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1. Boxed

Prompt: The stuff of legends is nothing but the fodder for nightmares and horror stories.

Special Requests: From Martha's POV, either 9/Rose or 10/Rose. BAMF!Doctor and lots of angst.

Prompter: Darling Anna!

0755hrs, Day One

Martha Jones has always known what she wanted, and has systematically and determinedly worked her way towards achieving it. She has always wanted the best, to be the best, and today, she has all of those things. She has just been assigned to the same team as the lauded and famous Agent Smith, who is known for only taking the best. She tries not to fidget as she waits in the conference room for the others. She is good at what she does. She is professional. She is cool. She is calm.

She is new to the team, and the most inexperienced of the three-man cell, but she promises herself that she will not let them down. She will not let herself down. She has fought too hard, worked too many late nights to get this opportunity. At five minutes to oh-eight-hundred, the chrome door of the conference room swings open, and she finds herself confronted with Agent Harkness, one of the most celebrated hand-to-hand combat fighters and agents the MI6 has ever had. The Man Who Can't Be Killed, his enemies call him. He sends her a friendly smile, and extends a welcoming hand.

"You must be Agent Jones," he says in way of greeting. She nods, and prays her palm isn't as sweaty as she thinks it is when she grasps his hand in a firm handshake.

"Agent Harkness, it's such an honour to meet you." He waves a dismissive hand, a distinct psshawing motion.

"Don't stand with the formalities. We're a team now. Call me Jack." She smiles tentatively at him, not quite sure how to respond. A living legend is before her, and has just instructed her to call him by his first name. She has studied and read and heard of his death-defying missions and exploits with Agent Smith's team – saving the world from North Korean nuclear bombs, preventing bloodbaths and further dissention in Africa, taking out Mafia kingpins and the biggest drug dealers. Everyone knows what they have done, for Queen and for country.

Jack glances to the clock that hangs above the pantry to the far left of the room, and sighs when he notes that it is five minutes past eight. "I'm sorry about the Doctor – I assure you he isn't usually late. He's just…" He trails off, eyes distant. He has flipped open the mission file on the table before him, but she is sure that it is not the assignment that he sees. "He's just occupied now."

There is a lingering sadness, a tinge of grief that hangs like a thread in the room. She wants so badly to reach out and grasp it, but it is not for her to know, and she is sure that it will fray beneath her fingers. She is saved from having to formulate a response when the door opens.

Agent Smith enters the room, and for lack of a better word, she thinks he looks like hell. The handsomeness that the face hints at is hidden beneath the hollows in his cheeks, the tiredness on his face. He is lean and wiry and commanding and strong, but he carries the weight of the world on his shoulders, and it is slowly killing him. He sends her a tiny not-smile. It is a curve of the lips, a textbook smile that looks and acts like one, but it does not reach his eyes, and leaves his expression haunted.

She smiles back.

"Hey, mate," Jack greets, and reaching out to grasp the Doctor's hand in a gesture that speaks of years of friendship and familiarity. She does not comment at the way the action seems too much like drowning men reaching for life buoys, or lost souls grasping for direction.

"Right," the Doctor says. "Let's get on with this mission."


0341hrs, Day Nine

Agent Smith is one of the world's best sharpshooters, capable of taking out targets at eight hundred yards with strong winds. The Doctor, they call him, for his surgical precision and methodical kills. He is the best in the MI6, and because he is the best, they cannot afford to lose him. He is the only double-zero agent to be assigned a three-man cell, consisting of a medic and a melee expert.

She knows that he is not ungrateful for it, and is not ungrateful for them, but she sometimes cannot help but feel that he wants to die. She has never met a person with so little regard for his own welfare, safety or wellbeing, and his reckless stunts place him a hair's breadth away from death time and time again. She wonders what made him that way, what drives him to play the most dangerous game of all.

She wonders why Jack lets him.

She hears them, occasionally. They talk in the dead of the night, when the shadows run deep and they believe that she sleeps on. Their voices carry in the spartan safehouse they are currently staked out in, drifting-hanging in the stale air.

"I'm sorry," she hears one night. Jack's voice is laden with grief and pain, a mere whisper that echoes in the room. "I heard about it from Ianto, and I saw the dossier. I'm so, so sorry. I just –"

"Thank you," the Doctor's voice cuts in, abrupt and curt. Whatever this is, she knows that he does not want to talk about it. "But it's over now. Let's drop it."

They do, for a while. Long moments pass, like centuries in a second.

"It was my fault, you know." Jack's statement is sudden, almost a rushed confession. "I shouldn't have told you to take that assignment."

There is a long, long sigh, followed by a rustle as the Doctor stands and walks over to the tiny window. "No," he replies, voice heavy. "No. The fault is mine. I brought her with me, and I told her to stay in the room. I killed her, Jack."

Her heartbeat is loud in her ears.

"I killed her, and I don't know how I'm going to be able to live knowing that."


1428hrs, Day Twenty-two

Martha Jones learns quickly, and she does not forget things she learns easily. She knows that the Doctor will not speak of the past, that Jack will not tolerate questions about his personal life, that the Doctor will not talk about the-girl-she-replaces.

But they are on the edge of everything they have ever known, on the precipice of utter chaos and destruction and mayhem. They have no way out. The room that they have barricaded themselves in is sealed tight, with concrete walls three feet thick. The door is airtight, and there is no ventilation. This is the end, a sad finale for the team that should have done it all. She can almost hear the funeral dirges playing.

They sit in a row, backs against the wall facing the door, with no ammo and a diminishing supply of air. The sounds of machine-gun fire and rapid battering on the metal door are like the starting notes in their Auld Lang Synes, the first letters of their epitaphs.

There are a lot of things Martha Jones knows, but this is the end, so she will kiss goodbye to tact and caution and not-knowing.

"Who is she?" She asks the Doctor, because she resents this girl whose shoes she can never fill, detests her for being the reason she is found wanting in the eyes of the two men she wants validation from. He stiffens beside her, and his breath hitches. Jack watches their interaction with hooded eyes, piercing and searching.

She almost thinks he will not answer. The battering on the door changes, turning to a resounding thump, thump, thump of heavy artillery being fired at the door. They have nowhere else to run. This is the end of the line, and she thinks he almost looks forward to it.

Jack cuts in, as if to tell her off for daring to breach the parameters that she should know should never be crossed, but the Doctor sends him a silencing glance.

"Her name –" He pauses, like he has all the time in the world, like they are not about to meet their makers. "Her name was Rose."

Agent Rose Tyler. MI6's best field medic and operative. No one has not heard of her, or has not heard of the feats she has accomplished both with the Doctor and without. Martha frowns. "I wasn't aware that –"

"It's been covered up." When he cuts her off, it is a warning. Do not go there. It is a cautionary statement, designed to keep her from pushing more. Once, she would have listened, but what does she have to lose now?

"So she's dead?" She is not the most tactful person, she acknowledges, but when your life ends in minutes, tact is about as helpful as matchsticks in an inferno.

The Doctor turns away from her, and his silence is answer enough. Jack sighs, and breaks into the conversation.

"It's been papered over, because the other Agencies would have a field day if they knew that The Bad Wolf was gone." She breaks away from staring at the Doctor's profile, and forces her eyes to meet Jack's.

"But no one has heard of her death. Surely no cover-up can be so complete? Even Director Jones is unaware."

Jack's eyes are dark. "The orders come from a power much higher than the Director. But I –" He breaks off, glances at the Doctor. He swallows once, expression flitting between indecision and pain before it turns resolved. "I saw the report myself. They found her body."

The Doctor's jaw is clenched, so tight that she fears it might crack. Jack chews on his bottom lip. "Or what was left of it, anyway."

The statement hangs in the fast-disappearing air around them, ghosts that scream and wail for vengeance. She has heard of Agent Tyler's achievements, and she has also heard the whispers of rumours that there was a lot more going on between Agent Tyler and Agent Smith than simple missions. Salacious gossip, she had told herself, trying her best to ignore the twinge of envy at this Rose Tyler, who had everything she ever wanted.

Now, she isn't sure. The Doctor's clenched fist, taut jaw and whitened knuckles reveal a far more tragic tale, one that speaks volumes. Pain and grief and hurt at the loss of a comrade is natural, but something about the way he holds himself, aloof-disconnected-apart, hints at a great deal more than simple companionship and work. Her heart breaks for him.

They sit in silence, waiting for the lack of oxygen or the breakthrough of guns, whichever one kills them first. This is a pathetic way to die; out in a buried bunker in the Iraqi desert, miles from home, together but alone. They tell you of honourable deaths in service of God and Queen and Country back in the Academy, and they tell you of how glorious it is. A glorious death. She wants to laugh. No death is glorious, least of all theirs.

They will die unnamed, disavowed, undiscovered. In the end, no one ever dies for God or Queen or Country. You may honour God, serve your Queen and love your Country, but death cares nothing for those things. You die alone. Everyone dies alone.

"I told her to come with me," the Doctor whispers, voice hoarse and dry. The metaphorical noose tightens around their necks slowly, and though none of them are priests-that-can-absolve, a confession is one just the same. It will not get any of them to Heaven, they know, but that doesn't mean they have to carry their burdens with them down below. There are things they can never fully leave behind, and this is one of them for him, but maybe this will lighten the load a little.

"I told her, 'Rose Tyler and the Doctor, just as it should be.' And she listened." He runs tired hands down his equally tired face. "Why the hell did she listen? She should have known not to listen to anything I say. But she came anyway." His voice breaks, and falters as it trails off. Jack places a comforting hand on his shoulder.

"You couldn't have known what would happen. No one could. Don't blame yourself for this." The Doctor shakes his head, and continues on as if Jack never spoke.

"Did you know that she told me she loved me? And do you know what I said? I couldn't –" Jack watches the Doctor with widened eyes, shock apparent in them. "I couldn't say it back. So I told her, 'Quite right too.' And then I left the room. I left, Jack. Then they took her." Jack opens his mouth to reply, but the Doctor pushes on.

"They took her, and I killed all those bastards when I tracked them down. All nine of them. But it was too late." He slams his fist against the solid floor beneath them, and watches with faint disinterested curiosity as blood trickles down his knuckles. "I'm always too late."

She recalls reading a report of nine Serbian terrorists found dead in an abandoned warehouse, with signs of sustained and unspeakable torture. Her breath catches in her throat. "It was you. The Serbian terrorists – it was you who killed them, in cold blood."

The Doctor nods, and lifts his hand to examine his bleeding fist in closer detail. "It was unsanctioned. But they deserved it." He turns to look at her fully, and the fury banked in his eyes is terrifying. "And when I saw her remains, I wished I took longer with them." He wipes the blood on his knuckles off on his slacks. "They would have lived, you know. I would've given them a second chance, had they taken anyone other than her."

The battering on the door is louder now, and the wolves are drawing close. She closes her eyes, and tries to imagine that she is sitting on her sofa in her cushy apartment in West London, merely taking a short nap or a breather. She tries not to let her mind stray to what death feels like.

Jack, as always, tries to lighten things, no matter how hard it is. "Well, at least we'll be remembered as the stuff of legends, I suppose. That's one way to look at it."

The stuff of legends, she thinks, and finds her thoughts drawn to the Doctor and his Rose, to their success and achievements and fame together, to the way they fit, like two pieces of a puzzle. She has always envied them, has always wished she were in their shoes.

She is glad for her ordinary life now.

The stuff of legends, she knows, is nothing but the fodder for nightmares and horror stories.

The door slams open.