Yet another Ten/Martha piece, this time set in 1913. Not much else to say about it; the fic pretty much speaks for itself.
Standard disclaimers apply. Enjoy!
At first, she'd thought it beautiful.
They'd stepped outside into a world like something out of a novel; rolling hills and babbling brooks and fields guarded by real life scarecrows and children skipping through the streets of a village that could only be described as quaint. Martha had loved it, this world so far removed from the England she knew, from busy, bustling London, had been enamoured with it at first sight, had loved the peace and the tranquillity and the feeling of stillness that London could never have.
The school reminded her of the Enid Blyton novels she'd loved as a kid and she looked around with a smile at the young boys in their perfectly-pressed shirts and well-starched collars, thinking that if she had to spend three months in the past, perhaps this wouldn't be all that bad. She could put up with this, she thought, could put up with a life so far-removed from her own.
Of all the places the TARDIS could have chosen, this one, she thought, wasn't that bad.
Even the insults weren't intolerable at first.
Admittedly, she'd been offended when the chief of staff had looked her up and down in a way that clearly said that there was something wrong with her, but it wasn't as though Martha had never seen that look before and she figured she could put up with it; after all, it was only three months and she had her Doctor to think of (except that he wasn't the Doctor any more, not really, and he'd never been her Doctor, not in the way she'd always wanted).
The snide glances from passing students weren't unbearable; she contented herself with the knowledge that she was probably more intelligent than most of them put together, and when it got particularly bad she'd retreat into her mind and recite the origins and insertions of the muscles of the gleno-humeral joint over and over again until she was breathing evenly and her anger had dissipated.
She couldn't afford to get angry. The Doctor couldn't afford for her to get angry.
Besides, she thought, there were only two and a half months to go.
Two weeks later saw her ready to just open the watch and be done with it.
Glances had become comments, and she wasn't sure how much longer she could stand the casual cruelty of a group of egotistical young men in stiff jackets and over-polished boots. She'd moved on to flexors and extensors of the forearm, now - flexor carpi radialis, palmaris longus, flexor carpi ulnaris, pronator teres, common origin: medial epicondyle of humerus, innervated by the median and ulnar nerves of the brachial plexus - but knowledge was no defence against prejudice.
It certainly didn't make the hurt and anger go away.
She reminded herself again that she couldn't afford to get angry, that the Doctor needed her (but was he really the Doctor any more, this distant, reserved man in 1913 garb? She didn't know for sure), but it was harder and harder each day.
Harder still was watching as John Smith slowly forgot about her.
It was only to be expected, she supposed as she watched him saunter past, head in the clouds, but that didn't make it hurt less, didn't make it any easier to watch as the man she cared for sank further and further into 1913 and all that entailed. Jenny laughed at her, called it silly, couldn't figure out what Martha saw in that eccentric teacher with his mind a million miles away.
Sometimes Martha wondered if Jenny was right.
Her visits to the TARDIS were always accompanied by a sense of melancholy now. She would let her fingers trail over levers and buttons and pumps and knobs and remember gripping his hand as she travelled for the first time, holding on for dear life as they left her world behind. There was his coat, thrown casually over the branch of a support column; she would hold it in her hands as though if she wished and wished and wished, the Doctor would appear out of one of the pockets, warm, brown eyes, infectious grin and all, ready to take her on another adventure to a world beyond the stars.
John Smith's eyes were colder than the Doctor's, and his smile was always distant and reserved, just like the rest of him.
He fell for Joan Redfern and she was sure her world was ending.
Desperately, she watched his instructions over and over again, hoping for some sort of clue, something to help her get through the month, something to make sure it stayed only a month, but there was nothing. She lay awake in bed at night and felt terribly, terribly alone.
Joan didn't like her, she knew, considered her just another servant. And John Smith was no better these days (not that he'd ever been much better to begin with, but Martha could put up with the distance; she just didn't know if she could put up with this). She watched as they became each other's worlds and wondered just how much more she would have to sacrifice for the sake of a man who would never look at Martha the way he looked at her.
Perhaps the worst part was knowing that if it was a choice between her happiness and John Smith's safety, she'd sacrifice anything.
"You trust me, don't you?" he'd asked, and confronted with those eyes, she'd had no choice but to agree.
As she lay awake at night and stared at the ceiling, she could see nothing but those eyes, that smile, that shock of brown hair, the energy that fuelled his every bouncing step. "Thank you," he'd said at the end of the instruction tape, and when he smiled it made it all worth it.
The Family came, and she knew she had to do something.
"It's all up to you," he'd said, and so she tried everything she could, tried pleading and cajoling and finally slapping him in the face, but nothing worked.
Though she should have felt angry, all she felt was guilt at letting him down.
They came to the dance, and as she held a gun to a demon in human shape she hoped against hope that she would think of something soon, because nobody else could help. John Smith had just looked confused; she'd had to yell for him to run, and even then it was Joan (blasted Joan) who got them moving while Martha stayed and saved their lives.
Odd that she was the one who would have to save them all this time.
He yelled at her, asked her what she did for him, and her heart nearly broke. She wondered, then, what she did, why he kept her (like a stray refusing to leave, she thought to herself, though she stopped herself from saying it).
Then she felt the key to the TARDIS, cold metal against her skin, and remembered saving his life and him saying thank you and those eyes and that smile and a blue box that was bigger on the inside and forced back the tears.
The boy brought them the watch and she knew they were all saved. She heard John Smith speak with the Doctor's voice and was happier than she'd been in forever (or so it seemed). She told him she loved him (and hoped he'd forget the next day) and left him to decide, hoping against hope that he'd make the right choice, because she needed her Doctor back.
Even after all this, she still trusted him.
He came back, in the end, and she knew she'd been right.
They stood together and looked over rolling hills and babbling brooks and fields guarded by real life scarecrows and prepared to move on, because that was what the Doctor did, he moved on (and somewhere, a voice in her mind whispered that he'd do the same to her some day, but she ignored it). He thanked her and hugged her and then they were ready to go, ready to leave for adventures beyond the stars.
He'd sacrificed himself, in the end, sacrificed a wife and children and a life of love and happiness, his last chance for a family (since his were gone forever, the victims of their own pride), and Martha knew that moving on for him was the only way he could go on. They stepped into the TARDIS, leaving this world behind, leaving behind boys with guns and the threat of war.
Moving on, she knew, was the way he survived.