A/N: I think this is the last installment.Major fannish warm fuzzies warning. Hopefully it leaves folks with a smile. :)
'God damn cold,' thought Jack Harkness, formerly Captain Jack Harkness, now just Jack-stranded-in-the-year-200100-Harkness. He was quite certain that by this point in Earth's technological evolution, they had come up with better methods of environmental control than circulated air heaters, but what with the major superpowers of the planet having gone a bit pear-shaped a month back – both in the local vernacular, and in some cases, quite literally – it seemed that a lot of the grand technology of the fourth great and bountiful human empire had gone on the blink.
He stamped his feet and tugged his muffler a bit higher around his ears. Of course, he could have been ensconced comfortably inside his nice heated apartment right now, but ever since he'd spirited that bomb away from 1941 London ('Just beyond those buildings there,' he thought absently), he'd been plagued by this irritating sense of responsibility.
"You're an idiot, Jack," he muttered, watching his breath condense. He didn't have to stand out here in the cold with such a crap self-imposed duty, but he'd felt obligated to, somehow. Helping the newly-arrived refugees – and they were still trickling in, from all over – get themselves sorted out and placed with roofs over their heads and food in their bellies… in a way it helped alleviate the guilty feeling that he shouldn't have survived in the first place.
And it helped him forget the bitter taste in his mouth whenever he thought of his last sight of salvation, fading away before his eyes into the eddies of Time.
Not that he planned to be stuck here forever. He wasn't just an ex-Time Agent; he was Jack Harkness, con man extraordinaire and one resourceful son of a bitch. But with the planet reeling from the aftereffects of a full-scale Dalek attack, it'd take a while for things to get back to normal. Or at least normal enough that he could entertain stealing the parts to make a rudimentary time shunt.
At least he got to meet people this way. Take that fellow over there, now, shuffling out of the train station with a rather lost look about him… Jack lifted his chin up out of the muffler, tilting his head for a better view, and felt his face crease in a rakish grin. Tall, not exactly dark, but well, two out of three wasn't bad. Jack rubbed his gloved hands together and set off to greet another refugee.
"Hi there," he greeted boisterously, extending one hand as he came within range. The newcomer jerked around startledly, having been peering off down the street; blinked at the proffered hand a couple of times, and then shook it.
Young fellow, Jack observed approvingly, bit of an Elvis thing going on with the feathered hair and sideburns. Wasn't particularly well-dressed for the weather: a knee-length coat of a sort of dark blue suede – 'Definitely Elvis,' thought Jack – with a red scarf draped around his neck; but none of the buttons were fastened, and he was wearing nothing underneath but a slightly ruffled white shirt and jeans.
"Jack Harkness," he introduced himself, when the refugee made no opening statement himself. "Official Welcoming Committee," he grinned, still shaking the guy's hand. "Where you in from?"
"Oh, all over, really," said the young man, peering very hard at him. Gorgeous brown eyes; Jack began to think that this might turn out to be a good day after all.
"All over?" he quipped. "Sounds like up north, to me. That's okay, I'm not from around here either."
The refugee looked mildly puzzled for a moment, then seemed to recognize he was referring to his accent, and shrugged it off with an absent, "Yes, I suppose so. You said your name was Jack?"
Jack wasn't sure whether to feel elated, or start feeling mildly creeped-out by the way the guy was staring at him. "That's me," he erred on the side of brightness for now.
"Brigadier – no, Captain – Jack?"
The other man had let go his hand now; an almost fiendish light burning in his eyes. Jack swallowed hard. For both reasons. "Used to be," he nodded, as his smile slowly faded. "Do I… know you from somewhere?" Two years of his life missing; just his luck that some Time Agent he couldn't remember would track him down here.
However no revelation of the sort was forthcoming. A delighted smile split the stranger's face from ear to ear, and he jabbed a finger at him triumphantly. "Yes! I do remember you! Jack! Hahaa!" And then abruptly Jack found himself engulfed in an impossibly powerful bear hug, spun around once and set down back on his feet with a snowy crunch.
"What…?" was all he could manage.
The odd young man was practically dancing circles around him, scuffing up snow and slush and throwing a defiant roar of laughter into the overcast sky. He flung his arms wide as if he wanted to hug the whole of creation; and then paused abruptly with his hands still in the air, grinning at him with an air of manic expectance. Jack stared.
"Oh come on now, Jackie-boy, you didn't think we'd leave you, did you?" He dropped one arm and dug in his coat pocket for a small transmitter device, which he activated smartly. "And flirting with me, of course," he addressed no one in particular, shaking his head. "She should have mentioned the flirting; I'm sure that would've jogged a memory or two." One arm was still thrust into the air, but he didn't seem to notice.
At this bizarre display, Jack began, cautiously, to back away. "Look, if this is a Time Agency thing, I had nothing to do with this. I was trying to help!"
His newfound friend stared at him in what seemed to be utter bafflement. "Time Agency?" he spat finally. "Why on Earth – or any other planet – would it have anything to do with that?" He made a grab for Jack's wrist. "Come on then, she'll want to see you. I've already sent the signal; we'll be late!"
"Late for what?" Jack asked, bemused, allowing himself to be caught and dragged along at a jog. Worse things could happen than being kidnapped by an admittedly odd but good-looking wacko. "Where're we going?"
"To the TARDIS, of course," replied the man as if that should have been obvious.
Jack tried to plant his feet; but his escort was stronger than he looked and tugged him along insistently. "How did you know about that?" he demanded.
At this, the young man stopped and turned to stare at him. "Why wouldn't I know about it?"
Something was tickling at the back of his brain; something he'd read a very long time ago back when Time Lords and Daleks hadn't been dismissed as mere mythology. Something about Gallifreyans and… rejuvenation? Regeneration. Suddenly he forgot to breathe; and was therefore surprised when his next question came out in a rather choked squeak.
"Well who else did you think I could be?" came the testy reply.
Jack remembered to breathe then, and let out a joyous war-whoop as he bounced forward to throw his arms around him; but he arrested the movement in mid-stride and simply clapped his hands over the Time Lord's upper arms instead, staring with amazement into his face. "Is it really you?"
"Well if I'm not, I've got some explaining to do, haven't I—what are you doing?" the dry rejoinder turned to a sharply startled query as Jack tugged his gloves off with his teeth and thrust both hands under the lapels of the blue suede coat. "Honestly, do you do this on all of your first dates? Wait – don't answer that…"
"Shhh," Jack hissed insistently, waiting tensely until his cold hands relayed to his brain the distinct thudding of a double heartbeat. "It is you!"
"Yes, and I'll thank you to stop pawing me, please," the Doctor swatted his hands away and tugged his coat closed with one hand and a disgruntled 'hrmph'.
"Same old Doctor," Jack laughed, punching him in the shoulder. "Or young Doctor, as the case may be? Though I have to say: love what you've done with your hair."
"Can we discuss this later? Rose'll be waiting."
"She's here too?" Jack burst, his head shooting up of its own accord to peer over the Doctor's shoulder as if she should be right there.
"Well, if you'd just let me take you to the TARDIS—"
And then she was there, slipping around a corner of the slushy street, catching herself with a wild flailing of one arm, and throwing herself breathlessly into both of them with an incoherent shout that might have been his name, might have been just plain joy; at the moment he didn't really care which, because then her lips were smashed against his in a fierce, desperate kiss and he didn't really want to think about anything else.
An eternity later, the necessity for oxygen finally forced them apart, and she beamed up at him cheekily. "Think you found the right one," she observed approvingly to the nine-hundred-year-old alien standing off to the side watching them with a smug grin.
"He's awfully quiet," Jack muttered impishly, his eyes still locked with hers. "Maybe he wants a kiss too?"
"I'll pass, thanks," came the dry response; but he did deign to step up and toss his arms around both of them. "Now that we've rounded up all the lost sheep, though, how about we head somewhere a bit warmer?"
"Barcelona?" Rose suggested brightly.
Jack enthused, "I've heard of that place! Did you know they've got dogs with—"
"I've heard," Rose interrupted, laughing. "Well Doctor, I'd say it's high time we got back to gallivanting through space and time, wouldn't you? Got to build you some new memories after all."
He grinned at them both. "Fantastic."