[Timeline note: This is set in a timeline where "The Feminine Mistake", "The
Girl In The Mirror", "Dark Carnival", "Ghosts of the Past" and "Quantum
Mechanics" have occured, in that order.
In this timeline, Ayna and Sandra know of Number One's Jusenkyou Curse, and have
promised to keep it secret; Number One's met Zack, her (possible) son from the
future; everyone's survived the Carnival physically unchanged; and Adric's
discovered some interesting secrets about his family.
Now, read on...]
The 'Round's usual background chatter fell quiet when Ember Ashe walked in.
Ember instantly went on the alert.
It's the haint. It's that Goddamned haint. She's told them. Knew I couldn't trust her to keep quiet...
It's like Grandpa always used to say. "Ain't nary gain to be had from dealing with haints..."
Should never have trusted her...
'Ember!' Adric said from behind the bar. 'Hold on, I'm just coming off!'
Wait a minute... Ember thought. If she's told, then why does Adric look so excited?
Oh shit. He's not interested in boys, too, is he?
No... _no_. Adric hates Number One's guts, remember? No way he's interested in me like _that_.
Then... hey, wait a minute. It can't be...
He's got a surprise for me. For Ember.
_He's_ got a surprise for _me._
...hope he's not going to ask me to be his mistress...
Adric ducked out from behind the bar, and came over to Ember.
'Um... shall we take a seat?' he suggested, indicating an empty table. 'There's something I want to tell you.'
It is. This is it. The beginning of the slippery slope.
A strange mix of emotions were battling inside Ember.
On one side were Machoness, Disgust, Bigotry and Sheer Creeped-Outness.
On the other... was the thought of a little boy who might, or might not, turn out to be her son.
Keep your focus, Ember told herself. Keep your focus. Right now, your focus is Adric.
She glanced nervously around. 'Here? With everyone listening?'
'They already know.' Adric said. 'That's why I wanted to talk to you first, before anyone else could.'
They... already know?
They already _know_?
He has trouble even asking a girl on a date, and they _already know_?
Whilst Ember tried to puzzle that one out, she allowed Adric to lead her over to the table.
Besides, she wanted them to _see_ what happened when he told her. She wasn't quite sure what it would involve, but it'd probably begin with a chair leg shoved somewhere unpleasant for having the sheer Goddamned *nerve* to tell them about his sordid little plans before even bothering to let *her* in on it.
What kind of girl did he think she was, anyway?
She stopped herself _right_ there. No way was she going down _that_ path.
'Are you okay?' Adric asked in concern. 'You're looking a bit out of it.'
'Oh, it's okay, sugar. Just had something on my mind, is all.'
'Well, if you need to talk...' Adric said.
Ember managed a smile. 'It's okay. Just a little personal thing. Now... what was it you wanted to tell me?'
'The Alzarians are back!' Adric blurted.
Ember *stared* at him. What he'd just said was so utterly at odds with everything she'd _thought_ he'd say, he might just as well have told her he was the secret mastermind behind the Brethren of Nyssa; for one thing, she'd have found that a Hell of a lot more believable.
'I know! Isn't it great?'
'Wait. Wait. Slow down a minute, Adric, sugar.' Ember said, as she tried to assimilate what he was telling her. '_Your_ Alzarians - the Alzarians from Alzarius - they're back?'
Adric nodded. 'Yep.'
'Weren't they all in E-Space or something?'
'That's just _it!_' Ember had never seen Adric like this. The Alzarian was bubbling over with excitement, eager to tell her everything. 'That's just it. They _weren't_!'
'Then where were they?'
'They'd got trapped in potentia.'
Ember frowned. 'Ain't that one of those little ex-Soviet countries down by Iran?'
Adric shook his head. 'No, no. They were trapped in potentia. In potential. Stuck between one moment and the next, one place and the next. Unchanging, unaging, unmoving.
'But the Doctor managed to find them and get them out again.'
By now, Ember felt as if someone had just whupped her upside the head with a pistol-butt - a feeling she knew all too well.
'So, um...' She glanced around, as if an Alzarian might pop up at any moment. 'Where are they?'
'Um... well, some of them're still in Fifth's TARDIS, but some of them're looking round Nameless - they wanted to look around, get some earth under their feet. Catch up on the last twenty years.'
Ember considered that. 'So what about you, sugar? What've you been doing?'
'Me?' Adric's beam was spread across his face. 'I've been catching up with Keara - you remember her? She hung out with me and Varsh in "Full Circle".'
Ember's mind latched onto the phrase "catching up" like a man reaching for a concrete liferaft.
'Yeah? How's she's doing?' she said out loud.
Adric's grin grew even bigger. 'She had twins - a boy and a girl.'
Ember's heart stopped.
'They're her kids by Varsh.'
Ember's heart started beating again.
What was she worried about? she told herself sternly. This was Adric, the Boy Blunder, after all. The chances of him having got it on with a girl were on a par with Ember voting Democrat.
Which was a shame, a little voice murmured. He was a sweet, sensitive guy once you got to know him...
...of course, she'd seen more than one guy play _that_ card in her time.
In Adric's case, though, the attitude seemed to be genuine, at least as far as Ember could make out...
Oblivious to Ember's current - and rather surreal - state of mind, Adric plunged onwards, his grin threatening to split his face in two. 'I'm an uncle! Can you believe that? I'm an uncle!'
'Cong... congratulations, Adric, sugar.' Ember managed to get out. 'You gotta be pretty proud of them, yeah?'
'Yeah.' Adric's eyes were far away, focused on something that perhaps only he could see. 'They're cute kids, really cute... Rai, that's the boy, he's Keara's spitting image. Ria - she's the girl - Keara says she looks like me, but...'
'But?' Ember prompted.
'But...' Adric took a deep breath. 'But, personally... I think she takes after Varsh.'
Ember caught the tone of his voice, edged with both pain and pride.
'Did he...?' She searched for the right words. 'Did he ever...?'
Adric shook his head. 'No. No. He'd... he'd gone Beyond before they were born.'
He stopped short then.
'I think... I think...'
'Go on.' Ember said softly.
Adric's gaze was distant, lost a world away, a time long gone - or perhaps somewhere closer to home. 'I think he would've been a great father, you know. He would have loved them - loved both of them.
'He was like that.'
Ember rested a hand on his. 'I know, Adric honey. I know.'
It was Adric's turn to manage a smile. 'Thanks, Ember. Um, sorry about that...'
'It's okay, sugar. It _is_ a lot to take in...' Something occured to Ember then. 'You think... you think maybe I could meet them sometime?'
'Sure!' Adric said, the grin returning full-force. 'I'm sure Keara wouldn't mind - I told her all about you, and she said she'd love to meet you some time. And I don't think the kids would mind, either. I'll talk to Keara and see when we can meet up.' He glanced at her then. 'Um... is that okay?'
'That'd be great, Adric.' Ember said, returning his grin.
Much to her own surprise, she found she meant it.
Later that evening...
Number One sat on her bed, thinking about what Adric had told her.
She knew she was supposed to inform Numbers Five and Six of what had happened, so they could allow for the Alzarians' presence in their plans - and she would, somewhere along the line.
Except telling two back-stabbing, treacherous, worthless pieces of _shit_ who wanted her dead one way or another - who knew she knew, and knew she couldn't do anything about it - made the gorge rise in her throat.
And Adric had been so excited about it... so _happy_...
The Alzarians would soon know - and it _was_ the Alzarians, Number One was pretty sure of that. The Doctor usually succeeded at what he set out to do - about the whole complex situation with Adric and Nyssa, assuming Adric hadn't brought it up already.
Now... Adric might be Outler - an outcast from the Alzarian community - but, somehow, Number One couldn't see many of them approving of the murder (several times over) of one of their own.
Not that they could _do_ anything about that... but she had a feeling that the Alzarians would weigh in on Adric's side - if only to do something about those repeated deaths.
Another force in the battle.
And if they accepted Adric's... Adric's _relationship_ with Ember... well, that'd further Operation: Cupid's Arrow, wouldn't it? Another group who'd accept the relationship, which meant less likelihood of them approving of a relationship with Our Lady, which certainly wouldn't help any potential relationship between Adric and Our Lady.
Plus it meant she'd be in a position to foil any plans the Alzarians might lay against the Brethren.
The question was, the tiny little voice in the back of her mind said, whether she _wanted_ them to accept the relationship.
Oh, she'd foil their plans - she was still loyal to Our Lady, after all, and anything that might smooth things between Adric and Our Lady was to be stymied whenever she got the chance.
It wasn't personal. It _was_ her duty, after all.
...did she _want_ people to accept it?
Her hands tensed.
She'd seen the conflicting emotions at work within him: the excitement, the pride, at being an uncle, the pain when he spoke of Varsh, spoke of his brother, the regret that Varsh would never see his children...
...could there have been hope for children of his own there? Hope for... for Zack?
Or had that been a product of Number One's own battered mind?
A glimpse of a future that might be, that might come to pass - of course, Outside, that didn't mean it _would_ come to happen, only that it might.
And it didn't mean Zack had come from _this_ set of timelines...
But even so... somewhere within Number One, there was the tiniest bit of hope that somewhere, there was a timeline where Zack would be born, where she'd have a son.
Even if it wasn't this one.
She'd told Adric - no, _he'd_ told Adric - that he'd try to keep the innocent bystanders out of this.
And that included Adric's nephew and niece, no matter what Lucas or Catbert said about it.
Wasn't about to let them get sucked in, no way.
She had no illusions about that - the good Sheriff had no compunctions on that score, not when it came to getting innocents involved.
But there _was_ a place where they'd be safe, wasn't there? A place where they could make even Spamites their playthings...
She allowed herself a grin at that. The Sheriff might think he was all that in the evil stakes... but he'd never been up against a horde of toddlers, had he?
Even if Buck tried blackmailing her with them... they'd be safe.
She'd mention it to Keara, if Adric hadn't already. The least she could do, after all...
...since she might be their aunt one day.
AAAAAHH!! WHAT THE HELL WAS SHE _THINKING_?!?
Number One winced. She wasn't up to any of this, not now...
She sighed, and let herself flop back on her bed.
When had her life turned into a cesspit?
Meanwhile, not too far away, plans were being hatched - plans that could end up shaking This Time Round to its foundations (not that this was an infrequent occurance, what with all the heavy artillery around the place).
Not particularly _intelligent_ plans, mind you, but what would you expect from the WANKERs?
'All right, men!' Darren declaimed. 'It's time for Operation: Infinite Babeage!'
As he did so, his pointer jabbed at a sketchpad mounted on a hastily erected easel, on which the words "Operation: Infinite Babeage" had been scrawled in black felt-tip.
He allowed himself to savour the words. He'd spent a whole _hour_ coming up with the name.
Man, this must be what it feels like to be a leader!
Eric raised a hand.
'Yes?' Darren said, directing his pointer at Eric (narrowly missing poking his fellow WANKER's eye out in the process).
Eric lowered his hand. 'What's "Operation: Infinite Babeage"? I thought the plan was to go after that babe in the street - you know, the one who said she liked Adric - and convince her to join WANKER.'
Darren's face twisted at mention of the infidel. Unfortunately, on him, it looked like severe constipation. 'That's what the plan's _called_, Eric.'
'Oh.' Eric said. 'So what _is_ the plan?'
Darren harrumphed. 'Well... failing the best efforts of our agents to locate the girl in question, I have devised a new plan to determine her whereabouts!'
(Their best efforts had mainly involved trumping around the little town peering at girls in the hope that one of them might be the babe in question until they'd been chased out by a group of girls enraged at the four obnoxious perverts who kept staring at their breasts and drooling.
None of the other WANKERs saw fit to mention this, however.)
'Observe.' Darren flipped over the top page of the sketchpad to reveal the drawing underneath. 'This-' The pointer jabbed at the figure of a woman whose breasts were of a size normally unattainable without major implants. '-is our target, henceforth known as the Babe.
'This-' The pointer moved on to indicate a smaller figure, the only concession to her femininity being the skirt she was wearing, 'is Subject A, the Babe's cousin. Subject is a known associate of the Babe.
'This-' The pointer now indicated another small figure, this one with what might have been, in the right light, taken for wings, 'is Subject B, tentatively identified as a bird girl. Subject B's relationship to the Babe and Subject A is unknown, but has been observed in close proximity to both the Babe and Subject A.
'As previously observed, we have been unable to locate the Babe.
'We _have_, however, been able to locate Subjects A and B - both are known to attend H. G. Wells High School.' Darren paused. 'Unfortunately, we have so far been unable to trail them.'
The WANKERs shared a mutual shudder.
(_This_ was because the female student body of H. G. Wells High School had caught wind of the four obnoxious perverts who'd been hanging round town recently.
Consequently, when the WANKERs turned up by the school, the girls were ready for them.
Despite many well-reasoned arguments from representatives of the student body, they eventually decided not to expose them to "Star Trek V: The Director's Cut". They weren't that sadistic.
They went for "Dude, Where's My Car?" instead.
The WANKERs managed to walk away with nothing more serious than nervous twitches, haunted expressions, and a tendency to jump whenever someone shouted 'DUDE!!'
They were among the fortunate ones.
On a related note, as a side-effect of their repeated exposure to bad movies, the WANKERs were now living examples of Doctor Clayton Forrester's thesis that bad movies really _could_ break the human spirit.
Sadly, the WANKERs weren't in a position to appreciate how valuable this made them to the mad scientist community at large, and wouldn't have cared even if they _had_ known.)
'With all leads having trailed off, completion of our mission seems impossible.' Darren continued. 'I have, however, after much thought, managed to come up with a plan which will enable us to find the Babe. Hence "Operation: Infinite Babeage".'
Eric stuck up his hand again. 'Er... ask Bill the Cat to follow the Subjects?'
'Eric, Eric, Eric...' Darren shook his head in despair at his fellow WANKER's lack of vision. 'The point of this is to show Bill - and Number One - that we _are_ capable of doing things on our own, without help from them. Which is where "Operation: Infinite Babeage" comes in.'
'So what _is_ "Operation: Infinite Babeage"?' Tyson asked.
'I'm glad you asked.' Darren said, inadvertently jabbing the pointer in Tyson's shoulder. 'What we're going to do is...'
He flipped over the sketchpad again.
The other WANKERs looked at the words written on the page now revealed.
Then they looked at Darren, brimming with pride.
Then they looked at the page.
Then at Darren again.
'"Hire a private detective".' Tyson said finally. '_That's_ "Operation: Infinite Babeage"? Hire a private detective?'
Darren looked distinctly hurt. 'I spent _ages_ trying to come up with that! And anyway, I don't see _you_ doing any better!'
Tyson had to admit this was true. Which didn't mean he was going to let Darren get away with it, though.
'What happened to "showing them we're capable of doing things on our own"?'
'Well, we _are_!' Darren protested. 'Taking the initiative. Delegating authority. That sort of thing!'
Tyson had the distinct impression this _wasn't_ what they'd had in mind.
Still, he had to admit they hadn't got anywhere on their own...
David stuck up his hand. 'Um... how're we gonna pay them? After all, we do need to ask Bill about our budget... and remember what happened the last time we took money from the petty cash...'
A mutual shudder went through the collected WANKERs.
'He who awaits in the pauses between the words...' Darren muttered, before pulling himself together. 'No need. I managed to find a private detective who'll work for the price of fish.'
'Yeah? What is he, a penguin or something?' David scoffed.
Darren stared at him. 'Yeah, he is. How'd you know?'
'A _penguin?_' Tyson repeated.
'Frobisher...' Tyson breathed. 'You went and asked Frobisher.'
Darren nodded again.
'_Frobisher?_' David repeated. 'The _penguin?_'
'Didn't I just say that?' Darren said. '_Yes_, the penguin.'
'Actually, he's a Whifferdill.' Tyson said.
'Yeah, well, he sure _looks_ like a penguin!' David hmphed. 'And I don't care if he _is_ a mesomorph or whatever it is, he _still_ looks stupid!'
'...But that's _it!_' Tyson said. 'He _is_ a mesomorph! He can go undercover and, and ask our subjects about the Babe!'
Darren grinned. '_Exactly_. And when I asked him what it'd cost to hire him, he said he'd already got money coming in - but he'd take it anyway, 'cause it sounded intriguing, and he'd do it for a token fee and expenses. _I_ said I'd have to talk to you guys before I hired him, and then _he_ said most of his fee would go on fish. _Fish_.' He put on his best 'sly and devious' expression, which only served to further the impression he had something to hide, and drew the other WANKERs into a conspiratorial huddle. 'And _that_ means Bill never needs to know about him!'
David, Eric, and Tyson looked at each other.
'He's hired!' they said in unison.
Elsewhere, in a place that was simultaneously as far away as the other side of the Universe, and as close as the thickness of a shadow, Anya - aka the Babe - felt a shudder run up her spine.
Which was a good trick, especially considering she didn't actually have a spine.
Not in a physical sense, anyway.
Xeffy paused as she was putting her pyjamas on. For a moment there...
'Xeffy?' Ayna said. 'Are you okay?'
Xeffy managed a smile. 'I'm fine. Probably just a chill or something.'
'Oh. You sure?' Ayna said.
Xeffy nodded. 'I'm fine. You go ahead.'
Ayna looked at the bunk bed the two of them shared-
She hung in midair for a moment, grabbed the headboard of the top bunk, and flipped herself over onto the bed with a *whumph*.
'Showoff...' Xeffy murmured, grinning, as she climbed into her own bunk.
'I _heard_ that, Xeffy.' came a voice from the top bunk. 'Remind me: who's the one who sings Britney Spears songs in the shower again?'
'You're never going to let me forget that, are you?' Xeffy said in mock despair.
'Nope.' Ayna said.
'This from the girl who writes Harry Potter fanmail on the sly.'
'Hey, just because I wrote him _one_ letter...'
'Uh-huh. I've seen that autographed poster you keep hidden where you think I won't find it.'
'So? Nothing wrong with that.'
'Uh-huh. Who doodles "Ayna + Harry" on her exercise books?'
'So I've got a crush on Harry. While we're on the subject, why don't we talk about you and your thing for Clark Kent in "Smallville"?'
'Hey! I do _not_ have a "thing" for him!'
'Oh yeah? Who starts drooling whenever he comes on screen?'
'I do _not!_'
'Oh, you know you do _so!_'
'...Hey! I am _not_ doing an Adric!'
'Never said you were, Xeph...'
'...I despise you. You do know that, right?'
'Love you too, Xeph.'
'Well, yeah. I mean, you've got to get ready for tomorrow, right? Got a long day tomorrow.'
'Ready for what?'
'Well, all the boy-chasing. I mean, that's _gotta_ take it out of you...'
'...I despise you. You do know that, right?
'Anyway, I don't chase them, they chase me!'
'Well, _that's_ true... I mean, there _was_ that mini-riot right around the Christmas dance...'
'Look, all I said was "Does anyone want to sign my dance card?". I didn't even use my gift! How was_I_ supposed to know they were going to react like that?!'
'Uh-huh. Sure, Ay. Sure.'
'Besides, I didn't exactly see _you_ struggling to fight off _your_ horde of admirers...'
'...Heh. Did you see the look the teen Rani shot me when Tony Master started chatting me up?'
'Oh yeah. I thought she was gonna feed you to her pet "mice" on the spot!'
'And did you see when she hauled him off for that "private discussion" of theirs afterwards?'
'_Oh_ yeah. I don't know what happened, but he couldn't walk straight for a _week_.'
'Nah, he always walks like that.'
'Thank you, thank you, I'm here all night. But seriously... do you ever think there might be more to life than cute boys?'
'Sometimes. But then I think: what the Hades, it's about time we got _our_ fair share of drooling in. After all, it's only fair.'
'That and seeing the expressions on their faces as they try to pretend they're not listening in to see if we're talking about them.'
'Well, that goes without saying...'
'Speaking of which... Did you _see_ the expression on Turlough's face?'
'Oh yeah. It was _priceless_. Especially when he found out we were talking about my parrot!'
'Well, that's what we told him, anyway...'
Sandra eyed Kari suspiciously.
The parrot eyed her back.
Sometimes, she really had to wonder if "Kari" was really the most appropriate name for this bird.
Then again, she understood why Ayna had called the African Grey "Kari" in the first place - her own homage to the Grey Steward of old.
When you looked at it like that, it _was_ appropriate...
_Now_ she got it!
Trust Gray to end up with a name like _that_. Knowing him, it was even odds whether it was accidental or intentional.
'Knock 'em dead, kid!' Kari squawked, apparently on general principles.
Sandra glared at him again. She had the distinct impression the bird was smarter than he let on.
Given how smart he was already, it wouldn't surprise her...
Still, it'd soon be time for her to drift off to the 'Round...
Sandra grinned wickedly.
'Do you want to come?' she asked Kari.
The parrot tipped his head on one side, as if considering.
Then he nodded.
'Okay.' Sandra floated over to the telephone, and the notepad beside it. 'Just let me leave Ayna a note - she'll get worried if you're not here in the morning.'
'Wouldn't want that!' Kari agreed.
'No, we wouldn't...' Sandra murmured.
She caught Kari's eye. 'You're sweet on her, aren't you?'
Kari suddenly seemed very interested in grooming himself.
Sandra chuckled, setting the notepad down. 'Okay, I'll let you off that one. Come on, then.'
Besides, it wasn't as if TTR had a "No Pets" policy, despite the Proprietor's frequent moans about cat hair...
She floated into the hallway, and opened the door.
Kari spread his wings, leaped off his perch, and flew outside.
Sandra followed him, pausing only to close the door behind her. She didn't need to worry about Kari flying off, at any rate - he always knew exactly where he was going.
She wondered if Keara or the other Alzarians had mentioned her - or Katarina's - role in rescuing them.
It was entirely possible - if someone asked, they might well mention the girl and the ghost who'd been there when the Doctor had rescued them. But really, all they'd been there for was as inspiration and a helping hand.
Which didn't rule out someone giving them a little respect... or blame...
It would be nice, either way, though...
Sandra grinned to herself at the image. Katarina could get right behind _that_, she was sure.
The Alzarians had been more than a little stunned - from _their_ perspective, twenty years had passed in little more than an eyeblink, and a timejump like _that_ was pretty unnerving, especially for someone unprepared for it it.
Then again, from their perspective, it might as well have been a new place for them to visit - from what Katarina and the Doctor had suggested, they'd left before the 'Round had been created, so _all_ of this would be new to them.
She wondered how Nyssa was going to react - Adric had got _his_ people back, true, and that had to remind Nyssa of what _she'd_ lost...
But then again, he _was_ an Outler, which didn't exactly place him in the highest esteem, so she might find it darkly funny... or she might find herself fighting down any twinges she might have had about her own personal dreams...
Second-guessing Nyssa's psychosis usually turned out to be a sucker's bet, though. She'd have to wait on that...
Whether it reminded Adric of what _he'd_ lost, though...
Sandra closed her eyes.
She wanted to tell him about Varsh - wanted to, but couldn't.
He thought Varsh had gone Beyond long ago - leave it at that. Leave it be.
Leave it be.
The Doctor had explained to the Alzarians what had happened - or at least what had happened from _his_ perspective.
When they'd asked about going back, doing those twenty years over again, he'd hemmed and hawed, before finally saying that while they _could_ try it, there was a good chance that their coexistence at the same time - if not in the same _timelines_ - as their existence in the Mists could have unusual effects. He'd never seen this before, so he couldn't say whether there _would_ be... but still...
The Deciders had considered it, and said they'd think about it, which roughly translated as: they were going to drop the idea and hope everyone forgot about it.
For now, the Alzarians seemed happy enough where they were.
She grinned in the darkness. Nameless was going to be seeing a lot of new Alzarian tourists over the next few days, she could bet on that - but then again, it _was_ a tourist town...
Although she still wondered whose bright idea it'd been to call it Nameless...
Kari screeched angrily from up outside the 'Round.
Something cawed back at him.
The sound snapped Sandra back to reality. If he'd got into a fight with something...
By the time she caught up to him, he was perched on the car park's wall, whilst whatever he'd been fighting was long gone, leaving only some large black feathers behind.
'What was _that_?' she demanded, not really expecting an answer.
He looked at her, before replying:
'A crow?' she repeated.
Kari nodded. 'Demon crow.' He paused. 'Familiar crow.'
'Who was he?' Sandra asked.
Kari shook his head. 'Not that kind familiar. Other kind. Demon kind.'
Anywhere else, with most other parrots, most other people would have shrugged that off.
But this was Outside, where there was a god's champion working as a part-time waitress and a demoness working at a day care centre.
And Sandra wasn't about to shrug something like that off - not given her _own_ experience in such matters.
And Kari wasn't exactly a typical parrot. If he said it had been a demon - a familiar - he was probably right.
Could this be something to do with the Tods? she wondered. If _that_ was about to start up again...
She felt revulsion _twist_ inside her at the thought.
Seeing Sandra's expression, Kari added 'But I know if I see him again. Keeping eye out now. Not gonna let him get away so easy next time.'
'Thank you, Kari.' Sandra said, with more than a measure of relief.
'Good boy?' the parrot wondered.
'Good boy.' Sandra told him.
Kari visibly preened.
'Come on,' Sandra said, barely managing to conceal her smile at the parrot's primping. 'We've got a long night ahead.'
Kari snapped to attention. 'You _betcha!_'
Sandra shook her head as the parrot flew in ahead of her, still grinning.
She really did wonder about that bird sometimes...
Disclaimer: Adric is the BBC's, TTR was created by Tyler Dion, Number One and the WANKERs are BKWillis's, used with approval (thanks, Brad), and Anya, Ayna, Xeffy, Sandra and Kari are mine.
Copyright 2003 Imran Inayat