The Doctor is ordered to return to E-space to retrieve Romana but will he obey or run away?
The familiar sound of the TARDIS broke through the silence of the day in E-space.
Romana was facing away from the noise as it filled the empty air around her, whooshing and groaning.
Her eyes were wide with shock. For a moment, she didn't turn around; she just stood there, questioning her senses to ensure she wasn't going mad.
She eventually turned, slowly, taking in the almost impossible apparition of a battered old blue Police box now sitting in front of her, as though it had always been there.
She parted her lips, as if to say something in response to this sudden appearance, but her brain failed to supply something sufficient.
The door swung open and out strode the Doctor.
He was certainly not the Doctor she was expecting though, not at all. The Time Lord stood before her, grinning widely, definitely did not inhabiting the same body she had last seen him in.
For a moment she gasped, taking in his appearance, hoping that the surprise would wear off and she could make some sense of this situation.
He had a mop of soft, chestnut curls that tumbled down his neck and stopped just above his shoulders. His face was quite astonishingly handsome and noble, which had certainly not at all helped her articulate any quicker. It had positively taken her off guard. Bright and animated pale blue eyes smiled back at her more than his grin, as if his soul had recognised its counterpoint in another.
The other being her.
"Doctor" she began, the only word that managed to scramble its way through the sea of conflicting thoughts and emotions tumbling about in her head.
"Romana" he returned, the smile now evident in his voice.
"You've changed" she said and then instantly regretted being stupid enough to state the obvious.
"So have you" he replied, taking a few steps closer to her.
He had of course noticed her appearance the instant he had left the TARDIS. At first he thought he had arrived at the wrong place, which to be fair, was unavoidably likely with the state the TARDIS' guidance system was in these days. He made an instant 'note to self' straight after that initial thought: 'must fix guidance system. And that little squeak the kitchen door makes".
How could he have been wrong though? He looked into the eyes of the other person and ... just knew.
Oh, and how much she had changed, he thought, how very much indeed.
Sharp green eyes were taking in his own changed appearance as she brushed away from her face her deep mahogany coloured hair that fell to her shoulders.
"I'm here to take you back to Gallifrey I'm afraid" he said, letting a serious tone envelope his words.
"No, Doctor this is where I belong" she said straight back, her initial surprise had evaporated and there was definitely more of the Romana he knew bubbling back to the surface.
The Doctor shook his head.
"They have requested for you to return home, your father is now President of Gallifrey" he continued.
"Maybe, I don't want to return" she countered firmly sounding almost petulant.
The Doctor fanned out his hands in exasperation. If she was anything like her old self, then she would be just as stubborn as he remembered.
"You never make things easy, do you?" he sighed, folding his arms and looking with more interest than was necessary, at the shine at the end of his shoes.
"This is my life now" she said quietly "You may be happy to run off one minute and then let the Time Lords call you back to do their bidding the next, like some well trained spaniel, but NOT me. To hell with them" she spat, pressing her lips together to form a long thin line.
"I see" he said without looking up "Yes, yes, yes. I see. I do. You think you know what it's like to be me don't you? You think you even know who and what I am don't you?" he said, unchecked anger creeping into his voice.
"Well you don't" he sneered "you haven't got a clue. You have no idea of the life I have lead and the sacrifices I have made" he shook his head and ran a hand through his hair.
"If I had the chance of going home, a chance of being happy there, without someone trying to be purposefully terrible constantly, I would do it, but I can't"
She was watching his new face now with interest; he had rarely ever opened up about anything before. This new Doctor was one that had clearly and finally, had enough.
"I run, because I have to Romana, not because I want to. You think you know. I help them because I must, not necessarily because I want to. And you know what? I am sick of it. Sick of them. But you know what? You are not me and you aren't looked at by them like I am. You have a chance and they will let you come back and let you have a life" he let a sigh out through his nose and paused, renewing his interest in the tips of his shoes.
A complex ream of emotions crossed his features as she looked on and it broke both of her hearts to see it.
"I'm sorry" she began.
"You're sorry, I'm sorry, but they aren't. No. You have a chance and you have to take it. That's why I've come to get you. I won't deny you what I have been" he stated quietly.
He turned without looking at her and entered the TARDIS, leaving the door open.
She stared at it for a moment, his words ringing in her ears.
It seemed like such a long time ago since he had been something to her and they had been together. They had been so in tune with each other's thoughts and hearts she had thought, but how could she have been? She barely knew him or his pain.
She followed him. He alone was a good enough reason to leave E-Space.
She put aside her own thoughts and feelings and without further thought, followed him into the TARDIS.
"Doctor "she said softly, but he didn't reply.
She came and stood next to him by the navigation control panel, resting her hand upon his shoulder
"I'm sorry. You could have just said told me, years ago. Oh Doctor, if I had known more… I wouldn't have left you." She paused for a moment to stop her own feelings from taking over.
"Please Doctor" she urged, squeezing his shoulder gently, her voice shaking "say something".
Wordlessly, he spun round, gently cupping her face and bringing his own towards her, placing a chaste kiss upon her lips.
"I've missed you" she murmured against his lips, her blood rushing around her body and making her ears thump.
"Now tell me" she whispered, wrapping her arms around his neck then moving her palms up towards his face and placing her fingers against his temples.
Then she saw. A blur, a wild, almost incomprehensible blur of images, thoughts, feelings above all, about all this racing imagery, pain. Overwhelming pain and bereavement. All these feelings deep inside his soul that he kept locked away and so much happening to him since her time in E-Space.
She knotted her brow in horror and guilt. If only she was there. If only she had been there to chase away the enemies… If only she was president, she could have stopped anyone hurting him or using him. If only she were home.
Then her brain fired back with an angry, tumultuous argument: leave, run away. Fly. Disappear. Never let them find you. Just you and him. Nothing and no-one else matters. Just the two of you always and forever.
Do right by the people of Gallifrey - it would not be exactly difficult to replace her father but then have a life without the Doctor…. Or….
Tears dripped heavily from her eyes and all she could feel was the blissful abandonment of his love.
She kissed him all over his face, wetting his skin with her tears.
He pulled away for a moment, looking deeply into her eyes, trying to check, to make something clear in his mind before pushing his lips firmly against hers, letting their over powering emotions overtake them both.
Even in the years apart there was still something between them and their love was rekindled almost without effort. The night they spent together was excruciatingly wonderful and then that amazing feeling of waking up with Romana next to him, knowing he wasn't alone any more.
She looked so beautiful laying there, his beautiful Romana - could he really send her away and give up the chance to be happy with her?
He needed her.
He couldn't be without her, he had tried so hard to live a life without her, without this kind of love, but she was here right now, lying in his arms.
His beautiful, brilliant , impossible Romanadvoratrelundar.
"What if there was another way…" Romana whispered softly as her eyes opened.
"There isn't," he paused, "but what if there was... You know the Time lords won't give up and we will always be running from them."
"So" Romana smiled at him "Let's just go anywhere, any place" she said, wrapping her arms tightly around him as he kissed her again.
The Doctor smiled to himself.
He would take her somewhere - somewhere beautiful, somewhere special somewhere romantic where it was just the two of them and to hell with the Time Lords.
He would do what he was good at, running away.
Together, forever, like it's meant to be.