Title: Atmospheric Excitations
Characters/Pairings: Tenth Doctor/Martha Jones
Genre: Romance Ficlet with a teeny side of Angst
Rating: PG? [everything is pretty innocuous]
Spoilers: Set post S3, pre-S4?
Summary: A Christmas and New Year's story with the Doctor and Martha. Gifts are given and so are confessions.
All your Doctor Who are belong to us
Sadly, I own nothing related to Doctor Who et al, though I have Ten(nant) and the TARDIS currently on my Holiday wish list.
Author Notes: I am pretty sure this piece sucks, but my muse horked it out over the last few hours so I thought I would share it nonetheless. I actually had intended to write a drabble, but the story got away from me as usual. It also ended up a bit fluffier than I had expected. Oh well. Also, this work hasn’t been beta’d, so all mistakes are my own. Still getting used to writing again, so that is also a handicap. Feedback is happy-making though, so please leave a word or two.
Martha was sitting curled up on her sofa when her mobile rang.
It was Christmas and she was exhausted from the long day of opening gifts and otherwise being with her family. After nearly nodding off during the festivities, she had excused herself to go home for some quiet time and soon found herself huddled on her sofa in pajamas, drinking a mug of hot chocolate and reading a somewhat trashy Romance novel. The latter was something that she rarely did, but she had to admit that she liked how it allowed her to put more intellectual thought on the back burner in favor of more fluffy things once in a while. She truly needed that these days – especially after The Year That Never Was.
Martha grabbed the phone off the table by her sofa, laying the book on her lap. She was expecting it to be either Tish or Leo or even Jack, as they were generally the only people who called her late at night these days. She gasped a bit when she saw the number on the display – someone was calling her from her old phone.
She flipped the phone open to speak. “Doctor?” she answered, somewhat tentative.
She had not spoken to the Doctor in months. To be honest, she had certainly been tempted to call him on occasion to check up on how he was -- knowing he needed someone much more than he liked to let on and curious if he had found someone new to travel with. In her weaker moments, she even sometimes contemplated calling just to hear his voice again, but she never let herself do so. No, instead she would just blow out a deep breath, channel her thoughts into something else, and move on, doing her best to untie the binds that always seemed to lead her back to thoughts of him on long quiet nights.
“Hello Martha.” It was the Doctor and she noticed as he spoke that his voice was almost quiet and tinged with something that almost sounded like sadness. Her heart sank a little bit.
“How did you-“ she began, finding herself almost flustered by his unexpected call, yet suddenly alert. Perhaps he was calling due to some sort of emergency?
“Get your number?” he completed her sentence. There was a short pause and he chuckled lightly, though Martha thought it sounded hollower than the mirth he’d probably intended. She was not sure if it was even conscious on his part, but she knew that he was unable to hide such things from her after all they’d been through together. “I have my ways,” he added, his tone now seeming to vacillate between awkward and egotistical.
“So,” she hesitated a bit, still worried and alert for an emergency, “is everything okay?”
The Doctor paused again, this time letting out a deep breath before speaking again. “Well, I just wanted to call and wish you a Merry Christmas. Or whatever you celebrate, of course! I mean, I guess we never talked about that. I am assuming that you aren’t celebrating Chanukah, but I don’t know, perhaps you are! Maybe you are even celebrating Saturnalia or some such. I loved Saturnalia. Io, Saturnalia! I had some really fine wine with the poet Catullus during a Saturnalia once. Oh, we had some great discussions that night!”
He was rambling, but suddenly caught himself with a brief pause. “Nonetheless, I am rubbish at holidays,” he went on, his previously excited tone suddenly quieter and more serious, “and at doing things at the right time, so I hope that I am not too late.”
Martha glanced at the clock on her wall – 11:28 PM – and began to respond with reassurance, but he added before she could say anything, “Anyway, I left a gift for you on your doorstep.”
“Oh,” Martha replied, her words forming slowly from the surprise, “You didn’t have to do that.”
“I wanted to,” he said very matter-of-factly, but added more sweetly, “Merry Christmas, Martha Jones.”
With that he hung up.
Martha flipped her mobile closed, staring at it for a moment as if she was trying to piece together the whole short conversation, still only half-believing it had even occurred in the first place. Then she found herself wondering about when the Doctor might have put a gift outside, as it was not there when she arrived home about an hour ago. Had he been just outside her door within the last hour and never even made himself known? She felt a pang of sadness thinking of how he had been so close without her even knowing, without even saying anything to her in person.
Martha hopped up from the sofa, tossing her book aside to grab a robe and slippers. She rushed toward her front door, the faint hint of anticipation filling her as she hoped he might just be standing outside her door this very moment, leaning against the frame of the porch with his hands in his pockets and that smug smile he so often had on his face.
Martha pulled open the door, unable to contain the smile now beaming on her face, but felt abrupt disappointment when she only found a box on the ground before her and not him. She reached down, picking it up, and brought it inside before she got too cold.
The box was slightly cold to the touch from being outside, and had a bit of weight to it, but wasn’t too heavy to manage. It was wrapped in shiny red paper and silver ribbon emblazoned with sparkling stars. Tucked under the ribbon was a small light-green tag that simply said “Martha Jones.” She smiled to herself at how the Doctor so often called her by her full name, though she had to admit that she always really liked when he did.
Martha went back into her living room and set the box down on her coffee table before her as she sat back on the sofa. She found herself just looking at the box for a few moments, running her fingers over the paper, the ribbon, and tracing the almost circular script the Doctor had written her name in (which honestly reminded her of the Gallifreyean writing she’d seen on the TARDIS and on various books in his library).
Finally, after admiring the box, her curiosity got the better of her and she carefully opened the wrapping to expose the box within. She opened the flaps of the box and found two smaller boxes inside, also wrapped in the same red paper and ribbon. She lifted the first one to her lap, carefully running her fingers under the edges of the paper to open it, laughing a bit to herself at how reverently she was treating the wrapping. It was
the first time the Doctor had ever given her a gift, after all, and she certainly recognized how important that felt
to her. She also had to laugh at the images filling her head of him trying to wrap her gifts -- fighting with the paper and tape and otherwise making a mess -- and wondered if he’d perhaps employed some help. She was pretty sure it was more of a task than just his sonic screwdriver could handle.
After getting the first box out of the paper, she opened it to find a card and a small electronic device that was about the size of her hand. She opened the card to see more of the Doctor’s circular script:“Martha,
This is a Multilingual Decoder (or at least, that is the best translation I can give you that sounds nice anyway) from the planet Exortis-80. When you press the blue button on its left side, you can place it over any text in a book or on an object and it will translate the words on a holographic screen before you. I used my sonic to tinker around with it and preset it with all of the languages of Earth and whichever ones I could think of. The TARDIS herself added many more into the programming as well (which, looking at the specs before giving it to you, looks like she added several thousand languages).
Anyway, I wanted you to have it.
With much affection,
Martha put the card down and ran her fingers over the device in her hands. It warmed to her touch and almost felt as if it might be alive in some way. She was in awe of the gift, stroking it admiringly. Leave it to the Doctor to get her something extraordinary and be so...casual
about it. She wondered for a moment why he chose this specific device for her, but then smiled at the thought nonetheless as she placed it back in its box and onto the sofa beside her.
Martha then reached back into the main box on the coffee table, pulling out the second gift. It was larger and heavier than the first one, she noted as she placed it on her lap. She again slowly unwrapped her present from its paper, smiling again at the fact that the Doctor had actually given her anything, that he had even thought
of her since she’d left him.
The second box held two books – one larger than the other -- and a small note. The note simply read: “One for the head and one for the heart.” As she looked at the books, drawing her hand across the covers, she saw that they were written in what looked like Gallifreyean writing. Was this why the Doctor had given her the Multilingual Decoder?
She reached to her side and grabbed the device, pressing the blue button on its side and placing it against the text of the smaller book as the Doctor had instructed in his card. A green holographic screen popped up before her, with text blinking in the top left corner that said “Language Origin: Gallifrey.” Below the blinking text was static text that read: “Selected Poetry from Gallifrey’s Golden Age.” Martha was curious about what Gallifreyean poetry might actually be like as aesthetic ideals can range so widely from culture to culture. She wondered if she would even like it or find it beautiful.
Despite that, though, she smiled at the thought of now having the opportunity to read any Gallifreyean texts at all (something that she could never do, even inside the TARDIS) and perhaps, as a consequence, be able to understand the enigma of the Doctor more. She was honored that he would even give her any books from Gallifrey in the first place, as in the past when she would ask him what the Gallifreyean books in the TARDIS library were and what they said, he would always swiftly change the subject.
She just stopped asking after a while, hating the cold discomfort she would see come over the Doctor like a wave and the darkness his eyes would take on.
Martha moved the poetry book to her side to look at the larger one, pressing the Multilingual Decoder against it. The holographic screen popped up again with the blinking text identifying it also as Gallifreyean. The title of this book was “Gallifreyean Anatomy.” Martha could barely contain her elation that he had given her a medical
book, especially a medical book that contained information regarding an alien species, the Doctor’s
species no less. She’d always had so many questions about the Doctor’s physiology, but he tended to be somewhat reticent about answering them.
Martha flipped open the text of the medical book and began immediately reading, eventually falling asleep with the book and decoder on her lap.
A week had passed since the Doctor had called and she had received her gifts from him. She still could barely contain the joy of receiving them and wondered, almost wistfully, if they were the last copies of those titles in existence now that Gallifrey was gone.
Martha was working double-shifts at the hospital, but still taking the time to sneak in reading the Gallifreyean anatomy book, supplemented by the poetry book, as she could. By the time Tish’s New Year’s party rolled around, she found herself almost too exhausted to attend. Tish had persuaded her to go eventually, though. She thought that Martha really
needed to get out more, and if Martha was honest with herself, she agreed with her.
Around 11:50 at the party, Martha found herself walking towards the front window to watch as the snow began to fall outside. It always felt so peaceful for her to watch snow falling and she needed some peace in her life. As she peered outside into the swirls of flurries, she was almost startled to see the Doctor outside, leaning against the TARDIS across the street. He had his hands in his pockets and that very same smug smile on his face she had imagined when going out to get her gifts from him the week before. He was also looking right at her.
“Be right back,” Martha said as she passed by Tish to grab her coat and to go outside.
Martha stepped outside, slowly making her way down the walkway toward where the Doctor stood. She stopped walking for a moment, twirling a bit in the snow as it fell on her, letting it fall on her face. Then she stopped and smiled at the Doctor. “I am so happy that it is snowing,” she called out to him, hoping to avoid any awkward conversational topics -- such as what he was doing there.
As she crossed the street, he smiled back at her, this time his smile less smug and more filled with a happiness that lit up his eyes. “I figured there needed to be some snow,” he simply said, smiling upward at the sky for a moment and then back at her.“You,”
she asked, pointing in a figure eight at him, “made it snow?”
“Well, more like the TARDIS. Simple atmospheric excitation. Nothing too complex,” he responded casually as if it were the most obvious thing.
Martha stood before him, the two of them looking at each other, seemingly waiting for the other to speak. They fell silent for what seemed like an aching eternity.
“I like that dress, it’s a nice color on you,” the Doctor said, finally breaking the silence. He scratched the back of his head and shifted side to side almost nervously. Martha thought it just might be his manic energy. The man could barely stand still most of the time.
Martha opened her coat a little, looking down at the pale purple dress she wore. She wondered for a moment how he’d really seen it, wondering if maybe he’d seen it more through the window when she was still inside.
Martha then sighed heavily and asked, “So, Doctor, why are you here?” She hadn’t wanted to ask, but it just pushed itself to the surface before she could really stop herself.
The Doctor looked back up at the snow falling, closing his eyes for a moment, and then looked back at Martha, this time his gaze more intense. He cleared his throat, brushing his nose with knuckle. “It’s almost midnight.”
“Um, yeah it is.” Martha wasn’t following.
The Doctor then looked down at his feet, kicking the pavement lightly with the toe of one of his shoes. “It’s almost midnight on New Year’s Eve,
” he added with emphasis, his cheeks now taking on a reddened hue as he looked back up at Martha.
Martha was trying to understand what the Doctor meant when the loud cheering from Tish’s party behind her interrupted her thoughts. She could hear them beginning to yell out the countdown to midnight. She turned to the sound, albeit somewhat faint from her position across the street, and watched the revelry through the window. 10, 9, 8, 7...
She then turned back around and was almost startled to see the Doctor had stepped up directly in front of her when she’d had her head turned. He was almost face-to-face with her, so close that she could...no, she mustn’t think of such things.
And then it hit her – what he had meant. Martha’s eyes widened in surprise. 6, 5, 4...
“May I?” the Doctor whispered, his breath hot against her face and his eyes looking deeply into hers.
“Yes,” Martha whispered back, barely able to find her voice.3, 2, 1...
The Doctor pressed his lips against Martha’s and when he met with no resistance deepened the kiss by pushing his tongue softly past her teeth. Martha could feel the pleasure from the kiss wash over her entire body, even more intensely than that first kiss he’d given her on the Moon seemingly so long before. She tried to make sure she didn’t lose her balance with her weakening knees, pressing her palms against his chest for support. The Doctor must have sensed this for he wound an arm around her lower back to help hold her up.
The Doctor eventually broke the kiss and Martha could feel the rhythm of his hearts racing faster than normal under her hands, a fact she now knew from the Gallifreyean anatomy book she’d been perusing the last few days. She smiled at bit to herself that she now knew this small fact about him. She also smiled that she could still feel his hand pressed against her back.
The Doctor was looking at her, his eyes holding an almost startling intensity, and Martha felt like she could almost see the old soul behind them. “They say, Martha Jones, what you do on New Year’s is what you will be doing for the rest of the year,” he said softly, red still in his cheeks.
“So, I will be out in the cold, with it snowing, snogging you all year?” she responded with a tease and a smile.
“That’s what they say.” He laughed for a moment, but then his expression returned to being more serious. Martha again watched in wonderment at his quicksilver changes in mood. “Come back to me, Martha. Travel with me again. I need you,” he said, his voice now obviously tinged with sorrow.
Martha began to back away from him, feeling his hand slide from her back to settle back at his side. There was a part of her that had hoped his grip would have tightened on her instead, but the defeated expression now coloring his features showed her that he wouldn’t dare. “I...can’t,” she stammered.
The Doctor blinked hard as he watched her, shoving his hands back into his pockets. He swallowed heavily and Martha could see his eyes beginning to grow wet with unshed tears. “Okay. Yes. Of course, you can’t,” he stammered, waving her off as he began to nervously look down and around himself. He also began to back away himself -- maybe towards the sanctuary of the TARDIS?
Martha reached out for him, stepping closer, and took his hand. His skin was very cold, but felt nice as their fingers entwined. She could feel him shaking slightly and he was only staring down at their hands and not looking at her.
“I’m not ready,” she said softly, dipping her head down to catch his gaze.
He reluctantly looked up at her. “Of course. Of course, that’s fine,” he stammered, obviously uncomfortable.
“I am still healing,” Martha added, trying to get him to understand. “From that terrible year, from you.”
A tear slipped down his cheek at her last words and his expression softened. “I am so sorry, Martha. You were never second best. Never. I never intended to hurt you. Believe me, that was the last thing I ever wanted.”
“Maybe when I truly believe that, I will travel with you again,” she offered with a shrug.
She hated seeing him so sad and though she was amazed that she was the cause of it and that he was admitting that he actually needed
her after all the times he acted like he didn't, she knew she had to stand her ground.
The Doctor swallowed again heavily. “I understand.”
Martha reached up with her free hand, wiping away the tears that had fallen. He looked away slightly, his eyes filled with shame. “I had hoped that maybe with the decoder, the books...the kiss...you might want to...again,” he confessed, his voice weak.
Martha leaned forward, pressing her lips against his. The Doctor’s breath hitched in surprise, but he lightly kissed her back. “Just give me some more time,” Martha whispered, looking deep into his eyes as she pulled back.
He sighed, his features holding a strange mixture of disappointment and happiness. “Time is something that I will always have to give you, Martha Jones.”
The Doctor lifted Martha’s hand to his lips and kissed the back of her knuckles before stepping backward into the TARDIS and closing it’s door. The snow swirled around them even more as the engines of the TARDIS began to wheeze and it disappeared into the night.
Martha looked down at the square left on the street from the snow that had framed the base of the TARDIS and smiled wistfully, thinking of the mark the Doctor and the TARDIS had made on her life. She began to walk back to the party, walking only a few steps or so, before turning back quickly when she heard the wheezing engine of the TARDIS again and saw it begin to rematerialize.
The door opened and the Doctor poked his head out to look at her, obviously still crying. His grip was tight on the door and he looked somewhat tense. “One more thing that I need to say before I go. Not to change things, it just needs to be said. It is something that needed to be said a long time ago,” he began rambling before stopping to take in a deep breath. “Martha Jones, I love you.”
He smiled sadly at Martha, who stood there frozen in surprise, and then closed the door again.
The TARDIS dematerialized and Martha sighed, a smile now filling her face. She turned back toward the party, this time skipping a bit as she walked.