“You would not lie with me?” Leela asked, crossing her arms. “Not even if it would save his life?”
“Och, it’s not that,” Jamie protested. “It’s just. I don’t even know y’!”
“Jamie,” his Doctor said pointedly, “you don’t have to do this.”
“Yes, I do Doctor,” he replied hotly. “Don’t see no way ‘round it!”
“He’s got a point,” Leela’s Doctor said brightly. “After all, I’m here, and won’t be for very long if these two lively chaps get their way.” He smiled a broad, toothy smile at the two guards who were keeping Jamie and Leela at bay with nasty looking ray guns. “I admit I do have some interest in keeping myself alive.”
“But clearly you’ve lived if y’ can be him,” Jamie said, gesturing to the taller of the Doctors. “I jus’ don’t wanna have t’ go through with this.”
“Then you condemn him to death,” Leela stated.
“No, no!” Jamie protested, quickly putting himself between the Doctors and the guards. “But it doesn’t make sense! There must be some other way!”
“There is no other way,” the guard said. “Your time is up. Have you made your choice?”
As Jamie looked about to protest, Leela stepped forward, grabbed his arm, and pulled him back. “We will do it,” she said. “But we need time to prepare.”
“You have ten minutes,” the guard said.
He remained standing there, covering Leela and Jamie with his gun, while the other guard went to re-secure the bindings on the Doctors’ arms. Both men had their hands lashed together with sturdy electrical rope, which was then hoisted through a loop in the wall over their heads. Their legs were bound in a similar manner. It was clear neither had any hope of escaping.
Leela began undoing the lacing to her wrist guards as Jamie watched. “Oh, I see!” he said excitedly. “Y’ve got a wee knife stashed up y’r sleeve, haven’t y’?” He crouched down beside the woman. “They took all mine; th’ ones hidden in me boots too.”
Leela gave him a withering glare. “Is it not customary for your people to remove their clothing when lying together?”
Jamie was back on his feet as though he’d been scalded by hot water. “Not still on about that then, are y’?” he moaned. His eyes traveled to look at his Doctor, strung up like a pig to the slaughter. “Y’ve got t’ have some idea for escape, Doctor,” he whined.
“Generally, Jamie,” his Doctor patiently said, “we discuss these sorts of details when the guards aren’t present.”
“Oh, right,” he replied, turning to smile nervously at the guard. He redirected his gaze back to his Doctor. “But they’re not goin’ nowhere. Y’ve got t’ have some trick up y’r sleeve, don’t y’, Doctor?”
“I’m afraid not, Jamie,” he said forlornly.
There was a rustling behind him and whatever the taller of the Doctors had been about to say died on his lips as the man suddenly averted his eyes. Jamie’s Doctor did so almost immediately after. Baffled, Jamie spun around to find Leela rising from having picked up her leather tunic, which she’d just taken off.
“Hold on a minute!” Jamie cried, but couldn’t help the descent of his eyes as they swept over Leela’s terribly firmed body. He very quickly forced himself to stare into her eyes. “I haven’t agreed yet!”
She approached him languidly, eyeing him carefully. “You wish for them to die?”
“No, not ever! Of course not,” he said, looking away from her. “Put that thing back on,” he muttered. “I cannae look at y’ like that.”
“Your eyes don’t need to be open,” she said pointedly.
“Oh, all right,” he snapped. “But we’re doin’ this on my terms, lassie, y’ hear?” He looked at her again. “Now, put that back on.”
“Perhaps you misunderstand what they wish for us to do?” Leela asked. “It does require us to disrobe.”
“Oh, I know all right what it is they’ve in mind,” Jamie scowled. “And it don’t require that much disrobing. The Doctors and th’ guards ’re goin’ t’ have t’ watch, y’ know. Best we make it less revealing.”
Leela held out her tunic, debating whether or not to redress. “I don’t understand.”
“Look, just put it back on.” He touched her, pushing her away a bit. As she pulled the leather garment back up, he said, “I’ll just lift me kilt up a bit, y’ see? Be easier that way.”
“You wish to make it a vulgar act,” Leela started, turning her back to him as she securely retied the leather fastenings into a knot at the back of her neck.
“Yeah, well, doin’ it for the privilege of some filthy space guards is what’s makin’ it vulgar. I’m tryin’ t’ keep it a wee bit decent.”
“Good show, Jamie!” his Doctor cheered.
This caused all the occupants in the room to look at the man in question. Jamie, though he’d later deny it, turned rather scarlet.
“Shh,” the taller Doctor hissed. “You’ll unsettle them even more.”
After that, the Doctors remained so silent as to almost not be present.
Leela turned back to Jamie, a hand on her hip. “You are inexperienced at this art,” she pointedly stated.
Jamie’s eyes tore from his Doctor to focus on her. “What?” he said. “I’ll have y’ know, the McCrimmon’s are a line of very . . . experienced . . .” He trailed off as she approached, and was silenced completely when she placed her hand over his mouth.
She leaned in close to him, pressing her body against his lightly as she whispered into his ear. “You may pretend I am someone else. It will help.”
Her tone was so serious, and the words so meaningful, that Jamie instantly sobered. The room seemed to solidify beneath his feet. He became acutely aware of Leela’s body against his, the warm, earthen way she smelled, the feel of her hand on his arm. This was real; it was going to happen. She was in control of the situation and she was trying to help put him at ease. It wasn’t fun and games anymore; the Doctor wasn’t going to pull a trick to save them.
They were going to save him.
He was about to say something to her—thanks or protest or acknowledgement—but before he could the doors to the chamber opened, revealing the chief guard. “You time is up,” the man said as he stepped into the room, his boot heels clicking on the floor as he entered.
Jamie didn’t think it could have possibly been ten minutes already, but he didn’t protest. “Aye, well, we’ll need a bed at least,” he spat, gesturing to the only objects in the room: an interrogation table and two chairs.
The chief guard said nothing, simply smirked and clasped his hands behind his back. The two other guards fell into place beside him, weapons still drawn, and Jamie wondered how many others would be observing this alien spectacle through space glass or hidden cameras or the like. He was busy scanning the ceiling for such observation equipment and didn’t see Leela reach out for him.
Her hand took his, pulling him from the place he’d become rooted to, toward the table. Suddenly the pounding of his heart was all he could hear. “This isn’t right,” he began but she raised her other hand to silence him again.
“The faster it is done, the sooner it is over,” she astutely said. She gave him a rare smile, and for just a second, it was only the two of them standing there together—they were there of their own accord; there were no observers. He squeezed her hand. “I give you permission,” she said softly. “They can take nothing if it is given freely.”
Jamie wondered how she could be so very wise.
She said nothing else, simply twisted around, turning her back to him, and braced herself against the table. For several long seconds, Jamie stared at her, wondering how he’d arrived at this junction in his life. He must have hesitated too long, though, for one of the guards snapped his heels together, creating a cracking sound that jolted him from his reverie.
With a helpless glance over his shoulder at his Doctor, who had closed his eyes and turned his face away in what appeared to be pain, Jamie focused on what had to be done. He eased up Leela’s leathers, stepped close to her and raised the front of his kilt.
One hand dropped to her hip as he bent over her, closing his eyes so he could reach her ear. “Á brón orm agus, tapadh leat,” he whispered.
He hadn’t expected her to yield easily—she was such a fierce warrior—but she did. Despite himself, he expelled the breath he’d been holding.
Leela let out a sigh of her own, gripping the tabletop as she bent to him. His eyes closed, forcing away the thought of many eyes upon him. He shut out the noises, the discomforts, even who it was he was doing this with. Instead he focused on his feelings, his desires and whom it was he was doing this for: the Doctor. They were joined in this one thing because of their travels with the Doctor. It was because of the desire to save him—both of him—that they had agreed to this at all.
And suddenly, like a dam shuddering and breaking, he was able to perform, pushing into Leela, causing the table legs to scrape against the floor as he found his purpose. “Doctor!” he cried as he worked.
The room was silent except for his panting and then he felt something beneath him give and Leela suddenly sagged. Her breath came out in a gasp, echoing his, almost as if in agreement. What she sighed was, “Doctor.”
It was good to hear her, to know she understood him and what they were doing this for. He answered again, somewhat louder. The word came out as a moan this time, but it seemed to excite her.
By the time he felt himself nearing the end, Leela was working with him, moving her own body in ways that helped him along. With his eyes closed, he saw only the Doctor before him—the man was smiling, proud of him—and Jamie’s grip on her hips tightened as he finally found his release. “Doctor!” he groaned with his final thrust.
She arched her back at nearly the same time. Her hand, which she’d brought between her legs to aid herself, came free as she clutched the table, and her cry echoed his. “Doctor!”
He slumped against her, when it was all over, and she in turn slumped against the table. It hadn’t lasted long, but Jamie felt like it had been hours. He took only a second to recover himself before pulling his kilt back down and making sure her leathers fell decently. He sagged against the table beside her and when their eyes met, instead of awkward glances, she gave a little smile.
He smiled in return, relieved. It was over.
By the door came the sound of clapping. Their heads turned to find the chief guard standing there, eyes fixed on them, as he gave a one-man ovation. “Splendid, splendid,” he announced. “What an interesting performance!” The chief’s eyes moved off of the players, focusing instead now on the still shackled Doctors. “I think your friends feel likewise,” he mused.
Jamie turned to look at his Doctor and suddenly his blood ran to ice.
Both men were intently studying their shoes and looking decidedly embarrassed. His Doctor still had the telltale vestiges of a blush on his cheeks. Jamie realized, in horror, what those cries would have sounded like to the men. He was suddenly, terribly eager to not have been misconstrued. The very thought made his knees rather weak, though he wouldn’t admit to himself as to why.
“They heard,” Leela stated, straightening up beside him.
“Och, no,” he whispered, mortified. “They’ve got it all wrong,” he started.
Her hand fell on his forearm, silencing him. The chief was still clapping, but Jamie didn’t hear him anymore. He looked at her hand, following it up to her face. “It’s not all wrong,” she said. “It’s all right.”
“I don’t understand,” Jamie whimpered.
“He’s not upset,” she said, turning her back to the Doctors so she blocked Jamie’s view of them, and faced him completely. “He’s embarrassed.” Her eyes twinkled as she looked at him. She seemed to almost be sparkling.
Despite himself, and the situation, Jamie couldn’t help but smile back. It was ridiculous, what she was saying, and embarrassing too, but it somehow made him feel just a little bit better.
Suddenly Leela was gone. Whatever softness she’d shown him was wrest away from him—she was all ice and warrior again. “Release us, now,” she demanded, placing herself between Jamie and the guards. “We’ve done as you asked.”
“Yes, I think so,” the chief agreed. He snapped his fingers and one of the two guards turned on his heels. He opened a control panel at the wall and flipped a switch. The electric ropes holding the Doctors up suddenly uncoiled from their wrists and ankles, slithering up into recesses in the wall.
Both men fell hard to their knees.
Jamie reached his Doctor first, pulling him close to check for injuries. He himself felt rather light headed and weak from his exertions, so when the Doctor held him back, he felt strength and relief flood through him.
Leela reached her Doctor moments after, crouching beside him protectively, keeping her eyes focused on the guards at all times. “You are well?” she asked.
“Oh, I’ve been better,” her Doctor replied. He picked himself up off the floor after several seconds. “But I’ll live, thanks to you.” He gave her a cheerful smile before directing his ire at the guards. “I’ll have you know my wrists will be chafed for hours now,” he growled, rubbing them. “And I’m not too fond of the way you treat your guests.”
Jamie wanted to keep his Doctor close, but once the older of the pair had gone on the defensive, it was as though his couldn’t stay put. He pushed to his feet, pulling Jamie up along side him. “This sort of operation should have been shut down years ago,” he said angrily. “Using young people like that!”
“Merely a test, I assure you, Doctor,” the chief said, lacing his fingers together. “One that was passed with flying colors.”
“Hardly a reason to twist time and space to bring us together, I’d say,” the taller Doctor said, dusting his lanky frame off carefully. “Do we get an explanation for that?” he questioned. “Or is that another test?”
The chief laughed, turning to open the doors and lead them out into the halls. “What do you suppose it was for, Doctor?”
“Well,” Jamie’s Doctor began, “you hardly needed two of me to pull off this diabolical plan of yours,” he snapped. “You could have pulled Jamie and Leela from their own times, before they met us. Or used someone else entirely!”
“Or just not done it at all,” the older Doctor stated.
The chief nodded as he laughed, stopping at a turbolift to look his menagerie of people over. “You assume it was their reactions I was studying,” he mused.
That brought both Doctors up short. They glanced at each other in confusion, then as a pair, looked over their shoulders at their companions.
The laughter of the chief brought them back to the present. “You’re free to go now,” he said, gesturing to the opened turbolift doors. “This should lead you to the surface and to your respective time vehicles.”
“I ought to gut y’!” Jamie snarled.
“I, too, would like to wet my blade with your blood,” Leela said.
“Another time, perhaps,” the chief replied, stepping back.
“If there is another time,” Leela’s Doctor said darkly, “I’ll see to it that you don’t get off as easily as this.” It was clear that, if not still under weapons guard, he would have proven his point more tangibly.
“Goodbye, Doctor,” the chief said in way of response. His two guards jabbed at them with their ray guns, backing them onto the lift. The doors closed shortly after and the four found themselves alone in the enclosure.
Jamie fidgeted uncomfortably during the ride to the surface, but the other three seemed unperturbed by the events that had just transpired.
When the doors reopened, it was to the surface of the arid planet. In the distance, twin TARDISes sat, side-by-side.
“Well, those weren’t the circumstances I’d hoped we’d all meet under,” the taller Doctor blithely said.
“Doctor,” Leela began, “What did the chief mean? Whose reaction did he want?”
“Well mine, of course,” he answered pointedly. “I’m sorry you had to go through that.”
“I’m confused, Doctor,” Jamie protested.
The Doctor put a reassuring hand on Jamie’s shoulder. “Unfortunately there are . . . types like that chief guard and his ilk, who have an unhealthy obsession with my kind.”
“Time Lords,” the other Doctor growled. “They’re very nosy about my business, aren’t they?”
“I was talking,” snapped the younger of the two. “Our companions have just been through quite an ordeal. You ought to have more compassion.”
“Flapdoodle! I have it in spades,” the other Doctor announced, brushing his coat sleeves off as he focused his attention on his younger self. “But need I remind you: I remember how this turns out, Doctor,” he said slyly. “I think you’ll find it’s not as tragic as it may appear.”
“Hey!” Jamie protested. “And jus’ what’s that supposed to mean?”
“It means we’ll find out in time, Jamie,” his Doctor consoled. “Which is all very good and well for him to say. What about her?”
“Oh?” the other Doctor mused. He glanced down to Leela before breaking into one of his enormous, charming smiles. “How do you feel about all this, Leela?”
“It is unfortunate the experience was so unhappy for Jamie.”
“Oh, it was plenty happy, that. Don’t y’ know, I like havin’ my friends tied up and being forced to have relations with lasses I barely know!” He glared at his Doctor. “What are these two on about, so cheerful like?”
“I’m afraid I’ve gone a little cockeyed in my old age, Jamie,” he apologized. “I suppose I’ll figure it all out someday.”
“Aye, but will I ever?” he muttered.
The taller Doctor stepped toward him, reaching a hand out to place on Jamie’s shoulder. The man seemed so massive, compared to his Doctor, that Jamie shied away a little. “Jamie, I promise,” the Doctor said, looking down at him intently, “that it’ll all make sense to you before too long.” He smiled again, something smaller but perhaps warmer and tender, and Jamie felt a strange sensation coursing through him at the look the man gave him. The Doctor held his gaze significantly longer than necessary and perhaps might have kept doing so, had he not been interrupted.
“All right, that’s enough,” Jamie’s Doctor snapped, intervening. He swatted his older form’s hand off Jamie’s shoulder, pulling Jamie closer to him. “I think you two had best be on your way,” he said, eyes fixed on the taller Doctor. He then smiled charmingly to Leela. “It was a pleasure to meet you, my dear. We’ll meet again, in a few centuries.”
Leela nodded to him, then focused her gaze on Jamie. The two Doctors had already walked off together toward their respective TARDISes, bickering amicably, but she remained behind a few seconds, with him. “Do you know what he thinks?” Leela asked.
Jamie fidgeted again. It was strange, standing there, talking to her after what they’d done. “Who?”
“Your Doctor. What he thinks you think?”
“I’d rather not think about it, t’ be honesty,” he said, uncomfortably.
Her smile was disarming. “I think you should ask him. He’s not as mysterious as he thinks he is.”
Jamie looked her over, aware that this was one of the Doctor’s companions, who, like he, would be baffled by the technological wonders the Doctor could show her. Her apparent comfort and ease with everything despite her origins somewhat unsettled him. It also gave him hope, and he found himself smiling. “All right,” he said. “I will.”
“Leela!” her Doctor called impatiently. “I’ve not got all day!”
“Thank you,” she said to Jamie, ignoring her Doctor. “I know that was not easy.”
Jamie suddenly found his feet interesting. “Aye, well, y’ were th’ one in control’ve all that, really. Should be me thanking y’.”
“You’re welcome,” she replied. “It was not all unpleasant.”
She smiled at him again before turning and hurrying off after her Doctor. Jamie watched her for a few moments, rather stunned. He finally arrived at his Doctor’s side as the other two slipped into their own TARDIS. He heard Leela complaining about the knives she’d lost as the doors closed; it made him smile. Seconds later, the other TARDIS dematerialized.
“They didn’t say good bye,” Jamie noted.
The Doctor patted himself on the stomach. “I think you’ll find I rarely do,” he said. “Easier just to slip away most times.”
Jamie nodded thoughtfully and silence descended between them. Jamie mulled over what Leela had just said to him. “Doctor?” he began. “What do y’ suppose all that meant?”
“I think, my dear boy,” he began, “it means that not all in life is what it seems to be; that some situations that appear dire aren’t as bad as they could be; that sometimes what we do, and what we say, have different outcomes.”
“When I called y’r name,” Jamie began awkwardly.
“I was glad you did,” the Doctor said. “It was a very brave thing you and Leela did for me.”
“That’s not what I mean, and y’ know it,” Jamie said. The Doctor was already unlocking the door to the TARDIS, as if to slip away and avoid finishing the conversation, but Jamie pushed inside after him. “Just what did y’ think I was thinkin’?” Jamie called, following him in.
“Well, it was rather obvious, Jamie,” he said, busying himself with the controls.
“Well, it weren’t like that!” Jamie protested vehemently. He didn’t, for a moment, realize why he was so intensely protesting this. Getting into an argument now was hardly likely to be the correct end result to the whole ordeal.
“Jamie, they weren’t interested in your reactions—they were interested in mine. And in how my companions would react, being forced into that sort of situation.”
“I still don’t understand.”
The Doctor gave up twisting the knobs on the TARDIS. He focused his attention solely on Jamie. “It’s about unity, and how much my companions care about me. Would you give your life to save me?”
“Of course,” Jamie cut in.
“Yes, thank you,” the Doctor said, clearly not finished with his speech. “Would you give your freedom up for me? Would you give your body to a stranger for me? That sort of thing. And they want to see how I react, knowing I’ve got that control on you, and that . . . that you’ve got the same sort of control on me.”
“Of course I’d give my life for you, Jamie. Don’t be thick.”
“Oh, right.” He shuffled, feeling less like bickering, but no closer to discovering whatever it was he was supposed to have discovered. “I’m just glad y’re not upset with me. Y’ did ask me not t’ do it.”
“I didn’t want you to be hurt, that’s all,” he explained. “Are you upset with me for putting you into that position?”
“What? No, of course not. I’d do it again, if I had t’!” He paused. “’Course, I’d rather not. Leela was a right nice lass, t’ be sure. But, well, me, I just don’t think I’m cut out for that sort of woman.”
The Doctor was smiling now, as though he had a secret. “No, I don’t suppose you are, Jamie,” he said.
“And jus’ what’s that supposed to mean?”
“Let’s just say that Leela was thinking of you as her Doctor, and that he knew, and liked it that way,” he said plainly.
“She was?” he began, a bit baffled. “He does?” His eyes narrowed. “Wait, how d’ you know?”
“He is me, Jamie. I haven’t changed that much.”
“Oh.” Jamie felt stumped. “Hadn’t thought of it like that.”
“I had,” the Doctor said, leaning back against the console to study him. “I rather liked it, too, terrible as that may seem.”
Jamie felt that strange sensation course through him again. The eyes that were upon him now were the same ones that had been looking at him when the older version of the Doctor had put his hand on his shoulder. It made his insides flop. “Y’ liked me callin’ y’r name, then?” he asked, cautiously.
“Well, I would be lying if I said no, though please don’t feel uncomfortable about that.”
Jamie mulled over this for a while, trying to understand the words and actions. It had been the Doctor he’d been thinking of the entire time, not Leela. It made him get twisty feeling on the inside again, knowing how that must have seemed: him having sex with a beautiful girl like Leela, and calling the old man’s name. He looked away, suddenly embarrassed again. “Y’ liked that?”
“Quite a bit, actually,” the Doctor replied. “But I realize that’s neither here or now and—”
“I liked it too,” Jamie blurted, silencing the Doctor. “I think about y’ sometimes, like that,” he confessed. He hadn’t meant to, but now that it was out, he couldn’t seem to stop talking. “I don’t mean t’ but it happens. Sometimes just in me head, when I’m dreamin’. And I wake up all--” He gestured ineffectually before lifting his gaze to look into the Doctor’s understanding blue eyes. “’m always tryin’ t’ rationalize it away, figure it doesn’t mean anything special.”
The Doctor was smiling at him, but when he spoke it was to himself. “They really went out of their way to coax that bit of information out of you, didn’t they?”
Jamie felt strangely feverish—it was similar to how he’d felt when he was with Leela—only the sensation was more intense and more focused. He managed a little smile in return as the Doctor approached. “I . . . I think I get what it means now,” he slowly said.
The Doctor gave him a rather impish grin and nudged into him. “I’m sure you do, Jamie. Now go and get washed up. I’ll want you later and not smelling like her.”
It took approximately three seconds for Jamie to parse the meaning of those words out. Then he blushed a delightful crimson. The Doctor laughed and nudged him again. “Go on and get! Figure it out while you shower.”
Jamie went and did as he was told, and in the shower he did figure it all out.