PG, 800 words
Summary: Unplanned, unexpected, Martha meets the forerunner of her life.
Notes: Sandwiched into Parting of the Ways.
Martha was walking back from Queen Mary's, heading to a newsagents to grab a sandwich before she returned to afternoon lectures. She immersed herself in the hum of London, as she skirted in and out of the crowds. Gradually, the people dissipated as she headed further into an estate – food forgotten now as she lost herself in somewhere she'd never been before.
As she passed a side street, a sound made her stop. Turning, she saw a girl sobbing, leaning against a wall. She paused for a moment. On better inspection, the girl looked around her age, though her face was mostly hidden as she tried unsuccessfully to stop her tears.
"Hey," Martha said softly, and she looked up with a shuddering gasp of surprise that soon changed to suspicion.
Martha walked closer, gently touching her arm. "Are you alright?"
"What does it look like?"
Martha smiled. "Ok, fair enough."
The girl laughed shakily. "God, I must look like a right mess." She looked up at Martha, who saw nothing less than complete devastation in her eyes.
"What happened?" Martha asked, unsure she wanted the answer.
The girl's eyes suddenly seemed to be seeing something else, something very far away. "It's happening," she said, "right now, it's happening, and there's nothing I can do." Her eyes re-focused on Martha. "My- my friend, he's dying, and I-" her voice nearly broke, and Martha almost didn't catch "I can't help him."
"What do you mean you can't help him? There must be police, ambulances – where is he?"
She shook her head. "No, there's nothing anyone can do. He's a world away. He sent me here, back home, so I'd be safe. Safe! Like it's better to be here, doing nothing, and knowing, than trying to save him!"
And then she broke down again, slumping down to the ground and burying her face in her arms. Martha knelt down in front of her, resting a hand on her knee. She didn't say anything for a moment, just watched until the girl's shaking shoulders began to stop their convulsions.
"There's really nothing you can do?" she asked, as she fished a tissue out from her back pocket.
The girl took it gratefully, lifting her head up again. She dabbed a little at her running mascara, but a small smile acknowledged it was a lost cause. "I don't know how to get back, I've tried." Her fingers brushed against Martha's, and she was quiet for a moment. "Thank you."
"Come on, let's get you up." Martha took her hands and tugged her to her feet. "Now then, sounds like you've got to keep trying to get back to your friend, and you can't do it looking like that!"
She pushed hair out of the girl's face, unable to resist running her fingers through it, which brought out another smile.
"There you are, not too bad! So, do you think you can find your way back to him?"
There was a glow of something resolute in her eyes. "I have to."
"Then you can," Martha said, and she believed it. "There's got to be a way."
The girl nodded. "You're right."
"Good. Well." Martha paused, looking at her. There was a softness about this girl, something that drew Martha in, made her reach out to her. She kissed her before she had a chance to think about it, tasting tears and feeling a slight gasp of air against her parted lips.
She stepped back after a moment, laughing slightly. "God, I'm sorry! I don't normally do that when I've only met someone for five minutes."
The girl looked surprised. "No, it's ok, I-"
There were footsteps, and a man appeared from the main street. "Rose! Come on, come back inside. And who the hell are you?" he said to Martha, looking wary.
"Oh, I'm no one," she replied hastily. "Sorry, I should really go – Rose? Go back to him. Sounds like he needs you."
The man was looking even more suspicious now, but Rose nodded again, with more certainty this time. Martha smiled, then quickly walked away.
For the rest of the day, she went over and over that strange little episode, as she developed a thousand alternatives to explain what had happened.
"Rose, her name was, Rose," the Doctor says, and something in the back of Martha's mind starts whirring.
"Where is she now?" she asks, already unable to stop a flood of images. Rose, the girl from the side-street. Here in the TARDIS, with a smile unmarred by sadness, travelling with the Doctor, kissing the Doctor… She blinks.
"Not that you're replacing her," he's saying, and she dismisses the thought.
Later on, when things finally slow down, she'll stop, think, and wonder if she'll ever find out whether she's right, that it is the same Rose. And she won't be able to help remembering the grief-stricken look on her face, brought about by the Doctor, and will try not to think too much if this is a necessary consequence of life in this box of wonders. But once you've seen the wonders, there's no turning back, and Rose knew that too. She'll have a moment of remembrance, then hope she's able to follow Rose's lead, and find it in herself to do anything, for the Doctor's sake.