Pairing: Mostly friendship, pre-relationship Dean/Martha but only hinted at.
Notes: The title and lyrics are from the song The End Where I Begin by The Script and I think it fits Martha's mindset for this story perfectly. Give it a listen if you get a chance. Many thanks to the variety of people who helped me with their awesome beta-reading cheaphero, Mizjoely on ffn, and persiflage_1 on LJ. Also sarah_jones on LJ made AMAZING art for this story you can find the link on my profile page.
Sometimes tears say all there is to say
Sometimes your first scars wont ever fade, away
Tried to break my heart
Well it's broke
Tried to hang me high
Well I'm choked
Wanted rain on me
Well I'm soaked
Soaked to the skin
It's the end where I begin
Pulling open the door, Martha scanned the diner's interior, for a seat. The vacant room was not surprising as it was mid-morning. The early morning rush was over and the lunch crowd was not due for a couple of hours. Choosing a window seat near the door, Martha set her motorcycle helmet next to her and picked up her menu. Scrunching her nose at the stickiness of the menu she glanced over her options. These roadside diners were all starting to look alike, but she was getting better at telling the good ones from the bad before eating the food. The waitress came over with a bland smile, asking if she wanted coffee. Martha flipped over the cup in response and smiled her thanks when it was filled to the brim.
She always found it best to keep it simple when it came to ordering food from unknown eating establishments. Looking over the menu one last time, Martha decided on pancakes as being the safest bet since they were hard to mess up. Smiling up at the waitress she placed her order and sat back to try to decompress.
She had been on the road for a few months navigating across America on her motorcycle. Martha had had an internal debate between a sports bike vs. a cruiser; she was torn between the two because the sports bike was quicker and easier to maneuver but the cruiser would be more comfortable for riding long distances. Remembering how in the American Midwest it could be hours between towns, she had bought a used Harley Sportster in Charlottesville that was in good condition. As an added bonus she could carry more in the saddle bags that she had added on to the side.
Once she had secured transportation, Martha had hit the road. She had a stomach full of butterflies but was very excited to be on an adventure of her own choosing. It had been a spur of the moment decision to go on this road trip; she had needed to get away after her engagement to Tom had ended. The sad thing was that she had been relieved when Tom had ended it; the whole thing had been a mistake. She had wanted something good to come out of that year so she had called it fate that she had met Tom when she did. She shouldn't have got into a relationship so soon. Martha had spent the entire engagement trying to pretend that everything was okay, she was fine, and that this was what she wanted. By time it was over she had been tired and worn out, and in desperate need of a break.
Resigning her job at UNIT had been an easy decision. Although technically she had been a medical officer, she'd ended up being more a soldier than a doctor. She no longer wanted to lead troops into battle and it was exhausting trying to force herself into playing a part that didn't feel right, so she had quit.
Although she was in between jobs, her finances were good thanks to frugal savings and a mysterious lump sum of money that had appeared in her account. Unsure of where the money had come from, she had briefly considered calling the Doctor, but quickly pushed that thought aside, as she wasn't ready to converse with him yet on a regular basis. Instead she'd called Jack; they had become good friends over the past year. Many late-night phone calls, which had soothed fears and quieted memories that wouldn't stay buried, had seen to that. Martha trusted Jack because he had proven he would be honest with her.
"Didn't you ever hear the expression about looking a gift horse in the mouth?" was Jack's jovial response to her doubts.
At Martha's silence Jack grew serious "Listen Martha, that money is for a rainy day, do with it what you will. Spend it, save it, give it all away to charity, it's yours. Okay?"
"Okay," Martha conceded with a small smile.
Since she needed to get away from everything and everyone, and decide what to do next with her life, she decided on a vacation. The small voice in her head had called it running away, but Martha had ignored it and taken off on a road trip.
Running away it might be, but Martha wanted to see the world when it wasn't ending. To see it when she wasn't running for her life, no dying people, no scorched earth, no Toclafane hounding her every step, and no agenda other then her own. More importantly, Martha knew who she used to be, former companion to a Time Lord, former fiancé to one Tom Milligan, former medical officer to UNIT, but who did she want to become? This trip would give her the time to figure that part out.
America was a huge country. She decided on it for that very reason. It would be so very easy to get lost, and Martha desperately wanted to be lost for a little while. So she had hopped on a flight to America, only then had she called her family and explained where she was and what she was doing.
Her mum had been more then a little bit unhappy, she had had that tone that Martha hated, the one that expressed her deep and continuing disappointment in her youngest daughter. But Martha could no longer handle the weight of other people's expectations, so she had cut her mum's lecture short by telling her she would call once a week. Francine still wasn't happy, but in the end she had had no choice but to accept Martha's decision. Jack had been more understanding when she had called him.
Jack had simply said, "Do you need anything?"
Martha felt tears come to her eyes, at her friend's unquestioning acceptance. "No," she said, her voice breaking as she tried not to cry.
"Nightingale," Jack started, his voice filled with concern.
Martha interrupted strengthening her voice by sheer will, "Jack, I need to do this. I just have to get away and decide what I want."
Jack sighed but then said, "Okay, be careful, but enjoy yourself."
"Thanks Jack," Martha said, relieved that Jack wasn't going to push.
"Oh and Martha, don't do anything, I wouldn't do," Jack chuckled naughtily.
Martha had to laugh at that one "That leaves me with plenty of options, doesn't it?"
"My point exactly, Nightingale. Do what makes you happy. You've earned it," Jack said kindly.
Martha had no real plan as she wandered from state to state, taking in the natural wonder of the hills and mountains, and the man-made beauty of the different towns and cities. She couldn't help comparing this America with the one she had seen during "the Year That Never Was", though she tried to keep her thoughts from straying for too long in that direction.
A plate of pancakes interrupted her wandering thoughts. They were hot, fluffy, and delicious. She soon polished them off and politely declined the offer for more, being pleasantly full. She was reaching for the bill when two men walked past her table and head towards the last booth in the back of the diner. Martha stared at them for a moment, frozen in place.
Jerking her eyes away, Martha gripped the edge of the table hard. Dozens of old memories assaulted her brain all at once. She closed her eyes and took in a few deep breaths to calm herself. She started the breathing exercises that she had learned to stave off an oncoming flashback, which if not derailed would lead to her having a panic attack.
She didn't want to have a full blown flashback; especially out in public. Been there done that, she thought, taking in a shaky breath. She had found out that people didn't respond well to someone having a mental breakdown in the middle of the local Tesco.
She'd had quite a few flashbacks at first after that year; Martha had thought she was going crazy. She had eventually got help through Jack, who knew a therapist that specialized in helping people to deal with alien-induced trauma. She was diagnosed, with PTSD which had helped her realize she wasn't going insane. Now she only had them once in awhile, and they were usually triggered by something, it could be a smell, a noise, or in this case seeing two people who had helped her during that year.
Reaching for her coffee, Martha ignored her shaking hands and took one last deep breath. Sipping her now cold coffee, Martha looked over the brim of her cup, watching as the brothers as they sat down.
Luckily, the Winchester brothers were too busy arguing about the best route to take on the next leg of their journey, to pay her any attention. That still seemed to be the way they communicated with each other, some things apparently didn't change. Sam and Dean were still as handsome as ever, they looked good and a lot less weary then when she had last seen them.
The first time she had met the brothers and their odd friend, Castiel, it had been three o'clock in the morning at an abandoned pier in San Francisco. They were to be her couriers for the next leg of her journey. No matter what the rumors had said, she wasn't completely alone that entire year. Yeah, there were times when it was just her, but there were also times when she had help. She'd had a series of couriers, who got her from one city to the next, and helped her gather people together so she could tell her story. Usually she was with her helpers one, or maybe two days before she'd leave them to go off on her own, or to meet up with they next person who would take her to the next city, or the next country.
Her sojourn with Dean, Sam, and Castiel ended up being the longest. It was their job to get her from California to Oklahoma, with stops along the way for her to tell her tale of the Time Lord who could save them all. Dean had been very tightlipped and not exactly unfriendly, but not exactly welcoming either. Castiel was equally silent, but that just seemed to be his nature. Whereas Sam tried to make up for the reticence of the other two by being even more gregarious and friendly. Martha had warmed up to Sam first, but in the end it had been Dean whom she had understood better.
She had learned early on in her travels not to get attached to the people who helped her, so she understood Dean's reluctance to get to know her. She also understood his distrust; unfortunately she had learned the hard way that just because people were supposedly on "your side" didn't mean they were good people. So she had adopted a distant attitude with the couriers. She asked no personal questions, and volunteered no information about anything other than the mission.
All of that would change when they met up with the next set of helpers at a burnt-out industrial park on the edge of the city. The people she was to meet ended up being possessed, that night Martha learned that demons and angels were as real as time travel and aliens. The three of them had saved her life and opened her eyes to what else lived alongside humans. That, along with Martha saving Sam's life during a Toclafane attack a few days later, helped break the ice between Martha and Dean. They ended up taking her across the whole of the U.S.; along the way they taught her about what they did for a living and she shared with them her travels with the Doctor. It had been hard to say goodbye on that beach in Maine as she had found succor with the trio for the first time since her journey had begun. They had gone from strangers who were barely civil, to good friends who would lay down their lives for each other.
"Hello Martha," came a voice to her left.
Martha jumped almost spilling her coffee, quickly setting it down before she could make a mess. Shaking her head she found she had been so focused on her memories of Sam and Dean, she had missed him standing there.
"You could go over and say hello, if you wished."
Looking up into cool blue eyes Martha felt the beginnings of a smile tug at the corners of her mouth.
She simply said, "Castiel."
Castiel took that as an invitation to sit down. His suit was still rumpled and his beige overcoat carelessly hung off him. Cas was studying her with an intensity that had in the beginning taken some time for her to get used to, but now she found it somewhat comforting.
"So, you remember then?" Martha asked trying to keep her voice steady.
"I remember since the beginning of time, and also the years that have since been re-written," Cas said in his most proper,"Angel of the Lord" voice, managing to look offended and superior at the same time.
Martha said with fond exasperation, "I have missed you, Cas."
"I have found that I have missed you as well, Martha Jones," said Castiel gravely.
"They don't remember, do they?" Martha asked, dreading the answer. When Cas shook his head, Martha ruthlessly squashed a rising feeling of disappointment. Continuing with an exasperated tone, she added, "Then what am I supposed to say? 'Hi! You don't know me, but in an alternate timeline you helped me travel across America, avoiding aliens and saving my life more times then I care to remember?'" Martha shook her head, "I almost got them killed and they saw horrible things in that year, it's better that they don't remember."
Castiel's solemn look had a weight to it that Martha could physically feel making her squirm in her seat, "You also became very good friends. They do not remember that year, but they could always use a friend. As I am sure you could as well." His beautiful blue eyes were seeing too much, as they always did.
"I tried that Cas, right after that year. I looked someone up who I had known," Martha whispered, smiling sadly.
She continued, her voice getting stronger, "He was still a really nice guy, only he wasn't who I remembered. It really wasn't fair of me to expect him to be. Living day to day during that year changed people, but when that all got erased, so did those changes. So I made a promise to myself that I wouldn't look up anyone else. It is just too hard for me, and it is not fair to them. I am trying to put that year behind me and that includes people who don't even remember me."
Martha dropped her eyes to her hands. She noticed how tightly clenched together they were and slowly forced herself to relax them. She winced slightly as her hand throbbed where her nails had bit into the skin.
Castiel put his palm face up on the table, silently asking for her hand. Martha placed her hand in his and then watched as his thumb slowly traced over the crescent marks that marred her skin and were bleeding slightly. Martha closed her eyes as warmth started in her hand and spread through her. When the pain receded Martha opened her eyes again and smiled her thanks at Castiel, a part of her wishing he could take all her pain away.
Peeking over Cas' shoulder Martha saw the boys were busy trying to look like they weren't staring at their angel holding hands with a stranger. Dean really wasn't trying too hard, his curiosity winning out. "I should go," said Martha giving Cas' hand one final squeeze, as she stood up, dug in her pockets for some money, and placed it on the bill. Castiel stood up and looked almost ready to argue before he seemed to accept her decision, and followed her out.
Sam was starving. They had a hunt that looked to be a ghost two towns over, but Dean had insisted they stop to eat, and for once Sam was not going to argue. Cas had joined them just as they were parking the Impala outside the diner. Sam had been worried that something was up but Castiel had been vague as to what he was doing here. Having grown used to Cas' odd appearances, they had just shrugged their shoulders. Due to Dean's lack of manners, it fell to Sam to assure Cas that he was more than welcome.
Sam was more than a little disappointed by the unhealthy menu selections; it was in these moments that he really missed home cooked meals. Putting the menu down, he was about to ask Dean what he was getting when he noticed Cas hadn't joined them at their table.
In fact Castiel was sitting somewhere else entirely. Leaning slightly to one side Sam tried to get a better look at the woman to whom Cas was talking.
Straightening, Sam whispered, "Pssst! Dean!"
Dean was trying to decide between the waffles with bacon, or the waffles with sausage, or both bacon and sausage, and was slightly annoyed when he heard his brother hiss at him. It had been a long drive and he just wanted to eat breakfast before they had to get back in the car. He lowered his menu and gave his brother an annoyed look. Then he noticed his brother's startled expression, tensing up at what could have put that look on his brother's face.
"What?" Dean hissed back, annoyed.
"Don't look, but Cas is talking to a girl," said Sam in a low voice.
"What?!" Dean said as he began to turn around in his seat to take a look. Sam forcibly grabbed his arm and stopped him from fully turning around.
"I said don't look, they'll know were talking about them," Sam said worriedly.
Dean smacked Sam's hand away and got up from his seat, shoving his brother over in order to sit next to him and get a better look. Sure enough, there was Castiel talking to some strange woman.
"Who is she?" Sam continued on in a whisper.
"Dude, why are you whispering?" Dean asked in a normal tone of voice. "How would I know? Last time I looked, it wasn't my day to watch the angel." Dean rubbed his neck in consternation. "As far as I knew Cas doesn't know anyone other than the two of us, and Bobby."
Sam, in his opinion being the only one at the table with any sort of etiquette, was at least pretending to look at his menu, so it didn't appear like he was staring. Dean didn't even try to hide the fact that he was openly gawking. Sam rolled his eyes in exasperation, but didn't bother to try to correct him because he knew his brother wouldn't listen anyway.
Dean thought the woman was very good looking; she had black hair tied back in a braid that fell across her shoulder. Her dark eyes were lit up with some sort of emotion and a mouth which, in Dean's opinion, if she had been smiling would have been her best feature. She was wearing a well-worn black motorcycle jacket. He figured the 883 Harley Sportster he had admired outside must be hers, and her hotness factor went up about a thousand percent.
"She looks troubled," Sam said. Dean agreed, but hadn't wanted to say it out loud and risk sounding like a girl.
"What the…" Dean asked in bewilderment, watching Cas briefly hold the woman's hand. It was then that Dean discovered he was right about her smile, it was beautiful.
When she leaned slightly to one side and caught both Dean and Sam staring, they quickly picked up their menus, trying to appear causal. This is stupid, Dean thought and quickly set the menu back down, wondering if he shouldn't just go over and say hi. Then he saw her and Cas stand up and walk out. He didn't know why, but Dean found himself standing, and a part of him wanted to follow them out, but he held himself back. Instead he watched their progress through the plate glass window.
Walking quickly outside Martha could almost feel the brothers' eyes following her and Cas. Fearing that they might actually get up the nerve to talk to her, Martha quickly straddled the Harley and started it up.
Cas was concerned about his friend's abrupt departure, "Martha," Cas said placing a hand on her arm stopping her from placing her motorcycle helmet on. "Do you have a number where you can be reached?"
Martha stared at Cas, and then with laughter in her voice, asked disbelievingly "Do you have a mobile now?"
Cas tilted his head in confusion at her use of the word mobile before remembering it was the British word for cell phone.
Castiel put his hand in his pocket and withdrew his phone, and shrugged sheepishly.
Martha had missed the trio; it would be nice to have someone else to talk to because right now she basically only had Jack, not that he didn't listen, but he had his own life. Cas had been a good friend and he was right when he said she could use more. When she had first returned from traveling with the Doctor she had tried to reconnect with friends, she had known from before, without much success. There were huge sections of her life she had to leave out. There was also too much of a gap between the Martha they had known and the Martha she had become.
Making a quick decision, Martha reached into the saddle bags and withdrew one of the last business cards she had got as a gift from her sister. She had received them when she had officially became a doctor. Searching for, and finally finding a pen, Martha hastily scratched out her old mobile number and put her new American cell number.
"I would like to keep in touch," Martha said, with a small smile, handing him the card. "Plus, if you ever need help you could call."
Castiel smiled and looked relieved as he placed the card in his pocket.
Picking up her helmet, Martha glanced up once more at the diner. She found her gaze locked with Dean's as he looked out the window. His eyes held hers, and for a brief moment time seemed to stop. Martha remembered long stretches of road the four of them had ridden in the Impala, campfires under the stars, and finally being able to sleep deeply knowing Dean, Sam, and Cas would keep watch. Laughter and friendship amidst so much darkness that was what the Winchesters and Castiel had given her.
"I could introduce you," Cas offered, hoping to entice her into staying.
Her gaze still locked with Dean's, Martha realized she was tempted. Then Tom's face once again flashed across her mind and she recalled all the hurt, anger, and disappointment that had lead to their breakup. She remembered how badly she had messed up trying to be in a relationship with someone from that year, someone who didn't really exist except within her memories. Martha quickly looked away from the temptation that was Dean Winchester, and placed her helmet on her head.
A voice in her head called her a coward. A coward she might be, but she couldn't put herself out there again, she just couldn't. She was leaving everything about that year behind her.
"Goodbye Cas," she said hurriedly, afraid if she lingered the angel would be able to talk her into staying. Not daring to look at the diner window again, Martha randomly picked a direction and sped off.
Castiel shook his head, as he was once again wondered why humans were so difficult and stubborn.
"Cas just got her number," Sam said in an odd voice. "That's just weird."
"No kidding," Dean replied sarcastically, although it was said with no real malice, because it was weird.
He was about to say something else when the woman looked up and their gazes met for the first time. Dean took in a deep breath as a rush of feeling hit him. It was attraction, but it was also more. It felt like being at the top of a roller coaster that moment right before the drop. It was the anticipation of the inevitable, mixed with the uncertainty of what might come next.
The look in her eyes felt familiar, but Dean would have staked his life on never having met her before. However he really wanted to meet her now. Just as he made up his mind to walk outside and talk to her, she broke eye contact. He watched in dismay as she placed the helmet on her head and swiftly drove off. Dean was outside before he even realized he had moved.
Standing next to the angel he watched the motorcycle getting smaller as it drove off in the distance.
Feeling as though he had ended up in the twilight zone, Sam was left in the diner wondering what just happened. Now Cas and his brother were acting weird. Then again, Sam thought with a resigned shrug of his shoulders, weird is normal when it comes to the Winchesters. Sam then followed his brother outside at a more sedate pace.
"Who was she, Cas?" Dean was asking just as Sam caught up with his brother. Silently the angel handed over the card. Curiosity thoroughly piqued at both Dean and Cas' odd behavior, Sam tried looking over his brother's shoulder to read what it said only to have Dean give him a pissy stare and move away.
Dean read the card out loud, "Doctor Martha Jones G.P. London, England." The number had been scratched off and a new one written underneath. Which told him a lot and yet at the same time, not nearly enough.
"How do you know her?" Dean asked trying to make his voice casual, although he was dying to know the answer.
The Angel just looked at Dean as though he was searching for something and whatever he was looking for apparently he didn't find it, because he sadly shook his head and with the sound of wings fluttering, disappeared.
"Well, that's very informative. THANKS CAS!" Dean said, sarcastically shouting the last part up into the sky.
Shrugging his shoulder Dean followed Sam back into the diner. He sat down across from his brother and once again tried to decide what to have for breakfast. It was then he realized that he still had Martha Jones' business card in his hand. He should just throw it away; after all he didn't know the woman. Instead he found himself taking out his wallet and placing her card behind his driver's license.
Dean didn't know how he knew, but he had a feeling he would be seeing Dr. Jones again.
That thought made him smile as he turned back to his menu anxious to eat breakfast.
They had a hunt to get to.
The End (?)