Captain Jack Harkness -- hero, time traveler and immortal extraordinaire -- sped through the streets of Aberdeen looking for his quarry. Swerving around yet another corner, he ignored the angry gesture a pedestrian gave him, then suddenly brought his black van to a screeching halt. There she was at last, standing on the pavement and peering into the window of a bakery.
Poor girl. Alone, abandoned, dressed in an Andy Pandy outfit and carrying a stuffed owl. She was, if not exactly a pitiful sight, a sight that was hard to miss, even though he'd never met her before.
It was time to rescue her.
"Sarah Jane Smith!" he called, jumping out of the van and running to her side. She turned and stared at him in astonishment. He grinned, shifting his balance so that his greatcoat swished around him. "I'm here," he announced with confident authority. "You'll be all right, now. I'm here."
"I've noticed that," she said, looking him up and down, her astonishment, if anything, growing. "And who exactly are you, might I ask?"
He broadened his trademark grin. "Captain Jack Harkness," he said. Then he reached out an arm and put it around her shoulders. "There, there," he murmured in a soothing tone. "There, there."
She looked at the arm in confusion. "What are you doing, Captain?"
"I'm consoling you," he replied.
"It's all right," said Jack. "I know all about how the Doctor's just dumped you. A later incarnation of him is going to meet up with an older version of me, find out that I'm on Earth in this time period, then leave a message asking me to come and pick you up. I drove all the way from Cardiff to find you and take you home, because obviously a girl as emotionally wrecked as you are right now shouldn't be on her own."
"Excuse me?" said Sarah. "Emotionally wrecked?" She took a step back, out of range of the arm that was still trying to pat her consolingly.
"Well, because of being dumped, of course. It's okay to cry." He paused. "And if you want to shag like bunnies later to get over it, that's okay, too." Then he winked.
"I see," said Sarah. "Thank you, I suppose."
"You'll let me know?" asked Jack.
"I will," said Sarah. "At the first opportunity."
"Take your time," said Jack. "It's a long drive to Croydon, after all." He indicated the van with a nod of his head.
"Actually," said Sarah, "I was planning on another mode of transport. After I've finished taking in the sights of Aberdeen, that is. But it was very kind of you to come. Tell you what, can I buy you a scone to see you off?"
"Buy me a scone?" said Jack. "You do have a sense of humor, don't you?"
"You don't want a scone?" asked Sarah. "I was just considering getting one for myself."
"Don't be silly," said Jack. "You know you don't have any money. You're alone and adrift, penniless, distraught, and in the middle of nowhere."
She raised her eyebrows. "Aberdeen's the middle of nowhere?"
"Well, figuratively speaking."
"Says the person who's living in Cardiff?"
"Um . . . yes."
"And who said I was distraught?"
"Of course you're distraught. You've just been dumped, after all."
"Left off, yes. Disappointed, yes. A little sad to see the Doctor go, of course. Planning to make him feel guilty about it the next time I see him, definitely. But distraught? I don't think so, Captain."
"Well . . . "
"And another thing. Who told you I was penniless?"
"Of course you're penniless. Why would you have money on you?"
"Why wouldn't I? It's not as if I haven't been to Earth plenty of times with the Doctor. We were just on Earth today, in fact, right before the trip to Kastria. Of course I have money on me. And besides, even if I'd run out of cash, that wouldn't mean I was destitute. Ever heard of a credit card?"
". . . credit card?"
"Ever heard of a bank? You know, those places where people keep money so they can get at it?"
"Um . . . "
"As for being 'alone and adrift,' as you put it, ever stop to consider that as a journalist, I might have contacts all over Britain?"
"And finally, Captain Jack Harkness, did it ever occur to you that anyone who's traveled with the Doctor, who's faced down Sontarans, Cybermen and Daleks, is hardly likely to be fazed by -- Aberdeen?"
"Right," said Jack. She was looking rather angry, and he slowly backed away. "Well, then," he said. "See you around sometime?"
"The next time I see you," she said dangerously, "it had better be because the Daleks are invading."
Jack nodded, then ran for the van.
* * *
"Honestly!" said Jo, laughing over her scone. "Apparently he realized he'd left you in the wrong place, phoned the Brigadier, the Brigadier phoned me, then next thing I know, I'm being bundled into a UNIT helicopter to come and rescue you."
Sarah laughed too as she reached for the marmalade. "Why you?" she asked. "After all, this is the first time we've met."
"The Brig said he thought you'd prefer some "female company," as he put it. I think he expects you're pining over your unrequited love for the Doctor."
She tilted her head and put a melodramatic palm to her forehead. Sarah laughed so hard, half her tea spilled out her cup. Jo joined her in the mopping up, giggling the whole time.
"So why did you come?" asked Sarah when she could finally speak again.
Jo shrugged. "Free trip to Aberdeen." She smiled, and caught Sarah's eye. "Want to use the helicopter to go sight-seeing?"
* * *
Sarah wandered the streets of Aberdeen at random, enjoying the shops she came across. Then she rounded a corner and found her way blocked by a robot dog.
"Mistress," it said. "Mission to locate you has been accomplished. I have been sent by the Doctor-Master to bring you back to Croydon."
Sarah stared at the small robot. Not only was it obviously incapable of giving her a ride, it was also looking a little the worse for wear. "I don't understand. How can you bring me back to Croydon?"
"This unit is capable of locomotion. I have traveled to this location from Croydon, and can return using the same method." It gave a little whir and moved forward two feet, then back again, as if in demonstration.
"You expect me to walk with you all the way back to Croydon?" asked Sarah, incredulous.
"Affirmative, Mistress." It gave another whir, but this time nothing happened. The lights in its eyes began to dim. "Difficulty, Mistress. This unit's batteries are low. Power . . . fading . . ." The lights went out.
"Oh, for pity's sake," said Sarah.
* * *
"Ready to go?" asked Romana, bundling the defunct K-9 into her TARDIS.
"More than." Sarah looked around the console room. It was softly golden in color, with a glowing, welcoming warmth, and Sarah decided she rather liked it. "Thank you for the offer to travel with you after I'd finished traveling with the Doctor."
"Thank you for agreeing to come," said Romana back. She looked up from the controls and smiled. "There's still a lot of universe left to see, after all."
"There is," agreed Sarah happily. Then a thought occurred to her, and she frowned slightly.
"What's wrong?" asked Romana.
"Well, it's just that the Doctor sent all sorts of people after me today, yet the one person I thought he'd be most likely to send didn't come," said Sarah.
"Do you want to wait, just in case they show up?" asked Romana.
"No," said Sarah. "Let's go see more of that universe."
Romana grinned, then pressed the controls for dematerialization.
* * *
Harry looked at the note again in confusion. It was in the Doctor's handwriting, which had always been difficult to read, but from what he had been able to make out, he had thought he was being asked to come pick Sarah up. But he'd been driving around Croydon for hours now, and there was no sign of her.
So Harry gave up and went home.