(London, Earth, 2009)
On Saturday, Martha gets a call from Tom. "New Thai place opened just down the road," he says. "Want to go check it out?"
"Tuesday," Martha says. "I'm out early Tuesday, and you wouldn't believe all the stuff I have to do this weekend."
On Sunday, Martha gets a call from Jack. "All that alien junk was definitely stolen," he tells her. "And we dusted for prints but there was nothing. What I don't get is how they did it so quickly. The Doctor dropped us off right after he left."
"Unless your team went all button-happy while we were at dinner," Martha says. "That would've given the thief nearly an hour."
On Monday, Martha gets a call from Tish. "And this time it's a hospital," Tish says. "A hospital that wants me to do secretarial work. I looked it up like you said, and nearly everything's run by computer. This is getting ridiculous."
"A hospital, though," Martha says. "Well, I'm a doctor. Let's have the address. I'm going to check it out."
She meets Tom at the new Thai restaurant after work on Tuesday. "So," Tom says. "You have that look about you today. You're up to something."
Martha grins at him over her water. "I'm making an inspection," she says. "At a hospital."
"But you're not a hospital inspector," Tom says, looking a bit confused.
"I am now," Martha says, still grinning. "Authorized and all. By Torchwood."
Tom's eyebrows go up slightly, but all he says is, "Well, better you than me. You take the inspections and the paperwork and I'll take the screaming kids, thanks."
Martha laughs; they order their food.
In quite a lot of ways, Martha's grateful Tom doesn't ask too many questions, because she doesn't want to lie to him. He's intelligent and funny and a really fantastic kisser and he loves to talk medical stuff and his family is lovely and her family like him well enough and Martha knows far too well that in the right circumstances Tom would be willing to give his life for her, and all of that is wonderful, but sometimes Martha thinks it might be a bad thing she has that list in her head. With the Doctor, it had been this mixed-up confused bundle of impressions and some steady glowing conviction in her chest, a certainty she loved him. With Tom she feels fond and happy and definitely attracted, and it really is nice to date a bloke without lots of personal baggage for a change, but sometimes Martha wonders if she did it too fast. That maybe if she'd waited she wouldn't be comparing them and finding Tom coming up a bit wanting.
But there it is, that smile Tom's giving her from across the table, like he thinks she's the most important thing in the universe, and Martha knows it doesn't matter that Tom doesn't remember the few days they were revolutionaries together and doesn't know about the really peculiar bits of her life. It's good right now to have someone normal who loves her, so she props her elbows on the table and grins at him and asks him about his day.
The following morning she goes to the hospital that's been trying to hire Tish. Jack's debriefed her: the hospital checks out just fine, but Ms. Ingram is on the list of donors. ("Apparently she funded the construction of the entire psychiatric ward. It was built just this past year," Jack tells Martha as she eats breakfast, phone perched uncomfortably between her shoulder and ear. "You might want to check that out.") He's also assured her there will be a few people expecting her, but that he won't notify them until as late as possible, so no one will really have time to properly hide anything.
The hospital, on a first look, is an unremarkable off-white eight-storey building. The handles of the front doors form a brass circle, split down the middle with each half-circle a handle; Martha only notices them at all because the design on the handles is a rather attractive Celtic knot, although not one she's ever seen before. The lobby is clean and light, and when Martha goes up to the receptionist's desk and introduces herself and flashes the Torchwood badge Jack gave her when she left Saturday morning, the receptionist is cheerful and helpful. "Yeah, we've got you penciled in for an inspection tour, Dr. Jones," he says. "Miss Ridley will be down in just a moment to take you around."
"Thanks," Martha says, and entertains herself while she waits by reading the hospital's mission statement, which is framed and hanging near the receptionist's desk. It's like every other hospital statement of intent she's ever read, and completely unsuspicious. She sighs.
Martha turns. Miss Ridley has short blonde hair and a smart suit, and she looks weirdly familiar, but Martha can't place her at all. She smiles. Miss Ridley doesn't, just says, "Let's get on with the inspection, then." She turns on her heel and marches off down the corridor. Martha follows, feeling a little indignant.
Whatever else she is, though, Miss Ridley is very efficient. She gives a precise explanation and history of each ward, ushering Martha through, just slowly enough that Martha can get a good look at things and see they're quite normal. At the end of nearly an hour Martha's seen a quite a lot and found nothing suspicious; all the same, this trip isn't a waste, as seeing another hospital is interesting even if it is perfectly normal.
"That's all, then," Miss Ridley says. "Any questions?"
"Yeah," Martha says, frowning a little. "I heard there's been a new psychiatric ward put in. We haven't gone by there."
Miss Ridley's face becomes slightly less friendly, which is quite a feat. "I'm afraid that's off-limits. Authorized personnel only."
"But I am authorized personnel," Martha says politely. "I'm authorized by Torchwood. Let's go there, yeah?"
"Follow me," Miss Ridley says, through what sounds like clenched teeth, and sets off.
The psychiatric ward is on the eighth floor, right at the top of the hospital. "It used to be storage space and a few offices up here," Miss Ridley explains in the lift. "But in the past year or so we have experienced a great enough influx of patients in need of psychiatric care."
Martha frowns. "So why not take 'em off to other hospitals?" she asks. "Specialty ones and the like? Why build a psychiatric ward here? You'd need new equipment, new staffing--"
"The ward was built and staffed through a series of donations," Miss Ridley says shortly. "Extremely generous ones, enough to accommodate people in the area." She stares straight ahead at the elevator doors. "I must ask you, Dr. Jones, to behave as you would in any other ward and not converse with the patients; it might upset them. Direct all your questions to the staff."
Odd thing to say, Martha thinks. Of course I'd talk to the doctors. I wouldn't want to upset any of the patients. "Of course," she says aloud.
The doors of the lift slide open, and they go out into the corridor, Miss Ridley's heels clicking off in a businesslike way. Martha pauses to read the plaque affixed to the wall by the lift: any number of wards have them, but this plaque in particular catches her interest, because it reads This ward funded by the generous donations of Rosamund Anne Natalie Ingram. Martha's eyebrows go up a little, and she hurries to catch up with Miss Ridley.
"Plaque there says a Ms. Ingram is responsible for those donations," she comments. "Who is she, then?"
Miss Ridley laughs without humour. "You'd have to take that up with the board of directors, Dr. Jones," she says. "I've never met Ms. Ingram myself." She directs Martha into one of the rooms of the ward; somewhat to Martha's surprise, it's full of teenagers, watching telly or drawing with crayons, watched by two doctors with clipboards. "This is the adolescent recreational room," Miss Ridley explains quietly, standing in the doorway. "Most of the patients in this ward are adults, but I thought you might want to see these rather than just hearing about them."
"Yeah," Martha says. "Thanks."
She turns to follow Miss Ridley back into the corridor when something grabs her ankle. She stops and looks down. A boy of about fourteen stares up at her with huge eyes. He's clutching an orange crayon with one hand and Martha's ankle with the other. "You," he says. "You're Martha Jones."
"Yes," Martha says, feeling a spike of shock.
"You saved the world," the boy says. "You told a story and we all thought and thought. And it worked. The blood's gone. This time."
Martha's heart is pounding too hard. "Yeah," she says, very gently. "It worked. Can I have my foot back?"
"Oh!" the boy says, and snatches his hand back as though burned.
Martha makes to crouch down next to where he's sitting, but Miss Ridley takes this opportunity to latch onto Martha's arm, drag her out into the corridor, and shut the door with a snap. "It was good of you to agree with him," she says. "It's best to always agree, but I think we'd better be going now."
"But hang on, I want to talk to him!" Martha says, a little angrily. "He was saying really important stuff!"
"He was raving, Dr. Jones," Miss Ridley says, and there's a hardness in her face that tells Martha causing a row isn't the way to get back into the psychiatric ward, so she shrugs and lets Miss Ridley escort her into the lift and then out into the lobby. "Thank you for coming to visit, Dr. Jones," Miss Ridley says, and gives Martha a cold smile, and shakes her hand, and shows her out the door.
Martha calls Jack the second she gets to her flat.
"And he remembered," she says excitedly, once she's explained to Jack in brief the events of the day. "Jack, he recognised me, and he remembered the year that never was! Do you think-- do you think maybe all the people in there remember somehow, and they keep on raving about the Toclafane and that? So they're locked up cos everyone thinks they're mad?"
"Could be," Jack says. "And let me guess, then you got kicked out."
"Shockingly, yeah," Martha says. "Listen, Jack, I've got to go back there. This Ingram woman is the only reason the ward exists, and at least one person in there remembers the year that wasn't, and those things have to be connected somehow."
"And you can't exactly pull a degree in psychology or psychiatry or whatever out of your ass, right?" Jack sighs. "Look, Torchwood authority covers a lot, but you have a job that isn't Torchwood and that makes things difficult. And, y'know, harder to fake."
"I can always do it legally," Martha says dryly.
"Outside the government and beyond the police?" Martha makes a rather undignified noise of disbelief. "You know what I can do? I can talk to my supervisor about having visited that ward and noticing a few instances of possible malpractice. He can write a few notes and make a few calls and by the end of the week, I'll be back in, and I won't have anyone hovering over my shoulder making sure I don't talk to the delicate patients. I'll have an official-looking clipboard and a weekend's worth of paid leave and I won't have to use the word Torchwood once."
A crackling silence on the other end.
Then Jack says, rather mournfully, "Are you sure you don't want to work for me?"
Martha laughs and says, "Well, thanks for listening, anyway," and hangs up on him.
The next morning Martha goes to her supervisor. He questions her extensively, and when he's satisfied she's not just trying to cause trouble or get the weekend off, he writes a few notes and makes a few calls and on Friday evening Martha's walking into the Rosamund Ingram Psychiatric Ward, holding an official-looking clipboard and feeling rather pleased with herself.
She starts with the adolescent rec room, but the boy who recognized her isn't there and none of the other teenagers seem to take any more notice of her than of the other doctors in the room. After a minute of searching, Martha sits down next to a girl with short brown hair who looks to be in about her late teens and is frowning at a Rubik's cube, although she glances up when Martha sits down.
"Hi," Martha says gently.
"It won't work," the girl says, holding up the cube for Martha's inspection. "It's only three dimensions and I can't even see." She bites her lip. "There was a time I could see, only I can't remember anymore."
"I'm sorry," Martha says. "I could never figure those things out anyway." The girl's accent catches up with her. "Hey, where are you from?"
This question seems to puzzle the girl horribly for a moment, before she says, a bit uncertainly, "Manchester. I've been living in Manchester."
So what are you doing in London? Martha thinks, but all she says is, "What's your name, then?"
"Annie," the girl replies at once. This question seems like an easier one to answer, and she looks quite relieved for it. She goes back to staring at the Rubik's cube.
"Well, Annie," Martha says after a long moment, and stands, "I hope you figure that puzzle of yours out."
She goes down the corridor to the office of the psychiatric ward's supervisor, and is completely unsurprised when she discovers the door partially open and Miss Ridley's voice issuing from inside, saying coldly, "I don't care if she has enough authorized documents to run this whole hospital! We need her out now."
A sigh; a man's voice says, "I know, Jenna. We're working on it. But they're all raving anyway; what's she going to find out?"
"She has contacts," Miss Ridley says darkly. "Torchwood, for a start."
"...That changes things a bit," the man says. "All right. I can't have her out today but I can have her out tomorrow. Now go away and do your political meddling elsewhere."
Martha takes this as her cue to get out of the corridor quick as she can, so she goes into one of the adult rooms to find a doctor who might not be in on whatever-this-is and will be willing to answer her questions. A man in a bed near the door is humming to himself as she passes, and the tune sounds almost familiar, but she can't quite place it. She finds a doctor near the end of the row. "Excuse me?"
The doctor turns and gives her a smile. "Dr... Jones, right? How can I help you?"
"I was wondering," Martha says. "What's wrong with most of the people here? How were they admitted?"
"Most of the younger ones are disturbed and from bad situations," the doctor says. "The older ones generally suffer from delusions-- from schizophrenia--" She shrugs. "Any of a typical number of mental ailments. Usually they're brought in by family or neighbors."
"Any... shared delusions?" Martha asks.
"A few," the doctor says, "but that's quite common."
"All right," Martha says. "Thanks, then."
She peers carefully at each patient in the room, but many of them are sleeping, or staring into space, or won't meet her eyes. Maybe the boy was a fluke; maybe Miss Ridley's just really paranoid. Maybe the hospital simply doesn't like Torchwood. Maybe the people here are mad but harmless and there's nothing that needs to be done.
But she's nearly at the door when the man who was humming to himself says, rather hoarsely, "Wait." She stops and turns to him, and he breaks into a grin. "Martha Jones," he says. "I was in London, you know. On the very last day. You sat on the stairs and you told us, and-- and he came down from his ship and took you. And we thought it was the end but we said what you wanted us to say, and then it all went back." His expression darkens suddenly. "But I remember. Why do I remember?"
"I don't know," Martha whispers. She notes distantly that she's clutching her clipboard so hard it's leaving imprints on her palms. "The Doctor told me only the people on the Valiant would remember."
The man snorts. "Git. He's been wrong before."
"Wait," Martha says, coming over to the foot of the bed, "you know him?"
Confusion flickers across the man's face. "Know who?"
Martha's heart sinks. "Never mind," she says. "Sorry."
But she goes home that night convinced she's on to something. She only has a day to find out what's going on, but a day should be more than enough.
That night, for the first time in months, Martha Jones dreams of the end of the world. Everything around her is burning: the sky orange with fire, the trees covered in ash, the streets red with blood-- that's how she always remembers it, that's how she once wrote it down. Her dream isn't quite a nightmare, because it is unreal. She walks among the shining ash-silver trees and feels unbearably homesick. The pavement under her shoes is cracked and broken, and in the distance there is something that looks at first like a manhole cover before it resolves itself into a half-shattered stone with that peculiar Celtic design on it, and Martha wakes up crying a little and completely bewildered.
She goes back to the hospital the next morning, but when the lift reaches the psychiatric ward, Miss Ridley's standing there waiting for her with a cold, self-satisfied look on her face.
"I'm afraid, Dr. Jones," she says, "that upon reviewing your documents we find you are not adequately qualified to be here. I'm going to have to ask you to go home."
Martha steps out of the lift. "What are you hiding?" she asks.
"Hiding?" Miss Ridley says delicately.
"Yes, hiding," Martha snaps. "Keeping from me. You, the ward supervisor, Ms. Bloody Ingram, any of you! Why do you have people from all the way up in Manchester down here? Why do some of them know me?"
"They are delusional, some of them have been transferred either by relatives or by their original hospitals, and I am keeping nothing from you, Dr. Jones," Miss Ridley says with perfect equilibrium, and shunts Martha back into the elevator.
Martha grits her teeth, but she has no choice but to go.
She spends the afternoon and evening with Tom; they play a few video games, wander around the nearest park, talk about medicine, try to remember as many opening lines of books as they can, get a large box of pizza, and spend the evening in watching The Weakest Link. Bit by bit Martha relaxes, and since she suddenly has nothing to do tomorrow, she decides to spend the night with Tom.
"Complain," Tom suggests, after she's been quiet for a bit too long, and wraps an arm around her waist, kissing her shoulder. "You're being paid for it."
"No," Martha says. "I'm not going to get anything out of it this way. I don't even know why I went. Just a funny hunch, and a friend told me to go with it. I-- I'll go back to it in a bit when they're not expecting me."
"All right," Tom says. "Just-- promise in the meantime you won't do that thing you do sometimes. Where you get all intense. It's wonderful and all, but sometimes I can't keep up. I like it better when you're just quoting Harry Potter and I can't remember the next line."
"What," Martha murmurs, "you want me to intimidate you with the geeky trivial things?"
She laughs and turns to kiss him. "All right. Deal."
But that night she dreams again of silvery trees and orange sky and screams and the world burning.
And the night after that.
And the night after that.
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