I.Two hearts/Respiratory bypass
“Oh come on. It’s not like you didn’t know about this beforehand. In fact, as I recall, it was the first thing you told me when I woke in the medbay.”
“Nonetheless Captain, we have to check. Who knows what could have happened since your last test? We still have no idea what the Artron energy-”
“-we’re still not calling it that.”
“-is doing to you.”
“In any case, we still need to get a baseline. A full physical, so that we know when you’re ill and when you’re just being a freaky alien.”
“Thank you for that Dr Palmer,” Rip said cuttingly, only slightly disturbed by the curious gleam in Ray’s eyes. It was possible that he had underestimated Ray’s fascination with Doctor Who. By several orders of magnitude.
Not that Martin was any better, brandishing his stethoscope like a weapon despite not, as he frequently lamented, being ‘that kind of doctor’.
“Astonishing,” he kept muttering as he looked over the scans, “Absolutely astonishing.”
Leaning in the corner, Sara as Gideon’s designated ‘medical proxy’ (or rather chief nursemaid, although Rip was careful never to use that term in her hearing) oversaw the proceedings with a not inconsiderable amount of laughter and schadenfreude.
“Professor Stein,” Rip said, eyes locked on Sara and her little smirk, “Don’t you think that we should have more routine physicals for all the crew? After all, none of us are exactly baseline human. And honestly 21stcentury medicine isn’t the most reliable.”
“What a wonderful idea!” Martin said, not noticing, or more likely ignoring, the undercurrents in the room.
Sara raised an eyebrow.
“You want to force Mick Rory into frequent medical physicals?”
“Ah,” said Rip, wincing slightly as he pictured it, “Well, I thought that perhaps as our new ersatz medical officer you might-”
Sara smiled sweetly.
“No,” she said, “If you want to institute physicals, then I’m afraid you’re on your own. Captain.”
“Why do people keep punching me?”
“Must be your charming personality,” Mick grunted, dodging another fist.
Rip scowled, wiping his bloodied nose pointedly.
“I wasn’t the one who single-handedly started a bar fight. In Japan! How the hell did you manage to start a bar fight here?”
Mick shrugged, dodging another blow with ease and hitting the unfortunate assailant in the groin with the butt of his gun.
“Talent,” he said.
Rip hissed angrily.
“Americans,” he muttered, grabbing a nearby stool and knocking another man out. Such a pity. He’d never be able to come to this karaoke bar again, and it was his favourite.
He glanced down at his hand and froze. It was speckled in dried and drying blood, but that was to be expected. No, the thing that distracted him enough for another patron of the bar to get a solid gut-punch in, was the fact that it was orange. Burnt orange.
“Bollocks,” he said, imagining the hours of testing Gideon was going to insist on now that they’d found another physical mutation. Maybe she’d accept that it was one of those ineffable things that needed no explanation?
And maybe they’d go through one mission without nearly shattering all of time.
Rip sighed to himself and threw himself back into the fight with more vigour. This might be his last bar fight in a while: might as well enjoy it.
“For the last time Jax! Just because my favourite sweets are jelly beans, doesn’t mean I’m actually the Doctor, so can you please, for the love of god, stop introducing me to all and sundry as ‘the Doctor’. Especially from 1963 onward! And as a matter of fact, the Doctor had jelly babies, which I assure you are entirely different so there’s no logical link to be made either way.”
Rip paused. Scowled.
“And I hate that I know that fact,” he said.
Jax looked unrepentant as always. And really, when had Rip lost the respect of every single Legend? ...admittedly, probably about 3 minutes after he had met them. Still. He could at least pretend not to find this the most amusing thing since Ray broke the fabricator. The first time that was, when it would only produce pickled herring, not the time that it exploded. Or the time it wouldn’t serve warm food. Or the time that it worked perfectly well, save for the fact everything that came out of it was covered in glitter. Come to think of it, perhaps Ray shouldn’t be left near the fabricator at all, and especially not unsupervised.
“Come on, it’s just a bit of fun,” Jax said, and Rip deeply regretted the fact that he had moved past the guiltily-solicitous phase so quickly.
“Last time you did it,” he said, “It was Brighton, 2009. And a young woman came up to me and complimented my 10thDoctor cosplay!”
Jax snorted, and in the corner, Ray said: “Oh yeah, I’d forgotten about that! That was hilarious.”
Rip turned to glare at him, and Ray held his hands up in surrender. “Hey, don’t look at me, I’m not the one who dared Jax-”
He slammed his mouth shut, but too late.
Rip levelled his most fearsome glare in Jax’s direction, one that had caused many a time pirate to run away in fear.
“Yeah, no, I’m not telling you anything,” Jax said, “Snitches get stitches man!”
“You have been spending entirely too much time with Mr Rory,” Rip said.
Jax wasn’t backing down, nor did it seem likely that he was going to tell him who exactly had dared him to. What. Tell people he was the Doctor?
Rip held the glare for another few seconds before giving up. He could find the culprit on his own. Turning on his heel, he slammed his hand against the door control to open it, cursing as it sparked.
Removing his hand, he stared at the panel in consternation. There was a large, hand-sized hole in the middle of it. Well damn. Now Gideon was going to be angry at him. He hadn’t hit it that hard, had he?
“Holy shit,” Jax said, “Did you do that on purpose?”
“Yes,” Rip bit out, “So I suggest you two fix it before I start punching more vital things than a door panel. Consider it penance for associating with unsavoury characters.”
Ray sighed and started to examine the broken panel.
“We’d better just do it,” he said to Jax, “Anyway, I’d been meaning to take a closer look at the ship’s wiring.”
Watching the two heads bent over the hole and removing what he considered far too much wiring for a simple repair job, Rip had the feeling he’d made a terrible mistake. Ah well. At least if they ended up stranded in space it would give him enough time to sniff out the trouble maker on his team. One of them, anyway.
He strode off, coat, which did not bear anyresemblance to the 10th Doctor’s, flapping dramatically behind him.
Ray and Jax glanced up briefly to see him leave.
“Do you think he’ll figure out it was Martin?” Jax asked.
Ray paused a moment in thought.
IV.Allergy to aspirin
Rip was slumped on a ridiculously uncomfortable sofa in STAR labs. The Legends had received a distress signal from Team Flash a few days ago: something about cracks in time and space that had left the majority of his team jumping up and down with an unbecoming glee considering there were cracks in time and space.
Caitlin, sensible girl that she was, had realised that the Legends, and more specifically Rip himself, were the erstwhile experts on this sort of time travel and called them in. How they had managed to get a message through to 17thcentury Denmark, Rip had no idea, but they had.
And so they had flown in on the Waverider, punched many, many people, found the time pirates who were attempting to mine fossilised time and had dealt with them. Explosively. As was often the case when it came to missions.
All in all, the damage was on par, or lower than usual: only a few slightly singed buildings. A couple of people who ceased to exist for an hour or so. And one Time Master with a grade 2 concussion.
Luckily none of his team had been around to see him be thrown into that building: Rip maintained that its poor upkeep meant that it was bound to come down sooner or later, and it was only unfortunate timing that his head had been the catalyst of its inevitable destruction. In any case, he seemed to be hardier than the average human nowadays: the amount of broken tea cups scattered around the Waverider attested to that.
“Here you go Captain Hunter,” Caitlin said, handing him a couple of small, white pills. “Something for your headache. Since you won’t let me bring you to a hospital. Or treat you here.” She gave him a pointed glare.
“I’m afraid that the only people I trust with any medical concerns are my crew,” Rip wearily explained once again, wearily taking the pill and swallowing it dry, “Nonetheless the painkillers are appreciated.”
He frowned. There was something… He was finding it harder to breathe. He raised a shaky hand to his throat.
“What,” he choked, “What did you give me?”
“Just some aspirin,” Caitlin replied: “Captain Hunter, what-?”
Some time later, he opened his eyes with a groan. He felt as if he’d been gargling sandpaper followed by a spot of light screaming, but that wasn’t what was causing the sense of doom.
“I suppose,” he said, pausing to cough, “This means you were right about the aspirin Dr Palmer.”
In front of him, Sara raised an unimpressed brow.
“That’s it,” she said, “You are never going anywhere unaccompanied ever again.”
They were up to something. Whispering in corners. The faux innocent look on Ray’s face. None of them were as good at lying as they thought they were.
“Hey Rip?” Ray asked casually as they descended into the pleasure domes of 52ndcentury Miami.
“Yes Dr Palmer,” Rip replied, preoccupied with keeping his mental shields firmly in place. In this one occasion, ignorance truly was bliss: he didn’t want to have to deal with seeing the entirety of people’s lives whenever he stared them in the eyes. It was upsetting for everyone.
“What time is it?” Ray asked.
“Two hours, five minutes and thirty-nine seconds past the sun’s zenith,” Rip said absent-mindedly. If he turned just so- Aha! The aberration was nearby.
In the resulting chaos he put the strange question out of his mind.
“Captain!” Martin called out to him, burying across the hanger to catch him before he left, “I was wondering if you could tell me how long until we land?”
“Twenty-three minutes, eighteen seconds Professor,” Rip replied, “But why-?”
But Martin had already left.
“Dude! You’ve got to help me man,” Jax said, wide-eyed with panic, “I was baking a cake for Sara’s birthday and I forgot to put a timer on and I don’t know if I should take it out now or if it’s too raw, or if I’ve overcooked it…”
“Breathe Mr Jackson,” Rip commanded, then tilted his head slightly. “Hmm. If you take the cake out in approximately seven minutes and nine seconds, it should be perfectly baked.”
Jax smiled at him, wide and delighted.
“Thank you! You’re a life saver.”
And then he hurried off.
“Hold on,” Rip said rather belatedly, “Sara’s birthday isn’t for another five months, six days and four hours!”
When Rip decided to do something, he wasted no time. He went straight to the source.
“Dr Palmer,” he said, grinning to himself as Ray jumped in shock, “How convenient. I’ve been meaning to talk to you.”
“Has anyone told you that you sound like a B-movie villain when you do that? Because you do. You really, really, do.”
Rip ignored him. He knew that if he replied to Ray’s comment then they would be sucked into a debate on American film expectations, and how the yanks always considered English accents evil. Or sexy, one of the two.
“Why do you keep asking me the time?” he said bluntly instead.
Ray looked sheepish. “Because…I keep forgetting to wear a watch?” he said, in one of the most unconvincing displays Rip had ever witnessed.
“Try again,” Rip said, “The truth preferably this time.”
“Because it’s pretty cool that you know the time down to the second in any time period we land,” he said, “And also… I figured that if you know the exact time that a cake has been in the oven and how long it has to stay there, then you probably can sense other things. Similar things. And I wanted to maybe help take your mind off it.”
“I don’t understand,” Rip said, and he was pleased at how steady his voice was.
“I think you do,” Ray said.
Rip turned to leave: this had clearly been a mistake.
“Rip,” came Ray’s voice from behind him, “How old am I?”
He tried not to think about it, but the words came bursting out: “Thirty-six years, five months, eleven days and fifty-nine seconds. In linear time.”
Ray stayed silent, albeit a silently vindicated one. He didn’t ask the follow up question, for Rip was extremely grateful.
“So your plan is what,” Rip said, “Annoy me into not thinking about it?”
“Well yeah. That and it is actually super cool when you do it. You can’t get more accurate than a Time Lord is all I’m saying.”
“Not a Time Lord,” Rip shot back. Although… he was grateful to Ray, and whoever he had recruited on is inane mission to annoy him into less maudlin thoughts. Deep down. Very deep down.
“Sooooooo. What time is it Rip?”
“Really not the time to be asking!” Rip replied, twisting his arms slightly to relieve the tension in his shoulders. The chains clattered with every movement, and he ignored them.
“Come on, work with me here.”
“Five minutes and thirty-three seconds since the last time you asked me,” Rip shot back, “And also time for you all to buy a watch!”
“Sara!” Rip said, rushing over to her. He ignored the firefight going on in the background, no doubt the rest of the Legends could take care of the remaining mercenaries on their own. Indeed, even now he could smell the burning flesh that characterised Mick’s fighting when he was in a particularly ornery mood.
“I’m fine,” Sara said, something that would have engendered more confidence in him if she hadn’t been slurring her words so badly that he could hardly comprehend them, and if blood hadn’t been pouring down her head and knotting in her hair.
“Of course you are,” he said soothingly, “Now if you’ll just let me examine you for a concussion.”
“I don’t need examining,” Sara said, trying to push herself off the ground, “I can keep fighting.”
“Not with a concussion you can’t,” Rip replied, pushing her gently down. It was worryingly easy. Tilting her head up with both hands, he stared into her eyes trying to check whether her pupils were dilated.
Like you’re one to talk about self-care.
“What?” Rip asked, distractedly tipping her head this way and that to get a better view of her eyes.
“I didn’t say anything,” Sara said.
Rip frowned: “Of course you did, I heard you-” He cut himself off. Thought about the words spoken. Thought about the way Sara’s lips hadn’t moved.
“Bugger,” he said.
Sara squinted at him. Or at least at his left ear: it was strangely charming.
“Do you have telly, tleth, telpath,” Sara stumbled over the word several more times before Rip took pity on her.
“Telepathy,” he said, “And no. I’m fairly certain that is one superpower that I don’t possess.”
Sara narrowed her eyes at him, then screwed up her forehead. Concentrating.
Rip jerked back in should as his mind was assaulted with a barrage of, frankly raunchy images, and he really didn’t need to know those things about the Queen of France!
“Sara!” he said.
Sara looked smug.
“Telly-patty,” she said.
“Captain Hunter,” Martin said nonplussed, nonetheless allowing himself to be manhandled into the dimly lit interior of a 20thcentury London pub, “Do you mind explaining to me what exactly we’re doing here?”
“I’m afraid I can’t,” Rip replied shortly, “I only know that it’s of vital importance to time itself that I be in this exact pub at this exact time. And I hate drinking alone.”
“Well,” Martin said, ignoring that patently untrue statement, “In that case.”
He made a beeline for the corner table, stepping gingerly on the sticky carpet. Rip followed after him, frowning when he saw the older man had taken out his phone. His entirely anachronistic phone.
“Professor,” he said, pinching the bridge of his nose with a sigh, “How many times do I have to tell you-”
“-yes, yes,” Martin said, “No future technology. But nobody is watching, and how else am I to contact the others for drinks?”
“The whole point of me asking you, and only you,” Rip said, “Was to avoid destroying the pub. The plan is to wait here until my ‘time’ sense has decided that the time line is once again stable, and then leave. London has been good to me: I would prefer for it to remain mostly intact.”
“That and I’m the only one who won’t harass you for more details about your new time lord super powers?”
“For the last time, I’m not a Time Lord!” Rip said, even though he knew it was a losing battle, “Just because I have two hearts now doesn’t mean that I’m some sort of alien.”
“You haven’t mentioned the orange blood,” Martin pointed out indulgently, “Or the telepathy. Or the super strength-”
“Yes, that’s quite enough Martin,” Rip said testily, “There’s no need to go on about it. Especially in public.”
Martin smiled, shaking his head indulgently.
“Perhaps you have a point,” he said, then paused. Looked at a point over Rip’s shoulder. “Although I think we might be too late,” he continued, lowering his voice.
“What is it?” Rip asked, matching Martin’s tone.
“We appear to have an eavesdropper,” Martin said.
Rip surreptitiously glanced around. There: one table down. Middle aged, white male. Staring at them intently and…taking notes?
“It really was too much to ask that one trip be uneventful,” Rip said. He stood. “I suppose that time shall have to remain unsatisfied. Come along Doctor, let’s make our way back to the Waverider.”
Casually the two men exited the pub and made their way back to where the ship was parked. Cloaked of course: Rip knew better than to risk the timeline by exposing civilisations to advanced technology. Unlike some people.
Only… the nerd twins had evidentially struck again, because the Waverider wasn’t her usual, invisible self. Or at least not all of her was. A hologram had been programmed to cover her entranceway: sensible enough Rip supposed as it would be equally suspicious for them to vanish into thin air. Unfortunately, and Rip blamed Ray, the hologram had been programmed to look like a police box.
Rip glared at Martin.
“In my defence,” he said, “I hadn’t realised we’d be followed back. And police boxes are quite common in this era.”
“Hmph,” Rip said. They would just have to tough it out, enter the Waverider as if nothing were wrong. Surely one person seeing them wouldn’t have too much of an effect on the timeline. Especially since he had been eavesdropping in a pub. With any luck he would write it off to a pair of drunks with an overactive imagination and forget about it.
Walking swiftly, they passed through the hologram, thereby ‘entering the police box’ and stepped into the Waverider. Where Ray was standing, mouth open in astonishment.
“Is that Sydney Newman?” he asked, pointing at their eavesdropper who was walking right up to the ship with an air of complete befuddlement on his face, carefully examining the hologram.
“Who?” Rip asked. Beside him, Martin made a small noise of realisation. “Astonishing!”
Ray frowned at Rip, who immediately felt as if he’d failed an important examination.
“The creator of Doctor Who?” Ray said, enunciating each word.
“Oh,” Rip said, feeling the timeline settle contently in his head, “Bollocks.”
“Sorry for stranding you all throughout history, but it was the only way to save you. It shouldn’t be too long before someone comes to pick you up: at the risk of spoilers, I can say that I have seen all of your timelines, and they don’t end scattered into the past. As for me-ah you know what they say. A Captain should never abandon his ship. Neither shall I abandon hope of seeing you all someday. Somewhere in time. Time is somewhat of a speciality of mine, after all. As flawed and unruly and ridiculously invested in obscure British television as you all are, together you are the best team, the bestcrew, the ah. The best family that any individual should wish for. So stick together. Look after yourselves and Gideon. And remember: history is yours now my dear Legends. Good luck! And thank you.”
Rip swallowed and looked away.
“Gideon,” he said, “End recording.”
“Captain,” Gideon said, “I don’t like this plan.”
In the middle of the almost deserted bridge, inching ever closer to a collision course with a nuclear bomb and Mick Rory passed out beside him, Rip could truthfully say that he didn’t like the plan either. Especially not the way that it had a non-zero chance of the Waverider’s destruction.
“Gideon,” he said, hefting Mick over his shoulder and feeling thankful for his new strength, “When was the last time you backed yourself up?”
“Five weeks ago,” she said reluctantly.
“Good,” Rip said, staggering toward the medbay, “That’s good. Not too many memories lost should worst come to worst.”
“I don’t want to continue without you Rip,” Gideon said.
“Don’t say that,” Rip said, carefully laying Mick onto one of the beds and attaching a cuff around his wrist, “You’ll outlive us all Gideon. In any case, I need you to look after the crew for me. And they’ll look after you: you don’t need one old washed up Captain dragging you down.”
Carefully, using the skills that he had retained from his youth, he slipped a tool into his pocket.
“Don’t say that,” she said, “Don’t ever say that.”
“I’m sorry Gideon,” he said, “But I can’t let anyone else die for me.” He trailed his hand lovingly across the walls. He knew that Gideon was so much more than the ship, but he couldn’t help but associate it with her.
A crash, and Rip was violently flung back. Sparks filled the air and the Waverider groaned and creaked in distress.
“Gideon?” Rip asked. He could feel a warm trickle of blood sliding its way down the back of his neck, but he ignored it. He had more important things to worry about.
“I’m here Captain,” Gideon said, “And we appear to have survived the bomb. Although I estimate that it will take 15 years to repair the ship effectively enough that we will be able to leave the ocean.”
“Well, that’s not optimal,” Rip said, unsteadily getting to his feet.
“Perhaps if Mr Jackson and Dr Palmer were here it wouldn’t take so long,” Gideon said, and he could hear the disapproval in her voice.
“They’re safer where they are,” Rip said, “Now Gideon: Initiate auto repair.”
“Initiated,” she stated, “What are you-?”
“Shogun ballistic,” Rip said quickly before she could bring out the Doctor protocol, or any of the other ridiculous overrides she and the rest of the crew had conspired to create.
“Rip, no. Please don’t…”
But her voice out, and she shut down.
“I’m sorry Gideon,” Rip said, “But there are things I have to do. And there’s no way you’d let me do them.”
He made his way to the engine room, bypassing his study entirely. He would leave his spear piece where it was: he had faith in his crew and in Gideon. Either they would find the Waverider and inadvertently protect the artefact, or the Waverider would be lost forever beneath the waves: as good a hiding place as any.
Opening the Time Drive, he stared into it, flexing his fingers. Taking the modified screwdriver out of his pocket, he cracked open the bracelet on his left hand. As soon as the slim metal band opened, he could feel it. Stronger than before: temporal energy flowing around and through him, bathing the room in a golden light.
“Well,” he muttered to himself, “Here goes nothing.”
In one swift movement, he grasped the drive. And disappeared.