With a grinding whine like a car refusing to start, a tall, blue, wooden box shimmered into existence among the trees. It stood silent for several minutes. Then a door in the side opened, and two figures emerged.
"I'm not convinced we should leave the TARDIS," said the shorter of the two.
"Nonsense, Romana. We need to find out where we are." The taller of the two tossed the end of his scarf over his shoulder.
"But, Doctor, the console was smoking." Romana turned to face the Doctor.
"It always does that." The Doctor turned around slowly, taking in the overcast, night sky and the trees. "There's something over that way." He pointed.
"It's never done that before." Romana turned to look in the direction the Doctor was pointing. A few yards away, the trees and underbrush cleared to a well lit concrete apron. Part of a helicopter was visible, and beyond that she could see more trees.
"It only always does that on certain occasions." The Doctor flashed a brilliant smile at his companion. "Shall we see where the randomizer has taken us?"
"And what sort of trouble we're in this time?" Romana took a cautious step, lifting her foot over a tree root. "At least there's some light."
"A moment--" The Doctor put a hand on Romana's arm. "There are cameras in the trees." He pointed at one tree nearby and then another considerably further away.
"How excessive. They must have every meter covered." She pulled away from him. "So someone knows we're coming."
"Yes, well. I suppose the welcome committee will be here soon."
"I'd rather not wait." Romana started walking. "Coming?"
"Of course." The Doctor followed her, unhurried. "Judging by the foliage, this is either Earth or one of its terraformed colonies."
"You can tell that much in this light?"
"I know Earth very well."
Romana emerged onto the concrete and looked around. "There's no one here." Her eyes ran over the fence that edged one side of the helipad. "Barbed wire." She pointed. "They want to keep something out."
"There's a building of some sort over that way," the Doctor said. "Probably where we'll find answers." Another belt of trees lay between the helipad and building he indicated.
"I haven't got questions yet." Romana headed across the helipad. "Presumably, there's a path."
Finding the path took only a few minutes. The Doctor took Romana's hand, and, together, they strolled toward the building.
"I really thought someone would have--"
"Please don't die!" A scream cut off Romana's words. It echoed unpleasantly in their heads and went on and on.
Romana pressed her hands to her ears.
The windows on the building ahead of them blew outward.
"It's telepathic!" the Doctor exclaimed. His face took on an expression of intense concentration. "You can block most of it if you try." He tugged on Romana's arm, pulling one hand away from her ear and repeated himself.
Romana frowned but lowered her other hand. "It's strong."
"And not human."
The building trembled. Pieces of it started falling off. Cracks ran up the walls.
The Doctor started forward.
"Don't be foolish! We're not going in there!" Romana pulled on the Doctor's arm, urging him back toward the helipad.
The Doctor didn't move. "Perhaps a Time Lord." He took a step toward the building.
"No, Doctor! We'll be pulverized." Romana set her heels and resisted his movement. "After it's over, we'll find out what happened."
"After it's over may be too late," the Doctor protested.
The building started to glow. White light radiated from it. The ground shook. The light spread outward.
This time, when Romana tugged, the Doctor cooperated. They ran.
Behind them, an arrow of light shot toward the sky.
At the helipad, the Doctor pulled Romana to a stop and looked back.
Three men ran along the path after them. One of them was carrying the limp form of a girl. All three men were white. The man in front had brown hair and spectacles. He carried a gun. The next man, the one carrying the girl, had bright red hair. The girl was east Asian, her long, dark hair plaited into two braids. The third man had white hair, facial scars and an eyepatch. He carried a long knife, unsheathed.
As they reached the helipad, the trio slowed to a stop. The man with the gun held up his free hand, holding his companions back. "These two are none of our business," he said. "Leave them be." He looked over his shoulder and fixed his eyes on the white haired man.
The white haired man shrugged. He raised the knife in front of his face and studied the light glinting off it. He said nothing.
"Then can we get to the helicopter?" the red haired man said. "She's not getting any lighter." He studied the Doctor and Romana for a moment, curiosity clear on his face. He frowned then scowled at them.
"Doctor," said Romana, "that man is a telepath. A most rude one, too."
The red haired man's scowl deepened.
"Schuldig, leave them be," the man with the gun said mildly. He looked at the Doctor. "Matters behind us will settle down in a few minutes."
"I was just looking," Schuldig said. He sounded petulant.
"I expect he doesn't know any better," the Doctor said, glancing at Romana. Looking back at the man with the gun, he added, "When matters settle down, it may be too late."
"Everyone who's going to die is already dead." The man with the gun pushed his spectacles up on his nose. "You can't save anyone by rushing in, and the boy is going to need you. Weiss, the four young men who'll climb out of the wreckage first, are useless. Wait until they've gone. It won't take long. You'll get wet, but I imagine you can deal with that."
The white haired man licked his knife. He fixed his single eye on Romana and grinned.
Romana ignored him.
"Brace yourselves," the man with the gun said.
The building and the trees nearest it exploded. The shockwave broke against the trees, but enough came through to make all five of those standing stagger.
When the noise had dissipated, the Doctor said, "Fascinating. You knew to the second." He looked at Romana. "You know, I don't think we are on Earth. We have a telepath and a precognitive together in one place. That doesn't happen, not with this level of technology. It takes humans ages to develop that sort of thing."
"I think we have other things to worry about than whether or not we're on Earth," Romana said. "These gentlemen--" She glanced at Schuldig and the white haired man, pressed her lips together and sniffed as if doubting the term applied. "--want to be going."
"Indeed we do," the man with the gun said. "We have to get this young lady to medical care."
"I'm a doctor," the Doctor said.
"I'm afraid she needs more than you could provide here," the man with the gun said smoothly. "She's been in a coma for two years. She needs an I.V. and a feeding tube. She was kidnapped from the hospital where her family had placed her. We're retrieving her. The... situation back there arose when the kidnappers objected to our taking her. They hadn't gotten what they wanted in exchange for her."
"Crawford, the helicopter's right there. We can leave as soon as you're done talking." Schuldig shifted the girl a bit in his arms. "I want to put her down."
"If you'll excuse us," Crawford said, "we must be going. You're needed back that way." He waved a hand in the direction of the destroyed building. "Apart from Weiss, who will leave before you get there, there are two survivors."
"Don't let us keep you," Romana said. She stepped to one side.
The Doctor opened his mouth then closed it. "We really should go, too." But he stood and watched as the three men climbed into the helicopter, Schuldig passing the unconscious girl to Crawford. "I hope I don't regret that," he said quietly.
"I doubt we could have stopped them," Romana replied.
They both watched as the helicopter took off.
"Well," said the Doctor, rubbing his hands together. "Shall we see what's left? That energy blast felt terribly familiar." He started walking back through the trees.
Romana took a few quick steps to catch up with him then walked by his side. "You really think that was another Time Lord? That that was a bio-energy discharge?"
"It's the simplest explanation. I always go with that until other facts come along."
There was no light, so making out details was difficult. The building appeared to have been razed to its foundation. All foliage within twenty meters of the walls had been scoured away. Here and there, fallen trees remained. As the Doctor and Romana looked over the devastation, it began to rain.
The Doctor looked up at the sky. "And he's right again. Of course, anyone could have predicted that it would rain."
Romana tugged on the lapels of her coat, settling it more firmly around her neck. "Does that mean we're waiting to see if four young men climb out of the ruins?"
"Getting them out of the way does seem sensible. I'm very curious to meet the boy that fellow with the gun mentioned. That explosion was textbook for an unstable regeneration."
"So, if he is a Time Lord, we'll need to take him to the zero room. You do have a zero room, don't you?"
"Do I have a zero room? Of course, I have a zero room. Unless the TARDIS has got rid of it." The Doctor seemed to ponder that.
"Can you see anything? There could be an army out there, and I wouldn't see them."
"If we can't see them, it would follow that they can't see us." The Doctor started forward, slipping a little on the bare earth that was rapidly turning to mud. He pulled a flashlight out of his pocket and aimed it at the ground.
"That would have been useful earlier." Romana followed him, picking her way carefully amid the debris. "It's going to take us forever to find him in all of this."
"Oh, not as long as that." The Doctor was silent for a few seconds. Then he added, "And the man with the gun, Crawford, said two survivors. We need to find both."
"We may not have time. We don't know how close other people are. The light and explosion would have me calling the police."
They had almost reached the edge of what was left of the building. Lightning split the sky, briefly illuminating the scene.
"That's all we needed." Romana looked around. "We're the tallest things here."
"The odds of being hit by lightning are miniscule. There!"
A second bolt of lightning briefly illuminated a figure standing in the ruins. The light passed too quickly for identifying the figure.
"Wait there!" the Doctor called. "We have a light, and we're coming to you!" He picked up his pace, and Romana followed. They had to walk more carefully here. Chunks of plaster and wood and concrete littered the ground.
"There might be people under this," Romana said as she clambered over a large piece that might once have been a wall. It shifted under her, and she clutched at the edge to keep from falling.
"We don't have much choice," the Doctor said. He raised the flashlight so that it shone on the person they were trying to reach. That person stood at the edge of the light provided by the flashlight, but enough light reached the person to reveal that it was a young woman. The light was insufficient to show colors, but they could see that she had hair over her shoulders and was wearing boots that came almost to her knees and a midriff baring shirt. She stood quite still, her eyes wide, her arms hanging limp by her sides.
"I think she's in shock," Romana said. She started pulling off her coat. "The rain can't be helping."
The Doctor didn't respond. He focused his attention on moving as rapidly as possible.
The girl took a stumbling step forward. She looked around and raised her hands to touch her chest.
The Doctor and Romana reached the girl at the same time, and Romana wrapped her coat around the girl's shoulders.
The girl clutched at the coat. "Papa!" she said as tears started to drip down her face. "Schoen and Hell!" She looked down. "Nagi-kun!"
Romana followed the girl's glance. "Doctor, here's another one!"
A teenage boy lay on his side amid the debris, one arm outstretched. The Doctor knelt beside him and touched the boy's neck. "He has a pulse, both hearts. He's on the verge of regenerating, but I think, if we can get him to the zero room, we can stabilize him without that."
Romana looked around. The flashlight made a little pool of light. Around it was darkness. She looked back at the Doctor. "The girl feels like a Time Lord."
"Two Time Lords? Two young Time Lords? What are they doing here? Wherever here is. " The Doctor offered the flashlight to Romana. Once she'd taken it, he gathered the boy into his arms and stood up. "We'll have to come back to look for other survivors. This one can't wait."
"Yes, Doctor." Romana put her arm around the girl and tried to guide her out of the ruins.
The girl resisted. "Where's Hell?" She looked around, wildly. "And Papa! They killed Papa!" Her voice rose with each word.
"It's okay," Romana soothed. "We'll come back to search. We just have to get you and the boy to safety." She touched the girl's face, re-enforcing her words telepathically. "Come with us now. There's a good girl."
The girl's hands slowly unclenched, and her face relaxed. Given the rain, it was hard to tell whether or not she was still crying
"Use the sonic screwdriver," the Doctor said. "With the right setting, it can be very soothing."
"I'm afraid of soothing the rest of us into apathy," Romana responded. Nevertheless, she took her hand from the girl's face and rummaged in her pocket. She pulled out a slender rod, twisted it and pressed her thumb firmly against the side. The rod started to hum, and one end glowed. It started to make a whirring hum.
Lightning split the sky. The girl flinched.
"Of course," Romana said with irritation. "Now look at the pretty light-- What's your name?"
"Papa calls me Tot," the girl said.
"Look at the pretty light, Tot. Listen carefully. You'll start to relax." Romana moved the sonic screwdriver back and forth.
"Tot doesn't want to!" Tot protested, but her eyes followed the light.
Nagi's entire body ached. He had the vague sense that he'd done something stupid. What happened? No. I don't want to remember. Oh. No. No. No. He remembered the feel of Tot, limp in his arms. He felt tears start, and he opened his eyes with great reluctance.
The ceiling was pink and gray. Should there be a ceiling? I thought I pulled everything down around us? Obviously, someone moved me. Who and why? He was warm, but his clothes were wet. He could feel them sticking to his body. The light was bright but diffuse. Where am I? He could hear his own breath, and when he thought about it, he realized that he could hear someone else breathing, too.
Not Schuldig. He'd already be talking. He'd know I'm awake. Not Crawford either. There's nothing to be gained by waiting here for me. Or is there? Not Farfarello, either. The others wouldn't leave him alone with me, not like this, not when I'm helpless. He pushed himself up on one elbow.
He didn't see anything at first but the walls. There were large, pink circles on the walls, surrounded by gray. He turned his head. Tot sat propped against one wall, her eyes open but blank, a pink coat draped around her shoulders. His heart clenched, and he rolled over. He wasn't sure he could stand, so he started to crawl toward her.
"Ah, you're awake." It was a woman's voice.
He looked around.
A white woman with long, blond hair sat near what he assumed was the door. She wore a white shirt, pink pants and brown boots. She smiled and waved at him. "I'm Romana. The Doctor went back to see if there were any other survivors."
"Then Tot--" His voice broke, and he cleared his throat. "Tot's alive?" She's alive! How can she be alive? Never mind. She's alive!
"She alive," Romana confirmed. "We had to put her into a trance state. She wasn't willing to leave the ruins. We only had one torch, and you couldn't wait. You were on the verge of regenerating."
"Regenerating?" Nagi continued crawling toward Tot. He reached her and took her hand.
"You actually don't know." Romana sounded surprised. "It's something Time Lords-- people like me, you, the Doctor and Tot-- do when our bodies are stressed."
Nagi simply stared at her.
She sighed and rubbed her eyes. "I see we have to start more simply. Surely you've noticed that you're not precisely human? Two hearts, telepathy, that sort of thing."
"I'm human!" Only the Elders are supposed to know. I'm human. Just better.
"You're not. If you don't believe that, there's no chance you'll believe the rest," Romana said patiently. "Time Lords and humans have a great deal in common, at least on the surface. Haven't you noticed that you age more slowly than people around you do?"
Against his will, Nagi nodded. He inched his way over to the wall and propped himself up against it, still holding Tot's hand. "That just means I'm the next step in human evolution." He was repeating the words that had been said to him so many times. I am better. They all deserve to pay. Except Tot. She deserves-- better. "Wake Tot up. Now."
"I don't think that's a good idea. We should wait until the Doctor returns with news."
He tried to draw on his will, to make the room tremble, but no power answered him. I'm too worn out. I stretched myself to passing out. Food. I need food. He looked at Tot. He could see the hole in her shirt where Farfarello's knife had penetrated. The blood scarcely showed on the black cloth. He touched the hole and pulled the fabric apart, expecting to see a wound beneath.
Nothing. Her flesh was perfect and whole. He moved the cloth, trying to find the wound.
"What are you doing?" Romana sounded disapproving. "Her being unconscious doesn't give you license to paw her."
Realizing that he was fondling Tot's breast, Nagi snatched his hand away and blushed. "She was-- Farfarello stabbed her. She was dying. That's why I--" He broke off and shook his head. I lost control.
Romana stood up and came over. She knelt next to Tot. "She should have regenerated if she was that close to dying. At least-- I assume she still looks the same as she did before?"
She could look different? He tried to imagine that and failed. She's Tot. "You sound crazy."
"That's only because of context." Romana leaned over Tot and poked a finger through the hole in her shirt. "Right over a heart." She sat back on her heels. "This Farfarello, does he have white hair and an eyepatch? He looked like a nasty customer."
"You saw him?" Where? Where did they go? Why did they leave me?
"He leered at me." Romana sounded disapproving.
Farfarello wouldn't be far from Crawford. They lived, then. Guilt at the thought of being responsible for the deaths of his team rose in him. It didn't happen. And Tot's alive. Everything else is crazy, but they're alive, and Tot's alive. "I need to go." I've got to get back to Schwarz. Crawford will only cover for me so far. Nagi gave Tot's hand a squeeze then let it go. "I'd like to say goodbye to Tot, so bring her out of this 'trance.'"
"You're not going anywhere until your lindos levels drop to normal. There's no point in regenerating now. As to Tot, can you keep her calm? If she tries to leave, she could easily get lost, and we'd have trouble finding her."
Nagi stared at Romana. "I'm not staying."
"You can't even stand up."
"I'll manage somehow. I don't believe in this regeneration thing," Nagi said, "and if I don't get back soon, I'll be in trouble."
"So you'd leave Tot with us?"
I'd rather not. "Do I have a choice?" She's not going to let me go. I have to wait until I can make her. Then I can take Tot, too. Crawford won't be happy about her, but he can deal. Except... Crawford killed Schoen, and Farfarello killed Masafumi, and I-- Did Hell survive? Tot won't forgive us, and Crawford doesn't take chances.
"You don't have a choice about staying, either. I won't show you the way out," Romana said firmly. "How old are you?"
Nagi blinked at the seeming non sequitor. "What does that have to do with anything?"
"You look quite young, especially if you haven't regenerated before. A Time Lord isn't adult until about a hundred and twenty. How old are you?"
He swallowed hard as memories he had tried hard to ignore demanded attention. "I was on the streets for years." How many years? I remember other kids growing up. I remember bombs falling from the sky and time before that. No. Crawford said I was twelve when he found me. I'm fifteen now. "I'm not a Time Lord!" It would explain a lot, though.
She didn't press him. "Do you think you can keep Tot calm? I'm afraid the Doctor won't be back with good news."
"I can try. She's going to be upset about Schoen and Masafumi. They're definitely dead."
The door to the room swung open, and a tall, white man with curly hair strode in. He wore a long, brown coat and an exceedingly long, striped scarf. He paused in the doorway, and his shoulders slumped a little. "No good news, I'm afraid." Then he looked at Nagi and said, "Hello, and what's your name?"
That can't hurt. "Naoe Nagi," Nagi said.
"I'm the Doctor." The man flashed a grin. Then his eyes fell on Tot. "Romana, why do you still have her hypnotized? It's not good for her."
"I'm afraid she'll try to run away. If she gets lost in the depths of the TARDIS, we'll never find her."
"Nonsense. The TARDIS wouldn't let her stay lost," the Doctor said.
Romana sighed. "Whatever you say, Doctor." She took out a metal rod, twisted the top then pressed along one side. The rod made a sharp sound that repeated about a dozen times.
Tot blinked. She threw off Nagi's hand and made as if to push someone away. "Tot won't go!"
"Tot," Nagi said. He wasn't sure what to say next, so he repeated more sharply, "Tot."
Tot froze. She looked around, her eyes wide. When her eyes fell on Nagi, she grabbed him. "Nagi-kun, everything's wrong!" She started to cry. "Hell said Papa couldn't come out yet, but his tube is all broken!"
Nagi put his arms around her and tried not to enjoy the contact. I don't want her upset. This is nice, but it's better if she's happy. He wanted to tell her it would be okay, but he knew it wouldn't be. She relied on Masafumi and the others. He closed his eyes for a moment then looked at the Doctor. "You went back to look for survivors. What did you find?"
Tot went still in Nagi's arms.
"I'm sorry. I didn't find any survivors. I found three bodies, two women and a man. I didn't have time to look further. Emergency services finally made it past the gate." The Doctor ran one hand over his head. "I am sorry."
Tot's tears progressed to sobs. "Everybody's dead!" She buried her head against Nagi's shoulder.
Her world is gone. What is she going to do without Schreient? Nagi's first instinct was to take her home with him. No. Crawford would kill her. She's a liability. A liability I love. He narrowed his eyes and studied the Doctor and Romana. They had no reason to help beyond this Time Lord business, and that didn't make him go back to look for more survivors. Can I use that? Could they keep her safe?
"The... people you found," Nagi said. "They were her family, all of it." Unless the man was one of Weiss. No, Crawford said they'd all survive. He had to have known. He had to have known. Why did he let it happen? "She's seventeen." They'll think that's very young. Will they take responsibility? Do I want them to? What if they take her away?
"She looks older," Romana said. She didn't sound as though she disbelieved him, more as if she were facing a puzzle.
"Sometimes a childhood regeneration will do that," the Doctor told her. "If she's regenerated a time or two, she'd look like an adult. It doesn't happen very often. Children are usually better protected than that." He frowned and studied Tot and Nagi. "How did the two of you end up here-- wherever here is-- so very far from Gallifrey? One might be carelessness, but two-- That's a puzzle."
Nagi raised his chin. His earliest memories provided some answer. He remembered a time when everything had been warm and bright, when there'd been enough to eat. Then his powers had started to manifest. He remembered an adult-- his mother, he thought-- who had been scared of him. Then there had been other adults, different foods, and the lights hadn't been nearly so bright. He wasn't sure what had happened to the other adults. They hadn't lasted long. It's none of your business. He turned his attention back to comforting Tot.
Romana stood up. "Shouldn't we take them to Gallifrey?" she asked the Doctor.
"Oh, no, no, no," the Doctor said immediately. He hesitated. "Well, perhaps. We certainly can't leave them here. Be quite a shock to the system after living here, though."
More than a little alarmed, Nagi looked up from rubbing Tot's back. "I'm not going anywhere," he said firmly. But I'm so weak right now, they could force me. And wouldn't that screw up Crawford's plans! He suppressed the feeling that it would serve Crawford right. He left me! "I have people counting on me." But Tot doesn't. Would she be better off at this Gallifrey place? No. These two, I know something about. Gallifrey could be anything.
The Doctor looked at Nagi for several seconds. "If you feel that way about it, you're free to leave, but don't you think you should know more first?"
"He can't even walk, Doctor," Romana said. "We can't just let him leave."
"I won't force anyone to come with us." The Doctor tossed one end of his scarf over his shoulder. "But I agree that he shouldn't leave just yet. He needs dry clothes, a cup of tea, a good meal. Maybe you can find those things while I tell him about Time Lords and Gallifrey and TARDISes. That way he can make an informed decision. I don't think he's nearly so young as she is."
Tot was still crying, but the wrenching sobs had ceased.
"You'll be okay," Nagi assured her. He wasn't sure it was true, but he hoped it was.
Romana gave the Doctor a long look then said, "I'm trusting you to tell him the truth. Gallifrey isn't as bad as all that."
"Time on Gallifrey is the only way to get a TARDIS," the Doctor replied. "Well, maybe not the only way, but it is the only place to learn temporal mechanics and TARDIS maintenance and all of that. Traveling time and space is much easier when you know what you're doing."
"And you do?" Romana sounded amused.
The Doctor patted the wall. "The old girl and I do well enough."
Romana looked down at Nagi and Tot. "I'm leaving you to him. He doesn't tell lies, but his view of the truth may be biased."
Nagi nodded. I wasn't going to believe him anyway. Well, only halfway. I'd like to know where we are. Some place close to the Seian Research Center, somewhere inside the fence. But there isn't anything there but trees, and they've implied that this place is huge. They also keep talking about leaving. He didn't like the implications.
Romana rubbed her hands on her thighs. "You do need clothes." She headed for the door.
As Romana closed the door behind her, the Doctor went down on one knee next to Nagi and Tot. He put his hand in his pocket and pulled out a paper bag. "Jelly baby? It's not a real meal, but a sweet makes everything better."
Nagi started to shake his head then thought the better of it. He nudged Tot. "Candy, Tot."
She pressed her face harder against his shoulder for a second then sniffled and pulled away. She rubbed her fists against her eyes. She sniffled again and regarded the Doctor with suspicion. "Bad men offer Tot candy."
The Doctor looked taken aback.
Nagi glared at him. "Don't worry, Tot. I'm here. He won't do anything." He tried to summon his power, but once again, nothing answered him. He wouldn't, would he? If he would, I can't leave Tot here. If it was just Romana... but it's not. Do I have any other choices? The bad ones can be really good at seeming helpful and harmless. At first.
Tot held out her hand, and the Doctor placed a vaguely human shaped jelly candy on it. Tot curled her fingers around the candy. "Nagi-kun should have one, too!" She made no move to put the candy in her mouth.
Nagi sighed and held out his hand. Might as well. The sugar can't hurt.
The Doctor handed him the entire bag. "You two might as well eat them all. I have more around here somewhere." He backed up, giving them more space, and sat cross legged. "How much time do you have before you need to be back? You really will be better for some rest."
Nagi's hand clenched around the bag. "I don't know. It depends on Crawford." Not that that means anything to you.
"Ah, Crawford. Interesting chap. Usually, people with guns point them at us." The Doctor planted his elbows on his knees and leaned his chin into his hands. "He seemed to know exactly what was going to happen."
Of course. Romana said she met Farfarello. That means meeting Crawford and Schuldig, too. Crawford didn't try to stop them from finding us. That means he trusts them, but does he trust them for Tot, or doesn't he care? No, he'd care because I won't leave her until I trust them. "He does that." Nagi pulled a candy out of the bag and put it into his mouth. Now I don't have to talk for a little bit.
Tot watched solemnly as Nagi chewed. After he swallowed, she put her jelly baby into her mouth.
"As it happens," the Doctor said, "no matter how long we take, I can get you to where you need to be when you need to be there. The TARDIS can do that." He patted the floor. "We're inside the TARDIS now. She can travel in space and time."
Okay. Now he's lying. Nagi let his head fall back against the wall. He looked at the ceiling as he said, "That's even less believable than the stuff Romana was saying about regeneration and Time Lords."
"Isn't the prospect of seeing different worlds and times appealing?" the Doctor asked.
"Tot would like to see other worlds. Papa--" Tot's voice was just above a whisper. "--would have wanted to go. He'd have wanted to know all about regeneration. He knew there was something special about Tot."
Nagi's stomach clenched. Masafumi studied Tot. Of course, that explains why he took her in. But he can't have hurt her. She said he protected her.
"Of course, there's something special about you, Tot," the Doctor said in a gentle voice. "You're remarkable."
"Tot," Nagi said, "do you understand? Seeing other worlds means staying with the Doctor and Romana. It means trusting them." He nearly choked on the words. "I can't go with you." I can't believe I'm saying that. It sounds like I believe in this lunacy. Well, is it any weirder than having two hearts or psychic powers or people turning into monsters?
"Will your business take long?" the Doctor asked. "We could come back for you. We just need a place and time."
"It'll all be over in a month," Nagi replied. Why not? Crawford didn't shoot him, and a month should be more than enough time. It'll all be over, one way or the other. If he can travel in time, he'll be there. If not... If not, I won't see Tot again. For a moment, he felt as if Farfarello had stabbed him. I won't know if she's okay. "How about Tokyo Tower on the first of October?" Anyone can find Tokyo Tower.
"Tokyo Tower? You mean this is Japan?" The Doctor sounded surprised. "I need the year, too."
"It's 1998," Tot said. "Papa said this would be the year when we found immortality." She sniffled then wiped her face on the arm of the pink coat.
"How can you not know what year it is?" Nagi demanded.
"Yes, well, you see, we've been traveling using a randomizer. We could end up anywhere, any when, that meets certain environmental criteria. We don't know where we are until someone tells us." The Doctor sat up straight.
"That sounds..." Nagi shook his head. Crazy. All of this is crazy. What would it be like to go to a different place every day? You could do what you wanted and not have to worry about cleaning up after Farfarello. If I could really do that-- "Tot, do you want this? I know you don't have anything to go back for." Except me. But you never loved me the way I love you.
Tot looked at the Doctor. She chewed on her lip. "Nagi-kun--" She tugged on Nagi's shirt. "Is he a good man or a bad man?"
I don't know. "So far, he's helped us. He even went back to see if he could help more. Tot, you know how to protect yourself now, don't you?" Even if you don't have a weapon now.
She nodded firmly. "Tot is older now and bigger."
The Doctor let out his breath in a sigh. "I wouldn't hurt her. However, traveling with me isn't always safe. We find trouble without looking for it."
"Tell her, not me," Nagi said.
"Tot, what would help you feel safer?" the Doctor asked.
"Tot wants her umbrella." Tot reached for another jelly baby.
Nagi made himself take a second candy as well. They're too sweet. "Her umbrella is a weapon. The shaft is steel, and the end is a sharp spike." And it's probably buried under a ton of rubble. At least she's not asking for her bunny. The umbrella is replaceable.
"I don't altogether approve of weapons," the Doctor said, "but I did have a companion who was very attached to her knife. I think we can manage something."
"Then Tot will go with you," Tot said.
Nagi put his arms around her and pulled her close. "I'm going to miss you," he said. He let Tot go and looked at the Doctor. "I'll leave you my e-mail address, just in case Tokyo Tower doesn't work out. I'll keep the address no matter what."
For someone completely sure of his ability to navigate time, the Doctor looked relieved. "That's wise. Just in case you can't be there that day."
I will be there on October first, Doctor. Will you?