Fandom: Doctor Who
Beta: The lovely starxd_sparrow
Rating: PG-13 for angst
Disclaimer: I own nothing related to Doctor Who. What a pity!
Characters: Tenth Doctor, Jack, Martha, and various others of my own creation
Spoilers: Vague discussion of all three seasons of the new Doctor Who
Summary: After the Last of the Time Lords, the Doctor isn’t coping well and decides he’s finished with…well, basically everything. Martha and Jack encountered a strange alien which has taken up residence in a child.
A/N: I'm happy to report that the next chapter is almost finished. This story will be drawing to a close soon. Also, a huge thank you to vail_kagami for her encouragement and prodding.
“He’s exhausted,” Marista surmised after the group had stared at the sleeping Doctor for several minutes.
“He’s been through a lot lately,” Jack stated, rubbing the back of his neck. It was the understatement of the year, but Martha decided not to comment. It was a personal matter anyway.
“You’re welcome to stay while he recovers,” Marista offered. “I can arrange for –“
“We should get him back to his ship,” Martha interjected. “I have a feeling that he’ll heal faster there.” Jack nodded in agreement.
“Ah, his legendary TARDIS,” Marista mused. Her gaze never left the Doctor as her lips lifted to form a faint smile. “My guards will provide transport back to your ship. It’s too far to carry him.”
Jack would have carried the Doctor without complaint, but he wasn’t going to turn down free transportation. “Thank you.”
Suwa pointed to the mirsux who was sleepily blinking three pairs of eyes and seemed to mewl in contentment. “We need to move him before the mirsux is fully awake.”
The queen opted not to wake the Doctor to say her goodbyes. Instead she provided Jack with a letter sealed in an envelope adorned with the regal seal. She made Jack and Martha promise to visit her planet again and to take care of the Doctor.
“How long do you think he’ll sleep?” Martha asked after she and Jack got the sleeping Doctor aboard the TARDIS and comfortably settled in bed.
“He didn’t budge when we moved him. The drive back to the TARDIS wasn’t what I’d call smooth either. I’d say he’ll be dead to the universe for awhile,” Jack surmised quietly. “The longer he sleeps the better.” Martha followed him out of the room leaving the door cracked in case the Doctor woke and needed them.
“So what now?” she asked.
“We wait. Again.” For being people of action, they were doing a lot of sitting around.
Jack tried to remember the last time they’d eaten. Traveling with the Doctor tended to do that to a person. Things like eating, sleeping, and generally taking care of yourself fell by the wayside. It seemed like there was always something more important to do.
“Starving,” Jack confirmed.
Martha made sandwiches while Jack prepared coffee and tea. They worked in amiable silence, each savoring the brief reprieve from any imminent disaster.
“How do we know if he’s really better?” Martha asked after swallowing a mouthful of turkey. “He wasn’t in good shape before the parasite.”
“It’s not like he can just avoid what’s happened.”
Martha stared at him through wide eyes. “You’ve met the Doctor, right? Arrogant, lanky fellow that talks fast, and oddly enough, never talks about anything personal? We could lop off his arm, and he’d say he was fine.”
Jack chuckled and stole Martha’s pickle spear off her plate. “It’s only a flesh wound.”
“Exactly,” Martha laughed.
Despite their lighthearted banter, Jack’s expression grew serious. “That parasite forced him to revisit events in his life that he buried a long time ago. With everything that’s happened in the last two years, he’s going to have to talk about it.”
“And just how are we going to manage that?” Martha asked after grabbing Jack’s coffee when he wasn’t looking.
“Well, we both know he’s not fine. He hasn’t been okay for a long time. He’s not going to jump up and pretend that nothing happened.”
“I hope you’re right, Jack.”
Jack smiled at her, and surprisingly enough, she found it reassuring.
“I don’t know what we would have done without – Wait? What’s that sound?” Martha asked as grabbed the table to steady herself.
“It’s the damn TARDIS dematerializing!” Jack yelled as he bolted up and ran out of the kitchen.
“So much for sleeping it off,” Martha muttered. She jogged after Jack and found the Doctor standing behind the control panel smiling maniacally in their direction. The dark circles underneath his eyes were in staunch contrast to the white, toothy grin.
The Doctor clapped his hands together once. “Right, we’re back in London. Exactly ten minutes after we left. Sometimes my piloting skills amaze even -”
“Doctor,” Jack interjected. The Doctor continued rambling despite Jack’s interruption. “Doctor!”
“What? I’ll take you to Cardiff to save you the drive,” the Doctor replied. “Didn’t expect you to walk, after all. The traffic is atrocious this time of day.”
“Doctor, we didn’t expect to go home so –“
The Doctor raised his hand impatiently. “You both have helped enough. You’ve got people waiting on you. I’ve taken enough of your time.” There were vast implications to that statement, and those implications were awash with self-loathing and recrimination.
Martha glanced at Jack – a silent plea for him to do something. “You know, Doctor, Martha and I could use some rest before going back to face the world.” It was a stab in the dark, but it would buy them more time. If they were going, they certainly weren’t going quietly.
“All the more reason to leave now,” the Doctor bluntly replied.
Martha resisted the urge to growl. “I always slept better on the TARDIS.”
“Best sleep I ever had,” Jack agreed. They weren’t going to lose this fight.
The Doctor kept staring at the door while nervously scratching behind his ear. He wanted them to leave, and he wasn’t being subtle even though he hadn’t resorted to being outright rude.
“What’s one more day, Doctor? She does travel in time,” Jack said with a wink. Martha yawned and rubbed her eyes. It wasn’t for show. In actuality, Jack wasn’t lying. They were all exhausted. Despite the Doctor’s hyperactive energy, he was usually acutely aware of his companions’ physical needs. They were, after all, mere humans.
The Time Lord sighed in defeat, his hands rekeying new coordinates. The dematerialization sequence was set.
“Where are we going?” Martha asked curiously.
“To bed,” the Doctor ordered as he stepped away from the controls and jerked his thumb towards the corridor. Jack glanced at Martha. They really should have seen that coming. “We’re in the Vortex. Out of time, so to speak. Perfect place for you two to rest.” He nodded once and bent down to remove a panel from underneath the console. “Good night then.”
Jack rolled his eyes. Fine time to do some repairs. “Right. Come on, Martha.” He grabbed the Doctor’s arm as he walked past. Martha’s eyebrows raised in interest as she followed behind.
“What? What are you doing? Jack, I don’t have time –“ The Doctor tried to yank his arm out of Jack’s firm grasp, but his hand didn’t budge.
“After all the shit we’ve been through, a night of sleep would do us all some good,” Jack explained without lightening his grip. He knew the Doctor would leg it across the TARDIS the second he let go. The frazzled Time Lord might be brilliant, but he was also predictable.
“The three of us in the same bed, Jack?” the Doctor replied with a sniff. “That’s obvious even for you. Anyway, you have to buy me a drink first.”
“Sleep, Doctor,” Jack clarified. “Just sleep. Do you remember how to do that, don’t you?”
“What do you think I’ve been doing for the last five hours?” the Doctor questioned irritably as Jack shoved him forward, and Martha closed the door behind them.
“It’s not going to kill you to sleep a few more hours. Between you and me, you’re hardly looking your best these days,” Jack stated as he shrugged out of his coat. It wasn’t by accident that the Captain had conveniently placed himself in front of the only exit.
“Please, Doctor,” Martha pleaded quietly. “Just once, it’d be nice to go to sleep knowing that we’re all okay.” The Doctor paused to study his two companions from behind weary brown eyes. How had he failed to notice the haunted shadows in Martha’s eyes? After everything they’d been through, everything they’d done for him, he could do this. He could give her one night of peace. Even if it meant he’d be alone with his thoughts once more, unable to hide behind mind-numbing activities. Even if it meant facing everything he was trying so desperately to forget – yes, he could do this.
The Doctor turned so he was facing away from his friends. He removed his coat, folding it with careful precision and placed it on a chair. Sitting on the edge of the bed, he carefully untied his trainers. Each movement was calculated as if the Doctor was contemplating each article of clothing.
“Thank you,” Martha murmured after the Doctor leaned against the pillows.
The Doctor stared straight ahead. “I owe you so much more.”
“Still, might be nice to have a night of peaceful sleep,” she replied before snuggling beneath the blanket. “It’s been awhile.”
“Nightmares?” Jack asked sympathetically. He was lying on his side with his back against the wall. His fingers were casually resting on the Doctor’s arm.
Martha nodded. “That year – well, you know. I doubt the two of you are sleeping well either.” Jack didn’t comment which was a better answer than any spoken reply could have been.
“It takes time,” Jack said without much conviction.
“Yeah, it’ll get better. I know it will,” Martha declared with more hope than she was feeling.
The Doctor, despite remaining quiet, had put his arms around his companions. He hoped it was a gesture they found soothing, that his touch still brought some measure of comfort.
His nimble fingers gently caressed their temples. “Sleep now. No dreams tonight.”
They collapsed against him, snoring contently, and the Doctor slid out from beneath the covers. When he shifted off the bed, Martha rolled against Jack and his arm slid protectively around her waist. The Doctor marveled at their individual beauty. So strong and noble. So brave and kind.
No nightmares. That was something he could do.
“I’m sorry,” the Doctor murmured as he cast a final glance at the sleeping pair. “I’m so sorry.”
The TARDIS dimmed the lights as he walked down the corridor alone.