Title: Shadows of a Different Now

Author: Aeshna

Spoilers: DW3.12 The Sound of Drums, DW3.13 The Last of the Time Lords

Disclaimer: Not mine, no matter how many DVDs and toys I buy! Everything here belongs to RTD and to Auntie Beeb, who already has my licence fee.

Notes: Thanks as always to Mimarie for looking this over for me any remaining weirdnesses are all mine. Feedback of any variety is much appreciated but not compulsory I'll post anyway! I've suffered for my art, now it's your turn....

"Canada. I'm in Canada."

She's sitting at the kitchen table, the rain of a typical British summer clattering against the windowpanes. It's three in the morning and Tom is sprawled across their bed upstairs, sleeping the sleep of the innocent, but she

She hasn't been innocent for a while.

"Martha? You okay?"

She smiles, a bare twitch of lips, at the voice on the other end of the phone one of the very few she can talk to about this, the very few who can possibly understand... and the only one of that number certain to be awake at this hour. The calendar pinned to the wall by the sink is mocking her, the dates and the cheerfully scrawled notes dentist appt; Leo's b'day; pick up dry-cleaning overlaid with a list of names and places that only she can see, with the memories of moving onward, always moving, never resting as she spread her tale and tried to stay alive, even as others laid down their own lives for hers....

She chokes back a sob and grips her mobile a little more tightly. "I'm fine, I'm fine. I just "

"Just needed to talk." She can hear the reassuring smile in his voice, can picture it in her mind. "I know, sweetheart. I'm here. Take your time."

This isn't the first time she's done this. She doubts it will be the last. She wonders what will happen when time catches up with itself, gives her new days to live through rather than slowly retreading a year that never should have been, that never really was. She sniffles, clears her throat. "Canada," she says again. "I watched the dawn break over Lake Superior, just north of Thunder Bay. It was... it was beautiful. Amazing. The colours over the water and the headlands were just... just perfect. And then I turned around and went into the camps and there was this, this woman, she... they...."

She can't continue, the memory too raw, too painful; the tears flowing too freely. "Oh, god, I'm sorry, I'm sorry...."

"Martha, sweetheart, you have nothing to be sorry for." He sounds so fierce, so protective, and she wishes he was here with her if only for the hug... although explaining Captain Jack Harkness to Tom might be just as much of a challenge as telling him about her nightmares or why she wants to cry every time they pass a Japanese restaurant. "You're the one who gave us all the second chance. You're the reason why all those people are alive today, why they don't have to remember. You saved the world, Martha Jones. Never forget that."

"I know," she says, but she's shaking her head as she says it. There are times when it's as if nothing ever happened... but then there are times when she remembers Tom lying dead in the road, remembers the slave camps, the mass graves, the stench of death in the air. Remembers the man on the other end of the phone pressing his one hope of escape into her trembling hands when he would have made so much better a hero than she....

But he had believed in her, just as the Doctor had. And without him there to act as an unkillable distraction to that psychopath, her family might not have


"I'm here, Jack." She reaches for a tissue, blows her nose. "It's just that sometimes things catch me and it's like I'm there...."

A soft sigh in her ear and she can imagine that hug again. "Martha... you're not. You're here, here and now, and they'll never know what you did for them. But I do."

And she can hear it in his voice that same faith, that belief that she knows will always be there for her, will be there long after she has gone to dust and the rest of the world has forgotten her name. "Thank you," she whispers, blinking against fresh tears. "God, Jack, without you "

"Life would be a lot more boring!" At her chuckle, his voice softens. "You okay now?"

"Yeah," she says, and means it.

"Good." There's a pause and she can almost hear his smile spreading. "So... Martha Jones, it's three in the morning gonna tell me what you're wearing?"

"Jack!" She doesn't know if she should be scandalised or flattered or what, but it's as if a great weight has suddenly lifted and it feels wonderful. "I'm not "

"Not what?" he interrupts gleefully. "Not wearing anything? You got a camera on that phone? C'mon, Martha, share...."

She laughs so hard that she wakes Tom and then can't tell him why.

~ fin ~