cuda: Tenth Doctor, played by David Tenant, pointing his screwdriver, which is glowing. (Tenth Doctor)
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Play It Again Jack, Epilogue
The Bit That Never Happened (Or Maybe It Did)
(But if it had, it would have happened in October of 2011, outside Crowley's lair)

"Rules, my ass," Martha said to the man leaning against a telephone box in the middle of the pines, "that was direct intervention and you know it."

The Doctor crossed his arms and tipped his head thoughtfully. "We-ell, possibly. But then again, maybe it wasn't. Those rules, well," the arms uncrossed again, hands flashing restlessly, "they're more like guidelines, anyway."

Martha rolled her eyes. "So tell me, Doctor, why did you get involved? Besides the one reason floating round on top."

"You really want to know the truth?"

Martha didn't nod, didn't shake her head; didn't move. Just looked.

The Doctor grimaced. "Nothing so horrible as all that! It's just... well. That angel." He stretched the word like an interesting piece of taffy.

"Angel?" Martha echoed. It was the second time she'd heard that word tonight, and she didn't understand it any better than she had the first.

"Yeah," and now he smiled, with the kind of genial good-natured anarchy that made her heart dance, every time. "That angel. The serious one he's been hanging about with recently. Bit of all right. Could just be the making of our Jack." He waggled his eyebrows.

Which just left Martha's mouth hanging open. She struggled for a few seconds to find a civil response, clambering over shock and disbelief. "You mean to tell me," she formed the words carefully, "that you're doing this... to play matchmaker?"

"Well I tried it once before, didn't I? Needed to find something a bit... more resilient, this time."

Martha didn't know the man personally, but she knew from enough sideways references that the Doctor had found a partner - or at least a temporary fling - for Jack. As some sort of misguided (her opinion) attempt at making amends. To Martha, that sounded a bit like fixing up your old flame with a blind date after the tragic death of their previous boyfriend. But the Doctor seemed pleased with himself about it.

She didn't like the way he used the word 'resilient.' "He didn't--" she started.

Slashing the air with one hand, the Doctor cut off Martha before she could throw an accusation his way. "No, no, nothing of the sort, Martha. Of course he's not dead. Well, in some universes I suppose he is, but for all intents and purposes, right now he's not. What d'you take me for? Wait, don't answer that." He shrugged, and then smiled again. "You know Jack. Love 'em and leave 'em chap, right? Before they leave him. Because they always do, in the end."

And Martha tried to process all that. She really did. After all, she loved Jack and wanted him to be happy, maybe more than she wanted happiness for most people. But there was simply no getting past the fact that the Doctor cared. Specifically. Oh, he cared generally all the time, for everybody. But like any good demigod (and the worst possible potential boyfriend), he didn't get personally involved with anyone. And here he was, messing about in Jack Harkness's timeline. For what?

"It's my fault, you know," the Doctor said, suddenly grim. He pushed his hands into his pockets. "Maybe it was his choice to come along in the first place, but the rest is my doing. Nobody should be alone, Martha Jones. Not if they can help it."

"But you can't just make two people fall in love, Doctor! Not even you!"

The Doctor shook his head slowly. "That's not the point. What the point is, you see: now Captain Jack Harkness is not alone. Even if those two do something extraordinarily stupid, and end up on opposite sides of the galaxy hating each other," he rolled his shoulders, "they'll know the other one exists, and they'll remember the other one understands what it's like, this 'not ever ending' business. Sometimes, that's all you need."

Martha saw a flash of something horrible in the Doctor's eyes, and found herself remembering how he cradled the Master in his arms. The Master, who tormented him on the Valiant. Who held Jack prisoner in the engine room for a year.

"Is that all you need, Doctor?" Martha asked shrewdly. Of course she never got an answer.

The Doctor stood up from his slouch against the TARDIS. He reached out to pat Martha fondly on the arm. It always made her feel like a favorite cat, but she let him do it anyway. "Best be on our ways, then," he said, "keep a lookout for Leviathan. At least for the next few hours. After that, well," he opened the door and grinned back at Martha, soft, narrow features illuminated by warm orange light, "we'll just have to wait and see, won't we? Give my regards to UNIT! Or--" he grimaced again, "--don't, rather. I expect they'll take that as an insult. Anyway, ta!"

Martha stepped back from the TARDIS, watching as it chugged its way into oblivion. She watched the empty spot and the depression in the grass for a few seconds more, then started again for her car. She knew in a few hours' time, she wouldn't even be in Kansas - in fact, who knew where she'd be? But she supposed a few hours was enough time for an ice cream.

Master Post
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