Amy Pond sighed as she watched the Doctor take apart and repair different bits of the TARDIS piece by piece.
He’d been going at it for two hours now, leaving them hovering in the Vortex as he worked. This prevented Amy from being able to explore anywhere in the meantime, which she was sure was his reason for not landing first. That man might have a young face, but he was as protective as a paranoid old grandfather.
“How long are you going to be doing this for?” she asked, running a hand over part of the console.
“I just want to be sure there’s no pollen left in any of the controls!” The Doctor didn’t bother pulling his head out from where he was currently wedged to answer her, but instead continued with his tinkering. “I would like our next trip to be somewhere more interesting than some dream worlds devised from a psychotic portion of my own psyche.” He paused for a moment, hands ever moving, and Amy hesitated. She did not want to interrupt him if he was in a rare moment of sharing. “And don’t touch that!”
Amy rolled her eyes, looking down at the console, “Please, I wasn’t going to press it. Besides, I’m not even convinced all these thingys even do something. You just want to feel important with all your light up buttons.”
The Doctor didn’t reply, seemingly once more caught up in his work. Amy leaned back on the console, staring at the doorway Rory had wandered through half an hour earlier in search of the toilet (“Third time lucky!”).
“It’s not that hard to find the bathroom,” she muttered to herself, pondering on her fiancé and his… quirks. She felt somehow more at peace with herself now she really knew her own mind, which man she would choose in the end, but the whole ordeal with the so-called Dream Lord had left her decidedly unsettled. How anyone could think so badly of themselves that they could create a whole twisted alter-ego from their own self depreciating thoughts, well, Amy was still trying to wrap her head around it. Whenever she thought she was starting to understand him, a whole other layer was unveiled, complicating any picture she had been putting together. “An ogre is like an onion,” she whispered to herself, recalling a remnant of her childhood. And yet, there were parts of the Doctor she was just so sure of. His determination no matter the odds, his love for exploration and adventure, his admiration for enduring life, be it human, alien or… other. These were facts of the Doctor in her head no matter what any alter ego may try to tell her.
“You know what they say about talking to yourself?” his voice sounded from down below. “Also, did you just call me an ogre?”
“Yes, yes the first sign of madness, like you can talk. And don’t eavesdrop on personal conversations.” Amy punctuated her sentence by poking out her tongue in his general direction before settling back on the console.
“I was going to say that it’s good for the vocal cords, who says it’s a sign of madness?” The Doctor’s scruffy head popped out from somewhere vaguely below her, wearing a look of concern on his face.
Amy rolled her eyes again and leaned back on her hand, “I wonder about your brain sometimes you know.”
“Um, Amy?” The Doctor was still looking at her, but his look of concern was looking less vague now and more focused.
“What? I wasn’t calling you mad y’know. Or an ogre for that matter, is your self-esteem really that low?”
“No, I-er… which button is your hand leaning on?” The Doctor was slowly pulling himself out from under the console as if he was afraid of moving towards her too quickly.
Amy turned and look down at her hand, “One of the light up ones, it looks a bit like a car’s reverse light, why?”
“Well is it lit up now?” he asked as he slowly stood, edging towards her.
“Um no, because I was leaning on it. Is that bad? Nothing seems to have happened. What does it do anyway?” Amy had now turned completely and was inspecting the button as if she could glean anything from the squiggles adorning the consoles. ‘Gallifreyan’ he had told her once, which was why the TARDIS didn’t bother translating it. Why translate your own language?
“That was our temporal shields… and you just turned them off.” He was next to her now, hand hovering over the large button. “The TARDIS doesn’t need anymore ships through her.” The Doctor lowered his hand to press the button once more and was only a mere millimetre away when they were both thrown backwards onto the TARDIS floor by a sudden jolt, rocking the ship as if they were in flight.
“What the hell?” Amy cursed, rubbing her shoulder where it had hit the ground, “What was that? And what is a temporal shield anyway? Doesn’t that mean time, why do we need a time shield?” She glanced at the Doctor who was giving her a look that made her feel like an ape in the zoo that had just chosen to eat it’s own faeces instead of ripe fruit. “…Because we’re in a time-machine,” she answered for herself, wishing Rory was in the room to say something to take the edge off what had been a blatantly stupid comment on her behalf. “But what can crash into a time machine? We’re in the Vortex! And anyway…”
Amy trailed off as she realised that the Doctor had stopped staring at her and was now staring at the other side of the console with a look that was cycling through emotions faster than she could blink, including guilt, shock, trepidation, amusement and a hint of… fear? She followed his eyes and gasped when she realised what he was staring at was not part of the TARDIS, but another man. A tall gangly man with crazy sticking up hair, wearing a brown pinstriped suit, and who was staring back at them with a mixture of shock and confusion.
The Doctor glanced at Amy from his place on the floor, “A time machine can crash into a time machine,” he murmured, moving his gaze back to the stranger.
“What?!” The pinstriped stranger repeated himself, still staring at them.
“I’d forgotten how often I used to say that,” the Doctor pulled himself to his feet and reached for Amy, not taking his eyes off the other man. The man meanwhile had begun touching the TARDIS controls, almost dancing around the console with what appeared to be practiced ease.
Amy frowned. The only person who touched the TARDIS like that, with a loving caress, was the Doctor. Well, a loving caress and uninhibited violence. There was also something about that suit that seemed familiar. The stranger was now talking to himself as he inspected the console’s various instruments, ranting about unlikely events and something about wearing vegetables.
“What were you saying about talking to yourself Amy?” The Doctor said with a slow smile. He seemed to be done taking in the scene in front of him and no longer seemed to have any issue with having a stranger appear in the TARDIS, even one who was touching his precious ship. He turned to the stranger, “Are you done?”
“I suppose, yeah…” the pinstriped man stopped quite suddenly and rubbed the back of his neck with one hand as he observed the room’s other occupants once more. “Though I’m still not sure how this can happen twice in the time I took the shields down… When are you then?” He stepped forwards, closer to the Doctor, tilting his head as his eyes roamed up and down taking in the Doctor from head to toe.
“After you. Immediately after I should say,” the Doctor replied with a sad smile, “clearly I’m not before.”
“No, of course,” the pinstriped man frowned, “still not ginger then?” He glanced up at Amy then, seeming to take her in for the first time. “Picked up one though.” He grinned a goofy grin at her and turned back to the Doctor, “So I get younger again, that’s interesting. Though I choose to dress more my age, that’s nice, bowties are cool after all.”
Pieces suddenly clicked into place in Amy’s overworked brain, the familiar suit, it was what the Doctor had been wearing when they first met, the familiarity, the inexplicable belief that bowties are cool… “You’re him! I mean you’re you… I mean…” she looked between them trying to make sense of the situation. Both men were staring at her with amusement dancing in their eyes.
“Oh I like her,” the pinstriped Doctor said, “she’s good.”
Her Doctor smiled looking very pleased with himself, “Oh yes, and you’re going to love her name.” He had turned away from her now, fully absorbed with the man who turned out to be his former self.
“I’m right here you know,” Amy pouted at both of them, still not entirely understanding what was going on.
Her Doctor ignored her, continuing to talk to…himself, “Amelia Pond!”
The new… old Doctor grinned and bounced on the balls of his feet, “Amelia Pond!” he repeated, emphasising the ‘d’ and looking as if he was testing the feel of her name. “How long has she been with us then?”
Her Doctor glanced at Amy briefly, apparently remembering that she was actually standing there as he talked about her. “Oh pretty much ever since…” he looked at his former self pointedly.
“Ah, very good, I’d glad. I mean, I assume I’m not going to remember this until I’m on the other side of this conversation, but it’s good to know…” The pinstriped Doctor was frowning thoughtfully again as he looked between them.
The slight look of guilt and fear was back in her Doctors eyes again as he replied, “Yeah, you will find someone else too, before you’re me that is, and she’s… well she’s worth it. And ginger! Well not exactly but-“
“You really do just travel the universe picking up women don’t you?” Amy and both Doctors turned to see Rory standing in the entry to the hallways of the TARDIS, looking confused. “Also, did you know there’s a swimming pool back there?”
Amy smiled at her fiancé, glad to know there was someone else as confused as her right now. “Rory, this is the Doctor… apparently.”
The pinstriped Doctor grinned again, “Right, sorry how rude of me, I’m the Doctor, nice to meet you both, but then you’ve already met me! Well one me anyway.”
“How many yous has there been?” Rory asked as he took his place next to Amy, taking her hand.
“Ten.” The pinstriped Doctor replied at the same time her bow tied Doctor said, “Eleven.” Amy rolled her eyes as they both grinned very similar goofy grins at each other.
“So you’re Ten then?” she asked the newer (to her) Doctor who nodded at her, “So you’re Eleven?” she asked her Doctor who smiled at her and nodded as well.
“I do like her,” Ten said to his later self, “has she been introduced to Jack?”
Eleven cringed before answering, “Er no, he’s a bit… busy at the moment, probably not a good time. Although, it may cheer him up.” He smirked slightly, glancing at her.
“Hey!” Rory protested glaring at them both, “As if it wasn’t bad enough I had to fend you off her, now you want to introduce her to someone else?”
“Oh yes,” Ten said, looking Rory up and down, “Captain Jack would like you too. I like him,” he added, smiling at Rory, “he’s got a backbone. Probably more than Mickey the idiot.”
“Yeah,” Eleven smiled fondly, “we like him.”
Rory turned to Amy as the Doctors started figuring out how they were going to reverse the whole TARDIS merging ordeal once more, “Did he say he likes me? Did you know he likes me?”
Amy laughed, kissing Rory on the cheek fondly, “Why would he keep us around if he didn’t?”
“I assume this will work the same way as it did before with the me with the vegetable? Reverse the effects and…?” Doctor Ten was saying to Doctor Eleven.
“And the paradox will correct itself and you’ll forget, yeah.” Her Doctor looked a little sad at this statement. “You won’t remember until it happens again, well, now… when you’re me.”
Rory was shaking his head as if it would help any part of that sentence make more sense while Amy processed the finer details of the conversation between the Doctors. “You’ve met other versions of you before?” she asked, looking between them, “This is normal?”
“It is when you have been travelling time and space for as long as I have,” her Doctor smiled at her. “There’s a lot of me out there!”
“Haven’t seen the one with the-” Ten made a gesture with his hands seeming to indicate large hair, “for a while though. You seen him?”
“No,” her Doctor frowned, “I did like that scarf too. Maybe next time ey?” he said looking cheerfully hopeful. “Well, we better get moving on, before the universe collapses and all that.”
“Yes, yes, good idea!” Ten was moving back towards the console with his future self in tow as Rory looked horrified.
“That’s been a possibility?!” he cried looking at the TARDIS’ other occupant in alarm.
“More than a possibility Rory,” their Doctor said as he moved around the console in his practiced dance, “that’s what will happen in-“ he glanced at the monitor as he passed it, “-two minutes if we, that is I, don’t separate the TARDIS from its former self!”
Amy sighed and sat in the chair next to the console, pulling Rory down next to her. Trust the Doctor not to mention a fact so important. She believed however, that just one Doctor could fix it, and this problem had two working on it. “Doesn’t this seem like something that should have been mentioned sooner?” Rory asked her, frowning at her calm expression.
She shrugged, glancing back at the Doctors as both finished their dance at the same time, “I’m sure he would have if either one of him was worried.”
The pinstriped Doctor smiled at her again from across the console, “Oh yes, I did well in choosing you.” Amy blushed a little. Proper compliments (ones that weren’t veiled in what sounded like insults to her species) from the Doctor were few and far between. He turned back to his future self, rubbing the back of his neck again, “No point in parting words really, since I won’t remember them anyway.”
Her Doctor smiled and shook his head, “A pity, there’s a few pieces of advice you could probably use. Like avoid Mars, put the shield back on faster than you plan to, don’t embarrass yourself so much in front of Donna, call Sarah Jane more often, oh and Martha…” he paused for a moment smiling in a nostalgic way across the console, “Also, we should really stop letting our feelings get in the way of stopping the Master. Not necessarily in that order.”
Amy glanced between the two Doctors in the silence that followed her Doctor’s little rant. Then Doctor Ten took a breath and smiled, “So I see Donna again? Not touching the Master thing with a barge pole, which reminds me, we haven’t gone punting in a while, you should go punting! As long as you don’t get trapped in any triangles which does seem unlikely now there’s no other Time Lords, but you never do know with these things!”
“Um, isn’t the universe exploding or something?” Rory spoke up, looking between both Doctors and frowning.
Doctor Ten looked at Rory and nodded, “He’ll come in useful if he keeps that up. Off I go then, allons-y!”
The Doctors grinned at each other again, hands hovering over levers, “Yes, allons-y, that was fun to say!” her Doctor grinned, gripping on to his lever, “Oh and you’ll get to say ‘allons-y Alonso’ today!” He laughed at the look of pure glee on his previous self’s face.
“Fantastic!” Doctor Ten cried and yanked down on his lever. The TARDIS jerked once more, shaking Amy and Rory onto the floor. Amy sat up and watched as the pinstriped Doctor faded back out of the TARDIS as if he’d never been there. He caught her eye and smiled, “Amelia Pond. Look after me Amelia Pond!” his voice was fading now as well as the rest of him, but as he blinked out of sight they heard an echo. “And watch out for Captain Jack!”
The TARDIS stilled and resumed its usual hum as Amy and Rory pulled themselves to their feet, staring at the Doctor. “Punting?” Amy questioned, watching as the Doctor finally got to press the large light up button, which had caused the whole situation. “Triangles?”
“Ah yes,” the Doctor turned back to them at last, “I did used to talk a rather lot.”
“Are you telling me there’s a version of you that hasn’t?” Amy grinned, playfully punching him on the shoulder.
Rory snorted and took Amy’s hand, frowning in thought. “Are there really ten other yous out there somewhere that I have to fend off my fiancé?” he asked the Doctor, not really looking all that concerned as much as he was mystified.
The Doctor looked mildly insulted, as he answered, “You didn’t have to fend me off! And no offence to Amy, but none of the other mes would need fending either.”
Amy looked at him thoughtfully and smiled, “So just this Captain Jack fellow then?”
The Doctor paused, then looked at Rory apologetically, “Oh yes, I’m afraid if we run in to him I won’t be able to help you there.”
Rory gave Amy a cautious sidelong look, as if he thought she had disappeared while he wasn’t looking, even though he was still holding her hand. “Well, maybe we just shouldn’t go to where he’s from then, what time does he live in?”
The Doctor grinned then, turning back to the console and began his usual dance, pulling them back out of the Vortex. “Oh that’s the thing Rory. When it comes to Captain Jack Harkness, he could be in any given time or place in the universe! Including your time on Earth,” the Doctor winked at Rory before yanking on another lever. “But none of that now, we should go punting! I haven’t been punting in ages you know.”
“So I hear,” Amy smiled, “but aren’t you going to follow any other pieces of your own advice first, aren’t there people you should be calling?”
The Doctor gave her a sad smile as he pushed in a knob and smashed his fist on another button, “I have seen all those people since I spoke to myself, none of them need me right now. Punting! Allons-y!”
They all fell back as the Doctor punched in the final button and hurtled the TARDIS through time and space. Rory smiled at her from his place on the floor next to her and then glanced at the Doctor. “What does that even mean?”