One More for the Road.
"So, where next?" Martha asked, circling around the console so she could peer over the Doctor's shoulder at the monitor, even though she couldn't understand the circular patterns on it. He leaned over the controls and tweaked a button. Out of sight speakers sprang into life instantly and the Doctor let out a short bark of ecstatic laughter.
It took Martha a few moments but she soon recognised the sounds of 'Beyond the Sea'and smiled at the Doctor. "What d'you reckon?" he asked, "Vegas, 1962? Rat Pack, Live?" Martha's jaw dropped.
"Of course I'm serious! You up for it?"
"Yeah! But -" she stopped, her face falling. "Sixties America, I probably won't be able to get in, will I?" The Doctor frowned. He'd noticed that Martha had become a lot more sensitive about her skin colour since their little stint in 1913 and he didn't like it one bit.
"Nonsense! What about Sammy Davis Jr?"
"Yeah but he's the one that's earning the clubs money so I think they'd relax it a bit if he's earning them some dosh."
"Rubbish! Frankie and the boys wouldn't play in places that enforced segregation, you'll be fine! Besides, no one can mess with Martha Jones and get away with it, can they?" Martha's smile returned to her face ever so slightly.
"Come and have a go if you think you're hard enough," she said confidently.
"That's the spirit! Now go and get changed, we can't go to Vegas looking like we've just fallen in a pit of Venusian slime, can we?"
"We did fall in a pit of Venusian slime," Martha reminded him as she made her way up the stairs. He grinned delightedly and she shook her head before disappearing down the corridor.
"Miss Jones," he held out his arm and she looped her own arm through his.
"Mr Smith," she said, smiling at him. He opened the doors and they stepped out into an alleyway. Martha wrinkled her nose at the smell of various unpleasant things and walked with the Doctor out into the main street. She had to blink a few times before her eyes could take the intensity of the bright flashing lights, each spelling a different name of a different casino or hotel or performers that were playing that evening. In the largest letters of all, Martha could clearly see The Rat Pack being advertised and she and the Doctor began to walk towards the sign.
With a quick flash of the psychic paper, they were inside. People were milling around, drinks in hand, holding onto their partners, all anxiously awaiting the evening's performance. "How long till they come on?" Martha asked curiously, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear.
"Oh, about half an hour," the Doctor answered, pulling at his collar irritably. "I hate bow ties, I really do."
"Well it's only for this evening, so just leave it be," she slapped his hand away from his tie which he was about to undo and he glared at her indignantly. "Honestly, you're nine hundred years old, so act like it!" The Doctor huffed, obviously not impressed with this treatment but ignored it nonetheless. "I still can't get used to this," Martha said after a moment, looking around the room gleefully. "I mean, just look at it! It's so..."
"Realistic?" the Doctor suggested.
"Yeah! It's just like in all the films! My Nan didn't like the Ocean's Eleven remake. Said it was a shoddy piece of work leeching off the talent of the original Rat Pack." The Doctor smiled and they made their way over to the bar. He pulled a wallet out of his jacket pocket and produced some old American dollars, earning himself an impressed look from Martha.
"Not completely clueless, am I?" he said a few minutes later, sipping at a generous shot of scotch.
"Not completely, no. Relatively, but not completely."
"Oi! You can get your own wine next time!"
"Ssh!" Martha said excitedly, tapping him on the arm even though she already had his attention and gesturing towards the stage. Five men had appeared and people were cheering them, the men bowing and waving away their applause with broad smiles on their faces. Martha fiddled with the strap of her beaded bag which was hung over one shoulder and the Doctor leaned over to speak to her.
"Joey Bishop, Sammy Davis Jr, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Peter Lawford," the Doctor murmured into Martha's ear. "Lawford's going to leave at the end of this year, political differences and so on."
"Why do political differences matter?" Martha asked curiously. "My mate Gemma says she wouldn't vote for Saxon in a million years, but I'm going to and we're still friends, even though she's a bit weird. Doesn't like technology. No telly, no laptop, none of that."
"It's bigger than that though. Sinatra's tied in with the Mafia and Lawford is JFK's brother-in-law. It's not just a difference of opinion, it's much bigger than that – oh, I love this one! Mack the Knife! What a beauty!"
Martha had been so intent on listening to the Doctor's explanation that she hadn't realised that the music had started and people were beginning to dance. The Doctor took Martha's drink from her and set it down on a table with his own, before he led her to the dance floor. Martha was pleasantly surprised by the Doctor's ability to dance, and she told him so.
"Well, I've been kicking around for a while, must have learned to dance at some point," he told her as he twirled her around, her scarlet dress fanning out around her, and then stumbled as a couple barged past the Doctor, knocking him into her. "Oi!" he called after the couple, but they didn't seem to hear his annoyance, because they had already disappeared into the crowd. "You all right?" he asked Martha, who was holding onto him with one hand as she stood on one leg, adjusting her shoe so it was more comfortable.
"Yeah," she replied, untruthfully, "these heels are already bad enough without people trying to help them break your ankle." The Doctor glanced momentarily at his black Converse and held back a comment about wearing sensible shoes. Martha did look nice after all, and he doubted a pair of Converse would have had the same effect as the heels did, but all the same, she didn't have to choose heels that high.
"D'you wanna sit down?" Martha shook her head.
"I'll be all right," Martha answered, glaring through the crowd, trying to find the couple who had caused the interruption in their dancing. The glare disappeared as soon as the next song started up. "New York, New York," she said fondly, "I wonder how Lazlo and Tallulah are."
"Wonderful, I imagine. Fingers crossed that no mutant pig slaves turn up here tonight." Martha grinned as they began to dance again, and soon she forgot about the ache in her ankle and lost herself in the dancing. She laughed loudly when 'Have you met Miss Jones' started up, and she barely had time to breathe after their energetic dance to 'Ain't that a Kick in the Head'.
It was only when they slowed down to dance to 'They Can't Take That Away From Me' that she was able to take a good look at the Rat Pack. She frowned as she watched them over the Doctor's shoulder, and something unsettled her about them. Their eyes seemed to be slightly out of focus, as though they weren't quite there. She nudged the Doctor and nodded towards them. They turned around on the spot, so as not to make it too obvious that they were staring and he watched them carefully.
"It looks like the lights are on but no one's at home, doesn't it?" Martha commented, looking up at the Doctor as she waited for an answer. When he didn't answer, she joked, "maybe it's the rock 'n' roll lifestyle."
"Maybe," he said at last, tearing his eyes away but still looking preoccupied.
Martha wandered towards the bathroom, feeling tired yet content. This was what she had signed up for when she had stepped into the Tardis. Travelling to times that people she knew could only dream about, enjoying the delights that the past had to offer, savouring the small taster that she got of events that were still to come. Not that she minded the saving of worlds and the running, but it was nice for a change to have an enjoyable evening with some good music and a bit of dancing.
She went through the first door and heard a conversation drift through the crack between the second door and its frame. Frowning, she moved closer, careful to keep quiet as she listened hard to what they were saying.
"Alpha One says we shall be gone before the close of the decade. I for one am anxious to leave this place; the human form is so primitive."
"Be patient, Delta Four. Our plan shall run smoothly and we shall leave this rock soon enough."
"Gamma Six said there were humans in the house tonight who have not yet been...liberated."
"Well, we shall have to see to that. We can't have them leaving here with any suspicions. The Entertainers will draw a lot of attention should anyone suspect anything unusual about them."
Martha didn't notice the door open behind her, but turned around quickly when somebody cleared their throat. "Deltas!" the woman called, reaching around Martha to push the door open. "We have an eavesdropper."
"An unliberated eavesdropper?" Delta Four asked.
"Yes," the new woman said. "Beta Three can come out of stasis. She will be delighted."
"Now look, I don't think you should rush into any decisions just yet," Martha interrupted, glancing towards the door and keeping down her frustration when she realised that it was blocked by the woman who had caught her out.
"Oh but Beta Three has been waiting for a form for so long, hasn't she, Delta Five?"
"She has indeed. Now, let me see..." she rummaged through her handbag and pulled out a bottle of perfume. "Ah yes! Here we are!" she sprayed the perfume in Martha's face and the last thing Martha remembered was a clinical smell, not unlike the smell of disinfectant.
To be continued.