"Hand me the blue ones!"
"Which ones are the blue ones?"
The Doctor briefly squeezed his eyes shut in frustration; then he gestured at Martha to come over. "Hold this for me, will you."
Her slender fingers found their way through the panels and cables, and she grabbed hold of the three wires the Doctor had been holding pinched between his fingertips. "Got it!" she said.
The Doctor pulled back, which was easier said than done in the confined space beneath the spaceship's navigation console, and as soon as he was free, he hurried over to his toolbox. "The blue one," he muttered and began digging through the compartments. "Where did I put it? You know what the problem is with Time Lord equipment?" he called over to Martha who was squatting in front of the console in a position that could only be described as extremely uncomfortable.
"That they rely on color coding?" she asked, and there was a tetchy edge to her tone that heralded several days of sulking and some demand of compensation. The Doctor decided to ignore it for now.
"No. It's bigger on the inside, which means I can never find my things when I need them." He pushed aside a set of unshielded Roentgen emitters, and caught a glimpse of a curved handle underneath. "A-ha!"
"You found it?"
"Yes!" The Doctor held up the small wire clippers and frowned. "I think so."
"They're clippers! Just use them, it doesn't matter whether they're green or blue or pink!"
Oh, yes. Lots of compensation. The Doctor considered briefly whether the Eye of Orion would be enough, but then returned his concentration to what he was doing. "We need the blue ones," he said. "But I think I've got the right ones. The handles of the other ones are chipped." He jumped to his feet and quickly returned to Martha's side. "Well, then, let's see," he said and grinned at her. "Move over a bit, will you?"
Martha glared at him but complied, wriggling out of the way as far as she could without letting go of the wires. "How much time left?" she asked, and the Doctor squinted at the display.
"Oh," he said.
He felt Martha tense beside him. "What is it, Doctor?"
"Ah, nothing, really," he said and quickly slid his hand into the gap in the panels to take the wires from her. "Nothing of importance. You can let go now, thank you."
Martha pulled her hand back and scrambled to her knees. "Doctor, what is it?"
"Nothing, really -- it seems like I mistook minutes for hours on the countdown, but we still have more than enough time -"
"You did what?!"
The Doctor briefly closed his eyes. "Small mistake on my part, happens all the time. Who builds a timer without hour digits, anyway? In any case, we still have two minutes until -"
"Until the whole ship blows! That's a bomb you're working on, in case you'd forgotten!" There was a certain panicky note to Martha's tone, and the Doctor frowned. They didn't have time for this.
"Martha, don't panic. I'm almost done. Trust me."
"Do I have a choice?" The answer was muttered, but the Doctor's ears picked it up anyway. He didn't answer, though, concentrating his attention on the three wires before him.
Red, green and blue. Blue clippers go with the blue wire.
"Oh, this is not good," he muttered. He took the clippers between his teeth and used both hands to line up the three wires. Red, green and blue. If he cut the wrong one, Martha and he would be blown up along with the abandoned spaceship and half the planet below, and this universe's phenotypic equilibrium would stay out of balance, which was actually even worse. The Doctor winced at the thought.
"Mar-a!" he tried to say past the clippers. "'itch one's 'lue, y'ink?"
There was some commotion, and he felt a poke in his side; then Martha was next to him and took the clippers from him. "I don't know!" she said and squinted up at the three wires as well. "The one in the middle?"
"You think?" The Doctor wished he could reach his glasses. "I thought maybe the one on the right?"
"Does it matter? If we discuss this much longer, it won't matter what color the wires are!"
"True enough." From the corner of his eye, the Doctor could see the timer which was halfway through the last minute. A surge of adrenaline ran through him. "Right!" He let go of two of the wires and pulled the middle one taut. "Cut it, then!"
Martha hesitated. "What if it's the wrong one?"
The counter reached the fifteen-seconds mark. The Doctor shook his head. "You said yourself, it doesn't matter. Just cut it!"
Martha took the wire between the clipper's tongs and squeezed her eyes shut. The Doctor felt his hearts skip two beats. "Cut it!"
Martha pressed down on the handle, the clippers came together, and the Doctor ducked his head, waiting for the inevitable explosion.
It didn't come, though. When a couple of seconds later they were still sitting in the cramped space underneath the console, the Doctor slowly opened his eyes and raised his head to look at Martha who was beaming at him, her face incredulous.
"We did it!" she said.
The Doctor threw a glance at the timer that had stopped at three seconds to zero. "We did!" He laughed and reached out to hug Martha, which in the small space they were in ended in both of them falling over and getting tangled in the cables.
"Oi, watch it," Martha laughed as they picked themselves up again. "Wouldn't want to set off the bomb after all, would we."
"No." The Doctor shook his head somberly and crawled out from under the console. "We wouldn't want that."
He stretched and spun around to Martha who had clambered out as well. "Right! Bomb's defused, bad guy's disarmed, now all we need to do is give this world its colors back!"
Martha grinned. "Lead the way!" She gestured for him to go on. "Seriously, black and white television is bad enough, but living in a colorless universe? No thanks."
"Well, all we need to do is return the saturation settings back to normal and broadcast them on a universal subspace frequency. Piece of cake!" The Doctor grinned and looked down at himself. "Although I do have to say, this suit in black and white, it does have a certain flair to it. Doesn't it?"