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A Game, a Puzzle, part 1/1 
10th-Mar-2011 05:28 am
DW -- eleven/martha | 2nd chances
Title: A Game, a Puzzle
Author: radiantbaby
Characters/Pairings: Eleven/Martha
Word Count: 2163
Genre: Schmoopy, fluff!fic
Rating: G
Spoilers: none
Summary: She remembers the feel of his jacket most of all…
Disclaimer: All your Doctor Who are belong to us Sadly, I own nothing related to Doctor Who. I am just playing around in their sandbox for a bit of fun.
Beta: persiflage_1 [thanks so much!]

Author Notes: Okay, so this was basically a flash!fic to help combat some incessant writer's block I've been having in recent months. [Mostly] written in one sitting, utterly full of schmoop, and a bit incorrect regarding the British and psychotherapy, but, really, it doesn't take itself too seriously, so you probably shouldn't either.

Feedback is happy-making, so please leave a word or two if so inclined [even if I am a bit slack in responding, your comments always make my day]. Concrit [and any beta-ish comments] welcomed.


She remembers the feel of his jacket most of all.

Sitting beside him on a couch in the office, trying to work on some maths puzzles instead of sharing her feelings like the usual counselor wanted her to, the arm of his jacket kept brushing against her own bare arm. It was quite scratchy and, she didn't want to be rude, but she didn't like the feel of it very much. Then again, this new counselor was just strange, anyway – all wild hair, tweed, and a bowtie – so, she wasn't so sure she even liked him either at that point.

Part of her missed her usual counselor, Dr. Ladd, and wondered why he wasn't there that week, why she had this stranger sitting next to her instead, asking her about her life, and her family, instead of just letting her (mostly) fob him off with her usual, curt non-answers, so she could focus on her puzzles instead.

(Martha doesn't like talking about her life, really, about the kids that tease her for being the class swot. And she doesn't like talking about her family, either, with her older sister Tish getting all the attention from boys – ones she's started to notice, though she'd never admit it to anyone – or her young brother Leo just running around the house like a hellion all the time. And she certainly doesn't like to talk about how her mother always drives her incessantly to want to succeed in everything and be perfect, or how her dad just likes to take her out to the ice cream shop now and again or buys her some new record, but never really gives her much in the way of actual affection.

But Dr. Ladd never pushes her. And she never gives. Much. It's like a game, a puzzle. Fun, in a way. And, really, she's always liked puzzles.

Plus, she already knows how embarrassing it is for her family to have her in therapy in the first place – 'just not something you do' -- and if it wasn't for her hippie Aunt Kath, who lives in New York, finally getting her Mum to begrudgingly agree to it, she wouldn't even be there anyway.

So it's not as if she's going to let herself open up easily, give them all that pleasure, she often thinks to herself with a triumphant half-smile.)

"Almost got it, but really that should be an 85/62. I can see why you'd think 82/62, it's a common mistake, but trust me on this," he said, reaching over to tap on her booklet at the calculations she's just made, breaking the silence between them.

"What are you, a maths teacher?" she asked, trying not to sound annoyed (even if she sort of liked it) by his interruption, and still not looking at him.

"No, not really, not anymore, even though I have done. Well, not on Earth, exactly. It was an Earth colony, to be precise, but there was a war and times were desperate, and, well, it's not important...do you know what I like?"

"What?" she asked, now daring to look at him, though bemused by his odd ramble.

"Ice cream."

"Ice cream?"

"Yeah, you want to go get some? My treat," he asked, nudging her arm conspiratorially.


"Why not?" he scoffed, "I'm sure we can get some somewhere around here. If not, I've got transport."

"Really, I can't."

"Why?" he asked, looking expectantly at her, eyes wide, almost like a child. He reminded her of Leo a bit in that moment, especially when he was begging their Dad for sweets.

"My mum. She's just out there sat in the lobby, remember? It's not like she's going to let you drag me off somewhere. That's dangerous, going off with strangers."

"Good, good. You’re completely right. But not. I'm not a stranger. I'm...the...your doctor."

"Doesn't matter. Still a stranger."

"Oh," he replied, sounding deflated, picking at a loose thread on his sleeve.

"Yeah. Sorry."

She frowned, the idea of ice cream had actually sounded nice, to be honest, even if it reminded her of –

"My Dad always likes to take me to get ice cream," she confessed quietly, though just as the words came out, she flexed her fists in aggravation at giving him such personal information.

"Because you're such a good girl?"

"I don't know," she replied with a shrug.

"Well, I think you're absolutely brilliant."

"You've only just met me."

"Perhaps, but you're really good at maths. I can see that. What do you want to be when you grow up, Ms. Jones?"

She bit her lip. "A doctor. It's silly, but – "

"No, not silly at all. You're going to be an amazing doctor and save the world one day. Or many days, really. I just know it."

"Save the world. Right."

"You will and no matter what you think of yourself, now or later, no matter if you think you're not being appreciated by someone or seen, you are. Trust me. You're going to make a big impact on people's lives and hearts, Martha, I promise you."

"So, you're psychic now?"

"No, I just have a good idea of what's going to happen in the future. Call it a talent."

"So...are bowties going to be popular in the future? Because I don't think they are now, mate," she asked with a cheeky smile. She didn't know why, but within minutes, this doctor had put her at ease enough to banter with him a bit.

"Hey, bowties are cool," he corrected her, with a big smile, straightening the tie and preening.

+ + +

It's the jacket that brings the flood of memories back.

Until now, she'd forgotten that strange day at the therapist's office, herself all thirteen and awkward, and him so reassuring, going on about how brilliant she was and how brilliant she was going to be. She'd told him all about her life that day, all the truths that had been locked inside spilling out without her control.

But it didn't bother her then, not with him, and when he kissed her forehead sweetly (which was probably quite inappropriate in hindsight, even if it didn't feel naughty at the time) at the end of their session and wished her all the best, her heart raced and her cheeks blushed at the mere thought of him for days afterward.

She'd never seen him again (or so she'd thought, it seemed) and honestly just eventually forgot about her daydreams of him when other pressing things, such as spots and tests and boys, became more prominent in her teenaged thoughts.

But he's here now, back again – a different/the same man.

She's still reeling a bit -- they both are – having almost just died, all alone on an alien ship, stuck in a bad situation due to a busted UNIT-reclaimed alien transporter device, but out of nowhere, he was there for her and saved her. Just like that, just like always.

She'd almost not even recognized him at first, of course, with his new face and body, but when she saw the familiar glimmer in his eyes as he'd offered her his hand to run with him, just like he always used to in pinstripes and trainers, she knew who he was immediately – her Doctor.

The escape from the ship that followed had been a challenge, hours long and filled with several harrowing obstacles, and it left the two of them visibly shaken and weary in the end from the near-death (for her, at least) of it. But now, finally safe in his familiar-yet-unfamiliar TARDIS, floating somewhere out in the vortex, they take the time to simply stand just inside the doorway as he just holds her to him, quietly letting their breathing finally begin to slow and their hearts (his two beating hard against her chest, with a fierce thump-thump) stop racing.

The material of the jacket now scratches a bit at her face, but she lets the memory of it and her past (both of them) with him wash over her, as she rubs her cheek against it this time, her face buried in the safe cocoon of his embrace. It's so nice and perfect, and so much better than all the daydreams of her youth, back when she tried in vain to recreate that texture in her head.

And then she fully realizes, as things finally come into focus again, that he's still holding her to him, holding her longer than he ever has before, tighter even –

And it's heaven to her.

"I remember this jacket, now. That day at my therapist's office, when I was just thirteen," she observes, her words mostly muffled by its material.

She's stroking his back now, just to feel it more against her skin and she really can't remember now why she didn't like it very much at first before. She then blushes when she remembers how often she used to dream about it.

"We never did get that ice cream," he replies simply, and really, he should, by rights, be letting go of her by now (his other self always would), but he doesn't, and so she doesn't.

Part of her wants to see who will let go first. It's like a game, a puzzle.

"Mum was there, remember?"

"Oh yes, Francine. Perhaps she might've come along?" he asks, but then laughs, laughs with his whole body, it's movement rumbling against her and she is so very surprised, because she's never seen him laugh like that (and, really, never thought he could). "Who am I kidding? That would've never worked."

She wants to ask him why he was there back then (or even why he's here now), why he had made a special trip to visit her at such a tender age when he'd always warned her about the dangers of crossing timelines. She wants to ask if the Martha that she is now is different than the Martha-she-might-have-been without that visit that day or if he'd even made a difference at all.

She wants to thank him for helping her confidence, even if it feels silly, and how he made her feel so brilliant with his words that day, even if it dissipated a bit with the high emotion of her late teens and the emotional struggles of always being the mediator of her family, especially when things began to fall apart between her parents.

And, honestly, she wants to kiss him, more than she ever has before, and it frightens her a bit, even if it feels right somehow. And part of her wonders, with the way he is holding her against him so long, if he might too.

She doesn't do any of that though, but instead just relaxes in his embrace, memorizing how that jacket feels against her skin, remembering how the memories of the feel of it comforted her in nightmares when she was still young and how it comforts her even now, as she finally calms down from the danger they've just evaded. It feels daring, but she lets herself deeply breathe in his scent as well, a scent she is sure must hold time and space and so very many years of experiences, along with the ashes of civilizations lost and the stains of happy tears from civilizations saved.

It might be the closest she'll ever be to him and she doesn't want to let the opportunity pass.

He finally pulls away, but he seems almost reluctant, his arms still loose around her, hands linked together at the small of her back. He looks a bit younger than his old self, now that's she getting a proper look at him, but as she studies his new features, she sees his eyes still look so very ancient and unfathomable.

She smiles to herself when she thinks of how he's been in her life even longer than she'd originally thought, guiding her, molding her. And maybe he'll tell her why sometime, but right now, it doesn't feel important enough to her to know.

She then notices that he's smiling, too, reflecting hers, and something in her belly drops at the sheer look of affection he's giving her.

"So...that ice cream…still wanna go?" he asks, his words almost nervous, as if they mean something more. And maybe they do. She's no longer sure.

"Sounds like a plan," she replies, reaching up to straighten his now-askew bowtie.

Her fingers linger there, not wanting to stop touching him for some reason, worried a bit that if she does, he might just disappear again. "What?" he whispers, cocking his head in confusion as he looks down at her hands.

"Bowties are cool," she replies with a smile, repeating his words from her childhood, and then slips her hands down to reach around for his hand. Her fingers interlace with his, palm to palm, and while it feels different than the touch of her last incarnation, it feels good. "Now, let's get some ice cream."
10th-Mar-2011 10:35 am (UTC)
I love this! It's fluffy yet there's a teeny tiny touch of angst in there, which makes the fluff all the more welcome...
10th-Mar-2011 10:54 am (UTC)
Thanks! It was fun to write! I kept thinking 'This is probably all a bit OOC', but then I realized I just wanted to write something fluffy and not be so serious.

Thanks again for the beta! :)
10th-Mar-2011 10:49 am (UTC)
Loved this!

It's sweet and fluffy but slips in a bit of the 'ol Ten/Martha angst (but then of course Eleventy is there to make it all better).

Edited at 2011-03-10 10:49 am (UTC)
10th-Mar-2011 10:55 am (UTC)
Yay! Eleventy makes everything better!

Really though, I just sort of see him as someone who acknowledges his mistakes more than Ten. I wanted to extend this to Martha, because she deserved a bit of Doctor-ly schmoop. :)
10th-Mar-2011 12:41 pm (UTC)
Ohmygod I looooved this! <3

I really need to make an Eleven/Martha manip...
11th-Mar-2011 12:56 am (UTC)
Thanks so much! I am so glad that you enjoyed it! :)

I really need to make an Eleven/Martha manip...

Ooh, yes! Mine *points to icon* is not the greatest, but you always do awesome manips. :)
10th-Mar-2011 02:43 pm (UTC) - Yaay!
Oh, I loved this! I really like Eleven/Martha. I think they are my favorite pairing then Martha/Eight and Martha/Ten. I think Martha would have got on so well with Eleven. This was really very sweet.
11th-Mar-2011 01:01 am (UTC) - Re: Yaay!
Thanks so much!

And, yeah, I really like the idea of Eleven/Martha as well. I just think they'd be a really sweet pairing (and I love your fics about them, by the way). I think that Eleven would be a lot more complimentary and supportive of her (at least verbally) than Ten and I think Martha could really benefit from seeing that side of the Doctor (especially as she always felt invisible to her). :)
10th-Mar-2011 05:15 pm (UTC)
This is wonderful I so love eleven in it and he does brilliantly with a young Martha. It sounds like something he would do. I would go and have ice cream with him any day.
11th-Mar-2011 06:00 am (UTC)
Thanks so much!

Yeah, he can really be a sweetheart, can't he? Obviously he's in no way perfect, but I think he means well -- especially with kids and/or people he cares about.
10th-Mar-2011 11:13 pm (UTC)
This is one heck of a way to break your writer's block! I absolutely loved it.
11th-Mar-2011 06:06 am (UTC)
Aww, thank you! I'm so glad you liked it! :)

I was reading that Eleventy meta from the other day (for the fandom poll) and the plot just struck me out of nowhere. At first, I second-guessed it, thinking it was a bit lame, but then I thought it might be interesting to try and write it anyway (especially since I never write fluff). I tend to get a bit hung up on what fandom thinks of my fics and worry if things will be too OOC or whatever, but this time, I just did something for fun and tried not to please everyone (something one can probably never do, really). It was nice.

The funniest part was that I was just about to go to bed when inspiration struck, so I just stayed up until I knocked out the first draft. My boyfriend was like 'Why are you still up?', but then he saw me writing and cheered me on when I replied 'If I stop now, I may never finish this!'. So, afterward I went to bed, did some minor tweaks to help it flow better after I woke up, and there you go! So, I am quite pleased, yes. :)
10th-Mar-2011 11:25 pm (UTC)
How lovely! I love how you've written Martha here, and her relationship with Eleven. What a great idea, having him go into her past like that.

I've always liked the thought of Martha and Eleven meeting, and how that would go. I really enjoyed your version! Thank you for sharing!
11th-Mar-2011 06:09 am (UTC)
Thanks so much! I am so glad that you enjoyed it!

I've always been fascinated by the idea of Eleven and Martha meeting as well. Sometimes the scenarios in my head are very angst-driven, but I thought it might be nice to give them a fluffy little reunion instead. I think that Eleven has the potential to be really good for Martha, so I really wanted to give her that. :)
11th-Mar-2011 01:48 am (UTC)
Oh, I loved this so very much! Sweet and spot-on with their voices (this is my new weeMartha canon!) and the tone and the mood. LOVELY!

Edited at 2011-03-11 01:48 am (UTC)
11th-Mar-2011 06:13 am (UTC)
Yay! Thanks! Yeah, I think what was hurting me with that Eleven/Martha/Mickey fic I was trying to write was that it was far too angsty. You're right, Eleven has some angst, but not to the depths that Ten does, I think. It makes more sense for the Martha/Eleven relationship to be a bit 'lighter', so when this idea popped in my head, I thought I'd go with it. It was really weird to write something so schmoopy (with some angst and creepy undertones, of course) and justben laughed when I said I wrote a G-rated fic (possibly my first?), but it was a really nice exercise. :)
11th-Mar-2011 02:10 am (UTC)
This is really lovely! I've only read one eleven/martha fic in the past and I've been really interested how they would get along, and so I'm so excited you've taken this on. Lovely fluff with those liquid drops of angst and past anxieties and really so very sweet :)
11th-Mar-2011 06:15 am (UTC)
Thanks so much! I'm glad that you liked it. I've been very interested in Eleven/Martha as well, so it was a lot of fun to explore some of the possibilities. :)
11th-Mar-2011 02:49 am (UTC)

It's almost like closure, ya know? Loved every bit of this. Left a warm, fuzzy feeling in my chest. You do Eleven very well. :)
11th-Mar-2011 06:21 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! :)

Yeah, it felt a bit like closure to me, as well. I'm not sure that Ten would have ever been able to fully tie up the loose ends with Martha, especially not in his emotional state at the end of his life. I like that Eleven -- who strikes me as someone who atones for his mistakes -- was able to do that for someone that he cares about. I also like that it was just a small little intimate thing in the end*, no big speeches or whatever, just two people who care about one another reconnecting. :)

I am so glad you liked my Eleven, by the way. I've actually never written him, so I was worried Ten was creeping in too much. I tried to edit any bits that got too Ten-ish, because, while somewhat similar, they do have very different voices. :)

* Okay, admittedly, going back and potentially changing someones timeline is a bit big and somewhat creepy, but I tried not to delve into too many ethics in a schmoop piece. ;)
11th-Mar-2011 03:41 am (UTC)
Ah, now, for some reason, thje way you write MArtha with him...

Eleven fits her like a glove.

OO this gave me a wonderful nice warm feeling, like a breath of crisp air on a summer's day.
11th-Mar-2011 06:22 am (UTC)
Yay, I am glad that you got the same sense of warm fuzzies that I got when I wrote it. I really do think that they could be really sweet together, so I wanted to portray that in a fic. :)
11th-Mar-2011 09:09 pm (UTC)
I absolutely LOVED this! I actually wish it continued because you started such a nice thing between these two that I'd love to see continued. I want to see if Eleven would try to take the relationship where Ten wouldn't. After ice cream, of course.

Welcome back to writing, don't stay away so long.
14th-Mar-2011 08:20 am (UTC)
Thanks so much! I'll have to try and come up with some Eleven/Martha ideas to continue this sometime. I like them together as well. :)
12th-Mar-2011 11:23 pm (UTC)
Honestly, I've never even considered the idea of Eleven/Martha and I'm not sure how I feel about it.

But this fic? Absolutely adorable. Great job and completely believable.
14th-Mar-2011 08:20 am (UTC)
Aww, thanks so much for giving my fic a chance! I am so glad that you enjoyed it. :)
13th-Mar-2011 03:23 pm (UTC)
This was a great read, I often dream that Martha/11 will meet and she would go traveling with him...
14th-Mar-2011 08:22 am (UTC)
Thanks so much! Yeah, I think Martha traveling with Eleven would be a wonderfully healing thing for them both. Sadly, it'll probably never happen in canon, but one can dream and there's always fanfic. :)
22nd-Aug-2011 05:18 pm (UTC)
Basking in the fluffy goodness.
Wow I can't believe the Doctor finally managed to convince someone of the coolness of bowties.
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