Story: Nor Grave Nor Bed Denied
Author: LizBee and Branwyn
Word Count: 2,343
Author's Summary: In the wake of the destruction of Skaro, Romana receives a visitor.
Characters/Pairings: Romana II, The Doctor (7th)
Recced because: As you may have noticed only the other day, I remain as obsessed by Doctor/Romana as I ever have been, and by that murky period between Survival and Rose which presumably led up to the Time War and which may or may not have been accurately depicted in the 90s novels. This ticks all of those boxes, as well as hinting strongly at Seven/Romana, which as far as I'm concerned is second only to Four/Romana in terms of being right up my fannish alley. ...so to speak.
This fic also takes its lead from the audio story The Apocalypse Element, with which you may or may not be familiar (it's very good, btw, if you ever get the chance to listen). I don't think you need to be to work out very quickly what the backstory is. In some ways not knowing and going only on the hints provided in the fic makes Seven and Romana's somewhat difficult conversation here even more strained and effective. And what a conversation it is; I love the way the two characters are portrayed here, both older and wiser and more damaged than they were in their heyday together, still with that connection but with so much pain and baggage by now to go with it. I think there's an understandable tendency in fanfic to idealise the character relationships that appeal to us and to disregard the fact that real relationships, however idyllic, invariably have their ups and downs and messy patches. This treatment of the Doctor and Romana is all the more commendable for not falling into the trap while also clearly having a lot of affection for both characters and their shared history.
There may be a hint of the far more difficult relationship the Doctor and Romana had in the EDA novels, which isn't one of my favourite choices that those novels made, but even that shows and honesty and willingness to face up to the less comfortable part of Who "canon" that adds to the strength of the story. Most of all, they are portrayed as two characters who are at the point in their association where they cannot fool each other at all, however much they might want to, and who are both well aware of that fact.
All this and numerous little nods to various bits of Who lore established in several different versions of continuity. You may know by now that I'm a sucker for that sort of thing and prepared to award all the bonus points to anything that acknowledges the weirdness that is LOOOMS!
So once again I urge to you head over to the Teaspoon post haste and read this rather spiffing fic, and then to be sure to leave words of appreciation for the author. And that, for now, is my work here done.
His appearance in the doorway was both gradual and abrupt, a graceful sidling into view. His face, pale and eerie in the dim light, shocked his name from her lips. Her voice was low and harsh. He leaned against the door-frame, looking down at her, his face unreadable. He had a new body -- new to her -- smaller, older, more intense.
"What are you doing here?" she asked.
"Visiting my dearest friend."
"Hell of a time to turn up uninvited." The reverberations of his arrival were passing off, and she was acutely aware of his scrutiny. "The chancellery guards--"
"Won't trouble me. Nor will Braxiatel," Romana heard the elaborate distaste in the Doctor's voice, "unless, of course, you wish to call them in--"
"And have you arrested?" Romana's lips twitched, not quite a smile. "It would be easier to ask you to leave."
"Or," he said, looking away from her at last, turning to take in her spartan room and tangled blankets, "you could offer me a cup of tea."
Romana said nothing.
"And a biscuit," he added.