A/N: As I said in the A/N for Attention, I'm in love with the whoniverse again, hence the not quite up to par, yet still posted fics. Read, review, and enjoy.
He was sure it was staring at him.
He was staring back.
His chin was resting on his arms which were folded in front of him on the kitchen table, his chair backed into the cupboards, fingers tapping on the wooden surface.
The phone was standing against the garibaldis. He hadn't stopped getting them in, even though Martha had long since departed. He didn't even like them, yet he had an entire cupboard full of the things. He supposed it was just habit.
His eyes were beginning to go dry; he hadn't blinked in a good few minutes which definitely wasn't good for his eyes. He wasn't too fussed; he could just get a new pair any time he liked. Although he did like these ones. Nice and brown and lovely. That was his eloquent description of them. Martha could probably say something a bit better than that, talking about himself wasn't a strong point of his, even if it was just something as shallow and inconsequential as eye colour.
Those nice and brown and lovely eyes focused on the mobile phone in front of them once again, the thought of Martha reminding him that he was waiting for her phone to ring.
He waited a long time.
Martha was examining her new phone. It had all sorts of gadgets that she would never use, yet Tish assured her otherwise, saying that everybody needed an indecent number of pixels on their built in camera, that the speakers would mean that music would sound like it was coming straight off a CD, and that it had the fast internet service of all phones on the market.
She didn't seem to hear Martha when she said that had she wanted a camera, she would have bought one, that she already had an iPod, and her new laptop was doing absolutely fine in the internet stakes.
Her mother had treated her to both the phone and the laptop, seeing as she had saved the world, and her laptop had been demolished in doing so, her phone given up for the sake of hanging onto friendship. Martha got the feeling that her mother was pre-empting any 'oh but I saved the world, do I have to make the tea?' type lines, but perhaps that was her being cynical.
The first thing she had done upon turning on her new phone was input her old number. Every time she came close to hitting the call button, every time she paused on his name in her contact list, she bottled out, snapping her phone shut and shoving it into the depths of her bag.
Finally, she renamed 'The Doctor' as 'ZThe Doctor', so she would never have to go past him when searching through her list. Her whole 'getting out' plan was going exactly as she had expected.
She supposed it was an improvement. Where she hadn't been able to tear her eyes off him before, she now couldn't bear to look at his name in her phone.
She knew it would be a different story if he walked right up to her and greeted her warmly, his eyes dancing with manic happiness.
Those eyes…nice and brown and lovely.
"Yeah," Martha murmured to herself, "stick with the science, love."
He'd installed a hands-free kit.
He was completely and utterly ashamed of himself. An ugly black hands-free kit marring the control panel of his beautiful Tardis. It wasn't as though he even needed it, either. The damn thing hadn't made a sound the entire time he'd had it, so God knows why he'd felt like he had to put it in.
Deep down he knew why he'd felt the need. It was the same reason as to why he felt the need to keep the phone constantly charged to full power, the same reason that it never left his reach – he wanted to make sure nothing would stop him answering the phone if it rang.
When it rang. She had been clear on that. She just hadn't specified when exactly 'when' was.
Had she gotten out so completely that she now thought him an utter fool? Did she hate him? Was that why she hadn't phoned? Was she all right? Had something happened to her? Had she simply forgotten her old number?
Was it just that she didn't need him anymore?
No, scratch that, she'd never needed him. She'd wanted him. That much had been clear from the beginning. He allowed himself a small smile at the ego-boosting thought but it disappeared quickly.
The Tardis sent a jot of electricity through him and he jumped.
"Yes, all right!" he growled, "I know, it's ugly and horrible and primitive but you'll just have to deal with it. You miss her too, don't deny it!"
The Tardis didn't deny it, and instead decided to give him another shock.
Every corner she went around, she hoped he'd be there, taking his tie off to answer a later-asked question, or else leaning against his magnificent blue box, trying to look cool but actually looking rather sulky.
She wished she hadn't said she'd call him. She'd much rather they just bumped into each other and embarked upon some wild adventure. That way she wouldn't have to make the first desperate move.
She didn't want to contemplate the thought that he might have found another girl, and actually getting the truth from a single phone call was enough to make her want to throw her mobile at the wall.
Tish would kill her if she did that.
She nibbled half-heartedly on a garibaldi and sighed. They didn't taste as good as they used to. Tea was a little less comforting and made her stomach swirl as though it were going down the plug hole.
Her mum had asked her if she'd seen her Agatha Christie novel and Martha had practically fled the room.
She wondered how Vicky was getting on.
One day, it rang.
He tripped over a spanner and almost broke his jaw on the control panel in his haste to answer it.
"Oh, sorry, I think I must have got the wrong number."
"I – oh, Doctor, sorry, I've still got Martha's old number in here."
"How is – everyone?" he had paused, about to say Martha's name but decided it would be more polite, and sound less needy to ask how they all were.
"We're fine. And Martha's getting on fine, she's taking her exams in a few weeks, getting a bit panicky about it but we all know she'll pass with flying colours."
"Of course she will," the Doctor said confidently. "And…" he stopped, not knowing how to voice his concerns, "she's happy, is she? She's completely happy?"
"She's fine," Francine told him. "I do wish she'd find someone to settle down with, though."
"Oh, she's not…seeing anyone, then?" his voice had risen in pitch.
"No," Francine replied, and the Doctor could tell she was frowning, her lips pursed together in a critical sort of expression. "Says she's still tired from all that walking and can't be bothered with love." It was then that the Doctor heard a faint voice in the background.
"Are you talking about me?" there was the sound of Francine's hand covering the phone while she spoke to Martha.
"Martha's just arrived, if you want a chat?"
He had already hung up.
He had hung up as soon as he knew she was there.
Martha didn't tend to feel sorry for herself, but there were exceptions to every rule.
She poked glumly at her ice cream with her spoon, rarely consuming a spoonful, choosing to watch it melt instead. If only he was more like ice cream. If only he stopped being hard and cold with a few prods, and soon became warm and easy going, much like her desert.
She was comparing him to ice cream.
She felt like slapping herself.
But then that would just remind her of when she had slapped him.
She needed to get her head sorted.
Her phone was leaning against the wine bottle on the café table and she glanced at it a little too often.
Garibaldis were fast becoming a comfort food. It wasn't uncommon for him to arrive in the control room after a long night of tinkering (ears alert all the while for the sound of a phone ringing) and find several empty packets of biscuits littering the floor.
He needed to find someone who wanted to destroy the universe, and fast, because it would not do to eat all those biscuits and not do any running, and it would not do to sit around inside the Tardis when there was an entire universe outside his doors.
It especially would not do if there actually was some maniac who was hell-bent on destroying the universe.
The only problem was, saving it was probably a two-person job.
Not one. People aren't meant to come in ones.
But that was a human thing, and after all, what did humans know?
"I got a first!" Martha squealed excitedly down the phone to her mother. "A first! I didn't think I'd be able to – a first!" She was laughing hysterically, her fellow students-now-doctors as well as her I've-got-to-re-sit friends milling around her, all just as jubilant as she was, or else half-heartedly congratulating the others, waiting until they were home before they succumbed to whatever emotional outlet their disappointment had in store for them.
"My daughter, the doctor," her mother said proudly. Martha's face fell and she tried to shake off thoughts of him, just for a minute, maybe two, just so she could celebrate.
Apparently her brain had no mercy, because Martha's interest in her mother's praise diminished quickly and she wondered if he'd be just as proud of her.
She didn't know what would have been worse – him brushing it off saying he knew she'd be able to do it, or him pulling her into a bear hug, lifting her off her feet and telling her she was the best human on the planet. One would be a slap in the face, courtesy of reality, the other would give her all sorts of actions to analyse for deeper meanings, and once she'd done that she'd be given false hope.
For the first time in a long time she scrolled all the way to the bottom of her contacts list, her finger hovering over the call button, much like old ladies let their finger hover over the stop button on the bus before they finally decided it was the right time to press it.
The right time wasn't that day.
She didn't want a slap in the face or false hope.
He wondered if he should just land the Tardis in the middle of her flat.
He also wondered if he would find anything there except some singed orange curtains and sooty turquoise walls.
On top of that, he wondered when that damn phone was going to ring.
He had decided that he would not phone her, that she needed to contact him when she was ready. After all, her heart couldn't mend in an instant, and he didn't expect it to.
He just wished it would.
It wasn't that he was in love with her, though. He just missed her more than he ever thought he would. He missed her questions and her smiles and her ability to cope on her own. He missed the tea that she brought him in the morning while he was tinkering, the gentle nudge of her foot that quite plainly said 'tea's up'. He even missed her little fits of jealousy, because she, like a lot of humans, didn't want to share him. He allowed himself a small smug smile whenever he thought about that, but it didn't stay long.
Nothing and nobody seemed to stay long.
She wished he would just stop messing about and come and demand that she help him defeat some alien presence.
However, no matter how peeled her eyes were, or how much she kept her ears pricked for any sign of anything, anything remotely out of the ordinary, she couldn't find any evidence that would suggest the world was under attack by aliens.
Not that she particularly wanted to help save the world again, but it would be a legitimate reason to call, a proper reason to see him.
She couldn't think of anything more rubbish than 'I fancied a chat' or 'Long time no see'.
Had it been a long time for him? Had it just been hours? Or had it been centuries? She didn't know.
She didn't want to know.
He had grown slightly sick of garibaldis. He'd eaten far too many of them. He was digging through the biscuit cupboard trying to find something other than those demonic snacks, preferably some Jaffa Cakes or something similar, but it was to no avail.
He would have gone to Earth to pick up some more, but knowing the Tardis, she'd probably land him right in the middle of the little shop in Martha's hospital.
It wasn't fair, but life didn't tend to be fair.
He knew that better than anyone.
He managed to uncover some slightly stale chocolate digestives, and munched on one as he walked along the corridor, holding the rest of the packet loosely in his hand.
Then he heard it ringing. He dropped the biscuits and sprinted towards the control room, cursing himself for not keeping the phone with him, for leaving it on that stupid hands-free kit.
He yelled in frustration as the phone stopped ringing, mere inches from his fingertips.
He scowled at the screen.
1 Missed Call.
As soon as it went onto voicemail, she hung up. She didn't want to leave a message; she had a habit of babbling on messages that was the height of annoyance to most people.
She sighed and slipped her phone into her pocket, not expecting it to ring in return. If he was busy then that was fine. If he didn't want to answer it, that was fine too. If he couldn't answer it...well, that wasn't fine but there wasn't much she could do, being stuck on Earth and God knows how many years away from him.
Perhaps he would call back later.
She doubted it though.
She took a deep breath and stepped out onto the street, intending to let the dull journey home to put her into autopilot.
It was then that she looked up and saw him sprinting through the people, shoving them out the way with apologies thrown over his shoulder as he continued to run. She looked around, wondering what the threat was, who was going to try and take over this time, but then he skidded to a halt right in front of her, bent over slightly, hands on his knees as he got his breath back.
"What are you doing?" she asked in surprise. A few more shallow breaths entered his lungs before he answered.
"You said -" another few breaths before he continued, "you said if that phone rang," he stood up straight now, chest still heaving from his sudden burst of energy, "I'd better come running. So this is me, coming running."
Martha laughed in relief and allowed herself to be swept into a bear hug.