Five Times the Doctor got Sick
Rating: PG for, well, sickness
Characters: 10th Doctor, Rose, Martha, Sarah Jane, Donna, TARDIS
Disclaimer: I own Dr. Who only in my dreams. In real life, not so much.
Summary: Like the title says, five times the doctor got sick, and five companions who took care of him. Beta'd by the lovely Karri_kln1671, who helped me iron out the kinks created by my naivety.
A/N: though this is not my first fanfic, it is my first Dr. Who fanfic. Plus I'm still kind of new to Dr. Who (please ignore my rhyming), plus I'm American. But please don't let that deter you from reading, as this has been beta'd by a Who fan.
1. There'd been little time to fully contemplate the regeneration sickness and what it might entail, not until that quiet moment in the Vortex, drifting as he pondered where he should take Rose. Because he was making minor repairs to the TARDIS at the same time, his mind wandered – as it will when he's making repairs – and turned full circle back to his weak wrist, the one lost to a sword fight and replaced with a better model. His body had regenerated with a flaw (bad skin didn't count), fewer pounds and then he'd gotten sick. It was simple enough math, a combination that wasn't promising, and he ended up saying as much to Rose.
"I'll need to be careful. This body may be weaker than the last." Then said with some alarm. "I think I'm fragile."
But Rose, who really did look on the bright side of life, gave his arm a few gentles squeezes. "Can't deny you're looking a bit twiggy but," she smiled, "I'm not seeing anything to suggest 'fragile'. You're still you, and there's nothing fragile about you."
The Doctor smiled back.
2. The Doctor couldn't say what, if anything, to expect after being possessed by a sun creature – being his first time and all. But he felt it safe to assume some side affects to be involved. So he wasn't surprised when only an hour later he came down with a bad case of the sniffles.
"It's just a silly cold," Martha said with a lot of dismissal, even as she used the Doctor's own stethoscope against him: the chest over both hearts, then his back over both sides of his lungs. "Having that thing in you probably did a number on your immune system."
"But I'm not supposed to get sick," the Doctor whined, and was quite surprised by it. He was a squeaker, not a whiner. Ga, he hated being sick. "It's this body. I knew it was fragile. And trust me, Martha, when on those rare – and I emphasize very rare – occasions a Time Lord gets sick, it's not pretty."
Martha simply told him to stop making a fuss and go lay down. It was another hour later when everything the Doctor had warned about came true, mucus constantly running from his nose, crusting his face. More discharge crusted his eyes and, blimey, he didn't even want to think about the crud going down his throat. But he couldn't help it, because the eventual mass-accumulation of it sent it right back up.
Yet Martha, dear Martha, was a true physician in every sense, treating it like any other cold. She made him hot soup, hot tea, checked his breathing every so often and even went so far as to wipe the crud off his face because he was too miserable to do it himself. The whole ordeal lasted for about ten hours.
"Wish human colds lasted that long," Martha said as she cleaned away bags full of tissues and continually emptied the bowl of vomit.
The Doctor tried so hard not to feel grateful to have her, to not be alone. Except it couldn't be helped. He was grateful, and settled for telling himself that being grateful wasn't the same as forming attachments. Besides, Martha deserved every grain of gratitude he had.
He just couldn't get attached. Not again. It hurt too much.
3. The Doctor could only assume the leadened feeling in his muscles and ache in his bones to be exhaustion. A non-existent year of horror and losing the last of his people, unstable or not, would leave even a Time Lord with a strong body completely drained. The Doctor had the bad luck of having a fragile body, so of course he was monumentally fatigued. But he couldn't for the life of him figure out why his skull felt like it was splitting in two. Then, after finally locating the infirmary (the TARDIS must be feeling sorry for him, today) he was able to diagnose it as a migraine.
"Rose was wrong. I am bloody fragile." His plan was to keep the TARDIS drifting while he rested, but the ship seemed to have other plans, as she was sometimes wont to do. She landed with an almighty jolt that created quite a show of fireworks in the Doctor's vision. He was all ready to give her systems a good whack with the rubber hammer, but decided it would only aggravate his headache. He decided to just humor her for the sake of his own peace of mind and see where she'd brought him.
It was a house, a cozy house shaded in the coming twilight. The light outside was just the right amount to let the Doctor see without wanting to rip his own head off.
For a moment, a second that felt longer, he completely forgot his pain when Sarah Jane Smith stepped out of the house, looking around with a mix of confusion and hope. When her gaze landed on the Doctor, she practically glowed with joy.
Then concern when her body-crushing embrace invoked another fireworks show and a pained groan from the Doctor. She didn't hesitate bundling him into her house and the guest room, pulling off his coat, jacket and shoes then asking – no, demanding – that he curl up in bed and rest while she made him some tea. He must have looked a sight, because K-9 showed up to monitor his vitals.
Sarah Jane didn't just make him tea, she made him soup and crackers, coaxing him to eat whether his stomach liked it or not because she thought he was looking thinner.
"Inevitable when you're tortured," he said. He winced afterwards at the look of horror on Sarah Jane's face. He hadn't meant to say that out loud and so had no choice but to tell her about it (she wouldn't let him do otherwise). Warm moisture crawled down his face and he realized to his own horror that they were tears. He was also shaking, minutely, but it didn't get past the ever brilliant Sarah Jane. She slid her arms around him and pulled him to her in a light embrace and, oh, how he missed her. He considered, just for a moment, asking her to come with him again. But then he thought of Rose, Martha, and just how easily and quickly things can go wrong, so said nothing.
4. It was inevitable that there would be repercussions to having yourself taken over by an unknown life form, trapped in your own body, lungs locked and hearts thrashing like wild animals in a cage, all while hysterical humans tried to drag you to your death.
The Doctor could not recall a time when he'd been that animal panicked. Had he the ability to move, there was no doubt in his mind he would have fought as wild and vicious as a rabid beast, biting and clawing possibly included. He'd wanted to. Oh, how he'd wanted to, but all he'd had left was a voice in his brain, screaming and begging not to die.
The consequences of the possession and that much stress wasn't quick to manifest, not like the cold the sun creature had given him (and hadn't that been ironic. A sun creature, trying to burn him alive, leaving him with a cold.) The aftermath of his recent possession was far more subtle and cruel: little more than a constant feeling of fatigue interspersed with bouts of weakness and frayed nerves.
It was Donna, who had always been far more clever than people gave her credit for, who noticed something terribly off. And it was Donna who awoke the Doctor to the fact, placing a hand against his face as she regarded him with melancholy eyes, saying, "You're too thin."
Not skinny, not scrawny, not "liable to stab someone with your ribs." Just thin, said with much compassion and a hint of concern. Then like snapping from a trance, Donna took charge, ordering the Doctor to bed and to stay in bed. She made him food, lots of food, and wasn't a bad cook. It was light things, mostly, easy on a sensitive digestion that wanted to puke it all back up if his mind so much as skirted his recent possession. Donna was surprisingly patient about it all, never forcing food down his gullet or words out of his mouth. When the nightmares were bad, the Doctor awoke with a scream choking in his throat and Donna whispering soothing reassurances while brushing back his sweat soaked hair.
It wasn't long after that his stomach finally decided to play nice, and he graduated to richer foods, restoring what his frail body had lost.
The Doctor had told Wilf it was Donna who took care of him. He'd meant it, every word.
5. The Doctor was cold. So cold, shivering in his rain-moistened shirt. He was starting to get why Donna had wanted him to turn up the heat that first day she'd traveled with him. He'd never realized just how cold it was in the TARDIS. Big and cold and empty.
The Doctor shivered harder, wrapping his arms around himself. He felt oddly light headed and wondered if this is what it felt like when someone was going into shock – the shock of metacrisis, the shock of having to wipe himself from Donna's memories, the shock of being utterly alone when not moments ago the TARDIS had been packed with friends he considered family. In which case, it wasn't the TARDIS' fault he was freezing. Also in which case, he needed to get warmed up and quickly.
He really was fragile.
Once the TARDIS was back in the Vortex, the doctor hurried to his room, rarely ever used unless he was dead tired or ill. For that reason it tended to be sparse, the furnishing there for function and not form. But when he entered, he startled on seeing every inch of the walls filled with pictures: large and small, old and new, every one with him in a former body and with a former companion, all smiles and joy.
The Doctor couldn't help a grin. "You are a clever one, my TARDIS," he said. He dressed in striped pajamas that felt warm like clothes fresh out of a dryer, and curled up beneath a heavy quilt. The fluttery pulsation of his hearts that he hadn't noticed before resumed normal, steady rhythms and he felt warmth cascade through his body, wrapped in a quilt and the memory of friends.