Tegan made a strangled sound as she stormed into her room, slamming the door shut behind her. It wasn't quite a scream, but it was close. She threw herself onto her bed, breathing heavily as she beat down on the mattress a few times.
There was a tentative knock on the door, but she didn't reply to it. After a few seconds, it opened slightly, just enough for Nyssa to poke her head in. "Tegan?"
"What?" Tegan snapped.
Nyssa's face instantly fell and her gaze dropped from Tegan to the floor.
Tegan felt a pang of regret, and she reached up to run her hand through her hair. "Sorry," she said, forcing a tired smile. "It's not you I'm upset with."
For several seconds, Nyssa didn't move. Then she slowly looked up, a tiny smile tugging at the corners of her mouth. "I know," she said. "It's the Doctor and Adric."
"The Doctor told me to go find something useful to do," Tegan grumbled, rolling her eyes. "He might as well told me to go play with some dolls, considering the tone he used."
Nyssa's smile grew more obvious.
"Men," Tegan grumbled, patting the empty spot next to her on the bed. "Human or alien, they're still useless."
Nyssa laughed quietly as she sat down beside Tegan. "The Doctor's just preoccupied with that mathematical problem his friend sent him," she said. "It's supposed to be unsolvable, and you know how he gets when someone tells him that he can't do something."
Tegan snorted. "Single-minded doesn't even begin to cover it."
"Exactly," Nyssa said, reaching over to pat Tegan's hand. "Adric's the same way, and you know it."
"Like I said," Tegan reiterated, the look on her face daring Nyssa to argue, "they're completely useless."
Nyssa shook her head, but she didn't disagree.
They sat there for several more seconds in a comfortable silence before Tegan let out a sigh and pushed herself to her feet. "Come on," she said, offering Nyssa her hand, "we might as well find some way to entertain ourselves if they're going to be at it for the rest of the day."
Taking Tegan's hand, Nyssa shot her a curious look. "What do you suggest?"
"It's been awhile since we've explored the TARDIS," Tegan replied with a shrug. "I thought we could look around, see what we can find. Maybe go for a swim if we can find one of the swimming pools."
Nyssa smiled broadly at her. "That sounds wonderful," she said. "Do you think we'll find the room with that beautiful diamond in it? I'd love to see it again."
"You do realize that it's supposed to be cursed, right?" Tegan asked, shooting her an amused look as they walked toward the door. "That's why the Doctor stole in it in the first place, or so he claims. Something about telepathic aliens or some such nonsense."
Nyssa glanced back over her shoulder as she stepped into the hall. "He told me that a friend gave it to him," she said, puzzled.
Tegan laughed as she followed Nyssa out, her earlier mood all but forgotten. "Who knows how he got it?" she asked lightly. "In my time, it's still sitting in a museum over in the States."
Shaking her head, Nyssa held out her arm. "Shall we?"
"You know," Tegan said, hooking her arm in Nyssa's, "I think we shall."
Tegan shoved Nyssa out of the room, frantically slamming the door closed behind them. Gasping for breath, they both slid down to the corridor's floor.
"In the future," Nyssa said shakily, "maybe we should avoid that room."
"You think so?" Tegan shot back, her voice slightly more shrill than usual. "What the hell was the Doctor thinking, leaving man-eating plants inside the TARDIS? I swear, I'm going to give him a piece of my… ."
Nyssa cleared her throat, frowning.
Tegan didn't finish her sentence, instead just shaking her head as she pushed herself to her feet. She held out her hand to Nyssa, helping her up as well. "Fine," she muttered, "I'll behave."
Nyssa's frown immediately disappeared. Tugging on Tegan's hand, she started pulling her down the corridor toward the nearest door. "Let's try this one."
"What?" Tegan blinked in surprise as she came up short in front of the door. It was smaller than the others they'd visited, and she would have sworn that it hadn't been there before they'd gone into the not-quite-a-greenhouse room. "You still want to keep exploring after what happened in the last one?"
"Of course," Nyssa said, shooting Tegan a confused look. "Why? Do you not?"
Tegan started to reply, but she stopped and let out a sigh before she even said a word. "No, it's fine with me."
Nyssa studied her face for a moment before reaching out toward the door. It slid open before she even had a chance to touch it, and the two women shared a look before Nyssa took a step forward and peered into it. "It's dark," she said softly.
The lights in the room came on, and Nyssa immediately took a step back.
Tegan rolled her eyes. "I think the TARDIS is showing off," she said, taking a step forward. "Come on, Nyssa, let's see what it is she wants us to see."
Nyssa reached out to grab Tegan's hand, and the two of them slowly stepped into the room. The door slid shut with a quiet click as they stepped fully into the room. As their eyes adjusted to the bright light, they both stopped and stared.
"It's empty," Nyssa said slowly, letting go of Tegan's hand and looking around. "There's nothing here."
Tegan let her gaze drift over the room. "And it's tiny," she said, frowning. "It's like a storage closet, without anything inside it."
"Then why would the TARDIS want us in here?"
They met each other's gaze, startled realization on their faces, before spinning around to look at the door. It wasn't there.
Tegan let out a frustrated groan. "Oh, not again," she grumbled. "She's locked us in."
"We weren't even quarreling," Nyssa said, walking over to run her hand over the smooth wall where the door had stood. "The Doctor said that last time it was because she wanted us to stop fighting. Why would she lock us in if we weren't having an argument?"
"Who knows?" Tegan asked, sliding down the floor.
After a few seconds, Nyssa joined her. They sat there in silence, their backs resting against the wall as they carefully avoided each other's gaze.
They sat there in a comfortable silence for several minutes, neither of them saying a word. As the seconds slowly ticked past, however, the peaceful silence slowly began to feel more and more oppressive.
Nyssa let out a frustrated sigh.
"What?" Tegan asked, finally looking up. "Is something wrong?"
"It's nothing," Nyssa said hurriedly, her face reddening as her gaze dropped back down to her hands.
A knowing look on her face, Tegan reached out and gently tilted Nyssa's face back up. "Uh-huh," she said disbelievingly. "That's as likely as the Doctor actually getting me home."
Her face still red, Nyssa reluctantly met her gaze. "I just wish there was something we could do to pass the time."
Tegan shot her an amused look. "What do you suggest?" she asked dryly. "We're locked in a storage closet until a telepathic spaceship decides to let us out."
Nyssa bit her lip, an uncomfortable look on her face. Then, without saying a word, she leaned in and kissed Tegan on the lips.
Tegan reacted without thinking, leaning into the kiss and returning it with one of her own. Her mind kicked in after a few seconds, and she hurriedly pulled away. She gaped at Nyssa, her eyes wide with shock.
"I'm sorry," Nyssa said hurriedly. "I just thought… we can pretend it never happened."
In reply, Tegan kissed her back.
When they pulled away several seconds later, it was Nyssa's turn to look surprised. Tegan just smiled. "I've never been much for pretending."
Nyssa laughed softly as she reached out to take Tegan's hand. She gently rubbed a circular pattern in her palm, not quite meeting her gaze. "Tegan?"
"Do you think this is what the TARDIS wanted to happen?"
Tegan quirked an eyebrow. "What?" she asked. "You think the TARDIS was playing matchmaker?"
Nyssa shrugged slightly. "Well, it did work," she pointed out.
Without warning, the door reappeared right where it had been.
They stared at each other for a moment, their eyes widening in comprehension, before Nyssa threw her head back and let out a peal of laughter. Tegan quickly followed suit, and they sat there giggling for another ten minutes before finally heading back toward the control room.
Nyssa spun around, showing off her dress. "What do you think?" she asked breathlessly. "Isn't it beautiful?"
"I think that's an understatement," Tegan said, smiling as she leaned back against the wall. It was obvious that her eyes weren't focused on the dress.
Nyssa felt her face grow uncomfortably warm, and she knew that she was blushing. Tegan laughed and walked over to where she was standing.
"Honestly, does it fit me as well as it does Ann?" Nyssa asked worriedly, not quite meeting Tegan's gaze.
Tegan placed her hand under Nyssa's chin, forcing her to look up and meet her gaze. "It's even prettier on you," she said seriously.
Nyssa bit her lip. "Do you really think so?"
"Would I have said it if I didn't?"
When Nyssa didn't answer, Tegan's smile softened and she held out her hand. "Dance with me?"
Nyssa jerked, startled. "We shouldn't," she said hesitantly. "Ann will be back soon. What would she think if she saw us?"
"She'd think, 'my, what wonderful dancers they are,'" Tegan said teasingly, doing a fair impersonation of Ann Talbot's accent.
Nyssa didn't move, an uncertain look still on her face.
Tegan leaned in and rested her forehead against Nyssa's, looking her straight in the eyes. "Trust me," she said softly, placing a quick peck on Nyssa's lips.
Finally nodding, Nyssa let Tegan lead her into the middle of the room.
"I showed you the Charleston," Tegan said quietly. "Now it's your turn. Teach me a dance from Traken."
Nyssa slowly began to smile.
They quietly spun around the room for the next several minutes, dancing to music that no one else could hear. Nothing in the world could have disturbed them.
Nyssa sank down to the floor of the corridor. Her legs felt weak and shaky, and she was fairly certain they wouldn't be able to hold her up much longer. "This can't be happening," she whispered, tears slowly streaming down her face. "Adric can't be gone. He just can't."
The bright flash of an explosion played in her mind's eye, and Nyssa knew that she'd never be able to wipe that image from her memory. It played over and over, like a recording. She imagined that she could almost hear Adric's scream at the end, as he died.
She buried her head in her arms, silent sobs wracking her body.
More than anything, Nyssa wanted someone to hold onto. She needed it. Except the Doctor was returning the ship's crew to where they belong, and Tegan was … somewhere else. She'd disappeared somewhere in the TARDIS hours earlier. Or maybe it was seconds, minutes, days, months, years; time had no meaning here.
The quiet sound of footsteps reached her ears, and Nyssa hurriedly tried to stop her crying. She reached up and wiped her face, knowing full well that it wouldn't hide anything. A few seconds later, Tegan rounded a nearby corner.
"Tegan," Nyssa said, pushing herself to her feet. "I was starting to get worried."
Tegan looked up, obviously startled. It was clear that she hadn't seen Nyssa.
Moving almost on automatic, Nyssa took a few steps forward. She wrapped her arms around Tegan, planning on burying her head in her shoulder as she had a few hours earlier in the control room.
Tegan pulled away.
"I'm sorry," Tegan said, her voice cracking a bit. "I just can't. Not right now."
Nyssa stood there staring as Tegan turned and walked away, heading toward the control room. A mixture of hurt and confusion rushed through her. She took in a few shaky breaths, rubbing away the tears pooling in the corners of her eyes, before starting down the corridor herself.
As Heathrow disappeared, replaced by the black screens that came up when the TARDIS was traveling, Nyssa let out a shaky breath. "You're quite certain that Tegan wanted to remain on Earth?" she asked quietly.
The Doctor didn't even glance up from the console he was bent over. "Absolutely," he said, distractedly. "She's wanted to return home since the moment she stepped foot inside the TARDIS. You really can't blame her for leaving."
"No, I suppose not," Nyssa said, her voice dropping almost to a whisper. "It would be too much to ask."
Although she hadn't meant it, there must have been something in her tone that betrayed what she was feeling. The Doctor looked up from his work, glancing worriedly over at her. "Nyssa, is something wrong?"
She wanted to smile and say "no, nothing." Her mouth even opened to say the words.
Then she remembered. A series of past events rushed through her mind, tugging at her memories. A hurried kiss in a closet. Dancing in an empty room. Quietly slipping into each other's beds at night. Laughter. Tears.
Nyssa felt tears welling up in her eyes. "Excuse me," she said, not even glancing at the Doctor. Without saying another word, she rushed from the room.
As she ran, she didn't know where she was headed. She just wanted to get away. It wasn't until she stopped and found herself staring at the familiar door to Tegan's room that she realized she should have known all along.
Hesitantly, almost reverently, she opened Tegan's door and stepped inside. She wasn't sure what she was expecting, but it felt somehow like the room should appear different. It didn't. The room was exactly the same as it had been the last time Nyssa had been in it, right before Adric had… .
She hurriedly moved away from that train of thought.
Nyssa walked over to the bed and dropped down on it, her hand reaching up to gently touch one of the pillows laying there. It was soft, the material molding itself around her hand.
She didn't even look up. "Tegan didn't take anything with her," she said quietly. "She loved these pillows. Remember? She found them in that bazaar on Ristona and refused to leave until you bought them for her."
The Doctor chuckled as he walked over and sat down beside her on the bed. "I remember."
"She didn't even say 'goodbye,'" Nyssa whispered. "She could have at least said 'goodbye.'"
He hesitantly reached over and patted her shoulder. "I don't think Tegan's ever been much for goodbyes," he pointed out gently.
Nyssa nodded. "I know." For several seconds, she didn't say anything. Then she sighed. "We were in a relationship."
"Oh." A brief pause. "Oh. I see."
Nyssa couldn't help but glance up, smiling a little at the startled look on the Doctor's face. If only Tegan could have seen it; they had speculated more than once what his reaction would be. Her smile faded instantly as she realized what she was thinking, and she felt tears welling up in her eyes.
The Doctor awkwardly wrapped his arms around her. Nyssa froze for a moment, startled at his action, before she sighed and buried her face in his shirt. She wanted to scream or cry or throw things, but as he gently stroked her hair she thought that maybe, for now, that was enough.
Nyssa shivered as the TARDIS dematerialized, leaving the Alaskan landscape behind them. The multiple close calls they'd suffered over the past few days seemed to catch up with her at once, and she took in a shaky breath as she tried to calm her suddenly racing heart.
She held up a hand at the worried tone in the Doctor's voice. "I'm fine," she said, forcing herself to smile even though she knew it probably wasn't very reassuring. "I just need a moment."
Still eyeing her warily, the Doctor walked over and rested a hand on her shoulder. "Are you certain?" he asked worriedly.
This time, her smile was real. "I'll be fine," she replied. "It's just that there was so much death and so many misunderstandings. All because of those monsters."
"You do realize that the Permians weren't truly monsters?" the Doctor asked, only a tiny quirk of his eyebrow revealing that he was teasing her.
"They were close enough for me," she said, shivering.
The Doctor frowned, tightening his grip on her shoulder. "Nyssa, look at me."
She reluctantly met his gaze, well aware that he'd be able to read her eyes like a book.
To her surprise, he leaned in and placed a gentle kiss on her lips. It wasn't romantic. It wasn't hungry or passionate. Yet it wasn't brotherly or paternal, not really. It was reassuring. Comforting. Nothing more and nothing less.
He pulled away a few seconds later, studying her face once again. "It's over," he said simply. "We're both fine."
"I know," Nyssa whispered, staring back at him.
Without saying another word, she kissed him back. He made a startled movement, obviously surprised by her action, but he didn't pull away. She wasn't sure what he'd find out from her kiss; she didn't even know what she meant by it.
At the moment, she really didn't think it mattered.
As the TARDIS dematerialized for the last time, leaving Peril at home with her parents, Nyssa reached up and rubbed her aching head. She was starting to feel sympathy for Alison's migraines.
"Nyssa? Is something the matter?"
Nyssa looked up and snorted, her atypical reaction drawing a raised eyebrow from the Doctor. "Where would you like me to start?" she snapped. "You teleporting me into the middle of a blizzard? The flying ski poles? The Spillager fleet?"
The Doctor stared at her, obviously startled.
Nyssa brought her hand up to her mouth, a chagrined look on her face. "I'm starting to sound like Tegan."
"I do believe that you are," the Doctor said, eyeing her. He reached out and gently placed his hand on her forehead, narrowing his eyes. "Are you feeling quite alright, Nyssa?"
She reached up and brushed his hand away. "I'm fine," she said, not quite meeting his eyes. "It's just been a trying few days."
He pointedly placed his hand back where it was. "I'm sorry that you had to use your abilities so much," he said softly. "I know that you're uncomfortable with it sometimes, and I'm certain that it's given you a headache."
Nyssa reluctantly smiled. "You know me too well."
The Doctor smiled back before leaning down to place a chaste kiss on her lips. Before he could pull away, Nyssa grabbed him by the shoulders and held him in place. As she kissed back, the kiss quickly grew less innocent on both of their parts.
After several seconds, the Doctor pulled away. Nyssa stared at him, her eyes twinkling. "In all the time I've been on the TARDIS," she said slowly, "I don't think that I've ever seen your bedroom."
The Doctor stilled. "It doesn't get much use."
"I know," Nyssa said, not dropped her gaze. "That doesn't mean it couldn't."
"I do care for you," the Doctor said slowly, obviously choosing his words carefully. "Don't think for a moment that I don't."
Nyssa reached out and gently placed a hand over his mouth. "I know that it's different for Time Lords," she said pointedly. "You don't feel love like Trakens."
The Doctor reached up and moved her hand. "Or like humans," he added.
"Or like humans," Nyssa agreed. "Still, that doesn't mean we're completely incompatible." She paused for a second, her brow furrowing. "At least, I assume…"
"Yes, yes," the Doctor said hurriedly, "we are physically compatible."
Nyssa smiled. "Then I don't see the problem."
The Doctor sighed as he reached out to brush a strand of hair out of her face. "Of course not," he said wryly. "You're young."
"Not that young," Nyssa replied, holding out her hand to him.
He took it.
Tegan sat down on her bed, an uncomfortable look on her face as she stared across the room at Nyssa. She still wasn't certain why the Doctor had insisted they share a room now that she was back on board the TARDIS, but she wasn't going to argue. She had to admit, however, that it was awkward.
"Well," she said, flinching at how loud her voice sounded in the quiet room, "how have you been?"
Nyssa looked over at her, a surprised look on her face. "Fine," she replied. "I've been fine."
"Ah," Tegan said.
They settled back into silence again.
Nyssa reluctantly cleared her throat. "How about you?" she asked. "Have you been well?"
Tegan nodded. "Yeah, I've been pretty good."
After almost a minute had passed, Tegan let out a sigh. "Well, this is uncomfortable," she said, smiling a bit as she met Nyssa's gaze for the first time since she'd been back.
Nyssa let out a soft laugh. "I think that's an understatement."
They stared at each other for a moment, studying the other's face. Tegan tilted her head a bit. "It's going to take awhile before things go back to normal, isn't it?"
"What's normal?" Nyssa asked wryly.
Tegan grimaced. "Good point," she admittedly. "How about 'how they were?' Does that sound better?"
Nyssa started to smile. "In that case, yes, I think it will probably take awhile."
"Yeah," Tegan said, looking down at her hands. "Until then, how about we at least try to be friends? We were friends, right?"
"Friendship will be fine," Nyssa said, looking down at her hands as well. "I think we can both live with friendship."
Tegan curled into an even tighter ball on her bed as the door opened, not even looking up to see who was there. It could only be one person. "Go away, Nyssa."
She heard footsteps, and then the bed sank down a bit as someone sat down on its edge.
"I said go away," Tegan repeated, still not looking up.
"No," the Doctor said, "you said 'go away, Nyssa.' Since I'm not Nyssa, you technically didn't tell me to go away."
She rolled over, reluctantly meeting his gaze. "Fine," she shot back, "then I'll tell you to go away too."
The Doctor chuckled as he reached down to rest his hand on her shoulder. "Do you really think that's going to work?" he asked.
"Probably not," Tegan said, sighing. "Honestly, I just want to be alone for awhile."
He squeezed her shoulder. "It's not going to make you forget about the Mara."
Tegan smiled sadly at him. "I know."
For almost a minute, neither of them moved. Then, without warning, Tegan pushed herself up so that she was staring the Doctor directly in the eyes. Without saying a word, she leaned in and hungrily kissed him.
The Doctor quickly pulled away. "Tegan," he said, his voice surprisingly gentle, "I don't want you to do something that you'll regret."
She met his gaze without blinking. "I've never been much for regrets."
He stared back at her, studying her face, before nodding and leaning in to kiss her back. She reached behind him with one of her hands, tangling her fingers in his hair.
At the sound of the door opening, they both pulled apart and glanced in that direction.
Nyssa stared at them, a surprised look on her face but not a hurt one. She slowly nodded. "I'm going to the library," she said quietly, holding the Doctor's gaze. "Take care of her."
He gave her a brief smile. "I will."
Tegan cursed under her breath as she grabbed Nyssa by the arm and dragged her into a nearby alley. They both pressed back against the wall, trying to avoid being seen by the line of soldiers marching past. "If they don't kill him," Tegan muttered, "I'm going to do it."
"Tegan," Nyssa said, sounding faintly horrified.
"I'm kidding," Tegan shot back. Then she added a quiet "mostly."
Nyssa elbowed her in the side.
Tegan mock-glared at her, but the crinkles around her eyes dispelled any illusion that she was actually angry. Her expression faded somewhat as she studied the worried look on Nyssa's face. "He'll be fine," she said gently. "Haven't you learned by now not to worry about him?"
"I just have a bad feeling," Nyssa replied softly.
For a few seconds, Tegan didn't respond. Then she reached out and grabbed Nyssa's hand, giving it a quick squeeze. "He'll be fine," she repeated.
Nyssa met her gaze, a combination of hope and uncertainty in her eyes. "You don't know that."
Tegan smiled. She grabbed Nyssa's shoulders, pulling her close enough to plant a fierce kiss on her lips. "Trust me," she said, staring straight into Nyssa's eyes as she pulled away. "All you have to do is trust me."
"I do," Nyssa said, not hesitating.
"Good," Tegan said, her smile growing. She glanced around the corner of the alley. "Come on, then. Let's go rescue the Doctor."
Nyssa tried to stop her hands from shaking as she searched through the infirmary, trying to find the scanner that she needed. Even though her back was to the Doctor, she could still see his bloody face in her mind's eye. He needed her.
A shaky cough came from behind her. "Don't look so panicked, Nyssa," the Doctor said weakly. "I've been through worse."
Tegan snorted, and Nyssa couldn't help but glance back around for a second. "Please," Tegan said, shaking her head, "we were there at Logopolis. You look even worse now than you did then."
The Doctor frowned up at her. "Thank you," he said dryly.
Nyssa shook her head and quickly turned her attention back to her search. This time, she found what she was looking for almost instantly. "There it is," she said, grabbing the scanner off a nearby table. She quickly turned around and walked over to the Doctor's side, turning the device on and running it over him.
After a few seconds she frowned and met his gaze.
"I told you," the Doctor said, shrugging. He reached up to rub a drying streak of blood off his face. "Gallifreyans are fast healers."
Tegan frowned and glanced over at Nyssa. "What's he going on about?"
Nyssa just shook her head. "He's fine," she said, showing her the scanner's read-out. "All it's showing are some minor cuts and bruises. At this rate, they won't even be there in a few hours."
"So we were worried about him for nothing?" Tegan asked, frowning.
Tegan glanced over at him. "Figures," she muttered. "Fine then, if he's not going to regenerate on us again, I say we leave him be and go back to our room."
The Doctor looked up, apparently hearing something in Tegan's tone.
Nyssa smiled. "That sounds like a good idea to me."
She leaned down and gave the Doctor a hug. "You're welcome to join us," she whispered in his ear.
He just shook his head as she pulled away.
Nyssa walked toward the door, and Tegan leaned down to give him a quick hug of her own. She didn't say anything as she pulled away and followed Nyssa.
A few seconds later, Tegan stuck her head back into the infirmary. "Seriously Doctor," she said, smiling, "you are welcome to come if it strikes your fancy."
The Doctor just shook his head again. "I'll leave the two of you alone."
The Doctor fiddled with some of the controls on the console, frowning when nothing happened. He glanced up, his eyes narrowing. "Please tell me you're not trying to play matchmaker again."
The lights on the console flashed twice.
Sighing, the Doctor reached up to rub his temples. "I've told you to stop that," he said. "Ian and Barbara were one thing, as were Sarah and Harry. It's something else entirely when you trying to involve me."
Once again the lights flashed.
The Doctor groaned. "Romana didn't count."
The lights flashed once more.
"I'm starting to get the point," the Doctor muttered. Despite his irritated tone of voice, he smiled. "Fine, I give in."
Shaking his head, he turned around and started out of the control room.
A few minutes later, when he reached Nyssa and Tegan's door, he paused. He stood there a second, trying to decide whether or not to knock, when it opened.
Tegan grinned at him.
"We were waiting for you," Nyssa said, smiling.
They both held out their hands to him. The Doctor hesitated for a second before taking them and letting the two of them lead him into the room. Nyssa leaned up and kissed him, gently, before moving aside and letting Tegan have a chance to do the same.
"Are you sure about this?" he asked, meeting both of their gazes. "Are you absolutely certain?"
They shared a look, amused expression on their faces. Then, without saying a word, Nyssa and Tegan each took one of his arms and led him toward the nearest bed.
The door shut behind them, seemingly of its own accord.
Events from the following serials and/or audio stories were referenced to during the story:
"Arc of Infinity"
Big Finish Audios
"The Land of the Dead"
"Winter for the Adept"