ext_4029 ([identity profile] wojelah.livejournal.com) wrote in [community profile] wintercompanion2013-04-08 12:20 pm

GIFT FOR GAIA_LULIA: Light As A Feather (Eleven/Jack (friendship)) [G]

Title: Light as a Feather
Author: [livejournal.com profile] magic_7_words
Recipient: [livejournal.com profile] gaia_lulia
Rating: G
Pairing(s): Eleven/Jack friendship
Spoilers/warnings: None.
Summary: The Doctor can appreciate Egyptian mythology as well as the next person, but right now he just wants his TARDIS back. Unfortunately, the Osirians have other ideas. And Jack wouldn't know cultural appreciation if it bit him on the nose.

**

"Jack!" Gwen shouted from the next room, "We've got a problem!"

"More than one, by the looks of things," Jack replied, rounding the corner. "I can't find that Silurian artifact we dug up last week, and I think it--whoa! Where did that come from?"

"Way to pinpoint the problem," Gwen grumbled. A luminescent white cube, like a glass lantern, hovered impossibly in the air a few inches above her desk. She stood three paces back with her gun trained on it.

"I gather you didn't pick that up at a flea market?"

"It appeared out of nowhere," said Gwen through gritted teeth. "I don't know how it got in, but I know it's not supposed to be here. It's alien."

"I'd say that's a safe bet." Jack picked up the cube, prompting a startled grunt from Gwen. "What? How dangerous can--"

Jack. They've got the TARDIS. Come if you can.

Jack froze. Gwen also froze, eyes wide. "Is that...?"

Jack tapped the side of the cube. The message repeated. Jack. They've got the TARDIS. Come if you can.

Jack shook his head, throwing off his astonishment, and raised his voice to the base at large. "All right, people, all hands on deck! We've got a time machine to track!"

***

The Doctor squinted at the wooden board before him, analyzing his possible moves. "You know," he remarked, "the first time I boxed you in like this, I thought you had rotten luck. Now I'm beginning to think you're rubbish at this game."

Across the table, his opponent kept up what had become an annoying habit of not saying a word.

Well, fine. The Doctor could talk enough for both of them. He lifted a black pawn, counted out three squares, and set the pawn down in its new location, neatly capturing an enemy piece. "Of course, it could be that I'm such a genius. Hard to tell, sometimes." He handed over the dice.

The Osirian opposite him scratched behind one pointed ear. The Doctor wondered if that was code for something. Maybe he was a mute, using some obscure form of Osirian sign language to say "Silence, puny mortal" or "How dare you question my skills?" Or maybe he had an itch. Or maybe he was stalling for time. Or maybe he'd just signaled a hidden ally to do something the Doctor wouldn't like. The Doctor rocked his chair back and scanned the frescoes on the walls around them, looking for an image of an Osirian scratching behind his or her ear. Wonderfully lifelike, these frescoes. Much more accurate than their ancient Egyptian replications, though of course the Egyptian versions had their own quaint charm--

The rattling of dice brought him back to the moment. The Osirian had cast a four. Only one white piece was free to move that far.

"That puts you in the House of Water. Blimey, I take it back, you do have rotten luck. Did you ever consider doing something that doesn't rely on the fickle winds of fortune? Reality game shows, maybe?"

A thin, bony hand moved the free pawn and offered the dice back to the Doctor. "Look," said the Doctor, determined not to let the silence unnerve him, "whatever you think you're up to, forget it. If you're the real Anubis, then I'm Queen Nefertiti. Which I'm not. Know that for a fact, because she tried to snog me. That would be--ugh." He made a face. "As I was saying, looking like an Egyptian death god and acting all silent and spooky might scare some people, but me? It bores me. And being kidnapped, that gets dangerously close to making me angry. Basically, I'm running out of patience, so what do you say we dispense with the role-playing and have a nice, candid discussion about where you and your masked friends have hidden my TARDIS?"

The Osirian lifted its upper lip, showing white canines in an unmistakable snarl. The Doctor sighed and took the dice. "Have it your way."

He won the game six moves later. Anubis, or whatever the Osirian called himself, offered no congratulations, not that the Doctor expected any. Perhaps he'd taken a vow of silence. Instead, he simply rose from his seat and pointed to the doorway behind him.

"Another door?" the Doctor asked wearily. "What'll it be this time, killer robot or board game? Won't lie, I preferred the game to the killer robots, though mummy-wrapping the robots was a nice touch, well done. But I'd rather skip to the part where I get my TARDIS back, if it's the same to you."

No response.

"How long is this trial thing, anyway?" he tried.

Anubis, in uncanny mimicry of the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come, only pointed menacingly.

"You're not bitter 'cause you lost and taking it out on me, are you? Because that's hardly sportsmanlike--"

Anubis growled.

"Right! Did I ask what's on the other side? I can't wait to see for myself!" Inwardly cursing his lack of options, the Doctor hurried through the doorway.

***

The door opened to a narrow corridor hewn through solid rock. Only a few steps in, the meager light from behind him faded into pitch blackness. Not the Doctor's idea of a holiday, to be sure, but he could think of a lot of things worse than a walk in the dark. The sonic screwdriver's echolocation setting kept him from walking into any walls, and at one point it saved him from stumbling down a long flight of stairs. (Nasty trick, putting a downward staircase in the pitch-dark. Had the architect been some kind of sadist?)

Unfortunately, the screwdriver didn't warn the Doctor about the standing water. He sloshed right into that, drenching his shoes and socks. Cold, slimy stuff. "Ugh!"

Deliberate exploration of the water's edge revealed that it extended in both directions, farther than the Doctor cared to go. Not just a puddle, then, but some kind of underground lake. What's more, something wooden floated nearby, tethered to a post. A boat. More of a canoe, really.

"This is ridiculous," the Doctor muttered, climbing into the boat and casting off. An oar had been helpfully provided, he found. "Exploring local cultures, fine. Osirian religious sects, fine. Replication of ritual journey through the underworld, very authentic, loving the attention to detail. Osirian religious zealots replicating the journey through the underworld and stranding me inside it? Underground, of all places? Thank you kindly, but no. You're supposed to tour the ancestral tombs and admire the pretty pictures, not waylay random travelers who were minding their own business and--" he stopped, frowning.

There it was again. A soft splash off to his left. The Doctor stood, balancing as well as he could, sonic at the ready in one hand and his oar raised in the other. His mind raced with images of what could be lurking in the water, but given his memory of Egyptian mythology, it was almost certainly--

Something surged under the boat, nearly capsizing it. The Doctor let out undignified yell and flailed with both the oar and sonic screwdriver. In the sonic's LED beam, he glimpsed the glistening coil of a serpent slide over the prow. He had barely enough time to reflect on what really, incredibly bad news that was, before the serpent's tail whipped around him from behind. He raised his arms in time to avoid having them pinned and laid about wildly with the oar. Several blows connected, and twice he heard the hiss and click of fangs barely missing their mark. Then he felt more so than saw the serpent rear back for a finishing strike. Desperately he struck first, aiming for the head. The serpent fell out of the boat with a splash.

That blow couldn't have seriously harmed it, not a monster that size. It would be back. The Doctor waited, nerves thrumming like a live wire. The sound of splashing continued, not directly next to the boat but near enough to cause definite concern, not to mention ripples. In fact, it seemed louder now. Too loud for a single creature. Either the serpent was of even more prodigious size than the Doctor had thought... or there was a whole flock of them out there. What did you call a flock of serpents? A herd? An army? An army of serpents, that sounded right. If that wasn't the proper term, it should be. And when had the splashing stopped?

The boat suddenly tipped, water slopping over one side. The Doctor gave another yell and swung the oar. It hit something hard with a solid thunk.

"Ow!" said the something, and the boat righted itself.

The Doctor hesitated. Little as he wanted to make noise and attract attention... had that been a human voice? "Who's there?" he called, as loudly as he dared.

"Owww," came the reply. "Is that any way to--" gurgle "--greet an old friend?" Gurgle, splash. "And you complain about how I say hello--"

Impossible. "Jack?"

"I never thought I'd say this, but please don't hit me again."

The boat tipped once more. This time, the Doctor found Jack by touch where he clung to the side. Yes, it was unquestionably Jack--the Doctor would know that fixed timeline anywhere. With much splashing and rocking and one near-capsize, he hauled his friend out of the lake. Jack was soaked, of course, and shivered as water streamed from his clothes.

The Doctor shrugged out of his coat and handed it to Jack. "Put this on," he ordered.

"Thanks. I had to leave mine on the bank. Figure we can go back for it once we've got the TARDIS."

"Sure, sure, can do. Jack, not to sound ungrateful, but what are you doing here?"

Jack leaned forward and squeezed his trouser cuffs, raining more water into the ankle-deep pool at the bottom of the boat. "You know, as communication methods go, telepathic floating cubes is one I haven't seen before," he said. "But I can't argue with its effectiveness."

"Cube! Of course, yes, very effective. It beats email, that's for sure." The Doctor had forgotten he'd sent that hypercube. With the TARDIS caught in a tractor beam, he'd noticed that they were towing him past a rift--not the Cardiff rift, but one that might connect to it--and done what seemed sensible at the time. That had been before he'd learned who and what he was dealing with.

"Then it took two weeks and three highly illegal time-jumps to locate you, so you're welcome. Then I had to deal with the masked animal-headed guys, and let me tell you, I don't trust those guys a bit. Not one of them cracked a smile."

"They let you into this place?" the Doctor asked, surprised.

"Huh! They stood around and gave philosophical speeches about justice and law and order and how going in was my own decision. Then I had to fight my way past a whole bunch of robot mummies while they watched from the sidelines, so no, I wouldn't say they let me in."

"Fighting is part of the ritual."

"Ritual, sure. If you say so. I had to play something called Senet. I've never even heard of Senet. What the hell's the point of it?"

The Doctor gaped, though of course Jack couldn't see his face. "What's the point of Senet? It's only one of the oldest board games in Earth's history! An ancient Egyptian game of strategy and chance, adopted from the Osirians of course, played ceremonially to symbolize--"

"Okay, I know I asked, but it was more of a rhetorical question."

"You picked up how to play it on the fly, though? Well done."

"Are you kidding? I threw the board at the dog-guy's head and ran past him. Fell right down the stairs, too, so that didn't work out as well as I'd hoped. Then I had to swim, because somebody took the only boat, and then I had to fight off the Loch Ness monster's little sister there--saving your life in the process, I might add--and then I got hit in the head with an oar, so any time you feel like thanking me--"

"Thank you," said the Doctor. "And I'm sorry about the oar."

"You're welcome." Jack sounded surprised.

For a minute or so, the only sounds were the creaking of the boat and lapping of water as the Doctor paddled. Then Jack said, "What is it with crazy aliens trying to steal your TARDIS, anyway?"

The Doctor shrugged, more for his own benefit than Jack's. Tried to sound nonchalant. "Oh, you know. Powerful energy source, unlimited access to all of space and time. It's a wonder more people don't try to get their hands on it."

"Huh," said Jack. "Funny, that's what I assumed at first. But the guy with the bird mask back there kept going on about a quote-unquote 'trial of justification.'"

The Doctor's heart sank.

"I thought you might know something about that," Jack went on, "seeing as you're the one on trial."

He could lie. But Jack had been told everything, like as not, and getting caught in a lie wasn't exactly the face-saving maneuver he wanted. Jack's voice held a trace of sarcasm, a hint of challenge, but not outright hostility. Better to come clean, much as the words stuck in his throat.

"We're dealing with a small group of Osirians. Their culture resembles that of ancient Egypt on Earth; in fact, it inspired it. These particular Osirians are a religious sect committed to maintaining order in the universe. I stand accused of disrupting the cosmic order."

Jack snorted.

"I know! Apparently some people frown on hacking into ATMs for unlimited credit."

Jack hesitated. "Okay, when you put it that way. But they've got to realize that in some circumstances, breaking the rules is necessary."

"Hence the Trial of Justification. It's what they call this gauntlet we're running. They say the TARDIS is waiting on the other side, and if I can get there alive, I'm free to go. One good thing: their own precepts forbid lying, so they can be trusted to keep their promises."

"A test." Jack fell silent. The boat slid to a gentle stop; they'd reached the far side of the lake. The darkness had lifted incrementally; the Doctor could see Jack's outline, though not his features. Rather than moving, Jack asked, "Did they say you had to do it alone?"

The Doctor almost smiled, feeling a warm spark for the first time since the ordeal had begun. "Wouldn't you know, that question did come up. They said I was allowed one guide to help me through the trial, and did I have anyone I wanted to designate as such, and I definitely shouldn't have mentioned that," he finished, because Jack had gone very still. Oops. "Why should I not have mentioned that?"

"Because you told them no, didn't you?" Now Jack did sound accusing. "Even though you'd already called me, you decided not to wait. Said you could do it alone."

"Well, how was I to know if you'd gotten my--"

"Forget it. It's water under the bridge now. Or under the boat, as the case may be." Jack knocked on the side of the boat. "We've run aground. You'd better go on; I can turn around and take the boat back. Pick up my coat. Maybe stop for a chat with Mister Toothy No-Smile-Face back there. He's not really my type, but I bet I could charm him into teaching me how to play Senet. I've got nothing better to do, clearly."

"Oh, don't be like that! How could you be my guide? You know less about this place than I do!"

Jack made a huffing noise. "Should have figured. Sure, I got here faster than you did, but hey, what does that matter, you're happier alone. In fact, here." He pulled off the Doctor's coat and handed it over. "Sorry I got it wet."

"Jack--"

"Go on, get out of this boat. I'm taking it back with me."

Damn him, making it personal, when the Doctor was only trying not to be a bother. He'd caused more than his share of trouble for Jack already. And while he appreciated the trouble Jack had gone through to get here, not to mention killing or at least driving off the serpent (really appreciated the serpent thing, come to think of it), that was no reason to keep imposing, was it? Except that Jack, for some reason, didn't see things that way.

"Well then, Captain, how would you like to be my guide?"

"Out of the boat," Jack said tersely.

Fine, then. The Doctor stood, less carefully than he might have. The boat reeled drunkenly. The Doctor jumped out and into shin-deep water before he could lose his balance, which of course set the boat to rocking even more.

"Whoa," said Jack, and jumped out himself.

Mission get-Jack-out-of-the-boat-with-him: accomplished. The Doctor set a foot against the prow and pushed off. "Oh, look at that. You can't take the boat back, after all. Might as well stay with me."

Jack stood for a few heartbeats, head tilted in the Doctor's direction. Then he shook his head and waded for the shore, clapping the Doctor on the shoulder as he passed. The Doctor fell into step behind him.

***

The tunnel continued underground, but a soft light grew as they progressed, emanating from nowhere in particular. Suddenly, the space ahead opened up into an enormous, well-lit cavern with rocky walls. Dead ahead, a narrow wooden bridge spanned a wide chasm. On the far side of the chasm stood the TARDIS.

Jack shot a grin over his shoulder and trotted up to the chasm's edge. The bridge ran straight as an arrow, a single wooden beam with no hand-rails, supported only by a conical pillar at its center. It stretched between two wooden platforms built into the rock. Oddly, a slight gap separated the platform from the bridge itself. At the other end, just short of the far platform, stood a narrow pedestal that glinted like gold. They would have to edge their way around it. Something tall and plumed stood perched atop the pedestal, and the Doctor squinted to make it out.

"Funny design, but it looks sturdy enough," said Jack. He took a step forward.

The Doctor, details clicking into place as he surveyed the scene, caught Jack's arm and pulled him back before he could put any weight on the bridge. "You don't want to do that."

"You think it'll collapse?"

"I think caution--" He stopped cold, because the part of his brain he'd set to scanning ancient Egyptian beliefs had come up with a match for his observations. The bridge was separate from the platforms because it had been built to pivot. The triangular support was the pivot-point, the fulcrum. The shimmering pedestal had to be a telepathic generator of some sort, and the object on the pedestal: a single ostrich feather.

They weren't going to make it.

"Doctor?" Jack touched his shoulder, sounding concerned. "What's wrong?"

"What's at the bottom of this chasm?"

Jack peered over the edge. "Water. It's like a moat. Not too far down; we could probably jump safely. But there's something else--" He gave a low whistle. "It's a moat, all right. Complete with one large, hungry-looking crocodile. Looks like swimming is strictly prohibited, unless you want me to fight the croc for you. I'd shoot it, but my gun's waterlogged."

"That's no crocodile, and you don't want to fight it. Not even you. It's a creature known as the Devourer, and it feeds on the immortal souls of those who fail the final test. And you think you can just shoot it, really?"

"You'd be surprised how many things I can just shoot. What's the final test?"

The Doctor paced along the edge of the ravine, explaining and running his sonic screwdriver over the works at the same time. Wood, the whole blasted thing. "The Egyptians--and Osirians as well, it appears--believed that the heart of an innocent man would be as light as a feather. No guilt weighing him down. So they devised a test, which was supposedly performed by the gods on every soul journeying through the underworld. A scale with the dead person's heart on one side, an ostrich feather on the other. If the scale balanced, the soul could proceed to the afterlife. If the heart was heavy with sins committed in life, the soul would be fed to the Devourer. Not a pleasant eternal fate."

Jack studied the bridge, and the Doctor could see him piecing it all together, just as the Doctor had moments earlier.

"That thing on the other end reads our minds. If we step on this end and aren't innocent enough, the feather goes up, we go down. Into the moat."

"That's the long and short of it."

"Rules me right out," Jack muttered, sounding a little bitter.

The Doctor rather thought it ruled them both right out, him more so than Jack, but he didn't want to... wait, why not? Who was he kidding? Jack couldn't think of him as innocent, could he?

Jack's gaze, fixed on the Doctor as if already weighing him mentally, indicated that the notion wasn't as far-fetched as the Doctor might have assumed.

"What d'you think they meant by 'innocent?'"

"Free of sin. Never killed, told a lie, stolen a penny--"

"But that's not possible."

"Precisely. The things I've done..."

"No, I mean it's impossible for anyone. How many people live their whole lives without ever telling a single lie?"

The Doctor opened his mouth, then frowned and rethought his answer. Jack might have a point, shockingly enough. The test couldn't possibly be as strict as legend made it out to be. Of course, that hardly helped the Doctor, unless not as strict meant no standards whatsoever.

"I think," said Jack slowly, as if still thinking, "that you can do it, if anyone can."

It shouldn't have gotten under his skin, this hero-worship case of Jack's. Unrealistic expectations were Jack's problem, not his. He certainly shouldn't have felt pressured to maintain an image that he knew full well was not only false, but unsustainable. Jack would learn sooner or later. Sooner rather than later, if they didn't find some other way of reaching the TARDIS.

And yet, a part of him whispered, hoped--no, a part of him was so far in denial (and no, he would not make a Nile/denial joke, now was not the time) that it actually hoped Jack might be right. That the things he'd done--or at least the things Jack knew about, like failing Rose and Martha and the Master (twice) and God, Jack himself--might be, in the Osirians' own words… justified.

Only one way to find out.

"Right," said the Doctor, rubbing his hands. "Believe in yourself, isn't that what all the books say? Here goes nothing." He stepped onto the bridge.

The beam gave way with a sickening lurch and a surge of vertigo, made worse still by the sight of the feather and pedestal swinging upward at double-speed. Jack saved him, hooking both arms beneath his shoulders and hauling him back onto the platform.

"Okay." Jack's voice shook. "I was wrong. Not the first time."

Shakiness aside, he sounded shockingly cavalier for a man who'd just had a lifelong faith shattered. Throat tight with trepidation--and disappointment--the Doctor picked himself up and chanced a glance. Jack had stepped to the edge of the precipice and stood with his arms crossed, scowling, his eyes darting from one end to the other, to the TARDIS, to the pivot-point, to the water below. He rubbed his chin absently.

The Doctor could have kissed him, or slapped him upside the head, or preferably both. Because Jack was still working on a solution. Jack didn't care that the Doctor had just failed the test. Barely even noticed, as if it made not one whit of difference to him. Jack doubted his own assessment of the test's nature; his faith in the Doctor remained unshaken. Jack could be a world-class idiot sometimes.

"If you swam it," Jack ventured, "could you climb the rocks on the other side? Quickly?"

The Doctor studied the far side of the ravine. "Yeah," he answered, "easy-peasy. But I don't fancy swimming past anything with 'Devourer' in its name. 'Devourer' and nothing else. Tough to miss the 'devouring' bit. And did I mention our immortal souls?"

"Don't waste any time, then," said Jack cryptically. Then he ran out onto the bridge.

The Doctor cried out, brought both hands to his face--and froze, peering through his fingers in wonder. The balance didn't tip. Jack might have weighed nothing as he sprinted along the near half of the beam, over the fulcrum, and down to the far end, where the feather sat suspended over its shining pedestal. The end with the feather gave a slight dip as Jack passed it, but from there he leapt easily onto the solid platform on the far side of the chasm. He turned, wide-eyed and slack-jawed with astonishment.

The Doctor felt much the same. "Jack, how--"

"Wait!" Jack called. "Not yet." He knelt at the edge of the platform and pressed down on the edge of the beam. The bridge wobbled. With a satisfied nod, he flattened both palms against the wooden surface, stabilizing it again. "Okay, now try. Slowly."

Cautiously, the Doctor set one foot on the beam. Jack shifted his weight forward, providing a counterbalance. "Like a seesaw," the Doctor muttered, wishing for one of those little handles that came on seesaws. Any sort of hand-hold at all, really. Shuffle forward, wobble, wait for Jack to compensate. Shuffle again. Other foot. Wait. Repeat. Shuffle a bit more. Then Jack was leaning back on his heels again, taking the weight off his end, until the Doctor stood at the fulcrum. To go any farther would require stepping onto Jack's side of the bridge, meaning their weights would combine rather than cancel out.

"This'll be the hard part," said Jack.

"There's rope in the TARDIS," the Doctor suggested.

Jack's face twisted sheepishly. "Lost my key when I--never mind. Hang on, let me try something." He dropped to his belly on the platform, head and shoulders out over the beam, feet toward the TARDIS. Then he wrapped both arms around the beam. "I think I can hold this up from here. Go slow, but be ready to make a break for it if I tell you to."

"Jack," said the Doctor, "How did you do it?"

Jack gave a rueful smile. "Honestly? I didn't even think about it. Figured if I fell, that crocodile thing would go straight for me, and you could swim across safely."

"But that's..." Ridiculous? Foolhardy? Suicidal? Brilliant? More than the Doctor deserved?

"Come on, I can't hold this thing forever."

The Doctor stepped off the fulcrum, onto the second half of the bridge. Jack's arms and shoulders tensed, but he held the beam steady. "Keep going."

How had Jack done it? Some kind of telepathic trick he didn't know he knew? Not thinking about it? Well, the Doctor could not-think all day long, watch him. Not thinking about why Jack would do this for him, why Jack was still here at all and didn't just dump him in the moat and be done with it, not thinking about River's harsh words to him on Demons Run (you make them so afraid), or Gallifrey--no, that wasn't how not-thinking worked. Think about pink elephants instead. Why were they pink? A planet with pink grass might have pink elephants for camouflage, mightn't it? He'd covered half the distance from the fulcrum to Jack. A colorful camouflage safari planet, he'd find one of those to visit next. Bring Jack along; why not? Pink elephants in the grass, blue crocodiles in the water--

"Whoa!"

Hard to say what reached him first--Jack's yell, or the sudden pitch in his footing. The end of the beam dropped. Jack, in an instinctive grab to reclaim it, threw himself forward, overbalancing--

The Doctor lunged, catching Jack by the wrist, his other arm flailing fruitlessly for purchase. He had time to think Not fair, it wasn't Jack's test, it was mine before the bridge beam nearly smacked him in the face as it rose to meet him. That seemed vaguely unexpected, but there was no time to consider it--Jack dangled by one arm with the Devourer below and the safety of the other side so close they could almost touch it and the Doctor wouldn't lose him, not this way. Not now. Bloody laws of physics would just have to wait.

"Gotcha."

"Yeah." Jack exhaled slowly. "You got me. Now hold still."

The Doctor lay flat against the still-horizontal bridge beam as Jack clawed and scrabbled up his arm. Jack, for some reason, avoided touching the beam itself, instead reaching directly for the edge of the cliff. Once he'd gained the safety of the platform, the Doctor crawled after him. They both flopped onto the solid foundation and lay there, in the shadow of the TARDIS, sparing a moment for exhausted relief.

The Doctor recovered first, his leftover panic finding an outlet in rage "You didn't think?" he snarled. "What sort of idiot saunters into an obvious death-by-crocodile trap and doesn't think about his own imminent death by crocodile? I don't care how light it makes your heart; it's stupid. They went and made a test only stupid people could pass!"

Jack ignored him but for a soft chuckle that was, in the Doctor's opinion, utterly uncalled-for.

"Death by crocodile!" the Doctor repeated, wondering how thick Jack could possibly be. "What's funny about death by crocodile?"

Jack jerked his chin to indicate the bridge, which lay flat and sturdy behind them as if it had never moved at all. "When I was hanging off that thing," he murmured, "you were holding me up, not the other way around. So what was holding you up?"

"What was--well, it's perfectly simple, a perfectly logical explanation…" The Doctor frowned. It had happened so quickly. He'd been trying to focus on pink elephants, which hadn't helped in the slightest, and then Jack had slipped…

A warm smile suffused Jack's features. "Looks like you weren't thinking about yourself, either."

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