A Teaspoon And An Open Mind: A Doctor Who Fan Fiction Archive
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Second Fiddle by LizBee [Reviews - 2] Printer


Second Fiddle
by LizBee


It was, of course, the Doctor's fault.

Had he not opened his fat gob -- had he not taken them to Phillos Prime, where the natives liked to put Time Ladies under the ground as sacrifices to the gods -- had he not offered them a quick spin around the galaxy, then home in time for dinner -- had he not made a total arse of himself in nineteenth century Scotland, so there was no Torchwood to find an unconscious woman in the wreckage of a ship, no Torchwood to call Martha because she had two hearts and Owen wasn't sure--

It was basically the Doctor's fault, but Martha couldn't deny that she held some responsibility. Even as the Doctor was turning away, she was thinking, Great, another chance to play second fiddle to a lost love, and that was totally unproductive, because she needed to be at her best to rescue Romana. Martha pushed the thought to the back of her mind and followed the Doctor, and tried to focus on the task at hand.

What the Doctor had said -- thoughtlessly, typically -- was, "You probably remind her of Leela."

Damn him, Martha thought, as she took aim with the purloined stun gun and took out the first guard, damn these Time Lords for having two hearts and not enough sense to use even one of them.

The second guard fell with a quiet thud, and she holstered the stun gun. It was a nice weapon, non-lethal but effective. She'd stolen it from a space station guard three weeks ago; she'd probably give it to UNIT, when they went home.

Martha had loved plenty of people in her life: her family, her friends, the girl she'd kissed on a rainy summer's day when they were thirteen, her first boyfriend, the people she met in her walk around the world. She couldn't even try to compare them.

"Who was Leela?" she asked suddenly. Her voice seemed impossibly loud, but nothing moved in the darkness.

"She used to travel with me," said the Doctor. "I don't think there are any more guards -- come on."

He crept out of the shadows and pulled the heavy stone seal away from the hole set into the floor of the temple.

"Romana?" Martha called quietly.

There was a stir of movement at the bottom of the pit.

"It's all right," called Romana, although the quaver in her voice suggested otherwise, "I'm all right."

She was covered in dirt and blood when they pulled her out, and she clung to Martha, breathing, "It's fine, it's not my blood, I'm quite all right, really--"

Footsteps approached.

"Run," called the Doctor, and he picked up Romana, and they rushed back to the TARDIS. It seemed an impossibly long journey, and Martha's heart pounded with every step she took, but she felt so wonderfully alive as she closed the TARDIS doors and watched the Doctor throw a switch and make their escape.

Romana looked up as Martha touched her shoulder. "You'll get filthy," she murmured, letting Martha draw her into a tight hug, but she kissed Martha's lips and whispered, "I need a bath. Come on."

She didn't really relax until they were both clean and settled in the TARDIS's enormous bath. The hot water made Romana's skin flush, and she had bubbles in her hair.

"Are you really all right?" Martha asked.

"I knew panic would be useless," said Romana. "Which is why it was terribly upsetting when I found I couldn't breathe. And then it became worse still. I don't like small, dark places." She flicked a bubble into Martha's hair. "I'll be fine."

This time, Martha believed her.

Later, in bed, feeling Romana's fingers absently tracing patterns on her skin, Martha said, "Who is Leela?"

She regretted it the second the words were out of her mouth, but Romana didn't take offense. She simply said, "Past tense, Martha. She's dead."

"I'm sorry," said Martha. A small part of her hoped this would bring the conversation to an end, but she'd spent her year of walking listening to stories of dead loved ones, and she could see Romana gathering her thoughts, preparing to speak.

"Leela was my lover," she said eventually. "My bodyguard, then my friend, then--" She shrugged. "She died in the war."

"Do you miss her?"

Romana was silent, thinking. "Sometimes," she said. "It was more than two hundred years ago, for me, but -- sometimes I might glimpse her out of the corner of my eye, or hear her voice. But it's always an illusion." She brought her hands up to cup Martha's face. "I always knew I'd outlive her. But as long as I remember her -- if my people's history still existed, she'd be remembered as a warrior, a hero. But there's just me."

"And the Doctor."

"He wasn't there. And he has his own dead to remember. Anyway, he knew her best when she was young. I didn't find her until much later."

"Am I like her?"

In the darkness, Romana chuckled. "Do you mean, do I have a type?" She rolled onto her back. "You're both human? And clever, of course. Terribly clever. And you're both immensely, stupidly brave. And loyal."

"But other than that, no, we're nothing alike," said Martha drily.

"You have no idea how impossibly different and equally magnificent you are." Romana leaned over Martha, tracing the shape of her lips. "You have no idea how much I love you."

"I'll die, too, one day."

"And I'll remember you. Forever."

Coming from a Time Lord, it didn't feel like an empty promise.

"We should get back to Earth soon," said Romana.

"I thought it was a tedious backwater that only a native or an invading force could love?"

"It is. Terrible place. But for a small minority of people, anyway. But I think," Romana's voice sounded very far away, "I think they'll be needing you soon. Martha Jones, the woman who saved the Earth."

"And her glamorous alien assistant?"

"Oh, if I must." Romana buried herself in the blankets, so her voice was muffled as she said, "we'll just get the Doctor to drop us off. He won't be needed."

"He comes in handy sometimes," said Martha. "I mean, if not for him, I'd never have met you."

"Well," Romana pulled her down for a deep kiss, "I'll be sure to thank him. Eventually."

"No rush," Martha agreed.

Time and the universe retreated as she returned Romana's kiss, and Martha let it all go, shedding layers of anxiety until nothing remained but the steady beating of their hearts and the rhythm of their breath.



end
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