Author's Notes: If you're reading this story, and you haven't read my other fic, Always Another Way, then go and do that real quick. One chapter long and it goes down a treat. If you don't, there's a twenty to one chance you won't know what's going on in this story. Or maybe you will. Maybe the person reading this fic is actually a bit clever. But then what's a clever person like you doing reading fanfiction in the first place? Anyway, I had fun writing Always Another Way, more than I expected. Retconning a bit of Doctor Who continuity that ticked me off was surprisingly entertaining. I decided to continue on from the ending of that story, to see if the Eleventh Doctor would handle the events of this story any differently than the Tenth. Let's find out, shall we?
It was a snowy day in Victorian London. Made sense, because it was late December and global warming hadn't kicked in yet.
With a wheeze and a grind and a roar from another world, the TARDIS materialized under a stone bridge on a street corner.
The door swung open and out stepped a young man in a brown suit, trying to keep his long brown coat from falling off as it had suddenly become a bit big on him. He smiled when he saw the snow falling.
"Ahh, brilliant!" he exclaimed. "Love a bit of snow! Come on, Donna! Let's have a looksy!"
Donna had put on a newer, heavier jacket in the interim journey, and she stepped outside glad she had, but she was more focused on the man before her. "Doctor, are you sure you're alright?"
"'Course I'm alright! I'm always alright!" he said with a grin.
Donna gave him a stern look, and he deflated slightly.
"Okay, I'm not always alright. In fact, there have been lots of times I've been very much not all right. But I am all right now. Look: snow! I love snow!"
"Yeah, yeah, pretty. Look, mister, you just changed your whole body. I don't know much about this regeneration lark, but it can't be that nice."
"The process itself isn't pleasant, no, but the aftereffects… Well, actually they can be rather bad too, but I'm fine now! Honestly! Fit as a tuba! Wait, no, that's not right. Which instruments feel good?"
"Wind instrument? Percussion?"
"Doctor, you're not well. You can't go gallivanting off into some weird time period. What if something happens to you?"
"Nothing'll happen. I just – argh!" he said as he suddenly clutched his chest and fell to his knees in the lovely snow.
Donna knelt down by his side in an instant. "See, what'd I tell you?"
"No, no, I'm fine! It's okay!" the Doctor moaned. "This is all perfectly normal!" And then he spasmed again and froze. His mouth unhinged and he released a small flow of golden dust from his mouth.
They watched it float away and vanish the air.
"What the hell was that?" Donna asked.
"Leftovers," the Doctor mumbled, looking at his hands, which were giving off a faint glow. "I'm still cooking."
"I'm not done yet. Insides are still changing, shifting, migrating and so forth. Just need to catch my breath. Little fresh air will do me good. Just walk about, mill around and can you hear Christmas carols?"
Donna looked at him and then listened carefully.
It was a Christmas carol.
The Doctor grinned. "Must be Christmastime!" he exclaimed, and in one movement, he was back on his feet. "How appropriate! The last time I regenerated, my first stop was Christmastime! And you and I met on Christmas! It's like an anniversary of something or other!"
Donna stared at him incredulously before grinning slightly. "Guess it is a bit, yeah. I dunno. I lost the ability to keep track of time ever since I threw in with you."
"Yeah, that happens. So many different time zones, I swear. I forgot how old I am centuries ago, or maybe it was minutes ago. Not sure. Time is relative, and I travel so much. So many different worlds with so many different concepts of time. Some planets have no concepts of time. Am I talking too fast, Donna Noble?"
"A bit, yeah," Donna said, holding up her finger and thumb together.
"Yeah, to sum up, wibbly wobbly timey wimey, or words to that effect. Now then, Christmas! Shall we have a nice relaxing Christmas?"
And they interlocked arms and headed out into the town square.
It was bustling. Working Class London at it's finest. The whole place was busy and bustling. Vendors trying to sell them things, a group of lads laughing together, girls working away, crones, braziers, beggars, smoke, steam, and even a chicken.
The Doctor grinned at it all. This is why he traveled.
They stopped to look at the carolers and listened to the jolly song they were singing.
"Beautiful," the Doctor said. "Magnificent. Victorian Times, I'd wager. Mid to late 1850's."
"How'd you know that?" Donna asked.
"Oh, just look around, Donna. Use your eyes. Notice everything. It's all very Dickens, this place."
"I only saw the Muppet version of A Christmas Carol."
"Oh… Just as well. That's the closest version to the book anyway."
"Except the real Charles Dickens wasn't small, blue, furry and friends with a rat."
"No, he wasn't, actually… Still, nice place, this. Bit dull…"
They both looked over their shoulders at the woman's voice that came from behind them.
The Doctor blinked. "…who, me?" he asked, rather pointlessly.
"Doctor!" the voice shouted again.
The Doctor grinned cluelessly and ran, Donna right behind him.
They passed through the square and down an alley between two warehouses. They rounded a corner and saw the woman yelling. Young black woman, looked like a serving wench, was looking fearfully at something that looked like it was trying to break its way out of a big wooden door.
"Right, hang on! Not to worry! I'm here! What's the problem? Ooh, looks like someone forgot their key. Someone big, strong and possibly dangerous. Maybe you should go ahead and get out of here."
But the woman ignored him and shouted again. "Doctor!" she shouted again.
"Hey, hey, hey, I'm right here! Don't shout in my ear! Let me handle this."
"Don't be stupid! Who are you?" the woman demanded.
"Oh, praise, she can say other things! Hello, I'm the Doctor."
"…Just the Doctor."
"Well, there can't be two of you!"
The Doctor stopped moving and stopped to stare at her. He glanced at Donna, who looked just as confused.
"Two of me?" he repeated, readdressing the woman. "But…which one? Is it the one with the scarf? Celery? Recorder? Any of these things ringing a bell?"
"What are you on about?"
"How about coat? Nice bright colorful coat? I loved my coat! I wonder if I still have it…"
"Doctor!" the woman shouted again.
"How about question marks? Lots of question marks? Don't know what I was thinking. Ace eventually convinced me to switch it out with a nice red waistcoat. Wise decision. My enemies started taking me much more seriously after that."
"Doctor," this time from Donna. "Shouldn't you be doing something about that?" she asked, gesturing towards the door, which was shaking madly.
"Ah, yes, good point."
"Where the hell have you been?" the woman suddenly shouted.
She was shouting past them now, so the Doctor and Donna turned to look. They saw an unfamiliar man running towards them. He had thinning brown hair, bit of bluster, waistcoat and frock coat and looked rather exhilarated by the whole thing.
"Right then," he announced, taking charge of the situation. "Don't worry! Stand back! What've we got here?"
"Hold on, hold on, who are you?" Donna demanded.
"I'm the Doctor. Simply the Doctor. The one, the only, and the best."
The Doctor stared at him, his eyes widening.
And then the door banged again, causing the Next Doctor focus on that instead.
"Rosita, hand me the sonic screwdriver."
Rosita handed him a screwdriver, but the Doctor was still reeling from this news.
"Who? The what?" he asked, looking very confused.
"Now quickly, get back to the TARDIS."
"Back to the what?"
"If you could stand back, sir, this is a job for Time Lord!"
The Doctor boggled. "Job for a what Lord?"
And then the doors burst open with a loud bang that caused everyone to back away, startled.
It had the face of a Cyberman, wearing it like a mask. The rest of it, however, looked like some strange black hairy creature, like a gorilla with a Halloween mask on. The only other signs of metal were the spindly metal hands, surprisingly thin and slender.
Clearly, both Doctors were surprised.
"Whoa, that's new!" they both exclaimed.
The Doctor fished out his own screwdriver and aimed at the same time as the Next Doctor.
"Allons-y!" the other Doctor shouted.
The Doctor looked at him, startled, while Donna watched all this in silent wonder.
"But what is it? What's it doing here?" the Doctor asked.
"It's fallen right into my trap!" the Next Doctor exclaimed. "I've been hunting this beast for a good fortnight now. Stand back!"
But then the beast leapt several stories up the adjacent vertical wall without any visible effort. It looked back down at them and hissed menacingly. The Doctor watched it in wonder.
"What is it?" Donna asked.
"Some sort of primitive conversion," the Doctor replied. "Like it took the brain of a cat or dog."
"What do we do about it then?"
"Well, talking is all very well," the Next Doctor interrupted. "Rosita!"
"I'm ready," the woman replied, handing him a coil of rope.
And the Next Doctor readied the rope, which the Doctor noted was tied into a lasso. "And now," he said with a smirk. "Watch and learn!"
The Doctor watched with interest as the other Doctor lassoed the creature on the first throw. But he found himself a bit annoyed with his future self's pompous attitude. He hoped his new incarnation isn't quite this full of himself, as opposed to the one in front of him.
"Excellent! Now then, let's pull this timorous beastie down to Earth."
And then the 'timorous beastie' started climbing even higher, and the other man was suddenly being lifted up into the air behind him.
"Or not," the Doctor murmured, ignoring Donna's quiet fits of laughter at the comical scene.
"Ah. I might be in a little bit of trouble," the Next Doctor said awkwardly as he dangled from above.
"As per usual," the Doctor grinned, grabbing the end of the rope and wrapping it around his wrist. "Hang about! I've got you! And do me a favor and forget that bad joke. Don't know where that came from."
And then, he was suddenly up, up and away as well, hanging on desperately as now both Doctors were dragged up the wall. Donna was still laughing, now at both of them, and he wished for half a second she wasn't here.
"You idiots!" Rosita shouted.
"Yes, thank you, madam," the Doctor replied. "Shouting at us seems to be doing the trick. Well done, keep at it. You're bound to save us."
Rosita looked very annoyed by that, but Donna just grinned. "Sorry, he's a bit out of sorts at the moment," she said.
"I am not!"
"Perhaps if you could pull…?" the other Doctor suggested from above.
"I am pulling! In this position, I couldn't not pull, could I?"
"Then I suggest you let go, sir."
"I'm not letting you out of my sight, Doctor! Don't you recognize me?"
"No. Should I? Have we met? This is hardly the right time for me to go through my social calendar – whoa!"
And then the cyber-creature hauled them both up and through a window into a huge warehouse. They were being dragged along the hard, dusty floor, hoping their were no nails sticking up out of it. And then they realized that the beast was heading for a window.
"It's gonna jump!" the Doctor shouted.
"We're gonna fall!" the other Doctor agreed.
And then, at the last second, just as the creature had leapt through the window and across the gap, Rosita appeared out of the darkness and swung an axe that cut the rope. Both Doctors slid to a halt and came to a rest at last, sitting in a cloud of kicked-up dust.
Donna came out of hiding as well, looking out the window for the creature. "It's gone!" she called out. "Jumped the gap and kept going. I think we're safe now."
But the Doctors weren't listening. They were staggering up right again, rubbing their sore backsides and laughing like two schoolboys. They were dazed and in their relief, they pulled each other into a hug, giddy as hell.
"You two alright? Suddenly lose the ability to let go of the rope?" Donna asked, her lips twitching.
"Yeah, fine," the Doctor said, missing the commentary on his own ignorance. "Stop worrying about me. I'm fine! Fit as a fiddle… Oh! Fiddle! Well, that's a rubbish metaphore, isn't it? What's a fiddle got to do with being fit?"