A/N: If a few bits of the dialogue sound familiar, they should-- I'm sort of quoting a bit from "Robot," the 4th Doctor's first episode (an homage, if you will), and later on, there's a small quote from Alice in Wonderland
that I thought would be fun. There is a bit of shuffling between POVs; I hope I don't lose anyone!
Steed was no stranger to following people. This couple wasn't doing anything remotely suspicious, though. After seeing them come out of that police box, he'd assumed it was a cover for something, but these two appeared to be out to just have fun. They did take an extraordinary amount of joy in walking down a regular street, but that was about it for strange behavior. The girl kept pointing to shop window displays and giggling, while the man seemed to be acting a bit like a tour guide, pointing out things with grand gestures. It looked like a simple case of young love. Still, old-style police boxes didn't appear outside his flat for no reason.
He waited on a bench as they ducked into a souvenir shop. The man probably wanted to get the girl a little British soldier doll or something, Steed thought. They came out empty-handed, however, and Steed continued to trail them. The two were whispering more, but it didn't look like they were being that serious; in fact, they appeared to be highly amused with themselves. They crossed a street, and suddenly, the girl broke off from the man and turned down the street, while the man kept going forward. Steed was surprised; they hadn't looked like they were saying goodbye or planning to part, yet neither of them took that much notice of the fact that they were now heading in different directions. Strange and interesting
, thought Steed. He couldn't stay with them both, so Steed opted to follow the man.
Ten minutes and several turns later, Steed began to wonder if the man really was wandering aimlessly or if he was leading Steed on a wild goose chase. Suddenly, the man stopped and squinted at something, then rushed up to a grey-suited gentleman walking a few feet ahead of him. Steed hurried forward, getting close enough to hear the conversation.
"How are you? I haven't seen you in ages," said the man.
"I'm sorry, but do I know you?" the gentleman asked.
"Well, I'm positive I've changed a bit since we last met," said the man. "And isn't this embarrassing? Now I've gone and forgotten your name. Hannibal, was it?"
"Alexander the Great?"
"I've got it! Brigadier. Brigadier Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart."
"Why, yes. But who are you?"
"I'm afraid I haven't got any Jelly Babies for you this time, but you can't forget an eccentric chap like me, even without his sweets, can you?"
"Good lord. Doctor, is that you?"
"Got it in one, Brigadier!"
"You certainly have changed. Is Sarah Jane with you?"
"No, Sarah Jane and I parted ways awhile back, although I just saw her in 40 years..."
The conversation got quieter, and Steed couldn't make out what the two men were saying. But what a strange conversation! Steed couldn't work out if it was in code or if the two men just knew each other that well. And if they did know each other so well, why hadn't the Brigadier recognized the Doctor? Why did he just call him Doctor, with no other name? And who recognized someone based on a mention of Jelly Babies? The questions swam in Steed's head, and he felt almost overwhelmed. The strangest part was that last bit he'd heard the Doctor say-- he'd seen someone named Sarah in 40 years. He was speaking in past tense about the future. Curiouser and curiouser
, thought Steed, as he watched the two men walk into an office building.
"I'm glad I ran into you, Brigadier. I'm being followed around, and I'm like to know why," said the Doctor.
"You're sure?" asked the Brigadier, as they mounted the steps on an office building.
"Have a discreet look around. You'll see a chap in a bowler, holding a brolly. He followed me and Rose all the way from Stable Mews. I sent Rose off to see if we could throw him off, and he kept with me."
"I've got to say, I feel like I've seen him somewhere before," said the Brig. "We can check the files in my office to see if he's been flagged by U.N.I.T. Is Rose your traveling companion now?"
"Well, more than that really, but she's brilliant to have along," said the Doctor. "Let's forward march and all that to the files-- my curiosity's getting the best of me."
In a red telephone booth across the way from the office building, Steed was ringing Mrs. Peel.
"They've split up on me, so you might keep an eye out for the girl, Mrs. Peel," said Steed. "I stayed with that man for about half a mile or so, when he seemed to spot someone he knew. He ran up to the fellow, and here's the strangest bit. The man didn't recognize him, but as soon as he mentioned Jelly Babies, it was like they were old pals!"
"You know, the sweets. I did get some names I'd like you to check for me with the Department. He called the gentleman he met Brigadier Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart, and the Brigadier just called him 'Doctor'. The Brigadier also mentioned someone named Sarah Jane. You've got a head for research, Mrs. Peel; see if you can piece anything together."
"I should be able to find something. Lethbridge-Stewart, you said? It sounds awfully familiar-- perhaps I've seen it in the files before. Not a forgettable name, at any rate," said Mrs. Peel.
Comfortably settled in the Brigadier's office, the two men started sorting through the U.N.I.T. files.
"I'm positive now that I've seen him before-- I'm fairly sure he's one of ours, though. Can't think of why he'd be tailing you," said the Brigadier.
"Perhaps I've just got a magnetic personality? Although Rose would say it usually doesn't attract specific people, just trouble."
"Aha! I knew I'd seen him before," said the Brigadier. "You must have rattled someone
's feathers. Your tail is John Steed, one of the best agents the Department has."
"I haven't been here long enough to offend anyone. Well, yes I have, but I don't think I've done anything to deserve the top secret spy treatment," said the Doctor. "Tell you what. I'll go back to the TARDIS and bring Rose back here, and perhaps we can figure it out together. I sent her back at least 20 minutes ago. Don't want to keep a lady waiting. If that lovely chap comes in..."
"I won't tell him anything. You can trust me, Doctor," said the Brigadier. "But how are you going to get away without him seeing you?"
"Have a look around. This office of yours has got a lovely window. If I can ask Queen Victoria to leg it out a window, I can certainly do it myself," said the Doctor, sliding open the window. "See you in a flash!"