It was late. Or very early, depending on how you looked at it. Garibaldi finished checking the records of the passengers of the last ship of the day and glanced back to the other screens in his security console. He almost missed it, but he had been suspicious of the strange prisoner since he first saw him in the Zocalo. He looked again at the screen, apparently showing the man sleeping in his cot.
Garibaldi was nothing if not stubborn, and paranoid, and there was something just wrong with the so-called Doctor John Smith. He'd decided to leave him in the brig for the night, hoping that he'd be more amenable to questions in the morning. He wasn't about to bother the Commander just because his prisoner had asked for him. He'd have to give some real reasons first, and preferably some answers as well.
What his subconscious had already noticed suddenly became clear to his eyes now: the figure in the cot was way too small for the tall man that had so skilfully avoided answering his questions in the previous evening. It seemed that the man had found some way to escape the brig. It wasn't a high-security cell, but it wasn't exactly easy to escape, not without some inside help. Worried and distrustful, Garibaldi quickly called forth the security tapes for the last few minutes, since his last check-up of the screens. Scanning the tape, he watched how the man somehow managed to open the cell door and slip out in the exact moment the guard went to the loo (quite hurriedly, in fact). The man had even stopped to collect his personal belongings from the lockbox where they were stashed, which he opened using some strange pen tool that they must have missed when they searched him. And then he slipped out into the corridor.
It had been a tremendous coincidence, since Garibaldi himself had been distracted exactly at the same time. At any other moment, he'd have caught the man in the act. And Garibaldi didn't trust coincidences.
The space station's chief of security knew very well the layout of his security section, and knew where the man would have to go through if he had any hope to slip out quietly and undetected. There was just enough time to intercept him. So he moved quickly to stand concealed in the corridor, and when 'John Smith' turned the corner, there he was, smirking.
"Hello, Doctor Smith, you can stay where you are. Couldn't sleep, could you?" Garibaldi had his hand on the holster of his PPG, but he didn't draw it yet. He remembered well how outraged the man had been, when he claimed that he hated guns. He'd managed to escape without hurting anyone, he hadn't resisted arrest or acted with violence, and of his strange possessions not one seemed to be a weapon, so Garibaldi was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and not point the gun at him. Besides, his reaction might tell him something new about the man. He had called for reinforcements, but there'd be a couple of minutes before they arrived, so for the moment it would be just the two of them.
Doctor Smith froze when he saw Garibaldi. Evidently he'd been certain he'd managed to escaped unscathed, and was patently surprised and frustrated - though apparently not angry - at being caught. For a brief moment at least. Then his expression opened up and he looked at Garibaldi with a shrewd look, approaching respect. He had been walking with his hands thrust inside the pockets of his overcoat, so he took them out slowly and held them away of the body, enough that Garibaldi could see that he wasn't going to resist recapture.
"Nah, just wanted to stroll a bit, you know, help digestion..." Garibaldi recalled that the man had wolfed down the rather unremarkable food given to the prisoners for dinner. "Wasn't expecting my absence would be noticed so quickly, in fact," he admitted ruefully. "I underestimated you, Mr. Garibaldi. I've never been recaptured so quickly, weeeell, not quite, there had been that time, well a couple of times... All right, a few times, but you really surprised me. That's not something easy to do, you know."
"Are you in the habit of being arrested everywhere you go, then?" asked Garibaldi, surprised.
"No, not everywhere, just about a fifth, no, maybe, more or less, a third of the places I go."
"And do you manage to escape every time?"
"Yes, well, most of the times, some other times..." And he stopped speaking, eyes unfocused and face scowling as if remembering something nasty.
"What do you do to get arrested everywhere you go?" Garibaldi asked, curious in spite of himself, that the man was so willing to talk himself deeper into trouble now, after having managed to say nothing of substance for so long.
"Ah, just my bad habit of poking my nose where I'm not welcome, you know," he said, eyes sparkling mischievously. He looked at Garibaldi, and the chief of security was suddenly convinced that the man was very aware of everything he said and was very smart indeed. And probably very dangerous. He considered whether it wouldn't be wiser to draw his weapon and point it towards the man, whom he suddenly noticed was far too close for comfort. But then Dr. Smith grinned a jovial and open smile, and the feeling of danger receded as if it'd never been there. Garibaldi felt uneasy at the man's mercurial humour, and became even warier. "Of course it has been a long time since I've been arrested by humans, so maybe I'm just out of habit."
"So you admit you're not human," joked Garibaldi.
"Exactly!" Doctor Smith beamed.
"No! Wait. No no no no no. You look human!"
"So do the Centauri and the Asshkefissh," the last name had a couple of whistles Garibaldi doubted he'd be able to reproduce.
"Askefish? Who are they?"
"Asshkefissh!" The man corrected. "Oh, I forgot, you haven't met them yet, they're a bit farther away than you've reached up to now. Quite a bit farther, in fact."
"So you're not an Ashkefish?" He tried saying the name, without much success, but the other didn't bother correcting him again.
"No no, why would you think so?"
"Nooo! Of course not!" He exclaimed, as if outraged. "They're almost as stuffy as..." He trailed off, frowning.
"Whose species are you then?"
At that moment the two other guards arrived, hands on their weapons but not drawn, following the lead of their security chief. Garibaldi gestured that they keep their distance and relaxed a bit. Noticing that, 'Doctor Smith' dropped his hands and pushed them inside his pockets again, grinning madly and rolling on the balls of his feet. Garibaldi decided to let it pass. If the man had wanted to resist arrest he'd already missed his opportunity, and Garibaldi doubted he was armed. He kept his guard up, anyway.
"I'm from Gallifrey! And yes, you've never heard of it before, and I very much doubt you'll ever meet another gallifreyan in your life! It's really, really far away," he explained, beaming.
Garibaldi wasn't sure if he believed the man or not. Sure, there were the Centauri to prove that an alien might look just like a human, but yet another species, let alone two, that could be confused for humans! That was stretching it. The man could just be mad, of course, or lying through his teeth. Anyway, if there was a chance he was telling the truth, he had to take him to the Commander. Maybe giving him enough rope would be enough to let him hang himself, he hoped. Smart guys often suffered from being too clever for their own good.
"So you're a gallifreyan with a human name."
"Of course not! It's just an alias. I was trying to blend in. No point in calling attention to me after all. You humans are already too paranoid with aliens and all."
"So what's your name?" Garibaldi interrupted.
"I'm The Doctor!" He said, a huge smile plastered on his face.
"Doctor? Doctor what?"
"Just The Doctor, yes!"
"Very well, Doctor, please come with us."
"Good! Take me to your leader!" Added the Doctor, with mock seriousness.
"You can talk to the commander in the morning. He's sleeping now, and you should be too. I hope it's all right with you," Garibaldi added, just in case this was a real first contact, "but I can't arrange other quarters at this late hour. You'll have to sleep in our cell."
"Hm. It's no big problem. I've slept in worse places. It's fairly comfortable, even. For a cell."
"Can I trust that you won't try to leave us again? Otherwise I'd have to explain to the Commander how his first contact has disappeared during the night, and he wouldn't be happy with me." He didn't want to try to pat down the man again, he doubted he'd get better results than the first time. Besides, that wouldn't be very diplomatic right now. He'd rather keep his eyes glued to the screen in case the man did try to run away again. And have two guards stand right outside his cell instead of one down the corridor.
"No problem. That's what I want, really, talk to your Commander Sinclair."
They began walking back to the brig, the guards following them.
"Have you learned about Earth culture through old TV programs?" Garibaldi asked, because, really, 'take me to your leader', that was old.
"Yes, in part," the supposed alien admitted. "I'm very fond of them."
"Why do you have a British accent?"
"Oh, that's because I really love the chips!" He exclaimed brightly, skipping ahead, and Garibaldi wasn't sure if he was to be taken seriously or not. He could almost believe the guy was happy at having been caught!
A/N: I have one more chapter written, but it needs some more editing. After that, I'm not sure if or when I'll write anything else for this story. I'm really not sure where to take it. Though imagining the Doctor meeting, and having to deal with, the many characters and events of the series is interesting in itself. I'm not sure if I'd stick to canon, though.