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Empty skies

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The night sky is beautiful. And vast, and empty, and slightly overwhelming, really, if you consider that what can be seen is only a fraction of the size of the universe. Yasmin Khan loved to look at it because it never failed to make her feel alive, and so very human. Even with the backdrop of Sheffield in front of it - high-rise flats, the distant sound of sirens, hundreds of houses laid out over its rolling hills - the beauty and majesty of the sky at night was never tamed or diminished. 

Despite its immense size, she had seen more of the universe than most people on the planet - excluding Ryan and Graham, of course - yet she never tired of returning home. Her family were here, and although she knew she was changing as a person on an almost daily basis, they always surrounded her with love. Without question. She knew they could see the changes in her and was grateful when they just accepted how things were going to be from now on. After some of the things they had seen on their travels, Yaz realised just how special that unconditional love was. 

Graham and Ryan had each other to depend on, but there was no way she could tell her family about their adventures. The idea filled her with anxiety; why mess with their dynamic when it worked so well? Yaz sighed as she leaned on her palm, elbow braced against the patrol car window. It was a quiet night shift, which she should have been grateful for, but honestly? She could have used some distraction. A very large part of her thoughts were preoccupied with something that she had become rather good at compartmentalising, but when life was quiet and slow it became harder to ignore the weight on her mind.

It had been weeks since she had seen the Doctor. Just thinking about her left lead in Yaz's stomach. She tried to focus on the chatter over the radio but it wasn't enough to stop her thoughts from drifting. 

The night sky and its component stars may have struck awe in Yasmin Khan, but they also never failed to remind her of the most brilliant person she had ever met. Sometimes, it hurt to look at them.

Chapter Text

Four weeks earlier

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"You sure you don't want to come in for tea?"

The Doctor briefly shook her head. 

"I think I might have weirded your family out, last time." She grimaced, thinking of her rambling about sofas and flats. 

"No, they loved you! Come on." Yaz reached for the Doctor's hand without thinking, buoyed by another day spent together and not wanting it to end. Yaz also knew the Doctor loved to come for tea, and she wasn't going to take no for an answer.

"Mum? Dad?" She called out as she unlocked the door. 

Silence. Yaz pocketed her keys, all but pulling the Doctor over the threshold.

"Sonya?"

"Nobody home?" The Doctor seemed slightly relieved. Yaz wondered if her mum's interrogation during their previous visit had given the Doctor a complex. Najia still asked Yaz about the Doctor every now and again after they had battled the spiders invading Sheffield together, and Yaz always gave the most vague answers she possibly could. This didn't deter her mum from repeatedly pestering her with the same questions. She supposed it was a mum thing, wanting to know who her daughter was dating.

"Doesn't look like it. Still, I can fix us something. Are you hungry?"

The Doctor pondered the question as she draped her coat over the back of a dining chair. "D'you have any cake?"

Yaz rolled her eyes. 

"I had a feeling you'd ask. You have such a sweet tooth." 

The Doctor grinned. "And you know me so well, Yasmin Khan."

They were chatting away over cups of tea and slices of chocolate cake when Najia arrived home from work half an hour later.

"Oh! Yaz, you should have said you were bringing your...friend." Najia turned to the Doctor, who looked like a deer caught in the headlights. 

"Hi, Yaz's mum!" The Doctor stood up awkwardly as she entered the room, before offering to make Najia a cup of tea.

"That would be lovely, thank you, Doctor."

Yaz nipped to the loo while the Doctor was busy with the kettle, figuring the two of them could survive together for a couple of minutes. 

"So, Doctor, I haven't seen you since we were running around that hotel. Yasmin really likes spending time with you." The Doctor turned around to realise she was alone with Yaz's mum and her eyes widened. Belatedly, she passed Najia a cup of tea, and used the opportunity to recover. Talking about Yaz came as easily as breathing. 

"Oh really? Brilliant. I like spending time with Yaz too, your daughter really is an awesome human being." The Doctor flopped down into her chair as Najia smiled at her over the rim of her cup. Something about her choice of words was a little unusual, but Najia couldn't deny they seemed sincere. 

"I don't quite know what it is you get up to together, but I haven't seen Yasmin this happy in a while."

The Doctor ducked her head, fiddling with the teaspoon on her plate. There was a question in there that she wasn't sure how to answer. Luckily, she was saved by Yaz's return.

"My ears are burning, mum," Yaz said as she pulled up the chair next to the Doctor. She watched the blonde relax as the interrogation ended, and the three of them chatted idly over another cup of tea. The Doctor inhaled another slice of cake before excusing herself so that Yaz could spend some time with her mum.

Yaz protested but she knew the Doctor still felt a bit uncomfortable. They had made progress today, at least.

"Come back for tea soon, Doctor?" 

Yaz smiled - her mum seemed to be as caught up in the Doctor as she was. 

"Definitely. Thanks for the tea and cake, Najia." The Doctor smiled as she pulled on her coat and Yaz walked her to the door, out of earshot of her mum. 

"Wait a second, hang on," Yaz laughed, pulling the Doctor's sleeve to stop her as she opened the front door. 

"You have chocolate....right....here," she murmured, using her thumb to wipe away some stray icing on the Doctor's cheek. Her skin felt soft and warm, and Yaz realised she'd moved her face rather close. She could feel the warm puffs of air the Doctor exhaled as they looked at each other for a few quiet seconds, before Yaz finally pulled away. 

"There, that's better." The Doctor swallowed hard as Yaz licked the icing from her thumb. Yaz noticed. 

"I'll see you on Saturday, then?" The Doctor nodded, lost for words. 

"See you then," she finally murmured, giving a small wave as she headed back to the TARDIS. Yaz watched her leave with a pang of something she couldn't describe; it was always hard parting ways with the Doctor. She was ruminating on this as she shut the door, turning around to walk straight into her mother. 

"Mum! You'll give me a heart attack one of these days." Yaz clutched at her chest for emphasis. 

"Are you sure you're not seeing each other?" Najia was unperturbed. 

"Not this again," Yaz groaned. Her heart was still thumping in her chest but she couldn't tell whether it was from the fright or from her interaction with the Doctor. 

"No, we are not seeing each other."

Najia raised an eyebrow. 

Yaz's shoulders slumped. Maybe it was leftover adrenaline from what had just transpired at the door, or maybe the repeated questions had finally ground her down. "Honestly? It's never going to happen." She seemed to deflate as she finally said the words aloud.

Najia eyed her daughter with sympathy. Finally, she had found a chink in her armour. 

"Want to talk about it?" She asked casually, already knowing the answer. 

"Nah, there's nothing to talk about. I'm gonna go chill in my room for a bit, okay?"

Najia watched Yaz walk down the hallway, the previous spring in her step gone. She knew she was onto something from the first time she'd seen them together. Motherly intuition, perhaps. She shook her head, knowing that this was something for the two of them to figure out together, but she wondered if there was something she could do to...help them along. 

Yaz leaned her forehead on her bedroom door as she closed it. It had been a long day and her nerves were frazzled. She replayed her farewell with the Doctor in her mind - the way the Doctor had gulped, and gone quiet. She was probably reading far too much into things. Frustrated, she collapsed onto her bed, fluffed up the pillows under her head, and stared at the glow-in-the-dark stars on her ceiling, which she'd stuck up as a space-obsessed 8-year-old. 

If only 8-year-old me could see me now. What a mess.

On the street below, the Doctor gazed up at Yaz's flat, then to the stars beyond. Safer territory. She unlocked the TARDIS, looking back one final time, before disappearing into the night. Alone.

Chapter Text

Saturday seemed to roll around particularly slowly, but as soon as Yaz's alarm went off that morning, she shot out of bed. She was not normally a morning person, but travel days with the Doctor were the highlight of her week. 

Distantly, she heard her sister open her bedroom door and she shook herself out of her thoughts and shot up from the edge of her bed, racing to the bathroom before Sonya could barricade herself in there for half an hour.

"Hey!" Sonya groused, half awake as she shuffled down the dark hallway. 

"You snooze, you lose!" shouted Yaz through the closed door.

She heard Sonya groan as she stumbled back to her room and chuckled as she started brushing her teeth. Today was going to be fun.

She met Graham and Ryan at their usual pick-up spot, outside Graham's house, and they chatted excitedly as they awaited the arrival of the TARDIS. Sometimes Graham and Ryan took bets on how late the Doctor would be. Yaz handed them a takeaway coffee each as they waited, placing the Doctor's - decaf, obviously - on the garden wall.

Today, she was only 7 minutes late. Yaz would never get bored of watching the TARDIS materialise in front of them, especially when it contained the Doctor. It was like receiving the best gift ever. 

"Not bad," Ryan admitted, inspecting his watch as they waited for the Doctor to open the door. This was Yaz's favourite part.

"Morning, fam!" The Doctor leaned out of the TARDIS, full of energy, and Yaz broke into a smile. Every time. "What are we feeling today?"

This was their routine. As Graham and Ryan suggested places and people to visit, Yaz let them run out of steam. Finally, she chipped in with one carefully considered suggestion.

"Ancient Greece."

The Doctor locked eyes with Yaz instantly, and it became clear that Yaz's choice had won. She bit back a smile, handing the Doctor her coffee. 

"Hey, that's bribery!" Ryan complained.

"No, that's a good friend. Besides, what are you drinking right now?" The Doctor nodded towards the cup in Ryan's hand. 

"She has a point, son," Graham laughed, as they bundled into the TARDIS. Yaz was last to follow, holding her breath as she squeezed past the Doctor. 

"Great suggestion, Yaz. If the TARDIS behaves, maybe we can find Socrates! He owes me a drink." 

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Ryan got over his complaint pretty quickly when he realised he could wear shorts. They'd left Sheffield on a grey October day and landed in Greek springtime. 

He and Graham had chosen to browse the market, while Yaz and the Doctor had opted to check out the Acropolis. 

They returned from their hike a few hours later, sweating in the heat, and took a moment to sit in the shade and catch their breath. 

"Thank you for indulging me," said Yaz, and the Doctor waved her off with a smile. Her sleeves were rolled up to her elbows, jacket flung over her shoulder, and Yaz couldn't help but admire the lines of muscle defining her slender arms. At least the could blame her breathlessness on the exercise. 

"This is one of my favourite times to visit. I really must introduce you to Socrates, though, and not just so he can buy me a drink. I think you'd get on like a house on fire."

"Me and Socrates? The philosopher? Somehow, I doubt that."

The Doctor shrugged. "Give him a decent glass of wine and he will talk about anything. Most fascinating person I've ever met."

Yaz had to bite her tongue, knowing full well that nobody would ever surpass the Doctor in her mind.  

"In fact....I think we could do with a drink right about now. Shall we see if we can find him?"

The Doctor had barely finished speaking before she was marching off. They found the great man with barely any effort, surrounded by followers and admirers in the Pnyx, and the Doctor wasted even less time reminding him that he owed her a drink. 

"Well I never, I didn't think I'd see you again, my dear friend!" Yaz couldn't help but like the old man, who greeted the Doctor with enthusiasm matched only by the woman herself. 

After being introduced, the three excused themselves from the disappointed crowd in order to find some wine and a quiet place to talk. Graham and Ryan found them there a couple of hours later, more than merry on wine and good conversation. 

"Whoah, what did we miss?" Graham said, pulling up a chair. The five of them talked long into the evening, finally calling it a night when Ryan fell off his stool. 

"I swear, it's not the wine," he muttered, hands held high. 

"Yeah, yeah, say what you like, my son, but I think it's time we called it a night."

Yaz yawned. "I'll follow you back in a minute," she said, looking to the Doctor. There was no way she was going to leave while the Doctor was in the midst of a philosophical drunk debate with Socrates. 

Eventually even the Doctor had to call it quits, muttering something about the limited regenerative capacities of her liver, and all but dragged Yaz with her. 

"Come on, Yaz. Time for bed." Yaz didn't think she could have disagreed, even if she wanted to, when the Doctor's arm was linked with hers. She could feel those damn biceps through two layers of clothing. 

"Well, that was fun!" she exclaimed, as they meandered back to the TARDIS. 

"What did I tell ya?" The Doctor beamed. "Anyone who says philosophy is dull obviously never met the right people."

"To be fair, Doctor, I don't think anyone alive today can have claimed to met the founder of western philosophy." Yaz felt the Doctor's arm squeeze hers as she pulled her along. 

"You may have a point," she agreed. "Let's pick up where we left off tomorrow, I have so much more I want to ask him." With that, the Doctor fished out her key to open the door, and Yaz realised they'd arrived back at the TARDIS. She had no idea how it had happened - it felt like they'd floated back on wine and giggles. 

"Shhhh," the Doctor whispered melodramatically, as she tiptoed into the console room. Her boots clanged even more than usual, which Yaz found hilarious.

"What's so funny?" The Doctor wobbled where she stood, hands on her hips.

"I thought you'd be less of a lush than this," Yaz joked, trying to stop wobbling herself. 

"Pfft. I'm fine." The Doctor span on her heel to prove her point, then nearly fell flat on her face, room spinning. 

"Doctor!" 

"I'm fine, I'm fine," the Doctor groaned, eyes shut. Yaz walked over to support the tipsy Time Lord.

"You are not. Come on, you can crash with me."

The Doctor leaned into Yaz's loose grip around her waist and Yaz felt her breath catch at the sudden proximity. Even drunk, she knew she had crossed an unacknowledged but very existent boundary. The Doctor was wriggling in her arms.

"No, no. Can't do that, Yaz," grumbled the Doctor, pushing herself up and away from her companion. 

Yaz had to bite back her first response of Why?, knowing that they were far too drunk to have a sensible conversation. 

"Suit yourself. I'll see you in the morning." 

Yaz knew she was being petty but the Doctor was being equally stubborn, and Yaz refused to be drawn into the back and forth of it all. 

She turned back, briefly, to see a look of hurt flash across the Doctor's features. She stood by the console, arms wrapped around herself, looking desperately lonely. Yaz felt her heart melt. She spoke before her brain could intervene. 

"Why do you keep pushing me away?" 

She didn't recognise the sound of her own voice, much less the words she'd just come out with. She and the Doctor had had their fair share of serious chats, but never about anything to do with their friendship. 

"'m not," the Doctor said, thrusting her hands into her coat pockets. She looked at Yaz with such longing that Yaz knew, instantly, that there really was something there. All those months of travelling together, getting closer - it felt like it was inevitable. Especially when the two of them paired off to explore together. 

"Alright then, what would you call this? You always keep me at arm's length."

The Doctor sighed. "I'm not sure this is the best time to discuss this," she said, raising a hand to pinch the bridge of her nose. 

"Probably not," Yaz admitted, "but if not now, then when?"

The Doctor didn't answer. Yaz felt irritation start to edge into her mood, like raindrops gradually soaking through her clothes on a miserable Sheffield day. 

"Alright then, never. We will never talk about this." Yaz raised her hands in defeat. "I knew this was a mistake."

The Doctor closed her eyes, the quietest Yaz had ever seen her, and Yaz left the room without another word, tears brimming in her eyes. How could one of the best days in recent memory have ended so badly? She instantly regretted her words, feeling sick to her stomach, and stopped in her tracks, turning around and marching back to where the Doctor still stood. Her mum's advice about never ending a night on an argument was something she always tried to stick to. 

"I'm sorry," she breathed, "I'm so sorry." She pulled the Doctor into a hug and held on tight as she felt hot tears splash the skin of her neck. What have I done? She pulled back to look the Doctor in the eye, distraught at the sign of tears. Tears that she had caused.

"You have your reasons, Doctor. I get it. I'm so-" her words were abruptly cut off by the Doctor's lips, which devoured whatever she was trying to say and deprived Yaz of oxygen. But Yaz barely noticed anything other than the feel of the Doctor's mouth moving against her own, desperate and hungry. Instantly she felt heat pool between her legs.

"Shit," she mumbled, pulling away, hand to her mouth, kiss-swollen and tingling. The Doctor was looking at her strangely, like she didn't know what to do with herself, when Yaz wrapped her fingers around her suspenders and pulled her in again, throwing caution to the wind. 

One hand wound itself in the Doctor's hair as the other impatiently pulled a suspender off her shoulder, before tugging the Doctor's shirts out of her trousers and working its way underneath, eager to touch skin. The Doctor gasped as Yaz found her breast, then deepened the kiss as she pushed Yaz back against the console. She placed her hands under Yaz's backside, pulling her up and urging her to sit on the flat surface. Yaz couldn't stop the moan that escaped as the Doctor pulled herself flush between her legs, deftly unbuttoning her shorts with one hand as she held Yaz's head still with the other. 

They were so engrossed in each other that it didn't bother either of them that they were about to fuck in a shared space. In fact, it was the furthest thing from Yaz's mind as she finally felt the Doctor enter her with two fingers, starting a demanding pace that left Yaz falling apart within minutes. They both panted against each other, Yaz struggling to comprehend what had just happened, when the Doctor was suddenly gone from between her legs. 

"Wait, where are you going?"

The Doctor held out her hand, still slick, and tugged Yaz towards her bedroom.

Chapter Text

Yaz woke up naked. There was a pleasant but tired feeling between her thighs and she felt like she needed a shower, but none of that mattered. She couldn't help but smile as she remembered how late she and the Doctor had stayed awake, exploring each other, until they had practically passed out. Eager to see her lover, to touch her, Yaz rolled over and into an empty bed.

She frowned, her hand patting the sheets as if it didn't believe her eyes. The sheets and pillow were cold, with no trace of the Doctor to be found. There was the faintest scent of engine oil but that was the only indication she had ever been there.

It definitely hadn't been a dream. She knew the Doctor didn't need much sleep - perhaps she had gone to tinker with the TARDIS. 

Yaz took a few minutes to pick her clothes up from the floor, shoving them on carelessly as she tried to keep her anxiety in check. There must be a good reason she's not here

Yaz breathed a sigh of relief when she saw the Doctor's legs poking out from under the console. The one they'd....Yaz blushed.

"Morning, Doctor." She winced as the pair of legs jerked and there was a muffled bang from underneath the console. No doubt the Doctor had smacked her head. 

"Sorry!"

"S'ok, Yaz." The Doctor resumed tinkering.

"So....what are the plans for today?" Yaz felt awkward, wanting nothing more than to see the Doctor's face. She didn't emerge.

"I've already taken Graham and Ryan home. We're parked outside your flat."

Yaz felt disappointment lurch through her. Of all the ways she had expected this morning to go, this was not one of them..

"I thought we were going back to see Socrates?"

"Change of plan."

Yaz was getting frustrated with the curt answers and inability to gauge the Doctor's expression. 

"Are you coming out of there?" Her tone was exasperated, but at least it prompted a response from the other woman.

Yaz heard the sound of tools being put down and finally the Doctor yanked herself out from under the panelling. 

"Here I am." Her face was like stone as she balanced her forearms on her knees, still sitting on the floor.

Yaz wasn't sure how to proceed. She'd never seen the Doctor this truculent. So she went with her gut feeling.

"Have I done something wrong? Because the last time I saw you, your head was between my legs and-"

"Stop." 

Yaz deflated. The Doctor pulled herself up from the floor, putting some distance between them. Yaz wrapped her arms around herself, suddenly cold. She felt a bit stupid standing around in shorts when it was no doubt raining outside. Unprepared, as she apparently was for this particular conversation. 

"Last night, I shouldn't have done what I did."

Yaz scoffed, hurt by her words. 

"What's that then? The kissing? Or the fucking?" Yaz had a potty mouth when she got angry, but her bluntness had the desired effect.

The Doctor had the good grace to look embarrassed. "Whatever you call it," she said, waving her fingers, "it can't happen again. I'm sorry."

"Are you really? You don't seem particularly sorry, Doctor. You seem to want to forget it even happened."

The Doctor frowned. 

"No, that's not what I meant..." She trailed off, unsure. 

"Well?" Yaz put her hands on her hips, waiting for a semi-decent explanation. 

"It's just... difficult," the Doctor shrugged, unwilling to make eye contact. 

"I really don't see what's so difficult about this. I like you, Doctor. And I thought you liked me too, but now I'm not so sure."

The Doctor finally locked eyes with her companion. 

"You like your idea of me. I don't think you'd like me all that much if you knew who I really was."

Yaz shook her head. 

"I know you, Doctor. You might not think I do, but I'm not stupid "

"I never said you were," the Doctor replied, face crumpling. "I would never, ever think that, please believe that at least."

Yaz laughed, the sound cold. 

"Well, right now I feel pretty stupid. Here I was, thinking I'd just had the best night of my life, and you can't even look at me. I must have been wasted to think this was even a possibility." She gestured at the empty space between them, longing to fill it and knowing, finally, she never could. Not properly. 

"I'll see you around." All of her cards played, she did the only thing she could to preserve herself. She turned and ran.

In her imagination, the Doctor called out her name and stopped her even reaching the TARDIS doors, admitting her stupidity, and they lived happily ever after. Fat chance

She left to the sound of silence, slamming the door on her way out. 

"Argh." The Doctor slapped a palm on her forehead. The TARDIS hummed in annoyance. 

"Don't you start," she groaned. "There's a reason I'm better off on my own. She has no idea what I'm capable of."

The Doctor slumped to the floor, energy sapping out of her scarily fast. Truth be told, she had wanted nothing more than to spend her morning in bed with Yaz. It tore at her very being to leave the cocoon they'd made together, safe and warm and full of sleepy happiness. But the Doctor...no, the Doctor did not deserve it.

She allowed herself to wallow in self-pity for a moment before lurching to her feet. "Right, then. Time to head off, I think. Any suggestions?" 

The TARDIS refused to respond. 

"We're leaving. End of story." With that, the Doctor started her pre-flight routine with a bit more carelessness and slapdash movements than usual. It was the only outward sign she gave of her inner turmoil. 

"Distress signal! Perfect. One person helping another. That's what I do, right?" She asked the empty room. "Here goes nothing."

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Yaz ignored the noise of the TARDIS disappearing. It was the final straw. 

She was just about holding it together until she opened her front door, shivering, and her mum poked her head around the corner. 

"Not sure about shorts in this weather, love," Najia smiled, but concern crinkled the corners of her eyes. 

It became full-blown worry when Yaz burst into tears in the hallway, inconsolable. 

"What happened? Come here, I'll make you some tea."

"Thanks, mum," Yaz sniffed. She felt warm and safe and instantly better. The Doctor had nobody, though, and it made her feel terrible once more. 

For her part, Najia had never seen Yaz like this. She made a conscious decision to ignore the hickey on her neck, knowing that to draw attention to it would only make things worse. But she had an inkling that she knew who was to blame. She captured Yaz's cheek in her hand, brushing away tears with her thumb.

"Do I need to have a word with the Doctor?" 

"She's gone, mum. She just left. And I don't think she's coming back."

Chapter Text

Present day

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Yaz had had enough. She flung the door open and stepped out of the car to stretch her legs, bored out of her mind and sick of the circles her thoughts kept spinning. She looked up at the night sky and wondered, for the umpteenth time, where in the universe the Doctor was. She ignored the sound of a message chiming in her pocket, knowing it was from Ryan. She couldn't deal with him just yet. 

Four weeks. Just about long enough to get over the worst of the fallout. Not quite long enough to feel her usual self, though. Najia knew it too, and insisted on cooking for Yaz before every shift, because she knew Yaz wasn't going to do it for herself. It broke her heart to see her daughter moping around the house. 

Every time she suggested they spend some time together - to go shopping, get lunch, see a film - Yaz brushed her off, saying she was too tired or not in the mood. And Yaz felt guilty doing it, knowing her mum was only trying to pull her out of herself, but she had never felt so terrible. Only the routine of work seemed to help take her mind off the Doctor. 

Finally, one ordinary Sunday afternoon, she surprised Najia by suggesting they go for tea and cake. They went to Yaz's favourite cafe and over Danishes, Yaz asked her mum about love. What it was meant to feel like, and how something that was meant to be nice could hurt so much. 

"If I knew the answer to that, Yasmin, I'd be rich." Her mum looked at her sympathetically.

Yaz toyed with the pastry on her plate, slightly uncomfortable with being so open about things. It was the first time she'd acknowledged, aloud, that she was in love. But it also felt freeing to share the burden with someone else, and it opened the floodgates. She left the cafe with a weight lifted from her shoulders, the start of a smile emerging as her mum linked their arms. It had been ages since they'd had a good chat. Not since the Doctor had fallen into her life and thrown everything upside down. 

"You know, Maggie's daughter is single...."

"Oh no, don't start playing matchmaker! I'm perfectly happy on my own right now," Yaz nudged her mum with their interlinked arms. "But thank you," she acknowledged, "for being so cool with this."

"How could I not be? You're my daughter, and I will always, always support you. I'm so proud of you, Yasmin."

Yaz stopped and pulled Najia in for a hug. Despite how shitty everything felt, she knew she was incredibly lucky to have her mum. Her phone vibrated as they separated, stopping their conversation, and Yaz felt guilty when she saw it was Graham calling. Her chat with Najia had helped her turn a corner, and now she needed to continue the conversation. It was time to acknowledge that she was the reason why the Doctor had disappeared.

"Can I?"

"Of course, love."

"I might meet you back at home, if that's okay?"

Najia waved her off and Yaz bit the bullet, answering the call. 

"Hi Graham. Yes, I know, long time no speak. I'm sorry for not answering before. No, I have no idea where she is."

Najia heard the conversation tail off as she left, reassured that at least Yaz was now talking about what was bothering her. 

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Yaz told Graham everything. Well, nearly everything. She skipped past the sex, but bluntly admitted that she and the Doctor had had an argument of epic proportions. 

"You argued? I can't see that happening." Graham was shocked. 

"Yeah, well...we disagreed about something pretty fundamental." Yaz winced as she remembered what had said. How she had left things. 

"Even so, this is the Doc we're talking about. She's the most positive person in the universe. I don't think she'd bear a grudge for that long, especially against you."

"Well, she has. I'm really sorry, but I'm not sure if she's ever coming back and it's all my fault."

"None of this self-pity, Yaz. In my experience, these lovers' quarrels burn fierce and hot and then-"

"It's not a lovers' quarrel," Yaz interjected, hoping she could keep what had actually happened a secret. 

She heard Graham sigh down the phone. 

"Yaz. I've seen the way you look at each other for goodness' sake. I get that you might not want to tell me everything, but I'm pretty sure even Ryan's noticed."

Yaz bit back a laugh, the first she'd felt in weeks. Trust Graham to manage that. The lightness it brought made her more willing to confide in him.

"Okay, okay. You might be onto something - but!" She stopped him from interrupting. "Please, please don't tell Ryan? He keeps asking me where she is and I can't answer." Graham obviously picked up on the plea in her tone. 

"Your secret is safe with me, and honestly, I'm happy you two finally did something about it. You were driving me mad, the pair of you. Mark my words, she'll come back. I won't lie though, I thought we'd have seen her by now. How long has it been?"

The thought unleashed a whole new world of anxiety. 

"Four weeks, give or take." Yaz knew the time down to the hour. "She's travelled alone before. I'm sure she's fine." She tried to reassure Graham, but now she was concerned, kicking herself for being so self-absorbed. This was the Doctor, the most positive, can-do person she'd ever met. Even in times of adversity, she would pull through. Would she really disappear for that long? 

Maybe she didn't know her that well after all. 

She ended the call with Graham even more confused than before. Maybe something really was wrong. But she was powerless to help, to understand what was happening. All she could do was wait, and hope. But hope was in short supply now that the Doctor was gone.  

Chapter Text

Yaz was listlessly staring out of her bedroom window a few days later when she felt her phone buzz in her pocket. Not tearing her eyes away from the raindrops spattering the windowpane, she fished it out, glancing down briefly to see who the message was from. Her heart leapt into her throat when she saw Graham's name flash up. He never texted her, always preferring to call.

Doc's here. Come quickly.

Yaz almost dropped the phone in surprise. She re-read the short message to be sure she'd read it properly, then she was up and grabbing a jacket from her wardrobe. 

Yaz tried to ignore the sting she felt when she realised the Doctor had gone to Graham instead of her. She wasn't sure why the thought even occurred to her, because who cared? The Doctor was back.

She barely remembered to grab her keys as she shoved her feet into some trainers by the front door. 

"Alright, love?" Her dad's voice drifted over from the kitchen. 

"Er....yeah, just popping out to see a friend."

She glanced back to see her parents share a look. 

"Say hi to the Doctor for us," said Najia, fixing her daughter with a knowing stare. Yaz flapped a hand at her, flustered, as she finally got her arm through her coat sleeve and accidentally slammed the front door behind her. She barely registered the noise, already calculating the quickest route to Graham's house and opting for an Uber. 

Of course, with the crappy weather, traffic was a nightmare. Yaz had to sit on her hands to stop fidgeting while the driver tried to make conversation. She felt her phone buzz again, grateful for the distraction. 

Where r u?

She fired off a quick reply to Ryan as the traffic finally started to move, then started to worry at the skin of her thumb with her teeth. 

At last, at last, she arrived. 

The door was already opening as she ran up the pathway. The TARDIS was nowhere to be seen, but Yaz could see a bucket of water on the front step. It looked like someone had been scrubbing it. 

"She's in the living room," Ryan said, looking extremely worried. His expression almost stopped Yaz in her tracks. Something was wrong. 

Wrong was the understatement of the century. 

Yaz felt the air leave her body when she saw the Doctor lying on the sofa. Nobody had warned her what to expect and the sight hit her like a punch to the gut. Part of her expected the Doctor to be bouncing around the room as usual. Instead, she was unconscious, deathly pale. Blood and mud matted her hair, and her face was nearly unrecognisable, covered in more blood and grime. 

Graham looked up as she walked in. The sympathy in his eyes made Yaz's knees wobble and she practically collapsed to them by the Doctor's side. The smell of blood and burnt clothing filled Yaz's nose, making her nauseous. She missed the normal comforting scent of the other woman. 

"What..."

Yaz raised a shaking hand to the Doctor's face, hesitant to touch the bruised and bloody skin. She looked like she had been through the wars. She probably had. Graham had covered the sofa in a towel but Yaz could already see the blood soaking into it.

"She just turned up on the doorstep," Graham said, before muttering something about tea and disappearing to the kitchen. Yaz realised with a sinking heart that someone had been scrubbing blood off the stone.

"She's not been doing that glowing thing." Ryan was leaning against the doorframe, keeping his distance. He seemed unsure of what to do with himself. Yaz tucked some blonde hair behind an ear. 

"That's good," she exhaled, worried that their Doctor would be replaced by someone new. She wasn't ready for that. Not yet. 

"She kept saying your name."

Yaz couldn't help but fix her eyes on the Doctor as Ryan spoke, saying nothing.

"What happened, Yaz? Why did she disappear?"

Yaz shook her head. "Long story."

"Come on, man, we were worried sick."

"Leave it, son," Graham chided as he returned with a tray of teacups. "Why don't you make yourself useful and get Grace's first aid kit?"

Ryan scoffed as he retreated. 

"Don't mind him, love," said Graham, kindly. "He's just worried."

Yaz finally tore her eyes away from the Doctor, grateful for Graham's intervention. 

"I don't know what happened," she muttered, moving her hand to pick up one of the Doctor's, brushing her thumb over the back of it.

"We'll find out soon enough, eh? Main thing is, you're here. She needs you."

They were interrupted by the Doctor mumbling in her sleep. 

"No...Yaz."

She sounded so distressed that even hearing her own name fall from the Doctor's lips did nothing to make Yaz feel better. 

"I'm here, Doctor, you're safe."

The Doctor seemed to disagree as she frowned, tossing her head as she gripped Yaz's hand tightly. 

"Yaz....please."

Yaz tried a more direct approach. She bent her head, speaking softly into her ear. 

"Doctor....it's Yaz. You're with me."

She heard Graham excuse himself to help Ryan and was grateful for the privacy. 

"I don't know if you can hear me but you're okay. I'm not letting go."

Yaz picked up their joined hands, kissing the back of the Doctor's. That seemed to have an effect, the frown line between the Doctor's brow easing, so Yaz kept talking, soothing the Doctor with her touch. It felt so very different from the last time they'd touched each other, but the actions calmed Yaz, too. They were familiar. 

She was so absorbed in her task that she was jerked out of her thoughts by Ryan's return. 

"Here," he muttered, passing her some clean cloths and a first aid kit of plasters and bandages. "Sorry. She worried me, is all." Graham must have talked to him

Yaz gave him a brief smile. 

"I know. It's ok. We'll fix her up."

Ryan nodded, passing her a bowl of warm water from Graham, and they watched quietly as Yaz set to work. 

"What am I going to do with you, eh? At least I can try and get this muck off your face." Yaz started to talk as she worked, cleaning the blood from the Doctor's face and covering a couple of nasty cuts with plasters. Grace had all shapes and sizes, and Yaz briefly considered using the dinosaur ones - no doubt Ryan would use them - before sticking with boring beige. 

The Doctor had gone quiet again, but at least her face was now clean. She looked more recognisable. Yaz cast her eye over the rest of her body, which was covered by charred and dirty clothes. The rainbow on her shirt was barely visible through splodges of what looked like mud. Or blood.

"I need to check her for any other wounds," Yaz said, looking up, and Ryan and Graham left the room with comic speed. Really, she felt hugely out of her depth at the idea, but being female meant the honours fell to her. 

Before she could start lifting her shirts, though, the Doctor's eyes opened. 

"Doctor!"

"Yaz?" It took a moment for her eyes to focus but as soon as they did, the Doctor shot upright, then groaned at the sudden movement. 

"It's okay," Yaz said as she held out her hands to stop the Doctor moving. 

"No...it's not."

"What do you mean?"

"I shouldn't be here," the Doctor muttered, wincing as she pulled her jacket tighter around her shoulders, shrinking into herself. "I'm not your responsibility."

Okay. That stung

"I didn't say you were, Doctor." Yaz tried to keep her voice level. The Doctor never dealt well with being injured. But given that this was the first time they had spoken since their argument, Yaz tried to bite her tongue. At least the Doctor was talking to her.

"Where's the TARDIS?" said the Doctor, trying to hoist herself to her feet. She refused to make eye contact with Yaz, who in turn was surprised at the strength of the injured woman.

"Graham?" Yaz shouted for the older man as she tried to keep her voice calm and the Doctor seated. She knew the Doctor would listen to him, at least. 

"Alright, Doc?" Graham was back in the room within seconds. 

"She wants to leave." Yaz looked at him for help and he cottoned on immediately. He knew the Doctor was a difficult patient and had a feeling Yaz was taking the brunt of it. 

"Why don't you let Yaz help sort you out and then we'll see about finding the TARDIS? Together."

"No," the Doctor shook her head. She was keen to get moving. "I'm fine."

"I dunno about that, Doc, you were out cold on my doorstep."

The Doctor finally made eye contact, but only with Graham. Still, Yaz kept a grip on her arms, trying to keep her seated. 

"We have no idea where you've been, Doc, or what happened to you. Yaz was just trying to clean you up."

Yaz felt the tension in the Doctor's body lessen as she finally stopped fighting and relaxed onto the cushions. 

"Just needed a nap on my favourite sofa." She seemed defeated. 

"Which is here whenever you need it. But Grace would have been appalled at the sight of you, we can't in good conscience leave you like this," said Graham, gesturing at the Doctor's battered appearance. 

She cast a look down herself, finally realising the state she was in, then followed the route from Yaz's hands to her face. Her companion was obviously trying not to cry. 

"Oh."

Yaz let out a choked laugh as they finally looked at each other, and the Doctor's gaze softened. She seemed to finally acknowledge that Yaz was there, finally accept she needed help. 

"We need to get you out of those clothes." 

As Yaz helped ease the Doctor off the sofa, she could feel Graham watching them. After encouraging the Doctor up the stairs, she waited for his question, gearing up for the answer she needed to give. 

"Are you alright, love?"

That was not what she'd expected.

"Not really, no," she muttered, and then there was wetness on her cheeks and her face was being pulled into Graham's shoulder. 

----------

Yaz leaned against the bathroom door, listening to the Doctor puttering about the bathroom. There was the sound of running water, then a stifled gasp and a groan. 

"Doctor? Do you need some help?"

There was no reply. 

"Doctor? I'm coming in unless you tell me otherwise."

Yaz gave it a beat before gingerly opening the door. The Doctor was perched on the side of the bath, shirts half off. Yaz could see bruises blossoming all over her rib cage, and a nasty looking gash that went below the waistband of her trousers. Thankfully, the bleeding had stopped.

The Doctor's knuckles were white as she gripped the edge of the bath, breathing through her teeth as pain rolled through her frame. 

"Don't even start to tell me you're fine."

"I just need to get these off and you can go," the Doctor panted, gesturing feebly at her shirts. 

"I'm not going anywhere."

The Doctor shook her head. 

"No, Doctor. You don't get a say in this. You can't push me away again, not until I know you're okay." The Doctor shuddered, shivering in the chill of the bathroom. Yaz kept her distance, but all she wanted to do was hold her.

"I don't deserve you, Yaz." The Doctor spoke so quietly that Yaz could barely believe her ears. She finally opted to crouch down by the Doctor's knees, gazing up at her. 

"Hey, listen to me. I don't care what's happened. Forget about it. Please? Just let me help you because right now, you need a friend."

The Doctor nodded and Yaz took the opportunity to help divest her of her remaining clothes. The sight of her body like this made Yaz's eyes water.

"Nothing I haven't seen before," she joked, trying to distract them both as she pulled the Doctor's trousers off, before wishing the ground would swallow her up. 

"Oof, even I know that was bad." There was the sign of a twinkle in the Doctor's eye, a sign of her old self. 

"You love it, really." Yaz started to tug off her socks.

"Yes, I do." Yaz's hands faltered on the second sock, her heart leaping in her chest. She looked up. 

The Doctor was gazing at her so softly that Yaz felt her walls start to crumble. The walls she had spent weeks rebuilding. 

"How do you do it?" She whispered. 

"What?"

"You get me to fall for you. Every time, despite my best judgment."

The Doctor chuckled lightly, catching Yaz's cheek in her palm. 

"Funny, I could say the same thing about you."
 
The Doctor's eyes wandered to Yaz's lips before she shivered again, and Yaz shook her head, desperate to regain control of the situation. 

"We're not doing this now. You're so cold you're basically blue. Jump in the shower and I'll try and get the blood out of your clothes." She guided the Doctor up and into the warm water before leaving the room, slumping against the door to regain her breath. 

Shit.

----------

While the Doctor showered, Yaz checked her phone to find two missed calls from her mum and a text asking if she was okay. 

Her hands were still shaking so Yaz opted to call her back. Of course, her mum wanted to know what had happened and as soon as Yaz told her, she insisted on coming over. To help, presumably, but Yaz had a feeling she wanted to speak with the Doctor, too. 

There was only so much she could do to prevent the force of nature that was Najia Khan. 

Chapter Text

Najia was there within half an hour, and made a beeline for her daughter, casting a wary eye at the bloodstained sofa. 

"What's going on?" She asked, alarmed.

Graham poked his head out from the kitchen. "Hi, Najia. The Doc got into a bit of a scrape but Yaz sorted her out. Cuppa tea?"

Najia perched next to Yaz, nodding her head as she took one of Yaz's hands in hers. 

"Alright, love?" She asked, using her other hand to tuck a loose strand of hair behind Yaz's ear. Yaz leaned into the loose touch, which turned into a sideways hug as Graham joined them, bearing tea. 

"Where is she?" Najia asked, unsure if she wanted to know the answer. 

"Back garden. Said she needed to get some air." Yaz sounded exhausted as she slumped into the contact. 

"Give me ten minutes, okay?" Najia set her teacup to one side, and Yaz knew she meant business.

She was too tired to argue. 

----------

Najia shut the kitchen door quietly behind her as she entered Graham's back garden, spying the Doctor immediately, despite the darkness. She was laid on her back in the grass, hands folded on her chest, watching the sky. 

"Most of these stars are dead, you know." The Doctor wasn't looking at her but Najia knew she'd sensed her presence instantly. 

"That star, right there? Deneb, it's older than me. Been around since before the Romans."

Najia refused to be sidelined by stargazing.

"Well then, someone as old as you should know better."

The Doctor gingerly pulled herself up to rest on her elbows, turning her gaze to Najia. The other woman felt a chill run through her at how ancient she looked. And alien. 

"Where are you even from, Doctor?"

The question seemed rhetorical. The Doctor crossed her legs carefully, tipping her head back to look at the sky. 

"It's not there anymore."

"You mean-"

"They're all dead."

The tone of her voice struck a chord with Najia, and she softened. She couldn't be angry for long at someone who sounded so lost, even if she had hurt her daughter terribly.

"Mind if I join you?" She gestured towards the grass beside the Doctor. Again, the question sounded rhetorical, since Najia was midway through joining her on the ground, but the Doctor answered anyway. 

"Be my guest. Bit damp, mind."

Najia winced as she felt the grass soak instantly through her trousers. The discomfort made her a bit blunter than usual. 

"I don't know quite what's happened between you two, but I think you should know that if you ever do something like that again, you'll regret it."

The Doctor nodded. "I deserve that."

"No, you don't, actually. But I have to say it because you need to realise how much you hurt Yasmin. Really, it's none of my business," she sighed. "All that matters is that she was so happy. You make her happy. Well, you normally do. She'd kill me for saying that."

The Doctor was quiet, digesting Najia's words. 

"I like to think that we're at a point where I can be honest."

The Doctor had to chuckle at that. "I think you've always been straight to the point, Najia."

Yaz's mum shrugged. "I have to be when my daughter is involved."

"I understand."

"What on earth happened to you? Do you normally make a habit of turning up half dead on your friend's doorstep?"

Najia is such a mum, the Doctor thought. 

"Got into a bit of trouble with some bounty hunters," the Doctor shrugged, groaning slightly as the movement pulled on bruised muscles. Najia eyed her carefully, concerned.

"That wasn't really an answer, Doctor. Are you normally this reckless? Actually, don't answer that. I think I know," Najia tutted. "Yaz was always into rebels."

"I try not to make a habit of it, but I swear to you," the Doctor said, earnestly, "I swear that I will always protect Yaz. I'd rather die than let her come to harm."

Najia nodded curtly in approval, her face barely visible in the dark of the garden. "In that case, what's stopping you from being together? You must know that she loves you."

The Doctor was quiet for a moment, collecting her thoughts and lining them up like ammunition. Najia stopped her from firing. 

"And don't give me any of that, 'I know what's best for Yasmin' talk, because that's my job."

The Doctor faltered.

"I only ever did what I thought would keep her safe," she said, finally.

"Listen to me, Doctor. There's general intelligence - which I know you have plenty of - and emotional intelligence, where I think you might fall a little short."

"Oi," the Doctor grumbled, before remembering who she was talking to. Najia fixed her with a look. 

"So - let me help you. Yaz is a grown woman, one we have tried to bring up with morals and values and honesty. She has chosen her path in life with all the love and support we could give her. And in turn, we expect her to give the same love and support to others. She recognises that in you, too, it's why you get on so well, no doubt. But the two of you together? Think about it."

From her posture, Najia could tell the Doctor had indeed considered the possibility. Najia remembered Yaz returning home in a pair of shorts, crying like there was no tomorrow, and she knew the Doctor had been to blame as soon as she saw her. But in the Doctor, she could also see a very hurt and confused individual, wrestling with their own demons. 

"I can't think of anyone more deserving of her love than you, Doctor. It seems like you need it more than anyone."

Najia heard the Doctor sniff beside her. 

"Please, just give her a chance to show you. You don't need to do this on your own."

Najia almost jumped out of her skin when a cold hand clasped hers, squeezing tight. 

"Najia Khan." The Doctor's voice was rough with emotion. "Now I see where Yaz gets it from."

Najia laughed aloud, delighted. "Come on, Doctor. You're freezing. Let's get you inside before you catch a cold." She helped the Doctor to her feet, wary of her injuries, and the two left the dark and cold for the warmth and light of Graham's house.

Chapter Text

For the first time in weeks, Yaz let a genuine smile emerge as she watched her mum guide the Doctor indoors.

"Ready to go home, Yasmin?" 

Yaz nodded, surprised, before looking to the Doctor, uncertain how to leave things. Her mum, of course, knew what she was thinking.  

"The Doctor is coming with us."

Everyone started to speak at once: the Doctor, protesting at having to leave her favourite sofa; Ryan, not wanting to let the Doctor out of his sight again; Graham, unsure the Doctor was able to travel; and Yaz, apprehensive about what the next few hours would bring, expressing similar uncertainty about bringing the Doctor home. But Najia overruled them all. 

"She needs a proper bed and some decent sleep."

"I'm right here, you know," the Doctor grumbled. Najia ignored her. 

"Come on, it's late and the Doctor needs to rest."

Yaz could only watch, slack-jawed, as her mum left the room with an obedient Doctor in tow. 

"Whatever your mum knows, she needs to tell us. How did she do that?" Graham was incredulous. 

"That's mums for you," Ryan laughed. 

"Wish me luck?" Yaz said, nervous at what was to come. 

"You don't need luck, Yaz. Just talk to her."

Graham gave her a pat on the arm and Ryan looked thoroughly confused. 

"Is someone gonna tell me what's going on?"

Yaz left them to it, not wanting to leave the Doctor alone for too long. She had no idea what her mum had been saying but she hoped, at the very least, it worked in her favour. She needn't have worried, though, because the Doctor was fast asleep in the back seat by the time she got to the car. 

"She keeps saying your name," Najia commented, and Yaz blushed. 

"Probably because you were talking about me. What exactly did you say?" She was genuinely curious. 

"That's for me to know, and for you to find out."

Yaz groaned, leaning her head back on the head rest and closing her eyes momentarily. The day had been an barrage of emotions, but she was running on adrenaline and nervous energy. 

----------

They managed to wake a grumbling Doctor up at the other end, and Yaz took the opportunity to wrap an arm around her waist before she could complain about it. She was relieved when the Doctor leaned into her, accepting the help. 

There was an awkward moment when Yaz reached her room, unsure if her mum meant for the Doctor to stay with Yaz. 

"I'll just make up the sofa, the Doctor can take my bed."

Najia shook her head. "She's injured, love, you can't leave her alone."

"Still here," the Doctor groused. 

Yaz knew an opening when she saw one. 

"Come on, then, time to rest." She steered the Doctor into her room, ignoring the wink her mum cast her way. Yaz drew the blinds and switched on her bedside lamp, manoeuvring the Doctor towards the bed. 

"Goodnight, you two. Sleep well."

"Night, mum. I love you." 

She closed the door, and then she and the Doctor were finally alone. In her bedroom. Months ago, if she'd known she would have been in this position, she'd have been panicking. But their relationship had already passed the point of no return. This felt like crunch time. 

"Let me just get you some pyjamas," said Yaz, busying herself to fill the silence. The Doctor perched on the end of the bed, watching attentively. She still hadn't said anything when Yaz returned, fluffy pyjamas in hand, and knelt in front of her. 

"Hey, where have you gone?" The quiet was unnerving. 

"I'm just trying to figure out what to say. In the right order. Because I think these words are going to be some of the most important I've ever said." Try as Yaz might to ignore it, the Doctor looked adorable when she was this earnest. 

She swallowed, hard. 

"Well, while you're thinking, why don't you get changed into something more comfortable? I can't imagine Ryan's clothes fit that well." She tugged on the oversized t-shirt, which was hanging off the Doctor's frame. "Do you want a hand?" 

The Doctor nodded, taking Yaz by surprise. 

"Hold still." Yaz carefully lifted the soft t-shirt over the Doctor's head, being careful not to catch her earring, and her heart skipped a beat when she realised the Doctor was completely bare underneath. The Doctor, for her part, was not fazed, so Yaz chose to focus on the bruises marring her ribs. The white bandage that covered the worst of her injuries was in striking contrast to the purples and blues of her skin, and was haphazardly applied. 

"How did this happen?" Yaz asked, her fingers itching to touch the damaged skin and fix the bandage the Doctor had applied so poorly. They hovered an inch away as the Doctor held her breath, trying to stay still. The tension was palpable. 

"You can touch me," she whispered at last. "I won't break."

"I might. I hate seeing you like this," Yaz sighed, biting her lip as the Doctor shifted and winced. 

Her fingertips finally made contact and they both gasped at the sensation. Her warm palm gently smoothed over the Doctor's side, as if she could heal her with touch alone. The contact settled Yaz's nerves and seemed to do the same for the Doctor. She had missed this woman so very much, and took comfort in the rise and fall of the ribs beneath her hand.

"I thought you were dead when I first saw you, you know. I've never been so scared. I hadn't seen you in weeks, and then all of a sudden, Ryan was scrubbing your blood off Graham's front step." Yaz looked up at the Doctor from her position on the floor, still kneeling. 

"I may have slightly misjudged a situation with some angry bounty hunters," the Doctor grimaced. 

"This is why you shouldn't travel alone. Who's meant to watch your back otherwise?"

The Doctor stifled a shrug, realising she had to be honest. Her chat with Najia was fresh in her mind. 

"For a long time, I didn't think I was worthy of companionship. Who I am now - the person you know - I've not always been like this. There are parts of me that stay the same but every regeneration is slightly different. There are principles that never change, though, and one of those is that I have to protect others. If you and I..."

She trailed off. 

"If we were together?" Yaz supplied, hoping against hope. 

The Doctor nodded. 

"If we were together, that compromises my ability to protect you. To protect others. I can't reconcile it."

"I don't need protecting, Doctor. I know exactly what I'm in for."

"Do you?" Pain flashed through the Doctor's eyes. "Because I've lost so many people. Too many people I should have protected better. I think about them all the time and if anything like that ever happened to you, I-"

She broke off, lip quivering as she tried to reign in the torrent of emotion.  

"That morning, all I wanted to do was stay in bed with you. I never wanted to leave. I've not felt that way in many years, and it scared me. You scare me, in the best possible way, by the way, but you, Yasmin Khan, are truly terrifying to me."

Yaz got up from her knees, joining the Doctor on the bed, her touch still gentle.

"It scares me too, Doctor," she confessed, moving her other hand up to cradle her cheek. "But that's just it, isn't it? Nobody ever said anything worthwhile would be easy. And you know what? I choose this. And you can't take that choice away from me."

The Doctor could sense something of Najia in Yaz at that point and she couldn't help a small grin. 

"So it falls to you, Doctor. Is this what you want?"

Yaz realised how vulnerable the Doctor was at that moment - bare to Yaz's gaze, her touch. Sober, and not running away. They looked at one another as Yaz's hand drifted upwards to hold the side of the Doctor's chest, still avoiding the sensitive skin of her breast, and the Doctor's gaze briefly wandered to Yaz's lips.

"I'm here. I'm not going anywhere this time," she murmured in response. 

They were sitting so close that Yaz could feel the Doctor trembling under her hands. She mentally kicked herself. 

"Are you cold? Sorry, I made you get undressed and forgot to give you new clothes." Yaz nodded to the pyjamas abandoned on the floor, moving to get up, but the Doctor stopped her. 

"Not cold, no."

One of the Doctor's hands landed on Yaz's, bringing it around so it was touching her breast instead. Yaz inhaled sharply. 

"You're injured, Doctor, and exhausted. This is probably not the best idea right now."

"I don't care. I need to feel you." There was a glint of determination in her eyes, which were fully dilated in the dim light of the room. Yaz gulped at the gaze, which fixed her to the spot. It was intense and instantly triggered heat between her legs. 

"You promise you're not going to run away this time? Because that is a definite deal-breaker," Yaz chuckled, and the Doctor ducked her head. 

"I- yes. I'm so sorry, Yaz."

"Hey, no, it's okay. I shouldn't have said that."

"You had every right to. You deserve so much better than that. I don't know what I'm thinking, right now."

Suddenly, the Doctor was pulling away, and Yaz instantly regretted her joke. 

"Doctor, what's been and gone has already happened. So, it was a rubbish month. For both of us. I'm pretty sure you didn't mean to be gone for that long?"

The Doctor shook her head. "They captured me the day after I left."

Yaz's stomach dropped. "They...captured you? You didn't mention that bit," she chided. The Doctor had been captive for weeks. And I thought she was avoiding me. Yaz felt a bit sick.

"Come here," she said, opening her arms for a hug. The Doctor always loved a cuddle and Yaz had run out of words, not trusting her mouth any longer. 

The Doctor moved into the embrace and Yaz wrapped her arms around her, finally feeling her for the first time in weeks. She felt smaller, somehow. 

"You say you want to protect people, Doctor, that it's your MO. Well, mine is to look after you. To make sure you are happy and healthy and safe. If you'll let me?"

Yaz could feel the Doctor relax in her arms, nodding against her neck. Her heart was soaring. 

"I missed you so much. Just make sure you take me with you next time?" Yaz pulled back to look into the Doctor's eyes, smiling when the Doctor nodded. 

"Always, Yaz."

There was a beat of silence but before either one of them could say any more, the Doctor's ears pricked up. 

"D'you hear that?"

Yaz frowned. After a few more seconds, though, she did. 

"My TARDIS!" 

The Doctor jumped up, ignoring her injuries, and moved to the window, peeking out of the blinds. Yaz joined her and realised the TARDIS had parked herself outside her flat block. 

"She's finally forgiven me," the Doctor sighed in relief. She spun around to look at Yaz. 

"Do you forgive me?"

Yaz was taken by surprise. 

"Of course, Doctor. Not your fault you were kidnapped."

The Doctor shook her head. 

"No, for the bit before. When I left you after our wonderful night together."

Yaz realised the Doctor still felt guilty and needed to hear the words. 

"I forgive you, Doctor." As she said them, she realised she truly did bear no ill feeling. Mum would be proud.

It was like someone had cut a string that was holding the Doctor upright. Her relief was obvious. 

"Thank you."

Yaz smiled, and gestured at the Doctor's half-dressed state. 

"Come on, let's get you properly dressed and you can get some sleep."

The Doctor dropped her trousers without a second thought, and she was finally fully naked. The sight of her took Yaz's breath away. 

"You're beautiful," she breathed. 

"So are you."

Yaz blushed as she handed the pyjamas over and busied herself with her own, mindful of the Doctor's gaze on her as she undressed. It was intense.

Finally, they were both ready for bed, and Yaz got in first, lifting up the duvet for the Doctor. The other woman clambered in and gingerly lay down on her back as Yaz turned off the light. 

The Doctor stared up at Yaz's ceiling, transfixed by the stars. Her eyes widened as she realised what she was looking at.

Yaz followed her gaze and giggled, the sound filling the Doctor's heart with joy. 

"They don't quite compare to the ones you've shown me, Doctor."

The Doctor turned to Yaz and tenderly kissed her forehead.

"They're even better. Right here, in this room, is the only place in the universe I want to be. The stars are just the cherry on top."

They both looked up at the ceiling, feeling each other breathe, content for the first time in weeks. Yaz wasn't sure who nodded off first, but soon they were both asleep under a blanket of stars, warm and safe.

The night sky really is beautiful. 

Chapter Text

This time, when she woke up, Yaz rolled over into a warm body. She had no idea what time it was, nor did she care - all that mattered was that the Doctor was here, in her bed, moving backwards so that Yaz was spooning her, and mumbling sleepily as she grabbed hold of Yaz's hand to wrap it around her waist.

Yaz grinned as the Doctor hummed in contentment.

"Alright?"

"Never better," the Doctor mumbled, squeezing Yaz's hand.

"This feels nice."

"Mmm. Don't wanna move."

Yaz lay there for a moment, listening to the distant sound of traffic on the street below and trying to gauge the time. It was still dark out, and the flat was quiet. The Doctor eventually turned over to face her, smiling softly.

"Morning, you. Well, I think it's morning. Any idea what day it is?"

Yaz giggled. "It's Thursday."

"No work?" The Doctor questioned, eyebrows raised. Yaz gave a one-sided shrug, reluctant to remove her arm from the Doctor's waist.

"I've done so many shifts recently that they gave me the week off. I texted my boss yesterday."

"Why have you been working so much?" The Doctor noticed slight shadows under Yaz's eyes and wondered why she hadn't seen them before. There were more pressing matters. Like not regenerating.

"Honestly? I needed to keep busy. You were gone and I thought you weren't coming back."

The look on Yaz's face broke the Doctor's hearts. She lifted Yaz's hand to rest over them.

"I'm here now. And I can't make up for the time we've lost, but I can try."

They looked at one another and laughed as they started to speak at once.

"Can I-"

"I'm gonna-"

"You first," Yaz said, biting her lip.

"I was just going to say that I'm going to kiss you, now, if that's okay?"

The Doctor was being so gentle that Yaz softened even more, helpless to resist the feel of their bodies so close together.

The mood was completely different from their first time, which had been crazed, desperate. Now that they knew how much they had to play for - and lose - Yaz sensed that things were going to be much different this time around.

"Always. But I can't promise it will only be a kiss, you're already driving me slightly crazy."

"I am?" The Doctor was the picture of innocence but as she spoke, she slid her leg in between Yaz's.

"Yup," Yaz nodded quickly, her hand gripping the Doctor's pyjama top tighter. "It feels amazing to have you here."

"You know what would feel even more amazing?"

"I have an idea," Yaz mumbled, tugging on the Doctor's top to bring their lips together. She moaned quietly as they finally met, and it was like no time had passed. It felt electric and so very...right. Yaz moaned again, louder, as their tongues brushed, and pulled away.

"We have to be quiet, yeah?" She ran her thumb along the Doctor's glistening lower lip.

"I think I can manage that, my mouth is going to be pretty busy. But we'll have to see about you, especially if I do that thing-"

"Hey!" Yaz was indignant. "I can't help it if you're particularly good at that. And don't look so smug," she chided, but she was already blushing at the memory.

"Well I'll start off slow, how about that?"

"Only if you can move that way. Have your bruises healed?"

In response, the Doctor sat up, using the opportunity to straddle Yaz's narrow hips, and unbuttoned her pyjama top. Yaz held her breath as each button revealed more and more skin. She looked up at the Doctor as she grasped both sides of the material and pulled them gently aside, baring the other woman to the room.

"See, all gone. Fit for duty, me." The Doctor raised an eyebrow as Yaz's gaze finally landed on her breasts. Her hands shortly followed, her warm fingers mapping the soft weight of them, before working in concert with her thumbs to make the Doctor gasp as she focused on her nipples.

"Like that?" Yaz murmured, starting a mental notebook of things to remember in future. The Doctor nodded her head jerkily as Yaz tugged slightly.

"Still new. Hard to describe."

Yaz grinned as she pushed herself up with one hand, the other on the Doctor's bare back to stop her moving.

"How about this?" She asked, before replacing her fingers with her mouth. She felt the Doctor arch her back, one hand coming to rest on the back of her head as she moved.

"That....that's also pretty incredible."

"You are," Yaz said, moving her mouth from one breast to the other and smirking at the Doctor's resultant gasp. Her hand came up to massage the other breast and help work the Doctor up to the point where she was desperate for Yaz's touch elsewhere. The power it gave her felt incredible.

"Yaz, please." The Doctor groaned quietly. Yaz placed her hands on her hips, feeling them rock subtly in her lap.

"Patience, Doctor. I've been dreaming of this for weeks."

The Doctor started to pull on Yaz's t shirt, urging it over her head.

"When I was trapped, this was all I could think about," the Doctor admitted, her voice higher pitched than usual as she took Yaz in.

Yaz bit her lip as the Doctor's lips found the column of her neck. Her own hands weren't idle, running up and down the Doctor's sides and revelling in the feel of warm, soft skin under her hands.

The Doctor's were smoothing over Yaz's shoulders as she continued her onslaught, teasing the sensitive skin under Yaz's ear with her lips and tongue.

"Oh god," Yaz gasped, realising she was losing control of the situation. Rapidly. Keen to reassert herself, she pushed the Doctor off her lap and onto her back. The Doctor's eyes were almost black with arousal when Yaz looked down at her.

"Feeling bossy?"

"You know it."

Without further ado, Yaz hooked her fingertips into the sides of the Doctor's pyjama bottoms, tugging them down to her ankles, and giggling when the Doctor kicked them off impatiently.


She stopped laughing when the Doctor reached for her hand, putting it straight between her legs.

"Somebody's keen."


Yaz tried to play it cool but inside she was completely distracted by the feel of wet warmth. The Doctor squirmed as Yaz's thumb explored upwards and her fingers travelled further down, pushing inside slightly before retreating.

"You know, teasing me is a dangerous game," the Doctor groaned, and Yaz hushed her with a passionate kiss, demanding entry with her tongue and swallowing her moans as she braced her body weight with her left arm.

She felt the Doctor lift her leg and rest the ankle on her lower back, pulling Yaz closer, urging her to press into the space between her legs. Yaz realised she was fighting a losing battle and slowly pushed in with two fingers, muffling a particularly loud moan with her lips.

"Shhh," she whispered as she pulled back.

"Easy for you to say, you don't have such talented fingers up your-"

"Doctor!" Yaz blushed but couldn't help but laugh at the Doctor's predicament. "Do you think you can be quiet?" She stilled her fingers, waiting for the Doctor to reply.

She nodded, pulling Yaz to her again and cradling her between her thighs. Yaz started to move again, their breasts brushing as she hovered over the Doctor. Yaz looked down as the Doctor closed her eyes, her expression one of pure pleasure. I did that. Yaz couldn't help but feel a little smug as she continued her gentle thrusts.

"Harder," the Doctor keened, her breath coming in harsh gasps. Yaz was panting as she picked up the pace, pushing harder as she moved her hand between the Doctor's legs.

"You feel so good, so tight," she moaned softly, head dropping as she looked down to where they were joined. She could see her fingers moving fast, hear the slick noises they made as they slid in and out of the Doctor. Suddenly, she wanted a better view, and started to move down, but was stopped by the Doctor's limbs.

"Stay here?" They locked eyes and Yaz was surprised at the raw emotions she saw in the Doctor's gaze.

"Of course." The Doctor held her closer, obviously keen for the contact, and Yaz started to put her thumb to work instead. Her wrist was starting to burn and she knew from the last time that the Doctor wouldn't come from penetration alone.

"That's just the ticket," the Doctor sighed, as Yaz found her clit. Again, Yaz desperately wished she could be using her mouth instead, but who was she to deny this woman anything?

She could feel the velvet walls around her finger start to tighten in sync with the Doctor's frequent groans. Time for the final weapon.

Using her elbow to brace herself, Yaz dropped her head to the side of the Doctor's head, right by her ear. She could feel her rapid breaths tickle the damp skin of her neck and realised the Doctor was also covered in a thin sheen of sweat. It made the contact of their skin feel electric and Yaz brave.

"I still think about that night," Yaz murmured. "You came apart under my hands and you looked so beautiful." The Doctor sobbed as Yaz thrust harder, finding a spot inside that felt incredible.

"Right there," the Doctor gasped and Yaz focused her attention on hitting that spot with every thrust. The space around her fingers became smaller, making it harder to move, and Yaz could feel the tension build in the body beneath her.

"You look beautiful now," Yaz said, not caring how soppy it sounded. She lifted her head up and found the Doctor's eyes easily, and grinned. That seemed to do the trick because the Doctor's eyes suddenly slammed shut and her back arched as she groaned, loudly, which Yaz belatedly tried to mute with her mouth, claiming the Doctor's lips as her fingers worked her through her orgasm. She could feel the muscles in her body twitch as the wave passed and carefully slipped her fingers out once the walls around them had stopped contracting.

Yaz pushed herself up, eager to see the results of her labours. The Doctor was flushed, sweaty, and breathing hard, her breasts rising and falling rapidly as she tried to catch her breath. Yaz was over the moon that she was the one responsible.

"Yasmin Khan," the Doctor panted, eyes still closed. "You are never leaving this bed."

Yaz giggled as she lay by the Doctor's side, propping her head up on an elbow as she trailed her other hand across the Doctor's ribs. After a few moments, the Doctor opened her eyes, and Yaz gulped at the intensity of her gaze. She didn't tear her eyes away as the Doctor gently pushed her so that she was on her back. The look was almost feral.

"Your turn. You think you can be quiet?" The Doctor's eyebrow was raised in a challenge as she echoed Yaz's earlier query.

"Somehow I feel like you're going to make that hard," Yaz murmured, pinned to the spot, wriggling as she waited impatiently for the Doctor to touch her properly.

"I'll certainly try my best."

There was no pretence, no foreplay needed. Yaz almost cried out in relief as the Doctor finally reached between her legs.

"Seems like you might need a helping hand," the Doctor said with a cheeky grin.

"Well then, get on with it," Yaz gasped, spreading her legs wider.

"Yes, boss." The Doctor wasted no time in lowering herself to her elbows between Yaz's thighs, and Yaz blushed as she realised she was fully exposed, throwing an arm over her eyes.

"Hey, none of that now." The Doctor seemed to sense her discomfort. "You're the most amazing thing I've ever seen, Yasmin Khan."

Yaz nodded shakily, and then all rational thought went out of the window as the Doctor dipped her head and touched Yaz with her mouth.

"Fuck." Yaz's hips rose sharply upwards but the Doctor seemed to predict the move and stayed with her. She set to work with typical enthusiasm, her tongue finding Yaz's sensitive areas with ease.

When her lips joined in, forming a seal around her clit, Yaz distantly hoped they would never, ever leave. Her hips flew upwards again, and the Doctor used the opportunity to bring her fingers up, pushing one and then another inside the wet heat. It all happened so quickly that Yaz knew she would have no control over how her body reacted.

"Oh god." Yaz gasped as she felt the Doctor inside her. She felt full, complete, and looked down as she gently held the Doctor's head in place, encouraging her to keep using her mouth like that. The Doctor's eyes were closed in concentration as she worked over Yaz's clit with her tongue, and the sight of her between Yaz's legs only served to turn her on even more.

The Doctor, for her part, seemed to be enjoying this hugely, if her occasional hums were any indication. Yaz blushed as she heard the wet sounds from between her legs carry up to her ears, but realised she didn't care - the Doctor certainly wasn't bothered by the obscene noises, which she contributed to as she licked and sucked and fucked, hard.

The combination of the sights and sounds made Yaz start to spiral shockingly fast. Her thighs were starting to shake, and the Doctor could obviously tell because she started to soothe one with her free hand, all the while flicking over her clit in the exact way that drove Yaz wild.

"Fuck, I'm gonna come." Yaz could barely keep still under the Doctor's ministrations and distantly wondered how loud she was being. But she could barely reign it in when the Doctor made her feel this good.

Her hand unconsciously tightened in blonde hair as the Doctor thrust harder into her, not letting up her relentless pace on her clit. Yaz felt the tension start to coil like a spring, all over her body, and could barely breathe as it encompassed her, releasing in wave after wave of glorious release. Her mouth was open in a wordless cry as she came, hard. She could feel the Doctor guide her through it, gently, and stop before it became too sensitive to continue.

She tugged the Doctor up, then down, so that their lips could meet. Yaz moaned softly as she tasted herself on the Doctor's lips and pulled her in even closer.

"We need to do that again, sometime," she panted, and the Doctor nodded eagerly.

"Give me five minutes," said the Doctor, still catching her breath, and Yaz laughed, delighted. She smoothed her hands over the Doctor's back, memorising the moment.

"You're very good at that. But I suspect you already know that."

The Doctor grinned. "It's always nice to hear positive feedback. And you aren't so bad yourself, you know."

Yaz reached for a pillow and flung it at the Doctor, giggling despite her mock offense.

"You'll just have to let me keep practicing, then," she challenged.

"I'm sure that can be arranged," the Doctor said, reaching for Yaz's hand and linking their fingers together.

----------
Najia couldn't help but slow her pace as she walked past Yaz's room later that morning, on her way to make breakfast. She smiled as she heard laughter, before continuing on her way. Mission accomplished.