Chapter Twenty Three

Without thinking, the Doctor ran to Rose's side. Ignoring his rule, he hugged her deeply while Gaz stared at him in shock. He looked at his wife and noticed that she was trying to push him away, yet was enjoying it at the same time. Rose finally managed to pull away from him and she stepped back towards her husband, shocked at the angry look on the Doctor's face. She looked at Clara and noticed she looked upset and she guessed it was because of the hug. The Doctor then looked at Gaz and smirked, something that was uncharacteristic of the Doctor she knew. She looked at her husband and watched as he narrowed his eyes and his hands balled into fists and she was frightened that the two men were about to get into a fistfight right in front of everyone.

But Twelve backed down and instead turned his anger on M'nan'do.

"Now that we have our friends back, you will be letting us go in peace," he growled at the cats.

"Wait!" M'nan'do said, getting in front of him. "You cannot leave; you are a threat to the universe!"

"I can go wherever I want," the Doctor growled at him through gritted teeth. "Now get out of my way, Kitty!"

"Just leave him alone," Clara said quickly as she saw the murderous look in his eyes.

"My son, stand down," Shi'tak'wa said.

M'nan'do stood his ground for a moment before he backed away with an angry hiss. Twelve stomped past him, leaving his friends watching him with silent shock. The Doctor took five steps before looking over his shoulder. He stopped when he noticed no one else was following him.

"Staying then, fine? Goodbye!" he growled before he turned and walked off.

"I'm so glad I'm not regenerating so there's no chance I change into Mister Arsehole," Gaz said angrily as he watched him go.

He grabbed Clara's arm when she tried to go after him.

"If I were you, I wouldn't travel with him. The bloke seems a bit unstable to me," he said to her.

"I need to be with him. His past self told me to help him," Clara said before jerking her arm away from his grasp and running after him.

"I tell myself that often, you notice that?" Gaz said to his wife as Clara disappeared into the forest in search of her Doctor.


"Doctor?" Clara said, pausing to take a breath after two minutes of running.

She knew the Doctor could be fleet of foot but this new version seemed to be even faster. Or craftier since she realized he could have hidden in the forest and watched while she ran past him. She looked around but couldn't see any sign of him. She knew she was probably risking her life by being out here since M'nan'do could have her killed but at the moment, she didn't care. She needed to find her Doctor and see if she could help him. After all, that's what her purpose in life was, right? Ever since she made the decision to step into the Doctor's timestream, she took on the role of protector and she took that very seriously.

She walked through the forest, calling the Doctor's name but got no response. Eventually, she heard a rustling sound behind her and turned to see Gaz.

"I don't think he's answering you," Gaz said with a sympathetic look on her face.

"Why? What's going on? Why is he so different? He's so…angry."

Gaz sighed.

"I think he's upset that he found Rose again and I'm in the picture," he said to her. "I think he wishes I was dead."

"But you've done nothing to him," Clara said.

"I married Rose," Gaz said grimly. "Even though he technically gave her to me, he still loves her deeply. How long has it been since his regeneration?"

"A few weeks."

"He might still be unstable. Some of the regenerations were rougher than others. It might take time for him to become a bit more stable in his thinking."

"He was given a whole new set of lives, from the Time Lords. He was going to die when they saved him."

"Well, that might explain some of it," Gaz said. "The Time Lords set the limit at twelve regenerations because the stress and strain of regenerating is not good for the mind. One of my enemies, the Master, lived past thirteen lives and he's gone mental. Granted, he was mental before that but it never helps."

"Are you saying the Doctor is going to go insane?" Clara said with horror.

"I don't know, Clara. New set of lives, rough regeneration and a jealousy streak do not add up to a sane, stable individual. But…if by chance, he leaves you behind, you are more than welcome to come with me and Rose. Both of us like you a lot and we would be happy to have a fellow time traveler. Not saying that you must, but it's an open invitation in case things take a turn for the worse."

"Thank you," Clara said.

While they were talking, Twelve was sitting high up in the trees on a broad tree limb listening to their conversation. His eyes narrowed when Gaz extended the invitation.

"No, you're not taking another person I care about away from me, you wanker," the Doctor muttered between clenched teeth. "You think you can just take everyone I love away from me, you better think again."

He waited till they walked on and continued the search. Then with a smirk, he slowly came down out of the tree and hurried back the other way to find Rose.

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