Shakespeare Code pt 1
“So, where do you want to go first? Forward or backward?” The Doctor asked Martha.
“Do backward,” Rose said immediately, a grin pulling at her lips. “I said forward and he took me to the end of the world.”
“Yet I seem to remember when I took you to the past you were knocked out, kidnapped, and nearly killed by the gelth.” The Doctor mused. “All that happened at the end of the world was nearly being killed by a, what did you call her? A bitchy trampoline?”
“Yeah,” Rose said, trying to avoid the burning gaze she felt on the side of her face. Eventually she couldn’t help but meet Martha’s wide eyed gaze. “Don’t worry, it’s not always near death, Earth ending adventures.”
“No, it’s fine.” Martha said quickly. “Umm, well, surprise me then.” She smiled at the Doctor, shrugging slightly. “Pick an adventure.”
“Alright then,” The Doctor grinned manically. “Let’s see, Rose’s first past adventure was with … oh, oh I know who we should see.” He said, his started entering controls. “Here we go, off to 1599.” He announced, jumping around the controls. The TARDIS shook.
“Blimey, do you need to take a test to fly this thing?” Martha asked, clinging to the console.
“Yep, and I failed.” He confessed before shooting Rose a warning look. “Don’t you dare comment, missy.” He said firmly.
Rose’s mouth twisted around as she barely managed to contain her smile. “Once we land we should head to the wardrobe.” Rose said, turning to Martha in an effort to sober.
“Why would you need to do that?” The Doctor asked, a whine to his voice as his face scrunched in confusion.
“’Cause the last time you took me into the past I was accused of running around naked.” Rose reminded him as the TARDIS shuddered to a stop. She let go of the console and started walking backwards. “This time we’re liable to be accused of dressing like men.” She glanced over Martha, taking in her thin-strapped tank top. She didn’t dare say it, what with some of the things she’d been known to wear, but Martha would still probably be considered indecent on top of the cross dressing.
“Okay, fine.” The Doctor relented with a sigh. “But don’t take too long.” He warned.
“Follow me,” Rose said, gesturing down the hall with her head, pausing as Martha seemed to debate whether she should actually go with her. After an encouraging nod from the Doctor, their new companion complied.
Rose led her down the twisted corridor.
“It’s huge in here,” Martha noted, and Rose looked over her shoulder to see the other woman looking around at everything with wide eyed wonder.
“You’ve no idea.” Rose said. “The TARDIS has been known to rearrange rooms to make them easier to find, or more difficult in some cases. The wardrobe, however, rarely moves, although,” She stopped in front of a door, pressing her back against it and smiling cheekily at Martha. “The TARDIS’s been kind enough to create a short cut for me that the Doctor doesn’t know ‘bout yet.” She put her hand on the latch and opened the door, back pressed against the oak as she allowed Martha an unobstructed view of the multi-level room.
“This is ridiculous.” Martha laughed as she walked in, hands covering her mouth. “What could one alien need with all this?”
“He, ah, tends to change things up on occasion,” Rose said, biting her lip as she thought of her previous Doctor. “Plus companions, you know. Our clothing isn’t always the most appropriate for the places we go, such as traveling to 1599.”
Martha nodded, seeming to accept this as she moved toward a staircase. Oddly enough it was the right way for the era, and Rose followed.
“Probably best not to pick anything too extravagant. Never know what might happen and the heavy dresses are harder to move in,” She advised as she noted a dress that stood out from the others as Martha walked by. Rose touched material of the white sleeve. It was silk like in texture, though appeared to be linen. She removed it from the rack, taking in the muted gold coloring of the corset like bodice and simple long skirt.
“What about this?” Martha asked as she held out a dress similar in style, though the neckline was squared instead of off the shoulder. It was all burgundy, like the leather jacket she had worn to her brother’s party.
“That will work.” Rose said stepping behind a changing screen. She threw her jeans and jumper over the top of the screen, sliding the straps of her bra off her shoulders, looping her arm out and tucking them into the band. The bodice may be prepared to do wonders in keeping things in place, but she remembered what it was like running in Cardiff all that time ago while relying on century relevant undergarments. After wrangling the dress on, changing her trainers to flats in case anyone noticed her feet, Rose stepped out and spotted Martha smoothing out the skirt of her dress in front of a mirror.
“Does it look alright?” She asked with a nervous smile.
“You look lovely,” Rose said, coming up to Martha and noting just how much more elegant the tall, thin woman looked in comparison to her. “Come on, we shouldn’t keep the Doctor waiting.” She added quickly, lifting her skirt and leading Martha out through the door they came through. Rose was pleasantly surprised to find the TARDIS brought the door to the front of the hall, and she waved for Martha to go first.
“Oh don’t you look lovely,” The Doctor echoed Rose’s sentiment, though it was a couple seconds later that she saw the wide grin that accompanied the praise.
“For a human?” Rose ribbed as she joined them in the console room.
“Now, come on.” He said, glancing quickly at her then doing a double take. His grin fell into something a little different, though equally appreciative. “I wasn’t really … that is to say when I said that.”
“Shouldn’t you change?” Martha asked, and he looked relieved to have the distraction.
“No, never change. Well, not never, just not often. Anyway, go ahead Martha, have a look.” He said, waving her toward the doors. He grabbed his coat and shrugged it on as he followed the eager traveler out the door.
Rose moved a little more slowly, giving Martha the chance to enjoy the experience of stepping out into a new time without an experienced companion possibly being less than thrilled.
As she opened the TARDIS door a little more, she saw the Doctor pulling Martha back toward him just before something splattered on the ground a few feet away from where Martha had just been.
“Before toilets were common place. Sorry about that.” He said, letting go of her and stepping off to the side. He glanced back at the TARDIS, his lips curling slightly as he caught Rose’s eye and extended a hand toward her.
“I’ve seen worse,” Martha said as Rose took the Doctor’s hand and allowed him to lead her around the wretched smelling mess. Martha side stepped it, barely paying it any mind. “I’ve worked the late night shift at A&E,” she added before stopping stone still in the middle of th street. “Wait, are we safe? Should we move around?”
The Doctor paused, looking to Rose in confusion before looking back to Martha. “Of course we can, why do you ask?” He questioned his newest companion.
“It’s like in the films. You step on a butterfly, you change the future of the human race.” Martha replied.
“Oh, it’s not that bad. Really.” Rose said, waving it off. “So long as you don’t affect anyone related to you, you should be fine.” She said, the memory of the reapers flickering in her mind.
“What if,” Martha said, catching up to them as the Doctor attempted to go a little further down the road. “I dunno, what if I kill my grandfather.” Martha asked.
The Doctor’s brow furrowed. “In 1599? More like your great, great, great, great, great grandfather, and even still, chances are slim he’d be here in London.”
“This is London?” Martha asked in disbelief, looking around.
“Should be,” The Doctor replied, causing Rose to giggle quietly beside him. She ignored the glare he tried to give her, focusing her attention on Martha.
“Am I alright?” She asked. “I’m not going to get carted off as a slave, am I?” She asked, glancing around.
“Why would they do that?” The Doctor asked, looking to Rose for help.
“Not exactly white, in care you haven’t noticed.” Martha replied, hands pressed to her chest.
“I’m not even human,” The Doctor shrugged, putting his hands in his pockets, poking an elbow out toward Rose for her to loop her arm through. “Just walk about like you own the place, works for us.” He said as she rested her hand in the crook of his elbow. “Besides, you’d be surprised. Elizabethan England, not so different from your own time.”
“It’s a bit different.” Rose argued.
“I don’t think so. Look, they have recycling,” The Doctor said, point to a man shoveling manure.
“That’s just keeping the street clean,” Rose countered.
“Water cooler moment,” The Doctor challenged, gesturing to a pair of men talking around a water barrel. Rose couldn’t argue that one without getting too technical.
Seeming pleased with her lack of rebuttal, he nodded his head toward a man preaching about the world going up in flames. “Global warming,” The Doctor snickered.
“Or a regular doomsday believer.” Rose smiled.
“Entertainment for the masses,” The Doctor continued on, pausing as he looked at their surroundings, an excited light coming to his eyes. “And we are just down the river by Southwark which means ….” He whipped his other arm out, grabbing Martha’s hand. He took off running, and Rose had to hold his elbow tighter to not lose grip. Lifting her skirts with one hand, she kept pace with the Doctor’s mad sprint as he rounded the corner. “The Globe Theatre.” He beams. “Though strictly speaking it’s not a globe, it’s a tetradecagon. Fourteen sides. And behind those walls, the man himself.”
Rose looked up at him, trying to figure out who “the man” he was referring to could be. She tried not to let the annoyance cross her face when Martha gasped.
“Whoa, you don’t mean.” She said from the other side of the Doctor, and Rose had to turn her head to hide the eye roll. “Is Shakespeare in there?”
“Oh yes,” The Doctor said with the kind of glee she hadn’t heard since Charles Dickens. “Would you ladies like to accompany me to the theater?” He asked.
“I would love to, Mister Smith.” Martha said, the smile Rose couldn’t see but knew was there laced in Martha’s tone.
“Rose?” He asked her.
“Lead the way,” She said, lifting her skirts once more as they made their way toward the theater.
It was hardly the first time Rose felt significantly under educated in the Doctor’s presence. He rambled on about things beyond her comprehension all the time. But this was different, this was something she could make no excuse for except for perhaps her being an Estate kid. While the theatre goers below and around them were mildly entertained, and The Doctor and Martha fully entranced, Rose was lost. She knew of the more popular stories, of course. She watched West Side Story, 10 Things I Hate About You, and O, but she also knew they were a far cry from the masterpiece that was their source material. She could hardly follow along with the help of a study guide in school, and with the play before her being one of his lesser known she didn’t even have a faint memory of what was going on to help reference.
She worried her skirt the whole time the actors were on the stage, feeling an insecurity she hadn’t felt in a long time start to bubble to the surface. It wasn’t a competition, not really, but how could she even stand beside an educated woman like Martha with an appreciation for the things the Doctor seemed to love? Not for the first time since sitting down in the balcony seating, Rose wondered what it would have been like if Donna had come with them instead.
Applause brought her out of her thoughts, and she was quick to join the masses in their cheering despite the fact she still had no idea what was going on.
“That was amazing, just amazing!” Martha exclaimed, grabbing the Doctor’s arm with a white-knuckled grip. “It’s worth putting up with the smell.”
“Not that different from the tube during summer,” Rose commented with a shrug, though she did have to admit it took her a bit to get used to the stench.
“I suppose,” Martha shrugged, hardly paying attention to Rose while craning her head, searching for something. “Where’s Shakespeare? I want to see Shakespeare. Author!” She shouted down below. “Author,” She repeated before pausing, her cheeks coloring before looking to the Doctor with a touch of embarrassment. “Do people shout that?”
Someone down below picked up Martha’s chant, the rest of the theatre starting to join in.
“Well, the do now.” The Doctor mused.
Rose turned her attention down to the stage, watching as a man in his thirties came out. Well dressed, clean looking, he bowed low before waving to the crowd, blowing kisses, basking in their praise.
“He’s a bit different from his portraits,” Martha noted.
“Mmm, I’ll say.” Rose said, admiring the man below appreciatively. “Never would have guess he was such a good looking bloke.”
“Really?” She heard the Doctor say though she didn’t look back at him.
“He kinda is.” Martha agreed.
“Kinda looks like a hero from a romance,” Rose added, biting her lip as she noted how Shakespeare’s shirt was open just a bit, revealing a broad chest. She vaguely wondered if it would be smooth, or have the perfect amount of hair to add to his manly perfection.
“He’s a genius,” The Doctor said as if he was trying to correct their way of thinking. “The genius. The most human Human that’s ever been.” And then his reverence took over the indignation in his tone. “Now we’re going to hear him speak. He chooses the best words. New, beautiful, brilliant words.” He said with awe.
“Shut your big fat mouths,” Shakespeare yelled jovially to the crowd, and Rose burst out laughing with the rest while Martha and the Doctor remained silent.
“Oh,” The Doctor said.
“Brilliant words indeed,” Rose smiled.
“You have excellent taste, I’ll give you that.” Shakespeare continued before suddenly pointing to someone. “Oh, that’s a wig.”
Rose chuckled with the crowd, the giddiness of a school girl with a celebratory crush starting to come over her. She could feel the Doctor’s eyes starting to bore into the back of her head, but she didn’t really care.
“I know what you’re all saying. Loves Labour’s Lost, that’s a funny ending. It just stops. Will the boys get the girls? Well, don’t get your hose in a tangle, you’ll find out soon.” He bows, and then suddenly he shoots back up, like he was kicked from behind or pulled up by the collar. “When? Tomorrow night.” He said, though he looked surprised by the revelation himself. “The premiere of my brand new play. A sequel, no less. And I call it Loves Labour’s Won.”
“Woo!” Rose called, applauding eagerly with the audience. She had no idea that the play ended so abruptly, but she could appreciate a man giving the audience what they wanted.
Shakespeare and the cast left the stage, and the crowd started to file out. She turned, catching the less than enthused looks on both the Doctor and Martha’s faces. While the former looked oddly skeptical, the later looked confused. Neither said anything as they left the theatre.
“I’m not an expert,” Martha said when they were a few feet away. “But I’ve never heard of Loves Labour’s Won.” She said, explaining her confusion.
“Exactly,” The Doctor said thoughtfully, hands in his pockets. “The lost play. It doesn’t exist, only in rumors. It’s mentioned in the lists of his plays, but never ever turns up. No one knows why.”
“We could tape it,” Martha said with a grin. “Sell it when we get home and make a mint.” She looked to Rose who had to look away, literally biting her tongue.
“No,” She heard the Doctor said sternly.
“That would be bad?” Martha asked, sounding chastised.
“Yeah,” The Doctor added.
“And here I thought you only took the best.” Rose said quietly, mostly to herself, but as she glanced up she could tell the Time Lord heard. She shrank a bit at the glare but still felt a bit of anger rising in her. Adam did something stupid and it was an instant send home. Martha was clearly thinking along the same lines as him, yet the Doctor didn’t seem to be heading back toward the TARDIS at all.
“Well, how come it disappeared in the first place?” Martha asked thoughtfully, and Rose knew instantly what was going to happen.
“Well,” He said, dragging out the word and sounding partly torn. “I was just gonna give you a quick little trip, but I suppose we could stay a bit longer.”
Rose watched as he flashed Martha a grin, and she sighed heavily. His interest was peeked, and Martha knowing full well that this play shouldn’t exist had asked just the right questions to get him to stay. Not a bad thing, Rose was always up for a little investigating. But she could feel herself being pushed to the back once again, her lack of knowledge on near five hundred year old (in her time, anyway) plays making her the least useful of the two companions. As the Doctor took charge and lead them down the road away from the TARDIS, she fell a couple steps behind them. He glanced over his shoulder to make sure she was still following, but didn’t say anything or pause for her to join him at his side.
He lead them surely toward a building, and Rose paused to glance up at the sign. Elephant Inn. The Doctor didn’t pause, and he was already inside and heading up the stairs as Rose hurried to catch up.
“Hello,” The Doctor’s voice echoed down the stairs. “Excuse me, I’m not interrupting am I?”
“Oh no, no. Who let you in?” She heard Shakespeare say as she came up behind the Doctor and Martha. She tried to crane her head to see, but couldn’t. “No autographs, and please don’t ask me where I get my ideas from. Thanks for the interest, now be a good boy and shove ….” He stopped, quite suddenly. “Hey, nonny nonny. Sit right down here next to me. You two, get sewing. Off you go.”
As Martha stepped around the Doctor, two men pushed past Rose, glancing at her before disappearing down the hall.
When the Doctor stepped further into the room, it allowed Rose to enter, standing beside him roughly where Martha had been.
Shakespeare glanced up from Martha, doing a double take and smiling. “You keep exquisite company, sir.” He said with an appreciative smile. “Perhaps your other companion would like to sit to my left.”
“Oh, umm, I think she’ll stay by me.” He said, and Rose felt the brush of his fingers on her waist.
She stepped away, moving toward Shakespeare. “Come, now, Doctor.” She teased as she sat on the edge of Shakespeare’s desk, crossing her legs before looking over her shoulder at the flabbergasted alien. “How often to I get invited to sit with the genius.”
“Doctor, you say?” Shakespeare said, looking to the slack jawed man in pin strips.
He managed to pull himself together to come and sit beside Martha across from Shakespeare, reaching in his pocket and pulling out his psychic paper. “Sir Doctor of TARDIS,” he said. “This is Dame Rose of Powell Estate, and our companion, Miss Martha Jones.”
“Interesting, that bit of paper.” Shakespeare said, gesturing to it. “It’s blank.” He said with a touch of cheek.
The Doctor beamed. “Oh that’s very clever.” He said, shaking his head in awe. “That proves it. Absolute genius.”
Martha furrowed her brow, peering at the paper. “No, it says so. Sir Doctor, Dame Rose, Martha Jones.” She said, pointing it out.
Rose could see it, noting how the wording actually read Sir Doctor of Tardis and his wife, Dame Rose of Powell Estate.
“And I say it’s blank.” Shakespeare said smugly.
“It’s psychic paper. Tells people what you want them to see.” The Doctor explained to Martha as he tucked the paper away.
“Psychic. Never heard that before and words are my trade. Who are you, exactly? And more to the point, who are the beautiful women you have managed to surround yourself with? The sweet golden girl and your delicious blackmoore lady.”
“What did you say?” Martha asked, seemingly caught off.
“Isn’t that a word we use nowadays? An Ethiop girl? A swarth? A Queen of Afric?”
“I can’t believe I’m hearing this,” Martha said with a shake of her head before bowing it slightly.
“It’s political correctness gone mad.” The Doctor tried to sooth. “Um, Martha’s from a far-off land. Freedonia.”
Shakespeare nodded. “And you, Dame Rose, are you of this Freedonia as well?”
“Oh,” Rose grinned. “No, I’m not.”
“So you are an English Dame? Quite rare.” He noted, looking her over in a way that was both studious and appreciative.
“I saved a Queen once. Not your Queen, of course, one from a distant land.” She made up with the kind of ease she could have only learned from the Doctor. “She was so appreciative of my efforts she knighted me.”
“And how did you save this Queen?” Shakespeare asked, leaning toward her in a slightly suggestive way.
“Hmm,” Rose hummed. “If I were to tell you now, what would there be to discuss later? Better to keep a bit of mystery, yeah?” She asked, her tongue peeking out between her teeth as she grinned.
Shakespeare smiled appreciatively.
“Excuse me!” She had half expected it to be the Doctor that interrupted their flirt, but she turned to see that the stunned alien was not the one to have spoken. It was a bigger man, finely dressed and radiating self importance. As he stepped into the room Rose could feel the light hearted atmosphere shift to tense. “Hold hard a moment,” The man continued “This is abominable behaviour. A new play with no warning? I demand to see a script, mister Shakespeare. As Master of Revels, every new script must be registered and examined by me before it can be performed.”
“Tomorrow morning, first thing, I’ll send it ‘round.” Shakespeare said with a huff and sigh, as if this was not his first negative encounter with this man.
“I don’t work to your schedule, you work to mine.” The man puffed out his chest. “The script, now.”
“I can’t.” Shakespeare replied, maintaining his calm.
“Then tomorrow’s performance is canceled. I’m returning to my office for a banning order. Loves Labours Won will never be played.” He declared before turning and leaving, giving his over coat a flick for good measure.
Once the man was gone, Shakespeare rubbed his brow. “Lynley.” He said as if it was the only explanation needed. “He’s always been eager to find a way to hinder me.”
“There’s always someone trying to hold you back.” Rose attempted to reassure.
“But I’m afraid he may succeed this time.” Shakespeare sighed.
“Well, then,” Martha sighed, slapping her thighs. “Mystery solved. Thought it might be something more, you know … mysterious.” She said, looking around the room.
The Doctor pouted, almost as if he had hoped for more as well. Which made his face lighting up for a moment at the screaming outside momentarily adorable.
The four of them bolted from the room, clamoring down the stairs and rushing out onto the street. They looked around.
“There,” Rose pointed to the crowd and they all took off running, seeing the Lynley man spitting up water as he clutched his throat, sinking down to the ground.
“What’s wrong with him?” The Doctor asked, shoving past the forming crowd of spectators with Martha in tow. “Let us through, we’re Doctors.”
Rose stood off to the side with Shakespeare, watching as Martha checked over the man while the Doctor darted down a side street a moment before returning to Martha. The both twitched backward, the crowd backing further away. The Doctor got down on his knee, looking over the man with Martha, the two seeming to discuss what could have happened.
“Are you alright?” Shakespeare asked her, and Rose nodded.
“Not the first time strange things like this have happened around me.” She replied with a half-hearted smile.
“But something else is bothering you.” Shakespeare noted.
Before Rose could say anything in reply, the Doctor stood, drawing their attention. “Good mistress,” He said to the woman Rose had figured to be the Inn Keeper. “This poor fellow has died from a sudden imbalance of the humors. A natural if unfortunate demise. Call a constable and have him taken away.”
“Yes, sir.” She said with a nod.
“I’ll do it, ma’am.” The young woman Rose recognized as the maid from Shakespeare’s room said, putting a hand on her boss’s arm as if to comfort before taking off down the road.
The Doctor knelt back down beside Martha, and the two had another quiet conversation, though Martha seemed a little annoyed with him.
He stood a moment later, striding toward Rose and Shakespeare.
“So?” She asked.
He put his hands in his pockets a moment, looking down at her as if he was trying to tell her something. He then lifted his right hand, making as if to brush her hair, and paused. Rose nodded ever so slightly, and the Doctor’s fingers brushed against her temple.
“Witchcraft,” The whisper of his voice said in her mind, and she barely suppressed the shudder that proceeded from his withdraw as well as the information.
“A night like this,” The Inn keeper said as she approached them with Martha’s arm comfortingly around her. “I believe we could all use a drink. Sir, would you and your ladies require accommodations?”
“Yes, that would be lovely, thank you.” The Doctor replied, smiling down at her.
“We best get inside.” The inn keeper said, gesturing to the door and stepping out of Martha’s hold.
The four of them followed her inside, but the three travelers followed Shakespeare to his room. Martha and Rose resumed their places from before, the Doctor hesitating before doing the same. He glanced up at Rose fleetingly, trying to discern something she would guess, before a shadow fell over her. A stein of ale was handed to her by Shakespeare, and she smiled at him in thanks before he handed another to Martha.
A moment later the woman from the street came in, carrying another two steins, handing one to Shakespeare first before giving the other to the Doctor.
“I got you a room, Sir Doctor.” She said. “You and the ladies will be across the landing.”
“Thank you,” The Doctor replied, setting the stein on the desktop and smiling at the woman as she left.
“Poor Lynley,” Shakespeare said after a beat of silence and a hearty swig of his drink. “So many strange events. Not least of all, this land of Freedonia where a woman can be a doctor?” He said, turning his attention to Martha.
“Where a woman can do what she likes.” Martha countered with a hint of a smile.
“And you, Sir Doctor. How can a man so young have eyes so old?” He asked, turning his attention to the alien as he sank down in his chair. Rose’s skirts stirred slightly at the brush of his knee, drawing the Doctor’s eyes for a moment.
“I do a lot of reading,” He told Shakespeare.
“A trite reply.” The Bard said with a smirk. “It’s what I’d do. I also find it odd that while Martha looks at you like she can’t believe you exist, Dame Rose regards you with a deep familiarity. Not so much that I’d dare say she is yours, but enough that one with less insight might think so.”
From the corner of her eye Rose saw the Doctor open his mouth to say something, stopping as she leaned forward a touch.
“Oh you’re good.” She replied to Shakespeare with a humored tone. “Martha’s only just joined, and I’m sure you know many brutes wouldn’t allow her to keep the freedoms she’s so used to.” She said, surprising herself with her own quick reply.
Shakespeare narrowed his gaze on her, a smile playing on his lips. “That is certainly true for Martha, yet there’s something you still keep here,” He said raising a hand and letting his fingers fall on the exposed skin just below her left clavicle. “Close at heart.”
“Well, I think we should call it a night.” The Doctor declared, getting to his feet. “What do you think Martha?”
“Probably for the best.” She said, setting the stein down on the desk and turning to leave. She paused, flashing a wave to Shakespeare before leaving the room.
Shakespeare glanced between Rose and the Doctor, sighing before he said, “I must work.” He took Rose’s hand and gave it a gentle tug, prompting her to hop off the desk corner. “I have a play to complete. But I’ll get my answers tomorrow. Especially from you, Doctor. I’ll discover why this constant performance of yours.”
Rose chuckled in her throat as she headed for the door where the Doctor was already standing.
“All the world’s a stage.” He quoted, something Rose did recognize.
“Hm,” Shakespeare grunted. “I might use that. Goodnight Doctor, Rose.”
“Night,” Rose smiled back at him before heading out the room, the Doctor close behind. And close at her side, his hands in his pockets but his arm brushing against hers.
They entered the room they were given, noting the two small beds, the small table and chair, and not much else.
“Not exactly five-star, is it?” Martha commented as she glanced around the room as if she hoped another pass over would improve it somehow.
“Oh it’ll do, I’ve seen worse.” The Doctor said as he looked around, leaning against the desk and crossing his arms.
“I’ve lived in worse,” Rose confessed as she moved to a bed, laying down. The Doctor looked at her darkly, though the gaze wasn’t for her. It was distant, like he was seeing something or someone else entirely. Not for the first time, Rose wondered if he knew more about her past than she told or he let on. If he could know about a red bicycle when she was twelve, it’s entirely possible that Jimmy Stone allowing her to leave without a fuss was something he had a hand in also.
“So, who’s going where?” Martha asked, snapping him out of it. “Beds are pretty small.”
“Oh, well,” The Doctor said, looking down at the chair. “I don’t need much sleep me. I’ll just sit back here, take a quick kip.”
Martha nodded, plopping down on the other bed. “So magic and stuff, that’s a surprise. It’s a little bit Harry Potter.” She said, turning on the excitement.
“Wait till you read book seven. Oh, I cried.” The Doctor said, a dreamy smile coming to his lips.
“For days.” Rose teased. “He couldn’t even look at the thing without tearing up.”
“He died, Rose. He died and gave Harry his memories to show him how much he loved his mother and was only trying to protect him.” He rambled, sniffing slightly, and Rose wasn’t sure if it was his usual deflect or one to avoid getting emotional.
“Who dies?” Martha asked, her voice cracking a touch.
“A lot of people, don’t worry about it.” Rose waved it off, catching the Doctor’s momentary guilt before it disappeared with a clear of his throat.
“But it’s real, though? I mean, witches, black magic and all that, it’s real?” Martha asked, the eager curiosity coming back.
“’Course it isn’t.” The Doctor scoffed as he moved the chair and sat down.
“Well how am I supposed to know?” Martha retorted. “I’ve only just started believing in time travel.”
“Looks like witchcraft, but isn’t.” The Doctor said, mostly to himself as he adjusted so his feet were on the corner of the desk while he faced the girls.
“Obviously it’s alien,” Rose contemplated, closing her eyes. “Like the werewolf thing we encountered.”
“Yes,” The Doctor murmured. “But that was different. It was a direct physical attack, with a purpose. It wanted to pass on it’s traits, to make an empire. This, this is all so old. Old, and like I should know it.” He sighed. “You two, sleep. I’m sure it’ll come to me. And when it’s all done, Martha, I’ll take you back.”
No one said anything before someone blew out the candle. Martha, she suspected, though the Doctor could have moved to do it himself. The moon was bright enough that Rose could make out light from behind her eye lids, though as she opened them she still found it hard to see.
She laid there, half watching the Doctor as he seemed to have lost himself in his own brain, eyes unfocused and wide open. Eventually Martha’s breathing quieted and slowed, and Rose could guess she had fallen asleep. It was at that precise moment that the Doctor stood from his chair and laid in the small space beside Rose.
“I’m not sure what’s going on here.” He said quietly as Rose turned on her side to look up at him.
“We’ll figure it out,” She said quietly as well, absentmindedly running a finger over his blazer sleeve. “We’ve got the night to think it through.”
“That wasn’t what I was referring to.” He said, looking down at her with an arched brow. She stilled her fingers. “Flirting with Shakespeare? Not correcting him about … well, about.”
“About?” Rose asked.
“Well, I mean. He points out that he doesn’t think we’re together, and you don’t say anything to contradict him.”
“Because there’s nothing to contradict.” Rose said simply, though her chest constricted.
“Yes there is.” The Doctor said firmly, making sure he had her gaze locked in his before he cupped her cheek.
Heat rose at his touch. “Martha doesn’t think so.” She commented, doing her best to keep the bitterness out of her voice. “And with the way you fawn over her, can’t say I blame her.”
The Doctor grinned, making Rose’s cheeks heat for another reason. “Rose Tyler, are you jealous?” He teased as quietly as possible.
“No. Why should I be? ‘S not like I have a reason to be. I’m just another girl, really. Like Madamme de Pompousness, and Lynda with a ‘y’.”
He shook his head, his smile becoming adoring. “You are not just another girl.” He said, sliding down so they were eye to eye, close enough she could feel his cool breath on her face. “You’re my precious pink and yellow human.” He ran his thumb over her blushing cheeks, easing her a little. “Come here,” He whispered, shifting so he could bring her head down on his chest without her needing to move. The double beat of his hearts echoed comfortingly in her ears like a lullaby. He kissed the top of her head, his fingers tugging lightly at the tips of her hair. In the familiar comfort of his arms it didn’t take her long to drift off.
The scream woke her up, as did the sudden movement of the Doctor from beneath her. He was off the bed and darting out the room before she was fully upright, Martha stirring behind her on the other bed.
“What was that?” Martha asked.
“Nothing Good,” Rose replied, scooting off the bed and heading out into the hall. She noticed there was light in Shakespeare’s room, and she headed for the open door and found the Doctor crouched by the inn keeper with Shakespeare still seated at his desk looking utterly terrified. Something in the window caught Rose’s eye, and she went toward it. Martha was suddenly beside her, the two of them peering out the window.
Rose’s heart stopped a moment, and cold fear washed over her. “Did you see that?” She whispered, shifting her gaze to Martha.
She looked equally terrified. “Yeah.” She replied.
“What did you see?” The Doctor asked, peering between the two of them.
“A witch,” Martha confessed.
“On a broomstick,” Rose added. “Or something that looked like one.”
He didn’t say anything, his face becoming hard with thought. The darkness in his eyes caused Rose to take his hand in hers, and she wasn’t surprised by the tightness of his hold.
“We need to send for someone.” Shakespeare said, and Rose heard his steps hurry from the room.
She turned away from the window as much as she could, watching Martha retreat to the chair she had occupied earlier with an exhausted flop.
“You two should go back to sleep,” The Doctor said. “Nothing that can be done right now.” Martha nodded, standing, pausing by the Inn Keeper before heading back to the room. “I did mean both of you.” He added when Rose made no effort to move.
She shook her head. “I couldn’t. My mind is racing.”
“Rose,” he said with a warning to his tone.
“I don’t think I could anyway.” She admitted, rubbing the crease between her eyes as she furrowed her brow. “Not if you’re not there.”
She expected him to argue, but he pulled her toward him. Letting go of her hand he looped it around her waist, tucking her head under his chin until they heard footsteps on the stairs.
Rose sat down in Shakespeare’s chair as the man himself, the Doctor, and a pair of authoritative looking men gathered around the inn keeper. Her eye lids grew heavy as they discussed what happened, what could possibly be the cause. Eventually she allowed them to shut.
She awoke in the Doctor’s arms, held against his chest, his legs beneath her. After blinking the sleep from her eyes she understood they were back in the guest room, on her bed, and the door was open with a view into Shakespeare’s room. Rose felt his lips press into the top of her head before he took a deep breath, untangling his limbs from around her.
“How did I?” She started to ask.
“Fell asleep in the chair.” He replied quietly. “I brought you in.”
“How did I end up like this?” She asked, sliding off his lap but staying flush against him.
The Doctor shrugged, “I just sat down on the bed. You didn’t seem uncomfortable.”
“And you wanted Shakespeare to see so he’d back off?” She teased, arching her brow as she silently challenged him to deny it.
His eyes widened slightly, and he swallowed nervously. “Well, I wouldn’t say, that is that I don’t believe,” He reached up, adjusting his tie. “I know we talked last night, a bit, but that’s not to say I think ….” A heavy footstep echoed down the hall, and a shadow moved in Shakespeare’s room. “The day has begun.” The Doctor said with enthusiastic relief, shifting out of Rose’s hold and getting to his feet just as Martha stirred in the other bed. He reached out a hand, helping Rose to her feet as Martha sat up. “You ready to start your day Miss Jones?” The Doctor asked as he dropped Rose’s hand.
Martha rubbed sleep from her eyes before she stood with a sleepy grin. “Ready when you are.” She said, something sad in her tone.
The three left the room, moving for Shakespeare’s, falling in step behind a servant who was bringing up a tray of food. She smiled knowingly at them with tear stained cheeks, scooting into the room as quickly as she could.
Shakespeare glanced up at them from his desk, not a trace of surprise in his features as the all resumed the positions that had been taken up from the beginning. Rose eyed the food on the tray, but nothing really appealed to her despite how hungry she was starting to feel. Normally one to jump in on the local cuisine, something about dried bread and hard looking cheese didn’t quite wet her appetite enough.
When the servant girl left she closed the door, Shakespeare ran his finger over the crease in his brow. “Oh sweet Dolly Bailey,” He sighed. “She sat out three bouts of plague in this place. We all ran like rats. But what could have scared her so? She had such enormous spirit.”
“Sometimes even the bravest get scared. There’s some terrifying things in the universe.” Rose commented, crossing her legs.
“That maybe so. But there’s nothing in the world so terrifying, I would think, to arrest her heart so quickly.”
“Unless it was something not of this world.” Rose said without thinking, though Shakespeare only seemed to tilt his head as if to say she had a point.
“Lynley drowned on dry land,” Martha thought out loud. “Dolly died of fright, and they were both connected to you.”
“You’re accusing me?” Shakespeare asked, shooting Martha an annoyed glance.
“No, but I saw a witch, flying, cackling away, and you’ve written about witches.” Martha quickly explained, and the Doctor’s eyebrows shot to his hair line, his eyes slowly getting hard.
Shakespeare scrunched his face in confusion. “I have? When was that?”
“She merely means old crones and catty women.” Rose waved it off, picking up from the look the Doctor gave Martha that whatever she was talking about hadn’t happened yet. “It’s a colloquial term in Freedonia.”
But Shakespeare, it seemed, wasn’t paying attention. Deep in thought, he rubbed his chin, his eyes far off. “Peter Streete spoke of witches.” He said quietly.
“Who’s Peter Streete?” Martha asked.
“Our builder,” Shakespeare said with dismissive a wave of his hand. “He sketched the plans to the Globe.”
“The architect.” The Doctor mumbled, and Rose turned to see that look he got when pieces started coming together. The way his eyes dart around, and his mouth slowly falls open. “Hold on, the architect. The architect!” He slammed his fist down on the desk before standing abruptly, moving to to take Rose’s right hand in his left and pulling her off the desk. “The Globe! Come on,” He shouted, pulling Rose with him out the room and out the inn.
They tore through the streets, entering the theatre without anyone paying them any mind despite how strange they must look running about. The Doctor stopped them in the middle of the massive area where the common people stood to watch the show, while Martha and Shakespeare went up on to the stage.
Rose looked at the theatre from this new perspective, and without any of the other people crowded inside. The structure was gorgeous, rich but not overly posh. It welcomed any and everyone who wished to see the magic of theatre, even if they didn’t understand quite what was going on. The Doctor dropped her hand to put his in his pockets, and she ventured closer to the stage to take in the new angles. She could tell, even from where she stood in the pit below, what it must feel like to be to be an actor performing in front of so many people.
“’S Beautiful,” She said, shaking her head. “Absolutely beautiful. Makes me wish I had a deeper appreciation for such things all my life.”
“It is a magnificent structure,” Shakespeare agreed with a touch of pride, hands on his hips as he looked around the room. “It shall stand the test of time.”
“At least until a prop misfires,” The Doctor mumbled as he glanced around. “Though I have always wondered, but have never asked , why fourteen sides?” He asked more clearly, turning to Shakespeare.
The Bard looked around, uncertainty taking over where the pride had been. “It was the shape Peter thought best. Said it carried the sound well.”
The Doctor didn’t look convinced. “Why does that ring a bell? Fourteen?”
“There are fourteen lines in a sonnet.” Martha offered, the grin of the star pupil giving the right answer plastered across her face.
“So there is,” The Doctor replied thoughtfully. “Good point. Words and shapes following the same design.” He trailed off, pacing about. “Fourteen lines, fourteen sides, fourteen facets. Tetradecagon. Think, think, think, think.” He was saying more to himself than anyone, patting the top of his head as if it would jostle the answers he sought to the front of his mind. “Words, letters, numbers, lines.”
“This is just a theatre.” Shakespeare said, gesturing to the space around them. It was the first time Rose noticed he had papers in his hand. Just a few pages, it looked like. She stared at them as the Doctor approached the stage.
“Oh but a theatre’s magic, isn’t it? You should know.” The Doctor said as he stood near Rose, caressing the stage floor like she’d seen him do to bits of the TARDIS when he thought she wasn’t looking. He looked right at Shakespeare as if he locked his eyes on his. “Stand on this stage, say the right words, with the right emphasis at the right time. Oh you can make men weep, or cry with joy. Change them.” And then his gaze shifted, a new light coming to his eyes as some of those answers he was trying to jostle downward earlier fell into place. “You can change people’s minds just with words in this place. And if you exaggerate that ….”
“It’s like your police box,” Martha interrupted him as he turned and paced toward the middle of the room. “Small wooden box with all that power inside.”
“Oh,” He said, turning as he put his hand in his pockets. “Oh Martha Jones, I like you.” He said with a kind of conviction that caused a bolt of hurt to shoot through Rose’s chest. She cast her gaze down, drawing her lips in as she tried not to let it bother her. “Tell you what, though. Peter Streete would know. Can I talk to him?” The Doctor asked.
“You won’t get an answer.” Shakespeare replied, and Rose looked up at the Bard. He looked regretfully at the Doctor. “A month after finishing this place,” He shook his head, “lost his mind.”
“Why, what happened?” Martha asked.
Shakespeare’s face morphed slightly, just for a moment. Understanding was there before he rearranged his face to one more neutral. “Started raving about witches, hearing voices, babbling.” Shakespeare replied, a slight tremor to his voice. “His mind was addled.”
“Where is he now?” The Doctor asked, returning to the front of the stage near Rose once again.
“Bedlam,” The Bard replied.
“What’s Bedlam?” Martha asked, seeming to catch something on the Doctor’s face that Rose couldn’t see with his back to her.
“Bedlam Hospital. The madhouse.” Shakespeare replied, barely glancing at Martha.
“We’re gonna go there,” The Doctor said, reaching behind him and finding Rose’s hand. “Right now.” He turned and gave her hand a tug, pausing only a beat in his fast stride to allow her to fall in step.
“Wait! I’m coming with you. I want to witness this first hand.” Shakespeare called, and Rose glanced over her shoulder to see Martha catching up, and the Bard on her heel. A pair of young men passed them, and once they approached Shakespeare, Rose gave the Doctor’s hand a tug.
“What?” he asked, and she gestured toward the great writer. The Doctor said nothing as they waited for Shakespeare to catch up, but he ran both hands through his hair a few times until it was thoroughly a mess.
Rose reached up, fixing the strands when he was done mussing them. She gave him a small smile as he looked down at her with a touch of confusion. As she caught movement in the corner of her eye she stopped.
Shakespeare joined them with a nod, and the four of them ventured out into the street.
“You have been keeping quiet since we arrived at the theatre, Dame Rose.” Shakespeare commented as they moved. “Where your Doctor ponders aloud, I dare say you think things through in a more mysterious manner.”
Rose snickered. “Didn’t have much to say, I suppose.”
“Oh but a woman such as you does not normally stay so silent, I would say.” He added, and she could feel the Doctor’s eyes on her as his knuckles brushed against hers.
“Isn’t that the appropriate behaviour for a woman in London?” Rose teased, sending him a smirk over her shoulder. “To be seen and not heard?”
“Oh but you strike me as one who rebels against such customs. I only wish I could discover what other customs you would toss aside for your own pleasure.” He replied, and Rose blushed and bowed her head to hide the smirk. “And what of Freedonia? What are rules in a land where women can be doctors, writers, actors.”
“This country’s ruled by a woman,” Martha countered cheekily.
“Ah, she’s royal.” Shakespeare countered flirtatiously, and the Doctor huffed at Rose’s side. “That’s God’s business. Though you are a royal beauty.”
“It’s like he and Jack are related.” The Doctor mumbled to himself.
“Whoa, Nelly!” Martha cried out as the Doctor grumbled, and Rose looked over her shoulder to see she and Shakespeare had stopped. Rose grabbed the Doctor’s hand, pulling him back to her as their companions paused. “I know for a fact,” Martha continued, “that you have a wife in the country.”
Shakespeare stepped toward Martha with a salacious grin so much like Jack’s that it was eerie. “But Martha, this is Town.” He said with all the innuendo that the former time agent would have put behind the words.
“Come on,” The Doctor groaned impatiently. “We can all have a good flirt later.”
“Is that a promise, Doctor?” Shakespeare said as he turned the gaze he had for Martha over to the Doctor before taking him in.
Rose covered her mouth to hide the smirk from the shell shocked Doctor.
“Oh fifty-seven academics just punched the air.” He said before snapping out of his stupor. “Now move,” He said, gesturing with his head and leading the charge once again.
“Just like Jack,” Rose said, leaning into the Doctor slightly, flashing him a tongue touched smile. His aggravation seemed to ease a bit, and she swore she saw a grin pull at the corners of his mouth before his expression became all business once again.