charamei: Fourth Doctor/Romana II (DW4: Doctor/Romana II)
[personal profile] charamei
This has been sitting unfinished on my hard drive for far too long. Then I found the ending!

Title: An Outlaw's Life For Me
Rating: PG
Genre: Humour, fluff
Characters/Pairings: Four, Romana II, and a desperate man.
Wordcount: 1862
Disclaimer: I don't own Doctor Who; I'm just playing in the BBC's sandbox for fun and practice.

Summary: During an enforced stop-over on Gallifrey, the Doctor encounters what may well be his greatest threat ever. Romana isn't so sure.

The Balaneion was the largest of Gallifrey's bath-houses, and one of only two or three that were not attached to a Chapter, House or academy. This made it, almost by accident, one of the foremost social locations in the Capitol.

A Time Lord would say that its historical and political significance were immense, that more pacts had been made and broken here than anywhere else on the planet, that the course of history of the entire universe had on occasion been determined by a few people sitting in the waters of its hexagonal pool. He would point to Rassilon and Omega, to Pellywell, even on occasion to Morbius. He would hold it up as evidence that his race, almost alone in this regard, was capable of coming together, both genders nude, without any sordid sexual activity following. He might even, if he was of a particular mindset, note that Gallifrey was the home of such handy inventions as the waterproof notebook and pen, the floating chemistry set, and the lilo with attached writing desk. Were he a botanist, he might also say he liked it because, as the Gallifreyans of old had not wished to waste even a drop of their limited fresh water supply, it doubled as a greenhouse.

In the last six million years or so it had turned into something of an exhibit, too. They brought plantlife from all over the universe to fill its many beds and planters; Gallifreyan red and silver foliage stood right next to Nethese blue and Terran green, a riot of living colour even in the depths of simulated winter.

It was spring at the moment, to match the spring happening outside the Capitol. The air was heady with a thousand different perfumes; the contents of the flowerbeds and planters sprawled out over their boundaries, racing the gardeners and, for now, winning. There were flowers everywhere, and echoing through them, muffled only slightly by the trees, the distant sounds of splashing and chatter.

A Pelenese singing rose latched onto Romana's sleeve and began to whistle shrilly. She detached it as delicately as she could, noting as she did so, "That's off-key."

"It's not fully open yet," the Doctor protested, and she felt a stab of irritation. Only he could become offended on behalf of flora. "Just you wait. In a few days, the melodies in here will be beautiful."

"A few days? I thought the replications were only going to take seven hours."

"So they are, so they are, assuming that man gets them right. I didn't like the look of him, you know."

"You mean you didn't like what he called your TARDIS."

"Scrap metal," the Doctor muttered, and held up a low-hanging branch for her to pass under. "I'll show him scrap metal."

"I take it this will be once it's functioning again?"

He dropped the branch with unnecessary force. "It's not my fault that we had to use the spare dematerialisation circuit to fix that transmat on Vil."

"You could have made sure we got it back afterwards."

"Look, if you didn't want to come then you could always have stayed in the TARDIS."

Romana sighed. It was probably not his fault that they'd broken down. Probably. "I'm just a little worried that somebody might recognise me. The baths are hardly the most secluded place on the homeworld."

The Doctor began moving again, veering left down the path for the changing rooms. The path was more thickly wooded here, planted with fruit trees and varicoloured underbrush. Some of that underbrush was giving off rather suspicious psychic emanations, Romana noticed, and knew the Doctor did too, because he grinned at her before marching forwards, raising his voice a little. "Nonsense. There's clearly nobody here."

Oh, no...

She hurried to catch up with him before he reached the suspect bush. As she drew level, the bushes parted and a small, muddy apparition hurtled out onto the path in front of them, brandishing a twig and bellowing, "Your money or one of your lives!"

The Doctor's hands were in the air before their would-be mugger had even finished speaking. "We surrender!"

When Romana did not follow suit, he glanced over her in apparent surprise. "Aren't you surrendering? She's not surrendering, young Loomling – I suggest you take her captive and ransom her back to her Family." He leaned down a little, lowering his voice. "Between you and me, they're very eager to get her back."

"That's blackmail," Romana murmured to him, even as she raised her hands. "I must say, I don't feel very threatened."

"Not very threatened? Not very threatened? Romana, this is clearly a desperate man. Look in his eyes!"

Romana squinted down at the boy, who waved his stick hopefully. If he was desperate, it was only to avoid getting into the bath. "I don't see it, Doctor."

"I tell you he's desperate," the Doctor informed her solemnly. "Aren't you, lordling?"

"Nobody will ever have been more desperate in the whole of Time," the Loomling declared grandly.

"You see? I told you he was desperate."

Romana stifled the urge to put her head in her hands. So much for keeping a low profile and getting off Gallifrey as quickly as possible; instead, here she was stuck with a dirty Loomling and a fully-grown man of the same observable level of developmental maturity. She would be lucky if they managed to go the day without the guard being called in.

She could always go back to the TARDIS, of course. But then, she would have no hope of containing him at all...

Only one thing to do, then. She raised the pitch of her voice a little, the better to simulate a breathy, useless female. "But Doctor! However could you tell?"

He couldn't grin at her without destroying his act, so he settled for a quick telepathic burst of happiness instead. "Well, for one thing he's covered in mud, which tells me that he's engaged in dirty dealing."

Romana rolled her eyes at him. "Anything else?"

"Why, yes, as it happens. You can clearly see that he's carrying a stick from – where did you get that stick?"

"Over there," the boy said, and pointed.

"From over there. Sticks from over there are some of the most vicious, horrific weapons in the universe – ah, Romana, be glad you have never before been confronted with a stick from over there. Only a desperate man would use such a thing. And lastly -!"

"Yes, Doctor?"

"Lastly," the Doctor confided in a stage-whisper, "He is treading on my scarf."

"Oh, sorry," the desperate man said, and hopped backwards. He left a damp, muddy footprint on the wool.

"I see," Romana said. "Well, you've certainly convinced me."

"I tell you, Romana – I've faced Daleks, Cybermen, the Master, even Omega himself, but nothing has ever terrified me so much as this Loomling with a stick from over there."

"Omega?" Romana began to ask, but caught herself just in time. Better to ask later, when they weren't being held at stickpoint by the vilest villain the Doctor had ever faced. "So what should we do? Do you have some plan to outwit him?"

Slowly, bug-eyed, the Doctor shook his head. "I am helpless against his might. We should give him what he wants, if you ask me – unless you have a better idea, of course."

Romana sighed theatrically. "If you can't think of anything, Doctor, then I'm sure I shan't be able to."

"Excellent! Then we're agreed on our helplessness. Now, what was it he wanted again?"

For a desperate man, their attacker took a long time to remember what his demands were. In the time it took for him to remember, Romana caught the Doctor's eye and asked, telepathically, You're not really planning on giving him money?

Of course not. Don't be silly.

This from a man who had spent the past five minutes pretending he was being mugged by a Loomling with a twig.

"Your money or one of your lives!" the Loomling remembered, seconds too late, and brandished his stick to make up for the delay.

"Ah," the Doctor said.

"I'd prefer the money," the boy said.

"Yes, well, that's the problem, you see. We don't exactly have any."

The boy wrinkled his nose in disbelief. "What, none at all?"

"Not a pandak. Would jelly babies do?"

Romana dropped her hands in disbelief. "All this so you could give him sweets?"

The Loomling, quicker on the uptake now that his stomach was involved, drew himself to his full height and said, in a tone that was probably supposed to be grown-up, "Sweets would be acceptable."

"All right," the Doctor said, and began to root about in his pockets. Romana and the Loomling exchanged small, awkward smiles.

She wasn't particularly fond of children. They made noise and mess and were just generally childish. It wasn't their fault, but that didn't make it any more bearable.

The Doctor, without so much as a by-your-leave, turned one of her hands palm-up and placed a rubber duck on it. He still hadn't found his jelly babies, although he had found a teapot, three lengths of string and a small geode.

But mostly, Romana found herself forced to admit more and more lately, the reason she'd never been fond of childish people was the distinct feeling that they had more fun than she did.

"You know," she said to the Loomling, who tore his gaze away from the Doctor to listen, "you could always press-gang us. We aren't busy."

The Doctor stopped rummaging and looked up, a small hourglass clenched between his teeth.

"We'd be very good outlaws," Romana said encouragingly, as the Loomling wavered. "We've had plenty of practice. I got press-ganged only yesterday. And you'd be able to organise, you know, cover more area. Get more money. We could share the sweets if he ever finds them."

The boy looked, slowly, from Romana to the Doctor and then back again. And then, just as slowly, he nodded.

/\/\/\


Several hours later, Romana, mud smeared on her face and twigs stuck in her hair for camouflage, lifted her head cautiously out of the bush she was crouched in to make sure the Doctor was in position. Their friend, whom the Doctor had taken to calling Desperado since he wasn't old enough for a proper name yet, had taken one of the many paths back to their secret hideout in a flower bed, laden down with loot. (Mostly clothes; getting people to disrobe in the baths was far easier than getting them to give up their money or, Rassilon forbid, their research notes.) That just left herself and the Doctor to ambush their latest victim, who could be heard strolling peacefully towards the changing room. Male; physically older, but not elderly. And on the ball, because he rounded the corner and paused for a split second, glancing at each of their bushes in turn.

Before Romana could warn the Doctor that they'd been spotted, he erupted from the bush, sonic screwdriver held aloft. "Your money or one of your – oh." Disarming smile. "Good afternoon, Lord Borusa..."

Date: 2011-03-18 11:17 pm (UTC)
sharpest_asp: Nyssa and Tegan from Doctor Who together in one icon (Doctor Who: Tegan and Nyssa)
From: [personal profile] sharpest_asp
OH I LOVE THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Four, so witty and funny and the Pockets of Holding!

Romana and her infinite capacity for enduring the Doctor.

And then....BORUSA! (still haven't forgiven The Five Doctors for that one).

Thank you for sharing!

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