The Places We've Been

by nostalgia [Reviews - 8]

  • All Ages
  • Swearing
  • Het, Mixed, Standalone

“This is pleasant,” said Romana, dipping a hand into the water.

The Doctor handed her a glass of champagne and sat down beside her on the boat. “That was the general idea, yes.” He produced a pair of sunglasses and slipped them on, leaned back in the autumn sun. “I have friends who teach here, you know.”

Romana sniffed. “I'm afraid I don't trust any university that's younger than Human civilisation.”


“Takes one to know one,” she countered mildly.

They were speaking Gallifreyan, just because they could. The English idiom sounded rather ugly when rendered in a language with the right number of tenses. The Doctor winced.

“Shouldn't you be punting?” asked Romana.

He raised an eyebrow over his sunglasses. “In public? Oh, you mean...” he gestured. “As in making the boat move.”

“You're awful,” she said with a smile. “But I do think we're becoming a traffic hazard.”

He waved a hand dismissively. “People can go around us, if it bothers them.”

Romana took a sip from her glass and leaned towards him. “I wish we had a perception filter with us?”

“What for?”


“I've noticed something,” said Romana, lying beside him in Paris.

He twirled a strand of her hair around his fingers. “Hmm?”

“We haven't been anywhere new.”

“New? Molten crusts and asteroids slamming into you every five minutes? What do you want new for?”

“I meant,” she said, pushing herself up with a hand on his chest, “that you're only taking us to places we've already been.”

He sat up and kissed her shoulder. “What's wrong with that?”

Romana pulled her hair aside to give him access to the back of her neck. “Take me to Argolis.”

The Doctor stilled with his lips at her nape. “Argolis?”

“You weren't going to take me there, were you?”

“Given the circumstances...” He tailed off into silence.

“That's exactly why I want to go there,” she insisted. She turned and smiled at him. “You did say you'd do anything I asked.”

The Doctor stared at her without saying anything before finally acquiescing. “Anything.”

The Doctor stepped out into the extended air-shell. “Her radiation-filter isn't what it was, I don't want to stay out here too long.”

“Have you ever..?”

He nodded. “Twice.”

“Not the nicest way to die,” she said with some sympathy.

“Last time it took ages. I ended up going to see almost everyone I've ever travelled with.”

Romana looked up at him. “Almost everyone?”

“Not you. And not Susan.”

“You couldn't or you wouldn't?”

“Bit of both,” he admitted. He poked her shoulder gently. “Why are we being so morbid?”

“Because you haven't been the slightest bit morbid since I found you. It's not healthy.”

“I've been morbid. Three regenerations since the war, that's enough to heal anything.”

“Says the man who wouldn't see me when he was dying.” She shoved her hands into her pockets. “I hate it here.”

“You're the one who who wanted to come here.” He touched her hand. “Should we come back before the war?”

“We can't,” she said. “And you can't keep pretending it didn't happen.”

“Ah,” he said.

“We have to be like the Argolins,” she told him. “We have to start over.”

“Are you asking me to have children with you?” he asked, incredulous and just the tiniest bit hopeful at the same time.

“Of course not. Just... look, let me pick where we go next.”

Romana was first out of the TARDIS. She'd landed them in the designated parking zone, between a Chelonian freighter and something that looked like a bottle-opener.

“I hate this place,” said the Doctor. “I really think you're taking this morbid thing a bit too far.”

“Shush,” said Romana, pointing at a sign that asked for dignified silence.

A figure in a hooded cloak approached them and bowed politely. “The last Time Lords,” said he, she or it. “Welcome to Remembrance. Please accept our condolences for your loss.”

“Thank you,” said Romana with a dip of her head.

“Yeah,” said the Doctor, looking at the assembled spaceships.

“Doctor, please,” said Romana, “this is one of the Guardians. A little respect might be considered appropriate.”


The Guardian bowed again. “Please, follow me.”

“Do you get many visitors?” asked Romana, the Doctor trailing along behind her in a sulk.

“To the planer or...?”

“The Temple.”

The Guardian was silent for a while before answering “You are the first.”

“Look,” said the Doctor, catching up and whispering loudly, “can't we go somewhere else? Somewhere pleasant?”

“I'm sorry about my companion,” said Romana to the Guardian.

“We each have our ways,” came the calm reply.

They stopped at a door that looked like all the others. “The Temple of Gallifrey,” said the Guardian, opening the door. They stepped inside.

The Temple had been the oldest standing structure on Gallifrey, so old that nobody had been quite sure who had built it in the first place. Constructed and re-constructed, it had lasted through ages and eras. The statues were...

“Where are the statues?” asked Romana.

The Guardian looked up, hood sliding back a little and revealing nothing. “They were installed according to specifications.”

“And yet,” said Romana, “they're not here.”

“We cannot apologise enough,” said the Guardian. “Perhaps -”

“Oh well,” said the Doctor, “no statues, what a shame. I suppose we might as well be off, then. Good luck finding them,” he added, not really meaning it.

Romana turned to him. “Doctor,” she said quietly, “they're validium.”

“The originals, yes, but this is just a copy.”

“Our memorials are precise in every detail.”

The Doctor looked at Romana. “Please tell me they didn't get hold of some validium and build statues out of it. How would they even get it?”

Romana looked down at her shoes. “I sent a few specifications to help.”

“Oh, well done,” said the Doctor, angrily, “hand over some weapons of mass destruction for a war memorial, that's the best idea you've ever had.”

Romana pulled herself up to her full height. “The Guardians of Remembrance are some of the most trustworthy people in the cosmos. They'd hardly misuse it.”

They wouldn't, but plenty of other people would.”

“Do have any idea how hard it is to steal validium?”

“Actually yes, and it's not that difficult.”

Romana turned back to the Guardian. “You keep records of all visitors, don't you?”

“Of course. All information will be made available to you. We of all people understand the severity of the situation.”

“No visitors,” said Romana. “Nobody's been near the Gallifrey memorial since it was built.”

“Except us,” said the Doctor, absently pocketing a paperweight.

“Well, we didn't take it. And put that back.”

The Doctor made a face and put the ornament back where he had found it. “So much for the holiday.”

“You mean your extended trip down... down that street where Humans keep old things.”

“Memory Lane,” he said. “And you're one to talk.”

“Well, if we hadn't come here we'd have been none the wiser until someone started taking over galaxies.”

“How very convenient.”

Romana ignored him. “I'll drive.”

“I've got her scanning for validium,” said the Doctor, “but it's a very small needle in a very large haystack made of almost-identical needles.” He considered his metaphor. “More of a needlestack, really.”

Romana put her hands on the controls. “So where do we start? And what's that flashing blue light?”

“Just ignore that,” he told her. “We might as well pick a planet at random for all the chance we have of finding this stuff before things get ugly.”

Romana pressed the button under the flashing light and read the note the console spat out. “Who's Dr River Song?”

“Friend of mine. And I told you not to read my messages.” He reached for the paper but Romana twirled away from him.

“Close friend?” she asked.

The Doctor ran a palm over his face. “It's one of her poems, isn't it?”

Romana raised an elegant eyebrow. “What's she a doctor of?”


“I knew it couldn't be literature if the best rhyme she could think of was 'muggery'.” She handed the note to the Doctor and started setting the controls. “Good, we could use an expert.”

“Oh, we are not bringing her into this,” he said with a note of mild panic in his voice.

“Whyever not? She can help narrow down the search.” She looked up from the controls.

“Ah, is this about your love-life? Really, Doctor, you have more important things to worry about than jealous lovers.”

“She's not the jealous type,” said the Doctor. “She's just... very persistent.”

“I'll make sure we impress upon her the gravity of the situation,” said Romana. She frowned down at the controls. “Doctor...”

He reached over and turned the cold tap clockwise. “She's just a bit temperamental.”

“I see.”

He flipped the lever to turn the breaks back on. “She gets tetchy when people turn off the noise.”

“Hello, Sweetie.”

The Doctor stepped into River's office and commandeered the only available chair. “River.”

River smiled. “And you brought a friend. How thoughtful of you.”

“This is serious, River. We've got a situation.”

River nodded and her smile faded. “Fire away.”

Romana propped herself against River's desk. “Did you call him 'Sweetie'? Doesn't that-”

“Drive him up the wall? Oh, yes.”

“I like you already,” said Romana.

River offered her a hand. “River Song, archaeologist.”

“Romana, not quite the last of the Time Lords.”

“Oh, so you're the one he -”

“Right,” said the Doctor, “if we could stop gossiping for a minute and concentrate on important matters.”

The women ignored him. “I thought you were dead,” said River.

“I was out of the local area, personal reasons. Then someone started punching holes in the universe and I decided to go home for a while. Funnily enough, it wasn't there anymore.”

“Validium,” said the Doctor loudly, “was a living metal created by the Time Lords as one of their ultimate weapons. Why you'd need more than one is a question for another time.”

“And we've lost some,” said Romana, concisely.

“That doesn't sound good,” said River.

“Oh, it isn't,” said Romana. “It's very, very bad.”

The Doctor wasn't about to let her steal his limelight. “In the right hands — or rather, in the wrong hands — it can unleash almost unimaginable destruction.”

“Interesting,” said River.

“Not really the word I'd have chosen.”

“I mean it's interesting to see you stuck with someone else who can explain what's going on. Does it hurt your ego?”

“River, we're talking about a Gallifreyan super-weapon!”

She rested her chin on her hand. “And I'm listening, I really am, but I'm also making a few observations.”

“She's good,” said Romana. “Can we keep her?”

“Can you see if anyone has any suspicious silvery statues in the historical record?” asked the Doctor, gritting his teeth.

“Yes, Doctor,” said River, “I'll absolutely be your lackey and do all the boring stuff while you run off across the universe.” She stood up. “You can use my computer. Romana and I will see what we can find in the university library.”

“What, the two of you? Together?”

River leaned down and kissed his forehead. “Don't worry, we won't talk about you.”



“And he has no idea who you really are?”

“Not the slightest,” said River. “Here we are, Anomalous Art. Everything from the Zyon Vaults to the Antikythera Mechanism.”

“Oh, that was me,” said Romana apologetically. “I didn't mean to contaminate the historical record.”

River pulled a book off the shelf and turned to the index. “He hasn't told me much about you. I think he wanted to keep you to himself.”

“People say we're rather alike, except he's male and much more irritating.” Romana selected an encyclopedia and began speed-reading while she spoke. “Personally I can't see the resemblance.”

“Hmm,” said River. “So, tell me about these Gods of yours.”

“Time, Death, and Pain. Supposedly they could inhabit the statues. Honestly, I can't think of anything more dangerous than a living deity, can you?”

“I think I'm starting to get an insight into the Gallifreyan mind. I thought the recklessness was just him.”

“Oh no,” said Romana, “that's just his self-publicity.”

“So you're all like that?” River stopped herself. “Were. Sorry.”

“It's fine, really.”

“Is the lying universal as well?”

“Oh, Time Lords are marvellous liars,” said Romana. She opened another book. “I didn't expect to ever see home again anyway. I only realised I wanted to get back to N-Space when the opportunity presented itself.”

“What's E-Space like?”

“Small,” said Romana, “but perfectly formed. I kept myself busy.” She closed her book and set it back on the shelf. “Can I ask a personal question?”

“Of course you can. I might not answer it, though.”

“Are you and the Doctor -”

“Chloris!” said the Doctor, appearing at the end of the row of shelves. “There's validium on Chloris!” He leaned against a bookcase. “And haven't I got the best sense of timing?” he added, smugly.

Romana and the Doctor waited by the TARDIS while River packed and made her excuses.

“How long as she been sick?”

“River? River isn't sick.”

Romana sighed and pushed loose hair behind her ear. “You know very well who I'm talking about.”

He lowered his voice. “A few months.”

“Do you have any idea what it is?”

The Doctor nodded. “The engines are deteriorating. I've been refuelling her on time rifts.”


“I know, I know. What's the alternative? It's not like I can convert her to run off the mains.”

Romana glanced at the TARDIS. “How long does she have?”

“Could be centuries. Could be years.”

“And then what will you do?”

“I'm trying not to think about it,” he admitted.

“Oh, Doctor...”

“Just act like everything's fine.” He forced a smile. “Something'll turn up. Something always does.”

River appeared with a rucksack and a large gun. “Is this big enough?”

“It's what you do with it that counts,” said Romana with a wicked smile.

The Doctor looked from one to the other. “Are you two flirting?”

“Does it bother you?” asked River.

“Yes, it does!”

“What a shame,” she said, apparently not the slightest bit concerned.

“Right,” he said, “we're going to have some rules for this trip. Rule one is no flirting.”

“Don't be silly,” said Romana.

“Rule two is no calling me silly.”

“Shall we just leave you here and pick you up when we've saved the universe?”

“I've died,” said the Doctor. “I've died and this is hell.”

“What do we do when we find it?”

The Doctor looked at Romana. “If you're going to suggest anything other than destroying it...”

“It's the last remnant of Gallifrey.”

“It's a copy of the last remnant of Gallifrey. Which isn't even a last remnant because it isn't there anymore.” He turned to River. “Sorry, she's morbid. That's new. She didn't used to be like this.”

“We could return it to Remembrance,” said Romana.

“Where it would promptly be stolen by someone else.”

“We have to find it first,” said River, stepping between them. “Do you have any idea who'd want to steal this stuff?”

“Almost anyone,” said Romana. “It could decide wars, build empires, it all depends on the form it's made into.”

“So anyone who knows what it is,” said River. “Does that narrow it down?”

“Nobody on Chloris,” said the Doctor, gloomily. “I have the horrible feeling that we're being sent on a wild goose chase.”

River frowned. “I thought you said the TARDIS found it?”

“The TARDIS is -”

“Fine,” said the Doctor. “The TARDIS is fine.” As if to prove him wrong it tilted to one side momentarily.

“She's dying,” said Romana. “We're not in any danger but sooner or later she's going to... stop.”

“And then?”

“And then we build something else,” said the Doctor. “Anyone can build a time-machine.”

“But not a TARDIS,” said River.

“No, not a TARDIS.”

“Conveniently,” said the Doctor when they arrived, “there's no metal on Chloris. So anything shiny is probably what we're looking for.”

“Have we been here yet?” asked Romana, locking the door of the TARDIS.

The Doctor checked his watch. “Not for a few decades. Still, probably best to avoid the locals.”

River pulled out her gun. “So we're looking for something deadly in a seemingly-endless forest.”

“When you start shooting,” said the Doctor, placing a hand on the gun, “other people start shooting. That's why I never carry weapons.”

“That's why you've died ten times,” said River, shaking him off. She took a gadget from her pocket and started scanning the area.

“We should split up,” said Romana, “we can cover more ground that way.”

“We can die more easily that way,” the Doctor pointed out.

“Doctor,” called River, “I need you to have a look at this.” She showed him her scanner. “Bonded polycarbide traces in the soil. Ten days old. We've got Daleks.”

“Right, everyone who can't regenerate get back in the TARDIS.”

“Not on your life,” said River. “You're both safer with me here.”

“How many are there?” asked Romana.

“One's too many,” said the Doctor, darkly.

“I thought they'd all died in the war,” she said.

“Long story,” said the Doctor. “It pains me to say it but I think we should split up.”

“Smaller targets,” agreed River.

“First one to find something should make some sort of screaming noise as they die,” said the Doctor.

River tossed him a communication device. “Or we could use these.”

“Oh, you're ready for anything,” said Romana with approval. “I take back everything I ever said about his taste in women.” She put her own communicator into a pocket and rubbed her hands together. “I'll go east.”

“Should we have some sort of emotional parting in case we never see each other again?” asked the Doctor.

“I suppose it might be an idea,” said Romana.

They looked at each other. No one said anything. Finally the Doctor clapped his hands together. “Or we could be stoic. Stoic's good too.”

“This is east,” said Romana.

“No,” said the Doctor, “it's north. You've wandered over into my bit.”

“The sun's over there,” she said, pointing at the large red star.

“This planet spins the other way.” He moved a finger in a circle to demonstrate.

“You could have said!” Romana sighed. “Shall we split up again?” She set off in the direction that really was east.

“Good idea,” he said, following her.

“You realise that splitting up involves going in different directions?”

“I'm just making sure nothing happens to you.”

Romana stopped walking and turned to face him. “Oh, for goodness sakes!”

“No Gallifrey, no TARDIS, I don't want to have no Romana as well.”

Romana took pity on him. “Fine.” She started walking again.

“Do you fancy my girlfriend?” asked the Doctor after a while.

“Is this really the time?”


River didn't so much get cornered by the Dalek as stumble into it. The forest was dense and the magnetic field of the planet was playing havoc with her scanner.

“Shit,” she said, eloquently.

“Do not move,” said the Dalek, moving its eyestalk up and down. “Human. Minimal threat. Interrogation will commence.”

“I hate how you things talk to yourselves,” said River, raising her hands.

“You were in the time capsule that materialised one local hour ago.”

“Was that a question or a statement?”

“Where are the Time Lords?”

“What's a Time Lord?”

The Dalek backed away slightly. “You are of little value. You will remain a prisoner until the Time Lords attempt to rescue you.”

“They're not that stupid,” lied River.

“They are emotionally weak. They will act accordingly.” It moved forwards again, forcing River to move back and start walking ahead of it. She made a note to herself that the speed they were moving at suggested it was damaged. That might be useful.

“How do you think she gets her hair like that?”

“I thought you said this wasn't the time for talking about my girlfriend?”

“I just -” Romana stopped. “I heard something.”

“Something Daleky?”

“Yes.” She moved through a dense patch of vegetation and stopped above a sharp drop. “Down there.” She closed her eyes and listened closely. “A Dalek and... River.”

“Who's winning?” he asked, trying not to sound worried.

“I think we're going to have to rescue her.”


“What?” she asked, looking for a way down.

“If anything happens to either of us...”

“Oh, shut up.”

“Hello!” called the Doctor. “I hope you haven't killed River or I might get upset!”

“I'm fine, Sweetie!”

He dropped down from a tree and landed between her and the Dalek. “How's things?”

“Oh, you know, same as ever. Got taken prisoner by a Dalek. There's only one of it, by the way.”

“Excellent! Just the thing to fill the afternoon.” He looked at the scarred casing. “Damaged?”

“Almost certainly.”

The Doctor finally turned his attention to the Dalek. “Your odds aren't looking too good. Would you like to surrender?”

The Dalek raised its eyestalk. “Daleks do not surrender to inferior beings.”

“So that's a no, then?” He stepped towards it. “Can I have the validium or are things going to get sweaty and violent?” He looked back towards River. “Have you noticed that they never just exterminate me and get it over with? Just think how different the universe would be if these things had any imagination.”

“You are required,” said the Dalek.

“Required? Required for what?”

“Where is the other Time Lord?”

The Doctor gave an exaggerated sigh of frustration. “She's driving me mad. Swap her for the statues?” He looked over the Dalek. “Oh, hello, Romana! I see you found River's gun.”

To it's credit the Dalek got its eyestalk most of the way round before it exploded.

“Good news or bad news?” asked the Doctor when they'd located the statues.

“Bad news,” said River.

“Good news,” said Romana at the same time.

“It's really only one bit of news, it all depends how you look at it. The statues won't talk to anyone who isn't a Time Lord. It's the form they're in. That's probably why the Dalek wanted a Time Lord alive.”

“It should have melted them down,” said Romana.

“As I was saying earlier about their lack of imagination..”

“So now we destroy them,” said Romana.

“I think we should,” said the Doctor.

“One last look?” she asked.

“Just a look?”

“I've had an idea,” said Romana. She reached out and placed her hand on the statue of Time, closing her eyes.

“What's she doing?” asked River.

The Doctor shrugged. “Mysterious woman things. All very mystical.”

“I thought you were an agnostic?”

“I believe in things that believe in me,” said the Doctor.

Romana opened her eyes.

So did Time.

River took a step back and put her hand on her gun.

Time placed a hand on Romana's cheek. “My daughter,” She said. “I am Time. I am all that ever has been, all that ever could be.”

“Lady,” said Romana, dipping her head.

“Hi,” said the Doctor, trying to sound casual.

“I owe a favour,” She said. “What is your desire?”

The Doctor nudged Romana. “Be careful. You know what gods are like.”

“Gallifrey is gone,” said Romana, ignoring the Doctor.

Time moved Her head a fraction. “I know. I know all things.”

“We have a TARDIS,” said Romana. “One of your children. She's dying. Could you save her? Please?”

Time nodded. “It is done.”

“Just like that?” River whispered to the Doctor.

He shrugged. “Gods, eh?”

They sent the statues into a double nova. It wasn't ideal, but it would do. River went home with a few bruises and a paper to write.

The Doctor and Romana sat with the doors open, looking out at a newly-formed galaxy.

“You could have asked for Gallifrey,” he said, breaking a long silence. “I thought you were going to do that.”

“That stuffy old place? What would I want with that?” She leaned against the Doctor. “Besides, I don't think even She could have brought it back.”

“You could have asked,” he said, putting an arm round Romana and resting his chin on her head.

“It's gone,” she said. “There's no point looking back.”

“No more morbid?”

“No more places we've already been?”

“Deal.” He shifted against her. “Just one more question.”


“Do you fancy my girlfriend or not?”