This was written for the "Yellow" drabble challenge on the LiveJournal community who-contest—it was a bit hell getting this under 450 words to enter the round, but I did it in the end :P I much prefer this original, longer version though. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy!
"Is he going to be sulking for long, do you think?"
Elizabeth Shaw waits exactly four seconds before gracing the words with an answer. During that time, she keeps inspecting the contents of her bag as if that were very much more important than the current visitor; then she closes it with a little flourish, and allows her head to jerk up, her eyes to find the Brigadier where he is poised by the door, straight-backed and straight-faced, mouth in a thin line. Always the same, he is. "I don't quite know if I would call it 'sulking'," she tartly replies, before stepping out of the car.
"It might not be the most adequate term," he allows, advancing as well and closing some of the distance between them. She hums at the admission, pondering. This is significant, she doesn't fail to see—startling, even, that he came all the way here, and lets her correct him with little reluctance. It is fair enough, yet she notices, and appreciates. He is trying; he might as well.
She pats Bessie and looks down at her, and at her own long-fingered hand standing out pale against the yellow, rather than up at him. Reliable old Bessie; the two of them and the Doctor, they make quite the team now, and that much does not seem set to change.
She hears the Brigadier clear his throat, quite low, and doesn't deign to move. He will know, or assume, that she listens; she wouldn't not, yet that is as much as she will grant him so easily, and he ought to accept that.
"I suppose that he is inside?" he asks.
"Yes, you will find him there."
Still he does not move, and Liz counts silently to five before exasperation makes her turn sharply, hands braced behind her against the hood of the car, facing him with a raised chin and a challenging twist of her lips. "Why come at all, if you do not wish to speak to him?" she demands.
"I spoke to him before."
"Oh, yes. Then perhaps it is my turn to use inadequate terms, this time. Perhaps you ought not have done so much speaking, Brigadier. Perhaps it was time instead to listen. Possibly even to apologize."
He answers not; only the tiniest of twitches in his jaw come to indicate that he has, indeed, heard her words at all. He towers over her, all clear-cut and unmoving in the pale, stern colours of his military uniform. He quite irks her, with his schooled features and dark irises, the neatly-trimmed shadow of his mustache over slim lips pressed tightly together. He looked better when animated, talking quickly to the Doctor and herself, exasperated more oft than not. Then his eyes would fiercely blaze. He was stubborn still, but could at least be moved and debated with, sometimes even admit a wrong.
"I had little choice about the Silurians," he says again.
"You had a choice, and you made it. I never said I don't see why, you know. But it is too late now, the deed is done."
"Then why this unreasonable resentment?" he exclaims in frustration, control slipping at last. "There is so much work yet to be done, good to be done, and I am sure we can get past those differences of view. I will not lie, we miss his expertise greatly. Yours as well, miss Shaw, in the laboratory. You were invaluable."
She nods once, acknowledging truth. Stepping back, they knew they would be missed; nevertheless they choose to exert their freedom first thing, for now. Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart does not have that liberty, nor, she suspects, would he ever wish to. Still, truthfully, she missed and still misses the insufferable man as well.
For a second he actually looks down—such a rare sight. Quite absurdly, it makes her want to tilt his chin back up, cupping it with her hand. Yet there are too many feet still between them, and no such familiarity.
That does not mean they don't impact one another, from a distance. If being angered by him is a blazing, consuming burn that sends her all-too-ready temper into fizzing fierceness, being satisfied of him is a quiet and deep glow, cool as a balm. She suspects he feels the same. Together, they can do much and more. Such a shame then, to be apart for petty reasons… yet there is no pettiness in making a point, where one's values are concerned.
She knows where she stands, braced against the brazenly yellow car, facing the Brigadier head-on. She does not budge, straight as steel to match his.
Perhaps, in their group, he and she are most akin after all, she muses. The Doctor must be more like quicksilver—flowing free, impossible to break or bend.
"I will not bother you anymore, miss Shaw," he says gruffly. "Just one word with the Doctor, then, and I will be on my way. My men need me."
"I'm sure they do." She doesn't, not quite, but still she gives him a smile that might just be wider than usual—or fonder even, for the Brigadier actually blinks.
"Certainly," he mutters, and gives her a clumsy nod before he turns and walks off, all sharp military efficiency again. She could chuckle, or she could sigh. The Doctor will not respond well to his strictness and impatience, not now—not after the last time.
She cannot help that, she knows. In the end, surely, they will be all right again, for the Brigadier is right and there is work to be done. Work—the idea of it fills her with a quiet thrill: making a difference, doing something that matters. If these men can only give her the opportunity, she is ever so grateful.
If not, she will just have to find it for herself… But she does hope that time won't be quite yet. She likes being around them, a bit more than research, perhaps. It feels different to pursue more than sheer knowledge. It feels pleasant to have someone watching her back.
It feels pleasant, somehow, to indulge in the Doctor's whims… and bicker with the Brigadier.
She finds herself laughing, a bit. Silly men. Silly car, bright canary and black, full of tricks and oddities. Silly girl that she feels she is, sometimes, these days.
She quite likes that, too.