Yaz hadn’t known what to do with herself while the Doctor was away. Not that there actually was much to do, in that odd-smelling flat, once you were finished with judging the wallpaper. It was surprising how barren it was, seeing how the Doctor owned it: no books, no working television, no strange gadgets bundled into a corner. There was a radio, but she didn’t want to listen to it. Anyone would know she was depressed enough already.
The more the afternoon wore on, the more worried she found she was getting. She’d been with the Doctor long enough to know that she always won, against the aliens and the world-ending threats. Against everything. Easy to forget what she was actually facing, each time.
She did know on some level that she still had to prepare for it. There could be a day when her friend just wouldn’t come back.
And her friend hadn’t come back; she’d been gone for hours now. Eventually Yaz found herself on the road outside the house, just waiting. Maybe Judith would notice her, and maybe a part of Yaz wanted that. She didn’t know herself anymore; she usually didn’t. All she knew was that she was anxious, and scared, and tired. All she really wanted was to know that the Doctor would return.
She was worried she was seeing things when she finally saw her friend coming down the road. Just a delusion spun out of hope; she’d now had her fair share of those. But no, that was a coat the colour of the sky, that was a rainbow for a time that was nothing but rain. But her expression—
Yaz knew was always something slightly wild about her friend, which she tried to keep bottled up just beneath the surface. The cork had clearly come off the bottle now. Yaz wasn’t sure if she should think to be afraid.
“I couldn’t stop them,” the Doctor said numbly once she was close enough. “Yaz. I couldn’t”—
Yaz took her gently into her arms. She knew what trauma looked like, and overwhelm. She’d been trained in it. The force hadn’t covered what to do if you were dealing with an alien. But you had to improvise as an officer. You muddled through.
“Is it over?” Yaz heard her own voice saying. “Are we all doomed?”
The Doctor shook her head from inside Yaz’s arms.
“No,” the Doctor said. “But more people’re dead. Like Allie is, and that police officer. So many that I couldn’t save.”
“You can’t save everyone,” said Yaz, trying to feel it. “You know that.”
“Yeah. But I’ll always think that I could’ve done more. I’ll know it, Yaz.”
Yaz knew not to respond. She just held her friend as gently as she could—
—then stopped, her whole body suddenly tensing.
“Judith’s staring at us,” she said.
The Doctor turned round and glared right through the bottom-floor window, where Judith was looking suddenly sheepish. Yaz stared through the glass at her, not sure if she should be angry or apologetic, and Judith somehow looked even more miserable than when she was thinking about the end of the world.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “I shouldn’t be looking.”
The Doctor glowered at her through the glass.
“It’s two women hugging,” she said. “What’s to look at?”
Judith looked even more miserable, somehow.
“I didn’t want to make a fuss,” she said. “But you are, aren’t you? You know. You’re not just friends. You’re living in sin.”
Yaz and the Doctor just stared at her dumbly, too shocked to speak, to do anything at all.
“What did you just say?” said the Doctor, soft as a knife in the heart.
“None of us should be sinning at a time like this,” Judith said quietly.
“Jesus called,” said the Doctor. “He says there’s a beam in your eye. And he’s a carpenter, too; he’d probably know about that”—
Yaz looked firmly at Judith, jaw set.
“We don’t do that,” she said. “We’re only friends. We care about each other, have a laugh. But it’s not like that.”
“I hope that’s the truth,” she said. “Because none of us can escape judgement”—
“You’re definitely not escaping it now,” the Doctor snapped.
“Doctor,” Yaz said. “It’s, it’s 1962”—
“There’s things that doesn’t excuse!” said the Doctor, a nuclear war all on her own.
“C’mon,” said Yaz. “Let’s leave it be.”
“I bought you a Battenberg cake!” she added, shooting a glare at Judith.
She took the Doctor by the hand and led her back up the stairs to their flat fast as she could, before anyone could think of saying another thing.
“So rude!” said the Doctor once they were back inside.
“I know,” said Yaz. “It’s another world.”
“I’ll tell you,” said the Doctor, laughing hollowly. “It’s hard to save this planet sometimes.”
Yaz snorted, feeling something inside her snapping.
“What,” she said, “because we’re not all nicey nice all of the time?”
The Doctor laughed again, high and harsh and cold.
“It’s a bit more than that, Yaz”—
“You heard Judith talk about what her patients say about her,” Yaz said. “She’s still saving their lives. You think no one’s ever rude to me as a police officer? About how I look, who I am? You think we don’t know about prejudice?”
The Doctor stared at her.
“You’re mad at me,” she said flatly. “Not the homophobe.”
Yaz started to respond, then stopped, then sighed.
“I am mad at her,” she said. “And you. And— and everything. It’s too much. It’s all too much.”
She looked down at the floor.
“I listened to the radio a bit while you were gone,” she said. “I told myself I wouldn’t. America’s doing nuclear tests. Baring its fangs.”
“There’s some forces who you really don’t want to get angry,” muttered the Doctor.
“What happens now?” said Yaz. “With you?”
The Doctor sighed.
“Same as always,” she said. “I try to save the world. I have a read on the Time Lord who’s come here. I can track him down; discover his plans. Find a way out of this mess.”
Yaz frowned. “Isn’t he trying to track you down?”
The Doctor threw up her hands.
“Then at least someone in 1962 gets to be happy,” she said.
“People are worth saving, Doctor,” she said.
For a moment, Yaz was worried her friend might actually argue. Instead, she just flopped heavily down on a chair.
“I know, Yaz,” she said. “But that’s the thing about being the Doctor, right now.”
“It turns out there’s a lot that’s hard to remember.”