Characters/Pairings: Martha, with allusions to Ten/Martha
Word Count: 5883
Genre: Mostly-fluffy Romance
Rating: PG [everything is pretty innocuous]
Spoilers: Up through the end of S3’s “Family of Blood”
Summary: After the events in 1913 at Farringham, the Doctor takes Martha to a ball, where she meets a mysterious stranger.
Beta: The uber-wonderful persiflage_1
All your Doctor Who are belong to us
Sadly, I own nothing related to Doctor Who et al, or things like this would be canon.
Author Notes: This one is a bit bizarre, but then it is loosely based on a dream that I had. There are lots of references to Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” as well as to things like Van Gogh and “Little Red Riding Hood” within the framework of the story, but familiarity with these is probably not necessary for the enjoyment of the story [more just literary geekery]. Thanks so much as always to the magnificent persiflage_1
who beta’d this piece – girl, you are a star! Any other mistakes are all mine. Feedback is happy-making, so please leave a word or two [even if I am a bit slack in responding, your comments always make my day].
“Starry Night,” Martha whispered, looking up at the sky of the planet she and the Doctor had just landed on. It was filled with blues and reds and greens and laced with swirls and lights and stars, looking to her almost like a painting.
She had suddenly thought of Van Gogh. She wondered for a moment what he might have done if he ever visited a world such as this, with a sky so reminiscent of his famous painting. Perhaps he might even cry from the sheer beauty of it. Tears pricked her own eyes at the thought.
“Even the moon bulges in its orange irons, to push children, like a god, from its eye. The old unseen serpent swallows up the stars,” the Doctor whispered by her ear, suddenly so close to her that he startled her a bit, causing her to look at him, his eyes twinkling in the twilight.
He then grabbed both of Martha’s hands and swung her around in a dance outside the TARDIS. “Oh starry starry night! This is how I want to die!” he exclaimed, continuing his quotation and joyfully laughing as they spun around.
“Beautiful,” Martha said once they stopped.
“Yes, very beautiful,” the Doctor replied softly, his eyes seeming to bore into hers before he looked down at their clasped hands and, ever so shyly, let go, his voice taking on more matter-of-fact tone, “Anne Sexton wrote that about the painting. I always thought it was so bittersweet.”
The Doctor pressed his palm against Martha’s lower back, leading her forward along bright yellow grass reflecting the lights of the city. They seemed to be heading toward a large cone-shaped blue building glowing ethereally in the distance.
As Martha and the Doctor approached the building, Martha began to notice the people milling about wearing masks. “Doctor,” she whispered, unsure of what a member of the Aglaoe even looked like, “Are they wearing masks?”
The Doctor squeezed her hand a bit tighter. “Well, I wanted it to be a surprise for when we got inside, but yes, they are.”
“Pick any one that you want,” the Doctor whispered over Martha’s shoulder – his breath so close to her cheek that she almost shivered – as she took in the display of ornate masks before her in the lobby of the building.
The Doctor said that the Aglaoe – and any visitors who happened to be attending the masquerade – never brought their own masks with them, but simply chose one at the door to fit their mood or personality for the evening. This had been part of the reason why the Doctor hadn’t told her they were even attending a masquerade in the first place – he had said as they walked in the door – since he wanted her to get caught up in the whole experience unfiltered from cares or expectation.
“This one would look perfect with your dress,” a hostess kindly offered, gesturing to a beautifully ornate bird-shaped, full-headed mask, with a striking plumage of feathers in a whole spectrum of shades of blue covering it.
Martha was wearing a soft royal blue strappy dress that she had found in the TARDIS wardrobe. She hadn’t been entirely sure if it was the right dress for the occasion, but the Doctor had beamed so sweetly when he saw her in it, she decided it seemed a good choice after all.
The Doctor was simply wearing his dinner jacket suit – and from what Martha could tell it was the same one he had worn with her during their experience at LazLabs.
“I think it is beautiful,” Martha replied, reverently caressing the feathers on the mask before turning around to ask, “Doctor, what do you think? Which one are you choosing?”
The Doctor was no longer behind her and for a moment Martha felt a wave of panic seize her limbs. She heaved a quick sigh of relief, though, when after scanning the lobby, she saw him across the room chatting with two very human-looking gentlemen. He caught her gaze as she looked at him and she saw traces of disappointment in his eyes and concern furrowing his brow. He excused himself from the two men and quickly made his way back over to her in a few long strides.
“Doctor, what is the matter?” she asked as soon as he was before her again.
“The Aglaoen ambassadors are having some trouble with the reactor core of their city’s central thermal buffers. Chancellor Rioven, an old friend of mine and someone I have worked with on many occasions, has asked if I can take a quick look at it for them,” he replied with a frown, reaching up to smooth down Martha’s hair before resting his hands on her shoulders. “I’ll only be a very short while. No need for your night to be ruined as well, though. Grab a mask and I will meet you inside as soon as I can. Have you chosen which one you want?”
Martha sighed looking up at the Doctor and felt her stomach lurch a bit from his sad expression. Part of her wanted to go with him, to keep him company, but she could clearly see that he wouldn’t let her, that he wanted her to have a good time despite his predicament. After two months of servitude with him in 1913, still recovering from the emotional bruises between them, she simply didn’t feel up for an argument, so she conceded.
“I think I like this one the best,” Martha said, pointing to the blue bird mask.
“Excellent choice, Miss Jones,” he said with a wide grin, picking it up from the table and slowly slipping it over her head. Martha enjoyed the soft caresses of his fingertips as they slid down the skin of her face and neck as he adjusted the mask, but her enjoyment didn’t last as suddenly she felt as if her throat was constricting.
“D-Doctor?” she stammered, panicking, reaching for her throat to caress it through the mask’s material covering it.
The Doctor slid his palm to the nape of her neck, massaging it softly in an attempt to ease her. “There, there,” he whispered, “It’s okay, it will pass in just a second. I should have warned you first, I forget that humans are a bit sensitive to the effects.”
Martha moved her mouth to speak, but it took a few seconds before sound finally came out. “What effects?” she asked, but her heart stopped for a moment at the sound of her own voice. It sounded mechanical and flat, like a robot or machine. “What is happening to me?”
The world began to spin around her and her limbs suddenly faltered as darkness crept over her senses.
Martha woke up.
Opening her eyes, she could see that she was lying on the floor and the Doctor was cradling her in his arms as he knelt beside her.
“There’s a girl,” he whispered softly, stroking the feathers on the face of her mask, which strangely felt almost as if they were a part of her. “You are okay, Martha, I’m right here.”
“W-what happened?” Martha stammered, reaching up to cover her mouth in surprise as her voice still held the same mechanical sound.
“I think you just got a bit scared of the process is all, caused yourself to faint,” the Doctor murmured, still lightly stroking her face, “The Mekhaniotes transformation device can be a bit disorienting at first, especially if it is your first time, but it’s all right now, you are completely safe.”
Martha had to admit she did feel safe in the Doctor’s arms, despite the changes that seemed to have happened to her. She also had to admit that it felt so comforting to be cradled in his arms after such a long time at Farringham with no physical contact with him. It was as if her skin had begun to ache for his touch, for those big sweeping hugs he would give her. When he finally held her as they left Farringham, despite the awkward conversation about her romantic confession to John Smith, she had felt so wonderful, so grounded to be in his arms again.
“What about my voice?”
“Ah yes,” the Doctor shifted from kneeling to sitting cross-legged as he kept holding Martha across his lap, “that is one of the most exciting inventions of the Aglaoe, actually, and all the rage at their masquerades. When you put on your mask for the evening, nanobots that are woven into the fabric of the mask activate to merge the mask to your skin so that any touch of the mask,” he ran his thumb across her cheek, “is something that you feel as if it is your own skin. And, as a bonus, they connect a sort of vocoder to your vocal chords to give you the mechanical harmonics you hear as your voice. It’s really rather brilliant, actually!”
“Why would I want to sound like a robot?” Martha asked, still frowning at the flat synthesized sound of her voice. She was not sure this was something she would get used to very easily.
“Well, it is all a part of the masquerade, Martha!” the Doctor replied with a wide grin, “Sure one can have a mask or a costume, but once they speak, people often know who they are. This way everyone sounds exactly the same, so everyone can intermingle without concerns of social status, dignitaries can chat amongst common people, people of all social strata are brought down to the same level. Also people can take on a whole new persona for the evening if they wish – which is rather popular, I am told. There are so
many possibilities, Martha!”
“And how do I get this off? How do I stop this?” she asked, her eyes – one of the few parts of her face not hidden by the mask – expressing how helpless she was feeling even though her voice could not.
“Do you want this to stop?” the Doctor asked, with sad surprise. “I just thought – “ he trailed off, biting his bottom lip nervously. “I just can’t stop making this evening a disaster, can I?” he asked softly after a deep sigh, his voice pained.
Martha reached up to caress the Doctor’s cheek, surprised by what looked like unshed tears in his eyes. She decided to trust him and give things a chance. “It’s okay, Doctor. I was just scared for a moment, but I will be all right. I’m looking forward to such a new and different experience.”
A smile broke out on the Doctor’s face. “Oh, Martha, I am sure that you will love
it. People come from all over the galaxy just for this, the waiting list is five years long in fact – which is nothing with a TARDIS, but we’ll keep that between us – and it is supposed to be a truly memorable event.”
The Doctor then helped Martha gingerly to her feet. She suddenly felt oddly embarrassed for fainting in public, but it seemed that no one else had really noticed – well, no one except for the gentlemen that the Doctor had been talking with moments before.
The two men made their way over to them. “We are so sorry, Doctor, but we do really need your assistance as soon as possible.”
“Yes, of course, just one moment,” he said to them, his tone sharp, but professional. He turned to Martha, his voice softening again, “Go enjoy the ball, I’ll be in to join you as soon as I can. You will be perfectly safe, I have already alerted security to keep an eye on you. So, go mingle, have fun! I can’t wait to hear the stories of your adventure!”
The Doctor swooped her up into a big hug before turning to walk away with the two gentlemen. “Doctor?” Martha called out to him.
“How will I know who you are? You know, with the masks and all.”
“Ah yes, of course,” he exclaimed, holding up a finger to the two men to wait for one more moment. The Doctor rushed over to the table of masks, excitedly hopping from one foot to the other. “Ooh, so many choices, so many lovely choices,” Martha heard him say to himself as she walked up to stand beside him.
“Ah, perfect!” he suddenly exclaimed, picking up another one of the masks that looked like a bird, this one completely black like a raven. The Doctor held it in front of his face and squawked comically, “Never more, never more!”
“Hey, with this ensemble,” he gestured to his clothes, “it’s a raven or a penguin mask, so I think I will go for a raven, thank you very much.”
“Okay, Doctor, I’ll keep an eye out for a raven.”
“From a bird’s eye view?” he asked with a click of his tongue and wink, stuffing his mask into his pocket.
Martha just shook her head at him as he smiled widely at her one last time and then quickly made his way out of the lobby with the two men.
Martha sat in a chair off to the side of the ballroom and watched all of the people dancing. It was no fun to be at such an event without a proper date – not like she really thought the Doctor would be one either as he keeps saying he is not interested in her romantically
– but she was doing her best to take it in her stride.
The people watching was also proving to be very interesting. Most of the attendees seemed to be either human or at least humanoid from what she could tell from the shape of their bodies. The males seemed to all be dressed in near-identical black dinner jacket suits and the women wore a variety of beautiful dresses – some, Martha feared, made her own dress look like an old rag. She wondered for a moment if the women could be identified by their dresses alone, but then thought that they probably took care to keep their identities hidden as the Doctor had said.
Martha looked out over the sea of masks – masks of animals, birds, and all sorts of varied creatures
– and listened to the sounds of mechanical speech around her. The Doctor had been right,
she thought, everyone’s voice sounded identical.
The masquerade ball was certainly an interesting game now that she had calmed down enough to think more on it. The Doctor had promised her an exciting evening, alluding to it as some sort of repayment for the last two months she had spent at Farringham (it wasn’t like the Doctor to just say he is sorry, she gathered, he seemed to come up with elaborate stunts instead to hide his feelings behind), but she’d honestly had no idea what to expect.
After a short while, occasionally scanning the crowd for a tall man in a raven mask, she made her way around the periphery of the dance floor toward what looked like a food buffet. As she got closer to the table, she noticed each of the dishes of food had glass domes over them. Once in front of the table, she touched the glass and tried to figure out how to get to the food within.
“They are genetically sealed,” a metallic voice said from behind her.
Martha turned around to see a gentleman in a beautifully ornate mask that looked like a wolf. The fur looked almost real and for a moment she had to stop herself from reaching up to touch it and feel its texture. “Genetically sealed?” she stammered, her own voice still startling her a bit.
“There are so many visitors from all over the universe to the masquerade that the chefs take great pains to make sure that no one eats anything they can’t digest as a species or even something they simply might be allergic to. Here,” he pointed at a small flat panel by the end of the table, “If you put your hand there, it will identify you and unlock the foods you can eat.”
Martha was a bit unsure, but the strange gentleman seemed nice enough, so she reached over to place her palm flat against the panel. It beeped twice and then five of the domes lit up.
“There you are,” the gentleman said, “Now you can take whatever you like. Under the lit domes, that is.”
“How?” Martha asked, still staring at the table of food before her, trying to work it all out in her head. “How do I get beyond the glass?”
“Just reach for it.”
Martha tentatively reached toward the closest dome that was lit. She was almost startled when her hand slipped through the glass as if it were just water and she picked up a small red square food item that was on a small plate. “Wow.”
“Quite ingenious, really.”
“And what is this? Do you know?” she asked, pointing at the food on her plate.
“That looks like the garlic-based lamb from Earth if I am correct,” the stranger said and then looked up at another screen by the table, “Yes, that is what it is. The menu is right here.”
“Lamb from Earth? It doesn’t look like it.”
The man shrugged. “I have not tried it, but all of the food is highly recommended here.”
Martha poked at the piece of food. It was solid and dense, much like a cake, but otherwise the texture seemed different than anything she had ever seen. Martha then lifted it up to take a bite and was surprised by the rush of flavors on her tongue once she tasted it. “This is really good!”
“So glad that you like it.”
Martha finished off the plate and then the man showed her where to dispose of her plate. “So,” she looked at the domes still lit, “when do they revert back to normal and what happens if someone else comes up?”
“You are inquisitive, I like that,” he replied. “The lights will turn off once you walk away from the table. If someone else comes up and uses the scanner, their domes will be lit up with a different color to distinguish their food from yours. But, say I wanted to try and grab something from one of your domes,” he reached toward one of the lighted domes, but his hand didn’t go through. He tapped the glass with his fingers, “it won’t let me. I’m a different species than you.”
“That is amazing,” Martha said, feeling awed by something as simple as the buffet. “So, what species are you, if you don’t mind me asking?”
“Now that would be telling,” the stranger replied. She could see a small smile on his face, pulling the mask to fit it. Most times seeing a wolf-like face smiling at you would be rather unnerving, Martha thought, but this time it set her at ease.
“So,” the stranger put out a hand, “would you like to dance?”
“Oh, I don’t know. I don’t really know how to dance very well and I – “
“But you’ve been sitting all alone since you arrived, I thought you might be waiting for someone to ask you to dance.”
“Yes and no…wait, you saw me arrive?” Martha felt vaguely uneasy.
“You make it sound so sinister. Yes, I did. I found your mask to be rather beautiful, as is your dress, so I endeavored to speak to you.”
“I can’t dance.”
“Of course you can, I’ll help you. Please don’t tell me you’re afraid of the big bad wolf?" She wasn’t sure, but it almost looked like the man had winked at her.
Martha shook her head. What have I got to lose?
she asked herself and then took the stranger’s arm.
They danced, spiraling outward amidst the throngs of other people. At first Martha’s steps felt unsure, but the man led her with his body and soon she got the hang of the dance. In fact, the dance was very similar to the waltz back home.
The stranger’s metallic voice spoke to her and said he was Ganymede. Perhaps Martha had called his bluff because he seemed pleased when she asked if she should be Aliena.
“No, in this case I think you should be Orlando instead,” he’d said softly near her ear and though the tone was raspy and metallic, it still sent a shiver through her.
“Orlando? But that was the love of Rosalind, yes?” she questioned, still feeling unsuited to the metallic sound of her own voice.
He simply laughed – his laugh almost like a mechanical barking – spinning them faster.
---I met Shakespeare once,
Martha almost said, but stopped herself. She noticed she had started to become more like the Doctor with each day she spent with him, taking on his mannerisms and even taking on a proclivity toward vaunt anecdotes. She wasn’t sure she liked that, especially with such a kind stranger. Instead she said, “You know of Shakespeare then?”
“M’lady, everyone knows of Shakespeare,” he replied, “My ancestors regarded his work highly.”
“Ancestors?” she asked, bending backward as he dipped her.
“He is from Earth, as are many of the people of Aglaoe. You can find his published works here in the city, as well as in many places in the galaxy.”
They danced for a few more moments before Martha finally said shyly, “I like you, Ganymede.”
“And I you, Orlando.”
“What are you looking for?” Ganymede asked stopping their dance, noticing her stealing glances over his shoulder from time to time.
“A friend. He has on a raven mask.”
“Ah, a raven,” Ganymede replied. “Is your friend a trickster then?”
“Yes, many mythologies throughout the galaxy consider the raven as a trickster.”
“You sound like my friend.”
“I hope that is a good thing.”
“Yes,” Martha paused, wondering for a moment how effective flirting would be with the lack of inflection in her voice, “then again, you are a wolf. Don’t wolves steal little girls away like in ‘Little Red Riding Hood’? Are you going to steal me away?”
Ganymede laughed, “Fair point. Do you want me to steal you away, dear Orlando?”
Martha wasn’t sure what propelled her to do so, but the next moment she was standing on her tiptoes and kissing Ganymede on the cheek. Martha settled back on the floor, resuming their dance. He began to spin them faster again and suddenly it all was beginning to feel more and more like a dream. She certainly felt deep in reverie when suddenly Ganymede leaned down and kissed her on the mouth.
Martha felt strangely comfortable with Ganymede and let herself get caught up in the kiss. His lips and tongue moved sensuously against hers with passionate intensity, working around any obstacles with their masks. Martha had not been kissed like that in so long – if ever. She almost felt her heart breaking, as she knew she would never see this strange man – this strange being? – again, and in the short time she had known him, he’d made her feel more wanted and special than she had in far too long.
Martha felt tears begin to prick at her eyes and then she found herself pushing Ganymede from her. He looked down at her, pausing their dance again, “I have offended you, I am very sorry.”
“No,” she protested, reaching her hand up to caress the fur on his cheek, “No, I’m sorry. I got carried away.”
“My dear Orlando,” he said, reaching up to press his hand over hers on his face, “What has you so sad?”
Martha took in a deep breath, “I don’t want to bother you with my problems. You have already been kind enough to me as it is.”
“It wouldn’t bother me,” he replied, restarting their dance but more slowly this time, his body now closer and more intimate, “Tonight is the night of secrets, you can say anything you want to say, be anything you want to be.”
“You can talk to me and it will be confidential. When we go out those doors,” he added, gesturing toward the front doors of the ballroom, “we leave all the secrets here, even the ones we reveal.”
Martha pressed her cheek against Ganymede’s chest, suddenly enjoying the closeness of him. “Okay,” she said softly, whispering as much as a mechanical voice could allow, “but you have to stop me if I bore you or you simply don’t want to hear anymore.”
“Agreed,” he replied, wrapping his arms around her.
“Once upon a time – ”
“I love stories that start out like this,” Ganymede said, interrupting.
“Well, it only seemed fitting, with you being a big bad wolf and everything.”
“Once upon a time there was a man – ”
“You do like to interrupt,” Martha scolded him, but lightly caressed his back as they remained dancing in a close embrace.
“I’m sorry,” he paused, “I just like good stories”
“Well, I don’t know if this will be good or bad, but it doesn’t really matter.”
“Which do you think it is?”
“Sometimes both. Sometimes he…yes, the man is the raven…and sometimes he is so good to me and the things we do are absolutely
amazing. And sometimes…he makes me feel like the least important or interesting person in the universe.”
“I can’t imagine you being either. Maybe I should talk to this raven.”
“No,” she countered, tensing up, “No, I have already said far too much about my feelings to him. I’m not going to make that mistake again.”
“How can telling your feelings to someone be a mistake?”
“When they barely acknowledge your existence, it is most certainly a mistake.”
Ganymede held Martha tightly against him for a long moment and the two of them simply moved to the music in silence.
“Are you in love with him?”
“Shakespeare?” Martha asked, confused. Their conversation had drifted back to discussing the works of Shakespeare when he’d suddenly asked the question.
“No, the raven. Are you in love with him?”
“The road to true love never did run smooth.”
“Okay, Shakespeare,” Martha said, poking Ganymede in the side.
“No, it’s Ganymede,” he said, poking her back. He then laughed again and Martha was finding herself starting to enjoy the strange mechanical laughs that came from him. She wondered if he was the type of man that laughed all the time or if he only laughed while donning the persona he had on tonight.
“He doesn’t love me,” Martha finally said simply, nuzzling into his chest to try and stop the tears that were threatening to fall.
“How could someone not love you? You are Orlando, the great love of Rosalind! There should be poetry on the trees for you!”
“He is not like Rosalind, I’m afraid. In fact, I am no sooner Orlando than anyone, my name is Martha and this is all just a stupid game,” Martha said angrily, the tears she fought hard to reign in starting to fall. She pushed from Ganymede, feeling the sudden urge to run out of there.
She started to bolt, but Ganymede grabbed her arm softly. She looked up into his eyes, tears falling from them just as they were from hers. “Please don’t go.”
“Martha, you deserve to be happy,” Ganymede said, holding her hand as they sat down on chairs on the periphery of the dance floor.
“I don’t know anymore. I do so much for him and he just never seems to notice. I should leave him, get him to take me home once and for all.”
“Have you talked to him about this?”
“He always talks, but he never actually communicates.
I’m sure it would be no different with this,” she said, leaning her head on his shoulder.
“Maybe he is afraid. Sometimes love frightens people.”
“Does it frighten you?”
Ganymede was quiet for what felt like a long time, but then he finally responded. “Yes. I have lost everyone I have ever loved and sometimes I think that I should never love again, but I do, I go on loving people.”
“Do you tell them – that you love them that is?”
“I’d like to say yes, but in all honesty, not as much as I should.” His hand tightened in hers, squeezing it softly.
“Why don’t you?”
“I worry that if I love them, I won’t be able to handle losing them.”
“But isn’t that a risk you have to take? ‘Better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all’ or whatever?” Martha reached over with her other hand to place it on their entwined hands.
Ganymede looked down at their hands for a long moment. “I wish I could fix what the raven has done to you. You are a kind soul, Martha. I should go before I damage you too.”
“Don’t leave, please,” Martha pleaded, moving her head to look at him, lifting a hand to lift his chin so that he was looking into her eyes. His eyes looked so sad and so lost that Martha almost felt as if the floor had dropped out beneath them. Still, she knew she had to let him go. “It was a nice evening, yeah?”
“Yes, very nice.”
“The conversation was wonderful.”
“Yes, as was the dancing.”
“Thank you, Ganymede. I will always remember you.”
“No, thank you, Martha.”
Ganymede leaned forward and kissed her on the lips again, deepening the kiss when she opened her mouth to his. The kiss was different than before, this time filled more with desperation and sorrow than passion.
Ganymede broke away from the kiss and then stood up, quickly making his way through the crowd of people. Martha tried to follow his path with her eyes, but he seemed to disappear amongst the people rather quickly.
Martha leaned her head against the wall behind her, thinking of all that had happened that night. In a way she found herself happy that the Doctor had not been able to get there yet because she treasured every moment she’d spent that night with the romantic stranger.
“I am so sorry,” Martha heard a voice behind her as she stood at the buffet table again, just a short time after Ganymede had left. For a moment, she hoped it was him again, unable to tell from the lack of distinction in the voices with their masks on. She took in a deep breath as she turned around to see the Doctor before her, clad in his dinner jacket suit, wearing his raven mask, and smiling.
“There you are,” she said, dumping her empty plate.
“It took much longer than I had anticipated, unfortunately, but all is well now. Plus, I have complimentary passes to next month’s ball as compensation,” he said, his mechanical voice barely hiding his manic energy. “Have you had a good time without me? I see you figured out the food mechanism.” He began to bounce in on the balls of his feet, “This place truly is amazing.”
“Can we go back to the TARDIS?” Martha asked simply.
“You want to leave the ball?” the Doctor asked, stopping his bouncing. “Is everything all right?”
“Yes, yes, I’m just tired and a bit overwhelmed by all this…alien technology.”
She was half-lying, but truly she wanted nothing more in that moment than to go back to her bed on the TARDIS and curl up in a ball and cry.
“Okay,” he said softly, “Come with me.”
The Doctor took her by the hand and led her out to the lobby. Martha found herself looking around for Ganymede despite herself, but did not see him any where around. Once near the table of masks, the Doctor reached around to the back of Martha’s head and seemed to pull some sort of release. “This should be easier coming off,” he said.
As the mask disengaged from her, she stumbled forward a bit, but the Doctor held her steady against his chest. “It will be all done in a moment, I promise,” he said, stroking her back.
A moment later, he stepped back, reaching up and pulling the mask from her head. “Better?”
“Yes,” Martha croaked out, surprised to hear her own voice again, albeit a bit gravelly.
The Doctor reached up and massaged her throat lightly with his thumb. “We’ll get you some tea when we get back to the TARDIS. Sometimes the vocal chords get a bit sore from the strain of the Mekhaniotes device, but it’s nothing that some good hot tea can’t cure.”
The Doctor then reached behind his own neck and Martha watched in awe as his mask peeled itself away from his skin on his neck and head. After a moment, he pulled his mask off, his hair as disheveled as always, if not worse (which made her wonder how awful her own hair must look). He took the two masks and walked them over to the hostess at the mask table returning them with a friendly wave before quickly returning to Martha’s side.
He offered her his arm and the two of them walked outside the building and back up the hill toward the TARDIS. “So, would you like to come to the masquerade next month?” the Doctor asked once they reached his ship, hope now obvious in his now non-mechanized voice.
“I’m not sure yet,” Martha said, the exhaustion of the night hitting her, “It was a beautiful experience, but it feels like if I came back, it wouldn’t be such a once-in-a-lifetime thing, you know?”
“Check in the wardrobe room, I promise there is something for you,” the Doctor said, down in a hole in the floor of the console room as he worked on the innards of his ship. “I’d help, but I need to get this rotor fixed as soon as possible. The TARDIS should be able to help, though.”
“Okay,” Martha said, walking down the corridor toward the wardrobe room, finding herself getting excited at their trip to ancient Egypt and finding a beautiful Egyptian dress to wear. Perhaps I’ll find something as nice as Cleopatra wore?
she mused as she walked, then again, in the TARDIS I might find Cleopatra’s actual dress!
It had been a week or so since their trip to the masquerade ball and relations between her and the Doctor were still amiable, but a bit strained. They still never talked about what happened at Farringham, and while he’d asked her about what had happened at the ball while he was away, she decided to not tell him about her experience with “Ganymede.”
“Okay, please help me out,” Martha said, addressing the ship, once she was inside the wardrobe room, “I have no idea where to start.”
Martha felt a mental nudge from the TARDIS toward a lower level of racks and began to thumb through all the variety of clothes. What she saw at the end of the rack though, stopped her dead in her tracks. There, hanging loosely on the end of the rack, hiding behind the clothes, was the wolf mask.