To Fare As Human by enchantment
The night is young at the local pub, the Trout Inn, and it finds Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart and Sergeant Benton sitting at a table enjoying a well-deserved libation and once again watching in amused resignation as the Doctor is grasped by his collar and shoved through the storeroom door by the barman. "That makes it the fifth time this week doesn't it?" inquires Benton.
"Yes," states the Brigadier flatly before taking a sip of his drink. "He's going to get himself barred at this rate if we can't find something to keep him out of trouble." He releases a heavy sigh. "Whoever thought that watching over a Time Lord turned human could be so exhausting?"
"Well, that's life with the Doctor for you, Sir," notes Benton with a twinkle in his eyes, "always on the run. Besides, it's only for another month and then he can change back."
"I suppose so," admits the Brigadier as he sets down his glass. "Although, it would have been helpful to have a bit more information on how to defend him against this Family should they happen to show up, other than keeping him away from aspirin and pears!"
Benton throws back the rest of his drink to cover his laughter while a decidedly grumpy human Doctor pulls out a chair and drops down into it in a huff. "Did you see that cretin…that imbecile…that bubonic plague on humanity? How dare that blundering buffoon manhandle me like that?" He leans back in his chair and straightens his jacket. "So how many times was that this week, three or four?"
"Something like that, Doctor," Benton replies with a soft chuckle as he signals the bar for another round.
"Five times to be exact, Doctor Smith," declares the Brigadier with firm disapproval. "I do understand the need to unwind as much as anyone but please remember that you are U.N.I.T.'s Scientific Advisor and should act accordingly. Not to mention that this is my favorite pub and I happen to enjoy the privilege of being allowed to return here from time to time."
The Doctor pulls a face before nodding silently and then promptly perking up the moment the barmaid approaches their table. "Rose Tyler, what a delightful surprise! I didn't know that you were working here tonight!"
"That's because I started my shift while you were being escorted out of the storeroom by Jamie. You know, Zoe didn't much care for being left alone to tend the bar and neither did the punters if their pints of foam and sour faces are anything to go by." She flashes a teasing grin his way. "Jamie's considering telling them that the next round's on you."
"What?" He instantly jumps out of his chair, grabs the tray out of her hands and thrusts it into Benton's hands with a muttered, "Here, serve yourselves," without once taking his eyes off of Rose. "He…he…he can't do that, Rose, he simply can't tell them such a thing! I don't have any money on me right now; I can't pay for a round of drinks!"
Rose giggles a bit before relenting as his panicked expression worsens upon viewing the rather large group of extremely fit gentlemen at the bar. "I was only teasing you, Doctor. Consider it payback for everything you've put us through these past two months, especially poor Jamie."
"Poor Jamie!" utters the Doctor in a mixture of disgust and disbelief. "Is it my fault that hairy-legged Highlander doesn't know how to store anything properly or do much of anything else for that matter? You'd think that he wasn't familiar with anything from this time period from the way he comports himself! What idiot picked him up and brought him here, anyway?"
Rose tries to hide her smile as she links her arm through his and tugs him away from the others. "Come on, I'll buy you a drink," she point her finger at him warningly, "on the condition that you'll be on your best behavior!"
"I'll try," promises the Doctor fervently until he spies a few of the men at the bar giving him the evil eye. "But you have to promise me that they'll be on their best behavior as well!" He casts a wary gaze in their direction. "You know as well as I do that they have yet to forgive me for winning the last pub quiz."
"Yeah, I know," agrees Rose with a sigh while patting his arm consolingly. "Jamie and I should have known better than to let Zoe make out the questions."
As they reach the bar, the Doctor takes a seat on a stool and watches Jamie finish putting away the freshly washed glasses. Rose returns to her spot behind the bar and requests, "Jamie, can you do me a favor and pull a pint for my gentleman friend? I'm buying him a drink."
"Aye, Rose," he answers jovially before turning around. "Is it another pretty boy, then?" He spins around with a welcoming smile which immediately falls into a reconciled grimace. "Oh, guess not then. It's you, public house enemy number one."
"Always a pleasure, Jamie," replies the Doctor with heavy sarcasm. "If you'll be so kind, I'll have -"
"I know what you'll have," retorts Jamie with a trace of irritation as he fills a pint with the Doctor's favorite draft and places it in front of him. "Your usual. And since Rose is paying, again, that's also your usual."
"Now, Jamie, that's not fair," remarks Zoe as she offers the Doctor a friendly smile and a packet of crisps. "The Doctor's not always a freeloader. Remember the other week when he won a free drink from the pub quiz?" The Doctor glances nervously at the other gents at the bar while Zoe ponders bemusedly, "He was the only one to answer any of the questions correctly, funny that."
"Aye," deadpans Jamie, "absolutely hysterical." The young Scot casts a suspicious glare towards a young soldier who has been frequenting the pub a great deal lately, or at least whenever Zoe happens to be working a shift.
"Ay Up, lass," he greets Zoe as he leans far enough over the bar to eye her up and down. "I'm sure a girl as brilliant as you are most certainly can guess what I'm after."
Zoe blushes fiercely at the young man's attentions while Jamie reddens for a different reason entirely. "I know exactly what you're after, mate," growls the young man, "and you'll hit the floor long before you get it!"
Zoe's potential suitor merely laughs off Jamie's remark before sliding a piece of paper over to her along with a wink and heading back over to his mates who are waiting for him over at the dartboard. As nonchalantly as possible, Zoe starts wiping down the bar with one hand while slyly reaching for the paper with the other. Unfortunately, Jamie's reflexes are much quicker.
"Jamie McCrimmon, you give me that back right this instant!" demands Zoe as a struggle ensues for the paper. Rose and the Doctor share a knowing smile when Jamie pins down Zoe's flailing arms by throwing his arm around her and jerking her tightly to him, and her struggles instantaneously cease altogether.
"Just wait your hurry, lass, until I give it a read!" Jamie tries to ignore the warm feeling of contentment welling up in his chest that holding her close brings him in order to continue his chastisement. "Didn't anyone ever tell you not to accept anything from strangers?"
A hearty laugh a moment later relieves the tension when Jamie releases Zoe and balls up the paper and tosses it onto the bar. "Aw, it was nothing after all, just some string of numbers." He tweaks Zoe's nose and she bats him away angrily. "Planning another pub quiz, are we? Was he trying to check his answers with you?"
Curious, Rose picks up the paper and after giving it a quick once-over, she releases a laugh of her own. "I wouldn't be so quick to judge, Jamie. It seems that Zoe's been pulling more than pints this evening." She waves the paper at him. "This string of digits, it's called a phone number and he was obviously giving his to Zoe."
"Why, the nerve of that Sassenach! I'll have his guts for garters!" threatens Jamie as he starts to climb over the bar. The Doctor's hands immediately dart out to push Jamie back while the women join forces to tug him down back behind the bar in an effort to prevent an all out brawl as the soldier in question and his mates regard Jamie warily.
"Jamie, calm yourself this instant!" orders the Doctor roughly as one final shove on his shoulders lands the young man back onto his feet. "There's no possible way that you can take them all on!"
"Aye, not alone no but you could help me!" Jamie's eyes light up with the fire of a young warrior gearing up for battle as he suggests, "I know that you're old and all but useless in a fight but you must have picked up a few fighting techniques from the lads over at U.N.I.T. by now. You could be my second!"
"Second? I'm second to no one, Jamie McCrimmon, I'm the Doctor!" he pronounces so hotly that the other three can only stand there in stunned silence, each one fearing that the Doctor's been pushed too far and that the Time Lord in him will overtake the human and emerge. Thankfully, as quickly as his temper flared, it cools down again and he drops his head into his hand and muses, "Well that was unsettling, I wonder where all that bluster came from?"
The three companions all breathe a sigh of relief and the Brigadier steps up to the bar. "Is everything alright here, McCrimmon?" At Jamie's nod, the Brigadier instructs, "I'll have a scotch, Jamie, and then I'll be leaving so put it on Benton's tab."
He takes a seat alongside the Doctor and inquires, "And is everything alright with you, Doctor Smith?"
"I'm fine, Alastair, thank you for asking," emphasizing each word. "That little scene you just witnessed had nothing to do with me, I was an innocent bystander." He takes another swig of his drink and swallows harshly. "And if I hadn't made it clear enough, I do not need a babysitter!"
No, considers the Brigadier as he savors his own drink, merely a full time honor guard. He stares longingly at the calendar behind the bar, each passing day having been marked off with equal longing by Rose. He watches the three young people work the lines and assist the customers, his heart full of sympathy for them. From the brief conversations that he's been able to have with them, as all of their work schedules allow, he's gathered that they are as confounded as he is as to what this Family is that is menacing the Doctor as he was only able to give them the briefest of instructions before being forced to change himself over to human.
He frowns slightly as he sees Jamie stare wistfully at the Doctor. He knows that if the Doctor were in his right mind that he and Jamie would be out acting as a cross between father and son or best mates, and not the frustrated tolerance that the Doctor's change has brought about. Even Zoe, who has always seemed so aloof in regards to emotional displays can't help but help gaze forlornly at the man who she considered not only a peer and mentor, but a father figure as well.
And then there was Rose Tyler, hiding her pain behind every smile, laugh and twinkle in her eye that she bestowed upon the Doctor. She was perhaps the one that he had felt worst for. He hadn't known her very long but the Doctor had filled him in on her past and he knew that she saw the Doctor as a blend of friend and father, just as Jamie and Zoe did. But at least they had traveled with the Doctor for much longer and knew the routine of the unexpected and their exact place in his hearts. He worried what effect it would have on the young girl to just be discovering her place in the grand scheme of the Doctor's life only to have it be snatched away without any warning.
However, more often than not, the Brigadier worried about the effect of the Doctor being snatched away from all of them. Not purely for the sake of their own seemingly ready made family, which he determined to include himself as well as Doris and various U.N.I.T. members, or for the safety of the planet, but mostly, mostly for the three young people that he watched with saddened eyes. He had plotted and devised many maneuvers over the years in addition to imagining and preparing a multitude of possible outcomes throughout his many years as a soldier, but he found that he was absolutely bewildered at what he could or would do if the Time Lord didn't or couldn't return in his entirety to what he considered the Doctor's three young children.
To Be Continued…
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