Chapter Twenty Three

What am I doing? I just let her go. Why?

The Ninth Doctor stopped the same moment he paused in his train of thought. The rain was picking up again but he ignore the raindrops sliding down his emaciated, pale face while he let his train of thought continue in his mind. He had them both, her and Jack. Granted, Jack had a gun but he could have taken care of that easily. The master never commanded him to give them an ultimatum, he did that on his own. But why?

He knew why. It's because he still cared for her. It's why he let her go that day, along wtih Jack. He killed Jackie and Mickey and let the two people he cared about the most get away. And he was still doing it. He knew his master would be furious if he found out but even though he surrendered to the dark, he just couldn't bring himself to harm her. He knew if she and Jack were here, the Doctors were somewhere as well. Deep within the recesses of his mind, he hoped that both of them would find a way to stop the Ripper and end all of this. He didn't know if any of his fellow Doctors were still cognizant enough to know that they were being used as demonic puppets. They were all separated until the Ripper needed them. He hoped that somehow a spark of goodness survived in all of them. He knew that at some point he would have to go back to his master and give a report but for the moment, he decided to follow Rose and keep watch over her.


Sarah Jane, Donna and River were milling around with Annie just inside the entrance of the Ten Bells, waiting for Jack and Rose to return. The rain picked up again and they were trying to stay dry as much as possible before leaving. When Rose and John finally entered, Rose's friends were shocked to see them. Both of them were slightly wet but Rose had a distraught expression on her face and Jack was furious.

"What's wrong?" Sarah Jane said.

Jack explained what happened. Rose friends gathered around her and comforted her but Annie was a bit perplexed.

"So 'o is this Doctor bloke then?" she said to Jack.

"Old…enemy now," Jack said darkly. "Someone who wants us dead."

"Oh, I knows how that is, lovey," she said. "I've 'ad lots of men what wants me dead."

"Which is why we need to find somewhere to stay the night," Jack said to her.

"Got just the place for ya, lovey. Not far from 'ere and only costs a few pence a night."

"Good," Jack said.

"We 'as to check the church though, if you wants Polly to come with us," Annie said, pointing to Christ Church.

Jack nodded. He glanced outside but now there was no sign of the Doctor. Rose's friends stayed around her and kept watch with her while Annie led the group over the road to the church. By now, the rain was coming down steadily and there we no more women going into the church. Annie led them up the steps to the front door and knocked on it. It was opened by a young vicar, barely in his twenties, who sighed when his eyes swept over them.

"We've not much room left," he said.

"We has lodgings," Annie said. "I'm looking for a friend. Polly Nichols."

"I don't know the women's names. But you're welcome to come in and check if she's here."

The vicar stepped aside and they entered the darkened church. Rose was shocked when she saw the pews. The women were sleeping sitting straight up in them with a heavy rope tied from one end of the pew to the other, keeping them from falling over. Some of them were leaning heavily against the ropes while they slept and several were snoring loudly. The vicar followed them as Annie slowly walked by each pew, checking for any sign of Polly. When she got to the last row, she took one last look before shaking her head.

"She's not 'ere," she said.

"Sorry about that," the vicar said. "You're welcome to stay, of course, but if you're not going to, I'm afraid I'll have to ask you to leave."

"Yeah, yeah, we're goin'," Annie said testily as she turned.

Everyone followed her back outside and the vicar shut the door behind them.

"She's probably out workin' the streets then," Annie said to them when they reached the pavement.

"Okay, show us where this lodging house is and you can go look for her if you want," Jack said. "That way you'll know where we're staying."

"Might be a bit late comin' in, I need to do a bit of work meself," Annie said.

Jack nodded.


She led them to a lodging house three streets west of the pub. After paying the landlord for two rooms next to each other, Annie went off in search of Polly while the others went inside. The rooms were sparsely furnished with one big bed, a table and chair and a fireplace. Jack helped them start a fire to warm the room and helped them put a sheet up over the lone window in the room, to give them privacy. He decided to stay with Rose and Sarah Jane while River and Donna roomed together with Annie and Polly, if they ever decided to come back. After bidding them goodnight and instructing them to bang on the wall if they needed help, Jack went into the room next door to theirs. After starting a fire and putting a sheet up over the window, Jack told Rose and Sarah Jane to use the bed while he slept on the floor. He sat down on the floor by the fireplace and made a face at the amount of dust and filth on the floor. He also swore he could hear a mouse squeak somewhere under the bed. Sarah Jane sat down on the bed and warmed herself but Rose walked over to the window and moved the sheet aside slightly while she peered out into the rainy night.

"I doubt he's here," Jack said, guessing what Rose was trying to find. "He probably ran off after delivering his ultimatum."

"Jack, he let us go," Rose said, looking at him. "He could have killed us but he let us go and let us have three days on top of it."

"So…he's probably giving his boss time to set up a trap," Jack said. "He tried to kill us…well, kill me and your alternate universe self, but the point still stands. You saw him. He's not in his right mind anymore."

"But he's the Doctor," Rose said, moving away from the window towards the bed. "He could have disarmed you easily but he just stood there and did nothing."

"Rose, I swear to God if you try to go find him, I'll shoot you in the legs," Jack said. "Don't you dare get yourself caught because you think the Doctor will listen to you and never harm you. I watched him grab your mother around the neck and break her neck and he'll do the same to you if you give him a chance. He didn't attack because he was trying to lure us to him. I don't trust him, not after seeing what he did before. And I was told to protect all of you and I will, even if it means incapacitating you and keeping you in here. Is that understood?"

Rose nodded and Sarah Jane put her arm around her when she sat down beside her on the bed.


The Ninth Doctor stood in the shadows of a building over the road from the boarding house. He kept his distance while he watched. He watched Annie when she left. He knew who she was and he guessed what they were trying to do. He thought it a fool's errand since his master could kill them at any moment if he wanted to but for the moment, the Ripper's original victims weren't the true prey. He had no idea where his other selves were, he couldn't sense them or the TARDIS any longer so something was done to hide them and the time ship but he figured if he kept his vigil and followed Rose, sooner or later he would learn where the Doctors and TARDIS were at. The only thing that bothered him was whether or not he should tell his master or continue to risk death by defying him. For the moment though, he could see that Rose was safe from the rain and the seedier characters of Whitechapel and he was content to keep watch over her for the rest of the night.

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