Doctor Who Logo

Doctor Who: Time Lords Don't Get the Flu

By Leslie McMurtry

Author's Notes:

An idea that occurred to me when listening to the audio of "Reign of Terror" ... though adding in Martha and Ten was purely because of the fun I'd had writing "Over and Under."

Oh, and it references the North American DW comic #1 as written by Gary Russell.


Martha took vitamins. She didn’t play around with her health. She drank her orange juice, she washed her hands every time she returned to the TARDIS from some adventure or other. She didn’t smoke, she didn’t drink to excess, she kept away from fatty foods and exercised. (She’d gotten a lot of exercise running toward and away from things since she met the Doctor!) But her immune system wasn’t infallible, even though she had never felt healthier. Until she came down with cold-like symptoms. The flu, she thought weakly. The flu in space!

“Doctor,” she said, moving sluggishly into the console room, “I need bed rest.”

“Nah, come on,” he muttered. As usual, he wasn’t listening - he was puttering around, adjusting screens and recalibrating instruments. She wondered if he ever got ill, then remembered their scorching session with sun-creatures. She shook with the chills. “Places to go, things to see, people to meet! Wouldn’t you fancy the world’s best chocolate milk shake, right now?”

Martha’s stomach rumbled against her will, which he took to be a sign of assent. Actually, she grabbed her abdomen and rubbed involuntarily; she felt she was going to be sick. The central column began to hum and gleam. “Doctor, no. You don’t understand.” She clanked along the gantry until she was standing beside him. “I don’t feel well. I really can’t go out.”

The Doctor studied her seriously for about two seconds, then ran to the sofa where his long brown coat was splayed. He began digging through pockets until he produced a small orangish cylinder. “Paracetemol,” he announced and handed it to her.

“I thought you were deathly allergic.”

“Yeah, well, but you’re not.”

She rattled the pills angrily and felt like pitching them at his face. “Oi, Doctor, have you ever heard of projectile vomiting?”

He quirked an eyebrow. “You really are ill, aren’t you?” He rubbed his temples and looked worried. She sat on the sofa, fighting back her nausea.

“What’s the matter? Did we pick up some incurable virus in that mall or what?” He scratched the back of his neck. “And don’t be stupid and attribute it to ‘feminine problems,’” she snapped.

“I wouldn’t dream of being so medieval,” he said airily.

“Then what is it?”

The Doctor stood still and looked at Martha, hands crossed over his chest. “Symptoms, Dr. Jones?”

“Headache. Chills. Muscle ache. Fever. Sore throat.” She sneezed.



“How about yours? If you were thinking strictly in Earth illness terms.”

Martha decided to humor him. “I say the flu. In which case I might be contagious, airborne infection and all that.”

He shook his head imperceptibly. “Time Lords don’t get the flu.”

“You’re joking.”

“1794,” he said, pacing the gantry in front of her. “Susan, my-” he looked at her, then stopped. “Susan, my friend-”

“Yes, you’d mentioned her before.” Memory like a sieve sometimes.

“-was traveling with some of my other friends, Ian, and Barbara.”

“Ian? That’s a new one!” Martha tried for a moment to picture what Ian might look like.

“Right smack in the middle of the French Revolution. Barbara’s off to the guillotine, Ian’s in prison with a madman, and Susan’s feeling ill.”

“Where were you?” Despite herself, she had sat up when the Doctor started grabbing his coat lapels and preening vaguely off into the distance.

“Oh, that’s not important. Trying to rescue them, of course!” His smile and self-satisfied expression faded to one of sadness. “I’d gotten them into this mess, and Susan could barely move, could barely get up the energy to escape from the Conciergerie when Barbara made a break for it. She was so young...”

Martha would prefer to hear more about Ian; instead, it was another of those galling nymphettes the Doctor used to hang around with. “The point?”

“Same symptoms as you. Barbara took her to a physician, but he didn’t know anything.”

“Well, what was the diagnosis?”

“I didn’t realize until we’d all gotten back to the TARDIS,” said the Doctor, sitting next to Martha on the sofa. “Mononucleosis. Epstein-Barr virus. Known in some parts of the galaxy as the kissing disease.”

Martha’s jaw dropped open. The Doctor was perfectly serious, though there was a devious sparkle in his eyes. “That’s impossible!”

“Not at all. She was separated from us when we were in sixteenth-century Mexico, got thrown in a convent. She never really said, but at some point I think she snuck out, got to know some Aztec boys a little better-”

Martha jumped off the sofa, flushing. “But I mean, me! That’s just not...” She touched her lips and groaned. “Thanks, that was hot.” She had kissed someone. About four weeks ago. A human from the future, quite fit and all that, she hadn’t regretted her impulsive action at all. Until now. “Oh God,” she said and dropped weakly back onto the sofa.

The Doctor was rummaging around in his pockets again. “Nothing to be worried about, Martha.”

Her head in her hands. “Oh, you’ve no idea.”

He handed her a blue-green vial, definitely not paracetemol. “Another friend who traveled with me, he had the fifty-first century’s solution to-”

“Don’t even say it,” Martha snapped, taking the vial from him. He shrugged with a smile. She couldn’t conscience how much he seemed to be enjoying this.

“You’ll be right as rain with a few doses of that,” he said. “After some bed rest, of course. Guess I’ll have to eat all the milkshakes myself.”

“Don’t you dare!” She was looking into the vial with undisguised interest. She slipped it into her back pocket and made her way toward her room. “Doctor?” she asked.


“How did you know Susan didn’t have the flu?”

His voice was soft. “She wasn’t human. She was my granddaughter.”