He meets people, sometimes, that are almost worth the trouble of carting them around the stars. If he does meet one of them, he offers to do it, and, if they agree, they become on of the companions.

He's had a lot of those. And he's lost almost all of them.

The most curious thing about them (it always has to be universal, because if it gets specific he remembers their name and their face and exactly what they said in goodbye) is that, not only sometimes, but usually, he manages to fall in love.

This is different from loving them, because he does love all of them, but this is the sort of love where he finds himself leaning toward them just a little bit more, wanting to make them smile just one more time for only him and the TARDIS.

He meets one of the promising ones even as he has one of the loved ones in tow. He brings him along - can he afford to generalize so much? Can he stop from reeling through every male companion he's ever had and arriving at this one? - and the three of them explore.

She, the loved one, gets closer to both of the men. He, the new companion, flirts with HIS loved companion and lounges around looking dashing constantly. He, the original who can't remember why he bothers bringing companions if all they're going to do is fall in love, meets another.

It doesn't even count as meeting this one, this her. He can allow himself to even imagine her face, because there isn't a name or a goodbye to tear himself over. Long, straight, black-as-night hair, brown eyes with eyelashes that would have made the inventor of mascara fall to his knees, a purple corset and skintight pantyhose. Rather large breasts, but some of it was the lingerie and the rest didn't have to do with the attraction.

They came out into the red light district of Tokyo in the nineteen twenties sometime, as the companion happily announced to the loved one, impressing her. They walked around, and got weird looks when they noticed them; Japanese people have a habit of not staring until they're sure you're not looking.

Except, naturally, the girls with porcelain skin with red frosting over the top from the lights. They stared quite a bit. Let's see who can get the handsome foreign men to buy from us. Maybe we can drug the girl and set her on display, like us, and make the foreigner a kind of attraction, too.

The others stopped to try for directions. He ended up next to a window, a display case with erotic desires seen through wooden bars. The nearest woman slithered forward on silken sleeves and said, in a high, nasal jibberish that the TARDIS translated, "Tell this woman, outsider, where are you from?"

He hesitated, and then said, "All three of us are from different places in the world."

She smiled, dark red making her white face light up even more in contrast. "This women is speaking to only one outsider. You do not come from a place that you can say?"

He shrugged, hands in the pockets of his leather jacket, pulling it tight around himself.

"Not to a prostitute?" she answered for herself. She had the quiet, calm tone of an intelligent person in her voice.

"Sorry, I can't say to anyone, it's sort of a rule," he cringed.

"I understand," she acknowledged, making him think that she thought that he had still insulted her. "What are you doing here, then, Outsider?"

"Um…" he began, and trailed off when he looked around and the others had trolloped off for an adventure. "S'pose I'm standing here in the cold, then."

"You do not have money enough to spend time indoors?" she offered, almost whispering. He had his head bent down, forehead resting on the wood, and she on the other side. "I've never been had by a foreigner."

He looked at her for a while, and the images came back of his companions together, laughing, loving, but only each other. His loved companion taken away by his other one. He had currency - the TARDIS, perpetually mostly psychic, had put enough yen in his pockets to get a lesser man killed. He could afford this girl, in her kimono that would take her years to buy the right to wear.

So he walked inside and flashed a fistful of paper, pointing out his puppy in the window. He was led to a room, and the paper disappeared, and there she was, not on the bed at all.

The purple silken butterflies of her kimono dutifully slid a few inches down her shoulders, and her back was kept facing him. She turned, but only her head, and smiled her dark smile again. "They teach us this, when we are taken in. The sight of skin is enough for some men to…" she let it hang in the air as he looked with interest at the white lines where her makeup ended.

And, inexorably, the facts turned over in his mind. Nineteen twenties in the red light district of Tokyo. The geisha were still high; their prosperity trickled down to the common whores, and places like this could still afford the white face paint. And a lot of it, he thought, watching her walk to the mirrored bureau to his right and remove the white on her neck and upper back.

She saw him staring - was used to it, perhaps - and said, "They do not want the sheets to be ruined."

He nodded and looked away. Another fact had arrived: For some, the act of removing the makeup, or their very face, was more private than removing clothing. He pulled his jacket down his arms and tugged his socks and pants off. He was naked by the time she was, and she stood before him, in control of herself, inside her comfort zone.

He wondered, for a moment, how she would handle being outside that zone. Say, thirty million years from now?

She said, "Outsider, before you go, will you tell me why you do not feel as though you are from the same world as all these other people?"

He grinned and laughed, "That's an easy one. We all have different worlds. Do you live in the same world as a politician?"

She stepped forward, reached down to touch him, and said, "Our worlds overlap when he comes to buy me. That does not count as an answer, outsider."

"I figured not." He lifted his hand to touch her shoulder, her stomach, and settled on her breast. Might as well.

Her hand moved deftly, and he grew hard very soon. She hesitated, waiting for him to show her what he wanted. He thought about it himself. Something oral? No. That would only complicate things. He motioned for her to lie down on the bed. She did, somehow gracefully.

He got down on top of her, and there was the standard weird moment of getting more comfortable, and then he pushed into her. As he continued, she cried out and groaned as if by a script that she had long known by heart.

He finished and sat up. Yes, that was what he remembered. Nice to know that things hadn't changed and he simply hadn't been given the memo.

She lay there - this was as close as she got to a break - and looked up at him. He touched her shoulder, and said, "I'm not from this planet, is why I feel funny."

She just nodded, and he got up and dressed. Neither said a word in farewell. Whatever that had been hadn't been a real anything.

So he left with the two idiots, and noted the name of the brothel.