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Impracticalities (Dinner and Dancing)

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Narvin is a high-ranking member of the most advanced race in the universe, and a technician at that. He doesn’t believe in miracles or magic, because those are words invented by primitives to explain technology beyond their understanding. Narvin understands how Gallifrey was restored, how the tasks each of them carried out resulted in this, but to have the Matrix, the Capitol and the population all healthy and whole after the destruction they’ve seen is...remarkable.

Nevertheless, after a week back, Narvin is comfortable in the life he was leading six months ago, more comfortable than he’s been in all the time since. Two missions have been successfully completed, and one TARDIS will be docking in a matter of microspans, the other in a few spans. The field agents don’t like it, but they will be expecting to meet him in the berthing bays. Narvin’s insistence on immediate debriefings is well-known, and he is making it his business to know absolutely everything that goes on within and in the name of his organisation, even more so than before. He saw the CIA fall out of his control once before; he is determined that it will never happen again.

Switching off his Matrix screen, he makes his way to the door. It slides open before he reaches it to reveal the President.

“Madame President,” Narvin acknowledges, stepping out into the corridor. The door slides shut behind him.

“I thought I’d find you here. Don’t you ever sleep?”

“Not while I’m working.”

“You’ve been working for three days straight. We’ve barely seen you since our return.”

“I’m sure Braxiatel is heartbroken.”

“Devastated.” Romana looks him up and down. “It isn’t necessary to oversee absolutely everything, Narvin. If you can just manage to keep CIA codes out of Darkel’s hands this time round...”

“Thank you for the daily dose of hypocrisy, Madame President. If you’ll excuse me.”

He walks off. She sweeps ahead.

“Going somewhere, Coordinator?”

“I have agents due to arrive in TARDIS bay eight in three microspans.”

“I’ve no doubt they’ll be glad of the reprieve. This way, Narvin.”

She strides down the corridor without looking back, utterly confident that he’ll be following her. He does, of course.

“And just what is so important it brings the President all the way down here in the middle of the night? Surely the President is in need of sleep as much as anyone.”

“Night is the traditional time for dinner, Narvin. It’s a little later than I thought – the High Monan has absolutely no regard for time zones other than that of the Host – but I’m sure we can find somewhere. I was thinking of late 15th century Rome. Any ideas?”

Narvin thinks maybe he has gone too long without sleep, because Romana isn’t making sense. “Dinner?”

“You owe me a nine-course banquet. I have a long memory, and I collect on my debts.”

Realisation slams into Narvin like a transduction barrier. He’d – well, not forgotten, certainly not forgotten – but dismissed the time they spent waiting for Leela and Braxiatel. She’d been exhausted and under incredible stress, then there was complicated, dangerous and rather important world-saving, and then, when they’d succeeded, there had been so much to do. They’d had to destroy Pandora within the Matrix, reacquaint themselves with their lives up to this point, resume as if nothing had happened.

If he’s honest with himself (a habit not as unknown for the Coordinator of the CIA as many would believe, occurring more often than he was entirely comfortable with in recent months), while his absorption into his work has been – he insists – entirely necessary, he has been using the time to redraw the lines in his mind. The Narvin he is now, as far as the universe is concerned, never stood in front of a bomb for Romana. He never fought a war at her side. He never cared for her while she was frighteningly weak. He never cared for her. Narvin respects President Romana, not Romana, his President. Narvin knows how the world used to work, and he had been determined it would do so again. CIA Coordinators do their jobs regardless of their personal feelings for their Presidents. He hasn’t planned for this. It had been an off-the-cuff remark to begin with, an invitation she had astonished him by accepting but which he didn’t truly believe she’d follow through on. He is Coordinator Narvin and she is President Romana and summed up in those two words is her every quality, good and bad, and compared against her his inadequacies as a romantic partner are laughably clear.

“Madame President...Romana...I can’t...”

“Although there are times when I question it, you are an exceptionally intelligent Time Lord, Narvin. I’m sure you’re up to the task of eating dinner.”

Narvin stops. “And if we do, then what?”

Romana stops and turns to face him. “We could go dancing. Do I have to have all the ideas?”

Narvin stares. “Dancing?” he repeats incredulously, as his tenuous hope flickers and dies down. She wants to go dancing, could she have asked a more unsuitable partner? She doesn’t want him, she wants someone sophisticated and charming, someone like –

“Yes, Narvin. Dancing.” Romana raises her eyebrows.

“Oh. Dancing?”

“Yes. “ Romana nods slowly. “Remember what I was saying about times when I question your intelligence?”

He would question hers. But Romana has never been stupid. And she knows him, has disliked him, distrusted him: she is no starry-eyed girl when it comes to him. No-one has ever been able to tell Romana her mind. He respects (is bewildered/elated/amazed by) her choice.

“I suppose you’d like me to kiss you now?”

“That’s a very good idea.” She takes a step forward and drapes her arms round his neck as he slides his round her back. “But,” she murmurs, their faces a breath apart, “I wouldn’t get into the habit of doing so every time I insult you. Imagine the looks on the High Council’s faces.”

He kisses her smiling mouth.