Chapter 22

"Rory!" The voice of the still-blind eleventh Doctor echoed through the dead control room. Desperately he clung one-handed, upside down from the safety rail, shouting, "That's most definitely not what I told you to do!"

"You said to turn the dial on my left. I absolutely remember you said the words 'my left'." Rory answered through gritted teeth, as he frantically gripped the TARDIS console with both hands to avoid being flung off.

Apparently, as Rory discovered the hard way, turning the dial in that particular direction caused the Doctor's ship to suddenly flip upside down.

"No! No! No! When I said 'my' left, I meant my left!" The Doctor shot back at him.

"Ah. Er—right. Sorry." Rory said, quietly embarrassed. He paused uncertainly, frowning into the darkness. " what do I do?"

"Call me a wild optimist Rory, but I think turning that dial in the opposite direction would be a good start." The Doctor responded tartly.

"Erm—yeah. Two problems with that, Doctor." He said hesitantly. "The torch has gone. I can't see a thing. I've no idea where that dial is, anymore. And if I let go to search for it, I'll fall."

"Oh, it's all about you today, isn't it?" Came the Doctor's annoyed voice. "Alright, then. One thing at a time, then. By the sound of your voice, I'd say you're not far from the typewriter. If the console is upside down, it would be somewhere near your right hand. Just to be perfectly crystal clear, Rory, that's your righthand, not mine. Can you reach out and feel for it?"

"OK. I'll give it a try." Rory's shrug was invisible in the darkness, as he let out a patient sigh and hoped for the best.

"There is no try, Rory. There is only do, or do not." The Doctor quoted sagely.

"I'm hanging upside down in the dark, and you're spouting Yoda at me? Cheers for that, Doctor." Rory said dryly.

"A very wise fellow." The Doctor snifed, "He's the one who told me bow ties were cool."

Rory had no answer for that. Instead, getting a firmer grip on the console with his left hand and foot, he tentatively sent his right hand exploring the now upside-down controls.

After several minutes of straining to find the typewriter, Rory finally succeeded. "Got it! Now what, Doctor?" he asked.

"What you're looking for should be just a few inches further along. It'll feel exactly like one of those dials you'd find on an old fashioned floor safe." Instructed the Doctor.

After a few tense moments, Rory's strained voice gasped, "It's getting a bit stuffy in here, Doctor. And cold. I'm trying, but it's too far. No, I'm sorry. It's no good! I can't reach!"

"No whinging!" The Doctor admonished him. "It hate it when humans whine. It's like having a mosquito buzzing around my ear. Now come on, get busy! Sitting around complaining isn't gonna' get the sheep sheared, ya' know. I believe in you. I know you can do it. Rory, Rory, he's our man. If he can't do it, nobody can!" The Doctor cheered him on.

"Not without falling and breaking my neck, I won't. I'm telling you Doctor, I can't do it." A quickly tiring Rory complained.

"Nonsense! You can do this, Rory." The Doctor asserted softly, almost kindly. "Because you'll do it for Amy."

There was a very long pause in the darkness. Then came a series of grunts, and a very loud and grumpy "Ouch!" from Rory. There was another short pause before everything abruptly shifted back again. The Doctor's head snacked on the glass of the TARDIS floor.

"Ow!" Yelled the Doctor and Rory both, this time.

Unseen by the Doctor, Rory had landed rather ungracefully, sprawled head down across the TARDIS console, his feet waving in the air. As he disentangled himself, Rory felt his way over to the Doctor, making careful note of his bearings.

"Now, Rory." The Doctor said to him, "Since neither of us can see at the moment, maybe I'd better take over from here. After all, she's my ship. If you can guide me over to the spot just below the monitor screen, I think I can get the life support and lighting working again."

As their hands clasped together, Rory for the first time noticed how much cooler the Doctor's fingers were. He wondered silently if it was a normal body temperature for a Time Lord, or if the Doctor had suffered some injury he wasn't telling him about. Slowly, he lead the Doctor over to the console, feeling over his head for the retro-television that the Doctor used for a monitor screen. He put the Doctor's hand on it.

"Alright now, there should be a toggle switch here somewhere." The Doctor said to himself, as his fingers delicately explored the surface of the console. "And as a certain mathematician once shouted in his bath, 'Eureka!' Though why he felt the need to yell in a bathtub, I'll never know."

There was a gentle whooshing sound, followed by a low, barely perceptible hum, as fresh air once again flowed into the control room. Rory noticed that it also began to get a bit warmer, as well.

"There! That's more like it." The Doctor's pleased voice said. "And now as I once famously said, "Let there be light!"

"Um—I thought that was God who said that?" Rory asked.

"Yeah. Him too. Fanboys, what can you do? They do say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Though these 'copycats' do weird me out a bit, sometimes. Like that bloke on Twitter a while back..." The Doctor rambled on, as he searched for the correct switch. "Oooh! Here we go!"

Rory breathed a sigh of relief as, all of the sudden, the control room was flooded with light.

"Wait! It's light, isn't it?" The Doctor said, as a smile of relief slowly spread across his face.

To check, he began waving his hand rapidly in front of his eyes. "That's me doing that, right? Not you? I'm not hallucinating? Not some wishful thinking on my part?" he questioned Rory anxiously.

"Wait a sec, let me have a look." Rory the nurse said, peering closely at the Doctor eyes. He held up two fingers. "How many fingers do you see?"

"I see two blurry fingers. When did your fingers get all fuzzy, Rory? And what's with the little black dots?"

"You're eyes look fine to me, Doctor." Rory reassured him. "I think the blurriness and black spots are only temporary. You'll be OK. But you probably should rest your eyes for a while. Or put on a pair of dark glasses, just to be...what? What is it?" Rory asked, as he saw the Doctor staring at something over his shoulder.

"Sweet Rassilon on a bicycle! That is so not good, Rory. In fact, that is one shed load of bad." Said the Doctor, his tone abruptly somber.

Rory whirled around, his eyes following the Doctor's disheartened stare. His horrified look was directed at the central column of the console. Rory's mouth dropped open with dismay at what he saw there.

The glass inside the time rotor was smashed and blackened, with a sickly green ooze flowing out of the base. Rory didn't need the Doctor to tell him that without the time rotor, there was no way the ship could travel through the vortex. Or even fly at all. It seemed that they were truly trapped, this time.

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