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Twelfth Doctor Drabbles

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For a moment it felt like his insides were becoming his outsides. Then, breathing heavily, Psi stumbled into a dimly lit space.

Gentle hands steadied him. “It’s okay,” Saibra smiled up at him. “Yeah, I’m still not dead, and neither are you.”

“How?”

“The Doctor was wrong! The shredders don’t kill you, they’re teleports.” She gestured around. “We’re on the bridge of a ship above the planet.”

“What about Clara and the Doctor?”

“Don’t know,” she grinned, “but I just figured out how to get back into the bank.”

“And what’s that?” Psi asked, gesturing at a big blue box.

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“Will they be alright?” Clara asked as they reentered the TARDIS, “the Teller and…his mate?”

“It’s a peaceful planet. Plenty of plant and animal life, no people, and a half-way decent climate.” The Doctor shrugged. “They’ll have a chance.”

Saibra glanced up from the scanner. “Now what?”

“Yeah,” Psi folded his arms, “what happens to us?”

“That’s up to you two. I can take you home or you can stay! We can explore the wonders of the universe, solve historical mysteries-“

“Anyone else hungry?”

The Doctor side-eyed Clara and then smiled. “Or we could just get takeout. Chinese, anyone?"

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Rigsy stared in stunned horror at the spot where the Doctor had stood. “What happens now?”

“You go home,” Mayor Me replied, looking paler than ever.

“And you wipe my memories?” Tears he’d held onto finally rolled down his cheeks. “So I’ll forget Clara and the Doctor and what they did for me?”

“Wouldn’t that be easier?”

“Nevermind easy! It’s not right!” He wiped his face. “None of this is right! And forgetting won’t change that.” He moved to stand in front of her. “I need my memory.”

The Mayor wouldn’t meet his eyes. “I’ll see what I can do.”

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They’d invited him to the funeral, of course. But Rigsy couldn’t bring himself to return to the street where they’d knowingly sentenced him to death for something he hadn’t done. He figured Clara would understand.

Instead, he found the police box again and began painting. He hadn’t used a brush in a while, no need for that with graffiti; so he started with flowers and vines, twining each around the other over the door. Then he painted Clara’s face, smiling and open like she’d been the first time they’d met.

“I’m sorry,” Rigsy said quietly as he finished. “And thanks.”

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Clara regrets it instantly. “Tomorrow’s promised to no one, Doctor, but I insist upon my past,” she had said, meaning every word. But she did it anyway. Why? They’re neither of them kids but here they are, like teenagers daring each other to greater risks.

The hope that nothing will happen ends when the Doctor crumples to the floor. The questions run through her head as she’s holding him, begging him to remember.

He’d lost others. She even knew some of their names. Why was this loss a step too far? Why did she agree to take it with him?

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He knew what it meant - he wasn’t an idiot (except, of course, when he was).

The TARDIS sound as the diner disappeared around him. The picture of the waitress painted on the door of his ship. Clara. She was Clara.

He tried to put her face to the memories in his head, the things they’d done together. He couldn’t make it stick, her image just slipped away like sand through his fingers. He could go after her, but he felt no compulsion to do so any more. The connection was broken.

The Doctor sighed. “Run you clever girl. And remember.”

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The Doctor tossed several kernels of popcorn into his mouth. The Victorian woman sitting beside him frowned at his loud munching and pointedly ignored him when he offered her the bag.

The play began normally, but soon something odd happened.

“…Must yet more certain cures than smiles impart,” the lead actor intoned for the twelfth time in a row.

Meanwhile, the other audience members seemed frozen mid-applause. The Doctor waved a hand in front of the woman beside him. “Temporal anomaly,” he muttered when she didn’t react. He stood up with a sigh. “I suppose I better look into this-”

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“‘Scuse me,” the Doctor began, stopping a stranger on the street, “do you where Aphra Behn is?”

The man looked surprised. “Why?”

“I’m looking for her, of course. She’s a playwright, or will be, but right now she’s a spy for King Charles.”

“Lower your voice, sir!” The man backed away. “The war-”

“War,” the Doctor scoffed. “There are more important things…hey wait!” The man ran toward the docks, dropping a small case in his hurry. Picking it up, the Doctor read the name “William Scot” engraved on the lid. “Riiiight,” he muttered, “that explains the paradox, I suppose.”

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“Wait,” the Doctor called, chasing after William Scot. “I’m sorry if I startled you, but the whole history of English literature depends on your actions here.”

Scot spotted a group of Dutch soldiers and pelted toward them. “Help! I’m pursued by an English spy!”

“English,” The Doctor exclaimed. “Do I sound English to you? I’m clearly Gallifreyan-”

“He’s working with a woman named Aphra Behn,” Scot continued, “stop him before he can complete his nefarious plans.”

“On second thought,” the Doctor backed away as the soldiers approached, “perhaps I can fix this on my own.”

Then he turned and ran.

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The Doctor watched Aphra leave. Keeping to the shadows to avoid the searching soldiers, he ran to his TARDIS. After piloting the ship back a week, he changed his clothes and began loudly proclaiming the faults of Charles II in every inn in town. On the second day he was approached by an English conspirator. On the fifth, the man invited him to their next meeting.

On the seventh night, he waited in the shadows of the same street for Aphra to pass by. “Everything is going like clockwork,” he smiled, “all that’s left to do is to betray her.”

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The evening was glorious. The food was delicious, the company delightful, and the Singing Towers more than lived up to their name. Still, one restaurant can’t keep a couple entertained forever.

So they explored Darillium together - helping people, getting into and out of trouble as they traveled. Then they began fixing the TARDIS, finally working on most of the Doctor’s long put off repairs list and bickering happily along the way.

Still, one planet can’t keep a time and space traveling couple occupied forever, especially when they’re River Song and the Doctor. And besides, everything ends eventually.

But not yet…

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River opened the doors to the TARDIS and glanced around the control room. Then she stepped smoothly inside and closed the doors behind her before rushing to the console to enter coordinates.

The TARDIS made a small, disapproving noise.

“Oh hush! Last I saw he was explaining how clever he was to a group of scientists. He’ll be at it for hours! Long enough for a short trip. I’ll be back before he even notices I’m gone.” River smiled up at the time rotor. “What do you say Old Girl? One more spin around the universe, just you and me?”

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Bill sniffed tearfully. Only yesterday she’d told the Doctor about not having photos of her mum. Now here was a box full of snapshots, each one a glimpse into the life of a woman she’d never known. Bill smiled in disbelief. It felt miraculous, like she’d somehow wished them into existence.

She paused to study one. In a mirror behind her mother she could see the person taking the photograph. The reflection was fuzzy, but it looked just like the Doctor. But that couldn’t be right…could it? Bill made a mental note to ask him about it next term.

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The more she looked at the photo the surer she was the person in the reflection was the Doctor.

Had he known her mother and just not said? Was that the real reason he’d offered to be her tutor? How could he look the same back then as he did now?

The first day of the new term Bill bounded up the stairs to the Doctor’s office, her head full of a million questions. But then she noticed the rug she’d given him laying under the police box in the corner and for a moment she forgot all other mysteries.

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Bill woke to the Doctor shaking her gently. “Are you alright?” he asked, helping her up.

She froze when she saw the other humans. “Are they dead?”

“No. I fixed it.”

“How?”

“Magic haddock!”

“Again with the haddock! Are you ever gonna explain what that means?”

“Yes, but if I tell you now you’ll have to listen to me explain it again later to them.” He gestured toward the unconscious colonists.

She thought about that for a moment. “I’ll wait.”

“Good choice.”

“But seriously, what did you do?”

“I rebooted the system, with a few changes.”

“Oh. Is that all?”

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Bill pointed to the edge of the Frost Fair. “Is that…a police box? I thought it was too early for those?”

The Doctor grabbed her elbow and steered her in the opposite direction. “That’s a TARDIS. My TARDIS, in fact. I did say I’d been here before.”

“What happens if you run into yourself?”

“Not a problem. Vicki, Steven, and my first self should be off with Jane Austen right now.”

“What!?”

“And stay away from London Bridge. You might run into me and my wife being serenaded by Stevie Wonder.”

“Huh?”

The Doctor shrugged. “It was her birthday.”

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“So,” Bill leaned against the Doctor’s desk, “I’m moving out.”

“Moving? Where?”

“I’m staying in town, no worries. Just moving out of my foster mom’s place, in with some friends.”

“And?”

“I’ve stuff to move, but I don’t have a car.”

“Okay?”

“You’ve got a magic box that can go...anywhere.”

The Doctor rolled his eyes. “It’s not magic! Wait…are you wanting to use my TARDIS like a moving van?”

“Why not? It’s huge in there!”

“It’s a time and space machine!”

“That’s a no. That’s…fine.”

The Doctor studied her disappointed expression and sighed. “When are you moving?”

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The Doctor grinned at Bill. “You’re moving out? That’s exciting!”

“Yeah. My foster mom is great and all…”

“But you want your own space. Somewhere to spread your wings.”

“Something like that.”

“I can help.”

Bill looked dubious. “How?”

The Doctor pointed to the TARDIS.

“What?”

“You’ve got stuff to move, right?”

“You want to use your space ship like a moving van?”

“She's not busy doing anything else.”

“You got us lost in the 1800s trying to make it home for tea.”

“Are you saying you don’t want my help?"

Bill studied his disappointed expression and sighed. “Alright then.”

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“I’m trapped. You don't understand-”

The Doctor glanced at the pictures of Susan and River. They were only photos but they seemed to give him a sidelong look.

“Alright, yes I did leave you on Earth without a means of escape,” he said to Susan, “but that was a long time ago. And okay,” he turned to River, “you were falsely imprisoned for years to protect the fabric of time. But I broke you out for adventures! You broke yourself out even more, so it’s not the same-“

The photos stared at him, silently judging.

“Shut up,” he muttered sullenly.

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“That’s the last of the Daleks-” Clara noticed Me’s expression. “What?”

“They have information about the Doctor in their databanks.”

“Hardly surprising.“

“He’s serving as Missy’s warden, back on Earth.”

"What's she done now?”

“Unknown, but she was scheduled for execution-“

Clara leaned over Me’s shoulder to read the entry. “And he saved her? How many Danny Pinks is it going to take for him to realize-“

“It was after he lost River. Really lost her…permanently. And they wanted him to execute his oldest friend, his oldest enemy. Of course he couldn’t do it.”

Clara sighed sadly. “Oh Doctor.”

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“It’s really odd,” Bill said, “that you should drop by just in time to interrupt my date.”

The Secretary General of the UN looked guilty. “Yes, I’m sorry about that.”

“And in the other version, the computer simulation that the Doctor got trapped in, it was the Pope who interrupted.”

“Excuse me?”

“Yes, exactly.” Bill laughed bitterly. “I know this is real life but if this were fiction I’d think my life was being written by someone who thinks my love life, or lack there of, is a joke.”

“Ummm…”

“It’d probably be a man. No offense…sir.”

“None taken.”

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“Love is slavery” - hadn’t the Doctor said that? And the creatures had said “if your consent is impure it will kill you” before they’d destroyed all the others.

There was a lot Bill didn’t understand about life, aliens, or saving the world, but she knew they were both wrong. Love wasn’t slavery. Consent could never be truly given under threat of death. So what was really going on here?

She wished the Doctor and Nardole were around. She wished she wasn’t alone. She wished none of this was happening. But it was, so she stepped forward and asked for help.

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“Doctor?” Bill twisted a blade of grass between her fingers as she watched students walk past. “You said you’d saved the world by giving me those photos of my mum-”

“You heard that did you?”

“Yeah. Thing is…I’ve been talking to my mom for ages, long before I met you.”

“…Okay-”

“So I’d already created her personality, the photos just gave her a face.”

He turned to look at her. “And?”

“Doesn’t that mean I actually saved the world? Not you?”

The Doctor thought about it. “Maybe. But I did figured out the device.”

Bill grinned. “Team effort then?”

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Bill looked at the light cycles in amazement. “Like Tron!”

The Doctor strapped on his helmet. “That’s what Ace said.”

“Who?”

“Someone I used to travel with.” He looked up to see a woman approaching. “Marla, I presume?”

“Yes Doctor.” She turned towards Bill and smiled. “Hello Bill.”

Bill opened her mouth but no words came out. She recognized the voice as the one that had guided them here, but this woman was gorgeous and was standing really close…and smiling at her.

“Hiya…Marla,” Bill managed weakly at last.

“Hop on,” the Doctor said, oblivious. “They’re right behind us.”

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The Doctor leaned back in his chair and sighed. He was decidedly, irrefutably bored.

“I’m heading out,” Bill said, grabbing her jacket. “Do you need anything?”

“A life,” he grumbled. “Off to do something fun?”

She made a face. “Not really. It’s just Wednesday, after all.”

“What’s wrong with Wednesdays? All sorts of interesting things happen on Wednesdays. Scientific discoveries, for example.” Standing up, he grinned at her. “You know what you need?”

“No.” Nardole wandered in from the next room. “You are not going off world.”

“Of course not! I was thinking more of a field trip…to NASA!”

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“I hate these creepy old houses,” Ace muttered.

“It’s just a house.” Bill sounded upbeat, but there was an undercurrent of fear in her voice. “I mean, sure, it looks like a set from a Vincent Price movie-“

“People still watch those in your time?”

“Yeah!”

Grinning at each other, they continued down the gloomy hallway. Then they heard the voice.

“Where’s that coming from?” Ace strode forward, following the sound.

“It’s probably just a TV or something.”

They turned the corner and saw a white, shimmering form hovering in front of them.

Bill swallowed hard. “Or it’s a ghost.”

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“So wrong!” Bill pulled off her earphones as she walked into the TARDIS.

The Doctor didn’t look up. “What’re you on about?”

“Just listening to a podcast on the Romans. They said that the Ninth Legion was wiped out.”

The Doctor blinked at her. “They were.”

“No, they just retreated. Trust me, I know all about this subject.”

“Trust me, I’m a time traveler. I know even more about the Romans than Amy and Rory did.”

“Who’re Amy and Rory? And you’re wrong, by the way.”

“I’m not and I’ll prove it. Go wake up Nardole. We’re going to Scotland.”

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Bill walked down the TARDIS corridors looking for the room. When she found it, it was nowhere near where the Doctor said it’d be.

“Nardole?” She knocked tentatively. “The Doctor wants us in the control room.”

There was silence for a moment, then a sleepy Nardole opened the door a crack to stare at her balefully. “All the work I do and he can’t entertain himself long enough for me to catch a nap?”

“Sorry.” Bill looked down and tried to keep from smiling. “Nice rubber ducky pajamas though.”

“Thanks.” He yawned. “I’ll get my robe and be right there.”

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Nardole glared across the TARDIS control room. On the far side, Missy and the Doctor were talking with quiet intensity. “Look at them. Thick as thieves.”

“I don’t trust her,” Bill said, joining him.

“Nor should you. I don’t know everything she’s done, but what I’ve heard is…terrifying.”

“She’s messing with him, right? With this whole crying bit? And he’s buying it, which I don’t get.”

“They used to be friends once.” Nardole shrugged. “River always said he never gave up on anyone.”

Bill frowned as Missy grabbed the Doctor’s hands. “Maybe, but I’ve a bad feeling about this.”

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“And what’s this ‘team’ thing?” Bill scoffed. “She’s not part of our team.”

“She’s just trying to get under our skin.”

“Exactly! Because she’s up to something.”

“Probably," Nardole grumbled. "But until we know what we’re stuck watching the Doctor’s back, like always.” Then his expression changed. He grabbed Bill’s hand and ushered her further into the TARDIS.

“Where’re we going?”

“There’s another databank terminal. You’re researching Missy, or the Master or whatever they’ve called themselves. I’m checking the engines.”

“You know how to repair them?”

“No, but I’d feel better if someone double-checked her work and if he won’t…”

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“Where did Thing One and Thing Two scurry off to?”

The Doctor frowned. “Bill and Nardole? No idea. Maybe they needed to eat or sleep?”

“Boring.” Missy twirled lazily. “Don’t think they like me very much.”

“It would help if you learned their names…”

“Why bother? Either they’ll die or you’ll get tired of them…or they’ll get tired of you.”

“It's not like that.”

“Isn’t it? How are Nyssa and Tegan these days?” The Doctor scowled at her. “Martha? Jo? Turlough? Ace? Clara?” She leaned in. “Adric?”

“That’s enough.”

“I’m just saying! They never stay for long, do they?”

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She’d put it off but now she needed to know.

There weren’t many mirrors in the hospital, most of the patients were beyond caring about their looks, but Bill found one among the junk in Mr. Razor’s quarters. “Right,” she placed the mirror in front of her and took a deep breath, “like pulling off a bandage.”

Bill opened her robe.

Where her chest had been was a mass of metal that shone dimly in the low light. Closing her eyes, she covered herself.

A tear rolled down her face, but she wiped it away. “Doctor, you better fix this.”

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“Bill, I’m sorry but you can’t be angry any more…”

Typical, Bill thought. Hadn’t men told women that for ages?

She felt power building in the weapon on her head, so she took some steadying breaths until it ebbed. It was so unfair! She had every right to be angry after being left alone for ten years with only the Master for company. After what they’d done to her.

Soon she sensed the Cyberman programing trying to drown out her thoughts and feelings again. Bill wrapped the anger she couldn’t express around herself like a clenched fist and pushed back.

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Missy listened to her other self laughing until the elevator dropped away. Obviously he’d escape the ship since her first memory as herself was waking up in her TARDIS…elsewhere.

It wasn’t the first time she’d managed to kill one of her previous selves. She’d been the bald-headed bureaucrat then, tussling with the desiccated Master and the Doctor with the hat and umbrella. She laughed, remembering.

But double self-murder, that was certainly new. As she began to lose consciousness she idly wondered how she’d escape this time. Because of course she would escape. She was the Mistress, she always survived.

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Polly Wright stumbled through the snow, looking for her two companions. She was particularly worried about the Doctor. He’d looked so frail during their trip to Lewes, but when she’d suggested they seek medical attention he’d changed the subject.

“Doctor?”

“Pol?”

She smiled when she recognized Ben Jackson’s voice. “Over here!”

“Duchess! You and the Doctor stay where you are and keep talking. I’ll find you.”

“The Doctor?” Polly frowned. “But he’s not here. Isn’t he with you?”

“Don’t tell me,” Ben said, coming into view, “that he gave us both the slip? Next time we’re putting bells on him!”

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Two forms shimmered into existence in the main chamber of Testimony.

Bill wiped her face but where she’d expected tears there was only smooth, cool glass. “We should’ve stayed longer-“

“No, it was time,” Nardole replied sadly. “Nice trick returning his memories of Clara. How’d you manage that?”

Bill frowned. “I…don’t know. Not even sure why I know who she is.”

“Because you’re just memories stored in a computer system and given temporary physical form. The Foundation clearly harvested Clara; maybe her memories got mixed up with yours?”

“That sounds…disturbing.”

“Could be worse. You could’ve gotten my memories.”

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“But if I have Clara’s memories and my own,” Bill began, “what does that mean?”

“You aren’t really you. You’re a construct…a Bill-ish one just like I’m a Nardole-ish one.”

“But my memories-“

“Memories aren’t all a person is. There’s also emotions, thoughts, the capacity to grow and learn.” Nardole took her hand. “At least the real you is out there seeing the universe! I’m probably dead.” He smiled ruefully. “It’s funny, nearly the same thing happened to River.” He paused. “She’s-“

“His wife, I know.”

“Oh...right.” He chuckled. “I can’t even get an original ending. Typical really...”

Chapter Text

The old man with messy hair stumbled into the room, blinking in surprise. The last thing he remembered was an explosion of light, the beginning of regeneration.

A young man wearing a bow tie leaned on the TARDIS console. “You took your time.”

“And that speech!” Another man in a brown suit studied the newcomer. “I was a talker and I only needed five words!”

The Twelfth Doctor looked at them in horror. “THIS can’t be the afterlife!”

“No,” the Eleventh Doctor replied. “This is our memories. But we’re all here. Come on! Can’t wait for you to meet Three.”