Third Time's the Charm
"What are you doing here?"
Phoenix turned to see an angry and confused Rose Tyler storming over to her and let out a sigh before tucking her hands into the pockets of her leather jacket and walking to meet her halfway. Why was she here? Maybe she was just as curious as Phoenix was about who the Doctor was? They had used to love solving puzzles together. It would be plausible since she was at Henrick's also when he'd shown up and blown the place to smithereens. Besides, what other reason was there?
Maybe she was there to talk about Vanessa telling the cops Phoenix herself was responsible for blowing up Henrick's but honestly Phoenix didn't think Rose would care past the whole talking to the cops moments. She would probably let it go and let Phoenix deal with it herself at this point in their no longer existing friendship. No other reason presented itself to her.
"I found someone who can tell me about the Doctor." Phoenix stated, stopping in front of the girl and squinting against the sun that was now in her eyes. "I assume that's why you and Mickey are here as well."
Rose seemed startled by her answer for a second before she glanced behind herself and Phoenix knew the blonde was wondering how she had spotted the yellow car that belonged to one Mickey Smith A.K.A Rose's boyfriend. It wasn't actually that hard. In fact all she had to do was pay attention which was something she did a lot of so as not to be taken unawares.
"Yeah." Rose replied, turning back to her. "This bloke, Clive, said he knew about him. Shall we go?"
"You aren't going to throw a fit and try to get me to leave?" Phoenix asked with a frown and a raised eyebrow. "You're just going to agree to work together? Just like that?"
The blonde nodded before walking past her and going up to the door, knocking lightly. Phoenix nodded slowly to herself though she was sure her eyes were wide with shock and confusion. Rose really was just as curious as she was, that had to be it. There was no other reason she could think of that the blonde would ever be okay with working peacefully with her. At least not with how the girl had been treating her.
Hearing the door open, she turned and hurried to Rose's side. A boy about thirteen opened the door, looking between Rose and Phoenix. He must be the son Clive spoke about, she thought, letting Rose speak.
"Um, hello. I've come to see Clive." She murmured before glancing at Phoenix and elaborating. "We've been emailing."
"Oh." He looked back into the house. "Dad! It's two of your nutters!"
Phoenix rolled her eyes as the boy grimaced at her and Rose with slight disgust. Obviously, Clive felt very strongly about what he knew of the Doctor and apparently the boy heard quite a bit about it. It made sense that he would get tired of it, but being rude was uncalled for.
Phoenix reached back to tug on her hair, glancing up as a man who she assumed was Clive walked over to the door, an expression of excitement on his face. He had curly brown hair, cut short, and beady brown eyes. His expression was friendly and Phoenix didn't sense anything amiss about it, so when he offered his hand for her to shake, she politely accepted and shook it firmly once.
"Hello. You must be Rose." He turned away from her and to Rose. "And you're Phoenix. I'm Clive, obviously."
"Actually, I'm Phoenix. She's Rose." Phoenix corrected, tucking her hands into her back pockets and shifting on her feet.
"I'd better tell you now." Rose piped up with a smile, pointing over her shoulder. "My boyfriend's waiting in the car, just in case you're going to kill me."
Clive laughed and glanced at Mickey. "No, good point. No murders."
Phoenix peeked at a glaring Mickey as Clive waved at him before turning to examine the inside of Clive's home. Straight ahead there was a staircase, a hall beside it with several doors lining it and that was about all she could see from where she was. There were some family photo's on the walls and on a small desk that was by the door. They seemed very happy.
"Who is it?" A woman's voice echoed down the stairs.
"Oh, it's something to do with the Doctor. These girls have been reading the website." Clive called up the stairs before turning back to Phoenix and Rose. "Please, come through. I'm in the shed."
Phoenix nodded and slipped past Clive and into the hall where he directed her, Rose quickly following. She could hear Clive's wife wondering about how they were female and wondering about the Doctor but she blocked it out as she headed down some stairs and into Clive's shed.
Upon entering she saw that the small room was stuffed with clutter and there was only a walkway around a small table in the center of the room. All of the walls were lined with things and from what she could tell most of it was books and files though he did have a computer resting on a desk on the opposite side of the room. There was a star chart on the wall and a window behind the computer which had the same picture from Clive's website on the screen.
"A lot of this stuff's quite sensitive. I couldn't just send it to you." Clive said carefully, breaking her from her observations as he left Phoenix and Rose standing by the computer. "People might intercept it...if you know what I mean." He turned away from them and started rifling through a stack of folders.
Phoenix nodded slowly. "I think so."
"If you dig deep enough and keep a lively mind, this Doctor keeps cropping up all over the place." He continued, turning to them with a dark blue folder in hand. It was almost the same shade as the Doctor's police box. "Political diaries, conspiracy theories, even ghost stories." Phoenix shuffled a little uncomfortably as Clive moved to stand between her and Rose, setting the file on the table. "No first name, no last name, just 'The Doctor'. Always 'The Doctor'."
Phoenix suppressed a sigh as she continued to listen. So far she wasn't learning anything new apart from the Doctor being more widespread then she'd realized, but she had already figured that things like blowing up shops to stop living plastic were things he did often.
"And the title seems to have been passed down from father to son. It appears to be an inheritance." Clive said before pointing at the computer screen. "That's your Doctor there, isn't it?"
Rose ducked down and peered at the screen for a moment before answering. "Yeah."
Phoenix didn't have to look since it was the same picture she'd already seen. Again, nothing new.
"I tracked it down to the Washington public archive just last year. The online photo's enhanced, but if we look at the original..." He turned and pulled a plastic bag with photo's out of the blue folder.
In the first photo, Phoenix easily spotted the Doctor and it wasn't just because Clive had drawn a red circle with an arrow or because he was pointing at him. The Doctor was a very distinguishing person, not just in looks but with the way he held himself. He was a leader and made you want to look at him without even having to say a word.
In the picture the Doctor was standing in a crowd and while the people were all looking to their right's, the Doctor was looking straight at the camera. Curious. For someone who wanted people to forget about him, he didn't seem to be hiding from the media much. At least not in this photo.
The second photo was the same just with more of the scene showing and Phoenix could see that the crowd was on the side of the street and from the motorcycle in the left corner of the photo, it looked like they were observing a parade of some sort. She frowned as she looked at the people's clothing. They were quite a bit older and definitely out of style enough so that there would only be one person if any wearing those sort of clothes in this day and age.
Phoenix's eyes went wide as Clive revealed a third photo this one taken the widest. It appeared to be taken on --
"November the 22nd, 1963. The assassination of President Kennedy. You see?" Clive spoke from beside her and Phoenix peered down at the Doctor's face in the crowd again. He looked exactly the same as he had that morning from what she could tell. But how was that possible?
"It must be his father." Rose murmured from Clive's other side, causing Phoenix to frown. She'd heard of people looking a lot like their parents, but they couldn't look exactly like them. There would have to be differences and there was definitely no difference between the man in the photo's and the Doctor. They were even wearing the same clothes though the Doctor had a green jumper instead of maroon. She didn't know how it was possible, but from the looks of it the Doctor had been at Kennedy's assassination.
"Going further back." Clive said, the excitement back in his voice as he darted around them towards another shelf, leaving the girls to continue looking at the picture. "April 1912."
Phoenix looked up as he walked back over, a sketchbook with a photo on top of it in hand. "This is a photo of the Daniels family of Southampton," He pointed to a man who was once again the Doctor. "'and friend.'"
In this photo, the Doctor was wearing a suit and standing beside the Daniels family, hands behind his back. It was definitely him again, but there was no difference besides his clothes. How was this possible? She asked herself, her eyes narrowing and her frown deepening.
"This was taken the day before they were due to sail off for the New World on the Titanic, and for some unknown reason, they cancelled the trip and survived." Clive said, glancing at Rose and her before pulling another photo out. "And here we are...uh...1883. Another Doctor."
Phoenix glanced down to see a sketch of a man standing beside a mountain. There was smoke drawn in the picture and the paper had signs of age on it, making her doubt that it was a fake.
"And look, the same lineage. He's identical. This one washed up on the coast of Sumatra on the very night that Krakatoa exploded." Clive said, going silent for a moment as he let the information sink in. When he did speak his tone had a darker edge to it. "The Doctor is a legend woven throughout history." Phoenix carefully brought her gaze up to meet Clive's. "When disaster comes, he's there. He brings the storm in his wake and he has one constant companion."
"Who's that?" Rose asked from behind Phoenix, her voice soft and slightly disturbed.
"Death." Clive responded, his tone morbid. "If the Doctor's back, if you've seen him, Phoenix, Rose, then one thing's for certain..We're all in danger."
Phoenix regarded him silently for a moment before her eyes drifted back to the photo's on the desk. It was definitely the Doctor in each one and none of them were fakes. She wasn't sure how she knew, but she did. It was him. Not his father or his grandfather. Him. She wasn't sure what to make of the whole his constant companion is death thing, but it didn't matter as much to her at the moment. What she was interested in was him. How could he possibly be in all of those places? Why wouldn't he tell her who had been controlling the dummies? What was she going to do with the information she had gathered? It had answered none of her questions. She'd come here hoping to find out who the Doctor was, but all she had so far were more questions.
"If he's singled you out, if the Doctor's making house calls--" Clive said, putting all of his things away before he sighed and turned back to the two girls. "--then God help you."
"But who is he?" Rose asked, her tone slightly irritated as she brought her hand down onto the table.
"Who do you think he is?" Phoenix interjected, catching Clive's gaze with her own.
"I think he's the same man." Clive walked over and leaned against the table, coming eye level with her. "I think he's immortal. I think he's an alien from another world."
She'd been thinking along the same lines after how the Doctor had been speaking that morning, but to hear it from someone else brought the situation crashing down. She'd often questioned how she thought she would feel if she ever found out that aliens or monsters were real and she had always thought that she would freak out or be completely terrified. But all she felt in that moment was calm. It almost felt right to her. Then again it could just be the calm before the storm.
Rose grabbed her hand and pulled her towards the door, jerking her from her thoughts. "Right, then. Thanks, but we should really be going. We had dinner plans and we don't wanna be late."
Clive nodded, still smiling widely as Phoenix looked at Rose. "I understand. I hope I helped you."
With that he led them to the door, opening it for them. Phoenix followed Rose out and to Mickey's car, glancing at Mickey for a second. He had a wide smile on his face and a strange look in his eye. He seemed different and a little creepy.
"So, we have dinner plans, do we?" Phoenix asked, standing beside Rose and tilting her head to the side. "Where are we eating?"
Rose looked like she was going to snap at her but after a second the blonde sighed and opened the back door for her. "I don't know. Fancy a pizza?"
"Pizza!" Mickey piped up from the front seat and as Phoenix climbed into the car she peered closely at him.
His skin seemed a bit shiny and his expression was a bit stiff. Though that could be from light reflecting off of him and the fact that he had been sitting in the car waiting for them, but she couldn't help but think that it was something more than that. Something had changed in the time that she and Rose had been speaking to Clive. However, she couldn't just tell Rose that, now could she? The blonde would never believe her. Most people would probably put as much distance between themselves and the creepy guy who looked like he could be a serial killer and on most days Phoenix would have that exact reaction, but Rose was there. And no matter where the two of them stood at the moment, she would never leave her alone if there was even a hint of danger. She'd learned the hard way to keep those you loved close to you.
"All right, he's a nutter. Off his head." Rose said as she climbed into the seat beside Mickey. "Complete online conspiracy freak. You win!"
"Pizza! P-p-p-pizza!" Mickey repeated, not even looking at her.
Phoenix frowned at the back of his head and sank back into her seat. Rose tried suggesting other things, but creepy Mickey kept insisting on pizza. This was just another thing that was odd. Mickey was usually more open to compromise then this, maybe he was just seriously craving pizza, but Phoenix didn't think that was it. Her suspicion was strengthened as Mickey started driving. He kept switching sides on the street and to say it was a bumpy ride would be an understatement. Rose told him to stop mucking around several times, but his only response was to say pizza. Again, creepy.
By the time they got to the pizzeria, Phoenix was more than eager to get out of the car. Honestly, if she hadn't been in public she might have gotten on her hands and knees and kissed the asphalt. Glancing back at Mickey, Phoenix wondered not for the first time what the hell was wrong with him before she excused herself from the couple to go order the pizza.
She ordered a large pepperoni before leaning against the counter and glancing back at Rose and Mickey. Rose was chattering away, playing with her nails while Mickey was sitting across from her, unblinking with that creepy smile still plastered on his face. Phoenix was really starting to feel unnerved and even a tiny bit frightened of him. Never in all the time she'd known him had she ever seen him this way. He'd always been the happy, sometimes not so bright but braver then he thought guy who loved Rose without a doubt. Now, who was he? The biggest creep in the universe. There was no way that had just happened over night.
He'd seemed fine in the car before they'd gone into Clive's house though, she thought frowning as she absently took her number from the person behind the counter. Her eyes narrowed and she pushed away from the counter, walking over to the table and plopping down into the seat between Mickey and Rose. She opened her mouth to say something but Mickey the wannabe Ken doll beat her to it.
He turned to her his smile finally dropping though she wasn't sure which expression she preferred. Now he was almost glaring at her as he leaned towards her. "So, where did you meet this Doctor?"
"Oh, I'm sorry, was I talking about me for a second?" Rose demanded, her tone full of vehemence as her eyes flared with anger.
"Because I reckon it started back at the shop, am I right?" Mickey ignored Rose as his gaze stayed glued on Phoenix. "Was he something to do with that?"
Phoenix's throat closed up and her heart started pounding a mile a minute as the familiar fear and suspicion rose within her though this time she didn't think it was a false alarm as it had been so many times before. Mickey's eyes hinted at dark thoughts and though she would never have thought that Mickey would ever lift a hand to hurt her, she couldn't be sure now. Not this Mickey.
She'd been silent too long she realized as Mickey's head tilted to the side and his eyes narrowed dangerously. She blinked and cleared her throat before stammering out a response. "N-no. W-we met at....we met at...."
"Come on." Mickey said, the creepy smile spreading across his face as he stared at her. "We both know he was there."
Phoenix tried to swallow down her fear as she turned her gaze to the tabletop, trying to calm herself enough to think. Something was definitely up with him and right now, he was dangerous. Maybe the dummies were effecting him by sending signals to him as well, but wouldn't he have to be plastic then? She dismissed the idea and glanced at a very confused and angry looking Rose who was now practically yelling at Mickey, who was still ignoring her.
Did it matter what was wrong with him? She could figure it out later, but right now she wasn't entirely sure how far he would go to get what he wanted from her. Even with Rose right there and the camera's in the pizzeria ready to reflect the events of whatever could happen....she was so stupid! Something was most certainly not right!
Her eyes snapped up to his and then she saw it. The small detail she'd failed to notice when she'd first looked him over in the car. She'd chalked it up to the sun reflecting off his mirrors or the windshield or something, but now there was no sun to reflect. No light but the dim bulbs hanging over their heads and those weren't bright enough for the gleam she was seeing on Mickey's face. She'd seen it before on the dummies in the basement at Henricks. Obviously she shouldn't have dismissed her Mickey is now plastic theory.
It took everything in her to stay sitting instead of leaping out of her chair, grabbing Rose and making a run for it. She didn't know what would happen to everyone else in the pizzeria if she left and since the living plastic were so unpredictable the risk was too large for her to take lightly. The plastic obviously wanted to know about the Doctor and it thought she knew something so it was using Mickey to get to her. It'd taken his body or copied it or something, she didn't know, but whatever had happened, Mickey was gone and this....thing was left in his place.
"Would you pay attention to me instead of--"
"Why do you want to know about him, Mickey?" Phoenix interupted Rose and she was immediately rewarded by the plastic Mickey's head snapping over to look at her. "What does it matter to you?"
"I want to help you. Tell me about the Doctor and what he's planning, and I can help you, Phoenix." Plastic Mickey said, his tone not reassuring at all as he glared at her.
Phoenix bit her lip and glanced back down at the table. She needed to find out how to stall him without saying anything about what little she'd managed to learn about the Doctor and without getting herself and Rose killed. She turned to the plastic thing sitting beside her and opened her mouth to say who knows what when a voice cut into the tension.
"We didn't order any champagne." Plastic Mickey dismissed, his expression darkening considerably as he leaned forward and grabbed her hand in a painful grasp. "Where's the Doctor?"
She knew he was very close to shattering the bones in her hand and now she knew how far he was willing to go. That thought alone caused her heart to pound frantically in her chest as her throat closed in fear again. She tried to keep her breaths steady for Rose's sake, but she couldn't stop the frightened gasps escaping her lips. She needn't have bothered since the blonde was so wrapped up in her anger at Mickey and Phoenix that she didn't seem to even notice how tense the atmosphere was at the moment.
"Madam, your champagne." The waiter was back, only this time he was offering the drink to Rose and Phoenix could have sworn that she recognized his voice. She couldn't be sure however since he'd only said five words so far and she was having trouble tearing her eyes away from plastic Mickey.
"It's not ours." Rose dismissed him as well, leaning towards Mickey. "Mickey, what is it? What's wrong?"
"I need to find out how much you know, so where is he?" Mickey ignored her again and Phoenix gasped in pain as he tightened his grip on her.
Images of all the terrible things she was sure Plastic Mickey could do to her came unbidden to her mind. Images of him shattering her hand before he leapt across the table, his hand closing around her throat and tightening until she couldn't breathe. Until she couldn't stay awake, until she was dead just like her mother.
Before she really knew what she was doing she'd snatched up a fork and plunged it into plastic Mickey's forehead, yanking her hand away from him once his fingers had loosened in shock and leaping to her feet. Rose gasped in shock and her hands flew to her mouth. Phoenix could feel everyone's eyes on her, even the waiter's, but she couldn't bring herself to look away from Mickey. He didn't seem to be in pain or even upset. In fact, he was smiling that creepy smile of his as he looked at her. No, not at her. At someone behind her.
"Ah. Gotcha." Mickey said and Phoenix turned sharply, her eyes connecting with the bright blue eyes of none other than the Doctor. She stared at him, wide-eyed as worry pooled in her stomach as she realized he'd seen her stab Mickey with a fork. Before she could really dwell on this, she felt Rose stand, a horrified gasp escaping her and causing Phoenix to turn back to her. What she saw had her eyes widening while at the same time something she couldn't quite place coursed through her veins.
The fork she'd embedded in Mickey's forehead was being absorbed by his skin, literally disappearing before he locked his eyes onto her and spit it out onto the table. "Anyways."
He smiled at them as he stood, raising his hand. As she watched, his hand flattened and elongated until it resembled a square paddle which he proceeded to bring crashing down onto the table, effectively cutting it in half. Once done he started forward towards her, his eyes holding a manic glint that only helped his smile look more creepy. She didn't even think that was possible.
Phoenix couldn't help it. She just stared at him with wide eyes. She knew she should probably run, scream, or anything other than what she was doing. He was reaching forward to grab her when he was suddenly pushed back and she broke out of her brief moment of paralysis to focus on who had pushed Mickey. It was the Doctor and he currently had Mickey in a headlock and was pulling on his head. She had a brief moment of deja vu and her mind flitted back to the elevator when he'd pulled the dummie's arm off and true to her expectation, after a few tugs, Mickey's head came off with a pop.
She'd realised what the Doctor was going to do, but still she was surprised to feel her stomach clench in guilt and horror. It wasn't a person, only an imitation of one. It was nothing more than a puppet. Why should she feel remorse for it's head being pulled off? And more then that, it had no doubt been willing to kill her and possibly Rose and everyone in the pizzeria to get the information it wanted. So why was she feeling so uneasy?
She barely registered the screams of the customers around her as she was too focused on the head in the Doctor's hands. The head that was still talking! "Don't think that's going to stop me."
Phoenix glanced at the Doctor and had to do a double take to see that he was smiling! What was there to smile about? She was fairly sure that this was what had broken her out of her shocked state. It wasn't the now thrashing body of Plastic Mickey, it wasn't the panicked and confused Rose, and it wasn't the people screaming around her. It was the curiosity of why this was so amusing for the Doctor.
Was he fascinated with the plastic's persistence as she was? She was terrified of it, but she had to admit the fact that Plastic Mickey was still up and moving without a head to send signals to the body was impressive if a little terrifying. Though it did show that her puppet theory had some merit. Someone else was pulling the strings.
Was he insane? It was possible, but at the same time she wasn't sure that was quite the cause. He might be a bit insane, but she didn't think that he was the type to laugh at causing havok.
The sound of the fire alarm snapped her from her thoughts and she turned to see Rose beside it and shouting for everyone to get out of the pizzeria. This was all she had time to notice however before her hand was suddenly grabbed and she was pulled into a run. A gasp escaped her lips and she looked forward to see that the Doctor was the one who had grabbed her and they were now running after Rose, the head tucked under the Doctor's arm as plastic Mickey's body followed after them, wrecking everything in it's path.
Phoenix sped up and let the Doctor lead her through the kitchens and down a long hallway, until they were closing a large metal door behind them, the Doctor pulling out his tube thing and pointing it at the lock. Phoenix grimaced at the head that was still in the Doctor's arms before she turned to watch Rose run off down the alley, ignoring the slight chill from the evening air. She would've gone after the blonde, but she stopped short when she saw the police box from earlier. How could it be here? She wondered, taking a few steps towards it as the buzzing continued behind her. How could any of this be happening? Over the course of twenty four hours reality had turned upside down and she didn't know how or why. So, what did she know? Why was she focusing on everything she didn't? After all the things she did know would possibly help her untangle the mess.....right?
"Open the gate! Use that tube thing." Rose's voice made her startle, bringing her out of her thought's, but she couldn't bring herself to turn to the blonde.
What if the box disappeared again? Sane people would want that to happen. They would think they were dreaming, but then again she'd never claimed to be sane. She wasn't like other people. She always found herself in situations where she just had to find the answers, had to make sense of it. It would probably be safer to let it go if plastic Mickey was any indicator of that. She'd nearly been killed three times now since peeking under the veil of whatever this new world was - four if she counted Mickey's driving - and yet she wasn't entirely sure that she wanted to drop the veil and run back to safety. She wanted to rip the veil away.
She vaguely heard the Doctor refer to the tube thing as a sonic screwdriver and invite them to join him as he walked over to the police box, but still she couldn't move or tear her eyes away from the box though she wasn't really seeing the brilliant blue anymore. She was too wrapped up in her thoughts, she barely even registered the thudding as plastic Mickey's body pounded at the locked door.
She knew that this was the deciding moment and it could most certainly change her entire life depending on what she chose to do. She could walk away or she could follow the Doctor into that box. Most people would probably just think that they could just walk away after they'd followed the Doctor, who was most definitely going to lead them to safety if her judge of his character was accurate thus far, but she knew - she didn't know how she knew, but she did - she knew that whatever was behind those blue doors would awaken her need to find answers more then anything else ever had. She wouldn't be able to walk away. She knew it as certainly as she knew the sun was going to rise again tomorrow, knew it as certainly as she'd known the Doctor was telling the truth that morning. The question was...was that something she was willing to let go of?
Was she willing to let go of the veil of ignorance that had kept her safe for the last eighteen years of her life? But how much of that veil was still there, anyways? How much had survived these past six months? Was there really enough to let her forget all that had happened the past two days?
The answer was no. Knowledge could build nations, win wars, and save millions. Ignorance was just a shield that more often than not let you down and got you killed. There really wasn't a choice between the two so, she took a deep breath and stepped into the blue police box, ripping the few pieces of the veil that was left, off of the world.
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