He blames Martha, of course.
It is her fault, he figures. Her and that curiosity of hers. He’s always liked that curiosity, but it seems to have gotten them into trouble nearly as often as his own. He wouldn’t show her the transcript, but she got a hold of the photos of the abandoned building and went on her own. The Doctor only just showed up in time.
Well, sort of.
"Doctor! The angels are moving! They keep getting closer!"
"Yes, Martha, yes, I know. Just keep looking at it. They’re quantum locked, they can’t move while you look at them.. Come over here. Come on. Keep looking at it."
"I don’t want to, it’s terrifying!"
"I’ve got you, see? My hand, in yours. It’s going to be okay. See? We’re here, we can back up towards the door and keep looking at it. We’re safe."
She nods, and takes a breath. "Doctor?"
"What if another one sneaks up behind us?"
Fantastically observant, just a bit too late.
"You are plannin’ on gettin’ a job, aren’t you?" Martha barks as she pulls her hair back, getting ready for work at that little shop, "I can’t be supporting you the entire time we’re stuck here."
This wasn’t supposed to happen.
1969. Trapped in another time. He’s rather good at that in this incarnation, the whole being trapped in timey-ness, which is rather disconcerting. They land in the middle of London, and everything that Sally had said before starts to make sense. No money, no reasonable identification, no home, nothing. And without his TARDIS key, Martha’s the one of the pair of them that managed to keep hers secure. The Angels took his, right out his pocket! Roguish and sneaky!
Fortunately, the Doctor still has his psychic paper, and he’d forgotten to clean out the folder Sally gave him from his jacket pockets. They manage to brazenly insist their way into a small one-bedroom apartment near where he knows the Angels will be in fifty years or so.
By "small" of course, the apartment is miniscule, especially in comparison to the TARDIS. He’d become accustomed to having space away from Martha, and they had places to go after adventures, their own rooms, and be not together. Now, his tinkering and timey-wimey toys are next to her hairbrush and relaxer kits on the table, and his clothes are in a pile near the ones she’s had to buy from the shop where she works.
Oh, and one bed. Very classy, Martha has said on more than one occasion. The Doctor can’t complain, though. It is free, and they need the space until Billy shows up, whenever that’s supposed to be, and they can get the ball rolling on righting their place in time.
Martha steps towards the door, turns around, and sighs, "You know, the whole of time and space, you promised me. Now I’m workin’ in a shop. It’s been nearly a month, Doctor, we’re not going to have another incident like 1913, are we?"
"No, Martha, I’m sure my Time Lord hearts are too cold to fall in love again," he replies, automatically, glancing at her over the rim of his glasses, "We’ll be all right. Going to figure everything out."
She looks, surprisingly, crestfallen. She covers it up with an annoyed look, and snorts. "Then get a job. Can’t be supportin’ you forever."
He tries to get employment, really, he does. He considers himself a successful job-seeker, because while Martha has only one, he’s gone through eight in the last two weeks. Gets a job in a shop (of all places), but loses it the next day because he’s explaining to people how inexpensively the expensive clothes are made, and how much they will cost in the next several dozen years. Then he gets a job at a farm, but loses it when his timey-wimey device blows up three hens (and it’s not pretty when they blow). He gets another job that he actually enjoys, working with television and radio waves. Then, his boss finds out he lives with Martha and fires him, saying he can’t have a nigger lover working in his labs.
This word is one that the Doctor doesn’t understand. It doesn’t translate properly, comes out all consonants and odd syllables. He’s lying on the bed, staring at the ceiling, trying to form the word on his tongue when Martha comes inside.
"What, exactly," he asks without looking at her, "Is a ‘nigger’?"
He doesn’t have to look at her to tell she’s pretty horrified he used the word. He doesn’t understand, so she sits down next to him on the bed and explains to him the concept of racism (bit like the Daleks and for just as idiotic reasons), and the origins of this word. It’s all very stupid to the Doctor. Humans, in general, look the same to him.
He says as much, and Martha laughs, but she stirs her tea a bit more violently when he explains where he’s heard it.
Things are a bit easier when he finds employment in building construction. He’s cleverer than his site contractor, but that’s all right. He’s not planning on staying in 1969 forever. They lay brick and mortar, and the Doctor comments about how it reminds him of mining on Raga.
"Yeah, where’s that, then?" Jacob Nightingale asks him, his beefy arms tossing a large brick towards the Doctor.
The Doctor’s skinnier arms catch it was more ease, "Bit far off. Don’t think you’d like it much."
He’s set to put wallpaper up on a house called Westor Drumlins. While his supervisor is upstairs, he pulls out a magic marker and writes down what Sally took photographs of. He wonders what she was supposed to be ducking from, but figures it doesn’t really matter.
He wonders how often things like this exist in the universe. Knowledge without a source, objects without a beginning. He imagines they must have enormous power, but he wouldn’t want enormous power, and he most certainly wouldn’t want to pull them from their own timeline. 2/3 of the universe (or thereabouts) would be destroyed, and he rather likes this universe.
He goes back to the apartment (it’s never quite home). Works with the machine a bit more, washes up, and pulls on his jim jams. Takes a good, long look at himself in the dusty bathroom mirror. He looks older. He doesn’t really look older, but if he squints, he can see lines forming underneath his eyes that weren’t there when he left the TARDIS all those weeks ago.
Martha, of course, wouldn’t tell him that. That wasn’t the way she was.
Him and Martha. It’s all very domestic, really, and that’s the most frustrating part about it. At night, he wanders out of the closet-that-is-supposed-to-be-a-washroom,
There’s no heat. He’s secretly grateful to have her there in bed, because she makes the covers warm, and the slight snore is comforting. He’s not alone. Tonight, like a good deal of nights beforehand, she rolls over and drapes an arm across his chest. He suppresses a chuckle. She would be so humiliated if she knew she slept like this, snoring and drooling on his chest. She wouldn’t believe him if he told her it was endearing. That, in a way, it makes him feel almost like he belongs in this little square of London, because there is someone who sleeps heavily next to him. No, she wouldn’t understand. All the same, he presses a kiss to her forehead and lets her continue sleeping.
"I love you, Doctor," she murmurs in her sleep. He hates that. It’s the only part of this sleeping arrangement that he hates, because she says it in her sleep quite often, and it means he can’t pretend he doesn’t know.
He’s starting to love her back, and he hates that, too. Their lifestyle has gotten too…too domestic. Too simple, too easy. Complicated things like emotions come up, and that’s frustrating.
This wasn’t supposed to happen.
Finally, the timey-wimey device goes ding because there’s stuff. Martha tosses on her jacket and follows the Doctor as he follows the device’s dial tone down the street. It’s late at night before there’s a thud and the man they’ve been waiting for arrives.
The Doctor attempts to explain what’s going on but unlike Martha, Billy doesn’t speak Doctor, and there’s a lot of confusion at first. A lot of misunderstandings.
"It all hinges on you," the Doctor says, "But…if you do this, all of this, you’ll save the universe."
"2/3rds of it," Billy replies, crossing his arms, "So, if I put this DVD extra on this, when they finally get around to inventing DVDs, you’ll be able to save Sally." The rest of the universe seems to not be as important to the deputy inspector.
"You must’ve really cared for her," Martha says.
"I didn’t even know her yet," Billy looks sad, but he’s trying to cover it up with a strong face, "Now, I suppose, I never really will."
The Doctor pities the other man, but he has a photograph of him at another wedding, several years in the future; his own. Another Sally, and he loves her, it’s obvious in how he’s holding her hands. Nicest psychopaths in the universe, the Doctor had said, and he wasn’t lying. Let him meet a woman in 1969, when he would’ve never had a chance, before.
The Doctor fiddles with a few settings on his makeshift DVD writer, and glances up at Martha. "Normally, I’d stick around to make sure Billy knows how to work this thing, but I’d rather not be here for another thirty years. We’ll be taking a gamble."
"What time are you going to make it come back for us?"
The Doctor’s eyebrows shoot up. "Hadn’t thought about that. I was…well, right after we give this to Billy, maybe?"
"Okay." It’s fairly obvious to the Doctor that it’s not, not to Martha. He gives her a look. "It’s just…" she sighs, "Some of the girls at the shop, you know, wouldn’t mind saying good-bye to them and…no, it’s stupid. Best to be going."
"They’ll live good lives," the Doctor promises.
"I know," Martha replies, "But still. It’s not too often in 1969 that a bunch of women are nice to a black girl, especially one with a white husband."
And cue deer-in-headlights look. "I-I didn’t know what else to tell them! You don’t have roommates around this century, and the manager’s Catholic, so livin’ with a boyfriend wouldn’t work out."
"Oh…" The Doctor regards her warily, "That explains why you had a ring, I was worried I was about to lose you to some man with longer sideburns than me."
She laughs, quietly, and then shakes her head. He looks up at her, and for an instant, just an instant, he swears she’s going to tell him she loves him, out loud, not dreaming or to a man wearing his skin. Then he can properly react, and the idea of that both elates and terrifies him. He’s so much better at dealing with things that aren’t complicated.
She doesn’t, of course. The moment passes too quickly, and she’s back to being Martha and he’s back to being the Doctor and that means that there’s this wall between them. They’re back to having things to do. She just mutters assent to the TARDIS coming back after they’ve walked out of the building.
He hands the controller off to Billy, tells him when he’ll remeet Sally, and why he can’t find her beforehand.
"It’ll be fitting," he says, looking down at the makeshift machine, "You know, her and I? We met when it was raining."
"What do you know," the Doctor replies, nodding a bit towards Martha, "So did we."
They head outside, and Martha stuffs her hands in her pockets. End of another long stay in a place neither of them really wanted to be. This time, at least, he was the Doctor, and could stop himself when he saw her hurting.
"You know, I left my wallet back at the apartment." It’s not home for her, either. "Five week’s worth of shop work---haven’t been a shop girl since I was sixteen---and it’s all gone, now."
"Weaeaeaeaeaeaell, is this really a part of your life you care to remember?" He gives his chin a scratch, "Except the non-terrible bits of it."
"You thought there were non-terrible bits?" Martha asks, looking rather incredulous.
"Well, I did create a timey-wimey device, been wanting to do that for years. And…" he glances over at her. "You were a fantastic flatmate."
Her jaw drops, but his motor is on time, and the TARDIS suddenly appears, in a whirr of vortex energy, in front of them. He grins at Martha, and motions for her to lead the way.
The TARDIS is so large after all those weeks in the small apartment, and Martha beams brightly, announcing she is going to take a bath, something she has complained she’s wanted for, quite literally, the entire time they’ve been trapped.
"You should get some rest," she says, "Your eyes are starting to get those bags under ‘em."
He nods, but he knows he won’t go to bed. In his room, the sheets are too cold, and the room is a bit too silent to sleep.
He won’t tell her that, though. Any more than she’ll tell him that she loves him while she’s awake.
Everything else was supposed to happen, he knows because he has the proof in his pockets. As for everything with Martha, he can’t help but think it wasn’t supposed to happen like this.
Muse: The Doctor (Ten)
Fandom: Doctor Who
Word Count: 2, 568