Crossing Parallels

by Persiflage [Reviews - 3]

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  • Adult
  • Explicit Sex
  • Action/Adventure, Crossover, Drama, Het, Hurt/Comfort, Mystery, Romance

Author's Notes:
I listened to the Big Finish version of "The Adventures of Luther Arkwright" and fell instantly in love with both the character and the world that Talbot had created, and as a result, I couldn't resist bringing Luther and Martha Jones together. This story is set about 10 years after the end of "Adventures" for Luther, and a few months after "Journey's End" for Martha.
[Note: Luther Arkwright is portrayed by David Tennant in the Big Finish audio drama]
Beta: The fabulous and helpful fourzoas
Spoilers: The Adventures of Luther Arkwright, Doctor Who S3 and S4, Torchwood S2
Disclaimer: Doctor Who & Torchwood are owned by Auntie Beeb, Luther Arkwright is owned by Bryan Talbot. I'm just playing fast and loose with them all!

Martha Jones tried to focus on the data on her laptop screen as the soldiers around her chatted excitedly about their imminent arrival at the UK's UFO 'hotspot', a small Scottish town named Bonnybridge which for nearly two decades had reputedly been the scene of over 300 UFO sightings each year. The majority had consisted of 'strange lights in the sky' which the local military had refused to confirm or deny were caused by secret experimental aircraft. Jack Harkness, however, had confirmed that Torchwood Two, which was based in Glasgow, had investigated some of the sightings, and there had definitely been some alien activity there in recent years, although not as extensive as Bonnybridge's councillor would have everyone believe.

According to Torchwood Two's Archie there had been a lot of activity in the area over the past week, with a higher than usual number of reports of strange blue lights. Archie had requested Jack's assistance in further investigating the lights, but the Captain and his small team were being kept busier than usual by activity from the Rift in Cardiff, so he'd contacted Martha and asked if UNIT could help. After two lengthy conference calls between Cardiff and London, with Jack, Martha, Colonel Mace and Brigadier Chaudhry all involved in the discussions, a UNIT platoon was dispatched to Scotland aboard a Hercules transport aircraft. Their ETA was in ten minutes and Martha had been going over Archie's reports, which Jack had forwarded to her, until she was satisfied she had familiarised herself with all the relevant data.

"All set Dr Jones?" enquired Colonel Mace from his seat across the aisle as she shut down her laptop and prepared for the landing.

"I think so, sir," she answered.

"Good."

Martha had noticed that since the business with both the Sontarans and the Daleks, Mace had a tendency to treat her as more of an equal than before, despite her civilian status. She wasn't sure if it was the result of her being one of the few people who'd escaped the Dalek attack on UNIT's Manhattan HQ, or if it was because he knew about her role regarding the Osterhagen Key (which she'd reported to the Brigadier, but hadn't discussed with anyone else). Either way, there had been greater respect in his manner when she had returned to London after the Earth had been towed home.

The Hercules touched down and everyone gathered up their kit, then waited their turn to disembark. Once on the ground they piled into the jeeps they had brought with them, ready to drive from the Leuchars airfield to Bonnybridge.

Martha had visited Scotland once with the Doctor, but that had been 19th century Edinburgh, not the 21st century, and she couldn't help wishing that she'd had the chance to come here in different circumstances, so that she could explore at her leisure rather than being driven in a rattling jeep to investigate a potential alien threat.

"Is your Torchwood contact meeting us at the site?" asked Mace, breaking Martha from her reverie.

"Yes sir, at least, that's the arrangement that Captain Harkness made with Archie."

The Colonel nodded and she wondered if he disapproved of the fact that Jack had been her go-between for contacting the Torchwood Two person who was, according to the Captain, a very strange man. Martha had concluded that if Jack, who had seen so much, thought Archie was strange, then Mace was liable to find him downright weird.

The Colonel gestured for her to join him in the front of one of the jeeps, which was being driven by a private. "How likely is it that these blue lights are genuine alien activity?" asked Mace.

"I can't say for certain, but reading the reports, I suspect they aren't of Earthly origin this time," she answered. "They've become too active and too frequent this past week for me to easily accept a more mundane explanation."

"Well Jones, I trust your instincts and experience, and your assurance that Captain Harkness' colleague isn't just looking for a bit of company."

She gave him a half smile. "If Archie had only wanted company, I'm sure he would have found some way to get Jack and the others up to Glasgow, rather than a bunch of military types he doesn’t know."

The Colonel nodded agreement, and their conversation lapsed into silence as they both considered what they might find themselves facing.

An hour later they pulled up in a layby near the town of Bonnybridge where a rather battered yellow mini was waiting, as arranged. Martha and Mace climbed out of the jeep and approached the car, from which a man climbed out, unfolding his long frame with difficulty, and the young doctor couldn't help wondering why such a tall man drove such a small car.

She approached, introducing herself and Mace.

"Archie," he answered, briefly shaking hands with them both. His skin was dry and had a translucent quality, she noticed, despite the fact he looked as if he was only a decade or so older than her. His brown hair was thin and wispy, and his grey eyes were squinting, although the afternoon daylight wasn't that bright.

"Shall we?" Martha asked, gesturing at the road.

Archie gave a nod. "Aye, ye can travel wi' me, and the rest of yer lot can foller behind."

She glanced over at Mace, who nodded slightly. "Okay." She moved around the car and climbed into the passenger seat.

They drove straight through the town and out into the countryside beyond. Martha tried making conversation with Archie, asking him about his work at Torchwood, but the Scotsman was taciturn, mostly responding with grunts. She couldn't help wondering if his manner was the result of his isolation, being the only employee of Torchwood Two, or if he'd gravitated towards the organisation because it suited his personality.

By the time they reached their destination, it was already dusk, to Martha's surprise — she'd forgotten that it got dark earlier in Scotland than it did in London. But since they were coming to see strange lights, there was little point in arriving in broad daylight.

Archie pulled up at the edge of some open ground, and the two jeeps stopped on either side of his mini.

"Where are we?" she asked.

"Hills o' Dunipace," he answered.

They got out of the car and looked up at the rapidly darkening sky.

"There," he said, pointing upwards and Martha saw there were two, no four, no eight blue lights above the cemetery that was to one side of them.

"Dr Jones, what — Good God!" Colonel Mace couldn't help interrupting himself as he spotted what she and Archie were looking at, and the lights blazed even more brightly than before, then swooped down towards their position.

Martha already had a small device in her hand which she was using to track and analyse the data from the lights. "They're definitely aliens," she told them, "and as far as I can tell, they're mechan-organic constructs."

She glanced up from the screen of her device as a sudden white light flashed across the landscape, illuminating the scene as brightly as if the sun had come back out again. As she watched, the blue lights converged on the white one, appearing to repeatedly bombard it, but also 'bouncing' off it. Four of the blue lights suddenly converged simultaneously on the white one, instead of attacking one by one as they had before, and the watchers all winced in sympathy. The other four blue lights were circling around the four that were attacking the white light, presumably biding their time, but they never got a chance to attack as the white light suddenly flared with an intensely brilliant burst of brightness. Everyone cried out and threw up their arms to shield their faces; when they were able to see again, they noticed that all of the lights were drifting Earthwards, landing roughly a hundred metres ahead of their position.

"Dr Jones?" queried the Colonel.

Martha looked down at the display screen on her Track and Analyse device. "They appear to be deactivated," she said. "They're certainly not a threat now."

"All right, men, you heard the MO. We approach, but with caution. Be careful, but don't be trigger happy."

She turned to Archie as Mace led the soldiers forward. "Are you coming?"

"Och, I suppose," he answered, reluctantly, she thought.

The first alien Martha approached was, as she had described, a mechanical organic creature of a kind she had never seen before; it was about seven feet tall, or would be when standing upright, and bipedal, but it was simian not humanoid in appearance. She could see cogs, springs and other mechanical parts scattered in the grass around its body, and more such parts were visible in the open chest cavity.

"Ever seen such things before, Jones?" asked the Colonel as she investigated the deactivated remains.

"No sir," she answered, not looking up from where she was scanning the creature, her attention firmly fixed on the Track and Analyse device in her hand.

"Hmm." He watched without comment as Martha finished her scan and got to her feet.

"Sir," called one of the privates, "this one's different to the others, and I think it's alive still."

The young doctor hurried over, Mace at her heels, to find that the private was standing at the feet of a man, a very familiar looking man, apart from the colour of his hair.

"Good God!" exclaimed the Colonel as he caught sight of the figure. "That looks like the Doctor."

Martha was already on her knees beside the supine figure, pulling a stethoscope from her medical kit with one hand while seeking a pulse in his neck with her other hand. She wondered what the Time Lord had been up to: his clothes were completely unfamiliar, and his hair was a white-blond colour instead of the usual brown.

She found his pulse, but it was weak, and she quickly unzipped the brown leather flying jacket he wore, then pushed up the loose linen shirt which she absent-mindedly noticed had laces at the top instead of buttons. She slipped the earpieces of the stethoscope into place, then placed the bell on his chest, an intent expression on her face.

He stirred under her touch, and her eyes widened in surprise when she realised that she could only hear one heart beating.

"Rose?" he mumbled, "where are you?"

Martha glanced up at his words, noticing that he appeared to still be unconscious. She presumed this was the human Doctor, rather than the Time Lord, although she had understood from the conversation she'd had with Mickey, after they'd left the TARDIS, that the Time Lord was intending to leave his human counterpart in the parallel universe with Rose. She wondered how and why he was here instead.

"We need to get him to a hospital," she told the Colonel.

He nodded. "I can scramble a Puma."

"What medical facilities are there at Leuchars?" she asked.

"Just the basics," Mace answered. "We can get him taken to the Royal Infirmary at Edinburgh. I'll send a security detail with you."

She nodded. "That's probably the best."

Twenty minutes later Martha, the injured man, and four of Mace's men were in the air and en route to the hospital. Archie had headed back to Torchwood in Glasgow, apparently having lost interest in the proceedings, and Mace was organising the men to get the simian mechanoids back to the RAF base at Leuchars in order to transport them to London for further study.

As the helicopter flew to Edinburgh, Martha found herself puzzling over the unconscious man beside her. It seemed unlikely that this was the Doctor, unless one of his hearts had stopped, and while she knew that this wasn't impossible, only an X-ray could confirm whether he had one heart or two. If this was the Doctor's human counterpart, which seemed possible since he had asked for Rose, then how had he ended up back in this universe, and how could she return him again.

She sighed, knowing he needed to be awake in order to answer her questions, and pushed them to the back of her mind to concentrate, instead, on the data she had gathered via her T&A device. She was, not unjustifiably, quite proud of this gadget, which she'd designed herself, and had built with the assistance of some of the technical staff at UNIT. It might not be as elegant as the Doctor's sonic screwdriver, nor capable of as many functions as that alien gadget, but it was extremely useful, and UNIT were already talking about building more of them once Martha had done sufficient field-testing.

* * * * * *

Once at the hospital, Martha ensured that her patient was dealt with swiftly, pulling rank slightly; she tried not to pace as he was examined, X-rayed and then made comfortable in a private room which was guarded by two of the four soldiers she had brought with her.

The doctor's examination had established that the mystery man definitely only had one heart, and also, oddly, that he had no body hair except for the white-blond thatch on his head. He was also free of any physical injuries, nor could Dr Michaels discover that he'd experienced a head trauma, so his current unconscious state was rather inexplicable.

Martha contacted the Colonel to let him know the situation, then went to find out where she and the soldiers could eat; she had to enter into some brief negotiations before they were given permission to use the staff restaurant. Once they'd all eaten, and the two men who weren't on guard duty had gone to get some rest, she settled into a chair beside the bed. She knew from her student experiences that she wouldn't have any trouble falling asleep there, and she felt it was important to be on hand when the mystery man woke up again.

A couple of hours later, after Martha thought she had fallen asleep, the man beside her spoke.

"Dr Jones."

She straightened up in her chair, surprised at being addressed directly.

"Forgive me for startling you," he said, offering a sweet smile of apology. "I wonder if you can tell me which parallel I'm on?"

"Which what?" she asked, sleepy and baffled.

"Parallel. I'm from parallel Zero-Zero."

"Is that a planet?" Martha asked, confused.

"No, it's an alternative dimension. You are familiar with the concept of parallel versions of Earth."

She noticed that it was a statement, not a question. "How do you know that?" she demanded, feeling unnerved by this man who wore the Doctor's face, but didn't sound like him. "You're not the Doctor's human counterpart, are you?"

"I'm not," he agreed, "nor am I the Doctor, although I am his doppelganger. My name is Luther Arkwright."

Martha shook her head, trying to clear the sleep from her brain.

"I'm not even human, in fact, nor a Time Lord."

"Then what are you?" she asked, standing up quickly. Just because he had a nice smile, it didn't mean she had to trust him. She wondered if she should call the guards in.

"Please, Martha, I know this is a bit weird for you, even after all the things you've seen and experienced, but I assure you that I mean you no harm." He sat up and reached out to her slowly. "Will you sit down, please, and I'll explain as much as I can."

She sat down, perching on the edge of the chair and gave him a wary look. "You could start by explaining how you know who I am if you're not the Doctor or his human counterpart."

He nodded, rubbing a slender hand across his face before he spoke again. "My name, as I told you, is Luther Arkwright, and I come from a parallel Earth. I was born a human, just like you, but with highly developed psychic abilities which, amongst other things, allow me to travel through the parallels unaided, and give me strong telepathic powers." He smiled at her. "Did you know you've got a latent telepathic ability yourself?"

Martha gave him a startled look. "No!"

Luther nodded. "You're not actually awake at the moment," he said casually. "Nor am I. You're sleeping beside my bed and I'm unconscious, in a healing trance, after that attack by the simian mechanoids that your UNIT people collected up."

"I'm asleep?" she asked doubtfully.

He nodded. "My unconscious mind found your sleeping one and recognised that you've experienced space and time travel, and that you have considerable curiosity, both about me and about the universe at large."

"So will I remember this conversation when I wake up?"

"Oh yes," Luther answered quickly. "To you it will initially seem like a very vivid dream, but there's a bit more to it than that."

"Are there many more people like you on this parallel Earth you mentioned?"

He shook his head. "Not that many, not yet. There are people with telepathic powers. My friend, Rose Wylde, has the ability to sense her counterparts in other parallels, for example. And there are others like her, but no one is quite like me, not yet."

"You said just now that you were born human, but before that you told me you weren't human, so what are you, and what happened to make you non-human?"

He smiled wryly. "Technically, I'm a more advanced form of human, Homo Novus as opposed to Homo Sapiens. As for how I became more than human, that's a long and complex tale, best told when we're both awake because much of it is bloody, and I don't think you would appreciate the ensuing nightmares. However, I can tell you a little of the parallel from which I come."

Martha settled back into the chair in a more comfortable position, then nodded to indicate he could begin.

Luther smiled, the same sort of beguiling smile the Doctor often gave her, and she quickly pushed that thought aside, not wanting to be distracted.

"I come from parallel Zero-Zero. It is a uniquely stable continuum and as a result has very advanced science and technology, and is the most peaceful version of Earth. The science of this Earth grew by leaps and bounds since it was unfettered by the socio-religious prejudice usual on other parallels. John Dalton perfected his Theory of Relativity by 1800, and in 1816 Franz Joseph Gall proved the existence of psionics to the scientific establishment. The first man and woman set foot upon the Moon in 1820, and in 1832 Charles Babbage completed BINAC, the first electronic stored-programme computer. By the early 1850s world poverty and famine had been eradicated."

He nodded at the look of astonishment on Martha's face. "The tenets of religion held back the advancement of science on many parallels, but on Zero-Zero, without religion to hold it back, science advanced far faster. Since the early 20th century some us in Zero-Zero have been involved in the Valhalla Programme, which was created to monitor parallel worlds and observe the predicted fluctuation of historical trends. They built a massive hyper-computer called WOTAN, which was conceived as an integral part of the structure and project. WOTAN was designed to scan the continua, to correlate, analyse and display information on the status of the myriad parallel worlds. In particular, its role was to help those in the Valhalla Programme to deal with the Disruptors in other continua."

She gave him a quizzical look. "Why do I get the feeling these disruptors have a capital letter?"

He gave her a wry smile. "Probably because they loomed very large in my life for a very long time," Luther answered. "To a large extent they are responsible for me being more than human now."

"That's the story you won't tell me until we're both awake," she commented. He nodded. "So why are you here? Do I need to warn UNIT about an imminent Disruptor attack?"

"Oh, no, I completely destroyed them all some time ago. I'm here to stop the simian mechanoids."

Martha blinked at the casual way he mentioned the destruction of the Disruptors; if nothing else, it proved that this wasn't the Doctor because the Time Lord would not have been so relaxed about it: she still remembered the state he'd been in after the loss of the Dalek-Human hybrids in New York, and how she'd tried to help him. She filed that away for further thought, when she was actually awake.

"So, this healing trance, is that the reason why the doctor couldn't find any injuries on you?"

"Yes. My ability to heal myself, even from fatal injuries, is another part of my Homo Novus state."

"So, eventually people like you will put people like me out of work," Martha commented.

"But that won't happen for a long time," Luther observed. "Besides, you are more than just a doctor."

The look he gave her was so intently focused that she shifted in her chair, feeling uncomfortably like he was laying bare her soul. This close scrutiny was another difference between this man and the Doctor, and she didn't know if she could get used to it, assuming she had the chance.

"You've got a Healer's heart, but you've also got a Warrior's spirit, a Lover's passion and a Poet's soul in you." His expression was thoughtful as he spoke. "During the year that you walked the Earth all four of those elements of your nature were in perfect harmony, which allowed you to succeed in your mission to tell the story of the Doctor, and heal your world of the hurt caused by his enemy the Master. But the Lover and the Poet have become lesser to the Healer and the Warrior since that year was rewound."

She swallowed hard as his gazed focused back on her face.

"I'm sorry, Martha," he apologised, a contrite expression on his face. "I didn't mean to make you feel uncomfortable."

She shook her head, rendered momentarily speechless by his perceptive comments.

"I should let you sleep in peace," he said, "and we can talk properly in the morning."

"Okay." The last thing Martha remembered before she fell into a deep, dreamless sleep, was Luther smiling at her in a way that made her feel safe and valued, as if she was an important person in his life.

* * * * * *

Martha awoke at 5 am when one of the guards came in to say that the nurse wanted to take a look at the patient.

"Let her in, Sampson, but I doubt she'll find much wrong with him."

The private nodded, then went out and a tall, blonde nurse came in. She nodded a brisk acknowledgement to Martha, who returned the gesture as she moved over to the window to give the nurse more space.

She heard a soft exclamation of surprise behind her, and turned to see Luther looking at her, his eyes an icy blue.

"He's awake," the nurse said unnecessarily.

"Yes I am," he said, sitting up, "and ravenously hungry, if you wish to know."

"Yes sir." The nurse found herself by bobbing a curtsey before hurrying away.

"Hello Martha Jones." He held out his hands and Martha found herself going to him, allowing him to take both of her hands in his.

She cocked her head at him. "Are you using hypnotism on me?" she asked.

He grinned, laughter lines crinkling his face in an attractive manner. "Charm, actually."

"Full of yourself, aren't you?" she joked, trying to cover her nervousness.

"Maybe." He gently pulled her closer until she was standing against the edge of the bed, both of her hands clasped in his and held between their bodies. "Do you trust me?"

She shrugged one shoulder. "I think I can, but I'm not sure yet."

He nodded his understanding. "You're scared of being hurt again," he observed. "Mostly because I look quite like your Doctor, I think."

"It's pretty unnerving when you do that mind reading thing, you know?"

"I'm sorry." He looked down at their clasped hands. "I want to help you, Martha," he said softly.

"Why?" she asked. "You hardly know me."

Luther looked up again, his gaze intent, and she felt a small shiver pass through her, but she didn't know whether it was fear or desire, or both, or something else entirely.

"Actually, I know a good deal about you already, just from that conversation we had last night." He rubbed his index finger over her knuckles. "Your lively mind called out to mine, and I am intrigued by you."

Martha gave him a half smile. "You intrigue me, too," she answered shyly.

He smiled back. "Good. There are things I want to help you to learn and discover, and I want you to be more whole than you are. You will be a much better healer if you're not constantly repressing half your nature."

"Last night, you mentioned I had a poet's soul," she said, "but I've never written any poetry, and I don't even read it that often."

Luther's smile widened into a grin. "I didn't mean it quite so literally," he explained. "To have the soul of a poet makes you a good communicator, which is how you were able to spread the story of the Doctor so effectively during that rewound year."

"Oh!" She felt her face heat up in embarrassment at her mistake.

"It's okay," he assured her. "Don't feel bad."

Martha heard the door opening behind her and she quickly moved away from the bed as the same nurse came in, accompanied by a doctor; she waited by the window again as the doctor talked to Luther and the nurse made notes on his chart.

They went out after the doctor had agreed that Luther could have some breakfast and that he would be discharged this morning.

"I thought they'd never go," he said.

Martha smiled in sympathy. "I should ring Colonel Mace, and let him know the situation. Are you coming back to London with us?"

"If that's acceptable to your Colonel, yes. I daresay your science people will want to investigate the Simico Mechanismus, the simian mechanoids," he clarified, seeing her blank look.

"Oh they will," she agreed. "I'll give the Colonel a ring while you eat your breakfast."

He nodded, and Martha hurried out, her mind buzzing with ideas and speculation.

* * * * * *

Colonel Mace readily agreed to Luther's suggestion that he accompany them, and assist the scientific and technical people in investigating the mechanoids. They flew back down to London in the Hercules, and the trip down only seemed half as long as the trip up had been as Martha and the Colonel talked with Luther.

They were back at HQ by lunchtime, and Mace left Martha to look after Luther, instructing her to give him the tour after they'd eaten, then he went to make his report to the Brigadier. Martha immediately felt nervous at being left alone with Luther, not least because she was aware that he knew what she was thinking and feeling.

"Would you like me to show you how to shut me out?" he asked, a sympathetic expression in his eyes.

"No," she answered after a moment. "I'll get used to the idea."

He put a hand on her shoulder and squeezed. "Brave woman," he said softly.

"Let's go and have some lunch, and then I'll show you around," Martha suggested.

He nodded. "And I can tell you some of that promised story," he offered.

"That would be good."

She led the way to the canteen, and they settled themselves at a quiet corner table with their food.

"I was born in 1950," Luther began.

"But — Sorry, go on. I shouldn't have interrupted."

He smiled. "I don't mind interruptions," he assured her. "I welcome them, in fact, if you've got any questions or need anything clarified."

She blushed faintly. "I was going to say, you look as if you're in your mid thirties, not almost 60. It's one thing for the Doctor to look ridiculously young for his age, but you're not a Time Lord. Do Time Lords even exist on any of the other parallels?"

He shook his head. "No, I've never come across them, nor had I even heard of them before I saw the knowledge of them in your head. My looking so young is one of the side effects of my powers, outwardly I don't age as obviously as you."

"So, you were born in 1950?"

Luther nodded. "I was born on parallel 00-30-22. The parallels are numbered according to how much they differ from Zero-Zero. So parallels 00-01-00 and 00-00-01 are both flanking parallels, with only a slight degree of dissimilarity between either one of them and Zero-Zero."

"So parallel 00-30-22 is quite a lot different to Zero-Zero," Martha observed, her forkful of salad momentarily forgotten as she frowned over this information.

He smiled warmly at her. "Yes, that's correct."

"So which parallel is this Earth?"

"As far as I can determine this is parallel 00-30-92, so it's quite a lot different to Zero-Zero."

She nodded, so he continued with his story. "I am the son of a Battle of Britain ace who had been awarded the Victoria Cross. Unfortunately my mother was a Disruptor agent which means that my father had been carefully chosen to sire a child because he came from a long line of soldiers and fighters who had served their country with distinction. I was conceived as the Disruptors' ultimate weapon, and shortly after my birth I was kidnapped by Disruptor agents while both my parents were killed in a fire at the hospital."

Martha looked shocked. "That's horrible," she whispered, sympathy flaring in her dark eyes. She couldn't imagine not having both her parents around; she might not see them so often now that they were both dealing better with their experiences of being held by the Master, but they were there for her, just as she was there for them.

"I didn't know," he said. "It was several years before I found out. I spent the first fourteen years of my life living in an underground bunker where I was subjected to an intense training regime that was designed to turn me into a living weapon. At the age of fourteen, however, I first discovered my talent to subconsciously shift myself across the parallels when I took myself back to the Earth of my birth. Until then I hadn't known I could move freely between the parallels."

"Thank goodness you escaped." He could hear the relief in her voice, and feel the warmth of her emotion in her mind.

"I did, but I then spent the next six years on the run from the Disruptors, and it's possible I would have remained in hiding if I hadn't been discovered in 1970 by Rose Wylde. She was an agent of Zero-Zero, and another anomaly of the parallel worlds as many of the different versions of her across the multiverse are telepaths, and are therefore empathically linked to one another."

Luther reached across the table and touched her hand. "It might make you feel uncomfortable to hear this, since your Doctor friend, who I look like, also had a companion called Rose, but Rose Wylde and I became romantically involved."

Martha shrugged. "I'm not jealous of her any more," she said.

He tilted his head, looking at her thoughtfully. "You are, just a little," he said softly, "I can sense that your feelings about her changed recently, after the two of you met, but there's still a tiny sliver of jealousy there. You fear that you will always stand in her shadow, no matter what you do for the Doctor."

She stared down at her almost empty plate, feeling embarrassed that he'd caught her out in a lie. She had thought that she was over that irrational feeling because she knew that the Doctor knew that she was good, and that she would do all she could to defend the Earth.

Luther slid a finger under her chin and lifted her face to his, cupping her left cheek in his right hand. "It's okay, Martha. Your feelings are understandable, and the fact that you still feel that way shows that the Doctor still hasn't properly addressed the matter with you, which is his error, not yours."

After a few moments she nodded, and seeing that he'd also finished eating, she suggested that they begin the tour of the HQ that Mace had suggested.

"I'd like to see where you work," he said promptly.

"Okay. I've got an office and a lab near the Infirmary, so we'll start there."

As they moved through the corridors of the base, heading towards the area where she worked, Martha was acutely aware of the sidelong looks that Luther earned.

"They can't help staring," she told him, "it's because you look like the Doctor."

"It's okay," he assured her. "I get stared at quite often." Seeing her own sidelong glance, he clarified. "I'm a decorated soldier, war hero, whatever you might want to call it, on many parallels."

She nodded her understanding, then used her ID card to let them into the Sullivan Wing. "The Infirmary is through those doors," she told him, pointing across the corridor, "and this is my office."

He slipped through the door she held open for him, then waited for her to step past him into the room.

"It's just an average sort of office," Martha said.

Luther stood in the middle of the room, gazing around at the shelves of books that covered two of the walls, the large desk with its desktop and laptop computers, and the window that looked out onto a small flower garden. Then he focused his gaze back on Martha, who was watching him with undisguised curiosity as she leaned against the edge of her desk.

"Tell me about the Doctor," he invited.

She tilted her head, looking slightly surprised by his request. "I thought you could get all the information you wanted from reading my mind?"

He nodded. "I could, of course, but it would be a bit rude."

She gestured to the chair beside her desk. "Take a seat."

He slipped into it, shedding his leather jacket and hanging it on the back of the chair, then gave her an expectant look as she settled in her own chair.

"I was a medical student based at the Royal Hope Hospital on the day I met the Doctor," she began, explaining how the Time Lord had disguised himself as a patient in order to investigate odd goings-on at the hospital, then how the Judoon had transported the hospital to the Moon and all that had followed from their arrival in search of a criminal.

As she spoke, Martha was reminded of her storytelling sessions on her journey across the Earth, seeing Luther listening with such an attentive expression on his face. She got the sense that he was drinking in her every word, but that at the same time he was reading her feelings about the Doctor, both how she had felt at that exhilarating first meeting, and how she felt now. In some ways it scared her that Luther knew exactly how she felt about the Time Lord, but in other ways it was a relief that someone else did know. She'd wanted to talk to Jack about the Doctor, but whenever they'd met recently there had never been a good time for such a conversation.

There was something about Luther that spoke of trust; it seemed uncanny that she should feel she could trust him, even before she hardly knew anything about him, and she wondered why she did. Somehow she didn't feel that it was just the fact that he looked like the Doctor, and she wondered if it was the aura of calm that she sensed surrounding him.

"Thank you for sharing that with me," he said softly when she had finished her narrative.

Martha inclined her head. "Thank you for listening."

"Do you want to show me your lab now?" he asked, and she nodded again, then got to her feet. He stood up too, and gently squeezed her shoulder as she passed him.

She led the way next door and they found three white coated people gathered around a bench at one end of the long room, poring over one of the simian mechanoids.

"What can you tell us about these creatures?" Martha asked as they joined the group at the bench.

"Not much, I'm afraid," he answered ruefully. "I followed them here across four parallels."

"Why did you follow them?"

"I sensed them before I saw them, and their auras were full of malevolence." He looked down at the mechanoid, an expression of distaste on his face.

"Can we expect more of them?" Martha asked. "Should I be recommending to my superiors that UNIT posts soldiers in Bonnybridge?"

Luther looked up at her concerned expression. "I don't think there will be any more," he answered, "but of course, I can't guarantee that." He looked thoughtful for a moment. "I could go and investigate the parallel from which they originated, though, and see if I can establish their mission."

She gave him a hopeful look. "I don't want to impose on you," she began, "but if you could try to find out it would make things easier for us."

He nodded. "Let's go back to your office," he said quietly.

They moved next door again, and Luther gave her a smile. "To travel between the parallels, I phase from one dimension to the next," he told her. "I thought it would give rise to less comment if I did it from here."

"Yes, of course."

"I don't know how long I'll be gone," he warned her, "but I will be back, that's a promise."

Martha nodded. "Okay."

He dipped his head to place a light kiss on her forehead, feeling her shiver in response, then he stepped back and moved himself through the parallels. To Martha, it was like watching the TARDIS dematerialising, but without all the wheezing and groaning of the ship's ancient engines. Somehow her office seemed emptier without him, and she immediately scolded herself.

"Don't go getting attached," she told herself as she sat down at her desk to apprise Colonel Mace of Luther's departure to investigate the simian mechanoids. It would, she felt, be foolish in the extreme for her to get attached to Luther, especially since he'd already made it clear that there was someone in his life.

* * * * * *

Two days later

Initially Martha had expected Luther to return within a few hours, but once he'd been gone for 24 she accepted that he could be gone for days or weeks, and she stopped wondering when he would return. Instead, she concentrated on learning as much as possible about the mechanoids, working with a team of scientists to dismantle the mechanics of one of the simian creatures, then examining the organic remains.

She was in her office, completing her final report on their findings, when she sensed someone else in the room with her. Looking up she was just in time to see Luther phasing into existence a few feet away from her desk, and she got up quickly seeing how weary he looked.

"Are you okay?" she asked, taking hold of his arm and guiding him into the other chair.

He nodded. "Just tired," he answered, pushing his hair off his face.

"Do you want some coffee?"

"No, thank you. I would like to meditate, though."

Martha looked slightly surprised. "Do you want me to go away?" she asked.

He shook his head, wincing slightly, and lifted his hand to rub the side of his neck, then hissed when that movement also hurt.

"You don't need to go away," he assured her, "I can meditate in the corner, if it's not an inconvenience, then I'll fill you in on what I discovered."

"It's not an inconvenience," she said quickly. "I've got to go to a meeting in about ten minutes anyway, and you'll be on your own for about half an hour after that."

"Thank you." He smiled at her as he got up and moved over to the corner of the office nearest the window. Once there he sat cross-legged on the carpet and closed his eyes, then opened them again. "I forgot to say, you don't need to worry about seeing any more of the simian mechanoids. I destroyed them."

She hoped she didn't look too shocked by this news. "Thank you, I'll let Colonel Mace know," she answered, then resolutely turned her attention back to finishing her report before her meeting.

* * * * * *

When Martha returned from her meeting she found Luther leaning against the edge of the window frame, his white-blond hair shining in the late afternoon sun, as he gazed out on the flower garden outside.

He looked round at her and smiled, looking so pleased to see her that she suddenly felt a little dizzy; it had been a long time since anyone had looked at her that way.

"Are you feeling better?" she asked, setting her mug of coffee down on her desk and avoiding his gaze: she'd suddenly remembered that he'd be able to read her mind and was feeling embarrassed at her reaction to his smile.

"Yes, thank you," he answered, startling her as he'd moved behind her without her realising.

"Colonel Mace was relieved to hear we don't need to worry about any more visits from the simian mechanoids," she said. She started when she felt his hand in the small of her back.

"Martha." His voice was soft and her name was like a caress against her skin.

"Luther?" She cursed mentally that her voice wasn't steadier.

"I missed you." He smiled when she looked up, startled by his admission.

"I missed you too," she said simply. She had tried not to miss him, telling herself it was ridiculous when she barely knew him, but she might just as well have talked to the wall for all the notice she had taken of her own strictures.

"Now I'm back, I want to start teaching you how to develop your telepathy, and how to become more whole."

"Is that a good idea?" Martha asked, trying to ignore the way he was stroking small circles on her back.

"Do you think it's a bad idea?" he countered.

"Maybe," she answered, retreating to her chair and sitting down. "You must know how I'm feeling about you. You've already made it clear that you have someone in your life, and I'm quite sure you won't be settling down here. I've already got one complicated relationship in my life, I don't really need to add a second."

She knew she was being harsh when he'd shown only kindness to her, but she was scared of being hurt, especially by someone who looked like the Doctor.

Luther surprised her by crouching down beside her chair, placing his hand on her arm. "I don't want to hurt you," he said quietly. "I want to teach you, and help you to develop your potential. You have so much potential here," he placed his hand between her breasts, "and here," he moved his hand to her forehead. "Your heart and mind chakras are not fully open, but if they were, you'd be a formidable woman."

"Chakras?" Martha asked. "Isn't that something to do with one of the Eastern philosophies?"

He nodded. "I follow the path of Tantra. There are seven Chakras: crown, forehead, throat, heart, solar plexus, sacral and base." He gestured to their locations starting with the top of his head and moving down his body.

He smiled, seeing her interest was piqued. "I can teach you about this as a means of teaching you wholeness and how to unlock your telepathic ability." He slid his hand into hers. "What do you say, Dr Jones? Would you like to go on a journey of discovery with me?"

She swallowed, then nodded. "Yes, please."

"Good." He leant forward and kissed her forehead. "We'll begin this evening."

* * * * * *

Two hours later

Martha unlocked the door of her flat and led Luther inside. They'd barely spoken on the drive from UNIT HQ, and she'd been grateful that he'd understood that she was still processing her decision to allow him into her life. She had no idea where this was going to go, and although that thought was exciting, it was also quite scary. Since Tom had been killed by the Daleks a few months ago she'd become closed off to the idea of relationships. It wasn't that she'd been grief-stricken about his death, since she'd hardly seen him anyway once they'd got engaged, it was just that it somehow seemed easier not to get involved. She'd felt guilty about her lack of grief over Tom's death, and knew her mother was worried that she was in denial, but she didn't dare tell Francine that while she mourned Tom's death as yet another unnecessary loss to the Daleks, she didn't really mourn his loss as her fiancé.

It didn't help that she was feeling conflicted again about her relationship with the Doctor: seeing him and Rose together had stirred things up somewhat in a way that seeing him and Donna had not. Knowing that he had sent his human counterpart to be with Rose in that other universe hadn't helped either: a small part of her had wondered why he couldn't stay here, travelling with the Doctor (and an even smaller, barely acknowledged, part of her had wondered why Rose had got to have him with her). She was trying to be grown up about it all, but it wasn't easy.

Now Luther had entered her life, looking very like the Doctor, but such a demonstrably different man; he was calmer, more focused, and far more open about his feelings than the Doctor had ever been, and it was a little disconcerting at times.

"Do you want to eat before we meditate or after?" Martha asked as she hung up her coat, then put Luther's on the hook next to hers.

"Before," he said. "Can I make a suggestion?"

She raised an eyebrow at him in mute enquiry.

"Why don't you go and have a bath or shower, and I'll prepare dinner, then you'll be more relaxed once we're ready to meditate."

"Okay." She put her laptop down on the hall table, then led the way into the kitchen to show Luther where everything was kept, before going to have a bath.

When she returned a while later the kitchen was full of the scent of stir-fried food and he was just about ready to serve up.

"Feeling better?" he asked as he began filling their plates.

"Yes, thank you. This looks good," she observed.

"Thank you. Hopefully it will taste good too."

It tasted very good, Martha quickly discovered, and she did her best not to bolt it. They made small talk about food while they ate and washed up afterwards.

"Do you have any candles?" Luther asked.

"Yes, I think there are a couple in one the cupboards, left over from a party."

"Could we use them?"

Martha nodded, and went to look in the cupboard. "Here you go," she said, holding out three fat blue candles in glass holders.

"Perfect." He smiled, then took her hand and led her into the sitting room. He set the candles down on the coffee table and lit them, producing a lighter from the pocket of his trousers.

"Since you're new to this, I suggest you sit on the floor with your back against the sofa to give you some support."

He waited while she settled into place, then he sat down opposite her in the lotus position. "I think, since you've not meditated before, that you might find it easiest to use a mantra meditation, which entails repeating a single word or short phrase to yourself. You might find it helps to focus your attention on the candle. Don't worry if your mind starts wandering, that's not unusual when someone is beginning to meditate for the first time. Just bring your focus back to the mantra and try to think only of it and nothing else."

He reached out and brushed a loose strand of hair behind her ear. "I think you might find it helpful to use the word 'peace' as your mantra because you're not feeling very peaceful at the moment. Try saying it to yourself as you breathe out."

"Okay. Do I say it aloud or silently?"

"Whichever you find easiest," he answered. "I can still meditate effectively even if you say your mantra aloud."

"How long are we going to do this for, half an hour?"

Luther smiled. "No, just ten minutes for now. You can build up to a longer period of meditation once you've had some practise."

"Okay." Martha focused on the flame of the candle and began to repeat the word 'peace' in her head. She felt a bit silly, but she was willing to persevere, particularly since she had noticed that Luther had looked a lot less tired and a lot calmer when she'd seen him after her meeting than he had before he'd meditated.

As the minutes passed she felt less self-conscious and became less aware of Luther's presence in the room, and more conscious of her own breathing, and the fall and rise of her chest as her lungs worked. When, at the end of the ten minutes, he spoke her name she felt as if she was a long way off and that it was an effort to focus on him instead.

"How do you feel?" he asked quietly, reaching out to cup her cheek with one slender fingered hand.

"Very relaxed," she answered, "and even a bit sleepy."

He smiled gently. "I'm glad that you're feeling relaxed, because that makes it easier for us to try the next thing."

She gave him a quizzical look. "What's the next thing?"

"Trying to unlock your telepathic ability," he answered.

"How do we do that?"

"We'll start by unlocking your forehead chakra, and to do that I need to teach you how to move your energy there. Lie flat on your back, on cushions if you prefer."

He waited while Martha moved around and stretched out on her back. "Now rest your arms by your sides, with the palms facing upwards, then bend your knees and put your feet flat on the floor, the same distance apart as your hips."

She shuffled her feet and bent up her knees. "Here?" she asked.

Luther took her feet and gently moved them slightly closer together. "Now relax your jaw and shoulders, and lengthen your neck." He smiled at her as she stretched her neck and she gave him a shy smile back. "Good. Now, keep your neck relaxed and lift your pelvis from the floor and begin to bounce it up and down."

"Do what?" she asked, jerking her head upwards to look at him.

"Bounce your pelvis," he answered patiently. "It's called Kundalini Shaking in Tantra."

She muttered something indistinguishable under her breath, then lifted her pelvis up, before lowering it down again.

"That's it," he encouraged. "Just a bit faster."

She gave him a puzzled look, but picked up the speed of her movements. "This feels far sillier than the meditating did," she commented.

"I can understand that," he answered, "but persevere for a few minutes."

To her surprise, Martha found that after a couple of minutes it didn't seem to be an effort, and it was almost as if her body had taken over the rhythm without any conscious decision on her part.

"That's it," Luther said quietly. "You're charging your body with energy, now imagine it moving up towards your head — visualise a point of light travelling upwards from your pelvis, through your solar plexus, then your heart, then your throat until it reaches your forehead." He traced the path he described with his right hand, not quite touching her body, until he reached the middle of her forehead.

"The energy stops here," he said, his voice still soft, "in your third eye, and if we're lucky, your third eye will open on the first attempt," and I can talk to you telepathically, and you will hear me.

He saw her eyes widen in surprise and smiled. Can you hear me? he asked.

"Yes," she breathed.

"Good." Now see if you can answer telepathically. Imagine a line of golden light that links your third eye with my third eye, and try to send words back along it, as if it was a phone line.

Luther?

Yes, Martha, I can hear you.

"Oh god!" She exclaimed aloud, startled and amazed, and he saw tears spring to her eyes.

"Well done." He lay down beside her, putting his right hand on her forehead, and then down over her heart chakra, and she instinctively reached up to clasp his right hand with hers.

"That's an excellent start," he told her, squeezing her fingers in his, then sliding his other arm under her shoulders to pull her body against his. She curled into his side, her body trembling, and he knew she was crying.

"Shh, shh, it's okay Martha." His voice was low and soothing, and he rubbed her back gently.

After she stopped crying, he helped her to sit up, and they moved onto the sofa from the floor, Luther wrapping his left arm around her shoulders.

"Okay?" he asked.

"Yeah." She kept her eyes down and he sensed her embarrassment.

"Hey," he said, lifting her chin so he could look her in the eye. "It's okay, you don't have to be embarrassed about crying. It's a perfectly normal response to something that is more than a little overwhelming."

"It's just — that was pretty intense," she said, trying to find the words to express how amazing and different it had felt.

"I know. You'll have to practise with me until you can make that telepathic link without doing the Kundalini Shaking first, but for a first step, that was a really good start." He brushed his lips against her forehead. "Now, I suggest you don't do too much else this evening, read a book, or watch a bit of undemanding TV, and then get an early night."

"Okay." She moved away from his embrace to pick up the television remote control and turned the set on. "I don't know what's on at this time of the evening," she commented. "I don't tend to put the TV on until about 10 pm, for the news."

"Have you got a DVD, a comedy would be best?"

"Yeah." Martha got up and moved over to the cupboard below the bookshelf along the far wall of the sitting room and opened it to reveal neatly stacked DVDs. She took a box out and slipped a disc into the DVD player that sat below the television.

"Morecambe and Wise," she told him as she sat next to him again. "I bought this in a fit of childhood nostalgia."

"That sounds quite reasonable to me," he answered with a soft laugh.

* * * * * *

Three weeks later

Luther went to work with Martha every day, and made himself so useful in a variety of ways that Colonel Mace never thought to wonder why he was still hanging around when the threat from the simian mechanoids was long gone. In the meantime Martha continued to work on learning meditation techniques, doing breathing exercises, and on mastering her telepathic ability. She was starting to feel more relaxed and less anxious as a result of the meditation, and more than one person noticed the change in her demeanour; most put it down to her relationship with Luther, although no one commented on the fact since everyone knew she had only recently lost her fiancé. She would have been surprised if she knew that a few people assumed that she and Luther had become lovers: although she was attracted to him, she had firmly pushed those thoughts aside, and tried to think of him only as a good friend.

They got home earlier than usual one evening and while Martha went to shower, Luther cooked dinner; their routine in this matter never varied since he preferred to shower first thing in the morning, and he liked cooking. Martha wasn't a great cook, as she was the first to admit, so this suited them both well. They ate and washed up, talking about work things and what they might do at the weekend.

"I'd like to do something different this evening," he told her as he dried his hands after washing up.

"Oh?"

"I thought we might try some massage for a change."

"Well a back massage would be nice," she agreed.

"That wasn't quite what I had in mind," he said, glancing away.

Martha tilted her head and looked at him more closely. "If I didn't know better, I'd say you were feeling embarrassed or something."

"Well, what I was thinking was rather more intimate," Luther answered.

"More intimate?" she asked, puzzled.

"Let's go and sit down in the other room, shall we?" he suggested.

They moved into the sitting room and settled on the sofa, where she gave him an expectant look.

"I'm very attracted to you," he said, "and I know you're attracted to me. I don't know if you realise it, but Tantra is used by a lot of people to enhance their sex lives."

Martha felt her face heat up. "I did know, actually," she answered quietly. "I did some research. I just didn't think you were interested in me since you've got Rose in your life."

"Rose isn't my only lover," Luther said.

She looked up, surprised by this revelation. "She's not?"

"No. I've had two other lovers at the same time as Rose." He stroked a finger over her wrist. "I don't have your notions about sex and sexuality, so I'm quite open to having more than one lover at a time." He smiled suddenly. "I think you'd like Octobriana — she's very fierce, but a very strong woman."

"I don't know," Martha said, getting up and moving across the room to the window. "I think I'd feel a bit odd about becoming involved with you, knowing that Rose has no idea about me."

"I don't think that's your real objection," he said, moving to stand behind her. "I think it's because you're scared of being hurt again." He rubbed the nape of her neck with his thumb, his fingers resting against the side of her neck. "You must know that we always lose the things we love, that's what part of love is."

She sighed softly. "I am scared of getting hurt," she admitted.

"And your fear is blocking your heart chakra." Luther's thumb continued to rub the back of her neck. "I want to see the Lover that's in you," he said softly. "You've so much passion inside you, but I want to see it come out."

She sighed again, leaning back against his body. She didn't object when he slipped his free arm around her body, then ducked his head to softly kiss the side of her neck.

"What do you say?" he asked quietly.

"Yes."

"Thank you." He turned her around in his arms and gently kissed her on the mouth. Then he took her by the hand and led her to her bedroom. "May I undress you?" he asked.

Martha nodded and stood still while he removed each item of clothing, kissing her shoulders, her stomach, and then her thighs as he bared her flesh until she was only wearing her underwear. Then he slipped out of his own clothes, only leaving on his boxers.

"What I've got in mind is a Yoni massage," he told her, leading her over to the bed to sit down.

"What's that?"

"Well your Yoni, which is a Sanskrit word loosely translated as 'sacred space', is the word used in Tantra for your vagina."

She stared at him, open mouthed. "You want to massage my vagina?" she asked, feeling a blush heating her face.

"Yes, if that's okay with you." He reached up and stroked her cheek with his thumb. "It's a very sensual massage, but it isn't actually about sex, it's about building trust and intimacy between two people."

"Okay. Do we have to do anything special for this?" She wondered if she sounded as nervous as she felt, then realised Luther would know anyway.

"Well, I did think that I might give you a shave," he said. "Your responses will be heightened that way."

Martha swallowed, then nodded. "All right."

"Good." He led her into the bathroom. "Where's your razor?"

She took it from the cupboard in the corner and handed it to him, together with the shaving cream, then waited with her eyes closed while he slipped off her bra and knickers.

"You are such a beautiful woman," he whispered, kissing her briefly before kneeling at her feet to shave her.

"I've never been shaved there before," she said quietly, aware that she was blushing again.

He smiled up at her. "There's a first time for everything," he told her, wielding the razor with quick, effective strokes.

Once Martha's skin was bare of any curls, he got up again. "Why don't you have a quick wash there," he suggested, "make sure that you're completely clean, and I'll go and set up the bedroom. Put your robe on before you come in."

She nodded, and he cupped her face in his hands. "You don't have to be nervous," he assured her. "I promise you'll enjoy this." He gave her another quick kiss, then left her to sort out candles, pillows and some music.

* * * * * *

"Are you ready?" asked Luther, his voice soft in Martha's ear as she stood in the doorway of her bedroom, which was now lit by blue and lavender coloured candles; there was a faint scent of Jasmine in the air, and a CD was playing in the background.

"I think so," she answered.

He brushed his lips against the side of her neck. "Go and make yourself comfortable then."

He nodded at her bed and she walked over, slipping off her bathrobe and dropping it onto the chair. He watched as she sat down on the edge of the bed, then swung her legs up and around to lie down before moving to the bedside.

Martha settled on her back, sliding a towel-covered pillow under her hips as Luther advised, and arranging two more under her head so that she could see him and her own lower body. He knelt on the bed by her feet and gently spread her legs, sliding pillows under her knees, then moved between her legs.

"Let's begin with the breathing exercise I taught you," he said, and she nodded, then closed her eyes and began to take deep, even breaths from her belly; Martha could hear Luther breathing and quickly noticed that he was keeping pace with her, so that they were breathing together.

As she began to relax, she opened her eyes and watched his hands on her legs, gently massaging her ankles and calves; then he moved to her thighs and she felt her muscles jump involuntarily when he touched her there.

He gave her a serene smile. "Deep, even breaths, remember," he reminded her in a soft voice and she gave a small nod, as his hands moved up across her ribcage to her breasts. Then his hands drifted back down her body to stroke her thighs again, before he picked up the bottle of massage oil he'd warmed and left on the bedside table while she was in the bathroom.

"Ready?" he asked.

"Yes," she sighed, relaxed already by his touches, even as her arousal began to build.

He poured a small amount of the oil onto her mound, just enough for it to drip down onto the outer lips of her sex, and she gasped slightly at the sensation, her eyes widening in reaction.

Martha noticed that at some point he'd changed position so that he was sitting cross-legged between her legs, but she could still see the bulge of his semi-erect cock through the material of his boxers.

She watched as Luther began massaging her mound and labia majora; his fingers were firm but gentle, applying just the right amount of pressure as they stroked across her newly shaved skin. His gaze was firm and direct as he watched her watching him, and she couldn't help reaching out to him telepathically as he had been teaching her.

That feels nice, she told him.

He smiled, his teeth as white as his hair. Good. And so does that, he replied. Aloud he said, "Tell me if you want more, or less."

He took one outer lip between his thumb and index finger and squeezed gently, sliding his fingers up and down the lip, before doing the same with the other.

Martha moaned lightly and Luther's smile broadened as he moved his fingers inwards and he began squeezing the inner lips of her sex. He was using both hands now, she noticed, his strokes evenly matched on either side of her opening.

"Okay?" he asked.

"Oh yes," she sighed, aware of her arousal building in intensity.

He smirked slightly as he moved his right hand inward and began stroking her clit in clockwise and anti-clockwise circles; Martha's hips bucked up off the bed and she gasped his name as she came.

"I love a sensitive woman," he told her. "Remember to keep breathing, though."

"I — unh — " For a moment she couldn't speak as a second orgasm washed through her body, then she gasped as he slid his middle finger into her pussy and she came a third time.

The Yoni, he reminded her, silently, not the pussy or the cunt. Your sacred space.

I remember, she answered, less breathless as she spoke mind to mind.

He smiled again, as he began to stroke inside her with his middle finger, adding a second finger after a time, then beginning to rub her clit with the pad of his thumb.

"Luther!" she gasped as yet another orgasm overtook her.

"Too much?" he asked, slowing, but not stopping, his strokes.

"I — no — not too much," she answered, trying to breathe evenly still. She remembered him telling her about 'riding the wave', when one orgasm quickly followed on from another, in response to the massage.

"Good." He moved his left hand up off the bed, where it had been resting, and began to massage her abdomen, then her breasts, even as his right hand worked inside her Yoni. As soon as his hand touched her left breast she felt yet another orgasm, and realised that she had lost count of how many times he'd brought her to a climax.

Five, he told her, grinning when her eyes widened in astonishment.

Five? she asked, disbelievingly.

He nodded. "Let's make it six, shall we?" he suggested.

Martha managed to nod in response, then groaned as she felt another, even more intense, orgasm. Luther slipped his fingers out of her, then bent down and gently licked up the length of her entrance, before moving to her side. He moved the pillows from under her legs and hips, dropping them onto the floor beside the bed, then lay down next to her, on his side.

"I think you enjoyed that," he said quietly as she rolled onto her side and he pulled her close so that she could feel his hardness against her mound.

"I did, thank you." She draped her right leg over his hip, pressing her body more firmly against his erection. "Is it your turn now?"

"Not yet," he answered, his hands stroking up and down her back. "I can wait, and you should relax. This isn't about sex, remember, it's about trust. I won't feel cheated if you don't give me 'a turn'."

Martha gave him a doubtful look, and he ducked his head to kiss her gently. I'm telling you the truth, he assured her as his tongue slipped into her mouth. We agreed that we would be honest. I know you feel that you should return the favour, but that isn't what the Tantra is about. You have to learn to let go of your Western notions of these things. I know it's not easy, but you're still fairly young so it shouldn't be too engrained yet. And learning it will be fun.

I'll try, she answered.

"That's all I ask," he said aloud. "What I'd most like to do with you right now is sleep, if that's okay?"

"Mmm-hmm."

He smiled, noticing that for all her eagerness to give him a massage, she sounded sleepy now. He kissed her forehead, then reached out a long arm to grab the duvet and pull it over them both. A few moments later Martha was fast asleep in his arms, and he was dozing lightly.