Fandom(s): Doctor Who
Characters: David Tennant, original characters
Word Count: 2119
Summary: (The Actor AU 2) Will's friend becomes terminally ill and there's nothing he can do about it.
Author's notes: This is set about two years after Neighbours and before Repercussions. The entire story is novella-length and too long for a single LJ post, but it's not a chaptered fic; more like a sectioned fic. I'm going to post all of it in bite-sized pieces over the next day or so.
“Oi!” called Will as he stuck his head in the door of his friend’s fledgling time travel capsule. “Hope you’re decent ‘cause I’m comin’ in.” Knowing full well that the door standing ajar was a blanket invitation to enter, he stepped over the threshold into the dimension that housed the interior of the craft.
“Aye, I’m often starkers when I work with heavy machinery, so you’d best keep your eyes shut if you don’t want to be blinded,” came David’s voice from no particular direction.
The room appeared much as Will had always seen it, piled high with components and materials, boxed up or sitting loose in large mounds. The hexagonal central table, which David had told him would one day become the navigational console, currently hosted a large, translucent plastic tub containing what looked like large worms swimming in murky pink liquid. David himself could be hidden behind anything, but as talking didn’t require line of sight, Will hoisted himself up to sit on a sturdy crate. “You just keep your pasty arse hidden away, mate.”
“By your command,” came the reply, obscured a bit by the clunks and whirrs that usually accompanied David’s work. “You’re home early. An hour, I reckon.”
“Yeah. It’s been a rough day.” He sighed. “Today was it.”
“What was ‘it’?”
“You called it, mate. Intervention day.”
David’s head popped up from behind a workbench. A hand snaked up to sweep through his already spiky hair. “Oh, no. Mary?”
“Yeah. Ben said hi as he passed her and she bit his head off.” He kicked his heels against the side of the crate, fidgeting out his worry for his friend. “I’ve never seen anyone lose it so bad like that. When she finally stopped for a breath, she broke into tears. Jodie from HR took her to hospital, and, well, she’s still there.”
David folded his arms on the surface of the workbench and propped his chin up. “Do they know what’s wrong?”
Shrugging, Will shook his head. “Amy said they’ve had doctors see her all day, but they said they haven’t run enough tests yet. She’s calmed down, but she’s back to lying in her bed with her nose in her laptop, ignoring everybody. Amy only got a couple of words out of her.”
“I’m sorry, Will.”
“Yeah, well, hopefully they’ll figure it out right quick and she’ll be back to normal. Though…” He drummed his fingers, not keen on voicing his last thought. “Markus had to go and say that abrupt personality changes are common with brain tumours.”
David grimaced. “He would.”
“Here’s hoping he’s wrong.”
Jumping up from behind the bench, David scrubbed his grimy hands down his jeans. “We should go visit her. I can meet you after work tomorrow.”
Will shrugged again. “Won’t do much good. She barely notices anyone anymore.” He peered up at his friend. “But you know, if it does turn out to be a tumour, could you help? Some of your jiggery-pokery?”
David clicked his tongue and sighed. “Wish I could, but I’m really not a doctor or biologist of any kind. My medical background consists entirely of having played one once on live television. An actual doctor,” he clarified. “Not the Doctor. Though the medical doctor I played also fought aliens. I suppose it’s a bit of a theme for me.” He sniffed. “Jenny and I learnt some Gallifreyan medicine from the Doctor as part of our training, but little of it applies to humans. I’m afraid I’m not much help here.”
“What about that medicine you gave me when we first met, something like that?”
“Nah. That restorative can cure a lot of things, but cancer’s beyond it. And I’ve only a basic medpack, because, well, I really don’t need it.” He turned, gazing off in some direction toward the interior of the TARDIS. “Someday I’ll build a true medical bay, but that’s years away.”
“Damn. I was hoping.” Turning, Will eyed David for a moment, then shivered a bit, as if he wasn’t sure he should say what he was thinking. “What if it’s alien?
David frowned. “What makes you think it’s alien?”
“I don’t know,” Will sighed. “It just seems wrong. You know, friend goes suddenly bonkers, doctors can’t find a thing wrong with her -”
“And it’s gotta be an alien cause because I’m here,” David finished for him.
“I’m not saying it’s something to do with you,” Will assured him immediately, but he couldn’t quite face him.
“It’s completely understandable.” David leant back against the workbench. “There’s one alien standing right in front of you, and you’re surrounded by all this.” He swept a hand around, pointing at the extradimensional space, the crates full of alien technology, and the strange worms slithering through the liquid in the tub. “And I really do seem to attract all the weird, don’t I? It’s only natural to think the next unexplained phenomenon must be extraterrestrial as well. It’d be comforting, even, to find a simple, tangible cause, wouldn’t it?”
David’s eyes darkened. “But it doesn’t work that way. Sure, it could be caused by an alien influence, but that’s unlikely. And we aren’t all evil and malicious, you know.”
“I know that!” Will snapped.
“Will.” David scrubbed his hand down over his jaw, the tightening of his jaw betraying his concern. “Mary’s my friend, too, you know. I’ll do what I can for her, but I can’t…” Shaking his head, he swallowed and shrugged. “I can’t promise anything.”
“I know. I just want to keep our minds open, you know?” He held David’s gaze for a moment, then they both nodded.
“Yeah. Tomorrow then. I’ll meet you at your building, after work.”
Will was not pleased to be proven right about the efficacy of visiting their friend. Mary, gaunt and exhausted, glanced up when he and David entered her hospital room with Amy, who’d joined them on their visit, but her sunken eyes slid over them and she returned to furiously typing on the tablet on the trolley table in front of her. A man sitting in the guest chair near the bed watched her reaction, then cast a cold but welcoming smile at the newcomers.
“I’m sorry,” Amy said to him, stepping forward. “We didn’t mean to intrude.”
“It’s not like you can at all, now can you?” he replied, glancing at Mary, still oblivious. “She barely even eats. She’ll get about half the meal down before she’s back at it again. I think she forgets it’s there. That’s all she does. Type and sleep.” Shrugging, he stood up and offered his hand to Amy. “I’m Kevin, Mary’s brother.”
“Nice to meet you,” greeted Amy as she shook his hand. “I wish the circumstances were better. I’m Amy. This is Will and that’s David. We work with Mary. Well, Will and I do. David’s a friend.”
“Thank you for coming. It’s a comfort to me, even if she barely notices.” He reached over to pat Mary’s arm, and she swatted his hand away like it was a buzzing fly.
“She’s been so focused and serious for a couple of months now,” Will explained, “and she’s been a bit snippy, but we’d no idea it’d gotten so bad.”
“Since Gareth died?” Kevin asked, his smirk revealing that he already knew the answer to his question.
“That’s the time, yes,” Will confirmed.
Slapping his thigh, Kevin spun and paced away. “That’s what I thought. I told the doctor, but he won’t listen!” he hissed.
“Told him what?” asked Amy.
Kevn turned back, shaking his head. “Mary’s caught this from Gareth. It’s exactly the same thing.” He nodded at the three identical gapes of horror on the friends’ faces. “Mind you, I didn’t see him myself, but Mary stayed in my flat during his last days and she told me all about it. Psychotic episodes and hallucinations, and all he did was sleep and make these little -” He gestured vaguely in front of himself, trying to explain what he was talking about.
“The statues!” Amy gasped. “Those little clay statues. She gave me two of them. She said Gareth made them.”
“I’ve got one, too. She said he made hundreds of them,” added Will.
Kevin nodded. “Right. He was obsessive about making them right to the end.”
David piped up, “And she’s typing obsessively. What’s she writing?”
“I’ve only had a glance. It looks like a novel.” He leant in to his sister. “Mary,” he coaxed gently at first, then with more force. “Mary! Look at me!”
With an irritated tremor, she sneered at her brother. “What the bloody hell do you want, Kev? I’m busy.”
“Your friends are here to see you,” he admonished her, pointing at them.
She glared at them, though she seemed to barely recognise them at all. “They can sod off as well.”
Kevin was unfazed. “Do you think we could take a look at what you’re writing?”
Her hands clenched into fists. “Piss off, Kevin. I don’t have the time. I’ve got to get this down.”
“Just thirty seconds. You can take a breather for thirty seconds, can’t you? Close your eyes for a bit.” Without waiting for an answer, he slid the tablet out from under her balled hands and hopped away.
“You give that back!” she screamed, making a grab for him that caught thin air. “I’m going to kill you! I’m going to kill all of you!” Throwing off the blankets and sending the trolley careening off, she leapt out of bed and lunged at her brother, who hopped out of the way. As she swung and clawed, Will jumped forward to restrain her, grabbing her around the waist. As his arms closed around her, she began flailing at him, then her strength flagged and she fell limp. With David’s help, he laid her back down on the bed.
“She’s dead asleep,” Will explained to the rest of the room, his furrowed brow betraying his confusion.
Though Amy had watched it all in horror, Kevin seemed unsurprised. “That’s the way of it. She sees things that aren’t there, and she falls asleep at the drop of a hat. It’s all part and parcel. She’ll be back up and typing in an hour.” Inhaling deeply, he swallowed his concern for his sister and put on a mask of jaded boredom. Once Will was done making her comfortable, Kevin pulled the trolley back and placed the laptop on it so everyone could see it. The four of them peered at the screen.
‘That does look like a novel,” Will observed. “She’s on page three hundred and fifty-six.”
Amy reached for the touchscreen and began scrolling up. “It’s remarkably coherent, considering…” She looked over at Mary, who slumbered on.
“Rather well-written as well, from just this bit,” David remarked. “Wait, Amy, may I?” He pulled out his wire-frame glasses and slipped them on.
“Sure.” Amy stepped back as David snaked a long arm between them to take over the navigation. Tapping the menu bar to whisk to the top of the document, he began scrolling quickly down with rapid flicks of his finger, pages and pages of text streaming by in a blur. After about ten seconds, he straightened.
“This is the novel she talked about two years ago, when we first met. Remember, Will?”
His lips pressed in a thin line, Will shook his head.“Only that you two talked about it.”
“It’s about what would make a good person become a killer,” David explained.
Amy clicked her fingers, pointing at him. “I remember. Something about convincing yourself that killing the person would be a good thing, like killing a serial killer.”
David nodded. “That’s the one.”
Kevin stared at the tablet. “How could you tell that?”
Shrugging, David stepped back behind Will. “I just caught a few key words, really.”
“I’d no idea she’d actually started it,” Amy mused. She stepped forward and began paging through Mary’s work. “She’s always said she wanted to be a writer, but she’s never actually written anything.”
Will nodded. “Seems she’s started now.”
“Well.” Kevin rubbed his hands together, clasping them at the end in a plea. “Can I ask you all to come speak to the doctor with me? Maybe together we can convince him this is the same as…” He cleared his throat. “The same as what happened to Gareth.”
“Certainly,” said Will. “Anything we can do to help.”
“Thanks.” Kevin glanced back at his slumbering sister. “I don’t know how I’m going to break the news to Mum when she gets here tomorrow.”
“The doctors’ll figure it out,” soothed Amy. “You’ll see. She’ll be fine.”
Though he remained dubious, Kevin smiled. “Thanks.”