"That time we went on that picnic, you remember?" she says, "There was that chicken you'd gotten us, and that strawberry fizzy drink. You told me that nothing beat fried chicken for picnics, which is true. We just talked a lot, I liked that."
She doesn't mention it's also because he didn't mention her the entire day, that it was one of the first times it had just been them and their conversation, and their trip, but he knows. He knows how much it hurts her, and he's tried to stifle it, but he can't. Rose is always there, looming over his shoulder.
And, even now, sitting on a building top in the year 3145, Rose is still looming, still waiting, still perching, and it stains the trip for Martha, and he wishes he could fix that.
He takes a breath and nods, flipping through the next page of Men Are From Mars, the 31st Century Edition. The sum knowledge of the human emotional system, in easy-to-read format with user-friendly print. It's really quite fascinating, and he's decided to go through the book with Martha, despite her many, many protests.
"Right," he says, "Now, uh, 'Did you have any childhood pets'?"
"I don't think so," she snaps, "If you're playing the 'getting to know your roommate' game from that book, that means you have to answer the question, too."
"I've read the 21st Century edition, and I know it hasn't changed that much."
She rolls her eyes, "Oh, come on, Doctor. You've been alive, like, a billion years or something, right? That means you've got to have at least one perfect day in there."
He sighs, and she looks decidedly unimpressed. Frustrating woman, that one. Going to make quite a brilliant doctor, standing down patients who don't want to offer up any sort of information.
"My perfect day...hold on a second, got a 'billion years' to go through here," he says, shooting her an annoyed look. He could lie, of course. Say that the picnic was his best day, too, and give Martha that thrill of being something perfect in his life. But, then again, she is smart, and it wouldn't take her long to realize he'd lied, and that would hurt worse. So, he sorts out his memories, tries to pick one.
There were the days in Rome, arguing with Nero, to consider. Or riding in a canoe with Jamie, fleeing Cybermen. Or zipping along the sky in his ship with Sarah Jane. Or France with Romana. Cricketing with the Cranleighs. Fishing and never catching gumblejack. Walking away from a burning planet with Ace. Hugging Charley and knowing she was safe when she should've died many times before.
"Once," he says, finally, "I was traveling, obviously. With Rose."
The last was said as an afterthought, but the way her lips tighten, he can tell it's stained the story for her. He can tell, though she'll never say it. She's not the perfect day, not now, and she doesn't think she ever will be.
"We landed in the Blitz. Middle of a raid, actually. And there was this boy. This strange, strange little boy who wore a gas mask and could make any phone ring, even the one in the grill outside the TARDIS. He was always looking for his Mummy, and if he touched you, he made you like him."
"What was he like?" she asks.
"He was empty," he replies, automatically, "Changed an entire hospital and army regiment to be like that. Nanogene error. The first thing they saw was a terrified, injured boy with a gas mask, and they thought that was what people were supposed to be like. The whole world was becoming like that boy. Gas-masked, terrified, and searching for their Mummy."
She doesn't see the picture, and that's all right, really. She still can gauge the bad of the situation from the way he's talking.
"How did you stop it?"
He smiles, "I didn't. It was Nancy. She was the boy's mother, had him at sixteen or so, completely taboo in that time era. She confessed to the boy that she was his Mummy, and the nanogenes realized their error, recognized the healthy woman as human, changed everyone back."
Martha smiles a little, but she still doesn't understand.
"Everyone lived," he said, firmly, "Everyone, Martha. No one who touched the boy died, they all turned back into themselves. No one had to be sacrificed, no pawns had to walk in the way of danger to save others. It was beautiful, and...I...I don't get many days, like that. Where everyone lives."
He turns his head to look back down at the city below them. Midgar, the planet is, or was, at one point. Slow urban decay and overpopulation has brought the planet to near death, completely demolished and full of terror and disease.
Martha wanted him to take her somewhere new, somewhere he hadn't been before. By that, she meant somewhere he hadn't taken Rose, so he picked somewhere he didn't think Rose would like. He figures it was perhaps not the wisest of choices, but Martha hasn't complained, not yet.
It is still beautiful. Smoke cresting from shattered building tops, the sight of mountains crumbling in the distance, black water sparkling in a two-sunset. They're too far up to hear the screams and the dying, they can just see the world as it is: a planet.
"You'll have another day like that," she promises, and she slides one of her hands over to take his.
He doesn't respond for a moment, but eventually he curls his fingers around hers and nods.
It may not be a perfect day, but it rates up there on the list.
Muse: The Doctor (Ten)
Fandom: Doctor Who
Word Count: 995
Conceptual ideas from Martha Jones's wonderful prompt.