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14 March 2012 @ 09:57 pm
Fic: Three's a Crowd  
Title: Three's a Crowd
Author: nostalgia_lj
Rating: PG-13
Pairing: Eleven/Romana
Summary: In which there is a dog and a monster.

Notes: Same series as these stories, but I don't think you have to have read any of those.

“Are you sure about this?” asked the Doctor.

Romana nodded. “Quite certain.”

“It's a big commitment.”

“I know.”

“They're not just for Christmas, you know.”

“Oh, shut up,” said Romana, as she pressed the big red button.

Nothing happened.

The two Time Lords looked at the robot dog sitting silently on the workbench between them.

“Did you remember to put the brain in?” asked Romana.

“Of course I remembered to put the brain in!” The Doctor pressed the red button again in case Romana had pressed it incorrectly somehow. He leaned towards one of the antenna-ears. “K-9? Can you hear us?” He thumped his hand down on the dog's metal back.

K-9's LEDs lit up and he raised his head. “Affirmative, Master. Audio circuits functional at 99% efficiency.”

Romana smiled. “He's so beautiful.”

“He has your eyes,” said the Doctor.

“Negative,” said K-9.

The Doctor patted the robot on its head. “He's so literal-minded. I love that.”

K-9 whirred to the edge of the bench. “Assistance required.”

“Oh, sorry,” said the Doctor. He picked K-9 up and deposited him on the floor. “There you go, a nice flat surface.”

“Hmm,” said Romana, “we might have to do something about all the stairs in the console room.”

“I'll put in little ramps.” He smiled as he watched the dog trundle round in little circles on the floor. “It'll be just like old times.”

“If you say so,” said Romana.

The Doctor caught himself. “Not in a bad way. Not in an ignoring reality way.”

“Just like new times, then.”


One of the noises was not like the others. One of the noises was a lot more... mechanical. The Doctor lifted the sheet from his head and looked at the floor.

“Don't you knock?” he asked, annoyed.

K-9's antennae waggled. “I am not programmed to knock.” He rolled forwards. “TARDIS systems-check complete.”

“I'll get you a biscuit later, I'm a bit busy right now.”

“You're not,” said Romana with a sigh, sitting up in bed and reaching for her dressing-gown.

“Don't let him put you off!” He glared at K-9. “Now look what you've done.”

K-9 whirred for a moment. “Mating sequence interrupted,” he said at last. “Apologies.”

“You could at least cough before entering a room.”

Romana pulled on her dressing-gown and pushed her feet into her slippers. “Don't be too hard on him, he's just a baby. Aren't you, K-9?”

“Negative, Mistress.”


“Where are my trousers?” asked the Doctor, finally accepting that the fun was over.

“I thought you were putting in ramps,” said Romana as she carried K-9 down to the console.

The Doctor flicked the dimensional stabilisers off and on sulkily. “No sex, DIY projects... when did we get married, exactly?”

“Don't whine, it doesn't suit you.” Romana set K-9 down on the glass floor and stepped over him to get to the console. “And we never did get a divorce after Ganymede, so technically we've been married for several centuries.”

“There were extenuating circumstances!”

“You got down on one knee,” she reminded him.

The Doctor sniffed. “I was tying my shoelaces.”

“No, you weren't.” She nudged him with her elbow. “And you should apologise.”

“To who? For what?”

“K-9. I think you've upset him.”

The Doctor looked at her and waited for her to laugh. When she didn't he sighed and bent down to talk to K-9. “Look,” he said, “I didn't mean to snap at you. There are just certain things that humanoids like to do without robots watching them.”

“Apology accepted,” said K-9 cheerily. “From now on hormone levels will be monitored.”

“That's... very thoughtful of you.” He was going to add that it was also slightly creepy, but was cut off as the TARDIS rocked to one side rather violently. He steadied himself on the console. “What was that?”

“No idea,” said Romana, working the controls with practised ease. “I think we may have hit something.”

“But we're not even materialised in real space!”

“Tell that to the TARDIS,” she said as the control room steadied itself. She pushed a loose strand of hair behind her ear. “If you will insist on coupling the external and internal dimensions, then the least you could do is-”

“Intrusion detected!” chirped K-9.

“What kind of intrusion?” The Doctor pulled the scanner round and examined the readings on the screen.


“K-9,” said Romana carefully, “are you absolutely certain?”

“Probability of error 0.14%.”

“That's an awfully high margin.” She turned the internal scanners up to maximum. “I'm not seeing anything.”

“K-9,” said the Doctor, “we're dematerialised. There is no outside for anything to get into.”

K-9 whirred and bleeped. “Nevertheless-”

“Nevertheless you're new at this and to err is human.” He carried on quickly. “And I know there's nothing human on the TARDIS, I was speaking in idiom.”

K-9's little tail dropped.

The Doctor nudged him with his foot. “Don't worry, everyone makes mistakes.”

Romana shifted in her sleep. The Doctor looked over and pulled the sheets up over her shoulders. He started thinking of excuses to wake her in case it was another nightmare. He put his book aside and turned onto his side to watch her.

Her breathing started to speed up. He put a hand on her cheek, pushed her hair from her eyes. Her dreams didn't tend to horror as much as his, but they'd been through a lot. He watched her eyes flutter under her eyelids. Daleks, maybe. Daleks upset most people.

He slid closer to her, put an arm round her waist, moving his hand up her back until he could feel her heartbeats. Quick, but not disturbingly so.

Then he noticed she was crying.

He didn't say anything until breakfast, because however close they were they'd silently agreed that dreams were not up for discussion.

“Are you going to eat those cornflakes or are you just going to poke them with your spoon?”

“Hmm?” Romana looked up, eyes focussing slowly.

“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.”

“I know,” she said, “I just don't feel like eating.”

He touched her hand. “Do you want to talk about it?”

Romana pulled her hand away. “There's no 'it' to talk about, I just feel a bit under the weather.” She stared at a spot over his shoulder for a moment and then shook her head. “I think I'll take a quick nap.” She stood up. “Really, don't worry about me. I'm fine.”

The Doctor sat in the library with his feet on K-9, turning the pages of his book without actually reading the words.

“I should check that she's okay,” he said aloud.

“The Mistress instructed that she was not to be disturbed,” said K-9.

“What's she doing? Is she asleep?”

He didn't get an answer.

The Doctor put down the book and leaned forwards. “My TARDIS, that means I make the rules.”

K-9 stayed silent.

“Traitor,” he said, pulling his feet from the dog and standing up. “At least tell me where she is? Is she in her own room?”


That probably wasn't good. She hadn't slept in that room for months now. The Doctor set off with K-9 following at a distance the robot probably thought of as discreet.

The Doctor reached Romana's old room and knocked on the door. “Romana? Can I come in?”

The wasn't any answer so he pushed the door open anyway. Romana was curled on the bed with her face in her hands, her shoulders shaking as she sobbed.

“Go away.”

The Doctor hesitated. “I can't.”

“Yes, you can.”

“What's wrong? Is there anything I can do?”

“No. Just... go away.”

The Doctor looked at her and then nodded. “I'll be in the library. If you need me.”

He closed the door behind him and bent to speak to K-9. “She was fine before. We talked things over, we got past it all.” He stood abruptly. “Why am I talking to a robot about emotions?”

K-9 followed him back to the library, head dipped ever-so-slightly.

The Doctor flipped through a psychology textbook half-heartedly. He wasn't feeling too great himself, truth be told.

“I thought you'd have swapped me for her.”

He turned to see where the voice had come from. “K-9, did you hear something?”

“Negative, Master.”

The Doctor shook his head. “I thought... I must have imagined it.” He turned back to the bookshelves.

“You were turning me into you.”

The Doctor froze, hearts thumping madly. “K-9, scan this room. Is there anyone else in here with us?”


“Then what am I hearing?”

K-9 slid across the floor towards him. “Insufficient data to formulate a reply.”

“I told you, I'd rather have died.”

He turned slowly, swallowing and trying to breathe normally.

“Donna,” he said.

Donna Noble stared back at him.

“Romana!” The Doctor threw her door open and rushed into the room. “Romana, there's something on the TARDIS.”

“Leave me alone!”

He pulled her up from the bed, trying not to hurt her. “It's not real, Romana. Whatever you're seeing, it's not real.”

“I can hear them,” she whispered. “I can hear all of them.” She shook herself free. “They want to know why I'm not dead. Why I wasn't in the war.”

“It's not real,” he repeated.

Romana looked up at him. “I could have helped them if I'd been there. I shouldn't have run away like that.”

The Doctor pressed his forehead against hers and closed his eyes. “Think, Romana. Concentrate. It's trying to upset you and you need to fight back.”

Romana struggled against his grip. “But it's true.”

The Doctor let her escape from him and stepped back. “Stay here. K-9, don't let her do anything to harm herself.”

K-9 trundled forwards, alert.

The Doctor ran to the console room.

“You never did like me.”

The Doctor pulled the lever to open the exterior doors. “Get out.”

“I'd still be alive if I hadn't met you.”

He shook his head. “Try harder. You haven't said anything I don't think myself every day.” He ducked beneath the console and pulled it open to start rewiring the exclusion unit.

“You said you'd come back.”

The Doctor dropped the sonic screwdriver. He closed his eyes. “No. Don't you dare.”

“You promised,” said the same voice.

“I couldn't... No! You're not real!”

In his peripheral vision he saw someone crouch down beside him. Someone dark-haired and slender.

“Please listen to me, Grandfather.”

The Doctor tried and failed not to look. She looked just like he remembered. He reached out to touch her.

Something hard and metallic bounced down the stairs. “Danger! Physical contact with the intruder will be fatal!”

The Doctor looked past Susan and saw K-9 trying to right himself, wheels whirring in the air as he rocked back and forth. He remembered where he was and what he was doing.

K-9's nose slid out and a wide beam of energy captured the thing that wasn't Susan. It screamed, contorting into a shifting mass of dark shapes. The Doctor quickly picked up the sonic screwdriver and tore into the innards of the TARDIS.

“Energy reserves failing!” cried K-9.

“Just... one... more... second.” He slammed the circuitry back into place and pulled himself to his feet as the creature was pulled towards the exterior doors and out into deep space.

The Doctor shut the doors shakily and went to help K-9.

“We're not calling it the Guilt Monster,” said Romana.

“Well, what else should we call it? Steve? Steve the Monster?”

They watched the planet's third sun set on the horizon. “Perhaps we just shouldn't talk about it at all,” said Romana, rubbing her arms as the sunlight died away.

“That's a terrible idea,” said the Doctor, “so I expect that's what we'll do.”

Romana leaned over and rubbed K-9's head affectionately. “Good dog,” she said. “Goodness knows what would have happened if we didn't have you.”

“What's a robot dog got to feel guilty about?” asked the Doctor rhetorically.

“Nothing,” said K-9 brightly.

He scratched the dog, fingernails scraping on metal. “But we still have to teach you to knock.”
a paleogeographic reconstructionprof_pangaea on March 16th, 2012 02:25 am (UTC)
teh nos'nostalgia_lj on March 16th, 2012 06:34 am (UTC)
scifi_mel: K9 Leelascifi_mel on March 16th, 2012 11:11 am (UTC)
I loved this so much!!!! They were perfect and wonderful and there may be nothing greater than 11, Romana and K9 in the Tardis.
teh nos'nostalgia_lj on March 16th, 2012 11:13 am (UTC)
Nothing except CAKE!
scifi_melscifi_mel on March 16th, 2012 11:19 am (UTC)
Now I'm picturing them all sitting around eating cake. Well except K9 obviously. But he is wearing one of those ridiculous little pointed paper party hats.