Chapter 12: Epilogue
They were sitting in the kitchen of the TARDIS. The Doctor had made up some tea. He hesitated after setting down the cups on the table.
"Why did you come back?"
She looked up, wondering if the question was a joke, if he really didn't know, didn't see. But his face was tight with anxiety, watching her, and she realized what she had to do.
"Do you know what I told them? What I told all those people?" Without waiting for an answer, Martha went on, her voice taking on the quality of telling a story. "My name isn't important. There's someone else. The man who sent me out there. The man who told me to walk the Earth. His name is the Doctor."
The Doctor looked stricken. "Martha…"
She didn't stop, continuing the familiar pattern of words. "He has saved your lives so many times, and you never even knew he was there. He never stops. He never stays. He never asks to be thanked." She held his eyes, wouldn't let him look away. "But I've seen him. I know him. I lo—." She flushed, and finished. "I know what he can do."
"I couldn't save you," he said, sitting down across from her. He said it matter of factly, but the eyes that were locked on hers couldn't quite hide the pain those words caused him.
And wasn't that the rub. But all of a sudden Martha saw differently. "No," she said, meeting his gaze. "You did."
… In a thousand different ways on a thousand different days…
"Memories," she said quietly. "It's all about memories."
The words seemed to strike a chord. The Doctor looked down then and seemed to be gathering himself. When he spoke, his words were unusually tentative. "I have all these memories," he said, "900 years worth. But sometimes all I can remember is—"
"All the faces," Martha said. She ignored the Doctor's quick look. "All the faces of all the people who…who died because of you."
The Doctor drew in a breath. "How—?" he started, before stopping.
She looked at him, then. "Because that's all I can remember, too."
"Ah." was all he said.
And she had a sudden need to get this out, to tell it to the one person who could possibly understand.
"How do you do it? How can you go on every day, bearing all that?" She was crying now, and furiously swiped at the betraying tears.
"Martha." She refused to look at him. "Martha, look at me." Unwillingly her head came to face him. There was concern in his eyes, but also…guilt?
"How do I go on? For a long time, after…after Gallifrey, I didn't." She was surprised how willingly he spoke that name. "But then…I found someone. Someone who…made me better."
Rose. But she found that this mention of her predecessor brought no pangs of jealousy, of anger. She thought he was done, but he wasn't. She could see him measuring the words. "I needed someone."
The words were simple, quiet, but she sensed how much they cost him. His next words flattened her. "I need you."
She stole a quick glance, trying to make out what he was saying.
"Because, thing is, you move on," he said. "But …" he looked at her, "it helps to have someone to share the memories with."
And then his eyes were dancing and his arms were around in a big, sweeping hug.
"My Martha Jones," he said.
This is the moment the next one begins.
And now, as this is the end, I would like to thank you faithful readers who have made it to the end with me. Hit that big green button (the Doctor would be proud) as a favor to me. Favorite chapter, favorite line, favorite flavor of toothpaste. It lets me know you care.