(London, Earth, 2008)
"Come in for tea," Martha says.
The Doctor wavers on the street, standing at some precise halfway point between the TARDIS and Martha's mum's house. It's funny, the way a blue police box doesn't look odd standing there in the middle of the road. It looks solid, like it can stand through anything, just the way Martha always thought the brick house behind her could stand through anything. She didn't go near it, during the year that wasn't. She couldn't have, but even if she could have risked getting back into England, she doesn't think she would have come here. She doesn't think any of the pictures seared into her mind will ever go away; she looks at the Doctor and the Doctor looks at her and he smiles a little, crookedly.
"I can't," he says.
"Mum really wants to thank you properly," Martha says.
"Really I can't, he shouldn't be left alone."
"You don't trust him alone, you mean," Martha says.
The Doctor thinks about this for a moment. "Yep."
"Well, I don't either," Martha says. "Listen, you're sure you've got him sorted?"
"Unbreakable chains," the Doctor says. "At least until he calms down a bit."
Martha thinks of the last time she saw the Master: pale, blank-eyed, jaw set. He hadn't said a word to any of them. UNIT came to take them all down; Martha sat next to Lucy Saxon in the carrier. The poor woman was as pale and blank-eyed as the Master had been, and Martha wanted to say something to her, but I'm sorry didn't really seem like the right thing, and her mind had been filled with other things: the year that never was. Britain without a Prime Minister and America without a President. What on earth they would say to poor Leo. What she could possibly say to the Doctor now.
The whole flight, she kept thinking about Vicky and Sean. Of all mad things, Vicky and Sean and the student housing and the wasted years of Vicky's life and her own voice telling Vicky, get out, and even as she rehearsed it in her head she knew there was no point. It was never about competing with Rose Tyler-- Rose Tyler, who always knew what to say, who was blonde, who had looked into the Heart of the TARDIS-- in the first place, because she's seen now the horrible grief in the Doctor's face when he looks at the Master, and Martha Jones thinks she might understand, if only a little, what it really is she can't hope to replace.
When the UNIT carrier landed, Martha hugged her mother and father and sister very tightly and promised to be back quick as you like, and for the first time in her life no one asked her where she was going or why she was going or when she would be back. The look her family gave her was the look Martha has become used to seeing everywhere she walked in the world, and even the memory of that look frightens her a little. It's just one more reason she can't leave them.
She and the Doctor dropped Jack off in Cardiff; he said words about his team that he might have really meant, but Martha knows: that's only half the story. If Jack had his way, he'd wring the Master's neck over and over and over until the Master is out of regenerations. Martha doesn't know what she might do, but the look on Jack's face when he said goodbye warms her. It's all right to get out: Jack has people who need looking after, and so does she.
"All right," Martha says to the Doctor, with a smile, nodding. A few autumn leaves skitter past them down the road.
"And you?" the Doctor asks softly.
"I can't," Martha says. "Not knowing all the things he's done. Not when there are people here who need me. I just-- can't."
"All right," the Doctor says, but he's smiling. "Martha. Thank you."
He's wearing the same suit he was when he met her. Different shoes, though. He'd chucked the red ones into a bin cos one was full of radiation, and Martha had fallen a little bit in love. He hugs her; Martha squeezes her eyes shut and runs her hands over the smooth cut of the suit jacket down his back, and imprints it firmly into her memory: how tightly he holds her, the smell of cloth and metal and a faint whiff of tea, the way when he pulls back to grin at her again he holds onto her arms for a moment and the corners of his eyes crinkle up a little.
"You never know," she says. "I might save the world again while you're off among the stars."
"You might," he says, and he sounds like he means it.
"Although," she says, pulling her mobile out of her pocket, "that reminds me--" and tosses it to him; he catches it deftly. "Just in case the universe needs saving, and you're up for a bit of fun... I'm going to call you. Check in. You'd better pick up."
"I will," he says, and the smile turns into an outright grin.
"--Doctor," Martha says. "I'm glad you're not alone anymore." She stands on tiptoe and kisses him on the cheek, and gives him a grin over her shoulder, and doesn't tell him she loves him. He knows.
Back inside, she finds Tish and Dad trying to explain the events of the last year to Leo, with minimal success, while Mum hovers and tries to foist tea on all of them. Martha makes a note to buy herself a new phone-- and, come to that, maybe to buy herself a new flat; it's remarkable how little she cares that nearly everything she owned is gone. Travelling with the Doctor-- the year that wasn't-- it's all given her a lot of perspective.
She picks her mum's cell phone up from the kitchen table; the Archangel logo glows on the screen. First thing tomorrow, Martha tells herself. I'm calling Jack and making sure Torchwood gets well rid of those satellites. And I'll need to start looking for a new flat. I should call Julia. I should call Vicky. I wonder what old Morgenstern's up to. I--
She smiles a bit and dials the nearest hospital information to see if she can find Thomas Milligan.
Next: 4x01: Bliss