So it turned out that Ivan, rather than being an extremely sexy ex-secret agent slash judo instructor from Russia, was actually a not-at-all-ex-secret agent slash aristocratic layabout from Space Russia (Of The Future) who'd got an old friend with a poodle fetish and a magic wristband to help him hide out from his nagging mother. Of course, Chrissie suspected none of this until Ivan told her on their honeymoon and the only reason he did tell her was that he was hoping she would drop her entire life on Earth to come back with him to his home planet.
Chrissie had laughed in his face.
In her defense, she hadn't thought he was serious. So he got his poodle-loving friend to take her to Endor or wherever and after that even Chrissie had to admit that her new husband was an alien. Or something. Not from this planet, anyway.
The point was that she liked Earth and she wasn't going to leave it. And Ivan told her point blank that he wasn't going to stay on Earth past the end of the year.
And that was how Chrissie got divorced for the second time in her life.
Five years later she got attacked by one of those potato aliens who was looking for Ivan. Or possibly his uncle? Or was it his cousin? The point was that she wasn't wearing heels for once in her life and had to rely on someone else to rescue her. How embarrassing.
But the nice young black couple who'd rescued her had been very helpful and didn't even roll their eyes when Chrissie had gone off on a rant about no-good Ex-Husbands From Another Planet. In fact, they gave her a card for a support group for people with no-good alien exes. It was on Mondays. She was free on Mondays.
And that was how Chrissie met Sarah Jane Smith for the second time.
"Suzie Q!" Chrissie waved to the older woman, happy to see a familiar face at least. "Should have known you'd be here. Still borrowing other people's children?"
Sarah Jane looked like she'd been doing shots of vinegar. "Chrissie. So nice to see you here."
"You too, Cindy Lou." Chrissie set her bag down on the folding chair. "It wasn't Alan," she added, shrugging her coat off.
"My no-good alien ex. That was Ivan. I just thought you'd want to know, since you were friends or something before he ran off to America. Actually, I think he rather fancied you a bit. You ever hear from him and Maria?"
"Oh good," said Chrissie. "Once the group is over we can go out to the pub together and pool information over drinks."
Sarah Jane hadn't wanted to come at first, but Chrissie had whined and cajoled and promised to pay for drinks until she got her way. And maybe Sarah Jane was bored. From what Chrissie could tell, most of the teenagers Sarah had spent all her time with had gone off to uni or other planets or in some cases both.
"So tell me, Sallie Mae," Chrissie said, knocking down a shot of something very, very blue and waving to the waiter to bring her another, "are Maria's emails to you as boring as they are to me? Because mine are ridiculous. It's like she's hiding things from me."
Sarah Jane raised an eyebrow. "Is she really? I wonder why."
Chrissie snorted. "Sarcastic, aren't we?"
"And it only took you six years to figure out."
"Whatever," said Chrissie, rolling her eyes. "The point is, you probably know what the bloody hell Maria's doing over there, besides working for a temp agency with a silly name in some city that I can barely remember the name of most of the time, much less pick it out on a map. Unless," she added, thoughtfully, "there isn't a temp agency at all and Maria just made that up because she's embarrassed about being on the dole."
"I might," said Sarah Jane coolly, taking a sip from something that had fruit hanging off the glass, "but I don't know if I could tell just anyone. Especially if the person in question can't even call me by my proper name."
Chrissie sighed heavily. "Please, Sarah Jane. She's my daughter. I have a right to know what's going on in her life."
Sarah Jane stared at her like she was some kind of bug or door-to-door missionary. Chrissie squirmed a little in her chair.
"Oh fine," said Sarah Jane. "The temp agency is really a front for a secret organization helping to save the world on a daily basis."
"Hah!" Chrissie pumped her fist in the air. "I knew it."
"So what was he like?"
Chrissie had lost time of how long they'd been in the pub. Long enough to have moved on from shots and cocktails respectively to sharing a bottle of white wine.
Sarah Jane frowned. "What was who like?" She looked kind of cute when she was confused. It was weird to think that she was pushing seventy. She hardly looked it.
"Oh, you know. The no-good alien ex. I mean, you had to have been at the group for a reason."
Sarah sip her wine. "Which one?"
Chrissie stared at her. "You've had more than one? What, do you have a fetish or something?" She shook her head. "The last one, then."
"She," said Sarah Jane, "was an Arcateenian Star Poet."
Chrissie blinked. "You're a lesbian?" Did Alan know?
"Bisexual, actually," Sarah Jane corrected.
"Huh," said Chrissie. She stared out the window, at loss for something to say. It was an unfamiliar sensation to Chrissie. She didn't think she liked it.
Oh. Wait. There was something she could talk about, right there.
"I didn't think shop dummies walked around on their own after dark, did you?"
And that was how Chrissie saved Planet Earth for the second time in her life. And this time she didn't even need high heels to do it.
(Sarah Jane reassured her it was even easier when you weren't pissed.)
After that it got to be something of a habit: go out after group, have a round of drinks, then save the world. After a while, they started doing it on the other days of the week. Eventually they started to save the world without visiting the pub first. Sarah Jane was right. It was easier when you were sober.
Chrissie started to suspect that she was becoming a replacement for the kids that had grown out of fighting aliens with Sarah Jane. She supposed she ought to be annoyed about that—she was an adult woman, after all, and, if one had to be entirely honest, on the wrong side of forty—but she wasn't. Somehow. She didn't quite understand it herself.
But when Sarah Jane took her up to her attic to meet her pet alien supercomputer, Chrissie knew she'd passed some test that she didn't even know she'd taken.
"You ever thought about quitting the support group?" Chrissie said one evening as they sat on the roof of the Royal Hope Hospital, still dressed in the nurses's scrubs they'd, ah, borrowed. "It's been kind of boring lately. No new members. Everyone still stuck on the same old stories."
"Mmm," said Sarah Jane. "We'd have to find something else to do on Monday nights."
"I've got some ideas," said Chrissie. "Maybe we could start saving the world earlier in the evening. Or..."
Sarah Jane raised an eyebrow. "Or...?"
Chrissie kissed her.
"I was not expecting that," Sarah Jane confessed, once the kissing was over.
"I wasn't sure I was going to do it," Chrissie admitted.
Sarah Jane looked almost hesitant. That was seriously a weird look for her. "Any regrets?"
Chrissie laughed. She couldn't help it. "Sarah Jane Smith, it is my personal policy to never, ever regret anything I do. Ever."
And that was how Chrissie got her very first girlfriend.