The heat of the tropical sun beat down on the scene unfolding. The Doctor sat his eyes closed, in his shirtsleeves on the bowsprit of the sloop Dolphin, arms out wide letting the wind ruffle his auburn curls, as the cooling sea spray soaked him.
"Isn't this invigorating?" he yelled, the joy evident in his voice.
His travelling companion, her face pale, didn't reply as she leant over the side feeling a little worse for wear.
"Fleur! Come on, join me!"
"I'd rather not," replied Fleur, brushing back her long, cherry blonde hair. Never one to miss an opportunity to delve into the dressing up box, she had on a white sailor suit complete with blue ribbon headband. "I'd rather go below, have a little lay down."
"A bit of fresh air won't hurt you."
"It's not the air I object to."
"You should learn to enjoy it, my lady."
"And you should learn to act your age. Get down from there, you might fall off and then what will we do?"
"Laugh," he replied, reluctantly climbing down. He landed on the deck with both feet, a wide grin on his face. "Smile, it might not happen."
"But it will. We both know that."
"It's a simple problem. We just fix it, and then I take you back to your pretty little citadel and your son. And we will all be happy."
"Don't think that it's your company I object to. It's this crew. Where did you get them from, pirates are us?"
"A friend - who knows about these things - recommended them to me."
"Well he's done you up like a kipper. It's like being in Treasure Island."
"I always preferred Kidnapped myself."
"You just like playing captain."
"Oh, you know me so well," he replied with a hint of sarcasm. "I can't resist a bit of gold braid and a funny hat."
Fleur tutted loudly. She held out a small electronic device a size and shape of a saucer in her hand, glancing at the screen.
"Are you sure we will find the eye of the storm in all this interference?"
"We'll find it." He laid a hand on her shoulder. "Don't you worry."
"What will you tell the crew? You can't have given them the whole story or they wouldn't be here."
"I may have told a few tales."
"How will you explain us heading to the place on the map marked 'here be dragons'?"
The Doctor sat in his cabin slumped in the chair, his hands laid across his chest as his eyes fluttered closed. He never admitted to sleeping, not in polite company anyway, but there was no harm in resting his eyes. Fleur on the other hand, unusually for a Time Lord, was already asleep in the cot behind the screen to his right. He could hear her gentle breathing as she slumbered. At least while she slept she wouldn't be feeling nauseas and thus cranky. The tracking device was ticking away on the desk, charting their position in relation to the anomaly. He still wasn't quite sure how to deal with it, but hoped that when the time came it would all fit into place. His eyes felt surprisingly heavy, must be the fresh sea air he thought, letting sleep overtake him.
He was woken abruptly, shaken like a pepper pot by an unseen hand, as he felt the ship heel to one side. Thunder rumbled in the distance as water crashed against the window. The Doctor's eyes snapped open.
"Trouble?" was the only word he uttered.
"What do you think?" replied Fleur, tetchily, as she grabbed hold of him to steady herself as the ship heeled over once again. Adding, "You snore."
"No I don't."
He got to his feet bracing himself against the listing deck of the ship.
"I don't like this," said Fleur.
"Neither do I," he replied. "We're carrying too much sail."
"Since when did you know anything about boats?"
"It's not a boat it's a ship. And I've been doing my research."
He went to open the door when Fleur put a restraining arm on his shoulder.
"You're not going out there are you?"
"Of course I am."
"Well, you aren't going without me," she said, picking up a cloak, putting it on and pulling up the hood.
"That's not going to keep you dry."
"You are the one who insists on going out there."
"They might be waiting for my orders."
In the dark of night, the wind and waves buffeted the sloop, the cold water washing over the bulwark soaking the Doctor and his companion.
"I'm soaked," complained Fleur.
"I told you the cloak wouldn't help. Where are the crew?"
"They're obviously sensible enough to stay out of the rain."
"That's not how it works. Look, there's no one at the helm."
He made to grab the wheel that was spinning out of control, pulling on it with all his weight in an effort to steady their erratic course. Fleur went to help him, adding her strength to the mix but together they could barely keep control.
"We shouldn't be doing this. It's the crew's job," she complained, wiping the water from her eyes.
"All hands! All hands on deck!" the Doctor yelled in the vain hope that Fleur's misguided reasoning was correct. "There's no one aboard except us and we can't sail this ship on our own."
"You pilot the TARDIS on your own?"
"This is an entirely different kettle of fish."
"Where's your remote? We can call the TARDIS back here and-,"
"Its no use," he showed her the tracking device. "We're too near the anomaly and anyway I don't have a remote, at least not anymore."
"We're going to drown then?"
"Not if I can help it, my lady."
"Then can we go back to the cabin in the dry?"
The sound of splintering wood and shattering glass prevented that request being fulfilled. A wave had hit the stern, smashing the window.
"Leave the helm. We can't do anything useful by holding on now. I need some rope."
"There's plenty to choose from," she replied, frustrated, as another wave nearly swept them overboard.
The Doctor grabbed up a length of rope, and then taking her by the hand he struggled over to the main mast. He lashed them both securely to the mast.
"We won't be swept over the side now."
"But if the ship sinks we go down with it, you fool!"
"We'll cross that bridge when we get to it."
"I don't want to die," sobbed Fleur. "I'm not ready yet. Who will look after my son when I'm gone?"
"He's twenty years old."
"He still needs his mum."
"You're not his real mother."
"How can you say something so cruel when we are going to die?"
"It's true and anyway we are not going to die. You're with me, aren't you?"
"That's no guarantee."
"You have to trust me," replied the Doctor, as the storm raged on. He looked her straight in the eye and added confidently. "We will be fine."
"I'm not some spotty teenager with a crush anymore. I'm not going to think everything will be alright just because you look at me with those," she paused, pushing back a sigh, "eyes of yours and tell me in your most reassuring tone its all fine."
The first thing the Doctor felt was the sand beneath him and the heat of the sun beating down on his back. He could hear the sound of water breaking on the sea shore and the cry of some tropical animals. He opened his eyes slowly, blinking in the bright daylight as he got to his feet with a groan of pain. His first thought was how he ached all over from the battering he had received in the storm. His second thought was where his companion was and whether she was alright. The Doctor looked around worry evident on his face.
"Fleur!" he called out.
He stumbled further down the beach, peering into the distance.
He couldn't see any sign of her.
He heard a rustle in the trees behind him, swiftly turning on his heels in the soft sand he saw the approaching soldiers. He went to run but it was too late they had spotted him.
"Halt! Don't move," shouted the commanding soldier, dressed in a white jacket with blue trim and a red sash. "Or I'll open fire."
The other soldiers aimed their rifles. The Doctor raised his hands in surrender. He was torn between asking whether they had seen his companion, and keeping quiet so as not to alert them to her existence.
"I wasn't thinking of moving," he replied. "Could you by any chance tell me where I am?"
"Quiet. You are trespassing."
"How can I be trespassing if I don't know where I am?"
"You will come with us."
"It is you will come with us please. A little manner's never hurt anybody."
"Insolent fool," snapped the commander. "It will hurt you."
He gave a signal. The Doctor felt the impact of a rifle butt against the back of his head and crumpled to the ground unconscious.
The heavy door with its barred window slammed shut with a loud bang. The Doctor let out a sigh, listening for the retreating steps and jangle of the jailer's key. He would find a way to escape these bonds that was sure, but whether he could find his companion and continue the mission was another matter. It had been a complete failure from the start, falling from one disaster to another. If he had a more suspicious mind the Doctor would start to think someone had been deliberately sabotaging their efforts. First after having Fleur imposed on him by the Agency who had blackmailed him -once again - into doing their dirty work he had found that his TARDIS refused to deposit him anywhere near the anomaly, causing them to have to acquire a sea going vessel. Luckily he had enough contacts to aid him in his quest. Then on their first stopover in a port a quarter of the men deserted and now the crew had mysteriously disappeared and he and Fleur had been shipwrecked. He took a deep breath, as he considered the possibility she had drowned. The Doctor tried to remember what had happened, but the whole incident was a blur. The last thing he remembered was the impact as a large wave smashed the ship to pieces. He was a strong swimmer but doubted that the Time Lady had bothered to learn such a basic skill. Fleur couldn't have drowned or been washed up too far away, he had tied them together securely so they wouldn't be separated.
The Doctor was surprised to hear the jangle of keys so soon and looked up with keen interest as to who his visitor was. It was commander red sash (or so the Doctor had taken to calling him after having not caught his name) looking smug.
"You have a visitor Doctor Smith."
"Me? A visitor? Surely this is an occasion. I don't very often get visitors."
"Check your tongue Doctor, or I will take great pleasure in cutting it out."
"Then I suggest you tell me who it is that takes such pains to visit me in my," he held up the chains, "time of need?"
"Surely you would welcome a visit from your wife, señor."
"My wife?" his voice wavered slightly in surprise, his eyes almost bulging out of their sockets. "But-,"
"Hello, my darling husband," said a bedraggled looking Fleur, stepping into the cell.
"I-I thought you were drowned."
"So did I," she replied. "Can we have a little privacy Commander de la Perro?"
"I will have to lock you in," replied the commander.
"That's fine. He's only my husband."
"Of course, señora."
He exited the room with a bow, locking the door behind him. They both waited till his footsteps had receded far enough for there to be no possibility of being overheard.
"What do you think you are playing at," hissed the Doctor.
"Survival," replied Fleur. "I told him that we were married, because it's the only way I could think to get him to allow me to see you."
"What else have you been saying? I only ask because its better if were both reading from the same page."
"You are a botanist and we were on a scientific expedition when our ship was caught in a storm."
"Do you think he believes that?"
"You tell me."
"Well from the evidence that I'm still in chains I would guess he has his doubts."
"You bring out the sceptic in everyone."
"There is something rotten here-,"
"It's a cell what do you expect?"
"No, that's not what I mean. They're hiding something here."
"What would they want to hide?"
"Did you manage to salvage the tracker?"
"You were the one looking after it."
"Do you think they know something about the anomaly?"
"Well, it would explain-,"
He paused. They both heard the jangle of keys. Their time was up.
"Get me out of here," he hissed.
"Use your womanly ways."
The door swung open with a creak.
"Have you had enough of each others company?" asked the commander with a cheeky wink.
"I don't see why my husband should be locked up here. He has a weak constitution, and these damp conditions are not good for his chest."
The Doctor coughed and tried to look weak to illustrate Fleur's argument.
"I thought he was a Doctor?"
"Not that kind of doctor, darling. Please, we are not threat to you," she replied, fluttering her eyelashes. "It is quite ghastly in here. He does not deserve to suffer this indignity. He is not a criminal," she let her voice waver, as if she were about to cry.
"Look I'll have a word with my superior, that's all I can do."
"I don't know why he's in here in the first place."
"I'm just obeying orders, señora."
"If he gets ill I will hold you and your superior responsible."
"It will not come to that, I assure you."
He held the door open for her.
"I hope so for your sake," replied Fleur, walking out the cell with a flick of her hair.
Fleur sat on the edge of the four poster bed with is brocade covers and faded linen sheets, staring out the barred window. Her cell was a comfortable one but a cell none the less. She was a prisoner just as much as the Doctor was. She had managed to procure for herself some half decent clothes. The unfashionable crimson silk dress she now wore came up quite tight in all the wrong places. It was the Señora Ortega's spare and Fleur was having trouble breathing let alone moving without feeling faint. She hoped as the sun set, that the Doctor had got her hint. If he had she would know soon enough.
The Doctor lent back against the cold hard wall, closing his eyes he took measured breaths. He needed to raise his body temperature to fake a fever, but something was wrong. He could feel his chest tightening, his head spinning and his hearts pounding out of control. This wasn't supposed to happen. He reached out to pull himself up, his fingernails scraping the stone wall but he hadn't the strength. The Doctor attempted to cry for help but the words stuck in his throat, his mouth dry as his core temperature soared. He tried to bring it back down, but he couldn't. This wasn't supposed to happen. Once again he got the feeling this was part of some big plan.
The soldiers carried the Doctor into the room, on a stretcher, followed by the commander. Fleur hovered in the background as he was lifted onto the bed.
"How did this happen," she demanded. "How long has he been like this?"
"One of my men found him collapsed when they brought him his breakfast," explained Commander de la Perro, apologetically.
"I told you his constitution wasn't strong enough."
"I'm sorry, señora. I cannot apologise enough, if you require anything please don't hesitate to ask."
"Some cold water would be good," she placed a hand on the Doctor's forehead. It was hotter than she expected even. "He's burning up."
"Of course. I will see to it right away."
Fleur sat on the edge of the bed, mopping the Doctor's brow with a damp cloth. He lay still on the bed stripped to the waist in the vain attempt to cool him off (she wasn't going any lower). She was worried, very worried. He should have returned to normal by now.
"Doctor," she whispered. "Doctor, speak to me."
He mumbled something indecipherable.
"What is it? What are you trying to tell me?"
He tried to say something but his mouth was dry. Fleur filled a glass with the water from the jug on the stand by the bed, and then cradling him in her arms she helped him take a sip of water.
"Here you go."
He tried to hold the glass and pour more down his throat.
"No, no. Don't gulp it," said Fleur, softly, pulling the glass away as he began to cough.
"I thought for a moment you really were ill. You shouldn't do that to me."
"But I am."
"Don't mess with me."
"I'm not," he closed his eyes for a moment. "I had no control."
"How is that possible?"
"I think we are close to the anomaly, its playing havoc with my nervous system."
"That would explain-,"
"Well, I've been feeling a little faint. I thought it was just because this dress was too tight."
"You look lovely, by the way. That dress suits you."
Fleur blushed a little, embarrassed by his complement.
"Do you really? It's a bit Moulin Rouge…I feel like a saloon girl in it. It's totally impractical, no good for running down corridors."
"I'm sure you'll cope. You do have a French name." He smiled, weakly.
"Even Madame De Pompadour would struggle in this outfit."
"You're doing fine so far."
"I can't breathe. Can you loosen the back for me? Unless you're not up to it."
"Come here then," replied the Doctor.
She sat awkwardly on the edge of the bed so he could reach and held her long hair out the way.
"Back to our main agenda," she said, as he loosened her corset. "If the anomaly is that close then there is still a chance we might be able to collapse it."
"But there is a problem."
"If we are both affected at this range what's going to happen when we are right up against the anomaly?"
"We need help."
"That's better," she said taking a deep breath. "I can actually move now. Señora Ortega helped me with the dress and she pulled the corset a little too tight. You haven't left it undone have you, I don't want any wardrobe malfunctions?"
"I did a double knot."
"The señora, would she be willing to help us?"
"I don't think so. She was rather brusque, I think she tried to suffocate me with that corset," she smiled. "Do you want me to refill your glass?"
Fleur lent over him as she reached for the jug of water, pouring some into the empty glass. Sitting back she handed him the glass.
"You should take it easy. We still have enough time to think of a solution."
"The longer we leave the anomaly the stronger it will get."
"But you are not in a fit state to go running around."
"I'll be fine." He sat up and rested his hand on her shoulder. "We have a job to do."
"You're hot," she exclaimed, placing her hand gently on his forehead.
"Why, thank you."
"Not like that, silly. You still have a fever."
"I can work with it."
She pushed him firmly back onto the bed.
"I don't want you collapsing on me. Get some rest, we can escape tomorrow morning."
"Yes, my lady," replied the Doctor, a hint of sarcasm in his voice.
Fleur found a space on the bed, curling her feet up she leant against one of the posts, watching the Doctor. His breathing was shallow and laboured as he lay on the sweat soaked sheets. She was worried about him and wondered whether he would be able to handle any attempt at a bid for freedom. She even contemplated making a move while he slept and stopping the anomaly herself, but she hadn't a clue how to, that was his expertise. Fleur let out a sigh. It was going to be a long night.
As Fleur woke she felt his hand on her waist. Blinking in the morning light she realised her head was resting on the Doctor's chest. She must have fallen asleep. It must be the affects of the anomaly making her tired. Fleur sat up and gently lifted his hand up and placed it beside him. She yawned and swung her feet round. Getting to her feet she wandered slowly over to the barred window, peering down at the soldiers parading in the courtyard below. She heard a groan from the bed.
"Can't I just have five more minutes?" he moaned, yawning.
"You can have as long as you want."
"So, my lady, as you're playing nurse, am I fit?"
"Yes," she walked over and checked his temperature. "And your fever's gone as well."
"Now, who's the terrible flirt?"
"Put your shirt on," she replied, chucking it at him along with his waistcoat and jacket.
"Alright," he began to dress. "Have you thought up a plan?"
"I asked first."
"You'll see," she held a finger to her lips and gave a cheeky wink. "Just follow my lead."
She banged on the door.
"Excuse me. Señor soldier can you open the door?"
There was a jangle of keys and the door swung open.
"You called, señora," said the scruffy soldier. He had the air of someone who had been disturbed in the middle of his siesta.
"Yes, could I ask you something," she slowly moved backwards, trying to look seductive. "A big favour. I'm so lonely-,"
"I think I can help you señora," he replied moving closer, grabbing hold of Fleur he pulled her close.
She barely stifled a yelp when he grabbed her bum. Suddenly the soldier let go and dropped limply to the floor, behind him stood the Doctor holding a candlestick.
"About time, Doctor."
"I thought you were enjoying yourself," he quipped.
"Just get the keys, before he comes round."
Outside in the bright sunlight the Doctor and Fleur stood their backs flat against the hot wall, waiting for the patrol to pass.
"We need to find a boat once we get down to the harbour," hissed the Doctor. "Do you remember seeing any transport?"
"No, why would I?"
"Well, you did seem to be pretty comfortable by the time I saw you."
"I wasn't exactly in a fit state to take note of details," she replied. "I thought it was your turn to think up an escape plan?"
"You mean you don't know what to do next?"
"I said I knew how to get out of the room and into the courtyard, I didn't however suggest I could get any further."
"Have you lost your touch?"
"No, it's just your turn. What are you grinning at?"
"Look, up there," he pointed up at the parapet. "Someone knows his duty."
"Really, there must be something in the water."
"Shall we make our move while he's busy?"
"I think that would be prudent."
Suddenly they heard the sound of gunshot in the distance.
"What was that?" hissed Fleur.
"I think that was our signal to get moving."
"How are we going to get out the main gate with a skirmish in progress? We'll be caught in the crossfire."
"It's better than standing here only to get locked up again."
"Maybe the attackers will let us go?"
"With the way this mission has gone so far, I doubt it. Come on, this way. There's got to be a back door somewhere."
He took her by the hand and giving it a reassuring squeeze led her along the wall to the door on their right.
They both scrambled over the uneven ground, keeping their heads low, towards the little beach where they could see boats pulled up on the sand. Fleur had to keep hitching up her skirts so as not to trip over them and fall flat on her face. Finally arriving at their destination they ducked behind the rocks.
"There's no one guarding the boats…lets go," whispered Fleur.
"No," replied the Doctor, pulling her back down. "Not yet, we have to check that the coast is clear first."
"I'm not stupid."
"I know your not…its just I have a bad feeling about this."
"It's probably just the anomaly affecting you."
She stood up and strode across the beach to the boat, looking around. There was no one else around. She waved the Doctor over.
"It's safe! Come on, help me push the boat out."
With a shrug of his shoulders he joined her. They put both their weight against the prow of the boat.
"You there!" shouted a deep voice behind them. "Stop right now, and turn round."
The Doctor glanced behind and saw the soldier, dressed in his dark blue and red uniform, aiming a rifle at them. He obviously wasn't from the fort.
"Now, look here. We don't mean to cause any trouble," began the Doctor, holding his hands up. "We just want to go home."
"Fleur," he hissed. "Don't antagonise him."
"Its only one man."
"He has a gun."
"I know…but he only has one shot. There are two of us. We can make it."
Fleur moved nimbly but her heavy skirts dragged in the water slowing her down. A shot rang out. The Doctor spun round catching her in his arms as she sunk into the shallow saltwater. He lifted her up and she held her side.
"You stupid, stupid girl," he snapped.
"It hurts," gasped Fleur, pulling her hand away from the wound, it was covered in blood. "You were right."
"I'm sorry I was-," the soldier stammered, his voice trembling slightly.
"I just want to go home," pleaded Fleur.
The Doctor's face suddenly clouded over, a look of indignation on his face, he focused on the soldier.
"Look what you've done! I suggest you let us leave or do you want to cause more trouble?"
"I-I," the soldier seemed in a state of confusion.
"Please, she needs medical attention…or would you condemn an innocent woman?"
The Doctor lifted Fleur into the boat, without any resistance from the soldier, and pushed the boat into the water. Then jumping in and grabbing the oars began to row with all his strength towards the ship in the distance.
"Let me help you row," offered Fleur.
"No," snapped the Doctor. "You'll aggravate the wound."
"Let me take the tiller, then."
"The ship is moving away, they can't have seen us."
"I have an idea, excuse me, my lady."
The Doctor tore off a section of Fleur's red skirts and then tied it to the end of one of the oars.
"Ahoy there!" he yelled, waving the makeshift flag. "Ahoy there!"
Someone must have noticed them because a cutter set out towards them almost immediately, as in the distance the sound of hot shot being fired could be heard.