"Apologize!

That's the least you can do to try to make right something you have wronged."

― Sanhita Baruah


They waited two days before they decided it was a good idea to call him. Vastra, fearing he was still upset about something (for he must have been upset to treat them like that), was hesitant to call him even then. They all knew that he had made rash decisions before, and weren't in a hurry to him to become angry again like he was at Demon's run.

So late in the evening two days later, Jenny had finally pushed her enough to call him.

She reached the Doctor, and the first thing she said was, "When was the last time you've met me?"

She was relieved it when she heard a crisp answer, "I met you near the docks a few days back."

Then there was a pause, "I'm truly sorry that I caused you to lose your suspect. I should have been paying more attention."

"I've already forgiven you for that, Doctor," she sighed. "Why do you keep apologizing?"

There was a pregnant pause, and then the Doctor said, "I've also been inconveniencing you in... other ways."

"You have," Vastra agreed. "I apologize for that as well," he said quietly.

Therein lie the true problem. Why was he so apologetic? Why was he in Victorian London, on all places, when he preferred the twenty-first century to a fault? Why was he here for such a presumably long time?

Vastra could hear his sincerity, but there was something wrong with it. He had once told her "an apology in person is much more than one over mail" when she had tried to gain forgiveness from that families of the tunnelers she slaughtered, so why was he apologizing over the telephone? Was the direct communication better in his eyes, so one could tell sincerity?

No, that was not it. He said "in person". That only meant that he didn't want to meet her. Was it out of guilt from his "inconvenience", or was there something else wrong?

Either scenario gave the conclusion that something in his life was off, so she took a gamble.

"We will accept your apology," she said, "On a single condition."

"And the condition is?" he asked, monotone.

"You meet us in person and apologize," she demanded. She could hear something rustling over the other end, but ignored it. Would he accept? Or would he tell her to bugger off?

"Where shall we meet?" he asked at last.

"That alley near the docks," she replied quickly.

"When?"

"Now."

"I'll be there," he replied, before the line went dead.

Vastra put the telephone down and went out to Jenny and Strax, who were awaiting the news in a nearby hallway.

"He's coming," she said, forgetting that she had not informed them of her plan.

"The Doctor's coming here?" Jenny asked, a slight frown on her face. "And the right him, at that?"

Strax also had questions. "Is he upset? Shall we need weapons?"

Vastra looked at Strax in a scolding fashion and said, "He would never attack us, Strax. You know that."

Jenny, feeling ignored, spoke again, "Is the correct him coming here?"

Vastra smiled at her and said, "No, we're meeting him near the docks, and it is the version we're looking for."

Jenny then looked down at her maid uniform. "Should I change?"

"Go as you are. We must meet him as soon as we can," she decided.

So they headed out to the docks, while the sun was setting, as quickly as they could.

It was a longer route than Vastra remembered, but they had to take the back alleys (Strax was out, and she had a thinner veil on), so it was excusable.

They arrived when the sun was lower on the horizon, as the last tendrils of its light were disappearing from view.

The Doctor was waiting for them, in his Victorian suit (without the bow tie Vastra was hoping for), and looking quite nervous.

The three approached him in a line, they're backs to the porting area. Both parties merely stood and waited for the other to speak first.

The tension (a quiet and uneasy one, as if one of them was carrying a gun, but not to the point where the gun being waved about) was broken when the Doctor took a step to them and stuffed his hands in his pockets, looking at the ground beneath Vastra's feet.

"I'm sorry," he said. Vastra could feel a genuine (foreign) feeling of guilt, shame, and distress (the very thing that sorry meant). "I've been..." he trailed off, trying to find a word.

"We know," Vastra said. She remembered the word he had said earlier: inconvenience, as if he been interfering and causing them trouble on a large scale, instead of just having them track him down in their spare time. She then nudged Jenny, who said, "We forgive you, naturally."

Then Vastra looked at him, and tried to see if there was a physical reason he was avoiding them. He was a bit gaunt, and maybe pale (though she was having trouble properly telling if it was only the setting sun's fault or not).

Other than that, there was no physical reason she could sense, so she asked, "Though I am intrigued, of why you went to such great lengths to avoid us."

For a moment, she could see a flash of fear run through him as a micro expression, which was quickly covered up by a stoic façade.

"It's just a precaution," he said, as if they would understand. Briefly, she felt the urge to leave it, and then realized that he was pulling his psychic abilities, trying to get them to accept such a vague statement without too much of a fuss.

She would not oblige.

"A precaution from what?" she asked.

He glanced toward her. "Something bad is going to happen. I merely want to prevent it."

"By not letting your friends contact you?" Vastra inquired, confused.

"Yes," he said simply, taking a step back from her. Her thoughts automatically processed this as his evasion and unwillingness.

"Then why are you here? Why not go to a period and place where no one would look for you?" Jenny asked, equally confused.

He shifted on his feet, and looked at her. "I can't go anywhere else, or explain why I'm can't contact you. It's complicated."

Then his eyes looked at all of them, and he nodded.

"I hope you're well, but I must be off now," he decreed.

Then he hastily left them and went out of the alley, disappearing.

Then Vastra turned to her henchmen and declared, "I'm following him."

"What?" Jenny asked, turning to her. "Why? I think he's telling the truth."

"He exerted the idea in your mind through his telepathic abilities, trying to manipulate us," Vastra said. "He's not well. I think he'll tell me more when we're alone."

"You two should go back home," she said with conviction, pointing in the general direction.

Jenny bit her lip, even as Strax was already walking back.

"I trust you, but please," she begged, "Don't do anything you'll regret."

Vastra gave her a reassuring smile and pulled her into a kiss.

"I can never promise you that, dear."

And then Vastra was off, following the Doctor's scent and going in the general direction that it led.