Beta: The wonderful 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 want to thank everyone that has followed this story. It's been a ride!
One night of rest turned into three days of lounging around the TARDIS. Jack was underneath the console, his legs barely visible below the coils of wires and circuits. Martha was settled on the couch with several textbooks about alien anatomy strewn around her. The Doctor was between them, his coat utilized as a makeshift blanket, his finger idly circling the rim of a teacup.
“So the tree-people of Cheem are made entirely of wood?” Martha asked.
“Yep.” The Doctor lifted his head, smiling briefly. “Lovely people too. You’d like the Forest of Cheem.”
“Maybe we’ll go there sometime,” Martha said, flipping to the next page.
“Yeah.” He lowered his gaze. “Maybe.”
“One TARDIS tune-up complete,” Jack announced as he slid out from underneath the control panel and wiped his hands on his jeans. The TARDIS gave a contented wheeze in response.
“I could have helped you,” the Doctor stated.
“I wanted a little one of one time with the lady,” Jack replied with a wink.
“Stop flirting with my ship, Captain.”
Jack grinned and ran his fingers along one of the struts. “You know she likes it. Anyway, she deserves a little extra attention.”
“You’re spoiling her,” Martha said with a laugh. “You realize she’s going to expect the same treatment out of you, Doctor - high expectations and all.”
They smiled at each other for several seconds before silence lingered in the air.
As much as he didn’t want to say it, Jack knew it was time to go back. He wanted to stay, but knew he had a responsibility to his team and to Earth. “Doctor, it’s time I headed home.”
Martha’s fingers tightened around the book she was holding before closing her eyes and forcing two deep breathes into her lungs. Setting her book aside, she rose from the couch. “Yeah, I should be getting back to the hospital. I’m sure I’ve got some questions to answer.”
“Right.” The Doctor clapped his hands together once, standing and moving to the controls. Jack was standing at his side, their shoulders barely touching as the Doctor keyed in the coordinates. “London, approximately thirty minutes after we left.”
As soon as the TARDIS rematerialized, the Doctor leaned against the metal railing and motioned to the door. “Home sweet home.”
“Come here, you,” Martha stated as she pulled him away from the railing and wrapped her arms tightly around him. “Don’t forget what I said, you hear? I don’t regret it, not for a minute.”
He returned her embrace, his long fingers curling around the fabric of her shirt. “Thank you.”
The TARDIS door opened. “Um, Doctor?”
The Doctor lifted his chin from Martha’s shoulder. “What Jack?”
“Since when is London a frozen tundra?” Jack asked as he pushed the door back so the terrain was clearly visible. The sounds of howling winds echoed through the TARDIS as snow flurries blew past the door.
“What?” His jaw dropped slightly. “You saw me key in the coordinates! There’s no reason why –“ He paused, his eyes moving from the icy planet to the TARDIS interior. “Unless someone else opted to change our plans.”
The Doctor marched purposefully towards the console, crossing his arms across his chest and glaring at the time rotor. “Now you listen here, you’ve got to bring them back.”
Jack closed the door, the Doctor’s one-way conversation drawing his interest, and walked over to stand beside Martha.
“Don’t try to look innocent. I know it was you,” the Doctor continued. “Yes, I understand that, but we can’t hold anyone here against –“ He paused, his eyes widening, before he dropped one hand to the edge of the control panel. “We’ll be fine,” he whispered, his fingers dancing across the surface. “You don’t have to worry about that. I’m better, I promise.”
“We’ll come back and visit,” Martha promised. She and Jack moved to flank the Doctor on both sides.
“And you can bring him back to see us –“ Jack paused to give the Doctor a pointed look – “often.”
“Oi! I’ll come back!”
“Consider this an insurance policy,” Jack returned. “The TARDIS can make sure you keep good on your word.”
“I resent that,” that Doctor replied with a sniff.
Martha smiled. “Tough.”
“So can we take them home now?” the Doctor asked. The TARDIS wheezed, and the Doctor released the lever.
Jack returned to the door, peaked outside and nodded. “Good girl.”
With his hands jammed in his pockets, the Doctor followed them out and leaned in the doorway.
“I mean that,” Jack reaffirmed. “Don’t be a stranger and no more half-dead TARDIS escapades, got me?”
The sarcastic reply died on his lips when he noticed the serious expression in Jack’s eyes. “Yes, and thank you, Jack. Both of you. I don’t know what I would have done -”
“You’ve still got us,” Martha interjected. “That’s never going to change.”
The Doctor smiled, drawing them against his body. The embrace lingered, the warmth soothing away any lasting weariness.
“See you around, Doc’,” Jack stated as he stepped away.
“Until next time, Doctor,” Martha agreed.
The Doctor nodded and watched them until they disappeared around the corner onto the busy street. It was a goodbye filled with a promise that he intended to keep. He’d be back.
He closed the door of the TARDIS and walked to the console to begin the dematerialization sequence. An envelope caught his eye, and he reached for it, noting the royal seal of Emballir.
My dearest Doctor,
I cannot thank you enough for what you’ve done for my people, for me. You’ve reminded me of one thing I seem to have forgotten: hope. Thank you for giving me something to believe in.
Take care of yourself, Doctor, and let those friends of yours help. You’re not infallible, but remember that there those that love you anyway. No one expects perfection, even from you, my old friend.
I would ask that you visit me again, but I already know your answer. Your adventures on this planet are complete, but should you ever need a friendly ear or a glass of mirsux’s milk, you know where to come.
His eyes scanned the letter for the fourth time before folding it carefully and slipping it inside his coat pocket.
“We’re going to be all right, old friend,” the Doctor said aloud, causing the TARDIS to hum softly. He pressed several buttons, moving around the console slowly.
His quiet reverie was broken by the TARDIS splintering as a ship’s bow breached the exterior wall.
“What?” the Doctor cried as he tried to regain his footing. His fingers grasped a life preserver with the word ‘Titanic’ printed in black lettering on the other side. “What!?”