"Matron Hame?" the Doctor repeated, still thinking of her as Novice Hame and surprised to hear anything else. "Right, right - where is she?"

"Still on the roof, at the landing platform," the brown tabby said, tapping at her tablet again. "Could hardly go to the spaceport, can she? Santori knows what the city looks like right now...probably Hell itself, the way the virus is going. If it weren't for our magic friend here, the roof wouldn't be any good either," she added, jerking her chin in Demyx's general direction. "If it weren't for him, most of us would be bloody dead, yourself included."

Well, the Doctor had to question that statement as it applied to the current situation, but he was willing to believe it in general, seeing as he hadn't been eaten by Vashta Nerada in Sligo. What had him more concerned was the fact that Demyx was suddenly leaning on a table, propping himself up with both arms and looking about ready to fall over completely. "Demyx, are you all right?" he asked, before remembering that Demyx wasn't going to hear the question anyway and repeating it in sign language. You look exhausted, he added as Demyx looked up and gave him a dull stare.

"I am exhausted," Demyx said, apparently so much so he couldn't stand on his own two feet alone long enough to get his hands off the table and sign. "Exhausted and I have the mother of all headaches, thanks. More than that, I'm hungry. I haven't eaten in Gods alone know when, but it was before we met, I can tell you that much."

...That's a bit too long, the Doctor signed, once he worked out how long that had to be - thirty hours at least, and likely more. You've got to eat before you seize again.

"Think I don't know that, Doc?" Demyx sighed, reluctantly peeling himself away from the table as the Doctor tried to lead him to an actual seat. "The big question is, eat what?"

We'll find something somewhere. You've done too much for them to let you go hungry.

"I'm not questioning their generosity, Doc. But they can't give me what they don't have. You'd better move; I think Madiv is trying to talk to me." Unthinkingly, the Doctor stepped aside, as the leopard-spotted novice from before emerged from behind him and started signing to Demyx. Hanging back and trying to follow their conversation seemed rude, so...honestly, the Doctor wasn't sure what else he could do right now. There was his earlier idea of trying to access the security monitors from his tablet...Demyx, to the best of his knowledge, still had the sonic, but that didn't mean there wasn't something he could do without it. At the very least, he could poke around as much as he could on Sister Savin's rescued tablet on his own. Surprisingly enough, just a few seconds of poking revealed an option to access the security monitors directly, but it required a password, which he knew he could figure out eventually but didn't want to waste time on if it wasn't going to help. The brown tabby with the bad attitude seemed to be the closest to "in charge" as was available; he really ought to ask her before doing anything that might destroy the tablet...but she was busy doing something involving Demyx and what was her name - Madiv - that looked too important to interrupt. A few moments later, he twitched as he heard a dark rift opening nearby yet again, and jumped when he heard something large hitting the floor, something organic that weighed about...well, how much did Demyx weigh? Something that weighed about 65 kilos, was his guess.

He made a quick mental wager with himself before turning to look, and won it when he saw Madiv and the brown tabby trying to help Demyx up off the floor, and Demyx looking like he was never going to make it on his own. At least it wasn't another seizure, but Demyx wasn't even trying to protest that he was all right. Was he even conscious? Yes, yes, he was, albeit just barely. Demyx, you're shattered, he signed as soon as Demyx was looking his way and had a clear line of sight, making sure to keep as far from the rift as he could comfortably get. You're not doing one more run right now.

"Well, someone kinda has to," Demyx drawled, looking like he was about to slide back out of his chair and fall asleep on the floor. "Or are we just gonna leave the old lady stuck up there on the roof? Don't shit me, Doc; you're afraid of the portal."

...Well, yes. But you're still not going up there right now. Besides, what was there to be afraid of, really? He'd already been through one of those rifts, and survived just fine. Taking a deep breath and willing himself not to think of anything even remotely connected to the Last Great Time War, he made his way through the rift, and emerged wondering how Demyx didn't go insane traveling like that all the time.

"Doctor? It's been thirty years, but you don't seem to have aged a day."

"...Hame?" Yes, that was Novice - Matron - Hame, and she'd aged much more than a day since he'd last seen her. "You look - well," he temporized, because it would have been rude to say the word he was really thinking of - old. "It's good to see you again, though I could have wished for better circumstances."

"We all could, I'm sure, but you seem to avoid better circumstances," Hame said, with a slight smile that further wrinkled her greying features. "But I expect the bad ones would happen whether you were here or not. How are things in the hospital?" she added, gesturing to the pilot waiting in the hovercraft she'd arrived in; the pilot promptly took off again, in the general direction of New New York.

"...It's a mess, to be honest with you. They've evacuated everyone they can to the laboratory, but..."

"The laboratory?" Hame said, examining the dark rift with perfect equanimity. "How fortunate. I was hoping the laboratory had at least remained secure. Now this is a curious thing, Doctor. How ever did you manage it?"

"I didn't. It's something a friend of mine did." All right, now the hardest part of this would be pretending he was as calm around that rift as Hame was, at least long enough to escort her through it. "It...it leads straight back to the laboratory. Despite appearances, it's perfectly safe, so, um..."

"I see. Very convenient." If Hame noticed how on edge the rift had him, she didn't so much as twitch to indicate it. "Tell me, Doctor, do you know if there have been any survivors? Not people who have survived being attacked by victims, people who have been infected and recovered successfully?"

...Oh. He should have expected she would ask something along those lines. "Two that I know of," he admitted reluctantly, trying to hold back the memory of holding Demyx's own lightsaber to his throat, a heartbeat away from killing his own companion. "I'm one of them. My friend is the other."

"Ah. This is excellent news," Hame said with a slightly wider smile, taking his arm to cross the rift more to be polite than because she needed the support. "You remember the Flesh, Doctor. You must remember the Flesh. But of our current Order, only I remember them as they were. Only I ever worked with them, or remember much of what we learned from them. From our greatest sin, Doctor, may come this city's salvation - as long as we have even one survivor of this virus, I believe I can create a cure."


Oh, good, the Doctor and the old cat lady were safely in the laboratory. That had to mean Demyx could close that last portal and then find somewhere to curl up and sleep already. Shattered, fuck, he was feeling next best to dead, and he damn well thought he'd earned a little -

(Don't worry; I can take over as translator,) he saw the Doctor saying to Madiv; her spotty coat was easy to pick out of any crowd. (If the toxicology reports are ready yet, we may need those.) Madiv shrugged and trotted over to one of the innumerable machines whose function Demyx couldn't even guess at, as the Doctor and the old cat lady came over to him. Apparently, he wasn't going to be allowed to sleep quite yet. Balls. Demyx, this is Matron Hame, the Doctor signed as soon as he knew Demyx was looking his way. She's the head of the Sisters of Plenitude. She came all the way from New New York because she believes she can make a cure for the virus.

Well, good for her, Demyx signed back lazily, aware that the other cat nuns in the laboratory were treating Hame with a great deal of deference but just too tired to be anything but casual. What's this have to do with me? I've already had it, and I'm not the brains of this outfit. I don't know enough about anything to help.

...She needs your blood.

"...Piss," Demyx said aloud, because he didn't know a specific sign for that word and "urine" wouldn't have the same effect. Any reason she needs my blood in particular, or will pink look particularly cute in a bottle on the shelf over the fireplace?

That earned him one of the Doctor's "Demyx, you're being stupid, not funny" looks. She needs your blood because you've already had the virus and survived. That's what she intends to use to make the cure. My veins are going to be on tap too. (He...gets a little funny around blood,) the Doctor added to Hame, as if he'd completely forgotten how good Demyx was at reading lips.

Well, no matter how much or how little Demyx liked getting his blood drawn (and infinite thanks to the Doctor for making sure to mention his squeamishness out loud), he couldn't argue with something that might get rid of this killer virus. There had been some cruel calculus involved with deciding who could come down to the lab and who couldn't, mostly performed by Sister Jerrit - those deemed most at risk of being infected were left behind. And then he remembered the bodies in the hallway - had any of them known their killers, or had they just been in the way? Had they been infected themselves, or had they been innocent victims in every sense? The woman who'd infected him hadn't known him from the man in the moon or vice versa, and he could have killed...well, a lot of people, given half a chance. More than just Yin and the Doctor and the babies. ...Well, if you need it, tell her I'm in, he signed. But then can I please sleep?

Yes, you can sleep. As the Doctor turned aside to go talk to someone else, Demyx sighed with relief and let his eyes sag closed, putting some vague effort into staying awake until they actually drew his blood, but not much. Hell, they could wake him up when they needed him, and he didn't really need to be awake when they didn't. He was just running low on fucks right then. Almost as he'd expected, all that happened was that the Doctor gave him a shake some unknown time later and said (Your turn), and Demyx pulled himself to his feet (with a little help), made his way over to where Yin was waiting by the phlebotomy chair (had that been there earlier?), obediently rolled up a sleeve, and just watched the process, so numb from exhaustion he didn't even really feel any pain, and that cotton-candy-pink stuff didn't turn his stomach like standard-issue red blood (or maybe he just didn't have a fuck left for that either). All he really gave a fuck about was that once Yin had extracted a sufficient amount of cotton-candy blood from his hide, he was allowed to return to his corner and curl up. Someone even handed him a blanket and pillow - a thin blanket and a flat pillow, but he didn't care; the gesture was nice enough, and he was tired enough, not to waste time wanting more.

The next time he was really aware of anything, he was still on the floor, stiff but better rested, and the Doctor was sitting a few feet away, deep in intense thought about something. Demyx was tempted to say something to him, but figured it wasn't worth interrupting whatever thoughts he had going on; instead, he shifted and sat up and took a look around the room and saw that no few of the evacuated patients were doing the same thing, with only a handful of staff still awake and moving around, including Sister Jerrit, whose temper wasn't likely to be improved by lack of sleep. It was slightly interesting to watch them at their work, and wonder what exactly they were doing, but not very, and with the Doctor so deep in his own thoughts and Madiv presumably asleep, there wasn't anyone for him to actually talk to. All there really was for him to do was rearrange himself into a more comfortable position and watch the activity. He'd almost fallen asleep again when a hand suddenly waved in front of his face, startling him enough to almost make him fall over. Sorry, the hand signed, while Demyx was still trying to get his thoughts back together. I only just noticed you were awake.

"I'm not sure I'm awake yet," Demyx said, because it was hard to sign and rub sleep out of your eyes at the same time. "I thought you were busy thinking."

I had been, but I wasn't getting very far with it, the Doctor signed, trying to smile despite the fact that he looked as worn as Demyx had felt before he went to sleep. How are you feeling?

Rested...stiff...hungry. Demyx really couldn't put it more concisely than that if he wanted to. No one brought any food, did they?

Not yet, the Doctor signed, looking over at him with veiled concern. Demyx was half-tempted to tell him not to worry, he wasn't made of glass, but he was uncomfortably aware that he was more prone to seizures when he hadn't eaten in a long time, and he doubted he'd had a bite in close to 48 hours now - certainly over 40. He'd had a seizure more recently than that. Having another one so soon would definitely not do good things to his brain. Look, go back to the TARDIS and get something to eat. You can't starve. They'll forgive you an hour's absence.

I don't want to leave, Demyx signed, well aware that he was being stupid but still reluctant to take himself away when his skills could mean someone's life at a moment's notice, especially since there would be no way to contact him until he came back on his own.

...Look, I'm the Doctor. You're the companion. The Doctor tells the companion what to do, and the companion does what the Doctor tells them.

...Is that really how it works?

Go back to the TARDIS and eat something before you seize. I'm not trying to bully you. I'm trying to keep you healthy.

I'm glad you are, but I can't leave. I won't starve to death in six hours, let alone one. Five full days would be my record, actually. The Doctor just gave him a disbelieving, how-stupid-are-you sort of look for that, but gave up arguing and went back to thinking, with an even more intense, anxious look than before. That expression by itself almost made Demyx crack - with everything else that was going on right now, was his refusal to eat right now that big an added concern? Did the Doctor know or suspect something he didn't? That was probably a hole with no bottom, but what in this particular situation did he know or suspect that Demyx didn't? Was it worth the effort to ask him, or would he just get brushed off for trying? Should he just...go eat something already? After all, the Doctor did have a point, and he was achingly hungry...

He glanced back over at the Doctor, and saw that the Doctor was smiling now. Not a normal happy sort of smile, but a big, crazy, going-to-save-the-universe-with-a-paperclip-and-a-bent-fork sort of smile. No, he was definitely not going to ask.

(I think I have it,) the Doctor said, before standing up, moving to the center of the room, and letting out what was no doubt a piercing whistle if only Demyx could hear it. (All right, everyone, here's what needs to happen to save this city! First of all, you, the spotty one - Novice Madiv - and the ginger lady right there, whatever your name is. You know the way to the kitchen from here, don't you? Grab a couple bags, run down there, and grab everything you can find that doesn't need actual cooking. You've got about one hour to do it safely. You, what's your name? Sister Vela? Thank you. Does this city have big water vaporizers to maintain the ambient humidity, like they do in New New York? Excellent. Do you know where the vapor tanks are? The Undercity; all right. What's your name? Sister Treva - you're a neurosurgeon, aren't you? Do you have one of those headsets like you use for microneurosurgery? The ones that give you a live heads-up display of the patient's vital signs and brain activity and a magnified view of - oh, brilliant. Can I have it?...Please? We really are going to need it. Oh, thank you. All right, cranky brown tabby...what is your name, anyway? Sister Jerrit. That microphone you use for relaying stat results and critical values to - yes, I'm afraid I'll need that too. Not the earpieces. Just the microphone bit. All right, I still have Sister Savin's old tablet, and...can someone tell me what the password is to access the security monitors? I'm going to see if we can get them back, and then try to get at the city-wide monitors...actually, is there a computer terminal I could be doing this from? A tablet might not be enough...Demyx!) Demyx had been watching the Doctor's face with fascination, trying to keep up with everything he was saying, and jerked in surprise when the Doctor suddenly pointed straight at him. (Give me the sonic back, and then get some more rest. You're going to need it!)


Whatever was in these foil pouches was no doubt healthy, nutritious, and equivalent to a full meal of solid food. For now, the Doctor would be content to assume that, and not investigate too closely, or wonder why they couldn't taste like any sort of real food, as opposed to salty, fatty, half-set gelatin. It was what there was, and there was no point in wishing for anything better; as hungry as he was, a slice of moldy bread would have been welcome (depending, of course, on what type of mold the bread in question happened to be growing). Everyone else who could get one was sucking theirs down like it was the first meal they'd had all day and probably their last one for at least as long, and in all cases, his included, it probably was. That really didn't make up for how disgusting it tasted - keeping it down was going to be harder than getting it down.

Was there any hope of getting a drink of water to rinse the taste out? Maybe if he asked Demyx, but Demyx was busy sucking every last bit of...goo out of his own foil pouch. Well, he could ask later if he absolutely could not stand the taste in his mouth anymore; for now, he could get back to work on that cobbled-together headset he'd made. Sister Jerrit's microphone had been attached to Sister Treva's headset, and the headphones that had come attached to the microphone were now on their own, as they needed to be - now, how could he keep them electronically connected all the way across the city and into the Undercity? The wireless transceivers in the erstwhile headset were totally inadequate, but his odds of finding more donated bits to cobble into them were...well, how powerful was the transceiver in Sister Savin's tablet? "I don't suppose anyone knows exactly how far away these tablets can send and receive?" he asked whoever might be around to hear.

"...Well, the same sort of tablets go out with the ambulance crews so they can keep us updated and vice versa," said Sister Vela, leaning over to see exactly what he was doing. "The ambulances go all over the city. Overcity and Undercity. So they can reach at least that far."

"...That's brilliant. That's exactly what I need." Without a second thought, the Doctor flipped the tablet over and started cracking open its casing, while Sister Vela stared at him like she thought he'd completely flipped his lid. Well, he had and he was well aware of it, but not this recently. And he had to get the transceiver out without damaging it and swap it for the weak transceiver in Treva's headset. He ought to thank whoever designed these tablets, really - it was easier than repairing a short-circuiting mercury fluid link. All right, get the parts back together, seal up all the casings, yes, there was a solid signal, this should work... "Demyx!" he called, and slapped himself in the face as he recalled how little good that would do. However, the action seemed to get his attention, if the way he suddenly looked over at him was any clue. His attention was all he really needed. Come here, he signed, once he knew he had it. I need you to test this headset. Put it on and go to some other part of the room where I can't hear you or see your face, and then just...talk into it.

Demyx looked mostly confused by that request, but obediently took the headset and wandered off into some other corner of the room, while the Doctor put the headphones on and turned to the keyboard of the computer terminal he'd been working at. Soon enough, he could hear Demyx's voice coming through the headphones, as if he was standing right next to him. "Testing, testing, 123...testing, testing, 123...Can you hear me now? Good. So, Doc, what did that stuff taste like to you? In my opinion, it was a lot like gelatinized vomit...that's what it might have been, for all I know."

Oh, boy. Keeping it down was suddenly enough of a job to take the Doctor's full attention for a few moments. Please don't talk about that, he typed into the keyboard one-handed, with the other still clamped over his mouth. Not unless you want to see it again. Are you seeing anything on the lenses?

"Yeah...there are words popping up. Like a heads-up display. Are you typing them into something somewhere?"

Yes. The headset is officially working. You can keep it for now. You're going to need it.

"Need it for what?"

Well, it's going to involve an awful lot of running.

"I was afraid of that. It always seems to."

It does come as part of the deal. Here, let me try something else. A few finger-swipes brought up the overhead map of the Overcity he'd found earlier; a few more replaced it with the map of the Undercity, and a few more brought the Overcity back. Are you seeing the map? he typed for Demyx's benefit.

"...Yes. I assume this has something to do with where I'm supposed to be running?"

Yes. Now give the headset back for a minute; I want to see if I can work out some sort of positioning system so I can track you. And a drink of water. I don't want this taste in my mouth anymore.

"You have something against the taste of gelatinized vomit?"

Yes. I actually just tasted it again. Now stop talking about it before we have to see it again. He could hear Demyx laughing into the microphone for a few seconds, before the sound suddenly died and was replaced by random rustles. A few seconds later, he appeared right next to him with the headset in one hand and a ball of water in the other. The Doctor was completely not sure what to do with the ball of water, but it held together when Demyx gave it to him, and sucking on it got enough water in his mouth to make the nasty taste go away and stop distracting him so he could try to work this out. GPS wouldn't work, or, well, it would if he could get his hands on one to salvage, but the odds were awfully low. Maybe some sort of triangulation, between the headset, the computer, and...something else? What would be a good third point to use? City map might help...city senate building might work. This would take a bit of computer work, but as long as there was some sort of wireless transceiver that was connected to some sort of computer system that he could somehow access from this computer...oh, this was so much fun. No computer in the world was safe from him. And as long as the transceiver in the headset was strong enough to communicate from and with every point in the city...oh, yes. Easy enough. Each computer transceiver judged the angle between itself, the headset, and the other fixed transceiver, a simple program drew a triangle and pinpointed the headset's location, and then it was displayed on the map. Sometimes he was just clever enough to amaze himself. "Demyx! Someone get Demyx's attention, please!" he called to anyone who might listen, then put the headset on himself to make sure everything was displaying really correctly and the location dot showed up on that map too and tapping the side once made it go away and tapping it again brought it back like it was supposed to. Yes, it worked, and it was brilliant. Brilliant enough to save a city with, once the headset was on the right head...

Oh, he could just jump up and down and dance like an idiot right now. The vaccine was done. He wasn't sure Hame even knew it yet, but he could tell that as of that moment, there existed a cure to the virus that was holding them all hostage. All that really needed to happen now was the delivery...and by the time Demyx actually made it to the Doctor's chair, the smile was completely gone from his face, and he had one hand pressed to his left heart, trying to breathe deeply and act calm and not panic. He knew his plan could work, if given the chance, or why did he just spend all that time messing with that headset and taking the transceiver out of Sister Savin's tablet and everything, but could by itself wasn't good enough. The important part was whether or not it would work, and that he just did not know. Out of every hundred possible futures he could see from here, ninety-five of them led directly to Demyx being killed, or the hospital being overrun, or some other disaster that would totally ruin his plan, but none of them were pointing him to a better plan. They had no choice now but to run with what he had. "You can have this back," he said in a cracking voice, handing the headset back to Demyx. "Take care of it. Take care of it like your life depends on it." Demyx had enough common sense that he really didn't feel the need to add the last few words - it does.