Title: In Between All You Wish For and All You Need
Word Count: 4888
Genre: Romance-y ficlet with equal parts fluff and angst
Rating: PG? [everything is pretty innocuous]
Spoilers: S3 of Doctor Who
up through the end of “42”
Summary: The relationship between the Doctor and Martha deepens after the events aboard the Pentallian [i.e. the ship in “42”].
Beta: The super-cool persiflage_1
All your Doctor Who are belong to us
Sadly, I own nothing related to Doctor Who et al, or Martha would have been treated better in S3.
Author Notes: So, I had every intention of writing a fluffy piece between the Doctor and Martha, but either I am completely incapable of writing pure fluff (which seems to be my boyfriend justben
’s theory) or just the mere act of writing a story set directly after “42” lends itself too easily to angst instead. Either way, despite plans to the contrary, this story is the result. It’s not as angsty as most of the stuff I have written (or so I think, at least), but there is definitely angst there. The Doctor and Martha just sort of went in a completely strange direction as I wrote them, so it ended up a bit romantic, sort of angsty, only sort of fluffy, but mostly weird. Anyway, it was inspired by a Martha/10 fanvideo made by pilihalliwell
of the song “In the Sun” covered by Michael Stipe and Chris Martin (go here
for the video on YouTube) as well as that facial expression the Doctor has when Martha comes back onto the TARDIS after kissing Riley at the end of “42”. Regarding the latter, he is obviously upset about the whole possession thing, but I thought, "What if he was upset about Martha kissing Riley instead?" -- and a fic was born. I hope it doesn't suck too much! Thanks so much to the ever-wonderful persiflage_1
who beta’d this piece – girl, you are a star! Any other mistakes are mine. As always, still getting used to writing again, so that is also a handicap. Feedback is happy-making though, so please leave a word or two.
He watched her.
Setting preliminary controls for the mineral lakes of Kur-han, he watched Martha kiss Riley outside on the console monitor. Despite all they had been through that day, despite terrified shrieks and vulnerable whimpers, despite the light of the sun blasting from within and throughout him leaving him stone cold again, this little act felt like it hurt the Doctor most.
Afterward, as she walked inside his ship, joyful and teasing, he did his best to train his emotions. He pressed them down inside himself, an old trick that somehow seemed more sinister and ironic now that all his emotions – all his very essence – had already been pressed against the frayed edges of himself not so long before while he was possessed. She asked him how he was doing, but he changed the subject, emotions shifting like quicksilver and slipping through fingertips.
The game had to continue – her reaching out, him pulling away.
No, he couldn’t tell her how he was feeling. He couldn’t tell her how indebted to her he was. He especially couldn’t tell her how afraid he was of losing her and how, as her pod fell backward into the fiery sun, all he wanted to do was panic and scream and cry and – “I’ll save you!”
He had hoped that screaming it again and again might make it more real, might make it manifest. It was too close to trans-dimensional white walls and faulty levers for his liking. Much, much too close.
He was just glad that he was right this time.
“By the way, you’ll be needing this.”
He pulled a TARDIS key from his pocket, letting it fall slowly into the cupped reverent hands of Martha. He knew that he was giving her more than a key in that moment, pouring himself into her trusting hands, hoping the small metal falling against flesh could somehow be a substitute for words that he needed to say to her but couldn’t bring himself to: “I need you, I want you, and I am in your hands. Please accept me.”
The Doctor was sitting in the library on one of the couches, lost in his thoughts, when he felt the soft weight of Martha sitting down shift the cushion beside him. He’d been hiding for what felt like hours, trying to sort himself out again while trying to distract himself from the endless loop of Martha kissing Riley that kept intruding upon his thinking.
He could feel Martha’s fidgeting nervous energy beside him just wafting off her as she nervously played with the hem of her shirt and snuck clandestine glances at him out of the corner of her eye. He wondered for a moment what she would think if she knew that she probably made him
more nervous, more intimidated, than he ever made her. He also wondered if one day they could reach a place where they could both connect with one another without such reticence, instead of two tectonic plates harshly brushing up against one another causing inevitable little earthquakes between them.
He took a deep breath, securing his mask, and his face widened with a grin and his eyes shone as he turned to face her.
“So, did you enjoy the ice skating? I always thought that the mineral lakes of Kur-han were really rather beautiful myself, especially before they started to build those uber-markets all around them and began to charge far too much money to just skate for an hour on them. Well, for a detoyn,
which is rather close to an hour, give or take ten minutes, well, detoyneets
as they would say on Kur-han. A big waste, I say, but then that is economics for you. Supply and demand and all that.”
Martha eyes looked somewhat startled by his sudden rapid outburst, but her expression quickly softened. She was obviously starting to get used to his eccentricities.
“How are you feeling?” she asked quietly, still nervously playing with the hem of her shirt.
The Doctor blinked at her, trying to fight the emotion rising in his chest. He wasn’t ready to talk yet, at least not about his feelings.
“You didn’t enjoy it? Yes, I know the skates aren’t the most comfortable thing to wear and we did fall quite a few times. Well,
quite a lot. I have some salve in the med bay for your bruises if you need, by the way. Still, the weather was nice. Maybe we could go there another time and you’ll like it more then.”
He was avoiding her line of questioning as much as she was avoiding his – using a battery of words as bricks to reinforce the emotional wall he was hiding behind.
Martha sighed next to him and sat back hard against the back of the couch. “Whatever you say,” she mumbled, folding her arms over her chest and looking the other way.
Now it was the Doctor’s turn to steal glances, letting his eyes roam over the shape of Martha’s face, the softness of her skin, and how inviting her lips looked…
He closed his eyes against the latter as images of her shared kiss with Riley flashed in his mind. A kiss that he wished could have been with him instead, though it was a kiss he knew that he probably didn’t deserve.
The two sat in silence, with Martha looking away with her elbow now propped up on the arm of couch and chin in hand, and with the Doctor looking down at the floor thinking of all the ways he really doesn’t know what to say or do in such situations. Perhaps an old, emotionally-confused alien could never be right for Martha?,
he thought bitterly to himself.
---“Burn with me, Martha.”
The Doctor woke up abruptly, his skin covered in a light sheen of sweat. He was in the library still, but now alone and trembling in the darkness. After Martha had finally left the room sometime earlier (obviously tired of trying to get him to talk, he assumed), he eventually turned off the lights, covered himself up with his coat, and stretched out to try to get some sleep.
The exhaustion of the day was eating at his limbs despite his mental protests, but he chose to sleep in the library due to a fear of bringing any remnants of his possession into the sanctity and safety of his own bedroom.
He knew it was irrational, but he supposed he deserved a bit of irrationality after hosting a living sun in his body and surviving.
He tried to calm himself, the terror of being possessed still filling him, not letting itself get pushed down like he’d been trying to in his most recent waking hours. His flesh felt warm and he worried for a moment that he was being taken over all over again, though he knew on some level that it was just a feverish reaction and that things were just working their way through his system.
Or that is what he kept telling himself at least.
He took in a deep breath and closed his eyes, repeating self-assuring mantras in his head. The door opened to the library and he opened his eyes in surprise. He could see the light from a torch moving along the ceiling and then the wall. His body tensed and in his haze of still waking up he found himself confused as to what might be going on. He could hear soft footsteps approaching in the dark, but he kept himself still, hoping it was just another nightmare that would pass.
He watched a dark shadow pass near the couch and then settle into a big chair not too far away. It placed the torch down on a table beside the chair and the Doctor could see in the flash of light that it was Martha. He quietly breathed a sigh of relief at her presence, though he was surprised that she seemed to not notice that he was also in the room. She flipped off the torch and he could soon hear the sound of light sobbing fill the quiet room.
The Doctor felt torn. On the one hand, he wanted to leave Martha to her private moment (at least to her perception) and then on the other, he wanted to try and comfort her. It only took a moment before he decided to intervene, even if he had no idea how to be what she needed him to be.
“I know that my snoring can be quite atrocious at times, but there’s really
no need to cry.”
The Doctor could hear Martha gasp and then heard a fumbling noise before the bright light of her torch was shining directly at him, almost blinding him.
“What…what are you…?” Martha stammered, using her free hand to wipe off her face.
The Doctor held his hands up in mock surrender, squinting against the bright light. “I was just sleeping here on the couch. Now Martha, please be a dear and shine that elsewhere. Unless you are purposely trying to blind me.”
“Oh!” Martha exclaimed, hastily switching off the light and fumbling again to replace it on the table.
Things fell into darkness again and the Doctor strained to make out Martha’s shadowy figure across the room from him as the swirling flashes of blues and reds from the light that had been in his eyes faded from his vision.
“So, are you going to tell me what’s wrong?”
“Why should I? It’s not like you ever do,” Martha snapped, her voice trembling.
He was quiet for a moment. While what she said was true, that didn’t make it sting any less for him.
“Fair point,” the Doctor responded evenly, shifting to stand. He walked toward her, waving his hands out in front of him to find his way.
“I wanted to be alone,” Martha said quietly and the Doctor latched onto her voice to try to find her. “Sometimes I come here and just sit in the dark to be alone and think.”
His hip bashed into a table and he nearly tripped on the way, but soon the Doctor found himself in front of the chair Martha was sitting in. He slowly knelt before her, reaching into the darkness to find her hand.
“In libraries one is never truly alone. All these books filled with stories and people see to that,” he offered, finally finding her hand and taking it into his own.
Maybe that was why it was one of his
Martha gasped at the contact and her breathing suggested that she had begun to cry again. “Martha, why are you crying?” the Doctor asked gently, caressing her knuckles with his thumb.
“It was just such a hard day,” she began after a long moment of silence, “and I guess I hoped that after everything…well, I hoped you wouldn’t pull away like you did. I needed you and you just…shut yourself off from me like you always do.”
The Doctor sighed and let go of Martha’s hand. He then patted her knee and stood up. “Might I join you?”
He could hear Martha shifting on the chair and smiled that she was making space for him without dispute. The chair was wide enough for two – at least in very close proximity – and it wasn’t the first time that he had wanted to curl up with Martha on it, especially as she was always sitting on it to study or read.
The Doctor used his hands to feel out the space before him and then slipped into it next to Martha. The fit was somewhat tight, but he maneuvered his arm around Martha’s shoulders to help with things being more comfortable.
Once settled, he stroked his fingers lightly through Martha’s hair, willing himself to speak again. “I am sorry,” he said to her quietly, weakly, “I was just afraid I was going to lose you today. In fact, I nearly did. I am still reconciling that.”
Somehow in the darkness, without her eyes on his, he felt as if he could be more honest, more vulnerable, more open.
Martha shifted beside him, moving to wrap her arm around his waist. “I was afraid I was going to lose you too,” she replied sadly, “In my head I can still hear you screaming in that stasis chamber and how you sounded when…when you had the sun inside you. I felt so utterly helpless.”
He moved his hand down to her shoulder to tighten his grip on her in a small hug. “You were brilliant back there. Brilliant as always, Martha. I can always trust you to take care of things.”
“But what if I fail sometime? This world that you live in, we
live in, sometimes is just so beyond my comprehension that I worry perhaps someday the monsters will be too much and I won’t be able to save you for once. Even worse, sometimes I think that you don’t even want to be saved or you wouldn’t keep putting yourself into these situations time after time. It’s like you travel from place to place, taking in all of the life, but despite all that you are still just dying inside. It makes me wonder why I’m even here.”
The Doctor swallowed hard, feeling both the weight of Martha’s words push against him in ways he usually fought and the rise of emotions usually held down.
“Do you wish to go home? I can take you back. I don’t want you to be here against your will. I’ve made that mistake before, I don’t want to do it again,” he stammered, each word fighting its way up through his throat and out. Please don’t go,
he wanted to beg of her, but the words stayed trapped within him just below the surface.
“Doctor,” Martha replied, sighing deeply, “I’m not saying that I want to go home. I’m just saying sometimes I’m not sure what the purpose of me being here actually is. Or, more specifically, why you want me here.”
“I – “ he paused, the darkness not even enough for him to feel safe and bold with his confession now.
It took several long moments before more words were spoken. This time they were from Martha.
“Maybe I should just go. I love traveling with you, Doctor, but sometimes you are just far too much to bear. I haven’t been studying to be a doctor for this sort of thing, chasing you around the universe like some wayward schoolgirl. I’m more
than that. Just sometimes I forget that when I am with you and that scares me.”
“Martha – “
“Doctor, I’m just tired of the games. Perhaps you have just caught me at a bad moment, but right now I’m just tired of it all. You run hot and cold and I never know whether you are coming or going. I might not say the right thing at the right time, but I still do my best, you know. I might not be Rose, but I am me, yeah? I am me.”
“Martha – ”
“Just let me go,” Martha whispered, struggling to disentangle herself from the Doctor’s embrace to stand.
As she began to stand up, the Doctor pulled her back down, moving swiftly to press his face against her neck, to nuzzle into the crook just above her shoulder. Martha could feel a slight dampness from his tears against her skin and it surprised her.
“Martha, please don’t go.”
It was a whisper so broken, so fragile, and so quiet that Martha could barely believe that he had even uttered it.
The Doctor and Martha had barely said any more words after he’d asked her to stay, they instead just lay there holding one another, with Martha lightly stroking the Doctor’s hair as he wept against her.
Soon Martha could tell that he had fallen asleep and let her own body succumb to sleep as well. Huddled together in the dark of the library with their arms wrapped around one another, Martha felt more safe, more important, than she had felt in such a long time. She was getting little pieces of the puzzle that was the enigmatic Doctor handed to her bit by bit by bit and it made her somehow happy. Perhaps he hadn’t shared that much of himself with anyone,
she’d thought, at least not for a very long time.
Hours later, she awoke.
She was alone on the chair, the Doctor’s coat tucked neatly around her and his blazer balled up behind her head as a pillow. The lights were on in the library, but very dim. She looked around for the Doctor and was sad for a moment to find he was no longer in the room.
Martha shifted to stand, still somewhat weary with sleep, and tucked the Doctor’s coat and blazer under her arm. She made her way out of the library and down the corridors of the TARDIS toward the console room. She could only guess that is where the Doctor was as he spent so much of his time there.
“Good morning,” she said as she entered the console room.
The Doctor was standing in front of the console, using his sonic screwdriver to adjust or fix something (or whatever it was that he was always doing), just as she had suspected. His hair was disheveled from sleep (more so than usual, at least) and his shirt was half unbuttoned with his sleeves haphazardly rolled up to his elbows. When he looked up at her, his expression was dark and vacant for one long moment before he switched on a gleeful smile to seemingly distract her.
“Good morning,” he replied with saccharine false cheer.
“Here’s your coat and blazer, thanks,” she said, setting down the items on the captain’s chair.
“No, thank you for bringing them to me, sometimes I forget where I leave them,” he said with another quick tight-lipped smile before turning back to whatever he was presumably working on.
“Well, I’m going to have a shower and get out of these clothes,” Martha said, gesturing at her own wrinkled clothing that she’d slept in.
The Doctor looked back up at her and for a moment she thought he seemed as if he was going to say something very important by the way his brow was furrowed and his expression opened up.
And he went back to work, his usual loquacious self rendered down to one small word. Martha was still feeling too tired to push for more this time.
Martha slipped into the shower, letting the warm water loosen the tense muscles of her body and reveled in the pleasure of it. She tried not to think of the Doctor, but thoughts of him haunted her like a spectre nonetheless, as they often did in such quiet moments. She found herself getting so frustrated over him, so frustrated over trying to figure him out and understand the strange mixed signals he was always giving her. She tried to remind herself that he was not human, that he was an alien,
and that perhaps aliens are always so confusing. Still, she felt frustrated that every time she seemed so close to unlocking the secrets of his personality, he instead suddenly seemed to be even more unfathomable.
After her shower, she wrapped a towel around herself and made her way from the en suite back into her bedroom. She was startled to find the Doctor sitting on her bed, looking very lost, and apparently waiting for her. He was flipping through a magazine she’d had on her end table, but quickly tossed it aside when she entered the room.
“Hello,” she said, confusion evident in her voice though she tried to sound unaffected.
“Can I ask you a question?” he asked quietly, pressing his palms against his knees as he looked up at her, his gaze seeming to intensify with each second.
“I suppose so,” she replied, still standing in the doorway to the en suite with her arms holding her towel up, unsure whether she should approach him.
“Why did you kiss Riley?”
The Doctor’s tone surprised her, as it sounded completely analytical and neutral, much like he was asking about the weather or something as equally innocuous. Perhaps it was an innocuous question to him, she wondered, even if it was very strange.
“Why did you kiss Riley when we were leaving yesterday?” he repeated, his tone still neutral.
“I don’t know,” she shrugged, “He was sweet and cute and we almost died together. It seemed like the right thing to do, I guess.”
“So, you kiss those you almost die with?”
“Well, it’s not something that generally happens thankfully, but yes, I suppose. I mean, I guess it depends on the person and how much I like them and all that, but yes.”
He stared back at her for a few moments and then slapped his knees and stood up. “I see,” he said, his tone still excruciatingly neutral and unreadable, and walked quickly out of the room.
Martha just stood there, frozen in shock and confusion over the exchange. The Doctor had confounded her yet again.
She got dressed and took some time to mull over her conversation with the Doctor. She couldn’t understand why he would be asking her about Riley and what he even derived from her answer. She wondered for a moment if he had been jealous, but he hadn’t shown any negative emotion about the situation that she could tell. Do aliens even feel jealousy?
she wondered, What about aliens that barely even notice her existence half the time? Maybe he was just curious about human behavior? He’d never really talked about how many humans he’d known…
She wasn’t sure if she was more surprised that he’d even known about the kiss or that he was asking her about it.
Eventually she joined the Doctor in the console room and noted, frustratingly, that he acted as if they’d not even had the conversation about it in the first place.
Martha was surprised when it finally happened.
Days later, she was standing in the kitchen in the TARDIS, just preparing some tea for herself when she was almost startled by the Doctor coming up behind her and placing his hand on her shoulder. She turned to face him and was just about to ask him if he had wanted some tea as well when his mouth pressed against hers in an urgent kiss.
Martha sighed against him, letting him push her against the countertop as his tongue slowly slipped out to touch hers. The Doctor made a noise in the back of his throat that sounded somewhat like a growl as the kiss deepened and Martha’s knees began to feel a bit weak. This was certainly not like the kiss he’d given her on the Moon,
she thought to herself, toes curling a bit in response, that really was “nothing” compared to this.
His hands slid into her hair and she mirrored his movements sliding her own hands into his. Martha tried not to buck against him, tried to fight the urge to press her body against his, though desire was beginning to ignite inside her.
The kiss ended, the two of them pulling back from one another and Martha gasping a bit for air.
“Doctor?” she stammered, feeling somewhat dazed.
“Martha,” he replied, stepping back from her and looking down at her with a wolfish grin.
“Wha-what was that?”
“We almost died, both of us, back on the Pentallian the other day, and other times really, the platoon of Judoon on the Moon, Lazarus…well, I thought it was the ‘right thing’ to do,” he replied, rather matter-of-factly.
Martha’s heart sank.
She had hoped it was some sort of long-awaited romantic gesture from him, but now she thought he was simply doing it out of some sort of bizarre compensation for what they’d been through together.
“Of course, how silly
of me,” Martha responded sarcastically, turning around to pour herself some tea from the kettle.
She quickly moved away from the Doctor, sitting down at the table in the kitchen, yet refusing to look at him.
The Doctor walked over and sat down across from her, propping his elbows up on the table and cradling his chin in his palms. He was watching her do everything she could to avoid his gaze.
Martha took a sip of her tea and then set the cup down, finally returning his look with anger still evident in her eyes. “You really are
an alien, aren’t you?” she said, her voice almost a snarl.
“I never professed to be anything to the contrary,” he replied calmly.
“I just…I can’t believe…” Martha stammered, her tone exasperated. “Right thing to do?”
“You said that is why you kissed Riley…”
He had that neutral tone again as he looked at Martha, his chin still in his hands and his expression almost blank.
It only infuriated Martha more.
“Was it? How was it different,
Martha? Care to explain to me?”
Martha was surprised, the Doctor had sat up straight and his tone was now laced with sudden sarcasm and what seemed to be a bit of his own anger. His eyes, once blank and almost expressionless, were now dark and almost menacing.
“I don’t understand what you are getting at, Doctor,” she replied, the surprise from his shift in mood tempering her anger somewhat.
“You said it was different, but how? It’s a simple question. Why, for instance, did you not kiss me
on the Pentallian?”
She stared back at him, trying to understand where he was coming from and feeling distinctly as if he was speaking another language entirely.
“Is that what this is about – me not kissing you back there?”
The Doctor sat back in his chair and folded his arms across his chest as he regarded her. “What if it is?” he said, his tone a strange mix of flippancy and distress.
“You have got
to be kidding, Doctor. I mean, you don’t have a clue about humans, do you? You tell me again and again that I can’t be interested in you, but then you get…upset or whatever this is because I didn’t kiss you instead of Riley? At least Riley showed some interest in me.”
“I know more about humans than you think. I have been around a long time.”
“You certainly don’t always show it, do you? I mean, here you are acting like a jealous boyfriend – “
“I am not your boyfriend. I just – “
“You just what,
“I just,” his voice lowered and suddenly his expression was as fragile as it had been when he spoke of Gallifrey back in New New York, “wished it had been me.”
The Doctor reached out tentatively to the table top before him, looking down at it as he slowly traced the patterns in the wood with one long finger. “I am really not good at this,” he said, his voice now very quiet and still not looking at Martha, “In fact, I am just so very bad
at this. Here I am making a mess, when I only wanted to make things better between us. Maybe having the sun inside me broke me that much more.”
“Doctor – “ Martha said softly, tentatively sliding a hand along the table to caress his with her fingertips.
The Doctor looked down at Martha’s hand touching his own and swallowed hard. “You asked me why you were here the other day, Martha,” he said, still only looking down at the table, his voice now only barely above a whisper that Martha found herself straining to hear. “The truth is that I need you. I don’t know that I can give you what you need back and I know that it is only a matter of time before you get bored with me or angry with me or tired of me and you leave. It’s inevitable, really. But right here and now, I just wanted you to know that I need you and I will do what I can to give you what I can. That may or may not be enough for you to stay, but there it is.”
The squeak of Martha’s chair across the floor pulled the Doctor’s gaze up to look at her. She’d stopped touching his hand and stood up, slowly making her way around the table toward where he sat.
Once before him, she reached out and stroked his cheek, her expression no longer angry but now more gentle. “Then I will just take whatever you have to give me, accept you for whatever you are and if I have to leave sometime, I’ll leave when the time is right, yeah?”
Martha leaned down and pressed her lips against the Doctor’s, lingering there for a sweet kiss. A few minutes later she pulled back and the Doctor looked up at her with confusion in his eyes. “Why did -- ?”
Martha reached forward and pressed a fingertip to the Doctor’s lips to quiet him and moved it up to affectionately touch his nose.
“For the Pentallian. For you. For us.”