Pairing: Liz Shaw/ Leela
Rating: All Ages
Doctor Elisabeth Shaw climbed the stairs to her rooms with a heavy tread. 72 hours of solid experimentation ending in total failure was nothing new, but just once she’d like to have a glimmer of success. On the plus side, she reasoned that her weekend couldn’t get any worse.
That was before she opened her door.
‘Liz! Perfect timing.’ Boomed the strangest figure she had ever seen. Once she was past the manic grin and velvet trimmed overcoat she noticed the Police Box blocking the way to her kitchen.
‘Doctor?’ she started. Then she saw her.
The story starts a million billion ways. She’s a face in a newspaper, lining a worn drawer.
She’s a voice in the background as Colonel Faraday attempts to explain why Major Beresford won’t be collecting her.
She’s graffiti in a bomb shelter, a particle of theoretical possibility that seeps into Liz’s mind in one of those lost weekends.
She’s the shape in the crowd, not the one staring at the impossible ‘something’ overhead. Not the one running for their lives. She’s the one running toward it. She’s fearless, reckless, exhilarating and then, before Liz knows it, she’s in the woman’s toned arms. She looks like a model, vivid blue eyes sparkling, as if the summer sky is pouring straight through her into Liz’s very being, tinted with the pain of fond recognition.
She is a whispered command ‘Stay down, stay safe’. And then, she is gone.
That was three years ago. Now she’s back, stood cautiously in the shadow of this toothy lunatic from another world. Her skin is still on show but her skimpy leather costume is different. And so are her eyes now a rich, inexplicable brown that show no hint of recognition.
She is enough to derail Liz’s thoughts, her anger at the Time Lord’s unwarranted, no, unwanted intrusion into her life lost in the uneasy boredom. She is a Tiger in a zoo, weary of all the waiting and ready to pounce the moment your back is turned.
‘This is Leela, of the tribe of the Sevateem. She’s not as Savage as she looks. Oh, and don’t worry about the knife, she’s getting the hang of not threatening everyone we meet. Here Leela, give Doctor Shaw a Jelly baby. She looks like she’s had a shock.’
It was the strangest thing to see, the warrior woman taking the confection from the rumpled paper bag in the Doctor’s hand. She brought it across the short expanse of carpet and lifted it between them. The Doctor was still talking; some nonsense about requiring sugar at times of increased tension but nothing he said reached her.
‘He eats them. I do not see the fascination, they serve no purpose.’ Leela opined. With no response from Liz the so called savage raised her other hand and brushed a finger against Liz’s chin, following it with the jelly baby softly between her lips. Liz let a convoluted sigh escape past the sweet.
‘Well that’s settled then. I won’t be a mo’ The Doctor strode out, slamming the door behind him in his wake. Liz vaguely realised he’d been asking her something on his way out and realised her involuntary response must have been taken as a yes.
“Doctor?” the two women called after him, fruitlessly.
‘Teach me then.’ Leela stated.
‘I beg your pardon?’ Liz blinked at her. The atmosphere had changed completely. Everything seemed closer, warmer and Liz was fully prepared to blame the TARDIS for taking up most of the floor space.
‘The Doctor expects you to teach me something while he,’ she paused, searching for the correct turn of phrase. ‘Puts right the odd E qway shun?’
Liz didn’t like the sound of that, but she could hardly chase after the Doctor now. Even if she trusted the warrior enough to leave her alone.
‘What am I supposed to teach you? I have degrees in Physics, astrophysics, mathematics...’
‘I have been learning my numbers. The Doctor gives strange meaning to sensible things; I do not understand long dee vision. I can share a Narhbeast equally amongst the tribe, which is all I need to know. ’
‘Somehow I think I’m just the babysitter.’ Liz sighed. Leela frowned and sniffed the air.
‘You are not with child...’ she started, causing Liz to laugh. Leela’s frown became a sulky pout and Liz offered her hand.
‘I’m sorry; I think I understand why the Doctor wanted you to see me. I can’t offer you a cup of tea with that... thing in the way. But I may still have the odd bottle in the bedroom.’
Leela proved to be a walking definition of paradox. Liz started with basic mathematics only to find that the woman knew more than she had let on. One glass of red later and the pair of them were arguing. Liz knew that her argument was based mostly on pride and not wishing to appear foolish after all the hype the Doctor had left her with.
A second glass and Liz’s argument had devolved to finger pointing. Somehow she had forgotten whom she was arguing with. The wrist was grabbed in mid air, twisted and Liz found herself on her back with the full weight of Leela on her waist.
They didn’t need the third glass
It started a million, billion ways but it always ended the same; those battered wooden doors creaking shut, the light atop the Police Box flashing away and the noise, like no telephone had ever made, announcing the vessel’s passage straight through the laws of physics.
It ends with a postcard of St Cedd’s covered in a ragged scrawl of notes relating to her research that she instantly drops in the bin, only to retrieve in the morning.
It ends with a new appreciation of the term ‘Savage’.
It ends with Professor Elisabeth Shaw filling her pipe and searching for her matches. Hiding all the scars of never when in the fog of burning tobacco.