THIS TIME ROUND: RUFFLED FEATHERS
For untold millennia, it has been womankind's most effective weapon.
"You don't love me anymore!"
It would seem that, after all this time, the male sex would have dev-
eloped an effective counter to this oft-used line. However, this has
not proven to be the case.
"Hellfire, Nyssa! You know that ain't true..."
Anyone looking at the two -- and several bar-goers were doing just that
-- would have been struck by the absolute contrast between them. She
sat with poise and elegance, her posture denoting the dignity of one
raised an aristocrat. He used the table as a support, as he slouched
the slouch of the terminally overworked. She wore a finely-tailored
outfit of velvet, neat and correct in every particular. His cotton
uniform shirt was stained with sweat and grease and gaped in places,
while blood from a nasty sheet-metal cut dried on the back of one hand.
Her diction and accent were of the highest of finishing-schools and
very British. His was of someone that had barely finished school and
"How am I to know it's not true, Brad? Look at the evidence."
He hated this. Always had. Arguing with a woman was usually the most
pointless activity in the world. Trying to convince a woman that her
accusations were wrong was _always_ the most pointless activity in the
world. That was what he had learned from his last marriage, anyway. He
had always gotten in the last words in those arguments, but they were
always, 'I'm sorry.'
"What evidence?" he asked tiredly.
"This whole 'To Die For' business. I mean, you finally get around to
doing some stories about me, and what do you do? Portray me as a
homicidal maniac." The Traken girl made a show of dabbing at her eyes
and sniffling. "I thought you cared for me!"
"I do care..."
"So, your idea of showing that you care is to call me a 'homicidal
hellion' and a 'cute cutthroat'?"
"Well, yeah... I mean, no... I mean, uh... I said you was cute, didn't
Nyssa just stared at him.
"What?" he asked intelligently.
"There's someone else, isn't there?" she asked, her voice low and husky.
"Huh? What the--"
"Just be honest with me," she said. "It's that okonomiyaki chef, that
_Ukyou_, isn't it?"
"'Course not!" Brad exclaimed. "How can you say that?"
Sniff. "I know about all the time you've been spending over on rec.
arts.anime.creative and at the Ranma Fanfic Archive." Sniff. "I should
have guessed something was up when you dressed me like her in 'The
"Now hold on--"
"When's your first Ukyou fanfic due? Or have you already had one?"
"There's nothing between us!" he shouted, causing the patrons to stare.
"I like her, okay?" he continued in a lower voice. "But that's _all_."
"Is that okonomiyaki sauce on your hand?"
"No!" Brad's face began to redden. "It's _blood_! See?!" He swiped
at the scab and caused a spot of blood to dribble out. "I got cut on a
piece of ductwork. I ain't been to Ucchan's, I ain't written any fanfic
with Ukyou in it, and even if I do, you're still my favorite fictional
"Do you mean that?" she asked, eyes shining wetly.
"You like me more than Ukyou?"
"More than Susannah Dean?"
"More than that pirate Emeraldas?"
"More than Duare?"
"You better believe it."
Nyssa eyed him for a long moment, her expression carefully neutral.
At last, she drew in a long breath and said, "Liar."
Brad began to shake his head. "Damn it, Nyssa--"
"Like I'm going to believe all that. I'll have you know I stopped in at
your place on the way here, and had a very... _eye-opening_ look 'round
your hard drive."
"There were quite a few... _interesting_ fragments in your 'Unfin-
ished' file," she continued, overriding his attempts at explanation.
"It's bad enough, the things you've posted about me." Sniff, sniff.
"But the things you _haven't_ posted..." Nyssa shuddered for a moment
and looked ready to break down completely.
"Let's take a count, shall we?" she began bitterly. "You've got me as a
psychopath, a mad Empress, a lesbian..."
Ouch! She'd found _that_ file.
"... a blind cripple, a _lesbian_ psychopath..."
Ouch!! She'd found that _other_ file. Brad began to sink even lower
into his chair.
"... a vampire, and a sacrificial virgin. Did I miss anything?"
"Aheh heh. Well, you'll get out of being sacrificed before I'm done
with that one."
Nyssa rolled her eyes. "Gosh, I wonder _how_? Tell me, what is it
about me that attracts so many perverts? Never mind. I don't think I
really want to know."
"Nyssa, look," Brad said with increasing desperation. "Those stories,
they're just my way of showing my affection for you."
"Insults and violence are how you show affection in Alabama?" she asked
haughtily. "What was the War Between the States, then? Your version of
"I'm-- I'm just trying to do something _different_, is all..."
Nyssa rolled her eyes and brushed his arguments aside with an airy wave
of her hand. "Whatever. It's just fortunate for you that I'm not at
all the way you portray me. Luckily for you, the canonical me abhors
Brad looked thoughtful for a moment. "Actually," he said, "even on the
TV show, you did your share of fighting and shooting..." He shut up
abruptly as a staser pistol appeared almost magically in his face.
"I _said_ I abhor violence," Nyssa said frostily. "I also abhor wash-
ing dishes, but I do it when I have to." Her knuckle whitened on the
trigger. "Do you understand where I am coming from here?"
At his careful nod, she made the weapon vanish.
"I'm sorry," he said. If there was anything at all he'd ever learned
about women, it was, 'When in doubt, apologize'. That went triply true
for women with guns.
"So you are," she answered, making it apparent that she meant several
things by that. "And, since you are _so_ contrite, you can start making
it up to me by paying for my drinks."
"Oh, of course," Brad eagerly replied.
Nyssa stood and patted him on the head. "Good boy. And in the future,
how about writing some stories about what a nice girl I am? You know,
something like what Clive May does. I might just forgive you for this
"I'll, uh, give it a try."
She patted him again and flashed a heartbreaking smile. "See that you
do," she said.
He watched her walk to the door, his expression an odd mix of wistful
longing and fear for his life. She gave a little wave as she opened
the door, then paused and called back, "By the way, someone else would
like a word with you, as well." With that, she slipped off into the
"Eh... wha... someone else?" Brad's wits were still rather scattered
from the events of the last several minutes, and getting them to focus
properly was like trying to thread a needle while being punched
repeatedly in the head. "Who else could need to see me here?"
A moment later, his question was answered when someone sat down in
Nyssa's vacated seat. A very pretty someone, too. He didn't rec-
ognize her, although he was sure he would have remembered a girl with a
face like that and boobs like _that_ and a tattoo on her arm that looked
just like... the one... on his... own... arm...
Brad gaped rather stupidly at the .357 Magnum that seemed to have
materialized in the girl's fist and whose business end was now cen-
tered some six inches from the middle of his forehead. The redhead
"Now, punk," she hissed, "about this 'curse' business..."
'Doctor Who' is property of the BBC. This Time Round is the creation of