Rating: PG (for slight angst and nausea)
Characters/pairings: Amy, Martha, Mickey, Eleven (Martha/Mickey, slightly Amy/Eleven)
Summary: It was always London. This creature had no imagination.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Doctor Who.
A/N: This particular monster feels like a cliché, but yeah… I think it works. ;)
Was this London still? And was it her time, or earlier, later? As long as it wasn’t holographic again…
So many Londons –
Londinium. New New New London. The City Formerly Known as London. L0nd0n.
It was always London. This creature had no imagination.
Amy had stumbled around; across; through so many versions looking for one particular monster that she could barely tell them apart anymore, and she had almost stopped caring.
This time the TARDIS had materialised in the middle of a totally nondescript street, and the Doctor had dashed off in one direction and Amy had gone in the other because she’d had a hunch… and the thing had popped up and sprayed her. Again. That was what you got for hunches.
The green slime had hit her across the back and one side and smelled really very bad and kind of made her woozy and she really hoped she was just imagining that it was burning its way through the leather of her jacket.
She moved through a dark alley – coarse stone scratched at her fingertips and cobblestones caught at her toes and when she looked up from her staggering feet, her splattered shoes, she had come across a pub. The smell of fried food wafted through the air intermittently, and Amy had to stop to swallow against her vomiting reflex.
She would carry on when she’d had a breather; just a few inhalations, equally many exhalations, and then it was time to move along, just like the Doctor had said. Anyone who saw her stumble past would just think she was pissed (and covered with lime green vomit). She had long since made peace with the fact that she wasn’t going to get the jacket off; her arms felt so heavy, she could never lift them high enough, and her spine felt as cooperative as a steel rod… Why did these things always happen to her?
“Hey!” A gentle hand touched her slime-free arm. “How are you?”
Amy’s line of vision was blurry and sparkled at the edges, but she could see the woman’s face well enough. Kind eyes, Amy thought, detachedly. “I’m fine!” she said, and the words sounded fake even to her own ringing ears.
“You’re swaying on the spot,” commented a man, appearing by the woman’s side.
“Or you are,” Amy retorted acidly – or, that was what she had intended; out loud is sounded like a textbook drunken slur.
The man laughed politely and placed himself next to her other arm; he let his hand hover beside it, since the only clean spot of leather was taken.
The woman steered her toward a bench. It was next to a bin and beneath a wall-mounted lamp producing a very bright light, but out of the immediate stream of pub-goers. Not that there was any stream to talk of; presently they were alone outside. Amy sank down heavily, cowering in the harsh light. Her shoulders and back tingled and itched all over.
“Are you hurt?” The woman’s fingers rested lightly on Amy’s wrist for a moment.
Amy shook her head violently, causing it to throb so hard she thought they had to be able to see it.
“Were you… attacked?”
Why yes, she could have said, a shaggy unimaginative slime-spouting monster jumped out from behind a corner and sppppshshhhhzzzz – but that would hardly improve the situation.
“Did you see it?” the man asked.
This seemed a weird question somehow, but Amy couldn’t be bothered to analyse it. She shook her head again, but minutely, because it was easiest.
“I’m Martha and this is Mickey,” said the woman. “What’s your name?”
Amy would have liked to answer, but her tongue felt about three times its usual size, and opening her mouth would be so much work, and then utilising her vocal cords… Just no.
“I’m going to take your jacket off, okay?”
Amy nodded as temperately as she could manage. They peeled back her jacket and she was able to pull her own arms out, even if it felt like moving through treacle.
The woman – Martha – draped the jacket carefully over the back of the bench, as far away from Amy as possible. The light made the coagulating slime glitter, and Amy had to swallow hard again.
“What’s your name?” asked the man, and tried to catch her gaze. He had a very neat beard, and tiny crow’s feet. “What happened?”
Amy slumped back; she was just too tired to respond. The evening air felt like a balm through the thin fabric of her shirt, and she just wanted to sit here and enjoy it. She could fall asleep, if her eyes would close properly…
Martha dug around in her purse for a moment, and came up with a tiny notebook. “Do you think you could write your name?” She placed the notebook and a pen – glossy red like Amy’s nails – next to Amy’s hand on the bench.
“Yeah, try to write,” said the man, quite urgently, “We just need a moment to… discuss something.”
“We’ll only be over there,” said Martha, not indicating any particular direction, and raising a brow at the man.
“Don’t wander back into that alley!” the man prompted, shaking a finger at Amy. And then, to Martha, “Let’s talk…” And he pulled her to the side, a fair distance from the bench, deep into the shadows opposite the pub; they stopped outside a little closed shop of some kind.
It wasn’t far enough; Amy could still hear. Through a buzzing and a ringing, to be fair, but she could get the gist. She’d had a lot of practice straining her ears at keyholes, listening in on her aunt and the psychiatrist of the week.
“Do we call UNIT?” the man asked, not as quietly as he could have.
A unit? Amy thought sluggishly. There weren’t any police, or what? Definitely not proper London, as she knew it.
“Or the hospital?” Martha finished.
They had gone to her right; the alley she had come from was to her left – it would be so easy to just sneak off, try to find the TARDIS… but she was absolutely knackered. She’d just rest for another minute…
“If Jack weren’t –”
“Yeah… but – Mickey, he is.”
If they looked up they would catch her staring -- Amy reached for the notebook; it was a handy decoy, eavesdropping-wise. She flipped it open as nimbly as she could. It was new, unused, every page blank. She reached for the pen next, clicked the tip out clumsily, and put it to the paper with trepidation. Starbursts exploded before her eyes whenever she looked at the page, white on white, and her hand felt heavy as a rock and flighty as a helium balloon at the same time. Amy, she scrawled, slowly, and decided it was actually readable. She painstakingly added Pond.
Her vision was going to fade to black soon, she could feel it; and yet during these last moments before that inevitable conclusion, it was somehow heightened. She could see the couple clearly in the half-light.
“Or should we…? I’ve seen you take care of far worse,” said Mickey. Then he reached out and tucked a wayward strand of Martha’s hair behind her ear, absentmindedly; like that, too, was simply part of the conversation.
“When I had no choice.” She pushed his hand away gently, but her voice was firm.
Amy doodled; it would help her to stay conscious. She hoped. Below her name she drew a many-pointed star. A wonky heart. A police box.
“Should we evacuate? If whatever it is uses scent to…”
“Yeah. And someone will have to search for whatever is out there.”
“So… UNIT, then.”
Amy coloured the police box. Thick, sharp lines of dark blue ink; a rushed job. But it was blue.
Something touched her arm. She flinched; twisted left and focused with a monumental effort – and then she relaxed, because it was the Doctor. Darkness started to curl in from the edges of her line of vision, threatening to engulf him.
He hunched over by her feet, hand deep in a pocket. He was liberally speckled with green gunk, too. “Here,” he murmured, reached up, and pushed a tiny something between her lips. “Bite it.”
Amy did, when she had managed to convince her teeth to first part and then reconnect. She very nearly choked. It was a peppercorn. Of high quality. It was a kick, though. She felt more awake, more aware, more herself instantly.
The Doctor rose, pulled her to him and pressed his lips to her temple.
“Did you catch it?” she murmured, hoarsely, and pressed her face into his jacket.
“Not even close. I almost-” He pulled back, recoiled, and all but leaped into the shadows just out of the reach of the light that flooded the bench.
A fraction of a second later Mickey looked up. Amy jerked her chin at him by way of acknowledgement (and her head throbbed only a little). She could sit on the edge of the bench and lean forward awkwardly if she wanted to.
Apparently satisfied, he turned his full attention back to Martha, who stared intently at the screen of her mobile.
The Doctor popped up again, his face scrunched up in a way new to Amy.
“Why did you…” Amy trailed off.
He stared at the couple with a kind of rapt fascination. Emotions flickered across his face ceaselessly, but they were hard to discern. There was doubt, and indecision, and – was that longing? And then there was a twitch of the eyelid Amy hadn’t seen since the Dream Lord…
The couple huddled together over the phone, mumbling, their arms around one another.
“Did you talk to them?” the Doctor asked, in an oddly strained voice.
“They helped me! I’ll introduce you-”
“No! Wait…” He raised a hand as if to wave to the pair… and faltered. He brought it to hover near his face instead; but it only hovered. “We’ll come back in a minute. Thirty seconds. Twenty. When we’re rested… and proper. When we’re ready. I’ll come back.”
There was a distant echo of a shrill snarl Amy had learned to associate with triumphant escapes for the monster. She rose stiffly; the notebook slid out of her hand, still open.
“Later. Later is better,” the Doctor mumbled. “This creature goes first.” He reached into a pocket and withdrew something that looked roughly like a business card. He hesitated enormously before he put it down; his fingers trembled slightly when he finally let go of it. He’d placed it on the bench, next to the open notebook. He looked between her doodles and the card, and might have been close to smiling.
“What does that say? ‘The Doctor, Doctor’?” Amy scoffed; swayed, and steadied herself with a hand on his shoulder.
“What do yours say? ‘Amelia Pond, Kissogram’?”
“No. They say ‘Amy’.”
“Amy… Let’s move.” The Doctor wrapped his least slimy arm around her shoulders and pulled her deeper into the shadows, heading for the alleyway. “Oh, and your jacket will end up in an archive somewhere. We can get it back later. I want to let some people have some fun with it first.”
“All right…” said Amy, deciding to let that pass.
It really was horrible just leaving that nice couple like this, but as Amy’s wits returned to her, she realised they wouldn’t understand. They were normal people who went to the pub and helped girls covered in slime stumbling about because they were nice. They wouldn’t understand this.
The Doctor used his free hand to pull out his screwdriver and fiddle with it. They would be completely swallowed by darkness and stone in a mere moment, and Amy had to take the last chance to look back before it was too late. She glanced over her shoulder -- and just as she did Martha looked up. Amy realised she had to be fairly visible to the other woman, outlined by the faint green glow of the sonic.
Their eyes locked, across the distance and through the shadows, and Amy smiled and pointed vaguely to the bench. Martha frowned, disentangled herself from Mickey’s arm and headed towards it.
Amy and the Doctor turned into the alley.