CUDDLING THE ZYGONS
Sarah stood outside of the village inn, listening to the sounds of silence emanating from Tulloch Moor. She looked up at the stars, then wrapped her arms around herself to ward off the night chill in the air. She heard a door close behind her, and glanced back to see who'd come outside. The Doctor gave her an easy smile as he came to stand next to her. 'Rough day?' he asked, even though he knew the answer.
'I'm trying not to think too hard about it,' Sarah replied. 'I'd feel better if we knew where the real Harry was.'
'We'll find him, Sarah,' the Doctor replied as he shoved his hands in his pockets. He focused on the stars overhead. 'It's late, by human standards.'
She took a deep breath and closed her eyes. 'Every time I close my eyes, all I can see is that thing wearing a Harry-suit coming at me with a pitchfork.' She shivered involuntarily, unsure whether it was from the cold or the mental picture her brain kept conjuring up and replaying over and over. 'Doctor,' she turned her head towards him, 'do you have any idea what we're up against?'
He continued to stare upward, not ready to see the look he knew was in her eyes. 'Not yet. However, whoever has Harry is bound to make a mistake soon, and when they do, we'll be there to find them. And stop them from doing whatever it is they're attempting to do that we don't agree with.'
'Ever the optimist.' There was a smile in her voice, despite the circumstances.
The Doctor looked down at Sarah and smiled. 'Do we have a choice?'
Sarah shrugged. 'I suppose not.' His eyes remained locked with hers, as if he was staring through her. She shivered again, this time she was sure it was from the cold. Or was it from the look he was giving her? Keeping her arms wrapped around herself, she rubbed her hands along her upper arms, trying to warm herself up.
'Tired and cold? Not a good combination.' The Doctor shed his coat and wrapped it around Sarah.
'Better than being in jail and hungry on some desolate planet somewhere,' Sarah retorted, even as she slipped her arms into the sleeves of his coat and basked in the warmth it gave her.
'Possibly,' the Doctor admitted. Sarah looped an arm through his and leaned up against him, resting her head on his upper arm, but they both stood there in silence. Several minutes later, the Doctor heard Sarah yawn. He reached out and put his hands on Sarah's arms, turning her back towards the inn. 'Come on, you need your rest.' Before Sarah could respond, he wrapped an arm around her shoulders and gave her them a reassuring squeeze. 'No matter what you think, I do notice these things, Sarah.'
Sarah let him guide her upstairs to the room UNIT provided. He opened the door and gestured for her to go in. She took one step inside the doorway, then turned to face him, knowing he wouldn't follow her in. She tilted her head, her eyes taking in his every movement. She knew him well enough to know the gears in his mind were constantly turning. 'You're planning something, aren't you?'
'Me, plan?' he gave her a devilish grin. 'Oh, Sarah Jane, I thought you knew me better than that. Besides, there's nothing we can do now until morning. Plenty of time for you to get some rest, wouldn't you say?'
'What about you?' she asked, even as she lowered her eyes to the floor.
'I'm still good for another day or so.' He reached out and adjusted the collar of his coat, settling it more squarely across Sarah's shoulders before resting his hands on either side of her neck. He focused his eyes on where her jacket collar poked out above his coat, and his fingers played with the material of their own accord. 'Do you think you can sleep now without pitchfork-wielding aliens coming after you?'
'I can but try,' she sighed dramatically, but with a smile.
His deep rumbling laugh in response did calm her, although she didn't like to admit it. He continued to watch her, sensing the uncertainty in her eyes. 'Well?'
'Yes, I think so,' she finally added.
He reached up and cupped her face with one hand, his thumb tracing her cheekbone. 'I could always induce a slight hypnotic suggestion,' he offered.
'No,' she cut him off quickly. 'I'd rather stay in full control of my faculties, thanks just the same. Even if it means being awake all night.'
'As you wish.' He turned from her and started to head down the hallway, then turned back to see her continuing to watch him. 'Good night, Sarah.'
'Good night, Doctor,' she replied softly even as he continued down the hallway. Once he was out of sight, she closed the door quietly.
The Doctor put down the piece of equipment he was working on and looked at the tracking device sitting on the table. He then glanced at the clock on the wall more out of habit than needing to see that 45 minutes passed since he'd come downstairs. Amongst the myriad of things going through his mind, he worried about Sarah. If it hadn't been for her quick thinking and reflexes, they might have lost the tracking device. More than that, she might've been killed. That bothered him more than he expected. She'd been in danger before travelling with him, so dancing with death was nothing new for them. So why was this affecting him now?
Since his regeneration, they'd fallen into a comfortable routine. While he would admit how much he enjoyed their playful banter, somehow it seemed more than that. Cataloguing his emotions, he realised how strongly he cared for her. He shuffled all of that to the back of his mind. It wouldn't do to be distracted by emotions at the moment. He would deal with them later.
Taking a deep breath, he decided the best course of action was to check on Sarah, just to make sure she'd been able to sleep. He reassured himself that he was merely making sure she rested, since he would need her on top form over the next few days. He didn't know yet what they were facing, but everyone needed their minds focused and sharp.
He made his way upstairs to her room. Rather than knocking on the door and risk waking her, he pulled his sonic screwdriver out of his pocket and unlocked the door. Trying to be as quiet as possible, he opened the door and stuck his head in. He looked around and saw Sarah in bed, curled on her side, his coat draped around her like a blanket. Stepping into the room and closing the door behind him, he noticed her green jacket draped across the small chair in the corner of the room, with her black boots standing next to the chair.
He worked through the steps logically. That meant when he left her at her door earlier, she'd taken off his coat and her jacket, but held onto his coat when she finally went to bed. The thought that she'd want something of his close to her as she slept warmed his hearts.
He walked over and knelt by the bed, watching her sleep. Reaching out to stroke her hair, he watched as her eyes fluttered open. She looked up at him, and at his reassuring smile, she instantly relaxed and gave him the slightest smile in return, her heavy eyes closing once more.
Making a decision, the Doctor stepped over to the chair and unwrapped his scarf, and took off his cravat and waistcoat and dropped them on the chair. Slipping off his shoes, he went back over to the bed and pulled back the duvet. He lifted Sarah's feet and tucked them under the duvet. He lifted his coat off of her and threw it across the chair before climbing into bed behind Sarah and pulling the duvet over them both.
Sarah roused, rolling over to face the Doctor. He tucked one arm under her, pulling her towards him, even as he kept one hand along her neck, his thumb caressing her cheek. She sleepily reached up and ran her hand along the Doctor's shirt before wrapping her arm around his waist and snuggling in close.
The Doctor reached around with the hand that had been along Sarah's face and wrapped it around her back. He began to gently knead his fingers along the tight muscles in her lower back, causing her to let out a soft sigh as he felt her body relaxing with his touch. Under his gentle ministrations, she quickly settled back into a contented sleep.
Sarah's eyes snapped open as she jolted awake and sat up, looking around. Recognising her surroundings, she flopped back on the bed and pulled the duvet up over her head with a groan. She sighed before pulling the covers down and looking at the window, trying to gauge the time. The dawn was beginning to break over the moor, so with another sigh, Sarah dragged herself out of bed to freshen up before going downstairs.
She grabbed her jacket and sat down in the chair to pull on her boots before looking over at the bed. She distinctly remembered going to sleep using the Doctor's coat as a blanket, but now it wasn't anywhere to be seen. She smiled, her brain remembering a dream about the Doctor from the previous night. That thought brought her up with a start as she sat up straight. That couldn't have been real, she thought to herself. Or could it?
Standing up, she made her way to the door and swung it open, surprised to see the Doctor on the other side, hand up, poised to knock on the door. She immediately noticed the coat he wore. The same coat she'd used as a blanket when she went to sleep the previous evening. 'Ah, there you are, Sarah. I was beginning to think you were going to sleep the entire day away.' He gave her the most ridiculous of grins.
She tilted her head, regarding him, but said nothing.
'All right, so not the entirety of the day, but I've been awake for hours now.'
'So you did sleep?' she asked, her voice quiet.
The Doctor looked sheepish before staring down at his shoes and kicking at the ends of his scarf. 'You were there.'
She bit her bottom lip, unable to look at him. Instead they stood there, facing each other, neither one of them able to do more than glance at the other. 'So that wasn't a dream?' she whispered. Seeing him shake his head, she smiled. 'Good. I'm glad.'
He looked up at her, another grin spreading across his features at her acceptance. 'Excellent! After all, you do make the most snuggle-y bed partner.' She blushed as she turned her head away. He reached out and draped an arm around her shoulders, guiding her out of the room beside him. 'We'd best get downstairs before the Brigadier thinks we're up to some sort of mischief.'
Sarah looked up at him. 'Us, mischief? Never.' They started to walk away, but she stopped abruptly. 'Doctor?'
He turned towards her, his arm slipping from her shoulders. 'Yes?'
'Will that ever happen again?' Her eyes searched his face for some sort of emotion, but found none except a slight confusion.
'Would you like it to?'
Her eyes fixed on the floor. 'Yes.'
'Then I see no reason why not.' Grinning, he put his arm back around her shoulders. 'Come on.'