Chapter Twenty Eight

The Master snorted when he and Xelok entered the cave and he realized that the rock was just one big hollowed out room with nowhere to go. The Doctor and Rose were ten feet away, looking at the rocky interior and feeling it.

"Oh yes, this is just thrilling," the Master said dryly as he looked around the dimly lit interior. "Much more interesting than the barren wasteland outside."

"Well at least we explored it," the Doctor said, turning to him.

"If you can call it exploring, I call it standing inside a rock," the Master said.

The Doctor smiled at Xelok when he walked over and began to feel along the wall.

"Well, he hasn't given up looking for a secret passageway," the Doctor said to the Master.

"That's because he's an idiot," the Master replied.

The Doctor bristled at that but didn't let it show as he squatted down to examine the dirt.

"And now what are you doing, looking for ants?" the Master said to him.

"I'm trying to find out if any life exists here," the Doctor said to him.

"You do that," the Master said, rolling his eyes. "I'm going to find a way off this planet so I can kill the Doctor with my bare hands. Have fun."

To the Doctor's surprise, the Master left without calling to Xelok. He and Rose waited for him to come back and get him but after five minutes, the Doctor shrugged.

"Ours by default, I suppose," he said, tilting his head towards Xelok. "Come here, Xelok, help me look for life."

Xelok walked over and knelt down beside the Doctor. Rose smiled as the Doctor went into big kid mode, talking to Xelok and being silly with him, making the child giggle while the Doctor pretended to hunt for treasure. She gazed at them wistfully, an old longing growing inside her. She'd always dreamed about having a child with the Doctor and being a family. She wondered if her Doctor would make a good father. After seeing this Doctor's interactions with Xelok, she knew that at least one incarnation would love children.

Without really thinking about it, she walked over and put her hand on the Doctor's shoulder, giving it a loving squeeze. The Doctor fell silent and looked up at her, seeing the loving look on Rose's face. The old familiar nonverbal communication passed between them and the Doctor took Rose's hand from his shoulder and gently kissed the palm. Xelok watched as the Doctor stood up and pulled Rose into an embrace, caressing her back while Rose held him and breathed in his scent.

"The other you, he's not as touchy feely, he doesn't like being held," Rose murmured as she laid her head against the Doctor's shoulder.

"Well, he probably eats prunes and scorpions for breakfast."

Rose giggled at that and the Doctor smiled.

"Probably has irregular bowel movements as well and that's why he's so sour," Rose said.

"Oh no, please don't tell me I have irregular bowel movements next time," the Doctor said, rolling his eyes while Rose giggled.

"And he's not ginger," Rose teased.

"Are you just rubbing things in now, Tyler? You can be unbelievably cruel at times, you know that," he teased back.

"You could always dye your hair at the salon, yeah?"

"No, I'm not putting chemicals into my hair on purpose. I've had enough chemicals thrown on me as it is…and injected and ingested and exposed to…"

He fell silent when he heard scuffling behind him. He looked at Rose and he turned around. Both of them looked at the ground but there was nothing there. Xelok was standing off to the side though with a terrified look on his face. The Doctor called to him but Xelok stayed where he was and pointed to the ground with mute terror.

The Doctor took out his sonic and scanned the ground.

"There's metal here," he said, look up at Rose as he knelt down.

Rose knelt down with him and tried to dig down but they were surprised to find that the dirt was unmovable. Then as they looked at one another in confusion, the Doctor's acute hearing picked up more scuffling underneath the surface.

"Something down there, Rose," the Doctor said, intrigued as he stood up and backed up. "And I think we need to find out just what it is."

He was about to do another scan when a square shaped patch of dirt suddenly Rose up. Rose who was at the edge of it, gasped and fell backwards onto her butt as a metal trapdoor swung upwards. The dirt was affixed to the top of the trapdoor and went with it. The Doctor was about to find out who was down there when a pair of scaly arms shot up and scaly, clawed hands grabbed Rose's ankles and started to pull her into the opening. The Doctor gasped and fell to his knees, grabbing Rose around the waist and pulling the other way, starting a tug of war with the creatures while Xelok pressed against the rock wall in terror.

"Let go of her now!" the Doctor yelled as Rose tried to kick at the dirt and get a foothold.

"Doctor!" Rose said when another pair of arms came up and helped the first by grabbing her shins.

The Doctor grunted and pulled with all his might, thinking briefly that the creatures might be Silurians before dismissing that thought. However, he decided to try something and see if they would react.

"I am the Doctor and if you are the Silurians, I demand you let go of Rose!" he yelled.

The tug of war stopped and the Doctor breathed a sigh of relief when the reptilian hands let go of Rose. Rose scooted away and the Doctor got in front of her while Rose stood up and caught her breath.

"Who are you?" the Doctor yelled into the darkened hole. "Are you the Silurian?"

Still nothing happened for a few seconds and then a Silurian head rose above the hole and peered at him.

"I know one of your own, a Madam Vastra," the Doctor said. "She is a dear friend of mine. We mean your kind no harm, I swear."

The Silurian thought that over before beckoning to him.

"Friend of Silurian," she said with a feminine voice, "You and your allies will follow us. But be warned, we will destroy you if you are lying."

"I understand that and I'm not lying," the Doctor said.

"Very well, I am Bathsheba, follow me," she said.

The Doctor nodded. He beckoned to Xelok but the boy stayed pressed up against the wall. Rose glanced at the Doctor before walking over to him.

"Hey, it's okay. The Doctor and me, we won't let anything happen to ya, yeah?" she said to him.

Xelok stared at her for a moment before tentatively putting his hand in hers. Rose smiled warmly and the Doctor waited till they were at his side before going down first. Rose waited until he called for them to come and she let Xelok go down and then followed behind him.

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