Chapter 18

"Rory! Don't be such a wuss!" Amy admonished. "Look, I'll distract the thug with the club," she explained, referring to the man in the alleyway, who was pacing back and forth thumping a thick rosewood baton into the palm of his hand, "while you sneak up on the bloke with the shotgun."

They were still hovering in the dark, shadowy doorway of a shop across the street from the alley where the Doctor had left his TARDIS. Amy was thankful there were no street lamps nearby to reveal their presence.

"Yeah, Amy. Lotsa' luck with that!' He snorted skeptically, "And how would you suggest I go about it? I mean, without getting blown in half?"

"Very carefully." Amy quipped, reaching up to peck her husband on the cheek. "Cos' if you get yourself killed, I'll never forgive you."

Sighing with defeat, Rory rolled his eyes and nodded his head. He slowly worked his way towards the TARDIS, holding tight against the wall quietly keeping his back glued to the dark places. The Doctor's ship was fairly close to the entrance of the alley, and for that Rory was very grateful.

Rory was so close to the guard standing in front of the doors, that he could smell the sour stench of the man's unwashed body. So far, the guard had not moved from his position. He was facing forward and slightly to his right. Staring at a torn, stained poster pasted to the wall. It was of a scantily clad showgirl doing a high leg kick, teasingly revealing a bit more than just her ankle. An old advert for a vaudeville show at a nearby theater. The guard remembered that girl's act. He didn't remember seeing quite so much leg, though. Didn't get his money's worth that night, the man thought begrudgingly. Might as well have bought the poster.

Grateful for the lack of light and the guards' diverted attention, Rory slowly inched his way towards the mans' unprotected back. Without warning, he was caught in a sudden flash of white light. It was the lamp on the roof of the TARDIS. It had begun to flash and a faint wheezing, grinding noise was heard, as if from far inside the bowels of the blue box.

"Hi there, handsome!" Amy said in what she hoped was a sexy voice. She walked brazenly up to the other man guarding the entrance to the alley.

In reality the man was as far from handsome, as a roller skate is from a Rolls Royce. He had a coarse, fleshy, dull-looking face, bushy eyebrows that went on forever, and the bulbous red, big veined nose of a heavy drinker.

"What's a nice looking bloke like you doing out all alone on a night like this?" She asked, showing him a bit of leg and batting her eyes at him.

"Get lost, ginger." He growled at her, sniffling and then wiping his dribbly nose on his sleeve. "I h'ain't buyin' wot yer sellin' tonight."

"Maybe I'm not selling anything," Amy said, inwardly cringing and thankful that her mum wasn't here to witness this. Or Rory. "Maybe," She gave him her most beguiling smile, "tonight it's free." She glanced down at his club. "Is it true what they say? That a man always chooses a weapon that reflects the size of his..er—" She glanced down meaningfully at the thug's crotch.

"The size of me club don't matter none, ginger. It's how I use it." The obtuse guard answered, brandishing the heavy stick. "Me ol' friend here has banged its fair share of smart arses in its time."

"Ah. So you're into a little back door action, then?" Amy quipped back at him, raising an eyebrow.

Before the thug could answer, there came a bright light flashing from within the alley. Amy knew what that meant. The thug turned to look, as she heard Rory call out.

"Amy! Come on!" Came his voice from the alley.

Not needing to be told twice, Amy sprinted for the TARDIS.

"'Ere! Wait! You can't go down there!" The thug shouted, turning to lumber after her.

As she approached the slowly de-materializing TARDIS at a run, Amy saw the other guard step back in surprise and drop his sawed-off shotgun. With an orange flash and a deafening bang from its twin muzzles, it went off.

Amy screamed. "Rory!"

In the future, in the rainy supermarket car park, Donna's husband was kneeling on the wet tarmac. He was holding Donna's head in his lap. She was having some sort of fit. Donna had grabbed hold of the shopping trolley, but it did no good. Clutching her head she'd sunk to the floor.

In an empty space next to a people carrier, a sudden wind whipped up loose rubbish and dead leaves, sending them skittering away. The odd, mechanical wheezing noise was getting louder.

"Someone call 999!" He shouted at a handful of people coming out the doors of the supermarket. "Get an ambulance!"

Inside the basement of the Black Guardian's elegant Georgian home the Doctor was forced to stand by, watching helplessly. Jack the Butler had a pistol pointed just inches from the Doctor's brain. Unable to help, the Doctor could only stand there and watch as his friend began to die. Consumed by all the power of a Time Lord, which was fostered upon Donna during a biological metacrisis inside the dying TARDIS. The power was normally dormant, absent from her memories. Until something triggered recollection. Something like hearing and seeing the TARDIS again. Then, the Time Lord in her awakened and began to slowly burn her mind.

"You can save her Doctor." The Black Guardian leaned over and purred softly in the Doctor's ear, "All you have to do is step into the cubicle and let us siphon off your emotions. I promise it won't hurt. Much."

"One of your promises has about as much sincerity behind it as a politican's. Knowing you, you're probably a tory." The Doctor spat out angrily. "You won't let Donna live. And we both know that with my emotions gone, it'll no longer matter to me whether she's alive or not."

The Black Guardian shifted back. Folding his arms he looked down his nose, glaring daggers of pure hate, saying, "I'm growing impatient, Doctor"

"And I'm growing bougainvillea in the TARDIS loo." The Doctor answered flippantly. "But don't expect me to send you any flowers on your birthday."

The Black Guardian knew that the Doctor would allow himself to be killed, before he'd willing submit to being placed inside the cubicle and having all of his emotions, all his knowledge and memories, drained from him. Unless it was to save the lives of his friends.

"Then watch Donna Noble die, before Jack here puts an end to your existence. Never to regenerate again"

There was a click near the back of his head, as Jack cocked the revolver.

They had just made it. Squeezing past the guard and grabbing hold of the door mere seconds before the ship had begun to de-materialize. It had been a narrow escape. Amy and Rory panted with their exertions, leaning against the safety rail trying to catch their breaths.

"Wait." Rory said, looking around the empty control room. "Where's the Doctor? How can the ship be flying by itself?"

"Herself." Amy corrected him. "It is a 'she', remember?"

The two of them walked up to the console. The overhead monitor screen flickered on. It showed a modern car park. They both remarked that the colour inside the glass of the central column seemed strange—it was giving off a strange amethyst glow. The noise the ship made also seemed somehow off-kilter, the groaning noise being far louder and rougher than normal. As if the ship was moving under protest.

"Is that a Sainsbury's?" An incredulous Rory asked, staring at the monitor screen.

"Oh. That reminds me. We're out of milk in the TARDIS fridge." Amy said.

"Yeah. That'll be the first thing I'll tick off on my to do list today." Rory replied dryly. "Get milk. Beat Black Guardian. Save the world."

"What are you on about milk for? We have to find the Doctor!" Amy scolded him.

"Erm...?" Rory shrugged, deciding to let that one go for now. "And how do you propose we do that, Amy?"

Without answering him, Amy leaned over the TARDIS console. She petted it the way she'd seen the Doctor do, countless times before.

"Where's the Doctor, eh? I bet you know where he is, don't you, sweetheart? I think he's in trouble. You've got to find the Doctor." She coaxed the ship gently. "He loves you. He needs you. You're his best friend. His home. Please. Do it for him, girl. Go find the Doctor!"

"Amy! It's a time machine, not Lassie." Rory said skeptically, watching from over her shoulder.

In answer, the sound of the central column suddenly changed. The colour inside gradually went back its normal blue-green tint. On the monitor overhead, the scene changed. The image of the car park faded away as the ship changed course.

The rain had eased off somewhat when Donna regained consciousness. In the distance, an ambulance siren wailed. Blinking the rain out of her eyes, she struggled to sit up. Strangers stood grouped over her. Some looked like human vultures, eager to snap up any bit of vicarious excitement in their otherwise mundane lives. Others in the crowd appeared to be genuinely concerned.

"Wha—? What happened?" She mumbled as her husband helped her sit upright. Then she realized she was sitting on the rain-covered tarmac. "Oh. That's just brilliant. My bum's all wet. Now people are gonna' think I'm incontinent."

"Are you alright, Donna?" Her husband said. "Maybe you should lie there for a while. At least until emergency services get here. You had some kind of fit."

"Oh, stop fussing! Just a headache, that's all. Pop back into the store for a box of migraine tablets, will you? I'll be OK." Donna said, insisting on standing up. She was still feeling a bit wobbly. With a pale, tired expression on her face, she stared at the crowd disapprovingly. "Alright people, shows over. You can all clear off now. I hear they have a two for one offer on brown sauce in aisle four."

Leaving her leaning against their shopping trolley, he went and got the car for her.

"I really do think you should have someone check you over, sweetheart." he said, as he got out of the shiny new Mercedes. "It's like...I dunno'. Your eyes seemed to be glowing. It was...strange."

"You'll see fire in my eyes, if you don't hurry back with those pills!" Donna responded, as he helped her into their car. "Think I'll have a lie down when we get home. You'll have to have your tea down to the Swan tonight."

"Oh, aye." He nodded agreeably, "That's alright, love. I don't mind. They've got a nice cheese & pickle pork pie on Tuesdays."

As he shut the door, he heard her reply, "Oi! Any more of that kind of talk, and you'll also have to buy me some Pepto-Bismol!"

The Doctor was inside the cubicle. He knew he could not stand there and watch Donna suffer. Following the Black Guardian's instructions, Jack had hooked the Doctor's head up into a wide, shiny metal circlet, looking sort of like a crown. It dropped down from the top of the cubicle to encircle the Doctor's head. Wires and tubing came out from the device and plugged into the sides of the wall.

Smiling with satisfaction, the Black Guardian flipped a switch of a machine sitting on a nearby table. Coloured liquids began to flow into the tubes connecting the Doctor's brain. Within seconds he began to writhe in pain. Finally, when he could stand no more, he gave a terrible scream.

Without warning, the TARDIS began to materialize inside the basement laboratory. Both the Black Guardian and Jack turned, startled, to stare at the ship as it came to rest with a final thump, in between two lab tables. The door opened. Rory and Amy came out, cautiously looking around.

At the same time, the Black Guardian's machine gave out in a shower of smoke and sparks. At the same time, the Black Guardian clutched his head, moaning.

"What have you done, Doctor?" He cried out. Though already his voice was fading, as his body slowly dissolved into thin air. "You've not heard the last of me!" Were the last words he spoke.

"Doctor!" Rory shouted, running over to unhook the Doctor from the machine.

He and Amy held up the Doctor as he slumped forward. His face was pale and slick with perspiration.

"Are you alright?" Rory asked, as he helped him on to a nearby lab stool.

"I'll...I'll be fine in a moment, Rory. No worries." The Doctor smiled.

"What did you just do?" Amy asked, "Where did the Black Guardian go?"

"Simple! Well, not simple, sort of more...simple-ish, I suppose." The Doctor explained, "I reversed the electrical impulses in my brain cells, which were being fed into the binary neuron converter of the Black Guardian's machine. Before you ask, it's a device which distills the positive and negative emotions from the brain. By mentally reversing the polarity of the machine's neutron flow, I sent a major ionic feedback into the circuits, which shorted out all of its systems. Because part of the Black Guardian's mind had to be connected to the machine in order to make it function, it directly interfered with the electrical impulses in this brain cell membranes."

"You mean you killed him?" Amy asked, searching her jeans pocket for a tissue to wipe the Doctor's face with.

Amy and Rory had both taken time for a fast change into some dry clothing and a token hair brushing, before they'd landed. But she quickly regretted not being able to bathe, as she caught the Doctor wrinkling his nose at the combination sewer-river smell coming from her unwashed body.

"You can't kill an immortal, Amy." The Doctor said, with a raised eyebrow.

"Oh. Right." She nodded frowning at him. "I forgot, OK? It's not exactly like I meet immortal beings every day, you know. What did you do to him, then?"

"Basically, I gave him one helluva' migraine. He's gone back to his own dimension for a lie down, I suspect."

"I'm going to kill you, Doctor." Came Jack's voice. The Doctor winced. He'd forgotten about Jack the Butler. "But first I'm going to kill your friends."

"Hullo Jack, old bean." The Doctor said, quietly sliding off the stool and facing the gunman. "Aren't you tired of killing by now? I mean, I'm all for having a hobby, but don't you crave a change, now and again?"

"Who's that?" Rory asked.

"Rory. Amy. Meet Jack the Ripper." The Doctor said, moving about to distract Jack from taking pot shots at his friends. But not once taking his eyes off the man. He would not let any more of his companions get hurt today.

"I mean, Egbert the Ripper. Now known as Jack the Butler. Or, is that Egbert the butler? I suppose I'm being rude, sorry. My manners are terrible these days. Probably spending too much time watching Jersey Shore. Talk about damaging your brain cells! But there's this peculiar fascination, watching idiots. Sort of like slowing down to look at a really bad car wreck on the motorway. Can't help yourself. Do you have a preferred form of address, Egbert?"

Instead of answering, the butler took aim at Rory. Suddenly, the basement door flew open.

"Police! Scotland Yard! Stay where you are!" Came an authoritative shout.

A horde of policemen and inspectors went bursting into the room. Jack turned and fired at them. As the TARDIS door closed, there was a flurry of shots. Then, silence.

"Well, I don't know about you boys, but I'm claiming first dibs on the Jaccuzi." Amy told them.

"The TARDIS doesn't have one of those, Amy." Rory sighed. "Wish it did."

"Oh, but it will do." Amy answered. She added meaningfully, "Won't it, Doctor?"

"Erm...if it will get your smell out of my control room, anything you want." The Doctor said with a casual shrug. He was already busy putting in the coordinates for their next adventure. The Doctor was left stunned, seconds later. Looking after Amy with a shocked, puzzled frown, after she'd slapped his face and stormed off.

"What'd I do now?" He cried indignantly to Rory.

Rory only threw his head back and laughed. "I'm going to join Amy in the Jacuzzi. Coming?"


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