by Kathryn Andersen
Universe: Doctor Who, Torchwood
Summary: They hadn't checked to see if there were any side-effects. (AU. Set just after "A Day In The Death".) Written in 2008.
Spoilers: Torchwood - Reset, Dead Man Walking, A Day in the Death; Doctor Who - up to Voyage of the Damned
Characters: Martha Jones, Owen Harper, Jack Harkness, Tenth Doctor
Thanks to JB for encouragement, and Jinxed Wood and Branwyn for beta-reading, especially Branwyn, who didn't let me get away with fuzzy thinking.
Chapter 1: Face the Fear
Martha stepped quietly into the tourist information centre, and a puff of chill air entered with her. The sudden warmth in the small office did nothing to alleviate the pounding in her skull.
Ianto looked up. "Dr. Jones," he said, "I thought you'd already gone back to London."
"I forgot something," Martha said. "Is Owen in?"
Ianto's eyes widened. "Is there something wrong with Owen?" He was on his feet even as he spoke.
"No!" Martha said quickly. So much for trying to pretend everything was okay. "No, nothing wrong with Owen. I just need to... consult him about something."
"What are your symptoms?" Owen asked.
"Headache, nausea and vomiting... so far."
"You've come to me about a headache?" Owen said. "Take two aspirin and see me in the morning."
"I did," Martha said. "That's when I threw up."
Owen smirked. "Sure you're not pregnant?"
Martha whacked her hand on the bench, and the bottles rattled. "This is serious! What if there's a mayfly larva attached to my neocortex? Did you consider that?"
"They would have noticed in hospital," Owen said.
"They thought I was an eighty-year old suffering from dehydration. They wouldn't have noticed the noses in front of their faces."
"Good point." He was already readying the scanner.
"Hold still," Owen said. "You can look when the scan is finished. In fact... I'd really like a second opinion."
"What's wrong?" Martha said. She suppressed a shiver. The white tiles seemed cold and clinical, not just clean and efficient. It would be ironic if their roles were reversed; she on the slab, and Owen performing her autopsy.
"The good news is, you don't have a mayfly larva in your brain."
The worry knotting her heart loosed itself a little. She wasn't going to die. Maybe. "And the bad news?"
"It isn't bad news, exactly..."
"I don't know what sort of news it is. I've never seen anything like it."
"Then it's bad news," Martha said.
"See for yourself," Owen said. He gestured at the screen.
She stepped over and looked. "That can't be right... Neural density twice the norm, but no sign of a tumour..."
"Slightly high blood pressure, but that's normal, you're under stress. Body temperature on the low side, no obstructions in your arteries," Owen continued.
"But there's something, some sort of growth near my heart!"
"You haven't felt any chest pains?"
She put her hand over her heart. "Just a bit of an ache, I hardly noticed it."
"Something else weird here." Owen pointed to the image of her lungs. "Do those look like spiracles to you?"
"Spiracles? But that's what insects use to breathe - Oh god." She sat down and put her head in her shaking hands. "What if I'm turning into a mayfly?" She looked up at Owen and rolled her eyes. "I can't believe I just said that."
"You're not turning into a mayfly," Owen said. He patted her shoulder awkwardly.
Martha shook her head. "How do you know?"
"We can do a DNA comparison, okay?" Owen said.
"Right, yes, right," Martha said, clasping her hands together. "DNA, blood, tissue, the works." She stood up, ramrod straight. "But before you do that, you'd better put me in a cell."
"Before you start speaking alien tongues or transforming your body parts into stabbing knives?" Owen said. "But-"
"I once saw a man possessed by a living sun," she said. "He tracked down and killed his crewmates. If I'm turning into something, I don't want to take the chance that I'll turn on you, right?"
"I think you've just broken the Torchwood record for most sensible person of the year," he said with half a smile. "Not that there was much of a record to break."
With a request like that, Martha's private problem was very soon public. In the end, they didn't put her in a cell; instead, she was strapped into a chair. Ianto, gun in hand, had his "perfect butler" face on: impassive and expressionless. Owen took samples, processed them, and entered the results into the computer. Tosh sat at her desk, her computers a shield between her and the others. Gwen sat with Martha, her warm brown eyes never leaving Martha's face. Jack stood by, arms folded, radiating an almost perfect facade of stoic calm, but Martha could see the cracks in it.
Martha took deep, slow breaths and tried to ignore the grinding pain in her head. Her hands felt clammy; she recited to herself the physiological reasons that this was so. Closing her eyes made her more aware of every ache; opening them confronted her with the worried faces of those around her.
"Not mayfly!" Tosh chirped out with relief, but then she continued, in a more worried tone, "But not human either. I mean, hair and fingernails still have human DNA, but the rest doesn't match."
"Shit," Owen said, for all of them.
"What is it, then?" Jack asked. He didn't look at Martha.
"Running a comparison on other tissue samples we have catalogued," Tosh said. "It could take a while."
"This has to have happened in the last few days," Owen said.
"Why?" Jack asked.
"Because these changes are too obvious," Owen said. He held up a slide of Martha's blood. "Her blood's been turned into super-oxygenated tomato soup. Copley would have noticed. Heck, UNIT would have noticed!"
"I'll pull up her medical records," Tosh said.
"Copley did notice something," Martha said slowly. "He said that my lymphocytes were more efficient, that they'd mutated due to travelling in time. I knew he was wrong, but I was too busy trying to keep my cover to think about it, then."
"Your lymphocytes had mutated due to travelling in time?" Owen said. "That's a new one. I've examined enough people who've come through the rift, and I've never seen anything like that."
"No, time travel doesn't do that," Jack said.
"Yeah, well, the Time Agent would know that, wouldn't he?" Owen returned.
"Yes, he would," Jack answered evenly.
"UNIT noticed something too," Tosh said. "Anomalies in Martha's lymphocytes and T-cells, but otherwise her blood was completely normal."
"Yeah, well this blood is nothing but an anomaly," Owen said. "And not just the lymphocytes. These changes... they couldn't have happened before Copley examined her. I don't know how it happened, but the most likely explanation is that the double dose of Reset, that Copley shot her full of, triggered it."
"But Reset is supposed to set you back to your factory defaults," Gwen said. "Why would it turn Martha into an alien?"
"It must have thought her factory defaults were alien," Ianto said.
"Oh no," Martha breathed, her heart sinking. "T-cells and lymphocytes? What would be the first thing that the Reset would come in contact with?"
Owen slapped his forehead. "Your immune system. Wait - you have an alien immune system?"
Martha locked eyes with Jack. "It was him. It must have been."
Jack took her hand. "What did he do?"
"Immune system boost," she answered. "It was supposed to be temporary. We'd just visited... a place... most of the people had been wiped out by a plague. We didn't catch it, but... he gave my immune system a boost, just in case. I didn't want to become the next Typhoid Mary, so I agreed. It was supposed to wear off in a couple of months."
"But it obviously didn't," Jack said.
"I have a match!" Tosh called out. She frowned. "Match with an... unknown alien... hand?"
Jack glared at Owen. "You didn't!"
"You were so obsessed with that hand," Owen said. "D'you think I wasn't going to take a sample?"
"That hand?" Martha asked, not sure whether to laugh or cry.
"Yes, that hand," Jack said. "Gwen, help me get her out of this, she's not going to go feral on us."
"And you know this because...?" Ianto asked. His gun was still in his hand.
"Granted, I've only ever met two members of this species," Jack said, "and one of them was an insane megalomaniac, but the other... he's saved this planet more times than you've had hot dinners."
"So, she has a fifty-fifty chance of being an insane megalomaniac, does she?" Owen said. "Hey, that's no worse than your average politician."
Jack turned to Martha. "You aren't being haunted by a persistent drumbeat, are you?"
Martha gave a strained laugh. "No. Just a headache to beat all headaches."
"I dunno, I've had a few doozies myself," Jack returned with a smile. He looked at the others. "She's fine."