Fandom(s): Doctor Who
Characters: Martha Jones, John Smith, Fourth Doctor, Leela
Word Count: 3489
Summary: Martha travels into Norwich to find the man who Mr. Smith met in both his dreams and reality.
I wrote the first part of this as a one-shot standalone, without the intention of incorporating it into A Teacher and a Housemaid, because I didn't think I could fit it into the narrative of the short story collection. I got a few requests to write a sequel, to see how the presence of the Doctor affected Martha and John, so I wrote this, and realized that it fit pretty well. So, now the two stories are part of the sequence.
A Fragment of the Timestream, part 1
As she stepped from the carriage, Martha glanced up at the bleak October sky, expecting heavy drops to come splatting down any moment. Pulling her coat closer around herself, she called a thank-you to the driver and was not surprised to receive no reply; he had already shown his disdain for the dark-skinned servant when he collected her fare at the beginning of the trip and left her to open her own door and climb in herself. Looking around, she started walking in the direction she thought was the center of town, keeping tabs on the location of the post so that she could get back here in time to hire the carriage back to Farringham.
Yesterday, Mr. Smith had mentioned that during his excursion into Norwich, he had met a man that not only looked like someone from his dreams, but looked like a person he had been in his dreams. Though the schoolteacher had been disturbed by the encounter, he had no real reason to believe that it was more than just a coincidence, and Martha had encouraged him to ignore it, not worry about it. But she knew better. The dreams he'd been having were real memories of the life he had hidden away and forgotten about, and if someone from that life was walking about town, he could be a threat. He could blow Mr. Smith's cover, or he could attract the Family to the area, or worse yet, he could be one of the Family.
Thus, Martha had traded days off with Jenny and dressed so that she didn't look like a maid and wasn't easily associated with the school. From Emily, she'd borrowed a hat with one of those black veils she could pull down around her face, in case she'd needed to conceal her identity. Then she had caught the post to Norwich, to search for this mystery man. She knew what he looked liked from his drawing in Mr. Smith's journal - a man with a wide face and a mass of dark curls - and Mr. Smith had once mentioned that he was tall and wore a long, multicolored scarf. Hopefully that would be enough to go on.
What she didn't understand was how this man fit into Mr. Smith's dreams or his real life. He always dreamed that he was the Doctor, but sometimes when he dreamed he was the Doctor, he was this man, someone completely different. Of course Mr. Smith really was the Doctor, and had always referred to himself as "the Doctor" as if it was his name, but the existence of this other Doctor, whether dream or real, made it sound more like a title that the mystery man bore as well. Where did they get this title? Was it a Time Lord thing? Does that make this man another Time Lord? The Doctor would certainly want to know if there was another Time Lord existent in the universe, as he believed he was the only one left. But if this man was a Time Lord, would the Family be attracted here by him? She resisted the urge to groan in frustration as she walked. The Doctor never told her everything she needed to know.
Though she knew it was a long shot that she would encounter the man in the city (as she was convinced that even if he wasn't an alien, he was some type of advanced human and probably had already left the area and the time zone), she became increasingly disheartened as she walked the streets for one, then two, then three hours. She kept her eyes on the people she passed and peered into shop windows, and houses when it wasn't too difficult to see, looking for anyone unusual, but she saw nothing out of the ordinary. She stopped for a quick lunch, first because she was famished and second because it gave her a little time to reconsider her search strategy. Strolling among the most populated commercial districts of Norwich hadn't produced any results, so maybe it was time to walk among the dirtier industrial parts of the city, or the residential areas.
It took Martha a bit more time to get used to the factory district. Its narrower streets and similar, undecorated buildings made it more difficult for her to tell where she was, and she spent more time memorising street names and directions than she had before. Though Norwich wasn't a major industrial city, there were a few factories belching black clouds from their smokestacks, giving everything a gray pallor beyond that of the overcast day. Martha lowered her veil, feeling very exposed. Though the streets were busy with lorries and carriages ferrying cargo and businessmen, pedestrians were limited to workers, none of which were female. She suspected that the women were inside the factories, on the assembly lines.
Thus, the sight of a lone female rushing from a factory across the street into a warehouse piqued her interest. She was coatless, and the style of her deep blue dress indicated that she wasn't a worker; perhaps an owner's wife or daughter. However, what really caught Martha's eye was the woman's movements. As she ran, she had hiked her skirts up far higher than was necessary to keep her from tripping over her hem: Martha caught a flash of her knees. More than that, though: she was athletic, her body graceful and powerful. She was so out-of-place for 1913 that Martha had to investigate. Once the woman had disappeared into the building, the maid crossed the street, walking slowly to not attract attention, and slipped into the same warehouse door.
She found herself in a small office, bare of ornamentation and its wooden furniture stacked with papers and record books. The door into the main part of the warehouse stood open, and Martha could hear indistinct voices emanating from deep within the building. Pausing for a bit to let her eyes adjust to the diminished light, she crept to it to look and listen.
The door opened onto a short flight of stairs that led down to the warehouse floor. Most of the warehouse consisted of many aisles of massive shelving, stacked with crates and containers, but the center, the only part with adequate lighting, was clear. Beneath the main electric lamp that depended from the ceiling was the man who was unmistakably Martha's quarry, very tall with dark curly hair and a wide face, wearing a long tweed coat, a floppy felt hat, and a striped scarf that trailed the ground even though it was draped twice about his neck. Behind him was a man holding a gun pointing at his back. Opposite him, a young man with closely cropped blond hair and a handsome narrow face leaned against a stack of pallets. Dressed in an expensive, immaculate suit, he regarded the tall man with a sneering smile.
"And that's what this is all about?" asked the man in the scarf, his clear, strident voice echoing. "A get-rich-quick scheme of bringing future technology to humans a hundred years early? I must say, Carter, that's rather disappointing. I had hoped that you had some ambition. Take over the world, build a spaceship to invade other planets, corner the market on pomegranates, that kind of thing.”
“It’s hardly a quick scheme. I’ll have to slowly release things, so it doesn’t look too suspicious, and it will take quite a bit of time and work. Can’t have a 1913 schoolboy carrying an iPod around, now can we? 1933, maybe.” Carter shrugged, clearly not considering his captive any threat. “It’s insurance, you see. Humans get to evolve just a tiny bit faster, while my family, my future family, gets to live comfortably and well. That’s all I’m after. Win-win, I’d say.”
“It always appears as win-win to the person doing the winning. I can’t allow this, you know.”
Martha grinned. This Doctor sounded exactly like her Doctor, perfectly confident in his ability to stop any threat.
“And who the bloody hell are you to make that decision?” Carter shrugged. “Not like you can stop me.” He glanced at the man with the gun. “Goss, take care of him.” He jerked his head at the Doctor.
A blur of blue dashed out from the shelves behind Goss and tackled him, and a shot rang out. Both the Doctor and Carter watched as the woman in blue wrestled the man to the ground, then knocked him hard in the face. His gun clattered on the cement floor. The Doctor called out, “Leela, that's quite enough. He’s unconscious. Let him be.”
Kneeling over the man, the woman named Leela pulled her dress up and unsheathed the knife in the scabbard attached to her leg. She glared at Carter. “Your plans cannot be allowed to proceed. I shall stop you.”
"Put the knife away, Leela. There's no need for that." As the Doctor turned back towards Carter, Leela rose to her feet, her knife still in her hand. "It's over, Carter. Time to give it up and return to your own time."
"Oh, I don't think so." He pushed his sleeve back to reveal a device on his arm like a very large wristwatch mounted on a thick leather band. "I'll just set up shop sometime else. You might be able to find me, but next time, I'll make sure you can't interfere."
He began pressing buttons on the device. Before Martha could even think of what she could do to help, Leela sprang toward him, her knife raised, but the Doctor pulled her back. "No, no violence. Let him go."
Martha burst through the door and, holding her hands in front of her like she had a gun, screamed, "Don't move or I'll shoot!" Carter whirled on her while Leela ducked and rolled behind some shelving, but the Doctor dashed to Carter and punched about four buttons on his device at once. As he stepped back from the blond man, Carter gasped with a panicked look on his face. Blue energy coruscated over his body and he disappeared.
"Splendid!" the Doctor cried before turning to Martha. "And who are you?" Martha saw Leela creeping around the shelving to get a tactical advantage on her, but the Doctor noticed her as well. "Leela. Behave now. Let’s greet our new acquaintance peacefully."
The maid straightened, holding her hands up. "I don't really have a gun. I just wanted to distract him for you."
The Doctor bowed. "I thank you for the diversion. It was just what I needed."
Martha pointed at the spot Carter had been standing in a moment before. "But he got away."
"Oh, no. Quite the opposite, in fact.” The Doctor paced around the spot, investigating the lack of a man standing there. “I really only had time to hit the emergency shutdown function on the vortex manipulator. However, the first thing it does at shutdown is warp back to headquarters.” He stopped and held his arms wide, grinning in triumph. “A man with a shut-down stolen manipulator sitting in the middle of the Time Agency headquarters. I doubt he'll be able to talk his way out of that one." He glanced at the warrior woman. "You see, Leela, she is not an enemy."
"No, I'm not,” Martha hastened to confirm. “I'm looking for you."
"Are you now?” The Doctor seemed amused. “Are you quite sure?"
Martha straightened, holding her head high. "Oh, I'm sure, Doctor."
The Doctor eyed her with interest. "How did you find me?”
She shrugged. “I walked around town for a bit. Then I thought, look for trouble.”
“That was a wise plan,” complimented Leela. “The Doctor is skilled at finding conflict.”
The Doctor flashed another toothy grin. “Well, you seem to have found me. Why don’t you come down here, where I can see you properly?”
Martha trotted down the stairs and walked up to the Doctor, while Leela emerged from her shadow. She still held the knife in her hand, but down at her side, not at the ready.
“Ah, there.” The Doctor nodded at the maid. “I am the Doctor, and this is Leela. And you are?”
“I can’t say. It’s really best if I don’t identify myself. Or take this off.” She tugged at the veil over her face.
“You will identify yourself when the Doctor asks,” Leela cut in, taking a step toward Martha.
“It’s all right, Leela. I have a feeling she has a very good reason for concealing her identity.” He reached in his pocket and pulled out a white paper bag, which he opened and held out. “Would you like a jelly baby?”
“Uh, sure. Thanks.” She picked a random one out and popped it in her mouth.
“Well. What can I do for you?” He offered a sweet to Leela, who declined, then selected one for himself.
“I’ve come to ask you, are you a Time Lord?”
“Yes, in fact, I am.” He dropped the bag of of jelly babies into his pocket.
Martha squared her shoulders with confidence before continuing. “Then, well, I know this sounds really presumptuous, but I need to ask you to leave this area and time zone.”
“Why do you need us to leave?”
Martha shook her head. “I can’t say.”
“Come now. You can’t expect us to leave just on your recommendation alone.”
Martha sighed. “Look, it’s really for your own safety. There are some aliens that are hunting Time Lords. I don’t know why and I don’t know how, but they can find you, and we really don’t want them coming here.”
“If you are being hunted,” Leela stated, “it would be wise to set up a defensive perimeter. Perhaps it would be best if the Doctor were to join you, to lure your enemy to one prepared spot, so that a counterattack will be focused and effective.”
The Doctor placed a hand on his companion’s shoulder. “Leela, aliens who can track a Time Lord would likely have technology to lay waste to this entire countryside. Our friend is trying to avoid them even coming here.”
Martha nodded. "That's why I'm wearing this veil. I can't take the chance of the aliens seeing me and being able to identify me, and trace me back to where we’re hiding."
"Quite right.” The Doctor gazed at Martha, thumbing his chin. “From your manner, I can tell that you're not from this time zone. Perhaps a hundred years from now, I'd say. Am I correct?"
The maid was impressed. "Almost spot on."
"How did you get here, then? Are you travelling with me?"
Martha frowned at the odd question. How could she be travelling with someone she just met? "What? Is that an invitation? I'm already travelling with a Doctor."
"Yes, of course you are. I already figured that... Oh.” The Doctor paused a moment, comprehension dawning on his face. “Oh, I see. You're travelling with your Doctor. I understand."
Martha could tell she was missing something, but she had no idea what, so she returned to her objective. "And he's very afraid of these aliens. You really do need to leave this place. It's dangerous."
"Yes, I see. We really should.” The Doctor whirled and began inspecting the items on the shelves around them. “We've just a bit here to clean up, get the future tech removed and all that, and then we'll be gone.''
“Is there anything I can do to help?”
“No, this won’t take too long. Carter hadn’t gotten really set up yet.” He spun towards Martha again. “You should head back home.”
Martha smiled with relief. "Thank you very much. I'm so glad you understand."
"I do. And please,” he stepped forward and offered his hand, “relay to your Doctor my warmest regards."
Martha shook the Doctor’s hand. "Are you the only other Doctor? Would he know who they're from?"
"Oh, there are others, yes, but he'll be able to figure it out, I'm sure."
“All right.” She stepped back. “Okay. I should go. Nice to meet you, Leela.”
Leela glanced at the Doctor, then replied with some awkwardness, “It was ‘nice’ to meet you, too, mystery woman.”
Martha bobbed a curtsey out of recent habit and retreated out the door she entered through.
“I think it’s time I took you to a more technologically advanced time, Leela. You need to see that technology is not a bad thing. It’s not at all what the Tesh made it out to be to the Sevateem.” The Doctor began inputting coordinates into the TARDIS console.
“The mystery woman. You said that she came from nearly one hundred years in the future of this time. Can you take me there?”
The Doctor turned to Leela, smiling. “I am impressed! You’re showing more interest in learning about your past. That sounds like as good a destination as any. Let’s see how Norwich has changed. Norwich, 2013.” He continued working to send the TARDIS into flight.
“Doctor? What do you think they are, that are hunting Time Lords? There must be some way to fight them.” As a reflex, she grabbed at her skirt to reassure herself that her dagger was there.
“I’m sure there is, Leela, but whatever they are, the other Doctor chose not to do so. There must be a good reason for that.”
“Who is this other Doctor? Are there many Doctors?”
He turned away from Leela, fixing his gaze on the monitor. “At least five of us, yes.”
“I should like to meet them.”
“It’s best we don’t. There are rules…” He turned back to her and smiled, all teeth. “Don’t worry yourself about them, Leela.”
“I am not worried. I am curious.”
He placed a hand on her shoulder. “Perhaps you will meet them someday. For now, it’s time to change into some clothing appropriate for the twenty-first century. You’ll find them a lot more practical, though you won’t be able to carry your weapon.”
“I shall find a way to wear my knife, Doctor.”
“I’m sure you will.”
When the voice in the room called, “Come in!” Martha nudged the door open, carrying a small basket filled with fruit. Mr. Smith was sitting in an armchair, reading, and as she entered his study, she curtsied to him.
“Good evening, sir. The kitchen received some crates of apples and grapes today, and I thought you might like some.” She brought the basket to him, offering him its contents.
“Oh, excellent!” He leaned forward and chose an apple, then took a bite. “Delicious! Thank you, Martha.” As she turned to deposit the basket on his desk, he continued speaking. “I thought you had taken the day off?”
The maid moved on to his bed and began turning it down. “I returned early, sir, so I thought I would finish out the day.”
“You should be out enjoying your leisure. I can endure without you for one night, you know.” Mr. Smith winked at her.
Martha ducked her head, embarrassed. “Jenny was so nice to take my shift today, sir. I wanted to come back and let her have the rest of the day.” Finished with the bed, she started tidying his desk.
“You’re very kind, Martha. I hope you enjoyed your holiday.”
“I did, sir. I travelled into town, to take care of some things. Got it all done, too, sir. Made me feel quite a bit better, it did.” She set the last sheaf of papers in the center of the desk and tapped it with a flair of satisfaction.
Mr. Smith smiled. “That’s good to hear. It’s always a wonderful feeling, accomplishing something important.”
“That it is, sir. Did you want a warming pan tonight, sir?” she asked as she checked the fire, which was adequately built up.
He shook his head. “Oh, it’s not that cold yet. Not for another month, I’d say.”
“Very good, sir. Will that be all?” Turning to face him, she gazed at him as she awaited his reply. Comfortable in his chair with his book, he seemed secure and content.
“Yes. Thank you, Martha. Have a good night.” As she curtsied and turned towards the door, he returned to his reading.
“Sweet dreams, sir.” Taking one last look at the schoolteacher, Martha withdrew from his apartments and closed the door.