Author: Paranoidangel (paranoidangel42)
Summary: It was supposed to be a simple trip across a lake.
Fandom: Doctor Who
Characters: Fourth Doctor, Sarah Jane Smith, Harry Sullivan
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Beta: by hhertzof and selenay936
Original story: Five Times The Doctor Narrowly Avoided Certain Death (With the Help Of His Traveling Companions) by Biichan
"What are you going to say to them, Doctor?" Sarah asked as he clambered into the small rowing boat.
"I don't know. I rather think I might make something up on the spot." He gave her a wide, toothy grin.
Sarah smiled back and shook her head. By now she knew better than to take his words at face value and he was probably already thinking about what he needed to say to the Raagdal Tribe, who lived on the other side of the lake. But he liked to make people think he was more brilliant than he was and could talk his way through a delicate negotiation with no preparation.
They had been on their way to Scotland to answer the Brigadier's call and had somehow accidentally landed here. The aliens they'd come across had a morbid fear of something they called Cyclaus that the tribe who lived on the other side of the lake had set on them. Upon questioning it turned out none of them had ever actually seen it, whatever it was. However, it had meant no contact with the other tribe that shared this land and they were suffering from the lack of one particular nutrient in their food. Which was only found on the other side of the lake, of course.
The boat had come from the TARDIS, although goodness knows what the Doctor was doing with it in there. He sat down at one end and pulled his hat down over his eyes, thereby confirming Sarah's suspicions. Harry stood easily in the boat and she was only too happy to take his outstretched hand. Since she couldn't swim she wasn't entirely sure about there only being a small amount of wood between her and a lake of indeterminate depth.
The Doctor didn't appear to be paying any attention, so she said, "I'll help row."
Harry shook his head and only let go of her hand once she was seated at the other end of the boat from the Doctor. "I used to row at university," he said. "I'm quite looking forward to getting some practise in."
As she didn't know how to row, she couldn't really complain about that. Besides, Harry was off already and she wasn't at all sure it was a good idea to try and grab an oar from him. It was quite nice, she had to admit, to watch him work. She wondered what else he did to keep fit because those muscles couldn't have come from nowhere.
The trip across the lake was pleasant, if silent, until they neared the shore and Sarah could see the aliens on the other side. They also had four arms, and the only thing she could see that was different about these ones was that they lived on the opposite side of the lake from the tribe they'd landed among. It didn't surprise her, though. She rather suspected it was the usual case of a misunderstanding that would be easily cleared up. Assuming the Doctor didn't annoy them, of course. "I can see them," she said, softly, in case her voice carried.
The Doctor twisted round to look. "Aha!" Now she really was sure he'd been considering what to say, because he stood up, which rocked the boat more than Harry's rowing had. Sarah grabbed onto the side and Harry gave her a reassuring smile, although she didn't feel any more relaxed about it. The Doctor never got a word out because as soon as he spread his arms for a grand beginning something that looked distinctly like a giant frog made a sudden appearance in the water next to them.
Shocked, Sarah screamed. Harry jumped, lost an oar and grabbed her arm. The upshot of which was the Doctor losing his footing. In response, the boat rocked from one side to the other and the next thing Sarah knew she was trying to breathe in lake water. Fortunately, Harry was still holding onto her and blindly, she grabbed at him. As soon as she had, her head was above water once again and she breathed in big gulps of air.
"All right, Sarah?" he asked, but he was looking around him, not at her.
"I can't swim." She felt slightly safer now she had a firm grip on something, but still just as scared of drowning.
"Right, then." He twisted round in her grip and they ended up so her back was to his. "Keep still and I'll have you out of here in a jiffy."
She nodded and then Harry had her on her back, with him pulling her along. She concentrated on the sky and clouds overhead, which were the same shades of blue and white that were found on Earth. Although usually it was the sky that was blue and the clouds white. "I really must learn to swim," she said to him, mostly just for something to say. He just grunted in response and she kept quiet after that, guessing he was probably working hard.
When his grip on her changed she almost panicked, but he said, "You should be able to stand up now."
She didn't let go of him until her feet found the ground and then the water was up to her chest. Her nerves were still shot away, though, and she only let go of him reluctantly.
"Get out of the water before you freeze," he said. "I'm going back for the Doctor."
Harry was already swimming back to where the boat bobbed along on the lake before he could answer her question. The Doctor was nowhere to be seen. Sarah had just assumed he'd swum for the side while Harry was helping her. Surely he'd have learnt to swim at some point in his lives?
She stayed where she was, worrying, and frustrated at not being able to do anything to help as she watched Harry dive under the water. His black socks were the last thing of him she saw and she held her breath waiting for him to come up again.
It was only when she was beginning to need to breathe out that at last she saw him again, and with the Doctor, she was relieved to see. Only now did she start wading out of the water and by the time Harry was back with the Doctor she was sitting shivering on the bank. The aliens had disappeared. She hadn't seen them go and she wondered if the appearance of the giant frog had something to do with it.
From here she could see the Doctor was unconscious, so she rushed back into the lake to help Harry pull him out. Once the Doctor was lying on his back on the bank, Harry bent over him and Sarah noticed he wasn't breathing. Although it was hard to tell with the Doctor: he didn't have a respiratory system quite like everyone else. It was enough to prompt Harry into action, though, because he started on what Sarah recognised as CPR, even if she didn't know enough to do it herself.
As she watched, she had one hand to her mouth, not noticing the smell of her wet sleeve and willing the Doctor to just hurry up and breathe. If he wasn't breathing and his hearts weren't beating then he was technically dead, wasn't he? They needed him to negotiate with these aliens and to get them home: she didn't have enough confidence to work the TARDIS without something going wrong. But more than that he was her friend and she didn't know what she'd do if he died. It was hard to swallow past the lump in her throat just considering it. So she tried to stop thinking and instead counted along with Harry as he pressed on the Doctor's chest.
Then, all of a sudden, just as Harry was giving the Doctor his two breaths, the Doctor drew in one of his own. Harry quickly turned him on his side and he coughed lake water onto the ground. He had barely stopped when he said, "Why, Harry, I never knew you felt that way for me," with a big grin on his face as if nothing had happened at all.
"Oh, Doctor." Sarah rushed forward from where she'd been sat to take hold of the Doctor's hand and reassure herself he was still there. "We weren't sure you were going to make it."
"Hello, Sarah Jane," he replied, then blinked. "Me, die? That would be an altogether too frivolous thing to do. Why, I've barely lived. I'm still on my first millennium, you know."
Sarah laughed tightly, relieved but not really amused by his remark.
The Doctor was already sitting up and looking round. "Well, we're on the right side of the lake, at least. Let's go and find the Raagdal Tribe, and then on to Scotland and the Brigadier!"
"You should take it easy," Harry said, nevertheless helping the Doctor up. "That was a nasty crack on your head, I don't mind telling you."
Now it made sense. The Doctor must have hit his head on the boat as it went over and they fell in the lake.
The Doctor waved a hand, gathered up his scarf and started walking, wringing it out as he went.
"He will be all right, won't he?" Sarah asked Harry as she took his hand up.
Harry looked towards where the Doctor was striding away and sighed. "Nothing wrong with the old chap."
However, he wasn't quite concentrating on what he was doing and instead of helping her up, she brought him down on top of her.
"Sorry, old girl," he said, moving away quickly and not catching her eye.
"Harry." She caught at his arm. "Why don't you wait here? You deserve a rest."
He looked toward the Doctor again, but by this time he was already disappearing into the distance. Although they could still hear his booming voice calling out to the Raagdal Tribe. "Jolly good idea," Harry said, settling down.
Sarah shifted over next to him, not quite up for a run just yet, and she was worried about Harry now. Her hair was still dripping everywhere and she started wringing it out.
Harry took off his blazer and made a face at it. "You should have said you couldn't swim. We'd have left you on the other side of the lake."
"Because you would have left me on the other side of the lake." Which was a pretty good reason, she thought. "But if I hadn't been there the Doctor wouldn't have almost died." She bit her lip.
He shook his head. "I don't think a few minutes would have made any difference. Maybe if he'd been a human." He shrugged. "No harm done anyway."
"What are you two doing sitting around?"
Startled, Sarah jumped up. "Done already, Doctor?" she asked, incredulously.
He grinned. "And I have a new boat. Goes with the TARDIS nicely, don't you think?"
The aliens were carrying a boat that was a little bigger than the one that now bobbed along in the middle of the lake. This one was blue.
She rolled her eyes. "Let's go home."
"It's been quite enough excitement for one day," Harry agreed.
On the way back, with a few of the aliens in the boat with them, Harry let her take one oar. Although given the way he pressed close to her, Sarah suspected it was mainly because he was afraid he'd have to rescue her again. She certainly had no intention of giving him the chance. Besides, she was shivering now it was all over and the adrenalin had worn off. She didn't fancy another dip, except in a hot bath.
"What did you say to them?" she asked the Doctor to take her mind off it. She couldn't think what he could have said to make them agree that fast.
"Well, it turns out that our friends here are just as scared of the Giant Frog as you are."
Sarah glared at him but he carried on regardless.
"Apparently, it's an ill omen and unless they meet with the other tribe they'll all die." He leaned closer and lowered his voice. "Although they also needed a nutrient that's only found on the other side of the lake so it was all quite amicable really."
She sighed. "At least the frog was good for something other than nearly getting us all killed." She would have preferred an ordinary diplomatic solution with no lives in danger, though.
"If you're going to help row, old girl, I'd really rather prefer it if you did your bit."
While the Doctor was talking she had got distracted and forgotten what she was supposed to be doing. "Oh, sorry." The rowing itself was not getting any easier, though, and her arms grew more tired with every stroke. Not that she was going to tell Harry that. But by the time they were safely back on dry land she was yawning.
"I think we all need a rest before we get to Scotland," Harry suggested.
"What's that?" The Doctor turned from offering jelly babies to various aliens. "Oh, you go ahead. I'll just stay and chat with these lovely chaps here."
Sarah smiled and shook her head. Sometimes the Doctor could just be so incorrigible, but she wouldn't want him any other way. She took the arm Harry offered her, although his sleeve was just as wet as hers. "You were quite the hero today, rescuing both of us."
He ducked his head, but she could see he'd gone red.
Although she meant it, she didn't say anything more on the topic. Except, when they stopped to open the TARDIS door, and Harry held it for her, she reached up and kissed him on the cheek.
Note: Cyclorana australis is commonly called the Northern Snapping Frog or Giant Frog