42 pt 1
It was hard to say how long Martha waited in the media room. She went in, chose one of the movies on her list that she thought would set the mood, and made popcorn. Not long after she stepped inside she heard and felt the TARDIS land. Martha smiled, hoping Rose would have a good time with her old friend and anticipated hearing all about it upon her return. If she decided to, that is. About five or ten minutes later she felt the TARDIS take off again. Plopping down on the couch, movie cued up, she adjusted her top to ensure the perfect amount of cleavage could be seen by the tall alien without looking utterly trashy. She did a sniff test, hoping she didn’t smell like greenhouse or medicine and pleased to discover she didn’t. Shifting, she positioned herself to look as irresistible as possible, ensuring the Time Lord would want to curl into her, and waited.
The movie started on it’s own, and she watched. And waited.
How much longer was he going to be? Rose did tell him where she was going to wait for him, right? She didn’t forget in her excitement?
“Oh Doctor Jones,” His voice came from the doorway, and she whipped her head around to greet him with a smile. It fell when she took him in, and it took every bit of self control Martha had to neither whimper nor drool at the sight in front of her.
His hair was ruffled in a very enticing way that made Martha want to ruffle it more. His jacket and tie were gone, his blue oxford untucked with the top button undone and the sleeves pushed up to his elbows. It was almost like seeing him naked, especially since his pupils were so wide, and he had what she could only describe as a bedroom smile as he gripped the door frame with both hands.
“You have a patient waiting for you in the medbay.” He said cheekily, gesturing with his head for her to come along.
She’d have followed him into a volcano if he looked at her like that.
Martha bolted from the couch, moving swiftly toward him, and somewhat surprised to find them going across the hall. She never really remembered to the medbay being that close, and for a brief moment she wondered if maybe that’s not really where they were going.
Hands in his pockets, he pushed the door open with his bum and leaned against it to hold it open. Martha stepped in, and was both disappointed and confused when the medbay was exactly where she was led. And that Rose was on the bed.
“I’m assuming since you aren’t covered in tiny, itchy spots that you have had the chicken pox before?” He asked Martha with a teasing grin.
“Uh, yeah, when I was six” She said, still trying to make sense of what was going on.
“Good. Because Rose, apparently, hadn’t.” He said, barely containing a laugh.
“S not funny,” Rose said, trying to glare through a laugh while twitching ever so slightly, rubbing her arms against her sides.
The Doctor’s face contorted as he tried not to smile, and Martha laughed at how utterly adorable it looked.
“So what you need me for?” Martha asked, bumping the Doctor with her elbow as she crossed her arms and leaned heavily on the side nearest him.
“You’re a Doctor, she’s sick.” He said.
“You’re the Doctor.” She teased.
“True, but it’s been over a month since you’ve practiced, don’t want to get rusty, now, do you?” He asked, and Martha narrowed her gaze at him. His ears turned red. “Not to mention you’re also a woman.” He added, tugging at his ear. “And strictly speaking, I’m not a medical professional.”
“What he’s saying,” Rose said as she tried very hard not to scratch. “Is he doesn’t want to see me naked.”
The Doctor’s mouth twitched as if he was about to start laughing again, clearing his throat as he rubbed he back of his neck. “Probably best that I don’t, yeah.” He said, turning away and and rocking on he balls of his feet.
“Alright, so how dangerous are we talking?” Martha asked, realizing it couldn’t be too bad if the Doctor was trying not to laugh at the predicament to the point that he had to turn away from the sight of a twitching Rose.
“Shouldn’t be too serious,” He said, turning back to Martha, humor gone from his face. “But the spots will have to be watched, and that can’t be done just by checking arms and legs.” He cleared his throat. “So it is, in fact, best that you, Martha, a woman of the human race be the lead physician on this case.”
“I hate to interrupt, but I was promised something to calm the itch.” Rose said from the bed.
“Ah, yeah,” He said, looking at his feet. “TARDIS laid a shot out on the tray there.” He said, gesturing over to the beside table.
Martha headed over, picking up the syringe with blue liquid and showing it to the Doctor. He nodded from where he leaned against the door frame, and Martha went about administering it. A few seconds after giving the shot, Rose stopped twitching with a sigh of relief.
“Better?” The Doctor asked.
“Yeah,” She said with another sigh.
“The spots shouldn’t be anymore than a centimeter in diameter,” He went on to explain, coming over to stand beside Martha. “We should be alright, but if they do get bigger we’re going to have to go to a medical planet. There’s still a couple bags of anti virus, and I know you know how to set up and IV drip.” He added to Martha before turning to Rose. “And I’m afraid you’re going to have to be in here for a couple days.”
“And why can’t I stay in bed?” Rose asked.
“You will be. Just in here where ….” The Doctor stopped, and he and Rose seemed to have a stare down. “Where Martha can come and go as she pleases.” He said in such a way that hinted Martha would not be allowed in Rose’s room.
“I take it that wouldn’t be possible other wise?” Martha asked, trying not to feel awkward and failing as she couldn’t look Rose in the eye. Seriously, she wouldn’t be welcome in her fellow companion’s room?
“The, uh, TARDIS is big on privacy,” Rose said, glancing between Martha and the Doctor. “She tends to hide doors you shouldn’t go to.”
“Is that why I’ve never seen you come or go from a bedroom?” Martha asked the Doctor over her shoulder.
“Yes, actually!” He said, over excited. “Though don’t need much sleep, me. Tend to take a kip in the library. Where I’ve been taking a rest for the last few weeks. Anyway, I’m going to leave you to your patient.” He said, turning abruptly and heading for the door.
“Meet you in the media room after?” Martha called after him and he stopped, turning on his heal. He glanced at Rose for the briefest of moments before he smiled. “Sure. Meet you there.” And then he turned and left.
Martha sighed. “I was worried you forgot to tell him.” She said after the Doctor left.
“I didn’t, don’t worry.” Rose said as she pulled off her t-shirt.
“So, I thought I felt us land,” Martha said as she helped Rose off the bed so she could get her jeans off. “How long were you with your friend before you realized you had this?” She asked, gesturing to the tiny welts on Rose’s stomach.
Rose blushed. “Wasn’t all that long, actually.”
Martha grinned. “Blushing. So this friend is a guy then?” She asked coyly.
Rose smirked. “The friend I was planning on seeing is a guy, yeah. But … you know what? Never mind.” She grinned. “Let’s just worry about these stupid things so we can get back to the adventuring, yeah?” She said as she scooted out her jeans, taking off her socks and sitting down on the bed in her bra and knickers. Martha noticed something pop up in the corner of her eye, and she turned toward the table to see a hospital gown appeared.
“Thanks ol’ girl.” Rose said, patting the walls.
Martha chuckled. “Is she really that sentient?”
“Yeah,” Rose said as she picked up the gown, putting it on.
They let the conversation drop as Martha set up the IV, did a check on Rose’s vitals and examined her welts.
“How do you feel?”
“Fine,” Rose said. “Probably a good thing, yeah?”
“Supposed to be worse in adults, so yeah.” Martha said, setting the stethoscope aside and doing a double take at the beside table.
“Oh!” Rose said cheerily, “She brought me my book.” She said as she picked up the thick tome of Jane Eyre.
“Seriously? You’re reading that?” Martha asked, trying not to laugh.
Rose gazed up at her incredulously. “Why wouldn’t I be?” She asked.
“I dunno,” Martha shrugged nervously. “Just didn’t think you’d like it or … I mean. Well you seemed to have some, uh, trouble with Shakespeare’s work.”
“Big difference between the two, mate.” Rose said, and Martha’s face went red. The quirks of Rose she knew about tipped her off that she insulted the blonde, and the fact that she thought of her as the blonde made her feel worse.
“Right, sorry. Just surprised me. Anyway, I’m going to, ah, go hang out with the Doctor. Gotta a date to keep.” She said as she turned away.
“Right,” Rose said in such a way that Martha had to turn to see for sure if she was being mocked. Rose’s face was hidden by the open book. “Well have fun then,” She added, glancing at Martha over the pages with a twinkle in her eye.
What was that supposed to mean? Martha studied Rose as she left the room, watching her patient become engrossed in the book and not saying anything more on the subject.
The media room was still across the hall, and the second she left the medbay Martha could see the Doctor already on the couch with his legs stretched out across the length as he cradled a bowl of something close to his chest. Was he intending for them to lay together? The possibilities made the giddiness in Martha’s chest amp up as she walked in.
“What you got?” She asked as she stood in front of him.
He grinned like a fool, pulling back his legs to clear a spot on the other end of the couch. “Banana crisps.” He said around a mouthful.
“Seriously?” She asked with disgust as she plopped down in the empty spot and tucked her legs under and around his.
“Banana’s are good,” The Doctor replied, plucking a crisp and pointing at her with it. “And apparently the TARDIS loves me again because she hid any and all banana related goodness from me for the last three weeks.”
“Why?” Martha asked as she picked up her bowl of popcorn and the remote from the coffee table.
“Oh, she and I had a little disagreement, among other reasons.” He replied nonchalantly. “So what are we watching?”
“Someone Like You. You know, a bit of a romantic comedy” Martha replied, subtly dropping the hint.
“Oh,” The Doctor groaned. “Not that one. Who compares relationships with bovine mating habits? I mean, honestly. It’s a terrible comparison, especially for humans. Now, if you want to watch a romantic film you should really ….” And he stopped, staring at Martha with his jaw hanging open. Her heart pounded as she tensed, hoping that he would leap across the space, or at very least make the suggestion that was on the tip of his tongue. “You know what? How about a comedy? Love to laugh, me. Oh, maybe we should watch Back to the Future. Good time travel theme, and I seem to remember you vaguely forgetting it was a movie. Not to mention I can point out all the inaccuracies of it all. For instance, who would think a DeLorean was a good choice for time travel?”
And as she sunk back into the couch, her heart slowing with disappointment, the TARDIS cued up her Time Lord’s choice.
Rose closed her book, sighing with contentment as she set it on the bedside table with a light grin. Instantly the TARDIS swapped out Jane Eyre with Pride and Prejudice, and Rose giggled. “Again?” She asked, and the TARDIS sent her a mental wink. Picking it up, Rose opened it, but her mind instantly started to wander as the itching started up again.
She and the Doctor had been back in their bedroom before it all started, and they certainly weren’t taking long to make up for lost time.
“I thought I said clothes were to stay on?” She had said between kisses as he quickly removed his blazer and tie, tossing them aside.
“Can’t expect me to go to bed like that,” He had replied, sounding breathless despite his respiratory bypass as he popped open his collar’s buttons. He had pushed his sleeves up before scooping her up and tossing her down on the bed.
“Ouch,” Rose laughed, feeling the odd spot where buttons were pushed into her back from his earlier body.
“That’s what you get for allowing me to snog you like that when you knew I wouldn’t remember.” He said as he crawled over her.
“I knew you would, eventually. Never got to say goodbye to that body properly, anyway.” She said as her fingers tugged his oxford out of his pants. It was utterly relieving to feel a patch of his cool skin on a sliver of hers.
“I’m trying not to be jealous of myself.” He admitted as she parted her legs slightly to allow them both to be more comfortable as well as be closer.
“I know.” She smiled with her tongue in her teeth and a giggle in her chest. He silenced that pretty quickly by resuming their heavy snog. Fingers in his hair, feeling him pressed against her, Rose was in heaven. Blissful, wonderful heaven without it even going farther than his fingers skimming her ribs or running up her thigh.
Slowly she started squirm and wriggle, needing friction in the worst way. And not at all the way she would have assumed she’d want.
“As good as I’m sure I probably am,” He said against her lips after the wriggling had gone on for about a minute. “I don’t think I’m that good. Rose, what’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” She breathed, trying to lay still. “Nothing, really.” When he didn’t resume, she studied his face, pushing her hair from her forehead. He was smirking, snorting, virtually giggling. “What?”
“Rose, have you, ah, ever had chicken pox?”
“Dunno, why?” She asked before another strong wave of itching caused her to spasm, and the Doctor lost it. “What!?” She screamed at him.
“Oh Rose, my adorable spotted Rose.” He said, backing off of her. She sat up, catching her reflection in the mirror. Her skin had tiny little red dots all over it.
“Oh god!” She groaned as he laughed, the TARDIS giggling in her mind as well.
“Come on,” He said, scooping her up bridal style and carrying them out their bedroom door to the Medbay currently placed across the hall. He sat her down on the bed. “I’m going to get Martha, and while I do I’m sure the TARDIS will prepare something to take the itch away.”
“Why do you need to get Martha?” Rose asked as her fingers started to graze her skin.
“Don’t scratch.” The Doctor said around a laugh. “I need to get Martha because we’ll need to watch those spots.”
“Okay,” She had said, fighting the urge to scratch.
“Which means examining all of you.” He said, grinning like a fool. “And I can tell you right now, Rose Tyler, there is no way I can do that clinically.”
She grinned, tongue in teeth despite the blush and the desperate need to scratch. “No?” She asked.
He shook his head. “Especially after believing for just a moment that I was actually the one making you squirm like that.” He said, ears turning pink as she laughed at him.
“Alright, go get the other doctor on board then.” She had said, sending him on his way.
After Martha finished her exam they had both left her be for a while, though Rose wasn’t quite sure for how long. She had finished the last half of Jane Eyre since being in the room, but her reading habits over the last few weeks had proven that it meant nothing anymore. She couldn’t read as quickly as the Doctor could, but this increased processing power (as he called it) meant she was now devouring books in hours when it used to take her a month or more. On one side, it meant stories she really loved could be reread without sacrificing a lot of time. On the other, she was running out of books that held an interest to her. Opening her favorite of Jane Austen’s work for the third time, she dove in.
“How are you feeling?” The Doctor’s voice broke her out of Chapter 20, barely an hour after she started it.
“Itchy,” She confessed as she closed her book and looked up, watching him come toward her in his blue suit and maroon shirt. It was growing on her, that look, making fierce competition for the good ol’ brown one he had worn since his regeneration. As he pulled up a chair beside her, he picked up a syringe that appeared on the bedside table. Pushing the short sleeve of her hospital gown up, he prepare her arm for and then gave her the injection. Kissing the spot after he he set the needle down, he brushed his hand along her forehead.
“Better?” He asked, and she nodded with relief. “You’re not even feverish.” He noted. “And the TARDIS showed me you’ve been eating. I know you’re miserable with the itching, but you are handling this a lot better than you should be.” He said thoughtfully.
“Good,” she said, reaching up to claim his hand in hers, removing it from her forehead. “Maybe I won’t be sick for long and we can get back to making up.” She said cheekily.
He shook his head with a grin before leaning in and kissing her sweetly. “Plenty of time for that.” He said against her lips.
“Good.” She said, nudging his nose with hers before he pulled back. “Where’s Martha?”
“Sleeping. Poor thing drifted off in the media room on our, oh, third movie? I made sure she had a blanket and a pillow before I left.”
“Didn’t carry her to bed?” Rose asked, genuinely surprised that the Doctor hadn’t at least done that. She wouldn’t have liked it, of course, but she’d have understood.
“I believe someone told her that the TARDIS helps keep privacy.” He reminded her, and the ship hummed in agreement.
“Yeah, did do that, didn’t I?” Rose mused, running her fingers over the pages of the book. “Should … should we, I dunno, tell her?”
“Tell her what?” He asked, running his thumb along the knuckles of the hand he held.
“Where you sleep.” She replied, watching him carefully as he focused on their hands.
He exhaled slowly. “I dunno.” He replied, meeting Rose’s eye. “We could, but then comes the questions. Questions that I’m not sure I know the answers to.”
“Like?” Rose asked.
“What we are.” He said thoughtfully. “Not fond of the term ‘boyfriend’, seems too impersonal. I mean, Mickey was your boyfriend and look where that ended up. But you aren’t my mate, my bond mate to be more specific. Gallifreyan thing, that. Sorta the equivalent of a wife in human terms. You’re my primary companion, my best mate, my … well, you’re my home. You’re the one who anchors me, who has my hearts.” He said, eyes going out of focus. He said something in Gallifreyan, something long and beautiful that made Rose’s soul sing and a smile break out over her face as tears poured from her eyes. He glanced over, seeing her reaction and smiled. “Good to know that’s your reaction to those words.” He said.
“What did you say?” She asked.
“Oh, can’t tell you that,” he said with a wink as his grin stretched. “But I think you got the meaning behind them.” He said as he swiped a tear away from her cheek.
“Yeah, think I did.” She said.
He hummed happily, looking at the monitor over her bed. “I know you’re worried Martha is getting the wrong impression, but I don’t think it matters.”
“Why not?” Rose asked, tugging on his hand to get him to look at her.
“Because she’s got to realize eventually that you are my partner. Ooh, partner, I like that. Sounds better than any other term in English. Anyway, she’s got to realize eventually that, and this is me saying that you are right which I don’t think you are, really. But if she does fancy me she’s bound to realize it doesn’t run both ways.”
Rose smiled, nodding once, accepting his reasoning. A part of her still wanted her territory to be marked, a feral inkling in the back of her mind that wanted what was hers to be known as such, but she let it go.
Scooting over in the hospital bed, which suddenly seemed a little wider, she patted the empty space.
Half a second later the Doctor was curled up next to her.
“Read to me?” She asked. “I love it when you do, and it may help me rest a bit.”
“Happy to,” He said, picking up the book and opening to the marked spot where Rose left off. He cleared his throat, and then began to read aloud as he dropped an arm around Rose’s shoulders and played with the ends of her hair.
It only took three days for the virus to leave Rose’s system, and in all that time she hadn’t once broken a fever as both the Doctor and Martha expected her to. It was like the pox were nothing more than an annoying bunch of bug bits, but three blood panels had proven that they were more than that. Rose could tell how badly the Doctor wanted to do another scan, could see how his eyes darted toward it after he and Martha were positive the virus left her system. He never said a word about it, and it was probably for the better.
She’d just add “better immune system” to the list of things that were changing about her. Probably best that they weren’t really talking when her arm was injured, he may have noticed that it was better after two days.
“So where are we off to today?” She asked as she caressed the control panel, trying not to finger the coordinate input as the Doctor fixed a problem with Martha’s phone with his sonic.
“Where would you like to go? Cooped up in the TARDIS for three days, Universe is at your fingertips Rose Tyler.” He said to her with a grin.
“We could go someone exotic.” Martha offered. “With beaches?” She suggested, looking between Rose and the Doctor while bitting her lip.
Rose smiled. “What was the name of that planet you took me to after Donna left?” She asked.
“Solodaris 4,” He said absentmindedly as he handed Martha back her phone. “Aim for season diamond 2,” He said pointedly as he made some adjustments on the controls he was closest to. “That’s mid winter so neither of you will get a burn.”
Rose set the coordinates carefully, double and triple checking them before deciding that maybe the Doctor should inspect them. She really didn’t want to burn because it was fall.
“Who’s….” Martha said suddenly, getting both Rose and the Doctor’s attention. “Who’s Donna?” She asked, wringing her fingers.
Rose and the Doctor looked at each other.
“She traveled with us. Once. Impromptu kind of deal.” He replied for them, coming over to join Rose. He did exactly as she hoped, and sure enough he adjusted one of the dials slightly.
“So … how many others traveled with you?” Martha asked, looking at her feet as she slowly came toward them.
“Uh,” The Doctor said, rubbing he back of his neck. “Well since Rose and I have traveled together we’ve had, umm, four other besides you? And me, well, I’ve had something like thirty or forty.” He cringed, glancing down at Rose.
She smiled reassuringly, patting the arm closest to her, seeing the tension leave him nearly instantly.
He never gave her a number, and one sleepless night after meeting Sarah Jane Rose asked him who else there was. There were so many other women, and while it bothered her at the time she learned to accept it. And after Reinette, without asking, he would some times tell her more about them. How they helped or hindered, why he let them go or why they left, and never once did he talk about them with anything more than a passing fondness for a friend. Except Susan, of course, though he spoke of her little and Rose understood why.
Martha, she could tell, was crashing. Just as she had when meeting Sarah Jane.
“So, she was promised one trip too?” Martha asked, fear in her voice while she stared down the Doctor. “Another one to say thanks?”
“No. I mean, yes, but she said no.” The Doctor replied. “Donna had a bit of a run in with aliens that drew her into the TARDIS and we helped her.”
Martha nodded, looking down trodden.
“If it’s any consolation,” Rose said with a bit of reluctance, getting Martha’s attention. “He only takes the best.”
She smiled weakly, nodding as she headed for the jumpseat and plopped down.
“Martha?” The Doctor said, though he didn’t get a rise out of her. “Still want to go to the beach?”
Before Martha could reply, and alarm like the one that summoned them to the Cuplas. “Distress signal.” He Doctor mused, going for the monitor, typing in a few things and reading the Gallifreyan that popped up.
“Ooh, I wonder who we’ll meet today,” Rose teased beside him. “Number five? Or Maybe number eight?” She said, sending a cheeky grin to Martha in hopes to perk her up. Instead, Martha rolled her eyes and scowled, shaking her head and looking away. What was that about, Rose wondered?
“Oh I’m not letting you anywhere near number eight,” The Doctor said quietly in such a serious way that she had to laugh.
“Yeah? Why not?” She asked him, her humor returned.
He looked her in the eye. “The reading kick you’ve been on lately? Honestly, I’m worried you’ll want to have some time alone with him for a while.” The Doctor said quietly.
“Oh?” Rose arched a brow. In her mind the TARDIS flashed her an image of a gorgeous man with brown curls and blue eyes, dressed nearly exactly how she pictured Mister Darcy or Mister Rochester in her books. “Oh!” Rose exclaimed looking up at the TARDIS ceiling. “Is that why you’ve been pushing those books on me?” She asked, and the Old Girl sang a happy song in Rose’s mind as confirmation. She then looked down at the Doctor who eyed her suspiciously. “Got that outfit kicking around somewhere?”
His ears turned red as he changed the coordinates. “Locking on.” He said. “And no, it’s not another TARDIS.” He said pointedly to Rose who chuckled in her chest.
A moment later they were tossed on to the floor, Martha included, and the ship came to a shuddering land.
“Oi, turbulence.” Rose said, rubbing her head.
“Yeah, sorry about that.” He said as he got up. “Well, let’s go have a look, shall we?” He said to the two women before darting for the doors.
“I’ll never tell him this,” Martha said conspiratorially to Rose with a bitter undertone. “But there is a major difference between when he lands and you do.”
Rose laughed, allowing Martha to loop her arm with hers as they exited the TARDIS.
The heat hit Rose hard in the face, and she was sweating in seconds. “Blimey that’s warm.” She said, disentangling herself from Martha to peel off her jumper and toss it back inside the TARDIS. She held the door open for Martha to toss her leather jacket inside as well. Adjusting her white camisole, Rose moved to stand closer to the coolest person in the room and instantly wondered how even he could tolerate a blazer and an oxford over a t-shirt. Then his smug voice echoed in her mind, reminding her of his superior biology, and she kept her mouth shut.
“Venting systems.” The Doctor said as he examined their surroundings. “Working at full pelt. Trying to cool down, uh, wherever we we are.” He turned to the girls. “Well, if you can’t stand the heat ….” He gestured with his head toward the heavy metal door.
Rose glanced behind her to Martha who shrugged, coming up beside her fellow companion and allowing the Doctor to open the door for them. They all stepped through with a collective sigh as intense heat became uncomfortably high.
“Well that’s better.” He said with a grin, not a drop of sweat on him while Rose felt sticky with it, and Martha was glistening just as bad.
“Oi! You three!” They heard a man yell at them, and they turned to see two men and a woman running toward them. “Seal that door!” He added, before he and the other bloke stepped around the befuddled trio to shut the door.
“Who are you? What are you doing on my ship?” The woman asked sternly, and maybe a little nervously.
“Are you police?” The man who spoke before asked.
“Why would we be police?” The Doctor asked, looking around at all of them.
“You sent a distress signal,” Rose reminded them. “We locked on to it.”
“If this is a ship, why can’t I hear any engines?” The Doctor asked, still seeming not to trust the people in front of them.
“It went dead four minutes ago.” The woman said, pushing aside her sweat drenched hair.
“So maybe we should stop chatting and get to engineering, Captain?” he man who had yet to speak asked in a mocking tone that earned him a glare from the woman.
“Secure closure active”, a computerized voice echoed around them as the sound of doors closing shut sounded around them. Rose looked around as the woman before them cried out angrily, and another woman came running toward them.
“Who activated secure closure?” The short haired woman grunted bitterly. “I nearly got locked into area 27.” She demanded as another door closed. “Who are you three?”
Martha came up to Rose, tugging on her hand, staring out a small porthole in the wall.
“I’m the Doctor. That’s my partner, Rose, and our companion Martha.” He replied as she and Martha moved to look out the window.
“Impact projection: forty-two minutes,” That computer voice ran out, and a shiver went down Rose’s spin.
“Is that what I think it is?” Martha asked her quietly.
“I think so.” Rose confessed, and was not surprised to feel Martha’s hand grip hers.
“Forty-two minutes until what?” The Doctor asked.
“Come see,” Rose said over her shoulder, her voice eerily calm even to her own ears. She looked back out the porthole, feeling the Doctor’s hand on her shoulder as he leaned his head between hers and Martha’s.
“Forty-two minutes until we crash into the sun,” the woman who seemed to be the captain replied.
“How many crew members on board?” The Doctor demanded, the sudden absence of his cool presence felt more strongly in the intense heat.
“Seven, including us.” The likely Captain replied.
“We transport cargo,” said the older of the two men with them, a gruff middle-aged looking bloke. “Everything’s automated. We just keep the ship up and running.”
“Call the others, we’ll get you out.” The Doctor said as he darted back to the door.
“No, don’t!” The Captain cried out as the other three crew members rushed to stop him.
As the Doctor gets the door open before the get to him, a gush of steam blasts through the opening. With a cry of pain, he stumbled backward and Rose dove to catch him. Barely keeping upright herself, she managed to right him, holding his hand and seeing the harsh, pink tinge marring his usually pale complexion.
“But my ship’s in there!” He protested as the sound of the door closed ended the loud hiss of heat.
“In the vent chamber?” The younger of the two men asked incredulously.
“It’s out lifeboat!” The Doctor tried to argue, gently extracting his hand from Rose’s grip.
“It’s Lava.” Middle-aged bloke said coldly.
“The temperature’s going mad in there!” The young woman who came up to them earlier remarked as she pushed a mask and sweat off her face. “Up three thousand degrees and still rising.”
“Channeling the air,” The young man nodded. “The closer we get to the sun, the hotter that room’s gonna get.”
“We’re stuck here.” Martha grumbled, shooting a dark glare over at the Doctor.
“Hey, ‘s not his fault.” Rose tried to sooth. “Been in worse spots than this.”
It seemed that the Martha was not having any of it, crossing her arms and glaring at Rose now before shaking her head and looking away.
“We’ll fix the engines. Had a little hands on training with that lately, these lovely girls did. We get things right then steer the ship away from the Sun! Simple!” He threw a thumb over his right shoulder. “Engineering down here, is it?” He asked, getting a nod of confirmation from the crew.
He took off running, and Rose followed while ignoring the annoying countdown and putting a mental feeler out for the TARDIS. The old girl hummed miserably back in her head, and Rose could almost imagine her as a human complaining about an overly warm summer day. She barely contained the amused grin that threatened to break through as they arrived in the engine room.
It didn’t take long to wrangle it in when she took in the charred, chaotic mess that looked far worse than anything the Cuplas had tried to do.
“Blimey, do you always leave things in such a mess?” The Doctor noted with a bit of a tease.
“What the hell happened?” Middle-aged bloke said as the captain gasped and looked around.
The crew circled the various pieces that were likely the engine before someone got their hands and a blow torch on it. The younger one nudged hotter pieces with his toes.
“It’s wrecked.” He stated the obvious with disbelief.
“And pretty efficiently too. Someone knew what they were doing.” The Doctor commented, and Rose watched as the crew exchanged worried glances.
“This couldn’t have been done by the ship over heating, could it?” Rose asked the Captain, adjusting her camisole in hopes to relieve some of the sticky feeling.
“Not this badly, I’m afraid.” She said in a whisper, suspicion in her eyes mixed with a bit of fear.
“You mean someone did this on purpose?” Martha’s voice came from behind, and Rose turned to see she was hugging herself as she looked wide-eyed to the captain.
“Where’s Korwin?” The Captain asked as she turned away from the girls, glancing around the room. “Has anyone heard from him or Ashton.” The crew shook their heads, and the captain darted over to an intercom on the opposite wall. “Korwin? Ashton? Where are you?” She looked around the room nervously, not meeting anyone’s eye as no response came. “Korwin, can you answer me?” She asked, a bit of a nag to her voice. Sill no response, and suddenly she looked more like a put-off spouse than a captain.
“Oh, we’re in the Torajii system!” The Doctor said cheerfully, and Rose turned to see he was reading off a screen at a computer terminal, specs in place as he beamed over toward Rose and Martha. “Lovely! You two are a long way from home. Half a Universe away”
“Technically I’m only a few corridors away from home, but I get what you’re sayin’.” Rose said with a wink, getting him to grin a little wider before it fell swiftly.
Rose glanced to Martha who glared back at them. Someone, it would seem, was not having the best of days.
“Sorry.” Rose mouthed, and Martha sort of shrugged and nodded.
“Says here you’re still using energy scoops for fusion.” The Doctor said, gesturing to the computer. “Hasn’t that been outlawed yet?” He asked, and Rose could tell by the look in his eyes it was a test. He already knew, and he wanted to know what the crew would say.
She watched them look at each other, guilty.
“We’re due to upgrade next docking.” The captain replied before turning sharply to Middle-aged bloke. “Scannell, engine report.”
Scannell moved to the computer, stepping between it and the Doctor. He typed quickly with a practiced hand, and Rose gravitated next to the Doctor in an attempt to read the screen. As she tried to make sense of the techno-babble that came up, his hand slipped into hers, rubbing her thumb.
It was odd that she should suddenly remember the impossible planet. The two situations couldn’t be more different, even if they did lose the TARDIS for a period of time, and it did seem as though they would be stuck there forever. But this problem had a solve-by date. It wasn’t impossible, merely daunting and terrifying.
“No response,” Scannell finally said, moving to the giant mass of what was probably toasted engine.
“What?” The Captain asked, barely containing her panic.
“They’re burnt out,” Scannell explained as she showed her some still attached though heavily charred wiring. “The controls are wrecked, I can’t get them back online.”
The Doctor removed his glasses, pointing at Scannell with them. “Oh come on! Auxiliary engines! Every craft’s got them!”
The Captain shook her head. “We don’t have access from here, the controls are at the front of the ship.” She explained.
“With twenty-nine password sealed doors between us and them. Never get there in time,” Scannell said with gruff defeat.
“Can’t you override the doors?” Martha asked as if that should be the obvious solution.
“No, sealed closure means what it says,” Scannell partially snapped back. “They’re all dead-lock sealed.”
The Doctor groaned. “So a sonic screwdriver’s no use.” He grumbled.
“Nothing’s any use!” Scannell snorted. “We’ve got no engines, no time, and no chance.”
“Well you’re just a big bowl of sunshine, aren’t you?” Rose snapped back only to earn a dark glare from the crew. “Right, sorry, poor choice of words.” She said sheepishly.
“She has a point, though. You’re all acting defeated before you’ve even started.” The Doctor tried to back her up, but if she was honest with herself she felt pretty horrible about her choice of words. “Who’s got the door passwords?” He asked the Captain.
“They’re randomly generated.” The young man said. “Reckon I know most of ‘em.” He said with a shrug. “I’m Riley Vashti, by the way.” He said as an after thought, offering his hand to the Doctor.
“Riley Vashti,” he said as he accepted the young man’s polite gesture. “Excellent. What are you waiting for, then?”
“Well, it’s a two person job.” Riley explained as he moved to the side of the room. He picked up what looked like a backpack and a huge magna clamp, the sight of the latter sending a shudder through Rose violently enough to dislodge her hand from the Doctor’s. “One takes to answer the questions, and the other to carry this.” He said as he gestured with the pack. “Oldest and cheapest security system around, eh Captain?” He said as if it were a bit of a dig.
“Reliable and simple, just like you, Riley.” She replied.
“Try to be helpful, get abuse.” He grumbled, shaking his head.
“I’ll help you,” Martha offered, taking up the backpack from Riley’s hand and putting it on her back. “Make myself useful.” She added as she turned to follow Riley down the corridor.
“Oi,” The Doctor called, and she stopped for a moment. “Be careful.” He said, and Martha smiled for the first time since stepping on the ship.
“You too,” She said, looking to Rose. “Both of you.”
Rose nodded, smiling back before Martha left their sight.
“McDonnell?” An unfamiliar voice cracked over the intercom. “It’s Ashton!”
The Captain moved to the intercom. “Where are you? Is Korwin with you?” She asked, waiting on baited breath for the reply that came quickly.
“Get up to the med-center now.” The voice replied seriously, and Rose turned to the Doctor.
“Suddenly I wish Martha stayed and I went.” She said nervously.
“Stay here, see where you can help. I’ll go with McDonnell.” He said as he started following the captain.
Rose nodded before turning to Scannell. “Alright, so, engine’s fried, yeah? Maybe we can clean away the scorch and salvage some things. Pretty handy with anti-gravs and bio-signature matrixes. Probably don’t have the latter on board, but still.”
“You can give me a hand with the thrusts over here.” He said, showing the first hint of a smile since they stepped on board, and Rose beamed.
“Impact in 34:31.” The computer voice rang out.
“Oi, don’t have to be so chipper about it.” Rose growled at the voice, earning a nervous laugh from Scannell.