"Hey." Izzy said.
"Hey." Destrii said.
Izzy sat down next to her. "So..."
"You were right, you know." Izzy finally said.
"Your home's a nightmare."
Destrii chuckled humourlessly. "Tell me about it. I spent eighteen years - *eighteen years* - in that hellhole. You'd wanna get out fast as you could, too."
"I *do*, remember?" Izzy said. "I met your mother."
Destrii winced. "Oh joy."
Izzy turned to her. "She's insane. She's absolutely, completely insane."
"You hadn't guessed?" Destrii said.
"I think my first clue was when she clobbered me for not using her proper title." Izzy said, an edge to her voice.
"Mm. Hey, if it pisses her off, no problem." Destrii said.
"If it pisses her off, she'll kill me!"
"She won't. You're the Primatrix, only child of the Matriax. She won't kill you. You're too valuable."
"No. She'll just kill everyone you ever met." Izzy said. "And that's another thing. 'Primatrix'? *Primatrix*? You're a /princess/?"
Destrii winced again. "Tell the whole world, why don't you? Yeah, I'm a princess - not like I ever actually asked for the job, 'kay?"
"Not like *I* ever asked for the job either, thanks so much." Izzy said acidly.
"Hey, I thought you were dead!" Destrii said. "The posse couldn't exactly haul you back if you were _dead_, could they?"
Izzy's voice dripped poison. "Somehow, I don't think you were trying to kill me for my own benefit."
Destrii sighed. "Are you _still_ hung up on that? I had the chance to dodge Mum's posse, so I took it."
"By stealing my body and trying to kill me." Izzy pointed out.
Destrii shrugged. "Hey, it seemed like a good idea at the time."
"Not where I was sitting. And there's the small matter of _why_ they wanted to haul you back." Izzy eyed Destrii. "The small matter of your wedding?"
"Oh." Destrii said.
"Yeah, 'oh'. And if the groom's anything like the rest of those loonies..." Izzy shuddered. "No thanks."
"Oh, I think you'll be surprised."
Izzy sighed. "Somehow, that doesn't reassure me."
She turned to Destrii. "Y'know... I don't get it. You're a princess. You've got a whole planet kneeling before you. I'd've thought you'd be right up there, having the time of your life, yelling 'Off with their heads', no matter how loopy your mum is."
"Yeah? Lemme tell you a little something." Destrii said. "It means _squat_. Zip. Zilch. Zero. It's your whole life, and nothing _but_ your whole life. You're expected to play the dutiful daughter, the beautiful princess... having everyone hang on your every word gets *dull* real fast, 'specially when you know the only reason they're doing it is 'cause you're the princess.
"That, and the fact your mum's likely to kill anyone who talks to you on the grounds they're trying to cuddle up to her.
"Not me. I wanted something a little _more_ in my life, y'know? Some _excitement_, some adventure... wanted to get out there and see the universe.
"So I did."
"So where'd a princess learn to fight like that?" Izzy inquired.
"You've met Mum." Destrii said. "And believe me: where I come from, if you don't fight, you're fish sticks."
"You think the court's bad? Wait 'till you see the rest of the place." Destrii added. "You arrive, you _don't_ leave."
"You haven't seen the Doctor." Izzy told her. "He can get out of _anywhere_. They haven't built the trap that can hold him."
Destrii raised an eyebrow. "Yeah? We'll see 'bout that. The whole _world's_ a deathtrap. They didn't call it Oblivion because it sounded good, y'know."
"It's a continuing series." Izzy said. "Pretty big clue right there, I thought."
Destrii considered that. "Huh. Could be... if anyone could manage it, it'd be him... we'll see, we'll see."
"Oh, I think you'll be surprised..." Izzy said, golden eyes sparkling. "I know /I/ was..."
"This is just like a fairy tale."
Fitz raised an eyebrow. "What, the Fish Princess?"
Charley glared at him. "I'm *serious*, Fitz."
Fitz raised his hands. "Sorry, sorry."
"It's like... the beautiful princess who escapes her evil mother and the arranged wedding, and runs straight into the bold dashing hero..."
"...And then the beautiful princess steals the hero's companion's body and tries to kill her." Fitz considered. "What d'ya know, it /is/ like a fairy tale."
"*Fitz...*" Charley sighed heavily. "I don't know. Izzy always dreamed of being an alien princess, but having it granted like _this_..."
"Be careful what you wish for," Fitz said, his eyes shadowed. "You just might get it."
"It can't be easy for her, you know." Charley said, regarding Fitz from under her eyelashes. "Finding you're suddenly engaged under false pretences, and expected to go through with it or die."
"Yeah. You _would_ know about that..." Fitz admitted.
"And don't you forget it," Charley said, the twitch of a grin tugging at her lips.
She sobered. "If I had to live through what Destrii did, I'm not sure I wouldn't end up that twisted... I know it doesn't excuse what she did, but..."
Fitz considered, then nodded. "Mm. Yeah. Yeah. If it hadn't been for the Doc, _I_ might've ended up like that."
Charley double-took. "Wh-What?"
"Y'know something everyone seems to forget?" Fitz said. "My mum went insane. Insanity *literally* ran in my family." He snorted. "Yeah, *right*, like that qualifies me to start spouting off on psychology."
"Um... well, you managed to stay sane after everything you went through..." Charley suggested tentatively.
"That's par for the course. If we actually reacted like any normal sane human being would, we'd be totally psycho." Fitz observed.
His eyes widened. "Oh... My... God. Oh my god."
"What? What is it?"
"We've been *idiots*! We've been complete and total idiots! Y'know why Nyssa snapped? Why she went completely psycho? Think 'bout it." Fitz started counting off on his fingers. "Her dad gets taken over by the Master, her whole homeworld goes ka-boom, one of her closest friends *dies*... Jesus H Christ. We should've seen it coming, but oh no. The good guys never snap in 'Doctor Who'." Fitz snorted. "Yeah, right. No wonder we're not bloody equipped to deal with it!
"And now we've got _two_ psycho alien princesses on our hands." He shook his head. "Have I mentioned just how much I love this job?"
"Charley?" Fitz said.
Charley shook her head. "It's... it's nothing, probably. I just wondered... would Nyssa see Destrii as a threat?"
Fitz considered. "Nah. As long as you're not going after Adric, she's not gonna feel threatened. She never tries going for the Master, why'd she come after Destrii?"
Charley ahemmed. "I suppose."
"Nah, she's fine if you nick her schtick. Just don't go after Adric." Fitz said. "'Sides, Destrii's just a teeny-weeny bit more unpredictable - she'll kill you, yeah, but only if it's the easiest way to get what she wants."
Charley frowned. "Are you sure?"
"No. Like I said, she's unpredictable. But think about it: all the shit she did to Iz was 'cause she didn't wanna go back - and this was the easiest way to dodge the posse. Iz'd get blasted to Kingdom Come, and the posse'd think Destrii was dead. Thing was... she thought she could pass herself off as Iz - make a few quips. drop a few geek refs. But that's _not_ Iz - or even _all_ of Iz."
"Izzy's got a conscience, for one thing." Charley said.
"Oh yeah." Fitz said, leaning forward. "The thing is... well, basically, just don't let her get cornered. She _knows_ we come back out here if someone kills us - so why'd she kill anyone?"
"If..." Charley said slowly. "If she thought it was the easiest way to buy herself time."
"Mm-hmm. So what we've gotta do is try and avoid that."
"And hope we're right." Charley said.
"Yeah." Fitz said. "'Cause I've got the horrible feeling we're only gonna find out if any of this is right the hard way."
"I've got the horrible feeling you're right." Charley said. "What do we do in the meanwhile?"
"Meanwhile? We *don't* give Destrii the 'sorry 'bout your loony mum' thing, we *don't* let her get cornered, we drop the whole 'psycho' thing - we *know* what she's capable of, but it doesn't exactly help things 'round here..." Fitz sat back in his chair. "And we at least *try* to remember that yeah, she got whacked - and she whacked Izzy."
Charley considered that. "Like the Doctor and Zagreus, then?"
Fitz winced. "...Yep. Like the Doctor and Zagreus."
"Oh... _wonderful_." Charley said finally. "Lucky us."
"Yeah..." Fitz said. "Lucky us..."
"I'm still here."
"Yeah." Izzy let out a sigh. "Yeah, I know. Congratulations."
"On what?" Destrii said.
Izzy regarded her. "You got what you wanted, didn't you? Getting to travel with the Doctor?"
Destrii snorted. "Yeah, *right*. He only wants /me/ so he can get /you/. _You_ get to fly off 'round the galaxy while _I'm_ left stuck back home for life. Oh yeah, _that's_ getting what I want."
"If you'd asked-" Izzy began.
"Oh right. Like that's gonna shake the posse."
"Might have." Izzy said. "The Doc's like that - he _loves_ messing with the badguys. And he'd have gone on to overthrow your mum for an encore."
Destrii sighed. "Too late to ask, I suppose..."
"Why didn't you ask?"
Destrii snorted again. "Yeah, *right*. He's good... but taking on Mum's posse? No way he would've beaten /them/ off."
"You never know." Izzy said. "'Sides, it comes with the companion thing - he always manages to win through somehow."
"Yeah? I'd like to see him try..." Destrii almost grinned, then. "Be nice to see someone clobber those idiots, I have to admit..."
"You'll probably get a chance." Izzy said.
"Assuming he manages to survive long enough."
Izzy almost grinned at that one. "Oh, he will."
"You think he's really that good?" Destrii said.
"Yes." Izzy said simply.
"*Really* that good?"
"Huh." Destrii said. "We'll see."
She stretched, sighed.
"So what're you going to do now?" Izzy said quietly.
"Does it matter?" Destrii said.
Izzy sighed. "Look, they don't like you-"
"Well, you would say that. They've all taken your side."
"Can you blame them?" Izzy said.
"Yeah. Why? What's so special about you, little miss dweebazoid?"
Izzy shrugged. "Nothing. It's not 'cause I'm anything special - furthest thing from it."
"They're my friends." Izzy said simply.
"Why?" Destrii pressed.
"Because of the Doctor." Izzy answered. "If it weren't for him, we wouldn't have met. Wouldn't have ended up sticking together." She shrugged. "And somehow, it all manages to work. We actually manage to get along without killing each other."
"Must be nice." Destrii said.
"No-one said it was fun and games. But we get by, y'know?"
"Like the Addams Family." Destrii said.
Izzy actually grinned. "Yep, that's us. Like the Addams Family, but *weirder*."
Destrii carefully moved away from her. "Okay... Okay, now you're scaring me."
"I'm scaring _you_?!" Izzy said.
"You guys as the Addams Family? I can see it, and there's no way I'm going _there_."
"Shame." Izzy said. "I was kinda thinking of having an 'Addams Family' marathon later..."
"Yeah? Count me in." Destrii said.
Izzy eyed her. "Weren't you the one saying we were scaring you?"
"Yeah, so? I'm not gonna let that put me off."
"You wouldn't, would you? You really wouldn't."
"Hey, it's not _my_ problem if they can't deal." Destrii said. "Let them get all hot under the collar 'bout it. Me, I've got a marathon to catch."
Izzy shook her head. "You're incorrigible, you know that?"
"Uh-huh. Where's the popcorn?"
Summary: On family and friends.
Author's note: Charley's would-be marriage was in 'The Stones of Venice'.
And yes, Destrii is an alien princess (or close enough).
Disclaimer: 'Doctor Who' and Fitz are copyright the BBC, Charley is copyright Big Finish, and Izzy and Destrii are copyright Panini.
Copyright 2002 Imran Inayat.