livii: UNIT boys, Three, and Sarah (not to be braggy or anything)
2 of 2! This was a pinch-hit.

Title: Heartland
Characters: Jabe, Sergeant Benton, Jo Grant
Rating: G
Summary: Jo and the Sergeant tell her stories of their favourite trees: the ones they climbed in as children, the ones with sweet apples and sour plums that stained their fingers.
Notes: pinch-hit for doyle_sb4 in the brilliant tardis_gen ficathon, who asked to see 70s UNIT encounter some element of new school canon. It ended up a bit the other way around. Thanks to stunt_muppet for beta reading! ~1,000 words.



She's not supposed to show her liana in public; her people are a secretive race, preferring not to display all their strengths to the world of man, of metal and pillagers.

Jabe has never been quite like the others. She lashes out, two strong vines creating a little net, a lifeline for the Sergeant to grab before he falls, falls so very far.

"Thanks," he calls out, as he holds on tight. She retracts, gently lowering him to the platform, to safety.

"Hope I wasn't too heavy for you," he says, when he's back on solid ground, trying to straighten out his uniform jacket and still leaving it just a little bit off-kilter. "I never thought I'd have my life saved by a tree, but I'm very much obliged to you."

Jabe smiles. "I carry men with me all my life. You are no more heavy than a memory, Sergeant."


**


"We've found," Jo says, a pretty little slip of a girl, not much older than a sapling but with the experience of the elders, "that time and space is a little funny around here."

Jabe has gratefully accepted a seat in the building's rest area, a soft man-made fabric, after several wooden chairs were awkwardly passed over, even though she does not mind. Rest is welcome; crash-landing one's ship is rather tiring, after all.

She looks up, and the tall Sergeant who found her, wandering and dazed from the impact, blushes a little, caught staring.

"We do meet a lot of interesting aliens here," he says, "but you're the first talking tree I've ever seen."

Jabe laughs as Jo tuts at the Sergeant. "It's quite all right," she says. "To you a tree is inanimate, living only in the sense that it pulls nutrients from the ground and gains height and circumference. It is hard for man to picture those trees pulling up their roots, using their branches for leverage, and lifting off into the sky."

"You can fly?" the Sergeant asks, and Jabe laughs again. These are the ancestors of those who made her, she thinks. She had been so disappointed when she crashed so far off course from her ancestral home. Now, she thinks, she is learning far more than she would have thought possible.


**


"The Doctor's off with the Brigadier, investigating a call in the country. Usually we'd rely on him to – help out a little!" Jo gasps as another energy beam blasts away at their hiding place.

"We'll soon put this right, just you wait," the Sergeant says, and he shoulders his gun, and runs out right into the heart of the danger.

Jabe looks at Jo, and without words, she knows the girl is as strong as she looks, that these humans have a definition of bravery that takes her breath away. She reaches out her hand, and Jo takes it carefully in her own.

They run out after the Sergeant together. Later, Jabe will save his life, and he will save his people, and the planet will continue to survive, growing day by day towards a time when her people will be taken from the land; when her people will begin to exist.

"They just stole you from the Amazon?" Jo asks, later, her voice a little faraway, a little uncertain. "Thousands and thousands of trees?" Jabe has been explaining why she came to this planet; why she wanted to meet her dead ancestors, mute and bound, strong and rooted.

"Millions," Jabe replies, but there's no reproach, just a simple statement of fact. "But look what it created," she continues. "My people wouldn't exist otherwise. We all keep changing."

"It's life," the Sergeant says. Everyone nods.


**


She spends several days with her new friends. She has found a kinship, here, that she would never have expected.

The Time Lords, she knows, are not a benevolent race; she wonders if there will be hell to pay for her tumble through time. She resolves to leave before this Doctor and Brigadier return; she still does not know if she can trust men of authority, men who make decisions to uproot a species and fly them across the universe.


**


Jo and the Sergeant tell her stories of their favourite trees: the ones they climbed in as children, the ones with sweet apples and sour plums that stained their fingers.

She inhales these stories, absorbs them, as they sit in the dark and wonderful room they call a pub, drinking bitter liquids. The walls are all made of wood and she feels at home; metal and machines have faded away, here, and she thinks this is where their ancestors are, where they come from, their history.

"I broke my arm falling from our treehouse when I was seven," Jo says, laughing. "It didn't stop me from climbing back up again as soon as the cast was off!"

She thinks: I damaged one of my lianas, just a bit, when I caught the Sergeant from falling. I would do it again anyway, she thinks. I would do it again.


**


Jabe Ceth Ceth Jafe has travelled through time, a number of years so large she almost cannot comprehend it. She has missed her destination; she has not seen the near-mythical Amazon, though a young girl named Jo has shown her a photograph, on paper, paper made from wood.

The Sergeant waves enthusiastically as she gets into her repaired ship, sets the controls to hopefully take her home. On his left, Jo smiles widely and waves just as wildly. They have enjoyed meeting her; they have learned from her, become more aware, more thoughtful.

She could try again. It's only a short hop, they've assured her, spatial and not temporal, but as she relaxes into the chair, snaking lianas around the controls above and below her, she thinks: I've never been quite like the others.

Jabe goes home. Outside headquarters, the Sergeant waters a tiny sapling every day that it doesn't rain. In thirty, forty, fifty years, there will be a tall, strong tree to give shade to his descendants.

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