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Chance Encounters

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“Never run from anything immortal. It attracts their attention. ”
― Peter S. Beagle, The Last Unicorn

***

CITIZEN PARK - THE BOESHANE PENINSULA, 51ST CENTURY

2 MONTHS AFTER DEATH…

It was a bright and sunny day in the Boeshane Peninsula, and the Bank of the Colonies had just been robbed.

In a couple of hours time the press would call it “the worst breach of security since the founding of the colonies” and the Time Agency would call it “a temporal felony that threatened the difficult treaty between the Celestial Intervention Agency and us” but right now, at this very moment, no one had any idea what had just happened. Bank employees were still at their desks, making transactions, security guards were still at their posts, and the Time Agency's finest were occupied elsewhere-and-when. Life carried on regardless in the 51st century.

On the other side of the planet, Rodageitmososa rolled over, sprawled against the rising and falling chest of his lover, and checked his watch. The dimly flickering laptop screen on the table beside him illuminated them both, quietly turning itself off. Roda's free hand clutched a data stick against his rapidly beating hearts as he glanced at his bed partner, wondering if the noise of the machine had woken him up. But the scruffy blond was still sleeping like a log; admittedly, a heavily drugged log, who would almost certainly sleep for another couple of hours before waking up with what he would put down to a terrible, what-did-I-take-last-night? hangover and an empty bed. With any luck, he'd slept through everything Roda had done in the last hour and would never realise just who he'd shagged senseless the night before. Or if he did, he'd kept his mouth shut; he'd not said anything the last time they'd met this way and so long as this part of Roda's timeline remained unsullied then the first step of his plan would go without a hitch.

“Redjay, one, Gallifrey, nil.”

Taking in the Time Agent's naked form one last time with an appreciative sigh, Roda bit down a pang of longing. John Hart – or Will Wolfram as he'd called himself, when they first met – all psychopathic tendencies aside, was damned good in bed but he wasn't the Time Agent that Roda wanted. Not the one he would have liked to have been under earlier that night, moaning and grasping at the sheets as he had his way with him. But Jack was centuries and light years away. What would he say if he knew what Roda was up to now? That Roda was still alive, had lied to him, lied to so many people? That he might not make it out of all this alive to apologise? Shaking his head, Roda tried to push the thought to the back of his mind as his hearts ached. He'd given up a lot of things to do... whatever he was doing. He only hoped that it was worth it, in the end. It had to be, if losing Jack, losing them all, was the price.

Roda swung his legs over the side of the bed, shaking those thoughts out of his head. This was supposed to be a victory, wasn't it? As he stood up his heels brushed against the bag he'd haphazardly tossed under the bed the night before, arms wrapped around John. He crouched down, pulling it back towards him with one hand while scratching his jaw with the other. There wasn't much inside; a change of clothes, some threadbare red feathers, a dog-eared copy of some terrible novel he'd picked up out of boredom the day before. Turning the book over in his hands, he smirked at the title. Sleeping Beauty. He left it on the pillow beside John, a little something to remember Roda by, and started to get dressed. Bare toes wriggled against the cold wooden ground of the cheap motel room and he sat down on the bed again as soon as he could, scowling at his feet. Somehow it hadn't seemed so cold when he'd gotten into bed, but he supposed he'd been rather preoccupied with John.

The, uh, with the plan.

He thumbed the button on his trousers into place as he held the data stick up in front of his face, studying it intently. It didn't look like much, just a little piece of plastic with a motherboard inside but this little beauty was going to bring down a government and more importantly, it was going to be the death of Roda. In just under six hours a young Time Lady was going to land in Citizen Park with a smile on her face. She was going to siphon some fuel for her TARDIS, get a bite to eat, and maybe find out what the big deal was about 51st century near-humans. (Were they really as good in bed as everyone had said? Well, that was going to be an education eventually.) She'd be there for an hour, maybe two at the most, and then she'd be on her way to the next 'big adventure' that a TARDIS license with the ink barely dried led her to. Or at least, that's what she thought was going to happen. The Time Agency was going to have other ideas. After all, hadn't she just broken into the Bank of the Colonies? An anonymous tip had told them where they'd find their eight billion missing credits... and if she wouldn't talk, they had ways to make sure she did.

Roda cringed, one hand ghosting to his shoulder. Even seven regenerations on – and Rassilon's balls, but he had had far worse deaths since then – he still felt the phantom pains from being shot. It hadn't been the wound so much as it had the shock of it all; at the ripe young age of barely two hundred she'd assumed that she was invincible. Of course, that had all come crashing down around her pretty quickly after being tortured for information she didn't have, and by the time that her trial came around and she'd been exiled from Gallifrey Roda had become pretty jaded about life in general. After all if her life was going to be ruined by all these crimes she hadn't committed, then she might as well stop trying to play the good little Time Lady and just do whatever the Skaro she liked.

“And to think all this time, I was framing myself...”

Chuckling darkly under his breath Roda swept the laptop off the table and into the bag, throwing it over his shoulder and standing up in one smooth movement. He grunted as it bounced against his back, watching John roll over and nuzzle into the pillow. There it was again, that twinge of guilt; would stealing the data stick from John catch up to him, too? Then again, if he hadn't stolen it in the first place… Roda shook his head. There wasn’t time for things like guilt. This regeneration didn’t have time to feel guilty. There was far too much work to be done, too much crime to be committed, and this regeneration could feel guilty when it was all over, or when they were dead.

Whichever came first. Forcing himself not to look back Roda crouched down to pick up John’s discarded clothes, rifling through his pocket for… ah, there they were. He shoved the gold shirt and trousers under one arm and flexed the handcuffs with a cheeky smirk. Whatever it was John had taken last night before Roda had showed up had done wonders in bed but had knocked the Time Agent right out when the fun was over. With a little luck and a lot of sleight of hand, Roda managed to manhandle John’s hands to one side of the headboard and cuff him into place, just in case he woke up too soon. He’d wake up in the morning thinking Roda was a kinky bastard and hopefully by the time he realised just what else was missing other than his pride Roda would be long gone, planets and years away. He would lie low for a little bit, Roda decided. Set the TARDIS to take him somewhere he’d never been before and check on his plan later; it didn’t really matter when ‘later today’ was so long as Roda returned to the Peninsula on the right date, and the day you died was never going to be one you’d forget. None of the days that you died, for that matter.

Fully dressed, Roda reached for the rest of his belongings, tightening the bracelet around his wrist as he did so. It was a simple leather design, brown, but made for a smaller wrist and so it had come loose in the middle of wrestling John. Roda tugged at it with forefinger and thumb and teeth until the disguised perception filter was snug against his skin once again, and after a moment trying to remember which of the two was his buckled the correct vortex manipulator onto his wrist on top of it. He really was a bit of a kleptomaniac this time around, Roda realised. The Seeker’s bracelet, Jack’s vortex manipulator (both would have found alternatives, he was sure, although Roda hoped that the vortex manipulator disappearance hadn’t tipped either of them off about Roda’s continued survival), and now, as he shrugged it over his shoulders, John’s beautiful jacket. Well at least two out of three of his thefts were functional. Oh, and then there was the data stick… he’d have to throw that into the Medusa Cascade on the way.

Littering. What a strange crime to add to his list.

His revolver he shoved into the waistband of his trousers as he began to studiously fold the remainder of John’s clothes, as quietly as he could, and place them on the end of the bed. He’d already input the coordinates for his TARDIS into the vortex manipulator - it was a brilliant plan B for those days where everything-went-wrong and Roda almost wished he’d hunted one down before - and it only took a few seconds more for him to flip it open, press a few buttons, and materialise inside his somewhat disgruntled TARDIS before he got too sentimental. Roda patted the glass console-top with a murmur of greeting, well aware that his TARDIS wasn’t going to be entirely happy with him for a good while to come; the TARDIS missed Jack as much as Roda did, and was equally uncomfortable about deceiving the Seeker. And then there was the minor detail of just what Roda was doing, which the TARDIS didn’t agree with at all.

On the other hand, it was so relieved Roda was alive that it couldn’t bring itself to sulk too much, and it only took a little bit of coaxing for Roda to pilot it into the Vortex before sinking into the captain’s chair with a quiet sigh. Yes, Roda needed a little time to himself, a little time to switch off. He kicked his feet up onto the console - ignoring the whirr of resignation that came from his TARDIS - and flexed his agile fingers until they cracked. But just where to go? It had to be somewhere that he’d not been before, somewhere that no one might think to look for him, if they had any suspicion he was alive. The thought brought a pang of pain to both his hearts, but he did his best to bite it down and stow it tightly in the box he’d built within himself. He’d brought this loneliness on himself, had he not? Self-exile for the Exile… it would have been poetic, were it not so bittersweet.

“Where to, mon amie Take me where I need to go.”

The TARDIS didn’t need asking twice.