Characters: Tenth Doctor and Original Character
Spoilers: Doctor Who up until The End of Time [stop reading now, because the the Author's Notes have spoilers too].
Summary: Three years after the events of Journey's End, the Doctor meets Sara Parker while investigating a wave of disappearances on a university campus in America. After rescuing her from the clutches of danger, the two set out for Fentiern, a three-mooned planet in serious need of help.
Authors Notes: This goes AU after Waters of Mars and sticks to canon as much as possible other than the death prophecies throughout series four, the specials, and whatever I might get wrong due to lack of familiarity with Classic Who.
Sara Parker hunched over her desk, her face twisted into its own brand of determination; she furrowed her brows and bit her lip as her pencil scratched images onto her paper. Professor Hampton had a reputation for being boring, and only three weeks into the new semester, he was certainly living up to it. Sara loved history, but this section of Early Western Civilization was killing her; so she did the only thing she could do—she doodled her way through the tedium, only stopping to jot down the few pieces of information the professor gave that would actually be useful later.
She leaned forward even more, sliding her right hand across her forehead and into her bangs, pushing her black fedora back on her head. After righting it, she slid her fingers under her glasses and pinched the bridge of her nose. Sara eyed her watch desperately. Had she only been sitting here for thirty minutes? The thought of being in this stuffy little room for another sixty made her want to throw herself out the room’s single undersized window. Instead, she set to work drawing a scene of stick-people being chased by a dinosaur.
The sound of the classroom door opening pulled her concentration from the little Army tank she was now drawing to defend the panicked stick citizens of the city. Why do people even bother coming this late? She thought with exasperation. She cast a glance over her shoulder at the newcomer, and her mood immediately softened. The man that entered the classroom was tall and handsome, dressed in a chocolate-brown pinstriped suit. She chanced another look as he passed by her to take a seat in the row to her left; he chose the seat next to the one in front of hers, and it groaned in protest as he lowered his thin frame into it. In the process, he caught his right elbow on the bar that connected the desk and chair. He gave a little hiss and vigorously rubbed his fingers over the injury. Sara grimaced in sympathy, and returned to her doodle. She tried not to think of the sensation he was likely feeling; something like electric sand flowing to his fingertips. She opened and closed her hand a couple times, and looked the man over again, this time starting at his feet; he was wearing off-white Converse. With a suit. She looked at the black high-top Converse on her own feet and couldn’t help but smile. Everyone was wearing them nowadays, but with a suit? Not so common. Her eyes trailed up his legs and tried to steal a glance at his backside, to no avail. Her eyes continued, finally making it to his neck. His skin was lightly freckled and smooth. From this angle, she could only see the curve of his cheek and one of a matched pair of sideburns that perfectly framed his face. The sides and back of his hair were neat, but the top was spiky and jutted in all directions. When he’d first entered, she’d gotten a look at his delicate, pointed nose, plump lips, and eyes set beneath eyebrows that lent themselves favorably to the intense look of concentration he’d been wearing.
Sara wanted this man to turn around—to look for the nonexistent clock, to check the doors, anything—she wanted to see his face again. She was already smitten, and felt like a hopeless fool. He had to be in his mid-thirties—making him at least ten years her senior—but she couldn’t help but imagine those lips on hers. She closed her eyes for a moment and let the thought wash over her before pushing it away. She always did have a thing for older men. Sara shifted in her seat and accidentally knocked her pen from her desk. When it hit the floor, a few disinterested glances were momentarily cast in her direction. The pen rolled across the floor and under Pinstripes’ desk. It skittered into his shoe with a dull plunk. He looked at his feet and saw it there, turning in either direction to discover where it’d come from, his brown eyes falling to Sara’s meek, embarrassed smile. “Sorry,” she whispered.
He captured the pen under his right shoe as he bent down to collect it, toeing it within reach of his outstretched left hand, and scooped it up in his long fingers. He dusted it off, switching it easily to his right hand; the bottom half of the pen was encircled loosely in his fingers as he held it between his thumb and forefinger, palm upward as he offered it to her. “Thanks,” she smiled shyly as she took the pen, deliberately allowing her fingers to brush over his as she reclaimed it.
“No problem,” he smiled lightly, speaking with an English accent. Her stomach clenched and filled with butterflies; she went back to her doodles, trying not to stare at the Englishman as he crept into her thoughts. She imagined the two of them drinking tea in some posh European bistro, him playfully teasing her for her ignorance of the many varieties of tea and their respective occasions. She forced herself to focus—rather, just not focus on him. Sara gripped her pen, and spent the remainder of the class period elaborating on her stick figure drawing.
As the class began to disburse, she stuffed her pen into the spiral wire of her notebook and then tucked it into her bag. Sara heaved the backpack over her right shoulder with some difficulty, and expertly maneuvered her left arm into the appropriate strap. She didn’t notice Professor Hampton staring at her as she left, nor did she notice the handsome Englishman following several paces behind her as she navigated the corridor and main stairwell, and exited the hall. It was then that he called out to her.
“Hey!” he called, hustling up to her.
“Hi,” she said with uncertainty.
“I’m John. John Smith.”
“Sara,” she said, offering her left hand for a shake; that wasn’t the way you were supposed to do it, but then again, you were also supposed to stop walking when you shook hands, too. John didn’t seem to mind; without missing a beat, he took her hand and gave it a single light shake.
“Nice to meet you, Sara,” he smiled, and the butterflies started beating their wings again.
“So,” he said hesitantly, “I was wondering; would you be willing to let me have a look at your notes from the last couple weeks? I enrolled on the course late, and now I’m playing catch-up.”
“Sure,” she chimed, “I was on my way to the café for lunch; if you want to come with, I can give them to you there.”
“Sounds good; I wouldn’t mind a bite myself.”
Minutes later, they were seeking a seat in the crowded campus café; her with a sandwich and tea, and him with a banana and a bottle of water. “I know the best place,” she said, motioning with her head that he should follow. “It’s never as crowded as it is down here.” She scanned the area one more time to confirm what she already knew to be true; there were no open seats here. Her hands were full, but that didn’t stop her from jutting out a pinky and knuckling the elevator’s call button. The doors immediately slid open, accompanied by an unobtrusive electronic ding, and the pair stepped through them. John was already reaching for the rows of numbered buttons. “It’s the top floor,” she said, and he jabbed the appropriate button with his index finger. To do this, he leaned across her a bit, and it was too close—not for the sake of etiquette, but for Sara’s own personal awkwardness. Her heart quickened and the rabble of butterflies in her stomach redoubled their escape efforts. She could smell him in the enclosed space; a pleasant comfortable scent she couldn’t identify, and the moment he withdrew it was gone.
The doors opened when they’d reached the tenth floor, Sara made a beeline for a table by one of the many large windows that surrounded the perimeter. She plopped her backpack on the floor just under the table and set her meal on the faux wood-grain tabletop.
“Have you been in town long?” she asked John.
“No, not long at all,” he smiled. Sara reciprocated, and then pointed out the window.
“You see that tower?” she indicated the large brick spire jutting well above the city’s other features, “It’s at the center of a working mental hospital. The city’s historical society spent a bunch of money refurbishing it a few years ago.” She pointed in another direction, “That ugly thing is our architecture-award-winning hideous hotel; fine on its own, but with our downtown? No. It just looks like The Jetsons threw up.”
He laughed. “You really do love it up here, don’t you?”
“I can see the whole city. What’s not to love?” she said, turning to take in the view again, missing the impressed look he cast in her direction. Sara jumped as if someone had poked her in the side. “Oh, the notes!” she exclaimed, going to her backpack and retrieving her notebook. She flipped to the proper place and tore out several pages, handing them over.
“Thank you,” John said, glancing at the first page before folding them in half and tucking them into his breast pocket. The two took their seats on opposite sides of the dining table.
“So do you live here now, or are you just here on exchange?” She took a bite of her sandwich and fixed her eyes on him. His eyes were a few shades lighter than his suit and they shone in the daylight.
“Yup,” he said cagily, “thought I’d come to the other side of the pond for a semester and see how America likes me.” He’d been peeling his banana as he spoke, and when he finished the sentence, he took a bite. While he was chewing, he asked, “So what do you think of Professor Hampton?”
“He’s gotta be the most boring man ever. I’m only in his section because there was no other choice; no other courses worked with my schedule.”
“Is it just me, or is he a bit weird?”
“Well, he paces like a prison guard. If I didn’t know better, I’d think he used to teach public school,” she laughed, taking another bite of her sandwich. She chewed, blinking, “Oh!” she said, opting to finish the bite before continuing, “He also drinks these really nasty-looking protein shakes.”
“Protein shakes? That’s weird?” He feigned ignorance.
“Normally, no; but the kind he drinks look like the nasty concoctions my friend and I used to make when we were kids, playing Mad Scientist or pretending we were chefs. It looks like he just dumps whatever was in the cupboard in it.” She gave a little shudder, “It’s all sludgy with black flecks.”
The Doctor had certainly chosen the right student to talk to (although as soon as he’d handed Sara her pen, he knew there was no other choice); her description matched that of the Gevloid plasma stabilization fluid, confirming his earlier suspicions. This Professor Hampton—or so he called himself—was definitely the alien he’d been searching for, and he allowed a smile to play across his face. Sara looked at her hands, then out the window. She was peculiar; brown hair, petite, and—other than the fedora perched atop her head—her appearance was non-descript. The perfect target for the alien Hampton; no wonder he’d been staring at her.
“John?” she said. He didn’t even flinch. “John?” Again, nothing. She said his name a third time, this time touching his arm lightly. She had no way of knowing that he wasn’t used to responding to the name Smith; it had been a stretch since he’d last used that alias.
“Why are you so interested in some moldy old professor?” she smiled, “He has the worst student ratings in the department.” The Doctor’s mouth turned up at one corner.
“Can you keep a secret?” His eyebrows stretched to an incredible height as he leaned over the table toward her, supporting himself on his elbows and pressing the pads of his fingers to one another briefly before letting them come to rest on the table.
“Of course,” she said, mirroring him.
“He’s an alien, and I’m going to capture him.”
She laughed; she really didn’t know how to respond to that. “Then sell him to the tabloids?”
“Of course not! Don’t be ridiculous.” He straightened his back, “I’m going to take him back to his home planet to stand trial,” his expression and tone both saying what else would I do?
Sara laughed again. Was he serious and crazy? Or just messing with her? Some people had that kind of composure when they were pulling someone’s leg. She decided she wouldn’t be had.
“Well then,” she replied seriously, “What did he do?”
“He irradiated an environmental reserve planet so he could sell chunks of it as fuel; pretty standard scheme. A half million species were wiped out.”
“Wow. I can see why you’d want to catch him then,” she smiled again, “Anything I can do to help?” She was willing to take this as far as he was.
“Actually, yes, there is,” he said, reaching into his pocket. He pulled out a business card and began to hand it to her. Before she could take it, he said, “I know you think I’m putting you on, or that I’m mad,” he looked her in the eye, “but I’m not. He’s dangerous. And he’ll be asking you to his office soon; when he does,” he warned, relinquishing the card to her, “Don’t go. Stall. Call me on this number.”
She looked at the card. It had only four lines of text. The first said, John Smith; the second, Doctor, and the last two lines were an American phone number and (what she assumed was) an English telephone number, respectively.
“You’re a doctor?” she said, surprised.
“I’m the Doctor,” he replied, “and I’d better be going.”
She was a little disappointed. “Well, I’ll see you on Thursday, then, Doctor John Smith,” she said as he rose to his feet.
“Please, just call me Doctor; the Doctor.” He smiled that beaming smile again. “Everyone does.” He tucked his hands into his pockets and turned gracefully on his foot and moved to the elevator. She looked again at his card in her hand, wrinkling her brows in thought. When she looked up again, he was gone.
Most interesting way to give a girl your phone number, she thought, grinning. She took out her cell and programmed the number into it, saving it under, “Doctor.”
Meeting the eccentric Doctor was by far the highlight of her day, the rest of which blew by uneventfully, swallowed up by daydreams and attention half-given.
It was the following Thursday, and Sara was settling into her desk in Professor Hampton’s classroom. She was disappointed when she didn’t see John—the Doctor—in class. She held out hope that he’d show up late again, and was surprisingly deflated when he didn’t. Near the end of the class period, Professor Hampton was giving instructions for the essay he had just assigned. “…and I need to see,” he looked at his class roster, “…Miss Sara Parker in my office after class.” He looked at her over his bifocals; she nodded in acknowledgement and then looked down at her notebook to hide the wide-eyed look that had appeared on her face. “When he asks you to his office, don’t go,” she heard John’s voice in her head, “Call me on this number,” his face had been serious and intense. She suddenly felt foolish for letting herself be put on in such a way.
Class was dismissed, and Sara hustled out the door. She thought quickly of what to do, then slipped into the women’s room and took her cell phone from her pocket. She chose ‘Doctor’ from her contacts list, and thumbed the SEND button. It rang several times as she rehearsed what she’d say. The voicemail kicked on and the automated default message concluded with a beep.
“Hello, Joh—Doctor,” she said, trying to sound nonchalant, “I just wanted to let you know that I’m supposed to be stopping by Hampton’s office shortly, then I’m going to the café to go over my notes from today’s lecture. If you’re on campus, you should stop by.” She cringed to herself, “This is Sara, by the way.” She hung up, cursing herself. Could she just once leave a decent message? At least she’d managed to walk the line between dismissive and taken in. She made her way slowly to the professor’s office. She was nervous, both for the normal reasons—Was she failing? Did he think she had cheated on the last test?—and the abnormal—“...he’s dangerous.”—the words echoed in her head. She took a seat in the hall outside Hampton’s office, looking at her fingers, fiddling with her phone (hoping for a response from the handsome Englishman who called himself the Doctor), then glanced down the hall. She saw Professor Hampton shuffling awkwardly down the hall, halfway along the corridor. Something about his awkward gait and sweaty brow made her uneasy; her heart started pounding. As he closed the distance between them, he spoke.
“Miss Parker, I’m sorry to have kept you waiting, please do come in; have a seat.” As she looked up at him, a shape in the distance caught her attention. She saw a familiar man at the end of the corridor; the Doctor. His face was still but his eyes carried a sense of urgency. She rose to her feet and took a seat in the professor’s office, sitting her backpack on the chair next to the one she was now lowering herself into. Her phone buzzed in her pocket, so she retrieved it. He’s going to make a move. Don’t panic; I’m just outside. She stuffed it back into her pocket quickly as the professor looked on impatiently. “I’m concerned,” Hampton said, “that you aren’t applying yourself. Your marks on the first exam could’ve been much better.”
“Of course.” Sara was taken aback.
“How do you plan to address this?”
“Take better notes?” she offered weakly. He was going through an awful lot to make her feel bad about an 86%.
“That won’t do,” he said ominously. “You don’t seem to be using your brain at all,” he grinned. Suddenly, pain shot through her whole body. It was like when her foot would fall asleep; all pins and needles. It was horrendous, and she meant to gasp, but discovered she couldn’t move. “I think it would be better to put your brain to other uses,” he said, rising to his feet. Hampton held a small device in one hand that resembled a fountain pen. In the other, he held what looked like an empty IV pouch with a large metallic hose coming out of it.
Sara was terrified. Oh my god, he really is an alien! Tears started streaming down her cheeks. She could feel a lump of terror growing in her throat, perhaps the only thing that kept her pounding heart from surging its way up and out. “Oh, there’s no need for tears,” he grinned. “This will be over soon,” he raised the metallic tube, and a hollow blade sprung out, “I just jam this into the base of your skull, drain out all the healthy goodness, and then use this,” he indicated the fountain pen device, “to incinerate your corpse.” She wanted so badly to move, to kick, to scream, but the tingling waves held her in place. Hampton crept up on her, and came to stand beside her, just in front of the door. He brushed her hair out of the way and tipped her head forward slightly, exposing the back of her neck. It was then that she heard a small hum coming from the hall, just outside. She heard the door’s lock turn over, allowing the door the freedom to swing open on its hinges.
The Doctor stood there, holding a strange device of his own. Hampton had been knocked backward by the swinging door, and cursing, landed in a heap on the other side of the tiny office. The Doctor quickly waved his device over Sara, then stooped to inspect the underside of the chair. Hampton was struggling clumsily to his feet. The Doctor seemed to point the device at something she couldn’t see, and after several seconds, she felt the tingling dissipate and her ability to move was restored. As soon as the Doctor saw this, he grabbed her hand and pulled her up. In a swift motion he stepped forward, guiding her behind him and out of the room as he stepped forward to keep himself between her and Hampton, who was now on his feet again. “Gevloid Delta Six Two, you have violated Article Thirty-Seven of the Shadow Proclamation and I am taking you into custody.”
Hampton laughed, and spoke in a language Sara couldn’t understand. The Doctor seemed to have no trouble, and continued, “Oh, don’t give me that line, Delta Six Two,” he spat. “Even if you were innocent of the charges, I’ve just caught you using illegal off-world technology against this human,” he indicated her with a tip of his head, “And seeing as seven students have already gone missing this month, I venture a guess that she isn’t the first.”
Hampton’s whole body began to shudder. His features began to melt and split; he was preparing to attack, and wouldn’t be encumbered by his disguise. The Doctor backed out of the room, knocking into Sara and nearly sending them both tumbling to the floor as he dug into his pocket. He pulled out a baseball and hurled it into the office before slamming the door shut. She heard the ball thud into the metal of Hampton’s desk. After several seconds, she heard a strange sound, followed by the groans of the Gevloid Hampton, and then another sound. Then silence.
“What did you do?” she asked. Her eyes were wide; he really hadn’t been joking. There was an alien in there—a real alien. And it had tried to eat her brain. A chill swept over her; she was stunned. She plopped down in the chair behind her. Lucky it was there, or she would have ended up on the floor.
“I captured him,” he beamed, opening the door.
“Wait!” Sara meant to call out, but before she could warn him off she could see around him and into the room; it was empty. He stooped to look beneath the desk, and when he’d pinpointed the location of the baseball and bent further to retrieve it, Sara admired his backside; it was definitely worth admiration. She bit her lip and looked away in time to avoid being caught. Almost killed by an alien, and I’m checking out his ass, she admonished herself, holding back a smile.
“Here we are, then.” he grinned, getting to his feet. He held it up triumphantly for her to see.
“A baseball? You captured him with a baseball?”
“Well, it’s not really a baseball, it only looks like one,” he smiled and tossed it to her. “Durable and perfectly safe,” he said as she caught it and turned it over in her hand. “It’s a prison.” She ran her thumb over the red stitching, squeezing the ball and feeling the leather against her palm. She held it up to her nose and sniffed.
“Doesn’t smell quite right,” she said.
“Aren’t we a critic?” he said, mildly offended, and gestured for it back.
“Sorry. So did you shrink him or something?”
“No, didn’t have to resort to that; the prison is plenty big—no use for miniaturization technology.”
“So you throw it like a grenade, and it opens up and grabs the bad guy—alien,” she corrected herself, “like a bear trap?”
The Doctor beamed. “Oh yes; the target and all alien technology as well.” That was when Sara noticed that there was now only one chair in the office.
“That’s so cool!” She grinned, “So do you work for the British government or something?”
“Or something,” he said coyly. He straightened his tie and brushed off his blazer.
“Free agent then,” she smiled.
“You are an inquisitive one, aren’t you? And clever, too.” All she could do was shrug. She could feel herself blushing a bit. She never knew how to respond to compliments. The Doctor could see that Sara was giddy with adrenaline, and he was perfectly content to have a chat.
“Come along,” he said, turning away and starting down the hall. Sara quick-stepped to keep up, but then cursed and darted back into the office before emerging a second time, once again burdened by the weight of her backpack. She hurried to rejoin the Doctor.
“Sorry about that, but I couldn’t leave this behind,” she said, nodding over her shoulder. He gave her a little nod and they walked in silence out of the building. Once out in the fresh air, Sara took a deep breath. “Thank you,” she said, touching his forearm.
“Warning me. For not letting him suck out my brain.”
“If I’d been on time, he wouldn’t have had the chance to try.”
“Well, we can’t all be perfect, can we?” she joked. It seemed to her that he wasn’t very good at accepting compliments, either. “Besides, what’s a little pants-shitting terror between friends?” She cast a wide grin in his direction.
“Friends?” he asked, smiling.
“Friends,” she said again.
“Friends,” he said, confirming the word, trying on the idea like a new pinstriped suit. He must have liked the way it fit, because the next thing he said was, “Would you like to come with me? Take a little trip?”
She laughed again. Her overexcitement was lowering her inhibitions. “Wait until my mom hears that one!” She held her hand up to her ear and spoke into her thumb, “Hey mom, I’m gonna be a little late for dinner; James Bond just offered to take me on a trip,” she laughed, “so I’m off to England for some tea; don’t wait up!” She dropped her hand to her side.
“James Bond? You think?” he pulled at his tie and flashed a charming smile, which he then replaced with feigned offense, “Oi, I’m not a spy.”
“That’s exactly what a spy would say,” she teased.
“Really though, I’m not,” he smiled. “I can show you,” his smile turned into that of a mischievous schoolboy.
“Okay then,” she challenged, “Prove it.”
“Follow me,” he said. She tried to ignore her mother’s voice in the back of her head telling her how unwise it was to go off with a stranger like this.
He led the way to the university parking garage which stood on the west-central end of campus. They took the elevator to the top floor, and as they stepped out, he said, “I’m really more of a consultant.” They walked across the asphalt, and that’s when Sara saw it; above the double doors, hung a sign that read POLICE PUBLIC CALL BOX; its aged wood was painted blue. Sara smiled at it; she knew it was more than what it appeared to be, but her thoughts weren’t really connecting what it could be. In fact, she had to resist the very strong urge to ignore it altogether.
“Hmph,” Sara made an unintelligible sound, and wrinkled her eyebrows.
“Perception filter,” he smiled. They were closing in on it quickly. “Keeps the riffraff away.” The Doctor stuck his hand in his pocket and pulled out a small silver key.
“From a police call box.”
“Yep,” he slid the key into the lock. “It’s called a TARDIS,” he turned the key, and opened the door just enough to step inside.
“Tardis?” She followed, and the moment her eyes fell upon the inside, she gasped.
“Yes. T-A-R-D-I-S. Time And Relative Dimension In Space.”
Sara’s eyes were wide. The room in which she now stood had to be at least thirty feet across, with high ceilings, lots of lights, and in the center of it all there stood a huge column of clear tubing surrounded by buttons, knobs and levers. “It’s like the baseball-prison,” she said, stunned. “It’s—it’s…”
The Doctor braced himself. Say it, he thought; he so enjoyed when a guest said those words. He watched Sara gape at the TARDIS’ control room in awe, gleeful at the sight of the way all this new, all of this different made her eyes shine. She followed him up the catwalk and started walking slowly around the room, “…it’s—oh wow!—How do you expand the space in here? This is incredible! It’s,” she turned to face him, a broad grin across her face, “It’s bigger on the inside!” Now The Doctor was wearing a grin of his own. “You are definitely not a spy,” she said in a level voice. “Which means you’re…” she made an upward corkscrew gesture with her index finger.
“…an alien,” he finished for her, “and this is my ship,” he spread his arms wide, indicating the whole room, “Isn’t she great? I really can fly her anywhere; you can come along—if you’d like.” He started speaking more and more quickly. “You know; sort of an apology for the whole ‘Gevloid-almost-extracting-and-devo
Sara was dumbfounded. “Anywhere. Everywhere,” she repeated his earlier words, awestruck as she allowed their definitions to expand in her mind. The Doctor studied her expression as the thoughts raced behind her eyes. Suddenly, she snapped her gaze to his, “I know,” she said, “Is there somewhere with a purple sky? Or lots of moons?” She looked at him like he might hand her a Christmas present—and boy, was he, “I know a planet with both,” he grinned, masking a knowing look.
“Then let’s go!” She bounced up and down on her feet a little.
Sara was smiling from ear to ear, watching as he set to work manning the controls. He dashed around the circular console frantically, and the whole ship—TARDIS—shuddered side to side like a wave-rocked boat. “So how wrong are they? Us. Humans, I mean?” She spoke over the din of the instruments.
“Who? About what?”
“Time and space. Einstein? Hawking?”
“You’re right where you should be,” he said coyly, turning back to the console. She should have expected as much. The Doctor flipped a lever and the rocking stopped. “We’re on course,” he said. “Sara,” he began, “you sure are taking all of this in stride.”
“Knowing I was right all along is kinda cushioning the blow,” she said, plopping down on the jump seat, doing her best to project a cool-as-a-cucumber attitude. On the inside she was reeling, and tried to hold herself steady by crossing her arms and legs. She gripped her ribs.
“I always knew there were aliens. The universe is too big for there not to be.”
“You’ve seen it with your own eyes now. And it doesn’t scare you?”
“It does, but…” she trailed off, “it does a lot,” she admitted, “but it makes me happy.”
“The knowledge, or the fear?”
“The possibilities,” she smiled, uncrossing her limbs. The Doctor gave a small smile as the ship made a deep thrumming sound.
“Here we are,” he announced, “a lovely afternoon on Fentiern, the planet whose nights are its days and its days are its nights!” He dashed down a corridor, and she heard him rustling around. She heard something fall, then a door closing. He bolted out, “Ah-ha! I’ve found them,” he said, returning with two small devices. “These aren’t comfortable to activate,” he told her putting one in her hand, “but it sure beats wearing a seven-stone bodysuit.” He held it up for her to see, “It works like a re-breather, like the deep-sea divers use on Earth, only it’s much more advanced; once these are activated, they will last for fourteen days.” The device was shaped like a figure-eight. He showed her the back of the device; there was a single hole in the center of each bulbous end. “The microtubules convert the ambient atmosphere into air breathable by the wearer of the unit.” He pressed his device to his throat, and winced. “Only bad thing is that the tubules have to create an artificial airway from the trachea to the receiver.”
“A tracheotomy.” Sara hated needles, but this was no time to be picky. More importantly, she wanted to impress him. She eyed the Doctor’s device, and positioned hers similarly against her own throat. She took a deep breath, and gave it a push. She winced and her eyes welled up, but in an instant the pain was gone.
“Each unit has a built in chemical array for eliminating pain and minimizing the risk of infection.”
“Neat,” she said, clearing her throat.
“Oh, you should see the manual; it has a comprehensive list of compatible species and corresponding unit life. Thousands of species for this model alone! And I didn’t even buy any of the after-market add-ons.” She smirked as he bobbed his head, clearly proud of his fancy, space-aged toy. Sara grinned. Some things really are universal, she thought.
Sara took another deep breath, this time feeling quite natural. She redirected her mirthful look at the Doctor, and he smiled back at her. “Allons-y!” he cried, flinging open the doors.