|Fourth Doctor, Tenth Doctor|
Our Better Selves by spastasmagoria [Reviews - 19] |
Disclaimer: Standard disclaimers apply.
Archive: Feel free, just drop me a line so I know (my ego is like that)
Beta: Unbeta'd cos I'm impatient. Sowwy to beta rosesbud :)
A/N: No idea where this came from. I mean, other than from having seen the CIN special. Like a hundred times.
Summary: The Doctor runs into another of his past selves.
The Doctor snatched up the bag from his bench partner and dug through to the purple ones. They mostly didnít look like little pre-born people. For some reason, this time around, that aspect of geletany-goodness freaked him right the hell out.
The Doctor sat hunched on the bench, elbows on knees, and his chin resting on his folded hands. He’d gotten the idea from Jack–who was to blame for all things. He wasn’t sure why, really. It just absolved him from all the moral complications of being right here, right now, on a bench during a cold fall day, watching tiny people zip back and forth on a playground entirely unsafe for them.
Someone sat beside him, and for a moment, he thought he’d gotten the date wrong. Well, this’d be awkward, if Jack recognised him.
A white bag was thrust into his field of vision, almost knocking the glasses off of his face. “Jelly baby?”
Sitting up straight, the Doctor glanced at himself. “No thank you.”
“Pity,” his former self declared with a grin, hair coming out from under his hat like some mad octopus. “I’d hate to think I’d stop taking time to enjoy the finer things in life. Like sugar and gelatin. Or carbohydrates. So come on, then. Why’re we here?”
The Doctor went back to watching the girl tease her friend, running around with his coat and refusing to give it back. These things always stared with something innocent like an article of clothing. She’d have more from the boy and not give it back before all was said and done. “I don’t know why you’re here. I don’t remember being here. There. Whatever. I’m here just…watching.”
The Doctor’s fourth self stared at the running children for a moment. “Friends of ours?”
“They will be some day.”
Leaning back against the bench, his former self kicked out boot-clad legs and crossed them. “Funny. I never struck me as the sentimental type.”
With a sigh, the Doctor snatched up the bag from his bench partner and dug through to the purple ones. They mostly didn’t look like little pre-born people. For some reason, this time around, that aspect of geletany-goodness freaked him right the hell out. How could he never have noticed in his youth? “Things change as you get older.”
A deep laugh erupted from the man, a quaking sound the Doctor remembered once coming from his own chest. “I didn’t expect myself to get sentimental. Of course, I didn’t expect myself to get younger, either.”
The Doctor stole a sidelong glance and almost said something predictably rude. But somehow didn’t. That’s how these arguments with himself always started. He needed to be the bigger party, him being older and more mature, and all of that. “You know, usually when we get together, all we can do is bicker.” He was sure it meant something-he just didn’t know what. “This is OK, though. Just talking.”
His fourth self shrugged. “You forget…I know how it is when someone…goes. Someone important.”
“Romana,” the Doctor breathed, giving a sad little smile. “You know they won’t always be there. But you can’t imagine them not. Then they’re gone and…”
“But you’re sentimental about this one.”
Having run out of purple Jelly Babies, he moved on to the yellow ones. They were too bright to really see the faces on. He still bit the head off first so it couldn’t look at him. Just incase. “Yeah? Well, you’re going to be sentimental about this one some day. And probably the reason why you’re not sentimental about Romana is because you’re… you’re… really short sighted.” Chewing thoughtfully, he pushed up his own spectacles, not unaware of the irony of the statement he’d just made.
“Why would I get sentimental over Romana? She chose to leave.” He wiped a hand over his face. “Rassilon’s Ghost. Don’t tell me one day I’m going to understand Adric. The lad’s all hormones and numbers. And girls. Just the other morning, Tegan found him--” He stopped when he saw the reaction his older self was giving. “What?”
“Nothing. Tegan found him going through her laundry…sniffing things. She didn’t want to say anything to him, because he’s an alien, what did she know? So she asked you to talk to him, and you said you would, but you didn’t. Trust me, I know this story all too well.”
His previous self adjusted the scarf around his neck. “Well, I fully intend to. When I have a free moment.”
The Doctor held up both hands defensively. “It’s not like that, all I’m saying is…”
The previous Doctor shook his head. “It’s fine. If you’re going to expire, it is good to have a little warning. It allows one time to prepare the way, as it were.”
For some reason, this made the Doctor smile. “You’ll like the next you. I did. And don’t worry too much–Romana comes back around again.” He'd never get to explain appropriate behavior toward females to Adric, though. Not just because of impending regeneration. Things would be positively madcap, plus there was the part where he'd procrastinate on anything even remotely difficult, and then...poof. in a blinding haze, Adric would be gone. The ship would be all silence and mourning. But he couldn't tell himself that. No. Best to focus on how Romana would be back again. Something happy, and ultimately, inconsequential. Because he never figured out how Romana had felt because he'd been so young and caught up in the adventure of it all.
He'd turned a blind eye to how Rose had looked at him. They'd also been swept up in the emotion and exhileration of being 'out there,' and it had doomed them in the end. They'd really thought they could handle anything.
No. No sad tales involving Cybermen or Daleks and those lovely people, all three of them being taken from him forever as a consequence. Romana was coming back from another dimension! Practice the smile of a man who'd had a friend returned from pocket space. Somehow he'd remember how those sorts of smiles went.
The other man on the bench nodded. “Good to know. Other dimensions can be tricky things.”
The Doctor’s eyes grew glassy as he watched Rose tying the black jacket to the furthest reaches of the monkey bars, away from her victim. “Tell me about it,” he muttered.
“Mmm…” his other self seemed to be mulling it over, but had no words of wisdom for the situation. From some remote corner of the Powell Estate, Jackie Tyler screeched for her daughter to stop doing dangerous things, which caused his previous incarnation to wince. Jackie’s high-pitched noises that were supposed to be speech could pierce the delicate hearing apparatuses of higher species. “Please tell me that woman isn’t involved.”
The Doctor smiled. “Define involved.”
His older self shifted and it made him satisfied in some perverse way. Those previous models, they always got squeamish at the oddest things.
“Oh, my. It would seem that several centuries from now, I fall quite a ways.”
Eventually, little Rose untied the coat but still didn’t give it back to her friend. “Further than you think. One day you’re going to go so far as to ask someone twice.”
"Or worse yet, burn up a star to say goodbye. We don't say goodbye. We don't look back." The Doctor pointed to the girl, now untangling herself from the equipment and dropping safely to the ground. "Or regret the things we never said. Never did."
The man in the garish scarf gave an audible shudder. “I think I like fighting with my other selves better than all of this… talking nicely ridiculousness. You’re just trying to frighten me, now.”
The Doctor sat up, taking off his glasses and biting on one arm. “You know, we really should find out why you’re here. Before the universe explodes, or implodes. Or is overrun by penguins or something.”
A tad repulsed, the other man got rather quickly to his feet. “No, that’s ok. I think I just made a wrong turn at 1984. Nyssa will be worried about me by now.” He didn’t even take the time to make a proper goodbye; he simply tipped his hat and made for the rather young and rickety-looking blue box on the corner.
As the ship yawed away the Doctor sighed. He was running into himself a lot lately; finding himself everywhere, he was. Maybe the universe was trying to tell him something. Whatever it was, he’d missed the point. All these…hims everywhere. Too bad he couldn’t ever seem to find himself.
Well, that wasn’t entirely true. The other part of him had just gone inside for tea, taking Mickey’s coat with her. It wasn’t the first, nor would it be the last thing she’d ever steal.