Harry, Who Understood

by livii [Reviews - 5]

  • Teen
  • None
  • Het, Missing Scene, Standalone

Author's Notes:
Title is stolen/modified from the New Pornographers' "Joseph, Who Understood." SPOILERS for Torchwood 2x06, "Reset".

"It's fine, really," she says into the phone, her nervous laugh giving her away. "It was just such a shock, and, well, everything, really. I just have to do the autopsy, and then I'll come home."

"Everything?" he says, and she curses his perceptiveness, so charmingly absent at other times.

"Harry," she says, "Harry, it was just a bit of a scare. I was only — well, only a little bit dead."

"I'll bring my paperwork," he says, "I'll be there in six hours. Hold on, Martha."

She disconnects with a small smile; Jack is watching her, eyes blank.

"One more visitor," she says, closing her eyes and praying for safe flights. "One more doctor. We need all of them we can get, now."

* * *

Seven seconds.

She remembers the first time she met him.

"Old home day, I suppose, so sorry," he says, embarrassed as they wait outside the lab, wearing insufficient paper robes. "Zbrigniev invites all of us old chaps with, er, interesting genetic makeup back for exams once a year. Make sure we're still fighting fit, and all that."

"It's okay," she says. "I'm Martha Jones, it's nice to see — meet you. And what do you mean by interesting genetic makeup?"

"Harry Sullivan, at your service," he says, reaching out to shake her hand and then reconsidering as the robe's insufficiency becomes increasingly apparent, "and they call it artron energy, I believe. Who knew travelling in that bally old TARDIS would cause radiation mutation? I say, you look a little pale."

* * *

Six seconds.

"Down on the left!" Martha yells, and Harry swivels and fires a shot.

"Damn, missed it!" he says. "So sorry, please excuse my language."

"Not the time to worry about propriety!" she says. "Throw me a gun — I'm a good shot!"

He tosses a gun her way, then takes aim again. This time his aim is true; the creature falls over with a screeching wail.

"Close one," she says, pushing sweaty hair out of her eyes. She stands up and surveys the wreckage, and starts to move towards the fallen body.

The earth shakes; Harry's lips move with no sound; and she wonders, briefly, when it got so dark out.

When she wakes she's in the infirmary, a bandage wrapped around her head and Harry sitting beside her bed. He starts when he realizes she's awake, and leans over to check her pulse and her pupils.

"I'm fine," she says, with a small smile. "Head hurts a bit, but I'll survive. What happened?"

"The Myolath had a backup self-destruct system built in," he says, "took out half the wing with the blast."

She frowns at that, then looks at Harry more closely. There are bandages up and down his arms, fresh cuts on his face, and his hands are trembling, just a little bit. He notices her gaze, and smiles sheepishly.

"I'm afraid you got that concussion from me; I pushed you down to shield you from the blast, but I bumped your head straight into the floor. I'm ever so sorry."

She sits straight up in the bed, grabbing his hands to steady herself, still light-headed. "Harry, you daft git," she says, grinning, "you took a bullet for me."

"No, the shooting was earlier," he says, "I just —"

She kisses him hard, lungs full of building dust and exploded alien bits working hard to keep enough oxygen flowing, her heart full of joy.

* * *

Five seconds.

"Medical Officer," he says, whistling. "I say, that's wonderful!"

She laughs and jumps into his arms, almost knocking him over.

"Come on," she says, "we have to go celebrate. Zbrigniev himself gave me the news, and he told me he didn't want to see me back here until tomorrow."

"The least I can do is buy the new Medical Officer dinner," Harry says, offering her his arm. "My goodness, I can scarcely believe how far you've come, Martha. It's jolly well fantastic, you know."

"Well," she says, "I am learning from the best. Tell me again about the time the Doctor locked you in a cupboard, won't you?"

Her laughter trails down the hallway behind them as he grumbles good-naturedly. When he opens the door for her, he salutes her as she passes through.

* * *

Four seconds.

She remembers the first time she met him.

"A roof over my head for the night, food not from tins, and company — I couldn't ask for more, Doctor Sullivan."

He smiles, a motion that looks like it's unfamiliar for his face, in these days of death and destruction. "You're fighting for us all, Doctor Jones," he says, "it's the least this poor old man can do."

"I wouldn't say old," she says, before she thinks the comment through, "and please, call me Martha."

They stay up late into the night, telling stories, making outrageous plans that they know will never come to fruition. She wakes the next morning curled in his arms in front of the dying fire, her hair spread across his chest. Her clothes are undisturbed, and there's a blanket carefully placed over her. She finds she has to fight back tears.

"You could stay a few days," he says, hopefully, as she packs up.

"I'd never leave," she says gently, and kisses his cheek. She has walked so far, and she still has so, so far to go.

* * *

Three seconds.

It's a lazy day, sun poking through the gaps in the window blinds, making dancing patterns on the duvet as she slides her fingers across his skin, lightly drawing her own map, her own memories.

He sighs sleepily, shifting his body closer to hers, and she laughs. He fought physical intimacy for so long, but she craves this, a sense of closeness, the touch — belonging.

"Don't fall asleep, Doctor Sullivan," she whispers. "I'm not done with you yet."

"Warm," he replies, "it's so very warm." He shifts again and she puts her hands in his hair and tugs, just a little bit, so that he looks up at her.

"Stay with me," she says, and his stiff upper lip quivers for just a moment, and she knows she's won.

"I'm too old for marriage," he says, but she puts a finger on his lips.

"Just be with me," she says, and he nods, careful and deliberate, like everything he does.

She laughs again, and leans down, dedicating herself to making him come undone.

* * *

Two seconds.

They smile and nod as the other couple walks away, and Martha lets out a breath.

"These parties are murder," she complains, tugging carefully at the top of her party dress. "I don't know why Mum insists on having them; I don't even know anyone here, and it's not like I can really tell them what I do, can I? Oi, what is it now?"

Harry is looking at her with a curious expression. "You can tell them you're a doctor," he says. "No harm in that. Doctor Jones and Doctor Sullivan, that works just fine."

Martha shrugs. "What does it matter? They don't really care, do they?"

"Why won't you use the title?" he asks again. "You've earned it, more than earned it, ten times over."

She sighs. "It's hard. It's his title, and it's your title, and I know, I know I've worked for it, but sometimes it feels...like it's too much."

Harry takes her in his arms, ignoring the looks he earns from the people around them.

"Martha," he says gently, "Doctor Martha Jones, you've studied, you've worked, you've walked the Earth and you are the doctor now, you know. The definitive article, as it were, to me."

She smiles at that, real joy lighting up her eyes. "You keep saving me, Doctor Sullivan," she says, laughing as he furrows his brow in confusion. "I love you."

He kisses her and she remembers touching all the stars in the sky.

* * *

One second.

She remembers living. She reaches out — against the black, against the cold — she reaches out, and finds a familiar voice calling her home.

* * *

The autopsy is routine; death by bullet wound to the heart is depressingly normal in her line of work. Harry observes the proceedings with a dispassionate stare, but she notices the tremble in his hands.

They curl up in each other that night, holding on to something so fragile and fleeting it makes her stomach clench with fear.

"You were there," she says finally, and his breath hitches in his chest; she wants to scream and scream until her throat is raw from the pain of it all. "I wasn't alone."

It's all anyone can ask for, she thinks, as he kisses her. They'll head back to London tomorrow; London and UNIT and uniforms and aliens, and it's all anyone can ask for. There's no magic box to take them away, steal off into the night, pretending that none of this exists, that nothing matters beyond that star, here, that adventure, there.

Her heart beats a little faster and she holds her breath as she kisses him back. It's so warm, and she follows him home.