“Ah! There we are, finally stopped smoking!” the Doctor grinned. “Now to five minutes!” He darted to the other side of the console, gingerly working the hot controls.
“Doctor, wait a minute!” interjected the borrower on his shoulder. He jumped slightly at her voice, and again when she hopped down from his shoulder onto the warm console to face him. Ever since he had regenerated, everything happened so fast. From hanging out of a crashing TARDIS to nearly drowning in the library’s swimming pool, nothing made sense and Zepheera was reaching her limit.
“Wait? We can’t wait! We’ve got to get back to Amelia!” the Doctor protested.
“It’s a time machine, you can afford to wait one minute and bloody listen to me for once!”
The Doctor blinked, backing up a few steps and crossing his arms. The way he used to before he changed. “What’s wrong? Why are you being so grumpy?”
Zepheera sighed, choosing her words carefully. “I don’t mean to be, it’s just…you’re so different. And I-I know it’s still you. But everything you do is different. It’s-It’s like we’ve hit reset or something, except you’ve got the energy of a ten-year-old hopped up on too much ice cream. It’s like you keep…”
It’s like you keep forgetting about me…
With a frown, the Doctor broke eye contact with Zepheera to study his raggedy shoes. He couldn’t deny that he’d been distracted at best. “I know it’s gonna be hard,” he said at length. “Brand-new me, brand-new behavior, I can’t always help myself.” Those hazel-greens flicked back up to meet her deep violet gaze. “But I promise you that I will get better, if you’ll be willing to help me.”
Zepheera searched his face and found nothing but the truth. After a moment, she nodded.
“Okay,” she said quietly, shifting her feet. “And, er, thanks again. For saving me from the inexplicable pool.”
“You’re still grumpy!” the Doctor pouted.
“I’m not!” Zepheera insisted. “I just…need to get used to you like this, that’s all.”
A small, knowing grin tugged at the Doctor’s lips. “Okay…In the meantime, I am determined to make you smile.” He waggled his thin eyebrows at her and gesticulated wildly, pointing and shooting a finger gun at the borrower on his console.
Zepheera scoffed to cover up the chuckle fighting to escape her, just as the console began to smoke beneath her feet again.
“Alrighty, I think it’s time to go back and save that little Scottish girl of yours”