Chapter Four . . .
Martha stood enthralled by the late night view of Manhattan from the observation deck of the Empire State building. It was magnificently breath taking and forced her to admit she had been silly to contemplate not coming at all. She was fearful that returning to the now finished structure would remind her too much of things she was consciously trying to forget. Yet after the initial flash of memories of pig workers and hate filled aliens passed, she immediately began to take in the enormity of her surroundings. The city mesmerized her and eventually allowed her mind to wander to less unpleasant thoughts. The past few months were a jumble of emotions but she now felt glad to have some time to let go and not think on anything too complicated.
Unfortunately, her new found peace was destined to be short lived. As she continued her quiet ruminations, her reverie was shattered by a familiar if unwelcome sound. Had it not been for the fact that it was late night on a Monday and she was nearly alone on the deck she might have chalked it up to her imagination but when she felt that familiar draft that accompanied his arrival she knew she’d been found. Immediately all the tension she spent weeks trying to release came flooding back as she heard and felt the TARDIS materialize behind her. Martha resisted the slight urge to turn and greet the machine as she had done so many times in the past. Instead she continued facing the brilliant view of New York at night and waited.
The Doctor peeked out before making the leap out of his door. He received more than a few contrary looks when he had bounded out of his ship at his two previous stops, the Statue of Liberty and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The TARDIS had been trying to hone in on the young doctor for the better part of the day. What he had never shared with Martha was that once someone became one of his companions, the TARDIS could track them just about anywhere. He didn’t make it a habit to use such methods, not wanting invade their privacy, but in this case he felt it was his best chance of locating her in a city so large. The problem was because Martha had probably recently been at some of these places, the ship could not distinguish her immediate location right off. Eventually, though, they got a bead on the Empire State Building and the Doctor just got a feeling that this time they had hit the jackpot. After all, this was the scene of one of their many adventures and he had a feeling she wouldn’t be able to resist returning to see it again, without the threat of an alien attack. He lightly patted his ship and smiled slightly as he thought the third time was definitely the charm.
He finally stepped completely out onto the deck and instantly recognized the familiar frame leaning against the railing of the observation deck. Her thick black hair flowed freely down her shoulders and back while gently blowing in the breeze as she stood, unmoving before the engulfing site of the city. The place was basically deserted except for the solitary figure silently gazing off into the night. He knew she knew he was there but she had yet to acknowledge his presence. He guessed he understood, considering the last time they had seen each other the best either of them could muster was a half -hearted salute. She was definitely not the same Martha who used to beam whenever he would enter the room. It appeared the thrill had definitely gone for her and he could only assume it was because the life she had been leading. The life, her mother had pointed out, that he introduced her to. He sighed inwardly and waited.
Well after the noise had died down and she was sure he had stepped out and was just staring at her, Martha, still without turning around, finally, grudgingly sighed and asked, “How did you find me?”
She had hoped that by leaving her phone behind she would have precluded contact with anyone from back home and kept Jack or even the Doctor from triangulating her location.
The Doctor, when he realized she wasn’t planning to turn and face him, finally answered airily, “Oh, I took a guess or two or three and well . . . I’m clever.”
Martha rolled her eyes and smirked. Typical Doctor response and probably the best answer she would get at this point. It, though, didn’t even really matter now. The fact was he had found her. What did matter was why.
So after another lengthy silence between the two former traveling companions, she sighed again and asked the next obvious question, “Why are you here?”
He quickly and smartly retorted, “I would think that was quite obvious.”
Martha finally did turn around but instead of a knowing smirk, he might have expected, she faced him with her arms folded over her chest and a less than pleased look punctuated by an arched eyebrow. Her stare was cold and hard and even the Doctor recognized the look of a woman not to be trifled with.
So more gently, he continued on, “Martha, you have to know that everyone back home is worried about you. Your mother and Jack, to name a few, are beside themselves wondering where you are.”
“I left them all a message telling them I was leaving for a while,” she replied.
“And then you promptly cut all contact . . . I mean come on, of course they are going to be concerned,” he volleyed back.
Martha got the distinct impression that he was trying to lay a guilt trip on her but she refused to yield. Instead she tersely lobbed back, “They shouldn’t be. I let them know I needed some time for myself and that should have been enough. If I had known Jack was going to use that number to get you involved I would never have given it to him.”
“Why? I’m your friend too, Martha. He was obviously distressed enough that he thought I should be in the loop.”
Martha rolled her eyes again and flatly returned, “The last time I checked I was still a grown woman, capable of deciding my own path. That means I don’t need permission or have to consult with anyone when I decide to take some time for myself. And I most definitely don’t have to justify my decision to anyone including you.”
The Doctor was stunned at the harshness of her tone as well as her words. The Martha Jones he knew would never be so callous about other people’s feelings. Her nature was always to protect and heal but now she seemed so . . . bitter and unsympathetic. It scared him and not much did. He could tell that underneath all the hostility and coolness was a lost soul trying desperately to regain some normalcy, whatever that meant. So he tried again to reach her as he moved in closer and replied, “I know you don’t mean that. Your family means everything to you. Do you really want to make them worry unnecessarily? Couldn’t you just call them and let them hear for themselves that you’re OK?”
Her defensive position remained intact but her tone softened slightly, “I will . . .” A small triumphant smile that began to play on his lips was short lived. Just as he thought he had once again charmed her to his view of things she abruptly concluded her thought, “When I’m ready.”
“Martha, “he prepared to reason with her again but she cut him off.
“Enough. Why are you here, Doctor, really? I’d imagine you have more important things to be thinking about than my domestic situation. Shouldn’t you be gallivanting across the universe with Rose and Donna?” she returned.
The subject more than her tone caused the Doctor to recoil. He noticed a tinge of mocking and bitterness in her final comment that he understood considering their history. She had no way of knowing that not only had he given up Rose, leaving her with his doppelganger in the alternate universe, but also that Donna was also lost to him. He had again taken to traveling on his own and hadn’t been in contact with anyone on earth since then. The Doctor silently gazed at his remaining companion and briefly longed for the more compassionate Martha. The one who would feel his pain and try to soothe it but he quickly brushed those thoughts aside. He had no right to expect anything of her especially when she herself was apparently going through so much. No, he knew now was not the time to bring up any of this. This was about Martha and not losing her as well.
So putting aside his own pain, he softly, and with what he hoped she saw as sincerity, spoke to her. “I’m here because I care about you, Martha. I don’t want to see you hurt or upset. I want to help make things right so that you can go on and have a happy life.”
Martha studied him for a long moment. She could sense that he genuinely wanted to help but how could she make him understand that he was part of the problem. Just his very presence . . .
She finally looked him directly in the eyes and with a much more temperate manner replied, “I do appreciate your concern, Doctor, I really do but I will be fine.”
“You don’t have to be here in this big city all alone, running from whatever it is you’re running from. You have so many people who want to help you through this, including me. Just let us in . . . let me in.”
He paused and tenderly framed her face in his hands before quietly finishing, “Let me help you the way you have helped me so many times before.”
For a brief moment, Martha felt that familiar twinge she used to always get when he came near her or gave her any real attention at all. It was almost like he actually saw her as a dynamic individual . . . as someone he could deeply care about but just as quickly she pushed those feelings aside. There was no way in hell she was going to give him that kind of power over her again. It took her a long time to put those fancy notions to rest but she had managed to do just that and no amount of basic concern he showed was going to change that.
So just as abruptly as her thoughts had shifted, she stepped out of his seemingly affectionate grasp and frankly returned, “What I need is for people to respect my decision. What I need is the opportunity to sort out my own life without any interference from others, as well meaning as their attempts might be. When I have done that, then I will decide what comes next.”
The Doctor took a step back as well. He was more than a little hurt by her rejection not just of his offer of help but his touch. He briefly recalled a time when she would have welcomed and even craved his attention. Now as he stood looking at her, the Doctor could see she had surely changed. She had no more fanciful ideas about them, a realization that stung more than he was ready to admit just then. Martha had now built up a wall to protect herself but in the process was also blocking out those who loved and cared for her. He knew there was no way he could leave things as they were. If he had indeed set this downward spiral in motion, he would not rest until her set it right again. He needed . . . no wanted to help her. She was all he had left. He, though, decided in her present state to take a step back. Pushing her now would only fortify those walls.
So with a soft sigh of his own, he conceded, “Alright. If that’s what you really want.”
She nodded firmly, “It is.”
He turned without another word and headed back towards the TARDIS.
Martha watched him go and inwardly sighed. She hated for things to end this way. As much as she was trying to regain her independence and strength, she couldn’t help but hold onto that part of her that wanted everyone else to be alright too.
“Doctor,” she called out just as he was stepping back into his ship.
He turned and looked at her expectantly as she quietly said, “If you want to, you can tell them you saw me and that I said don’t worry about me. I will figure this out.”
He gave her a faint smile and nodded then before he could make his exit he remembered the message he was suppose to pass along.
“Oh yeah, your mother asked me to tell you that she really does love you.”
She was struck by those words immediately but covered with a slight smile of her own and a quiet thanks. The Doctor then vanished inside and seconds later so did the ship. Martha turned back to the view and let her thoughts wander back to the reason for her mother’s message.
She and her mother were having another go around about her life’s direction after Martha told her about breaking things off with Tom. Francine had been livid and let it show. “Martha, what are you doing? Tom is a good man who loves you. Why would you want to give that up?”
“Because, Mum, he doesn’t get how important my work is to me. He thinks I should be content to play house and work at the hospital but after everything I’ve seen . . . I can’t confine myself to that kind of life. There’s a bigger universe to take into account now.”
“What happened to you? What happened to the young woman who wanted to make a difference in this world,” her mum lamented.
“She realized that this world is but one of infinite possibilities. I can’t be what it is you and Tom want me to be. I just can’t.”
She then turned to leave her mother’s home, trying to end the conversation before things could escalate further. Unfortunately, she didn’t make her exit fast enough. Her mother had followed her to the door and before she could open it Francine cut through her daughter with her next words, “This is all because of him, isn’t it? You’re still holding on to some farfetched dream that he will fly in and sweep you away again. Well I’ve got a news flash for you, Dr. Jones, you’re not a little girl anymore and life is not a fairytale. The real world is about having a good career, a good man and raising a family and you’ll never have any of that with the Doctor.”
Martha cut her eyes fiercely at her mother. The truth was after their last encounter Martha had officially given up on the Doctor. When she finally met Rose, she knew they would ride off into the sunset and she would have to get on with things. Alas that turned out to be easier said than done. It was shortly afterwards that things began to fall apart with Tom. Martha, though, was so miffed that her mother was throwing the Doctor back in her face that before she could stop herself she harshly retorted, “Yeah, because I see how that life worked out so well for you. Well, Mum, I have a newsflash for you as well, I don’t want your life and I’m sick of you trying to live out your failures through me. God, I don’t think you ever really loved me . . .the real me. Only what I represented for you. Tish is the flake fluttering from one thing to the next, Leo is the black sheep doing whatever feels right at the moment and Martha is the “golden child” who always did what was expected of her. Well no more! I will live my life as I like and you will either accept that or bugger off!”
Both women had been so stunned at the venom and accusations of that conversation that they hadn’t had another decent one since.
Martha fought back the stinging tears threatening to fall as she continued to gaze out at the late New York sky. So much for putting the past behind her.
Meanwhile back in the TARDIS, the Doctor was debating his next move. He knew leaving her alone was the last thing he would do but he had to be discreet or she would push him and everything she left behind further away. He also recognized that no matter what she said she was anything but fine. He wanted to be there when she figured that out and needed someone to help her pick up those pieces. He couldn’t lose her like he had both Donna and Rose. He just couldn’t.