A/N: Hello new readers, greetings to old. I'm just putting this here to say that I am just doing an edit of this story, so if the formatting suddenly changes, you'll know why. As a note, this story is a sort-of prelude to the rest of my stories.
Disclaimer: I don't own Doctor Who...and wishing on falling stars isn't helping me get any closer to that goal.
CHAPTER 1: OLD WOUNDS
The TARDIS hurtled through the scintillating vortex, dancing across the rivers of space and time.
Inside the craft, all was calm, the centre console humming loudly. The Doctor was hunched over the console, fiddling with switches and buttons. Standing up straight, he ran his fingers through his messy hair. Staring at the wires protruding from beneath the console, he had a sudden idea. He quickly pulled his sonic screwdriver out of his coat, and set to work on the main computer of the TARDIS.
Captain Jack Harkness yawned as he entered the main room of the Time Lord ship. He rubbed his eyes wearily, and made his way across the floor, carefully stepping over the cords that littered the floor. An odd sight confronted him; one that his sleepy mind couldn't make sense of. Two long skinny legs were poking out from underneath the main console, and a strange noise was coming from their direction. Jack frowned, trying to put the pieces together. Those legs could be an alien creature that spoke with horrible keening noises? Jack shook his head. The Doctor would have told him about this.
"Doctor?" Jack asked slowly, walking forward.
The noises stopped, and the legs turned out to a lanky man wearing a pinstripe suit, who extracted himself from the TARDIS computer. "Morning Jack," he Doctor said cheerily, grabbing his coat from where it lay, draped over the stairs that led down to the door. "Good sleep?"
"Yep. What were you doing down there anyway?" Jack queried, moving towards the console.
"Oh, you know. Recalibrating the Central –" the Doctor began, but Jack cut him off.
"Not that. The other thing."
"Ah . . . I was singing."
"Singing," Jack repeated, "Sounded like a cat dying."
The Doctor grinned. "Well, there is actually a race from the planet Rushna that speaks like a -"
"No lectures. Not this early in the morning at least," Jack insisted, fiddling with some controls on the TARDIS console. The Doctor stopped speaking but the grin stayed on his face. He began to set their destination, when Jack stopped him. "Where are we going anyway?" the Captain asked.
"I thought we could go to Salideen. I heard they had some kind of alien overlord problem. Then we could stop off at -"
"No. Bad plan," said Jack, clearing the co-ordinates.
The Doctor looked crestfallen. "Oh."
"I know what we should do," Jack continued, moving around to the other side of the console. "I think we should go somewhere nice and danger free. Go on a holiday."
"Really?" The Doctor stood still for a moment, then smiled wildly. "I know just the place!"
"I have a bad feeling about this," Jack said cautiously.
"No - you'll love it," the Doctor said, punching in the new co-ordinates. He slammed a button, and the TARDIS hurled itself through the time vortex.
The Doctor locked the TARDIS, while Jack had a quick look around. The Doctor's ship had materialised in a small grassy park. Large skyscrapers, with curved sides and pointed tops, surrounded the open area. There was a low building, seemingly made of steel, only a few hundred metres off to their left. The Doctor clapped Jack on the shoulder, and pointed at the small building. Jack looked at him. "This place looks like fun," he said. "I need a break from saving the universe."
The Doctor smiled, and said, "Yep. Some spelunking will be good for us."
"Spelunking?" Jack asked, but the Doctor was already walking off, humming a merry tune.
Jack smiled and shook his head. Then, he shouted, "I'll race ya there!" The Doctor paused to reply, but Captain Jack had already sped past him. "Last one there has to pay!"
"As usual," the Doctor said to himself, but he began running anyway.
Jack was leaning against the wall of the building, whistling happily, when the Doctor caught up, panting heavily. "What took you so long," Jack laughed, slapping the Time Lord on the back.
"I went easy on you," the Doctor replied. "I know you can't stand losing."
Jack frowned, then smiled widely. "You know me too well," he said, a grin on his face.
The Doctor smirked and opened the door to the building."Ladies first," he said, gesturing for Jack to enter.
"Ah Doctor. You are so kind," Jack replied. He entered the building, his eyes adjusting to the dim light. The door snapped shut, and the Doctor moved past him, towards what seemed to be a counter. Jack walked forward, glancing at the dusty displays and souvenirs for sale. This place was definitely aimed at tourists. The Doctor will love this place, Jack thought, grinning to himself. The Doctor rapped on the desk, and Jack tore his gaze away from the display on cave systems he was looking at. He walked up next to the Doctor, just as the Time Lord pushed a buzzer. There was no noise, but within a few seconds a door opened and a lady walked out, taking up her spot behind the counter.
"Welcome to the Crusader caves. How may I help you?" she asked pleasantly. The Doctor didn't reply, and Jack glanced at him, about to say something generally patronising. He snapped his mouth shut when he saw the faraway look on the Time Lord's face. His mind was somewhere else, remembering past experiences. The Doctor shivered, and Jack decided it was a prudent time to elbow him in the ribs. The Doctor jumped.
"Huh?" he said. Jack nodded towards the lady, who was smiling half-heartedly.
"Ummm ... yes," the Doctor said. "When is your next trip?" The lady turned, and tapped a few keys on a computer that was hidden from view.
"In twenty minutes," she answered, turning back to the Doctor. "We actually have two spots left."
Jack smiled as he said, "We'll take 'em." The Doctor glared at him, but said nothing. The lady behind the desk produced some papers.
"If you would sign your name here," she said, offering a pen. Jack took it, and scrawled his name on the line. The Doctor retrieved a pen from his coat pocket, and carefully wrote his name on the line. The lady smiled, and replaced the paper and her pen in a draw in the counter.
"Please go through that door," she instructed, pointing to her right. "The rest of the group is waiting." The Doctor didn't move and Jack had to bodily drag him out of the room.
"What is with you," he hissed as he closed the door. The Doctor looked genuinely frightened. Then he took a deep breath, and was back to his normal happy self.
"Remind me to tell you about it sometime," he said, grinning weakly. "One of my worst experiences." Jack breathed deeply. If the Doctor was scared, it had to have been something really bad. Then Jack looked up sharply. The Doctor was singing, and had managed to catch the attention of the other people in the room. Jack descended the short flight of stairs, the Doctor following him. There were seven people in the room, and all of them were watching the newcomers with interest. Jack stamped on the Doctor's foot. The Time Lord coughed mid-chorus, and Jack smiled sweetly at the occupants of the room. One of them stepped forward, a forced smile on his face.
"And who are you?" he asked, contempt barely masked in his voice.
"The last two members of the group," the Doctor replied as Jack glared at the man. He was wearing a blue coverall, with various pockets and pouches all over it. An orange helmet was jammed under his arm, a forward facing light attached above the small rim.
"I suppose we should start then," the man said, counting heads. "We're all here now. I'm Tom, and I'll be your guide for today. We'll get suited up, and I'll go over the safety procedures." He turned to a row of lockers along the left wall, fitted a small key to a lock, and turned. He frowned. "Excuse me a moment. I seem to have grabbed the wrong key," he said, and left the room.
The Doctor and Jack sat down on a bench. The other people in the room had gone back to their conversations, and Jack turned and looked intently at the Doctor, who had started humming.
"What was your problem before?" the Captain asked, not blinking. The Doctor stopped humming and looked away.
"I wonder when that Tom fella is going to come back," he said airily.
"Doctor, you're avoiding the question," Jack said warningly. The Doctor turned and stared at him, and Jack realised just how alien the man sitting before him was. Jack tore his gaze away, before he was lost in the Time Lord's eyes, which had become deep pits of sadness. There was a long silence before the Doctor spoke.
"I was on the planet Midnight, on a Crusader ship. It broke down and -" The Doctor paused. "Oh, I can't wait any longer!" The Doctor stood and pulled his sonic screwdriver out of one of his coat pockets. Marching over to the lockers, he held his screwdriver at arm's length. He pressed a button, and it hummed and emitted a blue glow. The Doctor released the button, and the door clicked open. Pocketing the screwdriver, the Time Lord gave the captain from Cardiff a smug smile. Jack frowned. The Doctor hadn't heard the last from him, but had avoided his questioning for now. Jack turned, and saw Tom had re-entered the room, an indignant on his face. He was staring at the Doctor, who was rummaging energetically through the locker he had opened, a helmet placed loosely on his head. Tom cleared his throat, and the Doctor looked around, surprise clearly shown on his face.
"What are you doing?" Tom said loudly, almost shouting.
"Well..." the Doctor replied slowly, as if considering his answer.
"How did you open that door!" Tom growled, pointing at the locker.
The Doctor rubbed the back of his neck. "You just smack the frame in the right way, and it pops open..."
"Sure it did. Why do I not believe you?" Tom advanced towards the Doctor, his face in an aggressive sneer.
Jack planted himself between the two.
"Friends -" he began, but stopped when he saw the looks Tom and the Doctor were giving him. He took a step back.
"Who are you anyway?" Tom shouted at the Doctor, who took a step forward, no emotion showing on his face.
"John Smith," the seemingly young man said tonelessly.
"John Smith! The John Smith from five years ago!" Tom roared, prodding the Doctor forcefully in the chest.
"What happened five years ago?" Jack inquired from the side of the argument, a suspicion forming in his mind. Tom glared at him, but started talking anyway.
"Planet Midnight ring any bells?" The Doctor's eyes flicked to Jack for only a moment, but he saw all he needed to know. Jack had an intent look on his face, and he gave the Doctor a wink that said he was listening very closely.
"Owned by the Crusader company wasn't it?" said the Time Lord, his face an expressionless mask.
"Yes," Tom snapped. "Until an incident branded the planet unsafe. An incident that happened while you were there."
"I had nothing to do with that. It was an accident," the Doctor insisted, the slightest hint of anger in his voice.
"An accident? Bollux," Tom spat. "Just waltzed up on the day, bought a ticket and the ship breaks down, causing four deaths. Tell me that is an accident."
The Doctor's face twisted with rage. He roared something unintelligible, and leapt at Tom, forcing him to the floor. "I nearly died!" the Time Lord shouted, throwing his fist into Tom's face. He swung back for another hit, when he was lifted into the air. He kicked and struggled, attempting to break free of the grasp.
"Doctor ..." Jack whispered in his ear.
"Don't Doctor me, Heartless," the Doctor growled, but he stopped trying to break free. Tom was helped to his feet by a lady wearing the same coveralls he was.
"Calm down man," said Jack, still whispering. He released the Doctor, who turned and glared at him.
"You don't understand Jack. He said I caused the deaths. You know I couldn't kill anyone," he said, losing his anger. He sank down to the floor, his head in his hands. "One of those deaths could have been me." Jack crouched down next to him.
"You would have regenerated," Jack said quietly.
"No. Not that time. There's only so much I can survive."
Jack looked up, and saw the rest of the people in the room staring at them. He smiled, but no one returned the gesture. Tom started to step forward, but the lady who helped him up whispered something in his ear, and he stopped. Instead, the lady began to speak.
"I'm Lora, the other guide. I heard the shouting. What's going on?" When the Doctor didn't say anything, Jack stood up and took charge of the situation.
"I'm sorry we caused trouble, but your friend Tom," Jack said, pointing at the guide, "He assaulted my friend, down here." Harkness gestured at the Doctor. Lora gave the Time Lord a hard look, then glanced at Tom.
"Tom assaulted him?" she said, raising an eyebrow. "He doesn't look injured."
"Trust me," Jack said sweetly. "Psychological injuries hurt." Lora glared. Jack sighed, and took her by the arm.
"His name's John Smith. He was involved with something on planet Midnight," Jack whispered in her ear.
She gasped quietly. "Midnight huh? That would explain Tom's mood." Lora lapsed into silence.
Jack frowned as he said, "Maybe we could leave. We wouldn't want to upset anyone."
Lora shook her head. "No, don't leave. Tom needs to learn how to put up with this kind of thing."
Jack grinned. "I'll convince my friend it's a good idea to come," he said seriously, the expression on his face contradicting his tone. Lora nodded and moved off, but her eyes never left his progress across the room. Jack crouched down next to the Doctor, who hadn't moved from his previous position.
"Doctor," Jack began, clasping the Time Lord on the shoulder. "Up you hop. Time to go." The Doctor stood up with a heavy sigh.
"Yeah, we should leave."
Jack leapt up and shook his head. "No Doctor!" he exclaimed. "We've paid for it now. We should keep going. It's not like you to give up."
The Doctor laughed, a strangely reassuring sound. "You know me too well Jack," he said, imitating the Captain's accent. He smiled heartily, and Jack found himself grinning as well. "Come on Harkness. We have a holiday to enjoy."