"What in Rassilon's name is going on here?"
"Isn't it obvious?" She glares over the rim of her glass, more or less at Narvin where he stands in the door of her secret passageway. "I'm drunk. From here, I intend to progress to very drunk, and then to unconscious."
"Why would you possibly do something so stupid?"
"Leela's gone," says the Lady President, her chin quavering dangerously. "K-9 is lost. And Braxiatel is probably dead. With such excellent reasons, I think the better question is 'why aren't you drunk?'"
"I have an inebriated President to protect from a planet swarming with would-be assassins," says Narvin, sourly.
"He wanted me, you know," Romana comments. She drains her glass, and sloppily pours another.
"The assassins?" Narvin asks, bewildered.
"No. Well, yes, but no." Romana takes a sip, and hiccups. "Brax."
She nods, solemnly. "Ever since I was a girl in school. Twisted old lech." She gives her glass a moody stare, and then lightens. "Handsome, though."
"I hadn't noticed."
"D'you think I should've?"
"Drunk so much? No, I don't. Give me that."
A brief scuffle ensues. "As your Supreme Leader, I order you to give that back," says Romana.
"I don't think I will." He conceals the bottle behind his back.
"Traitor." She sulks. Then she stands, wobbles for a moment, rights herself, and walks, with exaggeratedly perfect balance, to the cabinet in the corner. Retrieving another pair of bottles, she returns to the sofa, and plops down in an undignified flop. "Not the drinking," she says. "Brax. Should I have slept with him, do you think?"
"He might have actually told me things, then," she points out.
"Braxiatel? Spilling his secrets? I doubt it."
"Suppose I made it a condition." Romana pours something dark into her glass, considers it, and then pushes it into Narvin's hand. He pushes it back again, and she shrugs, and downs it. "Made him tell me things before I slept with him. Strip secret-telling. One article of clothing per revealed machination."
Narvin is impressed she managed the word 'machination' in this state. From the look of her face, so is she. "As a matter of fact, I don't think it's remotely a pity that the President of the Time Lords never prostituted herself to provoke her Chancellor into showing his hand," says Narvin.
Romana looks at him, and sets down the bottle before she can pour. "Really," she says. "Are you certain of that?"
"Despite the fact that you're my Chancellor these days?"
Narvin freezes. "I don't have any secrets," he says. "Not in this universe. Beyond the obvious one, which you already know."
"Not any?" she asks. "How terribly unromantic."
"I've been called many things in my lives," he says, sitting on the ottoman opposite her, "but romantic certainly isn't one."
"No," she says, quirking her head, considering him. "What a pity."
"I think you've made it as far as 'very drunk,'" he says.
"Quite possibly," she agrees, and glances down at her glass, evidently surprised to find it empty. "Pour me another."
"I will not encourage you in this childish display."
"And they called me the Ice Maiden," she grumbles.
He laughs. "Did they really? How absurdly unfitting."
She blinks at him, her surprise obvious. "You think so?"
"With your temper?" he asks. "I've never known anyone runs as hot."
"No," he agrees. "You're so alive, it's all I can do to stop you burning yourself whole."
"Be careful, Chancellor," she says, her eyes holding his. "That sounded suspiciously like a compliment."
He tightens his lips. "It wasn't meant as one," he says, looking away. "I only meant that keeping you safe costs me far more effort and annoyance than it would if you would only behave like a reasonable Time Lady."
"And yet you protect me anyway."
He looks back at her. "To my dying breath, Madam President," he says.
She studies him hard for a moment, and then she smiles--a pure, wholehearted smile, the kind he sees her give so infrequently, and absolutely never to him. "Narvin," she says, "it may actually be possible that you aren't entirely a smug, self-important prig."
"Be careful, my Lady," he says. "That sounded suspiciously like a compliment."
"Mmm," she says. "Well. The way I see it, we have two choices for the rest of the evening."
"Either I drain three more of these in the next few microspans, rendering myself so unsteady and incoherent that you're duty-bound to carry me off to my bed and tuck me in..."
"Or?" he asks.
"Or I put the bottle down now, we both agree to pretend I'm so unsteady and incoherent that the same principle applies, but I'll be slightly less miserable in the morning, and you get my guarantee that I'll be far less trouble to manage, and will cuddle against your chest in a terribly appealing sort of way."
Narvin swallows. "I'm not going to
, no matter how much you've had to drink," he says, hoarsely. "You've done this to yourself, and if you end up sleeping on the sofa, it's no more than you deserve."
She scowls. "I was right. Entirely unromantic." She stands, takes one step, and her legs crumple. He catches her before she hits the ground, and rights her. For a moment they stand together, her back against his chest, looking up at him. "Chancellor Narvin," she says, "what am I going to do with you?"
"That," he says, "is a question for some other night."
She purses her lips, and nods. Turning away, she takes a step, grasps onto the back of the sofa, and then manages another to lean against the wall. "Goodnight, Narvin," she says, as she stumbles towards the hall. "I trust you can show yourself out."
"Far better than you could show me out, just now," he observes.
She waves a hand, in a way no doubt intended to convey some profound message, and disappears around a corner.
Narvin stands, looks around him at Romana's sitting room, and draws in a deep breath. He exhales just as deeply, and one side of his mouth twitches. And then he sits, quietly, on a bit of sofa that smells of his Lady President, and pours himself a drink.