The debris rained down around her as she tried to protect her head from the larger chunks of rock. The ringing in her ears drowned out whatever noise was still raging from the gunfire behind her and she enjoyed the relative peace and quiet for several moments before her ears popped and the pinging of bullets nearby caused her to duck further behind the overturned jeep.
“Air support in 2 minutes” Shindi yelled as he returned fire to pin down the gunmen at the other end of the dock. “Carter, status?”
“Greyhound 1 is down” Carter shouted from inside the warehouse to their right. “I’ve called in a medivac”
“Damn” Shindi growled and ducked behind cover to reload his gun. “Jones, Douglas!” he shouted, the attackers had started firing at their position again.
Gaby Douglas slid into position behind him, ignoring the twinge of pain in her knee from the gravel she’d just crawled over. “Sir” she looked around to see where the rest of the troops were positioned. “Jones is pinned down on the jetty but he’s managing to keep them busy”
Shindi fired over the top of the jeep again before ducking down “Douglas we need to get Greyhound 2 out of here safely, she has the codes to access their servers” he glanced across at Osgood who still seemed to be in shock. “In 30 seconds the air support is going to keep our friends busy, get her through the warehouse and back to the Tower”
“Are we taking Greyhound 1, sir?” Douglas unhooked her body armour as she knelt closer to the Colonel, the noise from the gunfire nearby was making it difficult to hear his orders.
“No, Osgood is the top priority, we’ll take care of the boss” Shindi met the young woman’s eyes and saw her nod in agreement. “Get ready” he ordered and glanced at his watch.
Gaby gently touched Osgood’s arm to get her attention. “Osgood, you need to put this on” she helped the brunette to take her coat off and slide into the body armour. Taking her upper arms in her hands she held her close and made eye contact. “When I get to 3 we need to run to that warehouse over there” she nodded her head and watched Osgood blink twice. “You with me?” she could hear the incoming air support and took Osgood’s hand in hers. “One…...two……..three….go”
Osgood blindly followed instructions and found herself running as fast as she could towards a dilapidated warehouse with one door hanging only by its top hinge. Skidding to a halt inside she blinked to adjust to the sudden darkness as heavy rounds from the planes struck the ground nearby. Looking around she saw Carter leaning over someone on the floor and automatically moved towards him to help. “Josh?” she shouted, not sure if she was the only one who still had impaired hearing. As she got closer she recognised the blonde hair on the body and shook her head to get some clarity on what she was witnessing. “Kate!” she finally vocalised the name that had been screaming around inside her head.
Gaby grabbed her arm, wincing at the bruises she knew Osgood would have. “Osgood, we don’t have time” she pulled the young woman towards the back door where two soldiers were guarding their exit. “Kate will be fine” she shouted, hoping that she was right but worried because Carter had looked a little panicked as he pressed a field dressing to the woman’s side. “Move out” she pushed Osgood into the back of the jeep and jumped in beside her, slamming the door shut as the jeep sped towards the entrance to the docks.
“Let me go!” Osgood tried to wriggle out of the iron grip Gaby had on her arm. “Get this off of me and turn around, we need to get her to a hospital” she shouted at the driver but he ignored her in favour of driving around the smoldering cars and craters in the road. “Gaby, we need to go back” she turned to see the young woman who had finally let go of her arm.
“Yes Sir, understood,” Gaby said into her radio before turning to the frantic brunette. “The helicopter is landing now, they’re taking her straight to the hospital” she tried to instill as much reassurance into her voice as she could. “The air support cleared out the last pocket of gunmen and we need to get to the Tower, you need to get to their secure servers before they’re wiped clean”
Osgood stared at her as her panic started to calm. “There was a lot of blood” she blinked back tears, determined not to cry in front of the soldiers but certain that she didn’t have any control over her emotions. “What happened?”
Gaby pulled an inhaler from her trouser pocket “I rescued this from your jacket” she smiled and watched as her friend took a hit before gripping it in her hand. “From what I could see it looks like they used some kind of teleportation device to drop troops behind our defenses” Gaby coughed and shook her head as Osgood offered her the inhaler. “Just dust” she assured her and gripped the door handle as they took the corner at speed. “Greyhound 1 was their primary target and they moved towards her first, which is how the Colonel managed to get you clear”
“He should have saved Kate,” Osgood said quietly, not sure if it was the attack, seeing Kate so badly injured or the appalling driving that was causing her nausea and eventually decided it was probably a combination of all three.
“We’re transferring to another car,” Gaby said, quickly unclipping Osgood’s seatbelt for her and moving around the back of the jeep to hold her door open. “Can you walk OK?” she asked and carefully removed the body armour, handing it to one of the soldiers who was remaining with the jeep. “Thanks” she nodded to the driver who handed them both bottles of water before settling them more comfortably in the back seat of the car.
“How long till we get there?” Osgood asked as scenery sped past on the motorway as they headed towards London.
“About 15 minutes” Gaby responded before turning her head to the side slightly and listening to her earpiece. “They’ve arrived at A&E, I’ll get updates as and when they have them” she rested her hand on top of Osgood’s where it sat between them. “She’ll be fine, you know she’s a tough old thing”
“Hey” Osgood appreciated the younger woman’s attempts to reassure her. “She’s my tough old thing”
McGillop placed a mug of tea beside Osgood’s laptop, clearing his throat as an attempt at minimal disruption. “Anything you need?” he asked when she didn’t even lookup.
“I’m fine” Osgood mumbled, sipping the tea while her eyes scanned through the list of files on her screen. “I think we’ve got all of them” she sighed a few minutes later, finally finishing her tea.
“OK, we’ll shut down the servers and let the field teams know” McGillop headed back to his desk to send the emails he’d prepared earlier. When she still hadn’t moved several minutes later he sighed and walked back to her desk. “Do you want me to get you a car to the hospital?”
“Mmmm?” she blinked a couple of times and noticeably returned her attention to the room. “Sorry, no, I’m going to wait here until they’ve given us the all-clear”
“Maybe you should get changed?” he offered, gesturing vaguely to her muddy trousers and ripped shirt sleeve.
“Have you seen Osgood?” Gaby asked as she scanned around the almost empty lab.
McGillop looked up from a cupboard he was rummaging through “She went to get changed” he glanced at his watch and frowned “About half an hour ago”
“Alright, I’ll find her” Gaby headed towards the changing rooms, concerned at how worried McGillop had seemed. “Hey,” she said softly as she found Osgood sitting on the wooden bench, staring at the locker in front of her. “You OK?” she squatted in front of the brunette.
“Yeah, you?” Osgood sighed and lifted her glasses from the bench to clean them.
“According to Dr. Windsor I’m a brave soldier” Gaby grinned as she turned and sat down on the bench next to Osgood. “He dug half a quarry’s worth of gravel out of my knee” she pointed at the offending joint.
“How’s the shoulder?” Osgood put her glasses on and glanced down, realising she hadn’t finished buttoning her shirt.
“It’s good” Gaby leaned forward to try to get Osgood to make eye contact with her. “The Colonel asked me to take you to the hospital”
“I’m OK, I didn’t get hurt…” Osgood started before realising what the young soldier meant. “Oh, right, well I have some work I need to take care of here” she trailed off and licked her lips.
“Talk to me,” Gaby said quietly and watched as the scientist took a couple of wobbly breaths. She waited for several steadier breaths before guessing that the woman wasn’t going to say anything in reply. “Kate’s out of surgery, she’ll make a full recovery”
“I know,” Osgood said quietly, looking down at her hands as she nervously clenched them together.
“So why don’t you want to go to her?” Gaby decided to avoid dancing around the subject any longer. The brunette’s reaction had been bothering her since they had arrived back at the Tower.
“Her sons are with her, the Colonel said he’d called them” Osgood felt the tightness in her chest getting worse and took a hit from her inhaler.
“So why don’t you want to go to her?” Gaby repeated herself. “Did you break up?”
“No” Osgood shook her head slowly.
“Os, please, you’re my friend and you’re freaking me out right now” Gaby put her hand on top of the brunette’s fists. She gently tugged until the fists loosened and she was able to take both of them in her own. “I know it was frightening to see her lying in a pool of blood but you’ll feel better when you see that she’s recovering” Whatever reaction she was expecting it wasn’t the anger that suddenly appeared when Osgood finally lifted her gaze. “Woah” she sat back and dropped the hands she’d been holding.
“I’m fine and Kate will be fine, can we all just get on with our work?!” Osgood ground out through clenched teeth before striding out of the changing room.
“What the hell?” Gaby stared at the door for several seconds before deciding she needed to find out what was going on with her friend.
“Douglas” Shindi took a report from a young soldier and read if over before signing it. “I thought you were taking Osgood to the hospital”
“Colonel” she waited until the soldier moved away and glanced around to make sure she wouldn’t be overheard. “Something has happened”
“I know, I was there,” Shindi said dryly.
“No, I mean Osgood point blank refused to go to the hospital to see Kate….I mean Dr. Stewart” she winced at her mistake.
“Follow me” he ordered brusquely and strode towards his office. “Right, tell me what she said”
“She just said that she was fine and...Kate would be fine and she had work to do but she was really angry” Gaby had assumed an at-ease stance and relaxed as Shindi waved his hand. “Perhaps she’s got a concussion or something?”
Shindi shook his head, something other than the obvious had been bothering him since he’d accompanied Kate and Carter in the helicopter. “This doesn’t leave the office” he saw her slight nod of agreement. “When we were loading Kate into the helicopter she kept asking me to apologise to Osgood if she didn’t make it”
“How was it her fault she was shot, we were ambushed?” Gaby wondered aloud.
“I have no idea but I got the impression that Osgood wasn’t keen on the plan when we first agreed to the meeting with the smugglers” Shindi sat down behind his desk and ran his fingers through his slightly longer than regulation length hair. “There’s something going on between them but I don’t want to interfere in a domestic situation”
“No Sir” Gaby nodded her agreement. “Dr. Stewart will be alright?”
“She’s as tough as old boots” Shindi smiled. “Dr. Windsor liaised with the hospital and he thought she’d be kept in for a week”
“Permission to keep an eye on our stand-in Chief Scientist, Sir” Gaby decided that Osgood would eventually need someone to talk to.
“Fair enough but if this isn’t related to UNIT business you should leave them to sort it out themselves” Shindi waited for the salute and exit of the young soldier before stretching his neck and sighing. “What have you gotten yourself into this time Kate?” he sighed again before heading to the locker room to change into civilian clothes.
Two young men chatted as they sat on a bench near the entrance to the ward. The staff and visitors who walked past them assumed they were waiting for visiting hours to begin on the small ward beyond the locked doors. When Shindi came around the corner of the corridor he waited for the hand signal to show that they had seen him and he could approach. “Any problems?”
“All quiet sir” the blonde replied as his colleague continued to scroll on his phone as if bored by the interruption. “Perimeter checks confirm no suspicious activity and the snipers are deployed on adjacent roofs”
Shindi had recognised several of his men deployed throughout the hospital and was pleased that they’d managed to secure the ward with a minimum of disruption to the hospital. “Who’s with her now?” he glanced at his watch, surprised to see that it was still relatively early.
“Her sons, they arrived just after she came out of surgery” the darker haired soldier replied, without looking up from his phone. “Sensors are showing we’re clear of the atmospheric disruption we experienced just before the attack earlier”
Shindi waited for a nurse to walk past before leaning closer to the guards. “Good work, we’ve invoked safehouse protocol so we’ll need an escort for the boys once they leave”
“Sir” the blonde replied and lifted his phone as if it had just rung. Pretending to be on a call he walked off a little way, relaying Shindi’s instructions and getting a better view of the emergency exit at the end of the corridor.
“Code?” Shindi asked of the remaining guard and smiled as the door clicked open without him moving.
“Remote activation” the young man explained, changing screens on his phone to continue monitoring the sensor telemetry.
Shindi walked onto the small ward and towards the only room that was currently occupied. “Ma’am,” he said quietly from the door and saw Kate smile wearily at him.
“Come in Vikram, Gordy will give you his chair” she tried to shuffle up in her bed and blew out a breath as her body reminded her of her recent surgery.
“Sir” Gordy had realised that the grey-haired man was a soldier of some kind, presumably quite high ranking despite his designer jeans.
“Thank you, it’s been a long day” Shindi smiled at the young man before returning his attention to the exhausted-looking woman. “You look like hell,” he said softly.
“I’d bloody hope so” Kate huffed out a laugh. “I’d hate to look like Grace Kelly when I feel this bad” she moved her right hand before wincing as the cannula on the back of her hand shifted. “When can I get out of here?”
Shindi smiled at the predictable response, they both hated hospitals most especially when they were patients themselves. “I understand they do a very good turkey dinner for Christmas”
“Bugger off” Kate grumped, knowing that it was unlikely she’d still be in this uncomfortable bed in four months' time. “Was anyone else hurt?”
Shindi looked at the two young men who were watching the interplay with curiosity. “You were the only one who didn’t duck” he didn’t want to discuss her injury with her sons in the room.
“I thought you were supposed to make her duck?” Alex said into the quiet of the room.
“Alex” Kate reached out with her left hand. “It wasn’t anyone’s fault”
“It’s alright” Shindi raised a hand to quieten her instinctive response. “Your mother provided cover for us to get Osgood clear” he answered Kate’s youngest.
“You saved Osgood?” Alex looked towards his mother and saw her looking paler than she had since she’d come back from surgery. “Mum?” he started towards her but the soldier placed a hand on his arm.
“Osgood was key to shutting down the terrorist cell, we needed to protect that knowledge,” Kate said quietly, suddenly overcome with tiredness. “It’s what we’re trained to do, in those situations”
Shindi stood and moved to stand beside her bed, his hand resting on hers briefly. “It’s over, Osgood managed to salvage all of the information we needed before her team closed down the servers” he glanced over his shoulder at the two boys. “You won, now get some rest and I’ll look after the boys”
“Thank you” Kate looked into the grey eyes, grateful for his understanding. “I guess this means I need to apologise to her myself?” she quirked a ghost of a smile.
“She’ll calm down in a day or two, just get some sleep to be stronger for her to shout at you” Shindi smiled back at her. “I’ll wait outside to let you say goodnight then I’ll get you both home” he didn’t bother waiting for a reply, knowing that both children knew the drill in these situations from several years of experience.
“Blast it” Osgood slammed her pen down on top of her notepad and leaned back from the microscope.
“Osgood?” Gaby asked, surprised at the outburst after several quiet hours of completing her staff evaluations while sitting in the brunette’s lab.
“You’re still here?” Osgood asked in a sharp tone of voice. “Sorry, I was just surprised” she took her glasses from her pocket and cleaned them. “You don’t need to babysit me”
“I’m not” Gaby tried to reassure her. “The barracks are too noisy with the changeover of the teams and nobody will disturb me here after the minor pyrotechnics last week” she grinned in memory of the green smoke clouds caused by the introduction of two previously stable samples.
“We didn’t nearly blow up the Tower just to get you a quiet office,” Osgood said, smiling this time to take the sting out of her words.
“Wait, I thought it was just a tiny explosion?” Gaby looked worried now. “What do you mean you nearly blew up the Tower?”
“I didn’t nearly blow up anything” Osgood reminded her. “The materials scientists were lucky that they followed protocol and discovered the incendiary nature of the enzyme reaction on small samples first”. Osgood took a hit from her inhaler, still a little shaken by how close a call it had been last week. “So why are you wasting your time keeping an eye on me?”
“It’s standard protocol after an attack on one of the Greyhounds that they all get close protection until the threat is identified and neutralised” Gaby pointed out. “Honestly, I thought you’d tolerate me a little more than anyone else but I can hand over to someone else if you’d rather?”
“No, sorry, I didn’t mean that” Osgood blew out a breath. “I haven’t had this before when we’ve been threatened” she ran through recent examples in her head.
“You have but you wouldn’t have noticed because you were with Greyhound 1” Gaby trod carefully, still unsure about what had happened between them.
Osgood was about to answer when her phone rang and she paled when she read the name before answering “Alex, is everything alright?”
“The Colonel is taking us to a safe house overnight” he sounded a little annoyed. “Mum said you were there when it happened, are you OK?”
“I’m fine, just a bit wheezy from the dust” she swallowed reflexively “How was your mum?” she glanced over at Gaby who was making a very poor attempt to be interested in her papers rather than the call. “Let me put you on speaker, Gaby is a friend of your mum’s too” she waved Gaby over as she laid her phone on the desk.
“She looked a bit knackered but was trying to persuade the nurses to get her a laptop” Alex smiled at the memory. “The Colonel told her she could get a Readers Digest or Peoples Friend so she used some very unnecessary language and that wiped her out”. Gaby laughed at the image and decided to find her old Kindle for Kate to be at least able to read if not work. Alex drew in a deep breath “Os?” he asked softly “She seemed really worried about seeing you again, is everything alright?”
“Everything’s fine” Osgood faked her sincerest voice and almost had Gaby fooled. Presumably, the poor phone signal allowed her to completely convince Kate’s sons. “I just needed to be at work for a while and I knew she’d be in safe hands” her bottom lip trembled a little. “Can you or Gordon make sure you let Liz know that she doesn’t need to worry and that we can send someone to escort her if she wants to visit”
Gordon leaned closer to his brother’s phone which had also been switched to speaker function. “I already called her but she’s on holiday in the South of France with Mel” he glanced up at Alex and nodded. “We both told her that Mum was going to recover and it would be alright if she visited her once she’d been discharged”
Alex laughed “She remembers what a nightmare Mum is when she’s in hospital, I don’t envy those nurses once she comes out of the anaesthetic fully”
“They’re armed,” Shindi said dryly before turning in the passenger seat to make sure his voice was clear. “Douglas, report to the hospital tomorrow with Greyhound 2 to collect the bullet fragments for analysis”
Gaby stared at the phone in well-concealed shock, which was nothing like the complete shock shown on Osgood’s face. “Sir” was all she said and waited for anyone else to speak. “Greyhound 2 will be moving out of the Tower soon Sir, I should get ready to relocate”
“Carry on,” Shindi said and nodded at Alex to hang up the call. “Sorry about that,” he said quietly, still turned to see both young men. “The action this morning was a trap and it looked like the initial target was Kate, however, they’ll know that we were able to take them down afterward so they’ll know Kate’s not their biggest problem” Shindi hoped to give the boys some reassurance but they both looked even more worried.
“You’ll make sure Osgood ducks?” Alex asked solemnly.
“Why does he want us to collect the fragments?” Osgood groused as she gathered everything in her bag and shrugged into her coat. “They could bike them over to us right now”
“At a guess, he wants to make sure you’re in the same building” Gaby sighed, clearly the Colonel had decided that the plan to let them figure it out themselves was not going to work.
“I don’t need to be managed” Osgood was now annoyed “We don’t need to be managed”
“See, I knew you had things in common” Gaby held the door open for her grumpy companion and chose to ignore the mumbling under the breath that she could clearly hear. Thirty minutes later she turned the corner and slowed before parking the car on the driveway outside Osgood and Kate’s house. “Wait,” she said quietly as Osgood moved to open her door. Gaby listened to the reports from the perimeter in her earpiece before getting out herself and coming round to open Osgood’s door for her. “Day’s nearly over,” she said quietly as Osgood walked past her and opened the front door.
“You can’t sleep on the sofa” Osgood argued ten minutes later. “There’s a spare bed upstairs”
“I’ll be fine down here, I’ve slept in worse places” Gaby protested and then looked confused “I don’t mean this is bad, it looks very comfortable…” she trailed off.
“I’m too tired to argue” Osgood sighed and turned to walk upstairs. “Come and get some blankets and I’ll show you where the bathroom is” At the top of the stairs she handed over two pillows and a couple of blankets to the young woman before switching on the bathroom light “There should be a spare toothbrush in the cabinet and you can use whatever you need from the shower or bath”
Gaby swallowed nervously “I’ll wait downstairs till you’re ready for bed then grab a quick shower”
“No need to wait, I’ll use the en-suite” Osgood leaned against the wall beside the open bathroom door. “Do you want some tea or hot chocolate or….”
“Please, stop worrying about me” Gaby put the blankets down on the floor and slowly pulled the brunette into a gentle hug “I can’t imagine what’s going on inside your head but I’m here if you need to talk, ok?”
“I know” Osgood sniffled a little and returned the hug “Thanks, it’s just everything going wrong on the same day and I’m a bit lost” she wiped her hand under her eyes, catching the tears. “Best not tell Kate about this” she tried a watery smile.
Gaby took pity on her and huffed out a laugh as she gathered up the blankets “I’d rather not end this mission with broken arms, ma’am” she winked and was relieved to see Osgood laugh and push her shoulder. “I’m just downstairs if you need anything”
“Goodnight” Osgood watched the young woman descend the stairs before turning towards her bedroom. She managed to close the door behind her before the first sob broke from her. “Kate” she whispered as she headed for the bathroom and turned on the shower to mask her continued sobbing.
“Yes, Prime Minister” Kate closed her eyes as she listened to the voice talking at her. “Since the owners of the warehouse were the ones organising the illegal trade in weapons I hardly think they can complain about some minor property damage” she listened to a few more terse words before sighing as quietly as she could “No, Prime Minister” When the call was finally over she rested the handset against her forehead and lost herself in the dial tone she could hear.
“I haven’t seen a phone like that since the 80s” a quiet voice commented and she opened her eyes and dropped the handset onto the bed.
“Os” she watched the brunette carefully replace the handset and lift the rotary dial phone onto the bedside table. “I’m sorry” she blinked through tears and swallowed a couple of times.
“Later” Osgood poured her some water and handed her the glass. “Who was on the phone?” she waited for Kate to finish drinking before putting the glass down beside the phone and sitting beside the bed.
“PM” Kate cleared her throat, she wasn’t sure the lump of emotion was going to go away any time soon so kept her responses as brief as she could.
“She’s an idiot” Osgood quirked a smile before taking a hit from her inhaler. “I spoke to the doctor and he said they’d be by later to take a look at the dressing” she pointed in the general direction of Kate’s abdomen. A brief flash of memory slammed into her, of seeing Kate lying on the warehouse floor with blood pooling around her and a panicked Josh pushing compression dressings against her side.
“Good” Kate took another shaky breath in before slowly moving her hand towards Osgood’s. “Gordy and Alex should be in the safe house”
“They’re fine, I spoke to them last night and Gordy told Liz that you’d be seeing visitors after she gets back from her holiday with Mel” Osgood pushed her glasses up her nose. “Gaby has been following me around like my shadow, she stayed over at the house last night”
“Did she?” Kate was surprised, she’d assumed that Osgood would stay at the Tower until this was resolved.
“Don’t worry, she was on the sofa” a smile tugged at the edge of Osgood’s mouth as she saw the comprehension on the blonde’s face. “I’m sorry for teasing”
“I deserve that and a lot worse” Kate blew out a breath and almost managed not to wince at the end. “I’m glad she’s looking after you, she’s very good”
“I’d rather have you at home” Osgood glanced away, looking around the room which deliberately didn’t have any windows. “I’m sorry I didn’t come to see you last night” she finally caught Kate’s gaze before staring down at her own hands.
“It’s alright, I understand you had work to do” Kate slid her hand a little closer and was relieved when Osgood didn’t move away. “And I’d rather have been with you at home too, bullet wounds aside”
Osgood gulped and took a shaky breath before reaching forward to clasp their hands together “We need to talk about what happened, I can’t go through this again when we’re fighting each other as well as the bad guys”
“We will, I promise” Kate reached to pull her closer and immediately felt woozy from the pain shooting through her abdomen. “Shit, sorry” she managed through clenched teeth as she fell back onto the pillows.
“Do you want me to get a doctor?” Osgood waited for Kate to get her breathing back to normal before moving to sit on the bed. “Maybe you need more painkillers?” she stroked unruly hair from the blonde’s eyes.
“I’m alright, just need to stay still for a while” Kate managed a weak smile and lifted her own hand to hold Osgood’s against her cheek. “Though the painkillers would have helped during that ruddy call”
“I know you’re going to be home in a week so I’ll let you change the subject for now” Osgood stroked along her cheekbone, noticing the dark circles under Kate’s eyes that were caused by their argument rather than her injury. “If you’re well behaved until we get home I may even get Gaby to help you upstairs to our room”
“Cheeky bugger” Kate grumbled but was relieved to see Osgood’s shoulders a little less tense than they had been for the past week.
They were sitting in the same position with Osgood carefully running her fingers through Kate’s hair when Gaby gently tapped on the door frame. “Ma’am?” she asked, not able to see whether Kate was still awake.
“Ah, Douglas” Kate grumbled and lifted her hand to stop Osgood’s motion. “Front and centre Sergeant”
“Ma’am” Douglas stepped into the room quickly and stood at attention at the foot of the bed. She’d noticed the relatively relaxed posture of them both and hoped that this meant a return to them behaving more normally.
“Kate” Osgood raised an eyebrow in warning before turning around and smiling at Gaby over her shoulder.
“I understand you have been providing close personal protection to Osgood?” Kate tried to glare but she had almost been lulled to sleep by Osgood’s actions earlier and it was a struggle.
“As per regulations, ma’am” Gaby worried that Kate had stressed the ‘close’ and ‘personal’ in her statement.
“Very good” Kate yawned and finally gave up the pretense. “Thank you for taking care of her, I trust you to keep her safe”
“Of course ma’am” Gaby risked a glance at Osgood and was relieved to see her looking amused. “I retrieved the samples, we can return to the Tower whenever you’re ready”
“Thanks, give me ten minutes?” Osgood asked and tutted when Gaby didn’t move. “Kate?”
“Oh sorry, dismissed” Kate yawned again. “Gaby?” she managed to get her name out before the young woman exited the room. When she had turned around Kate waved her closer to the side of the bed. “I spoke to Vikram this morning” she waited for the understanding to show in the soldier’s face. “I know what you did and it’s not much but my stash of really good chocolate is in the second drawer down in my desk at home,” she paused as her pain levels spiked a little before waning. “Get Osgood to make you her lasagne, it’s superb” she managed before exhaustion rolled over her and she heard Osgood shoo the soldier out of the room. “Os, I love you” she whispered and fell asleep with fingers gently scratching through her hair once more.
“I don’t care how many people have to sign off on it, I want wiretaps on all of these numbers” Vikram walked out of the office and stalked back towards his own. He had never wanted to step into Kate’s shoes, he doubted he’d suit bright red heels, but the frustrations of the past few days of bureaucracy had him craving an hour at the shooting range. “Carter!” he shouted towards the group of soldiers who were at the other end of the corridor and waited for the Captain to jog up to him. “Double the guard at the hospital” he took a breath to shout when Carter inevitably questioned his order and was surprised when he heard a quiet “Sir” before the young man ran off. “Finally” he sighed and enjoyed the brief success of getting Carter to just do what he was told.
“Colonel?” he looked up from paperwork several minutes later to see Osgood standing nervously in the corridor. “I think we’ve found something interesting” she pointed over her shoulder, back towards her lab and waited for him to stand before leading him to her own office.
“Any chance of a coffee from your supply?” he asked wearily as she sat at a small round table that was covered in paper.
“Sure” Osgood looked surprised, it had been a long time since she’d seen the Colonel so tired and she’d heard some of the soldiers mention his short temper. “Everything OK?” she placed a mug of black coffee in front of him.
“I don’t know how she does it, put up with all of the bureaucracy and pen pushers” he sighed and sipped the coffee.
“She speaks their language and they recognise an alpha when they see one” Osgood smiled at his look of mock outrage “Sorry, but you know what I mean?”
“I suppose so” Vikram shrugged “I still say she has the patience of a saint”
“And a huge bill for hair dye to cover the grey” Osgood leaned towards him to whisper before blushing. “And I’ll deny it if you ever say anything”
He hid his smile in response behind his mug and imagined he felt the caffeine seep into tired muscles. “Right, sorry, you had something to show me?” he asked after another blissful moment of peace.
“I’ve been studying the atmospheric disturbance we recorded just before the soldiers transported to the warehouse and I need to check something with you” she shuffled through several sheets of paper before finding a map overlaid with several intersecting circles. “The difficulty with the transport was that it was very precise, it hit us where we were most vulnerable” she pushed her glasses up her nose and glanced to see he was following. “When I saw the readings on the disturbance it looked like a high-powered laser but we didn’t face any weapons like that, just good old-fashioned bullets” she swallowed nervously.
“No ray guns, check” Vikram nodded and continued to sip his coffee.
“So I think the laser readings were actually a guidance system of some kind that let them target the transport beam” she sat back and waited for him to absorb the information.
“Like laser-guided missiles only using people?” he confirmed and sat forward in his chair, putting the mug down on the floor beside his foot. “They’d have needed line-of-sight to make that work” he blinked a couple of times before scanning the map and now understanding what the circles were showing.
“Yes, but I wasn’t sure how far away would be too far away” Osgood looked confused for a moment. “I mean I know the distance that lasers work across but if you were the soldier tasked with it, how close would you need to be to make it work?”
His index finger moved across the map for several seconds before he closed his eyes and visualised the terrain around the warehouse and dock. “Ideally you’d want to be elevated and have a clear line-of-sight” he opened his eyes to see the brunette holding out a pink highlighter pen “Thanks” he bent over the map again and started to highlight several areas. “We had all of the cranes and buildings on the dock covered and they probably weren’t on a boat” he mumbled under his breath, ticking off possibilities in his head.
Osgood sat back a little, relieved that her idea hadn’t been too far-fetched and that the Colonel clearly understood the operational requirements for this kind of attack. “It couldn’t have been there,” she said quietly, pointing to a hill several hundred metres away from the dock entrance. “There’s an electricity substation nearby that would have interfered with the signal”
“Quite right” he muttered and licked his index finger to rub out the pink mark on the laminated map. A minute later he recapped the pen and handed it back to her. “I think that’s all of the possible positions”
“I don’t know what’s involved on the ground, would you be able to find evidence this long after the mission?” she asked.
“We’ll have a damn good try” he stood, just remembering to lift his almost empty mug before he knocked it over. “Excellent work Osgood” he seemed less tired now that he had something to focus on. “How was the patient this morning?”
“She’s still in pain and sleeping more than awake but the doctors said that she’ll make a full recovery” Osgood sniffed once and carefully rolled up the map that he’d just marked. “Once this is sorted out I need to ask you what you told her about Gaby last night”
“Kate has a problem with Sergeant Douglas?” Vikram was surprised.
“No, quite the opposite” Osgood crossed her arms and kept eye contact with the suddenly blank-faced Colonel. “She’s given up the location of her secret stash of good chocolate, and given Gaby free rein AND offered up my home-made lasagne” she made it clear that these were not small incidentals. “And she made the offers after having a cryptic conversation with Gaby about what you’d told her last night”
“Don’t know what she’s talking about” Vikram subconsciously slipped back into ‘junior officer denying everything’ mode from his days at Sandhurst. “She must be on some fairly strong drugs”
“Uh-huh,” Osgood shook her head, acknowledging that she’d not get any further information from him today. “Let me know if you need someone from my team to accompany you to the sites you’ve marked”
“Either you sit in this chair or you spend another night in this bed” Osgood was done with the whining and posturing about who was in charge in Kate’s hospital room. Quite clearly she decided it was her and set about moving the discharge along. “I’ll sign the discharge papers and Ms. Lethbridge-Stewart will be wheeled out of here to the car waiting at the side entrance” she held her hand out for the clipboard and looked up just in time to see Gaby smothering a grin. “Sergeant Douglas, you can push the wheelchair, perhaps you can share a joke or two to amuse the passenger on her VERY SHORT journey”
Kate was about to interject when Osgood almost shouted at Douglas and she knew she wasn’t about to win an argument with Greyhound 2. “Yes ma’am” she carefully lowered herself into the chair and stared straight ahead.
Gaby knew that Osgood had caught her trying not to laugh at the petulance of Greyhound 1 trying to muscle her way around the hospital regulations. Sighing at her inability to remain poker-faced in their presence she firmly gripped the handles of the wheelchair and pushed off at Kate’s weary hand signal. They turned right out of the ward into a corridor populated only with armed guards. “Greyhound 1 on the move” she heard from one of her colleagues and concentrated on walking towards the side exit at the end of the corridor. She could see the black SUV with tinted windows waiting for them and trusted everyone on the escort team to be doing their job, letting her concentrate on getting Greyhounds 1 and 2 loaded into the car as quickly as possible. Several minutes later she was putting on her own seatbelt as the car moved away in a convoy of three vehicles. “Greyhounds 1 and 2 en route” she relayed via her radio.
“It won’t be long till you’re back in charge again” Osgood whispered and smiled at the tortured sigh from beside her. “You can have fun ordering Gordy and Alex around when we get home”
Kate lifted their joined hands and kissed Osgood’s knuckles “Sorry for back there” she let out a deep breath and leaned her head back on the headrest. “I just missed being at home or in the office”
“I know, we all know” Osgood smiled gently as her hand was squeezed. “Luckily for you I love you and I’m prepared to put up with you behaving like a toddler because it means you’re getting better”
“Hey” Kate protested quietly, struggling to stay awake as the car moved easily through the evening traffic.
“You can sleep if you want, Gaby will make sure we get home safely” Osgood watched as the blonde’s breathing evened out before she turned to meet Gaby’s eyes. “Sorry” she whispered and shrugged.
“It’s OK” Gaby winked at her and returned to face the road, listening to something the driver said before turning around briefly again “We’re taking a different route so should have you home in 20 minutes”
“Perfect” Osgood sighed and typed a quick message to Gordy’s mobile, glad that Kate had kept hold of her other hand even as she slept. She needed the connection after having to make do with several hospital visits per day before returning to their empty and quiet house. She was glad that Gaby had stayed with her but the twice daily visits to the hospital, accompanied by the occasional kisses and touches that she allowed Kate, had barely been enough to reassure her that the injuries were healing and she would survive relatively unscathed.
“Are they planning to surprise us when we get home?” Kate asked and rolled her head to squint at Osgood through one open eye.
“Sort of” Osgood admitted, she knew that people suddenly jumping out at any of them would be a very bad idea in their current alert status. “Just the family and I’m sure the boys will tease you a bit”
“If I can have a decent coffee I should be able to stay awake for a couple of hours” Kate nodded as if this was an agreed plan, avoiding looking at Osgood to see the inevitable shake of her head. “Did Liz get back from her holiday?”
“Mmmm her and Mel got home yesterday” Osgood was scrolling through emails, deleting what she could to avoid having an unmanageable inbox when she worked from home tomorrow. “Are you hungry?” she asked Kate, dropping her phone into her bag sitting at her feet.
“Not sure, bit travel sick right now but that’ll clear up once we stop” Kate closed her eyes and returned to dozing.
Osgood watched her sleep for several minutes, glad to see the frown lines disappearing as she relaxed. Glancing out of the window she tried to judge where they were but the route they were taking seemed to be going round in circles, literally at one point. She finally started recognising landmarks and when Gaby softly gave her the warning she lifted Kate’s hand and kissed it before running her fingers through the fringe of hair. “Honey, we’re nearly home, wake up for me”
Kate grumbled as she woke up, lifting her other hand to rub over her eyes and sitting up a bit more. “Os?” she asked, looking around.
“2 minutes out,” Osgood said and started to gather her bag.
Gordy was standing at the window, watching the world go by on the sleepy suburban street. “They’re here,” he said over his shoulder and his brother head back into the kitchen to put the kettle on. An SUV swept past the driveway entrance and idled in the middle of the road while the car following it pulled up near the front door. “Full escort” he mumbled under his breath as he caught sight of the following car blocking the road just before the driveway as well. He opened the door but knew better than to try to help the invalid into the house, partly because his mother would complain bitterly at being treated like an invalid and partly because the many armed escorts wouldn’t take kindly to any of them being exposed without proper cover.”You’re a sight for sore eyes” he held his arms open as Kate carefully negotiated the small step into the house.
“Hey, you,” Kate said into his shirt collar as he hugged her. “You alright?” she held him at arm’s length and looked him over.
“We’re all fine mum” Alex assured her, moving forward to give her a brief hug and kiss on her cheek. “Come in properly so that Osgood and the luggage can get in” he stepped aside to let Kate past him before attempting to take Osgood’s bag from her.
“Sir” Gaby nodded politely and took the bag from Osgood, tucking it under her arm and carrying two suitcases straight upstairs. “Usual perimeter security ma’am” she announced when she came back downstairs and found Kate leaning against the end of the bannister.
“Tiptop,” Kate cleared her throat, the emotion of the last few minutes was building in her chest. “You should take some time off, I’m sure you need a break now that I’m back in secure premises” Kate held out her hand.
“The Colonel threatened to put me on Beefeater duty if I didn’t take some days off ma’am” Gaby smiled and shook Kate’s hand firmly. “I told him that the leggings wouldn’t suit me and that I’d be back at work after a long weekend”
“Excellent” Kate felt herself wobble a little and knew she needed to sit down soon. Grateful that Gaby kept a hold of her hand until she felt the unsteadiness pass she didn’t object to being guided towards an armchair. “Get off with you, thank you for all you’ve done this week”
Osgood knew that Kate was fading fast and squeezed her shoulder as she walked past to see Gaby out. “Let me know how you get on with the date” she leaned in to keep the conversation between them and winked at the young woman who blushed just a little.
Liz sipped her coffee and watched Kate as she carefully moved a cushion to make herself more comfortable. “You think you’d be better at the recovery after being shot for the third time” she suggested having made sure that everyone else was in the kitchen sorting out some food.
“I think you’ll find I was much grumpier the first time” Kate grumped.
“Maybe, and you are ten years older so…..” Liz trailed off at the famous Lethbridge-Stewart glare.
“Wow,” Mel said as she settled down beside Liz. “I see what you mean, that would frighten Martians from the planet”
“You’re all hilarious” Kate replied drily and breathed slowly. “Thanks,” she said as Osgood handed her a glass of water and some painkillers. “This isn’t gin!” she mock protested.
“And this is decaf” Alex explained apologetically as he placed her coffee down on the table beside her.
“I’ll pick them up, don’t worry” Osgood watched Kate slowly sit down on the edge of the bed before picking up her clothes for her. “You look shattered” she plumped their pillows before making sure the quilt was covering her after she lay down. The family had stayed for an hour before leaving them to settle back into the house themselves.
“Os” Kate put her hand on top of the brunette’s, sounding weary but exasperated as well. “Please come to bed with me, I won’t break”
“Blooming better not” Osgood mumbled before sliding into bed herself and switching off the bedside light. “I’m so glad you’re home” her right hand rested on Kate’s shoulder.
“Tomorrow, can we talk about what happened before?” the blonde blinked slowly, almost succumbing to sleep. She finally lost her battle to stay awake as Osgood nodded and kissed her forehead gently.
“Morning Josh” Osgood answered the phone with a smile. “Are you back in London?”
“Yep, I hope I didn’t miss you in a nurse’s uniform?” he joked.
“Work call is it, Captain Carter?” Kate glared over the back of the sofa at Osgood.
“Good to hear you’re back to your usual self ma’am” he ran his hand over his eyes in silent exasperation.
“Sorry Josh” Osgood took the phone off speaker and glared back at Kate. “Yes she got home last night so I’m working from home for a couple of days” she listened to his next question “I sent the results to the Colonel two days ago, but I can forward them onto you now” she quickly attached a report to an email. “I will……...no I don’t!” she hung up the phone with a laugh. “Josh says he’s sorry about that, was just trying to cheer me up”
“Uh-huh,” Kate huffed and returned to the book which she’d been trying to concentrate on for the past couple of hours.
“Hey” Osgood had come round to the front of the sofa. “He’s harmless in an ‘occasional fake husband’ kind of way” she raised an eyebrow and waited to see what reaction she’d get.
“I’m just annoyed at life in general, sorry love” Kate gave up on the book, not even bothering to use a bookmark before dropping it on the floor. “Can I make you a cuppa?”
“No, but I can make you one if you want?” at Kate’s aggrieved sigh Osgood carefully lifted her legs and sat down before replacing them in her lap. “Right, so what’s causing the annoyance?”
“Apart from the obvious?” Kate really tried to avoid the sarcasm but she didn’t manage to keep it out of her tone completely. “And by that I meant that I’m just grumpy because I still can’t do much and I can hear how busy you are…….darling” she hoped tagging the endearment on the end would earn her some brownie points.
“Well if you’re already annoyed let’s get the talk over and done with” the brunette took her glasses off to clean them but felt the tension rise in Kate’s body. “So, where were we before you went and proved my point by nearly getting yourself killed?”
Kate ran her hands over her face. Despite wanting to clear the air with her girlfriend she hadn’t been able to devise a strategy to achieve it. “I can’t command UNIT troops from behind a desk” Kate started with her weakest argument.
Osgood would rather have waited until Kate was stronger but she knew that the unresolved argument they’d had two weeks ago had almost broken her when Kate had been so seriously injured. “You could but you choose not to” she kept her voice even “And I know that’s because you think it would tarnish your Dad’s memory but you have a legacy of your own now”
“I’ll always be Alastair’s daughter” Kate clenched her hands together briefly.
“Yes, but you’re also Gordy and Alex’s mum” Osgood rubbed circles on the inside of Kate’s knee, trying to convey her love. “And my partner,” she said more quietly, as this was the one part of her reasoning that she wasn’t completely comfortable admitting, she didn’t want their personal relationship to affect the way that UNIT ran.
“Always” Kate captured her hand and entwined their fingers, holding on tightly.
Osgood nodded in agreement and pushed her glasses up her nose with her free hand. “As far as UNIT is concerned you’re so much more than a military leader, you’re the leader of our scientific teams and the diplomatic missions” she raised her finger as Kate opened her mouth to interrupt. “I know we have other soldiers, scientists, and diplomats but you’re the only triple-threat and that counts for everything if we’re facing enemies who know your reputation before they even get here”
“I can’t do any of that from the Tower while everyone else is in the field,” Kate pointed out while rubbing her thumb gently against the brunette’s index finger.
“I’m not suggesting you should, we all need to be in the field at times” she turned to face Kate carefully, not wanting to jostle her legs. “All I’m asking is that you don’t throw yourself first in front of every ray gun we come across”
“I don’t have a hero complex, I’m not that brave,” she admitted. “It’s just that being front and centre to handle negotiations ends up turning into a gunfight more often than any of us would like”
“I know, but last week was supposed to be a low-level gun-smuggling trap” Osgood remembered the scene at the docks, with Kate injured and bleeding. “When it’s not world-ending invasions can’t you let someone else be the target?”
“We were using the alias’ from The Auctioneer’s mission to the jungle, we didn’t have time to create a backstory for anyone else” Kate reminded her.
“And Lianne has spent the past week working with Jackie to get a few more generic background alias’ set up for us to use next time” Osgood relayed the information that she guessed Kate wouldn’t be very pleased about. “Even taking all of that into account, I worry that you drew their fire to protect me”
“I didn’t, I wasn’t that quick” Kate swallowed as a twinge of pain reminded her of her injury. “That’s not to say I wouldn’t have, you were more critical to the success of the mission”
“You think I’d have been able to complete the mission if I’d seen you dead as Gaby dragged me past you?” Osgood asked harshly, unable to get rid of the image.
“I’d have come back to haunt you if you hadn’t and you know you saved thousands of lives by taking the money away from the buyers of those weapons” Kate watched the tears slip down the brunette’s cheeks and sniffed her own away.
“I don’t believe in ghosts and if I did you’d be haunting me while Josh kept me company in my grief” Osgood managed a sniffly laugh at the indignant huff that suggestion received. “We can’t keep riding our luck like this,” she said more seriously.
“Our teams are well trained and dedicated to saving the planet, none of this is luck” Kate replied. “If I was still at the university in a boring job I could be run over by a bus tomorrow”
“One day I’m going to find the bus driver you think is out to get you if you leave UNIT” Osgood glared at the blonde. "All I ask is that you don’t make a habit of standing in front of a speeding bus”
“I want to grow old with you, even if it seems that I’m doing that more quickly than you sometimes” Kate said seriously and then frowned “That made sense in my head”
“Me too” Osgood lifted her legs and stood in front of the sofa again. “Now, I think you need an afternoon nap”
“I’ve been napping for over a week!” Kate complained.
“I didn’t say you’d be on your own” Osgood raised her eyebrows and waited for her meaning to sink in. “And there it is” she smiled indulgently as she helped Kate up and started following her upstairs. “Take your time, we have all afternoon” she reminded her before going back to her laptop and signing herself out. Grabbing her phone she set it to silent and jogged upstairs to catch up with the blonde who seemed keen if the trail of clothing strewn on the floor was anything to go by. “Dr Windsor said there were to be no strenuous exercises for another week or so” she slowly unbuttoned her shirt and carefully placed their clothes in either laundry baskets or the chair in the corner of the bedroom. “So I spent a few hours researching the beneficial effects of oxycotin as a mood enhancer and various endorphins on pain relief” she was finally naked and returned from pulling the curtains closed to slide into bed beside a hopeful looking Kate.
“Please tell me there’s a practical experiment I can help with” Kate grinned and closed her eyes as the brunette kissed her soft and slow.
“Good to have you back ma’am” Shindi saluted Kate as she walked into her office.
“Enough of that, I hope you left me some custard creams” Kate sat down carefully and looked around the small room. “You didn’t even redecorate?” she scowled at the institutional green walls that she’d been looking at for far too many years.
“I just assumed it was your favourite colour ma’am” Shindi met her glare with a smile and gave himself an internal high five when Kate smiled as well. “How are you really feeling?”
“I feel like I was shot in the abdomen two weeks ago” Kate responded in a matter-of-fact voice. “Which translates to no driving and Osgood insisting I don’t lift anything heavier than a coffee mug” she sighed and logged into her computer. “I’m under strict orders to only be in the office a few hours each day so probably best to get me on my mobile if comms are down”
“Osgood was worried sick, we all were but she just withdrew into herself…….reminded me of when she first started here” Shindi surprised Kate by remaining in her office. “I don’t want to pry into your personal life, god knows you both deserve something that’s not controlled by UNIT” he wasn’t entirely sure where he was going with this ramble but kept going anyway. “I just wanted you to know that I understand more now about the kind of pressure you’re under every time something comes knocking at our door and...well…..if there’s anything I can do to help you get out of here on time occasionally I’d be happy to help”
Kate was surprised by his earnest pronouncement but not as surprised as he was if his frown was anything to go by. “Thank you Vikram, that means a lot,” she took a careful steadying breath. “I’ve promised Osgood that I won’t try to stop bullets with parts of my body for a while, we may need to revisit some of the Greyhound 1 protocols in the event of a firefight”
“Of course” Shindi decided he’d said more than enough for her first day back. “I should leave you to the paperwork that I never got around to looking at” and with a smart about-face he left the office to the sound of her swearing softly under her breath. “Well that went better than I thought it would,” he said to himself.
Osgood looked around the small group of team leaders “Essentially we need to follow the money trails from those bank accounts before they were shut down and that’ll be led by the forensic accounting team” she nodded at two women who looked like the poster children of accountants everywhere. “The rest of you work with Colonel Shindi’s teams to figure out where the laser guidance setup was positioned and follow the trail back to whoever was responsible” she waited for any questions. “Right, let’s get on with it” she clapped her hands softly and was gratified that the scientists all gravitated to one of the groups without further instruction. “Malcolm, if you have a minute?” she asked and nodded towards her office.
“It’s getting a bit crowded out there” Malcolm thrust his hands into his lab coat pockets.
“They’ll clear out when the Colonel has assembled his troops to escort them to the site of the attack” Osgood was getting better at dispassionately compartmentalising the events that led to Kate being injured. “We need to figure out how the transport was actually done, which technology they used and how they got hold of it”
McGillop nodded “Do you think it’s The Auctioneers again?”
“We don’t have any evidence, either way, let’s just follow the science and see where it leads us,” Osgood sighed. “I’m going to be working from home mainly for the next week or two but I’ll be in for an hour or two every morning”
Kate tried to stifle the groan as she eased herself out of the car and moved slowly towards her front door. “Os, do I need a new keycode?” she asked over her shoulder before Osgood strode past her and entered the 13 digit security code that opened the house.
“Are you sure you don’t want me to wait inside, I’ll be working in the kitchen or out of your way” Gaby carried Kate’s messenger bag inside and placed it on the table in the hallway.
“It’s not an issue of discretion” Kate reassured her and gratefully handed her raincoat to the young woman to hang up for her. “We’re safe behind the perimeter guards and enhanced security and you shouldn’t feel obliged to volunteer to babysit us” she smiled to take the sting out of what she was saying.
“Trust me, ma’am, I’d be getting much more than my regular babysitting rate for Greyhounds” Gaby was relieved to see a smile quirk Kate’s lips.
“Kate, sit down before you fall down” Osgood ordered as she came to find her. “Gaby, take those bags upstairs to the study and then come and help me get dinner prepared” she watched both women looking startled for a minute but put her hands on her hips in the universal sign that she was not to be trifled with. When both women realised they had been given orders they moved to follow them, Gaby disappearing upstairs with their messenger bags.
Kate slowly walked with her posture as upright as she could manage, determined not to let Osgood see how much pain she was in. Glancing around she saw that she was alone and allowed herself a quiet groan as she lowered herself into the armchair. “I’m fine, we don’t need to keep armed support in the house” she whispered as Osgood marched back into the room and put a glass of water in her hand.
“Take your tablets” Osgood shook her head and waited to make sure Kate actually noticed that she had two painkillers in the hand not currently holding the glass. “You’re on a phased return to work and after we leave the Tower you are officially off the clock” Osgood explained, raising her finger as Kate was about to interrupt. “Which means that Sergeant Douglas is officially my armed guard and you don’t get a say in the matter”
Kate blinked several times in quick succession before drinking the rest of the water. “Thank you” she said as she handed the glass back and watched Osgood return to the kitchen. “I’ve created a monster,” she said to herself as she tried to balance the quiet woman she fell in love with against the, frankly scarily, in charge woman who was now, apparently, the boss of her.
“Carter, let’s make sure we get the exact coordinates for the satellite images” Shindi called to the young Captain before striding across the flattened piece of grass towards the small group of scientists milling around near a tripod. “Right, have you made contact?” he asked and settled his sunglasses on his head before leaning down and staring through the eyepiece on top of the tripod.
“Yes Colonel, they’re ready when you are” the young scientist holding the radio confirmed.
“Right then, it’s been a few years but let's see if I can still get this to work” Shindi muttered under his breath as he carefully adjusted the sights to bring the target into focus. Running his right hand down from the viewfinder he felt the trigger and depressed it three times in quick succession. “Report?” he didn’t move but knew everyone would hear the question.
The crackle of radio static broke through and the young man clicked the button off before replying to the Colonel. “They received the signal, Sir, target confirmed”
“Excellent” Shindi stood up and replaced his sunglasses. “Let’s finish the measurements and get this packed up” he turned to look around the group of soldiers and scientists “Carter?” his voice carried across the distance and the young man jogged up to his side. “This looks like the place, get forensics up here and we need every satellite and CCTV image for two days around the attack”. He knew it was a tall order, he hadn’t seen many security cameras nearby as they’d made their way to the site earlier, but this was the first lead they had in tracking down who was responsible for the attack on his men. “Osgood,” he said into his mobile as he walked back towards his car. “Yes, looks like we found the spot, can you confirm that the readings match what you picked up just before the attack?”
Osgood glanced at the readout on the screen in front of her and scratched the back of her neck. “Yes, exact match” she smiled. “None of the other sites around the docks gave us the same result”
“I’m on my way back now, will we be able to catch Kate before she heads home?” Shindi climbed into the car and signaled the driver to move off. “Blue lights,” he said to the driver as Osgood explained that they were already at home but the patient was awake.
“Wait, so she was married to him before the boring guy?” Gaby crunched some popcorn and squinted at the screen.
Kate grinned and paused the DVD “OK, Hildy was married to Walter and they both worked at the newspaper together” she carefully stretched to grab a handful of popcorn. “They divorced and she’s decided to leave the newsroom behind her and settle down for a quiet life with Bruce instead”
“Right, got it” Gaby nodded seriously and they both returned to occasional laughter as His Girl Friday barrelled along at a rate of knots. “Answer the phone” she muttered under her breath and was so engrossed in the movie that she missed Kate grinning at her enthusiasm.
Osgood calculated that she wouldn‘t need to interrupt the movie as it should finish about ten minutes before the Colonel was due to arrive. Glancing around the door from the kitchen she confirmed where they were and returned to make some sandwiches and tea. “Gaby, can I get a hand?” she shouted when she heard the end of the movie.
“Hey, I could have done this” Gaby strolled into the kitchen and saw two large plates of sandwiches laid out while Osgood cut up a sponge cake.
“The Colonel will be here in about ten minutes, he’s blue lighting it from the scene” Osgood pushed her glasses back up her nose with her forearm. “I knew you’d be finished before he arrived” she smiled.
“Can I lend a hand?” Kate asked from the doorway where she leaned with her arms crossed.
“Colonel’s on his way” Gaby straightened her hair and tucked her shirt in properly.
Osgood stepped past Gaby and stopped in front of Kate, grinning at her as she gently rested her hands on the blonde’s hips. “Don’t worry, you were protecting Kate” she winked over her shoulder at the soldier who suddenly found something interesting in the garden. “Even if it was from just consuming too much popcorn” she laughed and removed the kernel of corn from Kate’s cleavage.
“I need to get back to the office, there are too many distractions here” Kate muttered before leaning down for a quick kiss.
Gaby opened the door a few minutes later as the Colonel walked briskly from the car “Sir” she nodded and watched as the driver turned the car around before waving at her. When she returned to the room she found the three senior members of UNIT laughing and she wasn’t sure what to do until Kate waved her to the empty chair
“You’ll be delighted to know that we’re on the trail of those behind the attack so you can return to normal life soon” Kate toasted her with her coffee mug and accepted the plate of sandwiches and cake that Osgood handed to her. “What’s the latest?” she asked after her first taste.
The Colonel drank some coffee to wash down his sandwich, he hadn’t had anything since breakfast and welcomed the food. “The transport beam site was almost certainly targeted by someone on the high ground to the north of the docks and we’re gathering all of the satellite and CCTV images we can, to identify who would have been involved”
“Do we have any idea who would have access to that kind of technology?” Kate looked towards Osgood.
“Obviously The Auctioneers have shown that they have acquired alien technology so they’d be my first guess” Osgood blew across the top of her coffee. “The transport itself was very similar to the Sontaran technology we’ve seen before but I don’t think we’ve upset them recently, have we?”
“Don’t look at me,” Kate said a little defensively before looking thoughtfully into her coffee mug. “I think you’re right, it’s more likely to be The Auctioneers since we’ve theorised they were behind the weapon sales to begin with”
“Don’t you dare tell Osgood that I’m huffing and puffing” Kate warned Shindi as he walked next to her.
“It’ll take a while to get your strength back but your secret is safe with me” Shindi assured her.
“Randall” Kate leaned against a table in the large room and tried to look nonchalant.
“Ma’am” the documents expert looked up in surprise before moving to the other side of the office and grabbing a chair. “Have a seat” she smiled and missed Kate’s annoyed frown as she returned to her own chair.
“You said you had something interesting to show us” Shindi had carried his own chair across and tried to deflect attention from his boss who was sitting down very gingerly.
“I would have brought it up to you but this is fine” Randall swallowed nervously. “The fake backgrounds that were created a couple of years ago, for the Code D operation” she found the page she was looking for and turned her monitor so that they could both see the information. “Someone has been digging through them in the last couple of days”
“Any idea who?” Kate squinted at the screen. “Or what they were hoping to find”
“I’ve narrowed down the account used but it seems to have been set up with fake ID and the credit card used was stolen and not used since the hack was completed” Randall turned the screen back round to face her and started typing. “We were able to track the Internet Cafe that was used to login to the message board where they tried to get past our firewalls”
“Can we use facial recognition on anyone who went in or out?” Shindi sat forward.
“Who uses an Internet Cafe these days?” Osgood asked as she moved from the doorway and went to stand behind the young woman.
“I asked Osgood for her help, I don’t have much experience with the CCTV systems and facial recognition software we use” Randall explained.
“Do you mind?” Osgood motioned to the keyboard and Randall stood up and let Osgood drive. “OK, let’s assume they were smart enough to wear a baseball cap” she muttered under her breath as her fingers flew across the keyboard. “This might take a while” she glanced up at the three people watching her.
“We have biscuits” Randall offered and smiled at Kate’s enthusiastic smile in return. “I can bring you over a cuppa?” she suggested, having noticed how slowly the blonde was walking when she entered her office.
“No, that’s fine” Kate took a deep breath and rose from the chair in one fluid movement. She watched Osgood carefully before deciding the brunette was too engrossed in what she was doing to notice Kate’s slight limp as she walked towards the coffee area.
Shindi watched the blonde as she tried to camouflage her pain, something he was very familiar with. “Where is your partner in crime?” he asked the younger woman.
“Simon is taking measurements from the new troops garrisoned here” Randall grinned. “Apparently I’ve not to expect him to return any time soon”
“I do hope we have Captain Carter there to help” Kate winked and grinned at the young woman before taking her coffee and a biscuit. “I understand you’ve been working on some new background aliases for us to use?”
“Yes, Osgood suggested that the old ones were pulled together in a hurry and it might be better to have some on the shelf ready to use” Randall nodded towards the brunette who was frowning at her screen. “It’s easier for the men to be honest” she mumbled.
“Why is that?” Shindi asked, genuinely wanting to know.
“Well the age range is smaller for most of the soldiers and scientists here” Randall began before turning to Shindi and Kate. “I don’t mean…”
Kate grinned and turned to Shindi “It looks like we’re outside the standard deviation again”
Shindi was about to reply when he turned as Osgood shouted them over. She sat back and waited for them to come around the desk. “Didn’t take long at all, does he look familiar?” she pointed at a man who was holding a baseball cap in his hand and looking almost directly into the ATM camera. “Here, sit down” she stood and waited for Kate to sit in the chair, worried that she hadn’t received any arguments.
“Is that Paul Thompson?” Kate squinted and leaned closer to the screen, trying to hide the catch in her breath as she felt a twinge in her side.
“It’s either him or his twin brother” Shindi chose a speed dial on his phone. “Get me all the information you can on what happened to Professor Paul Thompson after we handed him over to the civilian authorities” he waited as the Operations Room asked him a question. “It should be referenced to the job we had at the University last year” he confirmed and hung up his phone.
“So assuming he doesn’t have a twin brother…..” Kate started and was surprised when Randall put her hand up. “We’re not at school” she smiled at the younger woman.
“Sorry, it’s just I have access to the birth records, I can check?” she pointed at her computer and everyone moved out of her way.
“Be careful,” Osgood said quietly as she held out her hand for Kate to use when she sat down slowly in the visitor’s chair. “Did you take your painkillers?”
“I took half the dose, otherwise I fall asleep and there’s no point being in the office full time again if I keep napping at my desk,” Kate said firmly, knowing that Osgood wouldn’t be happy.
“He doesn’t have a twin or any sibling” Randall interrupted without looking up. “Both his parents are dead and they were both only children so he doesn’t even have any cousins”
Osgood frowned “So who got him out of prison?”
“We’ll track his incarceration with the local police and prison service” Shindi stood “Well done Ms Randall” he nodded and left the three women in the large room.
“Did you want a coffee?” Randall asked Osgood and went to get her a cup as Osgood sat down in Shindi’s chair.
“I don’t want to nag, I just hate to see you pushing yourself when you’re in pain” Osgood whispered and squeezed Kate’s clenched fist.
“I know, I’ll be fine, I promise” Kate slowly released her fist and captured Osgood’s fingers. She let go when Randall coughed diplomatically.
“Thank you” Osgood smiled and put the cup on the desk. “The software for facial recognition is running in the background, we can set up a session to take you through the basics”
“Yes ma’am” Randall scrunched her forehead. “Sorry, Osgood”
“Can you take me through some of the aliases you’ve created?” Kate asked, partly because she was interested and partly because she needed to sit down for a few more minutes before the walk back to her office. “You don’t need to wait, come to my office when you’re ready to go home,” she assured Osgood.
“Let me know if you get any more hits,” Osgood asked Randall before standing and looking down at Kate. “We’ll be leaving at 5 pm sharp” she raised an eyebrow and waited for Kate to nod in agreement. “Thanks for the coffee” she waved at Randall and left for her lab.
“Did you really want to see the background information or would you rather have another cuppa?” Randall asked nervously.
“I’m interested” Kate put down her mug. “Take me through what you’ve got so far”
A week after they had identified Paul Thompson as their most likely suspect they sat outside a pub in a black surveillance van. “Deja vu anyone?” Shindi sighed as they watched monitors picking up the feed from all nearby CCTV cameras.
“A lot more civilians this time” Kate mumbled and tapped her pen on the pad in front of her.
“There he is,” Osgood said quietly and moved the correct feed to the larger monitor. She switched the feed every time his progress was picked up by another camera.
“Are we sure that’s him?” Shindi asked, trying to make out facial features under the baseball cap.
“He’s wearing the University insignia on the cap” Osgood shook her head. “Not the sharpest knife in the drawer”
“Carter, he’s heading your way,” Kate said into the microphone in front of her. “Passing the alley in 3….2….1”
They watched as Carter stepped out of the alley and bumped into the suspect, apologising profusely before apparently being surprised at meeting him. He put his arm around his shoulder and discreetly injected him with the fast-acting knockout drug. “Target in our possession” Carter responded as he moved the increasingly uncoordinated body towards the alley he’d emerged from and into the waiting arms of several soldiers.
“Good work, let’s get him back to the Tower” Kate ordered and sighed in relief. “Nicely done” she nodded at the Colonel.
“Beta squad has reported that they have their suspect in transit to the Tower, ETA ten minutes” Shindi was pleased that both operations seemed to have gone off without a hitch.
Osgood spent five minutes shutting down all of the computer links they’d established and scrubbing their presence from audit trails in the CCTV systems. “Good to go” she confirmed and the van headed back to base.
Kate and Osgood had briefed Sergeant Douglas on the investigation they had undertaken at the University and everyone had agreed that it would be better for him to be interviewed by someone he wasn’t familiar with, in an attempt to keep him off balance. She checked that her blouse was tucked into her slacks before walking into the interrogation room, nodding to the soldier who was standing guard in the corner. “Mr. Paul Thompson?” she started and opened a file of papers.
“It’s Professor,” he said sullenly, slumped in his chair and looking like he hadn’t slept in quite a few days.
“Not anymore” Gaby didn’t even bother looking up at him. “We’re interested in the meeting you were on your way to this morning, what can you tell me about it”
“I want to see a lawyer” he pretended to look bored but the sweat had soaked through his shirt and he was barely holding himself together.
“I’m afraid you misunderstand your position here” Gaby finally looked up from the file and stared at him until he looked away. “You’ve been detained under the terrorism act specifically relating to off-world activities so there will be no lawyer, no visitors, no release for you” she sat back slightly and watched him become even paler than before. “Selling out your colleagues and conspiracy to murder was one thing but selling out the human race and conspiracy to destroy the planet is another thing entirely”
“I didn’t do any of that” he protested, letting his head fall onto his arms where they rested on the edge of the table.
“Several months ago you were apprehended during an operation to identify the main culprits behind the kidnap of two scientists and theft of critical medical research documents” Gaby had returned to flipping through pages in her file, although she knew it all off by heart. “The charges were then increased to include attempted murder and conspiracy with off-world terrorists to sell research to the highest bidder”
“Nobody was killed” he tried to point out.
Gaby slowly unbuttoned her blouse and pulled it aside to show the bullet entry wound below her collar bone “Not for the want of trying Mr. Thompson, luckily you hired the cheapest goon squad you could find” she rebuttoned her blouse and sat back.
“You, but…..” he looked around the room and started to realise that he wasn’t being held in a police station. “You’re not with the police” he tried to confirm his suspicions.
Gaby crossed her legs in a move she’d carefully studied when Kate was radiating peak levels of confidence in front of enemies of the state. “Finally something we do agree on”
“Where is she?” he growled, “Where is that bitch who put me in jail?”
Gaby shook her head and stood up, taking her jacket off and hanging it on the back of her chair. He could now see the shoulder holster she was wearing with weapon snugly sitting against her left side. “You really don’t want to be calling anyone names, I’m the good cop in this scenario and I’ve just shown you my gun” she waited for him to close his mouth from the convincing guppy impression he was giving. “Now we need some questions answered and then we can figure out what to do with you”
“You’re going to kill me?” he was near to tears now, his emotions swinging about all over the place.
“You made a really stupid mistake when you decided to steal the research for your own personal gain” Gaby returned to the file and pulled out the original charge sheet. “Then you intentionally involved some very bad people to protect your secret and that’s why you’ve ended up here today”
Kate was pacing in the adjoining room, glaring at the two-way glass with such intensity that Shindi wondered if she would burn a hole through it. Osgood was staring at her laptop screen which showed several different filtered images of what was happening in the interview room. “Well?” Kate finally stopped pacing, her side was starting to ache and she knew her blood pressure was rising from the headache starting behind her eyes.
“Honestly with cortisol and norepinephrine levels this high he should have passed out 60 seconds ago” Osgood replied and glanced at the readings from his interrogator. “Sergeant Douglas, on the other hand, seems to be as calm as she is showing him”
“She knows the details and holds all the cards” Shindi suggested and sat back to watch the rest of the show.
“Sit down, you’re distracting me” Osgood glanced round at Kate and squinted at her over her glasses.
Kate sat down and ran her fingers through her hair. “Did we get to the bottom of how he managed to escape from prison after only four months of a 15-year sentence?” she directed to Shindi as an outlet for her frustration.
“We’re tracking the paper trail but I’m guessing we’ll find that The Auctioneers have contacts in lots of useful places and he was an asset to them, albeit an unwitting one” Shindi had left a team working through the people involved in getting Thomson transferred from one prison and not arriving at the supposed new prison. “We’re keeping the investigation in-house for now, not sure who was involved in the civilian authorities”
“Whatever happened to little green men just wanting to monologue for ages and then blow us up?” Kate asked wearily and slumped in her chair to concentrate on what was happening in the interrogation room.
“Once he realised that a prison in the UK was off the table he coughed up every single name and detail he could remember from his dealings with The Auctioneers” Gaby sat up straight and delivered her report in Kate’s office.
“We have several teams following the leads, you did well” Kate nodded to her and waited for a tray of coffee to be delivered and her door closed again before continuing. “What was his involvement in the raid at the docks?”
“He swears he didn’t have anything to do with that” Gaby shrugged “I believe him, he was almost begging me to ask whatever I wanted but he looked genuinely confused when I mentioned it”
Shindi helped himself to a mug of coffee and a custard cream. “The contact he was going to meet today was more helpful on that front” he started before dunking his biscuit and chewing it quickly. “It seems that the damage we inflicted on the organisation has lessened the threat they can impose on anyone who betrays them and he was very keen to avoid some of Captain Carter’s more imaginative rehabilitation methods”
“I’m glad we only ever threaten these things, that we’d never actually do anything like that” Osgood was concentrating on eating her biscuit when the brief look between Kate and Shindi occurred and Gaby knew she’d have seen exactly what they were thinking if she’d spotted it.
Shindi carried on without any further comment on Osgood’s altruism “The weapons being sold at the docks were some kind of disintegrators that were powerful enough to take out aircraft from the ground”
“Thank goodness we managed to intercept the sale” Kate looked worried. “Do we have any idea who the buyers were supposed to be?”
“We’ve narrowed it down to a couple of African regions fighting over a particularly lucrative oilfield and the local UNIT teams are coordinating with NATO forces in the area to de-escalate the situation” Shindi confirmed.
Sorry, this chapter ended up being a bit longer than the rest. I really wish my brain thought this stuff up in neat chunks but apparently it's beyond me :) This is the penultimate chapter!
Kate thanked the driver and closed the front door wearily. Yawning she dropped her bag beside Osgood’s and walked into the kitchen. “I thought you’d be in bed” she moved to stand in front of the brunette.
“I was waiting up for you” Osgood hugged her, still being careful of her wound but relieved to finally have an end in sight to the illegal arms trading. “How did it go with the PM?” she stepped back and flipped the kettle on before following Kate to the sofa.
“She wasn’t best pleased that I couldn’t give her the whole story but she seemed happy enough to have another nation to blame for the explosions and property damage” Kate’s head rolled back in an attempt to loosen tense muscles. “She did seem genuinely worried when Shindi mentioned the extent of my injury” Kate huffed in annoyance. “Although I think he only did it because I told him the PM has a fancy for him and he was trying to deflect her attention back onto me”
Osgood laughed and curled into Kate’s side. “You are mean to tease him about that”
“Good news is the PM insisted that I take a few days off to complete my recovery and I’ve told Geneva that we’re both unavailable for the rest of the week” Kate sighed happily and pulled the brunette against her.
“I’ll need to go into the Tower first thing in the morning but I’ll be back by lunchtime and we can veg out and watch old movies” Osgood yawned. “Come on, let’s get to bed before we both fall asleep here”
“I told you I didn’t need another week to recover” Kate managed between heavy breaths.
Osgood lay on her side with a grin on her face, watching the blonde beside her positively glow in the afternoon sunlight streaming through the window. “Just as well, I’d have been mortified explaining any damage to Dr. Windsor” she laughed and swung her legs over the side of the bed. “You’re definitely buying me dinner,” she said over her shoulder as she headed for the shower.
Kate watched her walk away from the bed and closed her eyes to send thanks to whoever was listening. The gunshot had been a close call and the thought that she’d never see her glorious girlfriend again gave her the motivation to rethink the way that her teams approached situations like the arms deal at the docks. Shaking her head she managed to get out of bed with only a slight wince at the pain in her side and headed for the shower as well.
Osgood was drying her hair when Kate stood behind her, kissing her neck. “I’ve got a craving for steak pie, how about that pub near the park?”
“Perfect, I’ll be ready in ten minutes” Osgood glanced round. “And you really need to be wearing more than just a t-shirt and socks”
Fifteen minutes later they left the house and walked hand-in-hand through the cosy residential streets. “It feels like it’s been ages since we’ve done this” Kate lifted their joined hands to kiss the back of Osgood’s.
“That’s because it’s been nearly three months since we have” the brunette settled her glasses and looked up at the blue sky. “I do love London in the autumn when everything feels crisp and clean”
“You’re so beautiful when you’re relaxed and enjoying yourself,” Kate said quietly, watching her girlfriend behave as if the weight of the world wasn’t regularly on her shoulders. “Almost as beautiful as you are when you’ve discovered something unique in the laboratory” she winked as Osgood turned to stare at her.
“Sweet talker” the younger woman bumped her shoulder against Kate’s. They walked for another ten minutes with Osgood deep in thought before she slowed to a stop and turned to face the blonde. “I know we’ve had a really nice day and everything but can we have ‘a talk’ over dinner?” she swallowed nervously and when she didn’t get an answer she continued “I mean we need to sort out how we’re going to deal with this kind of thing again and maybe it’ll be easier in a public place where we can’t get too emotional” she ran out of steam.
“Seems like a good idea” Kate nodded, she knew she was lucky to have recovered for four weeks since the incident without Osgood insisting they talk about it. “But I’m really hungry and looking forward to the steak pie, can we wait till after the food?”
Osgood shook her head and pulled Kate’s hand to get them moving again “Since I’m partly responsible for making you hungry that only seems fair”
Kate shook her head as the waiter offered the dessert menu “But two more glasses of this please” she held up the empty bottle of red wine and waited for Osgood to nod before smiling at the young man.
“Did you order more wine to get me drunk?” Osgood smiled around a sip from her glass as she ran her thumb across the back of Kate’s hand.
“I’ve been working with Vikram to redraw the protocols for Greyhound 1 engagement,” Kate said softly, turning her hand over and sliding her fingers between Osgood’s. “So I’m hoping to count them as a celebration”
“We can celebrate when the protocols are agreed,” Osgood said with certainty. “I don’t want anyone else put in danger instead of you”
“We have dangerous jobs darling” Kate reminded her and smiled her thanks as the waiter refilled her glass.
Osgood was about to reply when her phone started to vibrate in her pocket. “Sorry, I just need to….” she disentangled their hands and quickly scrolled through the messages from several of her team. “Can we get the bill please?” she asked the waiter as he passed by their table.
Kate checked her own phone and was annoyed to realise it was still switched off from earlier. “Bugger” she muttered under her breath “Sorry, not you” she tried to smile at the waiter as he looked offended. Adding a generous tip to the bill she sighed at the almost full glass of wine she was leaving behind. “Josh, can you get a car to pick us up?” she gave Carter the name of the pub before putting her phone away. “The Doctor?” she asked the brunette.
“Mmm proximity alarms went off and it looks like it landed…..” she paused to scroll back up and down the message she’d just received. “Oh, it’s just off Constitution Hill” she swallowed nervously.
“Of course it is” Kate sighed and glanced down at her untucked shirt and slightly too large sweater. “Are we going to have to come up with a cover story for a police box being on top of the Victoria Memorial?”
“No ma’am” Osgood reverted to work mode on Kate’s tone of voice. “But we may need to ask her Majesty’s permission to enter the courtyard”
“The TARDIS is in Buckingham Palace?” Kate asked without a flicker of emotion. She glanced up as Carter appeared in the doorway of the pub and they both walked towards the waiting car. “Get me the Head of the Royal Household, priority 1” Kate barked into her phone and waited for a tense minute before someone answered “Apologies for the interruption but we need access to the Palace grounds as a matter of urgency” she listened to the calm voice at the other end as they issued orders to someone in their office. “Thank you, we also need to secure anyone in residence at the moment”
Osgood was talking quietly with her team to identify the TARDIS signature that had bounced off the Tower barrier before choosing to land in the park behind the Palace. “Has someone checked the Space-Time Telegraph?” she listened while the question was relayed several times “OK, ask Malcolm to call me if he gets anything” she hung up and dropped her phone into her trouser pocket as the car ignored the red light and sped through the next traffic junction.
Kate listened to the reports she was receiving in her earpiece while waiting for the list of people in residence at the Palace, despite this she was aware of Osgood using her inhaler “Are you OK?” she mouthed at the brunette and smiled at the thumbs-up signal she received in reply.
“We should have stayed for that extra glass of wine” Kate sighed as their cars swept through a side gate of Buckingham Palace and turned towards a corner of the gardens. “I’m guessing it’s over there” she pointed and waited for Osgood to look up from her tablet.
Osgood pushed her glasses up her nose and sighed. “What gave it away?”
“The Queen’s Guard are our backup if we need them” Josh turned away to listen to his earpiece. “The Colonel is coordinating a wider cordon around the grounds” he explained as the car stopped.
“Captain” Kate stepped out of the car and shook hands with the officer who stepped forwards. “Thank you for securing the scene”
“Ma’am” the soldier looked confused but was hiding it well.
“Brigadier, we’re ready when you are” Josh dropped her rank and established the chain of command.
“Carry on” Kate nodded and waved Osgood forward. “Our science team will be taking readings before we move any closer” she explained to the soldier. “Can you update me on securing the residence?” Kate walked a little away from where Osgood was concentrating on her tablet and pointing to where the UNIT soldiers were setting up several sensors from the boot of their car. “You’ve got everything covered, I expected nothing less from the Scots Guards” Kate nodded several minutes later and pretended not to see the straightening of his already straight shoulders.
“Ma’am!” Osgood shouted and Kate saw the door on the TARDIS begin to open, slowly.
“Hold your fire” Kate warned as the red-coated soldiers raised their rifles. “Os?”
Before Osgood could provide any information a hand waved out of the door. “We come in peace” a male voice shouted and the hand pushed the door open further until an older man stood in the opening. “I told you they’d be annoyed” he shouted over his shoulder before raising his hands and stepping away from the door. “There’s four of us, none of us are armed” he looked back over his shoulder and nodded his head to indicate that he expected the others to follow his example.
“Doctor?” Kate looked skeptically at him and then back towards Osgood.
The man looked at her in confusion before turning to look over his shoulder again “Doc you better get out here and sort this out”
“Doc?” Osgood looked up in confusion.
Kate raised a hand in the direction of the young Queen’s Guard Captain and waited for his nod of understanding before stepping towards the people coming out from the blue door. “My name’s Kate Stewart and I’m the head of…” she didn’t get a chance to finish before she was engulfed in a hug by a smiling blonde.
“Kate” the Doctor whispered in her ear. “I’m so glad you’re still here, I knew you wouldn’t let them get rid of you”
“Doctor?” Kate managed to extricate herself from the long arms and flapping raincoat and take a step back.
“Yeah” the blonde grinned and held her arms out to her side, turning around slowly to show off her new outfit. “Bit of a change from last time, eh?”
Kate ran her hand through her hair and glanced over her shoulder at Osgood who looked shocked as she glanced between the oddly dressed woman and her tablet. Finally believing what multiple sensors and her gut was telling her she turned to Kate and nodded before taking a hit from her inhaler. Kate took one deep breath in and turned back to the Doctor, noticing that two more people were now standing next to the older man who’d emerged first. “Doctor” Kate held out her hand and was swamped with another hug. “Quite a large change” she smiled as she finally got over the shock of hugging the usually reticent, and very female, alien. “You have more companions this time?” she nodded over the Doctor’s shoulder and saw all three people still holding their hands in the air, sighing she looked over shoulder “Os?”
“Three humans” the younger woman confirmed, finishing the scans on the visitors.
“Carter” Kate didn’t need to explain any further and was relieved when she heard Josh order the troops to lower their weapons. She counted to three before the Queen’s Guard Captain also ordered his troops to lower their guns. “You can put your hands down, we won’t harm you” she smiled reassuringly at the older man and two young people.
Osgood looked on in increasing amusement as Kate was pulled towards the companions. “So yeah” the Doctor said excitedly, “I’ve got a Fam now” she spread her arm out as if displaying a new work of art.
“We’re not using Fam” the young man stage whispered before turning to the older man “Sorry Grandad, but we all agreed”
“I know, but you know what she’s like” the older man shrugged. “Sorry about dropping in like this, didn’t mean to cause a fuss” he looked at the armed cordon surrounding them. “My name’s Graham and this is Ryan and Yaz” he pointed at the other two before extending his hand to Kate.
Kate smiled gently at the scared looking younger man. “I’m sorry about the guns, Her Majesty doesn’t take too kindly to people parking near her house” she shoved her hands in her pocket and nodded in the direction of the palace behind her.
“You parked in Buckingham Palace!” the young woman looked annoyed and shoved the Doctor’s shoulder. “You said you were going to hide us in Green Park”
“We’re quite close, you can see it from here,” the Doctor pointed through some foliage and squinted before pulling out her sonic and pointing in the general direction of the park.
“Steady” Kate warned the few Guards who started to raise their guns at the sudden introduction of something that could, conceivably, be a weapon. “Is the planet being invaded?” she bluntly asked the blonde who was now peering at the readout on her sonic.
“What?” the Doctor put the sonic back in her pocket “No, should it be?” she looked up into the sky and Kate sighed as she felt the tension in the highly-trained but not alien-trained soldiers around them.
“Can we head back to my place and have a cup of tea while you tell us why you’re here?” Kate pointed over towards the SUVs lined up across the gate they’d recently come through. “We may even be able to rustle up some biscuits”
“What kind?” Graham asked, looking less fazed than the others. “I could murder a decent cuppa,” he glanced around to see everyone busy with something else, “Time traveling space ship and I can’t get a brew” he shook his head sadly.
“Try talking nicely to Idris, she’ll help you once she’s happy that you won’t hurt her captain” Kate smiled affectionately as the Doctor pounced on Osgood and picked her up off the ground in a rib-crunching hug.
“Idris?” Graham asked.
“That’s the Tardis’s name, she’s sentient and if calling her Idris doesn’t work try Sexy” Kate winked and walked off to rescue her girlfriend.
Yaz ran back into the Tardis to grab a large holdall before letting the lead soldier, dressed all in black, take it from her. “It’s a gift” she explained but he smiled and assured her that they’d sort all of that out at the Tower.
“No way man” Ryan pushed his face closer to the tinted window to see the SUVs ahead of them stream through the raised barrier. “You have an office in the Tower of London?” he asked excitedly.
“Underneath” Os said quietly and turned to wait for Ryan and Yaz to get out of the car. “Follow me” she ducked her head and walked briskly down the brick corridors leading to Kate’s office.
“We’re in here Os” Kate stepped into the doorway as Os walked past. “Couldn’t fit everyone in the office” she smiled gently at her suddenly quiet partner.
“Of course ma’am” Os waved for her guests to precede her into the conference room. “I’ll head to the lab, if you don’t need me?”
“Stay” Kate took a step towards her before they both turned at a shout from the occupants of the room.
“You used to be a bloke?!” Graham was staring at the blonde. “That’s why she thought I was the Doc?” he pointed his thumb over his shoulder at Kate.
“I’ve always been male before now, just felt like a change” the Doctor explained and smiled at her friends.
“You had a sex change?” Yaz dropped into a chair in shock.
“It’s not quite like that” Kate started to explain before Ryan interrupted her.
“Hey, she’s our friend, as she is now” he crossed his arms and glared at everyone in the room, as if daring them to argue.
“But I thought…” Yaz hadn’t acknowledged anyone else since Graham’s outburst, keeping her eyes glued to the blonde. “You didn’t tell me, us”
The Doctor looked confused and turned to Kate, appearing to start several sentences without making any noise. “Let me try to explain and you can chip in when I get it wrong?” Kate gently asked her permission and waved everyone to seats around the table. “OK, well you obviously know that The Doctor isn’t from Earth” she paused to see if anyone was about to disagree but was faced with the same stunned faces from earlier. “On Gallifrey, the Time Lords regenerate when they reach the end of their body’s life cycle”
“You’re a Lord and a Doctor?” Graham looked around to see if there was a flipchart he could start taking notes on.
“I’m a Time Lord and everyone calls me The Doctor” the blonde explained quietly. “On my planet people don’t worry so much about gender”
“What do you mean, “regenerate”?” Yaz asked, looking at Kate for the first time since they entered the room.
“This is where it gets a bit tricky” Kate stood to pace to the far end of the table, turning to see everyone watching her. “The Doctor first met my Grandfather during World War I” she started, noting the smile and nod of the head she received from the alien. “I think that was probably the one before you?” she waited for the thumbs up before continuing. “So, you obviously know you can travel through space and time and I can get Os to explain that, with charts and graphs and everything, if you really want to know?” Kate watched in amusement as both Graham and Ryan looked horrified at the thought of a science lecture. “However, for now, let’s just assume we all accept that as fact and you can see that anyone who has control over time and space would use that to travel as much as they could” she stuck her hands in her pockets and rocked back and forth on the balls of her feet. “Now imagine that aging and accidental damage would be considerably more likely when you are a curious Time Lord who cannot walk away from a fight to protect innocent people or planets” she saw Yaz furrow her brow, trying to follow what Kate was saying.
“So yeah, we’ve seen how she jumps first and asks too many questions later” Yaz nodded slowly. “But you’re saying that she died before, then came back to life?”
The Doctor was staring at her hands as she clenched her fists on the table in front of her. Osgood saw the tremble in them as she was sitting closest and reached forward slowly to put her own hand on top of them. “Time Lords don’t die, not completely” she took up the story, knowing that her old friend was thinking of all the times this had happened. “As they near death their bodies create an energy pulse that resets their DNA and allows their cells to repair whatever damage there is” she looked around at confused faces. “It’s a bit like clearing one drawing from an EtchaSketch so that a new one can take its place” she seemed pleased with the metaphor.
“What’s an EtchaSketch?” Ryan asked looking towards Graham.
“She’s just told you our friend has died, come back to life and had a sex change and that’s what you ask?!” Graham asked incredulously.
“I am getting too old for this” Kate sighed and looked up in relief as several soldiers brought in pots of tea and coffee, leaving them on the table along with sandwiches and biscuits.
“You died?” Yaz had moved to sit on the other side of The Doctor. “I’m so sorry” she reached for the fists that were still clenched, replacing Osgood’s hand when she sat back to give them some privacy.
“We need to make up handouts for the next time” Kate leaned closer as Osgood joined her at one end of the room. “Are you alright?” she asked quietly, leaving the recent arrivals to sort themselves out as she checked in.
“Yes,” Osgood pushed her glasses up her nose and looked towards their guests.
“Os” Kate folded her arms and waited until the brunette made eye contact. “What’s wrong?”
“You’ll think I’m being silly” Osgood dropped her eyes to the floor.
“Never” Kate nudged her with her shoulder as she moved to stand beside her, watching the small group argue over who wanted what in their tea. “Just tell me, you know I hate a mystery”
Osgood snorted out a laugh before putting her hand over her mouth guiltily. “Sorry, that sneaked out” she risked a glance towards Kate and saw the grin on her face. “I just realised that I missed him, even as she was hugging me” she waved a hand vaguely in the Doctor’s direction.
“I know what you mean, it’s strange when the face changes but you can still see your friend behind the eyes” Kate sobered.
“A bit more than the face this time, but yes, that’s what it was” Osgood nodded. “For a moment I closed my eyes and I could feel his arms around me, then I opened them and it was definitely her”
“Let’s hope she doesn’t do it too often then” Kate said dryly, with only a miniscule hint of jealousy.
“There’s only one older blonde I want hugging me” Osgood leaned closer to whisper in her ear before swiftly moving to get them both a cuppa.
Kate took a moment to gather herself before accepting the cup from Osgood and sitting down next to Ryan. “Can we get you anything else?” she asked as the young man stared at his cup.
“No, it’s fine” he looked embarrassed before carefully picking the cup up with both hands and drinking half of it down in one gulp. “Just not used to stuff that’s dainty” he shrugged.
“I can get you a mug if you prefer?” Kate was concerned to make them as welcome as she could. She allowed the visitors to spend another 15 minutes on gathering information about the Doctor’s past before catching their attention again. “So you changed relatively recently?”
The Doctor nodded and quickly chewed the three custard creams she’d stuffed into her mouth. “Yeah, TARDIS threw me out and I landed in the right place to help Yaz and Graham” she gulped down a mouthful of tea. “Ryan helped us solve the whole thing” she beamed as the young man sheepishly tried to pretend it was nothing.
“Why did Idris throw you out?” Kate asked, concerned that the oldest friends had fallen out.
“Ah, well the last one was a bit messy” the Doctor admitted and glanced quickly towards Yaz. “I’d held off the regeneration, wasn’t sure I deserved another chance”
“You tried to commit…..” Yaz couldn’t finish the question, her fingers in front of her mouth as if to keep the word from being spoken.
“Not really, it’s not like that” the blonde tried to explain but saw the look of shock and distress on Kate and Osgood’s faces as well. “Anyway, she took me to meet my first incarnation and we both ended up saving…..”
“Hold up” Graham interrupted. “You can meet your former selves?” he waited for the nod of confirmation. “But doesn’t that create some sort of time paradox?” he used the words without being sure that they were correct and glanced towards Osgood.
“We’re not sure how the Time Lords manage to bend time and space to that extent without ripping it apart” Osgood stared at the Doctor “We’ve never had a straight answer out of the few we’ve met”
“It’s a timey-wimey thing apparently” Kate shrugged.
“Not my finest hour” the Doctor acknowledged. “Anyway, we both saved Katie’s grandfather during World War One and I made a promise to look after his wife and children if anything happened to him” she smiled softly at her oldest friend on the planet. “Which brings me to why we visited today, apart from the excellent tea and biscuits” she toasted Kate with a custard cream and nudged Yaz where she sat next to her.
Yaz was still stuck at the point where her best friend had apparently been at death’s door multiple times and considered not returning during the most recent occurrence. She was knocked out of her reverie by a nudge with a sharp elbow and turned to Kate for a clue as to why she was being nudged. “Sorry, I got a bit distracted”
Kate smiled softly “That’s perfectly understandable, it’s a lot to take in” she sipped the last of her tea. “The Doctor has just got to the reason for your visit and for some reason thinks you are to provide the answer to that particular mystery”
“Of course!” Yaz jumped up and looked towards the door, waving at a soldier who stood on guard outside. He glanced at Kate and received a nod to enter. “I gave a large black holdall to one of your mates, can we get it back please?”
Osgood pulled her mobile phone from her pocket “Did it end up with my team?” she asked. “OK leave it with me” she smiled at the soldier who’d answered her and he returned to his post. “Malcolm” Osgood waited for the noise to die down at the other end of the call. “Can you send up the black bag from the TARDIS please?” she barely heard his answer. “What on earth is going on down there?” she tried to keep her voice down but Kate could hear the pandemonium and shouting from where she sat beside her. She sighed as the blonde held her hand out for the mobile and raised an eyebrow.
“McGillop” Kate used her best schoolteacher voice and only noticed he had his end on speaker when the noise died down considerably. “Do I need to send reinforcements?” she asked sardonically.
“No ma’am” McGillop somehow managed to straighten his shoulders and bend closer to the phone, nearly tweaking his back in the process. “I’ll have one of the dogs bring up the bag and, ehm, we were wondering……” he trailed off.
“I’ll ask the Doctor and her guests” Kate sighed and handed the phone back to Osgood. “It seems the science teams have a few questions to ask you and I’ve forced them to limit it to five every time you appear in HQ so if you could indulge them I’d appreciate it”
“I’d be delighted” the Doctor preened at being in such demand.
“There won’t be any tests or….well, you know…...probing?” Graham sounded worried.
“Nothing invasive, I assure you” Kate smiled to relax him
“Why ain’t you in uniform?” Ryan asked, the question having been at the back of his mind since they’d exited the TARDIS. “You’re clearly the boss”
“I am the Chief Scientific Officer for UNIT and the London Head as well, which gives me a nominal rank of Brigadier to command the troops” Kate smiled softly. “Also you landed just as Os and I were finishing a superb lunch at our local pub, we’re both supposed to be on holiday from work this week” she pointed at her jeans and boots. “Hence the slightly more casual outfit than I usually wear”
“Science leads,” the Doctor said quietly, a proud smile on her face. “They’d have both been so proud of you” she knew that Kate would understand she was talking about her father and grandfather.
“Ma’am” Sergeant Douglas waited in the doorway, the holdall in her hand. “You asked for this?”
Kate pointed towards Yaz who was already walking towards the soldier. Gaby smiled at the attractive Asian woman. “Let me, miss” she lifted the heavy bag onto the table and stepped aside to let the young woman open it.
“Stick around, Douglas” Kate suggested quietly.
They all watched the young woman carefully pull rolled up pieces of fabric from the bag, they looked like different sized linen t-shirts. When the bag had been emptied of its contents, she dropped it on the floor and carefully unrolled one of the pieces. “This should fit you” she pushed the length of material towards Kate.
“Did you finally get tour t-shirts made?” Kate asked while pulling the linen towards her. As she sat back down she realised the linen was a backing and the item had been folded inside out.
“I told you the t-shirts were a good idea!” Ryan looked aggrieved as Graham snorted.
“What are they?” Osgood asked a similar-sized bundle was pushed towards her.
“Is that spun silk?” Kate asked, having put her glasses on and bent closer to the edge of the fabric that she’d turned over.
“Sort of” Yaz hedged slightly as she turned the last bundle in front of her inside out. “We came across a planet where the stinging insects are so ferocious that the majority of animals have developed a thick outer layer of this substance”
Graham stood and took off his jacket. “When you wear the tunics it feels a bit strange, you can actually feel the insects hit you and bounce off” he pulled on one of the bundles of fabric. It did indeed look like a tunic and both Kate and Osgood immediately moved closer to try to identify the material.
“Fascinating” Kate said after several minutes before straightening with a slight wince as her side ached from the unnatural position. “You were thinking we could increase the effectiveness of mosquito nets?” she looked towards the Doctor.
“I heard about your latest injury” the Doctor stood and walked towards Kate, using her sonic to carry out a scan. “You were lucky” she said matter of factly as she read the damage that had been sustained and extrapolated the damage that had been avoided.
“I have a good team and excellent medical backup” Kate put her glasses on the table. “There weren’t any aliens involved this time and they didn’t use alien weapons”
“We captured the weapons they were trying to sell and they used a Sontaran transport beam to attack us unexpectedly” Osgood continued.
“You were lucky” the Doctor put her hand on Kate’s shoulder, standing in front of her and making eye contact. “I thought I’d lost you when the bureaucrats shut you down and that was bad enough”
“We carried on, just had a few months relocated to Normandy so it wasn’t too bad” Kate glossed over the brief period of madness during which Her Majesty’s Government had tried to close down the UNIT presence in the UK. Upon being informed of the situation Her Majesty had called in the Privy Council to explain themselves. Nobody that Kate talked to would reveal what was said during the meeting but she got the impression that the Queen had been quite firm in her insistence that the Crown Jewels would not be exhibited at the Tower of London until UNIT were reinstated beneath its exhibits and public tours. Nothing was ever said by the Queen but at their next weekly catch-up after the intervention Kate was sure that the sherry she was given was of particularly fine quality. She’d arrived home afterward quite tipsy, much to Osgood’s delight and benefit.
“Maj always was a good egg” the Doctor grinned and seemed to be remembering various occasions to support her assertion.
“Thing is” Yaz tried to wrestle them back to the topic at hand. “The material doesn’t just stop insects” she pulled a tunic over her head and settled it around her body, securing the straps at the side to cinch it tight. “Hit me” she turned to the soldier who’d returned with the bag.
“Ma’am?” Gaby looked towards Yaz in confusion and then towards Kate.
“Please, you won’t hurt me and your hand will feel a little numb for a few minutes” Yaz planted her feet and squared her shoulders.
Gaby received a nod from Kate and reluctantly took a step forward. “You sure?” she asked of the confident woman in front of her and placed a mild punch in her gut when Yaz smiled. “Hey, that does sting a bit” she shook out her fingers and massaged her hand.
Osgood was peering at the tunic in front of her, trying to see the detail of its construction. “So this is a pelt of some kind?” she peered over her glasses before moving to stand in front of Yaz. “May I?” she made a fist and mimed punching the young woman. On the nod of approval she opened her hand and slapped Yaz’s side. “Ouch, that is super reactive” she complained, her entire hand had the most intense pins and needles that she’d ever felt.
“Perhaps we should save any further experiments for your team” Kate suggested and caught the slightest movement from the corner of her eye. “Question Douglas?”
“You think this would stop a bullet?” the soldier asked Yaz, before turning to Osgood. “Sorry, didn’t mean to remind you”
“That’s OK” Osgood waved her still tingling hand and took a deep breath. “If something is more effective than Kate’s raincoat or your body armour then I’m all for it” she smiled at the soldier before blinking and staring at her. “Wait, you gave me your body armour, that day” she finally remembered what had been niggling at her since the day of the attack at the docks. “That’s why you gave her your chocolate?” she turned to see Kate who was suddenly interested in her shoes.
Gaby had assumed an at-ease stance and was looking at a point over Yaz’s shoulder. Yaz looked between the three women and decided to save at least two of them from the uncomfortable silence “The Doctor thought that this might help, if you ever had a similar situation”
Ryan stepped forward and lifted one of the tunics “They take on the body shape of whoever’s wearing it, so it’ll be almost like a second skin”
Osgood shook her head, “We’re not done with this” she glared at Gaby before turning to the young man “Can you get us some samples of the pelt before it’s processed?”
“Ah well you see, that’s a bit difficult” the Doctor looked sheepishly at her companions and stood a little straighter “I don’t think the leader of the tribe was feeling very cooperative by the time we left”
Kate pinched the bridge of her nose and sighed deeply “I really wish I’d had that other glass of wine” she finally looked up and made a decision. “Graham and Ryan can fill the archivist in on some of the planets you’ve visited, including the ones where you’ve been run out of town” she settled her glasses on top of her head, holding her hair out of the way. “Perhaps you wouldn’t mind talking to the science teams?” Kate raised an eyebrow at the Doctor and Yaz, receiving an enthusiastic nod from the older woman. “Right, Sergeant Douglas could you escort our guests?” she smiled at the over-enthusiastic “Ma’am” she received from the soldier as she gave her an excuse to escape Osgood’s ire. “Osgood, with me” she turned and strode towards her office, assuming the brunette would follow her.
“I’m sorry ma’am” Osgood took a hit from her inhaler as Kate closed the office door and sat down behind her desk. “I shouldn’t have….” she trailed off as Kate held up her hand to forestall any further apologies.
“You don’t have anything to apologise for” Kate sighed and leaned back in her chair. “The military teams performed in their usual exemplary fashion on that day and the details are in their reports” she crossed her legs. “I asked the Colonel to keep those specific details quiet to save you from feeling guilty”
Osgood stared at her boss and felt the anger rising within her. Swallowing down the lump in her throat she took her glasses off and rubbed her eyes. “So you kept this hidden from me deliberately to stop me from getting guilty that not only were you nearly killed that day but Gaby put her own life at risk as well” she replaced her glasses and watched as Kate’s relatively relaxed posture slipped away.
“Sergeant Douglas did what was necessary to ensure you were removed from imminent danger and able to close down the bank accounts” Kate licked her lips, memories of the pain and noise bombarding her.
“Stop talking like you’re writing a report for Geneva” Osgood tried to tamp down her anger but it was a losing battle. “Do you have any idea how it makes me feel when people I like, my friends, are willing to literally take a bullet for me?” she started to pace in the small office. “Never mind that I think you’d do the same”
“The mission required….” Kate tried to explain but she’d never seen Osgood this angry before at work.
“Bugger the mission” Osgood almost shouted before blinking in surprise at her outburst. “Please, don’t make them do that ever again,” she said much more quietly, all of the fight gone as quickly as it had arrived.
“It’s our job,” Kate said just as quietly, desperate to hold her distraught partner in her arms but aware that this was definitely a work situation. “Remember when Josh sacrificed himself to let me escape from Devlin Future Tech?”
Osgood sank into the chair facing Kate and nodded, she hadn’t known exactly what her feelings for her boss were at the time but she knew she had some that were strictly non-work related. “He didn’t tell me but I read the reports when we were assessing his plastic skeleton” she could see where Kate was taking her. “I know that we’ve all been in terrible situations and that others have been killed when we survived but it’s different if my friends are deliberately putting themselves in harms way to protect me”
“Why?” Kate asked, unsure of what was at the core of Osgood’s obvious distress. “I know you don’t like to pull rank but you are one of the senior members of this organisation and we need to protect you even just as an asset”
“Asset?” Osgood repeated, trying to understand what Kate was saying. “So you’re saying that they’d do the same for anyone who was your number two for science?”
“Of course, the fact that we’re friends is a bonus” Kate swallowed. “I know it doesn’t help much but I realised quite early on that they weren’t protecting Kate or Alastair’s daughter, they were protecting Greyhound 1”
“I don’t know how to make that distinction” Osgood shook her head. “I’m sorry, this is my problem and I shouldn’t have reacted like that in front of the others”
“They must understand, they’ve clearly been with the Doctor for a while and I doubt they’ve been dropping in on knitting bees” Kate raised an eyebrow and saw the hint of a smile from Osgood.
“I need to apologise to Gaby as well” Osgood sighed and slumped in the chair. “You should just have told me that day in the hospital”
“I wasn’t really in a position to deal with an angrier Osgood, love” Kate rose and walked around her desk, leaning against it and waiting to see what her girlfriend’s reaction would be.
“I suppose not” the brunette acknowledged. “We should go and rescue the Doctor and Yaz from my team, they would happily keep them there all day”
“In a minute” Kate said quietly and stepped forward, opening her arms. “I need to hug my girlfriend and maybe even get a hug back”
“Honestly, you are rubbish at keeping this stuff out of work” Osgood sighed with a big grin before stepping into Kate’s arms and wrapping her own around her waist. “I love you Kate Lethbridge-Stewart”
Kate didn’t answer, just took a deep breath and held onto the woman she wanted to spend the rest of her life with.
Yaz and Gaby stood at the back of the room watching Malcolm try to facilitate a crowd of scientists who were all asking questions of the Doctor at the same time. “She seems to love the attention of the science groupies” Gaby smiled.
“They are her people” Yaz shrugged. “Looks like Graham and Ryan have found their own fans as well” she nodded towards the other side of the room where Ryan was acting out a scene with King Charles.
Gaby watched the two men and laughed as Ryan scowled at Graham’s interruption to explain the Witchfinders hat in great detail. “Captain Carter said Ryan called him grandad?” she turned to look at the young woman.
“Mmm Graham married his gran, she’d nursed him when he had his cancer treatment” Yaz marvelled at how well she knew the life history of her best friends. “She was killed when we first met the Doctor”
“I’m sorry” Gaby cursed her choice of small talk.
“It’s OK, they’ve bonded a lot” the young woman smiled. “All it took was a mad alien flying us around the galaxy and dropping us in the middle of the scariest things any of us has seen”
“Not something our medics advise for family counseling but if it works,” Gaby shrugged. “So what’s your connection to them?” she tried to be as casual as possible.
“I was the copper called to the first incident, saw the Doctor crash through the roof of the train and we’ve never stopped running since then” Yaz looked surprised at her explanation. “Sounds mad, doesn’t it?”
“If an alien time traveler with a spaceship asked me to travel the Universe with them I’d jump at the chance” Gaby looked back at the Doctor who was now in the middle of a circle of scientists. “Especially when she looks like that” she whispered so that only Yaz would hear.
“Oh yeah” Yaz sighed before catching herself. “I mean, the spaceship part” she tried to gather herself.
Gaby smiled softly, “You’re among friends here, and now you know that you’re rock stars to everyone that works here” she gestured around the room at excited faces. “And if you ever need to talk about anything else you can always call me” she tried for an innocent look, she really did.
Yaz looked at the young soldier beside her, finally noticing the woman instead of the uniform. “My phone has been upgraded to make interstellar calls so I might surprise you one day”
“Put your number in here” Gaby handed over her phone that already had an open contact with Yaz’s name at the top.
“You’re cheeky!” Yaz laughed but entered her number anyway and dialled herself to get Gaby’s details on her own phone.
“Just an eternal optimist” Gaby grinned as she pocketed her phone. They were deep in discussion of Yaz’s police training when Osgood arrived. The brunette pushed her hands deep into her lab coat pockets and held onto one of her inhalers in an effort to relax. “Osgood?” Gaby straightened and immediately the soldier was front and centre again.
“I’m sorry” Osgood stepped forward and wrapped the soldier in a warm hug. “The proper response for what you did that day is to thank you for protecting me”
Gaby looked around over Osgood’s shoulder and saw Kate standing in the doorway with an amused grin on her face. “It’s alright” she leaned down to whisper near her friend’s ear. “You save the world a lot and I try to save you a lot”
Osgood finally pulled back and looked between Yaz and Gaby. “I didn’t interrupt anything, did I?” she raised an eyebrow.
“Not at all, we were just discussing the fundamental differences in training for UNIT and Police trainees” Gaby reassured her.
“Uh huh” Osgood shook her head at the look of surprise on Yaz’s face. “If you’re free one night next week please come over for dinner, I believe you were promised my homemade lasagne”
“The boss was drugged and won’t remember the promise and I’m not sure what shifts I’m working next week” Gaby tried to avoid an evening where Osgood constantly thanked her, there was only so much embarrassment Gaby could take, even from her friend.
“Bring a date, that way we won’t have to talk about work at all” Kate suggested, having joined them just as Gaby was trying to wriggle out of the invite.
“Ma’am” Gaby used the generic response to a senior officer’s ‘suggestion’ that you didn’t really want to follow.
Kate shook her head and turned towards the scientists “Let me go and rescue the Doctor then we can sort out what her plans are” She waited for a natural break in the conversation and told the Doctor that she needed to talk to her in her office.
Osgood winced a little at the groan of disappointment when Kate interrupted her team and quickly corralled them all back to their labs before Kate had time to come back and remind them all that they were actually in HER labs.
“What did you do?” Yaz asked when the noise of people moving around had died down.
“Sorry?” Gaby asked, happy to stay out of the way for now.
“What did you do to earn the hug and invite to dinner?” Yaz waved at the door Kate had disappeared through. She was content to stay close to Graham and Ryan for now, not to mention the intriguing young woman who was currently blushing and looking uncomfortable.
“It’s classified” Gaby finally gave in and went with the excuse of last resort.
“Uh-huh,” Yaz smiled and crossed her arms. “Maybe I can persuade you to tell me when I call you” she winked.
This is the last chapter and I'm hoping it wraps up most of the plot points. Some of the open questions may carry forward to the next story :) Thanks for reading.
“It’ll be weird if she’s a man next time” Osgood sighed as the Tardis dematerialised from the garden of Buckingham Palace.
“It could be one of the old faces that comes next time” Kate looked confused then gave up, knowing that Osgood would follow her meaning. “You can drop me off at the main door then make sure the grounds are cleared before heading back to base” she nodded at Carter. “When you get back to the Tower make sure Sergeant Douglas isn’t being too eager on the live-fire testing for the new bulletproof vests”
“Ma’am” Osgood smiled, both at the image of Gaby’s excited fist pump when she’d been allowed to help with the testing and with memories of Kate trying one on to see if it really was like a second skin and almost invisible under her shirt and jacket.
“Stop picturing me topless in my office” Kate whispered in her ear as they settled into the back seat of the car.
“No ma’am” Osgood grinned and squeezed the hand that rested on her knee.
Kate shook her head and glanced out of the window to see the main entrance to the Palace roll into view. “Captain” she nodded at him and shot her cuffs to make sure she was suitably attired for her weekly meeting with the Queen.
“Well that’s disappointing” Osgood sighed two days after the Doctor had left with her companions. “Nobody got hurt?” she looked up at Gaby and Malcolm where they stood in front of her desk.
“No, we were firing from the ballistic shelter” Gaby assured her.
“Alright, have you forwarded the report to Kate?” she asked and stared as Malcolm and Gaby looked nervously at each other. “What?”
“Well, we thought it would be better coming from you” Malcolm explained when it became obvious that the soldier wasn’t going to answer.
“Uh-huh,” Osgood shook her head and stood, shooing them out of the room ahead of her. “I ought to make you both deliver it now but I’ll do it”
“I’ll let the Colonel know” Gaby nodded and walked briskly towards the Colonel’s office in case Osgood changed her mind. She didn’t want to be the one to break the news to Kate, especially when Osgood was in the room.
“Continue the materials analysis and ask Prof Sir Godwin Evans if his team can help with some applied analysis for us” Osgood walked with Malcolm until he headed for his lab. She slowed her walk, not sure that she wanted to be the bearer of bad tidings. However, it didn’t take long for her to get to Kate’s office and she pushed her glasses up her nose firmly before knocking on the closed door.
Kate had her call on mute so she shouted for whoever it was to come in. Smiling when she saw it was Osgood she rolled her eyes “We’ll either be done in two minutes or they’ll waffle for another two hours”
“I can come back later?” Osgood suggested hopefully.
“Let me…” Kate came off mute and informed the rest of the attendees that she had an urgent matter that required her attention. Since the call was with civil servants at the MOD she let them figure out whether she needed a toilet break or the planet was being invaded. “Right, thank you for being the perfect interruption” she smiled at Osgood and finally noticed the brunette looked worried. “Everything alright?” she hadn’t heard any explosions so assumed it wasn’t anything too serious.
“Sergeant Douglas and Malcolm have completed the testing on the natural kevlar” she leaned forward and deposited the folder on Kate’s desk.
“I’m guessing there’s a problem?” Kate didn’t reach for the report, waiting to hear from Osgood what had been found.
“The substance is definitely useful, it absorbs and repels direct strikes from anything we’ve thrown at it so far” Osgood decided to lead with the good news but couldn’t keep eye contact.
Kate sighed and sat back in her chair, crossing her arms and stretching her legs out in front of her. “OK, spit it out”
“The problem is that it literally repels whatever strikes it” Osgood chewed the inside of her cheek. “So I got a stinging sensation in my hand when I slapped it but the harder you hit it the more force it exerts to repel you”
“Which means?” Kate frowned at the outcome and the slow way that Osgood was delivering the news.
“It means that if someone fires a bullet at it the bullet ricochets back just as fast” Osgood finally admitted.
“Good god, nobody got hurt?” Kate stood from her chair and came round the desk, resting against it.
“No, Gaby and Malcolm were sensible enough to be in the ballistic shelter in the test lab” Osgood admitted. “I’m really sorry, we thought it would work”
“Sounds like it does work, just a little too well” Kate suggested and ran her hand through her hair. “So I’d be safe from bullet wounds but anyone standing near me would be in danger of flying bullets?”
“That’s about it, we’re going to finish up our analysis and it definitely works very well in close combat and knife fights” Osgood shrugged. “But how often do we come across anyone who only brings a knife to a gunfight?”
“Indeed” Kate agreed.
“I’ve asked Malcolm to pass some of the material analysis to Godwin, hopefully, his team can try to figure out the properties and it might be something we can backward engineer and improve upon” Osgood pointed to the folder “The details are in the report”
“Good job, thanks” Kate stretched her neck from side to side. “What’s the chance you could bunk off early?”
“Depends whether my boss finds out” Osgood grinned as Kate tutted and rolled her eyes. “You want to go home soon?”
“The bullet wounds seem to heal relatively quickly but the tight neck muscles and tension headaches from pointless conference calls are never-ending,” Kate said dryly and stretched her arms above her head.
“I know a cure for that” Osgood swallowed to clear her suddenly dry throat, never looking away from the patch of skin that had appeared between Kate’s top and her trousers. “In fact, I have several suggestions, perhaps we can go over the options and you can choose the best area for further study?”
“Shut up” Kate smiled gently. “Let’s leave in half an hour and I’ll cook dinner”
Osgood switched off the television as the titles rolled on the movie they’d watched. She continued to stroke through Kate’s hair, gently scratching the scalp as the blonde head rested in her lap. They had switched the lights off earlier and the room was now dark enough that she could easily consider dropping off for a nap like Kate. The blonde rather spoiled this plan by reaching up and catching Osgood’s fingers, pulling them to her lips before kissing each knuckle. “I thought you were asleep,” Osgood said quietly.
“Who could sleep through Adam’s Rib?” Kate asked indignantly before returning to nibbling on the brunette’s fingers.
“Right, so you were awake and snoring for the last twenty minutes of it?” Osgood leaned forward to meet Kate’s embarrassed gaze. “Come on, let’s go to bed” she removed her hand from Kate’s and waited to be absolved of her pillow duties.
Kate winced a little as she twisted to get up from the sofa. “I’m fine,” she breathed out and stood slowly. “Just sometimes the scar is a little tender still”
“I know a cure for that” Osgood laughed at the groan from her girlfriend.
“Is that going to be your go-to statement for the rest of the year?” Kate asked, affecting a long-suffering sigh but relieved that Osgood hadn’t panicked about her wound.
“If it works in getting you to bed quicker then I’ll use it for the rest of our lives together” Osgood had meant it as an off-the-cuff remark but stopped when Kate caught her hand. “What?” she looked down at their joined hands and back up at a suddenly stationary Kate.
“I like the sound of that” Kate whispered before stepping closer and kissing the surprise from her girlfriend’s lips.
Osgood took a second to catch her breath after the kiss, blinking before looking at Kate in confusion. “Sound of what?” she asked.
“Rest of our lives together” Kate husked and leaned in again, grinning into the kiss as the brunette wholeheartedly joined in this time.