It's been a while, hasn't it? Well, the completion of this story is down to a few people – Jillie Chan especially – who have been prodding me into finishing. Thanks guys!
None of the moved from the doorway. One did not willingly walk towards a homicidal villain who was twisted enough to make you compete in sick games. He was still smiling, making him look disturbing rather than welcoming.
The room was white, plain and simple. The only furniture in it was a table and two chairs – there was no clue as to what was going on here. The only break in the white of the room, aside from those in the room, was the familiar and welcoming sight of the blue box at the heart of all this trouble. The TARDIS stood a little way behind the Toymaker, seemingly serene and untouched.
"Well, Doctor?" the Celestial Toymaker said quietly, his dark eyes burning into the Doctors'. "Will you play?"
"What are we playing?" Jack asked, sounding more confident than he actually felt.
"Oh, I'm sorry Captain," said the Toymaker in mock apology. "It's a two player game, so only the Doctor and myself will take part."
The Doctor shifted slightly next to Rose. "What game?"
"Oh, it's fantastic, a favourite of mine!" The Toymaker rubbed his hands together eagerly at the thought. "Do you know 'I Am Defeat', Doctor?"
Rose and Jack both looked to the Doctor as he narrowed his eyes slightly in thought. "I think I may."
Rose looked at Jack, who pulled a face and shrugged. He didn't know, and neither did she. Flicking a glance back to the Toymaker, who was still smiling his twisted smile while standing by the table, she asked the Doctor softly what the game entailed.
"It's a logic and word association game," the Doctor answered, his eyes not leaving the Toymaker. "One player says something – a thing, or whatever – and the other has to say something which defeats it. Then the first player has to say something which defeats that. Like, if I said fire, you could say water."
"It's up to the players to keep it out of the monotonous realm of opposites. You bring in theories, ideas, philosophies – almost anything, my dear Rose – to try and trap your opponent," said the Toymaker casually. "The game continues until one player cannot defeat the other."
The Doctor nodded. "And you can't repeat things that have already been said."
"Indeed not, Doctor. Sit."
It was a command rather than a request. The Doctor slowly made his way to the table and took the seat opposite his opponents, who folded his fingers together and leaned forward to look the Doctor directly in the eye. "Let's begin."
"Rose, Jack – go to the TARDIS. Stay inside it, you'll be safe there."
"Now." His voice held the edge of steel he rarely used. "If his world collapses, then she'll keep you safe."
"A touching sentiment," the Toymaker sighed, bored. "Can we begin now? As this is my game, I will start. I am the Time War."
From her position in the TARDIS doorway, Rose saw the Doctor flinch. It was just like the Toymaker to begin with such a low blow. She could see horrible memories reflected in the Doctor's eyes, but he pushed it aside and retuned his focus to the current task. After a pause, he quietly replied.
"I am peace."
The Toymaker rolled his eyes. "How predicable. But peace didn't bring back Gallifrey, did it?" He laughed at the Doctor's evident discomfort. "I am chaos."
The Doctor was silent for a moment, thinking carefully. "I am control."
The Toymaker quirked an eyebrow. "Control? I suppose. But you're making this too easy, Doctor. For what opposes control, and overcomes it easily? I am freedom."
Now the Doctor did scowl, but Rose could see private amusement deep in his eyes. What was he thinking?
"I am the Celestial Toymaker."
Rose grinned despite herself, exchanging a glace with Jack. It was a clever answer; yet one that the Celestial Toymaker did not seem to appreciate. He was no longer smiling now, but wasn't scowling either. He wore an unreadable, emotionless expression on his face, calmly staring at his opponent.
"Clever, Doctor. But I will not slip up over some clumsy, low blow. You underestimate me. So listen carefully when I say this," he leaned forward and spoke in a hissing whisper Rose and Jack only just heard. "I am no one."
The Doctor didn't blink at the veiled threat, but sat silent, thinking. His gaze flicked up over the Toymaker to the two figures in the doorway of the TARDIS, and a shadow of a smile crossed his face.
"I am a companion."
He winked swiftly at Rose and returned his gaze to the Toymaker, who was pulling a disgusted face. "Oh, how sentimental. Companionship does defeat isolation, I do not doubt that. But you can only be thinking about yourself, and how your companions have broken your solitude. Touching. But I am death."
He leant back, pleased with his own answer. The Doctor looked momentarily troubled, before looking directly at Jack and grinning. "I am Jack."
Jack laughed. "Nah, you're never going to be like me."
"Didn't say I was," the Doctor replied with manic happiness, a mood that Rose recognised from when the Doctor had successfully tinkered with something or had been beneath the TARDIS console for a while. "I said I was you. Different, see?"
"Can we return our focus to the current happenings?" The Celestial Toymaker said, barely controlling his anger. "You do not seem to be taking this seriously, Doctor. A shame – for when you die, you will realise your mistake. But for its stupid appearance, your answer does stand." He turned and stared coldly at Jack. "You cannot die, am I correct? I saw your remarkable recoveries as you made your way through my world."
Jack shrugged, grinning casually at the homicidal maniac. "Oh, yeah. Immortal; that's me."
"Impressive. How will your immortality stand up here, though, when the great Doctor looses? I am sure I can find a way to keep you dead." There was something disturbing in his eyes, and Rose shuddered as he turned away.
"Now, back to business." He took another look at Jack, looking him up and down and scrutinising him closely. "I am a supermodel."
"Hey!" Jack yelled indignantly. "I resent that."
"You have no input in this game, therefore your resentment is not important nor noticed," the Toymaker said in a bored tone of voice; ignoring him.
"He does have a point, Jack," said the Doctor. "But so do I. I am vanity."
"Ah, vanity. A supermodel's failing…provided one is using generalisations, of course. Very well. I am failure."
"Failure?" The Doctor was caught off-guard. "Well, yeah, I suppose. I suppose failure can get rid of vanity…but failure is easy to defeat. I am determination."
"Oh, are you? I am despair, then."
It felt strange to Rose, standing in the TARDIS doorway and watching this strange game going on before her, unable to help or take part. This game seemed to be more beneath the surface – a player had to be careful with what they said, for a wrong answer could create and easy opening for their opponent to trap them and win. It seemed easy on the surface – but in truth, this game was tricky and hard. It was very much a game of intellect.
Privately, Rose was glad it wasn't her playing.
She came out of her thoughts and focussed again on the table, where the Doctor was considering his next answer.
"I am hope."
Rose nodded to herself. A good answer, one which even she was sure the Toymaker would struggle to oppose. But he was shrugging, uncaring.
"I am loss."
Loss overcoming hope? True, in some cases. Loss could break hope. So what was the Doctor going to respond?
He was silent, looking calmly at his opponent. "I am time."
The Toymaker laughed, the sound echoing in the small room. "Time? Time! How appropriate. But I am the Time Lords."
The Doctor flinched like he'd been slapped. Silently, his gaze moved past the Toymaker to Rose. He stood.
The Toymaker laughed. "You have defeated yourself, Doctor! You have no answer; I can see it in your face. So I win, and you are mine – all three of you, and your machine."
The Doctor moved around to the TARDIS and put his arms around Rose. She could feel him sigh as he held her close, like he'd never let go. "Go inside."
"Go inside, both of you." He drew out of her embrace. "Do it."
As he turned back to the Toymaker, Rose and Jack moved further back inside the TARDIS. The Toymaker rolled his eyes at them. "Your ship is mine, by the rules of my world. Even if you hide inside it, you will not stay safe for long."
But the Doctor stepped back so he was in the doorway, facing the Toymaker. His face was lined with grief, and his eyes were hard. Something in them made the smile fade from the Toymaker's face. Something was wrong…then the Doctor spoke, quietly, calmly.
"I am the Doctor."
Quickly, he took one more step back and closed the door. An angered shriek sounded through he door, followed by a sound like something ripping, then…silence.
He looked up from where he had been leaning against the door. "I did defeat them," he said in the same quiet tone he had answered in. "Technically."
Rose frowned and reached out to him, pulling him towards the familiar light of the console. Jack was leaning against one of the railings. "You ok, Doc?"
"Yeah, yeah. Fine. No one's defeated me yet; he didn't have any answer."
"Yeah, I know," said Rose, resting a hand on his shoulder comfortingly and kissing his cheek lightly. "I know."
Still preoccupied, the Doctor reached out and sent the TARDIS back into the vortex.
He was the defeater of the Time Lords, his own people. But he was also the Oncoming Storm, and the defeater of the Celestial Toymaker. Again.
He was also a protector and a helper of anyone in need.
But overall, he was his final answer.
He was the Doctor.
So, uh, yeah – finally done! Sorry if the last game wasn't as action-packed as some were hoping – I like subtlety and deep stuff, and thought it worked for this. It's also not a quick end solution or anything: this game's been in the works as the last one from the beginning; the progression of it written in the back of a diary of mine.
Cheers to everyone who's reviewed over the course of this story, and all the support it's been given – it was humbling how widely this story was accepted and liked.