Perfect Chaos

A/N: Obviously, nothing belongs to me. Martha is pretty generic in this, considering we know nothing about her. This spurred from a comment my friend made about Martha being in the same outfit all through the series three trailer. TenxRose shippy, and kudos to you if you can spot the old companions' clothes.

--

"Have you always had that jacket?" the Doctor had absently asked Martha one day, around two weeks into their travels, as if it was the first time he'd actually noticed that she had been in the same outfit for far longer than normal laundry habits would have allowed. He scrunched up his face in concentration, as if trying to remember.

Slightly exasperated (just because he refused to change his clothes didn't mean she should adopt the same habit, and she'd thought that perhaps he just didn't have a washing machine), she reminded him that she hadn't brought anything with her; there hadn't been time.

"Well then, why didn't you say so?" he had exclaimed, as though she were the one in the wrong for not complaining while he had – as ever – played the typical, unobservant male and failed to notice the lack of variety in her wardrobe for two whole weeks. Sometimes she found it very difficult to believe that he was an alien of a superior race; in many respects, he was just a human bloke.

Then, of course, he had added, "Ask and ye shall receive!" following it up with a quick whack of the hammer to his spaceship, and Martha remembered exactly how different the Doctor was.

--

So, here she is in the TARDIS wardrobe, gravitating towards a section that seems to be more full of women's clothes than any other area she has yet stumbled upon (though she continues to come across a few misplaced kilts and cricket jumpers as she rifles through the racks). Quite why he has so many female clothes is something Martha isn't entirely sure she wants to know.

Skimming past the Roman togas and full, Victorian-style skirts, she finally arrives at an area strewn with more modern clothes; a pair of trainers are hovering in a corner, looking as though they'd been kicked off in a hurry, and she can just spot a pair of jeans folded over a chair a few metres in front. Running her fingers across the rail in attempt to find something that sticks out to her, she walks past an array of nondescript trousers and dresses, stopping to look amusedly over a whole shelf full of rainbow, knee-length socks and grimacing at something that looks suspiciously like a loincloth. She skirts around a hat stand, complete with some sort of straw bonnet, a beret and a pink coat, and laughs her way past some terrible 70s-style shorts and dungarees.

That was when she found it. At the end of the corridor, just before it branches back out into what are presumably the Doctor's necessary clothes for various trips back in time, Martha ducks past a spiral staircase with various garments hanging (apparently at random) off the steps to reach the chair she'd seen earlier.

Looking around, she realises she's ended up in something that seems, to her, much more like a wardrobe than the rest of this maze of a room ever could. For a start, it's in a corner, not to mention small and poky; the clothes are arranged by type rather than era; and all seem to belong to a particular style. Martha's eyes flick over two of the walls, noting the multitude of zip-up hoodies and the pair of dungarees with a skirt like she'd worn when she was twelve. There's an old, battered, man's leather jacket that looks quite out of place, but it's not difficult to tell that this section had belonged to a girl, and a fairly modern one at that. These clothes have an identity, a kind of possession about them – they make her uncomfortable, weave a strange sense of unease about her. She feels almost like she shouldn't be here, as though this is another one of the ship's – and the Doctor's – secrets that isn't quite ready to be surrendered yet.

Martha concludes that this person must have left in a hurry, perhaps without warning, and wonders what happened; nowhere else has there been quite such a collection of personal belongings. Most things in this wardrobe are general outfits, time-specific but designed to fit anyone who tries them on. A hat here, an unusual pair of shoes there, certainly, but they are mere fragments of wardrobes long gone. They never imply an entire lifetime or an unexpected departure like these clothes do.

There's something else, though. Unlike the vast majority of this little wardrobe's contents, none of those hats and shoes had been sharing a shelf with the Doctor's suits.

--

"Martha? Did you get lost?" he calls, ambling idly into the wardrobe and flicking through the racks of clothing to check she hadn't been buried by a wayward scarf. "Second left, first right, I said. They always take the left!" he complains to an unsuspecting mannequin. "I know it's sort of big in here, but I've never lost a companion to the wardrobe before…"

He eventually finds her just past the collection of 12th century dresses, sitting on the ornate chair and examining…

"Ah."

Martha shoves the skirt away in a quick flash of pink and petticoat and plasters what she hopes is an innocent look across her face. "Sorry." She looks down and realises she hasn't changed yet, despite the fact that she must have been gone at least an hour. "I just got…"

"Overwhelmed?" the Doctor prompts, feeling rather like that himself. His eyes flick to the skirt, now folded haphazardly on the shelf with more than half of it hanging over the edge, and back to Martha again as he pushes a memory down. A small voice echoes through his head, a terrible attempt at an American accent full of giggles and Cockney roots, but he brushes it away.

He's become worse at hiding things, she notes, or perhaps she's just better at spotting them now. "Yeah. There are a lot of clothes in here." Not least that skirt, something he had obviously recognised immediately.

The Doctor says nothing. It's almost as if he knows what's coming. Perhaps he's been asked all this before.

"Did it all…" she begins, watching his guarded eyes skirt across the rows of bright, zip-up jackets behind her. His fingers twitch. This isn't going to get her anywhere. She sighs and takes the direct approach, gesturing at the large wardrobe room in general. "Who was she, Doctor? Was this all her stuff?"

He laughs, and she's surprised at how genuine it sounds. "No, no. Half of this – more than half, in fact – doesn't belong to anyone, really, it's just sort of here. She's…" probably worn all of it, though. Had a bit of a thing for dressing up. He trails off, a memory floating unbidden to the surface of his mind, and this time he can't push it away. Rose, in one of the Georgian dresses (it was actually a night-gown, but he'd let that pass at the time), laughing as he raised her arm above her head and span her round appreciatively, the skirt billowing out and her feet turning in neat little circles until she got too dizzy and collapsed into him, still giggling like a schoolgirl. You look beautiful. She had then, too, even though he had never told her. Even in a dress that was decidedly inappropriate to wear outside the TARDIS doors, cheeks flushed and eyes dancing.

Martha coughs. When he blinks, the image fades, flying blonde curls and the sound of forgotten laughter swiftly replaced by the wall of clothing and the uncomfortable silence of the TARDIS wardrobe, but he swears he can still feel her hands clutching at the front of his jacket as she steadies herself.

"How come you've got so much girly stuff, then?" Martha interjects, her curiosity overcoming her embarrassment. She thinks perhaps she can get him to talk today. He'd been quite abrupt with her at first, but recently he's let his tongue run away with him a little more, spewing out words at ninety miles per hour as though it was an old habit he'd simply been restraining from for a while.

The Doctor groans. "Oh, don't you start accusing me of abducting women, too. A man can only take so many knocks to his reputation!"

Slightly bemused, she decides that it had been a joke – albeit one she wasn't in on – and so chooses to be light-hearted back. Cryptic comments referring to events she had never been part of were hardly a rarity with the Doctor. "I was thinking more along the lines of dressing up as them, rather than stealing them away, but whatever floats your boat…"

"A lot of people have worn these dresses, Martha, but rest assured I'm not one of them." She is silent, still awaiting an answer, so he explains further. "The TARDIS provides a lot of it. I'm not entirely sure where from; never got round to asking, come to think of it. I've travelled with a lot of people – and a lot of them, like you, didn't bring anything with them. Nip, nada, zilch. Sometimes they need clothes. Even those that do lug their worldly goods on board don't tend to own dresses suitable for 18th century England or 51st century Mars, and certainly not both." He looks her up and down. "A purple jacket's all well and good, but I won't be taking you to Paradon-11 in that. They'd eat you alive. Literally. Possibly with mustard."

"And the rest?" Martha asks, unfazed by his rambling having learnt very quickly that, once he gets going, only around one word in five of what he says is worth listening to.

The façade falls for a moment and he pauses. "Things that have been left behind."

"So all this…?" She gestures to the walls behind and to her left, eyes lingering on the huge pink skirt, too afraid of what might have happened to the girl to finish her question properly. For the first time, the reality that people really do die, that this life really is dangerous, hits her.

The Doctor nods.

"Who was she?" she asks quietly, desperate to know something more about this faceless girl, to understand who she had been – the kind of person the Doctor travels with, and the kind of person who would leave him. Knowing what she'd done, who they'd been together, would explain a lot about him and, as he normally seems completely unprepared to open up about anything, she's going to take advantage of this opportunity and learn exactly why he seems such a broken man.

"Which one?" he laughs, though this time completely without humour. The thought that he's had a long enough string of companions to ask that question startles her slightly, but she pushes it down to think about later.

"This one. The one who had her own wardrobe and yet still seems to have left half of her clothes in with yours," she persists, pulling at the denim jacket nestling between two pinstriped suits to illustrate her point. "The one who owned that skirt."

A strange expression comes over his face, one she doesn't recall seeing before. It is determined, somehow, and perhaps even a little lost underneath all the bravado. Thinking she's finally cracked him, she is therefore more than slightly disappointed when he simply says, "She's gone" and leaves himself, sweeping out of the room in a swirl of trench coat and soft footsteps. She loses sight of him in amongst the coat racks before she even has time to protest.

--

A week later, Martha is standing in the doorway of an abandoned room, eyes scanning the slightly rounded, half-made bed with its pink duvet, the few pictures scattered over a cupboard made out of some wood she can't identify and the clothes left haphazardly across the floor. One of the ship's many spiraling staircases runs up through the room in the furthest corner, taking various items of clothing and pretty alien artefacts up with it. There are tree-like structures leading up to the domed roof in here, too, just as there are in the console room, and the floor is the same metal grating with soft white underlighting.

It's all elegance, romance and light, despite the mess, making the few magazines and pieces of modern technology scattered about look rather out of place. A pair of incredibly high-heeled, fifties-style shoes sit by the bed, an empty hair-dye bottle on the counter. One of the magazines is open in the middle of the floor, the story inside perhaps never finished. It never would be now.

The room is right next to his, from what she can surmise – the door next to this one seems to be the one through which he disappears when he isn't in the kitchen or library, and there's a small, closed-in stone archway linking the two rooms. That and the soft pattern of flowers engraved into the corner of the doorway had been what had given it away, in the end.

There's something almost shrine-like about this room, the way that it's been preserved and left – presumably – exactly as its previous occupant left it the last time she stepped out of the door. Perfect chaos. Did she know she'd never return? Judging from the clutter left behind, the utterly lived-in look of the room (except for the dust and the creak in the door that suggests it hasn't been opened for a long time, the occupant could easily have just stepped out for a cup of tea), Martha guesses she hadn't.

It is completely silent, even hushed, like the gateway to another world. For the Doctor she supposes it really is, in a way; a gateway to his past and all those memories he has so obviously been trying to push away ever since she herself stepped on board.

"You found it, then." It's not a question. She doesn't jump when he comes up behind her, having half expected him to find her here. He seems to know everything going on in this ship.

The pitch of his breathing changes slightly, and Martha doesn't need to look at him to know that he's doing it again, pushing away the memories. How could they not come, when he is facing every single object that defined her during her stay with him?

After a long pause in which the Doctor doesn't take his eyes off the room, he ventures, "Rose."

The syllables echo around the painfully empty room, disturbing the long-kept silence. As he closes his eyes briefly, Martha feels she is intruding on something no one should be witness to.

The slight hitch in breath just before he uttered the name gave enough away, let alone the unshed tears evident in his speech. The word itself tells her nothing; random images of women she's known flash into her mind, nameless people she's bumped into on the street. None of them seem to fit. She can't put a face to this mysterious woman, but she's beginning to see that perhaps he doesn't want her to.

It's an appropriate name, though, Martha thinks. Everything this woman owned or touched seems to be in one shade of rose or another, right down to the soft lighting of the room – a complete contrast to the harsh green found elsewhere on the ship. She catches sight of an empty vase on the cupboard, behind a photograph of a middle-aged, fair-haired man, and wonders briefly if it was ever filled with the flowers this girl was named after.

She wants to know more, but she doesn't want to interrupt, feeling that somehow now he's opening up a bigger part of himself than she's ever been privy to before. So, she simply stares, unfocussed, at the sloping wall opposite, waiting for him to continue like she knows he will. Now he's finally said it, there has to be more. She hears him swallow, and next time he speaks it's with more certainty, more passion. "Her name is Rose."

Is?

For the first time since he found her staring into this fragment of his past, she turns to meet his eye. Unsurprisingly, he isn't looking at her. Still she turns away. This moment has nothing to do with her; it's about him and for Rose, and if that sideways glance hadn't told her enough, his voice had certainly done it.

For a moment she's glad he didn't bring his eyes down to look at her; she doesn't want to be a part of this pain, to even feel a fraction of what he is going through, standing there in that arched doorway and trying to keep himself together for the sake of something that is now lost forever. Her gaze flicks from the pale pink wall down to some of the discarded clothes, lingering over what is very clearly his tie. It had obviously been dropped to the ground, landing on top of an inside-out fuchsia tshirt only to be forgotten and left behind in the aftermath of what happened next, and finally, finally, she thinks she understands.