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Those By Her Side

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“Just put your hand over mine, there you go, and push up slowly…slower Yaz! You don’t want to send us into the 50th Century, trust me. None of us would last, well, maybe Graham…but that’s a story for another time,” rambled the Doctor.

The TARDIS team had fell into a sort of routine on board. Graham preferred to flick his way through the Doctor’s old books, in hopes of finding a planet that interested him rather than help the Doctor. Ryan had taken to doing the same after he, very disastrously, attempted to fly the TARDIS and crashed the ship into a junk planet, scratching her in the process. Yasmin, however, had very much taken a shrine to piloting and discovered she was good at it. The Doctor had been thrilled by her talent and had her stirring the TARDIS on almost all of their adventures.

Now, she pushed on a gilded lever, under the Doctor’s guidance, along with a large flashing button beside it. The TARDIS hummed and whirred as Yasmin and the Doctor parked her. It was slightly unsteady and Ryan was thrown backwards from where he was stood talking to Graham.

“So, she’s allowed to drive, and I’m not?” asked Ryan as he rubbed his side with a wince.

“Sorry Ryan. It’s slightly harder to park than a car, you know?” said Yasmin sheepishly.

“Yeah, Ryan’s parking was even worse than his bike riding,” teased Graham, earning a soft punch on the shoulder.

“It wasn’t his fault, he didn’t know the planet was there,” said the Doctor cheerfully, patting him on the shoulder.

Ryan smiled gratefully, and stuck his tongue out at Yasmin, who just crossed her arms and grinned. The Doctor spun around the screen so Graham could read it, which seemed to be his favourite part of their adventures. He announced the planet they were on, with the Doctor correcting his pronunciation.

“Lovely planet this is, well done Yaz. It hasn’t been inhabited for thousands of years, but there’s some beautiful green seas. Not gross green like yours, like a sparkling lime! Oh, and it smells lemony, which I suppose is a bit ironic. The grass is blue too, you’ll love it Ryan!”

The Doctor held out her hand and gestured for Graham to step through the TARDIS doors, and then excitedly grabbed Ryan and Yasmin’s hands. They yelped in surprise when they were propelled through the doors.

Yasmin winced at the sudden, bright light from the planet in front of them. The planet looked almost human, if she were colour blind. The blood orange sun created an orange hue around them, and the blue grass was cyan and tall, tickling her calves.

“The sky looks orange, yeah?” the Doctor asked her.

When Yasmin nodded, the Doctor grinned, “Well it’s not. The sky is actually pure white, like your human clouds. The sun just makes it look colourful. At night, there’s no moon, but there’s three bright stars that make the sky look rainbow, like a prism. It’s quite a sight.”

“It’s like how water on Earth looks blue, but it’s actually just a reflection from the sky,” commented Ryan.

The Doctor pouted, “No need to make it sound less exotic. But yeah, you’re right. Just like human water.”

“Speaking of water, I want to see this green sea Doc. Think there’s any nearby?” asked Graham.

“Oh, of course! According to the sonic, we just have to head North for another maybe a few minutes’ walk. I wouldn’t go for a swim though, anything could happen. You wouldn’t want your skin dyed green, someone might mistake you for a Slitheen.”

Ryan looked as if he was about to question the Doctor, but Graham put a hand on his shoulder as if to stop him.

“Come on, then!” shouted Yasmin as she sprinted ahead.

Ryan laughed loudly and chased after her, followed by the Doctor. Graham rolled his eyes but took off after them, eventually managing to catch up. The Doctor skidded to a halt, arms outstretched to stop the others. Yasmin crashed into her arm, which the Doctor then used to point to the cliff in front of them. The rock was a darker blue, almost navy, and it grew darker as it became closer to the sea.

“Look for some steps in the cliff or something, it’ll take you down to the sand. Be careful fam, don’t do anything I wouldn’t do. Looking at you Ryan.”

“Are you not coming with us Doctor?” asked Yasmin, trying not to sound disappointed.

“Course I am, just want to look at something first. Nothing dangerous, obviously. Everything’s fine, lovely little planet,” said the Doctor dismissively.

The group shrugged but became distracted when the Doctor pointed to what looked like stairs carved into the cliff, leading down to the sea. Ryan pulled Yasmin towards them, after noticing that Graham was already descending them. Yasmin glanced back at the Doctor, who was sonicing the ground with a frown on her face but followed Ryan regardless.

“Smell that Ryan!” yelled Graham, picking up a handful of sand.

Ryan wrinkled his nose but perked up when he noticed it carried the familiar lemony smell from the sea that they had been told about. He then held it up for Yasmin, who eagerly sniffed at it.

“That’s, like, so lemony!” said Yasmin in awe.

“That’s insane!” breathed Ryan.

“I really want to swim in it, but that’s bad right? It could be poisonous,” said Graham.

“It’s probably fine,” shrugged Ryan.

“Hey, the Doctor said no swimming! You should listen to her, she’s in charge.” argued Yasmin.

Ryan laughed, “Spoken like a real cop.”

Yasmin rolled her eyes and pushed him gently. Graham hadn’t been listening to either of them, and crouched down to build a small sand castle below him. It was denser than ordinary sand and held up much better than the ones he’d built on Hornsea.

He looked up when he thought he heard a wave approaching, preparing to warn the others. But he noticed, instead, there was a faint ripple in the water. Graham narrowed his eyes, tuning out the bickering above him, and found that the ripple was growing bigger.

“Guys?” he spoke but found that they ignored him.

He attempted to speak again, louder this time, but a screech from the water caught their attention faster. They jumped backwards collectively, covering their ears. Ryan and Yasmin cowered behind Graham when a creature rose up from the water in front of them.

It was arguably uglier than the planet it was inhabiting; with scaly grey skin and teeth like a shark. There were sets of gills on its face and sides, which moved gently as it breathed. It looked almost like a person, except much taller and with not a single hair. It’s eyes were very round and small, and eerily orange, like the sun above them. The most unsettling part of it, however, was that it focussed its eyes on Yasmin.

“Uh Yaz?” asked Graham.

“Yeah,” she answered shakily.

“Maybe you should run,” finished Ryan.

Yasmin backed away with a slow, single step, and gasped when the creature did the same. She put her arm across her face to protect it and noticed that the creature did the exact same. Testing it, Yasmin put up her other hand and waved it, which the creature did too.

“Doctor?” she shouted, her voice shakier than she wanted. None of them took their eyes off the creature, not even when the Doctor came sprinting down the steps, tripping over her own feet in a desperate hurry.

“Yaz? Are you okay? What happened? Tell me what happened!” she breathed, eyes flashing from Yasmin, to Graham and then to Ryan.

The three of them were still frozen still, and speechless.

“Hello? Earth to fam?” asked the Doctor.

Ryan gulped and pointed to the creature, still trained on Yasmin, until the Doctor noticed. The Doctor scrunched up her face and slowly approached Yasmin, noticing that the creature hadn’t taken its beady eyes off her companion.

“This is new. Which one of you angered the sea demon? Well, Yasmin presumably, but I’d assume Ryan would be the one who tried to swim,” said the Doctor.

“No one did anything. This creature just came up from the sea and started…well mirroring Yasmin,” said Graham.

“Wait what? It’s mirroring you?” asked the Doctor.

Yasmin didn’t say anything, but she held up two fingers, like a peace sign, only for the creature to do the same thing. Ryan sniggered, but changed his expression when he saw the Doctor’s seriousness.

“What did you do?” asked the Doctor in a whisper.

“I didn’t do anything!” hissed Yasmin, still not taking her eyes off the creature in fear of it attacking her.

“What’s so special about you, eh Yaz?” The Doctor flushed, “I mean, obviously you’re special, but why are you to an alien. One that isn’t me. Another alien.”

Yasmin rolled her eyes, but she was growing as red as the Doctor. Ryan and Graham would’ve probably enjoyed the interaction, if they hadn’t noticed the creature take a menacing step forward.

“Yaz, don’t move,” warned Ryan.

“What do I do?” she cried, backing up instinctively. The creature followed her movement and took another step closer.

“Don’t panic, okay? Stay perfectly still. Close your eyes, so you can’t see it,” instructed the Doctor. Yasmin did as she was told, squeezing her eyes closed tightly.

“Is it still looking at me?” breathed Yasmin.

“I’m afraid so. But don’t worry, I’ll have a plan in just a moment,” answered the Doctor. Yasmin couldn’t see, but the Doctor ran a stressed hand through her short blonde hair.

Graham and Ryan could see the Doctor trying to figure something out as her mind raced. They stood closer to Yasmin, as if they’d be able to fight off the creature if the Doctor couldn’t. But the creature just stood, staring blankly at Yasmin, baring it’s teeth.

Suddenly, it blinked its orange eyes, which caught Yasmin’s attention. She saw the glowing orange from behind her closed eyelids, and something compelled her to open her own eyes. She stiffened and sharply inhaled. This made the Doctor forget about the creature, and she walked up to Yasmin.

“Are you okay?” she asked softly.

“I can’t see anything,” Yasmin whimpered.

Her vision was completely black, aside from the orange light of the creature’s eyes, and she gasped in fright when someone put their hand on her shoulder. She tried to shake it off, but the Doctor reassured Yasmin that it was only her.

“What’s going on?” asked Yasmin, shaking terribly.

“Ah, stupid sonic!” she heard the Doctor shout, “It’s only just calibrated. It knows what the creature is now.”

“So, what is it?” asked Yasmin in an angry panic.

“Oh,” said the Doctor quietly, “oh that is very much not very good.”

“What’s happening?” asked Yasmin.

She felt soft, feminine hands on her own. Just the action itself helped to calm her and ease her from the building panic she was feeling. She felt her hands being stroked by someone’s thumbs and she exhaled the breath she hadn’t realised she had been holding in.

Suddenly, a pain blossomed in her mind. She cried out and fell to her knees, unable to focus on anything other than the torture in her head. Her eyes streamed as they burnt and she felt an overwhelming nauseousness. She was only grounded when the Doctor carefully pulled her to her feet.

“Oh Yaz, Yaz, Yaz. Yaz, I am so sorry,” said the Doctor, cupping Yasmin’s face once she had dropped her hands.

“Doctor?” she asked.

“They’re a species called Animous. They once lived in civilisation on this planet but were supposed to have gone extinct a long time ago. They’re kinda like the creatures of Sirennus, except instead of luring prey with joy, they do it with fear,” explained the Doctor.

“So, it wants to eat her?” asked Ryan, earning a scolding from Graham.

They hadn’t realised how quiet Yasmin had gotten. Her breathing, shallow and laboured, had gone ignored by them. None of them noticed what was happening to her until broke free from the Doctor’s comforting hold and cowered away from the group.

Her sight had come back, but she noticed the orange sun had become more red. The creature no longer snarled at her, but instead watched her with a thoughtful, kind stare.

The Doctor was suddenly in front of her, and she backed away. The Doctor’s expression was full of concern for a moment, but it flickered into a snarl similar to the creatures.

“Yasmin. You have to listen to me. The Animous, it’s messing with your mind. It’ll turn you against us until you think your best option is to go with it. You have to concentrate,” said the Doctor sternly.

“Go away,” whimpered Yasmin.

They weren’t speaking, they were all just staring at her, but she could still hear them.

The Doctor paced around her, pointing her screwdriver in her face. Her face was drawn into a sneer, one she hadn’t seen before on the woman’s usually bright face. It made Yasmin flinch.

“You were always my least favourite, Yasmin. So quick to rush off, so quick to react, so quick to make a stupid decision. It’s no surprise that you aren’t allowed to do any real police work, not even I want you helping me, and I’m an alien. Ryan’s sweet, and interesting, and Graham is so funny and we have so much in common. What about you, Yasmin? What have you got, aside from family issues?” snarled the Doctor.

Yasmin stumbled back, and she felt someone steady her, but their touch burned her and she pulled away. She felt something hot on her cheek, and realised it was a tear.

“You don’t mean that,” Yasmin croaked.

The Doctor looked at her in bewilderment, “Yaz, I didn’t say anything.”

“You-you did! You hate me, you all do!” shouted Yasmin. She had walked backwards and hadn’t realised in her state that she was standing beside the creature until she felt lime green water at her ankles.

“Oh, do shut up Yasmin,” said Ryan, as he rolled his eyes.

“Of course, we don’t like you, I mean you invited yourself on board anyway. You suck up to the Doctor more than Ryan did to his grandmother when he was a kid,” said Graham.

“Stop it, it isn’t funny,” said Yasmin desperately.

“Yaz, please, we aren’t saying anything,” pleaded Ryan.

Yasmin shook her head desperately, refusing to believe that they weren’t just playing tricks on her. She yelled when Ryan reached out to her, her legs trembling hard. She was confused, but she could see Ryan’s eyes watering from the way she looked at him.

“You all need to be quiet,” said the Doctor, though it sounded distorted and distant, “the Animous is only going to manipulate everything we say to make her scared of us.”

Ryan didn’t listen, he was focused in terror on Yasmin, who was backing into the water, her eyes wide and scared.

Ryan lunged forward to stop Yasmin from being pulled under, but to her, it looked as if he was reaching to attack her. It reminded her of one of her first incidences on the job, when she had been forced to arrest her old school bully, William, when he’d been caught stealing. She’d gone in guns blazing and he had gone for her, leaving her with a scar on her abdomen that was still present now.

Yasmin shrunk away from Ryan and didn’t feel the creature wrap his long fingers around her ankles. She was swept into the green sea, choking for breath as the creature pulled her under.

“Doctor!” screamed Graham.

“Do something!” demanded Ryan.

The Doctor panicked. She had been waiting for the sonic to work since she discovered something suspicious when they’d first arrived. Her plan was risky and she wasn’t sure how long she had left. Ryan and Graham held Yasmin tightly, trying to keep her afloat, but she thrashed wildly.

“Hold her still!” instructed the Doctor.

She switched the sonic onto a third mode that she had been fixing. The light from the sonic changed and became bright white. She pointed it directly at the creature and it screamed, Yasmin screamed with it, and it dove down back into the water. The second it disappeared, the Doctor threw the screwdriver to the ground and hauled Yasmin from the sea.

“What did you do?” asked Ryan, checking over Yasmin worriedly.

“Ah, you see I realised why Yasmin had that red reflection in her eyes,” said the Doctor as she brushed Yasmin’s wet hair from her face, “it’s because these creatures aren’t supposed to hunt in the day, they can’t stand the sun. They filter the perception of their prey, therefore also filtering their perception of colour. You show them the sky, they can’t handle it. And we get our Yaz back.”

Yasmin coughed up her lungs at the mention of her name and collapsed into the Doctor. She groaned and reached up to hold her head, which was presumably causing her pain.

“Thanks for coming back,” smiled the Doctor.

Yasmin tried to stand up, but her legs were too shaky and she wasn’t strong enough to carry herself.

“Hey careful,” warned the Doctor, holding Yasmin by the waist. Her expression had softened, and she no longer flinched away from the Doctor. Instead, she nestled into the time lord, warming herself up. The Doctor rubbed circles on her back.

“Did you mean what you said?” slurred Yasmin in a sleep daze.

“Whatever I said, or you thought I said Yaz, there’s only one thing that you need to remember.”

Yasmin tilted her head, “What’s that?”

The Doctor grinned, “That you’re my favourite.”

Ryan and Graham both yelled, “Hey!” from where they were stood, watching the green water wash away the grey creature that had terrorised them.

Chapter Text

The Doctor called to Yasmin, instructing her to press a ‘big bouncy button’ adjacent to her. Once she did, the TARDIS whirred, waiting for instructions. The Doctor, with a flourish, skipped around the console and typed in some numbers onto a keypad. The TARDIS made its familiar loud noise and landed gracefully, barely moving the companions from their spots.

“Right, first one to tell me where we are gets to hold the sonic!” encouraged the Doctor, opening the TARDIS doors to encourage them outside.

“If it’s not Earth then I can’t tell you Doc,” shrugged Graham.

“If it’s not Sheffield then I can’t tell you,” said Ryan, “I failed geography.”

“Come on, didn’t anyone teach you about the universe? No ‘Planets 101’? Well, I suppose that’s my job isn’t it.” The Doctor frowned.

Graham had wandered over to the now open door with Yasmin, peering out into wherever they had landed.

“It looks like a spaceship I think, it’s all metallic and back-to-the-future,” commented Graham.

“Ding, ding, ding, and we have a winner! Obviously, it’s not where I meant to take you, but it’ll do. It’s called Terra Explorer 1, and it’s a research ship. Probably nothing too exciting, but it doesn’t hurt to give the TARDIS a rest every now and then,” said the Doctor, tossing the screwdriver to Graham.

“Nuh uh,” complained Yasmin, “you promised us a space ship and I want to see one! Can we please explore for a minute?”

The Doctor watched as Ryan and Yasmin gave her their puppy-dog eyes, while Graham had already walked out of the doors, disregarding them all. The Doctor gave them a dismissive wave and they shot out of the door after Graham, letting the door close behind them.

“Kids,” said the Doctor as she shook her head, settling into an armchair.

The space ship was as metallic as Graham had described; with snow-white floor and silver walls. Silver pipes snaked their way up the walls and along the ceiling. They noticed there wasn’t any furniture, just winding corridors that led from the TARDIS to a room at another end, sealed by a grey door.

“This has definitely gotta be from ages in the future, it looks like something from a low budget film,” commented Ryan.
“Try and sonic it, see where we are,” suggested Yasmin.

“I don’t know how this works, it’s like a phone but way more complicated,” complained Graham.

He hit it in the palm of his hand twice, to see if it would do anything. Ryan leaned over to help but Graham swatted his hand away. Eventually, he found the right button and winced when it let out a loud sound.

“Now what?” asked Graham.

Suddenly, the grey doors hissed open, and the companions could hear it from where they stood. They grew nervous at the rhythmic sound of heavy footsteps approaching them. It didn’t sound like shoes though, it was like an army of robots, or someone with solid metal feet. Graham instinctively pushed Yasmin and Ryan behind him to protect them.

The Doctor hadn’t been the motherly role, not that anyone had expected such, so Graham had naturally fallen into a fatherly one. He looked after Ryan because he was family, he fiercely looked after Yasmin like she was his grandchild too, and the Doctor, weirdly, too, despite her being a few thousand years older than him. But now, he couldn’t protect the others like she could.

“Use the sonic to call for the Doctor,” hissed Yasmin under her breath.

“Yaz, even you don’t know how to do that,” said Graham, even though he pressed random buttons in hopes of something working.

They winced when the things approaching them came into view. They had been hoping for some people, at least something similar so that they could reason with them, but they had no idea what it was they were now looking at. A row of at least eight silver robots marched loudly towards them in heavy metal suits and what looked like handles on their heads. They looked eerily human. They stopped in a row in front of the group, throwing their hands down to their sides. Yasmin gasped and moved closer behind Graham.

“Halt,” said what looked like the leader. Its voice sounded vaguely human, but not enough to stop the group from worrying.

“Oh, er, hi,” said Graham nervously.

“That is a primitive sonic device,” barked one of them, in a distorted voice.

“I guess?” answered Graham, lowering the sonic to his side slowly.

“Scans have detected Artron energy on both the device and the intruders,” said another robot in the same voice.

“What?” asked Graham.

“Such energy can only belong to one man. The Doctor. He has arrived,” announced the first of the robots, standing slightly in front of the others.

“There’s been a slight misunderstanding,” said Graham, backing up.

He was about to call for the others to follow, but one of the robots put its hands on either of Yasmin’s arms, yanking them back. She yelled out in pain but the robot picked her up off the ground and took her through the grey doors while she kicked and screamed. Ryan called out for her but another robot did the same to him. Ryan reached out to hold onto the doors in hopes of not being dragged away, but he was marched through the door regardless.

“Oi, where are you taking them?” asked Graham.

“It is known that the Doctor is less effective without the company of his companions,” commented one of the two robots left.

“I’m not the Doctor!” shouted Graham, trying to look through the grey doors for his friends.

“Lie,” barked the second robot.

“I don’t even know what you are!” said Graham.

“The Doctor remembers us. We are the Cybermen.”

Before Graham could again argue that he wasn’t the Doctor, the leader of the Cybermen reached out its hand. The metal hand gripped painfully tight onto Graham’s shoulder, sending an excruciating shock down his body. He shook violently and cried out, eventually dropping to the ground with a heavy thud.

Graham’s head was spinning, and he could see shapes in his darkened vision. He groaned, or thought he did, and rolled over to one side. His body felt stiff, like he hadn’t moved in hours, and wondered for a moment if he had fallen asleep on the TARDIS. He had done it before; fallen asleep in the chair the TARDIS had allocated for him, only to be mocked by Ryan. But the stinging coldness on his face and the fear told him he was somewhere else.

“-are you okay? You’re worrying us…”

“Please Graham…”

He hadn’t noticed that anyone was talking to him. The two desperate voices forced him to open his eyes. He blinked a few times after noticing everything was still blurred, but after a while Yasmin and Ryan came into his vision. They were standing against some metal pipes fused together that ran up the length of a wall. They were both tied to it, with their hands behind their backs, leaning forward and trying to get his attention.

“Graham! You’re awake! Are you alright?” cried Yasmin.
“I’m alright,” he groaned, his voice hoarse.

He glanced around the room they were in, that sort of looked like the storage room of an ordinary ship, though from many years in the future. The clean white marble floor was what had made him shiver, and the even whiter walls are what hurt his eyes. There again was barely any furniture, apart from some cabinets that were built into the walls. There was a strange looking pod in one corner, except Graham didn’t want to know what it did.

“Thank God! They dragged you in here and just dumped you on the floor! They took the screwdriver and our phones, too, by the way,” said Ryan in a hurry.

Yasmin shot him a look, “I thought I told you good news first!”

“Oh, and what good news would you suggest? At least we’re not dead?” said Ryan.

“You two are such brats, I might untie you just so I can kill you,” said Graham.

Yasmin and Ryan stopped their bickering to look at Graham with wide, doe eyes. They let their mouths hang open as they watched Graham pull himself upright with an angry frown. There was some blood on the back of his head, stuck to his hair, but that was the least of the pair’s concerns.

“Uh Graham?” asked Ryan.

Graham sneered, “Not quite, boy. But not the Doctor either. Oh, that is interesting. Means I’ll have less than an hour before this body shuts down, that is a shame.”

“Who are you?” asked Yasmin wearily.

“Well, darling, I’m the Cyber-Planner. Or, one of them I suppose,” he got up from the ground and stalked over to them. Both Yasmin and Ryan cowered.

“Your mind is much younger, so ambitious. Maybe I should drill my way into that head of yours instead, huh? You’re human, but you’re basically a child, so maybe I’d last a few days,” said Graham- or the Cyber-Planner.

He wound his finger around a strand of Yasmin’s dark hair around it. He curled it up and watched it bounce with a gleam in his eyes. Yasmin’s nose turned up and she tried to pull away, only for the Cyber-Planner to tug painfully at her hair, pulling her head forward.

“I think you’ll find if you don’t take your hands off Yasmin Khan right this second, you’ll have me to answer to.”

The grey doors threw open and slammed into the wall they were attached to, revealing a very angry looking Doctor. She held the screwdriver in her hands, and Yasmin noticed a cyberman lying on the floor by her feet. The Cyber-Planner let go of Yasmin and almost skipped towards the Doctor.

“While you’re at it, let Graham go too. Before I really lose my temper,” said the Doctor.

“So, it’s you then? You look a little more…female than I remember,” said the Cyber-Planner with a smile.

“Changing with the times and all that. I see you haven’t though,” said the Doctor.

The Cyber-Planner shrugged, “I suppose not.”

“Listen, you and I both know you can’t live in his body for long. And you know I won’t let you take mine, or my friends’. So, do yourself a favour and retreat now.”

“Oh Doctor, I can’t do that. This man has been through so much, he’s seen a lot, and he’ll do as a replacement for you until I find someone stronger.”

“Oh, I don’t think so,” said the Doctor as she backed up and passed the screwdriver to Ryan, which he struggled to grab with his tied hands, “you are going to release yourself from my dear lovely friend Graham so we can get out of here.”

The Cyber-Planner ignored her, “It’s funny, he knows so little about you. Oh, I remember the galaxies in your head, this guy’s barely ventured outside of Europe. Except in your TARDIS, of course, you’ve taken plenty of people on plenty of adventures. You just don’t stop do you? He still has no clue what it is, you know? I can see why you take humans away with you, makes you feel so clever.”

Yasmin made an offended noise, but Ryan shushed her, worried about what would happen if she caught his attention again.

“I take them because they deserve to see the universe, not because they’re below it,” said the Doctor quietly.

“Nah, you love how Graham doesn’t understand your technology, and how Yasmin can’t grasp your alien lessons, or how Ryan…doesn’t get anything, really. We’re more alike than you think.”

The Doctor pouted in frustration, “Oh, there’s plenty I don’t understand. Like the Hythurian alphabet, or flavoured coffee, or human Christmas carols. That’s just part of being alive.”

“You know what else is a part of being alive?” asked the Cyber-Planner, “Pain. If you don’t let me walk out of here now and take one of the adult-children with me, I’ll inflict some on the host.”

“Now, don’t do anything you’ll regret, Cyber-Planner. I promise you, I won’t let you leave with any of them. If you hurt Graham, you’ll regret it,” seethed the Doctor.

“No, I won’t.”

Graham’s face twisted into a smile. But quickly, it faded into a confused frown.

“What the hell is happening Doc?” he said.
The Doctor, Yasmin and Ryan all perked up.

“Graham? Is that you?” asked the Doctor.

“Who else would it be?” he grumbled.

“Hmm, funny you should say that,” said the Doctor.

“So, is the Cyber-Planner gone now then?” asked Yasmin.

“What is a Cyber-Planner?” asked Graham.

“It’s the thing that currently in your head,” said the Doctor gently.

“Oh, great.”

“Graham, don’t worry. I promise, everything will be okay. I will get you out of this, I have experience. Just stay calm.”

“And…gone!” said Graham in a creepy, happy voice.

“Bring him back!” shouted Ryan.

“If you insist,” the Cyber-Planner bowed.

They could tell by the look in his eyes that it was Graham again. He was looking around as if he knew the Cyber-Planner was there but wouldn’t work out where.

“Something doesn’t feel right,” said Graham.

“No, I imagine it wouldn’t,” said the Doctor, with a grimace.

“No-I mean…”

Graham didn’t finish his sentence. Instead he, gripped the Doctor’s shoulder, which made her speak in pain. She noticed that he was desperately trying not to let out a scream. Graham looked worriedly at Ryan, as if he didn’t want him to watch, as he let out a blood-curdling scream, followed by various curses. His hold on the Doctor created a shock of electricity and she pulled away.

“Do something!” cried Yasmin.

“It’s the Cyber-Planner, he’s hurting Graham from the inside! I can’t stop him until he comes back,” explained the Doctor, who paced around Graham.

The pain Graham felt thankfully came in short bursts, like the Cyber-Planner was sending a message. But it was still enough to make the Doctor’s usually cheerful face grave.
“I can save him, but I need you two to draw the Cyber-Planner out,” said the Doctor.

“We can do that,” said Ryan, his eyes still on Graham, who was given a momentary break by the Cyber-Planner.

“Oi, Cyber-Planner,” shouted Yasmin, “why don’t you tell us what your plan is anyway? I haven’t actually heard any planning.”

It was still Graham who was looking at them, but the Cyber-Planner’s angry eyes snapped up at Yasmin. She tried to meet his gaze, and she did until he looked away. She grinned at the Doctor, who gave her a satisfied thumbs-up.

Ryan decided that, even though he was increasingly worried about Graham, he wouldn’t let Yasmin have all the fun. If he couldn’t hurt the Cyber-Planner physically, without hurting Graham, then there’d be no harm in goading him. Besides, he wanted to help.

“Yeah, she’s right. You just want to take my grandad’s body and parade around with your robots?” said Ryan.

“What does the king of the robots do anyway? Are you in charge of oiling?” asked Yasmin.

Graham stopped wincing. The pain that had once again overcome him slowly faded, which indicated that the Cyber-Planner was distracted.

“Doctor, control your children. Before I control them for you.”

“Oh, I see your back then, Mr. Angry Robot,” said the Doctor.

The Cyber-Planner took a menacing step towards the Doctor, who used the opportunity. She caught eye-contact with Ryan.

“Now Ryan!” yelled the Doctor.

Yasmin looked up curiously and found that Ryan had untied himself by scanning the ropes with the screwdriver. He did the same with Yasmin, and she rubbed her sore wrists. Then, he switched it to the setting the Doctor had called out, scanning it in the direction of the Cyber-Planner. The Doctor reached up towards the light it emitted and the others could see there was a device on her hand, strapped around her palm.

“Sorry Graham,” shouted the Doctor sheepishly, and she threw the device down onto the side of the Cyber-Planner’s neck. Graham’s whole body shook viciously for a moment.

“Where did you get a hand pulse? I destroyed them,” said the Cyber-Planner in a distorted pained voice.

“This is one I had the TARDIS made, infused with gold and a little bit of cleaning fluid, with a touch of sonic. You never stood a chance,” said the Doctor.

Two cybermites dropped from Graham’s face, and Ryan crushed them under his trainers. Yasmin and the Doctor immediately ran to Graham, who dropped to the floor. The Doctor gently slapped his face, which was red from the cybermites, but he didn’t wake up.

“Will he be okay?” asked Ryan, in a low croaky voice.

“He’ll be alright, Ryan. Same thing happened to me once, it’s really no fun at all. But hey, look at that! Ryan on the sonic and Yaz on the console. Now, we need to find Graham’s niche.”

The three of them began to argue about how best to take him back to the TARDIS, considering more cybermen couldn’t be far behind. Graham was woken up by their voices and reached up to cradle his head as if he had a hangover.

“Jesus Christ,” he grumbled.

“Oh Graham! Good! Now you can carry yourself back,” grinned the Doctor.

“I feel like I’m eighteen again,” he hissed, ignoring her.

“That’s what you get for impersonating a time lord,” tutted the Doctor.

Graham tried to argue, but Yasmin interrupted him.

“Time lady,” quipped Yasmin.

“Oh, quite right Yaz! I guess it makes sense that they thought Graham was the Doctor, he looks a lot more like me than I do! Well, used to. Never mind that! Now, if you can run Graham, let’s get you back to the TARDIS for a nice cuppa,” said the Doctor, pulling him to his feet as he rolled his eyes at his family.

Chapter Text

The junk planet was gently lit by yellowish light that came from posts throughout the piles of rubbish. Intense piles of rubbish, that of humans, aliens and time travellers, filled the planet at every acre. The only thing that disturbed the planet was the occasional clatter of metal, and a faint beeping.

“We’re never going to find one!” Ryan complained, a device beeping in his hand.

The Doctor scoffed, “Course we are. I’ve programmed the detectors specifically. I found seven last time I was here.”

Graham walked beside her, grumbling as he stood on something particularly sharp. He shook the device in his own hands, listening to the soft beeping.

“And how long did that take you?” he asked, as he tripped for around the fifth time.

The Doctor pouted, “It couldn’t have been more than a month. Unless that was Seffilun 59.”

Yasmin looked up from the pile of rubbish she was brushing her own detector over, “Which one’s this?”

“Seffilun 27,” said The Doctor

“Maybe Seffilun 59’s the planet with all of these,” added the Doctor, holding up a futuristic object none of the others had seen before, “That’s the problem with junk galaxies, all the planets look the same, it’s hard to keep track!”

“If we’ve wasted the last four hours on the wrong planet…” Graham piped up, a frown deepening on his face.

“Oi,” said the Doctor as she turned to look at him, “who took you rainbathing in the upward tropics of Kinstarno?”

That had been one of their favourite trips. It reminded Ryan of the rainforest, except a lot more peaceful and less scary. They had found a spa, with all sorts of funny aliens and drinks, but the highlight was Yasmin trying to explain bikinis to the Doctor, who had insisted her old trunks would do fine. Him and Graham had laughed for hours.

“Oh no, no,” said Graham, his hands raised in defence, “listen, that was amazing, I was just saying, like needle…haystack.”

The Doctor scrunched up her nose, “Yeah, you might be right.”

Graham hadn’t been listening to her though, as his detector whirred into action.

“No, hold on! I’ve found something!”

The Doctor skipped over triumphantly, leaning down to pick it up, but jumped back with a gasp when she realised what he had found.

“I’m sorry,” she breathed.

“What’s he found?” Ryan asked curiously, peering over her shoulder.

“Nobody move!” the Doctor snapped.

Ryan and Yasmin exchanged confused, frightened glances.

The Doctor bent down carefully and ran her sonic in circles around what Graham had found on the ground. She checked the reading on the sonic in a desperate hurry.

“If I can keep it in temporal lock,” she began, but then she frowned, “No, it’s got too many sensors, it won’t work. It was camouflaged! This is someone’s idea of a nasty joke.”

“What is it?” asked Yasmin, who was growing more nervous.

“Sonic mine…and it’s counting down…”

The beeping grew faster, and louder, and it frightened them all. None of them knew what to say, they just watched the Doctor grow increasingly panicked. They didn’t fully understand the gravity of the situation, but if the Doctor’s response was anything to go by, they were in serious trouble.

“How long we got?” asked Graham, gravely.

The Doctor didn’t look up, “Three, two…”

They were confronted with a harsh loud noise, the sound of crashing metal, a bright blue light, and then a white. No one had time to scream, or react, before they were swept up by a violent explosion.

The ringing in her ears was the first thing she came to focus on. The sound was leading her out of the darkness, like it was an alarm set in the morning. The Doctor tried to hone in on the noise, pulling herself out of unconsciousness. It carried on even after she opened her eyes. She registered that she was lying down, as something uncomfortable dug into every inch of her body. She was all too aware of what felt like a rock on her head, though it could’ve easily enough just been her headache.

The Doctor couldn’t focus on anything except the burning pain in her side. She grimaced and attempted to sit up, testing how far she could bare it. Her vision swam and her surroundings blurred into one large mess. She shook her head, trying to clear it. Once she could see clearly, she felt her face, which was also a source of pain. She located a thin cut above her eyebrow, and that dried blood had formed from her brow to her eyelid.

“Oh, bleeding in a new body, that’s always unsettling,” she mumbled.

Her eyes suddenly widened and she bellowed, “Yaz? Graham? Ryan? Are you all okay?”

“I’m alright Doc,” said Graham, but he sounded shaken up. The Doctor felt guilt when she met his eyes.

Graham’s cheek was already blossoming with blue and purple bruising, and his eye was almost swollen shut. There was a trickle of blood running down his ears, presumably from the impact of the blast. The Doctor hurriedly checked him over, thankful that he wasn’t injured anywhere else. He was luckiest, as he was furthest from the explosion. The younger ones, however, were much more of a concern.

The pile of junk was now a danger, not just an inconvenience. Sharp edges of metal and wooden spikes created a frightening amount of ‘what ifs’ as the group contemplated what had just happened. The Doctor looked down at a triangular piece of sheet metal, with some sort of alien strength, that had just landed at her feet. She shuddered when she realised it was the very same material that now pierced Yasmin’s leg. The Doctor cursed Gallifrey for the frailness of human skin.

“Ow, ow, ow,” she cried, her hands flailing around her leg.

Yasmin was sitting where she had been thrown, her leg outstretched in front of her. Her blue jeans had been completely split open on one leg, blood soaking through the fabric. The cut, from what the Doctor could see, was the length of her finger to her forefinger. It was hard to tell though, as blood pooled alarmingly.

“Doc, you need to do something fast, look,” said Graham, who had his arm around Yasmin.

Yasmin’s head was slowly falling onto Graham’s chest as her blinking gradually became slower and slower until they closed for longer periods of time. The Doctor, clutching her side tightly, crouched down beside Yasmin.

“Hey, hey no. You keep your eyes open, okay Yaz?” said the Doctor, tapping Yasmin’s cheek with her hand.

Yasmin twisted away from the gentle slap, her eyes still closed. Her groan of annoyance was a small spark of hope that she’d be alright, and the Doctor leaned into it.

“Graham, you need to keep her awake. Do whatever it takes, I’m serious. I’m going to go and look for Ryan.”

“Doc, I’m just as worried for Ryan as you are, but you don’t look in great shape yourself,” argued Graham.

The Doctor was now conscious of how much she was struggling for breath, and how she hadn’t taken her hand off where it hurt on her side. She suspected many broken ribs, some fractures too, but it was the last thing she could think about.

The Doctor glanced back to see Graham cradling Yasmin in his lap. It broke her heart to find that her companion was crying, trying to keep awake. Graham had to stop her from pulling the metal out of her leg, but the Doctor was secretly worried about leaving it in there. The problem with a junk planet was that the junk came from anywhere in the universe, and there was no telling what was dangerous, and she couldn’t tell without her screwdriver. She just hoped the junk hadn’t reclaimed it.

“Ryan?” she called out, tripping over her coat when it snagged on some rubble.

She waited patiently for a response, but his name only echoed around the dark, dangerous junk planet. She called again, much louder this time, but no one responded. The Doctor cried out in frustration, kicking up dust with her foot.

“Come on sonic, do ya magic. Find our Ryan for us,” mumbled the Doctor, kissing the metal device.

She pointed it across the rubble that surrounded her, scanning for any signs that a human had been on it. It found several traces of different aliens that had come to scavenge but they had long since left. The Doctor didn’t find a trace of human around her, except from Graham and Yasmin, who she had left behind her.

“Wait, wait, wait!” the Doctor yelled, pacing around one spot.

The sonic began beeping like a metal detector once pointed to a tall pile of rubble just in front of her. The Doctor sprinted up to it, circling it in search of Ryan. She frowned deeply when she didn’t find anything but realised with a drop in her stomach what had happened. The pile of junk was newly formed, and the Doctor noticed it had gathered after the explosion. That, along with the sonic, told her that Ryan was underneath it.

“Graham!” she screamed, her two hearts pounding wildly.

“Are you alright Doc?” he called back, almost too far away to be heard.

“I think I found Ryan…but I need help,” she said croakily.

It took a few seconds before Graham acknowledged what she said. The Doctor heard him arguing softly with Yasmin. After another second, and some impatient shouts from the Doctor, both Graham and Yasmin appeared.

“What are you doing?” said the Doctor, pointing accusingly at Yasmin, who tried her best to look unaware.

She looked worse off than she did when the Doctor left her. Her skin had gotten worryingly pale, and showed off her sunken, heavy eyes. She kept quiet, and her head was lowered, as if trying to hide the state she was in. The Doctor was mostly worried about her leg, though. The metal was still stuck out of her leg, but Graham had attempted to wrap fabric from his shirts sleeve around it. Most of the blood had dried, but as she limped towards the Doctor, she could see fresh blood threatening to spill.

“I came to help,” she said in a voice barely more than a whisper.

“I tried to tell her to stay put,” chimed Graham.
“No, you two can’t help him without me,” mumbled Yasmin, who looked suspiciously close to throwing up.

“You can’t help anyone right now, go lie down Yaz,” said Graham.

“He’s right. Sit down Yaz, take the screwdriver. Point it at that junk pile there, tell me when you can hear the beeping get louder, okay?” asked the Doctor gently.

Yasmin nodded, rather numbly, and took the screwdriver in her shaking hands. The Doctor bent down as Yasmin settled on the ground, where Graham had led down his coat for her to sit on and kissed her lightly on the forehead. Yasmin closed her eyes and smiled, almost drunkenly, as the Doctor draped her coat around Yasmin’s shoulders.

“Right, Graham, carefully start moving rubbish from the pile. Watch your hands, make sure you don’t get cut on anything,” instructed the Doctor as she started sifting through the pile.

“Is he…under the junk?” asked Graham, gulping.

“I’m afraid I think so, Graham. But if the sonic’s right, then he’s alive and okay. And the sonic is almost always right. So, help me get him out now,” said the Doctor.

“Ryan!” called out Graham.

“Ryan!” echoed the Doctor, even louder.

Even Yasmin joined in, though she could barely even hear her voice herself. The Doctor’s sonic was slipping from her hand, so both the Doctor and Graham went from calling out for Ryan to calling out to Yasmin, to keep her awake.

“The sonic is getting louder,” said Yasmin, her voice gentle.

“Oh Yaz, you are brilliant,” said the Doctor, pulling Graham over to where Yasmin was pointing the sonic.

“He’s close, hurry up Graham!”

They dramatically threw pieces of metal, wood, spaceship consoles behind them, digging with their hands as the pile got smaller. Eventually, Graham shushed the Doctor, which she became offended by quickly, and put his arm out in front of her to stop her.

“What are you doing?” she whispered.

“Can’t you hear that?” said Graham.

The three of them strained to hear whatever Graham was talking about. It sounded like a tapping, except it came in a pattern. Three taps came in one go, then a pause, then nine more taps, then a pause, then three more taps. It happened several more times, and then everything went quiet.

“I think he’s trying to do Morse code…SOS,” said Graham.

“Yeah, I think you’re right, he’s a clever one! He’s conscious too, which is a bonus! It also means we’re getting closer to him,” said the Doctor.

“We’re coming, Ryan,” shouted Graham.

Graham pulled off what looked like a stirring wheel from the future, a chair and a plank of wood from the pile, revealing the leg of Ryan’s jean. He gasped loudly, calling for the Doctor, who helped him free the rest of Ryan from the pile.

Graham grabbed one of his arms, and the Doctor grabbed another. They pulled him free, both grunting with the effort, and set him down beside Yasmin, who was jolted awake.

“Is he okay?” she muttered.

“He’ll be alright Yaz,” said the Doctor, who was scanning him for injuries.

Truthfully though, the sonic had picked up on worrying amounts of distress. His arm was broken, that was for sure judging by the angle, and his nose too. He had superficial wounds on his forearm and even more on his opposite leg. Blood ran down his arm, all the way to the tip of his finger, where it dripped off onto the ground.

He also had a concussion, but the sonic hadn’t needed to tell her that, as he had an immense lump on his head, the skin bruised and broken. His body was covered in dirt and dust from the rubbish, making him almost unrecognisable.

He coughed once freed, grateful for the clean air. Graham threw his arms around him, not noticing his grandson’s winces. He cupped Ryan’s face and shouted in triumph, the sound too loud on Ryan’s especially sensitive ears.

The Doctor engulfed him in a hug as he made sense of his surroundings. He looked slightly confused as he glanced around, but he was grateful to be safe.

“Miss me then?” he asked, scanning from Graham to the Doctor.

“We always do Ryan!” the Doctor grinned. Her expression became suddenly much more serious, “I’m so sorry this happened to you. I should’ve been paying more attention. It was so irresponsible of me not to scan the area first.”

“Hey Doctor, don’t blame yourself. It’s the stupid planet’s fault,” argued Ryan.

“Yes well, no more junk planets for us, just for you Ryan. Well, and the rest of you. I’m not putting you in danger like that again.”

“Where’s Yaz?” asked Ryan.

The Doctor moved aside to reveal a very sleepy Yasmin, sitting on the floor below them. She raised her thumbs up to Ryan, and he grinned and returned it.

“Doctor, you think we can go back to the TARDIS now? Don’t mean to be rude, except I could really do with some alien painkillers right now. You have those, right?” asked Ryan.

“I’m sure I can find something. Alright, to the Med-bay with all of you. And me, actually. Anyone know how to fix ribs?” asked the Doctor.

“Aren’t you a doctor?” asked Graham.

“I’m a hope doctor, not a rib doctor,” retorted the Doctor.

The Doctor had almost forgotten about the pain in her side, but it was getting harder to ignore. She wanted nothing more than to rest in the TARDIS, with a sugary cup of tea, where all of her family was safe. She owed them that much, at least.

“It’s only a short walk away, can you all handle it?” asked the Doctor, pocketing her screwdriver.

“Yeah I’m fine,” said Ryan, but no one believed him.

Graham offered to carry Ryan, but he shook his head. Instead, he wrapped his arm around his grandad’s shoulder, who supported him at the waist. Ryan limped his way beside Graham, listening to the comforting words and distracting anecdotes.

The Doctor approached Yasmin after noticing that she was watching the others walk away warily.

“Do I have to walk?” asked Yasmin, her heavy eyes lifting with great effort to meet the Doctor’s.

“Of course not, wouldn’t advice it anyway,” she replied.

Yasmin opened her mouth to question how she was to get to the TARDIS but squeaked instead when the Doctor scooped her up in her arms, like a bride. Yasmin bit down on her lip to stop herself from complaining about the jolt to her leg, and she hoped the flush of her face could be mistaken for the pain.

The Doctor ruined the moment though, as she let out a sigh, “This was a lot easier a few regenerations ago. Are you humans getting bigger?”

Yasmin shot her a look, her chin resting on the Doctor’s shoulder.

“No, of course you’re not. I’m getting smaller. That’s what happens when you run out of regenerations. That’s not important though, what’s important is finding the TARDIS,” said the Doctor.

Yasmin stopped listening to her though, she just nestled into the Doctor’s coat, which was draped over her like a blanket now, and watched Ryan and Graham walk ahead of them. They high-fived when the TARDIS came into view, though Ryan regretted it quickly after a fresh wave of pain came over him.

He doubled over with a hiss and the Doctor scanned him worriedly, careful not to drop Yasmin. Her face twisted and she quickened her pace. The TARDIS doors swung open before anyone was even close to walking through them. The Doctor patted her panels affectionately when she hummed comfortingly to the group.

The TARDIS lit up a door in the back of the console room, one the group hadn’t seen before. The Doctor ran towards it, jostling Yasmin as she went, and told the others to do the same.

The TARDIS had set up two beds in the Med-bay in their absence; one with a single pillow, as Ryan likes it, and one with two pillows and a neat little cushion embroidered with constellations. Ryan walked awkwardly over to the bed, relieved to be off his feet. He buried himself into the pillow and groaned. The Doctor placed Yasmin down delicately onto the bed, as though she was made of glass, and used the cushion to prop up her injured leg.

“Right Graham, you get to play nurse. Follow me,” said the Doctor.

Graham followed the Doctor to various cabinets, filled with some human medicines, and some definitely alien ones. The Doctor picked up various from both, piling them up in Graham’s arms. She instructed him to put them down on the bed by Ryan’s feet, and then found an ice pack for him.

He looked sceptical, since the ice was pink, but the Doctor insisted it was specially formed to heal. Once against his bruised cheek, he breathed a sigh of relief as the pain eased.

“Okay, Ryan first, where does it hurt?” asked the Doctor.

He had become less aware since limping to the TARDIS and was tempted into sleep by the soft bed he now rested on. He blinked awake and met her face, which was extremely close to his own. Graham helped the Doctor attach fluids to both Ryan and Yasmin, trying to ease their pain.

“Everywhere,” he groaned.

He whined when the Doctor picked up his arm.

“I’m going to have to reset this mate, I’m so sorry,” said the Doctor.

“Just get it over with,” he breathed.

“You know, I went to a junk planet once, when I was a teenager. It was local to my planet, Gallifrey, and I ended up finding part of a TARDIS console. I brought it back to keep in my room, like a souvenir. I used it to fix this one up, when I first found her. That piece is long gone now, I expect, but it’s still part of her,” said the Doctor.

As she rambled, Ryan smiled at her story, and the Doctor took the opportunity to grab onto his arm and snap it back into place. He screamed out, trying to pull his arm from her grasp.

“What was that for?” he asked, his eyes streaming.

“I had to get it over with,” she shrugged.

She bandaged up some of the cuts he had collected, and then his nose too. She handed him a single yellow pill, a painkiller from a hospital on New Earth, she had explained, and then handed him a small bottle of cream, also from the same hospital.

“What’s this?” he slurred, holding up the bottle to the light.

“Put it on your nose, your arm, and that lump on your head. It’ll feel warm, but don’t worry. You’ll be fixed up in no time,” said the Doctor.

Graham helped him with it as the Doctor moved onto Yasmin. She almost laughed at Yasmin’s expression, as the girl was clearly not impressed by the reaction the Doctor received from Ryan.

“You’ll be fine,” the Doctor reassured.

The Doctor took some of the cream from Graham and rubbed it around the wound the metal sheet had made. Yasmin winced as it stung.

“This will numb it in a few seconds. Your human, so it’s less effective, but you shouldn’t feel this if I do it in the next second,” explained the Doctor.

“Feel what?” asked Yasmin, looking down anxiously at her leg.

The Doctor didn’t acknowledge her, but she gently pulled the metal from Yasmin’s leg. She didn’t feel it, thank God, but the fresh ooze of blood was enough to make her queasy. She looked over jealously at Ryan, who was already peacefully drifting off.

“Good, that’s good Yaz. You’re lucky I have the neatest stitches in the universe. Well, this galaxy at least.”

The Doctor perched on the edge of Yasmin’s bed, putting her injured leg over her lap. The Doctor stuck out her tongue in concentration. Each stitch was identical, and perfect.

“Don’t you have a machine that can do this?” yawned Yasmin, squirming at the intimacy.

“If I used the Stitcher from the Rylaosam planet, your leg would start looking like one of theirs. Do you really fancy growing fur on one leg, like some sort of confused werewolf?” asked the Doctor.

Yasmin rolled her eyes but shook her head.

She dozed off after about the tenth stitch which left the Doctor to stitch in silence. She tucked a blanket around Yasmin, and then draped her coat over that. Graham had fallen asleep next to Ryan, his hand still holding the ice pack to his face. The Doctor walked around to Ryan’s bed to check the cream had soaked into his skin.

“Doctor?” asked Ryan, one eye opening.

“Yeah, Ryan?” asked the Doctor with a smile.

“Does your TARDIS dispense digestives too? I’m not a fan of custard creams.”

“She doesn’t, but I’m sure she’ll make the exception for you,” said the Doctor.

“Cool. When I wake up, I’ll fix your ribs. I have a first aid badge,” said Ryan, closing his eyes again.

“I’d like that,” grinned the Doctor.

Chapter Text

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.

Chapter Text

Ryan had complained determinedly until the Doctor had agreed to find a cinema room on the TARDIS. At first, the Doctor had argued that, on a time and space ship, no one needed to sit around watching movies. But Ryan hadn’t given up and in the end his resilience had impressed the Doctor, who reluctantly agreed.

Now, a day later, Ryan, Graham, Yasmin and the Doctor were curled up together on sofas, bickering loudly over which film to watch. The Doctor held the remote, clutching it to her chest protectively.

“Now this,” the Doctor complained, “is why I didn’t want to find a cinema room. You all do realise we could be on an alien planet right now?”

“I’m an old man, Doc, I need to go slow every now and again,” argued Graham.

“Oh, come on Graham! Sitting around watching films won’t help ya!” said the Doctor.

Yasmin laughed, the Doctor’s arm slung over her shoulder, “You’re just too much of a fidget to sit through a whole film.”

The Doctor pouted, “But time goes so slowly! I don’t know what you all did without me, running around at a normal pace. It’s embarrassing.”

Ryan hadn’t been paying much attention to any of his friends, instead he snatched the remote and began to look through the films. His eyes lit up and he smiled, looking up at the team sitting around him, who hadn’t even noticed he wasn’t joining in.

“Guys!” he chimed.

“Yeah Ryan?” asked Graham.

“We should watch The Greatest Showman. It’s supposed to be a great film, plus we all know how much the Doctor loves musicals,” suggested Ryan.

“Oh, my sister says that a great film!” said Yasmin excitedly.

“What’s it about?” asked the Doctor curiously.

“It’s the story of P.T Barnum, the greatest showman on earth! He had a circus of all kinds of weird and crazy things,” explained Yasmin.

“I’ve heard of him, I’ve always wanted to meet him,” said the Doctor with a sparkle in her eyes.

Ryan groaned, “I know that look.”

“Come on Doc, all I’m asking for is one day’s rest,” said Graham.

“Guys, I mean, it’s P.T Barnum! It’d be like we were actually in the film, isn’t that better than watching it?” asked Yasmin.

“You’re just as bad as she is, you know,” said Graham accusingly.

“Yaz is on board, thank God! Will you two be joining us or not?” asked the Doctor, giving her best pleading, sad-eyes to the two boys.

Graham sighed loudly and dramatically, “You already know we are.”

The Doctor clapped her hands together happily, and then spun around to high-five Yasmin. She dragged them to the console room, all forgetting about the film they had chosen. Ryan still had the remote in his hand when they reached the console.

“Are you guys ready? New York, 1865. Let’s aim for spring, I love that time of year. Fam, you better hold on,” shouted the Doctor over the hum of the console.

The TARDIS jumped into action, knocking those inside her off their feet. Ryan wrapped his arms around the railing, managing to stay upright despite losing his footing. Graham clung on beside the Doctor, who always seemed to be safe from the TARDIS’s jarring, while Yasmin wrapped herself around a pillar. This time, none of them fell, or were launched across the console room, which was a first.

The Doctor seemed satisfied that all of her friends were upright and steady, encouraging them to let go once the TARDIS had parked. Ryan tested it first and the others followed once they were content that the TARDIS wasn’t going to move suddenly.

“Do we need to change into something…a little less 21st century?” asked Ryan, rather grumpily.

“Nah, you’re fine! It’s New York, everything is a fashion statement,” said the Doctor, adjusting her suspenders with a grin.

“That’s lucky for you then, Doc,” laughed Graham.

“Oi, watch it Graham! Or I’ll leave you here,” said the Doctor.

The streets were split down the middle by a third row of houses and shops, making it a ‘V’ shape. Shops, bakeries and grocery shops were in almost every other building, separating houses from their neighbours. The cobbled roads were almost unseen as the alarming amount of people crossed over them. The TARDIS had parked beside a horse-less wagon, right across the road from the building the Doctor had been jumping with excitement to show them.

The building was incredibly large, flags flying on the flattened roof. A sand coloured balcony surrounded the first floor, held up by pillars that were built into the ground. Viewers weaved in and out of them in their haste to enter the big grand doors. About half way up the height of the building, ‘Barnum American Museum’ in bold red lettering.

“That’s it, then,” said the Doctor, waving towards the building.

“That’s amazing,” breathed Yasmin, her eyes scanning the bright and eccentric posters pinned to the pillars.

“So, are we going in or what?” asked Graham excitedly.

“It’s not open yet but don’t worry, I got us all back stage passes,” explained the Doctor, reaching into her pocket.

She walked briskly to the front of the crowd, with Graham, Yasmin and Ryan in tow. A man in a bright blue suit stood at the door with his arms crossed, waiting to instruct the crowd where to go. The Doctor tapped his shoulder to get his attention. He looked down at her with a bored expression, until she showed him a laminated card in a case of leather.

“This is my husband, Mr O’Brien and our acquaintances Mr Sinclair and Mrs Khan. I trust we’ll be allowed in?”

“Of course, Ma’am. I didn’t know we were expecting a visit from you,” said the man after examining the card, with a respectful nod to Graham.

He ordered the crowd to step back and opened the door, allowing the team to walk through.

“Who does he think we are?” asked Yasmin curiously.

“Oh, just some aristocrats. Always allowed in early for the best seats, and that’s exactly what I want for you lot,” said the Doctor.

“Can’t argue with that,” smiled Graham, looking around excitedly.

The theatre was like ones they’d seen at home, except it opened into a grand room with gold ceilings that had shelves of strange and curious items. Some were photographs of sightings, others were hands with an extra finger. All of them made Yasmin shudder and look away. They walked past ticket booths and a wooden desk as the Doctor brought them past the room they entered through, which seemed like a reception, and into a gallery of photos. Some seemed to be framed posters from old shows, while others were barely-developed photos of P.T Barnum and a series of his acts. The door on the other end, which read ‘back stage’ in gilded lettering, opened up to reveal a man.

“Lady and gentleman,” said the Doctor with a flourish, “may I introduce you to P.T Barnum.”

He looked sterner than they had imagined, with curled black hair, a round face and a beautiful red suit. His expression changed when he saw them, presumably after being made aware of their arrival.

“My name is Mr Barnum, but please call me Phineas,” said Phineas as he approached.

“Pleasure to meet you,” smiled Graham, who was the first of them that Phineas addressed.

They shook hands politely, and then Phineas did the same to Ryan. Ryan had been cautious of historical figures from their last time in America’s past, but was grateful for the man’s friendliness. Phineas turned to the Doctor, kissing her gently on the hand. The Doctor blushed, less than used to being greeted as a woman. His eyes sparkled when he met Yasmin, as he kissed her on the hands too.

“You,” he said as he clapped his hands together, “are magical. That grace and those legs, have you ever considered being one of our trapeze artists?”

Yasmin blushed, “Well, I mean-”

“She can’t. Sorry. She’s got vertigo,” interrupted the Doctor, giving Yasmin a pointed look.

“No matter, it’s not as if just any one can be a part of my show anyway,” shrugged Phineas.

“Why don’t you show us who is a part of the show? I’d love to meet them, that would mean a lot to us,” said the Doctor with a pleading smile.

“But of course, follow me behind the curtain,” smiled Phineas.

Ryan and Yasmin eyed wax models that stood in front of the curtain, a giraffe, a lion and various old presidents. Phineas walked past them and pushed the curtain aside.

He led the Doctor, talking excitedly to Graham at the same time, past a tall red curtain, while Ryan and Yasmin followed behind.

“There’s less singing than I imagined,” said Ryan as he held up the curtain aside for Yasmin, who laughed at him.

They all gasped in a collective when they walked into the main theatre. It could be compared to the busy streets; as performers and those back-stage paced around the hall as they set up for the next show. Women were being chased by make-up artists, people with scripts and props not far behind. To the young pair, it did feel as though they were walking in a musical.

“Woah,” said Ryan as two people, both more than half his height, walked past juggling. They didn’t acknowledge any of them.

“That’s Hettie, and George,” explained Phineas as they passed.

“You’ll love Aggie,” added Phineas, pointing to a woman in a sparkling purple dress, practicing tricks from the swing that swung from the ceiling. Ryan’s jaw dropped when the woman blew him a kiss, kicking her legs slowly beneath her.

“Who else is here?” asked Graham.

“We have the strongest man on earth, the bearded lady, two beauties who dance in the air, the legendary Fiji mermaid, and so much more,” grinned Phineas.

“Wow,” whistled the Doctor.

“Do they…like performing?” asked Yasmin, watching Aggie run through her routine above them.

“Of course, they do! These people, they’ve come from all over to join my show. It’s a showcase of everything different, exciting and unqiue, who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?” said Phineas.

Graham shrugged, “When you put it like that, even I’d say yes.”

“Got any talents hiding?” asked Phineas.

The Doctor made a face at that, though no one could work out why.

“Nah, I’m afraid not,” said Graham with a laugh.

“Sir, everyone has a talent if they search hopefully enough,” argued Phineas.

“Are you any good at finding them? I have a few teachers to prove wrong,” asked Ryan.

“Oh, me too actually,” quipped Yasmin.

The Doctor glanced up, not listening to a word any of them were saying. Above him was a tall tight rope that was the length of one side of the room to the other. It reached over the circus ring, where Phineas introduced his freaks and acts. The tight rope was attached to wooden poles with a narrow ladder up one side on each. The Doctor put her foot on the first rung, pushing herself up to get a better view.

As she had expected, she saw someone sitting cross-legged on the platform above them all. It looked like a child, who had gone unnoticed by the rest of the visitors. They were crying, though, so the Doctor had noticed.

The Doctor climbed to the top of the platform, careful not to scare them. One she had reached the top, a young girl came properly into view, crying into her hands. Thick skirts and her red dress spread across the whole platform.

“Hiya,” said the Doctor softly.

The girl looked up hesitantly, “Hi.”

“Whatcha doing up here?” asked the Doctor.

“Mr…Mr Barnum told me if I wanted to be in the show I’d have to perform. But I’m scared of heights so he told me to sit up here until I get over it,” said the child.

The Doctor frowned, “I don’t think sitting and crying will make you feel any better. How about you come down with me and I can teach you how to juggle? I’m really, really good at it.”

The girl giggled, “Okay.”

“Florence!” came the stern voice of Phineas below them.

They had seen the Doctor dangling over the side of the platform, keeping her feet on the ladder. The girl had gasped in horror at the sound of his voice and she panicked. The Doctor reached out to calm her, but the girl jumped to her feet. She wobbled in her dolly shoes, knocking into the Doctor before falling to her knees and clinging on.

The Doctor tried to cling on too, but her foot slipped from the ladder and then her hands lost their grip. She fell from the platform, feeling the wind beneath her as she went, legs kicking helplessly. She heard Yasmin scream her name but felt the ground beneath her with a thud and forgot about her friends once her vision went dark.

“Doctor!” cried Yasmin, Ryan and Graham, sprinting towards her. She’d fallen on a matt, but it was barely thick enough to support her.

“Oh blimey! Are you alright?” asked Phineas as he joined the others at her side.

“She’s unconscious,” breathed Yasmin, her words catching painfully in her throat.

“Are there ambulances in 1865? What do we do? What if she needs real, futurey help?” asked Ryan in a panic, paying no mind to Phineas’ quizzical looks.

“It’s okay, I’ll check her pulse and heartbeat. We have accidents sometimes, we’ll have someone to check her over,” said Phineas.

He placed two fingers to her neck, commenting happily that her pulse was strong. Then, he placed his hand as respectfully as he could over her chest.

“There’s a heartbeat,” he said with a sigh of relief.

“What about the other one?” asked Yasmin worriedly.

“What?” said Phineas in confusion.

Yasmin pushed him aside and crouched in his place. She put her own hand on the other side of the Doctor’s chest. She felt for the thump of her second heart, grateful when she’d found it.

“She’s going to be okay,” Yasmin told the others.

They hadn’t noticed Phineas creep forward, placing his hand where Yasmin’s had been. He gasped in amazement when he, too, found the beating of her other heart. He placed his ear next to his hand, and again found the thump.

“Remarkable,” he exclaimed.

He looked up as if to question the others, but the Doctor gasped loudly and dramatically, bolting upright. She took a few heavy breaths but regained her composure when she saw the faces of her friends.

“Oh, the gangs’ all here. What did I miss?” asked the Doctor.

“Doctor!” said Yasmin, sitting beside her, “I was so worried! Well, we all were.”

“Oh Yaz, you should know by now it takes more that this to stop me,” said the Doctor fondly.

“You…you have two hearts?” breathed Phineas.

The Doctor seemed to notice that he was there for the first time, “Oh. Yeah, funnily enough I do.”

“How? I’ve never heard of anything like it?” pressed Phineas.

“Nah, that’s a long story! No time for that,” said the Doctor, waving her hand dismissively.

Phineas looked cautious, curious and frustrated all in one expression. His eyebrows raised and Yasmin noticed that even though the Doctor had been engulfed in a hug by Ryan, Phineas was still watching her intently.

“I’d love to hear it,” said Phineas.

“Another time,” the Doctor smiled nervously.

“You wouldn’t fancy partnering up, hey? Your two hearts could really bring in some business,” asked Phineas.

Yasmin laughed at the thought of it, but the look in his eyes worried the Doctor. She stepped away from him so that she was out of arm’s reach. Graham looked at her quizzically.

“Err, no. Sorry, not really my area. Speaking of, I’m not feeling too great. Team, shall we retire back to the TARDIS?” asked the Doctor, already backing up towards the door.

“But Doctor-” began Ryan with a whine.

“No time, you can complain once we’re home,” said the Doctor.

Ryan had no idea why the Doctor was suddenly in a hurry to leave, but Yasmin had noticed Phineas calling for people to join them, and it worried her. A large, extremely muscular man and an almost as muscular bearded lady came and stood beside Phineas, eying up the new-comers.

“Are you sure you won’t cooperate?” asked Phineas.

“What do you mean? We’re just visiting, not joining-”

The Doctor was cut off by a menacing clap off Phineas’ hands. She pouted, not one to enjoy being shushed.

“Grab them,” snarled Phineas.

Yasmin looked around in confusion as Phineas’ hand grabbed her arm. She tried to pull it away but his grip was much stronger than she’d expected. She noticed the Strongman pushing Graham and Ryan towards her.

“Bring the three of them into my office, I’ll join you when I’ve finished here,” said Phineas, to the Strongman.

Yasmin and Ryan protested until they were both struck on the cheek. They scowled and put a hand to their face, while Graham cursed loudly. The Doctor prayed they would go quietly and not cause themselves more trouble, her friends had a habit of doing that. The Strongman shoved the three companions away, leaving a worried looking Doctor behind.

“What are you doing?” asked the Doctor through gritted teeth.

“It’s all good telling my customers that you have two hearts, but they expect a show. People now-a-days are much harder to please. I’m going to need to show them,” said Phineas.

“And how do you expect to show them?” asked the Doctor.

“Granted, I’d much prefer to keep you alive, it’s so hard to preserve a body, but it’s easier if we just have your heart system on display. Less grotesque too. I’m sorry, you’re a fine young woman, I wish it didn’t have to end this way,” said Phineas.

“It doesn’t! Listen, people come to your shows for the wonder, and the excitement. They don’t want to be a part of this. Show them something beautiful,” pleaded the Doctor.

“What’s more beautiful than the oddities of a human body?” argued Phineas.

“You’re not a man who wants to celebrate humanity, you’re a man who wants to exploit them, aliens too,” accused the Doctor weakly.

Phineas shook his head pitifully, “I’ll try and make it quick. I have a rather vicious roommate for you, it’ll seem just like an unfortunate accident. The morgue will know no different.”

“And what about my friends?” asked the Doctor darkly.

“They’ll find their place here,” shrugged Phineas.

“You can’t keep them here.”

“Oh, Ma’am, you should be more concerned about yourself than them. They’ll earn a living, become stars. They’ll live on, even if you won’t.”

The Doctor had noticed how much harder it was for her to fight back when she was half the size and weight she once was. Her tiny hands did nothing to push away the bearded lady who had her arm wrapped around the Doctor’s neck. Her just as small feet kicked at the woman’s own legs, but they didn’t even bruise the skin.

The Doctor groaned in frustration when she was forced to follow Phineas. She was guided out of the back door, hearing shouts and protests from what sounded like Yasmin, Ryan and Graham. On his way, Phineas picked up some rope that hung from a peg in the wall, wrapping it around the Doctor’s hands behind her back.

“Is this where you keep everyone?” spat the Doctor.

Behind the glamourous, gilded building, creatures and animals paced in metal cages. Hay surrounded the floor, and a chained up elephant picked at it with its trunk. The Doctor tore her eyes away.

“No, of course not. Just those too smart, or too dangerous to leave,” commented Phineas.

He found a cage at the edge of the others and dug around for keys in his pocket. He found the right ones and unlocked the cage door, pushing the Doctor inside. Phineas followed after, blocking the exit from her.

“You can’t leave me here,” said the Doctor, sternly.

Phineas didn’t respond, but he noticed her eyes wander to her coat pocket. He found her sonic and the psychic paper that had once told him her status and confiscated them.

“I’ll be taking that,” said Phineas, bouncing the sonic screwdriver in his hand.

“Dammit,” cursed the Doctor as Phineas slammed the door behind him and locked it.
“Now I have some questions,” said Phineas.

“You lot always do,” sighed the Doctor.

“Firstly, what are you?” he asked.

The Doctor faltered, “I’m you. Human, that is. I just happen to have two hearts.”

“I don’t believe you. But that’s why we have our methods. They’ve proved effective on the beasts we’ve tamed, maybe they’ll be the same for you.”

The Doctor narrowed her eyes, “What are you planning?”

Phineas called for the nearest of his henchmen, which was the bearded lady, and she passed her a small bag that was hanging beside the elephant. The Doctor gulped when it was passed through the metal to Phineas. He pulled out various tools, mostly for horses, but the final item made her shudder.

“Answer my question, or I’ll give you a lashing,” said Phineas, cracking the whip he how held in his hands.

“I’ve already answered it,” said the Doctor, attempting to stand tall on her feet.

“But you were lying.”

“I wasn’t.”

Crack.

The Doctor felt a red hot pain flash over her upper leg as if the skin was being dissolved. The whip cut deep into her leg, at such a force the Doctor was thrown off her feet. She breathed laboured breaths, her vision blurred until she was able to face Phineas again.

“You weren’t meant to be like this,” the Doctor grumbled weakly.

“One more question for you, this time you better answer. Where can I find more of you?” asked Phineas.

The Doctor laughed darkly, “That’s a bad question. There’s no more. Not anywhere in the universe. I’m the last. So, if you kill me, you’ll be left with nothing. One day, even those you’ve manipulated will leave you sad and alone.”

Again, the whip hissed through the air and lashed down onto the Doctor. She flinched, bracing for it, and found it tore through the arm she had raised to protect herself. An even deeper laceration caused her to scream, violently loud, and nearly black out. The whip found her skin once again, hitting her arm for the second time. The pain was somehow even worse, like her arm was fuel for a raging fire.

The loud scream made the elephant rear up in a panic. Its foot kicked out, shaking the cage the Doctor was locked in. She lost her balance and collapsed into a pile on the ground, beside the blood that was spilling freely from two of her limbs.

It had knocked Phineas down to, the whip falling from his hands. He shouted angrily at the elephant, which was only beginning to calm itself down.

Phineas pulled himself to his feet, bellowing angrily. He was so angry that he hadn’t noticed both the psychic paper and the screwdriver had fallen from his pocket into a pile on the ground. The Doctor didn’t waste any time, mainly because she didn’t know if she had much left.

She reached, though it caused her immense pain, for the items, flashing the sonic screwdriver at Phineas. It knocked him unconscious immediately. The sonic seemed just as angry at the treatment the Doctor had received as she was. Then she unlocked the cage, crawling out of it.

The Doctor had underestimated how painful her injuries were. The second she tried to stand up, her leg screamed in agony and she collapsed again. She pushed herself up after a few seconds, worried that Phineas would wake up, as he could definitely out run her.

She cried out but bit her lip to keep quiet. The Doctor limped her way to the door she’d been forced through, holding on to everything she could find. She felt nauseous when she saw a trail of blood behind her, dripping from both her arm and leg.

She remembered hazily where she’d heard her companions’ voices before. She stumbled, basically crawled, towards the office which was marked by a ‘P.T. BARNUM’ plaque on the front door. The Doctor sonic-ed the locked door open, revealing her three friends. They looked at her in terrified shock when they saw the blood, her pale, scrunched up face, and the way she clutched at her arm to try and stop the blood loss. Her eyes were sunken and her lips trembled, like she couldn't hold on for much longer.

Each of her friends were hand-cuffed, and the Doctor took all of her energy pointing the sonic at each of them until the hand-cuffs fell to the ground with a clink. They forgot immediately about their sore, raw wrists when they saw the Doctor.

“Oh my god,” gasped Graham as the Doctor collapsed into the desk chair.

“Yeah…that didn’t go well,” breathed the Doctor.

“What the hell happened to you?” asked Yasmin, pulling the Doctor into a hug.

“Shouldn’t have come here,” mumbled the Doctor unsteadily.

“Right, back to the TARDIS, let’s go,” said Ryan in a panic.

“She can’t walk in that state! Look at her. I’ve got this,” said Graham.

He was the tallest of them and had arguably better balance than Ryan. He gently scooped the Doctor into his arms, careful not to touch her arm or leg. The Doctor was light in his arms, and seemed to barely respond to his movements. He wondered if she was even still conscious, especially with the rate of blood loss he could see.

“That’s my thing,” whined the Doctor, her voice barely audible.

Ryan and Yasmin walked in front of them, pushing through the crowds of people back stage. Once through them, they ran out of the building, with Graham walking briskly.

“Injury! Everyone step aside,” screamed Yasmin, parting the crowd waiting for the next show like they were the red sea.

“Is she alright?” asked a young gentleman in the crowd.

“Fine,” reassured the Doctor with gritted teeth.

Yasmin clicked her fingers, but the TARDIS doors were already opening for them. The corridor that usually led to their bedrooms had a sign labelled ‘Med-bay’, as if to make it as obvious as possible to the companions. There was a vase of flowers on a table beside the medical cabinets, as if the TARDIS was expressing her sympathy. The Doctor had already stained the white floors with her crimson blood, smearing it over the furniture.

“What did he do?” whispered Graham as he placed the woman onto a chair.

“Thought I was one of his circus animals. I got whipped for obedience. Remind me to never visit a circus again,” said the Doctor with a shudder.

“That’s…disgusting! I’m going back! I’ll…bring him to Sheffield and arrest him! Or I’ll lock him in a cage and see how he likes it,” said Yasmin, fuming.

“Oh Yaz,” said the Doctor with a fond shake of the head, though she seemed comforted by the thought Yasmin had provided.

“Who’s gonna be the one to help her? My speciality is plasters and CPR,” said Ryan.

“Don’t look at me, we didn’t do first aid back in my day,” said Graham.

They both looked at Yasmin hopefully.

“I…I’ve had practice at the police academy,” she said uncertainly.

“You can do this Yaz,” encouraged the Doctor.

“What do you need?” asked Yasmin, her hands already soaked in the Doctor’s blood. It made her run cold when she thought about it.

“Just…bandages,” said the Doctor in between a fit of pain.

Yasmin looked wary, as if it looked like it needed more, but nevertheless she picked up a roll of yellow bandaging that she’d found. The TARDIS had shown them to her, humming angrily when she’d picked up normal ones. Yasmin hoped that meant they worked faster.

“They stitch up wounds for you,” said the Doctor, as if she had read her mind, “I picked them up while you were all sleeping.”

“Go to sleep,” said Yasmin as she stroked the bandaged area gently with her thumb, “you can tell us about your solo adventures in the morning.”

Yasmin took the first bandage from the tray and began wrapping it around the Doctor’s leg. The Doctor hissed in pain, and Ryan squeezed her hand to soothe her.

“In just a few years, Barnum’s museum and show burns down. Unsalvageable. It was portrayed as an accident, or the vicious attack of the bigoted…but maybe it wasn’t…” said the Doctor dreamily.

“Maybe they all finally had enough,” concluded Yasmin.

“10 points to Yasmin Khan,” said the Doctor, looking up at her, “you’re winning by the way.”

Yasmin tried to hide her smile as she wrapped the last bandage around the Doctor’s arm. Ryan and Graham stepped outside to give them privacy as Yasmin cleaned up the blood on the Doctor’s skin. Ryan claimed the Doctor would appreciate a plate of biscuits and enlisted Graham to help him.

“You’ll need to wake me up in exactly two hours to change the bandage or…well you don’t want to know. I need two of those blue pills too,” instructed the Doctor.

Yasmin set her alarm on her phone before handing two pills and a glass of water to the Doctor.

“You know, you’d be a great nurse Yaz,” said the Doctor

Yasmin perched on the arm of the chair that the Doctor had gotten comfortable in. The Doctor closed her eyes and rested her blonde head in Yasmin’s lap. Yasmin smiled softly and stroked her hands through the Doctor’s hair, who sighed contently. Ryan and Graham, who saw the scene unfold when they’d returned, decided to just leave the biscuit platter outside the door.

Chapter Text

“The planes of Glaciesium are the perfect place for us fam. You’ll never complain about Sheffield snow again, there’s plenty of snow here to last you a life time,” the Doctor gestured wildly as if she were a tour guide, “Mind you, that’s one of your life times, not mine.”

The Doctor had described the planet as largely unpopulated, with just a few large cities, which was mainly made up of fields and fields of snow. They brought in money from crops, specially grown on snow or mountains, which they had plenty. A simple, rich economy, she had said.

They were already shivering despite stepping out the TARDIS a few seconds ago. Ryan and Graham wore over-sized, matching puffer coats that made them look twice their size. Yasmin wore a pale fur coat; faux, she had reiterated, that hugged her body down to her thighs. The Doctor, of course, hadn’t even put an extra layer on.

“Doctor. Will you at least put on my spare gloves? What would you do if your fingers fell off, you couldn’t open the TARDIS,” asked Yasmin.

“That’s why I have you. But okay, thanks Yaz,” said the Doctor.

The Doctor happily took a pair of pink gloves from Yasmin’s pocket, running her now-warm hands through the snow to test them.

“Is that better?” asked Yasmin.

“Much. God bless Yaz and her pretty gloves!”

“So, Doctor, does this planet do Christmas? Or since it’s always cold, does it not have an Easter?” asked Ryan.

“Not every planet celebrates your human holidays Ryan. Though this planet does have a holiday called Taridarn, which celebrates the Ice Gods who keep the ice from thwarting. I suppose it’s like Halloween, but with presents as well sweets,” said the Doctor.

“That sounds good to me,” said Graham with a grin.

“So, does this planet have actual Gods or are they just aliens, or monsters?” asked Ryan.

“Oi, same thing could be said for your planet,” said the Doctor.

Ryan laughed, bending down to pick up a handful of snow. He’d expected it to have some sort of…alien properties, but it seemed identical to the snow they got on earth. Except, unlike in Sheffield, it wasn’t muddy, slushy and grey. It was beautiful, white and thick. It seemed to glitter as he walked footprints into it.

“So, what should we do? Anyone want to try and find some reindeer? They’re slightly different on this planet, much smaller. They do bite though,” said the Doctor with a wince.

“Better idea, what about snow angels?” asked Ryan.

The Doctor gave him a quizzical look, her head tilted ever so slightly to the side in the way she does when she’s trying to pretend she understands.

“Do you even know how to do snow angels Doctor?” asked Ryan.

“Of…course I do. Just had some nasty business with angels, and snow too actually, so decided not to mix them,” said the Doctor nervously.

Ryan’s eyes sparkled, “You’re lying.”

The Doctor fumbled awkwardly, but Ryan just guided her over to a thick pile of snow by the arm. Yasmin and Graham exchanged a look and smiled. Graham ended up turning around and teaching Yasmin how to construct a perfect snow-ball to ambush their friends with.

Ryan had flopped down on his back, getting the Doctor to do the same. He waved his arms and his legs, which the Doctor copied with a curious expression. Ryan laughed when the Doctor’s arm sent a layer of snow onto his face.

“Now stand up, don’t ruin the angel though,” said Ryan.

The Doctor jumped to avoid marring her snow angel, stepping beside Ryan so that they could admire their masterpiece.

“That does look surprisingly like the weeping angels, just slightly less weepy. Thanks, Ryan,” grinned the Doctor.

“Anytime, Doc-”

Ryan’s voice caught in his throat with a sharp inhale. It drew Graham and Yasmin’s attention, just in time to see the snow give way beneath Ryan and the Doctor. The snow pile disappeared, revealing a snow hole that swallowed them. Snow fell through it, engulfing them in the pure white, and freezing cold.

Yasmin and Graham winced when they heard a heavy thud. They wondered how far they had fallen, a pain in the pit of their stomachs.

“Ryan! Doctor!” screamed Yasmin in a panic, sprinting over to them.

“Yaz! Be careful! We don’t want you falling to,” said Graham.

Yasmin ignored Graham, too busy thinking about the others. Graham, much more carefully, approached the hole and fell to his knees, glancing down. He was relieved to find that the hole wasn’t deep enough to injure them seriously, and they were both looking up at him. Ryan and the Doctor brushed snow off their clothes and faces, spluttering. Yasmin sat beside Graham, sighing in relief.

“Are you both alright?” asked Graham.

“Yeah,” said Ryan shakily, “but I think I’ve hurt my ankle. Might’ve sprained it or something.”

“I think it could be fractured,” said the Doctor, then quieter to Ryan, “I’m going to find something to wrap it in. I must have something.”

Yasmin, ever prepared for the cold, threw down a few pairs of socks that she’d kept in her pocket in case her feet got wet. The Doctor thanked her, her voice shakier than before.

“Does that work?” asked Yasmin.

“It’ll keep his foot in place until we can get a brace for it. Plus, nice and toasty foot for Ryan, it’s a win, win,” said the Doctor.

“Somehow it doesn’t feel like it,” said Graham, looking down at them below.

“Hey, hey gang, it’s alright. We’ll think of a plan, and we’ll be out of here in no time,” said the Doctor.

“Can we go and find some rope or a ladder?” suggested Yasmin.

“The nearest city is hours away, and the TARDIS is too complicated, neither of you will be able to find something useful, it’d take you till tomorrow at least,” sighed the Doctor.

Things went quiet, the others watching the cogs spin and turn in the Doctor’s mind. Ryan looked at his bandaged foot, a grimace forming on his face. Yasmin remembered Ryan had broken his wrist once in year four; and he had taken it surprisingly well, asking if he’d get a scar. Suppose that was different, he was in a hospital, and on Earth.

“How long have we got until things go south?” asked Graham, as gently as he could.

“Exposure to the cold reduces blood flow, and first things to suffer are fingers, toes, ears and noses. We’ll have to get out before we lose those. We need to watch out for frost bite too; any lack of feeling or colour. By the looks of it, we could have possibly an hour, but under two at best,” said the Doctor.

Yasmin shuddered, “I could try and pilot the TARDIS down to you, couldn’t I?”

The Doctor smiled fondly, “Not this time, Yaz. The TARDIS is programmed to avoid certain situations, and a snow hole is one of them.”

“What can we do?” asked Graham.

“Just watch out for too much shivering, memory loss, slurring and, very importantly, don’t let us fall asleep,” said the Doctor.

Ryan had been suspiciously quiet during the conversation, except his wide eyes showed he had been listening. He was sub-consciously trying to control his shivering, arms crossed over his chest.

“Can we get any blankets? More coats?” asked Graham.

“No, no Graham. It won’t make much of a difference, and it could be risky if we fall asleep. Just let me think of a plan…I must have one in here somewhere,” said the Doctor, tapping her head.

“Hurry up, Doctor,” grumbled Ryan.

“Ryan!” said the Doctor loudly, surprising him, “On your feet! You and me, we’re going to pace around while I come up with a plan. And then, I’m going to teach you a traditional Glaciesi dance.”

“Are you going to teach me a dance or am I going to flail around with you,” said Ryan, being pulled to his feet by the Doctor.

“Rude, Ryan. I am actually a fantastic dancer,” said the Doctor, pacing behind him.

They seemed to forget the impending danger once the Doctor started teaching Ryan the dance. She tripped over both their feet and spun around so much that none of them were sure if it was part of the dance or not. She swayed on her feet and Ryan laughed, commenting that she danced like every mum in his building.

After a while, they both grew tired and sat down. Ryan tugged his coat closer around him, and the Doctor did the same, though hers was much thinner. Yasmin noticed the look in her eyes and called down to her.

“Chuck your coat up, Doctor,” she said.

The Doctor looked confused until Yasmin shuffled her coat from her body and threw it down to the time lady. Yasmin only wore a jumper underneath but pretended she didn’t feel the freezing cold wind. The Doctor looked grateful; throwing up her own coat for Yasmin.

“That was fun,” said Ryan with a yawn, “maybe next time we could go to a ball or something.”

“Yeah, next time,” said the Doctor.

Time passed and it became obvious that the Doctor’s plan of dancing and pacing had died out with their energy. Neither of them could stand anymore, despite the others’ encouragement.

Ryan sat close to the Doctor, his head falling onto her shoulder as he drifted. She’d shrug him awake whenever she realised, but she was drifting off herself. The Doctor was mumbling to herself and every now and then Yazmin heard their names echo up to her. Graham was watching them intently with a worried expression.

“How are they doing?” asked Yasmin.

“It’s hard to tell. Ryan won’t talk to me anymore…I don’t know if he can even hear me,” said Graham.

“He’s probably just saving his energy. I’m sure he’s really glad you’re here for him,” smiled Yasmin.

“They’ve got both of us, and they’ve got each other. We’ll get through this, we always do,” said Graham.

Yasmin sighed and looked down at her friends. The Doctor’s face had grown pale, drawn tight into a frown. Her lips trembled, but at least they hadn’t gone blue quite yet. She was trying to stay strong for Ryan, who looked much worse off. He laid next to her, heavy in thought, staring down at the snow beneath them. Yasmin could see how hard he was trying to stay awake. The Doctor had managed to distract him for a while but even aliens had to fight against the cold.

“Ryan, stay awake,” warned the Doctor in between shivers.

Ryan’s shivering was even worse, and the chattering of his teeth echoed around the hole they were stuck in. Yasmin could see all he wanted to do was drift into sleep and she couldn’t blame him. She was tired too, except she was much warmer.

“Please…look after Ryan. He’s all I have,” said Graham quietly. The Doctor heard him though and nodded solemnly.

Ryan’s eyes closed as if he hadn’t even heard Graham, though he probably hadn’t. His face was buried into the Doctor’s shoulder, his laboured breaths now shallow as he snored. The Doctor shook him but he didn’t stir.

“Ryan!” said the Doctor desperately, though he didn’t respond.

“I’m not standing by and watching this!” shouted Yasmin, making the Doctor jump.

“I can’t think, my brain’s gone all fuzzy,” said the Doctor miserably.

“Doctor, you have to think of something. You’ve gotten us out of everything so far, we trust you! Just open your eyes and come up with a plan. That’s what you’re good at,” said Yasmin.

“Yaz…” sighed the Doctor, but she opened her eyes. Her eyelashes had frosted, causing the skin around them to turn red in irritation. She reached up and rubbed her eyes, some of the frost landing on her cheek.

“Come on Doctor, for Ryan,” she added.

The Doctor’s eyes had dulled, but they lit up again at the mention of the boy’s name. He was curled up at her side, eyes blinking open and then closing again moments later. The Doctor would never give up when someone else's fate rested in her hands, Yasmin knew that, and she needed to exploit it.

“Okay,” she said, her voice beginning to slur, “for Ryan."

The Doctor went quiet for a few moments, staring down at Ryan. The others worried that she had passed out, knowing then there'd be no way to wake her up. Instead though, her head snapped up to Yasmin.

“I have a plan, but it’s going to be difficult,” she said.

“Well hurry up, I can do it,” Yasmin said desperately.

“You’re going to need to trick the TARDIS. You know how to pilot her, right? She needs to think she’s taking you to safety,” explained the Doctor.

Yasmin nodded, “Okay, can you talk me through it?”

The Doctor nodded, “Stay on the phone to Graham, I’ll talk you through it all, no need to worry.”

Yasmin took out her phone and sprinted through the snow, despite Graham calling for her once again to be careful. She avoided any piles of snow, knowing if she got stuck she wouldn’t last much longer than Ryan or the Doctor. The TARDIS came into view shortly after, snow drifts building by her sides.

“Thank God,” she exclaimed, never happier to see the blue box.

Yasmin started struggling for breath, and she wondered if the weather was affecting her too, and Graham for that matter. She stroked the TARDIS doors and clicked her fingers, watching gratefully when the doors opened. She was extremely thankful for the warmth, though the contrast from the cold stung her skin.

“Okay girl, I need your help. But I need to call Graham and the Doctor first,” said Yasmin, earning a hum in response.

She dialled Graham’s number, and he picked up after the second ring.

“Graham?” she said.

“Yeah Yaz, I’m here. Are you back in the TARDIS?”

“I am, put me on speaker so I can talk to the Doctor,” said Yasmin.

“I’m here,” she heard the Doctor’s distant voice.

“What do I need to do?” Yasmin asked.

“The TARDIS is automatically programmed to take you to safety. To the TARDIS, that’ll be outside your building, the fam’s meeting point. But that’s not important…what is, is that you need to pilot as you would, but pull the red lever marked ‘auto’ at the same time,” said the Doctor, reaffirmed by Graham when her voice went quiet.

“And then what?” she asked.

“Doc says you need to re-adjust the coordinates before she ‘takes off’. Set it to 120.65755 and 300.87829, and then hold down the button to the lever’s left for twenty seconds. She’s just asked if you remember the coordinates,” said Graham.

“Uh, 120.65755…and 300.87829?’ said Yasmin.

“The Doc says clever girl,” said Graham.

“Okay, I just need to find the lever,” said Yasmin, pacing around the console. She’d piloted the TARDIS before, but her lessons had faded from her mind in her stress. She saw it around the other side and reached for it.

“Yaz?” came Graham’s voice.

“Yeah?”

“You need to hurry. Ryan just passed out and the Doctor definitely can’t last much longer. I give it a few minutes at most before one of them gets hypothermia.”

“Okay, okay…hang on,” said Yasmin in a flustered panic.

She spun around the screen, readying it for coordinates. She counted down quickly, knowing she was the one thing standing in the way of seeing her friends alive again. Hell, if she failed, she’d have to live with the fact that she never even got to say goodbye. Wiping away a tear, she pressed the buttons she normally would, and then pulled down the lever.

She had never typed numbers into a computer faster in her life. Even in school, when her IT GCSE had depended on it, she hadn’t been half as stressed as she was now. She typed in the last number, and the TARDIS roared. Before the TARDIS had a chance to stop her, she held down the last button, counting down twenty seconds.

“Yaz? Did you do it?” asked Graham, though his voice sounded distorted.

"I'm trying!"

"They really, really don't have any time left," said Graham in a desperate plea.

Yasmin was about to respond, but the phone was thrown from her hand when the TARDIS shook and hummed angrily. Yasmin felt the familiar vibrations beneath her feet and prayed that the TARDIS would take her where she needed to go. The TARDIS made it’s familiar sound, though it sounded angrier, and Yasmin was thrown across the console room, hitting the ground with a thud.

She rolled onto her back, groaning a curse at the ship. Her head spun, already aching from the cold it had been exposed to. She struggled to move her head once the doors burst open, revealing the Doctor and Ryan, who crawled through. Ryan winced as he moved, but he was desperate for warmth. It seemed the TARDIS had turned up the heating, just for them. The Doctor collapsed in a heap beside Yasmin, coughing violently until her breaths came through wheezily.

“Are you alright?” asked Yasmin, worriedly.

“Yeah peachy, are you?” asked the Doctor.

Yasmin felt marginally better than the other two looked. She suspected there was a bruise on her face from where she’d hit it. The Doctor’s face was now extremely red, her lips slightly blue and Ryan’s shivering was causing his muscles to ache, but at least they both had their fingers and toes.

“Could be worse.”

The Doctor threw her arm around Yasmin, pulling her closer. The two cuddled up, enjoying the warmth from both the TARDIS and each other. The Doctor laughed when Yasmin’s coat tickled the companions’ nose.

The pair of them felt a weight on their bodies as Ryan collapsed on both of them, wrapping his arms around them in a bear hug. Yasmin squeezed his hand, which was freezing. She took her gloves off, which had only just dried off, and put them on his hands. He grinned and called her a gem.

“How are you doing, Ryan?” asked Yasmin.

“I’m alive, that’s the main thing. But Jesus, we’re only going to tropical planets from now on, at least if I fall into another hole I’ll be warm.”

The Doctor laughed and promised him a trip to a holiday planet next and that they wouldn’t see snow ever again. Yasmin rested her head into the crook of the Doctor’s neck.

“I’m glad you’re my co-pilot, you really did save us back there,” said the Doctor.

“Couldn’t just let you leave me alone could I? Where would we be then?” laughed Yasmin.

“It’s not third-wheeling if you nearly died and can’t get up,” said Ryan, only half to himself.

The Doctor blushed furiously and Yasmin laughed, “Come on, someone has to get up and take the TARDIS to Graham, he’s still freezing.”

“Shot gun not,” shouted the Doctor, putting her finger on her nose. Yasmin did the same.

Ryan sighed, “I regret teaching you that.”

“Yasmin saved our lives so she’s out, and I need to pass out because unlike you I didn’t get a nap,” said the Doctor.

Ryan sighed, “Fine…Wait, I don’t even know how to fly her!”

”I’ll teach you Ryan! ‘Bout time you learned! After we pick up Graham, fancy trying to pilot us to Florida? We could go to the opening of Disneyland, that was a beautiful day!” Said the Doctor.

Ryan grinned, “You’re on.”

Chapter Text

“I think you came here with a plan, but you didn’t expect to fall in love. But that’s what happens. Use it, Charlie, learn from it. Please,” pleased the Doctor.

Charlie didn’t waver. His expression was twisted and dark, as if nothing the Doctor could say would change his opinion. He wrapped his fingers around the device sub-consciously, and it made the Doctor’s eyes wander to it. She gulped.

“No,” exclaimed Charlie, “no. If that is the price, to change how everyone on Kandoka sees technology then it is worth it. For the good of the cause.”

“This isn’t a cause,” said the Doctor darkly, “you’re not an activist. This is cold blooded murder.”

“I can’t let the systems take control!” shouted Charlie.

“The systems aren’t the problem, how people use and exploit the system, that’s the problem. People like you,” said the Doctor.

There was a long, painful pause as both the Doctor and Charlie caught their breath. Charlie had lowered the device, but the cold, calculating expression hadn’t faltered. He was just as dangerous as he had been before the Doctor’s speech. The others cowered away from him, but the Doctor never lost her stance.

“I don’t care what you think,” said Charlie, through gritted teeth, “The delivery goes ahead.”

He stormed off towards the railing, grip tightening on the device. He inhaled sharply, throwing his hands up, before pressing his palm against the device. It chimed and lit up green. Every one of the robot army beneath them spoke, lighting up their glowing eyes as the device was activated. The light of their collective eyes was so bright it made Yasmin, who had been facing them, wince. Their violent blue eyes would cause her nightmares for weeks, she imagined.

The Doctor jumped back, a shocked expression on her face as she watched the robots themselves activate. Her arms were outstretched protectively, but the robots didn’t come for the group. They just kept a hold of the packages in their arms.

“Someone, grab that controller!” shouted the Doctor.

As she spoke, Charlie raised the device above his head before hesitating for just a moment. Then, he threw it to the ground with a grunt. It hit the concrete floor with a thud that made the Doctor wince. Then, Charlie stomped on it with his foot, shattering it into pieces.

Yasmin’s eyes drifted onto Charlie, who was too distracted to notice her. The Doctor gave her a warning look, but she paid her no attention. Her focus was on her training and not on the Doctor’s concern. She was angry enough that Charlie had killed the girl he supposedly loved, and the bloke who had been so kind to her, but now he was hell-bent on killing so many more. She wouldn’t stand by.

The Doctor shouted in a panic as she watched the device being destroyed, running over to the now trampled device. She reached down for it, but she knew it was unsalvageable. She took her sonic screwdriver from her pocket as if she’d be able to repair it, but the device didn’t do anything.

“What have you done!” shouted Ryan, gesturing in a panic. Graham grimaced beside him.

“You can’t stop me now!” said Charlie.

Yasmin didn’t even know she was running until she was. Charlie was unpredictable, a danger, and unreasonable, and her time at the police academy taught her that a criminal like him had to be caught. She lunged for him and he shouted in protest. The Doctor’s head snapped up when she heard the noise of the struggle, her eyes flashing with more worry.

Yasmin’s arms had wrapped around Charlie’s neck in a hold she had been taught long ago, mostly to defend herself. Charlie was arguably much stronger than she was, so she kneeled down to steady herself when he struggled against her. She grunted when he tried to escape her hold, but she had been trained enough to resist his struggling.

“Make it stop! We’re not going to let you kill all those innocent people!” cried Yasmin.

Charlie ignored her, and just carried on struggling against her.

The robots raised their heads and spoke as a collective, “Destination coordinates locked. Preparing teleport.”

The Doctor looked away from Yasmin, focusing on the device at her feet. The sonic screwdriver shone its yellow light, but still nothing happened.

“Doc, I hope you’ve got an idea of how to fix that,” said Graham, his expression more serious than they had seen in a long time.

Ryan stood with his mouth hanging open, running his hand over his short hair in a stressed gesture.

Charlie tried to face the robots, but Yasmin tightened her grip. Charlie cursed and kicked out, the back of his foot catching her leg. She hissed out and readjusted so he couldn’t reach her.

“Not enough time to fix it,” mumbled the Doctor, taking the sonic away from the device.

“Wait, new idea,” she added, “Ugh, not enough time for that either. Maybe worth a go?”

“Maybe?” exclaimed Graham.

The Doctor’s eyes widened, “I mean definitely. Grab the postman’s head.”

“What?” asked Graham.

“Just like Judy did in the office, do it! Now!” said the Doctor.

Judy, Ryan and the Doctor sprinted towards the postman. Ryan held it down whilst Judy twisted its smiling, glowing head from its neck. Sparks flew and they all jumped back, Judy still holding the head.

“Does she know what she’s doing?” asked Slade.

“Some of the time, definitely,” said Yasmin, her voice strained.

Charlie took Yasmin’s momentary distraction, using it to his advantage. His hand had been on her arm, trying to loosen it. He noticed that it had loosened once she had spoken. He dug his fingernails into her arm, which made her wince slightly, and then tightened his grip on her arm. She looked confused for a moment, unsure of what he was planning, but then it came clear.

He violently threw Yasmin’s arm back, twisting it high above her head. She cried out in pain as her arm was stretched behind Charlie’s head, twisting into an awkward position. Then, he dragged both of them to their feet so he could forcefully kick her again, this time the hit landing on her stomach. It caused her to double over with an angry scream, the pain blossoming at an alarming rate.

The Doctor, along with Graham and Ryan, spun around in an even worse panic to see what was wrong. They turned around just in time to see Charlie pull on her arm, causing even more pain, and then throw her violently into the railings beside them.

She was lucky that she hadn’t fallen through, or over the railings and into the army of robots on the floor below. Instead, she grunted as her stomach and head came into contact with the metal railings before falling into a heap on the ground.

“Yasmin!” bellowed the Doctor, abandoning the postman head as she stumbled over to Yasmin, who looked unconscious.

“Is she okay?” asked Graham, after angrily shouting after Charlie.

“She hit that pretty hard,” added Ryan.

The Doctor rolled up Yasmin’s sleeve, revealing five sharp, deep cuts that were bleeding down her arm. They’d been caused by Charlie, digging in his nails to loosen her grip. There was heavy bruising too, and the Doctor was sure that wasn’t the only place.

She felt for Yasmin’s pulse, which was slow but steady, and felt a very slight relief.

“She’s okay. Judy, you two, look after her until I can,” instructed the Doctor.

“Of course, Doc,” said Graham, crouched beside her.

Judy brushed back Yasmin’s hair to keep it off her face, and Ryan sat cross-legged beside her as if he was keeping vigil. In truth, he was scared. Not of the robots, well slightly, but of the Doctor. Because she was extremely angry.

The Doctor left Yasmin’s side, darting away from the group. She came back with a robot in her arms, tongue poking out the side of her mouth as she laid plans.

“Twirly, I need your help,” said the Doctor, her voice shaky.

The circular robot they had used for information earlier glowed red and twisted around to face the Doctor. Normally, the Doctor would be as happy as a child to be talking to a friendly robot, but her expression was grave.

“Safe mode off. Hello again. Customers with your current medical symptoms browsed blood pressure medication and also Beta-blockers,” it said.

“This is important. I’ve linked you into the new system, to all the delivery bots and I have a request,” said the Doctor as she carried the robot over to the railings, not taking her eyes off Yasmin.

“How may we help?” said the postmen in unison below them.

“Change of delivery address. For every order about to teleport. New address, right here, this hanger, right where we’re standing. I want every Kerblam man to deliver to themselves,” said the Doctor.

“Delivery orders accepted,” spoke the postmen.

“I want every Kerblam man to open the order they’ve just delivered to themselves, making sure they do what everybody does with the bubble wrap,” added the Doctor.

“Orders confirmed,” said the postmen.

“What about Charlie?” asked Graham.

“He made his choice,” said the Doctor darkly, her eyes trained on Yasmin’s form below her.

“Delivery in process,” said the postmen, “delivery received.”

“You can’t leave him there, no matter what he’s done,” argued Graham, looking subtly to Yasmin.

The Doctor sighed, “Okay. Last chance Charlie. Come back here, or you’ll be blown up with them. We can take you somewhere safe.”

“Outgoing delivery. Activating bubble wrap,” chorused the postmen.

“No!” shouted Charlie, the blue eyes of the postmen reflecting in his own.

“Doc, get us out of here,” said Graham, his eyes wandering to the postmen, whose fingers were drastically close to the bubble wrap. He held the robot that they had gotten to help them in their arms after it had been handed to him by the Doctor.

“And remember. If you want it. Kerblam it,” came an echo from the postmen.

The Doctor took that as her final warning, teleporting herself and the others to safety. They felt a green light and heard the explosion that they had left behind, only seconds before. They reappeared in the room they had stolen the robot, and Graham’s diagram, from. She took a while to catch her breath, screwdriver still poised over the robot as she regathered her thoughts.

“If you want it, Kerblam it,” said the Doctor, rather breathlessly.

Graham and Ryan had appeared by her side, but Yasmin was still a heap on the ground. She hadn’t even stirred, despite the echo of an explosion in all of their ears.

“Kerblam is experiencing a momentary technical difficulty. Our expert engineers are already working to get the systems up and running again as quickly and as safely as possible. In the meantime, why not consider a personal mindful moment?” blasted over the tannoy.

“Right we need to get back to the TARDIS, will you two be okay?” asked the Doctor.

“We’ll be okay. We’re suspending all operations for a month, pending review. And while the TeamMates are rebuilding Dispatch,” said Slade

“All our workers have been given two weeks’ paid leave, free return shuttle transport. And I’m going to propose that Kerblam becomes a People-Led company in future. Majority organics. People, I mean,” finished Judy.

The Doctor nodded politely, glancing down at Yasmin, who twisted slightly in unconsciousness.

“Will she be alright?” asked Judy with a frown.

“Can we help you get her back to your vehicle?” offered Slade.

“Don’t worry, I’ve been practicing,” said the Doctor, scooping Yasmin up in her arms.

The unconscious girl’s arms hung limply by her side, but her head fell into the crook of the Doctor’s neck. They said goodbye hastily, as Yasmin was heavy, and then made their way back to where they’d parked the TARDIS.

When Yasmin woke up, she was on the floor of the TARDIS, still in her orange vest. She could feel a stinging pain on her arm, and dull ache all over her body. There was a cushion under her head, keeping her comfortable, though she was still in very uncomfortable amounts of pain.

“Doctor?” groaned Yasmin, pulling herself up on her elbows.

“Just us I’m afraid. How are you feeling?” asked Graham.

Graham and Ryan had been sitting on steps beside her, waiting for her to wake up. She wondered how long they'd been sat there for.

“Terrible,” Yasmin groaned, “Where’s the Doctor?”

Ryan scratched the back of his neck, “Uh, she’s been sulking for the past half hour, since we got back. I’d go and talk to her, if I were you.”

Yasmin sighed and stood up, with each boy on each arm supporting her. She doubled over quickly though, being caught by Graham. Tears formed in her eyes and she gasped.

“Are you okay?” asked Ryan, eyes wide.

“Think so. Pain in my stomach. I’ll be fine. Now, where’s the Doctor?” breathed Yasmin.

Ryan and Graham exchanged a look.

“She wandered off to her bedroom I think. Just follow the corridor, I’m sure the TARDIS will take you there,” said Graham.

Yasmin hesitated but pulled away from the boys, heading towards the corridor. In truth, every muscle screamed at her to stop, but she couldn’t shake the feeling that the Doctor was angry at her. And she couldn’t just stand by and let that happen.

The TARDIS took her down two rights and a left before she reached a TARDIS-blue door with golden edges and handle. She knocked twice, and thought she heard a mumbled invitation in.

The Doctor was perched on the end of her bed, which was an impressive four-poster, toying with the sonic in her hands. She was hunched over, eyes lowered, and almost definitely sulking. Yasmin took a seat next to her, grateful for the ease of pain.

“You’re awake then,” said the Doctor matter-of-factly.

“Yeah…missed you at the welcome back party,” said Yasmin, looking down into her lap.

“I…know,” said the Doctor.

Yasmin couldn’t hold back any more, so she said it, “Are you mad at me? ‘Cause it kinda feels like you are, and I can tell when you’re disappointed in me.”

The Doctor sighed, “I’m not mad, or disappointed. It’s just…you threw yourself into danger and nearly got killed! On my watch. Do you know how I’d feel if anything happened to you? If you had been thrown to the postmen like a package, or been killed by Charlie?”

The Doctor’s outburst shocked Yasmin.

“I get it…but I’ve been trained for situations like this. I know what I’m doing. You can’t stop me from trying to protect Ryan or Graham or…you,” said Yasmin.

“I know. Can you just…promise to be careful? Don’t get yourself killed for me, Yasmin Khan.”

Yasmin held out her pinkie finger by the Doctor’s face, “Promise.”

The Doctor glanced at it, and then shook it, which made Yasmin laugh. She wished she hadn’t though, as the movement caused a violent stabbing pain in her stomach, which made her gasp out loud.

“Right, what was that?” asked the Doctor, sternly.

Yasmin gestured sheepishly to her stomach.

“Let me see it,” said the Doctor, gesturing for Yasmin to take off her clothes.

Yasmin blushed furiously but did as she was told. She wriggled out of the vest and then her leather jacket. Her orange-hot pink jumper was a struggle to get out of, as reaching up caused her worse pain. The Doctor took it off for her, which only worsened the flush in her cheeks.

Just below her black bra was a bruise that stretched from the point under her bra to her belly-button. Some parts of it blushed pink and red, while others were already a frightening blue and purple. Yasmin looked down at it and winced.

The Doctor inhaled sharply, “How could I let this happen to you?”

Yasmin grabbed the Doctor’s hand, “This wasn’t your fault. Or mine. It was Charlie’s.”

“What a Dalek,” grumbled the Doctor, earning another pained laugh from Yasmin.

“We’ll go and get this sorted out, okay? I must have something for bruises,” said the Doctor.

Just before they stood up, Graham and Ryan came flying through the doorway. They stopped abruptly when they saw the scene in front of them. Graham looked awkward, but Ryan was grinning.

“Could’ve warned us guys,” said Graham.

“This isn’t what it looks like,” said Yasmin, gesturing between herself and a rather oblivious Doctor.

“Yeah, that’s what I said to my mum when I was fifteen,” laughed Ryan, running out of the room with his tongue sticking out.

Yasmin would’ve chased him, perhaps tackled him, if she wasn’t in pain. Also, if she didn’t enjoy the thought of spending time with the Doctor, where at least one of them was half-clothed. Bruising or not.

Chapter Text

Yasmin felt strange waking up in her own room. She was there a lot, despite staying for weeks on the TARDIS, but it felt strange not having Ryan knock on her door in the early hours, or hearing the Doctor working on a project in the console room or having Graham snore in the next room along. She missed the comfort of her friends each night when she slept in her bed alone, with nothing but the loud music coming from her sister's room to keep her company.

She was grateful when the day came round and the Doctor picked her up. She rushed around getting ready, throwing her hair in buns the Doctor complimented so often. Even eyeliner, which she hadn’t really bothered with since year 10, had become part of her daily routine when joining the Doctor.

Once ready, she perched on the edge of her bed, tying her shoes up hastily. She always aimed to leave her house before everyone came home, or woke up in Sonya’s case, so that she could avoid as many questions as possible. There was no mundane way of telling her family that she’d be on a far-away planet, running for her life, before they’d all sat down for lunch.

Her phone, resting in the pocket of her jeans, began to vibrate. She reached for it, assuming it would be Ryan or Graham, telling her to hurry up.

“Hello?” she answered, resting her phone on her shoulder so she could finish tying her shoelaces.

“Hey, Yaz?” came a distant voice over the phone.

“Doctor? You don’t usually call…usually you just park the TARDIS in my bedroom,” said Yasmin.

The line was silent for a minute, “Yes, well…about that. Can you give me a few days before you come back? I have some stuff to do…important stuff. You all living here is quite frankly distracting, no matter how much I love you. All. Love you all.”

“Doctor, you’re being weird,” said Yasmin, narrowing her eyes.

“Am not! Just…I’ll be in your bedroom this time Wednesday,” said the Doctor, before hanging up.

Yasmin stared down at her phone, confused. The Doctor was hard to figure out, she knew that, but it was very uncharacteristic of her to cancel. She loved their adventures even more than they did, and that was saying something.

She decided to call Ryan, wondering if he had been fed the same story. For a moment, deep down, she had been worried that Ryan and Graham were aboard the TARDIS, and it had just been her who had been left behind.

The phone rang twice, then Ryan answered, “You alright Yaz?”

“Yeah Ryan…I was just wondering, did the Doctor call you?” asked Yasmin.

“Oh, yeah. She said something about needing a personal day. Who knows, maybe she has a job or something? Works at an alien café on her days off,” said Ryan.

Yasmin bit her lip, “Oh yeah, maybe. She’ll turn up in an apron next time we see her.”

Ryan laughed, “I wouldn’t be surprised! Alright Yaz I better go, you’re not the only one with an actual job. I’ll tell you all about it when I see you, it’s only my second day.”

“Alright, see ya Ryan.”

“Bye Yaz.”

Yasmin was slightly more satisfied after her conversation with Ryan, because at the very least it meant she wasn’t being left behind. At least, they all were and not just her. She put her phone in her pocket, not before checking to see if the Doctor had called her again.

“Yasmin? Who are you on the phone to?” her mother called to her.

“No one!” she called back.

“I thought it might be that friend of yours, because I thought I saw her wandering around outside when I got back from the shop.”

“Really?” said Yasmin.

“Yeah, she sat in the road to stroke a cat, it went for her and then she scanned it with some weird thing in her hand. Thought she was going to shoot it, actually, glad she didn’t.”

Yasmin was already half way out of the door, jacket slung over her shoulder, trying to tune her mother out.

“I’m going to go say hi, I’ll be back soon,” shouted Yasmin, slamming the door behind her.

Yasmin found the TARDIS parked to the back of her estate, where she often met Ryan and Graham before adventures. Except, they weren’t with her today. She stormed up to the TARDIS, listening out for the Doctor.

Yasmin banged her fist twice on the door of the TARDIS, giving the Doctor the chance to greet her. She sighed in frustration when she heard no footsteps approaching her, or any voices on the other side of the door.

“Doctor? I know you’re in here,” shouted Yasmin, opening the TARDIS doors with a sharp click of her fingers.

The Doctor didn’t respond, so Yasmin stomped around trying to get her attention, “What are you doing? I know you’re up to something, you can fool the boys but not me, you should know that by now.”

She rolled her eyes when the room stayed silent. She did, though, hear a beep from the TARDIS.

“Has she got you in on this to? Typical,” said Yasmin.

The TARDIS beeped again, though seemingly angrier. At first Yasmin ignored her, pacing around to find any sign of life in the ship.

“If I were an alien, where would I hide…” Yasmin mumbled to herself.

Yasmin looked up at the screen attached to the TARDIS’s console. It beeped twice to get her attention, so she walked over to it curiously. What looked like the Doctor’s monitored heart-beats were displayed on the screen, dangerously sluggish. Yasmin frowned when the screen flickered, now revealing a Wikipedia-reminiscent information page.

“Six Planet Fever; an illness that affects only species in the constellation of Kasterborous. Eradicated from most civilisations, but certain species can carry the illness until it comes into contact with Kasterborous. Very dangerous and take less than a day before the fever becomes irreversible,” read Yasmin in a muttered voice.

“So, I suppose that’s what the Doctor has then?” asked Yasmin.

The TARDIS lights dimmed and then rose up brightly again, as if the ship was nodding. Yasmin took that as confirmation and sighed. Yasmin’s finger traced the screen, reading on down the page. The TARDIS scrolled it down for her, and she grew increasingly worried.

“Where is she?” asked Yasmin.

The TARDIS hummed and lit up a corridor beside Yasmin. She’d recognised it as the corridor down to their own bedrooms, when they’d begun to stay overnight in the TARDIS for weeks on end. Ryan and Yasmin, though given their own rooms, each had a set of bunkbeds. Graham was very smug when he walked into his own room, complete with a double bed. Yasmin walked past her own red room, then Ryan’s blue, then Graham’s green until she reached the end of the corridor.

“Doctor?” asked Yasmin loudly.

She jumped back when a door appeared at the wall of the end of the corridor. It was made from pale wood with ‘13’ engraved neatly into it, just as their own names were on their doors. The handle appeared and Yasmin tugged at it. At first, she thought it was locked, but after a few forceful tugs the door opened.

“Doctor?” she whispered as she walked through the now open door.

She didn’t get a response, but a figure in the large bed in the centre of the room twisted over to see the newcomer. Twisted up in sheets and blankets, mumbling deliriously to herself, the Doctor glanced up at Yasmin in surprise.

Her eyes closed as Yasmin approached, averse to the light she had welcomed into the room when she had opened the door. The Doctor’s blonde hair messily framed her face like a jagged halo, darkness under her eyes. She was fully clothed, except for her coat. Her suspenders had fallen from her shoulders, handing lazily by her trousers. In short, she looked a mess.

Yasmin’s cool fingers brushed against the Doctor’s flushed cheek. It was sweaty and alarmingly warm, which explained why the alien leaned so gratefully into Yasmin’s cold hand. The momentary relief meant she could open her tired eyes and look at Yasmin.

“You’re really warm,” said Yasmin.

The Doctor made an inaudible noise in response.

“Why didn’t you tell anyone?” asked Yasmin softly.

“Didn’t want to worry you…” mumbled the Doctor.

“The TARDIS told me all about it, your Six Planet Fever. Of course, I’m going to worry about you! It sounds really, really bad,” said Yasmin, biting her lip.

“Oh, no, it’s not that bad. Important thing is, I can’t fall asleep. Time lords don’t sleep that much, fun fact, but this fever makes it almost impossible not to,” explained the Doctor through chattering teeth.

“And…what happens if you do fall asleep?” asked Yasmin.

“Well, I’ll be lost in a torment of nightmares as the fever slowly stops both of my hearts. I’ll go to sleep and I won’t wake up again,” said the Doctor sheepishly.

“Doctor!” whined Yasmin, tears building in her own wide scared eyes.

“Hey, hey, that’s not going to happen. As long as I stay awake for, eh, about 24 hours then the fever will be as harmless as your human common cold,” reassured the Doctor.

Yasmin took a seat next to the Doctor on her many, many blankets, unsure of what to say. She could hear the Doctor’s wheezy breaths, and the way she fidgeted uncomfortably. It made her heart sink.

“You can go, you know. I’ll call you when I’m feeling better, and then we can gather up the boys and go on another adventure,” said the Doctor croakily.

Yasmin laughed loudly, which made the Doctor wince.

“Fat chance I’m leaving you like this! I’m going to go make you some tea, and then I’m coming straight back. You better move up, we’re in for a long sleepover,” said Yasmin.

She walked off to the TARDIS kitchen, making herself some coffee and the Doctor some tea, with three sugars, as usual. The Doctor smiled dreamily after her, putting half of her pillows on the other side of the bed so Yasmin would be comfortable when she returned. She was grateful that Yasmin had left her for a moment though, because it allowed her to hunch over and feel the headache that was blossoming in her head.

When Yasmin returned, two mugs in her hand, the Doctor pretended not to feel the intense headache. She smiled lazily at the girl, who placed the mugs on the Doctor’s bedside table. Yasmin climbed into bed beside the Doctor, already feeling the heat from the alien’s skin.

“You don’t have to do this,” said the Doctor.

“Nice try,” said Yasmin.

“Seriously, I don’t want to keep you here,” she whined.

“Well you’re stuck with me, so shut up,” said Yasmin, pulling the covers over her own legs as well as the Doctor’s.

“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you,” said the Doctor, her teeth chattering.

“It’s okay. I’m always gonna look after you, okay? You’ve looked after me plenty.”

At first, it was awkward lying next to the Doctor. She contemplated cuddling her, or throwing her legs over her, but every time they brushed knees or hands Yasmin froze. But, soon, the Doctor sniffled and fidgeted, her head leaning down on Yasmin’s chest. Her hand reached up and played with strands of her blonde hair.

“Can you see the orange skies Yaz?” asked the Doctor in a short breath.

Yasmin frowned and looked around. She saw rich blue and cream walls, objects of all kinds on a dresser and a wardrobe overflowing with strange suits and colourful robes, but she definitely didn’t see an orange sky.

“Uh, no,” answered Yasmin nervously.

The Doctor looked embarrassed, then worried. Her feverish eyes danced around the room as if she were trying to work out what was real and what wasn’t. Yasmin realised she must be hallucinating.

“Tell me more,” said Yasmin, looking into the Doctor’s far away eyes.

“Look. The plains of red, and gentle silver leaves that look like the entire morning is on fire. There’s two moons, white as the snow on the red grass, oh, it’s beautiful Yaz,” reiterated the Doctor.

“It sounds beautiful,” smiled Yasmin.

“It was, I wish you could’ve seen it.”

Suddenly, the Doctor was cut off by a furious cough that erupted from her lungs and her burning throat. The cough turned quickly into a coughing fit and she struggled to catch her breath. She doubled over, spluttering, and Yasmin watched her with wide eyes.

“Doctor! Can I get you something?”

“No,” breathed the Doctor, “I’ll be fine.”

“Do you want some custard creams?” asked Yasmin helplessly, looking up at the Doctor.

“I don’t want custard creams…I want jammy dodgers. Why did I stop eating them?” the Doctor grumbled.

“You’re losing your voice as it is, don’t waste what’s left complaining about biscuits you, let’s face it, can’t even taste,” said Yasmin.

The Doctor pouted, her blood-shot eyes pooling tears. Her sad, puppy-dog eyes were bad enough, but now Yasmin was almost physically unable to resist them. Her eyes streamed with pained tears, betraying the way her tired eyes stung.

“Yaz, I don’t think I can stay awake for much longer,” said the Doctor.

“Yes, you can, you need to, okay? Keep your eyes open for me yeah?” said Yasmin. Nervously. The Doctor only nodded and gulped.

“Can’t I sleep for five minutes?” asked the Doctor, her voice beginning to slur.

“You definitely can’t! Don’t make me pinch you,” warned Yasmin.

Yasmin wasn’t surprised the Doctor wanted to sleep. She looked worse than she had when she’d come crashing literally into their lives. She was burning up too, a worse temperature than Yasmin had ever had in her life. The back of her hand found the Doctor’s forehead, which felt was like placing your hand in front of a fire. The Doctor winced at the contact, the pain in her head felt more strongly than before.

“What am I gonna do with you?” asked Yasmin softly.

A loud beeping, almost like an alarm clock, blared from the distance, making them both jump. It sounded as though it was coming from the console room. It didn’t sound like the TARDIS’s usual contributions to their conversations. The sound sent the Doctor’s eyes wide and her mouth fell open. It looked as though she was trying to say something, but she was too weak.

The Doctor threw herself out of bed, shocking Yasmin, but her legs gave in the second they touched the floor. Her knees buckled painfully and she hit the ground with a squeak of surprise.

“Doctor, seriously! Be careful,” said Yasmin, throwing herself to her knees so that she could check the Doctor over.

Yasmin was sure the alien’s knees would bruise at the rate she hit the floor, but the immediate problem was the fact that the Doctor wasn’t replying to her. She had closed her eyes on impact and had yet to open them. Instead, she slumped in Yasmin’s arms, a frown developing on her face.

“Doctor?” said Yasmin nervously, trying to get her to stand up.

She had gone limp, heavy in Yasmin’s arms. She felt her heart speed up as if she herself had two and the worry in the pit of her stomach grew. She shook her more violently this time, but the Doctor didn’t respond.

Yasmin’s breath hitched and she laid the Doctor down so she could breathe easier, as her lungs struggled in her unconsciousness.

“What do I do?” Yasmin shouted, banging her fists on the wall as if the TARDIS would appear and save her friend.

The Doctor’s lips, chapped and bitten, had gone an almost blue tinge. They trembled violently, and Yasmin could feel that the Doctor’s once burning skin was now ice cold. She put her hand over the Doctor’s as if that would help warm her up, but it did no good. There were dark circles under her eyes, which her dark eyelashes fluttered over in her feverish sleep.

“Doctor, you have to wake up. Please, I need you. We all do… screw that, I need you! Get up!" yelled Yasmin, as if she could hear her somewhere in her dreams.

Yasmin wasn’t sure when she’d started crying, but she imagined it was sometime after she realised the Doctor wasn’t moving, not consciously at least. She twitched in her sleep as like a puppy who was pretending to run, though Yasmin thought the Doctor’s dreams would be much more sinister. Her heart broke at her own helplessness.

“Please…” she whispered, her chin resting on the Doctor’s chest.

Yasmin thought she heard a grunt, and screwed her eyes closed tightly. She didn’t know how she could help the friend who had saved her life countless times. She’d saved Ryan and Graham countless times, too. How was she meant to tell them that the Doctor had trusted her, and she had failed?

“You never fail me Yasmin Khan.”

The voice was barely audible, but there, and Yasmin froze.

“What?” Yasmin choked.

“Though, I’d be a lot happier if you’d stop digging your chin into me, but I guess I should be glad you don’t have my old one,” said the Doctor, her rambling voice weak and strained. She opened her eyes very slowly, and with a wince. Her eyes were full of exhaustion, and pain, but they held a flicker of light as they looked up at Yasmin.

Yasmin threw herself upright, staring with a grin as the Doctor pulled herself upright.

“You’re okay!”

“Of course, I’m okay, I had Yaz looking after me,” said the Doctor smugly. Her voice, however, sounded comical with her stuffed nose and sore throat.

Yasmin frowned for a moment, and pushed the Doctor away from her, “I thought you were dying!”

“Hey, hey! I was dying, and now I’m not. I do tend to do that. Oh Yaz, look at those eyes. I do hate those sad human eyes,” said the Doctor.

Yasmin, without thinking, threw her arms around the Doctor. She was still stiff and sore from the fever that was still leaving her body, but she wrapped her own arms around Yasmin just as enthusiastically. Yasmin found herself stroking the Doctor’s hair again, as if it had developed into a habit in a short few hours.

“What time is it?” asked the Doctor sleepily.

Yasmin pulled her phone from her pocket to check. Underneath the time displayed on the home screen, which was a photo of the four travellers, she saw a text from Ryan, who was saved as ‘Bicycle Boy’ in her phone. Affectionately, and with hearts of course. It had been revenge, considering her name in his contacts had ranged from ‘Hot Fuzz’ to ‘Chief Wiggum’.

It read; ‘Graham saw you running to the TARDIS-you’re such a cheat. Hope you ladies have fun without us ;))’.

“What does semi-colon-double bracket mean?” asked the Doctor, who peered over Yasmin’s shoulder.

“Nothing, let’s get you back into bed. If you sneeze on me, though, and I catch your alien germs, I’m going to be so mad,” said Yasmin, pulling the Doctor to her feet. The Doctor wrapped her arm around Yasmin to support herself.

“It’s not contagious,” grumbled the Doctor, resting her head on Yasmin’s.

“Yeah yeah, I’ll be the judge of that,” said Yasmin, though she quickly regretted it when she realised she’d get a teasing earful from the boys when the Doctor inevitably told them of their antics.

“I guess you will,” said the Doctor, offering her a jammy dodger from a plate that was now sat on her bedside table before sneezing on the plate and earning a light smack from Yasmin.

Chapter Text

“Delightful planet called Star Five, you’ll all love it. It’s an economy planet, one of only three in the universe. I’ve only been here once before, long time ago, but they have these alien markets where all kinds of species come and sell their goods,” said the Doctor excitedly as she threw open the doors.

Ryan looked over the Doctor, grinning in excitement. Graham did the same on the Doctor’s other side. Yasmin, who was by far the shortest, had gotten used to not being able to see until the tall had already stepped onto the planet. Most of the time, the Doctor let her go first, but she had forgotten in her excitement.

“Oh,” said the Doctor defeatedly, checking her surroundings with the sonic.

“So where are we really, Doc?” said Graham with a sigh, knowing all too well the expression on the Doctor’s face.

“We’re on Earth. Trillions of years in the future. It shouldn’t be here…at all.”

“So, what happened?” asked Yasmin.

“I’m not sure. For some reason, Earth’s been displaced. We shouldn’t be here, whoever’s here with us shouldn’t be either. It’s dangerous,” said the Doctor with a frown.

“But what if someone’s hurt? The humans might need us,” said Yasmin.

“Fine, fine. But you three are staying in the TARDIS. I mean it, none of you follow me, okay?” said the Doctor with her best stern expression.

Yasmin was the first to nod, and the others followed, though much more reluctantly. Once satisfied, the Doctor ushered them all back into the TARDIS before leaving to explore, alone.

“It’s not really fair, is it,” said Ryan once the Doctor had gone, “I want to explore things even the Doctor doesn’t know.”

“You won’t be saying that when you end up dead on Earth trillions of years away from our own time son,” said Graham gently.

“I just want to have a quick look around, nothing stupid,” said Ryan, though he was already half way through the TARDIS doors.

“Can’t the Doctor just lock the doors?” sighed Graham.

“Don’t worry, I’ll go and get him, you stay here in case the Doctor comes back and starts freaking out,” said Yasmin.

Yasmin jogged towards the TARDIS doors, peering anxiously out of them in case she encountered something that wasn’t Ryan. Instead, she found him kicking around the dusty ground.

“Didn’t find anything exciting?” she asked as she approached him.

“It’s all just dirt…and like a few trees. Is this really all Earth is? Trillions of years, where’s the hoverboards and the floating buildings?” asked Ryan.

Yasmin laughed, “Maybe there’s still time to invent them. Let’s just go back, alright? The Doctor will be back soon anyway, she wouldn’t leave us for too long.”

“I guess you’re right. But we better go somewhere amazing after this,” said Ryan.

As they turned around towards the TARDIS, they heard a sound that resembled a loud gush of wind behind them. Yasmin picked up the pace, but Ryan turned around curiously. Behind them, four aliens had materialised, each with a gun in hand.

They looked like mutated humans, with deep red skin, triangular ears and fingers that were uncomfortably too long. Their eyes, which caused the companions the most distress, was that their eyes were solid black.

“Ryan, run,” said Yasmin, but one of the aliens materialised in front of her and blocked her path to the TARDIS.

Yasmin was only partly happy that it wasn’t a gun in their hands, but a scanner. Well, she supposed it was a gun too, by the looks of how threatening it was. The alien pointed it at Yasmin, despite Ryan’s pleads, and pulled down the trigger. Instead of shooting a bullet, it beeped.

“Human. 21st Century,” read out the alien.

Another alien, that had been much closer to Ryan, did the same thing with their scanner. Ryan still flinched when it was aimed to his head.

“Human. 21st Century.”

“Extract them,” ordered one of the aliens.

The aliens pulled out what looked like strange syringes from their gun belts, holding them up like knives. Yasmin and Ryan began to tremble as they came face to face with the eerily black liquid that sloshed around in the transparent syringe.

The alien closest to Ryan took another step forward, trapping him in place. He forcefully held up his arm, which made Ryan yelp, and pushed the needle into his arm. Yasmin called out to him, trying to reach him, but was just as stuck.

“You will be extracted,” said the alien, turning menacingly to Yasmin.

She gasped and jumped back, careful not to stand on Ryan, who had quickly crumpled to the ground. The other aliens picked him up and held him up by the arm-pits, in a way that looked pretty undignified.

“What do you want?” asked Yasmin, in her best Doctor-ish voice.

“You will be extracted,” the alien repeated.

“Yeah, I got that,” winced Yasmin, backing up.

Another alien appeared behind her and she shouted out in surprise. Once cornered, the first of the aliens took another of the needles and pressed it into Yasmin’s neck. She shuddered at the coldness of the liquid when it reached her warm blood. It made her whole body tingle by the time the alien had removed the needle.

It took a matter of seconds before she could no longer feel her fingers, or her face, or her legs. They folded beneath her, and she collapsed beside where Ryan had fallen. She was still on the verge of consciousness when they began dragging her away by her arms.

She heard, almost lost to the blackness, a desperate shout of “No, Yasmin! Ryan!” in the distance. They had shouted something else, but Yasmin had already lost the battle to unconsciousness and fell limp.

After a while, her mind swirled with half-formed thoughts and murky dreams until it managed to latch onto a voice which she was sure wasn’t her own.

“Oi, Yaz…”

“Oh, for God’s sake, Yasmin!”

The voice distorted in her head to the point where Yasmin couldn’t tell if it was in her mind or in front of her closed eyes. Her heart sped up slightly at the thought of someone leering over her, especially considering she couldn’t move. Her eyes fluttered, and she heard relief in the voice that was still trying to talk to her.

“Come on, open your eyes…”

She was finally able to coax herself awake after a few more frustrated pleas from the disembodied voice. Her eyelids, which felt as if they had been glued down, finally lifted and revealed dark chocolate eyes looking into her own.

“It’s about time, I was getting pretty bored,” said the voice attached to the eyes.

Ryan was sitting cross-legged in front of her, arms crossed. Yasmin realised she had been sat up, her head propped against the wall beside her. She attempted to raise it, but it felt unusually heavy, so she let it fall back against it.

She looked around the room they were in. It was small and square, with no windows or visible doors. It was some sort of futuristic cell, except with the dirty floor of a London back-street. There were no beds, or chairs; just herself and Ryan.

“They sat me up, that’s sweet of them,” mumbled Yasmin, her voice croaky.

“Nah you idiot, I did. This floor’s pretty sticky, didn’t want you to get stuck to it. Anyway, are you okay?” said Ryan.

In truth, she didn’t feel great. The needle that had invaded her neck left a stinging pain, leaving her groggy and stressed. She had been surprised that she hadn’t cried yet, but glad, as that would’ve been something she’d never live down.

“Yeah, good. What happened?” she responded.

“Aliens, as always. They injected us with something, but I’m hoping because they knew we’re humans it won’t kill us or anything. Maybe that’s just wishful thinking,” said Ryan.

“Well, we’re not dead yet. Any idea where they took us?” asked Yasmin.

“Nah, they knocked me out first, remember? Just dragged us away, I guess. Or maybe it was a teleport. Either way, the TARDIS, Doctor and Graham aren’t here.”

Yasmin sighed, glancing down to the floor. She felt a strange pull at her wrist, like someone had wrapped their own hand painfully around it.

“What is this?” asked Yasmin, gesturing to whatever had been placed around her wrist while she had been unconscious.

“Dunno,” said Ryan, who had given up trying to remove it a few minutes after he had woken up.

“I think it’s a tag,” said Yasmin, holding her arm out in front of her to examine it closer.

The thick, blue band around her wrist dug deep into her skin and itched. She twisted around to try and relieve the pain, but only managed to worsen it, the redness of her skin developing at a rapid rate.

“There’s no point, not even a chainsaw could get these off,” said Ryan, glancing down to his own tagged wrist.

Yasmin ignored him and continued to twist the tag on her wrist around in frustration. Eventually, her skin had torn and blood began to form in a ring around the band. She looked at it in surprise, gulping loudly.

“I told you to stop,” snapped Ryan, who then softened, “hey, don’t worry. We’re going to get out of here. Just stay calm.”

Yasmin laughed darkly, “I’m the one whose ‘ad training for these situations. Even had to play a hostage once in a demo. I should be the one keeping you calm, not the other way round.”

“Hey, I work in a warehouse with a coordination disorder, I’m perfectly equipped for dangerous situations,” argued Ryan.

“I know I shouldn’t be glad you’re here with me, but I kind of am,” said Yasmin softly.

“I get you. Wouldn’t choose to be kidnapped by aliens with anyone else, Yaz,” grinned Ryan.

 

**

 

“Graham?”

He turned to the voice, assuming it would be Ryan or Yasmin, but found the Doctor standing, dishevelled, in the doorway.

“Doc?”

“Oh, good! You’re still here. I thought it’d be Yaz who stayed put but still, appreciate it.”

“Where are the others?” asked Graham nervously.

The Doctor frowned deeply, “I saw the Tillurians take them. They couldn’t stay where they were, could they?”

“What’s a Tillurian?” asked Graham.

“The Tillurians are creatures who can appear and disappear, even planet to planet. They take over civilisations of humans, usually for slavery. You humans stole their planet when you tried took over the universe. They displaced Earth to stay hidden from authorities, I’m sure they didn’t expect to lure any new humans in,” said the Doctor.

“Are they in danger?” asked Graham.

“No, not if we can reach them before processing. It means we have to hurry, though. I think I can pinpoint where the Tillurians dematerialised, so we can follow them with the TARDIS,” said the Doctor.

“Let’s go, then!” shouted Graham as the Doctor danced around the TARDIS, pressing buttons and pulling levers in a desperate, flustered run.

The TARDIS seemed as eager as her pilots to find the others and dematerialised even before the Doctor had finished typing in coordinates.

“I think we’re here,” said the Doctor, looking at the screen.

“Where?” asked Graham.
“It looks like some sort of base. You see these pods on the screen, looks like there’s been humans in them. They’re empty now, aside from one. If we can get through the Tillurians and into where the pods are, we can get them out without anyone being hurt.”

The pods were like cells that lined the walls of the room. Graham supposed it was a jail, just way more high-tech and futuristic. They were parked just outside of the base, which was heavily guarded.

Inside one of the pods on the screen, there were two dots. One red, one yellow. The red moved in a circular motion as if the person attached was pacing while the yellow stayed still.

“How do we know that’s Yaz and Ryan?” asked Graham.

“All the humans are tagged or monitored somehow. The TARDIS hacked into the system. She’s working on hacking their information, too,” explained the Doctor.

On the screen, an image popped up like it was an advert. It read ‘Female Human 0118’ and ‘Male Human 0117’ with information and vitals beneath it. Their heart rates were concerningly slow, and they were clearly terrified, but they were alive.

“They’ve found traces of Artron energy on them, so it’s definitely our two. Let’s go and get them, quickly,” said the Doctor.

“Wait, a message just came up. It says ‘Transition in progress’, what does that mean?” asked Graham.

The Doctor’s eyes darkened, “Hurry.”

 

**

 

The aliens had appeared in the room with them after what felt like hours. They watched Ryan and Yasmin with beady, careful eyes.

Yasmin had paced around for a while once she had felt strong enough, but it had only made her dizzier. Ryan pulled her down beside him when she began to sway. She was trying to remain calm for him, but her whole body shook and she was struggling to keep nausea down.

“Come here,” said Ryan, holding out her arms.

He smiled when she crawled into them, relaxing into his hold. She positioned herself over his lap sideways, head resting comfortably in the crook of his neck.

“Do not touch before transition,” barked an alien from the other side of the room they were in. Yasmin hadn’t realised they were even guarding them, let alone that they were seeing them.

“Hey it’s okay. Think about something else. Do you wanna know what I always think about on the TARDIS? Do you remember that time in primary school when I was supposed to do a presentation for the assembly, but I got up there and froze, so the teacher made a joke about it? She got them calling me Cowardly Lion Ryan for months,” Ryan said.

Yasmin laughed, “Yeah I do remember that.”

“Well, I want to get the Doctor to take us back them, to the day before the presentation, and I will tell younger me to punch that teacher in the face.”

That made Yasmin laugh louder, and Ryan could feel it as her body shook.

“One, the Doctor would never let you corrupt little you and two, she’d never let you convince yourself to punch someone,” argued Yasmin.

“It’s nice to think about, though,” shrugged Ryan.

Suddenly, the door appeared once again and two aliens walked through it. Yasmin was about to spring away from Ryan but he gave her a reassuring squeeze and she stayed where she was.

“Disobedience.” Stated the alien.

“And what?” said Yasmin, though slightly nervously.

The alien stalked over to Yasmin. Ryan tried to protect her, but she was acting more of a human shield to him than the other way round. He hated her police habits, that so often got her in trouble. The alien raised it's hand to Yasmin, who flinched. The back of its hand slapped painfully and violently across Yasmin's face, which sent it snapping to one side. Ryan yelled abuse at the alien, but it ignored him.

“We will fix it,” said the alien.

Yasmin frowned, rubbing her hurt cheek, and found that she was dragged by the arm towards the door that had appeared for the aliens.

“No! Ryan!” shouted Yasmin, holding out her hand.

Ryan held her hand, skidding on his feet to keep her in the room. Eventually, the alien let go of Yasmin and walked over to Ryan menacingly. He cowered when the alien retrieved a tiny device, about the size of a beetle, and attached it to the side of Ryan’s neck.

It sunk metal claws into his neck and he screamed, though no sound came out. Yasmin shouted for him and threw herself towards him, only to be picked up by the alien and taken forcefully out of the room.

Ryan watched her go, and then watched the door disappear. He didn’t know what had happened, except that the device was stuck and he couldn’t remove it. That, and whatever the device was, it was now preventing him from speaking. He could feel the strain on his vocal cords and his throat every time he attempted to speak, but each time he wasn’t able to make even a noise.

His mind raced in a panic, though he wasn’t sure what he was worried about more. Yasmin, or that he may never speak again. What if the Doctor resented him for losing Yasmin, and didn’t want him around because even the TARDIS could speak better than he could?

He felt around the device on his neck, wondering if he’d be able to remove it. It looked even tougher than the tags they wore, and it had dug deep into his skin. He wondered, if he pulled it out, could that cause him to bleed out? Or, would it permanently damage his voice? He realised, talking to himself, that he sounded insane. He withdrew his hand from his neck and watched the wall with the invisible door miserably.

A while went by, and he began to hear people outside. He thought it was strange, considering the aliens only spoke when they needed to. They didn’t seem very sociable, or at least not around humans.

“Ryan?” he heard, muffled, through the wall.

“Yaz? Is that you?” he tried to say, but the words wouldn’t come out. He kicked the wall in deepening frustration.

He realised it wasn’t Yasmin, or the aliens, when he heard a comforting whirr of a sonic screwdriver. The outline of the rectangular door appeared and then it slid into the wall, revealing the Doctor and Graham on the other side. He jumped to his feet to greet them.

“Ryan! Are you okay?” said the Doctor, checking him over with her screwdriver.

He shook his head, and the Doctor frowned.

“What’s wrong?” asked Graham, but Ryan just shook his head again.

The Doctor paused for a second, and then handed the psychic paper from her pocket. She held it out for Ryan, who took it hesitantly.

“Hold it with both hands and think. Show me the message,” instructed the Doctor.

Ryan did what he was told. The blank paper formed letters, then words, in front of his eyes. Eventually it read, ‘Can’t talk, they’ve done something to my voice. Look at my neck.’ He handed it to the Doctor, who read it aloud for Graham.

“Of course, they did, nasty species. Stay still Ryan, this might hurt a little bit. It’ll be over soon, promise,” said the Doctor.

The Doctor, tongue sticking out in concentration, pressed the sonic into the skin beside the device on Ryan’s neck. The orange light lit up his skin and with a whirr, the device twitched and sparked before falling to the ground. Ryan winced and held back a shout as the metal detached itself from his skin. It had left six small holes, all of which held a drop of blood that spilled down his neck.

Ryan coughed violently and Graham patted him worriedly on the back.

“Are you alright?” asked the Doctor, hurriedly checking him over.

“Yeah, yeah I’ll be fine. What was that?” said Ryan, his voice hoarse.

“It’s a Tillurian method. The device has been outlawed in every galaxy. It attaches to the body and inhibits your senses, depending on where you put it. It can affect hearing, seeing, tasting, touching, speaking, or whatever else. Nasty piece of torture, to keep humans submissive,” growled the Doctor.

Ryan winced at the thought and subconsciously wiped the blood from his neck.

“Ryan, where’s Yaz?” asked Graham, noticing the emptiness of the room.

“They took her away. I don’t know where. Make sure she’s okay?” asked Ryan, who was being tended to by Graham.

“Course,” said the Doctor, who tried not to show her worry.

“Want me to take Ryan back to the TARDIS?” asked Graham.

“No, wait for me here. If the Tillurians are alerted that Ryan’s out of his cell, then we’ll all be in trouble. I’ll be back before you can say Tillurian.”

The Doctor left them in the pod and switched the sonic to find in the system where they’d taken Yasmin. She was in a pod on the other side of the room, one supposedly more secure, so wasn’t guarded. The Doctor knew why they’d been separated, and it put a fearful lump in her throat, but she prayed Yasmin was okay. Women weren’t often treated kindly by human men, let alone Tillurian men.

She found the only other active pod, which displayed a little red light to indicate it. Her sonic scanned the door and it made itself known, opening automatically once it realised someone was standing on the other side.

The pod was the same as Ryan’s, except instead of finding Ryan she found Yasmin sitting hunched over, facing away from her. Her head was lowered into her knees, as if she was afraid to sit up. The sight hurt the Doctor’s hearts.

“Hey,” greeted the Doctor quietly, as to not scare her.

She didn’t respond to her, and the Doctor narrowed her eyes. She worried for a moment that Yasmin was mad at her. Though it hadn’t been her fault that Yasmin had been taken, she was meant to protect them.

“Yaz? Yasmin, it’s me. Yaz?” the Doctor spoke, but Yasmin didn’t turn around.

The Doctor frowned and placed a firm hand on Yasmin’s shoulder. Unexpectedly, Yasmin squeaked in surprise and jumped back in fear. She whipped around to see her attacker, but noticed it was the Doctor and relaxed. Doctor felt a pang of sadness when she saw the smudged mascara on Yasmin’s face, and the drying tears.

“Yaz? Are you okay?” asked the Doctor softly.

But Yasmin just frowned sadly at her. She mouthed something, but no sound came out and her words were indistinguishable.

“What did they do to you?” whispered the Doctor, though Yasmin couldn’t hear her.

The Doctor placed her hand gently on Yasmin’s cheek, and the girl leaned into her touch. Her eyes darkened when she saw the blossoming green, blue and purple bruising that was appearing on her swollen face. She struggled to communicate with Yasmin, but gently moved her hand to her ears to check them. As she’d expected, they’d attached a device in her inner ear, wired and secured to the drum. Yasmin gave her a worried look, and the Doctor gave her a shaky thumbs-up to reassure her.

She placed the sonic by Yasmin’s ear lopes and switched it on with a wince. The wires buzzed and retreated into the body of the device before dropping to the ground. Yasmin cried out and reached up to her ears. When she brought her hand back down, one was coated in her blood. She shuddered.

“Can you hear me?” asked the Doctor quietly.

“Yeah…thanks, that was scary,” said Yasmin, still getting used to hearing her voice again.

“I’m so sorry…I-I’m really sorry,” said the Doctor, her own eyes tearing up.

Yasmin held out her hand for the Doctor to pull her to her feet. When she did, Yasmin wrapped her arms around the Doctor.

“It wasn’t your fault…it was Ryan’s,” Yasmin said, earning an emotional laugh.

“Come on, let’s go and find the others,” said the Doctor, eager to get Yasmin out of the cell as quickly as possible.

The Doctor freed both Ryan and Graham from their pod just as quickly. Graham pulled Yasmin into a hug, patting her back affectionately.

Ryan did the same; a bear hug that became much softer. Yasmin rested her head on Ryan’s shoulder, her eyes level with the wound the aliens’ had made. He stroked her hair but stepped back when he remembered Graham and the Doctor were awkwardly waiting for them.

“Are you okay?” asked Ryan, his eyes drawn to her cheek. He felt guilty that he hadn't been able to prevent it, and Yasmin could see that in his eyes. She twisted her head so that he couldn't see the injury.

“Yeah, always,” said Yasmin, taking Ryan’s hand and pulling him towards the others.

When they’d began to pick up their pace, alarms began to blare all around them. Red lights flashed, disorientating them.

“Hurry up fam!” shouted the Doctor, nervously looking back to check they were all fine.

“I can see the TARDIS,” said Graham encouragingly, though he was struggling to keep his breathing steady.

Yasmin had begun to slow down, exhausted from the emotions she’d been through, so Ryan had to pull her forwards. Both of their legs ached terribly, and Yasmin’s were essentially dead weight at this point.

“Quick!” said the Doctor.

Suddenly, the Tillurians materialised around them, cutting them off from their escape route. The Doctor tried to dodge them, but they just held up their guns menacingly.

“Oh, of course you do,” said the Doctor, gesturing to the guns in their hands.

“Return the humans to us,” said the Tillurian.

“I think you’ll find that they don’t belong to you,” said the Doctor, angrily.

“Return them,” repeated the Tillurian.

The Tillurians all pointed their guns to the tags on Ryan and Yasmin’s wrists. The Doctor pretended not to notice, but she was starting to panic.

“Let them go,” responded the Doctor, her voice low and intimidating.

“Return them to us, or we will stop you from leaving,” said the Tillurian.

“I’d like to see you try, Ryan and Yaz, into the TARDIS now. Graham, keep them safe,” said the Doctor, not looking back to any of them and keeping her eyes on the Tillurians.

Yasmin and Ryan turned towards the TARDIS but froze before they managed to reach the doors. The Doctor noticed and turned around to look at them. Suddenly, the Tillurians pulled the trigger on their guns.

Yasmin and Ryan screamed out and for a moment the Doctor wondered if they had actually been shot. Instead, their tags began vibrating, and the Doctor realised what they were. Yasmin’s whole body shook as the electrocution crept from her tag to her body, sending pain to her nerves. She felt into the Doctor, who had lowered her guard to help her companion. Graham ran towards Ryan who was doubled over, crying out as the tingle in his arm became like sharp, poisoned needles.

“Doctor!” pleaded Ryan, the pain becoming unbearable.

“Stop it! I swear, if you don’t stop hurting my friends right now, you’ll have me to answer to, and I promise you, you don’t want that,” roared the Doctor.

The Tillurians didn’t seem intimidated, but they pressed down on the trigger again, which stopped the electrocution. Yasmin breathed jagged, laboured breaths, still shaking horribly. The Doctor pulled Yasmin towards her, hugging her close to try and soothe her. Ryan was leaning against the wall, supported almost entirely by Graham.

“Graham, go into the TARDIS. There’s a phone, you’ll know it when you see it. Call the Shadow Proclamation and tell them to come and get the Tillurians,” said the Doctor, angrily.

“You can’t do that,” said one of the Tillurians, though they sounded frightened.

Graham ran to the phone, where the TARDIS had already dialled the number. Graham rushed back a few minutes later, out of breath.

“They’re coming to collect the Tillurians. They’ll put Earth back where it should be, and take the humans back to their own time,” said Graham, relieved to be able to help.

“No!” shouted the Tillurian, who angrily pointing the trigger once again on Ryan and Yasmin.

Yasmin cowered behind the Doctor, clutching her tagged arm to her chest as if that would stop her from feeling the electric pain.

Before they had a chance to attack the two humans again, a siren rang out from the distance, warning of the Shadow Proclamation’s approach. The Tillurians looked around in wild panic, knowing they couldn’t out run them.

“They’re coming,” hissed one of the Tillurians.

They dematerialized together, only to be forcefully brought onto the ship of the Shadow Proclamation. Yasmin and Ryan relaxed once the guns had gone, letting out the breaths they had been holding in.

“Are you two alright?” asked Graham, putting a hand on each of the younger ones’ shoulders.

“Hated that,” Ryan breathed.

“Now you see why I hate guns?” asked the Doctor.

“Yeah, I’m never playing Call of Duty with you again,” said Ryan, which made the Doctor pout.

“You’re only saying that ‘cause I’m better at it than you,” said Yasmin, once she had gotten her breath back.

“When I get the feeling back in my hands, we’ll see about that,” said Ryan.

“Come on you two, let’s get those off ya,” said the Doctor, pushing them towards the TARDIS.
Ryan and Yasmin raced each other to the TARDIS, despite Graham yelling at them to not over do it.

“They don’t listen, do they?” said Graham exasperatedly.

“Welcome to my world,” said the Doctor, holding the TARDIS door open for Graham, who was listening to the other two’s loud laughter from inside.

Chapter Text

Yasmin watched the trio of white ducks that pecked around for twigs by her feet. They flapped their wings in fright when both Yasmin and the Doctor had been brought to their territory, held captive. They were pushed around forcefully until they reached a position near the centre of the village, where a tall tree stood. Once they had seen the ropes and the chains, they knew they were trapped. The Doctor stood quietly at her side, tied beside her. She muttered angrily to herself.

They both turned their attention when they heard footsteps approach. The Doctor flicked wet hair at Yasmin when she whipped around, but the girl didn't even notice. They strained their necks to see what was behind them until the boots of King James appeared and he stalked up to them slowly.

“Comfortable, witches? I do hope not,” sneered King James as he approached.

The Doctor glared at the king, lifting up his head to greet him, “Come for a visit?”

“I shall take my opportunity to converse with agents of Satan,” retorted King James.

The Doctor rolled her eyes angrily, “If I were an agent of Satan, do you seriously think a bit of rope would stop me?”

She looked up to her hands, which were tied with both rope and chains to secure her. Her face scrunched up and she attempted to pull her arms down, as if that would make her point.

Yasmin’s arms began to ache the moment they were tied up above her head. They tied extreme lengths of ropes around her wrists, rubbing the skin painfully. She complained until the man tying her wrists to the tree threatened a hanging, which then made her swallow her words nervously.

“I say a bit, quite a lot,” said the Doctor, still looking up, “Tightly bound. It’s pretty painful. They know how to tie a knot in this part of the world.”

“I am an expert on witchcraft, Doctor,” said the king as he leaned in closer, “but I wish to learn more. Before you both die, I want answers.”

He withdrew the sonic screwdriver from his pocket, and the Doctor looked down at it.

“Your wand-how does it work?” asked the king.

The Doctor gulped, “Why do you want to know?”

King James tilted his head towards her, “I wish to know all the secrets of existence.”

The Doctor scoffed, “Don’t we all. But true knowledge has to be earned. Tell you what, I’ll trade you my wand for answers to as many questions you want to ask.”

King James laughed, and the sound made Yasmin shudder, “I’m not a fool Doctor. I am King James. Satan’s greatest foe…”

The Doctor interrupted, “Yeah, yeah I know. It must be comfortable playing that role, hiding behind a title.

King James smiled, “Just as you hide behind ‘Doctor’, perhaps.”

The Doctor just stared at King James, at a loss for words. As she struggled against her bounds, swaying on her feet, he made a soft huff of laughter. He took a step backwards, as if to admire the two witches that he’d managed to capture.

“If you won’t speak, I have other methods. There’s one more than me who wishes to learn about your master, and I trust she shall pass onto me your secrets. Be kind to her dears, or you’ll find yourselves underwater,” said King James, leaving them alone.

“Doctor?” said Yasmin quietly.

“Yeah Yaz?”

“I-I’m kinda scared,” Yasmin admitted.

“Oh, don’t be. I’ve got this. I’ll have you out of there before you can say ‘I’m not a witch’. Just hang in there, okay Yaz?” said the Doctor.

More footsteps approached them, and they both looked up into the face of Becka Sharp. She paced in front of the two accused witches, her arms folded across her chest.

“Greetings, witches,” she spoke.

“Come to take us to trial, ‘ave you?” asked Yasmin, narrowing her eyes at the newcomer.

“On the contrary, for now, I just want to ask some questions. I want to know how I can rid my land of evil, and of Satan himself. How did you arrive here, and how many more of you are there?” asked Becka.

“Oh, there’s a lot to unpack there,” quipped the Doctor.

Becka snapped her attention to the Doctor, who was still struggling to loosen her ropes. It was almost as if she hadn’t realised that she’d spoken out loud, that was until Becka got uncomfortably close to her, a look of repulsion on her face.

“Who are you, then? You hold a wand, you speak so strangely, you have to be a messenger from Satan,” accused Becka, pointing her finger into the Doctor’s chest.

“I’m not a witch,” answered the Doctor calmly, meeting the glare in Becka’s own eyes.

Becka’s hands closed around the Doctor’s collar until they were almost nose to nose. Her fights tightened on the fabric of her coat, to the point where the Doctor was almost struggling to breathe.

“Leave her alone!” shouted Yasmin.

Becka’s eyes snapped over towards Yasmin. Her hands dropped from the Doctor and she stalked over to Yasmin, who almost regretted speaking up.

“You definitely aren’t from around here, are you?” asked Becka, crouching threateningly in front of Yasmin.

“What’s that supposed to mean,” said Yasmin with narrowed eyes, “does this sound like a Southern accent to you?”

“Trickery!” bellowed Becka, making Yasmin shrink back.

“It’s not!” said Yasmin, exasperated.

“You tell me, girl, are you yourself a demon from Hell, or are you just the witch’s familiar? You seem cunning enough, trying to corrupt Willa,” said Becka, her face twisted into a sneer.

Yasmin strained against her restraints and Becka stepped back with satisfaction. She moved her eyes from Yasmin to the Doctor, as if trying to calculate both of their next moves. But they didn’t have any. Yasmin looked, wide-eyed, to the side to where the Doctor was tied. There was a calculating look in her eyes too.

“King James likes to use words. I have always found them ineffective. A witch’s weapon is her words, she uses them to trick and manipulate. You both have done quite enough of that in my land. So, we’re going to try other methods,” said Becka.

The Doctor could feel Yasmin press into her side, clearly afraid. Yasmin felt the sick feeling of dread that she was all too familiar with threaten to take over once again as it had when she was younger. Her legs felt weak as they tried to support her.

“My first question is for the Doctor, Satan’s accomplice herself. Tell me, what message do you bring from Him?” asked Becka.

“I don’t bring any message, I’m not from Hell! Been there once, really didn’t like it,” said the Doctor, looking pointedly at Becka.

“Wrong answer. Now, His majesty gave me his blessing, and his knife. It is welded with holy water and has been used to hunt down many witches before you. I’ll give you one last chance, or you will join those witches,” said Becka.

The Doctor gulped, “Becka. You have to listen to me. I know you’re scared, I get that. But you can’t fight everything you don’t understand. Trust me, I want to help.”

Becka held up the knife. It was small but the blade was sharpened and threatening, shining ominously in the sun. She brought it eye-level with the Doctor, but only Yasmin gasped.

“I said no more trickery. You brought this on yourself, witch,” spat Becka.

She took a step closer to the Doctor and brought the knife to the Doctor’s cheek. She paused for a moment, as if waiting for the Doctor to spill her secrets, or to beg for her life, but she did neither. She set her mouth in a steady, straight line.

“No more words?” taunted Becka.

When the Doctor didn’t respond, Becka tipped the point of the knife into the Doctor’s cheek. Her expression wobbled slightly, but she remained calm as Becka dragged the knife lightly from the Doctor’s cheek to her jaw. It didn’t cut deep enough to bleed, but judging by the hiss from the Doctor, it definitely stung.

“You can’t do that!” shouted Yasmin.

“Watch me. Now, Doctor, want to try that again?” said Becka.

“Let me help you,” said the Doctor gently.

Becka ignored her offer and took the knife to the Doctor once again. This time bringing it to her mouth. She dragged the knife vertically down, splitting the Doctor’s top and bottom lip open. This time, blood flowed freely and she choked out a pained groan.

“Doctor! Stop it, please!” Yasmin cried out, tears threatening to spill from her wide eyes.

“Be quiet!” commanded Becka, “You’re starting to irritate me.”

The knife, tainted with the Doctor’s scarlet blood, was brought to Yasmin’s face. She turned her head to the side, trying desperately to protect herself. She could see the knife wandering dangerously close to her.

“Don’t touch her,” said the Doctor, though it was a mumble considering the pain moving her lips caused her.

“Oh, so I suppose that settles it. Familiar. You know, familiars are supposed to guide their witch. I wonder how you’d fare without guidance, Doctor,” said Becka.

Becka made a cut, experimenting by dragging it in deeper, in the exposed skin of Yasmin’s neck. Her composure was worse than the Doctor’s, and she couldn’t hold in the strangled cry that escaped her throat.

“Stay calm, Yaz,” soothed the Doctor, even though Yasmin could see the hurt and the murderous look in the alien’s eyes.

“Ready to talk now?” asked Becka.

“I promise you, if you think hurting Yaz will make me talk, you’re wrong. It will unleash a fury your land has never seen, or ever will see. If you harm another hair on her head, you will wish I was from Hell. It won’t work,” said the Doctor.

“It won’t work? It seems like it works quite well,” said Becka.

“Don’t,” warned the Doctor through gritted teeth.

Becka ignored the Doctor and refused to take her eyes off Yasmin. She was trying not to look down at the cut that had been drawn in her neck, and she tried not to focus on the sickening, warm blood that stained her skin. Yasmin made fearful eye contact with the Doctor, who was staring at the back of Becka’s head like she had just murdered Yasmin.

“By my hands, graced by God, I will force the evil from you myself,” said Becka.

She whispered it into Yasmin’s ear, her red hair tickling her face. The words made Yasmin tremble, and she squeezed her eyes closed.

Becka’s hands wrapped around Yasmin’s throat, her thumbs pressing down on her windpipe. Yasmin gasped and spluttered for breath, knowing she would have to preserve it. Her eyes bulged and she saw the frantic, furious expression on the Doctor’s face.

“Let her go, Becka,” warned the Doctor.

“It’s too late for that. For you, it’ll be hanging from a tree. I may hang your friends with you or sentence them to trial. But your follower, your trickster, she can be removed now. You’re weakened without her, just as Satan will be when you have been slain,” said Becka.

“Doctor,” choked Yasmin, panicking when Becka tightened her grip on her throat.

Yasmin struggled for breath, and she heard the clank of the chains as she tried to free herself. Her laboured breathing turned into wheezing and she kicked out her feet desperately.

Yasmin gasped and almost lost her footing once the grip around her neck began to feel like a noose. The Doctor was talking, sometimes to Becka and sometimes to Yasmin, but she was unable to hear her now. All she could hear was a ringing of white noise in her ears.

Yasmin couldn’t focus on any of the conversation. Her head lulled to the side, as much as Becka would allow it and her breath came out raggedy. She let out a frustrated cry, and a tear fell down her cheek, running down her neck. Becka wiped it off her neck, her hand lingering on her warm and sweating skin. `

“Yaz? Stay with us…” she heard from somewhere, though it could’ve easily been a dream.

Her vision had begun to dance and fade, threatening to replace the village they were laid out for, like a spectacle, with a blackness. She thought miserably that she was about to die and would be left there like a display, even in front of her friends, for everyone to see.

“…make you regret this! I will make you pay…” the voice lingered in her ears.

Her last thought, before she took her last struggling breath, was that she hoped the Doctor wouldn’t have to see her crumble.

 

**

 

The first thing Yasmin felt when she woke up was discomfort. She felt a pained tug on her arms, a stinging in her wrists but worse, a horrid pain on her neck. She realised she was largely suspended by the ropes she was tied to, the balls of her feet the only thing keeping her from hanging. She lifted her head tentatively.

“Oh, Yaz! You’re alright,” came the Doctor’s croaky, tearful voice from her left.

She may be alive, but by the looks of things, the Doctor barely was. Blood dried around her mouth, drips of it reaching to the collar of her t-shirt. Blood ran more freely from her nose too, connecting the path of blood from her lips. One of her eyes was swollen shut too; with a ring of yellow bruising surrounding it.

“What… did they do…to you?” asked Yasmin, her voice hoarse and painful.

“When you…passed out, I told her how the screwdriver worked, in exchange for your life. Of course, that only led to a bunch more questions I didn’t have the answers to.”

“You…shouldn’t have done that for me,” croaked out Yasmin.

“Yaz, if anything happens to you…” argued the Doctor, though she didn’t finish her sentence.

“I’ll be fine,” she reassured gently, “where did Becka go?”

“She called a meeting with the villagers. I think she wants them to all join in with this. She’s been gone for about fifteen minutes, so I imagine she’ll be back soon,” informed the Doctor.

Yasmin shuddered, “And is there really no way to escape?”

“Not without the boys, or the sonic. And I have no idea where any of them are,” said the Doctor.

“Will we be okay?” whispered Yasmin.

“We’re together Yaz, we’re always going to be okay.”

“Yeah,” said Yasmin shakily, “but if things go bad, you’d look after Ryan and Graham, right? You wouldn’t let them be sad, you’d take them somewhere awesome. I know they’d look after you, I’m not worried about that. But I know how you deal with guilt, and I don’t want to be mean but it’s very, very badly.”

“I promise you, I won’t be seeing any awesome planets without you, because you’re coming to all of them.”

Yasmin decided to preserve her energy and stop arguing with the alien. She hoped her ramble would be remembered, at the very least.

“How are you feeling?” asked the Doctor.

“I just want to sleep. You?”

“Yeah, me too. I suppose we could go to the Sleep Spa on Guairn 3 after this. Promise you’ll come with me? Girls day out?” asked the Doctor.

“Course,” said Yasmin, though somewhat unconvincingly.

Their attention was stolen when they heard a group of excited voices just out of their eyesight. Yasmin decided that must be Becka’s group of murderers, who wanted to watch both herself and the Doctor burn. They all stared at them like they were acts in a circus as they gathered around.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, here we will watch the demons of our land return to Hell where they belong! These witches who have been terrorising our village will be banished, never to return. Which of you want to help me cleanse our land for God!” shouted Becka.

The crowd erupted into shouts, some cheerful and others abuse at the time travellers, throwing their fists into the air. Becka smirked and caught Yasmin’s terrified doe eyes. She winked before moving aside so Yasmin and the Doctor could see what was unfolding in front of them.

Yasmin realised what Becka had been doing. One of the men who had gathered in the circle around Yasmin and the Doctor held the knife Becka had attacked them with. He handed it back to her upon request, and she held it triumphantly. Yasmin could see that the blade had been heated to the point where it glowed orange, warmth radiating from it.

“Before we kill you both, we must brand you so if Satan were to send you back, those who are tormented by you can see your witches mark,” explained Becka.

The Doctor stared speechlessly, trying to avoid eye contact with Yasmin, whose face was the picture of fear.

“No, no Becka don’t!” screamed Yasmin until her voice could no longer outweigh the encouragement of the gathering crowd.

Becka ignored Yasmin entirely as she approached the Doctor, who looked even more nervous than she had before.

“Last chance,” said the Doctor coolly, “Let us go and we will help.”

“We don’t want the Devil’s help!” spat someone from the front of the crowd.

The Doctor found the side of the blade pressed hard into the side of her neck, just beneath the base of her ear. It sizzled against her skin and, for the first time, Yasmin heard her friend properly, and brokenly scream. When Becka removed it, red, burned skin in the shape of a knife blade was left engraved in her smooth pale skin. Yasmin wanted nothing more than to reach out to her, but her bounds were still just as tight.

Yasmin winced at the excited cheers that came from the crowd as they mingled with the sounds of the Doctor’s agony.

“Do the other one!” shouted a woman from the crowd, hungrily waiting to see how Yasmin responded to the torture.

Becka obeyed the crowd and took the knife towards Yasmin. Yasmin tried not to throw up on the crowd when she imagined herself in the position of the Doctor. The knife wasn’t wiped down, considering how hot it was, and the metal smelt like burning flesh and blood, which made Yasmin gag violently.

Becka moved towards Yasmin, who knew with a feeling of dread that there was no way to escape. The person she trusted most, the person who always saved her, was drifting in and out of consciousness beside her.

She couldn’t prepare for the feeling of burning hot metal against the side of her face. It was like she had been splashed with fire that sizzled and melted into her skin. She heard screaming, but she hadn’t been aware that it was herself until the Doctor woke up to stare helplessly at her. The crowd laughed every time she cried out or writhed, enjoying every moment. Yasmin thought, with a bitter shake of her head, that she would’ve preferred if they had just drowned her. At least that held more dignity than this.

She wasn’t sure how much time passed. Once, she opened her eyes and found the Doctor staring at her. All Yasmin wanted to do was lace her hand in the Doctor’s, but her hands were still tied. She figured, by now, she had probably dislocated something. The next time she opened her eyes, the crowd had disappeared, as had Becka, and the Doctor wouldn’t wake up no matter how much Yasmin called her name. Then, when she woke up a third time, she was face to face with Becka.

“Get a good rest tonight. At dawn tomorrow, we’re drowning you both together,” she said before once again disappearing into the night.

Yasmin sobbed. She was worried about the Doctor, who looked about as ill as Yasmin felt, and she felt selfish for trying to wake her up. Yasmin just didn’t want to be alone. She wanted to talk to the Doctor one last time. The pain of the wound she now had on her face was worse than anything she had ever felt, and the bitter wind made it sting every time she moved. She could feel the burn no matter how hard she tried to block it out, and it made her dizzy.

“Yasmin.”

Masculine voice. Interesting. Not the Doctor, then. Yasmin had been so caught up in exhaustion and pain that she hadn’t realised her eyes had been open. She had just been staring ahead, lost in some sort of trauma-induced daze. She resented that someone had snapped her out of it, as it was almost as comforting as sleep. And sleep was something she couldn't embrace in her current state. She refocused her gaze to see who was addressing her.

“I’m so sorry…we were trapped…what the hell have they done?” came the voice.

Yasmin felt cold hands around her face, and she panicked, wondering who was going to torment her next. Instead, she saw a crying Graham, caressing her cheek and whispering comfortingly to her. He brushed gently past the burning wound and she screeched, a noise that haunted both Ryan and Graham for weeks afterwards. Ryan had surpassed crying and was now sobbing as he flailed around the Doctor, trying to help her.

Yasmin had vowed that she’d stay awake until she got herself and the Doctor to safety. But now, under the care of the boys, she broke her promise. Her head tilted in the direction of the unconscious Doctor, and her eyes fluttered shut with only the time lady on her mind. She didn’t stay awake long enough to find out if she’d be safe.

Chapter Text

Graham and Ryan had found them hanging like murdered scarecrows, tied to a tree in the centre of town. It had grown past midnight by the time they had been found, and the strong yellow moon illuminated their bleeding, bruised bodies.

It had taken them a long time to undo the endless chains and ropes that marred their wrists, and by the time the women were free the boys were sweating from the effort. Ryan picked Yasmin up in his arms once she showed no signs of waking up. Graham picked up the Doctor too, grunting about how someone so small could be so heavy.

“Something’s not right,” said Ryan, looking down at the form of the friend in his arms.

“Of course it’s not bleedin’ right, look at them,” said Graham.

“No, I mean, she doesn’t look right,” argued Ryan.

Graham glanced back to Ryan, taking a look at Yasmin. Ryan was right; she looked too pale and her body was just a bit too still.

“Infection, shock, could be anything. We need to get them back to the TARDIS,” said Graham.

Yasmin had regained consciousness very slowly, like it came back to her in pieces. Her eyes were heavy and consciousness brought back the paralysing pain that consumed most of her body. She was unable to move despite the fact that she was still awake. She blinked hesitantly, and realised she was already moving.

She was in the arms of someone, bouncing up and down in a rhythm as they walked. One of her arms was draped around their neck, and her other one hung limply beside her. She tried to twist her head up to see who was carrying her, but her head was too heavy.

“Hey, don’t panic? You’re safe, I promise,” said a voice from above her.

For a moment, she thought the voice was talking to her. She attempted to speak up, but her throat stung and her neck was swollen. She noticed though, through tired eyes, that the voice had been speaking to the Doctor. Yasmin felt a sudden surge of panic, remembering their ordeal, but found the Doctor was awake. The Doctor was being carried like a bride by Graham, thrashing in his arms.

That’s when she realised that she, too, was being carried like a bride, except by Ryan, and the boys were bringing them through the town. She felt like a corpse that had been cut down from the tree she was hung from, only to be buried in a shallow grave and added to the myth of witches in history.

“Doctor,” grunted Graham, “I’m not going to hurt you. Stop fidgeting.”

The Doctor, from what Yasmin could see, looked feverish as she twisted around in Graham’s arms like she was still afraid that she was being led to her death. The Doctor’s eyes were open, but she just stared frantically at the trees that passed them.

“At least she’s awake and fighting,” said Ryan with a sigh, his arms tightening worriedly around Yasmin.

Yasmin hadn’t realised that her eyes had closed just after she had checked the Doctor was okay. She hadn’t even been able to tell when her eyes were open and when they were closed. She’d drifted back into comfortable darkness and fell back into consciousness as her head lolled into Ryan’s shoulder.

She remained unconscious even when Ryan started shouting at the Doctor for leaping out of Graham’s arms and attempting to walk to the TARDIS doors, once they had seen it. She collapsed almost immediately, having to have Graham support almost all of her weight until she sank down onto the floor of the console room.

Ryan shifted so he didn’t drop Yasmin and placed her gently on the floor of the console room; her dark hair, matted with sweat and blood, framed her face with curls as it spread out around her head.

“Boys…thanks for the rescue,” said the Doctor, her voice hoarse and pained.

“I’m sorry it took so long,” said Ryan, his eyes scanning the alien.

“Nothin’ you could’ve done,” said the Doctor, her voice much quieter than it usually was.

“Well, we can make up for that now. You were just…hanging there nearly all night! You must need sleep, or food, or a bloody hospital,” said Graham.

“Look after Yaz for me first, okay?” asked the Doctor.

She had been looking at the crumpled form of her companion. Yasmin hadn’t moved, or stirred, since they’d arrived at the TARDIS. Ryan was glad at least she was warm now, as he had finally stopped shivering.

“But you need help too, Doc,” argued Graham.

“Later,” said the Doctor sternly, “her first.”

They didn’t have any time to argue because the Doctor had lowered her head onto the floor. Her head made contact with it well after she had closed her eyes. She began softly snoring within seconds, though her face was scrunched up as she dreamt.

“Now what?” asked Ryan.

“We do what the Doctor said, as usual. We look after Yaz,” confirmed Graham.

The TARDIS hummed sadly as Ryan crouched beside Yasmin after instructing Graham to find him something to clean her injuries. His main concern, the injury that formed a sinking feeling in his stomach, was the branding on the side of her face. Graham returned with some cloths, wipes and painkillers in his arms. Ryan thanked him and approached Yasmin, not realising that she had begun to wake up.

“Don’t touch me!” shouted Yasmin, kicking out her legs to keep them both away.

Ryan and Graham jumped back in surprise. Yasmin stared at them both like she was a small creature they had hunted; wide scared eyes and cowering. She backed up so that she was pressed against the TARDIS console, trying to get protection from the ship. The TARDIS made a noise that was almost like a purr, as if she wanted to soothe the traveller.

Graham had realised that Ryan had gone towards her neck and, judging by the bruising and cuts, she was terrified of anyone doing it again. It broke his heart to see her blinded by her fear, unable to realise neither of the boys would ever hurt her.

“I need to wash it out Yaz, please,” said Ryan.

Ryan approached her gently, unsure of how she’d react to him. Yasmin nodded with a gulp, trembling slightly when Ryan placed his hand on her cheek and angled her head to the side. He noticed that her face was unusually pale, and that her breathing had grown shallower. He dipped a cloth into water and let it run down her face.

She found the steady trickle of cold water comforting, despite the pressure she felt on the burn, which made her hiss in a breath. The cold water soothed the pain for just a moment. Yasmin’s calm didn’t last when she cried out pitifully as Ryan pressed the cold cloth against her burn.

The sound of her cry made the Doctor stir from her sleep. The alien was immediately alert, searching for Yasmin before she’d even properly opened her eyes.

“Yasmin!” she shouted out as she woke up, nearly hitting her head on the TARDIS console as she sat bold upright.

“She’s fine, Doc, you’re fine too,” soothed Graham, rushing over to make sure she didn’t hurt herself in her panic.

“What are you doing to her?” growled the Doctor, still lost in sleepy confusion.

“Doctor, we’re just helping her,” said Ryan.

She squeezed her eyes shut for a moment and when she opened them again, they were filled with emotion.

“I-I’m sorry,” said the Doctor.

The Doctor tried to stand, holding onto the console with white knuckles, in an attempt to rid herself of the distance between herself and Yasmin that she felt was excruciatingly far. Yasmin sat cross-legged on the floor, warily eying the cloth that Ryan had pressed to her skin. She had calmed to the pain, even more so when the Doctor stumbled towards her. She sat down beside Yasmin, who was holding her breath.

“Can’t believe she’d go for your pretty face,” mumbled the Doctor.

Yasmin, momentarily distracted from her pain, turned to the Doctor and blushed furiously. Like Yasmin, the Doctor had the same shaped wound on her neck, though her skin was already beginning to heal it. Her lip was knitting together slowly but the bruising on her face was worsening. Yasmin supposed even time lady skin wasn’t immune to damage.

“How’s your witch mark feel?” asked Yasmin quietly.

“Not as bad as yours does, I imagine. Can I get you anything for that?”

Yasmin shook her head, “You need to stop rushin’ around or you’ll hurt yourself more.”

“She’s right Doc, you need to rest,” said Graham.

“Can you get me some painkillers?” she stared up at Graham with a sweet smile.

“Will human ones do or do you need something stronger?” asked Graham.

“Just give me all the human ones, and I’ll be fine. Give some to Yaz first though, obviously,” instructed the Doctor.

Graham handed two painkillers to Yasmin but she shook her head gently.

“I can’t swallow anything,” she answered miserably, gesturing to the intense bruising that formed around her neck like a necklace.

“Wait there,” said the Doctor.

She dragged herself to her feet, ignoring Graham’s exasperated protest, and stumbled drunkenly to the med-bay. Graham just hoped, at least, the TARDIS would make it easy for her to find.

She returned minutes later, collapsing beside Yasmin. Yasmin, who had been zoned out, jerked up when the Doctor nudged her. She handed her a small vial, pressing it into Yasmin’s hands by wrapping her own around them.

“Special space honey. Can’t remember where from. It’ll help heal your throat, and your damaged windpipe. Drink it all, you’ll feel better,” instructed the Doctor.

She was only satisfied once she was able to soothe her companion’s pain. Yasmin sighed contently as the golden liquid got rid of the pain she had been trying to ignore.

“Now will you relax?” Graham asked the Doctor.

“When you hand me the painkillers,” mumbled the Doctor.

She swallowed at least ten of them, which made both Ryan and Graham cringe. She gulped them down like they were sweets. She stretched and exhaled deeply, which saddened the boys. They forgot that the Doctor liked to hide her pain, and that she was probably hurting just as much as Yasmin.

“That’s better, a little bit anyway. Should kick in pretty quickly,” said the Doctor, shaking her body as if that sped up the process.

Graham watched Yasmin reach up to her face, tracing the marks with her finger. Her touch was as light as a feather, as if she was scared of even the slightest pressure.

“Yaz, can I dress your wound? We need to make sure it doesn’t get infected, plus that one on your neck looks inflamed,” asked Graham, wincing as he anticipated Yasmin’s response.

She just nodded, “Yeah, thanks Graham.”

He gently bandaged up the branding mark on her face, trying his hardest not to look at it. The imprint of the knife might fade, but he wasn’t sure it would ever completely go away. He hoped, without telling her, that the cleaner he made it, the less likely she’d be to have to come face to face with it every time she looked in the mirror.

She winced when he pressed down on it, drawing her mouth into a straight line to mask her pain. Graham noticed and decided he’d treated it well enough.

“I’m gonna have to look at your neck, alright? I promise, not gonna hurt you,” said Graham.

Yasmin looked around as her three friends watched her intently, wondering how she’d react. She felt safe with them but, right now, all she felt was embarrassed. She nodded to Graham, casting her eyes down.

He settled for cleaning it and pressing it together with butterfly bandages, as suggested by Ryan. The laceration didn’t hurt, or even bother Yasmin, but the bold, heavy bruising around it did. She squeezed her eyes closed whenever the bruised skin was touched. She opened her eyes when Ryan grabbed a hold of her hand. She smiled gratefully. The Doctor was watching her, biting her lip.

“Am I hurting you?” asked Graham, worriedly.

Yasmin smiled weakly, “Nah, I’m fine.”

“Right, all done. I know what you both need, some tea. And biscuits, just for you Doc. I’ll be back in a minute,” said Graham, with Ryan following behind him.

“Are you actually alright? You lot aren’t as good at hiding your emotions as you think,” commented the Doctor.

“Neither are you, Time Lady. Don’t think I can’t see you wincing, or shivering. You need to be looked after too,” argued Yasmin.

“I’m already healing, you aren’t. Stop avoiding my question,” added the Doctor.

“I’ll be fine, will you be?” said Yasmin, conscious that her body said otherwise.

The Doctor’s eyes were a strange, unfamiliar mix of ‘puppy’ and ‘child whose been refused a sweet’. Yasmin could see pain in them, but that wasn’t all. There was a sadness for Yasmin, not her. Her body may have already begun to heal faster than Yasmin’s, but that wasn’t enough.

The Doctor opened her mouth to speak, but she was cut off by the heavy footsteps approaching the console room. She turned towards the doorway dramatically, and Yasmin shook her head.

Ryan walked into the console room with Graham in tow, both carrying large mugs of tea. Graham passed the rainbow printed mug to the Doctor, who sipped contently at it. Ryan offered the second, star-patterned, mug to Yasmin. She thanked him quietly.

“Sweet tea, nothin’ else will calm you down better,” said Graham.

“You’re right, most valuable thing in the TARDIS, tea. Except for you lot,” smiled the Doctor.

Ryan had passed Yasmin a total of four cups of tea since returning to the TARDIS. The first, she had been too weak to drink and had passed it to Graham. The second, she’s fallen asleep and let it go cold. The third she was grateful for but spilt nearly all of it as her hands shook terribly. Now, on the fourth, she held it tightly with both hands, watching it carefully as her still trembling hands threatened to spill the contents.

Graham stifled a yawn as he leaned against one of the pillars of the console room. Ryan, less subtly, yawned loudly into his hands.

“Boys, you need some sleep. You’ve been looking after us for hours, you need sleep. Humans aren’t meant to be awake for this long. Go on, shoo,” said the Doctor, flailing her arms at them.

“Will you both be alright?” asked Ryan, after rolling his eyes.

“Of course we will,” said the Doctor, setting her mug down beside Yasmin’s.

“You know where we are if you need anything. Remember, Yaz, if you think something’s getting infected you tell me straight away,” said Graham.

“Course. Thanks, both of ya,” said Yasmin.

The boys retired to their bedrooms, tired from the fear and emotional weight the previous day had held for them. The Doctor called to them to say good night, but she hadn’t looked up from whatever she was tinkering with. She hadn’t stopped since Yasmin had woken up, desperately busying herself.

Yasmin looked down at the floor, waiting until Ryan and Graham’s footsteps had faded significantly. She kicked her feet around the floor, waiting for the Doctor to look up at her in surprise.

“I thought you’d gone to bed, I’m sure you’re exhausted,” said the Doctor, eying her up and down.

“Doctor, I don’t think I can sleep in my bedroom tonight…” said Yasmin awkwardly.

“Why is that?” asked the Doctor, obliviously.

“I’m scared,” she answered with a blush.

The Doctor pulled a face at her. It was one she recognised; gentle and sympathetic. Her eyes softened as she walked up to Yasmin, tucking her sonic screwdriver into her pocket.

“Let me show you something,” answered the Doctor.

She took Yasmin’s hand gently, flinching when she realised how cold it was. She walked her companion past the large pillars of the TARDIS console, and behind two large bookshelves that sat at the edge of the room. Yasmin narrowed her eyes, wondering why she’d never noticed the space behind it before.

There was a large, rounded snug arm chair, large enough to fit at least three people. Star-shaped fairy lights draped around the small room the Doctor had made for herself. There were a few books piled beside the chair, in languages Yasmin didn’t know.

“You kept this well-hidden,” she laughed.

“Well, I’ve got to have somewhere to go when you lot are living your ordinary lives. Besides, I know today was hard for you…it was hard for me too. But I’ve lived through things like that for thousands of years. Sometimes, nothing will help. But sometimes the hum of the TARDIS console is all the comfort you need,” said the Doctor.

“Company helps too,” smiled Yasmin, punctuating her sentence with a yawn.

“Well, that’s what I have you for. Yasmin Khan, always setting the world right. Universe, even,” said the Doctor warmly.

The Doctor kicked off various cushions and dropped onto the chair, sinking into it. She patted the spot beside her, inviting the companion to join her.

Yasmin sat down beside the Doctor, easing into the incredibly comfortable fabric. Her arm and leg brushed the Doctor’s, and she gasped. The Doctor’s skin was unbelievably cold. She remembered that the Doctor had ended up in the freezing water twice, in addition to being left in the cold with her.

“You’re so cold,” breathed Yasmin.

“Warm me up, then,” mumbled the Doctor, her eyes drooping.

Yasmin’s eyes widened. She hadn’t been sure that the Doctor really knew what she was saying. Both of their adrenaline had worn off a while back, and they were beginning to suffer. Before she could question it further, she put her legs over the Doctor’s and rested her head on the alien’s shoulder.

She felt the Doctor smile against her. She wrapped her arms around Yasmin and began softly stroking her dark hair. Yasmin melted into the touch and reached one hand out to rest on the Doctor’s chest. Under it, she felt the steady, rather fast beat of two hearts. Her other hand rested on top of the Doctor’s, which she stroked it with her thumb.

Yasmin let her eyes flutter close as she listened to the Doctor’s breathing. She flinched slightly when she felt a hand reach up to her face and very careful stroke the marred skin.

“When you said this sort of stuff has happened to you before…how did you forget about it?” asked Yasmin sleepily.

“Oh, you don’t forget about it. It still hurts, and the scars stay behind. Things happen that you see when you close your eyes, and when you’re alone. But you know what helps? People like Graham, like Ryan, and people like you. We’ll help you through this, Yaz,” said the Doctor.

“I know you will,” mumbled Yasmin, half-asleep against the Doctor.

She let her head drop until it rested perfectly in the crook of the Doctor’s neck, her warm breath against the Doctor’s skin. Yasmin felt her shiver when her breath deepened and warmed her neck.

“I couldn’t live with myself if I lost you,” whispered the Doctor.

Yasmin guessed she wasn’t meant to hear the declaration, so instead of responding she just nestled in closer to the Doctor, messy blonde strands of hair tickling her nose.

Yasmin had woken up in a horrible panic after dreams of fire, lakes and rings of rope, but found that the Doctor’s legs tangled in her own had kept her grounded. She didn’t struggle as the Doctor’s hands were in her own, keeping her safe. She looked up blearily and found that water, biscuits and more painkillers had been left on top of one of the Doctor’s piles of books. She realised with a blush that the boys must’ve been worried and ended up finding their hiding spot. She figured they’d have some explaining to do, when they’d recovered.

In her sleep, the Doctor tugged at Yasmin’s hand and pulled her closer, to the point where Yasmin couldn’t tell whose limb was whose. When her eyes closed again, she only dreamt of the Doctor, and the beauty of the TARDIS.

Chapter Text

Ryan glanced out of the window, wincing slightly as he expected to find a monster, or alien on the other side. Instead, he turned his head slightly in the direction of the wall and noticed two wires; one black and one red. He picked at the red one, detaching it to where it was secured to the wall.

He followed it outside, pulling at the red wiring as he went. It dragged across the grass, which was now covered in brown Autumn leaves. Eventually, it led him to a square-shaped wooden speaker, sticking out from a pile of dead leaves. Ryan noticed that the speaker was playing the sounds of a creature roaring.

“Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me,” said Ryan as he approached it, rolling his eyes.

He picked up the speaker and inspected it, finding the wire that he had been following plugging into it. He tugged at the wire with a grunt, managing to silence the sounds of the creature they had been afraid of.

Ryan, still with the speaker in his hands, looked around him. His eyes went from the garden to the shed. At first, he assumed the speaker was a trap of some kind. But it wasn’t.

“Why would you do that?” he asked, to no one in particular.

He dropped the speaker at his feet, taking one more look around in case someone was watching him. He realised he was alone and took off back in the direction of the cottage.

Ryan sprinted into the cottage, being careful not to trip even in his excitement, “Hanne!”

He kept on running until he reached the corridor before the room he had left Hanne in, shouting, “Hanne! You don’t need to be scared!”

When she didn’t respond, he added breathlessly, “There’s no creature out there.”

Ryan furrowed his eyebrows at the open door, wondering why he couldn’t see Hanne. He took another step forward so that he was stood in the doorway. His heartbeat increased slightly as he wondered where she was. He couldn’t have gone and lost her, could he?

He was about to call her name, to reassure her again, when he heard a sharp inhale of breath. Before he knew it, Hanne, from where she had been standing on the other side of the room, slammed it shut violently.

His head collided with the wooden door, knocking him forcefully off his feet and into a crumpled pile on the ground. He remained barely conscious as Hanne appeared from the other side and crouched over him. His eyes were fluttering shut as she felt around for his pocket. She dug her hand in it when she found it, retrieving the golden key that he’d hidden in there. He lost his battle to unconsciousness as Hanne turned the key into the lock.

When Ryan eventually came round, he was lying on his back with an incredible headache. It took him several long seconds to work out where he was, and to remember what he was doing. He reached up to his forehead, groaning in pain. The headache seemed to grow in intensity when he sat up, ebbing only when he got to his feet and avoided looking at the light of the window.

Ryan stumbled towards where Hanne had run off, his vision unsteadied and blurred. His feet struggled to walk straight, so it took him almost twice as long to reach the dreaded mirror he knew Hanne had chased the others through.

Ryan tried to see his reflection in the mirror to see the bruise on his forehead he was sure was forming but realised there wasn’t a reflection in the glass. He remembered that the others had been able to go through the mirror when their reflections couldn’t be seen.

“Here goes nothing,” sighed Ryan.

He stumbled into the glass, hands first, and allowed it to pull him through. The pressure of the travel through the portal sent his head exploding with new pain. His eyes filled with tears as he gasped through it.

He found himself lying on the ground of a dimly-lit cave, hues of blue being the only sign that something wasn’t quite right.

Once in the quiet of the strange cave, Ryan noticed a painful hissing in his ears. They had been ringing when he’d first woken up but now it seemed angrier. He shook his head gently to get rid of it, but it only sent more pain to his head.

“For God’s sake,” Ryan growled, becoming increasingly frustrated.

His vision cleared just enough to focus on a trail of string to his left. He pulled at it, and realised someone, most likely the Doctor, had left it so they knew how to get back. He also realised that Hanne had probably followed it too.

“Hanne, where are you?” shouted Ryan, his slurred voice echoing through the cave system.

He stumbled further into the cave, wondering how far Hanne had gotten. He looked over his shoulder, worried that she’d been creeping behind him. With a grimace, he decided he could do without another knock to the head.

“Hanne!” he called again, exasperated.

Ryan tripped over some sort of rock on the ground, losing his footing on the uneven ground. He outstretched his arms to try and stay on his feet, but his arms only unbalanced him further and he fell to the ground.

His head pounded relentlessly and he cried out, his voice echoing around the endless maze of caves. He leaned his head against the cold, damp wall to try and soothe the pain. It only eased slightly when he stopped moving, so he closed his eyes to relish in the moment for a second.

Of course, it didn’t last when he heard a loud, terrified scream come from somewhere deeper in the cave. He wanted to rush over but his body refused to let go of the pain relief for his migraine. He couldn’t even tilt his head to the side without it coming back. Suddenly, he heard a thud that made his heart skip a beat, and a shout of pain.

He wondered who it had come from, and that possibly Hanne had gotten herself into trouble. He was about to shout her name when he heard something.

“Ryan,” he heard, coming from a breathless voice, followed by a stronger, “Ryan!”

He turned his head in the direction of the voice, groaning as he did so. He knew immediately that the voice hadn’t been Hanne’s. It was an accent that he’d known all his life, and one that he grew more familiar on each adventure. Yasmin was now stuck in the strange, dangerous caves with him.

“Yaz!” he shouted back, hoping he was loud enough for her to hear.

The girl came speeding around the corner, skidding to a halt when she saw Ryan by her feet.

“Ryan, are you okay? You didn’t see any moths did ya?” asked Yasmin, all in one breath.

“Yeah, absolutely banging headache though. And no moths, I’m guessing that’s not a bad thing? What happened to you lot?” asked Ryan.

“Very long story. Graham and the Doctor are stuck in another dimension, with Hanne and her dad and their fake wife and fake Grace. They’re trying to…lure us in somehow,” explained Yasmin.

“Wait, Grace?” asked Ryan softly.

“She’s not real, but yeah, Grace,” said Yasmin gently, crouching down and looking at him with sympathy.

“Never mind that now. Hanne hit me with a door when she tried to run away from me, and I don’t think I’m up for much running right now,” admitted Ryan.

Yasmin’s eyes widened in concern, “Wait what? Why would she do that? Are you okay?”

“She’s a scared kid, can’t hold it against her. I’ll be fine, I just need to rest for a while,” said Ryan.

Ryan and Yasmin looked up suddenly when another loud shout came from the distance, followed by a thud. They turned to look at each other, both with worry in their eyes.

“I’ll go see who that was. Hopefully the Doctor managed to get them all out of there,” said Yasmin.

“I’ll come with you, can’t have anything jumping out and hurting you,” said Ryan.

“That’s sweet, but you’re hurt,” argued Yasmin.

He refused to listen though, and Yasmin reluctantly pulled him up by the hands. He was clearly in pain, and clearly unsteady so Yasmin wrapped her arm around his waist to help him walk. He wrapped his own arm around her shoulder and they walked to where Yasmin had landed.

Lying on the ground, breathing heavily, they found Hanne. She looked just as uncomfortable as Yasmin had felt when she’d been spit out of the portal.

“Hey Hanne, it’s Yaz and Ryan, you’re safe, I promise,” said Yasmin.

They both crouched down simultaneously to help her up and calm her down. She leaned into Yasmin’s touch but they were all surprised when she hugged Ryan.

“Ryan…I’m so sorry I hit you with the door. I didn’t want to hurt you. You’re hurt, aren’t you?” asked Hanne nervously.

“Nothing a nap won’t fix. I’ll be fine, don’t worry,” reassured Ryan.

Hanne didn’t believe Ryan though, after hearing the heavy jagged breathing and the hiss of pain whenever he walked. Especially when the cave began to shake, knocking pieces of the cave walls onto the floor by their feet. The vibrations of the ground worsened Ryan’s headache, though now it was more of a migraine.

“What’s happening?” he asked in a gasp.

“I’m guessing the Doctor just messed with something she shouldn’t have,” said Yasmin quietly.

The portal opened once again and Yasmin pushed both Ryan and Hanne backwards so they weren’t hit by whatever was going to come out the other side. A figure appeared in the orange glow, and Graham fell through it. He, too, landed on his back with a thud.

“Graham! Are you okay?” asked Yasmin.

“Oh yeah, peachy. What about you lot?” he asked with a grunt.

“Hanne and I are fine, Ryan got hit on the head. He’s not feeling too good,” said Yasmin.

“Ryan, you’re safe!” sighed Graham thankfully.

Graham looked up to Ryan, who was standing sheepishly. He was relieved to see Graham, more so than he’d realised he would, but he couldn’t manage to twist his face into a smile. Instead, it was a grimace.

“You alright son?” asked Graham, concerned.

“Yeah, yeah,” said Ryan, though he noticed his voice slurred slightly as he spoke.

“That’s good. Everyone accounted for then?” asked Graham.

“What about the Doctor? Where’s the Doctor?” asked Ryan, trying to keep his voice neutral despite the wave of pain.

The group heard a distorted yell and the Doctor came crashing through the portal, and Ryan heard Yasmin sigh with relief. She grunted as she came in contact with the ground, a pain most of them were all too familiar with, but she had a wide grin on her face.

“Thrown by a frog,” she laughed, “Brilliant!”

The others glanced at each other in confusion while she rolled onto her side, half of her body lost in thick fog. She grumbled in pain as she did so, pushing herself upright. The caves had begun to shake again, though faster and more forcefully this time.

The Doctor struggled to her feet, rocks falling all around her, “Coming through!”

“Flaming rocks!” cursed Graham as he reached out to help her.

“I’m never coming here again!” he added when a particularly large piece of rock fell beside him.

The rock fell too close to his feet, so he jumped backwards to avoid it crushing his feet. As he did so, the ground shook and knocked him onto the ground.

“Graham!” shouted Ryan, turning around to help him.

“Follow the Doctor, son!” asked Graham, trying to get himself to his feet.

“I got ya,” said Ryan, running back to help him.

“Graham!” he called again, grabbing Graham’s arm with both his hands to pull him upright.

“The whole place is disintegrating!” said Graham, noticing the others ahead were finding it difficult to avoid more and more of the falling rocks.

“Keep going! There’s the portal,” encouraged the Doctor.

Ryan gasped as the pain in his head was worsening, and his vision had almost completely blurred. He doubled over and reached up to his head. Graham tried to pull him forward, but Ryan shoved him away. Any movement felt like his mind was on fire.

“Stay still,” instructed the Doctor, running over to Ryan.

The Doctor frowned and brought the sonic screwdriver to Ryan’s eyes. The orange-yellow light burned in his eyes and he flinched away from it. Graham put a hand on his shoulder to keep him still, and eventually he settled into the Doctor’s examination.

“Your left pupil is dilated, and that’s the side of your, admittedly pretty nasty, bruise. Take into account the slurring, lack of balance and the headache, I’d say you definitely have a concussion,” said the Doctor.

“Is that bad?” asked Ryan.

“Well, it’s not good. Looks like a serious one at that, too. We can get you checked out properly when we get back to the cottage. The real cottage, not the fake one,” said the Doctor.

Ryan gave him a confused tilt of the head, and the Doctor just waved him off dismissively and said, “You had to be there.”

“Graham, Yaz, help Ryan through the portal,” instructed the Doctor.

The Doctor pushed Erik and Hanne through the portal, and then helped Yasmin and Graham, who held up Ryan from each side, through the orange light. The Doctor dove through the portal as it begun to close behind her, landing head-first on the other side.

She yelled and scrambled to her feet, feeling for her sonic as she did so. Once on her feet, she dramatically pointed the sonic to the mirror and let it whir into action. The others braced their arms over their faces as the glass of the mirror shattered into pieces.

The cottage stopped shaking, like it had been in the cave, once the mirror was destroyed, and everyone let out the breath they had been holding in. Erik hugged Hanne close to him, breathing heavily.

“Are we safe?” asked Hanne.

“From the Soletract, yes,” breathed the Doctor, “don’t know if it survived. But it won’t be coming back here. Shame. Made a new friend. A whole conscious universe. Then had to say goodbye.”

“Sorry you lost your friend, Doc, but we need some help with Ryan,” said Graham.

Ryan was almost completely slumped against Yasmin on the bed, his eyes half-closed. In the light of the cottage, the Doctor could see the large purple bruise on his forehead. Graham was shaking him to keep him awake, but they all knew he’d fall asleep soon anyway.

“Is he badly hurt?” asked Hanne in a whisper, hugging Erik closer.

“Don’t worry, Hanne. He just needs an ice pack and some aspirin,” the Doctor’s smile faltered, “Oh, and keep him awake.”

“Ryan, look at me,” said the Doctor as she kneeled in front of him, “you’re obviously concussed, so we’re gonna need you to keep your eyes open. Look at our lovely Yaz, that’s it.”

Ryan, with a frustrated expression, opened his eyes and did as he was told, though he couldn’t focus on anything. Yasmin smiled down at him, trying not to worry the girl who blamed herself for his condition, who had turned her head towards them, listening intently.

“You’re gonna feel that in the morning,” joked Yasmin.

“I’m feelin’ it now,” grumbled Ryan.

Black danced in the edges of his vision, and his eyes flickered as he tried to follow it. He ignored most of whatever Yasmin had said next, and whatever the Doctor had added to it. He tried to roll over, away from the women who were currently worsening his migraine.

“Don’t fall asleep,” warned Graham.

“’M not,” Ryan argued.

Hanne ran down the corridor, despite Erik calling after her. He was clearly still afraid to leave her alone, in case she became lost again through into other worlds and portals. Once she had been gone for a while, the Doctor and Erik moved to go and find her, except she returned with an ice pack. She carried it with both hands, her sleeves pulled forward so her hands didn’t get cold. She wrapped it in cloth by the bedside and handed it shyly to Ryan.

Graham, the Doctor and Yasmin smiled as Hanne squeezed Ryan’s hand. He thanked her for it, pressing it to the darkening bruise on his forehead.

“Come ‘ere, Ryan,” said Graham, sitting down next to Ryan. He'd noticed that Yasmin had become uncomfortable; the small girl carrying all of his weight as he leaned on her. Yasmin eased him off her shoulder, which was starting to ache, and his head lolled onto Graham.

“You’re gonna be okay,” reassured Graham.

“Thanks Grandad,” murmured Ryan in a daze, resting on Graham’s shoulder.

“What did you just say?” asked Graham, his breath hitching slightly.

“You heard, old man,” said Ryan.

Ryan missed the grin that formed on Graham’s face. The Doctor and Yasmin exchanged a soft smile.

“Right, this has been an adventure. Hanne, Erik, we better get Ryan back to the TARDIS …uh, back home so we can watch over him,” said the Doctor.

The Doctor squeezed Graham’s shoulder, and patted Ryan’s back, “Right Fam, I guess Grandad’s carrying Ryan home then?”

“That’s fine by me,” agreed Yasmin, giving Hanne a warm hug goodbye.

Graham pulled a half-conscious Ryan to his feet, mumbling to himself about the effort. Nearly all of Ryan’s weight was on him, as the boy could hardly walk by himself. Graham wasn’t sure if he’d manage to stay conscious before they reached the TARDIS, but the Doctor found the tactic of shining the sonic in his eyes until he smacked her pretty effective. His feet dragged along the floor, making it even harder for Graham.

“You guys know I’m old, right?” huffed Graham.

Chapter Text

“You guys can take as long as you’d like, have a good look around! The TARDIS will dispense some tokens for you, ‘cause they’ll be farmers markets and that’s the currency they use. The tokens can be used for fertiliser for the crops once their collected, that’s what their economy is based on,” said the Doctor as she danced around.

“Don’t eat anything that might poison you and Ryan, try not to touch anything that looks shifty,” instructed the Doctor.

Ryan held up his hands in defence, though they had all noticed his hands wandering around the TARDIS console earlier, tempted by various colourful buttons.

They stood outside the TARDIS, the Doctor handing out tokens to the companions like she was giving them pocket money. They thanked her and bounced around excitedly. It looked like they had landed in an old English village, though it was surrounded by vast orange fields and yellow trees. The villagers were all kinds of alien species, just as colourful as the nature around them.

The Doctor had decided that they should follow a crowd of blue aliens who chattered meaninglessly as they walked. She skipped behind them, gesturing for the others to follow with an eccentric wave of her hand.

“Ah, Yarians always know where the good stuff is. Look!” said the Doctor.

The Yarians had lead them to a street with stalls lining the roads, each a different colour. The stalls held crops of all kinds, and hand-made crafts that Yasmin couldn’t identify. One of the stalls looked like it sold wind-chimes, but when she went to touch the chimes they screamed and she jumped back.

“Be careful,” warned the Doctor.

Yasmin rambled on about how she was more than capable of looking after herself, and she wasn’t going to break anything because she wasn’t a child, she was a full-grown police officer…but she stopped when she realised the Doctor wasn’t listening. She was busy watching an interaction between an alien and a child that tugged at its sleeve.

“Can you help me?” the child asked the alien.

It grunted in response.

“I don’t have enough tokens, but I promised my mam I’d bring home some Juaid fruits,” explained the child, holding them up to aid his explanation.

The alien snarled in the face of the child, almost nose to nose with him. He snatched the tokens from the child’s hands forcefully, which made the child gasp. He bared his teeth and the child’s jaw hung open, fright in his wide violet eyes.

“Well that was uncalled for,” said the Doctor with a stern frown, handing the tokens back to the child after snatching them back from the alien.

The child’s lip began trembling harder, and he ran away clumsily from the alien who had yelled at him. The tokens dropped from his hands in his panic and dissolved into frightened sobs. The Doctor’s face dropped as she watched the child go.

“Oi, wait up!” yelled the Doctor.

The Doctor broke into a sprint after the crying child, clutching the tokens he dropped in her hands. Her coat flew behind her in a dramatic flourish. Shouts of outrage came from the people she ran into as she disappeared into the distance.

The alien snapped it’s eyes towards the Doctor and the child, a growl forming in its throat. It flicked its tongue like a snake. When its mouth hung open, Yasmin could see fangs forming in its mouth, like it was a vampire hunting prey.

“Step back!” warned Yasmin when it looked like the alien was about to go after the child and the Doctor.

It made a threatening noise, something the TARDIS didn’t need to translate. She removed her hand from the alien’s arm with a sheepish expression.

“Sir, calm down,” said Yasmin. Though, she supposed it was more PC Khan.

The alien pointed a finger at Yasmin threateningly. The veins of its arm glowed a rich purple, which them flowed to the fingertips. The one that had been aimed at Yasmin shook and sparked. She took a step back, but a singular beam of lightening-ish energy shot from it and made contact with her shoulder. She jerked back, an offended gawp on her face.

“Hey!” shouted Yasmin, rubbing her shoulder.

It had been less painful than she’d expected, and instead felt like a small electric shock. Still, she yelped out in both surprise and confusion. The alien sneered at her but left her alone, pushing through the crowd angrily.

Ryan and Graham pushed their way through the crowd towards Yasmin, who looked as if she were in shock. They grabbed onto her arms, both to comfort her and to hold her back from the alien, but she clearly wasn’t going anywhere.

“Hey, you alright?” asked Graham.

“Oh yeah, I’m fine. I think it was just a warning shot. Didn’t do much damage,” said Yasmin with a shrug. The alien had charred a hole into her jumper, but the skin underneath hadn’t even broken.

“Still, go sit down. We’ll go and find the Doctor, let her know what happened,” said Ryan.

“Yeah, sure,” said Yasmin, watching them run off in the direction of her alien attacker in search for the Doctor.

The adrenaline had made her dizzy, and her legs had grown wobbly since Ryan and Graham had left her. She walked to the end of the street, perching on the blood orange grass beneath her feet. She stared out onto the vast field fenced off from in front of her. She wondered if alien planets had horses or cows, since all she could see in the grass was crops she didn’t recognise.

“Hey,” came a voice from behind her.

Yasmin barely registered the voice as she drifted in and out of her thoughts. The person hesitated behind her for a moment but then made herself known again.

“Hey Yaz, yeet,” said the Doctor as she sat down cross-legged beside Yasmin.

Yasmin rolled her eyes, “Didn’t I tell you not to listen to Ryan when he asks if you want to watch videos with him.”

“It’s fascinating, though! Plus, Graham isn’t allowed to watch them. Why isn’t Graham allowed to watch them?” asked the Doctor.

“Honestly, if he lets you watch vines he might as well humour Graham too,” admitted Yasmin.

“Did you enjoy the visit?” asked the Doctor.

“Yeah for sure but, what were we actually here for?” asked Yasmin.

“Hey! Not everywhere I take you has to be all action and scary. Sometimes it’s nice to see the quiet too. Okay yeah…I actually needed this really specific battery for the TARDIS, it’s grown in the farms here. But my point still stands about quiet places,” said the Doctor.

Yasmin laughed softly.

“Find anything you liked?” asked the Doctor.

Yasmin shuddered, “Nah, not really. Maybe next time, though.”

The Doctor didn’t question Yasmin further, and instead threw her head up as Ryan and Graham approached them, both in a swift jog.

They sat down in front of the women, both watching Yasmin carefully. Yasmin cast her eyes down to avoid them, suddenly finding the colourful grass very interesting. The Doctor’s own gaze fell on her, and she blushed.

“You haven’t told her, have you?” said Ryan, bemused.

“Ryan!” exclaimed Yasmin, fidgeting uncomfortably.

“Haven’t told me what?” said the Doctor, her eyes narrowing.

“Yasmin got into a fight with that alien after you found it with the kid. It zapped her with some kinda lightening from its fingertip,” explained Graham, raising his hand and wiggling his fingertip to demonstrate.

“Yasmin!” said the Doctor in offence, as if all the wind had been knocked out of her.

“What! You were distracted dealing with the kid, and he was gearing up to attack ya both! What was I meant to do?”

The Doctor, speechlessly, flailed her hands around. Her expression read so clearly, ‘Well, obviously, not that!’.

“I should’ve known something was up with you! You were making that face, that really human face. I should know when Yasmin Khan isn’t right, shouldn’t I!”

“Doctor, seriously. I’m fine, stop worrying,” said Yasmin exasperatedly.

“I’ll be the judge of that, thanks Yaz,” said the Doctor, holding up her sonic screwdriver pointedly.

She scanned Yasmin with the sonic and then, after waving it too close to Yasmin’s face, watched it get smacked out of her hands. The Doctor shook her head at her companion.

“Easy, now all we have to do is wait for results,” said the Doctor.

“And how long will that take?” asked Ryan.

“Minutes, hours, weeks, who knows. Shall we go to the TARDIS while we wait? I have somewhere fantastic to show you. Fantastic. Hm, that doesn’t sound right anymore.”

Yasmin was eager to forget about the ordeal and chased the Doctor happily enough back to the TARDIS. Ryan and Graham exchanged a look but followed reluctantly anyway.

Once returned to the TARDIS, they noticed a sound coming from inside. It was muted, muffled by the wooden doors, but it didn’t sound like anything they’d heard before. Even the Doctor looked concerned as she unlocked the doors.

“Oh,” she said, running towards the screen attached to the console, “I have a missed call.”

“People can call the TARDIS?” asked Yasmin.

“Yeah Yaz, of course. Usually I pick up as well. Remind me to tell you about the time Churchill rang me up, strange man,” said the Doctor.

“Who’s it from then?” asked Graham, peering over her shoulder.

“Oh, it’s from UNIT! Looks like some kind of distress call,” said the Doctor, who elaborated with a sigh when they looked at her in confusion, “It’s a military organisation, based in London. Deals with all sorts, even aliens. I technically work for them, but they seem to think it’s the other way round. Oh, you’ll get to meet Kate, and Osgood. You’ll love ‘em.”

“Is this safe?” asked Yasmin, her arms folded across her chest. She hugged herself tighter as she grew cold, shivering slightly.

“Probably not. At all. So…you three up for it?” asked the Doctor.

“Yeah.”

“Yep.”

“I guess so.”

“Perfect! Alright fam, let’s go and set off for London 2018, wrap up warm everyone, it is England after all,” grinned the Doctor.

Before the Doctor began piloting the TARDIS, the sonic screwdriver began beeping. The orange light flickered to get her attention. The Doctor had almost forgotten that she’d instructed the sonic to scan Yasmin, and to check that she was safe. The Doctor withdrew the sonic from her pocket and brought it up to her face.

“Will she be alright?” asked Graham.

Ryan gave the Doctor a quizzical look and glanced back to Yasmin. She seemed unbothered by the readings of her health, and instead picked at the burned hole in her jumper, presumably wondering if she’d have time to change.

The Doctor stared at the reading for a moment longer but looked up with a cheerful expression.

“Oh, of course! We’ve got other things to think about now, got more stuff on my mind. Yasmin Khan will be fine. New question for the group though, what do we do when we receive a distress call?” asked the Doctor.

“We fly at it head first?” answered Graham.

The Doctor grinned, “Ten points to Graham!”

She threw the TARDIS into the time vortex, and through it to London. The companions held tightly onto the console the large pillars that resembled spider-legs, hugging it as to not get thrown to the floor. Graham noticed that Yasmin held on tightly enough that her knuckles turned white.

“Right! Here we are,” announced the Doctor.

The companions sighed in relief at the safe landing. Graham enthusiastically grabbed his leather jacket which hung from one of the pillars, followed by Ryan’s puffer coat and Yasmin’s teddy-bear jacket. The Doctor waited for them by the door with an eager grin.

“Welcome to UNIT!” said the Doctor.

“Oh…thought you’d park us by the London Eye or something,” said Graham as he stepped outside.

Yasmin and Ryan piled out of the TARDIS after Graham and the Doctor. They were in a large room with countless artefacts and paintings; ten soldiers surrounding them, guns pointed threateningly. Their angry faces were illuminated by the vast, bright skylights above them. Yasmin stumbled, ready to panic, but noticed ‘UNIT’ was written on their uniforms.

“Oh, so we are in the right place then,” said Yasmin.

“You most certainly are,” came a strong, friendly voice from behind the soldiers.

“Ah, there she is,” beamed the Doctor.

The soldiers parted to allow the woman to step forward into view. The woman had short, blonde hair and wore a feminine black suit. She looked serious; but her smile was even warmer than the Doctor’s when she pulled the time lady into a hug. The soldiers stood down after instructed by the woman.

“You really don’t visit enough,” said the woman, looking up and down at the Doctor.

“Do you like the new look?” asked the Doctor.

“It’s definitely a change from the eyebrows,” she commented.

“We can share hair tips now! Right, anyway, Kate Stewart, this is my team. Ryan; smartest lad in Sheffield, Graham; one-liner extraordinaire, and Yaz; my favourite,” introduced the Doctor.

“You need to stop saying that, or we’ll start to believe it,” grumbled Ryan.

“It’s good to meet you all. We can use as much help as we can get,” said Kate, shaking all of their hands individually.

“About that, what do you need help with?” asked Graham.

“Yeah, good question Graham. What do you need help with?” asked the Doctor.

“We assumed it would be your area. Our scientists have detected something. Our monitors have registered something dangerous in the atmosphere, like an alien virus. Thing is, we can’t determine who carries it, or who has brought it in. Only thing we know is that it could be fatal, and it’s mixed with traces of Artron energy,” explained Kate.

“That can’t be right,” said the Doctor.

“I’m afraid it is. You gave us these monitors yourself. If you follow me, Osgood is waiting to show you herself,” said Kate.

“Oh yes! Good! Show me Osgood!” said the Doctor, clapping her hands together.

Kate took the Doctor and friends down to the laboratory, followed by two UNIT soldiers who kept a careful eye on them. Yasmin fell behind slightly, struggling for breath as everyone walked ahead at a much faster pace. The Doctor turned around to check on her.

“You alright Yaz?” she asked as they walked down a long, clinical corridor.

“Yeah fine, just tired,” said Yasmin, offering a reassuring smile.

The Doctor stared at her for longer but became distracted when they reached the door to the lab. The white door was locked until Kate knocked on it twice, revealing Osgood on the other side as she opened it.

She was a shorter brunette, dressed in an oversized lab coat with a knitted jumper underneath. Her cheeks flushed under the attention of Kate, the time travellers, and the soldiers that accompanied them.

Yasmin could see tiled white floor and white wallpaper behind the scientist. The room was filled with experiments and equipment set up across desks and tables. Yasmin saw lots of very futuristic and alien technology and wondered if the Doctor had snuck them in for her.

“Good to see you again, Osgood,” grinned the Doctor.

“Doctor! You’re…young…and a woman…and not Scottish?” stuttered Osgood.

“Brilliant observations! These are my friends Graham, Ryan and Yasmin. Gang, this is Osgood, she’s amazing,” said the Doctor.

“It’s always a pleasure to meet the Doctor’s friends,” smiled Osgood.

“Now, what do you have to show us?” asked the Doctor.

“Oh yeah, right. So, Kate must’ve mentioned the monitors to you. They’re the ones you stole from Station Sixteen, and they’ve been analysing the atmosphere for us for years. It has registered a disturbance, which is currently coming from London,” explained Osgood.

“Show me,” asked the Doctor, bouncing around the lab.

Yasmin hadn’t noticed the sweat forming on her forehead. She wiped it away with the back of her hand, noticing the tremor in it. She saw the others gather around a table, Osgood gesturing wildly, and attempted to join them. She took one foot of the ground to take a step forward but became suddenly unbalanced.

The others noticed when Osgood’s mug, painted with red bowties, fell loudly to the floor. Yasmin had knocked it over with her arm when she tried to restore her balance and it shattered into small pieces around Yasmin’s feet.

“O-oh, uh, I’m sorry,” said Yasmin, flustered. She reached down to pick up the pieces but the Doctor stopped her with an outstretched hand.

“Don’t hurt yourself,” said the Doctor softly.

“I just tripped, I’m sorry,” said Yasmin.

“Hey, no problem, you have no idea how many mugs I’ve dropped myself. I’ve got a drawer full,” said Osgood with a dismissing wave.

“Are you alright, Yaz? You don’t look so hot,” said Ryan, looking at her carefully.

“Kate?” asked the Doctor with equal concern, “Would you go with Yaz and get her some water?”

Kate nodded, “Of course. Follow me, Yaz, maybe you’d like some tea too?”

Kate placed her hand on the small of Yasmin’s back and guided her out of the room. The others noticed how the Doctor’s eyes lingered. The Doctor snapped back soon and reached over to the monitor Osgood had been showing them, running her finger along the readings to identify the concern UNIT had. They noticed that it had spiked since the TARDIS had arrived.

The door closed behind Kate and Yasmin, the other voices becoming muffled and distant. She glanced backwards, but Kate urged her forward.

They walked side by side as they walked down the corridors and past the TARDIS. Yasmin awkwardly smiled when they walked past other UNIT officers and specialists, all of which seemed to know she was friends with the Doctor, because they looked at her curiously.

“What happened to your top?” asked Kate curiously as they walked.

“Oh, little run in with an angry alien. Got a bit zapped, I’m fine now though,” explained Yasmin.

“Oh…right,” answered Kate, looking at the burnt hole in the fabric.

“So, you known the Doctor for a long time?” asked Yasmin.

Kate smiled, “My dad travelled with him-I mean her for a while, just like you all do. She’s a dear old friend. Have you been travelling with her long?”

“Not really, couple of months I suppose. Time doesn’t always go like it should in the TARDIS. Sometimes it feels like we experience weeks in just a normal day,” said Yasmin.

Kate laughed, “It always seems like that when the Doctor pays a visit.”

Yasmin laughed too, but it was interrupted by a cough. It took her by surprise, and Kate had to sit her down before she fell.

“Are you alright?” asked Kate, her eyebrow raised. She helped pull Yasmin to her feet once the coughing had subsided.

“Oh yeah, I’m fine. Thanks,” reassured Yasmin.

“Guess coming to London after alien planets takes it out of you, even if the Doctor doesn’t seem to notice,” said Kate, though it was phrased more like a question.

Yasmin threw her head forward, hunched over as another violent cough shook her entire body. Her eyes formed tears that gleamed before they ran slowly down her cheek. She straightened up once the last cough was forced out and she caught her breath.

“Sorry about that,” said Yasmin.

“No, don’t worry about it,” said Kate, her eyes wandering Yasmin.

The older woman’s stare made Yasmin self-conscious. She assumed Kate was uncomfortable with three curious civilians following them around, but she only seemed concerned about Yasmin. She watched Yasmin carefully, even now.

“Yasmin, in that room next to you, there’s a scanner on the table. Osgood asked me to get it for her earlier. Would you mind?” asked Kate.

“Sure,” said Yasmin, reaching for the door handle. The room was surrounded by glass walls as if it was for observation. The glass walls and windows were blacked out by large grey blinds, which covered even the windows in the door.

Yasmin pulled at the door handle and searched for the light switch. Once the room was lit up, she noticed it was empty, aside for a large chair, sink and bed. She shuddered, wondering what they kept in such a room in the middle of a military operation. The blinds of the windows rose when Yasmin walked through the door, revealing Kate, who was watching her from the other side of the wall. Yasmin’s eyes narrowed, though, when she realised there wasn’t a table in the room.

“Uh Kate, I think I’m in the wrong room,” said Yasmin nervously.

“I’m sorry, Yaz,” said Kate regretfully.

“What do ya mean?” asked Yasmin.

Kate approached the door Yasmin had just walked through and locked it. She tugged at it to make sure it wouldn’t open. Her sad eyes looked at Yasmin, who was clearly beginning to panic.

“Doctor?” she shouted, hoping that would frighten Kate.

Kate didn’t move or respond to the younger woman. Her arms folded across her chest, and she attempted to look stern, but there was pity in her face.

“Doctor?” Yasmin screeched louder, hoping her saviour would hear her from the laboratory.

“Yaz, I’m sorry,” repeated Kate.

Yasmin tried to protest, but Kate slammed her hand onto a red button that was attached to the wall beside the door. Once pressed, it sounded off a loud alarm that resembled a fire alarm, though even more serious. Yasmin put her hands over her ears to block out the noise.

The Doctor came running immediately after the sound of Yasmin’s scream, followed by Graham, Ryan and Osgood. They looked on in alarm as Kate stood calmly by the door, which Yasmin was slamming her fists against. Her angry swears could be heard through the glass.

“What’s going on?” asked the Doctor, alarm in her voice.

“Your insane friend locked me in here! She tricked me into it! Sonic me out of here, Doctor,” said Yasmin.

The Doctor looked in confusion to Kate, who didn’t react to any of them. Graham pulled at the door to free Yasmin, but Kate had taken the key and put it in her pocket.

“Kate, what’s going on? She’s terrified!” asked the Doctor.

“Why did you put Yaz in the quarantine room?” asked Osgood, her eyes flickering to a distressed Yasmin.

“Doctor, I’m really sorry. But I know where the readings have come from. And the reason the data spiked when you arrived. Ask Yaz to show you her arms,” said Kate.

The Doctor swapped places with Kate, approaching the door that separated herself from Yasmin. She looked through the glass and could see Yasmin’s heavy, frightened breathing. The Doctor nodded reassuringly and Yasmin raised her shaky arms with a confused expression. She turned them over and gasped in shock when she noticed that the veins from her palm to her elbow were a distinct dark purple.

“It’s just like the alien we met earlier, the one who zapped ya,” exclaimed Ryan.

The Doctor’s face dropped.

“Doc, what’s happening to her?” asked Graham, but she ignored him.

The Doctor pressed her hand against the glass, trying to keep her expression neutral so that she didn’t upset Yasmin any further.

“Yaz, I’m so sorry. I-I didn’t see anything when I scanned you…it must not show up until it’s developed. I’m such an idiot, I should’ve checked. You’re going to be fine though, okay Yaz? I’m going to get you out of there, soon,” said the Doctor.

“What’s happening to me?” asked Yasmin, her voice shaky.

“You’ve become infected with something. We need to keep you in there until we can properly work out what it is. I just need to work out what the toxin is, and then we’ll have you out all safe,” said the Doctor.

“I’m gonna be okay though, right?” asked Yasmin.

“Of course,” said the Doctor, though she lowered her hand and turned away.

“Right, gang. Kate, you gather as much information as you can. Find out if it’s contagious, and if it’s…dangerous. Graham will go with you, he knows plenty about aliens. Osgood, I’ll need you and a team working on a cure. Take Ryan with you, he’s really good at science. Or at the very least he’ll give you a good chat. I’ll stay here,” said the Doctor.

“Doctor, I understand you want to stay, but we could really use you at the lab,” said Osgood awkwardly.

“Uh, yeah, I guess you’re right. You go ahead, I’ll meet you down there,” said the Doctor.

“Doctor,” Yasmin warned, “don’t go blamin’ yourself for this. I shouldn’t have picked the fight.”

“Yaz, I’m meant to protect you. My one job is to keep you safe. I couldn’t even look after you enough to see you were sick,” said the Doctor miserably.

“You haven’t failed. I’m safe for now, and I won’t hurt anyone from here. Plus, you always fix things, you’ll fix this,” reassured Yasmin.

“I won’t let anything happen to you, Yasmin Khan, I promise,” said the Doctor with a sad smile.

The Doctor turned away, her coat flying gently behind her, and went to follow the others. Her shoulders slumped and her head hung low. Yasmin could see how hard she was trying not to look at her.

The silence she was left with was deafening. The sound of the chair scraping on the floor of her room hurt her newly sensitive ears. She dragged it towards the door so that she could watch UNIT walk on egg-shells around her. People came to check on her in the hour she was left alone, but they avoided her when they could.

She rested her elbows on her thighs, and head in her hands tiredly as she watched people walk past. They blurred into indefinable shapes and colours as her vision swam. She blinked rapidly to clear her vision, and when she did, she saw the familiar boots of a certain time lady.

“How are you doing?” asked the Doctor.

“Fine, do ya have any news?” replied Yasmin, though her voice was slurring slightly.

“We know what happened to you.” explained the Doctor, “the alien we encountered is called a Hyria. It released a sort of electric shock, but it’s biological. Humans don’t react well to the toxin released; OxyHyri. In fact, not many species do.”

“Is that bad then?” asked Yasmin, biting her lip.

“Bad news, yeah. And it’s contagious. But good news, Osgood is already working on the cure. She’s got the boys and Kate helping her too,” said the Doctor.

“That’s good. I don’t feel as bad as I thought I would, either,” said Yasmin.

Yasmin stood up from her chair to demonstrate, but her knees locked and she gasped. Both of her legs gave way beneath her, betraying her before she’d even had a chance to take a step. They wobbled and she grabbed onto the back of the chair, but it was too late and she fell to her knees when they buckled. She sat for a moment, shocked, trying to find her breath.

“Oh,” she breathed.

The Doctor looked like she wanted to reach out and grab her, but she was trapped by the locked door. For a moment, her hand fell to the sonic in her pocket as she considered unlocking the door, but she withdrew her hand with a deep sigh, one that went missed by Yasmin.

“Are you okay?” asked the Doctor.

Yasmin pulled herself from the floor and back into her chair, avoiding putting any pressure on her legs.

“Yeah, everything’s fine,” said Yasmin weakly.

“I-I’m just gonna sit here, make sure you’re fine okay? I’ll just…guard you. Right here, waiting for you to be all safe and sound,” said the Doctor.

Yasmin looked at her sadly, “Doctor, as much as I’d like that, you know you’re better off with them at the lab. You can’t help me from the other side of the door, but you can help me by trying to find a cure. I’ll be okay here.”

“You’re right. I’ll make you a compromise though. I’m going to stay on the phone to you from Ryan’s, and then we can keep you updated and have a nice chat,” said the Doctor.

“Yeah, sounds good. I’ll see you later, Doctor,” said Yasmin, watching the Doctor reluctantly walk back to the laboratory.

With a gulp, Yasmin took off her jacket. In the reflection of the glass, she could see that the purple veins had spread further up her arms and had begun to snake up her neck. Yasmin realised that was why her head felt heavy and her face was numb. She had started to lose feeling in it, only now aware of the painful twinge in her neck.

She pulled her jacket back up to avoid more of the stares she had been receiving. Yasmin felt a vibration in her pocket and reached for her phone, seeing a picture of herself and Ryan flashing onto the screen. She answered the alien’s call, clearing her throat.

“Hey Yaz, how’s it hanging?” came the Doctor’s voice from the other end of the line.

“I’ve been better. How’s the cure coming?” asked Yasmin hopefully.

“…Osgood is working on it. She needs to break down the elements of the toxin and reform them into a cure, with some other alieny stuff. She’s getting there, though. Should have it ready within the hour, she says,” answered the Doctor.

Yasmin closed her eyes and leaned her head back into the chair, “Oh…an hour. That’s-that’s good. Hey, do you think I can talk to Graham and Ryan, quickly?”

The Doctor passed the phone to Graham first and he answered eagerly, “Yaz? How you doing?”

“I’m alright. Listen, I just wanted to say a few things,” said Yasmin, growing dizzy, “just…I wanted to say thank you for looking after me. You didn’t have to, especially ‘cause you have Ryan, but I appreciate it. I’m really glad you’re travelling with us.”

“Hey Yaz, I know what you’re doing. And I’m not going to say goodbye, because it isn’t goodbye. Hang in there,” said Graham.

“Thanks, Graham, can you pass me to Ryan?” asked Yasmin.

“Hey Ryan? I’m really glad I met ya again. I know we weren’t really friends before, but you’re like one of my best friends now. Just…if things don’t go well, you’ll look after the Doctor, won’t you?” asked Yasmin.

“Yaz, shut up. You aren’t going anywhere, you can look after the time lady yourself. We’ll have the cure ready in no time, promise,” said Ryan.

Before Yasmin had a chance to argue, she heard the Doctor arguing with Ryan and snatching the phone from him.

“Yaz,” said the Doctor gravely, “stop saying goodbye. Now.”

“What if I don’t get to say it later?” whispered Yasmin.

“Don’t,” warned the Doctor.

“Hey Doctor…” said Yasmin very quietly, “I think you should probably come back here.”

“Why?” asked the Doctor, her voice rising in pitch.

Yasmin didn’t answer though. Her hands cramped and she dropped her phone to the floor, letting the screen shatter beside her. She looked down to the lock screen, a photo of the four of them from a spa planet. The Doctor rested her head on Ryan’s shoulder as he took the photo, Yasmin grinning from behind them, Graham with his arm around her. It hurt her to think she wouldn’t be travelling with them anymore. She wondered if they’d think of her, when they were exploring the universe.

She barely heard the stampede of Ryan, Graham, Kate and the Doctor sprinting to the quarantine room. The Doctor banged on the door to get her attention, but she didn’t respond.

Yasmin leaned forward in her chair, her eyes closed. Her breathing had become almost non-existent and her chest rose and fell less with every second. The Doctor tried to listen to her breathing from the other side of the wall, but Ryan’s crying drowned it out.

Her eyes opened very slowly, as if to show them all she wasn’t dead. Yasmin had dark circles under her eyes, stained with the ghosts of tears she’d shed hours before. Her body didn’t have the energy to cry anymore. Her pitiful eyes made contact with the Doctor’s, silently begging for them to do something.

“Right, everyone, stand back,” said the Doctor, with the authority of a UNIT leader.

They stood back as instructed and watched in horror as the Doctor pulled out the sonic screwdriver and unlocked the door to the quarantine room.

“Doctor! No!” shouted Kate.

The Doctor ran into the room and ordered Kate to lock it behind her. Kate, angrily and reluctantly, did as she was asked. The Doctor rushed towards Yasmin, ignoring everyone’s protests.

“Doctor! We can’t have you getting infected too!” reasoned Ryan.

“It’s my fault it went this far! I’m not letting her suffer on her own. I promised I wouldn’t let anything happen to her,” said the Doctor.

She rushed over to Yasmin, crouching in front of her. Yasmin hadn’t even noticed she was there as her eyes flickered closed and her face fell slack.

“How is she?” asked Graham quietly.

Her skin, as the Doctor stroked it, burned under her touch. It was a temperature she hadn’t even realised humans could reach. The purple veins had spread and how stood out starkly against her neck. The Doctor looked at the chapped, pale lips and sunken eyes.

“She’s dying,” said the Doctor bluntly.

“Well save her then!” hissed Ryan.

Yasmin lifted her eyes to look at the Doctor, though the time lady wasn’t sure her companion could even focus on her.

“Doctor?” she asked croakily.

“Yeah Yaz?”

“Why are you here?” she asked.

“To save you, of course. Why else would I do anything, Yaz?” said the Doctor, desperately forcing a smile.

“I have something bad to tell you,” whimpered Yasmin.

“What’s that?” asked the Doctor with a frown.

“I think I’m pretty sick,” said Yasmin.

“A little,” said the Doctor sadly.

Yasmin scrunched up her nose with an adorable, heart-breaking sniffle as she bit her dry lips, “I don’t want you to risk this happening to you too.”

“You’re worth the risk,” said the Doctor.

Yasmin’s eyes fluttered shut, despite the Doctor talking to her. She slumped forward into the Doctor’s chest. The Doctor laid her gently on the floor, trying to ignore the desperate shouts from Ryan and Graham on the other side of the room.

None of them heard Osgood approach until she shouted at Kate, carefully holding a syringe of clear liquid in her hand. Ryan and Graham dodged out of its way.

“Open the damn door!” shouted Osgood, taking Kate by surprise.

Osgood, with a mask covering half of her face, sprinted clumsily through the door as soon as Kate had unlocked it. She crouched beside the Doctor, leaning worriedly over Yasmin. She was hardly breathing at this point, the purple veins creeping even further around her body. Osgood never thought she’d ever see the Doctor cry, but she was.

“Hold her still,” instructed Osgood.

The Doctor nodded and pinned down Yasmin’s arms. Osgood placed her thumb on the syringe and positioned it over Yasmin’s upper arm. Yasmin jerked when the syringe went into her skin, shuddering as the liquid was pushed in. Osgood removed the syringe and watched Yasmin closely.

“Are you sure it will work?” asked the Doctor hoarsely.

Yasmin didn’t stir but she did writhe slightly despite being held down by the Doctor and Osgood. Kate and Graham were holding Ryan back, knowing that he’d risk his safety to go to her. Kate also had a firm hand on Graham’s arm, willing him to stay back too.

“Yaz?” asked the Doctor when she stopped moving.

She had stopped twitching and thrashing, falling eerily still. The only movement was the very shallow and occasional breath that made her chest rise and fall. The Doctor placed her hands on either side of the girl’s face, trying to shake her awake.

“What’s happening Doctor?” screamed Ryan.

“She-she’s not waking up,” answered the Doctor with a gulp.

“That’s it, I’m coming in!” shouted Ryan, only to be held back by Graham, who hugged him tight to his chest.

“Doctor, what do we do?” asked Kate, looking tearfully at the young woman who was dying under her watch.

“I don’t know,” whispered the Doctor, brushing Yasmin’s hair from her still face.

“Wait Doctor, look,” whispered Osgood.

Yasmin coughed herself back into consciousness, jerking forward as it caught in her throat. Osgood rubbed her back soothingly. Yasmin took several deep breaths and collapsed back onto the floor, looking up tiredly at the Doctor. She gave the time lady her best smile when she leaned down to kiss her forehead, muttering reassuringly.

“I’m so sorry this happened to you, I’m so so sorry I didn’t check you over better,” gasped the Doctor in one fast breath.

“Oh, shut it,” breathed Yasmin.

“She’s going to be okay,” grinned Osgood when she scanned Yasmin.

Ryan and Graham burst through the door, throwing themselves on their knees to hug their friend. She winced when they picked her up and engulfed her in a bear hug, but she laughed fondly anyway.

“How do you feel?” asked Graham, hugging Yasmin as if he never wanted to let go of her again.

“Terrible,” said Yasmin, earning herself a kiss on the forehead.

“You two are just as bad as the Doctor,” said Kate as she shook her head, watching the boys storm into quarantine from the doorway. She supposed there was no need for special measures anymore.

The Doctor grinned, proud of them, and joined in the hug herself. She was caught staring at Yasmin when her companion opened her eyes.

“Hey,” Yasmin greeted softly.

Ryan slapped her gently on the shoulder, and Yasmin’s sweet expression changed to an angry one.

“Hey!” she repeated, only angry this time.

“Never do that to us again!” he warned with an equally angry tone.

“Course not, you lot would miss me too much,” said Yasmin, resting her head on Ryan’s shoulder.

Yasmin closed her eyes again, exhausted, and found herself enjoying the comfort of the three people that had wrapped themselves around her. She couldn’t stand up on her own feet, and instead allowed the others to carry all of her weight in their hug.

Kate stood in the doorway, shooting a grateful smile to Osgood. She made a mental note, as she walked away to report the incident as resolved, to prepare twenty four hours in advance before a visit from the Doctor and her friends.

Chapter Text

The Doctor found herself waiting for her family once more as she landed the TARDIS outside the vast flats where Yasmin lived. She leaned against the console, chewing at a custard cream, waiting for them to pile through the TARDIS doors. Often, it was Yasmin first, excitedly hugging her or giving the TARDIS a loving stroke. The Doctor knew who her ship’s favourite was. Next would be Ryan, running towards the Doctor at full speed to ask where they were going or to make a suggestion.

Today was unusual, though. She didn’t hear excited chatter outside, as she often did, to announce her companions’ arrival. She didn’t even hear Ryan and Yasmin’s loud bickering, which often erupted before they’d even set foot inside the TARDIS.

Instead, the doors opened quietly, almost sombrely, as Graham stepped through. He opened the TARDIS doors gingerly, as if he wasn’t quite sure how to announce himself without Ryan or Yasmin. The Doctor looked up when she sensed the doors opening and watched curiously.

“Oh, Graham! Hey!” said the Doctor, waving enthusiastically as he appeared from the other side of the TARDIS doors.

She swallowed the rest of the custard cream, ready for the high energy adventure she had been looking forward to since last time she dropped them off. She had decided to give them a choice between her favourite planets; an intimacy she didn’t offer to many.

“Hi, Doc,” Graham waved back, though with evidently less enthusiasm.

“So, are the others waiting outside? They’re usually the first ones to come barging in,” mused the Doctor.

“Yeah, that’s what I’m here about Doc. We won’t be able to make it for an adventure today,” explained Graham.

The Doctor pouted, “Oh, we can’t have that! Why not?”

“Ryan’s not feeling too well, and Yaz is stuck down at the police station after an incident,” said Graham.

The Doctor looked concerned, "Are they both okay?”

“Ryan will get there, and Yaz is fine, her partner got punched by some low-life and she has to stay late to help them with the report.”

The Doctor narrowed her eyes, “So how come you can’t come?”

“Oh, didn’t think you’d fancy it, just the two of us,” answered Graham, quite surprised that the Doctor wanted to travel without the energy of the two young ones.

“What? Graham, of course I do! So, where do you want to go then?” asked the Doctor enthusiastically.

There was a soft smile on Graham’s face, but it faltered when the Doctor began dancing around the console, trying to think up somewhere nice to take Graham. He could see her muttering to herself, searching in her mind through all the wonderful places she’d visited and planets she’d heard of.

“Actually, Doc, I’m not really feeling up to it today. I might just go and sit on the sofa with Ryan, you know, to keep him company,” said Graham, sheepishly.

At first, the Doctor was disappointed. She wondered why Graham would rather watch television than spend time with her. She watched him intently, until she figured it out. At first, it was the look in his eyes. It was familiar, as if she was looking in a mirror into her own eyes. Then, it was his slumped shoulders and the way he avoided looking into his eyes.

The last thing she noticed was the way the golden necklace that so often hung around his neck was now clutched so tight in his hands that it made his knuckled white.

“Graham,” asked the Doctor softly, “what day is it?”

Graham flinched slightly, “It’s October 7th.”

The Doctor smiled sadly, “I’m sorry, Graham. I didn’t realise.”

“Nah, it’s not your fault Doc. It’s not like you’ve ever been the best at grasping dates, or times,” Graham joked half-heartedly.

October 7th was, in all honestly, a day the Doctor thought about often. Sometimes she thought about it fondly, considering it was the day she’d met Graham, Yaz and Ryan; it was the beginning of their adventure. However, the day, as many did, had a darkness too. It was also remembered as the day Ryan lost his nan, and Graham lost his wife. The Doctor still felt a sharp, painful guilt in the pit of her stomach.

“Graham,” said the Doctor, “I have something I’d like to show you. If you don’t mind.”

“Sure Doc, I suppose I shouldn’t be moping around anyway,” answered Graham.

She set the coordinates without warning, though the TARDIS seemed to know already where they were going. She whirred and whined into action, unbalancing both Graham and the Doctor as she took off. Graham held onto the console to keep himself on his feet, rolling his eyes as the Doctor laughed gleefully at being lifted from her own feet. Graham envied how easy it was for the alien to distract herself.

She slammed down a lever to stabilise the TARDIS and Graham breathed a sigh of relief at the safer-than-most landing. Graham took his hands off the console, testing his ability to stand up straight. Once confident that the TARDIS had finished her lurching, he turned to look at the Doctor, who was waiting for him excitedly.

“So, what planet are we on?” asked Graham.

“We’re not on a planet,” explained the Doctor.

“Well where are we then?”

“Carefully open the TARDIS doors, don’t step outside. I’ll explain where we are then,” said the Doctor.

Graham shot the Doctor a confused look, but the Doctor just shrugged at him. Hesitantly, he made his way towards the TARDIS doors, with the Doctor standing behind him. He opened one door followed by the second and gasped. The Doctor had been right; they definitely weren’t on a planet.

They looked out onto a dark abyss of space, glowing with the light of white stars that were dotted through it. Graham looked in wonder at what looked like pink and orange clouds circling the planets. Of course, Graham had seen the stars before, and he’d seen photos of space, Hell, he’d even been floating around in it, but this wasn’t like anything he’d ever seen. It almost didn’t look real.

“This probably isn’t the Milky Way is it?” said Graham.

“It’s not. This is the Perdita constellation, in the Seventh Galaxy,” said the Doctor, resting her arm on Graham’s shoulder.

“Why are we here? Not that it’s not beautiful, of course,” said Graham.
“Why else, Graham? Because of the story!”

“I’m lost,” said Graham, a confused frown on his face.

“It’s a bedtime story. They say that there’s more stars in the Perdita constellations than anywhere else in time and space. You see all of those stars, the ones that shine just a bit brighter? They’re said to be those we’ve lost; the people who are so loved, so remembered that the universe itself is unable to erase them. Everyone we love glitters in the sky until we are able to join them,” said the Doctor.

“You’re trying to tell me you think Grace is up here?” asked Graham with a light chuckle.

“Graham, look, she’s that one,” grinned the Doctor, pointing to the singular, pearl-white star that shone in front of them.

“She looks a bit lonely,” said Graham with a sigh.

At first, he had merely been humouring the Doctor. But now, he looked at the light of the star and it reminded him of when he had first met her, and the glitter of the star looked almost as if it was laughing with him, and if it truly was Grace, then Graham was sure she would be.

“Trust me, the lonely one is never the one who has died,” said the Doctor.

“Why are you showing me this, Doc?” asked Graham curiously.

“Because Graham, I have lost more people than anyone should ever have to. And I know how hard it is to let go. But we never truly have to let them go. They’re in memories, in stories, and in the stars. She’ll always be with you.”

For a moment, the Doctor thought she saw Graham wipe away a tear with his sleeve. She decided not to comment on it, considering neither of the boys ever cried in front of her.

“Don’t suppose you’ve ever lost a wife though, have you?” asked Graham.

“And that,” said the Doctor quietly, “leads me onto the second thing I want to show you.”

She ran towards the console, leaving Graham staring out at the constellation of stars. He looked once more at the Doctor’s proclaimed Grace Star and closed the door. He wiped away another tear that had fallen before turning around to look at the Doctor.

The Doctor was sitting on the floor of the TARDIS, near the console. There was a square-shape in the floor and the Doctor sonic-ed each of the four corners of the shape. The square became unstuck and the Doctor lifted it up, revealing a hole beneath it. Graham peered into it and saw what he presumed was used for storage.

“Don’t tell anyone about this, okay? This, to me, contains the most valuable objects in the entirety of the TARDIS. I most definitely don’t need Ryan’s hands on it, or any of our enemies either for that matter,” warmed the Doctor.

“Your secret’s safe with me,” promised Graham, though he still wasn’t sure what the Doctor was doing.

The Doctor lifted up the compartment underneath the TARDIS floor, and Graham raised his eyebrows. She carefully sifted through various items; including a pair of glasses, an umbrella, a flower press with an autumnal leaf and a purple jacket. Eventually, she found a small box and lifted it out with both hands.

The box was made from a dark wood with gilded corners, dust forming on the lid as if it had been years since it had been opened. The Doctor sighed lightly and opened it, holding it out so that Graham could see what was inside.

He wasn’t sure what he had been expecting, but he was definitely surprised. Inside he found a navy-blue; TARDIS blue yet somehow black bowtie. The material was nicer than any tie Graham had ever owned and it was much softer to the touch as well.

“What is it?” asked Graham.

“It’s a bowtie,” answered the Doctor.

“Yeah, Doc, I know that. Why are you showing me a bowtie?” said Graham.

“Oh, right. This bowtie…it’s my wedding ring,” explained the Doctor.

Graham narrowed his eyes and looked down at the bowtie as if he was missing something. He thought, maybe, there was a gold band hidden within the fabric, but found that there wasn’t anything to match the ring he too wore on his finger.

“That doesn’t make sense…also, you’re married?” said Graham.

“We didn’t really have time to do things conventionally. Once upon a time, I had a wife too. But, I lost her as well. Actually, I watched her die once, when I was much younger, and then I had to leave her behind again. What I’m trying to say, Graham, is that I know what you’re going through,” said the Doctor.

Graham carefully picked up the bowtie and stroked it with his thumb, “So this is your frog necklace, then?”

The Doctor smiled, “Yeah, I suppose it is.”

“How long ago did you lose her?” asked Graham, as gently as he could.

“Oh, too many years to count now,” said the Doctor.

“I don’t think I’ll ever stop counting the years,” responded Graham, his eyes cast to the bowtie in his hands.

“That’s what makes you humans so beautiful…you really do never stop counting,” smiled the Doctor.

Graham smiled down at the Doctor, who noticed that for the moment, the sadness in his eyes had faded. She knew, from experience, that it would return, but for now he was happy. She watched the bowtie in his hand, which he held so soft, as if he knew how precious it was.

When she looked up, she noticed that Graham was watching her curiously. His eyes had widened, and she knew what that meant.

“I know you want to ask me something, ask it,” encouraged the Doctor.

Graham hesitated for a moment, but obliged.

“Doc, you must’ve fallen in love with more people than just your wife, if you really are thousands of years old?” asked Graham.

The Doctor scratched the back of her neck, “Oh yeah, every few hundred years there’s someone who changes your life. Some species believe that when a planet completes one hundred revolutions around their sun, a soulmate is brought to them. Shame, humans seem to only get to meet one of them.”

“You could show me a thousand years of soulmates, Doc, and I’d still choose Grace,” said Graham.

“Humans, so sentimental.”

“Oh, and you’re not? What about your mystery box of souvenirs you keep in the floor of your ship?” argued Graham.

“Oh, that’s nothing. Though, one day I expect, I’ll have something of each of yours in there,” said the Doctor, sadly.

“Tell you what, when that time comes, you can have my frog necklace. Put it with your silly bowtie,” offered Graham.

“I can’t take that!” gasped the Doctor.

“You’re the friend of the frogs, are you not? Besides, who better to keep it than someone who can keep the memories alive forever?” said Graham.

The Doctor grinned wildly and took Graham’s speech as an opportunity to pull him into a hug. For a moment he resisted, but then he set down the bowtie and wrapped his arms around the alien. She relaxed further into the hug and closed her eyes, still smiling.

“That’s enough sentimentality for one day,” Graham mumbled into the Doctor’s blonde hair.

“There’s never enough sentiment to fill a day, Graham!” argued the Doctor cheerfully, as if she had been briefly eased from the pain she was sharing with Graham.

Graham rolled his eyes, “Come on, Doc. Ryan’s probably missing us. You fancy coming to join us? If you’re lucky enough, Ryan might even let you pick the film.”

“Very much doubt that, but let’s go anyway!”

Graham shook his head and watched as the Doctor brought him back to Sheffield. His eyes cast down to the square in the floor that hid everything the Doctor held dear. They had been walking over them all this time and it reminded him of walking in a graveyard. He was thrown from his thoughts when the Doctor linked his arm and led him excitedly back home.

Later that night, when Earth’s own stars had begun to dot the sky, the Doctor watched Graham from the safety of her TARDIS. She leaned against her, feeling the comforting rumble of the machine inside. In the darkness, she could see Graham sitting beside Grace’s grave. Next to a pottery frog, painted green and gold, he placed down a bouquet of pink and orange flowers and a single white rose; all the colours of the galaxy.

Chapter Text

“I can’t believe,” shouted the Doctor dramatically, “that Yasmin Khan is choosing to walk the streets of Sheffield on Earth instead of coming on an adventure with us.”

Ryan rolled his eyes, “She has a job, Doctor, stop acting like she’s run away from home. Besides, am I not good enough company?”

“Oi, I’m here too,” added Graham from where he stood on the other side of the console room.

“You guys are brilliant, obviously, but we’re a fam! It’s not the same without Yaz,” argued the Doctor.

“She’s got us there, Ryan. It isn’t the same when one of us isn’t here,” agreed Graham.

The Doctor threw up her hands in exasperation, pacing around the TARDIS console. She liked how the worked together, as a team, and things weren’t right without one of them. That, or maybe she just missed Yasmin’s company.

“Okay, fam. I’m going to take you to New York, the Roaring 20s! Beautiful time, lots and lots of partying! You two up for it?” asked the Doctor, clapping her hands together.

“Now you’re talking!” said Ryan with an excited gleam in his eyes.

“First though,” said the Doctor sheepishly, “I’m going to call Yaz and see if she can take the day off. You know, just in case she’s always wanted to visit 1920s New York. I wouldn’t know, of course.”

“Oh, for God’s sake Doc. You’re like the drunk at the party who can’t stop calling their ex,” sighed Graham.

The Doctor pointed to him distractedly, “I have no idea what you’re talking about. Doesn’t matter though, I’m calling Yaz.”

The Doctor picked up the phone that was attached to the TARDIS console and dialled Yasmin’s number. She knew all of theirs by heart, of course. She tapped her foot as she waited for Yasmin to pick up, ignoring the roll of Ryan’s eyes.

“Hello?” came Yasmin’s confused voice.

Her voice echoed through the console room as if it was the Doctor’s version of the speaker phone.

“Yaz? It’s me. And Graham, and Ryan, say hi guys!” said the Doctor.

“Hi Yaz,” they both mumbled, embarrassed by the Doctor’s desperation, which they were sure even Yasmin could see.

“Doctor, did you hack me or something? How are you talking to me right now?” asked Yasmin, the hint of irritation evident to everyone but the Doctor.

“What do you mean? I’m calling you on the phone, lots of people do it,” said the Doctor, growing more confused.

“Doctor,” said Yasmin, “you’re talking to me on my police radio. Only my co-workers should be able to contact me on this. In fact, you shouldn’t be able to even reach my mobile right now, let alone my radio.”

“Oh…that’s not supposed to happen. While you’re here though, do you fancy taking the day off and coming with us to New York. 1920’s, but that’s not important.”

“Doctor, I’d love to, I can’t wait to come see you, but I’m busy today,” said Yasmin with a sigh.

“Yaz, why are you bein’ quiet?” asked Graham.

“Guys, I can’t really talk right now,” said Yasmin, her voice resembling a plea.

“Where are ya? Doesn’t sound like you’re sitting in your police car waiting for speeders. What are you up to?” asked Ryan.

“You are at work, aren’t you Yaz?” asked the Doctor.

Yasmin didn’t intend to tell any of them the truth, but the hurt in the Doctor’s voice changed her mind. She was silent for a moment and her three friends leaned in closer to the phone, waiting for her reply.

“Fine. I am at work, but I’m not dealing with tickets today. Someone…called in a bomb threat to our precinct so I’m down the bank, where the call was traced to. The whole team is down here, there’s no chance I’d be able to leave,” explained Yasmin.

The Doctor’s eyes widened, and she looked in disbelief from Graham to Ryan. Panic was just as clear on their faces as it was on hers.

“Yaz, what the hell do you mean you’re in a building with a bomb right now?” said Graham, his voice rising in pitch.

“It’s just a bomb threat. It’s probably just a prank call, or a joke. Nine times out of ten nothing comes from calls like these, trust me,” reassured Yasmin.

“What if this is that one time it isn’t! They can’t send a nineteen year old to a bomb, that’s crazy!” said Ryan.

“Guys, calm down. I’m not even in the active part of the building, I’m just going around asking people questions. Sort of what we do isn’t it?” argued Yasmin.

“But Yaz-” begun the Doctor.

“Bye, all of ya. I’ll talk to you later, have fun in New York,” said Yasmin as she hung up.

They all stared at each other blankly as they heard the beeps of the phone, signalling that Yasmin had ended their conversation. A frown developed on the Doctor’s face and her eyebrows knitted together.

“So, no chance of us going to New York today then, huh Doc?” asked Graham.

“Oh, definitely not Graham. How about instead, though, we take a trip down to the Hallamshire Bank and take a good look round?” said the Doctor hopefully.

“Yeah, that sure beats Great Gatsby and shots,” said Ryan, sarcastically.

 

**

 

Yasmin held down the button on her radio, praying that the Doctor wouldn’t figure out how to call her again. She was grateful that they cared; but it was the first time she had been allowed to contribute to something other than petty crime. Sure, all of her colleagues were helping too, but it was a start.

She had separated from the others after being given the task of talking to witnesses. Yasmin was taken behind the counters and queues once the bank had been shut and walked around with a clipboard in her hands. She found herself brought through a ‘Staff Only’ door and down corridors of desks and offices.

She reached an office with a closed door and knocked as confidently as she could on the door. The voice on the other side called her in after a brief pause.

“Hi, Sir, can I have a word with you please?” she asked to the two people sat inside, chattering nervously.

“Of course, Officer, come in,” greeted the man who had been sat behind the desk.

“Thanks,” she said, noting that he was the Financial Manager, as according to the sign on the desk.

“What can we help you with?” asked the second man, who appeared to be the assistant.

“I was wonderin’ if you’d seen anything suspicious. Anything that could help us; people loitering in the bank, other prank calls, any arguments with customers?” asked Yasmin, clicking the pen in her hand.

“There was nothing unusual before today. I did see something strange earlier today though. A man and a woman came through the doors, talking on their phones. They walked around for a while, but they didn’t withdraw any money, or even talk to our staff. The woman left alone, and no one saw the man leave,” said the Financial Manager.

Yasmin raised her eyebrow, “No one at all?”

The Financial Manager shook his head. Yasmin paled slightly at the thought and excused herself from them. Once out in the corridor, away from their hearing, she radioed for her superior officer.

“Sergeant?” she asked through her radio.

“Yes, Officer Khan? Everything alright?” asked Ramesh.

“I just spoke with the manager…he seemed to think there’s still a man somewhere in the bank from earlier today. He was apparently talking to someone on the phone, sounds like maybe he was planning something?” said Yasmin.

Ramesh sighed, “Thank you Yaz, that’s unfortunately all the evidence we need to put the bank on lockdown. Most of the civilians are out now, just need you to send the staff our way. Radio back when everyone’s out.”

Yasmin put the radio back in her belt and turned around to the office she had just left to tell them they needed to leave. She noticed the door was ajar, despite her closing it behind her. She peered through the door and saw that the two men were no longer inside the room.

She walked up and down the corridors, making sure the other rooms were all empty. She was relieved to find that they were.

She radioed back Ramesh, “Hey Sergeant, can you check two men left the building? Uh, the manager’s called Dennis Tall, and he should have his assistant with him, a James Tyler? They disappeared on me.”

“I’ll check with whoever’s doing the registers and get back to you. Yaz, we need you back here in ten minutes, that’s when the lock down is scheduled. If you see anything suspicious, or you get worried, come straight back to the front door. You know the drill,” said Ramesh.

“Of course, Sir. I’ll stay here in case I see them, until you get back to me at least.”

In the new-found quiet, and being left alone, Yasmin felt uncomfortable. She knew there was now a potential, significant threat, and if someone was truly walking around with a bomb, she wouldn’t have much change of escaping safely. At least, with aliens you could run from them. You can’t hide from something you don’t even know is real yet. She listened out for the two men she had lost, wondering if they had gone looking for their staff. Yasmin circled the offices which she knew were empty, looking for signs of life as she walked.

She tip-toed, almost comically, back to the office of the manager she had spoken to, in hopes of him returning. She became distracted by the radio in her hand, however, when the beep and static made it clear that someone was trying to talk to her.

“Ramesh?” asked Yasmin once his distant voice came through her radio.

“Yaz, listen carefully. Do not panic, but you need to come out of the bank immediately. Those two men you met, they don’t work in the bank. James isn’t at work this week and Dennis has been missing all day. I don’t know who they are, but they could be a threat. Come calmly to the front door,” said Ramesh, his voice blending with the static of the radio.

“Is it dangerous?” asked Yasmin, her voice panicked and scared.

“I…don’t know. Just don’t run or panic, make your way towards us. I’ll be waiting for you. If you have any problems, just radio in and we’ll help,” reassured Ramesh.

Yasmin exhaled shakily when Ramesh ended their conversation. For the first time since arriving at the bank, she noticed the maze of corridors in front of her, and the thick shadows that surrounded her. She gulped, checking behind her, before walking slowly back the way she came. All she had to do was walk from the back of the building to the front, and even a training police officer could handle that.

All of the offices she passed were still empty, which calmed her slightly, but she paused when she reached the Staff Room she had passed on the way. Yasmin’s breath hitched when she thought she heard a shuffle from the other side of the door. She leaned against the wall and tried to listen for signs of movement.

She thought she heard a voice and she squeezed her eyes closed, terrified that she would never make it back to her precinct. Or her home. Or the TARDIS.

Once it sounded as though no one was inside, or that whoever it was had gone, she threw open the door, taser in her trembling hands. The quaint Staff Room was empty, and she laughed nervously.

“Yaz, you can do this. Down the hall, through the doors, and you’ll be safe. No reason to panic, you’ve been in worse situations. At least here you can’t be pulled into another dimension with killer moths,” Yasmin said to herself, under her breath.

She jumped, nearly letting a sob escape, when the sound of the static made her think someone was behind her. She spun around, taser in her hand, when she heard a voice coming through her radio. Yasmin cursed under her breath, reaching for the radio.

“Ramesh, I think I can hear something. Is it safe to come out?” asked Yasmin, keeping her voice as low as she could manage.

Yasmin cringed at the answer, “Yaz! This isn’t Ramesh. What is going on? We tried to get through but they wouldn’t let us. They said you were the only person still inside, and that they think someone’s in there with you!”

“Oh my God Ryan, don’t scare her,” came Graham’s reply.

“Are you okay Yaz?” came the Doctor’s voice, steadier than the rest.

“Yeah, I’m okay. I just need to get through the building, then I’ll be fine. I told you, don’t worry, I’ve been trained for this, and they still think it’s just a threat anyway,” said Yasmin quietly.

“I don’t believe you. You’re scared. I can come and get you, if you’d like, no one needs to know,” offered the Doctor.

“Doctor, this is my job. If I need to be rescued, they’re never going to take me seriously. I’m just a little nervous, but I’ll be fine. Now, get off the line so Ramesh can call me back, or else I will be in trouble,” said Yasmin.

She said goodbye, and prepared to walk through the door opposite her, which was standing in the way of the corridors down to where the other officers were waiting anxiously for her. She breathed heavily, opening the door, and noticed that she could still hear people talking in her ear.

“Doctor,” said Yasmin through gritted teeth, “what did I say about getting off the line?”

“Ah Yaz,” said the Doctor nervously, “I thought about it, but I figured I’d be of more use if you actually did run into trouble or needed help. I mean, would you rather have a Time Lady watching over ya, or a policeman? No offense to you, or your boss if he can hear us.”

“Doctor, how many more times…” Yasmin cut herself off when she saw something in the corner of her eye.

“What was that, Yaz?” asked the Doctor.

On the other end of the line, Graham, Ryan and the Doctor scrambled over each other for a chance to speak to Yasmin on the phone. They all froze as they waited for Yasmin to answer them. Her heavy breathing scared them all, but they all resisted asking questions until they heard from her.

Yasmin, at first, resisted the urge to look over her shoulder. She felt a heavy shadow behind her, but her whole body was rooted to one spot. She couldn’t even turn her head to reassure herself that she was alone. She realised soon after, however, that she wasn’t alone.

Before she had a chance to turn around, or a chance to run, she felt something cold pressed into the back of her head. The barrel of a gun dug into her head and she blurted out a beg for her life. She was interrupted by the figure who raised the gun above Yasmin’s head, only to bring it back down again, slamming into her head on the way. The metal struck her head as hard as seemed possible, and instead of feeling the burst of pain, Yasmin dropped to the floor, having already lost consciousness on the way, letting the radio hit the ground she was now lying on.

**

Yasmin came to when she heard her heeled boots dragging across the wooden floor, and she felt the tug of her arms as they were held above her head. Her head, in fact, felt like it was on fire. She tried to remember what happened, before it call came back in a terrifying rush. She opened her eyes with a frown as the strain on her limbs proved too uncomfortable and she whimpered.

She realised, through blurry vision, that she was being dragged by the arms, her body being pulled through the dirt of the ground like she was already dead. Yasmin, in a panic, threw her head up to see who was holding her. At first, she thought it may have been Ramesh, or maybe one of the TARDIS crew, but the grip on her was too violent and careless.

“Can you pass out again? You’re easier to carry,” came a gruff voice from above her.

“Mr Tall? What are you doing?” asked Yasmin groggily when she noticed who was dragging her.

The man scoffed, “I’m not Dennis Tall. Mr Tall is lying in a storage cupboard down the corridor…with a bullet in his head.”

Yasmin gulped, “So who are you, then?”

“You don’t need to know. I’m going to take you to your Mr Tall, you’re going to join him, and I’ll be out of here before they even hear the gunshot. So, all I need you to do is shut up and close your eyes.”

“Why are you doing this?” asked Yasmin.

The man practically growled, “What did I just say?”

The corridor seemed much shorter than the others. Typical, she thought, that she could only find her way when she was being dragged by a psychopath to her death.

He paused when they reached a wooden door, one that had a lock broken from it. Yasmin’s breath hitched when she saw what looked like blood at the base of the door, seeping through the gap at the bottom. She twisted her head so that she didn’t have to see it anymore.

“Please, don’t,” breathed Yasmin, the panic growing as her limp feet dragged through the blood that was now pooling out the other side of the door.

The man rolled his eyes and spat, “Kids shouldn’t intervene, it’s not my fault you had to ask the wrong questions. Do the pigs send children in first, or the sniffer dogs? It would be so much easier to kill a hound, honestly.”

Once again, Yasmin felt the cold of a gun pressed against her skin as the man held it against the back of her shoulder. The man dropped Yasmin onto the ground so that he could secure both hands on his gun; finger ready on the trigger. Yasmin fell onto the ground with a grunt, not realising that almost her entire body had been supported by him. The tap of his finger against the trigger made Yasmin flinch.

He moved the gun slowly from her shoulder to her head, as if he were savouring the moment. She could feel the gun in her dark hair, and then against her scalp as he pressed the barrel down.

“It is such a shame though, you’re quite pretty. You know that? Definitely wouldn’t picture a beautiful young thing like yourself alone here. Still, lucky for you, I’ve got other things on my mind than…that,” said the man.

Her eyebrows knitted together in what she assumed would be her last moment left alive to think. She decided to spend it attempting to come up with an escape plan. She had tried kicking, but that had failed. She’d tried begging, but it just brought forward her death sentence.

“You know,” she said, her voice on the verge of crumbling, “I have a friend who would stop at nothing to destroy you if you killed me. In fact, I have three. If-if you do kill me, you’ll soon find out I’m much better use alive. What’s the point killing me if it means you won’t be able to enjoy all of the money you’ve snatched?”

“If your police can’t help you, why would your friends be able to?” argued the man.

Yasmin let her head fall forward. She hadn’t noticed the extent of the wound on her head from the gun until she felt the trickle of warm blood. It trickled down her eyebrow and bounced from her cheekbone like it was a tear. She assumed that, mixed with fear, was why she felt so sick.

She took a deep breath and closed her eyes. She felt the gun in the back of her head like it was already shooting a bullet through it. Yasmin imagined the corpse of the man lying just next to her, on the other side of the door. Maybe her friends would find her, and maybe they wouldn’t be able to tell which body was whose.

“3…” began the man, to taunt her.

“…2…” he whispered in her ear.

“….1…” he breathed, leaning his face into her own.

For a second, she thought he was about to kiss her. She scowled and hoped at the least he would remember the repulsion on her face. But when she saw his expression, she realised something else. His expression mirrored her own; the fear in her eyes and the tremble of her lip.

Yasmin looked up to see whatever had caused him that much fear and found that he had seen the Doctor storming through the corridor doors, Graham and Ryan at a length behind her on each side. Yasmin had never seen the Doctor look so angry. Her coat floated behind her like a cape, her waved hair blown behind her shoulders from the force of her walk.

“The only reason I’m calm right now because I know if I’m not, either Graham or Ryan would kill you. In fact, I can’t guarantee they won’t, but if they get to kill you and I don’t, I will be even angrier,” said the Doctor as she skidded to a halt in front of the man and Yasmin.

“These must be your friends then,” said the man, bemused.

“You,” spat Graham, “shut up.”

“You came,” whispered Yasmin, almost forgetting the gun to her head.

“Yaz Khan, I will always come for you. Even when you insist that you can handle yourself against guns, idiots and bombs. Speaking of which, we’ve found two of three, where’s the bomb?” said the Doctor.

“You’re just as stupid as she is, there isn’t a bomb. The plan’s pretty simple, in and out with the money, evacuate the building with a bomb threat. It isn’t my fault the police sent in your friend like a canary down the mines,” shrugged the man.

“No, it’s not, but it will be your fault if she gets hurt. Let her come over to us now, and you and me can talk this through. Without any collateral,” said the Doctor, holding up her hands in defence.

His eyes wandered down to the gun he had held to Yasmin and it made the Doctor nervous.

“I will kill her first, then the men, and then you. You’re only delaying the inevitable,” said the man.

He once again fixed his finger on the trigger, which made the Doctor lunge forward. Graham grabbed her arm to hold her back and she struggled against him. The Doctor knew Yasmin was running out of time, and that she could only stall the man for so long.

“I have an idea, keep ‘em distracted,” Graham whispered to Ryan, running off in the direction they’d come.

Wide eyed Yasmin didn’t even notice that he’d gone, she just fixed her gaze on the Doctor for reassurance.

“What has Yaz done to you? She’s the last person anyone should be threatening,” said Ryan, arms folded across his chest.

“Wrong time, wrong place. Same as you all,” answered the man gruffly.

“Not really a good reason to kill anyone though, is it? It seems a bit extreme, but I guess that’s just my opinion,” added Ryan.

The man tilted his head, “Would you rather go first?”

For just a moment, Yazmin saw how genuine Ryan’s eyes had become as he answered, “Honestly? If it would spare her, yeah.”

“Let them go. They haven’t even caused you any trouble, I’m the one who was snooping, not this lot,” said Yasmin.

“I told you to shut up,” seethed the man.

He moved the barrel of the gun ever so slightly so that it was pressed into the edge of her head would. She cried out, muffling the sound by clamping her mouth closed. It brought new pain, though this time the dull ache was sharp and unbearable.

“Yaz!” shouted the Doctor and Ryan in unison.

None of them had seen Graham approach, his arms flailing in panic once he had heard Yasmin’s scream. He had a rectangular device tucked in his pocket; a yellow flashing light shining through the material. He stumbled beside Ryan, digging in his pocket before he’d even stopped.

“Yaz, catch!” shouted Graham.

The man was distracted enough for Yasmin to reach out for whatever Graham had thrown to her. Her shaky hands missed at first, but she scrambled for it. Before the man had a chance to pull the trigger, Yasmin pointed the device at the man and dug it into his leg.

“Alien taser, baby!” whooped Ryan as the man shook violently and fell onto his back.

“At least you didn’t find the gun,” sighed the Doctor.

“Oi, thought you said no guns. I’d have been much happier shooting him,” complained Graham.

“Just because I don’t agree with guns doesn’t mean the TARDIS agrees. Besides, we didn’t have to use it, which really should make you agree with me, not argue with me,” the Doctor whined back.

While they argued, Ryan swept up Yasmin and half-carried her over to the others. He could feel her shake as he held her, and he stood in the way of her and the man who had held her hostage so she wouldn’t have to see him. At least he was unconscious, Ryan thought.

“Oh Yaz, Yaz, Yaz,” fussed the Doctor, taking her from Ryan.

“Don’t worry, I’m alright,” said Yasmin, though she still sounded incredibly frightened.

“Where are you hurt? Is it just your head? There-there’s a lot of blood but I don’t think all of it’s yours. Your head is bleeding quite a lot though, can you see fine? How’s your reflexes?” asked the Doctor.

Yasmin rolled her eyes, but she did wince at the reminder of her head pain, “Seriously Doctor, stop worrying.”

“Did he… do anything Yaz? He’s a maniac, I hate to think you were alone with him here,” asked Graham in concern.

“N-no, just knocked me out, dragged me around a bit,” said Yasmin quietly.

Yasmin noticed the Doctor grimace, and she turned to her, “Doctor, I’m really sorry I didn’t listen to you. I…I just wanted to be able to do something. You know, show you that I can stop bad guys on my own sometimes.”

“Yaz, there’s no one more capable than you. But sometimes the bad guys use weapons, or pain, and we can’t beat them alone. Happens to the best of us, doesn’t make you any less Sheffield’s finest policewoman.”

Yasmin blushed and looked away from the Doctor. Suddenly, she bit her lip and reached out to hold the wall, worried that if she kept swaying on her feet than she’d fall. Or, more embarrassingly, throw up on her rescuers. She closed her eyes and reached up to massage her temples.

“Are you alright?” asked the Doctor, leaning over so she was nose to nose with Yasmin.

“I feel really sick,” said Yasmin.

“I’m sure that nasty head wound doesn’t help. I can treat it easy enough back in the TARDIS though, no need to worry,” reassured the Doctor.

‘Yeah, later Doctor. I have to go see the precinct outside first. Ramesh will be worried sick, I’d be surprised if he hasn’t called my mum yet. Bet the whole family’s going spare,” said Yasmin.

“You need to get checked out first Yaz. We live in a time machine, we can get you back to the precinct before they’re even worried,” said the Doctor.

“I’d feel better if I go and see them now,” said Yasmin.

She backed up, ready to leave them behind so she could go and tell everyone that she was fine, but her head erupted into a stabbing pain. The pain from the back of her head seemed to come forward as it spread and another fresh trail of blood fell from the top of her head to her cheek.

“Oh no you don’t,” said the Doctor, engulfing Yasmin into a hug.

“Doctor, what are you doing?” asked Yasmin, her voice muffled by the alien’s coat.

“Sorry Yaz,” said the Doctor sheepishly.

She cupped Yasmin’s face and then put her finger against Yasmin’s forehead. Yasmin furrowed her eyebrows in confusion, wondering what her alien friend was doing. Ryan looked at Graham, confused, but Graham just shrugged. The Doctor pushed down and Yasmin gasped. For a moment, she gaped at the Doctor dreamily, her eyes fluttering. Her eyes rolled back almost immediately and she crumbled into the Doctor’s arms.

The Doctor picked up Yasmin, scooping her up with a grunt, “Which one of you lads is the strongest?”

When Ryan smugly answered, the Doctor gently passed Yasmin over to him, not before she stroked her hair soothingly.

“What did you knock her out for?” asked Graham in disbelief.

The Doctor shrugged, “I’m worried about her head. Also, I really don’t want her to be with me when I hand this guy over to the police. She’s seen enough as it is. It’ll only add to the trauma if she sees him again. Just take her back to the TARDIS and I’ll meet you in the Med-Bay.”

“Doc, she is going to absolutely destroy you when she wakes up,” said Graham.

“Graham’s right, she’ll murder you mate,” added Ryan.

“Yes, well, that’s why I have the taser. Keep her safe until I come back,” said the Doctor, kissing Yasmin on the forehead.

“She never kisses us on the forehead,” grumbled Ryan as the Doctor scrambled over towards the man’s unconscious form.

“She also never knocks us out with a finger, so I guess we’re lucky,” shrugged Graham, watching Yasmin sleep soundly in his arms.

Yasmin twisted in his arms, though the Doctor seemed to have helped her sleep without any nightmares. She smiled slightly, nestling into Graham. He didn’t even mind the excessive blood she was leaving on his jumper, dotting the cream with crimson. He hugged her close to try and get her shaking under control, smiling to himself as he imagined the world of trouble the Doctor would be in when she woke up.

Chapter Text

The Doctor frowned as she stared out of the now open TARDIS doors. Light, hot wind blew beads of sand into the console room, which the TARDIS hummed in objection to. She coughed when sand blew into her face, waving her hand in front of her face to clear it. She shook her head wildly, in a way that reminded the others of a wet dog.

“Blegh, sand,” she spat out.

“I didn’t realise there was sand on a Tundra planet,” said Ryan, his eyes narrowed as if he had missed something.

The Doctor looked sheepish as she slid a pair of sunglasses on and leaned out of the TARDIS. She swung on the doorframe and lifted one leg for balance. She stayed like that for a minute, in which time the others had delved into another conversation.

“Well, this is definitely not where I wanted to go. Yaz, were you thinking about Egypt again? ‘Cause I said it before, you cannot place a bet with Ryan over who could get Cleopatra to fall in love with them first. The reason you’d both lose is because she’s already in love with me. Long story, was sort of an accident,” said the Doctor, folding her sunglasses into her pocket.

“No, I wasn’t. But I still think I’d win. Does that mean we’re in Egypt then?” asked Yasmin.

“Ah, no actually. Looks a lot like it, but it’s a whole other planet. It’s called Manussa actually, I’ve been here before. Promise it’s safe now.”

“Are you sure?” asked Ryan with a raised eyebrow, hesitant to step out of the TARDIS.

“Of course! It’s a type 314-S planet, with almost the exact same atmosphere as Earth. Though the gravity is a little off, so you might feel a little dizzy. Go on, go and stretch your legs while I try and reason with the TARDIS,” offered the Doctor.

“I could do with some fresh air,” agreed Graham, stepping onto the sand below.

“Yeah, me too,” said Yasmin as she joined him, landing on two feet in the sand as she skipped out.

“Quick thing, though,” added the Doctor as she moved aside for Ryan to join the others, “the TARDIS has a sort of protection bubble. Don’t wander outside of it if I’m not with you. She’ll keep you safe, but she can’t do anything if you go too far.”

“We won’t wander off,” said Ryan, patting the Doctor reassuringly on the shoulder.

The door closed behind Ryan, and the Doctor could still hear their bickering on the other side. Yasmin yelped, and Ryan laughed, and the Doctor would’ve rushed to help if she hadn’t heard Graham smack Ryan for throwing sand.

“Right, kids are out, just you and me. Why did you take us to Manussa, huh? What’s so special about sand? It’s not like you want it in your console,” said the Doctor.

The TARDIS hummed in response.

“Okay, brilliant. I’ll just set the coordinates back and we’ll be out of here in no time, is that what you want?” asked the Doctor.

The TARDIS hummed once again. The Doctor threw her hands up in exasperation, kicking about the sand that was causing a mess on the floor.

“You’ve seen something, haven’t ya? You won’t let me leave until I figure out what. You know, you should try bein’ a little less smug. It really doesn’t suit you.”

This time, the TARDIS didn’t make a sound, except a few quiet beeps. The Doctor laid a hand on the console and rolled her eyes.

She was about to continue arguing with the TARDIS when she was interrupted by a squeal. The Doctor spun around to the TARDIS doors, wondering what had happened. The TARDIS had fallen silent too, as if she herself was wondering what the travellers had gotten up to.

‘Ryan, stop throwing sand!” she yelled, using her hands to amplify her voice.

“That wasn’t me that time,” answered Ryan, his voice muffled.

The Doctor knew for sure the squeal belonged to Yasmin when the companion screamed out the alien’s name in a panic. She broke into a sprint, the TARDIS doors thrown open before she even had a chance to click her fingers.

“What’s wrong?” asked the Doctor breathlessly, looking between the three of them.

“Nothing Doctor, Yaz is just freaking out because she saw a snake,” said Ryan, shaking his head.

“I-I don’t like snakes, okay!” said Yasmin, her arms folded across her chest.

“Hey, hey it’s okay. Get back in the TARDIS, nothing to be scared of. Where did you see it, anyway?” said the Doctor.

“Came from under the sand, wrapped itself around Yaz’s foot. It wasn’t that big, but still,” said Graham, watching his own feet in case it made a reappearance.

“Alright, everyone. Take Yaz back inside, I’ll make sure it’s nothing dangerous. Quick scan should do the trick,” said the Doctor.

“No, no I’m not leaving you here with it,” argued Yasmin.

“Yaz, I’ve fought nearly every monster of the universe, you think a little serpent is too much for me?” said the Doctor.

Yasmin and Ryan pushed each other out of the way, each wanting to be first into the TARDIS, leaving the Doctor and Graham. The Doctor scanned the surroundings, and Graham watched awkwardly from where he stood.

“You don’t have to watch over me, Graham,” said the Doctor, not looking up from the sonic.

“Yeah Doc, I know. Can’t stand to listen to those two bicker any more though, you’d think they were still in primary school. Ryan was definitely the boy who pulled her pigtails, I’m telling ya that,” said Graham.

The Doctor wasn’t listening, “Graham,” she asked slowly, “what did the snake look like?”

“What? Oh, eh, looked like an anaconda. It was mostly red, with a white underbelly. Hissed quite a bit too,” said Graham.

As if on demand, the sand beneath them began to move. Something burrowed up by the Doctor and she frowned. Graham protested when she crouched down and pressed her sonic screwdriver into the sand.

“Doc, be careful,” said Graham, but his warning came too late.

The head of the snake came menacingly from the sand. The Doctor whispered something to it, her tone almost impressed, but then it reared upwards and hissed loudly. The snake was obviously threatening the Doctor, so she aimed her sonic at it to protect herself. The snake ignored the sonic and lunged for the hand that held it.

“Doctor!” shouted Graham as the red snake sunk its fangs into the skin.

“Oh, ouch!” pouted the Doctor, prying the snake from her hand.

It scurried back into the sand, the Doctor’s blood seeping from two pristine white fangs. Graham pulled the Doctor to her feet. She cradled her injured hand, glaring in offense at the hole in the sand the snake had made.

“Are you alright?” asked Graham, looking at the two small puncture holes in the Doctor’s hand.

“Oh yeah, I’ve had worse. Kinda important thing though, I need you to come with me to the TARDIS and scan my hand. You know…in case of poison or whatever,” said the Doctor dismissively.

“Oh, geez. Sure Doc,” said Graham nervously.

They stepped through the TARDIS to find Yasmin and Ryan sitting on the floor, lazily talking as they leaned against the pillar. They both looked up worriedly when Graham hurried the Doctor inside, who was still hugging her hand to her chest. Yasmin jumped to her feet and ran over.

“What happened?” she asked.

“Your snake friend didn’t take too kindly to the sonic. Doesn’t matter though, it doesn’t really feel poisonous, so there’s that.” Said the Doctor.

“Poison!” exclaimed Ryan, wide eyed.

“It’s probably nothing. Graham, there’s a scanner plugged into the console to your left. If you could just zap it over the wound, that would be brill,” said the Doctor.

The scanner lit up red and beeped three times. Graham held it over the puncture wounds until the Doctor told him it was finished and asked him to hand it to her. They all crowded around the Doctor, waiting for her to announce whether or not the snake had been poisonous.

“What does it say?” asked Graham when a series of words came up on the scanner.

“Okay…mixed bag,” answered the Doctor, her voice raising in pitch.

“What do you mean?” asked Yasmin.

“Good news, the snake isn’t poisonous. Or venomous.”

“Okay…what’s the bad news then?” asked Graham worriedly.

“The snake…isn’t a snake, it is just taking the form of a snake,” answered the Doctor.

“So, what is it?” asked Ryan.

“A Mara,” said the Doctor, darkly.

“What’s that, then?” asked Yasmin, a frown on her face.

“The Mara is a gestalt creature. The gestalt principles…proximity…it’s keeping you all close for some reason. Continuity…maybe it’s the same creature? That would be impossible, I saw it die. I wouldn’t take any chances, not after Tegan. Or would I?” rambled the Doctor.

“Doc, no offence, but what the Hell are you on about?” asked Graham.

“It’s a dangerous species that likes to possess a host. And it looks like it chose us. Unfortunately for me, but lucky for you, it bit me. That probably means it wants to possess me. Ryan, Graham, Yaz, this is incredibly important. I need you to tie me up,” said the Doctor.

Ryan and Graham looked confused, oblivious to Yasmin’s flustered blush.

“Uh, why?” asked Ryan.

“Because, if the Mara has decided to possess me, it will hurt you all. It’ll probably hurt me too. The Mara thrives on madness, and pain, and chaos. Trust me, you really wouldn’t want the Mara in a host body to be free with you,” explained the Doctor.

The Doctor turned to Yasmin, “Yaz, do you have those handcuffs?”

Ryan elbowed her, choking back a laugh.

“She means my official police handcuffs that are part of my uniform and only used to hold criminals. Obviously. And no Doctor, they’re in my police jacket pocket,” said Yasmin, flushed.

The Doctor gestured to a door beyond the console room and asked one of them to fetch something to tie her with. Graham went into one of the vast cupboards of the TARDIS, sifting through boxes, tools and jackets until he found varied lengths of rope. He tugged at it to make sure it would hold and walked over to the Doctor with it slung over his shoulder.

“Here ya are, Doc,” said Graham as he re-joined the others.

“Great, now tie me around the pillar, hands behind it. Get my ankles while you’re at it, just in case the Mara is a kicker. Come on, Graham,” encouraged the Doctor.

“This is ridiculous, it literally looks like we’re holding you captive. Why can’t we try and get rid of your snake instead?” said Ryan as Graham began tying the Doctor up.

“Ryan, there’s only one way to get rid of a Mara. It has to face itself, in its true form. I can handle it, but it won’t work if the Mara is controlling my body as well as my mind. While we’re going over it, I need you all to make sure no one is left alone with it. You all need to stick together until I figure it out,” said the Doctor.

“Sure, Doc. But…don’t you have a plan?” asked Graham.

“Oh, not really, but I do really well under pressure,” reassured the Doctor.

“Is there anything we can get you, Doctor? You don’t look extremely comfortable?” asked Yasmin worriedly.

“Don’t worry about me. Though, Yaz, if you wouldn’t mind passing me a biscuit every now and again, I would appreciate that a lot,” said the Doctor.

“That I can do,” said Yaz warmly.

The Doctor’s eyes fluttered closed, and Yasmin looked in concern at Ryan. Graham gave them both a comforting hand, which also held them back. She was muttering something under her breath, something obviously not meant for any of them to hear.

“Sounds like she’s arguing with herself,” whispered Ryan.

“Uh, no, don’t,” came the Doctor’s strained voice.

“Can we help her?” asked Yasmin.

“You know what she said. We need to wait for her to come up with a plan,” said Graham, hand on Yasmin’s shoulder.

The Doctor tossed her head with a pained, frustrated groan. Yasmin resisted the urge to run to her, helped by the calmness of her friends either side of her. Though, they both looked as though they were extremely close to untying the Doctor. Each expression of pain made them edge closer.

The Doctor’s head snapped up, but her eyes were still tightly closed. She twisted her arm that was still tied down by ropes, and Yasmin took a step forward to look at it.

“Yaz, stop,” warned Graham in a whisper.

“She’s not awake. But look at this,” said Yasmin, hovering over the Doctor.

There was a snake shaped mark on her arm that looked like a tattoo. It was a bold, threatening red. Yasmin gulped, as she knew for a fact the Doctor didn’t have a snake tattoo.

“Hosts of the Mara developed a snake mark upon the arm,” mumbled the Doctor, seemingly in her sleep.

“Guess the Doc was right then, the Mara was after her,” said Graham.

“Correction,” said the Doctor in a low, quiet voice, “the Mara got her.”

The Doctor’s eyes met Yasmin’s, just as she stepped back to join the others. Except, it wasn’t the hazel eyes that Yasmin had grown so fond of, instead they were red; the same shade as the snake on her arm. She bared her teeth at Yasmin, and the companion noticed they were sharp, like fangs.

“Who’ve we got here, then?” asked the Doctor, or Yasmin supposed it was the Mara.

The Mara’s voice was almost like the Doctor’s, but it was distorted as if it was coming from somewhere else. It spoke through the Doctor’s mouth, except it was harsh, grave and husky. It sent a shiver down Yasmin’s spine when it reached her ears.

“We’re friends of the body you’ve stolen. I presume you’re the Mara?” said Graham.

“It is an interesting body. I’ve tried your kind before, so loud and angry. You humans don’t have two hearts, so what am I possessing?” asked the Mara.

“We’re not telling you that!” said Yasmin, her hand balling into a fist at her side.

“Shame, I’ll have to do some digging, then,” the Mara hissed.

A voice, so painfully the Doctor’s, interrupted the Mara with a loud shout. She writhed and struggled against her restraints with a frustrated cry. Whatever was happening to her, it looked like it hurt.

“What’s happening?” asked Ryan in concern.

“It…the-the Mara is digging around in my mind. Distract it…” said the Doctor in between short, ragged breaths.

“Hey, Mara,” began Graham, “why don’t you tell us what you want? You wouldn’t have gone to all this trouble so you could find us if it wasn’t something important. Maybe we could help you?”

Once again, they were confronted by the Mara, “You don’t know everything about your friend. She’s killed more of my sisters and brothers than I can count. The only way we can finally be free from that pain is to make the Doctor feel it too.”

“So, you know whose body you’re in now?” asked Yasmin.

“I knew when that retched machine landed that it would be one of you. You all smell of Earth, but the Doctor smells of Time. It wasn’t hard to find her,” said the Mara.

“What are you gonna do? In case you haven’t noticed, you’re a little tied up mate,” said Graham.

“Oh, it’s easy. I’m going to trick one of you into letting me go. Humans are surprisingly easy to manipulate,” said the Mara.

“Nah, fella, I think you’ll find you don’t give humans enough credit,” said Graham.

“I give credit where it is due,” said the Mara with a lick of her lips.

“Give her back to us,” said Yasmin, as sternly as she was able.

“Or what, human?” hissed the Mara.

“Well, even if us humans can’t do much, the Doctor definitely can. You chose the wrong person to possess, I’m telling you that now!” said Ryan.

“Your bodies would crumble under my power, I would melt your minds with my own thought. You are nothing compared to the power possessed by a Time Lord, and now by me,” said the Mara.

“You clearly don’t know humans like we do then,” said Yasmin.

“I know them better than you do, I’ve destroyed more of your kind than you’ve even met. I know what makes you tick, and what makes you die,” said the Mara.

Yasmin huffed and span around to face the two boys. Their eyes were trained on the Mara. Neither of them could believe their light, happy traveller had become, in a sense, a snake. Her red eyes hypnotised them all.

“Right, we need to do something. Any ideas? Maybe we can find something on the sonic that’ll…distract the Mara?” said Yasmin.

Graham opened his mouth to offer an idea, but Ryan interrupted him.

“Just stop trying to take charge Yaz,” said Ryan exasperated, “you’re not the Doctor.”

Yasmin huffed, “Well, she’s indisposed at the moment, isn’t she?”

“So, what puts you in charge after her? You ain’t our second in command,” argued Ryan.

“Oh, so you want it to be you instead do ya? Fat lot of use you’d be!” scoffed Yasmin.

“Guys, the Mara is messing with you…listen to yourselves,” warned Graham, uncomfortable as he witnessed their first fight since primary school.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” asked Ryan, ignoring Graham.

“What do you think? You can’t even stand on your own two feet, let alone keep us on ours!” yelled Yasmin.

“Oh yeah, and what’s a trainee policewoman got to offer? Are you going to give me a ticket? No, maybe a fine, that would really show me up,” Ryan yelled back.

“What would you do? I’d say throw a spanner at me, but we all know it’d end up on the other side of the room! You’d probably end up on the floor with it!” countered Yasmin.

Ryan turned on his heels, muttering something about not trusting cops, and disappeared down the corridor towards his bedroom. As soon as he left the room, Yasmin paled and her eyes softened. The Mara leaned back, watching her gleefully.

“Graham, I didn’t mean-”

“Yaz, it’s alright. I know you didn’t,” said Graham gently.

“Should I go and apologise?” she asked sheepishly.

“Nah, I’ll go and talk to him first. He just needs help cooling off, he’ll be fine afterwards. Always is,” said Graham.

Yasmin watched, shoulders slumped, as Graham chased after Ryan. She hadn’t meant to snap at him at all. It was like something made her do it, and she suspected that thing was the Mara. It unnerved her to see something so cruel, so angry in the form of her Doctor.

“Just you and me,” came a breathy voice.

“Well, that’s not really true, considering there’s three of us. Which one’s talking to me?” said Yasmin.

“You know who it is,” came a whisper.

Yasmin faltered for a moment. She’d forgotten all about her fight with Ryan, the look on Graham’s face, and the fear for the Doctor’s life. Now, she stared up at the Doctor, whose eyes still glowed red but somehow it looked more like the time lady than before.

“I don’t,” said Yasmin, crossing her arms.

“You have to trust me, Yaz. I need you to trust me, because I need your help. I-I was wrong, I can’t do this alone,” said the Doctor.

“Prove it,” said Yasmin, “prove to me you’re her.”

The Doctor-Mara, Yasmin still wasn’t sure which, paused for a moment. Yasmin could see her thinking, not breaking eye contact once. Eventually, she leaned forward to lose the gap between her and Yasmin.

“Yaz,” said the Doctor-Mara softly, “I know that you’re uncomfortable being around Graham and Ryan without me because you aren’t as close to your family as they are to each other, I know you became a police officer for the same reason I ran away, and I know the others pretend not to see how smart, funny and beautiful you are, but I can’t.”

“Can’t what?” said Yasmin, her voice cracking slightly.

“Can’t ignore it,” confirmed the Doctor-Mara.

Yasmin’s eyes widened and she stared. She wasn’t sure what she was feeling, but it was some sort of confusing combination of bewilderment, fear and excitement.

“What-Doc-”

“Don’t make me say it again, Yaz,” said the Doctor-Mara.

Yasmin sighed, “What can I do to help you?”

“I can’t do anything without my limbs. You don’t know how much you miss them ‘till they’re tied behind your back, you know? I can get rid of the Mara if I can sonic myself, but it needs a specific frequency that humans won’t be able to find. Can you do that for me Yaz?”

Yasmin didn’t know what had come over her, but the calming, trustful energy radiated from the Doctor’s body, hitting her like it was a perfume. She looked into the red eyes, now seeing familiar hazel, and knew she had to untie the Doctor to help her.

Her fingers found the knots they’d made in the rope and she wriggled them free. She unwound the rope carefully, noticing the raw, pained wrists underneath. She wanted to hold them, but she knew it was more important to help the Doctor with their more pressing problem.

The Doctor-Mara pulled her wrists free from the remaining rope, rubbing her wrists. She smirked coyly at Yasmin, which made the younger girl shiver.

She leaned in Yasmin’s ear, hot breath on her neck.

“What did I say? Humans,” spat the Doctor-Mara, “are pathetically easy to manipulate.”

Yasmin froze, looking up to find the Doctor-Mara’s eyes once again burning red.

“Doctor?” said Yasmin quietly.

The Doctor, or rather the Mara, didn’t respond, she just flicked her tongue and stood up to match Yasmin. She stepped forward, shoving Yasmin back by placing two rough hands on her shoulders. Yasmin yelped as her back collided with the buttons and levers of the TARDIS console. By the time she had straightened up, the pain subsiding, the Mara was rummaging wildly through the console room.

“W-what are you doing?” asked Yasmin with a gulp.

The Mara, as if the TARDIS was her own, found each hidden compartment and drawer in the room. She opened one compartment in the console and found the tools the Doctor used to fix the machine. She threw a hammer, a handful of buttons and a notepad over her shoulder, each narrowly missing Yasmin.

The Mara straightened up once she found what she had been looking for. She weighed up two items in each hand, throwing one in the pile behind her. It was a large pair of golden scissors that struck into the floor, making Yasmin winced. Her heart thudded faster when she realised whatever was left in the Mara’s hand was worse.

In her white-knuckled hand, she held a very human pocket knife. The Mara flicked it open and the blade shot out from the handle, a menacing gleam to the silver. Yasmin backed up, expecting to find the knife pointed to her. Instead, though, the knife was brought to the Mara, or rather the Doctor’s, neck. The tip was just deep enough to extract a drop of blood, like a warning. Yasmin tensed as the Mara marred her friend’s skin.

“Now,” began the Mara, “want to play a game Yasmin Khan?”

Chapter Text

“Put the knife down, Mara, you don’t need to do this,” said Yasmin, holding her hands up in a defensive gesture.

“You’re right, I won’t need to do this if you let me go,” said the Mara, still firmly holding the knife to her neck.

“We’ll let you go, Mara, easy. You can slither off back outside and we’ll never bother you again. But you have to let the Doctor go first.”

Yasmin had basic training on negotiation, even hostages, Hell, she’d been to too many Crisis Hostage Negotiation seminars, but nothing prepared her for handling a creature in possession of her friend’s body. Her mind raced as she wondered what she could use from her training, and if any of it even applied when you were on a planet millions of miles away from Earth.

“Interesting tactic, but I rather need a host body. Also, it’s much easier to hurt your friend from the inside. I can hear her screaming, but you can’t. It’s such a sweet sound,” hissed the Mara.

Yasmin bit her lip. She tried to tune out the Mara, but she couldn’t.

“You must want something. I mean, beside the body and the…torture. Otherwise you would’ve killed me already, right?” asked Yasmin.

The Mara smirked, “Clever girl. But it’s not something I want from you, specifically. I will make all of you realise that you’re better off dead than with the Doctor. And then, without you all, she will be vulnerable enough to destroy.”

“You realise explaining a plan never really works out?” said Yasmin.

“I was born from chaos, I fed on destruction, and I lived in the burning shadows of the sand. Telling you my plan will change nothing of the outcome,” hissed the Mara.

Yasmin took a deep, frightened breath. She opened her mouth, but the Mara silenced her by repositioning the knife. She twisted it in so Yasmin could see the tear she had made in the skin.

“Don’t,” said the Mara darkly.

But Yasmin ignored her and screamed, “Graham! Ryan!” at the top of her lungs.

“Shouldn’t have done that,” growled the Mara.

Yasmin whipped her head around to where she thought she heard Ryan and Graham in the distance. A small whimper made her turn back to face the Mara, in time to see her raise the pocket knife away from her neck and drive it down into her hand. Except, it wasn’t her hand, it was the Doctor’s. The Doctor’s small, pale hand that had grabbed Yasmin’s on so many adventures. Seeing the hand that she held stained with free-flowing blood made her hunch over, feeling dizzy.

“What did you do that for?” screamed Yasmin angrily, holding herself back from lunging towards the Mara.

“To distract you,” said the Mara.

The Mara pulled the knife from her hand, despite Yasmin’s desperate protest, and used her uninjured to pick up the rope that had been discarded to the floor earlier. Before Yasmin had time to react, the Mara wrapped a length of rope around Yasmin’s neck, holding her from behind. Yasmin let out a strangled cry.

The Mara’s hand was still bleeding, though it was beginning to slow, and the blood dripped from the rope onto Yasmin. She shuddered. Yasmin wondered what was going on internally, and it hurt her that the Doctor was in pain but she couldn’t see it.

“Alright Mara, take a step back from the girl right now or so help me God!” said Ryan as he skidded around the corner. Yasmin noticed he held a hammer threateningly in his hand.

“What the Hell did you do?” said Graham breathlessly to Yasmin as he appeared behind Ryan.

“Oh good,” said the Mara sarcastically, “everyone’s back together again.”

Yasmin reached up to ease the itch of the rope as it scratched up her neck. She clawed at it with her hands, but the Mara was stronger than her. Black seeped into the corners of her vision and she gasped.

“Doctor-” began Graham.

“It’s not the Doctor,” hissed the Mara.

“Doc,” said Graham, ignoring the Mara, “I know you’re in there. I know you’re in pain, and you don’t know what to do, but listen to me. Your hands are being used to hurt Yaz. No matter who’s in control of you, you’d never let that happen.”

The grip on Yasmin loosened slightly, but she still struggled to breathe.

“Yeah, that’s it. Fight through it mate,” encouraged Graham.

Almost immediately, all of the pressure on Yasmin was removed. The rope still hovered around her throat but she felt instant relief. More so because she knew the Doctor could still hear them.

“She’s weak,” hissed the Mara, “she used her power to stop me hurting a human, and now she’s weak. What a waste of a fight.”
“The Doc would never consider that a waste, it’s a reason to keep fighting,” argued Ryan.

The Mara stuck out her tongue and scrunched up her face, but the characteristically Doctor-ish act seemed so unfamiliar, “Oh blah, blah, blah.”

The Mara wound her finger around a strand of light blond hair, twirling it as she watched the three humans. Her other hand dropped the rope, letting it clatter to the ground. Yasmin heaved a breath and found herself being pulled by each arm away from the Mara. She found herself pressed between Ryan and Graham, both eager to keep her at a safe distance.

“The Doctor didn’t like our game, Yasmin,” said the Mara, eyes trained on the mark the rope had left on the companion’s skin.

“Yeah, well, neither did we so back off,” said Ryan, waving the hammer above his head.

“I’m not worried,” the Mara flicked her tongue, “after all, all of your friends believe you couldn’t even swing the hammer, let alone aim for me.”

Ryan bristled but Yasmin turned to face him, “You know I don’t think that’s true. You’ve proven to us all that you’ve got more skill than the lot of us combined.”

“Thanks, Yaz,” smiled Ryan.

The Mara sighed, “So boring. How about we liven things up, hm? I can sense that the Doctor is a mystery to you all, and she hides herself just as a snake in the sand. I want each of you to tell me the truth about the Doctor, whatever you can remember.”

“What kind of sick game is this?” asked Graham.

The Mara ignored him, “Ryan, you start.”

Ryan shrugged, “Easy, she’s a Time Lady.”

“Very good, now you Graham,” encouraged the Mara.

“Uh, she’s from a planet…called Gallifrey,” said Graham nervously.

“Correct. Now, Yaz, it’s your turn.”

Yasmin began to sweat. The Mara had honed in on what of her fears; she didn’t know much at all about the Doctor. She didn’t know about her people, or her adventures before them, or her life. She racked her brain.

“Oh! She has two hearts instead of one,” answered Yasmin, proudly.

“No. The correct answer was that the Doctor is a murderer,” growled the Mara.

“I thought you said truth,” said Yasmin, crossing her arms.

“You don’t believe me? Ask the Daleks, or the Cybermen, or the Zygons. Or, in fact, my own people. Doesn’t matter what you believe, anyway, because you got the question wrong and must now deal with the consequences of losing.”

Before they could ask what that was, the Mara retrieved the bloody knife that she had hidden in her pocket. She held it in the opposite hand to her injury, positioning it above the wound. The previous wound sat at the base of her palm but this time, the Mara buried it just beneath the base of the fingers. She carved an ‘M’, not too deep, but it would’ve likely scarred if the Doctor had human skin.

“What are you doing?!” shouted Graham.

“Oh, hush, it’s just a little something to remember who is in control. The winner should always be remembered,” said the Mara.

The Mara was distracted as she spoke to them, and she strangely seemed unaware of her twitching fingers, and her hand that shook with the effort.

The three companions tried not to stare as the Mara’s hand reached wildly for the psychic paper in her pocket. Yasmin was about to question what she was doing, but she realised that the Mara was doing it subconsciously, and that the Doctor was the one moving her hand.

“Mara!” shouted Yasmin to distract her, once she had started to look down.

“What, child,” she answered.

Yasmin waited for the Doctor to throw the psychic paper to Ryan before responding, “Er, how many of you are there?”

“Thanks to your Doctor, there are barely tens of us left. We were once magnificent and feared. Now, we’re nothing more than a myth or lost legend,” hissed the Mara.

“Shame, that,” quipped Graham.

Ryan walked over to Yasmin as subtly as he could and raised the paper to her eyes so that she could read it. In scribbled, childish handwriting, the Doctor had left them a message. He showed Graham, too, who looked on in confusion.

The message read: ‘Use reflection. Block her vision with mirrors. I can do the rest.’

“Simple, but effective. Where are we gonna find mirrors?” whispered Graham.

“There’s like one hundred bathrooms in this place. I’m sure we can find something, let’s go!” said Ryan.

“Wait, but what about the Mara? We can’t have her follow us,” said Yasmin.

“You stay here and keep her company, then. I trust you,” said Ryan, patting her back.

“That wasn’t a good idea last time,” said Yasmin miserably.

“If anyone can break through to the Doctor, it’s you Yaz. You know that’s true. Yell for us if you need help, okay?” said Graham.

Ryan and Graham sprinted away once Yasmin had nodded numbly at them. She turned to face the Mara, who had been watching the three of them whisper with boredom.

“Have you finished your team talk, then?” asked the Mara.

“I don’t want to talk to you. I want to talk to my friend. Fancy giving her a call and seeing if she’s in?” said Yasmin.

“She’s too busy crying. Or screaming. Or dying. I can’t tell, emotions are very so complicated.”

“What are you doing to her in there?” asked Yasmin with a shiver.

“You see, I take the form of whatever I am occupying. Your friend is timeless, she’s so vast, that I am poisoning every corner of her mind and body. I am corrupting her two hearts, her endless memories, and whatever else I can find. She’s on fire from the inside,” said the Mara.

“How long will she last, if you do that,” asked Yasmin, her voice almost inaudible.

“That’s the beauty of it, if it kills her, she’ll just regenerate. This torture will last for as long as I do,” explained the Mara.

“Just…just stop it!” shouted Yasmin.

“Or what?” smirked the Mara.

“Or I will kill you,” she hissed back.

“If you try,” threatened the Mara, “then I will kill your friend’s body until she runs out of regenerations and use your own instead.”

The two were interrupted by the stomping footsteps of Ryan and Graham. Both struggled through the door with mirrors of varying sizes. Ryan held up a small round one, Yasmin thought she recognised it from her own bathroom, to distract the Mara. The Mara recoiled and Ryan whooped with satisfaction.

“Quick Graham, full length mirror attack,” said Ryan.

Graham lunged into action, trapping the Mara in place with his large mirror facing her. Yasmin took one of the smaller mirrors and held it to one side of the full length mirror. Ryan did the same on the other side with his one.

“Stop…” hissed the Mara, as if the reflection was blinding her.

She struggled and kicked but the three companions held her in place so that she couldn’t escape. The Mara’s breathing shallowed and she leaned against the console in a panic. In the moment of weakness, the Mara’s hand once again fumbled around.

“Yaz…sonic,” came a breathy, weak voice from the Doctor’s body.

Yasmin, after nods from Ryan and Graham, threw the sonic into the Doctor’s hand. She pointed the sonic to her own neck, frantically switching settings, and switched it on. The screech that came from the Doctor’s body didn’t sound like either the time lady or the Mara. It made all of them wince and cover their ears until the noise subsided.

It was Yasmin’s turn to screech when the snake they had seen from the beginning of their adventure slithered out from the Doctor’s sleeve. She wondered how it had gotten there, until she realised what was happening. It had switched back to its true form once it had been expelled from the Doctor.

Yasmin raised her foot as if she was going to stand on it, but the snake writhed beneath her. It squeaked, rolled over, and then disintergrated into sand. It joined the sand that had been brought into the TARDIS from the planet. Yasmin, Ryan and Graham dropped their mirrors, careful that they didn’t shatter, and stared at each other in horrified relief.

The Doctor blinked rapidly and the red in her eyes faded back to a warm mixture of green and brown. The sharpness of her teeth had gone, and the dark circles under her eyes vanished. The Doctor’s mouth fell open, and she expelled a long, pained sigh before dropping to the ground.

“Doctor!” cried Yasmin.

The Doctor blinked awake, easing herself from the floor with the help of the others. She looked around in confusion before realising that she was safe.

Yasmin grabbed the Doctor’s shoulders to steady her. She breathed deeply, like she hadn’t been able to before.

The Doctor composed herself for a minute, and the others visibly relaxed, but her minute of calm was interrupted by a dramatic shudder. The shudder made her eyes roll back and her legs gave out, sending her collapsing to the floor. Yasmin reached out and caught her just in time. The time lady felt small in Yasmin’s arms considering the strength of the Mara.

“Woah, careful,” said Yasmin as the Doctor eyes fluttered open.

“Oh. Thanks, Yaz,” said the Doctor, her voice hoarse.

“Are you alright Doc?” asked Graham.

The Doctor was still in Yasmin’s arms, and the companion was carrying the majority of her weight. She leaned into Yasmin, not yet attempting to hold herself up.

“I’m fine. You know what it’s like when an infinite evil spirit creature decides to steal your body and crush you from the inside. Just a typical Wednesday,” said the Doctor.

“It’s Saturday,” said Ryan.

The Doctor shrugged distractedly. She looked down at her hand and froze slightly. The wounds in her hand were still bleeding, and blood had begun to seep to her fingertips. The Doctor winced as she watched the droplets of blood.

“What’s this then? Little goodbye present?” asked the Doctor.

“Didn’t you know it was happening?” asked Yasmin.

“Oh, no. I felt what she did, and sometimes I could hear or see, but not always. I did feel a horrible pain, I guess this was that,” the Doctor shrugged.

“I-I’m so sorry…the Mara was trying to negotiate with me, I shouted for help and she drove a knife into your hand. I should’ve known better, it’s completely my fault you got hurt,” said Yasmin, looking at her feet shamefully.

“It’s not your fault Yaz, besides, if you hadn’t untied me, I wouldn’t have been able to help myself now, would I?”

“Besides, the Mara was messing with us all. I’m really sorry about what happened,” said Ryan sheepishly.

The Doctor watched on, confused, as Yasmin apologized too and pulled him into a firm hug. She looked to Graham for answers, but he just shrugged at her, as if to say it wasn’t important.

“How did you do it, Doctor?” asked Ryan curiously.

“Well, the Mara can’t stand their own reflection. This one though is extremely strong so I figured a mirror wouldn’t do the trick. But you guys managed to weaken her long enough for me to take brief control. I projected the image of a mirror into my mind, let it take over all of my thoughts, and the Mara had no choice but to leave,” explained the Doctor proudly.

“Well, nicely done,” said Ryan.

Graham noticed the pained expression the Doctor wore, and the trauma Yasmin looked as though she was experiencing. Both looked as though they were exhausted and had seen some things they had wished they hadn’t.

“Do you ladies fancy some tea? Looks like you could both use it,” asked Graham.

“Oh yeah! I might need a straw though, can’t pick up a mug with one hand, I’m probably not steady enough yet,” said the Doctor with a pout.

“Come on, Ryan, I’ll make the tea, you go and find the Doctor a straw. And probably a bandage while you’re at it,” said Graham.

When the men had gone, Yasmin picked up the Doctor’s injured hand and held it gently, inspecting the injury. The Doctor’s breath hitched as she watched. Yasmin looked up with teary eyes.

“I’m so sorry,” she whispered.

“Nonsense, don’t be! You didn’t do anything wrong. How are you, anyway? I know you don’t like snakes, I’m sure meeting the Mara wasn’t exactly pleasant.”

Yasmin laughed, “You got possessed, and you’re asking me if I’m scared? I’m fine, really. But…there is something I want to talk to you about. We can save it for later if you’d rather…you probably want some rest.”

The Doctor’s head cocked to one side, “Ask away, Yaz.”

“When we were talking…was it always the Mara or did you…take over at any point?” asked Yasmin, scratching the back of her neck.

“I couldn’t take over completely at any point, but I managed to take back my arms at one point, I think. Why?” asked the Doctor.

Yasmin’s heart sunk briefly, “Oh, nothing. Doesn’t matter, really.”

The Doctor smiled her sad, polite smile and stepped closer to Yasmin. She cupped Yasmin’s face with her hands, forgetting about the blood. She blushed when she left a small smudge of it on Yasmin’s cheek, and wiped it away gently. The Doctor leaned into Yasmin’s ear, close enough that Yasmin struggled not to squirm.

“For the record,” she murmured, “I really do think you’re smart, funny and beautiful.”

With that, the Doctor brushed down her coat and made her way into the kitchen to help the men. Yasmin watched her saunter away, leaning her body against the TARDIS console. The TARDIS, in turn, hummed lightly, and Yasmin was convinced she was laughing at her.

Chapter Text

“Real life 1950s,” beamed Yasmin as she looked back to Ryan, “time travel is awesome!”

Ryan rolled his eyes at her as she skipped ahead of the Doctor, distracted by all the hats and fancy coloured dresses. He made eye contact with a woman in an ankle-length powder-blue dress and she quickly turned away with a flick of her styled hair.

His attention then found a couple who walked beside them. The man had his arm around the woman’s shoulder, and they chatted flirtatiously. Ryan saw one of the gloves in the woman’s hand fall to the ground and he leaned down to pick it up.

“Excuse me,” said Ryan as he picked up the neat white glove.

Neither of the couple acknowledged him so he jogged up to them, speaking louder in hopes that they would turn around.

“Excuse me,” he repeated as he walked up to the couple, placing his hand on the woman’s shoulder, “you dropped this.”

The woman cast her eyes down, her face upturned in disgust. The man’s reaction, however, was even stronger. He pushed the woman to one side and spun around, a hideous sneer on his face. He reached up, with seemingly all the strength he could muster, and slapped Ryan across the face.

The slap itself caused his face to sting, tingling from the impact even when the hand had been lowered. He was sure there was already a hand imprinted into his cheek, or at least a bruise had begun to form.

Ryan felt frozen in position, his face twisting angrily. He heard the panicked footsteps of the Doctor who whipped around to diffuse the situation. Her mouth hung open as she ran over to Ryan and the couple, tucking her sonic screwdriver away.

Ryan straightened himself up, just in time for Graham to wrap his arms around him to stop him from lunging forward. If it weren’t for Graham’s hold, Ryan probably would’ve given the man his own hand imprint, or maybe the print of his boot.

“Hey!” Ryan growled.

“Get your filthy black hands off my wife.” Snarled the man.

“Woah, stop,” said the Doctor, the shock still evident in her stern voice.

“Sir, please take a step back,” said Yasmin, with the same desperate struggle to hold back her own temper. She locked eyes with the man, challenging him.

“You okay, Ryan?” she asked.

“I was just trying to give her back her glove,” said Ryan, throwing the glove back onto the ground where he’d found it.

“I suggest,” said the man as he looked at Ryan, “that you tell your…sister to back off as well. I don’t hit women, unless they need to be put in their place.”

The Doctor’s hand tightened on Yasmin’s shoulder, though her anger seemed to have been replaced with fear. Ryan knew she’d been in situations like this as a policewoman, and he knew that she could tell when a threat was serious.

“What did you just say?” said Graham. In his surprise, his hold had loosened on Ryan.

“What was that?” said Ryan, stepping forward so that he was practically nose to nose with the man, which only made him angrier.

Another man came sprinting through the gathering crowd at the sound of the confrontation. His blazer and badge made it obvious to the travellers that the newcomer was some sort of policeman. Ryan’s heart began to race, and he knew the others shared his fear.

“What’s going on? Did you just attack this man?” asked the policeman to Ryan.

“What, no-” began Ryan.

The policeman stood in between Ryan and the man, holding his arms up to stop them both. He nodded respectfully at the man before turning to Graham, who held Ryan.

“Is this your boy?” asked the policeman.

“He’s my grandson, actually,” said Graham.

“Your what?” asked the man, his face drawn into a frown.

“My grandson,” repeated Graham, patting Ryan’s shoulder comfortingly.

“You ain’t from around here,” said the policeman, giving a curious look to each of the travellers. His eyes lingered on Graham and Ryan, as if he were confused by their relationship.

“We don’t want any trouble,” said the Doctor, her hands raised in defence, still standing close to Yasmin.

“I don’t know how it goes where you’re from, but your boy, he’ll be swinging from a tree with a noose for a neckerchief if he touches a white woman in Montgomery,” snarled the man.

A woman who had been stood behind the group pushed her way forward, “Is there a problem here, Mr Steele, Officer?”

She looked back to Ryan and Graham, ushering them backwards, “Step away. Go ahead, step away.”

“These friends of yours?” asked the policeman.

“No, sir,” answered the woman with a laugh, “just on my lunchbreak. Wondering if I can help out with any misunderstanding.”

She turned to Mr Steele, “Oh, I believe your suit will be ready tomorrow. The alterations are going to make it look just right, sir.”

“Thank you, Mrs Parks,” said Mr Steele as he placed his hat back onto his head, “Let’s go, Lizzie.”

“Wait, hang on, Parks?” asked Yasmin, the discomfort in her eyes momentarily being replaced by excitement.

The woman nodded, slightly confused, “Yes. Rosa, Rosa Parks.”

“No way!” grinned Yasmin.

Rosa tilted her head in surprise at the younger woman’s joy. She looked around between each of the strangers, who had the same awed, fascinated expression.

“You’re kidding,” said Graham.

“Brilliant! Rosa Parks! Lovely to meet you, Rosa Parks, big fan!” breathed the Doctor.

“Excuse me?” said Rosa.

“Big fan…of Montgomery,” said the Doctor, sheepishly.

“I think it’s time you explain why you’re all here,” asked the policeman, who had been watching their interaction with a bemused expression.

“I am…we are just visiting,” explained the Doctor.

“You’ve certainly gotten yourself into plenty of trouble for some visitors. Speaking of, boy, I need your name,” said the policeman, bringing a pen and notepad from his pocket.

The policeman eyed Ryan up and down; his expression mirroring the poorly hidden disdain that had been worn by Mr Steele’s wife. He narrowed his eyes worriedly each time Ryan moved, which was often as he shifted uncomfortably.

“Uh, Sinclair. Ryan. Why?” asked Ryan.

“I need to take you down to the station, there’s a holding cell waitin’. You have caused a public disturbance, and there may be charges of assault,” said the policeman.

The Doctor began to argue as gently as she could, pushing forward so that the policeman’s attention was put onto her instead of Ryan. The policeman pushed her back, and she stumbled into Yasmin.

“Sir, keep calm, we can talk about this-” tried the Doctor.

“That’s ridiculous! He was the one who got attacked!” said Yasmin, outraged.

“Be quiet, missy, or we’ll take you down too for threatening an Officer,” threatened the policeman.

“It’s alright, Yaz, it’s fine,” said Ryan.

“Let me go with the boy, sir. I can keep him in line until this misunderstanding has been dealt with,” said Graham, through gritted teeth.

“And myself, sir. I will keep them both actin’ in the laws of Montgomery,” added Rosa.

“Whatever,” said the policeman, “just hurry up.”

The policeman placed rough hands on Ryan’s shoulders, shoving him away from his friends. Yasmin and the Doctor watched on as the policeman forced Ryan into handcuffs, leading him towards the black-and-white Chevy Bel Air car that was parked at the bottom of the street.

Graham was instructed to sit at the front of the car, which made him visibly uncomfortable, while Rosa and Ryan were left in the back. Ryan squirmed in his seat, handcuffed hands in front of him. Rosa sat with her hands in her lap, staring out of the window.

“I trust you’ll have me returned to my workplace before my lunch hour is up, sir?” asked Rosa, readjusting her handbag.

“You’re the one who chose to come,” shrugged the policeman.

“It’s fine, there’s always the bus,” sighed Rosa.

Ryan nearly chocked and turned away to face his window. Graham caught his expression in the reflection and held back a smile. The smile didn’t last long though. Graham knew how terrified Ryan was, Graham had been told the stories of how young black men get treated by the police through Grace years ago. Even Yasmin hadn’t disputed anything, though both Ryan and Grace made sure she hadn’t taken anything personally.

“Rosa-” began Ryan.

“Boy, where were you raised? You are definitely missin’ quite a few manners. I’ll take a ma’am, thank you.”

Ryan rolled his eyes, “Rosa, ma’am?”

“Much better sir,” said Rosa, turning her body to face him properly.

“I haven’t really been arrested before. Is…is this gonna end badly for me?” he asked, quiet enough that Graham wouldn’t hear.

Rosa’s expression softened, “You must read the newspapers. You know what they did to young Emmett Till. He was on vacation from the north, couple of words to a white woman in Mississippi, and the next thing, they find his body in a river. He didn’t even bad mouth the white man, neither.”

Ryan gulped, “So, that’s a yes then…ma’am?”

“Not if you’re quiet, and you’re careful,” reassured Rosa gently.

“Yeah…that isn’t how it usually goes down in stories though, is it? I mean, ‘black man talks to white woman but he was nice so we let him go’ doesn’t have the same ring to it,” scoffed Ryan.

Rosa swatted him on the arm, “Being clever ain’t gonna help no one.”

“Quiet back there! Do not make me stop here and drag you all the way back to the station by your legs,” bellowed the policeman.

Rosa glared at Ryan as if he were a friend getting her in trouble with her parents. She turned to face the window and, for a moment, Ryan thought he could see her mouthing a prayer in the reflection of the window.

Eventually, the police car slowed to a stop outside a rectangular red brick building. Pairs of arched windows lined the entirety of the building walls. The car parked beneath a tall telegraph pole and Ryan waited for the policeman to get out and free him and Rosa.

Graham waited awkwardly for the policeman to pull Ryan out by the handcuffs. He began to march Ryan towards the large door opposite them, forgetting about the other two that were behind them. Graham walked around the car and opened the door for Rosa.

“Thank you, sir,” she answered, dipping her head.

Graham followed as Rosa stormed off towards the police station. Graham wondered what Grace would say if she saw him chasing after Rosa Parks, who was protecting Ryan from the 1950s police. He watched Ryan bite his tongue to prevent speaking out when the policeman pushed him roughly through the door, Rosa in tow. Graham shook his head and decided Grace wouldn’t say anything, she’d just smack him for being so careless.

He jogged to catch up with the others and felt as though he was stepping into another world. Ryan thought the same as he took in the, what he called, pretty tacky interior. He couldn’t focus on the green carpet when he saw four policemen looking up to greet him with expressions varying from disgust and nervousness. They all definitely looked angry though, and Ryan knew they definitely weren’t Yasmin-style cops. For one thing, they were all white.

“Who’s the boy?” asked the policeman closest to them all.

The policeman who had brought him in pushed him forward, rattling the handcuffs as if trying to show off his arrest.

“Name’s Sinclair; caught him harassing a lady and threatening good citizens,” said the policeman.

“Now, sir, that’s not exactly how it went down,” said Graham, though he was quickly shushed by the second policeman.

“We can’t have your kind messing up the streets now, can we? Take his details and put him in a holding cell, we’ll have to see if Mr Steele wants to press charges,” said the policeman who held Ryan.

“He didn’t do anything wrong!” said Graham.

“Right, that’s enough out of you. I only let you accompany the boy here so we could talk to someone with sense, but if you’d like to bring an attitude then you can wait for him to be released elsewhere,” said the policeman to Graham.

“Good sir, I don’t think that’s fair,” argued Rosa.

“Mrs Parks, my wife loves your work, but I will throw you out as well if I hear another word from you. Would you like to join this gentleman?” asked the policeman.

Rosa shook her head with a gentle, “No, sir,” as Graham was escorted out of the station.

“Graham!” Ryan called helplessly after him.

“Let him go,” mumbled Rosa from his side.

He watched Graham fight against the policeman who ushered him away but found that he stayed outside once the officer had come back inside. Ryan hoped he’d be smart enough to go back and find Yasmin and the Doctor, instead of trying to hatch a scheme that will only end with Graham in the cell next to Ryan.

“Mrs Parks, we cannot allow you into the holding cells. You’ll have to wait here by reception,” said the policeman.

Rosa nodded in compliance, watching as Ryan reluctantly filled out his details. Ryan struggled when they asked his date of birth, knowing that writing God-knows how many years in the future on a police report wouldn’t go down well.

“Alright, follow me,” said the first policeman, holding Ryan’s forearm.

Ryan shot one last look to Rosa, who gave him an encouraging nod, before he was led through a locked door with bars on the window. It wasn’t what he expected on the other side of the door; just two cells built into a cold, dull brick room. He squinted but was relieved to find that the cells were empty.

“I just don’t understand you folk,” said the policeman as he led Ryan into the holding cell.

“I could say the same, arresting someone for trying to return a glove,” said Ryan with a roll of his eyes.

“Did I ask you to speak?” said the policeman, a rough hand on Ryan.

Ryan bristled and furiously pulled his arm out of the policeman’s tight hold, “Don’t touch me.”

His tone, or his movements, turned out to be the excuse that the policeman was waiting for. He roughly pushed Ryan against the bars of the cell so his back and head collided with the metal poles. He winced at the pain but had no time to recover as he was pushed once again, this time onto the floor of cell.

“Don’t you dare speak to me like that!” he bellowed.

Suddenly, Rosa came running through the door, a policeman following closely behind her. Her expression was grave when she saw Ryan on the ground, rubbing his injuries with a scowl.

“What in God’s name is going on in here?” she asked with a gasp.

“I tried to keep her out,” shrugged the policeman who had come in with her.

“Parks, you need to leave now. Get out of our station, or we’ll force you out,” growled the policeman with Ryan.

Rosa huffed and stormed out of the door, and then through the door Graham had been kicked out from. Ryan felt a sense of dread as his second self-proclaimed protector had left him alone.

“What did he do?” asked the policeman who had been with Rosa.

The first policeman tutted, “Disorderly behaviour, verbal abuse, assaulting an Officer of the law. Typical.”

“Do we need to teach this one a lesson too?” asked the other policeman.

The policeman who, at this point, Ryan was getting quite well aquainted with, smiled a toothy, sinister smile. He didn’t once take his eyes off Ryan, and Ryan imagined it was because he enjoyed looming over him. Ryan felt another rush of anger as he thought about how smug both of the men were.

“I think it’s only right. Can’t have a young man leave us without learning a lesson,” agreed the policeman.

The next thing Ryan knew, he was being held up by the collar of his jacket, only able to stand on his tip-toes, as the first policeman grabbed him. He struggled in the other man’s grasp but he was in no position to fight. He almost preferred his treatment beforehand when he compared it to what happened next.

One policeman’s pale, hairy fist was slammed into his face, making his cheek tremble and sting in pain. It had already been attacked earlier that day, by the charming Mr Steele, and Ryan was still feeling the effects of that. The second policeman’s fist came into violent contact with Ryan’s stomach, causing him to hunch over with a grunt.

Even more painful, he found his stomach was targeted once again, but this time with the large black boot of the officer. Pain blossomed like it never had before.

“Please, stop,” he mumbled.

“What was that?” asked the first policeman with a sneer.

His pleads were punished by get another punch, this time to the chest, and a slap across the face. It was so powerful it had sent his head from one side to the other, blurring the cell in front of him. He saw stars in his vision long after the fists and feet came towards him.

The last cruel act, and definitely the worst, was when Ryan’s face was grabbed by the policeman. His thumb pushed into his cheekbone and his pinkie-finger onto the other. Before Ryan could figure out what he was doing, a force came from behind the hand and sent him flying into the wall. His head again hit the wall but then the man swung him around so that his forehead thudded against the wall with sickening force.

The two policemen left him to crawl onto the ground. He was too scared and in too much pain to even think about standing up, or about the two men who still posed threats. They had given up after a while though, once the blood and bruises had started to appear, as if that meant they couldn’t be blamed. Ryan assumed there was no one left in the station to care, though.

Bruised and broken, he curled up on the dirty ground, resting his head against the wall that was stained boldly with spots of his blood. He noticed his head was bleeding in two places, and his lip had been split open. The metallic taste in his mouth was sickening, but he tried hard to ignore it as he got as comfortable as he could.

He didn’t think he’d fallen asleep, but he did think he was dreaming when he opened his eyes and found Rosa Parks crouched down on the other side of his cell, extremely close to his face. Her gentle hand had reached through the bars and was stroking his face in a soft attempt to wake him up.

‘’M dreaming right?” asked Ryan when Rosa jumped to her feet to allow the policeman to open up his cell.

“No boy, but I wish I were. What, dare I ask, did he do to deserve this?” spat Rosa.

The policeman shrugged, “He was getting too bold, had to take him down a peg. You wouldn’t understand, women don’t work with criminals.”

The key in the lock of the cell twisted and the door swung open. Ryan scrambled to his feet, but he was incredibly unstable, even for him, and couldn’t find his footing. The policeman made no effort to help but Rosa offered him her arm for support.

They reached the reception, and the pair received even more strange looks than usual because of the state of Ryan.

“I take it,” seethed Rosa, “that Mr Steele didn’t press any charges?”

The policeman escorting them out shook his head, “He decided to give y’all the benefit of the doubt. I bet he’d just had enough of dealing with your lot for one day. I don’t blame him, neither.”

“I will report this,” threatened Rosa, though she knew it was empty as no one would fight their cause, other than them.

“Come on Ryan, we’ve got a car waiting. Lucky thing to, it’s not like you can walk anywhere,” said Rosa as she led him along a dirt path to a small blue car.

Rosa helped Ryan into the backseat, where his head immediately lolled onto the window. He looked on the verge of passing out, but his eyes remained open. Rosa took her seat in the passenger side, directing the driver to take him back to her house.

“Who’s driving the getaway car?” Ryan mumbled once he had gotten comfortable in the back seat.

He heard a deep chuckle from the driver, followed by a sigh from Rosa, “They knocked him around a bit. Bang to the head too, if that bruise is anythin’ to go by. Ryan, this is Doctor King.”

“Woah, like Martin Luther King?” asked Ryan.

“You heard of me then?” asked Martin.

“Oh, yeah, kinda,” replied Ryan, sinking in awe into his seat.

“That’s always nice. I’m sorry for what happened to you in there, son. It’s a harsh lesson to learn so young, and a tough one to live past too,” said Martin.

“I’m just glad I got out of there. Now I need to find my friends. I wonder where Graham went?” said Ryan.

“You’re coming to my place first, I need to take a look at you. You’re bleeding all over the poor Doctor’s seats, least we can do is clean you up before you ruin mine too,” argued Rosa.

Ryan drifted off for the remainder of the journey and was shook awake by Martin Luther King once they’d stopped. Ryan’s eyes opened wide when he saw the man. He was definitely grateful for the kinder face, too. Martin helped him out of the car and helped him limp over to Rosa’s front door, which she was already opening.

“Doc, you’ll get Ryan a cloth and an icepack, won’t you?” said Rosa as she sat Ryan down in one of her chairs.

“Of course,” said Martin, shuffling around the kitchen for anything that would ease Ryan’s pain.

Ryan had started to see double of both historical figures who were tending to him, and they didn’t come back into focus until Rosa had pressed a glass of water in his hand and an icepack to his bleeding head. He sighed in contempt at the numb relief.

“You feelin’ any better?” asked Martin when he had sat down in the chair opposite.

“Yeah, a little,” said Ryan.

He did feel better, but the pain in his stomach had become hard to breathe through, and his face stung worse than ever before. Ryan had gotten into fights all through school, but he had never come out of one this bad, or this shaken up.

Rosa gently took a wet cloth and dabbed at the dried blood on his lip and under his nose. He shuddered at the bloody water she squeezed out into a bowl. She wiped his face like she was his mother, which made him only slightly flustered, but left him alone when the blood had been washed away.

She walked back over to him with a fresh glass of water a few minutes later easing up on her lectures about manners when she saw how he was still shaking.

“The Doc managed to get a hold of your friends, they should be by soon. Why don’t you wait for them?” said Rosa, handing him a fresh cloth to replace the old one that was soaking up blood on his forehead.

Ryan, wobbling, left his seat and went to lean against a windowsill onto the main road. He stared out of Rosa’s window, seeing the people in the distance walk hand in hand, chattering mindlessly. The man tipped his hat to someone who passed them, greeting them cheerfully. Ryan sighed as he watched. He knew the difference, he knew why they weren’t scared to be loud, or friendly.

Rosa approached next to him, brushing down her dress, “You know they’ll never think we’re much of anything, right?”

Ryan’s eyes drifted from the people outside to another group. Two women and a man sprinted towards Rosa’s house, all breathing heavily as they made their way towards him. They received a few questioning glances, largely because of the woman who differed from the other two. Ryan felt the same bubble of anger that he had before. They spotted him in the window and shouted his name, relief and joy evident on each face.

“Not all of them,” Ryan smiled fondly as the group of three knocked obnoxiously at the door. Rose excused herself and reached for the handle, though the group were already half way through the door by then.

Ryan was immediately ambushed by one hug after another. Yasmin pulled him into a hug, resting her head on his chest, then the Doctor who wrapped both arms around his neck, and then Graham who gently held the back of his head and patted his shoulder comfortingly.

“Are you okay? Oh my god, Mr King-oh yeah! We need to talk about that later, anyway- he said you’d been hurt pretty bad. It looks bad, I can’t believe we let you go with them!” rambled Yasmin.

“Stop worrying, dork, I’m okay. Been nursed back to health by Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, try and beat that,” said Ryan smugly.

“We need to get you checked out in the TARDIS as soon as possible. Also, I am going to get those brutes shut down immediately,” seethed the Doctor.

“That’s one of hundreds, Doc, you can’t shut them all down. Earth can be a piece of work sometimes,” said Graham, though he looked just as furious as their alien friend.

They hadn’t realised that Rosa had been listening in, but she seemed more interested in Ryan’s welfare than the ramblings of time travellers. She didn’t question their conversation, but instead turned to them with a stern expression.

“I take it you all are gonna get out of Montgomery now?” asked Rosa.

“I think it’s about time,” said the Doctor.

“And you’ll take care of Ryan, won’t you?” she asked, her voice softer than the others had heard before.

“You like him, don’t ya?” asked Yasmin with a small smile.

“Less of that,” said Rosa, swatting at Yasmin.

The Doctor waited until Rosa stepped away from Ryan to scan him. He’d sat down again in the chair when his legs had gotten unsteady. She took out the sonic screwdriver and ran it from his feet to his head, ignoring the bewildered look from Martin.

“He’s got a concussion, and he’s going to need way more ice for the bruises. There’s no internal bleeding though, which is brilliant. It’ll take a while for you to heal, but really there’s not much to worry about, when we get the pain sorted,” assessed the Doctor.

“Stop waving that thing in my face, hurts my eyes,” complained Ryan.

“Sorry,” said the Doctor sheepishly.

“What is that thing? And how do you know all that?” asked Martin as he peered over the Doctor’s shoulder.

“I’m a Doctor too, you know. Yes, women can be doctors, which quite frankly is something I shouldn’t have to explain to people.”

“No complaints from me girl,” shrugged Martin, though still wondering what the sonic was.

The Doctor turned her attention to Ryan when he hunched over with a groan. The Doctor had detected a headache, and she assumed it had gotten worse. Her lips straightened into a firm line when she watched him worriedly.

“Can you walk, Ryan?” asked the Doctor.

“Honestly, I’m seeing like three of each of you right now. There’s three Doctors running round like in them cartoons,” grumbled Ryan.

“Right, that’s a no then,” said Graham.

“Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, would either of you mind helping us carry our friend back to our time machine?” asked the Doctor.

The faces of both Rosa and Martin made Yasmin and Graham burst out laughing, and the Doctor looked at them both innocently. Ryan grinned from where he had made himself comfortable on Rosa’s chair.

“I beg your pardon?” asked Rosa.

“Never mind,” shrugged Graham, “we’ve got it.”

Chapter Text

“Hey, you can just let us go…harm done…can’t you see we don’t want to hurt anyone…please….”

The voice came through Yasmin’s head with a piercing volume, though she was sure it was only spoken in a quiet voice. The words were scrambled but she picked up parts of whatever conversation was going on around her. It drummed into her head before she’d even become aware that she was waking up.

She tried to sit up before opening her eyes, but the pain in her head became too much and she found that the back of her head once again collided with the cold ground beneath her. A groan escaped her lips, alerting whoever else was in the room that she was fighting for consciousness.

Yasmin felt a freezing hand on her cheek and her eyes flew open, ready to come face to face with whatever trouble was looming over her. She saw a figure above her, slightly relieved to find the figure looked human.

“It’s okay, you’re alright. Just go slow, Yaz,” the figure soothed.

The voice matched the one she had heard earlier, but it took for her vision to finally clear and stop swimming for her to realise that it was Graham above her.

“Graham?” she asked to confirm, her eyes fluttering up to meet Graham’s.

“Yeah, that’s the ticket. How are you feeling?” asked Graham, his eyes soft and sympathetic.

“Awful. I feel like someone ran me over. Also, like I really, really need to be sick but my body’s forgotten how to move,” complained Yasmin.

“I get that from looking at ya,” winced Graham.

“How come you don’t look bad? You look well rested if anything, and that definitely isn’t fair,” said Yasmin.

Graham placed his hand on Yasmin’s back and eased her up. She winced at the movement but was grateful for the help. Her head leaned against the concrete wall of the room they were trapped inside. She eased her breathing, which had sped up as she moved, and turned once again to look at Graham.

“I guess you don’t remember but I wasn’t the one who decided it would be a good idea to scream in the face of an alien king. Which would be offensive on Earth, let alone Kavolaios. Doc said you basically gave him the finger,” said Graham.

“Yeah…I blacked out pretty quickly after that. So how come we’re here, and where is here?” asked Yasmin.

“Kavolaios dungeons. The King’s guards came running and zapped you with some kinda gun, would say it was sonic if I knew any better. It definitely messed you up though, you-you let out a horrible noise and it knocked you out straight after. I came running to help when the Doc said not to move, so I ended up getting marched along with you.”

Yasmin pouted, “I’m sorry you got dragged along too, then.”

Graham smiled, “Nah, means I get to keep you company. That, and I get a copper to protect me. So really, I should be thanking you.”

Yasmin wasn’t a child; she knew Graham was just trying to make her feel better. Still, his warm jokes did distract her from the pain, and the fear that was slowly setting in, so she was grateful.

When silence had set in, Yasmin had begun to feel the cold of the room. It was entirely made of concrete, or whatever the alien equivalent was, which had removed any warmth from the room and Yasmin definitely wasn’t dressed for the cold. There wasn’t even a window to provide any sunlight, Yasmin noticed, as she folded her arms and began to shiver.

“Here, Yaz, take this,” said Graham, wriggling out of his jumper.

It was the classic V-neck, knitted jumper they had come to expect from Graham. This one was a deep burgundy and Ryan had told Yasmin that he wore them because Grace loved them. This jumper in particular had been a Christmas present from her.

“No, I can’t Graham, you’ll freeze!” protested Yasmin.

“I’ve got sleeves, you don’t. Which means you need it more than I do. Just take it,” argued Graham, throwing it into her lap.

“Thanks. You don’t have to look after me, you know,” said Yasmin as she pulled the jumper over her head.

“Course I do, you’re family now,” shrugged Graham.

Yasmin smiled at Graham softly, tugging at the sleeves of the jumper so that they covered her cold hands. When she visibly relaxed, Graham did too. He had a habit of trying to protect her, though it usually ended up the other way round. He was happy to return the favour whenever he could.

“I really am sorry,” sighed Yasmin, seeing how uncomfortable Graham looked.

“Oh, be quiet. Just another adventure, innit?” grinned Graham.

Yasmin laughed fondly, wondering if being locked in an alien dungeon was really any different to being locked in a terrible Earth prison. She concluded that it was, in fact, different when she saw an alien approach the other side of their cell.

“Look alive, we’ve got company,” grumbled Graham.

Yasmin sat up straight when the alien unlocked the cell door. Her head was still fuzzy and she took a deep breath before making eye contact with the alien, who was already looking at her with repulse.

The Kavolaion stepped into the room, letting the door of the cell squeak open painfully slow. He shut it behind him, trapping both Graham and Yasmin inside with the angry alien. Yasmin eyed the two guns either side of his silver belt, threatening enough without being held towards them.

“The king wants the girl,” the alien announced, gesturing to where Yasmin sat.

“Well, he can’t have her,” said Graham, sticking his arm out in front of her, “so you better tell him to back off.”

“It is Kavolaios law that prisoners must be taken to punishment when the King demands it. He has chosen her punishment,” announced the alien.

“Like I said, she’s not being punished. Well, being in here is punishment enough, so how about you take us back to the King’s quarters and we can talk about this misunderstanding up there?” said Graham.

“The King’s orders are not to be ignored. We will punish you first, it is of no consequence,” said the Kavolaios.

“No, no, no! You’re not having Graham either! If you want to take me then fine, but you leave him. He hasn’t done anything wrong, it’s me who upset your king,” said Yasmin from behind Graham’s protective arms.

“This,” seethed the alien, “is taking too long.”

He brought his wrist up to his face and muttered something into a device on his arm. The door that the alien had locked behind them. Graham and Yasmin turned in fear to see two more Kavolaions storm in and stand either side of the alien they had been talking to.

“Grab the male human,” said the one they had first met, “deal with him first.”

Yasmin screamed when clawed hands reached down and grabbed both of his arms. He hissed when the claws dug into his skin and lifted him off the ground. She shouted as he was brought towards the door and away from her.

“Let him go!” she yelled, her hands hitting the bars of her cell as if she’d be able to knock them down.

He shot her an apologetic look as he was carried away down the concrete floor, heels scraping the ground. She called his name, but her voice was lost in the echoes of the prison. Her fingers stung as they hit and scratched at the cell in frustration.

“Quiet,” barked the Kavolaion she was left with, who stood on the other side of her cell.

“What are you doing to him?” asked Yasmin desperately, face to face with the alien through the bars.

“The same fate that will befall you. He will be sent to the Chambers to be executed, and you will follow him.”

Yasmin gasped, “Don’t you dare! Let me out now! Graham!”

“Silence!” bellowed the alien, his voice holding enough fury that it made Yasmin step back until she hit the wall of the cell.

“He didn’t do anything wrong,” whimpered Yasmin, quietly, as if that would make a difference.

The alien paced around her cell for what seemed like an hour, waiting to tell her news of Graham. She turned to face the wall so she didn’t have to see the smug look on the Kavolaion’s face.

The device on the Kavolaion’s wrist beeped three times and Yasmin craned her neck to see what was happening. The alien brought the device to his ear so he could hear the voice that was coming through it. It was too muffled for Yasmin to understand, but the smirk on the Kavolaion’s face made her heart stop beating.

“It is done. He has been punished,” said the Kavolaion, not sparing Yasmin a second glance before walking away towards the Chambers to see the damage they had done.

Yasmin waited until the alien had disappeared before she sank down the wall and hugged her knees on the cold, dirty floor. It was all her fault. If she hadn’t been caught off guard, Graham would still be with her. She’d seen enough aliens to know that when one looked different, she shouldn’t scream in their face. She was judgemental, stupid, and now it had cost Graham his life.

The numbness crept in quickly, a defence from the overwhelming grief that had set in, pressing down on her chest and her heart hard enough to suffocate her.

“I’m sorry,” she whispered, though she knew no one could hear her.

She felt the tears come quickly but she didn’t feel the need to hide from the taunts from the Kavolaion guards who’d inevitably come back to check on her. She buried her head down so that her knees hid the tears she couldn’t stop from spilling. Light tears falling down her cheeks turned to choked sobs as she wondered what she was supposed to tell the Doctor, and even worse Ryan, if she ever saw them again.

She didn’t hear the faint footsteps approach until they stomped up to the cell bars. She didn’t look up, knowing that the feet wouldn’t belong to the Doctor, or Ryan, or Graham. They stopped in front of her cell.

“Girl,” came the voice that followed the footsteps.

“I am not in the mood to deal with you right now,” said Yasmin, raising her head to look at the Kavolaion.

“Your emotions are not a problem. You will not resist, it is your turn to come to the Chambers,” said the Kavolaion.

Yasmin sighed, “It’s probably what the others would want now, anyway. Just get on with it, please.”

The Kavolaion unlocked the cell door and stepped through. It didn’t take two of them to carry Yasmin away, like it did Graham. She barely made a noise as she felt the claws rip her skin as they grabbed her arm, or when the Kavolaion dragged her violently from the cell.

She was dragged down the corridor where other cells were lined up in a row. Only one was occupied by an older Kavolaion who had given up pacing long ago. He gave her a pitying glance as she passed him. He knew where she was going.

The Chambers were grander than Yasmin had expected, and definitely would’ve been a welcome change from the dungeons, if she hadn’t known what the room was for. She was walked through a heavy white door that stood in between two marble pillars. Ironically, she found that it reminded her of Heaven. She thought, with a heavy guilty heart, that Heaven would be the last place she ended up.

The door opened for them, and Yasmin struggled to breathe when she saw what was inside. The whole room was made of the same white marble, except it was laid out like a theatre. Yasmin made eye contact with the King, who sat smugly in the tallest chair, which was more of a throne. Kavolaion’s gathered around him in other seats, as if waiting to watch a sport.

She was dragged forward with a pull of force from the Kavolaion who held her, and she gave a grunt of protest. Yasmin didn’t really have the energy to complain much, but the claws dug in further and it stung.

“Yaz! Yaz!”

Yasmin looked up towards the seats when she heard her name. For a moment, she hoped it would be Graham, but he was nowhere to be seen. Instead, she saw the Doctor and Ryan sitting to the right of the King.

Their arms were bound behind them to the chairs and their heads were strapped back to it as well. The Doctor was trying not to look at her but Ryan was desperately trying to get her attention. She looked up slowly at them. Yasmin realised that they’d probably, not long ago, watched Graham… in her position. Their grave expressions told her she was right.

“I’m sorry,” she mouthed to Ryan. She could see he was crying, but he didn’t shout anything back. Yasmin wondered if he would ever forgive her for being the reason Graham had died.

“Human girl,” boomed the King, “you stand here in the Chambers of Judgement for Treason and offenses against our planet. Your punishment, like the human before you, will be execution.”

“You don’t need to do this!” cried the Doctor, struggling wildly in her chair.

The pleas of her friends went ignored as the King summoned something in a language Yasmin didn’t understand. A second door opened and Yasmin spun around to see what awaited her. Another Kavolaion, one Yasmin recognised as a guard, brought out what the rest of them had been waiting for.

It was a cube that looked like it was made of glass, though one wall was raised like a door. It looked like what Yasmin’s family used to trap mice, though less humane and no holes to breathe. It was placed on a rectangular stand, raised slightly from the ground, so that everyone could see it.

“Kavolaion civilisation are executed as a private affair, but a human philistine is not offered the same dignity. Your breath will be taken from you, slowly. And when you can no longer struggle, you will be sent to the graves with your friend,” said the King.

“No, stop, please!” shouted the Doctor and Ryan, still unable to free themselves.

Yasmin was picked up from the ground this time, her feet an inch off the ground. She struggled in the arms of the alien who threw her into the open door of the strange cube. It was just large enough for her to sit up, but her legs had already started to cramp up. She figured that would be the least of her issues when the cube door was sealed.

She kicked out with her feet, hoping to shatter the box she was now trapped in, but nothing changed. Yasmin grew increasingly conscious that she was kicking and screaming in a transparent box like it was a performance. One in front of her best friends, and a kingdom of enemies.

Yasmin’s breath hitched, and it was a reminder that she didn’t have much time left to breathe. Her wild eyes searched out the Doctor and Ryan, who hadn’t stopped trying to squirm free of their bounds. They knew she’d die without them.

“Just let her go! We’ll never come back to your planet. I promise, we’ll never disturb you again,” said the Doctor as she tried to reason, though her voice was muffled.

Yasmin’s breathing sped up as she panicked, and she struggled to slow it down. She wondered how much oxygen there was left to preserve. Her throat became dry and she coughed violently when it tickled. The noise brought everyone’s attention, like it was the first sign of her death. She heard the King telling her friends to shut up but the building headache distracted her.

After several minutes, the room had fallen silent as everyone watched her. She tried to sit cross-legged for a minute, then she laid on her back but worried that she’d fall asleep too soon. In the end, she resorted to hugging her knees, stomping her feet on the ground whenever she got a cramp.

She rested her head on the glass, the material cold on her cheek, but refused to close her eyes. Her eyes focused in and out until eventually they landed on her friends.

“Doctor? Ryan?” she said, her voice barely audible.

She realised that they couldn’t hear her. They’d stopped struggling. Both Ryan and the Doctor refused to take their eyes off the box. They looked almost paralyzed, ignoring gleeful shouts and taunts from the rest of the audience. Yasmin wondered if they’d given up.

She thought for a moment that the Doctor had spoken to her when their eyes had locked, but her friends blurred into nothingness when she struggled for breath, along with the King and the rest of the room. Yasmin caught her breath back quickly, but a wheezing choke made her worry about what would happen if she couldn’t catch it next time.

Yasmin was brought from her daze by noise outside of the box. She heard alien voices, surprisingly loud, and heavy purposeful footsteps. She saw a blurred figure approach the box, and her heart sped up as she wondered if it was a Kavolaion coming to speed up the process. At least this would all be over quicker.

She blinked rapidly, hoping that she could see the person who was about to kill her. The least she could do was make the Kavolaions feel guilty, if they were capable of that.

Yasmin’s vision cleared in time for the blurry figure to reveal himself. She wondered if she was hallucinating when the figure dropped to his knees and reached his hand up to the glass. She felt a lump in her throat when she reached up her own hand and realised that he was definitely real.

“Graham?” said Yasmin, her voice cracking.

“You better believe it,” smiled Graham, “I’m so glad you’re okay.”

“You’re not real,” said Yasmin firmly.

Truthfully, she’d begun to see things a while go. The room around her had started to spin and she found the colours of the room dancing like she was in a kelidoscope. Yasmin supposed it wouldn’t be a stretch to start seeing the ghost of the friend she’d led to his death.

“Yaz…it’s me. I promise, I’m with you, and I’m going to save you,” said Graham.

Yasmin’s breath hitched.

“Graham…they told me you were dead. I thought everyone watched you die,” said Yasmin, finding it incredibly hard not to cry. She failed, when a tear dropped down her face and splashed onto her leg.

“Hey, hey, enough of that. The Doctor gave me the sonic as soon as she sensed trouble, made it surprisingly easy to escape the box. The second they turned their back I ran as far as I could. I knew they’d be bringing you here soon after so I decided to stick around,” explained Graham.

“Can you sonic me free now? It’s getting a little uncomfortable,” asked Yasmin hopefully.

“I wish I could, Yaz. Had to toss it to the Doctor for her plan,” said Graham.

Yasmin looked up tiredly to Graham. For a moment, he was sitting in the box instead of her crying out. Ryan was watching his closest family die in front of him, all because she couldn’t keep her mouth shut. She shook her head and found instead, she was in the box, and Ryan was crying for her.

“I thought I killed you,” whispered Yasmin.

“Yaz, even if something had happened to me, it wouldn’t have been your fault. I’d do anything to keep you lot safe. There’s not a lot I can do, so I have to take what I can,” said Graham softly.

“Disagree…you do loads,” said Yasmin, her voice trailing off.

His fist banged against the glass right beside her head and she jumped back in shock. He kept drumming on it until she turned over to look at him. She let out a short breath, unable to determine whether or not she had many of them left.

“Do you remember your name?” asked Graham.

“Yasmin,” said Yasmin, followed by a wheezy cough.

“Do you remember where you are?” he asked.

“I’m not an idiot, Graham. I’m currently inside a death box,” said Yasmin, resting her head against the glass as if to prove her point.

“Yeah, I know, which planet though?” asked Graham.

“Easy…Geroani,” Yasmin saw the look of worry, “oh wait, that was last week’s planet, wasn’t it? I remember now, okay? Just give me a minute…”

“It’s alright, sit still I’ve got you. Just hold on, we just have to wait for the signal,” said Graham quietly.

“This is bad isn’t it…” mumbled Yasmin.

“Nothing to worry about,” argued Graham, though he didn’t look convinced.

Yasmin blinked slowly, seeing two of Graham. This time, once her eyes shut, she found it much harder to keep them open. Darkness crept into the corners of her vision, and the effort of keeping it from clouding her already dimming vision hurt.

“Keep ‘em open, Yaz,” said Graham.

She nodded, not quite sure where Graham was with her eyes closing. Yasmin found it much more pleasant to keep them closed as it dulled the pain. She became annoyed when he starting banging on the glass again, like she was an animal in the zoo, and turned away from him.

“What was the signal?” she asked dreamily.

Yasmin heard commotion from above her and noticed that the King was shouting at his guards. She turned her head to find the Doctor standing up on the chair she had been tied to. She held up the sonic screwdriver in triumph, pointing it at Ryan to free him as well.

“Brilliant that you Kavolaions don’t like high pitched noises!” grinned the Doctor, switching on the sonic.

The pitch was like a whistle, and it sent all of the Kavolaions into a frenzy, though Yasmin barely heard it. The King threw himself from his throne, having forgotten about the prisoners. Each guard rushed to help him, helping him out of the room and threw the door the box had come through.

“That’s the signal. Doc!” shouted Graham.

The Doctor sprinted down through the chairs, her coat flying behind her like a cape. When she got close enough, she threw the sonic screwdriver to Graham. He immediately held it to the door of the box and it rose immediately. Graham and the Doctor grabbed handfuls of Yasmin’s jumper and pulled her out of the box.

“Is she breathing?” asked Ryan as he fell to his knees beside the Doctor and Graham.

The Doctor brushed Yasmin’s blue tinted lips and held her hand over the companion’s mouth. The others watched intensely as the Doctor’s eyebrows furrowed. She sat back with slight relief and the others turned to look at her nervously.

“Yeah, yeah she’s breathing. Not well though, we need to help her out. Lay her on her side,” said the Doctor.

The others helped Yasmin onto her side, her head resting limply in the Graham’s lap. He brushed her hair back so they could see her face. Her lips had returned mostly to their normal shade, and they were starting to see a steadier rise and fall of her chest.

“Come on Yaz, wake up!” said Ryan, watching her expressionless face.

“We need to move before the Kavolaions come back, ‘cause she sure can’t survive another attack…if she survives this one,” said the Doctor darkly.

“She will,” said Graham, his voice stern, “we just need to get her out of here.”

“Yaz…” encouraged the Doctor.

Suddenly, after a twitch of her nose and a flicker of eyelids, Yasmin’s eyes were forced open. She shook her head, disorientated, and let out a series of rough coughs. The coughs burned her chest but she was just grateful that she could breathe, even though it was ragged.

“Easy…oh, this is a bit Deja-vu,” said Graham as he rubbed Yasmin’s back to soothe her.

“Thank God!” sighed Ryan, while the Doctor exhaled an impressive amount of breath in relief.

“Graham,” said Yasmin, her voice hoarse and cracked, “it really was you.”

She tried to sit up, but none of the others would let her. Instead, she rolled onto her back so that she could look into the worried eyes of her friends. Yasmin was happy that she could see relief in them too.

Graham leaned down and kissed her forehead, “Of course it was. Now, save it for your oxygen mask.”

“I don’t have one,” said Yasmin, her eyebrows furrowing slowly.

“No, but the TARDIS has one with your name on it. Well, she doesn’t, but we can put it on there. In fact, she has inhalers with your names on, and water bottles, and that’s basically the same thing,” said the Doctor.

“You’re worse than my dad,” said Yasmin, resting her head back into Graham’s lap.

She let out a sigh, and her eyes fluttered closed again. Ryan grabbed her hand, panic building, but the Doctor put her hand on his shoulder.

“She’ll be fine, don’t worry. Let her rest, it’ll help to regulate her breathing,” explained the Doctor.

Yasmin was unconscious in seconds, her breathing deepening as she settled. She looked peaceful for the first time that day, and the dark circles under her eyes were easing. Ryan elbowed the Doctor with a smirk when he noticed the fond smile Graham wore.

“Didn’t think you’d end up with an extra grandkid, did you Gramps?” asked Ryan, unable to suppress his smile.

Graham looked from Yasmin, to Ryan and then to the Doctor, “Yeah, now I have three. You’re all my stupid grown-up kids.”

“You love it,” teased Ryan.

“Graham, I am a few centuries your senior,” said the Doctor, with an expression of offense.

“Are you sure that’s not in cat years?” asked Graham with a raised eyebrow.

“If you’re so old,” said Ryan, “I suppose you won’t be wanting to carry Yaz back to the TARDIS. No problem, me and the old man have got it.”

The Doctor scowled, “Fat chance of that! Hand her over.”

Graham and Ryan laughed as the Doctor lifted Yasmin from the ground as she had done so many times before. The boys helped the Doctor through the maze of dungeons, feeling sympathy for the two who had spent time in them. Yasmin stirred slightly, and the Doctor hugged her closer to her chest in hopes that she wouldn’t wake up and relive what had happened here. The Doctor hoped she had something to soothe the nightmares that would inevitably plague her companion. She bit her lip.

“What would we do without you, Yaz?” mumbled the Doctor.

“Wouldn’t be a Universe worth protecting,” smiled Graham, slinging his arm around Ryan, despite the alarms ringing out around them.

Chapter Text

“Huge heat signal, said the Doctor as she leaned against the console, “and a non-terrestrial form moving away from it fast. I’m on its tail.”

She looked around at the group of people huddled around the TARDIS. The TARDIS itself wasn't accustomed for these trips, or for all the people she now housed, and it was taking its toll. The Doctor tried hard to soothe her ship, though the panic of everyone around the console room wasn't helping.

She looked up sheepishly to the others in the ship, her face illuminated by the golden glow of the console, “Sorry, the TARDIS isn’t designed for these short hops.”

Before anyone could respond to her, the TARDIS hummed and shook and sent them all off their feet. Ryan, Yasmin and Graham had grown used to the upheaval of a TARDIS landing and held on very tight to the pillars. Sparks flew from the machine and Lin jumped, only kept on her feet by Mitch as he grabbed her arm.

When the TARDIS had settled, the Doctor leaned over and rested her hands on her knees. She took a deep breath before scanning the room to make sure everyone was fine. She frowned when a cardboard box slid by her feet.

“A microwave? Who brought a microwave with them?” she asked, her eyebrows furrowed.

Ryan’s dad, Aaron, was still trying to steady himself, his hands outstretched, “It’s actually an oven…and a microwave.”

The Doctor made a face, “Nice.”

Aaron looked up to the ceiling, then to the extravagant console in front of him, “What is this place?”

Ryan took a breath and turned to his father, “This is where I’ve been since Nan died. Travelling the universe with these guys.”

Yasmin was standing beside the Doctor, distracted by the problem at hand, “Even if we track this Dalek thing, how do we stop it?”

The Doctor looked up at her, “Still working on that.”

“The Custodians managed it. If we take the same approach as those drawings…” began Mitch.

“Those documents aren’t reliable, Mitch,” interrupted Lin as she watched him reach for a handful of drawings.

Mitch looked at her, “Except, all the rumours have been proved to be true. It’s shown here.”

Mitch held up a book after flicking to two pages, each depicting a different picture. He held them up to the others to show them what he was talking about.

When Aaron gave them all a strange look and tapped Ryan’s shoulder, Ryan rolled his eyes, “Short version-alien psychopath, in its own tank trying to bring loads more to Earth.”

“I guess this is how they attacked it last time,” added Ryan, gesturing to one of the pages in the book Mitch was holding up that showed a picture of a Dalek tied up, surrounded by armies and fire.

“What’s it made of?” asked Aaron.

“Remnants of its original shell, patched up with all sorts of spare parts, mainly metal,” explained the Doctor.

Aaron’s eyes lit up, “We can use my oven.”

“It’s not going to fit in there,” said Ryan.

Aaron pushed him lightly in the chest, “That’s not what I mean. Help me break it up.”

A distorted alarm sounded from the console of the TARDIS, and it brought the Doctor back to reality. She ran towards the console, throwing her hands all over it, but was unable to stop the shudder of the ship that almost sent them all flying across the floor.

“That Dalek’s moving fast, but where’s it going?” asked the Doctor with a frustrated groan.

The noise of Ryan and Aaron tinkering with the microwave-oven beside her, along with her panic, made the Doctor irritable. She listened in to what they were doing, when she lost concentration. It was too hard for her to organise six other people in her ship with all the distractions of the Dalek. She ran a stressed hand through her blonde, dishevelled hair.

“Ryan, help me get the element out,” asked Aaron.

“Why?” asked Ryan.

“It’s metal,” shrugged Aaron.

The Doctor gasped, “Oh, you’re good, Ryan’s Dad! You’re almost making up for your parenting deficit. Honestly, not quite though. We’re going to talk about that later, it’s not relevant now.”

Ryan looked between Graham and Yasmin for help when he saw Aaron was glaring at the time lady. Graham and Yasmin both shrugged, as if to say they agreed with the Doctor, and wanted to talk with his father too.

The alarm beeped again, and the Doctor leaned in closer to the screen, “I know where it’s heading. The biggest communications resource in the country!”

“Which is?” asked Yasmin.

“Government Communications Headquarters. Good ol’ GCHQ,” answered the Doctor.

The others crowded around the Doctor as the alarms continued. She looked at the scanner on the TARDIS, “It’s diverting every bit of power it can take from the whole of the UK to power the transmission. It’s shutting down the Wi-Fi, the phone signals.”

The alarms grew louder and the Doctor winced, “Whoa! That Dalek just shut down the whole of Britain’s internet.”

“What, on New Year’s Day? When everything’s shut and everyone’s hung over” asked Graham.

“Oh yeah, take that one up with the Daleks. Least it wasn’t Christmas, right?” shrugged the Doctor.

“I think we’re landing, Doctor,” said Yasmin from where she was peering over the Doctor’s shoulder at the console.

“Yeah, you’re right Yaz. Everyone knows the plan, right? Okay, everyone, stay back until I give you a signal. I mean it, especially you Yaz, don’t come running after me,” said the Doctor.

She looked from Yasmin to the others, willing for them all to stay put. They did, after seeing how important it was to her. The Doctor paused for a moment, and then threw open the TARDIS doors. She stood in front of the others so they weren’t in the sight of the Dalek, and then shut the doors behind her.

“Don’t shoot!” she shouted, putting her hands up in defence.

The Dalek looked unsettlingly different to the Dalek’s she had seen before. The eyestalk still glowed a threatening blue, but a red light beamed from its casing. The Doctor also noticed the rusted metal casing, one that definitely challenged the pride of a Dalek.

“Exterminate!” it cried, and the Doctor tried hard not to flinch.

Immediately, it shot a blue laser from its gun; shooting it in the direction of the TARDIS. As soon as it came into contact, another blue light surrounded the TARDIS. The Doctor beamed smugly as the Dalek noticed the force-field that she’d put around the ship to protect them all.

“Do you think I’m daft enough to stand here without shields?” scoffed the Doctor, “It’s safe, gang!”

Ryan stepped out of the TARDIS first, hand outstretched behind him in a subconscious effort to protect those who followed him. He moved to the side when he saw they were safe, and Yasmin and Graham came out from behind him. Lin was difficult to coax out of the TARDIS doors, especially once she’d seen the Dalek, but Mitch and Aaron managed to.

“You and your human friends, you have failed,” said the Dalek in its distorted, strange voice.

“Say hello to a Dalek,” said the Doctor gravely, with a wave of her hand.

“Signal activation in nine rels! The fleet shall be summoned.” said the Dalek with a flash of red that glowed from inside of the casing.

“No, it won’t,” growled the Doctor, “No matter how many times you try, no matter how long you wait, I’ll always be in your way, backed up by the best of humanity. Now, final, final, final warning, ‘cause I’m nice, I really do try my best- stop the signal, get off this planet.”

The Dalek flashed again, “You are not my commander.”

The Doctor pouted at the Dalek’s lack of hesitation but knew from experience it wouldn’t change its mind. She turned around to look at the group of humans standing behind her, waiting for her next move.

“I tried. You heard me, right? I tried! I gave it a chance,” asked the Doctor, looking from Graham, to Ryan, and then to Yasmin.

“Yeah,” said Graham, followed by a “Yep” from Ryan and then a “You did,” from Yasmin.

“I’m fast enough, right? I’m fast enough for this plan?” the Doctor asked again.

“Er, probably,” said Graham, then Ryan winced, “Maybe,” and Yasmin nodded sheepishly, “Possibly.”

The Doctor glared at them, “Well, that one needs work.”

Her eyes locked with Yasmin’s, but then she spun around to once again face the Dalek. It wasn’t something she thought about having to do in her new body, she had distracted herself so well with friends and adventures, she’d forgotten about the enemies she’d left behind with her old lives.

“Here’s a New Year message for you to send-Earth is protected by me and my mates, this year and every other,” said the Doctor, her voice rising.

She turned around to look at her friends again, with wild eyes, “Here we go.”

The Doctor threw up her hand with the sonic screwdriver in it, pointing it towards the ceiling. The force-field protecting them flickered as the sonic hummed and disappeared. The Doctor broke into a run, pushing the others back so they were out of the line of fire. While they sprinted right, the Doctor ran left.

“The Doctor must be destroyed!”

A Dalek laser narrowly missed the Doctor as she ducked her head. She was showered in sparks from the explosion and she gasped. The Dalek relentlessly sent all of the lasers in her direction, like she hoped, but she hadn’t accounted for the sting as the remnants of the explosion caught her skin. The Doctor dove onto the ground, skidding across the floor, to avoid any more holes being burned into her clothes. She landed at the foot of the Dalek and quickly pulled herself upright.

“Now, gang!” she panted, holding onto the metal casing of the creature.

“Do not approach! None of you will survive!” barked the Dalek.

Yasmin and Graham grabbed the Dalek from behind, holding onto its head to keep it still. Ryan stood back, helping Mitch shield Lin and Aaron from the sparks that still struck across the room.

“Aim the gun at the servers!” the Doctor shouted to Yasmin and Graham.

“Weaponry malfunctioning!” shouted the Dalek when Yasmin and Graham spun its head around.

“Now attach the parts!” instructed the Doctor, placing the metal device onto the metal casing.

Ryan leaned over Yasmin to help attach another device onto the Dalek before passing another one to Graham, and then another to Aaron.

“Weapon failure!” screeched the Dalek as the last device was placed on its casing.

“The parts are on, Doctor,” said Ryan.

“Get clear!” shouted the Doctor.

Everyone jumped back when the Dalek begun to spin, desperately trying to get rid of whatever they had put on its casing. They flinched when the weapon was pointed at each of them individually, but nothing was shot at them.

“What is on my casing?” asked the Dalek, navigating between the rocks of rubble beneath it.

“The Custodians burned your shell and we’ve got something they didn’t have; a nicely designed portable combination oven. Transformers, primary and secondary coils, going from high voltage, low ampage to low voltage and very, very high ampage,” grinned the Doctor.

The room grew hotter as the casing of the Dalek began to overheat. The Doctor coughed when smoke filled the space, coming from inside of the Dalek. The casing melted down with a bright red light, causing the Dalek to let out a robotic scream.

“Get down!” shouted the Doctor, equally as loud as the Dalek.

The group shielded their eyes with their arms and fell backwards to avoid being caught up in the inevitable explosion. Yasmin was pushed to the ground by the force of the explosion, falling into Graham and Aaron. Mitch covered Lin with his body, but both of them avoided the damage. Even Ryan, who had been closed, came away unscathed.

They stood up slowly to find the Dalek casing had become charred and blackened by the fire, which was still burning the metal. The eyestalk was bent down at an awkward angle as it began to melt. The smoke eased but sparks continued to fly at the group.

“Is it dead?” asked Graham, wincing from the light of the fire.

“I don’t know, do you think we got it before it sent the signal?” asked Yasmin.

“Look at the screen,” said Ryan, “the signal was never sent!”

“That was brilliant!” said Lin, and Mitch’s confused expression made her laugh.

“Doc, I think that was the best skid you’ve ever done, and you’ve done plenty! I’m proud, actually,” beamed Graham, looking around for her.

“Where is she?” asked Yasmin, knowing the Doctor wouldn’t stray far from her side after an explosion like that.

The chilling, frightening laugh of a Dalek echoed around the room, making everyone freeze. The growing smiles began to falter as the laughter became louder and more sinister. It sent shivers down each of their spines.

The laughter came from a dark, shadowy corner of the room. Yasmin was the first to turn, but she was unable to move. Ryan put a hand on her shoulder to stop her but Yasmin eventually stepped forward anyway, taking the position the Doctor so often did.

“Doctor?” she whispered, her voice cracking.

“Your Doctor underestimated me, Daleks survive,” came a voice that followed the Dalek’s laughter. Except, the voice had come from the mouth of the Doctor.

Standing in the shadows of the ruined room stood the Doctor. She was unsteady on her feet and her head was bowed, struggling against the tentacles that begun to snake around her body. One crept onto her neck, wrapping around it, and more found her arms. The Doctor lifted her head and her eyes gleamed with the darkness of a Dalek, though the underlaying pain beneath definitely belonged to their friend.

“Do something!” cried out Ryan as he ran to join Yasmin, but Graham held him back.

“You will take me to the Dalek fleet,” said the Dalek, tilting the Doctor’s head to one side.

“We don’t know how!” cried Yasmin.

“Resist…” hissed the Dalek, “and this body will be destroyed.”

The Doctor threw her head back with a pained groan, one definitely inflicted by the Dalek, and her companions tensed. The tentacles tightened on the Doctor at the same time, paralysing their friend. Graham now held Ryan back properly and kept his eyes fully trained on Yasmin, worried that they’d run to help.

“Someone, do something,” begged Yasmin, though she knew as well as the others that there wasn’t much they could do.

“Fine,” said Ryan.

“Ryan, what are you talking about?” hissed Yasmin.

“We can’t lose the Doctor! We’ll do whatever you want,” said Ryan.

“Just promise us you’ll let her go,” added Graham.

The Doctor’s eyes darkened as the Dalek turned to look at Graham, “You are my prisoners now. The glory of a TARDIS shall be ours.”

“Yaz,” said Ryan with a gulp,” the Dalek won’t let the Doctor take control, too risky, so you’ll have to fly. the Doctor’s taught you how to pilot the TARDIS a bunch, right? If we can get the coordinates, you should be fine, right?”

Yasmin didn’t take her eyes off the Doctor, “Y-yeah, I guess so.”

Ryan tried to calm down, “Okay…okay, let’s get into the TARDIS then. Follow us, Metal-Squid posing as our friend.”

The Dalek stormed towards the TARDIS immediately. The TARDIS didn’t want to let it in, not taking kindly to the borrowing of the Doctor’s body, but some soft words from Yasmin made her open her doors. Lin stayed as far away from the Dalek as possible, protected in Mitch’s arms as they walked in last.

“Now,” the Dalek instructed Yasmin, the tentacles tightening around the Doctor.

“I just need coordinates, then we’ll find your fleet,” said Yasmin through gritted teeth.

“I’ve got them,” said Ryan, receiving surprised looks from the rest of the group, “what?”

“How do you have them?” asked Graham.

“Uh, sometimes the Doctor gets me to write down coordinates for her, supposed to help with my memory and stuff. She’s determined to make me a pilot too. She keeps them down here, give me a minute,”

He read aloud the coordinates to Yasmin, but he noticed she hesitated to input them into the console. He spoke her name quietly and she looked up, tears forming in her eyes. Her hand was firmly on the lever beside her, one that the Doctor pulled so enthusiastically on their adventures. Except, Yasmin was holding it like it was burning her.

“Do you trust me?” he asked her.

She didn’t speak, but she nodded. With that, she put in the coordinates and piloted the TARDIS as she had been taught to, trying hard not to look at the Doctor.

Yasmin took a shaky breath and eventually managed to make eye contact with the Dalek, “We’ve landed.”

The Dalek smirked, “Finally, my mission is complete. The Earth and the Doctor shall submit before the Dalek fleet.”

The Dalek turned away from the others and faced towards the TARDIS doors. Yasmin braced herself as she saw the squid-body of the Dalek sprawled across the Doctor’s back. She tried to ignore the tentacles that flicked and stuck to her pale skin, marring it with painful red marks. Graham but a comforting arm around her.

“Yaz,” said Ryan in a whisper, “open the TARDIS doors.”

Yasmin looked at him for a moment, but she nodded. She grabbed a hold of the circular lever and spun it around. Immediately, the TARDIS was engulfed in a hot white light that sent them all recoiling.

“Ryan, Yaz, what are you doing?” asked Graham as he fell back into the console.

“Sorry, I’m really not that good at directions. Turns out, we’re not in the middle of a fleet, it’s actually a sun going supernova, with a squid-sized vacuum corridor about to pull you out into space. You know, easy mistake to make,” shrugged Ryan.

“Doctor!” screamed Yasmin as her friend got too close to the vacuum.

“Come on, Dalek, you’re too weak to hold on,” taunted Ryan.

“It looks like its holding on pretty well, Ryan,” said Yasmin with a grimace.

“Does it look like the vacuum-whatever is getting a bit bigger to any of you?” asked Graham.

“You mean it’s going to take the Doctor too!” shouted Yasmin, watching as the Dalek, still attached to the Doctor, was pulled even further towards the doors and into the vacuum.

The TARDIS rumbled as it moved closer to the sun and smoke began billowing from the console. Everyone held on tighter to parts of the TARDIS, but the Dalek didn’t have much to hold on to. The part Lin held onto hissed and sparked which made her jump back, luckily into Mitch. He hugged her close to him, shielding her face from the damaged console. Graham hadn’t been so lucky and was forced to let go of the console, slamming into the TARDIS pillar. Ryan reached out and grabbed his arm before he was sucked out of the doors.

The Dalek was forced off its feet when the pull of the vacuum became too much. The Doctor’s body was thrown to the floor where it had nothing to hold onto. Yasmin winced as she imagined the bruises that would be developing. It threw out the Doctor’s arms and they gripped deathly tight onto the frame of the door to stop from falling out.

“Doctor!” shouted Yasmin.

She hugged onto the TARDIS pillar, feeling the warmth of the sun. It was already making her sweat, but she didn’t dare wipe it away from her forehead as her grip was already loosening. As soon as she saw the Doctor halfway out the door, she lost her grip completely. She had to do something.

“Doctor! Doctor! Hold on!” she cried.

“Yaz, no!” shouted Ryan as Yasmin let herself be thrown towards the Doctor.

She held on to the wall beside the TARDIS doors, close enough that she could see the struggle going on between the Doctor and the Dalek. Yasmin relaxed for just a moment, thankful that she hadn’t sent herself and the Doctor out of the doors. Instead, she hung on beside the Doctor, and the Dalek.

“Doctor, I know you can hear me,” said Yasmin.

The Dalek growled at her as it looked up, and she tried not to flinch.

“She is mine now,” it said.

Yasmin took a deep breath and again let go of the wall. She heard faint protests behind her as she fell towards the Doctor. She let out an exhale of relief when her fingers found the frame of the TARDIS door. She hung on close to the ground, swinging low, wincing as the sun burned her eyes. She would have to get closer, try and coax the Doctor free, or else the Dalek would be too strong.

“No, she’s not. She’s mine!” Yasmin breathed.

The Doctor’s fingers curled on the frame, desperate to save herself. The Dalek was more concerned about itself, though, and it wrapped more tentacles securely around the Doctor’s body.

Yasmin opened her eyes with a wince, “Doctor. I’m here for you. Please, you have to fight this. I-we love you.”

For a second, she thought she’d looked into the Doctor’s eyes, instead of the Dalek’s. The gaze had softened and she was looking into the scared, loving eyes that were so familiar.

“Yaz, careful!” shouted Graham.

Yasmin ignored him and pried her hand from the frame. It unbalanced her for a second and she panicked, but she pressed her body against the wall. Then, she stuck out her outstretched hand in front of the Doctor, the heat almost unbearable.

“Take my hand!” she begged.

The Doctor’s tired, pained eyes fell on the hand in front of her. She looked up to see narrowed, red eyes as the light of the sun lit up Yasmin’s strained face. Yasmin’s face softened in surprise when the Doctor’s trembling hand slowly reached out. After what felt like a life-time, the Doctor’s hand reached Yasmin’s and they held each other. Yasmin could see small specks on the Doctor’s hand where it had been struck by fiery sparks, and already blossoming bruises. Yasmin tried to be gentle.

Yasmin pushed and kicked off the floor to pull herself and the Doctor away from the door. She grunted with the effort and became aware of the alarming weakness in her body. The Doctor managed to fall forward and into Yasmin.

“Leave her alone!” shouted Yasmin as the Dalek began to detach itself from the Doctor, suffering against the pull of the vacuum.

The Dalek lost its hold and was thrown from the TARDIS doors and into the fiery sun outside. Yasmin flinched, hugging the Doctor to her, as she thought about how close she came to joining it.

“Graham, spin the lever to your left anti-clockwise!” Yasmin shouted.

Graham did as she said, and the TARDIS doors slammed shut, leaving the vacuum and sun behind them. Yasmin felt exhaustion when her body was finally able to stop fighting against the outside. It was like an incredible, painful weight had been lifted. She threw her body and the Doctor’s onto the ground, finding the cold ground soothing. Yasmin held her arms around the Doctor, subconsciously unable to let her go even if the danger had gone.

They collapsed together, Yasmin listening to the ragged rise and fall of the Doctor’s chest. The time lady snapped out of her shock with a pained grunt, trying to pull herself upright, but struggling as her body recovered slowly. Her eyes were still wide with fear.

“Careful, we’ve got you,” whispered Yasmin from where she was still tiredly lying on the floor.

Graham and Ryan sprinted over to them, grinning wildly. Lin, Mitch and Aaron followed behind, trying hard to understand what had just happened. Yasmin rolled over with a wince to look up at them.

“Thank God you’re both okay,” breathed Graham, reaching a hand down.

Yasmin grabbed his hand and let him pull her to her feet. The Doctor got up beside her, though with more help from Ryan, and stumbled to her feet. She still looked out of it, overwhelmed as the others rushed to help her.

“Ryan, brilliant work! That was the smoothest you’ve ever executed a plan, I’m well chuffed,” grinned the Doctor.

“What plan?” asked Yasmin.

“I knew I’d be the target of the Dalek, so I slipped Ryan the psychic paper with instructions. He had to convince the Dalek to get onto the TARDIS and use fake coordinates. He did a fine job. And let’s not forget about Yaz, absolutely brilliant! Always my hero…oh, I need to stop talking,” the Doctor interrupted her own words with a groan.

“Are you alright?” asked Yasmin when the Doctor put her arm around the woman.

“Let’s get away from the sun, co-pilot, then we can worry about me,” shrugged the Doctor, “also Lin, very sorry it took us so long to get you rid of that Dalek. Trust me, I know that really wasn’t a pleasant experience.”

Lin smiled softly, “How about you get me and Mitch home, and we’ll call it even?”

The Doctor set the coordinates to Sheffield, chattering away to Lin about her recent encounter with the Dalek. Ryan took the opportunity to walk over to Yasmin, who was still catching her breath.

“I’ll never know how she bounces back so quick,” panted Yasmin as Ryan approached her.

“What about you? How you bouncin’?” asked Ryan.

“Oh, I’m fine, I’m just thinking…” started Yasmin.

“You’re wondering why the Doctor kept you in the dark about the plan, aren’t you?” asked Ryan with a small smile.

Yasmin blushed, but she nodded.

“She chose me because she knew you’d be too emotional to see it through,” explained Ryan.

Yasmin scowled, “I’m the police, I’m amazing under pressure!”

Ryan shook his head fondly, “Not this kind of pressure. Look, Me and Graham will get the lovebirds home safe, and then we’ll go get Aaron home before one of you kills him. You and the Doctor need to have a little chat.”

Yasmin watched Ryan pat her gently on the back before he walked over to Lin and Mitch and offered to walk them out. The Doctor, as Yasmin had presumed, raised an eyebrow in curiosity, wondering when the men had become perfect gentlemen. Aaron asked to be left there too, after becoming overwhelmed in the TARDIS, and asked Ryan if he’d like to go for a coffee.

“Sorry, dad, you kept me waiting for years, and I fancy doing the same. I’ll call you when I feel like it,” Yasmin heard Ryan say before he closed the TARDIS door behind them.

“I’m guessing that was intentional?” asked the Doctor, not looking up from the console.

Yasmin tried to sound innocent, “What are you talking about?”

The Doctor gestured to the door, “That lot, leaving us alone. S’pose they think we’ve got some things to talk about, huh?”

“Maybe.”

“Yaz,” said the Doctor, looking up, “I want you to know how grateful I am. Despite how good my plans are, I think I would’ve been fed to the sun along with the Dalek.”

Yasmin scuffed her boot on the ground, “So…how come you didn’t tell me about the plan? Did you think I’d ruin it?”

The Doctor stood up straight, “Yasmin Khan! Of course, I didn’t think you’d ruin it. However, I did think, if I were in some kind of trouble, you’d struggle to stay calm whether I had a plan or not. Your reactions were what made the whole thing feel real.”

She walked over to Yasmin, who had sat down on the TARDIS floor. Partly in relief that the Doctor didn’t think she were a liability, and partly because she was still very, very tired. The Doctor hesitated for a moment but took a seat next to Yasmin and put a hand on her knee.

“Oh, right. But how did you know I’d be all over the place, haven’t I been pretty good in situations before?” asked Yasmin.

“Yaz, it wasn’t the situation I was worried about. I know you can handle a situation.”

“What was it, then?” asked Yasmin.

“It was…well, me. The difference was that I was the one in trouble this time. And I knew you’d react the way you did because, if the tables were turned, I’d react the exact same way,” said the Doctor, who scratched her neck in a flustered gesture.

Yasmin looked into the Doctor’s eyes and smiled, “What do you say we go for New Years’ Day number 20, when the others have stopped their meddling. But, let’s make it an Earth one.”

“Of course! But, why?”

“There’s a tradition that I’d really like to show you,” said Yasmin softly, her breath on the Doctor’s neck. She felt the way the Doctor’s hand tightened on her leg.

The Doctor’s head cocked towards Yasmin and she asked innocently, “Can you show me now?”

“If you’d like.”

Chapter Text

The group watched the Doctor dance around the TARDIS console, flicking and pulling in a feverish pattern. She had Ryan holding down a large blue button opposite her, and then Yasmin spinning a lever beside him. The Doctor grinned at the concentration on both of the youngster’s faces, but then faltered at the fear on Graham’s.

“Graham, wipe that look off your face,” said the Doctor, “you’ve got this!”

“Doc,” began Graham, “I really don’t think this is a good idea. Can’t you just get Yaz to do it? After all, she’s the one who can actually fly this thing.”

The Doctor tutted, “It’s pilot, not fly! Besides, what if Yaz wasn’t here? What if me and Yaz were stuck somewhere and you needed to land her to save us!”

“Graham, it’s like learning first aid in school or how to parallel park. You don’t understand why you have to learn it, but one day it might come in handy,” shrugged Yasmin.

The Doctor stopped fussing around Graham and shot up to look at Yasmin. Her face was the picture of offense, her eyes bulging so wide it made Ryan laugh.

“Yaz! Piloting the TARDIS is way more important than secondary school first aid or parking in a parallel! This could be one of the most important lessons Graham will learn and it could save your life one day,” scolded the Doctor.

Ryan let out another hearty laugh, “Doctor, you’re honestly so dramatic. Hurry up and teach Graham how to land so we can go somewhere cool.”

Graham rolled his eyes but was nudged forward by the Doctor. He went through the Doctor’s instructions in his head, first reaching for a lever, than a series of buttons before asking the Doctor again for the coordinates. Nervously, and with a sweat, he typed in the coordinates before slamming a hand down on the final button.

“She’s making that annoying noise! Looks like you did it, Gramps,” said Ryan, patting him warmly on the back.

“Well done Graham, knew you had it in ya!” beamed the Doctor.

The TARDIS did her whirr and hum as she followed Graham’s instructions, sending them flying towards their destination. The journey, and the landing, had been relatively smooth, only managing to unbalance Ryan, though he stayed on his feet.

“So, where’d you take us?” asked Yasmin, excitedly.

“Dunno, Doc?” asked Graham.

“Oh, you know, Sheffield 2018. Hey! Don’t look at me like that, I couldn’t have Graham piloting us into a black hole or anything, could I? It had to be easy, no offence Graham,” said the Doctor, her hands up in defence.

“Next time, can I choose where we go?” asked Ryan, disappointed.

“Of course, Ryan! Get yourself over to the map on the screen, see what takes your fancy,” said the Doctor with a clap of her hands.

“Wait, wait, while we’re here, can I run and pick up a few more snacks from our apartment? You have no idea how hard it is to make anything in your kitchen Doc. I swear the fridge has teeth,” said Graham.

“Go ahead,” waved the Doctor, more focussed on the bickering going on between Ryan and Yasmin in front of her.

“Yaz for the last time, get your hands off the map or I’ll feed them to the refrigerator!” said Ryan.

Yasmin rolled her eyes at Ryan and shoved him away from the map, jabbing her finger pointedly at various destinations. Ryan took her distraction as an opportunity to push her away, shielding the screen with his body dramatically.

“Oh, wait, Graham, fancy picking up some fruit from the bowl I can throw at dear Yaz?” Ryan called over.

“I’ll take the biggest, heaviest thing you’ve got,” shot back Yasmin.

Graham shook his head with a fond smile as he headed towards the TARDIS doors. He was looking forward to returning, even if it was brief, to the blue-skied, single-sunned planet he had left behind. His hand reached for the door, confused when it hadn’t already opened for him, and he realised it was locked.

“Eh, Doc, you don’t usually lock the TARDIS, do you?” he asked, scratching the back of his head.

The Doctor turned to him and frowned, “The TARDIS is never locked from the inside. Here, let me try.”

She clicked her fingers and frowned again when the doors refused to open. Then, she walked over herself, whispering encouragement, and tugged at it herself. The doors again refused to open. The Doctor tried to remain calm as she pulled the sonic screwdriver from her pocket and pointing it at the door. Again, it refused to open.

The Doctor pressed the sonic to her face, “Now that…is really not good.”

Yasmin and Ryan stopped their arguing from behind the others as Yasmin asked, “What’s going on guys?”

“Well…it seems someone did something they shouldn’t,” said the Doctor with a pointed look across the group, “and activated the TARDIS safety protocols. Looks like, for whatever reason, she’s gone on lock down.”

“No chance of human food, then,” said Graham miserably.

“Not much chance of anything. Not to worry though, Graham. Since we’re stranded here, they’ll be plenty of time for Earth food. That is, once I can get those doors open. Ryan, you fancy taking a look around? You’re almost a mechanic! Graham can help you. Yaz, I could use your help working on the doors, if you fancy it?”

“Course!” said Yasmin.

The Doctor showed Ryan and Graham to the panels in the TARDIS floor, under which held intricate wires, belts, fans and valves. Ryan grimaced as he tried to make sense of it. It definitely didn’t look like a car.

“Don’t you have any tools or anything?” asked Ryan.

“What? Oh yeah, I do. Down the hall, left at the corridor, right at the bedrooms and then right again. You’ll find the garage, it’s got everything in there! Just do not touch the motorcycle.”

The image of the Doctor on a motorcycle was one Yasmin struggled to shake out of her head. She’d ridden one before, a few times, when she thought her leather jacket collection had called for it, but she preferred being on the back of one. She wondered if the Doctor would ever consider swapping the TARDIS for a motorcycle for an adventure, just to humour her.

The excited, childish grin on Ryan’s face worried the Doctor, especially the gleam in his eyes. She waggled her finger at him in a warning but he’d already sprinted off, singing the Doctor’s directions to himself out loud. Graham followed quickly after him, and the Doctor sighed in relief.

“Right, now my motorcycle is safe, should we get back to work?” asked the Doctor, glancing over to where Yasmin was squinting at the console screen.

“You realise I have no experience at all with this sort of stuff, right? I have no idea what we’re looking at, let alone how to fix it,” confessed Yasmin.

“That’s alright Yaz, I just need someone to talk to. All you need to do is keep me company and look pretty, both of which happen to already be skills of yours,” said the Doctor, face practically pressed against the console.

Yasmin blushed, “So, what exactly are you looking for?”

“You know how automatic doors work, with motion sensors and stuff? It’s kind of like that, except the TARDIS is the sensor. She decides who walks in and out, usually, but she has no control when lock down is initiated. So basically, we’re looking for any kind of anomaly in the TARDIS circuits that look tampered with,” said the Doctor, not looking up.

“You think she’s been tampered with, then?” asked Yasmin nervously.

“Highly unlikely but finding something’s been tampered with is much more exciting than the fact that she’s probably just taken one too many knocks and needs to recover,” reassured the Doctor.

“Oh, yeah, I’m sure that’s it,” said Yasmin.

“Now, how about we try and find out what’s wrong. I think, if everything’s in order, I can override the systems manually. We get the doors open, Ryan finds out if there’s anything wrong elsewhere, and Graham fetches us a picnic. Doesn’t that sound like one of my better plans?” said the Doctor.

Yasmin smiled, “In theory.”

The Doctor’s optimism faded with each minute as she made her way around the TARDIS console, testing everything she could get her hands on. Yasmin had once thought half of the buttons and levers were for decoration, as she had no idea what they could possibly be for, but the Doctor seemed sure one of them would help.

“I…am so tired of this,” groaned the Doctor, “I wish we could just travel to tomorrow when everything’s fixed but we can’t, because we have no time machine.”

“It’s been hours, have you gotten anywhere yet?” asked Yasmin, whose arm ached after holding up various levers.

“Yaz, if I’d gotten anywhere, you’d be seeing Sheffield right now,” said the Doctor, pointedly.

Yasmin shrugged, “Fair point.”

Behind her, Yasmin felt a rush of cold air. It caused her to shiver, but she felt even colder when she realised that the doors were locked, and there was nowhere for the cold air to escape through. She wondered, with a frown, where it had come from.

She gasped when she thought she saw a shadowed figure behind her. It looked vaguely like a human shadow, except it was distorted and unusually tall. Yasmin spun around to face it, but it immediately vanished. She shook her head, wondering when she’d started to see things.

“Yaz, you couldn’t grab me my sonic, could you?” asked the Doctor, gesturing to where her coat was hung over one of the pillars.

She’d taken it off to work, throwing it across the room to avoid it getting dirty. Yasmin wondered what the point of that was, when it had already been burned, lasered and dunked in a lake. It had landed neatly on the pillar, as if the TARDIS had caught it. Yasmin walked over to it, her heart still beating fast, and fumbled around in the pockets until she felt the cold metal.

“Here, I got it,” said Yasmin, looking up from the coat.

She looked up, facing towards the door that, often, led to the kitchen. Through the reflection of the window fixed into the door, Yasmin caught sight of what was behind her. It wasn’t just the Doctor she could see, or the lights of the console, but the same shadowed figure from before.

Her breath hitched and she squeezed her eyes closed in fright. A second later, when she’d opened them after nothing had attacked her, the figure had gone.

“Did you see that?” asked Yasmin, her voice trembling.

The Doctor was distracted and helped out a hand for the sonic, “See what?”

“The…thing,” Yasmin answered pathetically, handing over the sonic screwdriver.

Yasmin leaned close beside the Doctor as she tried to remain calm. She pressed herself close to her friend, hoping it wouldn’t be obvious, as she concentrated on ignoring her surroundings.

“What are you doing, Yaz?” asked the Doctor as she tugged two strands of wire from the console and unknotted them.

“Nothing, but…there’s something I should tell ya. I’m kind of scared,” admitted Yasmin.

The Doctor, after successfully unknotting the wires, put them gently back where she’d found them. Then, once they were plugged in, a button beside them glowed. The Doctor pressed the button hopefully, then glanced to the doors. She groaned when nothing happened.

“Doctor, did you hear me?”

“Oh, what, Yaz?” asked the Doctor, eyes still trained on the door.

Yasmin sighed, “I was telling you that I’m scared. It doesn’t feel right in here, and I think maybe you should take a break from the doors just in case something’s…here.”

“Yeah Yaz, I thought that would work too. There’s no problem with the circuits, or wiring, so the problem has to be external,” mumbled the Doctor, scanning the glowing button with her sonic.

“Wait, what?” said Yasmin.

“The glowing button- I thought if we could fix the wiring then it would act as a sort of…emergency exit, but it didn’t open the doors. Or make any new doors, which would’ve worked too.”

“Doctor, would you just listen to me!” shouted Yasmin.

“Yaz! Busy trying to fix the doors right now!” the Doctor shouted back.

Yasmin wanted to stomp her foot and snatch the sonic screwdriver from the Doctor’s hand, but she settled for an obviously frustrated huff, and went to stand on the other side of the room. She was growing more irritable as she grew more paranoid, but the Doctor hadn’t even noticed. She’d been swept aside.

She sat down on the floor by the corridor, facing towards the darkness instead of watching the Doctor work. Yasmin quickly changed her mind when she felt eyes in the darkness, piercing into her own, waiting hungrily for her like a predator. She got to her feet clumsily, clambering away from the corridor.

“What’s got you in such a state?” asked the Doctor as Yasmin got closer.

Yasmin rolled her eyes, “Oh, so now you care.”

“Your human emotions are almost as trivial as the TARDIS doors,” said the Doctor with a sigh. Yasmin felt an anger building.

“I get that us humans are just another thing for you to tinker with, but maybe if you’d listened to me the first time then you’d know the answer to your own question!”

The Doctor looked up at Yasmin slowly, “Yaz, you’re getting on my nerves. Why are you getting on my nerves?”

“I can’t believe-”

The Doctor frowned, reaching over to press a finger to Yasmin’s lips. She wondered if the Doctor could feel her lip curl, or her gritted teeth.

“You don’t understand,” said the Doctor, “you don’t get on my nerves, you never do. I didn’t even think it was possible, to be honest. So, I think, something’s very wrong.”

Yasmin let out a deflated laugh, “What’s wrong is we’ve been cooped up in your ship for far too long.”

The Doctor looked up at her gravely, “Earlier, you said something. You said you were scared. Why did you say that?”

“Oh, it was nothing…I just kept seeing things in the shadows. Felt like something was in the dark. It happens when I start to panic,” said Yasmin with a shrug.

“Don’t mean to panic you further, but I have a feeling you’ve picked up on something there. Hasn’t something felt…not right since the lock down happened? Haven’t you felt it too, like a shiver down your spine, or goose bumps?”

“Doctor, you’re scaring me but-yeah,” answered Yasmin, suddenly feeling the darkness a lot more intensely, “but there’s something else that isn’t right.”

“What’s that?” asked the Doctor.

“Ryan and Graham should’ve been back here a long time ago.”

The sonic screwdriver dropped from the Doctor’s hand in an instant, falling to the floor with a thud. She didn’t even look down to see if it had broken, but instead, she looked up to Yasmin. There was a look of fearful realisation in her eyes.

“I-I was so wrapped up in trying to fix everything…I completely forgot,” mumbled the Doctor.

“What do we do, wander around the scary corridors whistling for them?” asked Yasmin.

The Doctor crouched down and inspected the sonic, relieved that it hadn’t shattered. She threw up her hand and spun around with it in the air. She spun around three times before she did a loop of the room before plugging in the sonic beside the screen.

“What are you doing?” asked Yasmin, leaning over the Doctor.

“I’m checking the atmosphere. The sonic will detect if there’s anything unusual in the TARDIS, besides the usual strange stuff. If there’s anything here with us, it’ll pick up on it,” explained the Doctor.

As she spoke, the screen began to beep. Yasmin turned her attention to it, noticing it was lighting up red. The Doctor pressed down and it the beeping stopped, much to Yasmin’s relief. She strained to see the screen, frustrated as the Doctor pulled it towards her, mumbling out loud as she read.

“Okay, the TARDIS has found something. It’s just analysing the data,” said the Doctor.

“Look, it says the TARDIS has found traces of DNA, does that mean there is something here…an alien?” asked Yasmin breathlessly.

“It’s not quite DNA Yaz, but I think I know what it found. I met one a few regenerations back, the DNA pattern is saved in the TARDIS data. There’s this creature called Motus, but they’re more like a manifestation. That would explain how they’d managed to sneak onto the TARDIS. Trouble is, they come from a species that feed on emotion, called the Umbra. That’s probably why we were feeling on edge. The worse you feel, the closer they are! I bet they found the TARDIS because of all her telepathic energy!”

“Are the Motus dangerous?” asked Yasmin with a gulp.

“No! Well, I mean, yes extremely, but there’s nothing to worry about as long as we decrease the temperature. They can’t manifest if the room is colder than their home planet which, luckily for us, isn’t even that cold,” shrugged the Doctor.

For a moment, Yasmin let her shoulders slump as she relaxed. That was easy enough for them to solve, she thought. Then, the familiar panic rose again.

“Uh, Doctor?” she squeaked.

“Yeah?”

“We, er, don’t have any control of the temperature anymore, now the TARDIS is on lockdown,” said Yasmin.

The Doctor frowned, “Oh. Yeah. So, this is really not good at all.”

“Doctor, I think we should go and find Ryan and Graham now. This Motus could be with them right now, and they’ll have no idea what it is! My phone doesn’t have any service, but surely the TARDIS phone could reach one of them?” asked Yasmin.

As soon as she’d spoken, in the distance echo of the TARDIS, a deep scream was carried down the corridors. Yasmin knew for a fact that the noise didn’t belong to one of the creatures and felt the suffocating fear that her friends were in trouble. She tugged at the Doctor’s sleeve, not bothering to turn around and check if the time lady had heard the noise too, urging her forward.

“Yaz?” said the Doctor quietly.

“What? Did you forget about them again?” asked Yasmin.

“No, something new to worry about. Did this thing you kept seeing look like it was made of shadows, really tall, vaguely human?” asked the Doctor.

“Yeah, that’s exactly what I saw, how’d you know?” asked Yasmin.

The Doctor didn’t answer, so Yasmin turned around to see if she’d stopped listening to her again. Maybe she’d found a way to fix the doors, and they could find some sort of intergalactic pest control? She found, with a rush of disappointment, that she had been wrong. As soon as she turned around, she came face-to-face with the creatures that had been tormenting her.

Four of them surrounded the Doctor, turning menacingly to look at Yasmin with beady yellow eyes when she gasped in surprise. One had an eerie hand on the Doctor’s arm, wrapping a long clawed hand around it.

“Well, I think I’m seeing things too now,” said the Doctor meekly.

Yasmin watched in horror as the hand that dug into the Doctor’s skin reached up and pressed a finger to her temple. The claw dug into the skin and the Doctor flinched. The shadow of the Motus’s finger surrounded the Doctor’s head like a dark crown. The Doctor had no time to prepare herself as a pain erupted in her head and she arched her back in agony.

“Doctor!” screamed Yasmin.

The Doctor forced her mouth to close in a desperate attempt to muffle the pained scream that was scaring Yasmin so much. Instead, she let out a weak groan as her body crumpled beneath her. Yasmin reached out to catch her, but she was stopped by the shadowed hand of another Motus. The Doctor fell immediately unconscious, her face still twisted in pain.

Yasmin regretted wondering what the Motus were doing to her when the shadowed figures turned to her instead. The one that had been holding her still reached up its free hand to her head. Its fingertips brushed her cheek and she winced at the heat it emitted. She felt like it had left a burn on her skin. In the familiar action, the Motus pressed a searing hot finger to her temple, which sent her into a dizzying fit of torment.

She felt the heat of the shadow all over her body, and by the time she felt her knees buckle and her eyes roll back, she was barely conscious enough to comprehend the danger they were in. She didn’t feel the engulf of darkness when it came.

Chapter Text

Yasmin was the first to wake up. She woke up with a start, gasping for breath. It took her several minutes for her mind to catch up with the rest of her, and after a few gulping breaths she realised she was exactly where she’d lost consciousness. Except, this time, the console room was drowned in a harsh red light, like the ship was trying to warn them about something.

She blinked away the blurriness to find her hands were tied painfully with strange material she’d never seen before. It looked like silk made from shadows; but it was, for sure, stronger than any handcuffs she’d handled as a policewoman. Whatever the material was, she wouldn’t be breaking free of it. Yasmin was just grateful it didn’t burn her like the Motus had.

Yasmin’s eyes widened. She’d forgotten about everything. The Motus…the pain…her friends. Almost as soon as she’d thought it, she heard a faint groan from beside her. She twisted around awkwardly to find Graham was lying above her head and was just beginning to stir. Opposite them, several feet away, Ryan and the Doctor lay in a heap, neither of them waking up. She felt a rush of relief that they were all back together again.

“Graham,” hissed Yasmin, “are you okay?”

He looked up at her with a dazed expression, “Er, what? Oh, Yaz, thank God! Yeah, I’m fine, what happened? How did I get back to the console room?”

“I guess the Motus found you, right? The shadowy creatures,” asked Yasmin, gesturing to the shadowy bonds on his own wrists.

Graham frowned, “Oh, so that’s what they were. Yeah, me and Ryan was messing around in the garage when we had this huge fight. Feel a bit sheepish about it now, actually. Anyway, we were both about to storm off when a shadow filled the room like smoke. We both dropped like flies.”

“Oh yeah, me and the Doctor had a fight too,” admitted Yasmin.

“What? Didn’t know you two were capable of saying anything mean to each other,” said Graham with a raised eyebrow.

“That’s the thing; these Motus, they mess with emotions. I don’t know if they’re doing it on purpose, or if it’s a side effect, but they’re definitely causing our mood swings. We need to stick together, ‘cause I’m guessing these creatures are stronger when we’re angry,” explained Yasmin.

“At least that explains one thing,” sighed Graham.

Ahead of them, another groan reminded them that they weren’t alone. Ryan was twisting and turning, trying to bring himself to open his eyes. Yasmin and Graham watched from a distance as his eyes flickered open and he coughed.

“What the hell,” Ryan grumbled to himself.

Graham shot Yasmin a glance, “I guess I’d better go and apologize, now. It got a little heated before. Wish me luck?”

Yasmin smiled reassuringly, “You’ll be fine. You go and check on him, I’ll go see how the Doctor’s doing.”

Yasmin found it was incredibly difficult to manoeuvre herself over to her friend with her hands tied in front of her. She bit her lip in concentration as she shuffled across the floor to the still form of the Doctor. She watched Ryan refuse Graham’s help when he struggled to sit up, and Yasmin was relieved she didn’t let it escalate with the Doctor, though she thought it was selfish of her to think.

“Doctor, Doctor,” Yasmin whispered, trying hard to shake the Doctor awake.

The Doctor wrinkled her nose in her sleep, and Yasmin wondered if she’d heard her. She called out her name once more, careful to not alert the Motus that they were awake, if the creatures were lurking. She saw the Doctor’s eyes flutter and watched as she threw herself to her feet, then promptly falling to the ground again. Yasmin reached out to catch her as the other woman fell back to the floor in a panic.

“Yaz-what-where-ouch,” said the Doctor in one, ragged breath.

“Take a breath, you’re alright,” soothed Yasmin.

The Doctor looked confused, and like she could still feel the pain from before, but she eased when she saw Yasmin and, after that, noticed Graham and Ryan.

“Doc, be careful!” warned Graham, who was still trying to smooth over his argument with Ryan.

“Oh! Graham! I’m glad you’re alright,” said the Doctor breathlessly, twisting around to face her companion. She’d only just noticed the bounds on her wrist and struggled against them. She couldn’t get free of them either, and pouted.

“Right back at ya,” smiled Graham.

“I’m here too,” grumbled Ryan, who had only just managed to get his bearings.

“Of course, you are! Boys, as always, good to see you. Yaz, I’m so sorry about the Motus, from experience, that was terrible. How are you feeling? Did you two get attacked too?” asked the Doctor.

“Sort of, it was more of a knock out. You two look a little worse for wear though, I’m glad your aliens went a little easier on us. You really do rub aliens the wrong way, don’t you Doc?” said Graham.

The Doctor pouted, “S’not my fault. Maybe you offended the Motus with your TARDIS piloting?”

As their voices grew louder, and the presence of the others calmed them all as they reunited, the Motus took it as their opportunity to reintroduce themselves. Yasmin heard a noise, sort of like a hiss, and then another, which was more of claws being dragged across metal. The others had heard it too and looked over to the corridor where it seemed to be coming from. There was still boot marks and trails of mud on the floor below the corridor entrance from where Graham and Ryan had been dragged through it.

The Doctor jumped to her feet, immediately guarding her friends behind her. She had impressive balance for someone who couldn’t use her hands, and it was almost like she’d had too much experience being tied up by enemies. She didn’t even wobble as she bounced on her feet, ready to again face the Motus.

Yasmin stood close behind her and Graham joined beside her after helping Ryan to his feet. She could tell their relationship was still strained and wondered how bad the Motus had affected them. Yasmin found it hard to concentrate as her body was overtaken by pins and needles. She shook her feet and her arms to free her limbs from the feeling, wondering how long she’d been lying still. Did time still flow on the TARDIS?

“Right you lot; you hurt me, you hurt my friends, and you broke into my ship. What do you have to say for yourselves?” asked the Doctor, both hands on her hips.

“Your ship is ours now.”

The voice made all of the group’s eyes widen. The voice almost sounded human, but it was deep and distorted, like it wasn’t actually coming from the Motus. It sounded like it was being whispered with hot breath straight into their ears.

“The ship most definitely is not,” argued the Doctor.

“You will hand it over,” said the Motus, all at the same time, like they had a single voice.

“She,” emphasised the Doctor, “will not be handed over to you, trust me, you wouldn’t even know how to begin piloting her. It has been thousands of years, and I still get it wrong most of the time. It’ll be much easier for you to just walk away now.”

“We already have control of your ship. We are inside the telepathy circuits,” said the Motus in a monotone.

“So, the reason we can’t move the TARDIS is because the Motus are manipulating her emotions, just like ours?” asked Yasmin.

“Afraid so, Yaz,” said the Doctor, gritting her teeth.

“They’ve got control of the TARDIS, so what are they going to do to us?” asked Graham.

“You will make us stronger,” said the Motus, simply.

The Doctor frowned, “Right, so by that I assume you mean you’ll enhance our emotions and use it until you’re powerful, and we’re weaker. You know, the most powerful human emotion is something called hope. And we’ll definitely feel hope if you open those doors and let us go.”

The Motus all tilted their heads to one side in synchronisation as they glanced at the Doctor.

“Incorrect. The most powerful human emotion is pain,” deadpanned the Motus.

The Doctor scrunched up her face in a grimace, “Well, that was worth a shot anyway.”

Ryan rolled his eyes, “Is that the best you can do, Doctor?”

“Your emotions will be our fuel. Once we have all of our energy, you will die,” said the Motus.

Yasmin tensed, and the Doctor could feel it. The time lady braced her arms back, encouraging the others to stay calm, and silent, as she stepped forward, almost touching noses with the creatures. Yasmin wanted to warn the Doctor back, but her voice failed her and she was forced to stay quiet.

“You won’t touch any of my friends, not a single hair on one of their perfect heads. Do…you…understand…me?” said the Doctor.

This time, only one of the Motus spoke, and it was the one the Doctor was closest to, “You will not stand in our way.”

“I think you’ll find getting in the way is my special skill. What kind of creatures are you, anyway? The shadows, the emotions, the manifesting, you definitely aren’t the Motus I came across before,” said the Doctor, still staring into the eyes of the Motus.

“We are the ones who hunt,” said the Motus.

The Doctor scrunched up her face, “That isn’t very reassuring.”

“You will be hunted,” said the Motus.

The Motus reached up for her head and she ducked away, afraid of the pain that would follow. It wasn’t like before, though, and it made her nervous. She felt the shadow worming into her head, and through her like it was swimming in her bloodstream. The Doctor groaned as it overwhelmed her and looked up with heavy eyes to face the Motus.

“What are you doing?” breathed the Doctor.

“Doctor!” called out Yasmin, as the Doctor’s eyebrows knitted together with a worrying face of discomfort.

The Doctor felt pins and needles creeping around her body. Her fingers felt a strange numbness, and she wiggled them to bring the feeling back. It began to cover all of her limbs and then the tingles turned to heavy aches. It felt like her body was being attacked by electricity, and the pain grew worse.

“Oh, not a huge fan of that,” hissed the Doctor.

“Hey, leave her alone!” shouted Yasmin, grabbing the Doctor and helping her stand upright.

She let out a frustrated cry when the pain escalated, and she was unable to feel anything other than the torture in her body. Graham shook her when she closed her eyes, trying to squeeze the pain away. He could feel how her body trembled.

The pain felt like a mixture of a burn and a migraine and it ate away at her as if the shadows had vicious teeth. She gritted her teeth, unable to cry out any longer. It was a relief, as her throat burned from the effort, and Graham was giving her sad, pained eyes.

Just as the Doctor felt herself growing weaker, she sat back onto the floor. The floor of her beautiful ship, which was now basked in a threatening red light that swam in and out of focus. She put her hands back to support her, but the extra weight that now rested on them made them buckle until she ended up lying on the ground.

“This is much more comfortable,” she whispered to herself as she leaned into the cold floor, letting her eyes flicker closed. Her dark lashes brushed her skin as she forced them open.

She felt the dull drum of pain through her weakened body, encouraging her eyes to close once again. The Motus still continued their attack, and she could feel them in her head like an infection. The darkness creeping in her vision confused her and she wondered if it was the threat of unconsciousness, or more shadows.

“Doctor…Doctor…come on, snap out of it, please! We need you,” came a voice from above her.

The Doctor opened her eyes curiously, very surprised that the Motus had managed to get their voice to perfectly mirror the soft, sweet voice of her friend. She found that they hadn’t managed, in fact, and she was looking into the eyes of Yasmin, with Ryan and Graham on her other side.

“Are you okay? Jesus, you scared us,” breathed Ryan.

“I’m always fine,” hissed the Doctor.

Graham insisted on helping the Doctor to her feet but the time lady sprung up herself, her knees almost buckling as she did so. She gripped onto the wall for support but still managed to stand protectively in front of Graham, Yasmin and Ryan.

“What did they do to me?” asked the Doctor, mostly speaking to herself.

“Guess these buggers don’t just enhance emotions, looks like they can turn them on too. I think they flipped your pain switch,” said Graham.

The Doctor flinched, “Yeah, they definitely flipped something. They attacked the cerebral cortex, which was somehow directed down to my limbic system. The Motus know way too much about anatomy.”

The Motus raised a hand and the Doctor flinched, but it didn’t hurt her. Instead, it extended towards the others. The Doctor called out for the creature to stop, but it ignored her. Ribbons of shadow danced around the air before settling around their waists. Yasmin squirmed slightly, and then grunted with the effort.

“What was that for?” asked the Doctor, looking at her friends.

“Doc, I can’t move,” said Graham as the shadowy bounds crept around his skin and sent a paralysis through his body like poison. Yasmin exchanged a look with Ryan, both realising they couldn’t get free either.

“We can see how you feel. Without your humans, you are weakened,” said the Motus.

“Not weakened; angry. Which is exactly what you want. Because I’m already feeling it; that anger which isn’t mine. Like an artificial anger that you’ve replaced with my own…is that how you do it? Okay, so now I’m rambling. Also panicking…great, now that’s two emotions,” said the Doctor as she paced.

The Doctor felt as though someone had knocked the wind out of her. She exhaled slowly and stopped pacing. She felt like she needed to sit down but decided perching on the floor wouldn’t be the power move she wanted to make.

In her distraction, she hadn’t noticed the Motus begin to ignore her, and make their way to the humans behind her. Even the Doctor could feel their fear, so she imagined the Motus were indulging in it.

“Don’t,” she warned, but it was weak.

The other creatures hung back but one stepped forward, as if it was inspecting the companions. Ryan and Graham refused to meet its gaze, afraid of the threatening stare. Yasmin tried to, but once it leaned closer to her face, and she could feel the heat that radiated from its body, she flinched.

“You,” whispered the Motus, which only made her shudder, delighting the creature.

“Leave her out of this!” growled Ryan as they watched the Motus taunt Yasmin.

She hadn’t been prepared for what came next. The Motus reached to the shadow that wrapped around the young woman’s waist. As its long hand came into contact with the shadowy material, it became as hot as the rest of the Motus’s body.

It didn’t seem to reach through her clothes, as the fabric stopped the material from burning her, but she’d made the mistake of wearing a t-shirt. The tanned, exposed skin of her arms was pressed against the now burning shadowed bonds and she screeched.

“Stop it, please!” she begged through a hoarse voice.

“Yaz, listen, the Motus is just attacking your pain receptors! Try and block out it out!” Yasmin heard the Doctor’s plea, but she couldn’t focus on anything except the fire seeping into her arms.

She wondered if the Doctor knew that for sure, or if she was just trying to make Yasmin feel better. Yasmin decided that, whether the pain was real or not, it still hurt more than anything she’d ever experienced. Her arm, from the bottom of her shoulder to her elbow, felt as if it was being dipped in acid.

“Make it stop!” she asked through gritted teeth.

“Your pain is enough,” said the Motus, stepping back.

Before the Doctor could ask what that meant, the Motus engulfed themselves in dark shadows, before they disappeared from in front of the eyes of the travellers. The Doctor brushed the remnants of shadow from her body as best as she could with her hands tied together.

The bounds around the waists of Ryan, Yasmin and Graham disappeared with the Motus, but the restraints on their wrists remained. The Doctor darted forward to check over Yasmin, who was slumped forward in shock.

“Are you alright? Honestly, tell me, because if you lie, I’ll be upset,” fussed the Doctor.

“Feels like someone poured boiling water on my arms, but worse” whined Yasmin.

The Doctor stroked Yasmin’s arms with her tied-together hands. She apologised when Yasmin flinched, but kept her hands on the limbs. She didn’t feel a sting when the Doctor touched her arms, if anything it was cool and soothing.

“See,” said the Doctor softly, “it wasn’t real. There’s no burns, just an attack on your brain. Just try to block it out, Yaz, I promise it’ll feel better.”

The Doctor felt guilty as she watched Yasmin look down fearfully at her arms. She relaxed only slightly when she saw that the Doctor was right.

“Still hurts though,” said Yasmin, resting her head in the Doctor’s hand when she cupped her face.

“I know it does, I’m so, so sorry,” murmured the Doctor.

“Where’d they go, Doc?” asked Graham.

“Beats me. I doubt they’ll stay away for too long though, not with me as a prisoner at least. Well, unless they haven’t learned their lesson. Are you all okay?”

“Yeah, we’re fine,” said Ryan, eyes still trained on Yasmin.

“Sit down Yaz,” encouraged the Doctor when she noticed the woman was looking pale. She looked almost like she was trying not to throw up, or pass out, but couldn’t decide which.

The Doctor guided Yasmin to the floor, helping her to settle against the TARDIS pillar, which was a struggle without any of their hands available. Yasmin could still feel the pain like it was a memory she couldn’t forget, but she was grateful she wouldn’t have to worry about infection or blood loss. That was something, she supposed.

“Maybe if they’re going to come back,” said Yasmin slowly, “we should go and find some way to escape. Maybe if we split up, it’ll be harder for the Motus to find us.”

“It’ll also be easier for the Motus to get to us. We’re stronger together, right?” answered the Doctor.

“Yaz might be right, Doc, we’re sitting ducks in the console room. At least running will give us a chance,” said Graham.

“I don’t like the idea of you all running off,” said the Doctor, fretting.

In the end, it was Yasmin who managed to convince the Doctor. She shone those wide, tear-stained eyes to the time lady and spoke with a tremble, “Please, Doctor, I can’t go through that again.”

“Okay, fine. You got me,” said the Doctor after a long hesitation.

“I suppose, Graham, running has never hurt us before. Besides, I’m getting restless standing around here anyway. Yaz, you fancy coming with me and checking the left exit?” added the Doctor.

“No, Doctor, I’d feel much better going and checking it out with Yaz. You and Graham can take the left exit, if you want,” said Ryan.

Yasmin looked from the Doctor to Graham, silently asking him for permission. He gave Yasmin a sweet smile, though she could see the hurt in his eyes, and he shrugged lightly at her. She looked at Ryan as he gave the Doctor a challenging stare. He was mixing up the usual teams, and it had definitely thrown the Doctor off.

The Doctor was very clearly not happy with giving up her duty of care for Yasmin, and Ryan for that matter, but she was too busy to deal with the bubbling tension.

“Oh…yeah Ryan, if that’s what you want. You two just look after each other, yeah? I know you will but still, it’s a very dangerous day to be in a time machine,” said the Doctor, once she’d gotten her bearings.

“Sure. We’ll do some investigating, won’t we Watson?” said Ryan as he walked over to Yasmin.

He reached down to help her up but realised he couldn’t do much without his hands. Instead, he waited for her to pull herself up. She was fine, other than the shock she was trying to shake off. Her legs felt weak, but she managed to follow him over to the corridor door.

“Oh please,” scoffed Yasmin as she held the door open for him, “you’re kidding yourself if you think I wouldn’t be Sherlock.”

“Kids,” the Doctor shook her head fondly towards Graham, “listening to them, you wouldn’t even know were in a life or death situation. Not that we’re going to die, obviously.”

Graham stared towards the door where his friends had disappeared and didn’t answer her.

“Graham,” began the Doctor, “I know you’re worried about Ryan, but he’ll come round. His emotions are all…wibbly wobbly right now, but he’ll be fine when we’re rid of those nasty creatures. A good chat with Yaz away from us might calm him down.”

“I’m just worried, Doc, ‘cause he really was mad. It didn’t matter what I told him, he’s still so angry. I’m just worried it went too far.”

“What did you even fight about, anyway?” asked the Doctor with a head tilt.

When Graham didn’t answer, the Doctor decided she knew the answer. Graham had managed to strike a nerve about Grace.

The Doctor pulled a face, “Don’t worry about it now. What do you say we go wandering, and see if we can get ourselves out of here? I’m sure I must’ve put an emergency exit or something in the TARDIS somewhere. Come help me look.”

“Yeah fair enough, Doc, let’s go,” sighed Graham, following in his friend’s footsteps as she walked towards the opposite corridor.

They made their way down the corridor, with Graham only recognising two of the rooms they passed. He knew the TARDIS moved things around all the time, and it looked as though the ship had tried to hide anything important from the Motus. It gave him hope that she’d managed to find them an escape, too.

“Do you think the TARDIS will get angry like we did and start a fire or something?” asked Graham thoughtfully.

The Doctor pouted, falling into step beside Graham, “No, she feels sad. You can hear it in her hum.”

“So not a fire, maybe a flood inside?” asked Graham, nudging the Doctor.

The Doctor gave Graham weak smile, knowing the man was trying to take her mind off things. Her worry for the younger ones, particularly Yasmin, was hard for her to ignore.

The small smile grew when Graham spoke to the TARDIS, asking for a life boat or a pair of armbands, but it faltered as soon as they turned the corner. A thick shadow, like a fog in the night, crept in by their feet. It covered their ankles and Graham slowed down, being careful not to trip.

The Doctor held out an arm to stop Graham from walking. Graham was about to ask why, but then he noticed what she had. The shadowy smoke was rising and manifesting into the shape of four creatures.

Once the Motus had fully appeared, The Doctor and Graham noticed one of the creatures held something in its clawed fist. The creature dropped it to the ground, that was now clear of shadows.

“Doc, is that…?”

“Yes, Graham,” answered the Doctor.

The thing that the Motus had dropped was a mobile phone. It was modern technology, in a silver that caught the red light of the corridor, but the interesting thing was the lock-screen. One that Graham and the Doctor were so familiar with; it was a photo of the four of them, taken by Yasmin Khan.

“The device is unimportant,” said the Motus.

The Doctor was seething, “Yes, the device is unimportant; but the hands that hold it are not. Are my friends okay?”

“That is irrelevant to us,” answered the Motus.

“It is not irrelevant to us!” said Graham, frustrated at a lack of an answer. He still didn’t get one, though.

“Your concern should be on your own wellbeing,” said the Motus.

The Motus walked forward, ignoring the protests from Graham in front of them. Instead, they formed a circle around him and reached out one hand towards him, like it was some form of ritual. Graham braced his head to the side with closed eyes, trying to protect himself from whatever was next.

The Doctor could see how he tensed, and imagined he’d be trying to fight if he could move. Or maybe that was more Yasmin’s thing, since Graham was more of a talker. Either way, Graham certainly wasn’t talking now. He couldn’t take his eyes off the Motus, and the Doctor realised with a sinking stomach that even he couldn’t find room for a joke.

Graham was surrounded by a thin veil of shadow, which made him shout in horrified surprise. The shadows lifted from his ankles to his head and he choked on it as if it was smoke. The Doctor panicked when none of the shadow touched her. The Motus were planning something. As the Doctor’s mind raced, blinked, and Graham had vanished from right in front of her eyes.

“Where did you send him!” demanded the Doctor with a shout.

“Away,” answered the Motus simply.

The Doctor stared helplessly as each of her friends were torn away from her. At least, she thought, she knew Graham was alright. In that moment, she didn’t even think about how weak her fear was making her.

Chapter Text

Ryan watched as Yasmin walked just a little bit faster than usual. He was struggling to keep up with her, and it seemed at every corner she took a larger step. He’d noticed it was one of her quirks. She’d furrow her eyebrows and talk to herself, and as she got wrapped up in mumbling and thinking she’d walk faster and faster, until Ryan had to run to keep up. He worried that she’d trip and wouldn’t be able to brace herself, as it seemed she’d forgotten the material around her wrists.

“So,” said Ryan when he caught his breath, “are you feeling any better?”

Yasmin slowed down, as if she’d only just noticed he was with her, “Oh, yeah I guess. It didn’t last long, ‘spose that’s one good thing. I can still imagine it, though.”

“Bit shook up, then?” asked Ryan, noticing how she was still determined to keep up her pace.

“You don’t have to worry about me, Watson,” smiled Yasmin, giving him a gentle, teasing nudge.

“I’m only asking, Miss Holmes, because I’ve never seen you so on edge. Actually, that’s a lie, since I still have a metal rocket imprint from that time we played Space Monopoly, but this is the first time it’s been an actual situation,” said Ryan, falling into step with her.

Yasmin sighed, “I know, I said I was sorry. But you’re right, I’m scared. I’m allowed to be scared, aren’t I? It’s not like we’re immune to being scared, just because we fight aliens and stuff.”

Yasmin stopped walking and paused, not before peering around the corner in case there was something waiting. When there wasn’t, she pressed herself against the wall, patterns of the TARDIS wall digging into her back.

Ryan chuckled at her, “Okay, so clearly you’ve learned nothing since we started travelling. It’s fine to be scared, Yaz. Besides, who’s gonna call you a coward? Kids from apartment seven ever battle shadow monsters who feed on pain? Didn’t think so, most they’ve been scared is when they got done for graffitiing their own front door.”

“Yeah, people in Sheffield won’t, but you lot might.”

Ryan shook his head, “Do ya really think any of us are braver than you? Give over, Yaz.”

Yasmin smiled softly, “I’m supposed to be the one making you feel better, but here you are.”

“I’m fine,” shrugged Ryan.

“No, you’re not. I can see the steam coming out of your ears. Do you want to talk about it?” asked Yasmin.

“Why don’t you call the Doctor, see how they’re getting on?” asked Ryan, kicking around dirt on the floor with his foot.

Yasmin dug around in her pocket for her phone awkwardly, “That was a dirty trick, Ryan. You can’t distract me forever, you’ll have to talk to me eventually.”

Ryan rolled his eyes, “Women.”

Yasmin elbowed him before she began walking again, slowing down to allow for Ryan to follow. She distractedly dialled a number into her phone but sighed heavily and put it back in her pocket, “There’s no service. That isn’t right, it’s literally a spaceship.”

“Don’t worry, we’ll upgrade your mobile when we’re safe,” said Ryan as he walked the corridors with her.

“I’m surprised the Doctor hasn’t already, considering how much she uses it,” joked Yasmin, though her eyes still darted everywhere.

“Don’t panic,” said Ryan, when a noise echoed through the ship and made Yasmin jump in fright.

“I’m not panicking,” said Yasmin in an angry whisper.

“Yeah, course not.”

Ryan practically jumped into Yasmin’s arms when the noise came again, but this time much closer. Yasmin would’ve felt smug if she wasn’t completely terrified. She felt almost suffocated when they came to a junction, wondering what was waiting for her. She squeezed her eyes closed in fear when they turned yet another winding, never ending corner.

“See,” breathed Ryan, “no reason to be scared.”

“Spoke too soon,” said Yasmin in a high-pitched squeal.

Yasmin felt the familiar sickening mixture of anger and fear when the shadows appeared in the distance like a wave. She didn’t feel herself reach for Ryan’s hoodie sleeve, but she looked down and found both her hands grasped for the fabric. Ryan helped her out by reaching for her hand. He held it, though it was hard when neither of them had great use of them, but it was a comfort for Yasmin nevertheless.

The shadows grew closer, and as they did they began to form more and more of a human body. When four Motus formed and stopped just ahead of the humans, they flinched. The Motus blinked their eyes open so that Ryan and Yasmin were forced to look into the calculating yellow.

Yasmin released her hand from Ryan’s so that she could fumble in her pocket. She didn’t have a plan, but she hoped the Doctor might. Her phone screen was still locked on the TARDIS phone’s contact, but they still didn’t have signal.

The Motus reached one horrifying hand forward and snatched the phone from out of Yasmin’s hand. She shrank back and stumbled as the shadowy fingers burned scorch marks into the metal casing.

The pair watched the Motus creep closer, both looking up to the ceiling of the TARDIS, as if pleading for her to do something. But the TARDIS could only watch as the creatures who invaded her systems haunted her two companions.

 

**

 

The Doctor had been in denial. She continued to pace around even though she could barely feel her legs underneath the tired ache and she tried hard to keep her face stern despite her body threatening to fall asleep. All she’d managed to do, much to the amusement of the Motus, was tire herself out quicker.

“Can you stop?” asked the Doctor with a heavy sigh, “I’m not going to be much fun if I’m passed out.”

“We don’t require fun,” said the Motus in her ear, “we require food.”

The Doctor wondered when she’d decided to remove all the chairs from the TARDIS. Some regenerations ago, she’d had them everywhere. Maybe her bones were frailer then, but now all she wanted was a sofa, or a chair, or even a bench to ease the exhaustion. That was what the Motus wanted though, they wanted her emotional and weak. She was certainly both.

“If you’re going to kill me, you might as well tell me what you’ve done with my mates. I want to know where they are,” said the Doctor.

“You are in no position to negotiate,” said the Motus.

The Doctor stopped walking to face them, “Fine, I guess I’m not. You could always humour me.”

The Motus hesitated for a while. The Doctor raised an eyebrow, waiting, but she’d lost her confident posture when she leaned against the wall for support. The creatures noticed this, as their eyes never left the time lady.

“We have the young ones. We will keep them,” said the Motus.

“Right, and what does that mean?” asked the Doctor with a frown, “and what have you done with them, plus Graham?”

“We will keep them, just like we will keep your ship.”

“Now,” said the Doctor, “here’s where you’ve gone wrong. Neither the TARDIS nor the crew you’ve taken hostage are a possession. They aren’t a trophy for you to keep, or to threaten me with.”

The Motus tilted their heads towards the Doctor, “Their fate will be of no consequence to you when you are dead.”

“What happens to them will always be my problem. Trust me, I’ve been dead plenty of times, so I can basically guarantee it. So, I suggest we stop chatting and you take me to see my friends, right now.”

“It makes no difference if you see them, you cannot change the process,” said the Motus.

The Doctor clapped her hands, “Exactly, no threat to you then! Now, where are they? I’m sure I can find my way back.”

“They are in the heart of the ship, which we control,” said the Motus.

“And that will be the console room, which you most definitely do not control. Shall we go then?” asked the Doctor.

The Doctor turned on her heels, ready to march the creatures back to the console room, but the Motus formed a circle around her. She winced as they all watched her with their golden eyes. She found that they didn’t attack her, though, they just let the familiar fog of shadow rise around them.

She had teleported before, of course, with all forms of devices and aliens. She compared this time to the cheap and nasty travel of a vortex manipulator, as it gave her the same angry, sick-ish feeling once they’d materialised.

She leaned over, hands on her knees, trying to steady herself. The console room was still immersed in a red warning light, which only added to her disorientation when it stung her eyes. All she saw were red spots clouding her vision for several long seconds before she straightened up.

“Couldn’t just let me walk?” she asked the Motus with a glare. They didn’t answer her.

Just behind the Motus, she saw a body lying at their feet. They glided into a perfect row on the corner of the room to allow her to see. She panicked until she saw the gentle rise and fall of breath.

The Doctor fell to the floor to crouch in front of the silver-haired, crumpled figure ahead of her. She could see Graham’s face and the peaceful expression that rested on it. She wanted to shake him awake, but she couldn’t.

“Is he okay?” the Doctor demanded, turning towards the Motus.

“He will be fine. His body is shutting down, just as yours is,” said the Motus.

“Yeah, I get it, I can feel how weak I’m getting, so poor Graham can’t be doing too well. One thing I don’t understand though, is why are you preserving Ryan and Yaz? They look fine, or as fine as they can.” Asked the Doctor.

Of course, the Doctor had noticed her two friends on the other side of the room. She had assessed them as soon as she had seen them, making sure the Motus hadn’t tortured them any further. They had the odd scratch or bruise, particularly with Yasmin’s exposed arms, but she was relieved to find they looked better than she felt.

“We told you, Doctor, we will keep them.”

Just like they had been before, Yasmin and Ryan now struggled against ribbons of shadow that wrapped around their waists. Yasmin twisted in frustration, but Ryan just stared down at Graham in fear.

“Will he be okay?” Ryan asked the Doctor, dismissing the threat posed by the Motus.

The Doctor shot him a face, “Yeah.”

“She lies,” hissed the Motus.

The Doctor screwed up her face and glared at the Motus, still perched beside Graham, who gave no indication that he was waking up. Instead, he laid in unconsciousness, unaware of the others worry for him. The Doctor knew he was feeling the same weakness that was luring her into unconsciousness, except his body had the human fragility hers didn’t.

“Uh, Doctor?” said Yasmin.

The Doctor, drawn from her thoughts, turned away from Graham to face Yasmin. There was concern creeping onto her face, and her knitted eyebrows told her something was wrong. Ryan’s face mirrored hers, too.

“Now’s not an amazin’ time Yaz, is something up?” asked the Doctor.

“Yeah, maybe. The shadows…they’re growing,” said Yasmin.

And then, the Doctor saw what she meant. It wasn’t just the Motus who grew taller and more powerful, but the shadows across their bodies grew too. The shadowy material on Yasmin and Ryan’s wrist had now reached to the middle of their palms and the shadows around their waist crept up to their chests.

“Oh, that’s new. What are you doing that for?” asked the Doctor.

“We said, we will keep them,” repeated the Motus.

The Doctor’s face dropped, “You’re a transmutation species, aren’t you?”

The Motus collectively nodded.

“What does that mean?” asked Ryan, who watched the shadows spread across his skin nervously.

“It’s when a species can adapt the DNA of a form with a similar biological structure. That’s me crossed off the list, and Graham’s in no state to become a monster. The healthy, young ones are being recruited instead, tactic of all creatures of war,” said the Doctor, turning her attention to Ryan and Yasmin.

“So, the shadows are going to…eat us? And then we become one of them?” asked Ryan.

“Not eat, Ryan, the shadow will cover your body until you suffocate and when you do, you’ll become one of them,” explained the Doctor.

“Peak,” said Ryan, his face drawn into a grimace as his lip began to tremble with nerves.

“Can they reverse it?” asked Yasmin, worriedly.

“They don’t look like they want to,” added Ryan.

“No, Ryan, they don’t, but they’re going to,” said the Doctor.

As the Doctor spoke, she could see it was getting worse. The shadow had now crept to the knuckles of Ryan’s fingers, and was at the nail of Yasmin’s. Around their waists, the shadow was rapidly approaching their necks. Yasmin strained upwards, hoping it would slow the shadow down. She felt as though she was sinking into water.

“Doctor, do something,” she begged as she felt the shadow like a suffocation.

“I’m thinking, Yaz.”

The Doctor jumped around the Motus and her friends like she was incapable of stopping. She flicked through every solution or half-formed plan in her head, scrunching up her face each time it didn’t work.

Her eyes widened when she saw the shadows possessing Yasmin and Ryan’s bodies. They were unable to move at all now; constrained against the Motus, forced to watch the frightened faces of the Doctor.

“They are ours now,” said the Motus.

“No, no, no,” growled the Doctor, “don’t you dare! You let them go now!”

In the panic, the others hadn’t noticed Graham pull himself from unconsciousness. He didn’t have the energy to sit up, so he just opened his heavy eyes and stared up at the three friends struggling above him. The Doctor could barely hold herself upright, and he could see she was in no condition to save the other two.

Though, Graham thought with a sharpness of pain in his chest, it didn’t look like there was anything to save. Neither Ryan nor Yasmin looked like they could breathe anymore, and almost all of their bodies were engulfed in shadow. It pained him to think of them as one of these emotionless, malicious shadowy aliens that scared him so much.

He tried to beg for the Doctor to save them, to somehow go back in time and help his friend and grandson, but his mouth couldn’t form the words.

“They have no time left,” said the Motus, almost like they were teasing the Doctor.

“No,” whispered Graham, as he watched the Motus claim Yasmin and Ryan as their own.

Sometimes the Doctor forgot. It was easy for her to do, after all her time remembering. She’d forgotten that sometimes, the people who die aren’t miscalculations or passing consequences, not a person to be forgotten after a week, but they’re people you can’t live without. She didn’t understand how, after being so, so careful, she’d managed to drag her friends into a danger she couldn’t save them from.

She saw the mirror of her own grief on Graham’s tired face. How could she put him through this again, after they’d both been through it before?

She knew neither herself or Graham could hold on much longer. Fear to take their eyes off Yasmin and Ryan kept them awake. She was so tired it was beginning to hurt, like she’d been jogging on the spot for weeks. She was tempted to sink down beside Graham, but she shook herself alert.

The Doctor watched in horror as a tear spilled from Graham’s cheek. She noticed his lack of energy prevented the hysterics and, for some reason, that made it even more heart breaking.

“What have you done?” hissed the Motus.

“Huh?” asked the Doctor, noticing the creatures flinch.

It was subtle at first, the Doctor and Graham hadn’t even noticed, but it caught their attention when the shadow recoiled from the young companions and they were finally able to breathe again. The Motus grew smaller as the shadow began to unwind itself from the humans’ bodies. Ryan and Yasmin coughed violently loud as the shadow crept down from their faces, to their chests, and then to their waists as it had been before.

“What’s happening?” the Doctor asked herself out loud, watching as the Motus recoiled.

Then, she grinned, “Oh! I get it. You didn’t take into account that pain isn’t the most powerful emotion. See, it’s something you lot wouldn’t understand, since there isn’t one emotion in those bodies of yours. It’s grief. And Graham and I sure are giving you enough of it.”

The shadows formed around their waists like it had earlier and their wrists were still bound, keeping them immobile, but the rest of their bodies were now free. The Doctor relaxed when Yasmin and Ryan were freed from being shadowed ghosts, even though they were still trapped. That solved one of her problems.

"Eyes bigger than your bellies, huh? Is all that difficult, delicate human emotion not going down as well as you thought it would?" asked the Doctor with a triumphant smile.

The Doctor turned her attention to her companions.

“Are you two alright?” asked the Doctor, now that they were able to talk.

“Yeah,” said Yasmin shakily.

“Who knew shadows could feel so terrible,” said Ryan, shuddering as he remembered how it took over his body like a suffocating cloak.

“They’re not literal shadows, Ryan, it’s just the shape they take,” said the Doctor, though she realised it may not be relevant when Ryan rolled his eyes.

“Look!” said Graham, interrupting them.

It was now the Motus’s turn to grow weaker as the others grew stronger. The wave of Graham’s grief had made them translucent, their disappearing claws trying to grab onto whatever they could. They smashed and riled against the console, but they were vanishing so fast that their long hands did nothing.

“Good riddance,” said Yasmin, narrowing her eyes as the last of the creatures vanished into the walls of the room.

The second the Motus had faded away, the Doctor collapsed onto the ground beside Graham. It her all of her remaining energy to scan the TARDIS and make sure it was safe. The red lighting eased, and the scan came back clear, so the Doctor exhaled. Yasmin bounced on her feet until the shadows on her waist and wrist disappeared, and then ran to crouch beside the Doctor. Ryan glanced over to his friends, but found he went straight to Graham.

“Oh, my days, I feel like we’ve been running for a month,” breathed the Doctor.

“Have we not?” grumbled Graham when Ryan managed to pull him upright.

“We did it, gang,” said the Doctor, who already looked as though she was ready to fall asleep.

“Your grief sent them away,” said Yasmin, beaming from Graham to the Doctor, “guess you both saved the day.”

“Next time you save us all, can we not nearly become alien zombies in the process?” asked Ryan.

“No promises, Ryan. Now, quick favour to ask, there’s no chance I’m getting up anytime soon, so can one of ya send us somewhere cold, just to make sure the Motus aren’t able to re-manifest,” asked the Doctor.

“Do you have the coordinates for Antarctica?” asked Yasmin as she got up from beside the Doctor and made her way towards the TARDIS console.

“Not Antarctica,” argued Ryan with a grin, “Penguin planet.”

The Doctor grinned back and agreed, “Penguin planet!”

Yasmin brought the screen towards her and sighed, “She’s already got those coordinates saved and waiting.”

Ryan smiled, “Of course she does!”

When Graham shifted beside him, Ryan had forgotten about their playful conversation. He watched the older man slowly recover from the draining of his energy. The Motus had taken a toll on both the Doctor and Graham, and the others could see the tiredness in their faces, and in their sunken eyes. Graham seemed confused, as if he was questioning why it looked like Ryan was guarding him.

Yasmin began talking to the Doctor to allow them some form of privacy, asking the woman about what made these penguins alien. The Doctor broke into a winding ramble about the species as she gestured in excitement, barely noticing the marvelled, loving expression on her companion’s face. What she did notice, however, was Ryan wrapping his jacket around Graham as the temperature of the TARDIS lowered and how he pulled his adopted grandad into a bear hug.

“Yaz, fancy carrying me out to the penguins?” asked the Doctor pleadingly, sensing that the others needed a moment.

“The penguins can wait, you need sleep,” argued Yasmin, settling down beside the Doctor as the TARDIS landed.

“If you lot go and see the penguins without me then I’m leaving you three on a planet,” threatened the Doctor.

“Wouldn’t be the first time,” quipped Graham.

The Doctor didn’t retaliate though, as she was already falling asleep, her head resting comfortably on Yasmin’s shoulder. The light snoring was inaudible over the fond teasing going on around her.

Chapter Text

“Right, where are we off to then? Because you and I both know you aren’t actually taking me to where I wanted to go. What have you got against Universe Festivals, eh? You getting too old?” said the Doctor as she danced around the TARDIS.

The Doctor had decided to go when Ryan had begun talking about intergalactic raves. She knew Graham and Yasmin would much rather visit anywhere else, but that wouldn’t stop her from borrowing some alien speakers or lights. The TARDIS had other plans, though.

The TARDIS didn’t respond to any of her pilot’s demands, taunts or pleads as she sat silent.

“I don’t like when you do this. Can’t you just listen to me just once? I get enough of this from the fam. At least you can’t wander off, I guess,” sighed the Doctor.

At the mention of the travelling family, the TARDIS hummed. With an expression of realisation, she checked the screen ahead of her. They weren’t parked on Janos, the host of the Universe Festival, as the Doctor had found out, but instead they were somewhere more familiar. Earth, Sheffield.

The Doctor had a habit of waiting for them, even when she knew they had no intention on joining her. The TARDIS herself enjoyed parking in Graham’s flat and had a fondness for his living room. Graham had cleared space for her in the corner, away from all of his breakable furniture. This is why the Doctor found it strange that the TARDIS had chosen a spot just outside of Yasmin’s building, below the stairwell that led to her apartment. She’d been graffitied once by Yasmin’s neighbours, and had refused to wait there since.

The Doctor frowned at the screen when the TARDIS revealed where they were. None of the companions were joining them today, and each instead sent her a text to check up on her, though they knew the Doctor only really replied to messages from Yasmin’s phone. They were all taking what the Doctor called a ‘human day’, one in which the Doctor couldn’t join, because her verbal boredom drove them all insane.

“Why are we here, huh? There’s no aliens in Sheffield, for now. Well, except for this one,” said the Doctor, stroking the machine in front of her.

The TARDIS hummed, but didn’t give the Doctor any answer. The Doctor knitted her eyebrows together, checking over the screen once again. She found no alert, alarm or ominous beeping that should worry her, but the TARDIS refused to budge from her spot. The Doctor sighed in exasperation, which was interrupted by a frantic knock at the door.

“Occupied,” she called out, freezing in her spot as she listened out for the source of the knocking.

The knocking ceased and was replaced by a flat hand slapping pathetically against the door of the TARDIS, waiting to be granted access. The Doctor hadn’t thought humans even used police boxes anymore, let alone with such urgency.

“Hello?” she called out again, with a strange uncertainty.

“It’s me,” came the quiet reply.

“Oh, Yaz! Sorry, wasn’t expecting you today,” said the Doctor, skipping towards the door, “I really do need to get you a key. Thing is, the TARDIS won’t give out that many spares, there was an incident once with lava. Won’t go into that now.”

She came to the door, clicking her fingers for them to open. The TARDIS did as she was told, and the doors flew open to reveal Yasmin on the other side. She was on her own, neither of the boys with her, and stood nervously in front of the other woman. The first thing the Doctor noticed the damp clothes of someone caught in the rain, and now the rain had begun to curl Yasmin’s dark hair. The Doctor felt the cold air as soon as the doors opened and saw the goose bumps and shivers creeping up her companion’s body.

Then she noticed how Yasmin wasn’t leaning forward for a hug, or even stepping through the doors. Her usual bright smile was replaced by a tightened frown, like she was holding something back. The woman had only been standing at the Doctor’s door for a second, but she knew something was definitely wrong with Yasmin Khan.

“…Come in,” said the Doctor, her own smile immediately faltering.

“Thanks,” said Yasmin, though it was too quiet to even be heard.

The Doctor shrugged her coat from her body and wrapped it around Yasmin’s shoulders. Yasmin’s freezing hands grabbed at the rainbow lining and pulled it tighter around herself to stop the shivering. She only managed to thank the Doctor with a smile.

“Why don’t you tell me what’s bothering you,” asked the Doctor, fiddling subconsciously with her suspenders, “because I know something is.”

“I just wanted to see you,” answered Yasmin, her voice cracking slightly as she trailed off.

The Doctor smiled softly, “You wanted to see me for a reason, though, right?”

Yasmin’s breathing had grown faster and shallower since entering the TARDIS. She looked like she had been caught in the head lights, and the Doctor had been the driver. She had begun to hyperventilate, and the Doctor could practically see the palpitations of her heart. It was beating like she, herself, had two of them.

“I saw, saw someone I never thought I’d see again…and it’s so stupid, but I’m so scared,” answered Yasmin, suddenly on the verge of tears.

The Doctor straightened up, alert, “Is someone trying to hurt you?”

“Not anymore,” said Yasmin, furiously wiping away a tear that had pooled under her lower eyelashes.

The Doctor watched as Yasmin tried hard to keep it together, burying herself deeper into the Doctor’s coat. Her breathing still wasn’t under control, and the Doctor worried that she’d pass out if you carried on.

“So, are you safe?” asked the Doctor with a head tilt.

Yasmin didn’t answer, though. Her breathing continued to spiral as she spoke in fragments, “She…came back to…visit family. It’s been years…I thought she’d gone until I heard her name today…”

“Yaz, Yaz, I need you to calm down. You’re panicking, yeah? It’s a panic attack, nothing to worry about. Breathe with me, okay,” said the Doctor, putting a gentle hand on either side of Yasmin’s shoulders.

Yasmin had stopped being able to focus on the Doctor has her vision spiralled; the dark spots in her eyesight had clouded the worried face of her friend. Yasmin struggled under the Doctor’s coat, the clothing that stuck to her wet body like it was suffocating her. The jumper itched and tightened against her hot-flushed body.

“I-I can’t calm down,” said Yasmin through gulping breaths.

“Okay, okay…Yaz, take a deep breath. You’re in the TARDIS, in the console room. I’m here with you, and you’re safe. Nothing can come through the doors except for you, me, Graham and Ryan.”

“I can’t,” said Yasmin again, more like a plea than anything else.

“Come on, breathe with me. That’s it…good,” said the Doctor, as soothingly as she could manage. It was hard enough for her to keep her own panic concealed.

Yasmin looked at the Doctor, taking deep breaths as the woman instructed, “I’m fine…I’m safe.”

“Of course you are, I’ve got you.”

Once Yasmin had begun to calm down, the Doctor put one hand on her forearm, gently stroking it, then the other. She was breathing like she’d just run a marathon, but it was starting to settle as she looked into the Doctor’s gentle hazel eyes. Yasmin had become dizzied and the Doctor was supporting almost all of her weight as she leaned.

“I’m fine, now, thanks,” said Yasmin once she’d managed to regain her normal breathing.

“You’re not, Yaz. Now, tell me what’s goin’ on,” asked the Doctor, her hands still holding protectively onto Yasmin’s trembling arms.

“I-I don’t know if you’ll understand,” mumbled Yasmin.

“Then show me,” said the Doctor, as if it was that simple. Yasmin watched her, trying to work out if it really was that simple to the other woman.

Wordlessly, Yasmin held out her arm. At the base of her thumb rested a thin, faded scar, one that the Doctor previously hadn’t noticed. Yasmin looked down at it subconsciously.

“This was when I tried to defend myself,” she explained, “and this one was the reason I was defending myself.”

Just above, where her arm began, was a rougher, larger scar. It had frequently been covered by sleeves, or gloves and easily hidden from the view of her family and friends. The Doctor had seen plenty of scars, her old bodies had many of them, and she knew how they came about.

“Who did it?” asked the Doctor, trying to keep her voice neutral, though it already sounded like a snarl.

Yasmin sighed, “I told you a story about her a while ago; Izzy Flint. It was back at school, I was standing around at lunch and she decided to get her mates to throw stones. The sharpest, most jagged ones they could find. Some hit me and left marks, one broke a finger. They blamed some lads, didn’t even get in trouble.”

Those two scars weren’t the only ones, though. There was a scar, one that had come from a cigarette burn, by Yasmin’s wrist. A similar looking burn scar marred her upper arm, another one hidden consciously by clothes. Each one sent painful images flashing across the Doctor’s mind, and she struggled to hide them from her already angry expression.

“How could they do that?” asked the Doctor, her voice almost a shout.

Yasmin dropped her arm to her side, “Teenagers can be just as bad as your monsters. They bullied me anyway…but it got worse when some rumours went ‘round.”

The Doctor didn’t push for more answers, about what kind of rumours had been spread around. She didn’t understand much about human socialisation, particularly teenagers, since her own species hadn’t had much time for the same drama, but Ryan had spoken to her about what he’d heard. And she didn’t like it.

“I’ve defended you lot for years, but you really are the most primitive species,” mused the Doctor, a flicker of venom on her tongue. Yasmin flinched, even though she knew the comment wasn’t directed at her.

“I was in the shops, and I turned the corner and saw her talking to her old mates. She looked at me and everything came back to me. I felt the same way I had when she’d chased me out of the same shop years ago, waiting ‘till I was outside to shout abuse. Told the shop keeper not to let people like me back inside. I felt like I was back there.”

Yasmin perched down on the single step that separated the console from the rest of the room, reaching out her legs in front of her. The Doctor could see the dirty, scuffed bottoms of Yasmin’s boots from their countless adventures.

“Do you remember,” said Yasmin quietly, “when you asked us all what we were afraid of? And Graham said spiders, Ryan said heights, and I pretended I hadn’t heard what you said?”

The Doctor nodded, “Yeah, course.”

“This is what I’m scared of. This… and her,” answered Yasmin.

The Doctor could see how scared she was, even without Yasmin’s confession. Her hands were in her lap and her head was bowed in embarrassment. It wasn’t until the Doctor put a hand on her companions’, which made the younger woman look up, that she could see the fear in Yasmin’s teary eyes.

“Come ‘ere,” said the Doctor.

The Doctor hesitated at first, knowing Yasmin already felt suffocated, but felt encouraged by the younger woman’s soft smile. She sat down beside Yasmin and turned to face her until Yasmin’s face was pressed into the time lady’s chest. The Doctor wrapped her arms around the woman and felt Yasmin’s own shaky hands on her back.

Yasmin didn’t have the scent humans usually carried, instead it was almost alien; a strange combination of jasmine, daisies, linen and faraway stars. The Doctor breathed it in as they hugged, trying to ignore the younger woman’s relentless trembling. They held their hug for longer than they usually did, and then let their hands drop to their sides, still enjoying each other’s closeness.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t know it was this bad,” said the Doctor.

“S’not your fault. It’s just…it’s so hard to forget the names, the comments, the pain and everything else they did to me. It makes me scared when I’m on duty, even when we’re on another planet. I don’t know why I let her get to me so bad,” said Yasmin miserably.

“You know, when I was a little boy, I was bullied to. Growing up too, before the Academy. They thought I’d never be a Time Lord, the other kids tried to beat it into me,” shrugged the Doctor, flushing under Yasmin’s attention now that it was her turn to be embarrassed.

“So, you’re telling me kids are terrible on every planet?” asked Yasmin, grazing over the ‘little boy’.

“You’ve seen enough planets now to know sometimes, it’s not always the aliens who cause the most harm,” answered the Doctor.

“I’ve been hurt worse by humans than I ever have by aliens,” agreed Yasmin.

“Does…anyone know about this? What happened to you, I mean?” asked the Doctor.

“Ryan and I had mutual friends growing up, he heard all about it. My parents got worried when I started coming home with cuts and bruises, but I always managed to lie my way out of a doctor’s appointment. Pretty ironic that I’m talking to a doctor now, innit?”

“Doctors can help with all sorts Yaz,” argued the Doctor, hoping her confidence would comfort them both.

The Doctor had helped Yasmin, to be truthful. Whenever she considered all the abuse that haunted her like a ghost, she’d wonder why, if she were so terrible, the Doctor would choose to travel with her. You didn’t take a terrible person across the universe, did you? She was more grateful for the Doctor than even she had thought.

Yasmin tilted her head, in a motion the Doctor could only call adorable, as she smiled fondly at the time lady. The Doctor was relieved to find her smiling again, even if it was just for a moment, as it almost made the images of her scars fade from the Doctor’s mind. She could still see pain behind Yasmin’s eyes though, and she gulped.

“I’ve got something for you,” said the Doctor, “I think it might help.”

The Doctor dashed off to the other side of the room, leaving Yasmin staring quizzically at the spot she’d ran from. She was stopped from following the Doctor by a wave of the woman’s hand, and instead just watched as she rummaged through the drawers attached to the console.

“Doctor, what are you doing?” asked Yasmin, impatiently listening to the crashes coming from the Doctor’s direction.

“Hang on, Yaz,” she called back.

“What are you up to?” asked Yasmin, cringing as something heavy fell on the ground with a thump.

“Got it,” cheered the Doctor, promptly ignoring Yasmin’s question.

She approached Yasmin, trying to supress a smile, one hand held out in front of her in a fist. The Doctor grabbed a hold of Yasmin’s own small hand and placed it over her closed fist. Yasmin looked up with wide, dark eyes as the Doctor gestured for her to open her fist. Yasmin did as she was asked and pried open the Doctor’s hand, revealing something gleaming and metallic in her palm.

Inside, Yasmin found a key. It was a simple, silver one with ‘Yaz’ engraved delicately at the base. Yasmin gently took it from the Doctor and held it in her own palm.

“What’s this?” she asked.

“Your own key. To the TARDIS. She doesn’t like me makin’ copies, but she made the exception for you. Plus, you let me in your flat all the time, and this is the closest thing I have to one,” smiled the Doctor.

“You didn’t have to,” said Yasmin, not taking her eyes from the silver in her palm.

“Course I did. Now, if you’re ever scared, or sad, and I’m not there, just hold onto the key and I’ll come running,” said the Doctor.

“Click my heels together three times and I’ll be home?” teased Yasmin with a chuckle.

“You’ll always be home here,” said the Doctor seriously.

Yasmin tucked the key away into her pocket. She placed it in the inside of her jacket, so that she was reminded it was there.

“I don’t know how you always manage to make me feel safe, alien-with-a-time-machine,” joked Yasmin, though her voice was fond and quiet.

The Doctor nudged her playfully, “Yeah you do, that’s why you came here. Now, how about you and I go to that shop of yours, you can show me your favourite Earth delicacies. Oh, do they sell Mars Bars? Love Mars Bars.”

Yasmin laughed, then frowned, “Why do you want to go to the shop? Other than for Mars Bars, of course.”

The Doctor shrugged, “We have a time machine…and your old friend has a meeting with the Oncoming Storm.”

Yasmin burst out laughing, linking her arm into the Doctor’s, “If you want to cause even a breeze, I’d change out of the suspenders and rainbows.”

The Doctor looked at Yasmin and pouted, “But you like rainbows! There’s one in your bedroom on the TARDIS.”

Yasmin nearly choked on air, followed by a heavy blush, and listened to the cheeky hum of the TARDIS around her. She glared at nothing, hoping the ship would get the message, and then watched as the Doctor skipped to the door and held it open for Yasmin. When Yasmin walked through, the Doctor absent-mindedly wrapped an arm around her.

“Thank you,” whispered Yasmin, pressing herself closer to the Doctor. The time lady hadn’t heard her though and was already half-way through a story.

“Did I ever tell you about my visit to Mars? Remind me to never take you there…”

Chapter Text

“Transylvania,” began the Doctor in an exasperated tone, “is in South Eastern Europe. Part of what you call Romania. The Castle is pretty close to the Black Sea. Am I missing anything? Oh yeah, it’s not real!”

“Come on Doctor, can it really hurt to look?” asked Ryan, his hands brought together in a begging gesture.

“To be fair to him, Doc, we’ve already landed. See, it says Romania, 1880, Earth,” read out Graham, secretly excited himself.

“Notice how it doesn’t say ‘Transylvania: Home of the Vampires’,” argued the Doctor.

Ryan ignored her. He had already dressed himself in a smart, old-fashioned grey suit, one provided by the TARDIS for their adventure, only to be told by the Doctor that the journey would be, unfortunately, an incredibly dull one. The Doctor watched as Graham fixed his own suit, happy enough to humour his grandson. Then she turned to Yasmin; who twirled in her off-the-shoulder dress, eyes bright as she looked at the blue laced sleeves.

She’d left it too late, and now the three companions were staring at her with large pleading eyes. In fairness, it had been her fault for letting them dress up, and then for telling them about the argument she’d had with Abraham Stoker about blood transfusions.

“Whatever you think you’ll find,” said the Doctor, waggling her finger in warning, “you won’t. Dracula is a story…besides, nothing that man ever wrote made much sense.”

“That’s true I guess, never did understand quite what he was trying to say,” said Ryan with a frown.

Yasmin smirked, “I don’t think that was the author’s fault, Ryan.”

“Yeah, laugh all you like, but I’m the one who gets to stake the vampires, you just get to sit around and wait to get married,” said Ryan, sticking his tongue out.

“Remember, Ryan, Jonathon would be no where without Mina,” said the Doctor.

Ryan’s eyes lit up, “I knew you’d read it, Doctor!”

“Of course I’ve read it, took me less than a day to get through all your planet’s classics. Which reminds me, wouldn’t you rather visit the Isle of Skye, or Cuernavaca, or Florence? All much less boring, and good books too,” said the Doctor.

“None of them places have vampires though, do they?”

“Ryan! No vampires! For the last time, there are no vampires in Romania,” sighed the Doctor.

Yasmin was still completely wrapped up in her costume, grinning at each detail her eyes fell on. The Doctor faltered when she saw the excitement on her face and the way her naturally curled hair bounced behind her, exposing her collarbones. She knew she’d lost the battle as soon as the younger woman spoke up.

Yasmin’s eyes sparkled, “Please, I think it could be pretty fun.”

“Alright, whatever! Seeing as we’re already at the supposed Castle. Don’t wander off too far, because I just listed some amazing places to take you. Oh, Ryan, definitely don’t go staking any of the locals,” said the Doctor.

Ryan hugged the Doctor quickly and sprinted towards the TARDIS door. The Doctor tried shouting at him, warning him that running at top speed when they could be parked anywhere was never a good idea, but he wasn’t listening. Yasmin shook her head and ran after him, letting the fabric of her dress billow out around her.

Graham hesitated, “Sounded like you aren’t coming?”

The Doctor looked up in surprise, “Oh, yeah. I’ve been to Romania plenty, I figured I’d just go for a wander or something.”

“Doc, you know something we don’t, don’t you?” asked Graham.

“Of course not,” said the Doctor, though her eyes remained focused on the ground, and she chewed at her lip.

Graham narrowed her eyes, “If you insist. I’ll go and make sure the others haven’t been eaten by wolves.”

“Yeah you go ahead, keep an eye on them,” said the Doctor distractedly.

Graham shrugged but did as he was asked and followed the trail of light-hearted arguments and laugher coming from the other side of the doors. The Doctor watched him go, not shifting from her spot. She leaned casually against the console, almost comically, until he’d closed the door behind him.

She flipped a switch on the console and ran a hand through her messy blonde hair. She wasn’t used to having longer hair, and she found she wasn’t too good at tying it up, despite Yasmin’s insistence that she’d do it. Yasmin’s intricate braids and buns had worked for a while, but the Doctor’s habit of messing it up had made it all a waste of time. Now, she’d brush her fingers through until the knots distracted her from her stress.

The screen had been running a test in the background since they’d landed. Once it had been completed, she darted over to it. Her eyebrows knitted together once she heard the dreaded alarm echo from the console.

“Dammit,” she grumbled, slamming one hand onto the console beside the screen.

The alarm grew louder and she began dancing around the TARDIS in a panic. Immediately, she remembered that the others were outside, unprotected. She drew the sonic screwdriver from her pocket like a sword and ran towards the TARDIS doors, hoping that, for once, her friends hadn’t wandered too far.

She was silently grateful when she reached the three companions, who hadn’t walked any further than the opening they had landed in. The TARDIS blended into the trees, leaving the three friends circling the trees ahead, most likely searching for vampires in the shadows.

“Fam!” shouted the Doctor in a hurry, “Back in the TARDIS now!”

Ryan rolled his eyes, “We’re not doing nothing. Transylvania is pretty boring though.”

“See I told you! Time to go,” said the Doctor, making a face when the group ignored her.

After a while, they discovered nothing sinister in the trees and grew bored, finally succumbing to the Doctor’s encouragement. They headed towards the TARDIS, and the Doctor exhaled in relief, but paused when they saw something in the distance.

“W-what’s that?” asked Yasmin nervously.

A figure stood in the cover of the woods, watching them. The Doctor immediately withdrew her sonic screwdriver, careful not to draw attention to it, and scanned whoever was looking at them.

“Oh! It’s just a human man. 40s, Romanian. Very much not a threat,” announced the Doctor, extremely grateful.

“Think he speaks English?” asked Graham.

“Oi!” came a shout from the man they’d been looking at.

The four travellers jumped in surprise as he addressed them, gesturing them forward. The Doctor took the lead, as the others were more nervous of the man with a digging fork, trowel and spade in his belt.

“Guess so,” shrugged Yasmin.

“Gardener, brilliant! They know everything,” grinned the Doctor as they approached him.

The man flashed a curious, wild glance between Ryan and Yasmin before cautiously reaching forward to shake Graham’s hand. Ryan rolled his eyes towards Yasmin, who crossed her arms over her chest and sighed.

“What brings you here, sir?” asked the man.

Graham looked to the Doctor, who encouraged him to speak, and he cleared his throat, “Just exploring the area. Would you mind telling us your name?”

“Of course, it’s Bobby.”

Graham nodded, “Bobby, good name that. I’m Graham, this is Ryan, Yaz and the Doctor.”

Bobby gave Ryan and Yasmin a polite smile, “Such exotic names. Very unusual to find a woman doctor around these parts, too.”

“It’s a name. Latest fashion in England,” shrugged the Doctor, who had been impatiently waiting for her chance to speak up.

“Interesting,” mused Bobby, before he continued, “I’d get off this property if I were you, I don’t even like being here at night. The castle at the other end of the woods…something’s not right about it.”

Ryan’s ecstatic grin confused Bobby. He shot a smug glance to the Doctor, who was entirely too focused on the woodland ahead of them. She frowned at the deep forest ahead of them, and the eerie sounds that echoed through it.

She decided, with a horrible feeling, that the castle would be a short enough walk for her friends to want to visit it. She knew even the darkness, the bright full moon and the warning from Bobby would do nothing to deter them. Humans were unstoppable, if they were curious enough. As she predicted, Ryan turned to her.

“I can’t believe the castle is real! We have to go and look for it,” Ryan exclaimed.

“It’s not a good idea,” warned the Doctor, “we’re going back to the TARDIS.”

“What? Doc, don’t be a spoilsport,” scoffed Graham, who was just as excited as Ryan was now.

“What happens if one of you get hurt, huh? It’ll be my fault,” said the Doctor.

“Doctor, honestly! It’s just a fancy castle. If we happen to see some vampires, we know what to do. But if you’re so sure they don’t exist, then what’s the harm?” asked Ryan.

“It’s not safe,” said the Doctor sternly. The guys were clearly ganging up on her, but Yasmin was quiet behind her. She’d been asking Bobby questions, mostly to watch as he squirmed, but they were both silent now. Maybe the young woman would back her up in fear of getting dirt on her beautiful dress?

The Doctor paled.

“Graham,” she asked slowly, “Ryan…where are Yaz and Bobby?”

The trowel and spade had fallen into the grass and moss below their feet. The spot where Yasmin and Bobby once stood was now empty, not even a footprint in the mud. The Doctor spun in a frantic circle, but they were nowhere to be seen.

“They were just behind us,” breathed Graham.

“Well they’re not now!” snapped the Doctor, the horribly familiar fear building with each second that she didn’t know where Yasmin was.

“They wouldn’t have gone towards the TARDIS…we would’ve noticed. They-they must have gone into the woods,” the Doctor groaned in frustration, “I told you we shouldn’t have come here!”

“Doc, you lied, didn’t you? When I asked if you knew something we didn’t. And we all know Yaz wouldn’t just walk off. So why don’t you fill us in?” asked Graham.

The Doctor’s frown deepened as she looked between the two men. Any excitement had been wiped from their faces, and now they just shuddered at the thought of Yasmin being in pain, or afraid, or bitten.

The distraction would’ve been welcome, had it not been what it was. The Doctor opened her mouth slowly, wondering how to explain to her friends what she had scanned for, but her explanation was interrupted by a high-pitched, blood-curdling scream in the near distance.

“That’s Yaz!” cried Ryan.

“I’m going. You two stay here,” barked the Doctor as she took off into the thick cover of dark trees ahead of them.

Her boots splashed into puddles, and she cringed when she heard two pairs of shoes do the same behind her. She thought about stopping to tell Ryan and Graham again to stay behind, but she couldn’t slow down. Each time she paused, Yasmin would be getting further away.

“You…don’t…have to come,” panted the Doctor as she sprinted, hearing Ryan suffer an undignified trip over some tree roots, though luckily Graham caught him.

“That’s Yaz, of course we do!” shouted Graham all in one tired breath.

The Doctor didn’t bother arguing any further, since she was in a desperate hurry, and kept a careful eye on the two friends that were still with her. Graham grumbled whenever he could about the brambles tearing up his ankles, and Ryan was slapped by nearly every tree branch they passed, but the Doctor was too focused on Yasmin to listen to their complaints, which she barely even heard.

The trees blurred into one behind her and her legs began to ache. She knew the others felt the same, as Graham had long since stopped running, and Ryan looked as though he was about to pass out. She slowed down, mostly for them, but also because she could see the thick layers of trees begin to thin.

The Doctor started to see light in between the trees, and the sunlight was finding it easier to seep through the canopies. She strained forward, again picking up pace, when she saw what looked like a wall of an old castle.

Reaching out of the cover of the tree, the Doctor became immediately disorientated. The castle, as stated in the book, was indeed above a valley. Once out of the trees, they could see that they had landed above the valley, in the middle of vast forests, only a ten minute walk from Dracula’s castle.

The castle, itself, was made from grey and white crumpling walls, with arched wooden window panes and red towers. It stood out eerily against tall trees behind it, and the others all knew what Bobby had been talking about. Stepping into the castle grounds was like stepping through a force field of strong, terrifying energy. The Doctor shuddered.

“Right, now it’s snooping time,” announced the Doctor, holding her arm back to keep the others from walking onwards.

“What if we get caught?” hissed Graham.

“We won’t. I’m going to get Yaz, and you’re waiting here. Seriously, I’m not putting any more of you in danger. Keep a look out, call Yaz’s phone if you find anything…suspicious.”

“Are we in danger here?” asked Graham.

The Doctor hesitated for a moment, “You’re in less danger here than I will be, and Yaz. And right now, that’s the only thing giving me any comfort. So be nice to me and stay safe.”

Ryan was definitely about to argue, but Graham held him back. The older man was incredibly worried about Yasmin, and the thought of letting the Doctor go in alone was sickening. But he knew himself and Ryan would, at best, hold the time lady back, and he couldn’t let his grandson get hurt. Whatever danger they were in, it frightened the Doctor, and that worried him.

“Just…be careful,” sighed Ryan, defeatedly.

Both Ryan and Graham gave the Doctor an awkward hug, demanding that she brought both herself and Yasmin back safely. They watched her move slowly into the open, looking desperately for any signs of Yasmin.

She found the back of the castle much more interesting than the front, particularly with the grated door that seemed to be bolted shut. It wasn’t made from the same beautiful, carved wood like the front door, and instead looked like it shouldn’t be there. She’d learned, from all her experience, that if it didn’t look like it belonged, then she should go through it.

“Perfect,” she grinned to herself.

Her sonic screwdriver unlatched the locks and unbolted the door with barely any effort, but the sound was loud enough to echo. The Doctor stood still, listening out for any danger but found no one seemed to hear her forcing entry. She opened the door and found a short staircase, with seven uneven steps.

The Doctor rolled her eyes when she reached the bottom of the steps, confronted by another heavy, locked door. The Doctor’s breath hitched when she saw what looked like deep scratch marks running along the wall. She unlocked the door as quietly as she could, shushing the sonic in her hand, and listened out for whatever was on the other side.

The room was hardly grand enough for a castle, with concrete flooring and bare walls, but that wasn’t the focus of the Doctor’s attention. The room was empty aside for a wooden table tilted upwards and, of course, Yasmin lying in the centre of it.

The Doctor noticed her shaking hands were bolted to the table with leather bonds, and a leather strap kept her head still. A small incision was made in her cheek, a small trace of blood beside it, but she looked otherwise unharmed.

“Yaz!” whispered the Doctor, walking into her line of vision, “Are you alright?”

“Oh, yeah, fine. He didn’t hurt me,” breathed Yasmin, “I’m glad you’re here though.”

“Always. Guess your police skills are less effective on Romanians, huh?” asked the Doctor jokily.

Yasmin frowned, though it was hard with her head kept still, “Uh, Doctor, I don’t think Bobby was exactly Romanian. Well, I suppose he is, but I don’t think he’s human.”

“Nah, I scanned him! Which reminds me, stay still,” said the Doctor, reaching for her sonic from her pocket.

She pointed it upwards, ready to free Yasmin, but her hands cramped and she hissed in pain. Then, the sonic was lifted from her hand and thrown against the wall, smashing it into pieces. The Doctor crouched to the ground, picking up the pieces with her hands. She hadn’t noticed what had caused the incident; the man standing in the doorway of the now unlocked wooden door. That was, until Yasmin whimpered.

The Doctor looked up, “Ah. Hello. Bobby, wasn’t it?”

The figure shrugged, “That’s one human name.”

The man still looked like Bobby, though strangely aged, and any humanity seemed to have disappeared. His skin paler, and eyes darker; he locked the door and stalked closer to the Doctor, stroking Yasmin’s dark hair as he passed her.

“Vampire,” hissed Yasmin, who’d be glaring at the Doctor if she’d been able to.

“For the last time Yaz,” said the Doctor, her eyes trained on Bobby, “there is no such thing as a vampire. This creature isn’t a vampire.”

Bobby stopped stalking towards the Doctor and smirked, “You speak of me like you know what I am. Care to enlighten your human friend?”

The Doctor glared at Bobby, but softened as she looked at Yasmin, “They’re called the Acuti. Ancient species from a long dead planet. It’s not true that they transform humans into vampires, but they do…bite. It establishes a connection, allows them to take over the human form, while killing the human at the same time. Bram will meet Lucia, the Acuti queen, a few years from now, and she will become Lucy.”

“You speak of our past, and of our future. What are you?” asked Bobby.

“You answered your own question there. Besides, you knew Yaz was human, and I know you can smell me too.”

Bobby smiled, “Time Lord.”

“That’s the one,” said the Doctor.

“I was planning to take the body of your fragile, youthful friend here…women are so much more delicious, but how could I possibly refuse a body older than mine? This human fool will die, but you will last forever,” said Bobby.

“What will you do when I regenerate, and you’re thrown from my new body?” asked the Doctor, with a smug smile.

“I’m willing to take that risk.”

“Right, well that narrows my ten plans down to one,” winced the Doctor.

“What’s the one?” asked Yasmin quietly.

“Really, really hope it hurts less than I think it will,” said the Doctor as Bobby began to get uncomfortably close to her.

Yasmin thrashed beside her as Bobby violently grabbed the Doctor by the throat, as if about to choke her. The Doctor let out a raspy, surprised breath, and Bobby released the pressure. His grip was stronger than a humans’ and he had already left bruising on her pale skin. She reached up to rub the marked skin but Bobby grabbed her by the wrists and held them to her sides.

“Ease up on the supernatural strength, mate,” said the Doctor with a wince.

Bobby just chuckled darkly.

“Fine. One request, though. Let Yaz go. You don’t need her, do you? Just let her run away now, and I promise she’ll never come back,” asked the Doctor.

“I will be hungry in my new form, I need to eat,” argued Bobby, which made Yasmin shrink back. The thought of the Acuti hurting, killing, Yasmin in her body made the Doctor feel a weakness in her legs and a flutter in her heart.

“Please,” whispered the Doctor.

She was ignored, though. Bobby let go of one of her wrists and used his hand to tilt her head to one side. The angle was uncomfortable, but she realised that was the last thing she had to complain about when Bobby smiled a toothy grin and revealed his pearl-white fangs.

“Brilliant,” sighed the Doctor.

“Don’t!” tried Yasmin.

Her feeble retaliation was comforting to the Doctor and appreciated despite the fact that Bobby ignored her completely. Every shout, struggle and cry she made were immediately silenced when Bobby shot Yasmin a grin, fangs bared, and her breath hitched.

Bobby’s breath was extremely unpleasant against her skin and it made her involuntarily shudder. Her feet were firmly rooted to the ground, and she knew there was no way to free herself whilst also keeping Yasmin safe.

“Ready?” whispered Bobby.

The Doctor didn’t respond, too focused on the disgusting breath growing hotter against her neck, so Bobby took her silence as a ‘yes’. He drew closer to the Doctor, who let out a quiet squeak, before she could feel his teeth in her neck.

It was exactly how she’d imagined being bitten by a vampire would feel. It was like two small knives had dug their way into the side of her neck, narrowly missing an artery. She cried out loudly when she felt the sharp sting, only growing more agonising as Bobby deepened the bite. The Doctor decided, quickly, that there was nothing romantic or exciting about it as Bram had written; all she felt was pain.

It didn’t feel like something, specifically her blood, was being taken from her body; more like something was being injected into her. It was somewhere between a drug and poison, burning through her body’s complicated system almost immediately.

She whined when it felt as though the bite was piercing her organs, melting them down like the blood currently being drained from her. Bobby’s teeth sunk deeper and his dark eyes gleamed in delight at her pain. The Doctor barely registered the frustrated shout coming from Yasmin as she staggered back.

“Doctor what’s happening!” begged Yasmin, straining against her restraints when the Doctor screamed, surprising even Bobby.

“Acuti…have always preyed on humans…they came to this planet millions of years ago. They shouldn’t take over bodies of other species…especially one with two hearts! My body is rejecting the bite.”

For a moment, Yasmin was relieved. That was until she saw the Doctor seize up and cry out in pain, and she realised that the bite wasn’t sparing the Doctor but killing her. Yasmin could barely see the Doctor with her head strapped still, but she could the older woman drop to her knees, unable to focus on keeping herself upright with the overwhelming pain.

Yasmin strained as if she would be able to pick up her friend. All she could do was listen to the pained gasps that spilled from the Doctor’s trembling lips and try to imagine that the Doctor wasn’t being tortured from the inside.

“How…disappointing. Seems we are not compatible. No matter, once you die, I will take you into the woods for the wolves. Then, I will have your youthful friend,” said Bobby.

The reminder of Yasmin, and the thought of being fed to wolves, eased the Doctor’s body from the unconsciousness it was falling into, forcing her watering eyes to stay open. She couldn’t feel much anymore, since pins and needles had taken over her body, but she still braced herself upright.

There was a noise at the door the Doctor had come through, though she barely heard it over her own pained gasps. She thought maybe she’d been making it up, some kind of delirious aural hallucination, but it caught Yasmin’s attention too. Yasmin tried hard to look towards the door, and almost cried in frustration when she couldn’t move.

The Doctor remembered that, whatever it was, she hadn’t locked the door on her way in. If she could free Yasmin somehow, she could send her friend free. As long as there wasn’t something sinister on the other side.

The door suddenly flew open, dust and dirt kicked up around the room. The impact sent Bobby recoiling back, but the Doctor didn’t have the energy to do the same. She fell to her knees, bracing her hands back to steady herself. It took her several long seconds before she had the strength to greet whatever was on the other side of the now open door.

Ryan and Graham had skidded to a halt once the door opened, almost running directly into Bobby. They shrank back as Bobby bared his bloodied fangs at them, forgetting about his prey. Ryan wasted no time throwing his rucksack from his shoulder and rooting around in it. He brought out a sharpened, wooden stake, like it had come from every vampire film ever made and threw it to Graham.

“Graham! Ryan! Thank God,” breathed Yasmin.

“Hi Yaz, you alright mate? How’s the Doctor?” asked Ryan, upon seeing how ill the woman looked.

“She needs help,” pleaded Yasmin, her voice cracking slightly.

“Lovely reunion, missed you ladies, but can we please get this over with now?” asked Graham.

It seemed that they’d already established that Graham had the strongest stomach, as he brought the stake above his head and, with only a moment’s hesitation, drove it into the heart of the Acuti.

Yasmin squeezed her eyes closed as she listened to Bobby’s dying hiss and the gurgle of blood forming in his mouth. The Doctor, who had never wanted to see such a violent act committed by her friends, struggled to keep her eyes on Graham, but she knew he needed the comfort.

The mood dispersed when Bobby faded into dark crimson ashes, which then fell into each corner of the room. It reminded them that Bobby wasn’t human, and that he was a danger. The lack of a body made Ryan much calmer and he took another stake from his bag, holding it up to Yasmin and the Doctor.

“What the hell, Ryan?” scoffed Yasmin.

Graham dropped the bloody stake and wiped his hands on his trousers. He rushed over to Yasmin, gently undoing the straps that held her in place. She had red marks on her arms, legs and forehead, and the cut on her cheek was inflamed but she was unhurt otherwise. As soon as she was free, she rushed over to the Doctor in a concerned panic.

As Bobby faded away, the hold on the Doctor did too. It was like the poisonous effect was being reversed and her body was soothed. The Doctor panted heavily, still feeling the ghost of pain like it was still there. It took Yasmin’s cool hand on her skin to remind her that the pain was easing.

“Show me your teeth,” demanded Ryan, completely enjoying his character way too much.

“What?” rasped the Doctor.

Ryan rolled his eyes, “I need to know if you’re a vampire or not.”

Yasmin put a protective hand on the Doctor’s shoulder, “They aren’t vampires Ryan. Besides, the bite was only a problem when there was a creature to take her over, which there isn’t anymore, so she’s fine.”

Graham’s eyes widened, “Oh, you got bitten?”

The Doctor swept her blonde hair to one side, revealing the drying blood caught in it, and the two deep puncture marks on her neck. Blood was still dripping from the wound, which made both Graham and Ryan wince.

“Sorry Doc, here,” said Graham sheepishly, offering his hand to help her to her feet. She nodded thankfully and stood unsteadily. Yasmin immediately placed a hand on the Doctor upon noticing how pale the woman had gotten.

“Wait,” frowned Ryan, “if they’re not vampires, how come you kill them in the same way?”

The Doctor chuckled faintly, “Ryan, what exactly wouldn’t you kill by staking it through the heart?”

Ryan shrugged, “Yeah, fair.”

“Can we please get back to the TARDIS?” asked the Doctor, putting a weak hand over the puncture marks in her neck once more blood spilled from the wound. Blood seeped in between her fingers and dripped down to her wrist before then splattering on the ground.

“Can you make it? You were…in a lot of pain, and you lost a lot of blood,” fretted Yasmin.

“Well,” said the Doctor, her voice weak, “we can’t stay here now, can we? I don’t remember Jonathon finding a bunch of quirky travellers in Drac’s castle.”

“If you didn’t look so rough, I’d say ‘I told you so’,” commented Ryan.

“I appreciate that,” said the Doctor with an eye roll, though her mouth curved upwards as she tried to supress a smile.

Graham put a firm arm around the Doctor to keep her steady, the blood of the Acuti on his shirt mixing with the Doctor’s blood as he held onto her. Though the threat to her life was gone, she was still bleeding too much for her friends’ liking.

Yasmin picked up the pieces of sonic screwdriver from the dusty floor, putting them protectively in her pocket. She knew the Doctor wouldn’t forgive her if they had to return to the castle for it. The Doctor wasn’t very aware of what was going on, though, and focused on her blurring, dizzy vision.

Graham sighed, “We’d go much faster if you carried her, Ryan. I don’t think my old bones could take it.”

Ryan bit his lip, “Can’t Yaz?”

Graham scoffed, “Yaz is tiny, and she’s had quite a shock today. Not much of a gentleman, are you son?”

“I-I’m just scared I’ll drop her, or trip, and she’ll get hurt even worse,” said Ryan quietly.

The Doctor was struggling now, but she managed to breathe, “I trust you, Ryan.”

He was convinced then, but moments later when Graham had reached forward to open the door and the Doctor’s knees had buckled, he knew he had to put his fears aside. Yasmin let out a frightened sob when the Doctor collapsed but helped Ryan to scoop her in his arms.

“Doc!” yelled Graham.

Her head lolled against Ryan’s chest and as her eyes fluttered shut, dark lashes against pale skin. Her breathing evened as she lost consciousness, and Ryan tried extremely hard not to jostle her. One of her arms hung loosely by her side and the other was wrapped around Ryan’s neck, to the extent that he could feel how cold her hands had gotten.

Graham held the door for him, then for Yasmin, both making sure Ryan was careful on the stairs. He made his way to the second door without even a stumble.

When the Doctor managed to pry her eyes open, she was still in Ryan’s strong arms. Yasmin had put a hand over the Doctor’s face to prevent it coming into contact with any dirt or branches from the woods around them. She felt Graham’s hands in her hair, awkwardly tying it back as they walked. The Doctor noticed he had also put Ryan’s jumper around her neck to try and ease the bleeding.

Her heart swelled for her family who protected her until she heard Ryan say, “Honestly, what I took from today is that vampires actually do exist. You can’t tell me that Bobby wasn’t a vampire, he’s just an alien one.”

Yasmin had just shrugged, “I mean, I guess you’re right.”

“For the last time,” murmured the Doctor with her eyes still closed, “vampires don’t exist.”

Ryan beamed down at her, “Says the 2000 year old alien who just got bitten by one.”

She buried her head into Ryan’s shoulder, letting out an aggravated groan which was drowned out by the fond laughter from her friends who walked by her side like human shields. The Doctor drifted back into unconsciousness with a smile as Graham tried out a particularly terrible Dracula impression, which resulted in embarrassed yelling from both Yasmin and Ryan.

“I vant to suck your blood,” continued Graham.

“Way too soon there, Gramps,” cringed Ryan.

“Yeah, terrible comedic timing,” agreed Yasmin.

“Alright you lot, shall we focus on the bleeding time lady instead?” grumbled Graham.

Chapter Text

His boss had driven him home in her way-too-expensive car, piling pillows into the passenger seat to make him more comfortable. She felt guilty, mostly because he’d opted not to sue her, but had offered him all the paid leave he could ask for. Unfortunately, he thought, he’d only be spending it on the sofa.

Now, Ryan was stuck listening to Ed Sheeran as his boss drove him in an awkward silence from the warehouse to his apartment. He stared out of the window so she couldn’t see how his face twisted in pain, or how tears threatened to spill from his eyes.

“Are you sure you’re alright?” asked his boss, biting her lip.

“Yeah, completely fine,” said Ryan through gritted teeth, still refusing to make eye contact with her.

She decided to leave him alone after that, focussing on the road ahead. To be fair to the older woman, she was driving extremely carefully, keeping trained eyes on the road in case she went over any potholes or bumps. Every now and again her eyes would flicker over to him, listening out with a wince for his pained groans.

As they approached his apartment, she spoke up, “Do you have anyone who can look after you? The doctor said you shouldn’t be moving around at all for at least a few days, probably weeks. I-I can probably organise something if not.”

Ryan barely listened to his boss’s ramble. He'd planned to get Graham out of the house so he could rest without being forced to play monopoly or work on his puzzles, but now he had other things on his mind. Instead, he was focused on the blue box that was parked on the curb outside his apartment building. He cringed as it came into view, already thinking about the hugs and enthusiasm he was bound to find inside. He knew there was no way of avoiding it.

Ryan shook his head, trying hard not to move, “I’ve got family, don’t worry. Just drop me here, if you like. It’s only a short walk.”

“If you’re sure. Please, call if you need anything.”

Ryan thanked her, nervously anticipating the manoeuvre from the car to the TARDIS. His boss got out of her car once she’d parked and helped him from the car. He cursed how she had one of those expensive cars that was too high from the ground. She had to practically lift him from his seat to the ground, apologising profusely as he let out a sharp cry.

“Do you need-”

“I got it, thanks,” barked Ryan once the pain had somewhat subsided.

His boss nodded sheepishly and drove off, giving him a small wave as she did so. He let his composure fall once she was out of sight, a tear springing from his eye. Ryan wiped it away furiously, taking short, deep breaths. Each time he breathed it felt like someone was punching him, and he grew winded before he’d even taken another step.

“Come on, Sinclair, it isn’t that hard. One foot, then the other,” he muttered to himself.

He stumbled over to the TARDIS, deciding the quicker he went the less it would hurt. He didn’t know if his logic was sound or not but he decided; the sooner he got the day over with, the sooner he could pass out on his sofa.

That provided motive enough for him to speed up, reaching to hold onto the TARDIS side once he reached it. He paused for a moment’s ragged, shallow breath before he was forced to face the others. He wiped his face clean of any tears he would never admit aloud were there tried his best to straighten up.

The TARDIS doors opened automatically for him, and as they did he could hear the loud, bellowing laughter coming from his three friends inside. He heard Graham’s deep chuckle, Yasmin’s snort and the Doctor’s heavy breaths in between giggles. Normally, it would be his favourite time to enter the ship, but now their good moods made his even worse.

“Hi, Ryan!” called the Doctor, a bright grin on her face as he walked through the doors.

They turned to look at him and he grew self-conscious of his walk. He kept his face as straight as possible and tried to turn his grimace into a friendly smile.

The Doctor rambled about where she wanted to take them next, and as soon as the doors closed behind Ryan she began to input coordinates into the screen. Ryan had missed her explanation of whatever planet they were heading for, but she looked extremely excited. He was almost ashamed to be in such a bad mood.

“You won’t believe what the Doctor just told us, Ryan,” laughed Yasmin, batting at Graham’s shoulder as she fought back hysterics.

Ryan tried his best to smile at their enjoyment as he shuffled over to them. Luckily, they hadn’t noticed the hiss of pain he made when it was drowned out by their laughs. Yasmin looked at him with a sparkle in her eyes. In any other circumstance, he would’ve loved it, and would definitely tease her, using her good mood to avoid a smack.

“Makes me pretty excited to see this planet, eh Yaz?” said Graham, who had found the story just as funny as Yasmin had.

Yasmin burst into laughter again, “Oh I can’t wait! We’ll see if she’s bluffing or not.”

The Doctor pressed more buttons on the console and the TARDIS whirred into action. Ryan was grateful that she had become better at piloting the ship, especially during take-off. He winced when he remembered one of their earlier trips, which had sent him flying into the glowing pillars, painfully.

“When do I ever bluff?” asked the Doctor, offence written on her face as her mouth fell open.

“That’s coming from the woman who tried to convince us that she was Doyle’s inspiration for Sherlock,” said Graham, raising an eyebrow.

“I’ll take you to meet him! You’ll see,” said the Doctor, pointing an accusatory finger.

Yasmin shook her head with a fond grin. She pulled Ryan into an excited hug to greet him properly, her laughter from before still echoing. In her good mood, she hadn’t noticed Ryan flinch as she approached him. She pulled him into their usual bear hug, only this time he let out a shout and sprang back.

Her tight grip had been too much for him to handle as it suffocated and worsened his injuries. He felt as though his body was on fire, like she was crushing it with her tiny arms. He could barely contain a scream of agony, but turned it into an angry shout instead, as if he thought that were better.

“Get away from me Yaz!” he shouted, venom in his voice. Graham’s jaw dropped, the Doctor peered round the console and Yasmin looked as if she were on the verge of tears. Ryan immediately felt bad when he was forced to confront the sadness on her face.

“O-oh…I-I’m sorry,” she stammered, eyes dropping to the ground.

“What the hell was that for son?” asked Graham, angrily standing beside Yasmin.

“I’m…sorry, but…please don’t,” breathed Ryan, another tear rolling down his cheek.

The Doctor walked in between Yasmin and Ryan, a stern look in her eyes. She took the sonic screwdriver and scanned Ryan’s entire body with it. He bit his lip, knowing he stood no chance of hiding what had happened to him.

“Where are you hurt?” demanded the Doctor.

Graham and Yasmin looked up in concern, though poor Yasmin still looked shaken.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” shrugged Ryan.

“Ryan,” said the Doctor, “you’re walking like you’re half asleep and you never, ever yell at Yasmin. We all saw how your Prank Week went, and even when you ended up wearing her dress in the middle of Victorian London, you didn’t even raise your voice. So, something is obviously wrong.”

Ryan sighed, defeated, “Alright, alright. I got into a…little accident at work. But everything’s fine, they just sent me home. Nothing to worry about.”

“Ryan, son, why didn’t you say?” said Graham as he began to fret over him.

Ryan shrugged, “Just didn’t want you lot to make a fuss. Like you’re doing right now.”

The Doctor lightly prodded Ryan’s ribs with her sonic screwdriver, frowning when he winced and shrank away. She read the sonic and found his diagnosis, which only deepened her frown.

“You’ve got two fractured ribs, and one that’s bruised. What happened to you?” cried the Doctor, hands on her hips.

“They’ve got some idiot apprentice at the warehouse. He decided it would be a good idea to drive the forklift. It fell sideways and I kinda got a bit stuck underneath. I got checked over by Matt’s girl, she’s a nurse, and she said as long as I went home I’d be fine,” said Ryan.

“Hang on, you got run over and you thought you’d just come on the TARDIS for an adventure? You’re joking, right?” scoffed Yasmin.

“Listen, it’s not as bad as it looks,” said Ryan.

“Speaking of, shirt up. Come on, show me the damage,” asked the Doctor.

“Bit weird Doc,” scoffed Ryan.

The Doctor threw up her hands in exasperation, “Ryan! My name is literally, ‘the Doctor’, let me help you! Besides, if you don’t, I’ll have Graham do it.”

Ryan rolled his eyes, “Alright, fine.”

He lifted up the shirt of his uniform, turning to the side so that the Doctor could see the extent of the damage. A large oval shaped bruise had already formed, yellow in the centre and a purplish blue surrounding it. There were various other cuts and scratches to his side, which looked almost as nasty as the bruise. Yasmin couldn’t hold back a frightened gasp.

“I didn’t think it was that bad,” breathed Graham, struggling to look at the damage that had been done.

“It doesn’t hurt that much,” said Ryan, but his face said otherwise.

The Doctor didn’t believe him, “Why didn’t you tell me sooner? If you leave it untreated, you could suffer lung problems, or damage your organs, or at least be in horrible pain. Don’t even get me started on how you’re walking about.”

“You’re not my mum, Doc,” scoffed Ryan.

“Ah, well no, but I am thousands of years older than you, so I’d say that’s close enough,” said the Doctor.

“I think he needs the Med-Bay, Doctor,” said Yasmin, who was still trembling as she worried about him.

“I’m fine. Sarah said all I needed was an ice pack, ibuprofen and some sleep. I’ve got that all handled. I’m gonna go find my bedroom and you idiots are going to stop worrying so much,” reassured Ryan.

“I just want to check you-” said the Doctor, but she was interrupted by a loud beeping from the TARDIS console.

“See, she agrees with me,” said Ryan, loud enough that they’d hear him over the noise.

“That wasn’t an agreement beep, Ryan,” said the Doctor once she’d messed around with the console, tongue out in concentration, to stop the noise it was making.

Ryan frowned, “Well, what was that then?”

“Proximity alarm. Means something’s heading for the TARDIS. We aren’t on the planet yet, so it’s probably a ship. Yaz, check the monitor for us, would ya?”

“Course,” said Yasmin, walking around the console until she found the screen which was flashing an amber light across it. A message popped up and Yasmin clicked on it, her eyebrows knitting together.

“What does it say?” asked Graham.

“It’s not a ship. It’s space junk. You know, like a tip, but floating in space,” explained Yasmin.

“Ah,” said the Doctor, scratching the back of her neck, “that’s fine. We just need to change the coordinates and get out of the way. Should be easy enough.”

“You don’t sound convinced,” said Graham.

“It should be fine, we’ll just set the coordinates for Sheffield, TARDIS has them saved, and we can get outta here. Ready Fam?” said the Doctor, as calmly as she could.

Yasmin was watching her closely. In their travels, they’d never been in the path of something this size. It wasn’t like they often collided with junk, ships or planets. She didn’t believe the calm façade on the Doctor’s face but decided the best thing she could do was hold on tighter than ever. Her arms hugged the pillar beside the console and she braced her head against it.

Graham did the same, clearly having figured out what she was doing but Ryan struggled. Now everyone knew he was injured, he took his time moving about.

“Ryan, I think you should hold on,” said Yasmin, as the TARDIS begun to shake.

“Yaz’s right,” said the Doctor, throwing her hands about the console.

“Alright, alright, give me a minute then,” mumbled Ryan, holding a hand lightly to the bruised area.

He was too slow, however, because as soon as he started to walk towards another of the room’s pillars the TARDIS began to shake more and more, making Ryan stumble. He braced a hand against the console, but he could barely hold on when the ship trembled like she was stuck in an earthquake.

“Ryan, quick!” yelled the Doctor over the new alarm that begun to ring out.

The warning came too late. The Doctor had been unable to change the path of the TARDIS and cried out in frustration. She found that, after setting the coordinates, having her actually travel would only damage her ship further. Instead, she just held on to the console and shut her eyes.

The travellers felt themselves thrown across the room when the TARDIS collided with the junk. Sparks flew and the ship herself rumbled as the others were tossed around. The lights flickered and only settled when the TARDIS eventually stabilised herself, having made her way through the rubble.

The Doctor held her head in her hand, having hit it against the console, and groaned. She was lying on the cold floor, but hadn’t lost consciousness, so considered it a win.

“Oh, I really hope she isn’t all scratched up,” she winced.

She felt herself for any scratches but found she was fine. Even her head was only lightly bruised, not taking too much of the hit. The Doctor blew a strand of blonde from her eyes and brushed the rest of her dishevelled hair back. Then, she pulled herself upright, grateful for no broken bones. She looked around to see Yasmin across the room, trying to pull herself from the floor, and Graham next to her. Ryan was sprawled out next to the TARDIS doors, and the Doctor silently thanked her for keeping them closed.

“How’s everyone? Sorry for the rough landing but at least the TARDIS managed to get herself on the right track. We should be in Sheffield any minute” said the Doctor sheepishly as she jumped to her feet.

“Fine…” grumbled Yasmin, holding her head in her hands. Graham stood up beside her, wincing at his sore body, and offered Yasmin a hand up.

“Ryan, you okay son?” asked Graham, noticing he was the only one who hadn’t dragged himself from the ground. Yasmin and the Doctor’s attention snapped over to him worriedly.

He wasn’t unconscious, but he wasn’t moving. He laid exactly where he’d been knocked off his feet. His head leant back against the ground as if he were unable to hold it up himself.

“I-I can’t move,” grunted Ryan, when he had failed to pull himself to his feet. The Doctor flashed him a concerned look before falling to his side.

“What hurts?” she asked.

“Maybe the broken ribs?” said Ryan sarcastically, holding a hand to his side with a hiss of pain.

“Well,” gulped the Doctor, “they were fractured before, but they’re definitely broken now.”

“I’m not surprised,” gasped Ryan, tears beginning to form in his eyes, no matter how hard he tried to prevent it. The Doctor put a comforting hand on his arm.

“I’m sorry, this is my fault. I had to go and make it worse, didn’t I?” said the Doctor with a guilty pout, sitting on her knees next to him.

“Don’t blame yourself,” said Ryan, though speaking hurt him even worse, “I should’ve just gone home. That’s not on you.”

The Doctor didn’t look convinced, “Come on, let’s get you to the Med-Bay. Least I can do is give you some pain killers.”

“Yeah,” breathed Ryan, “I’m not going anywhere.”

"Fine, we'll have to carry you then," shrugged the Doctor.

Ryan scoffed, "Yeah right."

“Come on, you don’t think three of us could carry you? Easy,” said Graham, as he and Yasmin walked over to where Ryan lay.

Ryan grumbled, “Please don’t.”

“Don’t be such a baby,” laughed Yasmin, “now think light thoughts for us, yeah?”

Ryan rolled his eyes, watching as the Doctor grabbed one leg, Yasmin grabbed the other, and Graham picked him up by the armpits. The boy had never looked so embarrassed as his friends struggled to their feet. Graham shot Yasmin a look when she snorted in amusement, but she saw he was smirking too.

“Okay, first corridor to my right, then down to the door on the left. Let’s go, Fam,” said the Doctor, who was already struggling to carry his weight.

They struggled together as they made their way to the corridor, the TARDIS opening the doors for them. Ryan cringed as the movement hurt his sides, and his chest, but his focus was on the humiliation of being carried by his step-grandad, best mate and an alien.

“How you doing?” asked the Doctor.

“Just great,” said Ryan, glaring when Yasmin bit back another laugh.

They reached the door to the Med-Bay, which was promptly opened by the ship. They lifted him through, though Yasmin wasn’t concentrating, and ended up hitting Ryan’s leg against the doorframe.

“Yaz, watch it! He’s got enough bruises,” said Graham when Ryan swore at her, “and Ryan, watch your mouth or we’ll drop you!”

They placed Ryan down carefully onto the hospital bed while the Doctor rushed around the room, finding painkillers, and water, and whatever else she thought he may need. Three custard creams were placed in a pile on the table beside his bed.

“Want me to fluff your pillows?” asked Yasmin with a gleam in her eyes.

“Want me to smother you with them?” asked Ryan grumpily as he swallowed the painkillers.

“Alright enough, children,” said Graham, rolling his eyes.

“You feeling alright?” the Doctor asked when she noticed Ryan’s eyes had begun to flutter closed as he settled back into the bed.

“Yeah, tired,” Ryan mumbled.

“Sleep, at least then you can’t break anything else,” said Graham.

“You guys are the worst,” he said, his voice beginning to slur.

“If we were the worst we would’ve just left you on the floor,” pointed out Yasmin, though it fell on deaf ears, since Ryan had already drifted to sleep.

Her hand drifted to his arm, “You know, I think I’m gonna stay with him…just in case he rolls onto the floor or anything.”

The Doctor smiled softly, leading herself and Graham from the room. They closed the door quietly behind them, leaving the two younger companions alone. Yasmin’s hand brushed his skin lightly, so that she wouldn’t wake him, and she watched his face fall peaceful for the first time since he’d arrived on the TARDIS earlier in the day.

She didn’t notice one of his eyes slowly pry open, or the slight smirk on his face as he watched her.

“I can move up if you want,” he murmured.

Yasmin blushed, “O-oh, thought you were asleep.”

Ryan ignored her but shuffled to the edge of the hospital bed to make room for her. It hurt his side, though the pain had mostly subsided with the drugs, but he tried not to show any sign of it to avoid Yasmin’s fretting.

She sat beside him, head leaning against the headboard, looking down to him. He was struggling to keep his eyes open, the lull of painkillers drawing him to sleep, and Yasmin laughed when he began to lightly snore.

“Don’t watch me sleep, it’s weird,” said Ryan, not opening his eyes.

Yasmin rolled her eyes and settled beside him, “I can’t promise I won’t kick you in my sleep.”

Ryan’s mouth formed a smile, one he hid from her, as he finally let himself drift to sleep. The pair fell asleep almost immediately, the chorus of their heavy breathing filling the room. At some point, his hand had found hers, and she had rested her head on his shoulder. Even in sleep she tried hard not to knock his ribs, or chest, despite her threat earlier. She figured he’d been through enough for one day.

The TARDIS dimmed the lights for them as they slept, and when the Doctor and Graham came to check on them almost an hour later, all they saw were two shadowed figures curled up together. Yasmin’s hair was sprawled out around Ryan, but he didn’t seem to mind, as one of his hands rested in the dark waves where he’d been running fingers through it.

The Doctor and Graham watched them from the door, large mugs of tea in both of their hands.

“So much for making sure he wouldn’t fall onto the floor,” whispered the Doctor in amusement.

Graham shrugged with fondness, “She would’ve probably been the one to push him anyway.”

Chapter Text

Yasmin was dragged across the dirt ground, the prison without even the comfort of a proper floor, and even her heels digging into it did nothing to slow them down. She was basically lifted from the ground anyway, held up by her armpits by two aliens either side of her, as they took her from her prison cell.

She’d spent a night in the tiny round room, barely large enough for her to lie down, staring out the primitive metal bars on one side of her cell. She supposed they weren’t completely primitive, though, since the bars hummed and sparked, threatening her with electric shocks. Yasmin felt lucky that the prisons on Earth didn’t have such horrid treatment, though she’d only ever been on the law side of a cell before.

She was dragged from her cell into the corridor, lined with other cells alike. Only two of eight of them were occupied, and each prisoner gave her a glare and a whistle when she was taken past them. They enjoyed watching each prisoner being taken from the cell, it was like a game to them. They’d count as someone was dragged past, marking the number on the wall beside them, waiting until they were the last one left.

“In there,” barked one of the aliens on her arm, unlocking the door they paused at. It looked the same as the cell from before, except it was entirely bricked up, and the closed-off room didn’t have bars. It somehow made it more menacing, as she didn’t know what waited for her on the other side.

An alien who had been walking behind them passed a bucket of water towards one of the aliens who had held her still. Some of it splashed onto her leg and she shuddered at the freezing cold water that stung her skin. The sight of the water had made her thirsty, but she was too afraid of the threat of drugs to drink it.

She was pushed forcefully into the room, the door locked quickly behind her. The two aliens stood by her side as she scanned the room, her heart beginning to pound. She wasn’t presented by the same empty room as before, as instead she was faced by what looked like an ancient dentist chair, complete with leather straps around the arms and legs.

“That’ll be your bed for a long time, best get comfy,” said the alien, gesturing to the chair with a toothy grin.

“No…” said Yasmin, though it sounded more like a plea than defiance. She was too tired to raise her voice.

“Oh, didn’t realise it was optional,” sneered the other alien. The alien shoved her onto the chair, pulling the leather straps tight around her limbs. The material burned against her skin when she tried to struggle against them.

“Now what?” croaked Yasmin.

“You will wait here. Upon careful observation, we have concluded that you will be the most useful for our research. Your friends have been declared ineffective, so have been released,” explained one of the aliens.

Yasmin’s eyes widened, “What, you just left them out in the city? They won’t last a day out there, we’ve seen how your kind treat us!”

“It’s a cheap alternative to murdering them ourselves,” claimed the alien.

Yasmin momentarily relaxed, “You’ve underestimated the Doctor though, haven’t ya? She’ll keep the others safe and come and help me. You don’t stand a chance.”

The alien smiled at her slowly, which made her shudder, “We are not ignorant. She was not the friends we were referring to.”

Yasmin frowned, “What do you mean?”

“The Doctor is not your friend. Your friends are the weak humans we’ve sent to their inevitable deaths. The Time Lord is, instead, also part of our research.”

The other of the two aliens spoke up, “The Viyans are scientists, and we wish to take the power of regeneration. You are the key to dissecting the Time Lord you call your friend.”

Yasmin huffed, “I won’t be dissecting anyone! So, you have the Doctor locked up somewhere too, then?”

The alien flicked a forked tongue, “Yes, but not for long. Thank you for the kind reminder that she needs to be checked on.”

“Wait!” called out Yasmin when the two aliens turned to the locked door, opened it, and left her tied down in the dark, cold room.

“What am I meant to do,” she said to herself, “just sit around and wait?”

She regretted thinking it, though, as that was exactly what she was forced to do. The passing of time became unbearable as she remained stuck to the horrible chair, unable to move and all alone. Every now and then she could hear footsteps on the other side of the door, or the angry shouts of prisoners down the corridor, but no one opened the door to greet her.

Yasmin grew impatient, but the fear kept her from boredom. She knew the aliens, whatever they planned to do with her, wouldn’t have kind intentions. When they did inevitably come back, they wouldn’t be providing a five-star service. She couldn’t help but worry as she wondered about the Doctor, Ryan and Graham. She hated being kept in the dark, which could be taken literally too, she thought, looking around at her cell.

“Hello?” she called out when she thought she heard a voice outside. No one responded, so she fell back into the chair, which was growing more and more uncomfortable as the minutes passed.

Yasmin let her head lull to one side. She wondered if she’d be able to get some sleep now that she wasn’t on the ground. She hadn’t had much sleep before their adventure began either, after being dragged from the night shift, and now she was worried that she’d never get a good night sleep again. She’d eventually pass out on the chair she was tied to, at the mercy of aliens.

The door opened after a key rattled around in the lock, but Yasmin didn’t bother to look up. Her head did fly up when she noticed it wasn’t just the Viyans coming to taunt her. They carried, like they had done earlier with Yasmin, the Doctor between them. They both perked up when they saw each other, especially as they were both unharmed.

“Alright, Yaz?” grinned the Doctor, “I see you’ve met these two. All fun and games, they are. Called Darn and Rakn, sound like two TV detectives, don’t they?”

“The high-spirits won’t last, Doctor,” threatened one of the aliens, one Yasmin assumed to be Rakn.

The Doctor frowned, “Yeah, about that, what’s going on?”

“They want to know about regeneration,” informed Yasmin, feeling left out as she was forced away from the action by her bounds.

“Well, I can’t help with that. Regeneration isn’t something that can be stolen or engineered. Tough luck, Viyans, you’ve chosen the wrong species to harass,” shrugged the Doctor.

“Oh, I don’t think we have. We have technologies beyond your capabilities, Time Lord. Once we have the information we need, there will be no stopping us,” said Darn.

The Doctor put her hands on her hips, “If you’re so clever, than you should know you can’t just copy a biological trait and make it into a, what, a weapon? Is that what you’re after?”

Rakn shook his head, “No, we can. We do not want a weapon, we want a revolution.”

“Right, so you’re going to attempt regeneration, which is like a fish trying to steal flight from a bird by the way, but there’s still one thing I don’t understand. Why is Yaz here? Why not send her off with the others? What do you think she can give you? I promise she’s a human,” said the Doctor, shooting a worried glance to Yasmin, who had she finally stopped struggling against the chair so that she could listen.

“We observe our prisoners carefully. Your emotions spiked most in regards to your female human friend. We will use her for interrogation, as to not harm the Time Lord,” said Darn.

The Doctor’s eyes widened, and her mouth dropped open, “Hang on, what? No, there won’t be any interrogation. You can harm the Time Lord all you want.”

Rakn shook his head, “No, we cannot. Once we are given the key to regeneration, we need you healthy so we can perform our experiments. Your friend, however, is disposable.”

“She definitely is not,” yelled the Doctor, a snarl in her voice.

Rakn ignored the Doctor and nodded towards Darn. He smirked at Yasmin but walked over to the Doctor. He lifted up a grate by the Doctor’s feet, and from inside pulled out a medieval looking chain. The Doctor gulped as the alien clasped the large, metal cuffs attached to it around her ankles, trapping her in place like an animal.

“Let me go,” she demanded coolly.

“Not until we have what we want,” said Darn.

The Doctor threw up her hands in exasperation, “Listen, you can’t have what you want! It’s impossible! Even if you did somehow figure it out, which you can’t, you’ll kill millions of your kind before you get it right.”

“That’s not of your concern,” responded Rakn.

“Well it is, since you are threatening my friend for information neither of us have,” argued the Doctor.

“We will see. Darn, go and find Guard. Bring him here and tell him we are ready,” ordered Rakn, turning towards the door.

Darn nodded obediently and unlocked the door. The Doctor struggled towards it, as if somehow, she’d be able to break free from the chains, but her attempts only wore her out. The door closed again behind Darn and the Doctor was taunted by the fact it wasn’t locked. But she looked down to her ankles, and then to Yasmin, and knew neither of them stood a chance of breaking free without the sonic screwdriver.

“You won’t tell them anything, will you Doctor?” asked Yasmin quietly.

The Doctor looked over to Yasmin, meaningfully, as if it was the first time she had properly seen her friend, “I’ll do what I have to, Yaz.”

Yasmin shook her head, “No you won’t. You said it yourself; millions of people could die. No matter what they do to me, I don’t ever want to be responsible for that. Don’t make me be responsible for that.”

The Doctor paused, “You’re telling me your life isn’t worth a million others?”

Yasmin frowned, “Of course it’s not.”

“It is to me.”

Yasmin stared, stunned, for a moment, wondering if the Doctor would really put all the lives she tried so hard to protect below her. She observed the stern, determined face of her friend and decided that she would. She opened her mouth to speak, to somehow convince the Doctor otherwise, but the door creaked open once again and captured their attention.

Darn stepped through the door, holding it open for a man who walked close behind. They locked the door, trapping the Doctor and Yasmin in the room with three angry aliens. Guard, Yasmin thinks he was called, seemed angriest of all. His green skin was marred by scars; from his forehead to his chest, and his yellow eyes looked as though they belonged to a human cat. Yasmin shrank back.

Thank you, Guard,” greeted Rakn, who too seemed scared of him.

“I enjoy my job,” shrugged Guard, stalking over towards Yasmin.

He eyed Yasmin up and down, eyes landing on her bound limbs as if it brought him pleasure. Yasmin tried not to squirm as he met her eyes.

“Pretty one,” he mused, his throw-away comment accompanied by a stroke of her arm. She tried to pull it away, and he chuckled when she remembered she couldn’t move.

“Guard, you aren’t here to make the human uncomfortable,” said Darn, rolling his eyes.

Guard smiled, “On the contrary, that’s exactly in my job description.”

The Doctor and Yasmin exchanged a glance.

“Here’s how this will work,” said Guard, “we will use a variety of techniques until you talk, Doctor. If you do not talk, we will find which method affects you the worst, and use it until your friend dies. Her suffering will be at your hands if you insist on taking your secrets to the grave, which is where you will both end up.”

“Doctor?” whimpered Yasmin, when the Doctor didn’t answer.

“You can’t,” said the Doctor, whose panic had been reaching unbearable, painful heights since Guard had entered the room. Yasmin might have, luckily, missed the large wooden box Darn had been carrying as he came back into the cell, but the Doctor hadn’t.

Rakn, ignoring the Doctor, turned to Guard, “Take what you need from Darn. Where do you wish to begin?”

Guard smiled, looking down at the large wooden bucket that had been put down at his feet, “A human method. Barbaric, but effective. Might as well use the water that the human refused to drink. We did carry it all the way from her cell.”

“What?” croaked Yasmin in fear.

Guard lifted up Yasmin’s head, but before she had a chance to cry out in surprise or protest, he placed a beige cloth around her face. It covered her nose and mouth, already making it hard for her to breathe. She heard the Doctor shout angrily, but she was too consumed in fright to notice what she said. Instead she looked up at the excited eyes of Guard.

“Sit still,” Guard ordered, and Yasmin swore she saw him lick his lips. She shuddered but did as he said.

“Okay, now the human is set up, we will ask you our first question, Doctor. How are Time Lords able to regenerate?” asked Rakn.

The Doctor shot a look at Yasmin and gulped, “Time Lords have something called a Rassilon Imprimatur. It’s a symbiotic nucleus we develop, means we can withstand the molecular stress of time travelling, allowing us to change our face in the process.”

Rakn nodded, interested, “And how do you develop it?”

“Our connection with our TARDIS.”

“So, we’re going to need to study both you and your ship, then? Tell us where it’s located so we can go and collect it,” asked Rakn.

The Doctor frowned, “Sorry, boys, I can’t. She disappeared when you surrounded us with guns. Hitting Ryan really didn’t help. She doesn’t like confrontation, see. No doubt that she’s found somewhere safe to park and is waiting for us.”

“I don’t believe you,” hissed Darn, “where is it?”

“I’ve just told you. She’s smart, and she could be anywhere,” explained the Doctor.

“Are you being uncooperative?” asked Guard from where he stood beside Yasmin, who was laid back in her chair.

The Doctor put her hands up in defence, “No, I’m not! I can’t tell you what I don’t know, even Time Lord’s aren’t that good!”

“Finally,” breathed Guard, as if he had been holding in a long anticipated breathe, “I can show you what happens when you don’t answer my friends’ questions. I’ve been waiting for this since we found you lot.”

“What are you doing?” asked the Doctor, when Darn picked up the wooden bucket from beside Guard.

But Yasmin knew what he was doing. She had seen it before, in training, and in films. They’d even gone over it in history class, and she remembered wincing at the details. Now, she was the one they had read about. He tipped her chair back, like you do when the dentist begins to check your teeth, and she was forced to stare up helplessly at the ceiling.

“Please don’t,” Yasmin begged, as if her pathetic response would be able to change her situation. All it seemed to do was encourage Guard.

“Sorry, sweetheart, but it’s my job,” shrugged Guard, without a gleam of regret or sympathy in his dark eyes.

He moved the cloth so it then covered her eyes too. The fabric was light enough that she could see a blurred shape of Guard above her, but it still weighed down on her face. She was almost glad that she could barely see the bucket of water being raised over her head, or the glee Darn was unsuccessfully hiding in his expression.

“Now, Darn,” instructed Guard.

Darn slowly tipped the bucket, much to the Doctor’s increasing distress, and allowed water to pour water onto Yasmin’s face. She squealed when the cold water attacked her face, seeping into her mouth, ears and nose.

The cloth now clung to her face as the water was slowly spilled onto it. Darn didn’t tip all of the bucket out, only a small amount at a time, and to Yasmin it felt like it would never stop. She gurgled when the water filled her mouth, as she was unable to hold her breath any longer. The water flowed constantly, and she had forgotten how to breathe. It was impossible; she was going to drown.

Then, the cloth was lifted from her face and the water stopped flowing. Yasmin threw her head up with an agonised gulp, spitting up mouthfuls of water. It burned when she breathed, and her own gulping, hoarse breaths drowned out the voices around her. She heaved, thrashing in her chair.

“Want to try again?” asked Rakn.

“I don’t have an answer! Please, leave her alone! Please, don’t do this! She doesn’t deserve this!” begged the Doctor, tears forming in her eyes as she tried to pull herself free from her restraints.

Guard tutted in amusement, turning to Yasmin, “It’s horrible, isn’t it? Your nose burning, and your throat. Your lungs are screaming at you to breathe, but you just can’t do it. It could all be over if your friend would just spare you.”

With that, the cloth was again thrown over her face, heavy with water, and the rest of the buckets contents began to spill over her face. Yasmin heard the Doctor screaming for a while, but her own whimpering and the rush of water in her ears meant she was forced to tune it out. It was for the best though, she thought, since she couldn’t bare the sound of her friend’s heart breaking.

She grunted, eventually forced to take in a breath when her lungs felt like they were on fire. The sound was strangled, and Guard must have worried that she’d die because he whipped off the cloth and put a hand up to stop the flow of water. She threw her head up, taking in short, painful breaths. Her wet hair stuck painfully to her face, and she was shaking uncontrollably, both from fear and cold.

The Doctor was screaming and she lurched forward, trying to grab either Darn or Rakn in an angry rage, but Rakn stepped towards her, just out of her grabbing hands, and smacked her across the face. She reached up to hold her stinging cheek but stopped struggling.

Yasmin wasn’t able to react to the slap, however, because she was staring blankly at her feet, still in shock. Water dripped down her head and onto her nose, and Yasmin was so cold she wondered if it would turn to icicles. Her fists balled up and she curled up in on herself in a futile attempt to preserve body heat.

Her body stopped being able to cope with the harsh combination of shock, exhaustion and freezing cold water. She could feel it shutting down when her limbs grew heavy, weighted to the chair, and she couldn’t lift her head up. Instead, she leaned into the fast-approaching unconsciousness.

“Stay awake, Yaz, please,” shouted the Doctor, fright in her trembling voice.

“Great, Guard, now we have to wait for her to wake up,” hissed Rakn.

“That’s not a problem, is it? We have other prisoners to interrogate. Besides, she has to be strong for my next trick. Say, Doctor, you don’t think your pretty little friend is afraid of needles, do you? It’s so time-consuming when they struggle,” asked Guard.

The Doctor’s heart lurched, “Don’t. I will tell you everything I know, in exchange for her.”

Guard tutted, “We’ve already tried that. You lied to us, told us you didn’t know your secrets. Let’s see if we change your mind when we’ve added even more incentive.”

“Alright, Guard, that’s enough. We will wait for the human outside, as you said, there are more criminals who need our attention,” said Rakn.

Rakn unlocked the door and stepped through it with Darn, waiting on the other side for Guard. Guard had paused to watch Yasmin, who had slipped into uncomfortable unconsciousness, as if to admire his work. Then, after a call from Rakn, followed them.

“Don’t go anywhere,” he sneered to the Doctor as he walked through the door and locked it on the other side.

“Yaz, Yaz?” called the Doctor, but she didn’t respond. Even in her sleep, she shook and frowned.

The Doctor carried on anyway, “Yaz, I’m really sorry. This is all my fault. I’m not going to let them hurt you any more though, okay? I-I’ll come up with a plan, that’s what I’m good at isn’t it? It’s what I do…”

Yasmin didn’t answer, the water in her ears making everything seem muffled, but her eyes did open slowly. They fell on the Doctor, who tried to hide her worry, but then they narrowed. She was concentrating on something, but the Doctor didn’t know what.

“W-what’s that-noise?” asked Yasmin, her eyes moving towards the door.

“What noise?” asked the Doctor, looking around wildly. She wasn’t ready for the aliens to come back yet. Neither was Yasmin.

Yasmin’s eyes closed again, and the Doctor knew she wouldn’t receive an answer. Instead, she listened out. She heard what Yaz had; a series of angry voices on the other side of the door. It sounded like an argument was taking place.

“What?” called out the Doctor in surprise.

The arguing continued, and the Doctor was sure the voices didn’t belong to the aliens who had been tormenting them. She was even more convinced when she heard a device on the other side of the door. The whirring was so familiar, and the more she listened, the more the voices became familiar too.

She didn’t have much longer to contemplate it, though, when the whirring stopped and the door clicked unlocked.

“Yaz! Doctor!” shouted Ryan as he threw open the door.

Ryan and Graham came sprinting through the door, shutting the door behind them. They were unharmed, though Graham struggled to catch his breath from the running they had been doing.

“Oh, it’s so good to see you! Are you alright?” asked the Doctor with a relieved grin.

“Yeah, yeah. We had it all under control. Let’s get you free, then, shall we?” said Ryan, tossing the sonic screwdriver to the Doctor. She pointed it to her shackles and they broke apart, freeing her legs.

“Cheers for that! Where’d you find it?” asked the Doctor.

“One of the alien’s pockets. They also had some kind of goop in it, but we thought it would be better not to ask. Not that we could, anyway,” shrugged Graham.

“That’s a story for another time. Right now, we deal with Yaz,” said the Doctor, only letting herself get distracted for a moment.

Graham jogged over to her, his eyebrows furrowing at the state of her. She was soaking wet, hair clinging to her face, with wide terrified eyes and trembles. Her skin was covered in goose-bumps, and her lips tinged blue.

“Jeez, what happened to you?” asked Graham, gently, as he tugged at the straps around her arms and legs. He winced at the red marks left behind.

“D-don’t wanna talk about it,” mumbled Yasmin, her teeth chattering.

“Just get her out of here, quickly. Where did you leave the TARDIS?” asked the Doctor with a frantic flail of her arms.

“More like; where did she leave us? She landed right by our feet, picked us up, and took us here. Looked like she had been searching for us. She’s just on the other side of the door,” explained Ryan.

“I can hear her humming…she’s scared for us,” muttered the Doctor, “as she should be. Yaz needs help. Graham, chuck her your jacket, would you?”

Yasmin was still lying on the chair, as if willing herself to stand, but her cold body didn’t have the energy. Graham shrugged off his jacket, an old fashioned bomber, and draped it around her shoulders. The Doctor did the same with her own coat, feeding Yasmin’s arms through, but she knew her companion wouldn’t warm up in the cold cell.

“I don’t think she’ll make it out the door, Doc,” said Graham, who felt her intense shivering when he put an arm on her shoulder.

Yasmin’s eyes had drooped closed, unable to remain awake as her body grew colder and colder. Graham put his other hand on her and rubbed her arms, trying to warm her up. She put one foot to the ground, and then the other, but as she shuffled off the chair her knees buckled. Graham’s arm around her waist stopped her from falling to the damp floor. He pulled her back onto the chair but wasn’t sure she’d even noticed what happened.

“What’s waiting for us on the other side?” the Doctor asked Ryan, with almost military authority.

Ryan hesitated, “Uh, we stunned three aliens. They’re not banging on the door so they’re probably still unconscious. Means they haven’t called for back-up…either that or they’re waiting to ambush us.”

“Right…either way, we can’t stay here. How did you boys stun the aliens, might be useful,” asked the Doctor.

“Actually, the sonic did it. Ryan pointed it at them in a panic, and the noise knocked ‘em out,” explained Graham.

“Alright, so they don’t like sonic noises. That’s useful. Ryan, you man the sonic, Graham, you’re on doors, and I’ll take Yaz,” ordered the Doctor.

“Are you sure this will work? She looks worse for wear as it is,” commented Ryan, shooting a glance towards Yasmin, who was already half-conscious.

“Ryan,” said the Doctor in exasperation, “if we leave her here, heat will continue to leave her body, and the cold cell will speed that up so it takes less than an hour for her to fall into a coma or die of hypothermia. Is that what you want?”

Yasmin’s eyes cracked open and she gulped, ‘Y-your bedside manner isn’t exactly going to warm me up, is it?”

The Doctor smiled fondly, “Yeah, you’re right, but the TARDIS will. Ready to go?”

Yasmin nodded. The Doctor carefully put one arm on her back and one scooped up her legs, carrying her like an injured bride in her arms. Immediately, the shivers of her body overtook the Doctor’s too, and her skin felt like ice against her own. Yasmin’s body soaked the Doctor’s clothes as freezing water dropped from Yasmin to the Doctor, and then to the floor.

“That’s it,” soothed the Doctor when Yasmin rested her head on the Time Lord’s shoulder, wrapped an arm around her neck. The cold of Yasmin’s nose against the Doctor’s neck almost made her gasp, but she didn’t want to concern her friend further. Her laboured breathing was enough for the Doctor to work out that Yasmin didn’t know how much longer she could hold on for.

“Bloody freezing,” she muttered, her words slurring.

“Just hold on, you’ll be alright,” promised the Doctor, hugging her closer to try and share her own body heat.

With Yasmin cradled protectively by the Doctor, Graham and Ryan took the lead and headed towards the door. Ryan unlocked it as quietly as he could with the sonic, tip-toeing almost comically. Graham pulled it open, cringing when it creaked.

Yasmin and the Doctor could see the TARDIS parked in between the rows of cells where Yasmin had spent the night before. She noted gravely that the cells were now empty of the last two prisoners. She presumed she’d be next on their list. The blue box gave her an instant wave of relief, and she relaxed.

“Huh, they’re still out of it. Almost scared of ya, Ryan,” commented the Doctor as they saw the crumpled forms of Darn, Rakn and Guard beneath their feet.

Ryan put his hands up in defence, “It wasn’t me, I told you, it was the sonic.”

The Doctor, Ryan and Graham winced when Yasmin’s eyes flew open and she let out a series of pained, crackled coughs. She held on tightly to the Doctor’s t-shirt, trying to soothe her burning lungs. The loud noises made the aliens stir.

“Hurry, Fam, I’ve had enough of these lot for today,” said the Doctor, ushering them towards the TARDIS.

Yasmin’s eyes fluttered shut once again, and she fell limp against the Doctor. The movement didn’t go unnoticed by the Doctor, who clicked her fingers sharply to open the TARDIS doors as they made their way towards the ship. The TARDIS seemed to be waiting for them, though, as she stopped her distressed hums, likely to soothe her passengers.

“It’s like a sauna in here,” complained Ryan, as they stepped through the TARDIS doors.

“It’s thirty degrees Celsius, just enough to warm Yaz. Ryan, go find blankets, Graham, put the kettle on,” said the Doctor.

The boys rushed off in a hurry, while the Doctor took the layers of now soaked through coats from Yasmin. She had been drifting in and out of consciousness in her friend’s arms, but now watched drowsily as the Doctor tried to warm her up.

“Did Ryan kill the aliens?” asked Yasmin, almost inaudible.

“Not quite, think it was more of an accidental knock-out,” shrugged the Doctor.

“I could’ve taken them on, easy,” mumbled Yasmin.

“I think you may have a fever,” hummed the Doctor, looking into the exhausted, blood-shot eyes of the woman in her arms.

Yasmin opened her mouth to object, but her disagreement was swiftly interrupted by a series of loud sneezes. She frowned, having already lost her own argument. The Doctor rolled her eyes.

“You get to look after me, Time Lord, I’m not dealing with the boys,” said Yasmin, though her pained throat and stuffed nose made it difficult.

As if on cue, Ryan and Graham came sprinting back into the console room, as if they had been racing, with a pile of blankets in their arms. Graham had a large mug of tea balanced on them.

“Jesus, Yaz, you sneezed so loud we could hear you from the kitchen,” said Ryan, skidding to a halt when he reached them.

“Maybe you should’ve come found us sooner if you’re gonna complain about it,” argued Yasmin, but her voice was barely more than a hoarse whisper.

Ryan stuck his tongue out at her. Then, Yasmin’s hand flew to her face when she sneezed again, louder than before. In his surprise Graham jumped, unbalancing the careful pile in his arms, and sending the mug smashing to the floor. The TARDIS beeped in protest as tea seeped into the ground.

“Oh, nice one Grandad,” scoffed Ryan.

“See what I mean?” grumbled Yasmin.

“Right, as punishment for breaking my favourite mug, you two are in charge of Yaz. Be careful, she’s sneezy,” warned the Doctor.

Yasmin reached up and smacked her, “Oi!”

“Nah she’s your problem Doc, we’re off back home. One day on that planet and I’ve never been so ready for bed and a shower,” said Graham, giving Yasmin a fond squeeze of the arm.

“Guess you’re stuck with me, then,” said Yasmin, using the blanket Ryan had thrown to her, and the warmth of the Doctor to stop her shivering.

Chapter Text

The console room of the TARDIS was quiet. The ship refused to utter even a hum, or a whir as she watched her companion. The time had come unlike how the TARDIS had been expecting it to. There was no dramatic crash as the doors swung open, the Doctor stumbling in from a strange, wild planet, no battles were won and no sacrifices were made. Instead, it was quiet.

The Doctor had fallen onto the floor of the TARDIS. The ship had long since made it a softer landing after the Time Lord’s bones had grown frailer. Her knees still bruised, though. The Doctor did not bounce to her feet, though, brushing her blonde hair back with a whimsical hand. She just settled down on the ground, letting out a stubborn and defeated sigh.

The Doctor’s hand spread out on the ground beside her, palm flat to the metal grated floor, to try and keep herself upright. She turned her head to the side, as gently as she could, to find the faint yellowish glow spilling out from underneath her hand. She pressed her hand into the ground as if she’d somehow be able to keep it there. But the yellow glow couldn’t be held back by something as fleeting as flesh and began to pool around the Doctor’s fragile body like blood.

The back of the hand had bruised like a peach and wrinkled marred the once smooth skin. She aged, of course she did, but she had never stayed in one form long enough to experience the extent of it. The Doctor supposed she had just taken a liking to this one. She hadn’t been ready to say goodbye to it.

Now, her once blonde hair was tinged with grey and reached down to her chest. Her bright hazel eyes had dimmed, losing light with each new planet she was unable to visit, each star that she would never get to watch with awe. Old age had snatched away the youthful curiosity that had come with this body, like it had always been a part of her. The Doctor stared up at the ceiling, frustration placing a lump in her throat. She wondered why she had been punished to die in her favourite body on the cold, uneven floor of her own ship, without even a single star in sight.

As if she had been listening, the doors of the TARDIS creaked open, as if they hadn’t been used in a while. The Doctor turned her head towards the door, brushing back unkept grey hair, to find she was staring out at the bright, spiralled galaxy she had grown so familiar with. She watched the clusters of stars, the hazy white light and the pale patchy glow of the Milky Way.

“It’s always so pretty, isn’t it?” whispered the Doctor, trying to ignore the anger building up when she found she didn’t have the energy to get any closer to the doors.

The TARDIS hummed in agreement.

“Can’t we make one last trip down there?” asked the Doctor, her pout just the same as it had been when she’d first regenerated. It grew when she felt the TARDIS’ disagreement.

The Doctor sighed. Who would she visit, when everyone from her beloved planet that she had treasured so close were dead? Besides, she knew she was soon to follow them. Maybe she would join them; fracture into dust and stars as their human bodies became ashes. She supposed that was a fate too kind for her, though.

The TARDIS blinked, two lights flickering above the Doctor, in annoyance. The Doctor let out a weak bitter laugh as her ship chided her self-deprecation. She would’ve thought her TARDIS would’ve been used to it by now. The Doctor shuffled back towards the console, leaning her head back against it. Her breaths grew shallower and the TARDIS must’ve noticed, because she gently closed the doors.

The light of the galaxy faded, leaving the Doctor in the dim lighting of the console room. It was a comfort, though, and the Doctor leaned into the darkness. She couldn’t bear to watch the stars anymore, she’d done that for far too long.

The Doctor’s feather-light tough grazed over the metal of the TARDIS console. It was unusually warm, like the ship was providing any comfort she could to the Time Lord’s body as it grew colder and colder. After all, they had played this game enough times to know it was drawing to its end. That, and the golden glow in which the TARDIS had grown so familiar with was beginning to seep into the machinery.

“You know,” the Doctor spoke hoarsely, “as nice as this is, it feels weird dying without humans. But at least you can repair yourself, old girl. I should probably say sorry now for the damage I’m going to do.”

The TARDIS hummed in amusement.

“Will you fix yourself up?” the Doctor murmured, “Even if I don’t come back? I’d hate for you to be found one day and look a right mess. What would that say about me?”

The Doctor stopped talking, as the rambling began to hurt her weak lungs. She couldn’t talk like she used to, not with the state of her body as it was. She found it ironic that this body of hers had once appeared to be the youngest, but she’d never felt it. Now she looked it, at least.

A cough interrupted her thoughts, one the Doctor almost couldn’t recover from. She waited until she could catch her breath, the pain in her throat building until it became hard to bare. The Doctor brought a weak hand to her throat, uncomfortable in the TARDIS’s silence.

“One more favour,” said the Doctor, in a raggedy breath, “just this once. This might be it for me, you and I both know that, so please… let me hear her voice one last time?”

The TARDIS made a noise that seemed to say, ‘Is that really a good idea, my Doctor?’ But even the ship couldn’t argue with the old, fading eyes of the Time Lord that pleaded so desperately with her. So, the ship dialled the number, placing it on speaker knowing the Doctor’s frail legs couldn’t move her, and they both waited for the answer.

“Hello?” came the answer; so youthful and so alive.

“Yaz!” cried the Doctor, trying to hide the excitement and hoarseness of her own voice.

“Everything all right Doctor?” asked Yasmin, before adding a little laugh, “You literally dropped us off an hour ago. Are you really that bored?”

“Where did we go, Yaz?” asked the Doctor, her eyes beginning to glaze over.

“Oh, you’ve just taken us to Austria. We went to Hallstatt and visited some glacier garden. Graham wanted to practice the German you’d been teaching him, but most people just spoke English anyway. Still, it was the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen! I had no idea Earth could be as wonderful as the other planets we visit, no offence of course,” said Yasmin, her smile heard through the phone.

The Doctor grinned, not noticing the water that built up in her hazel eyes, “Brilliant trip, that. It was your twentieth birthday, wasn’t it? Happy birthday, Yasmin Khan.”

Yasmin spoke softly, “Thanks, Doctor. Hey, are you okay? You sound…off? Do you need some company? I know the others are up for round two as well, if you want them too.”

“No, no,” croaked the Doctor, “you enjoy the rest of your birthday. Be good to your sister, bet she got you something awesome.”

Yasmin scoffed, “She says she contributed to the cake, but Nani has already told me she made it on her own. Still, maybe next time yeah?”

The Doctor smiled sadly, “Yeah, next time. One day, you’ll tell her all about the adventures you had and she’ll wonder why she never got you a nicer present. Wants to see the universe as much you too, but she’ll settle for the world instead.”

“You sound like you know her. Been sneaking her to the moon without me, have you?” laughed Yasmin.

“You know I’d never do that to you, Yaz.”

“I know you wouldn’t. So, when are you picking us up next? I have work tomorrow, but I’m free after that. We’ve got plenty more planets to see, my life’s only just started,” said Yasmin, her excitement evident through the phone.

A tear that had been building in the Doctor’s eye finally overflowed and spilled down her pale cheek. It dripped from her mouth, tinging her lips with salt, before dropping to the ground.

“Yes, Yaz. It is. You’re going to see so many more planets, and so many stars in so many galaxies. Some you’ll see such fantastic things, and some will get you chased by aliens, but that’s all part of it. And I’m so glad I got to share it all with you.”

“Stop talking in past tense; you’ve still got plenty to see too. How else am I going to see all these aliens and monsters you’ll get us in trouble with? Are you sure everything’s alright, Doctor?” asked Yasmin.

“Oh yeah,” said the Doctor, her voice growing quieter, “Just wanted to hear your voice, that’s all.”

“You daft old lady. I have to get ready now, Ryan is determined on taking me out before I get old. I told him I have work tomorrow but he really doesn’t care. Thinks it will be hilarious seeing me deal with parking disputes with a ‘massive stupid hangover’. Don’t know why we both put up with him,” said Yasmin.

“Because we love him,” smiled the Doctor, “he’s our fam. I hope you have the best birthday Yaz.”

“Thanks Doctor, see you soon yeah?”

The Doctor’s voice was almost a whisper now and the fond smile that had crept onto her face faltered, “Yeah Yaz, see you soon.”

Silently, the TARDIS ended the phone call, allowing Yasmin’s young bright voice echo around the console room. It brought the Doctor momentary peace, but the discomfort that crept further and further into her body. It felt suffocating, and the Doctor grew frustrated as the golden light spilled from her body like she had already died.

The golden glow surrounded her body and she held out her hand, outstretched, to watch how it trembled. She let out a gasped, pained breath, followed quickly by a cry as she felt her body shutting down. Her face twisted into a grimace, showing off the wrinkles she had gathered like they were markings of how much time she had left.

“Hurts less than last time,” she gasped, though she knew the TARDIS didn’t believe her.

In the swirls of gold that began to fill the TARDIS like smoke, the Doctor swore she saw faces so familiar to her. She saw Ryan, all grown up, one named after his mother, and the other Graham, showing them off to the TARDIS. The Doctor could still hear their laughter around the room. She saw Yasmin in her Lieutenant’s uniform, wrapping her arms around the Doctor’s once young body. She saw their last trip with Graham, in his robotic wheelchair he had insisted he hadn’t needed, which had ended up being his last day on both another planet, and Earth.

The tears fell freely now, hidden in the goldish fog, as she watched the images distort and fade away. Just like they had.

The Doctor leaned her head back against the TARDIS. She brushed the console with her hand, though it started to ache as the light surrounded it. The cool metal soothed her, as the ship had done so many times before.

Finally, after staring blankly at her beloved ship now masked in a golden hue, she allowed her heavy, tired eyes to flutter shut. She didn’t know if she’d ever be able to open them again. Instead of panicking, she found peace and allowed her hand to drop to her side. The regeneration energy that surrounded her tingled her skin, and she tried to focus on it, instead of the feeling of darkness that loomed over her.

She heard a voice, but her face didn’t move to acknowledge it. She leaned into it instead, finding it the last comfort she would hear, almost like a lullaby sung to a baby before it falls asleep. She felt the golden glow begin to reach her face, sitting on her head like a crown.

“Gold suits you, Doc,” spoke the TARDIS, in the unquestionable voice of the long-gone Graham.

“Fit for the queen of the universe, that is,” teased the TARDIS, this time in the soothing voice of Ryan.

With the last of her energy, the Doctor’s dry lips formed a loving, but weak smile.

“Goodbye,” she whispered hoarsely, her head rolling to one side as the gold wrapped itself around her.

“Goodnight, Doctor,” came the final words the Thirteenth Doctor ever heard, in the soft, kind voice that had haunted her like a ghost, as Yasmin Khan said her goodbye.

Chapter Text

Yasmin’s exposed legs, trousers rolled up to her knees, dangled against cold stone as even colder water splashed up her legs. She looked out at the darkening, gloomy sky and noticed how the once golden sand ahead of her now looked grey. The wind was less brutal than it had been earlier, so the rush of water that climbed up the wall she was perched on hadn’t reached as high as it had done that morning. She was lucky she had remained dry, unlike Ryan, who had to return to the TARDIS to change his soaked socks and jeans. Graham had followed him and convinced him to join him at a seaside pub, fancying himself more of a warm weather fellow, leaving Yasmin and the Doctor behind.

She felt a presence behind her and lifted her eyes from the murky water below her, past where her boots and socks sat beside her, to see a windswept blonde watching her from a distance. The Doctor offered a sheepish wave, approaching slowly until she dropped cross-legged beside her companion.

“You didn’t have to follow me here, you know,” commented Yasmin, her eyebrow raised in amusement had the Doctor blushed.

“Maybe we wanted to visit?” argued the Doctor.

“What could you, guardian of the universe, possibly want with somewhere like Hornsea?”

“Well,” said the Doctor slowly, “maybe Ryan, you know what he’s like, was very worried about the police investigation Graham told him about…considering how you humans like to hurt each other and begged us to come here to.”

“Ryan, of course. It isn’t a murder investigation, Doctor, it’s just a routine missing persons case. All I've been doing is searching the beach and knocking on doors. Not that I should even tell you this, but someone from near our station was reported missing, and their parents suspected a kidnapping, and said kidnapper was last spotted here. Besides, half of my team are all here too, it’s not like I was alone,” scoffed Yasmin.

The Doctor shrugged, “Still, we got a little fam bonding time out of it, didn’t we? Ryan built that amazing sand castle, and we all got ice cream!”

“You lot didn’t half embarrass me in front of my co-workers, though. Next time you feel the need to protect me, wait until I’m not on shift, yeah?”

The Doctor sighed, “Deal.”

Yasmin smiled, and was about to insist the Doctor goes back to the TARDIS so that she could apologise to her co-workers who had left her on the beach so that they could get fish and chips, when her phone rang. The Doctor went to answer it but Yasmin slapped her hand away and put her mobile to her ear.

“Hello?”

“Yaz,” came an urgent voice from the other side of the call, “are you still at the beach?”

Yasmin frowned, and it intrigued the Doctor, “Yeah I am, why?”

“Can you see a large, yacht-like boat approaching the wharf?”

Yasmin squinted, “Yeah, it looks about ten minutes away. What’s going on, Ben?”

Ben sighed, “I know you’re off duty, and I’m sorry, but just keep an eye on it. We have reason to believe that the boat belongs to Tristan James.”

Yasmin’s eyes widened, “What, the kidnapper?”

“Alleged kidnapper, yes. Don’t you dare do anything stupid, but we’re about twenty minutes out and we can’t risk him getting away. When he docks, tell whoever’s watching the wharf to stop him from leaving.”

“Okay, thanks Ben,” said Yasmin, excitement building at the responsibility. She was by far the youngest of her co-workers, and the others at Hornsea with her had at least ten years on her. They trusted her, and she couldn’t disappoint them.

Hanging up the phone, she turned to the Doctor, “I need you to park the TARDIS on the wharf.”

“Woah, you mean you want me to take you to where a kidnapper has just docked? Fat chance, Yaz,” said the Doctor.

Yasmin pouted, “If you don’t, then I’ll just have to run there and draw way too much attention to myself. I’ll end up getting into danger, or something.”

The Doctor sighed, “I’ll take you there, but if we even see this guy you’re tracking, then we’re going back to the TARDIS and I won’t let you back out again.”

“Fine,” Yasmin agreed in her urgency.

They began to sprint to the TARDIS, which wasn’t parked too far away, Yasmin leaving her socks and shoes behind. Even with the stones scraping at her feet, she had barely even noticed that she’d forgotten to put them on. She focused on running and keeping up with the Doctor, both apologising breathlessly to the people they bumped into along the way. They skidded to a halt when they reached the alleyway where the Doctor had left the TARDIS, sandwiched between a sweet shop and beach supplies store.

“Quick, set the coordinates for the wharf,” panted Yasmin, desperate to catch Tristan before he had a chance to leave again.

Silently, the Doctor obliged and the TARDIS dematerialised in seconds, seemingly acknowledging Yasmin’s desperation. They held on, Yasmin basically trembling with anticipation, until the TARDIS landed. Yasmin lunged for the doors but the Doctor grabbed her by the sleeve of her black fleece.

“I’ll be careful,” she promised as she tugged her sleeve free, but went much slower towards the door. With a reassuring glance back to the Doctor, she opened the door and poked her head outside. Her hair was still back in a, now knotted, ponytail, but wisps of hair still blew in her face as she confronted the wind.

Once she had managed to clear her vision, which had been assaulted by the wind, she noticed that the Doctor had landed them so that they were hidden behind a tall shack that stood on platform. It shielded her vision from the boat ahead, so she crouched down behind three colourful surf boards that rested against the shack. The boat, the only one docked, was the one that belonged to Tristan had been tied to the wharf, and there was no sign of him.

“I think he’s gone,” said Yasmin, who hadn’t before realised how close the Doctor had been.

“Well then,” said the Doctor, “no harm in waiting here for backup.”

“But Doctor,” said Yasmin, fully aware that she was playing the Time Lord, “this is a missing persons case we’re talking about. What if the young woman is still on the boat? We can’t risk leaving her there, she could be hurt! I need to go and have a look before he comes back.”

The Doctor sighed, “You’ll be the death of me, Yasmin Khan. You can go and investigate, but I’m coming too. As soon as we find the girl, or don’t, we’re leaving.”

Yasmin smiled warmly, “Hey, it’s not my fault you can’t resist a human in need.”

Yasmin took off towards the boat and the Doctor followed reluctantly. Yasmin was surprised to see the Doctor look so worried, considering how she was doing her job, and they’ve been stopping alien criminals for years. It scared Yasmin as she considered the thought that the Doctor was more scared of the people Yasmin encountered on Earth than those in space. She decided not to dwell on it. The Doctor had the sonic screwdriver in her outstretched hand as she caught up with Yasmin.

The boat was docked but Yasmin still wobbled against the wind as she climbed onto it. She felt the Doctor’s hand on her back to steady her, but she couldn’t help but notice how her friend’s hand trembled. She was scared for her.

Yasmin helped the Doctor onto the boat, one hand braced on the hull, “We need to be off the boat before the others get here. This is sort of breaking and entering, which isn’t approved of here.”

The Doctor waved her hand dismissively, “We’ve still got fifteen minutes before your police people even get here, nothing to worry about. Check the cockpit, and I’ll go check the cabin below. I’ll meet you back up here.”

Yasmin nodded and crept around the front of the boat. She found the cockpit, and thankfully the door was unlocked. She peered in the small room, finding nothing out of the ordinary, until she noticed that the keys were still in the boat. She frowned, deciding that it would be unlikely for Tristan to kidnap someone, and then leave them unattended with the keys.

Yasmin found the steps that the Doctor had wandered down, cringing as her footsteps echoed down into the cabin. She saw a built-in sofa, small bar and dining area, but nothing out of the ordinary. It barely even looked lived in. She frowned when she heard a noise behind her, but only realised when her heart sped up and stomach dropped that she might be in danger.

She whipped around, wondering what she could use as a weapon if needed, but was confronted by the Doctor putting a hand over her mouth.

“What-” began Yasmin, but she was interrupted by the Doctor shushing her.

Yasmin was about to question her, but the creak of the boat above paired with footsteps made her fall silent.

“Any chance that’s my lot?” asked Yasmin in a quiet whisper.

The Doctor contemplated her answer but eventually shook her head and gestured to the sonic screwdriver. Yasmin took it from her hands and checked the readings on it, “What’s this?”

“I found some hair and had the sonic do a scan. It says the girl is a form of Sensorite, born on Earth instead of the Sense Sphere. If she appears human than she must be from their future, one where they’ve advanced. I’ve heard stories from across galaxies of species evolving to look like another so that they can thrive. Any chance she was adopted? Strange features?”

Yasmin nodded, “She was adopted at a couple of months old, and her parents said she had very distinctive black eyes.”

The Doctor nodded knowingly, “That’s one mystery solved. But why would a human want to kidnap her? They’re telepaths, but there’s no way of telling if they are still able to access this, especially this girl.”

The footsteps grew louder and Yasmin gulped, “Doctor, sorry to interrupt, but I think we’d better get out of here before we get caught.”

Yasmin moved quietly towards the steps but as soon as she started moving she was thrown to one side and fell into the Doctor. Her eyes widened as she pulled herself up from the Doctor, and the panic grew until she needed the Time Lord’s hands on her shoulders to ground her.

“Doctor,” hissed Yasmin, “we’re moving!”

“Oh, that’s not good.”

Yasmin considered staying put, at least until they had docked somewhere else, but the second she heard signs of a struggle from above them, she knew herself and the Doctor wouldn’t stay put. They straightened up, body suddenly filled with tension, when they heard a frightened feminine voice from above that pierced them. Yasmin and the Doctor raced each other to the steps, both painfully aware that they didn’t have any method of attack or defence and scrambled to the girl’s aid.

The Doctor went first, unable to put Yasmin in the line of defence even despite her job, and they both reached the upper deck just in time to see that the girl had woken up and was tied by her hands and ankles in the stern of the boat. Tristan was leering over her and did so until he heard the travellers footsteps on the wooden floor.

He spun around to face them, and the look on Yasmin’s face confirmed to both her and the Doctor that this was the man they had been tracking down. And the large, dark eyes that enhanced the otherworldly look of the girl, no older than eighteen, told Yasmin that she was the girl they were looking for.

Yasmin’s face stung as the wind had picked up, and the smell of cold seawater made her eyes water. They were definitely far away from the wharf, considering how Yasmin couldn’t even see it in the distance. Wherever they were, they were in danger.

Tristan reached into his belt and withdrew a gun, one larger than Yasmin had ever seen on the force and pointed it from one woman to the other. Yasmin had never seen a gun in use, considering she had never been put into danger like this before, and felt an overwhelming fear as she stared into the barrel of the gun.

“Don’t think the police are meant to be stowing away on boats,” mused Tristan, his attention focused on Yasmin.

“Don’t think people are meant to kidnap young women, and yet here we are,” argued Yasmin, ignoring a warning look from the Doctor.

Tristan growled, “Don’t get clever.”

“I’d suggest you leave her alone,” said the Doctor.

“Or what? What were you trying to achieve by getting on my boat, anyway?” asked Tristan.

“Well, about that. Sorry to be a bother, captain, but we need to seize this vessel. If you don’t mind surrendering it, then we’ll be on our way,” said the Doctor, unfazed by the gun.

“Or how about I just kill you now? I can’t have any witnesses now, can I?”

“I was afraid you’d say that. So, here’s a warning, if you think you could kill my friend without a fight, you’d be wrong. And you don’t want to start a fight with me,” said the Doctor, her voice low and dark.

Everything that happened next, happened in slow motion. Tristan’s hand went to the trigger of his gun, and whatever confidence the Doctor had before vanished. She brought up the sonic screwdriver and released a pitch that made Tristan drop his gun in surprise, and the Doctor ran, calling for Yasmin to get the gun. She lunged for it, but Tristan recovered with enough time to punch her in the stomach.

Yasmin felt a burst of pain and stumbled, clutching at her stomach. She groaned, still feeling the impact of the blow, and it took her too long to recover from. Now Tristan had the gun, and Yasmin thought that was the end for her, but instead his attention was on the Doctor. He pointed it at the Time Lord, shooting a bullet at her. One left a hole in the hull, making Yasmin gasp in terror, but the other embedded itself in the Doctor’s arm.

“Doctor!” screamed Yasmin.

The Doctor cried out, and the force of the bullet was enough to lift her off her feet and send her plummeting off the side of the boat. Yasmin didn’t give herself a second to think as she watched the Doctor begin to sink into the water. Even in her shock, the Doctor let out a blood curdling scream as the salt assaulted her wound. Yasmin sprinted towards the Doctor, avoiding bullets as she went. She dove headfirst into the horribly cold water, reaching for her friend.

The shock of the water made Yasmin gasp, and she thrashed around until she got her bearings. Her eyes, once she had blinked out the salty water, caught sight of blonde hair fanning out into the water. The Doctor was conscious, her nose level with the water, and with Yasmin’s help was able to pull herself upwards to the surface. They both treaded water, adrenaline keeping them warm. Yasmin shrugged off her fleece, knowing it would only weigh her down, and did the same to the Doctor’s coat after retrieving the sonic screwdriver.

“You let him go,” panted the Doctor, clutching her arm.

Yasmin didn’t even notice that Tristan had steered the boat away, and it was now speeding into the distance, “I had to save you! How could that have even been a decision to you?”

Then she softened, “You need help.”

“I’ve had worse,” shrugged the Doctor, though Yasmin didn’t miss the wince, “it’s just a nick.”

Yasmin’s heart stopped. Now, with the Doctor in just a t-shirt, she could see that the bullet had gone straight through her arm, and blood was seeping into the grey water at an alarming rate. Blood loss, exhaustion and infection all ran through Yasmin’s mind.

“That is not just a nick!”

Yasmin tried to remain calm as she wondered what to do. Her hands were too cold to rip up any tough material. She remembered that she wore a vest underneath her shirt and reached for it. She tore as much off as she could and began wrapping the navy fabric around the Doctor’s arm. She flinched as Yasmin tightened the fabric, and she felt a wave of guilt.

“I’m sorry I dragged you into this,” said Yasmin, her teeth already chattering with the cold.

“Don’t be, you just wanted to help someone who needed it. Besides, I-I’m a lot less fragile than you humans, we should be worried about you.”

In truth, Yasmin’s legs were already getting tired. She tried not to show it. She wasn’t the one who had just been shot through the arm.

“It’s, what, ten degrees or something? I’ll be fine for a couple of hours, and I’ll live for a couple more as long as I don’t drown. That gives us plenty of time for a plan.”

“I’m sorry, Yaz,” was the Doctor’s only reply.

“S-so, what do we do?” asked Yasmin, painfully aware that the Doctor was already bleeding through her makeshift bandages.

“If we stay here, we’re still wasting energy. We’ll still get tired. We need to move, try and find somewhere where we can rest. Unfortunately for both of us, that means a lot of swimming,” said the Doctor, trying to hide her wince as she thought about her arm.

“I’m great at swimming, two-time champion at my secondary school, I’ll be fine,” said Yasmin, to which the Doctor smiled. Yasmin had been lying, though. She was a terrible swimmer, had been ever since a fight with her sister on holiday had left her at the bottom of the swimming pool. But she had learned since then, as part of police training, and knew she had to do everything it took to get herself and the Doctor to safety.

“Oh, me too. Was a life guard on the world’s best holiday planet when I accidently landed the TARDIS on their display,” said the Doctor, although her voice was almost drowned out by the thrashing of her legs. She had to work twice as hard to keep herself afloat.

“Let’s go, then,” suggested Yasmin, feeling her body start to crave movement so that it would be able to keep itself warmer.

The Doctor was swimming awkwardly, pulling herself forward with her uninjured arm. The other one hung limply in the water, spreading a trail of red blood behind her. Yasmin herself swam awkwardly, going from a weak doggy-paddle to freestyle as she got stronger.

“Where…are you going?” asked the Doctor, unable to navigate in her pain and disorientation.

Yasmin looked underneath the water, and then to the vast emptiness ahead of her. The sea wasn’t lifeless, it was living, and every part of it posed a threat. Even though it was her own planet, so familiar, she had never been so afraid of the unknown in her life. The other planets she had ventured through didn’t even compare to the fear she felt now. The ocean had taken the Doctor out of her element, too, and that was just as dangerous as the unknown.

“We-we just need to keep moving. The more we move, the warmer we’ll get. Maybe we can find an island, or a boat,” said Yasmin.

The Doctor nodded determinedly and carried on gliding through the water, trying hard to keep her head above water as the waves formed around them. Yasmin, too focused on the Doctor, let a wave go over her head. She coughed out water, hating how the salt stung her throat.

“You know,” begun Yasmin, her voice hoarse from the water, “Ryan and Graham will find us. They’ll know to look for the TARDIS. When they find it, they’ll be able to work out where we went.”

The Doctor’s voice was weak, “When we’re safe, we’ll be able to fly the TARDIS onto Tristan’s boat and rescue the girl.”

Yasmin nodded, though it was hard to do in the water, “We never did find out what Tristan wanted with her.”

“That’s not high up on our priorities right now, Yaz, but you know what? It doesn’t matter how long we’re stuck out here for, because now we have a reason to escape. Ryan and Graham have each other, but that girl has no one. We have to get her home.”

Yasmin was relieved to see the Doctor with some hope. She was right, though, they owed it to the girl to bring her home. She was in as much danger as they were.

“We’ll get her home,” said Yasmin as firmly as she could.

The Doctor swallowed loudly, and her eyes squeezed shut.

“Are you alright?” asked Yasmin, watching the way the Doctor’s pale hand held her bloodied arm as she swam.

She opened her eyes, “What? Oh, yeah, don’t worry about me.”

Once the Doctor had recovered she swam faster, and further, to prove her point to Yasmin. It was very unusual, and unsettling, Yasmin realised because the Doctor had always been an alien to her. Sure, she considered the Doctor to be her best friend, but the Time Lord had always been different. But now she saw the Doctor as vulnerable; a human bullet piercing her Gallifreyan skin. The reason the Doctor looked so human was because her life was in danger and, for the first time, Yasmin was seeing her at her most vulnerable.

Yasmin could see how tired the Doctor was. The colour had completely drained from her face, making the harshness of the blood even more sickening. Her body was a frightening mix of red and blue, and it made Yasmin wonder if the Doctor had just been lying when she said she was stronger than a human.

Legs kicking in a rhythm behind her, Yasmin kept propelling herself forward as she was lost deeper and deeper into her thoughts. Eventually, the squawk of a seagull above snapped her back to reality. Yasmin had almost forgotten that she wasn’t dreaming, considering how numb she felt. As she was brought back to the present, all the discomfort and pain came back with it and she clenched her teeth.

Yasmin’s vision was blurred, and she had been ignoring the faint black spots in the corners of her eyesight. She had told herself that the damage to her vision was due to the salt, but she knew that she was growing exhausted. It wouldn’t be much longer before it was gone for good. However, she strained and looked ahead, noticing the change in current, and she saw a tiny, rocky atoll in the distance. Her heart leapt as her eyes focused on it. That was all they needed to survive. She could rest, and she could tend to the Doctor as best she could.

“Look,” her voice came out tired and strangled, “all we need to do is swim another half mile. Just hold on Doctor, please, I promise I’ll get you out of this.”

She glanced back, wondering if the Doctor had even heard her above the wind, but she noticed that the Time Lord had stopped moving. Her legs still thrashed under the water, but her eyes were blank.

“Doctor?” she called, swimming rapidly to reach the Doctor.

“M’fine,” spoke the Doctor, and Yasmin wondered when her words had begun to string together.

“Did you hear me?” Yasmin asked gently.

The Doctor looked up at her with red, tired eyes, “Y-yeah.”

Yasmin was about to explain again, knowing that even the smallest bit of hope could be the difference between winning and losing, but the Doctor let out a faint sigh and her eyes fluttered closed. Her legs stopped moving and her head fell below water, causing Yasmin to scream her name in a panic. She wrapped her arms around the Doctor, pulling her up, and her eyes opened slowly again. Her legs started to work again, though much slower than before.

“We need to get you somewhere safe. Let's move,” Yasmin said, once a little bit of colour had returned to the Doctor’s face.

She knew now that she had been stupid to think hope had anything to do with their survival. Yasmin was nearing exhaustion, and she wasn’t sure if her limbs would ever work the same again. Cold burrowed into her, she could even feel it in her bones, and knew she didn’t have much longer. And even though the Doctor had insisted she was less fragile, she was most certainly on borrowed time now. If she didn’t freeze to death, she would bleed out. Yasmin looked up to the grey skies. The sun would be going down soon, that or the clouds would cover any sunlight they had left. They didn’t stand a chance if it was dark.

“I don’t know if I can,” whispered the Doctor, her hand gripping Yasmin’s arm.

“You can do this, Doctor. You’ve saved people, and worlds, and now it’s time to save yourself. Just a little longer, please.”

The Doctor groaned slightly but broke away from Yasmin and began to swim unsteadily towards the atoll. She swam in an almost zig-zag but looked stronger than she did before, so Yasmin herself swam ahead towards the atoll, barely able to convince herself to swim. She pushed ahead, swimming faster against the lure of sleep infesting her mind.

They were getting closer to the atoll, and Yasmin could see it clearly now. It was rocky and mossy with waves crashing against it, but it was salvation to her. It meant she could finally give up, for just long enough until her body recovers.

“Yaz,” came a gasp from behind her, and Yasmin spun around in the water to find that the Doctor had fallen significantly behind.

“Doctor?” Yasmin asked nervously, noticing how the Doctor’s limbs had stopped cooperating. They had started to stiffen, Yasmin could see that, and her arm has completely bleed through the fabric.

“You okay?”

The Doctor didn’t respond. Yasmin began to panic when the Doctor’s hand reached out, in a heart breaking final plea, and her eyes rolled back. Whatever had kept the Doctor afloat had disappeared with her consciousness and she sunk down into the depths of the ocean, leaving blood in her place.

“Doctor!” screamed Yasmin, thrashing towards her as she forgot all about her own exhaustion.

Yasmin took one deep breath before she dived down under the water. It was too murky for her to see properly, but luckily, she caught sight of red and blonde falling down through the water. She kicked her legs and managed to catch up with the Doctor. Her lungs were screaming for her to return to the surface, and the black spots in her vision grew more intense but she shook it away as her hand wrapped around the Doctor’s wrist, careful to pull her up by her uninjured arm. Yasmin wasn’t particularly strong, but the weightlessness of being in water meant it was easier for her to get them both to the surface.

With a splutter of coughs and gasps, Yasmin broke through to the surface of the water. She worried when she couldn’t hear anything from the Doctor. She looked over and saw that the Doctor was still unconscious, her pale face looking up at the darkening sky. Yasmin grabbed the Doctor’s face, slapping it gently to wake her up.

“Doctor, wake up! Come on! I need you!” but the Doctor didn’t show any signs of regaining consciousness. Yasmin put two fingers to the Time Lord’s neck, and her eyebrows furrowed when she realised how sluggish her heart rate was, even for someone with two hearts.

“Okay,” Yasmin said to herself, “just me then. I’ll get you out of here.”

Yasmin struggled for a moment, but eventually managed to wrap one arm around the Doctor’s waist so that she floated above water behind her. Without wasting any more time, she began to swim herself and the Doctor towards the atoll. With a grunt, Yasmin realised how hard it must’ve been for the Doctor to swim with only one arm. No wonder she couldn’t go on any longer.

The water became harder to swim in as they got closer to the atoll. With the added effort of dragging the Doctor, and her body on the verge of giving up, Yasmin struggled against the waves. She cried out in frustration as she struggled to get the Doctor out of the water and onto the rocky, sandy surface. She managed to drag herself onto it, and then the Doctor.

Lying the Doctor on her back, Yasmin crouched over her. She found that the Doctor’s two hearts were still beating slowly, which concerned her, but she almost started sobbing when she realised that the Doctor wasn’t breathing. Yasmin remembered all of the first aid that she could; shaking the Doctor only to find she remained unresponsive and pressing down on her chest to a tune she was taught back in school.

“Don’t you dare ignore me!” she shouted when the Doctor remained unconscious.

She carried on the chest compressions but realised with a slight blush that she needed to try something else. She crashed her mouth onto the Doctor’s, performing rescue breaths as she had been taught in training.

It took several, agonising minutes until Yasmin felt a rumble in the Doctor’s chest, followed by her coughing violently. Mouthfuls of water were forced from her bluish lips and she rolled weekly to one side as she gasped for breath. Yasmin found herself rubbing circles into her back.

“Thank god,” muttered Yasmin.

The Doctor, with a dazed but confident grin, looked up at Yasmin, “Y-you didn’t…need to do that you know.”

Yasmin’s mouth fell open in offence, “What? You mean, save your life?”

“I don’t have lungs like you do…I have a series of pulmonary tubes…much more effective than your respiratory system. Still, I would’ve gone into a healing coma if you’d left me in the water and drowned. Would’ve been a nasty way to go.”

Yasmin shook her head tiredly and laid down beside the Doctor, her eyes falling shut, “Just say thank you.”

The Doctor sighed, her eyes fluttering closed, “Thanks, Yaz.”

Finally, Yasmin was able to feel. Her entire body was screaming, and it felt like someone had placed cement blocks on her arms and legs. Even her head felt way too heavy for her to lift, even at the worrying hisses of pain she could hear from beside her. Her body had left survival mode, even though they still weren’t safe, and pulled her violently into unconsciousness. For the first time that day, she succumbed happily to the darkness.

When Yasmin finally opened her eyes, the first thing she noticed was the rush of seawater beneath the atoll, and the distant chattering of seagulls. Her eyes, she found, had to be forced open as the exhaustion and salt begged for them to stay closed. Eventually, she rolled to one side as the sand itched her body and found that the Doctor was no longer lying next to her.

“Doctor?” Yasmin called out, her mind racing with the worst scenarios it could conjure. She knew she hadn’t been asleep for long, considering how it was still mostly light outside, but she knew anything could’ve happened.

She lurched to her feet when she got no response, but her legs felt like jelly. She stumbled around wildly until they worked properly again, and she found the Doctor on the edge of the atoll in the distance. She was kneeling, facing out to the sea, and one arm was clutched over the bullet wound. Blood dripped sluggishly from between her fingers, and Yasmin gasped.

“What are you doing?” panted Yasmin when she got close enough to properly see the Doctor.

Yasmin saw that the Doctor’s other hand was gripping the sonic screwdriver, so tightly that her knuckled were pure white.

“The sonic…sonic doesn’t work in water. But if I can dry it out, it should be fine. Good-good old resilient Sheffield. We can send out an alert to the TARDIS, and hopefully the old girl will get the message to Graham and Ryan,” said the Doctor, though speaking was clearly more effort than it should’ve been.

“Doctor,” sighed Yasmin, “you’re exhausted and you’re bleeding out. You really need to rest.”

“But I’ve nearly got it!” exclaimed the Doctor. As she spoke, she closed her eyes for a couple of seconds as a wave of nausea overtook her.

“Please,” said Yasmin, more worried that the Doctor would kill herself than the bullet wound killing her.

The Doctor, unsteadily, turned so that she could properly look Yasmin in the eyes, “If I don’t do something, then you’re going to die of thirst, or starvation, or hypothermia. And…I can’t watch that happen.”

Suddenly, Yasmin felt angry, “I wasn’t the one who got shot! I know you can regenerate, but it doesn’t mean it can’t kill you! You aren’t invincible.”

The Doctor shushed her, “I did it,” she said quietly, “I sent a message to the TARDIS.”

Yasmin couldn’t feel the same relief, because she’d seen something in the distance. At first, she thought it might’ve been a rescue boat, or a police boat, but she realised it was going way too fast to be professional. The white of the hull glittered in the sun even to her dull and tired eyes. She pulled the Doctor to her feet but had to hold her up considering how her knees buckled as soon as she tried to stand on her own.

She looked at the Doctor, who already looked like she was going to pass out again, with terror as the yacht came speeding towards them.

“Hide!” Yasmin barked, as her eyes moved from the white of the boat, to the black metal of the gun aboard it.

Chapter Text

“We can’t just hide, we’re in the middle of the ocean,” commented the Doctor, her eyes narrowing as she watched the boat approach them. Yasmin had obviously been spotted, regardless of whatever plan Yasmin had been trying to conjure.

“You got the sonic to work, right? Can’t you just sonic him?” Yasmin asked desperately.

“It isn’t a weapon, Yaz,” breathed the Doctor.

Yasmin’s eyes narrowed, “You need to hide, at least. There’s some rocks behind us you could hide behind. Tristan will probably think you died at sea, and there’s no reason for him to find us both.”

The Doctor frowned, “What are you going to do against a man with a gun?”

“More than you right now, you can’t even stand up!” exclaimed Yasmin, who was secretly glad the Doctor didn’t have the strength to stand up because it meant she couldn’t be seen by Tristan as he got closer.

“You’re barely hanging in there yourself, Yaz!” shouted the Doctor, knowing how exhaustion could damage the human body. Her own would recover faster, even if it would take some time for her to feel her arm again.

She had gestured when speaking to Yasmin, having forgotten about her injury, and it sent an electric jolt of pain through her arm. She tried hard to show that it hadn’t affected her, but upon seeing the blood threatening to spill through the makeshift bandage as she moved made her nauseous. The Doctor felt bad, considering the whole thing to be much too human for her, and her face definitely showed it. Yasmin looked down at her in a panic.

“Just hang in okay,” said Yasmin, “I’ll think of something.”

“Yaz,” the Doctor gave her a warning look, “you have one life, I’ve had thirteen. Let me handle the plans, yeah? Don’t need you getting shot as well.”

As Tristan’s boat got closer, Yasmin gulped. She felt like a mouse with cats’ claws squeezing her like a vice. There was nowhere for her to hide, even though her mind was screaming at her to flee. Instead, she walked forward on the atoll, ignoring the Doctor’s pleas for her to come back.

“I know the only reason you aren’t chasing after me is because you’ve suddenly realised how injured you actually are,” Yasmin shouted back, “and I’m sorry I have to take advantage of that. But you need to stay there, stay hidden, and maybe one of us will stand a chance of getting back to the others. And if he decides to take me with him, then I know you’ll find me. It’s a win-win really.”

“Yaz, don’t talk like-”

But Yasmin shushed the Doctor as the boat approached, only looking back to make sure she was hidden. Tristan became much clearer, as did the gun, but Yasmin was relieved to find that the girl on the boat was there too. Although she was tied up and terrified, she was still alive and that lessened Yasmin’s anxiety, even a little bit. She walked to the edge of the atoll, making sure she wasn’t too close to the water, as she prepared to meet Tristan.

“Didn’t think a little thing like you could’ve swam all this way,” Tristan mused when he had gotten close enough to be heard.

Yasmin narrowed her eyes, “Why did you come back, then?”

Tristan laughed, “The thing about sweet little Alice here, is that she’s telepathic. A real life superhero, you could call it. She connected with you both when you decided to stowaway and she was more than happy to lead me back to you.”

Alice’s dark eyes widened, as if she had been betrayed, so Yasmin made the effort to think about how scared she must be, and how Yasmin herself would’ve done the same. When she saw the slight smile on the girl’s face, she hoped it had worked.

“What’s the plan, then? You’ve come to finish me off?” asked Yasmin, hoping Tristan would mistake her fearful trembling for her being cold.

“It’s not personal, Officer, but you’ve proven to me that you can survive. I can’t risk you getting back to your police friends and sending me to prison. I’ve worked too hard…and I can make billions from Alice if you don’t interfere.”

“How can you do that? Kidnapping is one thing but murder and slavery?” said Yasmin, outraged.

“That’s the problem with you lot. You never think of the potential.”

Out of the corner of her eye, Yasmin saw Alice moving. She noticed that the ropes Tristan had used to bind her were now at her feet. How had she gotten free? Yasmin turned her attention back onto Tristan so that he didn’t grow suspicious.

“What? The potential of a human life? That’s sick,” said Yasmin.

“Ah,” said Tristan with a gleam in his eyes, “but Alice isn’t a human. If I don’t use her, the government will. And besides, your life is just as useless. You’re a police officer who got in the way.”

Yasmin’s eyes widened when Alice approached Tristan with a murderous gleam in her eyes, and this time Tristan noticed. It was too late though, because tiny Alice had sprung herself on Tristan, causing him to drop his gun. That’s when Yasmin noticed the Doctor struggling behind, trying to reach for the gun that had been tossed across the boat. Yasmin’s eyes widened dramatically. How had the Doctor managed to sneak past her, and onto the boat? Yasmin was almost angry, until she realised that herself and Ryan did that to the Doctor all the time. Now she knew what it felt like. She watched in horror, unable to climb onto the boat without swimming, as Alice tussled with Tristan. She was a young girl, hardly seventeen, and Tristan easily overpowered her. He threw her into the deck and she grunted.

Tristan turned his attention onto the Doctor, who was moving slowly with her injury. He looked just as mystified as Yasmin had. He easily caught up with the Doctor, who had slowed down even more to look back and check on Alice. He kicked out and she wobbled, and Tristan took that distraction to snatch the gun from her.

Yasmin was terrified; knowing for a fact that the Doctor wouldn’t survive a second gunshot wound. Especially not from that close. But Tristan took little interest in the Doctor, as if he thought it would be a waste of a bullet if he shot her. Instead, he aimed the gun at Alice as the younger girl tried to scramble to her feet.

“Don’t you dare,” said the Doctor, though her voice was weak enough for Tristan to smirk at the thought of her threatening him.

“I didn’t have to do this,” shrugged Tristan, “I was happy enough to keep her alive. But now it isn’t worth it. I’m going to kill all three of you, leave your bodies in the water, and pretend I never met you.”

Yasmin thought that the threat would’ve been the final straw for the Doctor, but it was Alice who decided to charge towards Tristan. With an angry, animalistic shout she wrestled him for the gun. Yasmin’s eyes screamed for the Doctor to do something, but the Time Lord had gotten incredibly pale. Instead, she watched in horror as Tristan kicked Alice away and shot her as he had done before with the Doctor. This time, though, the shot had been fatal and the young girl was lost into the water.

“No!” screamed Yasmin, her voice breaking in anguish.

“You didn’t have to do that,” growled the Doctor. She gathered whatever strength that she could find to charge at Tristan herself, not caring about the gun.

The Doctor managed to take the gun, but instead of using it herself, she plunged it into the freezing cold water. Tristan was outraged as he leaned over the edge of the boat as if he would be able to retrieve it. The Doctor, unsure if she should save Tristan or not, hesitated just enough for him to spin around. He grabbed her by both arms, causing her to shout in pain, and sent her over the edge of the boat too. Whatever fear Yasmin had of the ocean, or being back in the horrible water, had vanished and she dove back into it. The Doctor, luckily, hadn’t lost consciousness but managed to stay afloat until Yasmin reached her. The gun, she noticed, and Alice were nowhere to be found.

Yasmin flinched as the engine of the boat started up, making the water around them choppy. He was driving away as fast as he could, knowing without a weapon he would just have to escape. Yasmin felt sick as she watched him go, and knew they needed to survive long enough to send him to prison.

Yasmin wrapped her arms around the Doctor, who was blinking seawater rapidly from her hazel eyes, and helped guide her back onto the atoll. She gulped fresh air as Yasmin held her up.

“You know,” breathed the Doctor, “I’m supposed to be looking after you.”

Yasmin rolled her eyes, “Yeah, and look where that got you. Shot and floating in the middle of the ocean.”

It took a lot of effort for Yasmin to get the Doctor back onto the atoll, but she was grateful that, this time at least, her friend was conscious. It made it easier for Yasmin to push her onto the sandy, rocky surface, even if the Doctor could only utilise one arm. The Doctor used her good hand to help Yasmin up afterwards, and she was relieved for the help. Yasmin hadn’t realised how tired she was until she collapsed on the atoll, feeling the numbness of her legs.

“I don’t want to die like this,” Yasmin thought.

“I won’t let you,” mumbled the Doctor, her eyes closed. Yasmin hadn’t realised she’d spoken out loud.

“We let her die,” responded Yasmin, numbly.

She heard the Doctor’s shaky intake of breath, “I know.”

The Doctor stood up, unable to sit still for too long, but collapsed against a rock like a fawn trying to walk for the first time. Yasmin bolted upright, watching as the Doctor stomped her feet onto the ground to bring feeling back to them. She realised again how washed out the Doctor looked, even more so out of the water.

“Are you bleeding again?” asked Yasmin.

“Only a bit. Barely anything, really, I can’t even feel it.”

“Don’t lie to me, Doctor.”

The Doctor’s face faltered, but she managed to drag it back into a smile, “Well, there’s nothing we can do about it now, is there? What about you, eh? You just saved me, again. I think you deserve a rest.”

Yasmin scoffed, “I still can’t believe you. How did you even get onto the boat? And what was your plan, considering you can barely stand up?”

The Doctor pouted, “I don’t like this. I can’t heal properly in these stupid human conditions. How do you lot survive getting shot? Who allowed you to have guns, anyway?”

“Doctor, we don’t just get shot, that’s all you. But you’re a Time Lord, and a doctor, can’t you just…fix it?”

“Not that kind of doctor, Yaz. Anyway, I’m not a magician, as much as I try. I’ll heal faster than you, obviously, but it still takes time,” said the Doctor.

“And if you can’t?” asked Yasmin miserably.

The Doctor shook her head, walking slowly over to where Yasmin lay, “Right, you definitely need some sleep. I would’ve never taken Yasmin Khan for a pessimist.”

Yasmin looked up at her, “I can’t sleep! What if we get attacked by sharks or something?”

“Well, if sharks decide to migrate to Hornsea, then I’ll fight them all of for you. With one hand.”

“Okay,” laughed Yasmin, punctuating it with a very loud yawn. After a pointed look from the Doctor, she laid her head down onto the ground. She tried to ignore the salt, seaweed and sand that gathered in her once neat hair. It was definitely the least of her problems, anyway.

 

***

 

“Doctor!” shouted Yasmin, the sheer volume of her voice waking her up. It sounded panicked and frantic; a distressing change from the gentle waves and seagulls the Doctor had fallen asleep to.

“What?” grumbled the Doctor, who was enjoying the rest even though she would never admit it.

“T-there’s another boat!”

This woke the Doctor up immediately. She sprang up with a sharp intake of breath, her tired eyes squinting to see what Yasmin had seen. The boat was definitely there, Yasmin decided, after seeing the worried furrow of the Doctor’s eyebrows.

“That’s not Tristan’s boat,” said the Doctor.

“Doesn’t mean he didn’t send some of his minions after us!” panicked Yasmin.

“Yeah, but wouldn’t they take the same boat?” countered the Doctor.

“You’re right…but it’s not a life boat or anything either. Who else would be out here?”

Yasmin looked closer. The boat was smaller than Tristan’s and looked a lot less like a yacht. She noticed blue on the side of the hull, but she wasn’t able to read the writing on it. All she could tell was that it was heading straight for them.

“Wait,” said the Doctor, “someone’s waving. Who does that look like to you?”

Yasmin gasped. The Doctor was right; the person standing at the front of the boat as if they were in the middle of re-enacting a scene from Titanic did look familiar. It took a little while longer for the boat to get closer, and Yasmin realised who had found them.

“Oh my god, oh my god! That’s Ryan…and I can see Ben and Graham too!” shouted Yasmin, throwing her own hands in a frantic wave.

The Doctor grinned in a daze, “Looks like we get to go home after all.”

They waited for the boat to come closer, feeling the beautiful rush of relief and safety crash over them like waves. It was hard for Yasmin to believe that they were safe, and alive. She wondered if she was still dreaming. But, as Ryan and Graham came into view, wielding first-aid kits and blankets, she knew it was too real for her to make up. The atoll didn’t feel like a safe haven anymore, it felt like a prison, and Yasmin wanted nothing more than to run to the boat as it got closer and closer. More for the Doctor’s sake than her own.

Ryan and Graham leapt from where they stood beside the cockpit towards the edge of the boat. The sound of the engine was too loud to hear their voices but Yasmin could see that Ben was telling them to step away. Obviously, they weren’t listening. Ryan stepped closer, with a flash of worry on his face, but with Graham’s help was able to clamber onto the atoll. Yasmin could see Ben rolling his eyes, but she was so filled with relief that she didn’t even care. Ryan ran towards her, seeing her exhausted grin, and pulled her into a bear hug.

“You’re hard women to find,” commented Graham as he joined Ryan, giving Yasmin a slightly gentler but just as loving hug. Then he moved towards the Doctor, who was trying hard to stand up and greet them but couldn’t.

“You scared us! Why didn’t you take the TARDIS?” breathed Yasmin, slapping Ryan on the shoulder. He pulled away from her but let her rest her hand on him, knowing she didn’t have much strength.

“We found the TARDIS, and she helped us find you, but turns out she doesn’t do the ocean,” grumbled Ryan, who had obviously had a battle with the ship in the women’s absence.

“Of course she doesn’t,” breathed the Doctor, even though her voice was barely even audible to Graham, who was stood beside her.

Graham crouched down to her, noticing that she had barely acknowledged their rescue, and put a fatherly hand on the Doctor’s cheek. The Doctor leaned into the touch, which worried Graham, since she had never been one to accept affection from him. The second thing that worried him was how cold she was. He could feel her trembling through his hand and knew even an alien shouldn’t be submerged in a freezing ocean as long as they were, let alone while injured.

“Hey Doc,” said Graham, “how about we get you safe huh? We’ll find someone to take a look at your arm too.”

The Doctor nodded, “Mm.”

Graham grabbed the Doctor by her uninjured arm, pulling her very gently to her feet. She wobbled, unsteady, and Yasmin had to resist the urge to run to her. She knew her legs couldn’t take it if she tried. Ryan looked at Yasmin, sympathy flashing in his eyes.

“What happened to her?” asked Ryan.

Yasmin flinched, “S-she was shot by the kidnapper. She passed out in the water, too, and stopped breathing. She needs help now, Ryan.”

“We’ll get it for her, don’t worry. Will you be alright?” he asked. Yasmin nodded numbly.

With Yasmin’s shaky reassurance, Ryan jogged over to the Doctor and helped to hold her up. They walked in a rhythm over to where the boys had left the boat, helping the Doctor. Yasmin flinched each time the Doctor winced or bit back a cry. The boys, or Yasmin supposed whoever had been driving it, had managed to dock very close to the atoll, but the distance was still enough to make the Doctor hesitate.

“You can do this,” promised Graham, “we won’t let you go back in there.”

With a determined nod, the Doctor managed to make her way onto the boat on shaking legs, caught on the other side by two on-hand police officers from Yasmin’s team. Then, Yasmin herself walked over to the edge of the atoll. She looked down at the choppy water that separated herself from the safe boat and understood the Doctor’s fright. The thought of being back down there, struggling to keep herself awake, made her legs turn to jelly. She hadn’t even noticed her team leader, Ben, had climbed over the boat and onto the atoll beside her. He tapped her gently.

“Come on Officer Khan,” he spoke gently, “we have a bastard to catch, and we can’t do it from the middle of the ocean.”

Yasmin looked up to the Doctor, who was now sitting on the deck of the boat trying to swat away a paramedic. She felt a flash of anger as her mind replayed how Tristan had shot the Doctor and thrown her into the ocean. Even after that, they would’ve both been dead if it weren’t for Alice. They couldn’t waste any more time while he was free. Yasmin held onto Ben’s arm as she put one foot over the atoll and onto the deck of the boat. Ryan grabbed her hand as she stepped over and Ben took the other.

Now, on the safety of the boat, Yasmin let out a content sigh. She was still incredibly uncomfortable as the boat rocked on the water, but she was just glad she wasn’t in it any more. As soon as her two feet tried to hold herself up, her legs bucked and she was sent onto the floor with a hard thud. The noise made the Doctor’s eyes fly open in a panic and she again tried to pull away from the paramedic. Graham reassured her that Yasmin was fine, though he didn’t look convinced himself.

“How you doing, mate?” asked Ryan as he helped Yasmin to sit comfortably.

“Tired,” she mumbled.

“Yeah, I bet. You’ve been gone two hours. The Doctor said you dragged her out of the water, pretty impressive,” commented Ryan.

Yasmin shrugged. She felt something warm wrap around her shoulders and she nestled into it. She realised, though, that she couldn’t see it and she opened her eyes. When had she closed them, she wondered. When she blinked them open, she realised it had gotten darker around her, and the boat was now gliding through the ocean. The thing around her shoulders was a blanket and someone had put a jacket behind her head. She realised someone had propped her up against the hull of the boat and wondered how long she had been unconscious for.

She was about to flutter her eyes closed again, still exhausted, but a cry from the Doctor pulled her out of it. Yasmin scrambled about in a panic but felt a strong hand on her shoulder.

“Hey, Yaz, calm down,” came a hushed voice from beside her, “she’s fine.”

Yasmin hadn’t even realised Ryan had been sitting beside her but she looked at him in a frenzy, “What’s happening?”

“We’re taking a detour; there’s a harbour nearby with an ambulance waiting. The paramedics decided that the risk of infection for the Doctor’s arm is too high and they need to clean it. Turns out even a Time Lord acts like a baby when someone tries to clean their wounds,” explained Ryan.

“Scraping your knee at school isn’t the same as being shot through the arm,” Yasmin argued weakly.

“Oh, like you’d know,” but Ryan dropped the teasing tone, “why don’t you get some more rest? The paramedic checked you out earlier and said you were so close to…well, that doesn’t matter now. Some fluids and sleep and you’ll be fine.”

“What about her?” asked Yasmin, already feeling her body luring her back to sleep.

Ryan rolled his eyes with a fond smile, “Yeah, she hasn’t stopped asking about you either. You can go see her if you want; give Graham a break.”

Yasmin gave Ryan a grateful smile before letting him help her to her feet. Her legs hadn’t got used to standing yet but the carried her over to the Doctor with ease. Yasmin had remained on the front of the boat but the Doctor and Graham had moved to the back, presumably because he had been unable to keep her still. Now, Graham was talking to the police while paramedics cleaned the Doctor’s arm. Even in the evening light, Yasmin could see the extent of the wound. It was still sluggishly bleeding and the skin around it had been made red and raw by the seawater. With tears in her eyes, brought about by the pain, the Doctor looked up and spotted Yasmin.

“Thought you could use this,” said Yasmin, draping the blanket from her shoulders over the Doctor’s.

The Doctor raised an eyebrow, “Pretty sure they gave you that to keep you warm.”

Yasmin shrugged, “You need it more than I do.”

The paramedic used Yasmin as a distraction and finished up cleaning the Doctor’s arm. The wound was covered with a bandage, one that stopped the blood from seeping through, and was satisfied with her work. The Doctor glared at her, hissing at the pain, but the paramedic just gave her an apologetic smile. She walked away, and Graham thanked her silently for her help. Then, he followed her towards the cockpit, where Ben and the other officers were trying to work out where Tristan had gone. Now alone, the Doctor turned to Yasmin.

“I’m glad you’re alright.”

Yasmin blinked in disbelief, “Me? Doctor…I thought you were going to die! I-I’ve never been so scared! I thought I was going to lose you and it was all going to be my fault.”

The Doctor smiled, “Now you know how I feel whenever you decide to run off on an adventure and get hurt. But nothing that happened was your fault. I would’ve done the same…in fact, I was pretty proud.”

Yasmin hung her head, “But we didn’t even save Alice.”

The Doctor’s eyes darkened, “Sometimes it’s impossible to have a win without a loss. The universe always balances itself out. She died for us, but now…now Yaz, we get to live for her.”

“That doesn’t seem fair.”

The Doctor shook her head, “It’s not.”

Yasmin sighed, “I guess we have to make the most of it…living I mean…for her.”

“That’s the thing, what could be a better way of honouring her life than travelling through the stars,” said the Doctor with a goofy smile.

“Maybe just focus on getting better, eh?” grinned Yasmin as she sat down beside the Doctor, not saying out loud that her legs would’ve buckled again if she’d stood up for much longer.

“You first,” said the Doctor.

Again, the next time Yasmin opened her eyes, she realised that she’d fallen asleep. It couldn’t have been for that long, she decided, but she realised she now felt much warmer than she had before. That was because the blanket she had given the Doctor was now draped over both of them. Yasmin had gotten much closer to the Doctor, or maybe it was the other way round, and she had fallen asleep with her head resting comfortably on the Doctor’s shoulder. She felt the Doctor’s hand in hers and her eyes widened. Eventually, once the flush of Yasmin’s face had left her, her eyes got suddenly very heavy and she let them close again.

The rapid beat of her heart was no longer from the anxiety she felt from the sound of waves crashing against the boat. She listened instead to the light snoring that came from the Doctor, feeling their now warm hands pressed together. Yasmin drifted back to sleep, unable to think of anything else. Not even Ryan in the distance; who had an arm around Ben as he tried to convince the policeman that ‘Team TARDIS’ would be a worthy investment for Sheffield. The last thing Yasmin heard was Ben’s promise that, if Team TARDIS stayed away from their police department until he retired, then he’d give Ryan bragging rights.