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Those By Her Side

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The air was particularly foggy and dull, and the Doctor had to squint to try and see beyond the reach of her TARDIS. She saw houses, streets and factories in the distance, but the fog was too thick to make out anything substantial. Besides, it wasn’t like this time period was especially colourful anyway.

“Okay, we’re ready,” shouted Graham from inside the TARDIS.

The Doctor stood leaning against the outside of the TARDIS, talking to her as she waited. She had forgotten how long it took humans in the wardrobe, despite the TARDIS having already picked out something appropriate for them all.

She brushed down the dark blue panels of the TARDIS door, snapping her hand away when the door flew open.

“Be careful! If you break Sexy, I’ll feed you to the Daleks,” warned the Doctor.

She changed her tune when she saw Ryan and Graham. Ryan looked reluctant in his ‘costume’, frowning when the Doctor cheered him. Graham looked much more comfortable and brushed down the fabric of his jacket with a smile.

“Don’t you look like fine young gentlemen,” she cooed with a clap of her hands.

Graham and Ryan wore brown suits with work shirts, waist coats and thick boots. Graham wore a bow tie too, much to the Doctor’s intense delight. She was more speechless when Yasmin revealed herself, grumbling about corsets. Yasmin’s burgundy dress was low at the neckline, sleeveless and flowy. She wore her hair down her shoulders, curled from the plaits she wore on their previous adventure. She blushed when the Doctor complimented her eccentrically.

“Aren’t you going to dress up?” asked Yasmin.

“Nah, no one notices what I wear. Maybe it’s the confidence,” shrugged the Doctor.

“Yeah, that must be it,” said Ryan, as he looked at the rainbow t-shirt, hooded coat and suspenders.

“Where even are we?” asked Graham, seeing only unfamiliar roads and too-close together houses. For once, he knew for a fact that they were on Earth, but he was only sure because the Doctor promised another historical trip.

“Victorian London, 1888. Early September, if I’m right. Important time, can’t remember why,” said the Doctor, breathing in the un-fresh air.

“Oh, cool!” said Graham.

“Yaz, remember that London trip we went on?” grinned Ryan.

“Oh, yeah! Mrs Jones screamed at us ‘cause we thought it would be a good idea to sneak into London Dungeons,” laughed Yasmin.

“You were so scared,” teased Ryan.

“Oi, I was like ten. Besides, look at me now, actually running after aliens!” said Yasmin.

Ryan laughed at her, walking ahead to prove that he was braver than she was. Yasmin rolled her eyes, crossing her arms. She shivered and rubbed them with her hands, which didn’t go unnoticed by Graham.

“You’re going to catch a cold,” fussed Graham, holding out his jacket.

Yasmin rolled her eyes fondly, “I’ll be fine, Graham.”

“You didn’t offer me your jacket,” complained Ryan, who was walking beside his grandad.

“You’re not the one who’ll get thrown in jail, probably for being a prostitute,” quipped the Doctor, who was walking at Yasmin’s side.

Graham and Ryan sniggered, but Yasmin’s mouth fell open in offense. Her face grew a deep shade of red, which the Doctor was oblivious to.

“Doctor!” Yasmin whined, her voice increasing an octave.

“What? Oh, should I not have said that? I didn’t mean that you’re a prostitute Yaz, just that the fashion of the twenty first century is very different to now. Though that dress isn’t exactly modest, maybe the equivalent of a bra and fishnets to you lot,” explained the Doctor.

That made Ryan lose it, Graham bury his head in his hands, and Yasmin blush even harder. The Doctor, however, threw her head from side to side as she took in her surroundings, unaware that she had only dug herself a deeper hole. She was instantly forgiven, however, when the Doctor grabbed a hold of Yasmin’s hand and gently tugged her forward, excited to show her around the corner.

The streets were a maze, but the Doctor knew exactly where she was going. The roads, alleyways and courtyards were lit by a mere gas lamp, which would put them in the pitch black if it had been night, not the evening. Ryan stepped out of the way when a man called out, herding his cattle down the cobblestone roads. Horrid smells drifted down the street in the wind, which made all of them gag, except the Doctor, who seemed overly pleased to be there.

They walked past a pub, with life crawling outside of the doors. Men laughed and bellowed inside, the sound coming through the walls. Some men stood outside, each one giving Yasmin a glance. She felt Graham tapping her on the shoulder, offering her his jacket once again. She took it gratefully this time.

“So, what’s there to see in Victorian London?” asked Graham.

“Oh, there’s so much! There’s a curiosities house nearby, the shrunken heads are popular around here! We could go find a mesmerism show, one of us could get hypnotised, always wanted to try that! Oh, or maybe a séance,” said the Doctor excitably.

Graham made a face, “Or maybe we could just get a drink in the pub?”

The Doctor scrunched up her face, “Yeah, I guess we can start with that. But we’re gonna have to be married. Yaz you get Ryan, I’ll take Graham.”

“You’re a bit young for me Doc,” laughed Graham.

“Nonsense! I’m thousands of years older than you,”

They’d taken seats at the bar, the Doctor swinging her legs against the bar stool. Graham and Ryan ordered gins, whereas the Doctor went for a cocktail. Yasmin, unsure of what was acceptable for her to drink, ordered the same as the Doctor. She was relieved when the bartender handed their drinks to them without any weird looks.

“Have you ever been in a Victorian pub before?” Ryan asked the Doctor, curiously.

“A few times. I had a mate who was a Victorian barmaid once. And some friends took me to one down the road from here, a few regenerations ago. Oh, I must introduce you to them, lovely bunch.”

They sat laughing for hours, until eventually Ryan let out a loud yawn. It seemed to bring over the barmaid, who told them they were closing soon, and it would be best if they got home before it got too dark. The Doctor paid, though complained that none of her friends carried the right currency and lead them back onto the street.

“I suppose we can always do something more Victorian tomorrow,” suggested the Doctor.

“Sure Doc. So, are we going back to the TARDIS now?” asked Graham.

“What?” the Doctor almost looked offended, “Of course not! You sleep on the TARDIS every day! We’re going to get a real taste of Victorian London.”

“So…where are we staying?” asked Yasmin.

“Come on fam, there’s a charming inn we can stay at, guy owes me a few favours,” said the Doctor with an excited grin.

The Doctor pulled Ryan forward and he protested, bringing Graham along with him. Yasmin was about to chase after them but was distracted by some shouts beside her. The gated drive of a factory they’d past was full of shouts and cheers as men began to say goodbye.

Yasmin jumped back when the crowd from the factory swarmed in front of her. They’d charged out of the door drunkenly, all at once. One pushed her in an eagerness to get home, and she lost her footing. Once she regained her balance, she decided to wait for the men to disperse before attempting to walk through them, especially as they were all at least a foot taller than her and very much stronger.

When the last one had vanished down the street, Yasmin looked around for the group. Her eyes widened when she realised that Ryan, Graham and the Doctor had all disappeared. She spun around on the spot, searching for them. They had left her, possibly without even realising she had been left behind.

“Doctor?” asked Yasmin, careful not to draw any unwanted attention. She’d studied Jekyll and Hyde; she knew anyone out on the streets this late would definitely not be looking for a friendly chat.

“Graham? Ryan?” she tried but, just like the Doctor, neither of the boys had heard her.

She looked over her shoulder in a panic but found nothing lurking in the darkness behind her. Yasmin flinched every time a dog howled or a child cried in the distance. Every shadow that was cast over her made her cower away. She hadn’t realised how dark it had gotten.

The lights of the pub went dim as the owner locked the doors, giving her a funny look when he saw her standing outside. She contemplated asking him for help, but he’d already pulled down the blinds.

“Why did you guys have to wander off?” whined Yasmin, pulling Graham’s jacket tighter around her.

She found an alleyway that looked vaguely familiar and decided to see what was at the other side. Maybe that’s where the others had wandered, or perhaps she’d find the TARDIS. It looked reasonably lit, so Yasmin checked behind her once more before making her way through it. The alley was surrounded by red bricks, a dirt path below her feet. She wondered if these streets were as scary in the day.

Yasmin gasped when she heard what sounded like footsteps behind her. She whipped around, breathing heavily, but couldn’t see anything. She struggled to stay calm, turning her walk into a subtle jog.

The footsteps grew louder and Yasmin panicked. She looked around, but the alleyway only gave her the option of walking towards whatever was approaching or walking further into the dark. She opted for the dark, hoping desperately that her friends would come for her.

She felt something on her shoulder, like breath, and it made the hairs on the back of her neck stand up. Yasmin chocked back a sob when she saw the shadow of a tall man behind her; who was obviously neither Graham nor Ryan.

Yasmin tried to scream, and her mouth formed the names of her friends, but no sound came out. A piece of fabric was placed around her mouth to silence her and she gagged. After struggling, she managed to rip away the fabric, but not before she felt a blade pressed into her cheek.

“Don’t try and run,” said a gruff, strange voice.

“Doctor!” screamed Yasmin, listening helplessly as it echoed through the alley, to go unheard by anyone who could help her.

He trailed the knife along her cheek, causing her to sharply inhale. He seemed to enjoy her reaction, as he brushed it lightly over her skin, and down to her neck. Yasmin squeezed her eyes shut, preparing for the worst.

“You don’t have to do this,” she breathed.

“Didn’t yer father ever teach you to be quiet?” came the response.

He repositioned the knife, and Yasmin couldn’t help but let a sob escape her mouth. She had been so, so sure that the Doctor would save her. That’s what she did, wasn’t it? Would she really save all those people, and all those planets, but not her?

“Please, let me go,” she whispered.

“What did I say?” he bellowed, causing her to shrink down.

Her legs trembled as he held her in place. One had drifted down to her leg and Yasmin hated the fact that he was probably enjoying how shaky she was. His hand brushed her lower thigh, then higher, and she tried to pull away.

“Oi!” She heard in the distance. She knew, miserably, that it wasn’t the Doctor.

Whoever it was, caused enough intimidation for the attacker to flee without putting up a fight. Yasmin wondered who was worse than this man and who would inevitably leave her bleeding even worse in the street.

The knife was taken from her skin, but Yasmin could still feel the threatening cold against it. She shuddered but was grateful that there was only a small trickle of blood. She was barely aware that someone had chased off the attacker, in amidst of her shock. She heard the footsteps fade, and new ones approach.

Yasmin struggled to regulate her breath and became increasingly worried about having a panic attack. What if she was carted away before the Doctor even knew what happened to her, or worse, she died in Victorian London, long before she was born? Would that mean she never existed? Yasmin began to pace.

“Are you aight, love?”

Yasmin spun around, hands outstretched to defend herself. She relaxed slightly when she noticed a small, concerned woman, but her time with the Doctor had taught her to be weary of everyone.

“Stay back,” she called out, her voice echoing through the dully lit alley.

The woman chuckled, “You’re definitely not from around here, are ya? Don’t worry, I don’t bite.”

The woman approached with hands held up in defence when she saw Yasmin stumble. She fell into the wall and pushed herself upright with her hand.

“Listen, you need help Miss. You’ve had a terrible fright,” said the woman.

“No, no, no time to stop,” mumbled Yasmin, consciously aware that she was hundreds of years into her past, in shock, and alone with a strange woman she didn’t know.

“We have a nurse, he can clean you up,” offered the woman, gesturing to Yasmin’s bleeding palms and then to the cuts her attacker had left on her cheek and neck.

“He? That’s progressive,” mused Yasmin shakily.

The woman gave a soft smile, “It’s all he’s good for really. Now, why don’t you tell me your name?”

“I’m Yasmin, Yaz to friends,” said Yasmin.

“Yaz, I like it. My name’s Jenny. Now, why don’t you tell me why you’re here all alone? It’s not respectable for a young woman such as yourself to be alone at night, let alone safe. But I suppose you’ve already figured that out,” said Jenny.

“I, er, don’t come here often. I lost my friends,” said Yasmin, feeling conscious of her growing distress.

“No, I can tell. Come back to mine, get cleaned up and have a cuppa. Then we’ll see about finding your mates. Lucky for you, I happen to know quite the detective,” said Jenny.

Yasmin, in the end, gratefully agreed to Jenny’s hospitality. She felt much safer following her down the winding streets, especially as the woman seemed to know exactly what she was doing. She stuck to the lamps, just kept quiet enough as to avoid suspicion. She saw Yasmin slowing down and frowned.

“Are you alright?” asked Jenny.

“Yeah,” said Yasmin shakily, “I just feel a little fuzzy. And my mouth is really dry.”

“That’s not good. Just hang on until we’re home, it’s only a short walk,” encouraged Jenny.

Jenny half-dragged Yasmin down the alleyway, the woman holding a torch in her hand, until they saw light on the other side. The alleyway took them to a row of houses very close together. The one in the middle, however, was much larger than the others. A wagon was sat outside of the house, stacks of hay beside it. Yasmin read ‘13’ on the door, but she couldn’t be sure, as she thought she may be hallucinating.

Jenny rasped on the door using the lion door knocker, propping Yasmin up beside her. They waited in silence for a few moments until the door opened, revealing Strax on the other side.

“You’re not a Victorian man,” breathed Yasmin, trying to work out if he was real or not.

“Affirmative. Who’s the boy?” asked Strax, stepping aside to let them in.

“Someone who needs help,” answered Jenny.

They made their way into the living room, Yasmin touching the abundance of plants on the way. Vastra was waiting for them, sitting cross-legged on her arm chair.

“Stop bringing home strays, Jenny, especially if you won’t let me play with them,” whined the woman coyly.

“Ma’am, please! She’s shaken up, poor dear. Her name’s Yasmin,” said Jenny.

“What happened to the boy?” asked Strax, who appeared from behind Vastra.

“Run in with our friend Jack,” said Jenny gravely.

“You mean Jack the Ripper?” asked Yasmin, her mouth hanging open.

“Yeah,” confirmed Jenny with a shudder.

“Oh, cool I read about him. Er, I mean, I heard about him. From, from the neighbours,” said Yasmin, who was beginning to break a sweat.

“You don’t belong here,” commented Vastra, accusingly.

“I don’t,” admitted Yasmin, blinking rapidly to steady her vision.

The woman placed her gloved hands over her black lace veil. She drew it down behind her head, revealing a scaly, green face. Her eyes sparkled darkly when Yasmin’s mouth fell open. Her eyes widened but she didn’t seem too shocked, which Vastra took as a clue.

“As I expected. So, dear Yasmin, may I ask who brought you here?” asked Vastra.

Yasmin frowned, seeing double of the reptile woman. Her green skin and black clothes blurred into one, and Yasmin found it difficult to concentrate.

“The Doctor?” asked Jenny hopefully.

“Doctor who?” asked Yasmin, just before her eyes rolled back and she collapsed into a heap on the floor.

Vastra gave Jenny a look, which her wife returned eagerly.

“Jenny, find Yasmin somewhere to rest. Meanwhile, I expect we should find the Doctor on our doorstep soon, no doubt with even more trouble,” said Vastra.

Strax rolled his eyes dramatically, “I’ll tidy up then.”

Vastra paced around the living room, waiting for a visit from the man they had all hoped would show up. It had been a long time since he had last made an appearance in Victorian London. In truth, the Paternoster gang missed him. Domestic life was plainer than any of them had anticipated. Vastra was jealous of the girl who’d turned up at the door, taken from her time. There was an excitement held in the eyes of travellers that Vastra no longer saw in her own. She envied the girl who saw everything she didn’t. Well, she would’ve, if the girl hadn’t been targeted by Jack the Ripper, nearly killed and drugged.

The door bell sounded, drawing all of the gang’s attention. Jenny offered to answer it, but Vastra decided to instead. She made her way to the entrance hall, seeing shadows through the door’s windows. She unlocked it and opened it, quietly excited.

A woman, short and blonde, stood outside their door. Beside her stood an older gentleman and a much younger, both bouncing nervously at her side. Vastra would’ve struggled to pinpoint which one was her life-long friend if she hadn’t known the alien so well, but her eyes went straight to the woman.

“You knew it was me then?” said the Doctor, seemingly disappointed that her new body didn’t fool her friends.

“Your clothes don’t exactly scream Victorian values,” commented Vastra.

“I thought you’d be slightly more surprised,” said the Doctor with a pout.

“You don’t surprise me anymore. I must say, I don’t know why you didn’t try out this body sooner,” said Vastra, dragging her eyes slowly up the Doctor’s body.

The Doctor grinned and pulled Vastra into a hug, which she reluctantly accepted. The Doctor wasn’t used to being much shorter than the woman, and it made their hug clumsy. Neither minded though.

“I didn’t know there were aliens in London,” said Ryan, his face a wide, excited grin.

“Don’t be rude,” scolded Graham.

“No need for the veil then?” Vastra said to the Doctor.

The Doctor flailed her arms, “Of course not! These are my com-er, friends, Graham and Ryan. Top lads they are, you’ll love them. But we really need your help, it’s urgent.”

“Pleasure to meet you,” smiled Vastra, “and I’m perfectly aware that you need our assistance.”

“How?” asked the Doctor with a head tilt.

“I think we may have something that belongs to you,” commented Vastra.

Ryan, Graham and the Doctor’s eyes lit up and they all perked up immediately.

“Pretty short?” offered Ryan.

“Pretty stubborn?” added Graham.

“Pretty,” said the Doctor, though regretted it when everyone turned to look at her.

“Yes, that would be the one. I’d have gotten acquainted with her but you know, married,” shrugged Vastra, showing off her golden wedding band.

“They always seem to find you,” mused the Doctor.

“What can I say? We’re excellent hosts. Jenny found her wandering," explained Vastra.

"Yeah, I was taking these lot to Esther and Hugo's inn, but I turned around and she was gone. We spent the past few hours looking for her, I was so worried," said the Doctor, a genuine frown on her face.

"We kept her safe, don't worry. I suppose we should reunite you, however I must warn you that Strax is looking her over,” said Vastra.

The Doctor’s eyes snapped up to Vastra, and it almost made the reptile woman laugh. It was typical of the Doctor to care so dearly for humans, it was a trait Vastra had grown to share with her. This seemed different though; Vastra could see it in the Doctor’s gentle brown eyes. She flicked her forked tongue in amusement.

“Is she hurt?” demanded the Doctor.

“She’s fine…just some minor things,” said Vastra with a flourish.

The Doctor sighed with relief and threw open the door. Vastra hissed when it slammed into the wall it was attached to but allowed her to walk into their living room regardless. Ryan and Graham peered over her shoulder. The Doctor didn’t pause to say hi to either Jenny or Strax, who were both bewildered at her recent regeneration.

“Yaz!” The Doctor cried once she saw her companion sitting on an arm chair in the living room.

Strax was sitting beside her, growing annoyed when Yasmin tried to press every button on his scanner. Her pupils were dilated; reflecting the green light from the screen. Strax tried to wrestle it from her, but her sad expression made him hesitate. She looked away from Strax when she heard her name called.

“Doctor,” slurred Yasmin, a lazy grin on her face.

“What have you done to her?” asked the Doctor worriedly.

“You can blame that Jack bloke for this,” said Jenny.

Yasmin jumped up from her seat and stumbled over to the Doctor. Her legs could barely carry her, and she was relieved to find the Doctor’s warm arms engulfing her. Yasmin sighed gentle, the sort of sound you make before you fall asleep and collapsed into the Doctor’s arms.

“Whoa,” said the Doctor, tightening her grip on Yasmin.

The companion dropped like a rag doll, limp in her arms. Her face relaxed once her eyes had closed and her nose twitched in unconsciousness. Her body curled into the Doctor’s, head resting against the alien’s chest. The Doctor thumbed the cuts on Yasmin’s cheek and neck. The others noticed how dangerously quiet she became as she watched over her companion.

“It’s good to see that they still fall for you,” said Vastra with a smirk.

“Will she be okay?” asked Ryan as he, Graham and the Doctor lifted her back onto the arm chair, which she settled into.

“A small dose of chloroform. He’ll be up and about in an hour, maybe less,” confirmed Strax.

“Thank Gallifrey,” breathed the Doctor, stroking her hair off her face.

They all settled into chairs in the living room, Strax having taken a tea order, once Vastra had offered a room to them until Yasmin had recovered. Ryan had taken a shine to Vastra and had sat down next to her.

“So, what species are you?” asked Ryan.

Graham buried his head in his hands, “I’m sorry.”

“No need. Humans offer just as much curiosity to me. I’m a Silurian,” said Vastra.

“What are you doing in Victorian London, then?” Ryan asked.

“The Doctor saved me a long time ago. He taught me not to take violence and revenge on those who don’t deserve it. I saved the Queen and created myself quite a reputation. He told me there wasn’t a more respectable living than saving humans from themselves. Plus, they’re delicious,” said Vastra.

Ryan’s expression changed and he shuffled away from Vastra, which made Jenny giggle.

“She’s joking Ryan…right Vastra?” said the Doctor nervously.

Vastra just shrugged.

Yasmin blinked awake with a groan, drawing attention from those talking around her. Her head hurt too much for her to move it and she was grateful for the comfort provided by wherever she was laying. She realised, somewhat flustered, that her head was lying in the Doctor’s lap, her hand stroking circles on her back.

“Easy…” said Ryan, noticing from his chair across the room that she was beginning to wake up.

Yasmin wasn’t planning on moving though. She buried her head further into the Doctor’s lap. She twisted her head to face Ryan though, who was watching her fidget.

“Hey Ryan,” said Yasmin, drunkenly cheerful.

“Yeah Yaz?” asked Ryan.

“I just met Jack the Ripper,” she said smugly, accenting his name with the accent she had been learning from Jenny.

“Cool,” said Ryan, with a fond laugh.

The Doctor swatted him from a distance, “No, very uncool. It would not have been cool in the slightest if anything had happened to her.”

“Mmm fine,” she argued.

“If you were fine, you wouldn’t be sitting on me,” the Doctor bickered back.

Yasmin frowned, “Jokes on you, course I would. I want to all the time.”

Vastra and Jenny smirked at each other, while The Doctor blushed. Graham tried to shush Yasmin, knowing the poor girl would be embarrassed, but the rest of them were enjoying themselves too much.

“You’re so high,” chortled Ryan.

“I am not. Jenny,” said Yasmin, drawing out the name, “is there a bed I can have? I really need another nap.”

“Of course, Yaz, we’ve made one up for you,” said Jenny.

“If I go, can the Doctor come with me?” asked Yasmin.

“If she’d like,” said Jenny with a hint of a smile.

The Doctor blushed furiously, staring down at Yasmin’s famous puppy-dog eyes.

She sighed, “You go get comfortable, and I’ll come check on you soon.”

Yasmin grinned and, with the help of both Graham and Jenny, managed to get up the stairs reasonably steadily. Ryan was laughing so hard he’d almost not heard that Graham had called for him to help once Yasmin had fallen over at the top of the stairs. He’d run after them, struggling to catch his breath. The Doctor rolled her eyes before asking him to tell her if Yasmin was alright.

“They’re all very different to Clara, aren’t they?” asked Vastra gently.

The Doctor flinched slightly at the name but smiled, “Different isn’t necessarily bad.”

“I never said it was bad. It takes a very certain person to bring one through terrible times, the universe seemed to look upon you favourably and grant you with three,” said Vastra.

“I guess I’ve finally done something right,” said the Doctor.

“You better repay the universe and go check on that Yasmin of yours. Though nothing inappropriate mind, this is Victorian London after all,” smirked Vastra.

“What…oi! I wouldn’t…Vastra!” the Doctor flushed red again.

She stormed upstairs in an embarrassed hurry, finding the room the others had carried Yasmin to. Vastra laughed when she heard Yasmin’s excitement from downstairs, and the creak of the bed as the Doctor climbed in beside her.

Jenny walked down the stairs after showing Graham and Ryan to their rooms, which distracted Vastra. Jenny settled next to her wife, who welcomed her with a smile.

"God, I can't wait to find out what that murderer tastes like," said Vastra, with a flick of her tongue.