Title: Abide with Me: Fragmented Observations
Characters/Pairings: Ten, with allusions to Ten/Martha if you squint
Word Count: 1386 [in Word]
Genre: Character Study, Introspection, Gen[ish]
Spoilers: "Gridlock" [DW S3]
Summary: The Doctor’s observations about Martha throughout the events of "Gridlock"
Beta: The uber-wonderful persiflage_1
All your Doctor Who are belong to us
Sadly, I own nothing related to Doctor Who et al. I am just playing around in their sandbox for a bit of fun.
Author Notes: This is a piece for the The Footsteps Project
from the lifeonmartha
community for the episode "Gridlock." This was one of the hardest stories I’ve ever had to write and I really struggled with it, so I hope that it is okay. As stated in the summary, it is basically a look into the Doctor’s head about what he was thinking of Martha at that time. I wanted to talk about all the growth she was going through at that time, but I knew the story needed an outside source to see said growth [as it usually takes other people to notice such things]. This story can be read as shippy [such as Ten really seeing
her] or not – your choice. Thanks so much as always to the magnificent persiflage_1
who beta’d this piece! 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].
The Doctor wiped the water from his body after stepping out of the shower. He was trying to rid himself of the last remnants of the grime and dirt and smog and pain of his most recent visit to New New Earth.
Things had sunk in deep beneath his skin though, despite his best efforts.
His mind was whirling with thoughts, feelings stirring beneath the surface amidst flesh and bone, mixing with new feelings prompted from the visit. The Face of Boe’s words to him echoed in his head, as did thoughts of meeting those trapped on the motorway, but it was Martha – his strong, persistent, inquisitive, and stubborn Martha – that focused his thoughts most keenly.
The Doctor lay in his bed, the duvet pulled up to his nose. He was not usually one to sleep, but the events of the day had been truly taxing. He’d shown Martha to a room where she could shower and get some rest as well – knowing that she probably needed it even more than he did, knowing that she deserved it – and then he made his way to the solace and quietude of his own quarters.
Stolen from him, kidnapped just as he’d done to two people himself so very long ago in 1960’s London, Martha had experienced a day that he honestly wasn’t proud of – especially in lieu of the fact that he was just trying to show off, trying to impress her, and deriving far too much pleasure from the look of awe of her face when he took her new places.
It was that look of awe that had done him in though, for it was dangerous as much as it was stimulating.“How about a different planet?” he’d asked, feeling positively jubilant.
“Can we go to yours?”
It had been so innocent, but he’d felt as if he’d been kicked hard in the stomach, his joy slowly slipping from him so quickly that he feared there might be nothing left of him once it was gone.“The sky's a burnt orange, with the Citadel enclosed in a mighty glass dome, shining under the twin suns. Beyond that, the mountains go on forever – slopes of deep red grass, capped with snow.”
“Can we go there?”
That look of awe was burning him now, burning him from the inside. In so little time, the world of possibilities was bursting forth from Martha’s eyes as they bore into his. He’d already changed her, been the inevitable catalyst to set her life into motion down a new and exciting and frightening path, and he was starting to see it as it flickered across her features before him.
---“Car Four Six Five Diamond Six — it still registers! That's Martha. I knew she was good.”
And he did.
The Doctor knew Martha Jones was good, if not absolutely brilliant. It was why he’d noticed her on the Moon and it was why he was finding himself observing her now. Despite how chaotic his lifestyle was or his insistence of just “one trip,” she held her own up against both him and the elements. While he had been completely terrified when she was kidnapped, there was still an insistence within him that she would be just fine.“It's been quite a while since I saw you, Martha Jones.”
---“It's the Face of Boe. It's all right. Come and say hello. And this is Hame. She's a cat. Don't worry.”
The Doctor found that while it was obvious that Martha was somewhat reticent and unsure of both Novice Hame and the Face of Boe, as in all of the time they had spent together, she quickly threw herself into the adventure and newness of the situation.
Martha was adaptable and the Doctor found himself giving her glances here and there as he watched her cope with everything, process everything, feeling so very proud of her. Aside from the Judoon, the Plasmavore, the Carrionites, and himself, Martha had not yet really met any aliens that weren’t out to harm either of them.
He was glad he could show that to her, especially if it was her final trip with him.
---“But what did he mean, the Face of Boe?” Martha asked him as they made their way through Pharmacy Town to get back to the TARDIS. "You're not alone."
“I don't know.”
“You've got me. Is that what he meant?”
“I don't think so. Sorry.”
The Doctor had tried to fight the twitch in his lips, his desire to smile at her, and his wish that maybe she could actually be someone to stay with him, to ease his solitude. Hope welled within him before being stopped short by the deep sense of loss that was always so ever-present in him, hiding behind corners just waiting for him to feel happy so that it could remind him of all the people, all the loved ones, that he had lost and would lose.
No, he had to let Martha go. He had to let her keep growing into the beautiful, intelligent woman that she was already moving towards.“All right, you staying?” he asked after she sat down on a discarded chair in the alleyway, challenging him with her arms crossed over her chest and one leg over the other.
“'Till you talk to me properly, yes. He said ‘last of your kind.’ What does that mean?”
“It really doesn't matter.”
“You don't talk. You never say! Why not?”
The music stopped them both, the over-city singing the hymn “Abide with Me” filled the space around them, filling in the gaps between them, and started to ease the tension. For a moment, those were the words he wanted to say to Martha: “Abide with me,” but he stopped himself from the impulse.
No, it was time to finally tell her the truth. The look in her soft brown eyes was just beckoning the words from his lips.“I lied to you, 'cause I liked it. I could pretend. Just for a bit, I could imagine they were still alive, underneath a burnt orange sky. I'm not just a Time Lord. I'm the last of the Time Lords. The Face of Boe was wrong. There's no one else.”
Just saying the words felt as if they were bruising the very lungs that pushed the air out to speak them. The feelings that he kept so deeply tucked away were fighting their way to the surface and Martha – his ever-inquisitive Martha Jones – welcomed them from him. He needed to say them to someone, to anyone, and no one seemed more appropriate in his life to say them to.“What happened?” she asked, her eyes betraying her worry for him.
Part of him wanted to run as quickly as he could – hiding again from the feelings, hiding from the attachments – but instead he found himself pulled closer to the warmth and comfort of Martha. He picked up another discarded chair and began his tale amidst the melodies around them.“There was a war. A Time War. The last Great Time War. My people fought a race called the Daleks, for the sake of all creation. And they lost. They lost. Everyone lost. They're all gone now. My family, my friends, even that sky. Oh, you should have seen it, that old planet. The second sun would rise in the south, and the mountains would shine. The leaves on the trees were silver, and when they caught the light every morning, it looked like a forest on fire. When the autumn came, the breeze would blow through the branches like a song...”
Martha Jones sat with the Doctor in that cold alley for hours as he spoke, and cried, and held onto her hand as if letting go might mean him losing everything all over again. In the short time he’d known her, she had grown so much and watching her journey filled him with hope.
As he finally lay in bed after the day was done, he thought of asking her on another trip, but pushed his hopes down. Martha Jones needed to be free of him, needed this amazing growth to not be stifled by him.
“If you love someone, set them free...” he whispered to himself, before letting sleep take him.