Romana bristled as she backed against the cold wall-radiator in the sanitarium's foyer, the low temperature of the steel chilling her behind through the thin silk of her underwear. Matron Savage, Cross and Brent advanced on her with the weighty leather straitjacket, its myriad fastenings jingling and rattling. Savage's demeanor was a gleeful interpretation of her name . . .

"Look, stop this now!" Romana demanded as haughtily as she could but with all the tremulous conviction of (what appeared to be) a young blonde standing in the foyer of a mental institution in her underwear and high heels. She arched her back and huffed her chest out to gain some command over the situation but this seemed to have entirely the wrong effect on both the men present, Brent's tongue flicking-out over his lower lip like a reptile . . .

Romanadvoratrelundar skittered to the side, nudging a plastic-seated chair to the right, and slid on the waxed floor. Why had she attempted to wear the awful shoes? It wasn't the constraints of fashion, those didn't bother her, but they did bring her closer to the Doctor's imperious height. They were certainly some of the most uncomfortable things she'd ever worn and she wondered how the locals managed in them without a Timelady's recuperative powers? It was these cursed shoes that caused her to be caught and nearly stripped bare the last time!

"Oh look, this is ridiculous," she pleaded, "I'm not who you think I am, I am not a patient here!" Still they approached . . .

Oh, this couldn't be happening! She was a Timelady from the exalted planet of Gallifrey and now here she was, stripped to her underclothes and about to be bound in medical restraints like a common human, an unstable one at that! She flicked her long blonde tresses out of her face and braced herself with her legs apart but glanced-down to see her white knee socks. They made her look ridiculous and vulnerable, but what DID you wear with a school uniform?

"Hey now, hold on guys . . ." came a voice from behind her and she shot a glance over her shoulder to see a tall, muscular man in hospital garb and felt enormously grateful! Romana looked him up and down and decided she wouldn't mind keeping him as a traveling companion or pet, herself . . .

"Stay away from her Jennings, she's dangerous!"

"Oh come on, really?" He pointed to her, "Is this little girl sooo dangerous?"

Though the man was trying to help, she felt her ire rise at being described in such a condescending manner but bit-back her retort.

"Okay darlin', let's give it a shot. Explain slowly and clearly who you are."

"Thank you, Mr. Jennings," she acknowledged gracefully and placed her hands on her hips in (but for her state of undress, what would have been) a commanding pose. "My name is Romanadvoratrelundar of the planet Gallifrey. I mean you no harm. As an alien you should treat me with due deference as befits an ambassador from another world-"

She got no further as she was pounced on by her erstwhile saviour from behind who gripped her forearms, thrusting them out to receive the jacket. The others ran at her, pushing it on and the Gallifreyan squealed as she was cocooned in the stiff, leather restraints with her arms buckled together behind her.

"NO! Don't do this to me! Get it off! GET IT OFF NOW! PLEASE!" she wailed till a sponge-rubber bung was stuffed into her mouth, fronted by a black plastic stopper.


Jennings gently lifted her hair to fasten the strap behind her head and the final indignity was when a trailing strap at the rear of the garment was tugged-up tightly between her legs by a grinning Matron Savage and yanked through the heavy buckle on Romana's torso. The Timelady groaned with discomfort. The tight leather jacket constricted all upper body movement and the gag stopped all speech - what was wrong with these fools? She'd told them the truth, they should have bowed down before her!

Greg Jennings had his back to her and rubbed the side of his face ruefully, unaware of the playful push backward the Matron gave the securely trussed-up woman. Romana teetered back, but to Cross, Brent and Savage's disappointment didn't fall over. Romana did however slip and slide awkwardly and turn from them to totter to the plate glass frontage of the building, attempting to nudge the doors open with her head.

A chorus of suppressed sniggers accompanied her pathetic attempts at escape and both Matron Savage and the others thought of the amusing spectacle of her staggering out of the doors and around the grounds in the rain if she could get out. Brent fingered his key-card in his pocket but Savage read his mind with an evil smirk and shook her head, nodding toward the still present Jennings. Brent pouted, it would have been funny . . .

Outside, the rain hammered down, lashing the glass and grounds of the building with elemental force.

"Jeez guys, I'm sorry but she seemed so lucid at first . . ."

To her shame, the haughty Timelady slammed her head against the plate glass with her eyes shut. She groaned desperately around the gag and sagged to her knees.

"Now you see what we have to put up with around here!" snapped Brent in his nasally whine, stroking his goatee.

Jennings moved back to Romana, her head resting on the door, moaning pitifully. He hoisted her up to her feet by the side loops on the jacket, she couldn't have made it on her own, and leaned toward her:

"I'm sorry honey, but you really are a fruit loop!"

Romana's forehead cracked across the bridge of his nose and he howled in pain. She was immediately spun around by a grinning Brent and hoisted over his shoulder, hissing around the gag as his hot hand clasped her buttock - it was hardly a safety measure - and she thought of her forthcoming time in the institution with dread . . .

"Doctor, just how much longer is K9 going to be offline?"

The immensely tall, brooding figure in shirtsleeves looked across at his traveling companion and blinked owlishly.

"How long is a piece of string?"

"What string?" Romana looked around. "Where?"

The Doctor had gotten along well enough with her in her previous body and indeed, it was the same person here in this new one, but he found his thoughts straying back to another, previous friend. Romana was no Sarah-Jane . . .

Ah, Sarah Jane Smith. The near-thousand year old Timelord got quite misty-eyed over that girl sometimes.

"Doctor, are you all right?"

"Yes, yes, of course I am! Must you be so annoying?"

"Oh." The Timelady frowned. There was something wrong here. "I'll go and see if I can find that string . . ." And with that, she exited the console room of the Tardis.

The Time Rotor moved rhythmically up and down with the Doctor peering deep into its innards. He cast a glance at the upended metal dog in the corner, its electronic guts hanging out and then his eyes strayed treacherously to the Randomiser - that essential piece of equipment that forestalled the darkest force in the universe from following them.

He smiled though. Sarah had known him. She'd been with him through two bodies and had helped him bridge the gap. A lump came to his throat when he thought of the abrupt way he's left her.

"I really ought to make amends," he vowed and disconnected the machine, " . . . lets see, South Croydon, wasn't it?"

Roaming the corridors of the fabulous Space/Time vessel, Romana bore a forlorn look. Had she lost a connection with the Doctor since her regeneration? They'd started out quite frostily together, as she had been foisted on him by the High Council, his superiors (though he would never consider them so). However, they got on well enough after the initial phasing-in period was over - she WAS rather a change from that jungle-girl!

Romana tramped along in her long coat and scarf ensemble (itself a gentle mockery of the Doctor's bohemian garb) and puzzled over the moods of the man. She had thought they'd forged a bond by now, certainly after their run-in with those awful Dalek-things! Now, however she wasn't so sure. She decided to retire to her quarters and think things through.

"I'll look for that string later . . ."

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