Chapter 10

Mirror Image

John woke up feeling like he'd been run over by a semi. Repeatedly. Groaning, he sat up slowly and rubbed his temples. It was morning time again and this reality took several seconds to cement, but when it did, John jerked upright and then cringed against the pounding in his head. How did he end up here? His last memory surfaced and John gulped.

He'd been injured. They were hiding from the metal-men. 11 decided to come to the rescue. The nerve!

Had there been someone else around?

Yes. That was right. Rory and Amy, his new friends, were hiding with him when it happened.

Standing quickly, John swayed on his feet and placed a hand against the wall to regain his balance. He needed to make sure they were alright. John glanced down at himself and hissed in annoyance. He was dressed, but not in something he would ever wear in public.

A wrinkled, striped dress shirt, a tweed jacket, dress pants, suspenders, and, good grief, a fracking bowtie. The pants were slightly short, the shirt a bit baggy, and, all in all, John looked absolutely ridiculous.

"Where the heck did you even get this stuff?" John muttered. His alter declined an answer and John rolled his eyes. Quickly John shed the undesirable clothing and replaced them with his typical attire, donning his trench coat out of habit more than anything. The coat was starting to grow on his affections.

Obviously, 11 had made himself quite at home while John was out. John's clothes were all over the floor, victim to 11's fashion wilms and John didn't bother to retrieve them. He could do that later. "Couldn't bother to clean up, I see," He muttered, "As usual."

No offense, John, but you have horrible taste, came 11's reply, I had to walk around in your clothes for ages before I changed.

"And you think your taste is better?" John deadpanned.

I must agree with John on this one, 11, answered another voice. Your sense of style is atrocious.

11's reply was quick and sarcastic. Says the celery man.

Oh, come off. You never know when you'll need a stick of celery.

The voice seemed to come from slightly behind John and John turned toward the sound only to stiffen in shock. Slowly, he crept forward. There, in a mirror above his small sink, stood a man a few years older than John. His dusty hair was brushed to the left. He had cerulean, thoughtful eyes, and he wore a cricket uniform embellished with a stick of celery. He grinned at John for a moment and gave John a mischievous little wave before flickering out of sight. Finding himself looking into his own brown eyes, John blinked rapidly and slid away from the mirror.

That was weird.

"How did you do that?" John asked the empty air. He'd forgotten his urgency to leave in his surprise.

5, for that was who the celery man was, sent John the mental equivalent of a shrug before melting away into John's subconscious.

Frowning, John shook away the odd event and pulled on his shoes. He needed to find Rory and figure out how much time had passed since he'd changed. And what had happened to all those metal men? Hastily, John stumbled across his dorm and pulled open the door. The hallways were bustling, as they usually were, but John was too focused on his task to notice the shivering grey worry that clouded around each and every individual like mist.

Racing down the hall, John burst into Rory's dorm room without bothering to knock and skidded to a stop within. The walls of Rory's bedroom were crimson and light brown and a fur rug lay on the hardwood floor. Rory lay upside down in a tan hammock, reading an old comic book and he jumped in surprize when John burst in. Falling out of the hammock, Rory stumbled to his feet and slapped the comic book hastily on a bedside table. "John!" he cried, a grin appearing on his face. Quickly he raced forward and threw his hands over John's shoulders. "You're back!"

John blinked, relieved but slightly confused. He had just realized that he had no idea how he knew that this was Rory's dorm. Odd. "How'd you know it's me?" he asked slowly.

Now Rory looked confused. He frowned for a moment but then slowly something appeared to dawn on him. "Oh… right. He said you don't know."

He. That must be his alter, 11. "Don't know what?"

Rory's eyes left John's and he shifted awkwardly. "Right, well, John. All that crap about you not having special abilities… well, it's just that. Crap."

"What the heck is that supposed to mean?"

Now Rory's green eyes met John's brown and he gave him a lopsided smile. "You look different when you're them."


John let out a confused little snort and took a step away. "What do you mean? That's- that's not possible"

"That's what I said." Rory replied with exaggerated patience. "But it doesn't change the facts. Matthew looks nothing like you. At all. It's like you're two different people."

John held up a hand quickly to stop Rory from speaking. "Wait- Matthew?"

"Your alter," Rory clarified, "We kinda didn't mention that you and him are the same person when we ran into some other kids.." Rory paused and frowned. "That's… alright, right?"

Numbly, John nodded. Actually, he was super relieved that they had done so. They gave him a name. Brilliant. And then to 11, You failed to mention this development.

It wasn't relevant, dollophead.

John rolled his eyes. What the heck is a dollophead?

Two words: John Smith

Too busy arguing with himself, John failed to reply and Rory kept right on talking.

"Not to mention, you also sent out this massive, totally epic, may I add, shockwave of energy or something! It freaked out all the Cybermen and they ran off!"

Very slowly, John fell back another step so that he was leaning against the door. This was ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous. He clenched his fist and slowly released it. "Cybermen?" he croaked.

"That's what Matthew called them. Totally weirded Vastra and Rose out. Apparently its some sort of secret or something." Finally, Rory seemed to notice John's pale face. His brow creased in concern. "You alright, John?"

John felt quite like throwing up, but he nodded. "Yeah… It's just a lot to take in at once, s'all."

"Yeah. Sorry. You kinda have to," Rory said quickly, "Vastra wants to meet with you as soon as possible. School was canceled today because most of the teachers are helping repair any damage that the Cybermen caused yesterday, so you don't have any classes."

"Anything else I missed? John asked, chuckling humorlessly. He had expected to have missed a lot, but not this much! And to learn that his alters had physical appearances? It took a massive amount of mental effort to cram the information into the back of his mind so that he could continue to function.

Rory shook his head. "That's about it."

"Right, um…" John quickly ran a hand through his hair worriedly before opening Rory's door. "You wanna come with?"

Nodding vigorously, Rory, quickly snatched a jacket off the wall and followed John. "I haven't got anything better to do."

"Good. I still don't know how to find the front door from here," John admitted, glad to speak about something besides his ridiculous life.

Snickering, Rory entered the hallway behind John and they quickly made their way outside. Vastra would probably be there, Rory figured.

After a moment, John glanced at Rory. "Thanks for, um, not telling everyone who 11 is." It was embarrassing enough that Rory and Amy knew.

"Yeah… I hoped you'd agree. Matthew really seemed to want it."

That stilled John's thoughts. Matthew. Matthew didn't want to be associated with John just as much as John didn't want to be associated with him. The realization was startling. John never thought of him as a person, not that he meant to be rude, but to be fair, he had considered 11 to be a figment of his imagination. Up until now, that is. Even after all he had seen, John was still reluctant to believe that he might not be insane.

11 had always been just that, 11. But the name Matthew was strangely fitting. He actually liked it, but squashed the emotion before 11 could get a whiff. He'd gloat for hours.

They reached the front door shortly and John gave Strax, the portly butler a sharp nod. It was returned instantly. "Ma'am!" Strax barked, snapping a salute.

Caught off guard, John glanced at Rory. Never mind that he'd been addressed at a 'ma'am', why had he been addressed at all? Rory shrugged and they moved on.

They padded down the white stairs, skipping past students that studied and socialized on the steps. Not far, amid the rubble of a taped off section the collapsing wall on the left wing, Vastra and several of the Elect inspected the damage. They were too far away for John to hear their voices, but given the purplish-grey mist surrounding them, John knew that they were worried. Maybe just a bit afraid.

"This doesn't happen, being attacked in the school, does it?" It was worded like a question, but he spoke it as a statement.

Rory shook his head, somber. "It's freaking everyone out," he murmured and they walked through the grass toward the rubble.

"I can see that." Now that he took the time, nearly everyone had at least a tinge of grey mist around them.

Rory gave him an odd look but didn't ask for an explanation. "We've been attacked before, but no one has ever gotten through the shields… The funny thing is, I work in Mechanics sometimes and there is no way anything like those Cybermen could have gotten through unless…"

"Unless what?" John's interest peaked.

Rory let out a breath of air from between his teeth. "I'm not an expert, but I know the basics about the shield. It's actually a machine that vibrates the air molecules so fast that no one can see or hear or touch what's beyond it. The atoms block the way, but your mind doesn't know what to do about it and invents whatever it wants to see beyond the shield."

John nodded slowly, realization hitting him. "That's why I thought the courtyard was empty before I came through the gate."

"Yeah. You expected it to be empty, so it was."

"What does that have to do with the Cybermen?"

"Well," Rory replied, "the molecules move at a certain frequency that blocks out anyone Vastra hasn't cleared for entrance. So unless someone gave them the frequency key, there's no way they could have gotten inside…"

John blinked. "Are you suggesting-?"

"-a traitor? Yeah."

By this time they reached the damaged west wing and both boys dropped the conversation. They would have to pick up that somber line of thought at another time. Seeing them, Vastra gave then a short wave before moving smoothly through the demolished glass and stone and ducking underneath the caution tape. She smiled gently at John and nodded at Rory. "Rory. John. Wonderful to see you as yourself once more."

She knows, 11 offered belatedly. She knows I'm you.

You couldn't have offered that info like, five minutes ago?

Vastra gave Rory a pointed look and rolling his eyes, Rory backed away.

"I'll catch with you later, John." he said, walking back toward the school.

John's insides churned. He really didn't want to be alone with this woman. He trusted her, but she was an intimidating presence and the last time he spoke her, she insisted upon developing his abilities, not terminating them.

Although, now that he realized that Matthew was to some extent, a real person, John was reluctant to go down that route. He gave Vastra a tight smile and nodded. "Rory said you want to talk to me?"

Vastra answered with a nod, her green skales glinting in the autumn sun. "I know this is a bit unprecedented, but after seeing what you can do, or at least, have to potential to do, I think you will be an asset that just might win us this war. Given our recent problems and the war growing larger by the minute, there is no time to wait and develop your abilities."

John was shocked into silence. What abilities was she referring to exactly? Where was she going with this?

"I need you to join the Elite"

AN: Sorry it's been forever! I hope you liked this chapter even though not much happened! Get ready for a wild ride. We're finally getting somewhere now! Please leave a review!