Beta: paranoidangel42 and samfeasor
Spoilers:Up through the end of The Last of the Time Lords.
Summary: Life after the Doctor; life after the war.
Backup fic for the dw_femslash ficathon.
For atraphoenix who wanted:
3. Will read about: I'll read any and everything, except incest. Any character from either telly canon, or the audio books. Guest characters and alternate versions are also much loved.
4. A few things you'd like in your fic: Historical settings, post-Time War, characters dealing with life after the Doctor...
And a possible quote...
We're born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we're not alone. - Orson Welles
5. A few things that you don't want to read and/or write: No PWP or stereotypical gender roles, or incest, please. Angst is ok, as long as it isn't overwhelming. So yeah, no overwhelming angst.
As it turns out it's the story behind the icon, which has been tickling at my mind but refusing to be written for ages with Sarah between The Hand of Fear and The Five Doctors and Romana after the Time War. The prompt and the quote just made everything fall into place.
Crossposted to dw_femslash, sarahjane_fic and my lj.
It was hard to be alone, after years in the TARDIS with the Doctor. She kept thinking she'd seen him out of the corner of her eye, but she'd turn and he'd be gone.
She dreamed of war with robots, and the destruction of all she held dear. She woke shaking with horror, but at least it had been just a dream.
The burst pipe was the final straw. She put her things in storage and went to Paris on a whim. No point in waiting on a man who might never show, and she was perfectly capable of travelling alone.
She dreamed of Paris, even though she'd never been there She could remember that schoolgirl uniform, and his laughter, so clearly. Once she had saved up enough money, she booked a holiday there.
They met in Paris, literally bumping into each other in front of the Eiffel Tower. Both apologising profusely, they found a small café where they ended up talking for hours, the topics ranging from the cost of tea to favourite historical figures to insane flights of fancy.
She found herself telling Sarah about the dreams, even though she had never mentioned them to anyone else. In a soft voice she spoke of a man with an insanely long scarf and a ship that travelled in time.
She ignored the chill that ran down her spine. Here was someone else who had known the Doctor but, for whatever reason, couldn't remember. She asked leading questions, trying to solve the mystery, cataloguing details for later consideration. But when Ramona tried to change the subject, she didn't press. There would be plenty of time to work out the puzzle later on. For now there were other distractions.
Rejecting the idea of a restaurant, they bought dinner and a bottle of wine and brought it back to Sarah's hotel room. Giggling and joking like old friends, the two of them sat on the bed to eat. The food was good, the company better, and when Ramona kissed her, half in jest, Sarah didn't object.
Later, lying intertwined and naked in the bed, curled up against the other woman's warmth, she thought she must finally be over the Doctor.
For once she didn't wake screaming from the nightmares of war. Instead she woke to the sound of Sarah's heart and the comfort of her presence. A single heartbeat, unlike in her dreams, and she grinned at the normality of it.
They spent the next fortnight exploring Paris, and their blossoming relationship. Running through the streets and visiting the most touristy attractions they could find. Buying tacky souvenirs, snogging in Notre Dome, eating croissants and sipping coffee and making up stories about the people walking past.
In the Louvre, Ramona whispered to Sarah that she had dreamt that the Mona Lisa was a fake and they debated plans to break in and find out, none of which were even remotely practical. They never carried any of them out, but had fun in the planning.
Nights were spent in Sarah's hotel room, sharing passionate kisses and caresses, and curling up together afterwards, content and safe in each other's arms.
She still dreamed of another planet, of war and of loss, but the dreams were less frequent and more distant. Sarah's presence seemed to keep the dark at bay.
She still missed him, but was glad to be moving on with her life and away from the loneliness that had threatened to engulf her. She found herself smiling at Ramona, and hoping against hope that she'd be able to hold on to this.
When the fortnight ended, they returned to London and to Ramona's flat. It didn't take long for Sarah to retrieve her things and move in. Both were tentative, fearing that the magic they had in Paris wouldn't last, but slowly they relaxed into life together, as a couple, and found that being together made even bills and postal strikes bearable.
They had been together a year when the landlord came by and asked if they could move the chest in the storage room, as he needed the space that weekend. Ramona was on a business trip and wouldn't be back for another week, and Sarah hadn't even known it was there. She promised the landlord she'd see to it and went down to have a look.
It was large enough that she thought she might have to call Harry and Benton round to help move it up to their flat. She reached out a hand to stroke the ornately carved wood and froze as she touched not wood, but a familiar alien something. It took her mind a moment to dredge up the memory...a TARDIS?
The chest was locked, and her key to the Doctor's TARDIS didn't fit. She ran up the stairs to rummage in the office for the stash of unidentified keys that always seemed to turn up without rhyme or reason. She grabbed the key by feel...now that she knew what she was looking for, it was easy to spot.
The key turned easily in the lock and she opened the lid and stepped in. She stared at the TARDIS, obviously damaged somehow. An automated program started, diagnostics of some sort, giving her the state of the damage and an estimated repair time some decades in the future.
Remembering some of the things she had picked up travelling with the Doctor, she was able to pull up more information, both about the TARDIS and its owner. Romanadvoratrelundar, President of Gallifrey. Romana. Ramona. That couldn't be a coincidence, even though Ramona was clearly human.
She had it brought up to the flat, and found a place for it, even if it was a tight squeeze. When Ramona came home, she barely noticed it unless she tripped over it. Whatever other damage the ship had sustained, the chameleon circuit still worked.
She wondered sometimes if she should tell the other woman, but decided against it. Partially from a desire to protect her from the life that Sarah knew she still had nightmares about, and partially out of a fear of losing her as she had lost the Doctor.
A few years later, they moved to the house in Ealing. Sarah had the chest put in the attic, with other alien artefacts she had collected over the years during her research. Ramona was dubious about the existence of aliens, but Sarah thought she was beginning to come round. Mostly because Sarah kept helping them out or defeating them.
She found the letter when cleaning out her wardrobe, sorting clothes to pack or give to charity. She wondered how it had got there and why they had misspelled her name as Romana. She brought it down to show to Sarah who was working in the office only to have K-9 tell her that Sarah had run out to do errands.
Taking a letter opener from Sarah's desk, she carefully slit it open. It was very short.
If you are reading this, my plan has worked. I couldn't save everyone, but I thought, at least, I could save you. If this works, you won't remember me and our people will have fallen into myth. Have a good life and don't lose the watch. You might need it someday.
Time is short and I must dash.
She didn't know what to make of this but Sarah, Benton and Harry had discussed the Doctor at length. An eccentric scientist whom the other woman had known during her days with UNIT. If Sarah had pictures, she had never put them on display.
She waited until that night when they were curled up in their bed, hearts beating a little too fast from earlier exertions, but instead of showing Sarah she tucked the letter under her pillow. She feared the world of her dreams. If this was a fantasy, she much preferred it.
The years passed, and they clung to each other. Both slightly damaged but getting by and knowing that the other made their life just a little brighter. Taking joy in small, normal things, that they wouldn't have noticed otherwise.
After Deffrey Vale, she knew she had to do something, but she just kept putting it off. Too selfish to let the other woman go and too afraid of being alone again. She told herself that Ramona's war wounds were obviously still deep and the best thing she could do was let the other woman have that peace.
She read the note again from time to time, and occasionally examined the watch, when she was certain Sarah was not around, but she was afraid to open it. Afraid that if she knew what secrets it contained, it would wreck the happiness she had found here. And the last thing she wanted to do was hurt Sarah.
Saxon came to power and the world went to hell. Sarah had been slipping into the TARDIS occasionally, and she had figured out how to extend the range of the chameleon circuit to cover the house, which was soon crammed with former companions seeking shelter from the nightmare world outside.
She located Martha almost immediately, having watched her take Jack's comm link and disappear. She was relieved when Martha recognised her name. A quick discussion followed, as the other woman relayed the Doctor's plan.
After a day or two of planning, many of the companions left, spreading across the globe, passing on Martha's message to the survivors. A few stayed on with Sarah and Ramona, forming command central, coordinating with whatever comm links Sarah could scare up among her stash of alien tech. Martha was the only one with teleport capabilities, but they managed however they could.
Ramona showed Sarah the watch early on, but Sarah remembered the Doctor saying that he could sense other Time Lords, and assumed the Master had the same capabilities. Even if the knowledge of things forgotten would be useful, it was a risk they couldn't take.
Instead she showed Ramona the TARDIS, and explained what the Time Lords were, and what she suspected about Ramona. The other woman kissed Sarah fiercely and agreed with her logic. It wasn't safe. Not now.
The others started trickling back a month before the date specified. A few never made it back, dead or worse. They mourned and waited for the time to arrive when they could act.
That morning, she herded everyone into the attic. She had figured out a way to use Mr. Smith to tie the telepathic circuits of the TARDIS into the archangel network, so they who had known the Doctor best could amplify their belief in him a thousandfold.
They watched on the monitor as the plan unfolded, the Master was defeated and the paradox reversed. Suddenly Ramona and Sarah were alone in the room. They clung to each other as if they would never let go.
Neither questioned the fact that they still remembered that year, it was just taken for granted. After a quiet dinner (and a dozen phone calls from people who had been in the attic, and had suddenly found themselves elsewhere, the world restored to normal), Ramona fetched the watch.
She was almost afraid to open it, but it was too late now. As long as they could pretend everything was normal, she'd been able to ignore it. Now it was too late.
She wrapped her arms around Ramona and stared at the watch in her hands, almost wishing they could go back to the way things had been as easily as time had reverted when the paradox was broken.
She heard a familiar grinding noise but couldn't place it. Looking at Sarah for a clue, all she saw was a mixture of hope and fear. She pulled away to answer the rap at the door, glad of the distraction.
There was a young man at the door who took one look at Romana and wrapped her in a bear hug. Sarah leaned against the wall and said nothing, though a thousand emotions were warring in her heart, and on her face. When he finally let go of Ramona and hugged Sarah, she was ready and almost composed.
He noticed the watch that Ramona had shoved into Sarah's hands. Sarah gave him a thin smile before handing it over and walking out of the room. She wasn't needed for this.
She resisted the urge to go after Sarah. She knew what they had was already lost, even before she opened the watch, but she took a deep breath and did so.
And that was it. She was no longer Ramona Worth, scientist and Sarah Jane Smith's partner. She was Romana, President of whatever was left of Gallifrey. She and the Doctor talked for a while, laying plans, before they realised they could put off talking to Sarah no longer.
She was curled up in their bed, feeling too hollow to cry, telling herself that they weren't worth it, and wondering if
The Doctor sat down on the bed and wrapped his arms around her, apologising for many things, most of which weren't even his fault. Romana sat down on her other side and did the same. She said all the right things and tried to pretend they mattered.
Romana's skin was cool to the touch now, and when she hugged the other woman she could feel the beat of two hearts beneath the skin. It only added to the distance that had grown between them.
She wished she could be what Sarah needed, but she couldn't, and she could see that knowledge reflected in the other woman's eyes. The distance now was too far to cross. She hoped there was some way they could stay friends, but from what she'd seen of humans, she had to admit that wasn't likely.
She resolved that even if she'd lost her lover, she wouldn't lose her friends. She wasn't about to let either of them go that easily this time. And she had a life. There was no reason to put it on hold, just because her heart had been broken again.
Suddenly, the Doctor was there, hugging them both and suggesting a visit to Florana or Paris to cheer them up and Sarah and Romana found themselves grinning for no reason, and looking at each other declared that Paris is lovely in the springtime. They gathered up K-9 and trooped into the Doctor's TARDIS. An adventure would do much towards restoring their equilibrium and might build their relationship into something that could be sustained...friends, if not lovers. Perhaps it wouldn't be what they had, but it would be enough.