for [livejournal.com profile] charloft: Under the tree

Jan. 7th, 2009 08:47 pm
martha_jones: ([tom] side by side)
[personal profile] martha_jones
It's been 155 days since the Daleks stole Earth.

Tom remembers that day well. He remembers the cold, sunny day in Southern Africa suddenly plunged into terrifying darkness. He remembers holding frightened children and telling them everything would be all right. He remembers telling them a story Martha told him once, about a man who could turn back time and bring the world back to right. He'd come, Tom promised the children, the Doctor would come and bring the stars back.

He remembers sitting around a makeshift fire, trying to get some sort of signal to New York. He remembers praying---for the first time in how many years now?---that Martha was all right. She had to be all right.

+~

The buildings shook, patients screamed, bedpans toppled over and catheters fell out as the Earth was put back to right. Just like he said it would. Tom remembers that even as they pulled themselves from the ground, the people around him cheered for the sunshine.

He's on the eighteenth plane to leave. He should've been much, much later, but he refuses to stay, not when he's always put everyone else first before this. It takes a week, but he gets home, back to London. He doesn't stop off at his mother's house, he rushes right to Martha's. Her phone is still going straight to voicemail, and if he can't get ahold of her---

He darts up the stairs and throws open the door and almost walks directly into him. It's the man Tom's seen in pictures Martha's shoved into boxes and under cabinets, pretending he doesn't exist anymore.

"The Doctor?" Tom asks.

"No." He, he being the man who looks like the Doctor, looks startled to see him. He's in a blue suit with red trainers and he's standing in the doorway, more than a bit dumbfounded.

"Tom!" Martha darts to the door and grins. He loves that smile of hers, the one that's a little surprised but thoroughly pleased. It melts away quickly and turns into something like embarrassment.

"This is…a friend of mine." She takes Tom's arm and leads him up to the bedroom---sorry, her bedroom, as the office now has its own futon, being his bedroom.

This is when Tom learns that the day Earth was returned to orbit, the Doctor made a choice and left Martha with him, this half-human clone without a job, home, or anything else.

"He's got nowhere to go," Martha tells him. "He'll stay here a few weeks, get himself together, and be off. Nothing's different."

He believes her because he's never had any reason not to believe her.

He goes back downstairs and shakes the hand of this nameless man, the one who will be Martha's flatmate for a while. Tom had thought he'd sweep in, take her into his arms, and forget about the world falling apart. Now, standing there in muddy red trainers, is a personification of everything that happened to the world.

+~

I love you. –M

Such a strange thing, a random text message while she's in Russia with her flatmate/coworker/whatever the nameless bloke who isn't the Doctor is. She said later it was something she realized during an argument with the nameless man, but Tom can't imagine what that's supposed to mean.

But he returns the sentiment, of course. Because he does love her. Because he believes her when she tells him she loves him.

He believes her because he's never had any reason not to believe her.

+~

This time when Tom re-arrives in London, there is no Nameless man (as Martha and Tom have secretly taken to calling her flatmate) waiting for him at the door. He's out for the evening, doing something that Tom couldn't care less about, and the flat belongs to Martha and Tom again.

"He is staying in his room, isn't he? Not bothering you or anything?"

"No, not bothering me, not causing trouble, just being a pain in the arse. Especially at work."

"Sees you more than I do," Tom says.

"Yeah, but he doesn't spend half his life in another country."

"Touche."

She leans over and kisses him gently, slowly. It's a sort of kiss like someone would give if they hadn't kissed someone in forever. He likes kisses like this with Martha. He likes the way she grins at the candles he's lit all over the flat, he likes the way she appreciates the music he's set up.

He likes how such simple, small things are so important to Martha. Her family is wealthy---he knows from the times he's met her parents---but she acts like she's gone without. Maybe she has.

He doesn't like that he nearly trips over one of Nameless's trainers on the way to her bedroom.

"Is it going to stay like this when we're married?" he asks her later, kissing down the scarring on her ribcage. "Sneaking around when he's not around?"

"It's only for a little longer," she murmurs, running her fingers through Tom's hair.

It's always a little longer. One more week. One more week. He's beginning to wonder if she's not happier having someone to spend time with. He used to think, when he first met her, that she was happier alone. It's obvious now how wrong he was.

Or maybe she just genuinely cares for Nameless. The thought makes something burn under his skin. It's something he's never felt around Martha before: jealousy.

But not right now. No, now, he's going to just let go.

Afterwards, they lie together and she curls up on his chest. Tom entwines his fingers with Martha's, watching the way the candlelight dances on her skin. "I was wondering---"

"Hmm?" She sounds sleepy, but Tom's learned she's got hours to go before she'll finally fall asleep.

Tom takes a sip of wine. "Why didn't you come to Africa when that machine thing---"

"Project Indigo?"

"Yeah, that. Why didn't you come to Africa?"

Martha shifts a little uncomfortably and takes a sip of her wine. "Jealous of my mum, now, too?"

He winces. He didn't realize his jealousy was that obvious. It wasn't even that obvious to him. "No. I was just wondering."

"My mum needed me."

"And I didn't?"

Martha shakes her head. "I knew you could handle yourself."

She says things like this sometimes. Like she knows how he could be if things were really and truly bad. She's never seen him in Africa, she doesn't know the work he does, but she seems to think he's so strong.

He believes her, though. He believes her because he's never had any reason not to believe her.

+~

She doesn't sleep well. She never sleeps well.

He's used to holding her in the night, listening to her thrash and cry out. Usually, she calls out the Doctor's name, but lately she's taken to calling out no name at all.

It's the worst when she doesn't, because while Tom knows he isn't what she needs right now, he doesn't know what is.

+~

Tom hates the holidays. He originally planned on spending this year in Africa, too, but with Martha and her family to see on Christmas Day (not to mention his own mother who tells him she wants to see him married before she dies), he opts to stay in London.

Martha gets a little tree and a few gifts appear under it. Two for Tom, one for her mother, then a little one without a name on it. Tom stares at it for a while, then considers how difficult it must be to put a nametag on a gift for someone without a name.

Christmas shopping, for Martha's family, involves spending the most money and looking the best in front of the family. It's a bit weird, but it's how they challenge themselves every year, find something that a) looks good, b) is expensive, and c) is sentimental. It's a big challenge, Tom imagines. He's used to his own family where you got one good gift on the first day of Hannukah and then seven days of crap toys. Even at the age of 34, he still gets at least one crap toy during the season.

Still, he grew up believing that there should be one big, sentimental gift, and a few smaller gifts. So he brings a sapphire necklace back from Africa, the necklace of one of a local tribe's smaller goddesses, and picks up a few gifts from the local stores.

As he's about to leave, he thinks about how hard it is for Martha to sleep and pulls into a bookstore to buy a few meditation CDs for her. He'll bundle that up and give it on the second day, he thinks. After all, why should she wait to have a reasonable sleep schedule?

He turns the corner towards the books on CD and nearly walks into a very familiar man.

Nameless (though Tom's not allowed to call him that anymore). He has that same startled look on his face and if he wasn't clutching to the bundle of items in his arms like they might run away from him, he's sure Nameless would've dropped them.

"Merry Christmas," Tom says.

Nameless nods. "So it is. Happy Hanukkah."

Tom grins, small and tight. It shouldn't be so awkward between them, he thinks, but something about Nameless coming into Martha's life makes things different. Makes him and her different.

"Christmas shopping?" he asks.

"Yep. Just…last minute, you know." Nameless looks over Tom's shoulder at the ever-growing line. "Should really---"

"No, no, right. You'll be at Francine's for Christmas, I assume?"

"Unless I can get out of it." The way Nameless sighs reminds Tom of Leo, and he wonders if Nameless thinks of Francine as a mother-figure. He can't imagine why he would.

Nameless nods again, then scoots around Tom towards the line. He stops, then turns as if to say something, then turns back and rushes to the line.

Odd bloke. He can't really understand why Martha cares so much for him.

Tom sighs, then heads over to the CDs. He picks up a few of the classical jazz meditation, then heads back to the line. Christmas shopping and lines. Always hand in hand.

By the time he gets in line, Nameless is already up to the register. He smiles, wide and disarmingly, at the woman behind the register. She shakes her head and scans in the items. Some amount rings up and he hands her crumpled bills.

"Sorry, love, this isn't enough."

Nameless looks back at Tom, his expression embarrassed. Tom thinks about offering to pay, but Nameless quickly pulls a few items off of the register, dropping them on a display behind him. The woman shakes her head, and he takes off another. By the time he removes enough to pay for his purchases, he's walking away with only two books. Tom tries to look for the items when he gets up to the register, but someone's already put them away.

+~

The two gifts from Nameless are wrapped messily underneath the tree for Martha and she opens them in private, some time after Christmas Eve. She shows him eventually. A leather travel log and an English-Cantonese dictionary.

Tom didn't know she wanted to visit China.

And while she wears that necklace he gave her at special occasions and listens to the meditation tapes every night (they don't help her sleep, but she listens anyway for the first few weeks), they aren't loved like that dictionary and book are. The binding on the dictionary is worn within a month, and he finds her practicing words while she's washing the dishes. She's already sketched travel plans in her journal, calculating price and places.

She has the necklace of a goddess sitting up in a drawer, but she loves the £10 books from her flatmate more.

The night before his flight to Africa, he hears her talking in her sleep. Not yelling, not crying out, just talking.

"Ngo oi ney," she murmurs.

Tom thinks about asking her who she said that to in her dream. He knows she'll tell him she said it to him.

He also knows that, for the first time, he won't believe her.

Muse: Martha Jones
Fandom: Doctor Who
Word Count: 2,036
Based on this post and extra special thanks to your hero, my co-conspirator, [livejournal.com profile] handysparehand!

Date: 2009-01-08 01:56 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] handysparehand.livejournal.com
OHMYGOSH. I told you how much I loved this but I will say it again. I LOVE. LOVE. LOVE. I love the way you portray Tom and just the way you see Martha changing as the piece goes on. I LOVE THIS. Pure and simple. Now I must write a companion piece, because I love.

Date: 2009-01-08 01:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] imnot-hisgirl.livejournal.com
<3<3 YES GO FORTH AND WRITE AND LOVE! <3<3

Date: 2009-01-08 07:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ambitious-woman.livejournal.com
Lovely and real.

OOC

Date: 2009-01-08 12:21 pm (UTC)
ext_145631: (Default)
From: [identity profile] shot-my-shoes.livejournal.com
That's so sweet and so sad.

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