Fancy a Dance Sergeant?

“I would like to borrow Sergeant Benton.”

“Borrow Benton? My Benton? What the Devil do you mean?”

Sarah Jane Smith, while secretly enjoying putting the Brigadier on the back foot, adopted a serious journalist demeanour and carried on.

“He’s very good apparently. Quite the performer. Has all the ladies clamouring for his services.”

The coughing fit resulting from the Brigadier’s tea going down the wrong way brought a brief halt to the conversation. When he had regained his normal colour, she continued.

“He doesn’t boast about it but you know Benton. “

The Brigadier thought he didn’t know that about his Sergeant and wasn’t sure he wanted to thank you very much.

“This is all very interesting Miss Smith, but what does my Sergeant’s extracurricular, err, activities have to do with me? As long as it doesn’t, ah, affect the performance of his duties or UNIT’s reputation, it’s none of my business.”

Sarah thought it was a good thing the Brigadier had finished his tea. Or he might have choked to death considering his reaction to her next statement. Or did himself a serious mischief with the saucer.

“I need a partner. Someone to enter a competition with.”

“A COMPETITION? What on Earth....”

“I did it quite a bit when I was younger but no one else I know is any good. Not even the Doctor. You think he would be, considering all that galactic Kung Fu he does, but he’s hopeless. Not that he’ll ever admit it. You should have seen the bruises I had after our only try.”

“Really Miss Smith, what are you suggesting......”

“Then someone in the mess mentioned Sergeant Benton. I’ve already asked him but he said he would need your permission so here I am.”

Sarah smiled benignly at the Brigadier. He didn’t smile back.

“Well may I?”

“May you what?”

“Borrow Sergeant Benton for a ballroom dancing competition. There’re rumours circulating about corrupt voting practices. I know that the consequences aren’t earth-shattering but it’s a nice change from being chased by dinosaurs if I’m honest. It’s a bit of a closed shop surprisingly. But Benton’s very well regarded in the community, so I thought if you can’t beat them, foxtrot with them.”

She laughed at her not very funny joke.

The Brigadier did not laugh. The Brigadier did nothing but sat there dumbstruck. And horrified. And bewildered. And embarrassed at to where his thoughts had led him. And a teensy bit jealous she had not asked him. Not that he would admit it, neither to himself and especially not to Miss Smith.

The lady in question carried on, unaware of the Brigadier’s inner turmoil.

“It would only be for a weekend and Benton has kindly said he would use up some of his leave to do it. Which is very sweet of him. So, if you could lend him to me for a few days, I would be awfully grateful.”

Unnerving images of Benton sashaying around a spot-lit ballroom flooding through his mind, the Brigadier realised Sarah had finished talking and was looking at him in a concerned manner.

“Are you all right Brigadier?”

He didn’t know if he was. Or if he ever would be. Or be able to look at Sarah in quite the same way again. Or his Sergeant for that matter. Or ask for a cup of tea without expecting Benton to bring it to him while doing the Rumba.

A knock on the door, to which he automatically responded “Come In!”, saw the aforementioned Sergeant entering the room, thankfully in uniform and not waltzing with a teapot held in his arms.

“Excuse me Sir, has Miss Smith asked you yet? I told her I’d only do it with your say so. If it’s not convenient I could ask one of my dancing mates but I’d rather be there if any funny business was to occur. Just to be on the safe side. Not that Miss Smith needs any protection mind you.”

He grinned down at Sarah, who rolled her eyes at him.

Benton stood looking hopefully at his commanding officer. Who was seeing him in a totally different light.

Honest, reliable, hardworking Benton. Solid, dependable Benton. The type of chap who would run through a brick wall for you if you pointed one out for him to have a go at. Not twirl it around while being accompanied by a dance band. Although his turn around the Maypole with that woman who said she was a white witch should have given him some clue that even Benton had hidden depths.

The Brigadier looked down and shuffled some papers which didn’t really need shuffling. Avoiding the expectant faces opposite him, he cleared his throat and responded in what he hoped was a formal but nonchalant manner.

“Well as long as it won’t interfere with UNIT business, I can’t see any harm in it. Although if we have any sort of emergency, I expect you back here ASAP, Tango or no Tango.”

“Yes Sir!”

“Oh, thank you Brigadier!”

The Brigadier, having glanced up and dismissed them with a curt nod, turned his attention to an apparently engrossing report, while the pair left, chatting about arranging some practice in the gym and sequins and other such paraphernalia that the Brigadier didn’t want to think too closely about.

As UNIT’s very own Fred and Ginger moved thankfully out of earshot, the Brigadier stopped his non-existent reading and heaved a sigh of relief.

He never wished for an alien incursion but a small harmless one might restore his equilibrium and bring some normality back to his day. Or maybe a quick saunter and some teasing of the Doctor about his failings in the dancing department would be just the ticket. And not lead to a pile of paperwork. Yes, that would do it.

The Brigadier was no mean dancer himself or so he had been told. Not that he wanted to display that to the general public mind you. Perhaps he’d ask Miss Smith at this year’s UNIT Christmas do. Nothing to do with asserting his seniority of course, nor the fact that Sarah was a very attractive girl but RHIP and all that.

So, if he had a slight spring in his step as he strolled to the Doctor’s laboratory, well it was a lovely and thankfully peaceful day outside. And if he was humming the Blue Danube, that meant nothing. It was just a good tune. Not the soundtrack to an interesting daydream.