Title: Once in a Lifetime
Author: Aeron Lanart
Fandom: Doctor Who/Dresden Files (bookverse)
Characters/pairing: Harry Dresden, Fourth Doctor
Rating/Spoilers: G. No Spoilers. Takes place after Sarah Jane left the Doctor, but before Leela had joined him in the TARDIS and fairly early in in the DF series.
Summary: Harry takes on an unusual client
Disclaimer: BBC owns Doctor Who, Jim Butcher owns Harry Dresden and his universe.
No copyright infringement intended, no profit made.
Written for consci_fan_mo on LJ, using the prompt Doctor Who/Dresden Files (bookverse); The Doctor (4, 9, 10, or 11), Harry Dresden; I didn't make it explode! ;
Being the only wizard in the Chicago phone book can lead to some pretty odd calls; some of them are even genuine. Then there are the people who turn up at my office – I use the term people loosely as some of *them* aren't even human. I wasn't so sure about the guy who appeared in my office and immediately began explaining – or attempting to explain – why he needed the services of a wizard. He looked human enough, for a certain degree of insanity, all teeth and hair and intense eyes with his ridiculous scarf, velvet coat and floppy hat - though I have to admit I did like the hat and coat – but he made absolutely no sense whatsoever. Of course that might have had something to do with the fact that I could only catch one word in ten as he bounced around the office picking things up, putting them down and even *sniffing* one item while never seeming to pause for breath.
I sank into the chair behind my desk – carefully, as the legs were still a bit wobbly after an encounter with an angry fae – and pinched the bridge of my nose as I tried to keep up with the never ending flow of words; I was failing dismally in the attempt. Then he whirled to a stop right in front of my desk.
"I know!" He exclaimed; I was glad he did, I still had no idea. I found a paper bag waved before my nose. "Have a jelly baby." I peered into the bag with trepidation and carefully extricated a piece of candy. I had no intention of eating it, I just didn't want to offend the guy and I thanked my lucky stars for the lessons my dad had given me in good, old fashioned stage magic that enabled me to palm the 'jelly baby' without being too obvious about it.
"Thanks, Mr uhh…" I realised I hadn't caught his name in the torrent of words.
"Doctor. Just 'Doctor'?" I enquired politely, the guy in question nodded enthusiastically. "So, Doctor, what can I do for you?" I raised a hand to interrupt another outpouring of words, "A summary, if you don't mind."
"A summary? Why on earth didn't you say! I thought you would want to know everything in detail and one has to ensure that if you're going into detail that a person is able to see the whole picture. Why, I…"
"The summary? Please?" I was pleased I managed to stall him but I wasn't so pleased that I sounded decidedly helpless.
"Ah yes. Summary. Well, Harry Dresden, it all boils down to the fact that I need you to find something for me."
"Then you've come to the right place; Finding is a speciality." I tapped the copy of the advert that was stuck to my desk with a smile. The Finding of lost items was my main source of income.
"Oh good, I've tried myself and all I've been able to do is narrow it down to roughly here and now."
Roughly here and now? That didn't sound good.
"What happened?" I asked, the Doctor grinned.
"It fell though time you see, and as the old girl wasn't looking in the right direction we didn't notice exactly where it landed."
Fell through time. Riiight.
"I'll do my best, Doctor, but I do have to inform you that I require half payment of my fee before I conduct any investigation." It had been Bob's idea, and one that had actually meant that money was coming in more steadily for a change; Mister had been very pleased about the regular income too – he ate the cheaper food, but it didn't mean he *liked* it.
The Doctor waved a hand nonchalantly.
"Oh that isn't a problem." He dug around in what appeared to be cavernous pockets and slapped a large handful of bills on the desk; I managed to suppress my gasp of surprise – there was way more than even my final fee sitting in front of me. "Will that be sufficient?" He asked. "I can always obtain more, if required."
"No, that will cover it," I said. I think I must have sounded like I was being strangled as the Doctor leaned over with his hands on the desk and peered into my face.
"Are you sure you're all right?"
"I… I'm fine. Thanks."
"Good. When can you start?"
"How about now?" I said weakly. Look, if someone puts that amount of cash on my desk and asks me to do a job my instinct is to get it out of the way as quickly as possible, just in case it isn't entirely legal.
What I hadn't realised when I accepted the job was that it would involve ludicrous amounts of running. Luckily, I'm good at running; I have the legs for it and I've had lots of practice. The Doctor didn't seem to be too bad at running either, no doubt he'd had plenty of practice too. I've no idea what half the things we were running from actually *were* but as the Doctor didn't seem to want to stick around to find out I decided that I would do the same; at least no-one had shot at or set demons on me for a change.
Eventually, after lots of running with a side order of hiding, I managed to pinpoint the location of the whatever-it-was that the Doctor couldn't find in Undertown. He didn't seem to be too fazed by the place and it was at that point that I decided he was definitely not English, despite his accent and probably not human either. Not that I was too bothered about the human bit, the money was genuine and he hadn't grown horns or a tail at any point in our search.
"It's behind that door," I said; the finding spell was most insistent about that. It wasn't a particularly imposing door, but it was metal and it was locked. On a good day I can manage locks with a degree of subtlety; on a bad day they, and the whole darn door they're attached to, tend to go boom. What can I say? I still have issues with fine control sometimes; all the time, if Bob is to be believed. I stretched out one hand toward the door, the other I kept in the pocket of my duster but I most certainly wasn't crossing my fingers and hoping for subtle.
Just a little too late I noticed the device in the Doctor's hand – if he'd been a wizard I would have said it was a blasting rod – and right at the moment I began to release my power he pointed it at the lock and pressed a button.
It made a very unthreatening buzzing noise, right up until the moment it disintegrated into a shower of sparks in his hand. Obviously an electronic device, then – magic and technology don't mix too well.
On the plus side, the door had opened; on the down side, it was in more than one piece.
The doctor looked at the mess of his device, then at me, then at the door.
"Hmm," he said. "I see."
"I didn't mean to make it explode!"
"No, no, it's quite all right." He stuffed the now dead device into one of the pockets of his coat. "It's fascinating to see the interference of non terrestrial electro-magnetic energy with the electopyrophilicpseudothaumaturgenic effects of a terrestrially generated psychic energy field first hand." I think I gaped at him.
"Oh," I said to his back as I followed him through the remnants of the door – someone in Undertown was not going to be happy. He stood there beaming at a fairly small, innocuous looking round plastic device sitting in the middle of the floor.
"There you are!" He bent to pick it up, it didn't look like much and I wondered why we had gone to all the trouble of being chased halfway around Chicago to find it.
"Doctor, just what *is* that thing?"
"It's a yoyo," he replied brightly.
"Precisely. And an essential piece of navigational computing equipment."
"Navigational computing of what?"
"My TARDIS, of course."
"Oh, of course." Definitely not human. Next he'd tell me that his TARDIS was some sort of spaceship that travelled through time and offer me a ride. I decided not to stick around and find out. "Well, I'm glad you have your yoyo back, now if you don't mind, I need to get out of here before someone catches me and reports me to the authorities." I didn't mention *which* authorities as the normal and legal ones weren't those I was most worried about being reported to for some reason. "Can you find your way back?" I asked, a little more solicitously; wouldn't do any good for a well-paying client to lose himself after all.
"I'll be fine now." He took the hat off his head and peered inside it, Merlin only knows what he saw in there, but he gave me a huge smile. "Yes, absolutely fine indeed." He put the hat back on his head, still smiling at me. "Though there is one more thing, Harry Dresden."
"Yes?" I asked cautiously. He dug into his pocket and drew out another handful of bills.
"The other half of your fee, I believe. If anyone I know is ever in need of a practitioner of terrestrial magic I shall be sure to recommend you."
"Er, thanks," I said. I wasn't entirely sure I wanted to be recommended to any friends of the Doctor.
"Must dash, good bye! Oh and what is it you Americans say? Ah yes… have a nice day!"
Without any prompting from me, the Doctor headed unerringly for the nearest exit from Undertown – and not the same one by which we'd entered either – and waved as he disappeared up a ladder, the ends of his scarf the last thing I saw. I glanced down at the money in my hands and shook my head with what was probably a somewhat dazed smile on my face. I've had some strange jobs, but never one that involved someone like the Doctor before and as I shoved the money out of the way in an inside pocket of my duster I wondered if I ever would again.