"The Favor"

STANDARD DISCLAIMER: Doctor Who belongs to the BBC. I'm not making any money from this.

New York City, 500 years ago (by Romana's reckoning):

Romana sat at the bar, sipping her drink and watching with a sort of horrified fascination as the Doctor held court at a nearby booth.

The Time Lady had gone away from their table to use the ladies' room and had returned to find that it had been invaded by three pretty young girls; a blonde, a brunette, and a redhead. "Look, Romana – one of each!" he'd said brightly as she'd stood there staring down at him in disbelief.

The girls had looked up at the petite, pixie-ish blonde with simpering little smiles and hard little eyes, and she'd immediately known that her presence at the table wasn't wanted. So she'd retreated to the bar, ordered another vodka and cranberry juice, and watched as the redhead had unwound the Doctor's burgundy-striped scarf from around his neck and looped it around herself and the brunette, giggling inanely while the blonde girl watched from the Doctor's side. The blonde said something to him, probably about his hair, for he bent his head to one side so she could run her hands through his thick brown curls.

Romana sipped her drink and shook her head slowly in disgust. Here he was, a Time Lord of Gallifrey, allowing himself to be groped and pawed in a bar by a drunken child. She couldn't imagine what had gotten into him. She knew he couldn't be drunk; the same empty glass that had been in front of him when she'd departed for the ladies' room still sat there on the table, so he'd only had the one drink. Behind her, something fell to the floor with a loud clatter, and she automatically turned, swiveling on her barstool.

"Excuse me," the man said as he bent to retrieve his fallen keys, accidentally brushing against her leg as he rose. He gave her an apologetic smile. "I'm not usually such a klutz."

He was young and handsome in a way that Romana thought of as soap opera-ish, with brown wavy hair, perfect, even teeth, and dark, penetrating eyes. She found herself returning his smile.

"It's quite all right," she replied. "I've had my moments. Why, there was one time – "

She stopped herself before she blurted out an account of dropping and breaking the sonic screwdriver at a crucial moment; the Doctor hadn't let her hear the end of that for days. She knew that she couldn't natter on about sonic screwdrivers and irate Time Lords in this trendy Manhattan bar. It was only 1985, and the people in this time and place didn't yet know, didn't want to know about extraterrestrial life, Gallifrey, or time travel.

So she sighed and sipped her drink.

"Let me guess," her new friend said, sliding onto the barstool next to hers. "You're a lawyer… no, wait…" He held up his hand and peered closely at her. "A doctor?"

She laughed. "I haven't finished my doctorate yet," she told him. She waited to see if he would ask what her field of study was, but thankfully he didn't.

"I'm a stockbroker with Salomon Brothers," he said.

Her eyes widened and she opened her mouth to warn him, but he kept talking, seemingly oblivious.

"I made three six-figure deals this morning," he boasted.

She realized that he would be oblivious to anything she might say; he clearly wasn't interested in conversation, at least not conversation that wasn't about him. She listened to him go on and on about his important deals and how much money he was making until he finally got around to the point: "So how about it? Wanna go back to my place?" he asked, reaching out to stroke her arm and leering at her expectantly.

"Salomon Brothers, hmm? Enjoy it while it lasts," she said shortly, pulling her arm away and sliding off her barstool.

She walked over to the booth where the Doctor was still engaged with the girls, captivating them with the tales of his adventures.

The two girls across from him still had his scarf, and the blonde next to him was now wearing his hat and clinging to his arm a bit drunkenly. Romana suddenly realized that the girls were all so intoxicated that they accepted his stories of giant spiders and regeneration and Daleks and a vacation spot called The Leisure Hive without so much as batting an eye.

She cleared her throat loudly.

He stopped in mid-sentence and looked up at her. "What is it, Romana?" he asked curiously, frowning slightly. "You didn't have to go sit at the bar, you know. There's plenty of room here."

"I've had enough 'fun' for one night, Doctor," she told him coolly. "I'm going back to the TARDIS."

He blinked. "Oh, is it time to go already?" he asked, sounding like a child who's just been told to put away his toys and get ready for bed.

"Who's this, your girlfriend?" the brunette asked with a sneer.

"Oh no no!" the Doctor replied. "She just travels with me."

He stood and pulled his hat off the blonde girl's head. "Come on, then," he said to the other girls. "Let's have the scarf." Pouting, they unwound it and handed it over. "Now, remember what I told you," he said as he turned to go. "The future's in computers! Invest wisely!"

"Doctor, you know you're not supposed to give them information like that!" Romana scolded a bit more angrily than she'd intended.

He frowned at her. "Romana, has something upset you?" he asked with great concern.

"No," she said shortly, sounding angrier than ever. "Let's go back to the TARDIS."

They walked in silence for a few blocks.

"Was it that man I saw you talking to at the bar?" he suddenly asked. "Did he say something to upset you?"

"No! Yes!" She stopped walking and shook her head. "I don't know!" she finally admitted. "It's just… well, that entire place upset me, if you want an honest answer."

He stopped walking and turned to stare at her. "Why? It was just a bit of fun, you know." He went back to where she stood and threw a friendly arm around her shoulders, not seeming to notice when her body stiffened at his touch. "We're always getting into those dreadfully serious life-and-death situations, and I thought you'd enjoy a frivolous break from it all!"

"Yes, thank you so much, Doctor," she said sarcastically, ducking out from under his arm. "I did so enjoy being propositioned by an arrogant windbag while watching you get fondled by three drunken nitwits!"

"My goodness, you really are angry!" the Doctor exclaimed, his huge eyes widening comically.

"I'm not angry!" she nearly screamed, and even to her own ears she sounded slightly hysterical.

"Well, you're certainly – "

"I simply don't understand, Doctor! I don't understand why you'd let those women paw at you that way, why you'd flirt with them and tell them stories, why…" She threw her hands up in the air. "I know… everyone knows that you've had a… relationship… a wife – " she had to revert to English for the word, as Gallifreyan didn't have words for either male or female spouses "– and I don't understand why!"

"Ohhh," he said slowly, nodding with understanding. "So we're going to have that conversation, are we?"

He cleared his throat, took his hat out of his pocket and jammed it onto his head, stuffed his hands into his pockets, and cleared his throat again. "So, what is it you want to know?" he finally asked in a low voice, not looking at her.

She blushed deeply. "Not here, Doctor! Not out on the sidewalk!"

He glanced around. "Hmm, yes, quite right," he continued in the same low voice.

They walked the rest of the way in uncomfortable silence.

When they arrived back at the TARDIS, Romana postponed their conversation until the next day, pleading exhaustion and a slight headache brought on by the alcohol that she was not accustomed to drinking. In reality, she had sensed his reluctance and had tactfully decided to allow the subject to drop.

Though there were many times that Romana would have liked to have brought the subject up again, they never did have "that conversation".

New York City, present day:

The Doctor had been intrigued when Romana had contacted him, telling him that she had a favor to ask and inviting him to meet her for lunch in a Manhattan bistro.

She had appeared dressed in a conservative beige suit and white silk blouse, fitting in perfectly with the rest of the bistro's patrons; he suddenly found himself feeling out of place in his customary green velvet coat and brocade waistcoat. They had ordered lunch and eaten it while exchanging gossip and small talk about mutual friends and acquaintances.

Now he was watching Romana use her fork to push a lump of potato salad around on her plate, staring at it as though it held the secrets of the Universe.

"You mentioned you had a favor to ask me," the Doctor finally said, taking a bite of his sandwich.

She looked up at him, and her cheeks flushed. "There's a new problem at the Academy," she said slowly. "I'm wondering if I should intervene in my capacity as President and try to put a stop to it."


"The students…" She went back to her fork and her lump of potato salad. "They're absolutely out of control." She looked up at him again, blushed again. "If you know what I mean."

He sensed that she was having a difficult time getting around to the reason for this interview, and nodded in what he hoped was an encouraging manner. "Go on."

"They're…" she glanced around as though fearing someone might be listening, or might overhear. She leaned forward and lowered her voice to a whisper. "They're having sex."

He was so astonished that he nearly choked on his sandwich.

"They're what?" he asked, his eyes huge.

"Shhhh!" she hissed, glancing around again. "They're having sex, Doctor. Purely recreational sex. And do you know why?"

He didn't even want to hazard a guess, and so he merely shook his head.

"They say – " and here she glanced around again and lowered her voice even further. " – that it feels good!"

The Doctor couldn't help it; he burst out laughing.

"Those crazy kids," he said with a grin. "What will they think of next?"

"Doctor, this is serious!" she admonished. "They've decided that far from being a pointless, nonproductive waste of time, it's a fun way to relieve tension before exams, after exams –"

"During exams," the Doctor added irreverently.

"No, thankfully they seem to have drawn the line there!" She sighed. "The point, Doctor, is that there is an epidemic of… of… of… of sex at the Prydonian Academy!"

"A sex epidemic?" the Doctor asked, laughing even harder this time.

She sighed again, heavily. "I should have known this would be a mistake. You simply cannot take anything seriously!"

"All right, I'm sorry," he apologized. "But I can't see what the problem is, Romana. I really can't. It's not as if the Academy will have hundreds of unplanned pregnancies to deal with. Let the kids have their fun."

"And it is fun, is it?" she asked curiously, blushing again. "Sex, I mean."

"Oh, it's marvelous fun," he told her sincerely, taking a sip of water.

She nodded slowly, thinking. Then she looked him in the eye.

"Show me."

He choked on his water. "What?" he sputtered.

"Well, I can't really justify either allowing it to continue or trying to put a stop to it – "

"Good luck there, now that they've discovered it!"

"– if I don't know anything about it myself, can I?" she finished.

"Ah… well…"

"And we've known each other for quite some time. I can't imagine who else I'd even consider doing this with. In fact, that's the favor I came here to ask you."


"Although," she said thoughtfully, "I suppose I could simply find a human here in Manhattan. I understand there are a lot of bars and other establishments dedicated to that very purpose."

"You wouldn't!" he exclaimed, horrified.

She gazed at him steadily. "I've made up my mind that I'm going to do this," she said in the determined voice that he remembered so well from their travels together. "If you don't want to… help… then I'll have to turn elsewhere."

The Doctor groaned, the mental picture of Romana picking up some faceless stranger in a seedy bar suddenly making him feel queasy. Seeming to read his mind, she pressed the point. "I'm sure I'll be able to find someone if I go to enough of those sort of places. It's not as though the people who frequent them are particularly choosy - "

"All right, all right!" he said, holding up his hands in defeat.

She smiled with relief, and he suddenly knew that she'd had absolutely no intention of picking up a questionable character in a singles' bar somewhere. Tricked again by a woman, he thought ruefully. Will I never learn?

"But we have to discuss this first," he told her firmly.

"Yes, Doctor," she agreed mildly. "Whatever you say."

He handed the waiter the bill and some money. "Come on," he said with a sigh. "I believe the appropriate phrase is 'your place or mine?'"

She chose his "place".

"I see you've done some remodeling," she observed, gazing around at the new console room with its vaulted ceiling and its deceptively antique-looking control console. "I like it."


They stood there staring at each other for a moment.

"Right," he finally said into the awkward silence, motioning her over to a comfortable-looking pair of armchairs on one side of the console room. "You and I have to talk."

"What's there to talk about?" she asked curiously as she sat down next to him. "I know what the act involves – well, the technical aspects – and pregnancy isn't a concern. So what do we need to discuss?"

"I don't want to ruin our friendship," he began slowly, and saw her frown in puzzlement. He sighed. "This… it… can change things between people, whether they intend it to or not," he continued.

"Oh, Doctor," she said with a smile, reaching out to take his hand. "Are you afraid I won't like you anymore afterwards?"

"Not… exactly." He sighed again. "I don't want to hurt you," he told her earnestly.

"Oh!" she exclaimed, suddenly understanding. He smiled with relief. "Don't worry, Doctor," she assured him. "I understand that the first time for the female can often be a bit painful – "

"Um… that's not what I meant," he told her, a slow blush creeping up his cheeks. "I mean, obviously I don't relish the idea of causing you that kind of pain either, but I'm talking about – "

"Emotional pain," she finished soberly. He nodded. She gave him an understanding smile. "Oh, Doctor. You should know that I'm not going to form an emotional attachment to you… at least not beyond our friendship. I'm Gallifreyan, after all. We don't fall in love."

He nodded.

And then she made a leap of logic, but didn't have the sense to keep her mouth shut about it. "And don't worry, I promise I'll do my best not to hurt you."

He grew very still, and Romana had the odd feeling that she'd said the wrong thing.

"I'm glad to hear it," he said in a neutral voice, pulling his hand out of hers. She wasn't sure what she'd said to cause this change in him, but she gamely tried to salvage the situation.

"It's just that I know you're not really like most Time Lords in this body. You're a bit… well… sensitive," she told him, inadvertently digging herself in even deeper.

"You're right, I'm really not like most Time Lords," he agreed in a remote voice. "Must be my human genes showing through again."

Without another word, he stood and walked out of the console room.

Romana groaned and put her head in her hands.

"That was a good job of not hurting him, Romana," she said out loud into the empty console room. "You always know exactly the right thing to say!"

She found him sitting on the stone steps in the Cloisters.

He looked up when he heard her come in, but otherwise didn't react when she went to sit next to him.

"I'm sorry I insulted you," she said after awhile. "I didn't mean it that way."

He nodded.

She took a breath and went on. "Everything isn't a slight, you know," she told him. "I know how they treated your mother, and how they treated you when you were a child… until you went to the Academy and showed them all up! That sure stopped them laughing!"

He smiled faintly.

"I'm not one of your old classmates, mocking you with your background. I'm your friend and I'm concerned about your welfare. If you think we shouldn't… do it... I certainly won't demand it of you."

He looked at her. "But you said you'd go find some stranger – "

"No I won't," she said, shaking her head. "You know me, Doctor. Can you really imagine me doing something like that? Me? I'm actually surprised you didn't call my bluff!"

"Yes, I do know you, Romana. I know how stubborn and determined you are," he said quietly. "Once you've decided to do something, you do it."

"You're right. I did make the decision to do this… but I decided from the start that it would only be with you."

"Oh, Romana," he said with a sigh, reaching out to tuck an errant strand of blonde hair behind her ear. "I'm flattered."

"You should be!" she told him, and he laughed. "Well, it's not everyone who gets propositioned by the Lady President of the High Council, is it?"

"I suppose not," he said, sighing.

He took her hand and stood, pulling her to her feet with an affectionate smile. "Come on then, if you're still up for it."

She stepped up to stand on the bottom step, putting them more on a level. Looking into his eyes, she slowly put her arms around his neck as she must have seen human women do with their boyfriends or husbands. After a moment, he put his arms around her waist and very gently drew her against him. She smiled a bit uncertainly, and then leaned up to kiss him, a quick peck on the lips.

"Hmm," he said musingly, and moved his right hand up to cup the back of her head, twining his fingers in her soft blonde hair and pulling her toward him. He kept his eyes open to watch her reaction as he demonstrated what a real kiss was like. Her blue eyes went very wide for a moment, and then fluttered shut as she gave herself to the moment. He moved his hand from the back of her head to her face, laying it gently on her cheek. It was pleasantly warm, not blazing with the heat of a human as he'd subconsciously half-expected; he realized that he wasn't accustomed to being this close to one of his own species.

Suddenly, she pulled away from him.

"Tegan," she whispered breathlessly.

His eyebrows went up. "No… I'm the Doctor," he reminded her seriously.

She laughed shakily. "Tegan will be upset if we do this," she said, as though reminding herself.

The Doctor shook his head sadly. "She's already told me in no uncertain terms that she never wants to see my face – any of my faces – ever again."

Romana blinked. "Why?"

"I'd prefer not to discuss it at the moment, if it's all the same to you," he said wryly. "It would rather spoil the mood."

"Oh. Yes. Right," she agreed readily. She went back to kissing him for a few moments, and then pulled away and stuck her hand in his pocket, pulling out his sonic screwdriver.

"What are you doing?" he asked, curious.

"You've got to find somewhere else to put this, Doctor. It's poking me," she said, her eyes wide and completely innocent.

"Oh dear," he said with a sigh. She couldn't understand why he was blushing. "Oh my," he said, and suddenly started to laugh. "Is that a sonic screwdriver in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me!"

"I don't have a screwdriver," she said, now completely baffled. Her words - said in complete innocence of how they sounded to him at that moment - made him laugh even harder. Her eyebrows came together in puzzlement. "You're certainly acting very strange, Doctor."

"Never mind," he said when he finally caught his breath. "I'm a strange sort of Time Lord, as you've noted already."

She didn't know what to say to that, so she simply nodded.

Still holding the sonic screwdriver in one hand, she moved close to him again, and it suddenly dawned on her what she must have felt poking her. Her face went an alarming shade of red and she jumped back as if scalded, dropping the screwdriver in surprise. It clattered to the ground behind him.

"Oh, I'm so sorry," she apologized, hurriedly stepping down and bending to pick it up. "I don't think it's damaged."

The Doctor took a deep breath. "Romana," he said quietly. She looked up at him. "Forget about the screwdriver."

He took her to his own rooms, to his bedroom. He didn't know where else to take her; Tegan and Nyssa had deleted her rooms all those years ago in a desperate attempt to escape Event One.

His bedroom was like the rest of the new décor; part modern, part antique, with walls that looked as though they were made of wood, their semitransparent roundels lit softly from within. The bed was huge, with an antique-looking wrought iron headboard and footboard. Romana stood in the center of the room, staring wide-eyed at the bed, looking for all the world like a deer transfixed by the headlights of an oncoming vehicle.

"Romana," he said quietly, coming up behind her and laying a gentle hand on her shoulder. She flinched in surprise. "We don't have to go through with this, you know."

She turned to face him. "But you're – " she began.

"I'll live," he told her with an ironic smile. "Really, it's all right," he assured her.

She squared her shoulders, and the Doctor saw that old gleam of determination in her eye as she walked to the bed, sitting down very deliberately and staring up him expectantly.

He shook his head. "Romana, this isn't something to be endured, or gotten through. It's something that two people do because they want to demonstrate how much they care for one another." He had been very careful not to use the word "love".

"Well then, you'd better come over here, Doctor. I want to show you exactly how much I care for you, and I can't think of a better way to do it." She pulled off her beige suit jacket and began to unbutton her white silk blouse, revealing a very sexy white lace bra underneath.

The Doctor stared; he had never given much thought to what sort of underwear Romana might have worn, but never in his wildest dreams would he have expected that. He recalled that she had planned this encounter from the very start and suddenly wondered if she had worn it expressly for this purpose. She put her silk blouse with her jacket at the end of the bed, and then pushed off her beige pumps. She swung her legs up and lay down on her back, closing her eyes.

He sighed. "Romana – " he began.

"I'm waiting, Doctor," she said quietly, her eyes still closed. She heard him pull off his velvet jacket and toss it on a chair, and smiled. He loosened his cravat and pulled that off as well, and walked to the bed, unbuttoning his waistcoat. He dropped it on top of Romana's discarded clothes and lay down on the bed next to her.

She opened her eyes to see him propped up on one elbow, staring down at her.

"You're beautiful," he said, his voice full of wonder as though he'd suddenly discovered an amazing truth.

She laughed. "Why, thank you, Doctor," she told him, still smiling. "And that body is quite attractive as well… in fact, I think it's the most attractive one I've seen on you yet."

"Hmm. I'm not sure whether or not I should be flattered." He tweaked her nose, and she laughed again.

With a look of intense concentration, he placed a fingertip on the end of her nose and traced his way down over her lips, her chin, her neck, all the way to the place where her bra met between her breasts. He laid his hand flat there, and she shivered, a delicious shiver. No one had ever touched her like this before, and she was beginning to understand why so many of the students at the Academy had taken up recreational sex with such enthusiasm.

"Your hearts are absolutely galloping," he told her quietly, and she laughed softly.

"Your turn," she told him, and reached over to unbutton his shirt.

He kept his eyes on hers as she unbuttoned each button very carefully, frowning slightly at one that didn't want to come unbuttoned right away. She finally got it, and he shifted slightly so she could pull his shirt off and throw it in the general direction of the rest of the clothing piled at the bottom of the bed. She took his hand and placed it back where it had been on her chest, lying flat between her breasts.

His eyebrows went up. "You like that?" he asked.

She nodded, smiling.

"Well, that's promising," he told her, returning her smile.

He'd had a bad moment while kissing her in the Cloisters when he'd wondered if Gallifreyan women's important parts were wired up the same way as those of human women; he'd only had experience with the latter and had no real clue what might or might not please a woman of his own species.

Cautiously, deliberately, he moved his hand to cup one of her breasts, and she made a small sound of pleasure. He regarded her carefully, almost clinically. Her cheeks and upper chest were flushed, and her pupils were dilated, her eyes luminous and sparkling. "Very promising," he said, smiling again.

"Oh yes it is," she whispered.

It was a quick, sharp pain that made her gasp in surprise. It was a previously unimagined pleasure that made her cry out in a voice that she scarcely recognized as her own.

She held him close to her and said his name into his ear, his real name with all of its complicated syllables that rolled off of her tongue with ease. When it was over, she lay on her back looking at the ceiling and trying to decide if she felt any different.

After a moment, she felt a sticky wetness and wondered vaguely if she were bleeding. She excused herself to the bathroom, where she put a cautious finger down there. It came away wet with a milky pink stickiness; a small amount of blood mixed with something else. Her legs suddenly felt all wobbly, and she sat down hard on the toilet. I've really done it, she thought to herself.

"Romana?" she heard him call, his voice tinged with worry. "Are you all right?"

"I'm fine, Doc –" she began, and changed her mind. It felt odd to call him "Doctor" after what had just transpired between them. "I'm fine – " and here she said his name again.

She washed up quickly, and then opened the door and padded back into the bedroom. He was lying there watching her, and she suddenly felt self-conscious in her nudity. She quickly slipped under the covers next to him, and he turned on his side to look at her.

"Romanadvoratrelundar," he said quietly, and she realized that her use of his name hadn't been lost on him.

She smiled and reached over to stroke his cheek. "I think I'm going to add a few syllables when I get back to Gallifrey," she said with a smile "I suddenly feel as though I've grown up a bit."

He gave her a gentle smile. "Let's see if we can't mature you a bit more," he said, pulling her against him.

This time, there wasn't any pain. There was only that same previously unimagined pleasure.

"I don't understand, Madame President," the dean of the Prydonian college sputtered. "You're going to allow the students to continue…" He waved his hand, unwilling to come out and say what the students were actually doing.

"Yes, there's no real harm in it," Romana replied. "And," she continued, giving him a brilliant smile, "I understand that it's marvelous fun!"