Series: Altered History
Genre: Doctor Who
Rating: T/M (dark Doctor, character death, extreme danger)
Summary: Eight does not want to answer a mysterious – and diverted – call to come to The Library, but Donna won't let him shirk his duty. Yet the dangers there echo ones from the past, and the Doctor has never been so close to sinking into his darkest elements. Never mind the time stalker he's barely missed meeting before. Or did he?
Disclaimer: Utterly not mine. Just taking things from canon, mixing in Big Finish stories, and a healthy dose of my imagination.
Dedication: cassikat, for getting me interested in the Eighth Doctor in the first place. tardis_mole for being an awesome beta. And bas_math_girl for encouraging me to continue the series and keep posting.
Author's Note: Started during NaNoWriMo when I suddenly found “Echos on Ood Sphere” finishing two chapters sooner than I expected (leaving one flashback bit out in the original draft), and to keep me going. I had to figure out on the fly what else I needed to write, and figured out later where the ideas would fit.
Once again, please make sure you've read the earlier installments: The Runaway Bride, Prophecies and Pompeii, and Echos on Ood Sphere. Otherwise you'll have no context for why Donna is travelling with Eight.
One other challenge for me was to ensure that I was not going overboard in my treatment of River Song. In full disclosure, she has rubbed me the wrong way since the first time I watched the Library episodes. I've made efforts in writing to make myself like her more, and I find that at a fundamental level she is someone I would not want to know or have in my life. (Even with the occasional instances where I almost want to root for her.) In this story I also hit upon what I feel is the biggest reason to not trust her, but... to quote her, “Spoilers”. Keep reading to find out. I have made some effort to include Big Finish info, but even that adds to the reasons I cannot like River. (Hey, no one will like every Doctor Who character. We can make an effort to accept that they exist, and that may be the best anyone can ask of us.)
And as always, a big thank you to tardis-mole for beta reading. You keep my historical info on track, and help me weed out those Americanisms that stand out like Six's coat in a sea of... any color. Never mind stop me when I need to be stopped on some tangent.
Chapter One / Chapter Two / Chapter Three / Chapter Four / Chapter Five / Chapter Six / Chapter Seven / Chapter Eight
Altered History: Time Trials
Started November 3, 2018
Finished December 27, 2018
Chapter Nine: Dueling and Other Fighting Methods
From Chapter Seven:
“But that's English. Can you hear English?” Rose asked Mickey.
He nodded. “Yeah, that's English.”
“Definitely English,” confirmed the translator.
“I speak only Sycoraxic!” shouted the leader.
“If you Humans can hear English, then it's being translated,” Eight said, his grin growing wider as a huge amount of tension left his body. “Which means the TARDIS translation circuits are working. Which means...”
The Sky Above London
December 25, 2005
He led the Humans in turning to look at the TARDIS. The doors opened, and the Eleventh Doctor stood in his borrowed clothes, grinning.
“Did you miss me?” he said, carefree.
“About time!” Eight snapped. “I thought I was going to have to be Earth's champion!”
The Sycorax leader cracked his whip. Except Eight was ready. He caught the end and yanked it out of the leader's hand.
“You could have someone's eye out with that,” Eleven said, a little pompously as he stepped out and closed the doors firmly behind him.
“How dare you!” shouted the leader.
Another Sycorax went after Eleven, with a thick pole. But he was also ready and merely took it off that one and broke it across his knee. “You just can't get the staff. Have you noticed that?” he asked Eight.
“Many times,” he agreed.
“Now, you, just wait,” Eleven addressed the Sycorax. “I'm busy. Mickey, hello! And Harriet Jones, MP for Flydale North. Blimey, it's like This Is Your Life. Tea! That's all I needed, a good cup of tea! Super-heated infusion of free radicals and tannin. Just the thing for healing the synapses.”
Eight face-palmed himself. “Of course! Why didn't I think of that?!”
“It had to happen this way, I'm afraid,” Eleven explained, as if telling him to not be so hard on himself. “Now, first thing's first. Be honest, how do I look?” he asked the Humans.
Rose was the first to speak. “Er, different.”
“Good different or bad different?”
She shrugged. “Just different.”
“Am I ginger?”
Eight groaned under his breath. “Now I suddenly understand why some of my companions thought I looked silly asking that.”
Rose glanced at Eight in confusion before looking back at Eleven. “No, you're just sort of brown.”
Eleven frowned. “I wanted to be ginger. I've never been ginger. And you, Rose Tyler, fat lot of good you were.” He pointed at her accusingly. “You gave up on me. Oh, that's rude. Is that the sort of man I am now, am I? Rude. Rude and not ginger.”
“I'm sorry. Who is this?” Harriet asked.
“I'm the Doctor,” he said. “And so is he.”
“But what happened to my Doctor? Or is it a title that's just passed on?” Harriet demanded, not believing her eyes or ears.
“I'm him. I'm literally him. Same man, new face. Well, new everything.”
“Did you have to go there?” Eight muttered, only earning a cheeky grin from Eleven. Of all the innuendos he had to pick up on, and he had learned quite a few after an entire evening at the Tyler flat, it was that one. Lovely. And, as the cherry on top, Eleven had nearly told them who he was. His only hope was that Rose might be too shocked from Eleven calling her out on her behavior to have noticed.
“But you can't be,” Harriet said.
Eleven stepped closer to the Prime Minister. “Harriet Jones, we were trapped in Downing Street and the one thing that scared you wasn't the aliens, it wasn't the war, it was the thought of your mother being on her own.”
Given the sudden light in her eyes, she believed him now. “Oh, my God.”
He grinned. “Did you win the election?”
She nodded with a smile. “Landslide majority.”
“If I might interrupt,” said the Sycorax leader, clearly having had enough of waiting.
Eleven turned and stepped beside Eight as he spoke. “Yes, sorry. Hello, big fellow. Don't mind my friend if he recovers our people's property.”
Eight took the opportunity. The shock of the Sycorax, combined with the continued exchanges, allowed him to walk unchallenged to the pillar.
“Who exactly are you?”
“Well, that's the question,” Eleven began.
“I demand to know who you are!” demanded the leader.
“I don't know!” Eleven snapped, mocking the leader's gruffness. “See, there's the thing. I'm the Doctor, but beyond that, I just don't know. I literally do not know who I am. It's all untested.”
As Eleven spoke, Eight examined the object by sight after picking it up. As he walked back to his previous spot by Eleven, his time senses told him that the object was from the temporal past, and had psychic qualities. Was this the psychic paper he had heard about? How did the Sycorax got hold of one? Hadn't he heard of a CIA agent who went missing?
“You remember what that's like. The questions we ask after each time,” Eleven said to Eight, who nodded absently. Not that the former cared as he continued regardless. “Am I funny? Am I sarcastic? Sexy?”
Eight noted the look that came into Rose's eyes, and he fixed a glare on her. Sadly for him, she was focused on Eleven and missed it.
Eleven continued as if ignorant of what transpired. “Right old misery? Life and soul? Right handed? Left handed? A gambler? A fighter? A coward? A traitor? A liar? A nervous wreck? I mean, judging by the evidence, I've certainly got a gob. And how am I going to react when I see this; a great big threatening button. A great big threatening button which must not be pressed under any circumstances, am I right? Let me guess. It's some sort of control matrix, hmm? Hold on, what's feeding it?”
Having stepped next to the pillar in question, he opened the base under the button. “And what've we got here? Blood?” He dipped his finger into the liquid and tasted the sample, making just only the Humans' eyes widen. “Yeah, definitely blood. Human blood. A Positive, with just a dash of iron. Ah, but that means blood control. Blood control! Oh, I haven't seen blood control in years. Isn't that right?” he asked Eight.
Eight nodded as he tucked the paper into a back pocket. “At least hundreds of years ago.”
“You're controlling all the A Positives,” Eleven continued, speaking once again to the Sycorax. “Which leaves us with a great big stinking problem. Because I really don't know who I am. I don't know when to stop. So if I see a great big threatening button which should never be pressed, then I just want to do this.”
He hit the button.
Rose and Harriet screamed simultaneously, “No!”
“Wait for it,” said Eight, calm as you please since he knew where Eleven was going with this.
“You killed them!” cried the translator.
“What do you think, big fellow?” asked Eleven. “Are they dead?”
The Sycorax leader was silent for a few seconds. “We allow them to live.”
Eleven and Eight both laughed. Given the likeness of the speed, they might have both been thinking of the same event from an overly stuffy Senate meeting.
“Allow?” Eight managed through his laughter, surprised by how much he enjoyed the looks on the Humans' faces. “You have no choice.”
“Indeed, that's all blood control is,” Eleven added. “A cheap bit of voodoo. Scares the pants off you, but that's as far as it goes. It's like hypnosis. You can hypnotise someone to walk like a chicken or sing like Elvis. You can't hypnotise them to death. Survival instinct's too strong.”
“Blood control was just one form of conquest. I can summon the armada and take this world by force,” said the leader.
“Well, yeah, you could, yeah, you could do that, of course you could. But why?” Eleven raised his hands to gesture at the Humans. “Look at these people. These human beings. Consider their potential. From the day they arrive on the planet and blinking step into the sun, there is more to see than can ever be seen. More to do than. No, hold on. Sorry, that's The Lion King.”
Eight covered his eyes. Was this what he would become? From one ill-mannered person to another?
“But the point still stands. Leave them alone!” Eleven commanded.
“Or what?” the leader goaded.
“Or...” Eleven took a sword from an aide and ran back towards the TARDIS, stopping between the Old Girl and the Sycorax. “I challenge you.”
All the Sycorax laughed. Eight stifled a groan.
“Oh, that struck a chord. Am I right that the sanctified rules of combat still apply?” Eleven asked no one in particular.
The leader stepped closer. “You stand as this world's champion.”
“Thank you. I've no idea who I am, but you just summed me up,” Eleven said, removing his dressing gown and tossing it to Eight. “You keep the others from interfering,” he told him. “So, you accept my challenge? Or are you just a cranak pel casacree salvak?”
Eight winced. “Was that wise?” He was glad that the TARDIS would not translate swearing, because that one would incite a war in even the most peaceful species.
The leader tossed his own cape aside as his people hissed in shock and horror. “For the planet?”
“For the planet,” the Doctor agreed right before they clashed swords.
The sounds clanged through the room. Soon the Doctor was being driven back towards a wall.
“Look out!” Rose cried.
“Oh, yeah, that helps,” Eleven said, focusing hard on the conflict but entirely aware of his surroundings. “Wouldn't have thought of that otherwise, thanks.”
Eight was sure Rose failed her fellow teenagers in not reacting to the sarcasm. But he was more focused on staying between the Humans and the fighting duo. And his own nerves jangled when it quickly became obvious that the Sycorax leader was the more experienced swordsman. It was made clear when Eleven had to retreat up a tunnel.
“Bit of fresh air?” Eleven said, keeping the carefree manner as he slapped a door control.
Eight led the others to follow them out into the day light. They watched in horror as Eleven was driven to the edge of the ship, and hit on the nose.
“Stay back!” Eight said, stopping Rose from going forward. “Interfere in the fight and you invalidate the challenge and they win the planet.”
But even he stopped breathing when the leader knocked Eleven down and then slashed his wrist. The sword and Eleven's right hand fell to Earth.
Eleven stilled in shock. “You cut my hand off.”
“Ya! Sycorax!” the leader cried in triumph, walking away as if the victor.
But Eleven slowly rose to standing. “And now I know what sort of man I am. I'm lucky. Because quite by chance I'm still within the first fifteen hours of my regeneration cycle, which means I've got just enough residual cellular energy to do this.”
Within seconds, a new hand grew from his right wrist.
“Witchcraft,” the leader accused.
“Time Lord,” he corrected. “Didn't my fellow correct you?”
“Catch!” Eight called out, snagging another sword and throwing it to Eleven.
“Win the planet, Doctor!” cried Rose.
“Oh, so, I'm still the Doctor, then?” he said, a hint of sarcasm in his tone.
“No arguments from me!” she called back.
Eleven's gaze turned harsh, clearly aware of Eight's thoughts about how it seemed like being hit on by a ten-year-old. He channeled it against the leader. “Want to know the best bit? This new hand? It's a fighting hand!”
Eight's lips pursed at the brief switch in accent from English to American, but remained silent as the fighting resumed. It lasted several seconds before Eleven gained an advantage. He pressed it immediately, disarming the Sycorax leader and thumping both hilts into his abdomen, twice. The leader fell, right on the edge, overlooking London.
“I win,” Eleven said, calmly.
The mortification from the Sycorax leader was palpable. “Then kill me.”
Eight knew his future self would not do that. And he was not disappointed in the command that followed.
“I'll spare your life if you'll take this Champion's command. Leave this planet, and never return. What do you say?”
The leader hesitated for a few seconds. “Yes.”
“Swear on the blood of your species,” Eleven commanded.
“I swear,” he answered immediately.
Eleven poked the swords into the dirt, like garden spades. “There we are, then. Thanks for that. Cheers, big fellow.”
“Bravo!” Harriet cried.
Rose nodded. “That says it all. Bravo!”
Eight met Eleven halfway and helped him put the dressing gown on as Eleven spoke. “Ah, not bad for a man in his jim-jams. Very Arthur Dent, don't you agree?”
“Yes, it has that flair,” Eight nodded. “Now, there was a nice man. Very much underestimated. Even if he did forget his towel.”
Eleven frowned as he walked. “Hold on, what have I got in here?” He plunged a hand into a pocket and dragged out a small orange orb. “A satsuma. Ah, that friend of your mother's. He does like his snacks doesn't he? But doesn't that just sum up Christmas?”
As he spoke, the Sycorax leader, furious at losing to such a skinny creature, got up and grabbed his sword.
“You go through all those presents and right at the end, tucked away at the bottom, there's always one stupid old satsuma. Who wants a satsuma?” Eleven asked rhetorically.
The Sycorax leader ran at the Doctor's back. Mickey saw and opened his mouth, but Eleven, with no outward sign that he had noticed, threw the satsuma at a control on the spaceship hull, right on another door control. A piece of the wing folded up and the leader fell to his death, shouting in dismay the whole way down.
Eleven's face turned stony. “No second chances. I'm that sort of a man.”
“Please remember that,” Eight said, quietly, as they walked back inside the spaceship.
Once inside, Eleven addressed the remaining Sycorax, who were all rendered silent by watching the result of the fight. “By the ancient rites of combat, I forbid you to scavenge here for the rest of time. And when go you back to the stars and tell others of this planet, when you tell them of it's riches, it's people, it's potential. When you talk of the Earth, then make sure that you tell them this. It is defended.”
Suddenly they were all beamed away. They regained awareness in the road at Powell Estate, near where the TARDIS had been. And she stood proudly beside them.
“Where are we?” Rose asked.
“We're just off Flotsam Road,” Mickey said. “We're just round the corner. We did it!”
“Wait, wait, wait,” said Eight, looking up at the sky. Fortunately, the spaceship flew away without further ado.
“Go on, my son! Oh, yeah!” cried Mickey for joy.
“Yeah! Don't come back!” Rose shouted.
“It is defended!” Mickey repeated, right before he and Rose hugged. Then Rose impulsively hugged the translator, who was not expecting it.
Eight was not surprised that she made no effort to hug him. In fact, he was relieved; he would have had to put his shields up. And his arms. But evidently not being her type and coming between her and the Doctor she wanted offered him protection.
Harriet walked up to Eleven. “My Doctor.”
“Prime Minister,” he said, right before they hugged.
“So, I become a hugger,” Eight muttered. “Maybe that's not so bad.”
“Absolutely the same man,” Harriet said happily. But her smile faded. “Are there many more out there?”
“Oh, not just Sycorax. Hundreds of species. Thousands of them. And the human race is drawing attention to itself. Every day you're sending out probes and messages and signals. This planet's so noisy. You're getting noticed more and more. You'd better get used to it.”
“But with the Sycorax telling others that the planet is protected, it will reduce the number of potential invasions,” Eight added.
“Rose!” cried Jackie, running towards them.
“Mum!” Rose rushed to greet her.
“And yes, he is an earlier me,” Eleven said to Harriet and her aide. “So he knows what he's talking about.”
“Oh, my God! You did it, Rose! Oh!” Jackie cried as they hugged.
Harriet's aide's phone rang, and he walked away to answer it.
“You did it too!” Rose said. “It was the tea. Fixed his head.”
The two Doctors shared a little annoyed look over Rose getting any credit for saving the Earth, but Eleven prevented Eight from speaking. “That was all I needed, cup of tea.”
“I said so,” Jackie crowed.
“Look at him,” said Rose, as if now fine with how he looked. If she noticed Eight rolling his eyes, or Eleven's tight grin, she gave no sign.
“Oh, my God, it's the bleeding Prime Minister!” Jackie said, needing no further convincing that it was the Doctor after what Eight had told her.
“Come here, you,” Eleven said to Jackie, and hugged her. It led to a big group hug between Eleven and the three Humans from Powell Estate.
“Are you better?” asked Jackie.
“I am, yeah,” he agreed.
“It's a message from Torchwood,” Eight overheard the translator tell Harriet. “They say they're ready.”
“You left me,” Jackie accused.
“I'm sorry,” said Rose.
“Ready for what?” Eight demanded of Harriet. “What is Torchwood?”
While Jackie and Rose kept talking, Harriet looked him in the eye and answered. “Founded by Queen Victoria. There's defensive measures adapted from alien technology. A ship that fell to Earth ten years ago.”
“No, no, no, they're leaving! It would be murder,” he insisted, raising his voice.
Eleven broke away from the hug. “What would be murder?”
“It will be defence,” Harriet countered. “You said yourself, Doctor, they'd go back to the stars and tell others about the Earth. I'm sorry, Doctor, but you're not here all the time. You come and go. It happened today. Mr. Llewellyn and the Major, they were murdered. They died right in front of me while you were sleeping. In which case we have to defend ourselves.”
“Britain's Golden Age?” Eleven asked, almost spitting the words out.
“It comes with a price,” Harriet insisted.
“Perhaps Future Me here gave them the wrong warning. He should've told them to run as fast as they can, run and hide because the monsters are coming. The human race,” Eight said, angrily.
“Those are the people I represent,” Harriet said, calm and convinced. “I will do it on their behalf.”
“Then I will stop you,” Eleven said.
“What does that make you, Doctor? Another alien threat?” she challenged.
“Don't challenge us, Harriet Jones, because I'm a completely new man and this earlier me has seen off deadlier threats than what you saw,” Eleven said, cold and quiet. “We could bring down your Government with a single word.”
Harriet paused a few seconds. “You're the most remarkable man I've ever met, but I don't think you're quite capable of that.”
“No, you're right. Not a single word, just six,” Eleven amended.
“I don't think so.”
“Six words,” Eleven repeated.
“Stop it!” Harriet cried.
“Six,” he said, leaning in to whisper. He knew Eight would hear regardless. “Unless you give the command to stand down, I will walk up to your man there, and whoever listens in on his communication will hear this: 'Don't you think she looks tired?' It'll seem like nothing, but it'll feed the rumors and you will lose your position.”
“And that will make way for others to seize power,” Eight added. “Others who have less benign intentions for the people of this world. People who just want power. Are you truly willing to chance that, Prime Minister? Because if you trust in the Doctor, you will trust that we would not have let that ship leave if we believed that they would encourage others to invade. Besides, this event raises Earth to a level where the Shadow Proclamation could come after you for interplanetary murder. And they would also impose penalties on the planet. Are you willing to risk bringing that to Earth?”
Harriet stood quiet and still as a stone. She considered the matching harsh looks, which proved to her that both men where somehow the same as the man she knew as the Doctor. She took several deep breaths, and finally turned to her aide. “Tell Torchwood to stand down, Alex. The threat is over.”
Alex frowned, but spoke into the phone. “Power down the weapons. Seems the danger is over.” They could hear someone protesting on the other end, but Alex was firm. “Those are the Prime Minister's orders. She'll have you sacked if you don't comply.”
Within seconds he ended the call. “I heard them power down. Once that command starts they won't be able to use the weapons without starting a new powering cycle, and that requires new authorisation.”
“Good,” said Eight. “Now go and deal with the fallout. We have a lot to discuss, Doctor.”
Eight waited in Eleven's control room while the latter searched for a new outfit. “Lucky man, he gets the whole of the Wardrobe. When I was born I had to seize someone's costume for some New Year's Eve event. At least it fit me, even if I had to borrow shoes from Grace's ex. In the TARDIS borrow sense. Not that I terribly appreciative of the last time I used the Wardrobe.”
“The circumstances weren't the best, were they?”
Eight turned away from the controls to look at the new Eleven. He took in the brown pinstriped suit, the cream trainers, the overcoat, and the tie. “Feels a bit like the 1940s, doesn't it? And where did we get that coat? I swear I recall seeing it in the Wardrobe.”
“Janis Joplin gave it to our Fourth regeneration, remember? We thanked her and promptly put it away once back in the TARDIS. Seems fitting for me. Has plenty of pockets to reach transcendentally larger commodities.”
“So, now what are you going to do? You remember my warnings back when you met me as Ten, surely?”
Eleven pursed his lips. “Yes. Let's take a walk outside, shall we? Best to discuss it out there.”
“Even with random people listening in?”
“That's what the sonics are for, aren't they?”
Eight saw no reason to argue further, and they headed out. After all, he had all the things he brought with him. Including the medical bag.
They walked in the cold but clear night. They looked around the sky. To anyone listening, their speech would be as good as unintelligible as Eleven switched the TARDIS translation circuits to produce Norn, a language spoken in the Orkneys.
“If we hadn't talked Harriet Jones into making this... Torchwood place stand down, then the ground would be covered in the ashes of the Sycorax ship,” Eight mused aloud. “And every Human would innocently assume it was snow and play in it, unaware that it made them complicit in a mass murder. We did some good today.”
“You did some good today,” Eleven corrected. “Had it just been me what you described would have happened. All those innocents on that ship owe you their lives.”
Eight did not acknowledge that beyond a nod. “What are you going to do?”
“Don't you want to avoid spoilers?”
“I'm concerned about us keeping with us a girl who tore apart the TARDIS with us. Isn't it dangerous?”
“Yes, it is. But... now I have word of how Rose behaved. Even though there are still events that call for her being there, I can use your words against her. You called her out for thinking of me in a romantic way. And got her mother on my side. Now I can tell her that her remaining with me is about helping her grow up.”
“But what about... her? She's been in her head. How do you know that she can't make Rose cause more trouble?”
“Can anyone ever be certain? It's still not in her interests to make changes. She needs things to happen rather close to how they're supposed to. And if I didn't say so before, thank you for answering that call.”
“Ah, yes. Who were those Time Ladies who projected themselves into my TARDIS? They seemed rather young to manage that trick.”
Eleven's face beamed in pride. “Oh, they're sometimes traveling companions. Just can't be at present. Best that Rose doesn't face them and vice versa. One of them in particular would have a difficult time keeping the timelines intact; she had trouble with that in the old time-line. Although that wasn't entirely her fault; she had no idea what she really was, and I doubt she ever found out there. As it is, she might attempt to emotionally or psychologically destroy Rose if given the chance. And as much as Rose would benefit from being forced to choose between remaining broken and rebuilding herself as an adult, the time-lines prohibit it. For now,” he added, quietly and sadly.
Eight groaned. “So, I still have to look forward to being in your shoes. And what is the point of wearing trainers with a suit?”
“Easier to run in. You know how much running happens in our lives.”
“Wait, wait wait!,” Eight demanded, stopping them right by the stairs leading up to the Tyler flat. “Doctor, are they family?”
Eleven looked him in the eye, po-faced. “You know I can't answer that one way or the other.”
“But we do have a family again?” Eight insisted. “What about that prophecy about someone important to me dying and causing my death?”
“Trust me,” Eleven said, clasping his arm. “Don't worry about it. Just deal with whatever is coming your way and know that somehow we will find the right actions to take. Not to mention the right companions when the time comes.”
Eight nodded reluctantly. “I suppose I can't expect anything more than that.”
“Going to come up and say goodbye to Jackie and Mickey?”
“Yeah, I need to thank Jackie for the tea and Mickey for his help.” As they climbed the stairs, Eight asked, “Do you think Rose grasped who I am?”
“She tends to blank on things that don't fit her view. I doubt she'll remember. Or wish to. Not when you've given her a set-down that she needed.”
“Oh,” Eight said, drawing out the psychic paper. “Here.”
“Nah,” Eleven said, shaking his head. “Keep it,” he insisted, briefly drawing his own version of the paper out of a pocket. It was the same one, only aged. “After all, that's how we got it in the first place. It was stolen off that CIA agent, but we claimed finder's rights given how useful it's proved.”
“Well, thank you,” Eight said, tucking his new item away.
Eleven opened the door and found the Tylers and Mickey enjoying Christmas crackers, and wearing silly hats. “Oh, come to join us?” asked Jackie warmly, as she placed food on the table.
“No, neither of us can eat the food,” Eleven reminded her. “My friend has come to say goodbye before he's off to his next assignment. After all, this is a brand new planet Earth. No denying the existence of aliens now. Everyone saw it. Everything's new.”
Eight laughed. “Oh, there are plenty who will continue to deny it.”
Rose looked at Eleven. “And what about you? What are you going to do next?”
“Well, back to the TARDIS,” he answered, matter-of-factly. “Same old life.”
“On your own?” she asked softly.
“Why, don't you want to come with me?”
Eight hoped that she would refuse.
No such luck.
Eleven was skeptical. “Do you, though?”
“Yeah!” she insisted.
“See, my friend here wasn't so sure. He told me about how you reacted when I changed.”
Rose gave Eight a sharp glare before she turned a pleading look on Eleven. “Yeah, I thought, because you changed you might not want me anymore.”
“Well, I am a different man. But I do want one thing clear. You're coming as a friend and my foster daughter. You're still a child and need to respect me as the authority inside the TARDIS and everywhere we go. Understood?”
Rose's eyes widened. She clearly did not like his words, but it seemed that the travel was too important to her. Or the getting away part. “Okay.”
Mickey sighed. “You're never going to stay, are you?”
“There's just so much out there,” Rose answered. “So much to see. I've got to.”
“Yeah,” Mickey said, exchanging a sort of groaning look with Eight. He clearly understood, even if he would one day be the same man.
“Well, I reckon you're mad, the pair of you,” Jackie said, clearly put out. “It's like you go looking for trouble.”
“Trouble's just the bits in-between. It's all waiting out there, Jackie, and it's brand new to me. All those planets, and creatures and horizons. I haven't seem them yet! Not with these eyes. And it is going to be fantastic. No, wait, I need a new word.”
“You'll find it,” Eight said. “You always do.”
“That hand of yours still gives me the creeps,” Rose said, eying it.
“Well, then I won't be holding hands with you again,” Eleven mused aloud. “Unless it's to keep you with me in times of trouble.”
“On that note, I'll take my leave,” Eight interjected. He turned and smiled. “Thank you, Jackie and Mickey. You were both brilliant.”
Jackie gave him a warm smile. “Thank you, for making me feel like I can do something important.”
“Same here,” Mickey said.
“Then I see I have a big act to follow,” Eleven teased, a playful glare tossed at Eight. Even if he did appreciate how Eight did them the power of good when he couldn't.
“Until next time,” he said, leaving and not acknowledging Rose. Given her glare at him, he doubted he would have received much of a goodbye. And he did not want a repeat of the last time.
He waited until he was down the stairs and out of sight before he activated the Vortex Manipulator. On finding himself back inside his TARDIS he breathed a sigh of relief.
Suddenly he felt that he was not alone. Again. He turned and saw the same two ladies.
“Thank you,” the ginger said. “Time is back on track.”
“Come for the items, have you?” Eight asked.
“Of course,” said the dark-haired girl. “We need them back.”
“Take them,” he said, removing the manipulator and placing it and the medical bag on the ground halfway between them.
The dark-haired girl took them back as the ginger said, “Keep alert, Doctor. Time is still in flux, and there are still more Time Crashes ahead. We will meet again.”
Eight huffed. “Typical Time Lord behavior. Even if they are in the right for avoiding spoilers. But who are they? The ginger, I've seen something of her features in the Untempered Schizm. And the other, why does she have features that remind me of my Fifth incarnation apart from the dark hair? Who are they to me?!”
The TARDIS' lack of chiming or any sounds said that even she was ignorant. And that alarmed him even more.
Chapter Ten: A Waste of Potential