'I knew I shouldn't have pressed that button,' the Eleventh Doctor mentioned to Amy, but he was beaming widely. 'Now, things have gone all wonky and -'
'Now, there are three of you,' his Scottish companion observed, leaning against the railing of the TARDIS.
The Eleventh Doctor laughed. 'Isn't it brilliant?'
Three Doctors – and five companions. The Ninth Doctor and Rose Tyler were standing in front of the door, looking around the TARDIS console room, with all its orange-ness and bright lights, with bewildered expressions. Donna Noble was interrogating the blue-suited Tenth Doctor mercilessly, demanding to know why the TARDIS had changed, while Martha Jones was simply staring, dumbstruck. Amy Pond and Rory Williams were looking down at them from the console platform uncertainly.
'Hello!' the Eleventh Doctor said eagerly and enthusiastically to his predecessors. He hopped down the steps.
'What have you done to TARDIS?' Nine said, looking around indignantly.
'Doctor,' Rose muttered to Nine, 'are you wearing a bowtie?'
'Yes, I am, and bowties are cool,' Eleven replied, straightening it self-consciously. 'And as for the TARDIS …' He shot a furtive look at Ten. 'It – ah – redecorated itself.'
'Riiiight,' Ten said slowly, running a hand through his hair. 'Well, it's not that bad, I suppose …'
'I must say it's wonderful to see you all again,' Eleven beamed around at his old companions. 'Rose – no Mickey? Shame – Martha, Donna –' His smile faltered at the memory of the fate of his best friend.
But Eleven had always been a master at concealing his true emotions, much more than his previous selves who had so humanly upfront, and he quickly regained composure. 'Oh and those up there are Amelia Pond and Rory Williams.'
'Hello,' Amy said with a wave. Rory just contented himself with an awkward grin and a wave.
'Hang on …' Rose took a step forward. 'But if you're travelling with those two, now – well, in the future – then where am I?'
She looked back at Nine, who didn't seem likely to answer. His eyes were locked on Eleven.
'Yeah,' Donna said, realising Rose was right. 'Where am I?' Donna looked up at Ten. 'I was going to be with you forever.'
'I'm sure you tell all the girls that, Doctor,' Amy murmured, amused.
Ten didn't reply either. He too was focused on Eleven, and for a moment Eleven felt a little worried under the heated stares of his previous selves – two very formidable Time Lords.
And having three in the same room …
Eleven grinned, but his eyes were sad. 'Spoilers.'
'He's right,' Nine said after a while. He shot a wide grin at Rose. 'Not good to know the future.'
'Takes all the fun out of things,' Eleven agreed. He stepped up to Nine, studying him. 'Forgot I used to have that accent.' He reached out and flapped the leather coat. 'Leather. Bit of a mid-life crisis,' he mentioned to Rose.
'Is not!' Nine said huffily as Rose let out a laugh and nudged Nine.
'Still not ginger,' Ten muttered, peering at the back of Eleven's head.
Nine crossed his arms, looking at Eleven critically. 'Are you what I turn into?' He looked at Ten, then Eleven again. 'I get younger every time.'
'Not to mention skinnier,' Donna pointed out. 'I thought this one was skinny – but you! You're like … like …'
'A long streak of alien nothing?' Eleven suggested.
'He does look incredibly young,' Ten said to Nine.
'Not that young!' Eleven said defensively.
'You're a baby.'
Nine sighed down at Rose. 'Children, the pair of them.'
But Rose was smiling.
Meanwhile, Martha had wandered up to the console platform and was talking to Amy and Rory.
'Where's Jack?' Eleven asked. 'I was sort of hoping he'd come along.'
'Jack?' Donna asked. 'Who's Jack?'
'You don't wanna know,' Ten commented and wandered away.
'He got side-tracked in some bar or other,' Nine replied. 'We thought we'd let him have his fun.'
After a few minutes, Eleven found himself sitting down and simply observing the goings-on around him. There was a faint smile, touched by a hint of sorrow, but he just decided to enjoy the moment.
'… space monkey!' Donna pulled a face and stuck her ears out.
'Oi!' Nine's arms were folded and he glared down at Donna. 'Watch who you're calling "monkey"!'
'What're you going to do, alien boy? Throw a banana at me?' Donna stalked off.
'Bananas happen to be a very good source of potassium – hey, I'm not done with you yet!' Nine followed Donna and Eleven couldn't help but laugh a bit, feeling a sudden craving for bananas.
'It's called UNIT,' Martha was explaining to Rory. Eleven somehow had a feeling they'd get along – their inclination towards medicine would have given them a common ground to start with.
'- and then, I was dancing in front of Big Ben! In the middle of the London Blitz!' Rose and Amy were laughing.
'Wouldn't mind meeting this Harkness bloke,' Amy stated.
'Um, I would,' Rory said, leaning out of his conversation with Martha to poke Amy on the shoulder.
'Oh, he's harmless, really,' Martha reassured them. 'He's just a bit friendly.'
'That's one word for it,' Rose laughed.
Then a figure was in front of him, and Eleven looked up to see Ten gazing down at him. His eyebrow was raised.
'Why did you bring us here?'
Eleven stood. 'I'm a sentimental old man.'
They stared at each other for a while.
'Do I want to know what happens?' Ten asked.
'I wouldn't tell you anyway,' Eleven said simply. 'You'll … you'll try and change it.'
He tried to change it anyway. Running away didn't help in that scenario. Time caught up with him. But Eleven knew – he remembered how he used to be, and he would have done anything to change his fate if he had known.
Ten's serious expression was broken in a flash of a grin. 'You know me too well.'
Eleven laughed softly at the joke. He drank in the sight around him for a few more moments, before saying, 'Well, it's been fun.'
Eleven walked slowly up the stairs. Now, it was almost as like he wasn't there as his past companions and past selves all got to know each other. He found himself at the door leading to the rest of the ship. He paused, hand on the doorknob, and looked back one more time.
Taking a deep breath, he opened the door and stepped through.
Eleven kept the door closed for a minute or so before opening it again. This time, the console room had changed. It was no longer orange and bright, but a harsh white and blue, the console more resembling his consoles of old.
'I had always wondered what would happen if we were all in the same room together,' Eleven muttered as he walked over to the seat, picking up his top hat. The simulation had satisfied his curiosity, but had done little to hold back the pang of loneliness and regret.
Eleven sat, looking around the cold and silent TARDIS. If he concentrated, he could see Nine and Rose dancing over in the corner, the lights of the TARDIS flashing around them. He could see Ten dashing around the console, his long legs making great strides and a great wide grin on his face.
'Don't travel alone, Doctor.'
Well, he had listened. He wasn't travelling. Not anymore. Those days were gone.
Eleven rested back and closed his eyes. He was so tired.