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Scenario and Location: Towards the end of their partnership, Martha and the Doctor investigate an alien threat on Earth. While in pursuit, the Doctor and Martha are separated, and when the Doctor is captured his companion is given the chance she has both longed for and dreaded—to know, and perhaps claim, the Doctor's heart. This is, in effect, the catalyst to Martha's departure at the end of Season 3.

Alien Threat: Telepathic creature capable of mesmerizing and manipulating any perceived threats. Not especially dangerous but a mischief-maker capable of causing ample mayhem. Often indulges in experimental research on mesmerism and mind control.

Important Note: To be finished in two parts, unless the events preceding this segment are requested. Let me know if the set up is too confusing and needs explanation.

Disclaimer: I own nothing, per norm. Don't expect anything. R&R!


Part 1

This was not what she had expected. Savage wars, brilliant adventures—these were what enthralled the Doctor's heart. The discovery of far off lands, other worlds, and the constant lure of exploration and danger were what he thrived on. It was almost impossible for Martha to imagine him resisting a taste of the unknown, and yet here was a vision that defied her every preconception, mocking her for her shallow assumptions and lack of insight. It was only a faint image, barely discernable amid the glare of otherworldly attractions surrounding it, but it was still there. She would have given her right arm for a closer look.

Deeper, said the thing beside her, a two fingered paw tightening on her shoulder. Deeper into his heart!

She couldn't resist the mental prompting, the creature almost propelling her forward through sheer force of will. The Doctor gasped beneath her, his entire form rigid on the stainless steel tabletop, but he did not pull away. It was as if he were bound by some impossible magic. Martha could sense his fight to shield himself from her, but she felt it as if from a distance. The further she reached into his mind her curiosity became less and less sated.

The picture was clearer now. She was in a room, its structure modern (as in her particular age) but the content a mix of periods, one moment Victorian and the next eighteenth, seventeenth century, only to have every old world scheme dashed aside with a piece of twenty-third century gadgetry. There was a single large window and a fireplace, and next to the hearth a broad armchair, hefty enough to seat three large adults. It was midday and the sun came streaming through gauzy white curtains, misted slightly by the natural haze of northern weather, and standing by the billowing, thin cotton was the Doctor. In his arms was the unmistakable form of a child.

Martha inhaled sharply. There was no denying what she saw. The infant was the small, weak shape of a days-old human. The Doctor supported "it" carefully, his gaze attentive yet somehow lost in a flood of helpless warmth. His embrace was protective, almost as if he feared the child would be snatched away. Martha could see his lips moving, the motion slight and deliberate with the formation of words she could not hear to a lullaby she did not recognize.

"Doctor—"

The vision shimmered slightly. Martha saw the Doctor turn as a new someone entered the room. His face lit with a joy startling in its intensity.

"Rose!" he cried. "Oh, Rose—!"

"Shh," the woman said, shutting a door Martha hadn't noticed before behind her. "You'll wake Lilly."

"Not this one," said the Doctor, smiling. "She takes after her Mum in that. Well, I think so. Doubt if I sleep quite so heavily. Why, a Scottish band couldn't rouse her! Not that I'd ever want a Scottish band parading through our parlor, but if the case came to be, why, I still say—"

By this time the woman had reached his side. She silenced him with a kiss. Martha owned it was an effective measure, but it went on perhaps longer than was absolutely necessary, for no sooner did they draw back for breath than this insatiable female was plowing in for more, holding the Doctor by the shoulders as if she thought he might possibly pull back (or stumble, a likelier scenario). Martha felt jealousy burn like acid in her stomach. The Doctor had never looked at her as lovingly or showed the least interest in satisfying her desires.

When at last they disengaged—Martha could think of no other fitting term to describe it—they stood for a moment looking at each other. The woman's back was to her, so she couldn't see, but the Doctor's face was flushed and he was breathing heavily.

"We really shouldn't," he said at last. "Not in front of Lilly."

His tone was chiding but light. The woman laughed quietly.

"I always knew you were going to be the real Mum in our relationship," she said. "But you're right and I'm sorry. How you getting on? Been much trouble?"

The couple moved to the window seat. The Doctor rocked the little one quietly in his arms.

"Never any trouble, Rose," he said. "That's Gallifreyan blood, I'll wager. We are excellent children, or would be, given the chance. Other species think we're slightly stunted in development, and I almost believe the Time Lord council thinks so to, reckoning we're only truly aware at age eight. Awareness comes so much earlier than that."

"Why on earth would they think infant Gallifreyans stunted?" asked Rose. Martha was keen on knowing as well. It was so rare that the Doctor spoke of his home planet. "I mean—you're brilliant!"

The Doctor's composed expression relaxed at the teasing compliment. His eyes, however, remained slightly darker than before, his long lashes shading them partway from either woman's view. "We are so quiet when first born," he said. "Amazingly quiet. We watch and listen, but rarely speak. When we do speak it's the usual childish prattle—and then silence. You can imagine our parents' confusion and impatience. It seems so hard for adults to remember their childhood, that awkward stage of learning how to do it all. Well, it takes a bit longer for us—well!—it takes time for everyone. The Gallifreyans lacked patience. Couldn't seem to understand they had all of Time to put us to rights."

Rose's face had changed by degrees. Now it was awash with compassion, and she put her hand to the Doctor's cheek, stroking it gently.

"We'll never do that to our Lilly," she whispered. "I promise. She'll have a long, wonderful childhood."

The Doctor's eyes were brimming. Their natural largeness made it all the more startling when he was deeply moved. He couldn't return Rose's affectionate touch, burdened as he was, but his gaze alone spoke worlds of passion.

"Rose," he said. "I'm so happy."

The woman's face blurred slightly, and Martha blinked. The effect was gone in an instant. Again their lips met, this time in a quiet, careful kiss, as if something were required between them that wasn't ardent blood alone. Martha could see the Doctor trembling with suppressed emotion, the tears spilling helplessly down his face. Rose caressed them from him as swift as they came, murmuring against the occasional breathless sob.

"Don't cry," she said, concernedly, drawing back to look at him. "You alright, love?"

"I—yes, yes—I'm fine," he said. He was distracted from her severe if fond look by the child stirring in his arms. "Oh look, she's awake! It's time to feed her! Rose, thank goodness you're back, just in time—!"

Rose's eyes flew heavenward. "Stop fussing. I remembered too, you know."

The Doctor looked down at the child between them. She yawned, stretching small arms and legs. Enormous brown eyes opened wide to see him, and the child hiccupped lightly, her strange, awkward fingers seeking his face. The Doctor exhaled a shuddering laugh at her drowsy attentions.

"She's got your eyes," said Rose quietly, tracing the tiny, smooth brow with her thumb.

The Doctor smiled. It was a weak smile and slightly wan with the effort of making it, but it was there, and genuine. Martha doubted if she had ever seen anything as beautiful as that tired, sincere, and infinitely contented look.

"Nah," he said, "they're you're eyes. See the shading? All browns and golds, chestnuts and maple syrup—"

"Oh hush," Rose giggled.

"She's got your appetite, too." The Doctor shifted the baby to one arm, the motion infinitely cautious. "I can sense it. She's ravenous!"

"Sounds more like someone else," grumbled the woman.

The Doctor laughed and stood. He touched the infant's nose lightly with one hand, then ran his fingers over its round cheeks.

"Rose," he said. "I never thanked you—"

"And you never will." Rose moved beside him, watching with a touch of awe as he studied their child. "It wasn't just me, you know."

Martha was warmed to see the Doctor color slightly. His gaze was still lowered, riveted as the infant reached for him, its awkward, too-large and too-small fingers curling on one of his own. Something in Martha wrenched in seeing that fresh, new hand gripping him, his single long, slender finger thrice the length of its own.

"All the same," he said, lifting his head. "Thank you, Rose. For this and—for everything."

The woman shook her head, tenderly easing stray hairs from his brow. The effort was futile in light of exceptionally perverse strands but it gave her something to engage in that brought her comfortably close.

"You should thank God," she said. "Not me."

The Doctor's eyes widened, reflecting polished brown caught in a stray, gray streak of light. Martha expected some flippant, quick reply, neither offensive nor wholly tolerant. He had never really commented on religion and she had always assumed he thought nothing of it, rather like herself. The Doctor took Rose's hand in his, holding it close.

"I have," he said. "I still am."

Again the scene shimmered before Martha's eyes. This time, try as she might, she could not clear it. It vanished and again she was lost in a world of spinning planets and memories and dreams the entire pallet of the sky, sobering shadows to sapphire blues. There was no midnight, just as there was no blinding radiance. Those elements were hidden in his most internal spots and somehow he had managed to reject Martha from them. She could no longer sense the creature on her shoulder and without its insistence and help it was impossible for her to go on.

Carefully she withdrew from his mind. She didn't want to hurt him. Nonetheless it was difficult for her to be gentle, being in turmoil herself. Who was this "Rose" and why was his dearest wish to have a family with her? To have a child with her? To spend his days not in high adventure but in the most banal of exploits, rather like the fantasy of every schoolgirl, marrying and raising a family all his own. Where was the brilliance in that, the attraction that should seize the soul of even an alien being? And who was she that the Doctor accepted her as his "companion" when he was obviously spoken for in his mind, belonging to this other person, this Rose.

She pulled away from him, a thrill of shock hitting her as she regained her own consciousness. Her entire skull ached and she raised her hands to her throbbing temples. Tears stung her vision and she shook her head vigorously, trying to clear the pain and focus again on the external world. At last she was able to see again and with lucidity came a rush of guilt. She stood hurriedly, looking around the laboratory for the alien being, but it was gone. Chemical tubes and apparatus were missing, the signs of a hasty getaway.

"There's a mission yet unsolved," she said under her breath. "Doctor, I—"

She glanced down at him and froze.