Characters: Martha, the Red Dwarf crew
Notes: Season 2 of Red Dwarf ends with Lister discovering he’s pregnant with twins due to some parallel-universe hopping. By the season 3 opener, it’s somehow been resolved offscreen, and Holly has changed sex. This is set between those episodes. For Martha, it’s before Utopia.
Summary: The last human being in the universe is pregnant. Lucky he’s got Martha around. Red Dwarf crossover.
The metal door was too solid to break down, which didn’t stop her having a good try.
“Stupid,” Martha repeated to herself as she slammed her rapidly bruising shoulder against the door. “Stupid, stupid...” Stupid because she’d known there was something wrong with those two on the space station. They’d looked like ghosts, like they weren’t really there, and one of them had a metal H stuck to his forehead, though she’d assumed that was some weird future fashion; and when the H-less one had shouted, “Scuse me, are any of you lot doctors, midwives, that sort of thing? We’ve got an emergency” – “Could have just ignored him,” she muttered, knowing full well that she wouldn’t, couldn’t have done any such thing. “Could’ve gone and got the Doctor, could’ve let somebody else handle it, but oh no, I just had to say, yep, I’m almost a doctor...”
“Ah, good to see you up and about,” someone said – a tinny, intercom-filtered voice. “Everything tickety-boo?”
Martha stopped, panting, and looked around for the source of the voice. It was trying to sound very, very reasonable and was only managing very, very smarmy. Not the accent of the man who’d been looking for a doctor.
“Who are you?”
“Listen,” it continued, “I can tell you’re a tiny bit miffed. And who can blame you? You very kindly offered to help a couple of strangers and what thanks do you get for it? Dragged into another universe...”
“...no guarantees you’ll ever be able to get back... anyway, what I’m trying to say is that Lister’s going to be in to see you in a minute, and since this whole thing was his frankly rather stupid and bordering on criminal idea, if you feel like working out your frustration with some physical assault, we’ll all understand.”
Martha said evenly, “Go back to the bit about us being in a different universe.” Because if that was true – if she hadn’t just been beamed onto some spaceship but had been taken to a whole different universe – then a situation she’d thought was pretty bad was actually really, indescribably terrible.
“A good swift kick to the nads,” the voice suggested. “That’ll teach the smegger.”
“I honestly am sorry.”
“So you said.”
“Really really sorry.”
The room she’d woken up in had bunkbeds in it. She was scrunched up on the lower bunk, glaring out at her kidnapper. He had, she thought, quite a nice face, and he looked like he meant his apology. Neither of those things helped. She folded her arms. “Go on, then,” she said. “Is there some big medical emergency? Or has your universe, I dunno, run out of women and you’re stealing them to breed with?”
Despite the real contrition on his face, she could see the smirk fighting to break through. “Seeing as you mention it...”
“There’s no other human beings in this universe. They’re extinct. All apart from you and me.”
“If you say one word about repopulating the species,” Martha told him, “I’ll take your mate’s advice about that kicking.”
Lister winced. “I’ve already got a bit of a head start on the repopulating, actually.” And he launched into a story she would have thought was the ramblings of a lunatic, if she hadn’t seen three madder things every day before lunch since she’d met the Doctor.
“And the mother – father – is a female you from a parallel universe.”
“Hey, I’ve gone home with worse.”
Martha let her head fall back against the cool frame of the bunk. “So you want me to hang around here for seven or eight months to do a caesarean section.”
“There’s no way I’m having them naturally. We’ve only got enough epidurals for seventeen hundred normal pregnancies. No way’d that be enough.”
“Seven or eight months.”
“We’ll put you back after,” he said. “Holly says he’ll have the problems with the Holly Hop Drive sorted by then. Come on, it’ll be a good skive, a couple of months off work – it can’t be that brilliant, can it, being the doctor on that space station place?”
When she answered, it was slowly and deliberately. “I didn’t work there. I don’t live on a space station a million billion years from Earth. I travel around in my friend’s time machine. And if he leaves before you get me back, I’ll never get back to my own time. I’ll be stuck in the future, on that space station, forever. Do you get that? Do you understand?”
“Oh,” Lister said. “Right.” And, after a minute: “Did I already say sorry?”
That had been three days ago.
“I think she’s coming round.” Lister swirled the last scrap of naan bread around the remains of his breakfast madras. “She didn’t call me names or anything when I saw her yesterday. Totally blanked me. That’s progress.” He reached for his sixth poppadom and tsked at the face Rimmer made. “Hey, I’m eating for three, here.”
“These babies,” Rimmer said. “Are we quite sure they’re human and not, possibly, two large portions of vindaloo on pilau rice?”
“Don’t listen to him, boys.” And to set a good example, he didn’t listen to Rimmer’s noises of complaint when he licked the plate clean. “I was thinking, y’know. If we can’t get Martha back home, or her mate’s gone off without her, maybe she’d stay with us.”
Rimmer snorted. “She’s a doctor,” he said, trying to sound as if his experience with that profession was a lot more extensive than furtive ownership of a much-viewed copy of the Vixen Video classic I’m Not a Proctologist But I’ll Have A Look Anyway.
“’So’,” he mimicked. “So she’s a beautiful, intelligent, sophisticated woman, Lister! Educated. Used to the finer things in life. Stranded in the future or not, I can’t see her throwing her lot in with the likes of us, can you? ‘What I’ve always secretly wanted to do with my life’,” he said in a girly falsetto, “’is to bum around the cosmos with a hologram, the universe’s slobbiest man, and a semi-evolved cat who keeps asking me to sleep with him. What fun! Just what I went to medical school for!’”
“But apart from that, what’s wrong with us?” Lister protested. “Rimmer, I don’t care that she’s a doctor. I don’t care if she’s Doctor Frankenstein and she wants to stick the Cat’s brain in a jar. I just want her to stick around, because even when she thinks I’m scum and she’s pretending I don’t exist she’s still a million times better company than you.”
When they had both gone – storming out of the sleeping quarters in opposite directions – the Cat uncurled from the small space under the table and looked suspiciously around the empty room.
“Nobody gonna be taking my brain.” He tugged his collar upwards. “Neck bolts with this colour? I don’t think so. Anybody tries that on me, I wouldn’t like to be them.” He spent the rest of the day slinking around the cargo decks, though, well out of sight of the lady human, just in case she tried anything.
The problem was – okay, the problem was she was in the wrong universe with no way back and she was probably never going to see her family or the Doctor again, but apart from that, the problem was – men couldn’t get pregnant in this universe. The ship’s computer, Holly, had seemed sure of that (“Ninety-eight percent... ish”) but she’d worked out in the last couple of days that Holly’s judgement wasn’t the best, and she’d set to work in Red Dwarf’s medical library. She’d read for hours every day, hoping that concentrating on the problem would stop her thinking of home, and it had worked; except that by now she was sure that Holly was right. Men couldn’t get pregnant. They didn’t have the bits. She’d pulled up Lister’s medical record just in case he was a hermaphrodite and hadn’t thought to mention it, but it all looked normal, apart from the double appendix and the levels of curry in his bloodstream.
“Holly,” she said, “he definitely is pregnant, isn’t he? This isn’t some practical joke you and Rimmer are playing on him?”
“Nope,” Holly said. “He’s one hundred percent up the duff, renting out the downstairs bedroom and on the train to sprogtown.”
“Okay.” Martha fiddled with the end of her pen and finally asked, as if it had just popped into her head, “Holly, didn’t you used to be a man?”
The blonde woman on the monitor looked shifty. “No. Not that I remember. When was this?”
“This morning. And since I’ve been on this ship.”
“Oh, when I used to be a man.” She rolled her eyes. “That’s all the rage in this universe. All computers have head sex changes.”
“Sorry, I didn’t know.”
It wasn’t easy to shrug with no shoulders. “No harm done.”
Martha pulled the text screen back towards her. “Can you bring up the next journal, please?”
When Holly had been installed, back when she’d had an IQ of 6000, she’d been able to appear on as many screens as she liked and conduct thousands of conversations simultaneously. These days that was a bit of a drain on her resources – talking to one fairly bright human at once was more than she could easily keep up with, as Martha’s stay was proving – so she quietly vanished from the medical library and appeared on the screen in Lister and Rimmer’s quarters.
“No luck,” she said. “I don’t think she is a lesbian.”
Lister didn’t look up from his comic. “That’s ten quid you owe me, Rimmer.”
“I quite like the head, though,” Holly said, already giving serious thought to keeping it.
Martha sprinted around the corner and almost ploughed into Lister, who ducked out of the way, arms instinctively curling around his stomach. “Scuse me! Pregnant person walking here.”
“The pregnancy’s accelerated,” she blurted out. “I mean, it’s obvious, that’s why you’ve got so big in the last day.”
He looked down at his belly. His feet were somewhere down there, he presumed. “You sure it’s not just the curries? And I’m not that big.”
“Compared to who? Sorry. Sorry. I think you lot are rubbing off on me.”
If I wasn’t hugely pregnant, Lister thought miserably, that’d be the perfect setup for a really great chat-up line.
“This is brilliant,” Martha said. “The babies will be big enough to deliver tonight. I’ll be home tomorrow!”
“Great,” Lister said.
Martha’s optimism lasted up until the point where she asked Lister to show her the technology that would take her back across the universes.
“Is that it?”
‘It’ was a cardboard box in the drive room. It had three buttons stuck to it; ‘stop’, ‘start’, and, haphazardly placed between them, ‘return’. Lister pointed to the return button. “That one’s new.”
She didn’t say anything.
“It was just stop and start before. Bit basic. Not what you’d call high-tech universe-hopping kit.”
Nothing from Martha.
“But that one’ll take us back to the last universe we were in. Which is your one.”
Martha sagged into one of the command crew’s chairs. “I’m stuck here forever.”
Lister was all ready to muster himself to a speech about how important it would be if she stayed; how much better everything on the ship would be with her here; how he knew what it was like to suddenly find yourself cut off from your own time, because he’d been brought out of stasis to find three million years had gone by and everybody he knew was dead.
It was a good speech. He’d practised it. But when he opened his mouth to start he got as far as “Look, Doctor Jones – Martha -” before a stabbing agony below his stomach demanded his full attention.
Martha was already beside him. “What is it?”
“Oh smeg,” he gasped. “I think I’m having a baby.”
“Babies,” Holly reminded him.
“You’re a load of bleeding help, Hol!” Someone squeezed his hand. He was in such a panic that it took him a second to cop on that it was Martha – of course it was, who else could it be?
The other last human in the universe smiled at him.
“’Trust me, I’m a doctor?’” he suggested weakly.
“I’m not actually qualified yet,” she pointed out. Lister moaned. “But I’m all you’ve got, and vice versa, so... let’s get these babies out and see if your cardboard box thing can get me home.”
“There you are. Where’ve you been?”
“Delivering a pregnant man’s twin babies in another universe.”
“Don’t be silly, Martha,” the Doctor said vaguely, aiming the hammer at just the right point on the console. “There’s no way to travel between universes.”
“She’s gone, then,” Lister said. Rimmer said nothing, inwardly delighting. If he was composed of light and had absolutely no chance of getting his end away with a beautiful woman, he didn’t see why Lister should have any more luck just because he happened to be alive.
Red Dwarf was an enormous ship, and it was several weeks before they realised the Cat wasn’t just hiding.
“Sir? Are you recovered?”
The light was behind her, so the Cat saw the nurse’s outfit first, and rowred his approval. Then she stepped back from the bed and he spotted the ears, the delicate fur, the whiskers.
“Hey, baby,” he said.
The lady cat – the cat nurse - smiled with relief, and the great cat god, Cloister, suddenly found Himself with a brand new convert.