Author's Note: I decided that the last two chapters were really too small, so I combined them. Remember that while I think that the DAROTE is a clever little trick, I fail at plots so the only thing I did with it was to get 9 and 10 to meet. If you ever want to use it, PM me so I can delve into the device in greater detail. I'd love to read whatever you come up with.
Again, I'm sorry about not having a completed story, but I'm not going to finish it because, well, there's no way to salvage it without starting over completely. But, it's great for muse-appeasement, right?
He closed the door behind him. He didn't know why; it wasn't like Rose would just disappear from the TARDIS if he distanced himself. He leaned his head against the door and panted.
"What's wrong?" the short-haired Doctor asked, still sitting by Martha.
"It's... Rose," his counterpart replied, opening his eyes.
He nodded. "Must have sneaked on while we were back here."
"Fantastic. What did you tell her?"
"I..." He had spaced out, that's what he did. He had seen her face, and his brain had literally stopped working.
The Doctor in the leather jacket raised his gaze from Martha, resting it on his future self. What he saw scared him a little, deep inside. His future regeneration's eyes were filled with sadness, almost remorse. There was something in his overall body language that looked dejected.
He rose from his prolonged crouch, walking over to the door. "I'll talk to her," he said, a little softer than he was going for.
She was at the other end of the hallway, stopped, confused. "Doctor?" she called.
"Rose," the Doctor answered, walking up to her. "What are you doing here?"
"I just wanted to talk," she replied, a little halfheartedly. "Who was that?"
"He's... my friend. He needed my help with something."
"He knows how to fly the TARDIS?" Her eyebrows were raised.
"I've... known him a long time."
She nodded. She looked like she didn't believe him.
"So, where are we going?" she asked, conversationally.
"A space station on the other side of the galaxy."
Though she was trying to be critical, Rose was impressed. "When?"
His mouth opened, then closed. "You know, I'm not sure."
The TARDIS shook suddenly from the intensity of landing.
The Doctor's 'friend' emerged from the room, passing by Rose quickly on his way out of the TARDIS. The Doctor took Rose's shoulders and looked straight into her eyes.
"Don't leave the TARDIS," he said, putting as much meaning into it as he could. Hopefully she would realize he actually meant it. He left the TARDIS, following his friend.
The Doctor in the dark leather jacket marveled at the machine before him.
"This is... How did you come across it?"
"The TARDIS locked onto its security signal. It sounded Gallifreyan so I naturally couldn't ignore it."
"Naturally. What did you say, about the volume of the temporal displacement energy field? It's rising?"
The Doctors turned around to see Rose standing in the doorway. The latter regeneration turned back around to push more buttons of the machine.
"Rose, I told you to stay on the TARDIS," the shaven Doctor stated, looking his companion in the eye fiercely.
"I just wanted to see what you guys were up to. How come he knows what that is?" she asked, pointing at it.
"It's not safe," he continued, avoiding her question. "Go back to the TARDIS and stay there."
"Look, I'm not gonna be any trouble. Just let me watch. Wasn't this the whole point of time-traveling, to see history happening right in front of us?"
He hesitated, having been hit in the face by his own words. "Fine. You can stay. But don't touch anything," he added sternly. "I have to get something from the TARDIS." He glanced at the other Doctor, who was completely absorbed in the levers and dials of the DAROTE, before leaving.
"So... What is that?"
"It's a DAROTE," he said, a little too quickly. "Displacement And Removal Of Temporal Energy."
"What is it with Time Lords and acronyms?" Rose muttered.
There was a long silence. Rose crossed her arms, waiting impatiently for the Doctor's friend to start up a conversation. She gave in.
"Who are you?" she asked.
He hesitated. "John."
"No," he said quickly, "Just John."
She looked skeptical. "What planet are you from?"
He hesitated again. "Earth. Why? You from Mars?" His words were said so fast that they were blending together. His voice seemed higher than normal.
"No, I'm from Earth."
There was another pause.
"How do you know the Doctor?" She asked.
"I..." It took him a while to find words. "I used to travel with him."
She shook her head. He didn't sound believable. Why was he lying? Was he covering up for the Doctor? What was the Doctor hiding? She stepped up closer to the DAROTE.
"Why did you stop?" She reached a hand down to lean on it. He saw her out of the corner of his eye.
"Rose, NO!" he yelled, and in one fluid motion he jumped up and pulled her away from the machine. She was startled when she saw his face; it was a familiar mixture of anger, fear, and worry.
"Didn't you hear him warn you? Let me make this clear." He looked her in the eye. "DON'T TOUCH THE DAROTE."
"You know," she interjected, wondering why his expression was familiar, "I never did get to telling you my name."
He looked like he had been slapped. He took a step back, the anger gone from his face.
"I'm back," the Doctor said, walking in with a few more tools. "Did you make any progress?" He looked up at the two of them. If he hadn't been as brilliant as he was he would have thought they were frozen in time, not unlike the girl in his counterpart's TARDIS.
Then, the counterpart in question snapped out of his little world of surprise and embarrassment to walk briskly back over to the DAROTE and reply.
"Not much. I can't seem to be able to contact the internal networking to alert it to the problem."
Rose was standing there, watching "John," her expression not having changed from confusion. The Doctor walked over to her and got her attention.
"Rose, I need you to go back to the TARDIS. Down the hall, three doors to the left, four to the right, the first staircase you see, go around it and I've tucked a spare sonic screwdriver in a box on the ground. See if you can get it for me, will you?"
She looked like she was being kicked out of a private conversation. Which she was. She nodded, though she didn't want to go, and left the room.
"You do still keep it there, right?" he asked.
"Yup. Had to replace it though."
"Doctor," he said sternly. His counterpart turned around. It was strange, he noted, saying your own name and having someone else respond to it. "What happened to Rose?" he asked frankly, staring himself down.
His future self swallowed, avoiding his gaze. He turned back around to the DAROTE.
"What happened?" he asked again, slowly and with more force.
"Nothing," his regeneration replied, too quickly. His voice was weak.
"Then why are you traveling with that girl?"
"Her name is Martha."
"What happened to Rose?"
"She hasn't died, if that's what you're getting at."
"Then why do you act like she had? What did you do to her?"
"Why would I do anything to her? It isn't like I abandoned her, like Sarah Jane."
He hesitated. "What has that got to do with anything?"
"Just ran into her, popped into my head..."
"You saw Sarah Jane?"
"Yeah, it was a surprise for me too. Met her at school."
"I shouldn't tell you. Possibility of unraveling the space-time continuum and all that."
"Back to the point. You've got to stop acting like..." He hesitated. "Rose is going to notice something, if she hasn't already. It'd be too much for her if she found out."
"I know that already. I am you, if you don't remember. Besides, it isn't like I invited her."
"Just... shush and get to work on the DAROTE. Act like..."
"I miss him. Poor bloke..."
They turned simultaneously back to the DAROTE and started to translate the volume preceptor feed to the internal networking and mainframe. Or something like that.