Against All We Know

They Don't Understand You

Remember, set post Day of the Doctor. :)

Kate woke up to the sound of surprised yelling coming from the kitchen.

She got dressed more quickly than she could ever recall doing before, and ran out into the kitchen only to let out a shocked exclamation of her own.

The Rani, clothed in a small robe from Kate's own wardrobe, was holding a book in her hand and talking to none other than Kate's son, Gordon, whose arms were laden with grocery bags.

"Gordon?!" Kate asked, gaping.

He turned to look at her, seeming quite relieved. "Mum. I was just-"

"Enquiring about my identity," The Rani added.

"This is Rani," Kate said quickly, "She-"

"Was just getting another book," The Time Lady explained, "I was coming back."

The blonde resisted the urge to melt into the floor. She looked at her son and tried to figure out what on earth she was going to say. His brown eyes - so similar to hers - were full of confusion and embarrassment. It was clear that he had an idea of what he had interrupted, even if he didn't quite understand.

"What are you doing here?" She asked him. He smiled sheepishly.

"I had my key. I was going to make dinner and surprise you. You're usually at work, so-"

"We're under quarantine," She said quickly, "That's why the Rani's here. She's a scientist from work. She couldn't go home but we had to isolate everyone for 48 hours, so I said that she could stay here."

"Quarantine?"

"Don't worry, you're probably fine," The Rani told him, "No effects on humans yet."

"Rani, could you just...get dressed?" Kate asked quietly, shutting her eyes and trying not to convey her mortification. The brunette shrugged and went into the bedroom to do just that. The moment she was gone, Kate sighed heavily and sat down on a dining chair. "I know what it looks like-"

"Are you going to try and tell me it's not?" Gordon was obviously amused despite his shared embarrassment. He sat down at the dining table opposite her. "We're both adults here, Mum. It's okay. Just not what I was expecting from my workaholic mother."

"I wasn't lying, you know, she is here because of work."

"Maybe. But she said she was 'coming back', and she went into your bedroom to get dressed."

Kate groaned and brought her hand to her face. "God. What did she say when you came in?"

"She said, 'oh, you must be Gordon'. And then she asked if I made a habit of visiting my mother's home when she wasn't expecting me."

It was awful but Kate couldn't help but laugh, albeit with horror. "Oh...she is too clever for her own good. Mind you, I suppose it's not difficult to see the resemblance." It was true. In addition to having her eyes, Gordon also had her wispy blonde hair and her mouth. But he didn't have her nose - it was entirely his father's.

"She's...a character, for sure. Also, why do you have a cupboard in the middle of your living room?"

"Um...no reason," Kate said quickly, knowing how ridiculous she sounded.

"Also...why did you call her the Rani, before?"

"It's complicated. Sort of an inside joke." They lapsed into silence and Gordon studied his mother carefully while she just continued to try and hide how mortified she was by the whole thing.

"So...how long has this been going on, then?" He finally asked. "You always said that with your job, you never had time for…"

"For what?" Kate couldn't help how tired her voice sounded. "A relationship? I'm not so sure what this even is, Gordon. Please don't try and understand it because I don't yet. She's..."

"A woman?" It was easy to tell that he was teasing because of the gleam in his eye.

She chuckled reluctantly. The whole situation was so ridiculous that it felt good to finally be acknowledging it with someone who meant the world to her. "She's difficult."

"A bit younger than you too."

That time, Kate properly laughed because of how untrue the statement actually was. "Oh, you'd be surprised."

That was when the Rani reentered the room, wearing new clothes that were again from Kate's wardrobe. The only other pair of jeans that Kate owned, as well as one of her white blouses. It looked a little out of place on her, but the Rani could have been wearing a sack of potatoes or a ballgown and she wouldn't have worn them any differently.

Gordon had apparently picked up on the owner of the clothes, because he lifted an eyebrow at his mother and didn't bother to hide his smirk.

The Rani joined them at the table. "Well, as first meetings go, that was certainly interesting."

"I'm glad you enjoyed it," Kate muttered.

"It could have been worse," The other woman told her logically, "He could have been the Doctor."

Kate went pale. "Oh god. No. Please let's not go there." Gordon just grinned, still not ashamed of how much he was enjoying the entire situation. "Gordon, I am your mother, you should find this a lot more disturbing."

He just shook his head. "I'm nearly thirty, Mum. I'm old enough to be able to see the funny side of this."

The Rani smirked. "You're not quite what I expected."

"Well, I didn't expect you at all, so I guess we're even." The two of them laughed while Kate just dropped her head onto the table and wondered when her life had turned insane.

"So do you have anything to do with the cupboard in the middle of the living room?" Gordon asked the Rani, who just lifted an eyebrow and had a secretive smile to match.

After nearly twenty minutes that Kate could have definitely have gone without in her life, Gordon left with plans to come back later that night for dinner. The moment the door shut, Kate breathed a sigh of relief.

"I think I can confidently say...that was the most awkward thing to ever happen to me," She said to the Rani as she sank into the couch. "He does these spontaneous dinners about twice a year. His timing is commendable for sure."

"Embarrassed for him to meet the alien woman you've had in your bed for the last 24 hours?"

"You haven't been in there the whole 24 hours," Kate said, turning red, only to almost laugh, "And it was the shower too." The Rani snorted ungraciously just as Kate buried her hands in her hands. "Oh god, what's wrong with me?"

"You're just being honest with yourself, finally," came the reply of the woman who had come to sit down next to her. "You didn't say anything that wasn't true."

"But it's not me," Kate said earnestly, "I'm the Head of Scientific Research at UNIT. My job is to manage how we defend this country and world from alien threats. And I'm sleeping with one."

"I'm not a threat," The Rani said, her lip curling as distaste soaked her words, "I could be, but I'm not. And I have no near plans to change that."

"Good, because you turning around and deciding to experiment on us all would probably be the last straw in my downward spiral of insanity." Kate rubbed her temples. "Don't get me wrong, I don't actually think I'd change any of the last 24 hours, aside from Gordon, but that doesn't mean it isn't insane."

"Sometimes what seem to be the maddest things end up being the most beneficial."

"I don't need you getting philosophical on me, Rani."

"I was merely sharing some insight." The Rani got up. "Well, since you were clear enough that I was going to be gone by the time Gordon came back, but I can't actually leave in case you start frothing at the mouth and need my help, I'll be in my lab."

"Oh. Right. Did you want company, or…?"

The Rani shook her head. "I need some intensive experiment time to myself. I've been deprived of it for about 40 hours as it is because you wanted me to stay in bed with you - which for the record, don't you be expecting me to do that. If I want to, I will, but most likely I won't, alright?"

Kate frowned, but didn't let her disappointment show. She tried not to let the smidge of rejection affect her, because she knew it wasn't her, it was just how she was and how she would always be. The Rani wasn't domestic, she was an alien time-travelling scientist, and pretending otherwise would never work out.

"Alright," She said quietly. "I have paperwork that I need to do anyway."

"You'd better not sulk, it's unattractive."

Kate waved her hand impatiently. "Just go and play science. I'm going to call into London HQ, see if we've had any reported effects yet."

So the Time Lady went into her TARDIS and the human went to her phone. A quick call to HQ confirmed no effects reported on any of the workers who had gone into their self-quarantine. Another call was necessary, though, and this time to Osgood.

"Kate!" The girl's cheery voice exclaimed. "It's really good to hear from you, I was starting to get worried. I mean, not really, you'd have reported in if something had been wrong, but 40 hours is a long time when you're usually here 24/7...not that you don't have a life because I'm sure you totally do, it's just-"

"Osgood, inhaler," Kate said, wanting to laugh. She hadn't realised until that moment, but she'd really missed the girl's bubbly personality and awkwardness. It was so different to dealing with the Rani that even just hearing her voice on the phone was relaxing and refreshing. "It's fine. I'm fine, you're fine. How's things there?"

"All fine here too. But I think the Doctor might have tried to contact you, is all."

"Is all? The Doctor is somewhat a significant person to be trying to contact me. What happened?"

"Well, it could have been an error. But that space-time telegraph, it had a long blip, and then it went quiet. I don't really know what to make of it. Sorry."

"Just let me know if there's any more activity, otherwise we won't worry about it until this quarantine period is over. You keep handling things there, it sounds like you're doing a good job."

"Alright, I will. Thanks!"

She hung up and Kate fetched the stack of paperwork from her bedroom and brought it to the dining table. For two hours she merely sat there and worked through it. When she felt a pair of cool hands on her shoulders, she jumped near out of her seat.

The Rani smirked. "Goodness you humans can be unobservant. It's almost impressive, in a backward sort of way."

"I was completely focussed on my work."

"I can tell, you've got enough tension in your shoulders to make even someone like you or the Doctor mildly dangerous." Her hands spread out across the backs of Kate's shoulders. "I could try and help with that, if you like. I know enough about the human body to know where massaging is most effective."

Kate momentarily blanked, and was glad the Rani couldn't see her face. "Er, that's not necessary, Rani, I'd never ask you to-"

"You didn't. I offered. And if I didn't want to, then I wouldn't have."

Well, that's a very good point. She'd hardly offer out of a sense of obligation, Kate considered. "Alright then. I'll be honest, that sounds rather welcome."

With the verbal confirmation, the Rani's hands slid under the back of her shirt to press into the skin that lay there. As claimed, they knew exactly where to go and where to apply the pressure. An involuntary and utterly embarrassing noise that was half a sigh and half a moan escaped Kate's lips.

The Rani chuckled. "Very welcome, apparently."

"I love my job, I do, but...the pressure is immense," Kate admitted, "I've never admitted it so plainly to anyone. But-"

"Who am I going to tell?"

"Well, exactly," The blonde agreed, her lips twitching. "In a way, you're sort of...easier to be around of others. When you're not trying to teach me advanced scientific theories, you don't expect anything from me."

"If you get under this sort of stress, why not get regular massages from a professional?"

Kate thought about it, trying to work out how put her reservations into words. "It always seemed strange to pay for a stranger to put their hands on me."

"But naturally an alien with a questionable past is absolutely fine, and free of charge," the Rani said wryly, making Kate laugh.

"As long as I don't tell my Doctor, I think it will be fine," She joked.

"That would be a conversation worth hearing." The Rani chuckled as they both imagined the scenario in their heads, "No doubt he'd turn an impressive shade of red and attempt to scold you. Then he'd ask me my intentions."

"And what are your intentions?" Kate asked lightly, enjoying the lightness of the conversation and the ease with which it was coming.

The alien woman's lips were suddenly next to her ear. "Partial education, mild irritation and continuous seduction." With that, the ease of the conversation disappeared and Kate found herself swallowing slowly.

"Well, the last part can be our little secret," She said.

The Rani's fingertips brushed across the skin of her shoulders with a new and sensual intent. "Is that what I am, Kate? Your dirty little secret?"

Kate turned her head to look up at her. "Is that a problem?"

The Rani's mouth - which was again painted crimson - turned upward in a smile. "No. Are you done with the paperwork?"

"Oh god yes," Kate breathed, getting out of her chair and immediately pulling the Rani in for a long, hungry kiss. Then the Rani smirked at her and they exchanged several more lingering kisses before starting to undress each other and heading towards the bedroom.

A dinner with Gordon, a chemical contamination report and a fortnight later, Kate Stewart and the Rani had found a sort of routine. Kate would go to work and the Rani would go in some days to work as 'Doctor Rani Frey'. They would sometimes meet for lunch but more often than not leave each other to it and just share a few secret glances and smiles if they passed each other in the hallways or in meetings.

But the Rani had taken to parking her TARDIS outside Kate's apartment, after the human woman had insisted that she didn't want the cupboard taking up space that she didn't have.

One late afternoon after a particularly hectic day where some experimental alien adaptive tech had done very wrong, Kate and the Rani entered the latter's TARDIS instead of the former's apartment.

"Now no one knows where to find me," Kate said with a sigh of relief as they came into the console room, "I'm not risking a midnight call for some national crisis. All I want to do is sleep."

"After today, I can't say that I blame you. I'll actually join you, I think."

"Can I have a tour first? The other time I only really got to see one of your labs and that kitchen."

So the two of them went through the plain grey corridors of the TARDIS, past more labs and sample rooms than Kate could keep count of, half a dozen more kitchens, four bathrooms with showers that Kate had unabashedly looked at longingly.

Finally they stopped outside a plain wooden door. Kate looked at it expectantly.

"What's this?"

"End of the line, for now." The Rani pushed the door open to reveal a dimly lit, windowless bedroom that was small and cosy. It looked incredibly inviting, particularly the queen sized bed dominating the space of the room. "Will it work?"

"No complaints from me," Kate said, eyeing it with approval and wanting to breathe out a sigh of relief just from looking at the bed.

The Rani smirked. "Of course, there's only one way to be entirely sure."

Kate grinned and pulled her by the shirt towards the bed.

Clara Oswald was not, to put it very simply, having a good morning. After the Doctor had lost his bowtie in a duel on Metabelius II, he had insisted on dragging her around an endless parade of London's shops in search of another one. It was raining, they were soaked, and still no bowtie had met his criteria.

She was just about ready to scream at him with utter frustration when he came to a complete halt in the middle of the footpath.

"Something's off," He said suddenly, "Something doesn't smell right." He sniffed dramatically and did a 180 degree spin on his heel before walking off back in the direction that they had come. Ten metres back stood a red telephone box that bore a 'out of order' sign taped to the inside of the door.

"Doctor, I'm wet and cold and I want to go home," She complained, shivering in her jacket and curling up her toes in her boots. He ignored her and instead licked the telephone box. The look on his face was almost comical in how it changed so quickly to show his blatant shock. "Why are you licking a broken telephone box?"

"Because it's not a telephone box," He said slowly, with the strangest expression on his face, "It's a TARDIS."

Clara blinked. "What, like yours?"

"Yeah, only not mine."

"But that's not possible...is it?"

He swallowed and shrugged helplessly. "If I did save Gallifrey, then it's a bit more possible than it was before. But still extremely impossible. And what's it doing here?" He tried the door of the box and it wouldn't budge. So he took the sonic to it and immediately it swung open. "Well, whoever it belongs to needs to upgrade their security. Come on, Clara. Let's find them and ask them how the hell they managed this." Reluctantly, she followed him inside and he shut the door behind her. They stood in the telephone box and Clara looked up at him with a raised eyebrow.

"This is feeling an awful lot like a real telephone box," She said.

He just gave her a smug look and pushed on the wall with the phone. It gave way into a console room of grey and pearly silver, round with a console dominating the space. A wall of jars containing god knew what was to their left. Silver loops were entwined atop the console, quite different from the column of the Doctor's own.

"Wow, it's so different, but you can tell it's the same sort of thing," Clara said, wide-eyed and grinning.

"I know this TARDIS," the Doctor murmured from beside her, "I'd know this TARDIS anywhere, and this is not in any sort of measure good."

"Why not? Whose is it?"

"The Rani," He answered, "Brilliant biochemist. Was exiled from Gallifrey back in the day, but called back for the war. Some of her chemical inventions won us victories. I stood back to back with her, trying to save an innocent planet from destruction. Her, me and the Corsair." His eyes had gone far away, the kind of far away that made Clara wonder if she'd ever reach him. But then he was back. "But her morals are twisted, Clara. She sees human beings like cattle for her to experiment on. Lower species aren't important to her. Once I had to stop her from extracting a chemical from the brain that promotes sleep in people. The men she experimented on were rioting in the streets because of it, but she'd chosen a time of rioting to cover her tracks."

"Blimey." Clara bit her lip. "Not the one you'd hope to make it out, then."

"It could be worse," He admitted, "It really depends on what she's doing here. The war might have changed her outlook on things." He pressed a few buttons on the console before nodding. "The ship confirms that there are two Time Lords on board, which means she's here. Let's go find her and have a chat. One thing you have to give her credit for is that she doesn't usually try and kill me."

"Always a plus."

The two of them set off along the stark corridors only for the Doctor to stop. "I can sense her. Not sure why I couldn't before, but it's there." An odd smile graced his features, strangely innocent and like that of a child. "My head's not quite empty. It's been...so long."

Clara looked at him. "So, if she's not wanting to experiment on people, then this might be a good thing?"

He frowned, coming to his senses. "Let's not go that far. She's still dangerous and far too clever." He shut his eyes and concentrated for a moment. "I think she's this way." He set off around the corner and the brunette girl hurried after him. After a few more minutes, he came to stop outside a wooden door. "In here. I think I know why I couldn't sense her...I think she might be asleep, it would explain why her mind is so quiet." He paused and smiled slightly, with a sort of self amusement. "The Rani sleeping. Some things are just weird, you know?"

He pushed the door open and he and Clara went inside what was sure enough a bedroom. It was a decent size but cozy. The bed against the wall was in slight chaos, with the covers tangled so that they couldn't see the bed's occupant. The Doctor and Clara didn't go any closer.

"Rani! Wake up, we need to talk," The former said loudly. From under/behind the covers a groan could be heard, and a head emerged. An auburn-haired woman in a state of sleepy disarray stared at them with piercing grey eyes for a moment before her face twisted into a glare.

"Doctor!" She hissed. "What in the name of sanity are you doing in here?!"

But before he could answer, another head popped up from under the covers, a blonde one which Clara realised with a jolt she recognised. Kate Lethbridge-Stewart.

"What's going on?" The UNIT official asked the other woman, still not quite awake, and Clara realised that neither of them were wearing anything underneath the bed covers. Next to her, it seemed the Doctor had come to the same conclusion and covered his eyes even though they were both suitably covered.

"Kate?!"

"Doctor?!"

"Kate…"

"Clara…"

"Doctor!"

"Rani!"

By the time it was out of their systems, Clara was more embarrassed than she could ever recall being in her life, the two Time Lords were glaring at each other, and a mortified Kate had simply let her face fall into the bed covers in front of her and didn't seem to have any intention of showing it again for another decade or so.

The Doctor, who was flustered and pink with anger, just said, in a carefully modulated tone, "Clara and I are going to make some tea in the nearest kitchen. Get some clothes on and join us ASAP." When the Rani cocked a challenging eyebrow at him, he added, "Please."

Then he and Clara hurried from the room.

"Please tell me that I'm dreaming, please tell me that that didn't just happen."

The Rani didn't answer Kate's question, she instead moved from the bed and started to dress. Kate slowly looked up from the bed covers.

"This is so much worse than Gordon," She groaned, running a hand through her short hair.

"I knew I should have upgraded the security," the Rani cursed. "That damn screwdriver of his...oh get up, Stewart, be brave and face up to this." Kate just glared until the Rani amended, "Kate."

With that, the blonde also began to get dressed in yesterday's clothes. She moved to the full length mirror and tried to tame her bed hair. When she turned around, the Rani stood dressed and mostly groomed, her hair back in her long, tight braid. A few stray strands had escaped it, and Kate had to fight the very domestic urge to put them in their rightful place. But the thought of how the Rani might react to Kate trying to groom her helped considerably.

"Well, time to face the music, I suppose," She murmured, and deliberately composed her face in the same way she did when having to deal with hostile aliens or haughty UNIT officials from Geneva.

The two women left the bedroom and walked down to the kitchen at the end of the corridor. It was more cheerful and less generic than Kate had expected, in comparison to the rest of the Rani's TARDIS.

They lingered in the doorway, and Clara met Kate's eyes from the bar stool she was sitting on. She gave her a funny smile which conveyed some sympathy but also confusion and reservation. That was when the Rani suddenly turned to Kate, held her cheek firmly, and kissed her. The human quickly realised that it was strategic rather than affectionate, deliberate in front of the Doctor to make a point. Then the Time Lady released her and moved to stand against the kitchen wall, away from anyone else in the room.

Kate, managing to keep her face composed, approached the other bar stool by Clara and sat down next to the girl. The Doctor, who was leaning against the kitchen cupboards, continued to watch them silently, a frown stuck to his face.

Finally, he spoke. "So, I don't think I would be out of line to ask what the hell is going on."

"No, compared to breaking and entering, it's really quite tame of you," the Rani retorted. "Or waking me from a much needed sleep. You never did have any manners when it came to letting me get on with what I was doing."

"Besides," Kate said, having gained enough courage to speak, "It's perfectly clear what's going on, I highly doubt you require us to explain it to you." Next to her, Clara looked like she was hiding a grin, probably because she knew the situation really wasn't supposed to be funny.

"Kate, I don't know how this happened, but I can't condone this," the Doctor said.

Kate lifted an eyebrow. "I'm sorry if you're under the impression that your status gives you the right to interfere in my life but that is not the case. I'm in no way under your authority, except occasionally in matters of the safety of the Earth."

"But - but - Kate!" He protested, starting to flap his hands about. "You don't know her, she's not a good person. If you knew the things she's done-"

"You mean like human experimentation resulting in aggression and riots?" Kate asked mildly. That made him pause, so she tried again. "Or causing you to regenerate? Or a couple of instances of murder?"

"You know?"

"From the moment we met, she never bothered to hide it."

The Rani smirked. "I wasn't ashamed of it, so why would I?"

"Still, though, Head of Scientific Research at UNIT and a morally ambiguous alien…" Clara said, eyeing them both, "There's got to be a story there."

"My TARDIS malfunctioned. I kept running into her, and she worked out immediately what I was. She was the only interesting person in the entire city," the Rani explained.

"I invited her to lunch, and she decided to perform a sort of investigation," Kate added, reaching for one of the prepared cups of tea, "To see if by investigating a single human, she could see what it is that you see in humanity, Doctor."

He looked to the Rani with quiet interest. "Three guesses who the human was. Am I right?"

"I would never have predicted it and still can't fully explain it, but...some things just happen, Doctor," Kate told him, and he nodded slightly, still looking troubled.

"Kate...can I speak to you alone, please?"

The Rani rolled your eyes. "Or rather, without me. Do what you like. I'm going to my lab. I don't enjoy your company anyway." She left the room, leaving the atmosphere even more thick than when she had been there.

"She's...interesting," Clara said, in an attempt to lighten the mood.

"That would be the right word for it," Kate muttered into her tea, making Clara smile with that same sympathy and amusement.

"Complicated relationship?"

"What do you think?" Kate asked ironically. "I'm not even sure I could call it a relationship. I don't know what it is, it just...is."

The Doctor approached the counter they were sitting at and planted his hands on it. "Kate, she's dangerous. Even if she's been honest about some of her past, you can't trust her. What's stopping her experimenting on London? Or are you alright with that now? Has she twisted your brain completely?"

"Of course not," Kate snapped, "What's stopping her is that she promised me that she wouldn't. That's good enough for me."

"You can't stop an amoral scientist from doing her work by making her promise."

"Maybe you can't."

"Kate, you don't know her."

Kate stared evenly at him. "I know her perfectly well. She's like a cat." The Doctor and Clara both looked at her as if she'd gone insane. "She's beautiful and brilliant and you get strangely attached to her even when you know that there's a good chance she doesn't care about you very much. You can't make her stay when she doesn't want to. She needs time to be herself and do her own things. It's about understanding enough to wait for her to come back, because she always will." Then she began to sip at her tea again. "And if you think she's going to stay away from me just because you say so then you really aren't as clever as I thought."

Clara smiled at her before looking at the Doctor. "Doctor, is it possible that you're wrong about this Rani woman? Kate seems to have it all worked out."

He stared at his companion. "Clara! I think I would know more-"

"Yes, but you can't be perfect at everything," Kate said rather wickedly, smirking at him. He gaped.

"Kate Lethbridge-Stewart, if your father could see you now-"

"Don't bring my father into this," She said with cold firmness, "My dealings with the Rani started in an attempt to make her an ally of this country and this world. He'd be proud of me for that."

"And for falling into bed with her?" He asked sarcastically. "Would he be proud of that too?"

"He always trusted my judgement," Kate retorted, "Can you say the same? On either account?"

The Doctor just glared, while she stared defiantly back at him. Eventually, Clara just groaned.

"Oh my god, stop it, the pair of you!" She told them both, looking between them incredulously. "Look at yourselves. You two had the utmost respect for each other, you were on great terms, and now you're falling out over who Kate wants to snog?"

"Clara, with respect," He tried to say, "I don't think you-"

"You said yourself that the war might have changed the Rani, yeah? Besides, she'd be a different regeneration from the ones you knew, and I know that means her personality is a bit different too."

"But-"

"And do you really think so little of Kate that you don't think she would have been sure about the Rani's intentions before getting close to her at all?"

The Doctor pressed his mouth shut, while Kate looked to Clara with relief and gratitude. "Thank you, Clara," She said, smiling at the girl, who just nodded and smiled back.

"That's what I'm here for. I'm the boss."

"Really?" Kate asked, laughing. "That must be nice. I try to be, but the Rani doesn't like to be told what to do."

Clara made a face. "No, I can imagine."

Meanwhile, the Doctor slipped out of the room and headed off in the direction of the lab.

The Doctor thought that he had seen it all, but Kate Stewart in bed with the Rani would probably have to take the cake as officially the strangest thing to ever happen in the history of the universe. Could it be true? Was the Rani trying to turn over a new leaf? Or was the Rani simply postponing her experiments until her interactions with Kate were over?

He strode down the corridor, seeking the lab where the Rani had said she was going to be. When he finally got there, the Rani was mixing chemicals and facing away from him, but he knew that she knew he was there.

"So, have you turned her against me yet?" She asked him, surprisingly calm.

"Couldn't even if I wanted to," He said honestly, "Also, Clara took her side."

When she turned around, he thought he saw a tiny smile playing on her lips. "Interesting."

"Her father was one of my best friends," the Doctor said seriously, coming in to the room properly, "I feel responsible for her, in a way. She trusts you. Don't throw that back in her face."

"I have no intentions to."

Their eyes met, and the Doctor searched her grey ones for signs of lying, but found nothing. Just smugness. "I really hope that you're not playing some sort of game."

"As if this is my style of trickery," the Rani scoffed, "I'm just as surprised at this turn of events as you are, Doctor."

"What is this turn of events, though? What exactly is going on between the two of you?"

"Nothing that's any of your business."

There was a long silence before the Doctor was suddenly hit again by the fact that there was another Time Lord, alive, and standing in front of him. Almost all thought of Kate Lethbridge-Stewart vanished.

"Rani...how did you get here?"

"After you managed to save Gallifrey, I found a way back into this universe."

"How?"

"There was a crack. I've no idea where it came from but it was just big enough to get the ships through. But there's a chance the Chancellor might have seen me, so I'll warn you now that they might try something."

"So I really did it? Gallifrey's really saved?"

"Yes." The Rani glanced at him, eyes deliberating. "I suppose I should thank you, as my life comes under that."

"Are you going to?"

Her mouth twitched. "No, I don't think so."

He sighed. "No, I didn't think so either." Somehow it seemed easier to talk to her now, when he wasn't interrupting one of her schemes. It was almost like talking to his friend from the Academy, to Ushas. "Rani...how are you? I mean, the war, after it I-"

"I survived, what else matters?" She asked irritably, but a slight falter in her voice betrayed her. He took a step closer.

"A lot. The Time War devastated all of us, anything you're feeling is completely justified."

"I'm not feeling anything!" She shouted, pushing him away and glaring. "Don't try and make this some sappy confession. I am not Romanadvoratrelundar."

The name struck him completely still and made his hearts ache. "I...I know."

"Do you? Trying to get me to open up, just because we're the only two around?" She mocked him. "I'm still the Rani, you blundering idiot. If you want someone to pour out their hearts and have your arms around them until it's all better, I suggest you go and find Gallifrey and get your little Lady President back."

All the Doctor could do was stare. "I-why do you have to be like this?"

"Because I don't like you, you imbecile, and I want you gone."

He rolled his eyes. "And I want you away from Kate, but it doesn't look like we can all get what we want."

"Out of my TARDIS. Now. I may not harm Kate but I could poison the entirety of UNIT staff if I were in the mood, and your presence is sending me in the right direction," the Rani snarled. He just shook his head from side to side, eyes frustrated and melancholic at the same time.

"Fine," he said, rather bitterly, "Fine. Reject the only person who could understand you properly. See if I care."

She just narrowed her eyes. "No one could understand me properly, but if someone could, it wouldn't be you. Now get out of my TARDIS and take your human with you."

The Doctor strode to the doorway, but turned back to her. "If you harm one hair on her head-"

"Kate doesn't need you protecting her, and if you saw her for herself and not just your friend's daughter, you might realise it."

He frowned, opened his mouth, then shut it and headed off down the corridor. All he could do was hope that Kate truly could hold her own. With the Rani at her side, she would need to.


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