Chapter Twenty Three

Once the Valeyard was secure and Amala was sedated and stabilized, everyone met in the console room for a meeting. River was standing by Eleven, studying Rose while she stayed by Ten. Ten had his hand on her back while he addressed everyone. Meanwhile, Rory was nearby with Amy at his side and Jack was sitting in the seat, arms folded across his chest.

"We decided to hold this meeting to inform everyone of our plans," Ten said. "First off, I'm afraid that Rose and Rory will not be turning human again."

Rose jerked her head around and stared at him. Ten grinned.

"Because I've decided that Rose will be my personal tauntaun forever more," he said, pressing on the end of her snout.

"And I want to spend my days watching Amy and Rory try to make their marriage work," Eleven said.

"You better change him back if you know what's good for ya," Amy said while everyone laughed.

Ten looked at Rose.

"Be my tauntaun," he said, pressing on the end of her snout.

Rose grinned a toothy grin and snapped the air in front of his finger.

"No, be my tauntaun," Ten said.

Rose snapped the air again. Then she turned and lightly hit the Doctor's side with her long tail before turning back around.

"Mutiny! Do you see that! She attacked me! You saw it, all of you saw it!" Ten said while Rose snuffled out laughter. "That's not proper tauntaun behavior, Rose."

Oh well, Rose chittered at him.

"Hey, watch this," Eleven said, walking over to her. "Rose, open your mouth as wide as it will go."

Rose stared at him for a couple of seconds before opening her mouth wide. Eleven put the top part of his head in her mouth and then took it out.

"Ha! Take that, lion tamers everywhere, I've had my head in a raptor's mouth," he said, strutting back to River.

Ten watched while Rose lowered her head and put it in her hands. He guessed it was like lowering your head to your hands when someone did something stupid or embarrassing.

"Okay, all merriment aside," Ten said. "My esteemed counterpart and I have come to an agreement that we will hold off on the transformations until we sort out what the Valeyard did to the TARDIS, for safety purposes since we don't want Rose or Rory ending up chickens. It shouldn't take long…we hope. Second, we do have translation devices we can put around Rose and Rory's necks so we don't have to keep telling you what they say. Saves us a bit of work and trouble. Third, Rory has informed my other self that the other raptors are also mutated people which means we have to round them up and change them back. Having said that, it explains how the Valeyard was able to get a herd of raptors to be his slaves. We also need to find any survivors of this whole fiasco and inform them that the competition is over. Forth, Rose will be my tauntaun so no human body for her."

Rose turned again and slapped the Doctor's arm with her tail. She snuffled laughter when she turned back and the Doctor eyed her.

"Fifth, Rose will be executed by firing squad around noonish for repeatedly hitting me with her furry, flea infested tail. So be sure to attend that," he said while everyone laughed.

"Six," Jack said. "We must hold an emergency wedding for Rose and Rory before they go back to being human just so we can say we witnessed a raptor wedding."

"Uh, no, we're not having a raptor wedding," Amy said to him.

"Why not, it'll be cute," Jack said. "Oh wait, sorry, they're tauntauns now. Real raptors don't look like Snuffleuppagus from Seasame Street."

Rory chittered something to Ten.

"What'd he say?" Amy said.

"He said to hurry up the sorting out the TARDIS because now the massive furry body is hot and uncomfortable for him since he's no longer in the cold," Ten said.

Too right it is, Rose chittered.

"Can we hold a raptor shearing party then?" Jack said. "Like sheep, you know, we can make coats from the fur."

"No. Because that will take oodles of time we don't have," Eleven said. "And last on the agenda, we need to get off this planet before the planet is no more. So everyone, let us do our job and sort out the mess the Valeyard made so we can get this ship back home."

"And now…" Ten said, stepping around the side of the console.

He grabbed two black leather collars that were laying there. Each collar had a black speaker box attached to it and each collar had seat belt attachments to them. He switched on the speakers and walked over to Rory. He lay one collar on his back and put the other one around his neck. He buckled it closed and adjusted it so it was on his neck snugly but allowed Rory room to breathe.

"Hello, Rory," Ten said when he took the other collar and stepped back.

Rory chittered and they heard "Hello" coming out of the speaker. The voice was male and robotic and Amy made a face at that. Ten also glanced at the collar in his hand when "Hello" also came out of it in a male voice. He adjusted that one so it had a female robotic voice before going over to Rose and fastening it around her.

"Say something," Ten said when he finished.

"You're an idiot," they heard her say when she chittered back to him.

"Right, firing squad it is!" Ten said.

Rose barked out laughter but stopped when the speaker box at her neck translated it as "Ha, ha, ha, ha" with a female robotic voice.

"It's translating, Rose. That's what you meant to say when you laughed," Ten said. "So now, everyone just relax and we'll let you know when we're finished with the console."

Amy was about to leave when Rory told her to wait. He squatted down and told her to get on his back.

"Are you sure?" Amy asked with a frown.

"I carried Amala, I can carry you, get on," Rory said.

Amy got on his back and gasped when Rory stood up. He slowly walked over to River while Amy laughed with delight.

"See, this is why you should keep him the way he is," Jack said, standing up.

Rory walked up to River and River smiled and petted his snout.

"You do look cute this way, dad," she said to him.

"No thanks," Rory said. "I want to go back to being me."

"You need to try this, River, this is fun," Amy said to her.

Jack crooked his arm for River but River told him to wait a moment when she saw Rose heading up the stairs by herself. She excused herself and ran to catch up with her.

"Hey, can I talk to you for a moment?" River said when she caught up to her just inside the other room.

Rose studied her for a moment before nodding. River held up her hand.

"I'm not here to fight, just to talk. My Doctor explained who you were," River said. "Wanna walk to the kitchen?"

Rose nodded and River walked beside her.

"I just wanted to say that I understand about you and the Doctor," River said. "You're at a point in time when I'm not even in the picture and this is your time to be with your Doctor."

Rose listened but didn't say anything so River continued.

"The Doctor is very old and he told me that he's had many people he's loved over the years," River said.

Rose nodded.

"After 900 years of life, I can't expect to be the first one he's given his hearts to and I barely know you so it's unfair for me to be jealous or hostile towards you."

Rose nodded.

"I think the same way," Rose said to her.

"Good," River said. "Because I met the Doctor under unusual circumstances."

"Me too," Rose said.

"Well, were you kidnapped as an infant and raised to be his killer?"

Rose stopped and stared at her. River chuckled at the shocked look on her face.

"Amy and Rory are my parents," she said when they resumed walking.

"Doctor told me," Rose said. "Said you were conceived in here."

"Yes. My mother was kidnapped when I was still in her womb and I was born on an asteroid called Demon's Run. The Doctor and my parents tried to rescue me but they were unsuccessful and I spent the first half of my childhood being conditioned to kill the Doctor."

"How terrible," Rose said, shaking her head.

"I know. But I survived it," River said. "Well, have you ever heard of Stockholm Syndrome?"

"You fall in love with your kidnappers?" Rose said.

"Yes, that's right. Well, I had a sort of reverse Stockholm Syndrome. I fell in love with the man I was supposed to kill because growing up he was practically my whole world," River said. "When all you hear day in and day out is Doctor this, Doctor that…well, in my case, I fell in love with him at the same time I was being trained to hate him. It's odd, I know," she said, when Rose cocked her head. "But they practically imprinted the man on my soul and when I finally did meet him and got over the conditioning. I realized he was more wonderful than I ever imagined."

She smiled when Rose nodded her head emphatically.

"What about you? When did you meet him?" she said.

"Ninth Doctor. I was working at a department store and he saved me from plastic people. He followed me home and I helped him and he asked me to come with him after that."

"So not as dramatic as my introduction to him then," River joked. "Anyway, I don't want to be enemies, Rose. I've had enough enemies in my life without battling it out with another girlfriend. The Doctor told me he has two hearts, one for each of us, and I think that's fitting. So would you be my friend, at least for as long as you can remember me."

Rose stopped, turned towards her and extended her right hand to her. River smiled, took it and Rose carefully closed her claws around it.

"Thank you," River said as they shook hands. "I look forward to seeing you when you become human and the Doctors get past the tauntaun nonsense."

She chuckled when Rose snorted at that. Rose let go of her hand and the two women made small talk while they headed towards the kitchen.

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