Except normal rules don't seem to apply to the Doctor.
He acts too quickly for Martha to see it as a real conscious choice and he always, always puts himself between the danger and the rest of them. As if automatically, as if without thought, as if by instinct.
Except she knows he must think about it.
The first time she met him, the day of the moon, the Judoon, the horrifying harmless face of that little old woman with her straw, he must have thought about it.
Kissed her, having already decided, knowing traces of his DNA would delay the Judoon, knowing that absorbing his blood would expose the plasmavore to their scanner. Went straight to her with the intention of letting her do exactly that. Of actively tricking her into doing so.
Ran towards a carefully calculated death.
Martha hadn't realised it then as she looked down in shock on his pale, still face that this was not as unusual as it seemed. She had been amazed, and upset by the sacrifice, upset to see that likeable, manic energy stopped after such a short time. So relieved to have been able to bring him back — desperate gasping CPR, her first for real, and so much more tiring than expected.
Would she have set off with him if she'd know then that the day's events were far from atypical? She's not sure.
They travel to the past together. A theatre, Elizabethan England and the wonder and the delight of that, but again the danger. Again she watches as he steps into it. Faces the first witch, as the others look away, but falls to the second.
Again she finds him on the floor, motionless, then gasping in pain and confusion as he rouses. Again she finds herself fighting to restart his stopped heart.
This time he shrugs it off even quicker -- bounces back to his feet as if every was instantly fine again. As if the pain had never happened.
He looked more distraught at the death of the alien Boe, than he ever did at the risks he ran himself, and only after that did Martha find out how he looked when he was truly hurting and it wasn't injury or attacks that brought this pain but a loss he can still barely stand to give words to. And this wound there's nothing she can do to ease.
So she knows, when she hears the name 'Dalek' in the tunnels below Manhattan what that means to him. She watches him closely, suspecting that his usual headlong rush to stand in the line of fire is more reckless than usual.
And she watches him as he is confronted by another man who steps forward to stand between the people he had chosen to protect and the Daleks. Watches him, watching Solomon. Watches the anguished knowledge on his face, his certainty that the man will die for it.
She wonders why he doesn't stop him. Why he watches. What he recognises in him. Realises that the Doctor doesn't stop Solomon for all the reasons, that he would never let her dissuade or stop him.
She tries anyway of course, after Solomon is shot down, after the Doctor stands screaming at the Daleks to kill him as well. When he goes with them.
She tries to stop him.
She knows she never will.
So she knows after the lightening strike that it wouldn't have deterred him, that he would not have stepped aside for it, that he wouldn't have stopped in his efforts to remove the dalekanium up there. So she runs.
Again (and it's starting to hurt by now, now she know him, now that she cares) again she finds him unconscious, limp on the edge of the high rise, hand dangling over open air and only sheer chance having spared him the few extra feet that would have sent him over the edge.
And again he wakes bleary eyed, hurt. Again he shrugs it off and is quickly running back into the most dangerous place he can think of, luring his enemies towards him.
Again he stands before them, demanding, ordering them to kill him. Martha finds she cannot look, turns away, until realisation comes, that they have not. That he put something of himself into them. And realisation as well that he hadn't merely failed to get out of the way of the lightning strike, he had stepped up to that as well.
"I got in the way."
He says it himself. As if it were the most obvious thing in the world. As if it hadn't hurt at all.
And his shout of fury and horror as the hybrids die is worse than any Martha can imagine he must have given on the mast, standing under the lightning.
The only time she sees him honestly surprised at a blow, is the almighty slap her own mother gives him. His dismay is so comical she almost laughs, except that her mother's fury and fear for her is almost too much to look at.
Because now she knows why. She's seen the life the Doctor leads. He steps into harm's way to protect those around him but they die anyway. And she knows what her mother is afraid of, and sometimes she looks at the Doctor and she sees it there too.
They're both afraid that one day, the person he fails to save will be her.
And on the Pentallion she thinks that day has come. She watches as the pod drifts away, watches him calling to her. Face pressed against the panel.
She doesn't know what he did to pull the pod back. Knows that whatever it was, it was that that exposed him to the sun creature, that let it inside, to grow in him.
She does know instantly that something's wrong. He doesn't greet her at the airlock, he's falling, crawling away, pressing blindly up against the bulkhead, eyes squeezed shut, unable to even sit upright unsupported. Shaking and half incoherent with pain and raging over what had been done to the creature that was burning him.
This time Martha doesn't look away. She doesn't argue when he tells her what must be done. Doesn't tell him it's too dangerous.
She cringes inside at the sight of him on his knees, reaching out to her. Desperate. Hurting. And for the first time she can remember seeing — frightened.
She doesn't argue. Doesn't let him argue either. Hushes him when he admits that fear, cuts him off and refuses to discuss the possibility of his death. Disentangles his shaking hands from hers and ignores his croaked out "No" when she asks if he's ready. Sends him into the machine and watches.
Watches. Watches the dials, and watches him and listens to the awful screaming because there's no other option and now she sees that he never does consider that there's any other option.
It's her hand on the controls that is making him scream now, her hand that might be killing him, but there's no other option, and she understands for the first time how truly he believes that some things are worse than dying.
He stepped out into this creature's sunlight to get her back and he would not survive — not as himself — if it made him kill her.
It doesn't seem to make a difference to him how many or how few the people he chooses to protect are. Martha realised that after the chameleon arch and the understanding that he hid as much to avoid having to kill his pursuers as he did to protect her and those around them.
Martha loathes that device. She thought she'd seen the worse on the Pentallion, didn't think that any sound could be worse than the rasping cries of pain as the Doctor fought to maintain control of his own body.
But this is worse. Because the chameleon arch is indeed changing his whole body, more thoroughly than the sun creature could ever had done and he is completely lost to it. Screaming so hysterically that he can hardly breathe, his voice breaking into ragged, choking cries. Shaking and twisting in the grip of the thing. At one point he clutches at the bands that surround his head as though to tear them off. Martha half starts forward to stop him, fearing what a half finished process would leave him as, but he doesn't seem to be able to remove it anyway and just claws at it, still shrieking.
Tears rise in Martha's eyes but she doesn't look away. Not any more. He choose this. He chooses every time and all she can do is watch because if she stopped him — if she could stop him, he wouldn't be who he is.
And she knows now why he didn't stop Solomon in front of the Daleks, and she know that he will keep on stepping into the line of fire, into harm's way, between the innocent and the monsters.
And she wonders how long it can last.
And she wonders how long she can watch.
And after he returns to the TARDIS, himself once more, and tells her what Joan had said, about the deaths his presence there had caused, Martha wonders how long it will be before one of the casualties is too close to home for her to stay.