"You did well tonight. Drink?"
Marieke turned to find Jennifer offering the wine she wasn't allowed to drink before the show. She smiled and invited her in. "You know my answer's always yes."
Jennifer came in, closed the door behind her, and poured them both a glass. There was a moment where they both simply drank, enjoying the wine and the silence of the dressing room.
Marieke pulled her close and kissed her. "Are you coming home with me tonight? You said you would."
"I can't, I've got something on tomorrow morning, and I won't make it if I stay up all night with you," Jennifer said. "But we could always spend a moment together now."
Marieke set their glasses aside and pulled Jennifer close, her arms wrapping around her waist. "Hey, you promised me one if I behaved. If you're going to drop me for something better, at least don't leave me hanging."
Jennifer kissed her, and Marieke shivered as her hands gently stroked her back, removing any distance between them. There was another kiss, and Jennifer turned her around as her hands claimed her body.
As Jennifer slipped a hand inside Marieke's shirt, gently squeezing her breast, she murmured to her, "I really am a Time Lord, you know."
Marieke stifled a laugh, distracted by Jennifer pinching her nipple as she almost remembered the sketch they'd filmed earlier for Whovians. "Yeah, and I'm a fucking unicorn. Don't be ridiculous, Jennifer. Since when did you like sci-fi anyway?"
"Where's the fun in letting you know all my secrets? What if I showed you my ship? Would you believe me then?" Jennifer said.
"We're in a TV studio, Jen. Nothing's real here. Try again," Marieke said.
Jennifer gently stroked her cheek with her fingers. "I didn't say it was here, did I? Though it would be a good place to hide it. Do you want to come and find out?"
Marieke nearly said no, but even if this was just an elaborate trick, going to hide away in small spaces with Jennifer was not an unattractive option. Perhaps this was just ridiculous roleplay, and she'd forgotten they'd even agreed to this in the first place. She turned to face Jennifer and tried to read her expression. Perhaps playing along was the best option.
"Alright, show me your ship, Time Lord."
Jennifer kissed her in thanks. Marieke wasn't about to complain about the attention, nor the way Jennifer took her hand gently and led her out into the corridor.
There were many places to get lost here if you strayed from the familiar. Tunnels and secret rooms and connecting passageways and places that no one used anymore that were just filled with old Chaser props. Marieke didn't recognise most of what they were passing, except for the things that seemed to have been passed before, but might have had a different number on the door. How long they'd been walking, Marieke didn't know. But then they stopped outside the most boring door in the most boring corridor Marieke had ever seen, and there, Jennifer turned a handle, and led her inside another world.
Marieke's first reaction to the ship she was now in was that it was a very good set for what the ABC could manage. The core TARDIS things where there, even if some of the wall designs looked unrecognisable. She wondered who had signed off on this, and what the ABC was even doing with a TARDIS set anyway.
"Okay, I admit it, I wasn't expecting it to look this good. How many people did you need to fuck to make this happen, then?" Marieke said as she looked around.
Jennifer turned to her and smiled. "Don't scoff, I'll show you it's real. Where do you want to go? Future, or past?"
Marieke wondered how far Jennifer was going to take this and when were they going to get to the sex anyway? But she decided not to tease her and instead thought about where she might want to go if placed in this position. She eyed Jennifer as she made her decision. "Past."
Jennifer smiled again, a slightly thinner, slightly more devious, smile. "I thought so."
And then Jennifer was pushing buttons and pulling levers and Marieke thought she'd practiced very well indeed, even if she hadn't been aware that a stupid Doctor Who audition sketch was going to go this far. But then the ground under her feet began shaking, and that pained siren began wailing, and she lost her balance as, well. As something happened. Marieke wasn't as familiar with Doctor Who as she was pretending to be, and all she knew was the ground was shaking, and the noise was piercing, and there was Jennifer, standing at the console, pushing buttons and pulling levers like she knew what the fuck she was doing.
"Oh, God, they didn't have to shake it that hard! What are you playing at, anyway?" Marieke said as she got to her feet, clinging to the rail beside her once things had come to a stop.
Jennifer didn't look at her as she looked at a screen in front of her. "You won't believe me unless I take you somewhere, so that's what I'm doing. Come on, we're here."
And with that, Jennifer left, walking towards the doors. Marieke followed, for a number of reasons that didn't include seeing where they'd actually gone. Because that would be absurd. They hadn't gone anywhere. This was a goddamn TV studio. They weren't going anywhere. And then Jennifer opened the doors wide, and a cold blast of air greeted them, and Marieke stopped in her tracks as she looked at snow.
"What the fuck, Jen, you need to tell me what's going on. This is is just another studio, right? Right?" Marieke said, seeing the vastness of the landscape open up before them.
It was white, and cold, and snowy. Mist clung to the air, and mountains in the distance bravely pushed through the white. Something sparkled in the distance, and perhaps that was a building, but nothing was clear at all. Jennifer smiled.
"You'd better get a coat. It's a bit cold out there," Jennifer said. "Follow the stairs up out the back, take the first right, then the second left. Dress for the snow."
Marieke didn't comprehend her words. She was transfixed by something moving towards them through the snow. Something that looked, well. Alien.
"You can see that, right? I'm not imagining that?" Marieke said, unable to take her eyes off it, whatever it was.
Jennifer moved behind her and wrapped her arms around her waist as she peered over her shoulder. "I see it. We'll be fine. It's harmless. Now, do I need to take you down there myself to get you dressed for the snow? You did promise to obey me when you accepted my collar."
The doors shut then, forcing Marieke to concentrate. She turned to Jennifer and stared into her eyes, trying to comprehend everything. She still wasn't entirely sure it wasn't just a trick. Another studio, done up to look like a snowy alien landscape. That's all it was. Right?
And yet, something about Jennifer had changed. Her eyes seemed impossibly older. And yet, and yet. Nothing made sense. Was this elaborate roleplay, or real? What was she even meant to do? "Alright, just take me to get changed. I don't really care anymore. I liked you better when this was all just a pretense for a fuck after the show."
Jennifer brushed her cheek with a finger. "Oh, we'll get to that, don't worry about that. Now, come on. You can't go out there looking like that."
Marieke felt like she had been ever so slightly insulted, but the scowl didn't last as Jennifer took her hand and pulled her deeper into the ship. It was a blur of cold, grey metal corridors, and it did not end with a soft, luxurious bedroom and a fuck with her mistress. Instead, there was a wardrobe, bigger than she could actually see, and there, Jennifer dressed them both in snow gear before leading them back to the doors of the TARDIS again.
"Come on. You wanted past, didn't you? Don't you want to see what the earth looked like when it was a snowball?" Jennifer said cheerfully as she opened the door once more.
"Sure, whatever you want, Jen," Marieke said, and followed her out onto the snow.
The air was much colder now, and it grew colder the further from the TARDIS they got. Even with all the layers, Marieke was cold, and the snow was thick and hard to walk through. When nothing seemed to be happening, nor coming towards them, Marieke stopped.
"Okay, okay, I believe you, alright? Now can we get back to the ship? I can feel my toes freezing solid. Why'd you even bring me here, anyway?" Marieke said.
Jennifer looked back at her, refusing to let go of her hand in case they got lost. "Just a little further, I promise. Then you'll see why I brought you here."
Marieke wasn't sure she could make it. Her legs ached from the effort of walking, and she was surprisingly hungry now as well as cold. Jennifer moved in front of her and held her arms, holding her upright.
"Are you alright? You look a little pale," Jennifer said, face full of concern.
Marieke swayed as she brushed away her concerns. "I'm fine, I-I - just leave me. I can make it."
Then all she heard was a high-pitched whistle, and everything went black.
Marieke took a long time to wake. Mostly, she was only aware of her breathing, and the rise and fall of her chest. The air tasted weird. Where she was, what she was lying on, she didn't know. She couldn't tell. It was as if her whole body was numb.
Something caused her to run. It was the heat in the air that signalled its presence. She pushed her way through the thick snow, trying to find the way back. Her footprints were of no help. The snow had begun to fall again and what was left had been covered up. She looked for Jennifer everywhere, but could not find her. What had happened to her? How had they been separated?
Something dark, something solid, loomed before her, and she ran towards it, unsure where else to go. It was a cave, she noticed, the closer she got, but all that would really do would corner her in a place where that thing might get her. But there was nowhere else to go, and she had no energy left to push much farther. So she ignored the growl that made the hair on her neck tingle and headed for the cave.
Perhaps she had passed through something. Perhaps she was just dreaming. The white walls and pristine, clinical look didn't offer any help. But there was Jennifer at least, smiling as she took her hands in hers, and brought her close, whispering how grateful she was to see her again. Marieke breathed out and held her tight, not wanting to let go. Her body screamed for rest; only Jennifer's strength kept her standing.
"Where are we? We're safe, aren't we?" Marieke said.
"Yes, we're safe. These are old friends of mine. Come, there's a feast waiting for you," Jennifer said.
"A feast? What do you mean, a feast? Where are we?" Marieke said.
Jennifer offered a kiss, and eventually, this calmed her down, reassured that nothing bad was going to happen. It was a ridiculous reaction, Marieke knew that very well, but there was always something about Jennifer's touch that calmed her down. She couldn't help it. If she was with Jennifer, she was safe. She would be alright.
"You ready now? The feast's about to begin," Jennifer said.
"Sure, I can't turn that down, can I? Fuck, I'm starving," Marieke said.
Jennifer took her hand and led her into a long narrow hall. This one was decorated, just a bit, and filled with long tables, lined with people sitting down to eat. They looked like normal humans, though Marieke didn't really look too closely unless she saw something she didn't want to see. Jennifer led her through to a table, tucked away in the corner, where no one else sat. Marieke sat and watched, grasping Jennifer's hand under the table.
A trumpet sounded, and the feast began. Food was brought out by a long procession of servants, and laid down at each table. Marieke was too hungry to question anything, and ate gladly. The food was rich and tasty, and so completely what she was used to eating. It didn't feel like she was on another world at all. The wine was the best she'd ever had, and by the time they were done, Marieke was happy, full, and slightly drunk. She grinned at Jennifer and made eyes at her.
"So, what do we do now? Do I take you to bed?" Marieke said.
"Let me show you the library," Jennifer said.
Marieke's eyes widened. "There's a library here? They have books?"
"Millions upon millions of books. Don't let go of my hand. You don't want to get lost in there. Come on," Jennifer said, getting to her feet.
Marieke followed, gripping her hand tightly as they left the hall, seemingly without notice, and headed down a corridor. Where the library was didn't seem to be obvious, but there were people roaming the halls, carrying books and bags and looking a lot like students.
"Is this a university, Jen?" Marieke said, looking around them as they walked across a small atrium.
"Sort of. It's too hard to explain right now. We're nearly there, anyway. Just a bit further," Jennifer said.
Marieke went to reply, but she couldn't think of anything to say. So they pressed on until they found themselves at a set of large doors. Jennifer pushed them open, and they walked inside another world.
Marieke stopped, gazing all around her. The ceiling, the shelves, the sheer size of it all, overwhelmed her. There were books everywhere. And instead of pristine white, there was now a crisp white limestone. It didn't look old, but new. Murmurs and whispers caught on the breeze, from the windows cut high into the walls, and the shuffle of footsteps hushed across the ground.
"Where are we? This place is-"
Jennifer looked back at her and smiled. "It's incredible, isn't it? Everything that's ever been written exists in here. What would you like to see, hmm?"
Marieke, faced with such a choice, could not decide. A thousand ideas flooded her brain, from works of literature to diaries and everything in between.
Jennifer didn't seem to mind. "It's okay, take your time. Come on, there's one thing I wanted to show you while we're here. Maybe that'll help you decide."
Unable to think what that might be, she nevertheless followed Jennifer as they made their way through rows and rows of books, holding her hand tight so they weren't separated. Eventually, they came to another door, and Jennifer breezed through as if she had no fear of being stopped. This opened into a smaller, darker room, and a long corridor that opened, finally, to what looked like a chapel of some sort.
Marieke stood in the doorway and looked around, taking in the old grey stone, and all the room contained. There was a skylight cut into the roof, and streaks of white light shone down onto the table pressed against the far wall. Something lay on it. The rest of the room was filled with chairs, tables, books, and - oh. There was a small figure, curled up in a corner. Jennifer knelt down beside them, and seemed to whisper something to them. Marieke could hear nothing of their conversation. Then she stood, and gestured for Marieke to join her.
"Come on, it's okay. You can see it now," Jennifer said.
Still cautious, Marieke joined her, and gazed down at the documents she could see laid out before her, hidden under glass to protect them. They were in a language she couldn't read. Jennifer seemed to know what it was, and poured over it closely, taking in all the details.
Marieke joined her, and she caught sight of the engraved disk in the centre, with rings and markings and some jewels on it. For some reason, it looked familiar, even though she was certain she'd never seen it before in her life. As she looked at it more closely, an image flashed in her mind, but it happened so fast, she couldn't remember it when it was gone.
"What's this? Is it important?" Marieke said.
"Oh, yes, it's very important. It's a contract," Jennifer straightened and her expression turned serious as she looked at Marieke. "You won't remember why it's important. In fact, you don't remember who you are, do you? Who you really are? Because I've won. And there's nothing you can do about that."
Marieke backed away, confused, feeling like something was nagging at her, but it was too far gone to retrieve. She had a feeling she needed to run, but where to? She would probably die if she tried to run through the library without Jennifer to guide her. She was helpless if Jennifer left.
"Jen, please, you're scaring me. I don't know what you're talking about. Whatever this is, I just want to go home. I don't want to play anymore," Marieke said, voice filled with nerves.
Jennifer didn't say anything. Marieke turned away, but as she did so, a collar fastened around her neck, and then nothing made sense. All she could see was golden light shining all around her, leaving her breathless and immobile.
"You said it was going to be amazing, Jennifer! What was that? That was hardly worth coming for. Take me home now. I am tired of this snow. Take me home. Now!" Marieke said, scowling at Jennifer as they turned back from the frozen waterfall.
It might have qualified for amazing if it had been more interesting. But snow and ice and nothing else did not impress Marieke. The snow had not made things any better, and she was tired, and cold, and hungry, and yearned to be at home, in the warmth, where things were normal again.
"Alright. I thought you'd like to see it, that's all. It's a very famous waterfall. But that's fine. We can go somewhere else, next, can't we? Somewhere warm, perhaps. Yes. Somewhere warm, and sunny, with a lot more interesting things for us to see, yeah? How does that sound?" Jennifer said.
Marieke's expression softened a little. "Okay, maybe. Just get me home. Then we'll talk about all this. I'm still not convinced we've gone somewhere else, and this isn't just some elaborate trick you've pulled to fool me into believing you're a Time Lord."
"Oh, it's real alright, but it's fine, we'll go home. We'll head back to the TARDIS and go home. It's not far, I promise. See that light in the distance? That's where we're going," Jennifer said.
As Marieke saw it, and began walking towards it, she didn't hear Jennifer's almost inaudible words before she followed her.
"Yes, of course, we'll go home, Doctor."