By Any Other Name
Fandom: Doctor Who
Rating: PG (to be safe)
Characters: Alternate/Original Doctor, Rose Tyler(ish)
Disclaimer: Property of the BBC. No profits made.
Beta: None, though that would've been a damn good idea, don't you think?
Spoilers: If you've seen up through Journey's End, you're fine.
Summary: The Doctor's regeneration takes an alarming turn.
Author's Note: I'm sorry... The muses wouldn't leave me alone, and since they haven't talked to me in years I jumped at the chance to write something. Spawned from an interview with Billie Piper. It's not something I would ever want to see as canon, but I couldn't help but think it would make a rather disturbing crack!fic. I'd actually intended to have this done for Halloween, but Real Life got in the way. I have no idea what events lead up to this; use your own imagination.
He dies with her name on his lips. His final word, unable to escape the smoke-roughened air passages, his once-mighty gob finally silenced. But his cracked, bleeding lips form the single syllable nonetheless, shaping his last exhalation into the beloved name.
Vision darkens, blots out the sight of ruined console room. As he awaits the inevitable, he thinks of her. He remembers her as he had last seen her: mature and confident, her body leaner, but still soft in all the right places. And oh, so alive. He can let this body go, knowing he has kept her safe, and can pass that guardianship to the duplicate who can live the life he cannot. The Doctor and Rose. Together. Forever.
Then conscious thought is driven from his mind as his body ignites, a heat that begins in his chest and spreads outwards, cleansing flames that sweep through his broken form, searing away the damage and simultaneously generating new flesh. Bone compresses, organs shift, blood vessels and nerve endings realign themselves. The pain is tremendous, building in intensity until it finally reaches an agonizing crescendo that would've killed had it not ended so quickly. And then awareness returns, and he realizes he's curled into a tight ball on the floor.
He keeps his eyes squeezed shut, not yet ready to face the brilliance of timelines newly born, an infinite web of potential radiating from a body that has yet to make a real decision. To a mind still raw and sensitized from its reconfiguration, the sight is dazzling, blinding.
It always made him go a little bit mad at first, until actions taken made his future begin to gel.
The nerves in his tender new flesh protest the feel of the metal grating biting into his side, finally spurring him into action. Timelines in which he lies comatose on the floor until starvation claims him begin to dissipate. His eyes open, and more timelines wink out of existence. Without moving, he stretches his senses to assess this new body.
He's smaller, he senses immediately. The cuffs of his shirt reach his fingertips, and his trainers are loose on his feet. He frees them from the canvas without needing to untie them, and examines his dainty feet with their well-formed toes and nails critically. They're smooth and hairless, their only flaw a small mole by the first joint of his right big toe. He wriggles them experimentally, and feels oddly relieved. Small, but functional.
He unkinks his body, straightening limbs that scream in protest. He's getting too old, he realizes; he never used to be this sore after a regeneration, and he finds himself reluctant to get to his feet, his dainty little feet, and further tax the new muscles. Fortunately, the flames have died to embers, and the ventilation system has already cleared the smoke. A feather-light touch against his mind assures him that the TARDIS is battered but not broken, and it is endeavoring to make this regeneration as smooth as possible.
So he decides to remain on the floor until the aches recede, and investigates this small new body. Small, yes, but there is a peculiar tightness to his clothes across his chest and hips. Not unexpected, considering the uncommon skinniness of his previous body, but the contrast of 'too loose' and 'too tight' is intriguing.
He runs his hands down his chest, attempting to smooth down the silk stretched taut over his chest, where his tie is nestled between two peculiar mounds of cloth. His fingers instead encounter soft globes of flesh, and he stops, startled.
Oh. That's different.
But is he a woman, or victim of a regeneration gone dreadfully wrong? Always a possibility; considering his complete lack of control over the process, he considers himself lucky that he's consistently been humanoid.
Exploratory fingers moved lower, where wide hips have stretched the material of his pants over his groin, and new lips curve in a frown. Yep, 'she' is definitely the pronoun she'll have to use from now on. All right, she can adjust. What are a few extra curves to one who has been tall, short, slender, stocky, young, old… Female is just a variation she hasn't yet experienced.
Finally, she feels up to taking her first steps. She grabs the edge of the console and hauls herself to her feet, using it to keep her balance as she discovers an entirely new center of gravity. The TARDIS thrums its encouragement, but there is an undercurrent of concern. Something has unsettled the ship, and she glances around, thinking at first the problem is mechanical.
The lighting is dim, a diffuse amber with a turquoise undertone. It's a wonder the ship has power at all, considering the damage taken, but closer examination proves the damage is superficial; the critical systems are still online.
The TARDIS will be planet-bound for some time, as it initiates its repair protocols and she jury-rigs parts to replace what the ship cannot repair. One of the magnificent coral stanchions is on its side, punching a hole in the metal grating, and the jump seat will have to be scrapped, but all in all, the ship has survived better than its pilot.
With nothing demanding her immediate attention – and any repairs made so soon after a regeneration likely to do more harm than good – she pads off towards the wardrobe with its full length mirrors, mindful of her bare feet in the debris-strewn hallway.
She ignores the siren call of the clothes racks, which beg her to make a selection that will define her, armor her against the universe. She heads instead towards a mirror draped with a multi-colored scarf, curious to see what she has become. She still has her hearts set on ginger, though that desire isn't so strong this time around. She hesitates, and wonders at this body's reluctance to see herself. Is she vain, she wonders? Will this regeneration be filled with worrying over her hair, or whether her make-up is applied correctly? Then she huffs out a laugh; she doesn't think she's the type to wear make-up. She calms herself, takes a deep breath, then draws aside the obscuring scarf to reveal her reflection.
What she sees causes her hearts to stop, her breath to escape in a gasp of horror.
Her hair is a tawny gold, falling around her shoulders in waves. Large brown eyes, darker than she remembers but flecked with amber, stare out from under elegant eyebrows. Her mouth is wide, sensuous, and with a start, she notices her tongue is caught between her teeth in an achingly familiar gesture.
Her body is a touch more slender, a few centimeters taller, but there's no mistaking that face.
That final word, and the wealth of emotion it encompassed, has shaped her, changed her irrevocably.
"No," she whispers in that much-loved voice, "not possible."
But it is. A final thought can turn an elegant explorer into a rough-hewn soldier, and the bitter warrior into a seemingly carefree wanderer.
Within, she may be the Doctor, the Oncoming Storm, the Destroyer of Worlds, the last of an ancient race. But no matter the name, there is no denying who she has become.
She is Rose Tyler.
The Doctor and Rose. Together. Forever.
I'm sorry… I'm so, so sorry…
There was an interview with Billie Piper in which she was asked if she'd be willing to come back to Doctor Who in some form or other, perhaps even as the Doctor. Fortunately, she shot down that idea pretty quickly. That would just be wrong. So, so wrong… Though I'd be amused to see how shippers handle it.