Dedicated to my fellow authors Lillibetm3 and ThroughanAmberFocus - because they are fantastic.

Damsel in Distress

The Doctor glowered at the deadlocked door, willing it to open up and let him out. He'd tried everything else, from the sonic screwdriver to dismantling it to running at it with his full body weight behind it. That last had been the worst, because the only result was that he'd landed several feet away from it with his full body weight on his skinny bum.

He'd already checked the floor and the ceiling, and they were both made entirely of an unfamiliar variety of stone, impervious to the screwdriver, and not even subject to being resonated like so much concrete. He'd also checked the windows, but a split second glance had revealed them to be a complete lost cause. Assuming even his skinny arse could have wriggled out of them (not bloody likely, as the openings were less than a foot wide), there were further lovely impediments all ready for him. He was about five or six stories up from some sort of spiked iron cage. Neither luck nor Time Lord reflexes were going to make that one work.

He didn't even remember how he'd gotten here. Jack had called them from some bar in Quintippile, wondering if he could hitch a lift. Rose and the TARDIS had both insisted, and the Doctor couldn't see any reason to argue. It was a nice bar, Jack was buying, Rose was laughing and then dancing, and then she'd gotten him dancing, and the drinks kept flowing, and everything had become a sort of blur.

Jack wouldn't have locked him up unless he'd gotten into something seriously dangerous, and Rose wouldn't have let Jack lock him away from her unless she was forced. Well, he was pretty sure she wouldn't - depended just how drunk she'd gotten, and maybe on how he'd behaved once they'd started dancing.

He thought he vaguely remembered her wearing his tie on her head this time. The picture made him grin, though, instead of frown, so he was pretty sure things were going all right, there, too.

He was just about to start working on serious memory recovery when that disturbing door flew open and a pack of small chittering aliens came tumbling in. The Doctor jumped backward from them and up onto the bed. They were Javawas and the last time he'd met any of them, he'd had to rescue a baffled and dizzy film producer from the middle of one of their elaborate fantasies.

They didn't live in the real world. No anthropologist had ever successfully studied them to figure out exactly where they did live. All of the Time Lords' records of the creatures had been panicked diatribes on why they could, justifiably, be hunted to extinction by someone else. The Doctor's personal recall was a bit like the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. There were acres and acres of things to say, but it could all be summed up in two words. In their case, however, the two words were "completely barking".

The Javawas chittered at him. "Shoo," the Doctor ordered, and prodded the nearest one with his toe.

"Shoo!" the Javawas all answered, loudly and excitedly.

The one nearest the Doctor grabbed his ankle. He tried to shake the creature off, but it was persistent, tiny, and came with a whole cluster of friends. He yelped, the creature tugged, there was a brief scuffle, punctuated by a vast variety of alien curses, and then the tiny aliens all cheered.

"Shoo!" they all proclaimed, reverently, and backed away.

The Doctor, now kicking at nothing in his sock feet, tried to reach the ones that had stolen his trainers. They were, however, hoisted onto the shoulders of several others and taken out of his reach.

"That was not what I meant!" the Doctor fumed.

"Slipper!" the Javawa holding the Doctor's shoe proclaimed grandly. "Princess: slipper; villain?"

"What was that?" the Doctor started to ask. He could have sworn he'd heard one of these ridiculous things accusing him of being...

"Chocolate," Jack interrupted, his voice clipped and strained from the doorway that the Doctor had been seriously considering as a new definition of disaster.

"OOOOH!" the Javawas all breathed dramatically. "Chocolate!" They all rushed the ex-Time Agent and he passed out little candy kisses he pulled from the pockets of his military coat.

"What the hell is going on here?" the Doctor demanded. He knew he sounded more than a bit like his last incarnation, but he was exasperated and felt like he'd earned it.

Jack looked sheepish. "They captured us," he said, gesturing at the squeaky horde clustered at his knees.

"You don't say," the Doctor answered blandly.

"Today's game appears to be fairy tales," Jack added.

"Three," several of the Javawas agreed. One went on to explain earnestly, "Three rule three test three three: villain, princess, knight."

"I'm the vil..." Jack started.

"Where have they taken Rose?" the Time Lord demanded coldly.

Jack, in a gesture remarkably similar to the Doctor's own favorite nervous habit, scratched the back of his neck. "Yeah, about that," he began, hesitantly.

The Doctor took a deep breath, forcing himself not to panic. Javawas had never been documented as harming anyone in one of their games. They teased mercilessly, assigned inhumane rules arbitrarily, and could drive a participant quite insane, but they didn't kill. Rose could hold out from mental torture for a long time before she cracked, and it was entirely possible that the Doctor's precious, clever girl could give every bit as good as she got.

He had believed in her above all things before she ever braved the Void to stay with him, and oh how he believed in her now.

"Where is she, Jack?" the Doctor insisted with quiet, forced calm.

"They dropped her on the other side of the 'three tests'. It's a fairy tale, you see..."

"And everything comes in threes," the Doctor acknowledged dryly. "Lovely."

Jack looked like he was waiting for something and waiting for it very reluctantly, too. The Doctor mentally trekked back over everything that had been said. "Wait, they dropped Rose outside the tower?" he asked for clarification. Jack nodded, and he looked decidedly miserable about it, too.

"And you started to say you're the... villain, then?"

Jack gestured at the Javawas. "Behold my loyal minions," he monotoned.

"So, you're here, and you're the villain." Jack nodded. "And Rose is outside, which makes her... the knight?" He looked a question at Jack and got another miserable nod in answer. "Well, who'm I then?"

The Javawas chittered an ecstatic giggle, and then pushed one of their number to the front of the group, this one carrying something blue and brown and disturbingly frilly. It shook the thing out, and there was nothing but layer upon layer of lace and satin. Another shake and it resolved itself into a fairy ball gown, suitable for cladding the most delicate damsel to ever be in distress and favor blue and brown stripes. "Princess," it proclaimed. "Dress?"

The Doctor gaped at it.

So far, they'd stolen his socks. The Doctor was standing on the bed again, and Jack was trying everything he could come up with the distract the little aliens from trying to strip their tall, skinny prisoner mother naked. "I am the Last of the Time Lords!" he raged. "The Oncoming Storm! Armies tremble from my wrath! Whole civilizations may rise and fall at my whim!"

"Loud Princess!"

"I don't care what he wears, he's never escaping my evil clutches!" Jack proclaimed. His attempt at an evil laugh fell flat as the Doctor fought his trousers back in to place from where the Javawas were pulling at the legs.

The Doctor groaned and tried to tighten his belt. "Oh why won't you listen?" he pleaded. Limbs splaying as the Javawas tugged him in too many directions at once, and the Doctor landed spread-eagled on the bed, determined to keep his kit on now if it was the last thing he ever did. "I scare DALEKS!" he bellowed as he landed.

"Wolf Knight," one of the Javawas corrected.

The Doctor stopped fighting to stare at the Javawas in complete amazement. How could they know about Rose's very brief stint as the owner of an all-powerful alter-ego? Jack stopped complaining, too, and looked at the Doctor in bald astonishment. He knew better than anyone about the feral Wolf inside the tender Rose.

"Wha?" he started, and then he heard it, the sound that all the Javawas had turned their heads to listen for. It sounded for a moment like an old typewriter being dropped, and then the Doctor realized.

He jumped out of the pile of distracted little mad things and tore to the windows, peering down through the heavy bars to see a huge horse - a palomino - clattering and thundering across the cobbles of the courtyard. Astride that golden titan, there was a mere slip of a golden girl, her hair blazing behind her like a banner, the clothes they'd apparently had better luck forcing her into shining back to the sky.

Jack gave the Doctor a brilliant grin and a merry salute. "Don't just stand there," he ordered gleefully, "stop her!"

The Javawas poured out of the room, chittering and jibbering and looking very much like a pack of hyper children off to play some vast game of make-believe. In a brief moment of understanding, the Doctor supposed they probably were.

"I'll go make sure they don't hurt her," Jack promised.

"She'll be fine," the Doctor admitted. "She can take anything, my Rose."

"She makes one helluva knight in shining armor," Jack agreed and turned to go, closing the door behind him.

"S'hardly the first time," the Doctor admitted to himself.

Rose pulled her horse to a stop below his window, and the Doctor wondered if she somehow sensed his presence or if there was something else going on. "Doctor!" she shouted.

"I'm here!" the Doctor called back, almost laughing at the shining look on her lovely face.

"I'll be right there!" she promised, and threw herself down from her saddle.

"Rose Tyler, I love you!" the Doctor shouted gleefully.

Rose, burning gold in the light of the setting sun, looked up at him with laughter on her face and wonder in her voice. "Quite right, too!" she shouted back, and set forth to rescue him.