Regimental Sergeant Major John Benton, formerly of UNIT, looked at the array of birthday cards on the table and sighed. It wasn't that he minded having birthdays, he loved having the opportunity to celebrate with his family and friends, but eighty years did seem rather a lot. Not that he felt anywhere near that age, unless he stood up too quickly, or forgot that he wasn't supposed to kneel down when he was weeding the garden. The doorbell interrupted his reverie. When he opened the door, Benton was surprised and pleased to see Kate Stewart waiting on the doorstep. There was another woman with her who the former RSM didn't recognise; fair haired and wearing a long, grey coat over trousers and a striped jumper.

Kate kissed her friend and handed him an envelope.

"Happy birthday, John" she said with a smile, "how are you?"

"Fine, I'm fine," replied Benton. "Won't you come in, you and..." He paused and looked at Kate’s companion. Suddenly, memory sparked. Something about the way she turned her head, or the expression in her eyes...


The Doctor smiled, and held out her hand, saying, "I knew it! Kate said you wouldn't recognise me, but I knew you would. It's good to see you Sergeant, or, no, it was Sergeant Major, wasn't it?"

"Yes, it was!" replied Benton, shaking hands warmly. "My word, Doctor, you took me by surprise there!"

The Doctor grinned. "Well, you can't exactly say you've stayed the same either."

"No, well, on the inside at least."

"And that's what counts," said the Doctor.

Benton stood back and gestured to his visitors to come in, but Kate shook her head.

"I'm sorry, John, we've got to get back to HQ. It's not an emergency, but there's something we need to keep an eye on."

"But I couldn't miss seeing you on your eightieth birthday," said the Doctor.

John Benton nodded understandingly and waved to his visitors as they went to Kate's car. When they had driven sway, he closed the front door and went back to the lounge, smiling and shaking his head. Once he was settled in his favourite armchair, he opened the envelope Kate had given him. As he had expected, it was a birthday card. It had a picture of a steam train on the front. When he opened the card to read the greeting, a photograph fell out. John leaned down carefully and picked it up. It was an old photo, in colour, but slightly faded, showing a group of four people; a white-haired man, two soldiers and a little girl. On the back, Kate had written 'Old friends.' John Benton smiled again and propped the photograph up next to his cards. Old friends indeed.