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. This month's June Challenges have been added because June's a good month for a change. The new challenges will run through the end of June. If you'd prefer to do May's, feel free. Please let me know when you respond to a Challenge so I can read and review. I will also be linking them on my LJ in the future!

A Bardic Tale

Chapter 10: Mac...The Scottish Play

"Do we go after her, Doc?" Jack asked.

"Not yet. Have to get John to stop computing the value of pi over here first, and then dismantle this monstrosity of hers."

"I can handle that," Jack replied. Grinning, he brought one large, booted foot down hard on the fuel cell kit that was powering the thing. It broke apart, leaving a large puddle on the floor. The computer stopped working, which was a shame really, because it would have been interesting to watch the thing go up in sparks.

"John, stop," the Doctor said. John kept working. "Worth a try," the Doctor said with a sigh, raking his fingers through his hair and looking completely lost. "It worked on Bill."

"Because you were the first to give him orders, I think," Jack said ruefully. "John's answering to the Queen of the Damned. Although…" As the thought came to him, Jack grinned. "John, stop."

"Your pheromones," the Doctor observed as John lifted the chalk from the board and set down the eraser.

"If we get him away from it, will he recover?"

"I'd have to synthesize an antidote, actually, at least for those who've been directly dosed." The Doctor looked around frantically. "Pheromones, pheromones. Chemicals bonded to pheromones… break down the chemical bond. Adjust the pheromone level, no, more pheromones just bond to more chemicals. Erm... how about the chemical, can I interfere with it?" The Time Lord jerked his hands through his hair, tugged at it and, as near as Jack could tell, had a small tantrum at everything.

John flinched. Jack frowned at this and sniffed the air, realizing that the scents of ozone and rain had appeared alongside his own heady fragrance.

"Doc," Jack called, "I really hate to interrupt your moment of devotion to your alien gods or whatever, but I think we might have a bigger problem." The Doctor glowered at Jack fiercely. "No, seriously. Antoinette's not easily upset. I realize she just ran away from the Oncoming Glower, but I can't help wondering if she wasn't just going for back-up. There are displaced Time Agents involved, after all."

"I can't deal with them with John vulnerable," the Doctor snapped. "Not helping here, Jack."

Jack grinned. "You said his body's still adjusting to being human. So some things, completely at random, are still Time Lord."

"Not exactly," the Doctor said. "I don't dare use telepathy on him, if that's what you're suggesting. It's too risky, especially if he still has some remnant of Time Lord telepathic acuity. I've never been good with temptation..."

"I wasn't thinking of telepathy, actually," Jack interrupted. "I was thinking more biological than mental. What his body does."

"It's complicated." The Doctor looked around the room as if looking for an example and finally nodded. "He still has Time Lord reflexes to some extent, obviously. At least, he's as fast as you, to have taken down two people with heavier builds in an enclosed space, with no hand-to-hand training aside from muscle memory. He's got to be. Why?"

"If we take him out of here and expose him to a different set of biochemicals, would that break the drug control?"

"It might... if he was conditioned by them before. Given his nature, I can't even begin to guess at what he would react to and... Jack, I do not like that look on your face."

Jack's grin only got broader as he explained his theory to the Time Lord. The Doctor's expression went from annoyed, across the spectrum of ill, disgusted, revolted, and all the way to completely murderous. "Well?" Jack asked.

"You are a warped and twisted, sick and perverted human being, Jack Harkness."

"Will it work?" Jack insisted.

The Doctor gave a shrug, then the tiniest of nods, then a shrug again. Then, Jack supposed it was in case he'd missed something, the Doctor added, "I hate everything."

Donna and Portia peered through the back window of Portia's house. "If this doesn't work, if he gets killed, the Doctor's gonna kill me," Donna muttered.

Portia smiled her impish little smile. "We have the good gods on our side, Donna. It has to work."

OK, so that was one way to look at it. Donna ruffled the child's hair affectionately. "If something bad happens, I want you to run. All the way back to the blue box temple. Can you do that? Wait there for the Doctor and Jack and tell them, please."

Portia nodded solemnly, but her dark eyes were dancing. "You have to believe, Donna," she added.

Donna smiled. "Must be nice to be so certain," she said gently.

"It is the day of the wolf," Portia explained. "The friends of the wolf cannot fail."

There was a sudden commotion inside the house as the door opposite the window opened, and Bill Shakespeare strode in as if he owned the place. The three men already in the house jumped to their feet, reaching for weapons. "Hello," said Bill, cheerfully. "I'm the Doctor. And I wouldn't do that if I were you."

Donna dropped her head in her hands and groaned.

The two men standing against the wall were still completely blank of face and feature. Jack sighed. At least they were away from the house. The new one had tried to stop them from leaving, apparently on Morton's orders, but a quick word from Jack had stopped that man in his tracks. "Roman," Jack decided, studying the man's clothes. "Might be Portia's father, actually. Wonder if I can get him to tell me where the rest of his family is?"

The Doctor rolled his eyes. "Let's worry about John, first." He stared at his ginger-haired counterpart. "This is ridiculous," he grumbled.

"Blinovitch doesn't apply to you, Doc," said Jack. "Bet you've done it before."

The Doctor rolled his eyes again. "Humans. Is that all you think about?"

Jack chuckled. "That wasn't a denial," he said, his tone teasing and accusing at once.

The Doctor shrugged. "I sometimes wonder how your species ever managed to do anything the least bit productive, never mind to spawn a civilization that survives to the end of time."

"That's probably you, somehow," Jack said. "Every time we should have died in the dry dark, along comes the Doctor and rescues us from ignominy. Just admit it. You love us, really."

The Doctor couldn't resist a small smile, then shook his head as Jack started to grin at him. "Some of you," the Doctor admitted. "Maybe not you, though, Harkness."

"That's a maybe, though," Jack said. "There's hope for me yet."

The banter was ridiculous. The Doctor shook his head, chuckling ruefully. This was why he enjoyed having Jack around, though he'd never admit it. Jack loved to play. No matter how serious the situation, given an opportunity, Jack would find a way to add playfulness and something light-hearted and humorous. He sometimes wondered, though they never talked about it, if Jack knew the Doctor never would have survived the Valiant if not for Jack.

"Look, Doc, it's either this, or get as mad as you possibly can and hit him. I'm not trying to tell you how to make friends and influence people, but I'm pretty sure breaking bones wasn't in the book."

The Doctor rolled his eyes and decided to take the flippant comments in the spirit they were intended. Jack would be the next to the last person that he would tell he'd never hurt John. Neither of them needed to think about that. "Take your new friend around the corner, let me sort John out."

"I wanted to watch," Jack complained.

The Doctor grinned. "I'm sure you did," he agreed. He also didn't point out what they both knew on this subject, just shrugged. "Suit yourself."

He walked over to John, hesitant, not certain Jack's idea would work. It was disturbing and embarrassing. Then again, it wasn't like that wasn't one of the things that happened to him, these days. He ended up in exactly this situation with everyone, everyone but... He shrugged and looked at Jack, dubiously. Jack nodded and made a gesture for him to get on with it.

He wouldn't think about it, the Doctor decided. If he did, it would break him.

"You've no idea what you do here," Bill said, "but the error you make is grave indeed. You need to stop, and I've come to at least give you one warning. Stop, now, or I shall be forced to stop you."

Donna decided then and there that Bill had seen the Doctor in action at least once. He'd stolen the room. The men inside couldn't even reach for their space guns, they were too caught up in staring at Bill in fascination. He had his own presence, his own charisma, and he'd used it to duplicate the sense of power that always came with the Doctor. It was something she'd seen the Doctor do before, just stand there, by himself, and somehow manage to make it bloody obvious that he brought the storm in full thunder in his wake.

And William Shakespeare was pretending to be him, and doing a shockingly good job at it. Even if he used older words the Doctor wouldn't have used probably, and even though he'd affected more of a Scottish accent than that peculiar South London the Doctor usually had, he had the Doctor's trick of speech down. The rhythm and cadence, the breathless pace of it, the way it rose and fell over words, that was all perfect.

"Who are you?" the largest of the men demanded. Donna decided to name him Hulk because he looked like one, only missing the green paint.

"I am the Doctor, as I've said," Bill replied. "I've always wondered why it is that humans with weapons fail to listen. Is it something trained into you? Perhaps it's the result of a deficiency in your diet. Maybe it comes to you from birth - I've never considered that before, but it makes sense. If you have this inability to listen when you're born, you become a human with a weapon. Yes, I think that would explain a great deal..."

Donna stifled a laugh behind her hand. The Doctor would be mortally offended, probably, but that bit was classic Doctor.

"Doctor who?" the next largest man in the room demanded. Donna decided to call him Weed. Again, he wasn't green, but the description suited none the less.

Shakespeare glared at them. "I don't interrupt when you're talking," he chastised rudely and Donna grinned even wider. "I expect to be heard and attended to when I am speaking, and if you cannot, best to stop your ears. However, if you must know, I'm a Time Lord. And I'm telling you to cease this at once."

Weed looked at Hulk and they all three broke out laughing. "There's no such thing as Time Lords," Weed announced.

"Suit yourselves," said Shakespeare, completely flip, like the Doctor. "Do you need this?" he added, and snatched something off the table near to his hand.

The shortest one, whom Donna had decided just to call Green, to keep with the theme, grabbed his gun and took a shot at Bill. Bill ducked and darted out the door. Then, he stuck his head back around the door, shouted, "Catch me if you can!" and was gone.

"Don't just stand there!" shouted Weed, snatching up his gun. "After him!"

"Please don't hate me later," the Doctor said, leaned forward, and planted his lips over the frozen lips of his red-headed double.

Jack grinned, admiring the view. It really was quite lovely. The Doctor had to ramp up his own pheromones for this to actually work, and Jack distracted himself from the Doctor suddenly exuding sex appeal by planning the jokes he would make later. He was pretty sure he could have a lot of fun, teasing John if not the Doctor.

It took a few moments for the human to respond to the Time Lord's advances, but it was still surprisingly fast. Jack preened at the knowledge that he'd been right. John could still sense the Doctor, on some level. Identical hands shot up into the Doctor's hair and there was a low groan from one of them. Their bodies moved in perfect tandem, pressing closer together, the brown suit an attractive contrast against the white of John's toga and tunic.

The kiss got quite heated, if Jack was anyone to judge (and if there was any better judge, Jack had yet to meet him). They seemed to be battling for dominance, faces shifting, tongues tangling, the Doctor's hands slipping down from John's face to clutch at his shoulders. What must it feel like, to be practically kissing yourself?

When the Doctor pulled away from the kiss, John's eyes were closed, and he leaned back toward the Doctor again. The Doctor didn't seem to be able to resist it, and planted a much more chaste kiss on John's lips. John's eyes flew open and he stared at the Doctor, golden-green eyes alight with something like wonder.

"Welcome back," the Doctor murmured.

John blinked twice, his hands shaking as he lowered them to mirror the Doctor's. He stared at the Time Lord and his mouth opened, but no words came out. Jack chuckled quietly and resisted the urge to go interrupt.

"Better now?" the Doctor asked.

John blinked again, and then, to Jack's utter hilarity, he snapped, "Oi, spaceman, what was that for?"

The Doctor let go of John and rolled his eyes. "Yep," the Doctor said, stroking a hand up through the absolute chaos John had made of his brown hair, "all better."

John leaned back against the wall, looking utterly baffled and disturbed. He also appeared to be trying to find out where the pockets were in his outfit.

"Right," said the Doctor, as if nothing had happened, "we need to go fetch Donna and Shakespeare and see if we can't sort this out."

"Donna?" John asked, jumping away from the wall, suddenly all business. "Is she all right? Where is she?"

"She's fine," the Doctor said. "I sent her and Shakespeare back to the TARDIS."

Bill Shakespeare picked that exact moment to charge by them, a pack of Time Agents on his heels.

Donna Noble sat down in front of the futuristic computer and looked for the mouse. There didn't seem to be one, but she touched the pad where the mouse would be and the computer screen responded. Grinning, Donna set to work, opening up everything on the desktop at once and glancing at each file as it came up. Surely there had to be something referring to 44 BC, or Julius Ceasar, or Romans, or Earth History, something. "Don't touch anything, Portia," Donna said to the child who was peering with interest at the objects that had been added since she last left her house.

Portia turned to her and tucked her small hands behind her back. "I'll be careful," she promised.

Donna smiled and went back to digging through the files. She kept a wary eye on the door for several minutes, but when she was reasonably certain that Bill's ruse had worked, she turned all the attention to the computer in front of her.

That was where she made her mistake, that and forgetting that people kept teleporting into this house. She'd just found the file she needed - something about experimental implementation of pocket dimensions - when there was the sound of a footstep nearby. "Portia," she said, sharply, "I told you to..." Donna looked up.

There was a woman with a gun staring down at her, and a slow smile was spreading across the woman's face as she clutched Portia tight against her with the hand not holding the gun. "Step away from the machine slowly, please, dear," the woman said.

Donna, completely furious, did as she was told.

"Stay here," Jack ordered the man they'd found in the house. "Don't move."

Jack, John, and the Doctor thundered down the street after Shakespeare and his sudden escort.