The Dread of Tomorrow and Yesterday – Chapter 44
A/N: Here's Gridlock for all of you! This will definitely be an interesting episode, I promise. And Rhea gets to meet the Face of Boe again. She's only met him once in The End of the World. I wonder what he'll have to say to her in this episode.
Replies to Reviews:
NicoleR85: River and Rhea teasing the 10th Doctor would be funny as hell. It'll be coming up soon, I promise.
grapejuice101: Thank you so much! I'm so glad you liked the Doctor/Rhea moment.
Jess Mindfreak: Oh, wow, thanks so much! I'm glad you liked Rhea so much and I'm really happy you don't think of her as a Mary Sue. I was really afraid about that.
DRWfangirl: Oh, thank you. The song was Mere Dil Ka from Armaan. I haven't watched the movie in years, but I love the song so much. Rhea and Rose will have a good relationship in this story. I mean, my feelings for Rose are mixed, but I do believe that if she knew the Doctor had a romantic interest right from the beginning, she wouldn't pursue the Doctor. Of course, all bets are off in my Time Lady story :)
Guest 1: They will be closer after Silence in the Library but not close enough that they'll get together. There's still some time for that :)
team natsu and wendy 4 life: Thank you so much!
The-Smart-Nerdy-Type: I'm so glad you like my story so much!
TheGirlWhoLives: Thanks so much for your review. Your idea really does intrigue me, though, kind of like Evy by LizzeXX, yeah? Um, I would be interested in writing something like that and I'm honoured you like my writing style that much that you would want me to write it. Would the Doctor and the OC have a pre-existing relationship or would she just be a random Time Lady? Would you want it to be a romantic thing or just friendship or maybe a relative of the Doctor (daughter or sister or something like that)?
Warnings: Excessive flirting, sexual innuendo… pretty much the same as usual.
When the impromptu movie night had finished and Rhea had fallen asleep against the Doctor's side, utterly exhausted from running on adrenaline and insomnia for three days, the Doctor lifted her up into his arms and started to carry her back to her room. He had to admit he felt heartened that she had trusted him so much as to sleep in his presence. And sleep, at that. He knew Rhea probably better than she knew herself and he knew that she had been a chronic insomniac for years, which had resulted from the aftermath of her catastrophic marriage and her subsequent exile from home. He remembered what she had told him once.
"I don't sleep, honey. I work myself to the point of exhaustion and then I collapse."
He could almost feel his blood boiling the moment he thought about her husband and quelled his anger, forcefully, lest he almost drop her. He shoved open her bedroom door with his knee and walked in, knowing the room like the back of his hand. He placed her on the covers and walked over to the side of the bed, neatly pulling out the covers from under her and swathing her in the blankets, knowing that she would never admit it but she'd freeze, wearing as little as she did to bed. He couldn't help the blush that rose to his cheeks as his eyes were drawn to her long, toned legs, realising that she was wearing even less under that slinky, barely-there robe. He sighed in fond exasperation.
What am I going to do with her?
The loud knocking on the door woke Rhea up. She twisted in her sheets, groggy from the much-needed and unusual sleep. She curled herself into a ball and smiled into the pillow, hoping that the knocking would cease if she ignored it. But, unfortunately, the knocking didn't stop and she sighed, angrily, her hair splayed across the pillow, glaring at the ceiling. She knew of only one person who could be doing the knocking and seeing where she had been the last time she had been awake, it had to be him. She gritted her teeth and flung the covers off her, slipping out of the large, decorated four poster bed, pushing aside curtains. She stomped over to the door and threw open the door, furiously. She almost recoiled when she came face to face with a very familiar blue-suited Time Lord that she hadn't seen for a couple of days. She had to swallow the round of expletives that were about to spill when she was reminded of exactly what had happened the last time she had seen this Doctor. She forced down the flush that rose in her cheeks. There's no need to be embarrassed. So you almost screwed the guy that's been showing you the universe… Okay, that's embarrassing.
"Look, if I don't get sleep, my antidepressants won't work, and then I'll go crazy and kill you." Rhea snapped, recovering from the dangerous direction her thoughts were taking.
The Doctor grinned at her and pecked her on the forehead. "Good morning and hello."
"Hi." She said, grudgingly, and rubbed her eyes, wearily.
The Doctor's eyes were drawn to what she was wearing underneath the silk robe, which had parted in the middle during her sleep. "Um, Rhea… your robe's open."
Rhea looked down at saw the pink baggy shirt that hung off her shoulder and very short shorts were exposed. She rolled her eyes and tightened the robe around her. She snorted. "I'm sure you've seen more."
The Doctor blushed. "Yes, well, that's, I haven't…" He stammered.
"Ugh, it's too early for me to deal with this. Let me go and brush my teeth and have a shower." She sighed. Her shoulders slumped and she walked over to the bathroom, slipping inside and shutting the door after her.
Rhea walked out into the corridor outside her room, where the Doctor was waiting for her, impatiently, now wearing a one-shoulder leather top that flared out at her hip, leather pants and black heels.
"You take too long." He said, accusingly.
Rhea socked him, lightly, on the arm and nudged him forwards, intending to follow him back into the console room. She strode inside to find Martha sitting on the captain's chair, wearing the same clothes she had been when they had gone to visit Shakespeare.
"Wait," Rhea stopped. "Where are we?" She asked the Doctor.
"We just went to see Shakespeare." The Doctor explained. "Where were you?"
"Oh, good." Rhea sighed in relief. "Oh, I was in your future." She turned to Martha. "Sorry, Martha, still haven't met you first time yet."
Martha frowned at her and the Doctor. "I'm still a bit confused about what happens to you. What did you mean by 'get pulled through time and space'?"
"Our timelines aren't linear. I basically just jump around his timeline, meeting him at different points, so I have to ask him what he's done, so I don't spoil anything." Rhea explained.
"She's not very good at it yet." The Doctor muttered to Martha and ducked under the hand that reached for him. "I said 'yet'!" He protested.
Rhea scowled at him. "I'm not used to this, give me a break!" She narrowed her eyes at him. "And it's very hard."
The Doctor grabbed her hand, holding it up to his lips to place a kiss on the knuckles, making her shift, uncomfortably, and dragged her over to the console, flipping a few levers as he did so, obviously in a good mood.
He looked at Martha, who sat demurely, waiting for someone to speak. "Just one trip. 'S'what I said." He scratched the back of his head. "One trip, in the TARDIS, and then home. Although," Rhea smirked when she could see the reluctance in him. "I suppose we could, stretch the definition." The Doctor said, slyly. "Try one trip to the past, one trip to the future. How do you fancy that?" He asked.
Martha's face lit up and she and Rhea exchanged a grin, both thrilled. "No complaints from me!"
"How about a different planet?" The Doctor asked, his eyes fixed on the time rotor.
"Can we go to yours?" Martha asked, excitedly.
Rhea could practically feel all the joy and excitement drain out of the TARDIS the minute that Martha spoke those words. In fact, if she looked deeper, she could see that the TARDIS lights had actually dimmed slightly. She cursed Martha's timing and walked over to the Doctor, slipping an arm to wrap around his stomach, an action that was hidden to Martha by the console. She leaned up on her toes against his tall frame and rested her chin on her shoulder. She could see that the smile had fallen from his face, despite his attempts to keep it on.
"Ah, there's plenty of other places." The Doctor waved off, swallowing hard and staring, intently, at the time rotor, still holding onto Rhea's hand, tightly. Rhea frowned, practically able to hear the tremble in his voice.
"Come on, though! I mean, Planet of the Time Lords, that's got to be worth a look! What's it like?" Martha asked, her eyes wide.
"Well, it's beautiful, yeah." The Doctor said, hoarsely.
"Is it like, you know, outer space cities, all spires and stuff?" Martha asked, travelling around the console.
"Suppose it is." The Doctor muttered.
"Great big temples and cathedrals." Martha continued, oblivious to the Doctor's attempts to avoid the topic, lost in her imagination of a great, big fantastical city.
Rhea wanted to hiss at Martha to shut up, worried for the Doctor. She watched him, carefully, seeing how his eyes changed with every one of Martha's words.
"Yeah." The Doctor said, wistfully.
"Lots of planets in the sky?" Martha asked.
"Martha…" Rhea warned, softly. Despite her warning, she could understand that it wasn't really Martha's fault. She had no idea what had actually happened to Gallifrey, just as she didn't know how much it hurt the Doctor to even think about his home-planet.
The Doctor swallowed hard, his eyes going glazed as he was lost in his memories. "The sky's a burnt orange," He murmured. "With the Citadel enclosed in a mighty glass dome, shining under the twin suns. Beyond that, the mountains go on forever, slopes of deep red grass, capped with snow." His voice was hoarse and emotional and if tears came to Rhea's eyes, she would never admit it, but it was more than likely it did.
Rhea watched the way his tongue curled around the words and the heavy tone he spoke them with. She pursed her lips and hesitantly stepped forwards, looping her arm with his.
Martha was utterly entranced by his words. "Can we go there?"
"Nah!" The Doctor cleared his throat. "Where's the fun for me? I don't want to go home! Instead…" He danced Rhea around the console, spinning her around and dipping her, knowing that she was watching him with narrowed and worried eyes, realising that it was quite the opposite for him. He really wanted to go home, but he couldn't. He tweaked a few settings as he did so. "This is much better. Year five billion and fifty-three, planet New Earth!" He smirked. He grabbed his coat, which was hanging on the railing, and slipped it on. "Second hope of mankind! Fifty thousand light years from your old world, and we're slap bang in the middle of New New York."
"New New York?" Rhea's eyes went wide. "There's a New New York?"
"Well…" The Doctor drawled. "Technically ,it's the fifteenth New York from the original, so it's New New New New New New New New New New New New New New New York." He said this all in one breath, making Rhea stop and start as she tried to understand what he had just said.
Rhea started laughing at that and kissed him on the cheek. "You are such a dork." She started giggling, madly.
The Doctor grinned at her and kissed her on the top of her head. "One of the most dazzling cities ever built." He threw on his overcoat and led her and Martha out of the TARDIS into a pouring rain shower.
Rhea blinked, her eyes adjusting to the moisture on her face, and covered her head with her forearm, flinching away from the water. "Sweetie, this is not dazzling."
Martha scowled and hurriedly zipped up her jacket. "Time Lords must have a different version of dazzling."
"Nah, bit of rain never hurt anyone." The Doctor said, cheerfully, ignoring the glares that the two women gifted him with. "Come on, let's get under cover!"
It was still raining in the slummy portion of the city where Martha, Rhea and the Doctor finally ended up. They dashed through a back, junk-ridden alleyway, past what looked like giant dumpsters filled to the brim with rubbish and old laundry swinging from a line.
"Well, it looks like the same old Earth to me. On a Wednesday afternoon." Martha muttered.
"And…" Rhea looked around, grimacing. "This is definitely New York."
Martha frowned. "I thought you were from California?"
"Hmm…?" Rhea turned to look at Martha. "My brother lives in New York from time to time."
"I thought you were an only child." Martha said, confused.
"Oh, I am." Rhea's eyes widened and she hastened to explain. "Indians… we see our cousins like siblings. He's my cousin, but I consider him to be my brother. And bear in mind, marrying cousins is somewhat accepted in Indian society. But only certain cousins. It has to be a cross-cousin, not a parallel cousin. So, if I were living in India, it would be acceptable for me to marry my cousin, 'cause he's my father's sister's son... and, I'm rambling." Martha's disgusted look raised her hackles. "Hey, watch it, Dr. Quinn, I didn't say I married my cousin, he's my brother, and don't knock my culture."
"But that's disgusting!" Martha protested. "It fosters inbreeding and genetic defects."
Rhea shrugged. "I agree, but it's not my life and I don't plan on marrying my cousin. My philosophy is to let people live their own life. It's their choice, not mine." She glared at Martha. "You're a bit narrow-minded, aren't you?"
"I am not." She protested.
Rhea sighed. "Yeah, cause you'd totally accept it if you were."
"Okay, okay, you two, don't fight." The Doctor said, cautiously. "Let's have a look." He went over to a dead screen on the wall and pulled out his sonic screwdriver, flashing it on the screen, the humming rising through the air.
Once static appeared, the Doctor banged on the top of the screen himself. Rhea rolled her eyes.
"Typical… when men can't fix something, they end up banging on it or hitting it with a stick." She muttered under her breath.
The Doctor grinned at her. "I can fix you." He said, lasciviously, making Rhea's jaw drop in surprise.
Rhea's mouth went dry and her stomach clenched. "I'd like to see you try." She growled, her hands twisting at the side.
"Name the time and place, beautiful." He said, flirtatiously, his eyes running a hot trail down her body.
"Oh, I will." She purred.
Martha cleared her throat. "If you both could stop flirting…" She said, sternly.
The Doctor flushed and Rhea shifted, uncomfortably. "Right, sorry." The Doctor said, apologetically.
Suddenly, a blonde woman appeared on the screen. "And the driving should be clear and easy, with fifteen extra lanes open for the New New Jersey expressway."
The image of the screen shifted to reveal what New New York looked above ground, a gorgeous spired city on the coast of a large river, with sleek flying vehicles zooming in the air.
"Oh, that's more like it! That's the New we had last time. This must be the lower levels. Down in the base of the tower, some sort of under-city." The Doctor said, looking around.
Rhea raised an eyebrow. "Last time? We've been here before?"
"Shut up." Rhea muttered. "Wait, under city? You mean, you brought us to the slums?" She tried to look stern but smiled in spite of herself.
"Much more interesting! It's all cocktails and glitter up there. This is the real city." The Doctor said, cheerfully.
Rhea bit her lip to hide her smile. "Oh, honey, you'd enjoy anything." She said, fond affection bleeding into her voice.
"That's me." The Doctor kissed her on the forehead. "Oh, the rain's stopping! Better and better!"
"When you say "last time"," Martha began, hesitantly. "Was that with Rose?"
"Um… yeah." Rhea could see the Doctor's gaze shutter down. "Yeah, it was, yeah."
Martha raised an eyebrow. "You're taking me to the same planets that you took her?" She asked, displeased.
Rhea winced, knowing how that must sound. But, of course, the Doctor remained oblivious. "What's wrong with that?" He asked, confused.
"Nothing." Martha grimaced. "Just… ever heard the word "rebound"?"
Rhea snorted. "Probably not." She reached out and grasped Martha's shoulder, comfortingly.
Maybe it was because she hadn't known Rose all that long or maybe it was because she had met Martha before Rose or maybe it was because Martha always seemed more mature and kept together than Rose, but she liked Martha a great deal and she thought she was good for the Doctor in her absences. She could see herself forming a relationship with Martha based on mutual respect rather than a protectiveness, which she felt, but didn't overcome anything else. She looked at Rose the way she did her younger cousin, a slightly immature, bratty, but loving little sister who needed guidance. When she saw Martha, she could see a friend on equal footing and that was something that Rhea had wanted for a very long time. And she was determined to keep it for a long time too.
She had to admit she was slightly irritated at the Doctor now. Every time she had seen Martha with the Doctor, bar the first time with the Sontarans, the Doctor had managed to make Martha feel less worthy of travelling in the TARDIS. With Shakespeare, the Doctor had constantly tried to remind Martha that she was a temporary passenger on the TARDIS. And then with Lazarus, the Doctor had instilled so much insecurity in Martha that she just couldn't believe he'd ever want her as a permanent companion. Right now, she was just annoyed that the Doctor kept shoving Rose in Martha's face.
She and Martha pushed past the Doctor into the alleyway, both vexed at the Doctor for different reasons. Suddenly, a man flipped open the top of one of the large green boxes to reveal a street vendor's cart. Around the Doctor, Rhea and Martha, another two street-vendors did the same, each talking in excited voices.
"Oh! You should have said. How long you been there? Happy! You want Happy!" One of the venders exclaimed.
"Customers! Customers! We've got customers!" Another vendor shouted.
"We're in business! Mother, open up the Mellow, and the Read!" The third vendor called out.
"Happy, Happy, lovely happy Happy!" The first vendor cried out, encouragingly.
"Anger! Buy some Anger!"
"Get some Mellow, makes you feel all bendy and soft all day long!"
"Younger, them. They'll rip you off. Do you want some happy?"
"No, thanks." The Doctor said, hastily, frowning at the vendors.
Martha's eyes widened and she turned to the Doctor and Rhea. "Are they selling drugs?"
"I think they're selling moods." Rhea murmured, looking around, sceptically. "Figures… human beings are fucking stoners five billion years in the future too."
"Same thing, isn't it?" Martha grumbled, making Rhea chuckle.
Other, more bedraggled people walked into the alleyway behind the Doctor, Rhea and Martha. These newcomers drew even more excitement from the vendors, each vendor trying their hardest to make the newcomers come to their stall instead. A pale woman dressed in dark clothes walked, determinedly, toward one of the stalls.
"Over here, sweetheart! That's it, come on, I'll get you first!"
"Oy! Oy, you! Over here! Over here! Buy some Happy!"
"Come over here, yeah. And what can I get you, my love?"
"I want to buy forget." The pale woman replied.
"I've got Forget, my darling. What strength? How much you want forgetting?"
"It's my mother and father. They went on the motorway."
"Oh, that's so sweet." The pharmacist reached behind her in the stall and pulled out a small, circular patch in a plastic sleeve and held it out to the pale woman. "Try this. Forget Forty-three. That's twopence."
The pale woman payed the pharmacist and turned away, the patch in her hand. Before she could do anything with it, the Doctor stopped her.
"Sorry, but, hold on a minute. What happened to your parents?" The Doctor asked, worriedly, wondering why she was resorting to drugs to forget her parents if they had only driven off.
"They drove off." The pale woman answered, confused.
"They might drive back." Rhea said, slowly and gently, as if she were talking to a small child.
The woman shook her head. "Everyone goes to the motorway in the end. I've lost them."
"But they can't have gone far. You could find them." The Doctor said, reassuringly.
The pale woman looked at them, then looked down with a sigh. She stuck the circular patch on the side of her neck.
"No, no, no, don't." The Doctor cried, but he was too late.
Once the patch had been applied to her skin, the pale woman's expression changed almost instantly. Her face and her eyes relaxed and she seemed docile, serene and a bit out of it, but blithely unaware of her surroundings.
"I'm sorry, what were you saying?" The pale woman asked, lightly.
"Your parents. Your mother and father. They're on the motorway." The Doctor said, slowly.
"Are they?" She smiled. "That's nice."
Martha and Rhea looked on with disbelief and they looked at the Doctor, who seemed disturbed, but not surprised.
"I'm sorry. I won't keep you." The pale woman apologised and they watched her walk away with frowns on their faces, the Doctor pensive, Rhea exasperated and Martha upset and a little scornful.
"The human race five billion years in the future… high as a fucking kite." Rhea shook her head.
Just as Rhea finished saying this, two figures sprang out from behind Martha, carrying guns and wearing dark clothing, looking like typical muggers. A man grabbed her from behind, throwing his arm over her neck in a chokehold and dragging her off, as a woman stood in front of them, the barrel of her gun switching between the Doctor and Rhea. Martha screamed and struggled in their gasp, but they were quick, backing up and taking Martha with them.
"I'm sorry, I'm really, really sorry. We just need three, that's all." The man reassured.
Rhea gritted her teeth and she made a move to disable Martha's attackers, when the Doctor pulled her back, fearful that the woman would shoot her. The Doctor made sure that Rhea was behind him and that she wouldn't attack, before he allowed them to move forward.
"No, let her go! I'm warning you, let her go! Whatever you want, I can help. Both of us, we can help. But first you've got to let her go!" The Doctor screamed, desperate.
"I'm sorry. I'm really sorry. Sorry." The woman said, almost tearful, repeating her apologies until the couple had disappeared, with Martha still in their clutches, slamming a large green door behind them.
The Doctor bared his teeth and Rhea growled in frustration and they began to wrestle with the door.
They could hear Martha shouting in her kidnapper's grasp, even from behind the door. Rhea growled, unable to patiently wait for the Doctor to open the door with his sonic screwdriver. She pulled her blaster out from the back of her pants and aimed it at the door.
"Move over." She said, darkly, and pulled the trigger, a bright white beam shooting the door and disintegrating it in a second. "We don't have time to consider property damage."
"The Doctor and Rhea are so gonna kill you, and never mind them, I'm gonna kill you myself! Let go of me!" They heard Martha scream.
"Give her some Sleep." They heard the man order his accomplice.
"Don't you dare!" They could hear the fear in Martha's voice, pushing them to run faster. "Don't put that stuff in me, don't! Get off me!"
"It's just Sleep Fourteen." The woman said, reassuringly. Martha screamed in resistance. "No, baby, don't fight it."
"I'm telling you, don't!" Martha shouted, finally, before the Doctor and Rhea could hear absolutely nothing coming from her.
They dashed through the corridor where the man and the woman had just taken Martha. They rushed out onto the fire escape, just as a car rose into the air and the engines powered up.
"Martha!" The Doctor and Rhea shouted.
The vehicle sped off down a small alleyway and out of sight.
Rhea ran back to the alleyway where she, the Doctor and Martha had met the pharmacists in the makeshift trailers, the Doctor right on her heels. She pounded on the door of one of the now-closed stalls. It flipped up quickly, revealing one of the pharmacists. Seeing Rhea and the Doctor, she grinned broadly and leaned towards her over the countertop.
"Thought you'd come back! Do you want some happy Happy?" The pharmacist asked.
Rhea growled. "Those people, who were they?" She snapped, mad as hell and almost at the point of hurting someone. "Where did they take her?"
Another pharmacist lifted up his door. "They've taken her to the motorway." He replied.
"Looked like carjackers to me."
"I'd give up now, darling. You won't see her again." The second pharmacist said, sympathetically.
"Used to be thriving in this place. You couldn't move. But they all go to the motorway in the end."
The Doctor whirled around, glaring fiercely at all of them. "He kept on saying three, we need three. What did he mean, three?"
"It's the car-sharing policy, to save fuel. You get special access if you're carrying three adults."
"This motorway… how do we get there?" Rhea asked.
"Straight down the alley, keep going to the end. You can't miss it."
Rhea grabbed the sleeve of the Doctor's coat and dragged him in the direction the pharmacist indicated, not stopping for a second.
"Tell you what, how 'bout some happy Happy? Then you'll be smiling, my love!"
And that was all the Doctor needed to snap. He turned around, his form tense and his eyes vengeful.
"Word of advice, all of you. Cash up. Close down. And pack your bags." He growled.
"Why's that, then?"
"Because as soon as we've found her, alive and well, and we will find her, alive and well, then, we're coming back. And this street is closing. Tonight!"
Martha fuzzily came to, seeing an odd green light above her, and she squinted. She looked around the car, seeing containers of pills and liquid next to her and hearing vague voices in the background. She looked over at the front of the vehicle, seeing silhouettes of two people in the seats.
"Yeah. The view from the windows. You can see all the way out to the flatlands." She heard a woman say.
Martha reached, wearily, for the patch on her neck and yanked it off, frowning. She threw it away with a grimace.
"The sky … They say the air smells like apple grass. Can you imagine?" The woman laughed.
"The houses are made of wood. There are jobs going in the foundries. Everyone says so!" The man grinned.
Martha's mind raced a mile a minute. She saw a gun sitting on a computer screen next to her head and snatched it, pointing at her captors.
"Take me back." She growled. "Whoever you are, just take me back to my friends. That's all I want. I won't cause any trouble. Just take me back!"
The man and the woman glanced at each other.
"I'm sorry. That's not a real gun." The woman said, sympathetically.
Martha reared back. "Yeah, well, you would say that."
"Where do you get a gun from, these days? I wouldn't even know how to fire." The woman said.
Martha looked disgustedly at the fake firearm in her hand, lowering it slowly. "No, nor me. Okay."
"What's your name?" The woman asked, trying to be friendly.
"Martha. Martha Jones." Martha got up and, gingerly, walked over to the front of the car, standing behind her captors.
"Well, I'm Cheen, and this is Milo. And I swear we're sorry. We're really, really sorry. We just needed access to the fast line, but I promise, as soon as we arrive, we'll drop you off and you can go back and find your friends."
"Seriously?" Martha raised an eyebrow in disbelief. She couldn't imagine the two who had kidnapped her and held a gun to the Doctor and Rhea would easily let her go.
"I swear! Look-" Cheen pulled back her hair to reveal a patch on her neck. The small, circular disk had the word 'HONESTY 36' printed on it. "Honesty patch." She said with a grin.
"All the same, that's still kidnapping! Where are we, anyway?" Martha asked, peering out of the dashboard.
"We're on the motorway." Milo answered.
"What's that, then? Fog?" Martha asked.
"That's the exhaust fumes." Cheen explained.
"We're going out to Brooklyn. Everyone says the air's so much cleaner, and we couldn't stay in Pharmacy Town, 'cause …" Milo rubbed Cheen's knee and she grinned up at Martha.
"Well, 'cause of me. I'm pregnant. We only discovered it last week. Scan says it's going to be a boy." Cheen was practically glowing in her delight.
Milo made a mock victory gesture, obviously thrilled by Cheen's condition.
"Great. What do I do now, congratulate my kidnappers?" Martha asked, sarcastically.
"Oh, we're not kidnappers. Not really." Cheen said, sheepishly.
"Nope. You're idiots! You're having a baby, and you're wearing that?" Martha asked, incredulously. Her medical instinct kicked in and she ripped the offending patch from Cheen's neck, who gave a small yelp of pain. "Not anymore."
"This'll be as fast as we can. We'll take the motorway to the Brooklyn flyover, and then after that it's gonna take awhile, 'cause then there's no fast lane, just ordinary roads, but at least it's direct." Milo explained.
"It's only ten miles." Cheen told her.
Martha frowned. "How long is it gonna take?"
"About six years."
Martha's eyes widened. "What?"
"Be just in time for him to start school." Cheen grinned and she and Milo giggled, exhilarated by the new experience.
"Nope. Sorry. Hold on. Six years? Ten miles in six years? How come?" Martha asked, worry curling inside her stomach.
In a dilapidated corridor, much like the rest of the architecture of the building, near an old sign that read 'MOTORWAY ACCESS', the sonic screwdriver buzzed in the dim lighting. The Doctor was forcing open a large door, while Rhea waited for him, impatiently. The lock opened with a loud clang and they stepped out onto a platform. They coughed, suddenly overwhelmed by the atmosphere of heavy smoke and exhaust fumes of several thousand cars, all hovering in the air in some horrific parody of the most terrible traffic jam in the whole universe. Right in front of the platform the Doctor and Rhea were standing on, the door to one of the hovering vehicles opened and a large figure, covered in protective gear, leaned out of his car.
"Hey! You daft little street struts! What are you doing, standing there? Either get out or get in! Come on!" He shouted.
The Doctor and Rhea coughed again, their throats going hoarse, and they jumped, one at a time, through the open door, into the car.
"Did you ever see the like?" The man asked, incredulously.
A small, dark-haired woman, sitting in the passenger seat, handed the Doctor and Rhea an oxygen mask each, and they took theirs gratefully.
"Here you go." She said, kindly.
"Just standing there, breathing it in!" The man shook his head in disbelief. He pulled off his goggles, cap and scarf to reveal a man with a head just like a cat, making Rhea recoil and narrow her eyes at the man, surprised. "There's this story says back in the old days, on Junction Forty-Seven, this woman stood in the exhaust fumes for a solid twenty minutes. By the time they found her, her head had swollen to fifty feet!"
"Oh, you're making it up." The woman scoffed.
The cat-man now headed towards the front of the car, getting in the driver's seat. "A fifty-foot head! Just think of it. Imagine picking that nose."
"Stop it. That's disgusting."
"What? Did you never pick your nose?"
The woman suddenly sat up straight, all joking forgotten, and tapped the man on the arm. "Bran, we're moving!"
"Right. I'm there. I'm on it." The cat-man pulled a lever on the console and the engines at the back of the car spewed out smoke. As they went forward, the other cars moved into place around them, horns beeping in every corner. However, the car didn't move very far and the cat-man drew the lever back after a few seconds. "Twenty yards! We're having a good day."
The woman smiled and both of them now turned back to regard the Doctor and Rhea, who were standing behind them and pulling of their oxygen masks.
"And who might you be, sir, miss? Very well-dressed for hitchhikers." The cat-man commented.
"Thanks. Sorry, I'm the Doctor and this is my Rhea." The Doctor grinned at the two.
Rhea raised an eyebrow and turned to the Doctor. "'Your Rhea'? I'm not yours and you make me sound like property." She crossed her arms over her chest.
The Doctor sniffed. "I like that idea. My property." He looked as though he was genuinely considering it.
Rhea raised an eyebrow and gave him an unimpressed look. "I will shoot you. Seriously."
"Medical man!" The cat-man laughed. "My name's Thomas Kincade Brannigan, and this is the bane of my life, the lovely Valerie."
Valerie smiled up at them. "Nice to meet you."
Brannigan gestured behind the Doctor and Rhea. "And that's the rest of the family behind you."
The Doctor turned around and drew a curtain back behind them, revealing a basket of adorable mewling kittens.
"Aww, that's nice. Hello." The Doctor murmured.
"They're gorgeous." Rhea cooed and she reached for a tiny black and white spotted kitten, the Doctor and her stroking its fur, lovingly.
"How old are they?" The Doctor asked Brannigan and Valerie.
"Just two months."
"Poor little souls." Brannigan sighed. "They've never known the ground beneath their paws." The Doctor and Rhea both looked puzzled. "Children of the motorway."
"What," Rhea's eyes widened. "They were born in here?"
"We couldn't stop. We heard there were jobs going, out in the laundries on Fire Island. Thought we'd take a chance." Valerie explained.
"What? You've been driving for two months?" The Doctor asked, shocked.
"Do I look like a teenager?" Brannigan chuckled. "We've been driving for twelve years now."
Rhea swallowed. "I'm sorry?"
"Yeah! Started out as newlyweds! Feels like yesterday."
"Feels like twelve years to me." Valerie said, dryly.
"Ah, sweetheart, but you're still lovely." Brannigan tickled her, making her giggle, and just like that, their troubles were forgotten.
"Twelve years?! How far did you come? Where did you start?" The Doctor asked, worriedly. Something seriously is wrong here.
"Battery Park. It's five miles back."
"You travelled five miles in twelve years?" Rhea said, incredulously.
"I think they're a bit slow." Brannigan told his wife.
Rhea reached behind her and put the kitten back with its siblings. She turned to the Doctor. "This place is worse than Delhi and LA combined, and I should know, I've lived in both places and it's still not this bad. The fumes itself would probably kill you in a couple of minutes." She stared out of the side window, worriedly.
"Where are you from?" Valerie asked, looking between the two strangers.
"Never mind that, we've got to get out." The Doctor peered out of the window. "Our friend's in one of these cars. She was taken hostage. We should get back to the TARDIS."
The Doctor and Rhea pulled open the door near them, but were too overwhelmed by the cloud of smoke. They almost stepped out into the fog, had they not realised that there was nothing to jump onto.
"You're too late for that. We've passed the lay-by." Brannigan explained.
The Doctor and Rhea coughed and they closed the door behind them.
"You're a passenger now, Sonny Jim!" Brannigan chuckled.
"When's the next lay-by?" Rhea asked Brannigan, urgently.
"Oh…" Brannigan adopted a thoughtful look. "Six months?"
Rhea groaned and the Doctor simply didn't look amused.
From the vehicle she was currently being held hostage in, Martha watched the traffic jam through a window.
"How many cars are out there?" Martha asked.
"I don't think anyone knows." Behind Martha, Cheen reached for something and held it out to her. "Here you go. Hungry?"
"Oh, thanks." Martha pulled away from the window and stood behind the couple again, munching on a large round wafer, almost like a rice-cracker. "About how far down is it to this fast lane?" She asked Milo and Cheen.
"Oh, it's right at the bottom, underneath the traffic jam. But not many people can afford three passengers, so it's empty down there. Rumour has it you can reach up to thirty miles per hour." Milo said, conspiratorially.
"Wow. That's, like, crazy." Martha said, sarcastically.
Milo and Cheen laughed, amused by their new companion. Martha looked around the car, curiously.
"But how are you supposed to live inside this thing? It's tiny." Martha remarked.
"Oh, we stocked up. Got self-replicating fuel, muscle stimulants for exercise, and there's a chemical toilet at the back. And all waste products are recycled as food." Cheen explained.
Martha stopped eating at once and looked down at the wafer in her hands with disgust. "O-Okay." She stuttered and dropped the wafer as soon as she possibly could.
"Oh, another gap, this is brilliant!" Milo exclaimed, delighted.
An electronic voice came over the monitor on the dashboard. "Car sign in."
"Car Four Six Five Diamond Six, on descent to fast lane, thank you very much." Milo spoke into the transmitter.
"Please drive safely." The electronic voice said.
The Doctor and Rhea moved over to a monitor that was hung in the back of the car. The Doctor pulled out his sonic screwdriver and flashed it across the monitor, which showed the insignia of the New New York Police Department, a familiar humming filling the air. The Doctor and Rhea were reflected in screen, the Doctor holding up a vocal transmitter.
"We need to talk to the police." The Doctor spoke into the communicator.
"Thank you for your call. You have been placed on hold." An electronic female voice replied and, as these words were spoken, they also appeared typed on the screen: 'THANK YOU FOR YOUR CALL. YOU HAVE BEEN PLACED ON HOLD'.
Rhea snatched the transmitter off the Doctor. "But, wait, you're the cops. Oh, what am I saying, of course you're the cops." She said, scathingly. She dropped the transmitter with disgust. "They're useless." She hissed.
The Doctor, realising what she really meant by that, reached out and rubbed her arms, comfortingly. They scrambled back up to the front of the car where Brannigan and Valerie were still sitting.
"Is there anyone else? We once met the Duke of Manhattan; is there any way of getting through to him?" The Doctor asked.
Rhea frowned and looked up at him. "There's a Duke of Manhattan? Since when?"
"Spoilers." He waved off.
"Oh, now, ain't you lordly?" Brannigan said.
"We have to find our friend." Rhea snapped.
Valerie shook her head. "You can't make outside calls. The motorway's completely enclosed."
"What about the other cars?" The Doctor asked.
"Oh, we've got contact with them, yeah. Well, some of them, anyway. They've got to be on your friends list. Now, let's see, who's nearby? Ahh! The Cassini sisters!" Brannigan held up his transmitter. "Still your hearts, my handsome girls. It's Brannigan here."
An old lady's voice came over the transmitter. "Get off the line, Brannigan. You're a pest and a menace." They could hear the amusement in her voice.
"Oh, come on, now, sisters. Is that any way to talk to an old friend?"
"You know full well we're not sisters. We're married." The old woman said it with such finality that it made Rhea want to pump her fist in the air in triumph.
"Ooh, stop that modern talk! I'm an old-fashioned cat."
Rhea snorted and leaned into the Doctor, turning her head. "Figures… the year five billion and they've still got homophobes. This time, in cat form."
"Now, I've got some hitchhikers here, call themselves the Doctor and Rhea." Brannigan handed the transmitter over to the Doctor, who grabbed it from him, impatiently.
'Hello. Sorry. We're looking for someone called Martha Jones. She's been carjacked. She's inside one of these vehicles, but we don't know which one." The Doctor said, hurriedly.
"Wait a minute." The old woman said. After a moment, she began to speak again. "Could I ask, what entrance did they use?"
"Where are we?" Rhea asked Brannigan, quietly.
"Pharmacy Town." He replied.
"Pharmacy Town, about twenty minutes ago." The Doctor spoke, quickly, into the transmitter.
"Let's have a look." There was a pause. "In the last half hour, fifty-three new cars joined from the Pharmacy Town junction."
Rhea snatched the transmitter from the Doctor. "Please tell me you have something more specific."
"All in good time. Was she car-jacked by two people?"
"Yeah, she was."
"There we are. Just one of those cars was destined for the fast lane. That means they had three on board. And car number is four six five diamond six."
Rhea turned to look at the Doctor, the relief clear on both of their faces. "That's it!"
The Doctor looked down at Brannigan, taking the transmitter from Rhea. "So how do we find them?" He asked one of the Cassini Sisters.
"Ah. Now, there I'm afraid I can't help."
"Call them on this thing. We've got their number. Diamond six." The Doctor told Brannigan.
Brannigan shook his head. "Not if they're designated fast lane. It's a different class."
"You could try the police." The old lady offered.
Rhea snorted. "They put us on hold."
"You'll have to keep trying. There's no one else." Another old woman said, her voice sympathetic.
The Doctor gritted his teeth in frustration. "Thank you." He handed Brannigan back the transmitter.
A/N: I thought that would be a nice place to end the first chapter for Gridlock. We'll have to wait until the next chapter for the car jumping and the Face of Boe. I hoped you all liked this chapter though, and the fluffy scenes at the beginning. I wanted to get back to the plot, because I am really itching to do Utopia/The Sound of Drums/Last of the Time Lords and I realised that if I keep doing other random episodes before I get to the main plot, I won't have as many episodes to do before the other season finales.
Rhea is definitely a Martha fangirl. Like she said, I think it's because she met Martha first and she hasn't formed that bond with Rose yet. And probably because she sees Martha as more mature than Rose. Rhea will keep pushing for the Doctor to treat Martha better. Oh, and the Indians bit, Rhea's nationality is quite mixed. She's half Italian on her mother's side and her father is half South Indian and half North Indian. And I won't say it's common, but it is acceptable for cousins to marry each other in South India, at least that's what Tamil soap operas are peddling to the masses.
Oh, and two reminders. Remember that the poll for the Doctor-Rhea pairing name will close when I post Chapter 46. And... seeing as I've got 293 reviews as of this chapter, the 300th reviewer will get ONE spoiler about the this story or the Lady Oracle Apocrypha. So... yeah, review!
Anyway… hope you liked the chapter and don't forget to leave a review!