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Of the Essence (8/8)

Title: Of The Essence(aka The Temp, The Spaceman and the Flyboy)
Fandom: Doctor Who
Series: Doctor Who/TOC Files
Characters: Ten, Donna, OC
Word Count: 1547/14372
Rating: G (I believe)
Summary: The Doctor and Donna arrive on a ship taking refugees from a war zone and are naturally taken for stowaways. An old friend of the Doctor's then asks for their help to rescue members of his team on a hostile planet.
Notes: This story has been sitting on my computer for ages! I actually started it after seeing Donna's reaction to Jack in "Journey's End". It sat around unfinished until last year when my niece and nephew helped me past my block and worked on a plot on the way to a spring training game. It's un-beta'd so feel free to point out typos or any ohter errors you find. Disclaimer The Doctor, Donna and the TARDIS belong to the BBC. Alan Kelly is mine.




The Doctor let Donna pull him outside. Donna was right in that no one had died, but a shot had still been fired. As soon as he could, he wanted to get back and make sure Leiman was out of the dark.

The slave traders were now contained within the center of the compound, Alliance soldiers guarding them. It was exactly what had been done to the prisoners at Shadowbrook. Somewhat appropriate.

A slow applause began to build. The Doctor looked up and saw Alan step out of the building directly opposite. He acknowledged with nods and a few waves.

"Seems quite the celebrity, basking in the attention," commented Donna.

The Doctor could see that Alan was embarrassed by the whole ordeal and told Donna. "He feels he doesn't deserve the attention as he does what any officer would do. Yes, he probably takes more risks than necessary, but they work out in the end."

"So that's why you're friends! I was wondering."

"What?"

"I was wondering what would make you friends with a soldier."

The Doctor was affronted by such a generalization. "Just because they carry guns doesn't mean that is their first instinct."

"That isn't what you said when we met up with UNIT."

"Yes, well, it took me quite some time to train Lethbridge-Stewart. Alan takes what he does seriously, a true officer and a gentleman. That's not to say he doesn't play a few pranks when off-duty." The Doctor smiled. "I really should try to get them to sing for you. They have brilliant harmonies."

Alan and Ryan joined them at that moment. "I told you before, I'm not singing for you."

"That was before. You sure you won't?"

No, I won't, and neither will they."

Wheedling had never been one of the Doctor's best ploys. He never like the way he sounded—too much like a needy child.

"What? You guys are in a band? No way!"

"Not big on pop culture, are you?" remarked Shannon.

The Doctor failed to hide his laughter. That had been practically her whole life when they first met. He one-time fiancé Lance had even taunted her with it.

Donna took that as a personal insult. "What kind of question is that?"

"The Competition," Ryan answered her. "We were—are the Competition."

The Doctor watched Donna's face as she tried to place them. It was almost comical. "My mum used to play your recodrs."

"Sylvia? I can't imagine her listening to rock n' roll. I picture her more as a _ fan."

"According to her stories, she was very hip. Drove Granddad mad."

"Nothing's changed then."

"Oh, here. This is yours." Donna removed Alan's machine and handed it back to him.

Alan fastened it to his wrist. "Thanks. It felt weird, it not being there."

One of the soldiers came over and saluted Alan. "Everyone's been accounted for, sir. We'll start transporting them."

"Fine. Tell-"

"Gen. Durant, sir."

"Tell the general we'll join him shortly."

"Yes, sir." The soldier saluted and left.

"Why aren't you going with them?" asked Donna.

"They don't need is for anything. Besides, you guys need a lift back to the TARDIS."

"Brilliant! We need to make a stop along the way.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Alan walked with the Doctor to the small clinic where Leiman was recovering. He smile when he saw the man conscious and propped up in bed. "You look better than the last time I saw you."

"A little more vertical. With you back here, is it safe to say you got them?"

"Yes, we did. They're in Alliance custody as we speak. The Doctor was very persuasive."

"We wanted to check on you before we left," the Doctor said quickly.

"What of Shadowbrook?"

"Ryan, Shannon and Donna are helping organize everyone," answered the Doctor. "Earlier, Ryan went through to see what needed repair."

"He did?" Alan didn't realize Ryan knew anything about carpentry – he usually got someone else to do it.

"But what of our part in this? We held people against their will."

"You were forced into it for survival," Alan responded. "I won't say that ut will be completely dismissed, but your humane treatment will be taken into account. And the fact that you have a rich bellarium mine, I think that will outweigh the other."

"Speaking of which," the Doctor reached into one of his many pockets and pulled out the mineral sample. "You might want this."

Leiman took the sample reverently. "I remember seeing some when I was young, when the mine was still active. It was never like this."

"This," the Doctor said emphatically, "is high-grade stuff. Near pure."

"I can get you some trustworthy geologists and appraisers to come down and check out the mine to see what kind of deal you can work," said Alan.

"You will want to pounce on the first offer, but hold out until you get something truky beneficial," added the Doctor. "I think with Alan's name connected to this, you won't be cheated."

"I wouldn't say that."

"I know now who you really are," said Leiman. "Your name carries much weight and, knowing you are on our side would keep men honest." His eyes began to droop closed.

"We'll leave you to rest now," said the Doctor as they backed out of the room.

Outside, they walked along the pavement. "Time to head back to the TARDIS?" Alan asked.

"Everything seems to be well here. I normally don't stay for the clean-up."

"I know. You usually take off as soon as you can. You're getting soft in your old age," he teased.

"Oh, you take that back!"

"Can't". Alan kept walking.

"Why not?"

"Because you have gone soft. Now you're acting like a schoolboy tagging along. Where's the 'Oncoming Storm'? Yeah, okay, storms can't continue at the ssame strength or they'll die out, but you, Doctor, are a legend. You can't not be that." I can't believe I'm giving advice to him! "Yeah, people die around you, but think how many more would die if you weren't there. Try and give yourself a time-out, a holiday to recharge before facing the universe again."

The Doctor looked at him as if seriously contemplating doing just that. He then started to laugh and Alan couldn't help but join in.

"Where did all that come from?" questioned the Time Lord, wiping his eyes.

"It sounded good, didn't it?"

"Yeah, it did."

They met up with the others and told them that Leiman was doing much better.

"The Alliance is sending shuttles," Ryan told them.

"Aaron did ask if he was going to see you," Shannon added.

"I guess we have one more stop."

Ryan led the way back to the open fields—the only place with enough room for multiple shuttles—where the former prisoners were gathered. Alan saw Aaron break away from his mother's side and run straight towards him.

"You're back!" the boy shouted.

Alan did the most natural thing, scooping Aaron into his arms. "You didn't think I would be?"

"I did, but some of the others didn't." He looked at Alan with big, round eyes. "You were so brave."

"I knew that my friends would come get me." Alan carried Aaron back to his mother. "When you have people who would do anything for you, you don't need anything else."

"Well said," agreed the Doctor.

"Says the man with friends everywhere," said Ryan.

"You behave and listen to your mom, okay?"

"Yessir!" Aaron saluted.

Alan returned it as did Ryan and Shannon. The Doctor and Donna waved. They then heard the shuttles arriving and knew it was time to leave.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Donna found she didn't want to say goodbye to these people. They were smart, funny, brave, and, she added with a look at Alan, strong. They were, in fact, very much like the Doctor. They had a better sense of humor, though. The Doctor was edging closer to the TARDIS door so she knew a longer stay was out of the question.

"So, what now?" the Doctor asked them.

"We have to give our statements and then wait around for the trial," answered Ryan.

"After that, maybe I'll get a more active posting," commented Alan.

"I'm sure they realize that no matter where they station you, you'll make it active." Shannon smiled.

"I can certainly use that in my argument."

Donna saw that as another example of how Alan was like the Doctor. No matter how hard he tried not to be involved, he always got caught up in something.

"What about you?" Shannon asked the Doctor.

Donna caught the glance the Doctor and Alan shared. What's up with that?

"Oh, you know, same old, same old. There are quite a few places I have in mind to show Donna."

"You'd better watch out, Donna," warned Ryan.

Shannon gave her a farewell hug. "You watch out for him, too," she whispered in Donna's ear. "He gets those blinders on and can't see anything else."

"I will." Donna had the feeling that Shannon might have something for the Doctor. Why when she has someone like Alan around? Speaking of which… She grabbed the pilot in a tight embrace. God, he's gorgeous! She finally let go.

"I take it I'm forgiven for our first meeting?"

"Forgiven and forgotten."

The Doctor unlocked and opened the TARDIS door. "Can I offer you a lift?"

The three friends looked at each other. "I think we'll pass, thanks," said Ryan.

"You'd probably take us on a side trip to the Punic Wars," added Shannon. "No, thank you."

"We'll probably get sent there on a mission anyway," said Alan.

"Your choice." With a mock salute, the Doctor stepped inside.

"It was nice meeting you," Donna said from the doorway. "If you're ever in Chiswick, look me up—depending on the time, of course." She waved and stepped inside.

She joined the Doctor at the console. "So, back to the same old, same old?"

"Actually, I was thinking of Shan Shen. They have a street market as big as a city. You will love it." He walked around the console as he spoke, moving from one panel to another.

"If it means shopping, of course I'll love it."

"Good, 'cause that's where we're going!"

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