THE ELEVEN DOCTORS

Chapter 24

Rory stared disbelievingly at the ruined time rotor on the TARDIS console. As his chest heaved with his sudden feeling of helplessness, Rory thought about how very far away he was from Amy. He wondered if she was alright, if he'd ever see her again. And wishing he'd said he'd loved her, the last time they'd been together. He tried to remember their last conversation before she'd been taken from him.

'I feel like a curry. Let's do some takeaway.' Rory had told her.

'The whole universe to dine in, anywhere in space and time,' she'd answered, 'and you want to go for a curry?' She paused, turned and asked the Doctor, 'Is there a Nando's in outer space?'

'Nando's doesn't do curry.' Rory shook his head negatively, frowning at her. 'I'm famished. And I could really go for some tandoori chicken, right now.'

'OK, so it's not a curry joint. They do a nice piri piri chicken. It's all spicy food. What's the difference?' She said to him.

'It's not at all similar, Amy.' Rory asserted. 'One's from India, the other's Portuguese. That's like comparing southern fried chicken to kung pao chicken. They're a completely different sort of cuisine. Not to mention geography. India's here. He pointed outward with his right finger. 'And Portugal is over here.' He pointed his left finger quite a ways away from his right finger. 'I could show them to you on a map, if you don't believe me.'

'Who cares, Rory? Chicken is chicken...and they have roasted potatoes. Oooh, gorgeous!' Amy went on, conveniently deaf to Rory's objections. 'I wonder, Doctor. Do you think Nando's have a seating area in their restaurant big enough for a TARDIS?' she asked.

That's when the Doctor, not wanting to play the part of marital referee, suggested they all whet their appetite with some space surfing before tea time.

Rory sighed, feeling guilt wash over him. The love of his live was gone, literally snatched away from him. And the last thing he'd said to her was that she didn't know her geography? Such a stupid, trivial conversation. Why couldn't his last words have been, "I love you.?" He sighed again, feeling a tear slowly roll down his cheek.

As the his eyesight slowly returned, the Doctor blinked the blurriness from his eyes. He too, gazed disconsolately at the destruction wrought upon the time rotor.

"Oh, you poor thing. What has the bad, bad vortex collision done to you?" The Doctor asked his ship sadly, as he walked unsteadily to stand beside Rory.

The Doctor's hand gently stroked the side of the console, as if he were comforting a sick pet. He did feel as if his hearts were breaking. For him, it was much like visiting a terminally ill family member in hospital.

"Is it...I mean, is she gone?" Rory softly asked , though he was half afraid of the answer. "Are we stuck here, Doctor?"

"I don't know, Rory." The Doctor said simply, darkly. Bracing his hands against the console he hung his head. Staring downwards. Though his sight had returned, his mind saw saw nothing.

The truth was, he really didn't want to know if she was gone. Not yet, anyway. He'd lost so much. The Doctor wasn't sure how much more loss he could bear, before he finally succumbed to the grief and loneliness. Already, there were days when the emotional drag tried its best to pull down him into the barren depths of...of...the feeling was so huge and awful, there wasn't even a proper word for it. That's why the Doctor felt the urge to keep moving, to stay busy. It wasn't purely for the sake of his own curiosity, any longer. Nor his rebelliousness against the detached, elitist Gallifreyan political institution. Though still adventuring for the thrill of discovery, he was also running away from himself, now. From his own inner demons.

Even the very thought of the loss of something as near and dear to his hearts as the TARDIS, punched a icy, black hole into the Doctor. It was the last thing he had of home. The one, single thing he had that was worth holding on to in his exile. His ship was a part of himself, a part of who he was. It was his emotional anchor to his past, his present, and hopefully, his future. This magical, sexy ship was one place in the universe where he knew he still belonged. Which is why the Doctor suddenly wondered why he was giving up on her so easily.

"Spacial drive!" He shouted abruptly, jerking his head erect with the manic gleam returning to his eyes.

"The what?" A startled Rory asked, hardly daring to feel a slender thread of hope.

"The spacial drive is connected directly to the main command nodes of the TARDIS."

"And?" Rory shrugged, having no idea what the Doctor was on about, as usual.

"Not 'and', Rory. More like 'if'. The Doctor explained, wiggling about and flapping his arms around like a hyperactive schoolboy. "If I can get the spacial drive up and running, if I can loop its sub-particle interface back around into the chononucleic vacuum chamber, and if that works, use the extra power boost to jump-start the TARDIS' self-repair module..."

"We can maybe get out of here and go rescue Amy?" Rory asked with more optimism than he actually felt.

"Precisely!" The Doctor's finger shot up to emphasize his point. Then he drew the finger towards him, frowning. "That's strange."

"What is?" Rory leaned in close to see what the Doctor was staring at.

"I've a bit of a callous there. Never noticed that before. Wonder where that came from?"

"Getting back on topic, Doctor?" Rory suggested pointedly.

"Yes, well. You see Rory, I have a few ideas." The Doctor said hesitantly.

Rory thought the Doctor looked rather shifty, all of the sudden.

"Alright, Doctor. Whatever your plan is, I'll go along with it. I mean," he shrugged, "it's not as if I have a choice."

"Oh, good. Because you see, eróRory, some of the things we both need to do, may seem rather ermóstrange to you." He responded worriedly, with an almost comical look of hopeful expectation on his face.

"In other words, Doctor." Rory said, tilting his head and rolling his eyes at the Doctor. "Business as usual. Yeah. I'm hip to that."

His words were rewarded by a huge, happy grin on the Doctor's face, as he gleefully produced his sonic screwdriver. "Mr. Pond, I don't know if I've told you this lately, but you are one far-out and groovy kind of guy."

"Actually," Rory replied blandly, "I don't think anyone's ever told me that."

"Stop blabbing and come and help me, Rory." The Doctor said brusquely, as he ducked under the TARDIS console. "We've work to do. This is hardly the time for idle chit-chat."

Sighing in resignation at one the Doctor's sudden mood changes, Rory crouched down beside the Doctor to await his instructions.

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