A/N: Poor old Mike. Ever since he lost that date that Jo even dressed up for just because the Doctor abruptly swept her away to another planet, I've felt a little sorry for him. He never stood a chance.
Doesn't Even Throw a Shadow
Captain Michael Yates stood straight-backed and impeccable as Jo Grant turned away from him to deliver the morning reports to the Doctor. "Thank you, Mike," she said over her shoulder with a dimpled smile, and half of his heart skipped. All in an instance, the rest of him immediately set out to tackle that wayward skipping part, drag it back out of the flowery meadow it was leaping towards and squash it into the dirt. He knew she was only being polite. But why couldn't it be more?
He was young, well-mannered, competent and, by most standards, not ill-looking. Why then, on any advent of danger and fear did she always instinctively fly right past him to the safety of the Doctor's velvet arms instead of his, as surely as a bird to its nest in a storm?
What did she see in a man so much older, so alien? They shared nearly every day, and sometimes nights as well, although he had to admit there was no sign of impropriety. She was officially working as a mere assistant, but far from wanting a break from the drudgery of that typically menial category of work the young Captain could rarely convince her to pull away from it, not even for a dinner or a dance, and when she finally did leave all she talked about was the Doctor.
Jo leaned over the Doctor's shoulders, reading the report along with him, the two of them murmuring together.
How could he ever hope to win so much as a touch to the hand when her heart seemed forever flitting away to someone else? Women were supposed to be impressed with uniforms and ranks and being in secret organizations, blast it all; sometimes he even impressed himself, just thinking about it! But against the wonders the Doctor could show her and the forceful flamboyance of that personality he could feel his own relative impressiveness factor shriveling to… well, nothing. A candle beneath a blazing spotlight.
Even when, to Mike's immense delight, she spoke with him of her own accord in the mornings, when she shared her small amusements, observations and witticisms her laughing eyes then always turned away, across the room to him, sharing the joke, the two of them smiling and communicating in that wordless intimacy of friendship that the young man could only dream of.
They helped one another with their coats and set out on some shared adventure once again, and Yates managed to smile a wan smile at their farewell, waving them on their way. There was a resigned hollowness inside as Jo only briefly turned to flash the sunshine of her brilliant smile towards him before turning and taking the Doctor's hand as he led her away.
The door shut behind them, the dim fluorescent lighting regaining its hold on the room now that the sun was blocked out.
"It's just not fair, is it?" the Sergeant asked, standing beside him.
Sergeant Benton, always generous, never seeming to covet what wasn't his. How did he do that? Was he blind?
"All that beautiful weather outside and here we are left behind again," Benton continued. "Some people just have all the luck."
"Right," Mike said, folding his hands behind his back. "Some things just aren't fair at all."