Title: Observation Interference
Author: Van Donovan
Characters: The fourth Doctor, Leela, Jo Grant, Sergeant Benton
Pairing(s): 4/Leela, Leela/Jo, Doctor/Jo.
Word Count: 2,806
Summary: Leela runs away with the Doctor's nostaliga.
Note: Written for the lj community janus_thorns's Leela ficathon. I wrote for Livii, who asked for "Sometime during her time with the Doctor, Leela meeting another companion: Ian, Jo, Benton, Harry, Tegan, Turlough, Ace, or Rose would be fab. You can fudge the time/space issues as needed, and I'm good with gen or a pairing as you like, though at least a touch of femslash if you pick one of the women would be nice."
Disclaimer: I own nothing. I made no money from this, but if you want to hire me, I'm cheap. Betaing provided by Starkiller.
“Why do we sit here and do nothing?”
Leela crouched, angrily pulling blades of grass out of the ground and tearing them to shreds. The Doctor stood beside her, as he had been for the past fifteen minutes. “We’re just here to observe,” he casually said.
“Observe what?” Leela protested. “They scurry about like ants, but do nothing. I would rather watch you fix the console again, and you know how much I dislike that.”
“Nonsense,” the Doctor admonished. “You learn a great deal when you watch me fix the console!”
She noted his eyes were still fixed on the little soldiers down below. They were bustling from their military jeeps to the ridge of a hill and back again. There was either a real, unseen threat, or they were running exercises; she couldn’t tell. A mustached man that the Doctor seemed to know was belting out orders; the echo of his voice carried even to where they observed, so far away
Leela rolled her eyes and pushed to her feet. “Like ants, I should like to stir them up.” She bent, picking up a fist-sized rock from the ground. “I can hit one of their transport vehicles from here.” She smiled brightly at the thought. “They will not know what hit them and it will amuse me to see them wonder.”
“Ah, rather tempting,” the Doctor mused. “But no.” He nabbed the rock from Leela’s hand, covertly pocketing it as he did. “The Brigadier would figure it out, and this is a mess we really can’t interfere with.”
Squatting back down in exasperation, Leela grunted. “Then why are we here?”
“I’ve told you! To observe.”
“I have traveled with you long enough to know you do not ‘observe’,” Leela complained. “What is different about these men in their funny uniforms that you will not talk to them? They look harmless enough. Their weapons do not look more frightening than any others we have seen.”
“Well, the fact of the matter is I shouldn’t be here. Not now, anyway.”
Leela peered at him. “You only observe because, for once, you cannot interact.” It was not a question.
“Yes, that’s right.” The Doctor was still watching the goings on down below.
Leela stretched up beside him, trying to determine which people in particular he was watching. From where she stood, they all nearly looked identical. “Tell me about them. Who is the man with the mustache?”
Sighing, the Doctor said, “That’s the Brigadier. He’s something of a friend of mine.”
Leela nodded. “He is strong and unafraid. I like him.”
Grinning broadly, the Doctor said, “Yes, you would. I’m not sure how fond of you he’d be though.” He gave Leela's leathers a long, appraising look before refocusing down the hill.
“Why do those two not dress like the others?” she asked, pointing down. “The shoes on the female are impractical.”
“Ah, that’s Jo,” the Doctor fondly said. “She was also a friend of mine.” His voice was somewhat wistful.
Leela scrutinized him; she rarely heard him sound so reflective. “And the white haired man in the fancy cape with her?”
Coughing, the Doctor straightened up and turned his back to the scene. “Yes, well, he’s, uh. Well, he was the scientific advisor for UNIT. That’s the name of that group of soldiers. He’s a charming sort of chap, really. Almost as smart as I am.”
“He seems very fond of the girl,” Leela noted. She was watching the scene with considerable more interest now.
“Yes, I was,” the Doctor sighed, before turning around rather quickly. “And he is too.” Leela could feel his eyes on her as he watched her; she was now anxiously perched on the hillside. “Come on,” he called. “We’ve wasted enough time here. There are important things to do.”
“I thought you wanted to observe.”
“I did. And I have. Now I go. It’s a simple concept, really.”
Crossing her arms, she stood and faced the Doctor. “If you miss her, you should speak with her.”
“Don’t be absurd! If I missed her, I’d speak with her! Speak with who?”
“Then why are you here? You say you come to observe, but there is more to it than that. If these people are your friends, why do you hide from them?”
Patiently, the Doctor began to explain. “Time is a very fragile thing, Leela.” His eyes were unusually dark. “I know to you it seems I intrude whenever I like, as haphazardly as I wish, but there are some places even I can’t go. This is one of them. You and I can only watch.”
Leela turned her back to him and resumed observing. The white haired man and the Brigadier had come close together to speak, leaving the girl in the impractical footwear alone. After a few minutes, a very tall soldier wearing a strange hat came and spoke to her. Their body language was familiar and Leela could tell they were friends. “You have been here before,” she stated.
The Doctor turned to look at her, but his back remained to the soldiers. “Yes,” he said simply. “And I can’t interfere. Come on, we’re done here.”
“What happens to her?” Leela asked. “Why do you mourn her when she is not dead?”
She felt his cold gaze on her back and straightened her spine instinctively. “Time is a relative thing, you know. We’re all dead, if you go far enough forward in time.”
“You do not answer my question,” she said, turning to focus on him.
As though he was addressing a child, the Doctor began to speak. “Once upon a time, Jo used to travel with me, like you do now. And one day, she met a nice scientist; just a boy really, fell in love and left me. She decided to go to the Amazon with him, to research the most exciting thing in the whole universe: mushrooms. That’s really all there is to it. Now, come on.”
He threw the ends of his scarf over his shoulder, which she knew was his preparation for departure, and took several paces back the way they’d come. Mostly to himself, he added, “I’ve half a mind to take you somewhere fancy, if you’d like to see some real soldiers. I’ll bet you’d rather like the French Revolution; I haven’t been there in centuries.”
Leela was not paying attention to him. She had slipped over the ridge and was now skidding down the side of the hill, heading purposefully toward the female and the tall soldier. Though the hill was largely made of rock rubble, she moved stealthily and silent. They did not detect her presence until she was almost upon them.
“Do not be alarmed,” she began, putting her empty hands out before her as she continued, “I do not mean you any harm.”
The soldier moved in front of the girl, a gun in his hand. “Who are you?” he asked.
He could have demanded the answer from her, but his voice was level, his face open and kind. Leela liked him immediately. “I am a friend of the Doctor’s,” she simply said. “You know of him?”
The soldier glanced over his shoulder, in the direction of his commander and the white haired scientist. “Yes. Does he know you’re here? This is a very dangerous area, Miss. You might get hurt.”
“You are Jo?” Leela asked, side stepping the soldier to bring the small blonde girl into view. “The Doctor has told me about you.”
Shyly, Jo nodded. Her smile was endearing. “Y-yes. I’m Jo. Jo Grant. What’s your name?”
“I am Leela of the Sevateem,” Leela proudly stated. “And I am not afraid of your soldiers hurting me,” she added, speaking to the soldier.
“More than just soldiers about here, Miss,” the man replied. “Look, this area was quarantined for a reason. How did you get in past the guards?”
“I arrived with the Doctor,” she explained. Her eyes were back on Jo. The girl was not dressed like the others. Leela surmised she was not a soldier or a fighter, but one of the soft-bodied women whose purpose was to bear children. They had existed in Leela’s tribe, had even been highly revered in some cases, but she had never really understood or interacted with them much.
Leela was a warrior and the place for a warrior was out fighting. The soft-bodied women stayed in the heart of the tribe, raising their young in safety. Leela had rarely seen them, as she did not have a woman of her own to care for. And yet, looking at her, she could see that Jo was not quite like those women in her tribe. There was a spark in her eyes that told Leela she was capable of being soft, but that she could be hard, like a warrior, as well. It was a duality that Leela was not very familiar with.
Jo walked the line between soft and hard in the same strange way the Doctor did. In its own strange way, it made Leela understand both the girl and the Doctor better.
“Should I call the Brigadier?” the soldier asked. His tone was now wary, and Leela realized she was staring.
“No. No, that’s all right Sergeant Benton. I think I can manage,” Jo answered. She smiled broader, revealing her teeth. “Can I help you, Leela?”
“I understand, now,” she stated. With clarity, she knew the Doctor had come back for her, and was now watching her from his concealed spot on the hill. “I am a warrior,” she admitted, “but this does not mean I do not understand love.”
Jo’s large eyes studied her imploringly. Leela grabbed hold of the girl’s arm and pulled her forward, against her. Up close, Jo smelled like manufactured scent, but it was not unpleasant. The girl’s body was soft, but that too was not unpleasant. Leela studied her close, taking in Jo in every sense; she wanted to know everything it was that the Doctor had found appealing about her.
“Leela,” Jo began, her voice faint, uncertain.
Without asking permission, Leela kissed her.
At first, Jo went rigid in surprise. Leela relaxed her, squeezing her arm gently as she kissed her. It became clear very soon that there was more at work than simple passion—Leela found the girl appealing, but it wasn’t for her benefit that she was kissing Jo. What drove Leela seemed to flow into Jo, and soon the other woman opened up to her.
Jo was pliant and somehow familiar. She tasted of sunshine and tea all mixed up with the Time Vortex. Leela wasn’t sure she knew how the Time Vortex tasted, but she knew it was in Jo; that the girl had traveled through time and space with the Doctor; that part of that stayed with her.
Maybe Jo could taste it on her too, because it didn’t take long for the girl to raise her hands, to pull Leela closer. There weren’t any words, but Leela could tell they both somehow understood. Jo’s hand began to tug at her, trying to draw her even closer but Leela pulled back before she got carried away. The girl was panting, eyes closed, lips red from the force of their kiss. Leela could tell the girl was somewhere else. Beside her, the man Jo had called Benton was staring at them with wide-eyes.
“The Doctor is a good, strong man,” Leela said. Jo opened her eyes, blinking rapidly. “But I understand why you would choose to stay behind. It is easier to be soft than it is to be hard, and sometimes he is the hardest of all.”
“Who are you?” Jo asked, her voice breathless.
“I am Leela,” she said with a smile. “Now I must go.” She looked Jo over once more, burning the image of the girl into her mind. Then she took in Benton quickly, mostly to assess that he would not try to stop her. No one challenged her departure, but two pairs of eyes watched as she skillfully navigated back up the rocky hill.
No sooner had she reached the ridge did she seem to simply vanish into thin air, leaving those below blinking in wonderment.
In actuality, she found herself pressed against the rocks, the Doctor’s arm hard across her chest, pinning her in place. “What on Earth did you think you were doing down there?” the Doctor demanded. “If I had seen you, the resulting paradox could have ripped a wound in time and where would that put us?”
“I know for a fact you saw me,” Leela said in her threatening voice. “I felt your eyes like fiery spears, burning holes in my back.”
Immediately, as if realizing what he was doing, the Doctor released her, reverting to his usual friendly demeanor. He sat back on his heels, rubbing a finger against his chin. “Not me me,” he said. “The other me. The man in the—” He sighed, shaking his head. “Why would you do such a foolish thing? I don’t know what it’s like where you come from, but here you don’t just go up to strangers and give them a friendly snog! I suppose I really had better take you to Paris!”
“For someone as smart as you are, Doctor, you do not have much common sense,” Leela answered. She sat up quickly. Before he could react, she grabbed him by the tie around his neck and hauled him to her for a kiss. She planned to give him everything Jo had given her; wanted to be the receptacle for what never had—but perhaps should have—passed between those two.
Leela was strong, but the blast of feeling she got from kissing the Doctor nearly made her lose her grip on him. He didn’t taste of the Time Vortex: he was the Time Vortex. He was Time itself; age and death, too. He’d experienced so much that it seemed impossible to try to give him something as small and insignificant as the girl’s love. Leela weakened at last, releasing him as she collapsed back against the rock pile. She rubbed her arm, as if she’d been wounded.
“You could have at least asked,” the Doctor quietly said, looking down at her.
His lips were still parted, his gaze cool and unruffled. Leela felt like a foolish, inexperienced child and had to fight down the shame threatening to burn her cheeks. “Why do you taste like dying?” she demanded.
“Do I?” he mused, smiling now. “You’re the first to ever say so.”
Leela wiped her mouth as she got to her feet. She was studying the Doctor warily. “Do all Time Lords taste so old?”
“‘Old’?” the Doctor scoffed, rising after her. “That’s experience you’re tasting, my dear Leela,” he chastised. “No wonder it’s unfamiliar to you. How old are you, anyway?”
Hands on her hips, Leela scowled. “You are as ungrateful as a Tesh’s babe.”
“A ‘Tesh’s babe’!” the Doctor boomed, looking offended. “Well,” he reflected more mildly, “that does make a certain kind of sense.” Focusing back on her, he said, “You’ve got a strange way of helping people out.”
“I was trying to do for you what you never did for yourself. You come here to mourn the loss of a love you never had, yet do nothing to change it. I do not understand you.”
“So few do,” he sadly mused. “For what it’s worth, I do appreciate it.” He gave her one of his characteristic smiles. “But you were very foolish. That could have been extremely dangerous.” He put a hand on her shoulder, steering her back in the direction of the TARDIS.
“I do not fear danger,” Leela said, rubbing her arm still. “I do not fear age or death, either,” she pointedly added.
“No, of course you wouldn’t,” he said, unlocking the door to the TARDIS. He leaned against it once he had unlocked it. “So you kissed Jo so you could kiss me?” he asked.
Leela wished that it did not sound so foolish when he repeated it. “I believed I could share what I felt with her with you.”
For a considerable time, the Doctor studied her. “You’re saying Jo’s a better kisser than I am, aren’t you?” He seemed to barely be able to suppress his smile.
Defiantly, Leela raised her chin. “I enjoyed the kiss with Jo more, yes.”
At last, the Doctor broke into one of his mad, toothy smiles. He pushed the door open, sauntering inside. In a loud, sing-song voice that was intended to carry, he called, “Well, I’ll just have to do something to remedy that, won’t I, Leela? Hello, K-9! Did you miss me?”
Smirking to herself, Leela shook her head amusedly, and followed him inside.