Summary: The Doctor enlists Harry's help.
Notes: I've gone with the idea that Harry's in MI-5, as he is in the books, although I don't reference anything from them.
"I'm so sorry," Harry said, slightly breathless as he sat down at the table opposite Sarah. "I got held up and...."
He trailed off as he watched her calmly finish the glass of wine that had been half full only moments before. He had expected her to be upset with him but not to this extent. After placing the glass back on the table, she gave him a look that dared him to comment. He winced. She had a tendency to be fashionably late, but he always made the effort to be on time.
She poured herself another glass of wine, not caring when some of it sloshed over the side, turning a spot on the tablecloth red. She slammed the bottle down on the table none too carefully and he jumped. None of it spilt though - there was not enough liquid left for that.
He felt he had to say something, given that she did not. "There's a first time for everything." He attempted a smile but sighed when her expression did not alter. Changing tack, he reached for her glass, but she was faster and pulled it towards her out of his reach before his fingers even touched it. She glared at him and he gave up on that idea for the time being. "You should have started without me."
"I did." She took a sip - and at least it was just a sip this time.
It was only when he looked down at the table more closely he noticed that although the full complement of knives and forks was present, there was nothing else. Not in front of her, or in front of him. She had certainly not started with the Starter and that was definitely not a good sign.
He sighed, poured himself some dutch courage and made sure the bottle stayed on his side of the table, out of her reach. It was also liable to be knocked off by his elbow, but since it was empty it did not really matter too much. He took a sip of his wine and grimaced - she was on the cheap stuff. "What's happened?" he asked, his voice soft and his face sympathetic. At least, he hoped it was.
She was immediately defensive. "What makes you think anything's happened?"
He raised an eyebrow, took another sip of wine, which did not improve the taste, and waited for her to speak.
She did not answer at first, instead twirling her glass round by the stem, staring at it intently. Eventually she pushed it away from her and slumped back in her seat with a sigh. "Turns out he was having an affair. With my boss."
He did not have to ask who 'he' was, since it was obvious from the context. He wished he could remember the name of the boyfriend, if she had ever mentioned it, but now was probably not the best time to ask.
He frowned, remembering something. "Isn't your boss...?"
Her voice was firm. "Yes."
He winced at her tone. He could not understand how anyone could do that to Sarah. And not only due to the likelihood of her roasting ones nuts alive, as he had heard her threatening to do once. "I'm sorry."
"I burnt all his stuff."
He smiled. "Good for you."
She gave him a weak smile in return and sat back up. "I'm better off without him." Although she sounded more like she was trying to convince herself of that.
Reaching for the untouched jug of water, he poured them each a glass and pushed one over to her hopefully. "You're too good for him."
"Of course I am." She gave him a quick grin before sighing again and reaching for the water. "So, why were you late?"
"It's a long story and I'm starving. Do you want anything else to eat?"
She shook her head.
"Well, I'll order." He looked round for a waiter and managed to catch the eye of one of them, who nodded and made his way over. "And you can steal my food while I talk."
"When have I ever done that?"
He raised an eyebrow at her; she stuck her tongue out at him. Fortunately, they were saved from getting any more childish by the arrival of the waiter.
Harry gave the menu a quick peek and ordered. "It all started on my way home from work. I heard a loud bang and when I looked round there was a girl lying in the road..."
It was obvious what had happened, even in the fading light: a red sports car had hit the girl, who was struggling to sit up while clutching her arm. Harry wasted no time in hurrying over. The driver was quick to jump out of his car and protest his innocence and her guilt at running out in front of him. A man in a jumper with question marks all over it was not far away and already fussing over the girl. From their demeanour Harry guessed they knew each other.
"Can I help?" Harry asked. "I'm a doctor."
"Oh, thank you," the odd man said, before looking up at Harry and grinning at him. "Of course!" He moved to one side to give Harry room to kneel down next to him.
"Where does it hurt?" There was evidence of tears on the girl's cheeks. She wiped her eyes roughly with the sleeve of her black jacket and sniffed before she answered. "Everywhere."
Harry decided to ignore that until she gave him something more specific to work with, and gingerly touched her arm. From the way she tensed he suspected it might be broken. He looked up. "Has anyone called an ambulance?"
"I'll go," the oddly-dressed man said, quietly.
"I'll be back soon, Ace." He touched her shoulder lightly and hurried off towards the houses at the end of the street.
Harry turned his attention back to his patient. "That's an interesting name."
"It's not my real name." She took a breath in as he shifted to give her arm more support while trying not to move it too much.
"Well, my name's Harry."
"Hello, Harry." She gave him a quick smile, which he returned.
A noise from behind made him look round to see that the driver had slumped to the floor, and was sat on the kerb, his head in his hands. Harry could not really blame him, since running someone over was undoubtedly a traumatic experience, but that should not prevent him from offering to help at least.
"Here," Harry said, "do you have a jacket to go with that suit?"
"Huh?" The driver looked up at him, confused for a moment. "Oh, er, yeah. It's in the car. Do you want me to get it?"
When he came back with the jacket, Harry took it off him, rolled it up and slid it carefully under Ace's arm. She breathed out deeply and when he looked up she was biting her lip. He gave her a smile. "I don't think it's that bad," he told her.
She nodded, but then looked up and over his shoulder. Harry could feel someone hovering but had assumed it was still the driver. When he looked up he could see that the driver was safely stood back on the pavement, although shuffling from one foot to the other. The person just behind Harry was the man Ace had called 'Professor'.
The professor came round to bend down behind Ace. Harry addressed them both. "I think it's just a broken arm. Easily fixed."
"I'm sorry," Ace said, looking behind her. "It's my fault, I should have been more careful."
"No." The professor shook his head. "It was an accident, no-one's to blame."
"It's going to be too late now, isn't it?"
The professor smiled and patted her shoulder. "We have plenty of time, don't worry."
"You mean we can go back and try again?"
Harry frowned, wondering what they were talking about, but it was really none of his business. Part of him entertained the notion that it might be time travel, although why that was his first thought he could not say. He knew time travel was possible, of course, and he knew people that did it. Well, one at any rate. However, it was unlikely that was what these two were referring to. He shook his head. He had been spending too much time in secret organisations these days, he decided.
The sound of sirens intruded on his thoughts and before they knew it, the ambulance was there. Harry stood to give the paramedics his assessment, then stepped back to let them do their job. Once Ace was safely in the ambulance, they asked if anyone was going with her.
"Ah, yes." The professor, who up until now had been hovering beside Ace and frowning, came to life.
"No. You go and save the world."
"I'm a big girl, Professor. I'm sure I'll be fine with the nice ambulance men."
Harry grinned at her tone, but hid it behind his hand.
The professor sighed. "All right, then, if you insist." He touched her nose with his fingertip. "I'll come and see you later."
She smiled and they closed the doors behind her.
The professor turned away from the ambulance. "Harry, you could be useful."
"I can? But--"
"Some aliens have crash landed nearby. They're benign usually, but apt to do something stupid when they're scared."
Harry opened his mouth but no words came out. This was not what he had been expecting. Okay, so his life with MI-5 was not always as exciting as it had been when he was in UNIT, but sometimes boring was a good thing. And at no point in the last few years had his life involved aliens. Except when Sarah had been suspicious of something and needed his help. "Um," he managed.
"I suspect they might be in need of a doctor, and I know they're not sailors, but I'm sure you'll cope."
Some part of Harry's brain decided this was all a bit too much to cope with and shut down. "What about the driver?" he asked, that being a detail he could deal with at the moment.
The professor waved a hand. "Let the police deal with them. Come on."
Harry thought the police might want to talk to them as witnesses and running away from them might not be such a good idea, but the professor was already taking long strides down the road, swinging his umbrella. So Harry really had no choice but to follow, having to jog to catch up.
They trekked through a forest Harry was not even sure he knew existed, and eventually he recovered his senses enough to ask about the aliens they were going to help. The professor's answers were not terribly enlightening though. Harry was just starting to wonder if it was all a trick and he had put himself in danger when he saw something between the trees, glinting off the setting sun.
As they got closer Harry was amazed to discover the object was big and silver. He smiled to himself. Somehow he had got used to the idea that aliens travelled in police boxes that were bigger on the inside. He wondered how no-one had noticed it earlier. Although it was somewhat off the beaten track the dog pooh he had seen on the way suggested that people did come down here.
"Hello!" the professor called, as they approached.
In response, a hatch on the side opened and something came out of it; it was not something human. It was green for a start, so it almost looked quite sickly. It was certainly a person, if a short one, being half Harry's height and he wondered if it was a child. When it spoke, the voice was deep but the language was not one he had ever heard. And given the timing of the pauses, he wondered if he was hearing it all.
The professor seemed to understand it though, and even spoke it back, gesturing at the ship as he did so.
"Harry!" The professor said, at an apparent lull in the conversation. "Come here and say hello."
"I'm afraid I don't understand the language," he said, although he stepped closer anyway.
The professor frowned. "That's odd, we're not that far away. Don't know what's wrong with the old girl."
The expression was so familiar for a moment that Harry's mind conjured up for him the image of a man with curly hair and a long scarf. He shook his head and just caught the word 'translator', which Harry took to mean he would have some way of communicating.
"It seems they do have some injured people," the professor continued, this time with Harry listening to him. "Go with Cliciix. I'll see what I can do for the ship."
Out of the corner of his eye Harry saw the professor frown. He did not have time to wonder why because the alien - Cliciix apparently - had already stepped through the hatch, back onto the ship. Harry bent over to get through it himself and discovered he was mistaken in thinking that he would be able to straighten up once he was inside. Since the aliens were three feet tall - based on the one he had seen so far anyway - it was logical that they would not need such high ceilings.
Harry followed Cliciix down the corridor, his back protesting as they went. Eventually the alien twisted a wheel on a door and stepped through. On the other side was a room with beds and equipment. This Harry could recognise as an infirmary, even if it was an alien one, and he immediately felt more comfortable with the situation.
He went over to one of the beds and knelt down, rubbing his back, but at least he was at the right height now. He wondered if any of them spoke English, as unlikely as it sounded, but someone had to be his translator - there was only so much he could do without being able to get answers to his questions.
Cliciix offered him a small, thin box the size of a large key. Harry took it and thanked him, unsure of what to do next. He realised what the box was when Cliciix made a sound and a moment later a deep "You're welcome," came from the box.
His eyes widened as he realised the meaning of the Doctor's earlier words. "You have translation technology!"
The box repeated his words in the alien language. Cliciix's reaction was merely to nod and wave a hand toward the patient.
"Oh, yes, of course," Harry mumbled. He turned back to the person lying in front of him. "What seems to be the trouble?"
The ensuing conversation was a little laboured, being as they both had to wait for the translation of their words, but eventually he managed to help. At least, he hoped he did, what with the alien's physiology being, well, alien. They did not seem to have very much medical knowledge either, but once he gave them an idea of how to treat the injured people they seemed happy enough.
By the time he had repeated the procedure for another patient he almost forgot he was dealing with aliens, so familiar was the routine. He started to enjoy himself, and once he had finished he stayed and chatted while he waited for the professor. He wanted to learn more about these people, not least why they had no-one with any medical knowledge on board.
"Doctors are very precious," one of them told him, "they're not allowed to leave our world."
As much as Harry was flattered at the idea of being thought of so highly, he had to wonder about this practise. "But what happens when one of you is injured? Like today." He wanted to get up and pace but had to be content with sitting on the floor and trying not to tower over anyone.
"Then we wait."
"And how many people die waiting?"
There were murmurs amongst them that the translator was unable, or unwilling, to translate, which Harry took to mean the answer was not one he wanted to hear. He noticed that Cliciix had taken no part in the conversation and instead stood by the door, scowling. Harry wondered what that was all about, but decided it might be best not to ask any more questions, lest he dislike the answers.
"Everything all right in here?" The cheerful voice of the professor interrupted, along with his head around the hatch. Although Harry appreciated the rescue, he was not so sure about the tone.
Harry got up, bent over, and went over to him. "Do you know what goes on here?" He whispered but since he had left the translator on the floor where he had been sitting, it did not matter. "These people were dying because they won't let their doctors travel."
"I know." The professor sighed. "My fault I fear."
Harry frowned at him, but the other man did not seem keen to elaborate. "Why? What on earth did you do?"
"Oh, nothing on Earth, I'm afraid."
Harry was at something of a loss. "Can't you talk to them? Make them see sense?" Harry knew his skills in influencing people would come up short when trying to convince aliens their ideas were nonsensical. Especially when he was not quite sure what was going on in the first place. He half-wished the Doctor was here. It was the sort of thing he would enjoy.
"Well, time to go," the professor said, and lifted his hat. He had gone off back down the corridor before Harry could protest.
Harry was left no choice but to follow and was at least grateful to be able to stand up straight again, once they were outside. "That's not done my back any good," he said, but his words were lost beneath a loud blast. He looked back to see the ship ascending straight into the air. Within a minute it was out of sight. He shook his head. If he had not seen it with his own eyes he would not have believed it. Even now he was uncertain he had not imagined the whole thing.
He turned back to the professor, only to see what was becoming a common sight of the back of him disappearing into the distance. "Hey!" Harry raced off after him.
"Was that it?" Harry asked, as he caught up.
"Why, what did you want? Daleks trying to exterminate us while we worked?"
Harry was speechless, not for the first time that day. This professor was a difficult man to have a conversation with. "Just who are you?"
The professor stopped and looked at him. Harry could swear there was a glint in his eye. "Don't you know?"
"No! But you seem to know me. You weren't there when I told Ace my name and I certainly never told you."
"Oh, it was a lifetime ago. Well, three really, but who's counting?"
Harry had the definite impression that there was more to this conversation and he was definitely floundering.
"I'm sure you'll work it out eventually." The professor started walking again, swinging his umbrella as he went.
Harry stayed where he was for a moment. This man definitely knew more than he was telling. And there was something strange about him. He was not the first person Harry had known like that. But it could not be, could it? "Doctor?" he called, in case he was right.
The professor said nothing, just kept walking, so Harry jogged up to him. Once he was level he could see the other man was smiling. Harry could not quite believe it had taken him this long to work it out.
"I thought Sarah was pulling my leg when she told me about regeneration."
"It's all true, Harry."
"I just can't quite... oh no!" The mention of her had reminded him and he checked his watch. She was going to kill him. "I'm late for dinner with Sarah. Um..." Harry paused as he saw the Doctor's face soften and wondered if he was going to say something. When he did not Harry bid him good evening and crossed the road they had just reached.
Once he reached the pavement he looked back to see the Doctor watching him. "Goodbye, Harry!" he called, and lifted his hat.
Harry gave him a grin and a wave and headed up the street.
"How long ago was this?" Sarah froze in the act of digging her fork into Harry's main course. He had long since given up the fight and pushed it more towards the middle of the table, so she did not knock anything over. He was not certain how drunk she was, or how much of her demeanour was just anger.
He considered. "Not long. I came straight here."
"Then he might still be here."
She put her fork down. "Come on." She pulled her coat and bag from the back of her chair and hurried to the door.
He called after her. "We can't just leave. What about the bill?" He picked up his jacket and hurried after her. She had at least stopped at the counter. "I haven't finished my dinner," he protested, but then she had not been in the mood to let him get his own way this evening to begin with.
"I want to pay the bill," he told the unfortunate young man behind the counter.
The waiter was unperturbed by this and calmly flicked through a pile of paper, while Sarah hopped from one foot to the other, looking at her watch. When he presented her with the bill, she snatched it from the counter before Harry could get a look at it.
He reached over and tried to take it off her. "Now, look here, old girl..."
She held it away from him, while digging about in her wallet. When she slapped the bill and some notes on the counter she looked at him smugly. The waiter picked it up and coughed. He showed them the amount, which was more than she had given him.
Sarah's face fell and she bit her lip. Harry decided it would be wisest to say nothing, and made up the required amount. She gave him a smile at least, and turned towards the door. Harry grabbed her arm. "A few more minutes isn't going to make a difference, old girl."
"It might. And don't call me that." She snatched her arm out of his grip.
Harry sighed. Even though they had been friends for years, he sometimes still did not understand her. By the time he made it out of the restaurant she had started off up the street. She ignored him when he called after her, so he had to grab her hand and pull her round so they were going in the right direction.
"I think the TARDIS is probably around here somewhere," Harry said, once they reached the spot where he had first met the Doctor and Ace. He looked around, trying to work out which way they would have come from, given that he knew where they were headed to. "This way," he said, and headed in the opposite direction to the forest.
"Are you sure?" Sarah asked, but followed him anyway.
He did not bother replying because he knew she would not like the answer. As they walked she looked around corners, so she spotted it before him, standing by the kerb at the end of a cul-de-sac. Almost as soon as they saw it, there was a familiar noise as it started to dematerialise.
"No!" she shouted, and rushed past him. "Doctor!"
The Doctor either did not know she was there, or he ignored her, because the TARDIS had disappeared by the time she reached it. "No," she said again, and sunk to the pavement, face in her hands.
Harry frowned and jogged over to her. When he bent down he could see through her fingers that she was crying. One good thing about being friends with a girl like Sarah was that this was rarely something he had to deal with. He awkwardly put one arm around her shoulders. That was obviously the right thing to do because she rested her head against him.
After a minute she sat up and wiped her eyes with her fingers. "Ignore me, I'm just drunk."
"I can't do that." Sarah was the sort of girl one had to pay attention to.
She shook her head. "Why is it that all men leave me?"
Since she did not look at him he supposed her questions was probably rhetorical. He answered it anyway. "Not all of them." He patted her on the shoulder. "I'm not going anywhere." He smiled at her.
She offered him a small smile back and relaxed a little against him.
The ground was cold and hard though, so he stood up and offered her his hand. "Come on, I'll walk you home."
She put her hand in his and he helped her up. She gave his hand a squeeze. "Thank you, Harry," she said, and smiled at him properly this time.
It had been a strange sort of evening, he mused, as they walked back down the road. But it had turned out all right in the end.
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