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Encounters of a Disordered Kind, PG, 2968 words

Title: Encounters of a Disordered Kind
Characters: Martha, Liz
Rating: PG
Word count: 2968
Summary: It takes a long time for it to be the right time.
Notes: Written for the dw_femslash ficathon for carawj, who wanted old or middle school characters meeting new school characters and gave me the quote: 'Of course it is happening inside your head [...] but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?' I'm very sorry for the delay in posting. Many thanks are due to purple_bug for the excellent beta.




“That,” Martha pointed out as they crashed through the TARDIS doors, the Doctor leaping for the console, “was not Tokyo. In the late twenty-first century or otherwise.”

“Been to Tokyo before?”

Martha crossed her arms in an attitude copied from her mother.

“Might be the time vector generator,” he muttered, getting out his glasses and peering through them at the incomprehensible patterns displayed on the screen.

Martha went to wash the purple slime out of her hair.

***

“There, that should do it!” the Doctor declared triumphantly. “Tokyo, here we come!”

He flicked three final switches and turned to grin at her, his expression changing rapidly as he noticed where she was standing.

“Martha, don’t-”

***

The world blurred into gold and green and red and blue and red and green and.

Something hit Martha with enough force to knock the breath out of her.

The colours stopped spinning; the grey-gold light of sun shining through fog just enough to illuminate the place where she found herself.

“Was that an attempt to sweep me off my feet?”

The ‘something’ was revealed by the light to be a woman, just a few years older than Martha but wearing a style of very short skirt that suggested a point of origin a few decades earlier. She was standing just a foot away with her arms crossed, the smile on her face belying her raised eyebrow.

“I may have let you get away with it last time but don’t think-”

“Last time?”

“Yes, I remember. You can’t work with UNIT for very long before getting a wake-up call. And trust me, Martha, if I ever see Captain Cheese again, I’m going to wipe that grin right off his smugly handsome face.”

“I’m sure,” Martha smiled, deciding against enquiring about the unfortunate Captain Cheese’s misdemeanour. “I’m Martha Jones. Pleased to meet you. You seem to be acquainted with me already.”

“Liz Shaw,” Liz replied, shaking Martha’s outstretched hand. “It might not have seemed so, but I was pleased to meet you the first time. Lovely to see you again.”

As first encounters went, it was probably odder than the Doctor taking his tie off at her. That had just been something to be shaken off during the course of an ordinary day. A strange occurrence on a London street. As opposed to…this…here.

Martha sighed. “I hate to ask, but where are we?”

Liz looked around. “I think we’re inside a time warp field. I went through one of these before when the Doctor was fiddling about.”

“So did that happen before?” Martha pointed over Liz’s shoulder, to a spot on what she was calling the wall for lack of a better word. The fog was clearing slightly to reveal an image.

Liz frowned at a point just beside Martha’s left ear. “No, I think that means we’re in trouble.”

Martha turned to look. The wall behind her was just as clouded as ever. The wall in front of her was still showing the TARDIS console room, shaking violently and apparently in distress. She was in an apparently unconscious heap in the floor. The Doctor was frozen in the attitude of rushing over to her.

“It’s not there that’s shaking,” she realised. “It’s us.”

The whole scene was tinged with a pale shade of purple. Mauve.

“Why can’t we feel it?” Liz asked, her eyes fixed on whatever scene she could see.

Martha shrugged. “Why can’t we feel the turn of the Earth under our feet?”

Liz paused for a moment, obviously thinking. “What can you see?”

“Same here,” she agreed after Martha described it. “Except it’s me and my Doctor.”

She turned, and took a couple of pacing steps, before encountering the boundary of their bubble.

“Martha?”

“Yes, it’s getting smaller,” Martha answered.

***

“We can’t die here though.”

“Oh good,” Martha muttered sleepily. Whether it was due to spending an extended period of time inside one instant of time or the imagined effects of being trapped in a very small and very sealed room or something else entirely, she was tired.

“If your idea about our physical bodies being knocked out of the loop by our collision but leaving our minds behind is correct, then this is all in our heads. It’s not real. It’s like a dream. You can’t die in dreams.”

“You’re very logical.”

“Thank you.”

The edge of the bubble continued to approach. Martha pulled Liz onto her lap, noticing as she did so that apparently a skirt that short was still capable of riding up. Liz didn’t object.

“But if this isn’t real, then have I made you up?”

“I’m real.”

“Not here, you’ve said. The flesh, blood and bone is real, but that’s not all of you. This is you and you’re just an imagination. No physical presence.”

Liz frowned. “Are we tired or just not making sense?”

“Both, maybe.”

There was a pause.

Martha thought Liz kissed her before they fell asleep.

It was a dream. They woke up.

***

“Martha! Martha, are you okay?”

The first thing Martha noticed was that she was. She wasn’t tired; the weight of time bearing down on the two human minds in its path had gone.

“What happened?”

“You were projected a couple of seconds into the future. You shouldn’t have collapsed at all though. Are you sure you’re alright?”

“Absolutely.”

***

Apparently when Martha had been taught that breaking and entering, especially with a view to theft, was wrong, they had omitted to add ‘unless we’re going to be stuck in 1969 if we don’t. Well, actually, we won’t be stuck in 1969; it’ll be 1970 in a few months and then it’s only a measly three hundred and sixty-five days until 1971. In fact, looking at it like that, it’s only thirteen thousand, five hundred and fourteen days until we can just catch a bus and pick up the TARDIS, but seeing as the average lifespan of a healthy and well-nourished human who doesn’t have any tragic accidents is round about thirty thousand days and also that ignoring this folder full of lovely information given to us by Miss Sally Sparrow could cause a very nasty paradox, I thought that this would be by far the better course of action.’

It wasn’t as if there was much breaking involved. The sonic screwdriver took care of the door easily and the location of the light switch right by the door ensured she didn’t crash into any of the glasswork obviously delicately balanced on the benches, from the amount of clinking her mere entrance had caused.

Martha squinted at the rough pencil sketch that was her only means of identifying the much-needed component, up at the many and complicated technical-looking bits lying around the room and back to the scrap of paper. There was a name scribbled next to the doodle (‘highly accurate scale drawing’, the Doctor would insist), but what with his handwriting and her knowledge of technical terms that weren’t required in the practicing of medicine, it was next to useless. None of the items were conveniently labelled and it was hardly as if she could go to find someone and ask them what exactly she was supposed to be pinching.

“Excuse me?”

Maybe she could.

“Liz! What are you doing here?”

“I work here. What’s your excuse?”

“Oh.”

“Oh?”

The glassware behind them clinked somewhat ominously, attracting their attention.

“Strange,” Liz murmured, moving to check an elaborate construction of equipment. “The reaction shouldn’t be this strong. Maybe if…”

The windows rattled in their frames. Martha checked to see if it was raining outside. It wasn’t. She wasn’t quite sure if she was glad of that or not.

“I think we should leave.”

Liz crossed to the blackboard on the wall by the door and, picking up a piece of chalk, scribbled a few words.

Something like chalk dust floated in the air. Martha looked up. A crack zig-zagged across the ceiling, spreading even as she watched.

She meant to shout ‘Out!’ but thought she had probably just screamed wordlessly as she threw herself at Liz and both of them landed on the right side of the door as, with a loud rushing crash, the ceiling decided gravity had the right idea.

Martha gave Liz a hand up. Liz didn’t let go once she was back on her feet.

“Martha Jones,” Martha smiled, hoping it was reassuring and not mad-person-who-broke-into-my-lab-and-probably-had-something-to-do-with-it-being-wrecked.

“Liz Shaw. But then you already seem to know my name.”

Another explanation was avoided as the wreckage inside Liz’s lab shifted and a monster emerged.

“Colin,” Liz breathed.

The monster hurled a chunk of bench at them. They ran.

***

“Everybody out?” Liz asked as Martha rejoined her.

“All safely evacuated. Got the files you wanted?”

Liz shifted the weight of the folders in her arms. “Yes. Did you lock all the doors?”

“There are five floors of locked doors and piles of heavy things for him to smash through. Hopefully it’ll hold him up enough.”

“It shouldn’t take that long,” Liz asserted. “I should be able to isolate the part of the formula that mutated and reverse-”

“Reverse the polarity?” Martha suggested, remembering what the Doctor had said when they were inside Lazarus’ capsule.

***

Colin was smashing his way through the first floor, along their corridor, by the time Liz declared the antidote ready.

“It should work on contact with the skin, because that must be how he came into contact with the original he was working on-”

“Brilliant!” Martha exclaimed, aware of how fast the noise of destruction was approaching.

Liz shook her head as Martha held out her hand. “I can’t be sure and obviously there’s no time to run tests. If it doesn’t work, try the drainpipe.” She indicated the window.

The argument became slightly academic as the door buckled and admitted what had until recently been Liz’s unfortunate colleague Colin.

Martha watched apprehensively as the antidote flashed through the air and landed on his skin. She felt bizarrely disappointed that it didn’t sizzle or smoke or do something more dramatic than stain green.

It appeared to work, though, as undramatic as it was. In under ten seconds, Colin’s skin fitted comfortably again as the bulging muscles vanished (although Martha guessed that he would have a few stretch marks), the floorboards ceased making threatening sounds about how much they wanted to go and visit their friends downstairs and he looked up at them, clad in clothes that were beyond the help of darning, in utter bewilderment.

“Liz…what, what…oh my goodness.”

Liz and Martha helped him to his feet and supported him as he wobbled.

“I’m afraid we’ve all got some considerable cleaning-up to do, Colin. A gas escaped from the fume cupboard into the ventilation system. Blackouts and hallucinations are apparently the side effects to excessive exposure but there should be no lasting damage.”

“But…but.”

“Everyone has been evacuated,” Martha contributed. “We should join them.”

Colin peered closely at her. “Blackouts. Haha.”

“Hah,” Martha muttered.

***

“My lab is ruined. I don’t know if I’ll be able to salvage my work. I still have no idea who you are or what you want or why you know me.” Liz sighed. “Thank you for saving my life. What did you want anyway?”

“Oh.” In the all the excitement, Martha had forgotten all about her original task upon paying a visit. “I wanted to find that. A friend of mine-”

Liz studied the paper Martha gave her, handed it back to her and walked off, disappearing into the throng of evacuees from the laboratory. She was back within two minutes.

“There you go. Anna used it as a keyring. She liked it. It might be a bit battered, but it’ll work.”

The vital component could just about be recognised from its depiction. If you tilted your head to the side and squinted. No doubt the Doctor would claim that his drawing was of a much higher design far ahead of this era.

“And I’d like dinner.”

“It’s a bit early, but there’s a good café down there that does hot lunches-”

“I mean, I would like to have dinner with you,” Martha hoped her smile did not say I-am-a-mad-person-and-bad-stuff-happens-around-me.

Liz looked at her, probably considering whether or not Martha was a mad person whom bad stuff happened around.

“Yes. I’d like that.”

Her fingers brushed across Martha’s palm, just for a moment.

“Excuse me? Doctor Elizabeth Shaw?”

“Yes?” Liz turned to face the speaker, a young man in a very smart suit.

“Could we have a word with you?”

“Go ahead.”

“I’m afraid that won’t be possible. We’re collecting statements about the incident and your experience of it and we don’t wish for others’ memories to become corrupted, so we’re interviewing under strict confidentiality. The human mind is so easily led, is it not?”

Suspicious, cautious, Liz walked round the corner to where the young man said his boss was waiting.

She was in easy earshot. When she shouted ‘Run!’, Martha ran.

***

Torchwood completely failed to find the mysterious black girl. It was as if she vanished off the face of the Earth.

***

“This is the border, this is as far as we go.” Martha’s guide flashed the lantern light into the darkness, answered a second later by another flash about ten metres away. “There is your guide, waiting. Godspeed, Martha Jones.”

“Thank you, Nikolai,” Martha replied. It was a silly thing to say, too small a phrase to convey how much she owed this man, how much she owed hundreds of people like him, across all of Europe, but it was all she could say.

He disappeared into the darkness and she walked forward.

***

Liz sat by the fire, its small, flickering light throwing distorted shadows against the walls.

“What are you doing here?” Martha had said, her surprise evident in her voice.

“I was on holiday, believe it or not. I’m thinking of complaining to the tour operator.”

Martha had laughed, very quietly, so as not to alert anything that might be nearby. Life was like that now, subdued and hidden away.

Someone had whispered, “I am so glad to see you.” She had been surprised when she’d realised it was Martha.

A log split open in the fire, dark wood revealed within the ash white shell.

Ash. Snow. Cold. Age. Bone.

Liz held her hand up to the firelight, noting the almost translucent quality. Almost a ghost. She was so old, a relic clinging pathetically to life. And what life. A futile struggle to save an already ruined world, to help a man who had never really appreciated her. She was merely a burden. Martha Jones could walk the Earth much more easily on her own.

It was almost too late by the time Martha woke up.

***

“Martha,” Liz gently shook Martha’s shoulder then let her hand fall. “Martha, concentrate. Tell me about the bones of the hand.”

Martha picked up Liz’s hand from where it lay on her thigh and stared blankly at the palm for a few seconds, as if searching for wisdom and guidance in the lines that crossed her hand.

“Come on, Martha,” Liz urged. “Fight it. It’s just another psychic trap of the Master’s.”

Martha took a deep breath and said slowly, as if struggling to remember, “Carpal bones, proximal row; scaphoid, lunate, triquetrum, pisiform. Distal row; trapezium, trapezoid…”

She faltered. Liz waited, unknowingly holding her breath.

“…capitate, hamate.”

“And this?” Liz prompted, tapping the top of her finger and fighting the proud, relieved smile that wanted to appear on her face. They weren’t out of the woods yet.

“Metacarpal bone, distal phalange, and wonderfully talented.”

The distant quality dissipated and the shadows diminished, Martha’s eyes danced with coy mischief.

“That’s not a bone,” Liz pointed out and Martha kissed her, joy in the darkness.

***

They held each other for a moment at the border. No longer.

“You’re brilliant,” Martha said with utter sincerity.

She didn’t want to leave. There was a scared little girl in her that wanted to hide from the nightmares under her duvet and pretend everything was fine as long as she couldn’t see it.

She didn’t feel brave. But she drew the strength to go on from the strength of those around her.

“I’m not who you’re supposed to be talking about,” Liz managed to smile. “Go on, Martha Jones, save the world.”

Neither of them looked back.

***

Liz stopped and shivered. Absolutely no sign of an alien spaceship so far. The land stretched flat and featureless around her, except for a hill far ahead. Shoving her hands deep into her pockets and pulling her boot out of the bog it had been steadily sinking into, she trudged across the frosted field towards it.

She had almost reached it when three things happened in quick succession. A large shape of metal and plastic hurtled over the crest and landed in the mud behind her; a tentacle whipped out of the mud and started to strangle her with her own scarf and Martha Jones skidded down the slope and saved her life.

“Mickey would never forgive me if anything happened to Vera,” Martha offered by way of explanation.

“This is the last time I do Sarah a favour,” Liz grumbled. “She told me he was friendly. And Patricia gave me that scarf.”

“The one you’re looking for is up there.” Martha indicated the crest of the hill with the big gun called Vera. “Pacifist. Probably friendly if you’re not carrying a gun.”

Liz turned to make her way up the slope. Martha called after her.

“Dinner?”

“No, I’m hoping it’ll save me for breakfast.”

“Promise to make it worth the wait?” Martha grinned.

“All forty years?” Liz tried to look as if she was considering it but couldn’t stop a smile spreading across her face. “I’d love to.”

Comments

Posted by: The Evil Oppressor Persiflage (persiflage_1)
Posted at: 15th October 2008 06:23 (UTC)
Martha Hero

Lovely, lovely... I do enjoy wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey meetings between Old and New Who characters! :D

Posted by: remember my prophetic chickens (agapi42)
Posted at: 18th October 2008 17:20 (UTC)

I'm glad you enjoyed it. :) Thanks for commenting!

Posted by: Rachel (purple_bug)
Posted at: 17th October 2008 18:54 (UTC)
Liz

As I've said several times before, I really like this :o) You've got Martha and Liz down quite well, and the subtle layers make it really interesting and very re-readable :o) I was very happy to beta this for you *hugs*

Posted by: remember my prophetic chickens (agapi42)
Posted at: 18th October 2008 17:21 (UTC)
Vicki hug

Thank you so much, for everything. *hugs back*

Posted by: Cara (carawj)
Posted at: 17th October 2008 22:17 (UTC)

Hi! Thanks so much for writing this for me! I've been in hospital and so haven't been able to read it yet, but I promise you'll get proper feedback from me as soon as I'm able. :D

Posted by: remember my prophetic chickens (agapi42)
Posted at: 18th October 2008 17:23 (UTC)
Jelly baby?

I hope you get better soon! Thanks for letting me know.

Posted by: Cara (carawj)
Posted at: 20th October 2008 13:14 (UTC)

EEEE! Again, thank you SO much for writing this for me, it's EXACTLY the sort of thing I was hoping for! Martha/Liz! With wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey and weird dream sequences, and the year the never was! Seriously, this could not be more perfect. It's funny and awesome and really sweet and I love it muchly. The pairing is great, and you've got their voices wonderfully. :D

Edited to add, would you mind if I friended you? I was meaning to ask even before you wrote this!

Edited at 2008-10-20 13:16 (UTC)

Posted by: remember my prophetic chickens (agapi42)
Posted at: 21st October 2008 00:54 (UTC)
9th Wonders

:D :D :D

I am absolutely thrilled that you like it! Seriously, I just terrified my housemates. Thank you for the fantastic comment; it's made my night!

you've got their voices wonderfully.

It's the first time I've ever written Liz properly and characterisation is always one of my biggest worries, so thank you so very much for that comment!

would you mind if I friended you?
Not at all! When I looked at your profile to find your email address, I was thinking 'Why am I not friends with this girl already?' You've got there before me, so I will be delighted to friend you back!

Posted by: That snorkel's been just like a snorkel to me! (sailorptah)
Posted at: 17th October 2008 23:47 (UTC)
integra is the sex

Mmmm. Short skirts and time loops - a winning combination.

Posted by: remember my prophetic chickens (agapi42)
Posted at: 18th October 2008 17:25 (UTC)

Thank you :)

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