Author's Note: Set sometime between "Blink" and "Utopia."
To fight for the right without question or pause
Reese planted his foot in the man's chest and watched him go down like a shapeless sack of rags. "Finch, this guy's bodyguards are good. German ex-military, by their style. Have you found any German connections?"
"Not yet, but his records are a mess," Finch's voice said in his ear. "Obviously falsified, but they look like they were falsified by a blind magician playing pin-the-tail-on-the-world-map."
"What is that supposed to mean?"
"His name is Nobunori Vincenzo, his picture is of a blond man in his forties, and his birth records say he was born in the 1930s and that his mother was Iranian and his father Venezuelan."
"Now that's odd. False identities are supposed to hide you, not advertise. What is this man advertising?"
"Only that he doesn't exist," came a cheery voice behind him. Half a second later, Reese's gun was pointing at the forehead of the brown-haired, brown-suited, brown-coated young man with the British voice.
"Mr. Reese, what is that?"
"British guy," Reese said coolly.
"Oh, I'm not British. Gallifreyan. Now, that's odd. You're American. You should hear me as American, just as you would hear me in German if you were German. I never thought of that. After all, she has the capacity to recognize that there are different dialects of English, but she seems to prefer British."
Reese cocked his head slightly, examining. Despite the nonsense speech, he didn't think the man was tweaking. He had an open face as cheerful as his voice, a quirky and mischievous eyebrow, childlike high top sneakers…but his eyes. Reese knew those eyes. They were the eyes of a man who had killed. Who had killed again and again, who might kill again in the future, who hated himself more with every life ended behind him. They were the eyes that looked at him out of the mirror every morning. He lowered his gun.
"Thanks!" Behind the cheer there was a pinched look around the edges of his eyes. Reese knew he'd seen the same things he himself had. "Now, don't you think it's time to run?"
At the same time, Finch said in his ear, "You'd better get out of there, Mr. Reese."
"I don't have what I came for, Finch."
"Oh, don't worry! I have it." The stranger held up a flash drive.
The large number of footsteps coming near told Reese that he'd better do as the man said and find out if he really had what Reese was after later. They ran. The strange British man was only marginally shorter than Reese and just as fast.
"I like running," he panted with a grin. "I do a lot of it, come to think about it. That's why I chose these shoes. No, that's not true. I chose the shoes before I knew I'd be doing a lot of running. But they do help."
"Talking doesn't help," Reese said shortly.
"Oh, talking always helps!"
Their way was blocked by a locked door. Reese pulled out his gun again. Occasionally shooting a lock was quicker than picking it. But the skinny British man pushed his hand aside.
No guns? "In case you haven't noticed, the people after us have guns."
"Oh, they always do. But I never carry a gun." He had a silver and blue instrument out and aimed at the doorknob, and it was making an odd, high-pitched noise. Reese thought he knew all of the latest breaking-and-entering devices, but he'd never seen one like this.
Finch evidently could hear it too. "Mr. Reese, what is that?"
"New technology," he answered.
"No, old. Sonic screwdriver. Opens anything. Well, except deadbolts. Well, except wood, too."
The door snapped open, and they were through. The brown man used his device to lock the door behind him.
"I should get Finch one of those. Then he'd be able to pick a lock in under ten minutes."
"My lock-picking skills are perfectly adequate, Mr. Reese. What did he say it was? The noise was causing interference."
"Sonic screwdriver," he grunted as they ran again.
Finch was silent for a moment. Reese could just see his spiky head tilting slightly as he considered the concept. "I have never heard of such a thing. Screwdriver—sonic. An elegant concept. You could turn far more than screws."
Now footsteps were coming from the opposite direction. Reese had his gun ready again. His companion gave him an exasperated look.
"Would you stop with the gun?"
"I did not invite you along on my operation." He cocked his head. "It's only one person. Female."
The man sprang around the corner before Reese could stop him. "Martha!"
"Doctor, this is the second time I've been to New York with you, the real New York, not some New-New-New York clone, and what am I doing again? Running from men with guns in a skyscraper. At least it's not the Empire State Building again."
Reese sighed and stepped quietly around the corner to investigate the new Brit. Young, dark, beautiful, and, to judge by her eyes, quick-witted. She grabbed her friend's arm.
"It's alright, Martha. He's my friend. I told you I was meeting a friend here. Here he is." His brilliant smile encompassed them all.
"I am not your friend. But now it looks like I'm stuck with protecting both of you until I can return you to your insane asylum."
Martha was giving him a frankly admiring look, but the man she called Doctor held out his hand.
"Did you get it?"
She held out a cell phone. "Yes, but I don't know why I was taking a picture of a blank wall."
"Later, Martha! Time to run!"
"Now who was that, Mr. Reese?" Finch asked. "You seem to be acquiring quite a number of people. I thought this was a covert operation."
"Friend of the doctor's," he said shortly.
"Doctor? Doctor What?"
"I don't know. She only said doctor. Name: Martha. Nationality: British. Heavily involved in whatever it is this doctor is doing, but definitely not a professional. They seem to have some experience with being chased.
"I'm researching sonic screwdrivers. It's a rare enough device that I should be able to track anyone who has one."
"That's a little frightening, Finch."
He could almost hear Finch's shrug, if the man had upper-body mobility enough to be able to shrug.
At a crossroads of dull white corridors, there was a decided difference of opinion.
"This is the only way out!" Reese insisted, pointing to the left.
"I have a much better way out this way!" the British doctor insisted, pointing to the right.
In the end, Reese had to go with them, because it was that or leave them to their fates at the hands of the old-young, blond, Japanese-Italian-Iranian-Venezuelan whose number had come up. Their numbers hadn't come up, because they were British and didn't have them. Which begged the question, how many faceless tourists, illegal immigrants, and foreign political or religious visitors died daily because the Machine didn't track people without Social Security numbers?
When he gave in and went with them, he saw them give each other grins that looked oddly relieved and saw the doctor's shoulders relax a little. "What is it? What do you know that I don't?"
The young British man turned and gave him a look as gently serious as his grins had been bright and flippant. He looked old, suddenly, not ten or fifteen years younger than Reese. "It was an ambush. You were to be killed. We came to save your life. It wasn't your time yet."
Reese stopped in his tracks. What were they, the British counterparts to him and Finch? "How did you know?"
It couldn't be any more complicated than the Machine.
"Are you coming?" Martha called. She had stopped by an office door. The doctor hurried to catch up with her and apply his screwdriver to the lock.
"And how are you going to make your big escape from an office?" Reese asked sardonically.
"Perhaps they have watched the latest Batman movie, Mr. Reese."
"Are you telling me you watched the latest Batman movie, Mr. Finch?"
Finch did not answer. Reese grinned to himself.
The office door unlocked, and the doctor swung it open with a cheery, "Allons'y!"
Reese's first thought upon entering the office, gun drawn, was that someone had a very odd sense of style, which was not usually his first thought upon entering a new environment. But no one could help but wonder what kind of a person would nearly fill his office with what looked like a blue shed.
Martha walked straight up to it. "This is our big escape."
He read the words at the top. "Police Box? What is it—a phone booth?"
"Phone booth," the British man repeated. "You Americans wouldn't call it a box, would you?"
Reese raised an eyebrow. "No…"
Martha had opened the door and stepped in. Warm light came from inside. Something was odd here. He went toward the door, cocking his gun.
"Don't you dare shoot her."
"I have no intention of shooting your friend."
"I didn't mean Martha."
"You keep other young ladies in there?"
"No. They always leave," the young man said softly.
Reese gave him a look and went toward the door. He pushed it open and stepped inside, gun first, and then stopped cold. That…was not possible.