by Kathryn A

Universe:Doctor Who
Challenge:Friendship Ficathon
Written For:izhilzha
Summary:Rose challenges the Ninth Doctor to a game of hide-and-seek.

This is set after my AU story, "Necessity".

The Doctor grinned as he shut the TARDIS doors. "So, where to next?"

"Don't you think Jack would like to have a say in that?" Rose asked.

"No, better to leave him be, he's still sleeping it off."

Rose rolled her eyes. "Too much celebrating?"

"Hey, lots to celebrate -- war's over, Earth's saved, new life-form's been born..."

"I thought you didn't like Daisy."

The Doctor shrugged. "She grows on you." He leaned forward to check some readings on the TARDIS console. "But I think we all need a holiday." He tapped his chin thoughtfully, then grinned. "I know just the place!" He burst into action, twisting dials, pulling levers, leaping from one side of the console to the other, speaking all the while: "Just your thing, you'll love it. Cheering crowds, excitement, suspense -- even I don't know who won what..." He pressed a final lever, and the TARDIS wrenched itself into the vortex, shuddering and groaning as it always did.

Rose talked over the noise. "Who won what?"

"Don't you want it to be a surprise?"

"No," Rose said flatly, starting to get annoyed at his high-handedness.

"The 2012 Olympics," the Doctor said, grinning smugly.

"England won the rowing, Canada won the bobsled, and Rosemary Hartman won the gold for archery for New Zealand."


"England: rowing, Canada: bobsled, and Rosemary Hartman got gold for archery," Rose repeated. "I saw it on telly. I lived through it, remember?"

The Doctor stared at her. "Since when were you interested in archery?"

She scowled at him. "Since I joined the team in college. Seven years may be a drop in the bucket to you, but it's a quarter of my life! I've gained skills you never knew. You don't know what I know, you don't know what I've done. You don't know who I am any more."

"You're Rose," the Doctor said.

"Well, this Rose doesn't want to be taken for granted," she said. "I bet... I bet I could hide in the TARDIS and you don't know me well enough to figure out where I'm hiding."

The Doctor leaned back against the console and folded his arms. "Okay," he said, "you're on. Count of a hundred?"

"No, give me ten minutes. Don't want to limit the possibilities, do we?"

The Doctor shrugged. "Right. Ten minutes. I'll shut my eyes, then."

Rose stared at him for a moment to make sure he was really shutting his eyes. Then she dashed through the door to the interior of the TARDIS. She'd show him!

He shut his eyes, but he didn't shut his ears. He listened to her footfalls retreating down the corridor. She ran faster than he expected. He revised his calculations.

Rose ran as far and as fast as she could. He wouldn't know where she was, because he'd be looking in all the wrong places. She'd started her watch timer as soon as she'd left the console room, figuring that with ten minutes head start, she could run for, say, 18 minutes before he caught up with her, even if he knew exactly which twists and turns of the TARDIS corridors she was taking.

At the 15-minute mark, she started looking for a good hiding place. At the 18-minute mark, she was sitting in the bottom of a storage cupboard, getting her breath back.

At the 28-minute mark, the cupboard door opened, and the Doctor smirked down at her.

"How did you find me?"

"I calculated how fast you were running, figured you'd go full-pelt, and that narrowed it down to just a few possibilities."

"Fine," Rose said, standing up and stepping out of the cupboard, ignoring the hand that the Doctor offered. "We'll do it again."

"There," Rose said, adjusting the black silk scarf she'd tied over the Doctor's eyes. "Not too tight, I hope?"

"You know, there's a particular caste on the planet Jurltafringolian that do nothing but knit execution scarves --"

Rose restrained herself from asking what an execution scarf was, though she could make a good guess. "Ten minutes. You get half an hour to find me."

"You aren't going to stick cotton in my ears?"

Rose smirked, though he couldn't see her. "Nope, don't need to." She stepped over to one of the shelves on the wall and turned on the boom-box she'd put there, slid in a CD and hit play, the volume going at full blast. She winced a little at the loudness, but the Doctor, taken by surprise, put his hands over his ears. She suppressed a laugh, then became serious again.

Rose ran to the inner door and threw it open, but she didn't go through it. Instead, she stood still, and then slowly, very slowly, hardly breathing, she sidled step by step around the edge of the console room, until she reached the third door in the room, the one that led to the planetarium, the room that Daisy had accidentally created when trying to coax the TARDIS's block-transfer circuits into giving them an external viewscreen. She eased the door open, stepped through, and shut it quietly behind her.

The space she was in -- one could hardly call it a room -- resembled nothing so much as an amphitheatre under a night sky, though what planet those stars originally shone on she had no idea. Maybe it was no planet at all, and the constellations above her were wholly imaginary. Neither she nor the Doctor had had time to explore this new addition to the TARDIS, and apart from her initial foray into it when the room had been first created, she hadn't been in here since. The Doctor had poked his head in the first time he'd moved the TARDIS after she came back, but that was all. She was counting on that.

She looked around. Shallow steps ran down to a stone plinth in the centre of the room. Deeper "steps" made rings of seating on either side of the steps. The illusion of an amphitheatre continued in the walls, which seemed also to be made of stone, with round archways making alcoves at regular intervals. Maybe she could hide in one of those? The light was dim enough, maybe he wouldn't notice her.

She stepped quietly along the top level of the amphitheatre, checking out the archways. The third one along seemed to be darker than the others, and when she came up to it she was astonished to find that it wasn't an alcove at all; it was an actual archway, an opening leading to a corridor with the same barrel vault roof as the arch itself.

There was more to this than just the planetarium, it seemed.

She walked through the arch. The passage was narrow; she could touch both sides if she stretched out her arms. The floor was smooth enough that she didn't stumble, which was just as well, because it was dark and getting darker as she moved away from the dim illumination of the planetarium. But as she took more steps inside, she thought she could see a glimmer of light ahead. Five steps more and she was certain of it; light in the outline of a door, flat on the bottom and arched at the top, matching the barrel roll of the arched passage. Soon enough she came up to it; it was indeed a door, or perhaps a gate, because it seemed to be made of rough slabs of wood, and instead of a door handle, it had a loop like those used for a latch-gate. She turned it, and pushed the gate open.

She stopped and stared, blinking in the light. This was day to night, a grey overcast day, true, but the illusion of daylight was perfect. But that wasn't what had her staring. She had emerged into a rose garden. Four stone walls surrounded it, ivy creeping up them. Perfectly tended gravel paths and hedges wound about the area. Roses, bluebells, snapdragons, forget-me-nots, and other flowers she couldn't identify grew tidily in their beds. Smooth green grass carpeted the ground. In one corner stood a galvanized iron shed. She breathed deep, the scent of roses, grass, stone and soil, and then reminded herself that she shouldn't linger.

In the opposite wall there was another gate, a rectangular one this time. Rose ran up to it, being careful to go on the grass rather than the gravel, so as to not make too much noise. She opened the gate and went through.

This passageway was quite different, more like a normal corridor, though there were the usual roundels in the walls that seemed to be quite common in the TARDIS, though she didn't know whether it was functional or just a decorative motif. There were no doorways to either side; it was straight and featureless. After a few more metres, it ended in another door. She pushed it open.

The room she entered was a proper room this time, with wood panelling (though again sporting the chez TARDIS roundel theme). There were tables and chairs scattered around the room, though taking a closer look, they weren't all normal tables. To her left, smooth and green, was a billiard table, with pool cues lined up like soldiers at attention in a rack on the wall next to it. Up against one wall was something that reminded her of a pinball machine, but the game field appeared to be a three-dimensional hologram hovering above the controls. There was a glass-fronted cabinet against one wall, and a bookshelf filled with books. One table had four chairs pulled up around it, with playing cards scattered over the surface. Another table had a half-finished jigsaw puzzle on it. Wherever she looked, one thing was clear; this was a room dedicated to games, solitary and communal.

Again, she told herself not to linger, however tantalizing it was. Was there another door out of here, or would she have to go back? Hiding under the billiard table would hardly help her cause.

On the other side of the glass-fronted cabinet, she found it, another door, wooden, and blending in with the panelling. She turned the handle and pushed, but it seemed for a moment to be stuck. She pushed a little harder, and it opened.

She didn't believe her eyes.

The Doctor tore off his blindfold and leapt to the boom-box to turn it off. The music -- if music it could be called -- had been pounding noise and very irritating. Who would have thought that Rose would be into Heavy Metal? He'd thought better of her.

He stepped through the door to the inner part of the TARDIS, but he wasn't hurrying this time. Rose wasn't going to try the same trick twice. Instead, she would do the opposite. Which meant that she would be hiding somewhere close to the console room, expecting him to dash off like he had before. He had to admit, though, that the boom-box was a nice touch; he hadn't been able to hear when her footsteps stopped. Still, it wouldn't take long to find her.

Five minutes later, he was scratching his head, figuratively if not literally. He knew what her strategy would have been. But he'd looked in all the nearest rooms. You couldn't get nearer than --

He rolled his eyes and rapped on his head with his fist. "You've got a wooden head, Doctor," he muttered to himself, and turned back to the console room. There was one room that was nearer: the new planetarium. He shook his head. Stupid of them to have tried messing about with the block-transfer computation circuits, they were lucky the whole TARDIS hadn't imploded.

He strolled up to the new door and turned the handle. The door wouldn't move. He pushed harder against it, but it appeared to be thoroughly stuck. He snorted. "That's cheating!" he muttered. Rose had obviously put something against the door to stop him getting in.

He shook his head. It might delay him, but it certainly wouldn't stop him.

Rose was back in the planetarium. She looked behind her -- there was the games room, wood-panelled and cosy. In front of her was the planetarium, stars blazing gloriously above. It wasn't possible. She'd gone in a straight line the whole way -- how could she be back where she started?

Maybe she wasn't back where she started. Maybe it was just an identical room? Of course, it had to be. This was the doorway that normally led from the console room to the planetarium, there was no way that it could lead to a different room altogether. But...

She shut the door behind her, and went to the third arch to the left. It, too, led to a dark passageway. She walked cautiously along it and opened the heavy door at the other end.

When she stepped into the garden, she started running.

The Doctor frowned at his sonic screwdriver. Surely the vibrations at their highest setting should have moved whatever was blocking the door, even if there was a mediaeval-style beam across the other side, and he certainly didn't remember anything like that being there.

"It's just a game, Rose, no need to be so dog-in-the-manger about it," he muttered.

Still, he wasn't going to let that stop him. He'd surprise her by finding another route in. There was sure to be one. He smirked to himself as he went over to the TARDIS console and brought up the internal schematics on the console screen. "You are brilliant, even if I say so myself."

Rose sat in the planetarium, staring at nothing. She had gone through the circuit once more, then twice backwards, before she was convinced of it: she was inside a closed loop, with no way back to the rest of the TARDIS. If she was still inside the TARDIS at all. "This isn't exactly the perfect hiding place that I had in mind," she said to herself. She shook her head. "Enough moping, Rose, do something constructive."

The Doctor would presumably be able to sort this out, if only he knew that something was actually wrong, if only she could get in contact with him. Pity she didn't have her phone on her. It was somewhere in her bedroom, turned off. She'd turned it off years ago, ever since she'd had that last argument with Mickey, so that he wouldn't be able to ring her up and argue with her some more. Note to self: as soon as I'm out of here, turn on phone.

Okay, what do I have? Rose emptied her pockets. Wallet. A credit-stick. A multi-tool with multi-head magnetic screwdriver. A vial of anti-metal virus. Tissues. Comb. A small spiral-bound notebook and pen. Even if I had a sonic screwdriver I don't think that would help. Stone knives and bearskins, as Spock once said. She put the things back in her pockets and looked around. "Okay, what else do I have?"

She stood up and ventured back into the games room. The futuristic pinball machine looked promising, but after she pried off one of the panels she shook her head. Futuristic machine, of course it had futuristic innards. She propped the panel up against its side and looked around. Well, the billiard balls would be good for throwing at ravening alien beasts. Just as well there aren't any here. And I suppose I could use the pool cues for staking vampires -- if vampires exist. Must remember to ask him about that.

Tables, chairs, playing cards, board games and books. Nothing useful came to mind.

She strode into the garden, and made a beeline for the garden shed. It was locked with a padlock, but that didn't stop her for long. She pushed the door open and breathed in the musty smell of fertilizer, mulch, pesticides and mildew. There were shelves along the walls with labelled containers, and heavy-looking sacks on the lowest shelves. One side had a bench with pots and a rack of smaller tools such as hammers, small forks, trowels and secateurs. In one corner was a wheelbarrow, some spades, a garden fork, a mallet, and a mattock.

Rose smiled as an idea came to her.

The Doctor frowned. He could find no trace of the planetarium on the schematics. Not even the expected connecting door between it and the console room. Could it be that it wasn't connected at all? Surely not. On the other hand, it had been jury-rigged. He'd already thought they'd been very lucky when they'd made it -- what if the luck had run out? What if the room no longer existed? That would certainly explain why he couldn't get inside.

But if Rose had been inside when it had vanished...

No, he wouldn't accept that. There had to be some other explanation.

As he was pondering the possibilities, he could feel a vibration beneath his feet, and a sound, that wasn't part of the usual noises that the TARDIS made. A thudding, thumping sound. Regular, but not quite. Thud, thud, thud, thud... thud... thud... thud, thud, thud. Repeated. It took him a moment to realize what it was: SOS in Morse code; a distress call.

From Rose.

"She's alive!" He smiled. "And still got a clever head on her shoulders. Good girl!" He tapped the console absently. "Now, how to send a signal back..."

Rose paused in her exertions, and put the mallet on the ground. She'd been thudding on the door frame of the planetarium for a few minutes, hoping that the sound, or maybe just the vibration, would somehow get through to the rest of the TARDIS, that the Doctor would hear her. But how would she know if he had? Would he be able to do the same at his end, or could he do something else?

She leaned against the wall and sighed. Then she heard it, a faint, tinny sort of sound, a regular beat. She took out her notebook and started writing down the beats. Then she sighed. "I may know SOS, but Morse was before my time, Doctor." She snorted. "Yeah, you probably knew him personally."

She started tapping out a much simpler code, one tap for each letter: A, one tap; B, two taps; C, three taps... The other tapping stopped. When she'd gotten to G, the tapping started again, this time using the letter-counting code she'd initiated.

She spelled out the beats, writing them down in her notebook. O-S-E-S-T-A-T-U-S, and a pause. Then it started again, ROSESTATUS. Rose, status.

She smiled, and picked up the mallet.

The Doctor heard the thumping again, but this time it was neither SOS nor the alphabet. "Yes!" He'd gotten through. He put down the pot he'd been banging, and decoded the message: CLOSED LOOP NO EXIT DO NOT FOLLOW BE TRAPPED ACK. It repeated again, and then silence.

ACK, he sent. SIZE OF LOOP, he added.


Obviously it was an error in the block-transfer computation circuits which had disconnected the area Rose was in. But he didn't know what alterations they had made, and if he proceeded blindly, he could end up making the rooms vanish, with Rose inside them. He needed more data.

HOLD ON, he sent. Then he dashed out of the console room to get the instruments he would need.

Rose banged on the wall of the games room with the mallet, spelling out "GAMES". She had been going around the loop at the Doctor's direction, banging out the name of where she was at each point in the circuit. She didn't know how that was helping, but presumably it was.

She stepped back into the planetarium, and sat down next to the door. Ten minutes of silence, but that didn't bother her. She knew how to wait. She'd waited seven years, ten minutes was nothing.

Suddenly there was a wheezing, groaning sound, and the door wavered and warped, and then grew steady, looking exactly the same as it had before. She stood up and stepped towards it. Had that meant what she thought it meant?

The door banged open and the Doctor burst through, grinning like a loon. "Fixed it!" He suddenly sobered and touched her shoulders. "I'm glad you're still here." He took her hand and pulled her back into the console room.

"So," he said, "where would you like to go?"

The request was "(Dr. Who) Nine and Rose play (play?) hide-and-seek in the TARDIS".

Thanks to Jonathan Burns for brainstorming yet again. Thanks to Judith P. for beta-reading.

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