He walked away from the wreckage of the restaurant. He needed to get away from it as quickly as possible. He didn't want to be here. He didn't want to answer questions. He patted his pockets, but he seemed to have misplaced the key. Never mind — it'd be at the Paternoster House, along with his old clothes.
It didn't take him long to find the way, and he walked inside to find where they had been placed. The last two days were a bit of a muddle in his head, but after some more catnaps, he'd be right as rain — whatever that meant.
He went up to the bedroom to seek them out, and to his surprise, he found them, neatly folded, on the bed. He couldn't help but smile slightly. Sontaran warrior or not, he did a good load of laundry. He patted down the pockets until he felt something solid in one of the trousers, and he pulled out the key. He took it and the clothes in his arms and headed back down to the TARDIS waiting in the yard.
He remembered with some embarrassment that he'd only needed to snap his fingers to get in, but reasoned he didn't want to leave these clothes behind. He kicked the door shut behind him and walked into the aqua blue room, feeling cold it seemed to emit. He would have to make some changes to the place. He wasn't sure why. It just felt wrong as it was.
He bounded up the stairs and made his way up the twisting turning tunnels of his ship until he found the room he was looking for — the wardrobe room. He made his way through all the piles of clothes and hangers, smiling slightly when he found the back, and before him stood several stands with eleven other outfits on them — an Edwardian suit, a frock coat and checked trousers, a smoking jacket with frilled shirt, a frock coat with a ridiculously long scarf, a beige coat with a cricketing getup, a long multi-colored coat, a grey jacket with a pullover and straw hat, a Victorian gentleman's outfit, a battered leather jacket with a frazzled scarf and bandolier, a black leather jacket with a pullover, and a brown pinstriped suit with trainers.
The one next to that one was blank. Sighing to himself, he proceeded to put the purple outfit on the stand. Funny how nine hundred years of living in one place and watching those around him die had changed things, even before the regeneration. It had been a very harsh reminder that he was not human, no matter much he liked to pretend he was. Maybe that was why he'd come back older-looking. He'd died of old age in the last body, so it could be argued that this body was younger than the last one, but still…
He glanced at a nearby full length mirror. Where did this face come from? Where had he seen it before?
With a heavy sigh, he decided it was a mystery for another day. The face was his now, and he'd have to live with it. He remembered Romana wearing the face of Princess Astra for her second life. She'd been very cavalier about it, but things had been strange back then, and he'd been particularly scatterbrained in that life, so he'd never really dwelled on it.
He took a moment to straighten the bow tie on the stand as those thoughts took him to Gallifrey. He'd find it again. They'd given him a new regeneration cycle so that he would have a better chance at finding them. He'd get around to it. He wasn't going to manage it any time soon, but he would.
He took another look at his reflection. He took in the suit he had donned in his undercover work — yes, that's what he was calling it — and he frowned. It looked wrong on him. The collar was choking him a bit. Maybe he wasn't suited to ties this time. He proceeded to undo it and toss it aside, followed by the rest of the clothes, and soon, he was digging around until he found something that appealed to him.
He found himself standing before the mirror again, this time in a long dark blue coat with red lining, a blue waistcoat, and a black pair of shoes. Nodding in satisfaction, he turned and headed back to the control room so he could meet up with Clara and the others.
The Doctor walked inside, once again feeling the cold of the room he had designed in a fit of depression and bitterness. Shaking his head, he headed for the doors, intending to go back into the yard. Imagine his surprise when, while his back was to the console, the main lever suddenly moved itself, and the ancient grinding engines roared into life. He spun around to look up from beneath his independently cross eyebrows to take in the sight of the time rotor going up and down.
There was a jolt that nearly knocked him down. He managed to grab the railing — making a note to keep those after redecorating — and made his way to the console. He grabbed the monitor as he shouted, "What is the meaning of this? What are you doing?"
His eyes widened as he took in the readouts. "That's a time fissure!" he exclaimed. "A tear in the fabric of reality — anything could happen!"
Then he remembered what he'd been forgetting over and over again since he was six. It was time for the final section of calculations to be taken to Gallifrey. He ran as fast as he could to the underside of the console and pulled open one of the storage containers. There, nestled under his old brown tweed jacket, was a stasis cube. He ran back up the steps to the console and hooked it up.
He remembered everything, and now there would be no more forgetting. The Moment — disguised as Rose Tyler — was taking him to meet up with his previous selves to save Gallifrey. He looked at the monitor and saw his home planet right in front of him, being attacked by Dalek warships and surrounded by twelve blue boxes.
He flicked a communications speaker on the console and listened in.
"I didn't know when I was well off! All twelve of them!"
"No, sir! All thirteen!"
Taking that as his cue, the Doctor flipped another switch, allowing him to see into the TARDISes of all his other selves, who all looked very surprised to see him.
"Hello, Doctors! Surprise!" he announced.
The Eleventh Doctor could only gape in shock before regaining control of his mouth. "But… that's not possible…"
"Why not?" the War Doctor asked. "You're the twelfth incarnation. You should have at least one more regeneration in you."
"I don't. Sandshoes over there regenerated into the same face once. I'm technically thirteenth."
Suddenly, all eyes were on the Tenth Doctor, who looked very embarrassed. "I, er… Well, that is to say…"
"How do you even do something like that?" the Seventh Doctor asked incredulously.
"And people call me egocentric!" the Sixth Doctor exclaimed.
"Oh, leave him alone," the Doctor interrupted. "Yes, it was stupid of him, but it's in the past now. In fact, we're all in the past now, and some of us are in the future, but never mind."
"You're not possible," the Eleventh Doctor said simply.
The Doctor grinned, loving the confusion on his predecessor's face. "No, I'm not, except I am. Twelfth Doctor, thirteenth face, fourteenth incarnation — that's me!"
"But why are you here?" the War Doctor asked.
"I have the final section of calculations. I need to be here. You can't finish them without a little more legroom."
"I could finish them!" the Eleventh Doctor protested.
"But you'd have to rush through them and get something wrong. With me here, you can work more leisurely. Why settle for ninety-nine percent when you know you're capable of one hundred?" the Doctor explained, remembering the nights he'd spent on Trenzelore, sneaking into the TARDIS from the clock tower to work on these calculations — for at least six hundred years. "Besides, I can't exist if this doesn't work."
He knew just what to say. "Spoilers!"
This earned him a smile. "Right then! Back to work, Doctors!"
And in an instant, all thirteen Doctors were working away, frantically trying to keep up with each other.
In the War Room, having watched all this in stupefied silence, one of the Time Lord Generals noticed something distressing on the radar screen. "Sir — the Daleks know that something is happening! They're increasing their firepower!"
As if to illustrate his point, the entire War Room was shaken, tossing all the occupants around like peas in a frying pan. They staggered around as dust poured down from the ceiling.
The General swallowed. Anything was better than this hell.
"Do it, Doctor," he said at last, looking up at them imploringly. "Just do it… Do it!"
"Okay…," the Eleventh Doctor said quietly, pressing a button that allowed him to see all his other faces, and they were all looking at him. "Gentlemen — we're ready."
"Care to lead us in, Doctor?" the Doctor asked, smiling.
The Eleventh Doctor looked at him for a long moment, as if absorbing every little detail. The Twelfth Doctor could remember it from his point of view now, and he remembered the initial nausea of seeing how old he would get and the still-not-ginger-ness of his grey hair. But he also remembered the gratitude he'd felt at the time that this stranger had arrived to help, and now he was on the receiving end of it.
Then the Eleventh's hand swung against the necessary lever, hanging onto the console as he felt his TARDIS plunge towards Gallifrey.
"GERONIMO-O-O-O-O-O-O-O!" he roared to the heavens as his face vanished from the screen.
Inspired, the Tenth Doctor leapt forwards and flung his own lever. "Allons-y!" he cheered, jolting as his own TARDIS followed in suit.
The Ninth Doctor grinned and flung another lever. "Fantastic!"
The War Doctor rolled his eyes disparagingly. "Oh, for god's sake!" he grumbled before gripping the lever before him. "Gallifrey Stands!"
The Doctor hung on as his TARDIS jolted into place around the planet, lining up with all the others, and they activated their respective stasis cubes. Between them all, several white lines began to surround Gallifrey, freezing the entire thing, save for any Daleks that were on the surface. Everything Gallifreyan in origin was taken away in a bright white flash, sent to who knows where.
The Daleks continued firing, still intensifying, and in only a matter of seconds, they had destroyed themselves utterly and completely. There was a muffled noise, and after a moment, it all died away.
The Doctor slumped against the railing again — he loved railings — and realized he had done it. He looked at the monitor with great joy as he saw Gallifrey had been successfully transported into the parallel pocket universe. He smiled with joy as he returned to the controls. The time loop between his continued existence and the salvation of his home planet was stabilized.
But then, the controls started working again, and he clutched the side of the console as the whole thing tilted. "I remember how to fly you now!" he called out. "You could learn to trust me! No more dinosaurs! I promise!"
The response was a solid landing that caused him to fall to the floor. He must remember to get some plush carpeting, or at least a throw rug.
Staggering to his feet, he checked the readouts again, and he was surprised by his location. It appeared the Moment had deposited him at the National Gallery. He thought back, trying to remember the exact events that had taken place. He recalled being his previous self, and the one in the suit and the warrior one were there as well. He remembered drinking tea, talking about the painting, saying goodbye to them, and then sitting down to look at the painting, and then standing up to look at the painting.
He smiled. Question — where did the tea come from? Answer — him.
He popped his head out the doors to see where he had landed, and with a chuckle, he realized he had landed in front of the break room, where there was a kettle and some tea bags, plus some cups and saucers he recognized. He set to work boiling the water.
"Nice cup of tea to settle me down," he said quietly.
"Just the thing after regeneration," another deeper voice said.
Recognizing it, he suddenly remembered why he'd been standing up in front of the painting. He turned around and saw that man wearing the tweed jacket, plaid shirt and walking with a cane, smiling enigmatically.
"Hello, again," the Doctor whispered.
The Curator shook his head. "Hasn't happened to me yet. Strange business, time."
The Doctor leaned against the counter. "I don't suppose the Chameleon Circuit is working now? Just, I couldn't help but notice the white walls with round things on them last time I was here."
The Curator merely patted the side of the TARDIS fondly. "Still looking for Gallifrey, are you?"
"I just got back from helping to save it. Been through Trenzalore, dealt with the crack and got a new regeneration cycle… But the crack resealed itself. And even if it hadn't, there are still Daleks and Cybermen and various other unpleasant creatures out there ready to restart the Time War."
The Curator nodded sagely. "Well, perhaps one day, you will get back…"
"Yes… One day…"
The kettle was whistling now, so the Doctor went to tend to it. He was just pouring it into the cups when he turned around to say something else, but he suddenly couldn't remember what, and whoever he'd been about to say it to was gone. Had there been anyone there? He couldn't remember now.
The timelines were out of synch…
Then, he heard the sound of the TARDIS, and it sounded like there was more than one, so he shook it off as he prepared the tea. He got a sugar bowl and some milk, put everything on a tray, and made his way in the direction of the voices.
"Did we do it? Did it work?" a very familiar female voice was asking.
"Not sure," said a voice that belonged to him a couple days ago. "Might have done. The TARDIS readouts were a bit fuzzy."
"So how do we find out if it worked?" asked a voice that should've been Scottish but wasn't for some reason.
The Doctor rounded the corner with his tray. "Not to worry! Whole thing worked a treat! Well done, everyone!"
They all whirled around in surprise. The War Doctor along with Clara and his tenth and eleventh selves were standing before three police boxes of various shades of blue. He set the tray down on the bench between them.
"Now then, I made tea. You can mix it yourselves. Milk and sugar — can't remember how any of you take it."
"Who are you?" Clara asked.
The Doctor spoke without thinking — not that he cared to. "Oh, come now, Clara — I only saw you an hour ago!"
"Okay, so it hasn't happened for you yet, but still, it's no excuse."
The Eleventh Doctor slowly walked up to him. They were roughly the same height, so he was able to look him in the eye with no difficulty. He studied him all over.
The Doctor merely rose an independently cross eyebrow.
"I am all of you," the Doctor said factually.
His other self's eyes flitted to his collar with a twinge of sadness. "No bow tie?"
"From bow tie to no tie," he replied. "But they will always be cool."
"… We got old."
"We are old."
The War Doctor cleared his throat. "Well, I think it's an improvement," he said breezily. "Nice to see we finally grow up."
The Doctor smiled appreciatively. "Thank you, Doctor," he said, shooting some annoyance with his eyes at the one in purple.
The Tenth Doctor looked at him closely. "You sound Scottish…"
"It's true. I've gone Scottish. I blame the Ponds."
That proclamation made the Eleventh Doctor laugh. "Of all the things to get from Amy, and it wasn't her gingerness."
Clara approached him. "You're the Doctor? I mean, you're actually the Doctor in the future?"
"Oh, yes, Clara," the Doctor said with as much warmth as he seemed to be capable of.
"And… we're still travelling together?"
"So far. Although, I have to say, this face is fairly fresh."
"Doesn't look fresh," the Tenth Doctor mumbled.
The Doctor ignored him. "We haven't had a chance to actually talk about it yet. I don't know if your future self is all that keen on me really."
Clara looked surprised at that. "Well, I admit I don't really know you that well, but you seem nice enough…"
"You're only thinking about the idea of him changing," the War Doctor said. "Imagine actually living through it."
"Everyone reacts differently," the Tenth Doctor said, remembering his own experience.
Clara looked the Doctor up and down. "You don't look so bad. A bit saggy, maybe…"
"Looks familiar," the Eleventh Doctor noted. "Where've I seen that face before?"
"Why's it covered in lines?" the Doctor pointed out. "I've barely had this face forty-eight hours and already it's covered in frown lines…"
"So were some of our earlier faces," the War Doctor reminded him. "We just saw all of them."
"I still don't know where the faces come from," the Doctor murmured, still lost in thought. "They just pop up. Zap. Pow. Face."
The Tenth Doctor couldn't help but smile. "It's nice to know there are still some mysteries in the future."
"I should hope so," the Doctor replied. "Life would be meaningless with nothing to figure out."
"It'll never be simple, eh, Doctor?" Clara said with a smirk.
The Doctor gave a small smile before he remembered. "Oh, that reminds me. I must get back. The other Clara will be waiting for me."
"You're not staying for tea, then?" the War Doctor asked.
"Oh, no, I've grown bored with the idea already. Drink up."
He started to leave, but the Eleventh Doctor hooked his arm and whispered in his ear. "How long?" he asked uncertainly.
The Doctor looked at him with surprise. "Young man," he said, gripping his predecessor's shoulders, "you've barely just started. If you think I look old… you have no idea how gray you're going to become."
He took a bit of satisfaction in how disturbed his former self looked. He patted him on the shoulder once more.
"Be ya," the Eleventh Doctor replied.
Laughing at that, he waved goodbye to everyone and made for his TARDIS down the corridor. They'd forget he'd been there due to the timelines being out of synch, and there'd be some confusion about where the tea came from, but they'd move on to discussing the painting and part ways. All was right with history.
He stepped inside and looked around. He'd need to make some changes, he decided. He fiddled with the controls until his ship was back inside the vortex, travelling back to Victorian London.
The first thing he did was play with the dials and, and the lighting in the room changed to a dark orange color, brightening up the place nicely. As he continued to arrange some changes — bookcases, new furniture, maybe a fireplace — he thought to himself as he observed his reflection in the glass column.
Who knew what sort of man he'd be in this life, but for now — he was the Doctor, and it was time to start correcting some mistakes. He'd learned he wasn't human, no matter much he pretended he was, and it was time to start being more effective in battling the evils of the universe.
As he completed his redecorating, he set the coordinates for Victorian London and set it so the TARDIS would land herself, and he headed for a nice big comfortable-looking chair that loomed on one of the balconies. He took one last look around as he settled into his seat.
Where did he put those round things…?
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