Angelic Paranoia

Paranoidangel's Fanfic

Doctor Who

Happiness is a Honeymoon Cruise

Rating: General
Summary: The Doctor and Missy infiltrate a honeymoon cruise.
Notes: Written for lurking_latinist

I sigh, watching all the happy couples eating dinner. Usually I like working on honeymoon cruises: most people are too loved up to bother complaining about anything. It's an easy job. Usually. Except I broke up with my partner a few days ago. Being around so many couples makes the pain of separation much worse.

The only bright spot in my life is the bet I have with my friend, Hedde, which is that this couple I spotted aren't going to last the cruise. After all, if I'm unhappy everyone else should be, right? Wait, that's not right.

But I first noticed them on the way to their cabin last night. There were plenty of other people going in that direction that they didn't notice me. Or anything else, I think. They were so into each other they were kissing in the corridor and it was a while before he managed to disengage long enough to open the door. But once they were inside it sounded like they were having an argument. I couldn't make out the words, but I could hear the raised voices.

It's not that I'm betting against their happiness because they're older than the average honeymooner. We often get people on second or third or twelfth marriages. Or people on their first, but they married later in life. Sometimes they show more affection in public than the younger couples.

No, it's because this couple remind me of people who've been friends for years and then married each other because no one else did. I think they're trying to be into each other, but deep down they're not really.

Right now it doesn't look like I'm going to win the bet. She's taking food from his plate, acting like she's going to eat it, giggling, then feeding it to him. He smiles, but doesn't laugh. I think she's more into him than he is into her. It won't end well. Relationships never do.

After dinner I follow them. We're taught to be unobtrusive. Staff should be able to do all the things they're employed for without being seen. Even our uniforms are designed to blend into the background. And I'm not on shift until the morning. Early morning. In eight hours time. But it's fine, it's not like I would sleep if I went to bed anyway.

They end up on the deck, leaning on the rail, looking out at the view. It's a good view tonight. The planets are aligned so Erinyes is a fantastic sight, with Tascalla behind, peeping out over Erinyes's rings. Not that I spend that long looking: I've seen it a hundred times before. And who cares when you don't have anyone to share it with?

The couple I'm watching are leaning into each other, talking quietly. But something seems to have upset the woman and she pulls away, taking a step back.

I wonder if I can get closer to hear what they're saying, but I'm distracted by the sound of wings. A flock of small, blue birds have penetrated the ship's shield. I've never seen them before, but I recognise them from pictures. They're the Blue Birds of Happiness.

They circle the deck. Everyone's staring at them now, some exclaiming. They are beautiful birds with a bright blue plumage that shines in the lamp light. One of them lands on the arm of the woman I've been watching. Which is terrible.

They're named Blue Birds of Happiness because they're attracted to happy people. Or so rumour says. It means I'm definitely going to lose my bet.

And then one lands on me. I stare at it, open mouthed. I'm not happy. I won't be until I get over this break up. Except I never want to get over my ex. Maybe I'll be unhappy for the rest of my life.

And he's seen me. The man I've been watching.

"You." He points and comes over to me. "You know what these are?"

I nod. "Blue Birds of Happiness. They're attracted to happy people. Or they should be." I'm not sure any more. I had heard something about the rumours being wrong and they're actually attracted to unhappy people. But no one believes that. But maybe they're wrong. And the bird's claws are starting to dig into my arm.

He pulls a silver tube out of his pocket. From the way he holds it out I can tell it's a scanner. The woman comes over, frowning. But she's pulled the bird off her and is holding it tightly in one hand. The bird's tweeting angrily and trying to peck her hand. She can certainly look after herself, which probably explains why the man focussed on me instead of her.

"I don't think it's attracted to happiness," the man said.

"Oh, really?" The woman's tone tells me she doesn't think much of that. She's already come to that conclusion herself, same as I have.

The bird's claws have broken skin and I'm gritting my teeth, watching drops of blood well up. And then it gets worse.

The bird pecks at my arm.

I cry out in pain and shake my arm, trying to get rid of it.

The woman is fast: she reaches out and grabs at it with her other hand, pulling it away from my arm.

But strangely, despite the pain, I feel happy. Like I did before the break-up.

"It's not attracted to happiness," the man repeated, but this time like he'd had a revelation. "It's making you happy. It's eating unhappiness."

The woman makes a face at it. "I deserve to be happy."

It's a strange thing to say. Doesn't everyone deserve happiness? Including me, I realise. I smile. I haven't felt this good in a long time. Maybe the break-up really was better for both of us after all.

The man steps closer. "What's your name?"


"Dida, do you know what's it like to always be happy?"

I shake my head. I think I did once, but I've forgotten.

"Never again will you cry at a sad film. Or feel empathy for an upset friend. And when you feel the euphoria of real happiness, this is the baseline you'll go back to. This will feel like unhappiness. Eventually the highs won't be so high and you'll be unhappy all the time. You don't want that."

I don't know. He makes it sound terrible, but it's hard to imagine. I'm just happy to be feeling happy again.

"I wonder what happens if I kill them," the woman says, to herself, I think.

The man swings round to face her. "Missy! Don't."

"I don't kill everything," she says, which should be a worrying statement. But it doesn't worry me. "I thought it might release the emotions it ate."

"And if it doesn't you've killed our only solution."

She sighs. "Spoilsport," I think I hear her say, but I'm not sure.

He runs his scanner over the birds in her hands. The others are still circling above. One of them is getting closer to him, I notice, but I don't say anything. I think he needs a bit of happiness in his life too.

The woman - Missy - leans over me, holding the bird that had pecked me above my arm. I can see her hand squeezing it. "You give that back," she says to it in a low tone.

It does, regurgitating a brown sludge into the cut in my arm. It hurts more than the peck did and I black out.

When I wake I'm in the infirmary. My arm is bandaged and numb. I'm on my own and a wave of unhappiness crashes over the delightful numbness that comes upon first waking up. I guess it worked, but I'm not happy about it.

Although I'm not alone, I realise. Yes, there's no one beside my bed, worrying about me, but there is someone in the infirmary. It's Missy, opening a cupboard, swiping something and stashing it in her jacket before I can see what it is.

I push myself up using my good arm. "What are you doing?"

She turns and smiles at me. "Just having a look round. Don't tell the Doctor, will you?"

There isn't a doctor or nurse in sight, so there's no one to tell. And if I did I'd have to explain how I knew her and why I didn't stop her and it wasn't worth the trouble. If anyone asks I was unconscious and didn't see anything.

Before I can answer, her husband walks in, pausing in the doorway to make a grand entrance. Missy shuts the cupboard door and stands with her back to it, an innocent expression on her face.

"I've made sure no one will go up on deck," he says. "Those birds won't be pecking anyone else."

"Good for you, Doctor." She does an arm pump, like he's scored a point.

He frowns at her.

So he's a doctor? And she doesn't call him by his name?

"What have you found?" he asks her, which confuses me. Didn't she ask me not to tell him what she'd been doing? Maybe they're so in tune that he already knows. I hope not, because then I'll lose my bet.

It turns out he's talking about something else, because she heads to the computer terminal. "All logged in and with officer access."

He frowns, looking around. "What happened to the medical personnel in here?"

"Having a nice sleep in a cupboard." When his frown doesn't abate she smiles and pats his arm. "They'll be fine. But who sets their computer system up so neither of us can hack it but then leaves it open in a semi-public place?" She puts her hands on her hips. "I told you we should have brought the TARDIS. Then we wouldn't have to go through this ridiculous ruse."

For a moment I think I see a hurt expression on his face. "Don't worry, you won't have to go through it much longer," he says through gritted teeth. "You've been in here long enough, did you at least start a search?"

"I do know what I'm doing. I'm not one of your pets." She glares at him for a moment before turning back to the screen and pointing. "There are two people who tested positive for Contralitis Galculus.

We are all scanned for contagious diseases when we embark - crew and passengers alike. But this one I'd never heard of.

He nodded. "The telltale sign of a shapeshifter pretending to be someone else."

"Two of them. One for each of us." She sounds enthusiastic about that prospect.

"No," he says firmly. "We stick together. They could be dangerous."

"You care about me, how sweet." She leans closer to him.

He coughs, but it sounds fake to me.

I sit up properly. I can't work these two out at all. "If you're going to take over the ship I'll have to report you." It's a risk, as they give the impression that they could easily incapacitate me, or worse. But it might be worth it.

"Us?" Missy laughs. It makes me think that's their plan exactly.

"There's a shapeshifter posing as one of the crew. Maybe the captain. I don't know what they're going to do, but it's nothing good. It never is." The Doctor comes closer to my bed. "But don't worry, we've dealt with people like them many times before. We're experts."

"You won't tell anyone will you?" She comes over to me as well. "We don't want the shapeshifter to get suspicious and escape before we can catch them."

I'm still not sure about them, but if they are up to no good then playing along is the safest thing I can do. And if they are doing what they say they are, then perhaps I can get something from it. "I won't, in return for a favour."

I wait until they leave, then slip from the bed. I'm not wearing much, but nearby is a white coat, so I put that on. A quick glance around the bed reveals no shoes. I'll have to come back for those later. Maybe I can pretend I've had a bad reaction to whatever drugs they've given me. After all, sensible people don't walk around bare foot in a white coat.

They haven't got far and they're outlandishly dressed, so they're easy to spot. I hadn't realised before how much they stand out. I was too busy wondering if they would break up before the end of the cruise.

They head to the deck, but the entrance to the stairs is blocked by some sort of invisible wall. At the bottom of the stairs is a purple umbrella. Somehow the wall is coming from it. The only reason I can see the wall at all is that Gage, the cabin boy, is trying to get through it.

His job's misnamed - he's older and taller than I am. He's merely bottom of the pile on the ship and he seems to like it that way. It's a quiet life, he told me once. But it's not quiet now. And why does he want to get up on deck anyway?

A bird flies down the staircase, to hit the invisible wall. I jump back, even though I'm nowhere near it. Gage doesn't.

"What does a Xenon want with a Blue Bird?" the Doctor asks.

Now Gage jumps. "Nothing. It wasn't me." He doesn't sound convincing.

The Doctor pulls out his scanner.

"You've been a very naughty boy." Missy's tone is like she's talking to a small child rather than an adult.

"I need one of those birds." Gage does look desperate.

I step forward, not caring that it means the Doctor and Missy will find out I've followed them. Gage is my friend. Was. Maybe. "Are you a shapeshifter?"

Now he looks guilty and I think that he is. He has been quiet the past few cruises and that would explain why.

"What have you done with Gage?" I step closer and cross my arms to try and appear menacing, despite the difference in our heights.

"He's fine, I swear." The shapeshifter holds his hands up. "I paid him to take his place. He's found a better job. I wouldn't hurt him, it's against our code of conduct."

That's a relief, assuming he's telling the truth. I can't tell if he is, but he sounds more believable than the Doctor or Missy. "Why are you here? Why did you want to be a cabin boy?"

"I wanted to be someone no one noticed." He sighs. "I heard the Blue Birds of Happiness' territory intersects the ship's route. I heard they make you happy. They're attracted to unhappiness."

That much is true, it seems.

"My wife left me," he explains mournfully, before I can ask. "But it's funny they should turn up now. I'm quite enjoying this job. I'm beginning to think she did me a favour."

"It could be me." After all, I was pecked by one of them. "I recently had a break-up too."

"I'm sorry," not-Gage says.

"No." The Doctor steps in. "It wasn't Dida they went for first, it was Missy."

We all turn to her and she holds her hands up. "I didn't do anything."

The Doctor steps closer to her and lowers his voice, but I can still hear what he's saying. "But are you all right? Are you unhappy?"

She glares at him. When she speaks her voice is at a normal volume. "I'm stuck in a vault, what do you think?"

He shakes his head. "You're not in a vault now."

"No. Because Nardole refused to come on this cruise with you. So you turned to me, your oldest friend, as your second choice."

That explains the friends-vibe I was getting from them.

"I didn't think you'd want to." He raises his arms a little.

She leans closer so they're nearly nose-to-nose. "You didn't think I'd want to be married to you?"

"Pretend to be married to me."

She waves a hand like that's inconsequential.

He sighs. "What matters is getting those birds away from the ship. And dealing with this shapeshifter before he does any harm."

"The birds will leave once we travel too far from their flight path." She doesn't sound like she cares about the birds, or anyone they might peck, at all.

"I don't want to harm anyone," not-Gage says, wide-eyed.

"One of the birds harmed me." I hold up my arm, although there's nothing to see apart from the bandage.

"I'm sorry. You've been nice to me." He touches my arm lightly. "I don't want to hurt any of Gage's friends."

I rest my hand over his. "I understand. I know you didn't do it on purpose."

Missy makes a face, which we all ignore.

Not-Gage smiles, then turns to the Doctor. "I'll resign when we get back to port. Let someone who deserves it have this job. That's punishment enough, right?"

The Doctor agrees, but I feel guilty about it. If he's enjoying the job and doing it well, why not let him keep it? If he's not attracting the Blue Birds of Happiness, then he's not going to do any harm. But maybe I can talk to him about that later.

The next night is the last night of travel before we reach Daurier Beta. Everyone gets to enjoy the port for a day. Well, everyone apart from the crew. After listening closely - it's not stalking when there's a bet at stake - I learn that Missy and the Doctor are leaving to get a fast ship back to where they've left theirs. At least I think it's a ship.

There's a big crowd in the ballroom. Hedde and I have just come off shift, still wearing our uniforms, and we watch their very public argument.

"I don't know why I thought I'd ever want to be married to you," Missy shouts. She looks like she's having a good time, despite everything.

But the Doctor looks hurt. Maybe he's a better actor.

The musicians have stopped playing and she's definitely noticed, smiling at them like she's relishing the attention. "I'd rather live in a vault with only a piano for company than spend another night with you."

"That can be arranged." He takes her hand to drag her out of the room. Although she's not exactly resisting. "Next time I'll marry Nardole. Even if he's not as good at er... dancing."

"I'll show you dancing," she says on their way out. The way she says it I'm not sure she's talking about actual dancing.

I turn to Hedde, smiling and she pays up.

Gage - when I asked his name he said he preferred Gage - catches my eye across the room and smiles. Maybe this cruise hasn't been so bad after all.

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