The world was quite possibly coming to an end. That was the first thought in Martha Jones' mind as she rematerialised in a patch of crispy, frozen grass, watching the false aliens rain down terror and destruction upon the world.
The rest…it flashed by so quickly it seemed like only a few moments of watching in horror as the small globes brought about the end of all she knew, fire flickering on all sides as smoke twisted and swirled into the air like angry dragons. Hopelessness stilled her heart as the full view of what was happening made the air catch in her lungs.
It was only yesterday that they were in Cardiff. It was only yesterday she'd been quite content in her jealousy over the abstract concept of Rose Tyler. Knowledge may be power, but ignorance was bliss—she'd been happier not knowing. Knowing seemed to corolate in her mind with the end of the world. So in that sense…ignorance really was superior to knowing even the slightest bit of truth regarding the legendary Rose Tyler, who knew the answer to every problem and, apparently, never wandered off.
It wasn't Martha's fault that she hadn't understood, but she hadn't understood. That much had been made painfully clear to her as she listened to the Doctor and Jack discuss the reason why the good captain couldn't seem to stay dead.
She'd thought Rose had been the ex-girlfriend. Or some object of his affections, maybe obsessions. She didn't know—the Doctor never gave up much of himself, and she had trouble figuring out what he'd mean, the first time he'd mentioned Rose, saying that they'd been 'together.'
Mostly she'd spent the last months wishing he'd forget about someone who had obviously hurt and left him, throwing away something potentially spectacular with the universe's most magnificent man. Rose had to have left him—why would he pine for her so desperately, saying that he wished Rose was there, that she'd know what to do. He hadn't wanted Rose to go. That much was obvious, even to Martha, with her limited experience with relationships due to the demands of her education.
Jack…made her feel like she was being noticed, though. Like she was a woman. But still, his first thought, upon seeing the Doctor had been to ask after Rose. Just what the hell had been so special about Rose Tyler, that two men were hung up on her? So special about someone who had both of them hugging and bonding over their mutual smitten-ness for some woman who'd left them high and dry?
Above her, angry grey smoke twisted along the orange fire in the sky. She had seen the future of the human race. What would become of that future—of her own past—if humanity fell today?
Martha forced herself to draw in another breath, something that had turned into serious work, suddenly. That wasn't all that great for an involuntary system, that was for sure.
She hadn't managed to gather much on her non-competition up to that point—Rose was with her family, and 'safe,' whatever that meant. That was—other than the myth and the legend. Obviously, the woman knew exactly what to say or do in any given situation with the Doctor, had left a trail of men across the universe, and was blonde.
The last detail suddenly seemed incredibly humourous after their wild stay in 1913 and the Doctor—nay, John Smith's falling for Nurse Redfern. Maybe the woman had been a substitute (perhaps only in the ghost of his subconscious) for Rose Tyler. Other than hair colour, Martha couldn't fathom what the two had in common—they seemed (from what Martha could deduce) to be such worlds apart. It was something Martha spent far too much time thinking about—what it was about Rose Tyler that had ensnared the Doctor so.
It wasn't so much that he did not notice her. Martha was kind of used to that. There were times when she felt invisible in her family or in her studies, just caught up in the tidal wave of her own life. It was that she couldn't figure out the competition—couldn't fathom her, really.
And it wasn't that she felt she was competing with Rose. She felt like she was competing with a memory—one so gripping that the Doctor didn't notice any attentions Martha paid him, friendly or otherwise. She kept him company and kept him from self-destructing, but she was a poor substitute for whoever this magnificent Rose Tyler had been. And on the level of a woman in love with an infuriating man, it hurt. But there was another level that it caused something beyond pain in Martha's heart—the one where she couldn't figure out how to be what the Doctor needed. She cared for him far too deeply to want to see him flailing about. She was almost a doctor herself—she wanted to mend him, help him in any way she could…and he had some ailment that she couldn't treat. All because she could not unlock the mystery of what Rose Tyler had been to him.
Now she knew. Not only had Rose been the heart and soul of the TARDIS trio, as it had been before their unfortunate separation, but she'd been the missing pieces of at least one of the two men left behind.
Martha knew she couldn't live up to that. It would be ridiculous to try. She had no idea how to help the Time Lord she saw as being so desperately in need of tending to, but she'd find some way to be there for him, as a friend. Even if he didn't notice her.
Well, that's what she'd thought, at least, before her world had collapsed around her, with her parents and sister the hostages of a mad-man, the Doctor incapacitated and humiliated at the feet of his enemy and Jack in no position to help himself, much less anyone else. That was before the skies glowed orange with the terrible destruction going on around her. It was a world without hope—one without a tomorrow.
Now she not only wished she could heal that terribly injured piece of her broken Time Lord, by being Rose to him, even if she knew she could never be. But she wanted to fix this broken situation and her damaged and dying world—she wanted to burn brightly with the sort of selfless devotion that had ended the Time Wars and had brought Jack back from death—albeit in a an imperfect manner. Martha Jones wanted be Rose Tyler to her family, to Jack and the Doctor…to her world.
I'm coming back…
She heard herself vow it, even though all that she knew seemed to be falling to ruin around her.
Martha Jones couldn't be Rose Tyler—there was only one of those. In this universe AND in the next, it appeared. Rose Tyler was just that powerful and mythic—now in a very tangible sense, instead of the shadow that hung between herself and the Doctor all these many months.
She would not be like Rose…it wasn't her path to burn with Time.
Martha didn't know what road was hers to take, but in all the confusion, when she had nothing to rely upon, not even that the sun would set in the west, she had some odd talisman in this woman who had gone before her.
She wanted to hate Rose Tyler and had tried. It had been easier when she'd been convinced that Rose had abandoned the Doctor to his own self-destructive devices. But now, that she'd pieced together that they both cared for the Doctor, more than anything else in the world, what could she do?
As she bolted for the tree line, the acrid smells of laser fire and burnt flesh tearing at her sinus cavity, she knew, almost mystically, that she'd manage to find her own way to do as Rose had done. She'd find a way to set this right—if she had to move heaven and hell to do it.