THE CUTENESS GAUNTLET

Chapter Two

Twelve muttered to himself. The guards had taken him to another part of the ship and put him in front of a wooden, pink door that was decorated with flowers and hearts. That was bad enough but the guards also forced him to surrender his usual conservative Doctor outfit and made him put on a pink ballerina outfit with pink tutu, slippers and a diamond tiara. Arabella made it clear that if he were to remove any of these items, he would never see Clara again. So he suffered in silence while he waited for someone to tell him to go.

"Are you ready?" Arabella said as her voice boomed over a speaker mounted in the ceiling above him.

"As ready as I'll ever be, just open the door!" the Doctor yelled.

"Very well. Prepare to enter…"

"THE CUTENESS GAUNTLET, YES, I KNOW!" the Doctor yelled when she paused for another pause.

"Enter!" Arabella said melodramatically.

"You're gonna think "Enter!" when my fist enters your face," the Doctor growled as he stepped forward.

He opened the door and shielded his eyes when bright sunlight hit his face. He kept his hand over his eyes while he entered the room. There was loud birdsong all around him and it took him a moment to adjust to the bright sunlight as the door slammed shut behind him and loudly locked itself. The Doctor took a look around. The sky was perfectly blue, the sun had a happy face on it and the trees were all painted rainbow colors with happy, singing rainbow colored birds flitting among them. He was standing on a dirt path that went straight ahead into a rainbow tree forest.

"Hello."

The Doctor frowned when he heard a deep voice coming from somewhere. He looked around but all he could see were the deliriously happy birds.

"Up here, mate."

The Doctor looked up and the Sun smiled at him.

"Hello there," he said to the Doctor.

The Doctor was amazed when he realized he could stare at the sun without any discomfort.

"Welcome to the Cuteness Gauntlet," the Sun said with a deep voice. "Here you will find a cuteness paradise."

"I'm looking for my friend, Clara, is she in here?"

The Sun rose higher in the sky and tilted so he was looking down.

"Ah yes, here she is, right at the end of the path," the Sun said, looking back at him. "Good luck finding her."

"Is she safe?" the Doctor said.

"I believe so. She's just sitting on a bench. Well, chained to it actually but still sitting there. Actually, she's quite cute. She's wearing a puffy blue party dress."

"Which I'm sure she hates," the Doctor said.

"Nah, everyone loves cuteness here," the Sun said.

"Not me and I'm going to beat this Cuteness Gauntlet and get her back."

"Suit yourself. I'll be watching your progress. Can't help you unfortunately as I have no arms but still, best of luck."

"Thanks," the Doctor said.

The Sun whistled a happy tune to himself as the Doctor started down the path. As he walked, the birds began to fly around his head and he batted at them when they got in his face and chirped cheerfully.

"Go away and mate with each other or something," the Doctor said, waving away a particularly annoying bird that was flying circles around his head.

He sighed when the bird landed on his right shoulder instead and continue to chirp cheerfully in his ear. He felt self conscious in the ballerina outfit and imagined Clara dying of laughter at the sight of him.

He entered the forest, half expecting it to suddenly get dark and spooky but instead it was just all rainbows and sunshine and merriment, except for the Doctor who was all dour and sour and grumpy. The bird continued to sit on his shoulder and every time the Doctor tried to swat at it, it would fly up and land back on his shoulder again so eventually the Doctor just ignored it.

Eventually, the cuteness was beginning to gnaw at him and he gritted his teeth as the birdsong became louder and more annoying.

"Stop it!" he finally yelled.

Everything fell silent for a moment, even the bird on his shoulder and then it just started up again, louder and more insistent. The Doctor gnashed his teeth and balled up his fists and started to run, hoping to zoom through the maze and be done with it. Then, to his shock, a large doe bounded out of the woods and he had to stop short to avoid barreling into it. He stopped and stared at the rainbow colored doe with huge doe eyes and a dopey humanlike smile. He glanced at his shoulder and was amazed to see that the bird had hung on, despite the running and he realized that the maze was going to be tougher than he thought.

"Well, what do you want?" he asked the deer.

To his surprise, the doe reared up on her hind legs and began to dance around, quite elegantly as several nearby birds flew around her in complicated patterns. The Doctor sighed and tried to step around the deer, but no matter where he went, the deer stepped in front of him and continued to dance.

"Yes, I get it, you're so cute you're twee, now let me pass!" the Doctor yelled at the deer.

He flinched when the deer walked towards him, put her front legs up on his shoulders, a move that dislodged the bird the Doctor noticed, and to his shock, kissed him right on the lips. The Doctor tried to push the deer away but somehow he was rooted to the spot. The deer kissed him for twenty seconds before pulling back with a loud "Mwah!" and then giggled as the Doctor stared at her in shock. The doe fluttered her eyes at him as the Doctor gritted his teeth, tensed his muscles and then flung the deer backwards with one enormous shove.

"Get out of my way, Bambi, before I cut off your head and put it on my wall!" he growled at the deer as she went down on all four feet to avoid falling on her ass.

The Doctor wiped the deer saliva off his lip while the deer whistled cheerfully and pranced back into the forest. The Doctor took a step and found that he could walk again but before he could take another step, the bird was back on his shoulder whistling its cheerful tune. The Doctor muttered curses under his breath as he continued to walk through the woods.

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