As a request for July II, mysterypoet66 asked me for this one, which was meant to be a sequel to "The Shakespeare Code". It got out of hand with me because Donna and Jack were the specified companions. Since I couldn't have them in the same place without going AU, I went completely AU. Welcome to yet another Universe of mine, wherein the events of Journey's End went one of the ways I think would have been better.
What I'm supposed to have is Donna & Jack, the explanation behind the Queen's Wrath, several specific quotes from Shakespeare, and a cream pie sans crack. What I have is Shakespeare... oh, it's complicated, you'll have to read it.
This one is multi-chaptered. Updates may take a few days because all research is being done carefully and with loving dedication to historical accuracy. Which me luck, I'll need it. And yes, every chapter will have a Shakespearean title.
A Bardic Tale
Chapter 1: Much Ado About Nothing
"Oi, genius, up and at 'em."
Jack smiled as he walked past the last bedroom just before he would reach the console room. He would have kept walking, but a door opened, and a pillow came soaring out, following by a laughing Donna Noble. He dodged the first, caught the last, grinned his best grin at her. She smiled shyly back at him, and Jack couldn't resist a bit of a smirk. One of so many changes they'd had to get used to, but it wasn't the weirdest, so Jack couldn't complain. She was a little quieter than before, at least where Jack was concerned.
She still had no qualms about hitting the Doctor round the head, shouting at him, or otherwise making his life simply - as she said - 'wizard'. Well, that wasn't strictly true. They all stepped a little lightly around the Doctor these days - he was an ancient alien, so he wasn't exactly fragile, but Jack was an ancient human himself, so he knew how breakable not-fragile became some times.
"Hey, princess, have you seen my glasses?"
Donna rolled her eyes, and Jack snorted, straightened her up a bit, and tilted his head toward the door. "Have fun," he said.
She sighed. "Yeah, well, seeing's you couldn't see 'em if they jumped up and bit you..."
Jack opened the console room door and shut out the morning banter. He loved them, he really did, but they were so loud!
The Doctor was leaning over the console, jotting rapidly in a notebook and pausing to swear intermittently in dead languages. "Any luck?" he asked softly. The Time Lord just shook his head.
Jack sighed. "All right. I think it's time I get back to Cardiff, then. I can set Mickey the Idiot running some algorithms through the computers there, maybe call Sarah and see if I can borrow some time with her Mr. Smith. Is it just me, or is the computer's name really funny?"
The Doctor looked up, blinking rapidly. "I've got an idea."
"Uh oh," said Jack.
"No, it's not that sort of idea. Just thought I'd make a quick stop or two before I set you in Cardiff. Old times sake and all that."
"Doctor, my team..."
"Jack, time machine."
"I know," the ex-Time Agent replied crossly. "But you know as well as I do - better, really - that time feels like it's passing, even if it technically isn't."
The Doctor nodded, looking wistfully at his calculations. "Right. Still, can't hurt, can it? Sort of retrace our steps, a bit?"
"You just don't want to be left alone with the Wonder Twins," Jack accused, grinning as he said it to lighten the blow a bit.
Wonder Twin Two staggered through the doorway right about then, looking, as he always did, around the console room as if he couldn't remember where it came from. "We're on a spaceship!!" he yelled enthusiastically.
"D'you blame me?" the Doctor asked quietly.
Jack looked at the awestruck young man. He was currently running a reverent hand up one of the coral support struts. Jack smiled fondly - it was one of his few mannerisms that was still familiar from... well, from before. The man was ginger-haired like his sister. His eyes were the same goldish-green color as hers.
Other than that, he looked exactly as he had the day he was "born" - completely identical to the Doctor.
"John, if you don't give me my shoes, I'm gonna kill you and hide the bits in jars!" Donna shouted from the hall.
"Knew I shouldn't have let you go to Egypt!" John shouted back. Then, he turned to the other two men. "Don't s'pose you know what I did with her shoes?" he asked.
Jack and the Doctor laughed.
John Noble rolled his eyes. "Well, isn't that wizard?" he demanded.
The Doctor just smirked.
"Elizabethan England," the Doctor announced proudly, flinging open the doors. "A time of romance and cultural advancement, Bess Tudor on the throne, and the British Armada the pride of the open seas."
"A time of open sewers and distinctly primitive personal hygiene," John answered, wrinkling his nose.
Donna whacked him in the chest. "Shut it, bright-boy."
"Bite me, temp-girl," he replied.
Jack snorted while the Doctor struggled not to laugh. "Right, let's all recite the rules," the Doctor said playfully. "What's rule number one, boys and girls?"
"No sleeping with our great-great-grandparents?" Jack asked.
"No letting Donna loose on the Church fathers?" John suggested.
"No feeding the hungry aliens?" Donna offered.
The Doctor threw up his hands. He loved them, he really, really did, but some times he absolutely despaired of them. "Right. Jack, that's rule two for you, and isn't this the wrong century? John... yes, very good idea, rule two for you. Donna, I ate, thanks, and I'd better be the only alien here."
"You probably won't be, though, space man. It'll turn out that there's some alien plot to capture Shakespeare and use his plays to take over the world or something."
"No, already did that one. Will do that one," the Doctor said. He shrugged. "Never mind. Point is, rule number one is, as always, don't wander off. Really, really don't. No 'I just want to see this', no 'huh, that's a mark seven laser converter, I'd better steal it', no 'oh, wow, I think I'll follow the strange looking strangers down the dark alley', none of that. All three of you stay where I can see you, especially you, John, you're completely new at this. Jack, it's a long walk and a long wait to Cardiff, got it?"
Jack nodded. The Doctor had recently discovered that he was going to have to adjust his nice round number that he claimed as his age because Jack was older than it. Not actually older than he really was, though, but they were very nearly neck and neck. "Last thing. Jack, she's called the Virgin Queen. Please leave it that way, yeah?"
Jack laughed. "Are we actually going to meet her?" Donna asked excitedly. "Queen Elizabeth, we're going to meet her?"
The Doctor scratched at the back of his neck. "Yeah, well, last time I was here I found out she knew me, so I thought we could do, yeah."
"Knew you how?" Jack demanded, a bit of teasing in his tone as he set off up the street.
"She ordered my head off," the Doctor admitted eventually.
John patted him on the back sympathetically. Jack and Donna laughed.
"Not the right time frame is it, Doc?" Jack asked as they entered a small market area.
There were notices signed under James I. The Doctor sighed. "Ok, so I missed it by a few years."
"At least we don't have to deal with a potential head hunt, I suppose," Jack acknowledged, watching Donna and John intently to make sure that the former didn't run off and the latter didn't glue himself to the notices he was staring at in awe and fascination. "If I seduce him, will you kill me?"
"Yes," the Doctor said.
"How 'bout her?"
"Twice," the Doctor replied.
"Worth it," Jack decided, and wandered over to flirt with the Noble twins.
The Doctor rolled his eyes. Short of putting Jack out on an airless asteroid and making him space walk back to Cardiff, he had very little control over the man. Well, that and Jack loved him. Of course, John might sort of give him an outlet for that.
Of course, he didn't want - really, really didn't want - to find out what his counter-part, who firmly believed he was Donna's twin brother, did and did not know about "human social interaction". What he wanted to do, if he was completely honest, was to turn the Universe over and shake it to make sure no more Daleks and no more Time Lord weaponry fell out. And hopefully get a lead on their missing companion while he was at it.
He shook himself, desperate to ward off the memories. He couldn't endure them, he simply couldn't. He closed his eyes, swallowed hard.
"Doctor?" asked a familiar voice from up the street.
The Doctor's eyes flew open. "Shakespeare?" he asked.
"Shakespeare?" said every member in his little band, Jack slightly out of synch with the Noble twins.
William Shakespeare, somewhat older but still wearing that neck piece the Doctor had suggested, came dodging through crowds toward them, then snatched the Doctor's hand and shook it warmly. "You haven't changed..." he started to say, but then he peered into the Doctor's eyes. "Yes, you have, my friend. Oh, you have. And what nightmares have befallen you?"
"I don't want to talk about it," the Doctor replied grimly.
"You didn't..." Shakespeare studied the group with those quick, clever eyes. "Did you lose Martha?" he asked.
"No," the Doctor replied, forcing a smile. "She just stayed in Freedonia for this trip." The others, except Donna, could read from that that they were meant to not say anything. Donna, however, appeared to be trying to figure out where this guy had come from and what they'd done with the Shakespeare she knew from her history books.
"What'dya say, Will?" the Doctor asked enthusiastically. "How'd you like to see the ship, this time?"
Shakespeare nodded excitedly. "I'd love to. I have a new story to tell you, Doctor, and I think you'll enjoy it. Sadly, I can never tell it to the world, so it will have to be for you alone."
"What story is that?" the Doctor wondered.
"The story of the man who offended her majesty the queen and lived to tell about it."
The Doctor stared. "You found out?" he breathed in wonder.
"Yes, and it wasn't easy, let me tell you. Oh, but it's a story worthy of an old bardic tale. So why don't we see your ship, and you can introduce me to the lady with the hair of flame."
"And I'll break out the hypervodka," Jack suggested.
"No, Jack," the Doctor said.
"But," Jack and Donna both whined.
"No!" the Doctor and John repeated.
Will smiled. "Might want wine with this one, time traveler. I wouldn't like to hear this sort of story about myself without fortifying."
"Once upon a time," the Doctor said cheerfully, as he led them down the street, "I sent Mr. Shakespeare here to the Globe with only one request and he fluffed it!"
"See," said Shakespeare, his eyes twinkling, "and that could have gone down much smoother."
The Doctor shook his head, "Allonsy, William," he said. He made a sour face, which Donna laughed at him, but not unkindly.
"Doesn't sound as good?" she asked.
He shrugged. "Could be worse, I suppose."
"How?" asked John, coming up on his other side, forcing the three of them to walk in a strange sort of tandem.
"The king's guards could be after us, too!" Jack shouted as a loud kerfuffle broke out behind them in the streets.
The Doctor snagged a hand of each twin. "Run!" he ordered.