“Amy—” Rory said, pinching his brow in worry the way he always did, trying to step in between his wife and the two very tall, very well-muscled, very well-horned Judoon who were stopping her from going down the corridor.
“Now listen here, busters,” Amy carried on, completely ignoring her husband because she was in the right, dammit, “you can’t stop me from going down there! My friend is down there, and my way off this bloody spaceport, and I demand that Rory and I can get the hell out of here if we so choose!”
Rory had a feeling that speech would not make much sense if he actually tried to stop and break parse it into its constituent parts, but he didn’t really have the time to correct Amy’s rhetoric. The two Judoon were reaching out to take her by the shoulders and probably haul her off to somewhere unsavory (Rory had very little idea what kind of prison system the Judoon ran, but he’d spent enough time traveling with the Doctor to figure out that most alien prisons were, at best, unhygienic), and Rory had to act now if he was going to skip bailing both his wife and the Doctor out later. Again.
Just as Rory was bracing himself to snatch his wife and make a run for it, somebody else stepped in to save the day. “I’ll take it from here,” a man—a human, Rory thought, or at least human-ish-looking—snapped, holding up a small wallet for the two Judoon to read. He barely gave them any time at all before whirling around and hustling Amy off, grabbing Rory by the arm with his other hand with an efficiency that left Rory slightly breathless.
“Who are you?” Amy was shouting at her newfound hero. “What do you want? Let me see that,” she added, swiping the wallet out of the man’s inner pocket in his trench coat.
“Oi,” he protested, fairly mildly.
“She does that all the time,” Rory said. “Amy, I know I’ve told you about stealing other people’s things.”
“Yes, dear,” Amy replied absently, perusing the wallet. “You’re a detective,” she said, snapping the wallet shut and shoving it back at the man, who blinked and reflexively took it back, letting go of both husband and wife in the process. “A private detective. I wouldn’t have expected to meet one of those in the future. 1930s Chicago, maybe, but not the future.”
The private detective under discussion blinked again as he put the wallet back in his pocket. He doffed the fedora he was wearing, giving Amy a small but elegant bow. “Fitzgerald Kreiner,” he said, “intergalactic private detective, at your service. I’m the only one, that I know of,” he added, “and I’ve worked in 1930s Chicago, so you’re probably right on both counts.”
Amy and Rory stared at him.
Fitzgerald Kreiner surprised Rory by flushing red in embarrassment. He coughed a little. “Right,” he said, “you two seem to be in a bit of trouble. Mind telling me what’s going on?”
“Why do you care?” Amy shot back at him.
“Amy—” Rory started.
“It’s a legitimate question!” she said to her husband, giving him a glare. “He didn’t have to do that, he just—stepped in! Just when I was going to get somewhere too!”
“Yeah,” Rory muttered, “in prison. Again.”
Kreiner looked between them, a little smirk playing around the corners of his mouth. Amy turned her glare on him, and he quickly put the smirk away, giving her what he probably thought was his best smoothly professional look. Rory refrained from telling him his hat was on crooked. “Well?” Amy said.
“It’s my job to get involved,” Kreiner said. “Or at least,” he added reflectively, “I make it my job.” He shrugged and looked between Amy and Rory. “You’re Amy,” he said, “who are you again?”
“Rory,” Rory held out his hand, and Kreiner shook it. “Amy’s my wife, and we need to go down there,” he pointed discreetly at the corridor the Judoon had stationed themselves in front of ten minutes ago, “in order to—well, go home, I guess you could say.”
Kreiner casually put his arms around their shoulders and steered them toward an empty bench in the bustling spaceport. People of all types—Ogrons, Selachians, Ice Warriors, Cheem, Silurians, Tigers, humans, Draconians—swirled around them, making connecting shuttles, pausing in the shops to browse for souvenirs or candies, grabbing meals, saying hello or good-bye to friends and loved ones. Kreiner sat Amy and Rory down on either side of him and sat back on the bench, crossing his legs and letting his eyes wander around the hub in which they sat. If they happened to wander more frequently toward the Judoon and that particular corridor, nobody could probably tell.
“They just stationed themselves there, didn’t they?” Kreiner said. “I thought I saw them move into position.”
“Yes,” Amy grumped, and Rory wished the other man wasn’t sitting in between them so he could take her hand.
“About 15 minutes ago,” Rory added. “We’d only stepped out of our ship to stock up on some papaya-flavored biscuits the Doctor particularly likes that apparently he can only get from a chain of spaceport shops. We weren’t even here for anything important.”
“You’d arrived just before then?” Kreiner said, his eyes lingering again on the corridor. “It shouldn’t take that long for a patrol to respond to a call or system warning, not in a spaceport this size,” he went on in a mutter to himself.
“What do you mean, system warning?” Amy said. “Why would there be a warning about yet another ship landing here?”
“It depends on the ship, doesn’t it?” Kreiner said, and Amy stiffened, and Rory got that pinched-worried-brow look again. “Oh please,” he added when he looked at them, “there’s no need to get your pants in a twist, I’m sure we’ll have this sorted in no time.”
“Who the hell are you anyway?” Amy said.
“I told you,” Kreiner grinned and flipped his fedora brim down a little lower over one eye. “Intergalactic private detective, remember?” He stood up. “C’mon,” he said over his shoulder, “I just happen to know this spaceport pretty well, using it regularly; I also just happen to know another way into that corridor. Oh,” he came to an abrupt halt, and Rory snagged Amy’s hand before she could rush on without them, “you haven’t got the biscuits yet, have you.”
“We’d just located the shop on the map when we saw those, those Judoon lumber over there,” Amy said.
Kreiner sighed and changed directions. “C’mon, we’d better buy some,” he said.
“Who cares about the bloody biscuits?” Rory said, even as he obediently followed the other man.
“Your friend, of course,” Kreiner said, “wouldn’t want to disappoint him, would we?”
“I’m sorry, but making air vents this large is ridiculous,” Rory grumbled, inching along the vent behind Kreiner and Amy and holding a shopping bag full of biscuits. He wasn’t sure if he was disappointed or not that Amy was wearing trousers today. “Oxygen molecules are not that large, nor do they need this much room to—”
“Are you really going to argue over the size of an air vent if it helps us get back to the Doctor?” Amy muttered at her husband sweetly.
“Now, now, children,” Kreiner’s voice drifted back to them both, and they could practically hear the smirk, “what do we say about size and mattering?”
Rory rolled his eyes and almost got his nose smashed in by Amy’s feet. “Ooof,” he said.
“Shh,” Kreiner hissed, and both Amy and Rory immediately stilled.
“Now, really, there is no need for this whatsoever.” In the silence, they could hear the Doctor’s voice, ruffled and indignant, below and ahead of them. Kreiner had stopped them right at the corridor. “I’m just waiting for my friends, and then we shall be on our way, out of your hair—now that you have hair, exactly, or do you? It’s so hard to tell under all that armor and with those tusks—and I really don’t think there’s any need for you to charge me this exorbitant fine for parking without a permit!”
Kreiner sighed, punched out the grille over the air vent, and slid out. “A parking fine?” he said, rolling out of the way so Amy and Rory could follow. He stood up and brushed down his trench coat and trousers. “All of this over a bloody parking fine?”
“Yes, I know, it’s patently rubbish, isn’t it?” the Doctor said. “That’s the problem with the Judoon, they’re so particular about all their silly little rules and laws--” He stopped and stared at Kreiner, but Kreiner was ignoring him for the moment.
“Here,” Kreiner said, handing over a credit chip. “Use this to pay for the parking misdemeanor, and for the vandalism of public property caused by myself and my two associates here by taking out that air vent grille.”
The Judoon took Kreiner’s chip and scanned it, punching in a few other buttons. Kreiner turned to the Doctor while he waited to get his chip back. “Honestly, I was expecting at least a half-dozen outstanding warrants for extradition, treason, sedition, obstruction, and various other crimes,” he said.
“Fitz!” the Doctor said delightedly, and Amy and Rory blinked at each other. The Judoon handed Kreiner his credit chip back, lectured them all for five minutes on the importance of following the rules, and then trundled off, calling out to his mates that they could resume their regular patrol duties now. As soon as the Judoon were gone, the Doctor threw his arms around Kreiner in the biggest bear hug Rory or Amy had ever seen the Time Lord give anybody.
“You know this guy?” Amy said when the Doctor finally let Kreiner go. She punched Kreiner on the arm. “You could have told us you knew the Doctor!”
“Ow.” Kreiner rubbed his arm. He grinned at Amy engagingly. “And ruin my fun? No way.” He turned back to the Doctor. “Is that really you? I like the bowtie.”
The Doctor fondled his polka-dotted tie fondly. “Bowties are pretty cool, aren’t they?” he said, giving Amy and Rory a pointed look. They simultaneously rolled their eyes. “You must let us give you a lift,” the Doctor went on, throwing an arm around Kreiner’s shoulders. “It’s the least I can do after you sorted out my little parking misadventure, and it’ll give us a chance to catch up a bit, yeah? By the way, I really like the hat.” He plucked the fedora off Fitz’s head and carelessly dropped it on his own, squashing his manic brown hair.
Without the hat, Fitz looked younger, more sheepish. He grinned back at the Doctor. “Yeah, okay,” he said, “I like the sound of that. Besides which,” he added, “I think covering your fine blew my last bloody credit.”
“Oh, we’ll soon have that sorted,” the Doctor assured him, swinging them both around so he could unlock the TARDIS and let them all inside. “Rory, are those my papaya-flavored biscuits?”
“Er,” Rory held up the shopping bag he’d forgotten he was still holding. “Yes, actually.”
“Brilliant! Put the kettle on, would you?”
“You’ve redecorated,” Fitz said, wandering the console room. “Don’t like it.”
“Oi,” said the Doctor, swinging back and forth under the console and watching the other man walk around above him through the glass flooring. “Don’t hurt her feelings, now.”
“Me?” Fitz walked up to the console and stroked a couple handles and knobs. Rory could have sworn he heard a purr in response. “I would never do that. She’s been too good to me.”
“So you traveled with the Doctor too?” Amy said, wandering the console room at angles from Fitz, watching him closely. Rory had come back five minutes ago with the tea things, a plate piled with the Doctor’s biscuits (and some other flavors for the less flavorfully adventurous; Rory much preferred lemon-flavored, thank you very much) also on the tray. He set it all down on the stairs and sat down next to it, looking worriedly from his wife to the Doctor’s old friend. She was looking awfully—predatory.
“The odd century or two ago,” the Doctor answered for his friend. “Fitz is originally from your past, Amy, Rory.”
“Yeah, but it’s been a while since I hung out in ’63,” Fitz said. His finger was running up and down the side of the console, and the TARDIS was definitely purring. “I get around a lot these days.”
The Doctor was staring up at Fitz and the console, no longer swinging but sitting perfectly still. “Fitz,” he said, “please stop doing that, you’re giving the old girl ideas.”
Fitz looked down through the glass floor at the Time Lord, and then he grinned, removing his hands from the console and holding them up in surrender. “You still take sugar in your tea, right?” he said, walking around the console to get two cups and a plate of biccies from Rory. Amy circled around the console too, keeping it between them, and Rory sighed to himself.
“It was easy, once I figured out what key they responded to,” Fitz was telling the Doctor, having shoved the Doctor over in his swing to make room for himself. They sat very close together, and Amy was glaring down at them through the glass, and Rory put his arm around Amy’s waist to give her a comforting squeeze. “After that all I had to do was play something to lull them to sleep.”
“Oh, well done!” the Doctor clapped his hands in delight. “I should have known you were the one sorted out that particular little mess; nobody else would have thought to have used the harmonica.” His put his arm around Fitz’s shoulders again. “And that’s what you’ve been doing since I saw you last, is it? Roaming the universe and making things right?”
Fitz shrugged, looking embarrassed again, and took his hat off the Doctor’s head to place it on his own again, shading his eyes. “Doing my own little bit where and when I can, yeah,” he said, and the Doctor tipped the fedora back with one finger so Fitz would have to look him in the eye. “It’s what you taught me, after all.”
Amy suddenly looked thoughtful, and then she glanced at Rory and seemed to notice at last he was holding her. She blushed and turned away, heading for the tea things on the stairs on the other side of the console. Rory looked between her and the Doctor and his old friend, and headed for Amy, deciding the Doctor probably wanted a little privacy.
“He’s over 900 years old,” Amy whispered to Rory and handed him a cup of tea. She stared down, as if she could see the Doctor and his friend through the console on the other side of the room below them. “Do you ever wonder how many other people he’s traveled with? At least Kreiner’s not a nubile young woman,” she added in a mutter, and Rory blinked in bemusement.
“You’re not jealous, are you?” Rory asked, sitting down next to his wife. “I mean, you wouldn’t be that silly—er,” he cut himself off when she swiftly aimed a glare at him. “Amy, it would be like—like that time when we were twelve and you pushed Jasmine Sparrow into the duck pond because she was helping me with my math homework.”
“She was writing on your hand!”
“The time we were going to meet the next day to go over the homework!”
Amy glared, Rory glared back, and then she kissed him quickly on the mouth. “Fine, sometimes I’m a bit—possessive,” she said.
Rory grinned at her and kissed her forehead. “A bit,” he said, and the Doctor and Fitz emerged from under the console. The Doctor’s bowtie was a little bit crooked. So was Fitz’s hat. Rory thought about telling them both, and then decided discretion was probably the better part of valor in this case.
“Right,” said the Doctor, hopping up to the console. He ran his hands over a keyboard or two, and then took something out of the console, handing it to Fitz. “Credit chip, account fully restored—oh, there’s a little bit extra, just in case, thought you might need it, no need to thank me, I know the way you go through money, honestly, Fitz—and, yes, here we are, Franchon in the Golgathoon star system, just like you asked. What in the universe are you going to do here?”
“Client asked me to retrieve something for her,” Fitz told him, leaning against the console next to the Doctor. “It should be an easy one, I think.”
“Her?” The Doctor smirked at his old friend. “Is she pretty?”
Fitz looked away, and the Doctor shook his head. “Oh, Fitz,” he said, and gave Fitz a one-armed hug. “Take care of yourself, yes? And be brilliant, but I suppose that goes without saying.”
Fitz grinned at the Doctor—it was surprising how different he looked, when he wasn’t aiming for debonair-man-of-the-universe—and then walked around the console to shake Rory’s and Amy’s hands. “Take care of him,” he said to them both in a low voice. “He has the worse habit of getting into all sorts of trouble.”
“Oh, we know,” Rory said. “It’s like it follows him around.”
“Or he follows it around,” Amy added.
The three humans shared a conspiratorial look and then turned to stare at the Doctor.
“What?” He looked alarmed.
They grinned at each other. “It was really nice to meet you both,” Fitz said.
“And you,” Rory replied. He nudged his wife.
“Yeah, yeah,” she said, and then she said more softly, “Thanks for helping us out, back there in the spaceport.”
Fitz tipped his hat at her, but his grin was still more engaging and honest than suave and sophisticated. “My pleasure,” he said and headed for the door. He paused just before stepping out and looked back at the Doctor.
“See you around, kid,” he said, and the Doctor laughed and blew him a kiss.