Chapter Twelve

Torchwood wasn't far from the mansion but by the time they arrived, there were several men and women gathered in the lobby to greet them. The Doctor stayed by Rose's side, eyeing the group warily. Even though Rose and Pete worked here, he still couldn't bring himself to trust them entirely. He scanned the group and recognized Catherine standing at the back but he couldn't see any sign of Jake so he asked about him.

"He's still in Europe with a team he's commanding, making sure that the Cybermen are well and truly gone," Pete said. "I rang him and told him you were here but he can't leave long enough to come and see you so he sends his greetings and hopes you're able to rescue your TARDIS and Jacks and your clone."

The Doctor nodded. The men and women stepped forward to introduce themselves. All of them were below the age of thirty and all of them seemed friendly enough but the Doctor still kept his guard up and kept things formal and polite between them. One of them was a young man in his early twenties with a haircut similar to his own. He was also wearing glasses similar to his brainy specs and he wore a lab coat over a powder blue t-shirt and blue jeans. He stepped forward and shook the Doctor's hand.

"I'm Robert. I'm a huge fan, Doctor," he gushed.

The Doctor was taken aback by that. He noticed Robert's coworkers were glancing at each other and sniggering or rolling their eyes. Catherine came up beside Robert.

"He's….caught up in the whole Doctor mania thing," she said sheepishly.

"Is it true you could help make us a better species?" Robert said, his eyes wide with awe.

"Well…" the Doctor said uneasily as Robert gazed at him in silent adoration. "I try to…I mean, in my reality I do but…I can't do everything for the human race. You lot have to make your own mistakes from time to time."

"But you're the guardian of humanity, right?" Robert said. "You can save us?"

"For God's sake, Robert, leave him alone," Catherine said, taking Robert's arm. "He's here for a meeting not to sign autographs."

The Doctor noted that for a second Robert shot Catherine a hostile look and he thought Robert was going to punch her for stepping in but his face softened and he nodded and with a muttered apology to the Doctor, fell back in with the others. The Doctor shifted uneasily when Robert continued to stare at him in awe, however, and he hoped that he wasn't going to be near him all day. To his relief, Catherine told him to go back to research and help out and with reluctance; Robert slunk away towards the lift. They waited until he was inside the lift before Catherine approached the Doctor.

"I'm so sorry. We tried to get him to stay put but…he's enamored of you," she said to him.

"And that's what's happening worldwide? What he's doing?" the Doctor said, pointing towards the lift.

Another man, Sebastian, stepped forward. He was Asian, in his late twenties with a shaved head and glasses with thick black frames. He also wore a lab coat but when he stepped up, the Doctor noticed a Bruce Lee t-shirt under it.

"People are reacting the way Robert reacted, yes," he said with a slight Chinese accent. "They are putting forth the idea that you can solve the world's problems. You know, benevolent alien comes down from on high to sort things out and all that."

"I hate to disappoint you lot but that's not what a Time Lord does. I 'm not even supposed to interfere, only watch but I can't bear to stand aside and let evil prevail in the universe. That doesn't mean I can do everything for humanity…or any other species for that matter. I don't know how different it is here from my reality but I'm pretty sure there are worlds out there who are more screwed up than Earth is. True, you haven't always managed the planet to the best of your ability but the best teacher is experience. You make mistakes, you learn and you grow. That doesn't happen if some benevolent alien from on high is telling you what to do and how to do it. If that were so, you'd be no better off than a slave race."

Catherine interrupted him and told everyone to follow her to the meeting room so they could continue their meeting in private and in more comfortable surroundings. They took the lift up to the eighteenth floor and Catherine led them to a large meeting room. There was an enormous oval, wooden table in the center with cushiony leather chairs around it. On the wall were a few framed paintings of landscapes and at the back was a large flat screen TV mounted into the wall. Catherine told the Doctor to sit at the head of the table nearest the door. Rose and Pete sat down on either side of him and the others took seats around the table while Catherine walked over to the TV. She turned it on and picked up a remote control that was sitting by the seat at the other end of the table.

Pete tells us that you can speak and understand other languages?" Catherine said to the Doctor.

"I can speak and understand all languages," the Doctor replied.

"Good. Because some of these news reports are from other countries. I just want you to get a scope of how far reaching this Doctor adoration is," she said.

She turned on the TV and cued up some footage. The Doctor folded his hands over his chest and leaned back in his chair while he watched it. The first report was from London where a newsreader was discussing the success of the book and speculating on the Doctor, his origins and his true purpose for helping Earth. After that came reports in French, Japanese, Spanish, Hindi, Russian and Chinese, all of them speculating about the book and about him. There was also footage of people building shrines and statues to him and worshipping him, which made the Doctor shift uneasily in his seat.

"As you can see, Robert isn't the only one enthralled by you," Catherine said, turning off the TV when the news reports ended. "You are intriguing to many people, especially since you look human. Because of that, there is also speculation that you are…the progenitor of humans and we came from your world."

"No, sorry, you didn't," the Doctor said, shaking his head. "We may be similar in appearance but I'm not descended from apes like you are. However, there is speculation that you lot were molded from primitive man by other aliens into homo sapiens sapiens but we weren't the ones that did it. And please don't tell anyone I just said that. I'm sure it would only add fuel to the fire. I'm not an expert on the human race. I learn from them just as they learn from me and I'm still learning new things about your kind, it's one of the reasons why I like humans. You lot are fascinating. And I do help…when I can. I do help protect my Earth from things that could wipe you out or enslave you but as for running day to day things on Earth, I have no interest in that. I didn't even want to run things on Gallifrey when they offered me the position. I'm a traveler, that's my passion in life, to explore the universe and occasionally find people who will come with me and see the wonders of the universe. I have no desire for a desk job, thanks."

"I understand, Doctor," Catherine said. "We've heard about some of your travels from Rose. She mentioned you from time to time and after she requested that we help construct the dimension cannon, we naturally had questions about its purpose and she told us a bit more about you and how you could help keep the stars from going out. She did say you were hard to pin down because you were always on the go."

"But I never told them anything about Gallifrey apart from you lived there once," Rose said to the Doctor. "What was said in the book is way beyond my knowledge."

"Which is why I'm willing to work with Torchwood. I know it couldn't be any of you that wrote the book. Even if you probed Rose's mind, you wouldn't have found information about my childhood and life on Gallifrey. I don't go into detail about that with outsiders."

"But who would know about it?" Sebastian said.

"Only a handful of people and as far as I know, they're all dead," the Doctor said. "They certainly wouldn't be in this universe. When Gallifrey burned, I became the last living vessel of my planet's history. Now there was one other…but he's dead now. I burned his body myself. He was the only one apart from my family that knew me when I was growing up and even if he is alive, I doubt he's in this universe."

"What if there's another Gallifrey though?" Catherine said. "What if you have a double here in this universe? Rose did search but the search of obviously limited, given our technology so who knows if there's another Gallifrey somewhere in the universe and another version of you."

"That's possible, I suppose," the Doctor said, rocking back and forth in his chair. "I would believe that before I believed that someone from my reality crossed over. If there is another me, he's not only eager to tell his story but he seems to be a bit narcissistic and egotistical, especially if he's setting himself up to be a god here. Whoever it is, he can't have known I was coming back here. Then again…"

He trailed off, deep in thought for a moment as he rocked back and forth in his chair. Thirty seconds later, he stopped rocking when a thought occurred to him.

"You lot were expecting Rose and Jackie and Mickey to return, yeah?" he said.

"Yes, we were," Catherine said. "And we were able to communicate with Rose when the walls of the universe were weakening. We helped moved her with the cannon."

"That's how I found you and Donna," Rose said to the Doctor. "I had them lock on to the TARDIS's location and they sent me there."

"So even if someone isn't the author of the book, he or she could have an accomplice among you," the Doctor said to them. "And I think I have an idea who that accomplice could be."

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