Title: Missing Pieces
Author: Van Donovan
Characters: The second Doctor, Jamie McCrimmon, Victoria Waterfield.
Pairing(s): unrequited Jamie/Victoria, unreqiuted Two/Jamie, if you squint
Rating: PG, for language
Word Count: 8,867
Warnings: Spoilers for "Fury From the Deep."
Summary: Things aren't the way Jamie remembers.
Note: Set in "Season 6B." Written for dwliterotica's March I-Ching challenge. Mine was "I-Ching #26" Featuring the themes of "not being afraid of letting go," issues of "who to trust," "change" and "starting anew" among many others.
Disclaimer: I own nothing. I made no money from this, but if you want to hire me, I'm cheap. Betaing provided by Starkiller.
“Is this it?” Jamie asked, stepping out of the TARDIS. “Is this England?”
The Doctor scanned the white bluffs in the distance, the rolling sea before them, the blustering sky above. The cold wind was bitingly chilly and he drew his coat tighter around him. He wished he had his knit cap again. “Yes, Jamie. I think this is the place.” He studied the boy impassively, wondering if Jamie would recognize the place at all. It was almost identical to where they’d landed the first time they’d been this way.
“Och, this is no place for a lady like Victoria t’ live,” Jamie scoffed. He kicked at some pebbles on the shore and crossed his arms. “Why’d she choose t’ stay here!”
Demurely, the Doctor sighed. “You know I can’t tell you that, Jamie,” he said. He locked the door to the TARDIS before surveying their surroundings. It was foolish of him to bring Jamie here, especially in the boy’s altered state. The Time Lords had suppressed much of Jamie’s memories and the Doctor was trying to help him remember. There were just sometimes problems that came with it: Jamie remembered Victoria. He remembered he’d been very fond of her: that she’d needed someone to protect her and that she was now gone. But he didn’t remember why.
Due to the uncertainty of reversing temporal mental mechanics, the Doctor was unwilling to explain where she was or why she’d left. But Jamie had insisted they check up on her, to make sure she was getting along all right. The Doctor figured it was something to do, that it might help Jamie. But he was wary all the while as well. Would Victoria still even be here? What would she make of Jamie in his altered state? He wasn’t even sure in what year he’d landed! What if they were fifty years into the future and Victoria was a little old lady, or dead?
“I think I see something over this way,” Jamie said, starting over.
Jamie had spied some massive pipes that ran into the sea, just like the ones they’d come across their first time here. The Doctor wasn’t sure what that meant: were the refineries still operating? Had they arrived before they’d been destroyed? Had they been rebuilt? Were the pipes still in place but abandoned and unused?
“Best not touch anything, Jamie,” the Doctor warned. He instead turned to the incline of the hill and began to scale it. “Now, if I’m not mistaken, the village should just be over this way. If we ask around enough, I’m sure we’ll be able to find Victoria.”
Once he reached the top, the Doctor bent down to lend a hand to Jamie. He helped the boy up and fixed him with a serious stare. “We must be cautious though. I don’t know what Victoria will do if she sees us, or how it will affect your memories. I recommend we just observe, at least for now.”
“Aye, fine,” Jamie gruffly said. “I just want t’ make sure she’s all right! I don’t know how she can be, stuck in a gloomy place like this!”
“This is England!” the Doctor protested.
“Och, my point exactly!”
The Doctor scowled. “It’s quite lovely, usually! We’ve just arrived in the middle of winter is all!”
Jamie didn’t say anything else, just stalked away from the Doctor in the direction of the now clearly visible town. Sighing softly, the Doctor hurried to catch up with him. Things had been somewhat strained with Jamie since their reunion. Jamie tended to treat him like a strange little old man instead of the great friend and confidant he once had. The Doctor’s own affection for Jamie, and the fact that he knew the boy so well, clearly rubbed Jamie the wrong way.
He had to admit to himself that it was no surprise that was the case. The Doctor remembered everything about Jamie, but Jamie remembered hardly anything at all about the Doctor. That had to be frustrating and awkward for the boy, and it was no wonder he lashed out at him from time to time. Still, things were getting better, and any time Jamie’s eyes lit up with a remembered memory made the whole adventure worth it. Someday, the Doctor imagined Jamie would remember everything and all the bruised egos and hurts would fade away in apology. At least, that’s what he hoped.
Before long, they reached the town and soon spied a man crossing the street. He had a newspaper tucked under his arm and wore a heavy dun colored coat. The Doctor thought about asking him for directions, or perhaps the date, but before he could get a sentence together Jamie had confronted him.
“Where is Victoria Waterfield?” the boy demanded.
“I beg your pardon!” the confused man said.
“Victoria Waterfield,” Jaime impatiently repeated. “Does she live in this village or not?”
The man’s eyes darted off Jamie to focus on the Doctor before returning to the Scot. “How should I know?” he snapped. “There are a lot of people who live here. I don’t know a third of them!”
“I’m terribly sorry about my friend here,” the Doctor quickly said, interjecting. “We’ve traveled a long way and he’s very eager to see his friend.”
“Och, Doctor—” Jamie began, but the Doctor shut him up by stepping on his toe.
“We’re just wondering if you could direct us perhaps to the nearest constable or . . . or a post office, perhaps?”
“We don’t need to mail anything, Doctor!” Jamie wailed. “Look,” he said to the man, “we’re searching for Victoria Waterfield. She’s a young girl, about this high and—oof!”
The Doctor had stepped on his foot again. “Please excuse my friend. He’s from Scotland, you see.”
Jamie glared daggers at the Doctor, but remained quiet. At last the man shrugged and pointed down the street toward a post office. “Should be able to find what you need there.” He left without further warning, his pace extra quick.
“What does being from Scotland have t’ do with anything?” Jamie grumbled.
“Not now, Jamie,” the Doctor said. “Come along, the post office should know if Victoria still lives here.”
The post office did, in fact, know where Victoria Waterfield was. That was heartening news in itself. The bad news was that they had to take a train inland to find her. That and the post office would only reveal the name of the city she was located in, as all other information was kept confidential.
Jamie complained the entire way about why hadn’t the Doctor just materialized the TARDIS closer, but the Doctor managed to pacify him by feeding him lunch.
It was warmer and sunnier when they got off the train inland, and Jamie’s spirits seemed to lighten with the weather. As luck would have it, the Doctor came across a constable as they exited the station. The constable didn’t know where Victoria lived, but a woman matching her description worked at nearby elementary school.
Armed with that knowledge, the Doctor and Jamie set out.
“Now, bare in mind Jamie, she might be much older than you last saw her. I’m not sure how much time has passed for her. You’re expecting a young girl and she very well could be a mature woman. You can’t be disappointed if that’s what we find.”
“So long as she’s healthy and happy, I don’t care how she looks!” he replied.
When they arrived, the children were out on the courts, at recess. Jamie was eager to push past them and find Victoria, but the Doctor held him back by the arm. They stood by a tree, in the shadows and just watched. The Doctor noticed that the leaves were golden and red, and realized it was the end of autumn, not yet winter. The school itself was relatively small, perhaps some sort of private establishment. Jamie paced impatiently while the Doctor watched and observed.
At last the bell to return inside sounded, and several teachers came out to collect them. One was unmistakably Victoria, though the details were hard to make out.
“Victoria!” Jamie shouted instantly, but the Doctor grabbed him by the arm and dragged him behind the tree.
“We can’t just spring ourselves on her like that, unannounced!”
“Let me go!” Jamie hissed, struggling against the Doctor.
“We have to wait until she’s out of school. It wouldn’t be polite to interrupt her during her workday. She’s not going anywhere, Jamie. Calm down.”
The boy did eventually calm down, but he still brooded like a storm. His mood was dark and his temper short. He refused the Doctor’s suggestion that they have tea in a local coffee shop to pass the time while they waited, determined to see Victoria as soon as she left.
The children departed first, picked up by parents, or walking home in pairs. Then the teachers began leaving in a slow, steady trickle. The Doctor tried to stop Jamie when Victoria finally appeared, fussing with something in her handbag, but the boy threw him off and ran to her, heedless of tact and subtly.
“Victoria!” he cheered, reaching out for her.
She looked up at him in something akin to disbelief. Her hand on her bag stilled in mid-action as she took Jamie in. The Doctor followed demurely behind, studying the scene and feeling very much like an outsider. Victoria was older. Not an old woman by any means, but it was clear to see she was in her late twenties at least. She had filled out, looking entirely like a woman now and no more a girl. Her hair was pulled back into a fancy bun and her clothing was very fashionable, over which she wore a warm coat. Her bright blue eyes glittered even from as far away as the Doctor was.
“J-Jamie!” she cried, finally finding her voice. “Oh, Jamie, it is you!” Her handbag forgotten, she pulled Jamie to her in a tight embrace. “Oh, I thought I should never see you again!” she cried.
They hugged for a considerable while before finally pulling apart. Jamie stayed close, studying her, drinking in every detail of her. “You’ve grown,” he said softly.
Victoria pulled back self consciously, touching one of her cheeks out of embarrassment. “And you haven’t,” she noted. Her eyes shifted off Jamie at last, focusing on her the Doctor. Her expression softened. “Doctor,” she fondly said.
“Hello, my dear,” he replied, moving close to shake her hands. She surprised him by leaning in and kissing his cheeks. “You look radiant.”
“In this old thing?” she said, embarrassedly. “You’re too kind.” Her eyes traveled back to Jamie. “I can’t believe you two are really here.”
“Jamie convinced me,” the Doctor admitted.
“Aye, and he didn’t want t’ come, either,” Jamie said. “But I talked him into it!”
“We’ve had a bit of a bumpy road of late, that’s all,” the Doctor explained. “I wasn’t sure it would be proper to drop in on you unannounced, with Jamie in the state he’s in.”
“State?” Victoria asked, looking him over concernedly. “Is something wrong?”
“Och, just th’ Doctor’s people taking away my memories!” he replied. “But I remembered you!” he cheerfully added. “And that’s all that matters now.”
“He doesn’t remember everything,” the Doctor added quickly. “We’re hoping seeing you again will trigger some latent ones. He recalled you all on his own, at least. Which was very promising.”
“You’d forgotten me?” Victoria asked, looking at Jamie in concern.
The boy was suddenly serious and bashful. “Aye, but, well. It were only for a short while, and against my will. So, you’re a teacher now?” he said, changing the subject. “I can just imagine y’ with all the wee little bairns. Bet they all love you.”
Victoria smiled demurely. “Yes, well. It pays the bills, as they say.” She shook her head, putting a hand to her cheek. “I really can’t believe you two are here. Neither of you has aged a day!”
The Doctor smiled serenely. “How long as it been for you, Victoria?”
“At least ten years,” she said. “After the oil refinery was closed, the Harris’ moved out this way, and I decided to come along. Better job opportunities here. I’ve been here ever since. I’ve got my own place now. Oh!” She brightened. “You will stay for dinner, won’t you? I should love to have you.”
“Aye, of course we will!” Jamie said.
“Jamie,” the Doctor admonished. “I really don’t know if that’s wise.”
“Och, y’ can take your wise and go eat it, Doctor! I’m havin’ dinner with Victoria.” He turned a charming, toothy smile to the woman.
“Well, I wouldn’t want to keep you two from anything,” she said, clearly concerned at the hostility between the two. “Knowing you there’s a Cyberman invasion fleet arriving soon, or Ice Warriors or Yeti you’re tracking.”
“No,” the Doctor said. “No, we’re actually just here to see you.” He gave Jamie a small smile, but kept his eyes on Victoria. “And dinner would be lovely, my dear. We just don’t want to impose ourselves.”
“It’s no imposition at all, Doctor! I’m delighted to have you!”
Victoria’s flat was not very far away. The trio chatted amiably as they walked to it, with Jamie doing most of the talking. The Doctor tried to stop the boy from telling Victoria about the Time Lords and the mental blocks they’d put in him, but she was very interested in hearing more and, well, Jamie had rather ceased to realize the Doctor existed. To keep the peace, the Doctor let Jamie have his way. This was all for the boy’s good, after all. Wasn’t it?
When they arrived at Victoria’s, the Doctor thought there must be some mistake. She lived in a tiny little flat. The stairwell leading to her front door was in disrepair, the paint on the door itself, as well as the one window frame were cracked and yellowing. There were no plants or decorations outside, other than the tarnished brass numbers indicated the street address. Compared to the luxurious mansion of Theodore Maxtible, where they’d first found Victoria, this seemed a veritable dungeon.
Victoria unlocked the door and quickly ushered them inside. “I know it isn’t much,” she said demurely, “but it’s mine and I’m proud of it.”
The inside of the house was far better maintained than the outside. The furniture was sparse, but elegant. It was clear that Victoria did not like clutter or frivolous things and would rather buy one very nice bookcase than three cheaply made ones. Over ten years she had transformed the interior of her shabby flat into a tiny den of Victorian elegance, although there still seemed to be something lacking.
Jamie did not seem to understand what the interior of the flat said about Victoria as a person. “Och, so this is where you’ve been living all this time?” he asked, turning around as he took the main room in.
“Yes,” Victoria said, smoothing a hand out over her dress. “It’s small, but comfortable. It isn’t much, but everything here is mine, earned and paid for by me. That makes it more special to me, than all the things I had a young girl.”
“One does appreciate value best when one works for one’s bread,” the Doctor mused softly. He traced a hand over a neat bureau that stood just inside the door, then returned his eyes to Victoria. “It’s splendid: a rare bit of Victorian elegance in the modern world. It suits you.”
“I think so, too,” Victoria replied. She gestured for them to sit in the tiny little front room, which held only one ancient looking Victoria couch. Its plush fabric was a little worn, but the wood gleamed and the intricate scrollwork was undamaged. “Please have a seat,” she said. “I’ll put on some tea.”
“That would be lovely,” the Doctor said, taking a seat. “Thank you.”
Victoria smiled at Jamie and he nodded at her, and then she slipped out of the room, presumably to the kitchen to put the water on. Jamie paced the room as soon as she was gone.
“Do sit down,” the Doctor said, more wearily than he’d intended. “We’ve found her now, you can relax.”
“Look at this place,” Jamie hissed. “It’s hardly bigger than a coffin!”
“That’s unfair,” the Doctor replied. “Victoria is very proud of it. You should be too.”
“Och,” he grunted. “She might be proud of it, but she’s no’ happy with it. She deserves something bigger, more glamorous! She’s a lady!”
The Doctor’s brows drew together. “Victoria chose this life, Jamie. You’d do best not to forget that.”
Jamie scowled. “I didn’t have much choice in that, now, did I?”
“Jamie,” the Doctor admonished. But then he held his next retort between his teeth. Largely because he didn’t want to get into this sort of an argument with Jamie, but also because Victoria had just reappeared.
“The water is boiling,” she said. Her eyes swept over the two of them. “Are you two fighting?”
Jamie crossed his arms. “Th’ Doctor thinks that because I’ve forgot so much I’m daft now. But I remember what’s important.”
The Doctor decided it was better to hold his tongue and not argue. “Among the many things Jamie’s forgotten,” he explained, “is me. I’m sure I’m just a cranky old man to him these days.” He smiled tightly, but it was very sad.
“How did all this happen?” Victoria asked.
“Och, that’s just it: he won’t tell me!”
“I’m hoping he’ll remember on his own, Victoria. I’ve told him enough already.”
“Aye, that some Time Lords decided t’ punish the Doctor by wiping my memories and putting me back on the field at Culloden!” Jamie replied. “That hasn’t endeared me to him much, I’ll say.”
Victoria seemed rather unnerved by Jamie’s reply. “But it’s the Doctor, Jamie.” She studied him carefully. “I know he only has your best interests in mind.”
“Aye,” Jamie said, suddenly sullen. He was about to say something else when the whistle of the kettle sounded in the other room.
“I’ll be right back,” Victoria said, hurriedly exiting.
The Doctor studied Jamie’s back when they were left alone. “You know I’ve done all of this for you, Jamie,” the Doctor quietly said. “You asked me to take you with me.”
“Aye,” Jamie replied, but he did not turn around.
“I promise this will all make sense to you, someday,” he said. “When your memories return.”
Jamie crossed his arms. “We’ll see about that.” He turned to look at the Doctor. “I just sometimes feel like I can’t trust anybo—” The boy cut off, his eyes lifting off the Doctor, instead fixing on the front door, which the Doctor’s back now faced.
“Hello,” said an unfamiliar voice.
Unexpectedly, Jamie broke into a friendly smile. “Well, hello there. Are you lost?”
The Doctor twisted around on the couch to see to whom it was Jamie was speaking. Standing just inside the doorway was a young boy, about eight or nine years old. His skin was a dark mocha, his hair cropped short, in tight black curls. His eyes were large and doe-brown. He was dressed in a smart little school uniform and carried a small satchel in his hand. As he got to his feet, the Doctor wondered if the boy was fund raising, selling candies or trinkets.
“I’m not lost, sir,” the boy replied. His accent was polished Royal Pronunciation.
“Well, I’m Jamie,” the Scotsman said, his tone still light and friendly. “And this here is th’ Doctor. Are you one of Miss Waterfield’s students?”
“No,” the boy said, his eyes darting between the two men.
From the hall behind them, Victoria returned, carrying the makings for the tea on a fancy silver tray. “I’m sorry I took so long,” she was saying. “I had to look all over for my extra set of teacups. It’s not often I have guests.” She cut off as she came into the room properly. “Oh, Kemel!” she cried, seeing the boy.
Hurriedly, she set the tray down on the low table in front of the couch, crossing quickly to the child. The Doctor and Jamie exchanged questioning glances behind her back.
Victoria straightened the boy’s clip-on necktie, dusted his coat free of lint and smoothed down his neatly trimmed hair. When she’d finished her unnecessary fussing, she gently maneuvered the boy in front of her, a hand pressed on his shoulder. “Kemel, I’d like you to meet the Doctor and Jamie. They’re good, dear friends of mine. And Doctor, Jamie . . . I’d like you to meet Kemel. He’s my son.”
“Your son!” Jamie exploded, his tone a sharp mix of outrage and disbelief.
“How do you do?” the Doctor said, much more cordially. He extended his hand to the boy and shook it heartily when the boy responded in suit. “My, what a charming young man you are.”
“But, but,” Jamie began, his mouth working despite the sounds coming out. “But you’re no’ old enough t’ have a son! And . . . he’s the wrong color!”
“Jamie!” the Doctor snapped. “You’re being impolite.”
“It’s all right, Doctor,” Victoria said, although her tone was more reserved, her eyes slightly harder. She fixed her gaze on Jamie. “I’m thirty years old, Jamie. I think that’s more than old enough to have a child.”
Jamie did not seem to have a proper response for her. His mouth kept working, but no sound issued.
Kemel looked up at his mother with questioning eyes. “Who are these men, mother?”
Victoria lovingly squeezed his shoulder. “Old friends of mine, from when I was a young girl. We three used to travel together. You remember all the wonderful stories I’ve told you, don’t you? These two are the ones I shared those adventures with.”
“But those were just stories, mother. Surely they were.”
Victoria smiled tightly. “Of course. But the Doctor is a wonderful storyteller. He and Mr. McCrimmon are staying for dinner,” she said. “Perhaps afterwards, he’d like to tell you one of his many wondrous tales.” She looked hopefully up at the Doctor.
Kemel’s gaze was so similar to Victoria’s it made the Doctor break into a brilliant smile. “I should very much be delighted to.”
“Wonderful,” Victoria said, sighing. To her son, she said, “Now, why don’t you go run upstairs and start on your school work? Your mother would like to catch up with her old friends.”
Kemel’s gaze drifted from the Doctor to Jamie and back before nodding. “All right,” he said. “It was nice very to meet you.”
“And you,” the Doctor cheerfully said. “See you at dinner.”
Jamie was still incapable of speech. Kemel looked him over once more, spending a considerable time studying Jamie’s kilt. The boy even opened his mouth to ask, but then closed it and shook his head. He smiled up at his mother and the Doctor before disappearing down the hall.
Once he was gone, Victoria mechanically moved to begin preparing the tea.
The Doctor sat back down, but Jamie remained standing there, as if transfixed.
“Kemel seems like a very sweet boy,” the Doctor said, accepting the tea and saucer as Victoria handed it over to him. “A beautiful child.”
“Thank you,” Victoria said, her eyes fixed on her tray.
“You’re married,” Jamie blurted at last, his tone accusing.
The obvious jealousy in his voice made both the Doctor and Victoria look up at him sharply. For a second, Victoria’s hand shook, holding the sugar spoon. Then she took a deep breath and straightened up. “No, Jamie. No, I’m not married.” She lifted her chin, as if defying him to challenge her.
“But,” the Scot began, his brow beginning to furrow. “But the boy . . .”
“Is my son,” Victoria agreed. “But I am not, and never have been, married to his father.”
Heavily, Jamie fell back into the couch, right beside the Doctor. It was clear he didn’t comprehend. The Doctor sipped at his tea. “This is lovely, Victoria,” he said, mildly. “Thank you very much.”
“You’re welcome,” she automatically replied, but her eyes remained on Jamie. After the silence stretched on between the two, she clearly said, “You may think me sinful, if you’d like,” she said coolly. “I’ve come to terms with what I’ve done and I am happy with who I am.” She held out a cup of tea to Jamie.
For several seconds, the cup hovered there between them, before Jamie finally accepted it. “I remember Kemel,” he said slowly. “A huge, silent brute. He was killed; he couldn’t be the father.”
Victoria lowered her eyes, fixing up the last cup. “Kemel wasn’t the father, of course. I met Joseph through the Harris’. He was a former rig operator on the North Sea. He reminded me a little of my dear friend Kemel, and I felt safe around him. It seemed wrong to name him after my father; Kemel seemed more appropriate, somehow. I had nothing, you understand. No money, no clothing but what Mrs. Harris would lend me. I was a burden to everyone. I had to do what I could.”
“That’s perfectly understandable,” the Doctor soothingly said.
“So, why didn’t he marry you then?” Jamie said, his tone still accusing. “Didn’t he know y’ were with child?”
“Not all men are straightforward and honest, Jamie,” Victoria said, her tone just as biting. “When Joseph found out, he decided he didn’t want to be a father and left. Sometimes he sends us money, but I haven’t seen him in years. I no longer wish to.”
“That sort of thing happens all too often these days, I’m afraid,” the Doctor somberly said. It was as if neither of them heard him.
“So y’ just live alone then, Kemel without a father and all.”
“I’ve been seeing a very lovely gentleman lately,” Victoria replied in clipped tones. “He’s very well-to-do, treats me and Kemel with respect, and sees to it that Kemel gets a proper education.”
“Oh,” Jamie said, utterly unconvinced. “Well, if he’s so damn great why hasn’t he married y’ then?”
“James McCrimmon!” Victoria said, rising to her feet. “If you’re going to insist on insulting me in my own home, you can just leave.”
“Do have a little patience with him, Victoria. He has had a rough time of it,” the Doctor quickly tried.
“Has he forgotten his manners as well?” she demanded, cold gaze on the Scot. “I’ve always known you to be crass and unrefined, but this is beyond the pale.”
“Och, what’re y’ all jumpy about, Victoria?” Jamie said, his voice nearly mocking. “Have something t’ hide now, d’ you? Something you’re no’ so proud of? How long y’ been seein’ this other chappie, eh? Couple years at least?”
“Not that it’s any of your business,” Victoria snapped. “But yes, we’ve been together a long time.”
“Aye, I figured as much.” He pushed to his feet. “Years and years an’ he still hasn’t done th’ right thing by marryin’ you? Och, that’s no gentleman, Victoria. That’s no’ showin’ y’ th’ respect y’ deserve! ‘Specially no’ if you’ve been showin’ him a bit of a good time while he’s at it!”
“Oh, and I suppose you’re the expert now?” she demanded, her cheeks coloring. “Coming into my home and humiliating me? Robert is good to me. He can provide for me and cares about me. He doesn’t insult my dignity!”
“Jamie, Victoria, please!” the Doctor said, rising as well. “This is all getting terribly out of hand.” To Jamie, imploringly, he said, “Why don’t we let a room somewhere and come back to this tomorrow, once we’ve cleared out heads a bit?”
“Och, stay out of this, Doctor,” Jamie warned, his temper still flaring.
Victoria, on the other hand, seemed to have cooled at the Doctor’s words. She was composed again, clamping down as cold as ice to Jamie’s hot fury. “Jealousy doesn’t suit you, boy,” she said, icily. “This is just proof you’ll never be mature enough—manly enough—for a woman like me.”
Jamie flinched, as if she had hit him. His eyes narrowed. “Aye, well, be that as it may. But at least I’ll no’ ever be somebody’s whore.”
Victoria slapped him instantly, but Jamie took it like he expected it, his eyes still burning hot and hard as he stared at her.
Completely out of his depths, the Doctor hurriedly picked up the tea tray and scurried off, not wanting to get in the way, knowing he’d be utterly unable to prevent the melt down that was sure to follow.
“How dare you,” Victoria said, her voice just above a whisper. “After all I’ve been through, all I’ve made for myself. How dare you.”
“Th’ Victoria I know would never have settled for a man like that,” Jamie said, his voice now level. “I’m no’ the one as doin’ the disrespecting here.”
“This isn’t the nineteenth century, Jamie. It doesn’t work like that anymore.”
“Aye, maybe no’ for th’ rest of th’ world,” he said, his tone growing kindly. “But it does for me. And it should for you. Y’ deserve better than this.”
“You’re just a boy, Jamie. You can’t begin to understand what it’s like out here. You don’t know anything.”
Jamie straightened his shoulders, fixing her with a serious stare. “I know that I love you,” he said seriously. “Have since ever I first laid eyes on you. And I know I’d treat y’ better than all this. Maybe I couldn’t get y’ fancy things, or be the proper gentleman, but I’d work hard every day, and I’d be there for you, and I would marry y’ proper, so as to show y’ th’ sort of respect y’ deserve.”
She lowered her eyes. “You have a strange way of showing your affection, Jamie,” she quietly said. “Insulting my very existence for the past ten years and then offering to marry me, to save my dignity.” She laughed morosely. “It would almost be sweet if it weren’t so simple, so stupid.”
“Victoria,” he began, but she cut him off.
“Marriage doesn’t mean what it used to, Jamie. Maybe you’ve forgotten what you learned with the Doctor, but I haven’t. We’re travelers out of time. The rules of our societies are long dead. They don’t apply to us anymore.”
“Those rules are all we have left,” Jamie countered. “They’re what made us and shaped us. Without them, what are we? Heather on the wind with nowhere t’ seed.”
“Maybe for you,” Victoria said. “But for me, I’ve been living this life for almost as long as I lived the other one, and actually living it, not just walking through it, blind to reality. This is who I am now. The Victorian girl I once was—that you knew—is dead. I’ve accepted that.”
Jamie looked around the room, eyes tracing over every bit of furniture and fixture in it before finally returning to rest on her. “Aye, and that’s why y’ fill your home with mementos of th’ past; why y’ named your son after a servant of yours from over a hundred years ago. You’re only foolin’ yourself, Victoria.”
“You should probably go, Jamie.” She sighed softly, shaking her head. “I don’t know what you were expecting, or hoping to find. But whatever it was, it’s not here. I’m not the girl you think I am.”
Jamie shook his head. “Am I so terrible you’d no’ even give me a chance? You’ll have any other fellow who’ll turn your head with fancy baubles or elegant words, but not a tried and true friend? Do I mean so little t’ you?”
Victoria smiled at him. “It’s because you mean so much to me, Jamie. I could never be happy always traveling with the Doctor, never settling down somewhere. I need earth under my feet, a roof over my head, stability. You . . . you need adventure and to travel. It has nothing to do with class or upbringing or any of that stuff. I just know that I could never make you as happy as you think I can, and that you’d never be enough for me. And that knowledge would kill me.”
“But y’ won’t even try,” Jamie protested. “I was raised a piper,” he insisted. “I never had my eyes set on adventure, Victoria. I wanted t’ foal mares and tend sheep and never look further than the nearest moor. I could be happy in a place like this, with you. I could at least try.”
“Sweet Jamie,” she sighed. “So full of dreams and clouds that there’s no room left for sense or reason. Maybe once that might have been, but it’s much too late now. Too late for you, and much, much too late for me.”
“Nonsense,” Jamie insisted, stepping closer to her. “You’re every bit as appealing to me now as y’ were then. Even . . . even Kemel is a good, strong lad. I’d be happy t’ raise him as my own!”
“Kemel doesn’t need much more raising, Jamie. Neither do I,” she added, studying him closely. “I wish you could understand.”
“You think I’m just a lad, but I’m a real man now, Victoria.” He tugged on his belts, as if this somehow proved it. “I’m older than I was when y’ left us, and I’ve grown and I can prove it t’ you. I just need th’ chance!”
Shaking her head sadly, Victoria sighed. “I should start dinner, if you two are going to stay.” Looking around, she noticed for the first time that the Doctor was gone. “Oh, we’ve run him off with our arguing.”
Jamie frowned. “I’m serious about this, Victoria.”
She met his gaze. “I know.” She slipped off her coat and moved to hang it on a nearby coat rack. She stood there a while, fingering the fabric thoughtfully. “I need some time to think about all this, all right? It’s all so sudden and soon. We can talk more after dinner.”
“Aye, all right.”
As if on cue, illustrating his penchant for eavesdropping, the Doctor reappeared. “Oh, I’m so pleased to see you two have settled down somewhat.” He clapped his hands together in relief.
“I’m sorry you had to see all that,” Victoria apologized. “I can start dinner now, if you’d still like to stay?”
“I should very much like to, if Jamie is still agreeable?” He turned to the boy.
“Aye,” Jamie coolly said. “I’m no’ going anywhere.”
“Splendid, splendid!” the Doctor crooned, over eager. He was very keen to soothe over any ruffled feathers. Once Victoria had slipped back into the kitchen, though, his expression turned serious again. He fixed his gaze on Jamie.
“Och, don’t y’ start now,” Jamie said, cutting him off before he could begin. “I’m no’ interested in hearing y’ insult my maturity and intelligence too.”
The Doctor frowned. “That isn’t what I was going to say at all.”
“I just want you to be careful. The cause you’re fighting for is a noble one, and one I can well respect. But some fights are lost before they’re fought. Sometimes winning can be more destructive than losing.”
Something in Jamie’s eyes changed; his expression softened just enough to show. “And some fights have t’ be fought, Doctor, even if y’ know you’ll lose.”
“I know that too well,” the Doctor said, clearly speaking from personal experience. “It’s why I’m here at all.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” the boy asked, but before the Doctor could answer, Victoria was calling them into the kitchen, to help with the preparation of dinner.
Jamie turned to go, and the Doctor thought about calling him back, or warning him. But what would he be warning him against? What could he possibly say to Jamie that would sway the boy, or otherwise convince him that pursuing Victoria was probably foolhardy and hopeless? So he said nothing and just quietly followed the boy into the kitchen.
Dinner was pleasant, but uneventful; the food simple, but tasty. Jamie spent most of the time talking with Kemel, discussing the boy’s schooling and upbringing. It was painfully clear what he was trying to do. Victoria humored them and seemed even to enjoy Kemel’s interest in Jamie. The boy finally got to ask him about his clothing, and Jamie went on boastfully for ten minutes, about his tartan and his clan and Scotland.
By the time they were all finished eating, Kemel was ready to visit Scotland and Jamie was ready to take him.
“Oh, I don’t know that’s such a wise idea, right now,” the Doctor said. The TARDIS was already miles and miles away, and while they’d traveled all over the Earth together before, he had little desire to be separated from his ship. He also was not eager to encourage Jamie’s fantasy.
“Perhaps the Doctor will tell you one of his stories instead,” Victoria suggested, rising to clear the dishes away.
And so he did, settled back down in the plush couch in the sitting room. He told Kemel of the Zarbi and the Menoptra and it was a story neither Jamie nor Victoria had ever heard, so all three were spellbound by it. By the time he finished it was getting late and Kemel was yawning profusely.
Victoria took the boy upstairs to tuck into bed. The Doctor got to his feet. “We’d better get going too. We still have to find a place to stay the night.”
“I’m staying here,” Jamie resolutely said.
“I don’t think Victoria has enough space to put us both up,” he patiently said. “And we don’t want to impose ourselves.”
“I’ll sleep on th’ floor,” the boy replied, crossing his arms.
“Jamie,” the Doctor softly said, his eyes sad. “Jamie, I want you to think about this; what it must be like for Victoria. She hasn’t seen you in ten years.”
“I don’t expect y’ t’ understand,” Jamie scoffed. “I love her,” he pointedly said, as if the words weren’t the most difficult thing in the world for him. “If I don’t at least try, I’ll regret this for th’ rest of my life.”
The Doctor lowered his eyes, looking away. “I think I understand all too well, Jamie. But sometimes these things take time. You don’t want to rush her.”
“Rush who?” Victoria asked, reappearing in the sitting room.
“It’s nothing,” the Doctor said. “Jamie and I were just about to leave, weren’t we, Jamie?”
“Och, I told you—” but the boy cut off at the stern look from the Doctor.
“You won’t stay?” Victoria asked, looking imploringly between the two of them. “I know the place isn’t very large, but, well, I have a small cot I could bring out, if one if you doesn’t mind the couch.”
Jamie jumped on the offer. “We’d love to!”
Sighing softly, the Doctor said, “If it isn’t too much trouble.”
“It’s no trouble at all.”
And so it was that the men moved aside the low table in front of the couch and Victoria set up a small little cot for Jamie. The Doctor curled up on the couch, beneath a thick, warm quilt and he pretended to sleep. Jamie, of course, didn’t. The boy helped Victoria find bedclothes for the cot. Then, he followed her into the kitchen when she slipped away to prevent their voices from waking the Doctor.
“Jamie,” she scolded in soft tones. “You have to stop this.”
“What will it take t’ convince you I’m serious?” Jamie asked, his voice a husky whisper as they tried to keep quiet enough not to disturb the Doctor.
“I realize you’re serious,” Victoria said. “And I’m flattered by everything you’ve said. Well, almost everything. You were very rude to me, earlier. And . . . that’s exactly it, Jamie. You really don’t know who I am, and I don’t know who you are. Not any more. You don’t even remember the me that I once was.”
“Victoria, please,” he said. “I know I don’t remember things, I know y’ don’t care for me the way I care for you, I know that y’ think I’m too young, but you’re wrong. I know this is right. I can’t travel with him forever,” he said earnestly. “I don’t think he even expects me too. I’m here now, against all odds. Doesn’t that mean something t’ you? Why would he pick me up again and try t’ restore my memories if it wasn’t t’ bring me back t’ you?”
“I don’t know,” she admitted.
“I’d work hard. I could get a job here. I learn quickly. I’d be good for Kemel.”
Victoria’s eyes darted. “There’s still the issue of Robert. He’s very good for Kemel. And for me.”
“Och, Robert. Unless he marries y’ he’s no good for anything.”
“Marriage just isn’t that important to me anymore, Jamie. Love is.”
“Aye! Well, I’m in love with you! Surely y’ can appreciate that!”
“Of course,” she said, softly. “But Jamie. Jamie, you’re a dear, dear friend to me. You always have been. I’ll never forget the surprise and relief I felt when you first burst into my room to rescue me from the Daleks. You’ve always been such a wonderful friend. But all the same, I’ve always viewed you like that: as just a friend. Like a brother.”
“A brother!” Jamie cried.
“Shh,” she quickly said. “The Doctor’s trying to sleep.”
“Let him!” Jamie said. His tone gentled. “Y’ never felt for me at all? Not ever?” He sounded crushed.
“Oh, dear, sweet Jamie,” she began. “I had thought once . . . maybe . . .” She shook her head. “But, no. No, not ever. Not seriously.”
The silence seemed to stretch like a gulf between them. Jamie opened his mouth several times to begin to speak, but always shut it before saying anything.
At last, he managed. “And y’ won’t even try. Y’ won’t even give me a chance?”
“How can I?” Victoria said. “You’re here with the Doctor. He couldn’t stay while we tried to figure things out.” Raising her chin defiantly, she added, “And I love Robert.”
Jamie’s eyes flashed, and in one quick, fluid movement, he had grabbed Victoria around the waist and brought her to him, crushing his mouth against hers. She let out a muffled cry, but did not pull away. His hands tightened against her, his mouth opening to hers.
Once recovered from the surprise, she did not pull back; instead she kissed him. It was not the kiss of a girl with her brother. There was a slow burning passion between them and by the time they pulled apart, Victoria found herself clinging to Jamie’s shirt, pulled against his chest.
“Well, that’s settled, then,” Jamie gruffly said, refusing to let go of her.
Victoria’s cheeks turned scarlet and she released him, pulling out of his embrace. Embarrassed, she wiped at her mouth. “It was just a kiss,” she said.
“Aye, just a kiss,” he echoed. “And your tongue was down my throat.”
“Jamie!” she hissed. “I . . . I really shouldn’t have. I’m sorry.”
“Och, but y’ did. And y’ enjoyed it, like I knew y’ would.” He tugged on his kilt belt again, manfully. “Admit, Victoria. Y’ fancy me just as much as I fancy you.”
“I’ve already told you my answer, Jamie. I’m sorry. I should go to bed.” She turned away from him, preparing to depart the kitchen.
“Victoria,” he said, catching her by the wrist, preventing her from leaving. “Stop running away,” he insisted. “I’m no’ going anywhere.”
“That’s why I’m leaving,” she said sadly. “It’s been wonderful to see you and the Doctor again, but I can’t do this. I just can’t.” She shook her arm out of his hand. “I’m sorry. There’s someone out there for you, but it isn’t me.”
Before he could reply, she slipped out of the kitchen and hurried upstairs.
Jamie found himself alone in the quiet flat for some time, unsure of what had just happened. All he knew was that he could still taste Victoria on his lips, and she didn’t taste the way he couldn't quite remember.
Jamie stayed awake late into the night, lying on the cot, staring at the ceiling, listening to the Doctor softly breathing beside him. It felt so peaceful there, lying next to the Doctor in that strange room, but he couldn’t explain why. He finally drifted off as the first rays of sun began filtering in through the front window. Less than two hours later, Victoria was up making breakfast and seeing Kemel off to school.
The Doctor joined her at some point, and eventually the little man came to rouse Jamie, gently trying to press a hot mug of tea into his hands. “Come along, Jamie,” he kindly said. “It’s morning and Victoria’s already late for work.”
Jamie was ready to tell the Doctor to sod it all and roll over, but the thought of missing Victoria before she disappeared for another long day at a job made him bolt up right. He easily pushed the Doctor out of the way and padded into the kitchen, where Victoria was neatly packing herself lunch.
“Good morning,” she politely said. “The Doctor tells me you’ll be leaving while I’m at work. I think it’s for the best.”
“What!” Jamie cried. “No! Victoria, please,” he said, intensely. “What about last night? When we kis—”
“I’m going to be late,” she abruptly said, cutting him off. “It was marvelous to see you both. I hope you’ll visit again.” The Doctor had wandered into the room, setting Jamie’s untouched mug of tea on the counter. Victoria went to him, kissing both his cheeks again before embracing him tightly. “I will miss you.”
“And I you, my dear,” he said, returning the hug.
Jamie managed to look like a kicked puppy. “Victoria, you can’t,” he pleaded.
She picked up her lunch, neatly packed into a bag, and tried to avoid looking at Jamie. “This is my life, Jamie. I hope you’ll visit again, too.” She started to open her arms, to hug him, then thought better of it and stuck out her hand instead. “Goodbye, Jamie.”
He stared at her hand as if shaking it would bite him. He twisted imploringly, to look at the Doctor, hoping that he could somehow, at last, resolve this situation. Then Victoria reached out, grabbed his hand and shook it. She smiled tightly and then made for the door swiftly. There were tears in her eyes.
“Please lock up when you go,” she called from the foyer, her voice wavering. And then she was gone, the front door clicking shut softly.
Jamie was alone again. He felt like sinking to his knees. The thought of putting his tail between his legs and returning to the TARDIS was like accepting the ultimate failure. It made him sick to think of doing so.
“Your tea is getting cold,” the Doctor quietly said, somewhere behind him.
The Doctor was still there, Jamie reminded himself. The Doctor seemed like he’d never go away. He was so much a part of Jamie that it was like he wasn’t even around. Turning, he took the little man in. His eyes hardened as he looked at the familiar face. He hated that he couldn’t remember this man; that he depended on him so much for everything. “I don’t want it,” he coldly said.
“You can’t force her to love you,” the Doctor replied, cutting directly to the point.
It was like the man had slapped Jamie. He looked away, resolutely. “She’s just trapped by circumstances. In time, she’d change her mind. I know she would.”
“You can’t predict that she will, just as I can’t predict that she won’t,” the Doctor said. “But if she doesn’t you’ll have wasted all that time.”
“If it’s for Victoria, it’s no’ wasted,” Jamie hotly said.
The Doctor nodded, folding his hands in front of him. “I know.” He looked at the tea on the counter, shaking his head. “It’s a long way back to the TARDIS,” he said, walking out of the room. In the sitting room, he began folding Jamie’s blankets and put his cot away.
The room was tidy by the time Jamie finally appeared in the doorframe, leaning against it. He had come to a decision. “I’m no’ going with you.”
The Doctor didn’t look up from where he was arranging the throw pillows on the couch, but his shoulders slumped appreciably. “Jamie,” he began.
“If she can stand this life, living here and make due, then so can I. If I’m here with her, going through th’ things she’s going through, she’ll see. She’ll have to, won’t she? In a year or two, she’ll understand. I can wait for her.”
“Is that really want you want?” the Doctor asked. He sat down on the couch, pulling one of the throw pillows to him. “I can’t wait here with you, in case you change your mind.”
There was something in the way the Doctor looked at him that made Jamie doubt himself for a few seconds. “It’s worth it, isn’t it?” he asked, his tone soft. “Isn’t love worth it?”
“Of course it is,” the Doctor answered. “If you really, truly feel strongly enough about her to risk it. I could do my best to help you . . . perhaps try to get you some paperwork so you could work . . . find some money.” He lowered his eyes to the low table, which had been put back in place. “It wouldn’t be easy.”
“I’m no’ afraid,” Jamie hotly countered.
“No. I know you aren’t. But it will be hard, and thankless. Victoria might be terribly upset. And,” he took a deep breath. “Jamie, if she decides against you . . . she could end up staying with that man, Robert. She might marry him and have more children with him. And you would be stuck here watching them. You would have to be happy for her. Happy for her happiness.” He got to his feet, setting the pillow back. “If you really loved her, you could let her go.”
Jamie didn’t like the way the Doctor was looking at him. He shrugged and turned away. “What else is there, for me?” he asked, almost to no one in particular.
“There’s so much more, Jamie. There are so many things you’ve forgotten. You felt this way about Victoria before, and you were still able to leave.”
Jamie sharply turned around, glaring at him now. “I thought y’ weren’t supposed t’ tell me that sort of thing?”
“I’m not,” the Doctor said, looking properly shamefaced. “I thought you’d have remembered by now. You weren’t happy to go then, and she was less happy to see us leave, but we all three knew it was for the best.”
“Then what happened?”
The Doctor smiled faintly. “We went back into the TARDIS and continued on our travels. And you never stopped missing Victoria, but you lived your life—happily I might add—and she lived hers.”
“It feels like failure, leaving her.”
“She’s not a conquest, Jamie.” The Doctor glanced around the room and, finding nothing left to straighten, fidgeted with his hands. “And even if she were, it’s all right to lose, sometimes.”
“Doctor,” he said, his voice soft. “If I go, I don’t think I’ll ever be th’ same again.”
Smiling, the Doctor nodded. “I should hope not. If you don’t learn and change from your experiences, there’s no future for you at all.” His eyes brightened a bit. “Come along, Jamie. We’ve done what we came here for.”
Jamie took a deep, shuddering breath as he looked around the living room one last time. He wasn’t going to cry, but he felt like he could. Trying to imprint the smell of the house, the touch of the fabric, the very details of this life into his head, he swallowed hard and followed the Doctor to the foyer.
Stepping out into the bright sunshine, Jamie blinked excessively, trying to adjust to the light change. Behind him, the Doctor locked the front door and came to stand beside him. “You did a very brave thing today, Jamie,” he nobly said. “I’m very proud of you.”
“Och,” Jamie groaned. “I don’t expect y’ t’ understand any of it.” He hurried down the flight of steps, away from Victoria’s, eager to get as far from her and this place as quickly as possible, before he changed his mind.
On the steps, the Doctor watched the boy go, smiling sadly to himself. “I understand more than you know, Jamie,” he replied, but his voice was too soft, and Jamie was too far away to hear him. At last the Doctor took a deep breath of the cool air and warm sunshine and started down the steps too, walking leisurely to catch up with the boy, soaking up the pleasant morning as he did.