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At the Edge of a New Dawn

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"Remember the last time I saw you? When I told you how I'm usually about women and people my own age?" it's the first thing the Doctor hears. It's a woman's voice. Young. Not unfamiliar. "Should I be flattered?"

Who's that? C'mon, Doctor! Think think think! Regeneration. Explosion. Falling. Something else, something... not wrong — different. Something important, something... oh. Right. That. That's a first!

"What happened?" she (she!) asks. New accent — that's gonna take a while to get used to.

The other woman snorts. "You tell me," she says. "I caught you midair."

"I think— I think I fell from the TARDIS."

"Yeah, I saw her sort of... flickering away."

"She's probably just gone into the Vortex to finish... exploding," the Doctor explains, trying to get up (unsuccessfully). "She'll turn up once she's done. I hope."

The woman grabs her by the arm to help her up. "This would be a lot easier if you opened your eyes."

"I know!" she says. "I'm trying to find the on-switch. Give me a second."

She finally manages to lift her eyelids, just to be welcomed by more darkness. But there's a city in the distance, yellow lights forming an artificial aurora in the night sky. The air is chilly, the gravity confirms her suspicions that this is Earth (of course it is), and the woman who saved her is smiling at her expectantly. Now would be a very good time to remember who she is, or at least her name.

C'mon c'mon c'mon!

"Bill!" she basically yells, at last. Of course it's Bill, with her amazing hair and blinding smile and absolutely wonderful questions!

"I knew you couldn't be dead," she says, wrapping her arms around the Doctor. "You don't have the concentration."

"You already said that," the Doctor notes. Is she a hugger now? Well, she is for Bill, anyway. Bill gives the best hugs.

"No, I didn't."

Oh, right. That wasn't her. Or, she was her, but not this her.

They break the hug, but don't quite let go of each other, holding onto each other's hands, revelling in the simple fact that they're both here, both alive.

"Aren't you gonna ask how I survived?" Bill asks, then.

"Let me guess, you totally pulled."

"I totally did!" she says. "What about you?"

"Oh, the usual."

"The usual?"

"The North Pole, another me, another you, a World War I Captain, a good Dalek, glass ghosts."

"Glass ghosts?"

"Like I said, complicated," the Doctor concludes, and... why is the world spinning around, all of a sudden? And, thinking about it, it's like everything is six inches taller than it used to be. And now she's falling... perfect. The grass down there smells nice, at least. "Sorry, just regenerated. Still... wobbly."

"I like the new you, though," she says, holding her hand out. "Is that rude? Am I being rude? I really liked the old you too, and it's not like— I should probably shut up now, shouldn't I?"

"Yeah, I'd appreciate it," the Doctor says, back on her feet.

They're smaller, aren't they? Her feet are smaller, and so are her hands. She's shorter, and — she jumps and down a few times — yes, she's lighter, too. It's like someone washed her with hot water and she shrunk all over. That'll be useful the next time she has to climb inside an air duct, she guesses. And her clothes... she's raggedy again! She can fix that, though. Nose: nice. Ears: some of the best ones. Mouth: perfect for her nonsense. Hair: blonde?

"Am I blonde?" she asks Bill.

"Mostly," she answers, bending her head to the side. "Are they dyed? And, how are your ears pierced?"

The Doctor shrugs. "At least there are no weird tattoos this time..." she starts, looking down her shirt for confirmation. "By the way, where's Heather? Sorry, should've asked that earlier. Brain is still catching up."

"How do you even know about Heather?"

"Female intuition?"

"Oh, shut up!" Bill says, punching her on the shoulder. "We were on our way back from Ancient Mesopotamia when we saw you fall. Thought it'd be easier if it was just me. Didn't wanna confuse you or... anything."

And just like that, the Doctor starts laughing. And then she keeps on laughing and laughing and laughing. In the few seconds before she realises why she's doing that, she's almost afraid she's gone insane. Again.

"Doctor?" Bill calls, worried. "Doctor, is everything alright?"

"It's nothing," she tells her, almost hysterical. "I just realised the future is going to be all girls!"