A/N: This is my first Doctor Who fic so please go easy on me. This is set sometime shortly after Journey's End and before any of the specials; the Doc's by himself. Sorry if you're looking for romance, I don't really like mushy, sappy stuff and I try to avoid writing it unless a scene specifically calls for a tender moment.
I don't like flames, I find them a pointless waste of time. I do, however, like constructive criticism. If you think that I could improve upon something, let me know. I do listen. I am Australian and I do spell things a little differently, so please disregard what you may see as a misplaced letter here and there.
Disclaimer: I do not own Doctor Who. That honour belongs to the BBC.
Chapter One: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back
The central pillar, glowing green, whirred as its components moved up and down in the familiar rhythm, accompanied by the noise that distinguished the TARDIS from any other spaceship in the universe. The Doctor went around the console, winding this and pressing that, doing the work of six pilots by himself. Though he moved slower than usual and there seemed to be less spring in his step. It was silent in the ship except for the whoosh of the engine and the echoing of one set of footsteps upon the metal grating that they walked upon.
The Time Lord stared at the console, though he didn't really see it.
He saw the proud and confident face of a red haired woman who, after gaining the mind of a Time Lord, had finally come to realise that she was brilliant.
The console blurred further in front of his eyes as he recalled the same woman crying and begging as he wiped her mind of all memory of him not two minutes later.
Donna Noble had not even given him a second glance as he bade her goodbye in her house.
The Doctor fought back the urge to pound the console with a tightly clenched fist. Hitting any part of his beloved ship would accomplish nothing. The TARDIS seemed to hum reassuringly in his mind, though it did little to fill in the physical silence. Donna had spoken rather roughly, but the Doctor ached to even hear her yell at him in her blunt, honest manner.
Still, he had to move on, as he always did. He almost snorted. It was so…human, not to mention British, moving on like that. He hoped he wouldn't find himself making a cup of tea just to complete things. He had hung around humans for a bit too long; their habits would completely rub off on him soon.
"Right, time to strike out solo for a bit. What do you think old girl?" he said, addressing the pillar.
The ship shuddered as if in answer. The last of the Time Lords pasted a grin on his face and held onto the console to steady himself. He had no idea where the TARDIS was taking him as he hadn't really set any co-ordinates.
His grin became fixed as a memory swam to the forefront of his mind. The last time he had gone somewhere random like this, he had ended up on a planet covered in snow, where the Ood lived. Donna had complained about the cold and had put on a hooded coat so thick that she hadn't been able to hear him unless her hood was down.
The Gallifreyan sent a quick mental prayer to land anywhere without snow. One final shudder and the blue box touched down.
The Doctor took a deep breath and pulled the scanner screen in front of him. The monitor showed a plethora of brightly coloured plants. It looked a bit like someone had drawn a jungle and used every colour of paint available to bring the drawing to life. Despite the fact that someone had abused the colour palette for this jungle, the Doctor was simply grateful that there was no snow.
The atmosphere was fine, if not a little hot due to the tropical scenery. After a split second of hesitation he clapped his hands together and walked to the doors. He yanked them open. A large, bright cyan leaf smacked into his face and he reeled back a step. The Doctor irritably waved the leaf away and stepped past it, on the lookout for any others lying in wait.
Weak sunlight filtered through gaps in the canopy, making the ground appear blotched. A snuffling noise came from the Doctor's right and he instantly turned his head, sharp eyes seeking the source. He spotted a bit of movement amongst the outrageously bright foliage and subconsciously tensed his body in case whatever it was wasn't friendly. The seconds ticked by and a small snout slowly emerged.
It resembled the nose of a tapir, though the short fur was a dark orange. The creature took two cautious steps forward, its head and one foreleg now visible. It stood about four feet high and had large eyes that were neon green. It snuffled again, seemingly reluctant to come any closer, keeping at a distance of just over six feet.
"Hello there," the Doctor said softly. He slowly extended his right hand, palm facing up and fingers slightly curled in a vague come hither motion.
The creature raised its exposed leg in preparation to run and the Doctor took note of its foot structure. It had a hoof-like protrusion at the back and two inch long claws at the front.
"Never seen you before. Never seen a jungle quite like this either."
Though the Doctor kept his voice low, the creature gave a start and fled, quickly lost to sight.
The Time Lord gave a half-hearted sort of shrug and struck out, keeping in line with the TARDIS as well as he could to avoid becoming lost. After almost fifteen minutes of solid trekking he came to a stop. There had been no other sounds or movement the entire time. Had a predator frightened that creature away? Was it stalking him? He hadn't heard or seen a thing, but it didn't mean that there wasn't something out there.
He reached into one of his coat's inner pockets and pulled out his sonic screwdriver, pressed down the button and turned completely on the spot, holding the device at chest height. Nothing registered.
"Don't tell me I'm getting paranoid in my old age," he muttered, putting his screwdriver away.
He set off again at a brisk pace, idly wondering how large the jungle was and if there was some sort of civilisation living close by. Ten more minutes crept past. A harsh, shrill cry cut through the silence and the Doctor almost jumped a foot in the air with a startled gasp. He was about to turn back and try another planet when his ears caught a humming noise, like an engine of some kind. The Doctor crept forward and parted some fronds of an eight foot tall violet coloured fern.
In a small clearing between the roots of an enormous burgundy tree, there were four figures. From what the Time Lord could tell, they were wearing white space suits and were human if their shape was anything to go by. It was sometimes hard to say depending on what year it was. One of the four had a gun of some sort and it was currently pointed at the Doctor.
"Oh, so I wasn't traipsing about on my own!" the Doctor exclaimed with a smile, stepping out into the clearing.
"What are you doing, you bloody idiot!" yelled one of the figures. "Are you trying to kill yourself?"
"What?" asked the Doctor.
"You have no protection from the radiation! I know it's at a fairly low level, but it's still dangerous!" the same figure continued.
"What?" he asked again. "Radiation you say? It's like my first trip to Skaro all over again. Radiation sickness is a terrible thing you know," he said, waving his right hand in a careless gesture while sticking his left in his trouser pocket.
"How long have you been exposed?" the figure with the gun asked. He, for he sounded male while the other one who had spoken did not, had not lowered the gun or relaxed his grip on it.
"Ooh, just under half an hour," the Doctor blithely replied.
The female stepped forward and put a hand on top of the gun, gently forcing it down to point harmlessly at the ground. "You should be fine if you come with us, we've got a good medical bay set up."
"But we don't even know who he is!" the man with the gun protested.
One of the others stepped forward. "Does it really matter at this very moment?" she said, sounding impatient. "Damned fool though he is, are you just gonna let the poor man roam around until he's too sick to move?"
"No… No, of course not," he said. He put the gun away, but he kept his eyes on the Doctor.
"Right then, this way," she said, picking up a few small tools and packing them away before grabbing the toolbox and walking off. The other female and the one who had yet to speak followed her example.
The guy with the gun indicated for the Doctor to go next with a short sideways nod. The Time Lord took the hint and tried to ignore the angry and suspicious glare the man was aiming at the back of his head.
A few minutes of uncomfortable silence later, and the five of them arrived at a docked spaceship. The person in the lead entered a code on a panel and a door slid open with a hiss, granting them entry. Everyone piled into the room and a decontamination process began. A door leading further into the ship slid open when the process was over and the group moved through, removing their helmets once the door was shut. They were human, as the Doctor had guessed; two men and two women.
"You should be alright if you've only been exposed as long as you say you have," said the woman who had lead the way. She had short, dark blonde hair, hazel eyes, and a sort of no-nonsense manner. "I'm Lucy, by the way. That's Anna, Carl," she pointed to the other woman and the man who hadn't spoken, "and that's Ryan," she finished, jerking a thumb at the man with the gun.
"Hello, I'm the Doctor. So what is it you're doing here? Research?"
Anna nodded, her black curls bobbing with the motion. "I'm a zoologist, Lucy's a biologist, Carl's a technician and Ryan's our bodyguard."
"Bodyguard?" the Doctor parroted, "What is there to guard against? The thing that made that shriek?"
"Shriek? No, that was us," Carl said, speaking up for the first time. He held up a small speaker-like device. "It's a recording that we play every now and then to frighten off most things."
The Doctor raised an eyebrow. "Then how do you study the animals if you keep scaring them away?"
"We have four cameras set up five hundred metres from the ship at each compass point. Most of the fauna here are nocturnal," Anna explained.
Lucy clapped her hands together. "That's enough chatter for the moment. You need to come with me to the medical bay," she said, pointing a finger at the Doctor and striding away.
The Gallifreyan stuck his other hand in his other pocket and strode after her, flashing Ryan a smile as he went past and ignoring the scowl he received in reply. He took the opportunity to look around and take everything in. "Is it just the four of you?" he suddenly asked.
"No, there are six of us including the captain and the doctor. Not you," she hastily corrected, "his name is Mike. The captain's in the med bay, so I'll just let them both know we're coming." Matching actions to words Lucy informed them via a comm link on a wrist pad. A few corridors later and the pair arrived at the right door. Lucy entered first and gave a brief nod to the two other crew members, one of which was lying down and looking a little flushed.
"Ah, the mysterious stranger," commented a man with light brown hair who was dressed in a white lab coat. "I'm Mike and this is our captain, Andreas. You'll have to excuse him," he said, looking at his patient, "he's been poisoned and he's running a fever. He's a bit delirious, so please excuse anything he says. I'm just going to check you over if you'd like to sit up on one of the beds."
"Check me over? Right, right. Is checking me over absolutely necessary?"
"You were walking around out there unprotected, were you not?" Mike asked in a light tone.
"Well, yes, but you said it was only low-level radiation, right? I can handle that no problem. I'd feel it if it got too much, then I'd simply expel it, no harm done," the Doctor said in a nonchalant yet explanatory way. "Mind you, it itches like crazy," he added casually.
Mike and Lucy, mouths wide open, were staring at the Doctor like he had grown a second head right there in front of them and was using it to perform an Italian opera duet.
Mike coughed to clear his throat and stared the Time Lord straight in the eye. "I have no idea what you're babbling about, but I'm checking you over whether you like it or not," he said in a tone that brooked no arguments. "Low the level may be, but it's a special kind of radiation that we're still trying to identify." He firmly pointed to the nearest empty bed and the Doctor hopped up on it with a barely audible sigh. This radiation was starting to sound interesting, if annoying.
Mike picked up a small torch and shined it in the Doctor's eyes, checking his pupil's reactions. "So who are you exactly?" he asked, putting the torch away.
"Oh, I'm just a traveller. Didn't want to go anywhere in particular this time though, and ended up here. Wherever here is," the Doctor replied. His gaze wandered around the room disinterested as Mike took a hold of his wrist, though was drawn to look at Mike's face as confusion crossed it.
"W-what the…?" Mike stammered out.
"What's wrong?" asked Lucy immediately, looking anxiously at both men, switching her focus back and forth between them.
"His pulse…" Mike said softly. He swiftly snatched the Time Lord's other wrist. Evidently he had found something wrong as the stethoscope that had been hanging around his neck was now being used. "Do you have a heart condition of some sort?" he asked after almost half a minute.
"Mike, what is it? What's wrong?" Lucy asked again.
"Absolutely nothing. The poor chap just doesn't know what to make of the double pulse and heartbeat echo. Two hearts, you see," the Doctor explained in an off-hand manner. "So do I get a clean bill of health, doctor?"
"Yes, yes, just watch out for bugs. They go SPLAT all over the glass screen thing y'know, then how are you supposed to see? Could be on a collision course with a maniacally grinning hammer and you'd never know. Tie some cleaning rags to the dog's feet and let it skate over the squashed bugs. We'll have the thing clean as a giraffe in no time!"
All three turned to look at the captain, who was feebly waving a hand in the air and smiling like all was right in the world. A sheen of sweat was glistening on his forehead and Mike quickly wiped it off.
"That's some fever," the Doctor muttered. "What, exactly, poisoned him?"
"None of us are quite sure, though we think it may have been one of the plants," Lucy answered.
Mike placed the cloth he had been using back, draped over the rim of a bowl of cold water that was on the bedside table next to the captain. He did not look up but nodded absently. "He's doing much better, so he's on the road to recovery. And yes, you are free to go. If you experience any strange symptoms, any at all, I want you to come straight here, got it? Well, whatever is strange for you," he added a touch hesitantly, throwing the Doctor a split-second glance.
"Aye, aye, sir," the Doctor said, giving the ship's physician a short two-fingered mock salute. He hopped down off the bed and followed Lucy as she had gestured for him to do so. They began walking back through the corridors and the Doctor put his hands back in his pockets and tilted his head slightly towards Lucy, staring at her knowingly out of the corner of his eye. It was obvious to him that she was uncomfortable now and attempting to ignore him as much as possible without being rude.
"Are you human?" she blurted out in the third corridor.
"Nope," he cheerily replied, now looking forward. "I never asked, but what planet is this?"
Lucy had been gaping at him since his declaration of alien-ness, though she shook it off as best she could to focus on his question. "If it has a proper name then we don't know it, so we just call this planet R-45. It's never been explored by humans before," she answered.
The Doctor absorbed this information but kept silent, deciding not to comment. The rest of the walk to the main room where everybody else was meeting was quiet. It reminded the Doctor of the silence that Donna had left, and he began to hum a tune in his mind in an effort to dispel it. The humming did not work quite as well as he had hoped, so he found himself rather relieved when they stopped at a door and voices could be heard emanating from the other side.
They entered the room and the chatter ceased for a brief moment before resuming as if unbroken. The room wasn't exactly decorated, though there were crates and a few various odds and ends scattered about. The walls were an off-white colour and a large table stood in the centre, littered with sheets of paper and plastic folders.
Lucy smoothly inserted herself into the conversation, leaving the Doctor to his own devices. He simply stood back a bit and let their talk wash over him, keeping a tiny strand of attention on them, ready and waiting like a fishing hook to snag anything interesting.
The main topic, it seemed, was the radiation and what the cause of it was. They had been researching the different plants to see if one of them was responsible for producing the radiation and were going through their latest data.
"It appears as though the plants depend on the radiation to survive, much like photosynthesis. The herbivores that we know of don't seem affected by eating any plant. This suggests that the radiation has been around for so long that the plants and animals have evolved to incorporate it into their biology," Anna was saying, pointing at a readout lying on the table.
In a very unpleasant way, it reminded the Doctor of the Daleks. He fervently hoped that the mutated monsters had nothing to do with this planet.
"So you're saying that all the plants and animals would die if the radiation disappeared?" Carl asked, looking as though the mere idea of things needing radiation to live was rather distasteful.
Anna nodded but held up a hand, "If it was diminished over a period of dozens of years; hundreds, possibly thousands, then everything would have the time to evolve again; adapt to live without it. If no adaptation took place, then yes, they would all die."
"None of the plants we've taken samples from seem to produce it, though they do appear to filter it somewhat," Lucy commented, holding up a sheet to the light.
"Could it be some naturally occurring agent in the air?" Anna asked while tapping her fingernails on the table's surface.
"Hard to say," Carl said, leaning on the table with both hands palm down, "we don't have the equipment to go so fine like that."
They fell silent, looking put out but not quite defeated. The Doctor took the opportunity with the lapse in chatter to announce that he was leaving. He wished them luck with their research and had one foot out the door when Anna called for him to wait.
"You're going back out there with no protection?" she asked incredulously.
"Yep. Short trip back to my ship won't hurt me," he replied, giving them a quick wave and disappearing into the corridor.
"We can at least lend you a suit!" Anna shouted out, intending to follow him when she ran into Lucy's outstretched arm. Lucy shook her head, making Anna baffled about her sudden lack of care.
"Just let the daft lunatic be," Ryan muttered, glad to have the stranger gone.
"Ryan!" Lucy said in a reprimanding tone. "He should be fine," she said, lowering her arm, "he's not human."
The other three whipped their heads around to stare at her. Disbelief was etched on their faces, though Ryan gave a small snort of satisfaction for mistrusting the weird man.
The vivid colours were just as offensive to the eyes as they were the first time. Even more so than before after the white, silver and grey of the research team's ship. The Doctor had been a little intrigued by their project, but the longer he had been with them, the more he wanted to get away. It wasn't all that selfish to want to be apart from humans for a while, he thought.
He walked quickly, not quite jogging, but certainly not dawdling. The Doctor did not know what kind of radiation it was and if it would affect him the same way as it would a human. He hadn't been able to go into the small room under the rocket headed for Utopia at the end of the universe; that stet radiation had been nasty.
About twenty minutes later the Doctor knew the TARDIS was close, he could practically hear it calling to him. Something felt wrong. He broke into a sprint, hastily pushing aside any branches and leaves in his path. He kept going, uncaring of the noise he was making, until he spotted his ship's unmistakable blue through gaps in the foliage.
The Doctor burst into the tiny clearing that the TARDIS had created upon landing and came face to face with a creature just as bright as the plants.
The being stood upright on two legs that resembled the werewolf's at the Torchwood Estate, though scales replaced the fur. It had two arms, a long forked tail, and a head that was remarkably similar to that of a carnivorous dinosaur on Earth. It was an acid yellow colour with blue-green stripes running from its forehead to the tips of its tail. All in all, the creature looked like a Sillurian crossed with a raptor, possessing the attitude of a tyrannosaurus.
It snarled and drew back before springing forward. One of its hands, tipped with six black claws, came swinging at the Doctor's face and he swiftly backpedalled out of reach, letting the claws swing harmlessly to hit nothing but air, which angered the creature.
The thing growled, a deep guttural sound that set the teeth on edge like fingernails down a chalkboard. Something raked across the Doctor's back and he fought the urge to stagger forward under the blow into the waiting claws before him. Pain lanced across his back and he felt something warm dampen his clothing. Another creature was behind him.
A split-second calculation made the Doctor dodge to one side. The one behind him had pounced in the same instant, and collided with its fellow with a meaty thud. While they were recovering, the Doctor dashed to the TARDIS door, unlocked it, and leapt inside, slamming the door behind him. He froze as his back protested against the sudden movement.
The Doctor inched his coat off, gritting his teeth and letting loose pained hisses. Once he was free of it he examined the damage. There were six long gashes across it and a rather large circle of blood that stained it. He didn't think his jacket, shirt and skin fared any better. The Time Lord slowly made his way over to the console and set the coordinates to land inside the research team's ship.
He didn't want to return, but he couldn't take care of this injury on his own. Besides, he wanted to know why they hadn't warned him of the predators. A moment passed and he felt the TARDIS land. He walked towards the doors on unsteady legs, leaving his coat on the floor where he had dropped it.
Lucy, Carl and Anna were still going over their newest findings, with Ryan tossing in the occasional comment, when a whooshing noise interrupted them as a blue box labelled 'Police' materialised in a crate-free section of the room along one of the walls. Four pairs of eyes went even wider, if possible, when a door creaked open and the Doctor almost fell out, grabbing onto the box's other door to stay standing.
"What the hell? You again!" Ryan exclaimed. His right hand was hovering over his gun, ready to draw it at a moment's notice.
"Yeah, me again," the Doctor said tightly. He looked around the room and frowned. "I was aiming for the medical bay," he said through clenched teeth.
"But how did you…?" Carl said, trailing off. He was thoroughly impressed with the technology and itched to have a closer look.
"Later Carl," Lucy chided. "Medical bay? Did the radiation get to you after all?"
"It isn't radiation sickness, unless it affects you differently. No, you look hurt to me," Anna said in a worried tone.
"Yeah, just a bit," he ground out, losing the battle against gravity and falling to his knees. The door swung shut behind him, locking automatically. He swayed, struggling against the darkness encroaching at the edges of his vision, but his efforts were futile. The darkness devoured his consciousness.
The four watched the Time Lord fall face forward as if in slow motion. Lucy and Anna gasped, quickly followed by Carl, as the three caught sight of the six bloody gashes that marred the Doctor's back. Lucy rushed toward the downed Time Lord with Anna right on her heels. With help from Carl and a reluctant Ryan, they managed to carry the Gallifreyan through the corridors and into the medical bay, finally laying him stomach down on the nearest empty bed to the door.
Mike took one glance at the job before him and hurriedly chivvied the others out of the room. He wheeled a tray full of medical instruments next to himself and picked up a pair of shiny silver scissors. He carefully cut the Doctor's jacket and shirt and gently peeled the cloth away from the wounds which were still bleeding slightly.
Mike cleaned the deep cuts with heated water in case his strange patient was allergic to the stuff he normally used. The wounds were bad, but they hadn't severed the spinal cord, and Mike was grateful for that fact. He picked up a needle and set to work.
Meanwhile, the rest of the team had gone back to the meeting room. Carl was examining the TARDIS with childlike enthusiasm. He pondered many questions aloud, which gave the two girls something to focus on instead of Mike's new patient. Ryan was back in his usual spot, glancing up now and then and trying his best to ignore the others and their theories.
"It must be a spacecraft of some kind, but it's so…little! And, would you believe, it's made of wood. Wood!" Carl exclaimed in disbelief, running his hands over a panel on the door. "And glass; ordinary, everyday glass!" he continued, brushing his fingertips across a couple of the window panes. "It can't be very durable made of wood and glass…"
"It can't be a spacecraft either. Wood and ordinary glass like that wouldn't be able to stand the pressure of deep space," Lucy said, staring at the box like it was a giant Rubik's cube.
"It doesn't need to be for deep space," Anna suddenly piped up. "It materialised in here. Wouldn't it logically follow, then, that it can travel anywhere the same way, cutting out the need to go through space?"
Carl turned to give Anna a wide grin before switching his gaze back onto the box. "Excellent point! Could it possibly be some form of teleportation technology?"
"Be useful equipment to have," Ryan commented, breaking his silence.
"Certainly," Carl agreed. "I wonder where he got it from and if he'd be willing to take us there… Just imagine how much easier and faster exploration would be if we had something like this!" He was barely keeping the urge to bounce on the balls of his feet in check.
"I was thinking more along the lines of using such a device to escape from a tight spot," Ryan muttered to himself, unheard by anyone else.
"I wonder if it's built in or if it's a circuit you can insert as long as the technologies are compatible?"
"What, like a plug-in feature?" Lucy asked with a light snort. "I think that's just wishful thinking there Carl."
"Well, you never know," was Carl's curt reply.
The conversation died out and silence descended upon the room. The quiet made one want to fidget, say something, to break it. But no-one could find suitable words. They all glanced around furtively, waiting, hoping, that one of the others would bring about an end to the silence's reign.
"We could always ask," Anna suddenly blurted out quickly, before the nerve to speak deserted her. "We could ask him, you know, when he's up to it." She looked down at her hands and softly clapped them together, interlocking her fingers. Anna felt like she had done something wrong by mentioning the stranger currently onboard their ship.
"Yeah… Yeah, we'll do that," Carl said, trying to sound positive.
"I wonder what happened to him?" Lucy asked, staring at the floor as though it held the answer.
"We won't find out unless he tells us," said Anna.
Ryan shifted to face them better. "That guy's keeping secrets. Now, in a place like this, keeping things to yourself is a very dangerous business. Secrets can potentially kill and I, for one, don't want such a risk hanging over my head. I don't want that man," he said the word with a sneer, "to walk around, free to do whatever he pleases. He said he was a simple traveller, but how do we know that's true? We only have his word for it, and I'm not prepared to trust in him or his word."
Lucy put her hands on her hips and glared at Ryan like a mother scolding her child. "Wait, wait, let me get this straight… Are you saying you don't trust him just because he isn't human?" Seeing the hard look Ryan gave her, she said, "That's so…racist!"
"Wouldn't it be speciest?" Anna asked, stumbling over the word. She was frowning, unsure if it sounded right. Was there such a word? Lucy and Carl blinked at her.
"It's not that," Ryan replied with a sour expression. "He could be anyone, anything, and we don't know. There could be an intelligent species on this planet that we have no idea about! He could be a spy or a mercenary or something! Hasn't the thought crossed any of your minds?"
Anna snorted. "Yeah, he went out and got himself hurt and came back to us in his ship for help all as part of some elaborate scheme to infiltrate our ranks," she said mockingly, sarcasm clinging heavily to every word.
Carl stepped forward and held up his hands. "Everybody needs to just simmer down," he said softly but firmly. "Let's stop with the conspiracy theories and wait. Once he's well enough, we'll get some answers out of him and hopefully put any fears to rest, okay?"
All three agreed, though Carl had been staring pointedly at Ryan before the bodyguard acquiesced. The conversation died out once more and nobody had any desire to disrupt the quiet this time. Their thoughts, good and bad, were on the Doctor.
The Doctor was completely unaware of the fuss he had caused. He was unaware of anything at all except a dull throb which resounded throughout the darkness, bringing with it a vague sense of pain. Things slowly began to filter through the dense black fog that shrouded him like a cloak. Hazy, indistinct noises reached his ears, though his brain was having a hard time deciphering them. He felt numb, but the feeling was coming back to him bit by bit. The sensation of pain was becoming stronger and he wanted nothing more than to withdraw from it; hide in the shadows.
As his brain sped up the noises turned into voices, though he couldn't quite place who they belonged to. He could tell that he was lying on his stomach. The last thing he remembered was the meeting room, along with its occupants, blurring before his eyes, then everything went dark. The Doctor hoped he was in the medical bay and that Mike hadn't used any drugs on him. 'That sounds like Mike now,' he groggily thought.
Mike was indeed speaking. The other four had eventually gotten tired of waiting around and had migrated to the physician's territory. A small verbal scuffle had broken out with Mike constantly reiterating the need for silence. He had tried ushering them out so that the Gallifreyan could rest better, but all of his attempts had failed making him very irritated.
"No, don't… I don't like garlic bread… Just the pizza, thanks…" the captain slurred out, fidgeting restlessly.
The others stopped talking to see if their leader would awaken, but were disappointed when he simply rolled over and continued sleeping. It was the third day since he had been poisoned and the second since the fever had truly gripped him, confining him to bed.
Upon hearing Captain Andreas, the Doctor knew he was where he wanted to be. If he was completely honest with himself, he wished to be anywhere else at the moment. Unfortunately for him fate had other plans.
Summoning all his strength the Doctor prised his eyelids apart, shutting them again almost immediately against the sudden onslaught of light. A tiny groan escaped him.
Mike was at his bedside at once. He put a finger to his lips to hush the others. "Doctor, can you hear me? I need you to open your eyes. If you can hear me then open your eyes," he said softly.
The Doctor did as he was bid. A blurry face appeared in front of him. As his vision slowly cleared the face of Mike came into focus and the Doctor stared at him for a few seconds before closing his eyes once more. He groaned again.
"Hey, hey, none of that," Mike gently chided.
"Why not?" the Doctor moaned.
"You're worse than a little kid," Mike said with a small chuckle.
"Yes, I've been told that before."
With an effort he mentally stepped out of the darkness and into the light. His back felt as if hot brands had been pressed onto it, though the pain had dulled somewhat. Despite his wish to leave he felt no inclination to move. "How long was I out?"
"Almost five hours," Mike replied.
"Now that you're awake you can answer some questions," said Ryan. He walked over to the bed and stood there, looming over the Time Lord.
Mike crossed his arms and glared at Ryan disapprovingly. "Hold your horses, hothead! As he's my patient, I'm telling you that he's in no state to be playing Spanish Inquisition at present! If you would kindly refrain until I deem him fit…" he trailed off, a clear dismissal in his voice.
"He is a risk and it's my job to protect you. I'm sure answering a few simple questions won't be too much of a strain for him," Ryan bit back. He was clearly not going to accept no for an answer. Everyone in the room, bar the Time Lord, knew that Ryan was extremely stubborn and would hold onto an idea or something until the crack of doom unless irrefutable proof to the contrary was shoved under his nose.
"Just hurry up and get on with it," the Doctor said with a slight snap.
"There, see?" Ryan smirked.
Mike threw his hands in the air and sat down on another bed, crossing his arms and watching the proceedings with a resentful gaze.
Ryan turned his attention back to the Time Lord. "You introduced yourself as 'The Doctor'-" he made air quotes with his fingers "-but that's a title, not a name. Why don't you tell us who you really are?"
"I was going to tell you that I'm Sir Doctor of TARDIS, but that's a title, too," the Doctor answered mockingly.
"Are you really?" Anna asked.
"Yep! Got knighted by her royal majesty in 1879. I still wonder where that werewolf came from, though."
Ryan snorted disdainfully. "Spy or not, you're insane, that's for sure. It's 7462 in case your muddled mind forgot. There is no way you're four and half thousand years old, so stop playing games and take this seriously if you're capable of doing such a thing!"
"You're right. Four and a half thousand?" he scoffed, "I only turned nine hundred and six a few weeks back. I'll be lucky to reach one thousand at the rate I've been going." He rolled his eyes at the predicted gasps that followed his admission. He twitched his fingers and, finding success, tried moving his arms. They felt heavy, as though weighted with lead, and they held no strength within them. The Doctor gave up the endeavour as a lost cause for the time being and resigned himself to lay there being interrogated like a criminal.
"Where's TARDIS?" asked Anna, uncaring of her interruptions.
The Doctor turned his head to look at her. "The TARDIS is my ship; the blue box. What is this, Good Cop, Bad Cop?"
Lucy stifled a giggle. Carl was grinning, looking amused at how frustrated Ryan was becoming. Anna, eyes wide at the question, shook her head furiously while stammering denials.
"Is your race long-lived or did you just make up your age?" Lucy suddenly asked, still smiling.
"Oh, very long-lived," he replied. Images of Susan, Romana and the Master flashed through his mind stirring up painful memories and emotions. He slammed some mental doors shut to block them out.
"And just what is your race?" Ryan asked. He was not entirely convinced of the Doctor's alien nature. He looked exactly like a human, even if he acted oddly.
"How, exactly, is that relevant to your security? Are you expecting an invasion? Do you think someone reckons that you've kidnapped me and are, at this very moment, about to storm this ship in a daring rescue effort?"
"I thought I told you to stop playing games!" Ryan hissed, eyes flashing dangerously as his hand hovered right above his gun.
"I'm not!" the Doctor replied indignantly.
Carl raised a hand like a schoolkid answering a teacher. "Sorry for butting in," he said airily, "but I wanted to know how your box just appeared out of thin air like that." His curiosity had been eating away at him and, whether it killed the cat or not, he wanted to know.
"Oh, that's an easy one!" the Doctor said cheerfully. "Dematerialisation circuit."
"Is that circuit compatible with our technology?" Carl inquired hastily.
The Doctor took a moment to answer. "You know, I've never tried such a thing before," he said slowly.
"You wouldn't happen to have another of those so we can try, would you?" Carl's eyes were lit up with excitement and he stared at the Doctor hopefully.
"Nope. Sorry," the Doctor said earnestly, though not very apologetically.
Carl, looking quite crestfallen, shrugged his shoulders. He felt eyes on him and found Ryan staring at him, clearly beyond irritated, and tapping his foot impatiently. Carl coolly stared back, not intimidated in the slightest.
"Are you alone or is there someone else hiding in that box of yours? I recall you saying that you were walking about on your own, but that doesn't mean there wasn't somebody waiting," Ryan said, trying to rein in his temper.
A pang of loneliness struck the Doctor's hearts. He was reminded, for the umpteenth time in under a dozen hours, that he was companionless. He ached to get away from these people, especially Ryan, and mentally swore at his inability to do so. He started to count to ten under his breath in Gallifreyan so that he wouldn't swear aloud. This stupid ape was really testing his patience.
"Camera four no longer transmitting video," a computerised voice announced throughout the ship. "Repeat: camera four no longer transmitting video." The female computer voice had delivered the message in an irritatingly polite fashion. Even if the computer was announcing your imminent demise, it would do so in the same polite tone as if it were simply letting you know that your toast was ready.
Why humans never seemed to have livelier computer voices baffled the Doctor. A loud klaxon blaring in your ears was a fitting danger warning all on its own. Though most of the time a wailing siren was accompanied by a voice calmly telling you exactly how much time you had left to live, as though the entire affair was as trivial and commonplace as casually commenting on the weather. It was the same no matter how far into the future you went.
The crew glanced around in mild interest at the message, though ignored the tone it was delivered in.
"Is there enough time to go out and fix it?" asked Anna while looking at Carl.
He tilted his head, considering her question carefully, but shook it after a minute. "It would be too dark by the time we'd be able to head back to the ship. We'd have plenty of light because of the moons, but the critters would be prowling around at that point. Too dangerous, I'm afraid. It'll have to wait until tomorrow. Whatever it was that got the Doctor might still be out there," he said.
"Computer, do we still have audio on camera four?" Lucy asked.
"Audio damaged but functioning."
"Damaged?" Anna asked with a befuddled expression. "Damaged how?"
"Audio feed cuts out at random intervals," the computer replied.
Carl gave a sort of half-shrug and smiled at the others. "Better than nothing."
Mike loudly cleared his throat. "Well I think we should all grab a bite to eat before retiring for the night. Don't you agree?" he asked, addressing the entire room.
Anna, Carl and Lucy took the hint, and together the three managed to drag a protesting Ryan away. Their voices grew softer and more indistinguishable the further they got from the sick bay. Their footsteps, too, became muffled by distance until they faded entirely. The room now felt much larger without so many bodies occupying its space. Mike and the Doctor breathed a sigh of relief.
"So… Is your stomach compatible with human food?" Mike asked his conscious patient, one eyebrow raised.
A/N: What did you think? I'm not particularly fond of OCs, but they were necessary for the story. I will avoid any Mary Sue-ishness at all costs. If I wander into that territory, I sincerely hope one of you will pull me back.
Kudos to any of you who can guess where I got R-45 from! Though it's originally Satellite R-45, not a planet.
Anyway! Review please and let me know how I went. I'd love to hear your thoughts!