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A Shadow In The Human Heart

Chapter Text

Martha turned over in the cold, narrow bed, wrapping the blanket more tightly around her. It was thin, and scratchy, and gave precious little warmth.

This is what she hated most about the past, she thought ruefully. It seemed the mattresses were either packed with prickly straw or were hard as the ground. Though this one was definitely of the hard ground variety, at least it was better than the one they’d slept on in the Elizabethan inn, when they’d met Shakespeare. But then the Doctor had been beside her. Pouting and distant but still, there all the same, not an arms length away.

Now he was set up downstairs, in one of this inn’s grander rooms, with a nice fire and an en suite bath, while she froze her arse off up here in the third floor servants quarters. At least she’d managed to get him to sleep. What a mess he’d been!

Bloody chameleon arch, she thought. Bloody predatory aliens! Bloody Time Lord and his stupid bloody plan to “hide” them and where does she end up? In bloody fucking servitude, that’s where. Of all the places and all the planets. Any number of deserted tropical islands or hidden Edens to choose from, and where does the TARDIS take them? The bloody English fucking countryside in 1913, that’s where.

She turned over on her back, shivering and fuming. She wanted to scream, but couldn’t. She wasn’t alone. Her roommate, a dark-haired, haughty ladies’ maid called Anna, seemed to sleep soundly in the little bed beside her, impervious to the cold. It was so quiet that she thought she could hear every sound of the old country house; the wood settling, the muffled voices of male servants still talking in the dining room downstairs, the far away cry of a cat. She suddenly felt very sad and very alone.

Sure, she knew that the man sleeping downstairs was the Doctor. He had told her that he needed to change, and why. But in every way that mattered, it wasn’t him at all. Three months, he’d said. Three whole months, and this was only the first night.

“Do you trust me, Martha?!” he’d asked her. “I need you to trust me!” And she did.

She felt tears prick the corners of her eyes and the muscles in her forehead ached with the threat of crying.

“No,” she said aloud, swiping at her eyes with the sleeve of her nightgown. “Screw this. I’m not having this at all.”

Anna stirred beside her.

“Sorry,” Martha whispered as she swung her feet off the bed. “Go back to sleep.”

Anna grumbled and rolled over.

The moonlight coming in through the small window was enough for her to locate her clothes, and she pulled them on, fumbling with the many small buttons on her black dress. There, she thought, as she smoothed the thick fabric down over her petticoats. At least she was warmer now. She placed a cap over her loose hair and pulled on her ankle boots, struggling with the laces.

She could hear Anna shifting again but didn’t care. Stupid cow, she thought, remembering their conversation from earlier. Anna had not been able to stop staring at Martha’s complexion, or at her bare arms when she’d changed for the night. She’d even had the nerve to ask Martha how she’d managed to learn English, and if “Mr. Smith” had “picked her up” in the Boer wars!

“Yes!” Martha had said with barely concealed fury. “It was a two for one sale! Can you believe my luck?”

She left the rest of her things strewn about the room, not caring what Anna thought. She didn’t care how late it was. She was going to go and sleep in the TARDIS where it was warm, where she could listen to music or read one of her medical textbooks, maybe take a bubble bath. Somewhere that felt like home.

She was just turning the handle on the door when all of a sudden it opened inward and a body fell into her with a start. There was the flash of a small flame and something clattered to the floor.

“Goodness! Oh my goodness!” said a female voice. “I’m so sorry. You’ve scared the life out of me. And I’ve dropped my candle!”

“This is ridiculous,” Anna called plaintively from the bed.

“I’m so sorry ma’am,” whispered the girl, who pulled Martha out into the hall. She was small and mousy-haired. Martha remembered seeing her in the kitchen earlier, when the servants had offered her a meal. “It’s Smith, right?” the girl asked.

“Um, well it’s Jones actually,” Martha said, watching as the girl re-lit her candle from the lone burning sconce in the hall. “But yes, I’m with Mr. Smith. What is it?”

“Yes it’s about your Mr. Smith, I’m afraid,” the girl said tremulously. “They said he was ill when you arrived?”

“Ahh, yeah. Yes. He … he’s nearly better. We’ve been abroad and he … he had a fever. A bit of a relapse on the train journey, but I’m sure he’ll be fine by morning. He just needs his sleep.”

“Well, that’s just it, you see,” the girl said. “He’s, well, he’s up ma’am.”

“He’s … up?”

“Yes, ah, Jones is it? I’ve just seen him. He’s outside, under the moonlight ma’am. In naught but his underthings ma’am. It’s unseasonal cold tonight. He’ll catch his death if you don’t mind my saying.”

“Oh my god he’s what?” Martha said, heading for the stairs. There was a window at the second floor landing, which looked out towards the fields at the back of the inn. And there in the moonlit grass stood the Doctor. In pajamas. Her eyes widened as she watched him. He seemed to smash his right fist against his left palm angrily, then shake his right hand vigorously in the air. Then he held his arm stretched out in front of him, as if he were pointing.

“Oh my god,” Martha said.

“Sorry, is he mad, ma’am?”

“No no it’s … it’s just the fever. Must be back. He’s … dreaming. Quick, I’ve got to get him inside. Can you make sure no one sees us? I can’t have anyone seeing him like this. What’s your name?”

“Sarah ma’am.”

“Okay, Sarah, can you do that? Can you keep a watch for me on the stairs?”

“Of course.”

Martha hurried down and out into the chill night air, her skirts rustling over the wet grasses. He was standing barefoot in his striped pajamas near a fence, his face lit by moonlight. He looked pale and ghostly, his dark hair a riot.

“Doctor,” she said softly. “What are you doing?”

He didn’t answer.

“Doctor? Um, Mr. Smith? … John?”

That was who he was supposed to believe himself to be. According to the papers produced by the TARDIS, anyway. Mr. John Smith, history teacher.

“It isn’t working,” he slurred, like a drunk person, and began to shake whatever was in his hand again, stumbling backward slightly. She felt a rush of tenderness.

“Oh you poor thing, what have you done to yourself?” She rushed up to him and took his cold hands in hers. A pen. He had been holding and shaking and pointing a long black fountain pen.

“It isn’t working,” he said again. But the voice wasn’t his own, not really. The accent was too posh. She looked up into his face and he seemed lost and confused. Oh well, she thought, might as well play the part.

“Mr. Smith you’re unwell and you’ve had a bad dream,” she said.

“Have I?”

“Yes,” she reassured him, trying to begin guiding him back towards the waiting door of the inn.

“But … I think I’ve … I’ve lost something,” he said, still sounding confused.

“I’ll say,” she said under her breath. “Look, just please let me get you inside. You’ll feel better soon, I promise.”

“Oh alright, Martha,” he said. “It is Martha, isn’t it? You’re Martha?”

“Yes,” she said, draping his arm over her shoulders and fitting her arm around his narrow waist. His body felt hot though his hands were cold. “That’s me.”

“I know you,” he said.

“Yep, too right,” she said.

“No no no no, I do, I think I can remember …”

“Nope, no remembering,” she said, as they reached the door, closing it behind them. Young Sarah motioned to her from across the hall, giving her the all clear. Then she disappeared again.

“Quickly now,” Martha said, leading him up the stairs to the guest quarters.

When they reached the landing, he turned and slumped into her suddenly, his arms going drunkenly around her and his mouth grazing her ear, then her throat. His hands clasped around the small of her back. It sent shivers up her spine and over her scalp, and she felt her mouth fall open from the shock of his nearness.

“The terrible thing is,” he mumbled into her hair. “I get the … distinct feeling that I’ve … I’ve forgotten something quite important.”

His breath and the warmth radiating off of his torso through his pajamas was so much hotter than usual. Normally, he was always the first one to feel a chill, dressing in all those layers. Maybe he really did have a fever. Or maybe it was just his body adjusting to its new human parameters. Things must be a little haywire. Hands cold as ice. Chest like a furnace. The hair around his hairline and at the back of his neck was damp.

Feeling his breath on her skin like that made her a little dizzy, and she was suddenly aware of her breasts straining against her starchy Edwardian underthings. He still smelled the same. Her heart was beating faster, and she felt her nipples stand to attention against the fabric of her camisole.

“Martha,” he whispered against her neck, his voice still slurred, his arms around her tightening.

“Noooo,” she said. “None of that. Wow you really have turned human. Come on now.” She spun him around and with her hands gripping his arms from behind, she marched him towards his room.

Once inside, with the door firmly locked behind them, she pushed him onto his bed and threw a blanket over him. Her heart was pounding and she felt afraid to look at him. She wanted him, of course. But not like this.

She took the ridiculous pen from her pocket and tossed it onto a desk in the corner. He must have thought it was his sonic, the poor dear. Then she wondered, should she be worried?

She lit the bedside lamp and perched beside him on the bed. He lay with his eyes closed and his brow knitted, as if in pain, and pushed the blanket off.

***

The transformation brought about by the chameleon arch had been terrible to watch. He’d writhed and screamed in pain, crying out things with such force that the TARDIS hadn’t managed to translate them. They’d come out as gibberish to her, and Martha could only guess that they’d been Gallifreyan. Maybe the TARDIS was hurting along with her master, unable to decipher him. Martha had cowered in the console room, helpless as the Doctor shook and howled, unable to look away, as the whole structure clattered and rocked around them like an earthquake as they hurdled through the time vortex.

And then, darkness. Silence save for the TARDIS’s low hum, like an animal’s slow breathing. Gradually the lights came back on at half strength, and there was the Doctor, lying there on the floor, motionless. She ran to him and checked his pulse. It was fast, but steady. She put her head against his chest and listened: only one heartbeat. She stood back up. So it must have worked.

Before her, a screen was blinking on the console. In English it read: OPEN CHAMELEON HATCH.

“Chameleon hatch?” she said “What’s a bloody chameleon hatch?!”

There was a soft “ping” and a trap door sprung open to her right. She reached down through the grating and released a latch, so that something began to rise up. A tall steamer trunk, like a traveling wardrobe. Once it was fully risen and level with the grating, there was another soft “ping” and the doors sprang open. Clothing and documents fell out over the floor. Waistcoats, jackets, boots and dresses, bloomers and petticoats and a number of hats, both men’s and women’s. There were newspapers, and a bundle of other papers wrapped in string. Two train tickets (already stamped), identification, letters addressed to a “Mr. John Smith.” On one of them was written “accommodations.” She opened it.

“Dear Mr. Smith,” the letter began. “Your interview for the post of history teacher at the Farringham School for Boys is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 16 September. You will find that a room has been reserved for you at the Farringham Inn, where lodging will also be made available for your servant.”

“His what?!” Martha said aloud. “Oh, you have got to be kidding me.”

She skimmed the rest. The teaching post. Local sites in the town. Directions from the train station. She went and opened the TARDIS door to discover that they were inside a barn, with the orange light of dusk filtering through the rafters. Outside, an idyllic pastoral evening scene and a sign post pointing the way to the village, 1.5 kilometers away.

“Brilliant,” she thought sarcastically, and went back into the TARDIS to get changed.

She’d put a period overcoat and a hat on the Doctor, who had come to, but seemed hazy and confused. She decided that his brown suit would do just fine for now.

“I feel sick,” he kept saying, leaning against the wall with his eyes closed. She noticed already that his accent had changed, which unsettled her.

She managed to pack two small suitcases full of essentials, and with him leaning heavily against her, made off towards the village and life in 1913.

***

Observing him now as he lay sprawled on the bed, looking feverish, she cursed herself for not bringing any medical equipment with her. She’s been too flustered to remember. In the light of the dim lamp, she could see that a deep flush had climbed into his cheeks, and his hair was sticking to his forehead with sweat.

“Martha,” he called out, his eyes not seeming to focus. He reached out to her, and she took his searching hand in both of hers.

“I’m here,” she said. “I’m here and I’m not going anywhere, alright? God I wish I knew more about what was happening with you.”

She took his pulse again and this time it seemed more rapid, and irregular, skipping beats. She frowned, and touched his face with the back of her hand. He was burning up.

“Martha,” he groaned. “I can’t —”

“Sshhh, you’ll be just fine. You said I should trust you and that’s what I’ve got to do now. I’m sure this is just some process that has to … I don’t know, run its course.”

He pulled her towards him, so that her hand was against his chest. He was thin, but stronger than he looked.

“Hey, hey, easy now,” she said, losing her balance and feeling herself fall towards him, her feet leaving the floor. “Careful.”

His eyes were shut tight and he had a pained expression.

“Martha!” he said sharply, loudly, taking her by surprise. And in a voice that sounded so unlike the Doctor that it frightened her a little he said: “You’ve really got to try harder to be more obedient!” And taking hold of her wrist, he pulled her on top of him, rolled her over to his left side, and spooned her, holding her roughly against him, his right arm coiled tight around her waist.

“Oh god,” she breathed. Then he softened his grip.

“I’m frightened,” he whispered into her neck. His hand wandered down from her waist to her hip, hidden under the layers of fabric, and pulled her back against him as he ground his pelvis forward. She gasped. She could feel him through the layers of cloth, straining against her. He was hard.

“Oh god, have mercy,” she muttered, not sure if she wanted to laugh or cry. All those nights that she’s lain there, next to him or in the next room, thinking about him, wondering what it would be like to touch him, to kiss him, to feel him inside of her. She felt her pulse thudding between her legs now, growing stronger, her own desire swelling to match his. She clenched her internal muscles at the thought of it and felt a ripple of pleasure spread across her sex and up her abdomen. He was so hot behind her, even his hands warm now, his body straining against her, moaning softly, in pain or in pleasure she couldn’t tell. Oh, how she had wanted to feel him pin her, to drive his cock inside of her until she came.

But this was wrong. God, everything about it was wrong.

“Listen, um, Mr. Smith,” she said, getting ahold of herself. “I can’t stay here. I’ve got to get back to my own room. They mustn’t find me here. People will talk.”

He spun her to face him and his hand caught her wrist again, squeezing. His eyes were open and very black as he stared directly into hers. There was nothing of the Doctor in them.

“It’s for me to say where you shall go and what you shall do,” he said. “Do you understand me? Now lie still.”

And with that he spun her back around and pressed her to him even tighter, his ankle hooking over her ankle, his breath ragged in her ear, his erection large and urgent against her backside.

“Oh my god,” she said quietly. “Doctor, what have you gotten us into?”