Parker said at the very beginning that the school sounded fishy.
More specifically, when Mr. and Mrs. Sanders'd been sitting in Nate's apartment-cum-headquarters, crying their eyes out about their dead son and the school that had covered it up, Parker had announced very loudly that the school sounded fishy. Then she'd sniffed the air, to illustrate that even though she was talking about the school sounding fishy, true fishiness was meant to be smelled.
Nate had just kind of looked at Hardison, who had smiled an easy smile, and smoothed over her mistake with the Sanders' before gently escorting her out of the room lest she inflict any more trauma on the couple.
This wasn't their typical case in a number of ways, the primary one being that the school wasn't a multibazillion-dollar company and the secondary one being that the couple didn't want compensation, they wanted very public justice (vengeance).
"Perhaps this case might be better suited for a civil lawsuit, some sort of public awareness campaign or grassroots effort, Nate? Something a bit more legal?" Sophie had suggested after Mr. and Mrs. Sanders had left. "They're both law-abiding citizens, Nate, and their case is solid. They could be making quite a legitimate case for themselves in court."
"They're bankrupted by hospital bills; they can't afford to sue the school," Nate replied tersely. "Even if they did, it's too easy for the school to declare bankruptcy and dissolve, and the people in charge still won't be punished. It's my decision, we're taking the case, end of story."
That was what he said. What he meant, and what everyone heard, was this: Their son died like my son did, and I will fight for them until they get their vengeance because they remind me of me. Nate was always a little funny when the case involved children.
The case began something like this: Mr. and Mrs. Sanders had been elated when their son was admitted to the best private school in the county, but then their son had gotten sick and nobody could figure out why. Somewhere in there was a connection to the school, who covered it up by destroying half the evidence and half the boy's records, which meant that insurance ended up refusing to pay because of some other convoluted reason Parker didn't quite understand. What everything boiled down to was this: They needed to infiltrate the school and shut it down.
You would think, given all this evidence, it would obvious that the school were fishy. After all, the school had somehow gotten the boys sick? The school covered it up? It seemed so obvious to Parker.
Not the case with everyone else. In fact, everyone else assumed it was just the Superintendent covering the ass.
To add insult to injury, Nate somehow thought it would be a good idea to send Parker to infiltrate the fishy (creepy) school as a cafeteria lady. Parker hadn't liked school when she'd been a student. She didn't see herself liking it any better as cafeteria lady. Parker was not a happy camper.
And then she showed up for her first day and was handed a hairnet and an apron, and that was why she made a mental note to steal all Nate's socks.
She spent an inordinately long time figuring out how to put on the hairnet, and when she finally turned around to find her station, who did she find sneaking around, but …
"It's you!" she said, surprised. "What are you doing here?"
"I'm sorry, do I know you?" the other woman asked, slightly perplexed and getting that deer-in-the-headlights expression of someone who knew she wasn't supposed to be there. Parker looked her up and down again – that bright red hair, the loud voice, the unmistakable nose …
"You're Donna! I- mmph, mmph." It was a marker of how good a friend Parker considered Donna that she let the older woman cover her mouth and drag her into a nearby closet (though seriously, how was this not highly suspicious behavior?) where normally there would have been fork-stabbing five minutes ago.
"Parker? Parker? What's going on?" she heard Nate through the earpiece. Safe in the closet (with no security cameras), she turned the earpiece off. It was none of Nate's business if she wanted to have a quiet reunion with an old friend, and it served him right for making her wearing this hairnet.
As soon as the door shut behind them and they had their privacy, Donna let go and demanded, "Who are you and how do you know me?"
"I'm Parker," Parker said. "We met last year, in a high-security vault near the coast of Cyprus. You were with the funny man."
"I've never been to Cyprus," Donna said blankly.
"Then we must not have met yet," Parker said reasonably. "Then-you had met me though then-me hadn't."
"And what is it that we were doing in Cyprus?"
"Oh, I really don't think I should say," Parker said rather mysteriously. "What you were doing wasn't exactly legal, and what I was doing was very illegal."
"Seeing as I eventually know who you are but as of yet do not, perhaps introductions are in order," Donna suggested, trying to get her bearings. You'd think that being a Companion to a Timelord meant she'd done this so many times she knew the protocol. But no, she had never yet met someone that she hadn't yet met but would meet but who had indeed met her only a different her whether because she was in the future or had been or would be in the future and they had in the past been in … oh bother.
"Hello, I'm Parker," Parker said, sticking her hand out. Sophie had told her it was very important to make a good first impression with a good handshake, and even though it wasn't her first impression, it was Donna's first impression.
"Hello," Donna said, shaking her hand. "And what exactly are you doing here?"
"Well, the school is very fishy so I'm investigating. Is that what you're doing?" Parker asked. "Are you here with the funny Doctor man?"
"Yes, though I've rather lost him," Donna admitted. "He told me to stay put at the entrance, but there was no way I was about to do that, was there?"
"Is it aliens, then? You only got involved when there's aliens, don't you?"
"The Doctor thinks the Superintendent is some sort of alien conducting experiments on the children, sort of like how our scientists test lab rats before they do humans, see. Only some of the experiments are-"
"-killing the children!" Parker finished. "And if it's a lab, that means the whole school is on it, doesn't it?"
"Well the teachers and the administrative staff for certain," Donna said. "They've been taken over by the aliens. We're not sure about everyone else."
"That's terrible," Parker said. "I knew teachers were evil." She flipped on her comms and winced a little at the feedback.
"-and see what Parker is up to and why I can't get in touch with her!" Nate's voice grumbled.
"Sorry Nate," she said not at all apologetically, "but I have to go catch some aliens. I'll meet up with you after."
"Do you think she's high?"
"Maybe they're keeping toxic chemicals in the cafeteria? That could explain some of the students' odd behavior."
"Are you listening to me?"
"Parker, has there been anything funky-smelling in the cafeteria?"
"Hey, wait -- I think I see someone breaking into the storage room!"
"The teachers have been taken over by aliens!"
"Maybe someone should get Parker and make sure she's out of the way. It sounds like they've drugged her."
Parker sighed, and removed the earpiece. "Oh well," she said. "I'll catch up with them later."
"Well then," Donna said brightly, "it'll be just up to us, right?"
"Who's this, then?" The Doctor frowned in consternation.
"Hi," Parker said cheerily. "Nice to meet you again."
"What are you doing here?" The Doctor wanted to know, frowning some more at Donna. "Since when are we picking up strays?"
"Oh don't be such a stick in the mud," Parker rolled her eyes. "You're always so fussy."
"I'm- I'm not fussy," The Doctor protested. "Donna, tell her I'm not fussy."
"You're a bit fussy sometimes," Donna said. "Anyways, Parker has valuable skills to offer."
"I just don't approve of Companion attaching themselves without my say-so," The Doctor said firmly. "That's all. Now, can I have my sonic screwdriver back?"
Parker sighed, and handed it back. She was little impressed the Doctor'd noticed she'd pickpocketed it (most people never noticed), but she wouldn't let a little thing like that keep her from getting her hands on such a useful tool.
"I don't know how valuable she could be," The Doctor said grumpily.
"He apologizes and will never again doubt the value of the skills you bring to the table," Donna said firmly. "Right, Doctor?"
The Doctor looked to apologetic as possible while bound and gagged.
"I still don't know that we have to let him out," Parker grumbled as she proceeded to pick the lock. "We could deal with the Principal just fine between the two of us."
"Ah," The Doctor smiled as soon as he shed the chains Parker had so obligingly undone, "but you'd not have my sparkling wit and my sonic-" He paused, then frowned. "Parker …"
Parker sighed, and returned his sonic screwdriver to him.
"Now, we're off to save the world. Allons-y!"
Somehow Parker always ended up being the one to crawl through tiny spaces, something she found very frustrating because it often meant she was doing all the work. She froze at a rustle, hearing voices coming down the hallway.
"-where she could have gone," Eliot's voice was saying. He paused, probably listening to Nate prate on in the earpiece. "There's something fishy about this place."
"That's what I said," Parker hissed to herself out loud.
At the same time, Parker could hear the unctuous voice of the Principal coming down the other hallway. "-find that Doctor and his companions, now!"
Parker inched herself forward until she was situated atop a grate directly over the intersection of the two hallways, which meant she had a birds' eye view of Eliot coming face-to-face with the Principal-Who-Was-Actually-An-Alien.
"Who are you?" the Principal asked. "What are you doing here?"
"Just doing a routine checkup of the pipe fittings, sir," Eliot gestured, "making sure there's no substances such as would harm the students. District-wide policy."
"Who let you back here?"
"Door wasn't locked, sir," Eliot said. "I assumed you'd all gotten the memo."
"The door's never unlocked," the Principal scowled. "You're an intruder. Guards!" But before he could call out again, Eliot knocked him out with one strategic hit to the head.
"You're fishy too," Eliot told the unconscious body, before he redirected his attention to his earpiece and took the right fork of the hallway.
Parker, meanwhile, was inching onwards, wondering how best to break it to the funny Doctor that half his plan was no longer necessary.
"-and I declare that according to Edict 3644219, your actions are-"
"Parker?" Parker was momentarily distracted from the very angry Doctor and his somewhat anticlimactic confrontation with the evil alien Principal as she turned and saw none other than Eliot and Hardison.
"Hi guys," Parker chirped as Eliot and Hardison took in what was going on in the room and exchanged looks.
("-dangerment of life and utter disregard for the proper timeline will certainly-" the Doctor droned in the background.)
"Where were you, Parker? And what are you doing?" Hardison asked. "Where's your earbud?"
"I broke it," Parker reported, pulling out of her pocket the earbud that the Doctor had tried to poke at with his sonic screwdriver, only to break it. "Well, actually, he did." She gestured at the Doctor, who was still explaining to the alien just which laws he had broken.
("-dow Proclamation will find you guilty of these crimes and more and will-" the Doctor continued.)
"Parker, do you know how worried we've been? You can't just run off like that."
"I wasn't running off – I told you guys that I was trying to catch the evil alien man," Parker explained patiently.
"Do you think she's still high?" Hardison asked Eliot.
At the same time, Eliot was staring at the other people in the room. "Hang on, who's he?" he asked, indicating the Doctor.
Their conversation attracted the attention of both the Doctor and the Principal.
"Who are you lot, then?" the Doctor asked with a frown.
"You!" the Principal pointed at Eliot in recognition.
"Are you … David Tennant?" Hardison asked. "Oh my god, are you really David Tennant and Catherine Tate?"
"Well, shit," the Doctor scowled. "This'll be hard to explain."
Donna sighed, and said, "Why don't you let me explain?" Honestly, did she have to do everything around here?
"I can't believe I got David Tennant and Catherine Tate's autographs," Hardison practically bubbled, which was actually quite a disturbing sight.
"I still don't quite understand what just happened," Eliot said with narrowed eyes.
"I can't believe he made me give the screwdriver back!" Parker hmph'd.
"What I want to know," Hardison continued, "is how none of the Who blogs picked up on the fact that they would be in town—together! in costume!—to promote the next show."
"Yeah?" Eliot growled. "Well, I want to know how we're going to explain to Nate and Sophie that our mark got into the police's custody before we were through with him."
"Well, that's obvious, isn't it?" Parker asked cheerfully. "It was those fishy aliens!"