Chapter Eight

The real eleventh Doctor came back into the console room after checking to make sure the imposter didn't hurt River, Amy and Rory. When the imposter went to freshen up, Eleven took the opportunity to go back to his beloved. He was glad that for the moment his imposter was sparing the people he cared about. He had tried to free the Ponds from their captivity but the imposter had deadlock sealed the capsule and the console. He didn't have his sonic with him, that was in the imposter's possession but all the same he made sure that Eleven couldn't open the capsules and free everyone from their self-imposed sleep.

Rose was walking around the console, examining the doodahs on it and Eleven chuckled while he followed her. Because of the time differentiation of his prison everything he saw was two seconds behind reality. It took awhile to get used to he knew if his imposter whipped out a blaster and shot Rose, two seconds would pass before he even realized it had happened. He only hoped his imposter wasn't planning something like that. But now that they were alone, he had another opportunity to try to make contact with her. He reached out his hand when she stopped moving and examined the typewriter and touched her hair. He kept it there past two seconds and was delighted when Rose frowned, put her hand up to her hair and looked over her shoulder.

"Hello, my precious," he said to her. "Feeling something on your hair?"

Rose ran her hand down her hair at the spot he had touched and then looked at her hand. Eleven guessed she was thinking an insect was there. He did it again when she went back to looking at the console and she did the same thing again.

"Is someone there?" Rose said, looking around.

"Yes, Rose, I'm here," he said to her.

He sighed when Rose didn't hear him but she kept looking around searching for something and he hoped this first contact could become something more tangible. He wanted to send a message to her via the TARDIS but his imposter had made sure that his ship would respond only to him. He moved to her side and put his hands on either side of her cheeks and held them there. He smiled when after two seconds Rose gasped and stepped back, a confused look on her face.

"Come on, Rose, work it out. You're a bright spark," Eleven said while Rose looked around. "I'm not the type of bloke to organize a fight to the death tournament and you knew that. You questioned why I was doing this so you know something's amiss. Come on, my hearts, question him further and find out what his true intentions are."

But while he said that, he knew that she had to be careful because if she got too nosy, his imposter might stick her in a capsule. With his other self and Jack occupied, Rose was now at his mercy and the slightest slip might be fatal to her. He knew that Rose wasn't intricate to his plan which meant she was expendable so he thought perhaps for the moment ignorance really was bliss for her. But that didn't mean he wouldn't stop trying to reach her. He wanted her to realize his existence and he was hoping she would be smart enough to keep that fact hidden from his imposter. He was glad she could feel his touch at least. At least in a way he could make contact with her even if she didn't know it was him.

He looked up at the ceiling.

"Come on, you sexy thing, you can do this. Break out of his control. You need to reach Rose and tell her about me," he said to the ceiling. "Try, old girl, I'm depending on you. The old fool might think he's invincible but you're far cleverer than he is!"

Rose stopped her inspection of the console when she noticed the roundel lights around her were suddenly blinking on and off and the TARDIS was grunting. She listened and swore the grunting sounded strained as if the TARDIS was in agony. She gasped when she felt the sudden warmth on her cheek. She had felt something in her hair and now she kept feeling this warmth on her cheeks along with a slight bit of pressure like someone was touching her. The weird sensation on her cheeks stopped when she backed away but the TARDIS kept grunting and wheezing and the roundel lights kept dimming and flaring up.

"What's going on, old girl?" Rose said, rubbing the console rim in the same way she'd seen the Doctor do it. "Are you alright?"

She noticed a bright light flashing underneath the monitor. She walked towards it and when she reached it she noticed there was something written on the monitor. The words were very dim and barely legible but she could still make out what it said…


Rose read that and frowned. The words vanished and were replaced with the concentric circles that were usually on her Doctor's monitor. Rose mouthed the words to herself. Then suddenly the lights returned to normal and the wheezing stopped ten seconds before the Eleventh Doctor stepped into the room.

"Sorry it took so long," he said to Rose. "I hope you weren't bored up here."

Rose thought about the words on the monitor and her earlier questions about why he was organizing a duel to the death when that was out of character for him surfaced in her mind. But she realized that the words were a warning from the TARDIS so she feigned cheerfulness.

"Nah, just exploring your console," she said, waving her hand dismissively. "You still use bits and bobs then?"

"Well, with Gallifrey gone it's hard to find replacement parts so the TARDIS has to make do," Eleven said. "As long as it works, I'm happy."

"Is the rest of the TARDIS like this?" Rose said. "The metal walls, I mean?"

"Yes. Well, mostly. I still have specialized rooms like my butterfly room that resemble parkland."

"Do you mind if I go to my room and freshen up?" Rose said. "Is my room still here?"

"Oh yes, I believe it's been kept just as you left it. You go on and do what you have to do. I want to run a few calculations through my computer."

Rose thanked him and left the room. Once she was gone, she mulled over the message the TARDIS left for her. The writing had been barely legible when she saw it. Was that why the TARDIS had been wheezing? Had something been done to her and she was fighting to get a message to her. When Eleven told her that he had organized this tournament so the combatants would kill themselves, she thought that was odd for him, something the Doctor would never do. But she hadn't been sure since the Tenth Doctor had some personality differences from the Ninth. Now she was wondering if she'd been right all along. If so, was this Doctor lying about protecting her Doctor and Jack? She wondered if she could get a message to them before the twelve hours were up.

While she walked, she kept her eyes open for any sign from the TARDIS but there was nothing, not even a grunt from her and Rose surmised that either the TARDIS had exhausted herself to deliver the message or she wasn't going to try anything as long as Eleven was in the console room. She looked back behind her, making sure she was alone before she stopped and looked up.

"TARDIS, what happened to the real Doctor?" she said. "If this other Doctor's a fake, where is the Doctor that belongs here?"

She gasped when she felt that warmth on her cheek again. She swore it felt like a hand laying there but when she turned around and looked for the source she was alone. She thought for a moment.

"Doctor, are you invisible?" she said.

A few seconds passed and then Rose felt the hand on her cheek again.

"Doctor?" she said, looking around. "If you're here, put your hand on my cheek again."

There was another few seconds where nothing happened and then she felt the hand on her cheek again.

"If you're here, what do I do to help?" Rose said, looking around.

She waited for an answer. Then her eyes widened when she swore she heard a voice whispering "Trapped" over and over by her ear. She decided to go with her instincts.

"Trapped where?" she said, her eyes darting around the corridor.

She waited and listened hard. Then two seconds later she heard someone saying "Two seconds out of sync." She repeated the phrase and asked for confirmation in the form of the hand on her cheek. Her heart leaped when she felt the hand a few seconds after she asked. Then she heard "Don't trust him," whispered over and over and Rose nodded.

"How do I help you?" she asked.

"Find other me and tell him," she heard whispered over and over.

Rose nodded again and repeated that back. She was rewarded with the hand on her cheek.

"How do I get away from this fake you?" she asked.

She waited for an answer but couldn't hear anything. She did notice that the TARDIS seemed to be grunting and groaning again and the lights in the corridor dimmed. Rose waited and after a few minutes she felt the hand on her cheek again.

"Go now!" the voice whispered over and over to her.

Rose nodded, trusting that something had happened to the other Doctor.

"Find the other me," she heard the voice whisper repeatedly.

"I will, Doctor. We'll sort this out and set you free," Rose said before she hurried back to the console room.

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