15 April 2007

Oxford Ostinato - Chapter 2 Part 2

Saskia looked out into the corridor after him and nodded to Mr Rogers, who was waiting in the corridor again. He went away to fetch the clarinettist, and Saskia leant against the wall, her eyes closed in exhaustion.
The Doctor put his hand on her shoulder. "OK?" he asked softly.
She opened her eyes and looked up at his concerned face. "Tired. More than tired, actually," she answered.
"We'll head for the TARDIS as soon as we've spoken to Steve," the Doctor promised her.
She nodded, then pulled herself away from the wall as the door opened and a young man entered the room. He was a few inches taller than Martin, and looked several years older, although that may have been the effect of his beard. He looked more relaxed than Martin.
The Doctor introduced himself and Saskia, then explained what they wanted to know. "We understand from Martin that you and he went for a drink on Monday evening?" the Doctor said, carefully not mentioning the fact that Martin hadn't actually told them this.
"Yeah we did, but there's nothing unusual in that. It's not as if we had a concert until Wednesday."
Saskia noticed that Steve suddenly seemed more wary, almost defensive, now and wondered why. She glanced at the Doctor and saw from the expression in his eyes that he had also noticed Steve's wariness.
"That's OK. We just wondered what you could tell us about your missing 24 hours," the Doctor said.
Steve shrugged. "Nothing. I remember leaving the pub with Martin and the chap that we'd been talking to in there, then nothing until the next evening."
"Are you prone to losing 24 hours of your life?" Saskia asked curiously.
"No. The only other time it's happened was when I was in my teens and I had the flu. I slept for 24 hours straight."
"But you weren't ill this time?" Saskia asked.
Steve shook his head. "No. I felt a bit odd on Tuesday evening, sort of dizzy and disoriented, but I put that down to the fact I hadn't eaten for 24 hours, once I knew that's how much time had passed."
"And did you tell anyone what had happened?" the Doctor asked.
"Only Julie, Marie and Martin. We'd arranged to go the cinema together on Tuesday evening and the two girls were trying to get hold of us when we didn't show up as arranged."
"This chap you met in the pub, was he a local do you think?" asked the Doctor.
Steve shrugged. "I guess. He didn't have a particularly noticeable accent, not that he said a lot."
"What did he look like?" asked Saskia.
"About 35, 40. Five foot nine, I guess. Very short black hair. And wearing dark clothes that were neat, but worn, like he'd had them a few years."
"Fat, thin, in the middle?" Saskia asked.
"Bulky, but it was muscle, not fat, like he worked out regularly," Steve said.
"OK, thanks. Where can we contact you, if we need to?" asked the Doctor.
"I'll give you my mobile number," Steve said.
The Doctor nodded and pulled a slim silver object from his jacket pocket. As he flipped it open Saskia realised it was a mobile phone, something she'd never seen before. Steve recited his number and the Doctor tapped it into the phone.
"What about Martin's and Julie's numbers?" the Doctor asked. "I forgot to ask them."
Steve recited two more numbers. "Is that it?" he asked. "Can I go now?"
"Yes thanks," answered the Doctor.

Saskia opened the door and watched him go down the corridor before crossing over to the sofa and slumping down onto it. The Doctor perched on its arm, next to her.
"What I can't understand is how calm they are about losing 24 hours of their life. If that happened to you and no one could tell you why, wouldn't you be at least a little concerned?" he asked.
"I'd be very worried," Saskia said. "Possibly even panicking."
"Exactly." He rubbed the back of his head absent-mindedly.
"Perhaps they were drugged and the drugs were tranquillisers?" Saskia suggested, eyes closed and head leaning back against the sofa. The Doctor looked down at her pale face and the dark shadows under her eyes.
"Come on," he said, standing up briskly. "Time my lady was in her bed before she turns into a pumpkin."
Saskia opened one eye and squinted up at him. "Servant girl, surely?" she asked with a tired smile.
"Depends which version of the fairy tale you know," the Doctor answered with a grin. He held out both his hands and when Saskia grasped them, pulled her to her feet.
"Where did you leave your carriage?" she asked, stifling a yawn as they walked out into the corridor.
"Near a riverbank," the Doctor answered.
Saskia stopped dead in her tracks. "I'm sorry, Doctor, but I simply cannot walk back there tonight. I'll be asleep on my feet before much longer."
"No need," the Doctor answered, slipping her arm through his own. "I shall summon my carriage." He patted his breast pocket where Saskia knew he usually kept his Sonic Screwdriver.
"Oh good," she murmured, allowing him to lead her out of the building. She blinked in surprise when the cold night air hit her face.
"Come on," the Doctor said. "We'll just go around the corner and find a quiet spot for the TARDIS to materialise in."
Saskia went where she was led, stumbling slightly in her weariness. They stopped by a sign that indicated they were in Brasenose Lane. The Doctor pulled out his Sonic Screwdriver and activated the remote control program. Moments later the TARDIS dematerialised with its familiar wheeze, and the Doctor guided Saskia inside.
"Go on," he said, patting her on the shoulder. "Bed."
She took a step away from him, then stopped and turned back to him again. "Thank you," she said. "I enjoyed the first part of the evening."
"Good." The Doctor smiled at her, brown eyes alight with pleasure. Saskia took another step towards him, then reached out and hugged him. She was relieved when he wrapped his arms around her in return. She looked up at his face, then stood on tiptoes to kiss him, before pulling away and heading out of the Control Room.

Stan was relieved when he heard Kevin let himself back into the house, banging the back door shut, as he always did. He went upstairs and into the kitchen, glancing up at the clock to see that it was ten o'clock. "How drunk are you?" he asked.
Kevin looked at him owlishly. " 'm not drunk," he said.
"Prove it." Stan grabbed his arm and pulled him out into the passage that led to the stairs and the basement. "Walk along there."
He watched closely as Kevin walked reasonably steadily along the corridor. "Good enough," he said. "Our third guest is now conscious, though currently she's asleep. You're going to watch her for me until Ned relieves you, and I'm going to bed."
Kevin groaned softly "Aw Stan, you know I 'ate that job," he said.
Stan looked at him scornfully. "Do you want to go and tell my master that?" he asked.
Kevin gulped. "Nah. I'll go downstairs." He shuffled off along the corridor and Stan made himself comfortable on a camp bed in the corner of the kitchen. He'd ask Ned to relieve Kevin around two o'clock, then he could go to his own room. He closed his eyes, glad that he'd long ago mastered the habit of sleeping lightly. About an hour later Ned let himself into the house, far more quietly than Kevin had done, but Stan was awake immediately. He reached out and turned on the small lamp beside the bed and Ned blinked in the sudden light.
"Ned, can you relieve Kevin at two? He's downstairs watching our third guest."
Ned nodded.
"Good man. Lock that door, will you? I'm going to bed." He went out, leaving Ned to lock up.

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