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A Terrible Case Of Love

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Strax is impervious to this human notion of love. Sadly, Madame Vastra seems to have been infected by it. She puts her face altogether too close to Jenny's at times, and frequently lets her guard down, leaving herself vulnerable to attack. Strax chooses not to attack her (which has nothing to do with the way she laid him out last time), but he notes her vulnerability and advises her of it. Madame Vastra makes the noise called laughing. Strax does not understand it. Jenny tells him that she will not explain further. Strax vows that he will unravel this mystery. He is a detective now, in the company of detectives. He will chase this "love" until it tires and yields its secrets to him.

Love is slippery prey. Every time he seems to be closing in on it, it changes shape. It takes on new bodies. Love seems to be a disease. Strax ingests many heads of garlic to ensure that he will not succumb. It seems to be effective.

It's even worse with the Doctor and the lady with the giant head (he has been told that she is a woman). They don't put their faces together as often as Madame Vastra and Jenny do, but they have clearly made some bond between them. Strax has seen them battle together. He has heard the tales of their victories. He has seen how even in quiet moments, each seems aware of the other, as if the Doctor could reach out with the woman's hand to pluck a flower or she could use his mouth to shape a speech.

In battle it is even more obvious. The Doctor dislikes battle, or so he says, but it's clear that the fight raises a passion in him, a passion shared by the lady with the giant head. They fight as one, a matched pair as fine as the pistols Madame Vastra owns. The Doctor hangs back, giving rousing speeches, while the lady with the giant head is everywhere he looks, doing everything the Doctor needs done, with a fine sense of finesse and a flair that even Strax can respect. She might be strangely shaped, and her head certainly changes oddly as she moves, but the woman is formidable. She finds the Doctor's enemies, one by one; the Doctor's hands stay clean and the grin on the lady's face widens.

Strax thinks he should never intentionally enrage her, though of course it would be very fine to meet her on the field of battle for the glory of the Sontaran Empire. Unfortunately, he is not certain that such an encounter would lead to glory for the Sontaran Empire, and so he fights at her side instead. Smoke from her blaster drifts around her head and the hard joy in her eyes drives back their enemies.

One day, after they have solved a very fine mystery that involved much shouting and punching, the Doctor and the lady with the giant head come back to the house to have dinner with the Paternoster Gang, as the papers have taken to calling them. Strax brings them tea in the parlor and stands in wait for an order, but the Doctor and the lady take little notice of him. They are standing by the window, exchanging words of some manner. He stands by the door and tries very hard not to listen. He cannot make out much of what they are saying, only the sounds of their voices. The lady with the giant head speaks sharply, and then softly; the Doctor replies and his voice sounds hollow, like the barrel of a cannon when all the powder is spent. His head droops wearily, exposing his neck.

The lady with the giant head reaches out toward the Doctor and Strax tenses. He knows well the movements of a warrior. He has seen her fight. This woman is trained. She is dangerous. And yet the Doctor does not flinch. He allows the woman to place her hand on his face - on his very face, when this woman could easily gouge out his eyes or find the vulnerable pulse point on his throat. Strax tenses, ready to defend either of them as necessary to keep the peace in his mistresses' house. But he notes that the Doctor's spine does not stiffen. If anything, the Doctor's posture softens. He opens himself to this strange woman and presents all of his weak points to her, and she does not strike.

It is surpassing strange. Especially when the Doctor opens his arms and the woman steps into them, resting her giant head on the Doctor's shoulder. That much Strax has seen before, many times. It frequently leads to the pressing together of faces, that awful symptom of the disease called love. This time, they only stand with their arms encircling each other. It is not the crushing embrace of two fighters, though their arms are locked tight. Strax sees the Doctor take a deep breath. He sees the shuddery way as the Doctor lets it out. The woman's strange head flutters with the Doctor's breath. It must be a terrible case of love, to affect them so.

They are two. They are one. It is a curious thing to see. Strax has always considered the Doctor to be individual, singular, but the way the Doctor rests against the woman tells another story. Strax considers the notion that even an individual may find comfort with another, and the woman is certainly singular as well. He has never seen another quite like her (her head being only one of her unique qualities) - perhaps that is a reason the Doctor takes solace in her. The woman must also know what it is like to be alone. Strax feels a brief twinge of companion-feeling for his fellow Sontarans, but the food is certainly better at Paternoster Row, and even though he does not press his face to his mistresses', they are worthy allies.

He watches the strength grow quietly between them: the Doctor's shoulders firm, the woman's voice coaxes less and praises more as she speaks quietly. He wonders if they will be in need of a nurse, although the woman looks well-equipped to deal with that eventuality. The woman leans back slightly, but the Doctor pulls her close again, murmuring something much too low for Strax to hear, and she rests against him in the seeming of relief. They stand that way for a larger-than-expected number of minutes. Even Strax marching in to check the teapot - still full! tepid! - does not cause them to separate.

"More tea?" he demands.

The woman tilts her giant head to look at him, her cheek still resting on the Doctor's shoulder.

"Yes please," the Doctor says, his voice muffled by the woman's head.

"I will procure it immediately," Strax promises.

"And lemon," the woman tells him.

"Of course," Strax says, hefting the tray. As he leaves the room, he can hear the woman laughing softly against the Doctor's neck. Strax hums to himself, a cheery Sontaran slaughtering march, as he goes to fetch more tea. Behind him, he hears the woman say something in a teasing tone, her words abruptly cut off, and he suspects that faces are being pressed together. He hums a little more loudly, enjoying the way the dishes rattle on the tray as he marches to the kitchen.

"Fight, fight, fight!" he chants as the boils the water. He isn't certain why he feels so well, but it is altogether a good day to be alive and fighting, and to have such worthy companions to stand with. It is a good day to be one among several, a unit. As the Doctor and the woman are stronger together, so shall they all be stronger together.

He only hopes his garlic will protect him from the disease of love. Just to be sure, he crushes a few cloves between his teeth as he takes the fresh tray of tea back to the parlor. A Sontaran is only prepared to go so far for his brothers- and sisters-in-arms.