The Doctor's landings weren't the smoothest sometimes but this one outdid them all with a shuddering slide that left Jamie clutching at the edge of the console even after it felt as if the ship had finally come entirely to rest. "Have we crashed?" Zoe asked, sounding as if she weren't quite sure how one would really be able to tell.
"Aye, felt as if we'd hit something!"
"We can't have 'hit something', Jamie, that simply isn't how it works," the Doctor said, consulting dials with the strangest frown upon his face. "Although it did almost seem as if something were dragging the TARDIS towards... Well, let's see where we've come out, shall we?"
In the bowels of Hell, was Jamie's first thought as a solid wall of sound rolled in through the opening doors. He clapped his hands over his ears with a cry of pain. "That's the Devil's ruddy pipes, that is!"
Zoe was laughing for the look on his face. "Jamie, I think it's meant to be music."
"Aye, it may be, but it's so loud." And beyond the doors a sea of -- well, Jamie supposed he ought to be polite and say people, his travels with the Doctor had been teaching him about giving it the benefit of the doubt, and these did look enough like men and women however they might be dressed. Or... not. "Does look a bit like a ceilidh, though," he hazarded, noticing how some of the people appeared to be moving in time with the infernal racket.
"Yes, Jamie, we must have arrived in the middle of some sort of tribal celebration," the Doctor said, chivvying them out of the TARDIS to survey the mud-covered throng. "I'll, ah, I'll just go see if I can't find the source of these readings, shall I? And why don't you and Zoe have a bit of a look round, after all, if these people are having a party it must be safe enough here."
Jamie wasn't so sure about that. The pall of smoke in the air had already begun to make his eyes water, and the screeching excuse for music was making him wonder if this was what it had been like for the Redcoats to charge his regiment in the face of a full-throated wailing of the pipes. But the Doctor had already made his way out into the crowd, reduced surprisingly quickly into just another dot jigging to the tooth-rattling beat. "He has the strangest idea of a holiday," Jamie said crossly at a relative lull in the din.
"The Doctor didn't seem worried, Jamie. Or... not for us." Zoe sneezed. "Why are they -- Oh, this must be what incense smells like? Funny sort of practice, to burn things like this. But I suppose if you're not metering your air..."
"Don't know that it's proper incense, Zoe," Jamie said, sniffing cautiously. "Although it's not gunpowder, either -- And what may I ask are you looking at?"
Somewhere inside a ball of mud-crusted hair was the glint of a hazy grin. "Just digging the threads, man. Not every cat'd have the legs for that skirt."
"It's not a skirt! And I'm not a cat!"
"It's a compliment, Jamie." He wasn't sure he liked the way that Zoe was grinning at him of a sudden. "He thinks you're... pretty?" She sneezed again, and the smile grew dreamier. "Well, you are, I suppose, you do have nice legs. Very nice legs..."
"Zoe? Are you all right?"
She put a hand to her forehead. "I do feel rather odd..."
Jamie caught her as she started to swoon. "Your old lady's baked, man," someone remarked with a sort of detached concern. "Maybe she needs a doctor."
"Aye, I could do with one myself, but where's he gone?"
Half a dozen hands pointed in nearly as many directions. Jamie caught mumbles about a pink tent somewhere past the line of trees. He hefted Zoe's wee staggering frame up into his arms and set off in search of aid.
The encampment stretched out well past the bowl of muddy revellers, more outlandish natives roaming amongst the tents and vehicles scattered in the relative quiet beyond the small copse. One of the larger structures was indeed striped with pink, and Jamie made for this, encouraged by the appearance that he wasn't the only one assisting a casualty in that direction. "We need some help, aye?"
A serious-faced young man who looked as ill-at-ease to be here as Jamie felt broke away from a conversation with some chaps who looked to be soldiers of some fashion and helped him to settle Zoe onto a camp-bed. "What seems to be the trouble, miss?"
Zoe gave the medic a sleepy grin. "I seem to have fallen down."
Right, if she'd taken leave of her great mind Jamie supposed it was to him to make sense of this for her; "It's all this funny smoke about, she's had a turn from breathing it."
This seemed to amuse the medic. "Suppose I'd stopped noticing it. It's harmless enough, I'd say you're having a stronger reaction because you're so petite." Odd lilt to his words but not yet a Sassenach one either, and just as out of place amongst this drawling crowd as Jamie's burr. He turned to speak with another attendant; Jamie caught a few words, problematic reaction and observation -- "Have a bit of a lie-down here out of the sun, miss," the medic said, concealing something small and chirping into his trouser-pocket as he looked back to them. "Should put you right again shortly."
Jamie saw an empty crate nearby and pulled it up to the head of the camp-bed to sit on. "Aye, well, thank you for your time, doctor --"
The medic shook his head. "I'm only a spare set of hands here, I'm afraid, I'm a... historian, by training."
"An historian with such big hands," Zoe said with a giggle, making a broad attempt to catch one of them up in hers that missed by a furlong. "And mine are so very small."
Jamie regarded her askance. "What're you on about, Zoe?"
The historian shook his head. "This is typical, nothing to worry about --"
Zoe brought one of her hands up to her face, wiggling her fingers in rapt fascination. "But now my hands are bigger than your hands, look at that." Her eyes went wide and bright. "Of course, Jamie, don't you see? The dimensions are relative."
"I could fit your hand inside my hand if your hand was here at the same time it was there, couldn't I? But if my hand and your hand were in the same place together -- they'd get stuck." She laced her fingers together, trying to pull them apart. "You see?"
"Are you saying that the TARDIS got... stuck?" Zoe nodded emphatically, nearly sending herself off the edge of the camp-bed. "But what in?"
The historian had been following this discussion with far more understanding than Jamie, it seemed; "We can leave," he said miserably.
"We'll take our ship away from here, if it's causing yours trouble. Well, I say 'our', but I only hitched a lift, really --"
"You mean you made the TARDIS crash?"
The young man shrugged evasively. "I suppose I wanted to... be more of a witness to history, when the chance presented itself." He gestured round at the tent and all the colourful people within and beyond. "There's reading about things like this, and then, well." And he gave Zoe a strange little smile: "I believe you would know that feeling yourself, Miss Heriot?"
And before Jamie had quite worked out whether he or Zoe had mentioned either of their surnames, a disturbance outside the tent heralded the appearance of the Doctor, recorder in hand as if he'd been interrupted in playing along to the distant music. "I assure you, dear boy, I am most certainly not a 'narc', whatever that is. -- Ah, Jamie, Zoe, and how have you been getting on?"
"We've found out what's wrong with the TARDIS, but Zoe's been poisoned by this smoke!"
"It's a mildly psychoactive substance," the historian contradicted. "The effects are meant to be recreational, she should be all right in a bit. She might be hungry after, I'm afraid we haven't much here to give her."
"Yes, well, we really should be going, I'm sure we'll make something do. Thank you for looking after her, Mister...?"
The historian shook his head, a look of sombre warning in his eyes. "It's an honour, sir."
This caught Jamie's attention even as Zoe was trying to interpret his hand up from the camp-bed as an invitation to climb onto his back. "You know each other?"
"Not just yet, Jamie, not just yet. But I suppose you could say that in seeking, one sometimes finds oneself, as it were."
"Now you're beginning to sound like Zoe," Jamie protested in bewilderment.
"It's perfectly simple," Zoe began, and then dissolved into a fit of giggling. "Well, I suppose it isn't, really."
One of the soldiers was pointing towards them now with a scowl. The Doctor leant closer to murmur in his ear: "Now, Jamie, when I say, 'run'..."