Title: How Iris Wildthyme finally got her man
Pairing: Tenth Doctor/the Beryl Reid Iris
Word count: 1500ish
Spoilers/Setting: Set somewhere between Doomsday and the next Christmas special. No spoilers except The Big One that everyone knows. Er, and the 2006 annual, if that's something we warn for.
Rating: Erm, PG-13? (They do it, but not very explicitly.)
Loneliness was a funny thing. The Doctor knew well enough that you could be lonely in company, as ultimately he had been with Rose. But he was lonelier still without her.
He put a cabbage on his shoulder and talked to it, but it rotted and he decided he'd probably gone a bit strange. So he looked for more conventional ways to deal with the loneliness.
He knew that you're never alone with a good book, because that was very much the sort of thing he knew. But he was finding it increasingly difficult to find one that he hadn't influenced the writing of, directly or indirectly.
And of course he had always said that he was never alone with his TARDIS. He did a lot of work on her, poking and prodding with his sonic screwdriver. And more.
* * *
Although initially glad to have him all to herself for a change, the TARDIS eventually grew tired of his constant attentions, particularly the console-licking, which was a new development in their relationship and not one she found she was all that keen on. So she dropped him off at the monument, something she had once promised herself she would never do, even as she knew she would eventually break the promise.
It would be OK. He was over the Time War. She hoped.
* * *
The Doctor was unimpressed by the statue -- not a very good likeness of any of his incarnations, all in all -- and was on the verge of heading back when he spotted the graffito.
"You are not alone."
The knowledge obsessed him. For days, he followed the vaguest of clues, the merest of hints, tantalising traces in the timestreams, each scrap of evidence sending him into a fresh burst of feverish excitement. Slowly, so slowly, the strands coalesced into a nexus of probability. Somehow he wasn't too surprised to find that it was densest in the South East of England.
Rather more shakily than he'd have liked, given all the repairs he'd been doing, the TARDIS materialised. He stepped out, and found it was parked next to a double decker bus in a fetching, if slightly peeling, coat of red paint, sitting rather incongruously at the bottom of a largeish suburban garden.
"Iris? Oh, you're joking! The Time Lords were wiped out completely, and the only survivors were me and Iris bloody Wildthyme?"
* * *
Iris Wildthyme (who preferred not to disclose her middle name, but it wasn't Bloody) was in her cluttered sitting room knitting an overlarge tea cosy when she heard the familiar elephant-roar of a Type 40 TARDIS materialising. "I always knew he'd come back to me!" she proclaimed to the empty room. "I said so, didn't I? All those times when he was playing hard to get I knew he'd be mine eventually. I knew it, I knew it!"
She rushed out into the garden as fast as her only-ever-so-slightly-past-its-prime body could manage, grinning from ear to ear. Down at the bottom, she could see the Doctor's lovely blue TARDIS, and coming towards her a man dressed mainly in beige. Which wasn't too promising. As they got closer, though, she decided that this new Doctor would do very nicely indeed. When she got close enough, she wrapped him up in a huge hug, which he pushed away rather less forcefully than usual.
"Oh, Doctor, I do declare you get sexier with every regeneration. What's this, your ninth body?"
"Tenth, actually," the Doctor said, scratching the back of his neck.
"Oh no, I missed a whole incarnation! What was he like?"
"Northern. Prone to moodswings. Short hair," he added thoughtfully, looking up at the strands of his own fringe that were flopping down onto his forehead.
"Ooh, I bet he was just like Sean Bean in Lady Chatterley's Lover!"
"Er, no, not really--"
"I shall have to go back and meet him," Iris continued, ignoring him completely.
"No, Iris, I absolutely forbid it. It was bad enough you visiting me out of order all the time when the Time Lords were still around. But now it's far too dangerous. Absolutely not."
"Ooh, you know I love it when you get all stern, Doctor. That's why I liked your third self so much. Do it again. Tell me how terrible it would be to violate the Laws of Time, now that we two are their sole guardians. Go on!"
"It would be terrible," said the Doctor perfunctorily. "Aren't you going to invite me in?"
* * *
"So how did you survive?" the Doctor asked as they drank their tea. It seemed polite to ask.
"I retconned myself!" Iris cackled. "There's a reason I keep my origins obscure, you know, Doctor, it lets me switch them about. The first time you blew up Gallifrey I managed to survive because just maybe I came from the Obverse, but I didn't think that was going to work again. So I developed a new backup plan. And when the Daleks disappeared from time, well, the writing seemed to be on the wall, so I implemented it. Now I'm an eccentric human inventor, who turned a disused Number 22 bus into a time machine and goes on adventures in it with my young nephew Tom. We're forever running into the Zarbi, for some reason ..."
While she rabbited on about foiling the Zarbi Invasion of Earth in the year 2525, which the Doctor wasn't entirely sure had ever happened, he took a scone, licking experimentally at the cream and the jam, carefully making sure not to cross-contaminate between the two. And he looked at Iris in a way that he never had before. She was gorgeous, he realised. Her lined face was warm and compassionate, her grey hair beautiful, and although her clothes did a good job of hiding it she had a wonderful body, and he knew full well she had the experience to match.
He popped the scone into his mouth and used the chewing time to work out the best approach to take. "But if you're now a human and always have been, how can you still remember all that other stuff? Gallifrey and the Laws of Time and, erm, fancying me?"
"Oh, Doctor, Doctor, lovely Doctor," she stopped and looked at his face more closely, "very lovely Doctor, you'll never get it, will you? You and your precious continuity! I don't know."
There was a pause that stretched out to just the point where the Doctor was wondering whether Iris wasn't as clever as he'd thought she was.
"Wait a minute," she said, "you just admitted that you know I fancy you! Normally you pretend to be above that sort of thing, or baffled by it because you just don't get emotions."
"We-ell, there have been a few changes in that department recently. It was because of a young human girl, but ..." he leaned forward, in confidence-imparting mode, " ... turns out it's older women that I really like."
* * *
"Oi! Stop thinking about Romana," she pouted as she slid down onto him.
But he wasn't thinking about Romana. He was thinking about Sarah Jane, as she had been when he'd seen her recently. And Mrs Moore, the valiant freedom fighter from another universe entirely, who reminded him so much of what Ace might have become. And Jackie, who he would probably never see again now. He even thought of Cameca, who had accidentally been his fiancee so briefly, so long ago. Missed opportunities all.
But after a while, he thought only of Iris. And just for that night he wasn't lonely.
* * *
Out in the garden, the bus and the police box frantically exchanged block transfer computations, the air between them alive with the eldritch light of other universes.
After they were spent, their communication was far more subtle than any speech could ever be, and yet some crude form of translation can be attempted.
"Well, thank the Vortex for that!" said the Doctor's TARDIS.
"Took them long enough, didn't it?"
"Do you think this means it'll be OK to tell them about us?"
They thought about it: projections into the future based on past behaviour patterns, the ebb and flow of cause and effect that for them was as natural as breathing. Their conclusion was unanimous.
"Best not, eh?"