Fandom: Doctor Who
Characters: Martha, the Doctor
Challenge/Prompt: 100_women, 004. Insides
Summary: The Doctor’s falling apart and Martha doesn’t know how to stop it.
Author’s Notes: I started this after 42 first aired, and found it in a notepad recently. Because the Doctor was so sweet in this episode, and for some reason my brain wanted to give him evil side-effects. I want this to be read as Ten/Martha friendship rather than anything else; I do sort of ship Ten/Martha but in a way that means I don’t want to write or read it! And I finished this before I got flu, just so you know :)
They don’t talk about it. And Martha should be used to that by now, because he’s the Doctor; because he’s determinedly an enigma, above all else; because she’s not Rose and a lot of the time she thinks he’s still a little bitter and surprised about that. But… but things are still not right with him, hand quivering weak on the controls, and he is too stubborn to tell her the truth.
Martha is going to be deeply unimpressed if he collapses dead in front of her. There may even be screaming.
She walks in on him throwing up at about three a.m, according to her faithful little wristwatch, which does its best to attach GMT to any timezone they happen to be in (although Martha suspects it’s fighting a losing battle and she wears it more out of sentimentality than anything else).
“You’re not ok, are you?” she asks dully, watching his trembling shoulders. He doesn’t reply, merely retches again, fingers clenched white on the edges of the toilet bowl. “You absorbed all that energy and your body doesn’t know how to handle it and now look.”
Martha knows nothing at all about Gallifreyan physiology and with hindsight she probably should have asked a few pertinent questions for use in emergencies. Like now, with the Doctor shaking like he could shatter any minute. She grips the doorframe, wondering what’s going to happen now.
The Doctor straightens up, wiping his mouth, and when he turns around his bright grin is firmly back in place, like nothing at all is wrong. But his eyes are like glass, too shiny and half-dead.
“Allergic reaction,” he explains, “It’ll wear off.”
“But-” Martha begins urgently, and the Doctor just brushes her off, drifting past her out the door.
“This has got to stop,” she says the fourth time she finds him on his knees in the control room, palms braced against the floor, trembling. “We have to take you to a hospital or something.”
“I’m fine,” the Doctor says through gritted teeth. Martha folds her arms.
“I’m not reassured,” she says, “Try saying that like you’re not going to faint in a minute or two.”
He looks up at her, wide-eyed, skin pale.
“Martha,” he says, “I’m going to be perfectly all right. It’s just something I have to work through.”
Martha sits down on the floor beside him, wrapping her arms around her knees.
“Are you going to die?” she asks bluntly, because if he is she needs to get home first, she can’t be stranded in this crazy ship forever. And that’s the least of her troubles.
“No,” the Doctor says, and clearly tries to look comforting. In fact, he just looks pained, and it’s not helpful. “Well. Maybe. But if I do, I can fix it.”
That doesn’t make her feel any better.
It’s ridiculously late and Martha is restlessly wandering around the Tardis because she can’t sleep. The corridors twist and change around her, and she finds a few rooms containing frankly worrying-looking devices that she decides not to investigate further, before she ends up back in the control room.
The Doctor seems to be fast asleep on the battered seats beside the consol; one lanky leg flung over the back, the other stretched away across the floor. For one horrible moment Martha thinks that he actually is… but then, he mercifully takes a deep, slow breath, and her panic subsides. He can’t be comfortable, oddly contorted over the far-too-short chairs, mouth slightly open and eyelids fluttering as though dreaming.
It’s Martha’s first confirmation that the Doctor actually does do something as ordinary as sleep; he’s always seemed indefatigable and forever bouncing around at strange, unnatural hours. It’s weird, seeing him absolutely still: Martha feels kind of like she’s intruding on something deeply private.
She’s just turning to go when the Doctor mumbles something. People say the strangest things in their sleep, but, curious as to what a Time Lord thinks about, Martha walks back over. The Doctor is quiet again for a while, and then he mutters it again, making Martha stumble back, sick to her stomach.
“Burn with me.”
The entity killed two humans when it took them over, burned them from the inside out and left them empty. The Doctor is still up and about, as cheery and irreverent as ever, except that now it’s brittle and Martha can see how easily he gets breathless now. How he loses his train of thought mid-action and stands still, frowning in confusion. He wasn’t killed but he still took in so much energy that he can’t be in any way fine. It’s just getting worse and worse and he’s simply not recovering.
“Aren’t you supposed to be feeling better by now?” she asks him.
The Doctor’s answering smile doesn’t quite reach his eyes and now he looks frightened and worried.
Gallifreyans have an unusually low body temperature, which is basically the one thing Martha knows about their physiology. Two hearts and cold hands. She supposes it could be worse.
The Doctor loses grip on the controls, Martha reaches over to push a lever back, and she feels how warm his fingers are, so hot she has to snatch her hand away, almost burnt. When the Tardis comes to an uncomfortable, crashing halt, she looks at the Doctor, whose face is sheened with sweat.
“Still insisting you’re ok?” she demands, anxiety making her voice too loud, too angry. “I suppose it’s perfectly normal for Time Lords to be scalding to the touch? Nothing to worry about, right?”
“Ok.” The Doctor tries to lean nonchalantly against the console, his legs tremble and crumple beneath him, and he slides down to the floor. “Ok, so I’m not fine.”
Martha sits down beside him.
“Tell me how to fix this,” she says softly. “There must be someone who can help.”
“Not any more.” The Doctor looks so sad, and Martha remembers him telling her about Gallifrey, tears sparkling unshed in his eyes. “We just have to wait this out.”
Martha squeezes one of his hands in a supportive gesture and nearly gets second-degree burns for her pains.
“But how long do we have to wait?” she asks softly, trying to flex her scalded fingers.
When Martha finds him, he’s twitching on the control room floor, fingers clenching on the floor gratings, eyes shut.
“Not… yet,” he grunts through gritted teeth.
Martha says a stream of swearwords that make absolutely nothing better, and runs over to his side.
“What’s going on?” she asks desperately.
“It’s my body,” the Doctor explains, his back arching, “It’s – trying – argh – to – uh – to – regenerate.”
“I don’t know what that means!” Martha tells him, kneeling down. “Tell me what that means!”
“It means-” The Doctor twists, head tipping back, the tendons in his neck sticking out, as an uncontrollable shudder runs through him. “My body thinks I’m – oh God – it thinks I’m dying.”
“Are you?” Martha asks uncertainly.
“I – hope – not,” the Doctor all but groans, gripping at the floor for a moment before his fingers go slack.
Martha fumbles her mobile out of her jeans pocket. She can call anyone, anytime, anywhere. It takes her a moment to realise that there’s no one she can call.
The world goes white without warning, the light seems to actually be emanating from the Doctor, and he’s screaming like his lungs are being turned inside out. Dizziness overwhelms her; before she knows it Martha is falling sideways to land unconscious on the floor.
When her eyes finally open, Martha has a splitting headache but the blinding light is gone. She’s lying on her side in the control room; she can hear the Tardis’ console bleeping faintly behind her. And that’s all that she can hear. Fear grips her stomach, and she struggles to try and get up.
“Uh-uh. Take it slowly,” a familiar voice tells her, and a moment later the Doctor’s battered cream converse allstars appear in her sightline. Then a chipped, steaming mug is placed down near to her head, the smell of sweet, milky tea wafting over. Martha gradually pushes herself into a sitting position, as the Doctor eases himself to the floor next to her, careful not to spill another mug of tea.
It only takes one good look at the Doctor for Martha to realise that now he’s absolutely fine.
“Back to normal?” she asks, just to make sure. He smiles at her; a proper smile without a tremble or an edge to it.
“You could even go so far as to say I’m shiny,” the Doctor informs her gravely. “Drink up,” he adds, “You’ll feel better.”
Martha picks up her tea, taking a sip.
“And it’s all gone?” she checks.
“Managed to force it all out,” the Doctor explains. “I didn’t want it to get quite that far, but it’s all gone now.”
“And you couldn’t just have… made your shoes radioactive again or something?” Martha suggests vaguely, taking another mouthful of tea.
“‘Fraid not,” the Doctor says, looking momentarily sheepish.
“So where are we?” Martha asks as the Tardis comes to a halt.
“The planet Icarus,” the Doctor tells her cheerfully, “Sunniest place in the universe – they actually have fifty-two suns. Thought it might be fun.”
He puts on a pair of huge sunglasses, then hands Martha her own pair of oversized shades, and she wonders if this is his way of trying to make all this up to her. She smiles, taking the sunglasses and putting them on.
“How do I look?”
“Ready to burn with me?” he asks.
Martha takes the sunglasses off in order to glare at him properly.
“That’s not funny,” she says flatly.
The Doctor grimaces. “Too soon?”
“Yes.” Martha puts the shades back on, sighing. At least it’s all over now. “Come on then.”
The Doctor takes her hand and together they walk out into the sunlight.