The Ends of the Earth by vegetables

Summary: London, 1963. Two teachers stumble into a police box. London, 1962. The city is destroyed in nuclear fire. There were stories that happened before the first story was told. Before there was a beginning, something ends.
Rating: Teen
Categories: Thirteenth Doctor
Characters: The Doctor (13th), The Doctor (Ruth), Yasmin Khan
Genres: Action/Adventure, Alternate Universe, Angst, Drama, General, Introspection, Mixed, Romance, Standalone
Warnings: Explicit Violence, Swearing
Challenges: None
Series: None
Published: 2021.11.23
Updated: 2021.11.23

The Ends of the Earth by vegetables
Chapter 14: Chapter 14
Author's Notes:

Yaz knocked on Judith’s front door tentatively, hoping her nerves wouldn’t show. It was late in the morning now and nice for October, a pale sun hanging in the cloudless air. Birds chirped and the garden was full of smells. Nature trundled normally on, unaware of the end of the world.

Judith opened the door just a crack, then swung it open when she saw Yaz on the other side.

“Yaz,” she said. “How did you know I was in?”

Yaz shrugged. “It was a guess,” she said. “You were alright with the Doctor going to your work in the morning. I didn’t think you would be if you might meet her there.”

Judith nodded slightly, still tense but relaxing. “I can see why you became a police officer,” she said.

Yaz shifted uncomfortably.

“Yeah,” she said. “That’s— it’s sort of why I wanted to talk to you”—

Judith tensed up again. “I’ve never committed a crime!” she said.

“No!” Yaz said. “That’s not what I meant. We’re trained to”—

She sighed.

“We know when something’s not right with someone,” she said.

Judith laughed, hollowly. “Why would it be?” she said.

“I know,” said Yaz.

“I bought you a Battenberg cake,” she added, handing it over. “So that’s something.”

“Those’re nice,” said Judith. Her smile didn’t carry to her eyes.

“I wasn’t sure what you do for gifts in 1962,” said Yaz. “I had to look it up on my phone.”

Judith frowned. “You looked up your phone?”

“I wanted to show you. Maybe I’m not living on the Moon in 2020. But some things’ve changed.”

She handed over her big, flat smartphone to Judith, swiping and tapping the touchscreen to unlock it.

“It’s thanks to the Doctor that it works back here,” said Yaz. “In this time; in 1962. But the rest is all by us. It’s because of people.”

Judith swiped her way through the smartphone, her eyes widening as she scrolled through Yaz’s world.

“There’s so much,” Judith said. “Look at all these people writing songs! And what they’re wearing.”

“A lot’s happened,” said Yaz. “But the Queen is still alive.”

Judith kept staring at the smartphone, disbelieving of the device and the future it contained.

“I can’t imagine it,” she said. “How could things go on for that long? The Cold War never ending. Never getting hot.”

“Oh, it ended.” said Yaz. “But it was ages before I was even born. The fall of the Berlin Wall.”

Judith stared at her. “They took down the Berlin Wall?!” she said.”

“Yeah. Well. Someone did.”

“And what, the USSR just lets it happen?”

Yaz shook her head. “There isn’t any USSR any more.”

“What?!” said Judith. She looked like Yaz had told her the Moon was no longer there.

“Yeah,” said Yaz. “It all just falls apart. But I don’t know much about it.”

“Why don’t they strike back?” said Judith. “They’d rather die than see what they’ve built fall apart.”

Yaz felt her stomach clench as she realised she’d never thought about it before. The sense of the planet dying before she had even existed, a solidness in the world dropping away.

“I don’t know,” she said. “I’m sorry.”

“Are they all still there?” asked Judith. “The nuclear weapons?”

Yaz bit her lip, the pit in her stomach now widening into a chasm.

“Yeah,” she said. “I suppose they are.”

“That doesn’t make it sound like you think about them very much.”

“Maybe I should. I don’t think any of us really think of them, where I’m from. They feel like they belong in the past. To your time.”

Judith stared at her in disbelief. Yaz saw several versions of what might be said next flick over Judith’s face, before she chose what she had to say next as delicately as she could.

“Then I’m sorry,” she said. “But I think that your world… should think more about things. Whatever your phones might be like.”

Yaz sighed.

“When I’m here, now?” she said. “I can see why you would think that way. But where I’m from? With the pandemic, and global warming, with everything that’s going on. We’ve enough to be getting on with, without thinking about nuclear war.”

Judith didn’t say anything to that. She still looked like she wasn’t very convinced.

“I was thinking last night,” Yaz. “I’d be just the same as you, Judith, if I met someone from as far away. The time between you and me, that’s what? 58 years? That’s like me meeting someone from 2078. And that… it doesn’t even sound real. The future doesn’t feel real. Even though I’ve been there. And I wanted to talk to you because I wanted to say— that I’m scared too. Even if the Doctor doesn’t notice.”

For the first time in their conversation, Judith smiled in a way that looked real.

“Does she tell you too?” she said. “That it’s all going to be okay?”

Yaz laughed.

“She doesn’t tell me anything! But I wouldn’t find it helpful, anyway. Not after the year I’ve had.”

“I can’t believe it,” said Judith. “That this isn’t the end of the world. Even if she insists otherwise.”

Yaz looked at her with a strange smile, conspiratorially.

“Well,” she said. “I think there’s something she might’ve overlooked.”

She shrugged to herself, very slightly.

“It’s like you said, Judith. I am a good detective. And sometimes I notice what people themselves don’t see. So I think I might’ve got something. With her. And if I’m right the whole planet’s in danger.”

Judith laughed when she said that, and not in a bitter way. It sounded like she was almost happy to hear her world might be destroyed.

“I’m just thinking,” she said. “The Doctor said we’re not in danger and now you’re saying we might be. But I’m reassured by you. I wasn’t by her. Don’t you think that’s ridiculous?”

Yaz shook her head.

“No,” she said. “I think that it’s”—

She sighed.

“It’s human,” she said. “It’s only being human.”

Judith smiled, though her eyes were far away. Both of them were quiet for a while.

“This is too much cake just for me,” she said eventually. “Would you like some tea? I imagine you have that in 2020.”

“We do,” said Yaz, grinning. “And yeah. I’d like that, Judith. I’d like that very much.”

The two of them went into Judith’s house, happy to forget the world just for a while.

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