But they people were in fact the laxest they could hope for, and a huge break, once they decided they wanted their two prisoners to help them get their computers to decipher and display Earth’s media transmissions. It seemed they were able to intercept them. That obviously meant technology beyond what Earth had, though it still indicated they might not be that far away from their home planet, if the signal hadn't decayed too much. They’d even been able to decipher analog signals, fueling the fascination two of them had with “primitive civilizations.” But it seemed modern signals were still a little too fancy for their computers to figure out without the help of someone with Fitz’s level of skill.
They didn’t have to talk about it got Jemma to know Fitz’s feelings about helping them were very mixed. Not that he would doubt himself for immediately agreeing to it. They needed information, and the more time he spent with the computer and communications, the better their chances of getting what they needed, and this was an opportunity they weren’t likely to see again. But he would never again like the idea of helping anyone he knew so little about. She knew he had to be scared of the potential consequences of that.
Still, it undoubtedly did him good, to occupy himself with a clear task that carried no feeling of obvious harm being done. It did Jemma good too, to help as was convenient, or simply watch, sitting with the two guards who’d made the request in an almost friendly manner, though they still didn’t talk much.
That was the position they were in right now, her seeing how utterly absorbed Fitz was in his task. It was even a few minutes of him not having to remember his pain; she could see the absence of it on his face. Although that hurt a little, in its way.
Just from his intake a breath, Jemma knew a breakthrough was coming. There was a moment she hoped it was of the kind he wouldn’t tell the guards about. But maybe not this time, because he said, “I think I’ve got something.” The display screen above the console he’d been working on lit up. There was a moment of alien language displayed, but accompanied by garbled audio of a vaguely familiar British accent, out of which they could only discern the word “doctor.” Then the screen was filled with a woodland, and a hooded figure walking through it.
“You did it!” The delight was welcome as she jumped up towards Fitz, and hugs were easy between them now. The two guards also gave him a pairs of thank yous, oddly breathy through the translation chips they apparently had in their necks (the first guards to introduce themselves had explained that), before turning their attention to the scene. Their captives did the same, though Jemma wasn’t sure how much she cared what it was. A clip from a movie of some sort, perhaps, though was that hooded figure really a doctor?
Except then she saw the logo. BBC. Fitz thought it at the same moment she did: “Wait, was that doctor as in Thirteenth Doctor? Are we watching a reveal?”
“The last season has probably finished airing by now,” said Jemma. And when they’d only seen the first two episodes. Who knew when they’d get to see the rest now, if ever. Perhaps if BBC One reran it, and their next guards allowed them to continue to watch this stream. Or they’d just have to start with the next season. Right now, it was hard to believe they’d get any more than this. At least if they were getting BBC transmissions from the summer, that was further indication they couldn’t be far from Earth at all.
The audio had cleared up by the time the music came in, followed by the unmistakable sound of the TARDIS, leaving no doubt by the time that key appeared. Jemma felt a fierce pang at that sound, yet another moment of longing for the older easier life she’d left behind so long ago. For a few more seconds, maybe, they could both pretend they were still living it.
Then she realized something about that hand she should’ve noticed a moment ago, and her heart leapt into her throat as she exclaimed, “Fitz, Fitz, that’s the hand of a…”
But the stream was moving on, to a glimpse of a face that belonged to no man. For a moment Jemma was frozen, unable to believe it.
Then the Thirteenth Doctor pulled back her hood, and Jemma was pretty sure everyone from a light-year around could hear her scream.
The next few moments were a bit of a blur. She was aware she and Fitz were hugging again, or possibly jumping together, or even dancing. Maybe even floating right off this ship and into the stars surrounding them; she felt so damn happy she probably could do it. She was pretty sure they were both yelling things, and the guards were saying things, maybe to each other. She did discern Fitz saying, “Jodie Whittaker,” which must have been the name of the actress; she really hadn’t seen anything that came after that beautiful female face.
Eventually she came down enough to pay attention to the feed again. That was actually a very useful thing to do, since the BBC had returned to its more regular programming, and it turned out to be Wimbledon. Four players were now taking the court for the Mixed Doubles Final. These were events that took place mid-July. Jemma was fairly certain they hadn’t been on this ship for more than half a year at most. That meant they couldn’t be more than a light-month or so from Earth. And when there was absolutely nothing a light-month out, it was more likely they were still within the solar system.
She and Fitz looked at each other again, just to confirm they were both now thinking the same thing. His face looked the lightest it had been since the Framework. His smile increased on seeing hers. It wasn’t that a female Doctor didn’t make him happy by itself; he knew he’d thought as she had on that matter. But he was even happier for her, knowing how badly she’d always wanted this.
A whole new feeling came over Jemma, one that mixed pleasure and pain so tightly she couldn’t hold it in. She pulled Fitz away, then, out of the room they’d been in and into the corridor. Of course they were probably still on camera, and the guards would probably watch through this later. But out of their immediate sight, she could bear to say softly, “I was afraid we’d never be able to share happiness like that again.”
“Me too,” Fitz agreed. “Having this was…”
Motivating, thought Jemma, although that might actually have not been what Fitz was thinking. A new determination was taking hold of her. She and Fitz would get back to Earth, and, sooner or later, they’d see every last episode of Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor, even if it took so long to get the chance that she’d had her entire run and they’d have to marathon them.
For now, she leaned in until their lips were millimeters apart, a request for permission she was still making. Fitz closed the gap himself, giving her a brief, sweet kiss. “I was finally able to forget everything,” she whispered. “Just for a little bit. That’s another thing I now know I can do.”
“Hey!” one of the guards called. It wasn’t aggressive; he meant it to be friendly. They both jumped, even so. But when they stepped back into the room, he and his companion had enlarged the screen and were settled in front of it. “It’s starting.”
“Want to watch?” Jemma asked. They’d never be completely happy in the presence of the guards. But it was something from Earth, something both of her siblings had loved, though she’d never been as taken with tennis as the two of them had. And after all the excitement and emotions of the past few minutes, it would relax them both, just to sit and watch a Wimbledon match. Maybe staying around the feed as he processed everything he’d newly learned about the ship’s equipment would help Fitz come up with an idea of what to do next.
So Fitz nodded, and the two of them settled down together, holding hands and leaning into each other. “You know,” he said, “sometimes I find it interesting to try to predict where the ball is going to go next on certain points. That last one, for instance…”