The Doctor and team were scattered around the console room, taking a moment after a recent adventure that involved a runaway Terraxian spaceship and a group of homicidal tree-like things, and everyone was contemplative as the Tardis whirred on reassuringly. Graham was snoring quietly in a corner, his head down on his chest. Yaz and Ryan sat on the stairs, leaning against each other, watching the Doctor dither over some loose wire underneath the console.
Overall, it had been a surprisingly uneventful endeavor to get the trees to calm down and release their hold on the ship’s supply of vegetables. Just a bit of empathy and some good clean water were all it took.
Yaz is quiet, but her thoughts are anything but. She’d been on edge all day. And it was no one’s fault but her own.
Well, that wasn’t strictly true. But the other party was a seemingly unwitting participant. Unrequited…what, lust? Love? All of the above, was it? Her mind was in turmoil.
Yaz had been stealing glances at the Doctor when she hoped no one was looking, unable to resist the pull the woman had on her. She didn’t know how she was going to stay sane in the grip of this infatuation. It was eating her up inside with every passing day, and reducing her to a wanton, panting mess every night, alone in her bedroom on the Tardis. She felt like an orbiting planet and the Doctor was the sun, all bright and full of heat and magnetism. If she wasn’t careful, Yaz was sure she would burn up. Could you get an ulcer from pining? She reckoned so. Yaz watched the time lord as she puttered, a wistful look on her face.
Ryan nudged her. “Penny for your thoughts, Khan?” he spoke low, his head tilted as he looked her way.
“There’s not much happening up there, I’m afraid.” she responded.
Ryan looked pointedly at the Doctor, who was now trying to pry open a panel that looked as if it hadn’t been open in a millennia. Her goggles sat askew on her head and her hair was mussed. Her tongue stuck out in determination. Yaz smiled crookedly as she watched her. Ryan raised his eyebrows at Yaz.
“I say that’s rubbish. There’s a whole lot happening up there, mate.” he elbowed her gently again and proceeded to waggle his eyebrows even more.
Yaz slapped him and said, “I have no idea what you could be on about.”
He looked directly at her and said, “Whatever you say, love.” Yaz blushed.
At that moment, the Tardis blared a distress beacon. They had been preparing to circle back to Earth for some needed downtime. The Doctor checked a screen and noted that it was coming from Earth anyway, somewhere in the north of Scotland, so they may as well check it out.
“Two birds, one stone and all that. Or, two Earths, one trip? No, that’s not quite right. Two Britains, one…Tardis? Hmm. One Earth…” She trailed off, he faced scrunched up in concentration. “Dunno, lost me train of thought.” The Doctor peeled off her goggles and flipped the lever to send the Tardis to the destination.
Yaz smiled into her own shoulder at the way the alien’s crazy brain worked. She loved listening to the endless nattering. It was comforting, like a favorite song.
As they touched down, Ryan, Yaz, Graham and the Doctor crowded into the doorway of the blue police box and found themselves looking out at deep snowdrifts, sparkling in the light of a partial moon. In the distance, a small but charming house sat perched on the top of a low rise, glowing warmly from lighted windows. A little stream was off to the left, water moving languidly, quietly. There was a large outcropping of stone sitting in the middle of the water. Despite the picturesque scene, everything was very still and a little too serene for Yaz’s liking. There was no wind, no birdsong, no noises one would normally expect in nature.
The Doctor, who had been silently observing the scene, spoke softly from directly behind Yaz’s left shoulder: “Well, isn’t this lovely?” Her breath tickled the skin on Yaz’s neck and she shivered, realizing how close the Doctor was, noticing the heat from her body pressed up against her back. Yaz reflexively leaned back and had to struggle not to let her eyelids slip shut from the sensation. God was she in trouble here.
“Cold, Yaz?” The Doctor murmured, noticing Yaz’s reaction. She placed a hand on the younger woman’s arm, rubbing briskly up and down as if trying to warm her up. Yaz couldn’t get any warmer then she already was. She suppressed another shudder and felt herself getting wet between her legs. Fuck, the woman could turn her on at the slightest touch.
Yaz finally found her voice. “Not yet, but it looks like we’re going to be in a mo’.” She turned to Ryan and threw him a dimpled smirk. Ryan hated the cold with a passion.
The Doctor hadn’t removed her hand and was absentmindedly brushing her thumb back and forth across Yaz’s tricep. Yaz pressed her thighs together and tried not to sigh.
“Oh, bollocks, do we have to go out there? Everything seems perfectly fine.” Ryan gestured toward the landscape outside. At that moment, a piercing howl erupted out in the darkness. It sounded suspiciously wolf-like. Ryan’s hand froze and then dropped to his side dejectedly.
“You were saying?” The Doctor moved her hand from Yaz’s arm and scanned the open night quickly with her sonic, studying it with a pensive frown.
“No readings. Guess we’ll have to get out there and explore. Fancy a trudge through the snow, fam? Let’s go grab some more appropriate togs.” She sniffed the outside air thoughtfully. “Oooh! Christmas! Excellent!” With that pronouncement, and with an ear-to-ear smile stuck firmly in place, she turned and raced toward the wardrobe. Graham and the rest just shook their heads and strolled off in her wake.
After securing some winter gear and jumping out the door and into the snow, the team briefly looked around the area where the Tardis had landed. The snow was powdery and soft, and Yaz trailed her hand through it as she wandered down to the creek. She peered into the water, admiring the beauty of the stars in the reflection. She started when she heard a loud splash coming from just around the bend in the stream.
“He—llo?” she called haltingly, feeling like a bit of a wanker. “Someone there? Are you all right? Uhm…need help?” No response, just the rippling water. Yaz turned to head back to the group. She heard another, quieter sound and spun back around, peering into the murky black of the big river stone’s shadow. For just a moment, she spied two bright discs of gold flashing in the dark, reflecting light back to her from the moon. They looked…like eyes. Animal eyes. She pressed her lips together tightly and started taking steps backwards. Feeling even more foolish, she felt compelled to bow toward the stone, hoping that whatever was lurking in the shadows looked favorably on deference. The lights blinked out. Yaz didn’t see anything more but nonetheless she kept her eyes on the stone until it was out of sight around the hill.
She walked (well, maybe jogged) back to the group and told them what she’d seen.
“Must’a been tha’ howlin’ we heard,” Ryan said, “Hope it’s had its meals for the day.” He swallowed audibly, turning in a circle to look out into the night.
The Doctor was looking at Yaz. “You alright?” Yaz tipped her what she hoped was a jaunty salute. The corners of the Doctor’s mouth quirked up and she bobbed her head in approval.
“Right then, gang. On to the house?” They all nodded. “Ok, on we go.”
The team set their sights on the house. They waded through the deep drifts, Ryan grumbling the whole time that his jeans were getting soaked through. They finally tromped up onto the porch, stomping their feet to free them of the snow that had caked on and slapping their arms with their hands to keep the circulation going. They walked along the porch and peered inside through the lighted windows, teeth chattering. It didn’t appear anyone was home, though there was a roaring fire in the grate. The interior however, was positively bursting to capacity with Christmas decorations. Tinsel, bows, little snowmen figurines, candles everywhere, and a Christmas tree, twinkling merrily in the far corner.
Ryan pointed to the windowsill just in front of him.
“That’s something I haven’t seen before. New kind of holiday decoration?” he said. On the sill lay a fish, brown and speckled. It looked very fresh. Very. Yaz shivered, remembering the eyes in the dark.
Graham peered over Ryan’s shoulder. “That looks like a trout, that does. Y’know I did a bit of fishing in my day.” Ryan rolled his eyes. Graham continued, “Maybe the trout’s for whatever was off howlin’ in the night?”
The Doctor was examining the doorframe as if it was a mysterious artifact and not a regular old wooden door, but looked around at the mention of the fish. “How delightful!” she trilled, stepping over and bending down to get uncomfortably close to the fish. Yaz couldn’t help but laugh and shake her head at her friend’s reaction. You could always count on the Doctor to call something as inane as a dead fish “delightful”. The Doctor looked her way and knocked her a wink, holding her gaze for longer than Yaz expected. Yaz dropped her eyes, felt the blush rising into her cheeks, and hoped everyone would blame the chill.
The Doctor glanced back to the sonic. “Hmmm, not getting any lifeform readings. Why all the lights on then? Where did everybody go?” She eyed the fish warily, like it was going to suddenly pipe up and confess to making everyone disappear.
Just then, her sonic started flickering and making noises. It was even shaking visibly in the Doctor’s hand. She looked at it, scrunching up her face, confused.
“Well, it’s never done that before.” She squinted briefly at the fish again and then puffed out a breath.
“Maybe—“ Before she could say anything more, the Tardis cranked and wheezed behind them in the field of snow, and began to dissipate from view.
“What?” The Doctor shouted. “WHAT? Oi! Where d’ya think you’re going?!” She ran down the porch steps but stopped abruptly as the Tardis vanished. The Doctor’s sonic shook again. She looked down, her eyebrows knitted together. “Well, I never. Bloody cheek.”
“Doc. Did the Tardis just leave us stranded?” Graham said warily. She stepped backward until her boot caught the bottom step and she whirled and hopped lightly back up to the porch. She looked paler than usual.
“Maybe she just had a previous appointment?” her brows furrowed. “I’m not sure what’s going on here, but let’s try to be as quiet as possible and not disturb whatever’s giving my sonic a proper fit. I’m usually dead good for Christmastime, but something about this house definitely does NOT give me holiday cheer.” The Doctor tapped one delicate finger against her pursed mouth, looking back to where the Tardis had been. She said softly, “what are you up to, old girl?”
Yaz shuffled her feet, unconsciously moving to keep her legs warm in the deep cold of the night. Her breath billowed in front of her in the frigid air. She wrapped the borrowed down coat from the TARDIS tighter around her. Her movements caused the Doctor to look her way again, and the older woman smiled when she saw Yaz had been watching her. Yaz felt heat pooling in her stomach and at her core. Her breath hitched. Then the Doctor’s eyes darted up and her mouth fell open in horror.