For your-bespoke-psychopath on tumblr. Thank you so much, dear! I hope you like it. 3
On False Wives and Pregnant Surgeons
The Doctor stops in the middle of the hall, blinks, then wrinkles his nose. "No, no, I'm not calling you that, that's a rubbish nickname, all…gooey and domestic - and a bit on the nose, don't you think? Not like that!" he stage whispers, then amends: "Though you do have some very spectacular, er, um…parts." He coughs loudly, glancing quickly around the mostly deserted floor, scratches his cheek, and quickly barrels into the next sentence: "But really, if you get to call me 'sweetie' I should get to call you something equally if not more condescending, it's only fair. So what'd you think? Peaches? Babydoll? Snookums?"
He lets out a giggle at that, leaning over the counter, his legs dangling and kicking spastically. "On Calliopticon the most popular term of endearment literally translates to "lively faeces" - not really a romance planet, let me tell you and are you just going to ignore me 'cause I was kidding about the 'sweetie' - I love 'sweetie' - and I haven't got all day, you know. Well, I do. I could have many of this day if I wanted but it's a Thursday, River, you know how I hate-"
And then she turns, eyes narrowed and lips tight in what is probably the most horrifying expression he's ever seen on a human being slash Time Lady slash Human Time Lady slash Human Time Lady Psychopath and he shrinks into himself, taking a few steps back from the nurse's station. "…Thursdays."
"No," she says into the phone, her voice clipped and sharp. "I should be home by six." ('Home?' he mouths.) Pause. "Well I'm trying, but you know how stubborn he can be." (The Doctor looks around warily, frowns, and then points to himself with a questioning gaze. She ignores him.) Irritated: "Yes, Mark," ("Mark? Who's Mark?") "I did tell him that and it doesn't seem to-" Pause. She rolls her eyes, but her lips curve into a smile. "I know. I will." Pause. She laughs. "I won't! I'll see you soon."
The moment the phone is in the cradle he's back, leaning into her space, eyes narrowed. "Who's Mark? What have you done and why does he think you're coming home? I've told you, that lipstick isn't for fun, River; life or death situations only…" He sighs heavily. "Like that will ever work. You know what? Never mind. I don't want to know. The last time I asked it was all-" In a high-pitched voice: 'But it was for the good of the Xinhai Revolution!' Ha! Even you couldn't have snogged the entire Qing Dynasty by-" He freezes, eyes wide. "Don't answer that. Have you even done that yet? - spoilers - and in any case, I'm just here for a visit, quick pop, nothing dangerous, not yet at least, though it is painfully dull here, I don't know how you get around all these humany things like birthdays and eye appointments and oh! Speaking of humany things:" He grins far too broadly, leans over the counter and declares, "Hello Snookums!" -
"What the hell-"
- and kisses her.
The next thing he knows he's stumbling backward, tripping over his own legs and totally distracted by the burning sensation in his cheek. She shouts something that he misses, still too stunned and uncoordinated and he stares at her. "Again with the slapping! Can't we have a new thing? I thought kissing was going to be the new thing! Much better than slapping - and pain! Why does there always have to be pain!" he moans, rubbing his jaw and giving her his best pout.
It doesn't phase her in the slightest.
"What the hell do you think you're doing?" she demands. "Who are you?"
At the same time, a short man with a shiny head in an identical lab coat appears at her side. "Lizzie. Everything all right?"
"Fine, Robert, thank you," she acknowledges stiffly, still eyeing the Doctor. "Any chance we're missing a psych patient?"
The Doctor rolls his eyes - "Yeah, yeah, mad man with a box - the jokes never get old," - at the same time 'Robert' makes a crack about outpatients and "Did he call you 'Lizzie'?"
He looks so unbearably flummoxed that this 'Robert' and River - it has to be River, he reasons: her face, her tones, her hair! - exchange glances.
"I can handle it," she says, and the Doctor beams a bit and straightens his bow-tie, fighting the urge to stick out his tongue at 'Robert's' retreating back.
"Can I help you with something?" she asks.
He glares. "'Lizzie?'" he reiterates, skeptical.
"Doctor Elizabeth Corday," she corrects.
He snorts. "Really, River? All of time and space to choose from and you pick 'Elizabeth Corday'? And don't tell me it's a good pick for this century because there are plenty of wonderful, uncommon names - Kiernan and Fiona - or even Donna! Donna's always a good name and Corday just sounds like wine and you know I hate wine and why are you looking at me like that?"
She shakes her head and blinks, as if trying to shake out the cobwebs. "Look, you clearly think you know me, but I honestly-"
And then he groans. "Ugh, I've got the time streams mixed up again, haven't I? I'm always late! Or early. Or just generally not on time. But it's really not my fault she's so contrary! And don't say I'm piloting her wrong, I'm piloting her perfectly. Just because you're the child if the TARDIS doesn't mean-"
"Shut up!" she snaps abruptly, taking a deep, calming breath before asking: "Do you always talk this much?"
The Doctor has the grace to flush and scrub the back of his neck awkwardly. "Well, not always, I mean there are occasions when I can be silent - like film noirs and Churchill's speeches and Aquarbi mating ceremonies. Honestly, never get in the way of an alien centaur and his…um…"
He blushes beet-red, and Corday uses the moment to catch his gaze and say firmly,
"I have no idea who you are. And to be honest I have neither the time nor the patience to deal with another madman in a ridiculous suit-" He swears she shoots a glance over his shoulder in the direction 'Robert' left. "-so if you could please leave before I call security."
The Doctor stares. He opens his mouth a few times, but no sound comes out.
"Sir," she insists.
"You don't know me."
Corday grits her teeth together tightly. "That's what I said."
The Doctor shakes his head, bewildered. "But…but you have to know me. This you always knows me, I was there when you regenerated; you have to know me!" He moves swiftly, suddenly leaning over the counter between them, studying her intently. "Why don't you know me?"
"Right," she says, more to herself than him. "I'm calling psych."
He doesn't believe her, and it's only when she starts speaking to someone on the other end of the phone that he panics and lurches over the countertop, sending files and folders and odds and ends crashing to the ground at her feet.
Corday jumps backwards and lets out a very un-River-like yelp, and then a curse, and then a string of curses. "You-" she starts. He watches as she flounders her way through her anger, barely taking a moment to thank the nurses who converged on the mess before moving jerkily around the station and into the hallway. "You're coming with me," she growls, shoving him down the hall.
The Doctor flails his limbs and protests. "No, no no no, I'm not - I'm not crazy! I mean, I can be, some of my ideas, totally crazy, but this, this is just a big…" He catches sight of her stomach of the first time and freezes, sputtering. "-big-" She glowers; he backtracks, "-misunderstanding! Wait! Elizabeth!" He scrambles in front of her, halting her movements. "Please. I'm not - I'm sorry. I just... You look exactly like my...my...I don't really know, exactly. We're sort of married, but not really. But mostly married. Kind of married. There was a bow-tie and kissing and I died a bit but that's not the important part - does it count if it's in an alternate reality? Probably not, but then again we did get married at all points of time, so that has to count for something, eh?"
Corday folds her arms across her chest and glares.
"Oh. Rambling. Sorry, right, look do you have any siblings? Possibly identical? Possibly going by the name of Mels and…semi-homicidal?"
She turns away from him and stalks toward the end of the hall.
"Okay, that's a no, um…" He digs in his pocket for his screwdriver, scanning her quickly while her back is turned. "No temporal folds or brainwashing issues, though you are seven and a half months pregnant so you should really be off your feet-" He waves her off preemptively as she glares over her shoulder. "-archaic I know, shush I'm thinking. Any old watches lying around that you've oddly never opened?"
That seems to be the last straw, because she stops abruptly a few meters from the lift and starts gesticulating wildly, prodding at his chest with her finger for emphasis. "Between you, Robert, my dying fiance, and my inability to move more than five minutes away from a toilet, I have had enough. I don't care if you go up, down, or sideways but you are getting in that lift and getting out of my sight, are we clear?"
He nods quickly and she huffs, crosses the distance to the lift and slams her hand down on both buttons.
The Doctor follows, hesitating, then tentatively reaches out and pats her arm briefly. "Feeling better?" he hedges.
Corday takes a deep breath and exhales loudly. "I don't know you," she repeats.
He nods. "I know. I'm sorry - my fault, really. Should have looked more closely at the scanner. You're not River."
He offers her a weak smile. "What do you say we try all this again, eh?" He holds out his hand. "Hello, Elizabeth Corday. I'm the Doctor."
"'The Doctor'?" she returns, eyeing him suspiciously.
He laughs and wiggles his fingers. "Don't worry, it's just a hand. It's not going to detach." Then, under his breath: "This time."
The lift doors open and her gaze flickers between him and her escape. He can tell by her expression she's contemplating shoving him in, but something makes her stop. Instead she Corday just slightly, and shakes his hand. "I'm still not sure I'm pleased to meet you," she says stiffly, and he grins. The lift doors close.
"Oh, if I had a nickel every time I heard that," he muses, then frowns. "Well, actually I'd have a nickel, so. Moot point. Anyway!" He smiles broadly. "I best be off. If I'm here it means I'm not somewhere else and River's definitely somewhere else and oddly enough, I think I'd like to be where she is, wedding or not, you know?"
"Not in the slightest."
The Doctor winks and gives a twirl and straightens his jacket primly. "How do I look?"
Corday eyes him once. "Like an idiot," she answers honestly.
He beams - "Perfect!" - and with a flourish produces his screwdriver and aims it at the lift doors. This time when they open there's a big, blue box parked inside.
Corday stares, slack-jawed. "How-?"
The Doctor snaps his fingers and the blue door swings open. "Bigger on the inside, too," he says, grinning at her flabbergasted expression as she peers around the door into the TARDIS.
"Well, this is me!" he says, then cringes. "Not saying that again." He tips an imaginary hat in her direction. "'Til the next time, Doctor Lizzie!"
The doors close and the TARDIS dematerialises with a whoosh; Elizabeth's still blinking at the empty space when it returns moments later and the Doctor steps out and hands her a folded newspaper, damp with rain.
"Elizabeth," he says softly, "Your baby. She's going to be just fine. So stop worrying."
Corday unfolds the newspaper cautiously. It's dated August, 2002. In the crease is a photograph of herself, Mark, and a smiling, wide-eyed baby.
"You gave that to me. Or you will do."
"Long story," he says, smiling, "Has to be lived. Good friend told me that. But I think you've got this one covered. Oh, and don't forget this."
He presses a small vial of purple liquid into her hands.
"It's for Mark. Your husband. For his brain tumour. That should cure it right up. Keep it quiet though - it won't be invented for another five hundred years. Just chalk it up to a miracle this time round, eh?"
Corday stares at him blankly for a long moment. Then, "Are you sure you're not supposed to be in psych?"
The Doctor grins and tries to reply, but suddenly twitches violently, grabbing at his chest and pulling a wallet from his inside pocket, tossing it from hand to hand as if it were on fire. He blows on it and waves it around for a moment before flipping it open. His smile widens and he nearly giggles, showing Corday the blank piece of paper.
"Wife!" he says ecstatically, pointing to the paper. "My wife! She sent me a message." He looks back at the paper and frowns, then blushes. "That's not what it said the first time!" He looks nervously from Corday to the paper and then back again. "Ooh, that part's less good."
He backs into the TARDIS. "Sorry to rush - never know when she's going to plunge from a great height. For fun. Ha! Call that fun…" He reads the paper again and this time he really does giggle. "Aren't I a lucky boy?"
"Doctor, where did you get this photograph?"
"Eww boy, not a boy, a man! A manly man."
"Oh, I'm never saying either of those things again. Right, well, good luck Mrs. Greene! Geronimo!"
The doors shut behind him and she bangs on the wood repeatedly. "Doctor!"
He reappears so quickly her fist almost collides with his face. "No need to shout," he scolds.
She takes a deep breath. "Will this really cure Mark?"
He softens, eyes warm and smile gentle and he nods. "Cross my hearts."
"And I'm just supposed to take your word on that? A vial of purple…goo?"
"Tell you what," he says, "You give me…five minutes, and I'll come back and explain everything. Even prove it to you. I'll bring the wife, too. Not every day you get to meet your very own doppelganger."
Corday shakes her head. "This isn't possible. How can-"
"Time and space travel. Alternate dimension. Very sexy. Five minutes."
"Five." He pauses. "Give or take." He frowns. "I'll let River fly her. But don't tell her I said so! She'll have to think it was her idea."
He taps her forehead firmly enough to push her a few feet from the door. "Five minutes! Back in a flash!"
The doors shut and the box disappears and Elizabeth stands there for a good ten minutes, repeatedly pressing buttons and watching the doors open and close.
Twelve minutes later Romano finds her still standing there, peering cautiously into the lift.
"Run out of hernias?"
She resists the urge to bang her head against the wall. "I'm clocking out."
"You heard me. I'm going home. I'm going to eat a diner for two, watch a terrible movie with a lot of explosions, have sex with my husband-"
Glower: "-and go to sleep. Good night, Robert."
He doesn't smile until she's out of sight.
Five minutes later a whirring noise and loud bickering draws him out of his office toward the nurse's station, where there's a large blue box behind the counter and two people arguing in front of it.
"-leave the brakes on!"
"It's my TARDIS and I'll pilot her any way I want and besides, I just saved your life, you can't shout at me after I've saved your life!"
"You're my husband, I can shout at you any time I like."
He makes a frustrated noise in the back of his throat. "I did not sign up for that! Where does it say I signed up for that?"
The woman smirks. "It's in the fine print, sweetie."
"Can I help you?"
They turn their heads in perfect unison.
"Lizzie?" he frowns.
River grins, and the Doctor moans and grabs her arm.
"No," he says firmly, "No lipstick."
"These are getting worse, not better!"
She huffs dramatically. "Fine. Spoil-sport."
"We're looking for Doctor Corday, have you seen her?"
And then Romano recovers: "Oh, god, there's two of them." He looks from River to the Doctor and back again, eyes dragging over her figure. "I change my mind; there is a God."
The Doctor's eyes narrow. "River."
"Use the lipstick."
She grins and reaches into her shirt and retrieves a small tube.
"I thought you'd see things my way."
"I always do," he mutters…then grins devilishly. "Snookums."