Characters: Harry, Sarah, Josh, Nat, NCIS cameos by Gibbs and McGee
Beta(s): the_afterlight, paranoidangel42
Summary: Post Dreamland fic
Notes: Written for the Sarah & Harry ficathon for sarah_jane_s. I have to apologise for the NCIS cameos, but I needed someone official investigating the crash of the Dauntless and I'd already been toying with a Harry working with NCIS fic. There may eventually be a sequel involving the actual investigation and a proper crossover.
Assignment Request 2 (gen or ship): Harry meeting Josh from the audio books.
Angst/jealousy if you want with Sarah stuck in the middle of the two.
Sarah woke to the sound of raised voices. Deciding she didn't feel up to dealing with whatever was going on outside her room, she attempted to roll over and fall asleep again. Unfortunately, she found her movement forestalled by something- cords? Had she been captured and tied up again? She forced herself to open her eyes, though dizziness forced her to shut them again almost immediately. Instead she focused on her body through her brain fog and attempted to take a deep breath. No, she wasn't tied down. She could feel an oxygen mask on her face. Taking stock, she started cataloguing her surroundings. She could feel needles and a catheter and during the pauses in the yelling, she could hear a steady beeping coming from somewhere in the room. A hospital, then.
At least her head was starting to clear, and memory was starting to return. The Dauntless. The Mandragora Helix. The trap she had planned that would have gone perfectly if the pilot hadn't been Crimson Chapter, hadn't shot Josh, hadn't damaged the life support. Somehow she had managed to spring it anyway, faking helplessness to lull the helix into a false sense of security, then using what the Doctor had taught her to defeat it, hoping all the while that Josh would survive.
Had he? He'd still been alive when she'd finally been free to pull out the first aid kit, extract the bullet and patch the wound. She'd kept an eye on him while she jury-rigged a patch for the hull and managed a temporary fix for the controls, thanking heaven for everything she'd picked up from the Doctor. Once she was certain the pilot was dead and Josh unconscious but still breathing, she sat down at the controls, swearing to herself that if they both lived through this, she'd stop getting on Josh's case about lying to her. She had, after all, lied to him just as much, and this time her lies had nearly got him killed.
Sarah's train of thought was interrupted as the door opened and the noise suddenly got both louder and closer and she could finally recognise the voices - Josh and Harry. She kept her eyes closed. Her head was still swimming, she felt bruised from head to toe and who knew what injuries she had sustained in the crash. The last thing she was ready to deal with was an argument. Hopefully they would get it out of their system and settle things between themselves.
No such luck. Harry was yelling at the top of his voice, blaming Josh for her injuries and Josh was replying in kind and implying that Harry was, like his stepbrother, a member of the Crimson Chapter and a threat. Judging by Harry's reaction, he hadn't a clue what Josh was going on about, and was telling Josh so in excruciating detail. Nat was futilely trying to calm them down. She didn't blame any of them under the circumstances, but she couldn't cope with this right now. "Stop. Now," she said, startled at how rough her voice sounded.
To her relief, they did as she said. Shouting was beyond her just yet. Sarah opened her eyes slowly, but didn't try to sit up. Ignoring the men, she turned her head towards Nat carefully, relieved to find that her neck didn't hurt, and said, "Hallo, Nat," giving her a weak smile. "Thanks for trying to play peacemaker."
"Somebody had to. The doctor said you weren't to be upset." Nat looked worried and slightly apologetic at the behaviour of the other two.
"It was inevitable, Nat. I doubt there was anything you could have said or done to prevent an explosion." She paused. "Can you raise the bed so that I can sit up?" Lying on her back was becoming awkward and she still wasn't sure what injuries she had sustained so she was wary about not moving too much. If she was going to deal with Harry and Josh, she had to be able to look them in the eyes.
Nat did as she asked. "Anything else I can do for you?"
"Water?" Her voice was starting to improve, but she was incredibly parched. Thankfully, Nat had the sense to give her a straw. There was a pitcher on the table by the bed and it wasn't as though she'd been intubated, so she assumed it was okay for her to have a drink.
Harry was at the foot of the bed, looking dapper in a Naval uniform that made Sarah wonder about the current status of his latest undercover operation. He was studying a clipboard that she assumed was her chart. Josh was just standing on the opposite side of the bed from Nat with his arms folded across his chest, glaring at everyone else. Sarah was surprised that they were waiting so patiently instead of demanding her attention. She had to assume her injuries had been life-threatening...and suspected that they both assumed she would sort this out. At least they weren't demanding that she do so immediately. Harry was always this considerate , but Josh had no patience to speak of. She wondered how he had managed to stay undercover for as long as he had. Sarah hadn't even suspected the ruse until she'd seen the tomb in Italy.
Sarah took her time sipping the water, using the space to gather her thoughts before she spoke to them. She had lied to Josh at least as much as he'd lied to her, and kept him off guard by pontificating about how she hated being lied to whenever she discovered that he'd kept something from her. Harry didn't know about his brother's connections to the Crimson Chapter - when he found out that Josh was responsible for Will's death...Sarah didn't even want to think about what would happen.
Deciding she couldn't avoid these conversations forever, she turned to look at both men."Hi," she said, trying to gather her thoughts. "Harry? What are you-?" She broke off as though she didn't have the energy to complete the sentence, even though she was starting to shake off the effects of what she suspected to be a sedative. She spotted the outline of bandages under Josh's t-shirt. He also looked a little unsteady on his feet. At least he'd received medical attention for the gunshot wound he'd sustained on the Dauntless.
"You called me, remember?" Harry frowned at her. "And how did you found out my location? On second thought, I probably don't want to know."
Josh looked from Sarah to Harry and back again. "You said that you didn't know where Harry was. That he'd disappeared years ago." He grabbed the chair by her bed and sat down heavily.
Harry fielded that one before Sarah could speak. "I've been in deep cover. Sarah wasn't supposed to know where I was. Though I should have known that wouldn't stop her."
Sarah winced. "I only called you when this whole thing started to go pear-shaped and I was afraid I wouldn't survive my trip to Nevada. I wanted someone investigating if I died." Not necessarily just Harry, which was one of the reasons she'd contacted him through Gibbs, but she didn't need to give away all of her secrets
As expected, Josh was not thrilled with this news. "You didn't think my father would harm you, did you?"
"I think a man who would rope his son into faking his own death would do just about anything," she snapped and instantly regretted it. Taking a deep breath, she clarified, "No, I wasn't worried that your father would turn on me, but I knew that if there were any remaining members of the Crimson Chapter, they'd make their final stand here, in Nevada." She assumed they were still in Nevada. "With Josh's father's obsession with the timing, it wasn't too difficult to figure out that this was a significant event in the Book of Tomorrows." The puzzle pieces had all fit together so neatly: comet plus Italian Duke plus Sir Donald's heavy-handed persuasion and emotional manipulation aimed at getting her on the Dauntless. The Doctor had said it would be a hundred years, but perhaps he'd been rounding down.
Josh was just staring at her at this point. "How did you know?" he blurted out.
"Wait, you mean your father's still alive?" Nat interrupted, before he could continue. "Why would he do such a thing? And more importantly, why would you go along with it?"
"To make sure I was on that flight. Emotional manipulation," Sarah replied before Josh had a chance to.
"And you let him?" Harry sounded incredulous.
"I had to go if I was going to save the Earth, but I wasn't about to tell him that." Sarah shifted in the bed trying to find a comfortable position and waited for the next explosion. It still hurt too much to move much and she felt too dizzy to sit up without support.
"Wait. Slow down," Nat said, "You knew there was going to be trouble on the Dauntless and you went anyway."
"It's what I do," Sarah replied grimly. "As I told you, the world-savers are gone. It's my job now." As much as she tried to live a normal life, it always came down to this. And there was no hope of pretending otherwise. Not now. If Harry and Josh calmed down enough to compare notes, they would figure it out. Or at least Harry would, given the things he'd seen. Josh was more problematic, but he deserved the truth about the Orbus Postremo. "And this was my mess to clean up. Not that I caused it, but it used me to get what it wanted. People died because I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and would be again. I had to stop it-" she paused, "the Mandragora Helix. The Doctor did it last time, but he wasn't here." There were rumblings of a war, but her alien contacts hadn't been able to tell her anything more. Just rumours of Daleks and Time Lords, the one to be avoided at all costs, and the other too elusive to pin down. She stopped and waited for questions. No doubt Josh and Nat were terribly confused; Harry just looked worried.
It was Josh who recovered first. "So are you finally admitting you are the Herald?" He seemed torn between amusement and shock.
Sarah hesitated, but he deserved to know the truth. "If you define 'the herald' as the person talked about in the Book of Tomorrows, yes, but that's simplifying things considerably. The book wasn't a prophecy, it was a warning. It was- I was the girl in the picture because I was there. Time travel." Nat made a choked sound, and Josh looked like he didn't know if he should laugh or cry. At least she didn't need to worry about Harry until she got to the bit about Will. "Yes, time travel. And there are aliens. I know, I've met some of them. The Children of the Future got that right - there are some aliens who want to help humanity and others who wouldn't give a thought before wiping us all out."
"We, Sarah and I, used to travel with an alien called the Doctor," Harry added, whilst Sarah was catching her breath. “He did his best to help people, and by people I don't just mean humans. We had some amazing adventures, didn't we, old girl?" He squeezed her hand. "But you should have called for backup sooner."
"You were busy. I couldn't let anyone know where you were, not after what happened to Will, which is why I called Gibbs instead. I knew he'd be able to track down your current location. It helps that NCIS has the legal ability to work on US soil." Knowing Gibbs, he'd have no problems coming up with an excuse to investigate if things went wrong. Seeing Josh's confusion, she clarified, "NCIS is the American Naval Criminal Investigative Service. I have a contact there."
"Someday you'll have to tell me how you know him." Harry looked at her suspiciously. "And how you knew I was in DC. I know we arranged for you to show up at Il Tartufo once a year in case we needed to pass on information, but you weren't supposed to know where I was, or what I was doing."
"Nothing to tell. I was in Saudi Arabia working as a war correspondent, he was in the Marines. As for knowing you were in DC, I still have contacts at UNIT and elsewhere. When Will showed up at the restaurant, I started asking a few questions surreptitiously. I was the perfect picture of a woman in mourning." She'd known Harry was on detachment to the American Navy already, it had just been a question of his current whereabouts, in case she needed him.
Josh stared at her. "So you're saying you suspected Will of something from that first meeting? Then why did you shrug off my warnings?" To Sarah's relief, he sounded more confused than upset.
"It was the only way to flush the threat out into the open. Go along with everything until I knew what was going on. And at that time, I didn't know about the Crimson Chapter. I thought that whatever he was up to had something to do with Harry's mission. Which is not to say that it wasn't just as dangerous, but the threat wasn't what I expected. Nat, could I have the water again?" She took another sip and then let Nat put the glass back on the table."Besides, I brought my bodyguard along." She smiled at him. "It wasn't until we got to Antarctica that I deduced his connections to the Orbus Postremo and the Crimson Chapter."
"Bodyguard?" Harry asked sharply.
"Josh was assigned to 'take care of me' by the White Chapter. Can't have the herald dying before the big day." Sarah grinned at both of them. "I may have objected, but backup never hurts." Sometimes being offended was the perfect distraction for performing a bit of misdirection. "Nat, you're being very quiet."
"There isn't much of a chance to get a word in edgeways here. And I'm not exactly thrilled with either you or Josh at the moment. I didn't ask to get involved in this sort of thing and I'm more than a little tired of getting caught in the crossfire." Nat started wheeling her wheelchair towards the door.
"Nat," Josh protested. "We didn't mean to-"
"Mean to or not, you've done it. Once too often if you ask me." Nat studied Sarah, before adding, "I'm not disappearing on you again, I just need a breath of fresh air and some time to remember that you're both my friends, despite your mutual addiction to lies." Harry moved to get the door for her and she rolled out into the corridor. "Thank you." She smiled at him. "Try to keep them from killing each other, please."
"Will do," Harry tipped his cap to her before walking to the side where Nat had been sitting. "So you were deliberately springing the trap. Sarah, sometimes your investigative style is much too influenced by the Doctor for words. I'll bet you've been playing both ends against the middle as well." He offered her the water and she sipped it gratefully.
"To some extent," Sarah said ruefully, "At least until I figured out which side wanted me alive."
Josh frowned at this. "I suppose I can't blame you. Though all your lectures about lying are a bit hard to take right now. Next thing you'll be telling me you have no problem with guns."
Sarah was starting to tire and hoped she wouldn't have to kick them out so that she could sleep. "I dislike guns. I've seen too much of what they're capable of. But I was a very good shot long before I joined UNIT."
Harry stared at her thoughtfully. "Of course you were. I've seen you shoot.” Benton had mistakenly challenged her to a shooting match on the UNIT range, and as Sarah recalled, Harry had ended up with a good £100 by backing her in the pool.
Josh just snorted. "Were you honest about anything you told me?"
"Most of it. I had no reason not to trust you until Italy, Josh, and after that I had good cause to be wary. In fact, if you remember the situation I was in when we first met, I would have been suspicious of any strangers inserting themselves into my life." Sarah closed her eyes for a moment. "Plus, I was a contact in Harry's current mission, so I needed to keep my eyes open and my mouth shut." Josh shifted in his chair, and Sarah realised she probably wasn't the only one who was tiring. "Josh, you were shot. Shouldn't you get back to bed? There will be plenty of time to discuss this later."
"Not while he's in the room." Josh glared at Harry. "I still haven't forgotten what his stepbrother tried to do."
"What my stepbrother tried to do? He meets Sarah and the next I hear from my superior is that he's dead and the cause is unclear," Harry snapped. "He wasn't a part of your silly cult."
"Harry-," Sarah started, but was interrupted by the opening of her door. To her relief a doctor walked in, followed by Gibbs and an unfamiliar man, who she assumed was one of Gibbs' agents - she hadn't met the latest batch yet. Nat must have told somebody that Sarah was awake.
'That's enough. Mr Townsend, you should be in bed. Mr Sullivan, I believe these gentlemen wish to speak with you." The doctor moved over to start examining Sarah. "I'm Dr Pascal, and you are one lucky woman." He started checking the monitors, muttering about blood pressure and vital signs.
"McGee, take Commodore Sullivan with you," Gibbs ordered, "And perhaps you could escort Mr Townsend to his room as well." Normally she'd object to any man being that protective of her, but right now she mostly wanted a break from the argument.
Neither man moved. Sarah wasn't surprised. Hopefully she and Gibbs would be able to convince them both to leave peacefully, but she suspected that neither would go before the other. "Murder investigation?" Sarah asked with a slight smile. "We need to talk about that." She caught Josh's eye and shook her head. Shooting the pilot had been self defence, and Sarah could prove that. Harry hadn't been here for the flight, so they wouldn't need to question him - there had to be something else going on. Of course, if Harry had come here as a member of Gibbs' team, that would explain the Naval Uniform.
"Not right now. Ms Smith, you need to rest. You took the brunt of the rough landing." Dr Pascal was writing something on a clipboard, and she noticed Harry peeking over the doctor's shoulder.
"Don't worry, Sarah. I won't arrest anyone before I talk to you." Gibbs nodded at the doctor. "But there was some breach of security and possible sabotage to the craft. Abby's looking at it right now."
Josh frowned at this. "Sabotage? But I thought the pilot was faking the engine trouble." He looked at Sarah for confirmation.
"I thought that too, Josh. Best to let them finish their investigation and see what they find. From what Gibbs tells me, Abby's the best forensic scientist out there. If someone else was trying to kill us, they will find out." Sarah knew Abby and Ducky, their medical examiner, had occasionally worked with UNIT, but as far as she knew the rest of his team had no idea of the connections. But if he wanted it to look like a normal investigation, she supposed it would be necessary to bring his field agents along.
Gibbs squeezed her hand. "I promise to keep you updated."
The doctor was glaring at this point, and McGee was attempting to herd Josh and Harry out of the room and not having much luck.
Clearly it was going to take more than that, and since Josh was starting to look a little green around the edges, she suspected that she wasn't the only one who needed to take a break. "Okay, everyone out. I need some rest. We can share information later." She glared futilely at both Josh and Harry, who were too busy glaring at each other to notice."Harry! Josh! Out!" she finally snapped at them.
Finally Harry took the hint. "Get some rest, Sarah. I'll be back soon." He walked out the door, and Josh, after rolling his eyes at Sarah, followed, reluctantly. McGee put a hand on each man's shoulder and directed them out into the hallway.
"He looks relieved," Sarah said to Gibbs. "I think he was afraid he'd have to manhandle them both and he doesn't look the type."
"He just joined the team. Give him time." Gibbs smiled at her and followed them out the door.
"Do you always lead such an interesting life, Ms Smith?" Dr Pascal asked as he lowered the bed.
"I try not to, but it never helps." Sarah said, sleepily. "Did I break anything?"
"Two ribs. Nothing to worry about, we've got you tightly wrapped up, but you don't want to move too much. You've got a sprained ankle and assorted stitches. You had few nasty gashes. You were also out cold for a few hours and we'd like to keep you under observation for a few days, just in case. I'll leave you to rest with strict orders not to allow anyone but hospital staff through that door until regular visiting hours. Ring if you're having trouble sleeping, and I'll administer a sedative, but it doesn't look like you need one just yet." He finished making notes, and reached over to turn off the light.
"Thanks, doctor." Sarah heard the door close as she settled down to sleep. When she woke up, maybe she'd feel better and be able to sort this whole mess out. Convince Josh that there had been things it hadn't been safe to tell him, or that he wouldn't have believed before. Find the words to explain to Harry that Will had been a member of the Crimson Chapter. Apologise to Nat, who was the injured party here, as much as there was one. Help Gibbs figure out who sabotaged the Dauntless and why (and prevent Josh from going to jail for murder - if left to his own devices, Josh was sure to incriminate himself).
Perhaps, when she woke up, she'd be able to talk to Josh and Harry separately, instead of having them both hovering and snapping at each other and at her. She suspected they'd never get along very well, but she'd be happy if she could manage a truce.
She was going to have to deal with all of this at some point, but not until she was stronger. Sarah just hoped that Harry and Josh wouldn't destroy the hospital while she was asleep. Gibbs' comment about possible sabotage had her worried, but that was just typical. Solve one mystery and another popped up in its place. Most people would find this stressful, but for her it was just life as normal, and it comforted her as she fell asleep.