Because

Characters/Pairings: Martha, Ten/Rose, TenII

a/n: Interlude during Journey's End, just after they fly the earth home. Martha Jones, meet Rose Tyler. Angst, etc. The Clone, Jack, and Donna lightly featured. Review and I will love you forever.


In the chaos aboard the TARDIS, Martha saw (of course she saw) that one lone figure leaning with a certain aching familiarity against a column of coral, her eyes soft and hard all at once as they followed the Doctor's every move from across the console room. He never acknowledged her casual, level stare, not once, but that didn't mean that nothing passed between them as he quietly pressed Sarah Jane's elbow in passing, or balked at some comment from Jack. As always, this Doctor breathed each breath for Rose. Even if he wouldn't say it. Or look at her.

Martha sighed. And ever the healer, she went to her, because someone had to, for Christ's sake.

Rose let one blue-leather clad arm fall and absently stroke the pitted coral support as Martha crossed to her. She only dragged her gaze away from the Doctor at the last moment, levering herself upright and turning with that disarming smile to greet Martha.

It was undeniable, the whisper of gold about her.

"Martha Jones," Rose said, and that grin was in her voice. She spoke the words, and it sounded like a blessing.

Martha smiled. "Rose Tyler. Famous, you are."

"Yeah?" Rose said, and her eyes were back on him as he fiddled with some lever, talking a million miles an hour to Jackie, who rolled her eyes behind his back.

"Yes," Martha said, letting the word hang between them, and Rose frowned, just a bit.

"You were with him, just after me," Rose said eventually, her palm still pressed against the TARDIS. Martha wondered if she missed the hum. If she had trouble sleeping sometimes, even now. "Donna said," Rose added, by way of explanation.

"Yeah, for a while. After Donna blew him off," Martha added with a sort of disbelieving chuckle. They both turned at that, and automatically sought Donna out. She was there, just next to the one in blue, who was currently rearranging a mess of wires hanging out of an open panel. His face was lit up with a grin, and at something he said, Donna dissolved in a fit of laughter. Martha lightly touched Rose's shoulder. "But it wasn't...we were never..."

"Neither were we," Rose said.

Martha raised her eyebrows, but before she could say anything they were distracted by identical raised voices across the way. The Doctor was hollering at his duplicate as he shoved the tangled knot of wiring back into the wall and slammed the panel shut. The one in blue was working (not very hard) to keep a smirk off his face, utterly unrepentant. At his low, cheeky response, the Doctor threw up his hands in exasperation and yelled, "You insufferable..." before looking round quickly and lowering his voice, presumably to go on berating the identical man in a more restrained tone.

"God, he must be loving this," Martha said, watching the two Doctors wind each other up.

"Mmm?"

Martha expelled a long, slow breath. She thought about her Doctor—reckless, unraveling, always a little bit disappointed when he woke and found that he'd been dragged back to life again by his frantic companion. "Having himself here to abuse."

"Martha-" Rose folded in on herself uncomfortably.

Martha waved it all away, apologetic. Switched gears. "I just mean to say...it nearly killed him. Losing you. I think it would have, but he's too important, and he knows it."

Rose's eyes were suspiciously bright, and Martha found that she wanted to reach out to her, but she didn't. This isn't how she thought it would go, if she ever met Rose Tyler. But then, she never expected that she would. Rose coming back...he said it was impossible.

He said that about a lot of things.

Across the room, the new Doctor roughly nudged the one in brown with a sharp elbow, cutting him off mid-rant and getting a highly affronted glare for his trouble. Unphased, the one in blue jerked his chin toward Rose and Martha, and his Time Lord counterpart looked before he remembered that he was pointedly not looking over ather.

"You love him," Rose was saying, and Martha smiled that old, sad smile.

"He loves you," Martha said, and she didn't envy Rose. Not now.

A long silence spun out between them, and Martha began to wonder if she should quietly excuse herself, but-

"You said..." Rose laughed bitterly, went on. "You said...he found you. Martha...was he looking?"

And Martha just stared at her, wishing she could say yes so bad it ached, because he hadn't been, had he? He found her in silence, and pain, and remorse, but he never went looking, and maybe that's all he wanted. The memory of Rose-beautiful, laughing, alive...

But the reality of her just beyond this universe.

Rose didn't need the answer. Deliberately she looked at the Doctor, who couldn't turn away now he'd let himself slip, and in the noise and the celebration, Martha thought they were saying goodbye. But then the moment had passed, and Rose was breezing past her, cozying up next to Jack, who was all too happy to throw an arm over her shoulders; whisper something that made her blush.

Martha looked at the Doctor, whose counterpart watched him with a soft, solemn wonder, but he was away and laughing again, straightening his tie, dancing round the console. He was always this, and he was wonderful, but it seemed such a shame to let a love like that die, because you're scared, or not ready...

Or just because you can.