Title: Marking Time With Hyper-Vodka
Author: Lady Yueh
Rating: PG-13
Characters: Malcolm Reynolds, Jack Harkness.
Author's Notes: A pinch-hit response for joulez217 who requested Mal, Jack and Hyper-Vodka, in the 2007 Doctor Who Crossover Ficathon on the LJ community dwcross. I was happy because I didn't have to freak out about British accents until I realized that I still had to do accents! Mal just completely took over this. Blame him. A few changes from the original. Remember to review!


"-My mama had a ranch back on Shadow, where I'm from.
-She raised you herself?

-Well, her and about 40 hands…"

-Our Mrs. Reynolds.


Mama was the prettiest woman on Shadow and that was no lie.

Adelaide Reynolds.

I'm no fibber. Mama couldn't abide liars.

Seen some gorgeous women in my time. Women could make a man forget to breathe. Could make up turn into down and turn him about til he was dizzy and sick.

But Mama was pretty. Smile that'd light up a room and warm a man from the inside. Kind and true, to be sure. Stubborn as all hell.

Wasn't the only one to think so, either.

More'n one hun dan was lured by the siren call of her charms. Not to mention her wealth.

And each qing wa cao de liu mang was found wantin' and chucked with a glance.

Or one, coupla times was some, of the ranch hands.

Mama never married again and she never told me 'bout my Pa but once.

Not that I was ever particularly concerned. Never felt a lack. Had my Mama and more'n forty odd uncles, cousins and aunts. Learnt more from them than any gorram Core Academy or program could ever teach me.

Eva'd taught me how to care for a horse, she'd the touch for charming any beast. Huang had a head for numbers and the heart of a writer, did the best he could with a brat of an eight year old. Didn't pay any mind to poetry 'til fourteen, though that was mostly on account of feisty Lin and her bright blonde hair.

Everyone had somethin' to offer; science, herding, books, Mah-Jongg, piloting, mechanics, trade, and even cards and how to hold your liquor or tell whether a man was well and truly set to shoot you.

We were family.

Now, a great subject of mystery and conjecture among the family, since before I was even a twinkle in my ma's eye and long 'til after I left, still tangles my brain into knots; Captain Jack Harkness.

The man was one of my earliest memories. Can recall sittin' at his feet along with a passel of other children, listenin' to all his tales and adventures.

He came and went. Became scarcer as I grew up. Made me wonder, more'n once, whether he was my father. Blue eyes and a mighty strong affliction known as hero worship was all it took.

Might've been wishful thinkin' but I always felt like he doted on me, as if I truly were his child. Brought me gifts, told me stories that he never breathed or hinted at in front of others. Could tell they touched his heart, way he went on about…well, even now I won't say.

Mama knew him best, but she never said much. Didn't seem to like him much either.

But that was on account of me.

Mama was never pleased about him actin' so parental towards me and the friction between them was sorely powerful. Led to many a spat. Both of them were mulish, though she was a firebrand and would shout her displeasure to high heaven while he'd take it all with a wide smile, grinning eyes and then continue on his own course.

He lost his temper, really and truly, but a single time.

The memory still tightens my gut.

The last time I saw him.

--------

Silence permeated the room.

Completely deserted at this time, when the workers were in the fields tending to crops and stock, and away from their bunks.

He's not supposed to be here and Mama would tan his hide if she knew.

"I want you to leave!"

Fear makes his heart beat like a rabbit's.

It's her.

And she sounded mad enough to spit!

He can't leave without being caught and panic makes him fast enough to dive under the nearest bunk.

"I haven't done anything!"

Jack. Not a big surprise, he had a talent for incensing Ma.

"What? Besides seducing my ranch hands and getting the women in town hot and bothered enough that the men are starting to become restless?"

He could almost hear the impudent smirk that Jack was surely wearing proudly.

"I always seduce the ranch hands, that's never been a problem, and the men are only restless because they're hot and bothered too. Can't say I blame 'em."

"Jack Harkness."

Mama had that tone. He wouldn't be surprised if the whole 'Verse knew that tone and was afraid of it.

"If you're angry at me, Adelaide, then be angry. Just don't start a spat on false pretenses."

He winced, nothing got Mama more riled than being accused of lyin'. Sometimes, Jack could be such a hou zi de pi gu.

"I take particular affront, Captain, to your audacity."

"Just admit that this is about Mal."

He held his breath, heart racing and sweat beading across his forehead. Was this it? Was some secret about to be revealed? Had he been the cause of their contention?

"He's my son."

"I know."

"NO! No, you don't know. He's my son, came out of my body and was nourished and nurtured by me. And damn you Jack Harkness, I don't know what claim or tie you have on his father's family, but he's my son and I won't have you…I won't let you lead him down the path you led his father."

A thick and terrifying silence fell and the drop in tempers seemed to extend to the room itself.

He couldn't move to look at them without giving his presence away but he knew with certainty that the comment was what broke the camel's back.

Jack was angry.

Funny how he'd almost prefer shouts to the glacial still.

Like the lake he'd gone to summers ago, perfectly calm with nary a ripple. Only to be warned of its roiling depth, the deceptive surface tricking the unsuspecting and claiming their lives.

"He made his own choices."

"Believe that, if it comforts you."

The slamming door marked her exit.

Then came the sound of packing.

"Not even going to come out to say goodbye, Mal?"

Sheepishly, he crawled from under his hiding spot and avoided Jack's gaze.

"I wish you didn't have to be a witness to that."

"You're leaving?" he blurted out in a rush.

Jack sighed and he finally looked up at the man. Looked like the weight of the 'Verse was on his shoulders and it was that sight that scared Mal; enough that he didn't dare ask questions about what he'd just heard. Something which he would sorely regret years later.

"Malcolm," and he knew it was serious because Jack had only ever called him 'Mal', he'd been the first. "I can't stay if your mother doesn't want me here."

"But I want you here," he couldn't help but whisper, the emotional outburst is a true feat for a teenage boy.

Jack almost seemed to crumble at the words but quickly regained his charming smile and eyes.

"There was a lot I wanted to teach you, but you've already learned all the important things…here," he reached into his satchel, pulled out a box and offered it to him.

"What is it?" he questioned as he took the unexpected gift, curiosity only strengthened when he saw the mischief in Jack's eyes.

"There's about half a bottle left, maybe a dozen shots," Jack explains.

"Dozen shots of what?"

"Hyper-Vodka. Quick-Silver. Dionysus' Drink. Lethe's Draught. Mnemosyne's Mead. I'm giving this to you because I know you're smart enough not to kill yourself with it. Wait 'til you're eighteen, at least, and save it for special occasions," Jack's eyes are on him and he can only make his promise with a nod.

Then, there's a look in his eyes, as if measuring and quantifying his worth.

It's unsettling and makes him squirm.

Jack shakes his head as if he's shaking away evil thoughts and now his face is only full of care and affection as he steps close with outstretched arms.

He allows the tight embrace and if there are tears in his eyes, neither acknowledges them.

"Mal Reynolds, be fantastic."

Moments later, he's alone in an empty room.

--------

He has his first shot of Quick-Silver at eighteen. Suffice to say, he misses the party.

His second shot is years later, after the violent argument with his Ma, the day before he's set out to start his first tour and there's still no reconciliation in sight.

He wishes he could have afforded to be anything but clear headed in Serenity Valley. Wanted to enter oblivion in Lethe's arms that last week.

His third, fourth, fifth and sixth come after, when he learns about Shadow and the fate of his family.

It's almost enough to kill him.

The seventh is bittersweet. He receives a letter from home, months too late, apologies and forgiveness from his mother along with whatever assets she'd been able to hoard during the war.

He has the eighth and Zoe Alleyne the ninth when they purchase Serenity. An appeal for absolution, a desire for hope.

After Miranda, Zoe Washburne drowns in the tenth and he joins her with the eleventh.

He has yet to finish the last.