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Backwards in Time | Forwards in Time

Title: The Truth Hurts
Fandom: Doctor Who (2007)
Characters: The Tenth Doctor & Martha Jones
Prompt: # 032 - Sunset
Word Count: 3’614
Rating: G
Summary: On a distant planet, while the twin suns sink slowly beyond the horizon, Martha learns the truth about the Doctor’s ‘suicidal tendencies’. And the truth hurts.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Doctor Who. Thank RTD and the BBC.
Author's Notes: Set after ‘42’. Major spoilers for the first seven episodes of the 2007 series.


The whirring of alien engines broke the sleepy stillness of Hina'ea’s rolling beaches.

The waves lapping gently against the rich, purple sands were momentarily subdued by a grating, wheezing sound, their thoughtless paths disturbed for a few seconds by a spiralling breeze.

The twin suns began their descent towards the edge of the planet’s horizon, the fast-becoming indigo skies burning out their final dying embers, and a small white light illuminated the scene as the sandy ground was disturbed by a manifesting blue box, materialising from the very heart of the miniature, make-shift twister.

After a few seconds of chaos, peace was gradually restored, albeit with the addition of a peculiar, cobalt space ship now standing tall against the inky backdrop.

But it didn’t remain peaceful for long.

With a soft creak, the blue ship’s doors opened slowly, almost unwillingly as though the ship was having second thoughts about landing here; almost as if she’d much rather keep her occupants indoors, if not away from this place entirely.

But said occupants were having other ideas.

If the TARDIS wanted to mess about, setting coordinates for them without asking what they had planned in the first place, they were damn well staying where they’d landed.

And Hina’ea really didn’t mind.

Quite on the contrary, she was delighted she had company.

Her burning eyes alight with welcome as they slowly vanished, inching bit by bit towards the edge of the world, she licked her sandy lips with anticipation and watched as a small-framed Ethiopian girl emerged from the depths of the peculiar box, auburn eyes wide and staring, drinking in the paradise with delight as she stepped aside, a tiny gasp of surprise escaping her only to be eaten by the dying wind.

“Oh, Doctor!” she breathed softly, gazing almost hungrily at the swirling azure waters.

Hell, she’d never seen water so clear!

And the sand!

Yes, Hina’ea was very proud of her sand. Amethyst was a very rewarding colour, and as her eyes slowly slid out of sight, the night drawing in but the beauty of twilight lingering, she could do little more but smile warmly as she realised that the last thing those eyes would see before they were consumed by darkness would be the twinkling grains of sand that were slowly being licked clean by clear waters.

Even to her, this place was paradise. And this place was her.

A moment later, there was another creak as the door was pushed wide again.

A taller figure emerged, this time. A male with messy brown hair and deep, pooling eyes. He was dressed in a sharp pinstriped suit, tan trench coat billowing out behind him and an unusually patterned tie dangling loosely about his neck, quite obviously in the process of being removed completely.

With a sharp intake of breath, a tiny smile quirking the edges of his lips, the man – the Doctor, Hina’ea presumed if the girl had been addressing him when she’d spoken before – turned on his heel and gently tucked a small key into its keyhole, turning it with a click before removing it and depositing it into one of his coat’s many pockets.

His smile stretching as Hina’ea’s eyes continued to plummet before them, he moved across to stand just behind his companion, a long-fingered hand reaching up to squeeze her shoulder gently.

“Just in time,” he whispered. “I told you Hina’ea has the most breathtaking sunset you'll ever see.”

Hina’ea smiled at the appraisal, suddenly deciding she liked this strange couple a great deal.

The occasional star blossoming high above them now, she winked happily at them as they wandered carefully over the sandy beach and finally dropped to the floor, curling their toes into the warm sand and watching as the tide washed in and out.

Deciding she wanted to see who these strange characters were, Hina’ea considerably slowed the descent of her two glowing orbs, leaving them to hang for a few minutes in the sky, just above the horizon.

The twin suns were sinking as night cloaked the landscape, but night could wait a few more moments.

After all, it wasn’t every day Hina’ea had visitors.


“So why’d she bring us here, then?” Martha asked quietly, gazing enraptured at the gently sloping waves as they meandered sluggishly towards the coast. The two suns were sending the odd glistening ray of amber light bouncing over the crystalline surface, giving Martha the impression it was made of diamond, rather than water. She sighed with contentment, the day’s events washing away is if pulled out by the retracting tide.

“Well … she must reckon we need a break from saving the Universe. And this is probably one of the most peaceful spots found for a fair few galaxies. Being uninhabited, it’s virtually untouched.”

“I’d noticed,” she said, eyes sparkling. “It sure is beautiful.”

“As I say, it’s untouched. Earth was beautiful once. Back before mankind decided to imprint its mark and claim its land for themselves.”

Martha’s eyebrows raised.

“I thought you liked Earth?” she asked, sceptically, sensing the annoyance behind his otherwise emotionless words.

“I do, but … well, it’s just nice to see something other than human interference. It’s nice to see a planet that knows nothing about the human race and its apparent desire to conquer the Universe. This is one place you’ll never get your hands on.”

Martha frowned.

“I’m getting a hint of disapproval for my native species, Doctor. Are you sure you’re not just annoyed because McDonnell took it upon herself to mine the Sun without checking for signs of life, first?”

The Doctor half-shrugged, his gaze fixed on the two burning balls of flame before him.

“Look at them,” he murmured, pointing a tentative finger at the one on their left as it continued to edge slowly towards the sea beneath it. “Without it, this planet would be useless. Nothing but a shell. It’s the one living thing that no planet can do without. Even the coldest of planets has to have some kind of energy source from it. And yet humans think it’s okay to rip out its heart and use it for their own purpose. Look at them, Martha, and explain to me why anyone could want to harm them.”

Martha sighed, her gaze fixed on the setting sun and its accompanying companion.

“Well, to be fair, they didn’t know that Sun was alive,” she defended, though still admittedly feeling slightly angry with her own species at the same time. After all, the Doctor had a point.

“No,” he murmured back, voice barely noticeable. “No, they didn’t.”

Martha shot him a sideways glance in time to see him shake his head sadly, eyes drawn to the darkening waters ahead of them, his chin resting on his knees and his fingers interlocking over the top of them.

“What’s wrong?” she asked, wondering if he was still silently brooding over the day’s events.

But she supposed being almost eaten alive by an angry Sun was probably reason enough to not be in the most amiable of moods.

“Nothing,” he said tonelessly, eyes glazing over a little as he stared beyond the swirling waters now, eyes still upon them but in a way that suggested he could see straight through them.

“Yes there is,” she replied, restraining an eye-roll. “You’ve gone all manic depressive on me. And this ain’t exactly the kinda place that’s gonna depress a normal person.”

The Doctor shot her a small smile.

“I’m not a normal person,” he confessed, eyes twinkling a little as if in clarification to his words. Martha snorted.

“Yeah, well, ain’t that the truth.”

She paused, biting on her lower lip as the silence returned. Staring out at the sinking suns, she exhaled heavily and relished in the feelings of warmth and beauty that were radiating out from their burning epicentres. Even at twilight, the heat was unbelievable!

“So you gonna spill it, then?” she asked gently, leaning back on her elbows and considering the Doctor through curious eyes as she sank ever deeper into the warm, violet sands.

“Spill what?”

Martha sighed again.

“Y’know, I hated this game when I was four and I still hate it now,” she admitted, shaking her head a fraction in frustration.

“There’s nothing to spill, Martha,” he replied, voice still one of monotonous contemplation.

“Like Hell there isn’t,” she said, frowning deeply now.

Something wasn’t right, here …

The Doctor remained mute, avoiding her penetrating gaze.

“Come on, you can tell me,” Martha pleaded gently, sitting up again and placing a soothing hand on his arm. She could feel his muscles tense a little beneath her grip, but he didn’t pull away, for which Martha was unfathomably grateful. “What’s the matter?”

The Doctor half-shrugged.

“Well … well, it’s nothing, really. It’s just …”

He paused, frowning, trying to find the words. Martha waited, her concern mounting at his sudden loss of a helpful vocabulary when usually she had a hard time trying to keep him quiet for more than two seconds.

Focus distant and tones low, he tried again.

“I dunno, I guess I’m just … tired.”

Martha raised her eyebrows.

“Since when did lack of sleep make you manically depressed?” she asked calmly.

The Doctor shrugged.

“I don’t mean that, exactly.”

“Then what do you mean?”

The Doctor frowned heavily, his gaze faltering as the burning suns became a little too overbearing for his aching eyes.

“I’m tired of surviving everything.”

Martha remained, tactfully, silent, though her muteness could mostly be accounted for her stunned disbelief, rather than because she’d thought it good etiquette to say nothing in reply to such a simple statement.

“I felt its pain,” he said softly, returning his stare to the suns and glaring into them with renewed vigour. “I could feel it, hear it screaming, hear its begging cries for me to help it, for me to put things right. That’s all it wanted. Just to be looked after.”

“Well that’s natural, isn’t it? It just wants to feel appreciated,” Martha said, unsure of where he was heading with this.

The Doctor nodded and stared at her then, eyebrows knotting together. Obviously trying to hint at something, but unfortunately, Martha was out at sea on this one.

“That Sun’s been burning for millennia. Some burn even longer than that. And in all that time, it’s served its purpose without complaint, without fault. And what does it get in return? It’s heart ripped out by a few energy-hungry humans.”

“Yeah, but I thought we’d gotten passed the whole ‘humans-are-annoying-let’s-throw-rocks-at-them’ stage,” she reminded him, frown deepening.

“Yeah, I know but … well, I dunno,” and he fell silent, leaving Martha feeling even less sure of herself than usual.

What was going on?

“Um … okay … but that doesn’t explain your sullen mood, does it? Are you grieving for a Sun you’ve just saved? Shouldn't you be celebrating it, instead?”

The Doctor shook his head.

“No. No I’m not. I'm not grieving for it.” And he fell silent again, leaving Martha to her confused thoughts.

She was just beginning to wonder how ‘all-there’ the Doctor really was when he finally spoke again.

“How many people died today, Martha?”

Martha stared at him, horrified.

“What?” she asked, faintly hoping she’d misunderstood his question.

“Up on that space station. Five people died. Died in the most horrific of ways. Five members of a seven man crew.”

Martha’s head was beginning to hurt, and she found herself wishing she’d kept her mouth shut and just left him to brood his mind empty on his own.

“Yeah but … what’s that got to do with anything?”

The Doctor ignored her, instead thinking back to the events prior to their arrival on McDonnell’s cargo ship.

“And what about during Lazarus’ big launch? How many people died then?”

Martha stared at him, flustered.

“I … I dunno, a few?”

“And what about back in Manhattan? An entire species was wiped out then. Not to mention thousands of humans that had been taken prior to that by the Daleks for the ‘Final Experiment’.”

Martha was at a loss of what to say to that. Of all the topics … Of all the places ...

The Doctor sighed heavily, lost in thought.

“Maybe your Mum’s right, Martha,” he whispered sadly.

“Right about what?” she asked, completely lost.

“She spotted it. So did Jackie. So did Donna. So did Queen Victoria. And so has pretty much every single person I’ve ever met. The Time Lord’s foresaw it in me. They must have known all along what it’s taken me 900 years to realise myself.”

“What are you babbling on about?” Martha asked, genuinely shocked by his attitude. Who the Hell were Jackie and Donna, anyway?

“It follows me.”

Martha shivered.

Such a simple phrase, and a memory of what had to have been no more than one night ago flitted into her mind. Her mother’s voice, urgent and despairing, the sting of a harsh slap echoing slightly beneath the heart-felt words of a distraught parent.

Look around you! Nothing but death and destruction!’

She shook her head.

No,” she heard herself say. But … thinking about it … could she really debunk it? Honestly?

And the Doctor had apparently noticed the quiver of uncertainty, as well.

“Not so sure about that, are you?” he asked, smiling miserably.

“Well …” she faltered, unsure of how best to phrase it, “well, okay, so I’ve probably seen more deaths than I would during an average day on Ward 26, but … b-but they weren’t your fault.”

Of that she was certain, if nothing else.

The Doctor, however, was less sure.

“It’s not like I ask for it to happen. I mean, I hate violence. It never solves anything. But … it’s like I attract it, or something. No matter where I go, no matter what I’m doing or who I’m with … it’s always there.”

Again, lost for words, Martha remained silent.

“I’ve just … I’ve had enough, now.”

The twin suns were half-gone, by now. Their orange lights were staining the lower sky a deep crimson, their dimming spheres of light slowly vanishing from sight as the darkness rolled in. The gently lapping waves were the only sound to be heard for miles around, and the ground beneath her was suddenly less appealing as the harsh sting of the growing cold bit into her skin.

The warmth was all but consumed as the last dying ashes of daylight faded away.

Martha rubbed insecurely at her upper-arms and bit her lip.

“And that’s why …?”

But she fell silent, unable to voice it.

She’d had another rather unpleasant recollection.

‘”Alright! So it’s my turn! Then kill me! Kill me if it’ll stop you attacking these people!”

I will be the des-troy-er of our great-est en-em-y!”

Then do it! Do it! Just do it! DO IT!”’

Martha shivered again, the coldness suddenly seeming overwhelming as she remembered the sincerity in his eyes as he’d shouted, screamed at them to end it, arms wide in offering as he visibly shook with rage and pain.


The words were reverberating around her head now.

And they weren’t the only ones.

‘”If I’m gonna die, let’s give the new boys a shot, eh? The Dalek-Humans, their first blood! Go on! Baptise them!”’

Her shivers were growing.

‘“What are you waiting for? Give the command!”’

And even he had thought that was it.

She’d seen it. She’d heard it in his voice, clutching onto Frank in horror, her eyes jammed shut and a tiny sob escaping her lips as he breathed in sharply, again his arms spread wide as though welcoming them to fire.

“All those times,” she whispered, dismayed. And her own voice was soon echoing within her ears.

‘”But it was her! She killed him, she did it, she murdered him!”’

Martha’s breath hitched.

‘”He gave his life so they’d find you.”’

“You gave your own life to stop that Plasmavore,” she murmured, staring out over the calm waters but, like the Doctor, she wasn’t really seeing them any more.

The Doctor said nothing.

“And then … later on … with the witches. She stabbed you.”

The Doctor said nothing.

“And in New New York. You jumped through exhaust fumes just to try and find me.”

Again, the Doctor said nothing.

Martha’s horror was growing by the second.

“With the Daleks. All those times … all those times you begged for death!”

She was shouting now, her own horror overpowering her rationality as she stared at him through a hazy film of tears.

All those times! You’ve been begging for it? All along you wanted to die, did you? Do I count for nothing?” she begged of him, her eyes wide and staring.

The Doctor nodded slowly but purposefully. “Of course you do! That's not why I did it,” he reasoned, avoiding her gaze. He felt for her, he knew that much. And he'd felt guilty, all those times. Guilty that he was giving up on her, as well as everyone else. As well as giving up on himself. Guilty that he was abandoning her, each time he wished for it, asked for it, begged for death to take him after so many years of fighting.

And yet he'd still gone out of his way to make it as easy for Death to claim him as possible.

Because he simply couldn't do this anymore.

As with that sun, he wanted to feel appreciated. Feel like his lives had been worth something. But the deaths... So many, too many deaths. He wasn't saving lives, he realised desolately. He was bringing about their destruction, instead.

Martha sighed heavily. “But it didn't matter that it might have hurt me to see you like that?” she asked quietly, bringing his attention back to the here and now with a particularly nasty bump.

The Doctor said nothing.

And neither did Martha.

There was nothing to say, not anymore.

The twin suns were almost none-existent now beyond the rich, scarlet horizon. The soothing sounds of the sea weren’t so appealing, all of a sudden. The cold was biting and the sand beneath her was incredibly uncomfortable, now.

And as the final wisps of sunlight were devoured by the blackened sky, Martha felt a sudden urge to leave this peaceful planet as quickly as possible.

She was polluting it, maiming its beauty with disturbing thoughts and feelings.

This planet was supposed to be untouched, and yet she was destroying its innocence the longer she remained sitting here.

Much to her relief, the Doctor had realised the same thing himself, and was soon stumbling to his feet, eyes lingering on the now barely noticeable horizon as he contemplated the odd twinkling star and the gentle sparkle of a distant wave.

“I think we should be going,” he murmured, clearing his throat a little before holding a hand out to help her up.

Martha took it, albeit a little reluctantly.

Making to follow him, she soon changed her mind and tugged him to a halt instead, staring intently at his troubled face through the night-time gloom.

“Doctor,” she said softly, her anger demolished but her sadness growing. He turned to her, eyes that held a thousand stories swirling within them, so many different and painful emotions among them that he was Hell-bent on refusing to let free.

“What?” he asked glumly, eyes downcast and his heart suddenly heavy as stone.

Martha frowned, and reached out a tentative hand to cup his chin slightly.

“For the record … I don’t blame you,” she whispered.

The Doctor shrugged nonchalantly.

“Neither did she,” was all he would say. “And look where it got her.”

Martha didn’t even need to ask who he was talking about.

“Yeah, well, she had good reason. And if we must drag her into this, she wouldn’t want to see what you’re doing to yourself, would she?”

Stung a little by his constant comparison of her to his past companion, Martha felt slightly guilty at the harshness of her choice of words, but they were words that needed to be spoken, no matter how painful they may have been to hear.

The truth hurt. She’d learnt that much herself over the course of the past few minutes.

The Doctor sighed heavily and shook his head a fraction in defeat.

“No,” he mumbled. “No, I don’t suppose she would.”

“Y’know, no matter what,” Martha went on, smiling a little in reassurance, “You do know you’ve got me, don’t you?”

The Doctor nodded, sparing her a grateful half-smile of his own before reaching into his pocket for the TARDIS key.

Vanishing inside ahead of her to set the coordinates, he left Martha to stare out over Hina’ea’s peaceful beach, her eyes scanning over the violet sands and the crystalline waters, seeking out the sparkling pinpricks up in the sky that were the billion and one stars she had yet to visit.

And as she backed into the TARDIS at last, a sigh escaping her lips, her eyes grazed over the horizon just as the doors swung slowly shut. And for the briefest of brief moments, she spotted a tiny streak of yellow as the twin suns set completely, their lingering lights disappearing from view as the night took over.

“Those Suns need protection,” she heard the Doctor call softly from his position beside the console.

Martha could only nod her agreement, her mind elsewhere and her heart aching for her lonely companion as the TARDIS faded out of existence, Hina’ea returning to normal once again with little more than a whirring of alien engines.


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