It was around half an hour until Jackie got back, complete with Tesco bags. She sat down next to him, pulling out a bag of frozen peas first.
The Doctor noted this. "Where are you hoping to cook those?" he genuinely wondered.
"No, they're for your ankle," she told him, wrapping up the bag of frozen peas in another shirt and placing them gently on his swollen ankle. He winced and took a sharp intake of breath at the feeling.
She reached into her bag again and pulled out two sandwiches, some fruit and two bottles of Powerade.
"Now, I got chicken and bacon or ham and cheese," she told him, balancing the sandwiches in her hands and looking at him enquiringly.
"Chicken and bacon," the Doctor replied and she nodded.
"Let's sit you up," she told him. He looked very unexcited at the prospect, but she created a clothes pillow for him to sit on and helped him move inch by inch to sit up against the wall. It was then she noticed the trail of blood he was leaving streaked across the floor.
"Sweetheart you're still bleedin'," she said anxiously.
"I know," the Doctor grunted. "Should clot really soon, but it's leaving me a little weak." He took the proffered sandwich and bit into it, chewing for a moment before swallowing, then looking incredibly relieved. "Phew, this body likes chicken and bacon."
Jackie bit into her own ham and cheese. "What?"
"Oh, after I regenerate all my food tastes change," he told her, taking another bite. "In my Sixth body I loved Edam, but in my Seventh I hated it."
Jackie considered that. "Hmm, that's gotta be annoyin'."
The Doctor grinned at that. "Yeah, very annoying."
They ate in silence for a moment, before Jackie spoke again.
"So... You've done this regermination..."
"Regeneration," the Doctor corrected.
"Yeah, that," Jackie fobbed off. "You've done it before, then?"
The Doctor nodded.
"How many times before?"
"Err... This is my tenth body," he answered, swallowing and picking up at the next sandwich.
"Is there... a limit?" Jackie wondered.
"To how many times I can regenerate, you mean?"
"Well I only get thirteen bodies, unless I somehow acquire more," the Doctor replied, musing on what he'd said for a moment. "Each body can live for thousands of years. I'm pretty young for a Time Lord, to be honest."
"900 for Time Lords, is that like a kid?" Jackie wondered, working it all out in her head.
"Well, I'm not really 900-years-old," the Doctor confessed. "I lost count, to be honest. I'm a bit more. But basically, yes, I suppose you could call me the equivalent of a teenager, but it doesn't really work in that way."
"But if you can live for thousands of years, and you're only like a teenager with three bodies left... How did you get through your bodies so quickly?"
The Doctor looked at her. "My life isn't really normal for a Time Lord, Jackie. All they did was sit around in dresses talking about things they weren't allowed to do. First chance I got I grabbed a TARDIS and got out."
He looked at her. She was waiting for more.
"Yes, my life is dangerous," he clarified. "Very dangerous."
"... What about my Rose?" she asked quickly.
"She knows the risks," the Doctor replied simply.
"Jackie," the Doctor said firmly, swallowing the last of his sandwich and reaching for a pear. "Travelling the universe... It's not like a holiday to Majorca. It's dangerous, complex, beautiful and fascinating. I can't wrap her up in cotton wool. She knows what she's got herself into. But I have always promised you that Rose will always be safe with me."
Jackie paused, and then nodded. "I know," she said.
There was another excruciatingly long pause. The Doctor took a bite of the pear he'd taken, and suddenly pulled a face and spewed it back out again.
"Oh, there's a good one," he panted, looking at the pear with disgust. "I don't like pears in this body."
Jackie giggled at his expression and took the pear away, replacing it with a banana. "This'll get the taste out," she told him, unpeeling the banana for him. He took a bite, and chewed thoughtfully for a moment.
"Oh!" he exclaimed, obviously delighted. He took another happy bite.
"So these Chronny things, what are they? Why are they chasin' ya?" Jackie asked.
"Chronodores," the Doctor corrected through a mouthful of banana. "They're like... Well, on their home planet they're like terrorists. They were trying to assassinate the King. Me and Rose managed to stop them and now they're out for our blood. They must've chased us here."
"But you changed your face, so how can they find ya?"
"Probably have bio-scanners," the Doctor replied. "Me being a Time Lord... I'm not hard to find. Seeing as I'm the..."
He trailed off in mid-sentence, staring at the floor.
"Seein' as you're the what?" Jackie wondered.
"Nothing," he muttered, but somehow already knew he couldn't fob off this one.
"Doctor," she said seriously.
"... Seeing as I'm the only Time Lord in existence," the Doctor muttered quietly.
Jackie took a moment to just absorb that. She seemed to get it instantly. The Doctor knew that although Jackie came across as a bit of a scaredy-cat and bad at making decisions in high-pressure situations, that didn't mean she was at all stupid.
"I'm sorry," was all she said.
"Thanks," the Doctor muttered in reply, and finished the banana. The atmosphere had suddenly turned very dismal.
Jackie checked her phone, it was 1pm. An hour until Rose could come and get them.
Suddenly there was a loud creak and a door opened from above. Jackie froze, suddenly absolutely petrified. But she forced her head up to look in the upper parts of the stairwell... and saw a dark-haired human-looking man wearing sunglasses bobbing up and down.
She bit her tongue to stop herself from yelping, looking back at the Doctor with wide eyes.
"It's the things!" she hissed as loudly as she dared.
The Doctor's eyes widened. "Hide," he said quickly.
Jackie looked frantically around for a hiding place as the footsteps got closer; louder. She saw a door open to a cupboard, full of mops and brooms. She grabbed the Doctor's arm, and started pulling him desperately towards it.
"No!" the Doctor whispered quickly, pulling his arm away from her grip. "Hide, leave me."
"Do it!" the Doctor spat, suddenly looking very angry. She had no choice but to do what he said, leaving him in the middle of the floor before she gathered up the bags of food, picked up the peas, ran to the cupboard, dived inside and closed the door, peeking out of the crack.
Seconds later the aliens appeared in full view, guns raised, looking down where the Doctor was lying. They conferred amongst themselves in buzzy tones for a moment, before moving down the stairs to his body unmoving on the floor. They stopped at it, those beady eyes looking down at him as they buzzed a conversation between them again. One raised a strange metal device and ran it over him. One raised a gun, and Jackie's heart suddenly jumped to her throat. Were they going to shoot him again? They couldn't...
It lowered the gun again, and suddenly launched out in a kick, slamming it straight into the Doctor. It caught her completely by surprise, and Jackie couldn't help the tiny cry that tore from her throat as a consequence.
The aliens' collective heads looked up sharply, straight at the cupboard. She stopped the next cry and shrank back in fear, suddenly absolutely paralysed.
They began to move to the door.
Jackie was trying desperately not to tremble,biting her own hand to stop herself crying out and knowing she was sweating as the aliens came closer and closer... The shadow of the shape of one of the aliens casting itself under the door... She heard a hand fumble on the doorknob, making to pull...
Suddenly the Doctor groaned, and they instantly lost interest in the cupboard. There was alarmed buzzing between them for a moment as they moved back to the Doctor raising their guns at him. One grabbed his neck.
Jackie couldn't see exactlywhat was going on, but suddenly she heard the Doctor's voice, buzzing back in that weird language. There was a buzzing of conversation for a moment before the one holding his neck began to squeeze, and suddenly she could hear the Doctor choking. She didn't know what to do, her heart racing a marathon in her chest...
After a few moments, she couldn't hear him choking anymore, and the hand let go of his neck, dropping his head back onto the floor. He was completely limp. She bit her hand harder, holding back the scream as the aliens waved that metal device over him again, nodded in satisfaction, buzzed a little more then went back up the stairs.
She forced herself to wait until she heard the door above slam shut. Then she forced herself to wait a further ten seconds, until she couldn't take it anymore and threw herself out of the cupboard to the Doctor's body.
"Doctor!" she practically shrieked, resting one hand on his chest and the other taking his pulse. But before she even felt a beat the Doctor's eyes snapped open and looked up at her weakly.
"Thanks for the scream, it was helpful," he told her a little sarcastically.
The relief that flooded through her hit her like a tidal wave. She almost laughed, which surprised her. Normally she'd be slapping him to hell right now for being sarcastic with her but... Something was different, now. Trying not to think too much about that, she quickly checked his wound to see if the kick had done anything.
"They thought you'd gone to get Rose to bring back to me," the Doctor told her, his voice weakening. "But when I pretended to wake up I told them I didn't know you, I'd used you as a shield and you'd probably run away in fear. They believed me, made sure I was dead by choking me then left." He caught her expression. "I have the ability to bypass oxygen and slow my hearts rate so it looks like I'm dead for a short while."
Jackie just nodded, completely accepting that, still checking his wound. It looked the same as before. "Are they gonna come back?" she asked anxiously.
"Don't know," the Doctor mused. "I don't think so. They have no reason to. It'll be impossible for them to find Rose, she's a human in a million. Call her, she can probably come and get us, now."
Jackie nodded quickly, scrabbling for her phone and speed-dialling her daughter. Two rings, and she picked up.
"Sweetheart, the things, the Doctor says they're gone, you can come back."
"Okay," she said quickly. "Where are you?"
"Meet me outside River Island, love," Jackie told her.
"Okay, on my way," she finished, then hung up.
"She's comin'," Jackie told him, but noted he was starting to fade. She quickly took a furry coat out from a bag and placed it over him to try and get him warm. "D'you need anythin'?"
"No," the Doctor croaked, swallowing. She got to her feet. He was looking a bit pale, his clothes still covered in blood. He needed a nice cup of tea, a bath and a long rest, as far as she was concerned. She turned to leave.
"Jackie," the Doctor suddenly croaked.
"Yeah?" she asked gently, turning back.
"... Don't be long."
"I won't, sweetheart," she told him gently, giving him a reassuring smile before leaving.
"Mum? Mum how is he?" Rose asked anxiously, running to meet her mother waiting outside River Island with Mickey in tow.
"He's okay, sweetheart, we need to get him home," she told her daughter patiently.
Rose nodded, and Jackie was off through the staff only access door and down the stairs three flights until they found the Doctor exactly where Jackie had left him, his eyes closed, breathing heavily. He was covered in a coat, his shirt open to reveal a bloody wound in his abdomen, his foot elevated.
"Oh my god," Rose croaked, looking at him lying there in a mess of dried blood. "Doctor?"
"Hello," he said quietly, opening his eyes and offering a weak smile.
She moved forward instantly, checking the damage.
"It's okay," he croaked. "Missed major organs. I just need... to rest," he told her.
She nodded quickly. "Mickey, can you bring the car around to the back, we'll carry him down the stairs."
Mickey nodded, making to leave, when Jackie held out the sonic screwdriver. "You'll need it," she told him, and he took it and left without another word.
"How we gonna move him?" Jackie asked seriously, worried for him. He seemed to be even weaker than before.
"You take his legs," Rose ordered, moving off the coat to reveal even more blood covering him before slipping her arms under his armpits and lifting him. The Doctor gritted his teeth, obviously trying not to cry out as Jackie took his legs, and they began the long and painful process of carrying him down the stairs. But before they had even got to the second flight, the Doctor finally passed out.
The Doctor always found it strange when he woke up in a different place from where he'd gone to sleep, and not to mention it was even stranger when he woke up in different clothes. He blinked open his eyes and found himself in the bed he remembered being in but two days previously. He looked around and flicked on the bedside lamp, and caught the time on the clock as he did so. 7:30pm.
He pushed down the duvet and pulled up his pyjama shirt, checking the still painful wound in his stomach, but it was covered in dressing from the TARDIS. He thought about peeling it back to have a look, but then decided not to.
There was suddenly a light knocking on the door, and it eased open slightly to reveal Rose peeking in, looking around. She saw him awake and beamed.
"Mum! He's awake!" she said happily, bounding inside. "How are you? You've been asleep for six hours."
"I'm okay," the Doctor told her, smiling.
"I 'ope you're not plannin' waltzin' off tomorrow," Jackie's voice suddenly came from the doorway, sternly. "You need to rest."
The Doctor nodded, hands in the air. "Not going anywhere, promise."
"Are we stayin'?" Rose asked, genuinely surprised that he'd said that.
"For a few days," the Doctor confirmed.
"New Year's?" Rose wondered.
The Doctor shrugged, indifferent. "Okay," he said, smiling.
"Blimey," Rose muttered, staring at him.
"Your last body, he'd be off right now."
"Well, I'm not completely him," the Doctor replied, gazing at her. "And... I'm sorry I didn't tell you before about regeneration."
"It's okay," Rose replied, hugging him. "You were a little occupied."
He hugged her in return.
"By the way," Rose began, drawing back and frowning. "How did you die, exactly? You never told me."
The Doctor's eyes flickered to Jackie, wondering if she was going to say anything. Rose saw him look at her and looked back at her Mum, then at him.
"What? She knows somethin', doesn't she? Mum? How did he die?"
Jackie paused for a moment, her eyes connecting with the Doctor's again from a brief moment before she spoke. "I don't know, do I? Bloody idiot probably tripped over a brick, the moron."
Rose giggled and hugged the Doctor again. "Don't worry, she doesn't mean it," she told him. The Doctor hugged her in return, looking at Jackie over Rose's shoulder and mouthing a very clear, 'thank you'.
She just smiled, before Rose drew away and Jackie put her old face back on. "Better go and make dinner then now you're awake," Jackie said, turning back to the door. "Can you eat toad in the hole or do you eat somethin' alien and weird like door handles?"
"Toad in the hole is fine, Jackie," the Doctor assured her.
"Good," she said, and shot him a smile before leaving out the door. Rose hugged him for the third time, then pulled back to look at his brand new face.
"You know... It's a good different," she told him.
He grinned at that. "Good."
"You should probably do somethin' with your hair though," she said, brushing it back to try and get a good shape. "Have you ever gelled your hair?"
"Gel?" the Doctor repeated cynically.
"Yeah, just stick it up," she told him, trying to push it into place with both hands but it just flopped. "It'll look good!"
"If you say so," the Doctor replied, somewhat unconvinced. "Maybe I'll get rid of the sideburns... How exactly did I regenerate with ready-made sideburns?"
"Keep them," Rose told him. "Keep them, stick up your hair, it'll look good, I promise."
"Or I'll look like a reject of a 90's boy band," the Doctor said, utterly deadpan.
"Fine, don't," Rose replied, sticking her tongue between her teeth before getting on her feet. "D'you want some tea?"
"Yes, please... and... err..."
"Can I have a banana with that too?"
A/N: How random was that! Glad I'm not the only one who likes a bit of Jackie and Doctor having a chat... :D