Monday, August 13, 2012

Twelve

Picture taken from http://blogs.evtrib.com/nerdvana/files/2009/01/tardis.jpg, courtesy of The Internet. Image depicts the TARDIS from TV show Doctor Who. If you don't know what that is, then maybe this story is not right for you.
First (non-crossoverDoctor Who story, so I'm a little hesitant—I want to be able to do justice to this amazing show—and any constructive feedback you could give would be great. Especially since I'm American and not British, so I don't know things like slang. I also have no knowledge whatsoever of nuclear power plants.

The companion named Jenna is an OC and not Jenna-Louise Coleman's new character. Whoever catches the Sherlock (1) and Firefly (2) references gets metaphorical cookies.

Read it on fanfiction.net here.

Warnings: Spoilers for the new series seasons up through six, especially for 6x04 “The Doctor's Wife.” Also, major deviations from canon, or at least likely deviations from future canon, if that sort of thing bothers you.

Disclaimer: I don't own it.


Twelve

I can't go back to yesterday—because I was a different person then.” —Lewis Carroll

This regeneration was more explosive than all his past ones combined. By the time the golden shower of light had died down, the area around him was a deserted wasteland—not that there had been much there before the incident—and neither his companions nor the army that had been descending on him were anywhere in sight. He was alone, alone on the Fields of Trenzalore.

The Fields of Trenzalore. The Fall of the Eleventh. The Question—the first question, the oldest question, hidden in plain sight, the immortal but oh-so-elusive “Doctor who?”

The answer he had given still troubled him.

Before he had time to reflect further, some part of his brain kindly reminded him of the pressing matter of his new form. Right. He had to figure out who he was this time.

The mouth, the mouth was strange. Good teeth and all, but weird all the same. The lips were a bit bigger than usual, but he could live with that. Hands—he had hands, and arms, and legs, and everything else that was necessary. Head—check. One head, that was good. The hair wasn't ginger, just a sort of mousy brown, but he could live with that as long as-

Something was wrong. Something was very, very wrong. His hair shouldn't be this long. His hands shouldn't be this—this—well, he couldn't exactly pinpoint it, but his hands were very different. And then there were other... parts...

“I'm a girl,” he—or rather, she—muttered in disbelief. “I am actually, legitimately female this time.”

She felt something stirring within her, an impulse to laugh, to cry out, to do something, but she couldn't quite figure out what. So she stayed silent, knees pulled up to her chest, staring into the distance, that infernal question echoing around in her head. “Doctor who? Who am I this time?”

…..

“Jenna?” She charged through the burned underbrush of the forest in search of her fled companion. “Jenna? Jenna? It's me! Where are you?”

She heard a rustling to her left and moved that way. “Jenna? Jenna, it's me!”

“Who?” a small voice, barely audible, responded somewhat distrustfully.

The Doctor sighed. If there was anything this conversation was certain to be, it was awkward. “Jenna, it's the Doctor.”

There was a pause of disbelief, then the blonde came out from the small nook she had created from a rock, carrying something that looked suspiciously like a blunderbuss. She'd hidden herself well, and she showed no signs of being hurt. That was good. The Doctor couldn't bear the thought of Jenna being hurt on her—his—her behalf.

“Liar,” the girl said with a scowl. She began to raise her blunderbuss.

“Nononono—wait!” she cried, flinging her hands up in the air. “Wait, wait, wait! Remember how I told you I could change my face? Regeneration? I'm fatally wounded, gold glowy light comes out of my body, I turn into a different person, sort of? You remember that?”

“Of course.” Jenna's tone was a little softer, but her grip on the blunderbuss only tightened. “But you—you're a girl, and the Doctor was—is—definitely a guy.”

She shrugged. “It happens. Sometimes. It's a first for me too, if that helps.”

“Still don't believe you.” Jenna clicked off the blunderbuss's safety and put her finger on the trigger.

“Wait! If I'm not the Doctor, then why am I wearing his clothes, hmm?” She tugged at the bow tie around her neck. It was getting to be quite uncomfortable.

“You took them off of him.”

“Why would I do something like that?”

Jenna shot her a condescending glare in that quintessentially Jenna way. The Doctor coughed a little. Jenna moved into a shooting stance and continued to glare.

“Okay, you want me to prove it? I can do that!” she said, eyes glinting with excitement. “I first met you on Christmas Eve at an airport when your plane got delayed by what everybody thought was a blizzard, but was actually the Momeraths trying to kidnap you all for slave labor. You were the first person who actually appreciated my bow tie. We went to 1830s France! Your favorite fruit is the pomegranate! You managed to fool the original inspiration for Sherlock Holmes! You suggested we eat Dalek calamari! You have a fondness for blunderbusses and I would suggest that you put that one down right now or something exceedingly dangerous and stupid is going to happen and I've already been fatally wounded once today, thank you very much!”

There came a pause, longer than the first one, and then Jenna slowly began to lower her gun. As the Doctor made a move toward her, however, she sprinted off in the opposite direction, confused and scared and angry as hell. The Doctor chased after her for a few minutes, screaming her name and telling her to calm down. By the time she had caught up to the girl, Jenna was leaning against a tree, eyes closed and looking remorseful.

"I'm sorry," she says. "It's... it's not you. Not you at all. I just..." She took in a deep breath, blinking back tears. "I think it's time for me to go back home."

And maybe it was.

…..

Her TARDIS was damaged, but not incredibly so, not like the last time. That was a blessing in and of itself. She snapped her fingers and the doors flung open. She walked inside, taking the opportunity to marvel at its wonders with new eyes. Her hand rested on the control lever and she sighed as she felt the vibrations of the ship.

“Hey, old girl,” she murmured. “Glad I'm back?”

The TARDIS continued to hum happily.

“I'm glad, too,” she said, stroking the console. “The Doctor in her TARDIS, off to see and save the universe. Where do I need to go this time, you sexy thing?” She grinned a little. Somehow calling it that seemed both so wrong and so right at the same time, but she was only going to acknowledge the latter emotion. Heaven knows she needed a little more happiness after Jenna... well, just after Jenna.

“You miss her, too, don't you?” she asked the TARDIS, who just kept humming. She missed being able to converse with the ship with mouths, even though she knew that had been a terrible ordeal for both the TARDIS and her. Him. Her. Pronouns were problematic. How had the other Time Lords managed it?

One of the wires from below sparked, snapping the Doctor back to reality. The TARDIS wasn't completely trashed, but it still needed repairs before it could fly. She walked over to the tangle of cords, put on her goggles, and got to work.

At least something was the way it should be.

…..

Regenerating into a female had always been a possibility, if a somewhat rare one, so the Doctor had lots of girl-clothes in storage for both her companions and herself. She moved through to the back of the closet, brushing past long scarves and celery sticks and leather jackets, trying her hardest to ignore Rose's t-shirts and Amy's miniskirts and the multiple variations of Jenna's signature headband. Finally she came to the back of the wardrobe, where a full-size mirror hung on the wall.

She didn't look bad, if a little out of place in her old incarnation's clothes. She was pretty in an understated way, with tussled brown hair and intelligent eyes, about average in height and built. Overall, she gave off the air of a completely normal young woman, easy to blend in with the crowd, unnoticeable until she actually took charge of a situation. The last version of herself had stood out too much, made too many mortal enemies that way. This was nature's way of remedying that.

With this in mind, she picked out clothes for herself that were stylish but commonplace—a pair of faded jeans, a cream-colored v-neck shirt, a denim jacket. Her footwear—slightly worn-out maroon boots—added the perfect splotch of color and eccentricity.

She was still the Doctor, after all. And a girl was allowed to have a little fun.

…..

While she was getting dressed, the TARDIS had decided to take her to Stormcage Containment Facility, 5146 A.D. Whether it was trying to cheer her up or feeling sadistic the Doctor did not know, nor did she particularly want to know.

She went for a visit anyway, parking her TARDIS a couple of hallways away from River's cell. Her past self was here, dropping his wife off after a date at the Meadows of Avalon. The Doctor remembered that, just as she remembered meeting a strange woman in reddish-purple boots afterward. She replayed the conversation in her head and smiled wistfully. Her past self had had absolutely no idea what had gone on.

He was watching River sleep, looking pensive and thinking about the Library, that awful encounter in the Library that had yet to come, and how time could be rewritten. She approached him from behind and slid in next to him, her eyes on the woman in the cell. “Is she asleep?”

“Yes.” He turned to look at her. “Why? Do you know her?”

“Yes. We're very close.” She continued to stare, more into the distance than at River.

“Who are you?” asked the man in the bow tie.

“A friend of River's. You're the Doctor, I presume?”

“That would be me, yes.” He extended his hand. “Pleasure to meet you.”

She didn't take it—not out of rudeness, as her old self had thought, but out of a need to keep her distance. You weren't supposed to cross your own timeline, a rule that the Doctor had broken on many occasions but still felt the need to respect.“Not dead?” she asked.

He looked taken aback. “Excuse me?”

She gave him a mysterious smile. “Sorry, have you not done that yet?” She knew perfectly well that he had already faked his death, but it was easier to pretend that she was like River, living her life in an opposite timestream to his own.

That was indeed the conclusion that he came to. “Are all us time travellers so cryptic?” he said somewhat jokingly.

She shrugged. “It's necessary. To avoid giving spoilers. You understand.”

“That I do.” He checked an imaginary watch on his wrist and moved toward his TARDIS. “I'm sorry, I have to go, got places to be, but nice to meet you!”

“You too.” Her smile faded as she watched the TARDIS dematerialize, remembering what it had felt like to be him and all the pain and loss that was yet to enter his life. She glanced once more at the sleeping River, then walked back to her own TARDIS.

Time was such a complicated matter.

…..

She went to London next, early 21st century—she hadn't been in London for a while now, so maybe the place had changed a bit since her last visit. She sat at a table in one of the small cafés, sipping some coffee—she quite liked coffee now, that was new—and people-watching. Her more subdued appearance allowed for her to view the crowds in a new light; if a dangerous Time Lady lay beneath the mask of an average woman, then what other special people might be walking around unnoticed?

It was very relaxing, sitting and just letting herself go. She didn't need to be running around all the time. Right now what she needed was time to breathe and collect her bearings and settle into her new form.

On the television on the wall, a reporter interrupted whatever commercial was playing in order to deliver some breaking news. “A nuclear power plant just outside of London has, without warning, shut down. The workers are unable to be reached and video footage shows that the building seems to be enveloped in a sort of green gas. Experts have been unable to identify the source of the problem or what this gas might be, but some fear that radiation may be spreading...”

Of course, there were other, more lively ways of settling in.

The Doctor jumped up and ran out of the café, sonic screwdriver in one hand and psychic paper in the other, off to find out what was going on.

…..

“What the hell is going on?”

The Doctor threw the woman her psychic paper without breaking stride and started up the stairs. The woman followed her, hurling similar variants of the same question at her at near lightning-speed. As they reached the second floor landing, the Doctor finally turned around and snapped, “Listen, I'm a thousand-year-old alien time traveller and I need to have a talk with the green gas that's surrounding this building because I have a sneaking suspicion that it may be a hungry sentient asteroid, understand?”

“Okay.”

The Doctor blinked and looked at her again. She was tall and somewhat voluptuous, with dark red hair and almond-shaped hazel eyes. For her part, she just kept walking, eventually passing the Doctor and opening the door for her. She hadn't batted an eye at her explanation.

“Seriously? You just swallowed that?”

“The hell I did. Why would you be lying?” she said.

“Well, I can think of several very creative reasons,” the Doctor started, and she fully intended to list them all when the woman cut her off.

“Look, if you want to go talk to your sentient asteroid, now would be a good time.” Her voice was dripping with sarcasm, which just didn't make sense given what she had said earlier. The Doctor didn't have time to ponder this, however, as she soon found herself in the company of an all-too-familiar presence.

Hello, Time Lord,” a deep baritone rumbled.

“Hello, House,” she replied, grinning despite the inappropriateness of the situation. “And I believe the correct form of address is Time Lady.”

Ah, yes. You've changed your form, I see. That almost threw me off guard—almost.” It chuckled for a moment. “It is of no consequence.”

“How did you even manage to survive this long?” asked the Doctor. “We pushed you out when you were still in the pocket 'verse. You would have starved to death.”

You were foolish to think so, Time Lord.” The Doctor wrinkled her brow—was it going to keep calling her that? “I found another way in. And this is the place where all the food is.” Another laugh. “I can devour the planets, the stars, even the creatures—no, especially the creatures. And I will start with the planet Earth.”

“Why?”

I chose it for many reasons, Time Lord. It is young but it is gaining strength. Its people are easily frightened, easily misled. But most of all, it is precious to you. And I knew there would be a TARDIS on its back sooner or later.” Another laugh. “You tried to starve me. Now I get my revenge. And once you're out of the way, I can eat anything and everything I want.”

“Yeah, good for you!”

The Doctor whirled around to see that redheaded woman leaning against the doorframe. Hadn't she told her to leave? Actually, thinking back, she hadn't. She'd been a little too preoccupied with the new regeneration and the possibility of dealing with House again to give her customary “Get out of here as fast as you can!” line. She swore under her breath.

Who is this, Time Lord? Another one of your human pets?” House said with a laugh. “Did you get tired of your Last Centurion and the Girl Who Waited?”

She struggled to keep her face carefully neutral while rage burned, hot and bright, under her skin. “This is between you and me, House. Leave her and Amy and Rory and everyone else out of it.”

No.”

Dark green gas rose from the floor and began swirling around the two people standing in the room. “You'd better find a way out of this,” the redheaded woman hissed. “I am not planning on dying today.”

“Do you have a weapon on you?” the Doctor asked.

She shook her head. Never thought I'd see the day where I'd miss having a blunderbuss around, the Doctor thought, her mood quickly turning from frustration to sorrow. “Well, what do you have?” she asked.

“Cards, keys, rubber bands, some spare change. And...” She bit her lip. “And a lighter.”

The Time Lady didn't ask any questions. She just held out her palm and, as the woman passed over the metal object, muttered under her breath, “When I signal, run.”

There is no way you are squirming out of this one, Time Lord,” the deep voice growled. The gas was getting thicker and rising higher; the Doctor could barely see. “Already my influence is spreading across your beloved London. Watch as I devour it, as I devour all that is in my path. I am the force of hunger itself. Something so inconsequential as flames cannot touch me.”

The Doctor locked eyes with the redheaded woman and immediately the human sprinted toward the door, which slammed shut just before she could escape. House laughed, chilling both human and alien to the bone. “Trying to save your latest pet, Doctor? Pathetic. No power in the 'verse can stop me. So tell me, Time Lord.” The voice dropped to a stage whisper, in what was surely a mockery of the Doctor's earlier murmurs. “Why shouldn't I just kill you now?”

It was the Doctor's turn to laugh, slowly at first, but eventually rising to a maniacal level. Even House was taken aback. She could sense it in the air. “You keep asking me that question,” she said. “Why shouldn't I just kill you now? Fear me, I've killed hundreds of Time Lords. Such pride in killing. But there's insecurity down there, too. Because what you should be asking is why I shouldn't just kill you now. And my answer is this: I don't have to.” She grinned, igniting the lighter and holding it up for the consciousness to see. “I just need to find a way to push you out.”

And with that, the flame dropped onto the flesh and began to burn it away.

“First twenty-four hours of the regeneration cycle, House!” she shouted with a grin, basking in the golden light as it poured out of the wound and enveloped the green. “And that's Time Lady to you, by the way!

The gas that signaled the sentient asteroid's presence all but vanished in an instant. The Time Lady threw the lighter back at its owner and began to rub her newly-reformed arm. The human woman was catching her breath, back pressed against the wall. The Doctor walked over to her. “Thanks for the lighter.”

“You're welcome... Time... Lady,” she replied, sliding it back into her pocket. “Do you have a name?”

“Call me the Doctor,” she said.

“Rubbish sort of name,” the woman muttered under her breath.

She smiled sadly, remembering the events that had transpired less than a day ago.“I doubt yours is much better.”

“As a matter of fact, I believe it is.” She extended her hand. “I'm Morgan. Morgan Kaylee Serra.”

“That's a lovely name,” the Doctor conceded.

“That it is.” There was a pause. The woman let out a long exhale before saying, “Hell of a dangerous situation that was.”

“Yep,” said the Doctor. Another pause, and then: “Would you like to get into more of them?”

Morgan grinned. “Oh, God, yes.”

…..

“What is that?”

The Doctor scoffed in at least partially genuine indignation. “It's a police box.”

“What's a police box?”

“It's like a miniature police station with a phone on the outside so you can call people,” she explained. “Kind of like a phone booth. They were pretty common until 1969, when they started to phase them out in favor of radios.”

Morgan snorted. “Uh, no offense, Doctor, but why are you showing me this?”

“Step inside.”

“Inside the police box?”

“Yes, of course inside the police box, where else?” She grinned as Morgan skeptically raised an eyebrow. “Don't worry, it's a bit bigger than you'd think.”

The young woman rolled her eyes and pulled open the doors, preemptively muttering something along the lines of “So what?” before fully registering the full expanse of the majestic interior. Then she just looked shocked.

“Welcome to the TARDIS.” The Doctor made a grand sweeping gesture with her arm. “Time and Relative Dimension in Space. Can go anywhere and anywhen you'd like it to, provided that you treat it nicely and don't try to eat any of its parts.”

There was a moment of awed silence before Morgan furrowed her brow. “A bit bigger?” she asked almost accusingly. “You call this a bit?”

“Yep. Just a smidge.” Her grin spread even wider. Understatement's fun, she noted to herself. You should use it more often.

Morgan ambled around the control room, still taking it all in—the impossible technology, alien design schemes, and the riddle wrapped in an enigma that was this woman, this Doctor. She stopped in front of the Doctor and flashed a mischievous smile. “Anywhere in time and space?”

“Anywhere at all,” she replied, hand automatically moving to the controls. “Where do you want to start?”

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