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Sidetracked

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It took a lot to distract the Doctor from a time anomaly, and his head wasn’t an easy one to turn. So why he’d let Silver lead him away from this one, and into the opposite end of the building was a good question.

Flirting, I mean, he’d met plenty of flirts. He’d met the galaxy’s greatest lovers and courtesans, and remained unmoved - and he’d managed to try and look disapproving at Jack Harkness most of the time. Even granted that he had a weakness for the subtleties of psychic seduction over the physical, it wasn’t an answer.

“One moment,” said Silver, from the kitchen. He’d led them into one of the empty flats that had probably been locked, and then literally vanished into the next room. “I did say I could give you something you wanted, didn’t I?”

“Yes,” said the Doctor, shifting from one foot to the other. “Er. Yeah.”

It wasn’t even the Element thing. He’d heard of them; met them before – inevitable, given their lines of work – and even he found them a mystery. They, on the other hand, tended to see him as an irresponsible lunatic who went round wantonly tearing holes in time and space. An accusation he refuted absolutely. He knew what he was doing. Ninety-nine per cent of the time, anyway. So, the chance to study one up close, as it were was a… well, okay. That wasn’t it, either.

“And I object,” the Doctor said, belatedly, as Silver reappeared. “I am not a walking trigger, I haven’t caused any time-breaks, and I don’t attract nasties from outside of time and space. Well, not much. Only sometimes, and not today. And I don’t need cheering up!”

“Oh, no, no,” said Silver, passing him his tea, with one light touch of their hands in the process. “You know, your thoughts as regards hot water and a few dried leaves… I’m intrigued.”

“I don’t think about tea in that way!”

“Oh?”

There was rather too much amusement in that one syllable, and suddenly the Doctor was unsure as he looked down at the over-sweet tea that was exactly how he liked it. “And,” he added, “I told you not to go poking around in my mind.”

“Yes, but you will keep shouting,” returned Silver. “I never go where I’m not wanted.” His tone implied that he rarely found himself unwanted – and that he was irritatingly certain that now was not one of those times.

And, the Doctor thought, it wasn’t even that he didn’t have to feel ancient in comparison to the other. It was a bit hard to tell on brief acquaintance but logic said Silver must be considerably older than him, even if it also seemed that age didn’t apply here and in other ways Silver was newly minted. It made a change, because usually the only people older than him turned out to be evil from the dawn of time, or a head in a jar.

No, it wasn’t that. The Doctor coughed, changed colour, and adjusted his tie. “Okay. Silver. The thing is, I can’t help noticing -.” He waved a hand towards the other and nearly spilt the cup of tea.

Silver looked illegally smug, but merely raised an eyebrow.

“It’s just, well…” The Doctor gave in as he looked wistfully at the Element’s gloriously red hair. “I’ve always wanted to know how it feels to be ginger.”

***

Coda

“You took your time,” Steel said, without turning, as Silver walked back into the room.

Silver shut the door by leaning against it and paused there with a smile; his posture the living definition of the cat that had got the cream. “Not as long as it would have taken if we’d tried it your way. I suppose you were about to tell him it was none of his business. Clumsy, Steel. He’d never have left us alone – and we couldn’t have that, could we?”

Steel didn’t dignify that with an answer, but Sapphire moved over to Silver, drawn by curiosity.

“Silver.”

The Technician understood that it was a question from her: what had he learned, what had he seen? He gave another smile, a small one, and put a hand to her shoulder. Later. A private de-briefing? But he threw a glance over to Steel at the same moment, including him.

“Oh, and this,” Silver added, producing a small, thin metal object; his mood and movements suddenly business-like, as he knelt back down besides the television that had been behaving so oddly. “I duplicated it while he wasn’t looking – a very handy little thing, especially for finishing this.”

Steel moved over, raising an eyebrow in enquiry, and then took the item from him.

“I believe,” said Silver, looking up at the other, as Steel turned it over in his hands, “he calls it a sonic screwdriver.”