15 Minutes Ficlets Challenge: Odious


Athenaeum

by Red Wolf

Hammell walked through the halls of the château with Wolf on his arm. With Hammell resplendent in his full dress uniform and Wolf in leather and bare feet, they made for an odd couple.

"I take it you're not really the Doctor's bodyguard."

Wolf smiled as she looked up at Hammell. "I'm not hired as his bodyguard, if that's what you're asking, but I'm more than capable of doing the job."

"I noticed that." Hammell chuckled warmly and patted Wolf's hand. "But you didn't need to play the part."

"Ah." Wolf nodded in understanding as they walked past yet another stern looking family portrait. "If I had dressed in something more conventional I would have spent the evening trapped in the clutches of that hideous woman at our table and been forced to nod politely as she rabbitted on about her poor husband and whatever gossip floats her boat. And would I probably never would have met you or Jenner or Roberto."

"That would have been a shame," Hammell agreed. "But you wouldn't have caught the attention of your new suitor either."

Waving the concern away, Wolf's voice hardened. "Better he picked me than someone who couldn't fight him off."

"A fair call." Bowing his head in acknowledgement, Hammell opened a door and ushered Wolf into a large book-lined room. "I have to give Jenner a hand in quieting things down. I trust you'll stay here until we have your little problem sorted out."

"You have my word." Hammell bowed formally and left Wolf to her own devices in the library.

Wolf was quite pleased with her temporary accommodations. It beat a holding cell and offered much in the way of distractions. She examined the shelves, selecting books at random and examining them. After finding a romance, a fairy tale and a science tome shelved side by side, she decided that the library had been categorised by a madman. Looking around the walls, she realised that the madman in question had been an illiterate interior designer who ordered books in bulk by size and colour, and then shelved them so the spine titles formed pretty patterns. She shuddered, certain that such behaviour should be declared a killing offence.

"Now that you've finished flirting with Hammell, perhaps you can turn you're attention to the matter at hand." She didn't hear the Doctor's voice in her ear so much as in her head. It was oddly disconcerting.

"I don't flirt." The earpiece the Doctor had handed her transmitted both voice and surface thoughts via the TARDIS, which came in handy if you were under surveillance or didn't want to be caught in the middle of a crowd talking to yourself.

The Doctor didn't reply. Wolf had limited people skills. She was fine with someone like Hammell or Roberto where she shared an interest, but blunt to the point of uselessness with most people. In general, she was belligerent and had a tendency to rant, although, oddly enough, she was more mellow when intoxicated, if prone to kiss complete strangers. "I've been chatting to that floating herd of debutantes and, while they found your stalker unpleasant, it was more an impression than anything he may have said. He might stand a chance of throwing his weight around and claiming an unprovoked attack, in which case I suggest for start looking to make your escape."

Wolf selected another book and flicked through it, an engineering book this time. She frowned in thought as she looked at the diagrams. "I think he picked me because he mistook me for your property. I wasn't part of his social circle and he saw me as fair game."

"Which means he won't have been hitting on the local talent." The Doctor followed her train of thought. "You think this was targeted to type or status?"

Settling herself in one of the library's comfortable chairs, Wolf considered the question. "Both. I think he's smart enough not to shit in his own nest, so he'll see most people at the party as untouchable. Have a chat to Roberto and see if he's had any female apprentices disappear. I get the impression this bloke wants to play with strong women."

"Might be worth having a chat with Hammell and Jenner too, then. See if they've lost any military lasses. Try and stay out of trouble, yeah."

Wolf had managed to find several more engineering and metallurgy books in the hodgepodge collection. She was spending her time making copious notes and comparisons on her reading material with the TARDIS while tuning out the Doctor's conversations with their dinner companions. She'd amassed quite a pile of books before she heard back directly from the Doctor.

"Just got a note from Jenner." Wolf could hear the smugness in his voice. "You pegged the bastard. Jenner sent some men around to his house and they found a couple of drugged girls in the basement. One had gone missing recently from Roberto's guild, the other from the leatherworker's guild. This bloke is in some serious shit." The library door was flung open and the Doctor walked into the room with a huge grin on his face. "You're in the clear." He grabbed Wolf in a bear hug.

"I'd better go thank Hammell and Jenner." Wolf returned the Doctor's grin. "Then we should get out of here before I really manage to upset the wrong person."