Author's Notes:
Summary: First, the Doctor deals with her own problem

She follows the winding hallway, using her psychic senses more than any other means of discerning direction. There’s a Time Lord mind, just on the edges of her perception. She can only sense it at all because she is searching for one.

The lights are dimmer here and flickering, this part of the building falling into disrepair and disuse. The Doctor doesn’t bother to keep to the shadows, instead moving quickly down the very centre of the hallway, daring anyone to get in her way.

Her sonic is already in hand when she reaches a door on the extreme edge of the building. There’s only one fluorescent strip light casting an orange-y glow, painting the windowless hall in tiger stripes. The door she’s aiming for is ajar and there are angry voices coming from beyond it.

The Doctor’s instinct is to make her way straight into the room, deal with this problem as quickly as possible, and get back to Jack and her other self, but the knowledge of another Time Lord makes her hesitate in the doorway. She wants to know who it is before she reveals herself.

It’s little more than a storage room, down to the chipped number and old fashioned catch on the Doctor’s side of the door, and piled high with broken chairs and cracked screens, twins to those in the main room downstairs. It isn’t as dark as the hallway outside, not because it is in better repair, but because someone has fixed fat, dripping candles to every available surface. There are two tall lamps with multi coloured glass globes full of light in each corner.

They serve to throw the room into sharp relief, and rundown and ramshackle as it is, it is clean. Her eyes latch onto a large pile of comfortable looking, even luxurious, bedding rolled in a corner. Someone is living in this room.

Her attention though is held, not by the incongruities of the space, but by the figures within.

The one facing the door is obviously a Time Lord. This close, the presence that was before only on the edge of the Doctor’s awareness, is almost over powering, a swirling mass of silver-greys so that the mind feels like storm clouds full of thunder and blades and bismuth metal, charred dark. Her thoughts are fathomless and shot through with threads of red and orange and gold. A firelike fury that only her fearsome will keeps contained. It’s a new regeneration, but the Doctor could never forget the shape of those thoughts, patterned like Damascus steel. This regeneration is young, and looks as sharp as the knives the thoughts feel like. She has high cheekbones and furious looking eyes that crackle with the fire that burns the Doctor, as her lowered awareness brushes over those once familiar thoughts. She is wearing a black wraparound and high, many buckled boots this time around, instead of the important looking power suits or practical work clothes she had worn in the past. Her huge quantities of hair are held back from her face with a complicated looking system of black bands.

What is the Rani doing here?

And why, the Doctor notices with a sudden bolt of alarm that causes both of her hearts to skip a beat, is she facing another figure that she recognises?

This one is unforgettable and unchanged, unaged even: slim, gymnast’s frame and blonde hair identical to the last time the Doctor saw her. It crosses the Doctor’s mind that they share a family resemblance now.

Jenny stands in the centre of the room, hip cocked and full of a conviction that the Doctor recognises, still dressed in muted olive military tones. She looks confident and strong and the Doctor feels her hearts swell.

She doesn’t enter the room. Doesn’t want Jenny to feel like she’s taking over in part, but Jenny is also twirling a small remote of some kind in her hand with a studied indifference. Its chrome edges catch the light. She’s obviously worked hard for this moment, and the Doctor doesn’t dare distract her. The Rani is a master at taking advantage of tiny distractions. She doesn’t dare leave either though.

That conviction is familiar to the Doctor, and she knows, she hopes, that she still does have an immovable faith in some absolute rightness, but Jenny’s posture speaks of youth and strength too and it’s been a long time since the Doctor felt that. She knows the consequences of feeling that.

So she lingers where she is, just out of sight, to be certain that the Rani has no opportunity to teach those consequences to Jenny.

She deserves to keep her conviction for a little longer.

“Nothing I’m doing here is illegal,” the Rani is saying archly. “The Shadow Proclamation doesn't care how I choose to play the stock market, as long as my techniques are non lethal and I’m not causing harm to anyone.”

“Just taking advantage of it.”

“Not my fault if timelines are rearranging themselves. Like I said, I’m well within my rights.”

“Arms dealing is frowned upon.”

The Rani raises an elegant eyebrow. “Arms dealing? Who said anything about arms dealing? Sounds tacky to me.”

“You’ve bought every remaining share in the Villengard Consortium. The only thing of value they ever had was the Villengard Factory. Those shares are worth nothing, but if that factory just...sprung back into being, you’d have all the Galactic Credits you could spend.”

The Rani makes a show of looking around in boredom. “Yes. This is my plan, I know how it works.”

“No point in owning a weapons factory if you’re not going to take advantage of it.”

She shrugs. “Prove it!”

“I can’t, and you know it. But we both know whose timeline is disintegrating to bring that factory back. And if he stops, if all his deeds are removed from time,” her breath hitches and the Doctor inches forward a step. She does love a good entrance and few lines are as perfect as that.

The Rani shifts forward too with Jenny’s fractional change in focus and Jenny is forced to dance back a step.

The Doctor freezes again. She’s lived through this moment with any number of villains any number of times. She wouldn’t have appreciated an intrusion. Besides, Jenny is like her. Is her. She would not have appreciated her dad striding in and taking over her moment of thwarting a nefarious plan. She raises the screwdriver though, ready to blow out one of the lights to give Jenny a moment without the Rani’s eyes on her if needed.

“...If all his deeds were removed from time, you’d have endless war across the stars to supply guns to!”

“As though I care about paltry trade. But the universe will become a petri dish for my experiments in chaos theory.”

Jenny’s shoulders roll, confidence mutating to smugness. She holds up the box. “Not without this. Timeline reader, isn’t it?”

She’s going to destroy it. The Doctor senses it, and the Rani must too, because throwing caution to the wind she leaps for Jenny. It does her no good.

Jenny isn’t armed, the Doctor feels, if possible, even more proud, but she is prepared with an electromagnet. The thing pops and sparks and the Rani howls. Jenny throws the useless remnants of the control at the Rani. Those perfect soldier reflexes make her aim true and it bounces right off the centre of her forehead. “Guess you’ll need to gamble on your stocks, same as everyone else.”

It doesn’t even slow the Rani down and Jenny, having wasted a crucial second on sarcasm, is a fraction too slow.

The Doctor uses her sonic, a high, whining sound, beyond human, beyond even Time Lord, hearing shakes the room. The resonating note is such that it only takes a second. With a sound like a minor musical explosion, the glass globes shatter and the light shuts off.

The Rani yelps and pulls back, instinctively shielding her face from the flying glass. Both of the women are thrown into the soft focus of candlelight. It plays the tricks the Doctor has often relied on with improbably lengthened shadows and distance. Jenny twists sideways and heads for the door like an eel, body straight as a professional runner’s.

The Doctor would love to catch her in a hug, spin her around and tell her how brilliant she is, how good and brave and clever. How she is everything she could have ever wanted a child of hers to be. How she learned the most important lesson the Doctor had to teach her in exactly the way the Doctor wanted her to.

She’d like to say sorry for not protecting her on Messaline. How he would have done anything to have taken the bullet in her stead.

But Jenny doesn’t have time.

She has only a second of distraction before the Rani is after her. Indeed, even as she rounds the first corner, the Rani appears in the open doorway. The Doctor is prepared to trip her, to buy Jenny another second, but the Rani has always been concerned with her dignity and the loss has already occured. The Rani has too much pride to chase her.

Instead she stops in the doorway, and the presence that had been overwhelming before is suffocating now, almost enough to drive the Doctor to the ground, certainly enough to push her back against the wall, scrambling to reassemble her barriers.

“Go on then!” The Rani screams, hoarse and animalistic sounding with rage. “Run! Your precious Doctor will be gone from the universe in 16 days, and you along with him, brat! The latest regeneration will disappear in 4 days and then one each day. And HE’LL BE GONE!!”

“She, actually, nowadays,” the Doctor says, stepping into the hallway fully. She pushes the Rani back, slams the door, and locks it. It won’t hold her forever, but it will give her a few moments.

The Doctor spins on her heel and hares down the hallway. She longs to follow Jenny, but she takes the left turning, and goes after Jack.