How to Name Your Feline Metacrisis by TemporalPhoenix
Chapter 1: Getting Out of Hand
Chapter 2: Rude and Not Ginger
Chapter 3: About Time
Author's Notes: I threw a lot of the canon Journey's End out the window in the process of writing this fic, and I honestly can't say I regret it. Not quite sure how well it turned out, but so many people liked the Doctor as a cat in Temporary Feline Affliction that I decided to write a sequel. Unbetaed, any mistakes/typos are mine. I definitely suggest reading A Temporary Feline Affliction first, so you'll know how Rose reunited with Ten, and why a cat curse from Jyotaris was involved.
Rose quietly padded out of the TARDIS kitchen in search of the Doctor with a cup of tea clutched in each hand. She was still shaking off the last vestiges of sleep, relishing the fact that she finally felt well-rested. Defeating the creator of the Daleks and helping save the universe (again) tended to take a lot out of her.
She frowned slightly as she came to a stop in the middle of the coral hallway, listening for any sign of the TARDIS’ other, mysteriously absent occupants. Other than the warm telepathic presence of the ship in her mind, everything was empty and quiet, far quieter than she’d experienced in some time.
Everyone who had helped defeat Davros had returned home by now. Mickey, Jackie, Tony, and Pete were safe and busy establishing new lives in the same universe as Rose—something she never thought would be possible ever again. Donna wasn’t due to be picked up until later today, having begrudgingly decided to stay home for a couple days to catch up with friends and family. Jack had declined to join Rose, the Doctor, and Donna for now, though the offer remained open.
Rose was relieved beyond measure about all this. Right now, however, she just wanted to find the Doctor before his tea went cold. ‘Where—' She’d barely begun to ask the TARDIS where her errant Time Lord was when the ship sent her a series of sensations over their strengthening bond. Each sensation of touch and sound layered upon each other to form a hazy but ultimately unmistakable impression of the console room.
That was not the answer Rose had expected. She’d checked the console room on her way to the kitchen and found it empty. But the TARDIS was certain about the Doctor’s location, so to the console room Rose went. She wasn’t sure what state the Doctor would be in when she found him, given the whole mess with Davros and the Daleks two Earth days before.
He’d been quieter than normal ever since they had done what they’d had to do to stop Davros’ newest Dalek Empire and the Reality Bomb. When the TARDIS had towed the Earth back to its usual orbit after the Crucible’s destruction, the Doctor had clutched Rose’s hand in his and all but refused to let go, holding her close whenever possible. He’d also partially regenerated after getting shot by a Dalek earlier that day, which had ultimately led to a very unexpected one-way biological metacrisis involving his severed hand, Rose, Bad Wolf, and previously unknown residual effects of a cat curse from Jyotaris.
After everything they had just gone through, Rose had been a little surprised (yet also not surprised at all) to wake up to an empty bed today. These days, the Doctor usually stayed with her while she slept, sometimes sleeping, sometimes not, but almost always there when she woke up. Her Time Lord was still a rather restless one, especially when it came to saving the universe, and dealing (or not) with things that brought the darker parts of his past to light.
Rose sighed as she recalled the events from two days prior, taking a fortifying sip of tea as she neared the console room. From what she could hear, it sounded like the Doctor was arguing with the TARDIS again.
‘Must still be fixing things that were damaged when the Daleks dropped me and the TARDIS into the heart of the Crucible,’ she thought.
She found the Time Lord standing in the middle of the console room a few feet away from the console itself. His back was to her, and he didn’t appear to notice her arrival at first. Even without a clear view of his face, Rose could tell he was irritated. His arms were crossed, his posture rigid, and he was staring at something on the console. Rose couldn’t quite see what it was from where she’d paused at the end of the corridor, but she had a feeling she might already know.
The Doctor had clearly been up long enough to dress in his brown pinstripe suit and trainers, and gather a few tools and spare ship parts from the storage rooms. His jacket was draped over a coral strut beside the ramp, and the sleeves of his light blue Oxford were rolled halfway up his forearms. A variety of TARDIS parts and tools were strewn haphazardly around the grating.
A faint purring sound reached Rose’s ears then.
(Oh yes, she'd been right.)
She took a deep breath and stepped into the console room. “Doctor? What’s wrong?” she asked, keeping her voice soft and gentle as she approached him.
The Doctor whirled around to face her. He was indeed scowling as he thrust an accusatory finger behind him at the object of his ire. “He’s wrong, Rose, ALL wrong! My biological metacrisis is a bloody cat, with one heart and the mental capacity of a Time Lord crammed into one very small, very feline brain! I've done many, many tests to verify that. He's going to be this way for his whole life, too! And, despite my attempts to help him, he is also quite rude. I mean, look at him!” The Doctor's voice rose in volume the longer his tirade went on.
The TARDIS-blue cat with white paws and fiery golden eyes that was currently sprawled across a section of the console raised his head with a meow of protest, giving Rose the most innocent feline expression he could muster.
Rose smiled in response, while the Doctor only narrowed his eyes. "Yes, you are! Now get off the console! Off!” he snapped at the cat, pointing impatiently at the floor.
Rose sighed, shaking her head at the scene that was becoming increasingly familiar. She had hoped the Doctor and his newly-created metacrisis would get along better, but it seemed they were either too similar or two different for that to happen easily. Other than the obvious species difference between the Doctor and his cat self, Rose’s single, human heart had led to the metacrisis form of the Doctor having just one heart as well.
Instead of commenting on all of that, and fueling the Doctor's ongoing tirade against his metacrisis self, she simply handed him his cup of tea. “Here you go,” she said, stifling another yawn.
The Doctor blinked down at it in surprise, accepting it with a somewhat belated response. He mumbled his thanks, wincing at the sight of greasy residue smeared across the backs of his hands as he raised the cup to his lips.
He didn’t speak again until half his tea was gone. Rose let the silence stretch between them, her unease fading now that she knew that he was merely annoyed with the antics of their new feline companion.
She wasn’t entirely surprised when the smell of tea drew the attention of the cat on the console. He narrowed his eyes at their steaming cups, sniffing the air curiously. Rose smiled faintly in recognition. That cat was definitely the Doctor, or part Doctor, anyway. No other feline would hone in on the scent of tea so quickly. (Maybe she should start giving him a saucer of tea in the morning. The original Doctor tended to be a little more amiable after a good cup of tea. Maybe his metacrisis incarnation would be the same.)
“Don’t let his innocent looks fool you,” the Doctor muttered darkly. “Handy caused all sorts of trouble while you were sleeping. That’s why I wasn’t there when you woke up. Sorry about that. I meant to be, but Handy didn’t like being left out in the hallway again, and I didn’t want him to wake you, so I tried to put him in the kitchen but he escaped, and anyway, now he knows to stay away from the pool and gardens unless he’s under direct supervision.”
Rose stifled a laugh at the images the long-winded explanation brought to life in her mind. She rested her head against the Doctor’s shoulder. “Sounds like you two had quite the adventure," she murmured.
He exhaled slowly, and she could feel some of the tension start to leave him. “It was less of an adventure and more me having to pull Handy out of the deep end of the pool after he fell in while trying to evade me. I had to rescue him from a tree in the gardens that he climbed and couldn't get down again, too."
“Regular cat-whisperer, you are," Rose teased.
The Doctor laughed, shifting a little so he could press a kiss to her hair.
After another moment, Rose reluctantly stepped back and took his free hand in her own, tugging gently until he turned to face her. “Doctor," she began, “we are NOT calling your cat self Handy. I thought we agreed on that yesterday.”
The Doctor had clearly chosen to interpret their conversation differently. “Well, yes, we did. But it was a very vague sort of...” He trailed off when he caught sight of Rose’s unimpressed expression.
“Donna made us promise to give him a new name before picking her up again, remember? That should be later today, for her.” She tried another approach.
It was technically true, Donna had insisted they stop calling the metacrisis cat “Handy”, and Rose had sided with her because she didn’t want to call him that either. That nickname would always remind her of the Sycorax, severed hands, and the Doctor being shot by a Dalek. The Doctor's feline metacrisis deserved a better name than that, in her opinion.
The Doctor sniffed. “Yes, well, in light of recent events, I think I’m going to have to rescind my part of that agreement."
The cat hissed at him from the console.
Rose just barely contained a groan of exasperation. “Oh for heaven's sake, can you two please find a way to get along? I mean, he's YOU!” She gestured to the blue feline with her nearly empty cup as she spoke, the remaining tea sloshing around the bottom with the jarring movement.
The Doctor remained as unhappy about the whole thing as he had been from the start. “I know! I get temporarily cursed to be a cat for 25 hours once, and now I have to deal with my biological metacrisis permanently being a cat.”
Rose arched an eyebrow. “Would you rather that he be more like you? Some kind of clone, more or less? Cause I’ll be honest, that would have been a lot more complicated to deal with.”
A strangely unsettled look flashed across the Doctor’s face. “I-” he broke off helplessly, staring down at their joined hands. After a moment, his grip tightened.
Rose didn’t quite know what to do to bring him back from whatever dark corner of his mind he’d stumbled into. All she knew was what something she’d said had sent him spiraling off into a place that couldn’t be good for him to dwell on for long.
She gave his hand a playfully squeeze. “I still think he needs a better name than Handy,” she said lightly, hopefully.
The Doctor jerked his head up, blinking hard a few times as he refocused on her. “Hmm? Like what?”
Still concerned, Rose studied his features for a few seconds. When he simply smiled back at her, she hesitantly continued with her original sentence, leaving her worries unspoken. “I dunno, why don’t you ask him, since you apparently speak cat? I mean, he’s as much the Doctor as you were as a cat on Jyotaris. Does he even need or want a new name?” She nodded to the feline, who was now sitting upright on the console, watching them intently.
The Doctor tilted his head to one side, considering the question. “He's also part you, you know. It's a small part, mind you, but still there. And I don’t so much speak cat as— Oh, never mind. Handy can't be the Doctor. He's a cat. The real question is, what do you name a cat that’s also part you? Oh! What about calling him John?”
Rose quickly shook her head. “No. Who even names their cat John? No. Alright, here's what's going to happen: You two are going to stay here until—"
“What?” The Doctor dropped her hand, staring at her in alarm.
An unhappy meow from the console let Rose know exactly what the resident half-Time Lord feline thought of that idea as well, but she plowed on anyway.
“—UNTIL you sort out this thing between you. And you’re going to decide on a name you can both live with.” She gave both cat and full Time Lord a stern, expectant look.
The Doctor was quick to argue. “Now that is just entirely unfair! Handy started it!”
The cat sniffed with disdain and hopped down from the console. He padded across the grating to sit at Rose’s feet, looking up at her with wide, pleading eyes. When she didn’t react, he huffed and circled her legs, fluffy body pressing insistently against her calves.
Rose had heard similar arguments from the Doctor at least eight different times now, and she was simply not in the mood to hear the same things all over again. She gently nudged the cat away with one foot. “Stop it, both of you!” she said. “It’s been two days, and I’m sick of your petty fights over everything— including me, don't think I haven't noticed that! I would hope that you, especially the 900-year-old one of you, might be able to draw on your knowledge and experience to sort yourselves out. When you’ve done that, you can come find me. For now, I think I'll go explore the TARDIS. On my own. Maybe I’ll even relax by the pool for a bit.” She gave the Doctor one last pointed look before turning on her heel and striding toward the hallway that would take her back to the kitchen. She was in desperate need of more tea, and possibly a few chocolate biscuits.
The Doctor sputtered in protest. “But, Rose! Wait, you can't just—"
She glanced back at him. “Doctor, you know I love you no matter what form you’re in, but this is really getting out of hand." (She cringed inwardly at her choice of words.)
The Doctor opened his mouth to reply, then closed it again in resignation. "Quite literally, too," he muttered under his breath, glowering at the blue cat beside him.
Wishing she didn’t feel like she had to do this for the sake of their collective sanity, Rose sent a mental request to the TARDIS to stop both the cat metacrisis and the Doctor from leaving the room until they’d figured things out. Once she was confident the ship would carry out the task in whatever manner She saw fit (it was for the good of everyone onboard after all), Rose swiftly departed the console room, wondering idly where she might like to explore first.
The cat’s fluffy blue tail lashed back and forth as he watched Rose leave. When she disappeared from view, and the hallway she had gone down vanished and transformed into a blank coral wall, he raised his head to gaze at the bipedal Doctor. The Doctor stared stoically down at him in return. Neither of them quite knew how to act around each other, not yet. For better or worse, if they ever wanted to leave the console room and see Rose again in the immediate future, there had to be some kind of reconciliation between them.
That was so much easier said than done.
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The Doctor sat on the jump seat with a heavy sigh, slouching back and scrubbing his hands over his face. He didn’t want to do this. He really, really didn’t, and he knew his feline metacrisis didn’t want to either. That was the problem. Mentally speaking, they both knew exactly what the other thought, most of the time. The other problem (of which there were many) was that the Doctor’s metacrisis was a cat for life. An extremely intelligent, half-Time Lord, half-human, telepathic cat, but a cat nonetheless. That meant all of those Time-Lordy thoughts and human emotions had to filter through the brain of a cat, too. And that meant—
The Doctor groaned, running his hands through his hair and tugging on it in frustration when the uncomfortable cycle of metacrisis-related thoughts didn’t cease, or make anymore sense. He’d run all of that information through his mind a thousand times over, and doing so again wouldn’t help. He’d seen so many things in his many centuries, but this…this was certainly something new.
A blur of blue moved in his peripheral vision, and then, with a soft ‘thump’, the source of all his current distress hopped onto the seat beside him. The Doctor did his best to ignore him. When he continued to be ignored, the blue cat moved out of view. Despite the Doctor’s many misgivings about what that could possibly lead to, he merely slumped lower in his seat and kept his eyes trained on the console monitor.
Of course the TARDIS would take Rose’s side about this. Apparently, the fact that the Doctor and his TARDIS were all that remained of their ancient home planet wasn’t enough for the old time ship to side with him on this one thing. It would also seem that the fact they had traveled together for the good part of a millennium wasn’t good enough either. (So much for sentient time ships that were supposed to listen to their Time Lords.)
The TARDIS sent a sharp reprimand flashing across their bond the moment he thought that, making the Doctor wince.
‘Haven’t you done enough? I know you guided Rose right into creating the metacrisis, don’t deny it! I don’t know how, or why, but I know you had a part in that.’ He telepathically hurled his words back at TARDIS, all of his pent up frustration seeking an outlet, any outlet, that he would never let it have under normal circumstances. ‘This could have all been avoided. It wasn’t the most likely timeline. We both know that.’
The TARDIS hummed stubbornly in the back of his mind, with an apologetic murmur thrown in. She was certain that this was for the best, no matter what he thought.
The Doctor clenched his jaw. ‘Yeah.’
Out of nowhere, a white paw whacked his left cheek, claws extended just enough to give him a painfully reminder that they were all in working order.
“Ow!” He jerked away on reflex, bolting to his feet and spinning around in a fury. The fluffy blue cat sitting on the back of the jump seat merely gave him a passive look, calmly licking his left front paw.
“What was that for?” the Doctor demanded, wiping at his cheek. He wasn’t bleeding, but being hit in the face by a version of himself was still a bit of a shock.
The cat meowed back nonchalantly, “Someone had to.”
The Doctor rolled his eyes with a scoff, letting his hand fall back to his side. It was a little odd to hear his current body’s voice filtering back across his (their) bond with the TARDIS, especially since he could still hear and see the meows coming from the mouth of his cat self.
At least they could communicate more easily than the last time the Doctor had been a cat. The only reason Handy could “speak” via the TARDIS (for now, until he learned to speak out loud like every other cat with Gallifreyan heritage could) was because, being partially the same Time Lord, they both had a bond with the ship. Rose had a similar connection as well, but she had yet to find out about the full extent of the metacrisis' abilities. Plus, Handy had to want to project his words across his bond with the TARDIS to be heard, but he liked to pretend that he was more helpless and innocent than he actually was whenever Rose was around.
Thinking of Rose reminded the Doctor of his current predicament. “Did you just slap me?” He asked. If Handy had inherited the genetic material from Rose that was responsible for the infamous Tyler Slap...
Had the metacrisis become the bipedal half-Time Lord he was supposed to be, he might have shrugged. “Had to.”
“You were being rude.”
“Ohhhhhhh,” the Doctor drew the word out in scathing disbelief, “you’re one to talk. If I’m rude, then so are you!”
Handy snorted. “Yeah, so? If you weren’t rude and not ginger first, then I wouldn’t be like this.”
The Doctor glared at him. “You take that back!” He said, jabbing a finger at the cat.
“It’s true. You said it yourself.”
The cat and Time Lord stared at each other in silence, each refusing to give in. The feline metacrisis narrowed his bright golden eyes, daring the bipedal Doctor to blink or look away. The Doctor mirrored him, crossing his arms and lifting his chin a little in an unspoken challenge.
He only won their staring contest because the cat finally looked away, distracted by something under the grating. “Ha! I win!" The Doctor threw his hands up and crowed his victory to the room.
The metacrisis’ attention instantly snapped back to him, and he protested with a yowl. When the bipedal Doctor didn’t relent, the cat hissed in annoyance, his tail lashing back and forth as he darted across the console room and disappeared through the open section of floor grating.
“Don’t even think about it!” The Doctor shouted, scrambling after the cat in an attempt to stop him. He wasn’t quite fast enough, and could only get onto his hands and knees and peer into the hole. “Come back here right now!"
He saw blue fur slip under a series of tubes and wires as the cat ignored him and made his way deeper into the bowels of the time ship.
“Stop! Get up here, or I swear I'll come after you!" The Doctor threatened.
“You'll have to catch me first!" The feline retorted. The top of his head popped out from behind a panel, golden eyes staring defiantly up at his bipedal self in the warm half-light of the space below the console.
The metacrisis gave an angry rumble in response. “That’s still not my name. I’m the Doctor.”
“No, I'm the Doctor,” the bipedal Doctor corrected sternly, "the only, original, fully Time Lord one. You are a cat.”
Said cat hissed and swiped at the air in the Time Lord’s direction with his claws out.
The Doctor pulled back. “Really? That’s how you want to do this? Fine! You're a part Time Lord cat, which makes you just about the most intelligent feline in this universe. Is that better?” He asked.
Golden eyes blinked suspiciously up at him.
The Doctor sighed and looked away. They could go on like this for a long, long time and never make any progress. Something had to change, and as much as it pained him to acknowledge it, he suspected that it might have to be him. He sat down on the grating beside the hole and leaned back against the base of the console. Crossing his legs, he stared down at his hands where they rested in his lap in contemplative silence.
“I don't know what else you want me to say," he said finally. "You know you're always going to be like this. Nothing can change that, not that I know of, and I'm sorry, so, so sorry. I remember being a cat on Jyotaris, how frustrating it was to not be able to act the way I knew I should be able to...I wouldn't want to be you, I’ll admit that. You'll live a very long life like this too, barring accidents, because you're part me."
His metacrisis gave a disappointed huff.
“I know,” the Doctor said, glancing down at Handy through the grating. “Neither of us wanted this, but...you did help defeat Davros quite brilliantly.”
A quiet meow came from below him.
The barest hint of a smile crossed the Doctor’s face. “Who knew Daleks could be so easily distracted by one cat, eh? Oh, and of course Rose was absolutely brilliant too. My brave, brilliant Wolf—our Wolf—making the impossible possible once again. And you, well, you managed to distract Davros and the Daleks long enough for us to send almost all of the stolen planets back. That’s quite a feat.”
The blue feline regarded him carefully.
The Time Lord paused, swallowing what remained of his stubborn pride. Then he added, “And as much as I wish things were different, you’re here now, and you will be for a long time. And if we both wish to continue to exist as we are, without incurring any more slaps from Jackie Tyler, then I suppose I have to learn to accept you. Because even if you're half cat, Rose cares about both of us. Loves us, though we don't deserve it. I mean, other than earlier today, she already adores you. Just think, you’re going to be the most spoiled feline this side of—"
The metacrisis’ ears twitched suddenly, and he interrupted the bipedal Doctor with an inquisitive meow. “I can stay?”
The Doctor’s eyebrows shot up in surprise. “Of course you can stay! Where else would you go? You’d never blend in on most of the planets with cats like you, not with fur like that. All blue and everything." He was somewhat disconcerted that this sort of question had ever arisen. (It was clearly his fault. Although, for all his complaining about the metacrisis' existence, the Doctor had never actually considered abandoning his feline counterpart anywhere. Besides, Rose never would've allowed it.)
The cat looked away.
The Doctor quickly backtracked. “Not that blue fur's a bad thing! No, not at all, absolutely nothing wrong with blue. It’s a very nice color. You match the TARDIS quite well.”
When this failed to provoke any sort of response from the feline below him, the Time Lord resorted to staring down at his metacrisis in resignation. “Will you just come out from under there? I promise to not tell you off for touching the console again," he pleaded.
Handy chittered back in a way that almost sounded like a hollow laugh. Then he hopped out of the maintenance hatch and sat beside the bipedal Doctor, carefully arranging his paws and tail just the way he liked them. He gazed straight ahead, refusing to meet the Doctor’s gaze.
In spite of that, the Doctor cheered. “There we go! Now, before we can finally leave the console room and find Rose before she discovers our oldest archival storage rooms, or the, well, you know. You're me, you know all the embarrassing things we would rather Rose not find out about yet…”
The cat grumbled and flicked his tail in acknowledgment of said embarrassing things.
“Anyway!” The Doctor clapped his hands together, studying the feline beside him intently. “Names! We need a name for you that isn't Handy or the Doctor.”
His metacrisis glanced at him and cocked his head to one side, thinking about it.
The Doctor considered a few possibilities. “Rose was right, you don't look like a ‘John’ anymore. Hmmmm…..What about Meta?”
The cat immediately shook his head.
The Doctor frowned. “Not Meta? Okay, what about Ten? You know, because— No? Not that one either? Fine. What do you want to be called then?”
After a moment, his metacrisis meowed thoughtfully, and a new name filtered into the Doctor’s mind over the bond they shared with the TARDIS. It made him arch a skeptical eyebrow. “That's...interesting. Bit presumptuous though, don't you think?”
The cat shook his head. “No, I like it. That is the name I want, since you refuse to let me use ‘Doctor’.”
The bipedal Doctor ran his hands through his hair, still unsure. He silently tested out the name in his mind a few times. "Alright,” he said finally, “I suppose it’s not such a bad choice.”
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Rose heard the tell-tale sound of little cat feet bounding down the TARDIS' corridors long before either cat or bipedal form of the Doctor found her. As much as she had enjoyed spending time in the pool, the library, the holographic 360-degree planetarium, and the butterfly room, her desire to explore remained. So, she had set out to explore strange, old parts of the time ship, seeking out forgotten workshops, new storage rooms, and boldly going where she had never gone before. She was quite satisfied with the results of her endeavour. It had certainly become an entertaining adventure (though finding her way back to the console room was going to be a quest all its own).
Just when Rose thought she had seen every kind of storage room possible, there was always another down the hallway. She eventually made her way into a section of the TARDIS containing a number of dusty, holiday-themed storage rooms. (She was definitely going to use her newly-acquired knowledge of the Doctor's extensive collection of everything imaginable against him the next time he said he didn't like decorating for a holiday. He had decorations for so many Earth and alien holidays that Rose was sure he could supply an entire shop with it all.)
She had progressed from room to room, checking in with the TARDIS once and a while to see how the Doctor and his metacrisis were doing. The ship responded with a distant, thoughtful hum every time. Rose knew the TARDIS would tell her if something significant happened in the console room, so she remained mostly unconcerned as she wandered.
The last storage room she discovered was full of decorations that were more familiar than many of the others. Christmas decorations from multiple eras were piled high everywhere she looked. A holiday wreath was lying in the middle of the room when she first entered, surrounded by several extremely tangled strands of lights. The sight triggered a memory from months earlier when the Doctor had made a mess of his holiday decorations as a cat.
Rose had just sat down on the floor to untangle the lights when the TARDIS hummed at the fringes of her mind. The Doctor and his feline counterpart had evidently reached an agreement that the ship approved of enough to release them from the console room.
Rose smiled inwardly. She knew they would work it out...eventually.
It wasn't long before she heard the sound of a cat running at top speed down a nearby corridor. A moment later, the bipedal Doctor's footsteps could be heard dashing after him. "You think you're SO impressive with four legs,” he called out.
The feline seemed to agree. "Mrow!"
The Doctor laughed. "I keep telling you, if you are, then—"
A door was thrown opened and slammed shut, cutting the Doctor off. He shouted something unintelligible. A series of heavy objects crashed to the floor, and then Rose heard him yank another door open and yell, "Oi, that's cheating!"
The cat’s pawsteps slowly came to a halt.
Rose glanced up, giving up on the tangled lights and setting them aside. She could hear the metacrisis somewhere down the corridor from the Christmas storage room, presumably looking for her. Why had he stopped short?
She heard the Doctor catch up to him before he spoke again. "What? But you slept for 14 hours yesterday. Consecutively!"
"Oh.” The Doctor reached an epiphany of some kind. “I didn't think about that. You were only born two days ago, so it makes sense. Sorry, I should have known this would happen.”
Puzzled, Rose listened to the sound of movement in the hallway. Was something (else) wrong with the metacrisis? Had he gotten hurt?
Whatever the metacrisis said made the Doctor sigh and scuff the bottoms of his plimsolls against the coral floor. "Yes, of course she’ll like it."
The feline must have been satisfied with that answer, because his quiet footsteps started up again a moment later.
Rose got to her feet and brushed a few streaks of dust off her clothes as she prepared to meet them.
“Rose, love, are you down here?" the Doctor called.
”Yeah, in here,” she yelled back, "with all the holiday decorations you knocked over on Jyotaris!”
“Ah.” He sounded less enthusiastic about that.
Rose laughed. Hopefully the Doctor would get over his embarrassment about that night soon. After all, the ancient Jyotarian cat curse placed on him then had prevented him from leaving the planet until Rose found him on her final dimension jump, and helped them save the universe from Davros. All in all, that curse seemed to have done more good than harm. (Bad Wolf’s immense power aside, Rose would never again underestimate the ability of a human-Time Lord cat, a ball of neon green string, and a furious Donna Noble to help bring the creator of the New Dalek Empire to whatever remained of his despicable knees.)
The Doctor and his feline metacrisis burst into the room in a flurry of brown and blue. The metacrisis immediately bounded up to Rose with a joyful chirrup, springing up on his hind legs and balancing with his front paws on her knee. She knelt to pet him, scratching under his chin and running her fingers through the ever-untamable fur between his ears. He melted into her touch, dropping back to all fours with a deep, rumbling purr emanating from his chest.
“There you are!” The Doctor said, joining them with a relieved smile on his face. "You've been busy! Couldn’t find you for a bit.”
Rose glanced up at him with a tongue-touched grin. "The pool was nice, but not very interesting to explore for the fifty-ninth time. I haven't been here very long though. I only made it as far as trying to untangle these." She gestured to the knotted lights beside her to illustrate.
"Oh, you can leave those,” the Doctor said dismissively. “They’ve been like that for the past few hundred years or so.”
“What, really?" she asked, straightening up.
"I'm fairly certain they have, yes."
"Wow. Wait, so why couldn’t you find me? Didn’t you ask the TARDIS where I was?”
The metacrisis began to protest about the lack of attention being paid to him. Sharing a somewhat exasperated look with Rose, the Doctor picked up the feline and cradled him in his arms with more gentleness than she expected from someone who claimed to hate cats nearly every time they encountered one. Mostly, though, she was pleased to see both feline and bipedal Time Lord acting far more at ease with each other. Neither of them seemed to be too upset about her locking them in the console room either.
The Doctor shrugged. “Oh, you know how the TARDIS can be. She implied that you were in one of the storage rooms and we figured out the rest."
Rose resumed petting the metacrisis with a soft smile (silently noting the hint of jealousy that flashed in the Doctor’s eyes as she did). “Sounded like you two were having fun racing each other,” she said.
“He started it! Course, I would’ve won easily, but being the less rude one of the two of us, I let him win.”
The metacrisis grumbled at that, then yawned again.
"He's also very tired," the Doctor added.
Rose frowned. “What’s wrong with him? Will he be alright?”
“Oh, yes. I just didn’t realize he would receive all of the usual effects of regeneration I managed to avoid by channeling my regeneration energy into my severed hand. He’ll be perfectly fine as long as he gets a good, long rest instead of spending all night clawing at doors, getting stuck in trees, or falling in the pool.”
The cat in question meowed lowly.
“Yes, yes, I’m just about to get to that,” the Doctor muttered.
Rose stilled her hand in the middle of petting the fur along the metacrisis’ back, looking expectantly between the two of them. “Are you talking about his new name? What did you pick?”
The Doctor met her gaze with some uncertainty. (He really wanted her to like whatever name he and the metacrisis had chosen, she realized.)
“Tempus,” he said finally, “meaning time in Latin. Not sure why he chose it, he hasn't said. He didn’t like any of my suggestions, so I asked what he wanted to be called. I thought it was a bit...unnecessary for a part-Time Lord cat to call himself ‘Time’, but it’s hardly the worst name he could have chosen. It’s starting to grow on me. What do you think?”
“Tempus….” Rose muttered. It had a sort of mysterious quality to it that suited him, and if that was what the metacrisis wanted to be called, then Tempus was the name she would use. “I like it,” she decided.
“I hoped you would.”
She jumped at the sound of the Doctor’s voice echoing through her mind accompanied by a faint hum from the TARDIS. “Did you just say—What was that?” she asked.
The Doctor only shook his head and looked down at his metacrisis. “That wasn't me. I wouldn't...not without... It was Tempus. He can project words telepathically through the TARDIS. I’m sorry I, I mean we didn’t tell you earlier. He was supposed to tell you, but then we started investigating why he’s blue, and then I had to fix all sorts of things on the console that got overheated on the Crucible, and here we are.”
Rose put her hands on her hips, raising her eyebrows slightly. “You forgot to tell me Tempus can talk through the TARDIS?”
The Doctor opened his mouth to reply, but Tempus beat him to it. He had the sense to project an apologetic tone as he said, “No. I just wanted to be better at it first.”
It was a little strange to hear him speak in the Doctor’s voice, but Rose knew she could get used to it eventually. She didn’t really have an issue with him speaking telepathically, not after she had learned so much about how to utilize Bad Wolf’s unique form of telepathy once she’d returned to her original universe. She was more surprised that it was possible at all, since the Doctor himself hadn’t been able to project sentences through the TARDIS as a cat.
“Alright. These past few days have been hard for both of you," she conceded.
“For all of us,” the Doctor corrected. Tempus echoed him with a small, sleepy meow.
“And we got through it, just like we have everything else,” Rose said. She finally gave into impulse and carded her fingers through the Doctor’s hair, gently combing it into a slightly calmer state. She could tell he’d been running his fingers through it, like he often did while trying to figure out something particularly troublesome.
His eyes fell closed as she worked, but opened again when she pressed a kiss to his cheek and pulled away. She started toward the door after one last glance around the storage room. “Come on, let’s get something to eat. We’ll clean up this mess later. I know the moment we get Donna, you’re going to want to go to some planet where we could possibly get stuck in a prison cell without food that’s safe for human consumption. I want to start our next adventure on a full stomach.”
For a moment, the Doctor only stared at her with a vacant look in his eyes and a faint smile on his face.
Rose waited, biting her lip to stifle a giggle. “Doctor?”
He blinked. “Hmmm? Oh, yes, let’s get mess. I mean breakfast! I bet Tempus would love some. I already ate.” He caught up to her and together they began their long and winding journey back to the newer sections of the TARDIS.
They had nearly reached the kitchen when Rose realized that Tempus hadn’t spoken a word the entire time. She glanced down at the feline, still in the Doctor’s arms.
“Awww!” she whispered. The cat was fast asleep. His white paws and the tip of his tail twitched occasionally as he raced through unknown dreams.
The Doctor gave her a warning look.
Rose rolled her eyes good-naturedly and made a point of opening the kitchen door as quietly as possible. She’d make sure to give Tempus a bowl of milky tea when he woke up. In the meantime, she would ask the Doctor what had happened in the console room.
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