Second Chance

Chapter Nine . . .

Martha stood before a full length mirror propped against one of the screens she had separating her bedroom area from the rest of her apartment. As she gazed at herself once more, she smiled lightly at her appearance. It was simple and casual just as the Doctor had requested when he called to finalize their plans. He still wouldn’t tell her exactly what they were doing but he did say she should dress for an evening of casual yet elegant fun. She felt the peach and black Kimono dress Tish had convinced her to buy a couple of months ago fit the bill. It was a gorgeous little floral print dress with a v-neckline and a- line shape that stopped just above her knees. The floating sleeves added to the fun of it and the bow that tied in the back finished it perfectly. A pair of strappy silver heels and her hair pinned up with chop sticks completed her ensemble.

She nearly laughed at herself as she finally stepped away from her reflection. She wasn’t sure why she was making such a fuss after all they had both agreed this was just two friends hanging out. Yet a part of her wanted to look the best that she could . . . wanted to make sure he was now really seeing her. Martha knew that despite the closure they might have gained the day before with their past there was still the matter of the present which included that kiss and the future which might include her rejoining him on TARDIS. She was still unsure about both and hoped that by night’s end she might be clearer. Her thoughts were finally interrupted by a buzz at her intercom. She smiled again and promptly made her way to the small box by the door.

Depressing the button, she lightheartedly asked, “Yes. Who’s there?”

The Doctor replied, “Martha Jones, your carriage a waits.”

Her smiled brightened as she told him she’d be right down and then proceeded to grab her black clutch before exiting and locking her door. When she stepped out into the temperate New York evening, the Doctor was facing the street so she quietly cleared her throat bringing his full attention to her. The expression she saw on his face as he appraised her appearance told her, her efforts had not been in vain. His mouth stood slightly ajar and his eyes canvassed her entire frame before he finally found himself and gave her that familiar, dashing grin, “Well, Dr. Jones, don’t you just look . . .”

He paused as if trying to find the right adjective which afforded Martha the chance to playfully finish for him, “Don’t I just?”

His smile brightened, “Oh, yes.”

“You’re looking quite dapper yourself,” she offered as she glanced over his standard apparel of a pinstriped suit, blue this time, white dress shirt and red trainers along with his freshly coifed, yet no less unruly, mane.

He smartly returned, “Well I do try.” She just shook her head as his gaze continued to assess her.

The Doctor finally broke the spell by pulling something from his inside pocket. Martha was quite surprised to see a single white flower suspended before her. She looked at it and then back to him. His smile never wavered as he answered her unasked question, “Oriental lily.”

Her brow immediately rose in amazement, “But how did you know?”

She gestured to her outfit. The Doctor quickly replied, “I didn’t. I just saw this flower on my way here and it made me think of you.”

Martha couldn’t help but blush a bit at his words, “Uncanny then.”

He only nodded this time as he handed the pure white lily to her. Martha sniffed the bloom while watching him watching her. She still was having a hard time wrapping her mind around him being here with her like this. There was always a tension between them when they traveled together. An elephant in the room but now that it had dissipated, it felt like the possibilities were wide open. Yet there was still a significant part of her that was too afraid to hope that he was here because of her and not just because he was longing for something familiar. Martha was just not sure she was willing to risk her sanity or self- esteem again for this Time Lord. So with a more reserved smile, Martha finally decided to break his inspection with the obvious question, “So are you ready to tell me what we’re up to tonight?”

His trance momentarily broken, he smiled again, “Like I said your carriage a waits.”

He then nodded just down the way to the park where a line of horse and carriages were parked. Martha now stood wide eyed looking at the scene. She had watched a few of these carriage rides from her apartment, seen the happy couples snuggling in together while taking in the sights but never thought she’d be in one herself let alone with the Doctor at her side. She looked back over at him and caught his gaze, “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

He gave her that trademark, manic grin as he innocuously replied, “What?”

Martha shook her head, “I can honestly say this is the last thing I expected.”

“Why? It is a well- known fact that a carriage ride is the best way to see Central Park,” he retorted with a slight frown in his brow. He had expected surprise at his choice of activity but not at the gesture, especially after their talk the day before. The Doctor felt sure that she had let her guard down after he had finally come clean about Rose. He thought it had been cathartic for both of them but it appeared Martha still wasn’t completely convinced that he was sincere about wanting to change their previous relationship. Well, he thought, he’d just have to work on that.

Martha, for her part, only nodded at his response. She could sense he was less than pleased with her reaction but he’d been giving her mixed signals since the day they met. There was no way she was about to allow herself to get carried away again. A carriage ride can be just a carriage ride. She decided not to allow ambiguity to rule them once again and pressed the issue, “It will be a bit intimate.”

He gave her a searching glance before pointedly firing back, “Which is exactly the point . . .” He paused at her arched eyebrow and softened his features before continuing, “As the evening is about us getting reacquainted properly while seeing one of the most famous cities in the world.”

Martha sighed inwardly. Leave it to the Doctor to remain elusively vague. As he appeared to study her again, she decided to just leave it for now. It made no sense to ruin the evening before it even began.

“In that case, what are we waiting for?” she offered with a bit more enthusiasm than she actually felt at the moment.

The Doctor’s face, however, brightened at her attempt and he held out his arm to her, “Not a thing, Dr. Jones.”

She easily slid her arm through his and allowed him to guide her the short distance to the loading area.

“After you,” the Doctor gestured sweetly as he helped Martha up into the carriage. Their transport was a 1900’s throwback carriage with two pristine white steeds to pull it along. Martha lightly smiled to herself. Sitting in a horse drawn carriage in the middle of New York City was the last thing she thought she’d be doing when she arrived. This had been intended as a trip to relax and heal. She’d come there with the goal to let go of her past, reinvent herself and maybe rediscover her place in this world. But as usual, her plans never seemed to pan out the way she hoped. Her past had tracked her down like a blood hound and now sat next to her trying to convince her that what had happened then was no reflection on the now. As much as she would love to believe that notion and embrace it, she had seen too much to not remain somewhat guarded. Yet being there now, with the Doctor, was causing her consternation to fade, if only slightly. He was being so sweet and charming causing her to let her guard down more and more. Her smile shifted to him as he finally attempted to get himself situated in what, turned out to be as cozy a seating area as Martha had imagined. It took him a moment to arrange his gangly frame next to her with his arm finally resting on the seat behind her. Once he was situated, she caught his eye and more sincerely whispered, “Thank you.

He returned her glow and gave a wink as he replied, “Oh, Martha Jones, you haven’t seen anything yet.”

The carriage soon bucked forward and the pair was off on their New York adventure. Martha began to look about with a keen interest as the carriage began its voyage into the park. The Doctor, however, had his eyes planted firmly on her. He could honestly admit that he missed this feeling. Observing the quiet awe and inward reflection of Martha as she took in new experiences had always impressed him. He enjoyed his time with Donna without question but whereas Donna was always so boisterous and blunt, Martha was more thoughtful, taking everything in before she asked strong questions and made quick observations. Her inquisitiveness and willingness to take new experiences in stride set her apart in his mind. It was her thirst for knowledge and her readiness to tackle new challenges that first made him take notice of her. The fact that she didn’t bust him that day she examined him in the hospital or when she kept her head while everyone around her was falling apart on the moon just proved to him how special she truly was. Fast forward to the present and now he had the chance to show her that he had always known just that.

Martha caught him gazing at her with a small smile on his face and nudged him lightly, “What’s that smile about?”

He met her gaze and softly replied, “I was just thinking how glad I am to be here with you.”

Martha smiled but did not respond. It was still all too peculiar to her at the moment. The Doctor being so open was what she had longed for when they had traveled together but now that it seemed to be happening, she was unsure if she could trust it.

As their carriage leisurely made its way through the sizeable park, Martha took in the sights in quiet reverence while the Doctor, as usual, added information about each sight they passed. Their journey took them around an ice skating rink, a secluded pond, offered them a glimpse of the Central Park zoo and a turn of the century carousel before the ride entered the heart of the park. The sun was preparing to set as their carriage began to make a loop around the lake and the Bethesda Fountain. It was at this point that Martha began to get a better sense of where things stood as far as the Doctor is concerned. She stared, enthralled by the sight of the angel that topped the famed fountain as the Doctor prattled on about how it was designed to celebrate the then new water duct that feed both the fountain and the city fresh water. In the midst of his discourse, Martha caught a chill and shivered slightly next to him. The Doctor noticed almost immediately and instantly reached for a blanket sitting across from them in the carriage. He easily pulled it over both their lap and then proceeded to move his hand down from the seat to her shoulder and began to gently rub it.

It was a small gesture that surprised her initially but when he warmly smiled at her and inquired, “Better?”

She only nodded and replied, “Much.”

From that moment on she decided to relax and let the evening play out. With the steady clip clop of the horse’s hooves as the only sound between them now, the Doctor and Martha’s carriage now made its way past a pathway of cherry blossoms that perfumed the air delicately. The Doctor maintained his hold on her long after the chill had passed and she noticed that it was now only his thumb gently rubbing her shoulder.

The intimate motion caused her to wonder if he realized he was doing it. And so she decided to test the waters by resting her head lightly upon his shoulder. As she snuggled into his embrace, she could only smile as she heard him sigh with what sounded like contentment at her action. Neither offered words or looks but instead continued to take in the remainder of their ride quietly. When they finally made it to the unloading area, both the Martha and the Doctor had relaxed even more and as they moved away from the line of carriages, hand and hand, Martha glanced up at him and smiled thoughtfully, “That was really amazing. Thank you again.”

He returned her gaze and smile as he replied, “It was my pleasure.” The pair then walked a little further up and the Doctor hailed a cab. He deftly helped her inside before joining her.

“Where to?” the driver asked.

The Doctor raised an eyebrow and gave Martha a smile before replying, “I was thinking dinner?”

Martha returned his smile, “I could eat.”

“Good . . ." He then turned his attention back to the cabbie and said, “The Twenty-One Club, if you please.”

Martha’s eyes widened as the Doctor sat back and the driver began forward. That was one of the most famous and historical clubs in New York. She’d read about its history and even took a virtual tour of the place on-line. It was one of the places she had hoped to get to while there and now here she was on her way with the Doctor by her side.

She looked back over to him and nudged him, “You’re just full of surprises aren’t you?”

He held her gaze and with a more serious smile replied, “You have no idea.” The pair shared a quiet chuckle as their next destination soon came into view.

The Twenty-One Club was like stepping back into 20th century America. The motif was set in the 1930’s and enveloped all who ventured into the establishment. Martha and the Doctor were no exception. It was almost as if they had taken a trip in the TARDIS back to the time period. From their period furniture to the full wall murals of famous New York landmarks in the 1930’s, the place just exuded New York style and sophistication. They were warmly greeted by the host. Who, after checking for and finding the reservation for Dr. Smith, led the Doctor and Martha through the bustling main dining area, up a short flight of stairs to a more intimate dining area, which the host introduced as ‘Upstairs at 21’. Martha was again amazed by both the setting and the gesture. As she looked around in the soft light and observed the many couples, young and old alike, enjoying the lovely and cozy atmosphere, she couldn’t keep a smile from blazing upon her face as she was guided to a table.

The host moved ahead and pulled out a chair for Martha and gently pushed her to the table once she had taken it. When the Doctor joined her, the host stepped away, promising them their waiter would be along promptly. The brief moment alone was spent by both smiling at each other and their surroundings. “So, two for two, then?” he playfully offered.

Martha arched her eyebrows with a soft smirk, “Nothing wrong with your ego.”

“Oi!” was all he was able to get out before their waiter, Steven, joined them. He first offered them a wine list from which the Doctor chose a white chardonnay and also a rundown of the house specials. Once he departed again to let them decided, the duo began to look over the menu in silence before the Doctor looked over at his tablemate and softly asked, “You are having a good time though, aren’t you?”

Martha glanced up and thought she saw a brief instant of uncertainty in his eyes. She though brushed that thought aside and gave him a more reassuring beam as she replied, “I really am.”

His smile grew, “Good . . . it’s great to see you smiling again.”

“It’s good to have something to smile about again,” she returned before looking back to her menu a bit too quickly.

She was really trying to temper her response to all of this. Again past experiences with the Doctor told her that reading too much into any situation with him was bound to have a negative effect. Yet she did want him to know how much she appreciated the effort he was putting into this. For his part the Doctor was also trying to walk that fine line between doing too much and not enough. He knew he had so much to make up for with Martha and planned to do so if he could just convince her to rejoin him in his travels. He knew if he had time with her he could show her not just all the universe had to offer but also what she truly meant to him.

Steven again interrupted their interlude, opening and pouring their wine before asking if they were prepared to order. The pair nodded in unison before Martha ordered first, a romaine and radicchio salad to start with and vegetable risotto as her main dish. The Doctor opted for butternut squash soup and organic grilled chicken breast. Once Steven left with their orders, each took a generous sip of the wine before Martha decided to initiate conversation between the pair. With a soft smile, she good-naturedly began, “So what escapades did you have to abandon in order to join the search party for me?”

He heard the lightheartedness in her tone and decided to follow her lead for now.

“Well, you know me. A little of this and a little of that but nothing too Earth shattering.”

Martha raised an eyebrow as she moved her glass away from her lips and skeptically retorted, “Really?”

His smile grew, “If you really want to know . . .” She took another sip of her wine and urged him on with her eyes.

So the Doctor began in on his tale of meeting a pharaoh in ancient Egypt who meant to keep the Doctor as his personal mystic because he believed he could tell the future because of some of the things he said about events that hadn’t come to pass yet. When the Doctor tried to explain that he wasn’t a mystic but a Time Lord, the pharaoh took that as a challenge to his throne and attempted to have him executed. He paused when Steven returned with their soup and salad and then continued on to recount how after a series of near misses, the Doctor was cornered by the palace guards and nearly out of options when he noticed one of the royal felines lazing around. He reached for it and held over a nearby balcony as if he was going to toss it over. Martha nearly choked on her salad at the vision of the Doctor holding a kitty hostage. He continued on explaining that his actions caused the guards to hesitate just long enough for him to assess his situation. He then looked back at them once more and with a smirk dropped the cat and then flung himself over afterwards. The stunned guards took a moment before following and looking over the railing to see that there had been a canopy there that both the cat and Doctor used to pad their landing.

“Besides, it was rubbish for them to think that I would actually hurt an innocent animal and on top of that everyone knows cats always land on their feet . . . well most of the time,” he concluded with a flourish.

Martha offered a quiet chuckle as she shook her head, “Same old, Doctor.”

He gave her a playful wink as he took a long sip of his drink before his eyes and demeanor became more serious, “So how about you Martha Jones? How has life been treating you?”

The question was expected yet Martha found herself unprepared to answer it. The evening had been so fun and light up until then that she almost hoped that they could leave the heavy stuff for another time. However, she knew the Doctor too well to truly believe he would let things go for too long. She sighed softly and took another sip of wine before beginning, “Doctor . . .” That, though, was as far as she got before Steven returned once more with their main entrees. They each thanked him and quietly turned their attention towards their meals. Martha used the time to try and think of how to answer his inquires and the Doctor used it to figure out how to get her to open up to him like she never had before.

It wasn’t until halfway through their meal that the Doctor decided to steer the conversation back to earlier. Softly, he began, “So I gathered from both Francine and Jack that you’ve been having a hard time of late.” He paused and gazed at her. Her jaw instantly tightened on the fork she‘d just placed back in her mouth. The Doctor, though, pressed forward, “Care to share?” Martha now slowly removed the silverware from her mouth and deliberately chewed the bite of food in her mouth before responding.

“Not too much to share. We both know my mum has a tendency to overreact and well Jack . . . we both know Jack,” she returned with a smirk.

The Doctor wasn’t deterred, “Yes we do but that doesn’t mean that either of them don’t have reason to be concerned. Something happened to make you leave and to alarm them. So talk to me . . . tell me what’s changed.”

A flash of frustration overtook her and she let her fork drop to her plate with a clank, “Why? You never did answer my question the other day. Why does it matter to you so much? In all the time we traveled together you barely took the time to get to know me let alone what was going on in my family life so why now? Is it guilt? Because if this is you feeling guilty don’t. . . I made the choices I made. I chose to follow you through that hospital and down that alleyway and across the universe and back. Those were my choices and I have to deal with the repercussions.”

The Doctor looked away briefly. He knew she was on point with most of what she was saying. He hadn’t taken as keen an interest in Martha and her life when they were together. He was too caught up in their adventuring and trying to forget another time when he had gotten too attached to inquire much about where she came from. He also felt responsible for taking her away from a promising life as an MD. No he didn’t force her to go but he encouraged it and kept enticing her to stay. She deserved so much more than he gave her back then . . . so much more than he was willing to give at the time but now as he sat looking at her across from him, he wanted to know everything. He needed to know what she’d become and why so that he could be the one to help her through whatever she was going through.

He finally refocused on her gaze and sighed quietly as he replied, “You’re right. I didn’t take the time to get to know you like I should have back then but this is now. You and what you’re going through matters, Martha. Not because of guilt but because you matter to me.”

Martha narrowed her eyes at his gentle admission. It was the most sincere thing she could remember him saying to her. Her agitation quickly waned and was replaced by a more apologetic tone, “I’m sorry. We were supposed to be putting all of that behind us and here I am dredging it up again.”

“Don’t apologize, just tell me what’s going on so that we can move past it,” he replied.

She sighed this time, “I don’t know where to begin.”

He reached across the table and covered one of her hands with his and gave it a light squeeze before suggesting, “How about with your mum and dad?”


A light smile played on his lips, “You know. . . how they met, what it was like growing up around them, how they ended up screaming at the top of their lungs at each other on your brother’s birthday.”

She looked at him skeptically, “You don’t want to hear about all of that.”

“Of course I do because all of that helped to make you who you are and I want to know you better,” he answered sincerely.

Martha was now at a loss. His eyes were focused squarely on her waiting for her to begin and she could not find the words because his words were echoing in her ears, you matter to me . . . I want to know you better. She never thought she’d hear either phrase from him yet here they were sitting a fancy restaurant in New York City chatting like she’d always imagined but never believed they would.

She finally allowed a faint smile to come across her face as she said, “Alright, but remember you asked for this.”

He joined her in the smile and nodded for her to begin. And so it was Martha Jones’ turn to go into an extended dialogue about herself. By the time they had finished their meals and shared a dessert, blueberry upside down cake with a lemon sauce, Martha had told him a fairly extensive history of her family finishing with the story of her, Tish and Leo taking Peter Pan to heart and trying to fly via the roof of their family house and a well-placed trampoline that is until Francine caught them.

His smile broadened, “So Dr. Jones, you were already an adventurer at heart.”

She returned his glow, “Honestly, I was going to back out until both Tish and Leo did it and then proceeded to make chicken noises at me.”

He joined her in her chuckle at the memory. It made both his hearts soar to hear her laughter. If he had to venture a guess she hadn’t had much cause to do so recently. Hearing her talking about her family life and the ups and downs they all endured he couldn’t help but feel drawn closer to her. Yes, he knew she was brave, compassionate, and brilliant but to hear of all the things that went into that made him appreciate the woman she was that much more and made him want to keep her in his life as well.

After paying the bill and tipping Steven, handsomely, the pair made their way back out into the New York evening. The city, as always, was still a buzz with energy and while there were plenty of cabs lined up near the restaurant, the Doctor turned to his companion and inquired, “Fancy a walk? I have one more place I’d like to take you before we call it a night.”

She looked up and gave him a long look before nodding, “Lead the way.” He held out his arm and she looped hers through his and the duo set off up 52nd St. in search of one more adventure that night.

The twosome leisurely made their way up 51st street, catching glimpses of numerous shops and people enjoying the evening as well. They passed the Gershwin Theater and the Doctor mentioned some trivia about its namesake, George Gershwin, as they continued their trek. A short while later they stood marveling before the Radio City Music Hall and Rockefeller Plaza. Martha ogled the famous landmarks with complete awe while the Doctor grinned at her reaction.

“This is amazing . . . bloody amazing,” she quietly offered.

The Doctor leaned in closer and softly added, “That’s not all that’s amazing.”

She glanced over at him, surprised, but before she could catch his demeanor he began to move them towards the entryway of the Rockefeller center. As they made their way through the masses inside the lobby, they eventually wound up on an elevator that quickly shot them up the large building. A gust of wind greeted them when the elevator doors reopened. Stepping out into the night air again the Doctor took her by the hand and led her out onto a terrace that offered, by far, the most spectacular view she had seen of the city yet. Before her and all around was an unobstructed view of all of Manhattan. Like a little girl at Christmas time, Martha rushed forward and found an open spot that gave her an unfettered view of Central Park at night. She was enthralled anew at the size of not just the park but of the cityscape and found herself momentarily mesmerized by the view. Her trance, though, was broken by the Doctor speaking softly into her ear, “Let’s say we take in the full effect.”

She glanced over at him with a bright smile, “Alright.”

Martha allowed him to guide her all the way around the deck, taking in the 360 degree view offered by the building. Every angle took her breath away and she tried desperately to sear each image in her mind, in case she never made it back. Eventually the pair made their way completely around and settled in front of the view of the hustle and bustle of downtown.

With her gaze planted firmly on the night time view of New York’s Time Square, she repeated her early decree, “Bloody amazing.”

“Everything we’ve seen and done in the universe and it’s something completely human that makes you marvel. A brilliant lot, you are, when you want to be,” the Doctor added. Martha only smiled at the compliment. They allowed the quiet between them to linger for a bit before the Doctor finally turned his attention from the view to his companion and inquired, “So what is it going to take?”

Martha tore her gaze away from the view as well and looked at him confused,” I’m sorry?”

“What will it take to convince you that I want you to travel with me and not just anyone?” he clarified.

Martha sighed before looking back on the skyline. She knew this was coming but there was still so much she was unsure of. “Let me ask a question . . . why did you kiss me that day in my apartment?”

Silence immediately engulfed the duo as the Doctor began to rattle off in his mind all of the reasons he could give for that exchange. He could say it was an impulse or a soothing gesture but the truth was far more simple . . . he had wanted to. Since the first day they met . . . since that first “genetic transfer” he wanted to kiss her again, without pretense, without condition. However before he could begin to put this sentiment into words, Martha had him in her gaze again.

Shaking her head, “That’s why I’m hedging about your offer because I never know where I stand with you, Doctor. The guessing from moment to moment is just too much. I played that game once and got burned. I won’t do it again. I need to know what I’m walking into and if you can’t tell me then there’s no chance of me coming back.” She let her words hang between them as she continued to study him intensely.

The Doctor held her gaze a moment longer before finding his vision shifting to the nighttime sky as well. There it was. Martha had thrown down the gantlet. She needed him to give some indication that past mistakes would not be repeated. It was time for him to be as direct as he ever had or risk her walking away for good this time. So as he leaned against the observatory wall, he quietly began his reply, “You’re right. I wasn’t fair to you then. I kept giving you mixed signals, getting your hopes up and then dashing them. It was partly because of all the things I told you before but also because I wasn’t sure what to make of you.”

He paused and glanced at her. She narrowed her gaze at him, prepared to ask him what he meant but he continued on before she could. “Honestly, Martha, back then you scared me. The second you agreed to join me out on that balcony on the moon I knew I was in trouble. Here was this energetic, intelligent, fearless young woman ready to step out of her safety zone and embrace the improbable without a second thought to her safety. You amazed me with you poise and daring . . . your willingness to face the unknown and barely flinch. “

Martha appeared dumfounded at his words but finally cut in, “But you never said.”

He sighed as he turned completely and looked at her squarely, “How could I? I told you before I had just recently lost Rose. I would have felt like I was disrespecting her memory if I would have suddenly appeared to be replacing her with you. I let her down, I let my people down . . . I didn’t want to add you to that list. My penance for it all was to deny myself anything remotely happy. I knew I didn’t deserve someone like you in my life and I did everything I could to prove that but you stayed in spite of me. You put up with my moodiness, my rudeness, my self- destructive behavior and stood by me even when the earth was burning. Yet I still couldn’t risk allowing you to become something more because I could not take losing one more thing I really cared about.” He paused and put on a somber smile, “Funny that. Turns out there are some things even a Time Lord can’t control.”

She returned his subdued beam. The Doctor revealing his inner turmoil was a rarity, the memory of them in that New New York alleyway flashing through her mind, but when he did it moved her like little else. Martha reached out and took one of his hands into hers and gave it a light squeeze. He returned the gesture as he continued on.

“Martha, I wish I could promise you everything humans long for. I wish I could promise you forever but I just can’t. All I have to offer is me . . . an aged, brooding yet amazingly clever alien,” he added with a playful smirk.

Martha shook her head, “I told you I wasn’t after that from you and I meant it. I would never suggest forever either because I’m only human and I know I don’t have it.” He smiled thoughtfully at her assessment and she returned the beam. “All I’m asking is that you be straight with me. No games, no allusions, just . . . just be honest with me.”

He nodded and took in a deep breath, “I kissed you because it felt right . . . because I wanted to for a long time. I want you with me because you are brave and strong and look out for me even when I won’t look after myself. And most important, I need you with me because you keep me grounded. I can’t make you any promises about what might happen but I can promise you I will never take you for granted again.”

Her smiled widened at his long overdue admissions. “Good . . . because I can’t accept anything less this time. And while I know I can’t promise you forever, I can promise you always.” She paused briefly at his now raised brow but carried on before he could interject. “I will always be here for you, to look out for you and make sure to pull you back if you drift too far. I will always have your back . . . you never have to wonder if I will cut and run because I won’t. I will always keep fighting, even if things look hopeless because I know you will too. And I will always, always be there when you need me; all you have to do is say the word.”

The Doctor mulled this declaration over for a bit. She was effectively offering her whole self to him. In the past he might have brushed it off or run for the hills but this time he wanted nothing more than to embrace it. To have something and someone he knew would be there no matter what was something he never believed he could have but now . . .

Martha now quietly watched as he took in everything she had said. She knew in a moment he would realize that she had answered his question but as he stood poised to respond, she took a few moments of her own to reflect on his own speech. Her heart turned over when he admitted that he kissed her for no other reason than desire. Maybe it wasn’t movie caliber romance but what was? And then his confessions about why he was so distant and what he saw in her just cinched it for her. He needed her and as she had always known somewhere deep inside, she needed him too.

He finally broke through her musings with an almost hesitant question, “So are you saying?”

She nodded, “I would love to see more of the universe with you.”

His trademark grin beamed brightly as he easily scooped her up into a warm embrace. Martha joined him in the glow and held on just as tight. Blimey, how she had missed this. The couple stayed that way for long while before Martha finally interrupted the joviality with a bit more reality. She softly spoke once more in his ear, “But . . . there is one more thing that has to happen before.” The Doctor loosened his hold, allowing her to slide back to her feet. With his arms still at her waist and her hands resting on his chest, he found her gaze and saw the seriousness etched there before he finished her thought, “Your family.”

She nodded, “I think it’s time I go talk with them . . . about everything.”

His smile waned only slightly as he agreed, “Of course.”

Martha’s smile returned and the pair just stood that way, gazing at each other until their interlude was broken by a young man sporting a Kodak logo windbreaker.

“How about a photo to capture the moment,” he asked with a smile of his own.

The doctor raised a brow, “What do you say, Dr. Jones?”

Her smile brightened, “Why not?”

So as the young man got set up, the Doctor with Martha hugged at his side turned their beams to the camera lens and immortalized their new beginning in front of the most brilliant view of New York City.

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