Well isn't that just the longest title ever - doesn't even fit in the subject box!
Title: Four Times Jack Died And Martha Forgot She Didn’t Have To Save Him (And One Time She Said ‘To Hell With This!’) - 1/5
Summary: Martha isn’t just a doctor by training, she a ‘helper’ by instinct and that’s something she just can’t ignore.
Author’s Notes: This was never really intended to be a multi part but the parts just got too big and since each works as a mini ficlet (despite the ‘story’ running through the five of them) there’s no real harm posting them as chapters.
The first time it happened again she just forgot. She didn’t know how really. It was hardly something so mundane that it could easily slip your mind.
Still, she had been the one who’d brought the case to Torchwood, who had asked for their assistance since they knew the area so much better than she did, and she guessed that the sense of responsibility allied with a secret fear of something going wrong had made instinct somehow override sense.
She had described the Grak’mal to the rest of Jack’s team as kind of like the alien mafia. Jack needed no further explanation, taking over and telling them more than even she knew. Apparently he’d come across the species before although he deftly avoided giving any details about the circumstances when she asked. He said it didn’t matter. What did matter was that they were here, looking for some stolen property of theirs, and they would not stop until they got it back. And they weren’t exactly the sort to ask nicely.
Martha knew that all too well. She’d already followed the trail of two brutal murders, the investigation of the clues leading her to Cardiff and Jack’s door.
A little research and some local knowledge uncovered the fact that the goods were more than likely in the hands of a one of a few alien artefact collectors. Numerous such people lived in the immediate area, drawn by the bounty of objects that the rift brought through although she was pretty sure that none of them knew about the reason. It was their hobby, their obsession in most cases, and they didn’t seem to question the whys and wherefores of it. Just thanked their good fortune.
And now they were all in very real danger as was anyone who the Grak’mal visited as they tracked their property down. Maybe they weren’t so lucky after all.
Jack said that these transactions often went through dozens of people in order to try to keep the buyer’s identity secret. The Grak’mal would work their way through each and every one of them until they reached their goal. It had the potential to be quite the killing spree. He suggested that the best way of dealing with it was for them to get the goods back first and then advertise the fact they had them. Then they could arrange a hand over to the Grak’mal. They weren’t stupid creatures and they’d been on Earth enough in the past to have heard of Torchwood before. Jack bet that they were certainly aware that the organisation had more than enough unusual and high powered ordnance in its armoury to convince them that it was in their best interests to take the goods and leave quietly. If they could get the stuff back, he said, they could probably solve this with no more than a standoff and a few tense words.
Martha and Gwen would go and visit one of the collectors identified as a likely recipient, Tosh and Owen another. Jack insisted that they go armed. If they were really unlucky the Grak’mal could already be there, he argued. And even if they weren’t there was a chance that some persuasion might be required; these collectors were often highly suspicious people and they may not believe that they really were in danger, thinking the visitors were just trying to steal their stuff. Martha raised an eyebrow at that – just what kind of persuasion did he have in mind? Jack read her perfectly though, reassuring her that he wasn’t advocating shooting the guy in the leg or anything, just that if he saw they were armed, he would be less inclined to argue.
Jack also said that he knew of at least one more man in the area who could have possibly taken possession of the goods but that he was the most reclusive of them all. He and Ianto would stay behind, try to find out where the guy was currently living and, if successful, go and visit him.
After Jack’s words of warning Martha had been expecting trouble but they’d only mentioned the Grak’mal to Ryan Warren, the collector they’d been assigned to, and he was more than willing to cooperate with them to the full. It seemed that he’d heard of this particularly species of alien before and wanted absolutely nothing to with them. Wise decision as far as she was concerned.
He swore that he didn’t have the goods, nor did he know who did. He expressed a clear hope that the ladies would make that well known so the Grak’mal knew it would be a waste of time knocking on his door. Gwen pointed out that they didn’t exactly have the alien mafia on speed dial. Warren said that didn’t matter, he was sure they’d be running into them shortly. He’d heard on the grapevine that they knew Torchwood were interfering in their business and that they were not happy about it.
Martha and Gwen ran back to the car, Martha getting in the driver’s side and Gwen busily trying to contact the rest of the team. She reached Owen and Tosh after a blissfully short number of rings. They were still trying to track down their collector who was apparently proving to be a lot more elusive than they’d first thought. Owen was starting to wonder if the guy was actually the guilty party, had heard what was going on and had scarpered. Tosh wondered if they were too late and the Grak’mal had already got to him.
Gwen explained carefully that they weren’t one step ahead of the aliens as they’d first thought and that the pair of them had to be cautious. She suggested that they all head back to the Hub and think of a new, safer plan.
Calling the Hub she got no answer. No answer when she called Jack and Ianto’s separate phones either. With Gwen being a former police officer, Martha expected to be berated for her controlled yet way too fast driving. The fact that she said nothing worried Martha even more.
Finally the car screamed to a halt, the tyres squealing in over worked protest as she parked as close to the Hub entrance as she could get.
They walked in cautiously, guns drawn, checking their corners, covering each other.
They found Ianto half way down the stairs, groaning in semi conscious protest when Martha rolled him over to check for injury. She forced his eyes open, relieved to see the pupils reacting properly even though he was still bleeding from a blow to the forehead.
“Stay with him,” she ordered Gwen, a lost year of being in charge giving her the authority that some people wouldn’t have credited her with.
Gwen protested that she shouldn’t go down there alone but the words were lost from Martha’s ears as she hurried down the remaining stairs. She knew that Gwen wouldn‘t leave Ianto alone in such a vulnerable state. Someone had to stay with him and someone had to check for Jack. And this was her mission so that someone had to be her.
The main part of the Hub was quiet. No sounds of working or talking. Not even Myfanwy’s ear piercing squeals and squawks to interrupt the horrible still. Cautiously she stepped into the room, careful to keep the wall behind her so no one could sneak up on her. She had become very good at exhibiting caution, good at holding her nerve and anticipating death throwing itself at her at any moment. She pushed away the sounds of her beating heart and sharp, ready breaths, instead concentrating fully on checking out what was in front of her, eyes meticulously scanning section by section, taking everything in.
And then she ran, down the stairs and across the metal bridge over the river that ran through the middle of the room. She didn’t care that her boots made an obvious racket on the metal as she ran, instinct kicking in as she saw the person lying face down, head bobbing lifelessly in the water.
It took everything she had to haul Jack out of the river and onto his back. He was big guy after all and a completely dead weight in her arms.
‘Dead’ being the operative word she realised. He was well dead. She could see that by the colour of his skin, ice cold and an unhealthy blue grey with no blood pumping through it. From the marks she had seen on the back of his shirt she guessed that they’d held him underwater until he drowned, unable to give them the information they wanted.
He was long dead. A good half hour at least. But she never was one to give up so easily. You never knew. Stranger things had happened. Miracles even.
Before she could really think about what she was doing, she tilted his head back and sealed her mouth over his own cold lips, breathing firm and steady. She ripped open his shirt with a single hard tug, buttons going flying, finding it easier to feel his sternum through the t-shirt he wore underneath. Her fingers found the right spot and then she was doing compressions too, counting and reacting in a way that had become second nature to her now.
She didn’t stop to think it wasn’t necessary.
She was concentrating so hard that she barely felt Gwen’s gentle touch on her shoulder.
“It’s all right sweetheart,” she reassured, “You don’t have to. Remember?”
Martha briefly glanced up to see Ianto sitting propped against the far wall, still clearly groggy and mostly out of it.
She couldn’t stop. Instinct was too strong.
“Martha, stop,” Gwen said, a little more concerned this time, her voice firmer. She was well aware that Martha knew about Jack’s seeming immunity to death and obviously couldn’t understand why she seemed to have suddenly forgotten the fact.
In truth of course Martha hadn’t. But it wasn’t right. Nothing inside her said it was okay to just sit there and doing nothing.
She’d pulled away to do another set of compressions when suddenly he gasped back into life, sitting up so sharply that he almost head butted her, hands gripping her arms so hard it was painful. He looked at her with shock for just a moment and she wondered if he knew what she’d been doing and if he was pleasantly amazed that she’d tried or simply thought that she was quite mental.
Then his body seemed to reset, coming back to some sort of sense, and he bent over sharply, coughing up enough water to drown any other man three times over.
She rubbed a hand reassuringly between his shoulder blades as he took a long moment to recover, her fingers still trembling with adrenaline.
Miracle or an affront to nature. She wasn’t sure which view she adhered to yet.
Twenty minutes later her fingers were steady as she diligently stitched the wound in Ianto’s head. She chatted lightly with the Welshman. She liked him. His droll manner, unwavering even as he flinched whilst she treated the cut, making her smile.
A smiled that paused and then faded as she looked over his shoulder and saw Jack eyeing her with silent intensity. He was watching her from a distance, arms folded across his chest. Scrutinising her, wondering what she was thinking. From his grim expression she was sure he didn’t like what he thought he saw. Even caught out, he didn’t look away and it was she who blinked first, turning her attention back to Ianto and trying to ignore the weight of Jack’s ever present stare.
Some time later she walked into his office.
“I’m never going to get used to that,” she blurted out, a confession of sorts.
Jack looked at her carefully for a moment. The hard expression he’d worn since seeing her in the medical area seemed to soften. She wasn’t sure but somehow she thought he appreciated that. Welcomed her honesty. Liked the fact that she wouldn’t hide it from him.
He used his foot to push out the chair on the other side of his desk, an invitation to sit down.
“You and me both”, he said, a confession of his own.