Author's Notes:
Written for the Doctor Who Big Finish Audio Ficathon on the LiveJournal community 'bigfinishlove'. Many thanks to Ponygirl for beta-reading.

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I could end up anywhere, she thinks.

Somehow, she’s not afraid - just curious. A little apprehensive, yes, and she doesn’t fully trust this man, but he seems to be doing his best not to alarm her (although there are no holds barred on making her paranoid) so she just waits patiently for the journey to end. It’s not the first time she’s accepted a lift from a stranger - although the last one did save her life first. The man talks to her occasionally on the short journey, and she tries to wrestle some clue to his identity from him, but he’s tight-lipped and smirking. So far, all she knows is that he is an associate of someone called Irving Braxiatel, although his lips twitch at the word ‘associate’, enough to make her suspicious of him. He’s taking her to the Braxiatel Collection - the name rings a bell, but she can’t remember where from. No doubt the Doctor mentioned it at some point; an intended destination they never actually reached.

He must be one of the Doctor’s people, this man. She’s standing in a TARDIS, at any rate, and there’s very little turbulence. He must be a Time Lord to be able to pilot the ship with such ease. He knew her, too. He found her at the library where she works, cataloguing texts and studying in her free time. He sought her out, used her name (the full one that she hardly ever uses now that he couldn’t possibly know) and said his ‘associate’ would like her to visit his collection. If she had refused, he wouldn’t have pushed it, but there was something about the look in his pale blue eyes that spoke to her. He knew her. She knew then that time was going to leave her little choice in the matter.

The time-rotor slows, and her enigmatic escort manipulates his craft into a smooth landing and opens the doors.

“If you’d like to wait in the gallery just outside? Mr Braxiatel will be with you in a few moments.” The way he’s looking at her unnerves her slightly - it’s as if he’s never seen her before and finds her very interesting. She gives him an uncertain smile, and he stops staring at her, sensing her discomfort. “Just outside,” he repeats, waving towards the doors. “Feel free to take a look at the exhibits while you wait.”

Erimem nods, smiles at him again, and leaves the ship. She’s a little relieved to find that she is actually in a gallery, although it’s still just ‘anywhere’ to her. Then again, if the Doctor was going to bring her here once, then it must be okay. That said... places the Doctor liked to visit usually tended to have some element of danger to them. Oh well, she’s here now. She moves away from the mysterious man’s ship, watching as its plain grey exterior fades away to nothing. A pair of bird-like humanoids cast it a curious glance as they pass, then nod to her before moving on.

She turns and casts her eye over the exhibits. She can see several from where she stands; paintings and sculptures in this room, manuscripts in glass cases visible in the next, musical instruments filling the one in the opposite direction. She can hear faint beeping from a room not far away but out of sight, so this collection must house technology as well. It’s an amazing array of artefacts, she has to admit. She’s never seen anything like it. The gallery itself is quite beautiful, too; all slender pillars and hangings and marble floors, juxtaposed with electronic panels set into the walls and server robots that scoot around carrying things or dusting artefacts or wiping away footprints.

Movement across the hall catches her eye; a squat creature in a protective environment suit made of shining metal disappears through a door and reappears moments later, followed by a tall, thin man with a dark moustache. He appears human, but Erimem knows better than to assume. The creature in the hissing, clanking armour points towards her, then makes its way towards a heavy-looking wooden door on the other side of the room.

She straightens up, smiling and trying to look presentable as the dark-haired man approaches. She feels a bit awkward in her work clothes; librarians are always respectably turned out, despite the fact that they never really go anywhere, but she‘s not exactly dressed up for meeting important people. She’s always known, however, thanks to her upbringing, how to make a good first impression.

“Mr Braxiatel.” She holds out her hand and he takes it, smiling at her. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

“Likewise. You must be Erimem - I was told you were arriving.”

“You were told? I thought... Your associate said you invited me,” she says, frowning at him.

“Ah, well...” Braxiatel begins, looking away. “It’s a little complicated. My ... associate -” Again, the way they both say that word, as if they’re hiding something… “- is the one who advised me that meeting with you would be advantageous.”

“Who is your ‘associate’?” she asks him, finding her eyes narrowing slightly in distrust. She doesn’t attempt to school her features into a more agreeable expression; there’s no reason for her to trust this man, after all.

He looks her straight in the eye, and hairs raise along her arms as she shivers slightly. “I know him very well,” he tells her. “And you are good friends with him in the future.” He smiles, his dark eyes friendly despite their eerie depth. She has looked into eyes like those before.

She smiles back, deciding to trust him at least a little. There’s something familiar about him, in the same way that his unnamed ‘associate’ struck a chord with her.

“You know the future, Mr Braxiatel? I used to know a man rather similar to you. He had a TARDIS too.” She nods towards the spot where the ship disappeared not long ago.

He smirks, moustache twitching. “I presume you’re talking about the Doctor.” She can’t contain the smile that breaks across her face on hearing his name, and she nods. “I don’t know much about you, but that’s one thing I do know; that you travelled with him. How else could an almost-pharaoh from Ancient Egypt be living in the twenty-fifth century?”

Erimem finds herself speechless for a few moments, and Braxiatel chuckles.

“Which brings me to the reason I invited you here,” he continues. “I would like to offer you a job.”

“Me?” He nods. “But... what do you need me for?” She looks around at the exhibits, fascinated by most of them but unable to see what use she could possibly be.

“My collection isn’t just art and literature and technology,” he begins, waving a hand absently at said exhibits. “I have one or two employees who are exhibits themselves. Eyewitnesses to key historical events, mainly. People come from light years away to hear their experiences first-hand.”

“And you want me to be one of these exhibits?” Erimem concludes.

“I believe the last living member of an ancient civilisation would be highly popular,” he replies with a smile. She‘s unsure whether or not it would be an enjoyable job, telling people stories all day... “You wouldn’t have to do it day in, day out, not if you didn’t want to,” he adds, seeing her indecision. “In fact, I recently lost an archivist, so your help would be invaluable in the vaults. You already have experience of cataloguing, I know.” She smiles, thinking how much more interesting it would be to catalogue and archive artefacts of such variety, instead of just books. And it would actually be nice to be able to talk to people about Egypt for once, instead of having to pretend she just had an enthusiastic interest in the subject.

“What about my job in the library?” She can feel her mind swaying strongly towards this new opportunity, but that’s the thing that holds her back.

“If you take me up on my offer, I can have it sorted out very easily,” he replies with a smile. "And I can arrange for your belongings to be brought here, as well. I‘ve set some living quarters aside for you.”

She raises an eyebrow, smirking. “You seem fairly confident that I’ll accept, Mr Braxiatel.”

He tilts his head, with a knowing smirk of his own. “I know the future, remember? Or at least, I have informants from the future. My associate tells me you’ll still be working here in several years’ time.”

“So, I have no choice in the matter?” Her smile is gone now, and she imagines she looks rather petulant. She always did dislike that element of time-travel - causality setting everything in stone.

Braxiatel, however, seems slightly dismayed. “Of course not,” he protests. “You have every choice in the matter. However, it is true that I know what choice you will make. That’s the downside of knowing future events: free will appears to be lost. It isn‘t, though. You could still choose to return to the library and carry on working there. It's up to you."

She bites her lip, thinking. She could go back to the library; carry on living her new life, keeping her old one secret and cataloguing books. Or she could accept the offer; start another new life, have a friend who knew the Doctor and who understands time travel, and have a very interesting new job. She knows that even though time has already dictated her decision, she wasn't going to choose the library anyway.

She smiles at Braxiatel, nods, and shakes his hand. "Well then, I accept your kind offer, Mr Braxiatel."

"Excellent," he says, smiling widely. He turns and walks with her towards the doors at the other end of the hall. "Now, I'll just make a quick trip to pick up your belongings, so they should already be here." She glances up at him in surprise, but he's talking away as if what he's just said is perfectly normal. "My office is just here, so I'll leave you in my capable hands to get settled in."

With a confident, charming smile, he opens the door for her and then disappears down a corridor, leaving her more than a little confused. Uncertainly, she enters the room to see Braxiatel sitting at his desk, smirking.

"Good to see you again," he says as she glances between the departing Mr Braxiatel and the one behind the desk, lost for words. "Sorry, I didn't intend to confuse you." He looks more amused than apologetic, actually. "It seemed the easiest way to make the transfer as smooth as possible. All your belongings are in the living quarters I've set aside for you, and your job at the library is neatly tied up."

"Um, thank you." She begins to smile at the oddness of the situation, and at the suspicion that she will probably become used to such bizarre occurrences in this place.

"I should probably give you the tour, so you can familiarise yourself with the layout and the vaults," he says, rising and motioning for her to follow him out of the office. He leads her back to the hall she just left and begins to explain the concept behind his collection, but before he can finish telling her about his 'associates' from the past and future, there's a commotion somewhere in the direction of the entrance hall.

Looking round, Erimem sees a short-haired woman in dirt-and-dust-covered overalls, out-of-breath and in a hurry, trailing mud across the floor and swearing at the server robots for getting under her feet.

Braxiatel sighs, smiling wryly, and leads Erimem towards the entrance hall. "Before we begin the tour, I'll introduce you to Professor Summerfield. You'll probably be seeing a lot of her around here..."

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