Romana was sitting with K-9 when she heard a distinctly familiar sound, which she had not been expecting. She stood as an image of a blue police box slowly formed in front of her. She crossed her arms and tapped her foot; the brief seconds it took for the door to open felt like centuries. When the door finally did open, she was surprised to see a fit looking man with longish, curly hair, much more handsome- if you liked that sort of thing, that is. Of course, it could be no one but the Doctor, but this new regeneration was nothing like the one she remembered, which frightened her a little. Who was this man? Was he still smart, and childish, and fun? She knew she wouldn't be able to stand it if he didn't retain at least a piece of that man she had grown to admire, her friend, maybe even her best friend.
"Romana?" he smiled, hesitantly. He seemed a little unsure of himself. But then Romana realized that she too had regenerated. Now, she was tall with wavy, raven hair and large, green-gray eyes. She recalled the time after they defeated the Black Guardian and assembled the Key to Time. He hadn't recognized her then, either. Well, she had copied someone else's body, but the outer appearance shouldn't matter to another Time Lord to be able to recognize them. If they couldn't, well, then there would be a lot of confusion throughout the streets of Gallifrey.
"Doctor!" said Romana, unwilling to reveal her happiness at seeing him again. "What are you doing here?"
He sighed, averting his eyes down to his shoes. "I've come to take you back to Gallifrey."
"What?" Romana asked, in shock. "Why?"
"K-9!" he said, excitedly, noticing his former pet. He patted his lap, beckoning the robotic dog over to him.
"Greetings, Master," said K-9. If Romana hadn't have known any better, she could have sworn K-9 seemed much more upbeat than usual.
"Who's a good dog?" said the Doctor, petting K-9's head.
"Doctor!" said Romana, forcefully. That got his attention. "Why are you bringing me back?"
"They've asked me to," he explained, taking a few steps towards her. "They said that you've had your fun, but it's time to go home."
"And you agreed to this?" she asked.
"I had to," said the Doctor. "They were quite angry with me for not taking you back the first time. And now that your father is a chancellor, he insisted that you be returned."
"My father is a chancellor?" she asked.
"Uh-huh," nodded the Doctor.
"But I'm a renegade now," said Romana, grabbing at excuses. "I've gotten involved in the history of another civilization."
"Join the club," he smiled. Romana couldn't help but chuckle. "And, anyway," he continued. "If they ever give you trouble, just use Article 17 of the Constitution. Worked for me."
"But that only applies to Time Lords running for office?" Romana asked. He winked at her suggestively.
"Well," he said. "Pack up your things and let's be off."
"But I can't just leave!" Romana protested. "What about the Tharils?"
"Surely you've helped them stand on their own two feet by now," said the Doctor.
"Well," said Romana, sharply. "They should at least know I'm going. I should say goodbye. Surely, you'll allow me that much."
"Surely," said the Doctor, curtly.
Romana turned away and stormed off in a huff. Whatever joy she might have expected from this surprise reunion had no chance of occurring any time soon, not with the Doctor being so inconsiderate of her feelings. He was always so pig-headed! Romana had grown comfortable in E-Space, had made a life all her own, not decided upon by family, or professors... or certain dictatorial renegades. But he said he was forced into retrieving her. So what? He could have fought. Before even meeting him, she had read all of his files, of all the times he stood up to the Time Lords against negligence and injustice. She saw with her own eyes how he continued to fight for those same principles across the galaxies. So why did he always refuse to fight for her? Didn't she mean anything to him?
A few hours later, after Romana had said farewell to the Tharils, making sure they were left in capable hands, and had packed away all of her possessions, she knocked on the TARDIS door.
The Doctor opened the door, leaning against the control console. Romana looked around. "You've redecorated."
"Do you like it?" he asked.
"It's... different," she answered.
The Doctor looked away and turned to the controls. Why wouldn't he look at her? Had she hurt his feelings? He had always been sensitive to criticism; at least that much hadn't changed.
"K-9," she said. "Can you bring my bags to my room?"
"Affirmative, Mistress," he responded. She placed the bag on his back for him to carry away.
"Wait," said the Doctor, looking up again. "Your room isn't there anymore."
"What do you mean it isn't there anymore?"
"I had to eject it a while back," he explained.
"You ejected my room!" Romana gasped.
"You weren't using it," retorted the Doctor.
"Still," she grumbled.
"K-9," he said. "Just bring her things down the corridor, third door on the left."
Now the two Time Lords were finally alone.
"So..." started Romana, trailing off.
"So," mimicked the Doctor.
"What have you been up to all these centuries?" she asked.
"Oh," he said. "This and that. Traveling, picking up new companions, saving planets... You?"
"Helping the Tharils lift themselves to their former glory: retrieving ancient traditions, instating new laws and procedures, teaching them to act justly towards others and to always remember their own degradation."
The Doctor nodded his approval.
"Doctor, I have to ask," she said. "Whatever happened with the Black Guardian?"
"Oh, him?" he chuckled, non-nonchalantly. Romana recalled the Black Guardian's threat, and the Doctor's decision to install the Randomizer, for fear of the Black Guardian ever finding them. And now the Doctor was laughing? "I ran into him once later. I defeated him again and gained Enlightenment."
"Really?" she asked. "You're very lucky, Doctor. He wanted to destroy every fiber of your being."
"Lucky?" protested the Doctor. "Luck had nothing to do with it. It was skill, pure skill."
"Yes," said Romana. "You're right. I'm sure it was. I apologize."
"Don't patronize me!" he said.
"I'm not," she said, her anger beginning to flare.
"Romana, Romana, Romana, Romana..." he said, pacing back and forth. "Why are you always doing this?"
"Doing what?" she asked.
"Making me feel like I'm worthless," he said. "Always demeaning me, scolding me, acting like you're only indulging me."
"I never meant..." she started. "Doctor, I'm sorry." But suddenly her tone changed. "Wait. Why am I apologizing when you're the one who has come gallivanting here, uprooting me from my life?"
"And furthermore," she continued. "I haven't seen you in centuries. What gives you the right to make my decisions? You have been totally inconsiderate of what I want, of what I need. I thought we were friends, but you don't even care!"
"Don't care!" he shouted. "Don't care?" He immediately ran to his room, leaving his door ajar in his rush. He returned mere moments later, holding a small box firmly in his hands. He placed it onto the control console and opened it. "Don't care..." he grumbled under his breath. He pulled out a crumpled piece of paper. "Does this look like I don't care?" he said, shoving the paper into Romana's hand.
She gave him a nasty look as she smoothed out the paper, and then looked down. "Oh..." she managed, when she saw it. There was a picture of a woman with a broken clock for a face. The portrait of a Time Lady; herself, in fact. "I didn't know you kept this," she said.
"Well, I did."
She looked into his eyes and immediately felt ashamed of herself. That is, until she got a glimpse of what else was in the box. "Yes," she said. "But look where you kept it!" She grabbed the box and started rummaging through it, pulling something out. "Is this a shoe?"
"Yes," he said, a look of panic forming on his face.
"And there's a hole in it, too." She dug in deeper. "And shards of... something. Gold?"
He looked away from her, and said softly, "That was part of Adric's gold star."
"Oh," she said. "And I hate to ask whatever happened to Adric. I left that boy in your hands, as your responsibility. He probably grew up to be a raving lunatic."
What she said had obviously affected the Doctor. His cheeks flushed to a ghostly white, and his eyes grew into a look of horror. Then, very calmly, he turned from her and walked back into his room and shut the door.
Romana just stood there and watched. She had begun to think that as the older the Doctor got, the more childish he became. After a few moments, she moved over to his door and knocked on it. "Doctor?" No answer. "Doctor, why are you acting so upset?" Still no answer. She breathed hesitantly before turning the handle. She peeked her head inside and saw the Doctor sitting at the foot of his bed with his hands covering his face and with his back to her. She stepped fully inside and over to him, touching him gently on the shoulder.
He jumped, moving his hands to his sides. She looked into his eyes and noticed they were now puffy and red. "Doctor," she said, softly this time. "What happened?"
He hesitated before answering, "Adric died. There were these Cybermen... He was just a boy."
"Adric..." whispered Romana. Poor, poor Adric.
"I was forced to watch through the scanners as the ship exploded, while I was safely aboard the TARDIS. I couldn't save him. I couldn't breath. It was like losing my own children all over again."
Romana sat down beside him and held his hand. She had forgotten that he was once married, that he had a family. He had never spoken to her about anything concerning his life before her. Oh, he'd name drop, and mention a few adventures he'd had, but nothing important.
"I'm so sorry, Doctor," she said, rubbing circles on his back to sooth him. They sat there silently for a few moments. She moved her hand away from his back and up to his hair, brushing the locks away from his eyes. It was his eyes, really, that gave away his age. He looked a lot older than usual now, years of pain and regret demanding their toll. She looked into them, and suddenly she stopped her hands. She felt herself leaning in, and now her lips were pressed against the Doctor's. She tightened her grip in his hair. One of his hands lay on her waist, and the other had moved to the back of her neck, pulling her in closer.
Romana awoke in the middle of the night, her head leaning against the Doctor's chest. She listened to the steady rhythm of his twin hearts. Their beating lulled her back into a deep sleep and the next time she awoke was to the Doctor stroking her raven hair. She lifted her head and smiled at him. "Good morning."
"Good morning," he said, smiling back. She leaned in to kiss him. "Did you sleep well?"
"Yes," she said. "Very."
"And you?" she asked.
"Quite well," he answered. "Quite well."
"Okay," said Romana, suddenly sitting up. "Where should we go today? How about a picnic on the Eye of Orion? Or a carnival on Trindor? I remember that there was a lovely garden park on Woostan..."
"Romana..." said the Doctor.
"Yes?" she asked.
"I have to take you back to Gallifrey."
"What?" she said, incredulously. "After last night, after everything that's happened, you're just going to send me away?"
"I'm not sending you away," he said. "You need to go back."
"I don't need anything," she said, angrily. "Or anybody. Especially not you!" She grabbed the sheets closer to her body and stood up, running out of the room. All the Doctor could do was watch and silently curse himself for letting his emotions get the better of him.
Romana ran to her room, her eyes burning with tears. She found her way to her originally designated room, and fell on to the bed.
"Mistress?" said K-9.
"Oh, K-9!" she sobbed.
"May I be of any service, Mistress?" he asked.
"Yes," she said. "You can tell the Doctor to never speak to me again."
"If I may suggest reconsidering your proposal," he said. "The chances of an emergency in which the Doctor will need to speak to you for your own safety are currently of a 53.284 percentage rating, and if-"
"Oh, never mind," she said. "If you could just leave me alone for now."
"Affirmative, Mistress," said K-9, rolling out of the bedroom and leaving Romana alone with her thoughts.
The Doctor took his time before entering the main console chamber. He thought about finding Romana and speaking to her, but ultimately decided that it would be better for her to have time to cool off.
He circled the hexagonal control panel, slowly stroking it. He and the TARDIS had been through a lot together, to say the least. She was his most faithful companion. Only she had understood him, for she had witnessed it all: his grief, his joy, his anger, his fear. The Doctor had lost so many things, so many people that he cared about, but he could always trust the TARDIS to stay loyal, to never forget him, to never leave him.
But Romana! She didn't want to leave him, either. She wanted to stay, and it was he himself who was pushing her away. It was for her own good, though. She just couldn't see it yet. Over the time that Romana had traveled with him, he had watched her grow from a naïve youth to a capable young woman. He recognized her potential; she could do such great things. But she can't run from her responsibilities! The Doctor ran. He ran from many things, but never from his true obligations to the universe at large. No, he would never run from those. No matter what the cost...
He set the coordinates for the familiar destination. He watched the engine slowly pump as the TARDIS materialized with a soft thud. He flipped open the scanners and saw that he had landed in one of the emerald colored corridors of the Citadel. He was home.
The Doctor knocked on Romana's door. "Romana," he said. "We're here."
Romana opened the door and brushed past the Doctor without a word.
"Wait, Romana," he called after her, grabbing on to her arm.
"Goodbye, Doctor," she said, sternly, trying to pull herself free from his grasp. But he was stronger.
"Romana," he said. "You'll be happy on Gallifrey."
"As happy as you would be..." she murmured.
"Please," he said. "Just trust me."
That's when she met his gaze. "I'll never trust you again!" The Doctor loosened his grip enough for her to retreat from his touch. "Come along, K-9."
The Doctor couldn't let things end like this. Not with her. He searched quickly and found only one last resort, one that he was afraid to try. Deep down, he knew that no matter the outcome, it would not end well. But he had to tell her; she had to know.
"I love you," he said.
Romana slapped him hard across the face and ran out through the TARDIS doors. The Doctor, his cheek burning, just stood there and watched as she left him. Just like he knew she would.
The Doctor turned back to the control console and dematerialized. There was nothing for him on this planet anymore. Except for the whirring of the engine, the ship was quiet. It was just the Doctor again.
The Doctor and his TARDIS, forever.