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. July Challenges are now available, and what a twist for one of them. If you'd rather do June's, instead, I'd love to hear from you. Thanks to all those who have participated thus far - we had an exceptional turn out for June II for example. The new challenges will run through the end of July. Please let me know when you respond to a Challenge so I can read and review.
This story is my response to the challenge issued by celticfox for July Challenge II. I hope you all enjoy it. Challenge was this:
A guy meets a girl in a bar. The guy sometimes goes by the name of Jack Harkness. The girl is Time's Vigilante, otherwise known as our Dorothy Mcshane. The time is February 14th, 1895, the place is Cardiff. You must use immortal!Jack, postDoctor or maybe even postTime War Ace, at least one Oscar Wilde quote, and an anachrony. Also, it would be a plus if the time-traveling motorbike made an appearance.
Please let us know!
The Right Sort of Ace
Most days, Jack loved the Rift. It gave him a job to do, a team to work with, a purpose for his utterly endless existence and, occasionally, at least a chance to be a little bit the Doctor. Today, however was not one of those days.
He'd sent the team home for the night, both of them, all he had left, knowing that Gwen had Rhys, knowing that Ianto had "something personal" to handle. That last worried him, at least a little, but he had promised himself he wouldn't pry into Ianto's life anymore than a normal lover would do.
Normally, he had a clue when the Rift was about to do something truly bizarre. He'd get that maddening tingle and his time-sense would wobble on the walls of reality. This time, however, his first hint was the sensation of being prodded in the back.
He raised his head from his desk and realized immediately that it wasn't his desk at all. It was a table in a bar he hadn't set foot in for more than a century, mostly because it didn't exist any more. "What do you want?" he asked the guy who prodded him, taking in the clothing with carefully non-chalant eyes, determining himself to be somewhere in the late 19th or early 20th century.
The filthy, god-forsaken thing had done a time shift on him, and he was, once again, looking at living through an entire century, waiting to catch back up to the real world.
The only plus side was that his team had no idea he was gone. He could just turn up at Torchwood, in the morning for them, ages from now for him, and they'd never be the wiser. More to the point, they wouldn't open the stupid Rift again to try to get him back.
"There's someone asking for you," said the bar-keep. "Over at that table."
Jack stood warily and shifted a bit, making sure he had weapons at easy reach. He looked carefully at the person with a newspaper up over her face. The heavy, layered skirts of her dress were the only thing particularly visible, and they did nothing to ease his worries. His two favorite pre-Team Torchwood operatives had been women, after all. They were his favorite, too. They were completely evil and stone dead, and the first made the second wonderful. It did occur to him to wonder what she was doing alone in a bar in 1895 - most people would think her the wrong sort of woman - but Jack suddenly got the idea that no one noticed she was alone, or paid enough attention to her to care.
He looked at date on the newspaper, wondering how long he had before he had to get the hell out of Dodge - or Cardiff, in this instance, - and realized he had at least the night. It was February 14, 1895, and a much younger, but still immortal Jack was in London, meeting Oscar Wilde. However, the relief was short lived, because the woman wouldn't lower her paper, which made him very nervous as to what her intentions might be.
Finally, he gave up and took a seat across from her. There wasn't really anything she could do to him, after all. "Something I can help you with?" he ventured.
"I saw you just pop in out of thin air like that," she murmured. "Whatever you're up to, sunbeam, don't think you'll get away with it."
"I've no idea what you're talking about," he lied. "I've been drunk here all day."
There was a sniff. "You're not even drunk here, now. Humm... Twenty-first century cologne, World War II coat, fifty-first century pheromones. You absolutely reek of those. Time-agent?"
He was tired of playing games but let it go for another minute. "Are you?" he said, treating it like an introduction rather than a question.
There was an angry chuff and the paper at last lowered. "I was asking you," she said.
He studied her face to see if he recognized her. There was something familiar about her eyes - they were feral and, at the same time, flecked with the light of stars. Her hair was a warm summer brown, her face was beautiful and defied all attempts to guess her age. It also paled very suddenly, as her eyes met his own. He could only guess what she saw there, in eyes as ancient as his must look.
"Professor?" she questioned, her voice suddenly soft and a bit like a little girl.
Jack abruptly hated to disappoint her. He didn't know if he might be her Professor in the future, but he knew he wasn't now, and he was familiar with the pain of meeting someone who wasn't quite yours yet. "I'm so sorry," he said.
She shook it off, with a strength Jack had rarely seen equalled. "Thought you were someone else," she said. "Never mind. Whoever you are, you need to leave." She stood up and left the pub, then.
Jack watched her go, the dress obviously creating havoc with what was probably a lithe, easy gait without it. He noticed her shoes, though, as she tugged the skirt up a little too high to climb the three shallow steps. They were Doc Martens. He laughed out loud and got up, surreptitiously he hoped, to follow her.
The streets were still dark at night in this part of the city and he wasn't surprised that the dark dress had managed to disappear into the shadows. With those shoes, he wouldn't be able to hear her.
Aimlessly, now, he turned into the next alley and immediately found her. Or, rather, she found him. Her arms were uncommonly strong for a woman, and she had him in a pretty near unbreakable hold before he could so much as blink. He could get her off - he had been taught an extremely rare martial art by the last living practitioner - but it didn't suit his purpose at the moment.
Jack was a little disconcerted to realize that his purpose didn't include chatting her up, flirting, or dancing in any way, shape, or form. It was Valentine's Day, for pity's sake. Everyone wanted to dance on Valentine's Day. Dancing with strong, powerful, dominant women was always fantastic as far as he was concerned but, for some reason, this girl gave off the strangest, most not-erotic vibes he could imagine, like he was supposed to be protecting her instead, even from herself.
"Just couldn't resist following me, could you?" she murmured next to his ear.
"I can resist everything except temptation," he replied, making an attempt at flirting because... well, he was Jack Harkness.
She snorted and pulled his arm tighter. "I thought I told you to leave," she said.
"Yeah, well, you didn't give me a chance to tell you that I've been jerked through the Rift. Again. And can't leave. Again. Until I find the right sort of Doctor. Again. Who the hell are you, anyway?"
"That's not your... wait. The right sort of Doctor?" she said. She let him go.
Jack shrugged, straightening his coat and loosening his shoulders. They glowered at each other.
"What do you want with him?" they both demanded at exactly the same time.
"None of your business," they both replied.
Jack laughed at the annoyed look on her face and held out a hand. "Captain Jack Harkness, and I'm not flirting with you."
She took his hand, gingerly. "I'm Ace," she said. "And if you flirt with me, I'll blow you to kingdom come."
"Somehow, I don't doubt that in the slightest. I gather you're a companion."
"Could do, yeah. You?"
"I'm a Fact," he said, since he found it funny, now. It had been horrible at the time, but that was more than a thousand years ago.
She rolled her eyes. "This isn't getting me anywhere. Listen, do you know the Doctor or not?"
"Yeah, I know him. Or... well, you know, that's one of those things you claim until you find out otherwise."
She nodded in complete, compassionate understanding, but her starry eyes were caught on some scene far ago and long away. Jack had seen that scene himself, everyone who travelled with the Doctor did. It was different for each of them, but there all the same.
He trusted her, now, completely. "When did you last see him?" he asked.
Her eyes flashed green, then stilled. "We were separated. What did he look like when you met him?"
"Tall, dark, and broody," Jack said. "And last I saw him, he was tall, brown and broody."
"Wait," she said, gasping, breathless. "He's... is this... the Time War..."
"He survived," Jack said softly.
Her face came suddenly, magnificently alive, her eyes lit like the aurora borealis. She whooped with unrestrained delight and hugged him fiercely. Jack returned the hug - she felt like family.
"I gotta catch him. He's alive, he made it, I knew it. C'mon, where do you belong?"
"Let's get you back and then I'll go hunt him down. He can't run forever."
"When you say that, I'd like to remind you who we're talking about."
"Good point." She led him further down the alley way and there, standing against the wall, looking dark and beautiful and completely inexplicable, was a very interesting motor bike.
Jack whistled appreciatively. "Nice work."
Ace tugged at the dress and finally got out of it, now standing in a form fitting, dark uniform Jack thought ought to be familiar. She stuffed the dress into a rucksack on the back of the bike - obviously bigger on the inside - and handed him a helmet with face shield she'd pulled from somewhere. She was already pulling hers on. "You'll need to hold tight," she said.
"I will. One trip through the Vortex on the outside of the shields is enough, thanks."
"Dunno how you managed that," Ace said. "I've even seen those Vortex manipulators the Time Agents use spit out nothing but a smoking corpse."
"Long story," he answered and gingerly took a seat behind her, catching hold of her waist and, as instructed, holding tight.
Then, she touched the controls and they were gone.
When they appeared back in Cardiff, they were right on time for the morning to start at Torchwood. "Will this work?" Ace asked.
"Thanks, yeah. I can take it from here."
"Don't be a stranger," she said.
"You either. Here's my card - call and ask for me if you need anything."
She took the card and considered it, chuckling lightly because it was one of the new ones that said "Captain Jack Harkness, FACT." He watched her tuck it out of sight and hoped he'd hear from her again. She felt like a sister, or at least a fellow lost soul. Next time he saw her, he might even have the nerve to ask how she got stars and panthers into her eyes, and a motor bike that went every where.
"If you catch up to him," Jack advised quickly, "you'd best not tell him you have this."
"He won't mind," she said, with a fond and wistful smile.
Jack showed her his vortex manipulator and she shook her head. "The Professor really wants to keep you where he can find you, doesn't he?"
Jack hadn't thought of it that way. Before Ace left, he asked her, quickly, "Did you find what you were looking for?"
"Yeah," she said. "It's the best start I've ever had. How about you?"
"Didn't know I was looking for anything. But I did find the right sort of Ace."
She grinned and thumped him lightly on the shoulder. "Remember, mate, kingdom come."
"Got it," he said, and walked back toward his mercifully uninterrupted life, whistling. Sometimes, the Rift was wonderful.