Fandom: Doctor Who
Characters: Martha Jones, Harry Sullivan
Disclaimer: Doctor Who still belongs to the BBC, not me.
Summary: When Martha joins UNIT, she discovers that she shares something in common with her commanding officer.
Author's Notes: Written for dramedy's birthday. Hope you like it, Lauren! <3
Martha drove through the streets of north London, her sheet of directions clutched in her right hand. Google had, not surprisingly, been completely unhelpful regarding the location of the UNIT base, so she’d had to email Beth, her UNIT contact, for directions. Even Beth hadn’t been an especially good resource – generally speaking, Martha wasn’t fond of the sort of directions that consisted of “take a right at such-and-such curry takeaway, then go straight till you see a McDonald’s.”
After something like her fifth chip shop (none of which were on the directions), Martha was beginning to suspect that something was a little off – and why was there a military base in the middle of London, anyway? And who used such utterly rubbish directions to get around? Well, Beth, obviously, and Martha was intent on giving her a piece of her mind if she ever managed to find her.
Finally, after taking a left at a statue that was decidedly not Nelson on a horse, and looked rather more like Churchill giving a speech, Martha drove into a military checkpoint – quite literally, in fact; she had to slam on the brakes to avoid crashing into the barrier.
Rolling her window down, she eyed the man in green fatigues who stood at attention in the gatehouse. “Um, excuse me,” she said, feeling a little foolish. “My name’s Martha Jones, and I’m supposed to report here for UNIT orientation, I think?”
The soldier consulted a clipboard. “Do you have an identification badge?”
“Well, no, it’s only my first day.” She rummaged through her handbag, pulling out her wallet and opening it to display her driver’s license. “I’ve got identification, though. Will that do?”
He leaned toward the car, peering at the proffered card. Martha suddenly missed the Doctor and his psychic paper; he would have either lied his way in or somehow managed to miss the checkpoint and red tape entirely. But it was just her, and though she had saved the world nearly single-handedly, she was helpless in the face of bureaucracy.
“I’ll have to radio in,” the soldier apologised. “You’re not on the list. They’re sort of rubbish at getting new people on the list, you see.”
Martha sighed and shifted her car into park, decidedly unimpressed by UNIT’s apparent lack of organisation. “Bloody red tape,” she muttered, resting her head against the frame of the window.
Martha looked up at the soldier, hoping that he had good news for her; she wasn’t going to be happy if it turned out that she’d wasted her entire day trying to find this place, only to get sent back home.
He smiled, hitting a button in his booth. “You’re free to go now. Welcome to UNIT.”
She gave him a friendly smile in return, then cranked up her window and drove off. “Finally,” she muttered under her breath. The UNIT base, as it turned out, was an unimpressive cluster of Cold War-era concrete buildings – not exactly what Martha had expected from an organisation tasked with defending the Earth from alien invasions. She pulled in and parked next to a military jeep, grabbing her handbag and slinging it over her shoulder as she left the car.
There was a woman waiting just inside the door of the building; she wore a severely-tailored pinstriped charcoal grey suit and had her ash blonde hair pulled back into a tight bun. “Martha Jones?” she asked, not waiting for an answer. “I’m Beth Jensen, head of Human Resources – basically, I’m in charge of recruiting civilians.” She offered Martha her hand.
Martha shook it dutifully. “Right, you’re the one who sent me the directions.” She paused for a moment, trying to word her next sentence a bit more tactfully than she’d previously planned. “Your directions were a little, erm, inaccurate.”
Beth sighed, a look of exasperation on her face. “I really am sorry about that. We’ve had a couple of rogue Time Agents mucking about in the area – and in the time stream – lately.”
“Rogue Time Agents?” Martha couldn’t help but think of Jack – but he was in Cardiff, and the Doctor had fixed his Vortex Manipulator so he couldn’t time travel, hadn’t he?
Lost in her thoughts, Martha failed to notice that Beth had started walking and talking without waiting for her.
“ – and, well, time travel isn’t exactly something that’s within our jurisdiction, since humans don’t have those capabilities yet. We have to wait for one of the higher-ups in the Time Agency to notice, and since when does an intergalactic agency in the fifty-first century pay attention to London in the twenty-first?” She shook her head. “Cadets like to come back and pull little tricks like moving things about, apparently, because nobody will ever notice.”
Martha scurried to catch up with her. “D’you, um, cooperate with the Time Agency a lot?”
Beth shook her head. “They usually like to keep us in the dark – they claim that they might create some sort of paradox or something if they do much.” She opened a door and led Martha into a dimly-lit storage room, the shelves full of olive green uniforms. “Of course, you know all about time travel, don’t you?” She gave Martha a penetrating look before turning to one of the shelves and rifling through the uniforms. “What’s your size?”
“Medium.” Martha frowned for a moment. “Is that why you hired me?”
“To fill some sort of size quota?” Beth pulled a top out, then turned to another shelf, looking through a rather small pile of skirts. “A…longtime UNIT advisor recommended you, as I told you. Though, to be fair, you were already in our files as a potential recruit.” Beth started pulling assorted bits and pieces out of a cardboard box. “He doesn’t work with us anymore, but, as a rule, we still try to keep tabs on his activity – or, at least, his activity in our relative timestream. Which, of course, means keeping files on his…assistants.” She handed Martha a pile of clothes. “Dress fatigues. Don’t worry, you won’t be required to wear them often.” She added a small hardbound book to the top of the pile. “Rules and regulations. Instructions for wearing them are in there. I’ll forward the PDF to you once we get your UNIT email set up.”
Martha felt a little overwhelmed by all this. “So you’ve been spying on me, then?”
“Not spying, precisely.” Beth made a face. “We did monitor you for a couple weeks before extending a job offer, but that’s standard procedure with all our recruits. Other than that, our surveillance is very low-key. Practically invisible, really. We just want to make sure you don’t use…outside influences to change things.”
“Like I did on the Valiant, you mean.”
Beth frowned. “We don’t actually know what happened on the Valiant, Martha. Of course, should you choose to aid in our investigation…”
Martha shook her head. “I don’t think that’s necessary.” She paused for a moment, glaring at Beth. “Look, you can monitor me all you like, but stay away from my family. If you bother them, well, I might wind up being a less than model employee.”
Beth looked decidedly nonplussed. “Ah, yes, your family. Unlawfully detained by the mysterious Harold Saxon for less than a day, returned with an alarmingly severe case of post-traumatic stress disorder – something rather more severe than would be caused by simply witnessing the assassinations of two world leaders. And yet, none of them have sought psychiatric help.”
Martha halted dead in her tracks. “I told you, Beth,” she growled, her hackles rising. “Stay away from them.”
“Don’t worry, Martha. We haven’t gone near them since our initial surveillance.” Beth rolled her eyes. “And our psychiatrists are far too busy with Lucy Saxon, at any rate.” She led Martha into another small room, this one hardly bigger than a closet. “Time for your ID picture!” she chirped, suddenly cheerful again. “Stand in front of that screen and smile.”
Setting her burden down on a small table, Martha stood in front of the blue screen, straightening her clothes and patting her hair into place. She gave the camera an uncertain smile; she wasn’t quite sure that this was the plum job this had initially appeared to be.
The camera flashed, and Beth turned the computer monitor to face Martha. “Is that one all right?”
“Yeah, sure,” Martha replied automatically, not even bothering to look at the monitor. “Where to now?” She stepped away from the screen and gathered up her pile of clothes.
Beth opened the door, gesturing for Martha to leave before her. “I’m going to take you to the laboratory and introduce you to the senior medical officer. Don’t worry, it’s just down the hall a bit. I imagine you’ll have to get some more inoculations, and I’ll leave the grand tour to him.” She snorted derisively. “Not that he’s terribly likely to do it, but perhaps you can talk some sense into him.” Her heels clicked on the tile floor as they walked briskly, occasionally passing a soldier clad in olive green fatigues.
“What’s he like?”
“Oh, he’s a good sort, really. He’s just a little, ah, grumpy.” Beth pushed the door to the laboratory open, ignoring the warning signs plastered all over it. “Harry!” she caroled. “Remember that new medical officer I told you about?”
Martha peeked around the doorframe, a little more cautious than the other woman. There was an older man seated at one of the lab tables, his curly salt-and-pepper head bent over a series of vials in a rack.
“What have I told you about interrupting my tests, Bethany?” he retorted without looking up. “I hope this one lasts longer than a week.”
Beth rolled her eyes at Martha. “See? I told you he was grumpy,” she whispered to her. “Harry,” she said, raising her voice, “this is Doctor Martha Jones. Martha, Doctor Sullivan.”
Martha stepped into the room boldly, pushing past Beth. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Doctor Sullivan.” She smiled at him, even though he had yet to look up from the vials.
“Call me Harry, everybody else does.” He glanced up as Beth edged backwards. “No need to stand on formality round here. Good-bye, Bethany. Let me know when you’ve found the next one.”
Frowning a bit, Martha sat down on the stool next to him. “Do you have problems keeping people here?”
“Qualified doctors don’t stick around often.” He collected a sample from a vial on a loupe, then streaked a nearby agar dish with it, holding the bloody plate up to the light and eyeing it critically. “They get thrown off by the aliens, you see.”
Martha grinned at him. “Oh, aliens are old hat to me. What’re you doing?”
“Good, we’ve got an autopsy once I’m done culturing these samples. Get scrubbed up.” He finally smiled at her. “Nice to meet you, Martha Jones.”
She stood up, leaving her clothes in a pile on the table, and started opening the lockers that lined the walls, thoroughly confused. Beth had told her that today would be devoted to her orientation; she hadn’t expected to be launched straight in to working on alien corpses. Then again, she hadn’t expected her commanding officer to be as…strange as Harry. Grabbing a set of scrubs that looked to be her size, she changed quickly in a small lavatory off to the side, then washed up, securing her hair under the cap.
When Martha came back in, Harry had the alien on the table already; the recording equipment was set up, and a tray of tools sat on a wheeled cart to one side. Martha took her place on the opposite side of the table, looking down at the corpse. It was greyish, with scaly skin, but it still had a bipedal form.
Harry closed the manila folder he’d been reading, setting it aside. “Are you familiar with these at all?”
Martha shook her head. “Never seen one in my life. Do you get anybody in here with prior experience with aliens?”
“You’re the first.” Harry grinned at her. “How is the old chap, anyway?”
“The old-“ Martha frowned. “You don’t mean the Doctor, do you?”
“Of course.” Harry picked up a bone saw and examined it for a moment. “I travelled with him for a bit when I was younger, after all. Haven’t seen him since, though.”
“He’s…well, he’s him.” Martha laughed shortly. “You know how hard it is to describe him. Anyway, don’t we have work to do?”
Harry gave her a penetrating look. “Right. We’ll talk later, then.”
They had wound up in a nearby pub – not Martha’s first choice for an after-work drink, but Harry had assured her that it was where all the UNIT officers went. The pub certainly looked like it had been frequented by military men since the 1960s; it was dimly-lit, with old football posters plastered on the walls and a number of small tables and chairs arranged around the pool table.
“When did you meet him?” Martha asked, sipping her rum and Coke and leaning back in her chair.
“Just after he regenerated, apparently. He was quite disoriented, and Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart wanted me to run a battery of tests on him.” Harry snorted into his glass of lager. “He wound up tying me up with a skipping rope and stuffing me in a storage locker.”
“Stuffed you in a locker? Really?” Martha raised her eyebrows, a little surprised. “Well, I’m certainly glad he didn’t do that to me. ‘Course, we were trapped in a hospital on the moon at the time, so it wouldn’t have accomplished much.”
Harry nodded. “The Royal Hope incident. It was in your files, though it didn’t mention the Doctor, just the Judoon. The report on it was surprisingly lacking, I thought, given the number of eyewitnesses. You should try the lager here, it’s excellent.”
“I’m not a fan of lager.” Martha sighed. “Are they going to interrogate me?”
“Since you’re an employee now, all information you provide relating to prior events is on a strictly voluntary basis, according to the rules and regulations.” Harry grinned at her. “Though I’m sure they’ll try to get around it. You, Martha Jones, are a never-ending source of mystery for them, and UNIT hates mysteries.”
“Great.” Martha rolled her eyes. “I’m starting to think I’d’ve been better off sticking with the Doctor.”
He chuckled. “You might not be far off with that.” Harry gestured to the dartboard. “D’you play?”
“A little. Mostly during drunken post-exam bouts in university, so hardly by official rules or anything.” Martha stood up, pushing her chair in, and picked up her glass as Harry went to the bar to collect the darts from the barman. She couldn’t help but like Harry; despite his gruff exterior, he seemed kind enough. Lately, she had found herself desperately wanting to talk to someone who had met the Doctor and experienced the same sort of things she had, and Harry seemed to fit the bill – though she couldn’t help but wonder if it was all a secret plot by UNIT to get her to reveal what had happened to her.
Tucking a stray wisp of hair behind her ear, she strolled over to the dartboard, taking her portion of darts from Harry. “This is all off the record, right? I mean, you aren’t going to turn round and report whatever I say to the higher-ups, are you?”
“Honestly? If you saw half of what I did, I don’t think that anybody else would believe you.” He smiled at her before turning to the dartboard and sighting down the length of his dart. “Don’t worry, Martha. Your secrets are safe with me.”
She took his place behind the line on the floor, peering at the dartboard before cocking her arm back and throwing the dart. “So they wouldn’t believe me if, say, I started talking about a plasmavore sucking humans’ blood out with a straw to assume their genetic profile and hide from the Judoon?”
“Nice aim.” Harry chuckled, plucking her dart out of the cork and handing it back to her.
“Like I said, I’m out of practise – not that I was ever in practise, I suppose.” She pulled a face and sat down in a chair to watch him take his turn. “What sort of things did you see, then?”
He threw another dart at the dartboard, hitting the target with a resounding thud. “Cybermen – d’you remember those from the Battle of Canary Wharf? And Daleks. I was there at their creation, actually. Sontarans, giant robots…” Harry laughed. “God, I’d sound mad to anybody else. Even most of the UNIT personnel – well, most of the people around when the Doctor was working for UNIT retired nearly a decade ago. Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart left in the ‘80s. The newer members barely even have any contact with aliens. Torchwood handles everything nowadays.”
“My cousin Adeola was a member of Torchwood,” Martha offered, looking down at the floor for a moment. She still remembered the frantic news reports from that day, the flood of dead and dying being brought into the hospital – and coming face to face with her cousin’s corpse. “She was at Canary Wharf.”
“I’m sorry, Martha.” Harry was quiet for a few moments. “The Doctor had the opportunity to destroy the Daleks just after they were created – that’s why the Time Lords sent us to Skaro. I’m not sure if he made the right decision, but I don’t know if I could have done that in his position, either.” He ran his fingers through his curls. “I do know that I’ve seen plenty of dead in my years working with UNIT, and that I would have done anything to prevent lives from being lost. I’m sure you feel the same. It’s a common trait among doctors, I’ve found.”
Martha gave him a sad smile. “It’s a bit of a rough life, isn’t it?”
“Of course. But it’s worth it in the end – like most difficult things.” Harry tossed his final dart at the board, landing squarely in the middle of the black. “Shall we call it a tie and get back to the laboratory? There’s work to be done, after all.”
She finished up the last of her rum and Coke, then stood up, smiling briefly at Harry. “You’re my kind of doctor, Harry Sullivan.”
He chuckled. “And you aren’t half-bad yourself, Martha Jones.”