Under the Radar
It was an unusually sunny, but cold, day for Liverpool so the dimness inside the Oxford pub was all the more startling for Ace as she stepped in from the brightness of the street outside. As the door swung closed behind her the pub became even dimmer as the door shaped oblong of light was cut off. Unmoving, she sought the person she knew would be somewhere in the pub and unsurprisingly found him behind the bar.
"Shiv," she said in greeting.
"Thea," he replied. Her eyes followed the sideways flick of Shiv's own until they caught on the man in the corner, the only other person in the pub. She wandered over and sat down in the chair on the other side of the table to the stranger, the hidden scanner in her pocket remaining silent. He didn't pay her much attention; she would have to remedy that.
"What's a nice guy like you doing in a place like this?" She asked with a smile.
"Drinking," he said tersely. "It's a CAMRA pub, what else should I be doing?"
"True," she agreed, biting back a probably inappropriate chuckle. She was here to talk, not to scare him away. Shiv chose that moment to appear with a pint for Ace; she smiled her thanks, that sort of service wasn't something she expected from the alien publican.
"You're a regular then?" The stranger asked, nodding at the pint in front of her. No doubt he'd had to do it the traditional way and get his own.
"You could say that."
"Not local though," he commented, proving that he *had* actually been listening.
"Not really," she was really becoming hard pressed not to grin at him like a maniac though that would just convince him she was a nutjob so she tried her best not to. She cleared her throat. "I kind of ended up here unexpectedly and decided to stay. The beer is a bonus." The man chuckled at that and they raised their pints in a shared toast.
"Adam Pierson," the man offered. Ace took note, the name was different, as she'd expected. Mind you, so was hers in this place and time. Mostly. There were a few people she still allowed to call her Ace, but not many.
"Thea McShane," she replied, finally letting the smile take over her face.
"You know, when you smile you remind me of someone. Can't quite put my finger on it though..." If it had been anyone else she would have just taken that for a line but in this case she was fairly certain the guy meant what he said; perhaps she should jog his memory a little…
"Maybe it was a long time ago," she said.
"A very *long* time ago." Ah, *that* got a reaction and there was no way that glare belonged to a 20 or 30-something person.
"Like about 3 thousand years ago," she said with quiet insistence. Not that she expected him to admit to it straight away. He didn't disappoint.
"Don't make me laugh; waste of good beer."
"Well it might not have been exactly 3000 years. History wasn't exactly my strong point back then. There were pyramids involved though, and a lot of running – you have nice legs by the way – oh and there was a blue box."
"A blue…" She could almost see the cogs turning inside his brain as he rummaged through his memory. "Ace. You're Ace."
"I'm a bit older and hopefully a little wiser, but yeah, I was Ace. And you have no right to be sitting as cool as you please in Shiv's pub looking not a day older than you did 3000 years ago."
"I could be a time traveller myself."
"You're not; I checked." She patted the pocket that contained the ever-so-useful scanner she'd brought with her.
"Shiv tipped me off; he has a sixth sense for these things. So what are you, Adam Pierson? Or should I say Meth…" Ace was interrupted by the sudden vice-like grip of fingers around her wrist.
"Will you be quiet?!" Pierson hissed. "I would prefer not to have *that* name bandied around in front of all and sundry. It has a lot of… associations." He let go of her wrist with an almost shamefaced expression and she helpfully neglected to point out to him that 'all and sundry' was just the two of them and Shiv, who had his own secrets. "As for what I am, it's really quite simple." He pointedly looked at his empty glass and Ace sighed, then grinned. Taking pity on him she pushed her chair back and picked up the empty glasses to take back to the bar. Shiv already had another 2 waiting and she grabbed them with a quick nod of thanks.
She gave Adam Pierson the chance to take a good few swallows of beer before she cleared her throat theatrically.
"So?" She asked. The smile he gave her was rather disarming but still managed to be mischievous and she liked the way it lit up his hazel eyes.
"I'm immortal; an accident, a freak of nature." She filed the information away; certain people might be very interested to know that there was an immortal walking the earth.
"And did you know this when we bumped into you in Egypt?"
"Oh yes; and it wasn't the first time the Doctor met me, though it *was* the first time I met the Doctor." Ah. That made a difference. If the Doctor already knew about him then it wasn't her place to make decisions over who else should know. Of course the Doctor knowing about anything automatically seemed to make it complicated even when it wasn't. She grinned.
They both burst out laughing; it felt good. She gave Shiv a surreptitious thumbs up to let him know that all was well and he didn't need to hover quite so closely. Shiv waggled one of his ears at her indicating that he'd prefer not to miss anything. She supposed she couldn't fault him, he'd lived for a long time himself and in a place that was nothing like his home world so who was she to deny him the simple pleasure of being nosy.
"Next time you see him, tell him to stop by for a drink; it would be good to talk to him again, no matter what face he's wearing. It's been a long time," Ace said.
"I'll make sure I do, though I never know whether he's going to be older or younger when I see him. Let me tell you about the time I found him in Greece… he'd not met me yet and I was more than a little irritated at the time to see a certain blue box again…"
And so the afternoon passed, with shared stories about improbable space ships and near-misses through history, while Shiv kept the beer flowing.
As she finally took her leave, Ace hoped that it wouldn't be the last time she encountered the immortal man, it had been a pleasant afternoon and she'd enjoyed being able to relax away from the pressures of running Torchwood 4 with someone else who knew the Doctor. Maybe she'd invite Adam Pierson over for the Liverpool CAMRA beer festival and they could do more of the same. There was a spring in her step as she walked back up the hill to Mason Street and the front door of Torchwood 4; not everything interesting had to be alien and she was glad to have had a reminder of that.