A/N: I'm sure I wasn't the only person who was completely thrown in The End of Time when it was revealed that Mickey and Martha were married. What happened to Tom? So I started writing this, all the way back in January 2010, and promptly forgot about it. I found it the other day, finished it off whilst I was supposed to be writing an essay, and voilà. Hope you enjoy!
They heard the TARDIS disappear behind them, but they didn't look back. Martha was trying to refuse Jack's latest job offer.
"Look, I can't hang around Cardiff forever, Jack. My whole family's up in London."
"Oh, you Welshphobe," he teased. "Come on, Martha. We still need a medic."
They reached the edge of the park in which the Doctor had dropped them off.
"Not far from mine," Martha noted, ignoring Jack for now. "What are you boys going to do now?"
Jack answered first. "I'm gonna head straight back to Cardiff. Hell of a clean-up job going on, I guess."
In the meantime, Mickey was considering Martha's question slightly more deeply. In this universe, he'd probably been designated missing, presumed dead, which by extension meant he had no money, nowhere to go. His old flat had almost definitely been reclaimed by the council and let out again. It wouldn't be that much of a problem to find somewhere; he had more cash on him than he'd mentioned to either Rose or Jackie earlier, enough for a lengthy stay in a hostel, anyway. He'd hoped this might be the outcome. Still, he was at a bit of a loss.
"No idea," he said. "Better check if I've still got my old bank account, or if they've shut it down by now. And then sort out somewhere to stay. After that… who knows? Aliens to fight in this world too, eh?"
Jack laughed, clapped him on the back. "Come down to Cardiff sometime. Like I said to Martha, we've got jobs going."
"Might take you up on that," he said, smiling. "Once you've finished cleaning up."
"Shirker," accused Jack. He turned to Martha, kissed her hand in a gentlemanly manner. "I'll be seeing you, Doctor Jones."
"Sure," Martha said, not ignorant of the way he'd essentially trapped her into visiting.
Mickey held up his fist for Jack to bump before any more hugging could be initiated, but Jack still winked suggestively.
"See you, Ricky." He strode away purposely; people stared and jumped out of his way.
"Don't you start!" Mickey called after him but there was no response.
Martha watched this exchange with interest. "Didn't realise you knew each other so well."
He shrugged. "We don't, really. I met him once, saving Cardiff from an alien mayor."
"With the Doctor?"
"Yeah. And Rose."
They were standing in the gateway, people flowing round them. There was only the slightest air of relief and lingering fear, which surprised neither former time traveller. They had long since realised how adaptive the human populace at large could be.
Martha pondered Mickey's situation. She knew next to nothing about him, had never heard his name before today. She wondered how much it said about the Doctor that he never shut up about Rose but never once mentioned her boyfriend. All she knew was that he had met Jack, most likely sometime before the latter had joined Torchwood (when Jack had explained his timeline to her, she'd had to take a minute to wrap her head around it. How many times could he be in 1941 and the universe not implode?), and that he was choosing to leave the universe he'd been in for the last… however long. And that was it.
"D'you want to come back to my place?" she offered. "I mean, until you find somewhere to stay. Or get some money. Or whatever."
"You got room?" he asked, with a noticeable gesture towards her left hand, where her engagement ring sparkled in the sunlight.
"Two bedrooms," she said. "Plus, Tom's in Africa at the mo. Oh, God, I should really call him, shouldn't I?"
Mickey laughed. "Yeah, tell him you saved the day."
Martha grinned too. Mickey had the air of having done the same thing, calling home to report that he'd saved the world, and then just carrying on. "I'll call him when we get home," she said aloud. "You coming?"
"Yeah, if you don't mind," he said.
It made sense. He needed friends in this universe, and what better place to start than with someone to whom he didn't need to explain exactly how he'd just appeared out of nowhere? Martha herself was impressive, too. Prepared to blow up the world to save twenty six other planets? Now there was a strong girl. And if she could introduce him to UNIT, or Torchwood, then all the better.
Martha smiled. "Right then. Um, I'm this way," she said vaguely, waving a hand.
Mickey fell easily into step alongside her, and an awkward silence fell. Awkward to Martha at least; Mickey was using the time to scan his immediate environment and reacquaint himself with a London that didn't have zeppelins floating lazily in the sky or evidence of military control in the city. A newsstand loudly proclaimed that scientists were failing to explain the latest planetary crisis—big surprise—but another headline stated that the royal family were all fine and dandy, having escaped into a handy bunker. Royal family, Mickey reminded himself. No presidency. Shame about that; he'd much preferred the other system. Waste of space, the royals. Jackie had missed the gossip on William and Harry, or Charles and Camilla, but he knew Rose hadn't really cared. In fact, she had once mentioned that it was probably better not to have aliens running the place, but she might've been saying that to wind her mother up. He hadn't asked.
"So, tell me about yourself?" Martha inquired suddenly. "What's your story?"
"You want a summary or a novel?" Mickey asked.
She grimaced slightly. Of course it would be a long story. "Well, we'll be there in ten, so I'll go for the novelette," she said.
"Ok," Mickey stalled, arranging his thoughts. "Um, absolutely nothing for the first twenty three years. Well, almost nothing. Used to live with my gran, but she died when I was nineteen. Got my own flat after that on the estate—council flat, you know—and anyway, I ended up going out with Rose."
"You not got any other family?"
He laughed. "I thought you didn't want the full novel. Nah, Mum ended up in Spain, Dad died when I was five. No brothers or sisters. That's about it."
It was a natural reflex for her, to express sympathy at the lack of family, but Mickey shook his head. "Nah, Gran always took care of me. Nothing to be sorry about.
"So, Rose met the Doctor when I was twenty three, she was nineteen, that time the shop dummies came to life, d'you remember?"
Martha smiled. "Couldn't really miss it. I was still at uni, all the students were going mad. I thought it was a hoax."
"Yeah, I got kidnapped and a plastic dummy me went off to interrogate Rose, cos she'd seen the Doctor. He stepped in, they saved the day, she saved his life, and he asked her to go with him. She runs off, fair enough, 'cept he didn't bring her back for a year. It was a mistake, but bloody hell, a year's a long time. Jackie accused me of murdering her, and no one talked to me until one day they just came swanning back in."
"You got accused of murder? God, that must've been a nightmare!" Martha exclaimed. "He is such an idiot."
"Tell me about it," Mickey agreed. "But anyway, then the Slitheen, big great green things, they invaded Downing Street, so he got me to blow it up with him and Rose still inside, and then they go and disappear again. And Rose calls me to Cardiff to get her her passport, Captain Cheese is on board and making eyes, we save the world from another green politician, and off they go and disappear again."
Obviously Martha had done much the same thing to her family, but she couldn't help but hate Rose just a little bit more for that.
"Didn't that annoy you?" she asked.
He read her face unnervingly well, and laughed. "Yeah, 'course it did! But I loved her, so I let her get away with it. And sometimes I thought she understood."
That didn't do anything for Martha's irrational dislike of the girl, but Mickey ploughed on.
"Listen, I knew she wouldn't have been happy with me, stuck on Earth, working in a shop. I could see that. He had a bloody spaceship—couldn't beat that. Back then, though, I thought it was just the spaceship I was competing with." Here, he paused. "He explained regeneration to you?"
"Yeah, said he wasn't about to make that mistake again," Martha recounted wryly. "So you knew him in his ninth body?"
"Uh huh. You know what he looked like?"
"Never seen a picture, but he told me he wore a black leather jacket and spoke with a Northern accent."
"Vain git," Mickey smirked. "First thing everyone else remembers are his huge ears."
Martha's eyes widened and she smirked. "He never said that!"
"Like I said, he's a right peacock this time round. So anyway, next time she came back, this is before he changed, he'd sent her away to save her life. With the TARDIS. Left himself stranded with a load of Daleks."
The abrupt change in mood threw Martha slightly. "What, and she let him?" she asked, disbelievingly.
"God, no!" Mickey said, not as if the idea were ridiculous, but rather as if it were merely impossible. "He tricked her. So she was completely distraught, and Jackie was going on about how he'd done the right thing. Well, that wasn't gonna help. Basically, we tried to break open the TARDIS. First with my car, then with a great big yellow truck Jackie managed to get from somewhere."
"It never worked."
"Did too. Doors slam and the thing disappears, Rose inside. We didn't hear from them for months. Then suddenly, Christmas, and he's got a brand new face."
"What Christmas was this? The hypnotised people and the rocky spaceship, the laser star or the crashing spaceship?" Martha deadpanned.
Mickey looked at her, surprised. "Don't know about those last two, but it was the hypnotised lot. Blood control, apparently. You get it, though, she's trying to deal with a whole new guy, crying in my arms, and then there's an alien invasion. Nightmare Christmas, that one."
"At least no one died," Martha countered. "Year after that, there was this star, made out of spider webs, and shot laser bolts onto the streets of London. Don't know how many casualties. Next year, everyone evacuated the city for Christmas. UNIT relocated to Manchester."
By this time, despite their ambling pace, they had reached Martha's terraced house, and the sight of it, the sight of normality, brought Martha back to Earth with a terrible bang.
"Oh God, I've got to phone work," she realised. "I was in America this morning. It is still the same day, yeah?" As she spoke, she was patting down her pockets until she remembered: "I don't have my keys. This is just getting better and better."
Mickey, ever practical, eyed her sitting room window, before deciding it wasn't the best idea. "Anyone got a spare?" he asked.
"Tom, who's in Africa," she replied, staring at the door as if willing it open. "How much would it cost to get a door replaced?" she wondered out loud.
Mickey turned to her, half surprised that she'd come to pretty much the same conclusion that he had, and half surprised that he was surprised. After all, she worked for UNIT.
"Could probably spare the door," he shrugged. "The lock'd be blasted, but can't do much about that."
She eyed him appraisingly. "It's all yours."
He flashed her a grin before bracing himself and charging right into it. As predicted, the lock gave relatively easily, but an unnoticed pedestrian called out.
"It's alright," Martha shouted back. "It's my house, I promise. I just forgot my key."
"Could do with some psychic paper," Mickey muttered to her and she giggled.
The passerby, a man in his late forties, hurried over, evidently not about to trust someone claiming that they're breaking into their own house. Martha sighed, preparing herself for a confrontation, but then brightened as she recognised the man.
"Mr Wilster! I treated you for a dodgy knee, d'you remember?"
He relaxed. "Oh, Dr Jones, yes. You live here then?"
"I left in a rush in the panic," she lied, easily. "Forgot my key."
"Oh, right," said Mr Wilster. "Yes, I must get home myself. And is this Mr Jones?"
"No! No," Martha said as Mickey coughed loudly. "This is Mickey, he's a friend of mine. No, my fiancé's working in Kenya, in fact. In Eldoret, in the west. I was just going to call him…"
"Of course! I shall let you get on then."
"Thanks. See you soon."
The man trotted on. Mickey snorted. "Why is it no one thinks to mention that we're both dressed like we're in the SAS?"
"We're British," Martha reminded him. "Plus, everyone trusts a doctor. Anyway, come in."
He preceded her into a narrow hallway which was… very ordinary. Couple of paintings on the walls, stairs opposite the front door, sitting room to the left, kitchen straight ahead. But there were no coats hanging on the hooks, and a thin film of dust covered every surface. No one had lived here for a while.
"So whereabouts in the States were you this morning, when all this broke out?" Mickey asked, wandering through into the sitting room.
"New York," she said, kicking her shoes into a cupboard under the stairs. "That's where Project Indigo – the experimental teleport I used – that's where the project was based," she told him as she followed him in. "Can I get you anything? Cup of tea?"
"Yeah, tea'd be great, thanks," he replied.
"'Kay, back in a sec."
Mickey took the opportunity to look round the living room. A few photos here, some he assumed were of her family, some of Martha, some of a guy he guessed was Tom; well, he was white, so he wasn't a close family member. The signs of a young travelling couple were all over this room: a couple of African style paintings, a Chinese-looking vase, a piece of Egyptian art on papyrus. All in all, very homely. It seemed very her, though he couldn't really say for certain, yet.
"Sugar?" Martha called from the kitchen.
"Yeah, two please," he called back.
She emerged carrying two mugs, one of which said 'Trust me – I'm a doctor.' "No milk, I'm afraid," she said, passing the other mug, a stripy blue and brown one, over.
"Not the end of the universe," he grinned.
"Always good," she agreed. "Have a seat."
She took the armchair, so he sat on the sofa and they sipped tea in comfortable silence for a moment.
"So what's your story?" Mickey asked. "How'd'you end up saving the world?"
"Same as Rose, I guess," Martha shrugged. "Happened to be in the middle of an alien crisis, bumped into the Doctor, saved his life, and he decided to offer me a trip. The hospital where I was doing my internship got transported to the moon," she explained. "And then these big police alien rhinos were looking for a non-human criminal, and wouldn't send us back to Earth until they'd found her, and we were running out of air. So of course the Doctor goes and tries to sacrifice his life to make sure they found this criminal – she drank his blood, actually, which was really disgusting – I did CPR on him, and there you go." She gestured helplessly as if to show the inevitability of it all.
Mickey nodded, blasé. "And why d'you leave?"
Martha hesitated, but hadn't Mickey already confessed to being a third wheel when it came to the Doctor and Rose? If she could admit this to anyone, she could admit it to him.
"Well, two reasons, really," she said. "The first was that my family got dragged in. They spent a whole year as slaves – um, the Prime Minister turned out to be a Time Lord, but an evil one," she elaborated.
"I thought himself was the only one?"
"So did he," Martha said wryly. "He is now, the Master – that's the other one – he died. Shot by his wife, actually. But anyway, I couldn't leave my family after that. And then the other reason… Well, I sort of had a crush on him," she said, looking down at her tea. "And he was just so in love with Rose."
She wasn't sure how she expected Mickey to respond to that. As it turned out, he merely shrugged a shoulder and said, "Yeah."
Martha wished she had his composure.
"Anyway, listen, I was thinking about what you're going to do," she said, gladly moving on from her confession. "I can pull some strings with UNIT; they tend to sort of hero-worship people who know the Doctor. And there's always Torchwood."
"Taking orders from Captain Flash?" He grimaced faux-seriously. "Not sure I could take it."
"What did you do before all this?" Martha asked, curiously.
Mickey half-smiled. "I worked in a garage on the estate. I thought about going back to that when I was in the parallel world, but I couldn't really face it, going back to that while everyone else was off saving the world."
"It's like real life after a dream, isn't it?" she said. "Dealing with colds and dodgy knees after saving whole civilisations… That's why I joined UNIT. The medical stuff's the same, really, just patching people up, but I'm patching up people who're being injured protecting Earth. And then there's the odd bit of alien anatomy, and it's just so fascinating, like I used to think the human cardiovascular system was fascinating."
"Yeah," he agreed. "Fixing up spaceships and teleports versus fixing up dodgy old bangers. Not much of a choice."
"No," she mused. "There's not really a choice anymore."
Suddenly, the phone rang, breaking the moment.
"You should get that," Mickey said. "Could be your Tom."
She shook her head. "He thinks I'm in New York; he'd try my mobile first. No, it'll probably be my mum, or my sister, checking I'm still alive. And I've got enough to do once I've had my tea, and maybe something to eat. My family can wait."
He raised an eyebrow.
"Oh, alright, I'll get it," she sighed, pushing herself up out of the chair. "You can entertain yourself for hours on end while they talk at me."
"I'll make myself at home," he teased.
Martha set down her tea and trudged out of the room just as the answerphone kicked in. "Hi, we're out, leave a message and a number and we'll get back to you."
And before she could pick up the hallway phone, an unfamiliar voice started speaking. "Uh, hello, Dr. Jones. Uh, I hope you get this message, you need to call the Eldoret MSF Office. Your fiancé has, er…"
She snatched up the phone. "Hello, sorry, I was upstairs. What were you saying about Tom? About Dr. Milligan?"
In the sitting room, Mickey shifted uncomfortably, feeling like he was eavesdropping.
Her voice was faint.
"Yeah, I've got someone here. Just tell me."
"Oh, the idiot."
"Of course. Of course he was. Saving people. He does that."
A choked sob. Abruptly, Mickey stood up and made his way out to the hallway. Martha was standing with her face to the wall, staring blankly at a patch of wallpaper with one hand pressed to her mouth and the first tears beginning to well up in the crevice between her fingers and her cheeks. Gently, not sure if he'd be welcomed, he put an arm around her shoulders; she leaned back into him, as if it was an effort to stay standing.
"Thank you. I'll call again tomorrow."
The phone clicked onto the stand and beeped chirpily as it began recharging. It seemed almost obscene.
"He's dead," she said, but it was almost like a question. "I never thought he would—"
He wrapped her in a hug, but said nothing.
"He was defending the door of paediatrics," she whispered.
"Brave man," he murmured.
"Yeah," she breathed. "He died for me, once. Different timeline. Saved me."
"I hear he does that," Mickey said. "Saves people."
"Yeah. He does."
And there they stood. Martha's tears trickled gently into Mickey's chest, and at some point it struck them both that they barely knew each other, that Mickey had never seen Tom, let alone known him, that crying into another man's embrace about the death of a fiancé was hardly normal behaviour. But somehow, they didn't move. And somehow, Martha's tears began to slow, and to stop.
And somehow, a new life began.
A/N: MSF stands for Médecins Sans Frontières, or Doctors Without Borders. It's a marvellous organisation that sends medical personnel where they're most needed. In 2008, when Journey's End took place, there had been some post-election violence in Eldoret, which is about 250 miles north west of Nairobi, Kenya.