The sound of something smashing to the floor echoes through the chamber.
Yaz and Graham turn sharply to Ryan who immediately throws up his hands.
“Hey, it wasn’t me!” He shouts, a little too proudly. But he does rather ruin the moment by backing into the table with its carefully labelled artefacts and causing it to wobble alarmingly.
The voice behind them causes them to spin around again. The Doctor's standing with her hands empty, yellowing fragments scattered around her feet, and staring at the newcomer.
“Hmm, wasn’t the line I was going for, but oh well, can’t turn back time, can we?” The woman says, approaching the Doctor, crouching by her feet among the broken shards and pulling something from her pocket.
The woman looks up at the Doctor, shaking her explosion of curly hair out of her eyes.
Then she immediately goes back to collecting the pieces and buzzing them with a device that Ryan thinks almost looks like the Doctor’s sonic. In an odd realisation, he suddenly knows that this is what he expects it to be like - bronze and loud and cobbled together, like reality jumped sideways and got flipped around. That happens sometimes, he thinks. But he tries not to dwell on it too much.
The woman jumps to her feet, and presses the unexpectedly intact skull into the Doctor’s hands. It slips to the Doctor’s fingertips, and the woman steadies it, placing her own hands above and below. Between the pair of them they manage to hold onto it.
“...You haven’t done the middle bit yet, have you?” The woman says, cheeky cheer sliding off her face. Ryan begins to think that it’s not just the Doctor's inexplicable power to pull every lesbian in a fifty-foot radius, but that they actually know each other.
“No...no, you haven’t. Right. I can see how this would be hard for you...” The woman says, tapping her fingers on the skull and looking around evasively. “And you might need some time...”
The Doctor nods minutely, and they stand there for a long moment.
He looks at Graham - who shrugs - while the woman continues to drum her fingers rhythmically on the crown of the skull. Ta-tap-tap-tap, ta-tap-tap-tap.
“Is that...enough time?” The woman asks, and there’s something distinctly Doctor-like about her energy and quiet confusion that the rest of the world isn’t moving as fast as she is.
The Doctor shakes her head slightly, but pulls the skull towards her to hold it more firmly, the woman’s hands dropping away. The woman sighs and smiles as if in relief, and stepping back she projects her voice a little, as if this is a part they’ve played many times before:
“Well, aren’t you going to introduce me?”
The Doctor looks down at the repaired skull in her hands, hair swishing forward.
“Graham, Ryan... Yaz. This is...” The Doctor pauses and looks up again, her voice a little higher than normal. “This is my wife.”
Ryan chokes. Her wife? She has a wife?!
His eyes flick to Yaz. Oh shi-i-it!
He snorts with laughter and Graham elbows him, and he’s not sure if he said that out loud or not.
The woman walks over, beaming at him, like that’s exactly the reaction she was after. He shakes her hand when she offers it, but can’t stop laughing. She’s married! The Doctor! The person who reprogrammed his phone in three seconds, and took forty-five minutes to figure out how to microwave a tin of baked beans.
“Oh my God.”
“Demigod, strictly speaking.” She says with a wink.
Graham gives her the full double handshake, and the woman’s eyes soften at the display of paternal-affection that he can never seem to help.
“Well, nice to meet ya. I’m Graham, this is Ryan, and any wife of the Doctor’s is, uh, not sure where I was going with that sentence, but never mind.” He rambles.
Ryan sees Yaz stride over in his peripheral vision. Hoo-oo. When your crush isn’t just some super ancient alien, but a super ancient secretly married alien. Suddenly he gets why Nan watched all those soaps.
The woman doesn’t seem at all phased, and turns and puts her hand out to Yaz just as she gets in range, in one smooth - perfectly timed - gesture.
“Professor River Song, Archeologist.”
“Yasmin Khan, Police Officer.” Yaz says, teeth bared in a smile you’d think was real if you didn’t know her as well as he does.
River however, grins in a completely genuine way. It would almost be flirty, if her wife - the Doctor, the actually married disaster Doctor - wasn’t standing a few feet away.
“Oh are you?” River says and looks Yaz up and down, while Yaz puffs herself up a little - like a German Shepherd with an inferiority complex, clearly misreading the situation, cus that is definitely flirting.
“How exciting.” River looks over her shoulder at the Doctor, who hasn’t moved. “Always such a devil for handcuffs, aren’t you dear?”
“River!” The Doctor barks, and wow that was more than he ever needed to know about her. Not more than he could’ve guessed, but still, he didn’t need it confirmed.
“Fine - business first, Cops and Robbers later.” River says, winking at Yaz and heading towards the TARDIS.
“Think you’ve pulled.” He whispers to Yaz as he passes, and she doesn't even snap at him, just stands blinking confusedly at the gap where River was just standing.
The TARDIS seems to glow brighter as River approaches, and makes a little whoosh when she touches its- touches her door. The tenderness in the action seals it for Ryan - that's gotta be the Doctor’s wife. No-one else gets weird about phoneboxes like that.
“Keeping well, Mummy?” River whispers.
River catches his and Graham’s eyes. “I have a complicated family.” She says in an undertone.
What’s that supposed to mean? Complicated’s supposed to be like him and his Dad and Graham, not ‘my Mum’s a spaceship that my wife’s in love with and might somehow be shagging when no-one’s looking’.
“It’s why we don’t play Doctors and Nurses.” River says over their heads.
“Don’t bring your father into this.” The Doctor shouts back, shaking her head clear and finally walking over, past the frozen Yaz who she’s apparently refusing to make eye-contact with.
“You know, I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to not have a clue what the Doctor’s on about.” Graham mutters.
Ryan nods in agreement.