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Human Nature

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The Doctor locked the door to the MRI room behind him and whipped out John Tyler’s—well, his—mobile and sonicked it. That done, he scrolled quickly through his very short list of contacts and dialed.

He spoke into the phone as he inspected the MRI machine. “Jack?”

“John? Are you okay?”

“Hello to you too, you impossible fact of nature.”

“Doctor!” Jack replied, overjoyed. “You’re back!”

“Never left, just forgot for a bit.” He cradled the phone between his head and his shoulders and wrenched a wire out of the MRI machine. “Do you call that living a quiet life?”

“For me? That was positively silent. I didn’t see you complaining when a Saffron was getting ready to smash in your head.”

“Oh, fine, point taken.”

“Rose called a bit ago, by the way, said you were on the moon. Jackie’s not happy.”

The Doctor rolled his eyes. “Jackie’s never happy.”

“Where’s Rose?”

“Distracting the Judoon.” The Doctor grinned as he sonicked a part out of the vortex manipulator. “Judoon platoon upon the moon…”

“Intergalactic police? Is that who moved the moon?”

“Yep.”

“What are they doing there?”

“They were looking for a plasmavore.”

“Were?”

“It sort of…died when I killed one of the Family of Blood.”

Jack swore. “You mean they’re up there with you?!”

“And so will you be, in a few minutes, if you get into the TARDIS. Now, Captain.”

“On my way.”

“When you get here, I’m going to need you to start loading all the people in this hospital into the TARDIS.”

“All of them?”

“The Family member was in a Judoon when it died. It’s only a matter of time before the Judoon finds the body and sentences the hospital to death. Also, we’re running out of air.”

Jack swore again. “Great. Just great. How many of the Family are up there?”

“My guess? Three more. I’ve got another friend distracting them, but that’s not much of a delay. I’ll deal with it later. Just get in the TARDIS and hope I can build this transporter out of an MRI machine and a half-melted vortex manipulator—which, by the way, is about as difficult as building a rocket with a teakettle, some petrol, and a lot of string.”

“I’ll praise your genius when I get there,” Jack promised.

The Doctor ripped out yet another chunk of the MRI machine and stuck the sonic screwdriver between his teeth.

“’Oo edder.”


Martha hurried down a corridor on the ground floor of the hospital, watch clutched in her hand. Her head buzzed with a giddiness that the studious part of her brain identified as an adrenaline rush, and the rest of her identified as the most fun she’d had in months. She loved it, this running, this sheer exhilaration racing through her veins.

But when she reached the ground floor of the hospital, the excitement started to wear off as her breath grew short. Patients lined the walls of the hallway, crosses marked on their hands, faces pale and gasping.

Martha paused as she reached another medical student, Oliver Morgenstern, helping a young man with an oxygen mask.

“How’re we doing?” she asked, crouching down beside Oliver.

He shook his head. “Not good, Martha. The oxygen’s running low. Do you know if there’s any upstairs?”

“Might be a few more tanks, but not nearly enough for everyone.”

Oliver’s eyebrows scrunched together. “What are we going to do when the air runs out? I mean, we’re on the moon.” He let out a bitter laugh. “The moon!”

“We’re going to be all right,” Martha said, summoning all the confidence she could muster. “Dr. Tyler’s upstairs working on getting us some more air.”

Oliver’s gave her a sad little smile. “We’re never going to see the Earth again, are we?”

Martha bit her lip. “Of course we are. Dr. Tyler’s working on that too.”

Oliver looked up. “Oh there you are, Julia, help me out with this, will you?”

“Listen, Julia,” Martha started, “Do you know if there’s any more oxygen tanks upstairs?”

Julia breathed in deeply, then let her breath out in a long whoosh. Her eyes drifted down from Martha’s face  to the hand holding the watch. Her mouth twisted into an inhuman grin. “Martha,” she said slowly. “I need to ask you some questions.”

Martha glanced up at her, confused. “You all right, Julia?”

Julia pointed at Martha’s hand. “What’s that in your hand? Can I see what you’re holding?”

Martha took a step back, breath hitching. “Oh, Julia, no…”

“Give it to me, Martha.”

Martha turned and bolted down the hall.

“What the—” Oliver yelled as Julia’s eyes closed and her face glowed with an unearthly green glow.

“Father of Mine, Brother of Mine, I have tracked him!”

Martha ran, chest heaving and legs aching, but she did not stop. As she spun around another corner, she slammed into a balding middle-aged man.

“Sorry—” Martha gasped,  scooting around her to run into a younger man with a boyish face who grabbed her arms.

He sniffed deeply, then smiled. “At last.”

Martha wrenched her arms from his grip and backed away, but the balding man blocked her on the right, and now Julia had arrived to block her left. Martha’s back touched the wall as the young man advanced towards her, a growing hunger in his eyes.

“Mother of Mine is gone, but she did not die in vain. The Time Lord is ours.”

Martha looked between them frantically, remembering her instructions. “You want him?” she cried, holding up the watch, “Take him!”

She tossed the watch as far as she could down the hall. As one, all three of the Family of Blood’s heads swerved to follow it, and Martha darted between them in the opposite direction from the watch. This time her running was powered by as much terror as adrenaline as she clomped up the nearest stairwell, putting as much distance between herself and the Family as possible.


Rose breathed a sigh of relief as the Judoon lowered their scanners. “Confirmed, human. Traces of facial contact with non-human.” The lead Judoon marked her hand with a giant cross.

Rose licked her lips and smirked. “I wouldn’t have called that ‘traces.’”

“Continue the search,” the Judoon commanded the others. It pressed some tickets into Rose’s hand. “You will need this.”

“What for?” Rose wondered, looking at them in bewilderment.

“Compensation,” it answered as it stalked away. The other Judoon filed after it, heading for the stairs.

Rose let the tickets drift to the floor and darted in front of them, ignoring the spots dancing in front of her eyes. She spread her arms out to block the hallway. “Wait,” she said, blurting out the first thing that came to mind. “You can’t go up there. That’s the contagious diseases unit!”

The lead Judoon's only response was to lower its helmet and continue marching up the stairs. Rose tried to follow them, but their dense bulk allowed no room for her to squeeze through. Just as well, she thought miserably, they’d probably execute her for obstructing justice if she blocked them any further.

“Rose!” Martha nearly barreled into her.

“Martha! You all right?”

Martha nodded, still gasping. “They found me. I gave them the watch.”

Rose bit her lip and tried to not sway on the spot. “Guess we’re done distracting then. Where’s the MRI room?”

“Upstairs…” She frowned at the Judoon blocking the stairs. “There’s another flight over this way, come on.” She nudged Rose in the right direction. Rose gasped as they hurried down the hallway, and sweat glistened on her pale forehead.

“You feeling any better?” Martha asked, grimacing as she noted Rose’s state. “You look a bit…”

“I’m fine.” The answer came back a bit harsher than Rose had meant to, and she quickly backtracked. “Sorry. Just a bit light-headed, that’s all. Lack of air’s not really helping…Oh!” Her face lit up as a faint grind sounded. “He did it!” She ran, or at least tried to run, towards the sound, and Martha followed behind her.

They hadn’t gone far when Rose halted in the middle of the stairs, arms extended uncertainly.

Martha took her arm and looked at her eyes. “I think you should sit down. Are you feeling dizzy?”

Rose blinked and shook her head. “No, I’m just…my vision went a bit blurry for a second. I’m fine, really. Just…”

“Right,” Martha said slowly, keeping a grip on her arm. “You should really lie down.”

“But the TARDIS…”

Martha sighed. “Just not as fast then.”

Rose kept hurrying towards the sound of the TARDIS’ engine, Martha following warily.


The Doctor ran a hand behind his head, fluffing his hair as he surveyed the machine he’d just built. He sucked in a breath through his teeth, then reached for his mobile again. “Jack? Have you made it to the TARDIS?”

Jack sounded out of breath from running. “Made it.”

“Brilliant. Now, the rectifiers should all be disabled, so all you’ve got to do is pull down the spacioduction lever and she’ll be ready to tow.”

“Um…where is it again?”

“Right next to the helmic orientators.”

There was a pause on Jack’s end.

The Doctor sighed. “The blue doohickey next to the whooshy levers.”

“Oh!”

“See you in a tick,” the Doctor said cheerily. He stuck the phone back in his pocket, grabbed two wires, and thrust them together.

The glorious sound of temporal engines filled the room, and the Doctor laughed. Oh, he’d had no idea how much he’d missed that sound!

Jack stepped out the second the TARDIS had fully materialised, wearing his long gray coat. He beamed widely at the Doctor. “Hello, beautiful.”

“I believe you promised to praise my brains, not my face,” the Doctor replied with a grin.

“I was talking about your butt. Is it just me, or is the air a bit thin in here?”

The Doctor’s grin faded. “We’re running out of oxygen.”

The door opened as Rose and Martha burst in. Martha froze as she spotted Jack, but Rose’s face lit up. “Jack!” She threw her arms around him.

“Hey, Rose—what’s wrong?” Jack pulled her away, smile dropping when he saw how pale she was.

Rose winced as Jack released her. “Is it that obvious? I mean, it’s not that bad, really…”

“Rose!” The Doctor surged forward just as she started to sway and took her by the arm. “Martha, what happened?”

Martha tore her gaze from Jack. “I think she’s going into shock. She said her vision went blurry. I say she needs a blood transfusion,” Martha suggested.

The Doctor nodded distractedly. “Rose, how are you feeling?”

“Just sort of…dizzy.”

“What happened?” Jack demanded.

The Doctor’s expression darkened. “Had a run-in with a plasmavore.”

Jack sucked a breath in through his teeth. “Ooh, nasty. Is that where it ended up then? You know, I met one at a bar once, and—”

“You ended up naked,” the Doctor and Rose both finished in unison.

“Aww…have I told that one before?”

“Jack, all of your stories end that way,” Rose pointed out airily.

Martha raised an eyebrow.

“Only the good ones,” Jack assured her with a grin. He extended a hand. “Nice to meet you…?”

“Martha Jones.”

“Captain Jack Harkness. Hello, Martha Jones.”

“Oh, don’t start,” the Doctor whined.

“I was just saying hello!”

Martha blinked. “Oh, I don’t mind. And we’ve met before, haven’t we?”

“Can’t say we have. I’m sure I would have remembered you.”

“But we did!” Martha insisted, “This morning, on my way to work, you came up to me and gave me…Wait…” Her eyes widened as she jabbed her finger at the Doctor. “You gave me his tie! But he’s still wearing it?”

Rose poked the Doctor’s chest and grinned faintly. “Naughty Doctor…”

Martha dug through her pocket. “I’ve still got it, look!” She started to pull the piece of fabric from her pocket.

The Doctor released Rose to take Martha’s wrist before she could bring out the tie. “I believe you. Best not let it get out quite yet…Rose!”

Rose’s eyes were rolling into her head as her knees buckled, and the Doctor dived to catch her. “Now you’re definitely going to the medbay.”

Her eyes opened woozily and she shook her head in disbelief. “Did I just…”

The Doctor scooped her off her feet. “Yes, Rose Tyler, you just swooned. And while I know you probably have to fight the urge to swoon whenever I’m in the room—”

Jack snorted.

“—I’d rather you not do it again. Martha, can you get me some O positive?”

“Um yeah, sure. Be right back. Which room should I bring it to?”

As his arms were full, the Doctor tilted his head towards the TARDIS. “Just bring it to the medbay on the TARDIS.”

“Hold on, in there?” Martha asked, confused. “That really is your ship? When you said the size of a police box, I didn’t think you meant—!”

“Blood first, criticisms later!” called the Doctor as Jack opened the TARDIS door for him. Martha caught a brief glimpse of the glowing console before Jack shut the door.

“Come on, I’ll give you a hand with that blood,” the captain said, rushing past her to get the exit door.

Martha desperately hoped the heat in her cheeks wasn’t visible. “Oh…if you insist.”


“Honestly, I can walk…” Rose insisted as the Doctor carried her into the medbay.

The Doctor laid her on the medbay table. “I know you can.”

“I feel useless.”

“You know you’re not. You got me this far, didn’t you? Just humour me, all right?”

“But…”

Please.”

The desperation in his voice made Rose push herself up slightly. “Okay, what’s wrong?”

The Doctor gently pushed her back down. “I’m fine.”

She grabbed his hands on her shoulders. “Yeah, and I’m ready to run a marathon. Really, what’s wrong?”

The Doctor sighed. “I almost lost you. You nearly died because I was thick and didn’t listen to you about opening the watch. I was rubbish as a human.”

“And I ignored you for three weeks,” Rose said exasperatedly. “I think we’re even. And you really weren’t rubbish.”

“Wasn’t I? I was so scared—more than that, I was terrified, and then…” He trailed off, then pulled his hands out of Rose’s. “Transfusion, right.” He whirled around and rummaged through a cabinet for a moment before pulling out a sophisticated-looking type of IV. When he turned back to her, his voice was all business. “Arm, please.”

Rose gave up with a sigh and held out her arm for him to insert a tube into a vein. “So, you never really said why we had to hide in the first place.”

“I did say—the Family of Blood’s hunting me.”

“Yeah, but what exactly does that mean?”

The Doctor helped her sit up so he could prop some pillows behind her back. “They’re renegades from an otherwise peaceful species. If they succeed in capturing me, they will extract and consume my remaining life force and leave me a dried husk. I expect they’ll go for the TARDIS next. They’ll have absorbed enough of my psyche to get inside her at least. Then it’s on across the universe, spreading war and destruction and so on…Now where is Martha with that blood?”

Rose’s eyes, which had drifted shut, flew back open. “But then we’ve got to hide you, don’t we? If they’re going to kill—”

He smiled thinly. “Oh, but that’s all if they succeed in capturing me. And unfortunately for them, I am very, very clever.”

Rose frowned. “But what if…” She trailed off as her eyes unfocused. Her head started to drift back to rest on the pillows.

The Doctor’s voice sharpened as he patted her face. “Rose? Rose, stay with me.”

She blinked slowly. “Sorry…”

“How’re you feeling?”

“…Bit blurry. My head sort of went blurry for a second. Could you do me a favour?”

“What?”

“Say ‘periastron.’”

What?”

“It’s like when two orbiting stars—”

“I know what it means! Why do you want me to say it?”

“Been wanting you to for awhile. Just like it when you get all…” She waved a hand around aimlessly.

He grabbed the wrist she was waving, his thumb over her pulse point. “Periastron.”

“Mmm, thanks.”

“Your pulse is getting slower. Where’s Martha?”

“Has she got a mobile?”

The Doctor stroked her clammy forehead. “I’ll be right back. Stay awake for me, okay?”

“Mkay…”

His brows scrunched together as he watched her nod for a moment. “Are you going to stay awake?”

Her voice was quiet but exasperated. “Yeah. I’m fine, just go.”

His lips pressed together, but he turned and hurried from the medbay all the same.


Martha and Jack hurried from the MRI room, passing scores of people in various stages of panic as they went.

“Is there supposed to be this many people on this floor?” asked Jack.

“No…Mrs. Kingston!” Martha grabbed the arms of a middle-aged woman with flyaway hair who had just reached the top of the stairs, panting. “Mrs. Kingston, what’s wrong?”

“Those—things are done with the second floor, and they’re coming up! I’m getting away!”

“Just stay calm, Mrs. Kingston, all right?”

Jack touched Martha’s shoulder. “The Judoon are on the second floor. We’ve got to move.”

“Right,” agreed Martha, leaving Mrs. Kingston to sob hysterically into her hands.

“Where’s that blood?”

“It’s close—there!” She opened the door to the blood bank room. “Miss Sladen?” There was no one behind the counter. “Guess she’s gone then.”

“Here.” Jack planted a hand on the counter and vaulted over it. He scanned the crimson bags through the glass of the cabinets keeping them cool. “Which one’s O positive?”

“Should be that one right there.”

Jack took out one of the bags she pointed to. “This enough?”

“Should be.”

Jack vaulted back over the counter, handed her the bag, and opened the door for her.

“So captain of what, exactly?” Martha asked as they hurried back past another wave of people coming up the stairs.

“Well…a lot of things. Model for Captain America, for starters.”

“You can’t be serious.”

“Have you seen my jawline?” Martha blushed, so Jack continued. “Captain of a really nice ship, a World War II squadron…”

“World War II? No way.”

“I’ve been around a bit.”

“Right…so you said ship. Does that mean you’re a sailor?”

“Nah, it was a spaceship.” He sighed wistfully. “Really nice one, like I said. Too bad the Doctor had to go and blow it up.”

“Sure you weren’t captain of the loony bin?”

Jack grinned. “Says the woman who’s in a hospital on the moon.”

“Don’t get me started, mister. I’m still not entirely convinced I’m not hallucinating.”

“So you’re saying we can be loony together?”

Martha stifled a giggle. “If you like.”

When they reached the MRI room, the Doctor was just stepping out of the TARDIS. His relief at the sight of them was obvious as he waved them inside. “Oh, good. Come on then! In you get! Chop chop, allons-y, hurry hurry hurry—”

“The Judoon are scanning the second floor,” Jack informed him as he and Martha hurried towards the ship. “They’ll be done with it pretty soon. How’s Rose?”

“Conscious but woozy,” the Doctor reported as they crossed the threshold. Martha stopped dead as she stepped inside the console room, but the Doctor continued without noticing.

“Keeps insisting she’s fine when it’s absolutely obvious she’s not—”

“Gee, wonder where she learned that from?”

“Are you suggesting something?”

“I am very suggestive.”

“But—wait, Martha?” Both the Doctor and Jack stopped when they noticed Martha’s open mouth.

“It’s—it’s—” She stumbled out of the TARDIS and out of sight for a moment. The Doctor and Jack both shared a look as Martha continued, “But it’s just a box. But it's huge! How does it do that? It's wood.” She knocked on it before coming back inside. “It's—it’s—”

Smirking at each other, the Doctor and Jack both mouthed “bigger on the inside” along with Martha.

The Doctor reached forward and plucked the bag of blood out of her hands. “Is it really? I hadn’t noticed.” He squeezed the bag, cried, “Molto bene!” and dashed from the console room. Martha and Jack followed him through the door to the medbay, where Rose lay on a stretcher, propped up with pillows. A sophisticated-looking tube stuck out from her arm. Her eyes were closed.

“No, Rose, no,” the Doctor said in a slightly panicky tone. He shook her firmly until she opened her eyes. “That’s it, wake-y, wake-y…”

“What’re you doing here?” Rose asked groggily.

“Fixing you.”

“Them too?”

The Doctor stuck the bag of blood in a machine that looked like a rather advanced microwave. “Do you want them to leave?”

Rose sighed in exasperation and sat up slightly. “No, I mean what’re you doing in here? Thought you went to go stop the Judoon. Hospital of panicking people and trigger-happy Judoon, remember? Shouldn’t you be saving the hospital?”

Jack frowned. “She’s got a point, Doc. They’ll be done with the third floor soon, and the body’s on the fifth. We’ve got a whole hospital to load in here.”

The Doctor’s jaw stiffened. “I’m not leaving Rose like this! She needs medical care.”

Rose stared at him like he’d something incredibly thick. “Martha’s a doctor, isn’t she?”

Recovering from her overall culture shock, Martha stepped forward and nodded. “Yeah, good as. I can give her the transfusion while you…do whatever.”

The microwave-ish machine beeped, and the Doctor popped it out and shook it. “Sorry, Martha, but don’t think you can handle this—this technology’s way beyond your time—”

Martha raised an eyebrow and put a hand on her hip. “Oh yeah? Way beyond me?” She pointed at each of the machines around the medbay in turn. “Ultrasound, MRI, surgical laser, ventilator, skin grafter, x-ray, centrifuge, endoscope, infusion pump. I’m sure that’s not what they’re called, but they do the same basic things, right?”

The Doctor gaped at her for a moment before breaking into an ear-splitting grin. “Oh, Martha Jones, you’re a star.”

Martha smiled ever-so-slightly and took the bag of blood from him. “Well, Dr. Tyler, you heard the patient. Go…do something.”

The Doctor recovered quickly from his indignation at losing the blood bag. “Yes. Yes, course I will. Jack and I will start loading people in.”

“What about the Family?” Jack asked as Martha attached the blood bag to Rose’s IV.

The Doctor tilted his head back. “Well, they’ll still be looking for me. But they’ll need to hide from the Judoon, same as I will…Hold on, Martha, you saw them, what’d they look like?”

“Oh, here!” Jack rummaged in his pocket for the psychic paper and handed it to Martha. “Think about what they look like and we’ll see.”

“Um…okay.”

The Doctor, Rose, and Jack all gazed around the psychic paper and the faces that appeared on it.

“Swales,” the Doctor said sadly when he saw Sister of Mine, “Shame. She was bright.”

“She was my friend,” said Martha, trying not to sound as if she were about to cry.

The Doctor nodded. “I know. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” He took the psychic paper out of Martha’s hand and stuck it in his pocket, then turned to Jack. “Right, don’t let those people onboard the TARDIS. Everyone else goes in.” He thought a moment. “Try not to let them touch anything. And no drinks. Last thing I need is fizz all over the console. Martha, you can help us as soon as Rose is stable. And thank you.” He bent to kiss Rose quickly. “Back in a tick.”

“Come back to me in one piece and the same face, yeah?” Rose said with a weak smile.

“Always do,” the Doctor said cheerfully. “Well, I say always—almost always. Nearly every time. Except for that one time with the hand. But I mean really, that’s a pretty good success rate—”

Jack snagged the Doctor’s arm and dragged him from Rose’s bedside, to Rose’s amusement and the Doctor’s indignation.

Once they were out of the TARDIS, the Doctor batted Jack away. “Oi, I was just—”

“Babbling,” Jack finished, unable to keep from grinning. “She’s going to be fine.”

The Doctor sighed and rubbed the back of his head. “I know, I just…well. We should split up, cover more ground.”

Jack nodded. “What about the Family?”

“I’ll deal with them when they find me.”

Jack did not miss the ‘when’ in the Doctor’s sentence, nor the dark look in his eyes as he spoke. Jack was suddenly reminded once again of how very glad he was that he and the Doctor were on the same side.

“Well,” the Doctor clapped a hand on Jack’s shoulder, tone much lighter, “You start on the ground floor and work your way up; I’ll take upstairs. Good luck, captain.”

Jack frowned as he watched the Doctor stride purposefully away, lab coat swishing behind him.