15 April 2007

Oxford Ostinato - Chapter 3 Part 1

Showered and dressed in a change of clothing, Saskia and the Doctor sat at the kitchen table, eating breakfast and discussing their plan of action.
"First we'll go and see the coroner, Dr Price," the Doctor said, before taking another mouthful of his banana.
Saskia swallowed her cereal. "And where will we find Dr Price?" she asked, knowing the Doctor would have the answer.
"At the hospital in Headington," the Doctor answered.
"Headington? I know that name from somewhere," Saskia frowned as she turned the name over in her mind. "Oh! It's the suburb of Oxford where both Tolkien and Lewis lived in the 20th century." She grinned in triumph at remembering this fact.
The Doctor grinned back at her, then dropped his banana skin into the recycling unit. "Exactly. We'll take the TARDIS up to Headington to the hospital, see Dr Price and scan Marie's body." A sombre look settled on both their faces at the mention of the cellist's name. "Second, we'll find the pub on Plantation Road where Steve and Martin met the man with dark shabby clothes, and see if anyone can ID him, then find him and ask him what he knows about their disappearances, and what he knows about Marie's disappearance, or her body being strapped to a hospital trolley." The Doctor's tone promised trouble for someone if he didn't like the answers to his questions.
Saskia shivered a little at the memory of her two nightmares and the Doctor touched her shoulder. "OK?" he asked, his brown eyes full of concern.
She nodded and managed a half smile. "Do we have a third stage to this plan?"
The Doctor nodded, his look steely again. "We find out who's doing what to these musicians and we stop them." He stood up and they cleared away their breakfast things, Saskia washing up and the Doctor drying and putting things away. Saskia smiled inwardly at the thought that he'd make someone a good husband at least as far as cooking and tidying up was concerned.
"All set then?" the Doctor asked, breaking into her thoughts.
"Let's go then." The Doctor strode out of the kitchen and down the corridors to the Control Room, Saskia at his side.

Though he was slightly reluctant to admit it, the Doctor was glad that the TARDIS had accepted Saskia as his co-pilot after their trip to Eupatoria a couple of days ago, because it meant that he didn't have to do quite so much manic rushing around the console when piloting the TARDIS. In fact, the two of them engaged in what he thought of as a dance, weaving backwards and forwards around the console, pulling levers, turning dials and pressing buttons, and since they were linked telepathically via the TARDIS, there was none of the shouting of 'No, not that one, that one!', accompanied by wild pointing that had been necessary when Rose was trying to help him. He swallowed that thought hastily, annoyed that he was being disloyal to both Rose and Saskia.
It's not disloyalty to me to miss Rose. Saskia said quietly into his mind.
The Doctor looked up with a start of guilt and saw Saskia looking sadly at him.
"Saskia, I –" he said aloud.
"It's OK. You forgot I'd know what you were thinking. If you'd rather that I didn't be your co-pilot, I won't be offended," she said.
"No!" the Doctor said, his tone sharper than he'd intended. "No," he repeated more softly. He walked around the console to stand beside her. "You're right, I did forget that you would know what I'm thinking - I'm not yet used to being telepathically linked to anyone else whilst piloting the TARDIS. But I'll get used to it and it will be a nice change not to have to run around shouting like someone demented." He reached out and clasped both her shoulders. "I miss Rose enormously, but I'm very glad to have you here. Never forget or doubt that for one second." He smiled at her, and she smiled back, then hugged him fiercely. He moved away and resumed his position at the console. He gave her a nod and they began their dance to pilot the TARDIS from central Oxford to the edge of Headington. A few moments later the TARDIS rematerialised with its customary wheezing noise, then the Doctor and Saskia stepped through her doors into a hospital corridor.
"Where are we?" Saskia asked quietly.
The Doctor glanced along the corridor in both directions. "I'm not entirely sure," he admitted. "Let's find out." He set off along the corridor, hands shoved deep into the pockets of his familiar blue pinstripe trousers, his long coat billowing around his legs as he strode along. By unspoken consent, they each kept an eye on the doors on their side of the corridor, looking for a sign by which to get their bearings. It was Saskia who spotted Dr Price's nameplate on a dark brown door.
The Doctor crossed the corridor, then knocked on the door. There was no answer, so he pulled out his Sonic Screwdriver and aimed it at the lock. The Sonic Screwdriver buzzed, a beam of blue glowing light arcing out and into the lock, which then clicked open. The Doctor opened the door quietly, then reached inside for the light switch. He glanced into the room, then looked at Saskia. "It doesn't look like Dr Price is here yet," he said. "Can you stay here and keep an eye out, whilst I look around?"
Saskia nodded and the Doctor quickly stepped inside the office and crossed to a large desk where he began checking the paperwork. A few moments later, he came back out and locked the door again.
"Come on. If we're quick we can get Marie's body to the TARDIS before anyone notices anything."
Saskia followed the Doctor along the corridor to another door. The Doctor used the Sonic Screwdriver again to unlock the door, then went inside. Saskia heard him quietly opening a metal door and glanced inside the room in time to see him pulling out a long metal table on which lay a shrouded body. He lifted the cover and glanced down at the face, which Saskia was too far away to see, then covered it again. He looked up and caught Saskia's eye, then beckoned her into the room.
"Give me a hand?" he asked quietly.
Between them they got the cellist's body onto a trolley and out into the corridor. The Doctor paused to relock the door, then they guided the trolley up the corridor to the TARDIS. Saskia unlocked the door, then opened them both to their fullest extent. They pushed the trolley inside and down the corridors to the medical bay. Saskia suppressed a small shudder. She had spent far more time than she liked in this room.

The Doctor grasped the end of the bed that was already in the medical bay. "Let's move this, rather than lifting her on and off the trolley," he said. "It will save a little time."
Saskia took the other end of the bed and they lifted it over to the far wall, away from the scanners and other medical equipment.
"Can you go and keep watch by the TARDIS doors for me, please?" the Doctor asked. "You'll be aware of anyone approaching long before they come into view."
"Of course." Saskia went back up the corridors and crossed the Control Room to lean against the door frame. As far as she could tell, there was no one on this level apart from them.
About forty minutes later the TARDIS hummed at her and Saskia went back to the medical bay. "All finished?" she asked the Doctor quietly as he buttoned up the sleeves of his pale blue shirt, then pulled on his suit jacket.
"Yes. Let's get her back as quick as we can."
They wheeled the trolley back along the corridor and the Doctor unlocked the door again. They got the cellist's body back in place and the Doctor was just relocking the door when Saskia sensed someone on their floor. She grabbed the Doctor's wrist and spoke telepathically. Someone's coming.
The Doctor nodded once, then they ran silently up the corridor to the TARDIS. They hurried inside, closing the doors quietly, and crossed to the console. "Let's get out of here," the Doctor said. Saskia nodded and they dematerialised the TARDIS out of the hospital corridor.
"Where are we going?" she asked.
"Plantation Road, I hope. We'll wait there for the pub to open, and I can analyse the data from the TARDIS scanners. We'll see if we can find out why Marie died, then try to ID our mystery man."
"I might go for a run whilst you're analysing that data," Saskia said. "I could do with the exercise and I'm not going to be any use to you with the data analysis."
The TARDIS rematerialised and the Doctor checked the scanner screen to see if they had landed in Plantation Road. Fortunately they had arrived opposite the pub.
"Right, I'm going to the medical bay to get started on that data. See you later," the Doctor said.
Saskia nodded, then pulled the scanner screen around the central column to where she stood, and called up a local map so she could decide where she wanted to go for her run. She saw they were near a large open space called Port Meadow, which looked perfect for the purpose. She could even run alongside the river on the towpath. Ten minutes later, dressed in a white t-shirt, black casual trousers and running shoes, Saskia let herself out of the TARDIS, locked the door, put her key back around her neck on its chain, then headed off towards Port Meadow.

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