builtofsorrow: (dw | our hearts are way beyond capture)
[personal profile] builtofsorrow
title: Beginning After the End
characters: Martha Jones; appearances by Jack Harkness, Tish Jones, the Doctor, and various others.
rating: G (maybe thematically PG?) pretty much, though the song Dust of Ages has one use of the word 'f---ing'.
spoilers: To be safe, all of S3, and references to what I've read in interview spoilers about what Martha's doing during S4.
disclaimer: I don't own any of it (or much else besides).
notes: I've never been totally at peace with the way S3 ended, so in a lot of ways this was an attempt to exorcise those demons. I've been collecting the various songs for awhile now: songs that reminded me of Martha and how she feels about the Doctor and that reflected how the world must have changed for her after everything we saw her go through (or heard about her going through later). As a final note, one bit of fic is reused from my piece No Longer at Ease (In the Old Dispensation), so if it looks familiar, it's because I plagiarised myself.

Compiled & Written for the [livejournal.com profile] lifeonmartha Countdown to Martha.

With infinite thanks to my beta, [livejournal.com profile] lexiedoh.





~ zip file ~

The Beginning After the End :: Stars
Oh the blood and the treasure
And the losing it all
The time that we wasted
And the place where we fall
Will we wake in the morning
And know what it was for
Up in our bedroom after the war?


Martha got used to silence while she was saving the world.

She's lying on the bed in her childhood room, staring up at the ceiling, and she smirks at that thought and its arrogance, and the smirk turns into spasms of laughter in spite of the fact that it isn't really that amusing. She fills the spaces of her thoughts with metaphors of pendulums, of carnival games, of dashing madly toward one extreme before elastic ropes or laws of nature pull her unwillingly back into another.

Tish is perched on the window seat of Martha's old bedroom, facing the bed, leaning forward with an elbow on one knee and chin in hand, legs crossed and one foot on the floor, the other swinging back and forth, ticking off minutes that already happened once before. She's filling the spaces of silence with her voice, talking about anything that comes to mind; then, she's suddenly aware that Martha's laughing, and so Tish breaks off mid-sentence, not actually certain whether she's said something amusing, because she was only half paying attention to herself.

Martha becomes aware of the silence the second her sister's voice breaks off, and she turns her face toward Tish, no longer laughing, but voice still coloured with amusement. 'Tish,' she says, 'we saved the world.'

'You saved the world,' Tish corrects, lips and eyebrows quirked half in amusement and half in confusion. 'Not sure why that's so funny though.'

Martha ignores the correction and rolls over onto her stomach, twisting her body as she does so, so she's leaning up on both elbows and facing Tish before she replies, 'It's just strange, don't you think? I mean of all the children in the world who play at superheroes, who'd have thought we'd be the ones who'd grow up and really do it? Not that we're superheroes, but – you know, don't you? And I just thought – I had this thought that I saved the world, and it's so ludicrously arrogant, don't you think, but I did; we did. We saved the world, Tish.'

'You saved the world,' Tish repeats, and the force of it is counteracted by the quieter pitch of her voice. 'If it weren't for you, we'd all still be trapped, imprisoned up there - or- or worse.' Tish's eyes are wide and unblinking, and her voice is shaking with unspoken horrors. She gulps in a breath and holds it, head down, regaining her composure before she looks up at her sister once more. 'You've always been the star, Martha, the one with her life together, the one who makes good choices. I- I'm happy with who I am, who I've been, but I- admire you, yeah? Did before all this, always will, because you're not ordinary and you don't settle for being thought so.'

Martha's fingers are playing unconsciously with a loose thread on her coverlet, and her eyes are locked with her sister's until Tish stops talking, and Martha suddenly doesn't know where to look, so she tries to look everywhere at once. Her eyes finally rest on the thread she's still rolling between a thumb and forefinger, and she's suddenly and stunningly aware of how exposed she feels. It wasn't just silence she got used to over the past year: she'd grown used to being invisible as well, to being on the periphery, to being shoved into the corners of people's minds. There's something inside her that whispers that she was already getting used to that before the past year, but she pushes it aside, because there's little room in her life for jealousy anymore, especially not when Tish looks like she does now, head down again, her body curling in on itself. Raising her head a bit so that she's looking at her sister fully, Martha realises how much the silence is making Tish uncomfortable, realises that there's some drive still inside of her sister to draw as little attention to herself as possible.

Finally, Tish raises her head and asks quietly, 'Your Doctor's waiting for you, isn't he?'

'He's not my Doctor,' Martha protests gently.

Tish doesn't say anything, but Martha can read the plea in her face, and she hears the words in her head just as clearly as she'd heard them when her mother had spoken them to her earlier: Then don't leave us.


One Fine Wire :: Colbie Caillat
Life plays such silly games inside of me
And I've felt some distant cries, following
And they're entwined between the night and sunbeams
I wish I were free from this pain in me

And I'm juggling all the thoughts in my head
I'm juggling and my fear's on fire
But I'm listening as it evolves in my head
I'm balancing on one fine wire


It comes out all wrong, and Martha knows it even as the words are leaving her mouth. She's made her decision, and of course this is all going to essentially end – hopefully temporarily – the same way, but the words she's saying now aren't ones she was intending to say when she came out to see the Doctor and – unbeknownst to him – say goodbye. She's said enough, and there's a part of her that doesn't know why she's turning around now, going back to say more.

She's lived most of the past year with only herself for true company, and in a way, it hadn't been so very different from her life before the Doctor. She's spent her whole life perpetually a bit outside of things, disconnected in at least some aspects from even her closest friends. She hadn't had time to be anything else, not with school and then her work at the hospital and all her family counting on her to hold things together, to plan and patch up and smooth over.

And then. Then, that day on the moon when she'd first met the Doctor, and she'd felt a flash of recognition, of a matching soul and a kindred spirit sparking within him: and her own reached out and took hold. Martha doesn't want to let go of that, to let him leave, to be here alone with that bit of her soul that no one else has ever been able to understand.

It had all been magnified over the past year: the aloneness, the feeling within herself that only she could fix and mend and save the things and the people she loved, and the knowledge that they were counting on her to do so. Martha had imagined that this loneliness that was saving the world was what the Doctor felt like all the time, even with her about, and it was a helpful thought (if heartbreaking, because he'd been saving the world for centuries, and it was only now that all the people he'd been saving were learning who he was). And oh, of course she loves him (doesn't think she could stop if she wanted to). But she'd settled into their relationship and the boundaries of it some time over the past year, and it doesn't hurt so much anymore, knowing he'll never love her in the same way she does him. ('It's different,' Jack had said to her in a moment when the Doctor had been preoccupied and before the whole world had been ripped apart, 'falling in love when you're immortal, or practically. I know what it is to only have one life, but he's never known that. And he loves you- us-' he'd paused here and then added carefully, 'and Rose too, but it's not in the same way we love him. It can't be.')

Here in this moment, she's lost in a tangle of all these thoughts: who she is and who she's been and what she's done and all the love and fear and pain and beauty that she's experienced because of the not-man before her. She's aware that everything she's saying now, about Vicky, is an unfair and inaccurate comparison, but somewhere in the tangle, there's a bit of her that wants to try and make him understand what it meant to her when he couldn't let go of his grief long enough to see how much his words were hurting her. Somewhere else, she realises that she's saying goodbye because all the pieces of their souls that match and spark against one another are now too volatile and raw, and they'd be so desperate to save everything they could find that they'd likely end up saving nothing at all. And as she tosses her mobile to the Doctor and manages a smile and an almost flippant farewell, she knows right at the centre of her being that she's doing this mostly because nothing fits together in the way it used to, and her family are depending upon her to help mend things and patch things up, and she can't bear to leave them behind to do it for themselves.


Uncomfortably Slow :: Newton Faulkner
So don't take my photograph
'Cause I don't wanna know
How it looks to feel like this
As cars and people pass
It feels like standing still but I know
I'm just moving uncomfortably slow


Martha can almost feel the world stop spinning as she steps out of the TARDIS and walks back toward the front door of her childhood home.

She goes directly to Royal Hope the next day, manages to explain away her absence with surprisingly little trouble, and reestablishes her routine. She spends her days in the hospital and she goes home to her childhood bedroom to study and she spends evenings with her parents and with Tish, sipping wine and swapping stories from their respective days and doing their best to avoid awkward gaps in conversation (and Martha tries to shove back the part of her that had learned to love silence, while she watches the clock surreptitiously and tries not to wonder if the second-hand has always moved so slowly).

The weeks go by, and if she allowed herself to question, she would tell herself she had done the right thing. But she never technically questions what she said to the Doctor and why she said it, doesn't dwell on why she stayed in London, in her rightful time (ignores her choice of stay instead of left, clings to technicalities). She's already busy enough with trying not to be so aware of every timepiece in her near vicinity and working to break herself of the nasty attachment she's suddenly developed to her mobile.

Instead, she throws most of her energy into tamping down even the vaguest of doubts with lists and definitions and textbooks and patients and her family. And on the days when every fibre of her being is aware of how very much she feels trapped in slow motion as the world moves by her at a normal pace, she is very careful to keep her head up and keep moving about the hospital with a smile on her face, to study with unbreakable concentration, and to spend the evenings curled up on the settee against her sister's side, never allowing herself to look at a clock unless it's absolutely necessary.


Dust of Ages :: Eels
This is the day that
I give myself up cold
The dust of ages
Settles on your days
And so you shake your coat off
And get on your way

Bloodshot and trembling
A new day has begun
The dust of ages
Settles on your days
And so you blow it all away
And get on your way


She passes her exams. It's a bit of a shock really, not because she ever actually believed she was going to fail, but because she'd been working so hard for it, burying herself in preparations, and suddenly she's no longer quite sure how to fill her days.

'I'm glad you didn't enforce the ten year rule,' Jack says, the night she gets her results. He'd shown up on her doorstep to congratulate her personally, and they're presently standing in her mother's kitchen, left alone for the moment. Jack's been recruited to chop vegetables, and Martha, forbidden to help, is trying to hide a smirk as she leans with one hip against the countertop and watches him.

'I'm sorry, the what?' she asks, slightly confused.

'The ten year rule,' he repeats, in a tone that indicates she ought to know what he's talking about. She's still unsure of his meaning though, so she simply quirks her eyebrow at him when he stops chopping long enough to cast a glance at her, and even though he quickly returns his gaze to the vegetables, she can tell by his grin that his casual tone is forced when he continues, 'I didn't hear from you for so long, I thought maybe you'd actually gone and joined some hermit group and the next time I'd see you would be in a cave somewhere.'

Martha laughs, reaching out a hand to give him a small shove as she says, 'Oh, hush. I was slightly busy and preoccupied.'

'Watch it!' Jack replies, waving the knife slightly in her direction. 'Just because you're a doctor doesn't mean you need to injure the people around you so you can use us to practise upon.' Martha merely rolls her eyes in reply, and he returns to his chopping with a grin, continuing, after a silence, 'Anyway, I'm glad I didn't get you the t-shirt then.'

'What was it going to say? Hermits United?'

He chuckles. 'What else?'

She laughs in reply, and then there's silence for a moment before she steps closer and presses herself against one of his shoulders. 'I've missed you, Jack.'

Jack sets down the knife and turns toward her, running a hand over her hair before wrapping his arms around her and closing her in his embrace.

'It was just easier to stand still for awhile, you know?' she murmurs, half to herself. 'To go to the other extreme, I think, and bury myself in things from before. I'm sorry.'

'Hey,' he breathes, pushing her back slightly and using one hand to tilt her face up toward his. 'Hey. Don't apologise. I understand.'

'Better than anyone, I'm sure,' she whispers back, reaching up to place a hand on his cheek.

He tilts his head down further, resting his forehead on hers for a moment before he replies, voice still hushed, 'Word of advice? It's actually easier if you keep moving.'


Tonight and the Rest of my Life :: Nina Gordon
Gleaming in the dark sea
I'm as light as air
Floating there breathlessly
When the dream dissolves
I open up my eyes; I realize
That everything is shoreless sea
Weightlessness is passing over me

I feel so light
This is all I wanna feel tonight
I feel so light
Tonight and the rest of my life


'Feel that?' Jack's voice is husky with a need for sleep and suppressed emotion and maybe a little bit too much wine.

'Yes,' Martha whispers, hoarsely, shutting her eyes and breathing in deeply.

They're down in the Hub, lying on top of the lift that goes up to the Plas, heads angled toward each other and nearly touching, legs hanging over the edges. Silence beats, stretches, quivers between them, until finally she drops her head to the side to look at his profile. 'Do you ever reckon we're mad for- for-?' she asks, voice still hushed and trailing off in the middle of words she's not sure she wants to say.

Jack chuckles, tilting his head to return her gaze. 'For loving him?' he finishes, gently.

She nods, murmuring, 'About sums it up.'

'I'm not sure I mind; do you?'

'Not when it feels like this,' she replies, and there are echoes of a whole universe in her voice.

(There's really no reason for her to elaborate, because the universe bringing her voice to life is merely one of many that reverberate inside the walls of the wooden box that once rested on the stone beneath them, and the residue of it is suspending them again inside of that, suspending them amongst galaxies and nebulae, hanging them like the stars they've both travelled amongst, erasing the definitions of past, present, future; and they're running, runningrunning from nevers and impossibilities and sharply drawn lines meant to box them in.)

They reach for each other subconsciously and slowly, hands finally meeting between them, fingers curling around one another's and holding on tightly, an unspoken hope they can hold each other up, suspended in memories and outside of time.


My Secret :: Anna Ternheim
Today must have been
One of the strangest days
Some would say that you won't find
Love that way
The best days are not planned
By common sense
By lack of time
You just happen to be
Where everything feels fine
It's a new secret I have found


When the job offer had first come from UNIT, Martha had been incredibly thrilled, in a detached sort of manner. UNIT was a name that had only existed in the periphery of her mind before meeting the Doctor, a name brought up more frequently in recent years (what with the spaceship crashing into Big Ben, and then the events that following Christmas), and one that had eventually worked itself into her everyday vocabulary as she became a part of the grander scheme that was saving the world from the Master.

She pushes thoughts of the offer aside as she immerses herself in the remnants of her old life, uncertain of what her final decision will be. The offer is contingent on passing her exams, but there's little doubt in her mind that she will, in spite of what she vocalises. What she's not certain of is whether she wants to abandon all the plans she'd had before that day on the moon. Nothing is ever set in stone: Martha's gone her entire life knowing that. But she's also gone through her life with a self-awareness that enabled her to see her life stretching out before her in vague pictures and scenes.

Martha Jones was born to be a doctor. She knows this with every fibre of her being, knows it in the way she knows she has to keep breathing in order to live: finding and loving (and as much as possible, healing) broken things is a reflex to her just as much as all the other things her body does without her having to think them through.

'I'd always pictured you as the head doctor of Royal Hope or the like,' her mother comments when Martha broaches the subject of accepting the offer from UNIT shortly after she passes her exams. Martha can tell from the slight lift of her eyebrows and the very slightest edge of tension in her voice that her mother's being very cautious to not sound disapproving, and she worries her lip, unsure of how to respond. Because the truth is, Martha had envisioned her life going the same way, seen herself becoming like a kinder version of Mr Stoker, with a spouse and children to return home to at the end of long days at work, caring for patients and family and students, spending all her life dedicated to protecting and caring for those who needed her.

And this wouldn't be so very different, surely. The number of people unwittingly relying on her care of them would increase by a huge amount, but she'd saved the whole world once, and this certainly wouldn't be any more trying than that (would it? She silences the questions with recitations of bones, just as she had when she was still studying.).

She puts off the final decision as long as she can without annoying UNIT very badly, and even later, she's not entirely sure she would have accepted if they'd demanded an answer over the phone. Instead, they'd asked her to come in, to get a feel for where she'd be working and who she'd be working with, and as she walks in, something within her sparks in a way it hasn't since she closed the door of the TARDIS behind her and walked back into her old life. It's heady and terrifying and healing all at once, and she's hardly aware of accepting the offer even as she's signing the contract.

'Are you certain it's what you absolutely want?' Tish asks, cautiously, when Martha tells her later.

Martha smiles, softly. 'Not really.'

Tish opens her mouth to reply, and Martha knows how odd it must seem to her sister, to see her unsure of herself and her career choices. 'It just feels right though, for the moment,' Martha continues, before Tish can say anything. 'Do you know what I mean?'

'I do,' Tish replies, smiling bemusedly. 'I just never thought I'd hear you saying anything like it.'


If the World Ends :: Guillemots
If the world ends
I hope you're here with me
I think we could laugh just enough
To not die in pain
If the world ends
It won't finish you
You're not the type they can capture
You flit like a flycatcher
They can't pin you down
Can't pin you down


The first time she tries to call the Doctor, it goes through to her old voicemail. He hasn't changed the message, of course, and the oddness of listening to a greeting from herself means it takes a moment before she hangs up.

It's beyond late (in London, at any rate), but she can't sleep, and she spends several minutes turning her mobile over in her hand before she punches in a different number on her speed dial.

Jack picks up after the third ring. 'Hi gorgeous.'

His tone is normal, and she knows him well enough to know he hardly sleeps anyway, but she can't help but apologise. 'I'm sorry. I know it's late, and you're probably busy anyway, but I just-'

'You're not nervous, surely,' he cuts in, teasingly.

She laughs shortly. 'Oh, not at all. That's why I'm calmly sleeping instead of making late-night phone calls to you and the Doctor.'

There's a pause; then Jack says, 'Martha,' warm and gentle, and it wraps around her the way she knows his arms would if they were having this conversation in person rather than over telephones.

'He didn't answer,' she says, softly. 'Probably lost the mobile anyway.'

'Hey,' Jacks voice grows more intense. 'You know as well as I do that if he wasn't wrapped up in running for his life from some royalty he's managed to offend, or chatting up T.S. Eliot, or chasing after some alien creeps, or righting some timeline somewhere, he probably couldn't dig that mobile out of his pocket in time to answer.'

Martha smiles slightly. 'He does carry about an obscene amount of stuff in those pockets of his.' She pauses, then, giggling slightly, she adds, 'When we got stuck in 1969, and this was without the TARDIS mind you, I managed to lose my shoes in the process, and he managed to produce a new pair for me. From his pockets. They were rather fashionable too.'

'That's Time Lord technology for you,' Jack replies, chuckling.

'Bigger on the inside,' Martha adds, fondly, laughing along with him.

There's silence after their laughter dies, and it's not uncomfortable, but Martha's in a turmoil of self-doubt and questions, and in spite of the fact that she'd rather keep it to herself than burden Jack (or anyone else) with it, she can't help but ask, 'Jack? What if- what if I'm rubbish at this?'

'You won't be.' His statement is infused with a confidence she wishes she felt, but the protest in her head won't form itself into words she can speak. 'Listen,' Jack continues, 'UNIT know what they're doing. And you're Martha Jones. No amount of what ifs can change-'

'What if I'm only doing this because I made the wrong decision, staying here?' she cuts in, suddenly. Her voice breaks on the last word, and she bites her lip, hard, in an effort to maintain her composure. She'd never voiced that fear – never allowed herself to voice that fear – to anyone, not even herself. 'Oh god, Jack,' she whispers.

'Martha,' he says, soothingly. 'Sweetheart, don't do this to yourself.'

'I hadn't,' she replies, still whispering. 'But I- I miss him, and I- just-'

'Of course you do. That doesn't mean that's the only reason, or even the primary reason you accepted the job.'

'But-'

'No buts.' Jack's voice is firm without being harsh. 'You're qualified for this.' He's silent for a moment, and when he begins speaking again, his voice is softer, but no less firm. 'Everything changed for you when you met the Doctor. All of us, every one of us who has ever travelled with him, we're all changed because of it. You can't look at the universe, at life, in the same way: and it's messy and it's ugly, and it hurts like hell a lot of the time, but there's a beauty in it too.' Jack pauses again. 'And it's easier to see that beauty when he's there with you.'

Martha's not entirely sure what to say, or whether she should say anything at all, so she simply whispers, ' I know.'

'Sweetheart, what it comes down to is that none of us can stay with him forever. And taking this job means you'll be closer to things that remind you of him more than you would be if you'd continued on the way you'd planned before you met him. But there's nothing wrong with letting our time with him shape the rest of our lives. What would be the point, otherwise? Do you understand what I'm saying?'

'Yes,' she replies, slowly, after a moment. 'Yes, I do.'


So the Sun Goes Down & the World Starts Dancing :: The Magnetic Fields
Well I don't know why
But I just feel like dancing
I can't imagine why
But I feel like dancing
And there is nothing in this world
That I'd like better
Than a twirl across your rickety old floor

Maybe it's you
You know your eyes are awful blue
Maybe it's more
Maybe you're all I've ever waited for
After all the endless nights
When I wished I could still cry


The second time she tries to call the Doctor, he picks up after the first ring. 'You all right?' His voice comes through the line edged with concern, and she smiles at that, nodding a bit before she realises he can't see her.

'I am,' she says. 'And you?'

'Oh, fine, splendid. You know. Just a bit- ah- busy when you called before.'

'A bit busy?!' Martha hears a voice echo in the background. 'Running from imminent death, we were, and your mobile goes!'

Martha giggles a bit as the Doctor murmurs shushing noises, ignoring the slight stab of jealousy that runs through her. 'Who's that then?' she asks, very deliberately infusing her voice with a casual note.

'Who's what- oh, oh, that's Donna. Quite nice, really; met her before I met you, actually; you'd like her.'

'Is that Martha?' the muffled voice inquires, and Martha can perfectly envision the consternation written on the Doctor's face as he replies, 'No, it's one of the hundreds of other people who are always ringing me on this mobile. Haven't you seen me, passing out the number to everyone we meet?'

Martha laughs aloud at this, and the Doctor returns his attention to her, saying, 'A bit thick, but lovely girl, really- OW! I'm trying to have a conversation here, you kn- OW! and you're going to bruise all the bananas, and then where will we be?!' Donna's laughing in the background, and Martha grins happily, suddenly and genuinely glad to know he's not travelling alone again.

'You should both come visit me,' Martha cuts in. 'At my new job.'

'Have you passed your exams then?' the Doctor says, returning his attention to her. 'Well done, well done! Which hospital are you at?'

'I'm not at a hospital, actually,' she says, still grinning. 'Got a better offer.'

'Please tell me it wasn't from Jack; the two of you are likely to blow up Cardiff. Or do something actually terrible.' The Doctor's tone is teasing now, and Martha can picture him in her mind, leaning with back against the console, hand in one pocket of his coat, nearly-insane grin on his face.

'That's what you'd do,' Martha retorts with a laugh. 'And then you and Cardiff would be lucky to have Torchwood about.'

'So we would,' he replies, voice still warm with a smile. There's a pause, then what sounds like a scuffle and a muffled, hushed argument on his end, and then Martha can hear Donna's voice clearly, saying, 'If you don't tell her, I will!'

'Tell me what?' Martha straightens in her seat, intrigued.

'Oh. Oh, just- I just- you know, wanted to tell you that, um-' he stumbles over the words, then stops, and she can hear him inhale sharply. Finally, he asks quietly, almost intensely, 'Where are you? When are you?'

The questions are weighed down with the words he'd been trying to say, and Martha is more than an expert at reading between lines. She closes her eyes and slumps a bit in her seat, resting her head on the back of her chair. She can't suppress an entirely contented smile as she says, quietly, 'I've missed you too, Doctor.'


-----
-Screencaps for cover art are from Adventures in Time & Space.

-I'm more than willing to upload things to different servers; just let me know. (It may take me a bit to get back to you, but it's really no problem.)

-Comments and con-crit are equally appreciated and adored. ♥
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