Characters/Pairings: The Tenth Doctor, Martha Jones, Barbara Wright, Original Characters, some Ten/Martha undertones
Word Count: Part Three: 3,491
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 muses_gonewild prompt: "158 - The doorway."
Part One is here. Part Two is here.
The Doctor held open the hospital door for his companion. "So it's an insult, then?" he asked.
Martha bristled. She did not like having the conversation on racial slurs she'd just had with the Doctor. She especially didn't like how nonchalant he was about the whole thing, as if the end of racism in a hundred years made the fact that it was happening now irrelevant. "Yes, a very unpleasant insult, and a bit out of date, too."
"Well, not for the 60's, at least."
"Maybe not for the 60's. But still unpleasant. And says a good bit about your employer."
The Doctor nodded. "I think his blasé attitude towards the dead children says a good bit about that, too," he said.
They passed the viewing area with the babies and Martha paused for a moment to watch them sleep. She spent all day working in a shop, but hospitals were where she wanted to work. Despite the horrors here, she envied the Doctor for managing to pull this job.
"Prenatal vitamins are something you need to take for months," Martha theorized aloud. "What if the inhibitor needs months to get into a child's system which is why they give them to the mothers? And if the first set of children born were the first perfectly primed children ready for their experimentations---"
"Then that would explain why no children died beforehand," the Doctor said, nodding emphatically. "Oh, Martha Jones, you're a star."
Martha preened at the compliment, and then her face went serious again. "But that doesn't explain why no other children have died since the former porter left. Or where your friend went."
The Doctor rubbed the back of his neck. "Covering up, maybe? Malika was the only person I know who didn't think the former porter committed the murders, and as long as she's around then there's always that worry."
"And if the next set of deaths take place too soon afterwards then that loses him as the murderer," Martha agreed.
"And the rest of the hospital is not quite ready to accept you as the next killer," came a voice from behind them. It was a pretty, very pregnant woman with long brown hair. She looked to be in her mid thirties, though she stood with a grace and elegance of someone twice her age.
"What do you mean?" the Doctor asked, moving to her side. "And really, Barbara, you shouldn't be up. While I'm not one for getting my rest, I think someone in your state---"
"I'm pregnant, Dr. Foreman, I’m not an invalid," Barbara said. This, strangely enough, made the Doctor smile.
"Doctor who?" Martha asked.
The Doctor looked back at Martha, then over to Barbara. She smiled again. "If time doesn't go round and round in circles, where does it go, then?" she asked, as if this were a private joke between herself and the Doctor. "And I recognize that roguish glint in your eyes, Doctor. Though you will have to explain your trick for turning so young. Ian will be positively livid to see you younger than him."
The Doctor laughed, grabbing a wheelchair and pulling it up behind her. "Martha Jones, meet Barbara Chesterton, nee Wright. A traveling companion of mine when I was much, much younger."
"Older," Barbara corrected him, slipping into the offered wheelchair.
"It's nice to meet you." Martha offered the other woman her hand and Barbara took it with a wide smile. "So you're the most recent victim of his elaborate kidnapping?"
"I wasn't kidnapped," Martha said. "I wanted to go. To travel the stars. And he said he'd get me back before I knew it."
"Grown more proficient with the controls, have you?" Barbara teased. The Doctor's ears went a little red. "Ian and I spent years bouncing from place to place with this man, trying to just find some way home."
"I did manage it!" the Doctor said, rubbing the back of his neck. "Eventually."
Barbara laughed. "Those were the maddest days of my life. And the most brilliant. No matter where we were trapped."
Martha thought about 1969 and how much she loathed the shop. Then she thought about New York, and New New York, and the moon and Shakespeare and---
She nodded. "Yep. Brilliant."
"So tell me, Doctor, Martha, what's going on here?" Barbara asked.
As the Doctor wheeled her back, the two of them filled his former companion in on the goings-on around the hospital. Barbara gasped in horror at the news about the dead babies, and touched her belly nervously.
"They kept that secret from you, too?"
"The nurse---Malika, I think her name is---she mentioned that Ian and I should possibly look into finding a different hospital in the area, but she couldn't tell us why," Barbara explained. "Then the doctor---the medical doctor, that is---said he worried about moving me so far along, so I stayed. I sincerely wish I hadn't!"
The Doctor nodded, and then looked down the corridor to the stairs. "I've got to sort this out," he said. "Martha and I will head up to stop the COO, but you've got to---"
"I've got to help," Barbara said. "There is absolutely no way that you're going to go up there on your own. Whatever's happening to those babies will happen to my little girl as well!"
"She's got a point," Martha said to the Doctor. She turned to Barbara. "You can't go up there, it's too dangerous."
Barbara opened her mouth to protest, but Martha continued.
"But you can stay down here. Keep an eye out for Moore, try to distract him if you can. If he shows up---" she fished out her mobile phone and handed it to her. "Call the Doctor's number, it's in there. Then call the police."
"Is this a telephone?" Barbara asked, astounded by the small object in her hands.
"A mobile, yeah!" Martha grinned, chasing after the Doctor. "Don't worry, you'll see them in no time flat."
Barbara nodded, and Martha left her. She felt worried for the other woman, but knew in her heart that nothing prepared you for a difficult situation like being a companion to the Doctor. Barbara had no doubt witnessed so many things in her time that the Doctor's story at this hospital must've seemed so ordinary. Martha wondered if one day she'd be able to just go back to a normal life, the way Barbara had. She decided that yes, she could. One day. Just not today.
She caught up with the Doctor at the door before the stairwell. The Doctor gave the door a tug. Locked. He looked over at Martha.
"This looks like a fire hazard," he said, pulling out his sonic. "Think we should increase the safety of this hospital?"
"I consider it our civic duty," Martha agreed with a nod.
The Doctor waved the sonic over the lock and it opened with a click. He twisted the knob and hopped inside.
The stairs were dark, the florescent bulbs flickering in and out of their usual brightness. It seemed to Martha that even the air itself was painted with a strange grayness, like a light filter. She followed after the Doctor, easy to spot in the dim in his bright pink uniform.
"Why's it so dark here?" Martha asked quietly, taking the stairs two-by-two to keep up with the Doctor's long stride. The stairwell seemed to go on forever.
"Residual energy smudging," the Doctor said.
"Not too technical for you?" the Doctor called back. "Yes, smudging. Like running your hand over a page of newspaper and smearing the ink, only whatever is up there is smudging reality."
"Isn't that dangerous?" Martha asked.
"And we should stop it."
"Any idea how?"
The Doctor turned back around. "Oh, sorry, I was rather liking the 'ly' responses there. I've got a few plans, but we'll have to see what exactly we're about to encounter, eh?"
Martha nodded and followed. Whatever it was up there had murdered babies in this hospital and had gone through and removed anyone in its way, including the former porter and the Doctor's friend. It wouldn't have any qualms about killing Martha and the Doctor, she knew.
At the top of the hallway, the walls and floor seemed so smudged by gray that the lines of floor and wall were almost indistinguishable from the dark air and wall around them.
"It's like we're walking into a running chalk drawing on a rainy day," Martha said.
"Same cause and reason, I imagine," the Doctor replied, nodding as he opened the door with another wave of the sonic.
Martha didn't understand, but she followed, nonetheless. In some ways, it was better when the Doctor understood and she didn't. The Doctor could stop it, and she'd figure it out eventually. She usually did. She was more of an equal to him than he'd admit, or, at least Martha believed so in moments like this.
Behind the door was a large room that Martha imagined could've spread the entire length of the hospital, or it might've been the size of a broom closet. The dark pallet and the way everything smudged together made size impossible to distinguish.
Martha walked carefully behind the Doctor, stepping primly on the grey surface, afraid that the wrong amount of pressure might cause the fabric of this reality to split like a wet newspaper.
"How did they do this?" she asked.
"They're trying to get home." The voice came from the far side of the wall, and Martha and the Doctor turned to see a small, pretty Indian woman half-buried into the grey mass of the wall. Next to her was a young man, his skin as grey as the wall he was buried in.
"Malika," the Doctor said, striding over to her. "Malika, what happened to you?"
"It's them," Malika said. "They don't belong here. It was an accident."
"Don't worry," Martha said, grabbing at the walls. "We're going to get you out of there." But while the walls were slick and grimy, they didn't give as she tried to pull on them.
Malika tried to shake her head, but it did no good. "They're trying to get home," she said again.
"Who are?" the Doctor asked. "Who are trying to get home?"
Malika's eyes widened, terrified. "Them!"
Martha and the Doctor turned and coming from the walls were large, shapeless shadows. They ran along the grey surface of the room like text along newsprint, shifting and whirring with the efforts of coming closer.
"They came here when the War—they won't say which war, just the War—punched a hole in the fabric of reality. Someone sealed it and they've been trapped, walking through shadows," Malika said.
"What about the children?" the Doctor demanded. "And Moore?"
"The children were accidents. They thought that, like some others, if they hollowed out the psychic reserves, they'd just be shells and they could use them as bodies, live here and...invade."
"So, when in doubt about your abilities to get home, you just decide to invade. Brilliant," the Doctor hissed, pointing a finger at the oncoming shadows. "Humans aren't just psychic reserves, they're not just constructs. You open them up to invasion, they'll try to fight back! No matter the age!"
By fighting back, even unconsciously, the children had died, Martha realized.
"They don’t care," Malika said. "They're going to try again and again until they get it right!"
"What about Moore?" Martha asked.
"What about me?" boomed a voice from the doorway to the stairs. It was Moore, holding a syringe in one hand and a terrified looking Barbara by the hair with the other. She cried out in pain and the Doctor moved towards her, only to have the syringe pressed towards her throat.
"They'll take over the world, once they get into the right bodies," Moore said. "Take it over, rip a few holes in time, bring more over. And I'll—"
"Let me guess, you'll be in control of part of the planet?" Martha inquired, crossing her arms.
"They've probably offered him Australia," the Doctor said with the same unimpressed tone.
"Some sort of condolence for being the only human left once they've hollowed everyone out?" Martha agreed with a nod.
"Maybe the moon."
"The moon's all right, still not the most impressive place."
"Shut up!" Moore shouted, tugging back Barbara's hair. Barbara cried out and Martha and the Doctor silenced their mocking.
"But something went wrong. You weren't expecting those babies to die," the Doctor said, taking a step towards Moore. "You weren't expecting Malika to figure out that your scape goat wasn't quite as evil as you wanted everyone to think he was."
The man in the wall made a little whimper and tried to move his lips, which crumbled like ash. Malika screamed and struggled against the wall.
"What have you done to him?" the Doctor barked.
"Drained him of his energy. Unfortunate side-effect," Moore said. "Like the babies. They couldn't hold up."
"So you just let them die. And you'll do it again," Barbara cried. "You horrible man!"
"I'd do it again and again as many times as it takes until they can join us! Be part of our world!" Moore bellowed, dragging her by her hair.
Barbara put a hand to her belly and screamed out in pain. "What's going on?"
"They're trying to break through to the unprotected child," the Doctor said. "Barbara, it's going to be okay. They can't attack your baby."
"Can't they?" Moore hissed, pulling her towards the shadows. He shoved her down onto the crumbling floor. "Maybe this is what we need! We need to catch them before they're born! Before they can even begin to form memories or a personality!"
The shadows swarmed towards Barbara. She screamed, holding her hands up to protect herself. Martha ran towards her, but the Doctor grabbed her arm.
The shadows swarmed, swirling masses of darkness around Barbara's pale form. Then, with sudden urgency, they swarmed away and cowered on the other side of the room.
"What the hell?" Moore barked.
"Time travelers have a level of heightened psychic resistors," the Doctor said with a wide, proud smile. "Part of the TARDIS's temporal systems. It's why those creatures didn't attack any children tonight. I was there, blocking the path all chock-full of temporal energy protecting myself and blocking them. And Mrs. Chesterton there, she's traveled in time, too. So no matter how weak those drugs have made her unborn baby, she'll always be stronger than them."
Barbara gasped, clutching her belly, then let out a laugh. "Still protecting me? Even after all this time?"
"Forever," the Doctor said. "You never stop being my companion."
Martha smiled widely. Never stop, ever. She'd like that, she decided.
But there was no time to waste. "What do we do?" she asked the Doctor as she rushed to Barbara's side.
"Well, we can't offer these shadows a trip in the TARDIS, but we can help split this rift for them, send them home," the Doctor suggested. He grabbed the sonic and began waving it over Malika's arms and legs. The wall melted and crumbled and the small woman fell into the Doctor's arms.
"They can't leave," Moore howled. "You can't take them from me! They're going to make me powerful!"
The Doctor spun around. "While this might get me sacked, I'm sure I don't care what they promised you. If they don't leave right now, I'll put a stop to them. Forever!"
The shadows hissed and spun around, but didn't approach. The Doctor held up his sonic threateningly.
"No!" Moore ran forward, throwing a meaty fist in the direction of the Doctor's head. The Doctor ducked it, and Moore's hand went through the wall, tearing through it like wet paper. There was a howl, and wind seemed to be sucked through the hole.
"A gateway created through," the Doctor said. "Oh, Moore, you were lied to. They've never been trapped. Knew exactly what they were doing and exactly how illegal it is by the Shadow Proclamation. This place isn't their home. It's their escape route."
"But they wouldn't!" Moore shouted.
"You never mattered, Moore. They used your hatred, they used your influence, and then they were going to leave you," the Doctor said. "Or kill you. Probably doesn't matter to them."
The Doctor raised the sonic and split the hole wider. "Leave, now!" His voice boomed in the dark place like the sound of gunfire on a still night.
The shadows hesitated for only a moment, and then spun and swirled, running quickly into the void.
Moore tried to run away, back from the hole, but he couldn't. He looked down to see the ashen, broken form of Jason holding him in place. Moore lost his balance and tumbled, headfirst, into the hole the Doctor had created. His screams were lost to the darkness.
The Doctor raised his sonic and sealed the hole, locking the monsters out. He looked to the former porter, and then waved the sonic over him as well. "I'm sorry," he said. "I'm so sorry." The boy crumbled into ash, released from his prison.
"We'll need to lock this place up," he said to Malika. "Once I've got my TARDIS back, we'll come back here and fix the gaps, but until then we've got to keep it secure."
"What about the babies?" Barbara asked.
"Safe for now," the Doctor said with a smile. "Safe forever, if I have anything to say about it."
"There must be something we can do," Barbara said from her hospital room later, smiling up at the Doctor.
The Doctor, now happily back in his brown suit, smiled. "Name that little girl Susan, yeah?" he said. "She'd have loved that."
Barbara nodded, but then her smile faded. "Tenses have always been very important to you, Doctor. You just used the past tense for Susan. What happened to her?"
The Doctor looked away, back out the window to the city. He thought about the times he walked, arm-and-arm with his granddaughter through those city streets. He couldn't even find the words to describe what happened to her, and he wasn't sure he wanted to. He'd rather close up that part of his mind, lock it away like an evil monster.
Barbara must've sensed his sadness, for she reached out and took his hand. He smiled down at her. She always did know how to make things seem so much brighter.
"Once my little girl's born," she said, "You and your new companion must come over for dinner. Since you're living in the area and all. Ian will be delighted to see you."
While the Doctor's initial reaction was to recoil from such a domestic setting like a vampire to sunlight, there really wasn't any harm in accepting his companion's offer. After all, they were trapped here for a while. And once, long ago, when he traveled with Barbara and Ian, he loved staying in places for long periods of time and actually getting to know the world.
But he didn't have time to accept anything, because before he knew it, Martha was at his side, thrusting his timey-wimey machine into his arms.
"It started going off five minutes ago!" Martha said, breathless. It was obvious she'd run the whole way to the hospital from the flat carrying the awkward machine in her arms.
The Doctor regarded it, and her, blankly.
"That means that what's-his-name is here! We have to go find him!"
The Doctor's eyes widened and he grinned. He liked staying for long periods of time, but he loved traveling even more. And this, right here, was that opportunity.
"Sorry Barbara, must dash!" he called over his shoulder as he dashed from the hospital, following the signal. "I'll see you later!"
"He didn't, of course," Barbara told the tiny, dark-haired child in her arms some months later. "But with a man like that, you can't expect him to stay put, or remember dinner dates and birthdays."
"Or a proper hello," Ian said, taking the now-empty bottle from his wife. "I still can't believe the Doctor was here, in England, and he didn't bother to tell me."
"He had a lot on his mind, dear," Barbara replied with a smile.
"I'll bet he did," Ian replied, sourly.
Barbara laughed. "Oh, you two. Years pass, he changes his face, and you're still the same about him. Still competitive and irritated."
"He's still the same, too," Ian said. "Still causing problems, putting you in danger."
"And saving the world." Barbara leaned over the crib and laid her daughter down, cradling her head gently.
"That, too," Ian admitted. "Still protecting a Susan."
"Still showing us not everything's as it seems?" Barbara offered.
He took Barbara's hand and, once again, they were companions in a strange, strange world. Together.