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Men of Few Words

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Brigadier Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart was a very busy man, and he didn’t really have time for lengthy phone conversations with his former wife during working hours. But his teenaged daughter had been sent home from school because she had been found out smoking and he had to admit that it was something that warranted his fatherly attention. He sighed and held the receiver away from his ear, he had heard enough of her screaming fits when they divorced. Briefly he wondered how his ex could live with Kate and still not understand her at all. Personally he had noticed very early on that hysterics and nagging only made Kate contrary and had subsequently always been rather good at handling his daughter.

When Fiona had talked herself into silence he asked for Kate. She sounded surly and rebellious and even if it was tempting to give her a stern talk, he was rather upset himself after all. But he knew that would probably be a certain way to turn his daughter into a chain smoker. You had to use the right tactics, that held true both on enemies and offspring.

“You are riling your mother up on purpose, aren’t you?”

Kate snorted, but didn’t answer.

“So, did you enjoy it?”

“Enjoy what?”

“Smoking. Did it taste good? Did it make you feel as wonderful as the commercials claim?”

“Not really.”

“So why did you do it then?”

“Everyone else is doing it.”

“And you know it would make your mother angry.”

“That too,” Kate admitted after a pause.

The Brigadier allowed himself a small triumphant smirk.

“Why don’t you try something you enjoy instead? I’m sure she’ll be as upset over something else she don’t approve of.”

“Boys?” Kate said brightly, and he was glad she couldn’t see him wince. But then she probably already knew that the prospect of boys closer than a yard to her was more upsetting to her father than her mother. So he wisely chose to not say anything about it.

“Well, you could tell your mother I plan to give you another shooting lesson this weekend. I thought you were quite promising the last time we did it.”

Kate laughed. “Yeah, that ought to do the trick. She still hasn’t forgiven you for that first lesson. And I thought it was great fun.”

While they were talking he had gradually realised that some kind of commotion was taking place outside his office. He could hear people running around, shouting and suddenly there was the sound of shooting as well. Not very good signs.

“I have to work now. We can talk more later,” he told Kate. “I- I’m proud of you.”

He frowned. That was not what he had meant to say. He had wanted to say something else, about how much she meant to him, but the word escaped him at the moment. He knew exactly what the word encompassed, he had felt it as soon as he held his infant daughter in his arms. It meant that he adored her and would give her life for her, and now he couldn’t think of what it was. How stupid, it was such a simple word, he was sure. But he was proud of her too and he was sure she would grow into a brilliant future one day.

Kate snorted again. “For smoking? Sure you are.” Then after a second or two; “I’m proud of you too, Daddy.”

He rang off before his ex-wife could take the phone and berate him for teaching her daughter such un-womanly things like handle weapons. She had always disliked his work though he suspected that she wouldn’t have been as upset for the shooting lessons if Kate had been a boy. Personally he thought that Kate should learn to defend herself in any way possible. Right now, however, he needed to pay attention to the situation at hand.

At that point there was a loud knock on the door and then Benton entered without waiting for an answer and a with a rather excited air. The Brigadier glowered at him.

“Yes, Sergeant? What excuse do you have for this highly unprofessional behaviour?”

Benton stood in attention. “Sir, we are under attack. There are a couple of something’s running around the base!”

“Something? I expect my personnel to express themselves in a clear and concise manner. What has breached security this time?”

Not the Master he hoped. It was rather embarrassing how many time that scoundrel had managed to just stroll into UNIT to wreak havoc. But then the Master rarely ran, of course, it was much too undignified for him.

“I know sir. I’m sorry, sir. But I seem to have forgotten what they are called; the Doctor called them Logo whatsits. Apparently they are responsible for stealing away words. But, they are, definitely, the sort of kind of things we chase here.”

“You mean-“ and then the Brigadier stopped. He knew perfectly well what UNIT’s purpose was, but he just couldn’t find the word for it. How annoying. The Doctor’s explanations sounded completely absurd, but then bizarre encounters were an almost daily occurrence in this line of work.

“Can you describing these, er, somethings?”

“Yes!” Benton looked instantly happier. “Not human. They look just like in that cartoon, you know. With that other- thing. The one with wings and a beak.” At the Brigadier’s clueless look he added; “Beep, Beep?”

The Brigadier could feel his eyebrows rise. “Cartoon? Beep, Beep?”

Benton blushed. “I can’t recall the name for that one either. Anyway, it isn’t one of those, but the one who chase it. Looks almost exactly like that, only with a waistcoat. The Doctor says to catch it-” He looked puzzled for a moment, clearly another word had just disappeared, and then continued. “Very fast.”

The Brigadier sighed. He guessed he had to talk with the Doctor about it. He rose, making sure his gun was loaded. Outside the uproar continued, it had even increased in the last few minutes. “Well, I guess we better go and have a look.”

Perhaps, he thought, he could shoot at it. Possibly he would feel better after that.