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AN: This is a sequel to my story "Broken Faith", but reading that isn't a prerequisite to understand this one; all you need to know about the events of "Broken Faith" is that it ended with the Doctor and Martha deciding to try for a relationship after the Year That Never Was, with the Doctor remaining on Earth until Martha completes her studies to give them both a chance at some kind of normal life rather than a life consisting of them time-travelling everywhere
Old Faces, New Hopes
"I can't believe you said that!" Martha said, her tone a mixture of annoyance and amusement as she opened the door of her apartment, looking at the Doctor with a teasing glare.
"What?" the Doctor replied, shrugging nonchalantly as he looked at her, his confused expression- particularly in the leather jacket and T-shirt she'd insisted he wear despite his claims that it made him feel like he'd retro-regenerated; his suits were nice but they stuck out on more casual nights- making him look more human than she'd ever seen him. "All I said was that I hadn't had that much fun at a party since a few years back-"
"Two centuries ago?" Martha said, shaking her head as she stepped aside to allow the Doctor into their new flat (Her new one, anyway; the Doctor had apparently bought it a couple of bodies back and never gotten around to putting it up for sale), locking the door before she turned back to him. "You didn't think that might have attracted a little attention?"
"You don't think they believed the explanation?" the Doctor asked, raising an inquiring eyebrow with a teasingly hurt expression on his face.
Martha could only shake her head at his nonchalantly bemused expression; she could never tell if the Doctor was being serious or not in moments like this. Ever since they'd come back to the present after the TARDIS's 'test flight', Martha's medical studies had been going well- aided in no small part by the fact that the Doctor's library had access to several textbooks that she could use when revising, including a few that hadn't even been written yet (Although the Doctor was careful to provide nothing about as-yet-undeveloped cures, of course)-, but finding a long-term, non-alien-based career for the Doctor had been surprisingly difficult, and his occasional weird comments sometimes made things more complicated as people were uncertain whether to take him seriously.
He'd managed to get past the stage where he was making bizarre references to meeting people from history at least twice an hour in public, of course, but finding a job still hadn't been easy. He'd eventually settled into teaching, taking a position as a science teacher in a nearby school; he'd thought about teaching history, but it was a silent agreement on the part of both that anything relating to his time as John Smith should be avoided (He still couldn't believe he'd even thought about asking Joan to come with him; he must have had more of Smith hanging around in his mind back then than he'd realised. Although he'd alerted UNIT to his presence on Earth in case something came up that urgently required his attention, he'd declined the offer of a more permanent post; he was trying to make a normal life for himself, and regular contact with aliens wouldn't help achieve that.
Martha's friends and fellow students had been more than slightly surprised to learn that she was now dating the mysterious 'Mr Smith' when the Doctor had first shown up at Martha's first night out with her old 'study group' since settling back into her old life, but he'd swiftly managed to put them all at ease with his usual friendly manner (Julia had even sent him a flirtatious grin or two, although the Doctor never gave any impression that he'd noticed it); these days he was just accepted as a strange but pleasant addition to their group.
"Well, if they did or didn't, it's not important; the amount some of them were drinking, they probably won't be sure if you were serious about being a medieval enthusiast getting caught in the moment or not tomorrow morning," Martha said, shaking her head slightly as she looked at him. "After all, you had drunk quite a bit, and they don't know about that trick you can do with alcohol…"
"Oh, you mean my ability to metabolise it like other-?" the Doctor began, only to stop himself with a sheepish smile. "Sorry; doing it again."
"Don't worry about it," Martha said, smiling briefly at him; ever since she'd started reading some of the Doctor's books on Gallifreyian physiology in the TARDIS library, she'd asked him to avoid mentioning any specific details about his anatomy until she'd read about them in her own time, but a few casual comments on his part were nothing to be concerned about. "Anyway… was there a reason you dragged me out of that party so quickly when it ended?"
"Oh, just… wanted to give you something in private," the Doctor said, before he reached into his pocket and pulled out a smallish black box, slightly narrower and longer than a traditional DVD box set.
"Uh… what's this?" Martha asked, as she took
"Your birthday present," the Doctor replied with a casual smile.
"What?" Martha said, looking in confusion at the Doctor as she indicated the dark jacket she was now wearing, apparently chosen by the Doctor to make up for the damage her old jacket had sustained during the Year That Never Was (Despite the fact that the jacket had been restored after Time reversed). "But… you already gave me this…"
"Oh, that was just the public present; didn't want your friends thinking I was being cheap," the Doctor said, indicating the box with a casual wave of his hand. "After all, be a bit difficult to explain that this isn't a cheap torch without explaining that I'm an alien…"
For a moment, Martha's confused expression remained as she opened the offered box, only for her eyes to widen in understanding as she took in the sight of its contents.
"Oh my God…" she whispered, as she took the silver-coloured tube-shaped device out of the box, staring at the blue lamp on the other end. "It's… it's…"
"A sonic screwdriver?" the Doctor said, nodding at her with a casual smile. "Bingo; I even included a few medical attachments that mine doesn't have. Of course, I had to sacrifice a couple of the frequency-scanning features, but-"
Further conversation was cut off as Martha pulled his head down towards her to give him a deep kiss, her body- as it always did- privately thrilling at the feel of the Doctor's double heartbeat against her chest, a reminder that this unique, incredible man had chosen to stay with her rather than anyone else…
The sound of what seemed to be a deep bell rapidly ringing prompted the Doctor to pull away from Martha, a shocked expression on his face.
"What?" Martha asked, squashing down the part of herself that immediately wondered what had drawn the Doctor's attention away from her this time; they had passed that stage of their relationship a long time ago. "What's that sound?"
"It's…" the Doctor paused, his expression shifting into a state of confusion as he turned to look at the door to his room, before he hurried towards it, opened the door and practically dived into the TARDIS, the light on top of the Police Box blinking on and off in a manner that Martha recognised from when the ship was about to take off. For a moment she panicked- was the Doctor leaving already?-, but then she calmed herself down with the reminder that the light had been active since before the Doctor entered the ship, and she pushed her fears aside in favour of entering the ship that had been her home for so many months.
"What is it?" Martha repeated, as the Doctor stared intently at something on the TARDIS monitor. "What's wrong?"
"Low-level telepathic distress signal…" the Doctor muttered, looking up at Martha with a slightly stunned expression in his eyes. "Someone I know is in danger."
"What?" Martha said after a moment's silence, realising that he wasn't going to elaborate. "Where's the problem; if someone needs help-"
"It's not that simple…" the Doctor said, his tone slow as he looked at the screen, seemingly trying to figure out something even as he spoke. "This signal's coming through rather faintly- which suggests that the person sending it doesn't entirely know what they're doing, implying that they aren't naturally telepathic-, but it's being transmitted on a mental frequency that…"
"That what?" Martha asked, already wondering where the Doctor was going with this.
"That only Time Lords knew," the Doctor said.
Martha's eyes widened in understanding.
If someone was transmitting a telepathic signal on a frequency only Time Lords could know about, when the Doctor didn't know about their presence already…
The implications of that statement weren't exactly encouraging, really; if someone had somehow discovered a means of transmitting a message to the TARDIS, who knew what else they might have discovered?
"We're checking it out?" she asked.
"Not exactly much alternative, is there?" the Doctor said, as he reached over to activate the TARDIS controls. "Anyway, the sooner we get this out of the way, the sooner we can get back to work; you've still got a couple of months left until your exams, and I'm definitely not ditching my students before I've had the chance to get them through their end-of-year tests…"
Even as Martha nodded in confirmation, the Doctor had already set the TARDIS in motion, the time rotor coming to a halt a few moments later.
"We're there," the Doctor said, briefly glancing at the monitor before he nodded in apparent confirmation, although the grim expression on his face made it clear that he wasn't happy about something. "Nothing immediately dangerous out there; we can go if we want."
As the Doctor and Martha stepped out the TARDIS, Martha was surprised to find herself standing in what looked like an old stone cell, several people around the walls surrounded by elaborate machines, many of them with needles and tubes connected up to their arms, each of them still and silent as they lay there. An armoured creature lay in the centre of the cell, its body clad in an elaborate suit of armour, revealing an only vaguely humanoid face beneath it.
"Oh my God…" Martha said, looking sadly at the bodies around them before she turned to look at the Doctor. "Are… are they…?"
"Dead?" the Doctor finished, looking sadly over at Martha. "They are… probably just a bit before we got here."
As he turned to look at indicating the armoured figure in the middle of the room, "Another round of pointless deaths… caused by yet another pointless action of the Z'nai."
"The who?" Martha asked.
"His race," the Doctor answered, a grim expression of distaste on his face as he glanced at the body. "They were a group of cloned warriors I encountered a few lifetimes back; the Time Lords sent me to stop them after their leader- a bit of a deranged lunatic, really- discovered a primitive time capsule, and my companion Leela and I later had to deal with their leader's attempts to re-establish his empire-"
"You… you lie…" a voice suddenly said weakly from off to the side, prompting the Doctor and Martha to look in the direction of the voice, revealing an old woman slumped to the ground despite the bonds holding her to the wall, her long grey hair hanging over her face as she stared grimly at the two new arrivals. "You… were not there… the Doctor… is dead… he is gone… they are… all gone…"
"What…?" the Doctor said, his eyes wide with confusion as he walked over to the speaker, crouching down in front of the figure, reaching out to take her chin in his hand and raise her head, revealed the weathered, worn face of an old woman with intense blue eyes.
Before Martha could say anything, the Doctor had released the woman's chin and leant backwards in shock, astonishment all over his face as he stared at the prisoner.
"It can't be…" he whispered incredulously, staring at the woman with a level of shock that Martha had only seen on his face when he'd first learned that Professor Yana was a Time Lord. "Leela?"
AN 2: For those who don't know who Leela is, questions about her identity will be answered in the next chapter (For now, if you want to look for further information about her for yourself, all you need to know is that she was a companion of the Fourth Doctor); for those who do know who she is, explanations for her survival- and the 'signal' the Doctor received- will also be provided then