Ryan sidled up to Scout, who was leaning against a crystal pillar in the console room, which was empty, save the two of them.
“Hi. Need something?” they asked, looking up from their phone.
“Uh, yeah- well- I was wondering- why do you use, uh, they/them pronouns for the Doctor?”
Scout made a sound of surprise. Ryan grinned awkwardly.
“Well, until I know someone’s pronouns I use they/them. Bit of a difficult habit to get into, especially considering what it’s like on Earth in our time, but it’s polite,” they said, flipping their phone over in their hands. Ryan seemed to consider their words, but still looked confused.
“But we call the Doc a she and she don’t seem to mind.”
Scout shrugged a bit.
“You don’t call any of the rest of us a they, though,” Ryan argued.
Scout let out a little huff of amusement. “Yeah, that’s because when I was explaining being nonbinary and all, you used yourself as an example and used he/him/his. Yaz told me she used she/her after that, and Graham said he used he/him. The Doctor spaced a bit, I think, cause they didn’t say their pronouns. Nobody called them out on it.”
“So, yeah- Doc’s never explicitly stated their pronouns.”
“So you think they’re- what’s the word?- nonbinary?” Ryan asked.
“Even if they are, ’s none of my business. Even if I knew, ’s rude to tell people about someone’s gender without their permission. If you really want to know, ask the Doc. Though, do bear in mind you’re not really entitled to an answer beyond their pronouns. The most you need to know about someone’s gender is what pronouns they wanna be called and terms they’d like for you to refer to them with. Thas’ it.”
Ryan nodded, still looking more than a bit overwhelmed. Scout’s expression softened.
“You’re still new to the whole concept of being genderqueer, I don’t expect you to memorise this all right off the bat. Just… generally try to be respectful, y’know? Don’t assume people’s pronouns, don’t refuse to change how you refer to someone, all that jazz.” They made a vague motion with their hands.
“Yeah,” Ryan said. He looked a bit less confused than before.
“Cool! D’you need anything else?”
“Nah. I think I’ll ask the Doc about it tomorrow. I think sh-they’re doing some important repairs or something.”
Scout nodded. Ryan left, and they pulled out their phone again to continue mindlessly scrolling through their Tumblr feed. They didn’t actually get to that, on account of the Doctor appearing from behind another of the crystal pillars. Scout made a truly undignified sound as the Doctor bounced over, sans-coat, to stand beside them.
“I didn’t think you were here,” they began, looking a bit sheepish.
“I’m a master at stealth, but anyway- thanks,” the Doctor said, their expression more sober than Scout had probably ever seen it outside of a really dire situation.
Scout screwed up their face in confusion. “What for?”
“Being so, well, polite about m’pronouns and all. Telling Ryan all that. Not many people I’ve met who actually know not to assume pronouns. ’S odd, too, that just because I look like their idea of a woman they’ve put me in that category.” The Doctor’s tone had an odd bluntness in it that Scout had never heard before- bitterness?
“I can sympathise.”
“Still,” the Doctor continued, their tone lightening, “Can’t blame them, ’s all because of society and whatever.”
Scout made a sound. Neither of them spoke, but then again, they didn’t have to, because Yaz poked her head in from the hallway.
“Hey, guys- I made hot chocolate.”
Scout and the Doctor looked up in unison, but the Doc beat Scout over to the doorway. Scout resigned themself to this fate and walked over slowly. Yaz grinned as the Doctor wrapped their arms around her.
“Hot chocolate?” the Doctor asked.
“Mhm. In the library,” Yaz responded.
Scout grinned a bit to themself- Yaz and the Doctor were really adorable around each other.
They wandered down the hallway together, Yaz and the Doc hand in hand, grinning like mad fools, and Scout walking in step with them, laughing along to the Doctor’s stream of information on the Very Best Hot Chocolate they’d had, on some forest planet somewhere.
The TARDIS life was the good life.