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Miss Crow’s Home For Peculiar Children

Chapter Text

“…7…8…9…10”
Yaz opened her eyes and breathed out. The exercises the school counsellor recommended weren’t helping. Thinking about them made her think of school. Thinking about school made her think about Izzy Flint. Cruel words couldn’t reach her on the moors. That’s what she liked to pretend. But Yaz could feel it. How it had started with just someone hating her, then as more people seemed to get scared, and how their fear turned to hate. And she could feel what they felt. And she hated herself.
Somewhere in the woods below someone was shouting.
“THETE SLOW DOWN”
Yaz moved a little closer to the edge to look. A tall boy in a long black coat was being chased through the forest by a girl with dark, frizzy hair. He laughed and turned to look at her.
“We have half an hour before Missy wants us back home”
“Yeah yeah it’s just that you run like a penguin with his arse on fire”
He turned back to the path and carried on running in silence.
Yaz smiled slightly. She didn’t have long before her mum got home from work. Maybe long enough to walk back through the forest. As long as they didn’t have to worry about her. When they got worried it was overwhelming, and she already felt it enough from Sonya.

It must have been almost half an hour when she heard the teens who had been shouting in the forest earlier approaching on the path. She could feel happiness radiating from them before she even saw them. He was humming some Lewis Capaldi song while the girl talked excitedly. As they came into view they stopped walking. Yaz froze. Despite his age, appearing maybe 18, the boy had fluffy, silvery grey hair and thick eyebrows that seemed to default to anger.
“What is this?” He asked his friend, gesturing towards Yaz.
“Uhh, it’s a person Thete”
“Great observation Bill but why is it staring at us?”
Bill turned to look at him. “Maybe you should try acting normal”
He smiled and took off running, past Yaz without another word. Bill apologised to her and ran after him. Yaz looked at her watch. Maybe a little more time wouldn’t hurt. Thete had seemed weird but he and Bill didn’t hate her, or were scared of her. It was refreshing and she needed to talk to them. She ran.

They ran down to a stream, where the ground was muddy and Yaz could hardly keep up. Thete was jumping from rock to rock like he did this every day and Bill seemed almost as expert, while Yaz had never been there before.
“Please come back! I just wanted to talk!” she called to them. Bill stared at her, shrugging apologetically and ducking into a tunnel that the stream passed through after Thete.
Yaz stopped, catching her breath and debating whether making friends with these people was worth wading through the stream and into the tunnel. It was a warm day, for Sheffield. She took off her boots and rolled up the bottoms of her jeans.
“What am I doing? If I want to find people who don’t hate me following strangers into a dark tunnel is not the way to go” she thought, gasping the the cold water that now reached past her ankles. A few more steps took her into the darkness.
“Hello?” She could no longer hear Bill and Thete walking through the water. The tunnel turned a corner and Yaz couldn’t see her hand in front of her face. She pulled out her phone to use the torch but it wouldn’t even turn on.
“Ok guys, I’m leaving. I don’t know anyone in their right mind that would spend time here”
As she moved towards the exit the water got colder and colder. At one point she thought she felt a chunk of ice being swept past her leg. Outside looked different. Everything was bright compared to the tunnel but this wasn’t the same as what she had left. The ground was frosty and the trees above had lost their leaves, shade now being provided by snow caught in the branches. Yaz realised she was freezing. Everything here was freezing. Her feet were freezing. She suddenly remembered to put her boots back on.

Once frostbite was no longer a threat, the next job was figuring out what had happened to the weather. Yaz was sure she had been in the tunnel a couple of minutes, but last time she checked it was early summer and if she had been there until winter then her parents would have definitely gotten home before her. They must be so worried, poor Sonya would be terrified. Tears began rolling down her cheeks as she sat on a fallen tree, burying her face in her hands. What had she done? How could she do this to her family? What did they think had happened to her? She sobbed uncontrollably for a few minutes until a hand rested on her shoulder. She glanced up to see Bill there, smiling softly.
“Disorientating, isn’t it?” She said.
“What is?” Yaz whispered, embarrassed that this stranger had seen her cry.
“We’ll get you warmed up and fed first. There’s a lot to explain. I’m Bill, that old fool over there is Thete”
Thete waved and walked over to help Yaz up.
“I’m not old, technically. I’m 18 my hair is grey for reasons”
“Reasons?”
“Yeah, reasons”

The trio approached a house at the edge the wood. It was huge and beautiful, covered in snow, looking like a perfect winter wonderland. On the other side there was a gentle slope upwards, which was crisscrossed with trails from sledges. Grey smoke curled from the chimney and there were other children and teenagers either running around outside or visible in the windows. At the back of the house Yaz could see a large greenhouse filled with bright, tropical plants, a wild contrast to the ongoing mass of white surrounding them. Thete grinned.
“Welcome to our home”

Chapter Text

“ENEMY GIRL!”
Yaz jumped at the sudden shout, looking up to see a small boy, no more than 8 charging towards her. She heard Thete mumble something about a psychotic potato before the boy threw himself into her, the impact knocking her to the freezing ground.
“Get off her Strax” a voice yelled. Yaz could just lift her head enough to see a figure whose face was covered in a black veil walking towards them, so gracefully it seemed like she was gliding across the snow. Strax groaned and stood up, dusting himself off before giving the others a proud smile and hurrying away. Yaz could feel that crawling feeling on the back of her neck like she was being watched, and she wondered how much longer the person behind veil would stare at her, radiating with intense curiosity. After it was just long enough to be uncomfortable the figure pulled back her veil and smiled politely.
“My name is Vastra”
Yaz’s heart skipped a beat.
“She’s- she’s got scales”
Everything went black as she slumped back into the snow. Vastra sighed and nudged her with her foot.
“I really thought this one wouldn’t faint”

Everything was blurry. Yaz blinked a few times and looked around. She was lying on a slightly battered couch, covered with a blanket. The walls were a sort of pale beige and the floor was covered in a teal carpet. There was a huge box in the corner that Yaz soon recognised as a TV. There was a record player near a shelf stacked with books and records. A girl with brown hair, pulled back in a ponytail and a black and red checkered dress was reading at the other end of the couch, shadows dancing around her. Yaz cleared her throat, making her look up.
“What year is it?”
The girl put her book down, the shadows disappearing, and laughed.
“It’s 1957. 15th December, 1957”
Yaz wasn’t sure why she was surprised.
“Oh. Cool. 1957. I’ll be born in just less than 50 years”
“Congratulations. I’m Clara. They kinda told me to keep an eye on you and explain everything when you woke up”
“I’m Yaz. And really confused”
Clara grinned.
“You are in a time loop maintained by the ymbryne Miss Crow, though she prefers Missy. She’s also supposed to look after us, but we do a lot of that ourselves. It’s an ymbryne’s job, to look after children like us, that common people see as freaks. We aren’t freaks though, we’re peculiar”
Yaz nodded like she was following. She really wasn’t.
“We can all do things,” Clara continued, “things that normal people can’t do. When I read or tell a story shadows appear to act it out, it’s up to the others if they want to tell you about theirs at dinner”
Yaz sat up, looking at the clock. It was past 7pm, her family would have been home well over an hour ago.
“I’m really sorry, I can’t stay, I was supposed to be home by now, I’ll come back to meet everyone tomorrow?”
Clara nodded, getting up to show Yaz out. On the way they almost crashed into someone carrying an armful of plants. The girl dropped the plants, pushing her short, golden hair behind her ear. She was short, she had the cutest smile and she was covered in dirt. While everyone else was pale and wrapped in warm clothes against the cold, she wore a short sleeved shirt and her cheeks were pink as if she had spent the day somewhere warm. Yaz guessed the greenhouse, from the abundance of plants.
“Jane,” she said, wiping her hand on her shirt to shake Yaz’s hand.
Yaz forgot her parents for a moment.
“I’m Yaz. I’m Yaz and I was supposed to be leaving”
Jane handed her a daisy.
“See you tomorrow then?”
Yaz nodded and then caught up with Clara outside.
“It’s simple, follow the stream to the tunnel, walk in until you turn the corner, then back out again to go to your own time. Same again to get back here”

Yaz was incredibly late home. She ate her tea and sat through the whole “we were worried sick” lecture in silence, not paying attention to a word her family said. They watched TV in the awkward silence that followed until her parents told her to go to bed at 10pm. She curled up on top of the covers, cradling the daisy in her hand and finally allowing herself to smile like an idiot. She couldn’t wait for the next day. She couldn’t wait to see Jane.

Chapter Text

For the first time in nearly a year the sound of Yaz’s alarm clock wasn’t just a noise she ignored, wishing she could spend the day in bed, hiding from everyone. She put on her school uniform, but replaced the books in her bag with her jeans, converse, white blouse and the leather jacket from her birthday last year. Knowing she had only a few minutes before Sonya woke up, demanding that Yaz wait for her so they could walk to school together, she waved goodbye to her parents, mumbling something about not wanting to be late because of her sister and hurried out of the front door. She had thought that getting out of the flat without any questions would be difficult until it hit her that the next task including getting to the forest without anyone asking why she wasn’t in school.
“Chin up. Act like you own the place” was always the advice for getting away with pretty much anything. Yaz shook her head as she crossed the road. That would never work, if she was seen acting confident that would immediately be suspicious. She found it easier to keep her head down and hurry.

Once she had reached the tunnel and was confident that no one was around, Yaz quickly changed into the clothes she had packed and headed into the darkness, excitement bubbling up inside at the chance to go back to this almost perfect world. Clara and Bill were waiting by the tunnel on their side, with two other girls who introduced themselves as Rose and Amy. Clara explained that everyone else was at the house eating breakfast, so she had a chance to get to know everyone.

It appeared, Yaz decided, that breakfast in that house was the most utterly chaotic thing she had ever encountered. The dining room was filled with people all talking excitedly. Clara cleared her throat, but the noise continued. A few attempts later she turned to Amy with a pleading look.
“EVERYONE SHUT UP,” Amy yelled, small flames flickering around her hands and arms. The noise immediately died down, everyone giving Amy their most apologetic look, including the only adult there, a middle aged woman with dark hair and Victorian clothes. Amy smiled back as the flames disappeared. Clara stepped forward.
“For those of you who didn’t meet her yesterday, this is Yaz”, she announced, pointing to Yaz, who just waved, suddenly shy in front of all these new people.
The following, almost awkward, silence that followed was broken a couple of seconds later as a boy reached out to shake her hand.
“Jack Harkness, but you can call me Captain,” he said. He had an American accent and the whitest smile and Yaz felt like she could stare into his eyes for hours. She suddenly had butterflies in her stomach and she felt the overwhelming urge to kiss him. For a moment she felt like she had found someone to spend her life with, and then he let go of her hand. The feeling disappeared as suddenly as it came. He laughed. “As long as a person is touching me they are in love with me. Don’t worry, it wears of after a while. 50 handshakes from now and you’ll just want to be my friend”.

“An odd experience isn’t it?” someone else joined the conversation, “I’m River Song and if you want I can make you forget you felt like that for that idiot. I can erase everything stored in your short term memory”
Thete put his arm around River. “Don’t do that dear, then she won’t remember the warning next time he tries it” he ignored River’s disappointed groan. “my peculiarity is honestly not a very useful one. I can play any piece of music perfectly after just hearing it once”
Next was Pluto, who had short black hair and big ears and could speak every language, then John in the navy blue suit who could run incredibly fast, even in the knee deep snow. Rose could talk to dogs and wolves, which she demonstrated by having a conversation with the small silver haired dog the group had creatively named “K9”. Bill could teleport short distances (though she was sure that with practice she could one day make it all the way to the moon and be home in time for tea). The girl sitting next to Vastra was Jenny, who had lightning fast reflexes, and Strax had superhuman strength. The boy Amy sat next to was Rory, who could control water, saying it made him perfect for Amy. Qui was the one with the big chin and the bow tie and the ability to jump two stories high, which they decided not to demonstrate inside, and the girl with the ability to heal all flesh wounds and working towards more major injuries was Martha. Finally was Jane, who hadn’t been there for most of breakfast, but had to be dragged out of the greenhouse by Clara while everyone else was introducing themselves. Unsurprisingly, Jane could encourage plants to grow and move the way and speed she wanted them to. Before Yaz could say anything, Missy announced that she was bored, that she was going to destroy some things and that she expected all of the household chores to be done by the time she got back. With that, she transformed into a crow and disappeared out the window.
“When the loop resets, so does the town. The 15th of December just starts over and we’re the only ones that can remember. No one in town remembers what she did yesterday, and tomorrow they won’t remember what she’s doing today. She does it mostly because she doesn’t like caring for us, but it’s her duty as an ymbryne. That’s why she waited until most of us were old enough to look after ourselves before she set up the loop” Clara quietly explained to Yaz, who still felt a little overwhelmed with all of the introductions. “Anyway,” Clara continued, “you still haven’t told us what your peculiarity is”
Yaz laughed nervously.
“I don’t have one. I’m just a common person”
This time everyone else laughed.
“You have to have one” Amy called over the laughter. “Only Peculiars can come through time loops”
Yaz felt like she was going to faint for the second time in two days.

Chapter Text

Yaz sat down on the nearest chair, staring at the table.
“You have to be wrong. I must have made it through by accident. I’m just a normal person, I’m not like you guys”
Jane put her hand on Yaz’s shoulder, then immediately decided it felt weird and awkward and absolutely not comforting and moved again, which Yaz was a little disappointed about.
“There has to be something you can do that’s peculiar. If common people could enter time loops there would be no point in making them” someone further down the table said.
Yaz closed her eyes, thinking hard.
“Mum says I’m good at reading people. I can tell what people are feeling and if it’s a strong emotion I feel it too, but I thought everyone could do that”
Jane shook her head.
“Yaz, you’re an empath” she said, “of course people can read others emotions from body language and everything, but you just know, or it’s a more extreme skill for you!”
Yaz was stared blankly, part of her not really understanding and part of her distracted by Jane’s growing wonder and excitement. Jane looked around the room for help explaining it.
“It’s like how I can jump high,” Qui suggested, “of course pretty much everyone can jump, but I can jump higher than them. Everyone can try to read people, but you can do it better and it comes naturally to you”.
“I think that’s the first time he’s explained something in a way that makes sense, Yaz, so you had better understand because he can’t get any more clear”, Clara laughed. Yaz found herself laughing too. Partially because she really was one of these people, and partially because she finally understood why she could feel the overwhelming joy coming from the room.
“I’m- I’m a Peculiar” she said, now completely unable to prevent the smile cutting across her face.

The day passed by in a haze of snowball fights and sledge races and helping out with chores. After Vastra and Jenny had gotten Strax to finally settle down the rest of the group settled on the couches around the fireplace, drinking root beer and coca-cola. Everyone was talking quietly, mostly splitting into groups, until Qui asked Clara to tell him a story, then Amy overheard and soon all eyes were on Clara.
“Tell us about the hollows” Thete demanded. Clara sighed, giving the impression that this was a story she told a lot, yet no one tired of. As she began speaking, the shadows appeared around her again, representing characters in the story.
“Years ago, a group of ymbrynes and other peculiars decided that they wanted the ability to live forever without time catching up to them when they leave their loops. They travelled to a remote place and began the experiment that would turn them into gods. Except something went horribly wrong and BOOM! The experiment exploded, destroying a huge area of land. It was assumed that the explosion killed the foolish peculiars, until invisible monsters began crawling from the destruction. The experiment had turned the peculiars into monsters, with black leathery skin and claws, with tentacles coming out of their mouths to pull their prey in”
“Wait” Jack interrupted. “If the monsters are invisible why are you describing them?”. From Clara’s eye roll Yaz could guess that this was something he already knew the answer to, but was asking for dramatic effect.
“Shut up Jack” Clara hissed, “Anyway, John saw one, remember? It was about 30 years ago, he was outside the loop and and it was visible because it was eating. He drew it for us. Hollows have coal black skin and tentacles coming from their mouths. They ate and destroyed everything they could, but they prefer to eat peculiars, because if they eat enough peculiars then they turn back to their human form, becoming Wights, which help other hollows hunt for more peculiars. Wights look just like people, except their irises have no colour. They are cold and ruthless, and will do anything to help the other hollows gain a human form like them”
Everyone stayed silent until the shadows around Clara faded away. Thete mumbled something about her having told it better last time, which just earned him a thump on the arm. Darkness was beginning to fall outside, and Yaz realised that it was time she was getting home, no matter how much she wanted to stay.

A few hours later, Yaz was back home in her pyjamas, watching TV with Sonya. Her dad was already home, making notes on the latest conspiracy he thought he had noticed, and she was filled with dread at the sound of her mum unlocking the door to come in. She had a pretty clear idea of what was coming.
“Yasmin Khan, your father and I need to speak to you” Najia called out, almost as soon as she entered. Yaz groaned, already beginning to feel a cocktail of anger and disappointment and worry coming from them.
“What is it?” she mumbled.
“The school called. You never showed up today. We told them you were ill but we aren’t going to keep covering for you, something is wrong and we can’t help you with it unless you talk us. What’s going on with you?”
Yaz just shook her head, telling them it wasn’t important, that she could deal with it and that she just wanted to eat her tea and go to bed. The rest of the evening passed in the usual tense silence.

The next few days were much of the same. The agreement was that Yaz had to be taken everywhere by her parents so that she couldn’t sneak off or skip school, and then they would decide if they could trust her alone after two weeks. By day three, Yaz was ready to consider using spoons to dig her way into the flat below and escape through there. By day four, she had stolen at least 3 spoons from the kitchen. By day five she had been forced to put them back because her dad was getting too obsessed with ‘the case of the disappearing spoon’. Day six was when Yaz officially gave up on escaping and realised there was no practical way for her to see the peculiars again. At the end of the two weeks she would be free to do whatever, but skipping school to be with them would just mean being watched more closely. She had decided to accept that the day with them had been amazing, that she wouldn’t forget them, especially Jane, but that it had just been a day, and it was over. And she really had accepted that, right up until there was a knock at the door of the flat.

Chapter Text

“Hi Yaz’s Mum!”
Yaz shot up out of bed as she heard the familiar voice echo through the flat the moment the front door was opened. Yaz quietly opened her bedroom door, hoping to really see who she thought it was. She padded down the hall, and there she was. There was a yellow flower crown circling her head, giving the appearance of a halo, and upon seeing Yaz she waved enthusiastically. Yaz took a deep breath, calming the butterflies in her stomach.
“This is Jane,” Yaz explained, waving back to her friend. Behind her, slightly out of breath but catching up were Clara and Amy, grumbling something to Jane about running off and how they were supposed to stick together. “And the others are Clara and Amy. Did you guys bring anyone else?”
Clara shook her head and, still breathing heavily, held out Yaz’s jacket.
“You left it. Address was in the label. We thought you would come back for it, but it’s been nearly a week, so Jane decided we should bring it to you instead.”
Yaz took it. It smelled like cinnamon and winter and the home in the loop, and she was surprised at how comforting it was, and at the relief she could feel radiating from her friends.
“We thought we had scared you off, and that you didn’t want to be friends any more. Especially after Clara told you about the..”
Yaz cleared her throat, interrupting her and gesturing to Najia. She shook her head, hoping they got the whole ‘act normal, don’t talk about hollows or peculiars or time loops or a chaotic Scottish woman who can turn into a crow’ message. Before Jane got a chance to carry on, Amy started speaking, clearly not trusting her to understand.
“We’re from the other side of town, Mrs Khan. We had a day off school, and we’re really sorry for encouraging Yaz to skip school to hang out with us. We just wanted to check she was alright”
Najia stared at the girls, curious, scrutinising them. Yaz’s own worry about their story was added to by theirs, until she felt sick. Najia smiled.
“It was nice to meet you girls. Yaz is of course, in trouble for skipping school but she’ll be free again in a week”.
With that, they said their goodbyes, explaining that they had to be home in time for tea. As Amy and Clara began walking down the stairs, Jane pulled Yaz into a tight hug and gave her the flower crown.
“See you in a week”
Yaz made her mind up. She loved her parents, and her sister, but those three people were all she had here, in comparison to a whole wonderful life with the peculiars. She didn’t want to hurt her family, but it was time for her to leave.

 

“You wanted to go with them, didn’t you?” Sonya asked, leaning on Yaz’s bedroom door to block her exit. “There’s something you were hiding from Mum, and you want to go with them”
Yaz threw a pillow at her.
“Go away Sonya. You wouldn’t believe me if I told you”
Sonya sat on the edge of the bed, leaning into Yaz’s side.
“Whatever reasons you have, those few minutes they were here is the happiest I’ve seen you in a long time. You deserve to be happy, as long as you visit occasionally”
“Are you being nice or are you trying to get my room?”
Sonya pushed her.
“Write a letter to mum and dad. They might not believe it, but you should tell them everything. They deserve at least that if you are going to abandon them to handle your annoying little sister”
Yaz considered it. There was so much that could go wrong. What if her parents involved the police? She thought about all the missing persons cases she had heard about where people assume it was the family, and all the rumours that could ruin their lives. She didn’t know if she could be that selfish, to let them be hurt like that.
“I’ll try to contact you every day. If anything bad happens I’ll come home immediately. And you know where I like to go on the moors. I’ll meet you there occasionally. And..”
Sonya hugged her. “Stop worrying. Leave a note and then go, be happy with your friends”

An hour later, and surrounded by scrunched up failed attempts at explaining everything coherently, Yaz finally had the letter she wanted to leave. Her rucksack was filled with clothes and various bits and pieces from around the house that Sonya had been sneakily bringing to her. Her parents were asleep and there was nothing else to delay her leaving. As she walked past their bedroom door she paused. She wanted to hug them, to say goodbye. Not being able to do that felt like she was burning up. One had rested on the door handle as she fought the urge to open it and hot tears rolled down her cheeks.
“I love you” she whispered, walking away, wishing she wasn’t a little disappointed that they hadn’t woken up to say it back. She cried in silence until she made it to the street, and then she truly allowed herself to sob out loud. By the time she reached the forest she could hardly cry any more. As she reached the tunnel the feeling became more bittersweet. This version of Sheffield held happy memories, but she was ready to move on, and make some more.

Chapter Text

By the time Yaz was drawing nearer to the house the sun was beginning to rise, bathing the snow covered moors in a pinkish-orange glow. The house was quiet, peaceful. The others had not woken up yet, there was no light coming from the windows. Yaz grew sleepy. The late night escape, the walk, and the soft light of the blanket of snow had a strong soporific effect. She yawned loudly, and a crow cawed in response. It was sitting on the back of a partially buried garden chair, probably staring into her soul the way birds do.
“Room for one more?” She mumbled, walking closer to the bird. It tilted it’s head in response. “Please tell me there’s room, I can’t go back now. I think I need to be here”
The sound of the front door creaking open caused the crow to flap its wings and caw in panic. Missy was stood at the door, laughing. Yaz stared from Missy, to the crow and back again.
“Wrong creepy bird?” She laughed. Missy nodded.
“Wrong creepy bird dear. Come in, you must be freezing”
Once inside, Missy lit the fire and hung Yaz’s coat by the door. Yaz noticed that the hook her coat was on looked much newer than the others.
“Jane made it. She was sure you would be back and she wanted you to have your own” she heard the American accent behind her. Jack pulled her into a hug and she could feel the overwhelming feeling of love. As he let go it faded again, so why did she have butterflies in her stomach? She reached up to the coat hook, smiling. One by one the rest of her friends came flooding down the stairs, greeting her with hugs and excitement that she said she would stay. Once everyone was awake they gathered around for breakfast. Jane sat across from Yaz, barely looking up from her food. Bill sat on one side of Yaz, with Clara on the other. Yaz wondered if anyone else noticed Clara glancing at Qui as he ate fish fingers and custard and chattered away to Amy and Rory, or the way he glanced back, always just missing each other.
“So have you met Heather?” Bill interrupted Yaz’s thoughts. “Blonde, gorgeous eyes”
Yaz stared at her for a moment. “I think so. The girl with the star? She’s on the other side of my year at my school, why?”
“I was just wondering if you can think of anything peculiar about her. I meet up with her sometimes when me and Thete step outside to reopen the loop, and unless I can find something she’s going to grow up”
Yaz became acutely aware of a tear rolling down her cheek. She could feel all of Bill’s worry and sadness at the possibility that this girl would have to leave her behind and it hurt. She shook her head. “I’ll try to think of anything. I didn’t talk to her much though”.

As the plates were cleared away, Missy announced that she had important things to do at the house, so she wouldn’t be terrorising the town if the children wanted to go for a day out. Clara nudged her on the arm. “There’s a brilliant diner in town. In the style of the American ones, I was going to go with Jane if you wanted to come with us?”
Yaz nodded. “One condition. You invite Qui, Amy and Rory”
She knew this made Clara nervous, but she agreed to it, and they had convinced John and Rose to walk with them, even though the two had other plans for the day. The group eventually split off into pairs, John and Rose at the front, Amy and Rory at the back of the group. Yaz grabbed Janes hand to pull her back, forcing Clara to walk with Qui. They walked in silence at first, until Qui stumbled, bumping into Clara. He chuckled.
“Sorry I”
“For someone who can jump very very high, you really trip over a lot”
“It’s not my fault, I was distracted”
“By what exactly?”
He sighed. “You’re impossible. You know that right?”
Clara giggled. “Whatever you say, chin boy”. She pushed him gently, causing him to stumble again.
Yaz suddenly noticed Jane staring at her in awe. She grinned.

John and Rose had left the group to go on their own date a little while before they reached the diner. The place was almost completely empty. A pair of men in suits and sunglasses sat in a corner, but they left as the children entered, leaving them to have the diner to themselves. They sat around, drinking milkshakes and listening to baby it’s cold outside on the jukebox. Amy leaned into Rory, Jane was doodling flowers on the table (“It’s not graffiti if it gets reset tomorrow!”) and Clara was watching Qui as he bounced in his seat to the music, just slightly out of time. All too soon, it was time to return to the house.

Yaz had promised Bill and Thete that she would go out of the loop with them, especially since she wanted to text Sonya. She had the feeling Sonya would have forgotten to text her if she didn’t leave the loop to initiate the conversation, which is why nothing could surprise Yaz more than the 37 missed voicemails notification. 12 from her parents, the other 25 from Sonya.
“Yaz! It’s me. Uh. Sonya. Wait your phone tells you that anyway. Call me back. Or don’t. Don’t come visit. Wherever you are, don’t leave. I really wish you were here right now but..” the message ended. Yaz groaned as she waited for the next one to start, wondering what could have gotten Sonya so panicked.
“It’s me! Again. Didn’t get a chance to finish. Izzy Flint is missing. Everyone says you’re a suspect, because of the bullying and the running away and the slightly mental sounding ‘I have friends with magic from the 1950s that I live with now’ . I believe you, but no one else does. Stay safe”

Chapter Text

Silence. Bill and Thete had run ahead, out of sight, out of the forest to listen to music and talk to Heathers and have fun. Yaz was completely, painfully alone. The phone slipped from her hand, the sound of the screen shattering against a rock making her flinch. Her stomach felt twisted, like it was writhing and flipping inside her. These weren’t the butterflies she had gotten so used to already, these felt more like snakes, threatening to pull her apart. Her limbs felt weak and shaky and numb until she had to sit down on the damp ground. The blood thundered in her ears, her heart rate feeling so fast and loud she could barely make out sound stream splashing and burbling beside her. She closed her eyes, hoping that the dizziness would go away, that the bad feeling would just stop so she could think, wishing that she could go back to a few hours ago, laughing in the diner with Jane. But nothing changed, she was still sitting there, getting cold and damp, eyes shut and not opening them again until Bill whispered “we should go” and held out her hand to help her up. She hated how she felt so weak she had to lean on Bill as they walked through the tunnel, embarrassed by the fact that Bill was so concerned. She felt even worse as they left the forest and approached the home. Thete, who had seemed to be filled with a confused silence, tapped her on the shoulder.
“How many windows are there on the front of the house?”
She was confused.
“Count them” he suggested. “I heard counting sometimes helps”
She looked up at the house, momentarily distracted by Jane in one of the bedroom windows, looking out for their return.
“Thirteen. I can’t hear my heart beat any more. That good or bad? What if I died?”
By this point Jane had come sprinting out to find them, awkwardly stumbling through the deep snow and cursing at the cold that numbed her fingers and nose.
“Yaz? What happened?”
Yaz shook her head, too exhausted to think about what was happening, let alone explain. As much as she wanted to hold onto her and tell her everything.
“There’s a spare bed in my room if you want to lie down somewhere quieter than the living room”
Yaz simply nodded, allowing Jane to take her hand and lead her back to the house.

An hour later, Yaz was sitting on the spare bed, having changed into a comfortable looking dress. Martha had made the bed and helped to ease her headache, just a little. John was running around the house, and Bill was teleporting, looking for extra blankets and pillows. Eventually everyone had left her alone, apart from K9, since Rose had told him not to leave her side. Jane had left her with a cup of tea and was downstairs helping Clara pick a book to read for that evening’s entertainment to help everyone calm down (there was only so many times you can put up with whatever was on tv on the 15th December 1957 before it gets repetitive). She felt much calmer by the time Missy entered the room, wanting to talk to her about what was going on. Yaz explained everything. She had wanted to just give the bare minimum, to keep the explanation simple, only paying attention to the important details, but soon she was going into her history with Izzy and how she had left home and from there she just couldn’t stop herself. Eventually Missy had to stop her. She couldn’t tell what Missy was feeling. Maybe it was because Missy was sort of a bird, or maybe she had just had a lot of practice at being hard to read, but in there few meetings Yaz had sensed nothing from her. A complete lack of emotions, so that if she tried to concentrate on her it felt like going deaf.
Missy stood up, looking as stoic as ever. “If you’ll excuse me, I need to contact some people”
She left the room, in too much of a rush to close the door behind her.
“What if it’s the hollows?” Yaz heard Pluto ask Missy in the hallway. She winced at the sound of the boy being pushed against a wall and the flash of panic he felt.
“Remember Pluto, eavesdropping is rude” Missy hissed. Her footsteps continued down the hall, falling out of earshot as she reached the stairs.
Yaz began to cry. She sobbed quietly, shoulders shaking with each breath until it ached. It was all going wrong already, and it was finally sinking in that she would probably never be able to return home, even just to visit. Her last goodbye to them had been the letter which was now being used as evidence that she’d had some kind of mental break and only Sonya believed the truth. Sonya wasn’t a great liar. What if she was punished for ‘humouring’ her when she wanted to leave? What if it was classed as obstruction of justice and her sister’s life would be ruined because of her? She wondered if her family really found it easier to believe that she could have killed someone than believe that she had found friends in peculiar circumstances. She scoffed. To be fair, she wasn’t sure she believed the peculiars were more than a dream for a while. The only reason she had tried going back was because of the daisy she had spent all night staring at. And then it was there again. The butterflies in her stomach and the way that wherever her train of thought was going it always ended up with her thinking about Jane. Jane with the golden hair like a halo. Jane with the beautiful brown eyes. Jane who she had only just noticed standing in the doorway, offering to show her the greenhouse.

“It’s not perfect” Jane said, tapping a branch. The arch of branches stopped wilting, allowing the two girls to enter. It was hot in the greenhouse. Much hotter than outside, so the girls had taken off their coats to drape them over a metal bar. Entering the greenhouse was like walking into a rainforest. Every morning, Amy provided fire under the floor and Rory would direct the water to the plants that needed it most, so that it ran down the middle of the room like a stream. The water was clear and slightly warm, with orange and gold spiralling mosaics at the bottom. Roots and branches were woven together to form bridges over the streams. The support beams were covered in yellow and orange flowers, that looked like they were glowing in the sunset outside. In the middle there was a round table, with Jane’s favourite plants on it, as well as a pack of custard creams she had hidden to eat herself.
“What do you mean, ‘it’s not perfect’?” Yaz whispered.
Jane smiled at her, with the cutest, happiest puppy eyes. “I guess, I have technically been working on it for 70 years”
“It’s beautiful”
Jane blushed, going nearly as red as the plants hanging from the ceiling to her left.
“Custard cream?”
Yaz took one, laughing as Jane tried to eat four at once. “Why do I get the feeling that custard creams are a privilege reserved for honoured guests?”
Jane just made a noise through the mouthful of biscuits, making Yaz laugh even more.
“Missy gave us a sort of explanation of what was happening, so, I guess you don’t have to worry about people asking questions” Jane said, having finally finished the custard creams. “I’m really sorry. That point of no return, when you know you can’t change your mind and go back to the normal world, it can really hurt, apparently”
Yaz threw her arms around Jane, burying her face in her neck, staying for a few seconds.
“You’re not great at pep talks. I can’t tell how hard you were trying though” she mumbled. “We can change the subject now, I need to distract myself”
Jane nodded, thinking about what else she could talk about.
“Clara and Qui? How did you know they liked each other so quick? Most of us only noticed a few years ago, and I don’t think they even know themselves”
Yaz smiled, looking into Jane’s eyes, so bright and curious.
“I always know”.

Chapter Text

Their faces were so close. Their foreheads we’re almost touching, Jane’s breath was warm against Yaz’s cheeks. They kept eye contact, neither wanting to be the first to break it. There were two options from here; Yaz could either do what she so desperately wanted to do and close the gap between them, or step back, break the spell, ruin the moment, but spare herself the embarrassment if this wasn’t what Jane wanted. She took a deep breath, about to finally make her decision when a noise brought them back to the real world like a slap in the face. The noise came again, a tapping on the door of the greenhouse.
Yaz sighed, suppressing a groan at the missed chance. The insistent tapping came back, a little harder, more impatient this time as Yaz stepped back, allowing Jane to lead the way through the plants and over the small bridges. The already tropical temperature of the greenhouse felt like it had been rising and rising, but now as they walked in silence it was finally beginning to cool. She couldn’t stop glancing at Jane, wondering if she could go back in time and decide what to do in that moment just a little faster, would she? Or was it better for her to have missed the chance and not ruined things? Feelings were painfully confusing for Yaz when it came to the important ones. She had empathy, she should have been able to tell, like she said, she always knew. But when she looked at Jane she was so flooded with her own emotions, her own feelings for her that she could hardly tell what Jane felt. Whatever Jane had wanted to do in those few seconds, while they were just so close, Yaz was confident that she would never be able to tell if she was disappointed that nothing had happened. It terrified her that she had finally met someone who made her feel so much that she was essentially powerless, and yet she loved it. For the first time, whatever they ended up as, she felt it could be normal.

They opened the greenhouse door, where Strax had evidently gotten tired of knocking and had busied himself attacking a nearby snowman while he waited.
He stood to attention, giving them an enthusiastic salute.
“Missy told me to tell you that dinner is ready”
Jane grabbed Yaz’s hand to pull her towards the house
“Brilliant! I’m starving”
“You’ve had at least 13 custard creams”
Jane pushed her lightly in protest, holding onto her a little tighter so that she didn’t actually lose her balance.

Meanwhile, in the kitchen, Clara and Qui were baking the third batch of soufflés. This was their last chance before they ran out of both time before tea, and flour (which they had wasted most of by throwing it after each other, something Qui had said was completely her fault because she had been the one to try to straighten his bow toe with hands covered in a dusting of flour). The kitchen worktops were covered in failed attempts from the previous batches and mixing bowls, so the two of them were sitting on the floor, either side of the oven, licking the batter from a couple of spoons while they waited. The timer dinged. Clara looked in the oven. Not too much smoke, but still misshapen and a little too crispy. Qui raised an eyebrow.
“Too beautiful to live” she mumbled, with a slight laugh, wiping a tear from the corner of her eye, hoping Qui didn’t notice. The pair sunk back to the kitchen floor, and Qui put an arm around her, taking her hand and pulling her closer.
“You’ll get it soon”
She shook her head. “Another day, maybe. Tea’s ready”
Qui stood up, pulling her up and walking into the dining room, not letting go of her hand until he noticed the cough and surprised look from Amy. With a nervous chuckle he dropped her hand, giving her the sweetest, most comforting smile he could manage and hurried over to join Amy and Rory in their usual place at the table.
After dinner was the usual evening ritual of everyone splitting into groups, listening to Thete play his guitar and Clara tell her stories, or watching Rose perform tricks with K9. Yaz was curled up on the couch next to Jane, enjoying the warmth of the room and the quiet chatter that was rapidly inducing a sense stupor. Everyone was content, despite the panic earlier that day. Everyone except Pluto, who still hadn’t shaken the feelings of guilt and terror after he got in trouble with Missy for eavesdropping. Just as she was about to talk to him, he announced that he was exhausted and ran off. She’d have to talk to him another time. One by one, everyone else made their way to their beds.

Yaz lay in her bed, staring at the ceiling, where Jane had painted stars and planets, just about visible in the dark. On the other side of the room, it seemed Jane was constantly moving, unable to be still even at night.
“You still awake?” She heard a mumble coming from the pile of blankets that Jane was buried in.
“Yeah, why?”
“Can’t sleep”
“Want to just talk. You can come sit over here so we can talk quietly, not wake anyone”
Silence. Yaz was ready to give up, just go to sleep, and then the blanket pile stood up and began shuffling across the room to sit at the end of the bed.
“Today was a lot, huh?” Jane said softly.
“Hmm yeah, quite a lot really”
“You must miss your family”
“I chose to leave them.” Yaz wondered if Jane caught onto the sound of her voice breaking.
“When it’s something you love your going to miss it, even when you wanted to leave.”
“I miss them. It’s only been a day for me though, it’s been years for you”
Jane rested her head on Yaz’s shoulder.
“I was found, abandoned. My mother loved me, up until she found out what I could do. She wanted to use my abilities, so she kept testing me, exhausting me. I don’t miss her. I miss the days before anyone knew what I was. And I know she doesn’t miss me, just the power she lost when I ran away”
Yaz brushed the tears away from her cheeks with the corner of her blanket and pulled Jane into a hug. Jane wasn’t crying, but whatever she was feeling was strong enough to make Yaz feel it as though it was her own life. The pair stayed silent, clinging onto each other until they eventually drifted into sleep.

Something was tickling Yaz’s face. She brushed it out of the way, surprised for a moment that it was golden coloured hair. Jane’s face was just inches away from Yaz’s, reminding her of the uncertain moment in the greenhouse. Careful not to wake her, she climbed out of bed, padded downstairs and began making a cup of tea. Rose was already downstairs, talking to K9 about squirrels. Yaz sat in the comfiest armchair, with her tea, doing her best to not think about Jane. She needed a distraction, something to take her mind off all those moments.
“What does K9 say to you?”
Rose patted the little silver dog.
“I asked him if he thinks he could catch the fastest squirrel. He said ‘affirmative’ and the told me he can run even faster than his master, John, and is now repeatedly asking when John will finally get out of bed because he wants to play”
“He’s like a little kid”
“He’s basically still a puppy. He was almost a year old when we went into the loop”
The door creaked open. Missy was standing in the doorway.
“I have an important council of ymbrynes meeting. Could you let the others know that I’ll be back in time to reset the loop, but it will probably be after you’ve all gone to bed. Make sure you remember to feed yourselves, get all your chores done before you go terrorising the town or whatever it is you do when I’m busy”
Rose nodded. A few seconds after the front door had slammed shut, she grabbed Yaz’s hand to pull her over to the window. At the edge of the forest there were two men in suits, wearing sunglasses.
“That’s weird” Rose mumbled. “Ymbrynes are all female”
“What are you looking at?” A voice asked, making them jump. Amy was stood behind them. “Never mind, not important. Yaz you broke Qui. He won’t stop talking about Clara. He’s not even denying his crush anymore. What am I supposed to tease him about now?”
“Chin? Bow tie? Fezzes? Distinct lack of eyebrows?” River suggested as she passed through to the kitchen.
Rory put an arm around Amy.
“We could try not teasing him?”
The pair burst out laughing.
From somewhere upstairs, Qui’s muffled shout announced that bow ties were cool, and his eyebrows were delicate, making them laugh even more. Rory disappeared into the kitchen to cook some breakfast, with Martha’s help, since they had been voted “least likely to burn the house down” and Thete announced that he would play Baby Shark (which he had learned while outside the loop as soon as it came out) until everyone made their beds.

Jane was still fast asleep when Yaz went upstairs. While Yaz was making the other bed she heard a soft mumble as Jane woke up and rubbed her eyes.
“Why am I in this bed?” She whispered.
“You couldn’t sleep, so you told me a bit of your life story and then fell asleep holding me”
“Oh, sorry, I didn’t mean to bother you”
Yaz froze, immediately feeling bad that she had let Jane think that she was bothering her. She shook her head.
“I didn’t mind at all. It was nice. Best night sleep I’ve had for months”
Jane looked relieved, and then puzzled.
“What’s that noise?”
“Thete”
“Baby shark?”
“Louder and louder until all the beds are made” Yaz said with a laugh.
“Better hurry up then”

Chapter Text

The breakfast of eggs and toast was surprisingly delicious, Rory and Martha’s cooking better than what Missy normally presented them with. With Missy out, the town was once again free for them to roam around, and as soon as Rory suggested going ice skating to Amy, the group soon began an official day plan meeting.

By the time the planning session was over, Yaz was desperate to go out and do something. She got the idea that her peculiar friends often spent hours coming up with plans of what they could do for the day, but since days when they were allowed to do them were so rare, they weren’t sure what to do first. In the end, they agreed to begin with Clara’s often repeated suggestion, watching “A Farewell to Arms”, since it was long enough after their last visit to the cinema that most had forgotten the plot. Clara adored both the film and the Hemingway book, which was enough reason for Yaz to convince Qui to come with them and actually sit still through the film. By the time they had actually reached the cinema, most of the others had gotten distracted and gone to do other things, leaving Yaz with just Jane, Clara and Qui.

 

The film left Clara in tears, “just like the last 7 times” according to Jane. Clara was a few metres away from them, her face in Qui’s chest while he rested his head on hers. After a second she stepped back and smiled at him, allowing him to kiss her on the forehead and take her hand. She wiped her eyes with her sleeve.
“Gets me every time. Even when I read it,” Qui patted her on the shoulder and she sniffed with a small laugh, “So bowling alley anyone?” she asked, wanting to distract them from the fact that she was such a crying mess.

It turned out that Qui was horrifically bad at bowling. His long limbs did not handle the extra weight of a bowling ball throwing him off balance, surprising everyone that he didn’t fall and end up sliding down the alley himself, and after his third failed turn he started getting grumpy and they had to leave. On their way out they spotted a photo booth, by the door, and Jane wanted to take some pictures to remember the day. Since Qui was still being a sore loser, Clara waited with him while Jane and Yaz went into the booth.
“Small booth” Yaz whispered, looking around at the close white walls.
Jane put an arm around her and they grinned as the light flashed.
Yaz turned to face Jane, who was now beaming at her.
“So, I wanted to-“
There was another flash.
“Yesterday in the greenhouse” Jane said. “Strax interrupted us”.
Yaz inhaled deeply, still smiling, despite the worry about what could happen next. What if Jane was glad they’d been interrupted? Or thought even showing her the greenhouse was a mistake?
Flash.
“If he hadn’t? You know, interrupted us?”
Yaz’s heart was pounding. Their faces were so close, it seemed as though the walls of the booth were pushing her even closer. She wouldn’t hesitate. Not this time. Not when she felt the way she did, the feeling she had been failing to distract herself from since Jane had handed her that daisy. She closed the gap between them, their lips meeting, gently at first, for barely a second. Jane grabbed Yaz’s jacket collar and pulled her closer, kissing her again. Yaz’s hands rested on Jane’s cheeks, brushing against her hair.
Flash.
Yaz smiled, stepping back a little and bumping into the wall. The pair were both a little dazed, blushing furiously. Yaz dipped her head, allowing her forehead to touch Jane’s while she calmed her breathing, holding her hands. The sound of the photos falling into the slot outside finally reminded them of the rest of the world. They took a step out of the booth, immediately greeted with a raised eyebrow from Clara and a confused look from Qui.
“I don’t get it!” He whined as they picked up the photos and walked over. “Clara asked me what I thought was happening in the photo booth, and I said you were probably taking photos. She started laughing at me and said I was all cute and innocent” he straightened his bow tie, wrinkling his nose and stared at them, trying to figure it out. Observation one, smiling like idiots. Observation two, holding hands. Observation three, they kept looking at each other and giggling. He just needed a minute to put it all together. He gasped, pointing at them and grabbing Clara’s arm excitedly.
“Calm down you’ll jump through the roof” she whispered to him. She turned to the rest of the group. “I’m starving. Diner? We can grill you on these new developments there”. Everyone nodded in agreement.

“So,” Clara said. She took a sip of lemonade. “First of all, Yaz, Jane is like our sister. You hurt her, you can go back to 2020. From what Heather has been telling Bill it’s really bad. Jane, Yaz is an awesome new friend to all of us. You ruin that, I’m having Amy burn the greenhouse down. Deal?”
The girls nodded.
“Good. Now then. One question for each of you. What made you finally realise how you felt?”
The girls stayed silent for a moment, neither wanting to start, and having some sort of telepathic argument over it.
“Stop looking into each other’s eyes for a minute. Jane can go first”
“When we were in the greenhouse. She said it was beautiful. And then when I asked about- umm – other people, and how she knew they liked each other, she said she always knew. I hadn’t realised how I felt until I got disappointed that she didn’t know how I felt. I guess I had been hoping that she’d say she knew, so I could skip the awkward conversation. That pretty much confirmed it for me”
Yaz took her hand, an apologetic look in her eyes.
“I didn’t do anything because I couldn’t tell if I was sensing your feelings or mine. It wasn’t until we were taking the photos, and you were smiling the way you were that I realised I didn’t care if I was wrong, I had to try. Also when you crawled into my bed for a hug in the middle of the night because you couldn’t sleep”
Clara giggled . “I’m sorry, Miss Too Awkward To Start A Conversation Usually did what in the middle of the night?”
Jane kicked her under the table, shutting her up. Just as she was recovering from the kick, and was about to ask again, Clara was interrupted by a waitress appearing with their burgers. As they ate, the topic of conversation moved to how they arrived at the house.
“I was actually born in the 80s. My mum had the same ability as I do, and she helped me control it so I could live a normal life, until she died. I was pretty young, and I sort of lost control. When my dad married Linda, she called me a freak. I was actually in the middle of running away when I bumped into Qui, and when he noticed what I could do he offered to let me come back to the house until I cooled off enough to go home. I guess I never cooled off, my dad will be around 60 now.”
Qui put his arm around her shoulders. “Yeah well I almost made you stay after you after you called me chin boy”
Clara lightly hit him in the chest. “You liked me, I could have called you whatever I wanted, you’d have still rescued me”
Qui shook his head in defeat.
“I was here before we actually decided to start the loop. I was about 6, I’d spent a lot of time with my grandad, travelling around. He was a soldier, eventually the guilt of everything he had done as a soldier was a lot for him and he couldn’t look after me any more. He found the house and brought me here. My clothes were pretty messy, and Amy pretty much immediately took me in as her raggedy man.”
Once the meal was finished they headed back to the house, taking their time, climbing trees and skidding on the frozen mud, crashing into each other, laughter filling the air like a melody.
At the edge of the forest, Thete was waiting.
“Yaz! Your sister is waiting for you at the other side of the loop. Urgent, apparently”
Yaz nodded. “I’ll meet you guys back at the house”
Jane grabbed her hand, silently begging Yaz to take her too. Yaz shook her head apologetically, kissed her on the cheek (surprising the incredibly unobservant Thete) and headed out of the loop.

“They found Izzy Flint!”
Yaz had barely had time to adjust to the warm summer sun when Sonya bounded towards her, almost tripping over a bush on the way.
“So what’s she saying happened to her? Not blaming me too is she?”
Sonya shook her head. “Uhh. Nothing. She can’t say anything. They found her body. Along with some sheep and some random guy. Looks like it was wild animals”
Yaz sat down, feeling immediately guilty that her first thought was relief that she was no longer suspected of kidnapping her bully. Sure she could feel bad for the Flint family, and she probably should, but that could wait.
“It was weird though. There’s CCTV of the guy, hold on”
Sonya handed her phone to Yaz.
“Halloween’s in a few months mate!” The man threw something at what appeared to be nothing. “Eat my salad Halloween!”
Yaz stared at it, silent for a few moments, squinting. As it began playing again she noticed something. The shadows were moving, tentacles writhing like angry snakes, slowly reaching towards the mans shadow, sinister, like it was savouring the moment. Just as they reached the man something appeared, and the video cut off.
“Rewind it, to when the thing appears, I want to look at it”
The image showed a humanoid, around 10 feet tall, pitch black skin and tattered clothes, tentacles spilling from it’s mouth.

“Oh my stars” Clara said with a gasp as Yaz told everyone about the video as they gathered for their evening meal. “That sounds like a hollow”
“The man must have been a peculiar. Some peculiars can see hollows when they aren’t eating” Vastra said, pulling Jenny closer, her only sign that she was nervous.
“And so close to the entrance of the loop?” River said, taking Thete’s hand. “There must be a wight helping them find us”
“Well at-at least hollows can’t come into loops right?” Rory asked. “It’s stuck outside, so as long as we stay in it can’t get us”
“We need to go outside to keep time soft enough to keep the loop open” Thete said.
This soon descended into panicked chatter. After a while Jack stood up, raising his glass.
“It sounds like things are changing, we are on the eve of war and it may seem hopeless. But tonight we have fun. We celebrate this home that has kept us safe for 63 wonderful years. And tomorrow, when Missy is back, we tell her what’s happening, we draw up a battle plan, and we survive, with the memories of tonight a beacon of hope for what life will be again. It may be tough, but we’ll be ok. We’ll always be ok”

At first it was just to humour Jack, but as the bonfire was lit, and the mugs of cocoa passed around, everyone really did start to have fun. Just for that night, they would forget the impending doom and the stress of the past few days. Thete, true to form could play anything they wanted, and they spent the night singing to the stars and dancing to keep warm. As they stood in their circle, watching Qui do the drunk giraffe, panicking as Strax determined the fire was a threat and trying to attack it, and singing the cheesiest songs they could think of, starting with Wonderwall and ending somewhere with Come on Eileen, Yaz felt like crying. She was so happy, she had everything she had ever wanted right there, and it felt like she was about to lose it. After a while they sat in the snow, not caring about getting wet or cold. Thete switched the electric guitar for an acoustic one, playing softly.

Qui sat next to Clara. “We can make a soufflé to celebrate when everything is fixed”
“I will be soufflé girl” she mumbled sleepily. “Chin boy and soufflé girl”
“More like chin boy and impossible girl” he said, chuckling as she tapped the tip of his nose.
“Why?”
“Because it’s impossible to make you stop calling me chin boy”
As the fire burned to embers, it began to grow unbearably cold. Pluto began collecting the empty cocoa mugs, while Martha began healing any small scars from the hot ashes floating in the breeze.
As they packed up, the sound of voices grew louder and closer in the woods.
Missy soon appeared on the path.
“I had thought you would all be in bed by now”
Jack chuckled nervously. It had been his idea, and he didn’t want to get in trouble for it.
Missy shook her head, looking disappointed. “Since you’re all still awake, I might as well introduce you to my friends now” the two men in suits stepped out of the shadows of the forest. One of them looked smart, with dirty blonde, combed hair and a neatly tailored black suit, whereas the other was grinning madly, his dark hair less ordered, and his suit purple and blue and tartan. The pair both wore sunglasses, even in the dark, and Yaz couldn’t sense any emotions from them.
“These are my dear brothers. Meet Master Saxon, and Master O”

Chapter Text

“I don’t trust them” Vastra said. The children were all gathered in the largest bedroom, talking quietly. They were on edge, voices barely audible in the confused whispering. “Missy has never mentioned having brothers, and she lied about who she was meeting”
“Also they were wearing sunglasses” Rory added. “No one wears sunglasses at night”
Thete shrugged. “Maybe they were sonic sunglasses?”
The room went silent as everyone stared at him, confused.
Qui ran his hand through his hair, thinking. “The Roman is right. No one wears sunglasses at night”
“Wights do” River whispered. A cold dread filled the room, like shadows of the hollows tentacles creeping up on the peculiars. Yaz shuddered.
“Missy protects us from Wights. She has no reason at all to bring them here. She an ymbryne” Martha said, failing entirely to convince everyone.
“We stay alert” Thete whispered. The sound of K9’s barks reverberating through the house alerted them to Missy now heading upstairs to ensure everyone was in bed.

Yaz closed the bedroom door as quietly as she could and tiptoed to her bed, holding her breath to listen to the sound of Missy making her way up the stairs of the house. She pulled back the covers and led down, having to suppress a surprised yelp as she realised Jane was already there.
“Go back to your bed until after Missy checks on us”
Jane shook her head, snatching the covers away from Yaz and pulling them closer around her shoulders.
“C’mon Jane you’ll get in trouble”
“ ‘m comfy” Jane mumbled. “If you move me I’ll never be this comfy again”
Yaz sighed. “What if I carried you those four steps to your bed?”
Jane nodded and held out her arms, making it easier for Yaz to pick her up and move her in an awkward stumbling motion to her bed on the other side of the room.
“Stay” Jane mumbled. Her hand was curled around Yaz’s, clinging onto her. Yaz kissed the back of her hand, and then Jane’s forehead, before returning to her side of the room. She wondered if getting in trouble with Missy would have been worth it to stay right there, holding onto Jane. She wouldn’t mind getting told off, but she knew that Missy scared Jane, and she wouldn’t subject her to that.

A few minutes after Missy had gone to her own bed in the attic room, Jane was back by the side of Yaz’s bed, wrapped in blankets.
“You look like a burrito” she whispered. She felt a rush of panic at the sadness she now sensed coming from Jane. Had she offended her? Did they even have burritos in the 50s? Jane’s sniff brought her back to her senses. “I’m sorry. What’s wrong?”
“It feels like everything is changing. I don’t want everything to change”
Yaz moved closer to the wall to make space for Jane. It wasn’t long before they were in a comfortable pile of blankets, wrapped up in each others arms as Yaz drew shapes on Jane’s back.
“Things have been the same here for 63 years. Change is going to be scary”
“What if I’m not happy after things change? I like things the way they are. What if I don’t like what they turn into?”
“You’ll still have me though, yeah? Even if everything is completely different, you’ll still have me”
Jane looked up at her, eyes shining with tears and just a bit of hope.
“You promise?”
Yaz kissed her lightly, still exhilarated at the feeling.
“I promise”

“Guys get up you have got to get downstairs right now”
Yaz blinked, sitting up, confused, followed by Jane next to her. Clara was stood in the middle of the room, beaming excitedly.
“Whoa you two weren’t kidding about sharing a bed were you? This isn’t even the best part of the day, seriously get downstairs, whatever is about to happen, I can guarantee it makes our impending doom and the Masters probably being Wights worth it.”
With that she was gone, running around the other bedrooms to wake anyone else.

“Ok what was so amazing?” Thete grumbled. He was the last to join everyone downstairs, where they were all sitting at the breakfast table. All except Strax, who was standing next to his chair, which was currently occupied by Master Saxon.
“Enemy male has occupied my chair” Strax mumbled.
“Wait until I’m done then”, Saxon said, not looking up from a plate of bacon.
Strax stared hopefully up at Vastra, who gave him a curt nod. He grinned, bouncing excitedly on the balls of his feet.
“Prepare to be ejected from the chair”
Strax cracked his knuckles, and lifted Master Saxon over his head by the lapels of his jacket. He lowered him into the bacon, then carried him across the room and unceremoniously dumped him on the living room floor, where Master O was laughing hysterically.
“You’ve done well with these Missy” he said. “Really cultivated their powers”
He removed his sunglasses, revealing milky white eyes, which surprised no one whatsoever, since it was the middle of winter.
“They’ll make perfect Hollow food”
Everyone gasped. I’m not sure why. It’s not that surprising.
“We waited 78 years for this. Missy, freshly kicked out of the council of ymbrynes by Mayor Raven, discovered a baby and two toddlers. One toddler who could already run, and fast, one who switched language with every sentence and the baby, babbling away to the dogs that sniffed them out. And we had an idea. Mayor Raven would never find out, if we were careful. Missy would take in all the peculiars who came to her, looking after them, farming, until the hollows desperately needed peculiar blood to help them take human shape. There were a few times when we thought she wouldn’t, that she’d gone soft and gotten attached. But time has come children. Of course, hollows can’t enter loops, but outside the loop the whole of Sheffield is ready and waiting for the invisible murderer who took the life of that man and that poor girl. Surrender yourselves now, or we’ll set ourselves loose on the city. And just a bit of extra incentive, Clara, you’re dad is somewhere out there, Yaz, your whole family, wondering if you’ll ever come home, and instead being greeted by my monster. All of you. Of course the family most of you have left is old, they forgot you long ago, they may have not loved you or been loved by you, but you left them, and in doing so”
“We’ll come with you if you stop talking” Thete yelled. Once again, everyone glared at him, then at each other. Yaz’s thoughts were racing, jumping around in her head, like snow in a blizzard. Her family. She had left them, and now they were in danger.
“To protect my family” she mumbled. “My life for my family. I think that’s a fair trade”
Jane grabbed her hand, shaking her head slightly, eyes wide with fear. Yaz couldn’t meet her eyes, looking at the ground apologetically.
“Well me too then” Jane said.
Qui joined them. “My grandad died. I didn’t know anyone else. But Clara loves her dad, even these years later, the way she talks about him”
Clara was staring at him in surprise and confusion. “Qui, what are you doing?”
“I’ll go with you, for Clara’s dad, if that means she won’t have to”
Clara punched him lightly on the shoulder.
“You’re a noble idiot, they want all of us. Good romantic gesture though”.
Master Saxon groaned. “How touching. Could we hurry up with the confessions of love and sacrifices so we can get on with the plan”
“Don’t worry about it mate” Bill said, her arms crossed over her chest. “I think we’re all coming. Our lives to save a city, yeah?”
“Frankly I was going to run away. Wish I’d never met you guys. I was much better off as a coward” Jack said, smiling wistfully. “Maybe this is a good ending for us”

Once outside the sense of bravado dropped. The feeling of comradery turned into everyone wondering who’s dumb idea this was.
“There’s 17 of us” Vastra said, holding onto Jenny. “Maybe we can take down the hollow?”
“17 of us against a hollow?” Jenny muttered. “We don’t stand a chance”
Yaz stared at Missy, hoping desperately for something. Some sign that Missy was playing her brothers, that she was about to stab them in the back and tell everyone that she was sorry for scaring them but everything would be alright. Missy’s eyes met hers and for a brief second she thought she felt something. Sadness? Guilt? She wasn’t sure, it was gone as quickly as it had appeared, pushed away to return her to the cold, emotionless woman who had raised these children as her own just for the purposes of sacrificing them. Hiding somewhere, K9 whined.
“He can hear footsteps” Rose whispered.
“May I suggest a last minute review of tactics?” Strax asked. He didn’t sound nervous. For a little boy he sounded like he was a soldier. “Perhaps we could at least attempt to fight”
“Perhaps we could” Pluto mumbled. “Perhaps we could”
So as the footsteps approached, freezing just metres away, the air crackled with painful tension. The only sound was breathing, the hollow’s was the loudest, coming out in deep sighs and low growls. An eternity passed, almost frozen in time, the calm before the storm. That was when it leaped towards them, claws raking trees and marks where it slipped a little in the mud being the only indication of where it was. Then came the first handful of the muddy, silty clay from the bottom of the stream, hitting it in the chest. An angry hiss filled the air, followed by a whine of disappointment that it’s food was fighting back.
“Keep throwing the mud!” Someone yelled from the middle of the group. “We can see it!”
More mud was launched into the air, mostly missing, but a few landing on the target, until there was enough that they could tell where it was. It was their turn to charge, hitting it with everything they could. Thick, black blood began oozing from each wound as it screeched in frustration, stumbling backwards and lashing out at them with its claws. Most of its scratches made contact, but were rarely deep and in the adrenaline of the fight most went unnoticed. There was a loud splash as the hollow stumbled into the stream, the blood running into the water, turning it a murky grey. Strax ran over with the biggest grin any of them had seen on the boys face and he pinned it down with the heaviest rocks he could find. Eventually the creature stopped writhing, what was visible of the tentacles went still, and they breathed a sigh of relief, watching as Vastra plunged a broken glass bottle, the closest thing she could find to a knife, into it’s neck.

Yaz looked up for Jane, meeting her eyes with a bright smile and a sigh of relief. Jane’s face fell, instantly becoming a look of panic and fear. Yaz looked down, only just noticed the blood stain rapidly soaking through her clothes. The sight took a few seconds to process, first confusion, then worry, then pain. The worst pain Yaz had ever felt, tearing through her, consuming her. Her knees buckled, her head thudded against the damp ground. She cried out, and for a few seconds another hollow flickered into view. Of course. Another wave of pain washed over her and she cried out again. Every wight had a hollow, there were two masters, there had to be two hollows. Her vision swam and turned cloudy, Jane just visible, being held back from running straight to her, and straight to the hollow standing over her. She blinked back tears. She had promised Jane they would be alright. The hollows footsteps moved away, running towards the others just as Jane broke free of her friends grip, coming to sit at Yaz’s side, taking her hand. Everything went dark.

Jane stood up, her face a mask of fury.
“Distract it, confuse it, whatever you have to do, just don’t let it move from that spot” she hissed to the others. It wasn’t a difficult task, with everyone having spent over 6 decades learning to make the most annoying noises to annoy each other, at least until River threatened to remove their memories of the sound. Thete’s singing and Pluto’s yelling in every language, combined with Clara’s shadows, Qui’s jumping, John’s running and Bill’s teleporting was confusing enough without everyone else charging around. Jane took a deep breath, Yaz’s weak breathing next to her spurring her on as she felt around the dirt for any plant roots she could find.
“Come one plants, you’re supposed to be my friends” she whispered, her fingers closing around the root of a tree. “Grow for me. Yaz is hurt, I told you guys about Yaz right? She’s perfect, I think I love her, and that hollow hurt her. So please grow. Grow right where the hollow is. Trap it’s limbs with your branches, pull it apart if you have to, or suffocate it. Up to you. For me?”
She felt the warm buzzing under her fingertips before hearing the groaning and creaking of a rapidly growing tree, shrubs and branches wrapping tighter and tighter around the hollow. It screeched, so loud Jane could feel it in her bones and went still as the last plant covered it’s face, forming a tree, shaped almost perfectly like the hollow. Jane brushed the sweat from her brow, shaking from the exertion and turning to Yaz, who had now closed her eyes.
“I did it Yaz. I killed it. You’re gonna be okay”
No response. Jane brushed Yaz’s hair away from her face and kissed her forehead.
“Open your eyes, Yaz. Please, you promised,” tears were running down her face now, and she looked at the others, their horrified faces. “Martha heal her.”
Martha placed her hand on Jane’s shoulder.
“I’m sorry I don’t think I’m strong enough, I don’t know if I can”
Jane slapped Martha’s hand away, staring at her defiantly.
“Well try” she hissed.
Martha glared at her, then knelt by Yaz’s side, focussing on her work as Jane was pulled away by Clara and Qui to give her space.
“She’ll be okay. Martha’s better than the thinks she is”
“I suppose so”
“Well this has been very fun but we had better be going before you maniacs turn on me”
Missy stood up, brushing herself off. The Masters were already sprinting towards the tunnel into the loop. Roots sprang from the ground, trapping Master Saxon, who fell, sprawled on the ground. Master O carried on running, disappearing in the dark of the tunnel. Missy laughed nervously, transforming into a crow and spreading her wings, preparing to launch herself into the air. She crowed in surprise as Bill’s hands closed around her, and teleported her back to the group, where River was erasing Master Saxon’s memories.
They looked around, realising that with all the noise they’d been making they probably didn’t have long before someone appeared to ask them what was going on. Jane glanced over at Martha and Yaz. Martha shook her head.
“I healed the wound, there’s just a scar now, but she lost a lot of blood. She needs rest, we should go back to the house”

The first thing that hit them as they entered the loop was the overpowering smell of smoke, followed by the stinging in their eyes. They sat at the edge of the forest, watching mournfully as their beloved home was burning. Rory nearly exhausted himself trying to put it out, Amy protected herself with her own fire while she retrieved everything she could, books, clothes, blankets and any photo albums she could find. The fire had already burned the plants in the greenhouse to ash, and the glass was shattered by the heat, and Master O was nowhere to be seen.

By midnight the house was reduced to the charred shell of their home, and Yaz was finally waking up, her head in Jane’s lap.
“What did I miss?” She whispered, with a small laugh.
Jane looked down, smiling broadly.
“I love you. Never do that again”
“I’ll try not to”
Yaz sat up weakly, thankful that Jane was partially holding up. Jane pulled her closer, kissing her and tracing her fingers across the scar running across her abdomen.
Yaz pulled back, catching her breath.

Clara and Qui were in charge of watching Missy. They had tied her wings down so that she couldn’t turn back into a human.
“I don’t think she can reset the loop as a bird” Clara murmured. “Normally when the loop resets it starts snowing”
Qui shrugged. “So we grow up I guess”
Clara stretched up, kissing him. He stared at her in surprise, then kissed her back, unsure what to do with his hands.
“We grow up together”

Thete stood in front of the group. The sun was rising and for the first time in years it was the 16th of December.
“I don’t know where we go from here. But there could be more places like ours out there, traps for peculiars solely for feeding the hollows. We need to warn Mayor Raven, and soon. We can jump between loops to find her, if anyone wants to come”
Jane took Yaz’s hand, kissing the back of it.
“You coming?”
“Anywhere with you”