Fandom: Doctor Who
Beta: The forever amazing starxd_sparrow and souleswanderer
Characters: The Tenth Doctor, Jack Harkness, Rose Tyler
Summary: "You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else." -Albert Einstein
A/N: This was written for the 2009 OT3 Ficathon. I'm writing for callme_al0
The Doctor stood still, his spiked hair blowing in the wind, his hands casually tucked in his pockets as he waited for his challenge to begin. Jack was holding Rose’s hand, their eyes focused on the arena.
Massive gates on the right side of the arena creaked open, and several men holding large chains stumbled through and tugged mercilessly on the metal links. The ground shook – whatever they were bringing in to the ring was big, very big, and judging by the sounds coming from the other side of the gate, it wasn’t amused.
The Doctor watched with detached interest as his challenge was lead into the arena. It appeared to be an ogre of some sort, a Cyclops, standing the height of three men. Bulging muscles were visible underneath the tattered remains of what was supposed to pass as clothing. One large eye on the monster’s head blinked several times as if it was unaccustomed to sunlight.
“Remove the chains!” the announcer ordered before piercing the ground in the center of the ring with a spear. He looked at the Doctor who was watching the ogre through sad eyes and said, “You will rid Ineokajith of this evil.”
The men who delivered the creature nodded, and three were able to release the chains. The fourth man tugged several times trying to undo the rusty clasp. The ogre turned on him, his large brown hand swiping outwards and sending the man flying until he slammed against the wall. The audience shrieked in horror as his unconscious body was carried out of the arena. The gates closed with an ominous clang and only the Doctor and the ogre remained in the ring, the spear forgotten in the grass.
The ogre watched the Doctor, its head tilting to the side as if contemplating the best form of attack. It lumbered forward, long arms hanging awkwardly down to its knees, and breathing heavily through its nose.
“He’s not doing anything,” Rose murmured as the creature ambled closer to the Doctor.
“I think he’s waiting for the right opportunity,” Jack replied, his hand tightening around Rose’s.
The Doctor stepped aside when the ogre lunged towards him. The creature was powerful, but fortunately, it was also slow. The Doctor avoided several more attacks with the same graceful ease, his hands never leaving the pockets of his greatcoat. This went on for the better part of twenty minutes. The audience that was gasping and shrieking from fear was now screaming for action and bloodshed; they cared not whose blood was spilled.
The ogre stopped, its massive hand rubbing the back of its neck, wide, stubby fingers trailing across long scars in various stages of healing. If anything, it looked puzzled as it blinked at the Doctor. Finally, its gaze drifted to the spear and it ambled over and yanked the weapon from the dirt.
The crowd surged to their feet, screaming for the Doctor to run, to fight, to withdraw. Jack and Rose leaned over the rope, both silently willing the Doctor to action. The only person who didn’t look even slightly concerned was the Doctor.
To Jack and Rose’s horror, the Doctor turned in a circle several times before plopping cross-legged to the ground. The audience gasped and concern for the Doctor’s sanity was muttered throughout the crowd. He leaned to the side, his hand digging in his pocket, and grinned when he pulled out an apple.
“What’s he doing?” Rose asked, her eyes wide.
“Do something!” Jack yelled.
The ogre approached with the spear hanging loosely in its hand, the metal tip dragging on the ground and leaving a trail of parted soil in its wake. Only when the shadow of the creature fell over him did the Doctor look up. “Oh, sorry, did you want one?” He leaned to the side again and pulled out another apple, wiping it on the sleeve of his coat before holding it out. “Well, go on, then,” the Doctor encouraged.
It lifted the spear, and Jack was halfway under the rope when the apple was pierced and the ogre held the fruit in front of its eye.
“It’s not a banana, but it’ll do,” the Doctor said. The ogre watched the Doctor intently as he slowly ate the fruit.
The ogre looked at the ground then back at the Doctor. “You can sit,” the Doctor offered, gesturing to a spot next to him. The creature was lacking the Doctor’s grace, but it was no less impressive when the ground shook as the ogre plopped on the soil. The entire apple disappeared in the ogre’s mouth; the spear was pulled out between a large gap in its teeth. It munched for several seconds and swallowed, its attention once again focused on the Doctor.
A massive hand closed around the Doctor’s shoulder and nearly pushed him over as the ogre tried to cram several stubby fingers in his pocket.
“Oi! You’re going to rip it!” the Doctor yelled, snatching his coat away.
The ogre actually looked apologetic, and it patted the Doctor’s shoulder, nearly sending him sprawling to the ground.
“You’re hungry,” the Doctor said quietly and handed the ogre an orange.
Jack and Rose watched as the Doctor managed to pull various fruits, vegetables, and a cooked turkey out of his coat, all of which the ogre gobbled up quickly. The audience no longer screamed for bloodshed, most just looked confused and pointed frequently at the strange man with the obvious mental affliction.
The announcer approached warily, keeping as much space as possible between himself and the treacherous beast. “You must finish the challenge,” he ordered.
The Doctor stood gracefully, one hand reaching up to rest on the shoulder of the sitting ogre. “I’ve already completed your challenge.”
The announcer shook his head, pointing with disdain at the ogre. “The beast still lives.”
The same disdain was in the Doctor’s eyes when he looked at the announcer. “My challenge was to rid Ineokajith of this evil. There is no evil here; therefore, I win by default.”
Again, the announcer shook his head, cautiously moving to retrieve the spear. “You must kill it to be victorious.”
“Ah, I see.” The Doctor tapped his lips several times with his finger as if considering the announcer’s instructions. “Well, you should have been more specific. I answered the challenge you issued.”
As the announcer brandished the spear, the ogre clambered to his feet.
“Put that down,” the Doctor ordered, teeth clenched.
The announcer approached the Doctor, holding the spear so the Doctor could take the handle. “You must take it. You have to finish it.”
The ogre bellowed, shoving the Doctor behind him and lumbering dangerously towards the announcer.
“Don’t you see?” the Doctor yelled as he slipped underneath the ogre’s lifted arm and grabbed the spear, breaking it over his knee. “It mirrors your emotions!” He paused, his hand outstretched and splayed over the ogre’s stomach. “It’s all right. No one’s going to hurt you. I promise.”
The announcer backed away quickly, frightened and trembling. “You shared a meal with this beast. Why does it attack now?”
“You want him dead and hate him without cause or reason, and he feels it,” the Doctor replied, attempting to control his anger.
The announcer had moved to the wall of the arena, and he called, “He has killed before.”
“Was that before or after you chained him, after you tried to whip him into submission?”
With raised eyebrows, the announcer said, “You’re defending this monster?”
It would have been a laughable sight if the situation wasn’t so dire: the Doctor standing with his arms crossed over his chest in front of a massive ogre nearly four times his size.
“No one has to die,” the Doctor said quietly, stepping away from the ogre and raising his voice to address the audience. “The people of Ineokajith are known for their hospitality, their friendliness and kindness. Now you want this ogre killed for sport? So you can watch him bleed?” The audience didn’t respond, most looking away, their eyes downcast.
The Doctor shook his head. “No, I won’t allow it.”
The announcer looked at the Doctor curiously. “And if I called the guards, would you still defend him?”
The Doctor straightened, his heavy gaze falling on the announcer, and said, “Yes.”
Rose and Jack were half way across the arena, ready to stand with the Doctor, when the announcer said, “Then I must concede. Your strength was not wrought from weapons, but internally, from your heart. You are victorious in this challenge.”
Moving forward carefully, keeping an eye on the ogre, the announcer whispered to the Doctor, “Is it safe?”
The Doctor patted the ogre’s forearm. “Be mindful of your emotions, but, yes, you’re quite safe.”
“Good,” the announcer replied and reached for the Doctor’s hand, stretching his arm high. “People of Ineokajith, your champion!”
The audience erupted with cheers, people screaming and waved their hands in the air. It might possibly have been louder than the reception Jack received following his victory. The only difference was the crowd was rather leery of pouring into the arena.
A young girl escaped from her mother’s side and ran onto the grass, holding a delicate flower in her dirty hand. The collective gasp was audible as she ran towards the Doctor. She stopped a few paces from him and reached out, offering her battered flower that was now missing most of its petals to the ogre.
The ogre tilted its head to the side, reaching out carefully, its hand nearly covering half of the girl’s arm. He pinched the flower between two stubby fingers and brought it to its nose, inhaling so deeply the flower disappeared and caused the ogre to sneeze. The girl looked up, blinking rapidly, her precious gift now lost. The ogre rubbed the back of its neck, and looked at the Doctor helplessly. Soon, its eye widened as if struck by an idea, and the ogre tried to cram several fingers in the pocket of the Doctor’s coat.
“Oi! We went over this!” the Doctor admonished, pushing the ogre away and reaching into his pocket. He dug around for several seconds before he pulled out a stuffed bear and handed it to the ogre who revealed several stained, chipped teeth as it grinned. The ogre handed the toy to the delighted child who laughed and managed to wrap her tiny arms around the ogre’s knee before trotting away. The girl was lifted into the arms of her mother, who paused to look at the ogre a final time. If anything, the woman was seeing the creature for the first time, her perception forever changed.
“If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you planned that,” Jack said quietly from somewhere behind the Time Lord.
The Doctor turned, his hands now hidden in his pockets, and grinned; looking every bit the champion Ineokajith claimed him to be. “Of course I did! I am clever, after all.”
Rose wrapped her arms around the Doctor, pressing her cheek against his chest as he returned the warm embrace. “You had no idea what you were going to do, did you?”
“Nope, not a clue,” he replied, still grinning. He reached out his arm and grasped Jack’s shoulder, a nod and a wink of understanding was shared. “Oh, I want you to meet someone,” the Doctor said, backing away and gesturing towards the ogre who looked overwhelmed.
“I didn’t ask you your name,” the Doctor said apologetically. “I’m the Doctor and these are my friends, Rose and Jack.”
The ogre pointed to himself and said, “Simon.”
“Simon,” Jack said, reaching out to shake the ogre’s hand, “Captain Jack Harkness. Nice to meet you.”
Simon held perfectly still when Rose placed her hand on his, her entire hand fitting easily in his palm.
“So do we take him home now?” Jack asked, watching as Simon gently touched Rose’s hair and announced it was spun gold.
“He is home. Well, the other side of the planet if we’re going to get technical about it,” the Doctor said.
“Home?” Simon asked eagerly.
“Yeah, we can take you there,” Rose said, gesturing for the Simon to follow her.
Jack started walking next to the Doctor as Simon and Rose walked ahead of them out of the arena. “Are they just going to let us leave with him?” Jack asked, mindful of the curious glances from the crowd.
“Ineokajith follows the ancient rules of combat,” the Doctor replied. “The challenge pitted us against each other, and as the victor, his life belongs to me to do with as I choose. They won’t challenge us.”
“For a pacifist, you seem to know a lot about rules of combat,” Jack said.
“Well, having that knowledge came in handy, hasn’t it?” The change in the Doctor’s tone was noted, and Jack let it drop.
The TARDIS was definitely bigger on the inside, but getting Simon through the door proved to be more of a challenge than the Doctor was expecting. In the end, Simon managed to squeeze his shoulders through and stumble the rest of the way, and in a matter of minutes he squeezed through the door again and walked into a lush forest.
“Thank you,” Simon said gruffly, grasping the Doctor’s shoulder. The Doctor inclined his head in acknowledgment.
They watched him lumber into the forest, a female ogre emerging from the shadows to take Simon’s hand and lead him home.
“Well done,” Rose said, reaching for the Doctor’s hand.
Jack watched the ogres disappear from sight. “Not that I needed a reminder, but traveling with you is –“ He let the sentence hang in the air, opting to reach for the Doctor’s other hand instead.
“Right, that’s finished,” the Doctor said abruptly, leading them back to the TARDIS.
“So where to now?” Rose asked as the Doctor bounding up the stairs to the console.
“Where to?” the Doctor asked, shocked. “We’re going back to the games, of course. About a minute from when we left.”
“You want to go back there?” Jack asked.
After the TARDIS dematerialized, the Doctor said, “Well, you got to savor your victory. Seems only fair that I get to enjoy my reign as the current champion.”
Rose leaned against one of the struts as the TARDIS landed. “But you hate all that – the parties, celebrations, and what not. Normally you’re out the door before anyone can even say thank you.”
“Well, it’s nice to be appreciated once in awhile,” the Doctor replied, walking towards the door.
Rose and Jack shared a private glance that clearly indicated they were going to keep a watchful eye on a certain Time Lord. After leaving the TARDIS, walking into town, and being bombarded by the locals, it became clear that Rose, Jack, and all of the Doctor’s adoring fans were going to be watching him tonight.