Disclaimer: I do not own these characters and am not making any money from this story.
As promised, my second Doctor Who AU. Warnings will apply for depression-related angst.
"There's a lot of things you need to get across this universe. Warp drive, wormhole refractors… You know the thing you need most of all? You need a hand to hold." – Doctor Who S2E14, Fear Her
Doctor Martha Jones was a morning person, as long as she had her daily cup of strong black coffee. Even the watery, sour stuff they had in the staff lounge at Torchwood Psychiatric Hospital. But as long as she had that extra burst of caffeine, she felt like she could conquer anything, even a meeting with a new (and purportedly difficult) patient first thing at 9:45. A quick glance at his file revealed his name and title, Dr. John McCrimmon, and that he was thirty-two years old. A quick glance at the man himself revealed him to be a rather skinny fellow with a shock of unkempt brown hair on his head and the beginnings of a scruffy beard. He was also quite tall, judging by the way his long limbs were thrown carelessly about on the old sofa in her office.
She sat down in a chair across from him. "Hello, Doctor McCrimmon."
"John," he said woodenly.
"John," she smiled. "How are you?"
"I'm in a mental hospital against my will," John said, a bit belligerently.
Martha raised an eyebrow. "Your intake form says you freely consented to being here."
John's gaze wandered to the window. "I believe my cousin filled that out for me."
"You signed it."
She waited. He neither elaborated nor protested further, so she decided to continue. "Why did she fill it out then?"
He gave a rather haughty sniff. "I believe she thinks I am depressed."
"Why does she think that?"
John, slumped low on the sofa, still managed to look down his nose at her. "You're the doctor," he said sullenly.
"So are you," Martha countered.
Another sniff. "Of history. Doesn't count."
Well the surly doctor was certainly living up to expectations. That's fine, she told herself. She could handle it. "Why history?" she said.
Another shrug. "I like it. I've also got one in astrophysics."
John's head snapped over and he narrowed his eyes. "Yes, really, Doctor… Jones, is it? I've got two doctorates in two different fields, which I'm guessing is at least one more than you have, which also means that I am quite clever, and if you think you can continue interrogating me in this oblique manner you're very much mistaken."
Martha blinked, abruptly and completely disarmed for a few seconds. "Um. Okay, John. What would you like to tell me, then?"
John graced her with a brief smirk at his victory. "I'm not depressed. Donna has no idea what she's talking about."
Martha raised her eyebrows again and glanced at his intake form and notes from his initial examination. "Well, according to her… you hadn't left your flat for close to three weeks before your admission, you lost your job–"
"My publisher dropped me," John snarled. "'S different."
"Sure," Martha conceded. "But besides that, you're underweight by nearly a stone, you spend most of the day in bed but sleep less than four hours per night…"
"All classic symptoms of major depressive disorder," John said shortly. "I'm sure I come straight out of a page of the DSM-IV. A regular textbook case."
"But you don't think you're depressed?" Martha said.
John glowered. "What does it matter? My meddling cousin has already taken the liberty of shoving me safely out of her life into the loony bin and I can tell you're already over halfway to officially diagnosing me yourself so who cares what I think."
Martha took a deep breath. "I'm sure you realize, John, that it does matter what you think. Your attitude towards your situation matters, and it will affect your recovery."
John scoffed, "Recovery."
Martha pursed her lips. "And I'm sure your cousin is not 'shoving you out of her life.' I think she cares about you a lot. And I'm sure this situation pains her just as it pains you."
John actually looked rather contrite at that. He reddened and looked at the floor. "Maybe."
Martha leaned forward slightly and said softly, "John, even if it was your cousin who checked you in, as clever as you are you must have an idea as to why she did that."
"She does't know anything about it," John muttered.
"Anything about what?" Martha prodded.
"Things. That happened." He was beginning to curl in on himself a little. If he'd been cagey before, Martha could tell he'd be doubly so now. She got the feeling this session was about to come to a close.
"What things?" she asked anyway.
"Just things," he said softly, distantly. He had curled completely in on himself, and was sitting sideways on the sofa, hugging his knees to his chest. For the first time he wasn't ill-tempered or rude. Clearly she was getting warmer. But she also doubted he'd let her in today. "It doesn't matter. They're in the past. I've dealt with them."
"And how have you done that? Dealt with them?" Martha asked.
"I've moved on. They're in the past." John said. He was not looking at her, just staring straight ahead.
"Then why are you here?" Martha said.
John's face pinched slightly, his first show of emotion in the entire session. "I'd like to go back to my room, please. Are we done? Can we be done? I think I'd like to go…"
Martha felt her heart lurch at the sudden and complete change. All of a sudden he sounded very young. Very young and frightened. "Yes," she said. "You may go. An orderly will bring you lunch in a few hours. Please try and eat it all."
John nodded vaguely and stood. He left the room as if in a daze and Martha sat back and bit her pencil. This was going to be tough.
Rose Tyler was not a morning person, coffee or no. But she liked her new job at Torchwood Psychiatric. Of course, her mother had objected initially.
"You know that's where they keep the crazy people, dear, are you sure it's safe?"
"I don't think we're supposed to call them that anymore, Mum," Rose said, eyeing her new white scrubs in the mirror. She thought they actually looked quite smart.
"Well what are they, then? It's a psychiatric hospital, Rose."
"I dunno, Mum, maybe they're just… having trouble, that's all."
Jackie Tyler huffed. "What kind of trouble do they have to be in to get put in there? There's a gate around the outside for God's sake."
Rose rolled her eyes. "Whatever, I'm sure it's perfectly safe. It pays much better than Henrick's anyway."
"Well they'd have to, wouldn't they."
She might've continued in her abuse of the mentally ill but Rose said, "I've got to go if I'm going to catch my bus. I'll see you tonight."
"All right, dear. Be sure to text when you're on your way back. And remember pick up satsumas at Tesco's, they're on offer this week."
"Yes, Mum." Rose kissed her mother and ran down to the bus stop.
A week into the job, even after discovering the staff changing room, she still proudly wore her scrubs on the bus. She liked her work at the hospital, it was the first time she'd been truly proud of anything. After finally finishing her A-levels at the embarrassing age of twenty-eight, she'd felt it was time to move on from being a shop girl, try her hand at something else. She'd heard through an old primary school friend that you didn't need any sort of degree to be an orderly, and sometimes they even trained you on the job.
"Martha says they're hiring where she works," Mickey had said when she'd visited him at the auto body shop during a lunch break from Henrick's.
"Where's that?" Rose popped a chip in her mouth.
"Torchwood Psychiatric. It's on the bus line."
Rose nodded. She'd seen it before. Great brick building with a gate around it.
Mickey smiled. "She's a doctor there."
Rose laughed. "Are you ever going to ask her out, then? She gave you her number didn't she?"
"Yeah." Mickey shrugged. "I dunno… I mean, she's really smart, she's a psychiatrist. All I did was fix her car."
"But you had a lovely conversation with her, yeah?" Rose said. "I'm sure that won't matter. Besides, you're a brilliant mechanic."
Mickey flushed, took his hands out of the car and wiped them on a rag. "Sure, it's just… I dunno. Kind of intimidating, I guess. Can't really believe she'd go for a bloke like me."
"Maybe I'll see her there, put in a good word for you," said Rose.
"You mean you'll actually apply for the job?"
"Sure, why not? It could be fun."
Mickey gave her a strange look. "I didn't know you were that serious… Rose, it's a mental hospital. There could be some real nutters in there."
"Makes life exciting," Rose said lightly.
Her mother and Mickey may not understand, but Rose actually found working at Torchwood quite rewarding. It was a low-level job– most of her peers, like herself, had not attended university and she found herself at the bottom of a hierarchy below nurses, therapists, and doctors, but she didn't mind. She was perfectly content to deliver meals, change bedding, and and help out the nurses, it gave her plenty of opportunities to interact with the patients, which quickly became her favorite part of her job.
She loved meeting them and talking to them. She liked to learn about their lives outside the hospital, about their work and families. They seemed to like talking to her as well, for the most part. She hoped she could brighten their days a little bit, distract them from doctor's visits and therapy sessions and counseling.
Her favorite patient so far was Amelia Pond, a Scottish woman around her own age diagnosed with schizophrenia as a teenager. She'd made a habit of going off her meds, and after her latest psychotic outburst her aunt arranged a three-month stay, hoping her niece would be able to settle into a routine.
"Hello, Amy," Rose greeted the tall redhead when she brought her breakfast. Amy wasn't always completely lucid, but Rose said hello every day anyway. She wondered if today would be a good day or a bad day.
Amy was sitting on her bed staring at the wall. "The Doctor didn't come today," she said.
A bad day. Rose placed Amy's tray on the small desk in the corner. "Is that so."
"He didn't come yesterday, either," Amy said. "I miss him. He always says he'll come back soon, but I haven't heard him in three days."
"Why don't you have some breakfast?" Rose said. It looked like oatmeal today. "I have your medication as well."
Amy jerked away. "No. I don't like those rubbish pills. I can't hear him when I take them."
"But you must take them, Amy, if you want to get better."
"Better," Amy muttered. "Better, sweater, letter, fetter. Fettered. My mind feels fettered Rose, the medication holds it down. Brown, clown, frown, drown. Last night I dreamed I drowned, Rose. Or fell. Or maybe I fell. Rose, is Rory here today?" Rory was her favorite nurse.
"I think he's working on the fourth floor right now," Rose said. She sat in a chair across from Amy and held out a little cup of pills. "Why don't you take your medicine."
"Rubbish," Amy muttered again. "Sluggish, publish, punish. I don't like the medication, Rory. Rose. I can't hear."
Rose sighed. "Please, Amy. It's okay. It's to help you." She stood up.
Amy narrowed her eyes and leaned away.
Rose tensed. Amy had lashed out physically before to avoid taking her medication, and Rose had to help a nurse restrain her. Amy was crying by the end of it and Rose didn't want to have to do that again. "Come on, Amy," she said softly.
Amy looked at her askance, but slowly reached out and took the plastic cup. Rose handed her water as well and watched closely as Amy swallowed the pills, trying to make sure that she was actually swallowing them, and not just pretending.
Amy grimaced and Rose took back the cup. "It mutes my thoughts, Rory. Rose. It mutes my thoughts."
"I'm sorry," Rose said sincerely. She hated this part.
"The only water in the forest is the river," Amy said suddenly. She looked up. "Rose, what does that mean?"
"I don't know."
"The only water in the forest is the river. It sounds like a poem. Or a riddle. I'd like to write that down." She looked over at her typewriter, next to the breakfast tray on the desk.
"Yes, go ahead." Rose replaced the chair at the desk and moved out of the way. "I have to go now, Amy. Will you come out to the common area today?"
"Perhaps." Amy moved her antique typewriter in front of her and began tapping the keys. "The only water in the forest is the river," she muttered. "The only water in the forest is the river."
Rose left Amy's room, closing the door behind her. She always came to Amy's room last on her breakfast round so she'd have more time to talk, but on bad days it was hard to talk to Amy, and then Rose had nothing to distract her from the pain in Amy's voice as she took the cart back to the kitchen.