Summary: Yaz wanders into a small antique shop that is not quite what it seems and gets a familiar gift from a familiar stranger.
I believe that we were supposed to find this
So, even in a different life, you still would’ve been mine
We would’ve been timeless
Yaz was running extremely late. She was supposed to be meeting Ryan for coffee in twenty minutes and the shop was forty minutes away. But even as she was on her way there she felt herself stop. Out of the corner of her eye she had spotted something that tugged at her. It was an antique shop, tucked into the corner of a bunch of fancy boutiques. It looked like it did not belong, compared to everything else. Yet it was somehow perfect. She felt drawn to go in, so she pulled out her phone, texted an apology to Ryan, and walked in.
There was a short *ding* as she walked inside the shop. The woman behind the counter smiled warmly. “Hello, can I help you?”
Yaz opened her mouth and closed it abruptly. She did not know what to say, or why she had come inside. Her eyes caught on the cardboard box on the counter. The sign next to it said “Photos: twenty-five pence each”. Yaz drew closer and she saw that it was full of old photos. She felt a tug in her heart as she started to look through them, remembering how there was once a time when she could have been in those photos. There was a picture of a bride from the 1930s, and her breath caught as her brain tangled on a memory. If I was going to, believe me, it’d be with you. I think you’re one of the greatest people I’ve ever known. Including my wife.
Yaz blinked away tears as she looked at another photo, this one of a couple laughing on the porch of their home. The woman was the same from the wedding picture she had seen before. The photo was in black and white, but Yaz guessed that the woman was a redhead, and she was dressed surprisingly modern. The man was wearing glasses and a cardigan. The back of the photo simply read “Mr. and Mrs. Williams, Brooklyn, August 17 1947.” A photo capturing a single moment forever in time. Not for the first time she imagined what it would be like if she had that kind of life with the Doctor. If they had bought a house, lived together in a single time. They could have lived in any time. Yet the traveling, the excitement was part of the draw. Settling down… that was not like the Doctor. And ultimately, it was not like Yaz either.
Looking around at all of the various objects in the shop she realized that every one of them had a story. All of them came from a place and a time, and her heart ached as she almost imagined how, if the Doctor were there, she would regale Yaz with where and when things were from. As Yaz looked through more photos she wondered if there were photos like this of her. She had spent three years in the early 1900s after all. And she had traveled throughout so many other eras in general.
Her gaze caught on a photo of a teenage couple holding hands in a driveway, presumably on the way to a dance. She flipped the picture over and saw that the date on the back read 1958. The boy was blond, and wearing a tux that reminded Yaz of what the Doctor had worn to that disastrous party at Daniel Barton’s. The girl was wearing a blue dress reminiscent of what Yaz wore to a dance she went to at sixteen. It was eerie.
What could have happened between her and the Doctor, if they had met in different circumstances? If the Doctor was human? What then? Yaz could not help but feel that she would still know the Doctor. She had chosen not to say goodbye, because whoever the Doctor was going to turn into — that person was not going to be her Doctor. But was that necessarily true?
Yaz was hesitant to say yes. Because the Doctor was… immeasurable. Unpredictable. Eternal, and she truly believed that even in a different life she and the Doctor would have found each other.
The door dinged again and she heard two people come into the shop. She stepped away from the counter to give them space, as they appeared to be there to sell something to the woman at the front. The man sparked a feeling of familiarity in her, though she could not place where. They looked about the same age— it was possible that they had crossed paths through school or work. He was certainly fashionable, wearing a fuzzy orange sweater and a brown plaid suit.
“Have we met?” Yaz asked curiously. The man looked startled.
“I– John Smith.” He shook her hand. “It’s nice to see you…”
“Yaz.” He nodded softly, almost solemnly. Yaz was curious as she saw the pain in his eyes.
“How much did you want for this again?” The woman at the counter asked. “I’m not sure what you want me to do with it, you know—”
“Oh, it’s not for you. It’s for her.” He pointed at Yaz, who looked startled.
“Excuse me?” Yaz asked.
“This, is for you.” He took the box from the shopkeeper and pressed it into Yaz’s hands.
“You don’t even know me. Why?” Yaz asked curiously.
John smiled. “I once told a woman who looked very similar to that shopkeeper over there that I never know why. I only know who.” He winked before walking out of the shop, leaving Yaz staring at him, bewildered.
“Do you know him?” she asked the shopkeeper.
“Hmmm. I used to. But he was a very different man back then. It makes much more sense he would give that to you, considering.”
“Considering what?” Yaz asked curiously.
“I mean, this isn’t usually an antique shop. Typically I run a diner. Not sure why she decided to change up the look, or how you managed to get in here. But you’re you so.” The woman shrugged and Yaz was even more confused.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Yaz replied, irritated.
“Things might make more sense if you opened that.” the woman pointed at the box, which Yaz had almost forgotten she was holding, and gasped when she saw a very familiar screw driver. She looked up at the woman in shock.
“What—” Yaz could barely think. Was that really her Doctor.
“When I died, the Doctor ripped apart time and space to try and save my life. And I had to remove all memory of me from him in order for him to move on. I stared into his face, my Doctor’s face, and he did not know who I was.”
Yaz looked at Clara with quiet understanding. “He told me what he remembered of our travels, of our life together. He did remember a great deal of it. Everything but my face. It’s rather funny actually. He said to me ‘There’s one thing I know about her. Just one thing. If I met her again, I would absolutely know.’ And he said that right to my face, all the while never knowing who I was.”
“He still doesn’t remember you?” Yaz asked quietly.
“He remembers me now, I think.” Clara looked pensively. “But it’s not the same. He’s not my Doctor. Our love, our friendship, it burned so hot it nearly destroyed the universe. And he understands that. I did not know when to stop. And it killed me.”
“You do not seem particularly dead.” Yaz replied pointedly.
“Take my hand,” Clara reached out and took Yaz’s hand in hers, placing the other woman’s fingers on her wrist. “What’s missing?”
“You—” Yaz snatched her hand back, her own heart beating faster, almost as if to compensate. Clara nodded.
“I’m dead, my body frozen between one heartbeat and the next. I’ll have to return to gallifrey soon. I know that the master already destroyed it, according to your time stream. But when the Doctor is involved things tend to be rather…”
“Wibbly wobbly timey wimey?” Yaz suggested.
“I was going to say, timeless.”
As soon as Yaz left the antique shop, she felt a breeze behind her. Turning around to where the shop had been, there was only an alleyway, and an old picture. Yaz was surprised to see that it was a picture of herself, alongside her Doctor. They were laughing and dancing. It must have been taken while they were at the dinner party hosted by the President of Pelphon V. One of the times that their adventures did not end in disaster. Unless one counted Ryan getting drunk on alien alcohol and puking in the shrubbery.
Yaz ruminated on what Clara had told her about her Doctor. What had he said, Nothing’s sad till it’s over. Then everything is. She compared it to her own Doctor’s words, Goodbyes only hurt because what came before was so special. Every iteration of the Doctor was different, they spoke differently, they acted differently, they loved differently. But all of them… were timeless.