Introducing Gerard...and the suburbs of New Jersey.
Rain. That was the first thing they noticed about New Jersey. Pouring, torrential rain. It pounded on car roofs, creating a dull metallic twang to blend in with the backsplash coming from the pavements, trickling down windows and the backs of shirts.
It was nighttime and they were on the corner of two suburban streets, few people were out. It wasn't overly cold but there was still a biting tinge to the air.
'Most exciting place I've ever been to, huh?' Hannibal asked The Doctor. He merely smiled at her as she wrapped her arms around herself.
'Bit of rain never hurt anyone,' he said, raking a hand through his already soaking hair, 'come on.' He strode forwards before turning to his left.
'This way.' She followed him, as always, as he lead her down a fairly dilapidated street. Many of the houses had boards in some of their windows and the majority of the gardens were over grown and messy, full of rusting bikes, empty beer cans and unused children's toys. There were lights on in nearly every house but the windows were covered by a curtain or blind, blocking the people in and the world out.
Hannibal had a bad feeling about this place.
'Do you have any idea where we are?' The Doctor asked Hannibal after coming to an abrupt stop at the end of the street.
'Never thought I'd see the day when you ask me that question,' Hannibal replied, causing The Doctor to raise an eyebrow at her, 'but no, I'm not overly familiar with the suburbs of New Jersey, surprisingly.'
'Ah well,' The Doctor said, turning around to look in all directions, 'I reckon we wonder for a while, got to be somewhere decent where we can find shelter round here.' He strode off once again this time down an alleyway. It was dimly lit and cluttered, with now soggy cardboard boxes, crates and wheelie bins. They weaved their way in and out of the objects before The Doctor stopped suddenly and put his arm out to prevent Hannibal walking any further. She peered round him to see what they had avoided.
A group of young men were stood around, a few smoking what didn't smell like tobacco. They all had their hoods up but Hannibal was sure it wasn't because if the rain. Two of them were talking, stood very close together, in hushed tones, moving their hands animatedly.
They watched the scene unfold before them, slowly becoming drenched by the rain, until they saw one of the boys turn towards them.
'And who do you guys fink you are? Listenin' in on private business?' he asked. His accent was deep American with a thick, Jersey drawl. The two men stood talking, turned to look at The Doctor and Hannibal.
'Ah, now, we were just...' The Doctor began, turning to look at Hannibal. She quickly looked back to the slowly approaching men.
'We were just...leaving,' she said, grabbing The Doctor's arm and walking backwards towards the other end of the alley. They turned around in preparation to run when they saw another group of men, who looked alarmingly similar to the others, approaching. The Doctor looked down at Hannibal as if asking her what to do next. She looked around the alley and that's when she noticed it, on the wall to her right. A door. She saw the bottom of the curtain covering the little window move before the door was pulled open from the inside and someone with a Jersey accent was calling them in.
'In here, quick!' they said. Hannibal entered first and walked a little into the building, in a sort of thin hallway. The Doctor quickly followed, dashing past both of them and into the house, the door being shut quickly behind him. They both turned to look at the person who saved them. It was a man of maybe twenty years old. He had just below the chin length, cherry red hair and piercing, dirty green eyes. His skin was pale and he had deep bags under his bloodshot eyes, he looked as if he'd been crying.
'You shouldn't go wondering around Jersey at night by yourselves, it's not safe,' he said quietly. The Doctor cocked his head to the side.
'Well, I've been in worse situations, much worse actu-' Hannibal elbowed him in the side and shot him a slightly angry look in response to his pained one.
'Am I being rude again?' he asked.
'Yes, you are,' she replied before turning back to the man, 'thank you for your help but we'd better be going, we wouldn't want to get in your way. Could you show us out?' She smiled at him. He smiled back.
'Oh, well, your welcome to stay. At least until we know they've moved on,' he said, pointing towards the door, 'they tend to hold grudges.' Hannibal glanced at The Doctor.
'Can't hurt, can it?' he asked, smiling at both of them in turn.
'I'm Gerard, by the way,' the man said, 'the kitchens through here.'
'Hello Gerard, I'm The Doctor and this is Hannibal. Nice to meet you.'
They sat in Gerard's kitchen, sipping their coffees in a slightly awkward silence.
'So, you're clearly not from around here,' Gerard said, suddenly. Hannibal nodded.
'No we're, we're British. Well, I am, The Doctor's from somewhere else originally.' She turned to look at him.
'Yeah, it's pretty far away,' he said.
'Very far away actually,' Hannibal added.
'Well....yeah. But not really too far,' The Doctor said, looking at Hannibal.
'No, not really too far...from here.'
'Yeah, not too far from New, New Jersey.' They both turned to look at Gerard at the same time wearing matching, toothy smiles. He gave them a quizzical look and they both continued to smile at him.
'Okay...' Gerard said, 'what is it you're a doctor of, exactly?' he asked.
'Everything,' The Doctor replied. Gerard responded by deepening his quizzical look.
'Which means...?' he asked.
'Just everything, I guess. I never really thought about it,' he replied.
Hannibal placed her empty mug on the kitchen counter.
'Well, this has been lovely, thank you Gerard, but we really have to go,' she said, looking towards The Doctor.
'Yes!' he began, 'very busy, must dash. Nice meeting you though. Any chance you can direct us to the front door?' Gerard walked past both of them and out into the hallway.
'Of course, it's this way,' he opened the door for them and they stepped out into the now light drizzle, 'come by again if you're passing.'
'We will, thanks again,' Hannibal smiled at him.
'Goodbye,' The Doctor waved.
They walked away from the house and heard Gerard close the door.
'Nice guy,' The Doctor said. Hannibal nodded.
'Where to now?' The Doctor looked around before replying.
'This way,' he said, leading off again.
They walked to the middle of Belleville, talking the entire way, far too busy to notice Gerard keeping to the shadows and trailing behind the two mysterious strangers.