Graham took a deep intake of breath as he sat down beside Agent O, the evening before had put both of them as well as The Doctor on an apprehensive edge, but they still felt like they could brave whatever was to come, and they trusted the reassuring light of morning more than the distrust and danger of night.
“How’s Yaz?” said O as he handed Graham a cup of tea
“Ryan’s outside with her now, she looked pretty shaken, here’s hoping his company does her some good, but if that don’t work, we’ll have to put a group effort in. That’s what we do you know, we support each other”
“One big happy family” O said under his breath
Graham got the distinct impression that O muttered this with some degree of envious resentment; he wasn’t quite sure where he had gotten it from, but it wouldn’t hurt to ask down the line.
However, in this instance O was quick to ask his own questions.
“How long have you known the Doctor, Graham?”
“Well it’s a tricky question that, see things never really happen in a straight line with the Doc”
Graham sensed O wanted to share more than what he was already telling, he knew things of The Doctor, things he felt he needed to know. A part of him also felt slightly frustrated he hadn’t taken the lead with the inquisition.
“Why? How much do you know about her?”
“A bit,” ha “our paths crossed very briefly once, when she was a man.”
Graham almost choked on his tea.
“When she was a what?” he said aloud
“Has she never mentioned that?”
“Yeah, yeah she did. The night Grace, my wife, died, when we first met her. She claimed she’d been a white-haired Scotsman. I thought it was some wild random joke only she got, but obviously there was more to it”
“You seem surprised” said O.
“I suppose, shouldn’t I be?”
“Well, it IS current year” O elaborated.
“Oh, well, forgive me then, I come from a time where news like this would level anyone of my generation’s upbringing. It’s quite a lot to take in, especially since I…”
He trailed off, almost letting something slip to O that he preferred to keep private.
“..Never mind, not important”
“You got any idea where she’s from?” O asked next.
“Well, we’ve tried to ask, but she just changes the subject, yeah.”
O’s eyes glanced in the direction of a stack of folders and files perched on the top of a shelf.
“I’ve got everything up there, anything you want answered about The Doctor can be found up there, all the Intel I could gather while working at MI6. It can be all yours Graham”
“Isn’t that all confidential? Official secrets act and all that?”
“Come on, I won’t tell” O said.
Graham now sensed that O was pressuring him, almost mischievously, like they were two errant schoolboys who had gotten their hands on the answer to a really tough exam and were daring the other to take a peek at the answers.
“What do you say Graham? Do you want to take a look?”
Graham took another sip, stared at the shelf, teased he’d get up out of the seat, and then stopped to process what he was considering.
Finally, he turned back to O and shook his head.
“I’d rather she tell me, when she’s ready”
“Quite right, you’re a good catch for her Graham”
“Eh? The Doc? I suppose she’s alright” Graham replied, before mentally cursing himself.
He hadn’t responded with something that definitively took issue with what O had suggested, and now he was going to pounce on that to further an already complicated conversation.
“She’s quite the looker”
Graham smiled, but the look on his face told O that pursuits like that just weren’t meant to be.
“Oh I don’t think along those lines, I’m old enough to be as much her granddad as I am Ryan’s’”
“Then you don’t know the stories?”
“She’s got a reputation; we learn something about that every day around her”
“Yes, but if you did read the files I have on her, you’ll find she’s older than she looks, even older than you. Age needn’t be an issue with you two. You’re both the oldest and the wisest of your little group”
“Oh come off it, me and her? Only in a fantasy world”
“Strange, that…does appear to be something you’re both currently qualified for”
“I’m not a well man O; I’ve had my share of scares with the big C”
“Oh I’m sure C was just splendid around you”
“The other ‘C’, cancer” Graham corrected him.
“Oh, but of course, my apologies”
“Yeah, I’m not out of the woods with it either. Me and Doc couldn’t have anything, if we got too attached, she’d end up saying goodbye to me just as soon as she learned how to listen”
The Doctor suddenly burst out of the TARDIS carrying a large jug of liquid.
“Come on you two, everyone outside. Lot’s to catch up on. I made ice tea. Possibly” she said, showing the contents to Graham proudly, before dashing towards the front door, beckoning Graham and O to join her.
“So considerate” O said.
“Ice tea? Grace loved to take that while we were abroad. Haven’t drank it since she passed. How did she know?”
“Maybe she does listen once in a while…perhaps she even made it to impress you, let you know just how lucky she is to have you in her life” O said.
Graham gave him a piercing glance, more perturbed than ever with what he was implying. This was not the kind of conversation he had desired in the morning, nor the kind of feelings he wanted to confront.
“Just saying” he concluded.
“O, not a whiff of this conversation reaches her ears, you got that?”
“Absolutely” he said.
The two got up, ready to head outside, Graham did one last look at the files on the shelf, then turned and joined The Doctor.
O put his right hand on Graham’s shoulder.
“Rest assured Graham, nothing of what I said was meant to make you feel uncomfortable, it’s just…when one comes to understand The Doctor like I do, you tend to see more of what makes her so…satisfying”
“You got something for her yourself? I know my pulse can race, but you’re acting like your own beat is a bit of a beast around her”
“Oh it very much is…it’s like a drumbeat” O said.