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Don't Let Anybody Steal Your Dreams

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Story Title: Don't Let Anybody Steal Your Dreams

Type of story: short fic

Main Characters: Jack, Martha & Irene

BTTB rating: T

Genre: angst

Does story include spoilers:No

Any warnings: No

Summary: Martha tries to rebuild her life without Jack.

Hi luv, it's only me, Irene knocked gently on Martha' front door and popped her head around the frame.

There was no reply.

Yet, as Irene pushed her way in, she saw Martha sitting on the couch, ramrod straight and staring straight ahead.

Martha, luv, just dropped by with some fresh baked scones, she bustled towards the younger woman.

But still, there was no reply.

Rounding the couch, she saw that Martha's eyes were open, but sightless. She was lost in a world of her own, and entirely deaf to Irene's voice.


Impatient now, Irene snapped her fingers loudly right in Martha's face, and she jumped, started back into the present.

Oh, Irene, I didn't see you there. Mmhm. Just like you didn't hear me come in, or knocking calling your name.

Hands on hips, Irene cut an intimidating figure even though Martha had known her for countless years.

I, yes, I was thinking -

Thinking! Irene exclaimed.

Martha luv, it's after three. You're still in your nightgown. The breakfast dishes are still unwashed and you've not put out your rubbish for collection

again this week.

Lowering her voice, she leaned down towards Martha, somewhat conspiratorially.

That's the third week in a row luv. They're going to think your own backyard is a dumpster lot if you're not careful.

I know, I've just been busy, Martha attempted to make excuses for herself but Irene only laughed, clucking sympathetically.

Sitting herself down next to Martha on the couch, she regarded her solemnly, laughter fading into nothing.

Look luv, Irene hesitated. I know you're still grieving him, luv, it's only natural. But, he'd hate to see you wasting your life away like this. You know


Martha looked her in the eye for the first time then, since the conversation began.

The glazed expression haunted Irene; to see all the pain and loneliness floating behind the wall that Martha had begun to build around her.

A wall that would lock her in with the heartbreak of Jack's tragedy, and keep everyone else out.

I've already lost it all, Irene, she replied lowly. There's nothing more to waste.

Don't give me that drivel! Irene grew impatient again.

You're still alive, ain'tcha?

Martha flinched as though she'd been struck but there was no pity wafting towards her from Irene.

Martha, I know everyone's been tiptoeing around you and your feelings, trying their level best not to step on them. It's like they're all balancing precariously on the same tight rope, and without a safety net. Sooner or later, one of them's gonna fall.

If I'm the only one that'll give you a bit of straight talking, then so be it.

I don't want to hear it, Martha turned away and got up, heading for the kitchen with Irene hot on her heels.

Collecting the dirty dishes half-heartedly, she carried them to the sink, turning the tap on viciously.

It splashed out in a torrent, soaking her front as it did so, but Martha acted as though she hadn't even noticed.

A hand closed over hers suddenly, forcing the tap off, and she froze, glaring at the dishes.

Like it or not, Martha, he's gone and you're still here, Irene spoke forcefully now, intending to get her point across.

She wasn't prepared for Martha spinning around to yell at her, that's the point Irene. Don't you get it yet? I don't want to be here! I

only want to be with Jack!

It was like a dam burst within her, for all of a sudden she was weeping, and sobbing her heart out as though she'd never cried before.

Irene went to her immediately, enclosing her within her embrace.

Oh luv, I know, I know, she rocked Martha back and forth.

Let it all out, that's right, Irene encouraged soothingly, rubbing her hand in small circles over Martha' shuddering spine.

Eventually, after some time had passed, the crying slowed, and Martha straightened with jerky movements, dragging her hand across her eyes.

Satisfied that it was okay to let go now, Irene reached across to the counter and ripped a piece of kitchen paper from the roller, handing it to Martha wordlessly.

Thanks, she snuffled, taking it, and blowing her nose quietly as her red eyes began to dry up when it became evident that she had herself under control again.

Feel better? Irene asked sympathetically.

To her surprse, Martha shook her head, and glared up at her.

No, Irene I don't. Do you really think that crying a few tears is going to help me get over losing Jack? He's gone Irene, I'm never going to see him again, she shoved her chair back from the counter with a squeal and stood up, speaking slowly and very precisely.

The one man I loved with all my heart. The one man I've felt for like I've never felt for anyone else. He's dead, and I have to get up each morning without him, knowing that he won't be coming home at lunch to give me a kiss, or bringing me a bunch of wildflowers when he finishes work. I have to walk Ziggy, and see the loneliness in his eyes. He doesn't understand where Jack is, and it's slowly killing him. He won't eat, he drags on the lead when I walk him, and he paces the room at night, sniffing and searching for Jack until I think he's going to drive me crazy.

He's a dog Irene, and he's the closest that ANY of you have come to have any iota as to how much I miss Jack. So don't come in here with your patronising smiles, pretending that you understand - and thinking that crying a bit on your shoulder will, she made quotations with her fingers. Make me "feel better"

Shocked into silence by the torrent, Irene's jaw had dropped, and her hand was clutching the counter behind for support as though the force of Martha' temper loss was going to physically knock her over.

So, you can keep your 'advice' and 'kind words, Irene, she flung out, because I don't want to hear them.

And with that final parting shot, Martha stormed into her bedroom, slamming the door noisily behind her.

... to be continued.

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Great start! :D

Martha really misses Jack. :(

I love the way you describe her feelings. You can almost feel her pain, sadness and loneliness. :(

Poor Irene though! She wasn't expecting to be yelled at like that.

More please.

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Chapter 2

Gobsmacked, and more than a little shook up, Irene remained frozen in place, letting the weight of Martha's harsh words sink in.

No sound came from within the bedroom, though she cocked an ear tentatively in its direction.

Irene was never prone to tears, rather, a steadfast support for anyone and everyone that was upset, or needed a listening ear.

But it was rare for any one of those to spout off at her, as Martha had done - or at least, it was never done quite so viciously.

But,looking around her, and the filthy state that Martha had allowed her usually pristine kitchen to get into, Irene could see with her own eyes that the girl needed help.

Mouth pursing, she rolled up her sleeves and set to work, turning on the tap with more care than Martha had in order to ensure that she didn't get splashed.

One hand reached out, hooking the apron off its nail, and tying it deftly around her.

Then, hands on hips, Irene set herself to work, beginning first with the overpowering tower of dishes that lay on every available surface around her.


In her room, Martha wasn't weeping. Her eyes were dry, and tearless, her body motionless.

She sat upright against the head-board, knees drawn into her chest and arms around her legs, hugging them protectively to her.

In her mind, she was with Jack, frolicking playfully in the waters of summer bay, splashing each other with a careless sense of freedom.

Her mouth curved up at the corners, unbeknownst to her, as she slid into a dreamland, letting reality slip past, just like it did every day.

At least, here, in her mind, she could be who she wanted to be, with the man she wanted to be with.


Martha? a strong masculine voice called out from the front door.

Irene, elbow-deep in hot water as she scrubbed the last of the dirty cutlery, turned her head to the door to see Hugo pushing against it lightly, his hands full with a large black box.

Oh, Irene, he stopped in his tracks, surprised to see her there.

Hallo luv, Irene dried her hands on the tea-towel and stepped towards him.

Can I give you a hand?

What? Hugo looked down at his box. Oh, no, it's fine. It's just some diving gear. Is Martha about?

The hopeful look on his face was far too easy for Irene to see through, but she said nothing about this observation.

Aye, she's in her room luv. We had words.

How else to put what had happened that day, she wondered thoughtfully.

Words? Hugo's eyebrows rose up into his hairline.

Irene, you didn't, he paused, searching for appropriate words, give out to her did you?

Aye, Irene nodded after a slight hesitation.

But it was needed Hugo. She can't have everyone molly-coddlin' her the rest of her days. She's not a baby waiting to be spoonfed.

Yes Irene, but, she did just lose her husband, Hugo spoke up forcefully on Martha's behalf.

Irene shot a glance at Martha's firmly closed bedroom door, reminding Hugo without saying anything, to keep his voice down.

I know luv, but she's not the first person in this world to lose someone she loves and she certainly won't be the last. I'm not saying she's got to up and carry on like nothing's changed but she shouldn't be letting herself waste away to nothing either.

Her voice had rised without realising it, and this time it was Hugo that cut her a look for quietness.

Martha will deal with this as she needs to, he hunkered down on his haunches to stroke Ziggy, who patted his tail faintly on the ground but didn't raise his head.

She knows best out of all of us how to survive without Jack, so I don't see how you lecturing her will do any good Irene.

She studied him through narrowed eyes, cocking her head to one side.

Hugo and Xavier had only arrived to live in the bay after Jack had died, so Irene didn't know Hugo's life story like most of the bay residents did of one another, but from what she knew of their family, there hadn't been any immediate deaths.

Reaching out and putting a soothing hand on his shoulder, Irene patted it reassuringly.

When someone you love very much dies, luv, it's different going through the process than just thinking about going through the process. But, life does go on for those left behind - that's all I'm tryin' to git through to her.

Hugo froze, his hand stilling its motion, and then he got up very slowly with a face like thunder.

I find it hard to believe you just said that Irene, he replied through clenched teeth.

She looked blank.

Do you honestly believe that you have a higher power than the rest of us in relation to death and mourning?

Hugo, luv, I - Irene tried to understand where he was coming from but he cut her off without a second's hesitation.

Martha doesn't need this, or you, if you're going to carry on like this, he gave out sternly, eyes narrowed and it was evident that he was trying very hard to keep his anger under control.

In fact, I think you should leave, now.

What? Irene exclaimed but Hugo stood firm, crossing his arms over his chest.

Martha doesn't need this, he enunciated his words clearly and extra slow.

And to be honest, I've had just about enough of your opinionated views as well. So go on, leave!

Jerking his head towards the door, he watched sternly as Irene's jaw dropped at being treated so rudely.

Forgetting about the apron that she'd put on to do the washing up, she snatched her bag up off the couch and brushed past him furiously, stopping at the door to say, I won't forget this too quickly Hugo. Mark my words, you've over-stepped the line, before storming out the door.

He watched her go, until he couldn't see her anymore, and then heaved a huge sigh.

A floorboard creaking behind him made him spin rapidly.

Was that really necessary? Martha asked quietly, having heard every word.

Now it was his turn to jaw drop her.

Martha, I was only trying to protect you, he attempted but the look of dissatisfaction on her face told him that this explanation just wasn't going to cut it.

With a sigh, he sank down onto the couch.

.... to be continued.

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