Just a little idea I had, when I saw some "funniest first line" reunion fics, and also in honor of the day. As always, I do not own Doctor Who, but that will not stop me from trying!
As I am a professional writer and have work to do to get paid, I have decided to deal with these thudding plot bunnies in the traditional manner - I will inflict them on others. Please see my Profile for the Challenges of the Month. The first set will run through the end of March. Please let me know when you respond to a Challenge so I can read and review.
PS: I'm looking for an author who would like to help with a project. It's AU, Nine/Rose, and I need someone who likes that sort of thing. Contact me if you are interested in a full collaboration.
It was only much, much later that the Doctor got a chance to consider the full implications of the way it happened. He'd set the TARDIS down in Cardiff, thinking vaguely of popping in to visit Jack, and was just picking up his coat when the door burst open and Rose Tyler ran inside.
"Doctor, quick!" she shouted. "I need a pound for the drinks machine!" Her hair was in a tangled golden disarray and her eyes were wide and wild. She was also practically breathless and talking so fast even he had trouble keeping up. "And do you still have that fancy yo yo thingee?"
Caught completely in her urgency, he thrust his coat at her and began rifling rapidly through the various pockets of his suit. Out of the corner of his eye, he noted that she was doing the same to his coat pockets.
He found a fist full of coins and started to pick through them when she came up to him, huge brown eyes gleaming with triumph, her small hand clenched around the quantum wave temporal reduplication redundancy device. She snatched the coins from him in her other fist and darted out the door, grinning insanely and yammering at a mile a minute.
He rocked back on his heels, beaming with pride. His Rose, all clever and brilliant, moving to save the day. Wasn't she spectacular, wasn't she fantastic?
Wasn't she supposed to be trapped in another Universe?
With shaking hands, he checked the controls. No, they were definitely in Cardiff, Jack's Cardiff, about a block from Torchwood, around the corner from the bar.
It was interesting and strange, really, for him to finally lose his mind at long last in Cardiff of all places.
He hit the door running, following in the wake of her starlight and rain scent, and chased the fragrance to the small shop on the corner.
Rose was standing in front of the drinks machine, thumping on it. "If you'll just come out, I won't have to do this," she told the machine. "It'll be easier for both of us, and I'm sure we can work something out. Honestly."
"Only warning you're going to get," he put in, figuring if he'd lost his mind, he might as well enjoy his insanity thoroughly. "Come out."
"What he said," Rose agreed, and leaned against the machine to wait.
"Didn't think it would work," he said after a moment. "I've tried threatening fizzy drinks before, they never listen."
She beamed at him. "I'm sure you have," she agreed. Then, she fit the temporal device over her finger by the lead, tapped gently over the surface of the casing, and dropped a coin into the machine. She flicked the device, using it perfectly, exactly as it had been designed.
Fine, so it looked like a yo yo and any idiot could swing a yo yo, but how many people would remember this yo yo wasn't really a yo yo and know how to work it? Besides the fantastic Rose Tyler?
With every pivot of the device, the coin dropped again and a drink fell out of the machine. The Doctor stooped to pick them up, handing them to baffled passers-by as they fell, tucking a particularly exciting-looking orange one into a pocket, and watching Rose because he'd lost his mind and it was a wonderful thing.
They'd emptied the machine of everything but ginger beer and Rose was starting to sweat. The Doctor could agree with her - what were they going to do with the ginger beer when they got it out?
One more flick of the not-a-yo-yo and she snapped, "Doctor, catch it!"
He reached out and snatched up the small item that had tumbled from the machine. "Got you," he said with an enormous grin.
It swore at him and he looked down at it, confused. It was a man, a tiny one, with a green coat, an oversized ginger beard, and a little golden crown. He blinked at it in astonishment. "What's your first wish?" the little man asked, grimly.
"Oh, no, you don't," Rose exclaimed hotly and took the tiny bloke from the Doctor with an angry expression on her face. "I'm not chasing you all over time, too, you can forget it. You're going back where you came from and that's that."
"Lyprechian," the Doctor said, with some surprise. "Thought these little blighters were extinct."
"Maybe here," she said. "But I've been chasing this microscopic nuisance all over Pete's World and the surrounding space for six months now and he's going back where he came from."
"What'd he do?" the Doctor asked.
"Quantum flux events," she said, as the Lycrechian tried to speak over her.
"Grantin' wishes," the creature defended hotly. "I'll ha' ye know nary a think happened what wasnae wanted."
"Oh please," the Doctor said in exasperation. "Irish brogue? Honestly, you sound ridiculous."
It swore at him in Gaelic.
He swore back, since he knew how.
Rose giggled. She was so magnificent, shining brightly in the light of the setting sun. He could just stand there, for days, weeks, years maybe, just staring at her.
"Hold it right there," said a familiar voice behind them. "Turn around nice and slow and keep your hands where I can see 'em."
Resigned, the Doctor did just that, getting ready with a broad, ecstatic grin, so he could let Jack know that he'd lost his mind in the most delightful manner possible. Jack, however, wasn't looking at him. He had frozen, his pistol limp in his trembling hands, staring, white-faced, at where Rose would be standing if she were real.
Jack broke out of his trance to swear colorfully. "And now, I've created a temporal anomaly, I suppose," he said. He turned to the Doctor, his face livid with rage. "Why do you never tell me anything!" he demanded in righteous fury.
Faster than even a Time Lord could follow, Jack's fist came up and connected with the Doctor's jaw. There was a sound like a whip cracking and the Doctor flew back against the drinks machine, too shocked to do anything more than crumple.
He supposed he should have been gratified instead of completely baffled when the imaginary Rose stuffed the Lyprecian into his hand, rounded on Jack, drew a pistol of her own, and tucked it up under the immortal man's nose, all in one blur of impossibly fast motion.
"I don't know who the hell you are," she said, "but drop your weapon, step back nice and slow, and change back into your natural shape so we can see you."
Jack blinked. "Since when does she pack heat?" he asked, vaguely.
"You can see her?" the Doctor ventured.
"Of course I can see her," Jack said and moved as if to help the Doctor up. Rose cocked her pistol and he stopped. "Who are you?" he demanded of her.
"I'll ask the questions, thanks," she said, crossly. "Identify yourself."
"Captain Jack Harkness," he said.
She just stared at him, shaking her head and backing away slowly, the gun lowering in her trembling hands. "You can't be," she whispered. "You just can't..."
The Doctor hated to interrupt... no he didn't. "Excuse me," he said, "will someone please tell me what the hell is going on around here?"
"Tell you?" Jack demanded, his voice now harsh again. "You tell me for once."
"Know what?" said Rose, recovering her composure with remarkable aplomb, "I reckon we shouldn't all be standing around here waving guns and aliens at each other like a buncha raving nutters."
"Even if we are," interrupted the Doctor, getting carefully to his feet so as not to drop the little swearing alien and give it a chance to escape.
Rose giggled and Jack grinned. "Even if we are," she admitted. "I vote we move this discussion some place quiet. But we can't let this little menace in the TARDIS."
"My office is at your disposal," Jack offered, though he still watched her suspiciously.
She returned his gaze with equal suspicion and then looked at the Doctor, who shrugged. "Never been there," he said. "But I understand it's interesting."
"Visitor's entrance is this way," Jack said. "You stay where I can see you."
"Fine by me," she replied.
The Doctor grinned. Knowing he was insane, he was quite amused with watching Jack interact with the imaginary Rose. It was almost as interesting as watching two generals try to decide who was in charge of the army.
Actually, it looked exactly like that, which was as funny as it was fascinating. He'd asked Rose to have a fantastic life - which she seemed to have managed quite well - but he hadn't expected her to become both shining and watchful. He didn't mind much - she distrusted Jack and trusted him, and damned if he hadn't been trying for that since he'd wound up resonating concrete in a basement while she innocently waited for Jack to rescue them.
Ah, well, but he was mad, so anything could be going on, anything at all.
They reached Jack's clever back door and the two stood still, each watching as if expecting the other to pull open a zipper on their forehead or something. The Doctor came up behind them, still clutching the annoyed little alien, and the invisible square of pavement began to descend.
"I want one of these," the Doctor announced.
"You put it here," Jack replied.
"How'd he do that?" Rose asked.
"No idea," said Jack and the Doctor at the same time, and they both shrugged.
As they hovered over the Torchwood Hub, the Doctor saw that Rose was fighting her twitching lips.
The mood went from funny to bizarre the instant they stepped off of the lift, though. Jack and Rose jumped back from each other and sized each other up.
Then, they were off, circling each other, shooting questions, racing around parts of the Hub. The Doctor was doubled over laughing. He wondered if either of them would figure out any time soon that it was impossible to catch someone when you didn't want to risk them catching you.
Ianto, Jack's tea boy, some time partner, and occasional terrifying coworker showed up and stood at the Doctor's elbow. "What's this then?" he asked in that rolling Welsh accent that Jack loved so much.
The Doctor sighed. "Well, if it was real, I expect it'd be some sort of traditional greeting amongst Torchwood Executives. Sort of establishing credentials."
"I see," said Ianto, blandly, and it seemed to the Doctor that the human had a very good understanding of it.
The Doctor grinned. "It's a bit of an improvement over sniffing each other," he said, twinkling at the boy whose wicked sense of humor had occasionally set the Doctor laughing.
"Really?" said Ianto. "Because Jack's nose would appear to be twitching a bit to me."
The Doctor laughed. "So's Rose's, I think." He winced in sudden pain and looked down as the Lyprecian stabbed the point of its crown into his finger. "Don't suppose you've got a small jar we can poke holes in, have you?" he asked, holding the little alien up at eye level by the scruff of its neck.
"No problem, sir," said Ianto, and departed. The Doctor nearly cried with laughter at this part, because he walked right between Jack and Rose while he did it.
Rose froze, her foot in the air, where she had been aiming a kick at Jack. Jack, who'd lifted some flat bit of random technology to use as a shield, stepped back politely and allowed Ianto to pass unmolested.
The moment the boy'd walked past them, they were back at it. It was obvious Jack would never hit her, but it was just as obvious that she fully intended to use this theory to her advantage.
Ianto came back a few minutes later, and walked right through them, again. This was more impressive, because Jack had finally gotten the drop on Rose and was in the process of vaulting over the balcony railing at her. He managed to freeze with his body parallel to the rail. Rose, meanwhile, had been about to dodge out of Jack's way, and she appeared to be right in the middle of literally bending over backwards.
"They look like a couple of grade schoolers," Ianto commented to the Doctor as they unfroze and chased each other around and around the central spire.
The Doctor nodded gleefully and took the small glass cage Ianto had brought up with him. He stuffed the swearing quantum menace inside, slammed the lid and, just as insurance, sealed the cage with the sonic screwdriver.
Rose heard the whirring noise and stopped chasing Jack. She beamed at the Doctor. "Fantastic!" she shouted.
"You're welcome," he replied.
"Got you," Jack snapped, seized her wrist, and pulled her close.
She leveled her pistol at him, tucking it under his chin with her free hand.
Jack returned the favor, placing his at Rose's temple.
"Go on," she said. "Pull it."
"You first," Jack suggested.
"I just got the last puddle out of the tile work," Ianto said grimly. "You'll clean this one up yourself."
The Doctor had frozen in horror. He snapped out of it at the grim look in both their eyes and did something he only very, very rarely did. "Oi, you stupid apes!" he shouted in a dark, Northern accent, his own voice from his previous incarnation. "Put 'em away. Now!"
They both rounded on him, eyes wide and astonished, weapons clattering to the floor. Then, they each seemed to realize how the other had reacted to that familiar voice and, as one, threw themselves together for a very different sort of contact.
The Doctor turned away from the hug that was rapidly degenerating into something altogether worse, with a tired glance at Ianto. "You fetch yours, I'll fetch mine," he suggested.
"Very good, sir," Ianto agreed.
They dragged Jack and Rose back to Jack's office and sat them in chairs on opposite sides of his desk.
"Are ya goin' to behave now?" the Doctor asked, privately quite annoyed since he still sounded mostly Northern.
"We were behaving," Jack replied petulantly.
"Badly is behaving," Rose agreed, grinning wickedly.
The Doctor sighed, feeling rather as if he was still channeling Nine. (This was a perfectly valid reason for never doing that sort of thing - they tend to linger when he brings them out, and some of them can't be let out - Eight hasn't spoken except in bitter sobs since the Time War, and One still isn't speaking to him since he lost Rose, although why, he has no idea. And Seven should never, ever be set loose on the cosmos again.)
Ianto came back with the little glass cage and set it on the desk in between them. Rose grinned and waved happily at the annoyed little alien.
"Where is everyone?" the Doctor ventured, when he was sure it was his own, current voice that would come out.
"I gave them the day off," Jack said with a shrug. "Told 'em me and Ianto could handle things. Besides, if they knew you were here, they'd all want your autograph."
"Oh yeah, I'm famous, me." He dragged a hand through his hair. "Stop that," he told himself. "It's quite enough to be insane without talking like I just got chucked out of a pub on the docks, thanks."
"I've never heard you do that," Rose commented, a cheeky grin on her perfect face. She even poked her tongue out through her teeth, exactly as she had always done back when he was sane and she was still with him.
He beamed at her. "I can do many impressive things, Rose Tyler," he said, and waggled his eyebrows.
She giggled and blushed.
"Hold up," interrupted Jack. "We need to sort this out before you two go have dancing lessons." The bright green eyes sparkled suggestively at the pair of them.
"I wasn't the one who needed lessons," Rose said with a laugh. "If you remember."
The Doctor astonished himself by blushing. "It just took me a minute," he defended himself. "It'd been awhile."
Jack laughed. "I'll be glad to provide whatever provocation is necessary this time, too," the immortal volunteered.
The Doctor shook his head. "We'll sort it out ourselves," he said. "Unless you're gonna buy me that drink, now?"
Rose laughed, merrily. "All right, you two," she cautioned.
Jack nodded and leaned back in his seat. "OK, what I first thought is that I have just created a temporal anomaly by meeting you, now, when I've already met you, later for you, sooner for me. Then, I thought maybe Rose isn't who she claims to be."
"Humm," Rose said, narrowing her eyes suspiciously at Jack. "What I see is someone who's s'posed to be my friend working for bloody Torchwood."
The Doctor remembered when he'd found out Jack worked for Torchwood. He'd wanted to break the ex-Time Agent in half with his bare hands and never mind that he knew Jack couldn't die. He'd wanted to make Jack's not-dying as excruciating as the Doctor's own.
"What I see," said the Doctor, brushing off the memories, since they weren't fun, and being insane like this was fun, "is that I've probably been locked in a padded room somewhere where I can't hurt anyone much and am hallucinating."
"What?" demanded Rose and Jack simultaneously.
"Rose, love," he began, and beamed as the sound of those words together rolled off his tongue. "Oh, I like that. Yes, definitely good. Rose, love. Rose, love. Love, Rose... humm. Maybe not that as much. Rose, love, it is then."
She smiled at him, her eyes deep and rich and so very tender. "You're not mad," she said softly. "Much."
He nodded. "Sure I am. Because you, Rose Tyler, cannot possibly be here." He grinned and tapped her nose for emphasis. "And if that wasn't proof enough, the fact that Jack hasn't flirted with you much sorta confirms it."
"Threesome?" Jack offered, beaming cheekily.
Rose reached over the desk and smacked him, but not hard. She obviously believed him now. "How'd you get here?" she asked the immortal.
"Long story," he said, shiftily. "But I came to work for Torchwood because it needed to be fixed. They'd done too much harm, and I couldn't let it continue. Now, I'm attached to my team. It love them and they need me and I couldn't leave them." He smiled wistfully and shook his head. "How about you? I detected Rift activity and then got some odd reports about two lunatics and a Coke machine, so I went out to check, and found you."
"I've been chasin' this little blighter. He was going around playing fast and loose with quantum fluxes. People were wishing for stuff and he was tugging the possibilities for 'em. Wouldn't be so bad, but most people ain't careful what they wish for, no matter what the cliche. 'Course, Mickey's happy. He got a nickel for every time I said somethin' an' he's as loaded as Pete, now."
"Nickel?" said Jack.
"Yeah, everywhere uses American-ish money in Pete's World. 'Cept America, since it don't quite exist the way it does here."
"That's cool," said Jack with a shrug. "Never did quite believe in the place, anyway."
"You're... here," the Doctor breathed.
"Yeah," replied Rose, smiling sweetly at him. "That ok?"
"OK?" he choked out. He flung himself from his chair and snatched her to him. She jumped into his embrace, her head on his shoulder, her arms folding round him. He swung her a bit and held her tight, burying his face in her hair. He was grinning so wide it almost hurt and his hearts were thundering in his chest. He honestly didn't know whether to laugh or cry, so he just held on, never ever having been so glad to be wrong in his entire life.
Jack vaulted the desk and threw himself at them. The two men exchanged a quick, questioning glance and the Time Lord shot the Captain a wide, welcoming smile. Jack was laughing, then, as he wrapped his arms around them, not drawing them apart, but pushing them together, even as he held on tight to both of them and sobbed into Rose's hair.
It got very chaotic and emotional from there, but no one, absolutely no one cared.
"So all that's left, I guess," said Jack, sometime later, "is to get rid of this little thing. What is it, anyway?" He shrugged and shook the cage while the tiny creature glowered and swore and danced around. He picked up the cup of coffee Ianto had been fetching while he and Rose and the Doctor had been making a sobbing spectacle of themselves and sipped at it blissfully.
"It's a quantum-state higher-dimensional being known as a Lyprechian," the Doctor said. "It can muddle up strands of reality."
"Looks like a Leprechaun," Ianto said and tapped the top of the cage with thoughtful fingers.
The Doctor beamed at him. "That's exactly where your legends come from. Little Lyprechians bounced from their own dimension for being incorrigible and coming into yours, being worse. They feed on quantum energy, the energy of possibilities. That's why Rose said she wasn't going to chase it through time - if it got me to make a wish, it would have the possibilities the wish coming true collapsed..."
"What he means, Ianto," said Rose, apparently no longer needing him to translate for himself, "is that everything you lose when you get your wish goes to the alien. Except occasionally, when you can box it in."
"How do you do that?" Jack asked.
"Well, if someone with practically infinite possibilities makes a wish, it traps the Lyprecian in that person's quantum flow," said the Doctor. "And if someone with finite possibilities was very, very careful, they could take a trapped Lyprecian and put it back where it belongs."
"Let me see if I've got this," said Jack. "Someone made a wish that bound the Lyprechian to them, trying to feed off what was no longer possible."
"Exactly," said the Doctor. "But because very nearly everything has been possible for this person at some point in time, the Lyprechian was bound and couldn't leave - mostly because it's greedy and has to gorge itself. They're actually quite mindless for higher dimensional beings, although they're smarter than most of you."
"Thanks ever so," said Rose, sarcastically.
"You're welcome," he replied, grinning, deliberately missing her scathing look to stare dreamily into her glorious eyes.
"But why someone with infinite possibilities? Wouldn't someone with no possibilities be better for it?" Ianto again, quiet and curious and just a bit sad.
"Nope. You see, the things that are impossible for people with more possibilities are bigger, more energetic..." He could see that Jack and Ianto were staring at him, blankly, and even Rose was looking a bit befuddled, even though she obviously knew what made these little monsters tick.
He shifted a hand through his hair, looked around at the time traces scattered about the room, and landed on one that was a good enough example. "At this point in time, there is very, very little that Jack cannot do."
Jack grinned at him, proud and pleased at the compliment.
"He has a huge, but finite number of possibilities. However, the thing he cannot do, that is impossible for him, is huge. Anything else that becomes impossible for him attaches to that one impossibility. Look, if I try any more, I'm just going to have to lapse into my own language and you won't understand anyway, so just trust me."
"So it can't fix it, either?" said Jack, only marginally disappointed.
"Nope. It can make anything that's possible, however remote, realized. But not the impossible - quantum impossibility scarcely bears thinking about."
Ianto sighed. "We've all read Jacobs, I'm sure," he said, grimly. "And this creature is just an alien Monkey's Paw."
"That's exactly right," agreed Rose, equally grim. "Costs more than it repays in most cases."
"Ianto Jones, it is an honor to know you," the Doctor said with a smile.
"I can get rid of it," Jack said, suddenly. "I know exactly how."
The Doctor nodded. "Yes, you do. Go ahead." He flicked the screwdriver at the cage and Jack reached inside, seizing the dodging little alien after swatting at it unsuccessfully for several moments.
"I wish you to return alone to your continuum of origin," Jack said, "to remain there for as long as I exist."
"Fantastic," the Doctor breathed.
The Lyprechian glared at him with an expression of pure venom. Descent from angels, as their kind was reputed to have, also included descent from demons. The expression on the not-very-human-after-all face made that abundantly clear at once. It tried to work around the wish, hunting for loopholes, looking for anything that would make a way around it, snatching at the possibilities around Rose that had bound it to her in the first place. It could grasp nothing. "Granted," it told Jack in a filthy voice, black with hatred.
Then it vanished.
Rose giggled. "Oops," she said, while everyone stared at her.
"Oops?" said Jack, looking thoroughly nervous.
"Yeah, oops," she said. "Forgot to have it take me back. Guess I'm stuck here." She gave that wide, beautiful grin. "Oh darn."
Jack sat with Rose in the conference room, smiling as she made rambling comparisons between his Torchwood and her own. The Doctor had dragged Ianto into the TARDIS and was showing him around, leaving the two friends alone for a few minutes to discuss their respective positions.
Before they'd separated, Jack had taken the liberty of shaking the Doctor's soda vigorously for him. He was pretty sure Rose had caught him at it, but the Doctor'd missed it since he was too excited at showing off his ship and planning where to go next. Jack figured the TARDIS kitchen would get a new orange coat of goo before they came out, and maybe, if he was lucky, Ianto'd get splashed too.
"And even though I've been chasing aliens for twenty years, that little bastard almost got the drop on me," Rose said.
"Twenty years, hum?" Jack asked with a twinkle. "You look good for forty, Rosie."
She laughed. "You can talk," she told him, smiling softly.
"Are you going to tell him?"
"He'll figure it out. He's usually clever."
"Yeah, and then you bat those bright brown eyes and all those eons of evolution disappear in favor of a daft old alien who dribbles on his shirt."
She snickered. "Remember how he was when you first came on board?"
"Oh my God," Jack said. "Thought he was gonna rip my arm off and beat me with it."
"He loves you, though."
"Loves you more."
"Hum," she said. "Dunno about that. Seems to me like he's trying to lure Ianto into wanting to come along. And the only reason I can think of for that..."
Jack laughed. "He likes the coffee?"
Rose giggled. "Don't even think the TARDIS would let him make that suggestion. You know how she gets."
"What'd you wish for?" Jack asked, after several minutes of companionable silence.
She shook her head softly. "How'd you know?"
"You're the only person I've ever met who has ever been able to do everything at some point in her life."
"Ah," she said, and laid a hand over his. "Sorry."
"Don't apologize, Rosie. Looks like I'm not the only one you damned."
"You know the legends," she said. "I'd almost caught the little bugger and he got loose again. I just had a tantrum and said all I wanted was to catch the wretched little thing and go home where I belong. I didn't think it would grant the wish, but it did, and the next thing I know, I'm watching it jump into the drink machine. Looked around for some way to pull it out, and there was the TARDIS."
"Home," Jack said and tightened his grip on her hand.
"I tried, Jack. I really did."
"Me too," he said. "You can stay with me, if you want. I could use your help. One of my staff is like you, too good for the world, too sweet for words, and a temporal anomaly besides. Then there's Tosh, and she's too odd to be believed, but she's the only normal staff member I have. And Owen, my staff doctor, is dead."
"What, like you?"
"No, literally dead. No heart beat, no blood flow, still can't figure out how he talks, but I guess that would be one problem Owen Harper will never have - the overwhelming urge to never shut up would have been enough to keep him talking even if I hadn't messed up."
"You know I can't stay."
"I promised him forever a long time ago. Now, I'm just going to have to do everything to see to it that he's there to keep his end of the bargain."
Jack nodded. "Someday, I'll come go with you."
"If you get crazy before then, you'll always be welcome."
"I love you, Jack."
"Love you, too, Rosie."
"So I'm forgiven?"
"You always were. He was harder."
"Yeah. Me too." She stood up and kissed him on the forehead, then on the lips, and then she walked out of the conference room to find her Doctor.
He was waiting in the doorway of the TARDIS, smiling fondly at her and looking rather thoroughly, but adorably dazed. He reached into his pocket then, while he watched her, and pulled out that orange drink he'd snagged earlier.
Rose quickened her pace, but it was too late.
The Doctor flipped the tab and orange foam exploded from the can, spraying the startled Time Lord, his beeping, protesting ship, Rose Tyler, and, because he was just leaving, Ianto Jones.
Jack rocked back on his heels and laughed uproariously. All three of them looked at the only dry person in the room and then at each other. They all loved him, Jack thought. They wouldn't.
Rose pulled another can from another of the Doctor's pockets as all three of them advanced on him. He tried to back away but, for some reason, his hands encountered wood. He turned his head in horror to find the TARDIS behind him. "You wouldn't," he said.
"Yes," said the Doctor, "we would."
"But I helped," he protested.
"But you like us," said Rose in that sweet, cheeky voice. "Don't you want a hug?"
"Sure. When you're all dry."
"No," said Ianto, "I really think you need one now. You're looking a bit out of sorts."
The Doctor and Ianto moved as one, quick and flawless, like a well established team. They hugged him tight, soaking his shirt with the sticky soda they were both wearing. He struggled.
"No. My Jack," said the Doctor, grinning like a lunatic and clinging to his arm like a toddler. Time Lords were too strong by half.
"My Jack?" said Ianto, also clinging and pouting for good measure, and Ianto was also quite a bit stronger than he looked, dammit.
"Um..." said Jack. "Rose, help me."
"OK," she said and, giving the soda a quick flip in the air, caught it and popped the tab.
They were all drenched and standing in a puddle and really quite messy. But they were laughing and touching and happy, three of them in ways they never expected to be again. Right up until the not-so-extinct dinosaur decided to see if it liked soda and they had to make a run for it.
"Don't worry," said the Doctor, as they huddled, sticky goo drying in their clothes and their hair, just inside the console room. "The assembled hordes of Genghis Khan couldn't get through those doors."
"And believe me, they tried," chorused Jack and Rose, mock Northern accents and all.
The Doctor eyed them both. "Right then. Anyone for Ireland?"
"Why?" asked Ianto, baffled.
"Well, you know," said the Doctor. "St. Paddy's Day, green beer, the only leprechauns are out of cereal boxes, that sort of thing?"
"Let's head to Savannah instead," said Rose. "They have a parade."
"Oooh. I like how you think, Miss Tyler."
"Good," she said. "'Cuz you're stuck with me. And this time, I mean it."
"At the moment, I appear to be stuck TO you," he said.
"S'that a problem?" she asked cheekily.
"Dunno. How d'you get this stuff off?"
Jack and Ianto took that as an opportunity to sneak out.
"Water mostly," she suggested. "Shower?"
He looked at her, considering.
"Don't you dare lick me," she insisted.
"Spoilsport," he pouted.
She grinned. "Shoulda said now," she amended. "Don't lick me now."
"Much better," he said. "Seems our guests have departed. Bath time and then the parade?"
"Sure. And the luck of the Irish to you," she added cheekily.
He sighed. "Don't," he said.
"Ah, now, me friend, what's wrong w' a bit o' the blarney?"
"Really," he said, pained, "just don't."
She giggled and he laughed, and they flung themselves together into time and space.
Happy Saint Patrick's Day. Don't drown. Huggles!