Surprise! A random little one-shot that was begging to be written (did you know that there's not a single story in the whole DW fan fiction archive with both the Metacrisis and Ganger Doctors in it?), may eventually turn into a full length story if I feel like it. I'll get back to Suspending Disbelief soon, my writing muse has momentarily deserted me.
Can Only be One
Scene: Bad Wolf Bay, Norway. Pete's World
The man in the blue suit watched as his- no, he corrected himself, the Doctor's- TARDIS vanished from its spot in front of him, taking Donna and the Doctor with it. He looked over at Rose. She was standing with her arms folded, tears freely streaming down her face. The man in the blue suit tried to put an arm around her shoulders, to comfort her, like he had before when he had said that he loved her. Instead of leaning into his side like he had expected her to, maybe even going back into another kiss, she stayed rigid and leaned away slightly. He dropped his arm, and looked over at her.
"I'm him, you know." He said, trying to make her understand. "All nine hundred years of knowledge and experience. Same face, same soul. Same love. And I can grow old with you, I'll never abandon you."
Rose looked at him, eyes bright with tears as she bit her lip. In a choked sob, she ran to her mother, ignoring the man in the blue suit completely. "He left me again, mum. He left me again."
The man in the blue suit knew that nothing she could have said would hurt more, and that this hurt would never go away. Whatever the Doctor might have said, this would never work out. Who would ever settle for a mere copy, a pale imitation of the one you love. He sat down on the sand. Not following the others when they began walking to where Pete had parked the car. No one called out after him to see if he was coming
Scene: Morpath Jetsam acid factory, Monastery basement. Somewhere in the UK. Our Universe.
"Amy, we switched shoes." With those words, the ganger knew he was going to die here. Without Amy forcing him to come, his counterpart, the original, would- not make him stay, exactly, but wouldn't force him to go, allowing him to make his grand gestures. Amy seemed confused, and the ganger stayed silent as the original explained. She threw her arms around him and he hugged her back, whispering in her ear, "Push Amy, but only when she tells you to." She looked at him, confused, but ran back to the TARDIS with Rory.
"My death approaches then, I suppose." The ganger laughed, trying to hide his fear behind a layer of joviality.
"Maybe so, but this one we aren't invited to."
"Never mind." The Doctor tossed his duplicate a screwdriver, which the ganger promptly tucked into his jacket. "Your molecular memory can survive this, you know. This may not be… the end."
The ganger attempted a grin. "Well, then I'll pop by and steal all your biscuits and you'll know I survived."
The original Doctor smiled, then ran back off to the TARDIS as the ground shook. The ganger looked at Foreman Cleaves. "This will dissolve her."
"And us along with it." She snipped, but smiled. "Let's do it."
The ganger threw the door open with her, and pointed his screwdriver at the Jennifer-creature which was running down the hall at them. "Geronimo."
Scene: Bad Wolf Bay, Norway. Pete's World
The man in the blue suit stuck his hands into his suit pockets, watching as the car drove away with Rose, Jackie and Pete in it. Jackie gave him a sympathetic look over her shoulder, but Rose resolutely ignored him. As if she wished that he didn't exist- which, the man in the blue suit rationalized, was probably pretty true. He pulled out of his pockets two things. One was a small piece of what would look like coral to the untrained eye. To the man in the blue suit, it was a piece of untold wonders- the opportunity to grow his own TARDIS. The other was a small silver oval on a chain, with a large yellow button in the middle. He carefully brought the piece of coral to the button, breaking off the bottom of the coral to expose fresh surface, pricked his finger with his tooth and smeared his blood on it. The coral began to glow, and he stuck it onto the dimension jumper, for of course, that was what the silver and yellow circle was. It immediately was covered by the coral, which turned yellow, struck through with silver. He placed it onto the ground, and it began to grow.
"I am not the Doctor anymore." He whispered as the shape of a Police Box began to take shape in front of him, albeit in silver and yellow. "My name is John." He paused, not wanting to use his normal alias, then realized that he should take the names of his 'parents,' the ones who had cause him to come to be. "John Noble-Smith."
Scene: Rubble of Morpath Jetsam acid factory. Somewhere in the UK. Normal Universe
"I don't see how there could possibly be any survivors." The ganger opened his eyes, and immediately wished that he hadn't. He was completely covered in rubble, and his leg felt like it was broken. He coughed once, trying to clear the dust out of his lungs, and the single cough turned to a wracking coughing fit. The footsteps he could hear overhead stopped, then ran towards his location.
"There's someone-" the voice broke off as the person looked at a readout displaying the ganger's physiology. "It's not a ganger, but it's definitely not human either."
"Well, what are you waiting for, then?" another voice. "Get it out!"
Dust rained down on the ganger as they shifted away the rocks above him. After what felt like hours, he was pulled out roughly and laid out onto a stretcher. He winced and gritted his teeth as the bone in his broken leg scraped against itself. He hardly even winced as a hypo needle was jammed into his arm, and when the medic onboard the shuttle that his stretcher was moved onto set his leg, wrapping it in gauze and sticking it into some sort of machine that he said would repair the ganger's wounds. The ganger didn't even bother trying to try to figure out how the device worked, instead starting to drift off to sleep.
He was shaken awake by the same man who had found him. "Hey, bud, before we can let you drift off, we need to know your name." He held out a clipboard. The ganger took it, and in shaky but perfectly legible handwriting, wrote, "John Smith."
Scene: Bad Wolf Bay, Norway. Pete's World
John shivered as the night approached and the wind off of the ocean grew colder. The yellow and silver TARDIS grew tall out of the surf. It was the same basic shape as his TARDIS, large, square, the familiar sign on the front and light on the top. The only difference was that this TARDIS was cloudy silver, trimmed with yellow. It gleamed gold in the light of the setting sun, giving off one last burst of light before settling into shadow as the sun slipped below the horizon. John carefully stepped up to it, with the air of someone approaching a dangerous wild animal. He lay one hand on the door, and it swung open, the key in the lock. He pulled it out, noting that it was made out of the same silver-and-yellow metal as the rest of the TARDIS and slipped inside.
The inside of the TARDIS was its old familiar self, the coral pillars winding up from the sides, fenced in area around the control pillar… He collapsed down onto the small couch-like area in front of the main steering controls, and took it in better: yes, the inside was a perfect replica of his TARDIS, but in a rather gloomy shade of grey. "Couldn't do something a bit cheerier, eh, girl?" He walked over to the control area and began to mess with the inside coloring, eventually ending up first turning the grey to a lurid shade of neon yellow, then finally a shining sliver, swirled with grey and a few streaks of yellow. It reminded John of a cloudy day, with the sun poking out from behind the clouds.
It was when he collapsed back onto the couch when he realized just how messy his clothes were. His suit jacket was torn around the cuffs and seams, and his pants were ripped at the bottom and covered in dust and grime from sitting on the sand, waiting for his TARDIS to grow. With a sigh, he heaved himself back up and set off for the wardrobe, hoping that all the clothes weren't in some shade of grey or yellow.
Scene: hospital shop, clothes area, somewhere in the UK, normal universe
Smith poked his head out of the changing room, stepping in front of a full length mirror. His clothes had been totally destroyed from being pulled out of the rubble. The hospital had, after discharging him from the ER with a healed leg and a few minor bumps and bruises, kindly allowed him to peruse through the small shop at the back of the hospital. It had some clothes that were obviously souvenir items (although why anyone would want a souvenir shirt from a hospital was beyond Smith's comprehension), and some clothes that had been donated.
Those were a bit more to Smith's taste.
The only article of clothing that had survived being buried in the rubble was his bowtie, which he now fastened around his neck. His normally light colored collared shirt had been replaced with a midnight blue shirt of similar style. He now wore blue jeans, and a pair of converse, similar to those he had worn in his previous incarnation. These were a slightly lighter color of blue than his shirt, and reminded him achingly of the TARDIS. He looked quickly through the coats and jackets, and pulled on a knee length black coat with a wide collar. He pulled a random hat from the rack beside him, and, grinning and snapping his suspenders once, laughed to himself: "I wear fedoras now. Fedoras are cool."
Scene: TARDIS wardrobe, Time Vortex. On the way to normal universe.
John looked broodingly into the mirror. The wardrobe had only had clothes in grey and yellow, so, preferring not to look like an escaped circus clown, he was dressed all in grey. Same suit, same converse, same long trench coat. But in varying shades of grey from a light, almost white color, to a stormy near black. He had allowed his tie to contain a small splash of the yellow, but other than that, his wardrobe had changed from slightly ridiculous to looking like he was in mourning.
And he supposed he was- if you could mourn something you never had in the first place. Except in John Noble-Smith's case, he had. He had, in his memories, anyway, been a Time Lord. Had traveled with dozens of people, all turning out to be wonderful people, people who had influenced him in some way or another. Had regenerated nine times already. But no more.
He slumped down against the wall, the TARDIS humming softly to him. Even his psychic connection wasn't as strong as it once was, now that his Time Lord blood was diluted. He sighed, looking up at the ceiling. He had deluded himself for hundreds of year that the fact that he traveled around the universe, saving people and putting himself into dangerous situations was the simple fact that it was the right thing to do. But now that he was mortal- wouldn't heal as quickly as he once did, wouldn't regenerate after death- he wondered if he would have the resolve to do so. If he would be willing to put that single life on the line to save another life-human or otherwise. He supposed that he would, logically, be able to do that. But it was easy to suppose here, in the relative safety of his TARDIS. But when the time came…
He sighed, running a hand through his already mussed up hair, making it stick up in odd places. He knew he would have to wait for the time when it came.
The TARDIS hummed again in his mind, letting him know that she was landing. He absentmindedly petted the wall, and began making his way back to the control room.
Scene: Street outside of hospital, somewhere in the UK. Normal universe
Smith tucked his hands deep into his pockets, wandering aimlessly through the town he was in- what was its name? - trying to stay out of trouble. Never before had he felt the inconvenience of not having a home- much less not having a home, psychic paper, or screwdriver. He had the knowledge and expertise to build them- well, maybe not the home part, building a TARDIS was a bit beyond his abilities- but finding the correct materials to build a sonic screwdriver or psychic paper would be difficult in the twenty-somethingth century under the best of circumstances. But getting his hands on the materials would be difficult. Penniless- he added that to the list of things he was at the moment- homeless, penniless, screwdriverless, psychic paperless…
He sighed, sitting down a bench he just happened to be passing at that moment. His shoulders curled forwards slightly, and his head drooped. Hopeless- that was another one to be adding to the list. How in the name of Rassilon was he supposed to be out saving the universe if he couldn't get out there? No TARDIS, no screwdriver, no psychic paper. UNIT wouldn't recognize him in a new regeneration and he didn't have any tech to prove himself. Jack would likely recognize him, but how was he supposed to get down to Cardiff? And would Jack even still be there?
He sighed again, leaning against the back of the bench. He heard a strangely familiar wheezing sound in the background, and chalked it up to his imagination. That is, at least, until a very familiar voice came in his ear- "penny for your thoughts?"
John Noble-Smith almost laughed as the man in front of him gave a violent start as he spoke. He had just gotten out of the TARDIs, and looked around. This world was just so right. The handful of days he had spent in the alternate universe had felt wrong- like an itch he couldn't scratch. So of course, as soon as he had gotten back to his home universe- or as close as he could consider a home universe- he had had to have some fun. And a single, solitary man sitting on a park bench all alone… Well, if helping him wasn't fun, he didn't know what he could consider to be fun.
But the way that this man was staring at him now, the way his face had gone pale when he had spoken, the way he had jumped up and was now muttering softly to himself was frankly slightly unnerving to Noble-Smith. "Hey, pal, you OK?"
The man in front of him shook his head, his head slightly cocked as if he were listening to something very quiet. "Impossible! The first law of time alone…"
"Sorry, what?" John was now confused- he had wanted to make the other man feel better, not confuse him or himself like he apparently had.
"Not to mention the ridiculous outfit- what, am I in mourning or something? Did a barrel of clay dust or something fall on me? I think I would have remembered that…"
"What?" John was hopelessly confused now- what was this man ranting about? He was talking so fast that his words slurred together- all he had managed to make out was 'ridiculous outfit,' 'mourning,' and 'barrel of clay dust.' And none of that made any sense.
"Hmm… One heart…" The man in front of John fell silent, then a new light came over his face- the light of understanding. "Metacrisis?"
John was utterly shocked. "How… what… WHAT?"
That was all Smith needed to know. "Metacrisis, then. I was right!" he crowed, laughing for the first time since this had all happened, laughing for real. When the man in front of him still looked confused, he sighed, leaped over the bench that separated them, and stood mere inches from the Metacrisis Doctor.
"Doctor? Do you still call yourself that? Or do you go by something else?"
"It's John Sm- John Noble-Smith" the Metacrisis corrected himself at the last moment. "Sorry, but who are you?"
"Who do you think?" Smith asked, twirling delightedly. "Well, no, I'm not who you think, shut up." He sighed. "Simply put? You- Metacrisis. Me? Ganger."
"Ganger? I don't understand." The Metacrisis Doctor- Noble-Smith- looked over at Smith. "Are you future me or not?"
"Well, not future you, you can't regenerate. Don't even know if I can. But Ganger's short for doppelganger- you know, a Flesh copy?" As Noble-Smith shook his head, Smith sighed and ran his fingers through what Amy had affectionately called his 'fringe,' the floppy bit of bang hair that had an annoying habit of hanging in his eyes. "Blimey, this is going to be a bit more difficult to explain than I thought."
Noble-Smith gave the Doctor a long, slightly worried look. "We made another one of us?" he asked, wincing at how weird that sounded. He needed to get his tenses sorted when talking about multiple copies of the same person.
"Well, yeah, sort of…" The Doctor in front of him looked slightly uncomfortable. "And it's Smith, not the Doctor. I'm not… We're not… well, we're not him anymore. I've got his memories and I'm a Time lord, but I haven't even got a sonic screwdriver. And you, you're mortal. I gave you a piece of the TARDIS, but where's Rose then? Wouldn't she have wanted to come with you, to see the stars again, up close?"
Noble-Smith's face fell, and he scuffed his shoe against the ground. "She… She… She didn't…"
"Oh my Gallifrey, she's dead isn't she?" Smith's face paled, and he clutched the bench for support. "How did it happen?"
"Shut up, Spaceman, she's not dead!" Noble-Smith snapped, "she-"
"So like Donna…" murmured Smith, his face wistful. "I miss her…"
"Shut up, we're not talking about Donna, remember?" Noble-Smith shifted uncomfortably, then continued. "She left as soon as you did, she wouldn't even look at me. I wasn't good enough."
Smith's face fell, and he stepped up to his counterpart, his arm on his shoulder. "I'm so sorry. If I had known that she'd react that way…" he trailed off, then abruptly switched the topic. "So how did you get here, anyway? The TARDIS alone wouldn't have-" then he understood. "Dimension hopper plus time traveling box?"
Noble-Smith nodded, and jerked a thumb over his shoulder to where the silver TARDIS stood. "To adventures?"
Smith smiled. Purpose! He had a purpose again. And one Doctor might be good, but two- he glanced over at the Metacrisis, who tossed him a silver and golden key. "To adventures."