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[personal profile] fic_of_fork
Word Count: 2062
Summary:  Chrono-tourism, a pair of alien con artists, and the US-USSR hockey game at the 1980 Olympics: just another day in the life of Margaret and Ada, as they race to correct a changed time line.
Warnings: None specific for this chapter
Rating:  Teen
Characters: Martha Jones, OCs (Margaret, Ada)
Genre:  AU, gen
Author's Note:  This story was written for the 2011 who_like_giants ficathon, and as such features two characters of mine, namely Margaret and Ada.  It takes place in an alternate universe, where the Time Lords weren't all wiped out.  Chronologically, it takes place after Season 3.  Thanks to[livejournal.com profile] lindenharp ,[livejournal.com profile] persiflage_1 , and [livejournal.com profile] zurcherart  for the betas!
Disclaimer: I don't own Doctor Who, Torchwood, Bernice Summerfield, or any of its characters, and I'm receiving no profit from this beyond the joy of writing.

Prologue


Even for her, it was cold in the bell tower overlooking the churchyard.  She huddled in her scavenged coat and clothes, keeping a close eye on what happened below.  Six of her people were being held in a large building off to the right of where she was perched.  The warm glow from inside tempted her, but she couldn’t show her hand too soon.  Not yet.  The back of her mind didn’t know to trust these humans.  As the moon rose, orange vapor lights blinked on, and she shivered in her coat.

It had been several weeks since the UNIT teams descended upon the compound where her people were being used as slave labor, held against their wills by a time-traveling cult that had allied with the Daleks in the Time War.  Ada—who was good at keeping to shadows—hid once more.  Her skill as an assassin was never in question—her family had been sought after for their services for centuries on Gallifrey—but rather she knew her odds against a dozen heavily armed humans in body armor, especially when she was unarmed.  Her current situation was like her last:  avoid capture and do what she could to help her people.

UNIT had taken her people, many of whom were close to death from starvation and abuse.  They had been moved several times in order to throw off anyone trying to track them, but Ada had one distinct advantage.  She was also a Time Lord, like the six who recuperated beneath her.  She didn’t trust UNIT—or Torchwood, for that matter—even though he had worked for them. 

Far below, a figure looked up in her direction.  Even from her vantage point, Ada could see how the person jumped in place to keep warm.  There was something different about the person below her, though.  The faint aroma of artron energy wafted in the breeze, although Ada couldn’t be sure that the cold wasn’t interfering with her sense of smell.  Just barely over the wind, she could hear the person’s voice calling up to her.

“It’s me, Martha,” she said.  “It’s going to be a record-breaking cold night tonight, and I’d feel better if you were someplace warm.”  She bent down and left something at the foot of the bell tower, by the small door that led up to the stairs winding around it.  “I’ve left a thermos of cocoa and a blanket.”

Before Martha turned to walk away, Ada was down the stairs like a flash, thankful to drive the cold from her limbs with activity.  She cracked open the door and peeked out.  Nobody was there, and Ada couldn’t help feeling a bit disappointed.  The temperature was rapidly falling, and sitting on a stair by the door, she wrapped the blanket around herself and poured a cup of the cocoa.  The steam rose from it and glistened in the moonlight that shone through the belfry.  As Ada took a sip of the thick, creamy liquid, she felt the warmth spread throughout her body.  She reasoned that anyone who meant her harm wouldn’t go to this trouble.  Ada knew how the humans here had worked day and night to tend to her people.  These weren’t the humans who had kept them prisoner.

She neatly folded the blanket and left it in a safe place, should she need to spend the night outside again and picked up the now-empty thermos.  Silently she made her way to the parish hall.  At the entrance, a pair of armed guards stood in their dark UNIT uniforms and body armor, machine guns ready.  Ada wondered how she was going to disable both of them, when she realized she had been careless and was seen.

They straightened up, and one of them addressed her:  “Evening, ma’am.”  His partner held the door open for her, letting a rush of warm air out into the night.  And then she smelled the sweet scent of artron, stronger now.  She followed the trace through the door, winding around other stations and past a set of screened-off cubicles that she knew housed beds for the other six Time Lords.  Finally, she saw Martha in a lab coat studying a computer screen.

“Glad you came in from the cold,” Martha said, not turning around initially.  “I’ll be able to rest tonight.”

“How did you know where to find me?”  Ada asked, still warily standing by the workdesk.

“You could say I’ve had experience hiding from Time Lords,” Martha said, finally turning around.  “It’s not a stretch to apply that knowledge to where they’d hide.”

Ada’s mind filled with images of a previously eradicated time line, one in which the skies broke open, and the resources of this planet were consumed with making war.  She had seen the vast radiation pits that covered this part of the country, and she’d heard stories of the Doctor, passed from person to person.  And then everything changed.

“That wouldn’t account for as much artron energy as you’re steeped in,” Ada said.  “You’ve traveled in time.”

“Quite a bit,” Martha responded, as she led Ada to the area of the parish hall where the kitchen—and their impromptu mess hall—was located.  There was still some soup left, which Martha ladled into two bowls.  One she passed to Ada, and she took the other, as well as some rolls that were waiting.

“Hold on,” Ada said, as she tried her soup.  She didn’t care for the taste—it had some sort of animal protein as the basis of the broth—but it was warm and nourishing.  “You’ve traveled with the Doctor.”

“You’ve heard of him?”  Martha asked.

“Heard of him?  He’s either a criminal or a legend, depending on who you ask.”  Offhandedly, she asked, “Quite an operation.  How many from UNIT are here?”

“Ten, now,” Martha said.  “There were more when we weren’t sure there would be a threat from the Emissaries of Blood, but the people who’re here now are mostly medical staff, except for four guards.  They’re here more as a precaution.” 

Martha lapsed into silence and studied Ada with a worried look.  “Can I ask a question?” she finally said. 

“Sure,” Ada replied, as she munched on the roll.  It was slightly stale from the winter’s dryness, but she wasn’t about to complain.  It was the biggest meal she had eaten in months.

“Why didn’t you come in earlier?” 

“I had to know you lot could be trusted,” Ada replied.  “If you couldn’t, I needed to be in a position to do something about it.”

“But the Doctor?  Surely he wouldn’t have worked with people working against his own.”

“Like I said,” Ada said between mouthfuls of soup, “when you’ve got two conflicting stories, the truth is often in the middle.  I couldn’t take a chance, not when those other six were involved.”

Martha realized that the ease Ada showed around her was calculated.  She projected an aura of calm not only to guard against what she really thought and felt, but also to make others around her put their guard down.  In the short space Martha had been around Ada, she realized that Ada had already summed her up completely, and that any information given was completely one-sided, including the details of the UNIT operation.  She shivered, when she realized that Ada had effortlessly gained the upper hand, like the Doctor did many times against countless others.  Then in another instant, Martha realized how Ada was really just like her cousins about that age, but instead of doing the kinds of silly things they did, Ada had gone to war. 

While Ada was finishing the last of her soup, she got up and rummaged around in the ancient refrigerator in the kitchen.  Walking back to their table, Martha handed Ada a brownie wrapped in a napkin. 

“We’re lucky they still had some left,” she said. “The parishioners like to keep us fed.”

Ada gratefully nibbled her brownie, and as she did so, there was a change in her, as if she were allowing Martha to see the young adult that lurked behind the mask of a much older person. 

“It feels good to be warm,” Ada finally admitted.  “Just because I can tolerate the cold doesn’t mean I like it.  You know how it is.”

“Beg pardon?”  Martha asked.

“I assumed you were from the equator of your planet as well?  Unlike the Doctor, I grew up in a desert.  Then again you’d have to be insane to live in the mountains of Southern Gallifrey.”

Martha laughed, but quickly added when Ada looked either hurt or puzzled.  “No, I wasn’t laughing at you!  It’s just that my family’s all from London. They wouldn’t know what the sun was, this time of year.  It’s not as cold as here, but it’s dark and gloomy in the winter.”

Ada let loose a big yawn before she could stop herself.

“When’s the last time you had a decent kip?”  Martha asked.

“Let me think…”  Ada began.

“To bed, now,” Martha commanded.  “If you have to think about it, you need sleep.”

“But—”

“Doctor’s orders,” Martha said.

Martha waited for Ada to finish her brownie, grabbed a coat from a coat rack near the door, and marched Ada across the little yard and garden, past the main church, and to the priory.  Martha walked to the back door, which was up three steps on a short stoop, and opened the door into a kitchen.  Most of the house was dark, but it was quiet and warm.  Ada yawned once more.

“You’ve got the place to yourself, since Mike was called away for a sick parishioner.  This is the kitchen, if you’re still hungry,” Martha said.

Martha led Ada through the kitchen, past a parlor with overstuffed and faded furniture to a wide oak staircase.  It creaked as they made their way to the second floor.  “Third door on the left is already made up for you,” Martha said.  “No sense keeping you in the parish hall.  We’re moving people who’re well enough to not need constant supervision here as they’re able.”

Ada peered into one room that looked like a small-yield dwarf star neutron bomb went off in it.  Clothes were scattered around piles of books.  Posters of professional hockey players lined what she could see of the room.  Another room was Spartan and perfectly neat.  A black leather book rested on a table by a perfectly made bed. 

Finally, Ada came to her room.  It was small, but comfortable, and the bed was neatly made with two fluffy pillows, a blanket, and a quilt.  A pair of folded pajamas rested on the quilt, and a bathrobe hung on the back of the door.  Ada peered into the closet, and it held a few changes of clothing, and a set of towels.

“Blame the Doctor if they don’t fit,” Martha said.  “There’s plenty of soap, toothpaste, and shampoo in the bathroom—it’s the room at the other end of the hall, by the stairs.”

“I’m sure it’ll be fine,” Ada said.  She was suddenly quiet, a part of her distrustful of the fact that they had a room prepared and waiting for her. 

“Do you need me to leave my mobile, just in case?”  Martha asked.

“No need,” Ada said.  As an afterthought, she added:  “Thanks.”

Martha softly closed the door behind her, and Ada sat on the edge of the bed.  It was dead silent in the priory, and it slightly unnerved her.  She couldn’t remember the last time she hadn’t heard the constant hum of city life and traffic, nor could she remember the last time she had slept for more than a few minutes at a time.  She changed into the pajamas—which fit her fine, if a bit loose—and pulled down the quilt and blanket.  Creamy, fresh sheets awaited her, and Ada turned off the light, and got into the bed, pulling up the blanket, while leaving the quilt off.  The bed was delightfully soft, as were the pillows.  Before she could think another thought, she was sound asleep.

Date: 2011-08-23 07:38 am (UTC)
ext_3965: (Doctor of Pwnage)
From: [identity profile] persiflage-1.livejournal.com
I seriously wouldn't hang about a belfry in the midst of an English winter. Glad Martha fetched Ada in from the cold.

Date: 2011-08-23 02:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] garpu.livejournal.com
Yeah and New York can be a hell of a lot colder than there...especially in February!

Date: 2011-08-23 03:25 pm (UTC)

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