It had happened out of nowhere. The Doctor had been investigating strange happenings in a London side street with Clara, when suddenly a laser beam had shot out at them. As a reflex he had thrown himself in front of Clara and the next thing he knew he was lying on the pavement with the tell-tale signs of regeneration starting. He gasped, tried to get up again, but couldn’t.
Clara was kneeling next to him, her eyes wide open, fear in them. Frantically, she clinged to him, trying to find a way to make him more comfortable.
“What’s happening? Please don’t die… please… Do you need a doctor?”
“Ha ha, very funny, never heard that one before…” he managed. She knew as well as he that nobody on Earth had the slightest idea how to deal with his body. And it was too late anyway.
“I need… the TARDIS. Help me, please.”
Luckily they hadn’t parked very far away, and so with her help he made it to the TARDIS in time before someone saw something they shouldn’t.
When he stumbled through the door, the regeneration process had well set in, light coming from everywhere on his body, and he fell to his knees, threw his head back and screamed. In those few minutes before a new body formed, he could see all of life and the universe and all the people he had ever met and lost and sometimes met again. It was too much; not even his brain could take it and so, after a last intense spike of pain, he fell to the floor, passed out.
He awoke as if from a bad dream, still a bit wobbly. Slowly, he got up. He turned and saw Clara standing there, watching him warily. Great. Again he would have to do the whole “It’s still me, see?” speech. You would think it got easier with practice, but it didn’t. He sighed and then just went for it.
“Clara, I know this must seem most unusual, but we Timelords do regenerate if we are hurt badly and would die otherwise. Not a pleasant process, mind you… But inside, I’m still the same old Doctor. Just with a new face. See?” And he made some grimaces to make her smile. No success.
She seemed to have lost her ability to speak at all. He felt very uncomfortable, not knowing what to do. He never had handled emotions very well, and it seemed this new regeneration was in no way different than the past. He sighed again, looking down at himself, where his clothes hang on him like on a rack.
“Okay, look, I need to find something else to wear. I’ll just be over there in my wardrobe. We’ll talk later, I promise. And I’ll answer all your questions. But for the moment, I need to be alone with my new self. Do you understand?”
She nodded slowly and he fled the room.
The wardrobe of the TARDIS was a huge room full of clothes rails and drawers filled with shirts, trousers, jackets, coats, vests, hats, shoes, ties, bow ties, clocks and other odds and ends. He stood in the middle of the room and looked around as if he saw it for the very first time.
He glanced only briefly to the left side. There hang Rose’s dresses and Peri’s hot pants and also the miniskirts Amy had so loved.
Memories of past times full of adventures. Not all of them had ended well.
Rather, he turned towards the right side that held his own past. There, the colorful coat which looked like something out of “Jesus Christ Superstar” – had he really worn this some time? And this overlong scarf – how he had managed to not get entangled in it all the time was beyond him. Although, the hat hadn’t been that bad. He would have to find out whether his new face was a hat-face. He always had loved his hats. And that black leather jacket also was a classic one. But he would keep that one a little bit longer. It felt like yesterday that he had last worn it.
He rummaged around a bit more, pushed the coat hangers and sometimes shook his head, amused. He hadn’t seen that tank top* with all the question marks and the matching umbrella in a while. And next to it were the striped pyjamas and the bathrobe in which he had fought the importunate Sycorax. He always had wanted to do a good clean-out in here but never had found the time in between his savings of different worlds.
Finally he came to the end of this clothes rail and stopped dead in his tracks. There hang an old RAF coat. That belonged to Jack. It had remained on board of the TARDIS when their ways had parted at Satellite 5.
The Doctor flinched and scolded himself. More like when he had abandoned Jack there. They had met again a few times afterwards and also had cleared the air between them, but at the time Jack already had a new coat and never had asked for this one back. The Doctor sighed. It had been a long time, he missed his friend. Of all the companions who ever had travelled with him, only Jack could really comprehend what it meant to live forever and to lose beloved ones all the time.
Since Jack did not have any address in Cardiff anymore it had become harder to find him. Somehow they seemed to just miss each other all the time. He really should try to change that.
Once he had found something suitable to wear.
He still was only half-dressed when he suddenly felt an urge he needed to satisfy immediately. He searched through all his drawers but all he could come up with was an empty bag. Bag in hand he stormed out of the door, to Clara who still stood there wide-eyed and motionless.
“Can you get me some Jelly Babies?”
“Yes, Jelly Babies, colorful sweets which are shaped like babies?” Wow, his new self was a snarky one. Interesting.
“I know what Jelly Babies are!” Clara shot back. He loved when she got all fierce. It reminded him of the first time he had met her. Maybe he could bring out this side of her more often in the future.
So, instead of apologizing, he just grinned and said, “Well, then you know where to find them, right?”
“I’m not your housekeeper!” Okay, time to back down. He didn’t want to make her really angry, just teasing a bit. Testing out their new relationship. Making her settle in, getting used to his new form. Time for a new tactic.
“Look, some regenerations ago, I used to like them very much, and it seems my sweet tooth has returned now. I’d go myself, but surely you understand I can’t be seen out in the streets like this?” And he added some puppy eyes for effect. Which was immediate.
She looked him up and down and he could see a smile slowly return to her face. Yeah, that was much better. Surely he was a funny sight in his underwear. Who cared.
“Okay, I’ll go get them. But when I am back and you are dressed, we need to talk. And if you ever scare me like that again, I… I…” She couldn’t come up with a serious threat, so she just threw her hands into the air which looked very comical, and left.
The Doctor slowly turned, walked back to the wardrobe and looked into the mirror. So that was his new self. Still not ginger, but the hints of grey suited him quite nicely. Intense, burning eyes. Interesting face with some lines in the right places. This man looked as if he had seen quite a few things in the universe already, and it made a nice change from his last incarnation. He had joked about it, but there had been indeed the fear that next time he would come back as a teenager. He just could picture himself standing up to the Daleks or the Cybermen, looking like something that came out of High School Musical.
No, this was much better. He’d get used to his new features and new personality; he actually looked forward to finding out more about himself. Each time was a new adventure which never got boring.
He still hoped that the next regeneration was a long time into the future.
The fun was just beginning!