Chapter Eleven

"Okay, I think I'm ready," Eleven said as he came back into the console room.

Rose turned in her seat and watched while he came towards her. He stopped for a moment and looked around.

"Wow, this is certainly a flashback moment now," he said to Rose. "I'm used to my TARDIS interior now. Anyway, I have several things that I think will help us, including…a sonic screwdriver."

He whipped it out of his jacket coat pocket and made a face at it.

"Unfortunately, it's my predecessor's sonic. Mine is bigger and more powerful but it'll have to do. How about you? Are you feeling better?" he asked, sitting down beside her.

"I s'pose but how do I know you're the real Doctor?" Rose said to him. "I thought this…Valeyard was the real Doctor."

"I know," the Doctor said. "And I'm sorry about that. But there's nothing I can do to prove without a doubt that I'm the real Doctor, at least enough to satisfy you. So I just ask you to trust me, Rose. That's all I can do."

"But who is this Valeyard?" Rose said. "How does he know so much about you and how did he get the TARDIS to obey him?"

The Doctor sighed and put his arm around her.

"It's a possible future version of me. An evil version," he said.

Rose stared at him, too shocked to speak for a moment.

"But he looks like you," Rose said.

"It's a disguise. He did that to infiltrate my TARDIS and try to gain the trust of the people who are traveling with me at the moment. It didn't work so he put them to sleep and put me out of sync with time."

"But if he's you, why does he want to kill you in this tournament?" Rose said.

"I don't think he wants to kill me. I think he wants to possess him. And in answer to the next question I know you're going to ask, my tenth self is more emotional which makes him more susceptible to brainwashing. Not to mention he traveled by himself for awhile so he was hoping to bypass any companions. Unfortunately, he made a mistake and went back too early and here you are."

"But what about Jack?" Rose said.

"Not sure but he can't die so perhaps my other self is thinking about brainwashing and enslaving him? Perhaps turning him into a soldier? There are many uses for a man who can't stay dead, you know."

"And what about me? What he told me about my leaving you, was that a lie?" Rose said.

"No. If you mean did we part as lovers, yes we did. Was it a voluntary parting…yes and no. It's complicated but I still care for you as much as I ever did, Rose. But I know you've been waiting to hear me tell you that I love you and I do but the Valeyard was using that to manipulate you."

Rose nodded. She smiled when the Doctor put his hand on her cheek.

"I'm so glad I got through to you," the Doctor said softly when Rose put her hand on his and kept it against her cheek. "It was agony watching you and knowing that you couldn't see me."

Rose looked at him for a moment before leaning in for a kiss. Eleven smiled and accepted it, tasting her lips while Rose deepened the kiss. The Doctor sighed through his nose, missing the intimacy he had shared with her. Rose finished the kiss and laid her hand against his cheek.

"You are my Doctor, I can feel it," she said to him.

"Good, I'm glad you believe me," the Doctor said. "Are you rested now?"

Rose nodded and the Doctor stood up and took her hand. He led her out of the room and they walked back to a room containing a transmat platform. He asked Rose to get on the platform while inputted some data from a nearby console.

"We're going to transmat into my TARDIS," the Doctor said to Rose while he finished putting in the instructions. "With any luck, the Valeyard will be gone in search of us and we won't have to worry about him. I want to get to the cryostasis room and wake up my friends so they'll help us. Ready?"

Rose nodded and Eleven quickly got onto the platform. Rose closed her eyes and saw a bright light through her eyelids. She felt someone embrace her and she opened her eyes and saw the Doctor smiling at her.

"We made it," he said. "Now, let's hurry in case the Valeyard is still here."

Rose took his hand and they jumped down off the identical platform. She ran to the door with the Doctor and after opening it and making sure no one was around, Rose ran with him while he led the way to the cryostasis room. To Rose's relief, no alarm sounded and no one stopped them and five minutes later, they were inside the cryostasis room. The Doctor knelt down by the first tube while Rose closed the door. On the side of the tube were a computer keypad and a small display screen. The Doctor rapidly keyed something in while he muttered, "Come on, Rory. Wake up, mate." He stood up when he finished with the keypad and Rose heard a faint hissing sound from inside the tube.

"It's warming his body up and waking him up," Eleven explained to Rose while she drew near to him.

Then she heard a heavy thunk and the top half of the tube opened up like a coffin. Inside it, Rose saw a young man wearing a blue shirt, blue jeans and white trainers. The man gasped and sat up while Eleven knelt down.

"It's alright, you're safe," he told him. "Rory, this is Rose."

"Hi," Rory said, waving at her. "Sorry, I'm a bit out of sorts. Where am I?"

"You were in suspending animation. And Amy and River are in those pods," the Doctor said, pointing to them. "So just relax and I'll free them."

Rory nodded. Rose helped him to stand up while the Doctor knelt by the next pod.

"Are you a friend?" Rory asked Rose.

"I used to travel with him," Rose said. "Well, not with him, his former self. My Doctor is a part of this competition and…"

Suddenly, the door opened and the Doctor jerked his head around when the Valeyard stepped into the room and smirked at them.

"So…you were foolish to come back here, weren't you, Doctor?" the Valeyard said as he closed the door behind him.

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