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The South Wales Valleys, 7.18 p.m.
The band were taking a well-earned break. The Doctor and Pam were sitting at a table in the bar, a noisy crowd of pool-players behind them. His head was spinning – not from the ear-splitting music, nor from the lager, but from Pam’s relentless questioning. She’d been talking non-stop since they’d left the TARDIS, except for a few minutes while she was at the bar.
‘Blimey, your parents knew what they were doing,’ he gasped when she finally stopped for breath.
‘How do you mean?’ She looked baffled.
‘They called you Pam! It’s Welsh for “why” – they must have known what you’d be like when you were older! It’s just “why, why, why?” all the time.’ He took a sip of his lager and grinned. ‘Mind you, it could have been worse – they could have called you Delilah!’
‘Cheeky bastard!’
Pam pretended to look hurt, but he smiled again.
‘Oh, I’m only kidding. Curiosity’s a good thing. It’s like that Rudyard Kipling poem:
I keep six honest serving-men,
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When,
And How and Where and Who.’
He winked at her.
‘Could have been written especially for me, that could! Actually, I think it was.’
He swallowed the last of his pint and stood up.
‘Same again?’
He headed towards the bar, leaving Pam even more thoroughly bemused than before.
After they’d left the mysterious blue box in the lane, Pam had followed her new friend into the supermarket opposite the pub. On the way, he’d asked her to keep the owner talking while he fiddled with the ATM. A few moments later the Doctor had turned around with a huge smile, shoved a handful of notes into his pocket, and bade the shopkeeper a cheerful ‘goodbye’ as he dragged Pam back towards the pub.
By now, Pam was convinced that he was a psychiatric patient. Maybe he’d absconded from the hospital in the neighbouring town. It didn’t help that her new friend mentioned ‘aliens’ and ‘time travel’ as casually as Jeremy Clarkson might refer to engine capacity and fuel consumption.
She finished her drink and leaned back in her chair, watching the Doctor chatting easily to the barmaid. Still, it made a change from getting drunk with the usual Sunday crowd.
Across the bar, Jimmy Davies was embarking on his seventh pint of Export lager. His tattooed arms, as thick as a man’s thigh, bulged from the sleeves of his too-tight Motorhead t-shirt. His shaved head reflected the coloured lights behind the stage. He wiped a thin covering of foam from his goatee beard and glared across the bar with thinly-veiled hostility.
Amy, the tiny brunette barmaid, was laughing at something at the tall, eccentrically dressed stranger had said. She thought Jimmy hadn’t noticed. She’d spent several weekend shifts trying to persuade him that she wasn’t interested in him, but to no avail.
Now it seemed that a potential rival had appeared on the scene, and Jimmy’s Alpha Male instincts were kicking in. At first, he had paid no attention, but Amy was obviously interested in the new arrival. As the alcohol level in his blood kept increasing, so did Jimmy’s jealousy.
After a promising rugby career had been cut short by a knee injury, he had turned his attention to weight-training and bodybuilding instead. Along with several of his pals, Jimmy was a regular user of the illicit steroids that circulated in the gyms and sports clubs of the valleys. The rest of the pub regulars gave him a wide berth when he was tanked up. He was renowned for his violent outbursts, often with only the slightest provocation.
As he watched Amy leaning towards the man in the smart suit and long coat, an unhealthy cocktail of alcohol, steroids, and his own insecurities was being mixed in Jimmy’s mind.
7.27 p.m.
Outside, in the softly-falling rain, Captain Jack Harkness led the way towards the pub.
Ianto, Martha, and former WPC Gwen Cooper were following close behind. Jack held an electronic instrument in his outstretched hand. A green light on its screen was blinking furiously. He paused a few yards away from the knot of smokers milling around outside, and turned to his colleagues.
‘Okay, folks, there’s a sonic device somewhere in this building – and where there’s a sonic device, the Doctor’s not far behind.’
He pocketed the gadget and made his way towards the group of people around the entrance.
‘Remember, we’re not here to bring in a hostile alien – but we might still attract attention. Try to blend in, and just act naturally. With any luck, this should be straightforward enough.’
‘I hate that word,’ Gwen muttered in a low voice to Martha. ‘It’s like “foolproof”.’
7.28 p.m.
The Doctor returned to Pam’s side, whistling happily, unaware that Jimmy’s envious glare was trained on him. He picked up his glass and swallowed a mouthful of lager.
‘Cheers!’ He clinked his glass against Pam’s. ‘I really should take a wrong turning more often – this is turning into a fun evening!”
At that moment, Jack pushed open the door and strode into the pub. His greatcoat swung like a heavy curtain as Gwen and Ianto flanked him in the doorway. The Doctor leapt out of his chair, beaming from ear to ear.
‘Oh, here’s trouble!’ he cried in delight.
He stepped forward, extended a hand to Jack, and embraced his old friend in full view of the pub. Jack planted a kiss on the Doctor’s lips and cuffed him playfully on the shoulder. An uneasy murmur ran through the room at this unashamed display of male affection.
It increased in volume as the punters caught sight of a petite mixed-race girl, wearing a red leather jacket and tight jeans, a huge smile on her face. She threw her arms around the Doctor, and he lifted her off her feet as they kissed. Amy couldn’t help but stare as the handsome stranger swung the girl around. Jimmy stared too. His regular Sunday drinking session was turning into a freak show.
‘Hey, this is a turn up for the books,’ Martha squealed as he put her down. ‘We’re rescuing you for a change!’
‘Well, not exactly rescuing,’ he grinned. ‘Just giving me a bit of technical support, that’s all.’
Martha stepped aside and allowed Gwen and Ianto through the crowd. The Doctor shook Ianto’s hand, then Gwen’s, beaming all over his face.
‘And finally, I get to meet you two in the flesh! I hope you’re keeping an eye on him.’ He jerked his thumb towards Jack. ‘He gets into all sorts of mischief when I’m not around.’
Jack narrowed his eyes and tried unsuccessfully not to smile.
‘Yeah, we know. We do our best,’ Gwen replied.
Ianto became aware that Pam was staring at him, and the Doctor quickly introduced her to his friends.
‘Not being funny, but you look really familiar,’ she said as she shook Ianto’s hand. ‘I’m sure I’ve seen you somewhere before.’
‘I think I’ve just got one of those faces,’ he said with a shrug.
Jack pulled a small plastic box from his pocket and handed it to the Doctor with a wink.
‘I hope it works.’
The Doctor turned the object over, watching the light reflect off its multifaceted surface, and a grin spread across his face.
‘Oh, Jack, you’re a star!’
‘It’s mostly Toshiko’s work. I haven’t tested it, but she never let us down. I just had to finish it off, after she …’
‘Yeah, I was sorry to hear about her and Owen.’
‘Perils of the job. Shit happens.’
Jack shrugged and pulled his wallet out.
‘Right – drinks! Gwen and Martha – lager? Ianto, Coke?’
The others nodded their agreement. Jack made his way to the bar. The Doctor was still examining the device, and Pam nudged his shoulder.
‘What’s that for, then?’
‘It’s an emergency power pack.’ He held it up so she could see it more clearly. ‘You know, like one of those battery chargers you can get for a mobile phone. Gives you enough juice to last until you get chance to recharge properly.’
‘Speaking of mobile phones,’ Martha interrupted, ‘why did you ring me from a payphone? What happened to my old phone?’
‘Ah!’ He looked embarrassed, and Martha gave him a stern look. ‘Right. Your old phone.’ He pulled a face. ‘Well, you remember when every telephone exchange on earth dialled me simultaneously?’
‘Yeah?’ she said slowly, raising one eyebrow.
‘It kind of … well, melted.’
‘That was a two hundred quid phone!’
‘Yeah, but you must admit the ringtones were rubbish …’
Jack returned from the bar, handed Martha her drink and smiled.
‘Never takes long for you two to start arguing, does it?’
Pam glared at Martha for a moment.
‘Hang on, are you two―?’
‘No!’ they shouted together.
‘It’s really complicated,’ she added. ‘Just forget about it.’
Jack sank his substantial frame into a low armchair and raised his glass.
‘Just what I needed – a quiet drink with some old friends.’
In the big room, the band were getting ready for their second set of the night. Over the next few minutes, most of the punters filed through the doorway into the lounge. Ianto and Gwen followed them out of curiosity. A couple of minutes later, the opening bars of one of Bryan Adams’ big hits rang out, and a few people in the audience cheered.
‘Oh, “Summer of ’69”,’ Pam shouted over the sound of the band. ‘Great song!’
‘I dunno about that,’ the Doctor said, a petulant note in his voice. ‘I mean, in July 1969, a human being set foot on another world for the first time. The pinnacle of your civilisation, the culmination of millions of years of evolution – and all it means to him is buying a guitar and snogging a girl. Talk about missing the point!’
‘Okay then, what were you doing in the summer of ’69?’ Martha teased.
‘Me?’ He swigged his lager and leant back against the quiz machine. ‘I was in UNIT HQ, watching the moon landing on TV with the Brigadier, and laughing my socks off! Blimey, how you lot ever got that thing off the ground …’ He shook his head and grinned.
‘What about you, Jack?’
‘I can’t tell you exactly where I was. Classified.’ He sipped his mineral water and winked at her. ‘Let’s just say the summer of ’69 lived up to its name.’
Trying not to blush, Pam grabbed the Doctor’s hand and dragged him towards the doorway.
‘Come on,’ she cried, ‘let’s go and dance.’
He vanished into the crowd with a backwards pleading glance at Martha and Jack.
‘If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em,’ he chuckled. He slipped his arm around her shoulders and they made their way into the lounge.
Gwen and Ianto were throwing shapes in front of the stage, along with about a dozen other people. The Doctor and Pam were bouncing around energetically some distance away, and here and there lights flashed as camera phones snapped souvenir pictures of the mismatched couple.
‘Well, I did tell them to try and blend in,’ Jack said in a low voice.
Jimmy watched with cold resentment as the regular routine of a Sunday afternoon slipped rapidly away. He’d temporarily forgotten about Amy. Instead, his gaze was fixed on Gwen. The little brunette seemed to be the only normal one in the group of strangers. His sozzled brain couldn’t figure out why she’d be hanging around with the rest of her friends.
As the song came to an end, Gwen and Ianto emerged from the press of dancing bodies. She made their way over to Jack and Martha and gulped her drink. It seemed that the Doctor had been well and truly captured. Pam was showing him off to some of her pals.
‘See, Ianto, I told you it wouldn’t be as bad as you thought,’ Jack smiled.
The younger man shrugged and sipped his Coke.
The band played another couple of rock standards, accompanied by some vigorous dancing at the front of the stage, before launching into another pub favourite – the Kaiser Chiefs’ rousing hit ‘I Predict a Riot’.
Gwen pulled a face.
‘Oh, no!’ The others looked at her in surprise. ‘Sorry – there’s something about this song. When Andy and I were on patrol, if we heard this song three times in one night there’d be trouble.’
‘Don’t be so daft! It’s just coincidence.’ Martha laughed and put her glass on a nearby table.
She pushed her way through the crowd and began bouncing around opposite a fair-haired man in a Sex Pistols t-shirt. Pam squeezed through the crowd on her way to the ladies’, and the Doctor threw himself into a frenzied pogo along with Martha and the young chap.
Amy was in the middle of a conversation with one of her friends when Jack pricked up his ears.
‘Anyway,’ she said loudly, ‘I thought he’d died. But it turns out he’s living in Aberystwyth.’
‘Excuse me, ladies,’ Jack said, leaning across the bar. ‘Speaking as someone who’s done both, let me tell you there’s not a lot of difference. In fact, if I had to make the choice between dying again, or living in Aberystwyth again – I’d rather die!’
Amy and her friend burst out laughing. Before Jack could continue, he felt a heavy hand on his arm. He turned to see Jimmy looming over his shoulder. His jealousy had finally got the better of him. Jimmy caught hold of Jack’s lapels and swung him around, so they were standing face to face.
‘Who the fuck are you?’ he slurred.
Jack flashed his assailant a dazzling smile and extended his right hand.
‘Captain Jack Harkness.’ He inclined his head for a moment and smiled again. ‘Nice ear-rings, by the way! Now, I’m guessing you’re the kinda guy who likes to work out―’
Jimmy wasn’t so stupid that he failed to recognise a chat-up line when he heard one. Immediately his massive fist slammed into Jack’s face. Jack staggered back against the bar, scattering a row of empty glasses and sending a handful of customers reeling into the nearby tables. A woman screamed as Jack stood up. There was a smear of blood across his mouth, and he shook his head sharply to clear it.
‘My turn!’
He walloped Jimmy in the stomach, then raised his leg as Jimmy doubled up. Jimmy’s nose crumpled as it collided with Jack’s kneecap, and he howled in pain.
Ianto and Gwen were already moving to help their colleague, while Martha was trying to pull the Doctor towards the doorway. Some of Jimmy’s pals were homing in to lend their support. Ianto took his stun gun from his pocket; one of the bruisers fell to the floor without a sound. Gwen pulled out her warrant card and waved it vainly in the air.
‘Hold it! Police!’ she yelled, but nobody was paying her any attention.
On the stage, the band played on with renewed energy. They’d never seen a slam-dance like this before.
As they went into the second chorus, Pam opened the door from the ladies’. She peered out at the chaos around her and closed it hurriedly again, just before a pint glass smashed against the timber frame.
In the midst of the confusion, Martha managed to steer the Doctor through the doorway and into the bar.
‘Do something!’ she screamed.
He took his sonic screwdriver from his pocket and held it aloft.
‘Sorry, boys, but you’re a bit too loud for a Sunday evening.’
The device whistled, and one of the amplifiers exploded in a shower of sparks. The music died instantly, leaving only the sound of the brawl in the lounge. The lights went out at the same moment, plunging the whole pub into near-darkness. In the ensuing panic, Martha pushed the Doctor outside and onto the pavement. A small crowd of passers-by had gathered to witness the excitement, and it was fairly certain that the police weren’t far behind.
‘Have you got that piece of kit?’ she yelled.
‘Yeah, it’s here.’ He patted his pocket.
‘Right – go! We’ll meet you at the Rift.’
Without waiting to be told twice, he sprinted off towards the back lane.
Martha fought her way back inside and screamed at her colleagues. Ianto was first to break from the scrum. He shouldered his way towards her, his jacket covered in beer and spots of blood.
‘What the hell happened?’
‘Jack happened!’
She caught her breath and stood with her palms on her knees.
‘”Just act naturally, try to blend in”,’ he said. Since then does that involve trying to get off with the local steroid monster?’ She grimaced, then forced a faint smile. ‘Actually, this is Jack we’re talking about.’
‘Yeah. It happens quite a lot,’ he said ruefully.
Gwen and Jack had somehow managed to escape from the fracas inside. The four friends ran through the double doors and raced up the street towards the lane, not daring to look back.
When it seemed that the noise had died down, Pam emerged cautiously from the ladies’.
Her new friends were nowhere to be seen. Jimmy and his mates were unconscious in a heap by the bar. In a corner, a couple of women were crying. Several people had their phones out, taking photos of the scene. The musicians were clustered around their lifeless equipment, trying to figure out what had happened. Amy was trying to gather up shards of glass from the floor while shouting at nobody in particular.
Without pausing to look around, she hurried from the pub. As she hurried towards the lane, a black Land Rover with tinted windows shot out of a side street and sped off down the main road.
She arrived in the lane just in time to see the outline of the blue box fade and vanish before her eyes. A strange groaning sound rang in her ears before it too faded slowly, leaving just a rush of air in its wake. Pam rubbed her eyes, shook her head, and decided that next time she went out for the weekend, she’d definitely be staying sober.
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