Martha clutched her phone as though it was a magical talisman, an object of power that could draw things to her across desolate wastes of space and time. Which, in a way, it was.
So when it rang, the screen lighting up with blocky little letters spelling "Tom", she was able to answer it instantly. "Hi, hon. Wasn't expecting to hear from you."
"We're ... between pubs. Thing is, we were just talking about ... stuff. And it made me miss you." They'd been ribbing Neil about how awful his life was going to be once he was married, she read between the lines, and Tom had joined in when really he wanted to gush.
"That's very sweet of you," she said.
"Sorry," he said, the sibilant slightly slurred. "I'm interrupting your date, aren't I? I'll let you go."
"He's not here yet, actually," she said.
"Typical," Tom said good-naturedly. "Anyway, have fun. Don't do anything I wouldn't do."
"Well, that gives me plenty of leeway, doesn't it?" Martha laughed. But she felt a twinge, a tiny stab of jealousy at the sort of thing Tom could get up to on a stag weekend.
It didn't matter. She trusted him -- trusted him to stay safe, trusted him to come back to her -- just like he trusted her. That was how their relationship worked: total trust. It's what they'd agreed, long ago, when they'd got back together after the bust-up caused by her telling him about the missing year. And it had stood them in very good stead ever since.
"Have fun," Tom said. "Love you."
"Love you too," she whispered into what turned out to be the beeping of her phone telling her he'd hung up.
As she took the phone away from her ear, a shadow fell across her, the shifting colours from across the road muted into darkness for a moment. She looked up to see the Doctor standing in front of her, a crooked smile on his face.
"You're late," she said, her own lips twitching upwards.
"What's quarter of an hour against the whole expanse of eternity?" the Doctor said airily.
"What's the point of a time machine that can't actually get you anywhere on time?" she shot back, but he just wrapped her up in his arms and spun her fully round twice before putting her back down again.
"Oh, Martha Jones, I've missed you!"
"I've missed you, too," she said, and they kissed, a peck on the lips that evolved organically into something more intense. Martha had to catch her breath when they broke apart again.
"So where are we going for our date, Doctor Jones?"
Martha nodded across the road, at the bright lights and booming basslines emanating from the park.
"Ah, the fairground! Excellent choice!"
As they walked over, arm in arm, the Doctor spieled off what felt like a dissertation on the ancient traditions of the travelling show, seguing without a break into the history of sugar when he bought them both big sticks of candyfloss, carrying on talking even as he took big mouthfuls.
"I used to love coming to the funfair when I was little," Martha said when he finally paused. "Tish and I were demons on the dodgems."
"Dodgems!" the Doctor said, haring off towards them. Martha ran to catch up, then overtook him, sticking her tongue out at him when she got to one first, their arrival coinciding perfectly with the changeover. Just another of those little synchronicities that tended to happen when you were around the Doctor.
They started slowly, circling anticlockwise with everyone else, but before too long Martha was catapulted forward by a violent collision. She glanced behind her to see the Doctor grinning manically as he tried to accelerate to crash into her again. She dodged round him, then steered into him as he pulled alongside, forcing them both round in tight circles for a couple of revolutions, sparks flying from the contacts above their heads. Then suddenly she veered out wide, leaving him spinning in circles by himself. He crashed into someone else, and she guided herself back to collide with him again, and then again, bringing him to a complete standstill, trapped between several dodgems.
She lost track of him then, circling wide around the outside as he extricated himself from the pile up. But a little while later she spotted him ahead of her. She snuck up alongside him while he was looking the other way, then bumped him spectacularly. He looked over at her, a devilish glint in his eyes, and did the same in return. They carried on in the same fashion, breaking apart then crashing together again, until the music died and they coasted to a halt next to each other.
The Doctor helped Martha out of her dodgem and dragged her across to the waltzers. Martha demurred at first, but the Doctor launched into what was clearly going to be a very long speech about how the mathematical description of the movement was analogous to something-or-other in quantum mechanics: she never quite found out what, because she ended up dragging him onto them to shut him up, and after the first half turn around the centre, he'd stopped trying to explain it to her and was just enjoying the ride. They grinned at each other as they whirled round faster and faster, unravelling complex orbits in the waltzer's geometry.
"I feel dizzy," Martha said when they finally got off. She'd got used to circles within circles: the world was supposed to be spinning. Now that it wasn't, it was confusing.
The Doctor put his fingers to her temples briefly, and her balance suddenly restored itself to normal. The Doctor shook his head, as though it had somehow transferred to him and he was clearing his head.
"That's a new trick," Martha said, slightly suspiciously.
"Nothing really." The Doctor shrugged. "Come on, let's see if I can win you something at the shooting gallery."
Martha gave him a look, but followed anyway, and watched as the Doctor put on a spectacular display of incompetence. He didn't hit a single target with any of his three goes.
"Oh, so this is why you don't like guns?" she said. "'Cos you're rubbish with them!"
"It's a deep-seated ethical objection," the Doctor huffed. "So deep-seated that it renders me incapable even of pretending."
"Go on, give me a go," Martha said. She smiled at the guy running the stall as she handed over her money. He smiled back, clearly expecting her to be just as useless as the Doctor.
A minute later, she was stuffing a gigantic cuddly toy into the Doctor's arms.
"What am I supposed to do with this?" he asked as they walked away from the stall keeper, who was stood stock still, a completely nonplussed expression on his face.
"Hug it to sleep every night?"
"He. Not it. He's called Humphrey," the Doctor said with sudden decisiveness. And he started trying to stuff it into his pocket, despite the obvious mismatch in sizes.
"Or you could put it -- him -- on that chair in the console room?" she suggested, as he somehow managed to complete the process, squeezing Humphrey away but somehow not affecting the enticing-as-ever line of his suit at all.
A thought occurred to her then, and she stopped, waited for the Doctor to notice and turn round.
"What?" the Doctor said.
She almost didn't want to know. But she didn't want to not know, either. And it was important, more important than he ever let on, or possibly even realised. "Are you ... travelling with anyone at the moment?"
He walked back to her. "Not as such. Seeing a lot of River, but there's no ... no, there's no one." He rubbed his hands together against the cold. "Come on, let's have a go on the big wheel. Bit of a change of pace."
They were about a quarter of the way round, high above the bustle of the fair before either of them spoke again.
"So, saved humanity lately?" the Doctor asked.
"From everything except itself."
"Sounds about right," he said ruefully.
"And you?" Martha said.
"I'm good, yeah. Went to the Crystal Expanse of Saxaconia last week. Minor thing with a hegemonising swarm travelling backwards in time from its point of origin -- no big deal but the paradox was philosophically interesting. Did I ever take you to the Crystal Expanse, Martha? It's beautiful. Emerald mountains and skies made of amethyst. Rivers of rubies flowing into the sapphire sea. We should go, bring Tom along as well."
She smiled, vicariously entranced by the far away look on his face. "You know the rules, Doctor. You come to me, that's how it works."
"Worth a go," he said lightheartedly. "How is Tom, anyway?"
"Really good, yeah," Martha said. "He's just got a research fellowship. They pretty much had to make him apply for it."
"Oh, that's brilliant," the Doctor said.
"We'll have to move, but we can figure that out. It's not like UNIT don't keep shuttling me halfway across the world at a moment's notice anyway." Martha's exhaled breath misted the air in front of her as she spoke. She looked across at the Doctor: his never seemed to do that. Just another of those little things that made him different, made him special. Made her lucky to have him in her life. But all those little distancing things also made it impossible for her to be with him all the time, whether Tom would be prepared to come along or not. Maybe all this wasn't once she'd once wanted, so long ago, but it was what worked now, and she wouldn't be without it.
They fell silent again as they reached the top of the wheel. Martha looked out on the city lights, spread out below them like a blanket, a warm yellow reflection of the cold white of the stars, impossibly high above, but within reach for the Doctor.
"You should, you know," she told him.
"Have someone. To travel with, I mean. Not as another ... well, unless you want to." She smiled at him. The way he'd talked about the Crystal Expanse ... he'd made it sound beautiful, but there was no there there. He only really saw things when he had someone to provide that other, less lofty perspective.
"Maybe you're right," he said.
"You know I'm right."
"Well, I've got Humphrey now. Sorted."
"Humphrey's lovely, but I'm not sure he'd provide all that much in the way of stimulating conversation."
"Promise me, Doctor," Martha said. "Next time you meet someone, you'll ask them?"
"I meet lots of people," the Doctor said. "All the time!"
"You know what I mean, Doctor," she said. She took his hand in hers as she remembered: the Royal Hope, upwards falling rain, space rhinos, and Mr Smith, the mysterious patient who was so much more than he seemed, and the instant bond she'd formed with him.
"Yes," he said, putting his other hand over hers. "I do."
"So you promise?"
"I promise," he said.
On an impulse, she kissed him. He responded slowly, clearly away with his thoughts, but as she brought him back to reality, he became more and more passionate, returning the kiss fully as his hands began to roam over her back.
They disentangled themselves temporarily to step out of the carriage when it reached the bottom, ignoring the look -- somewhere between censure and envy -- from the man who helped them out.
As they stepped away, Martha whispered in his ear, fondling his leg at the same time. He nodded with a certain amount of surprise -- she was glad she could still surprise him -- and she took his hand and guided him out of the fairground. They ducked under guy ropes, stepped over cables snaking their way from noisy, smelly generators, came out into the strange hinterland where the temporary, ephemeral nature of the fair was exposed. In a week's time all that would be left of the whole thing would be some slightly muddied and yellowed patches of grass. Martha glanced behind her for a moment, at the laughing families, the children running round after each other, then grabbed the Doctor's hand more firmly and dragged him off to the trees a little distance away.
"Are you sure about this, Martha?" he said as he pressed her up against a good wide tree. "We could wait until we're back at your place ..."
"I want you," she said. "I want you now. And I can tell you want me too." She rubbed her hand along the length of his shaft; he gasped and then kissed her, hard and long. As his tongue slipped between her lips, she fumbled with his zip, freeing his hardness. He put his hands on her breasts, squeezing them gently, before moving further down to slide a hand between the waistband of her trousers and her knickers. Martha groaned into his mouth as he stroked her pussy through the fabric.
By unspoken agreement, they broke apart for a moment. Martha wriggled her way out of her trousers, and the Doctor extracted a condom from one pocket or another -- not, she hoped, the one that Humphrey was waiting in. When he'd put it on, he stepped towards her once more, forcing her back against the tree trunk once more. He hooked a finger into her panties, pushing them to one side before he thrust up inside her. Martha wriggled her way upwards slightly to alter the angle, sandwiched between the tree and the Doctor, wrapping her feet around his thighs. He grabbed her arse, partly to help support her, partly, she knew, because he liked the feel of it under his hands.
The duelling sets of pounding music from different parts of the fair washed over them as they began to buck back and forth in a rhythm all their own. Martha leaned in to the Doctor's neck and bit it lightly, drawing a growl that made the flesh under her teeth ripple deliciously. Then she bent upwards to his ear, licked it lasciviously and whispered, "Fuck me, Doctor, fuck me hard."
The Doctor obliged, increasing the tempo of his thrusts, until she could no longer keep up and just surrendered to the intensity of the sensations each of his movements sent trembling through her body. The tiniest change in position was enough to set her shuddering, and his motions were far from tiny. Quickly, she felt herself nearing the brink, her own desperation matched by his urgency ...
Martha came, her whole body shaking involuntarily. The Doctor moved his arms to hold her tight to him as he thrust once, twice more before she felt his own orgasm explode inside her. He stayed holding on to her as she lapsed into near-unconsciousness, breathing heavily as her thoughts drifted into nothingness.
"Thank you," she said when she finally came back to herself.
"Thank you," he replied.
"Back to my place?"