Fandom/Pairings: Doctor Who (new series + Big Finish Audios) | Ten/Rose, Eight/Charley
Spoilers/Timeline: New series: set after Voyage of the Damned; Big Finish Audios: set after The Girl Who Never Was
Word Count: 1463 (this chapter)
Summary: The Eighth Doctor unexpectedly lands in a parallel world and a blonde unlocks his front door; the Tenth Doctor answers a distress call and finds an old friend on a deserted beach. When an old enemy brings the four of them together, can they save the universe in time to sort out their own timelines?
Notes/Disclaimer: This fic would have been impossible without the encouragement and input of my invaluable beta, unbrokensky. I own nothing, everyone belongs to the BBC and/or Big Finish.
chapter one | chapter two | chapter three | chapter four | chapter five | chapter six | chapter seven | chapter eight | chapter nine | chapter ten | chapter eleven | chapter twelve | chapter thirteen | chapter fourteen
Charley wasn’t sure how any of it was actually supposed to work, but it sounded to her like there was a lot of destruction inherent in the Rani’s plan. Breaking locks and double paradoxes – definitely not things Charley wanted any part of, she was certain of that.
“I prefer brilliant to insane,” the Rani was saying, “but to each his own.” Charley shook her head in disbelief as the Rani turned back to her TARDIS console to continue making adjustments.
Charley bit back an “oh!” of surprise when the Doctor nudged her none too gently with his shoulder, urging her to inch closer to the other Doctor and Rose. She complied, trying to tread lightly so as to make as little noise as possible. She and her Doctor reached the other Doctor and Rose in very little time, and she had just about convinced herself that the Rani hadn’t noticed when the woman called out to them over her shoulder.
“Oh, yes, did I mention? I’d prefer you didn’t move about the console room.” A beam of light shone down around them, encompassing the four of them in its glow. “Stay there, won’t you?”
Charley reached out tentatively, only to pull her hand back with a start when she felt a sharp electrical shock and ripples of energy flickered in front of them momentarily before dissipating.
“Energy cell,” the other Doctor murmured.
Rose reached out in the opposite direction from where Charley had until her hand encountered the same wall. “Doesn’t give us much wiggle room, does she?”
“As far as prison cells go, we’ve been in worse,” the other Doctor replied, a cheeky grin briefly ghosting across his face.
“That’s the truth,” Rose muttered, glancing conspiratorially at Charley. “Sure you can say the same.”
Charley smiled slightly, thinking of the endless nothing from when they’d first come to the parallel universe Zagreus had sent them to and quickly deciding that this was infinitely preferable to that. “That I can.”
Her Doctor softly cleared his throat. “You can swap prison stories once we’ve figured out how to stop the Rani.”
“Er, right,” whispered the other Doctor. He reached into an inside pocket in his suit jacket and pulled out the thick-rimmed glasses he’d put on earlier, when he’d been trying to get them out of the Vortex. Charley caught a small grin on Rose’s face as he slipped them on. After the glasses came the sonic screwdriver. “I don’t suppose you’ve got yours?”
Charley looked over at her Doctor. He’d mentioned looking for it while they were on the TARDIS. Had he found it? He began to dig through his pockets.
“Ball of string, pack of gum, sheet music for Beethoven’s fifth symphony…”
Charley raised her eyebrows. An inventory of the contents of the Doctor’s bigger-on-the-inside pockets never failed to surprise her in some way. She made a mental note to ask him why he felt the need to carry around sheet music for Beethoven’s fifth if – when – they got out of the mess in which they were currently stuck.
“Ah-ha!” he exclaimed in a triumphant whisper. “Sonic screwdriver.”
“Good,” the other Doctor said, a grim smile on his face. “She’ll have to let us out of here if she wants to use us to cause a second paradox.”
“But how can she?” Rose asked. “I mean, you’re standing here together, and earlier you hugged – your TARDIS is inside his for God’s sake – and no paradox.”
“It’s… complicated. But with the right conditions and the right equipment, which I’m sure she’s got, ‘cause I mean, look around. This place is like, state of the art, I am telling you…” He trailed off, looking at the faces of his counterpart and his companions. “I mean, evil and terrible and should never ever be used the way she’s using it under any conditions.” He scratched the back of his neck sheepishly. “But state of the art.”
Charley saw Rose roll her eyes affectionately and stifled a giggle of her own. She loved her Doctor very much and was very glad that when this was all over, she’d be able to put her foot down about being reunited with him whether the other Doctor remembered it happening or not, but there was something about this stick-thin babbling version that she liked. She could see why Rose was so attached to him, anyway.
“Anyway, as I was saying,” the other Doctor continued, “she’ll have to let us out. She’ll be expecting us to do something, and she’s made a tactical error by putting all four of us in one cell.”
“Four of us against one of her, shouldn’t be a problem,” Rose said confidently.
Charley nodded in agreement, but her Doctor shook his head. “She’ll have something up her sleeve for that.”
“But if we act quickly, we might be able to get to her before she manages to get to us. She’ll expect us to have the sonics,” he said. Then he handed his screwdriver to Rose. “But what if we don’t?”
Charley found herself holding her Doctor’s sonic, its weight unfamiliar in her hand.
“What if they have the sonics?” her Doctor said with a smile. Then the smile slid off his face. “Charley’s never used it.”
The other Doctor grabbed it from Charley’s hand and fiddled with it until he found the setting he wanted. “Don’t change the setting, don’t touch anything except this button,” he said, handing it back to her. “That’ll turn it on.”
“But Doctor,” Rose said, touching his elbow. “It’s all well and good giving us the sonics, but what exactly are we going to be sonicing?”
“The console,” Charley’s Doctor said in response before Rose’s could reply.
Rose’s Doctor nodded. “Charley, you’ll go where the Rani is standing right now, see?”
Charley nodded, committing the spot to memory.
“Aim it at the big round dial and hold until the dial starts to throw sparks, then stop. That should disable the Vortex loop so we’ll be able to get our TARDISes away.”
“Okay,” Charley said, tucking the screwdriver in her pocket. “Throwing sparks?”
“Well, yes,” the other Doctor said apologetically. “If you hold it too long, you’ll start a fire. You can stand back a little if you’d like, you don’t have to be right on top of it. As long as you’re close enough to aim it properly.”
“I wouldn’t feel too guilty about starting a fire, either,” muttered Rose mutinously, earning her a stern glare from her Doctor.
“You,” he said, “will put it on setting 4795-B and go over to the section of the console with the navigational controls – they look sort of like chrome-and-plastic versions of mine, see?”
Rose nodded, already adjusting the screwdriver to the first setting she’d need. “I see them.”
“Sonic them for about ten seconds, that should randomize them. Then switch to setting 5894-A and sonic them for another five seconds.”
“5894-A,” Rose repeated, slipping her sonic into her pocket. “And what’ll that do?”
“Hopefully, make the randomizing permanent. It’ll be harder for her to do consistent damage if she can’t control where she ends up.”
“And what will we be doing, Doctor?” Charley looked over at her Doctor and wasn’t sure whether she should be amused or insulted by the doubtful look on his face. She decided he just didn’t like there being a part of the plan where he wasn’t doing anything, not that he felt she and Rose shouldn’t be given the sonics or the accompanying tasks.
“Hopefully,” the other Doctor responded, glancing over at the Rani, who was still bent over the console, “we’ll be restraining her.”
“What do you think she’ll come at us with? To restrain us?”
“If Jack were here,” Rose said conversationally, “I bet he’d have something to say right now.”
Charley glanced at the Doctor curiously, but he seemed to be as confused as she was, although Rose’s Doctor fixed a stern glare on her. “There’s a time and a place, Rose,” he said mildly, and Rose was clearly amused by his reaction.
“Whatever it is,” he said, refocusing on Charley’s Doctor, “there’ll still be two of us and only one of her. If Charley and Rose make a run for it as soon as we go for the Rani, we should be able to buy them enough time.”
“I don’t suppose there’s a stun setting on that thing,” Charley said, gesturing to the pocket Rose had tucked the other Doctor’s sonic in. “All those thousands of settings?”
The other Doctor gave her an affronted look. “What kind of man do you think I am? Stun setting,” he muttered. “It’s a screwdriver, why would it need a stun setting?”
“Why indeed,” Charley said under her breath while Rose sent her a sympathetic look.