The husky bellow pulled her up on her toes and spun her around. Her first impulse was, "I didn't do it!" But a quick rundown of recent activities showed she hadn't done anything. She hadn't even brewed up any more Nitro Nine, she still had some left from the last batch.
Hitching her backpack more firmly on her shoulder, she trotted around the side of the Tardis to the origin of the bellow.
The Doctor was standing, arms crossed, halfway sunk in quicksand not three meters from the Tardis doors.
She bit her lips, grinning. "Yeah, Professor?"
He glowered at her from under his hat. Even his umbrella was half sunk in the goop.
"Would you be so kind, Miss McShane, to lend me a hand?" he said in the quietest, most snarky voice possible.
Her eyebrows rose, her eyes sparkled. That didn't sound like him at all. He sank another inch.
He threw his eyes to the heavens. "Don't just stand there, give me a hand!" he said in a far more familiar and impatient tone.
Ace felt her stomach bounce on suppressed laughter. She dropped her backpack off one shoulder and bent and rummaged in it. She pulled out her cable ladder, attached the hook to the Tardis door handle, and rolled the rest out to him.
"There you go, Professor." She set one foot on the rung nearest her to anchor it, and cocked her head at him, her ponytail swinging.
He hooked the end of the ladder with his umbrella handle and pulled it to him. Grumping and grumbling as he pulled himself out of the muck. Looking a bit like a baby seal being born as he gallumped up onto solid ground. Never even losing his hat.
Ace looked around at the completely deserted plain. The sun was shining, there wasn't a cloud in the sky. The ground was completely dry. And unbroken green grass stretched away in rolling hills in every direction.
"How did you manage to find quicksand in the middle of nowhere?" she asked.
He stood up, bifurcated neatly across the middle, looking a bit like a chocolate dipped strawberry.
He set his umbrella handle neatly on his elbow, grabbed his lapel with the other hand, and stood as tall as his rather gnomish exterior allowed.
He strode forward with dignity. And squelched.
He stared down at his dripping lower half with a sigh.
"It's a gift."
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