Persistence of Memory

by ChristinaK [Reviews - 8]

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  • All Ages
  • Swearing
  • Crossover

Author's Notes:
Check Part 1 for disclaimers, spoilers, acknowledgements.

Then:

Dean had been gone for a month.

Jo died two weeks ago, that day.

Only five people had made it back to the hideout under the sand after the last raid. And today was the last day it would matter. At the edges of the Mexican prison camps, Sam laid the final charge, set the timer, and ran.

10.

Dean should be here for this. He would've loved this part.

9.

He ran to the gates, trusting that Bobby would be there with the truck, waiting.

8.

The Doctor had still been alive 24 hours ago. Which meant Martha's plan was going forward.

7.

"Sam? You there?" Bobby's voice crackled over Sam's head-set.

6.

"Check your rear-view, Bobby."

5.

With a last burst of speed, Sam made it to the truck, and slashed his arm downward. "Go!"

4.

He could see the faces of the people, pressed against the fence as they roared by. Scared, and silent.

3.

One of the Tick-tocks was starting to descend from its formation far, far above, but it would have bigger problems--

2.

Just about--

1.

Now.

BOOM!

The entire front fence went up, along with the guard shack and the towers at every end. The fencing was blown out, a hundred yards in every direction. For a moment, the prisoners remained frozen, then there was a rush forward.

Sam picked up the megaphone.

"PEOPLE! IT'S NOW!" He took a breath. "REMEMBER THE WORD. COME ON. THINK IT. DOCTOR. DOCTOR. DOCTOR."

Martha, this better work.

A ragged chant started.

"...Doctor. Doctor. Doctor..."

The Toclafane was shooting at the ground now, trying to stop the truck. Bobby hit the gas, and the truck rushed across the line of people, Sam hanging onto the tailgate, still shouting through the megaphone.

"DOCTOR! DOCTOR!"

The crowd's voice strengthened, and Sam saw a few people raising their fists to the sky in defiance. "DOCTOR. DOCTOR. DOCTOR! DOCTOR!"

The truck swerved to avoid a blast, and Sam leaned forward to rap on the window. "Stop, Bobby! Doesn't matter now!"

"DOCTOR! DOCTOR! DOCTOR!"

A wind rose, seemingly from everywhere at once.

"DOCTOR! DOCTOR! DOCTOR!"

The noise felt like it could rattle his bones. Sam flinched back as another blast hit the truck, only a few feet away, and scrambled, then fell out of the flatbed.

Doctor. Doctor. Doctor.

Martha, God, let this work.

Another blast, catching him in the leg. The pain was excruciating, the worst parts of a burn and a gunshot in one, and Sam screamed, and then turned it into another word. "Doctor..."

And then--

Another blast, and he knew he was dead before it hit, except it went through him without touching him, and the Tick-tock in front of him wavered like breeze across water, dissolving, thinning--

More screams around him as people tried to keep their balance, but they were being swept away, all directions at once, up, down, sideways, and the ground went away, and the next time he looked the prison camp was gone. Just sandy dunes.

The rockets disappeared, the light flickered, night, day, night, and--

Keep your promise, Martha, please, please, you already did this much--

Dean. Hang on.

I'm coming back.


And it all faded to black.


Sam woke up gasping for air, with Dean shaking him awake. "Dude! C'mon, Sam. Wake the fuck up."

Sam opened his eyes, staring around the motel room they'd taken a week before, and sagged back to the pillows. "Christ." Another breath, and he closed his eyes again, swallowed, and then grabbed Dean's hand, feeling it warm and alive in his. "You died. I had to-- you walked out into the desert and all I found was a pool of blood and you don't get to ditch me goddamnit--"

"Sammy, Sammy, Sam-- Jesus, calm down. I'm not ditching you! Okay? Just breathe. Breathe. Thaaat's it. I'm still here. We got a month." Dean's fingers were clenched in his, green eyes studying him with the sanity-doubting look that Dean deserved more than Sam did. "Almost."

"Almost," Sam whispered, loosening his grip. He reached under the pillow for the violet stone he'd been hanging onto for months, and frowned. "Crap."

A long fracture split the rock, a flaw that bent the light.

Was that it? The last clue?

Martha. Martha Jones. He couldn't even bring her face to mind, just her voice, saying, "July. 2007. You'll hear from me." Tired but kind and she'd done... something. Something amazing.

Sam looked up from the rock to Dean, who was studying it speculatively. "Didn't we swipe that from Mama Amelie's grave six months ago? And wasn't Bela pissed that we couldn't find it?"

"Yeah." Sam put it into Dean's hands. "I had another use for it."

Dean smirked, turning the stone over and over in his fingers. "You gonna tell me about it?"

"After." Sam swallowed. "Unless you're not gonna fight me when the bill comes due."

Dean fell silent, eyes on the amethyst. "I don't want to die," he said softly. "But I don't want you to die."

"It's a lot more than dying, Dean."

His brother hunched over the stone, face impassive. "I'm sorry, you know. This year... it's been a bad year." Dean searching for words was never a natural event. Usually they flew thick and fast, rat-a-tat, or flowed out to fill all available space. Sam set his jaw, looking away, trying to make it easier on him. "I'd probably do it again. Stupid like that." He laughed, not entirely humorlessly. "But maybe... maybe I'd do it smarter, better. Not make this so rough on you..."

"Dean. Shut up." Sam closed his hand over Dean's holding the crystal, waited until Dean looked at him, then smiled. As well as he could. "I know, man. I know." He took a breath. "And after-- I am so beating you down for this whole mess. Just-- I get it, okay?"

"Okay," Dean whispered.

"Just don't try to stop me. Don't fight me when I make my play?"

Dean shook his head, hand tightening on Sam's. "I can't help, even by going along with it, Sam, or you die, and that's the only thing I'm getting out of this--"

"I got it covered." Sam sighed. "Right. Too much to ask."

And now he was going to have to sneak up on Dean.

Oh well. It wasn't like the whole thing wasn't already freakin' impossible. Might as well just add Dean's mythic stubbornness into the mix, right?

He really wished he'd told Martha Jones-- whoever she was-- how to get around Dean, while he was planning on facing down Hell.

June, 2008. And June, 2008:

"Time is reversing! Hang on!"

Martha held onto the Doctor's hands, laughing, falling down, spinning and almost sick with vertigo but elated, happy, thrilled that it was all fixed now, all better. The Master was yelling in the background, but he was defeated now and knew it. It was almost over--

Somehow, she thought she saw the eyes of one of the soldiers go black as tar for a moment, watching from the upper deck.

But when the
Valiant stopped moving back through time, he was gone.

Martha woke up, but kept her eyes shut, listening to orient herself. The tap of fingers on a keyboard. Recycled air, blowing through an open hallway. A gentle bubbling of a water tank; drawn-out vowels down the hall-- Ianto. And a tiny creaking caw, skittering claws, flapping wings... Myfanwy.

Torchwood.

Martha reached out and pulled the thermal blanket draped over her up to her chin. Then rubbed at her eyes, and mumbled, "What time is it?"

"Seven." She craned her head back, looking at Jack upside-down above her. "In the evening. You crashed for fourteen hours."

"God. I should go home." Martha didn't move, just blinked at Jack. "Ev'ryone else gone? 'Cept you. And Ianto. And Myfanwy?" She yawned heavily, and murmured, "But you lot never leave, do you."

"Nope." Jack swung around the edge of the couch to lean against the back, then hunkered down, his head on his crossed arms. "You okay?"

"Mm. Mm-hmm." Martha nodded, but she could feel the frown on her face, the one that hadn't left even after they'd solved last night's crisis. "Good, really. Just... thinking." She met Jack's eyes, and felt her own fill up. "Don't know why. Just feeling down, thinking about last year. S'all."

"Ah." Jack didn't say anything else, for which Martha was grateful, just reached out to rub a circle on her temple with his thumb. She leaned into it, feeling safe and cared for.

"Do you believe in demons, Jack?" she asked, her eyes still closed, after several minutes of having her head rubbed. Really, he should quit Torchwood and set up a massage salon. He could start his own religion that way. Maybe he would sometime in the future; she'd have to tell him that. "Like in Hell. Or, Satan. Or whatever."

"What brought this on?" Jack murmured in bemusement. "You're not going there."

"'Course not." She sighed, not sure what she believed, whether it was in heaven, or evolution, or just some kind of floaty afterlife. She'd decided she did believe in God during that last year, but she couldn't say more than that. "I knew this bloke..."

Tears welled up for no reason. Stupid post-traumatic post-apocalyptic dreams.

"Hey, hey. Shhhh. None of that." Jack thumbed her tears away, brushing a finger across the tip of her nose. "What's going on?"

Martha curled closer to the back of the couch, and reached up to catch Jack's hand. "I kept a promise to this man I met last year, while I was traveling. Just a phone call to pass on a message, last year. After we got back." Jack nodded, blue eyes somber and assessing. She probably looked like some weepy lunatic. Thank God Jack knew her well enough not to take this at face value. "To help save his brother. And I just wanted-- I wanted to know how it came out. After."

She swallowed. "It wasn't really cheating with knowledge of the future. More just, a present that didn't happen?" Jack laced his fingers with hers, and she sighed. "I tried to call. It was supposed to be finished yesterday and after all that mess, I thought, at least I can know Dean's okay, that Sam got his wish. We couldn't save everyone last night--" Not nearly enough, not half enough. "--and I wanted to know someone got a good ending." She held up her cellphone, and flipped it open.

The screen showed the last text message. Number no longer in service.

"Why do we keep trying to save people, Jack?" She stared at the message. "When we never know how it comes out. Don't even get to know if we win."

Jack closed the phone gently, and leaned over to kiss Martha's forehead. "So we can sleep at night. Some of the time," he whispered. "C'mon. I'll drive you home."

Martha staggered to her feet, and let him guide her outside into the Cardiff twilight.

Somewhere on the other side of the planet, Sam was either rejoicing or mourning. She just wished she knew which.