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Dreaming like a girl so in love with a wrong world [userpic]
Fic: Strike Out
by Dreaming like a girl so in love with a wrong world (jelly_belly99)
at August 14th, 2008 (09:53 pm)

 Not sure if this community is still active, but I'm bringing an offering in the hope that it still is, because this pairing is made of awesome. Originally written for the femslash08 ficathon.

Title: Strike Out
Pairing: Martha/Tosh
Rating: PG-15
Warnings/Spoilers: Spoilers through Torchwood 2x09 and AU onwards, through DW 4x01. Character death.
Summary: She doesn’t want to strike out.

 “Martha, RUN,” Jack’s voice screams from somewhere behind her, and Martha does, sets off sprinting into the night because this is what she knows, this is what she does, run, and because she doesn’t think she can stay there any longer. She doesn’t know if the weevil is following her but she doesn’t care either because that was Tosh back there, Tosh on the ground, Tosh not breathing (arms flung out and eyes still open wide, her last look one of terror) and Martha doesn’t think she can cope.

 She stops in an alleyway, gasps for breath, listens for the sound of the weevil snuffling and hears nothing. She pulls out her Sonic Pen that she got from Tosh (blood, so much blood, all around her, pooling on the ground, sticky through her fingers) and grips it tightly, its hilt smeared red. But there is only silence around her, so much silence, and Martha stares into the darkness, her heart beating loud in her ears and she realizes that there’s blood on her face, Tosh’s blood, and then her eyes blur because she can’t stop the wetness from forcing its way down her cheeks.

 She should be stronger than this.

 But she isn’t, but she can’t be and she stands on alert, waiting for the weevil to come for her, with tears on her cheeks, and cold ice in her heart.

 II

 It’s cold in Cardiff when Martha arrives, colder than she’d expected. She’s there in search of Jack because she wants to know what his Torchwood team is all about (she wants to know if she can join it, but she doesn’t admit that to herself, not yet). It’s dark, though, when she gets there and she tells herself that it’s too late to burst in on his team now so she finds a room at a tiny motel instead and goes out to get something to eat.

 She ends up in a bar near Jack’s hub and she stays longer than she should because she doesn’t like being alone anymore, not since she left the Doctor, and because any meaningless conversation is better than none.

 She’s sitting on her own though, when an Asian woman slides into the seat next to her and orders a shot of tequila. Martha doesn’t take any notice until someone bumps them from behind and suddenly the tequila is in her lap and the woman is apologizing profusely.
“It’s alright,” Martha waves it off. “I’ve gotten worse on these jeans before.”
“I’m so sorry,” the woman says again. “Look, my name’s Tosh. Can I buy you a drink to make up for it?”

 Something in Martha’s memory flickers when she learns the woman’s name, and she suddenly remembers the description Jack gave of his team.
“Ok,” she says. “I’m Martha.” And she smiles.

 “So what do you do, Tosh?” Martha asks when the drinks have come, because she thinks she should find out more before she starts mentioning aliens.
“I work in a kind of… law enforcement,” Tosh says, her eyes on her drink. “We find people that aren’t supposed to be here.”
“What, like parking tickets?” Martha grins.
“Something like that,” Tosh smiles. “And what about you?”

 This is Martha’s chance, to tell her what she knows, to explain who she is.
“I’m a doctor,” she says instead, because she finds she can’t quite get the words out. “I’ve just finished my exams.”
“Wow,” Tosh says. “Life as a doctor, now that must be really exciting.” She grins, but her eyes are far away and Martha suddenly wonders what type of doctor they’re talking about. She turns her eyes downwards and sips silently at her drink.

 A few drinks later they’re both a bit tipsy (Tosh is wobbly on her chair and Martha can’t help but think it’s adorable) and the bartender is looking at them like he’s going to cut them off soon and so they somehow end up at Tosh’s place, sprawled on the couch, the TV playing bad late-night movies. It’s warm and comfortable there and Martha’s eyes keep closing because she’s tired (so tired, can’t sleep without the hum of the TARDIS anymore) so Martha lets herself half cuddle up to Tosh, her eyes staying shut. Tosh is murmuring and Martha thinks she hears the words bar, alien and Mary, but she feels safe, and happy and before she can realize it, she’s asleep.

 She half-wakes a few hours later, to find Tosh asleep behind her, her arms around Martha. Martha doesn’t move away, just snuggles deeper and closes her eyes tight.

 She doesn’t see Tosh smile.

 

 II

 Some time later, when the Sonic Pen starts to wave erratically, Martha realizes that she’s shivering uncontrollably. She grips the Pen harder, and thinks of Tosh going down with the weevil’s teeth in her neck, and has to fight the urge to throw up. She leans against a wall and tries to decide what to do (voices around her and the sound of a car door slamming; Torchwood has arrived, but why are they here now, when it’s already far too late?) because she can’t stay here forever.

 There’s a side street off the alley leading back to Torchwood, so Martha follows it, holding the Sonic Pen out in front of her like some kind of sword, and she thinks how silly it is to rely on it, but then she remembers that Tosh had given it to her, and suddenly she doesn’t care about silliness. A figure coming towards her from the end of the street captures her attention, and Martha freezes for a moment before recognizing the gait, the sound of the boots hitting the pavement. Jack is here.

 Jack is here, and that means that she’s safe, that he’ll take care of her and Martha would cry with relief except she doesn’t have the energy, or the will, so she settles instead for asking, “Where is she?”

 Jack doesn’t seem surprised to see her, just answers quietly, “Gwen and Owen have taken her back to the hub. Owen did everything he could, but…” Jack trails off, lets the look in his eyes tell her everything she needs to know.
“And the weevil?” Martha asks, her voice steady enough to impress even herself.
“I don’t know,” Jack says, looking around, his voice hiding irritation. “She ran.”
“She?” Martha asks, and Jack looks back at her.
“It was a she,” he answers. “I’m sorry, Martha.”

 Martha looks away, tries to think of the weevil as a monster, not as a being with feelings, because it was a she, like Tosh, and Tosh is dead, her body soon to be boxed up and packaged away by Torchwood, because that’s what they do, that’s how they take over a person’s life, and a person’s death.

 Death, the word echoes in her mind, and Martha closes her eyes, thinks about all the things she never said to Tosh, all the things she would never say, and she tries to think about the things she had said, because had she ever said anything nice, anything real, or had it always been hiding her feelings behind comfortable teasing and playful banter? Martha can’t remember.

 Jack reaches out to take her hand, and as they walk together towards the hub, Martha wonders why she didn’t take all the chances she had to tell Tosh everything that she so deserved to hear.

 II

 It would happen like this:

 It’s Friday night and Martha is in Cardiff for the weekend, lying in bed and reading a book, with Tosh snuggled into her side. She’s half asleep already, because it’s been a long week at UNIT sorting out the fallout from the Adipose attack, so she doesn’t respond immediately when Tosh says, “you should stay.”
“Hmm?” Martha says, waiting for her brain to catch up. Then she says, “I am staying. I’m here all weekend.” She puts her book aside and lies down to kiss Tosh, one hand slipping into her hair.
“No,” Tosh says, smiling against Martha’s lips. “I don’t mean for the weekend. I mean for good. I mean for always.”

 Martha pulls back for a moment and looks into Tosh’s eyes.
“You want me to move to Cardiff with you?” Tosh nods, and Martha licks suddenly dry lips. “But – I have work – I can’t just…”
“You’re right,” Tosh says quickly, her eyes not meeting Martha’s. “I work all the time too, and that’s one place you can’t follow me.”

 Martha wants to say that she could, that she once spent a year doing Torchwood’s job for them while the world was being held captive by Harold Saxon, but Tosh doesn’t know about that yet, doesn’t know Martha is anything more exciting than a medical intern at a hospital in London, and Martha tells herself that it’s too late to have this conversation now (and Martha’s too scared, but that’s beside the point, anyway) so she says instead, “Tosh…”
“It was a stupid idea,” Tosh says, too fast. “I didn’t think it through.”

 Martha wants to say that she likes the idea, that she wants to stay with Tosh and never have to leave, but Tosh leans forward again to kiss her thoroughly, her hands sliding under Martha’s pajama top.
“Tosh,” Martha tries again, but then Tosh’s hand is on her breast, her mouth trailing its way along Martha’s neck and somehow the words don’t get said.

 And this is strike one, because Tosh is reaching out to her and Martha can’t find the words to tell her how she feels.

 II

 They’re almost back at the hub when they hear it: the snuffling, wheezing breathing that means weevil. Jack’s grip on Martha’s hand tightens, and for a second she thinks he looks afraid, but then he’s all business again, pushing her behind a parked car to keep her safe, and turning to face the weevil. He draws his gun and Martha would laugh if she wasn’t so damned numb, because it looks like a western-style shootout, only the situation is much stranger, the opponent far more deadly.

 Martha wonders if she should be scared, but she knows Jack’s invincibility well, and she hasn’t got the emotion for it besides, so she watches in silence as the weevil approaches. Jack’s got his gun ready, but it’s down at his side because he’s trying to talk to it, and Martha’s thinking how ridiculous it is to try and talk down a weevil when she’s proven right, because the weevil attacks and Jack’s gun goes flying out of his hand, skittering across the pavement. Martha is frozen to the spot, can only watch as Jack falls. She thinks she hears an annoyed, ‘Here we go again,” but then Jack is crumpled on the ground, his eyes staring vacantly, and the weevil is turning its attention to her.

 Martha crouches lower behind her protection of the car, waiting for Jack to wake up so he can take the weevil out. He doesn’t though, he always takes his time about it, and the weevil is advancing on her, and she’s going to have to do something for herself.

 Then suddenly she’s angry, furiously angry, because this thing killed Tosh, and it killed Jack, and now it’s coming to kill her. So she stands up and walks out to meet it, stopping in front of it.
“You want me?” she asks it, and the weevil bares its teeth at her. “Then you’re going to have to take me down.”

 Her Sonic Pen, long forgotten in her hand, shoots upward, fiery heat in its blue light blasting into the weevil’s face. It roars, raising a clawed hand to swipe at its eyes, leaving bloody scratches in skin already red and raised from her Sonic attack. It reaches blindly for her and Martha stumbles back, gasping as claws rip into the flesh on her arm. The weevil snatches again, and Martha lashes out with unprotected hands, unable to keep herself from crying out as clawed hands grab her, shredding her sides, teeth sinking into her shoulder. Blood is dripping from her body, pain clouding her vision, and she falls backwards, the weevil on top of her. It snarls down at her and surely, surely, someone must have heard that, people should be coming running, but they’re not, but it’s just her and the weevil, and Martha is going to die.

 She doesn’t mind really. She’ll be with Tosh.

 The weevil snarls again, showing her its teeth and Martha closes her eyes, waiting. Its grip on her tightens, increasing the pain as the claws dig in, and then it leans towards her and – BANG.

 Jack is standing over her, pushing the weevil off her body, his gun in his right hand.
“Are you alright?” he says, and Martha laughs because does it look like she’s alright, really, and then she can’t stop laughing and Jack is crouching besides her, looking worried. “We need to get you back,” he says, and then he props her into a sitting position, and Martha stops laughing, and gasps instead, because the pain is incredible.

 “Martha?” she hears, but her vision is fading, and she stops feeling the pain. Soon after that, she stops feeling anything at all.

 Then, there is nothing.

II

 Jack calls her out of the blue, asking her to come up the next afternoon and help them on a case. Martha is surprised, and pleased, and it’s only after she’s accepted that she realizes that Tosh still doesn’t know who Martha is, won’t understand why she’s there.

 She wants to tell Tosh before she gets there, but work conspires against her (she’s stuck at UNIT examining a dead Judoon and she can’t help thinking of the Doctor) and before she knows it she’s on the train to Cardiff and it’s far too late now.

 So she walks into Torchwood, head held high when she arrives, and she pretends not to notice the look on Tosh’s face when Jack introduces her to the rest of his team. He tells them about UNIT, and for a moment Martha is grateful, because it means she doesn’t have to tell Tosh herself, but then the guilt takes over and she strides away, her mind focused resolutely on what she’s here to do.

 She feels Tosh’s eyes on her as she works, and she can’t resist showing off a little, showing up the Torchwood doctor who looks at her as though they’re back in high school. Tosh doesn’t say a word though, the whole time, and Martha doesn’t dare glance up at her, afraid of what Tosh would read in her eyes.

 She doesn’t want it to go like this, though, doesn’t want Tosh to look at her the way she is looking at her now, so when she finds herself standing behind Tosh, working at her computer, she lets one hand sit on the top of the chair, her fingers slightly grazing the other woman’s back. Tosh stiffens, and spurts some computer talk that she doesn’t understand without looking around at her once, and Martha feels the hurt as keenly as if it were driven in with a knife.

 They don’t get a chance to talk until later, when Martha is a clinical trial patient. She’s alone in a room, trying to decide how to break out, when words materialize before her eyes, coming through her lenses.
It’s Toshiko. Are you alright?
“Tosh!” Martha murmurs quietly, hoping Tosh can hear her. “Where are the others?”
Busy.

 There’s a pause, and then Martha says, “Tosh, I’m sorry…”
Were you ever going to tell me? Comes through the lenses, and Martha winces, imagining the hurt look in Tosh’s eyes.
“Yes.”
When?

 And Martha glances down, because she doesn’t have an answer.
“I’m sorry,” she says again, and tries not to imagine Tosh’s face.
Owen asked me on a date, Tosh writes, and Martha can’t help the way her eyes widen or her heart speeds up. Should I go?
“A date with Owen,” Martha repeats, and brushes a hand across her eyes. “Do you want to?”
Owen asked me on a date, Tosh repeats. And the whole damn time I was thinking about you. The words are calmly in print, but Martha can hear the way Tosh would say them, angry, and hurt and confused. Should I go with him? Tosh asks again, and Martha swallows.
“You should go if you want to,” she says, and there’s no answering print in her lenses. “Tosh?” she asks, and she waits, but there’s no response. She sits alone, wondering if she can ever fix what she’s done.

 This is strike two, because things will change after that, and she hasn’t told Tosh what she means to her.

 II

 Beep.

 Beep.

 Beep.

 Voices and sounds swimming in and out of her consciousness, her arms and legs heavy, her eyes refusing to open, Martha tries to discern what is happening. She fights for understanding, but her brain is slow, her mind fuzzy, and everything seems just too hard.

 “…got her hooked up, Jack, just to monitor her… breathing’s fine but her heart rate…” Martha struggles to make sense of the words, half aware that with that comes understanding, but she can’t think, and the sleep is pulling her back under.

 Later: “… she looks bad, Jack. She’ll be ok, won’t she?” Silence, and then, half sobbed, ‘Oh Jack!” The voice is female, the accent Welsh, and Martha fights to place it, but even though she hears them, the words just don’t make sense.

 Then, later again, when the light hitting her eyelids is gone and the air around her feels colder: “…will be devastated. This is hard enough, how is she going to do it without Tosh?”

 Tosh…

 Then the pain explodes because suddenly she knows, she understands, and she can’t breathe.
“Jack! Something’s wrong!” It’s the first voice again, Owen, she knows that now, but she doesn’t care. She’s aware that she’s screaming but she can’t stop herself because Tosh is dead, Tosh is dead, and how can Martha still be alive?

 Jack is there to hold her down and Owen puts something in her arm that she can’t even feel, and then her arms and legs grow heavy once again, and her eyes shut of their own accord. Her last thought as she falls back into Jack’s waiting arms, is of Tosh.

 Then, blackness.

 II

 Just a month after Martha moves to Cardiff with Tosh, under the pretense of working more closely with Torchwood, Tosh gets sick with the flu, and Martha insists on looking after her, because she doesn’t want Tosh to get any sicker than she is.

 I’m fine, honestly,” Tosh protests, her voice weak and pathetic, when Martha appears in the bedroom on Sunday morning, armed with toast and a box of pills. Martha gives her a sympathetic look, because Tosh looks miserable (grumpy), mussed (sexy) and adorable (adorable). “You might be a medical examiner, but you’re not cutting me up like an alien,” Tosh grumbles, and Martha smiles, because they’re happy now, because they can talk about work without secrets and danger and it’s so different to what she’s used to.  

 “You watch it, or I just might, missy,” she teases, and Tosh groans back at her and sneezes.
“I’m an adult you know,” she says, sounding just a little bit like a sulky little girl, and it makes Martha grin. “Get into bed,” Tosh orders pathetically, and Martha smiles, setting down the plate of toast and sliding back under the covers.

 Tosh is on her immediately, cuddling up to Martha, burrowing her way underneath her arm and leaning in for a kiss.
“You’re going to make me sick too,” Martha murmurs after she’s pulled reluctantly away from Tosh’s lips. Tosh sighs, settling her head on Martha’s shoulder.
“I know,” she says, her eyes closed, her body worn out with fighting off the illness, and Martha reaches over to run her fingers lightly through Tosh’s hair.

 “I love you,” Tosh murmurs, her voice thick with drowsiness, and Martha’s fingers freeze for a moment in Tosh’s hair, her body stiffening. Tosh stiffens too, and there’s a silence before Martha forces her fingers to keep moving as though nothing had happened. She murmurs something that could mean anything, just sounds, really, and Tosh doesn’t look at her when she turns away to curl up on her side, facing the wall.

 Martha looks at Tosh, her heart beating wildly, and tries to say the words back, but they stick in her throat.
“I’m sorry,” she whispers instead, because she can’t stand the thought of hurting Tosh, but she can’t say the words, not now. She’ll say them soon, Martha promises herself, she’ll fix this and get over her fear and tell Tosh everyday that she loves her, but she can’t do it now. Not yet.

 And this is strike three, because she has run out of chances.

 

II

 Pity is something Martha has never been good at dealing with, and this is no different. The sympathetic, helpless looks Owen gives her when she wakes the next morning and is forced to remember what has happened, just irritate her, and the hand Ianto puts on her shoulder when she dives into her work makes her want to hit him. Gwen hugs her, but she feels all wrong, so that Martha can’t pretend, with her eyes almost closed so that all she can take in is dark hair. She refuses to go home though, because to do so would be to admit defeat, and she’s not ready to do that yet. She throws herself into her work instead, hiding from the looks the others keep shooting her. If Tosh were here, Martha thinks, she’d know how to handle it.

 Darkness falls, and the others leave the hub one by one, each casting a last glance at her as they go, until it’s only her and Jack left, working in silence.
“You should go home,” Jack says, when the darkness is becoming too much for her, and Martha doesn’t protest, just puts away the blood samples she’s been analyzing, and leaves without a word.

 She goes home, but the house is too warm, too comfortable, and it smells like Tosh, so she goes out again, searching for something to do (‘I’ve got plenty to occupy me,’ she’d told Jack that first day, thinking of Tosh, but now all she has is an empty house and a lifetime of silence) and she ends up at the bar near the hub, the bar where she first met Tosh. She sits down, and orders a shot of tequila and thinks how fucking circular her life is, because here she is again, but this time there’s no saviour, no Tosh to take away the pain.

 When she next looks up her eyes are blurry – whether from the alcohol or the tears she can’t work out – and Jack is standing in the doorway of the bar, looking at her. It should make her happy, because it’s Jack, and he can always make the nightmares go away, but he can’t save her this time, because no one can save her from herself, and the realization makes the tears come faster.

 He doesn’t say anything, just sits down next to her, signaling to the bartender, and puts his hand on top of hers. It’s comforting, and they sit together in silence, drinking from whatever has been put before them, and Jack’s grip on her hand never loosens.

 It’s not enough. It never will be. But it’s a start.

 And she doesn’t want to strike out.

Comments

Posted by: The Evil Oppressor Persiflage (persiflage_1)
Posted at: August 14th, 2008 02:42 pm (UTC)
Martha BBC TW

Yes. You may feel what I refer to as "guilty triumph" over making me cry - guilt 'cos I'm crying, but triumph at moving me to tears!

3 Read Comments