The Doctor had a problem.
She really needed to cry. And on one hand, she didn’t want her fam to see it. They were still smiling, cheering, adrenaline from their last adventure coursing through their veins. She didn’t want to ruin that with worry for her… with pity. But on the other hand, she couldn’t leave and let them out of the range of her vision. Because if she couldn’t see them, how would she know they were still there? They had survived, all of them, but that wasn’t always the case. She was conditioned to believe otherwise. She had lost too many to the… She had lost too many. Her current companions were right there, right there with her, yet she could barely believe they truly had survived.
And so she stayed, leaning against the TARDIS console and watching her team celebrate a few meters from her. A team that had just had its first encounter with a dalek.
The Doctor could feel her throat tighten, and she turned to look at the ceiling to keep the tears that were burning behind her eyes at bay. This kept happening, time and time again. I always think I’m rid of them. Never am. How long before they would encounter another? This one tried to call a fleet. A fleet. Could she have saved them had that happened? There was little help this time. The government wasn’t there for her – she would have to do something about the UNIT situation, what the hell was up with that – and her wife couldn’t just swoop in to save her ass anymore.
Oh, no. She would not go down that train of thought. It wasn’t even related to the daleks!
But nothing had to be, in the end. It wasn’t like they were the only dangerous thing in the universe. The Doctor had lost so many loved ones to so many different things. How long before these people would be gone as well?
Graham shot her a smile across the room, and she answered with a thumbs up and a smile of her own. It was no use wondering what’d happen in the future. Everyone died eventually, and no one knew it better than her. What mattered was now. Having a good time and making memories so there would be no regrets of wasted time later on.
She really believed that. So why did she still feel like this?
She had thought she had finally gotten over it all. The Time War. Rose, Donna, Clara, everyone else – the past. She really thought she had. Or, well, most of it, anyway. So what if she still sometimes flinched at the sound of a fly, or panicked a little every time the first number on her mind wasn’t the count of the dead children of Gallifrey. This time she gave the dalek a chance – she made sure to ask her fam and they said she had – and she was so proud, she had truly gotten better, she had–
But no. She was still stuck in the past. She tried and tried and tried and she literally had a time machine but she could never get rid of it. The memories were always somewhere around and…
Did the chance she had given it even count? It wasn’t like she had done it because she felt it deserved it. Even now she didn’t really include daleks when it came to her ”everyone deserves a second chance” rule. She did it because she wanted to be better. That was a selfish motivation. She didn’t do it because it was right, but because she couldn’t do what wasn’t right, not again. Se did it because she didn’t want to face her companions after having killed without mercy. And she hadn’t wanted to face her own thoughts.
Yet, here she was. Doing exactly that.
She jumped a bit as a hand appeared on her shoulder. Used to her reactions, Yaz didn’t withdraw.
”You’re thinking too deep again, aren’t you?”
The Doctor sighed and gave her a small smile. ”Yeah, suppose so.”
Yaz moved so she was standing next to her, both of them leaning against the console. The Doctor could spot the small frown on her face.
”We won”, Yaz said.
”We did”, the Doctor said, because it had been a question.
”So what’s up?”
The Doctor turned to stare at the ceiling again. Yaz’s presence was warm against her side. Alive.
”I don’t know”, she answered honestly. She could see Yaz’s head turn in her peripheral vision, her eyes searching for something in hers. She wasn’t sure what she’d find. Hopefully not the still-pushing tears, though that likely was a pointless wish. ”We did win. Fairly. So why am I still…?”
Yaz kept looking at her. She swallowed thickly.
”I shouldn’t be feeling like this. I have all the reasons for joy, and I am joyful, it’s just… I’m also sad. And I shouldn’t be.”
”Doctor.” She turned to look Yaz in the eyes. She looked so sincere. Accepting. ”It’s okay not to be okay, y’know? And we just faced a really dangerous situation. More dangerous than we probably even realize, from the way you reacted.” She let out a small laugh that wasn’t really a laugh, but then she was looking at the Doctor again. ”You’re safe, we all are. You can cry if you feel like it. We won’t judge.”
And tears started rolling down the Doctor’s face, her sobs first quiet as ever – she had learned to cry silently long before she even became an adult – but then Yaz’s arms wrapped around her, and she broke down, and wailed. And Yaz’s arms were firm and warm, and so were Graham’s and Ryan’s when they soon joined them.
And the Doctor wept, a small blonde mess in the middle of three perfect hugs, and even as none of them spoke, the air was full of love.