Next Chapter of Alone at First is done!
The roundels were back. They weren’t exactly the same but it was hard to miss the circles embedded in the wall panels. That was what surprised him the most, that she would bring them back. He stood on the threshold of the TARDIS and took in her new look. She had given him a completely new desktop theme, bathed in an unfamiliar green-golden light. There were several tall coral struts that climbed from the floor to the ceiling. She must have used a nearby reef.
His spacious console room of the previous iteration was replaced with a smaller more circular one. It was still larger than the early themes, where he could feel claustrophobic sometimes if he had a handful of companions at once. But here felt cozy and expansive at the same time. He liked it.
He closed the door, blocking out the sound of the ocean. It was so good to hear the thrum of the TARDIS again. She was happily humming in the back of his mind, but now that he was inside, he could feel her in his bones.
He took a small step and winced in pain. For the first time she had made the floor a metallic grate. It was an interesting choice, one that didn’t make sense until he noticed it was a ramp which slopped up to the console in the center of the room.
A twinge of cosmic angst settled upon him as he walked up the ramp. Gone were the nice even panels of his classic hexagonal console. In their place was a smooth rounded basin that was filled with a various hodge podge of instruments and trinkets. Instead of order, there was chaos. Could he even fly her now?
As he slowly circled the console, he studied the new panels to figure out what the controls did. Some were easy guesses as she had still given him an old keyboard for input, but some he had no idea. He was so engrossed with his new console he didn’t notice an old beaten up jumpseat until he bumped into it. “What’s this?” he spoke out loud for the first time in what seemed like forever. “Where’d you find it?” He studied the seat closely, never seeing it before anywhere in the TARDIS. The white leather was dirty and cracked, the stuffing bursting through the corners. “On second thought, I don’t want to know.”
Hesitantly he poked the seat, afraid it would disintegrate at his touch. The leather was well-worn and felt soft and smooth. He had no idea if it would hold his weight, so he slowly backed onto it until he was sitting as comfortably as he good given he was naked. The spring beneath the seat gave an audible sigh as his full weight was on the chair, but the leg stand did not buckle.
From the seat he could prop his feet upon the console, but he had a feeling the real reason she had put it there was that it was within easy reach of the most important controls. And he could spin the display screen around to face him as well. If he ever actually got good at flying this thing, he might be able to relax during his trips.
Sitting there for a while, he closed his eyes and let the hum of the TARDIS surround him. He tried to picture the console in his mind or at least where the important controls were. The faster he could memorize the layout the faster he could get underway.
Except he realized he had forgotten one important thing. It wouldn’t do to travel in the nude so he should really find the walk in wardrobe that he kept on the TARDIS and find a new outfit. It was one of his regeneration traditions except this time he had gotten distracted with almost losing his ship. But now that his girl was alright it was time to see after himself.
He slid off his new jumpseat and walked in the direction of where he remembered the wardrobe was from the last time he had used it. He had finally stopped wearing that crazy Wild Bill costume from New Year’s Eve San Francisco.
But before he could even leave the console room, something caught his eye. A black leather coat was wedged into one of the coral struts that held the room up. He reached over the rail and yanked the jacket out of its nesting place. It wasn’t like him to leave clothes laying around the console room, so this must have been one of her gifts to him.
The leather felt smooth and strong. It wasn’t brand new, but already had the perfect level of broken in-ness. He knew this would be his jacket. He just need to find some trousers and a jumper to wear underneath. As he walked out of the console room, he shrugged the leather jacket on. It would be his armor for as long as he needed it. No matter where he went she would be there with him, protecting him.