Disclaimer: Doctor Who belongs to the Beeb, Terminator belongs to Fox, all I have is my Microsoft Word...
A Doctor Who/T:TSCC Crossover)
If somebody asked Martha Jones to sum up who Derek Reese was, she wouldn't have to think twice about it.
"Scary," she would say, and then, a beat later: "Scary friend."
But, then again, nobody would ever ask Martha that question.
Because Martha Jones had never met Derek Reese.
New York was a wasteland, the stink of corpses almost overwhelming. It was said that over ninety percent of the population had died on the very first day. The New Yorkers had fought back, apparently... just like the UNIT force that the Brigadier had handpicked for Martha.
They were killed, one by one, as they'd run through Central Park, trying to protect her. The Toclafane had giggled as they counted off their kills aloud, in that sing-song voice of theirs that turned death into a nursery rhyme.
"One wee human, two..." They swayed almost drunkenly through the sky; high on their victim's fear. "Five wee humans, six..." Martha had quickly realised that they were drawing it out, prolonging their pleasure. They could have easily killed them all, in one fell swoop, the moment they'd spotted them down in Soho.
It was their love of the hunt that had saved Martha's life.
If they'd just cut a swathe through the UNIT team, like she'd seen them do in London, she'd have died in Soho; but, alone, her back pressed against the cold brick of the bridge's underside, the TARDIS's perception filter lent her it's protection.
"It can't see me, it can't see me."
But it knew something was there. It hovered, waiting, just short of the bridge's shadow, chortling to itself. She didn't know why it didn't come in after her and try to flush her out.
Dusk had come, and she was hungry, but she daren't even reach for the ration bar in her jacket. The perception filter wasn't perfect. It discouraged people from seeing her, but it didn't make her invisible, especially to the Toclafane, who seemed to be more machine than anything else.
Martha let the tears fall silently. She's spent the last week and a half in a dark, smelly, antique submarine, getting to know the dozen UNIT soldiers who'd volunteered for this mission. They had all been young, and had come straight from the training grounds. All the soldiers with combat experience were dead or gone over to the other side. Not that it mattered, the first few days of the Master's reign gave everyone more experience than they could handle.
They still all died this afternoon, protecting her life.
I must have been crazy to think I could do this, she thought desperately. Her legs were beginning to cramp, and the rain had begun to fall softly outside. Thankfully, she had the shelter of the bridge.
A noise, like someone stumbling over a dustbin, rattled in the distance, breaking the sound of the rain, and the Toclafane gave out a cheep of inquiry. Martha held her breath as it swivelled, then rose out of view.
"Thank God," she gasped softly, letting out her breath as she crept along the wall.
And then the ground seemed to open up, and a hand caught her foot, and she tottered, falling into the darkness. A body half broke her fall, but it still hurt like hell, and a hand clamped over her mouth, as she let out a soft cry of pain...
"Pipe, down, it'll hear you," a voice said into her ear.
Martha's eyes narrowed and she elbowed her attacker in the stomach. He let out a sharp hiss, but didn't let go.
"Listen, you stupid bitch, I'm trying to save your life here. Don't make me regret it."
Martha's hackles went up, and she promptly stomped down on his foot. She hated that word.
"Ooof--" This time, he did let go, and Martha backed away, her eyes adjusting to the near utter darkness. She was in some sort of sewer system; the clammy touch of the wall under her fingers told her that. Plus, she remembered what they looked like from the last time she'd run through them.
She felt a pang; for herself, for the Doctor, for a life that was gone now.
A shadow crouched near the manhole, and Martha felt her throat go dry. She still couldn't make out his features. "Don't come near me or I'll...I'll..."
A humourless laugh. "Or you'll what? You'll stand really, really still and hope I don't notice you?" he drawled, mockery evident in his voice. "You're obviously not armed, so save it."
"You've been watching me," she said warily.
"More like I've been trying to stay out of the firing line," he countered. "What were you thinking-- ssh!"
A whirr sounded softly from above, and Martha felt her mouth go dry, as the light dimmed even further, blocked by the shadow of the Toclafane. Martha froze, and watched as the stranger melted into the shadows.
"I can see you," the Toclafane carolled. "Come out, come out."
Martha held her breath, even as she wondered why the Toclafane didn't just come down after them. It spun, and whirred mid-air, just above the manhole. Did it really expect her to come out and let it kill her?
"Nowhere to run, Martha Jones," the Toclafane said. "Mister Master wants you, and you'll be his." And then, with a pop, it disappeared.
The stranger cursed under his breath. "Great, just great," he said, as he swung up onto the manhole ladder and closed it.
"It's okay, it's gone," Martha said.
"Not for long," the stranger said grimly, as he clicked on a torch, and drove a bolt home on the manhole... a bolt?
"Since when do manholes have bolt locks?" Martha asked.
The stranger gave her a look, as if she'd asked why was the sky blue "We'll need to move fast," he said. "They won't come down here on their own, not anymore, but they will travel in packs, and we'll want to be somewhere else when that happens."
"We do?" Martha's eyes had become accustomed to the light of his torch. He was tall, wide shouldered, and moved like he'd been doing this for years. "You're military?" she asked.
He looked at her. "It knew your name," he said. "I've never heard one of those things call a human by its name before."
Martha sighed wearily. "Yeah, it's a long story."
"Is it the kind of story that's likely to get me killed?" he asked. He grabbed Martha by the elbow and steered her down the sewer tunnel. Martha let him; it wasn't as if she knew where they were going. Which reminded her...
"Where are we going?"
"You'll know when we get there," he said tersely.
"Why won't you tell me now?"
"So you won't blab if we get caught before we reach it."
Martha swallowed, as she realised what he was saying. He didn't want her to know just in case she was tortured or, worse, a collaborator. There had already been talk of those even before she'd left Britain, a scarce few days after the Master's rise to power. The tunnels seemed to go on forever, and Martha began to suspect he was taking her the scenic route. It knew your name, he had said. She guessed he thought she was a collaborator.
"Stop," he said. They had come to a shallow recess in the sewer wall, and Martha raised an eyebrow as she saw the metal door. He rapped on it once, then twice, then five times; it creaked open, and an elderly woman's face peeked out.
"A new one?" she asked, her Brooklyn accent showing sharply as she gave Martha the once over. "Not like you to bring in strays, Reese."
Her would-be-rescuer, who now had a name, grunted noncommittally as he shouldered the door, and the woman sighed as she gave way. "Where's Aaron?" she asked, as she peered into the darkness, beyond Martha.
"He didn't make it," Reese said sharply, as he pushed Martha inside before him.
The elderly woman let out a long, strangled breath. "They spotted him?"
"He got caught in crossfire," Reese said bluntly, and Martha's mind went back to what he'd said when she'd accused him of watching her. That he'd been trying to stay out of the firing line. With a sinking feeling, she realised exactly what had happened to Aaron.
"Reese--" the lady said.
"I know, Liz," he said. "I'll make another run."
And, in the dim light, Martha made out the faces peeking out from makeshift tents made out of cardboard and blankets, spread across what looked like a warehouse with no windows. "What is this place?" she asked softly.
"They're storage rooms for---"
"Liz," Reese said, warningly.
Liz's eyes widened as she looked at Reese, and Martha's heart sank as she realised she'd been right. He thought she was a collaborator.
"There will be a hunting party, pass it on. They'll come looking soon."
Liz nodded, and bustled down the corridor. Two shadows peeled from the wall and followed her, and Martha realised that they were the faces she'd have seen at the door if Reese had given the wrong knock.
"Come with me," Reese said. They passed through a curtain made of blankets, which blocked off a corner of the room and, suddenly, Martha found herself slammed up against a wall. "It knew your name," he said flatly, without preamble. "Tell me why."
Martha felt her lips go dry. "I'm a friend of the Doctor, and the Master thinks I'm going to try and rescue him," she said. No point in lying. After all, wasn't that what she was here for? To spread the word?
Reese gave a snort of disbelief. "You?" he scoffed. "Rescue someone from the clutches of that maniac?"
"That's what he thinks."
"Listen, honey, I saw you out there. You'd be lucky if you managed to rescue a strangled kitten."
He plunged on. "What were you, before this happened - a teacher, a secretary?"
"Trainee Doctor, if you must know."
"Really?" He gave her a speculative look. "That might actually come in handy."
Martha snorted. "So glad you approve--"
"Is he right? Reese asked abruptly. "Are you going to try something stupid, like rescue this Doctor guy?"
Martha bit her lip. "It's a bit more complicated than that."
"Yeah, something told me it would be. It always is."
He backed off, and Martha breathed a sigh of relief. "I'm not going to rescue him; it's the other way ‘round," she babbled.
"Oh, for...." He took a deep breath. "We're thinking about the same geezer, right? The guy the Master turned into a pensioner on live TV?"
"Don't you think I don't know how crazy this sounds?" Martha said, exasperated. "But he's the only chance we've got."
"Bit too late for that, kid," he said. "All we have are corpses on the ground." His voice was harsh, unrelenting.
"And what if I told you the Doctor could change that? That he could turn back time?" Martha blurted out, on impulse.
Reese grew still, his eyes blanking. "What if you did?" he asked, his voice curiously intense. Martha shivered, as he pinned her with his eyes. There was something there that she'd never seen before. Oh, she had sometimes seen hope in their eyes, and maybe even belief, but not this...
"You know," Martha whispered softly.
He turned away and shrugged out of his jacket, throwing it onto the bed. He took his gun out of its harness and dropped into a sitting position on the floor. Martha noted the weapons that littered the tiled surface around him.
"So, you're military, yeah?" she asked, unsure, as he silently started to pull apart the gun. What was he thinking? Was he cleaning the gun so it would be all nice and shiny when he killed her?
"Were you UNIT?" she ventured. It would explain why there was no doubt in his eyes when she mentioned turning back time. The Brig had told her about the Doctor's time with UNIT.
"Not UNIT, then," Martha sighed. "Navy?"
He stopped, then looked at her silently from amidst his pile of armaments. The picture was simultaneously really freaky, and strangely reassuring. "I don't like to talk about before," he eventually said.
"It was a joke," Martha said softly. "About the Mounties."
His expression didn't change. "I know that," he said flatly. "Sit down."
"Sit down, here, beside me."
Martha looked at him warily, and then cautiously sat, cross-legged, on the floor beside him. He wouldn't kill her in his personal space, would he? It would make too much of a mess... yeah, right.
"So...what now?" she asked, grimacing as she heard the shake in her voice.
Reese picked up a gun and dropped it into her lap. "That is an AK47. It's a machine gun, a semi-automatic to be more exact, common as muck but fairly reliable--"
"I don't use guns," Martha said automatically.
He looked at her coldly. "Cute," he said. "Look around you, honey. You may not be armed, but everyone else is. You know why? Because it's kill or be killed out there, and unless you're expecting someone else to do your killing for you--"
"I don't expect anything from you," Martha said, as guilt rose up inside her. It was an emotion she'd become very familiar with, of late.
He looked at her, as if she was a leaky faucet he had to fix. "I'm going to show you how to pull apart and clean a gun," he said. "And then I'm gonna teach you how to load one, and point one." He threw her a rag. "And then, after that, I'll show you how to kill someone with it... start with the clip."
Martha looked at the rag in her hand. "I don't understand. Why are you doing this?"
"It knew your name, kid," he said. "That means you, and everyone who is around you, is in immediate and terminal danger; no reprieves, no second chances. You've gotta know what to do if your life is at stake because, from what you've told me, more than your life rides on it."
Martha looked at the gun on her lap. It seemed to grow even heavier as he spoke. "Martha," she said softly.
"My name is Martha, not kid," she said. "Use it, or I'll start calling you Butch."
Was it her imagination, or was that a glimmer of a smile? "Tell you what," he said. "You start shooting like Sundance, and I'll call you whatever the hell you like."
Martha stood against the wall, her arms wrapped around herself, as she watched Reese huddle with Liz across the room. The atmosphere in the shelter was tense, almost explosive, and Martha couldn't blame them.
The tunnels outside were even more unsafe than they'd been before. They were literally swarming with Toclafane and the refuge camp was running low on supplies. Food foraging - what Reese had been up to when she'd stumbled across him - had become almost impossible. They'd already lost three men in the two days she'd been here, and people were becoming hungry.
It was all her fault; she had brought the Toclafane down on them. Before, they'd been just another group of refugees hiding underground; now they were the ones who were giving Martha Jones haven. She wondered if this is how the Doctor felt when he brought danger to those around him. It wasn't a pleasant feeling.
Reese looked up and caught her eye, as if he knew what she was thinking, and Martha looked away. She didn't know what to make of Derek Reese; but he'd saved her life, that she now knew. The Toclafane had only pretended to leave, trying to lure her out from under the bridge. It had been a trap.
Martha had quickly discovered why the Toclafane now only travelled in packs in the sewer system. Derek Reese, that's why. He had found out that the Toclafane needed to retract their armaments in order to fit through the manholes. It was a weakness that lasted only a few moments, but Reese had spotted it, and exploited it... using a blowtorch and some sort of powder, apparently.
Martha squirreled that thought away as her eyes flitted to the huddled duo, and she resolved to ask him what was in the powder; it might come in handy in the future.
She watched as they argued, biting her lip as she noted the worried expression on Liz's face, and the reassuring hand Reese put on her shoulder. There were many things that didn't add up about this place She wondered how they'd been so quick to figure out a way to combat the Toclafane...and how to set up a viable shelter, as well as organise civilians into a recognisable and efficient resistance force.
It was if they'd done this before.
Which was impossible, wasn't it?
"Jones!" Martha straightened up, pushing away from the wall, and went to join them. He still didn't call her Martha, but a least he wasn't calling her kid anymore.
"Martha," Liz said in greeting, giving her a reserved nod. Martha had been helping them with their wounded, something that Liz was grateful for. There were no medical professionals amongst the refugees, not even a medic. The nearest they got to it was Reese, and his idea of medicine was rough and ready - clean and stitch, hand them some painkillers and hope for the best. Come to think of it, with the few supplies they had, she couldn't do much better.
"We're leaving," Reese told her. "Get your stuff."
"What?" Martha said, surprised. "Where are we going - and who's we?"
"You and me, that's it, we don't want to attract attention like your UNIT friends did," he said. Derek Reese was a bit of an ass, Martha decided, as he stalked off. She turned to Liz, who shrugged a shoulder.
"I'm sorry about this," she said softly. "But we can't shelter you here any longer. We've been lucky, so far, but this place isn't safe with you in it, and soon they're going to start bringing down those human hunting teams they've begun to train... we've got kids here, Martha, and there are so few of them left..."
Liz's voice drifted off, and Martha nodded, understanding. "It's okay, Liz," she said reassuringly. "I couldn't have stayed here anyway, even if I'd wanted to."
"Yes, Reese told me," Liz looked at her, her eyes searching. "Do you really think...?"
Martha heard the hope in her voice. "Yeah, I do," she said. "In fact--" Martha looked up and around the room, at the huddled people and the children playing silently with marbles against the far wall. She had a mission to fulfil; she might as well start here.
Martha gave Liz's shoulder a squeeze. "Gather everyone around," she said. "I've got a story to tell." A movement in the corner of her eye caught her attention, and she saw Reese lean against the wall behind her, an inscrutable look in his eyes.
"Make it quick," was all he said.
She had expected them to go up, and she'd hoped to see the sky for a moment or two, but they'd gone downward instead. Martha wrinkled her nose, and wished she had some nose plugs, as she held onto the rings that had been hammered into the wall of the tunnel.
"I don't understand, if you had another exit all this time, why didn't you use it before now?" she called out softly into the darkness.
"Too dangerous," Reese's voice answered, from the pitch black below her."We're not that desperate yet."
"Too dangerous?" Martha echoed, but didn't complain. She didn't feel she was in a position to.
At last, she felt the firm ground below her feet, and Reese turned on his torch for a moment. His hand still covered it lightly, letting its glow bleed softly through his fingers. He didn't want to make them completely night blind when he turned it off again.
"See this?" he asked, his boot tapping against a small metal plate in the wall. "On the other side of this is a subway platform. If a Toclafane catches us here, they'll have all the space they need to out manoeuvre us. So we're going in dark and silent, and you're going to hold onto my shoulder, right?"
Martha nodded silently.
"Good," he muttered. "Do you know Morse?"
"You mean, other than SOS?" Martha shook her head. "No, sorry."
Reese sighed. "Right, another thing we'll put on the list," he muttered. "Listen, the Toclafane are using the express line to move supplies through the city; weapons, machinery, workers, that sort of thing. We're gonna hitch a ride but, in order to do that, we're going to have to drop on top of the train and--"
"What?" Martha squeaked.
"Relax," he drawled. "It'll be pulling out when we do it, it won't be going full tilt."
"Oh, right," Martha snorted. "I feel so much better, thanks for that."
"U-huh," he said, as he held out a hand gun. "Here, take this, no use against a Toclafane, but it works a treat on their lackeys--"
"Oh no," Martha shook her head. "The only reason I agreed to this plan was because I figured I wouldn't have to shoot my way out. No guns, you know that."
He gave her a long look. "I am going to teach you how to use a gun, whether you like it or not," he said flatly.
"I'm not going to use it," Martha said, her voice equally flat. "I may clean one, but I'll never use it."
"Maybe not," Reese allowed. "But you're going to at least learn how to point one and look as if you know what you're doing. A show of force will usually get you out of a situation, even if you're not actually willing to follow through."
Martha folded her arms. "Not today it won't," she said. "So I'm not carrying it."
Reese gave her one of his long suffering sighs. He liked to do that; a lot. "When I tap your hand, it means there is a drop," he said shortly, bending down to look at the panel.
Martha watched as he took out a screwdriver and opened it. The Doctor's face flashed into her mind, and she felt a brief pang. Best not to think about it, she thought to herself.
Reese flicked the torch off and Martha heard him remove the panel. A gentle breeze wafted over her; the panel must open straight onto the tracks. She bent down and felt a hand grab her. One tap... oh, right, that meant a drop.
She felt around with her hands, and pulled herself through the small opening. The drop was immediate, and Martha heard the gravel crunch under her feet as she landed.
Reese reached out again, this time guiding her hand to his shoulder. Martha held on, her eyes vainly trying to adapt to the absence of light. Couldn't the Toclafane have left the lights on? Of course, if they had, she and Reese would be dead by now. Reese stopped in his tracks abruptly, and Martha almost crashed into his back. She bit down on the sharp retort that had sprung to her lips and waited.
She hear the quiet whir, the one that said a Toclafane was nearby.
He moved, his feet barely making a sound, and Martha tried to copy him as she followed. She wasn't as quiet as him, but at least she hadn't done anything embarrassing, like trip over her own feet.
Reese caught her hand and Martha tensed as he moved it, placing it against the coldness of a concrete wall. His breath fell hotly on her ear. "Don't move," he said, his voice barely audible. "I'll be back." And then he was gone, and Martha stood in the darkness, trying desperately to pick out the sound of the Toclafane, or Reese, or... anything.
Doubt flickered inside her. Was she being stupid, waiting here? Was he really coming back for her, or had he just dumped her here, so that the Toclafane could find her? She really couldn't blame him; it was quite understandable, really. After all, she wasn't his responsibility and the kids back in the shelter were--
A hand fell on her shoulder, and Martha nearly jumped out of her skin, her heart thumping wildly. Her brain kicked in and told her it was Reese, and she tried to push down her fear as they started to move once more. Martha wondered what he'd done while she had just stood there, waiting.
A distant rattle echoed through the ground under her feet, and made Martha pause, but Reese dragged her on. A tap on her hand, and she found herself descending a short flight of steps. He led her through a door and then--
Torchlight filled the room, and Martha jumped. "You could give me some warning about things like that," she muttered.
"As I said, Morse code, next on the list," he said briefly, as he hurried to a far wall, and pulled a set of shelves away from it. A grid panel, leading into an air vent, lay hidden there.
"You don't miss a trick, do you?" Martha observed. "Where did you learn all this stuff, anyway, at underground commando school?"
His lips twitched, which Martha recognised as his version of a smile. "Junior high," he said. "Same difference."
Martha raised an eyebrow, had that been a joke?
The screwdriver had come out once more, and Martha watched as he made quick work of the grid panel. "Up you go," he said, hooking his hands together.
Martha obliged him, and let him boost her into the vent. "Hand me the light," she said, reaching back. The torch slapped into her palm and she shone it down the vent. "Looks clear."
"Good, now shuffle forward, so I can follow you in," he said.
They crawled though the vent, and Martha tried not to grin too much as she heard a few muffled curses from behind her. No wonder he'd let her go first, he probably didn't want to risk blocking the vent. "You all right back there?" she teased.
"I can hear you sniggering, you know," he answered back, his grumpiness almost making him sound human.
"Sorry," Martha said, not even feeling remotely so.
"We're nearing our destination," he said, a few moments later. "Better go silent...one tap for right, two for left - and turn off the flashlight."
Sighing, Martha plunged them into darkness. They moved onward, and Martha's hands felt the vent branch. A tap on her ankle told her to go right and a draft hit her in the face as she turned; she heard the bustle of movement. The vent widened and Martha saw a grid in the floor, lending the space a dim light. She looked down, and saw the subway train below her.
Reese pulled up beside her, and Martha looked at him, raising an eyebrow as she pointed downwards. He nodded. Yes.
I don't believe I'm about to do this, Martha thought, as she watched the workmen fill the subway train below them under the watchful eye of the Toclafane sentries. A whistle blew, and Reese hastily opened the grid as the workers moved away from the train.
"You first!" Reese said, over the din, as the train began to pull out.
He pushed her out bodily, and Martha almost screamed as the train roof seemed to rush towards her. She hit it with a bang, and rolled, nearly falling over the edge as a thump heralded Reese's arrival, She was so going to make him pay for this.
His hand fell onto her shoulder, and Martha felt him pull her back from the edge. She clung to him as the train gathered speed, wondering if she'd ever do anything this crazy again. She had a funny feeling she would.
"It gets easier," he yelled into her ear, as the train screamed below them.
She hoped he was wrong
Martha ached in places she didn't even know she had, the muscles in her arms roaring with pain as she clung onto the train roof for dear life. Just an hour ago, she'd been hoping for clean, open air. Now, she had her wish.
She guessed she had to be more careful what she wished for, from now on.
"Get ready!" Reese yelled into her ear.
She looked at him in disbelief. "You do realise this is crazy, don't you?"
"Tell you what, why don't you stay here until the train pulls into Westchester station and then you can explain to the nice Toclafane, waiting for you there, exactly how crazy I am. I'm sure they'll be very understanding."
"Smart arse!" she snapped back, tensing as the train approached the bend. It seemed that, while Derek Reese didn't expect her to jump onto a train running at full tilt, he had no problem asking her to jump off one. She watched as he slowly slid up into a crouching position and grimaced as he motioned for her to do the same.
The train seemed to scream around the bend, and Martha could have sworn it hadn't slowed even a bit, but Reese apparently thought differently.
He threw himself off the train, and Martha jumped after him before her nerve broke, resisting the urge to close her eyes as she flew through the air.
The earth smacked into her, and Martha let out a shout of pain, as her whole body reverberated with the shockwave. Christ, she hoped she hadn't broken anything. She heard the brush rustle behind, and went still.
"Okay," Reese's voice drawled. "Guess we'll just have to add ‘how to fall and roll without breaking your neck' to the lesson roster.'
His boots came into view, and Martha followed them up and glared at him. "Who, exactly, do I look like to you? GI Jane?"
He shrugged. "It's gonna be a steep learning curve, you might as well get used to it," he told her. "Anything broken?"
She gave her toes an experimental wiggle and carefully sat up. "No," she said, and then winced as an aching pain ran up her back. "Although a few things might be a little bent out of shape." He held out a hand, and Martha grabbed it, letting him pull her to her feet.
We need to keep our heads down until we clear the last of the houses," He said briefly. "There's a drop point about eight clicks north. We'd better get moving."
Martha fell into step beside him as they clambered out of the brush and onto a back lane, and she narrowed her eyes as she took in the pristine houses, seemingly deserted.
"It's very quiet," she said, her voice hushed.
"Yeah, well, it's hard to play happy families when the Toclafane are breathing down your neck," Reese muttered. "My guess is they've scattered to the hills. That what they--" He stopped himself. "We'd better pick up the pace."
Martha looked at him and wondered what it was he was going to say. The guy was a mystery to her. The others at the camp had only been too keen to talk about their lives before the Master, but Derek Reese? The best she got out of him was a noncommittal grunt.
So what the hell was she doing following him across the back roads of America?
"Why are you doing this?" she asked suddenly.
He looked down at her. "I have my reasons."
"That isn't an answer."
"Now is not the time to be having this conversation."
A distant scream punctuated his words, and Martha nodded grimly. "Later," she said, her tone brooking no argument.
He gave her a wry look but didn't say anything as he led the way down another side street. It was turning out to be one of those days.
Martha spotted the bale of hay, and fell back onto it with a sigh. "We're staying here, tonight, right? Please say we are."
"Nope," he said shortly.
Martha groaned. "Why not? It's at least two miles to the nearest house, we're in the middle of nowhere and this barn..." She sighed. "Is so comfy."
"It's a drop point," he said. "It's used to move supplies from one pair of hands to another. Staying here will compromise it." He scraped away a pile of hay at the back of the barn, revealing two packs and a motorbike.
Martha groaned. "A motorcycle?"
"Best way to travel if we need to go off the beaten track," Reese said. "Come on."
It seemed that every muscle in her body protested as she stood, but she eventually got to her feet - only to be nearly knock off them again as he threw one of the packs at her. She glared him as he rolled the bike out of the barn. "Isn't using the bike taking too much of a chance?" she asked.
"You want to travel on foot? Coz I gotta tell ya, it'll be a long trip to the west coast."
Martha rolled her eyes. "Yeah, yeah," she grumbled, as she got on behind him.
He revved the bike, and Martha held on as the bike sped onto the rough, dirt road. The landscape whizzed by, and Martha tried to console herself with the fact that at least she wasn't still clinging to the roof of a train. The sun sank below the horizon and she found herself dozing, her head nodding as she tried to keep awake. Was it possible to sleep on a bike?
But, at last, the bike slowed, and Martha tried not to groan as she eased off the saddle.
"Not used to it," Reese pronounced, as he leaned back on the bike.
"Yeah, no kidding, Sherlock," she muttered as she dropped her pack on the ground and looked around her. It was a small clearing, surrounded by dense trees.
"You'll get used to it," he said, "You know how to start a fire?"
Martha threw him a rueful look. "I know how to gather twigs?"
A ghost of a smile crossed his face. "It's a start."
Martha sipped the black coffee from the tin cup she'd found in her bag, and eyed Reese over its rim. He hadn't said a thing since they'd set up the camp, but just sat there, chipping away at a piece of wood he had in his hand, with his knife. It was about time she got some answers, she decided.
"So," she said, into the silence. "You've got family?"
He kept on carving, as if she hadn't said anything.
"Reese?" Martha let out a sigh of annoyance. It was like talking to a brick wall. "So, are you going to answer, or are you just going to sit there and play with your little knife all night?" she asked eventually, sarcasm dripping from her voice.
He looked up at her "It's a stupid question," he said flatly. "You should get out of the habit of asking it."
And then Martha remembered. "I'm sorry," she murmured. "It's just what people ask, isn't it?" She thought of her own family, trapped on the Valiant. "Who did you lose?"
But Reese apparently had decided that he'd said all he had to say on the subject and, after a moments pause, Martha decided to let it go. He didn't want to get personal? Well, that was okay by her.
"So," she said. "I was looking at this map, yeah, and it says that we'll hit a small town called Cairo--"
"We're not stopping," he said abruptly.
"What?" Martha asked. "Oh yes we are. I have a mission to fulfil and--"
"We're not stopping."
"Listen, Reese, I'm grateful for all you did, I really am, but I need to do this."
"You're not ready," he said.
"What does that mean?"
"It means that there's gonna be no midnight runs into populated areas, no little get-togethers with the locals, no mission to accomplish, until you get a few basic skills down - you need to learn how to protect yourself."
"This is about learning how to use a gun again, isn't it?"
He gave her a look. "No, it's about learning how to pop popcorn," he drawled.
He didn't deny it.
"It's not just about learning to use a weapon," he told her. "You've got to work on the other stuff too."
"Like learning how to reconnoitre an area before entering it, and how to duck and cover - being able to use simple Morse code and recognise a military hand signal when you see one. Learning some simple self defence would also be good - not that that foot stamping trick of yours isn't effective, but if I'd been seriously trying to kill you, rather than subdue you...." He shrugged. "You should have followed it up, and not stopped until I was on the ground."
"Thanks for the tip," Martha said flatly.
He leaned forward and caught her eyes. "Listen, hand to hand combat is important, but it won't save your life; not if they pick you off with a rifle before you get to them--"
"You're a real bundle of laughs, aren't you," Martha cut in, as a wave of tiredness rolled over her. "There's got to be another way to do this, one that doesn't involve shooting our way across the country."
"Okay," he bit out. "What would you do, oh Miss Saviour-of-the-Earth?"
"Well, for one thing, I'd stay low and avoid dangerous situations; I'd try to spread the word--"
"See?" he interrupted. "That's your problem right there."
"You can't staying low and spread the word at the same time. You think they won't be looking for you? Searching these towns and villages? Which reminds me, you need a cover story."
"A cover story," he repeated. "You know; to throw the Master off the scent? John used to--" He paused and, for a fleeting second, a stricken look passed over his face. "Never mind."
"No, what were you going to say?" Martha asked, her curiosity piqued.
"Nothing we have to worry about right now," he said. "First we need to teach you some basic survival skills and how to use--"
"A gun," she said. "Yeah, I know; you're like a broken record."
He gave her long, cold look. "I can't do this," he said abruptly.
"Can't do what?"
"I can't play this game with you," he said. "You're a dead man walking, Jones, don't you know that? Every Toclafane on the east coast is looking for you. Word is there is a reward - and we're not talking just money here, he's offering lives in exchange for yours and you...." He took a breath. "You're just too damned trusting."
"Who? Me?" Martha stared at him "What does that mean?"
"It means that anybody with an ounce of suspicion in their blood would never in a million years have followed me down onto those subway tracks," he drawled.
"Hey, I was suspicious! When we were in the subway station and you disappeared, I thought--" Martha paused, and then gave a self depreciating laugh. "Of course, it would have been too late by then, wouldn't it, if you were really going to dob me in?"
He raised an eyebrow. "Dob?"
"An expression," Martha said. "Doesn't matter... and, okay, maybe I'm a bit too trusting, but I can't help that, and it's not as if I'm thick, or anything, it's just that-" she sighed. "It's just that I like to think the best of people, at least until they prove me wrong."
"Well, from now on, you've got start thinking of people as guilty until proven otherwise," Reese said grimly. "You need to stay alive long enough to save the--" Again, he stopped, and this time Martha wasn't going to let it go.
Talking about being suspicious," she drawled. "I suspect there's something you should be telling me but aren't."
"It's not important," he said. "What's important is that you listen to me."
"Or what?" Martha asked, folding her arms.
He gave her a cool stare. "Or I leave you here," he said. "Right now." He stood and began to pack his bag, and Martha watched in bemusement. Was he serious?
Of course he's serious, she thought to herself. It's not the sort of thing someone jokes about, especially someone like Derek Reese. She bit her lip, and watched as he closed his bag. She knew he had a point but... She needed to spread the word, and she needed to start doing it now, before she started running out of time. He just didn't get it. How could he? He didn't know the Doctor.
They eyed each other over the fire embers.
"Right," Martha eventually said, coming to a decision. "Well, thanks for all you've done. I really appreciate it, honest, but you're right. It's probably best if we part ways."
For a moment, Martha thought he was going to say something, but he just shook his head. "See ya, kid," he said, and then he walked away from the camp, and Martha found herself alone, staring at the map in her hand.
"Cairo," she said to herself.
It seemed a good place to start.
The population of Sparta, what was left of it, were hiding out in a church basement. If they'd tried to hide like that further down state, the Toclafane would have found them long ago, but this was Cairo, which was largely overlooked, if not ignored.
"We don't have much, Miss Jones," the Pastor said nervously, as he handed her the steaming cup. Martha's fingers curled around its warmth thankfully.
"Are you kidding? This is great," she said, smiling at him. "Do you have you any idea how long it's been since I've had coffee with milk?"
The pastor gave her a tired smile. "A while, I suppose."
They sat together, on a pew that they must have been dragged down from upstairs, and Martha looked around the room as she took an appreciative sip from her cup. There were forty people in the small basement and two thirds of them were children. That didn't seem right. She hadn't paid too much attention to it when she had first arrived but, now that she'd gotten rid of the chill in her bones, her eyes were beginning to pick up small details. "Where are the adults?"
"Dead, mostly," the pastor said. "There are a lot of orphans nowadays."
"Yeah," Martha murmured. "Any injuries or illness? I've got medical training."
He smiled sadly. "Not anymore," he said softly.
A stillness went through the room, and Martha felt the hairs on the back of her neck go up. There was something wrong here, something she couldn't quite put her finger on. She took another sip of her coffee. "You know why I'm here?"
"We've heard the rumours, yes," he said.
Now, the stillness was palpable, and Martha she wondered how long it would take. Had they notified the Toclafane before their scout had led her here, or after?
Martha tried to look the pastor in the eye, but his glance skittered away. It was then that she knew for certain. Her eyelids began to droop; they'd drugged her. Gently, she placed the cup on the worn wood of the pew's seat. "How long do I have?"
"They're already here," he said softly. He turned to look at her again, and Martha could see the tears stand in his eyes. "I'm so sorry."
"It's okay, I understand, really I do," she said, but she wasn't sure if he understood, because her words were already beginning to slur. "What did you put in my...put in my...." She heard the sound of booted feet and she tried to get stand, her fingers fumbling for the TARDIS key she'd pocketed.
"Easy there," the pastor said, and she felt him take the key from her grasp. "Do you have family?" he asked softly. "Someone I should tell, if someone asks after you?"
Martha smiled grimly through the haze; she had a funny feeling the Master would make sure her family would be the first to know of her capture, and the only other people that would care - Jack and the Doctor - would know soon after that.
She thought briefly of Derek, but quickly quelled that idea. She shook her head, felt her knees buckle, and slumped back onto the pew.
Running didn't seem to be an option.
Her mouth felt dry and coated when she came to, a sure sign she'd been drugged. The room was shrouded in darkness, and she was tied to what felt like a chair. She felt at her bonds with her fingers. They seemed to be those bag ties her Mum used for putting things into the freezer. They were cutting off her circulation, whatever they were, and Martha knew she'd be paying for that later.
She peered through the darkness, biting her lip as she recognised the noise in the distance. They were screams. She guessed the Toclafane had stayed behind in the basement to have a little fun. They really should have known better than to try and broker a deal with the Master.
Martha sighed; maybe they didn't have a choice. Maybe that's why there weren't more adults in the basement. The thing is, everybody had a reason now.
Eventually, the screams stopped and she wondered if they were going to come for her soon or draw the moment out. Footsteps seemed to answer her question, and Martha squinted against the light as a door was swung open; she heard it slam and bounce off the wall.
"So you're the great Martha Jones. You don't look like much."
Martha looked up at the dark silhouette at the door, even as she tried to take in the other details. It seemed she was in some sort of garage shed with blacked out windows. "So, tell me," she bit out, as the figure didn't move. "Are you posing against the light on purpose, or is it just a happy coincidence?"
The man moved, almost self consciously, and Martha stared at him hard; average, build, average height. There was nothing about him that was unusual, until you looked into the eyes. "Interrogator?" she asked, trying to her keep her voice light.
"Oh come now, Miss Jones, I think we both know who your interrogator is going to be."
Yeah, Martha did. "Why the face-to-face, then?" she asked.
"I suppose I was curious. I've heard so much about you, Martha Jones. Quite frankly, I was expecting someone...."
The mercenary shrugged. "I'd have gone for smarter," he said. "You didn't even make it out of New England, you know."
"Really," Martha said flatly. "How tragic."
He smiled grimly and called out: "Put her in the truck, in the cage."
Martha glared at the two mercenaries entering the shed, but let them drag her to her feet. They pulled her towards a huge truck, its back doors open, and Martha swallowed down a gulp as she noticed the cage swinging from the roof. "You've got to be kidding me!"
The blonde mercenary at her side shrugged. Was it her imagination, or did he look slightly uncomfortable. "It's what the Colonel likes," he muttered.
"Yeah, I'll just bet he does," Martha muttered. "I'm surprised he hasn't put a pole too."
The Mercenary snorted, but didn't say anything as he prodded her up the ramp while the other soldier pulled at a lever just inside the door. Martha shook her head as the cage slowly descended. "This is like something out of Mad Max," she muttered.
"I wouldn't give him any ideas," the mercenary at her shoulder said softly. "The Master keeps a leash on him, but he slips loose every once in a while."
Martha nodded, a silent acknowledgement of the warning, as the doors of the cage were opened. "How long will I have to be in this thing?" she asked.
"Until we reach Boston."
"What? Not New York?"
The mercenary pulled a face. "Nobody goes to New York," he said, as he nudged her inside. "Not anymore." He went to close the cage doors shut, but Martha shoved her wrists through the opening.
"Couldn't do us a favour, could you?" she asked. "They're cutting off my circulation, and I think my fingertips are beginning to lose sensation..."
"They didn't say we could do that," the other mercenary, by the lever, said.
"I'm not going anywhere," Martha said softly, catching the eye of the guy in front of her. He was young, younger than her, but his eyes already looked weary.
"Wrists up," he said, as he reached for his knife. He cut through them. "Move back," he said gruffly, as the pieces of plastic fell though the cage grid on the floor, and Martha obliged as she massaged her wrists, willing her circulation to move again. She hadn't been kidding when she said her fingers were going numb.
The cage doors slammed shut, and the mercenary on the lever slowly began to pick up the slack on the chain, Martha held onto the bars as the cage lifted from the floor, rocking as it rose.
"Good thing I don't get car sick," Martha muttered.
"It's happened before," the mercenary who'd untied her hands said. His head was now level with her feet, and Martha steadied herself as the chain ground to a halt.
"It's not too late, you know," she called out. "It can still go back to the way it was."
The mercenary who'd untied her looked at her almost pityingly. "There's no going back now, Martha Jones," he said. "Don't you see? Even if you could defeat the Master, none of us could live with the memories."
"Besides," the other one chipped in. "How could you do it? Apparently, he can just make himself a new body if you kill him."
A germ of an idea fermented in Martha's mind. "What if I told you there was a weapon?" she asked. "One that could kill him permanently. What would you say then?"
The fair haired mercenary looked up at her, his eyes narrowing. "I'd say good luck, Martha Jones, you're going to need it."
And they shut the door on her, leaving her peering into the darkness once again. Oh well, at least this time her hands were free. She searched her pockets, her heart sinking as she realised they'd already been rifled. She wasn't sure who had her key. Had the pastor kept it, or had he'd passed it onto the Toclafane before he'd been killed?
Suddenly, a thought occurred to her, and she clutched at her ankle, breathing out a sigh of relief as she realised it was still there; Jack's vortex manipulator. The strap had always been a bit too loose to wrap around her wrist, and she'd been too scared to shorten it for fear she'd damage some of its circuitry.
She felt the familiar shape of it under her fingers. She could use it but she couldn't be sure it would leave her in the right century - or even the right planet. It would, however, get her out of this truck.
Away from the Master.
Martha pulled a face, and dragged her trouser leg back down. She wasn't giving up.
Not yet, anyway.
A shudder ran through the truck's suspension, and woke up Martha from her doze. She held onto the cage bars and dragged herself onto her feet. She could feel her fingers again, thank goodness. She tried to figure out how long they'd been travelling. It seemed to be only a few hours, but she had dozed off.
The truck shuddered again, and Martha frowned up at the ceiling. It sounded like somebody was up there, but who would be crazy enough to....
"Reese," Martha snorted, with a half laugh.
And then the top of the truck blew in.
"Martha, Martha, talk to me - Martha?"
The voice sounded like it was travelling through a long tunnel. "Doctor?" she asked.
"You should be so lucky" the voice snorted, and Martha frowned as she tried to open her eyes. For some strange reason, that made her cough. "Easy there, I'll have you out in a moment. What kind of crazy idiot locks their prisoners up in a hanging cage, anyway?"
"One who watches too much TV," Martha suggested. Or, at least, she tried to, but her vocal chords weren't playing along.
"Shit, you don't look so hot, Jones."
Martha squinted an eye open. Even bruised and cut, and bleeding in one side, Reese was a sight for sore eyes. "You don't look all that yourself," she grumped.
"All that?" he echoed. "Who have you been hanging out with?"
"You," she muttered, "Bastard," she added, for good measure, as she propped herself up on elbow. Her whole body ached. "What happened? I mean, other than you, that is."
"Huh? Oh, that was - oh, hold on..." The cage door swung open and Martha let him half pull, half drag her out of the cage. She swung her head around and realised that the truck was overturned.
"Reese, did you just run me off the road?" she asked, her voice deceptively quiet.
"Might have," he said. There was teasing quality to his voice, one that she'd never heard before. If she didn't know any better she'd swear he was enjoying the situation.
"Why aren't we dead?" she asked, as he propped her against his shoulder and led her through a hole in the ceiling - which was now the door, apparently.
"There were only two other trucks," he said.
Only two, eh?
Martha noticed one of the other trucks blocking the road in front of them; or part of one, at least. "You blew them up," she said flatly.
"Yes, I did," he said.
"Did you have to do that?"
"Well, I thought of asking them nicely, but something told me they wouldn't go for that...tell you what, next time I'll just offer them some ice cream."
Martha shook her head, but didn't say anything. He had a point. "What about the Toclafane?" she asked quietly.
"They weren't with the convoy," he said. "Guess they don't like babysitting."
Martha thought of the children back in the town, and felt her feet buckle. Oh God, those poor kids....
"Hey, easy there." She felt an awkward pat on her back as he eased her down onto the grass on the side of the road.
"Yeah, sorry," she said. "It's just... that poor man. I knew he didn't want to give me up, but he did it anyway, because he thought he could save the kids and...the key!"
"You mean that key you keep tugging at, around your neck?" he asked softly.
He reached for her hand and Martha frowned, puzzled, as he pressed something into it. "Where did you get it?" she asked, as she looked at the key.
"Sparta," he said, his eyes shuttered. "We've gotta keep moving. We need to be away from here before they realise this convoy isn't gonna reach Boston."
She nodded and curled her fingers around the key as he pulled her to her feet. Martha began to laugh as they limped down the road.
"What are you laughing at?"
"You...me...this," she said, waving her hand at the wrecked vehicles and the smoke.
He looked down at her. "You're one crazy broad," he pronounced.
"Oh, you don't know the half of it," she murmured "How did you find me?" He shrugged silently, and Martha looked up at him suspiciously. "You never left, did you?"
"I left," he muttered, but Martha thought he sounded a touch defensive.
"And," she probed.
"I saw the trucks on the freeway," he admitted. "I figured they weren't trawling for corn farmers, not with that amount of ammunition, so that just left--"
"Me," she finished for him. Oh well, at least he came back for her, she supposed. She didn't know why she felt so disappointed he'd left in the first place. "I've had an idea," she said aloud, as they walked away from the wreckage.
"Got anything to do with triage?"
"Nope," she said. She gave the blood soaking though Reese's shirt a critical eye. "But I should take a look at that."
He shrugged, and Martha noticed the wince as he did so. "It's nothing, just tore some stitches."
"Sometimes that can be even worse," she reminded him.
"What was your idea?"
"God, you're really bad at this, you know?"
"Bad at what?"
"Changing the subject," Martha said.
"I wasn't trying to change the subject."
"No, I was genuinely interested."
Suspicious, Martha looked up at his face. "I don't believe you," she declared.
He sighed. "Yeah, yeah, just spill it already, okay?"
"Well, all this talk about guns has got me thinking..."
He raised an eyebrow at that. "You're gonna learn?"
"No - well, yeah - but that isn't what I meant."
He stopped, mid stride, and looked down at her. "And what, exactly, do you mean?"
"Well, you know how you were saying we needed a distraction for the Master, so he'd think he was up against something totally different than what he was, yeah...?"
He gave her a wry look. "That wasn't exactly how I put it," he drawled.
"Well, close enough," she said dismissively. "The point is, I was thinking we could use a weapon."
"A weapon?" Reese repeated slowly.
"Yeah," Martha said. "But like a special one, right? A super scary one that kills Timelords, and we're travelling the world looking for all the elements so we can assemble it, and--"
Reese began to cough, or maybe it was a laugh. "Do you really expect him to fall for that?" he asked, disbelief in his voice.
"You've not met this guy," Martha said. "Trust me, he'll eat it up. He lives for this sort of stuff. We'll say it's this great, big, phallic weapon of doom, and he'll fall for it, hook, line and sinker - and we'll make it shiny."
"With all these weird, colourful vials. Timelords really like that kind of stuff; bits of wires and things that glow in the dark - and symbols, lots of symbols scrawled all over it."
She felt his arm squeeze around her shoulders, in what Martha realised was his version of a hug, and she squeezed back. "You all right?" she asked.
"John would have loved you," Reese said quietly.
"John?" Martha asked.
Martha felt a tightening in her chest, and she reached for his hand, knowing there was no point asking the question; she already knew the answer. "You'll get him back," she promised.
He looked down at her, his face unreadable; but, just for a moment, his hand squeezed back.
They'd been on the road for nearly a month when they reached Chicago. It was on fire, a technicolored nightmare that could be seen from over a hundred miles away.
"It can't get any worse than this," Martha said, awe and dread flavouring her voice as they watched the inferno on the horizon
"It can," Reese said softly. "It will." He fired the bike's engine up. "Come on, we need to be out of Illinois by morning."
"There are smaller towns," Martha reminded him. "Ones that aren't on fire."
"Do you actually think they're going to listen to you now?"
"There is town south of here, called Beecher, in Will County. It's on our route," she said, ignoring him. She had discovered, over the last few weeks, that this was her best course of action when he got into one of his moods.
"It'll be our final destination, if we're not careful," he drawled, arms dangling over the handlebars as he leaned forwards and glared at her.
Martha sighed. "That's what I like about you, Reese; you're always the optimist."
"All the optimists are dead or in prison, Jones; or haven't you noticed?"
"Yeah, well, you're the exception that proves the rule."
Martha eyed him. "Has anybody ever told you your sense of humour sucks?"
"Can't say the subject has ever come up."
"Well, it has now," she drawled.
"Oh, I'm crushed...now get on the damned bike."
Martha smirked as she put on her helmet, and jumped on behind him. They'd be stopping at Beecher. He was always grumpy when he gave in.
Martha balled her hands into fists, her knuckles whitening as she watched the town's population being herded onto the train carriages. "There's got to be a way we can stop this," she said.
"The question isn't whether we can, it's whether we should," Reese said quietly, his face shutting down as his eyes took in the mercenaries as well as the two Toclafane hovering above.
"Reese, they're rounding them up," she said softly. "Do you know what that means?"
"I can hazard a guess," he said flatly. "Work or concentration camps, most likely."
How can you be so cold about this?" Martha asked, frustrated, as they watched from their hiding spot in the ditch. "Some of them look young enough to be in school."
"That's because they probably are," he said. "I doubt the Master's men are carding them, not that it changes a damned thing. We're only two people, Jones, and there's too many of them."
"There's about the same amount of soldiers as there was in Sparta, by my count," Martha challenged.
"I didn't attack Sparta, I attacked the convoy, and I did that for a reason." Reese nodded at the two Toclafane in the sky above. "It's a case of risks and returns. With you dead, the Master could claim a real victory, but these guys...well, they don't really matter, not in the long run."
"Sometimes I don't get you, Reese," Martha said flatly. These are real people...what if one of them were you?"
A humourless mile graced his lips. "Trust me, it wouldn't change a thing," he said.
Martha looked at him as she tried to figure out what was going on behind that purposefully bland expression of his. "We're going to break them out," she said eventually
"We're going to do no such thing."
"Okay, then, I'm going to break them out," Martha said grimly, as she crawled back from the train tracks. She heard Reese curse under his breath behind her.
"Don't think I won't tie you up and throw you onto the back of that bike if I need to, Jones, coz you know I will."
Martha's mind went back to the small town in Ohio, where Reese had tied her to a tree on the outskirts of the town because he didn't like the look of the locals. "Don't think I wouldn't make you pay for it," she returned sweetly. "Because you know I will."
"Just as long as you'd be alive to do it," he snapped back. He did like to have the last word and, this time, she let him.
Because she fully intended to have the last laugh.
He watched her, arms folded tightly, as Martha attached the charge to the C4. "I thought the plan was to save them, not blow them up," he eventually said.
"It's a distraction," Martha said defensively.
"No, it's a catastrophe waiting to happen," he countered. "You're doing it wrong."
He sighed and crouched down beside her. "You attach the charge like this," he said, as his fingers did the work. "That way, there's enough of the receiver showing to pick up the signal to detonate."
"Shit, Jones, don't you ever pay attention to what I say?"
"When it's relevant."
"And this ain't relevant? How many times do I have to tell you, you need to know how to defend yourself."
Martha bit back a few choice observations, about the usefulness of plastic explosives in self-defence, and tried to keep her voice even. "I'm learning how to use a gun, aren't I?"
"You keep missing the target."
"I can't help that."
"Yes you can. You're doing it on purpose."
Martha frowned. "You knew?" she asked, before she could stop herself
Reese's eyes flashed up from the bomb in his hands. "Nobody is that bad a shot, Jones," he drawled. "Not even you."
"Why didn't you say anything?"
"I didn't need to. It takes a lot of hand eye coordination to miss a target as thoroughly as you do. I figured you'd be able to hit it if you ever truly needed to."
"That is...extremely sneaky," Martha said, looking at him suspiciously.
Reese shrugged. "I ended up taking care of my baby brother a lot when I was younger," he said noncommittally. "You learn to pick your battles."
Martha decided to ignore the connotations of that statement, in favour of finding out some more about the Reese family. "That would be John's father?" she asked, her voice deceptively calm.
"Yeah." A beat. "Kyle."
"I've got a brother," Martha said. "And a niece too, actually, although she's just a tiny little thing. They're still out there, I think. I contacted Leo before the Master found him."
"The Master is looking for your family?" Reese asked.
Martha gave him a small smile. "Yeah," she said. "He found them, too...well, my parents and my sister. They're still on the Valiant, last I heard."
"I don't like to dwell on it," Martha said softly. "If I think about it too much, I mightn't be able to...you know..."
Reese nodded. "It's hard," he said. "When Kyle..." He took a deep breath. "I was once in a similar situation, once."
"You just have to keep your mind focused on the job at hand," he said.
"Is this a pep talk?" Martha asked, and then winced. "That came out wrong."
Reese shrugged, but she could almost see the shutters go down behind his eyes. "They're primed," he said. "Now the question is, what are you going to with them?"
"I was hoping you might have a few suggestions."
"Oh, I see, now you want my input," he drawled, sarcasm lacing his words. "Well, let me see, my suggestion is that we hop on the bike and get the hell out of dodge...but something tells me that ain't gonna be on the agenda for today."
"You going to help or what?"
Reese sighed. "I am so gonna regret doing this," he muttered under his breath as he got to his feet. "We need to get the Toclafane out of the picture."
Martha nodded. "I figured as much," she said. "That's why I was going to blow up the receiver dishes for the local phone network on the other side of town. It should buy us a few minutes. The Toclafane will check them out - the Master still relies on that signal to keep a good chunk of the world population under his thumb."
"Not as many as you'd like to think," Reese muttered. "Most of them are keeping quiet because of good old fashioned fear...which reminds me; you do realise that even if this plan works, a lot of those people are going to die anyway?"
"What does that mean?"
"It means that it's not enough to know what you're running from, you've also got to know where you're running to," Reese said quietly. "Let's just say we succeed in killing, or incapacitating, the guards and getting the Toclafane out of the way - what then? Oh sure, they're free, for about five minutes, ten tops - and then the Toclafane will be back on the scene and hunting them down. Technically, I suppose, they'll die free...but as for the rest." He shrugged. "I'd give it a thirty five percent success rate."
"Oh, you're a real bag of laughs, you are," Martha said, scowling at him.
"I'm a realist, Jones," he countered. "And you need to know this; you need to know that, while you'll probably save a few lives, you're not going to save them all."
"I didn't think we would," Martha said shortly. "But I'm going to try my best to save as many as I can."
He gave her a long look. "You think you can attach the C4 to the dishes without actually blowing yourself up?" he asked.
"Oh, I think I might be able to manage it," she said, with a snort.
"Good, off you go, then. I'll set something up for the mercs."
Martha looked at him suspiciously. "What are you up to?"
"Saving the day, apparently," he muttered, as he pulled some more C4 from his bag. "You'd better get a move on, that train isn't going to just sit there all day."
Martha bit her lip, unsure, but got to her feet. "You'll be here when I get back, yeah?"
He looked up at her, his face expressionless. "See you in fifteen, Jones."
He wasn't there when she got back
"Damn you, Derek Reese," she said under her breath, as she slid down the ditch they'd used earlier. She moved as quietly as she could through the undergrowth, wondering as she did so, how good a Toclafane's hearing actually was. Was it like a human's or could they hear a grasshopper chirrup a thousand miles away? She'd love to get one of them on an examination table, just to see what was going on beneath that shell of theirs.
A movement caught the corner of her eye, and Martha felt her mouth go dry as she spotted Reese crawl beneath the train's engine. They probably wouldn't be able to spot him from the station platform, but still...
"Crazy, lying bastard," she muttered. "What are you up to?"
The Toclafane hovered above, prodding the last of the town's people onto the trains, and Martha realised that they could be pulling out at any moment. Was that why Reese had made his move now, rather than waiting for her? No, something told her that this was his plan all along.
Thick skinned, annoying little...
Martha watched as he pulled himself between two carriages and slid an automatic out of his jacket. What the hell was he thinking? If one of the Toclafane saw him....
Oh, right, the Toclafane.
Martha pulled out the detonator from under her coat and looked at it, wondering what she should do. In many ways, Reese reminded her of the Doctor, so full of the little details that the big ones tended to get away from him; like what to do if he suddenly falls in love with a nurse in 1913 while you're scrubbing the toilets, for instance.
"Oh, bugger this," Martha muttered, and hit the trigger.
A loud resounding boom echoed through the train station, and the windows suddenly blew out, covering the entire platform with shattered glass. Oops, guess she went a little too heavy on the C4.
The Toclafane rose into the air, a whine emanating from their shells that sounded almost like a distress call, and Martha briefly wondered if humankind weren't the only ones who received messages through the archangel network
Gunfire rattled the quiet, and Martha's eyes widened as she realised Reese was firing into the air. She watched as the prisoners hit the deck, and the mercenaries swung their weapons around, trying to figure out where the weapons fire was coming from...and then Reese released another burst of automatic fire, mowing down the mercenaries,
It was all over in a moment or two. A few of the mercenaries had survived, and pulled back, releasing cover fire, but Reese ignored them, letting them go as the prisoners slowly got to their feet, and brushed the glass off their clothing. Martha watched as Reese swung onto the platform and she scrambled up the ditch and across the tracks as he began to open the carriages.
"How long have we got, you reckon?" she called out, over the sea of heads.
"I've already told you that," he called back. "Five minutes, ten tops."
Martha looked at the crowd, milling around on the platform as if they weren't sure what to do next, and Reese's words came back to haunt her. It's not enough to know what you're running from, you've also got to know where you're running to...
She jumped onto a bench and waved her hands over her head. "Oy, over here," she called out, and then nearly lost the ability to speak as a thousand heads turned to look at her. "Uh, hi," she said. "Listen, you need to make it to the town limits before the Toclafane get back." A low murmur began to run through the crowd, and Martha raised her voice. "You need to keep your heads down and stay out of sight; you don't want to be easy pickings."
"Who the hell are you?" a voice called out.
"I'm Martha," she said, with a quick grin. "Martha Jones - now run!"
And, amazingly enough, they did. Martha smiled goofily, as they stormed off the platform and across the tracks. Something told her that Toclafane wouldn't find this group as easy to track down as Reese had said.
A hand gripped her arm. "What are you doing, you idiot?" Reese growled at her.
"Saving lives," Martha retorted.
"Committing suicide is more like it," he muttered as he dragged her off the bench. "Come on, we need to go. Every damned Toclafane from here to Colorado is going to be looking for us now."
But not even Reese could ruin Martha's mood at that moment. They'd done it; they'd actually done it! For once, since this terrible year had begun, she'd been responsible for saving lives, rather than ending them.
That had to be worth it.
The Rockies loomed large in front of them as they sped along the dirt road and, to Martha's eyes, they seemed impossible huge. "How long before we reach Boulder?" she asked, yelling over the bike's engine.
"We should be able to see it in a few miles," he called back.
Martha smiled, they'd spent the last week travelling on what had felt like every back road in the American mid-west; a detour that had added days onto their journey, but had kept the Toclafane off their trail.
But, if the rumours were true, worse was to come.
The bike slowed, and Reese pulled it to the side of the road, his eye trained on the valley below. Martha eyes followed his, and she felt her mouth go dry. The skies over Boulder were thick with Toclafane.
"Guess the stories weren't exaggerated, then," she said quietly.
"The stories didn't cover half of it," Reese said grimly, as he took a pair of binoculars out of his pack.
"What do you see?"
"Nothing good," he said, as he brought them to his eyes. "Shit, they didn't waste any time did they?"
"Is that a rhetorical question?"
He handed her the binoculars. "North, north west," he said. "Follow the line of the far peak."
The binoculars came into focus, but it took Martha a moment or two to realise what she was looking at. "It's an oil field," she said.
"Right, now go west another few degrees...?"
Martha frowned as she panned the binoculars, "It looks like another oil field, but the equipment looks a bit different."
"That's because it isn't oil; it's gas...now go west another few degrees."
Martha did what he asked. "Is that a strip mine?"
"This part of the Rockies is supposed to be a nature reserve," Reese said. "None of this was here ten weeks ago."
Martha bit her lip. "How rich is this area? I mean, in oil and minerals, and stuff?"
Reese laughed humourlessly. "It'd be quicker to list off the mineral deposits this area doesn't have," he said. "You name it, it's here."
"A playground for the Master, in terms of base materials," Martha said softly. "More rocket weapons for him."
"That guy's twisted, even by my standards," Reese said." He's already got the whole planet on its knees, what more does he want?"
"The Doctor reckons he's insane."
Reese shook his head. "I've seen insane - hell, I've been there. Trust me, that ain't his problem."
Martha looked at Reese, curious. "What do you think it is, then?" she asked.
"I think...." He paused. "I think he's like that kid in the playground, the one that likes to pull the legs off spiders. He likes to hurt people."
"That sounds like crazy to me."
"Crazy is when a person doesn't know right from wrong. The Master knows the difference, he just doesn't care."
"And the Doctor cares too much," Martha added softly.
Reese huffed under his breath. "Now there is a guy who sounds like he's in need of a reality check."
"What does that mean?" Martha asked, scowling at him.
"Oh, come on, Jones," he drawled. "Look at what he's got you doing, travelling around the world on a wing and a prayer - you call this sane?"
"Ha! And what does that say about you?"
"It means I should have my head examined," he grumbled. "But you already knew that."
"Right, so...." Martha grinned. "Now that we've established that everyone but the Master is completely batty, how do we go about this?"
Reese eyed the town below them. "Tell me why I agreed to this?" he asked rhetorically.
"This was your idea."
"I said you needed a distraction, Jones."
"This is a distraction."
"No, this is an out-take from a loony tunes cartoon. You might as well have ACME engraved on its barrel and get it over with."
"I'm sorry, is that some lame American pop culture reference I'm not getting?" Martha asked, trying to keep the smirk off her face.
Reese sighed. "We'll wait until sunset," he said.
Martha watched him skulk into the undergrowth, no doubt looking for firewood and something to beat up, and grinned. "Beep, beep," she said, under her breath.
They drove as near as they dared to the city limits, before hiding the bike under a small heap of brambles.
"You sure this guy is reliable?" Martha asked,
"As reliable as anyone is, these days," Reese said flatly, his eyes looking upward, watching for movement along the rooftop.
Martha nodded silently, not wanting to probe him further while they were still out in the open. Boulder stank of fear, which wasn't surprising, she supposed, considering the high Toclafane presence. She had heard a rumour that the industrial area, on the far side of town, had been turned into a work camp. Absently, she toyed with the key at her neck and she heard a tsk of annoyance from her side.
"Would you stop that?" he muttered, batting her hand away. "I keep forgetting you're there when you tinker with that thing."
"Wait a minute...this works on you?" Martha asked, surprised.
He shrugged. "Yeah, of course it does," he admitted.
"Then how did you know where I was, the first time we met?" she asked.
"Heightened sense of paranoia," he said.
Martha looked at him. She couldn't figure out if he was joking.
Suddenly, he shouldered her into a doorway, and put a finger to his lips. Martha watched as he explained, with a few hand gestures, that he wanted her to keep put. She pulled a face but nodded, reluctantly.
And then he disappeared.
He was quite good at that.
Martha sank into the shadow of the doorway; her fingers curling around the key, as she made a mental note to ask him how he did that. Now that was one trick she wouldn't mind picking up.
Time ticked by, and Martha began to worry. They had gone through this routine more times than Martha could count, over the last few weeks, and she tried her best not to feel like the golden goose being kept under wraps. Reese sometimes gave a whole new meaning to the word overprotective.
A hand suddenly tapped her arm, and Martha glared up into Reese's face as her heart thudded in her chest. "I told you not to do that," she mouthed.
Reese's eyebrows went up into that do I look as if I care expression of his, as he gestured for her to follow.
They kept close to the walls, careful not to make themselves an easy target from above; the Toclafane turned the city streetlights off after curfew, which actually worked in their favour. They slipped down a back street, and Reese paused beside a bin and bent down. Martha's eyes followed him and she sighed; great, another sewer system.
He silently pulled up the manhole cover, which seemed to be attached to a hinge, and gestured to Martha to go first. She felt around with her foot, found a ladder rung, and descended into the pitch dark. The brickwork was wet and damp, and Martha could hear water running in the distance. She waited as Reese stepped onto the ladder, and closed the manhole, before she turned on her torch.
"This guy keeps a work shop down here?" she asked, as she got a good look at her surroundings.
"Well, you weren't expecting a store on Main Street, were you?" he asked, as he led the way down the dank tunnel. "Besides, we still have a way to go. This isn't exactly the direct route. I figure this tunnel is one of the older ones in this network... easier to blow than reinforced concrete."
"They don't trust us," Martha said quietly.
"Don't take it so personal, Jones; nobody trusts anybody, nowadays," Reese said. "And they let us in, didn't they? It's amazing the doors your name will open, better than open sesame."
Martha felt herself blush. "Those stories are all exaggerations, you know that," she protested. "And they should be talking about the Doctor, not me."
"Oh, but they are," Reese drawled. "Martha Jones's Doctor."
She thumped his back. "You're taking the piss!"
"Yup," he said. "Man, you are too easy, sometimes."
Martha grinned, despite herself; Reese in an good mood was a rare thing. "How much further?" she asked, as they stepped into a wider tunnel.
"Not much," he said. "Half a click east - according to the message, anyway."
Martha nodded, her mind already wondering what she'd do once she'd acquired what she'd come for. She had worked hard on creating the legend of the great ‘Timelord Weapon' over the last couple of months, and it had really taken on a life of its own...but she needed something more, she needed something solid to show to the people.
Which is why she was skulking around in the sewers of Boulder, Colorado.
Reese had found about Alex Rizzo through the resistance cell they'd met up with in Denver. He was a jeweller who had turned his hand to making weapons and ammunition for the resistance, after the Master's coup. He was also high on the local Toclafane's most wanted list as a result; which is why it took some fancy footwork to arrange this meeting.
Reese's arm suddenly barred Martha's way, and she stopped in her tracks, cocking her head to listen for what had caught his attention. She frowned as she heard something that could have been footsteps. Reese caught her eye, and Martha nodded, turning off her torch.
The footsteps got closer, and Martha felt Reese tense beside her as she heard the click of the safety on his gun. She squeezed his arm: don't.
She felt the tension in his arm ease under her hand, but he didn't put the safety back on the gun. She didn't expect him to. A light flashed on, then off, at the end of the tunnel, and Martha watched as a torch ran off a Morse message, her lips mouthing the words. D-O-O-L-I-T-T-L-E. She looked up at Reese's carefully bland face, as he sent a message back. Z-H-I-V-A-G-O.
Reese had a strange sense of humour, sometimes.
"We didn't think you'd make it," a voice called out.
"Why's that?" Reese asked, his voice deceptively soft.
"Word has gotten out that you're in town," A face stepped into the light of Reese's torch; he was barely more than kid, sixteen if he was lucky, and dressed in a pair of navy overalls. "The Toclafane sweeps have doubled in the last hour and rumour says that the Valiant is on its way here."
"We'd better move quickly, then," Martha said aloud, her mind already reeling. She couldn't afford to get caught in Boulder; the Master would use her family for target practice, and it was too soon to put the Doctor's plan into practice.
Reese looked down at her and frowned. "You all right, Jones?" he asked.
"Yeah, fine, in a hurry, that's all," she said, before smiling at the boy. "What's your name?"
Suddenly, the boy seemed to lose the ability to maintain eye contact. "Joe, ma'am."
"Ooh, I'm a ma'am now, am I?" she teased
"Sorry, ma -Miss?"
"Just call me Martha, Joe," she said. "We're all in this together, eh? Which reminds me, you couldn't show us where we're going?"
"Uh, right this way," Joe muttered, as he led the way down the tunnel.
Reese sniggered and Martha gave him a quick jab in the ribs with her elbow. "Be nice," she said, under her breath.
"Oh, come on, it's funny," he mumbled back. "That's the worse case of hero worship I've seen yet, and I thought that the kid in Denver was bad."
Joe looked over his shoulder, and scowled at Reese, which made Martha think that they have been overheard. "We're here," he muttered, as he tapped at a door hidden in a recess.
The door eased open silently. It had obviously been well oiled. "Get in," a voice from behind the door said, and Reese obliged, glancing around before he let Martha follow. Joe took up the rear and shut the door after them.
No sooner had the door closed, than an overhead bulb came on, and Martha blinked against the sudden glow of light, before turning to see who'd opened the door. It was a woman in her late forties, dark curling hair, going grey at the temples. She also bore more than a passing resemblance to Joe, Martha realised.
"I'm looking for Alex Rizzi," she said aloud.
The woman smiled ruefully. "You're looking at her," she said. "You must be Martha Jones." She phrased the statement as if it were a question and Martha nodded.
"Let's get down to business, shall we?" Martha said. "Neither of us wants me around here longer than I have to be."
She nodded reluctantly, her eyes sliding to Joe. "Double the trouble, at the moment," she said. "Someone has a big mouth, is all I'll say."
"Heard the Valiant is coming," Martha said, as Alex led them down a short hall and into a large room that had been fitted out as a munitions shop.
"I heard that too," Alex said. "But it's probably just the Colonel mouthing off again."
"The Colonel?" Reese echoed sharply. "Has he got an actual name?"
"According to him, that is his name," Alex said wryly. "His way of emulating the Master, I suppose. The guy's got a screw loose, if you ask me." She looked at Martha, adding, "And he's got a real jonesing for you, too. Pardon the pun."
Martha frowned. "Why is that?" she asked.
"Well, according to him, you two have met before," Alex said, as she pulled a silver case off a shelf. "Something about a set to in Sparta?"
Martha caught Reese's eye as she realised who Alex was talking about.
"He must have survived the crash," Reese said. "Could be trouble; nothing worse than a guy out for blood; he'll have to be taken care of."
"We'll talk about it later," Martha said firmly.
Alex ignored their exchange and opened the case with a click. "Speaking of revenge, are you two positive this thing is going to help bring down the Master?" she asked. "Because, I've got to tell you, I came this close to not making this contraption when I got the plans. It was only when they said that you'd be coming in person to collect it, that I knew they were serious."
Martha looked down at the case's contents and grinned as her eyes took in the silvered casing and the multicoloured vials. "Alex, I can definitely say, that this is probably the single most effective weapon we have against the Master."
Reese rolled his eyes, and slapped the case closed. "We should get a move on," he said.
Alex nodded. "They'll send a patrol down this way, soon enough," she said. "They usually do, once they've searched everywhere else."
Martha took the hint. "Thank you, Alex," she said simply. "And--"
"No need to say it," Alex cut in. "This is one secret I'm taking to the grave."
Martha nodded, and followed Reese down the hallway, Joe taking up the rear. The overhead light went off, and she flipped on her torch as Reese opened the door.
"Bye, Martha," Joe whispered, as she stepped into tunnel. "Stay safe."
Reese smirked as they both heard the bolt in the door slide home, and Martha gave him a half hearted slap on the arm. "Stop that! It isn't hero worship!"
"You know, I think you may be right."
"Wait a minute, do my ears deceive me? Did the great Derek Reese just admit to being wrong?"
"What can I say? Hero worship, true love, easy mistake to make."
Martha stuck out her tongue at him. It seemed the only appropriate course of action.
Lake Mead was a damp morass, the Hoover dam a jagged ruin; in retrospect, Martha guessed they should have expected that. Vegas, after all, had been a ghost town. "I guess the Master likes to discourage loitering in the south west," she said softly.
"Looks like," Reese said, his face wary. "We need to move on."
Martha eyed him, noting the set of his shoulders. "Trouble?"
"Of a sort," he said, as he headed for the bike.
Martha squinted her eyes against the sun, and looked down the hill. "Is that a dust trail?"
"Yup," he said shortly, as he threw her helmet at her. She caught it.
"Friend or foe?" she asked.
"Out here?" Reese asked. "Hell, Jones, this is the Mojave desert. Nowadays, even your friends can turn nasty in a place like here, trust me on this."
Martha frowned as she put on her helmet. "You sound like you're speaking from experience," she said.
"I spent some time around here when I was younger," he drawled. "Fun stuff."
"But surely it was different, then," Martha said. "You know, before the Master."
Reese looked at her. "C'mon, Jones, I thought you'd have figured it out by now."
Martha sighed. "You weren't here before the Master came to power, were you?" she ventured.
"Give the girl a cigar."
Martha wrinkled her nose. "So, what's your story, then? Time agent? Because I've met one of those...well, he was an ex-time agent, but you get the drift."
Reese raised an eyebrow. "What kind of life, exactly, did you lead before all this?"
"Before I met the Doctor, or after?" Martha asked.
"Like that, is it?" Reese drawled.
"You haven't answered my question."
"I hadn't realised you'd asked me one - and we really need to get a move on, Jones."
Martha looked over her shoulder as she hopped on the bike behind him. The dust cloud had become larger. "You think they're the Master's men?" she asked, wrapping her arms around his waist as he revved the engine.
"Nothing so simple, I think," he shouted back. "Hold on, they're close enough to see us on the ridgeline - that was sloppy of me - I may have to do some fancy driving.
Martha rolled her eyes, and hung on tighter. She'd had first hand experience of Reese's cross-country driving. "Try not to kill us!" she yelled, as the bike accelerated.
The bike ate up the ground, and Martha tucked her head behind Reese's back as the debris flew. After the TARDIS, pretty much any other form of transportation was tame in comparison, but the bike was still pretty rough.
She tried to look on the bright side; at least this time she wouldn't fall off at the end of the universe.
Thinking of the TARDIS, made her think of the Doctor and Jack, and her family on the Valiant, and a familiar knot of worry formed in her chest. She tried to push away the images her overactive imagination always summoned when she thought of them; of what the Master was doing to them. It didn't bear thinking about.
The bike swerved, and Martha clung on as they suddenly dipped into a narrow ravine. She looked up, curious. How had he known this was here?
Oh, right, he'd been here before.
The ride along the ravine's bottom was bumpy, and Martha feared that the suspension might go, like it had in the Rockies. Somehow, she didn't think Reese would be lucky enough to find yet another deserted garage in the middle of the Mojave Desert.
"Hold on," Reese shouted, and Martha wondered what he thought she'd been doing until now. Suddenly, the ground seemed to disappear underneath them, and Martha bit down on the scream that bubbled to her lips as she realised they were flying midair over a very deep crevice.
They hit the other side, and Reese braked the bike, looking over his shoulder with an air of satisfaction. "They'll need to know the area pretty well to know that's there," he said.
"Nobody would survive a fall like that, Reese," Martha said shakily.
Reese shrugged. "It isn't as if we'd be pushing them in," he pointed out. "And if they follow us down here, Jones, you know as well as I, they won't be well wishers."
Martha sighed as she tried to come up with an argument Reese would understand. She wasn't having any success. "How far is it to San Diego," she eventually asked, changing the subject.
"The route we're taking? About four days." Reese started up the engine once more. "But we should make the Californian border by sunset and, if we keep to our south westerly direction and find a working pump before we hit the desert properly again, we--"
"Wait a minute, what's that about a south westerly direction?" Martha interrupted. "Won't we miss Los Angeles completely if we do that?"
Reese eyed her. "You've got an objection?"
"Hell, yeah!" she said. "You know what I'm trying to do, Reese; I need to spread the word to as many different areas as possible, and the population of the greater Los Angeles region is huge-"
"Not anymore it isn't," Reese said shortly, revving the engine.
Martha leaned forward and turned the key, snatching it out of the bike's lock. "Is there something you need to tell me, Reese?"
"We're both going to die from bullet wounds if we don't get out of this ravine in the next ten minutes?"
He turned on the bike and looked down at her. "I was in Los Angeles when they hit, Jones. It was a bloodbath. He might as well have dropped an A bomb on it, and gotten it over with."
"But you survived?"
His smile was more like a sneer. "Yeah, I survived. Go me."
"But maybe there were others, then."
"There's nobody left, Jones."
"How can you be so sure?"
"Because, in the end, the Master didn't have to drop on A bomb on Los Angeles; somebody else did it for him."
Martha stared at him, not resisting as he wrestled the keys out of her hands and started up the bike. The engine roared, and Martha broke free of her shock and caught his wrist, holding it tightly. "Was it you, Reese?"
He looked at his wrist, and then looked at her. "No," he said simply. "But it was someone like me."
They crossed the border a little later than Reese had predicted, but Martha was okay with that. She had needed the time to think. For the last three months, she had travelled with Derek Reese, and had even let him protect her; it was a situation that she'd never felt comfortable with but she had tolerated it because she understood where he was coming from... to a certain degree.
And that was the catch, wasn't it?
Oh sure, Reese knew about the Doctor, and knew the tale she'd told to every ragtag group of humanity they'd come across, but other than that? Dribs and drabs, nothing much... as if they'd both been too afraid to talk of their past because that's what it was - their past.
So he didn't ask her, and she didn't ask him; and they fed each other sops when they felt the other needed it... and the darkness got too much.
She looked up at the starry sky that seemed to almost blaze above the desert air. The landscape was already becoming dry again, away from the dam; raw sienna and burnt umber under a yellow sun, a silvered grey under the stars. It was so beautiful; it was a pity she couldn't enjoy the wonder of it.
"Are you just going to stargaze all night?" Reese drawled, as he threw a dead rabbit by the unlit fire. "Or are you going to actually light that?"
"Where were you born?" Martha asked softly, ignoring his words, as she watched him prowl around the unlit fire and sit, cross-legged.
He eyed her. "Are we really going to have this conversation?" he asked, as he began to skin the rabbit.
"I think we need to, don't you?" she asked.
"Where were you born?" he countered.
"London, England," she replied promptly. "You?"
He smirked. "Los Angeles, California."
"Really?" she looked at him, up and down. "Don't take this the wrong way, Reese, but I would never have pegged you for a native Californian."
"What? I ain't Hollywood enough for ya?"
Martha tugged at her lip with her teeth; what wasn't he telling her? She knew that there was something, but she couldn't quite put her finger on it. She remembered her guess from earlier, and bit the bullet. "Reese, what year were you born?"
He smiled humourlessly. "You sure you want to know the answer to that?" he asked.
"I wouldn't have asked if I didn't."
Reese put the rabbit and knife aside and looked at her. His face looked harsh and cold under the starlight, and Martha wondered if she'd done the right thing in asking. Maybe she should have left well enough alone... but, then again, she had never been very good at that. "Reese?"
"1995," he said softly.
"What?" Martha blinked. "But that can't be right - that would make you only thirteen years old!"
"I'm thirty two."
Martha did the math. "2027."
"I don't understand," Martha said. "I didn't think humanity would discover that sort of technology for centuries."
"Who said anything about humanity?"
Martha stared at him, as he went back to skinning the rabbit. "Reese, what are you telling me?" she asked.
"I'm telling you that this should never have happened," he drawled. "And I'm also telling you that I shouldn't be here... weird, huh?"
Martha frowned. "I don't understand."
"Yeah, well, welcome to my world, Jones. I should be thirteen years old; hell, I was thirteen years old... and then, three months ago, I got killed by a Toclafane."
"But that doesn't make sense," Martha pointed out
"Story of my life," he muttered, as he leaned down and started the fire with a match, blowing on the dry twigs to encourage a blaze. Martha watched him as she turned his words around in her mind.
"You still haven't told me why you came back in time," she said.
"Trust me, Jones, you wouldn't believe me if I told you."
He looked up from the fire, his eyes inscrutable. "I was sent back in time to protect the saviour of the human race." The words came out flat, as if he wasn't sure he should believe them himself.
"You're not talking about the Doctor, are you?" Martha asked hoarsely.
"No, Jones, I'm not talking about the Doctor." He put the rabbit on the spit.
"Should I be worried?"
"How should I know?" he asked. "It wasn't supposed to go down this way, remember?"
"And the bomb in Los Angeles, what happened there?" Martha asked, feeling her mouth go dry.
He looked at her. "He probably thought he was saving the world, too," he said.
They were less than an hour outside San Diego when they saw the convoy on the horizon, and Reese halted the bike so he could get a good look at them through his binoculars. "Ten Jeeps, high end," he said. "Mounted artillery, dark fatigues - definitely mercs."
Martha pulled the binoculars from his hands. "Let me have a look," she said, as she put them to her eyes. "They're heading right this way."
"Yeah," he said, in that way he did when he suspected something more.
"You reckon they're after us?" she asked.
"I reckon that more than a few people knew our next main destination was San Diego," he said.
Martha nodded; they'd had to grease a lot of palms to arrange transport out of San Diego and into South America, and a lot of them of them were smugglers, pure and simple. That was why Reese had made multiple transport arrangements; he had hoped to muddy the waters a bit. It hadn't worked as well as they'd wished, apparently.
"Should we try for the Mexican border?" she asked.
"Not a chance," Reese muttered. "Security was good there before the Master took over, now it's just plain homicidal."
Martha frowned as she focused on the lead jeep. "You know, there's something familiar about that.... Oh..."
"Promise you won't blow a gasket?"
"It's that Colonel guy."
"What? Give me those!" He snatched the binoculars from her, and looked through them. "I told you, you should have let me take care of him."
"And I told you, I wasn't going to let you go around assassinating people just because you find their existence inconvenient!"
He threw her a sardonic glance. "I guess we should consider ourselves inconvenienced, then," he drawled. "Shall I slice up the cucumber sandwiches while you make the tea?"
She punched him in the arm. "That's not funny!"
"Damned right it ain't," he muttered. "We need to make a move, fast. Those missile launchers attacked to the jeeps will be in range soon and--"
"And?" Martha asked, tugging on his arm. "And what?"
"Never mind, change of plans," he muttered.
"Get on the bike, Martha!"
Martha blinked at the urgency in his voice, and got on the bike. "What did you see?" she asked.
"Toclafane," he said grimly, as he revved the engine to life.
They made it to the outskirts of San Diego, and Martha had actually thought they were going to make it to cover, when the first Toclafane seemed to come out of nowhere.
"Shit!" Reese yelped, swerving the bike out of the way. The Toclafane sped after them as Reese manoeuvred into a narrow alley, and Martha held on for dear life as the bike careered down the alley.
"You've got to jump, Jones!" Reese said. "Without me, they won't be able to focus on your whereabouts."
And without me, they won't miss you next time!" Martha yelled back. "You know it's the TARDIS key that's confusing their aim!"
"Damn it, Jones, will you jump, or do I have to push you?" She felt him pry at her fingers just as another Toclafane flew in front of them and, this time, Reese couldn't keep control of the bike.
It flipped onto its side, throwing Martha free as Reese held onto the handlebars. She fell onto her back, jarring every bone in her body. For a moment, she thought she was going to lose consciousness, and she counted to three before she opened her eyes. Everything was a blur. She tried not to curse as she realised what that might mean. The last thing she needed right now was a concussion.
Then her eyes focused, and Martha wished she could close them again, as she looked at the two Toclafane hovering over Reese, their blades extended.
"Where is she?" they asked.
He lay on his back, looking up at them, stubbornly silent, and one of the Toclafane dipped and sliced through his jacket, cutting through cloth and skin.
"Tell us where Martha Jones is?" it asked. "Or we won't stop."
And Reese laughed, he actually laughed at them. "You think you're the first metal bitch that's cut me open?" he asked. "Trust me, you're nothing but a damned amateur!"
Martha's nails bit into her hands as she realised he was trying to goad them into killing him. She looked around, searching for something she could throw, something that would distract them, and then she saw his fingers tapping on the ground.
He still didn't look in her direction, but he knew where she was. He always knew where she was.
The sound of engines became louder, and the Toclafane floated upward as the convoy of Jeeps turned onto the street. "We found him for you, Colonel!" one of them chirped. "Aren't we good?"
The Colonel stepped out of the Jeep and slowly walked towards Reese. He favoured one leg slightly and moved carefully; he hadn't come out of the crash in Sparta unscathed, then.
"I didn't catch your name, last time we met." The Colonel said, as he approached Reese. "Although, of course, I'm fully aware of your friend's name."
"Who?" Reese bit out.
The Colonel sneered, before calling over his shoulder. "Search the area, classic sweep formation; she's around here somewhere," he said. "And as for this one..." the Colonel tilted his head, eying Reese speculatively. "We'll bring him along to base camp with us."
The sun had just gone down, and Martha had only nine hours left before the boat to Ecuador shipped out. She bit her lip, her mind going over her options, as she looked through her binoculars at what used to be San Diego's premier hotel resort. It was crawling with mercenaries.
"Ma'am," a soft voice called from the door. "We should be going; it's not safe here, not this close to the old base."
Martha looked over her shoulder, at the man the local resistance cell had assigned her when she'd contacted them earlier that day . "I told you to stop calling me Ma'am, John," she said. "Martha, or Jones, will do."
"Yes, Ma....rtha," he said. "Sorry, habit," he added, with a small smile.
Martha nodded. Sergeant John Graham was career military, or had been before the Toclafane had descended and taken over the nearby naval base. "You have the information I need?" she asked.
"You do realise this is a suicide mission?"
"That wasn't what I asked," Martha said, holding out her hand as he reached inside his coat.
"These are the most comprehensive maps I could find," he murmured. "I even found maps for the sewer and maintenance tunnels, although they're going to be pretty useless to us - the Mercs sealed them off
Martha frowned. "You know what I want to know?" she asked. "Why isn't the Colonel using the huge naval base next door for his centre of operations?"
"That question's easy," John said. "It's full of Toclafane, and nobody wants to spend a lot of time around them, not even their allies - word is, accidents start to happen."
Martha suppressed a shiver, as her mind summoned up images of what those accidents might be. "Right," she said aloud. "That just makes my job easier, I suppose."
John looked at her, his face a picture of worry. "With all due respect, Ma-artha, this is crazy. You can't go in there by yourself."
"Oh yeah?" Martha muttered. "Just watch me."
"The resistance cannot afford to lose you, Ma'am."
"Well, it's a good thing that's not going to happen, isn't it?" Martha returned, as she spread the maps on the floor. "So...where do you reckon they're holding him?"
John sighed. "In the hotel gym," he said.
Martha looked up from the map. "You sound very sure of that."
"Our man on the inside saw him..."
Martha absorbed that. "What aren't you telling me?" she asked.
"He's...Reese's not in a good way," John said.
Martha sighed and nodded. "I wasn't expecting him to be," she admitted softly . "All the more reason to get him out of there, sooner rather than later."
"Ma'am - Martha, this can't work."
Martha smiled at the ex-marine. "Don't worry, John, I'm not as crazy as I sound," she said, absently patting the pocket she'd stashed the TARDIS key in. "I have an ace up my sleeve."
"You're going to need more than an ace to pull this one off," he warned.
"Just be here when I get back," Martha said, as she stashed the maps into her pack and shouldered it.
"But Ma'am, you can't go in there alone--"
"I can, and I will, John," Martha said firmly. "Be ready to move when the time comes."
He sighed, but nodded reluctantly, and Martha smiled at him as she got up from her crouch. "Cheer up, John; soon I'll be out of your hair for good."
"Yeah, that's what I'm afraid of," he muttered.
Sergeant John Graham may have had a point, Martha thought ruefully, as she eyed the hotel complex. It probably was more than a little bit stupid, to even attempt this, but she'd had her fill of leaving people behind in the last few months. First her family, and then the Doctor and Jack...
She wasn't about to add Derek Reese to the list.
"Right, you can do this, Jones," she muttered to herself, as she crept through the hotel's parking lot, empty except for the jeeps. "Can't be worse than New York, right?" She grimaced to herself; maybe that hadn't been the best image to evoke.
The ground floor was ablaze with light, and Martha heard something that sounded remarkably like chamber music waft through the windows. She ignored it as she snuck along the rhododendrons that bordered the gardens, keeping as much to the shadows as she could. The TARDIS key kept her masked from most people's perceptions, but she didn't want to rely on it too much.
She was nearing the gym when she paused; where would she go from here? Reese was injured, that much she knew, so she needed to not only rescue him, but also move him off the base without getting them both killed. Easier said than done.
Of course, she could always commandeer some transportation...
Martha looked back at the jeeps and grinned. Derek Reese 101: How to hotwire a car. She'd always known it'd come in handy one day.
She crouched under the window, straining to hear voices, but she couldn't hear anything over the chamber music, which seemed to blast through every single speaker in the hotel. It was beginning to get on her nerves, and she suspected that was kind of the point.
Sighing, she poked her head above the sill and looked inside. John's intel had been good. Reese was in the gym, tied to what looked like a weights rack. Well, at least it wasn't a cage again, Martha thought, as she looked around the room and spotted the two guards, snoozing on chairs just inside the door. Martha supposed they didn't think much of Reese's chances of escaping and, looking at the shallowness of Reese's breathing, and the way he slumped against his restraints, she had to agree.
"Not good, not good," she muttered; an injured Reese was one thing, an unconscious Reese was another. She had to think... what could she use to move him? One of those hotel wheelie trays she used to see in all those movies? Hmm, maybe not... a laundry basket, perhaps?
Huh, that might work
Now all she had to do is find a pinny and a basket.
It was really amazing what the TARDIS key allowed her to get away with. She'd found a small staff entrance, at the back, and the Laundry room in the basement, without a hitch. She even found one of the hotel staff uniforms.
Quickly, she donned it, and stuffed her clothes into the bottom of an empty basket, along with her satchel, before checking herself in the mirror, and wiping off the smudges on her face. If all went well, they wouldn't even register her walking into the room, never mind look at her twice; but it was better to be safe than sorry.
"Right," she told her reflection. "No more stalling. Just get out there and do it...before you lose your nerve."
She pushed the basket before her, and used the staff elevator to get to the ground floor. Two soldiers, waiting for the main elevator to arrive, did a double take when the doors open, but Martha could almost see the haze fill their eyes a moment later.
"Excuse me," she muttered, her head down as she pushed the basket past them. An itch developed between her shoulder blades as she walked down the hallway, towards the gym, but she stopped herself from running or looking back.
The gym doors were now straight ahead of her, and Martha kept her eyes trained on them as a small group of soldiers suddenly appeared through a side door. She refused to look at them.
At last, she gained the gym doors, and pushed them open with the basket. The sleeping guards snorted in their sleep and Martha froze for a moment, certain they would wake up.
Luck was with her.
She crept towards the weight rack and peered at Reese's restraints. The Colonel had used plastic ties again, just like the ones he'd used on her in Sparta. She rooted around in the bottom of the basket and found her pocketknife in her trousers, before she gently shook Reese' shoulder. He didn't respond.
Frowning, Martha put the back of her hand to his forehead; he was burning up. She looked down at the bloodied t-shirt he was wearing and had a nasty suspicion. He had an infection. Her mind went through all the things she'd need to clean the infection up. She'd need to break into a medical facility or a hospital...
But, first, she needed to get Reese the hell out of here.
She cut through the plastic restraints and grunted under Reese's weight as he fell sideways. Talk about a dead weight--
She winced at her own thoughts as she levered him into the laundry basket, pulling the sheet over him. Part of her couldn't believe she was getting away this but, then again, she wasn't really. It was the TARDIS's key that was giving her the edge...
A soft groan came from the basket, and one of the guards shifted uneasily in his sleep. Quickly, Martha pushed the basket towards the door. The guards may ignore the sound she made, but the same didn't extend to Reese, apparently.
She backed out of the room with the basket, sighing with a relief as the doors swung shut behind her and looked around for the nearest exit. No doubt about it; she'd definitely feel better once she was outside.
She steered the basket for the nearest set of double doors, and barrelled through them, halting as she realised she was suddenly in the dark again. A groan came from the basket again, and Martha pulled the sheet back. "Reese?"
Martha frowned; he didn't recognise her voice. That wasn't good. "Reese, it's Martha," she said, as she checked his temperature again. It was climbing. "You're running a fever."
"Martha?" he mumbled, and then his eyes shot open. "Martha, what are you - ah." He fell back into the basket. "Damn, that hurt."
"Just relax," Martha told him. "I'm going to find us some transport."
Reese laughed painfully. "This I gotta see."
"Oh ye of little faith," Martha declared as she pushed the basket in front of her. "Now be quiet, you'll attract the guards." They'd reached the parking lot, and Martha paused as she looked at the jeeps.
"The one with the mounted machine gun," Reese muttered, as he suddenly started to drag himself out of the basket.
"Not bloody likely - and what do you think you're doing?" Martha added, as she grabbed him around the waist.
Reese looked at her in disgust. "I'm standing up, what does it look like I'm doing?"
"Looks a lot less like standing up and more like weaving about, to me," Martha snorted.
"You're going to argue with a dying man?"
"You're not dying."
"I will be if I we don't get out of this parking lot soon." Reese responded.
"We don't need a machine gun."
"Yes, we do," Reese said, before adding, "Lets put it this way, Jones: If you were the bad guy, chasing an escaped prisoner, how eager would you be to catch up if the escapee had a machine gun?"
Martha pulled a face. "Good point," she sighed, as she helped the limping Reese towards the armed jeep and handed him her pocket-knife. "Have at it."
"But I thought you were going to do the honours," he teased as he popped the door lock.
Martha pulled her satchel and clothes out of the basket. "Even with a fever, you're a pain in the arse," she muttered.
"Were you expecting something different?"
Martha just shook her head and watched as he pulled the wires out from underneath the driving wheel. Sweat beaded his brow, and Martha wondered what it was costing him to remain conscious, never mind coherent. "Who's Sarah?" she asked suddenly.
"When you awoke, you called me Sarah."
"Did I?" For a moment, he looked confused. "Huh..."
"Sarah was John's Mother," he murmured, and Martha looked at him, trying to gauge what he was thinking. There was more to it than that, she just knew it.
Suddenly, an alarm screeched to life, and Reese and Martha stared at each other.
"You drive," he said firmly, as he crawled into the back of the Jeep, behind the mounted machine gun.
"Right." She jumped into the driver's seat and looked at the wires, her mind going blank for a moment, before she remembered the correct ones to connect. The engine roared to life, and Martha slammed her foot down on the accelerator. She remembered the last time she'd driven a car. People had been trying to kill her then, too.
The wheels squealed as she did a sharp turn in the parking lot, blinking as all the hotel's exterior lights came on. The windows on the second floor were shot out, as gunfire filled the air, and Martha swerved the jeep wildly, hoping to make the jeep a harder target, as Reese laid down cover fire.
"Jones! Head for the marina!" Reese said, through the rear window.
The marina? But the rendezvous point was over twenty miles south. "You sure about that?" she called back.
"Damned positive - now put the pedal to the floor, Jones!"
She revved the engine and roared down the road, even as she wondered why they weren't already covered in Toclafane. The only reason she could come up with was that the Colonel didn't like the Toclafane on the hotel grounds - for any reason.
The marina was less than two miles away, and Martha glanced over her shoulder at Reese. "What the hell are you up to?" she asked, once they were out of range of the hotel's windows. .
"We still have an advantage," he said. "But that advantage is going to disappear any moment now, once they begin to gain on us, or send the Toclafane after us. We need to disappear off their radar - fast!"
The marina was in sight, and Martha felt her mouth go dry, as she realised what Reese must be thinking. "Reese, let me just go on record right now and say that this is the craziest idea you've ever had - and this is me talking!"
"Keep going - and grab your bag, we're going for a dip!"
The jeep hit the quay at full speed and, for a moment, Martha thought the tyres were going to blow... not that it really mattered. "Forget crazy," Martha said, through gritted teeth, shouldering her bag as she struggled to keep the car on course. She kicked the door open "Try Insaaaaaanne!"
She was drowning, she was sure she was drowning; the salt water filled her nose and her mouth, and everything felt so cold and peaceful. She felt something tug at her, but she didn't have the energy to respond, and it was easier to just give in and float and...
Pain, burning pain, as oxygen seared her lungs. Her chest hurt from the pounding Reese had just given it, and her eyes stung; she turned on her side, and puked.
"Give me a moment." She had nearly given in; it was just for a moment, but she remembered it. Martha Jones never gave in.
"Sorry, Martha, we don't have time for a moment."
Martha's eyes opened at the sound of pain in his voice. She turned to look at him, and bit her lip as she saw him hunched over on the sand. "How bad is it?" she asked pensively.
"Bad," he said.
"Can you move?" she asked as she got to feet and staggered to his side. "Here, let me have a look." She carefully removed his fingers, which were pressed into his stomach, easing her own into place to keep the pressure up, as she examined it. "This isn't just the the injuries from the Toclafane...you've been shot."
"Pot shot...just my luck, huh?"
"It's more than bad," Reese said quietly.
"Not necessarily...," Martha murmured, her mind going through the permutations. "Doctor, remember? If we can patch you up, get you a blood transfusion--"
"I'm AB negative, Jones."
Martha's heart sank. "Trust you to have a rare blood type," she joked weakly.
He laughed, and Martha tried to blink away the tears as she noticed he had blood in his mouth; internal injuries, shit.
"Hold still," she murmured. "It mightn't be as bad as we think--"
"No, you don't understand," he said. "It's kinda funny because...this is where I came in, you see..."
"Okay, now you're just delirious," Martha muttered, as she looked around and spotted her satchel. She rooted around in it for something to bind his chest.
He clutched at her hand, there was blood on it. There was blood everywhere. "In my left sock...there's an USB key. Chances are, you'll never need to know the shit on it, what with what's happened and all, but....just in case, I'd like you to...to...."
"Derek, if you're telling me you're giving me your last will and testament, you know where to put it."
"Hey...if it all goes to plan, I'll have nothing to worry about... big magic rewind button, right?"
Martha laughed, and tried to wipe away the tears running down her face. "Yeah, big magic rewind button," she murmured.
"God, you'll believe anything, won't you?"
"I think that's the point," she snorted. She waited for his comeback; it never came. She leaned forward and closed his eyes with her hand.
"Bye, Derek," she murmured.
She got to her feet and looked around. She was on a deserted beach, and it was still night. The soft glow she saw in the north was probably San Diego. Something told her that Reese had somehow gotten her to her rendezvous point, just like he always did.
She crouched down and found the USB key in his sock. Maybe, later, she'd find a chain for it and hang it around her neck with the TARDIS key
She suspected she was in shock, but she didn't really care to think about it.
She had a boat to catch.
A world to save.
A lot of people were counting on her.
If somebody had asked Martha Jones to sum up who Derek Reese was, she wouldn't have had to think twice about it.
"Scary," she would have said, and then, a beat later: "A friend but...yeah, scary."
But, then again, nobody would ever ask Martha that question.
Because Martha Jones had never met Derek Reese, not really.
And yet, of all the people Martha had met, during that long and terrible year, Derek Reese was probably the one who'd made the most impact of all. She had watched so many people die in those months, had left so many people behind. But, in many ways, Reese's death had cut the deepest; perhaps because she'd secretly thought he was too damned stubborn to die.
Just like she was.
So, as she listened to the low voices of her family downstairs, and the vibrant heart of the TARDIS as it arrived outside, she looked at the USB key in her hand with some trepidation. It had been nearly a week since the Master had been defeated and, as the Doctor had been busy repairing the TARDIS, Martha had spent her time checking up on those she'd left behind during those long and dark months.
Derek Reese had been the exception.
For the last nine months, she'd kept the USB key with her. She had told herself that she'd check what was on it the moment she got her hands on a working computer but, somehow, something else always came up when she did. She'd been lying to herself, of course, and she knew it.
"Martha, the Doctor is here." Martha looked up at the sound of her sister's voice. Tish tried hide it, but Martha could still hear the pain.
"I'll be down in a few minutes," she called back, as she played with the key in her hand and eyed the laptop on the bed beside her.
"Okay, then, but he doesn't seem to want to come in. He's lurking on the other side of the hedge."
Martha grinned, despite herself. "Yeah, he's rubbish at domestic scenes. Let him be, I'll deal with him," she said. She plugged the key in, there were two files on it; one was an audio file, the other was a file called ‘Skynet'. She tapped on the audio file, and felt something in her chest tighten as Reese's voice filled the room.
"...Dammit, John....are you sure this mic is working?"
"Hey, you're the communications tech, shouldn't you know? Oh...wait...yeah, it's working..." The other voice was young, yet somehow managed to sound old; John, Derek's nephew.
"This is a dumb idea."
"Most Hail Marys are. Now start talking while I compile the file; those flying machines might come back for another sweep."
Martha heard Reese's sigh, and almost laughed aloud. "Okay... where do I start...my name is Derek Reese and, I'm gonna tell you all about Judgement Day - the other one, that is; the one that's going to come in 2011"
The first thing Martha, saw, when she stepped into the living room, was her mother looking out the window. She was smiling that thin lipped smile of hers, the one she used when she was trying not to cry. Martha's eyes followed her gaze, and spotted the Doctor smiling sadly back, through the glass.
"You're going to go with him, aren't you?" her father asked.
Martha took a deep breath. "No, I'm not."
"You're not?" Tish asked. "But I thought--"
"Long story," Martha said, as she pulled on her jacket. "Really long story; we'll talk about it when I get back, yeah?"
"You haven't told him yet, then?" her mother asked, her voice soft. She didn't turn from the window.
"No," Martha told her. "But it won't take long,"
And it hadn't taken long. It was as if the Doctor already knew what she'd say; even her last minute confession didn't seem to truly faze him. Martha supposed she shouldn't be surprised. The Doctor always knew more than he let on, but she felt better for saying it, anyway.
She looked at Jack, who sat across the table from her, looking warily back. "I don't see why you couldn't use UNIT's database to do this search," he said. "I heard they'll do anything to get you on board."
"We're still in talks," Martha said quietly. "And I don't think UNIT is ready for this; not yet."
"I see," he drawled. "And what about telling me?"
"I'm not ready either, Jack," Martha said, shaking her head.
Jack sighed "I really shouldn't be doing this," he said, as he slid the laptop over to her. "Make it quick."
With a quick smile of thanks, Martha plugged into Torchwood's database. First, she looked up John and Sarah Reese, and found an old FBI file, more than ten years old. She was about to dismiss it as a bad lead, when she looked at the photos. There was something about the boy's face that seemed familiar... She dug deeper and, sure enough, she found more. New information had been added in the last year; fresh sightings, a stream of murders, and a John Doe that linked all the incidents together. She clicked on the image file. It was Derek.
"Martha, are you okay. You look like you've just seen a ghost."
"Yeah, I'm fine," Martha said. "Just fine." She searched for more information in the FBI database, but that seemed to be it; they were at a dead end.
But Martha wasn't, she knew something they didn't. His name was Derek Reese, he was from Los Angeles, and he was thirteen years old. She logged into the birth records filed in Washington.
And she found him.
Something must have shown on her face, because Jack leaned back in his chair. "Found what you need?" he asked.
"Yeah, looks like." Martha closed the windows, cleared the caches, and slid the laptop back to him. He could still find out what she'd been looking at, but something told her that Jack wouldn't look. He'd think it rude.
"So, what now?" Jack asked.
"Now?" Martha echoed. "Now, I phone up UNIT and give them my answer."
"You're going to say yes."
"Yeah, I am."
It was another year before Martha thought about Derek Reese again. Oh sure, there were moments when he flashed into her mind, like when she did her requisite weapons training when she joined UNIT. Reese would have been so proud; she'd received her piece of paper on her first go.
And then she'd seen the Doctor again, and the TARDIS had whisked her off to a rough and ready refresher course on how bad things could get, if things went wrong.
It was then that she'd thought of Reese, and of all the things that could be going wrong on Earth, right at that very moment.
California was beautiful in the spring. Warm, yet not oppressively so. Martha found it strange to be in Los Angeles, but lovely too. This time around, everybody was alive. She felt some of the weight fall from her shoulders; maybe she should revisit all the places she'd been during that year...
Then she thought of Japan, and shuddered; maybe not.
Martha leaned back on the bench and watched Derek Reese play baseball with his kid brother. This was her fourth day in a row, and there was still no sign of the older version. But that was okay; she had another ten days of holiday left
The bench creaked and Martha looked at the teenager that had sat down beside her. There was something familiar about his face...
She froze as she realised who it was.
He shifted uncomfortably on the seat, when he realised she was staring at him. "I'm sorry, am I disturbing you?" he asked softly.
"Uh, no," Martha said. "Actually, you're exactly who I'm looking for...or close enough."
His eyes darted to her face, wary. "Why's that."
Slowly, she lifted the chain from her neck, showing him the USB key around her neck. "Your uncle gave me this," she said. "Not that he will remember it - time travel, you know." He was paying attention now. Martha felt a pang in her chest; that sort of sharpness shouldn't be present in a teenager's eyes. "There are three files on this key, two of them are audio. One was made by Derek, and the other one was made by me," Martha explained gently, handing him the chain. "I'm staying at the Clarion - and I can help."
"Help me do what?" He was still wary. With the life he'd led, Martha couldn't really blame him.
"Isn't it obvious?" she said, as she stood to leave. "I'm going to help you save the world."
Three hours later, there was a familiar knock on the hotel door.
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