Touched by an Angel
What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.
—T. S. Eliot
The sun was shining, the day was warm for the time of year, and a certain Time Lord and Company had a catastrophe to prevent. And it was always in such moments that one was distracted. Case in point: the female voice calling the Doctor's name.
The Doctor stopped and turned, eyes wide—not many strangers did that to him. The female in question was young, twenty-ish, dark blonde, warm amber eyes… and oddly familiar. "Hello! Sorry, bit of a rush, there's a sort of… thing… happening, fairly important we stop it."
The girl opened her mouth to speak, but Holmes cut her off. He and Watson had slowed to a halt a few yards ahead, both bearing bows and arrow-filled quivers. "Doctor," the detective said impatiently, "we haven't the time for this—the migration has begun."
The girl's gaze settled on Watson; the Doctor had no idea why.
"Look, sorry," he continued, "I've got a bit of a complex life. Things don't always happen to me in order. Gets confusing, especially at weddings—I'm rubbish at weddings, especially my own."
The girl's mouth formed an "O", heartache in her eyes. Then, suddenly, the Doctor knew exactly why she seemed familiar, and it stole his breath away. "Oh my god," she said quietly. "Of course, you're a time traveller—it hasn't happened yet. None of it—it's still in your future."
Oh no, not again. The Doctor frowned, concerned for her. "What hasn't happened?"
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Watson looking at his pocket watch. "Doctor, it's twenty minutes to red hatching…" His voice trailed off as he looked up, attention captured by the young woman who couldn't seem to keep her eyes off of him.
The girl's breath caught. "It was me… Oh, for God's sake, it was me all along. You got it all from me…"
"Got what?" the Doctor said gently.
She returned her attention to the Doctor. "Okay. Listen. One day you're going to get stuck in 1969." She handed him a plastic purple envelope. "Make sure you've got this with you. You're going to need it." Hmm, this was kind of like that Merlin thing, all over again.
"Doctor!" Holmes cut in urgently.
The Doctor glanced in his direction. "Coming!" He turned back to Sally. "Thanks. Listen, got to dash—things happening. Well, four things. Well, four things and a lizard."
The girl nodded—rather numbly, he thought. "Okay." She took a breath, obviously not okay. "No worries, on you go. See you around some day."
"What was your name?"
The Doctor smiled. "Good to meet you, Sally Sparrow." He looked forward to getting to know her in the future.
She nodded again. "Goodbye, Doctor," she said quietly, an undercurrent of despair in her voice.
He wanted to reach out and comfort her, but he really did have to run, and she would find things out soon enough. He was certain of it.
As the three men continued down the street, Watson looked back. "Doctor, who was that?"
"I don't know—" that wasn't strictly true, but one just had to let these things play out—"we're meeting out of order again, like we did with Kit."
Watson nodded, looking relieved and yet apprehensive, probably wondering why the girl looked so sad. Sooner or later, the Doctor was certain he'd find out.
One week later...
Watson sighed as the TARDIS settled; once again, they had landed off course. According to the Doctor, they were somewhere outside the town of Newbury, which admittedly wasn't far off where they'd been aiming for: the International Balloon Fiesta in Bristol. Given the Doctor's track record of ending up where there was trouble, though, Watson was rather dubious about their chances of making it to the festival at all.
The Doctor opened the door, for once ahead of his Companions, and stepped out into a large and dimly-lit warehouse. From what Watson could see in the grey light filtering through the high, dust covered windows, whatever company owned this building clearly sold statuary. The warehouse was packed with sculptures of human figures, most of them crated, some merely wrapped in protective padding, but also a large number standing freely around the place. Watson frowned at the eerie spectacle – this kind of statue had always seemed a little too lifelike for his taste. Even the Venus de Milo in the TARDIS gallery made him feel uneasy whenever he visited on his own, with her blank, eggshell eyes...
The Doctor pulled out the sonic and started to scan in all directions. "I need to make me a timey... wimey... detector," he muttered.
Holmes gave him a Look. "Do you often explain temporal mechanics to infants, Doctor?"
Watson glanced over at Holmes reproachfully, and with a touch of concern as well; he had noticed lately that the detective's tongue was a good deal more acerbic than usual.
The Doctor, however, didn't miss a beat. "All the time, and you would not believe how much they understand. Someday, babies from every race are going to unite and take over the universe – just you watch." He flashed Holmes a grin and moved on through the warehouse. "Not seeing anything that would create a temporal disturbance, but the readings are off the charts on the sonic..."
"Now, that I could actually believe," Watson said lightly, responding to the Doctor's earlier comment. "The amount of times I've seen newborn twins jabbering away together, I'd swear sometimes they were hatching some nefarious plot..."
The Doctor turned to him, eyes alight. "Oh, they probably were! I've heard 'em do it – I do speak Baby, you know."
Watson chuckled. "I suppose it is a dialect of sorts – I'd never thought of it that way before."
Holmes silently cast his eyes upwards, then tensed and held up a warning hand at the sound of a slight rustle towards the back of the warehouse.
The Doctor turned and pointed the sonic in that direction, which began to vibrate violently. "Blimey. All right..." His Companions followed, equally wide-eyed.
"What is it?" Holmes demanded.
The Doctor frowned. "I don't know – and for once, I don't like that. It's nothing the sonic can identify, but whatever it is, it's wildly wrong – the sonic can tell that and so can I." He grimaced. "Hurts." The Time Lord carried on, fiddling with the sonic as he went, muttering, "If I can just narrow the field..."
Watson was too preoccupied with the Doctor's discomfort to give much thought to his other companion, until he looked around and realised that Holmes had fallen behind. The detective was turning into the nearest aisle between the stacks of crates, he must have seen something. "Holmes, wait, I really don't think you..." Watson trailed off with a sigh as his friend vanished from view, and started after him. "Holmes! Come on, old chap, this isn't the time to wander off."
When he got to the corner, however, he stopped short in surprise. Holmes was nowhere in sight – and Watson could see clearly that there was nowhere for his friend to have gone, either. This aisle was a dead end, with nothing but a granite-coloured statue of an angel at the far end, its hands covering its face.
"Doctor..." Watson looked back to where he'd last seen the Time Lord, and frowned in annoyance – now the Doctor had wandered off. "Doctor?" The call echoed in the dusty air; it was starting to dawn on Watson that it was just a little too quiet at the moment. Soldier's sense tingling, he headed off in the direction he'd seen the Doctor going, but couldn't find a sign of him.
"Holmes! Doctor!" Still no answer. Watson pressed his lips together tight, exhaling heavily through his nose. "Wonderful..." The Doctor had said something about a temporal disturbance when they'd made this detour, although he clearly hadn't expected any of them to get caught up in it! He'd better get back to the TARDIS – the ship would probably know what had happened and, more importantly, how to fix it. Surely they could work out some way to communicate clearly...
But when Watson made his way back to where they'd landed, he stopped dead, swearing softly. The TARDIS was gone, too.
Holmes hit the ground hard, the wind knocked out of him. Dazed, he dimly heard the Doctor landing beside him with a choked cry of pain, also gasping for breath. After a few moments' struggle, the detective found himself able to lift his head, groaning as his stomach protested against the movement. "...Doctor..."
The Doctor sat up slowly, also groaning. "Sherlock... You okay?" He grimaced, face pale. "I mean... nothing permanently damaged?"
Holmes ignored the question, looking around as he pushed himself upright with difficulty, eyes widening in alarm as he realised that Watson was nowhere to be seen. "Watson?"
The Doctor copied Holmes' frantic scan of the rubbish-filled alley they'd appeared in, but only for a moment or two. Softly: "Holmes... it was... Oh. Ohhh. Thick." He smacked himself on the forehead, wincing. "Holmes, it was just the two of us. Watson's okay."
Holmes staggered to his feet with the help of a convenient wall, terror and fury roiling in his gut, not feeling in the least reassured. "What was just the two of us, Doctor?" he snapped. "What the hell happened back there?"
"We were blasted back to 1969," the Doctor answered solemnly. "Watson's still in 2007."
"What?!" Holmes was sure his face was now as pale as the Doctor's.
His companion grimaced, massaging his temples. "We just made a really severe move through Time and Space – mostly Time, though. Do you remember Sally Sparrow?"
The anxious detective forced himself to concentrate, no easy task with his thoughts still spinning. "The... blonde girl, yes? The one who stopped us in the street last week?" Why hadn't he paid closer attention at the time?
The Doctor started to nod, then thought better of it. "Yeah." He started to rummage through his inside coat pocket. "She said that I would get stuck in 1969 someday… Ah-ha!"
Holmes sagged in relief as the Doctor pulled out the envelope. "All right, so... what shall we do now?"
The Doctor looked up, squinting around. "Find the nearest café where we can get some tea and look through this stuff..." He peered inside the envelope, Holmes looking over his shoulder – it seemed mostly full of papers, along with a few photographs and a plain, spiral-bound notebook.
The detective nodded unthinkingly, then winced as the throbbing in his skull turned to stabbing pain. "Right after we obtain some pain-killer..."
"Mm." The Doctor dug back into his coat and handed Holmes a wallet.
Holmes looked at him oddly. "You have currency for 1960s Britain?"
The Doctor gave him a Look in return. "I used to be in and out of the 1960s all the time."
Holmes sighed, he might have known. "Then add to the to-do list: Avoid running into past self." It had been far too much to hope that the Doctor might remember giving a lift to his tenth incarnation during a previous life. He searched through the wallet and managed to find some loose change and notes from the right decade; offered the Doctor a hand up, looking down the alley towards the street with more than a touch of apprehension. With any luck, 1960s Britain wouldn't be much worse than late 21st century America. "Shall we?"
"Mm." The Doctor laid a gentle hand on Holmes's shoulder. "Holmes, it's not going to happen again, all right? They're not here."
Holmes looked at his companion sharply; come to think of it, the Doctor had never specified just how they'd been sent back in Time... "Who, Doctor?"
The Doctor's expression was grim. "The Weeping Angels."
Author's Note from Sky:
I hope the warehouse scene creeped you guys out as much as it did us! Poor... well, everybody, really! And why was Sally so sad and alone, you ask? Well, that would be telling, now, wouldn't it? =)
Author's Note from Ria:
I'm just thrilled to finally get to this episode. 'Stolen' was my favourite – I love that we were able to have such a big cast that time, and Dash was a joy to write, but... yeah, I've been looking forward to this one since our boys arrived at Los Alamos! ;D