In an effort to try and get back to regular updates, I'm going to do my best to power through this chapter. Thanks once again for all the reviews, follows, and favorites, guys, it really means a lot. Ok, so this chapter was a request made by quite a lot of you, and my internet's down as I type this, so I can't check who. Regardless, I hope you all enjoy!

Dobby's Polka-Dotted Sock

Chapter Twelve

"I thought that seminar on procedure was rather informative," Ranjit commented as they made their way into the main cafeteria. Rory nodded, but was too busy searching his pockets to give a verbal response. He and his coworker were attending a series of lectures and seminars in London, and had gotten on the bus early that morning to get here. Unfortunately, he had only just remembered he had left the lunch Amy had packed the day before on the kitchen counter when he'd tripped on a cube, and only had some small change on him, hardly enough for a meal.

"I think I'll just skip—" he started to say, but broke off the sentence when he felt his phone start to buzz in his pocket. "Hang on, have to take this. The wife," he added upon checking the caller ID. Ranjit grinned and waved him off, so Rory went back out the way he came, but turning left into the lobby instead of right to the corridors of lecture halls. Out of politeness to his colleagues from around the country, the nurse waited until he was in the large, open space with a glass-lined front wall before answering his mobile.

"Hey, Amy, what's up?" Rory hoped, really hoped that this was a purely innocent phone call. The last time the redhead had called him at work it had been to inform him that their basement had completely flooded, but not to worry because the Doctor had materialized the TARDIS inside it and was for all intents and purposes scuba-diving to find the source of the trouble.

He'd barely been able to concentrate on work the rest of the day.

"Hey, stupid face," Amy greeted, and he heard the sound of a rustling bag as she continued, "You forgot your lunch."

"Oh, I know, I'm just going to—"

"And you didn't take enough money to cover food and transport," she cut across smoothly, accurately guessing his current situation. "Lucky for you, you're getting both for free."

He'd been about to assure her that he could go without a meal, but now Rory hesitated before asking, "How do you mean?"

"The Doctor's going to bring it to you, of course," she scoffed, and Rory's eyes went wide.

"Oh, Amy, that's probably not the best idea—"

"Why not? It's just a quick trip, not even time travel, so he can't get lost."

"He's the Doctor," was all he said, and was sure she merely rolled her eyes in reply.

"Bad piloting aside, he's insisted, so he'll be just a minute."

While Rory admitted to himself that it felt nice that the Time Lord was so concerned about his health he'd make a simple little trip just for him, he knew someone had to stay logical about this. "And what if Ranjit sees 'John Smith'? How am I going to explain how he got to London in less than five minutes?" Sure, the other man hadn't followed him, but it was a possibility.

"Then just intercept him, get your food, and turn him right back around. Should be simple enough, Centurion," she countered, and that just wasn't fair. She knew he loved it when she called him that.

"Well, if you're sure," he agreed.

"Great, he's leaving now," she told him. "Have fun with your conference-thing."

He smiled at that, typical Amy. "I will. Love you."

"Love you, too," she returned before hanging up. Rory sighed, shaking his head as he snapped the phone shut and placed it in his pocket.

"Spouse?" A woman's voice inquired, and he turned to see the speaker giving him a knowing smile. She was a pretty woman, perhaps a few years older than he or Amy, with dark skin and black hair held back from her face by a headband.

"Yeah, actually," he replied.

In one hand she held a phone of her own, and she waved it a bit saying, "Just got off the phone with mine. We were going to meet for lunch, but the baby's being a bit cranky."

"So you live in London, then?" He guessed, and she nodded before giving a little gasp.

"Oh my God, I'm being so rude! Sorry, didn't even—" She shook her head at herself and gave an embarrassed smile, sticking her hand out to shake. "Martha Smith-Jones, or Doctor Jones if we're being professional."

He took it, glad to relieve her of her mortification. "Rory Williams. I'm, er, a nurse." Rory was well aware of the societal disdain for male nurses, but the woman just grinned.

"Pleased to meet you. Is this your first time to London?"

"Well," he stalled, recalling their trip to Henry the Eighth's London only a month or so ago. "Sort of."

She tilted her head and furrowed her brow in a confused manner, and seemed about to pose a follow-up to her question, but didn't get the chance.

"Rory!" It was a call he should have been very familiar with by now, and yet he still jumped, because he'd completely forgotten his task. Wait for the Doctor, receive his lunch, and send the alien right back home. Now he'd lost the advantage because of surprise.

He turned around, seeing his friend striding toward him, glancing about the high-ceilinged room with interest. A brown paper bag was clutched in one hand.

"Oh- John," Rory decided, because after all, calling the Time Lord 'Doctor' at a medical convention would have been incredibly silly. "My lunch. Thanks." He took the bag from the beaming alien, about to open his mouth and direct the man back the way he'd come, but was interrupted.

"Wish I had a friend to magically appear with food," Martha Smith-Jones remarked with a laugh. "That's pretty lucky, mate."

For some inexplicable reason, the Doctor's face had gone slack in some mixture of shock and incredulity, and he was very, very pale. Rory realized belatedly that he had been blocking the other's view of the woman behind him, and so he watched with growing interest as his friend leaned almost comically to the side, his eyes growing bigger as he took in the female doctor's appearance.

"Hi," she tried with a warm, yet teasing grin, laughing a bit when the alien gave a start.

"What- oh! Yes, I mean, hello!" The Time Lord's lips twitched into a nervous smile, and he snapped his head back and forth between Rory and Dr. Jones, looking almost lost. "I, uh—"

"John, this is Dr. Jones," Rory introduced, more than a little concerned by his friend being tongue-tied. The Doctor was never at a loss for words. "We just met; she's attending the conference here. Martha, this is my friend, John Smith."

For some reason, the woman blinked, nearly taking a step back at the name. "John Smith, huh? I have a friend who goes by that name." Though she was still smiling, something told Rory that she wasn't really there, and that her mind was far away, thinking of other things. Her gaze finally refocused on the Doctor. "Common name, I suppose. It's part of my married name, at any rate."

She'd held out her hand again and the Doctor grasped it tightly, his face splitting into an ear-to-ear grin. "Very common. And very nice to meet you, Martha Smith-Jones." She kept smiling, though he felt it was probably more to humor the crazy man than anything, and then stepped back. Rory took that as his cue to regain his mission.

"Right, well, thanks for the lunch, John," he began, yet he suspected the Doctor was not even listening. The nurse was leading them back to the front doors, but the alien just kept grinning to himself.

He even heard the Time Lord breathe the words, "Smith and Jones."

"But I think Amy's expecting you back," Rory finished, stressing his wife's name. He knew that the Doctor, just like himself, was devoted to Amy. They were her boys.

Sure enough, it did the trick. His friend lost the little smile and snapped out of his strange daze. "Oh, right. Not to worry, Rory, I'm parked just around the corner. She won't even miss me—"

"Then you'd best get going," he stated, knowing how things could get out of control when the Doctor was around. The longer he stayed, the more likely that the medical convention was about to be attacked by aliens or something. "Don't want to be late."

"She's a TARDIS, not a bus, Rory!" The Time Lord laughed, patting him reassuringly on the shoulder. "Anyway, I think I parked her around to the left."

"You think?" He repeated dubiously, but the other just headed out the doors. "Doctor!" He called after him in mild irritation, but a wave was all he got in return. Rory sighed again, turning around and decided upon heading back to the cafeteria to finally eat his lunch.

He was met by a pair of wide eyes and a mouth dropped open in astonishment. Martha Smith-Jones had only been standing a few yards away.

"You called him Doctor…and he said TARDIS…" she was speaking barely above a whisper, but the words sounded loud to his ears.

"Uh, I can, er, explain," he started, truly unaware of what he was going to say, but speech was rendered unnecessary as the woman slapped a hand to her forehead.

"Ugh! John Smith—Martha, how can you be so thick!" She scolded herself, shaking her head as a determined look settled on her features. Rory followed her stare outside, to where the Doctor was just walking around the corner. And then he had to jump back as she ran past him out the door.

Dr. Jones could run. Rory mentally shook himself and took off after her. He was absolutely thrown, not having a clue what was going on, but it could be potentially bad. That was all he needed to know.

"Where are you going?" He yelled as he followed after her.

"To stop him from disappearing again!" Was her reply, and as they turned the corner she put on a final burst of speed, for the Doctor was nearly to the TARDIS. Rory thought perhaps the mere sight of the blue box spurred the woman on.

"Doctor!" Martha Smith-Jones shouted, and the Time Lord only had time to whirl about in confusion before the female doctor threw herself at him.

"Mar—oof!" They went down in a tangle of limbs, just feet away from the ship.

OoO

He felt winded. Absolutely, utterly winded. And he wasn't sure if it was because of the action of a full-grown woman launching herself bodily at him or because it was Martha Jones. Martha Jones!

As he sat up, reaching forward to help her as well, their eyes met, really met. And it was a hello, but not the kind two polite strangers exchanged for a single, brief moment. It was an experience, a shared treasure, because after all this time—

"Hello, Martha Jones," the Doctor breathed. Before he could contain himself, his arms had gone all the way around her in a crushing embrace. But she was clutching back just as tightly.

A shocked, yet relieved sounding laugh seemed to tumble from the human doctor's lips. "I can't believe it—it's really you!" He just held her with a contented smile on his face. That was until he saw a very familiar pair of shoes appear on the grass in front of him. The Doctor looked up to meet Rory's rather bemused expression.

"Mind filling me in?" The nurse requested, and Martha gave a start as if just remembering his presence.

"Oh my God, sorry- I—"

"It's all quite simple, Rory," he cut across smoothly, recognizing her embarrassed stammering for what it was. The female doctor usually liked to act more composed around strangers or acquaintances. Releasing her and jumping to his feet in one motion, he offered his hand to her to pull her up as well. "You see, this is Martha and she—"

"Travelled with you," the other man summed up, and the Doctor snapped his mouth shut, quite put out. The Roman always was particularly good at guessing what he was about to say.

"Well, yes," he grudgingly agreed, and he glanced to his right to see Martha watching with an amused smirk. "But that makes it sound a lot more boring than it was."

"I take it you're travelling with him now?" She inquired.

"Um, yeah. Me and my wife, Amy," Rory explained and she nodded in understanding.

"That's a bit unusual," Martha remarked, turning to look at him. The Doctor shrugged.

"It's new."

"That's not all that's new, mister." At his blank look, she merely rolled her eyes and waved an arm at him.

He blinked. "Oh! Yes, that. Regenerated—what do you think?" He held his arms out to either side, allowing her a full inspection. Though she shook her head a bit, Martha humored him and gave his new body a considering look.

"It's- different," she said at last, and his face must have indicated some disappointment or uncertainty for she hastened to add, "That's not a bad thing, I just have to get used to it. You lost the suit," she noted.

"Pinstripes aren't that flattering on me," he dismissed and she actually laughed a little. Then Martha reached out to adjust his bowtie, which had gone askew from their fall to the ground.

"Thought these were just for special occasions."

"Every day's a special occasion, Martha," he told her, his face stretching into a smile as he elaborated, "Today I get to see you."

She shook her head at him again, turning to share a knowing look with Rory. "Don't you hate it when he does that? Makes it near impossible to be mad at him." As Rory nodded, the Doctor felt slightly concerned; was Martha supposed to be mad at him? "It's been awhile, Doctor," she hinted finally, her smile dimming. "Years."

Oh. He averted his eyes, too ashamed to meet her serious gaze. "So it has." He had the sudden thought that it was strange she hadn't known to look for him. He had been certain Jack would have gone straight to the Smith-Jones pair. But perhaps the Captain had wanted him to make the first step.

Well, he'd disappointed the immortal again. This meeting had been a complete accident, no effort on his part, a coincidence. Just another joke the Universe played on him for fun. Taunting Martha Jones.

"You were going to regenerate that last time we saw you, weren't you?" He looked up to see her sad, almost remorseful expression. "And you were all alone."

The Doctor began to panic. "Oh, it wasn't so bad, Martha- just some radiation poisoning—" He blanched at the alarmed looks that came over both her and Rory's faces. "Er, I mean, it was fine, I was fine. I've regenerated by myself before, I'm used to it." He certainly had a knack for sticking his foot in his mouth, didn't he?

She reached out to touch his arm. "That doesn't make it ok. And before that, when we all just left—I didn't even check, I never thought Donna—" He liked to think she had become overcome with emotion and so threw her arms about him for comfort, but in honesty his face had crumpled and it was he resting his head on her shoulder as she kept talking, for some reason feeling this need to purge herself of a guilt she unnecessarily carried. "I'm so sorry, Doctor."

"You've nothing to be sorry about," he insisted, and if his voice sounded a bit choked up, he wasn't going to admit to it. After all they'd been through, it was he who should be sorry. And he was. The Doctor sniffed once, raising his eyes to meet Rory's concerned stare. The nurse looked away quickly, likely uncomfortable and feeling left out. "Ok, um, how have things been for you?" He asked the female doctor, trying to distract himself, and her, from the past. "You and Mr. Mickey?"

He heard her chuckle weakly as they straightened and stepped back from each other. "Not just me and Mr. Mickey, Doctor."

"Oh?" He questioned with a raised eyebrow, but she just grinned at him. "Oh!" He exclaimed a moment later. "You—how many? How old?" Martha Jones and Mickey Smith- with children! They'd make wonderful parents, he was sure.

"Just the one, so far. Mandy's a toddler," she informed him, the parental warmth and pride entering her tone.

"That's brilliant, Martha—amazing!"

"That's rich, coming from the man who travels time and space saving the universe on a daily basis," she only half-joked.

"Tell me about it," Rory agreed. Well this just wouldn't do. The Doctor took each of their hands.

"But it is! Martha, Rory—you and your normal, human lives. That's what it's all for." These two brilliant humans were so much his better. Settling down with a family, dedicating their lives and devoting themselves to it- all the things he could never bring himself to do. The least he could do was make sure they could.

The two medical professionals returned his smile, before each glanced away, somewhat abashed. Rory and Martha, quite similar in that regard, really.

Martha gasped as she caught sight of her watch. "I'm giving a lecture after lunch- I've got to go set everything up. But—" she seemed torn, clearly not wanting to leave so soon.

"Go on," he urged, and she smiled gratefully.

"Just promise, Doctor, please—this won't be the last?" He hesitated, and her face immediately fell, so he hastily replied.

"Of course it isn't. Still haven't seen Mandy yet, have I?"

"You'll love her." He was sure he would, the daughter of two such friends as Martha and Mickey. She leaned forward once more to give him a final hug. "I'll see you, then."

"You will," he assured quietly. She hurried back to the building, stopping before turning the corner to give a final wave which he returned. But as she vanished from sight, his smile faded. Saying goodbye to Martha Jones always left him a little empty inside.

"Well, um…thanks, again, for the lunch," his friend spoke up after a moment of silence, causing him to jump, startled from his thoughts.

"Oh, it was no trouble, Rory," he replied easily enough, clapping the other man on the shoulder.

"Exactly how many of your friends are living here and haven't seen you in years?" It wasn't an accusation, but he still winced.

"A few," he murmured at last. These Williams men, for whatever reason, when they asked him something, he couldn't seem to lie. Even if the truth hurt.

"I think I'll ask Martha for her contact information. Maybe we could meet up soon," the nurse suggested, and he smiled wryly. Trust Rory to not let him chicken out.

"That'd be very helpful, thank you Rory." The other man opened his mouth to say something else, but he pressed on, "Well, Amy's waiting. Best if I just head back."

"Er, right," the Roman agreed. "I think I'll just go eat then." Because Rory would never push things, not unless he was truly upset. Even if the man was bursting with questions, he would keep them to himself. Something he was grateful for in this moment; Amy would be interrogating him non-stop by this point.

As the Doctor reentered the TARDIS, the Old Girl gave a happy sort of hum. "You missed her, too, eh?" He pulled a switch, starting the takeoff process.

Martha Jones, certainly a blast from his now-distant past. It seemed the longer he stayed standing still with the Ponds, the more his past seemed to catch up. She was not unwelcome of course, the Woman Who Walked the Earth, the doctor who had earned her title…the friend who had left him.

For that made Dr. Martha Smith-Jones different from nearly everyone else, especially in these last hundreds of years. She had chosen when to go and how and why. She had chosen.

And every once in a while, she chose to come back. Reminding him of how amazing she was, reminding him of his foolishness and mistakes, reminding him of loss—but not completely.

She was the one thing he had really salvaged—oh, not perfectly, no. Thoughts of the soldier he had created always weighed heavily on his mind when they met. But she could be there, if she wished, living and breathing and seeing him. Martha Jones gave him hope.

If he could just repeat it once more—not The End, but To Be Continued. What a gift that would be. Something he knew he did not deserve. But it was always a possibility.

"What are you smiling to yourself about?" Amy questioned as soon as he stepped into the kitchen.

"What isn't there to smile about, Pond?" He returned swiftly, dropping a kiss to her forehead as he passed.

"You always find something," the redhead smiled fondly and sat down across from him at the table for lunch.

Just this once, please.

So, it sort of had its ups and downs, but I think this was definitely a happier chapter than the last. Sorry for the super-long wait, but I got stuck about halfway through and then my schedule decided to swamp me with activity. Hopefully I can get back to more regular updates. Thanks once again for all your support and suggestions, I love reading them! I hope you enjoyed the chapter, and please review!