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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 visit my Profile Page for the Challenges of the Month. This month's April Challenges have been added because I finally found my round tuit. The new challenges will run through the end of April. 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/N: The Enigma Variations was a piece of music based around a single, unknown, theme. Likewise, this collection of stories have the same theme, and each story is based closely on a song. The difference is that you know the theme; what you don't know is the song. The stories can come from anywhere, have any rating, any characters, any adventure. Feel free to try to guess the song; I'll be glad to tell you if you get it. Clues are embedded in the work. Also, feel free to suggest songs. I'll be glad to try them and see what happens.

Story 3: Beyond Repair

Characters: The Doctor and his past

Other Works: "Jack and Giles"

Time Line: The distant future

Rated: All Ages

Disclaimer: As per usual, I still do not own Doctor Who. Yet.

"Wait here," the Doctor thought about saying. He ruffled Giles' hair and knew damn well that was about as likely as ever getting the boy to stop calling him by that annoying nickname. He decided to try reverse psychology on Giles, because he'd always wondered if it would work. "Feel free to get into as much trouble as you possibly can," he said. "Break things, steal things, get kidnapped by aliens, whatever suits your fancy. And don't forget to wander off."

Giles made a face at him. "I'll probably get kidnapped by aliens whether I like it or not, Jack. Go on, do whatever you need to do. Just don't highjack the train, you'll scare the normal people."

"Don't worry," the Doctor said. "I've got a plan."

Giles rolled his eyes and tugged at his brown curls. "Now, I'm scared," he said, bluntly.

The Doctor grinned. "Catch you later," he said and, with an extra bounce on his flashy sneakers, he left his companion to, hopefully, sit very still and wait for him.

He stopped at the door between the cars, staring briefly at his reflection. He would probably never get used to this. He'd had bodies before where he doubted it, but they grew on him, mostly. This one, though...

When he'd woken up, ginger at last, in the body he expected would be his next to last, he'd actually screamed when he saw his reflection. He looked about fourteen, and that was stretching it. More like eleven, if he was feeling especially petulant.

The TARDIS had wanted to dress him in school boy's clothes, taking great pride and mechanical hilarity in presenting him with a tiny suit with knickerbockers. He'd conceded to kid's shoes - they were cool, with flashy lights in them. For the rest, he wore black cargo pants from the twenty-first century on Earth, and had reverted all the way back to Nine with his tendency to wear dark colored jumpers, although for some reason, he wore light turtle neck shirts under them. He wore a long, dark great coat, which amused him, because if Giles had ever met the real Jack, the Doctor really would never get rid of the nickname.

His face, the most alarming thing about this incarnation, was fair and delicate enough that he could have just as easily put on a dress from the right time frame, and probably no one would have been the wiser. For that reason, he kept his hair too short to make it feasible - high and tight, a decidedly military cut, but with the top left long enough to be a bit curly.

All in all, he was reasonably certain this was a ridiculous solution to the intractable problem that seemed to crop up from time to time. Still, it was one way to do something completely different from before, so in a way, his life was brilliant.

He bounded through the cars, grinning like an idiot, as he continued on his mission to go back and fix any temporal glitches he'd left behind. He simply forgot, right up until he bounded straight into her, that she would be here as well.

She smiled down at him, and he couldn't believe he'd forgotten how her eyes could stop a heart (or two, for those with more than one). As always, her face was like an angel's, pure and perfect, so very young, but ageless. Her hands reached carefully to catch him, and he fell back, landing squarely on his arse.

She was too kind to laugh, of course, although her tall, normally brooding companion had to stifle a broad grin at his predicament. He'd fallen over his own shoelaces, of course, and gotten a bit tangled in his coat.

She knelt to help him up and he forced himself to neither flinch nor throw himself into her arms. She was here, with him, and he wouldn't understand. If he got suspicious, things could get very strange. Instead of fixing one tiny paradox, he could end up generating six dozen.

Nevertheless, the Doctor made one tiny mistake as she looked him over for injury, obviously believing him to be just a random hyperactive kid (or possibly a drugged one, with the way he was smiling so dazedly at her). He looked up and met her eyes. Dark to gold and then the light caught hers and they went golden as well, and he was lost, so lost, but he never wanted to be found again, so what did it matter.

... and I never told you, I couldn't say, I never said, I should have said, you needed just once to hear it, and if I ever fooled myself about anything, it was you. You're beautiful, you were always beautiful, I told you once and then I lied and you didn't know. So long since I touched you, so long since I held you, so long since I kissed you, yes I kissed you, you wouldn't remember...

Thought became dream became memory became deed and all at once they were together, far away, in some forever that never existed, holding on, touching, being. Hand in hand and face to ever-changing face, an endless dance with steps that had never been taken to notes that had never been played. A mantra that had been his constant prayer and regret for more than half his life thundered inside his head as they swayed together under stars that had never burned, across grass that had never sprouted.

...say it, say it now, just once, say it, Doctor...

He took a deep breath and looked away from that single, shared non-moment that would survive even him. She flinched and blinked, and then helped him to his feet, staring at him with considerable awe. He could see from her expression that she was completely confused. Even if she knew, she wouldn't know yet how it was possible.

She broke the silence. "Sorry. Are you all right?"

"Yeah, fine," he said. "Sorry I ran into you. I'll just... erm... Thanks." He turned to take off running again, stopped, turned back. "You're beautiful," he said. "I l... you're beautiful."

Her companion stepped up to her side then, sternly, hands folded across his chest. The blazing blue eyes were completely understanding, the sympathy in them almost overshadowing the rage that only the girl could temper. He glared defensively down at the Doctor and the Doctor shot him a cheeky wink. "And you're an idiot," he added, because he knew, completely, how absolutely true that statement was, how utterly indisputable.

The tall man took a step toward him, and the Doctor pivoted on his heel and darted into the next car.

A moment later, while he was looking for the paradox, he heard footsteps behind him. He looked up and saw her behind him, her dark shadow looming just inside the doorway, and smiled. "Yes?"

"Who are you?" she asked.

"I'm..." He ran a hand over his face. "I'm Jack," he lied. Then he winked. "Jack Tyler."

He snatched up the paradoxical device and charged past them. On his way by, he stuffed it into the dark man's coat pocket, where it would go unnoticed until it was needed to save her life.

He slowed to a walk when he knew they weren't following. Maybe he'd made a montage wreck of the time lines. Who knew? Maybe tomorrow morning, he would wake up in a different body, one he'd never had. A smile spread across his face. Maybe he would wake up beside her and the Universe could go hang itself.

As he arrived back in the first car, he shook his head. The events that had just transpired were settling back into his memory now, and the results thereof as well. Nothing. No change, not even the slightest difference. Her guardian angel there still imagined her too young, and later he would see her dead every time he looked at her, and now he was a teenage boy to her, a young child whose face promised attractiveness only when grown. Nothing would ever change it, nothing, not at all, ever.

He shook his head and pushed it away. Giles was actually waiting for him, for once, possibly because the - he hated to think it this way, but what choice did he have - the "other boy" couldn't find any trouble even he could get into on a train. "Next stop's ours," the Doctor told him, and reached out to snatch Giles' hand, even though he knew the boy hated it. Basically, it was all the pay back he had for the irritating nickname and Giles' tendency to mysteriously con people out of their stuff.

However, this time, Giles just took one look at his face and let him hold on. The Doctor smiled a little, or tried to, but couldn't quite manage it.

"I'm sorry," Giles said.

"It's fine," the Doctor lied. "Honest."

"All right, Jack," said Giles, with a sigh. "But I think you should know you only say that when you're lying."

"Couldja maybe stop that?" the Doctor asked.

"Eh," Giles said, as the train pulled up to the station. "Maybe," he agreed, and they got off.

The Doctor led his companion away, but not before he'd caught one last glimpse of her, him, them, laughing and walking away together, hand in hand. Giles fidgeted, but the Doctor dropped his hand and ignored him until they were gone. He stopped to watch them until they disappeared, out of sight and into the fathomless vaults of his memory. Then he turned back toward the TARDIS, back to trying to patch up his holes and find Giles' father.

This was why Time Lords didn't do this - because once they did, it never went away. It hovered over their lives, however long, however endless they might be, haunted by the memory of paths chosen and steps not taken, haunted forever. So for the rest of eternity, or until he managed to get himself killed a couple more times, he would always think of this, always miss this, always imagine this. He would always want to be with her.

He'd tried to put it aside, had planned and changed and tricked and manipulated and sacrificed. He'd kept her close but not too close and instead of holding it all at bay, it had made it something that could never be pushed behind or forgotten. He was the Doctor and everything he did was a two edged sword, except this. For her and forever, his love was pure.

But the truth was simple and plain and bitter, the same absolute truth known by the man in the leather coat who walked away with her, the man on the beach who succeeded him, the man in between them, and the man to follow. In many ways, it had become the only fact in his entire life now, and he might as well, as they all had done, face the truth.

He would never be with her.