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Pluto, Potter, and a Pub

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June 30, 2027, a Wednesday.

It was rare when Martha had a day off in the middle of the week. Come to think of it, it was rare for Martha to have a day off during any part of the week. UNIT kept her too busy with her many responsibilities as medical director to have any real free time. Finally on Monday she had been basically forced out the door for a mandatory vacation. So now she had a week’s time on her hands. She had spent the first two days wandering around her home, cleaning and just lazing about not doing much. That had been fun for a couple of days but this morning she had decided on a whim to go window shopping and maybe pick up a new outfit, and she was determined that it would be completely impractical for the office. She had walked to the closest tube station and hopped on, ready for a long day of wandering around London. As the carriage slowed down Martha looked up and saw she had at least two more stops so she continued to read her book. She always brought a book when she rode the tube; she had found that if you looked like you were busy it usually kept the odder people from talking to you.

As new people boarded most settled further down the compartment, but it was filling up fast and some were forced to stand, holding onto the overhead straps or the poles. Glancing up she saw an older woman, who had to be in her late seventies having to stand. Getting up Martha offered her seat and the woman gave her a thankful smile and sat down. As it had grown fairly crowded, Martha moved a little further down. Reaching over to grasp a pole as the car moved forward, she accidently grabbed the man’s hand next to her instead.

Moving her hand in embarrassment Martha turned and smiled saying, “Sorry.”

The man said, “No problem.”

From his accent Martha could tell the man was American. Trying to be subtle as she gave him a once over, she noticed he was probably a few years older then her and a bit taller, his hair was cut close to his head, and he wore a grey overcoat. As their eyes held for a beat longer then would be considered polite Martha knew one thing for sure at least, he was very handsome.

Martha found for the first time in a long time that she wanted to make conversation, to know more about someone (and not in order to figure out if they were some sort of alien menace), but she was at a loss as to what to say next. Looking around for a conversation starter, she ended up being beaten to the punch.

“You heard about Pluto? That’s messed up right?”

Now that wasn’t the smoothest line she had ever heard, but it was fairly interesting she’d give him that. But the real test would be his response to her answer. So Martha decided to have some fun and answer honestly.

“You think you’re upset you should have heard the Plutonians. They almost started an interplanetary war. Thankfully a Time Lord that I used to travel all of time and space with was able to smooth things out.”

Gus’ eyebrows rose in surprise at her answer. He had tried that conversation starter over a hundred times and that was the most creative answer yet. He had wanted to visit London again where there would be no murder mysteries to interrupt his exploring, so he had saved up and had been planning this trip for over year. Shawn and Jules were supposed to have come but at the last minute they had backed out. He had thought about canceling but in the end had decided to go. He had been in London for over a week and had seen many of the sights, but if he was honest it had been a bit lonely wondering around the city all by himself.

The woman next to him was very beautiful, she had warm brown eyes, her dark hair was piled stylishly on top of her head, and she was wearing jeans and black pea coat. He had wanted to say something, anything, and as the seconds seemed to stretch on and on in desperation he had blurted out the first thing that had popped into his head. When Gus had heard his old pickup line, about Pluto burst from his mouth he had almost rolled his eyes at how lame it sounded. So he was pleasantly surprised by her answer.

Deciding to go with it he answered with a smile, “Well, we would have totally deserved it, downgrading a fellow planet like that…like it was a second class citizen.”

Martha laughed softly at his answer liking that he had a sense of humor, and his smile was wide and generous which added to his good looks. Seeing the pin on his lapel, she realized he also had great taste in books. Pointing to his Gryffindor pin she asked, “Are you going to the museum exhibition?”

“Yes. I have tickets for today,” Gus said a little warily, Shawn had given him unending amounts of grief that he would fly across the Atlantic just to go to the 30th anniversary exhibition about the Harry Potter phenomenon.

Martha from his tone of voice she could tell he was worried she would judge him, but she had been hoping to go at some point herself and was actually a little jealous. “You got tickets for opening day? That’s amazing! They have been sold out forever. I have seen some pictures online and it looks like it is going to be brilliant.”

Gus felt warmth spread through him as she smiled at him, her whole face seemed to light up in delight as she talked about Harry Potter and the exhibition. Feeling the train slow Gus saw they had arrived, and said a bit sadly, “Well this is my stop.”

Martha could see they were at Tottenham Court Road; the London Museum where the exhibit would be held was just a couple of blocks away. She was a bit sad about that, she really didn’t want this moment to end.

“Do you want to go with me?” Gus asked tentatively. He hoped he didn’t come off like a creeper, but he wanted to spend more time with her. The car came to a complete stop and people started to get off.

“I would love to,” Martha exclaimed, wincing a bit at how loud and how quickly she had answered him.

Moving swiftly they just managed to get off the car before the train pulled away. As they walked up the stairs Martha asked, “How did you manage to have an extra ticket?”

“A couple of friends backed out at the last moment,” Gus stated before a thought stuck him as they reached street level. Stopping, Gus said a bit sheepishly holding out his hand, “I’m sorry, I’ve never introduced myself. My name is Burton Guster, but people call me Gus.”

“Gus it is nice to meet you. My name is Martha Jones,” Martha said shaking his hand.

Walking side by side in the direction of the museum, Martha had worried that there would be awkward silences but they ended up having a lot to say to each other. They talked about Harry Potter of course, debating the various houses. Then they moved on to comparing the books to the movies, Martha admitted to reading the books and seeing the movies an embarrassing number of times. Gus then felt the need to confess that he could fully hum the score to most of the movies.

Handing their tickets to door attendant, they entered the museum eagerly wanting to re-experience the wonder of Harry Potter.

********

Several hours later, they reemerged both now wearing scarves in their house colors and wands in their pockets at the ready should they run into any Death Eaters.

Martha was having a great time she hadn’t laughed so much in years, Gus had a great sense of humor, part sarcasm, part 80’s pop culture reference. Seeing that it was well past lunch time she decided to be bold, “Do you want to go for a late lunch? I know a pub around here that sells the most delicious sandwiches.”

Gus was so happy that she wanted to extend their time together she could have asked if he wanted a root canal and he probably would have said yes.

When he quickly agreed Martha was thrilled that he was enjoying his time with her as much as she was. Taking his hand in hers she showed him the way.

At lunch they talked about their families and their work. She was as honest as she could be with what her job for the government entailed, leaving out the aliens and keeping it very generic. She was able to tell him about Francine and her husband’s new child being born. How Clyde and his wife had moved to a new home further out so the kids could go to better schools. Little tidbits of her life now, skipping over parts of the past and the present she couldn’t talk about.

When it was his turn Gus told about the detective agency that he ran with his best friend in San Francisco. Staring across the table at the lovely intelligent woman he was eating lunch with he was now happier then ever that the agency was legit, no more “psychic detective”. They no longer needed to lie to get people to listen. He was able to help people doing something he loved.

They ended up talking for hours, finally getting politely kicked out of the pub for loitering. Not wanting the day to end quite yet they walked around talking about anything and everything under the sun.

When that sun begun to set and the air grew cold they settled in a local café, and they ordered some hot tea and sat down to enjoy each other’s company.

“How long are you in town?” Martha asked as she blew on her tea, cupping the mug in her hands to warm them up. She was hoping he would be in town for a least a couple more days and they could spend some more time together. There were other exhibitions, a couple of plays, and even a concert in the park she had read about just this morning.

“Actually I leave early tomorrow morning,” Gus answered, regret coloring his tone. He briefly explained that he needed to be back in San Francisco by Friday to testify in a kidnapping case they had solved a couple of months ago.

Martha dropped her eyes and slouched a little bit as she stared into her tea, and tried to swallow the disappointment that ran through her. She did manage to say a soft, “Oh.”

Straightening up she decided to be sensible about the whole situation. It had been nice to be carefree for a day but a long distance romance was doomed from the beginning, “So I guess there won’t be a second date then.”

Although he was ecstatic that she considered this a first date, he couldn’t help feeling a bit saddened that this was it. Picking up his tea, Gus took a quick swallow; looking across the table he tried to memorize Martha’s features, knowing that more then likely he wouldn’t see her again after tonight. Because let’s face it, this wasn’t an 80’s romantic comedy, they had just met and it was at least a ten hour flight between San Francisco and London. It just wasn’t practical.

The mood now officially ruined both quickly finished up their tea, the silence for the first time that day stretched awkwardly between them. Gathering their purchases they headed outside with Gus ever the gentleman holding the door open for her. Martha tried not to think about the fact that he had been doing that all day and how much a man with courteous manners always got to her.

Standing on the pavement Martha held up her arm, attempting to wave down a cab. It was late and with Gus needing to be at the airport so early she knew it would be better for her to go. It was for the best. At least that’s what she kept telling herself.

Gus stood with Martha and tried not to dwell on the day ending, this feeling that he had with her being over.

As a cab pulled up, Martha placed her purchases in the back seat. Turning towards Gus she held out her hand and when he grasped it between his she took in a deep breath as a rush of pleasure went through her. She steeled herself against it and remembered how far away this amazing man lived, and how her job was top secret and left little time for a relationship anyway. Be sensible Martha Jones.

So Martha let go of his hand, and quietly said, “Thank you for a lovely day, Gus. Goodbye.”

“It was my pleasure, Martha. Thank you and goodbye,” Gus answered, his tone sincere but subdued. As she turned away he couldn’t stop thinking that to never see her again felt wrong, that if it ended like this he would always regret what might have been.

Surging forward Gus shouted, “Wait!”

Martha spun back around relief coursing through her. She closed the gap between the two of them, placing her hands in his outstretched ones.

Gus knew he had to get this right, “Listen I know all the reasons it wouldn’t work and why you should get in that cab and go home. And I should go to my hotel and fly home in the morning, and just have this day be a fond memory. But I think it could be more. I want to try for more.”

Taking in a deep breath he continued before Martha could say anything, “There’s snail mail, email, phone calls, texting, and Skype. No pressure, just two friends talking, that all I am asking.” Towards the end his voice might have taken on a slight pleading tone, but Gus was okay with that.

“Just friends?” Martha questioned, before deciding action would speak louder then words. Taking the final step toward Gus, so that she was now completely in his personal space, Martha reached up and grabbed Gus by the lapels and pulled him down to her. As her lips met his all she could think was that kissing Gus was everything she thought it would be.

Gus could not have been more surprised at Martha’s response; he was at most hoping that she would agree to a phone call. Curving his arms around her, Gus deepened the kiss pouring all his longing for her into it.

HONK!

The sound startled them both, breaking them apart, an impatient cab driver waving at them to hurry up. They grinned nervously at each other. Martha started digging around in her pockets before coming up with pen and paper. Quickly scrawling out her number and email address she placed it in his hands and said, “Maybe more than just friends?”

“Definitely more than just friends,” agreed Gus as he wrote his own number and email address. Handing it over he said, “Here, I also have a Skype account if you want talk that way.”

“That sounds good. I’ll get an account and call you tomorrow night?” Martha said edging towards the cab as the cabbie once again honked his horn.

Gus didn’t think his smile could get any wider, “That sounds great I should be home by 7.” Leaning in he gave her one last kiss before opening the cab door and ushering her in. “Goodnight.”

“Goodnight,” Martha said as she closed the door and as the cab pulled away she waved and watched until the cab turned the corner.

Martha knew tomorrow she would call Gus and he would answer. From there who knew, but she had a feeling that this was the start of something important and very beautiful.

 

The End