It was well past midnight, and the halls of Torchwood were eerily silent. Gwen and Ianto had gone home for the night, the events of the past few months still weighing heavily on them both. The only one still in the hub was one Captain Jack Harkness. He sat at his desk, staring blankly at the file of one of many possible recruits. Although he knew Owen and Tosh were irreplacable, he still needed to add a few new members to the team. His mind kept going back to one woman in particular, but he had aready asked. And she'd turned him down flat.
With a sigh, he closed the folder before him and added it to the growing 'No' pile, before deciding to call it a night. As he rose from his chair, his mobile rang. He grabbed it, glanced at the call display, and frowned at the number. Why was she calling so late? "Tish?"
"Jack," she sounded relieved. "Sorry to call so late. Did I wake you?
"Not at all. Late night. What's up?" He became concerned when she didn't answer right away. "Tish? Is everything ok?"
"No. Jack-it's Martha."
Martha Jones. His nightengale. His hero. She had walked the earth to save it's people, and gained an eternal place in Jack's heart. To hear that something might be wrong with her... "What's wrong with Martha?"
"I think she's in trouble."
Minor repairs where a common occurance on the TARDIS, but the Doctor always found it hard to make them without the sound of someone else's voice to keep him enertained. It had already taken him way to long to fix this particular problem. He'd vowed, after Donna, not to rush into taking on a new companion, but a Time Lord's existance was a lonely one. He needed a companion.
He wanted Martha.
With a sigh, he changed the setting on his sonic screwdriver, and set about continuing his repairs. The sound of a mobile phone ringing caused him to jump up and bang his head on the console above him. With a muffled curse, he slid out from under the console and reach up to grab the phone.
Without even bothering to look at the call display, he flipped the mobile open, a wide grin on his face. "Dr Martha Jones!!!"
"Sorry, Doc. Wrong companion."
"Jack?" The Doctor frowned. "How did you get this number?"
"Martha gave it to me in case I ever needed to reach you. When are you, Doc?"
"I'm in the vortex at the moment. Why? What's wrong?"
"It's Martha. She needs us."
The Doctor jumped to his feet, stuffed the sonic into his trouser pocket and reached for his jacket. "On my way."
Almost as soon as Jack hung up the phone, the TARDIS made her apperance, blowing the folders on his desk all around his office. Jack barely gave them a second thought as he ran to the TARDIS, just as the Doctor ran out. They both spoke at the same time.
"Jack! What's wrong?"
We've gotta go, Doc!"
Each man stared at the other, before Jack cleared his throat and tried again, "We've got to get to Martha, Doc." He started past him into the TARDIS.
"Wait," the Time Lord called, grabbing his former companion's arm. "What's happening?"
"I'll tell you on the way," Jack promised, moving into the blue box he'd once called home.
The Doctor followed him quickly. As he walked up the ramp to the control console, he cast a glance at Jack, only to find him pacing nervously. "Talk to me, Jack," he ordered, once he'd gotten the TARDIS on her way.
"It's not good, Doc," he sighed, running a hand over his face. "Ok, I got a call from Martha's sister, Tish. She told me that they, her family, haven't heard from Martha in weeks. She's living with some guy, a Tom Milligan."
Why did that name sound so familiar, the Doctor wondered. "Tom Milligan?"
"Yeah. Evidently they're engaged. Anyway, Tish says the last time she spoke to Martha, she noticed some...marks on her arm. She said when she confronted Martha about them, she ran off. No one's heard from her since."
"Does Tish think this Tom is hurting Martha?" How could this be happening? Martha was the strongest person he knew. There was no way she'd let someone hurt her. Not my Martha Jones.
"Yes-yes she does. Tish says Martha's been off for awhile now. Not showing up for family outings. Missing work on quite a few occasions. She even showed up an hour late for her parents' wedding, which she was in. Tish wants us to see what is going on with her. See if we can maybe help, get her out of a bad situation."
The Doctor swallowed, nodding his head. "Of course." Oh, Martha. We're coming.
The TARDIS materialized right outside the address Tish had given Jack. Both Jack and the Doctor hurried out and into the building. Within moments they were outside her door. There was something inside the Time Lord that made him want to break down the door, rush in, and carry his friend away, but he knew that was the wrong way to approach this situation. Taking a deep breath, he forced a smile and raised his hand to knock. When the door opened, he felt the smile slip from his face at Martha's appearance.
Martha Jones had once been filled with goodness and light. So much so that it radiated from her. She glowed from it. What he saw before him was a mere shell of what once was. There were deep bags under her eyes. The smile she offered the two men on her doorstep was forced, almost painfully so. Her shoulders, once straight and proud, were stooped. She stood in the doorway, smiling that pretend smile, just staring at her visitors.
"You gonna let us in, or just stare at us all night?" Jack smiled that charming smile of his.
"What? Oh, of course," Martha nodded and turned away, leaving the door open for them. Jack cast him a glance before following her inside. The Doctor followed, closing the door behind him.
"So," Martha began, seemingly at a loss as to what to say. "Can I get you anything? A cuppa?"
"Nothing for me, thanks," smiled Jack. The Doctor just shook his head, plastering a smile on his face.
"Ok. Er, so, why are you here?"
There was a brief silence, during which the two men looked at each other before staring at her.
"Um, well-" began the Doctor.
"What? We can't come to see our favorite girl?" Jack chuckled.
"Kind of late for a visit, don't you think?"
"Yeah, well," the Doctor began, grinning at her. "You know me."
Martha studied him for a moment, a frown on her face. "Yes, I do," she murmered, before turning away.
"So," Jack began, after a moment. "What's this I hear about you being engaged?"
"How did you-"
"Of course. My sister couldn't hold a secret if her life depended on it."
"Secret? Why keep it a secret, Martha? I thought we were friends."
"We are friends, Jack. I just wanted to tell you in my own way. My own time," the last part she said with a glance at the other occupant of the room.
"So, when'd it happen?" The Doctor queried.
Martha cocked her head, a blank expression on her face. "When did what happen?"
"When did you fall in love?"
"And more importantly," Jack put in, "Why didn't you tell us?"
"I've been with Tom for almost a year now. He asked me to marry him, and I said yes. That's it."
"What about love?" The Doctor asked.
"Love, Martha. Do you love him?"
"I don't see how that's any of your concern, Doctor." Martha replied defensively.
"Well, as Jack said, we're friends, right? I'm just wondering if you love this man you've promised your hand to."
"Is that why you came here, at this hour? To question me about my love life?"
Yes. "No, of course not," Jack answered, shooting a warning glance the Doctor's way. "We came to invite you to take a little trip with us. For old time's sake."
For a moment, Martha's eyes lit up, and she looked like the Martha they both knew and loved. But then she frowned, and as quickly as it had come, it was gone. She wrapped her arms around herself and looked towards the bedroom. "I-I don't think... I mean, Tom wouldn't..."
"Where is the infamous Tom, anyway?" Jack asked casually.
A ghost of a smile crossed Martha's face. "He's in Africa. Rwanda. He does volunteer work there. He's gone most of the time, I really only see him every few weeks. But he loves his work, so..." she shrugged.
"If I had a woman like you waiting at home for me, I wouldn't even leave the bed, let alone the country."
"Jack," Martha shook her head. As she looked at him, her eyes filled with tears, and she turned away quickly.
Shaking her head, Martha turned to the Doctor and smiled slightly, "I do miss you. Both of you. Immensely. But this is my life now. Me and Tom. I can't just run off at the drop of a hat, anymore. I have a responsibility to my fiancee."
"But, we could have you back before you even left," Jack winked.
"No. Thanks for thinking of me, though."
"Aw, c'mon, Martha! Just one-"
"I said no, Doctor. I can't leave Tom."
"Well why not? He doesn't even have to know. We could be gone and back in the blink of an eye."
"I won't lie to him, Doctor! I can't. I-" She broke off, looking down.
"Because you love him?"
Martha studied him for a brief moment before speaking slowly. "Do you remember me mentioning Tom, Doctor? After that year? I told you how he saved me by stepping in front of the Master's sonic. That blast was meant for me, and he took it instead. I owe him my life. And I plan on giving it to him. My life and anything else he might ask for."
"You don't owe anyone anything, Martha. Especially if it hurts you." Jack began cautiously. "You deserve so much more than that."
"He died for me! Don't you get it? He died for me, the very least I can do is live for him."
The Doctor was silent for a moment, gazing deep into her eyes. He nodded slightly before asking, "But, do you love him?"
"Do I-" she stammered. Turning from him, she ran a hand through her hair and took a deep breath. She asked herself this question all the time. Did she truly love Tom Milligan? Somedays she knew the answer. Today... "I..." She turned back to face him. The Doctor. Her friend, and so much more. Martha searched his eyes, hoping to find the answer to their question somewhere in those intense brown orbs. " I want to. I could grow to love him. I could make him happy! He says-he says I feel like home to him. I want to be that for someone. I want someone who looks at me and sees only me, not some ghost of days gone by."
"Martha-" the Doctor began.
"No, Doctor. Just leave it alone! Leave me alone!"
"Do you love him?"
"But do you now?!!!" he practically yelled.
"I will! One day. In my own time. You should understand that. Time. Wibbly wobbly whatever. I will love him, perhaps later than sooner, but it will happen. I don't need your approval, or acceptance, Doctor." She took a deep, shaky breath before continuing, "He loves me, and that's enough."
Jack, who until this point had been standing by, observing the interaction between his two closest friends, exploded across the room, grabbing Martha by the arm and pushing her sleeve up. He would have apologized at her gasp of pain, if not for the angry welts running up her forearm. "How can he love you, Martha?!!!!! How can a man who does this," he waved her own arm in front of her, "possibly love you?"
The Doctor gasped in horror at the burn marks running from her wrist up to her elbow. He had known Martha was being abused, but nothing could have prepared him for that. "Oh god..."
Martha struggled to remove herself from Jack's iron grip. "Let go of me, Jack."
"Not until you explain to me how you think someone who hurts you like this could possibly love you."
"Tom does love me! He would never hurt me!"
"This says otherwise," Jack growled.
"Tom didn't do that," Martha whispered, finally pulling away from his grasp. She took a shaky step back, pulling down her sleeve. "Tom wouldn't hurt me."
Jack watched as she looked at the walls, the floor, anything but them. That's when it hit him. His stomach flip-flopped, and his heart felt as if it was breaking. How could they let this happen. How could he and the Doctor let almost a year go by without even once going to see her. To make sure she was alright. "How long, sweetheart?"
The Doctor looked from Martha to Jack and back again, alarmed as her eyes grew wide and she stumbled back, away from them. "Jack, what-"
"I don't-I... " she trailed off. "Just go. Both of you. Please."
The note of desperation in her voice absolutely terrified the Doctor. He glanced at Jack, hoping to find some kind of answer on the Time Agent's face, but all he saw was deep sadness.
"We came here to help you, Martha. Your family called us. They're worried about you. They thought Tom was somehow hurting you, but he isn't, is he?" Jack coaxed.
"I told you," she began, tears rolling down her cheeks. "Tom would never hurt me."
"Then who did it?" The Doctor asked, awareness beginning to dawn.
There was silence for a long time, during which Martha collapsed onto the sofa, wringing her hands. Jack sat on the coffee table in front of her, trying to catch her gaze, but she was in another place. The Doctor remained where he was, afraid to move, to speak, lest Martha retreat further into herself. Finally she looked up, gaze shifting desperately between the two of them.
"I- I just wanted to be able to feel something again. ANYTHING! I-I don't... I have been walking around in some sort of daze for a year. Two years, in reality. The things I saw... The things I did-that were done to me. I cut it off. All of my feelings, my emotions. So many people died. Whole countries were destroyed, because of me. I thought, if I couldn't feel anything, it wouldn't be so bad. I could keep on, tell my story, and save the rest. And then I met Tom, and he believed in me, like all of them. But he was different, somehow. And then he died, and I felt nothing..." She sat back on the sofa and pulled her knees up to her chest. "Then it all went back. The world went back the way it should have been, and they all forgot. Even my family, after a while. But I couldn't. I couldn't forget what happened. There was no one to tell. No one to understand. So I pushed it all down. Hid behind false smiles, and good cheer. Pretending to feel things; happiness, sadness, anger. Love. But it was all gone. All of them. Every emotion. Every feeling. It all just disappeared, and I was empty."
"Oh, sweetheart," Jack murmered, reaching out to cover her hand with his. Martha flinched away and came to her feet.
"At first, it was just a pinch here, or a pulled hair there. Just something to remind me that I was alive, you know. But even that stopped working after a time. So I turned to...other things." Here she stopped and looked at them quizzically. "The world burned, didn't it? HE burned it all to get at me. The world burned, and so did I. Oh, don't look at me like that!" she snapped. "It was all I could do! It was all I could feel, the hot, searing pain of my flesh burning. And the smell... It was all I lived with for a year. Fire, ash, burning flesh. I just- I- I-"
"Martha," the Doctor whispered. "I want you to come with me."
"Really, Doctor?" she turned to him, finger jabbing in the air between them. "With you? Why? So I can watch you mope over your precious Rose again? So I can become invisible? AGAIN?!! I'd rather be dead," she gasped, hands flying to her mouth. "Oh god. Ohgodohgodohgod! Jack-" her voice was a strangled whisper. "I'm cracking up, aren't I? My mind is finally gone. I'm hurting myself."
Jack rushed to her, gathered her into his arms and stroked her hair tenderly as he murmered to her, "It's ok, sweetheart. It'll be ok. We'll get you help. I'll talk to Tom and we'll-"
"NO!" she pushed him away. "No I don't want Tom to know. He can't know I'm so-so...damaged. He deserves better than that. He thinks I love him. It'll break his heart to learn that I don't. That I can't. It'll kill my parents knowing...this. I can't," she took a deep breath. "I'm fine. I'll be fine. I just need to rest."
She looked up at them, then. Really looked at them. Saw the concern in their eyes. The love. Unconditional, like Tom. Here were the two people in the entire universe that knew what had happened that year. Some of it, at least. She didn't have to carry it alone, anymore. She never really had to at all. All it would have taken was one phone call.
"I'm tired," she whispered. "I am so bloody tired. And I hurt,so much."
"Martha, what do you need?" The Doctor had somehow made his way over to her and taken her face between his hands.
She gazed into his eyes for a long moment, knowing that she wasn't okay. Knowing she wouldn't be for a long, long time. But maybe, just maybe, these two men, who had been her truest friends and allies, could help her find the bits that were lost. Maybe they could help make her whole again. "I need you. Both of you."
"Then, that's what you've got," Jack smoothed her hair, and pressed a kiss to her temple.
"For as long as it takes," The Doctor agreed, pulling them both into a hug. "For as long as you need us."
After making a few calls- including one to a very relieved, very grateful Tish, and one to a quite confused, but understanding (though not really) Tom- Martha left her flat, sandwiched between the Doctor and Jack. As she stepped into the TARDIS, she allowed herself a small smile at the wave of warmth that washed over her.
She would be alright, in time. And, on the TARDIS- with her Time Lord and her Time Agent, what else did she have, if not...time?