Martha knew she was being stupid, but she couldn't help herself. She felt ignored.
They were hiding away in a warehouse that seemed pretty much abandoned. The Doctor hadn't had any trouble opening the door for them and making sure that the Master couldn't easily find them here tonight - and then had wandered off, left them standing right there without any more explanations and had started to work on whatever he was working on. It was a very Doctor thing to do, and by now she really should be used to it. But she couldn't help feeling a little hurt by the way that he just focused on whatever it was he needed to do without even asking her if she was all right or needed anything.
Her family was in danger, imprisoned by a mad Time Lords, her brother still somewhere out there on the run with his own family and without a Doctor to help them, and she was cold and hungry and worried. And also more than a little angry at the Master, the Doctor, and her own helplessness.
Her life had been turned upside down.
She let herself sink to the floor, her back to the wall, hid her face in her hands and just wished she could block out the world for a moment or two to just get her thoughts back in order. But then she heard steps moving in her direction and remembered that although she was feeling like she was all alone in this, she really wasn't. Jack came to stand right in front of her. She looked up to meet his eyes.
He looked worried, too, tired and a little pale, but his lips were curved in a flirty smile. It made her feel better instantly.
“Don't worry. He can be hard to deal with when he gets like that, but he means well. And most of the time he knows what he's doing. We know that, right?”
She grinned. “Right, most of the time. Lets not pretend he never makes mistakes.”
“Everybody makes mistakes. Even the Doctor. Especially the Doctor.” There was no bitterness in his words, but something sad that she couldn't quite grasp, could only guess at. “But I trust him – and so do you. And we are pretty clever. Both of us. Put some trust in your own judgement at the very least.”
He sat down beside her, close to her, so she could feel the warmth emanating from him in the cold of the empty warehouse. The chill was beginning to seep into her bones and only served to make her more miserable. When she looked at Jack sideways he was staring over at the Doctor with a frown on his handsome face, slight worry lines visible around his eyes. It shouldn't make him more attractive, but Martha felt that it did.
She leaned against him, happy to have someone around who understood and shared her fears.
“Your friends will be all right,” she said, letting her head rest against his shoulder.
“We'll get your family out. It'll be okay. You'll see.” He put an arm around her, pulling her closer against him. “Now rest, Martha. We'll all need our strength again tomorrow. You know how this goes. Tomorrow the Doctor will find a way and we'll save the day.”
She nodded and they didn't talk after that, just watched as the Doctor worked and talked to himself as if he was caught up in his own little world. On the surface he seemed like his usual slightly manic self, but occasionally Martha caught a glimpse of his tense expression and worried eyes and knew that it wasn't easy for him either. It was hard to imagine the Doctor without his Tardis, but that's what she was looking at.
It's going to be okay, she told herself and tried to believe it.
Moments later she fell asleep, leaning against Jack's side and feeling safer than she had any right to feel under the circumstances.
* * *
War? Seen it long before he'd decided to become a time agent. Surviving? He'd known what that felt like long before dying had become a regular occurrence. But never before had he seen the universe come to the brink of destruction, the end of the world close enough to be felt, humanity trembling across the planet, fearing the final end was near - just to suddenly find himself back at the beginning, in a world where none of that had ever happened in the first place. Deliberately rewriting history had always been the ultimate taboo. Undoing events you'd been part of was simply too dangerous to even think about.
And now here he was, back in Cardiff, his team angry at him for leaving without a word, and apart from a handful of people who'd been in the eye of the storm nobody had even the slightest idea about a whole year of dystopia on earth that had happened for all of them. After all these years Jack was used to keeping his secrets, but that didn't mean he was always happy about his role as secret keeper.
But whatever had happened for him, here he was now, only back for a short while yet, and spending the time with the team he'd been constantly worrying about for a year of torture, avoiding themselves after the latest trouble brought on by the secrets he'd been keeping.
“So, can we expect any more old friends like John Hart to drop in on us?” Gwen asked.
“Not like him, no,” Jack answered and smirked at her, but she rolled her eyes at him, showing him clearly that she was still annoyed, although she wasn't as annoyed as she'd been at the beginning.
“That sounds just great,” Owen added.
“I have nice friends, too.” He was thinking of the Doctor, of Rose, but right at this moment he was probably thinking of beautiful, strong Martha the most, the woman who'd walked the earth to save all of them.
“Like who?” Ianto asked with a frown.
Gwen rolled her eyes at him again, but there was a little smile there, too. He was inclined to count that as a win.
Things were ever so slowly falling back into place.
Over the next few days he watched Gwen smile at Tosh, watched Owen make scathing remarks to Ianto, watched Toshiko work late into the night at her computers and Ianto sneak insecure glances in his direction. It was so good to see them, be here with them, although they didn't even know that Jack had missed them, had in fact thought them dead.
He was alone with that memory, but he was here and they were alive. That was what was really important. And it was enough, wasn't it?
* * *
Someone picked up, but didn't say anything. So she asked into the silence: “Jack?”
“Martha? Is that you?”
“Yeah, it's me,” she answered and felt silly. Because she had no idea what to say to him now, no idea how she could even start to express all the things that she wanted to say.
“How are you?” he asked, before she could come up with something.
Her family asked her that same question everyday and she never failed to answer with a smile. But she didn't feel like smiling now. “I feel strange. As if I don't belong here.”
Silence. She could still hear him breathe, imagined that he was trying to make sense of her answer. Then he said: “I can relate.”
It was like a weight was lifted from her shoulders and she finally, for the first time since the world had ended without ending, felt free. For a while they stayed silent, just knowing that the other person was still there on the line, listening to the quiet sounds of breathing. For once Martha knew she wasn't alone.
“Do you want me to come?” Jack asked finally.
“Yes,” she answered, releasing a breath she hadn't known she'd been holding, not sure why it had taken her so long to realize that this was why she'd called in the first place.
* * *
“I feel like I haven't had this much fun in a long time,” Jack told her. “It sounds crazy, doesn't it?”
“No, doesn't sound crazy to me. We had a rough year. It's just that nobody but us remembers.”
She handed him a cup of tea and he smiled, looking at it wistfully. When she sat herself down beside him on the sofa, he leaned back to get a better look at her. “So how are things? Found Tom?”
A soft smile, happy and sad all at once, answered his question.
“So you've seen him?”
“Talked to him. He doesn't know me, of course. Doesn't remember either.” She took a sip from her own tea and then added: “He's different, too. The man I met was... I don't know. Just different.”
“Is it bad?”
“Oh, no. No, no, it's not a bad different, just different. When I met him he was fighting just the way I was fighting. And now none of that ever happened for him.”
Jack nodded, understanding that feeling all too well. “But it happened for you.”
They sat in silence just gazing at each other, enjoying the comfortable silence they'd shared before during their short phone call. He was the one to reach out to take her hand into his own, squeezing it lightly. But it was Martha who leaned forward and kissed him.
Not soft and chaste, but sure and firey. His arms wrapped around her, before he had even made up his mind about it. She clung to him, like he clung to her, their lips exploring each other, desperate and warm. She came away panting slightly, licking her lips.
“That was... That was...” she stammered.
“Hot? It was hot.”
She chuckled, and he reached out again to hold her hand.
“It was hot,” she conceded and leaned against his side. “Lets do it again. You can say hello to me whenever you want, Jack.”
Her head came to rest against his shoulder. The room was only dimly lit, but still full of cheerful colours, all cosy and warm. He didn't let go of her hand, not sure if he didn't want to let go or just couldn't. She squeezed back and whispered: “And here we are again. The two of us. Just like in that warehouse.”
“It was considerably colder in that warehouse,” he pointed out.
“And there was no tea,” she added.
“But there was you.”
* * *
“How are you feeling now?” he asked, and there was a note of mirth in his voice. She loved it, wanted to keep him there in that moment and never move on from it.
“I can't complain.” Her own voice still had that treacherously delicious note of breathlessness.
He let his hand move up along her side, stroking and touching her exposed breasts. It was the strangest moment for her to think of all the horrors they'd seen, both of them survivors, set apart from the rest of the world. “I'm glad you're here,” she whispered, suddenly feeling her chest constrict.
An arm wound around her and pulled her closer. “Hey, hey. You're the strong one. I'm just the one who goes on living.“
“I need you,” she admitted.
“And I'm here. I'll always be here. Can't lose me.”
Weird, messed up reassurances shouldn't actually be this reassuring. But she could feel the lightness again, the happiness, and brought their faces together for another kiss, playfully biting his lower lip. He pulled her on top of himself, holding her there, even when they broke the kiss and they were just lying there, pressed together and content.
She'd walked the earth alone for a year and would never again forget that she was strong enough to take on the world all by herself. But now she was happy to know that she wouldn't have to be alone.