Dedicated to Masked Reviewer, for her ever present constructiveness and insight.
Martha shifted awkwardly, talking to the pair of converse-clad feet that stuck haphazardly out of a gap in the grating. The rest of the Doctor was submerged in wires and parts, and Martha wondered whether all the blood was rushing to his head. Maybe he'd be bright red when he came up. He didn't seem the type, but surely his blood obeyed gravity same as everyone else's.
The Doctor gave an odd shuffly flip, and his head rose into view. His face was its normal colour, much to Martha's disappointment. Maybe his blood really did defy gravity. Wouldn't surprise her, really.
"Depends what you mean by know," he continued, "I know his works off by heart. I know he was born in Stratford on Avon, Warwickshire. I know he fancied the pants off you. But know him know him?" his face took on a contemplative expression as he reached up to tug on his right ear, "D'you, if you asked me what his favourite jam flavour was, I wouldn't have a clue. And how well can you really know someone if you're not clued up on the basics?"
Martha rolled her eyes.
"Not quite what I meant, Doctor, but thanks anyway. See, I was wondering…" her tawny complexion took on a slight reddish glow as she spoke, "If he ever did write me a poem. Y'know, a sonnet. Like he said he would."
The Doctor raised his eyebrows.
"Martha Jones. You're a bright girl. Are you telling me you never read the Dark Lady sonnets?"
"There was more than one?"
The Doctor groaned.
"Honestly. What do they teach you in GCSE English?"
"We did do the sonnets," Martha replied, a little defensively, "\Shall I compare thee to a summer's day', right?"
The Doctor groaned theatrically. Clearly their spell in the world of Elizabethan drama had wreaked havoc on his five humours, because his behaviour had since been more histrionical.
"Sonnet 18. Beautiful, but transparent. Are you telling me you didn't do all the meaty ones about Time and lies and lust and passion and that malarkey?"
Martha shivered slightly at the casual way that 'lust' and 'passion' rolled off of his tongue, as if the Doctor were discussing the weather.
"Nope. And I never paid much attention in English anyway."
The Doctor sighed.
"Typical scientist. No appreciation for the Arts."
Martha opened her mouth to protest, but the Doctor had dug in the breast pocket of his jacket and produced a small, slim volume, which he tossed to her.
"You carry the sonnets around with you?"
"Never know when you might need them," the Doctor replied breezily, returning to his tinkering. Martha shrugged and turned away, wanting to read her love poems in peace, "Number 130. That's the most famous one about the fabled Dark Lady."
"Right." Martha replied distractedly, starting to flick through the small book.
"Oh, and Martha?"
"Try and take it with a pinch of salt."
The Doctor's voice was oddly apologetic. Martha frowned. Why the tone, if Shakespeare's sonnets really were the legendary love poems that her English teacher had never shut up about?
Must be the Doctor being odd. She shook her head, and went off to make a cup of tea to enjoy during her reading.
She returned barely five minutes later, brandishing the volume of poetry, her blood boiling.
"Doctor!" she almost screeched, storming into the console room with a face like thunder. The Doctor was out of the grating like a shot, assuming from her tone that there must be at least three platoons of Cybermen loose in the Wardrobe.
"Have you seen some of the stuff Shakespeare wrote about me?" she half snarled, "Reeks! He said my breath reeks! He's one to talk!"
The Doctor, glad of his impressive knowledge of Shakespeare, swiftly grasped the situation.
"Not what you expected?" he enquired pleasantly, watching in amusement as his companion practically fizzed with rage.
"You could say that!" Martha opened the book so violently that the spine almost split, and the Doctor winced. He liked that copy of the sonnets. Nice and pocket sized, with a lovely furry suede cover. She should learn to be more careful with other people's things. "Listen to this! My mistress's eyes are nothing like the sun…"
"He's got a point," the Doctor replied mildly, leaning against the console with his arms folded, "You're a nice looking girl, Martha Jones, but I can't say you've twin balls of burning hydrogen and helium in your eye sockets. I'd know."
Martha faltered slightly, but sustained her righteous anger.
"And what does he mean 'my mistress'? He should be so lucky!"
"Just means you're the object of his affections," the Doctor intoned loftily, "Meanings of words change, Martha. You've got to keep up with them."
Martha raised her eyebrows, irritated by his patronising tone, and continued, "Coral hath far more red than her lips red."
"Fair enough. It's not like you were wearing lippy," he reminded her, "And you don't seem the type to wear bright red lipstick anyway."
Martha ignored him.
"If snow be white, then why, her breasts are dun. What an old perv!"
"Well spotted," the Doctor replied, raising his eyebrows, "He was a bit of a randy old bloke. Look no farther than Much Ado About Nothing. Did you know 'montanto' means 'upward thrust'?"
Once again, Martha was unnerved by his cheerful detachment, and so continued doggedly, "If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head." Her usually unruly hair was a bit of a sore point with Martha, considering the ridiculous amount of money that she spent on hair serum and straighteners. To have some old poet point it out five hundred years before the invention of ghds really was salt in the wound, "Something about roses in my cheeks… yeah, we get it, I'm ugly, labour the point…"
"That's not what he's saying!" the Doctor insisted loudly, but Martha carried on as if she hadn't heard him, "And in some perfumes there in more delight than in the breath that from my mistress reeks!"
She snapped the book shut and looked at the Doctor with an odd expression of furious triumph, "See? Rude!"
"Have you actually finished the poem?" the Doctor asked patiently, reflecting that humans really were incredibly touchy about personal hygiene. Martha shook her head. "Why bother? He'll just slag me off a bit more."
"Carry on reading it," he insisted, "Old Shakes might just come up trumps."
Martha reopened the book reluctantly and flicked to the right page, continuing where she'd left off, "I love to hear her speak – cheers, Will – yet well I know that music hath a far more pleasing sound. Talk about a back handed compliment."
"Would you rather generic flattery?" the Doctor replied, with genuine interest, "At least it's definitely about you. Couldn't be applied to anyone on the planet, like sonnet 18."
Although his tone betrayed nothing, Martha felt like she was somehow being criticised. Instead of answering, she read the last four lines without comment, "I grant I never saw a goddess go, my mistress when she walks treads on the ground. And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare, as any she belied with false compare."
They were both silent when she finished the poem, with the Doctor grinning at her broadly, obviously hearing something she didn't.
"What does that even mean, 'any she belied with false compare'?"
"It means," the Doctor replied softly, "That he doesn't need a load of fancy imagery to describe his feelings for the Dark Lady, his feelings for you. He loves you for what you are, not what you're supposed to be."
Martha caught her breath, blushing a bit. Put like that it didn't seem so bad.
"But… the 'reeks' bit…"
"I told you, word meanings change," he said impatiently, rolling his eyes, "Just means 'exudes'. Nothing to get your knickers in a twist about."
Martha considered. She read the sonnet again, and decided that maybe it wasn't so bad after all. A bit crass, but she could forgive that.
"Still think I'd rather get the one about the summer's day."
The Doctor gave a little snort.
"Fair enough. We've all got our favourites."
Martha considered this in silence. She felt like she'd failed, somehow, in not liking the sonnet. Perhaps it was one that the Doctor especially liked.
"What's your favourite sonnet?"
The Doctor drew in his breath.
"Hard to say. I've had different favourites at different points in my life. I suppose now…" he sucked on his teeth for a second, considering. "One hundred and nine. Yeah, that's my favourite."
Martha started to flick through the book with the idea of finding it, but the Doctor's hand shot out and almost snatched his sonnets from her grasp.
"Thanks. I'll have that back."
He tucked the little book back into his jacket pocket, and then stood up, his demenour suddenly less contemplative and more jovial.
"Right. Where to, after that impromptu English lesson?"
The Doctor's favourite sonnet:
O! never say that I was false of heart,
Though absence seem'd my flame to qualify,
As easy might I from my self depart
As from my soul which in thy breast doth lie:
That is my home of love: if I have ranged,
Like him that travels, I return again;
Just to the time, not with the time exchanged,
So that myself bring water for my stain.
Never believe though in my nature reigned,
All frailties that besiege all kinds of blood,
That it could so preposterously be stained,
To leave for nothing all thy sum of good;
For nothing this wide universe I call,
Save thou, my rose, in it thou art my all.
There you go! I was just being amused by the idea of Martha being the Dark Lady when this came to me, and I was perusing the sonnets when 109 caught my eye, and it's just the Doctor and Rose down to a t. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed that at least a bit. Do review!