This is a non-profit work of fan-fiction based upon the television series Doctor Who. All related characters, places, and events, belong to the BBC, and Russell T. Davies, used without permission. This story, with all original content, belongs to the author, © 2008.
A Gift of Peace
Martha stared at the front door of the TARDIS. She could have sworn. . . . But how could anyone be knocking? They were in the vortex, a place outside of time and space, or so the Doctor claimed. No one could possibly be knocking on the front door . . . and yet, she heard the sound again. Definitely a knock! And there was no way in hell that she was about to answer it.
"Doctor," she called. Last she'd noticed, he'd been in his shirt-sleeves, buried up to the shoulders in wires and tubing beneath the console. She hadn't seen or heard him in over an hour, though, and she wouldn't put it past him to have a secret tunnel under there that led to another part of the TARDIS. Easy to avoid her—just claim the console needs repairs and sneak off for a kip. Martha stomped her foot several times against the grating.
"Ow! What's wrong with you?" The Doctor popped his head up and frowned at her. A bundle of multicoloured wires had replaced his tie around his neck. "I was in the middle of a delicate piece of soldering, y'know. Now I'll have to redo the entire matrix, and why? All because Martha Jones is bored."
"Not exactly," she answered, folding her arms.
"No? Well, good for you, then. It's nice to have a companion who can look after herself, for a change." He smiled in what seemed a sincere manner—though with him she could never be positive—and then he vanished beneath the grating again.
Martha heard no reply, except for the crackling sound of wires being melted. A shaft of rancid smelling white smoke drifted up from beneath the floor. She coughed and waved a hand around, but it didn't help. Why couldn't he do these sort of repairs while she took a holiday? He could drop her off on a nice planet with plenty of sand and sun, maybe a handsome cabana boy or two, and no imminent invasions. The idea made her snort with amusement, at least until the knock on the door repeated itself.
She sat on the jump seat and leaned forward to peer into the cavity that he'd disappeared into. "Doctor, didn't you say we're in the vortex?"
"Last I checked," he answered vaguely, his voice floating up to her.
"Anything live here, by chance?"
"Nope, not a thing. Well, nothing you'd recognize, anyway."
Somehow, that didn't reassure her. And the knocking grew sharper, more insistent.
"All right, what about travelling salesmen? Someone dropping off a Bettaware catalogue, maybe?" No reply. Martha got up, crossed over to the doors, and pressed her ear to the wood. She heard no voices, no scratching like someone trying to get in, nothing except the repeated knocking. She frowned and stood on her toes to try and look out the windows, but the glass was either frosted or hadn't been cleaned in centuries; either way, she couldn't see anything outside. And still, someone knocked.
"Too persistent to be a cold-caller," she decided. She strode back over to the console and knelt beside the opening in the floor. "Doctor, d'you get a lot of Jehovah's Witnesses around here?"
"Here?" He made a non-committal sound that echoed beneath the grating. "Wouldn't think so. Mind you, those people will go anywhere to talk about the Bible, but I should think they'd draw the line at preaching within the vortex. A chronovore would just as soon devour a human as listen to what they have to say, and I can't imagine one would have much use for organized religion." He paused and the top of his head poked out of the floor. "Why? You get a sudden craving for a Watchtower?"
"Don't be stupid," she said, and then wrinkled her nose at another plume of smoke. "You sure you know what you're doing down there?"
"It's my ship—of course I know what I'm doing. Ow!" A spray of sparks chased him out of the space under the grating and into the access pit. With a wounded expression, he sucked on his finger and insisted, "I was done, anyway."
He climbed out and replaced the grating over the hole, then stood and slid his suit jacket on. Despite them being coated with grease, he rubbed his hands together. "So! All finished with the repair work. Where would you like to go next? We could look up the founding fathers of the Jehovah's Witnesses, if y'like. Late nineteenth century, if I'm not mistaken. Or, we could find where they print up all those magazines. Maybe take a tour of the factory—ooh, I love a good tour. Especially when they give out free samples at the end. D'you think they do that?"
Martha rolled her eyes. "Sure. Free Bibles—little miniature ones that you can stick in your pocket. Maybe even ones made out of chocolate or marzipan."
"You, Martha Jones, are being sarcastic! So, go on and tell me: what'd I do this time? Something's got you worked up, and usually it's my fault. Did I forget to drop you off for your mum's birthday, again? Or did I—hold on. What's that?" He cocked his head. "Is that someone at the door?"
"That is what I've been trying to tell you about for the last half-hour!"
"Why on earth didn't you just answer it?" The Doctor took a step toward the door, but Martha grabbed his arm.
"Oh, no you don't, mister! You said nothing lives in the vortex. Nothing that we ought to be inviting 'round for tea, at any rate."
"Yes, but . . . Martha! Someone's knocking at the door! Doesn't that interest you, just a little? I mean, who could it possibly be?" His eyes began to gleam with the lust for the unknown.
"Yeah, well, the Tories kept knocking on the door last spring, trying to get my vote for Saxon. Shouldn't have answered it then, and I'm not answering it now."
The Doctor reached for the door anyway. "It's rude to just let them keep knocking, and besides—I hardly think something dangerous would be so polite as to knock."
Martha shrugged and held her hands up in surrender. "Fine. It's your ship. You want to answer the door, go ahead. Don't mind me . . . I'll just be over here, behind you, so that whatever it is will eat you first. That all right?"
He shot her an exasperated look and pulled the door open. "Yes? Hello? Oh, look at you."
"What is it?" Martha leaned to one side, hesitantly trying to see around the Doctor. She saw no salesmen or canvassers, no monsters—only a silver ball floating at shoulder level. As she watched, a mechanical arm unfolded from the sphere and presented a flat computer screen to the Doctor.
"Oh, yes. Right. Um. . . ." He patted his pockets down and frowned. "Martha, have you got a pen?"
The whole thing felt surreal, but Martha obediently produced a Biro. The Doctor used it to scribble something near the bottom of the screen, and the floating ball chirped in thanks. Then, with a flash of gold light, it vanished.
"What's that about, then?" She peered over the Doctor's shoulder, but saw nothing except the swirling colours of the vortex. It was beautiful, all shades of red and blue, but the motion quickly made her nauseated.
"Special delivery. A package! Isn't that brilliant?" He grinned at her. "Help me get it inside."
"You really think that's wise? Accepting a package out here in the middle of nowhere? What if it's a bomb? Or . . . or, I dunno, an alien thing. A dangerous alien thing."
He gave her a look that she easily translated as, "don't be stupid," and she capitulated with a sigh. Together they pulled on the box that had appeared on the doorstep. It lengthened as they tugged it over the threshold, until it finally took up the entire ramp.
"Looks like a coffin," Martha said, wrinkling her nose. It did rather, despite being silver, and she didn't even want to think about who might be sending the Doctor a corpse as a gift.
"Don't be morbid," he replied, crouching next to the box to investigate. Most of the surface appeared smooth and seamless, but he pressed a certain spot and a small section popped open to reveal a number of dials and switches. A piece of paper had been wedged in between the controls, which the Doctor eagerly pulled out and unfolded. "Let's see who our mysterious sender is, shall we?"
His lips moved as he read the message, and a deep furrow appeared between his eyebrows. Martha began to worry, but then the Doctor's expression lit up with sudden hope, then turned blank as he struggled to hide his emotions. She'd seen him do it far too many times to be deceived, and so she held her hand out for the paper. Absently, he handed it to her, and then ran his fingers over the surface of the box.
"A belated gift of peace," she read, "in all good faith. Because I know what it's like to be alone."
"The Face of Boe," the Doctor said, before she could ask. He looked like he might start crying, so Martha knelt beside him and put a hand on his shoulder in what she hoped was a comforting way.
"But he died," she said gently. "How can he be sending you a package?"
The Doctor waved a hand around. "Wibbly wobbly, timey wimey. He's got a vortex manipulator, remember? Used to be a Time Agent, back when he was still human. Jack . . . oh, Jack. What've you done?"
His hands shook as he manipulated the controls, and he spoke quietly. "As the Face of Boe, he had a lot of power. Rich beyond imagination. Of course he would be, having had millions of years to make investments and accrue interest. I heard rumours that one of his research institutes was analysing the multiverse. Other universes. Parallel universes. But I never imagined. . . . Oh, Jack."
The lid of the box slid back with a hiss. Inside lay the body of a woman, young and pretty, with long blonde hair curving around her face. The Doctor inhaled, and Martha covered her mouth with one hand.
"Rose," he whispered, leaning forward to touch her cheek. He jerked his hand back almost immediately, though. "So cold. She's cold."
"What kind of a sick joke is this?" Martha got to her feet and crossed her arms. "Your best friend sends you the body of your ex-girlfriend? What the hell did you do to piss him off?"
"No. No, no, no!" He shook his head several times. "She's not dead! She isn't. She isn't dead."
For a moment, Martha just stared at him. Had he gone barmy? More than usual, at least? But then she looked again at the coffin-like box. She'd thought the fancy controls were to keep the body from decomposing, but what if it was more complicated than that? She knew Captain Jack Harkness, after all. He didn't strike her as the type of man—or Face—who would play such a cruel prank. In fact, she'd seen that he cared a great deal for both the Doctor and Rose.
"All right, then." Martha tapped the side of the box with the toe of her shoe and came to the only logical conclusion. "Some kind of cryogenics? She's frozen, yeah?"
The Doctor nodded and started to babble, his eyes never leaving Rose's face. "It must've been the only way he could do it. The Void is nothing—literally nothing. The empty space between parallel universes. A trip through the Void by ordinary methods would have taken years; no human could survive that. She would've gone insane from the lack of stimulus. So the clever, clever man put her in stasis, let her sleep through the journey. And who knows how long it took him to find us? Searching the vortex for the TARDIS wouldn't be easy. She might've been like this for years . . . decades . . . who knows? Sleeping . . . waiting for me to wake her up."
"Well, go on then, Prince Charming." Martha nudged him. "Wake up your sleeping beauty."
"I would, but . . . well, I can't seem to find the deactivation button. It doesn't make sense." He pulled out his sonic screwdriver and aimed it at the box, but nothing happened. "It doesn't make sense," he repeated. "Why go to all this trouble, but then hide the controls to wake her up?"
Martha smiled. She knew Jack, after all. "I think you're gonna have to kiss her."
"What?" He stared up at her, looking utterly baffled.
"Kiss her! Like in the fairy tales. Snow White? Sleeping Beauty? All those Disney films. The princess is asleep and her true love's kiss is the only thing that can wake her. So go on and do it, already."
"But I can't just—it wouldn't be. . . ." Still kneeling, he rocked back on his heels. After a moment, he ran a hand through his hair, then scratched at the back of his neck. Martha had never seen the man so skittish.
Eyeing the stasis pod as though it might explode, he began to talk rapidly. "I suppose it would only be natural for Jack to encode the stasis controls with a biometric lock. Can't have just anyone who blunders in being able to wake her up, after all. What if the package had been delivered to the wrong address? Or stolen! Of course he had to take precautions—it's the only sensible thing to do, isn't it? So he rigged up a biometric security feature to ensure that only a genetic transfer from me would trigger the deactivation sequence. It's brilliant, really."
He pursed his lips and let out a puff of air. Then he screwed up his face. "Oh, but come on! Did it have to be an oral transfer? There's plenty of other ways to test for DNA!"
Martha frowned, astonished by his reluctance. "But I thought you and her were—"
The Doctor blinked. "Were . . . what? Oh! You mean. . . ? No! No. Well, yes. No. What I mean is . . . it's complicated."
"With you it always is," Martha pointed out. "Now go on. Wake her. She isn't going to mind."
"Yes, but. . . ." He sighed, then his mouth twisted in dry humour. "That's Jack Harkness for you, isn't it? Fine, then."
He bent over the stasis chamber and stared down at Rose for a moment. Then, so slowly that it hurt to watch, he leaned the rest of the way and kissed her.
Martha meant not to watch, but she couldn't stop herself, even though she felt a tiny pang when the Doctor's lips brushed against Rose's. And when the Doctor pulled away from the cryogenic chamber, she found herself anxiously watching Rose's chest for any sign of movement. After all, she knew the depth of the Doctor's feelings for Rose Tyler, and she didn't want to be the one to pick up the pieces if he got this close to getting Rose back, only to lose her again.
She needn't have worried. After a brief span of time during which she swore the Doctor had neither inhaled nor blinked, Rose did both. And then they clung to each other so tightly that Martha began to edge toward the door.
"Martha," he called, over Rose's shoulder.
She'd never seen the Doctor cry, but tears ran freely down his face. He pressed his forehead to Rose's, then looked up again. "Martha, if you wouldn't mind, there's a dial on the console. When you turn it anti-clockwise, and then press the yellow—no, sorry, the blue button just above it, the TARDIS will land at the rift in Cardiff. It's sort of an auto-pilot, in case we ever need to refuel in a hurry."
"Cardiff?" asked Rose, her voice weak from who knows how many years of disuse. Martha felt the urge to give her an examination, to be sure the stasis hadn't done any damage, but she rather doubted that the Doctor would allow Rose out of his arms any time soon, so she found her way to the console as requested.
"Cardiff," the Doctor repeated, flashing a grin at Martha. "We have a causality loop to close. And someone to thank."
"You mean Jack?" Martha tilted her head quizzically, even as she found the dial and button in question. "But he hasn't done it yet. Won't do it for thousands of years."
"Oh, millions," he agreed. With careful movements he helped Rose to her feet. "Doesn't mean we should be rude, does it?"
"Why we thanking Jack?" Rose asked. She looked over at Martha with a curious expression that had nothing to do with her question. "It was the Face of Boe who helped me cross the Void. Showed up at Torchwood one day—just beamed himself in, jar of smoke and everything. Said he wanted to help me. Never said why, though."
The Doctor made a face and glanced at Martha, who tried to look busy at the console. Any minute now they'd be landing in Cardiff, and she didn't want to be the one to tell Rose that her old mate couldn't die and would eventually end up as a pickled head in a jar. And that the Doctor had deliberately abandoned him on Satellite Five, in the far future, and had been avoiding him ever since. She guessed that those days were now over, for how could the Doctor continue to stay away from Jack when the man had given Rose back to him?
"What's Jack got to do with all this?" Rose asked again, starting to look suspicious.
"Erm, well," the Doctor began, and then stopped. He looked a bit desperate as he tugged at one of his earlobes. "The Face of Boe is . . . er, well . . . a friend of Jack's, you might say. Well, I don't suppose he'd say so, since they've never actually met, face to . . . Face. It's a bit of a long story, actually. Very long. Very strange. Full of coincidences and lots of . . . strange things. Oh look! We're here."
And with an obvious mixture of relief and trepidation, he led Rose to the door. Martha followed without delay. She didn't want to miss a single moment of the Doctor stammering and trying to talk his way out of this. Oh, why had Donna chosen this week to visit with her family? She'd pay good money to witness this! If only she had a camera to record the scene with . . . oh, wait. Martha pulled out her mobile and grinned.
Author's Notes: This is another of my "reunion with a twist" ideas, and my first attempt at writing Martha. Thanks go to Little Zink for her excellent beta-reading.