?

Log in

Sun, Feb. 3rd, 2008, 12:43 am
Fic: Future Imperfect

Title: Future Imperfect
Author: rogue_planet
Characters: Martha, Jack, Other Companion
Word Count: 7,013
Rating: T
Spoilers: Last of the Time Lords, casting spoilers and vocabulary from Torchwood Season Two. Implied character death.
Summary: Martha Jones saved the Earth, but every hero needs a sidekick, ever doctor a companion.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.
Author Notes: This story is not what it seems at first glance. For more details and an extremely spoilery note on what I was trying to do here, please click here.

Artwork courtesy of my roommate, Nalatos.
Much thanks to my betas persiflage_1, versaphile, and myystic and everyone else I made read this.



Home Universe
Timeline B, July 6th 2008


When the day that Martha Jones saved the world rolled around, Jack bought her a drink. "Better year?"

"Would have to be dead for it not to be." She downed the shot Jack had put at her elbow, and then the one in front of him. "Sorry, it's just… Lots of bad memories, bad anniversaries. Two days ago was when I lost my…"

"Your…?" Jack motioned for the bartender and told him, "Leave the bottle."

Martha gave him a half smile. "Companion. I lost my companion, and god, don't I sound like the Doctor?"

"There's no reason you couldn't look up your friend, make up an excuse." He refilled her glass, but not his own. "Unless you were having a torrid affair with one of my team, in which case all you have to do is turn up naked."

"I wasn't the one having the affair. And I can't. Gina fell from the sky."

Jack didn't think she was drunk, not already. "Fell from the sky?"

"Through the rift. She was commander of Torchwood Three in her universe. Had your wrist strap and everything." Martha reached out and tapped the mostly useless vortex manipulator on Jack's wrist. "She got stuck here, but she wanted to help me."

"Gina who?" Jack suddenly had a bad feeling, like he didn't want to know the answer. Torchwood Three guarded the rift, but it went through time, not dimensions.

"Regina Prentice. Her counterpart is dead and even if she wasn't, it wouldn't be the Gina I knew." Martha slid the tip of her finger around the rim of the shot glass.

"Do you want to tell me about it?" He needed more information.

"When I escaped from the Valiant, I ended up in a little village in Norway..."
---
Home Universe
Timeline A, July 6th 2007


Martha made her way through the chaos of some small Norwegian town, nearly invisible as people screamed and died. She found the woman by accident, literally tripping over her. At first, she looked as dead as all the other bodies Martha had seen that morning, but the chest was rising and falling, so Martha stopped for a closer look. There was a honeycombed T embroidered onto her black wool jacket. One of Jack's people.

Martha took a chance, and stopped to see if she could help. "Hey. Hey, can you hear me?"

The woman groaned and her eyes opened a little. "Dead?"

"Not quite." A quick look told Martha the woman had fallen, maybe ten or fifteen feet, but they weren't close enough to a building for that. "What happened to you?"

"Fell." The woman tried to raise her arm but stopped suddenly. "It hurts."

The shoulder joint had dislocated. "I can fix it, but it's going to hurt more, just for a minute. Can you tell me who you are?" The woman's bag was on the ground beside her, spilling onto the ground and Martha started searching through it, looking for anything useful. Psychic paper, clip for a gun…

"Commander, Torchwood Three." The woman's eyes opened a little more. "Daleks?"

"No, no it's not that bad. Or maybe it's worse. They're calling themselves the Toclafane." Crumpled note from someone named Owen, key ring…

"Toclafane are a myth." The woman's eyes were closing.

"Yeah, that's what the Doctor said." Jackpot. A tennis ball and half a roll of duct tape. "You might want to pass back out for this part. It's going to sound awful, and hurt a lot."

"Okay." The woman's eyes slid closed again, and Martha rolled her bruised body onto her side and put the tennis ball under the shoulder blade.

"Hope you're really unconscious, lady." She dropped the woman's shoulder onto the tennis ball and the joint went back in with a sickening pop. There was no scream and so far so good. She'd have to wrap the shoulder, but she had to get the coat off first. There was a house close by, and Martha grabbed the woman by her feet and started pulling her towards it. They had to get out of sight.
---
The woman was out for a while, but when she woke up the first word out of her mouth was, "Ianto?"

"Sorry, just me." Martha had been sitting curled up in a chair, but she let her legs drop and came over to the bed side.

The woman looked at her, a look that was mostly confusion but also… maybe recognition? "Where am I?"

"Arendale, Norway. I think. Things are a little crazy out there." Martha checked the bandages. "You said you're Torchwood?"

The woman touched her chest where the T would have been on her coat. "I was."

Martha extended her hand. "I'm Martha Jones. The Doctor's companion."

The woman took a deep breath and shut her eyes. When she opened them again, the confusion was gone and it was replaced by determination. "Where is the Doctor?"

"Trapped on the Valiant." Martha could feel the key hanging around her neck, like an anchor. "He has the Captain, too."

"Channing-"

"No. Captain Harkness." That name seemed to ring a bell, and the eyes closed again. Who was this woman? "Your ID says R. Prentice. What's the R stand for?"

"Regina. Regina Prentice."

"Earth's in big trouble, Regina. These things… the Toclafane. You said they were a myth, and you're right. They were the Time Lord's equivalent to the Bogyman."

The woman, Regina, tried to sit up, and failed. She tried again then gritted out, "Who is he, exactly? There are lots of he's, and more than a few she's that would gladly destroy the world."

"He calls himself the Master. It was… He was someone else, and then… Do you know what I mean?"

Martha knew she was disjointed, but Regina seemed to get the point, the impossible point, but wasn't it the day for impossible things? "You mean he regenerated. That's impossible. The Doctor-"

"Last of the Time Lords? Not so much. This Master guy was his mortal enemy or something, but they've got this weird vibe." Martha thumbed her key one more time, then put it back in her shirt. "Do you know how to kill a Time Lord?"

"Yes, but it's not easy."

"I've got a mission. Walk the world and tell everyone. Tell the whole world about the Doctor. I don't know what he's got planned, but I'm going to do it."

"World's ending, and that's our specialty. Need any help?" This time, she did manage to sit up, and had an expression on her face that seemed to indicate she was serious, despite being badly hurt.

Martha shrugged and gave Regina a small smile. "Couldn't hurt."
---
"Two twenty-something women, back packing across Europe, alone. This never goes well in the movies." Gina wandered back into the kitchen, her search of the house complete.

"Do you have a better idea?" Martha opened a cupboard.

"Not really. I'm used to having a command, people to help me. I just don't have the resources for this here. If this had happened in my reality, I could tell you where all the weapons are stashed, provide some man power."

"It's just us." Martha frowned, trying to understand the why of it all. "Jack sent me away. Maybe the Doctor told him something, maybe he remembered something, but he stayed behind, with the Doctor." Martha felt a certain distance from it all, mentally, and knew she was in a kind of shock. She selected a can from the shelf of the abandoned house and put it in a knapsack. "I watched him age the Doctor, and I held him as the Master tore reality open."

"A rift, in time and space. That I fell through." Gina opened a closet and found several sets of hiking boots. "Family must have been the outdoorsy types. Might have our size."

"You're awfully calm for someone who just got dumped out of their reality." Martha found a box of biscuits and set it aside to put on top of the bag. Both of them could use some sugar at this point.

"It happens. Just, go on. Tell me what happened, get it over with." Gina picked a likely pair of boots and sat down to take her shoes off.

"Those… things came streaming through. Using them, the Master literally decimated the population. He was so excited by the precision of it. That was when the Doctor told me to tell everyone about him, and to use the countdown, whatever that means." Martha felt her emotions start to crack through the calm. "I had to leave them behind, my family, and my friends."

"I left a lot of people behind too. It was a routine thing, a yearly inspection. There was no time to say goodbye to anyone, and when I came through the rift I was way up in the air. I had to risk using the teleport." Gina said it calmly, like it happened all the time, as she put a double knot in the laces of her newly acquired hiking boots. "Even then, I must have fallen a good ten or twenty feet. I'm lucky all I got was a dislocated shoulder. I… I'm rambling. What I meant to say was, I'm sorry."

"I'm sorry too. The whole world is sorry." They had to get out of here soon. The Master would be looking for her. When she was done packing the food, she found Gina staring at photos of the family that had once lived here. Not so put together after all, then. "Don't look at them."

"It's just…" Gina closed her eyes, then turned her back to the pictures. "The boy looks like my little brother."

"Don't look. Let's just get out of here." Martha gave Gina a little push on her good shoulder. "The wrist strap is picking up some kind of homing beacon. I want to head towards that. If it's a small army of Torchwood soldiers, will they listen to you?"

"I don't know. Maybe? I'm not a Commander here, but... It depends on who it is."

"Too bad you're not blonde. Judging by Jack and the Doctor, the hero types seem to prefer blondes." No, Martha wasn't bitter at all.

"I haven't been blonde since I was nineteen." Her hair was that light brown color that a very charitable person would call blonde, but Martha suddenly pictured her with platinum hair and almost smiled. Gina seemed mull it over in her head, then said, "Another companion?"

"Her name was Rose Tyler." Martha zipped the bag closed and sat down on the floor next to her. "The Doctor is still in love with her." She tore open the bag of cookies.

Gina bit her lip, then dropped to the floor beside her. "The Doctor has had hundreds of Companions. He-"

"He talked about her all the time. It drove me nuts. Rose this, Rose that, Rose would know what to do! Rose would save the whole bloody world."

"Well, that's no good. Because this story is about Martha Jones." Gina stared at the picture of the boy who looked like her brother for a moment longer, then reached over and took a cookie from the package. "Rose Tyler's story is over."
---
"Martha, are you awake?"

"Unfortunately." It was almost dawn, and they'd have to get moving soon, before they were discovered. Gina was already sitting up, her blanket curled around her. She looked horribly lost. "You alright?" They'd used the teleports, and it hadn't gone well. They were both covered in cuts and bruises from landing on rocks.

"Couldn't sleep. I was thinking about home."

"Missing home?" Martha trod carefully around the world Gina had lost. For the past two weeks, most of the time she seemed alright, almost happy to be here, but early in the morning, it was different.

Gina didn't answer. Instead, she said, "Tell me about the Doctor."

"He's just…"

"Fantastic?" Gina had a little smile on her face.

"He isn't like anyone you could ever imagine. He can be so infuriating sometimes," And Martha's voice dropped a little as she said, "But you can't help but love him." She thought of Jack, who seemed to love the Doctor even after a century, and Joan, who historical records said died at her post, never remarrying. "Do you know what I mean?"

"I knew a man like that." Gina threw off her blanket and started to get dressed. "If we're both awake, there's no reason not to get started, see what that red dot on your wrist strap is. We're getting close."

"It helps that it's stopped moving." Martha rose slower, trying to get the kinks out of her back. "Who do you think it is?"

"If we're lucky, it'll be one of the Captain's men. If we're not… then red means run, not come find me, and we're heading towards God knows what."

As they shuffled out into the pre-dawn, they saw it for the first time. A clock that hadn't been there the night before, counting down. "Use the countdown."

"What?" Gina sounded confused.

"The Doctor said, use the countdown. I don't know what for yet, but I'll figure it out." Martha gazed at the wrist strap, staring at the dot. "Let's keep going. We're almost there."

The dot led them to a group of people, dazed and hungry, camped out in a damaged apartment building. When Martha asked it nicely to be a bit more specific, it took her to a sleeping man with dark hair. He looked sick and his breathing was shallow. Martha hated to wake him, but she didn't have much choice. She shook his shoulder. "Are you okay?"

He coughed and she could hear the rattle in his lungs. When he spoke, his accent was Welsh. "Depends on your definition."

"Sit up." She pressed an ear to his back. "Cough again." She didn't need a stethoscope to hear the horrible sound. "You have pneumonia."

"That's what Owen said." The man propped himself up against the wall.

Gina had been carrying a note from Owen when she'd arrived, some nonsense about barbeque sauce. "Are you with Torchwood?"

"If there still is a Torchwood." The man coughed again. "Harold Saxon sent us up to the summit looking for the Captain, but it was a trap. If the others got away, I can't find them."

"My name is Martha." She pressed a hand to his forehead. He was running a fever.

"Ianto."

"Well, Ianto, I have good news and bad news." Martha opened her knap sack and fished out a bottle of aspirin. "Which do you want first?"

"Bad news first." He took the pills obediently and swallowed them dry. He grimaced and choked but they went down.

"The bad news is our lovely new Prime Minister, Harold Saxon, is a mad Time Lord bent on world destruction." Martha sat on her heels and wished she didn't have to tell him this. "He's taken the Doctor and Jack hostage."

"I saw. The entire world saw. What's the good news?"

"The good news is-" A band of sunlight fell over Ianto's face and Gina stood in the doorway. "The good news is, I'm going to fix all this, somehow."

Ianto looked behind her, a puzzled look crossing his face. "Who's your friend?"

"I want you to meet Regina Prentice. She came through the rift. Gina, this is our red dot. His name is-"

Gina's hand was tightly gripping the doorknob. "Ianto."

Ianto was still giving her a puzzled look, and Martha's heart broke a little for her. Gina had left everyone behind too, maybe left behind more than Martha had thought. After a minute, he asked, "Have we met?"

"No. You and I have never met."

The look of confusion suddenly faded from Ianto's eyes, and he fixed Gina with a appraising look. She looked so nervous, but then he said, "Commander Prentice?"

Gina nodded and there was a look of such relief on her face that Martha had to wonder what she'd been afraid Ianto would say. "You look horrible."

"I have pneumonia."

Her hand finally released the doorknob. "He's allergic to Zithromax."

"Are you?" There went Martha's best plan to knock the pneumonia out of him.

"Yes."

He was starting to tire out, she had to hurry. They must have known each other's counterparts, and wasn't that awkward, but they didn't have time for that now. Martha cleared her throat. "Ianto, do you know anything about a Time Lord called the Master?"

"He's mad. Dangerous, in the way comic book villains are. Anything more, and you'd have to talk to UNIT. The Master was before my time." He wasn't telling her everything and she wanted to shake him, but first she had to save him.

"I'm going to go pharmacy raiding. A lot of people here are sick. I can help them." She noticed Ianto's eyes drooping shut. "Gina, can you-"

"I can watch him."

Martha slipped out invisible, because no one wanted to see her, and went to find the nearest pharmacy.

---
"My name is Martha Jones." She tightened the brace on the woman's wrist, and then started to wrap it in an elastic bandage. "What's happened to us is a terrible thing, but this isn't the end of the world. This isn't the end of the human race."

"How can you know that?" An angry voice cut through from the back of the crowd. "What good are your words now? Words are what got us into this mess."

And in that moment, Martha knew. She saw, in her mind's eye, the Doctor pointing at the witch and saying, 'I name you Carrionite,' when he'd told her how words could be woven to do things humans used science for. "I know, because I've seen things. There's a man, that man you saw on the television, who tried to stop the Master. He's saved this planet so many times and he can do it again, if we help him." She put on the metal clip to secure the bandage and looked at the scared faces crowding around him. "His name is the Doctor, and you didn't even know he was there. But I've seen him, I know him and I love him."

The woman gave her a tiny smile. "Thank you."

"You're welcome. In one year, when those numbers count down, I'm going to ask one thing of you. Of all of you, and everyone you talk to between now and then. When the countdown hits zero, think of the Doctor. Just think of him, that's all I ask."

"I'll think of him." The woman scrambled to her feet and let someone else take her place, a little boy. "Honey, say hello to Martha Jones. She says she's going to save the world."
---
"We're going to give an antibiotic called Cipro a shot." Martha spoke quietly, so she wouldn’t wake Gina. Just a few days, and already she was going to have to leave this woman behind. "It should clear out your lungs."

So much for finding a loyal Companion. Maybe it was as hard as the Doctor had made it sound. She would leave Gina here then, with Ianto, and carry on alone.

"I'm not sure what's going on in your lungs, but if this doesn't help, I'm not sure I can get my hands on anything that will."

"Thank you." He took the bottle from her and set it on the bedside table.

"You didn't recognize her." As if in response, Gina made a snuffling sound in her sleep.

"We never met, here. She died at Canary Wharf." Martha shivered, a little. "I was one of twenty seven survivors. I would have quit the organization but the Captain needed me and I had… things to take care of."

"So do I." She took a can of chicken soup out of her bag. "This can't hurt, either. I've got a couple more that I can spare. One of the others should be able to help you."

"I don't speak Mandarin."

"What?"

"We're just south of Beijing. I was trying to get to the UNIT base when I got too sick to keep going, not that it matters. They're working for him."

"The only Chinese I know I learned from chopstick wrappers."

Ianto tipped his head, considering how that was possible. "You spoke in fluent Mandarin. All of them understood you."

"It's the TARDIS. It gets in your head, translates things." Gina's sleepy voice came from under the covers.

"Convenient." Lucky, actually. Luck Martha hoped would hold. "We can't take you with us, not like this. Maybe Gina should stay with you. It would make more sense if we split up."

"No. No, I have to go with you." She fought her way out from under the covers and sat up. "We have to save the Doctor."

"You've never met the man! You should have seen your face, when you saw Ianto. Like, the world was ending, but suddenly it was okay for you."

"No." And Gina was getting out of the bed, now, and putting her shoes back on. "No, I have to come with you."

"Alright, okay. I don't understand, but… okay."

They left Ianto behind and headed into the city.
---

Gina was inputting code after code, in the hopes that one of her Torchwood overrides would be the same here. "It's useless. They've all been reset."

"There goes that plan." No breaking into the secure parts of this UNIT base, then.

Behind them, someone cleared their throat. Martha spun around, hand already going to the teleport button.

It was a young man, in a black uniform, the twisted snakes of a doctor's caduceus on one collar. He put his finger to his lips, then punched in a code. Then he walked away, like he'd never seen them. He probably hadn't seen her, actually, just Gina, but why?

"Its mind control's not 100% effective, is it? Some people are resisting." Gina was already inside, poking around. "This isn't an armory. It's medical research."

"You say that like it's a bad thing." Martha hefted a strange metal device and looked at the tag. "This thing says it's an aerosolized vaccine deliver device."

"What?" Gina was doing something to the computer terminal.

"Hypospray. Like on Star Trek." Martha stroked the trigger. "Looks like a weapon, doesn't it?"

"What are you thinking?" Gina smacked the keyboard in frustration. "Even the buffalo override doesn't work."

"People aren't going to understand what I’m doing. Hell, I barely understand it. I have to give them something to believe in." She picked up one of the bottles of colored water that had been with the device. "A gun, in four parts. A gun that can kill a Time Lord."

"That's ridiculous." Gina pushed away from the computer and took a better look at the device. "But it'll work. People will believe anything."
---

Dear Ianto,

There was an uprising in France. Five people to conquer Paris, five million to hold it. You know how it goes. The Master irradiated all of Europe as punishment. Everyone we meet is sick now, and Martha is going mad. There are drugs, but not enough and not everywhere. I'm starting to find bruises in places I shouldn't have them, and blood when I brush my teeth. I can't think of how to tell her, so it's just one more lie between us.

I don't know why I write these, it's not like you're reading them. I hope you made it, hope you're still alive.

From Russia With Love,
~R.


The barn was heady with the smell of rotting hay, but it was warm, and this was Russia so that mattered a lot.

"I need sleep." Martha scrubbed at her eyes. "How long has it been since I slept?"

Gina stuck out a hand and pulled her into the hayloft. "Almost thirty hours."

The eye of the barn door creaked open, and there were quiet voices from below.

"No more. Not tonight, please." Martha's voice was a quiet whisper and she hoped she didn't sound as manic as she felt. "I just need six hours of no one with wounds I can't fix and sicknesses I can't treat.

"I've got this one." Gina took the lantern, slid back down the ladder, and Martha heard her boots hitting the wooden floor of the barn. She curled up in her blanket, and just listened.

"We heard Martha Jones was here. Is it true?" More desperate people, everywhere now.

"It's late. She hasn't slept in two days. If you come back-"

"Please. We walked an hour to hear her talk." An hour, in the cold and dark night. Martha sat up, ready to go down and face them, when Gina spoke again.

"If you want to hear the legend of Martha Jones, I can tell you." The barn door shut. "I almost died during the invasion, but Martha Jones saved me. I owe her my life, and so will all of you, because Martha Jones is going to save the world, and we're going to help her."

"How? The Master is…"

"There's a man, the man who sent us Martha Jones, told her to walk the Earth. His name is the Doctor, and he has saved all our lives so many times, and no one even notices him. But I've seen him, I know him." There was that pause, that dramatic pause Martha always put into the story when she told it, "I love him. If you believe in Martha Jones, then when the countdown reaches zero, you'll think of the Doctor."

Martha could hear them talking, but when she was really tired, all she heard was the babble of foreign voices. Her eyes slid shut, and she slept.
---
Martha woke up to the sound of crinkling paper. Gina was already up, scribbling something onto a scrap of paper. "Don't you sleep?"

"Not lately." Gina shoved the paper into her jacket.

Martha remembered, suddenly, the way Gina had told the story. "You don't have to tell it like that. You never met the man. It feels like lying."

"That's not true. I did meet him, at a shop in London. Well, not your Doctor of course, but still… He saved my life." Gina dropped into the pile of blankets beside her. "You never told me how all of this is going to work."

Martha pushed herself up onto her elbows, then sat up, not feeling exhausted for the first time in days. "When the Doctor took me to meet Shakespeare, we met these aliens called the Carrionites. They didn't use technology, they could alter their environment with words, with their minds."

"Like magic?" Gina reached into her knapsack and tossed Martha an apple. There was no surprise in her voice, like working for Torchwood had taken the shock right out of her.

The apple was soft in a few places, but she bit into it anyway. No one was fussy about food anymore. "Only not. It was something real. I don't understand it, but the Doctor does. When the time comes, when that counter hits zero, he has a plan, and I’m going to make sure every man woman and child still alive is thinking of him."
---

Dear Ianto,

I went to Japan once, but it wasn't like this. Tokyo should be neon and busy but this city is cold and dark and near empty. The radiation didn't make it this far, but the people here are starving. There are no farmers here. The farmers of feudal time, their children's-children's-children's children became salary men and engineers.

There's a rebellion here, just like in France. If he destroyed Europe for that, what will he do to Japan? How many more humans can the Master kill, before the futures I've seen won't come to pass?

They say Martha Jones is going to save the world, and I will do anything I can to help her. To help him. Them.

Martha says we can fix this, but I can't think of how.

Yours,
~R.


The Japanese resisters were holed up in an abandoned school. Martha thought it was probably their high school, because most of them were about that age. The leader was maybe a few years older, a young woman with still-healing scar running down the right side of her face. She was also the only one armed. "My name is Mika. You must be Martha Jones." Her eyes fell on Gina. "And her Companion. Please, sit."

She doesn't give a family name, and Martha wonders if they're all dead. "Thank you for meeting with me. The cell in San Francisco-"

Mika cut her off. "They say you have a weapon. I have to see it." She set her own gun down on the table and pushed it aside. "Please."

Gina had edged closer to the table. "That's UNIT issue."

"I took it off the man who gave me this." She pointed to the scar. "I am committed to this fight, but I have to know. I have to see."

Martha set her knapsack on the table and pulled out the 'weapon.' She opened the case and pushed it across the table. "It's hard to kill a Time Lord, but I have this. I only need one more chemical, and then… Then we're going home and ending this." The lie feels, well, like a lie, but she said it anyway. This woman needed something to believe in. "When the countdown is finished, the Master dies."

Mika ran her fingers over the gun. "What do you need from us?"

"Just one thing. When the time comes, think of the Doctor. It doesn't matter who he is, all you have to know is he stayed behind, up there, with the Master so I could escape. Think of him, for me."

"Of course." Mika reverently shut the case and pushed it back across the table. "In return for showing me this, I have a gift for you." She slid a CD case across the table. "Did you know the internet was designed to survive the end of the world? The Master blocked the new technology, but some old things are still possible. The old newsgroups are functioning, and this came to us from South Africa, in 1 megabyte chunks. It's instructions for how to bring down a Toclafane."

Martha took it and she imagined she looked like Mika had when she'd seen the gun. "Thank you. Gina?"

Gina tossed a pack onto the table. Mika gave them an inquisitive look, and opened the bag. "Rice."

"We'd like to stay for dinner, and it's rude not to bring something." Martha wished they had more, but the rice she'd carried across an ocean. With the way the teleport was acting, she hadn't dared to carry more.

"We can go to the basement and cook the rice. The rest of my people are eager to meet you." Mika got up and pushed a broken desk away from a door. "They want to hear your story, before we go out tonight."
---
They sat around the pot of rice in the light of a kerosene lamp, and Martha told her story to resistance fighters she wasn't sure were old enough to drive. They looked at her like she was their savior and she couldn't meet their eyes. Who knew how many more would die in the time left on the countdown?

"I was a Londoner, before the Master came. A medical student, almost finished, when a man saved my life, and took me traveling. I walk the Earth for him, but I'm saving it for every human being on this planet. Since the Toclafane came, I've traveled across the world. Everywhere I went, I saw people just like you, just trying to stay alive." She took the bowl from a young boy, but noticed out of the corner of her eye that Gina had refused food. "You look at me like I'm some kind video game hero, but I’m not a legend, I'm just the messenger. There's someone else, the man who sent me out there, the man that told me to walk the Earth, and his name is the Doctor. He has saved your lives so many times and you never even knew he was there. He never stops, he never stays and he never asks to be thanked. But I've seen him, I know him," She stopped, for the dramatic pause that had become part of the telling. "I love him. He will save this planet, I promise you. So when that miserable clock counts down, think of him and help me save the world."
---
Mika took them out into the city after dinner, allegedly to accompany her on a regular raid. "I want you to meet someone." She shoved her way into what looked like an abandoned building on the edge of Ueno park. "The man who got us the information on the Toclafane. This is Shingo."

The young man was sitting at his computer, but he spun around at Mika's voice. "Is this?"

"Martha Jones." Mika smiled at him, and Martha wondered what they'd been to each other, before the world ended.

"I have to… can I get a picture of you?" He suddenly seemed to notice Gina. "And your friend, of course. Outside, in the park, please?"

He'd gotten them the disk, they could pose for one picture. "Sure."
---
Martha woke up first, something that never happened, and she took the opportunity to get a good look at Gina. Her legs were sticking out from the blankets, and Martha saw the bruises. She searched her friend's pack and found a handkerchief and a tooth brush, both bloody. She must have made a noise, because when she turned around Gina was awake. "How long have you been sick?"

"A while." She looked exhausted, and didn't sit up.

"Why didn't you tell me? I could have-"

"Done nothing. You could have done nothing." Gina pulled her legs back under the blankets. "You'd have left me somewhere, and I have to save the Doctor. Have to help Martha Jones save the world. Consider it my final mission."

"When we rescue the Doctor, he might be able to help you. Because you've let this go way too long for me to do anything but watch you die. I'd throw something at you, but by the looks of it you don't need any more bruises." Martha repacked Gina's bag, then crawled back under the blankets. "Is this a Torchwood thing?"

"I've been involved with aliens, one way or another, since I was nineteen. I've worked with Torchwood for five. I've seen things only you would believe. Wonderful things and terrible destruction. Can't stop now." Gina pulled the blanket up over her head and they were both silent for a minute. "Your key is protecting you from the radiation. I thought if I stayed close enough, I'd be protected too. I was wrong, but by the time I figured it out, it was too late. I've seen enough people die like this to know."

"You still should have told me."

"I don't tell you everything." Gina shifted again, under the blankets, then gave up and switched to sitting position. "What now?"

"It's time to go home. We have to be back to London before the countdown is finished." Martha looked at Jack's wrist strap, and checked the time. "It's morning."

The door to their borrowed room flew open and there was Mika, holding her gun and breathing hard. "Soldiers. They've come for Martha. We're surrounded."

"You have to go. You have to go right now." Gina dug into her bags and pulled out the CD and the memory card. "Go to Norway, meet up with the resisters and go back to London. Save the Doctor, save the world."

"You mean we. We have to go."

Gina shook her head. "My wrist strap is out of juice. Yours won't take us both all that way, you know it won't. We almost ended up lost in the Sea of Japan getting here. You have to go, alone, and I'm going to create a diversion."

"Gina-"

Gina turned to Mika. "Make her go." Then she was gone.

Martha opened her mouth to say… something, she wasn't sure what, but Mika shook her head and leveled her gun at Martha. "I can shoot you, send you to the Norway resistance unconscious. I'll be dead before they realize it was friendly fire. Your friend has gone to die for you."

"I need to see. Then I'll go."

Mika motioned for Martha to follow her and they went up to the second floor, with a view of the courtyard. Gina was kneeling in front of a UNIT soldier who had a gun pointed at her head. Whatever she said to him, he went for his radio, and they hauled her away.

Japan burned, but Martha made it to London and…

Home Universe
Timeline B, July 6th 2008


"You were there for the rest."

"I'm sorry. She sounds like she was a good person." Who was this woman, so determined to save the Doctor? A man she'd apparently met only once in her universe, and never in this one?

"I have a picture." Martha dug into her jacket. "The one taken right before the fall of Japan, a resistance fighter with a camera. I had the memory card on me when time rewound." She slid the creased photograph across the table.

It wasn't a stranger's face that Jack saw. No, this woman's face was achingly familiar. He let his finger touch the picture. It couldn't be. There was no way it was- "That rift she came through. Where is it?"

"Norway. She said it was at Dårlig Ulv Stranden. It means… bad dog, something like that." The way that Jack was staring at the picture was strange. Like he knew her after all.

"Bad Wolf."

"That's it." She touched his shoulder. "Are you alright, Jack?"

"What happened to her? Do you know what happened after they took her away?" He looked so upset. Maybe she shouldn't have told him.

"I never saw her again." His eyes were wet. "Jack?"

"She came home. I can't believe…" He wiped at his eyes, and seemed surprised they were wet. "Martha, you can never tell this to the Doctor. Promise me you won't ever tell him."

"Why?" Jack shook his head, and didn't answer so Martha asked again. "Jack, who is she?"

"It would kill him if you told him."

"Who is sh-"

"Rose!" He said it too loud, and a few prying eyes looked in their direction. He lowered his voice. "Rose. Rose Tyler."

Martha felt like she'd taken a football to the chest. Used to be blond? Check. Obsessed with the Doctor? Check. Completely failing to be surprised even at the most outlandish stories? Check. "That's impossible. But a lot of impossible things happened that year, didn't they?"

"I don't know why she lied to you, Martha, but that can't be anyone other than Rose." Jack pulled himself together. She could see the boxes being rearranged in his eyes, neatly compartmentalizing everything. "She must have had a reason."

"I just spent a year with Rose Tyler." Martha let the idea roll around in her brain for a moment. She'd walked the Earth to spread the Doctor's message, maybe with the one person who'd actually understood what she was trying to tell the world. "I can't imagine how she ever traveled with the Doctor without killing him, if he pulled half the stunts he pulled on me. She was a little jumpy, almost shot a goat one night."

"He was a different man when they met. Literally." Jack cracked a small smile and Martha started to laugh.

The Rose she'd built in her head, the little girl who'd kept the Doctor's heart when she'd gone away, that wasn't the woman she'd met. It wasn't the woman who'd walked the world and died in her place. "She told me that it was my story." It was Martha who had escaped from that ship, Martha who'd found the so-called gun, Martha that had organized a world wide resistance that had provided the fuel for the final showdown. The Doctor couldn't have done it, and neither could Rose. It was Martha who had saved the world. "She was right."

"Was she happy?" That desperate look was back, the look he'd worn when he'd asked the Doctor about Rose's fate.

"As happy as anyone can be during the apocalypse." She wanted him not to look like that, so she gave him something else to think about. "She seemed awfully found of your Ianto, though. She was writing him letters all the time. I found them in bed together once."

"That… Wait. What?"

---
Zeppelin Universe
Timeline B, July 6th 2011


At fifteen minutes past eight, the Valiant was in sky over Dårlig Ulv Stranden. Rose stood out on the deck, staring at the readings on the wrist strap computer.

"Anything we should worry about, Commander?"

"No, nothing at all." She gave Captain Channing a small smile. "Not a peep."

"The spike you detected?"

"Equipment malfunction. The universe would have been torn apart if that much energy had come through." Rose turned off her scanner. "We can head back to Cardiff whenever you're ready."

He gave her a curt nod and disappeared back into the bridge. Rose stared off into the endless sky, thinking of the readings. At first, the rift had leaked energy like a sieve, but now she had to be right on top of the place the Doctor had materialized to detect anything. The rift had healed, and she wasn't ever going home.

She touched the T embroidered on her coat and headed back inside. When she whispered "Goodbye, Doctor," this time she meant it. The next year, she sent Tosh in her place.

Rose Tyler never went home.

Photobucket


Tue, Feb. 5th, 2008 05:04 am (UTC)
rebeccasmask

Ooh, I'm glad you didn't keep Rose killed, I read the spoilery thing first by accident and thought you would. This is great- I was wondering if you were ever going to finish A Yearly Obligation, but I guess you already have. I really like the picture, did you make it?

Tue, Feb. 5th, 2008 05:05 am (UTC)
rebeccasmask

Wow that made no sense.

Tue, Feb. 5th, 2008 04:23 pm (UTC)
rogue_planet

No, it did. Mostly.

Thanks for reading and commenting. The artwork was done by my roommate Nalatos.

Tue, Feb. 5th, 2008 10:51 pm (UTC)
joolz01

Oh, cool story! I loved Martha and Rose working together. And Rose and Ianto - ha! Thanks for the great fic!

Thu, Feb. 7th, 2008 11:28 pm (UTC)
medbwiddershins

I like the way you fixed it. I have yet to read "a yearly Obligation" but I'm getting there. You sending my stuff yet? Read my story yet? Miss you!

Sun, Nov. 16th, 2008 01:22 am (UTC)
e313

i'm so glad i found this story! a very interesting take on the yearthatneverwas! thank u for sharing it! :)

Sun, Nov. 16th, 2008 04:54 pm (UTC)
rogue_planet

Glad you liked it. Out of mild curiosity, How'd you find me? This story's been up a long time.

Sun, Nov. 16th, 2008 05:38 pm (UTC)
e313

there was a thread discussion on dw/sga xovers here http://community.livejournal.com/awesomehewletts/81222.html and as u can c debris k recommended Dal Sengo. i followed the link and i really liked it so i thought i check out what else u've written :)