trobadora: (Jack kissing by kataclysmic)
trobadora ([personal profile] trobadora) wrote in [community profile] wintercompanion2017-07-03 10:13 pm

beesandbrews: You can thank me, some other time. (Nine/Jack) [All Ages] - SUMMER HOLIDAYS PROMPT 2

Title: You can thank me, some other time.
Author: [ profile] beesandbrews
Beta with thanks, by: anonymous
Prompt: 2 - mischief, jumping, hideout, Proclaimers - Five Hundred Miles
Rating: all ages, contains actions and behaviour consistent with the characterisation of Jack Harkness and various incarnations of the Doctor.
Pairing/Characters: Jack Harkness, the 3rd Doctor, Jo Grant, Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, (past Jack/9th Doctor)
Word Count: ~ 4400
Spoilers/warnings: none
Disclaimer: This is a work of fan fiction. No copyright infringement is intended.

Summary: Jack finally catches up with the Doctor. The problem is, he's not the man Jack thought he was going to be. But the more things change, the more they stay the same. A crisis is still brewing, a pretty girl is still at the Doctor's side, and Jack still has a job to do, whether he wants to or not.

* * * * *

Jack woke.

He was billeted in a section of the barracks reserved for seconded officers, and the accommodations weren't half bad. The bed was comfortable, the room was nicely appointed with more amenities than were usually found in military quarters, and the heating worked. Despite the apparent seriousness of the current situation, UNIT was trying to keep the number of people in the know to a minimum, so he had the bathroom down the hall to himself.

He lay there, trying to sort his dream from his memories. In his dreams, he and the Doctor had never parted. Instead they had gone adventuring in the TARDIS. Sometimes with Rose, sometimes on their own. Getting into the sort of mischief that could only be caused by two men who, for their own reasons, were looking to escape their pasts. The dreams were much better than the bitter reality that had left the Doctor to a fate that Jack couldn't quite wrap his brain around, while he was forced to watch and wait, and worst of all hope that he hadn't truly been abandoned by someone he had cared about deeply. By someone who he thought had cared about him too.

When Torchwood had caught wind of a rumour that the Doctor was back on Earth and working for UNIT, of all organisations, Jack had been obsessed with finding his way back to the Time Lord. He would have walked five hundred miles. A thousand miles, if that was what it took to find his way to the Doctor's door.

Jack closed his eyes. He pictured the Doctor in his mind's eye, from his closely cropped brown hair and protruding ears, that were delightfully sensitive when caressed, to his worn brown leather jacket and sensible black work trousers. He shivered in anticipation of their reunion. "I need answers, Doctor," he whispered. "About what happened to you, and especially what happened to me. And I'm willing to do whatever it takes to get them from you."

With an anticipatory grin, Jack rose from his bed and began to prepare for what he hoped would be a very eventful day.

* * * * *

"Doctor," Jo Grant frowned at the display. The needle on the device was swinging erratically from the top of the dial to zero and back again. "I don't understand this at all."

"Nor do I, my dear," the Doctor replied absently. He was currently absorbed trying to cobble together several pieces of electronic equipment into a something that none of their various manufacturers had ever anticipated. "If I can just get the outflow of the current to modulate properly... " he muttered, more to himself than to Jo.

There was a light tap at the door and then the slightly embarrassed clearing of a throat. "Ah, Doctor, Miss Grant, I've brought you another pair of hands."

Jo looked up and appraised the army captain who was frowning rather deeply as he regarded the Doctor. His expression became one of polite interest when he noticed Jo looking at him. He strode forward with his hand extended. "Captain Jack Harkness."

The Doctor stabbed the soldering iron back into its cradle, venting some of his frustration. He frowned at Captain Harkness nearly as deeply as Captain Harkness had frowned at him. "What's an American doing in a British Army uniform?"

Jack shrugged. "I travelled a lot when I was younger. Someone suggested to me Britain would be a good place to stay awhile. Eventually I came round to their point of view." He smiled a thousand watt smile at Jo. "I hope you don't think I was being rude when I first came in, Miss Grant. I heard the Doctor was a much younger man."

"Young at heart, I like to think," the Doctor retorted as if his age was something of a sore spot. He smoothed invisible wrinkles from the front of his black velvet jacket and shot the frilled cuffs of his immaculately tailored, plum-coloured shirt. "Now that the niceties are out of the way, suppose you tell me what I'm attempting to do here." He stepped back from the workbench and gestured that Jack should take his place.

For a full minute Jack peered at the rat's nest of wires and circuit boards. Then he picked up a probe, stuck it into the guts of the machine, and tinkered with the oscilloscope. When it produced a square wave at a regular interval he narrowed his eyes. "A space displacement monitor? I take it this has something to do with the odd radio signals and the cluster of disturbances that were reported not far from here."

"He shows promise, Brigadier." The Doctor studied Jack more closely. He stepped over to a data entry point, typed several lines of code into the computer and then when it spewed a length of paper tape out of a slot, he handed the results to Jack. "What do you make of these?"

Jack traced the jagged, jumping lines of red and blue ink with a fingertip. "Do you have the list of disturbances handy?"

Jo handed him a thick folder full of incident reports. Jack opened the folder. The top sheet was a summary document. He handed that list back to Jo. "Read the times and dates out for me, will you?"

"Thirtieth of April, twelve hundred hours. Fifth of May, fourteen hundred hours. Tenth of May – "

"Sixteen hundred hours," Jack finished for her. "There's a pattern here."

The Brigadier's expression was tense as he asked, "Doctor, what are you getting at?"

"What we're getting at," the Doctor replied, subtly reminded the Brigadier that he wasn't working alone, "is someone has been knocking at your door, and – " He glanced up at the clock on the wall. "in another twenty-two hours and five minutes, they're going to be knocking again, so you better be prepared to jump to."

* * * * *

At first Jack was positive that Torchwood had screwed up and had proceeded under the influence of bad intel when he was introduced to the rather flamboyant older gentleman that Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart referred to as Doctor. He looked nothing like either the solidly built Northerner Jack knew or the arrogant young man who had travelled to Scotland with Rose and so irritated Victoria, causing the queen to create an entire organisation devoted to his capture and arrest.

His stomach had sunk straight down to his boots, and the sense of disappointment had been so palpable he had barely been able to suppress an audible moan. But after the rigours of the impromptu practical examination, his doubts had faded. The man who favoured evening dress over casual clobber was the Doctor. He just wasn't Jack's Doctor. This Doctor had never been to the Game Station. He couldn't provide the answers Jack so desperately sought.

Now he had a problem.

Several of them, in point of fact, he amended to himself as he drained another inch of whisky from the bottle he had been contemplating. The alcohol burned its way down his throat and he flopped down on the mattress of his bunk and stared up at the ceiling. He was moderately drunk. Against orders, of course. He was on call in case there were any further developments in the current crisis.

An alien incursion. What a plan. Just the sort of thing Torchwood would come up with. Jack moaned. Aliens were always having incursions. Usually they were just lost. They'd taken the galactic equivalent of a wrong turn at Albuquerque. Occasionally they were hostile. Jack furrowed his brow. Actually, he was wrong. That was how it had been for nearly a hundred years, but not any longer. According to Torchwood's records, they were seeing a downturn in lost travellers and a sharp uptick in scouting parties and forward units.

Of course his superiors blamed the Doctor. As soon as word reached them he might be on Earth and shielded by their biggest rival in the fighting aliens business, they joined up the dots and reached their conclusion. Get rid of the Doctor and the hostile aliens would find some other planet to harass.

In his somewhat alcohol dimmed brain, the logic made more sense than it had when he had been called into the Director's office and his assignment had been laid out for him. It was simple and straightforward. Which meant, he realised, it was probably bollocks. Nothing having to do with the Doctor, or alien invasion fleets, even fake ones, for that matter, was ever simple.

As he well knew.

Why couldn't he have walked into the lab and seen his Doctor poking and prodding the crude monitoring circuit? Why couldn't the young woman at the Doctor's side been Rose instead of Jo Grant?

Despite his gloomy mood, Jack grinned. At least some things about the Doctor never changed. He was still at the centre of the action in the middle of a crisis, and never far from his side, there still was a pretty girl to lend a hand.

Jo looked like a thoroughly modern sort, with her mod clothing and ring bejewelled fingers. He wondered about how she felt about being companion to a Time Lord. They seemed close, but their affection, in Jack's view, appeared to be more familial than romantic. The hug of encouragement she had given him had seemed like the type one gave a favoured uncle rather than a lover.

Jack tried to sit up. The room spun, and he slumped back against the mattress again, regarding the bottle of Scotch critically. It was nearly empty. He frowned at it. It had been full when he had returned to his quarters. He had been taking nips from it, fuelling his sense of crushing disappointment. If he did make it to the Doctor's door more than likely he would fall down at it. He took the last draught from the bottle and dropped it by his side.

Better to shut his eyes and dream about the good times they had once shared.

* * * * *

The Doctor was working late. At his insistence, Jo had gone home hours before. He needed to think. Not about the alien incursion. That would go as they generally did, and be sorted in due course. No, it was the young American captain that occupied the Doctor's thoughts. He didn't quite add up.

He was much too familiar with concepts that should be foreign to him, for starters. Even the most lettered human scientists of the twentieth century were just getting their heads wrapped around interplanetary travel and inter-dimensional breaches in space-time, and yet Captain Jack Harkness had no difficulty with his explanations. In fact, it seemed on several occasions he was feigning ignorance, and not because he was attempting to hide his intelligence under a bushel basket.

Captain Harkness was a problem. And at present, a much more interesting problem than whomever was coming through a portal tomorrow afternoon. The Doctor put down his tools and decided perhaps he should investigate.

* * * * *

There was a soft knock at Jack's door, followed by a more insistent one.

Jack stirred, reluctant to wake. Once again he was dreaming of happier times, when he had been adventuring and the Doctor had been leading the way.

The knocking stopped. Jack rolled over and buried his face against the pillows.

Abruptly, he wakened fully. He was no longer alone.

"I'm sorry to invade your privacy," a now familiar voice said, "but I thought we needed to talk."

Somewhere between passing out in a drunken stupor and waking to the sound of the Doctor's voice, Jack had found the wherewithal to strip out of his uniform and crawl naked under the blankets. Normally, being naked wasn't a problem, but he felt vulnerable around the Doctor at the best of times.

This was far from the best of times.

Dragging the blankets along with him so he wouldn't be overly exposed, Jack sat up and passed his palm over his sleep-gritted eyes. He frowned. He had been frowning a lot since arriving at the UNIT base, he thought parenthetically. Despite drinking a fifth of scotch, he had the barest of hangovers, no more than a slight pounding behind his eyes and a furry tongue. The TARDIS must be somewhere nearby, Jack realised. He felt his heart clench and hope kindled anew. Maybe there was a way out of this for them both.

The Doctor was looking down at him with an expression of sympathy. Jack was suddenly deeply aware of the bottle lying empty near his knees and wished there was a way to conceal it from the Doctor. But he knew it was too late. The bottle had been observed, and the Doctor had drawn conclusions. It was only a matter of time before Jack knew how harshly he would be judged.

"Perhaps a cup of tea is in order, don't you agree?" The Doctor glanced around the room, located the small hospitality service on the desk, and busied himself with the kettle. Taking advantage of the Doctor's turned back, Jack found his trousers and vest and quickly donned them.

The Doctor handed him a cup of strong, black tea and said, "Get that down you, then tell me who you really are."

Caught out, Jack forced his brain into gear. "I don't know what you mean." He shrugged after taking a sip of his tea. It was good, and helped to wash away the fur that coated both his tongue and his brain.

"Come, come, young man," the Doctor chided."Your knowledge of space-time dynamics and quantum circuits is far too advanced for someone from this era. You're about as American as I am British. Where are you from? And why are you here?"

"Ah." Jack drank more tea. He knew things were going to get sticky as soon as he became aware it was the Doctor who had come for a late night chat, but he hadn't anticipated things would get complicated quite so fast. "That's a bit hard to explain."

The Doctor gave him a look which spoke volumes. Evidentially, prickly was a personality characteristic that didn't change, even when the Doctor's face did. "Try anyway."

Jack drank more of his tea. It was too hot to gulp, and it burned in an entirely different way from the scotch, but the small pain took away the last of his mental fog. He blew out a breath and regarded the nearly empty cup for a long moment before looking up to meet the Doctor's eyes. "You have no idea how good it is to see you, Doctor. Believe me when I say it's been way too long."

The Doctor regarded Jack with a sharp expression. "We've met before?"

Jack nodded. He wanted to explain more fully, but there were rules about these sorts of encounters. Rules he was badly tempted to ignore. He put down the cup and made a line in the air with his hand. "We are here." He stabbed at an invisible point and then at a second point close to where the line had ended. "We met over here."

The Doctor frowned, taking in Jack's explanation, and trying to parse it into something that made sense. "You're a time traveller?"

There were several ways to answer that question, none of which would add clarity to what was presently going on. "I – " Jack hesitated. He wanted to tell the Doctor that once upon a time they had travelled together, but knew even that would be revealing too much. He shook his head. "It's complicated. Look, you have to get out of here. Leave Earth."

The Doctor glanced heavenward and sighed. "If that I could, dear boy. If that I could, but my ship is currently out of commission. I can no more leave Earth than you can." He regarded Jack speculatively. "Or can you?"

Jack shook his head, and clamped his lips shut rather than exclaim aloud over whatever had befallen the TARDIS. If he had his own way off the rock that had been his home for the last several decades he would shanghai the Doctor and worry about the details later. The TARDIS was nearby, the proof was in how fast his hangover was dissipating. "Maybe we can fix your ship."

The Doctor chuckled without humour. "Not even someone of your obvious talents can reprogram the dematerialisation codes using twentieth century computers, even if I had a working dematerialisation circuit to program them in to." He offered Jack more tea and when he declined, set the pot down and then pulled up a chair so that they were sitting with their knees practically touching. "So you know me, and you think I'm in some sort of danger. Is that it?"

"Not think. Know. Tomorrow's alien invasion is a trap."

"A trap? What sort of a trap?" The Doctor spoke over Jack. "Who would want to trap me?"

Jack didn't have the time or inclination to answer such a loaded question. He decided to keep it simple. "There's an organisation called Torchwood. Before UNIT came to town, they were in charge of guarding the United Kingdom and all the other places that were part of the realm, from alien threats. Including," Jack said with just a hint of a smile, "you."

The Doctor pointed at his chest. "Me?" His tone was decidedly affronted. "What have I ever done to them?"

Jack shrugged. He only had the second hand version of the story, and doubted he could do it justice. Besides, it had happened. It would happen again. And warning the Doctor not to irritate Queen Victoria would only cause a paradox.

"All I know is that tomorrow, instead of a bunch of angry aliens looking to plunder Earth, your UNIT buddies are going to be scrapping with some of Torchwood's finest done up to look like Scorn Marauders, while I'm spiriting you away to a safe house. Then after the smoke clears, I'm to escort you from our hideout straight to Torchwood's HQ in London to answer charges. And because of who issued the warrant, UNIT won't be able to do anything about it, if Torchwood gets their hands on you."

The Doctor mulled over Jack's story. "So, the spatial distortions?"

Jack resisted an urge to reach out and trace the new lines of the Doctor's face and commit them to memory. He stuck his thumbs through his braces to anchor them instead. "Torchwood likes to collect alien gadgets."

"And you? What did you hope to achieve from this assignment." The Doctor's eyes twinkled as he smiled knowingly. "Clearly you had no intention of following through with your mission."

They were getting into dangerous territory again. Jack hesitated, marshalling his thoughts. Finally he said, "If you were the person I thought you'd be, I would have asked some questions I need the answers to, and maybe – " He let what might have been hang on the air.

"And now?"

Another loaded question. When Jack and his Doctor had met, all those years ago in the future, it had been as strangers. When they parted, this time around, the Doctor could have no memory of their premature reunion. It was with a heavy heart that Jack said, "Another cup of tea?" He rose from his perch on the mattress, slipping his hand into his pocket and palming the small vial of Retcon he carried for just such contingencies. They would share a parting cup, and then Jack would walk the Doctor back to his lab, and there he would set in motion a plan of his own that would force Torchwood to rescind its warrant for the Doctor's arrest. No doubt it would cause grief to rain down upon him once he reported back to HQ, but he would do anything for the Doctor. A year. A decade. A century. Some how, some way, their fates would align properly. They would meet again and Jack would finally have the reunion he dreamt of, and the answers he so desperately wanted.

He slipped Retcon into the Doctor's cup, and refilled it with tea. He smiled as he handed the cup over and said, "If we put our heads together, I'm sure we can come up with a way around all of this."

They drank tea. The Doctor frowned at his cup and then he started to slump. He tried to speak, but he wasn't able to form words. The cup fell from his hand, spilling the last of the tainted brew. Jack caught him as he fell forward, and held him far longer than he should have done, savouring the moment. Reluctantly, he gently laid the Doctor onto the bed and quickly dressed. Then he once again scooped the Doctor into his arms and put his plan into motion.

* * * * *

The Doctor woke in his laboratory with his head cradled by a stack of reports and readouts. He yawned and stretched out a kink in his back, grimacing as he did so. Rarely had he awoken with anything but a clear head and a sense of purpose. This morning he felt muddled and had the vague sense that something wasn't quite right.

He shuffled the paperwork back into reasonably ordered stacks, to ward off any good natured teasing from Jo or the Brigadier, and came across a note scrawled in an unfamiliar hand attached to a printout of a map. It read:


You're absolutely right. When you reversed the polarity of the phase modulator it became clear that whoever was sending the signal wasn't doing it from space after all. In fact, after triangulating the readings through the computer, it appears that the signal was sent from a place called Mermaid Quay, in Cardiff. (Map with coordinates annotated attached.)

The note was unsigned.

The Doctor rubbed his forehead and decided that a cup of coffee was in order. As if he had sent a psychic command, Jo walked in bearing a tray, followed by Lethbridge-Stewart. Both of them seemed to be moving a little less energetically than they usually did.

Jo had to cover her mouth against a yawn as soon as she set down the tray. "Coffee, Doctor?"

He nodded absently, his mind still on the strange note. He supposed it was from one of the technicians who was at his beck and call, even very late at night and during the wee hours of the morning. They were nice enough chaps, but none of them were ever posted to the overnight shift for very long, and thus they tended not to leave much of a lasting impression.

"What do you know about Cardiff, Brigadier?" He smiled a good morning as Jo set a cup of black coffee down on the table in front of him. "Thank you, Jo, sleep well?"

Jo seemed a bit puzzled as she replied. "I suppose so. I can't think why I'm so groggy this morning, I was out light a light as soon as my head hit the pillow."

When the Doctor redirected his attention to Lethbridge-Stewart the other man was frowning with consternation. "Why do you ask that, Doctor?" he asked.

"Because according to this note, and these calculations, and this map – " He waved a sheaf of papers in the Brigadier's direction. "That's where our alien incursion force is based. A place called Mermaid Quay. What a picturesque sounding name."

The Brigadier's consternation deepened. He all but slammed his mug down on the table, sloshing coffee in several directions, glanced over the map with its triangulated lines and reference points and said, "Well, I'll be dashed. It looks like the cat's out of the bag where you're concerned, Doctor. Torchwood has finally twigged you're working for us." He rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "I suppose I'll have to escalate this up to UNIT Central Command. This sort of inter-agency dispute is in their bailiwick." He laid his hand on the Doctor's shoulder and gave it a friendly squeeze. "I'm afraid that means until I get this sorted, you'll be restricted from leaving the base. For your own safety, this time."

"My own safety?" Whatever groggy feeling the Doctor had experienced was overcome by a wave of hot indignation. "Whatever for?"

The Brigadier seemed discomfited for a moment and then he gave the Doctor smile that suggested he didn't mean to enjoy being on the other side of an explanation for a change, but he was only human.

"Torchwood are alien hunters. And you, Doctor, in case you have forgotten, are an alien. We can't let them spirit you away under our noses, it would be bad for morale."

"He does have a point," Jo said gently. She smiled at him affectionately. "After all, you are our favourite alien and we have a responsibility to protect you."

The Doctor couldn't decide if he was touched by their fondness for him or peeved at being regarded as some kind of intelligent pet, but since these were his friends, he decided to give them the benefit of the doubt. When Jo hugged him, he leaned in to her embrace.

* * * * *

The farther Jack got from the UNIT base the more his resolve wavered, and the stronger the urge to turn the car around became. Even if that wasn't his Doctor, it was the Doctor, and the Doctor always managed to find a way, even when the situation seemed dire and the odds insurmountable.

He sighed. He wasn't looking forward to the bollocking that was in store for him. London's new director had been the one to come up with the scheme, and then pressured Cardiff's head to supply the technical expertise. Angry wasn't even close to describing how he would react if he learnt Jack had anything to do with rubbishing their plan. Best to come up with a plausible lie now rather than wait until he was called into the office to make his report.

That is if he decided to report at all...

He came to a crossroads and rolled to a stop. There were no other cars on the road, so he let the motor idle as his heart and his head waged war.

Turn around and chance a paradox.

Go forward and trust in the fullness of time.

There was a persistent blare of a horn from behind him. Jack was pulled abruptly out of his tumultuous thoughts. He sighed, took it as a sign, and put the car into gear, waving an apology to the lorry driver as he said, "Until next time, Doctor," and accelerated up the London road.



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