Doctor Who and the Great Eclipse

by GM_Andy [Reviews - 10]

Printer Chapter or Story
  • Adult
  • Explicit Sex, Explicit Violence, Non-Con, Swearing
  • Alternate Universe, Character Study, Crossover, Het, Horror, Slash

Author's Notes:
This is rather a random plot bunny that would just not leave me alone. I've decided it's time to begin posting my more adult and graphic version of this story here.

The Doctor, newly tossed into his 9th incarnation and reeling from the effects of the Time War, stumbles into a situation he cannot ignore when the TARDIS lands him inside a ship that is clearly in trouble.


It’s 2517, Humanity is in space, and expanding outward in fits and starts. Not everyone fleeing Earth-that-was went to the same system. Let us just imagine then that the Sino-Anglo Colony, Blue Sun, exists on the opposite side of the galactic arm from the rest of civilized space. Contact between the two major political blocks is limited and passage from one side to the other is handled by long term sleeper ships – Ghost Runs. One company specializing in these sort of risky runs typically handles these.

Port of Departure: Eavesdown Docks, Persephone. Mixed Sino-Anglo culture. Port of Call: Tangiers-5. Darkside. Mixed Islamic-Anglo culture. Crew complement: Four. Passengers: Forty plus.

So what happens when a passenger by the name of Dr. Simon Tam and his cargo get on the wrong ship? There’s a Bounty Hunter aboard, but not one after him…

Features Doctor 9, Pre-“Rose”; Simon and River Tam, Pre-“Serenity”, Firefly episode 1&2; and the cast of Pitch Black…

Doctor Who and the Great Eclipse avi


Despair.


Fire. There was fire burning through time and space. Like a spider’s web caught in plasma. The flickering orange energy rippled out from a central point of the latticework where it was anchored before time began and had existed outside of it. There was something to be said for the horrible beauty of fire. Plasma, hot as the second artificial Gallifreyan sun arched past him, out through space-time in a forever-instant of destruction that would burn out everything connected to it, starting at the very beginning. He stood at the end of his world, paused in the flickering flames that ignited in the ancient atmosphere.

It blazed hot and moved fast, in less then a second all of time and space was altered from what it had been. And it burned within the green eyes of a slightly built figure, dressed in elegant velvets with a mane of soft wavy hair. He could feel the moisture subsiding right out of his flesh, mummifying his body while he still clung to life. The entire passage of the energy, a silent explosion, shriveled his form on contact. He scarcely noticed the physical pain of it past the visions that the inferno fed into his mind's eye as each of the other Time Lords were consumed from the inside out by the very power that had sustained them for eons. The pause of the backlash was fractions of a microsecond as the plasma brushed past him, leaving him half suspended as the effects took their toll on the physical anchor of the planet he stood on. Fire to cinders. In less time then it took to blink.

It took the now near skeletal form a moment, a slice of forever, to realize that the physical damage and left him aware. Cruelly aware. The last witness of a war that should have never been. It occurred to him that he was dying, burnt from the last-ditch, ultimate weapon of his people. He’d find it ironically funny, honestly, in a different lifetime. His fault. This war was built on his first contact with — Them. A contact that happened back in his first life. The product of a faulty stuck part in his ancient time machine and his eagerness to show — to prove — he was not a crazy old man.

The war was built on his repeated defeating of Them through his second life — including using his own genius and his companion’s humanity to introduce elements into the alien lifeforms that made it even more cunning in the long run. His beloved companion. He’d been blinded to his own stupid choices then. And he had paid for that with exile. It was built on his hesitation in his fourth life to commit genocide, even though he knew there were whispers on the wind of the coming war even then. Even his destruction of Skaro in his seventh life had not been enough to prevent this. And now he stood at the end. The end of it all.

And even as his lives flashed before his eyes, the effect caused by the ripples of the plasma shooting through time reached his brain and one after another the connections he’d lived with since he was eight years old snapped. It all happened so fast, like a string of Earth firecrackers, a thousand pops long. The agony was unimaginable. Any time now and he’d go too. Only — The fire died leaving cinders in his mind, disconnected whispers of what had been. Memories without substance. Inside his severely burnt chest, his twin hearts beat a frantic tempo as he realized that the moment had passed and he was still alive, although barely. By rights, he should have fallen into the same timeless void of nothingness that the rest of them had been consumed by. Yet, the fire of fury blazing through time and space, seeking out and burning everything marked or touched by his people, friend and enemy alike, and leaving behind nothing — had missed him.

Even the explosive energy had faded, leaving him without physical support, lacking even muscles to remain upright. His fragile leg bones cracked under the thin ashen covering that remained on them. He was beyond pain at this point, unable to physically feel anything. Mentally, however, he felt it all. All the agony, all the knowledge of being alone, the last one of his kind, all the betrayal that had led to his being the one left behind. He crumbled to the sooty ground, screaming as he went. His stiffened and burnt frame cracked and snapped with the effort, skin, bone, muscle alike shredding from the force of his outburst. The act of drawing the spent gases of his native atmosphere into his lungs snapped his frail ribs like so many thin twigs dried under a harsh sun. The extremely dehydrated tissue over the top of his ribs was mangled. All he had ever wanted was acceptance with his fellows, a sense of normalcy and belonging. Instead he’d been touched by time, given gifts of sight and purpose he’d never wanted. “Eighth man bound” he’d been called. Well, he was past his sight now. It was over. Time for the Time Lords to pass into the void and call it quits.

Only they couldn’t. Being changed into a Lord of Time altered him on a basic level that meant what was left of his brethren, their control of time and the matrix was a communal endowment over some of the basic laws of the universe. It couldn’t just dissipate into nothingness. As long as one remained, he would be as a god among mortals, holding that power a thousand times stronger than any single Time Lord since the very first. The next scream was of rage, as his mind, empty and alone as it could have ever been, realized what had happened. One of the last acts of this life, and his soul refused to leave.

He wanted to rip his body apart, fling the charred bones to the wind, stomp them into ash… He wanted peace of nothing. He wanted to forget it all, every death, every fight, every move and counter. He pleaded with Time herself, with Pain, and Death, too, desperate to join his kind in whatever beyond they had found, ‘Mercy, please. Just let me pass with the rest of them.’ Instead, he got echoes of his own words, smugly spoken in times past, like a slap in the face and the distinct feeling that the Universe was not finished with him yet.

Already the end of one life was tilting into the beginning of another. Somehow, by some cruel twist of fate, he was aware of his physical, twisted, cracked and shattered state. He could feel the coming change hovering for his last breath in this life to pass. The skin and muscle over much of his body was nothing more than a thin covering of jerky-like tissue and ash where it existed at all. His clothing had not protected him much from the blazing plasma. He’d remembered to keep his face somewhat covered, leaving him with intact eyes but no lids, his breathing passages were burnt through leaving him unable to swallow, although that damage was caused more by his screaming before the air had cooled enough to be safe.

Much of his nerve endings were gone, leaving him without physical pain. It was the vast emptiness that had once been filled by a thousand other elite minds that hurt him without any end in sight. Those pops had been the last moments of existence for the rest of the Time Lords. All were gone in a brief hot flash that left him with echoes of their mental screams and nothingness. More than a small part of him wanted to die too. It was a reasonable enough request, wasn’t it? To be allowed the peace of death after all he’d done and all he’d given so that the universe could go on it’s merry way blind to the threat that had been averted by the massive destruction he’d just wrought.

But the raw power of his connection to Time and the Vortex granted him god-like endurance. So many bad choices he'd made in the past. Still it had ended with him here, at the center of the blast, the last one to go. The same power that had been unleashed as a wild storm of plasma now sustained him. And his mind was that of a fighter. He’d suffered, yes. But he’d had good times too. He’d had triumphs and joy. He’d lived when others of his kind had merely existed. So much he’d done. Good things. He’d loved and laughed and had more richness in his life than he had right to toss away. If he died now, who would remember what he and his companions had accomplished, particularly those who had no memory of it themselves?

He had stopped the foolishness of the Grand Artefacts abuse by the corrupt Celestial Intervention Agency. He had held the Key to Time. He had fought the Paradox Faction. He alone had restored everything once. Could he do it again? Could he avoid the mistakes he’d made before? Or should he just go on as the Red Guardian, and do as he’d been told was his fate to do? So much possibility for the future, just veiled from his sight. He was alone, yes. But for the first time, ever, he was truly free.

He found the strength to make an abortive, rather ironic, huff of amusement. The breath that it took further cracked ribs and caused the paper thin burnt tissue on his torso to flake off like snow from a log. No matter how badly he wanted to die he found it impossible to just — let go. Fact of the matter was; he didn’t want to just give up. Damned by his own stubborn nature. As long as the possibility was there, no matter how slim, he’d be too charmed by it to ignore it. Like a raven over a shiny object… even if that object was trash. A cool sensation flowed over his inner organs, and he let his head rest fully on the ashen earth, knowing that once there he’d not be able to lift it again until late in the regenerative process. It was starting. He’d already agreed to it, to not fight it.

His awareness flickered as his soul tried, unsuccessfully, to flee from the embrace of the raw power that held it captive to his shattered, burnt body. It was inevitable. The cycle of rebirth would give him a new form, a new shape, only connected to the old by strings of his memory. This would be his ninth form. Again, he would face the universe as the champion of justice, suffering so others didn’t have to. But unlike the other times, this time he was his own higher power. Time, Pain, Death... all of the thirteen-fold god’s faces had fled when the single, final weapon was unleashed. Only the Red Guardian remained. Just him.

The regenerative energy manifested in a golden light that forced its way out from the cracks in his burnt torso through the twisted and torn remains of his ribs. It had already begun regenerating his vital organs. Now the soft, cool golden sparkles washed over his shattered, twisted, skeletal form, slowly spreading across the burnt flesh. Another sound broke the deathly silence. A brighter white and blue light accompanied a grating noise. It solidified around him, lifting him off the charred soil and onto cool metal grating. Without even focusing he knew what this was: his living ship; his life’s companion - Verity. They were nearly one being, each being lost without the other.

She was injured from the terrible power of the blast through time and space also. He could feel her agony as though it was his own, her loss was as great as his. Conceived as they were in the now destroyed womb of Gallifrey within the same instant, halves of the same soul, each now shared not only the agony of this loss but the desperation of their need for one another because there was nothing else left like them. The vast power that resided in the Time Lord kept him alive beyond what was mortally possible, but it would eventually do more harm than good unless she limited his access to it. He’d sent her away to keep her from suffering the direct effects of the blast. Now she would return the favor, protecting him, and his mind, from the worse of the energy that he alone now held in his hands. Power no single being was ever meant to have.

She would also bare witness to his rebirth, cradling him as best she could as the regeneration threw him rigid, causing his arms and legs to shatter, his ribs to splinter, the vertebrae popping and snapping against the metal floor. The energy kept him alive, but the physical body, brittle as it was, snapped from the forced movement. Already he suffered horribly broken and shattered bones, charred and blackened. The process started with his skeleton, repairing, altering, and healing his bones from the inside out. As he healed the agony built to undeniable levels. No regeneration was meant to heal so much at once. He existed in a haze of pain as the flesh flaked away from the regrowing tissue, exposing inner organs, already renewed, and newly forming blood vessels pumping with dark russet fluid.

He’d never been this injured before. Never had he experienced anything that might make him wonder about the wisdom of his chosen course. But this experience was one he never wanted to have again. It was far more painful than any other regeneration, even more so than the first one was. That death was caused by his being worn out with age and he'd been terrified of the process, unsure that it would work with what he knew about his own past. But this was worse. Far, far worse. It made his shattered body at the end of his forth life feel like a stroll in the park. He’d had most every bone broken from that fall. Then there was the deaths by poison, which he'd experienced twice. Neither time had been even half this bad.

His other deaths, caused by knocks to the head or being shot and killed by carelessness, or even the forced regeneration, had been completely tame and peaceful compared to this. The extent of the damage forced the regeneration to reform tissue layer by layer, nerves, muscle, skin… Like always it reshaped his face. But this time it had to do more than just heal scattered injuries or repair localized damage. The burnt flesh pealed away, falling to the floor. It left behind baby-new skin, stretched over sharply formed bone, muscle, and tendon.

Although the regeneration was not finished yet, he shifted, popping joints and aligning bones back into place. His struggle left him as weak as a newborn babe. His shaking arms gave out, but even the thump back to the floor was not enough to reduce his feeling of relief over the sudden lack of physical pain. And yet, there was something awfully undignified with being sprawled on the metal grating among your own remains, so he tried again to move, to force himself into another position at least. He rolled onto his side, clutching his middle with his hairless arms for a moment before trying to kneel. That was too much effort. He collapsed back to his side, having no strength to support his larger form.

Most times he was guilty of a little vanity. Most times he was regenerating with someone else there that he wanted to impress. The first time it was simple consideration on his part, wanting to be younger but not threatening. The third time it was for Sarah — trying to give her someone younger that she might find worth staying with. The fourth time was for — no, he shouldn’t go on like this about lost companions and why he’d regenerated the way he had. This time there was no one. No one to care what he looked like. And that was fine. He didn’t care either.

He had no desire to deal with a new body. None. He didn't even care that he'd somehow managed to remain in a human base. This was one of those times that he could have been missing a head or come out with three arms and he wouldn't have cared. It didn’t matter that he had bigger ears and hands then the last time. It didn’t matter that he was bald and hairless. Instead his mind was turned inward already, away from the bigger ears and hands, the unnaturally pale complexion and overly smooth skin. His not caring didn’t keep the regeneration from attempting to give him hair however. This manifested in a slight itch that started on his scalp and spread across his skin. The radiation poison still in his system forced the hair into remaining light in colour or colourless, sparse, and naturally short. And still, the regenerative energy tried, unsuccessfully, to replenish it long enough for him to gain and shed several heads worth of the inch long fibers

But once it stopped, he rather wished it had continued because the physical feeling served as a slight distraction from his emotional losses. Now that he had nothing to keep his attention from it, those overwhelming feelings became undeniable. He’d agreed to live, but life hurt horribly. His people, his family, his friends brave or foolish enough to fight alongside him against an enemy that traveled through time and space with the same ease he’d always taken for granted… All gone. ‘Ah, Susan, Leela, Dorothee, Romana… Why? Why couldn’t they have survived?’ He gripped his knees in a curled position as the first of the sobs racked over his form. Somehow he even managed to rock a bit as the tears flooded from his eyes. So much lost. So many gone. And it was all his fault. Huddled on the floor of his ship, naked as the day he was Loomed, the Doctor wept.


0o0o0o0o0o0o0


A sharply dressed man with round dark glasses surveyed his surroundings as he pondered his next move. He’d tried to dress down, choosing older clothes that looked worn, scruffy, unpolished shoes, the sort of hand-me-down things that might be found at a thrift shop. Then again, he’d only been in one in his entire life, so really he’d been guessing. At least the Alliance guards seemed fooled by his garb. He’d not been stopped by any of them yet, at least. His pause was a brief one, as he wanted to keep moving until he was sure about his course of action. The only real thing he knew for sure was that he had to get his cargo on a ship and get off this planet.

Simon Tam had enough cash on him that he could have chosen any ship in Eavesdown Docks. He walked through the multi-ethnic area, towing his luggage, and listening to an enormous variety of languages and dialects that flowed over and around him with their colourful chatter. ‘River would love this place,’ he thought. Not only would the languages intrigue his brainy sister, but the tone and texture of the place itself, the exposition of new and old, the smells and sights, colors and flavors, would expound into a glorious harmony for her that no-one else would understand except for him. If not for their age differences, Simon and River could have been twins caught inside their own world. He hated the fact that she wasn’t really here with him in the way she should have been. It was far too dangerous to do this any other way, however.

The vast majority of the ships at Eavesdown were local fliers, in-system transport. Some were big; some were small. But while there were plenty of backwater worlds to hide on that were inside the sphere of the Blue Sun System, something twitched in his gut at the thought of staying so close to home. This made him discard most of the ships without even looking at them. Only one local transport even registered with him and that by virtue of a single factor that had nothing to do with the ship itself.

Instead it was based on his physical reaction to who was selling the tickets. The ship itself seemed to be a bucket-of-bolts with a very cute, almost beautiful hawker. The Firefly Class Serenity. Something about the honey-haired young woman made his heart flutter in his chest. He wanted on that ship, really he did. So much so that he almost gave up his cash on the spot even though she was an inter-system transport. So selfish a motivation it was to board the Serenity, Simon was sure he’d hate himself later. And he had the foresight to recognize this fact before he actually approached the older ship. He paused, caught in the crowd near a food vendor, staring at the object of his desire as he debated with himself. Would this be right for River?

But then the man, Hobbson -- Robbson, or something similar, signed on while he was debating and that gave the good doctor a very bad feeling… His connection to his Mei-Mei thrummed in his chest. It couldn’t be right for her with the alarm that trickled between them even with her fast asleep. Simon did not wait. Instead, he blended into the throng as best he could and headed directly to his second choice.

Behind him, Lawrence Dobbson spotted his quarry just as the man melted into the crowd. He cursed under his breath and tried to get his money back from little Kaylee Frye. Only after he’d flashed his gun and and the pilot, Wash, stepped in did he get his credits back. But he’d lost the elusive Dr. Tam and had no idea which direction the man had gone. He sprinted away and searched frantically, only to return later and discover the cost of the ticket had risen due to sudden increase in demand…

Simon wove his way to The Tower. It was a tall docking port for long-range sleeper transport. The Tower was, typically, very empty. There weren’t very many sleeper ships that came this far. In fact the timing of his rescue was based on the simple fact that there would be a ship here. It would be over a year before another arrived. He glanced up at the slightly battered, multi-compartment ship docked at the Tower’s apex. He could make out the painted registration marks on the side of it but not the name. Ah, the loading sign announced that final departure of the Hunter-Gratzner would be in a matter of hours, and they still had tickets for sale. He manipulated his cargo into the lift and stepped inside.

Before he could close the gate a dark-skinned man dressed in floor-length robes and a turban ushered in three boys before stepping in himself, “Thank you for holding.”

“No problem, Father,” Simon replied out of habit. The silence was broken by only the slight sounds of children continuing their previous game but in a more restrained fashion. As they traveled upward the dark haired trauma surgeon found himself asking, “Are you on Hajj?”

The Imam, who had a peaceful face and an easy manner, graced him with a smile, “Yes.” There was a slight pause before he continued, “Once in every lifetime should there be a Great Hajj. To know God better.”

Simon nodded. He was not Chrislam himself, but he was familiar with their practices. After a thought he asked, “I take that you’ve seen the Core Worlds, then and are now heading to New Mecca?”

“Yes,” the older man said with delight. It was rare to meet someone who understood about the Hajj. “There’s a family with us, from the Conga system. They have a young woman with them that is unattached. Perhaps you would be her escort?”

At that Simon glanced at the Imam. “Doesn't an escort require parental permission?” At this the Imam nodded. “My parents are rather far away, I'm afraid. But — I would be honoured to at least act as a guide with your insight, after all, I might just be taking that Hajj with you,” Simon said with a tired smile. He could use a miracle or three right about now.

“God always has room for one more,” the Imam replied, settling his hand on his youngest pilgrim’s shoulder.

The lift reached the top of the tower, and the pilgrims assisted Simon as he moved his stuff. One of the boys scurried off and returned with a loader and his brothers helped Simon place the boxes and bags onto it, chattering in Arabic the entire time with light sing-song voices that made the doctor’s dark mood much lighter. He looked over what he could see of the huge Hunter-Gratzner as he steered his belongings toward it, the boys playing around with each other and seeming to be all over the place at once. He glanced over at the Imam and noticed that the man had a serene smile on his face as he watched his charges play.

This was a bit more high-class than the other ship, sure. But he could get farther away from those seeking him. He glanced at the passengers, noting that there was a nice mix of classes and ages on this ship. Families both high-classed set to take an exotic vacation and low-classed following work, businessmen ranging from suited desk workers to shopkeepers to art dealers, prospectors, pilgrims -- and the gent with the badge already had his bounty. Simon thought that he’d blend right in.

He had to negotiate getting his cryo-cargo hooked into the ship’s systems, and felt lucky that there were enough empty cryo-lockers that the captain, Tom Mitchell, was rather eager to accommodate him.

Simon had never been in cryo before, although he knew all the medical factors and jargon involved with it. He’d put others into cryo. It was safe enough. He chewed on the inside of his cheek as Greg Merritt, a cryo systems technician, moved over from the ‘No Early Release’ lock-down cryo-locker that he’d installed for the red-headed badge. “It’s top of the line technology. Do you need converters?” He offered as Merritt studied the self-contained system.

“The ones that came with the unit would form the most secure seal,” the fact that the older, used converters the ship had might malfunction was left unsaid. Simon turned to his unloaded luggage before Douglas Owens, Communications Officer, could wheel it away. He retrieved the converters and handed them over. Shortly thereafter Owens returned and handed him a cargo code for his luggage. Simon glanced at the mix of Arabic, Chinese, and Anglo symbols, committing them to memory before slipping the card into a vest pocket. The Arabic was a rare sight here, on Persephone. He guessed that it was far more common where he was going.

A blond woman approach him, “That’ll be 10,000 credits, Mr. Tam.”

He glanced over at her, noticing her jacket claimed that her name was Carolyn Fry. “Yes. Thousand-note bills okay?” He was still unsure about the use of currency, having been from the Core himself where credit was the only legal tender. The answer was given by the slim hand extended flat towards him. It must have been okay then. Most ships preferred electronic credits and the paper trail that they left behind so he was slightly surprised that she took the money without even asking for an ID verification. The only other places he'd been able to use money was blackout areas which existed in the more anarchistic levels of the big cities. Simon had just barely been able to get his hands on these bills before his accounts had been locked. He paid her with ten oversize Alliance notes. She flashed him a smile that rivaled the honey-haired woman back at Serenity before moving away to pay the docking fees.

Watching her, Simon wondered if he’d made the right choice.


0o0o0o0o0o0o0


He wasn’t sure how much time passed before he managed to gather himself together and force his shivering, naked form through the halls of his ship. It might have been weeks, or mere hours. They were suspended in the Vortex, anyhow, and time passed differently inside a time ship than it did for the rest of the 'Verse. Somehow he was able to remember how to put one foot in front of the other and make it through the far doorway. His hands looked over sized against the thin, sinewy, pale wrist that he realized with some surprise was his own. This shock made him look down his lean torso, eyes drifting slightly out of focus until he looking at hairless, large but slender feet. The pale skin was exactly the same sort of new that he'd only witnessed in the very young before. He tilted a bit, ending up rather leaning against a warmly vibrating wall. It was almost a compulsion that made him run a hand over his own side and across his defined stomach. Baby-smooth, still cool to the touch, and not a trace of fat anywhere. He could feel the corded muscles just below the skin. His fingers found the indentation that birthed beings knew of as a bellybutton. If he still retained that then there was a good chance that he retained other unique traits that had gotten him into so much trouble before. His sensitive fingers picked up only the slightest hints of hair across his skin.

Verity knew he was trying to control his shivering. Like most newly born he had trouble with regulating his own temperature. To assist him she tried the shroud the Doctor in a swathing of warmer denser air. She also tried to ease away his bleak pain some even though she knew doing so would allow him to feel what she did. The touching attempt caressed his new flesh even as her mental caress whispered against his mind. He was suddenly aware of how selfish he'd been. Of how scared she had been when he sent her away. He closed his eyes and let the tears trickle down his cheeks. They were both in the same boat here, both totally alone. And worse that that, she'd been sure that his actions would end with his death and she'd be left to slowly fade away. He was so hoarse from sobbing already, but another forced its way from him as he turned and pressed his front into her wall, extending his arms out to make as much contact with her as possible.

Inside his mind, still so raw from the agony of what he'd just done, he reached for her, knowing the intensity of it would be more than he should even attempt right now. But they were completely alone and had nothing but each other. He needed her. She needed him. He was willing to do this for her. She was just as stricken with the experience, and unwilling to cause him further harm. But he called and called for her, and she would not deny him. So although she hesitated for an instant, his urgent mental cries eventually was more than she could resist. Verity tried to be gentle, to make her mental touch feather light, but he sucked her in like a greedy man faced with treasure, even though it made them both scream from the contact.

But oh... they needed this knowledge that they still had each other. He completely dropped all barriers to her and let her become part of him, and she responded by letting him become part of her. The mental joining made them both respond with intensely painful physical rapture. And he clung to her until his new body remembered how to breathe again, amazed by his own strength now. She pulled back but did not leave him. The mental hum of her quiet support steadied him, easing away the bleak pain of his interior hollowness. Try as she might, the TARDIS couldn’t fill that blank spot in his mind. Her knowledge, her constant readings, the multi-threaded ebb and flow of her internal systems were like a drop landing on an ocean basin gone dry. But she was trying, so he figured he should try too.

He wanted something to mark him as different, now. He was less prone to the outlandish fashions of his other lives. Just something comfortable. Time-worn like his soul. Faded jeans, an assortment of thin sweaters and tees in darkish colors, a loose blazer-cut leather jacket… All far too plain for any of his other lives. He didn’t care. The style suited him, and he didn’t need a mirror to dress for there were no ties to mess with, nothing to straighten, just simple comfort. The fact that he could avoid looking at his face was a bonus. He didn’t want to see the haunted look that he knew lurked deep inside his eyes.

He looked around and located several other pairs of jeans in different finishes that were the same simple style. He’d take them too, and perhaps something would move him to change his pants once in a while. The doctor finished up his trip to the wardrobe room with a few pairs of comfortable shoes, half a dozen soft socks and y-fronts. His arms full, he set off to claim a room for himself, one different than the other eight he already possessed.

The TARDIS actually accommodated him by moving the perfect room to a point near the main control bay. It was clean-lined, uncluttered, with dark warm colors and heated enough to remind him that he could want to sleep. The bed was heaped with pillows and duvets, looking altogether fluffy, like he could sink into it and never even desire coming out. ‘Tempting, but no,’ he told the ship. ‘Maybe later, though.’ She thrummed in agreement with him as he turned his attention to unloading his arms.

The Doctor was methodical about putting his things away. He carefully shook each item out and refolded it, perfectly lining everything up just so. He color coded each item into its perfect spot, using the rather nifty ebony cubbyholes that took up one wall and functioned as both a closet and a dresser. The socks and y-fronts went into spaces with drawers inserted into them. The coat had a perfect hook, near enough to the door that he could snatch it on the way out. The pairs of shoes each had a nook with a raised area so that they wouldn’t slip out. Then the jeans, sweaters and tees all had their own level. But getting it right took time.

So he took it, even as the sounds of his ship alerted him that they had landed. Blast it. He wasn’t ready for this. He wanted, say, a hundred-year break. Just as he finished placing the last sweater away the klaxon started to go off. “Well, whatever did you decide to land here for?” he argued with the ship as she begin to scream at him. “Fine!” He stomped out into the main control area and realized that the location the TARDIS materialized at, And it must be a ship, plain and simple, was in the process of speeding down to a yellowish planetary surface at an unforgiving rate. ‘Oh — hell-fire and damnation…’ He grabbed for whatever handhold he could find and wondered if fate was having a good belly laugh at his expense.