Chapter Twenty Two

After Annie joined the group, Jack stepped outside and took a look around while the others introduced themselves and told her their real names. Jack was pleased that he managed to find two of the Ripper's victims and get them off the street before they were killed. He held his hand out and felt the rain on the palm of his hand, it was still raining but it had slowed back down to a drizzle. Still, the temperature had dropped and he was glad that they had money for lodgings. He looked across the road at ChristChurch and noticed a few drunken women were going inside it. Then he saw something in the shadows by the church, something that made his blood run cold. He looked inside at the women. They were standing by the doorway, talking to Annie. He looked back and noticed there were only shadows now but he still called to Rose and asked her to come outside. Rose stepped outside with him and he asked her to look at the shadows and asked if she saw anything.

Rose looked hard at where he was pointing and shook her head.

"I don't see anything. Why? What happened?" she asked him.

"I thought I saw him. The ninth Doctor," he said softly to her.

Rose did a double take.

"He escaped then?" she said happily.

"I don't think so. It may have been the darkness and the shadows but he looked like a shell of his former self. Thin and pale and ghoulish looking but it was him."

"Could we capture him?" Rose said.

"Capture him?"

"Yeah, capture him and find out what he knows," Rose said. "Get him to talk."

"Rose, he tried to kill you…well, he tried to kill a version of you," Jack said.

"And the Doctors aren't themselves anymore," Rose muttered. "But…"

"Rose, wait," Jack said when she started to walk across the road towards the church. "Rose, he's not the Doctor any more, he's not even your Doctor."

"Just let me try something," Rose said. "Just cover me while I do this."

"You better fucking believe I will," Jack said through gritted teeth as he followed her.

She walked up to the corner of the church. Jack stopped behind her, his hand on his webley inside his jacket pocket. Rose looked around but saw no sign of the Ninth Doctor.

"Doctor," Rose said as she looked around. "It's me, Rose. Are you there?"

Jack looked around while Rose did the same. Rose called to him again and Jack thought for a moment that the Ninth Doctor had gone. But then he saw some movement near the back of the church where it was darker and finally his eyes adjusted and he could make out a thin form hiding there.

"Rose, he's at the back of the church," Jack hissed at her.

"Doctor," Rose said, looking where he was pointing. "Doctor, what have they done to you? Please just tell us what this Ripper is and why he wants you and your other lives?"

Jack pulled the webley out of his pocket and held it at his side when he noticed the Doctor inched towards Rose.

"We have become our true form now," Nine said after stopping about halfway between her and the back of the church. "We have embraced the darkness but we are incomplete. Where are they, Rose? The other two? Where are they?"

"Doctor, let us help you," Rose pleaded. "This isn't you. This is wrong. Whoever did this to you, they deceived you."

Jack clicked the safety off when the Doctor came closer. He came into the light and Rose gasped when she saw how emaciated and ghoulish he looked. Jack cursed under his breath, figuring the Doctor was showing himself to Rose in order to gain her sympathy and lure her to him.

"We can help you," Rose said, trying not to cry at the sight of the man she loved.

"I can help them," Nine replied in a hollow voice. "They must embrace the darkness and become whole."

"No, that's not true. You're not evil, Doctor," Rose pleaded with him.

"You must help me, Rose. Help me bring him to us. The tenth version of me."

"No, I won't," Rose said.

"Then you'll be compelled to…"

"The hell she will!" Jack snarled, pointing the gun at him when he came closer to her.

Nine smirked at Jack while Jack put his other arm around Rose and held her protectively to him.

"Being the hero, Jack?" Nine said to him. "You can't save her or me or any of us. Let her go so we can end it."

"In your dreams, Doc," Jack said.

"She belongs to me," Nine said darkly. "She is my property, to do with as I please."

"Sure she is," Jack said. "Come any closer or try something and I'll make you regenerate here and now. And then you'll have the tenth Doctor because he'll be you," he taunted him.

Nine glowered at him before he turned his gaze towards Rose.

"He cannot be saved," he said to Rose. "He and the Eleventh Doctor, it's only a matter of time. Bring them to us and convince them to give up and your lives will be spared. We only want the Doctors, Rose, but if we must take you and torture you to get them to come, we will."

"And that right there, is not the Doctor I know," Jack said. "He wouldn't say that to Rose or any other person he cared about."

"Yeah, I know. That's because I was under the delusion that I was good," Nine said to them. "I was pretending to be a moral, good person when all I really am is a depraved monster."

"No," Rose said softly.

Jack glanced at her and saw her eyes misting up.

"Come on, Rose, step away from him. Let him go back to the…darkness," Jack said.

"You can't win, Rose. You can't protect them, none of them. My master will have us all, sooner or later. And if we must torture you to bring them to us, we will."

"Get out of here!" Jack snarled at him. "Touch one hair on her head and you won't have a head of your own."

Nine stared at them for a moment before chuckling softly.

"Bring them here, Rose, to this church by the time three days are up or I will come for you personally and you won't like what I'll do to you."

He stepped back towards the shadows.

"Three days…by midnight or I'm coming for you, all of you," he said to Rose before he turned and ran away into the shadows.

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