Chapter 1

Wheezing like an asthmatic smoker climbing a steep hill, the TARDIS landed in the corner of a car park with a final-sounding thump. The door creaked open, and out bounded a wildly grinning Doctor. He was dressed in black tie and tails, with a top hat incongruously perched upon his tousled hair.

Amy followed, smiling brightly. She was wearing a very short black denim skirt and maroon top, with a black cashmere scarf wound around her neck. This ensemble was set off by a pair of shiny black cowgirl boots. Rory was even more casually garbed. He'd settled for retro tee shirt under a denim jacket, jeans and trainers.

Turning to look at his companions, the Doctor frowned at Rory. "You're wearing that?"

"I thought you said we were going for fish and chips?" Rory shrugged, uncertain what the Doctor's issue with his kit, was. "What...should I be wearing, then? And you'd better not say fisherman's gear."

"Couldn't agree with you more, Rory." Amy agreed, patting him on the arm. "You'd look rubbish in yellow overalls."

"Would not!" Rory began to protest. Then, thinking about it, he nodded his head. "Yeah, I would."

"I'm taking you to meet an old mate of mine." The Doctor informed them, rubbing his hands in anticipation. "Nice chap. Used to be with U.N.I.T. Traded in his guns for a set of kitchen knives. Well, not literally...though I suppose he could have. He's employed at a restaurant called J. Sheekey's. I'm told famous people eat there. Very posh. In fact, they were awarded an unprecedented ten Michelin stars in the year 2760. Or rather, they will be. Though, maybe you'd better not tell them that. We have a reservation for 13:00 this afternoon."

"Sheekey's?" A delighted Amy was almost jumping up and down with excitement. "I've always wanted to go there. But it's almost impossible to get reservations. How'd you manage to pull it off, Doctor?"

"Oh, you know. The usual. Called in a few favours. Let's face it. If it hadn't been for me, those killer alien cockroaches would've shut all the restaurants in London." He sniffed. "Pfft. 'Men in Black' indeed. The restaurant owners pledged me their undying gratitude. Well, they would. Who'd want to go out to dinner, only to end up as the main course? I've got guaranteed reservations at every restaurant in the city of London. Aways the best table in the house." He again gave Rory a frown. "So I want you to look your best today. Rory."

"What about her?" Rory whinged, indicating his wife with a nod of his head. "She's not exactly wearing a posh frock, is she?" Becoming suddenly aware of Amy's miffed look, Rory amended, "Not that you don't look...nice, Amy."

It was too late. Amy hauled off and shoved an elbow into Rory's ribs. He saw the Doctor wince sympathetically. Yet, at the same time, he seemed to be almost enjoying watching Rory's discomfort.

"Erm—I mean, pretty, Amy. A little help here, Doctor, would be nice."

"Sorry, Rory. You're on your own. I don't do any of that human domestic stuff."

When he saw the cross look hadn't left his wife's face, Rory really began to get nervous. Struggling manfully, he tried to find just the right words. And was not quite getting there.

"No really. You look er...really lovely in that outfit, Amy. I'd say even very...sexy? Right." He decided, suddenly. "I'll just go and change, shall I?"

Rory bolted for the TARDIS door, before Amy had a chance to do anything more to him. A short time only had passed, before Rory emerged again. This time clad in a dark blue shirt under a black jacket. This was set off by a newer looking pair of indigo jeans and black shoes. He'd also taken the time to shave and comb back his hair.

"Well, Amy?" He asked, emerging from the TARDIS. "How do I look?" Rory didn't trust the Doctor's opinion as to his attire. An alien who dressed like that? Well, like he'd know about fashion? "I even put on that aftershave you bought me for Christmas, Amy. The one you say makes me smell, you know. Manly." He said, with a slight blush coming to his cheeks.

"'Gymkhana' by Bob Wren." The Doctor said, nodding. "I got a snootful of it through the TARDIS door. I'd thought for a second that there was a gas leak somewhere. Glad it's just your stinky aftershave. And a good thing it is, too." He tapped the side of his nose with his finger. "Now I don't have to worry about not being able to find you if we get separated. I'll be able to smell you a mile away."

"Cheers, Doctor." Rory said, rolling his eyes at Amy.

Trying to hide her laughter—unsuccessfully, Amy took Rory by the hand. "Come on, stinky. Let's do lunch."

"Not just yet, you two. I have a surprise."

"It's not anything that will involve getting my best jacket dirty, is it?" Rory sighed.

"Well, depends on where you're sitting, I suppose. Or standing. Or walking." The Doctor shrugged and put up his hands in denial. "Look, Rory, I claim no responsibility for wear, tear or stainage. Read the fine print. At least, you could read the fine print, if I had any fine print for you to read. Maybe I should start thinking about drawing up a companion's contract. Save me from listening to an awful lot of whinging..."

"Doctor..." Rory said softly.

"Oh, go ahead and spoil the surprise. Rory the Spoiler, that's what they should call you. In fact, I think I will start calling you that. I bet you used to know what all your birthday presents were. Before your birthday. Well, Time Lords always did. Planning a surprise do on my planet, was like trying to teach a Dalek to dance. Not completely impossible, but highly unlikely."


"Alright, alright, Rory the Spoiler! Just take the fun out of everything, why don't you? I've hired a limo to take us to the restaurant. With champagne and chocolates. Think of it as another honeymoon...only one without an out of control spaceship." The Doctor drew out this last bit, as if he only just realized he shouldn't have reminded them of it.

"Anyway!" He clapped his hands together. "It's waiting just past the alley entrance. Come on! You know what they say! Time, tide and great big black stretch limousines wait for no man."

Striding off with Amy and Rory trailing behind him, the Doctor stopped short at when he reached the mouth of the alley. The two of them nearly ran into him.

'Oh. Right. Er...do limos have much horsepower, Amy and Rory? Because this one seems to. What's more, it appears to be a convertible, as well."

Standing there on the kerb, was a shiny black horse drawn carriage, of a type known as a brougham. It had green-painted wheels and green leather upholstery. A top-hatted, leather-gloved driver in forest green livery was sat holding the reins of a matched pair of sturdy black horses. In the back stood a footman. This man was kitted out in a similar fashion as the driver, only wearing white cotton gloves and a black velvet riding cap.

Up and down the road of posh row houses, iron shod hooves clopped their tattoos on the cobblestones. Carriages, delivery drays, hansom cabs and riders on horses—the men sitting astride, the ladies sidesaddle. All of them casually shared the road, as if this were a perfectly ordinary thing to do. Sometimes the occasional wood-sided lorry or old-fashioned motor car chugged past, hooting its horn. Everyone was dressed in Edwardian period clothing.

"Must be the BBC is filming a period drama or something." Rory suggested.

"Ooh, maybe we can get in as extras." The Doctor grinned at the idea. "Like I did in that Laurel and Hardy picture. And that very odd health and safety film for the American army, about something called V—

"Yeah. But where are the cameras and crew? I think maybe the TARDIS got things a wee bit wrong. Again. Doctor." Came Amy's sarcastic reply.

"It's still London, though, Amy." The Doctor said smugly. "That advert on the horse-drawn omnibus which just passed us. It's for a London hotel."

"How do you know that hotel's in London, Doctor?" Rory scratched his head. "It could be anywhere."

"None of your corporate clones back then, Rory. Or should I say right now? One hotel, one name. So, it's not so much a matter of where we are, as when."

"You made reservations at a restaurant that doesn't even exist yet?"

"Whoops." Was all the Doctor said.

"But, I'm famished." Rory complained.

"I've an idea. Let's go window shopping. I'm sure we'll pass a nice tea room somewhere on the way. Tea and cake. Lovely. What'dya say?"

"Do we have a choice?" Rory sighed.

"Oh come on, Rory." Amy encouraged him.

"Wait a minute, Amy." The Doctor's voice stopped her.

"What is it, Doctor?"

"You'll have to change, too. Can't have you running around Edwardian London dressed like that. You might get arrested."

"Oh, I hadn't thought of that. Then you'd better come along and change as well, Doctor."

"Me? Why me? " A puzzled Doctor asked.

"Because that penguin suit you're wearing might scare the horses." She smirked.

"No it wouldn't. Tuxedos are cool. Horses dig cool. Why do you think so many of them like jazz?"

"You both go and change. I'm going to talk with the driver of that carriage. See if I can find out what today's date is." Rory suggested.

"Good man, Rory Pond." The Doctor patted him on the shoulder and went off with Amy.

As he walked out on to the street, Rory glanced down at a discarded newspaper lying in the alley. The headlines read 'Ransome Hotel Killer Strikes Again. Fifth Murder Last Night. Police Clueless.'

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