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PART THREE

he Doctor blindly poked his left arm out of the TARDIS doors. While this looked, to Romana, to be a ridiculously pointless action, it was in fact the direct result of various complex thought processes that had occurred inside the Doctor's remarkable brain. His questionable logic wasn't immediately obvious to his companion, who watched with both amusement and irritation.

'Doctor, what are you doing?'

'Checking to see if there's anything out there,' he replied matter-of-factly. The exasperated look on Romana's face seemed to encourage him to elaborate. 'Scanner's on the blink again, and this is the best way to see if it's safe out there. If my arm isn't sliced off or shot at, we should be okay to have a wander around.'

Roman smirked. 'Silly me. How could I not have guessed that's what you were doing? It's completely obvious!'

The Doctor thought for a moment. 'Sarcasm?'

'Indeed,' nodded Romana.

The two of them waited in silence for a few moments, and were relieved to find that nothing happened. All was well, it seemed.

'Do you want to stay here, in the TARDIS?' he asked.

'Why?' replied Romana. 'Would you prefer to be alone when you reunite with the Cavalier?' She loved teasing him.

He didn't love being teased. 'Certainly not! I was thinking of you, that's all. Might be dangerous.'

'Oh,' said Romana, 'I'm coming with you. Wouldn't miss this for the world.'

'Why not?'

Romana smiled. 'Might be dangerous.'

'Good girl,' the Doctor said warmly, smiling back at her.

They shared a moment--an odd, beautiful, terrifying moment--that seemed to last for both a second and a lifetime all at once, in which the time-travellers from Gallifrey seemed to be looking right into each others souls. Romana's hearts were beating faster than ever before, even more than when she had been running from Daleks or Mandrels or sentient security cameras. In times like these, she was reassured that beneath all the Doctor's snide comments or sarcastic putdowns, he really seemed to care about her. She wasn't sure if the same could be said about his relationship with K-9. She almost hoped not...

Out of embarrassment and unease from their meaningful glances, Romana looked away. She cast her eyes over the control console, wanting to look at something else--anything else. She was scared. She could understand the complex trans-temporal and dynamic spatial readouts of the TARDIS, but she didn't know her own hearts... Or did she, she wondered, and she just couldn't admit it? Why not? Was it more that she wouldn't admit it? And again: why not? There was no good reason for her silence. There was something there, between her and the Doctor, almost definitely. She cared for him, that strange, ridiculous, completely bonkers man, who was stood just a few feet away from her with his arm hanging out of a police box.

Finally, after far too long, she decided she was going to tell the Doctor how she felt--or at least how she thought she felt.

She looked up again. 'Doctor, I need to tell you...'

But the Doctor was gone.

Romana just caught a glimpse of his scarf trailing behind him, as the Doctor tumbled out of the TARDIS, left arm first, as if he had been pulled outside by someone--or something. Either way, it couldn't have been good.

'Doctor!' she cried, as she hurried after him.

~~~

few minutes earlier, the Cavalier had been asleep. His mysterious captors had finally decided to stop torturing him and allow him to rest. He certainly needed it. It had been such an insane few hours, from a chase through the Time Vortex, to a trudge through the impenetrable environment of the Alps, to an encounter with not-quite-Ancient Rome. He had just drifted off and was dreaming of Gallifrey, and his old friends who had become his enemies simply because he wanted to be different, when he heard a noise--a familiar, beautiful, reassuring noise that woke him immediately.

The Cavalier shook off his sleepiness and sat bolt upright on the pathetic excuse for a bed, watching as a bright blue police box faded into existence. He knew it from the stories, the myths and legends on a thousand worlds right across the universe, which spoke of a mysterious and magical wanderer known only as the Doctor. Of course, the Cavalier knew his old friend by a dozen other names, but he understood why he had changed it. “The Doctor” suited him much better. He always wanted to make people better, and from the stories the Cavalier had heard, it sounded like that was exactly what he'd been doing since leaving Gallifrey. And all those tales spoke of his police box, that rackety old TARDIS that he never fixed. The Cavalier laughed--that was very him.

But, he wondered, why had the Doctor come here? Was it random? Or had he really come looking for his old friend, the Cavalier, after all these years? He had thought that the Doctor must have forgotten him. But no, it seemed that he still thought about the Cavalier as much as he thought about the Doctor. They'd always vowed to remain friends, but then again people always did, usually right before they lost touch forever. But the Cavalier had always known that he and the Doctor shared a bond that was stronger than all of space-time. Nothing would tear them apart. But it seemed that it was more than that: now the universe had brought them together again.

He watched with bated breath for the moment when those TARDIS doors would burst open and the Doctor, in a new body all these years later, the Cavalier suspected, would look upon his old friend and smile. The Cavalier straightened the Roman armour that he still had to wear because he had nothing else, and waited to see the Doctor again.

 
              

artwork by ANDY LAMBERT
used with permission
 
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