Title: (Three out of) Forty-Six Ways
Pairings: 1/10, 5/9, 6/10
Notes: Something sweet-ish, bitter, and weird, in that order. I may be participating in necromancy here, but it would be a shame to let this comm die entirely. Have some drabbles.
He’d been old. How weird was that? These days he’s lucky to see a solid century before he kills himself in some spectacular and, let’s face it, often avoidable fashion. But no, he’d got through Academy and exile and schoolteachers and Daleks and Cybermen and eventually his body just… gave out. How odd.
That wouldn’t be for several decades, though, and when he runs into himself at the old junkyard he’s rude and snobbish but very much alive.
The Doctor's in a maintenance closet, looking for a way to re-route life support. Ten minutes before there's no air in the chamber holding the TARDIS, and he can't make heads or tails of the row of switches in front of him. Then there are footsteps.
“Oh, you,” someone says behind him. “Last thing I bloody needed right now.”
The Doctor starts and tries to move out of the way, but there’s a hand holding his wrist and an arm locked around his shoulder. He turns as far as he can, trying to get a look at his attacker but can’t see much beyond close-cropped hair and a leather jacket.
“No, you're not leaving. What are you doing here?”
The Doctor stays calm. He has had centuries of feeling threatened and this man hasn’t even hurt him yet. “Trying to prevent a disaster.” It hadn’t started that way, but it had gotten there pretty fast.
“So am I, and I don’t remember ever doing it before,” the man says. The Doctor realizes why his telepathic presence is so familiar.
“It’s not generally good practice to hold your past regenerations hostage.”
That gets a single bark of laughter. “Guess not.” He has next to no warning when the man shoves him forward, still holding his wrist, in a move that leaves him neatly pressed against the wall in front of him. The man steps forward and puts his arms on either side of the Doctor’s head. Short hair. Very distinct features. Almost grey eyes. A lot of pain.
The Doctor says, “You’re still holding me hostage.”
The Doctor says, “Yeah, and that’s ‘cause I have a good memory of what happened when I was you, and I don’t remember any of this.”
The ebb and flow of Time around him is far more solid than it should be, too definite and crisp. It's a sign, the Doctor knows, of something enormous, something inevitable. He can't place when it happened, or will happen, and it unnerves him. Imminent disaster is something the Doctor sees every week. This is different.
“You could have wiped my memory, right now, and gone off to save the galaxy.”
“What are you going to do then?”
Silence. Then, “Haven’t a clue.”
They stare at each other some more. The Doctor has to stop himself from talking right away, because the question on the tip of his mind is ‘What's wrong with me?’, and even if his future self could answer he doesn’t want to know.
The Doctor has made contact with his mind, their foreheads now pressed together. No 'contact' or dump of memories and information, just a simple, open connection. The trouble is, there's nothing going through it.
The Doctor says, very quietly, “What do you want?”
“You know.” A plea. Tell me.
“Tell you what?”
“Say my name.”
Try again not that one.
The desperation in his eyes is just enough. The Doctor says his true name, voice and mind.
“Thanks,” the Doctor says, his voice rough.
“You’d better get on preventing that disaster,” he says, stepping away from the wall. "Third from the left, two down. Flip it up, then hit the right-hand green switch."
The Doctor would like to protest, but he’s gone too quickly, leaving only the psychic aftertaste of ashes.
“Oh come off it. It’s not like you’ll get another chance at someone who’s your intellectual equal. Not in that outfit.”
His sixth regeneration looks terribly affronted. The Doctor grins. He so remembers that look. It didn’t feel that self-righteous from the other side.
Nor did the kiss feel that clumsy or that sudden, and he definitely didn’t notice how he’d knocked himself back against the wall, slamming his head on a rondel. He’d thought his older regeneration sinking to the floor had been a reflection on his skills. Which it still is, he thinks, a little giddy. Sort of.