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Power of Words and Stories

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Summary: When Martha Jones walks into their camp, it's been over a month since the skies opened up and spat out the Toclafane. Written for the 2011 August Fic-a-day.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Dr. Who/Torchwood > Xander-CenteredkerrykhatFR711,696151,70917 Aug 1117 Aug 11Yes
Disclaimer: Joss Whedon owns "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and related characters; the BBC owns "Doctor Who" and related characters; I own nothing.

Author's Note: Written for jez, since she's the one who introduced me to the idea of Xander/Martha. I apologize if the French is faulty.

When Martha Jones walks into their camp, over a month has passed since the skies opened up and spat out the Toclafane. Over a month of Xander and the girls he had been training with out of contact with the rest of the Council. Over a month of working with the nascent resistance movement in France trying to subvert the Master’s regime as best they can. Over one month since the world all but ended.

He goes with the squad that’s sent to escort her to their base on the border between France and Germany. He wants to see the woman who’s on the top of the global “Most Wanted List” and assess if she’s a threat to his girls. The whispers may already be reaching them about Martha Jones and her quest to destroy the Master, but Xander wasn’t born yesterday. Even with the hype, she could be a ploy by the Master to trap cells of resistance before they get more powerful.

“Any sign of her?” Manon, the head of their cell whispers in accented English. She is the aunt of one of his girls, and they had retreated to her house when everything fell apart.

Xander shakes his head, eye warily scanning the surrounding landscape. Finally, he spies movement: a lone man walking towards them. He thinks he spies someone next to him, but his eye shifts back towards the man.

Arrête!” Manon shouts, holding up her gun. “Arrête!

The man replies in rapid French which Xander barely understands, even with the crash course he had this past month. Movement catches his eye again and he starts when he sees a woman appear next to the man.

Mon nom est Martha Jones,” she tells the group in accented French, raising her hands to show that she’s unarmed.

Xander lowers his weapon cautiously as the man and Martha Jones slowly approach their group. Manon and the man talk again before she nods curtly.

“Come,” she tells Xander, even though he doesn’t need that last translation.

Martha Jones falls along beside him as they walk back towards the camp. He looks at her, sizing her up. She looks like she’s a few years younger than him, dressed in no-nonsense black clothes with a well-worn pack over her shoulders. From the way the clothes are hanging on her, it looks like she’s lost a significant amount of weight in a short time, much like everybody else Xander has seen.

She catches him looking at her and gives him a wry smile.

“You expected somebody taller, didn’t you?” she asks.

“Not really,” Xander answers with a small smile of his own. She’s about an inch shorter than Buffy, but then again, so were several other Slayers he had worked with over the years. “As the grand master once said, ‘Size matters not.’”

Her eyes crinkle at the edges and her smile widens at the reference.

They don’t speak much more during the walk back to the camp. Martha Jones talks briefly to Manon, although Xander doesn’t catch most of what they’re saying. Something about other cells throughout France. He makes a mental note to remind himself to ask her if she’s heard anything about members of the Council who were in London. He doesn’t know when he might get another chance to do so.

At the gates of their camp, a small crowd has formed to catch a glimpse of Martha. What little they have heard about her has everybody curious, especially the growing rumor that she has a way to defeat the Master. Xander’s heard so many different rumors as to what it could be, at this point he was prepared for anything.

To her credit, Martha greets everybody who’s there to see her with a smile, although Xander can see the signs of exhaustion on her face.

That night, after a meager dinner supplemented by what Martha and the man, Methieu, have brought with them, the question about why she’s here is finally asked.

“I’m here to tell you a story,” she starts, settling down in the middle of the small semi-circle around the main generator, her voice rising to be heard over its gentle hum. “About an impossible man called the Doctor.”

Xander, sitting with his girls, listens as she weaves a story about a strange man with a bright blue box, hurtling through space and time. She tells them about a man who was the last of his kind being swept up into events like the signing of a peace treating on a far off world that involves a mirror and a glass army. Throughout the story, the familiar ideas of hope and good triumphing over evil are strung together in a way both familiar to Xander, but wholly different at the same time.

All too soon, the story ends, and despite the crowd begging for more, Marta tells them that she’ll share more with them the next night.

“Universal translator?” Xander asks quietly once the crowd has dispersed, remembering an idea that Andrew had once floated to help the Council. It’s the only thing that really explains how he was able to understand her at the same time the rest of their cell did. He offers her a hand, which she takes.

“Possibly,” she answers with a smile, pulling herself to her feet. “I didn’t catch your name earlier. Sorry.”

“Harris. Xander Harris,” he introduces himself. “Although I do also answer to Nick Fury and James Bond.”

Martha laughs and shakes her head in mock resignation. “How long have you been waiting to use that?”

“Too long,” Xander replies. “Don’t get me wrong, I love these guys, but nobody understands my references.”

She laughs again, and Xander wants to talk to her more, but it’s late and their day starts early tomorrow. They say goodnight before going to their respective bunks.

The next day reveals another facet to Martha Jones: she appears at their makeshift infirmary, helping their lone medic, one of the older Slayers named Xinran, treat the wounded. Xander, who had swung by to talk to Xinran about what supplies she might need, watches as she jokes with the patients while checking their wounds.

That night, Martha tells them another story of the Doctor, this time centering on witches and William Shakespeare. She ends the story with a request:

“You need to be Martha Jones. Share the stories that I told you to others,” she tells them, meeting as many eyes as she can. “Spread the word about the Doctor. I can’t do this by myself.”

Mais qu'en est-il le Maître? Comment pouvons-nous le tuer?” Roger, their mechanic asked. Xander knew enough French to understand what he meant: How do we kill the Master?

Martha shook her head. “You can’t. But we can defeat him,” she explains. “We just need to have faith in the Doctor. Keep telling the stories to everyone you meet until everybody knows about him.”

There are more questions, all of which Martha tries to answer. Again, Xander stays after the crowd has left to go to sleep for the night.

“I get that question every camp I go to,” Martha tells him quietly. “All of them want to know how telling stories can help beat the Master when they can’t even destroy the Toclafane.”

“Sometimes words are all it takes to save the world,” Xander replies seriously after a moment’s pause to collect his thoughts. “I don’t know much about the Master, but it doesn’t seem like he’s much into word play. It’s like in Harry Potter when the start of Voldemort’s defeat is love. He didn’t understand it, so he didn’t prepare for it.”

“Are you speaking from experience?”

“I’ve averted an apocalypse or two in my time through handy use of words,” he replies. “Don’t doubt that you can save the world through words. From what I’ve seen, if anybody can do it, it’s you.”

The next morning, Martha and Methieu leave for their next destination. Xander volunteers to escort them to the edge of their perimeter. They walk in silence until they reach their destination.

“Good luck,” he tells them, shaking first Methieu’s and then Martha’s hand. “Martha Jones, savior of Earth.”

Almost eleven months later, Xander stands surrounded by the survivors of the long year fighting against the Master. Even though he’s lost three Slayers out of his squad of six, he never lost faith in Martha Jones.

“The Doctor,” he whispers as those around him say the same thing. “The Doctor.”

In his head, he still sees Dr. Martha Jones, walking the world to save them all with nothing but her stories.

“The Doctor. The Doctor. The...”

“Xander! There’s somebody for you!” Andrew calls down the hall. Xander moans, wanting nothing more than to take a hot shower and collapse in his bed. The training mission in France had been brutal, with an unexpected vampire and demon alliance flaring up to try to take them down. They had survived with no casualties, but it had left him drained.

“Send it through!” he shouts back, walking stiffly over to his office phone. It rings once before he picks it up.

“Xander Harris,” he answers. He hears breathing on the other end, but whoever’s calling doesn’t say anything. “Hello? Xander here.”

The person on the other end hangs up, leaving Xander looking at the phone oddly.

“Andrew, can you trace the call and let me know who it was tomorrow?” he asks the other man as he leaves to head back to his apartment. He wonders who his mysterious caller was. Had they just gotten the wrong number, or was there another reason they had hung up?

Putting the call out of his mind for now, he quickly exists HQ and smiles at the thought of a proper night’s rest. He can’t help shake the feeling that it’s been far too long since he’s had one of those.


Arrête! - Stop!
Mon nom est Martha Jones, - My name is Martha Jones
Mais qu'en est-il le Maître? Comment pouvons-nous le tuer? - But what about the Master? How do we kill him?

The End

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