"So tell me, Doctor - how exactly is this not trespassing?" Martha hissed as she clung to the black iron bars of Wester Drumlins house where they had landed just a few weeks ago.
"Well technically, trespassing consists of entering a presently owned property with intent to commit a misdemeanor. This place is in between owners, so I believe we are completely at liberty to do what we want. So long as we don't get caught, that is," the Doctor replied calmly on the other side of the gates ready to catch his very displeased Companion if ever she lost her footing.
Even 38 years before their fated landing at the grounds, the mansion already had a very ominous feeling to the area. Though the gardens were beautifully manicured and the path that lead to the house is well maintained, the two time travelers couldn't help being wary of the surroundings. After several weeks of close surveillance and numerous inquiries at the local estate agent's office where the property was registered for sale, the two stranded occupants of the TARDIS finally got their chance to leave their cryptic message for Sally Sparrow to receive in the future.
Equipped with a can of black paint and a paintbrush, the Doctor had informed Martha of his plan to visit (trespass, she insisted; he ignored her) the mansion before the next interested buyer could acquire the property. She had agreed to come, but now that she was clinging precariously to the steel grills in the dark, her opinion of the Doctor's plan had considerably lowered. As Martha made her way down to where the Doctor stood waiting, her grip on the slippery bars faltered and gravity pulled her downwards, her throat too dry to elicit a shriek. The Doctor caught her deftly in his arms, one hand on either side of her waist before fully embracing Martha who gasped for air in relief.
"Everything alright?" he leaned in and whispered in her right ear. Unable to speak, Martha closed her eyes and nodded, leaning into his chest briefly before turning around to face the grinning Doctor.
"Yes, thanks," Martha finally answered.
The Doctor reluctantly took his hands away and smiled warmly at her. "Good. Off we go then, mind the tree roots," the Doctor replied, picking up the can of paint as he offered his other hand for Martha to hold.
"This is mad. Of all places to leave a message we had to pick this one. It's a bit melodramatic don't you think?" Martha asked as she stepped carefully forwards through the darkness.
"You have to admit it adds an air of mystery to everything. Very Agatha Christie. I've always wanted to meet Agatha Christie, I bet she's brilliant. I'll take you to meet her when we get the TARDIS back."
"I'll let you take me anywhere when we get her back," Martha sighed. The Doctor didn't reply, but he was pleased that Martha had referred to the TARDIS as such. They then fell into a companionable silence while they made their way towards the front of the house, the half-light of the moon their only guide. They neared the off-white doors and the Doctor released Martha's hand to reach inside his coat pocket for his sonic screwdriver. A soft whirring sound filled the air and in seconds the lock clicked. The Doctor pushed the door open, creaking loudly as it gave way to his hand. Martha kept quiet during the entire operation, waiting patiently as the Doctor took out a large torch from another one of his deep pockets and flicked it on, showering the empty hallway with a yellow light. Martha stepped in after him and squinted her eyes to see beyond the torch's limited glow.
"Sally said the room's located at the back of the house, facing the back garden," Martha said. The Doctor nodded as he walked past the banister and entered another deserted hallway. Now that they'd entered the house Martha was more at ease - she was thankful that they were in a time before sophisticated alarm systems; otherwise they'd have been caught already. She knew it was silly to feel so afraid when the Doctor was right beside her humming tunelessly as they searched for the room. Knowing that he was only an arm's length away comforted her, she was certain that he wouldn't let anything happen to either of them, especially her.
Martha couldn't help but marvel at how much the Doctor's demeanor has changed in such a short span of time. For several days after their 3-month stay in 1913 Farringham, the Doctor had remained distant towards her, speaking only when spoken to and spending hours wandering the endless corridors of the TARDIS, avoiding any prolonged interaction with her. Martha supposed that his self-imposed exile was due to the events after he dealt with the Family, when he had spoken to Joan Redfern and asked her to travel with him. Nurse Joan had refused to come along, and although Martha had offered to talk to her on the Doctor's behalf he had told her that they should go. Even now Martha can't help but feel a flicker of jealousy at the thought that despite being human, the Doctor (John Smith, she corrected herself fiercely) fell in love with the nurse and not with her. Still, what's done is done and the Doctor gradually returned to normal, though from time to time when she caught him unawares Martha would see him staring at her with a pained look on his face. Was it guilt or regret? Martha never asked, afraid of what he would say.
Now that they were stuck in 1969, he had been more thoughtful and considerate of her needs, though they had their fair share of bad days. More often than not Martha would come home from work to see him setting the table for their dinner of beans on toast or, after her monthly paycheck, a plate of spaghetti and a glass of red wine. They fell into a comfortable routine of her washing their dinner plates and him resuming his work on the machine she had inadvertently dubbed the timey-wimey detector. A part of her (a small part, but a part nonetheless) hoped that he'd take his time on getting the machine to work.
"Here we are," the Doctor exclaimed, shaking Martha out of her reverie. She followed quickly after him and looked around, her eyes settling on the wallpapered surface.
"But the wall's covered! How can we possibly write on it without ruining the wallpaper?"
"Oh that's nothing, Martha. My sonic has got a steaming function - we'll simply peel it off and stick it back on once we're done," the Doctor replied. She shrugged, "It's your boogie." The Doctor cocked his eyebrow at her response, amused at how easily Martha had taken up the colloquialism of the period. Must be from all that time surrounded by hippies, he concluded. The Doctor placed the torch in Martha's hand and busied himself with the task of steaming the wallpaper off the cold surface. The wind whistled softly through the open windows as they worked in silence.
At this time of night the two of them would be burrowed snugly in their flat's small bed, Martha drifting off to sleep while the Doctor observed her features relax as she settled into her dreams. On their first night in 1969 he had volunteered to sleep on their dingy couch in their equally dingy living room but Martha had refused, saying that she won't be treated like a princess when they could both fit in the twin bed. He half-heartedly declined but she insisted that if their time stranded together would be indefinite, they might as well sleep soundly while they waited. The Doctor could hardly refuse her anything, not after Farringham, so he eventually assented, ignoring the curious somersaults his stomach performed when he said yes.
Martha had suffered so much on his behalf - because of the list of orders he had given her before he transformed into John Smith, she spent three months scrubbing floors and enduring prejudiced taunts. She never mentioned the hardship she had gone through during those months looking after him, but he knew how much it had affected her. There were many nights that the TARDIS would allow him to listen as she wept quietly in her room. Hearing her restrained sobs broke his hearts and almost caused him to gather the Family and punish them even more severely, but he knew that doing that wouldn't erase her memories of 1913. The Doctor took it as a blessing in disguise that they had found themselves stuck again: this was his chance to rectify his mistakes and make up for all the things that Martha had experienced in Farringham. If he couldn't erase her memories of the past, he would try his hardest to give her better memories to look back to in the future.
"Voila," the Doctor exclaimed as he bounced back on the balls of his feet and pocketed his sonic screwdriver, pleased with his work. Martha carefully placed the remaining piece of wallpaper flat on the floor and away from the paint before she replied, "Alright. You'll have to write 'coz I won't be able to reach that high up on the wall."
"Right-o Miss Jones." He took out his black-rimmed glasses and placed them quickly on his face before beginning.
"Sally Sparrow -" he bit the tip of his tongue in concentration as he continued, "Beware the weeping angel. Duck! Pretty chilling eh, the way we tell her to duck." Martha rolled her eyes.
"You and your flair for melodrama. Go on then, mister, finish the message." Martha recited from the paper Sally had provided and watched the Doctor dip the paintbrush into the can at intervals while he worked. With a last swirl of the brush the Doctor finished off the message and looked to where Martha stood, her arms crossed and a sarcastic smirk on her face.
"Love, from the Doctor. Really now, was that absolutely necessary?"
"What's wrong with that? It sounds better than Sincerely, the Doctor-whom-you-have-yet-to-meet-but-you-should-totally-trust-anyway or Regards to you and yours, from the year of our Lord 1969... No really, 1969. ," the Doctor answered.
Martha shook her head in resignation, "Sure, whatever. Let's put the wallpaper back up so we can go home, I'm starved." The Doctor shrugged and begun to help Martha with the last stage of their task, careful to put everything back into its original state.
It was past midnight when they finished gluing back the wallpaper with the help of the Doctor's sonic screwdriver. Martha shivered as the wind picked up and the temperature decreased. Noticing his Companion trembling from the cold, the Doctor rushed to finish what he was doing and walked over to Martha. He opened his coat and wrapped it around Martha's hunched shoulders, enclosing her in his relatively warm embrace. She looked up gratefully and spoke.
"Thanks. So we're done - what do we do now?"
The Doctor gazed into her eyes and replied, "Now we wait."
She looked down and stared at their shoes as she whispered hesitantly, "It's not so bad for you, is it, waiting?"
The Doctor remained quiet. He placed his chin gently on the top of her head and stared out into the darkness, deep in thought. Finally he replied softly, a smile beginning to form on his lips.
"No, it's not bad. Not bad at all."