Fandom: Dr. Who
Characters: The Thirteenth Doctor, Yasmin Khan, Ryan Sinclair
Summary: They didn’t hold up the cosmos, of course, but Yaz thought they were a sign that the universe was good. She and the Thirteenth Doctor share some time, and thoughts about traditions of mystic beauty.
Author's Note: This was written, with affection, for muccamukk , during the 2018 fandom_stocking fun. She was interested in the Thirteenth Doctor and her companions, especially Yasmin Khan. I hope she likes this. NOTE: In deciding to imagine a facet of Yaz’s faith, I tried to tread carefully, and with respect, largely by keeping my comments as general as possible, while still referencing the tradition — which is not, as I understand it, a separate strain of the faith, but a practice and understanding of the faith that supersedes labels such as Sunni or Shia — known variously as Sufism or Tasawwuf. To any of my Whoniverse fans who are of the Muslim faith, please accept my apologies for any inaccuracies, or comments that lack that respect, and don’t hesitate to let me know; I’ll do my best to remedy those.
Edited by: my beloved dr_whuh. Thanks love.
Disclaimer: As much as I wish it were otherwise, nothing in the Whoniverse, save the occasional original character is mind. All others belong to the BBC and their respective creators. I intend no copyright infringement and take no coin. I merely love them, and thank the BBC for letting me play in its sandbox.
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They were there because Yaz asked to see the Pillars of Creation.
“They won’t look like they do in the pictures,” the Doctor had warned. “And they’re just a small part of the Eagle Nebula, which is interesting in its own right. You might like to see the whole thing — what about that?”
She knew it wouldn’t look like the pictures, she’d told the Doctor, hiding her vestigial disappointment about that astronomical fact. She still wanted to see it, and she reckoned it would still be awe-inspiring.
“It’s from space, not a magazine or a picture,” Yaz had explained. “It’s as real a view as a human’s going to get, I figure. Even if they don’t look like what NASA published, they’ll be amazing.” After a moment, she’d added, “And I’ll be seeing the whole Eagle Nebula too, right? That’ll be a win-win.”
The Doctor had grinned. “That’s brilliant, Yaz — you’re ready for whatever it is, and that’s exactly what an explorer should be like. Or a tourist, which I suppose is also what you are. And me, now that I think about it; I’ve been a celestial tourist for ages. So let’s fly to the Eagle, and you can look for as long as you like!”
Graham and Ryan were working on a decrepit Vauxhall they’d found in something akin to a garage down one of the dustier TARDIS passageways, and they’d be involved in automotive neepery for hours, leaving the road clear and straight to Yaz’s requested destination.
So here she was, sitting in the TARDIS doorway and kicking her heels with delight. There was the nebula, and the pillars at its heart, their shapes limned in the light of uncountable stars, the light magnified by the very dust and gases comprising their reality.
“Is it what you hoped it would be?” The Doctor sat down next to her. “Budge over. There’s lots of room for both of us.” And there was, which Yaz was absolutely certain hadn’t been the case when she sat down in the doorway.
“It’s … yeah, it’s what I hoped it would be,” Yaz answered, happy to be feeling the Doctor’s shoulder against hers. “Not like I’d hoped it would look like when I first saw the Hubble pictures, but oh, my gosh, so much more real.”
“S’pose it would be more dramatic with some music — there’s actually music all around the nebula, you know, but it’s radio waves and cosmic wind blowin’ dust around, and such, nothing a human can hear, sorry,” the Doctor said as she gazed happily at the cosmos outside the TARDIS door. “If I listen in Gallifreyan, I can hear it, but I think that’d be bad manners, me being able to enjoy it, and you not bein’ able to.
“So, yeah, Beethoven, or maybe Sibelius. I’d like to be fond of Wagner, so we could play some of that, but he was a terrible wanker.” She smiled at Yaz, who grinned back, completely confused at yet another thing the Doctor had said and increasingly determined to quiz her on what she was on about.
In fact, Yaz wanted to ask the Doctor about a lot of things. She’d been so busy seeing the universe with Graham and Ryan that she hadn’t confronted their strange companion about the outrageous comments she blithely uttered, but she’d kept most of them in her memory, and then in the notebook she still carried around. Once an ambitious junior copper on a case, always one, she thought.
And there’s no time like the present. “Gallifreyan … your language, right? So where’s Galli … Galiff?” She thought she made that fairly casual.
The TARDIS hummed behind them, like a contented tabby. The Doctor didn’t look at her for a minute. She shoved a hand through her blond hair, and the hand came to rest against the back of her neck. “Not Gallif. Good guess, but it’s Gallifrey.”
“Where’s that, then?” Yaz shifted, turning toward the Doctor so she could watch her face. Right now she looked pensive, hazel brown eyes large in her oval face.
“Well, that’s a bit of a mystery. I thought it was gone, dead and gone, but I found out it wasn’t, and that was one of the best things I’d learned in a while, let me tell you. But it’s not where it used to be, in the constellation of Kasterborous.” She wrinkled her nose a bit, something Yaz thought was incredibly cute, but usually signalled that the Doctor was just about to wander off in her own head, haring after the answer to who knows what questions.
She wasn’t going to let that happen, especially since she’d connected the dots pretty quickly, and it seemed awful. “So that means you’re not able to go home?”
The Doctor sighed, and shifted herself, so that she and Yaz were looking into each other’s eyes. Then she screwed up her face in that way people get when they’re determined to do the right thing, even if they don’t want to. “Yeah, sort of. I mean, I’m pretty sure I’ll get there eventually, taking the long way round … but it’ll be a long time.” She looked out at the pillars, and then back to Yaz. “But time’s something I’ve got a lot of.”
Yaz wanted to take back her last couple of questions, but that was impossible. “I’m sorry.”
The Doctor shrugged and, to Yaz’s surprise, her smile was open and free of pain. “I know. You’ve a kind heart, Yasmin Khan, and I’m sorry if my story hurt it. I want you to know, it’s OK. I’ve been through a lot, and this time around, I’ve been freed up to be happy. I’m not sittin’ around my TARDIS hiding my own broken heart, you know? I’m not angry, and I’m not … what d’you kids call it? I’m not emo, not this time around.”
Yaz pulled one leg up under her, trying to get a better sense of balance. “No, you’re not emo at all. You’re kind, and you’re brave, and you’re most definitely absolutely the smartest person I’ve ever met, but you’re not emo. And that’s fine. If I wanted emo I could go home and lock horns with Sonya or Mum.
“But there’s so much I don’t understand about you. Like, you keep saying things like ‘This time around’ like you’ve been reincarnated or something,” Yaz said. “And you talk about having been a man, like that’s nothing big —”
“It’s not, not for me, except that I’m really liking bein’ a woman, right?”
“That’s not the point,” Yaz pushed on, determined not to lose control of the conversation, at least not quite yet. “I know you’re alien, but that’s completely bonkers.”
The Doctor’s smile disappeared. “You’ve seen spiders the size of delivery vans, you’ve watched living cloth try to strangle the life out of anything walkin’ by, you’ve helped defeat a creature that pushes the teeth of his victims into his own skin, you’ve traveled in time both forward and back, which always drove Hawking spare when he talked to me … and me changin’ my plumbing’s bonkers?”
That was the thing about the Doctor, Yaz was reminded yet again; just when you were certain she was making absolutely no sense, she turned around and showed you that you were the one who wasn’t making sense. Yaz couldn’t help it; she started to laugh.
That, of course, set the Doctor off. And hearing her laugh made Yaz feel warm and happy.
“You’re right. Let’s just focus on the Pillars.”
The two of them did just that for a long time. That she was there, privileged to see the heavens directly, lulled Yaz into a dreamlike appreciation of their glories. She jumped a little when the Doctor spoke.
“They’re beautiful, aren’t they?” The Doctor had resettled herself, and her tee-shirted shoulder was once more bumping Yaz’s.
“Yeah.” After watching the Pillars for so long, Yaz felt as if they were indeed supporting all that existed, even as she knew that wasn’t the case. “It’s like God wanted to remind the universe of the beauty of everything.”
The Doctor raised an eyebrow. Oddly, that didn’t make Yaz feel embarrassed about what she’d said, so she continued. “You already know my family’s from Pakistan. Well, my grandad’s family came from a Sufi tradition somewhere along the way. You know Sufism?”
The Doctor cocked her head, and her smile turned speculative. “Yeah. I knew some of ‘em, those early folk, like Al-Ghazali.”
Yaz nodded. “Well, I don’t know much about tasawwuf, but my dad — he’s no expert, but he remembers some of the things Grandad told him when he was little — says that one of God’s names is “Beautiful,” because the whole of His creation is beautiful. I’ve probably got that all wrong, but being here, at the pillars, I thought about God being beauty. Seems right to me.”
When the Doctor reached out and took her hand, Yaz held her breath for a second, then breathed out and and relished the feel of her warm hand against the smooth cool of the Doctor’s palm. Cool skin. She really is alien. And beautiful, just like the rest of the universe.
Yaz put her head on the Doctor’s shoulder, and felt the Doctor squeeze her hand in return.
They were still sitting there when Graham came into the console room.
“Doc, where would I find a set of tyres to fit a 1976 Cavalier Mark I — oh.” He stopped for a second, then walked up behind the two of them. “What are you looking at?”
Yaz lifted her head, turning to smile up at Graham. “The beauty of the universe.”
Graham looked out over their heads. “Huh. That’s impressive.” Then he looked back at the two of them. “I didn’t think the TARDIS door was so wide.”
The Doctor laughed, and scrambled to her feet. “It won’t be for long. You’re looking for tyres; I’ll hunt some down.” She turned back to Yaz, extending her hand to help the younger woman up. “Is that all right, Yaz?”
Yaz could have stood another hour or so with her head on the Doctor’s shoulder, but she nodded, and grinned. “More than all right. If you two don’t mind, I’ll stay here a little while longer.”
“Completely understandable.” The Doctor nodded approvingly. “Once we outfit the Vauxhall, let’s head somewhere for lunch.”
“Lunch?” Graham didn’t look as if he’d mind, but he was curious.
“Yeah. Looking at the beauty of the universe can give one a tremendous hunger for everything, and right now I fancy a curry. Or pizza. Not certain which, yet,” the Doctor said. “Does that sound good to you, Yaz?”
Yaz’s smile was for the Doctor. “Yes. Yeah. Beautiful.”