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.

DarkAngel31's challenge for July II was a tough one. She asked for a meeting between Captain Jack and everyone the Doctor left behind on Earth between the time Jack arrived there after "Parting of the Ways" and the time he left for the adventure in "Utopia". She also required me to include a Doctor, although whether anyone interacted with the Doctor or not was up to me. Her time frame was specific: it had to be after or at the very end of their travels with the Doctor. I agreed, with the single amendment that only canon companions counted. Thus, this list:

Ian Chesterton & Barbara Wright (sometime c. 1963), Dodo Chaplet (July, 1966), Ben Jackson & Polly Nameless Blonde Chick (July 20th 1966, technically never left), Victoria Waterford (time unconfirmed, presumably 1968ish), The UNIT set - Dr. Liz Shaw, Jo Grant, Sarah Jane Smith, John Benton, Harry Sullivan, Mike Yates, the Brig, et al. (The 1980's), Tegan Jovanka (c. 1984), Ace - could be any when, Dr. Grace Holloway (1999/2000)

This story is in two parts, with part one being set in the 1960's, and part two being set in the 1980's and after.

Many Meetings

Part 1

When Jack entered the bar, he knew it was going to be one of those days. There was a teenaged boy at the bar, maybe all of 13 or 14 years old, perched on the bar stool, kicking his sneakers into the wood panelling. The sneakers lit up with every impact, something Jack thought was both interesting and anachronistic. A glass of milk sat in front of the kid, and the bar-tender scowled down at him, then across at Jack.

The child apparently caught the look because he turned, jumped off the stool, and ran over. Jack stared at him wildly, trying to decide if he had ever in his entire life met this child or even the boy's parents before. He decided he hadn't, even as the child enfolded his waist in a tight hug. "Hi, Jack," said the kid, in a piping, friendly, interesting voice. "Need a favor."

"You mean besides paying your tab?" Jack asked.

"Yeah, you could do that, too, that'd be great, thanks!"

"Figured I could." He handed money to the bartender and, once he'd gotten his change, he led the child out of the bar.

"All right, what's so important that you have to wander up into the nearest bar demanding to see me and threatening to scream if I don't show up? Couldn't you have picked some place more appropriate to kids?"

"No, it doesn't work that way. You show up at a kiddie sort of place and threaten to scream and they pretty much let you. Figured that out early on. I'm trying to clean up some old glitches and I need a favor."

Resigned, Jack sat on the nearest bench. The kid sat down next to him and laid his head on Jack's shoulder. "I miss you when you're not around," the boy said in a soft, fond voice.

Jack was completely thunderstruck. He didn't know anyone - ANYONE - who would cuddle up to him like this, and certainly not any pretty, red-haired teenagers. He sat there for a minute, wondering what to do, when suddenly the kid froze and jumped up from his seat.

"That's... sorry, Jack, I just came to ask for a favor, honestly."

He even sounded like a kid, although he didn't look much like one as he paced back and forth in front of the bench. He reminded Jack of someone, but he couldn't place the kid's identity at all. "Look, kid, why don't you tell me who you are?"

"'Cuz I can't tell you if you don't know. That's the rules." The kid bounced reflectively, watching his own shoes for a moment. Jack said nothing. "C'mon Jack," the kid pleaded. "You know the rules. You've been a time traveler before, and you will be again... oops."

Jack smiled. "Thanks, kid. Nice to know that." Feeling a bit magnanimous for the wonderful news the boy had let slip, Jack sat back and stretched his arms across the back of the bench. "Tell me what you need," he said.

"'K," the kid agreed and pulled out a notebook. He tore off a page and handed it to Jack. "They traveled in time with someone. Anyway, idiot dropped them off on the exact same day they left. Need you to keep them from running into themselves, if you would. Here's everywhere they were known to be before they left. Think you can do that?"

"Huh," said Jack, looking at the drawing of the rather attractive young couple. "Well, anybody stupid enough to try to cross their own time-lines..."

"They're nice people, Jack, some of the best, seriously. They just... too much youthful enthusiasm about that sort of thing is all."

"And you want me to keep them from running into them."

"Couldja maybe? Yeah, that'd be it."

Jack sighed and rolled his eyes. "How do you want me to go about doing that?"

The boy's golden eyes looked older, and uncanny. The boy himself had an impish smirk on his delicately beautiful face. "You're Captain Jack Harkness," the kid said, in such a suggestive manner that Jack felt himself blushing.

"Stop it," he said to the kid.

The kid started laughing and turned to walk away.

"What are their names?" Jack asked.

"Ben and Polly."

"Who are you?" Jack added, trailing after the child. For such a little thing, the boy could move.

"An old friend!"

"At least tell me how I know you."

"Can't, Jack. Honestly."

"Who're your parents, then?"

The kid gave an exasperated sigh. He stopped and turned around, catching Jack's eyes with his own golden pair. "Ian and Barbara Chesterton," the child said.

Jack was surprised at having been told anything. It took him several minutes - after the kid had disappeared - to figure out that the kid had probably just made the names up.

He looked down at the paper he had been given, and the date, and realized he needed to vanish fast. July 20th, 1966 was tomorrow.

He found the older Ben & Polly trying to sneak into the bar where the younger Ben & Polly would meet up with their time traveling future. They refused to be distracted by the standard 'save the world' bits, so Jack resorted to exactly what had been suggested by the boy's impish smile. He enjoyed himself that evening and so did Ben & Polly.

Jack rather thought they would make a beautiful couple, demanded to be invited to the wedding, and disappeared, but not before they gave him an address and asked him to stop and look in on another friend of theirs, Dodo, and make sure she was doing all right.

Jack hunted Dodo Chaplet up and found her to be young, cute, and charming. He entertained her with stories for a few hours and decided she was well enough, though her eyes looked a little haunted, Jack thought.

He wondered idly after he left Dodo what these people could possibly have in common. It was only after he got back to Cardiff that he remembered the name of the couple who were supposedly the red-haired boy's parents.

A few days of carefully misdirecting Torchwood resources turned up an actual result to his search. He could admit that he was actually surprised. He hadn't expected this Ian and Barbara couple to exist.

A few more days were required for him to arrange a reason for Torchwood to send him to London. The first search had been a close call and he didn't want to draw any of their attention to any personal missions. He'd had years of practice at it, thankfully.

The next day found him at Coal Hill School.

Mrs. Chesterton was a tall, stately lady with a beautiful smile and a certain elegance of manner that told Jack she really ought to be an Empress someplace, instead of a school teacher in London. Mr. Chesterton was a study in contrasts. He looked ready for a fight, yet his clothes were neat and dignified. He spoke in a very down to earth, straightforward manner, yet one glimpse at his eyes gave away the fact that they were pointed at the stars and always would be. He seemed to be the product of an age of Britain where all men were gentlemen, unemotional and career-minded. Yet his affection for his wife was demonstrative, very close, very unguarded.

Jack liked them instantly.

Even if they had no ginger-haired children.

"I can't even imagine why he would have said such a thing." Barbara said. She and Ian had invited Jack to have a coffee with them at a local shop and he joined them gladly, almost loathe to be parted from them.

"Well, it isn't as if we haven't met more than our share of unearthly children," Ian replied. They smiled at each other, reminding Jack abruptly of another pair who could say so many things with a few words that no outsider would understand.

"I need to ask you a question, and you don't have to answer if you aren't comfortable," he said. "But do you happen to know a man called the Doctor?"

The looks on their faces gave them away, though it would have concealed it from absolutely anyone else. A split-second, identical expression on both their faces, the suggestion of knowledge beyond this world, the sparkle of eyes that had seen wonder and terror and lived to never tell about it again. Then their expressions closed completely and Jack knew he would get nothing further on that subject from them.

Jack smiled. "Never mind," he said. "Just thought I'd ask. Old friend of mine I can never seem to catch up with."

They chatted on about other topics, Barbara's book, Ian's fascinatingly advanced ideas about what Jack knew would be called quantum physics in the future. He was careful and they were careful and when they parted, Jack gave them his private number and asked them to call if they ever needed anything.

"I've been thinking," said Barbara, "that there are some people we might can help. Jack, I think we all know what sort of people we're talking about. If you happen to run into them before we do, it would be fine if you sent them to us."

Jack shook their hands and left them to their lovely, domestic romance, more than half afraid that he might never see them again.

It wasn't until 1968, when he met a girl called Victoria Waterford, who was living with a couple called Harris, that he found a reason to send someone to them. She was sad-eyed and pale, Victoria, and didn't seem to be adjusting to her world at all. A quick call arranged for the Chestertons and the Harrises to meet, and Jack knew that at least three people would be comforted by the meeting.