Chapter 2 – Vicki, Steven, and a Panda named Hi-Fi

"Who were Steven and Vicki?" Rose asked, though her eyes were growing heavy. The warmth of the apartment and the tea in her belly were beginning to draw her insomnia from her thoughts, but she wasn't about to let the Doctor leave so soon from her questions. The Doctor had noticed this.

"Well, Vicki was a young girl, not much older then Susan I suppose. Myself, Ian and Barbara met her shortly after Susan left us. Her family was part of an exploration team and she was one of the last survivors. In the end, she was family; I did miss Susan so."

The Doctor's voice had trailed off, and his eyes had grown distant. After a moment he blinked and shook himself from the haze. "Sorry, where was I?"

Rose swallowed. "Uh, Steven," she suggested. "How'd you meet him then?"

The Doctor smiled thoughtfully. "The Daleks, again. It's odd; many of my early companions were thrust upon me by those tin pepper pots. I suppose I should thank them for that sometime. Anyhow, Steven Taylor - brave man, an astronaut actually, though he did have a habit of conferring to advice from a stuffed panda bear."

Rose giggled.

"I'm serious. A little panda bear named Hi-Fi. It was his mascot."

"I believe you. It just sounds so funny." She laughed quietly. The Doctor smirked. Perhaps it was a bit funny. He shook his head.

"Like Vicki he crashed, and I actually met him just before Ian and Barbara left. After they did, he joined Vicki and me – snuck aboard, actually. And he remained even after Vicki left; I guess he thought an old tottering Time Lord needed a bit of protection."

"What happened to Vicki?"

The Doctor smiled wryly. "Fell in love in the middle of the Trojan war. I bet we could look her up in the history books. The Lady Cressida, she named herself."

He stilled as the memories washed over him. "I remember she sent her handmaiden, Katarina, to help me with Steven. He'd been poisoned…" And his voice trailed away again. His eyes had gone dark and flat. Rose sensed the same looming unease that came with memories of the Time War, and frowned worriedly.

"But Steven didn't die, right? Though he was poisoned?"

"No…" the Time Lord murmered, lost in thought. "No, he left some time later. Made himself a mediator and leader between two tribes on a planet."

Something in his eyes was far too uncomfortable for her tastes. Quietly she scooted closer, and wrapped her arms around his chest, nuzzling into the pinstriped suit that smelled of ash and tea and time. She felt him shift beneath her, looking down at her in surprise. But he said nothing.

Slowly her eyes slid shut, and her breathing leveled out, as the late hour and the warm tea and the double-beat of his hearts lulled her to sleep. The Doctor sighed softly, and looked around the dark flat. The shadows seemed to whisper at him for the past, and he frowned. As much as he wanted, he couldn't escape to the TARDIS, and eventually he shut his eyes, trying to block out the memories he'd stirred.