Author: Gillian Taylor
Characters: Ten, Rose, Jack
Summary: Home. It can be many different things, but Jack Harkness is about to learn what it truly means. A sequel to Brave New World and Duty Calls.
Disclaimer: Not mine. I just like to play with them...a lot.
Archive: Sure, go for it. Just let me know.
Author's Notes: Thanks, as always, to my lovely BRs nnwest and wendymr. A Brave New World and Duty Calls do not have to be read prior to reading this story, however.
by Gillian Taylor
He wasn't sure what he had expected to feel when he stepped through the TARDIS doors for the first time in two years. Relief? Happiness? Homecoming? Perhaps, but none of those emotions were at the forefront of his mind. Instead, he remembered Satellite Five. He remembered knowing, with the certainty of a martyr, that the end was nigh.
So ends Jack Harkness, killed by a creature that had been as much of a myth as the Doctor. He remembered dying - the instant of extreme pain before the sudden knowing that there was something more. He then remembered pulling in his first breath, the sensation of slamming back into his body and knowing that the universe was not quite done with him yet. He remembered hearing the unmistakable sound of the TARDIS' dematerialisation, and watching as his home disappeared before his eyes. He remembered the pain of loss, and how he had waited for two days before he realised that they were not coming back. He had been left behind, discarded like so much trash.
And now, his eyes traced the familiar lines of the console room, and he sighed.
What did he feel?
He felt every emotion, every thought, every fear and worry that had plagued him over the past two years. He felt all that and more, but he swore to himself that he would not show them the truth. He could not burden them, not after he knew that they still cared.
Rose. He closed his eyes for a moment before he turned toward her, forcing a brilliant grin onto his face. "Yeah?"
"Is there..." She seemed to reconsider her words before continuing. "D'you want to talk about it?" Her eyes brimmed with compassion, and he forced himself not to react.
"Nah, I'm good. So, how long's it been for you? Since you last saw me, that is?" He had to turn her attention elsewhere, away from him, away from what he had done in the past two years.
Rose looked thoughtful before she replied. "'Bout a month, I think."
A month. He had spent two years thinking that he had been abandoned, and they had only spent thirty-odd days without him. "Barely enough time to miss me then."
"More than enough time," the Doctor corrected, patting his shoulder as he moved past.
The tiny cynical part of him doubted it, even though he could see the truth shining out of Rose's eyes. The Time Lord was harder to read, especially this newer, more jovial version. However, the Doctor that he knew had never lied to him. Dealt out some facts on a need-to-know basis, certainly. But never lied. He could only assume that that was still true.
This wasn't like him. At least, not like the Jack of two years ago. That Jack had had nothing but a smile and a flirtatious comment to share. That Jack had not felt abandoned. That Jack had not found himself struggling from day to day in an era that should have been the last place he would have desired to go. However, he had wanted some feeling of connection to the two that had left him behind, even if it was only that he lived in the same time as one Rose Tyler. That Jack would never have haunted the Powell Estates, straining for a glimpse of the blonde-haired girl that had stolen his heart before she had ever met the Doctor. That Jack had been cocky in his conviction that he was loved and had found a home. That Jack, he thought, was stronger than he was now.
The slender arms that wrapped around him in a hug shocked him out of his reverie. He had not heard her move and he stared at her tousled blonde hair with an expression akin to amazement. "Rose?"
"'S good to have you home, Jack. 'S not been the same without you." Her voice caught upon a muffled sob.
He enfolded her in his arms, burying his face in her hair with a deep sigh. He realised that it did not truly matter how much time had passed; Rose still cared. The Doctor still cared. He still cared. "I'm here now, Rose. It'll be okay." Maybe he was lying. But, if he was, it was only to himself.
The soft scrape of a shoe against the metal grating of the console room floor caused him to lift his head. The compassionate brown eyes of the Doctor stared into his own and, not for the first time, he felt as if his soul were under deep examination. There was only one man in the universe who could make him want to be a better person. There was only one woman who could make him feel the same. To have them both in the same room was a blessing and a curse. Two years had passed and he had done plenty that he was not proud of. However, the sudden brilliant grin on the Doctor's face caused his trepidation to fade.
He had been tried and he had passed with flying colours. Jack smiled faintly in response before becoming aware once more of the young woman within his arms. Guilt twinged at the edge of his consciousness at holding her while the Doctor looked on. He began to gently disengage himself but the barely noticeable shake of the Time Lord's head caused him to pause.
At the silent question in his eyes, the Doctor shrugged. He seemed to want to say more, his brow furrowing as he considered some deep thought. Finally, with a murmured, 'Bollocks,' he stepped forward and enfolded both Jack and Rose within his arms. "Welcome home, Jack."
It was then, held within the arms of the two people he loved most in the universe, that Jack realised the truth. He was right where he belonged.
They remained in the embrace for some time, giving and taking comfort from each other as the soft sounds of the TARDIS filled the room. The Doctor moved first, gently disentangling himself from them both.
"Right then, so where to next? The three of us, back together again. Just imagine what we could do! After all, things're different now. New me. New him. Who knows what sort of trio we'll be? Endearing? Dangerous? Funny? Cheeky? Mouthy? Vain? Heroic? Victorious? Fabulous? Perfect? Sexy?" The last word was accompanied by a rather suggestive wink.
Jack looked at Rose, his brow furrowing in confusion at the list, while she laughed. "Don't mind 'im. He gets like that. You should've 'eard his speech 'bout what sort of man he was."
The Doctor's expression fell, though his eyes still danced with mirth. "I was still learning who I was, Rose."
"Right, an' now what're you doing?"
"Trying to find out what we're gonna be."
"We already know that," Rose replied. "We're gonna be fantastic."
He felt a faint pang at the word, surprised that Rose could use it with such a jovial expression. Yet, as the Doctor's eyes met his own, he knew the truth. The Doctor he knew was still there. Still here. And that, as Rose said, was fantastic.
"I've got just the place in mind!" Without bothering to fill them in, the Time Lord practically bounced to the controls. And with a grinding wheeze, the TARDIS took to flight.
Jack grinned at the sight. That was one thing that he did not regret. Though he might have lost two years, two years which might have been spent with this particular pair, it was worth it to see that. The Doctor was happy, truly happy, and not ashamed to show it. Much as he loved the previous version, it was a relief to see that the cloak of pain and guilt was all but gone. He could catch a sight of it, in the tilt of the other man's head, the way he moved his body, but it was far more muted than before.
"Where are we going?" he asked.
"Ah, ah, ah!" the Doctor tisked. "Wouldn't want to ruin the surprise!" A few moments later, the time rotor ceased its frantic movements. "There we are!"
Rose's lips barely formed the word 'where,' when the Doctor began to usher them toward the doors. "Don't ask! Look! Honestly, how're you gonna learn anything if you don't see it for yourselves?"
She smacked a trenchcoat-covered arm with a grin. "You still think you're so impressive."
"That's just 'cause I am."
Jack just shook his head as he pulled open the door, and stopped, dumbfounded. He knew exactly where they were. The vibrant cerulean-hued sky was unmistakable.
Telurais. Lots of sand, sun, multi-coloured beaches stretching from horizon to horizon, and best of all - no chance of trouble. For their first trip, reunited in one sense of the word, he wanted it to be calm. Admittedly, with as jeopardy-friendly a companion as Rose Tyler at hand - let alone himself - there was little chance of it being uneventful. However, one could hope. The Doctor's grin faded, however, when he noticed that Jack had yet to leave the TARDIS. "Jack?"
When the other man turned to look at him, his hearts clenched from the expression on his face. He could read the pain in his eyes easily, and he silently cursed himself. This was supposed to be a fun trip, not something that would hurt Jack. "What is it?"
"Telurais. You brought us to Telurais." The words were an accusation that he could not deny.
Before the Doctor could complete his sentence, Jack continued. "You brought me home. And you didn't even know, did you?"
Home. He knew that Jack was from one of the human colonies. It was just his luck that he had chosen Jack's colony as a perfect place to visit. His previous incarnation's favourite phrase echoed in his mind: 'Fantastic.' Sometimes, truth was better than omission. That was one fact about himself that he had decided upon. He told the truth. Always. "No, I didn't."
Jack ran his hand through his hair and sighed. When the words came, they were soft - more as if he were speaking to himself than to the Doctor or Rose. "Face your past and all that, right? Learn from it? Grow from it? Hell, I've spent most of my life running from this place. Guess it's about time that I came back. Just never figured it'd be with the two of you. Well, more like never figured that I'd come back at all."
Rose put her hand onto Jack's shoulder, giving it a comforting squeeze.
His hearts went out to the man. "We don't have to stay, Jack. We can go somewhere else. The universe is ours to explore. You don't have to do anything that you don't want to."
Jack seemed to steel himself as he shook his head. "Can't run forever."
The Doctor smiled grimly as an echo of pain shot through his soul. Can't run forever? Perhaps. But he, the Doctor, had for most of his lives. No, he firmly told himself. He was not the sort of man to wallow in depression. Especially not when someone he cared about was hurting. "No," he agreed quietly, "you can't."
"Besides." Jack brightened visibly, though he could tell that it was forced. "There's this great cove, just about two hundred metres from here that you'd love, Rose. The surface is a nature preserve, so nothing's been touched by humanoid - or otherwise - hands. They used to let us come up here on holidays. Catch some sun, play in the surf, and just have fun before we got bundled back to the colony. Those days, it was easier to forget..." A shadow passed over the former Time Agent's face, but he shook his head. "So, what do ya say, Rose? Wanna go swimming?"
Rose opened her mouth - to object, he thought - before closing it again. Giving herself a little shake, she smiled. "Sure, if you want to."
"Any excuse to see you in a swimsuit." Jack grinned, though even the flirtation was feigned to his observant eyes.
"You needed an excuse?" Rose asked with mock-astonishment. Ignoring Jack's open-mouthed response, she continued. "Lemme go get my swimsuit. Be right back." Giving Jack's shoulder another squeeze, she headed deeper into the TARDIS.
Jack turned toward him, still slightly slack-jawed from Rose's comment. "Aren't you going to get your swim trunks?"
"Nope! Already wearing them." The Doctor grinned at the other man's astonishment. "Didn't Rose tell you what sort of man I was? I'm always prepared."
"No, you're slightly crazy."
He could agree with that. "That too. How 'bout you?"
Jack put his hands into his pockets and shook his head. "Not gonna swim."
Before the Doctor could ask him any further questions, Rose returned. She grabbed his hand, and tugged him toward Jack. "Ready?"
"Let's go." Jack nodded and the three left the TARDIS.
He leaned back against the rock and watched Rose and the Doctor cavort in the waves. It felt rather strange to be back here. Home. It wasn't the apartment that he and his mother had shared, but it was the planet. Home. At least he still had a home to return to. His eyes rested upon the Doctor's lanky form and sighed. Home. The Doctor did not even have that anymore. Melancholy, he suddenly decided, did not suit him.
Jack closed his eyes and let the sound of the surf lull him into a state of semi-consciousness. It was in that state that a very important question came to mind. His eyes opened wide as he sat up. "Doctor! What year is it?"
The Doctor stopped splashing Rose as he caught the question. "5048!"
5048? Oh, hell. "Doctor! Rose! We've got to get out of here!" Please let them not find them. Please let the sensor net have failed. Please, please, please... The audible click of a safety being flipped directed his attention toward the trees. Four men wearing colonial armed forces uniforms had him firmly in their sights.
"Get out of the water!" a particularly dour-looking man instructed, gesturing with his weapon for Rose and the Doctor to get onto the shore.
One of the other men seemed to be intently studying him and a flicker of sudden recognition darted across his face. While Jack did not recognise him, it was obvious that he was known. Not surprising, given his mother's penchant for remarking about her handsome son as often as possible. It wasn't until he had committed what was, to her, a felony that she stopped. 5048. The year his mother transcended from administrator to dictator.
The man who had seemed to recognise him began to speak by rote. "You're under arrest for trespassing on the Teluraisian Nature Preserve without signed approval from the Administrator. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You will be taken to the Colony for a trial by your peers..."
"Hold on! Who says we don't have approval?" the Doctor asked, edging toward his coat. The dour man's finger tightened on the trigger, and the Time Lord lifted his hands in surrender. "I was just getting the approval. It's in my coat pocket."
Without bothering to notice if the gunman was still trigger-happy, the Doctor reached into his pocket to pull out his psychic paper. Holding it out for the other man's inspection, the Doctor grinned. "See? There we are. Approval. All nice and official."
"That's psychic paper," the gunman replied with a roll of his eyes. "It'll show me whatever you want me to see. That's not going to work."
"Oh, well, worth a try, though, wasn't it?" The Doctor looked downtrodden, before brightening again. "Mind if I get dressed?"
There was really only one choice. If he left it up to the Doctor, they'd be arrested, thrown into his mother's prison, and rot for the rest of their lives. He couldn't do that to them. He wouldn't do that to them. Drawing himself to his full height, Jack looked at the arresting officer with the haughtiest expression he could muster. "We have approval. Don't mind my friend, he tends to get a little carried away with himself. My name's Harkness. Jack Harkness."
Definite recognition. Even, he was surprised to note, fear. Three of the men drew back a few steps, but not the arresting officer. "So the prodigal son returns. She'll be pleased."
"I bet," he said grimly.
"You lot are coming with us. Rodger, search them." The dour faced man, newly identified as Rodger, grinned as he stepped toward Rose. There was a look in the man's eye that neither Jack nor the Doctor cared for.
He had to do something. "No." Jack shook his head. "This is what's going to happen. First, you're going to let my friends go. They have no part in this. Then, you're going to take me to see my mother. It's about time we had a chat about the way things are going around here." He was not, however, going to admit that a small part of him was terrified of seeing her again. Even after all this time, a part of him would forever be an intimidated child.
"You seem to have forgotten something, Mister Harkness." The arresting officer's lips twisted into a cruel grin. "I'm the one holding the weapon here. You are all coming to see the Administrator. Rodger!"
Rodger lifted his hands to start frisking Rose, but suddenly found that a new body had interposed itself between Rose and his questing fingers. "Leave her alone." The Doctor's voice dropped to a growl.
"Doesn't matter to me if you're first or she is." Rodger shrugged. "But I have my orders."
"'Salright, Doctor," Rose said from behind the Time Lord, her slender hand resting upon his shoulder.
"No," Jack replied in the Time Lord's stead. "It isn't."
"We don't have time for this," the arresting officer replied. "Peters, get their gear. We'll search it back at the colony. Rodger, search Harkness."
He favoured Rodger with a glare as the man frisked him. At least he was professional about it, but he was thankful that Rose was spared the indignity. Once the other man stepped away, his wristcomm and a small blaster in hand, Jack asked with a wry smile, "Satisfied?"
Without bothering to reply, the other man resumed his position next to his commanding officer. "The transport is this way." Two of the officers fell behind the Doctor, Rose, and Jack while the others led the way.
Jack was tempted, very tempted, to make use of the previous Doctor's favourite word. After all, it fit. What was more fantastic than getting captured, shoved into a tiny transport, and hauled to face the judge, jury, and executioner in one that was his mother?
He turned toward the Doctor and Rose and smiled grimly. Might as well share the thought. "Fantastic."
To be continued...