Shows: Dr. Who/West Wing cross over
Characters: Tenth Doctor & Martha/folks from the West Wing
Spoilers: Through end of West Wing season 1.
Rating: sadly, this story has very little sex or violence.
Word Count: 4329.
Thanks to millari for help with a scene, and for copy editing.
This is a gift for my friend usakeh. Happy birthday!
“Leo, may I have a word?
The older man’s lined, brooding face turned from the monitor where the President was acknowledging the applause to his introduction and regarded the balding, mustachioed Secret Service agent beside him. Ron Butterfield had been in charge of Josiah Barlet’s security detail since the inauguration, and he never spoke to Leo unless it was important. Yet Leo also noted Ron's distinct lack of worry.
“What’s up, Ron?”
“A few minutes ago, while doing a routine sweep of the basement, one my agents found something… unusual.”
“Yes. It’s a blue wooden box about four feet square and seven feet tall, with a door in the side and the words ‘Police Public Call Box’ written around the top.”
Leo swiveled away from the screen and gave Ron his full attention. “That does sound like an odd thing to find in the basement of a public auditorium. How did you miss this earlier?”
“We didn’t. It’s only been there about twenty minutes.”
Leo’s eyes narrowed. “You're saying this large blue box somehow found its way into the basement of an auditorium after it’s been secured by Secret Service agents and just before a presidential address, without anyone noticing, and you only think that’s unusual? What are you doing about it?”
Ron's eyes glazed over a few seconds, listening to someone talking in his earpiece. “I have five agents securing the basement and observing the box.”
Leo's voice rose half an octave. "You think that's enough?”
Ron nodded. “Leo, the Secret Service has a special directive in its files for this situation. This box has turned up at the scene of Presidential appearances, or inside the White House, on several previous occasions, dating back to the Lincoln administration.”
There had been no one around when the blue box had faded into being in the basement. The light on top had flashed until it became completely solid, then went out. After a moment, a tall figure in a pin-striped suit and red sneakers, his skin pale and unkempt hair dark and short, stepped out. A young woman in a stylishly red leather jacket followed him. with pale skin and short, dark, unkempt hair, red sneakers stepped out, followed by a young woman in a stylishly red leather jacket. Her features would have pegged her as African American, until she opened her mouth.
“Where are we, Doctor?” she said, her accent betraying her east London origins.
“Rosslyn, Virginia, United States of America, a place called the Newseum.”
“Virginia? Is this before or after they abolished segregation? Because I am not putting up with any more of that ‘minding my place’ bollocks.”
“Fear not, Martha. It’s the early 21st century—just a few years before we first met, in fact.”
“Right," she replied with evident relief, and then queried: "So, why are we here?”
“To hear a speech by President Josiah Bartlet. He gives a good one tonight, and I’ve always wanted to meet him.”
“President Bartlet? Is his wife going to be here?”
The Doctor cocked his head in surprise. “I dunno. Why?”
“Because she gave this great speech at a special symposium for students in the sciences in the fall of my third year. It’s what inspired me to take a chance and apply for medical school.”
The Doctor’s eyes narrowed. “When did she give that address?”
“Fall of my… Oh, my god, that’s this coming fall, isn’t it?” Martha grinned. The Doctor turned to her, grasped her upper arms, and locked his eyes with hers.
“Martha, it’s imperative you say and do nothing to compromise the time line. Keep your knowledge of future events—even that you have such knowledge—to yourself. Don’t leave your phone, or that lighter you picked up on New Earth, or any other little knickknacks that you might have picked up on our travels. We have a lot of latitude because we travel in the TARDIS, but we have to be careful. The twenty-first century is when everything changes for humanity, and I’d rather not muck it up through a bit of carelessness.”
Martha favored the Doctor with a slightly baffled smile. “Okay, Doctor, I’ll make sure not to leave any dilithium crystals lying around.”
This seemed to satisfy him. “Good. Now let’s see if there are any seats left in the balcony.”
After the speech, the Doctor was grinning hugely. “You see? That’s why I want to meet this one. He gets what it’s all about. ‘History is made by those who show up.’ That’s just brilliant.”
Martha frowned. “Well, I suppose no one shows up more than you do, but what about every other sentient being in the universe? None of us have a TARDIS.”
“Oh, there’s lots of ways to show up, Martha, and lots of ways to make history. Now, want to say hello to the most powerful man on your planet?”
Meeting the President proved remarkably easy. The Doctor simply introduced himself to a Secret Service agent, and was quickly brought to see Agent Butterfield, and shortly thereafter he and Martha were escorted back stage to where Bartlet was standing talking to a balding man in a well-tailored but rumpled suit.
"Gallifrey is not a city in Wales, Toby; I'm sure of that. I don't care what CJ told you."
"Excuse me, Mr. President," interjected Butterfield.
Bartlet and Toby turned and regarded first Martha, who smiled broadly, and then the Doctor, who lunged forward, hand extended.
"President Bartlet! Hello! I'm the Doctor, and this is Martha. Wonderful speech tonight, one of your best. On a par with the one you gave after the Galileo V reached Mars."
The other man, Toby, brightened at this. "You liked that?"
"Oh, yeah, it was brilliant. A celebration of putting all kinds of ingenuity and resources into exploring the universe, into embracing the adventure and wonder of it all. It's what's really great about your species. I mean, it's only been the blink of an eye since you were discovering fire and inventing ropes and now look at you."
"Well, thank you. It's especially gratifying to receive praise for speech I haven't even written, yet."
The Doctor blinked. Martha grinned.
President Bartlet smiled, and said: "Doctor, Martha, this is Toby Ziegler, my communications director and head speech writer. Galileo V only lifted off four months ago and we have no idea what I'm going to say when it gets there."
"Well, of course, we can't tell you," Martha interjected. "Wouldn't want to reveal a knowledge of future events, possibly muck up the twenty-first century, would we?" She stared at the Doctor, her expression bland. He drew himself up and replied, "Of course not," in a subdued tone.
Toby and Bartlet exchanged glances. "You should come and play poker with us sometime," Toby smirked. "You and the President can challenge each other with obscure trivia, like what is the only fruit with its seeds on its skin."
"Strawberry," the Doctor and Martha replied in unison.
"What's the heaviest organ in the body?" she added.
Bartlet grinned. "The skeleton. Why don't you come back to the White House with us? I'm just going have a few beers and watch a women's softball game, if you'd like to join me. Oh, and who was the first person to observe Titan?"
"Christian Huygens," replied the Doctor, and then he shrugged and added: "From Earth. And thanks for the offer, but another time, if you don't mind--pressing Time Lord business. Sorry we can't stay."
"Oh, can't we?" teased Martha. "I was hoping to meet Dr. Bartlet."
"You're out of luck there, I'm afraid," said Bartlet. "My wife's on her way to Georgia right now, which is why I'm going back to the residence to watch softball by myself."
"No, sorry, must dash," insisted the Doctor, starting to drag Martha from the room. She waved as she was pulled after him. "Good bye. It was lovely to meet you." Turning to the Doctor, she added: "Are you sure you don't want to just tell Mr. Bartlet who's going to win?"
When she’d been in school, Martha had focused on her studies. She’d lost track of the news in England, and had no time at all for events in America. She knew, of course, that the President had been shot that year, but she’d been camping with a young man called Steve in Scotland when it happened, and they hadn’t heard about it until days after, and the excitement was over, and it was known that Bartlet hadn’t been seriously hurt and that no one had been killed.
So the shooting, which started just after the Doctor had dragged her through the kitchens to the parking lot outside, left Martha standing there dumbfounded. ‘Oh my god,’ she thought, ‘is that now?’ She was so stunned that, when the Doctor threw her to the ground, she hardly noticed him lying on top of her.
The guns fell silent, but the chaos of sirens, screeching tires, and people shouting made it hard to think. She didn’t know just what had drawn her attention to the tall, curly-haired, well-dressed man, but the way he’d slumped down against a bench and sat on the ground had compelled her to her feet. She rushed to him and saw instantly that he’d been shot in the chest.
“It’s OK,” she said. “I’m a doctor. Can you tell me your name?”
“It’s Josh,” he smiled. “Hey,” he added, looking at the Doctor, “you’re that NASA guy from the other day. What did you do to Donna's keyboard?”
“No problem,” the Doctor frowned. “What did…” he began, and stopped when Josh fell unconscious.
“This is serious,” Martha said. “He needs to go to hospital right now. Can you…?”
With a nod, the Doctor strode away from her toward the confusion of flashing lights in the driveway. Putting his fingers to his lips, he gave a sharp, loud whistle. “Oi, there’s a man here who’s been shot.”
EMTs swarmed over to where Martha was doing what she could to stanch the flow of blood. She helped them get Josh onto gurney and into the ambulance. She looked up for a moment as she climbed in, and the Doctor nodded. “I’ll meet you at the hospital, “ he said.
After it had driven out of sight, he turned and headed for the basement.
When the Doctor next emerged from the TARDIS, it was two days before he entered. He found himself in a lobby with metal detectors and armed guards. With his usual insouciance, he strode up to them and flashed a piece of paper in a wallet. It was, in fact, blank, but whatever the guards saw there led them to hand him a tag that said ‘White House Visitor’, and then ignore him as he ambled into the West Wing.
He soon made his way to the press room, and mingled for a minutes before approaching a tall, brown-haired, well-dressed woman with a wry expression who was listening to a bearded man complain.
"Look, CJ, when a stealth fighter gets shot down in the No Fly Zone, it's hard news. That's what I report, and your job as Press Secretary isn't to stop me from doing it."
"Danny, there are times when there's more at stake than just your byline."
"That's unfair. I'm..."
"Excuse me," interrupted the Doctor, flashing his blank paper at them both, "John Smith, science correspondent for the, uh, Times of Gallifrey."
"Sure," CJ smiled, her eyes crinkling with slight uncertainty. "What can I help you with, Mr. Smith?"
"Doctor, actually. I'm working on a story about the problems with the current space shuttle mission, so I need to be brought up to speed."
"Problems with the space shuttle?" probed Danny.
"There aren't any serious problems with the space shuttle," CJ sighed.
"Serious problems with the space shuttle?" Danny repeated, somewhat louder.
CJ frowned at Danny, then turned to face the Doctor, suspicion writ on her face. "I'm sorry," she asked, putting her hands on her hips. "What paper did you say you were with?"
"The Times of Gallifrey," the Doctor said brightly.
"...and Gallifrey is where?"
The Doctor stared at her blankly for a moment, and then blurted, "It's in Britain."
"Britain," CJ repeated skeptically.
"Yes, well, it's, uh..." The Doctor glanced to one side, suddenly at a loss for words, and happened to meet the gaze of Danny, who winked. The Doctor grinned.
"Ok..."CJ began, signalling to security.
"It's in Wales, CJ," Danny broke in exasperatedly. "The Gallifrey Times is the third largest daily paper in Wales."
She goggled at him. "What, really?"
"Yes. They don't have much of an online presence, but they're a respected Welsh language publication."
"Welsh?" she said to the Doctor. "You work for a Welsh language publication."
"Oh, yes," the Doctor grinned.
"Say something Welsh," CJ challenged.
"Creu Gwir fel gwydr o ffwrnais awen," he replied. CJ's jaw dropped slightly, and Danny grinned. "In English," the Doctor continued, "That means something like 'Creating truth like glass from the furnace of inspiration'. It's our paper's motto."
"Oh," CJ stared at him for a moment, clearly non-plussed. Then, she smiled and said "Sorry, I'll have Carol put something together for you. Just wait here for a few minutes."
"Thanks so much," the Doctor replied.
"Danny? My office," she barked, and stalked away.
He nodded in resignation and turned to the Doctor. "Listen, I gotta go, so make it quick. You're not a reporter. Spill it."
The Doctor shrugged, "I don't know what's wrong with the shuttle, I just know something is, and I have to find out what so I can fix it."
Danny's eyebrows shot up. "So you can fix it? What about the guys at NASA?"
"Oh, I imagine that they can manage eventually, but I'm supposed to fix it, so I will."
Danny peered intently into the Doctor's face for a moment, and then nodded. "OK. But when this comes out, you owe me an exclusive interview."
The Doctor took Danny's hand. "I promise, if I ever give an interview, it'll be to you."
They shook on it.
Josh Lyman was not listening.
Donna Moss knew this, even though her boss was making the requisite uh-huhs in all the right places, even adding a few well-placed actual words here and there.
"Yeah?" he said, doing an altogether unsatisfactory job of hiding his distraction.
She waited for an uncomfortably long pause to settle. Josh finally looked up from his pile of proposed budget summaries, unprepared for the break in rhythm between them.
"Are you really not going to do anything about this?" she challenged, watching the confused flicker his eyes fought to suppress.
Josh Lyman had paused a moment too long to be convincing. "I just don't see what I can do about it, Donna." He made a show of meaningfully shuffling his pile of papers and burying his head back in them. Donna rolled her eyes and moved in for the kill.
"So you don't care about this? This is something that has the potential to impact everyone in this office, from the President all the way down."
She saw him freeze over his paperwork. She had his attention now, finally.
"Over 2,000 people work in the White House, Josh. I work in this office. I can understand you not caring about the safety of senior staff like Leo and Toby; they're men of power; they can take care of themselves. But what about me? I'm your employee, Josh. Is this what my years of service mean to you? When all it would have taken for you to fix this was to sign your name to a simple piece of paper?"
She paused a moment, getting lost in specifics.
"Well, actually, I suppose a White House requisition form is not the simplest of documents. I mean, if you don't know what you're doing, they can be pretty complicated, I'll admit; but I've left three of those forms on your desk over the last two months, all filled out for you so all you'd have to do was sign it; but instead each of those forms has vanished into some sort of black hole that lives in your desk and ..."
Josh finally met her gaze with an air of bewildered surrender. "All right, Donna," he said slowly. "You win." He stared at her. "Just what the hell you are talking about?"
Donna thrust a worn, faded, rectangular object, as long as her arm and made of foam, into his face like an accusation. "I'm talking about carpal tunnel syndrome, Joshua Lyman. I've been asking you to replace my wrist rest for almost three months now!"
He gaped at her. "Seriously?" he said after a moment. "Seriously? You want me to drop this analysis of the House Appropriations Bill so I can buy you a new piece of foam?"
"Josh! Look at it! It's completely worn out! Who knows what kind of damage it's already done to my wrists these past three months?" She shook the offending object at him for emphasis, unable to understand his indifference. "This thing is a wrist assassin!"
She was about to launch into a short, well-researched speech on the widely misunderstood symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, when they both were startled into silence by a knock on the office door. The two of them looked at each other.
"Come in!" Josh called out. "You might as well. It's not like I'm getting any work done around here," he complained theatrically. Donna ignored him.
The door opened, and a man in red sneakers and pin-striped suit, whom Donna had never seen before, poked his head in between the door and jamb. A visitor's pass dangled from his lapel.
"Hallo!" he said in a thick accent. "Can never find my way around this building, no matter how many times I come here." His eyes fixed on Josh, and he grinned. "That's more like it!" He lurched into the room, looking at everything in a way that Donna felt was either a bit of an act, or the sign of a serious case of adult onset ADD. "I don't suppose I could borrow your computer?"
Josh seemed to have finally recovered from the confusion. "Who is this guy in my office, Donna?" he asked with a huff that Donna knew meant he was rapidly losing patience.
The man stuck out a jovial hand: "Dr. John Smith, at your service," he said brightly, and then pulled out a wallet to flash an ID at them when neither moved to accept his proffered hand.
Donna's eyes narrowed when she saw that it was blank, and then flew wide when Josh said, "Oh, cool, you're from NASA. Hey, is this about that thing with the space shuttle?"
"Yes, that's right," the man beamed. "May I use your computer? It'll just take a few minutes."
"Well, I'm kind of in the middle of hashing out the budget for the entire US government for the next year..."
Suddenly, Donna was gripped by the feeling that, in some way she didn't understand, it wasn't safe for Josh to be around this man. She wasn't afraid of him for herself, not in any way, but somehow she knew that this man's presence was a bad omen for Josh. Fortunately, getting her boss to go was easy.
"Josh, you have a meeting you should go to, right now."
"Yes," she replied, and picked up two folders from his desk, and handed them to him. "It's in Sam's office, and it should only have just started. Everything you need is in here."
"Oh, OK," he said, and got up and walked out of the office without a moment's hesitation. And then popped his head back in, said "Leave that form on my desk and I'll get to it," and popped out again.
The Doctor opened his mouth, and Donna held up her hand and shushed him while she counted to five. When she was done, she said: "Okay, he's gone. Now, who are you really and why shouldn't I have the Secret Service drag you out of here in cuffs?"
The Doctor did not miss a beat. "Because I'm here to help," he explained. "The computers on the space shuttle currently in orbit have gotten locked into a initialization reference loop. I can fix it, if I can just use that computer for a minutes and write a new program to clear the problem."
"What will happen if you don't?"
"Well, NASA will try and fail to fix the problem in time, the shuttle will be unable either to re-enter Earth's atmosphere or to open its cargo bay doors, so life support systems will overheat, and everyone aboard will die. NASA could figure it out if they had more time, but they don't."
"And you can actually sit down at Josh's computer here in the White House, write a revolutionary new program for a computer that's thirty years old, and get it through to Mission Control, and do that in the fifteen minutes before Josh realizes that he has nothing to do in that meeting and come storming back here?" Donna looked dubious.
"Well ... yes. I can actually."
"OK," Donna said. "Then I'll let you do it, on one condition."
The Doctor frowned. "What?"
"Fix my keyboard."
For the Doctor, it was only a short while later that he emerged from the TARDIS at the George Washington University hospital. At the time he emerged, it was about four hours after he'd packed Martha and Josh off in the ambulance.
He poked around the halls for a few minutes before he found Martha, sitting in a waiting room with several worried White House staffers. As soon as she spotted the Doctor, she bolted to her feet and rushed to him with a grin.
"Am I glad to see you! After saving this Josh bloke's life, they weren't exactly going to turf me out, but the Secret Service really does not know what to make of me."
"Well, just one quick stop, and then we can go. Fancy a Pyramid game on Picon?"
Before Martha could respond, Donna stormed up to them.
"You!" she snapped, stopping only inches from him and leaning forward with an intensity Martha would never have believed possible from such a slender woman. "You can save him. If what I heard is true, you could have kept him from even being shot!"
The Doctor grimaced. "I could do. But I don’t know every specific little thing that’s going to happen, or at least, not always before I experience it. It gets very dodgy, going back and fixing things once I’ve lived them."
"Could you, though?" Donna persisted.
"…Yes," the Doctor sighed.
Donna peered at him for a moment, and then, quite deliberately, got down on her knees. "I will do anything, anything at all, if you will save Josh," she promised. Martha looked stricken.
His face long, the Doctor shook his head. "No. Once I start re-arranging the universe to suit my own design, it’s all over."
"What, time and space collapse or something?" Donna sneered.
The Doctor stuck his hands in his pockets and shrugged. "No. Well, yes, if I muck it up. But I wouldn’t. I could fix everything, and time and space would get along splendidly. It’s you and me that would suffer. See, if I arrange everything the way that I think it should be, you all," the Doctor spread his arms wide, "and by you all I mean pretty much every other sentient being in the universe, stop being yourselves, stop being these wonderful, complicated, frustrating, disappointing, uplifting, marvelous people, and just become my toys. You do what I say, when I say. And none of it means anything anymore. It’s just me talking to myself." He shook his head sadly.
Donna gazed up at him tearfully.
He leaned down and took her gently by the shoulders. "Do you understand why I can’t, why I won’t help him, Donna?"
She looked down at his shoes, and after a moment, nodded.
Martha knelt beside Donna and helped her to her feet. "Look, I know I probably shouldn't tell you this, but the truth is you don’t need to do anything."
"Martha!" cried the Doctor.
She gave him a look until he subsided, and then smiled at the hope in Donna's eyes. "No, it’s just that at this symposium I went to this coming fall, I remember Dr. Bartlet, the President's wife, yeah? She was talking about the surgeons who saved her friend’s life after he was shot a few months earlier, and discussing all scientific advances that made it possible to save the life of someone who’d been so badly injured, how it wouldn’t have been possible when she started medical school, which was the year I was born. It’s what inspired me send in my application to medical school."
"Josh is going to be OK?" Donna started to cry.
Martha smiled. "Yep."
Donna laughed, then grabbed Martha in an ecstatic embrace, and give her a passionate kiss. It was a long moment before the two women broke apart. Martha grinned impishly, and Donna looked somewhat taken aback.
"Ah, there, you see?" grinned the Doctor. "If I was arranging everything for you, you’d never have had that experience. Didn’t see that coming, did you?" he added to Martha, who shook her head, still grinning.
Donna grabbed the Doctor’s lapels, and kissed him as deeply as she’d kissed Martha, and then dashed away up the corridor.
“Or that,” grinned Martha.
“No, strangely enough. Mind you, it’s surprises like that make life worth living.”