Hope, Luck, And Other Ways Of Arriving At 21


Notes: This is not soon-to-be-canon Eleven. Also, the title is more than slightly punnish; crossing the Void the way I propose is undoubtedly a gamble (21 being another name for the card game Blackjack), and Ten plus Eleven equals 21.


The Doctor dashes around the copse of truffula trees, feels his (probably worn out) Chucks skid through their recently fallen pinkish-orange feathery leaves, is reminded of that time he and Peri fought that sentient (and unfortunately well-used and thus miffed) giant wad of bubblegum in the year 7724 on Durlana, remembers a similar time when Leela became frustrated while trying (and failing) to fight a custard-colored silicon-based life form in the Delta Quadrant, dodges under a flaming arrow and around two more, thinks that some lemon custard with custard creams in would be a delightful post-running-for-his-regeneration snack, quickly gets out his key and snatches open the TARDIS door only to slam it quickly behind him, only a scant few inches away from the exceedingly restless natives, and is just taking a long breath of relief when it gets stuck in his throat as he comes face to face with himself.

Thankfully it's not Five, again; as much as he'd liked being that bloke, it had almost taken too long to convince him that he was him. Hopefully this one won't take as much convincing. Especially since this one probably came looking for him. This regeneration looks somewhat-not-entirely-like a young Sean Connery, with long Mel-Gibson-as-William-Wallace-esque waves of dark hair cascading over denim-jacketed shoulders. He's wearing a black one-piece coverall with more bronze-zippered pockets than the TARDIS has rooms, has five or six silver rings in each ear, and a short, angry red scar on his left cheekbone, which must be a remnant of the regeneration.

For not being ginger, he doesn't look half natty. Not too pretty, and his ears and nose are both a decent size, at least.

"Hallo," the Eleventh Him (probably eleventh; he doesn't feel too much older – though at least a century, so he's made it longer than most of him) says, and lounges back against the console. This one sounds Welsh. Still British, then, though the Doctor has no idea why. Lots of planets have a North, but he's never figured out why his accents are always from Earth.

Still…Scottish appearance, Welsh accent, Cockney mannerisms and cyber-grunge fashion sense. Rassilon, he hopes this regeneration is a long way off. He hasn't had to cope with this much chaos in his dress sense in over three regenerations. Question marks, an opera cape, a celery boutonnière…at least they'd all been spread out over different regenerations.

"Hullo," the Doctor replies faintly, and unconsciously starts thinking of himself as Ten, again. Hasn't done that since the first few weeks of this regeneration.

Since Rose was still having a problem with his changing on her, and thus inadvertently reminding him at every moment that he wasn't who he used to be – Nine.

"What're you doing here, then?" he demands rather more brusquely than he might have if the memories didn't hurt so much. Then again, at his age, all the memories hurt.

Except when they don't, which is rather too infrequently for his liking. Even talking about the good times with Martha had hurt, though not as much as normal.

Eleven sends him a patently pretend puzzled look, then rolls his eyes and folds his arms over his chest. "What do you think? 'M here to rescue Rose."

Ten is rattled by the answer. No, no, it can't be, it's impossible… "We'd need two Time Lords for that."

Eleven arches an eyebrow, looking ever-so-haughty, and so superior, like that 'friend' of Jack's, Mr. Jones. "And what am I then, human?" he asks imperiously. "Haven't been through a Chameleon Arch in longer than you have."

It's impossible… But – Jack is an impossible thing. But he is, and who knows that better than him? The Eleventh him, and the Tenth him, together – and that is two Time Lords.

Rassilon, it just might be possible.

He wonders if Rose had liked this one, despite the even odder appearance. Did she find him sexy? Because, though Ten's trying very hard not to think on it, obviously the Eleventh him remembers (from his Tenth self) coming back so they could rescue Rose.

And obviously it worked. If it hadn't…well, that is still possible, since Eleven would have had to come back anyway, in order to preserve the timelines, but…

But Jack's undeserved, yet freely given, forgiveness had taught him hope, again. Eleven's old enough that Rose might not have lived through the regeneration with him, but she'll meet him soon, when they go to rescue her (well, retrieve her; she's not in danger. Not like Ten's heart is with her missing from it.).

Hopefully.

Ten nods, jerkily, to the question long since past and pastes a not-at-all shaky smile on his face. "Quite right, too. Let's not waste time, shall we?"

Eleven's smirk is shadowed by the dulled grief in his eyes – but lighted by the anticipation, most likely of seeing Rose one last, first, time. "Really are a rude one, aren't you?" he says, and turns to the Time Rotor without waiting for a response.

"You should know," Ten shoots back, then dashes for the console and pumps the Helmic regulator, shifting aside as Eleven moves to activate the Zeiton crystals. Everything's happening all at once, fast as possible; no need to even really discuss things first, because they understand each other on a fundamental level impossible with other people.

The one bright spot of meeting and interacting with himself.

"None better than you, though," Eleven volleys back, before cracking a grin that reminds him of Nine.

"Too right, too right," Ten agrees, then pauses as Eleven sprints for the door. He's obviously going to get into his own TARDIS – well, same TARDIS, different time – and though they can't get Rose back without two Time Lords in two separate TARDISes, Ten's still a bit hesitant to let Eleven out of his sight.

It's not the same as having another Gallifreyan around, having another of his regenerations there. But still, there's a pulse in his mind where there was only silence before (except in that Year That Only Was For Him And A Few Others).

And soon, he'll feel the pulse of one of those few, rare humans that's gotten inside both of his hearts.

Sparing a quick prayer to the universe for luck, Ten vents the Thermo-buffer and inputs the correct calculations to link his TARDIS with Eleven's. Even she is humming with anticipation, and Ten can't blame her.

He was lucky enough to have Rose in his life once; hopefully he'll be lucky enough to find her again.


THE END