Characters/Pairings: The Tenth Doctor, Martha Jones, Barbara Wright, Original Characters, some Ten/Martha undertones
Word Count: Part One: 3,889
Summary: While trapped in 1969, the Doctor finds employment at the local hospital and gets a lot more than he bargained for.
Disclaimer: The Beeb owns Doctor Who. Coincidentally, the Beeb also owns my soul.
Author's Note: Special thanks to handysparehand for the beta! Written for the theatrical_muse prompt: "You're fired! Talk about a time you lost your job."
Jason was running for his life.
His feet slammed along the corridors of the hospital, the padded shoes making a schwick schwick sound as they connected with slick linoleum. His breathing was labored, coming out in heavy pants that rang in his ears. Those two sounds, along with the loud hum of the florescent lights along the hallways, were the only noises at this late hour. Everyone was dreaming. Dreaming sweet dreams of being well and leaving the hospital grounds. Jason was running through a nightmare.
He'd only been a porter a few months. A good job, his mother had said. Something that would keep him out of trouble. Something that would make the money he needed and be respectable. Unlike his father. No matter what happened, his mother said, he had to not turn into his father.
And he went out, got this job. He wasn't great with the patients, but he wasn't terrible. Carry oxygen tanks, change the sheets, move supplies. He occasionally missed a spill to clean up or forgot a few prescription doses, but the head porter always caught his mistakes in the morning. The hospital head liked Jason. He thought Jason deserved a chance in life. It didn't matter what color his skin was or where his family came from. There weren't a lot of people in London like the head of the hospital, and Jason was grateful to have him as his boss. With that man on his side and his determination, he'd prove everyone else in the world wrong. He even had an appointment with the Chief of Operations. Big things planned.
"I promise, Mum," he said that morning, pulling on the blue uniform and tying on those squeaky shoes. "I'll be good for you. I've got determination."
"That's all you need," his mother had said.
He wished that were true, now. Now he wanted to be good for his Mum. He called her, before the shift nurse snapped at him for not handing out prescriptions on time. He was so excited, then. He wanted to go home and hand her the first paycheck. He wanted to show her he'd make it better. But now, the exit door seemed impossibly far away.
He turned another corridor, ran down a different hallway. He spared himself a glance back. Oh, god. Oh, god, the lights were going out, one at a time. It was getting closer. Jason didn't know what it was, but he knew it was bad. And after what it had done to the patients, to those poor babies, he knew it was out to kill him.
But there! At the end of the corridor was the door to the outside. He could make it. He could dash outside and get to the guard posted at the entrance to the hospital parking lot. He could save everybody here. It was so close now! He could do it!
His squeaky shoes slipped from beneath him and Jason found himself crashing to the floor. And on the floor was a puddle of water, pooling out from the broken water fountain. The nurse had told him to clean that up, but he'd forgotten. Just another thing to add to the list of things the head of the hospital would have to fix in the morning.
Jason looked down his leg to see his knee bent in the wrong direction, bone dislocated. He screamed in alarm at the sudden pain that shot up his side from the injury.
The lights in the hallway flicked out.
The light nearest Jason went out. Jason screamed again, this time in terror.
The light went out.
His screams stopped.
"It can't really be that bad," the Doctor said, glancing over his morning coffee at his companion, Martha Jones.
Martha, dressed in a shop girl's uniform with her hair done up in a neat bun, had been complaining all morning about her job at Latonia's, the local dress shop in town. Since being trapped in 1969 two weeks prior (and here until Sally Sparrow sorted everything out), the Doctor and Martha discovered quickly that they could not survive, even in the economy of 1969, on the contents of their pockets, which were thirty pounds, six sticks of chewing gum, and an old can opener. The only money, of course, coming from Martha's pockets.
The quickest to find a job was Martha, who went straight to work in the small shop on the corner, and was even quicker to start complaining about it. The Doctor had never worked in a shop before, so at first the complaints had been quite interesting. Though, after a while they became routine, something he expected every time she came home.
"It is that bad," Martha complained, crossing her arms in irritation. "The manager's a pig, the customers won't take my advice because of my race, and they constantly berate me in front of customers! And the money! I made more working in my university's bookstore!"
"Maybe you could try doing that again?"
"In 1969? You think they'd let me on campus?" She sighed a little dramatically. The Doctor was still certain she was being very silly about this. A job in the shop had been good enough for Rose, though when he mentioned this to Martha she seemed to go icy with anger.
"Have you found something yet? You know, to help out? I can't pay the rent on what I make now."
"Working on it," the Doctor said, twisting another lever on his timey-wimey machine.
"Seriously, Doctor," Martha's tone was no longer dramatic, it was pleading. "I can't handle much more of this. Not on my own."
The Doctor pulled off his spectacles and regarded her seriously. "Your job won't be any less terrible if I have a steady one, too."
"No, but it'll be better to know I'm not the only one suffering, here. It's the whole of space and time you promised me, not this." Martha grabbed her coat and headed towards the door. "See you later. And find a job!"
The Doctor mock-saluted her as she left. The door slammed behind her, and the tiny flower wall decoration fell to the ground with the impact.
The flat they'd rented really was terrible. One room, a washroom that was no more than a closet, cracked plaster walls and a broken stove that had, until the Doctor waved his sonic over it, been leaking gas. They also had to share one tiny bed that folded down from the wall, a setup that flustered Martha considerably. When the Doctor was sure they'd only be in 1969 a few days, he tried to sit out sleeping until they got back, but eventually he had to squeeze into the bed with her and catch at least a few hours before he collapsed. Martha, awake before he was, seemed to have slept considerably less that night.
It was another year until he'd meet up with himself at UNIT, so if Sally failed him at least they'd have that to fall back on. Until then he'd have to find some sort of employment.
He stood, grabbing his coat. The flowery wall decoration sat on the floor, looking pitiful. He'd have to find employment soon, before Martha went positively bananas. The Doctor generally liked bananas, but not when they were in reference to his normally cool-headed companion's mental status.
The Doctor's first interview of the day was at St. Joseph's Hospital, for the recently vacated position of porter. Since he had to present himself as simply John Smith (because for all his bravado, he still wasn't officially a doctor), he was concerned that he wouldn't manage to pass a background check on anything remotely technical. If they even did background checks in 1969. Did they do them? He really should look it up in the TARDIS when it came back to them, he decided.
Stuffing his hands into his pockets, the Doctor headed down the hall to the office of Raymond Moore, head of the hospital. Mr. Moore was a tall, bulky man with a close-cropped haircut and strikingly blue eyes. He looked tired, aggravated, and generally unpleasant. However, when seeing the Doctor approach, the man's grimace turned into a wide smile.
"John Smith?" he asked, brightly.
"That's me," the Doctor replied, extending a hand. Blimey, he hated interviews. This was the part where he usually did something ridiculously wrong. Either he said something wrong, or looked wrong to the interviewer, or something along those lines. Martha was better with people, and that was how she got her job so quickly, the Doctor figured.
"I'm Raymond Moore," Moore said, taking the Doctor's hand and shaking it. "You're looking for our recently vacated position?"
"Well, I'd hope so. Wouldn't be much point being here otherwise," the Doctor replied with a nod. "Unless I was sick, which I'm not. Well, I don't think I am. Haven't properly checked in a while and that was sort of rude, wasn't it? I'm not...I don't usually act rude, it just sometimes comes out this way."
The Doctor bit his lip and tried a charming smile. Moore was undeterred and, in fact, laughed. Well, that was certainly relieving. The man had a sense of humor.
"Well, after what happened with our last employee, we're going to need the position filled right away, you can start tonight, if you'd like," Moore said.
The Doctor beamed. Oh, brilliant! That was the best interview yet! All he had to do was say who he was and that he was here for the position and---
"Wait a minute," he asked. "What happened to the last employee?"
Moore sighed and shook his head. "Didn't run a proper background check on my last porter. Ran off in the middle of the night, looks like he smothered a few patients, too. His father was a hardened criminal, I should've seen this coming."
"Horrid," the Doctor said, very seriously. He had, secretly, hoped to not suffer a single death while trapped here. Apparently that wasn't going to be the case.
Then, a thought struck him. "You're...not planning on running a background check on me, are you?"
To the Doctor's surprise, Moore's smile only seemed to widen. "Heavens, no. We need the spot filled immediately. Just promise me that you haven't got any horrid criminals in your family."
Only myself, the Doctor thought, though he crossed over his right heart. "Cross my heart."
Moore shook the Doctor's hand, handed him his bright pink uniform (salmon Moore had said emphatically), and told him to come back to the hospital in a few hours for his late night shift. It only struck the Doctor as he was leaving how really strange it was. If he were head of the hospital and he'd just had a horrid murder at his hospital due to lack of a background check, he certainly wouldn't be so blasé about the whole situation.
Still, at least the Doctor was employed. That was something. And if he happened to take a look into the deaths, well, that would all be part of the job.
The Doctor stopped off at Latonia's on his way back to the flat. The shop reminded the Doctor of where they'd been living. Small, run down, and rather unpleasant. The walls were lined with drab-colored dresses that reminded him of something Susan wore to school. Considering the time period and the out-of-date nature of this shop, they actually could've been something his granddaughter wore to school. Still, it wasn't bad. He liked a little shop, after all.
The Doctor weaved his way past colored displays towards where Martha stood, arms crossed, talking to a tall, dark-haired woman with a hooked nose and a plump blonde woman with lipstick drawn in such a way around her mouth that the Doctor could only imagine was meant to make her lips look larger but instead made her look like a clown. They appeared to be in some sort of an argument. Was this what Martha had been complaining about before? Something about rotten customers?
"And I don't know why you bother hiring girls like her, Bernice, I just don't know," the blonde woman was saying, sniffing loudly.
"I don't know what I was thinking, Amanda," the hook-nosed woman replied. "Clearly some sort of fault on my part. I thought she was educated."
"I am educated," Martha snapped through gritted teeth, clearly trying to keep her temper despite the situation.
"Colored women, especially single colored women at her age, Bernice, they're never educated. They'll only end up marrying punks," Amanada replied. "And she tries to tell me what size dress I should wear!"
"I was only saying that you can't fit into that size! I wasn't trying to be rude!"
"You shut up, you dirty brat!"
The Doctor slid up smoothly, a wide grin on his face. "Sorry, ladies, don't mean to disrupt anything here."
"No disruptions," the hook-nosed woman replied with an immediate bright smile. "I was simply discussing customer relations with my employee."
Martha looked positively mortified, a look which only increased as the Doctor slipped an arm around her waist and kissed her on the cheek.
"Well, won't keep you then, darling. Just wanted to let you know I'll be at the hospital late tonight, ended up on the late shift. Don't wait up."
"At the hospital?" Martha inquired, trying not too mirror the shocked looks on her employer and customer's faces.
"Yeah, you know how it is. Doctor and all that."
"Indeed I do," Martha said, her lips twitching into a smirk.
"So, have fun today. Have they given you that raise yet? Would you like me to talk to the owner? I know you don't need this job, can't have you working too hard." He grinned at the other women, and then sniffed as he looked at the blonde. "You know," he said to her, "You've got something on your face, right here." He made a gesture around his mouth, then turned and walked off, to Martha's laughter and the blonde woman's disgusted sound.
"Well, I never! What would a man like that want with someone like you!"
"At least I know how to apply my make-up," Martha retorted, crossing her arms defiantly.
"I think we should discuss this off of the business room floor," her employer said, and the Doctor grinned. At least that would be one less thing for Martha to have to complain about.
"Mr. Moore?" Malika, the night shift nurse, poked her head into the hospital head's office. "Mr. Moore?"
Malika was a short Indian woman and her education often fell short in this society due to her heavy accent. It took her ages to find a job in London, and at the time she'd only been too grateful to start up at St. John's. Now...well, now she wasn't too sure. If only there were more opportunities in her own country. If only there were more opportunities anywhere. Still, it didn't matter. She was stuck where she was now. And now was the mouth of the lion's den.
She hated Mr. Moore more than any other person at this hospital. He was the one who hired her, and he was the first to turn on her. And now that she knew what his wrath felt like (and she had the bruises to prove it), she knew what was coming.
"What is it?" Mr. Moore barked at her from where he sat behind his desk.
"Sir, I found some information about a few of Jason's patients," she held up the charts as she stepped in.
"Who?" Mr. Moore asked, glowering at her with those piercing eyes. When she'd first met him, Malika had thought his eyes were very pretty, like slices of sapphires or cool blue water on a blistering day. Now, those eyes reminded her of blue-hot flame, or the turning of water in a torrential downpour.
"Jason, sir. The porter who vanished," she said. Mr. Moore liked it when she called him "Sir", a fact which disgusted her. If she wanted to be a serving girl, she'd have stayed back at home. At least there she didn't have to suffer the barrage of insults she did here.
"Oh, yes, him," Mr. Moore nodded. "I thought that case was closed and the patients' families were informed."
"They were, Sir."
"So why're you bringing this up again, Paki-pomp?" The mockery was a bastardization of her actual last name, Parkipo. The name made Malika cringe and her reaction made Mr. Moore grin wider.
"I was simply trying to close the final few charts and I---"
"Just close them."
"But, sir, I---"
"Maybe you didn't hear me." Mr. Moore stood and backhanded the nurse across the face. She stumbled back, hitting the side wall with a loud smack.
She cowered, and then bent to pick up the charts that had flown across the floor.
"Close the charts, Paki-pomp. Just do it, and quit trying to think outside of the box I've given you, got it?"
"Yes, sir," Malika said. She turned and left the room without looking back. She didn't want to see those eyes.
Mr. Moore reached down and picked up the receiver on the phone. "Sir?" he said. "I think we have a problem."
The uniform fit awkwardly. The Doctor couldn't decide if it was because it fit, unlike his tight suit, or because it was made of some rough cotton-y material that was simply not made for frequent wear, or because it was such a disgusting shade of pink. He couldn't imagine why he'd ever liked the color pink during his sixth incarnation. Something to do with how terribly wrong the whole incarnation ended up, he was sure.
All the same, he struggled to smooth down his unruly hair, and then headed towards the hospital. Strangely enough, no one in the hospital seemed even remotely surprised by his pink attire nor the state of his hair. Most were busy running from hospital room to hospital room, or working with some patient or other. The bustle of activity, that was something the Doctor liked.
"Hello," a short, pretty woman with dark skin said as she stepped up to meet him. "You must be John." Her voice was heavily accented, even with the TARDIS translator, and she sounded vaguely annoyed by his presence.
"Yep, that's me," the Doctor said, extending a hand. "What's your name?"
She took the proffered hand with a surprised look. "Malika. I'm a nurse here."
"Nurse! Brilliant! I've known a few brilliant nurses in my time. Never met a nurse I didn't like. No, not true. But on a whole they've been fantastic. Well, when I say 'on a whole', I mean as long as they aren't cats." Beat. "I'll be reporting to you, then?" When in doubt, the Doctor rambled. It either put someone at ease or confused them. Or both.
In Malika's case, it appeared to confuse her. "No, you'll be working directly under Mr. Moore. I'm only to supervise over medical procedures and I spend a majority of my time in the operating theatre."
The Doctor's eyebrows knitted together. "Wait a minute, I only report to you then? You've more medical training than I do." He thought a moment, then added: "Ma'am."
Malika looked genuinely surprised for another moment, then smiled thinly at him. "There's no need to mock me, sir. I'm only here to assist."
"Mock?" Blimey, the Doctor was terrible at this whole job business. He didn't even know when to be polite to anyone. He immediately wished Martha was there.
Malika shook her head, and then led the way down the hall, several charts in hand. She handed the first to him, Vorhile, Robert. Age: Seven days. Also in hospital was Vorhile, Lani, with her hospital room number listed. The Doctor flipped the chart over and saw that the mother's chart was directly beneath it, she was also on his rotation.
"You'll be taking Jason's old shifts. You have to administer medications to the children and their mothers at the set times. Do not waver from the set times, I don't care what Mr. Moore tries to tell you. They must be medicated at---"
The Doctor butted in. "Am I on the maternity ward?" he asked. "These are all children and mothers."
"Did you think you were given the salmon uniform for no reason?" Malika asked, crossing her arms.
"Thought they went well with my eyes."
Despite her crossed arms and irritated pose, Malika cracked a grin at that comment. At least the Doctor was winning her over somewhat.
"You're taking Jason's old shift. He's the porter that---"
"Vanished, yes, I know," the Doctor said with a nod. "Blimey, though. Didn't realize it was children that he---"
He looked back to Malika, ready to change the subject, but the expression on her face was strange. It wasn't grieving, it wasn't anger, it was more utter disappointment.
"Something wrong?" he asked.
"Jason didn't kill those children," Malika said, quietly but firmly. "I've tried to tell Mr. Moore about it, but he won't listen to me."
"How do you know?" the Doctor asked.
Malika looked back to him, then turned and headed behind the nurse's station. She pulled out several long lines of an old EKG machine, a heart monitor.
"Two of our babies were hooked to heart monitors. And the heart monitors show that the hearts sped up---" she gestured to several wild scribbles on the paper, "---then stopped around 12:45am. The other baby died at 12:40."
"So?" the Doctor asked. He pulled his spectacles out of his breast pocket and pushed them onto his face. The heart rate speeding up didn't match with what he would've expected from a smothering victim. More a person suffering great physical pain or trauma. It made his stomach churn, thinking that a child so young would be inflicted with such pain.
"So Jason was on the phone with his mother at 12:45," Malika said. "I saw him as I was leaving and scolded him for forgetting to give medicine to the mothers. I don't know why he ran off, but he couldn't have killed these two children."
"So the question is..." the Doctor began.
"Who did?" Malika finished, nodding.
"No, the question is why won't Mr. Moore let you show him this information?" the Doctor said, pulling off his spectacles and stuffing them in his pocket. "This redeems a man, makes him a possible victim."
As if on cue, Mr. Moore walked past them down the hallway towards the stairs. The stairs, the Doctor had been told earlier, led up to where the other heads of the hospital resided. Why they deserved an entire floor to themselves was something the staff didn't question.
Malika sighed. "I beg your pardon, Mr. Smith, but a good deal of the staff here are not quite so...understanding as you in regards to aliens."
"Foreign aliens," Malika reiterated. "From another country."
The Doctor snorted. "I'm fairly understanding when it comes to aliens, yeah, just a bit. But I don't think that's the reason." He gave her a little smile. "Why don't you show me around a little later? While he's out you might show me around Mr. Moore's office?"
Malika grinned. "I think I'm going to like working with you."
To be continued...