Disclaimer: I own nothing recognizable.
A/N: This one-shot was made for one of Cordria's contests. It won! So I am posting it here.
From One Doctor, to the Next
"Doctor, are you sure about this? Didn't you tell me that humans know so very little of your physiology? Why visit a human doctor if you're ill?"
"Now, now, Sarah, we don't want to go upsetting the timeline again. Who knows how much more it can take, before it snaps! We're here to visit this doctor, at this time, because I remember seeing us here, at this time."
Harry Sullivan's voice chimed in beside her, "Oh, really? When was that, then?"
The Doctor stopped and turned around, outrageously long scarf dramatically swirling with his sudden twist. He held up three fingers as he stared at his companions with freaky big eyes, "All three of my former lives." He turned back around and continued, with Sarah Jane Smith and Harry quickly following, though trying not to step on the scarf.
He really hated when they did.
"Of my last two lives, they were also in the first month when I visited here." The Doctor didn't slow down from his moderate pace as he spoke.
"So, you've visited here before?" Harry asked.
Without glancing back, the Doctor replied, "I've visited here now."
Sarah glanced over and noticed as the newer companion pondered that. Though, she had to admit it was taking her a few minutes to work out what he was saying, as well. "So, what you're saying is... we're going to meet your past selves?"
The group turned a corner and stopped at a door. The fourth Doctor took hold of the doorknob and turned to look at her with a mischievous smile on his face. "Oh, no, Sarah. It's much bigger than that." And with that, he threw open the door.
The Doctor twirled around into the room, landing out of the way to give Sarah and Harry full view of its occupants. And quite a number of occupants there were. Sarah quickly counted nineteen people in the room, apparently waiting to see the human doctor in the office.
Not seeing the easily recognizable third Doctor that she had somewhat expected, she would have questioned what was so special about them. Before she said anything aloud, however, she started noticing a strange pattern about the crowded waiting room. It was nothing she could quite put her finger on, but all the little groups of two or three persons looked eerily similar. With exceptions, each group had a single male who was very oddly dressed, and almost every one of those males had at least one... companion.
Sarah smiled as she realized what was going on.
Harry nearly startled her from her revelation, his confusion evident as he asked, "I don't understand. What's so important about this?"
Without turning to look at him, Sarah answered, "It's him. They're all him."
Looking back at Harry, Sarah saw he was still puzzling it out. She added one more time, "Almost every male in this room is the Doctor. At different times in his life..." Sarah trailed off as she looked back over the now very fascinating room.
Another helpful hint that assisted her realization was that almost all the companions in the room definitely came from different eras, made obvious by both their clothing and attitudes, differences she'd come to understand from traveling through time. This wasn't just going to meet a doctor. This was a Doctor convention. A gathering of a single Time Lord, from different points of his own lifetime.
She turned towards their Doctor. "What are they all here for? Why are there so many of you here at once to see a human physician? Is there something special about him?"
Her current Doctor turned and looked at her blankly for a moment, before answering, "No, not especially. I mean, he is a fairly talented human doctor, as far as that sort of thing goes. More important is his situation and the opportunity it presents."
After a moment of silence from him, Sarah decided to probe for a bit more. "Oh?"
"Yes, you see, in my first life... that's me over there, you see," he pointed at the oldest man in the room, sitting forward and leaning on a cane held out in front of him against the floor. A young girl sat next to him, staring amongst the rest of the room in a quiet curiosity.
As Sarah Jane looked at the man, her Doctor continued, "He... well, you know I mean I, of course... he was investigating a temporal anomaly here in February of year 2021. There was some rubbish business involving a prince, a porcupine, and a pinata, but that's not that important at the moment. The important thing to note is that he, or I, or even we, were infected with the Unirethral virus."
Sarah frowned in worried confusion, but Harry, being a doctor, himself, beat her to the question. "The Unirethral virus? What's that? Is it contagious?"
"No, no, of course not! Why would you ask such a silly question? Obviously it could only be applied directly to one's pancreas. Not contagious at all! It does, however carry a unique trait for those injected. Well, for Time Lords, anyways..."
Harry beat Sarah Jane once more, raising an eyebrow at their alien guide. "And what's that?"
The Doctor smiled as he went into description. After all, this is why he brought companions along on his journeys in the first place. "The Unirethral gives somewhere around a month before its effects become too noticeable, though with the additional drugs in the batch I got, only days were available. But if a victim should find a cure within the first month and a half... or two days, in my case... they're cured for life. Even if that person is dropped in a vat of the virus, it will have no effect on them. What makes this virus so unique for Time Lords, is it carries over into new lives."
Harry blinked a few times before frowning. "New lives?"
Sarah Jane, having traveled with the Doctor a bit longer, suddenly snapped her fingers. "So that's why all of you is here!"
The Time Lord smiled, "Exactly! Every time I regenerate, the defeated virus regenerates with me! I have a month and a half each time to deal with it."
"But why here?" Sarah indicated the crowded waiting room.
The Doctor shrugged. "Why not?"
Harry raised his finger in contemplation, having come up with something now that he got his head around this insanity. "This is where you found the cure, isn't it?"
Another smile lit up the Doctor's face. "Very good, Harry. But you're missing one important detail. I didn't find the cure, I invented it!" The Doctor suddenly jerked back, defensively, "I had to! It would be decades before it was to be found naturally, and with the nature of the temporal anomaly, time travel out of this period would be impossible for another four or five days. I didn't have that sort of time." He paused for a moment. "Speaking of which, I hope you two don't mind staying in this time period for the next couple of days."
Their Doctor turned and pointedly looked at the doorway to the human doctor's office, with an egotistically large name plastered over the shuttered window, Doctor Gregory House. "Anyways, that leads me to the reason we are here of all places! The TARDIS could still physically transport me, and with difficult transmissions to Gallifrey due to the temporal anomaly, I couldn't take the chance of leaving earth."
"A quick search on the TARDIS databanks, however, led me to a very talented diagnostician who just so happened to be retiring this next week! A few more hours of research, and I concluded he was the perfect solution to my problem. I could use his resources to create the cure without having to worry about an oversight committee reviewing everything too carefully, seeing as this is a private clinic he runs with his wife." The Doctor had gone from his normal, loud voice, to a near whisper as he finished the last sentence.
His voice was suddenly booming again as he continued, "And I've never met somebody more willing to keep a secret than a man about to retire!" The Doctor frowned and trailed off as he finished quietly with, "Assuming he has a good pension plan, of course..."
Sarah finally got a chance to interject a question. "So that explains why you came here, seeing as you couldn't let anyone release the cure years earlier and needed someone who wouldn't bother publishing a paper on it. But the thing is, why don't the other Doctors, your other selves, go to the future and get the cure when it's available?"
Their fearless guide spread his arms wide, indicating the whole room, "And miss this reunion within a temporal anomaly, Sarah? Not a chance! I rather enjoy seeing me, me, me, me..."
Sarah laughed as she turned from her alien friend, who was still counting all of his selves present. Harry had smiled and rolled his eyes, turning to meet some of the other companions. Before revealing where they were going, the Doctor had warned them to be careful what they say to anyone there, and reveal nothing important, such as names. But that didn't mean they couldn't have a nice chat with some of them. Sarah smiled at the somewhat shy girl next to the first Doctor and approached the two of them.
As she came near, the young girl gave her a polite smile and indicated the seat next to her. Sarah Jane thanked her as she sat down and shook her hand. "Hello, I'm Sarah Jane Smith, a reporter."
"Hello! My name is... Susan." She had struggled for a moment with her name, almost like she was not used to it and had to recall it to memory. Once she did, however, she seemed satisfied with herself and went back to smiling kindly.
Looking past the slip, the fourth Doctor's companion decided to focus her first questions on the Time Lord of interest sitting next to them. "So, Susan, how did you meet the Doctor?"
"Grandfather? I suppose I've known him all my life. Why do you ask?"
"He's your- your grandfather?" This girl had suddenly become considerably more interesting. "You're a Time Lord?"
She giggled, "Of course."
The Doctor grunted uneasily, "Oh, yes. Why don't we just tell everyone everything about us, hm?" He trailed off with a disapproving side glance to the younger Time Lord.
Susan almost pleadingly said, "Oh, grandfather, there's no need to be rude."
Considering what little she knew about Time Lord aging, Sarah Jane easily found her next question to be, "How old are you?"
"Oh, I'm only just over a hundred. But grandfather and I have already seen so many wonders that I just can't wait to get back out there!" Susan then frowned as she plopped forward on her fists, being held up by her arms locked on her knees. "But we've been stuck with the grumpy man in there for the past few days, creating a cure for the Unirethral virus." She gave a sigh of discontentment.
Looking up and over the Doctor's granddaughter, Sarah smiled as she addressed the old-looking alien in question, "And how do you feel about all this? Meeting all your future selves?"
He looked around the room as he said, "I'm surrounded by dandies and clowns..." He finished his slow glance and looked at her, shaking his head. "My hope for the future is diminished."
He pulled back and gave the reporter the distinct impression he didn't want to be further disturbed. She took the hint and got up, looking for someone else to satisfy her insatiable curiosity.
Sarah Jane took notice of the only person in the room who was alone, a man who was bent forward in his seat and seemed to be glaring steadily at the floor. He had a very closely shaved head, at least compared to everyone else in the room, and had an intense, anti-social atmosphere surrounding him. She was almost certain he was a Doctor, but his personality and look was far from what one might expect. He didn't seem to want to be anywhere near the other occupants of the room, who were all far more jovial than he. Although, he did seem to have abnormally large ears.
She walked up to him and sat down, adjusting herself to the hard chair. With far more guests than usual, the waiting room was lined with extra chairs, though they were far less comfortable. Sarah Jane sat still for a minute, disappointed that he had not even acknowledged her presence. She decided to draw his attention by quietly saying, "Hello."
The Doctor sighed heavily and leaned back, rubbing his face with his hands. "Hello, Sarah Jane."
She smiled. "I see you remember me in your... which regeneration is this?"
The Doctor snorted before replying, almost bitterly, "Ninth."
Sarah Jane nodded. "Ah. So, you're pretty far up there. Care to do a little gossiping and tell me who's who in this room?"
The ninth Doctor looked at her, raising an eyebrow questioningly before shrugging. "You've already met the first Doctor, and you already knew the third and fourth. The third's not here right now, but that's nothing to worry about. That's the second me, over there," he said, pointing towards a cheerful, silly fellow with thick, rumpled dark hair and wearing a bow tie while playing a recorder. He had frequently been purposely bumping into the Doctor next to him when the latter was not looking, then claiming it was an accident. The other Doctor shook his frizzy blonde hair in frustration and crossed his arms while complaining to a young woman with dark hair.
Seeing where her attention was, the ninth Doctor continued Sarah Jane's lesson with the other Doctor. "That one's the sixth Doctor. I was a bit more egotistical back then than usual, and that's saying something."
Sarah Jane held back a laugh, "Oh, believe me, I know."
The Doctor smiled, just a little, and looked to be enjoying himself. But then he strangely grew serious all of a sudden, and went on with the introductions. "Anyways, that over there is my seventh form. And over here," the Doctor leaned out just a bit to point around a group of two that had yet to be introduced. Sarah Jane followed suit. "That's my fifth regeneration. I played a mean cricket back then," he said, winking. Then he sat back and heaved a sigh out of his chest, before pointing at a curly-haired man across the room. "And that was my last form. The eighth Doctor. Doesn't have a clue to what's coming."
Sarah almost asked what he meant by that, but then thought better of it. He seemed like he was tired of visiting, and was ready for her to leave him alone. He looked like... such a sad man the way he was at this point in his life.
After a moment of silence, the Doctor seemed to remember he hadn't completely finished. "Anyways, that's all the Doctors that came before me. The skinny, gangly fellow next to us," he pointed at the couch on the other side of a plant between them, "is the tenth Doctor, near as I can tell. The eleventh is currently getting worked on in there," he pointed at the office for Dr. House. "And there's only thirteen total. I don't know if I ever mentioned that to you before."
Sarah Jane shook her head in reply, then attempted to recall if he'd mentioned a thirteenth Doctor, but could not. She hesitated before asking, "So, where's thirteen?" The Doctor shrugged, turning away from her. She got the feeling he was done conversing.
"Excuse me!" Sarah called out to the general populace in the room, loud enough to be heard, but quiet enough to not be intrusive. "Could anyone tell me what happened to the thirteenth Doctor?"
One of the other Doctors, the eighth, spoke up. "No one ever knows what happened to unlucky thirteen, it has twelve a bit worried." Although the words implicated something bad, none of the Doctors seemed to particularly care. At least, not as much as she would if she found out her future could be in jeopardy. At least the twelfth Doctor was said to care.
Now that she thought about it, the ninth Doctor hadn't even mentioned who twelve was.
"Which one's twelve?" Sarah Jane once again addressed the room.
"Oh, that would be mine!" a voice called out in response.
Sarah Jane tracked it to a young woman with curly brown hair held up in a bun. She was sitting and had apparently been deep in gossip with another girl, about her age, who had fiery red hair. "And you are?"
The girl smiled. "River Song. My Doctor was the first to get checked out, now he's gone to pick up the third. There was some trouble with the TARDIS in his first month, I'm afraid."
The girl that River had been talking with snorted. "Like the Doctor's ever not having trouble with the TARDIS?"
Sarah Jane looked at the red-head. "And who are you?"
"Amy Pond," she said, thrusting her hand out. "I'm with eleven."
Sarah Jane smiled as she shook hands with the girl. "He's the one currently in there, right?"
"Yep, taking his time as usual." Amy rolled her eyes before commenting, "Any longer and I'll be getting flashbacks to when I was seven."
Ignoring the comment she obviously wasn't meant to understand, Sarah Jane turned and looked at the door to the mysterious House's office. "I wonder what they're doing in there?"
"I really don't see why it's necessary to poke me with needles to draw blood when you've already got two samples."
A few feet away, House flicked the bubbles to the top of the syringe and then pushed the air out, apparently choosing not to respond immediately to his slightly nervous patient. The eleventh Doctor felt nervous, watching that shiny, very thin needle moving about so much. He also felt very cold, with his jacket, shirt, and even his cool bow-tie lying over by the doorway. He passed the obviously abnormally long seconds, that must be due to the anomaly, by making a resolution to not ever get attacked by a virus again.
The Doctor also decided he didn't like doctors, if they were all anything like this House, and he would have to change his name immediately upon leaving here.
"It's necessary to take your blood," the eternally grumpy human doctor answered, "because several of its properties change when you... whatever it is you aliens do. Degenerate."
"There are billions of species running about the galaxy, and very few are capable of such an amazing feat, so I'd hardly refer to ALL aliens, in general. The Time Lords are the main ones to use it. And we don't DEgenerate, we REgenerate!" The Janitor! He could go by the Janitor!
House snorted. "That's arguable. Seems the more times you do it, the dumber you get." The human stopped and took a step back, looking at his patient with his head cocked to the side. "And the more deformed, too. I can suggest a plastic surgeon for your head, if you want." House managed to get a glare out of the usually oddly happy patient.
"My head... is perfectly fine. It's that big to hold all the knowledge in my brain." No, not the Janitor! That's silly. Who would want to go by the name, the Janitor?
The Doctor flinched as he suddenly felt Dr. House grab his arm with one hand, holding it steady, and using the other hand to roll up the alien's shirt sleeve. "Are you sure you know what you're doing?" the Doctor asked suspiciously. He felt House wrap a plastic band around his arm. It cut off circulation just a bit and the Time Lord suddenly felt a little off balance.
As the feeling of wet cloth dabbed his upper arm, House replied, "No, I thought it'd be fun to poke needles in aliens without checking to see if their biology could handle it. I figured if you survive, we could move on to anal probes." The human doctor stopped just before sticking the needle in, leaning around to seriously look his patient in the face. "You do have one of those, don't you? Or, do you have two of them, as well?" the pesky doctor asked mockingly, raising an eyebrow.
The Doctor rolled his eyes. "Humans and your- aghhh!" A stabbing prick in his arm had him jerk, not having expected it right then. He could feel it sitting between his skin cells, as it drew precious Time Lord blood from his arm into its small, plastic cylinder. He glared at the smirking doctor. "You didn't warn me."
House smirked. "You Time Lords sure get whiny in your old age."
The Doctor watched as House dabbed a tiny bit of his Time Lord blood onto a small glass slide and stuck it under a microscope. As the human doctor stared into the machine, pausing every few moments to take notes, the alien Doctor stared around the shiny white room. He was quickly discovering that in this particular life, he didn't care much for medical rooms. Too quiet. Too clean. Too... sanitized. And most certainly too cold!
The Doctor took a couple of deep sniffs with his nose. There was hardly anything to smell except a faint trace of rubbing alcohol, which he quickly found to be distasteful. Rocking back and forth, the Doctor quickly counted how many bones of the human body were displayed on a poster on the wall, then looked at some of the other posters. He frowned after searching for something and failing to find it, wondering how humans lived without that particular function. Could they really call it living?
The Time Lord sighed and tried to find some other way to entertain himself. He looked once more to the broken clock on the wall, obviously much too slow and seemed to move even slower as he watched it. Even worse was it seemed stuck going in one direction...
"Ughhh! What on earth could you be doing that takes so long?"
House gritted his teeth as he answered calmly, rolling his eyes into the microscope, "It hasn't even been two minutes. And if all of you are going to be this impatient, I'll slip just enough aspirin into your "cure" to have you throwing up for weeks."
"That is NOT how we deal with toxicants! Time Lord physiology causes a completely different process than humans when dealing with poison to our body."
"Is it pleasant?"
The Doctor frowned. "Not precisely, no."
"Good enough for me," House countered, smiling in mockery for a quick moment. The Doctor may not have been able to see the human's facial expression with his back turned towards the Time Lord, but he could certainly feel it. The alien crossed his arms and looked away in a near pout.
Doctor House slowly sat up straight from peering into the microscope, the sound of pops and creaks from his body filling the otherwise silent room. His body was aged enough to make the Doctor wonder why the man hadn't retired sooner. He doubted it involved money. Maybe House just enjoyed insulting people too much to give up seeing patients. The Time Lord could hear the human's desire to mock even when he held himself back, which someone had obviously gone to great lengths to convince him to do. The grimace of not being able to speak frankly was almost as constant as the one related to his hurt leg.
With little doubt that the man's medical skills was the only reason he still had patients in the first place, the Doctor went back to thinking up a new name.
The human doctor grunted as he finished working. "I had to slightly alter the formula for an increased white blood cell count in your successor. Looks like yours is a little lower, so I altered another one of the original samples to compensate. Drink this," House handed him a cup with a pale purple sticky substance, "and that should do you until next time. About half an hour ago."
The alien looked at him with narrowed eyes as he took the cup and stood, more than ready to leave. "Thank you," he said before drinking it in one gulp, then scowling at the taste. Maybe he should change his name to the Dentist! Dentists were a good experience for people, right?
"All right, let's go deal with the next one of you," House sighed dramatically as the two headed for the waiting room. "Hey! If I go out there and kill the first one, does that automatically mean that I didn't have this big waste of time for the past hour?"
As he left, the Time Lord decided that he'd just have to go by the Doctor, if for no other reason than to give them a good name.
Sarah Jane had just started to approach the thinnest Doctor of the group... the tenth one, if she recalled correctly, when the door to the doctor's office opened and out strode two men. Recalling that the Doctors seemed to get younger as they got older, she quickly deduced that the one with the oddly shaped head was the eleventh Doctor. It also helped that the other wore a lab coat with the tag labeled "House" pinned on it, and he had a slight limp as she'd been told to expect.
"Congratulations to me. I have once again kept a really old alien from dying. I'd probably be more impressed with myself if it wasn't the same one." The human doctor didn't really look impressed with himself, but rather rolled his eyes like he was dealing with idiots.
Either not noticing or not caring, Amy shot up out of her seat and strolled over to meet the eleventh Doctor, asking in a voice that sounded like a mix of peppy, sarcasm, and patronizing, "So, how was it?"
The Doctor she was looking at turned and glanced back at House, before turning back towards her with a frown. He replied in an almost pouty voice, "His bedside manner is terrible."
"Oh," she punched his arm. "You'll live." She finished with a wink added to her restrained smile.
Dr. House tilted his head as he said, "Well, at least for one more life." Then he turned and addressed the room in general, "NEXT!"
Sarah Jane sighed as she watched the tenth Doctor stand and step towards him, discreetly squeezing the hand of the blonde who was sitting with him. The reporter found herself speaking her thoughts out loud, "I wish we knew where thirteen is, he seems to be just one big mystery." And if there was one thing Sarah Jane Smith hated, it's never finding out the secret behind a mystery.
House snorted as he commented, "Thirteens usually are." He didn't clarify what he meant, and Sarah didn't want to push. The man had an air about him that just said shut up, you're all idiots! He actually fit right in with most of the Doctors in the room.
"He's probably dead anyway," House continued out of nowhere, voice sounding grim. "Tripped in some gutter on some planet in the middle of nowhere. An alien mugger probably stole his hearts to sell on the black market." He suddenly turned bright and happy as he said in a chipper voice, "One less patient for me to worry about."
Sarah Jane felt her jaw drop in shock. She'd never heard anyone so callous about such a horrible fate. "What an awful thing to say! You sound as if you have no heart in you, Dr. House." She crossed her arms as she looked at him in disapproval.
Some random Doctor, she couldn't tell which, loudly stated, "He seems pretty heartless to me."
House looked mock wounded. "Awww, do you want to let me borrow one of yours?" He put his face into a pout, before snapping back to his near permanent annoyed look. "In case you've forgotten, I'm not getting anything out of this little get together of yours, and I'm sacrificing my own supplies. If you want the healing power of my magic hands and what they can do with standard medical supplies, I'd be careful not to hurt my feelings, if I were you. You do know I retire next week, right?" The sarcastic smile he'd put on while talking dropped into an almost snarling face.
Sarah Jane was taken aback for a moment, before realizing his leg pain must've gotten worse for a moment. The man's face quickly calmed into his really annoyed look, before he turned around to address the tenth Doctor.
Before he could, the tenth Doctor got onto him for the same reason Sarah was tempted to. "Is your leg bothering you?" At the lack of answer he received, the Doctor pressed on. "That's why your retiring, isn't it? You can't handle the pain anymore. It's grown worse."
House pretended to be shocked. "Oh, gee, Sherlock! How'd you ever guess? I suppose the fact that you witnessed yourself asking the same question nine times doesn't factor in, does it?"
The Doctor pursed his lips in submission. This human was really quick to see through lies and sleight of hand, even that of the Doctor's. "Be that as it may..."
House gave an melodramatic sigh as he said, "Look, the leg's going to be taken care of okay? It's just an infection that got out of hand, I'll be fine. Now let me treat you all so you can get out of my hair, whatever little is left, or you can find someone else to deal with you bunch."
"Who are you going to have take a look at your leg, then?" The tenth Doctor frowned suddenly as the human turned his back on him, suspicion lacing his tone as he asked, "You're not diagnosing yourself, are you?"
House spun and nearly shouted in an over dramatic tone, "Dammit, Jim! I'm a doctor, not an idiot!" He then turned back around to head for his office door, rolling his eyes as if he shouldn't be bothered with such a stupid question. "I've got someone coming in to take a look before long. A friend of a friend, or whatever nonsense Cuddy called it. Try not to abduct him or probe him or anything when he comes by, will you?"
Another voice chimed in. It was either the seventh or eighth Doctor, Sarah Jane couldn't remember which. "You know, I'm beginning to find your manner quite reprehensible. You're worse than I was in my sixth life!"
"I AM right here, you know!"
"Oh, believe me, we know."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
While that argument had started, ten and Dr. House continued their fussing over each other as well. Yet another argument took place between two more Doctors, though the reporter didn't quite catch the details of this one. Sarah Jane couldn't keep up with who was saying what, anymore.
It had all quickly degenerated into childish bickering with half the people in the room participating. Even the red-headed companion, Amy, was egging on two of the older-looking Doctors, enjoying their intense verbal sparring and frequently asking, "Are you just going to take that from him?" It was all getting to be too much.
They were suddenly interrupted as the door to the hallway opened and a white-haired older gentleman wearing a lab coat and tie, covered by a raincoat, rolled in, shaking the rain off his umbrella. Apparently, a storm had started during all of this.
He looked like a very nice old man, though he did seem a little off with the roller blades on his feet. After taking in the room and its occupants, frozen in argumentative stances, the man gave a brilliant and kind smile. "Hello! My name is Dr. Mark Sloan, I'm here to treat a sick doctor. Who here would be a doctor?"
Around the room, a dozen hands slowly raised up and Sarah Jane couldn't help but let loose a laugh.