Jenna shifted in her seat and pulled the blanket back up over her legs. Dallas to Heathrow, overnight. A long haul flight, they called this, a red-eye. Drinks service, a bit of dinner, more drinks in the hope of stupefying you, then lights out to trick you into sleeping. Lights back up before you wanted them up, breakfast before you wanted that. Then, sooner than you expected it, England below them, green fields if you were lucky, gray clouds if you weren’t. Down at Heathrow, through passport control, say goodbye to Peter.
That was all in an unimaginable future, though. Now she was in the middle of the unreality of it, strapped in a chair in the tube in the sky. White noise from the engines, the pervasive vibration. It wasn’t like being anywhere, or moving. Maybe they were holding still and the set was being changed around them. Maybe they’d alight and still be in the State. She couldn’t predict. Peter would probably say it was just as likely that they’d land on Skaro.
Might happen. Would be more interesting if it did. Hold hands and run.
She looked over at Peter, all curling hair and restless knees in the seat next to her. They were in business class, for once, because unlike the Beeb the con had money to spend on being nice to their stars. Plenty of leg room for him this time. He’d come alone for once, and of course she’d come alone this time because, well, the louse had loused off months ago. She’d finally given up and unfriended him everywhere because the reminders were upsetting. She still had all the Polaroids. What were she supposed to do with those?
Peter touched her hand for a moment. “Okay?”
“Fine, really. Just missing you a lot.”
He frowned at her. “I’m right here.”
“You know what I mean.”
“I do.” Peter unscrewed the cap of his water bottle. Jenna watched him drink. Eyes closed, lashes against his lined cheeks, throat working, water on his lips. He opened his eyes and caught her looking. He smiled and stuck the bottle into the pocket of the seat in front. “We really should do a play together.”
“Or another long series.”
“Only if Clara comes back, because I’m Doctor Who until they carry me out on a stretcher.”
“You’re always playing hard to get at contract time, you big trickster.”
“Secretly I’m in for the long haul.”
“I am indeed Mister Faithful, to the end.”
Faithful for the long haul, Peter. Devoted. Not like some people. She sighed again.
“What were you thinking about really?” Peter said. He’d leaned closer to her, elbow on the armrest, hand curled over his face. Persistent man: he knew her too well even now.
“Things,” Jenna said. “Life. You know. Trying to meet people who are normal when we have the lives we do.”
Peter looked away and rubbed his face. “Ah. Yeah, I was a bit lucky there. Sorted it all before the fame. It’ll come right soon enough. Trust me on this. Happen when you least expect it.”
“They all say that. My mum says it.”
“If you don’t believe them, then at least believe me. Come here.”
Peter popped up the armrest between them and raised his own arm for her. Jenna lost no time and snuggled in. Peter gave good hugs and she missed them. Missed the way he always smelled a bit like coffee. Coffee-flavored kisses and a bit of conversation, he’d sung to her once. That was Peter. Except for the kisses, she’d never know about that. Not that she needed to know about it. This hug was enough. Warm, solid, reassuring, his hand rubbing her shoulder.
“You’re a star, Jenna. Pure star. So much talent. You’ll go anywhere you want to go.”
“You’re my biggest fan.”
“Never denied it.”
“It’s mutual, you know? Learned so much from you. Don’t get that doing what I’m doing now. It’s fun and everything, being the star, but, yeah. I miss you.”
That wasn’t half of what she wanted to say, but he was a quick one, and he was intent on her just then, studying her face. Then he grinned and prodded her arm with an accusing forefinger.
“You’re the one had to spoil it by leaving.”
“Career. You know. Except going after career is what got to him.”
“You know what I think of his taste. He should have been proud to support you in your success.”
And Peter leaned down and kissed her. Completely chaste, no funny business, but it was so tender. He didn’t taste like coffee, more like the wine they’d both had with their dinner. Just a moment of it, then Peter was pulling back and smiling at her.
“Jenna, darling,” he said, “it’ll be all right.”
She swallowed. Her throat was all constricted. In a second she’d be ruining her mascara. “So long as I know I’ve got one of those waiting for me when I need it.”
He touched her cheek and leaned down into her and kissed her again, lingering this time, then shifted up and kissed the end of her nose. He grinned at her, one of those silly grins that made him look like he was a teenaged boy and not a grown man with gray hair.
“Dork,” she said, and laughed.
“Never denied that, either.”
The lights went down slowly, in the cabin crew’s hint that they should be sleeping now. Jenna decided not to fight it.
“Going to sketch for a bit, I think,” Peter said. “Sleep where you are, yeah? Need to soak in the Jenna for a bit before life does what it does for us.”
Jenna shifted while he dug his sketchbook and pencils out of his shoulder bag, then re-settled herself against his shoulder, blanket all the way up to her chin. She watched him for a while, sketching in the yellow circle of his reading light, his fingers on the pencil, graphite on white paper, fantastical grotesque shapes that revealed themselves as figures of men in hats, of a man with a nose she recognized as a self-portrait, of a round-faced woman with huge eyes who had to be her, a pixie who was Elaine, a robot with rubbery arms. The TARDIS, a flower, another self-portrait of a spindly man with a guitar. So many little figures.
Jenna closed her eyes.
When she opened them again, the plane was completely dark save for the seatbelt sign and the exit markers. No chatter, just the roar of engines. Peter was curled up in his chair under her blanket with her, with his head against hers. He was grizzling quietly through parted lips. Jenna smiled. She’d have to tease him for snoring some day. Some day.