Chapter Three . . .
“Mrs. Jones . . . It’s been a long time,” he quietly offered.
A brief moment of remembrance about the year that never was passed between both of them before Francine regained herself and bluntly returned, “Where’s Martha?”
He calmly replied, “I don’t know.”
She looked skeptical, “What do you mean you don’t know? You’re here in her house.”
“I’m here because Jack called me and said she had disappeared. I was hoping to find something that might tell me where she went,” he answered as he placed the book back on the shelf.
She sighed and took a seat on her daughter’s bed. Her hope when she noticed the TARDIS across the way was instantly dashed by the reality that the Doctor had not whisked her off somewhere. Her daughter was still gone.
“This is a nightmare. She never would have done something like this before . . .”
She let the implication hang in the air. The Doctor nodded and then finished the thought, “Before she met me.”
Francine turned and looked him straight in the eyes as she pointedly retorted, “She used to be so full of life, so enthusiastic about everything but after everything she’s seen . . . she just lost that. She got so wrapped up in the world you introduced her to that she forgot how to be normal. Instead of looking forward to a rewarding career in medicine, she became a soldier in a war,” she paused and pointed at him, “Your war.”
The Doctor sighed heavily. He knew the situation was nowhere near as simple as Francine was presenting it but recognized some truth in the statement as well. When he met Martha she had a good head on her shoulders, had a focus and drive about her. She knew who she was and what she wanted to do but also had a sense of wonder and adventure that attracted him to her like a moth to a flame. Over her time with him, he saw those characteristics grow and strengthen even when she called him to help with the Sotarans. She still appeared to be so together and in control. It was during the last Dalek invasion, though, that he saw the shift that had apparently led to this. The idea that she would even think of destroying Earth, let alone follow through with it showed him that the fun-loving, adventurous Martha Jones he had happened upon all those years ago was gone. She had seen too much and had morphed into someone as alien as he himself was.
He snapped out of his thoughts and looked to his former companion’s mother as he softly offered the only thing he could think to at the moment, “I’m sorry.”
Her gaze was steady upon him for a long moment as though she was testing the sincerity of his words and then in a stark tone she retorted, “I don’t want your apology. I want my daughter back . . . the one that you stole from me.”
“Mrs. Jones . . .” she though cut him off, “No, you’re going to listen for once and hear me. She adored you. She turned herself inside out for you . . . did anything you ever asked of her and lost herself all for you and look what it got her. You took my beautiful, sweet baby girl and left me with a hardened, cynical woman whose only goal was to fight the next threat. It cost her a good man in Tom but more importantly it cost her a chance at a normal life, with a career, a family and joy. For that, I may never be able to fully forgive you.”
The Doctor only nodded sadly. After what happened with Donna, he too had began to wonder if he was causing more harm than good in the lives of the humans he chose to be his companions. It was clear Martha was deeply affected by her time with him and not all of it, or even most of it, in a good way. The Time Lord completely understood her mother’s disdain and made no attempt to deny her that. Yet after his discovery earlier, he thought the least he could do was try and locate his wayward former companion and reunite her with the people who cared about her.
So with as much conviction as he had ever had, he moved closer to the distraught mother and declared, “I promise you, Mrs. Jones, I will do everything within my considerable powers to bring her back to you.”
She rose but didn’t reply as he turned and began to leave. Just as he made it to the door she found her voice once more and quietly implored, “When you find her, please tell her that I do really love her.”
He turned briefly, gave her a small smile and nodded before continuing on to find his absent companion.