|Fic: Kodachrome (Martha/Harry, PG-13, 2350 words)
||[Mar. 8th|05:24 pm]
the two doctors
Pairing: Martha Jones/Harry Sullivan
Summary: She's memorable, Martha Jones. He never had a chance. ~2,350 words, x-posted to who_otp.
There are only two possessions he would save, if there were a fire: one is a still-shiny medal, carefully preserved, for bravery and honesty and all the good things he stands for; the other is a photograph, battered but still bright.
* * * *
He's quite sure the girl standing on the street corner is a little bit strange; her clothes are like nothing any he's ever seen a girl wear, and she's just...standing there, like she owns the place, next to that old police box.
"You lost?" she asks kindly, leaning down to him; he gets a whiff of perfume and something else, and it makes him sneeze.
The girl laughs, then slips inside the box with a squeeze of his shoulder. He stays to watch, but she doesn't come out again.
The next day the box is gone, and while Harry keeps a lookout, it doesn't come back. Philip shoves him when he sees Harry looking, and they chase each other all the way back to school.
It's 1952 and someday, his radio screams tinnily during the science fiction hour, someday, man is going to touch the stars.
* * * *
He finds it in the woods out back after school; a corner sticking out from the tree roots, something he would have missed if Andrew hadn't tripped him, sending him sprawling into the dead leaves.
He manages to put it in his inside blazer pocket before the other boys see, as they're too busy laughing at him, on the ground. He doesn't see what's on it, as he's too busy trying to pull himself up with a modicum of grace.
A few hours later he's at home, upstairs in his little bedroom, and he remembers the photograph, and pulls it out of his pocket. It's an odd little square, and there's some bad handwriting on the back, a scratchy scrawl that he can't quite make out. It appears to have a date on it, but it's so far in the future as to be ludicrous. He turns the photograph around.
Harry is thirteen years old, and he has just seen his first naked woman. And she is beautiful.
* * * *
Aliens try to invade Brighton in 1985; Harry is at the beach, thoroughly unimpressed with the vacation as it is.
He ducks into one of the tents as a particularly nasty specimen goes by, and finds himself face-to-face with Martha. He gasps out loud, then blushes.
"Shh," Martha says, "that thing has incredible hearing."
They stand together in the little tent as it passes; Harry's heart is beating so hard he's sure the alien will be able to hear it, and they'll be rumbled.
"I think we're safe," Martha says finally, and she's blushing a little too, at having to stand so close together. "You helping fight these things as well? You haven't seen the Doctor, have you?"
He can feel his heart breaking, just a little bit; she's giving him a funny look and he doesn't know how to make his mouth form actual words.
"No, not for a long time, near on ten years, I'd say," he finally manages to say, blushing harder than ever. Forty-one years old, he thinks, and he might as well be thirteen again.
"Well, I'd better go find him," Martha says, edging out of the tent, still keeping her eyes on him; he gets the feeling she's trying to place him, but he's a little more weather-beaten now than he was at eight years old, wearing a terrible hat and his collar is pulled up tight. "Nice meeting you, though," she says, and she gives him a funny sort of smile.
"Hope to meet you again sometime," he says, and in an inspired moment, bows her out of the tent. She leaves laughing; Martha, beautiful as the sun shines on her face.
He's more disappointed than he'd like to admit; London, 2008, he knows, but he still holds out hope that he'll get another chance, a proper chance, before he's sixty-four years old.
* * * *
At nineteen, Harry experiences a crisis of faith. He's gone into the military, of course – navy like his father and grandfather before him, but medicine as well. It's hard work, long study, but he loves it. Only – he dreams of something more, out there. He wonders what else there is to see.
He signs up for all sorts of tours of duty, ending up doing a training course on tropical diseases on a godforsaken piece of rock out in the Pacific Ocean. He learns to fish and for the first time in his life, he gets a tan.
On the twenty-ninth and penultimate day he's there, out doing a reccie, the sun comes out from behind a cloud and he squints, as someone walks out from behind some sort of box. His eyes adjust, and there she is – London, 2008, in the flesh.
She looks a little bit younger, maybe, by a year or two; her hair is pulled tight away from her face and she's, well, she's wearing clothes. But he knows every inch of her face, the lines of her jaw and the shape of her ears, and the rest looks right too, as far as he can tell.
She smiles and waves at him, and he swallows, hard. He wishes he were wearing looser trousers.
"Harry!" she says, grinning. "My god, you look young! What are you doing here?"
"I'm sorry, miss," he manages to stammer out. "I don't, er, I don't believe we've met, as it were."
She frowns then, and sighs. "Time travel, always messing things up," she says. "I'm Martha Jones, and you're Harry Sullivan, are you not? Wait until you're thirty, it's a hell of an adventure. How old are you now?"
"Nineteen, miss," he says, and she blushes.
"Just a baby," she says, smiling when he frowns. "I'm sorry, it's just so very odd. I wonder why you didn't remember me when we met again? Or were you just faking it – that's very clever, you know. Very clever."
"Miss – Martha," he says, and he feels like he's known her name forever, "I don't quite understand what you're talking about."
"You will," she says. "I'd look up UNIT, if I were you. Might help explain things." From up on the hill they hear a shout; a man is waving at her, and she looks apologetic.
"Got to run," she says, "the Doctor's waiting. Watch out for the daisies on the main island; they're alien, and quite deadly. We should be able to sort it out, though. And I love the tan." With that, she does something so unexpected Harry can barely process it: she leans over and quickly kisses him on the mouth.
When he gets back to London, he carefully pulls out the photograph from its storage place. The colours are still vibrant; he's managed to make it lie flat again, though it's still fairly ragged. He carefully inscribes the words "Martha Jones" on the back, next to the date and place.
He doesn't feel any shame that night, when he touches himself while looking at it; the next morning he rings up his superiors in the navy and asks about any medical secondments that might be available, casually dropping the word UNIT into the discussion. They tell him a job can be waiting for him in a few years, when he finishes studying; he agrees readily. He has all the time in the world to wait.
* * * *
"This is so wrong," Martha says, laughing; she covers her mouth with her hand and it's all Harry can do to not lean over and take her in his arms.
"Your Doctor is rather...manic, isn't he?" Harry says instead, attempting to be polite.
"Barking mad," Martha says with a smile, and from the look in her eyes Harry can see what he sees in Sarah's eyes, and he knows that she is not his yet – may not be his ever, but definitely not yet.
"Still," he says, "it's quite interesting to meet other people who travel – or will travel – with the Doctor."
He realizes that even with ten years' warning, he's still incapable of making sensible conversation, and so the floor collapsing underneath them is a stroke of terrible good fortune.
He helps her from the wreckage, letting her lean on his shoulder as they walk, then attends to her wounds with the greatest of care. She watches him as he works, watches his hands, which he does his best to keep from trembling as he touches her skin.
"You're quite good at this," she says, and smiles; her hair has come undone and he's almost overwhelmed.
The two Doctors solve the mystery fairly soon after; his Doctor chides him for being out of action, but Martha's Doctor thanks him for attending to her when she was hurt.
He reaches out to shake her hand when they depart, but she has a funny look on her face, and she kisses his cheek instead.
"See you again, sometime, I hope," she says, and he's walking on air for the next week, while Sarah Jane teases him mercilessly.
* * * *
It's a lazy Sunday afternoon; she's not on shift today, and he never has anywhere to be, nothing he can't put aside to spend the day in bed with his girl.
The telephone rings, and he gets up to answer it. It's a wrong number, and he hangs up. He lingers for a moment; the hairs on the back of his neck are tingling, and he's been in too many dangerous situations over the years to ignore the feeling.
"Harry," Martha says, "come back to bed. It's cold in here without you."
He shakes his head, willing the feeling to go away. He turns around to look at her, and suddenly is laughing so hard he can barely stand up.
Martha frowns, and goes to pull the sheet up around her naked body; he puts out a hand to stop her, and fights to get under control. There's a Polaroid camera on the dresser – he remembers buying it at a second hand shop, thinking of her – and he picks it up.
"Honestly, Harry," she says, blushing a bit, "aren't we a little old for dirty pictures?"
"Martha," he replies, with a wide smile, "this is possibly the most important dirty picture in the history of the universe. Now come on, let me take a few. Don't fix your hair; it looks so beautiful spread out across the pillow like that."
He makes love to her thoroughly afterwards; on the dresser, the photos develop, his dream come to life bit-by-bit.
"So, how important?" she asks, as they curl up together. "Like, should I make sure one of these makes it to a critical juncture in the past?"
He laughs again, and gently strokes her back. "I very much doubt I should tell you," he says, "it rather seems like a, oh, what would the Doctor call it –"
"A predestination paradox?" Martha says, and Harry nods.
"You're so very beautiful, Dr Jones," he says. "You have always been beautiful and you will always be beautiful, and I will always be yours."
She smiles and kisses him, and he feels that tingle again, but puts it happily aside. There's more magic here than he knows what to do with, but he'll take what it gives him as long as he can.
* * * *
It was Andrew, again; barging into his room without knocking, while he's so engrossed in the photograph he doesn't hear the footsteps on the stairs.
"What are you looking at, old chap?" Andrew says, snatching the photograph out of Harry's grasp. The edges are getting a little worn, but Harry has always been careful to treat the photograph with the greatest respect. Andrew creases it immediately and Harry feels like he might cry.
"Give that back," he says, but Andrew is staring at it with his mouth open.
"Bloody hell," Andrew says, "I didn't think you had it in you, Sullivan! Still, it would be like you to prefer looking at a girl like that rather than go to the pictures with the girls from school."
"Like what?" Harry says; he's fiercely protective of the girl, and knows that any of the silly girls Andrew and the others go round with can't compare.
"Her skin, you fool," Andrew says, and the next thing Harry knows, they're on the floor and he's punching Andrew as hard as he possibly can. Andrew screams – not so tough now, Harry thinks viciously – but Harry just punches harder.
His father is the one to pull them apart; panting, with blood trickling from his mouth, Harry watches as his father drags Andrew out by his ear, promising to be back to deal with Harry in a moment.
Harry hides the bent and torn photograph in a book and waits for his punishment with pride.
Fourteen's not too old for a whipping, and he's still raw the next day at school, but the boys all look at him with a little bit of wonder in their eyes, and Cecelia asks him to come over and listen to records that night.
He agrees, but his mind is elsewhere; the photograph is being carefully pressed between two heavy dictionaries to smooth it out, but he knows he'll have to treat it with care, not look at it as often. He goes to his history lessons and wonders about London, 2008.
* * * *
Somewhere out in space, he thinks, the Doctor is still travelling; the Earth is spinning and he's meeting Martha for the first time, and she's squeezing a little boy's shoulder, not even giving it a passing thought.
"I expected flying cars in 2008," he says one night, out of the blue. Martha looks at him and bursts out laughing.
"And meal replacement pills and colonies on the moon?" she asks, teasing gently.
"And beautiful, modern women," he says, nodding his head, and pulling her into his arms. He kisses her; in his safe deposit box a photograph loses another fraction of colour, Martha, eternal, smiling up at him with that bold, brave look.