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Getting the Boot

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Samantha pushed the last drawer closed with a despairing sigh.

"It isn't in there," she said. "And it isn't under the bed, and it's not in the wardrobe. There's nowhere else."

"It's got tae be somewhere," Jamie said, gesturing vaguely with his borrowed sword.

"Be careful with that, you could put someone's eye out." Samantha thumped herself on the head. "Think, Sam, think. Where in here could you hide something about as big as an apple?"

"Up the chimney?" Jamie said. "If there's a ledge or something."

Samantha lost no time in ducking under the mantelpiece.

"Jamie!" she called, her voice echoing in the flue. "You're brilliant! One missing generator-thingy, coming right up."

There was a clang. It sounded as if Jamie had dropped his sword.

"I told you to be careful with that thing..." Samantha's voice tailed off as she emerged from the fireplace. Two sentries had Jamie at musket-point, while the man behind them, dark-haired and hook-nosed, dressed in an elaborate uniform, could be none other than the Duke of Wellington himself.

"Now, what have we here?" the Duke demanded, looking his visitors up and down. "Away from your regiment, fellow?"

"I'm not—" Jamie began.

"No? Well, I daresay we'll beat the truth out of you sooner or later. And as for you..." He turned to Samantha. "You're not the first girl to sneak into my room late at night, but you're wasting your time. I don't care how badly you want a taste of my Beef Wellington. That's only for the Duchess."

"You... You..." Samantha got her voice under control. "You think I'm a groupie?"

"And I'm sure you won't be the last, either. Or perhaps you're just here to help yourself to a few souvenirs? Don't think I'll be lenient on you just because you're a girl. I'll have you thrashed across a gun-carriage for this."

"Just you try it!" Jamie struggled furiously in the arms of the guards. "You lay one finger on Sam and Duke or no Duke, I'll strike you down!"

Samantha put her hands on her hips.

"Look," she said. "You've got us all wrong. A French spy stuck a bomb in your room and we're here to get rid of it before it goes off. Here."

She held the 'generator-thingy' up, hoping that its blinking, technological complexity would impress.

"Baaah, ridiculous. Bombs are round and black with a fuse sticking out of the top." He snatched it from her hand, and set it on a table. "Guards, take her away and give her forty lashes. And that goes for the homicidal maniac with the claymore and the kilt as well."

*

Halfway along the corridor, Samantha cleared her throat.

"Jamie," she said, looking up at the ceiling. "Is that one of those spider aliens?"

"I don't —"

Samantha's free elbow met his ribcage.

"— Oh, aye. I think I can see one. A big thing with lots of eyes and legs?"

"And teeth. Poisonous, too. Look out, it's gonna get us!"

She screamed and pointed upwards. As the guard holding her followed the path of her finger, she wriggled out of his grasp and ran off in the opposite direction. Jamie, having likewise evaded his captor, was close behind. They hurried round a corner, ran past the top of a staircase, and dived into a cupboard. They listened as several pairs of heavy boots ran past.

"You're getting good at this," Jamie whispered.

"That's not all I'm good at," Samantha replied, putting her arms round him in a way he recognised all too well.

"Sam, this isn't the time! Or the place!"

"Why not? If you've got any better ideas what we can do in a dark cupboard, let's hear them."

"All right. One wee kiss, then. That's all."

*

"So we hung around in the cupboard for a bit until we were sure the guards had gone downstairs," Samantha said. "Then we went back to the Duke's room and picked up the generator again. And here it is."

The Doctor clasped his hands.

"Well done, both of you," he said. "It shouldn't take long to get this connected to the TARDIS."

"And then there'll be enough hot water for a proper bath?"

"That's right."

"You don't know how much I'm looking forward to that."

"Ye take too many baths as it is," Jamie said. "It canna be guid for you."

This was an old and familiar argument. But before it could go any further, the Doctor changed the topic of conversation.

"Sam," he said. "Are those new boots? I haven't seen them before."

Samantha merely grinned.

"They look a bit big for you." He gave her a penetrating look. "Did you steal anything from the Duke's room apart from the generator?"

The answer was clear from her expression.

He shook his head and tutted. "They aren't actually Wellington boots as history understands the term, you know. He won't perfect those for another couple of years."

"They're close enough," Samantha said defiantly.

"Ye shouldnae have taken them," Jamie said. "Now what's the Duke going tae wear on his feet?"

"He had several pairs."

"If he'd caught you he'd have had you flogged."

"Well, he didn't catch me, did he? And if he'd believed what we told him in the first place we wouldn't have needed to go back for the generator, so it's his fault anyway."

"It's still stealing," Jamie persisted.

"So what are you gonna do?" She put on her cheekiest expression. "Teach me a lesson?"

Jamie took a few steps towards her. "I reckon I might."

She turned and made a run for it through the inner door of the TARDIS. Jamie was a few paces behind her.

The Doctor returned to his generator, one ear cocked to the sounds of laughter and shrieking in the distance.

"I did say those boots were too big," he said quietly. "Far to big to run in." He paused briefly to listen, and winced. "Hoist with your own petard, Samantha."