A Little Shelter

by Netgirl_y2k [Reviews - 4]

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  • All Ages
  • None
  • Drama, General, Standalone

There were rumours of a house on Bannerman Road, the only house still standing on that street, used as a safe house by those who manage to escape the labour camps and evade the Toclafane.

Martha didn't really believe those rumours any more than she believed the one about Harriet Jones forming a resistance government up in Flydale North. But she hasn't worked out how to get across the channel to France, and Ace was going to be in Wales till the end of the week teaching the resistance there about high explosives. So, lacking any better ideas, Martha left Battersea and headed across London.

The rumours were right about one thing. There was a house. An elegant three storey surrounded by dead and dying greenery stood in a street where the rest of the buildings had been reduced to rubble and broken glass.

Two Toclafane spheres swept high above the street. Martha ducked down and gripped her TARDIS key until it drew blood from her palm. The Toclafane ignored her, just as they always did. They ignored the house too.

That was weird. Either the Toclafane had been ordered to ignore the house, or they couldn't see it somehow. Martha wondered how on earth she was going to find out what was going on. She thought about the Doctor miles above on the Valiant. What would he do?

Smiling as she came to a decision, Martha marched across the street, through the overgrown garden up to the front door, and knocked.

She was aware of movement behind the door. "Hello. Listen, I don't work for the Master."

There was some urgent sounding whispering from behind the door. Martha looked nervously over her shoulder. The perception filter only worked if she didn't draw attention to herself. That was when she noticed something hanging over the door of the house. It was a key strung up with string: a key identical to the one hanging around Martha's neck, keeping her hidden, keeping her safe.

"My name's Martha Jones. I'm a friend of the Doctor's."

The door cracked open. Martha could see an exhausted-looking brunette, but as tired and worried as she appeared, her eyes were alert and intelligent and she was pointing what looked like a miniature version of the Doctor's sonic screwdriver directly at Martha.

"Stay still," she ordered. It wasn't until the mini sonic screwdriver emitted a series of beeps that she relaxed. "It's alright," she said to someone behind her, "she's human."

The door opened and Martha could see into the hallway. The scorch marks on the wall, the smashed stairway that meant anyone trying to go to one of the higher storeys of the house would have to scramble over a mess of broken wood, the pale and scared people crowded in a doorway halfway down the hall looking at Martha in fear and expectation. And the two teenaged boys, one white, one black, standing just behind the woman who'd bleeped her. The black boy was holding a baseball bat and completely failing to look like he wasn't frightened.

"Clyde, she's human. You can put the bat down," the woman told him. Clyde loosened his grip but didn't relax completely until the white boy gripped his shoulder.

Martha was pulled inside and the door locked behind her with the mini screwdriver.

"You're a friend of the Doctor's?"

"Yes."

"Me too, once upon a time." The woman broke into a wide smile then. And Martha, who'd always considered herself a good judge of character, thought that she could like this woman a lot. "I'm Sarah Jane Smith, and this is my son Luke and his friend Clyde."

Martha smiled at the two boys. "Hello." Luke waved cheerfully and Clyde rolled his eyes.

"You'd best come through to the kitchen," said Sarah Jane. "And we can talk."

Martha followed Sarah up the hallway, past the door where the people she hadn't yet been introduced to were backing back into the room. They were starting to look familiar to Martha, people who a couple of months ago had been struggling to believe in aliens now struggling to get by day to day.

Both Martha and Sarah Jane tried to look reassuring. Sarah asked the two boys stay with the others while she and Martha talked and they complied with only a little sulking.

"I'd offer you a cup of tea," Sarah said, "But it's difficult to come by under the circumstances. I'm afraid a glass of water is the best I can do."

Martha accepted and sat down at the kitchen table. "Who were those other people?" Martha asked.

Sarah sat opposite her. "Over the years, I've gained something of a reputation as a person who knows what do when odd things happen. When the Master took over people came here, they thought I might be able to do something. As it was all I could do was put a perception filter on the house to keep us hidden."

"Did the Doctor teach you how to do that?"

"Yes." Sarah smiled wistfully. "He's a useful friend to have."

"Tell me about it."

"But beyond keeping the house hidden there's not been a lot I could do. Nothing I can come up with works against these Toclafane, and, well, people have been hurt trying…"

"Hey," Martha said gently, "You've done a lot. If it wasn't for you these people would be working in the silos."

Sarah sniffed. "Well that's enough of me feeling sorry for myself. If you're a friend of the Doctor's I'm assuming he has a plan."

Martha told her.

Sarah looked as though she couldn't decide if she was going to laugh or cry. "Oh, that's good. Even for the Doctor, that's good."

Martha was glad someone had confidence in the Doctor's plan. The bravado she'd been faking since getting back from the Valiant crumbled.

"But it all rests on me. I have to get the message to everyone on Earth and in the last month I've probably only spoken to a hundred people. I can't even work out how to get out of Britain."

"Listen to me," said Sarah with such urgency that Martha, who'd been examining the wood grain on the kitchen table, looked up sharply. "If the Doctor sent you to do this, then it's because you can. And if you're looking for more people to tell your story to then you can start with the people in this house."

"That's if," Sarah continued with a smile, "Luke and Clyde, who I'm sure are listening outside the door, haven't told them yet."

The door opened and admitted a sheepish looking Clyde and Luke, looking for the first time more like teenaged boys than traumatised survivors of an alien invasion.

"We haven't," promised Luke.

"Well then," said Sarah, "I think Martha has a tale to tell our guests. And," she caught Martha's elbow just as she was following the boys out of the room, "Tomorrow we'll see what we can do about getting you out of the country."

*

That night, Martha told her story to a living room full of terrified Londoners with Sarah Jane helping, adding her own stories about the Doctor.

Just as she was finishing the story of the Doctor saving Manhattan from the Daleks, Clyde got up and slammed out of the room. Martha could hear him scrambling over the debris in the hallway and thumping up the stairs. But she couldn't afford to stop, so she carried on talking about the Doctor and how if everyone believed in him it'd all be alright.

*

Martha spent the night curled up under a coat in the front room of the house on Bannerman Road. She was roused by Sarah close to dawn.

"Come upstairs, I've something to show you."

"What happened?" she asked, trying to work out a way to scramble up the ruin of a staircase.

"The Toclafane happened, before I got the perception filter up."

"Oh," said Martha, managing to work her way up to the first landing with no more than a skelf in her thumb. She offered her hand to help Sarah Jane up. But Sarah must have had a lot of practice at clambering over the ruined stairway because she got up without Martha's help and gestured up to the next floor.

They went up to what must be the attic. While the rest of the house looked like a cross between a war zone and a halfway house, the attic was pretty damn impressive. There were rooms in the TARDIS that didn't have this much alien stuff. Clyde was sitting on the couch, looking distractedly about him.

"Where's Luke?" Sarah asked.

"With Chrissie Jackson," Clyde answered. "She's been crying. Again."

Sarah sighed. "I'll be back in a minute."

Martha looked around her. This place was really incredible. No wonder Sarah had been able to create a perception filter. She caught Clyde's eye, and remembered that he hadn't stayed when she was talking about the Doctor.

"You okay?"

"Course I'm fine. My mum's dead, my granddad's dead, the entire world's been taken over by aliens and I can't leave this house or I'll be killed. Why wouldn't I be fine?"

"Yeah, I'm sorry. I didn't mean- But the Doctor will sort it, you'll see."

Clyde snorted. "The bloody Doctor. Since this happened all I've heard is Sarah Jane going on about the Doctor. Know what it reminds me of?"

Martha knew Clyde was going to carry on whether she answered or not so she stayed silent and let him talk."

"Maria talking about Sarah Jane. That's what she used to say when all this started, 'Sarah Jane will have a plan' all the time. Fat lot of good it did her in the end."

"Why?" Martha asked.

"She was here, Maria, with me and Luke and Sarah Jane watching when Saxon killed that American bloke on TV. Sarah Jane thought something weird was up with him from the start, too right."

"I wish more people had known something was up with Saxon," said Martha.

"Then the world went to hell and Maria and her dad were staying here, loads of us were."

"What happened?"

"Look around you." Clyde gestured around the attic. "You'd think some of this stuff could stop the Master. Well it can't."

"The Toclafane got them," Martha finished. She'd heard that story more than once, people thought they could fight them off, and by the time they discovered they couldn't it was too late.

"No, the Hoopers down the road gave them up in exchange for not being sent to work in the silos."

"I'm sorry."

"I mean, are people worth saving, really?"

Martha had travelled with the Doctor for more than a year and didn't hesitate in saying. "Yes. Yes, we are. I know the Doctors plan sounds mad, but it'll work, I know it will." And for the first time Martha really believed that it would.

"I've just got to wait for ten months."

"Nobody said it was a perfect plan."

"You can say that again."

Sarah Jane got back to the attic. She was followed by Luke and a red haired woman with bloodshot eyes, whom Martha guessed was the Chrissie Jackson that Luke had been trying to talk to.

"You're the one who turned up yesterday, then. I hope you don't expect Calamity Jane here to have any sort of a plan."

"Chrissie-" Sarah tried.

"No! I think she deserves to know what happened to my Alan and Maria."

Sarah hung her head and didn't respond to Chrissie.

"She knows," Clyde said. "Sorry, Sarah Jane, we were just talking."

"It's alright, Clyde. It's not a secret." Sarah turned to Martha and smiled, "I think I can help you get out of the country."

It looked like Clyde's friend Maria had been right. Sarah Jane did have a plan.

"Mr Smith, we need you!" announced Sarah Jane.

Part of the wall opened up revealing, with a fanfare, what looked to Martha like part of the TARDIS console.

"Wow. I want one of those in my house."

"Yes, Sarah Jane."

"Mr Smith, this is Martha Jones."

"Nice to meet you, Miss Jones," said the computer. The TARDIS hadn't introduced herself to Martha that politely.

"Martha needs to travel around the world in the next ten months, Mr Smith. Without attracting the attention of the Master.

"I believe these will be of help." From a slot on the console, a selection of papers were printed out. Sarah handed them to Martha

"Thank you, Mr Smith."

Martha flicked through them. Forged identity papers, licences to travel, names of people running illicit boats out of the country.

"Will these work?"

"Oh, yes," said Sarah Jane with a grin. "Mr Smith is very good."

"I don't know how to thank you."

"Just go out there and show the Master what for."

"Yes, kick his posterior."

"Butt, Luke, the term is kick his butt." Clyde shook his head.

"I will," Martha laughed. "I'll kick his posterior, butt, whatever."

She ended up hugging all three of them.

Chrissie Jackson threw herself down on the couch and snorted with disgust. "You're all mad. All of you."

*

"Where'd you get these?" Ace asked, marvelling at the quality of the forgeries on her return from Wales.

"I met a woman with an alien super computer living in her attic."

"Oh, the usual then."