Stages of Transplant
by Camilla Sandman
Summary: He never replaces them. He just always finds someone new.
Disclaimer: BBC's characters. My words.
Author's Notes: For teffy
in the Martha ficathon. She wanted: I'd like the Doctor to not be pining away for Rose, but not have totally forgotten about her either. I would want a fic where the way he felt about Rose plays a part in the way he treats Martha at first.
I have tried my best. The seven stages of transplant are as defined by some hospitals. Variations certainly occur. Engraftment in this case refers to new cell growth.
Some references to the 2005 and 2006 series. Will almost certainly be made AU by the 2007 series. Thanks to Saz for beta.
The TARDIS is never silent, but it can still be an unfulfilling conversation partner and the Doctor finds himself lapsing into silence more than he used to. It is perhaps a sort of grief, but he's grieved enough for thirteen lifetimes long before this. He won't forget, because he never does, but that doesn't mean he needs to fill his mind with it.
It's always silent after, he thinks. Always, even in the roar.
He likes noise. Likes his gob, and he's getting poor use of it. Likes someone he can be brilliant to. Likes someone who's brightness, energy and voice, matching his own.
Not a replacement for Rose, no. He's never replaced any of them. Time doesn't replace what it kills, only brings new life, and he is ever time's tango partner. He never replaces them. He just always finds someone new and he thinks about it in the silence, the TARDIS humming with the future in his ear.
He sees Martha Jones for the first time in a hospital, and she reminds him so much of someone else that he wonders if time does replacing after all. But likeness in body is not likeness in mind, as he knows very well. He's never been human for all he looks like one. Time doesn't replace, but it can imitate.
Martha Jones. He considers, watches, evaluates, as he always does and yet pretends it is all random, because he's not supposed to be following rules. Not even his own.
She's smart. She's brave. She snaps more and at first look at him as if he's the nurse and she's the doctor and he finds it oddly attractive. Even when he tells her he's the Doctor, she looks unimpressed.
He doesn't take her hand and tell her to run, because it feels too much like the beginning of something else. Maybe it's time to do something new. Maybe it's time to be radically different.
"I love you," he tells her instead, because he will, because he does, because love is so many things and because he should've said it at another end.
"I don't," she says after a moment. "Thanks... Weird-alien-Doctor-thing."
"Doctor will do," he replies. "Thing is only for Sundays and inspiring hit Hollywood horror films."
She shakes her head, even if a smile tugs at her lips. "I bet you're one of those blokes who thinks everyone finds him really funny."
"They do. I am," he replies merrily, and tells her the best jokes of the Uglacian Laughing Empire until she does laugh and he wonders if he'll have to constantly prove himself to her. Doctors have a habit of wanting to run tests before making a diagnosis, after all. He knows it. He's found his own.
Playing the fool is much better than being the fool, after all.
The first time he takes her in the TARDIS, she looks more annoyed than anything, as if it's his fault she has to re-adjust her perception of time and space. She asks enough questions to make even him feel his mouth go dry from yapping on, and eventually, he just snogs her. It surprises him that he does, and seem to surprise her that he does too. Her lips are parted, her tongue pushing against her lower lip, and he draws his own tongue across both, marvelling at how many different textures there are to flesh.
"You always snog strangers?" she asks, sounding more curious than offended as she takes a step back.
"No," he says, and remembers. "Not always. This time."
"This time," she repeats, crossing her arms. "Anything else you'll be doing 'this time' and not always?"
"Maybe," he says, and likes the unknown.
"I want to go with you," Martha says, gesturing at the TARDIS a bit like it's a ticket dispenser and she'd like 'a trip to all of time and space, open return, please'.
She looks at him as if he's daft. "You can go anywhere. I can go anywhere with you. I can learn anything."
She's very fond of proving herself in words, he thinks. Still a mind of textbooks. Still a mind with ambition, wanting to go far. He'll butt heads with her, already has, because she's fond of sticking hers out.
"You don't like nonsense," he informs her, and she gives him another one of her looks. He's learning them. "I'll teach you."
"I can come?"
"You can come."
She shakes his hand as if they've come to a settlement or are in business together, then enthusiastically hugs him and the TARDIS, as much as she can manage with short, human arms. She doesn't even ask what a 'police public call box' is.
He has a feeling she's already looked it up in the history books and doesn't want to seem unknowing.
Yes. He'll have a lot to teach her.
What she'll make him learn remains to be seen.
IIWaiting for Engraftment
Some things never change. They still wander off, always wander off. Martha wanders off, and he spends an annoying amount of time in Lunar Base Hospital trying to find her, and trying not to be killed by giant amoeba. Hospitals. Always hospitals. It amazes him that some people like them at all.
In the end, he finds her in a hallway, wearing scrubs and looking dejected.
"They still die," she says, not looking at him. "All those medical advancements, and they still die."
"The future isn't always better. It's just different," he replies, and knows her first illusion of time travel has been shattered. Now she knows.
Now she might walk away.
He sits down next to her, discreetly wiping some squished amoeba off his shoes. He'll need to have those washed, he decides. Maybe with bleach.
"I always thought... If we just learned enough... If we just got good enough at transplants and cancer treatment and vaccines... There's never a good enough, is there?"
"What is there, then?" she asks, looking him.
"Hope enough," he says, and she nods slowly, just once, but enough. He knows she'll stay. She'll learn. Never enough, but she'll learn.
All the knowledge in the world, and the Universe still never runs out of things to teach, he knows.
IIEngraftment and Early Recovery
She saves his life.
Trapped between a steel wall and a very nasty alien with very nasty teeth and a desire for Doctor a la Gallifrey, he is rather prepared to die if not quite feeling like it. But she sweeps in with a needle and jams it rather painfully into the very nasty alien's very private area (though she probably doesn't know it as such) and just watches the very spectacular passing out.
"I wasn't sure he had the right metabolism," she says as a way of conversation as he walks up to her. "I wonder if he..."
He hugs her, and she exhales against his chest, leaving the rest unsaid. He can feel the tension in her body, mirroring his and he knows she knows fear and still dares.
"Martha Jones," he says, feeling her name almost familiar in his mouth. It will be, soon enough.
"That's Doctor Jones to you, Doctor," she says, and they laugh. Even if it's not really funny.
It doesn't need to be.
He finds her in a hallway, watching the shadows and looking a little puzzled. She doesn't know there are vampires lurking in them yet, but she seems to feel something is wrong still. Human instincts, wonderful things. Full of good advice on when to run, but humans never take good advice even when it kicks them in the glutes
"Martha!" he calls, and she turns a little to see him come running towards her.
"Trouble?" she asks, face half in shadow, but eyes still gleaming at him.
"Yes," he confirms, finally catching up to her and watching the shadows move behind her. "Teeth-in-your-neck kind of trouble."
"Too bad I'm not a dentist," she says brightly, and he knows she doesn't feel bad about that at all. Too busy being proud of what she is. Martha Jones, doctor-in-training, companion-in-training.
Only now does he take her hand. For a brief moment, he remembers, but memories are memories, and future is future. Different skin now, but still warm in his hand. Different, but now it fits. Now it is time.
"Run," he says.