Chapter Thirty Three

Ten checked his watch. It'd been nearly a half hour since they began waiting and still no sign of anyone. By now they were all sitting on the steps of Christ Church, cooled by the shadow cast by the church while the day began to heat up. A few street children chased each other around the road in front of them while carriage drivers tried to avoid them and shouted at them to get out of the bloody way. One of the children, a young girl of about four years old ran over to Ten and smiled shyly at him. Ten returned the smile and winked as he put a few pennies into her open palm. The girl gasped and Rose chuckled when she threw her arms around him in gratitude before rejoining her friends. She showed them the pennies and pointed to the Tenth Doctor. Immediately, there was a small group around him, begging for more. Ten obliged them with three shillings and the children thanked him profusely before running off to spend it.

Ten glanced at his counterpart after the children left. Nine was staring at the Ten Bells, lost in a contemplative silence. He felt Ten staring at him and turned his gaze towards him.

"What?" he said.

"Why did you do it?" he said to Nine.

"Do what?"

"Kill Jackie and Mickey?"

Nine didn't answer, turning his attention back to the Ten Bells.

"Because I wouldn't," Ten said.

"Well, good for you, nice to know you're perfect," Nine spat at him.

"Why did you let the Ripper control you like that? Yes, Jackie and Mickey are annoying but I wouldn't kill them."

"You weren't there so you have no idea what was going through my head, alright?" Nine growled at him. "You have no idea how strong the Ripper's voice was."

"Um…on the contrary," Ten said, reaching into his shirt and pulling out his damper. "I was being tormented as well. My TARDIS saved me by going across the void and I found Rose and my clone there. If she hadn't done that for me, I might have succumbed."

"Then why are you judging me?" Nine said in disbelief. "If you nearly succumbed, why are you casting judgment on me?"

"I'm sorry," Ten said. "I just find it hard to believe that you would kill someone close to Rose in cold blood."

"I had to do something so Rose could get away," Nine said bitterly. "I wasn't alone that night. The Ripper was watching me along with the other Doctors, if I hadn't killed someone he would have made me track down Rose or Jack and kill them. I did it to save their lives. I'm not proud of it, alright? I'm sorry, Rose, I really am," he said, turning his eyes to her, searching for any sign of forgiveness from her.

Rose nodded, not really ready to forgive him at this point but because she wanted them to get past all this and focus on the problem at hand. She had seen how haggard Ten looked when he came to them and she knew he had been ready to crack so there was really no need for him to judge his younger self for his crimes. She glanced at Donna, who was sitting beside her. She hadn't said a word and was staring straight ahead but she could tell she was taking in every word. She wondered what it'd been like to grow up in the hellish alternate London and for once, she thanked God that the Doctor had taken her over the void where she'd been separated from that.

"Here they are."

Rose looked over at Nine when she heard him speak. She saw several robed figures moving towards them and she knew it was some of the other Doctors. She and everyone else stood up and Nine and Ten moved in front of the women in order to protect them.

"There's no need to harm us, we'll come quietly," Ten said to them as they slowly surrounded them.

Rose looked at the robed figures and she and Donna drew nearer to the Tenth Doctor as the coven surrounded them. Ten glanced at his lover and best friend and put his arms around them while Nine glowered at his fellow Doctors, ready to defend Rose if need be.

"You will come with us."

Ten frowned when he heard the Fourth Doctor's voice coming from a robed figure off to his right. The voice was hollow and emotionless and Ten shuddered, wondering who he had to kill in order to turn. It wasn't Sarah Jane so was it Leela, Romana, Adric? Any one of them could have turned him but he imagined Romana would be the trigger since she and Sarah were closest to his hearts at that time.

"Just follow them and don't do anything to anger them," Nine said to Ten.

Ten nodded. They followed the coven around the church. Across the road, behind the church was a TARDIS but it wasn't like any TARDIS Ten had seen before. It was still in the shape of a police box but instead of the familiar blue, the exterior was jet black. Ten grimaced at that, thinking that even his beloved TARDIS must have been corrupted by the evil of the Ripper. However, he couldn't think about that now. He reached into his trouser pocket and discretely brought out a small black disc with a little black button on the front of it. When they reached the TARDIS, the coven opened it but Ten lingered a moment, waiting till the coven had entered. One of the coven waited at the open door for their captives to enter. Nine put his arm around Rose and they went in first, followed by Donna. Ten pretended to lovingly pat his ship's door but in reality, he was affixing the disc to the door. He walked in and to his relief, the last coven member shut the doors from the inside, missing the disc entirely. Certain, the disc was in place, he allowed himself to be escorted with the others past the console room. They were led to the Cloister Room and when they went down the steps, Rose pointed to the pentagram on the floor.

"It's like the scene you described in your vision," she said to Ten.

"Vision?" Nine said to him.

"I was shown a vision of this room and the pentagram and the robed Doctors while I was being tormented," Ten told him.

Nine nodded and they walked the rest of the way down. When they reached the pentagram, Ten, Rose and Donna were herded into the center and Nine was compelled to stand with the rest of the coven on the outskirts. He was the only one without a robe on so he was able to watch Rose and know that she might be comforted by his presence. When the coven was in their places, the wraiths appeared, snaking down the steps, long whisps of black smoke that glided around the outskirts of the coven. Ten put his arms around Rose and Donna and whispered to them to be brave while they looked at the howling and shrieking wraiths.

Then another robed man came down the steps and Ten snorted, thinking of how the Master had descended the steps in a similar manner centuries ago, dressed in a black robe and thinking himself invincible. He wondered what was it with evil people and robes as a fashion statement.

The wraiths stopped spinning around the coven and instead coalesced behind the Doctors in a huge black cloud. Their howls ceased as the man stepped to the head of the coven. He pulled down his robe and the Doctor recognized the man he'd seen many years before who tried to convict him in a Time Lord courtroom. He didn't look any different from that time and was even wearing the same black skullcap. He even had the same look of smug contempt on his face while he looked over his captives.

"So, you realize the futility of trying to hide from me, Doctor," the Ripper said as he stepped inside the pentagram.

"No, I want to talk to you," Ten said.

The smirk widened.

"So you can delay your conversion?" he said.

"No, I want to know how you did it," Ten said.

"Did what? Led your fellow Doctors to the path of evil? I did nothing much, only fed the flames of anger and darkness that had been inside them all along."

Ten glanced at Rose and Donna before putting his arms to his sides.

"And you think killing Rose is going to drive me over the edge and put me in your thrall?" he said as he put his hands in his trouser pockets and sauntered forward.

"Rose means more to you than life itself."

"Yes, she is one of the people nearest and dearest to my heart. But you see, I lost her once already," Ten said. "You're me, surely you remember that day at Canary Wharf. How Rose was lost to me?"

"Of course," Ripper said, nodding.

"Mm-hmm, and I seem to recall going through a period of intense grieving and longing for her but oddly enough, I didn't become a psychopathic serial killing monster. I met Martha and continued with business as usual. I survived that horrible day and indeed, I just sent her back to that same universe with my clone, sacrificing my happiness for hers and, AND…" he said, holding his finger up in the air. "I just took away the memories of my best friend on top of that," as he used the finger to point to Donna. "Which was also extremely traumatic and yet, here I am, still little ol' me," he said, throwing his arms wide."

He smiled tenderly at Donna as he walked to her side.

"Because of your meddling, she never met me until now," he said, putting his hand on Donna's shoulder. "So in for all intents and purposes, she still has no memory of me, the only difference is at the moment there's no danger of her dying since she never become the DoctorDonna. But the point still stands, I still have a best friend standing here who has no real idea who I am. Does that hurt? Yes. Does it make me want to kill someone? No. And I'll tell you why," he said, holding up his finger as he walked to Rose. "Because the first point is…I know I made the right decision leaving Rose with my clone, John. Because they are happy and that was what I wanted for her. Point two…I have met Amy, Rory and River, companions of my future self and I realize that my life will go on and I will meet new friends and have new adventures with them. It gives me something to live for and that's why I've gone on and never succumbed to the darkness. Because just when I thought there was nothing worth living for, a new friend comes along and I find a renewed sense of purpose. He…" Ten said, pointing to Nine, "found that sense of purpose in Rose which is why he couldn't bring himself to slaughter her the night you sent him out."

He walked towards the Ripper.

"Now…could you force me to kill these two women. Probably. You could seize my mind and torment me until I was a slobbering, sadistic wreck of a man that would kill both women with no thought at all. However, I'd advise against that. You think killing Rose will weaken and destroy me. It won't. Killing her would fill me with rage alright but not towards the universe. It would fill me with rage towards you. Because as I once told a carrionite lady, Rose's name keeps me fighting. If anything happens to either one of them, you better start running because I will hunt you down and destroy you without any mercy and I have a feeling my ninth self would join in. I don't know how you managed to talk my other selves into killing the people they loved but I know one thing for sure. You're afraid."

"Of what?" Ripper sneered.

"Of us, Ten said gleefully. "This is pentagram we're standing in. Despite the association it has with Satanism, the pentagram is traditionally used as a symbol of protection. I notice that you're standing inside it with me while the Doctors and those clouds of evil are all outside it. Did you do something to prevent all the baddies from getting inside here with us? Or are they not allowed in here without your consent? Because I find it interesting that you used a pentagram, especially since I don't believe in magic."

He smirked this time when Ripper glowered at him.

"You think you're so clever, Doctor," Ripper snarled at him.

"I know I'm so clever," Ten said smugly, "and I'm also right. You fear us just as much as we fear you. Because we're all the same, aren't we? You can harness our darkness and use it against others but that darkness could just as easily turn against you so you have to find a way to keep your dogs neutered and tame, eh?" he said, pointing to the coven. "He slipped from your control," he said, pointing to Nine. "What happens when the others do the same? What happens when twelve pissed off Doctors turn against you and you end up shredded like Jack the Ripper's victims. You hold sway in here but only just. Kill Rose and there'll be at least four of us in here who will attack you in return. I know my twelve and thirteen selves are here somewhere," he said loudly as he looked at the coven. "I know it's been centuries since you saw Rose but you still care for her, don't you? If she dies…what will you do?"

"They are under my thrall, Doctor," Ripper said.

"Are they?" Ten said, turning his attention to him. "Are they really? Or are you just telling yourself that because you're afraid of the real answer? Myself and my fellow Doctors might be able to succumb to you for awhile but I've always been good at snapping out of it."

He smirked and walked closer to the Ripper.

"How long till they "snap out of it?" he said in a hushed voice as the Ripper glanced around the room. "Because I have a feeling it's not gonna be long before they wake up and then…Valeyard, we're coming after you….all of us."

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