“So, I’ve got to ask,” Yaz starts, and then watches with bemusement as the Doctor leaps backward and smacks her head into one of the odd jutting crystalline pillars that surround the console.
“Yaz! Hello, Yaz!” She rights herself cheerfully enough, rubbing nonchalantly at the back of skull. “Fancy meeting you here, didn’t you pop off to do sleep things in a sleep room? Could you not find one?”
“I did find a bedroom, yeah… about 10 hours ago,” Yaz says mildly. “Aren’t the boys up yet?”
“Haven’t seen them,” the Doctor tells her. “I don’t really - time gets a bit wibbly when you live on a TARDIS. Well, I say wibble, I mean more of a wobble… I had a phrase for it, once. I can’t quite remember.”
“Right… humans usually sleep for around 8 hours, so they’re overdue,” Yaz clarifies, because she thinks she could spend the rest of her life studying the Doctor and barely scrape her surface, but one pattern she’s already started to recognize is: the Doctor reverts to Eccentric Alien Mode when she doesn’t want to admit she doesn’t know something.
The other thing Yaz has figured out is that when anyone tries to ask the Doctor a personal question, she can misdirect them through eleven relative dimensions in time and space.
Yaz is working on asking anyways.
“So I’ve got to ask,” she repeats, “when do you sleep? Do you sleep?”
“Oh, about once a lifetime or so,” the Doctor says airily. “I had a proper rest on Ryan’s couch, plus a lot of being unconscious before chasing that Pting around.”
“Yeah, that time that you were really injured and hadn’t recovered from it yet? Yesterday ?”
“Wibbly wobbly,” the Doctor repeats.
Yaz squints at her. She looks alright, although Yaz doesn’t really know what to look for. Same blonde hair tucked messily behind the delicate ear outlined by its gold chain. Same crinkled expression of bewilderment when Yaz stares at her a little too long.
“I just worry about you,” she says lamely, feeling like she has to offer up some kind of explanation. “I mean - I was worried about you yesterday, and if you were really hurt or ill, it’s not like any of us know how to get you help.”
The Doctor’s face does a new expression then, something soft and fond and a little starry in her eyes as she smiles. “Yaz, brilliant brilliant Yaz.” She reaches out and clumsily pats Yaz’s cheek. “If anything happens, I think I’m in excellent hands.”
“Are you sure you’re alright?” Yaz asks, and since the Doctor has initiated physical contact, she doesn’t feel guilty grabbing her shoulders and looking her over. The Doctor stands very still under her scrutiny, not as though she’s uncomfortable - more the way she gets sometimes, when she is trying to follow human rules without quite understanding them.
“I’m fine, truly,” she promises, and Yaz smiles at her. She can’t quite forget - the feeling of the Doctor’s body pressed against her, pushing her against the wall, standing between her and a bomb.
She can’t shake off the knowledge that she would have done the same thing in a heartbeat, that here is a person worth protecting.
They go to a marketplace on an alien planet, or rather to an alien planet that is a marketplace, because the Doctor assures them that it has the best waffles available anywhere in the galaxy.
“Are waffles an intergalactic cuisine?” Ryan asks, and turns back to grin at Yaz conspiratorially when the Doctor launches into a lengthy and impossible waffle anecdote.
Yaz is walking a foot or so behind them, content just to observe for a while without taking part in the conversation. Ryan and the Doctor are chatty in the mornings, right from the get go. Graham and Yaz, the two sensible people on Team TARDIS, need a few extra moments and whatever happens to be caffeinated in local spacetime.
Kaphos 4 is a desert-looking planet, or at least the part of it they’ve landed on is. Yellows and browns dominate the landscape, interrupted by bright tents. The layout is more or less grid-like, rows of vendors, and they’ve been traveling long enough now that Yaz isn’t fooled by humanoid appearance into thinking that she’s surrounded by humans. She can pick out the details, now; the vendor with the green banner is shouting in a language that has sounds Yaz can’t mimic, and she thinks she sees a forked tongue press briefly against his lip to make a few of them. A woman shoves past them to get to a booth with defeathered birds hanging loosely down from the ceiling, and Yaz is almost positive she sees a set of gills carved into her neck.
“ - the Marx brothers love waffles, you know, they’re from a planet that waffles most of its food, AHA!” Yaz’s attention is drawn back to her friends as the Doctor interrupts herself with an exclamation. “Hang on a tick,” she tells them, and darts into a purple tent with a large crowd heaving around it. They watch as she melts up to the counter, heedless of any semblance of a line. She speaks for a moment to the vendor, and then shoves her hand into her pocket, digging for something.
“I have a theory that she’s working with a different definition of waffle than we are. Do you want to place bets?” Graham says, and Ryan laughs. Yaz doesn’t. Graham and Ryan talk about the Doctor sometimes like they’ve bought into the mask of whimsy she creates over herself, like between moments of crisis they forget how much is hidden underneath.
Yaz likes the whimsy, but she doesn’t like pretending it’s all there is.
The Doctor pressed against her, putting her body between Yaz and danger because it’s the only thing she had left to protect her with…
But that was at least a week ago now by any measure of time Yaz can use to keep track of things, and the Doctor is bright-eyed and healthy as she exchanges some kind of metallic chip for a steaming paper cup. She comes back and presents it to Yaz, beaming.
“Here you go, you’ll love this!”
“What is it?” Yaz asks, taking the cup and giving it a sniff. She’s not suspicious; so far the Doctor has been right on the money about what they’ll all love. She’s just curious. The smell is rich and spicy and fruity.
“Gorta juice! Bit caffeinated, tastes like pie,” the Doctor tells her happily, and Yaz sips at it. It does taste like pie, somehow - a spice that isn’t cinnamon or ginger or nutmeg but would fit right in with them, and something a little like raspberry.
“That’s amazing,” she tells the Doctor honestly, and watches her whole face light up with triumphant pleasure.
“And how come Yaz gets special treatment?” Ryan asks, laughingly indignant. “Don’t the rest of us get any pie juice?”
“Yaz needs caffeine in the mornings, the TARDIS is lousy at caffeine,” the Doctor explains, and Yaz smiles, feeling a small private warmth bloom in her that is becoming increasingly familiar. There’s no hiding that the Doctor is her favorite person - she’s admitted it aloud in front of all of them, in a brazenly honest moment. She collects these little moments of evidence that maybe she’s the Doctor’s favorite back.
Not her favorite ever, of course - in her thousands of years of life, the Doctor has met a lot of people who are grander and more important and better than Yaz. But there’s no denying the shameless way that she hangs back, rearranging herself so that she’s next to Yaz instead of Ryan as they continue on, and as she takes another sip of her gorta juice, Yaz feels pretty special.
It turns out that by waffles, the Doctor means getting chased around a marketplace by angry intelligent fruit, but Yaz isn’t one for quibbling over semantics.
Even when they’re in real danger, most of their adventures with the Doctor hold an element of fun. There’s the fascinating neverending strangeness of the universe to enjoy, and after those first days, it’s hard to ever really be frightened. Yaz has faith in the Doctor. She knows that if a solution is there to be found, they’re going to find it.
But sometimes even with a time machine, they’re too late. They land on Minona Prime, a space station in the 43rd century that the Doctor says has a fantastic view of Saturn’s rings out the window, and the explosion has already happened, the alarms are already going off.
All they can do is help clean up the damage.
The foreman, a middle-aged cyborg called Johan, gives them tasks. Yaz starts out with a very futuristic clipboard, checking off areas of the ship as the security teams declare them safe, but every time one task gets finished, someone has something else that needs to be done, which is how she looks up and finally realizes that she hasn’t seen anyone else from Team TARDIS in at least six hours.
She stands, and wobbles a bit, her knees letting her know that she’s getting too old to spend an hour crawling around among airducts.
“You alright?” asks the man she’s been assisting with repairs, and with a start Yaz realizes that she hasn’t even learned his name. Everything’s been a blur.
“I’m fine - just need to be upright for a bit and maybe find something to eat,” she assures him. “And I’d like to check on my friends.”
The man - whose name turns out to be Doric - directs her down the hall to some kind of main room, which looks like its been set up into an impromptu mess hall. There are piles of wrapped sandwiches on a table to the side, and Yaz spots Graham and Ryan sitting on the floor not far from the door, already eating. She picks her way delicately around groups of people until she reaches them.
“Yaz! Did you get anything to eat?”
“I will in a minute,” she assures them, sitting down. “What’ve you two been up to?”
“Helping in the med bay,” Graham answers her. “But after things calmed down we started to be more in the way than anything else. Hardly any casualties - they’re well organized and well supplied here.”
“Good,” Yaz says, real relief breaking over her. It had looked that way from where she’d been too - everybody pitching in, fighting back the chaos of disaster. She cranes her head, looking through the crowd for any flash of blonde. “Have you seen…”
“Not for ages,” Ryan tells her, and there’s something to the quirk of his eyebrow, to the way he cuts her off without waiting for the end of her sentence that Yaz wants to push on, but it doesn’t seem like the moment.
“She was with the scout team earlier, looking through the rubble for survivors,” Graham says, and Yaz’s heart lurches just a little. Of course the Doctor would have dropped herself right into the center of things. She’s probably uncovered six conspiracies and some sentient electricity while Yaz has been manning check-lists. And she definitely won’t have stopped to take any kind of break.
“Maybe I’ll grab an extra sandwich, see if I can track her down and bring her something,” she says, trying to keep her voice casual. “Not that I have any idea how often she actually needs to eat.”
And yeah, there’s definitely something in the look that Graham and Ryan exchange, but whatever. Yaz leaves them to it.
She walks in the direction of the main damage. There are repair teams in the areas that are already cleared, but the explosion had been huge , and there are still whole portions of the ship blocked off by rubble. Two people are still unaccounted for, and with every hour, the odds have gone down of finding them alive. Yaz follows the helpful directions of a uniformed woman, and then stops partway down the hallway when she hears a sound that pricks every instinct she’s ever developed.
“Hello?” she calls out softly, and hears it again - the shifting of fabric, and then a soft sniff. The area is marked green, which means it’s already been cleared of both people and danger, but Yaz is still careful as she shoves a derailed sliding door, putting her whole body weight against it before it reluctantly slots into the wall.
The room it reveals is far less damaged than the hallway, but it’s not completely intact. The ceiling has come partially down. Yaz isn’t sure what its purpose was - furniture and knick-knacks have been knocked into chaos by blast force, and the only light is what’s coming through from the hallway. “Is someone in here?” she calls out, deliberately gentling her voice. She can’t say what makes her think so, but something about that sniff had sounded young.
There’s no response. Slowly, Yaz kneels, peering into the dark space formed where a collapsing ceiling had brought down a set of shelves. Two eyes blink back at her.
“Hello there. Are you alright?” she asks. She’s almost positive she’s talking to a child, which is concerning because the only people still listed as missing are adults. Every child should be accounted for. There’s no immediate response, but she waits patiently, counting in her head. She lets the silence get to 60 seconds and then tries again. “It’s pretty scary in here, in the dark. If you want, I can take you somewhere where they have the lights working.”
Another break, counting in her head, and Yaz has almost reached 60 when finally a small voice replies, “I can’t move - my leg hurts.”
Definitely a child. And if she’s injured, then that means she’s been in here, alone and unmissed for hours, probably. No wonder she’s frightened into silence.
“Oof, that’s no fun.” Yaz tries to keep her tone light, knows that children look to adults for cues. If the child’s injured she should go get a med team to get her out, but Yaz is loathe to leave her alone again in the dark if she doesn’t have to. “Can you tell me how it hurts - does it feel like a bruise or a scrape or something else?”
“Like a bruise but worse,” the child says. “I think it’s broken. What happened?”
“There was an accident, but everybody’s OK,” Yaz tells her. “Lots of people got a little bit injured, but the medics are patching them up, just like they’ll do for your leg.” The girl sounds lucid, and she’s calm enough to ask questions. Yaz decides on an experimental, “I need to go for just one moment and get some medics so they can help get you out of there, OK?”
“NO!” The voice turns frantic immediately. “Don’t leave me!”
“OK, OK, I’m not leaving,” Yaz promises, responding to the tone. She wouldn’t want to be left either, if she was an injured kid. She still can’t even see the girl, the light from the doorway isn’t reaching her well enough to let Yaz see anything more than the shine of her eyes. Yaz has no idea how badly injured she is, if she’s trapped under the debris. She needs more information.
“I’m not going to leave, but we need to get you out of there,” she tells the girl. “Is your leg stuck under anything?”
“No… it just hurts.”
“Does anything else hurt?”
“No. I - I think I can get to you,” the girl says. Her voice is wobbling, but she’s clearly trying her best to be brave.
“Hold your leg as still as you can, and see if you can scoot toward me,” she says. “If it doesn’t work, we’ll come up with a different plan.”
Finally, finally, shadows shift and Yaz can see the outline of her small form as the girl pulls herself out backward from under the debris. She waits until the child is mostly clear and then supports her, pulling her the rest of the way out as smoothly as possible. The child shifts to get her arms around Yaz’s neck and then suddenly she’s clinging, sobbing and squeezing so tightly that Yaz can’t pull back to examine her.
“Alright, I’ve got you, it’s alright.” Yaz runs soothing circles down the child’s back, awkwardly crouched as she tries to hold the child close without shifting her leg. “I’m going to pick you up, alright?” she says, and feels the girl nod against her neck. She does it as carefully as she can, bringing the girl into a rescue hold. There’s a sharp yelp of pain, but then they’re settled, and they make it out the door.
The girl won’t release her stranglehold even when they get to the medbay, and the medic is finally forced to give up, setting her leg and wrapping it while she sits in Yaz’s lap. The anaesthetic calms her, and finally they’re able to get a name - Analie.
“She’s not in the base roster at all,” the medic says, scrolling down the file. “Most likely her parents are visiting through shady channels, didn’t register with customs when they came in.”
Yaz doesn’t know what kind of illegal space station business people are getting up to in the 43rd century, but she can’t imagine that any parent would fail to report their child missing after an explosion. But the medic doesn’t sound surprised, and Yaz thinks she’s missing key information for this particular puzzle. She knows who could help her find it.
“Have you seen the Doctor?” she asks as the child begins playing with her hair, tying it into curious knots. The medic’s face lights up with recognition.
“Oh, you must be Yaz!”
“That’s me,” Yaz agrees, wondering what the Doctor has been saying about her.
“She’s wonderful, your Doctor,” he says fervently, which is something they can definitely agree on. But then he watches Yaz wrinkle her nose as the little girl yanks too hard on her hair and he adds, “no wonder she likes you so much - you two are cut from the same cloth, eh?” and Yaz can’t agree with that at all.
An arm goes around her shoulder from behind and she hears the Doctor’s voice, “that’s us, two peas in a pod!” She sounds extremely pleased with herself, probably for recognizing the colloquialism and having a matching one, and it’s like all of the tension leaves Yaz’s body at once, like she’d had a thread inside her getting wrapped tighter and tighter for every moment they were separated and now somebody’s cut it loose.
“Birds of a feather,” the Doctor adds, and Yaz grins and rests her head against the Doctor’s shoulder, content to wait it out until she’s exhausted her knowledge of human idioms. Instead her voice trails off, and a moment later Yaz feels a hand in her hair, the tentative stroke of gentle fingers tracing behind her ear.
“Yaz, do you know that you have knots in your hair?” the Doctor asks. “Also, you seem to be holding a child.”
“And a sandwich,” Yaz says calmly. “Have you eaten?”
“I knew I’d like having a couch,” the Doctor says, bouncing experimentally on a cushion. “I wanted purple but this is alright too. Yaz, what did you say this pattern was called?”
“Yaz says it’s called paisley, I like paisley,” the Doctor announces and then flops sideways, rolling her legs around onto the couch so that she's lying on it fully
“It is good,” Ryan agrees, but his eyes aren’t on the couch. He’d only mentioned in passing at breakfast that he wished the TARDIS had a game room, and by lunchtime it had grown one, complete with atrocious paisley couch and xbox. Ryan’s rifling through the game selection, and Yaz doesn’t know whose love affair is sillier, the Doctor and the couch or Ryan and Call of Duty.
“You clever thing,” the Doctor practically sings, gesturing out toward the TARDIS with a loving hand, and Yaz decides she wins for being in love with two inanimate objects at once.
Not that the TARDIS can really be described as inanimate.
“Budge over,” she says, and pushed at the Doctor’s feet until there’s room for her to sit down. The Doctor rolls off the couch onto the ground with a thump and leaps back up, turning herself around so that she can sprawl with her head on Yaz’s lap. Yaz smiles and runs fingers through her hair, scratching gently at her scalp. She lets out a blissful sigh, closing her eyes, and Yaz can’t help but trace a gentle thumb over her eyelids, down her cheek.
When she looks up, Graham is watching them, and Yaz can’t control the heat that floods her cheeks. She feels as though she’s been caught in a private moment, but it isn’t one. It’s just her and the Doctor, and somehow this is where they’ve ended up lately. Touching.
The moment feels tense, and then it’s interrupted by a chiming sound, and the Doctor shoots off the couch and back onto her feet. “Oooh, nothing to panic about, but, well, maybe a little panic, should probably just - be back in a jiffy.”
“Do you need a hand, Doc?” Graham asks, and the Doctor beams at him.
“Hand, yes, two if you’re not using them for anything else!” and she practically drags him out the door. Yaz watches them go, debates following for a minute, but - she’s fairly sure it’s not actually an emergency, and she’s a bit glad for the escape from Graham’s knowing stare.
Instead she watches as Ryan starts up the xbox, settling on the couch next to her with a controller.
“The Doctor’s not going to like this game if she sees you playing it,” Yaz points out. “Lots of guns.” She can’t believe the TARDIS even made it for him, but if Yaz is the Doctor’s favorite, Ryan is the TARDIS’ favorite. It’s forever bending itself a little to make him happy.
“I’m not advocating for real violence,” Ryan protests. “It’s a game of skill!” Yaz justs laughs at him.
“Can I ask you something?” he starts a moment later, his eyes still focused on the television, and Yaz looks at him askance. They’ve fallen into a sibling dynamic over the past months, at least from her perspective, and she has a moment of dread that he’s about to ask her out and make everything awkward.
“You can always ask, but I don’t promise an answer if I don’t like the question,” she says, and tries to sound teasing instead of apprehensive.
“It’s just - lately Graham and I can’t help noticing that you and the Doc have gotten quite close,” Ryan says. “Cuddling on couches and all. And I don’t mean to pry or anything, but I can’t help but wonder if the two of you are… you know.”
“I… don’t think the Doctor does romance,” Yaz answers slowly, trying to work out her response. “At least not the way humans do. I understand why you’re asking, because if she was human and putting her head in my lap like that, I’d wonder too. But she doesn’t mean it that way.”
“I think you’re probably right,” Ryan says, and Yaz shouldn’t feel sad to hear that, she shouldn’t , because she already knows she’s right and it doesn’t change anything for Ryan to confirm it. But then he turns to look at her and adds, “but you mean it that way, don’t you?”
“Oh, don’t,” she says immediately. “I mean - don’t interpret it that way. I can’t mean it that way, when I know the Doctor wouldn’t want me to, because relationships aren’t made up of just what one person does, they’re made of both of us. I love the Doctor, and I love you and Graham, and the adventures we’re having. This is the best thing that’s ever happened in my life, and I don’t want to be sad about what it isn’t. I want to stay happy about what it is.”
“Yeah…. yeah, I get that,” Ryan says. “I’m sorry I brought it up. Do you want to play something two-player? There’s loads of games, have a look.”
“Nah, I’ve never really been a gamer, I’ll just watch you,” Yaz tells him. She lets her head fall against his shoulder, and he reaches around her, squeezing her shoulders for a moment, comforting. Privately, in her own head, Yaz acknowledges that she is sad a little, and obviously she’s not fooling Ryan or Graham in the slightest.
But she’s not lying about her happiness either. They don’t cancel each other out, the good and the bad. All of it together stacks up into a life that lately feels a little magnificent.
this was meant to be only the first half of Chapter 2, but I wasn't done with the rest, and I decided I wanted this part up before episode 6 airs in case it gets Jossed. So - now there's going to be a chapter 3 ooooops!
“How long have we been traveling with the Doctor altogether, do you reckon?” Ryan asks, from his spot on the paisley couch.
“About four months,” Yaz says. She doesn’t have to stop and calculate - she’s been keeping time as best she can, although there are spots where she knows she lost track and had to make a best guess. Whenever they spend a few days on a planet with an alien timeframe, or worse, when they spend awhile in the TARDIS with no timeframe at all, it gets tricky. But she doesn’t think she can be that far off.
“We’ve missed Christmas,” Graham points out, his brows knitting. “I mean - in linear time, anyways. If we’d spent four months going forward from the moment we left, it would be over.”
Yaz hadn’t thought of that. Her family doesn't really celebrate Christmas, so there's no reason for it to bother her, but it does - there’s a pang at the thought of her family's lives carrying on without her, of all the moments of celebration or irritation or normalcy she's missed. Has she missed them? It feels wrong to think of going back to the moment she left, as if she could shed all the things she's learned and all the ways she's grown in her four months with the Doctor. It feels too easy.
Ryan looks stricken as well, and Yaz sees his hand instinctively go to his pocket, where he thinks they don’t know he carries around a letter from his dad.
“Hello, what are we talking about?” The Doctor comes in sounding extremely pleased with herself, and Yaz can tell that whatever mysterious repair she’d been working on has gone well. She’s constantly tinkering with the TARDIS lately, and rarely able to explain any of it. Yaz isn’t sure what goes into sentient time machine maintenance, but she thinks it might have less to do with mechanics and more to do with the Doctor and the TARDIS getting intimately reacquainted with each other. Whatever’s happening, their steering seems to have gotten more accurate.
“Christmas,” Graham tells the Doctor, scooting over a little to make room for her in the middle of the couch. She ignores him, flopping on the ground next to Yaz’s chair and leaning against her knees.
“Brilliant! I love Christmas. We can go to any Christmas you like.”
“We were thinking Christmas 2018, actually - Christmas at home,” Ryan says, and Yaz feels the Doctor stiffen a little against her before she leans forward, untangling herself from Yaz’s personal space.
“Oh, heading home? Alright, lovely! Lovely!”
“Just for a visit,” Ryan assures her, and Yaz can see Graham nodding along. “But it’s been a few months, and I’ve been thinking a lot, since that hospital ship… I’ve just got some things I’d like to say to my dad, and the holidays seem like as good an excuse as any.”
“Oh! Right, yes, short visit home - for Christmas!! We can do that? Are we doing it now? Dropping you off?” The Doctor’s voice has gone an oddly brittle kind of chipper, familiar and completely unconvincing. The first time Yaz heard it, she’d categorized it as, “the Doctor is a terrible liar” but the longer they all spend together, the more certain Yaz is that that can’t be true.
The Doctor's an amazing liar when she’s got something she actually wants to hide. But the fact that she loves all three of them and that she hates to be alone - those aren’t secrets the Doctor wants to keep, and she never manages to try very hard.
“Home for a Christmas visit sounds lovely. Doctor, you’ll come to mine, won’t you?” Yaz asks in a nonchalant tone as unconvincing as the Doctor’s, because she’s a sucker. "Do you know the old joke about what Muslims do on Christmas? We order Chinese food."
She’s immediately rewarded by the Doctor leaning back against her legs and throwing her head backwards to smile up at her. “Ooh, a visit to Najia! Count me in, I love Yaz’s mum. Muslim Christmas at Yaz's!”
“How’d we do?” Yaz asks. The Doctor’s whole body radiates triumph as she spins in a celebratory little circle, and Yaz knows the answer before she hears it.
“Welcome to 9am on the morning of December 24th, 2018.”
“You really might be getting better at driving,” Graham teases, and Yaz tunes out the banter to take a moment to be nervous. It had been mid-October when she left to go get bread, and now it’s six weeks later. She thinks her family knows where she’s gone, at least vaguely. Not the details, but she remembers Najia’s knowing questions on her way out the door, and she thinks her mum at least won’t have been entirely surprised when Yaz didn’t come back.
She hopes. It’s going to be awkward if she turns up home for dinner and a police report’s been filed.
She asked Graham and Ryan to dinner as well, but they’re doing something else. Visiting Ryan’s Dad for Christmas together, but probably also grieving. Yaz hopes they’re doing it together, instead of running off to find their own private spaces for it. She thinks they’ve grown that much, over the past few months.
Despite worrying for her friends, and despite being nervous to see her family, it feels good to step out of the TARDIS into familiar air.
It’s a grim kind of morning in Sheffield. There’s half-melted gray slush along the ground as though the weather has been doing something in between snow and rain, and the gray clouds in the sky are threatening to do it again. All the same, the bite of cold air is Sheffield air. They’re parked a bit further from home than before, and after turning herself around a few times, Yaz realizes that they’re across the block from City Hall.
“Cell phone service at last,” Ryan says, holding his out dramatically as he steps around her. The phone vibrates dramatically and in her coat pocket, Yaz feels hers do the same, syncing with the cell signal and downloading six weeks worth of messages. It’s a lot of buzzing. She pulls it out and winces as she sees seven missed calls from her job, and about twenty from various family members. There are thirteen texts from Sonya alone.
Her mum has only sent her one. Yaz opens it first. It says, “I can’t guess where you are, but I can guess who you’re with. Stay in touch if you can.”
They see Graham and Ryan off, and then the Doctor rubs her hands together gleefully. “Well! Off to Yaz’s for Christmas?”
“Doctor, do we have to go see them tonight?" Yaz asks. "I mean - couldn't we go backwards a bit? See them the day after we left?"
The Doctor's face twists up in a regretful grimace, and with a sinking heart, Yaz listens for the answer she already knows is coming. "'Fraid not, really. I mean - time's malleable up to a point, but some moments are load-bearing. They're not meant to be changed. There's a reason the TARDIS came back so easily to now, and had such a hard time going back to October before. This is when you're meant to come back, Yaz. Any earlier is changing a past that's already become set."
"It's for the best, I suppose," Yaz says, trying to be chipper. "There'd be something maddening about just pretending I hadn't been anywhere. But ... do you think we could make a few stops first?” She hopes her nerves aren’t coming through in her voice. “I feel like if I’m popping in on Christmas with unexpected guests, we should at least bring presents.”
The Doctor's brow crinkles up in confusion, and it would be ridiculous for Yaz's heart to skip a beat. There's nothing charming about the way the Doctor's face is so expressive, bending into a thousand different shapes for every thought that crosses her crazy alien brain. "I thought you didn't celebrate Christmas," she says.
"Well, we don't really - but we do exchange gifts," Yaz explains. "It's a compromise from when Sonya and I were kids. We used to writhe in jealousy as all our schoolmates got presents, we were half ready to convert just so we could put out stockings. Nan put her foot down on a tree, but we do presents now."
The Doctor looks delighted. "Excellent! I love giving presents! Let's go shopping for presents! Oh," her face falls. "I haven't got any Earth money, though, have you?"
"I've got you covered," Yaz promises solemnly.
They get to Harrods by 10am and its already mobbed with last-minute shoppers. The floor is slippery and disgusting from thousands of people tracking in slush on their boots, and after they nearly get separated about four times when the Doctor stops to goggle at something, Yaz grabs her hand and firmly interlocks their fingers.
“Let’s just try to be in and out, shall we?” she suggests, and drags the Doctor over to look at men’s ties, giving her a firm tug when she seems to get mesmerized by a stack of overpriced kitschy snow globes.
It feels impersonal to be buying gifts in a department store the day before Christmas. Yaz ends up settling on a fancy set of cooking utensils for her dad, an overpriced sweater for her sister. She hopes their tastes haven’t changed too much while she’s been gone. From their perspective, it’s only been six weeks. Surely Dad still fancies himself as a future contestant on the Great British Bake Off, and Sonya still dresses like she’s going clubbing at noon.
It’s depressing though. She pulls her wallet out while they wait in the preposterously long check-out line, considers the fact that there’s no way she’s ever going to be able to get her job back after leaving it so abruptly. She’s been off having such incredible adventures - in the past week alone, she’s ridden on the back of an enormous flying fish and eaten cotton candy that grew off trees - but even with a time machine, the world hasn’t waited for her to come back and rejoin it. She and Sheffield have peeled off into opposite directions and left each other behind.
“Hey there.” The Doctor squeezes her hand, using it to pull Yaz close to her. “Yasmin Khan, where have you wandered off to, eh? That’s not a Christmas look on your face.”
The look on the Doctor’s face is one of real concern, and Yaz leans against her, dropping her head onto the Doctor’s shoulder and swinging their joined hands between them. She’s warm and solid and a little ridiculous, and Yaz remembers what she’d said when she left, those months ago.
She feels better.
“Nothing, really,” she assures the Doctor. “I still need to think of a gift to get my mum, do you have any good ideas?”
“Oh, hmmm…” the Doctor eyes the piles of holiday gifts that surround the checkout line. “Do you think she’d go for that basket of smoked cheese?”
They’re still holding hands when they exit Harrods, and they walk along for a bit before inevitably, something catches the Doctor’s eye
“Yaz! What’s that? Why’re all those tents over there?”
Yaz grins. “It’s a pop-up Holiday Market - shall we check it out? It’s bound to be full of the kind of crafty things my mum likes.” The Doctor is already pulling her toward it before Yaz has finished her sentence.
The Market’s also packed. The arranged aisles of stalls and the diverse crowd of people remind Yaz of the marketplace planet they’d visited a few months ago. What had it been called? Something that started with a K. The Doctor had bought Yaz a hot drink. In fact - Yaz grins, and deliberately mirrors the Doctor’s phrasing as she drops her hand and darts left. “Hang on a tick!”
She’s not as good at skipping a line as the Doctor, but it’s not too long before she’s able to pay and collect two styrofoam cups of rich, thick hot chocolate. Of course, unlike her human companions, the Doctor doesn’t hold still when told. Yaz finds her six stalls down, looking extremely pleased about something.
“Yaz, look!” she holds up a magnet with the phrase, ‘you don’t have to be crazy to work here. We’ll train you!’ “Aren’t these hilarious? This woman’s got loads of them.” She turns back toward the bemused worker behind the stall. “You’re very clever,” she tells her earnestly.
“Uh…. thanks, Merry Christmas,” the woman says, and Yaz rolls her eyes and shoves one of the hot chocolates into the Doctor’s hand.
She goes hot all over when the Doctor reaches out and laces their spare hands together again. She knows the Doctor doesn’t mean anything by it, and she knows that she initiated it in a moment of exasperation in Harrods, so it would be utterly foolish to read into it now.
“I love hot chocolate,” the Doctor says happily, and bumps her shoulder affectionately against Yaz’s as they continue down the line of stalls.
They make an afternoon of it, exploring the shops and stalls and picking out perfect little gifts. It’s almost evening by the time they’ve worn out the enjoyment of wandering through Sheffield together. Yaz tries to think of absolutely anywhere else she could reasonably take the Doctor.
“Do you want to stop somewhere for a sandwich? I’m starving,” she says, and then her arm is almost jerked out of its socket as the Doctor stops in the middle of the sidewalk. Yaz turns to look at her startled, and the Doctor puts a hand on either side of her face.
“Yasmin Khan, I am a very ancient and wise alien, and I recognize stalling when I see it. Why aren’t we heading back to your flat?”
“I’m not stalling, I’m just….” Yaz blinks and tries to look away from the Doctor’s intense gaze. The hands on her cheeks are surprisingly effective deterrents. “Alright, I am stalling a bit. I’m just… I did leave a bit abruptly, you know. I told them I was going to buy bread and then didn't come back for six weeks. What if they’re furious with me?”
It’s not just that, either. It’s hard to explain though. Hard to explain about stammeringly coming out to her parents when she was seventeen and knowing that their acceptance had its limits. It’s this tiny tight fear that has resided permanently inside her since, something related to the way that her mum had asked if she was seeing the Doctor, and then an hour later asked hopefully if she was seeing Ryan instead. Something related to the constant frustration with the way her dad calls her a police woman instead of a police officer. Something built out of the knowledge that she has disappointed them a little, and that they’ll never ever say so. An embarrassment and frustration and fear and anger that is simultaneously bigger and smaller than it really deserves to be.
“They might be mad at you,” the Doctor agrees gently. “I don’t think stopping for a sandwich will change it either way. Best way forward is directly through, don’t you think?” Her voice is laden with compassion, and she hasn’t looked away from Yaz’s face for a moment. Despite herself, Yaz smiles a little.
“You’re right as always, Doctor,” she admits. “I’m glad I’ll have you with me, though.”
“Until the end of time, if you like,” the Doctor promises grandly, and then she grins, and points to a shop across the street that still has its lights on. “Come on - one last pit stop.”
She leads Yaz across the street and up to the counter of the small bakery, where the cashier looks like he’s in the process of closing up.
“One bread, please!”
Nobody has filed a police report. The story about the spiders never made it to any official newspaper, but it filtered around nonetheless. Najia and Hakim both seem tentatively willing to believe the stories Yaz tells them about where she’s been - about the TARDIS, and the planet with the candyfloss-flavored air, and the giant flying fish. Yaz leaves out the grimmer parts, kicking the Doctor in the shin when she starts to talk about sonic mines or sniper-bots.
That leaves Sonya as the only skeptic, and there’s a particular edge to the looks she keeps shooting in Yaz’s direction that makes Yaz certain that Sonya thinks this elaborate science fiction roleplay is in service to something extremely kinky.
They keep talking until late into the night, and it’s easier than Yaz had thought it might be, but still, there’s tension. She’s grateful when Hakim starts to clear away all their empty plates and Najia says pointedly, “you don’t mind sleeping on the couch, do you, Doctor? I’m afraid we haven’t got a guest room.”
“I love couches,” the Doctor says fervently, because she does. “Thanks very much for the hospitality, Najia.”
Najia looks taken aback by this easy capitulation.
“Mum’s itching for a fight, you know,” Sonya says quietly as she and Yaz wash the dishes together while Najia gets out sheets for the couch. “She’s trying to be cool, but she’s been a mix of panicked and furious the whole time you were gone. She knew you were with that woman.”
“Yeah - I can see she’s madder than she’s letting on,” Yaz admits, and Sonya elbows her - hard.
“Don’t act like she’s wrong to be mad. I mean, Jesus, Yaz - you just took off. Not one word of communication for six weeks, not even to tell us you were alive? And don’t give me that shit about how your cell phone doesn’t work from the police box spaceship, because I’m not a conspiracy nut like Dad and I’m not falling for it.”
There’s not much Yaz can say to that. She doesn’t know how to convince Sonya, short of loading her into the TARDIS and taking off. She’s not even sure she wants to - she loves her family, but she’s not sure she wants to invite them into any part of this adventure with her.
“I’m sorry I frightened all of you,” she finally says, because regardless of anything else, she is.
“I wasn’t scared, you nutter. Mum said you’d wandered off with some hot blonde, we didn’t think you’d been kidnapped, we just think you’re an idiot. I mean, you’ve lost your job! Mum called them after a week and told them you’d had to move cities suddenly, she didn’t want them to think you were missing. Don’t you care about that at all?”
“I - I don’t know,” Yaz admits. “I haven’t decided if I do.”
“Idiot,” Sonya repeats, but there’s less anger in it the second time, and they finish drying off the dishes.
Yaz waits until the lights are out, her parents in bed, and then goes to sit out in the stoop with her winter coat pulled comically over her pajamas. It’s freezing out, and she won’t stay out long, but the cold air and the silence of the stars help her find her calm. She takes deep breaths of it, and reminds herself that she’s only here for a visit - that all these problems are going to melt away in a few days when she goes somewhere else.
She’s not surprised when the door opens and closes a few minutes later, and the Doctor sits down next to her, bringing warmth where she presses up against Yaz’s side.
“Lovely night out. I love how stars look from a planet. It's different than seeing them from space.”
“It is beautiful,” Yaz agrees. “How’s the couch?”
“I love couches,” the Doctor says again. “Najia seemed odd about it though. When she was putting the sheet on, she told me very sternly that she expected me to sleep there while I was under her roof. I don’t really sleep, you know, not every night - I can probably fake it if it’ll make her happy, I don’t want to be a bad guest.”
Yaz laughs a little. “She meant she didn’t want you sneaking into my bed,” she explains, wondering how embarrassed she needs to be. There’s a lot to that sentence that she doesn’t think the Doctor will be able to parse without further explanation. Sure enough, when she turns to see, the Doctor’s face is scrunched up with puzzlement.
“She thinks we’re dating,” Yaz elaborates. “She doesn’t want us having sex.”
“Oh!” The Doctor looks briefly enlightened, and then confused again. Yaz falls silent, content to let her work it out on her own for awhile. The cold is starting to get to her, and she can’t help shivering, watching her breath form a white cloud in front of her nose. She’ll have to go in soon, but she’s not quite ready. A moment later the Doctor’s arm goes around her shoulder, and Yaz takes the permission to lean into her warmth.
“Najia already asked you if we were dating and you told her no,” the Doctor says. She sounds uncertain. “We aren’t, are we? We held hands earlier, and that’s human dating behavior.”
“We held hands because I couldn’t trust you around snow globes,” Yaz reminds her a little sharply. She’s feeling slightly emotionally fragile in the aftermath of dinner, and she’s not ready for the Doctor to push on this.
“We’re touching now though. This one’s because you’re cold, and I don’t want you to be cold,” the Doctor muses. “I touch you all the time. I think I’m a much more touchy-feely person in this body than in my last one, you know. But I don’t touch Ryan or Graham nearly as much. I like touching you.”
“I like that we touch all the time too,” Yaz admits, resigning herself to this conversation. “I don’t think my mum gets to decide for us what we mean by it, though. I mean - you don’t mean… you don’t want to date me, do you?” she tries to sound as though she’s only highlighting something obvious by saying it out loud, but her voice cracks a little. “You don’t date humans.”
“I fell in love with a human once,” the Doctor says softly, and it’s like the universe does an entire backflip and lands shakily, everything in Yaz’s perspective jarred at once. “Lifetimes ago. Her name was Rose.”
Her gaze is distant as she says it, lined with grief, and Yaz shifts to take the Doctor’s hand into her own, to offer what comfort she can. “What happened?” she asks, although she can guess the gist.
“The same thing that always happens, in the end,” the Doctor answers. She turns to look at Yaz, reaches out with her other hand and pushes a lock of Yaz’s hair behind her ear in a tender gesture. “Do you know what it means, to be thousands of years old and to love somebody? It means I’m already mourning you. All of you - you, and Ryan, and Graham. Every other being in the universe - you’re all brilliant and important, and your lives last for an instant and for an eternity. After all these years, and all these lives - I don’t know how to slow down anymore. I don’t know how to wait until you’re gone to start grieving.”
The Doctor has called Yaz brilliant a thousand times in the past few months, and for the first time, Yaz hears how she means it. Brilliant like a ball of light - something that shines, and then goes out.
“Why do it, then?” she asks, finally. “Why love us at all?”
Improbably, the Doctor smiles. “Because it’s worth it,” she says. “Because loving you is so incredibly worth it.” Abruptly she stands, pulling Yaz up with her. “It’s freezing out here, isn’t it? Why don’t we go inside and get to bed - non-Christmas presents in the morning, you know!”
“Yeah, alright,” Yaz says, accepting the change in topic. It’s the Doctor’s grief, and Yaz can respect it if she’s done sharing for the night. She’s glad to have some time to digest anyways - there’s a lot to think about. They reenter the living room, and impulsively, she leans forward and kisses the Doctor on the cheek before she goes to bed.
“Merry Christmas, Doctor.”
The Doctor’s eyes gleam out at her in the dark. “Merry Christmas, Yaz,” she replies, and the warmth in her voice doesn’t sound anything like grief.
“Where are we going next? Ryan’s turn to decide, he earned loads of gold stars last mission, nice one Ryan! You have 30 seconds or I'm flipping a coin!”
“Ok, ok, uhh - dragons!”
There's a beat in which Graham and Yaz stare at him with identical expressions of incredulity.
“What? She rushed me,” Ryan defends himself.
“I guess we could do dragons,” the Doctor allows. “Or something close, at least. Have you ever been to Xavia 8? There’s methane dragons, gorgeous, every color of the rainbow and then some. We can’t get close, if you get within 200 feet of them your eyeballs will explode, but they won’t be hard to see from a distance, they’re about the size of a mountain…”
“Alright, that does actually sound like something to see,” Yaz admits. If she thinks, she can remember a time before the Doctor when she’d pretended that she didn’t want to go rushing into danger just to see if it was interesting, but well - it had always been a lie. She’s always been like this.
“No methane dragons,” Graham says firmly, and shoots her a look that probably translates to ‘you’re supposed to be the other sensible person on this team, Yaz, don’t switch sides on me now.’ She loves Graham, but she will absolutely ditch him for giant dragons.
“I just jumped to it because I was thinking, you know, knights and dragons. Medieval times, I guess,” Ryan explains. “That was always my favorite in school - Yaz and I used to act it out on the school playground, actually.”
“Aw, sweet - knight and princess?” Graham asks, and Yaz and Ryan simultaneously snort.
“Knight versus dragon - we traded off,” Ryan explains, a little reproachfully, like now that they’re getting on better he wants Graham to be more with it.
They had traded off, except that the knight had a sword and the dragon had fire-breath, which was entirely imaginary, so - “we took turns beating each other with a stick,” Yaz clarifies. Ryan looks wounded.
“There was more to it than that!”
“Yeah, alright, we had fun,” Yaz concedes. “Somehow I think the Doctor can outdo it, though. What do you think, Doctor - Medieval times? Can we visit the real King Arthur’s court or is it all just legend?”
“Ehhh,” the Doctor wiggles her hands. “Sort of takes pinches from each, to be honest. I’d rather avoid the round table - Arthur and I had a bit of a row, you could say we don’t get on.”
“You’re making that up!” Graham exclaims, and Yaz agrees with him entirely, but the Doctor is so cute when she’s name-dropping that Yaz would’ve let her get away with it. She might need to sit herself down one day soon and take serious stock of what she finds attractive in women.
“He won’t recognize you anyways,” Ryan points out, and the Doctor splutters.
“That’s not the point, it’s the principle of the thing!”
Yaz sits back and watches them sort it out. In some ways the comfortable bickering is starting to feel like family… though the tension she sometimes feels stretching between her and the Doctor these days is definitely nothing in the realm of siblinghood.
It’s an interesting kind of tension, different from any romance Yaz has had in the past because it doesn’t necessarily feel like it’s going anywhere - doesn’t even feel like there’s a destination on the map, sometimes. It’s just a quality between them, a way that they feel about each other, and it doesn’t need to be discussed or acted upon or acknowledged. It’s just there, a piece of the way they are, and after their conversation on Yaz’s stoop, she’s tentatively convinced that whatever it is, it’s mutual.
“Fine - Medieval England, here we come!” the Doctor announces, and does something with the levers. “We’re doing a jousting tournament, can’t go looking like that, go find outfits! Chop chop!”
Yaz nudges her gently with an elbow as she passes by. “Dragons next time, right?” she says, and the look she gets is so warm that Yaz feels like she’s won something by putting it onto the Doctor’s face.
“Dragon-watching, it’s a date, you’ll love it,” she promises, and Yaz is so dizzied by the Doctor’s noun-choice that she falls down the steps. Ryan is snickering when she catches up to him, and Yaz hopes that real Medieval England still gives her the chance to hit him with a stick.
They start returning to 2019 more often between adventures. Yaz can’t speak for the others, she knows that Graham and Ryan aren’t going home to a family the same way she is, but she’s grateful for the equilibrium that’s started to develop. When they first decided to travel in the TARDIS, she’d assumed that the next time she saw her family would mark the end of her adventures with the Doctor. Christmas has set a different pattern - she can visit her family and then come back.
Sometimes the Doctor waits for them, or accompanies them for a visit. Other times she runs off on errands of her own and comes back a few days later, or at least a few days from Yaz’s perspective. Who knows how long it is in the TARDIS’ own timeline? Hopefully not too long - one thing that’s always been abundantly clear is that the Doctor doesn’t like to be alone.
She’s waiting when Yaz comes back from seeing her nani. The TARDIS is exactly where Yaz had left it, a street corner down the block from her family’s flat, and the door unlatches with a quiet click as she approaches, not waiting for her to knock.
When she walks into the console room, the Doctor is just looking at her, concern written across her face, and Yaz doesn’t pause, just walks across the room and into an embrace, feeling the doctor’s long arms come up to wrap around her back.
“Did you talk about it?” the Doctor asks after a moment, and Yaz keeps her face buried against the Doctor’s shoulder, enjoying their height difference and the safety of being so thoroughly wrapped in someone’s arms. She’s not sad, exactly. Or she is sad, because she saw a good man die, and saw Umbreen’s heart broken. But she isn’t in that timeline, living it at its own pace. She’s outside of it. She’s seen the tragedy, the grief, and the healing, all at once and out of order. For the first time, she thinks she has a glimpse of what it might be like to be the Doctor.
“No,” she says, muffled against the Doctor’s coat. “She offered, but I didn’t need to hear it - didn’t need to make her relive it. She should tell me because she wants to, not because I want her to.”
“Hmmm.” The Doctor doesn’t reply verbally, just rocks left and right a little on her feet, pulling Yaz with her. It’s so sweet, and so silly, and Yaz has to smile.
“Do you know what I realized as I was walking back?” she says, pulling back so she can speak properly.
“Well, I was talking to Nani about Sheffield. She said that she’s happy here - it’s been a stable home for her, a place that gave her my mum, and her family. It’s given her the things she needed. And I realized that going to talk to visit her - well, that was a visit. And afterwards, coming here to the TARDIS - this is the place that’s given me what I need. It’s given me a wider universe, a chance to make a difference. Given me you.”
She’s expecting the Doctor to flinch, or demur, or give a warning, the way that she always does. She doesn’t think of herself as safe, Yaz has realized - not to travel with and not to love.
Instead, she gets a smile, and the Doctor leans forward across the scant distance between them to drop a warm kiss on her forehead.
The moment holds, just for a second, as they look into each other’s eyes, and Yaz thinks about leaning forward to connect their lips, but - it’s not where they are. It’s not where the Doctor is. She gives Yaz what she needs, and Yaz wants to give her the same in return.
“Are Ryan and Graham back yet?” she asks instead, pulling back.
“They went to get curry,” the Doctor says, and Yaz hides a smile at the wistful tone. The Doctor loves curry.
“You could’ve gone with them,” she points out, a little teasing.
“I didn’t know when you’d be back,” the Doctor explains. Her tone is sensible, like she’s saying something that should be obvious, and maybe she is. Yaz is starting to get it.
The methane dragons are awesome.
They visit the near future, a tourist trap on the moon in the early 22nd century, built the moment local space travel was declared safe for the general population.
Humanity hasn’t changed a whole lot in the past 100 years, Yaz thinks, as she looks around the grubby foodcourt. There’s a fancier observation deck on the upper floor, with clear views and a sit-down restaurant. The Doctor had offered to wave her psychic paper and let them into it, but she’s been outvoted. Team TARDIS wants to slum it for an afternoon.
Being surrounded by things that are half a step removed from familiar is interesting in a different way than the completely alien. There’s something inexplicably hilarious about seeing the McDonalds menu 100 years into the future.
“Look, they’ve got four different flavors of deep-fried salad,” Ryan says in her ear, and Yaz examines the portion of the menu he’s indicated. Sure enough, it comes in original, barbecue, garlic, and crispy bacon ranch. The glistening hyperreal picture that accompanies it is presumably the barbecue flavor, and looks more alien than anything Yaz has eaten on any distant world.
“Look, if you’re not ready to order, get out of line,” says an annoyed voice from behind them, and Yaz finally loses her battle with laughter when she turns to see a middle-aged woman with a pinched expression and a lavender mohawk.
“Sorry, yeah, go ahead,” she manages to choke out, waving the woman around them. She glares suspiciously at them but moves ahead.
“Cosplayers here for some kind of convention,” Yaz hears her mutter to herself. Apparently wearing their regular clothes into the 22nd century had been a mistake.
“That’s what soccer moms evolve into, isn’t it,” Ryan whispers, and it’s not even funny but Yaz laughs so hard she feels tears pricking at her eyes.
They buy greasy bags of fried avocado slices, apparently a McDonalds staple now, and shove their way down the corridor into the lower viewing room, with its enormous wall of windows facing Earth.
It’s not empty, but it’s not crowded either. Groups of people linger on the benches with their food, enjoying the view and chatting. The Doctor and Graham have already snagged a bench near the corner, and Yaz and Ryan join them, cramming onto a space that’s really only meant for three people. Yaz and the Doctor overlap comfortably, the way they do by habit now, and Yaz holds out her bag of fries invitingly.
“I don’t really like fried things,” the Doctor says, taking one and eating it with evident relish. Yaz leaves the bag in easy reach for both of them.
“It’s beautiful,” she comments, looking out at Earth. It’s not the full planet that Yaz has seen so often in photos. Shadows envelop Earth's lower half, leaving them with a crescent in view. An earth-moon. There’s far too much cloud coverage to make out any continents, but it really is lovely all the same.
“It is nice,” Graham says. “You know what I can’t help noticing though? It’s been a hundred years, and I could swear that the carpet pattern in here is the same as the one at the Doncaster-Sheffield airport.”
Now that he mentions it, Yaz thinks he’s right.
They exchange idle chatter for awhile, sharing terrible food back and forth. It’s relaxed the way that their adventures usually are in the beginning, and the way that they rarely manage to stay. Trouble follows the Doctor as faithfully as the rest of them do.
“I’m going to find the little girl’s room,” Yaz says after awhile, and she thinks she’s developing a sixth sense, because she knows as she says it that she’s going to run into something bizarre. It never goes well when they split up. Not even for the restroom.
She winds her way down the hallway, following the signs, and her eyes are caught by a flash of - light? There’s an odd quality to it, flickering out of a room that is marked in about eighteen different languages as ‘Roosevelt Hall - Conference Room D.’
Yaz pokes her head in, and sees a boy. After a split second, she realizes 2 things.
1 - the light seems to be emanating from him
2 - he’s transparent
There are ghosts on the moon. The Doctor is going to love this one. She backs out, ready to go back for her friends, and then she looks closer and realizes that the boy’s face is screwed up into an expression of agony. He can’t be older than six or seven. As she looks, his mouth opens in a silent wail, and she can’t just leave.
“Hey,” she says, stepping into the room. “Are you alright? Are you lost?”
The boy looks up. It’s a small room, with windows pointing toward the same crescent of Earth they’d been staring at down the hall, and a large conference table taking up 90% of the space. There’s an empty pot of coffee and a serving plate with a couple cookies, the abandoned remnants of a recent meeting. It’s entirely mundane, aside from the futuristic view of space and the ghost.
Half a step away from familiar.
The boy crosses the space between them, moving through the table as though it isn’t even there, and explodes into Yaz’s mind.
When she opens her eyes again, she’s back on the TARDIS. She recognizes it immediately from the ceiling, and then a moment later realizes that the reason she’s seeing the ceiling is because she’s lying on her back.
She tries to sit up. Is it always this hard to sit up? Hard to say. Everything’s feeling a little fuzzy, memories included.
“Hey, hey, steady there,” comes Graham’s voice, and then there are hands helping her up, and she looks into his worried face.
‘What happened,’ she tries to ask, but all that comes out of her throat is a hoarse croak. Graham pours her a small cup of water and Yaz takes it gratefully, then promptly drops it when the weight of it proves too much for her unsteady arms.
“Whoops,” he says, catching it before it can spill and helping her bring it to her lips. “Not to worry, you’ll be fine. You’re on the TARDIS, in the med room. You’ve been out for a couple days, missed out on an adventure but you’re going to be completely alright in no time.
“There was a boy,” Yaz remembers, and this time her voice makes it out of her throat, croaky and dusty sounding. Graham winces.
“Yeah, we met him. He, uh… possessed you for a bit. Only something more scientific and having to do with data transference? The Doctor took care of it.”
“Possessed me,” Yaz repeats, and has a flash of - not a memory , exactly, because it isn’t hers , doesn’t belong in her head at all. But then it’s gone. “I don’t remember.”
“Yeah, the Doctor said you wouldn’t. She removed the data - said there wasn’t room for two people inside your head,” Graham explains. “You had us all pretty worried for a bit there. Ryan just forced the Doctor out to eat something… probably biscuits, but we’ll call it a win.”
As if he’s called it forward by mentioning her, Yaz hears footsteps echoing down the outer corridor. A moment later the Doctor comes bursting into the room, Ryan not far behind her.
“Yaz!” Her face is haggard and it makes her look more alien, all the peculiarities of her thrown into sharp relief, but Yaz doesn’t have time to analyze, because she keeps getting closer, and then their lips are pressed together and Yaz can’t see much at all.
It’s not a real kiss - it’s too frantic and too motionless, just mouths slammed up against each other and left there for a moment, the Doctor’s hands cupping up to cradle Yaz’s face, and when she pulls back she doesn’t go far, resting their foreheads together.
“You’re not to do that to me again, alright?” she murmurs, and Yaz can’t quite find the words to reassure her, so she moves over and pulls until the Doctor caves and curls up next to her on the bed.
Ryan and Graham are gone from the room - presumably Graham’s doing, since Ryan has not so far demonstrated any sense of tact.
“I don’t feel very well,” Yaz admits, and lets herself be rearranged so that she’s comfortably cradled against the Doctor’s chest, a soothing hand smoothing her hair.
“It’s to be expected, you’ve had a bit of a mental shock,” the Doctor tells her. “Go back to sleep, that’ll help more than anything else.”
They’re in France. 27th century Paris, to be precise, across the block from the Champ de Mars. The Eiffel Tower floats now, which Yaz thinks is a little tacky.
“Stuff got a bit earthquakey for awhile,” the Doctor explains, gesturing with a slightly sticky hand. She’s got a half-eaten paper bag full of beignets, and powdered sugar on her lips. “Well, I say earthquake, I mean underground society coming up to the surface. Either way, clever humans decided to solve the problem by making tall things float! It wasn’t so much an artistic statement as it was practical. That’s all fixed now, but everybody got used to things floating and they haven’t bothered to put it all back.”
Yaz kisses her.
She doesn’t plan it. It just happens. Paris is beautiful, and Ryan and Graham have been making pointed excuses to leave them alone as often as possible for the past three weeks, and the Doctor has powdered sugar on her lips, and Yaz leans in and kisses it away. When she pulls back, she’s not sure which of them is more stunned.
“Yaz, you kissed me,” the Doctor says. She sounds uncertain, like maybe she’s misinterpreted it, like she thinks maybe Yaz was just helping herself to some beignet.
“You did it first,” Yaz says back, and winces a little, because she’d already decided not to mention it unless the Doctor did.
“That’s true,” the Doctor allows. "I did kiss you, because I thought you were going to die and it was the most terrifying thing in the universe, and then you were alright, and I wanted to. So I did. And now you've kissed me. Why?"
"Because I wanted to. So I did," Yaz says. It’s easy to mirror the Doctor’s logic - they’re mirrors of each other in so many ways already.
“Do you think you’re going to want to kiss me often?” the Doctor asks, and manages to sound casual until her voice cracks on the last word.
They've stopped walking, which means that tourists are dodging around them on their way to see the floating Eiffel Tower. Yaz pulls the Doctor over to a bench and takes a minute to think. She wants to do this right. “I want to be happy,” is what she finally says. “And I think I’ve reached a point where that just means that I want to be with you. The details don’t matter so much.”
The details don’t matter so much, but they matter a little. They’re there, detail after detail making up the whole of Yaz’s life. Pretending otherwise is a cop-out.
“But yeah,” she adds. “I do want to kiss you. But only in moments when you want to be kissed.” She hopes she's guessed right, and that the Doctor wants this too. If not, they'll work it out. She trusts what they are together. It may or may not involve kissing, but it's always going to involve being together.
“I think now is a moment when I’d like you to kiss me,” the Doctor says. She says it solemnly, like she isn’t sure about the etiquette, the way that she goes sometimes when she's navigating Earth customs without fully understanding all their nuance. The breeze is fluttering her hair into her face.
Yaz gathers her close, bringing her hands up to push that unruly hair gently into place, tangling her fingers in it as she obliges, fitting their lips back together. The Doctor’s mouth is soft beneath hers, still a little sticky, and Yaz lingers, letting electricity build between them before she pulls back. The Doctor follows after her for a moment before she comes back to herself, blinking rapidly.
“Can we do that a lot?” she asks, and the grin that breaks over Yaz’s face is uncontrollable.
“I think we should,” she agrees, and then they're just smiling at each other helplessly, completely ridiculous in the middle of Paris, and Yaz can only hope Ryan has stayed far away, because she'd never live down the expression on her face.
They’re interrupted by a sharp noise - it sounds something like a lightbulb going out. There’s a beat of silence, and then an ominous creaking sound.
The Eiffel Tower falls to Earth.
The Doctor yanks out her screwdriver, scanning the atmosphere. “That sounded like an electromagnetic disruptor,” she says. “But who would have one on Earth? I think I can narrow down the source of the signal… yesss, from that direction!”
She points, and Yaz laughs, wild and reckless from the joy coursing through her veins. This is their timeline, their life to live from moment to moment, completely in order. Kisses, and adventures, and anything else they choose.
They start running at the same time.