by Kathryn A

Universe: Doctor Who, Torchwood
Summary: They hadn't checked to see if there were any side-effects. (AU. Set just after "A Day In The Death".)
Spoilers: Torchwood - Reset, Dead Man Walking, A Day in the Death; Doctor Who - up to Voyage of the Damned
Characters: Martha Jones, Owen Harper, Jack Harkness, Tenth Doctor

Thanks to JB for encouragement, and Jinxed Wood and Branwyn for beta-reading, especially Branwyn, who didn't let me get away with fuzzy thinking.

Chapter 1: Face the Fear

Martha stepped quietly into the tourist information centre, and a puff of chill air entered with her. The sudden warmth in the small office did nothing to alleviate the pounding in her skull.

Ianto looked up. "Dr. Jones," he said, "I thought you'd already gone back to London."

"I forgot something," Martha said. "Is Owen in?"

Ianto's eyes widened. "Is there something wrong with Owen?" He was on his feet even as he spoke.

"No!" Martha said quickly. So much for trying to pretend everything was okay. "No, nothing wrong with Owen. I just need to... consult him about something."


"What are your symptoms?" Owen asked.

"Headache, nausea and vomiting... so far."

"You've come to me about a headache?" Owen said. "Take two aspirin and see me in the morning."

"I did," Martha said. "That's when I threw up."

Owen smirked. "Sure you're not pregnant?"

Martha whacked her hand on the bench, and the bottles rattled. "This is serious! What if there's a mayfly larva attached to my neocortex? Did you consider that?"

"They would have noticed in hospital," Owen said.

"They thought I was an eighty-year old suffering from dehydration. They wouldn't have noticed the noses in front of their faces."

"Good point." He was already readying the scanner.


"Hold still," Owen said. "You can look when the scan is finished. In fact... I'd really like a second opinion."

"What's wrong?" Martha said. She suppressed a shiver. The white tiles seemed cold and clinical, not just clean and efficient. It would be ironic if their roles were reversed; she on the slab, and Owen performing her autopsy.

"The good news is, you don't have a mayfly larva in your brain."

The worry knotting her heart loosed itself a little. She wasn't going to die. Maybe. "And the bad news?"

"It isn't bad news, exactly..."


"I don't know what sort of news it is. I've never seen anything like it."

"Then it's bad news," Martha said.

"See for yourself," Owen said. He gestured at the screen.

She stepped over and looked. "That can't be right... Neural density twice the norm, but no sign of a tumour..."

"Slightly high blood pressure, but that's normal, you're under stress. Body temperature on the low side, no obstructions in your arteries," Owen continued.

"But there's something, some sort of growth near my heart!"

"You haven't felt any chest pains?"

She put her hand over her heart. "Just a bit of an ache, I hardly noticed it."

"Something else weird here." Owen pointed to the image of her lungs. "Do those look like spiracles to you?"

"Spiracles? But that's what insects use to breathe - Oh god." She sat down and put her head in her shaking hands. "What if I'm turning into a mayfly?" She looked up at Owen and rolled her eyes. "I can't believe I just said that."

"You're not turning into a mayfly," Owen said. He patted her shoulder awkwardly.

Martha shook her head. "How do you know?"

"We can do a DNA comparison, okay?" Owen said.

"Right, yes, right," Martha said, clasping her hands together. "DNA, blood, tissue, the works." She stood up, ramrod straight. "But before you do that, you'd better put me in a cell."

"Before you start speaking alien tongues or transforming your body parts into stabbing knives?" Owen said. "But-"

"I once saw a man possessed by a living sun," she said. "He tracked down and killed his crewmates. If I'm turning into something, I don't want to take the chance that I'll turn on you, right?"

"I think you've just broken the Torchwood record for most sensible person of the year," he said with half a smile. "Not that there was much of a record to break."


With a request like that, Martha's private problem was very soon public. In the end, they didn't put her in a cell; instead, she was strapped into a chair. Ianto, gun in hand, had his "perfect butler" face on: impassive and expressionless. Owen took samples, processed them, and entered the results into the computer. Tosh sat at her desk, her computers a shield between her and the others. Gwen sat with Martha, her warm brown eyes never leaving Martha's face. Jack stood by, arms folded, radiating an almost perfect facade of stoic calm, but Martha could see the cracks in it.

Martha took deep, slow breaths and tried to ignore the grinding pain in her head. Her hands felt clammy; she recited to herself the physiological reasons that this was so. Closing her eyes made her more aware of every ache; opening them confronted her with the worried faces of those around her.

"Not mayfly!" Tosh chirped out with relief, but then she continued, in a more worried tone, "But not human either. I mean, hair and fingernails still have human DNA, but the rest doesn't match."

"Shit," Owen said, for all of them.

"What is it, then?" Jack asked. He didn't look at Martha.

"Running a comparison on other tissue samples we have catalogued," Tosh said. "It could take a while."

"This has to have happened in the last few days," Owen said.

"Why?" Jack asked.

"Because these changes are too obvious," Owen said. He held up a slide of Martha's blood. "Her blood's been turned into super-oxygenated tomato soup. Copley would have noticed. Heck, UNIT would have noticed!"

"I'll pull up her medical records," Tosh said.

"Copley did notice something," Martha said slowly. "He said that my lymphocytes were more efficient, that they'd mutated due to travelling in time. I knew he was wrong, but I was too busy trying to keep my cover to think about it, then."

"Your lymphocytes had mutated due to travelling in time?" Owen said. "That's a new one. I've examined enough people who've come through the rift, and I've never seen anything like that."

"No, time travel doesn't do that," Jack said.

"Yeah, well, the Time Agent would know that, wouldn't he?" Owen returned.

"Yes, he would," Jack answered evenly.

"UNIT noticed something too," Tosh said. "Anomalies in Martha's lymphocytes and T-cells, but otherwise her blood was completely normal."

"Yeah, well this blood is nothing but an anomaly," Owen said. "And not just the lymphocytes. These changes... they couldn't have happened before Copley examined her. I don't know how it happened, but the most likely explanation is that the double dose of Reset, that Copley shot her full of, triggered it."

"But Reset is supposed to set you back to your factory defaults," Gwen said. "Why would it turn Martha into an alien?"

"It must have thought her factory defaults were alien," Ianto said.

"Oh no," Martha breathed, her heart sinking. "T-cells and lymphocytes? What would be the first thing that the Reset would come in contact with?"

Owen slapped his forehead. "Your immune system. Wait - you have an alien immune system?"

Martha locked eyes with Jack. "It was him. It must have been."

Jack took her hand. "What did he do?"

"Immune system boost," she answered. "It was supposed to be temporary. We'd just visited... a place... most of the people had been wiped out by a plague. We didn't catch it, but... he gave my immune system a boost, just in case. I didn't want to become the next Typhoid Mary, so I agreed. It was supposed to wear off in a couple of months."

"But it obviously didn't," Jack said.

"I have a match!" Tosh called out. She frowned. "Match with an... unknown alien... hand?"

Jack glared at Owen. "You didn't!"

"You were so obsessed with that hand," Owen said. "D'you think I wasn't going to take a sample?"

"That hand?" Martha asked, not sure whether to laugh or cry.

"Yes, that hand," Jack said. "Gwen, help me get her out of this, she's not going to go feral on us."

"And you know this because...?" Ianto asked. His gun was still in his hand.

"Granted, I've only ever met two members of this species," Jack said, "and one of them was an insane megalomaniac, but the other... he's saved this planet more times than you've had hot dinners."

"So, she has a fifty-fifty chance of being an insane megalomaniac, does she?" Owen said. "Hey, that's no worse than your average politician."

Jack turned to Martha. "You aren't being haunted by a persistent drumbeat, are you?"

Martha gave a strained laugh. "No. Just a headache to beat all headaches."

"I dunno, I've had a few doozies myself," Jack returned with a smile. He looked at the others. "She's fine."

Chapter 2: Face the Facts

Martha sat with her phone in her hand, but she wasn't looking at it. Her thoughts circled like vultures hovering over something unpleasant. She had to call him. She didn't want to. She did want to. How would he react? What could she do? She had to call him.

"Oh, stop dithering," she muttered to herself. She flipped open the phone and hit the speed dial.

The voice that answered was cautious. "Hello?" But it was his voice; the Doctor.


"Martha?" he said, as if he didn't quite believe it.

"Who else would it be?" Calm, calm, think calm.

"Well, any one of the many people you failed to give your new number to," he said. "Such as Tish, your mother, Julia, Morgenstern, Doctor Tom Mulligan, your hairdresser -"

"Tom called this number?"

"So it's 'Tom', is it?"

"But I didn't give him this number," Martha said, her mind seizing on any distraction.

"Must be a resourceful bloke," the Doctor said.

"Yeah, he's thinking of working with UNICEF in Africa. He's a pediatrician."

"Africa, now there's a place," the Doctor said. "Nearly got married to the High Priestess of Opar, once. Wasn't actually a lost city so much as a crashed spaceship, but Burroughs wrote it as a Lost City. He said it was simpler that way."

"You've met Edgar Rice Burroughs?"

"Yeah, he traveled with me for a bit," the Doctor said. "His Venus books weren't actually about Venus; they were about the double-planet system of Etheria-Marhabu. The real inhabitants of Venus aren't humanoid at all; they're green, have five legs and get about by jumping."

"Doctor," she said with an edge in her voice. She'd forgotten how hard it was to stop him in full flow. It was at once both soothing and frustrating.

"What? It's true!"

"Yes, of course it's true," she said. "But-"

"But you didn't just call for a chat," the Doctor said. "How bad is it?" His voice was grim.

"The world isn't ending, there isn't an invasion, no ravening alien hordes or plagues or anything," Martha said quickly. "But I need you to come here."

"What's the matter? Is it your family?"

"No, no, they're fine," Martha said. "Just come. Please. I'll explain when you get here."


The person on the platform of the "visitor's lift" was dressed in a blue pinstriped suit. His hands were in his pockets, as if an invisible lift was an everyday occurrence for him. "Jack," he called out, as the lift made its stately descent, "you really need to get better security if you're trying to keep hostile aliens out of here."

"Only if they can see through a perception filter," Jack called up to him.

"Okay, good point," the Doctor conceded. "Nice place you've got here. Very Victorian underground."

"We try," Jack said.

As soon as he stepped off the platform, the Doctor asked, "Where's Martha?"

"In my office," Jack said. "She'll explain everything."



"Doctor," Martha said. She'd forgotten how tall he was. It was like meeting people at family reunions; familiar yet strange, the distance of time overcome by the rock-solid foundation of affection. She stepped forward just as he held out his arms, and they hugged each other. "You came," she said into his shoulder.

"Of course I came." He took her by the shoulders, his face full of concern. "What's the matter? What's happened?"

"I-" Martha broke off. How am I going to explain this? "Something happened to me-"

She broke off as he frowned in puzzlement. Then he sniffed deeply, and laid one hand against her forehead. She expected his touch to be cool, but it was almost warm. Is he-? No. Body temperature. We have the same body temperature. She shivered involuntarily, and not from cold. He touched her neck with his other hand, feeling her pulse. He shook his head and the flicker of hope in his face died. "Only one beat," he said, the faintest of tremors in his voice. "Stupid of me to think-"

"I'm still growing the other one," she said quickly.

He stared at her, jaw slack with shock. "You're still growing the other..."

"It was called Reset - I went undercover, and they shot me full of this drug - and it's rewritten my DNA because of the lymphocytes - nobody realized what would - it only happened a few days ago," Martha said, all in a rush. "Can you change me back?"

"You want me to change you back," he said flatly, his expression frozen.

She had studied his face often enough to know what that meant. He's hurt, and hiding it. Because... because I don't want to be a Time Lord. She started to be angry, then. Angry at him for making this more difficult, and angry at herself for wanting to listen to the little voice which said that he'd notice her at last, if she gave in; angry at herself for wanting to give in. "It's my life," she snapped. "I was born a human being, I don't want to be something else." She looked away from him. "I don't want to be your shadow," she said softly.

"Martha, look at me," he said.

She wasn't a coward; she looked.

"You were never my shadow," he said. "You're Martha Jones, and that means magnificent."

"And I want to stay Martha Jones," she said, ignoring his flattery. "What's wrong with that? Don't I have the right to be me?"

"You're still Martha Jones," he said.

"Yes, now," she said. "But who will I become?"

"More," he said. His eyes were full of promises. Promises he wouldn't be able to keep.

"Change me back," she said.

His voice trembled. "I can't." She'd seen that expression on his face before; it was the one he wore when he told her he couldn't change history, that he couldn't save someone; the face of sorrow and death.

"What do you mean, you can't?" Martha said. It wasn't the first time she'd argued with that face, either. "You still have the chameleon-"

"It would kill you," he interrupted.

"It didn't kill you," she said.

"You're undergoing genetic modification, which is also what the chameleon arch does. Put the two together, and your DNA would unravel like knitting ravaged by the claws of a very enthusiastic cat."

"Undergoing genetic modification," she said. "But once the process was complete...?" I have to change back, I have to.

He shook his head. "It still wouldn't be stable enough. It wouldn't be stable short of regeneration, and I don't even know if you can do that. This kind of change... it's like you're a hybrid clone... it really wouldn't work."

"And if I regenerated, if I could regenerate, I'd still lose myself; become a different person." No matter what I do, I lose. She bit her lip. "I'd rather be-"

"Don't!" he said sharply. "Don't say that. Don't ever say that. There's so much to live for, so much to see, so much to experience. So much universe out there. Don't throw that away. Please. I couldn't..."

"I thought you considered immortality a curse," she said, fighting off the appeal in those eyes.

"It is when you're alone," he answered. "You wouldn't be."

"Is that an offer? Or are you just afraid of being alone again, yourself?" She remembered his grief at the death of the Master. Not grief. Devastation. "Am I just some substitute-"

"No," he snapped. "I see you, Martha Jones. I see you. Not him. Not her. You."

"You're just saying that," she said. Don't get your heart broken again, Martha.

"Words are all I have," he said. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry I took you for granted. You keep on doing the impossible for me. Over and over again. That year-" He broke off. "That year, you kept me going. Knowing you were out there, knowing you were alive. Nobody else could have done what you did. Nobody."

"So you're grateful," she said, a bitter twist to her mouth.

"Martha," he said. "Since when have I been grateful to the people who help me save the world? We do what we do because we must, because it's the right thing to do."

"So it means nothing."

"No!" He ran his hands through his hair. "Let me make this clear: you're not a Time Lord. You can't ever be a Time Lord: there's more to that than mere genetics. There's culture and history-"

"I know," she said, unable to suppress a sigh. Never good enough. "I've never seen the golden sky and silver leaves of Gallifrey, and I never will. I've never sung your songs, read your books-"

"There's the TARDIS Library," he said, "but that's beside the point. The point I am trying to make is, you can't be a substitute Time Lord, and I don't want you to be. Do you really think I'd be daft enough to want you to be something you're not?" He pointed at her. "You, Martha Jones, are unique and precious and I don't want to lose you again."

"You haven't lost me," Martha said. "I'm right in front of you." Is he seeing me? Is he really seeing me at last?

"You walked out," the Doctor said.

"You didn't stop me," she said.

"I didn't think I could."

"One word-"

"No," he said, "it wouldn't have stopped you. You were right. I let you go on thinking you were second-best, and you weren't. You needed to be free of me, to be with your family. To heal."

"And now this."

He gave a wry smile. "Yes, now this." He scratched his head. "Could you run by me what happened exactly, in a bit more detail?"

"I'll do better than that," she said. "I'll show you." She gestured to the door.

"Lead on, Doctor Jones."

Chapter 3: Face the Future

Martha pinched the bridge of her nose and told herself to ignore the pain. It wasn't worse than the cold nights and sore feet, the burns and cuts and hunger she'd endured in her walk around the world; it wasn't worse than the gnawing fear and terrible responsibility. It was just a headache. The Doctor was here; she wasn't going to die.


She looked up. The Doctor's eyes were steady on her. He still wore the thick, chunky glasses he'd put on when he'd started examining the medical data they'd collected.

She said the first thing that came into her head. "You're not really farsighted, are you?"

'What?" the Doctor said. "I try to be, though choosing between possible futures isn't always easy."

"I meant the glasses," Martha said.

"Ah." He took them off and held them up. "Well, no, not really. I just like glasses. Very useful, actually. They say things without having to say them."

"What, like look at me, I'm smart?" she teased.

"Smart? I'm brilliant!" He grinned at her. "I don't need glasses for that."

That smile made her forget her resolve, forget the heartbreak, forget the elephant in the room, the unanswered question of what she wanted to do about her own sudden alienness. It almost made her forget her headache.

"So what do they say?" she asked.

"I like to think of them as a great big flashing 'do not disturb' sign hanging above my head," the Doctor said. He placed the glasses carefully back in an inside pocket, and frowned. "You're looking a bit peaky."

"Headache," she admitted. "I tried taking aspirin, but-"

"Aspirin? You took aspirin?" he exclaimed. "Don't you know better than to - well, of course you don't. How many did you take?"

"I threw it all up," she said.

"Good," he said briskly. "It's toxic."

"It's poisonous?" she exclaimed. "What does it do?"

He held up a hand. "Not that poisonous. Causes sudden hypotension; might make you faint, stop a heart, nothing fatal."

"But I've only got one heart."

"So it's a good thing you threw them up, then, isn't it?"

"Any other near-fatal things I might accidentally do to myself?" she asked. I wish this came with a handbook. But he's all I've got.

"Aspirin's the most likely, and you know that now."

"Is there something else I can take for this headache?"

He put his hands on her shoulders. "Sleep."

"Sleep? But-"

"Sleep is what you need right now. Don't worry, you'll find you need less of it, as time goes on."

A cold finger of dread touched Martha again, as she was reminded that she was no longer at home in her own skin. She shook her head, and winced at the pain.

"Sleep," he said firmly. "I'll still be here when you wake."


The last year had given Martha a lot of practice at snatching sleep when it was offered. The cold and dark, the fear and pain, all of it had to be ignored when capturing a much-needed respite from her endless walk. Stillness and calmness, that was the secret recipe for sleep, and a camp-bed in Jack's office was a lot more comfortable than a freezing barn. She slept, and dreamed.

She dreamed of a storm at sea. But the clouds were the colour of rainbows, and the sea boiled, lit from below with a sullen orange-red fire. She was suspended between sea and sky, a still point in a turning world. Lightning bolted through her, thunder rumbled her bones. Each flash lit an image: people, places, things. The TARDIS, lit golden, then sullen red; her mother, yelling; Tish on the phone; herself, walking in black, the Doctor by her side; herself again, striding down a corridor, white lab coat on; a golden chain, twinkling in a green light; cold rain, bright sun; her breath fogging in a grey dawn. She itched all over, and couldn't move a muscle. She wanted to be afraid, but even that was suspended, waiting. She was a vessel, filled to bursting, and yet she did not break.

She woke all at once, fully aware of where she was and what had happened. Eyes shut, she took stock. The headache was gone. There was an ache in her chest, but no worse than one would get from an overworked muscle.

And someone was in the room with her. She was on her feet, eyes wide, almost as soon as the thought had registered.

It was the Doctor, sitting at Jack's desk.

"You!" she said, rolling her eyes, and sat down again.

"Feeling better?" he asked.

"Yes, thanks," she said. "Why don't I feel different?"

"Are you sure about that?" he asked quietly. "How long were you asleep?"

"Six hours, twenty three minutes - how did I know that?"

He raised an eyebrow at her.

"Oh," she said. "And it will only get stronger, won't it?" Inescapable, drifting away from humanity, into the orbit of another sun. His sun.

"Yes," he said.

"No wonder you don't wear a watch." She could feel the seconds passing, tick, tick, tick, like a flicker in the corner of the eye, not noticed until one paid attention to it.

They were silent for a moment.

"This shouldn't have happened," the Doctor said. "I'm sorry."

"It wasn't your fault," Martha said. "If I hadn't gone under cover-"

"But if I hadn't altered your immune system-"

"I might have died," Martha said. She could see it suddenly, the tangled chain of cause and effect that had brought her to this moment. The world was spinning beneath her; she was giddy with it. She shut her eyes, but that just made it worse. She clutched the edge of the bed, trying to steady herself, but the world kept on spinning.

"What's the matter?"

"Dizzy," she gasped. "Everything's turning. The sky is turning."

He was out of his chair and sitting beside her in a moment. "I've got you." His arm was around her shoulders, holding her close. "It's okay. It's going to be okay."

I need him. But I don't want to lose myself in him. She was falling into the sun. Last time, the Doctor had rescued her. This time, the Doctor was the sun she was falling into. Pull yourself together, girl. You're not second-best. She blinked back the tears that were swimming in her eyes, and took a deep breath.

"I'm fine," she said.

He eased his arm away from her shoulders, but not completely; one hand he kept on the shoulder nearest him, a touch of comfort.

"I figured out why your lymphocites hadn't reverted," the Doctor said. "Really stupid of me not to check, I'm sorry, but you seemed fine, and you actually were fine, and so was I, because Gallifreyan DNA resists mutation, so it kind of took over, because it coped better than the human DNA in your bone marrow-"

"Doctor, what are you talking about?"

"Lazarus's machine," he said. "Didn't I say that?"

"No, you left that bit out."

"Ah," he said. "Well, anyway, that's why you still had a Gallifreyan immune system." He smiled at her like a boy who'd just solved a brain-teaser.

Are we just puzzles to him? No. But he loves solving puzzles, and I wouldn't want that to change. "Here's a puzzle for you," she said. "Why didn't all my blood turn Gallifreyan?"

"Tailored genes," the Doctor said. "I'm not completely clumsy."

"Anything but," she said with a small smile. "You didn't intend this to happen, but it has anyway." She straightened and put her hands on her knees. "I'm stuck."

"Don't think of it like that," the Doctor said gently. "Please."

"How should I think about it, then?" she asked. "I don't want to be looking backwards, wanting to be human when I can't be."

"Look forwards," he said. "You're on the threshold of boundless opportunities. Sieze them."

"Carpe diem?" she said dubiously. But I don't know what to do. And I have to make up my own mind, not follow him all the time.

He took her hand. "Come with me, Martha. Let me show you the universe."

She took a deep breath. Only one word, that was all she had to say. The hardest word of all. "No."

His face fell, and he let go her hand.

She almost reached out to him then, but stopped herself. Am I a comet burning in his wake, or am I my own star? With that thought, the perfect solution came to her, and she almost laughed aloud. "You." She poked him in the chest. "Come with me." She pointed to herself.

He blinked. "I come with you?"

"Let me show you something for a change," she said. Even as she spoke, the plan became clearer in her mind. "Let me show you the world; the world that we saved. The world that I walked for you." She opened her palm, gesturing a curve of invitation. "The way it is now, not the future or the past. Let's see the things we saved it for: normal life. A year that was, for the year that wasn't."

"Fine, we can-"

"And no TARDIS."


"I walked for a mile in your shoes, now you walk for a mile in mine."

"But I can't leave the TARDIS!" the Doctor said.

"Of course you can," Martha said. "You can park her here in Cardiff, let her rest and refuel." She gave him a teasing smile. "If you think she'll get lonely, I'm sure Jack wouldn't mind popping in on her now and then."

He rolled his eyes. "Give Jack free reign on my TARDIS and she wouldn't recognise me when I got back."

She smiled. "Jealous of Jack, are you? Maybe I should just stay here..."

"But you don't want to stay here," he said. "And neither do I."

She held out her hand. "So are you coming?"

"No TARDIS," he mused. "What about a vortex manipulator?"

"Only if you teach me how to build one," she said.

"Brilliant idea!" He grinned. "You strike a hard bargain, but I accept." He shook her hand. "Deal, Doctor Jones."

She smiled. "Deal, Doctor Smith." She led the way out the door. "Let's go tell Jack what he's babysitting."

Author's Notes

  • The beginning of "Complicated" by padawanpooh gave me the idea of a cascade of medical complications for one of the Doctor's companions, in which medical interference to save her life made her less and less human. Then I realized that the scenario in the Torchwood episode "Reset" meant that I could be almost canonical with this idea, which meant that Martha was the obvious companion for it to happen to.
  • "Dreaming In Metaphors" by Yahtzee convinced me of the possibility of Doctor/Martha and made me want to give them a happy ending. Not that this is actually Doctor/Martha, but it's a step closer to it than canon went.
  • "Persephone" by Carmen Sandiego convinced me that Martha-as-a-Time-Lord could actually work without being self-indulgent wish-fulfilment.
  • I unashamedly stole the idea of other people calling the Doctor on Martha's phone from "with her own wings" by Branwyn.
  • The Venusians are from the Missing Adventure "Venusian Lullaby" by Paul Leonard.