C2 In the midst
'Lily' dragged me through the chaotic streets of Ombar. Oh, sorry, that’s the town's name. You probably know that, if you're here. It's not a huge town, but big enough to get lost in. And yet she seemed to know exactly where she was going, even though I could assume she was following Sarah and I think I'd remember if I'd ever seen Sarah here before.
She lead the way to a rougher part of town then even I was used to, and then down a little side-street. I felt suddenly afraid, in case this girl was behind some of the violence I had seen today. It couldn't have all been Sarah, I told myself, and I wouldn't believe it.
But she just dragged me to a blue box, nestled comfortably between the bins and a wall at the end of the alley. A cat basked in a sliver of sunlight atop it.
"Hang on a tick." Lily told me, and vanished through the doors. I wondered what she could possibly do in so small a box. I shuffled, and I waited. Finally I became impatient, and pushed the door myself, "Excuse me...?"
It was quite dark, and so I stepped inside.
I wasn't prepared for what I saw. Of course, I thought, the box, it must have been an entrance to the building it was backed up against. A frontage of some sort. But what a building. The old factory building must have been gutted to create this space. Doors leading off: a balcony, a kitchen, and stood in the middle of the room, the most bizarre thing. Part antique, part mechanical. I'd never seen anything like it.
I was gazing into the dark ceiling, wondering what den of people I'd stumbled upon, when there was a movement. A figure bounded to the centre of the room, all velvet and curls. I was taken aback, and crept a little nearer. At first I couldn't tell if it was a man or a woman, so delicate was the entire image. Then they turned towards me, and smiled, and I found myself smiling back.
"Er, hello sir." I said, "A Miss Lily brought me here..?" Those eyes lit up, "Oh!" He grinned, "Yes, of course!" There was a pause before he spoke again, in which he flicked a switch on the beautiful piece of furniture, "Well!" he clapped his hands together so hard that it echoed in the vaulted room, "Let's have some tea, shall we?"
"Oh, thank you." somehow I remembered my manners, "I-I'm Jay. Jay Franklin."
"How do you do? I'm the Doctor." He smiled, offering a hand, which I gladly shook, "Doctor? Doctor of what?"
"Oh you know this and that." He smiled, before leading me off to the kitchen in search of tea. I looked around the kitchen as he pulled the teapot from the oven and cups from the cupboard under the sink. He reminded me of a magician I'd been to see as a child, hanging on to grandfather's hand.
"Er." I said, as the tea was poured some minutes later and I was seated at a polished table, the surface scratched with use, "I don't suppose Lily happened to mention WHY she dragged me all way here?" I took a sip of my tea, which was good, but could use sweetening, just a little.
The Doctor looked at me, seemingly in thought. Then he reached behind my ear and produced a sugar cube. I blinked at it, and stared at him, wondering how he knew. He just smiled, "Don't tell Ichigo I can do that." And dropped it lightly into my cup.
"Ichigo?" I asked. He smiled disarmingly. I forgot my question, looking at that face. At length I glanced back at the table, "Lovely finish. Needs a bit of repair though."
"The girls are rough with the furniture." He smiled, "Ichigo particularly. She doesn't appreciate some things." He seemed lost in thought.
"You should meet Keyla, the girl I work with, she learned all this stuff from her dad, she restored this..." I tailed off. Something had hit me.
"Yes?" The Doctor was looking straight at me. I swallowed my mouthful of tea and dropped my eyes, "I-I should have checked. There was an explosion at work, just before Lily found me. Keyla might be dead. Everybody might be. I didn't even stop to check." My hands shook. The cup rattled slightly. Then a cool hand steadied them, "Explosions?"
I nodded, "Yeah. There was one, and it threw me over the back wall. Then when I woke up I looked for my phone, and then Sarah handed it to me. Then there was the second. She might have started that one off."
I glanced at those eyes, "Yeah. I knew her, a long time ago. I thought she was dead. Everybody did. Her commanding officer signed the notification for her mother - she ID'd the body. But I suppose - I mean, she worked for the Time Agency, she could have come from the past, from when she was alive."
"Oh?" The Doctor glanced quizzically at me, "I try to believe the impossible as well as the possible." He reached for what was obviously a biscuit barrel, and frowned, "I'd offer you a biscuit but somebody's had them all." He looked disappointed.
"Doctor?" came a call. I turned my head as a blonde boy with vivid lilac eyes entered. He was pretty, I thought, but really not my type. I felt a little put out when he sauntered up and put an arm around the Doctor's shoulder, "Oooh, company." He smiled widely, then reached into the open biscuit barrel, "Oooh, crumbs!" He stood suddenly in front of me, eyeing me curiously, "Hey, Ichigo." He offered a hand. I noted the crumbs still on it, and looked away. So this was the elusive Ichigo. One of the Doctor's 'girls'. Ah, that sorted it. This must be his partner. For a boy, he looked pretty girly.
Ichigo didn't seem offended by my silence. In fact, he examined his hand, and licked the crumbs off it seductively, "So who are you then, gorgeous?"
"J-Jay." I stammered, uncertain how to take the compliment. There was absolutely undisguised lust in the boy's eyes as he bent to look at my face, then turned my head gently to one side, sniffed, and licked behind the ear the Doctor had produced the sugar cube from.
I jumped out of my chair with a squeak. The Doctor was tutting, "Ichigo, please, how do we behave around company?"
The lad leapt into his lap with a giggle. The Doctor seemed unshaken by this, and stood. Ichigo let go and bounded ahead of us as we returned to the main room.
"So..." the lilac-eyed giggler was smiling again, leaning on the antique in the middle of the room, "Are we going out then?"
I was about to misinterpret him when Lily appeared from a side door. She was wearing a blue jumper over her yellow dress now, "I took a look but Max doesn't want to leave Xan just yet. Guess it's just us." She smiled. Ichigo grinned at the girl, and she grinned back. They were the same shade of blonde - it occurred to me they could be brother and sister. I looked back towards the Doctor. He was suddenly serious, "Can you take us back to where the explosion happened?"
"Are you the police?’Cos I gave a statement when I-"
"No no no," The Doctor shook his head vigorously, and his chestnut curls bounced invitingly, "Just an interested party. And you should check on your colleagues." It seemed a sensible plan, so I agreed. I think against those eyes in the candlelight, I would have agreed to anything.