charamei: Fourth Doctor/Romana II (DW4: Doctor/Romana II)
[personal profile] charamei
Title: A Timely Proposal
Rating: PG-13
Genre: Romance, Angst
Characters/Pairings: Eight/Romana II
Wordcount: 1341
Disclaimer: I don't own Doctor Who; I'm just playing in the BBC's sandbox for fun and practice.

Author's Note: Due to, well, the Time War, this sort of assumes backstory rather than attempting to build it. Bring your own, or use mine.

Summary: The Daleks are coming, and the Doctor chooses the worst moment possible to ask a very important question.

/\/\/\

Karn had fallen. Pallifrey was falling. The Daleks were coming, and there wasn't much time left. So what did they do? They held a committee meeting, of course.

Thankfully, two hundred years of emergency committees had at least drilled the concept of urgency into the heads of most Time Lords – but still, it was a committee. There was tea, and little pink cakes, and impending doom.

First the cakes went, and quickly, because eating saved the War Council from admitting that they were out of ideas. Next, the tea was drained, then a few people used that as an excuse to relieve themselves; of course, it would be rude to start without them, so the rest waited, shuffling their papers, clearing their throats and desperately avoiding eye contact.

The Doctor fidgeted until he noticed Romana looking hopefully at him, then forced himself to stop. Better that than admit that he, too, had nothing left to suggest, and would rather be fighting on Pallifrey than holed up in the Capitol picking pink crumbs off his coat and debating the possibility of emergency bladder relief in the next ten minutes or so.

The silence stretched, and stretched, and the more it did so, the more he began to feel that it was stretching towards him.

"There must be something we can do," he said finally, and the tension in the room eased for the barest of moments, before they realised that he hadn't, for once, actually suggested anything.

Skender looked up from the dregs of his teacup for the barest of moments. "Such as?"

"Well, I admit I'm a little stumped at the moment, but we are Time Lords. There must be something."

"I hope you got that," Lotis said to K-9. "The Doctor reminds us of our species and suggests that we should do something about our forthcoming extinction. Helpful as ever."

"Whereas Lotis offers a particularly inventive and cutting sarcastic repetition of the Doctor's rhetoric, thus propelling us light years towards our goal," Skender said.

Romana raised her voice to speak over Lotis' flustered response. "Does anybody have any ideas?"

Silence fell, again, before a small voice said from the corner, "We could run away."

Slowly, all twelve of the committee turned to stare at the young man – and he was young, only fifty or so – with incredulity. He blushed violently. What was his name again? Fedusa, that was it.

The Doctor gently reminded him, "We have tried to evacuate several times. Every colony was destroyed. Some TARDISes never even reached their destination."

"I know, sir," Fedusa said, stammering a little. "I didn't mean... um. I meant we could move the planet."

Lotis snorted. "Why is this child on the Council?"

"For exactly the same reason as our children are fighting at all," Romana snapped. "If you don't have anything constructive to say, Lotis, do shut up." She gave Fedusa a reassuring smile. "It's certainly ambitious. Doctor?"

The Doctor had had plenty of time to think about it by now. "Yes... yes, that might just work. Of course, we'd have to decide where we were going to move it to, and act extremely quickly... you know, Fedusa, I think you might be onto something."

Fedusa blushed again. Romana drummed her fingers on the table. "How to achieve it in a hurry, though? We don't have the time to build a planetary transmat."

"Well, there's always dimension-hopping, I suppose, although that would be very irresponsible of us. Good old-fashioned dragging with TARDISes might do in a pinch."

"They'd notice if we hooked our planet up to tow-ropes and started pulling, surely."

"Not if we set up a temporary event horizon. I know they worked out how to dismantle those a while back, but it takes them time. We could haul Gallifrey out of the system, maybe buy ourselves enough time to create the transmat, hopefully repopulate a little -"

"A planetary transmat?" Lotis asked dubiously.

"Lesser races have done it, Lotis," Romana said. "Shut up."

"We can't repopulate any faster than we already are," Skender objected. "I'm already sending thirty-year-olds to the front lines. Thirty! It's disgusting."

There were murmurs of assent from around the table. Fedusa, the Doctor noticed, looked rather offended.

More disturbingly, the Doctor no longer flinched at the thought of thirty-year-olds on the front lines. Gallifrey was out of adults; that was the plain and simple truth. Even Skender was barely a hundred and fifty. Daleks seemed to breed like humans, but Time Lords took, well, time to mature. And so, over the past two hundred years, they'd lowered the bar of maturity, a little at a time...

"All the more reason to devote more time to repopulating, if we can," Romana said quietly. "Doctor. I need you and any of the tech corps you can find in my office in half an hour, relative. Everyone else..." she sighed. "Transmat to Pallifrey. It may still hold."

/\/\/\


Half an hour later, relative time, Pallifrey had fallen.

The handful of people that had gathered around the blackboard in Romana's office threw themselves into the logistics debate with a manic, desperate fervour. In everyone's eyes, on everyone's mind, it was as plain as day: Don't mention Pallifrey. Don't think about Pallifrey. Just... don't mention Pallifrey.

He'd always rather liked that Fawlty Towers episode, he thought glumly, and reached up to correct a basic arithmetical error of Terris's. She must be nervous.

Or undertrained.

The possibly-nervous, possibly-undertrained, definitely-too-young woman glanced up at his correction, wincing. "Sorry."

"Happens to everyone," he assured her, and handed her his chalk as Romana approached with a readout from K-9.

She looked pale. Well, everyone was pale at the moment, but Romana looked paler, if possible, than she had been a few minutes ago. She passed him the readout silently.

It took him a moment to comprehend it, because it simply couldn't be. It made no sense. He stared at Romana, aghast.

"How...?"

She took his arm, tugging him away from the group of technicians, and spoke in a low voice. "They must have got someone inside. An agent. I don't know how, Doctor. But you can see it right there."

The Doctor read the slip of paper again, just in case this was a spectacularly bad joke.

It wasn't. The Daleks were draining their power. Not fully, not even enough so that it would notice under normal circumstances, but enough to prevent any massive energy boosts. Such as one caused by setting up an event horizon, for example, or moving a planet.

Romana switched entirely to telepathy. If we cut all other power, we can do one or the other – but not both, Doctor. And I do mean all other power. Life support, TARDIS support, the transduction barrier...

"Oh, now come on. There are plenty of other energy sources," he murmured back. "We could rattle up some fusion generators, or a gravitational drive... or how about the Untempered Schism? Reroute pure Vortex energy through a couple of temporal siphons... We'd have to hook up a reverse kalon shift mechanism, maybe a few optical stabilisers... will you marry me?"

All chalk scratching stopped simultaneously.

Romana blinked. "We're probably about to die, Doctor. I don't think this is exactly the time."

"On the contrary, it's exactly the time. Motivation, that's the key. Incentive. Something to live for. Besides, it's not as if I haven't been meaning to ask for a while. I just keep forgetting."

Romana looked thoughtful. The Doctor waited, his hearts fluttering completely out of his control. She wasn't supposed to have to think.

"Motivation," she said, after an eternity in fifteen seconds.

"It's not the primary reason, but yes."

"All right," she said, and smiled. "I'll tell you after we've transmatted the planet. Hadn't you better be setting up those temporal siphons?"

He'd rather asked for it, he supposed, and she was right; it was certainly motivating. He collared Terris, who was pretending that she hadn't been listening, and hurried to the TARDIS.

/\/\/\


The Doctor never did get his answer.

/\/\/\

Date: 2009-04-24 02:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] charamei [journalfen.net]
[DWFic (http://community.livejournal.com/dwfiction/2083318.html) and OTP Probably (http://community.livejournal.com/otp_probably/82318.html) links, for my own review-whoring purposes]

Date: 2009-04-27 02:35 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Lovely story. Captures the general refusal of forward motion of the Time Lords, the hope of Eight, and the wisdom of Romana.
Because he would. He really, really would.
And so would she.

PS- Meh. It won't let me login here, maypanic from lj.

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