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.
DoubleNatural's request for July II included a picture prompt! It was the Doctor, standing in snow. He looked a bit like he might should have been holding his sonic screwdriver, or possibly a magnifying glass. I decided he was in the process of pointing at something in the the snow. I was told I could have any companion but Donna, and that I had to involve Torchwood, somehow. Once Torchwood was invited, Jack became the companion and... well, things sort of went a bit pear-shaped. Yes, that was a Jack behaving in a Jack-like manner warning. You remember how all his best stories end? Takes place immediately following the events in "Voyage of the Damned". The TARDIS was somewhere waiting for the Doctor, if you remember...
Dashing Through the Snow
The Doctor watched Mr. Copper dart off, then set the coordinates for anywhere but here. Later, he'd pop by and ask someone to look in on Mr. Copper for him. But not now, not with this. The TARDIS was shivering at him - nearly lost you - and he soothed Her as best he could with a touch.
With a sigh of regret and a moment to reflect that he really was lucky to be alive this time, the Doctor turned and went to get changed. The Tuxedo of Doom - as it was definitely going to be known henceforth - had had a very long day and probably needed cleaning.
A quick scrub and a wardrobe change - back to the brown suit for variety - and he popped back into the console room to check that everything was all right since the TARDIS had been blasted into free space and had to sit on Earth to wait for him.
He was just checking the thermal buffers when the TARDIS gave a little shake and toppled over a multi-phasic shift in the Vortex. The Doctor grinned and twitched a few controls.
"Now what's wrong, girl?" came a voice from the interior doorway.
The Doctor's head shot up, meeting eyes with the familiar green pair on the other side of the console. "Jack!" he shouted, indignantly. "What are you doing in here?"
"Looking for you," Jack answered with equal indignity. "When the poor girl fell out of the sky practically in my back yard, I got a bit worried. Silly me."
"We were in Cardiff?" the Doctor asked.
"Yes," Jack answered, in a voice that said the Doctor was clearly mental. Then, he did a quick double take. "What do you mean were?" The Time Rotor pulsed, the ship rocked, and Jack sighed. "Ah," he said.
"Yeah, ah," said the Doctor. "Now, what am I s'posed to do with you?" Jack grinned invitingly. The Doctor rolled his eyes. "Can't you be serious?"
"No," Jack answered. Then, his face sobered and he studied the Doctor's face intently. "I thought you'd gotten hurt or... Everyone was on my line screeching at me to shoot the damn thing down. Idiots."
"Thank you," the Doctor said softly. They both knew that exploding a ship with a nuclear storm drive engine in Earth's atmosphere would have been the worst possible solution.
"What was that?" Jack teased.
"Right!" the Doctor announced, his hands flying over the console. "Cardiff, Christmas Day, 2007."
Jack grinned when the Time Rotor stilled and the whine of materialization cut in. Time Lord and ex-Time Agent grabbed tight holds on the console, so the thudding landing only rocked them a little.
"Out you go," the Doctor ordered, and pointed at the door.
"Come with me," Jack invited.
The Doctor meant to say no, he really did. Which was why the "Yeah, all right," that fell from his lips was accompanied by a look of utter astonishment.
Jack grinned. "You just can't resist me," he teased, flinging open the doors.
"Starting to wonder about that, yeah," the Doctor grumbled, tugged on his overcoat, and followed Jack out into the street.
"This isn't when I was," Jack exclaimed, looking round at the snowy streets, the sun bright over head. Bells were ringing out to celebrate the day, and children were running around, pelting each other with snow balls and yelling excitedly at each other about their gifts from Father Christmas.
"Well, excuse me!" the Doctor answered indignantly. "I'm not going to risk a Blinovitch Limitation event with you. Even I can't guess what would happen."
Jack patted the Doctor's arm soothingly. "All right," he said calmingly, "What's a few lost hours among friends?"
They continued to make their way toward the Hub, stopping to smile and toss joking threats at the kids who nearly bowled them over in their enthusiasm.
The Doctor shivered. "I'm cold," he muttered.
"I'm fine," Jack answered.
The Doctor wrapped his arms around himself, confused. "How can I be cold?" he demanded. "I don't get cold!"
"It's not too cold," Jack said. "A little more than usual, but..."
The Doctor frowned and turned around, looking at the suddenly empty street around them in confusion. Snow continued to tumble out of the sky and into his hair. "This isn't right," he said and, keeping one arm still wrapped around himself, he pointed down at the unnaturally large footprint in the snow at their feet. "Jack?" he said.
Jack came over to look. "Snowbeast," Jack exclaimed.
"Thanks," the Doctor answered with some asperity. "I kinda figured. That's why I'm cold. It doesn't belong here, and I can feel it."
"So, you're not really cold, you just think you are?" Jack demanded.
"Shut it," the Doctor said. "Look. Where is it going?"
They followed the footprints for a few steps, but a sudden scream from the side street across the way cleared up any questions. Without thinking about it, because it had become a habit, maybe even because he missed it, the Doctor reached over, grabbed Jack's hand, and they charged after the scream as fast as they could move. Their coats flared dramatically behind them and the Doctor grinned from the sheer joy of the chase with a companion who could keep up with him.
There was an unnatural bellow, then another scream. "Tosh," Jack shouted.
"Jack!" came the answering cry. "What is this thing!?"
"It's a Snowbeast," the Doctor called. "Just, don't move and quit screaming. It doesn't like noise."
"It looks like it's going to eat us!" came a man's indignant voice.
"Not in the way you're thinking," Jack answered quietly. "Just hold on, Owen," he shouted louder, "I'll be right there." He dropped the Doctor's hand and shrugged out of his great coat.
"What are you doing?" the Doctor demanded fiercely as soon as he realized that Jack's clothes were making a trail behind them. "This is no time for your histrionics." Jack's t-shirt landed in the snow.
The Doctor stopped still and stared at his suddenly bare-chested friend. "Have you lost your mind?!" he exclaimed.
"No," said Jack. "Haven't you ever faced one of these things before?"
The Doctor scratched at the back of his neck. "Well, yeah, but I usually just lure them off with a keg of something."
"You see any kegs here?" Jack demanded. "That's all they are, these things, a bunch of party animals. If you haven't got liquor, there's only one other way to subdue them."
"They're asexual!!" the Doctor bellowed.
"Tell them that," Jack replied and - hey, presto - there went his trousers. The Doctor firmly averted his eyes and moved round the corner into the alley.
"Stupid Time Lord!" Jack grumbled from behind him.
"Stupid Immortal," the Doctor answered and then came face to back with the Snowbeast. "Oops," he said.
The huge, white-furred menace rounded on him. "Pretty," it growled through a mouth of teeth and ghastly breath.
"Thanks," the Doctor said weakly and dodged a multi-clawed swipe.
"Pretty!" the Snowbeast repeated furiously.
"Yes, you already said," the Doctor agreed. "Get out of there," he added to the two people cowering on the other side of the beast.
"How?!" demanded the man.
"Good point," the Doctor said, and stopped to consider. The beast was filling up nearly all of the alley, after all. His cogitation, however brief, was his undoing, as the Snowbeast got an enormous fist round his arm and dragged him closer.
"No," the Doctor answered, frantically, vehemently. "Jack, where are you?" He tried to get free, but the beast's fist wouldn't budge. He twisted in its grip, intent to drop it with a quick chop to the neck, but it caught his other wrist and dragged him closer.
"Pretty!" the beast exclaimed ecstatically. "Shag?"
"Nonononono," the Doctor answered, trying everything now just to keep his balance. "You're asexual!!" he added desperately.
"No," said Jack. "Mine."
The beast looked up from its apparently firm determination to give the Doctor a wet, fuzzy snog and froze. "Shag?" it whispered, started trembling, and then exploded.
The Doctor lurched out of the way, trying to get around the clouds of steam to the two who were trapped behind the recently detonated beast.
"Move, Owen!" Jack ordered. "Tosh, c'mon."
The Doctor grabbed a hand of each and jerked them around the spot where the Snowbeast had been, blinking rapidly to clear his vision as soon as they cleared the fog.
Almost immediately, he wished he hadn't. Jack stood there in his usual, proud, hand-on-his-hips pose, only this time, the clothes that made the view so impressive were completely missing. Not that the view wasn't still impressive, just that it was rather more of Jack's skin than the Doctor wanted to see at the moment.
No, ever. He definitely meant ever.
"What the hell was that?" Owen demanded. He was gaping at the former beast behind them. The Doctor, having turned pointedly around, was able to see clearly the look on Tosh's face when she caught sight of her boss - it was much better than the look she gave him when she found out the pig wasn't a real alien. She jerked hard on Owen's arm.
"What, Tosh?" Owen demanded, and turned toward her, only to have his gaze arrested by the sight the Doctor was avoiding. "Jesus Christ, Jack, I hope you freeze your bits off!"
"Captain," said the Doctor, still determined not to look at the man wearing nothing but a pair of boots and a come-hither smile, "I think it's time you put it away."
"If you say so," Jack agreed, and shivered. "Guess it is getting a bit chilly."
The Doctor sighed, shucked his coat, and gave it to Jack until they could round up the Captain's own coat. "Is there anyone back at the Hub? If so, can you call them to bring us a cage or something?"
"Why?" asked Tosh, her hand still over her eyes. The Doctor noticed she was peeking, but refrained from mentioning it.
He grabbed something from the snow and fanned at the cloud of steam. Billows rippled away to reveal several very small, fluffy creatures snuffling in the snow. "Asexual reproduction. By exploding."
"Can I have my boxers, honey?" Jack asked.
The Doctor looked at the item in his hand and flung the brightly patterned pants back at the Captain. "Thought you wore thongs," he mused, then jerked his hand up over his enormous gob to stop any other stupid words from coming out without his permission.
"Only for you," Jack replied.
"How did this happen?" Tosh, apparently not one to be distracted by anything, wondered. She was still staring curiously at a small creature digging at the nearest snow pile.
"Hey," said Jack, with his patented grin, "I'm Captain Jack Harkness."
Everyone had the same thing to say to that: "Stop it."
"We'll go fetch the cages," Owen volunteered.
Jack looked at him as if this was a very suspicious thing for him to say. "All right," he agreed.
"Leave you and your boyfriend to find your clothes," Owen continued.
The Doctor was too stunned to say a word, and Jack looked a bit too annoyed. As they left the alley, the Doctor distinctly heard Owen say, "D'you think Ianto knows about that?"
The Doctor raised his eyebrows, and then dug Jack's trousers out of a snow bank. "Ianto?" he asked.
"Shut up," the Doctor answered and scrambled around the corner to find the rest of Jack's clothes.