Introductory Author's Note: This fic began on June 22nd, 2013, when I had just turned 15. It started AFTER The Name of the Doctor but BEFORE The Day of the Doctor. It doesn't have any bearing on the continuity of the show, it has its own continuity entirely, and I use my own lore of "Dimension Doors" to explain why the characters who appear here are in a separate universe (the Alphaverse) to the characters on the show (the Betaverse.) However, the deeper into this rabbit hole of fanfiction you go, the more the two universes intertwine as I add characters from the show that don't exist in this canon and they visit different universes. An example of this is the two alternate Claras and the two alternate Twelfth Doctors, one being Capaldi and the other being a young woman who jokingly goes by "Thirteen."
Being as I started this when I was 15, it kind of sucks at the start, compared to how good it is as I write it presently. Mainly because I actually have various qualifications in English now and I actually try really hard to make this of good quality. So, please, if you want to see the idea of the reunion fic live up to its full potential of interesting episodic plots spliced with domestic, everyday life on the TARDIS and well-paced arcs for dynamic, complex characters (not to mention an actual balance between all the characters eventually), stick it out until the second part, 4 Doctors, 12 Companions, What Could Possibly Go Wrong? and soon the third (and final) part, 5 Time Lords, 13 Companions, Can Anything Else Go Wrong? because in the three years since the beginning and the present I get older, study Literature in depth, read a lot of books, and just generally have a better understanding of how to write. Yes, I know at the beginning there is no character balance at all and the whole thing for a long time is basically all-about-Clara, but it's really good in the later chapters, and there's less stupidity, and everything makes more sense.
Other information is that Eleven and Clara are together and stay together from more or less the very outset, but many more characters get added in the early stages of fic, like Jenny (the Doctor's daughter) coming back and eventually becoming a very developed character for whom I'm writing her own spin-off fic called Jenny Who? that details everything she does between The Doctor's Daughter and Chapter 38. Oswin gets added as a hologram around Chapter 100, Adam Mitchell from Dalek and The Long Game also gets added in Chapter 142, Tentoo is added, and Sally Sparrow, the Paternosters, the Torchwood team, Sarah-Jane's gang make multiple appearances. And when you get far enough along, I actually start proofreading. If you have any questions about, say, where this fic is going, feel free to PM and ask me questions like, "Will they ever get superpowers?" "Will Clara ever realise her full potential as the Ultimate Bisexual?" "Will Jack and Jenny ever get married?" "Will any of them ever get pregnant?" "Will Ten and Rose get closure?" "Will Jenny and the Doctor ever have a healthy father/daughter relationship?" "Will Beta Clara, who is frozen and travelling through time with Ashildr the immortal Viking in the canon, ever go face her fate on Trap Street, get resurrected by her AU-self with some modified nanogenes, get bitten by a vampire in Whitby in the 1890s, and go live in Yorkshire down the road from Sally Sparrow and an undead girl who shoots lightning bolts, while having an alien girlfriend?" (For the record, the answer to all those questions is yes, and that's what you have to look forward to if you wade through the horrors of these poorly-written earlier chapters to get to the really good stuff. Just read Jenny Who?, which makes sense without having to read any of this at all, if you don't believe me, and you get to see Jenny living in a swamp in Louisiana brewing moonshine for the mafia during prohibition, along with her living as an acrobat in the distant future.)
Sorry about the gross, way-too-long author's note, too, but don't let the lower quality of the first 270 chapters turn you off before you get to the bits that are actually good that I worked genuinely hard on.
The Three Doctors
The TARDIS kitchen was empty aside from the small form of Clara Oswald, and was silent aside from the steady hum of the oven, which was from a time further ahead than she was used to, but with a certain sleek simplicity that might allow even someone as culinary-handicapped as her to make something at least halfway edible. She sat at the small table in the equally small kitchen (she didn't know why the kitchen was so small, she had never felt the need to ask her host if he made his own meals, and she didn't think she yet trusted him enough to let him try and cook for her, however many times he offered at the secret worry she would give herself food poisoning) with her feet up on yet another small chair, old and wooden and mismatched to the cushy red thing she was burrowed into with a yellowing book on her knees.
She was engrossed more in the act of staring at the words other than actually reading them, letting the black marks imprint nonsensically onto her eyes without making the slightest indent into her attentions, as she was truthfully stuck in playing out a memory of a few days ago involving the wondrous sights of a star system - the name of which she could shamefully not pronounce (in fact, she could hardly even remember what letter it started with). She was having a bad day when it came to words, and had been skimming back over the same paragraph for a quarter of an hour or so, something in the back of her mind preventing her from moving on.
She reached for a mug without moving her eyes from the page, and frowned when her fingers closed upon thin air, and when she peered over the top of the book and with one of her feet pushed herself back into an acceptable sitting position, she saw she was a good few inches to the left with her grasp, and she sighed and reached for it again, a little surprised it was cold. She looked inside and saw it full to the brim with milky, beige tea, but she had left it without drinking and it had melted back to room temperature and had developed a film over the top. She sighed.
There was a jerk and she grabbed the table to steady herself, but with her other hand the mug of tea smashed apart on the floor, and part of her suspected the spaceship to be trying to get on her nerves again. She didn't know what had been distracting her from reading her book in the first place, she couldn't shake the nagging feeling she was late or forgetting something. Yet in the end, she resolved to fold down the corner of the book that at that moment she could scarcely recall the title of, but it may have been something by Jane Austen she'd probably reread a hundred times anyway, and she left it on the table.
"Doctor..?" she called through the hall carefully, sliding around the wall to face the entrance to the console room with a hand on the corner. For a few moments, all was still, and then sparks flew somewhere to the right of the inside of the room ahead and she was thrown leftwards into the silver wall, and knew it was not, in fact, the TARDIS trying to disturb her, but something serious was going on.
"Ah, Clara!" the tweed-clad man appeared around the console, wearing a smile when he saw her, but she gave him a suspicious look in return and walked slowly forwards. He kept glancing at the console nervously, the monitor facing away from her so that she could not see whatever he could. But his arm was bathed in a repeated, crimson flash of light, so she assumed it to be some kind of dire warning.
"What's going-" she began to ask, but was this time flung to the right into the railings of the stairs and the Eleventh Doctor ran back around to another part of the metal room as there was another sparky explosion and this one was accompanied by a bang, and soon enough there were flashes this way and that way and the TARDIS was spiraling around in space with the roaring noise of the engines in her ears. "WHAT'S GOING ON!?" she shouted at him now, scowling and in no mood for his usual babblings.
"N-nothing," he said, overly defensive. And it was this defensiveness that lead her to believe it was probably his fault entirely.
"Doctor..." a tone of threat came through in her voice as she held on dearly with whitening knuckles to a railing, and he was still rushing about flicking switches.
"Nothing!" he said again, and she continued with her death-stare until he amended himself, "Okay, something! Probably something is going on, but I don't quite know what! It's wibbly wobbly!"
"Oh, is it!? Is it really!?" she made no effort to hide the reams of angry sarcasm from her voice as another explosion sent hair across her face and she was momentarily blinded by her own mangled strands of brunette, which she forced behind her ears haphazardly a second later.
"Yes! The TARDIS exists across all of space and time! Lots of TARDISes! But just one, sort of, it's very complicated!" he was saying, and then he fell over in the brunt of another boom, and just stared pitifully at the console panels as the dials twisted themselves, and there was an almighty flash of light and an equally effecting reel from the spaceship, and a third person stood in the room. The Doctor and Clara looked at him, the intruder, in his pin-striped suit, with his long brown coat, his white but grubby high-tops with his gel-soaked hair. He turned to face them, and stared, and they both forgot about the impending doom about them and stared back.
"Doctor..." said Clara, but to whom she was addressing even she herself did not know.
"..Yes?" Eleven asked her with a note of concern and an utterly despairing confusion. Ten said the same thing, though with more of the confusion and he was also affronted by her somehow knowing his name, since he had no clue who she was. Eleven gave the Tenth Doctor a darker look for addressing Clara, it would seem.
"Sorry, do I know you?" Ten asked her, and she very nearly laughed as Eleven grimaced.
"Um, not yet," she said with the ghost of a premature smile on her face and the twinge of a disbelieving head-shake. Ten frowned with puzzlement, and looked between them.
"Where..? Is this..? Who're..? What have you done to my TARDIS!?" Ten exclaimed suddenly, realising where he was and dashing over to the controls to seemingly nurse them back to their emerald, coral state.
"It's my TARDIS!" Eleven claimed, and Ten glared at him, and Eleven rolled his eyes, and Clara looked on in bewilderment and had hardly a clue what was happening. Ten looked at him, and it finally seemed to click and he figured out just who Eleven was. "Are you..?" Eleven nodded, "Which one? I don't remember you..."
"Eleven," said the Doctor, Clara watching the exchange with wide eyes. Two Doctors meeting? What was she supposed to do traveling with two of them? The Eleventh one never agreed on a place with her, now they would have to agree on a place with each other before going to argue with her on the matter. That was, if something terrible did not happen between the present and the future. She supposed she was getting a little ahead of herself in all honesty.
"Are you..? Sorry, are you wearing tweed? And a bow-tie?" Ten stared at him with ghastly offence, and Eleven was equal with his expression.
"Yes! Bow-ties are cool! And so're fezzes!" he argued, and Clara laughed, and Ten remembered she was actually there, and turned his questions on her, instead.
"So who're you?" he asked.
"I-" she began.
"She's Clara Oswin Oswald," Eleven answered for her, as though she was incapable of remembering her own name. In actuality, he seemed to be the one who didn't remember her name, as 'Oswin' was most definitely not a part of it - yet despite her protests every time she was addressed or introduced in this manner, he didn't relent.
The TARDIS veered uncontrollably once more, and Clara's grip on the railings tightened again as there were now two Doctors to fawn over the controls and find some way to stop whatever terrible fate was awaiting them at the end of the ride.
"She's trying to bring three TARDISes together and it's tearing reality apart!" Eleven said, finally figuring out what was going on, not that this made an awful lot of sense to Clara, who wasn't particularly savvy when it came to Time Lord spacemachines.
"Who? Her?" Ten nodded to Clara, who scoffed.
"No! The Snogbox!" Clara said, that much she was sure of, and then the ship jerked and she stumbled and had to regain her balance, and she glared at the space above her where lights were flashing in a chirpy, mocking manner.
"The what?" Ten asked, though he was grinning as though he found this amusing, and Clara felt smug at this revelation.
"She's not a Snogbox, Clara," Eleven scolded her.
"Oh, one day..." she joked wistfully, and he fumbled his controls and Ten sniggered at his future self's embarrassment. Another explosion behind them, and six eyes looked around.
"Fantastic! This is just fantastic..." a leather-clad, older man said sardonically, shaking his head at the younger-looking iterations of himself.
"Welcome to the TARDIS, we're trying to stop the universe from exploding!" Eleven greeted him darkly, and skidded to another portion of console closer to Clara, who leant forwards to speak to him.
"The universe is gonna explode!?" she exclaimed.
"No, of course not, silly!" he said like she was a child, and for a moment she was relieved until he turned to properly face her and continued, "It can implode, however.
"How is that any better!?"
"Well, it isn't," he said matter-of-factly, "some might say it's worse." She made a noise which could very well be described as a growl. Nine ran around to join Ten, and they were arguably more sensible than Eleven, and finally managed to diagnose exactly what was wrong. Sort of.
"The dimension-stabilisers are broken - why is she giving out three times' the power!? And who's that!?" he motioned rudely to Clara, who couldn't say she thought much of who she gleaned to be the Ninth Doctor.
"Clara Oswin Oswald," Eleven answered (incorrectly) for her, again, but before she could complain they all carried on speaking with little care for her or who she was.
"She isn't," Ten amended him, "she's absorbing three times' the power! And we're in for another teleport!" The TARDIS shook, and the verging-on-familiar light beam that marked the teleport made another appearance, leaving in its wake a girl, a little taller than Clara (although most people were taller than Clara) with slightly damp yellow hair, like she had just showered or had been in a rainstorm. Clara thought the former was true.
"D-doctor..?" she asked, and Clara watched all four of the other faces intently.
"Rose..?" Ten breathed, and Nine was almost as dumbstruck as his cohort. There was a pregnant moment as they stood, and awkwardness ballooned inside of the room like a bloated elephant of thousands of unsaid things, and Clara found herself looking for an escape or something to snap apart the tension. And thank god for once the TARDIS obliged and they were all wrenched back to the situation at hand.
"I was at home," Rose Tyler began, "...With mum and dad and... Tony," clearly, she had not been about to say Tony, she had changed her mind at the last instant, and Ten looked slightly pained at her hesitation, "How did I get here?"
"Dimension stabilisers of the TARDIS are broken, it's trying to merge the TARDISes over the last three-hundred years together," Eleven said, looking at the monitor as he spoke, "I'm the Eleventh one, the one after him," he pointed at Ten, "And this is Clara Oswin Oswald."
"Hi..." said Clara bitterly, again having her name snatched from her lips.
"Err... Hello..?" said Rose uncertainly.
"She's my..." Eleven began, but no adjective for Clara came from him, and for some reason she felt her heart race with some sort of anticipation. He looked at her for help.
"His..." she began, and they looked to each other a little awkwardly, before he smiled a little and turned back to Rose.
"Assistant," he told her. Clara smiled amicably, and Rose glanced between them with suspicion, but there wasn't really anything to be suspicious about... She probably was his assistant - and she did not want to know why him calling her that was causing her so much sordid discomfort.
"Well, I'm Rose Tyler," Rose properly introduced herself and held out her hand to Clara, who hastened to take it after a moment, but was stopped by some loud and obnoxious interjections from Nine, and she balled her fist before returning it to the silver railing, unaware that that was where Eleven was also keeping a hand. She accidentally put her hand on his and flinched away as though burned, however nobody other than him noticed. He moved his hand too and didn't look at her. She thought she detected a blush, but may have been mistaken.
"No, no, no, no, no! Don't touch!" Nine said, rushing over to wave his hands at Rose since he couldn't, according to his own laws, touch her hands and move them away from Clara, who was up to all sorts of unfortunate mischief unknowingly, it would seem, "And I mean it this time."
"What's that supposed to mean!?" Rose argued.
"Don't touch the baby," he said, and though Clara didn't know what they were talking about, she did know that she was offended.
"I'm not a baby," said Clara, and he looked her up and down distastefully, which she did not appreciate.
"Could've fooled me," he went off again on his merry, insulting way.
"Oh, ha ha. Because I've obviously not heard that one before," she called after him, scoffing when he ignored her completely.
"Don't mind him..." Rose offered some advice and then crossed her arms and stepped away from Clara as though she was diseased.
"You two having a domestic in here?" came a smooth, male voice from behind them and a handsome stranger whose name Clara couldn't quite conjure from her Time-Stream-orientated memories was leaning on another railing, and his arrival had somehow gone completely unnoticed. Tall, dark-haired and wearing a smile and confident gleam in his eye like they were glorious medals to decorate himself, he stood.
"Not even a hello?" Eleven asked, slightly annoyed at the suaveness of the newcomer.
"Hello," he said to Eleven, who then turned around to him and glared angrily, "I'm liking your new face - and the tweed. The bow-tie's a little old-man-ish though, don't ya think, Doc?"
"Oi!" Eleven protested, and then the stranger looked at Clara.
"And who might you be?" he said to her, and she maybe tried not to be so completely overcome. But this all went out the window when, four the fourth time, her name was warped against her wishes.
"Clara Oswin Oswald," said all three Doctors, and then Eleven turned to him and added firmly, "And you're not talk to her, Jack." Clara remembered him at once upon hearing his name; of course, Captain Jack Harkness, the rogue Time Agent with the dashing good-looks and the stolen spaceship and the hero-complex, who made the ultimate sacrifice and was rewarded with eternal life. How had she not recognised him?
"Hello," he said to Clara, completely against what Eleven had told him.
"Stop it!" Eleven objected, and Jack shrugged, "Well don't touch anything or anyone! It'll do bad things to... Something to do with time, I don't know..." Jack frowned at him.
"So, it's going in chronological order?" Jack said, looking around, mainly from himself to Rose and the monitor, "That's why the TARDIS says Mickey Mouse's coming next?" The Doctors all looked up at him, dumbstruck. Jack had just figured out on his own in a few seconds what three Time Lords had as of yet been baffled by.
"Um... Yeah... Mickey..." said Ten slowly, and then he flicked a switch, "Managed to emaciate some power reserves - I've given us ten minutes before the next jump." The TARDIS began to steady herself, and finally Clara felt safe enough to relinquish her hold of the railings, though she was notably shaky about the lack of support. At least she could always throw herself to the Eleventh Doctor, if none of the others, as he was from the same time or place or dimension - or whatever the hell was going on - if needs be. She hoped he would catch her, although he did have the attention span of a five-year old...
"What's that smell?" Eleven asked, and Clara sniffed, and smelt burning. She primarily assumed it was some electronic part of the TARDIS that might have burnt itself out in its own dismay, but after a few moments she finally remembered what she had been struggling to before anything too our of the ordinary had happened.
"Soufflé!" she exclaimed, "I forgot about it! I was reading!" and she ran off back towards the kitchens to stop the oven setting alight and burning the ship apart before Mickey could arrive.
However, when Clara returned to the kitchen, it was black and full of the stink of smoke and something a little rotten (maybe the milk was off), and the souffle, when she fought through the heat to get to it, was barely more than a small hill of dark dust on a tray, and she sighed.