My first Dr Who fanfic. A plot bunny that simply wouldn't go away... a story born out of two ideas: a) the regularity with which the Doctor finds himself in mortal danger and manages to cleverly sidestep distaster at the last moment... and what if one time he didn't?, and b) the fact that the Doctor is the last of his race; he isn't human, his body doesn't work the same as ours and there is no-one else out there who knows how a Time Lord's body does work... so what does he do if he is injured?
All reviews and feedback gratefully received.
"Oh, god. Oh, god. You idiot. You bloody idiot!"
He was heavier than his slim frame would suggest, a dead weight in her arms as she struggled to drag him into the safety of the TARDIS. His heels caught on the threshold and she sobbed with frustration as she gave a last, desperate heave and pulled him clear of the doorway. She had to let go of him, lowering his shoulders to the floor as gently as she could, caught between urgency and concern, to slam and lock the door, sealing them off from the dangers outside. She hoped.
He gave a kind of choking, hiccupping groan as she hooked her hands back under his armpits and shuffled backwards up the sloping ramp, dragging him awkwardly with her until she could lay him down on the level surface around the centre console. His eyes were open as she dropped to her knees beside him but she couldn't be sure he was really seeing anything, his throat working soundlessly as she hurriedly unbuttoned his suit jacket, peeling back the scorched and sodden fabric of his shirt to get a better look at the damage and… oh, god. She sat back on her heels, despair forming into a solid lump in her throat.
There was blood everywhere, a dark stain spreading out from his midriff, his clothes sticky with it, his exposed skin slick and wet. Her hands were smeared red with it and they were shaking as she tried to examine the wound, to get a better idea of what she was dealing with.
"You're a bloody idiot!" she told him again as she worked, her voice cracked and desperate. He breathed in hiccupped, stuttering gasps, his eyes rolling vacantly. She couldn't tell if he could hear her or not. Blood pulsed under her fingers, pumping from the ragged wound, soaking into the dark blue of his suit, turning the off-white of his shirt crimson. Her eyes were burning with tears that she refused to shed.
This was all so bloody stupid. She was working blind here, her medical training useless. She was trying to apply basic triage techniques but she had no idea if what she was doing was helping or making things worse.
"I have no idea what I'm working with here!" she yelled at him in frustration as she tried to staunch the bleeding. "I don't have a clue about Time Lord physiology other than the two hearts thing… and the only thing that's contributing to this situation is that you're pumping blood all over the floor twice as fast as a human would!" His blood was warm and slippery on her hands.
He cried out when she tried to put pressure on the wound, a ragged scream that jerked his shoulders up from the floor, leaving him shuddering and gasping.
He'd been lucid at first, shocky and pale, his expression disbelieving as he clutched his midriff, looking down at the blood quickly staining his hands. He'd gasped her name as she crouched beside him, had screamed when she lifted his torso enough to get a grip on him and begun to move him. She hadn't had time to be gentle; the fierce-looking alien's gun appeared to have jammed after the first shot and she hadn't been about to wait around for him to fix it. She'd dragged the Doctor as quickly as she could over the uneven terrain, the tails of his long overcoat splayed out under his body, his heels scuffing a trail in the dirt. He'd twisted weakly in her grasp at first, trying to curl around the source of his pain, and then the hands pressed against the hole in his midriff had fallen limply aside, his blood-soaked palms picking up a coating of dirt as they dragged along the ground. He'd been dead weight since that moment, unmoving as she jounced and jostled him hurriedly over some 50 yards of open ground between them and the TARDIS. She'd been almost sobbing with exertion and fear by the time she'd laid him heavily beside the familiar blue box and scrabbled in her pockets for the key. She'd been expecting a second shot at any moment as she had turned her back to the open terrain to fumble with the lock. She had no idea why their attacker had not pursued them; she only hoped that if he did come back for a second round, the TARDIS would keep him out.
"Why didn't you think to tell me this stuff?" she berated the Doctor angrily. "Did it never occur to you that something like this might happen? You're the last of your race and I've no idea what is supposed to be where and, as much as you might look human, you're not and I can't help you!"
Her throat was tight with fear and anger, her heart pounding in her chest as she tried to keep pressure on the ugly wound. He made a horrible gurgling sound as his body twisted under her weight and his hands scrabbled briefly at the floor and then, with a sudden gasping intake of air, he jolted back to some kind of awareness, his eyes rolling wildly for a moment before locking onto her face, her name a strangled sob of pain on his lips, "Martha!"
"I can't fix this!" she shouted at him, anger flooding through her, keeping the fear pushed to one side.
He shuddered helplessly, his face twisting into a grimace. "I know," he whispered raggedly. "I know…"
"I don't know anything about you! I don't know how you work and I don't know how to fix you!" Her hands were covered in blood, like they'd been dipped in it to the wrist, and her voice was breaking as the tears threatened to fall. "Why didn't you teach me?!"
"I'm sorry…" His voice was thick, slurring, his head rolling loosely to one side.
"No! No, you don't! You've got to tell me! Doctor! Tell me how to fix you!"
He jerked, a shudder running through his body, and his mouth opened and closed soundlessly.
"Doctor!" She leaned forward, lowering her face close to his as his eyelids fluttered for a moment, his eyes rolling back. He coughed and it was a thick, ugly sound, flecks of red staining his lips. His voice was a whisper so quiet that she had to lean closer to even hear the words.
"Medlab. TARDIS… there's… a medlab…"
"A medlab? Can it fix you? Fix this?" She was scrambling to her feet, hope rushing through her in a burst of adrenalin. She looked around her wildly, the heady rush of excitement tempering into frustration; the TARDIS was a confusing maze of rooms, a chaos of branching passageways of which she had explored only a fraction. And a medlab was something she was pretty sure she would have noticed.
"Where? Where is it?"
He lay crumpled at her feet, his breathing laboured, his long neck exposed as his head lolled helplessly, his eyes half shut. He flopped an arm weakly in the general direction of the TARDIS interior. Blood was beginning to drip through the metal grating of the floor onto the workings beneath. The Time Lord was running out of time.
With a grimace of trepidation, she crouched low, draping his arm across her shoulders, and straightened up awkwardly. He screamed as her motion pulled his torso from the floor, choked and gasped for breath as she lifted him upright. He was limp and helpless, a dead weight pulling her off balance, his legs simply folding under him. With a grunt of determination she shrugged him upwards, pulling his arm further around her shoulders, wrapping an arm around his waist to try and steady him. His head hung forward now, a low moaning whistling in and out with his breathing.
Staggering under his weight, she turned them further into the TARDIS, his feet dragging limply on the floor as she pulled him with her.
"Which way, Doctor?"
He hiccupped and choked, his response a garbled mumble. "Left."
Their progress was ungainly, their step uneven, as she manoeuvred them through the room and corridors of the TARDIS, the Doctor sometimes trying to get his feet under him but more often than not failing, his breathing harsh and rasping in his throat. At a junction where the corridor split into three directions she turned, trying to get her bearings, and realised with horror that they were leaving a trail of blood that tracked their journey through the maze of connecting rooms.
"Where now? Doctor? Doctor!" Her back and arms were aching from the burden of his weight and he slumped in her grip, his body loose and boneless.
"Doctor!" She shook him briefly and he jerked and coughed, groaning low and quiet. His head hung forward and he struggled to raise it, looking about him with dull, heavy-lidded eyes. Thick, dark blood dripped from his lower lip and spattered against the floor.
"There." He let his head nod forwards, indicating a door to the left.
With a strength born of desperation, she hitched him more firmly into her grasp, his ragged sob of pain tearing at her composure, and shuffled them forwards, the door sliding open before them to reveal a room she had never seen before. It was filled with a confusing array of equipment that, to her medically-trained eye, was an odd combination of clinical instrumentation, futuristic design and random odds and ends of scrap components. She couldn't even begin to guess the purpose of half of the equipment in this room.
"Nnnggh.." The Doctor was barely conscious now, his weight threatening to overbalance them both as she looked around the room frantically. Nothing looked familiar; she couldn't imagine what in this room could save him.
"Doctor?" He didn't answer, his head hanging limply forward. Carefully, her muscles trembling from exertion, she lowered them until the Doctor was half sitting on the floor, taking some of the weight from her shoulders, allowing her to free up an arm to lift his head. His movements were loose, uncoordinated, and his head tipped back heavily, coming to rest on her shoulder. His eyes were half-closed, his face pale and drawn, his lips stained with blood.
"Doctor! Stay with me, Doctor! I need you to tell me what to do!"
He was unmoving, unresponsive, and she shook him angrily, the tears that had been threatening now sliding down her cheeks. "Damn it, Doctor! Wake up! You have to tell me how to save you!"
She crouched awkwardly on the floor, the Doctor slumped heavily against her, his life draining away right before her eyes. It didn't seem right, didn't seem real. He was life and energy and magic and wonder. He was everything. The last of his kind, a young body with old, old eyes that had seen wonders that she couldn't begin to imagine and this couldn't be the end. It just couldn't.
A shudder ran through the body leaning against her and his eyes fluttered open.
"Doctor?" The rush of relief was so overwhelming that her head spun for a moment. She straightened a little, pushing him further upright, lifting his head so he could see around the room. "Tell me what to do. Tell me how to fix you."
He breathed shakily, pain twisting at his face, and swallowed thickly, his head lolling on her shoulder as he looked around him.
"There." His voice was weak and thready. A tremor shook his body and he moaned helplessly. "The… the table… need to… be… on table…"
The only thing that remotely resembled a table was a large piece of equipment with a flat surface surrounded on three sides by ranks of monitors and elaborate tubing and electronics. Getting him onto it was a struggle. She was exhausted, worn out from stress and exertion, and he was weak from blood loss, his movements sluggish and uncoordinated. She resorted to dragging him again, backing over to the contraption, her hands hooked under his armpits. She had to crouch again to pull his arm across her shoulders to be able to lift him upright, his cry of pain drowning out her groan of effort. There was no way she could lift him onto the hip-high table in one motion so she was forced to lean him against it, trying to hold him in place as he folded without her support, his torso slumping sideways across the table surface. She used her own body weight to hold him pressed up against the table as she bent to grab his legs, using her hip to nudge him further onto the table as she lifted awkwardly, swinging his legs up. They teetered for a moment, he only half on the table, curled in on himself helplessly, their balance precarious, before she managed to drag his dangling legs up over the edge of the table and, as carefully as she could, push him across to the centre of the table.
He was limp and unresisting, his limbs splaying out on the table as she carefully rolled him onto his back. His eyes were closed, his breathing harsh as he struggled with the pain, and his face was beaded with sweat, his hair damp and messy, plastered to his forehead. His shirt front was red with blood, the material glistening wetly, clinging to his skin, and the spreading stain had soaked through the fabric of his suit. His long brown coat was bunched underneath him from the struggle to lift him onto the table, one long end trailing over the edge. His face was pulled into a frown and even as she caught her breath he coughed harshly, his shoulders jerking, and fresh, dark blood trickled from his mouth.
"Doctor?" He drew a shaky breath and his head rolled limply towards her, his eyes opening with difficulty.
"What now? What do I do now?"
He squeezed his eyes shut for a moment, then blinked owlishly, as though trying to clear his thoughts.
With a frown of concentration, he raised his head enough to look around at the array of equipment surrounding the table and reached out a shaky hand to twist a nearby dial.
"Just… stand back…"
He fumbled to press a couple of buttons and let his head drop heavily back onto the table as he wrapped his fingers around a large, ornate handle. He looked up at her with those old, old eyes, grimacing as a spasm of pain rippled through him, and mumbled exhaustedly, "I'm sorry, Martha."
He pulled sharply on the handle and, with a loud clank and a sudden building hum, the screens and dials and tubes around the table began to glow and blink and from each side of the table a curved sheet of polished metal rose from out of the flat surface and extended smoothly upwards and inwards, blocking the Doctor from view, the dangling tail end of his overcoat lifting with the rising barrier and slipping heavily over the edge as the two sides met smoothly in the middle with an audible click.
And then… and then nothing. The machine was humming, lights flashing and blinking on the consoles, the screens and monitors registering data that made no sense to her, and there was nothing more that she could do. She stood there numbly for a moment, staring helplessly at the smooth metal cocoon that had swallowed the Doctor up, suddenly feeling utterly lost and alone. He was gone, locked inside a machine that she only hoped could save his life, and she was left alone in the TARDIS. She looked down at her blood stained hands, red with his blood, the Doctor's blood, and a ragged sob escaped her, taking her by surprise.
She'd been so busy coping, dealing with the situation; from the moment the vicious crackle of energy had spat from the stranger's gun and the Doctor had dropped to the ground, she had been reacting. And through the panic and the frantic fear and the hope and the despair, she'd had that focus, that need to do something, to fix this. And now there was just calm and silence, the only sound the humming of the medlab equipment, and abruptly all the tension that had kept her together, kept her functioning, flooded out of her, a post adrenalin-rush crash that made her sway on her feet, tears beginning to stream down her face as the reality of what had just happened suddenly hit, hard.
"Oh, god. Oh my god." Another sob bubbled up from her throat, and another, and she found herself shaking helplessly, ugly sobs tearing at her chest.
It was four hours before the canopy clicked open and the polished metal halves retracted smoothly back into the table surface. She'd spent a good half hour or so hovering around the medlab at first, staring at the blank, reflective surface of the cocoon, worrying, wondering, hoping, convincing herself that she couldn't leave in case something happened, in case the machine finished its work and he came back to find her gone. Eventually, she'd gone to wash the blood from her hands, the water running red in the bowl, swirling down the drain in a whirlpool of colour. She'd splashed her face with water, smoothing the drying tear tracks from her face. Then she'd paced for a while, measuring out the width and the length of the medlab with her footsteps, always with an eye on the humming, blinking, machine. Then she'd sat, finding a space on the floor, leaning back against the wall, watching the readouts change and move. Then she'd paced. Then she'd sat.
She was leaning her head back against the wall, gazing unseeingly at the ceiling, when the humming noise suddenly ceased and the canopy retracted. She scrambled to her feet, her heart in her mouth, to find him lying still and silent on the table, his limbs still splayed out loosely, his coat still bunched up under his body, the tail end draped across his legs where it had been moved by the rising canopy. His suit jacket hung open and his shirt was stiff and brown with drying blood. His eyes were closed.
She leaned forward uncertainly, reaching out a hesitant hand to feel for a pulse, for any sign of life, when suddenly his eyes opened and he abruptly sat bolt upright, a smile lighting up his face as she jumped back with a small shriek of surprise.
"Martha! Hello!" His grin was as wide and infectious as ever, cheery and carefree as if nothing at all had happened, as if she hadn't dragged him, bleeding and dying, to this room, hadn't nearly lost him forever. Then he swayed suddenly, a frown replacing his smile, and her momentary anger was lost in a wash of concern.
"Oooh. Headrush. Sat up too quick." He raised a hand to his head but stopped the gesture half way, staring with a frown of distaste at the filthy mixture of dried blood and dirt coating his palms. "Ewww," he grimaced, before bending forward to peer awkwardly at his midriff.
"Yuck." She watched in speechless bemusement as he poked gingerly at the singed, hole in his bloodstained shirt, his nose wrinkled disapprovingly. His tone was plaintive as he examined the mess, "Awww, I liked that shirt." He looked up at her earnestly, "Honestly, you wouldn't think it, but even with all of time and space at your disposal, it's incredibly difficult to get a properly-fitting shirt…"
There were smears of dried blood on his neck and chin, smudged finger marks from where she had had to lift his head up for him.
"Oh, well. Can't be helped." He moved abruptly, swinging his legs over the edge of the table and hopping down. The front of his suit was stained dark with dried blood. Through the ragged hole in his shirt she could see smooth, unmarked skin. He moved to run a hand through his tousled, sweat-spiked hair, remembered again about the mess on his hands and frowned, looking around himself distractedly. After a moment he settled for dusting his hands against each other, brushing off the worst of the grit and dirt and flaking blood, before bringing his hands together with a clap that made her physically jump.
"Right then! Let's get out of here, shall we? Natives don't seem to be overly friendly…" He set off at a brisk stride, leaving her open-mouthed and bewildered. The back of his coat was scuffed and streaked with dirt from where she'd dragged him over…
Anger flooded through her and she snapped out of her daze, running after him with her heart pounding and her blood boiling. She found him in the control room, dashing around the centre console, flipping switches and spinning dials with extravagant abandon, the familiar warbling noise of the TARDIS rising and falling as he sent them spinning away through the time vortex. He looked up with an exuberant grin.
"Ah. There you are! Where shall we go next then?"
Anger robbed her of speech. "You…"
He was already turning back to the controls, using a foot to hold a lever in place as he stretched his body across the console to press a series of buttons. He looked down at himself a little as he straightened, musing, "Hmm. I should probably clean up a bit…"
He wiggled a finger through the hole in his jacket, a preoccupied frown on his face.
"What is wrong with you?!"
He looked up, surprised, at her outburst. "What?" His expression was genuinely perplexed and she felt frustration build in her until she thought she would burst.
"How can you be so incredibly intelligent and at the same time so bloody stupid?!"
His initial grin at the intelligent remark quickly morphed into offended bemusement. "Well, hang on a minute…"
She gestured helplessly, indicating his singed and blood-stained clothes, his sweat-spiked hair, the dried blood on his hands, his throat, his lip. "You nearly died, Doctor! You were bleeding to death in my arms and I didn't know how to fix you and I… I nearly…" To her dismay, tears began to well again in her eyes and she looked down, blinking. She wasn't upset damn it, she was angry, and with good reason!
"Hey." She looked up to find him standing over her, a rare serious expression on his face, his fathomless eyes filled with the knowledge of a thousand years of experience, of life and death and the endlessness of time. "C'mere."
He pulled her into his arms and she let him hold her close, wrapping her arms around his back, feeling the tears flow again as she clung to the warm, comforting reality of him. He was real. He was alive. He was okay.
"I'm sorry, Martha." His voice was low, quiet. Those same words he had said to her as he had lain dying in the medlab, and his sincerity was palpable. "I'm sorry."
"I… You scared the life out of me!" she told him shakily, her anger bleeding away as she rested her head on his shoulder, the dual beat of his two hearts a rhythmic reassurance, his hand rubbing a soothing circle on her back.
"I know. I'm sorry. And thank you."
She pulled her head back to find him regarding her solemnly.
A hint of that familiar, quirky smile tugged at the corner of his mouth and she laid her head back on his shoulder, fighting the desire to smile in response. She wasn't letting him off that easily.
"You're still a bloody idiot," she muttered stubbornly.
"What? For getting shot? That's hardly my fault…" She could hear the grin in his voice and she untangled herself and stepped back from him, refusing to let him distract her.
"For keeping me in the dark," she told him earnestly. He frowned, shoving his hands into the pockets of his trousers. "I'm a doctor… well, nearly… but I couldn't do anything to help you because I don't know anything about you."
He watched her solemnly, his eyes unfathomable, as she went on, "You've taken me to places I could never have imagined and it's wonderful and, don't get me wrong, I'm incredibly grateful but… it's like you still don't really trust me. You still treat me like a passenger. I'm just tagging along on your adventures, I'm not really your companion. You don't let me in."
"You could have died. You nearly did die. And I could have done something to help if only you'd told me… I've done my A&E rotation and I know triage techniques… but I don't know you. I don't know the first thing about how you work and you nearly died because I didn't know… because you don't want me to know. You don't want to let me in."
She took a deep breath and forced herself to say the word, "I know you lost Rose…"
"That was different." His demeanour changed in an instant, his face taking on that cold, distant aspect, the memory of pain that showed in his eyes whenever he thought of her… of Rose. "She was… Rose was different."
"And I'm different from Rose," she pushed. "And there's things she knew that I never will… but there's also things that I know that she didn't. And medicine is one of them."
He avoided her gaze, looking down at his feet as he absently scuffed his heel against the floor, and for a moment she thought with regret that she had pushed too far. The Doctor avoided serious conversation with the determined cheerfulness of someone who has far too much to be serious about… who, if he once let himself dwell on things, would never find his way back. The Time Lord, with all of time and the universe at his disposal, seemed more often than not to be running from himself, from his own painful history.
"Weeelll, I suppose it might be an idea for you have a basic understanding of Time Lord physiology… you know. Just in case." He raised his head to give her a stern look but the mischievous twinkle in his eye gave the lie to his frown. "Not that I plan on making a habit of getting shot, just to be clear, but there are some very unfriendly people out there. Take that fella. I can't believe he just shot me, without a word, not so much as a by your leave..!"
Martha couldn't help smiling as he got distracted and went off on one of his wild tangents, following a logic loop that made sense only to himself, before winding up back where he had started with a look of slight confusion. He turned back to the TARDIS controls and flicked a couple more switches, silenced a sudden alarm by judicious application of a hammer, and turned to lean casually against the console, crossing his ankles and folding his arms comfortably.
"Anyway. Where was I? Oh, yes. Time Lord physiology. Well. There's the two hearts thing, you know about that…"