Their sudden absence made her blink awake. The TARDIS was perfectly still and completely quiet. The TARDIS wasn't in flight, which usually meant they'd landed somewhere.
That usually meant they'd landed!
She leapt from her bed and tugged on a pair of jeans and a top. There was no way she was sleeping through a new place and there was no way she was going to let the Doctor run off without her! He was always doing that; not telling her things and running off and doing things without her. It was enough to make a girl think she wasn't wanted. She didn't like thinking that.
The lights in the hallway as Martha headed towards the console were off. Even with her red leather jacket on, it was still cold throughout the corridors. The TARDIS wasn't just sitting there, parked. It seemed almost as if the TARDIS was off.
She was used to it being darker, even a little colder, at night. The TARDIS, Martha figured, worked along the Doctor's limited sleep schedule. That whole symbiotic thing he mentioned once. But this was more than just a sleepy TARDIS. What could it be? The Doctor would've woken her if something went wrong. Exotic messages and trips to Metabilis Three? Oh, she could sleep through those. But if the TARDIS was about to go out, well, he'd have told her.
"Doctor!" she called. He had to be in the console room. Had to be trying to put life back into the TARDIS, yeah?
No, no. There was light coming from inside the console. Very faint, but it was definitely there. But the Doctor was nowhere to be seen. Not even his feet poking out from the grates.
"Doctor?" There was no response, except perhaps the temperature of the room dropping very slightly. Martha tugged her jacket tighter around her and headed for the door. It was open just a bit, and while there was mostly darkness outside, she could see a few very faint lights. They looked like…
Table lamps. In fact, they were table lamps, lined up along a display in what appeared to be a furniture store. Martha stepped out onto the plush carpet and looked around in confusion. The TARDIS was parked in the display room of a furniture store. As a matter of fact, it looked like the furniture store two blocks over from her flat, where she bought her desk.
Well, that was disappointing. She was hoping for a furniture store in the future, at least.
All the lights in the store, save for the emergency lights and the display lamps, were out. The store was obviously closed. There was a constant mantra of What are we doing here? drumming through her head as she walked past the lamp display to the elaborate room of couches. Each was set up with a coffee table and throw rug to give the impression of a living room, if people had no taste or time to actually decorate a living room.
Martha passed an exceptionally tasteless checkered-couch display and turned right at the black leather sofa display. Her hand involuntarily slid along the surface of the black leather as she passed the back of one of the sofas, letting the cold material brush her fingertips.
To her shock, the couch let out a loud, irritable groan.
Martha just barely managed to keep in a scream at the sound. A living couch! A living couch in a furniture store on Bruswire street! A living---
No, no, it wasn't a living couch, but there was a person on the couch, tossing and turning on it. Martha circled around the side of the sofa to see who might be on it.
"Martha?" The Doctor lay on the couch, in his blue suit, with a red blanket tossed over him. His hair was in more disarray than usual and…in fact…it looked like he was trying to sleep there.
"What are you doing out here?" she asked. "Where are we?"
The Doctor stood, sighed, and picked up his blanket. "We're at the furniture store not far from your flat," he said. "And I'm trying to sleep."
Score two for Martha Jones.
He dropped down onto a plush beige couch and covered himself with the blanket again. There was no way he was getting to sleep, Martha figured. He looked too distressed. Not to mention furious. What was he mad ab---wait, no, she decided to ask him.
"What are you angry about?"
"Angry! Angry! I'm not angry!" he all but shouted, hopping off the beige sofa and moving to a bright red modern one. "Ooooh, I pity the husband whose wife picks this one out. Whole night on this thing and my back'll never be the same."
"Why are we here?" Martha put her hands on her hips and watched him hop from sofa to sofa. He looked rather ridiculous but, really, that was sort of a normal thing for the Doctor.
"I need somewhere to sleep."
"Don't you have a bedroom in the TARDIS?"
"Yes!" Was he shouting at her? What? What was going on?
"Then go back into the TARDIS!" Martha barked, pointing at the open blue box.
"Absolutely not!" The Doctor spring boarded off the sofa and onto his feet, where he put his hands on his hips in an identical fashion to Martha. He pointed at the TARDIS. "That ship is the reason I'm out here!"
"What?" Well, it was a rather good expression. Martha could see why the Doctor preferred it.
The Doctor began to pace back and forth between the settee and the L-shaped leather reclining unit. He ran a hand over his hair---as it appeared he had done many, many times prior---and sighed. It reminded Martha of when she'd be the listening post to her father and mother during one of their fights.
"The TARDIS just won't listen to me," he said. Yep, definitely sounded like her father complaining about Mum. Which was absurd, he was talking about the big blue box sitting over by the lamp displays!
"You're having a spat with your time ship." Martha couldn't have been less impressed if she tried.
"She's not just a time ship!" he said, "She's my TARDIS! A living organism attached to me symbiotically. Which makes for awkward and in this case frustrating conversation."
"You're having a spat with your time ship."
She dropped onto the settee. "Right, all right! I'll play therapist between you and the wood box." She crossed her legs and placed her hands in her lap. "Right, so, tell me why you're mad at the TARDIS."
"She won't listen to me!" Again with the hair rubbing.
"Yeah, Mr. Smith, got that. How will the big blue box that doesn't talk not listen to you?"
He groaned loudly and dropped onto the leather sofa, spreading out his arms and legs and looking positively exhausted. He didn't sleep often, but he really looked like he could use a few hours. Martha felt a pang of worry for him, but she pushed it down in favor of being a therapist. Sort of. Ish. It could work for the Doctor and the TARDIS, at least.
"You ever get to that point where you're absolutely positively certain you can complete a task and then you just can't?" he asked. He leaned forward and put his elbows to his knees.
"Yeah, s'how I feel about my exams."
"Yes, right, exactly, your exams!" he nodded. "It's that way with me and the TARDIS. The TARDIS has been broken…well, not exactly broken, but in some sort of disrepair pretty much since I picked her up."
She nodded. "You're always repairing something."
"Exactly. And now? Right now? I've fixed everything."
"Everything! Every rotary couplink that needed repairing, every coil that needed replacing is done. All that time we spent waiting for the Zerefarians to pass us. Got almost all of my repairs done." He leaned back, looking quite pleased with himself.
He stood again, all pleasure replaced with irritation. He pointed at the TARDIS again. "Everything except that!"
"The TARDIS itself?"
"No, the police box!"
He turned back to Martha and sighed. "No, the chameleon circuit. It's supposed to make the TARDIS blend in. Like turn into a lamp or a couch or something if we landed here. When I landed in 1963 some 600 years ago, it got stuck. I've reprogrammed it twice; it won't budge from being a police box."
Martha crossed her arms. "So the TARDIS doesn't want it to work."
"Exactly! Ruin my moment of perfection all for vanity!" He all but growled back at the ship, which sat in the lamps and…Martha could almost swear it was scowling. She was going mad, spending as much time with the Doctor as she did.
"That's not very nice, Doctor."
"I know it's not very nice! It's not very nice for her to be so stubborn!" He threw his hands up in the air. "She's gone off and turned off most of her engines, everything but life support! Throwing a proper temper tantrum, she is. All because I want to fix her!"
"I thought you liked the TARDIS being a police box," she said. She'd grown rather fond of the thing herself. It made it very easy to find the TARDIS when they parked, at least. No car was quite as tall and wooden and…well, blue.
"I do," the Doctor said. "But that's not the point! The point is I could have everything in the TARDIS fixed. All my work in her would be completely complete!"
Martha nodded. "Yeah, but then why would she need you?"
"I mean, if all of your repairs are done, then she wouldn't really need you around to fix her." She tilted her head to the side. "And if the TARDIS is as real and symbiotic and loving as you say, maybe she doesn't want you to no longer have a purpose."
The Doctor's jaw dropped and he stood there, staring at her.
She shook her head. "Men." She stood and headed back for the TARDIS. "I'm gonna get some rest, you should, too." She went back inside.
After a moment, she stuck her head back outside. "And quit not telling me when we land! I'd have liked to have a go at Metabilis Three!"
She went back to her room and shut the door. The TARDIS had turned on the lights around her door and she could almost swear it was only warmer where she was. Funny. This kept up, she'd start believing the Doctor when he said the TARDIS was alive.
It was a few hours later that she felt the familiar hum of the TARDIS engines lull her to sleep. And, while she could've been crazy, she almost swore she heard the Doctor apologizing to the TARDIS.
That had to have been her imagination. The Doctor never apologized to anybody.
Muse: The Doctor (Ten)
Fandom: Doctor Who
Word Count: 1,879