Characters/Pairings: The Tenth Doctor, Martha Jones, Barbara Wright, Original Characters, some Ten/Martha undertones
Word Count: Part Two: 4,873
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 whack_a_muse prompt: "096 - Sleeping Beauty."
Part One is here.
Mr. Moore's office was impossibly easy to break into. Not just because the Doctor had thought to bring his sonic screwdriver with him on this little job expedition, but also because of the location, tucked away in a side pocket of the hospital. He gave it a wave over the lock and turned the knob with a loud click.
"What is that?" Malika asked with a sharp whisper.
"Sonic screwdriver," the Doctor replied.
"A what?" Malika shook her head.
"Latest technology out of America," the Doctor covered up, quickly. He didn't have the ability to run this time around, he had to keep this job and keep himself under the radar, even as he looked for more answers. He immediately rushed towards the desk and began rummaging through the papers on it.
"And where would you get something like that? The way Mr. Moore described you I thought you were technically uneducated and only marginally more capable of being an porter than Jason." Malika tentatively followed, keeping her head halfway out the door in order to watch for Mr. Moore. "Come to think of it, all of the people he's hired for that ward have been below qualifications. Even the doctors."
The Doctor flipped a few papers over, comparing the numbers on them. "What sort of a porter was Jason? The impression I got was that he was unstable, something about his father."
"Oh, Jason was terrible at his job, but not because of his father," Malika said. "He was a daydreamer. Always dreaming about taking his mother away from her flat in Powell Estates. His father had been arrested some time ago and he never wanted to be like him, ever. He was flighty and absent-minded, but he wasn’t a killer."
"Sounds like you knew him pretty well," the Doctor commented.
Looking a little embarrassed, Malika's cheeks flushed. "He was a good man. Foolish, but he didn't mean any harm."
"And no work experience," the Doctor commented.
He held up a piece of paper. "Here. Two piles of resumes. His is underneath mine. Funny, though, these don't look like the sort of people with qualifications to work in a medical field. Not even mine, really. But the ones who do..." He gestured to another pile, sitting in a tray marked 'RUBBISH'.
"Why would Mr. Moore purposefully hire people who don't know anything about medicine?" Malika asked. "They're more likely to hurt someone. No offense," she added.
"None taken," the Doctor replied. "But hiring people to work closely with patients that don't really know how to read when things are wrong..." He glanced up at Malika. "Who hired you?"
"Mr. Moore did, six years ago," Malika said. "That was back when things were running very smoothly here, before the new COO took over."
"New Chief of Operations?"
"Yes, about a year ago. A whole group of them taking over the head positions," Malika said. "The wing of the upstairs lab was removed for their offices to be expanded. Now they stay up on the whole upper floor of the hospital. They took away the office managers and pretty much set Mr. Moore in charge of everything. Hiring, firing, talking to the public..."
"Wonder how much of a raise that really was," the Doctor murmured. "Has anyone actually seen these new heads?"
"No, they stay upstairs." Malika shook her head. "Come to think of it, I've never seen them. Not even at the hospital Christmas party."
The Doctor opened his mouth to reply when a familiar male voice came from down the corridor.
"And you tell that new porter that he's not to miss a single prescription dose! I had to follow after that idiot Jason for long enough---"
The Doctor darted towards a closet and gestured for Malika to follow him. Together they squeezed themselves in and shut the door, leaving only a tiny crack so they could look into the cramped office. Malika, shorter than the Doctor, curled up under his arm while he peered through the gap.
Moore---who stood even taller than the Doctor remembered him---stepped into the office and stared at the door, then looked outside it. Inwardly, the Doctor swore. He hadn't had enough time to shut the door, much less lock it. Without any hesitation, Moore walked over to the desk and pulled out a ring of keys from his pocket. He unlocked the top drawer and pulled out a red phone.
Always red phones, the Doctor thought. They couldn't pick a less conspicuous color, could they?
"Hello. It's Moore. My office has been broken into. It's got to be that Indian bird, she's been causing all sorts of problems, as I said before. Yes. Right. You're right, of course. Bit like a cancer, should cut it out before it spreads. Once he's ready, we'll have John do it." With that, he hung up the phone and turned on heel towards the door.
Moore stopped, then turned around and headed towards the closet. The Doctor held his breath and Malika buried herself into his side. Moore reached out and plucked the coat from the hook on the opposite side of the door. He turned again and headed out of the room, locking it behind himself.
The Doctor let out his breath of air in a relieved sigh. Malika released him instantly, looking terribly embarrassed. They moved from the closet and the Doctor headed for the door.
"What did he mean?" Malika hissed. "Cutting out the cancer?"
"And who's this John he's going to get to do it?" the Doctor agreed, unlocking the door and poking his head out to make sure the coast was clear.
"That's you, don't be silly. There aren't any other Johns on our payroll."
Oh, right. "Then I'd like to know why he thinks I'm going to cut you out of any situation." He gestured for Malika to follow him out, then spun around and locked the door behind them with a wave of his screwdriver.
"What do we do now?" Malika asked.
"Now? We get to work. Can't cause any sort of trouble until the bossman leaves." He gave Malika a look. "Don't you know that's how it works at a proper job?"
"A proper job?"
"Or, at least, this job."
The Doctor was surprised to find that working as an porter in a hospital was absolutely, positively dull. All the exciting things happened to doctors and nurses, darting into and out of ER rooms and delivery wards. Orderlies cleaned up messes, carried things from one area of the hospital to another, changed bedpans, and handed out medicine. Boring and, at times, dreadfully disgusting.
Malika kept side-by-side with the Doctor for most of the day, showing him around and giving him tips on how to get his job done while he tossed out theories as to what was going on with Moore and the COOs.
"They're clearly working together," the Doctor had said. "Or, at least, he's working for them. Why, that's the big, all-important question."
"And you think we can't just go confront them?"
"Whoever they are, they're strong enough to make this Jason bloke disappear and kill all of those children in a matter of minutes. They'd make short work of us if we just went barging. And besides, they'll fire me if I go in without proof. Can't lose this job, my flatmate'll kill me."
Moore was working the late shift and although he threw a coat on, he'd not left the hospital since discovering his office had been broken in. The Doctor and Malika decided to continue working tonight and to head upstairs tomorrow morning, after Moore had gone home. It would be better to confront one monster at a time. Before then, they'd meet up at the Doctor and Martha's place the following afternoon and they'd fill in his companion on the developments. He just hoped Martha had the day off.
Malika headed into an operating theater and the Doctor made his rounds to the expectant mothers, trays of vitamins and painkillers for each of them. Before turning into the hall, the Doctor examined the big, white pills tossed into several of the cups. They didn't look like anything he recognized.
He glanced behind himself, then slipped on his spectacles and waved the sonic over one of the pills. His eyes went wide. Oh, but that did explain a lot, and the Doctor and Malika wouldn't be able to handle this on their own.
"Everything all right there, John?"
The Doctor practically leapt out of his skin to hear the voice of Moore suddenly behind him. He spun around, keeping his sonic behind his back.
"Yep. Just fine. Counting to make sure there are enough pills in each of these...little paper cup things." The Doctor held up the cup as proof, grinning as widely and as stupidly as he could.
Moore nodded, content in the Doctor's false stupidity. "Make sure you give the mothers everything they need, then check on the children. Can't have anyone in there between 3 and 4, that's their private testing time."
"Private testing time?" the Doctor asked. "But that doesn't make---"
"It makes perfect sense, Mr. Smith. Come now, John, we both know you're not really technically qualified to understand these things."
"Of course. I'll make sure it's safe there." The Doctor gave Moore a huge grin, as big and as stupid as he could manage.
Moore nodded. He started to walk away, and then turned back around. "And remember you report to me, not that---not the nurses. Especially not that wog, eh? They don’t know anything about how this hospital works. Understand?"
The Doctor had no idea what a 'wog' was or how that related to the nurses he'd met, but he figured he'd just ask Martha later. He gave Moore a small, mock salute. Moore nodded again, and then left. The Doctor looked down at the pills, then to the children sleeping in the room next to him. All tiny and innocent. They had no idea what they were being used for.
But the Doctor did. And he'd put a stop to it.
He took the tray of tablets down the hallway, pulling them into a room just long enough to take all of the white pills out of the cups, before continuing down towards the mothers.
Most of them were young, in their mid-twenties or early thirties, and all of them seemed quite pleased to see that their porter was, once again, a pleasant young man.
"What happened to Jason?" asked one of the women as she took the vitamins she was offered with a small cup of water. "I do miss him. Such a friendly boy."
"Hardly a boy," a slightly older woman said with a very slight purr as the Doctor handed her a cup of vitamins.
"I had noticed, Charlene, I had noticed!" As one, the women began giggling.
"Ladies," another woman said from across the room with a slight tutting noise. "You two are about to become mothers. No reason to be blathering on about young orderlies."
"Oh, do be quiet, Barbara," Charlene said, her voice teasingly scolding. "As long as my child is in my belly, he doesn't have to know where I'm looking."
The Doctor looked up, across the room. And sure enough, lying in a hospital bed by the window and reading a copy of The French Revolution was---
"Barbara Wright?" he asked with a huge, excited grin on his face as he stepped towards her. "History teacher at Coal Hill School?"
She looked up, a surprised expression on her face. She hadn't aged very much since the Doctor had seen her last, though that was only four years previous for Barbara and more than a lifetime for the Doctor. Her hair wasn't up in those ridiculous beehives she used to wear, it now hung long and loose over her shoulders, and her usual ladylike business suit had been replaced with a loose cotton dress that only managed to emphasize how far along she was into her pregnancy.
"It's Chesterton, actually," Barbara said. "Wright is my maiden name. Do we know one another?"
"Chesterton?" the Doctor said. Oh, but regeneration would be absolutely impossible to explain here, not with the dozen or so women waiting around for their vitamins and cups of water. At another time, he'd have explained it to her anyway, but now he needed this job, needed to get closer to Moore and figure out what happened to the children. What might happen to Barbara's child.
"Sorry, John Smith. My daughter. She had you as her teacher. It's a pleasure to finally meet you."
"Oh!" Barbara looked positively delighted and she extended her hand for him to shake. On her left finger was a very modest wedding band, just the sort of thing Ian would buy. The Doctor took it and gave it a gentle shake.
"What's her name?" Barbara asked. "I never forget a student."
"Susan," the Doctor said, automatically.
"I knew quite a few Susans," Barbara admitted. Her lips curled into a little smile, a nostalgic smile. "Ian and I have been thinking about naming our daughter that. Susan. After an old friend."
The Doctor smiled, though he couldn't help but feel a little sad. Susan would've loved to have known Ian and Barbara married in the end, she'd always said she hoped they would. And to find out they were considering naming a child after her? Oh, she would've burst from excitement.
But that...wasn't possible. Susan would never know, because Susan was gone. Just like everyone else.
Barbara was looking up at him, her eyebrows furrowed. "Are you certain you and I haven't met before?" she asked. "You look...familiar. Like an old friend."
The Doctor smiled again, warmly. "Well, you know. You see one person from the hospital, you've seen them all."
"So I've heard," Barbara said with a sigh. "And after the disappearance of our last porter, I'm surprised you've taken the job so quickly."
"You've heard about it?" he asked.
"Oh, everyone has," she replied. "The heads of the hospital have tried to keep it quiet, but there's a tension to the air. Something terrible happened and everyone knows it. Just no one is willing to admit it!"
"I am," the Doctor said. "I'll get to the bottom of it."
She smiled. "I hope so, Mr. Smith. I certainly hope so."
Barbara took the vitamins out of the cup, counting them in her hand.
"You don't want the white one," the Doctor said. "It's not as good for you as they say."
"Whatever do you mean?" Barbara inquired.
The Doctor smiled, raised a finger to the side of his nose, and winked. Barbara looked puzzled for a moment, then a little surprised. As the Doctor wheeled the now-empty tray out of the room, he wondered if his old companion recognized him.
If anyone would, it would be Barbara.
By the time lockdown of the maternity ward at 3am finally hit, the Doctor was really fed up with working all together, thank you very much. He couldn't wander off properly, not with responsibilities, and he couldn't tell people what incredible idiots they were.
He really, really hoped Sally Sparrow would get them their TARDIS back soon. He'd been working for one day and he was already quite finished with it all.
He mopped up a puddle of sour-smelling vomit from the floor, then checked his pocketwatch. 2:58. No matter the consequences, there was no way he'd let any sort of private testing hurt the children here. He propped the mop up on the side of the wall and half-ran back to the viewing area of the maternity ward, where visiting parents could look in on their newborns, stopping just a moment to check in on Barbara and the other sleeping mothers. The whole area was silent, now, except for the quiet hum of monitors and the quiet breathing of the children.
Not all of the children died the night of the former porter's disappearance. That made sense, really. Not all expecting mothers would've come here for prenatal care so not all of the children would've been primed for whatever it was Moore and the upper management were planning.
A tiny baby wrapped up in a pink cloth cooed up at the Doctor. The nametag below her said 'Vicki', and the Doctor found himself smiling. How wonderful it must've been, to be young and human. The baby cried and was fed, reached up and was held, and pretty much just laid there happily, chewing on the foot of a dark blue teddy bear. It was quite the life.
There was a hum from behind the Doctor, followed by a quiet pop. The Doctor spun around to see the white florescent light on the far end of the hallway went out. The Doctor took a step towards it, when the next set of lights went out. Then the next. And the next.
The Doctor was reminded of the tide coming in. A dark, night-shaped tide moving over the maternity ward. A baby in the room began to cry loudly. Another light went out. He reached into his pocket and pulled out his sonic screwdriver.
Another light. Another. It moved closer, closer, until the darkness was mere feet in front of the Doctor, the light above his head the presumed next to go out. A cold breeze ruffled his hair.
"I'm not afraid of the dark," the Doctor announced quietly. The dark didn't reply.
Then, the lights all came back on with a quiet hum of electricity. The breeze stopped, and everything seemed to go back to normal. The Doctor spun around, looking for any other sign of attack. Nothing seemed to come.
"Well," he snorted. "That was anti-climatic."
But he had a funny feeling it was all very far from being over.
Malika tugged her grey peacoat on tighter as she headed down the city street towards Mr. Smith's flat. She got out of the hospital hours before he'd be off-shift and she'd headed home to her two cats and some tea. She couldn't bring herself to eat, though, she was just too nervous. What was Moore up to? Was there something she could've said or done earlier to prevent those children dying? What happened to Jason?
She didn't know who this new porter really was, but he seemed to know more than he was letting on. Malika could only hope that he could stop this before it got any worse.
She walked a little faster down the street, moving from the safe light of one streetlamp into the circular halo of another. It was comforting, watching the rhythm of her feet moving from one space to the next, it made the long walk seem shorter.
There was a strange fizzing sound from behind her. Malika turned around to see the street lamp at the far end of the street had burned out.
Strange. This was a nice part of the neighborhood and she never saw the lights out in this part. In her neighborhood, certainly. In this neighborhood?
The street lamp directly next to it went out as well with the same strange fizzing pop. Then the next, and the next. The street was quickly becoming dark, the night rolling over the houses like clouds cutting out the sun.
By the time Malika thought to run, it was already too late.
The Doctor slipped into his and Martha's flat, shutting the door as silently as possible to keep from waking the nosy landlady who lived across the hall. She didn't like the notion of someone of Martha's racial background living with someone of the Doctor's background and she was quite verbal about this. The Doctor had never really realized how much racism truly affected the 60's until he became trapped here. His own species had never focused on the amount of melatonin in one's skin determining their worth in a society, that was all based on class and breeding and species makeup.
The Doctor wondered with an idle smile what the nosy landlady would think of Martha living with the Doctor if she knew his real racial background. If only they weren't trapped here for a few more weeks, the Doctor'd tell her a few things she wouldn't be able to believe.
He tossed his coat over the door and headed to the opposite end of the room where Martha slept on the small fold-out bed. He had intended to lean down and shake his companion awake, but seeing her sleeping so heavily, so unguarded...well, he didn't want to wake her. He found himself sitting next to her on the bed, watching her sleep.
The Doctor always envied Martha in times like this, where she was sleeping so easily, so heavily. He often found himself longing for the ability to lay down and be still and sleep just by closing his eyes. He often found himself longing for the human way of dreaming, as Time Lords didn't have any rubbish thoughts to work away in their subconscious.
He wondered what Martha was dreaming about. Was it a good dream? The edges of her lips seemed curved into a small smile. What sort of a dream made someone smile while they slept?
Without thinking, he reached out and pressed his fingertips to her temple. It was an invasion to the highest degree and he would hate himself immediately afterwards, of course, but for now he needed his curiosity sated, just a little bit.
He saw the shining white shores of an alien beach. It was no alien beach the Doctor had ever seen before, but the sand reminded him of the sand on Brighton Beach, and the sky was the same shade as that on New New Earth. In the way of dreams, the sky shifted to a pale shade of orange, changing hues as the suns moved down it.
The whole scenario made sense, of course. Martha had been saying for days that she planned to make him take her on holiday to a beach, let her soak her shop-tired legs in some warm alien water. The alien water on this planet was an unnatural shade of blue, with purple waves.
He could hear Martha laughing somewhere down the beach and he turned to see her, lying in a yellow bikini on a blanket with the Doctor. In her dream, the Doctor was still in his blue suit, with a tie that had a repeating print of a sun on it. They lie together, laughing about something and watching twin suns set in an orange sky.
To the Doctor's surprise, Martha was not lying next to the Doctor in her dream, she was instead leaning on his chest, her head above his left heart. It was a very intimate way to lie, but in her dream they were both very comfortable with each other. Peaceful, content, like two lovers on holiday. She leaned up on her arm and looked down at him in a way that seemed, to the Doctor, to be loving. She smiled and smoothed down the lapel to his suit. Martha never looked at him like that back in the waking world or, at least, she never did when he was looking. She leaned towards him and---
The Doctor pulled back out of her dream and away from her with an embarrassed "Oh!" coming from his mouth. He hadn't meant to linger quite so long in her mind and he certainly hadn't meant to spy that particular jumble of rubbish mindwaves.
Martha made a groaning noise and blinked into consciousness, his surprise having woken her. Her hair was ruffled and she rubbed the sleep grit from her eyes.
"Not time for work already, is it?" she mumbled. "I was having a spectacular dream."
Spectacular, was it? The Doctor rubbed the back of his neck and sighed. "Sorry, didn't mean to wake you. Well, no, I did actually intend on waking you, but I had planned on doing it in a slightly more polite manner."
"Wasn't aware you aimed for politeness," Martha replied with a sleepy smirk.
"Oh, I aim, all right. I just never seem to hit the target."
Martha chuckled, then reached out to smooth the side of his bright pink uniform top, in a manner not unlike the way she touched the dream-Doctor. The Doctor felt his cheeks involuntarily redden a little. He reminded himself never to ever, ever tell Martha he saw that dream.
"Pink," she said.
"Maternity ward. I'm a porter."
"Oh, no. The disorderly orderly?"
"No, just the regular kind, though I'm not sure for how long." He straightened, then looked down at his companion with a very serious stare. "Martha. I'm afraid I'm going to lose my job."
Martha sat upright, now very awake and very unhappy. "What? Already? You just got the job, Doctor!"
"Right, I know, but it can't be helped."
Martha gave him a withering look. "Can't be helped? Doctor, you just started today! How hard can it be to carry things, clean messes, and rub a few doctors' egos? I've seen porters do their jobs. It's not hard!"
"Hand out medicine, too. Take blood samples."
"Without any training?" Martha looked revolted. "Bloody 1969. Still, you're just a porter!'
"Do the porters you know have aliens as their bosses?" the Doctor asked, raising an eyebrow.
Martha opened her mouth to speak, then shut it again. She shook her head. "I can't take you anywhere, can I?"
He recounted the events to Martha as well as he knew them while she dressed in preparation for Malika's arrival.
"That's not a lot to go on," Martha said. "Big red phones are pretty popular in 1969, my boss---who hates both you and me, by the way, but is now delightfully terrified that sacking me might bring on the high-class gentleman's wrath---even she has one. Maybe this Moore bloke is just a bad manager?"
"Could be. Or could be that he's just a really bad egg that likes killing little babies while they sleep. But then there's this." The Doctor reached into the breast pocket of his scrubs and produced the thick white pill.
Martha reached out and took it. "Looks too big to give to children."
"It isn't for them, it's for the pregnant mothers. It's Brotonium 9."
"Never heard of it."
"That's because it didn't originate on this planet," the Doctor said. "Whoever's acting as COO is having the porters, the nurses, and whoever they can give these to prenatal mothers just prior to birth."
Martha shook her head. "But what does it do?"
"It lowers psychic resistors. When children are born, well, human children, they have nothing coming out with them. Nothing but strong psychic blockers keeping their minds clear of external pressures and psychic attacks for the first, oh, six weeks or so of life? Then they start to absorb the outside world. Little tidbit you'll read about in Parent's Circle in the 56th century when you lot finally figure it all out. You'd think with all the work your little brains do, you'd've figured out a simple thing like infantile psychic walls by now."
"Point, Doctor," Martha said with a much-put-upon sigh.
"But this here," he brandished the pill. "This stops those psychic walls from being formed. Given to the mothers to go into their unborn children. Leaving the children helpless against anything that might want to fill up their little brains, or take the empty hull for their own purposes."
"Why don't the doctors notice what's happening?"
"Moore's got them purposely short-staffed, keeping untrained personnel to keep an eye on the less severe cases."
"Like pregnant mothers."
"Hang on a minute," Martha interjected. "You said that the children were killed. What's the point of filling up their minds if it's just going to kill them?"
The Doctor tapped his front teeth with a fingernail. "That's what I can't figure out. Malika says the new COOs have been there for months, but why haven't there been any murders until now?"
"Maybe something went wrong?" Martha ventured. "Your friend, the nurse, did say the former porter was a bit airheaded, maybe he did something wrong?"
"Maybe." The Doctor hopped up and went to the small, grimy window on the far side of the room. "Speaking of, where is Malika? She said she'd be here half an hour ago."
"Maybe she got turned around?" Martha suggested.
"I don't like dealing with 'maybes' for the same reason I don't like dealing with travel agencies," he replied. "Too many possibilities, not enough answers."
He picked up his coat and timey-wimey machine and headed towards the door.
Martha pulled on her shoes and followed. "Where're we going?"
"Back to the hospital. I think I've been putting off speaking to these COOs for quite long enough now," the Doctor replied. He smiled. "And thank you for the 'we'."
"You've been having all this fun without me, you think I'm going to stand for that?" Martha said. "I'm with you, Doctor. No matter where we end up."
He nodded. "Let's go."
To be continued…