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Ripping Time (4/?)

Title: Ripping Time
Fandom: Doctor Who
Characters: All original as explained in the notes
Word Count: 3060
Notes: This was dreamt up years ago when there was still talk of a theatrical release and before the new series. A friend and I got to talk of casting and came up with Ioan Gruffudd as the Doctor and Natalie Portman as his American companion Nora. Since we were writing this between the two of us, we had to wait for a reponse from the other before we continued. Anyway, once done it sat in my computer waiting for a bit of polish. Ray (my co-author) had also done a pic of Nora and the Doctor that I wanted to find before posting but it's lost somewhere. If I do eventually find it, I'll edit the post to include it. I will be posting in parts as it is rather long. If you find anything wrong, please let me know!



Bram shrugged out of his overcoat and placed it on the rack. He walked into the living room and greeted his mother with a kiss on her cheek. "Dinner smells wonderful, Ma."

"It's near done. I'd best check it now." She went into the kitchen.

"So how did the captain take your report about Rockefeller?" asked the Doctor.

He grabbed a biscuit off the tray. "We can't do anything more at the moment. We have to wait and see what happens."

"You mean wait for another killing," said Nora. "Concentrate your men along the waterfront."

"Why should I do that?"

"When you left me to look at the files, I noticed that all the murders occurred on or near the water. I just never had the chance to say anything until now."

"Did they now? Electricity and water."

"A shocking combination," Nora piped.

"Nora! That was horrible. I wanted to say it."

"You're getting slow in your old age, Doctor."

Da spoke, "No more talk of this. I don't want your mother any more worried than she is already. Now, let's go sit down for dinner."

Da sat at one end of the table and motioned for Nora to sit at his right. The Doctor sat next to her instigating a scramble by his sisters for the seat on his other side. Bram anticipated such a move and snuck in before them. With a You're-Gonna-Pay-For-This-Later look, they all sat on the other side, facing him instead. Bram was certain that Nora knew what was going on beyond his Ma's fine dinner, and he could have sworn he caught her suppressing a smile. Maybe his real niece then or a close friend. She doesn't act like he's hers. Well, Doctor, my respect for you just doubled.

Dinner was simple; mashed potatoes, green beans, squash, baked bread, and pork roast that Ma carried in herself. After Grace, Da began to carve, giving the first pieces to Nora and the Doctor. Plates were passed and Bram noticed that the Doctor filled his plate with vegetables and bread, not touching his meat. Though how he could eat with four pairs of eyes watching his every move, Bram didn't know. With two sisters of marriageable age, he should have given the Doctor some warning, but his sisters' husband hunting had been the farthest thing from his mind this afternoon.

The man was knowledgeable in varied topics and was able to converse in every subject brought up. Nora threw out a comment or two, but as she was near the same age as Maeve, that could explain her quiet observance.

"Where were you raised, Nora? You sound southern."

"I was born in Atlanta, Alanna. When my parents died, I was shuttled from home to home until...my uncle the Doctor arrived. I've been traveling with him for some months now acting as his assistant."

"Sounds interesting."

"Provides an unparalleled education as well," said the Doctor. "There is no better teacher than travel."

Ma rose from her seat and began to clear the dishes. Maeve and Deirdre immediately rose to help her, as did Nora and the Doctor. "No, you sit back down, love. You too, Doctor. You're guests. I have the girls to help me."

"If you're sure."

"Quite."

Bram smiled. "The gesture was appreciated, but Ma holds strict rules of hospitality."

From one of the other rooms, they heard a ringing. "Oh, you have a phone," declared the Doctor.

"We had it installed for emergencies. Most of our friends don't have one yet," answered Da.

Tara stuck her head around the corner. "Bram, it's for you."

"Sometimes I regret giving this number," he said, rising.

" 'A policeman's lot is not a happy one'," quoted the Doctor sagely.

"Ain't that the truth."

**********************************************************

No sooner had Bram left the table than Tara skipped into his vacated seat. She looked up at the Doctor's face. Oh, he was so dreamy with his deep brown eyes and waves of brown hair combed back like a mane. Bram's other coworkers were either ancient or just plain. The Doctor on the other hand was just the right age and handsome to boot. There was also an air of mystery, of excitement, about him that was near intoxicating. Now, if she could only get him to talk about himself. "What are you a doctor of?" She heard a sputtering sound and guessed it to be Nora. She ignored it and stared at the Doctor waiting for an answer.

"Tara, you know better than to ask such a question," Da admonished. "I do apologize, Doctor, for her directness."

"No need to apologize. It's a question Tara felt needed asking." He turned to face her. "I have a number of degrees in various disciplines, one of the more recent, a medical degree earned in Glasgow."

"But you're so young, Doctor. How did you earn so many degrees in such a short time," Da said clearly intrigued.

"The Doctor's smarter than a barrow full of foxes."

"True, I am a genius. It can be extremely embarrassing at times."

"Especially to those who are close to him."

At that moment, Bram returned and the Doctor looked up at him. "Bad news?"

"We have to go back to headquarters. The captain has called a meeting regarding the case. He wants you and Nora to be there as well."

"Well, then we mustn't keep him waiting," said the Doctor as he stood.

"Thank you for a lovely time," said Nora as she shook Da's hand.

"I want you to know that the door is always open to you both," he replied as the family walked them to the door."

"Yes, don't be strangers," Ma told them.

Taking advantage of helping Nora with her wrap, Tara spoke so only she could hear. "I've been trying to get the Doctor's attention for the entire night, Nora. What's wrong with him?"

"Nothing. See, he's smitten with somebody else."

"Oh, drat, the luck. All the good ones are taken."

"Yeah, that's the truth."

***********************************************************

The Doctor did not seem to be interested in the body, and his disinterest suited Nora just fine especially on a full stomach. Instead, he pulled a brass box out of his pocket and examined the sand that surrounded the body.

"When did you have time to cobble that together?"

"Hmmn? Oh, while you wasted precious hours sleeping."

"Excuse me for being human."

"No need to excuse yourself, Nora." He smiles. "I wouldn't have it any other way."

"And that box of tricks is telling you what exactly, Doctor?" Bram asked as he moved away from the corpse.

"Ah, well, you see since our friend over there was electrocuted and since this time..."

"Ixnay on the Imetay, Doctor."

"The bottom line is that lightning gun will likely be leaking a charge. Sand is silicate. Crystal you see. An excellent source to contain electricity. This box detects electricity, and there's a nice trail leading from the body." He looks up from the box. "Over by that shed."

Nora followed the Doctor, and she saw Bram pull out his revolver. For some reason seeing him with a gun seemed strange. Bram was a ratiocinator, but then Sherlock Holmes was a thinker as was the Doctor, and she saw the Doctor kill things and on occasion poor excuses for people. One even with a gun. Perhaps, it was because that after the game has been puzzled out, there's only one other thing to do cast judgment. In the Doctor's case, he had to be harsh because the things he faced would never be contained in a prison of any kind. Nora smiled. She thought of the Daleks grating the phrase "At-ti-ca" over and over again while hovering back and forth behind bars.

The Doctor pointed his box at the shed and walked around the seemingly inoffensive shelter. Nora felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand erect. She knew on a primal, human level that something bad was in that shed.

The Doctor picked the lock. He opened the door. A charred woman's corpse fell out.

"Why!"

"It was interrupted. It killed them both and attempted to conceal the murders. It shoved her into the box. It then went back for the man, but it was interrupted. They were probably together." He frowned. "Sharing a lover's night, and this thing came along and killed them."

"Thing, Doctor?"

"Hmmn?"

"You said thing."

"Metaphorically speaking, Bram. The Doctor simply hates it when men or women kill. He feels that they remove themselves from the species. Isn't that right, Doctor?"

"Come with me. The trail doesn't end here."

The Doctor led Nora and Bram to the wooden steps.

"We've lost him, haven't we?"

"Not at all."

"But wood's not a conductor."

"Nora?"

"The nails are iron, Bram." She smiled, gathered her skirt and followed the Doctor. He stood on the concrete promenade. For most the trail would have ended here. The Doctor was not most. He stared at a dwelling that leaned over like an old hound waiting to die. Nora had seen that look before. The Nazi had taken her hostage in the car. A gun was pointed at her head. The Doctor's eyes burned blue electric in the rear view mirror. "Drive!" her captor had shouted. The Nazi should have kept quiet. The Doctor had buckled her in himself. He floored the car and smashed it into the marble statue. The Nazi flew out the front window, and the glass had sliced him to ribbons, but the Doctor was out there on the hood too. Nora screamed. She tore off her belt and ran to him. His belt had not been strong enough to hold him, and the Doctor had died saving her, or so she thought, for then something alien happened. Something wonderful.

"Bram!"

"Jenny! What's she doing here?"

The Doctor pointed his box of tricks at the scarlet-haired woman. Red-hair again! There's something in the Y chromosome. There has to be. She studied the Doctor's expression, and his poker face relaxed when he saw the zero reading on the meter. She looked back and admired the woman's style of dress. She complimented the fire that nature had given her with a smart orange-red parasol, matching skirt and a blouse of gold and red stripes.

"Sashaying apparently."

The woman walked up to the trio, and her grin was dazzling.

"It is you. Why didn't you answer?"

"I--something in my throat. This is my Doctor. Erm. Doctor."

"Doctor, Doctor?"

"Just Doctor, and you would be this Jenny I have heard Bram speak of so fondly."

Nora watched as all the color--and there was a lot of it--retreated from Bram's face. She smiled and took the Doctor's arm.

"Doctor, why doesn't Jenny come along with us? Every good detective needs a Watson."

"Or a Nora." The Doctor grinned.

"If you be Nickie," Nora murmured.

"Hmmn?"

"Nothing."

"Oh, I'd hate to be an imposition."

"Nonsense. The merrier the men, the more able the Robin Hood."

"Doctor?"

"Yes, Bram?"

"A word in your ear if I may."

"Certainly. Excuse me."

Nora watched him step aside to where Bram stood. She didn't know the man, but she deduced--ugh. Now, the Doctor had her doing it--he was more than concerned over Jenny's welfare and the Doctor's sanity.

"I hope this isn't over me."

"It is I'm afraid. See, Bram's probably saying something like 'He cares too much about you to see you hurt.'"

"Does he?" She smiled and twirled her parasol.

"Yes. He does. To which the Doctor is replying with something like 'More people are harmed when they're not with me.'"

"This Doctor of yours thinks much about himself."

"Not nearly as much as he pretends, and he's right. The best thing to do when you're in any dangerous situation is to make sure the Doctor's with you." Nora beamed. "You'll be protected in triplicate though Jenny. Bram, me and the Doctor."

"I'm not exactly a wilting rose, Miss--Nora is it?"

"Nora without the miss. Pleased to meet you. Bram just lost."

"How can you tell?"

"He has a look that's known worldwide as 'I just argued with the Doctor.' It's right up there with 'I'm with stupid.'"

"You are a breath of air, Nora. I can see why the Doctor likes having you around."

"If I wasn't, he'd end up talking to himself. Probably go nuttier than a squirrel hutch." Nora grinned.

Bram and the Doctor returned.

"Right, well that's settled. Follow me, and don't stray."

The Doctor led the expedition to the dwelling he spotted. A rusting padlock and an equally disintegrating band of iron barred the door. It may have actually supported the walls. The dwelling looked so stable that a sneeze might bring it down. Nora peered at the hut. She smirked.

"This isn't what it appears to be, is it, Doctor?"

"Took you long enough." The Doctor grinned. "Yes, somebody wants us to think that it's old and decrepit. Useless and therefore something that should be left well alone. Bram, you're the detective. Tell me what you see?"

Nora watched Bram peer at the shed. If the Doctor's behavior as venerable teacher bothered Bram he made not one protest, verbal or reflexive.
"The wood's old-looking, but it's not old."

"Top marks, Bram."

"Really?" Jenny stepped forward to take a closer look. "Oh. The dirt. It's the same color as the stuff on the ground. If it were really old wood, the dirt and dust wouldn't be the same, would it?"

"No, it wouldn't. Top marks also to you, Jenny. I can see why you're in Bram's eye so much."

"Am I?" She turned around and looked at Bram whose skin color could cover beds. "I'm learning much today, Bram. Why didn't you say these things to me?"

"I was--I was afraid I didn't--I don't have much to offer you, Jenny."

"You have the most important thing to offer me, Bram." She took his hands.

"Time enough for sparking later." The Doctor grinned. "We have a lightning gun to disable."

"That was horrible."

"Thank you, Nora. Now, where did the creature enter?"

The Doctor's box of tricks made it plain. He felt the wall and ran his fingers against the grain. In seconds, the Time Lord found the depression in the wood that sent up a portion of the wall. The Doctor produced his anachronistic penlight.

"Are you an inventor, Doctor?"

"I think he's much more than that, Jenny."

The Doctor ignored the speculation and led them into the darkness. He swung the beam around to dope out the mechanism of the doorframe. It was a simple series of pulleys, rope and a counterweight that the depression dropped.

"Primitive but ingenious," he commented.

"Why go to all the trouble?" Jenny asked. "Just to hide the inside of a shed?"

"Astute, Jenny." The Doctor waved his box about and shined the beam to floor. The outline of a trap door could easily be seen amid the dusty floor.

"Wait. Where are the footprints?"

"You're willing to go beyond your bailiwick, Bram, but you still need a gentle push on occasion. What did Mr. Doyle say?"

"'When you've eliminated the impossible whatever remains however improbable must be the truth.'"

"You suspect we hunt a creature and not a man or woman. How then do you know it walks?"

"It flies?"

"Congratulations, Bram. You've reached the point of your graduation."

The Doctor searched for a way to open the trap door and found another ingenious but simple protective device. The wooden handle recessed into the door itself. The door opened without a creak.

The Doctor shined his beam down the tunnel. It glinted and gleamed off rungs of a ladder.

"Shouldn't somebody stay up here in case something goes wrong? Nora or Jenny?"

"No. We all go down together. If things get rough downstairs. Somebody escapes upstairs and brings the cavalry. What happens when anybody is left alone on guard is that they get injected with poison by a Cybermat. Follow me, quiet as you can."

They looked at her. Nora smiled and shrugged her shoulders. The Doctor had so many companions in the past, and she didn't know of them all. Not all of them kept records of their adventures either. She tried to remember who it was that was involved with Cybermats. Cyber-Mat. Mat. There was a Matt Janes in school. Of course, the one who did keep immaculate records. Sarah Jane Smith. She liked that one. The gal had spunk.

Their descent placed them on a brassen wheel. The Doctor turned the wheel, and it made not one squeak. He dropped inside whatever it was, and when Nora followed, she still had no idea where on earth she happened to be. She did know it was still earth. She felt no time distortions or Transmat effects. The technology also didn't appear alien. It looked like something from that Jules Verne might describe. The brass trimmings gleamed off a glass body. The Doctor's beam revealed some sort of control with brass levers and a brass-trimmed pilot's seat.

"My word. Do you know what this is?"

He shined his light out of the cockpit, and she still hadn't a clue.

Nora clenched her teeth. She drilled her glare at the back of the Doctor's shoulders. He lived for this.

She made a dolly-face, fluttered her eyelashes and squeaked, "No, Doctor, what is it?"

"Well, Nora, since you asked, and you did ask." She didn't have to see his grin. The weasel. She held back a smile and sat in one of the four passenger seats behind the pilot's chair.

"Perhaps a demonstration is in order."

"Is that wise, Doctor?"

Thank you, Bram. That's the other one I didn't want to say.

"Wisdom is gained from experience and error, Bram." He swiveled around and said, "You needn't worry. This time. I know what I'm doing."

Nora relaxed.

The Doctor pulled down a lever, and Nora heard gears shift and a giant whoosh of air.

"I know what this is!"

Click.

"You see those curves on the edges of your seats? Grab onto them."

Click.

The Doctor gripped his own seat and watched as the lever of its own slammed forward.

Suddenly, whatever was outside the glass cockpit rushed at Nora. She was right.

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