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The Contemplations of Martha Jones

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        Mum says that after saving the world twice, isn't it about time I settled down and gave her some grandkids?

"I'm busy," I tell her. I don't bother to point out that I only helped save the world and that Leo and Tish have the grandchildren piece covered. I do, however, call up Tom.

It takes awhile for the call to go through and during that time I consider all the different ways the Daleks could have killed him. There are too many, and a single shot the kindest end. I stare at my bedspread and focus on the floral print, blocking the darkness from my head.

Then he gets on and my heartrate goes back to normal.

"Martha!" he says and his voice is sharper and higher than usual. "Thank God! I've been trying to get ahold of you since last night."

My gut lurches guiltily. After saving the world I'd gone off for drinks with Jack and Mickey Smith. By the time I made it back to my flat I was much too hammered to listen to all 19 messages on my phone, much less place a trunk call to Africa.

"Sorry," I tell him and I really am. I wish there was a way to explain everything I do. How after literally having my hand on a doom button and not having to press it – well you want to jump and cheer and get drunk and have a good snog and I did – only without the snogging of course, since my fiance was on another continent.

"When can you come home?" I ask.

"Why? Are you all right? When I heard about New York I swear my heart stopped --,"

I cut him off. "Tom, I'm fine. I'm in London --,"

"London?"

"-- top secret, love. But the Doctor came. We wouldn't have gotten through without him."

He is quiet for a long moment. I know he has always been uncertain about my strange stories of flying through time and space in an old police box. God knows what he'd do if I told him the truth about the year that never was and our first meeting that he can never remember.

"I can't leave now," says Tom. "The destruction here was brutal. Those things --,"

"Daleks."

"They are Daleks? I thought there were only four of those left?"

"There weren't any," I say, thinking of a long ago Manhattan and a sewer of nightmares. "It's a long story."

"The sky, Martha," Tom says quietly. "They say the earth moved."

I'm quiet because I don't know what UNIT's official position is and whatever Jack might be offering, I still work for UNIT. There are some things that even fiance's can't know.

There doesn't seem to be more to say, so we exchange love and kisses and hang up. There is a space between us that I don't like, but I don't dwell on that now. I have a heavy weight on my conscience and I don't know how to handle it. I sink my head onto my knees and suddenly feel very, very tired.

The floor creaks and I look up to see Mickey standing in the door of my room. He's still dressed in his rumpled, dirty combat gear and from the smell I know he hasn't showered yet. It doesn't bother me. I've smelled far worse in hospitals and alien invasions. It's the smell of a man who helped save the world, who could mind that?

"Morning," he said, blinking at the light from my window. "Got any asprin?"

I toss him the bottle that I've already used to sooth my own hangover. "Where's Jack?"

He grinned a bit ruefully. "Captain Cheesecake is out buying us clothes."

Of course he was. Neither of them owned anything in London -- hence the crashing in my flat.

"An advance on your Torchwood pay?" I ask. "Strange, I didn't think you two had similar styles."

"We don't. I told him, nothing girly now," says Mickey. "And Torchwood... yeah. I guess. Until something better comes along. Once you get the alien fighting into your system it's kind of hard to quit."

I agree. "Once you know it all, it seems wrong to just sit back and not help."

"Yeah."

I feel like I should mind this big man standing in my bedroom, but I don't. Even though I have only known him for a day, it feels like much longer. Saving the world can do that to people.

"Breakfast?" I ask, getting up and moving towards the kitchen.

"Sure," he says and follows. "Got any Sugar Puffs? They just don't taste the same over in parallel world."

I make a face at him. "What kind of doctor would I be if I let you have sugar for breakfast?"

"Oh come on, we just saved the world! A bloke can have one breakfast of sugary sin!"

"Whoa, kids," says Jack as he walks in, arms full of shopping bags. "I'm gone an hour and you're already at it?"

"That'd be slow by your standards," says Mickey with a grin.

"Jack, behave," I tell him sternly. "Or I'll kick you both out."

"Before breakfast? Tsk, tsk, Martha," says Jack. "Musn't be rude, now."

I pull out a box of Sugar Puffs and plop it in front of a still smirking Mickey. "Taking in beaten up alien fighters is not in my job description, you know," I remind them.

"Hey, that's winning beaten up alien fighters," Mickey says quickly.

"Yes, well, I'm still doing this out of the goodness of my heart."

Jack drops a kiss on my cheek. "I know you are, sweetie. We appreciate it." He throws one of his shopping bags at Mickey. "Here, go clean up before you put me off my food."

Mickey raises an eyebrow. "That's an incentive?"

"That's a bonus to not stinking up Martha's kitchen," says Jack.

Mickey rolls his eyes and heads to the shower, digging through the shopping back as he goes. "Better not have gotten any girlie clothes."

I give Jack a questioning look and he raises his hands innocently. "T-shirt and hoodie, I swear. Ianto would be horrified, but what can I say? Can't alienate the new team members." He reaches for the box of Sugar Puffs and I notice he is already cleaned up and wearing a new blue button up. How he always manages to look so crisp, I have no idea. Maybe they're born that way in the 51st century.

"So, considered my offer?" he asks.

"Maybe," I say."

"You'd have more freedom in Cardiff, a great view of the ocean, plus Gwen would be thrilled to have another girl around."

I smile. "I rather fancied she liked being all queen bee."

A chuckle escapes Jack. "Okay, good point. But in all seriousness we desperately need a medic and a techie and I can think of no one who would fit in better than you and Mickey Mouse."

"I heard that!" Mickey roars from the bathroom.

Jack banters back and leaves me to think. He won't press the issue, but I know he needs an answer soon. Ianto and Gwen need him back at the Torchwood Hub, he can't camp out in my flat waiting for my answer.

I get up. Maybe fresh air will help. "I'm going for a walk," I say and hurry out.

His face haunts me. The face of the man I once loved – my best friend who is utterly impossible in every way. Asking me if I am really making the right choice, frowning when I say I don't know, when I say I want to go back to Torchwood, stay with UNIT, do anything that involves guns or fighting or generally anything saving the world that doesn't involve the sonic screwdriver or TARDIS I don't have.

It's always like this. His standards are so high, but no one can meet them but him. It's not fair. We're not all Time Lords. We're human. We have to protect ourselves with the tools we have.

I close my eyes and force even breaths out to keep from panicking. I remember what I'm trying so hard to forget. A tiny room in Germany. My hand on a button that will end the world. And I will press it. I will absolutely press it. It is not a bluff.

How had I turned into this person? A year ago I trekked across the world carrying hope to save humanity. Now I would press a button and end everything for us.

And yet I still feel I made the right choice -- the only choice. The rule of the Master had been terribly cruel to humanity and the horrors I had seen in the year that never was still made me sick to remember. Yet I knew beyond a doubt that what the Daleks would do to the entire universe was unimaginably worse. There was no choice. If the Doctor could not defeat them, then our world must fall to save all other life.

It was the right choice. I knew that. And yet it is one thing to make a decision that you will spend five seconds regretting. It is another to make a decision that you are left wondering about your entire life.

As I walk down the street, I pass a mother with her daughter and I wonder, what would she think if she knew that my way of saving the  universe was to kill her little girl? Even if the only other alternative was that we would become fuel for a reality bomb that would destroy us all minutes later? Would she agree, like Jack and Mickey and Sarah Jane, or would she disagree, like the Doctor?

Will I spend the rest of my life asking myself this?

I need to talk to some one who will understand. The one person who followed the Doctor without becoming a soldier. The one person who can tell me whether or not I made the right choice, and who, being human, has the right to say so that a Time Lord does not.

I get my car and head for Chiswick.

###

I've never met the man who answers the door, but he has her eyes and I know at once that he is her granddad, Wilf.

"Eh? And what do you want, then?" he asks me, his words blunt but not unkind. Oh yes. He was Donna's.

"Hi, I'm Martha Jones," I say with a cheery smile. "Is Donna home?" I wonder if he's heard of me.

His face changes and he hurries out onto the steps, closing the door behind him. When he speaks his voice is a furtive whisper. "You're one of them? The Doctor's friends?"

"Yes," I confirm, wondering why he looks so afraid. "Is Donna all right?" Maybe she didn't come home to visit her family and they don't know that she has survived the Dalek invasion and become half Time Lord.

"Yes -- no -- well, I don't know," says Wilf. He is fumbling in the pocket of his jumper and pulls out a much folded letter. "He knew you'd be coming, see. Knew you'd want to talk to her. He said it would be all right, you'd know what to do. That you were a doctor -- a real one with a stethoscope and everything."

I smile for a moment because those words are so like the Doctor, and even though I know very well that he carries a 32nd century stethoscope in his big brown coat, I also know what he means.

But then I can't smile because Wilf looks so worried and it sounds as thought the Doctor has left Donna and why would he leave the only other Time Lord in existence unless something were very wrong?

"What happened?" I ask.

Wilf hands me the letter. "He said this would explain everything. I'd invite you in for a cuppa while you read, but you can't see Donna until you know."

"It's all right," I say and touch his arm reassuringly. "I'll read it and then I'll come back and see her and everything will be fine."

Only it might not. But my words seem to comfort him so I leave him and go back to my car.

Once seated, I unfold the tight wad of paper the letter has become in Wilf's pocket and see that my name is inscribed on it. The ink is deep TARDIS blue and the letters loop in the strong confident script I know so well. I open it.


Dear Martha,

My brilliant, wonderful compassionate Dr. Jones. I have one last thing to ask of you and I know you won't say no.

I'm afraid it's Donna. Time Lord/human metacrisis has never happened before. Because it can't happen. Donna was burning up -- running out -- dying -- I could save her but only if I took it all. Every moment in the TARDIS with us had to go and she can never know. She can never, ever know. You, my brave Martha, saved the world and no one ever knew. Donna saved the entire universe and she can never know.

She was such a wonderful thing. You saw. The most important woman in the world. And now that has all been taken away from her. She can't see me, but I think you are safe. Watch after her for me.

-- The Doctor


I set the letter down and close my eyes. No. Oh no. It can't be true.

Bloody hell. Couldn't we just once have a happy ending? Ride off in the sunset and all that? Did it always have to involve parallel universes and concentration camps and broken hearts?

I get out my phone and call Jack.

"I can't come to Cardiff," I say, and then I tell him what has happened to Donna. He can't believe it either, but he understands why I can't leave London. "Of course call me if Wales is going to fall into the sea, or something, but I need to stay here."

"You do what you have to do, Martha."

I tell him not to wait for me. They've got Jack's vortex manipulator, they should use it to teleport to Cardiff right away. "All my love to Ianto and Gwen," I say. "And you of course, Jack."

"Without question, Martha Jones."

I hang up and know that I'm really hanging up on a path I could have taken that -- while not easier -- would have been simpler then the one I'm about to take now. In Torchwood, at least, I would be surrounded by friends.

Wilf is standing in the doorway of the house, watching me anxiously. I force myself to put on my best reassuring doctor face and get out of the car.

"Everything all right?" Wilf asks.

"It will be," I say and hope my smile doesn't look forced. "I guess I need to meet Donna 'again'."

"She'll be all right, won't she?" Wilf wonders. "The Doctor promised."

"She will," I say. But I know the Doctor's limits better than everyone. I know he can be wrong.

We go into the house and there is Donna, sitting in front of the telly. She's completely fixated on some game show and doesn't notice me.

"Who was that at the door, Granddad?" she asks.

"This is Martha," says Wilf. "She -- uh -- I lost my hat and she helped me find it. Terribly bad wind today, you know."

She looks up at me. "Awful nice of you. Granddad's always loosing everything. Oooh!" Her attention jerks back to the game show. "Oh, no, don't be stupid, Neil! It's Lennon! Lennon you idiot!"

I'm shocked. This was Donna before she met the Doctor? This shallow, rude woman? No wonder he wanted me to stay around. Underneath this abrasive exterior was our kind, humble friend, but she was hidden so deeply that it would literally take an out of this world experience to change her. Only apparently the Doctor thought I could draw her out again.

Well, it wasn't the hardest task he'd ever given me. Would be nice if he said 'please' but he knew I could never say 'no'.

So I'm going to stay and I'm going to become friends with this new Donna and perhaps we won't be best mates but I have to try. I owe it to her and she deserves it and I'll never forgive myself if I don't. And I've got enough to try and forgive myself for without adding something else on.

The next question comes on and it's a medical one. I answer without thinking. Donna gets the next two easily, and I get the moon landing. Then Wilf gets one about Saturn and suddenly we're all on the couch shouting at the contestants like a crowd at a football match.

When Donna and I answer the last question at the same time she turns and gives me a high five. "They should get us on that show!" she crows.

"Yes!" I agree. And then I realize that I'm laughing as though Donna and I were two ordinary girls watching a quiz show and didn't save the world 24 hours ago.

"You like pub quizzes?" I ask Donna.

"Yeah, they're all right," she says.

"I haven't gone in awhile, but they used to have good ones at this little place near my flat. We should go."

"Yeah, okay," Donna agrees.

We exchange cell numbers (even though I already have hers) and Wilf smiles and all I can think of is Donna, fastest temp in Chiswich, fingers flying over the controls of a Dalek command ship. I'm smiling as I say goodbye, but Donna notices the tear even before I do.

"Hey, what's wrong?" she asks and for a moment she is Donna I knew when we defeated the Sontarans and met the Doctor's daughter.

But she can't know the truth so I tell her I have allergies and hurry out to my car. Then I'm crying like a baby and I don't see Mickey until he has his arms around me. Somehow I don't question this, I just cry and I'm glad to be with someone who understands. He doesn't stop me and I realize that I haven't let myself go like this since the day I felt the Master and became a soldier.

"Thank you," I sniffle and pull away. There's a big wet patch on his shirt. "And it was new and everything."

"Nah," says Mickey and doesn't even look down. He smells clean now, like my shampoo.

I shake my head. "I'm sorry. I'm not usually like this. It's just been... an overloaded weekend."

He chuckles. "Trust me, I'm used to bawling girls. Rose used to cry over Eastender re-runs."

"Rose," I say and have to think for a moment. Of course. Mickey had come through with Rose and her mum. Of course he knew them.

"Yeah. I was part of that equation before the Doctor showed up. Gave it my best and all, but you can't compete with him. Not even with his clone."

His voice is bitter, but resigned.

"Oh, I don't know," I say. "I left him."

It's Mickey's turn to look confused. "You and him?"

"I wished. He only ever wanted her, though."

"Heh, well, good for you," he tells me and there's admiration in his smile.

I realize that he understands the hold the Doctor can take on a girl's heart, and that he realizes just what it took for me to walk away. I'm embarrassed because it's not something I want to brag about, but a part of me is glad to finally be appreciated for that.

"You must have traveled with them, though, if you ended up in the other world," I say. "That can't have been fun."

"First adventure I was impersonated by a plastic clone. Then I was accused of murder. Then I saw Rose falling for him. Then I was the robot dog. Then I watched parallel universe me die. No, not fun."

"You too, huh?" I say. "With the parallel you dying thing?"

"What, did he repeat that one?"

"Well, it wasn't his fault, it was crazy Sontaran cloners and it wasn't her fault either... it was crazy though. I liked the witches in Shakespeare better."

His eyes widen. "No way, you met Shakespeare?"

I shrug. "Yeah, that was a perk. Almost canceled out the angel statues that sent us into the past where I had to work in a shop for three months."

"Ha! I got to see Madam de Pompadour through a fireplace."

"What?"

"Long story. Spaceship, French castles, the Doctor snogging a hot historical bird --, "

"Oh no way!" I exclaim. "He did that with me too! I mean, in front of me. With the historical person snogging bit."

"Ouch," he says and looks sympathetic.

"Yes," I agree and look down at the diamond on my finger. "You  move on, though."

Mickey eyes the ring. "Where's your bloke at, then?"

"Africa."

He whistles. "Long ways away. If I had a girl like you, I'd keep close to home."

I bristle defensively. "Tom wanted me to go with him, but UNIT needed me. It's not his fault, it's mine."

"And that's going to change when you tie the knot?"

"It's really not your business," I say sharply. "Why are you here anyhow? I thought you were going to Cardiff with Jack?"

Mickey shrugs. "Not so great at following orders. Thought I might set up on my own, find weird alien stuff online and all that."

"And what about paying the bills?" I ask.

"Oh, right. Bills. Forgot about those. Well I could freelance for the big guys for awhile. If they needed some extra muscle with inside knowledge of weird alien stuff, y'know?"

"That sounds doable," I agree, and the idea is really kind of appealing.

He gives me a 'look'. "I was going to see if you wanted to join me, but it sounds like you're bound up heart and soul to UNIT so --,"

"I'm not," I interject quickly. "I'm leaving."

I didn't know until I said it that I'd made my decision, but I have. And it's the right one.

"That's a change," says Mickey.

I sigh. "They ordered me to blow up the world. I would have. The Daleks couldn't be allowed to destroy the universe. But what if I don't agree next time? There needs to be someone other than UNIT or Torchwood protecting the earth, and it shouldn't be Sarah Jane's kids."

He nods. He understands. He also stood there with Sarah Jane and Jack and offered the Daleks a terrible ultimatum. He knows my guilt -- and why we have to find a better way. "Guess it'll have to be us, then."

"I guess so."

This, then, must be what you do after saving the world. Twice. You go on saving it as best you know how. There will always be sacrifices, but you keep your friends and family around to remind you what you're fighting for and you keep doing whatever it takes. Including bearing the burdens you can't pass off to others.

Only my burden feels lighter now. It's still mine, but I don't have to go forwards carrying my guilt alone. It's not how I expected, but there is someone else who understands, someone who can share this task without judging me for it. And I think together we'll find a way to save the world that the Doctor would be proud of.
WARNING! This story and the notes contain spoilers for Doctor Who through the end of the 2010 specials!

I've long wanted to write a story about what happened to Martha Jones and Mickey Smith after the events of Journey's End. There is such a long gap between when they walked off with Jack and when they appear hunting a Sontaran in "The End of Time". We know they got married, we know they had a honeymoon in Africa, and we know they're doing freelance. Other than that their story is very much a blank page.

In this short piece I've taken a very small period of time (the story takes place over just two or three hours) and endeavored to set up everything that happened next. Unexpectedly this meant the focus of the story was very much on Martha's internal dealing with the Osterhagan Key and whether or not she made the right choice and how to live with that.

I also wanted to foreshadow her break-up with Tom Mulligan and establish her connection to Mickey. Many fans felt this was abrupt - and it was, but in my opinion the abruptness doesn't mean that they aren't a good couple and I tried to lay this out.

I also can't imagine that Martha would not try to track down Donna. They had more adventures together than any other companions whose relationship didn't predate the Doctor and being a doctor herself, I think Martha would be the ideal person to monitor Donna.

Re: The Vortex Manipulator. I did a lot of research on this because Jack clearly knows how to repair it even after the Doctor sonics it and uses it to teleport off earth in Children of the Earth: Day Five. So the fact that the Doctor sonics the teleport off in Journey's End does not, to me, signify very much.

In the end, these are all my thoughts and speculations and how I see all of this playing out. I base it on Martha and Mickey's appearances in Doctor Who, and Martha's three episodes in Torchwood. I've not drawn on any of the novels or comic books, as these are not considered canon.

This is also my first short story in a very long time (I've spent the last five years working almost exclusively on novels) and it is also my very first attempt at writing in the present tense.

I owe a debt of gratitude to Amanda D. and Elenaflutterby for helping me identify Sugar Puffs as an appropriately British breakfast. And all my thanks to Matthew Bowman for serving as editor and helping me smooth out the passage where Mickey lays out his plans for his future. Further thanks to Andy ([link]) for the final nitpicky edits and helping me with the em dashes. :)

And of course much thanks to Russell T. Davies, Freema Agyeman, Noel Clarke, John Barrowman and the rest of the cast and crew that brought the first four seasons of New Who to life.

Want more Doctor Who? Check out my other short story, The Legacy of River Song [link]
© 2012 - 2021 Elenatintil
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elena-flutterby's avatar
Ee! I enjoyed reading this very much; you characterised all of them so well I completely believed in them, and you filled in all of the gaps that I was left dissatisfied with in the show, especially the question of what would become of Donna. I'd love to read more of what happens next, if you every have the time to write them! (Oh, and thank you for crediting me :dance: )
CarpeGuitarrem's avatar
Side note regarding Donna: have you seen The End of Time?
elena-flutterby's avatar
I have not, no, although I know a sketchy outline of what the plot is. Am I right in believing that Donna gets her memory back, and then loses it again?
CarpeGuitarrem's avatar
Yeah, very briefly.
Elenatintil's avatar
Thank you so much! Detailed comments mean so very much to me :). And yes, I do have plans to write more - we'll see what happens though!
CarpeGuitarrem's avatar
THWOOOOOOOOOOOOOOA.

That was like a great big breath of nostalgic goodness. Donna's my own personal favorite (and by far the companion with the most tragic conclusion, IMO), so the scene at the Nobles' was fantastic. And I really liked Martha's general characterization.

Oh, and it was nice to see Jack again. Plus...yeah. All-around great piece, and I think you captured the themes of it incredibly well. (Even down to the Doctor's letter!)

I noticed a couple small typos, by the by. I think there's a quote mark in there which shouldn't be, and you use the phrase "happen ending" where I think you mean "happy ending". But that's just minor nitpicking.

Fantastic, brilliant, and very, very cool.
Elenatintil's avatar
XD I'm so lad you enjoyed it! :) The Doctor's letter was possibly the hardest part to write because he's so iconic and I was just terrified that I would muff it up terribly. So I'm glad you approve!

Oh dear, and here I thought we got them all! Could you send me a list of the ones you caught? I'd appreciate it muchly!
CarpeGuitarrem's avatar
Also, there were just so many great moments...Sugar Puffs, and "Mickey Mouse", and Martha/Mickey comparing notes about The Doctor...and the ending. All loads of great stuff. Heck, if you wanted to cut loose and have a little fun, you could probably write a few stories following up on the two of them, even throw in a few 11 cameos if they fit.
Elenatintil's avatar
XD That is totally and exactly the plan. Originally I was going to make it longer, but then it became this very small self-contained bit... and I told myself I could write sequels if I wanted. :)
CarpeGuitarrem's avatar
Excellent. Well, should you get around to any sequels, I'm sure they'd be excellent.
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