got him cornered.”

“Cornered? What-? Donna!” Rose exclaimed.

In the background, she heard the Doctor say, “Donna Noble, you put that stunner down this instant.” The voice was the Doctor. The inflection, accent, and tone was also the Doctor, just not the one that matched the voice. Rose huffed. “Stand down, Donna.”

“Don’t move,” Donna shouted, no longer listening to Rose. Rose stood up.

“Why are you holding a stunner on me, you insane woman?” Came the indignant reply.

Uh, oh.

Rose heard the stunner go off.

Chapter Text

Rose barrelled into UNIT. She didn’t have time to drop Tony off anywhere, so she swung her little brother up onto her shoulders. “Hang on, Tony!”

If she was worried about him getting scared, she was wasting her time. Tiny hands throttled her as he hung on giggling. Once in the elevator, she dropped him down to the carpet and caught his hand. Tony frowned. “What’s wrong with the Doctor?”

“Nothing,” Rose said.

“Then why was there yelling?” Tony asked.

“Oh, you know, I reckon there’s always a bit of yelling when the Doctor’s around. Don’t you worry Tiger, the Doctor’s fine, probably.” Rose bit her lip. He better be fine. If Donna had damaged him, she was going to have hell to pay. Well, no, this was still almost certainly the Doctor’s fault -one of them. Tapping her foot, she glared at the numbers. Why were elevators so slow? Even in the future on New Earth, it had taken ages to go up and down. She counted to ten, slowing her heart rate and offering Tony a smile. “When we get in there, stand behind me, alright? And don’t touch anything with those grubby little cat paws of yours.”

Tony blew a raspberry. Rose snorted. The doors opened to chaos.

The Doctor’s lab door was open and there was a smoking hole through the Carl Sagan section of books. Ooh, he wasn’t going to be happy about that. Carl Sagan wrote Romance novels here and the Doctor had started collecting them hilariously pointing out all the accurate science in his sci-fi romances. On the floor with his hands over his head was the Doctor looking ridiculous. His hair was standing on end as normal but her silk scarf was around his neck in an elaborate bow. His eyes were wide open. The link to him that always buzzed along in her mind was resting.

“Thank Rassilon! Call off this HARPY!” the Doctor boomed.

“Donna’s your best friend,” she reminded the Doctor.

“Then why is she determined to shoot me, eh?” He tried to stand.

“OI! No way,” Donna growled with her “stun” gun leveled at his chest. “I caught him in here with a knife near the Tardis. I have no idea who the hell he thinks he is but he’s not the Doctor!”

Rose blinked at Donna’s wild eyes and shaky hands. She glanced at the Tardis coral. It had expanded, reaching up to wrap around rafters but the healthy orangey glow was still dimmed. There was a rather large knife on the ground near the growing medium the Tardis was planted in. She pulled Tony out from behind her where his eyes were wide as saucers. “Well, you were right Tony, the Doctor is asleep.”

“Nuh-uh, s’talking.” Tony pointed out.

“Ah, hallo young Anthony Tyler, you’re looking hale and healthy,” the Doctor chirruped.

Donna bristled and made a face that meant, “See? The Doctor never calls him ‘Anthony.’”

“Donna put the gun down. Also, where did you get it? That’s not a stun gun.” When Donna twitched, Rose reached out and took it out of her nerveless fingers.

Pale, Donna hugged herself. “I took it off a squaddy. They’re all supposed to have stun only.”

“Right, the Doctor has a lot of yelling to do. I’ll just let him know when he wakes up. And you can’t just steal guns and hold them on my boyfriend.” Rose placed the gun on a stack of reports the Doctor had been ignoring for at least a fortnight by the height.

“He’s possessed! Or a shapeshifter, look at him!” Donna pointed at the Doctor who was pouting.

“Am not, Donna Noble!” He stood up, his eyes snapping to the smoking hole then back to Donna. “Though remind me never to get on your bad side ever again. Thank goodness you have bad aim!”

Rose snorted. Donna was right. The Doctor’s accent and cadence were different. If he had been pretending to be his current self now, he’d forgotten to keep it up in the excitement. Even the way he pouted was slightly different. Rose arched her brows at him.

“I AM the Doctor. Tell her Rose. We’re… You’re... My…” a musical word slipped out. “You know me.” Rose filed the sounds away as wife/mate/best friend. “You know that don’t you?”

Rose smiled at the soft tone. “Yeah, s’weird to see you without the blond hair and the big patchwork coat though.”

A brilliant smile broke across the Doctor’s face. “You DO know me.”

“What?” Donna was floored. “It’s one of his other regenerations? Why? How? Where’s the regular personality? Was there a coup? How would that even work? If I still had my gun…”

“See if I let you spend months reviewing my adventures ever again,” the Doctor mumbled, reaching for the knife. Donna darted forward and kicked it away from him. “Hey! Stop it. I am trying to help.”

Tony muttered, “Time outs.”

“Right, Donna, you go over there and sit. Doctor no knives until you explain yourself. Tony, go say hello to the Tardis. Just there,” Rose pointed to the coral. Tony raced over to examine it. His tiny hand touched the rough exterior of the coral and he started murmuring to it.

The Doctor huffily sat on a half-assembled piece of console. Rose sighed. If he’d been wearing his long coat he would have flared it out before sitting. The combination of haughtiness and sulkiness was a new one on her. Rose crossed her arms and glared.

“Right, now want to tell me what you think you’re doing running around in the current Doctor’s body? I’m assuming he had no idea this is happening?”

 

“Ah, no, not as such…” The Doctor felt his cheeks heat up with an embarrassingly human reaction to being caught out. This strange hybrid body was seemingly full of surprises. He was also rather unpleasantly sweating. How did he deal with these changes so well when he was the current one? “I sort of stepped in for a bit, not permanently, not a coup as my so-called best friend has stated: I needed to do me a favor.” He scratched his chin, hoping the others weren’t paying strict attention and knowing they were.

Donna Noble had entered the lab before he’d been able to complete the very simple process needed to help the Tardis. To add insult to injury, she’d SHOT at him. Then the infernal woman had held him hostage for fourteen minutes and thirty-two seconds before Rose had arrived like an avenging angel with her brother an avenging angel in training. And-AND, now he was sentenced to a timeout by the younger Tyler in front of his mate. This was not the fun romp he had expected it to be.

“Well,” Rose prompted, relaxing out of her rather aggressive and unnervingly attractive command pose. “Explain this to me.”

“As you are aware, I exhausted my mind last night and fell into deep REM sleep.”

“Like a healing coma?” Rose asked, brow crinkling with worry.

“No,” he dismissed with a wave, “nothing so serious. Mental lift like that is mentally and physically taxing on this hybrid form. I overextended myself. ”

“You mean he did, the other Doctor,” Donna interrupted.

“You humans, who cares about the simplistic nature of pronouns when I have important work to do?”

“Is this version mental?” Donna demanded.

The Doctor huffed, insulted. This woman had gone through most of his catalog of adventures in her time trapped inside his mind with the others. There was even a version of her still in here with them since her personality was technically part of his after the meta crisis event. Not that he’d mention it to her. Shame she most likely lost the memories or she’d show him a bit more kindness. He understood her aggression. She was just protective of him which was flattering if problematic at the moment.

“Nah,” Rose said. “No more than the rest of him. What sort of favor?”

Tony was walking around the Tardis babbling to her. The Tardis was interested. The Doctor smiled. Rose walked closer t the Tardis, drawn by her mental song, no doubt, even if she wasn’t exactly aware of it the way she would be if he had his way.

“Hm? Oh! Yes, I had the opportunity to catch up on current events, recently. And not to malign my current self, but he has made a few mistakes regarding the Tardis coral…”

“How? Doesn’t he know everything you know?” Donna asked.

“Yes! Of course I, erm, he does. Only, do you remember every single fact you’ve ever been told all at once, Donna? No. Neither do I, erm, he. I happen to have the information because during my time I needed it. Jamie an old friend, one of my previous selves-the Little One, and Peri encountered another species with a prototype time travel capsule. It jogged my memory. After that adventure, I took an interest in Tardis history while Peri recovered from our adventure while lying on a beach.” The Doctor stood up and with Donna’s permission grabbed the knife.

“Now, the Time Lords invented a thing called the ‘Rassilon Imprimatur’ and it works with Time Lord biodata but listen, before all of that when Tardises were more organic like this little lady here, their pilots bonded with them…more directly. Long story short, she’s unbonded. It’s hindering her growth. It’s a simple fix.” He held up the knife. “I came just to fix it and go back. The others agreed...Well, two of them. A cabal of three is a consensus… May I?”

When no one stopped him, he ran the knife over the top of his hand. The blood welled up a reassuring orangey-red. He stepped forward, dipped his finger in the blood, and touched the coral “Simple TNA, or in your case DNA sample…” The blood glowed golden. The wound on the back of his hand also glowed golden and vanished. “Ah! There! Bonded! I wasn’t sure that would work. That book I read was so old they’d used actual pressed flowers for ink! Right, you next, Rose, then Donna, and Tony is it? Not Anthony? You like Tony?”

The Tardis hummed in agreement with him, her voice amplified, and her song merry.

Tony nodded. “Why me?”

“You’re a Tyler. You’re family. The Tardis is going to live a very long time, young man, and she’s going to need a family to travel with her. She’ll prefer our direct heirs but we can use science to fudge that if we pick up strays, which we inevitably will. Can’t help myself, can I?” he asked Rose.

“Nah, you love making friends.” She held out her hand to him. “Do we have to do this again? Every time someone wants to travel with her?”

“No. Just this once. She’ll fly for anyone after. She can even choose to bond with others later if she likes. It won’t be messy like this when she's older.” He took Rose’s warm hand and made a precise cut. He indicated she should copy him. She did her blood the redder hue of humans. The Tardis accepted her, healing the cut and taking her on.

Rose grinned. “I hear humming…”

“Good, you’re meant to,” he said and reached for Donna. “C’mon, no dawdling. I only have so much time.”

Donna let him cut her. “Sorry I almost shot you.” She placed her hand on the coral and was accepted. “I should have known it was still you when you wanted cake for lunch.”

The Doctor laughed. Behind him, Rose had taken the knife and gently nicked Tony’s hand. She placed it on the coral and the last of them was accepted. He felt restless as if he were trying to free himself from a dream. “Whose got a mirror?”

Donna handed him a compact. He glanced into it. The Cricket One and the Little One in the Panama Hat stared out at him. “It worked.”

“Oh, well done, Doctor!” the Cricket One praised.

“Now get back to the flat,” the Little One in the Panama Hat ordered. “You haven’t much time. He’s going to want to wake up.”

 

He’s talking to himself in my mirror,” Donna whispered into Rose’s ear.

Rose grinned. “Yeah, he does that. There’s a lot of people in there.” She pointed to his head.

The lights in the lab blinked on and off. And alarm blared out. Rose’s mobile went off. “Agent Rose Tyler. Go.”

An agent responded, “Commander Tyler, you better get down here. We’ve got a situation.”

Chapter Text

“How can I help?” The call of adventure was too much for him. He couldn’t go back to being ephemeral and leave them to it. The Doctor wanted to help. It was his nature to help or according to Gallifrey: meddle. How could he resist government-sanctioned meddling?

Rose stuffed her mobile into an inner pocket, her eyes meeting his. She smiled. That had to be a good sign she was going to let him help her. Oh! A new adventure after so long! The Doctor wanted to crow. He only wished he had a proper jacket.

“Carl says there’s a situation down in containment. They brought in something very large, very furry with claws half a meter long. The translators have got nothing on you. What do you say? Want to stick around for a few more minutes?”

“What? Really? What about the Doctor, the proper one?” Donna demanded.

“I am A Proper Doctor, Donna Noble!” The Doctor gave Donna a winning smile. He lifted the compact to see his other selves looking on with naked jealousy. Well, they could just stew in it. He wasn’t wasting his chance to have a new adventure even if it was just a simple translation job. The Little One sighed, “he’s going to wake up in ten minutes. You need to get him home. This is no time to let Rose stroke your ego!”

The Doctor snapped the compact shut and started for the door. “What are we waiting for then? What’s it that your current incarnation of me says?”

“Alons-y?”

“Right, yes, let’s go. Donna, grab my medical bag.” The Doctor felt the uncomfortable stirrings of the current personality deep within the body. The Little one in the Panama Hat was right about one thing: Sooner, rather than later, the current personality was going to realize he was disconnected. There was, however, a simple fix in his medical bag.

Donna grabbed the bag. “Why?”

“I’m going to need a sedative.”

Rose stopped him with a warm palm to his chest. “Will that hurt him?”

Vigorously shaking his head, the Doctor scoffed. “Of course not! It’ll just prevent him from waking up at an inconvenient moment. It would be, I think, best for all parties involved if the current Doctor woke up in his bed after several more hours of rest. Believe me, he needs it.” And I need this, he added silently. Rose was connected to him, she was bonded to them, surely she could feel his need to be useful.

 

Rose could feel the Doctor’s desperation to not sink back down into the memories where he lived. She could also feel the sleepy presence of the current Doctor as if he were lying down snoring in a room nearby. Being bonded to a Meta Crisis Time Lord hybrid was complicated on a good day. Today… “I’m not sure I believe you and if you’re lying...”

“I’m not! Cross my hearts, erm, heart.” The Doctor crossed where both hearts used to be before correcting. “Now c’mon! We’re wasting time.” His brown eyes pleaded. Rose stared into them, sure she was seeing a hint of twinkling blue in their depths.

"We need to drop Tony off, is Wilf working?"

"Aw, Rose," Tony moaned.

Rose affected a Jackie Tyler stare. "Anthony Tyler you want pizza for dinner? Then what don't we do?"

"Talkback," Tony grumbled mutinously.

The Doctor scoffed. "Try telling any companion that…"

Rose put her finger on her lips. The Doctor huffed. Tony copied her. Donna did after a minute and glared at the Doctor until he copied them, muttering, "I feel ridiculous."

Rose led them down to the cantina. Wilf was serving up salads. Tony spotted him and shouted, "Gramps!"

"Oh, no Tony! He's not your…"

Wilf shook the tiny Tyler's hand. "No harm in it. Though I'm old enough to be his great-grandpa."

Tony looked up at Donna’s grandfather with adoration. Wilf was in his work whites with an only slightly greasy apron wrapped around his middle. His bright blue eyes were a bit watery as his much larger handheld onto Tony’s little one. The Doctor’s hearts...heart swelled. He remembered having a granddaughter, he remembered Susan’s tiny hand in his. “No harm at all. And a lot of good for the pair of you, I’d wager.”

"Think he learned it from me," Donna offered, giving the group a sheepish shrug.

Wilf beamed at everyone, his eyes lingering on the Doctor. He had a feeling the wily old goat had sussed the situation in a heartbeat. His suspicion was confirmed when the older gentleman asked, "What's up? You've got that look about you. Is there trouble?”

“Not anything life-threatening,” Rose said.”

“You think,” Donna added.

Rose smirked. “Yeah, just a little UNIT business in the lower levels. Tony doesn’t have the security clearances. Can you fill him full of the good chips and keep him from destroying everything he touches for an hour? Maybe less?”

“Sure. Come on my lad, we’re going to eat chips and bake cookies. Whaddaya think of that?”

Tony nodded with vigor. The Doctor snorted. Humans were so easy to distract! Especially the smaller ones. Anthony Tyler was a delight! He glanced fondly at Rose. Rose rolled her eyes and reached for him. He crooked his arm, and she slipped her warm human arm through his, resting her hand on him comfortably. It felt so much better than it had in his mind. There were no lovely pink thoughts, just hints of them from the bond but the tradeoff was the weight, warmth, and solidity of a corporeal moment.

Rose steered them to the elevator subtly, allowing him the appearance of leading. She was pandering to his ego. It was charming and unnecessary. His ego was impossible to quash...Well, it was rather pleasant either way. Once inside the elevator, Rose briefed them. “Donna will go in last.”

“Rose..” Donna protested, puffing up with indignation, “I can handle…”

“You’ve had enough excitement for one day.” She pinned her friend with a meaningful stare. “And we can have you take some firearm safety to avoid future mishaps.”

Donna wilted, capitulating. “Yeah, okay. You have a point.”

“Me first, the Doctor second. Doctor, try and identify and communicate as fast as possible. The other UNIT soldiers are not as trigger happy as Torchwood back home but they're not as used to negotiating as the UNIT you’re used to dealing with back home either.” Rose opened a panel in the elevator wall and removed a stun gun. She expertly checked it and switched it to the lowest setting. The Doctor didn’t bother informing her that he had briefed himself through the other Doctor’s memories. No need to be rude at this moment when his mate was being a leader.

Instead, he turned to Donna. “Open the medical bag. There should be a pouch marked with medications safe for the Doctor.”

Donna did. She rummaged around. “There’s nothing in here that says that but this one has those circles you’re leaving all over with the dots?”

The Doctor raised his eyes heavenward. “Yes, that’s it. Hand me the syringe labeled ‘mild sedative.”

“Clockworks and squiggles,” Donna cursed. “Is it this blue one?”

“Clockwork and squiggles? CLOCKWORKS AND SQUIGGLES!?” he boomed, indignant.

Rose snorted. Donna ignored him. He huffed.

Donna held the blue one up. He shook his head no. She held up a pink one. “Why wouldn’t he write it in English? He knows me or Rose are the only ones who could dose him…” He shook his head no at the pink one because it was labeled, “For gastrointestinal distress.”

The Doctor felt like his insides were wriggling. He popped open the compact. His other selves were pointing at the bed where the current Doctor lay restlessly moving. He snapped the compact shut and reached forward to snatch a purple vial that was clearly labeled, “Mild Sedative.” He injected it into his neck just as the doors opened.

He got a glimpse of a large purple furred arm before all three of them were swept out of the elevator and knocked into the nearest wall.

Chapter Text

Rose bit back a yell as the 3 meters tall violently purple, fuzzy sasquatch knocked the Doctor into the far wall. Instead, she relied on her training and pulled her stunner, drew a bead on the bigfoot, and double-tapped. A howl of confusion escaped the alien and it turned to face Rose as the Doctor slid down the wall into a boneless heap.

Donna screamed at the beast, “What the hell do you think you’re doing!”

The monster growled in Donna’s direction, hands the size of dinner plates tipped in razor-sharp claws. Rose motioned the alien away from Donna by waving her gun. The alien met Rose’s gaze, her eyes a warm golden hue. Rose saw the intelligence in there swirling with rage. The alien saw something in her too, stilling. Rose didn’t dare look away.

The Doctor groaned. “He’s not going to thank me for this knot,” he grumbled as long fingers probed his thick chestnut hair.

“Focus,” Rose prompted, keeping eye contact with the alien, “Big hairy purple alien?”

“Yes, right, sorry, mild concussion.” The Doctor struggled to stand twice before sliding back down. He called out in a guttural tone.

The purple fuzzy thing paused, blinked, and screamed at Rose. Hot smokey breath washed over Rose. The rage was overwhelming the intelligence as the alien took a menacing step forward, waving her long arm around in obvious agitation.

Rose waved her gun at it. “Just you calm down or I’ll just zap you again yeah?” The alien grumbled a complaint. “Right. Annoying isn’t it? When someone just starts attacking you?”

Donna had slipped past her on the left. Two UNIT agents were in the corner of the room. They weren’t moving. The smashed translator between them letting her know that negotiations hadn’t gone as well as expected. Donna let out a relieved breath. “They’re alive.”

The Doctor called out in another guttural language before switching to English. “I can’t understand it! I’m sure she’s a Lupensaskartoon. The purple fur is unmistakable. But she’s ignoring me!” Insulted, he sniffed before managing to wobble to his feet. Leaning heavily against the wall, the Doctor called out again in what Rose was guessing was yet another dialect. This time the alien’s wolf-like ears swiveled to him and back. Her gaze was pure rage, her golden eyes shifting to a darker orange. She pulled her lavender lips back showing rows of sharp teeth.

“You can understand him,” Rose realized. “Why are you ignoring him then? We can help you if you’ll just talk to us.”

The alien showed more teeth, head lowering as her hands flexed showing Rose how deadly her claws could be. There was something they were missing. “Doctor, what do you remember about the Lupensaskroom?”

“Lupensaskartoon,” the Doctor corrected absently. He said something else to the alien and it showed him her mouth full of sharp teeth and sneezed sharply. “Ah, a middling world, the next galaxy over. Lots of forests, Lakes instead of oceans. Lovely pies…”

“Pies! We’re not going to ask it to bake for us, now are we?” Donna shouted from where she was guarding the unconscious agents with her body. “Try remembering something useful!”

Rose kept her stunner on the Lupensaskartoon woman. Her orange eyes were practically glowing. Each time she met the woman’s gaze, Rose felt a strange kinship. They watched each other. Her fur was standing on end. She was basically an angry overgrown dog or wolf. Wolf to Wolf, Rose thought.

The Doctor was puffing out a breath. “Oh, ah, they also are one of the first canines descended races to enjoy space travel and they’re excellent at chess. I’m sorry!” he shouted when Donna glared at him. “I was only there once and Romana did all the talking!”

Rose glanced at the agents; both men. Her eyes flicked to the Doctor and to the monster. “Who’s Romana? Is Romana a woman?”

“This is no time to get jealous, Rose Tyler,” the Doctor said sidling around the beast to get to her side. She arched a brow. “Time Lady, she was a Time Lady… one of my people and the Lord President for several centuries. But she traveled with me for a time…”

“Right, I’m guessing the reason Romana didn’t let you do the talking is that shaggy here doesn’t like men.” Rose grinned.

“Oh! You may be right! I just thought Romana was in the mood to be in charge. She was well, she was a Time Lady… You’ll have to negotiate with her then,” he pasted a neutral, non-threatening expression on his face. The expression was so foreign to the current incarnation that it jarred her a little bit. She frowned and he winked at her.

“Doctor, how am I supposed to talk to her? The translator is smashed and you’re the only one who can speak her language.”

When the alien advanced on the Doctor, Rose clucked at her and waved the stunner. The Lupensaskartoon growled again and the Doctor slipped past her and behind Rose. Donna was practically growling at the alien as one of the agents started mumbling. The Lupensaskartoon didn’t like that at all and a guttural sentence escaped her.

“Ah, I see the situation now.” The Doctor grimaced. “It must be a great insult to her that they sent males to talk with her. Rather backward of her, but not everyone can be so evolved as I am. Rose, repeat after me,” the Doctor spouted a bunch of incomprehensible noises.

Rose loved him, she really did. And she was fine with his multiple personalities and she was especially fond of this version but she was going to strangle him. “You’re joking?”

The room was big enough for the monster to pace around muttering to herself. She raised a clawed hand, dropping it when Rose clicked at her again. The Doctor had moved behind her, one of his hands on her side to steady himself. The other hand creeping up to her temple. “Open the link and I’ll help you.”

“Can we do that with my Doctor asleep?” Rose asked.

“Oh, we’re all your Doctor,” he murmured, settling his fingers against her skin, the cooler touch grounding her. The feeling of awareness of the Doctor that was always there roared to life. She could feel several of the Doctors inside him paying attention, all except the current one. In her mind’s eyes, she saw the Doctor behind her’s true form, broader, with blond curly hair and mischievous blue eyes. The language she needed dropped into her mind very much like how the Tardis used to do it.

“Stop pacing around and talk to me,” Rose called out to the Lupensaskartoon.

“I will tear your world apart for the insult to my person,” she answered, flexing her claws.

“Yeah well, knocking my agents out and smashing my translator isn’t exactly a great compliment to us,” Rose countered. Instinctively, she felt the need to seem dominant even though she was almost half the monster’s size. “Now, why are you here?”

“My ship was damaged, little wolf.”

The Doctor’s opinion that being called a wolf was a sign of respect was layered into her mind. He said nothing, leaving it to her. He gently let go, stepping back while holding the link open. His blonder, broader form faded to an outline around her familiar lanky Doctor. Rose kept her focus on the alien in front of her. The room they were in was large enough for her to pace.

“Rose Tyler and your name is?”

“Flare Fourth Claw,” the Lupensaskartoon said with pride. “I am the captain of my ship. We have several strong women on board who will rescue me.”

Donna was helping the agents up. Flare growled.

“Donna, take the men outside. S’okay,” she said when Donna glared. “She’s stranded. Her ship is damaged. She’s not going to hurt me.”

Donna didn’t say anything but Rose felt her disapproval as she and Agent Grant lifted Agent Hoyt between them and carried him to the door. Flare let them go with a negligent ear flip. Rose focused on her. She was glaring at the Doctor. “Him too,” she hissed.

The idea that the link would snap if he got further away settled into her guts. “No. He’s my bond-mate. He isn’t allowed to go too far from me.”

Flare snorted in approval. “I have four mates on board. I do not like to be separated from them. Will you help me repair my ship?”

 

Donna got the two men down to the infirmary. Grant was fine. Hoyt had a concussion. Donna was chomping at the bit to get back to her friends. Dr. Harper was on duty. He gave her a once over. “You look fine. Off you go. I don’t waste my time on healthy women.”

“No, you wouldn’t bother unless you can cut them out of the herd,” she grumbled.

He smirked. “Come see me when you’re vulnerable.”

“How about I break a finger?” Donna threatened. She could and would do it right now.

“Go back to your weird threesome. They’ll get tired of playing with you eventually. When they do, come see me.” Harper turned his back on Donna.

Donna showed her teeth. She was going to do worse than break his fingers. She was going to report him to HR.

 

The Doctor slumped down into a chair. Rose Tyler was a brilliant negotiator. All he had to do was maintain the link. If they weren’t bonded, he would have to keep a hand on her. Even still, he was at the end of his tether. One more foot in either direction and the tenuous connection between them would snap shut like a screen door in a rough wind. Exhaustion was creeping into the edges. He opened the compact to see the others. They lent their mental power to him to bolster. The one in the leather jacket glared at him until he snapped the mirror shut.

Rose had sat down on the floor with Flare and produced a notebook. They were working out the details. The two wolves had made fast friends. After the initial shows of dominance, it was clear to Flare that Rose was her equal. Not that he was surprised, she was a remarkable young woman. He could not have chosen a better mate. Reaching into his pocket he felt the small velvet box the current Doctor had picked up in a market on Caliban. Rose had been fascinated by the silk scarves, never noticing when he slipped off to the metalsmith shop. It had been a retro thing to find on a moon in the 51st Century but the Caeliferaian Jeweler had been happy enough to make it in trade for a bag of gold dust. The Doctor had enjoyed encountering that memory. It was gratifying to think he was still a sentimental old fool centuries later.

The meeting broke up. The wolves hugged. Rose called her father and arranged for only female agents/scientists to go out to the ship. The Doctor waited to see if he was needed but he’d drawn up plans to fix her ship from Flare’s description a half an hour ago and he’d just as soon hand them off. His head was pounding from exertion, and the concussion. He’d banged up the current Doctor’s body. The others were going to give him a hard time about it. Maybe it was time to go back to the past?

Donna appeared in the hallway and Flare huffed out. “That one is a hellcat. I could sense her aggression earlier. She is your second in command?”

“Yeah, I’d be lost without her. You have my contact coordinates? I’d love to see your youngest litter…”

The Doctor stood up and offered his elbow to Rose. She slipped her hand in. The contact soothed his jangled nerves. The two chatted until the large monster woman was loaded into a UNIT car with Kate Stewart. Hopefully, they had an un-smashed translator because the Doctor was knackered.

“Let’s go home,” he whispered.

“No more adventures?” Rose teased.

“No, no more adventures…” he remarked mournfully.

“Ever?”

“Well, never say never.”

She grinned.

Chapter Text

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?”

Tony groaned.

“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.”

“I’m not…”

“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.

end.