"Jack, stop it."

Jack shifted slightly, still looking over Violet and Saul's shoulders at the blipping light on the console monitor. FRED's white lights hummed contentedly around them, even while it tried to work on the current problem. "I'm not doing anything."

Violet backed up a step, causing the former Time Agent to also take a step back. "Quit it."

Saul glanced to the other man, then to the woman he recognised only through intuition as his mother. "What?"

Turning a dial on the console, she set the trace on the signal to run a bit faster. "Both of you, just stop it."

Saul tried not to grin, and when he glanced at the other man, he could see that 'Jack' was trying to do the same.

It wasn't some secret that Saul was trying to keep. He did think the other man had…admirable qualities. But he had no idea why his mother was getting so upset about it; or so upset about the other man seeming to reciprocate. They hadn't said two words to each other that were not about the problem at hand, and somehow she knew. And it made her uncomfortable.

Saul decided that he liked his mother. He also liked having someone to worry after him that wasn't his da.

Setting the TARDIS into motion, Violet began guiding the ship towards the endpoint, the place where three inter-time communications signals intersected. "I'm going to send one of you to help Gran feed the boys if you don't behave yourselves. Jack…I don't need to be psychic to know what you're thinking. Saul–you think too loud. Just… let me do this. I have a bad feeling we need to get your father back as quickly as possible. Because if the Doctor is behaving true to form, he'll need a rescue–or at least a distraction–pretty soon too." She sighed, her shoulders slumping and her head bowing just a bit.

Violet–his mother (it was weird to think of a real physical person that way–she'd always been this ephemeral idea from his father's stories) was tired. He could sympathise, at least. He'd been running his whole life too. Running was taking its toll on her, and she hadn't been doing it nearly as long as he and his father had. That sort of told him that other bad things had happened in his absence.

Spontaneously, Saul turned to the other man. "We have a few minutes. Jack, can you make sure great, gran…er… Jackie doesn't need anything? I've been alone with those boys for a couple of months–they'll tag team her, if she's not careful."

"Gran can hold her own," Violet muttered absently, never looking away from the monitor or moving her hands from the controls.

Jack's eyebrow twitched when he glanced at Violet, and Saul folded his arms over his chest, giving a slight nod as he did so. Jack could play the subtext game. It made him like the man even more.

It was kind of a relief to actually enjoy the presence of his mother and family. Sometimes he'd be afraid, from all the stories his father told, that his family would be larger than life and too difficult to measure up to. Rom was shorter than he imagined, Branden whinier than he imagined, Arten messier than he imagined, and his mother more…human than he imagined. She even had decent people for friends.

"I'll be back in a few," Jack offered as he left the console room of Violet's ship.

His own was stashed in a shielded room a few decks below. There were a few…spatial-temporal issues that cropped up with having a TARDIS inside another TARDIS. But he'd let her make the call, and she'd made the right one–hers was more powerful than his and would be able to do the calculations faster and traverse the vortex with a lot less hassle.

Jack was gone, and they were alone.

He glanced over her shoulder, wondering if she knew it was a trap. Coz it was.

"Of course it's a trap," she said absently. "You're broadcasting. And I know your barriers are better than that. I couldn't hear a peep when I got here."

That's because he'd thought she was the enemy. Taking a deep breath, Saul worked on putting his mental barriers in place. He wondered if it would have been easier and more intuitive if he'd have learned these things from a Time Lord, and not just from random psychics and empaths around the universe.

"Vi–mum." The word was weird in his mouth. "I wanted to say…" He had no idea what he wanted to say. "You're… nice." Nice? That was all he could come up with? "And…and we'll get dad back. And…" He'd run out of things to say. Usually he had his… thing more together than this. He had to. You didn't survive in the Thieves Guild if you couldn't keep your act together and at least pretend to be a smooth operator. "And thanks."

The last bit was muttered. He felt like he should be hugging her, but he didn't want to make her uncomfortable.

She smiled at him, and it made his hearts do weird things. Then her hand clasped over his, and she looked him in the eye. "We will get him back." He could sense her turmoil, even though she was far better at hiding her emotions than he was. "Not how I expected this reunion to happen." She sighed and slid her hand away. "I think it comes with being part of this family. Everything gets messed up…all the time. Nothing's ever simple."

Taking a chance, he wrapped an arm around his mother's shoulders and squeezed. It felt odd being so much bigger than her. He felt like he should still be a little boy for her, somehow. If only he could manage it.

Sliding a hand around his back, she gave him a returning one-armed hug. Good enough, he supposed. The best that could be done under the circumstances. Or at least, that's what ran through his mind when the ship jostled and he almost slammed into the centre column.

As it was, his tight hold was the only thing that kept his mother from being clipped in the midsection by the edge of the console.

Here they go again.

XYZ

Here they went again.

The Doctor wasn't a fan of Torchwood. He had a litany of reasons built up over the years. But Jack and the gang had been rather nice, giving Rose something productive to do during her pregnancies, when time travel was right out. A home away from home if you will. Even if they were a slightly evil to moderately misguided organization, they could still hold their own most of the time. He liked that about them.

Which is why he hoped Gwen Cooper and Ianto Jones realized they were in way over their heads. Possibly even above their pay grade.

But when they'd stepped out of the TARDIS, he'd been too far away to do more than watch both of the Torchwood Three members enter the warehouse, without drawing attention to his rather obviously parked time machine. The last thing he needed was the temporal boot for unpaid parking tickets in space and time.

He looked back at Rose. "Alright. Here's the plan." He sighed. "Never mind. I don't have one. Lets just get in there and figure out what the damage is."

Keeping an even pace, he tried not to draw any attention to them. Whatever was happening was going to happen, and them rushing in before they had information wasn't going to help things.

"So." He started off casually, feeling for Rose's hand. It wouldn't do to get separated just now. Which was usually when this sort of thing happened. Hand-holding was a preemptive measure–like with the boys. If he had hands, then they couldn't hit each other. It was like that with Rose, but more about like… abductions and wandering off and things. "Back there. In the console room. What was that?"

She let him take her hand. Which was something. "It's whatever you wanted it to be."

Oh that was not helpful.

Crossing the street, they made it to the long side of the building, walking as unassumingly as possible. They could have been any couple taking in the evening air. "Well, I just want to know. So that I know."

Rose sighed. "It was what it was, ok? Can we talk about this once the boys are safe?"

Wait a second. Was she the one avoiding the topic? That wasn't how these things were supposed to work. He had it on good authority, in fact. She was supposed to say things and he was supposed to be the one fobbing them off until later. Later being never. It was why their relationship was so comfortable. That was why it worked.

Coming up to the door Gwen and Ianto had gone through, the Doctor glanced around for the obvious signs of a trap. He knew better though–they were the Time Agency. They were all about the un-obvious signs of a trap. But he didn't see any of those either. "Well, if it means anything…*I* don't want you to go."

"Ok," she muttered as she pushed open the unlocked door. "But lets get out of this first, huh?"

She was tricky sometimes.

But it was what he liked about her–just when he thought he'd figured her out, she'd change the rules. Like when she started making him be civilized and change clothes every day, or made him stop putting babies in boxes for safe keeping while he worked. If he figured her, or "it" out, it'd probably be less fun.

The second they were over the threshold, the floodlights came on.

No, not a trap. Not a trap at all.

XYZ

As soon as the ship stabilized, they were both looking at the sensors. His ship was a baby, and didn't have barely as many controls as this one did, and he was at a loss as to what some of them meant. "I think we're in trouble," his mother muttered.

He knew what the red blipping circular thingy (he'd never learned Gallifreyan) meant. Something had locked on to the ship. "Can we shake it?"

Violet sighed. "No. The Doctor could. His ship could take it. I flat out know better than to try–FRED just won't handle it. Not in this reality." She started shutting systems down, presumably so the lock would do the least amount of damage. "Ok. It's a time lock. We may be able to get it to do some spatial movement once this thing sets us down."

"Do we want to?" he asked. "They have dad, and they're practically letting us in the front door."

Violet bit her cheek. "Ok. But the spatial movement may be a good thing. We may be able to at least keep FRED from being manhandled."

Something beeped further back in the ship–some strange reminder of the cloister bell on the Doctor's TARDIS. "Ok. Space movement's out of the question." She pointed to some switches and he got the mental note that he needed to shut them either to their lowest setting or off. He was thankful. He wasn't a fan of just sitting around, doing nothing.

"What about my ship?" He just thought about the poor little thing, hiding in a shielded room.

"How dimensionally transcendental is it?"

"Not very."

"Leave it then. FRED'll do his best for her." The centre column stopped moving and the glowing light inside slowly died. "I have a plan."

"Why am I afraid of this plan?" It didn't sound like his father's well-thought-out ones, from what little emotion he was picking up from her, namely in the 'hope this works' territory.

She looked around quickly, making sure everything that could be turned off was off. One more dial later and they were in darkness. "I'm, uh… gonna give them what they want."

Saul sighed, wondering if his mother was as great as his da made out. "It's not really a real plan, is it? You're just… making things up."

"Yeah," she muttered absently, walking to the doors. "But I learned from the best."

TBC…

1. Chapter 12. Chapter 23. Chapter 34. Chapter 45. Chapter 56. Chapter 67. Chapter 78. Chapter 89. Chapter 910. Chapter 1011. Chapter 1112. Chapter 1213. Chapter 1314. Chapter 1415. Chapter 1516. Chapter 16