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A Case of Friendly Psychopaths and Aviophobia

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 Someone was already sitting there. Oh great. That’s all she needed. To be crammed in with a stranger, right next to the emergency exit. She asked them not to put her next to the emergency exit…

Rose sighed and squared her shoulders, heading towards her seat. She was terribly afraid of flying and the proximity of someone else who was fine with it only made the situation worse. The man who was to be her companion for the next 12 hours seemed nice enough though. He was just a few years older than her, with dark brown hair and nice eyes. His tweed jacket and bowtie were the things that endeared him to her though. She smiled as she took in his appearance, the stranger seemingly unaware of being observed, engrossed in his book. What a strange way to dress. She supposed it was either because he was trying to make a statement or he was just a funny man… Maybe she could ask him to hold her hand if things got really bad.

Rose shook her head and bent down to lift her suitcase, when the man jumped up and offered her a smile and a helping hand.

“Oh no, no, let me. What’s the use of sitting next to someone if they can’t help with your luggage?”

He seemed overenthusiastic and very cheerful, like he was trying to cover up his nervousness. Great, another aviophobic! That will be a lot of help.

“Erm… which seat is yours?” she asked with a polite - and hopefully not too forced - smile.

“The one next to the window. But if you’d like sitting there, you’re welcome to, I don’t mind, I’m fine on the other side too, it’s great both ways with me.”

He seemed to get the whole sentence out in one breath. Seeing the very badly hidden panic on his face, Rose had to fight against the laughter that was building up in her chest. It was clear that out of the two of them, he was the more scared. Well, she might as well pretend to be brave then.

“Sure, I’ll take the window seat.”

She sat down and got out her mp3 player, determined to drown out the sound of the engines and ignore the fact that she was on an airplane as much as she could. The man sitting next to her seemed to have other ideas however.

“I’m the Doctor, by the way.”

Rose raised one eyebrow and contemplated on whether the person sitting next to her was actually sane and just had a better sense of fun than most his age, or was a quiet psycho. She’d rather take the first option.

“The Doctor? What? Don’t you have a first name? Or a last name?”

He looked at her, sombre eyes boring into hers and she felt her breath catch and dizziness overwhelm her. There was something definitely off here… He changed pace so fast all she could do was blink in confusion.

“Listen! This is very important. Very very important! If the purple glove touches the diamond, it all ends. The purple glove must not touch the diamond!” He looked strange, as if he had something more to say, but couldn’t quite catch the thought. He shook his head and stared at her for a moment, not really seeing Rose - just empty eyes bestowing secrets upon the universe.

She edged as far away from him as she could, pressing into the window behind her, bag held out in front, ready to hit him if he tried something. After a moment, he seemed to come to his senses and asked her in a shaky voice, “Do you think we could avoid it?”

“A-avoid what?”

Rose was pressing the flight attendant button madly, but since the plane hadn’t taken off yet, no one seemed to care.

“The glove. What if,” he turned towards her, leaning in, eyes searching hers madly, “what if we painted the glove blue? Would that work? Would it still be the purple glove touching the diamond, waiting underneath all the paint, setting a trap… Or would it then be a blue glove and we’d all be safe again?”

He looked at her expectantly, waiting for her reply.

She took a shuddering breath and judging that he probably wasn’t really dangerous, even if he was mad, lowered her handbag.

“I… I don’t know. What diamond are we talking about?”

“Ah, but see, this is the important question! The glove, not the diamond! Let’s not talk about the diamond, plain old thing. I mean I know it’s .48 carats, but it is still only a jewel! The glove, on the other hand...”

He turned back to her again - for he got up at the beginning of his monologue and started pacing up and down between the seats - and sat down, leaning in so close that his nose was touching hers.

“The… erm… the glove?” Rose knew her voice was high and squeaky, and cringed inwardly as a small smile appeared on his face at the sound of it. Definitely a quiet psycho then.

“No, but you see. You are smart, Rose Tyler!” He pointed his index finger at her and a chill ran down her spine. She opened her mouth to ask him how she knew her name, but he already turned his back and was talking again.

“You must be. How else could you have chosen this flight, at this exact time and this exact place? You knew I was coming, didn’t you?”

Spinning on his heel, he grabbed the edge of her seat, “So tell me. What shall be done with the glove?”

“I don’t understand. How do you know my name? What glove are you talking about? What… where… Just… leave me alone!”

Another half-smile, then a whisper, light as a feather, “No need to pretend. I know you can help me.”

He was clearly mad. Totally bonkers. Rose tried to be nice at first, but by then she was so bewildered she didn’t even think about what she was doing. She just smacked him on the head with her bag. Now it wasn’t very sizeable, barely big enough to fit in a book, her phone and some makeup; but the specific novel Rose brought for her flight happened to be a hardcopy of the fifth Harry Potter book. Which was thick enough to break your nose if you were hit from the wrong angle.

The Doctor fell back with a yell and proceeded to look utterly baffled for a few moments. His nose, thankfully, seemed to be intact.

“O-kay. You’re not the diamond bringer.”

“No I’m not.”

“Okay.”

He got up slowly, holding out his arms in front of him, trying to make sure she didn’t hit him again.

“I’ll… I’ll just go and find her then.”

He turned around and limped away - he must have hit his leg when he fell - and Rose settled back into her seat with a loud sigh. She was just about to close her eyes and put on the headphones when a loud clapping broke out all over the plane. She jumped up and looked around her wildly, trying to spot the cause of the event. The Doctor was bowing and shaking hands with various passengers and someone behind her back was patting her shoulder, saying, “Nice job”.

“What? How? What?!”

The Doctor was walking back towards her a small smile on his face and sat back into the seat next to her.

“Jim Casey,” he held out his hand to her. “I’m an actor.”

Rose’s mouth hang open in shock and it took her a while to find her voice again.

“You’re an actor. That was a… a scene? For a movie?”

“Yes,” he smiled wider. “And you did a brilliant job!”

“Me?”

“Yes, you. The bewilderment on your face! We had to do it with someone who had no idea about the film, you see, otherwise it wouldn’t have been as realistic.” He seemed quite happy with himself - and more importantly, with her - as the crew slowly left the plane and the flight attendants started to check luggage compartments.

“You smacked me though. I mean, what was that for?”

“You were totally bonkers! You could have been a psychopath! For all I knew you could have been a serial killer!”

She stopped abruptly as she noticed his smile widen.

“You liked the smacking too.”

“Well, not the smacking specifically, no. But it turned out to be a really good scene! So it’s all good.”

For a little while they were quiet, both lost in their own thoughts. As the engines roared up, Rose realized that Jim was still sitting next to her though.

“Aren’t you gonna get off?”

“No. I’m going to LA, you see. Filming’s finished in the UK, now it’s just studio work.”

“Oh.”

She really wished she had something more intelligent to say to him, but his previous psychotic episode, coupled with her fear of flying was making her tongue-tied.

“Are you scared of planes?” he asked, his eyes softening.

“Yeah. A bit.”

“I guess me pretending to be a psycho didn’t help then.”

She shrugged and looked down, about to excuse herself from further conversation and put on her headphones, trying to appear as composed as she could manage under the situation, when he held out his hand to her.

“You can hold it if you want. Makes it easier I hear.”

And there was that winning smile again. Rose couldn’t help but grin back, tongue peeking out between her teeth and took his hand gratefully.

“So, um, tell me about that movie of your.”

He launched into a long-winded explanation about the plot and the setting that Rose couldn’t keep up with, but she didn’t mind. His eyes were friendly and reassuring now, his voice soothing for her nerves, and she had the most important thing she could wish for. A hand to hold.