Hey guys! I've gotta say, I'm so, so sorry that this chapter took so long to get out. I've been so busy lately I haven't had the chance to do anything I've wanted to do (and even needed to do) which kind of meant that I haven't had the chance to work on this story for quite a while. It's been bugging me, but now it's updated so I hope that this chapter will make up for the delay – it's a very long chapter, and this is coming from me.
Again, very sorry!
If you've forgotten what happened in the first chapter, I strongly suggest you go back and read that first, because this story has a lot of plot and it's very intricate so understanding it is essential. And hopefully, it's ok.
Oh, and I'm going with the belief that Rose doesn't know everything about what happened with her as Bad Wolf – I'm going with the idea that the Doctor hasn't told her (even though that may be debated).
And on, oh lovely readers!
It was beautiful.
It wasn't about bright displays of colours or majestic spirals. The TARDIS doors had opened to a picture perfect view of the Sombrero Galaxy. It wasn't colourful, like some of them Rose had seen, but it was stunning all the same.
A brown disk, speckled with light stars of its own, hovered around the centre of the galaxy, a bright orb, and if Rose looked closely, it looked almost as if the orb was pulsing with life. The galaxy wasn't a spiral one; it was just a normal old oval shape.
It was beautiful.
She said as much to the Doctor, and he grinned in response. "I know!"
She glanced at the wondrous sight again, temporarily speechless. Some might have called the sight 'plain' compared to other things out there. She wasn't 'some'. Not by a long shot. The entire universe was beautiful, each individual thing in its own unique way. Too bad not everyone could understand that. She cuddled into his side, wrapping her arms around him. "Thankyou."
The Doctor beamed and extricated himself. "But there's more, Rose!"
He ran out of the TARDIS' open doors, ignorant of Rose's shout and her hand desperately grabbing at empty space. A second of horror. No! Don't go out there! She stared at him in shock.
The Doctor was bouncing happily around the outside of the TARDIS, each footfall of his coming into contact with the force shield she could remember from when his previous incarnation had arrived with Jack to rescue her from the Dalek emperor.
The Doctor and Jack had managed to connect the Tribo-thing to the TARDIS before, and it had been powerful enough to negate a Dalek's weapon. Stupidly, Rose realised, she had considered the force field to be a dome, but as the Doctor pranced around on top of nothing but black space, she become conscious of the fact that it wasn't domed; it encompassed the entire of the TARDIS. She should've realised that before. After all, otherwise the dalek weaponry would've at least damaged the TARDIS when it was fired on while in space.
The Doctor spun around. "C'mon Rose! Surprise!"
Tentatively, she dipped her foot down past the TARDIS floors and onto empty space, similar to how one would test the temperature of water before hopping in. Her foot touched the soft, almost pliable surface of the force field as it shimmered green around where she'd stepped. She moved her other foot out of the TARDIS and brought it down on space, adrenalin going into overdrive for a nanosecond as the shield didn't seem to meet her foot.
But then it did.
And she took another step, and another, each one prompting the powerful burst of adrenalin, making her realise that this was almost a galactic form of the magnificence of a roller coaster. She laughed in delight, and began to jump around, gleefully excited, because she was almost literally walking on stars. It was brilliant. Every time she took a step, she had the strangest sensation that she was just going to fall, and fall, and fall, but then her foot would hit the force shield and the sensation would cease.
It was brilliant!
Jumping was even better. Leaping to the stars, falling back to the stars. It was like she was intruding on eternity, and it might've scared her had she not already been used to such a thing. The blackness of space was eerie though; regardless of how many times she saw it, the sheer nothingness got to her every time. And now, the fact that she was actually standing on nothingness… she didn't even know how to explain it – but then, what words could explain what she'd done? Where she'd gone? What she'd seen?
There were no words. And that was the brilliance of the universe: no words were needed.
So she just bounded. Bounced happily around with the darkness surrounding her and the glimmer of stars dancing throughout the vision of the brightest orb in the centre, the galaxy that the Doctor had decided was a must-see. Where was he? She turned.
The Doctor must have gotten bored of jumping, and had flopped down, leaning on one elbow and watching her with a beaming grin on his face. His position made the lovely brown overcoat of his splay across the vast emptiness of the spread between the galaxies, with only small green ripples appearing fleetingly around it and him to show that he was atop the shield at all. "Don't let me stop you," the Doctor said as he noticed Rose approach.
Ignoring that comment, she sat down in front of the Doctor's chest and turned to face him. "Amazing," she said.
"I am indeed!" the Doctor replied with one of his cocky, boyish grins.
"Not you!" Rose rebutted happily. "This!"
"Oh, my," the Doctor sounded affronted, but Rose knew better. "I should hope you know that I am amazing."
"Who said that?" Rose feigned ignorance with amusement.
"Everyone!" the Doctor replied cheerfully.
With considerable effort, Rose held back her grin. It was a task, for sure – his face was alight with excitement and a smirk adorned his face. "I never said that," Rose told him, face revealing nothing.
The Doctor stared at her in such astonishment that Rose's stoic visage broke, and she gave a loud laugh. He gave a great sigh, shoulders drooping in relief for a second, before straightening once more and pointing a finger accusingly at Rose's silently laughing figure. "Don't do that!" he announced, offended. "How could you do that? So mean, Rose!"
She beamed at him, and was unable to hide the amusement in her eyes. "I'm learning well, then. I'll keep going! Alright, Doctor, you're –"
"I didn't finish!"
"But you don't know what I –"
"Ah, no-no-no-no-no. No more, Rose Tyler, my hearts will wither!"
There was a tense silence, where they both stared at each other with harsh eyes. Neither moved. A western, Rose mused... had the Doctor ever seen one? Yes, she guessed, because the Doctor was trying his hardest not to smile, but Rose could see the corners of his lips twitching. Rose was trying to control her own. Failing, too.
A second later, they broke into raucous laughter.
He entered his dwelling with a tired ache in his bones but a contented smile on his face. The work he had done today – there was no doubt he was proud of it. Perhaps, this would mean that finally he would be able to afford to do more. His art, lovely beautiful artwork, it was getting him higher and higher – and soon, maybe, his name would be spoken with awe of his work. His sculptures, he knew people loved them, and he just hoped that someday they would be revered throughout the world – the Buddhist statues, after all, were exceptionally priceless and undoubtedly needed throughout Japan.
He hoped so, anyway.
He placed his bag, which had been slung around his shoulder, onto the old table, and began to make his dinner. Dinner was an art too, he mused, as was everything, and so he took great care through all steps. Finishing, he looked at his food with delight. While it was not a perfectly created meal which some of his friends, those that cooked as their life work, could make, it was decent and it smelt good and it looked good.
He ate it as he moved from the main room to the room where his artwork resided. A thud startled him, causing him to drop the bowl with his food. Ignoring it for now, he re-entered the main room, only to see three foreign-looking men, a lighter brown than he was himself, and the brown looked like it was placed there by the sun.
Confused and slightly nervous, he nodded to them. "Konnichiwa," he tried, but when they didn't reply his theory was confirmed – they must be from another land. He could not speak other languages, nor could most anyone he knew, and so instead he tried to beckon them to go out, to leave his dwelling.
It did not work, they did not understand him, and his nervousness grew – with good reasoning too. Within moments, there was a flash of red. Then a dark, dark emptiness.
"And Jack hated it! He hated it!" Rose laughed. "That was a sight."
"The great Captain Harkness!" the Doctor agreed. "Reduced to cleaning the TARDIS! His expression, Rose Tyler, his expression –"
"Classic!" she finished. "Do you remember how he sulked for ages after? And how we made him get us all our food and stuff? I was like 'oh, the Captain's been demoted to tea boy!'"
"Oh, he hated it!" the Doctor was laughing now. "Those were the times!"
There was a short silence.
"Too bad he didn't want to stay with us. Would've been really good, and maybe things would've turned out so I didn't fall through the void," Rose said, remembering how the Doctor had told her – Jack's busy – and wondering if his presence would've changed things.
The Doctor didn't reply to that, and Rose looked up. He was the epitome of – guilt. What? Why would the Doctor look guilty about – unless...
"He did want to stay didn't he?" Rose realised. "He wanted to stay. You – you ditched him!"
The Doctor nodded. "Yeah, I did, but there was –"
"You ditched him!" Rose was reeling. All this time... for so long, and Jack Harkness was left, left in the remnants of Satellite Five? Left just when he was proving himself to be more than a con-man, more than a thief? "Why would you leave him behind?" she demanded furiously. "He didn't deserve that!"
"Because... Oh, Rose, because..." the Doctor slumped, suddenly looking very old and very tired. "He'd changed, Rose. He'd changed."
"Of course he changed!" Rose glared. "He used to be a con-man! He was changing!"
"No, you don't understand." The Doctor looked absolutely miserable. "I knew there was a chance you'd find out someday – knew that you'd find the truth. I didn't want you too, Rose, I really tried to hide it, but I only tried to hide it so you wouldn't worry, because you're incredible Rose Tyler, you really are, and I'm so, so sorry I haven't told you the truth –"
Rose had calmed while he ranted, calmed because she could see as easily as she could see the Sombrero Galaxy in front of her that something was wrong – there was something she didn't know about that day, long ago, on Satellite Five, saving the galaxy from the Daleks. She cupped one hand over his cheek, effectively quieting him. "Doctor," she said softly, "Just tell me. Please."
He looked at her, Time Lord to human. "Rose, Rose Tyler, you extraordinary human. You did it, you know? You saved the world. No, the universe. The whole of time and space, Rose, and you saved it. One human saved the past, present and future."
"But you said –"
The Doctor shushed her, and Rose could tell that he wanted to continue. "You didn't want to be left, Rose, but I sent you back: I couldn't bear to see you get hurt... and I knew it was over, knew I was going to fail. But I knew you were going to listen, that you were going to live a fantastic life."
"But I didn't listen to you," Rose remembered.
"You didn't listen to me," the Doctor agreed. "I underestimated you, Rose Tyler. I thought that me, this –" he gestured around him "– was just an adventure, like a holiday, a nice change, and then you'd go back to your original life and forget about me."
"Nobody forgets you," she said to him.
"Yeah," he sighed. "Sometimes that's a bad thing too; sometimes I think that it'd be –" he paused, suddenly unwilling to go on.
Rose smiled gently at him, understanding. The Doctor: if there was one thing anybody knew about him, it was that he very rarely ever talked. So, the moments like this, where he could talk; it was truth, everything that came out, all of it truth, and Rose knew that the Doctor couldn't stand it, couldn't continue for fear – of abandonment and everything. Which was why, when he stopped his tangent, she didn't push him.
"Anyway," the Doctor said, slightly brighter, facade back in place, "You found a way – I still haven't figured out how, the TARDIS won't tell me – to absorb the heart of the TARDIS. For a while there, Rose, you were like me. You could see the whole of everything. You created Bad Wolf. You were Bad Wolf. You manipulated time to create your own timeline, and you destroyed the Daleks. You turned every single Dalek into dust."
Everything must come to dust...
"Everything must come to dust," Rose repeated, eyes wide, as finally, some moments of that terrifying day came back to her.
Eyes strangely bright, the Doctor nodded. "That's right."
"So..." Rose paused, gathering her thoughts. "So... I killed the Daleks. Millions of 'em. And I... all of them?!"
"All of them," the Doctor confirmed. "Every last one. You ended the Time War. Something I was never able to achieve."
"You... never told me." Rose looked at his brown eyes.
"No, I never told you," he stated, without elaborating, and Rose knew that he'd probably talked about his true emotions more in the past few minutes than the past year.
"I'm Bad Wolf? All the signs, the ... the messages? That was me?"
"Yep," he popped the 'p'.
"I'd always wondered who was responsible for that," she mused. "And I'd wondered why you hadn't tried to find out."
"You are an observant one," the Doctor nodded to himself.
"But..." Rose stopped. "What's that got to do with Jack?"
The Doctor looked away, out towards the majestic galaxy in front of them. "Before you became Bad Wolf, Rose, Jack Harkness was killed. I didn't tell you... but I could feel it – I could feel his death. And when you became Bad Wolf, you could feel it too. And Rose, you brought him back to life."
Back to life... back to life... feel his death... back to life... oh, god!
She was speechless, opening and closing her mouth several times, trying to figure out what to say, and her eyes were moist, and burning... "He died. He died. Jack died? And I ... I brought him back?" Rose didn't know whether she should be amazed, or scared, at the power she held. She caught his eye.
"You brought him back Rose. But there's a catch. Now he can never die. He hovers close, sometimes, so close to death, but he never dies. He never will. He is fixed; a fixed point in time and space and it is wrong, it's so wrong. Eternity is a word for a reason Rose; it should never become a reality. Time is never fixed, never. It's a moving mass, a mass that's always shifting and changing and never stationary. Life is not true life Rose. The only thing that is truly alive is time – and Jack destroyed that. My point is Rose, I couldn't stand it. I'm a Time Lord. He didn't belong in the universe. And so... I ran." He broke off. Looked away.
Rose had felt her emotions bubbling and swirling, twisting and diving as he had explained everything, finally, the truth. The pain... she felt it. She felt it even though she knew it couldn't be there, but she felt his pain, and Jack's pain, and her own pain from that time... her thoughts were a jumbled mess. There was no way she could express them though; no way to say that she hated what the Doctor had done, she hated it with a burning passion and resentment... but she understood, she understood. And she wouldn't hold it against him... she could feel his pain, and it was burning, but she understood, and she forgave him, but she couldn't tell him, couldn't find the words...
"I know," the Doctor said softly, drawing her closer to him. "I know."
Rose fell into his embrace, and she cried.
Sonoran Desert, 2250
"I'm heading to Phoenix on the weekend," he announced happily as he crouched to pick up the radio from the small crevice it had fallen into. "Can't wait. It's going to be damned good."
His co-worker grinned, and they both began walking out of the room and into the fenced-off area of wilderness. "I'm jealous. You going there to see family?"
"Nah," Ranger Parker replied. "I'm a sucker for history. I'm going there for its origins – did you know that Sir Phillip named the place? With his close friend, they both agreed on the name. I'm going to go explore around the area, see if I can find out why he chose the name 'Phoenix', and–"
"You're not going on one of those tangents that I was warned about, are you?" the other man interrupted.
Parker flushed in embarrassment. "Whoops, sorry."
"I am jealous though. I've really wanted to see Phoenix, especially since they're now the first place in America that advocates alien rights."
"Yeah," Parker agreed. "It's been a long time coming. I mean, honestly, it's pathetic. England's way ahead of America in terms of aliens – you know, they've already begun naming places after aliens? Good on 'em, I reckon. Aliens had it bad enough when all Torchwood did was shoot 'em down–"
"It wasn't Torchwood," was the frustrated reply of the other ranger. "Torchwood's not that bad, honestly. M y great-grandmother once told me that Torchwood always used to be a very poor impact on alien visitors, but that the institute changed with a change in leadership – the Captain. Torchwood hasn't done anything questionable in a while. It's UNIT that needs to go."
"Yeah, they're just getting more and more corrupt. I'd say they've gotta go. I'd think they'd be a bit–"
"Hang on," Parker cut in. "Look!" They had been walking through a National Park area, searching for the elusive wolves that lived there. The wolves were close to extinct – very close – and they had been tasked with cataloguing at least one, fitting it with a tracker. Some task, especially considering one hadn't been seen in the open for at least two months.
"Look at what?"
"Shhhh," Parker intoned, awe in his voice. "I can see one! Look, there, see?"
Both rangers went quiet, in an awestruck moment, as a long-legged wolf emerged from the shadows of a shrub and padded forward, fur glistening. Its ears twitched ever so slightly as it made its way into the sunlight, and the healthy-looking black nose was up, sniffing the air gently. The tail was held taunt, but the slightest hint of a wag could be seen.
"Mexican Grey," Parker breathed. "Amazing. Less than two hundred left in the world... and there one is, right in front of us."
The wolf stopped abruptly. Stiffening, the two rangers went silent. But the wolf hadn't heard them. Instead, it looked around, staring intently at the shrub, where suddenly, three men appeared. They were each heavily tanned, with beige robe-looking things as clothing. The clothing was nothing like anything the rangers had ever seen.
"What the hell are people doing here?" Parker said furiously. "This is a protected area!"
"Shhhh," his partner said quickly, as the wolf made a sudden movement. "You can't scare him... let's sort out the people later, alright Matt?" When there was no reply, he turned. Parker was no longer there.
Instead, Ranger Parker had stood and approached the three men, anger in every step. "Hey!" he hissed, trying to not startle the wolf, "You can't be in here!"
Simultaneously, the three men turned to face him, and the ranger involuntarily took a step back. Then, the strange men grinned, all at the same time, eyes glinting with a menace that looked somewhat... untamed.
"You... you all have to leave right now, or you will be forcibly escorted off this land!" the ranger tried again.
Instantly, the wild eyes of the three strangers locked onto Parker.
And before everything went black, the last thing Ranger Matthew Parker could see was gleaming, furiously gleaming, blood-red eyes.
It took a while for Rose to calm herself, and by the time she did, she was feeling drowsy, eyes puffy and red. She also felt rather embarrassed. She rubbed her eyes, pulled away from the Doctor's embrace. "Sorry," she muttered.
"Don't be," he replied, and to her astonishment he'd said it with a hitch in his voice. She looked up at him, and for a millisecond, just a flash – a glimpse – of the guilt the Doctor had within him could be seen in his eyes, and she almost felt like crying again.
There was no way humans could live with so much guilt. Maybe, Rose mused, maybe that was why so many left him: they loved the life, loved the Doctor and the places, but the guilt, the pain – it tormented them.
Rose had no idea that the Doctor was reading her thoughts, following the path of her emotions, and therefore understanding what she was thinking. Rose heard a loud swallow though, and she turned.
The Doctor's face was pensive and insecure, eyes shadowed with misery and pain. In the second she looked at him though, the expression was gone, covered by a soft, reassuring grin. She wasn't fooled. "What's wrong?" she asked him.
"What?!" he exclaimed, too loudly, standing up. "Nothing's wrong!" But she could see signs perhaps he couldn't; she was no longer the younger Rose, hidden from danger and hidden from knowing danger. This was the Rose who returned, who crossed galaxies and realities in order to find him. It wasn't that difficult to notice the slight lowering of his brows, the small shift of his eyes, and the twitch in his jaw line.
"Bull," she replied softly.
"Nothing's wrong, Rose!" the Doctor exclaimed. "Nothing at all!" There was a moment of silence, and brown scrutinised brown. Then he sighed. "Never could keep anything from you," he smiled at her. The grin was so honestly open, so open, that Rose had to smile gently in return. Moments of openness with the Doctor were rare, and she treasured each time he gave her knowledge of himself. He sat down on the force field, and then looked directly at her. "That's for another day Rose."
Apparently, today wasn't going to be one of those days. "Doctor..."
"I've seen Jack recently though!" the Doctor exclaimed happily. "Tried to grab onto the TARDIS, he did. Ended up sending us to the end of the universe!"
Rose backed down. For now, she'd let the Doctor have his silence. "End of the universe!" she exclaimed, and the Doctor's smile became the slightest bit more real. "That's a story!"
"Yeah! Martha was more than a little shocked when we opened the doors and there he was, dead, and he takes one big gasping breath of air and voila! Came back!"
Rose frowned. "I think that would've startled me, too," she told him, and he responded with a sheepish grin. "But what's Jack doing now?"
"Oh!" the Doctor grinned again. "He's leader of Torchwood now! Cardiff branch. Chose his team over me, you know. Offered him a place on the TARDIS, he refused it, said he's got responsibilities."
"He sounds so different," Rose said.
"Ah, not so much," the Doctor grinned at her. "But I haven't met his team yet – it's on my list of things to do." He made it sound as though he was hinting something. Hinting…
He nodded enthusiastically, bouncing up again. "Yes, Rose Tyler, now to go visit Captain Jack Harkness, scourge of the well-behaved mortals of the galaxy!"
Rose laughed, but tried to look disapproving. She took the hand he offered her, and they both headed back inside the TARDIS. She craned her neck to see the Sombrero galaxy one last time, the bright orb surrounded by the ring of brown making her fall in love, again with the universe. You couldn't love the Doctor without loving the universe. It was just that simple.
"Here we go!" the Doctor announced cheerfully, already pulling levers down.
"Hold it!" Rose exclaimed quickly. "Gotta go get dressed!"
"Hurry!" the Doctor called after her as she ran through the TARDIS corridors to her room.
The TARDIS was in a good mood today, Rose decided as she entered her room after only two turns. "Thanks!" she patted the door of her room, and she could feel the TARDIS hum back at her happily.
Changing didn't take too long; she just put on jeans and top, simple clothes. She wasn't really interested in it; her excitement, once again, was of the adventure. She hadn't seen Jack in what seemed like forever! The excitement bubbled in her, like it always did. Something she'd missed when she'd been separated from the Doctor.
"C'mon, Rose!" the Doctor's voice echoed through the TARDIS, with exuberant excitement that couldn't be contained any more than Rose's could.
She emerged back into the TARDIS' main room. "I'm here, here! Let's go!"
"Alright!" the Doctor exclaimed, and pulled down the final lever. A sputter and many jerks later, and the lovely sound of the TARDIS working her magic, and they had reached their destination. "Christmas!" he said, with a grin.
Rose looked over at the display. It told her, still read in English, that the date was most certainly not the twenty-fifth of December. "No it's not!" she replied to the Doctor. "Nice try though!"
The Doctor frowned at her in confusion. "Okay, Rose, how do you know!"
She gestured at the display. "Been in English for a while now," she told him.
The Doctor whipped out his glasses – Rose smirked, damn they looked good on him – and he stared intently at the screen. Then he looked back at her, confusion even more evident. "Rose, it's never been in English. The TARDIS doesn't translate this into any other languages other than gallifreyan!"
"What?!" Rose exclaimed. "That's impossible! I've been able to read it ever since I got back!"
They stared at each other, the Doctor taking off his glasses and running a hand through his hair. "I wonder..." he rubbed his hair further, making it stand up furiously. "How could...?! But that...! But...!"
Momentarily, the fact that they'd arrived at their destination was forgotten.
It was the sound he was most surprised to hear. Of all things, he hadn't expected the sound of the TARDIS to echo around the hub. Last time he'd seen the Doctor, well, he'd made a decision, hadn't he? He would never regret it.
But still, when he heard the familiar sound, it brought a surge of adrenalin and overbearing excitement. It also brought, to his irritation, a sense of dread. The last time he'd travelled with the Doctor – well, it turned alright in the end... but he wasn't exactly fond of being tortured, and a year's worth of deaths was bound to make anyone slightly ... nervous.
Not nervous enough, though, to stop him from jumping out of his seat before the sound ended. He was halfway out of the hub when another voice stopped his eager run.
"Jack!" It was Ianto.
"Ianto," Jack replied. "Didn't I say for everyone to head home tonight? Big day."
"I know," the other man replied, catching up to Jack. "But I wanted to ..." he trailed off, awkwardly, and looked embarrassed. Jack loved it when Ianto looked embarrassed. It was so cute.
"Glad you stayed!" Jack responded, understanding what Ianto meant, giving the younger man a mischievous grin.
Ianto looked even more embarrassed, but seemed to shake it off. "But what was that sound?" he asked the Captain.
"What sound?" Jack replied innocently.
"The sound that got you up and moving faster than Owen with an invite to a strip club," Ianto responded dryly.
"That, Ianto," Jack brought himself closer to Ianto, leaning in. "That... was the Doctor."
It didn't have the same excitement for Ianto as it had for Jack. Ianto stiffened, but brought his own head back, touching Jack ever so slightly, nose to cheek. "Are you going to be leaving us again?" it was bitter, but asked softly, and almost resigned.
"No!" Jack said, closing eyes as he felt Ianto's breath on his cheek. "No, Ianto, no ... but he's got a reason for being here and I've gotta find out why."
Ianto's mood improved, but only slightly. "Swear?"
Jack took a step back, lifting Ianto's head to look into his eyes. "Why don't you come with me? I haven't introduced you yet!"
Excitement clashed with unwillingness in his eyes, but Jack wouldn't take no for an answer. "C'mon then!"
It was a rush of feet as Jack ran out of the hub, towards the TARDIS, Ianto dragged along, hand-in-hand. "The Doctor, Ianto, he's the strangest person you'll ever meet."
"Stranger than you?" was the dry reply.
"Well," Jack grinned, consciously puffing out his chest just to see Ianto's reaction. "That'd be hard to decide. I bet you, though, the first thing he says to you is 'hello'." Because that was just the Doctor. New planet, new people, new aliens, new enemies... whatever, it's a 'hello' that comes out first. "He'll say it eagerly, you know, enthusiastically." Jack glanced sideways at Ianto – puffing slightly, nodding, and paying attention to Jack's words perhaps more than anyone he'd ever met. And that was Ianto Jones for you; you could always count on him to notice things everyone else missed. Damned good at naming things too.
Ianto was pulled to a stop up on ground level, when Jack beamed at him, letting go of his hand. "There it is! That's the TARDIS!" the Captain told him with gusto.
Ianto, of course, frowned, not recognising the ship for what it was. "Where is it?" Ianto looked at Jack, confused. "You said he had a time travelling ship! Does it have a cloak or something?"
"Oh!" Jack laughed, having forgotten that minor detail because he'd gotten so used to the TARDIS' broken chameleon circuit – and thus what the TARDIS looked like on the outside. He pointed to the police box. "That's the TARDIS!"
Ianto followed his finger, before gaping in astonishment. "That?! It's one of those old police boxes!"
"No it's not," Jack denied. "It just looks like one!"
"Just looks like one?!" Ianto's astonishment wouldn't cease, and Jack was highly amused. "You said that you'd travelled with two others both times you'd been in there!" Ianto said accusatory. "How the bloody hell could you all fit?!"
Jack had a number of lewd replies on the tip of his tongue... and it was so tempting to say at least one of them... but Ianto probably wouldn't appreciate it much. "It's bigger on the inside," Jack told him.
And now Ianto was amazed. "Really?!"
"Yep!" Jack grinned at him and grabbed his hand again. "C'mon," Jack began running toward the TARDIS. "It's the best ship in the universe. The best! And don't look so sceptical, it's true! It's really go –" There was a flash of green light, a loud crack, and Jack fell back, landing on the ground with a thud. "Yow!" he cried, astounded, bringing a hand up to cover his nose, which – to Jack's great frustration – felt like it was broken.
"Force shield?" Ianto guessed.
"Ib doesn't hab one!" he replied, holding his nose, eyes watering.
He must've looked quite a sight, all astonished and holding his nose and eyes watering, because Ianto took one look at him and burst into laughter.
"It's just not possible!" the Doctor frowned, running a hand through his already-electrified hair once again. "The TARDIS just doesn't translate my language! So you can't be reading it! It's just not possible!" He grabbed his trusted sonic screwdriver.
"But I can read it," Rose leant forward, over the Doctor's crouched figure. "What're you doing?"
"I'm running a diagnostic on all systems with even the most rudimentary involvement with language translation systems," he replied, "And I'm trying to speed up the process..." scowling, which made him look absolutely adorable, he gave the main console a hard whack. "I've got the best technology in the universe and diagnostics still take forever!" he whined.
Rose laughed. "It'll be a bit faster –"A loud crack interrupted her, making her and the Doctor stare at the door of the TARDIS. "Was that...?" Rose trailed off.
"Oh yeah!" the Doctor replied, grinning with a sheepish amusement. "We've arrived!"
She laughed again, eyes gleaming, and ran to the door. She was going to see Jack! Jack! She pulled open the door with gusto, leaving the Doctor behind in her excitement. Eagerly taking quick steps, her eyes surveyed the Bay where Torchwood had made their base. Surveyed the water, and going around to the buildings, and then to two men, one lying on the ground, the other between her and the first, laughing.
"Hello!" Rose said cheerfully.
The man who was standing turned, revealing to Rose who was lying on the ground – and she gaped.
The man on the ground, with a hand to his nose, gaped back.
The man who'd turned now looked back at Jack Harkness and muttered, confused, "I thought the Doctor was male..."
But Rose and Jack were too busy absorbing the presence of the other. "Bose?!"
The first thing Rose said, though, because she was just slightly surprised that Jack was lying on the ground with a hand covering his nose, was, "What happened to you?!"
"Bose!" Jack repeated, still astonished.
The Doctor emerged from the TARDIS, walking to stand right next to Rose, and looking as though he was as confused – well, and excited – as everyone else.
The person next to Jack, still looking confused, nevertheless took the reins, raising a hand and thumping the force shield surrounding the TARDIS, making it glow green for a second. "Got yourselves a force shield then?" the man said. "He ran right into it. Too excited if you ask me."
Rose and the Doctor looked at each other, both coming to the same sudden realisation.
Then they both laughed. "Whoops!" the Doctor said cheerfully, "Sorry Jack!" Rose watched him run back into the TARDIS, and the next second the Doctor was back and the force shield had been lowered.
Jack got to his feet woozily, leaning on the other man slightly. "Doctor?" it sounded muffled. "Bose?!"
"Hello, Jack!" the Doctor greeted him. "Sorry about that! Force shield, you know, it's so easy to forget that its there..." he beamed, approaching Jack, and thrusting one hand into his pocket to get out what Rose knew would be the healing device that herself and the Doctor had decided recently to always keep in his pocket. "Broken nose, then? Always were an attention seeker Jack," the Doctor shook his head in a very I'm-amused-but-tut-tut way. "No problem. Fix you up in no time Jack! And I mean it, not like some people who say 'oh, you'll be fixed up in no time sir' and then you end up spending a week in hospital under guard..."
Rose laughed. "Ignore him Jack, he just got sulky when they refused to let him leave because they thought there was something wrong with his 'heart'."
"There was nothing wrong with my hearts!" the Doctor pouted, activating the device, much to Jack's relief. "Stupid humans, not considering the fact that maybe not all beings in the universe have only one heart!"
The device finished its job with a buzzing sound. "Ah, there we go, see?!" the Doctor pocketed the device.
Jack removed his hand from his face, and beamed at everyone, without taking his eyes off Rose. "Anybody got a cloth?" he asked. His face was covered in blood from his previously broken nose, after all. Rose winced for him.
The Doctor grinned at him, fumbling through one of his pockets, but the man next to Jack beat him to it. "Here," the man said, passing to Jack a handkerchief, which Jack took with a smile of his own.
The Doctor looked at the man curiously.
The man shrugged. "He does stuff like this all the time."
"I resent that," Jack told him, but wouldn't take his eyes off Rose. He took a step forward. "Rose? It's really you?"
"Yeah, Jack, it's really me!" Rose was reminded of her and the Doctor's reunion.
Jack stepped forward quickly, and Rose remembered his love of kissing others.
The same thing came to mind for the Doctor, too. "Oi! Jack, no kissing!"
Jack ignored him, but Rose took a step forward quickly and jumped on Jack, giving him a hug that told of how much she'd missed him. Jack laughed at her, but gave a pout. "No kiss?"
"There's blood everywhere!" Rose complained, and kissed him on his forehead, much to Jack's disappointment and the Doctor's relief. She noticed the man, Jack's friend, staring at the two of them with something akin to jealousy, and that made her lean back so Jack would release her.
The Captain was still astounded though. "The Doctor told me you couldn't get back!" he said.
"Well," Rose smirked, with a glance at the Doctor. "We had some help."
"Help," the Doctor agreed, "Had some help, saved the world, got slapped by her Mum." He gestured to Rose as he spoke.
Jack turned to face him. "Again?"
"Yeah!" the Doctor replied. "You know in all my years it's only been the past three where I've been slapped by a companion's mother! A companion's mother!"
Jack smirked. "First time for everything."
"At this rate there's not going to be a last time!" the Doctor replied.
"Oh, stop it," Rose butted in. "You know you like her!"
The Doctor didn't reply, but didn't say anything further, and Rose could only grin.
"Excuse me," a voice interrupted, and all three of them turned to Jack's companion. He blushed a little at the scrutiny, making Rose grin. "Sorry. But..." he looked at Jack.
"Right," Jack nodded, then turned to face the Doctor and Rose. "What brings you pair to our little corner of the universe?"
"Came to say 'hi', Jack!" Rose responded. "Haven't seen you in a while, have I?"
Jack beamed and winked at her, suggestively. "There's more ways to say 'hi', you know."
"Jack!" the Doctor's voice, and, surprisingly, the other man's voice, chorused.
It was so surprising that the Doctor and Rose both turned to face the man once more. "Torchwood, right?" the Doctor spoke directly to him. "You're one of Jack's?"
"Yeah," Jack replied, "He is."
"I am," the man agreed. "Ianto Jones, pleased to meet you."
"No, no!" the Doctor grabbed his hand and shook it with gusto. "Pleasure's all mine! Ianto Jones! Coffee Boy, wondrous with names, Jack's right hand man!"
The two Torchwood personnel shared a look that Rose could only think of as dirty. "Left hand man," Jack and Ianto corrected together.
Rose and the Doctor stared at each other, Rose with surprise and amusement, and the Doctor with a long-suffering look, but the corners of his mouth twitching upwards.
"I approve, Jack," Rose grinned, looking the man over, much to Ianto's obvious embarrassment. "He's a looker."
"I got him first," Jack replied. "Go find your own."
Once again finding herself influenced by Jack's typical behaviour, she grinned and tugged the Doctor towards her. "Got my own, Jack."
"Oh?" Jack looked more than interested. "Finally figured it out, did you, big boy?" he said to the Doctor.
"Jack!" the Doctor got out. "Rose... it's ... and..."
Rose beamed once again. It was so funny when the Doctor got embarrassed. Jack must've thought so, too, because he burst into laughter.
It was a while before they'd stopped talking. By that time, the sun, which had been in the middle of setting when Rose and the Doctor had arrived, had disappeared over the horizon and left them standing only in the light of the streetlamps.
Jack smiled at them, and Rose noticed it was with almost regret. "You two leaving now?"
Rose glanced at the Doctor, who nodded at her silent request. She turned back to Jack. "Come with us, Jack!"
Jack frowned, and Rose got the feeling that she'd just placed him in an awkward situation. Ianto's frown convinced her of it.
"Rose... I'm sorry... I can't. I've got my team," he glanced fondly at Ianto, "And I need to stay with them. I can't go running off anymore."
While she understood – and was completely amazed, Jack had grown so much! – she couldn't accept it, no way. She'd missed him too much, and she hadn't been able to apologise for what she'd done to him. She was going to, she prepared herself to, but she couldn't do it. They hadn't spoken at all about Jack's immortality. But she couldn't accept what Jack had said. Not yet. "Not even one last trip?"
"One last trip, Jack, and home before tomorrow," the Doctor helped Rose out, encouraging Jack well.
Jack looked at Ianto, and back to them. Rose could see him wavering.
"Ianto," Jack said, "Can I speak to you?"
The two of them moved away, and started a muttered conversation that Rose couldn't hear, but the Doctor obviously could, because at times while the two talked, he'd grin, or he'd nod.
The conversation – argument? – was over much quicker than Rose had thought it would be.
"Alright," Jack said. "One more trip." He stuck his hands in the pockets of his own Doctor-like jacket and smirked. "Back by tomorrow, right?"
The Doctor nodded cheerfully.
The goodbye was quick as well, Rose mused, but perhaps that was because herself and the Doctor didn't know Ianto much. Jack gave Ianto a kiss, full, on-the-lips, which made Rose smirk, because she was much too used to Jack. A hug, a promise to return by the following day, and things to tell the others of Torchwood, and suddenly Jack was in the TARDIS with Rose and with the Doctor.
They all beamed at each other. Like old times, Rose thought.
And they were off.
Ianto stood and watched the TARDIS leave. Much as he'd wanted Jack to stay, he couldn't deny there was a light in his boss' eyes, a light that had come when he'd seen the Rose girl – and a strange longing that Ianto could see wasn't sexual, but was something else. All Ianto knew was that this was the first time he'd seen such a mixture of longing and happiness in Jack's eyes, and that was all he needed to let Jack go for his trip.
Jack wouldn't leave the team. Jack wouldn't leave him.
Ianto could trust him.
"Bye," he said to nobody as the TARDIS disappeared. He'd say something like 'Be safe' but he couldn't really, because he knew that Jack had a magnet for bad luck wherever he went.
Such was life.
But Jack would be back.
Ianto turned and walked back into the Torchwood hub.
There was a strange flash of light, but nobody was there to see it because it was tucked away in an alley, hidden from the world. The flash of light dissipated, revealing a man, who gave a wide, short beam with something akin to accomplishment, and walked confidently out onto the general, populated street.
"That took longer than I thought it would've," the man stated with mild irritation, to nobody in particular. "Should've been much easier." A couple of passersby stared at him oddly, and he frowned back at them. "Oi, haven't you ever heard English before?" The people looked away awkwardly, and the man smirked, continuing on his way – even though he hadn't really decided which way he was going to go. "Now I'm here, and I don't even know the damned date or time or even where I–" He looked around closer, and then sighed with relief. "Okay, so I'm in London. Not bad, not bad. It'll make it easier, so much easier..."
A young couple was walking past him, and he stopped them. "Hey, what's the ... date today?"
The female one looked at him. "Uh, it's the Sixth. Of June. June 6th." She blushed. Her male counterpart glared at him, and he felt a surge of vanity. Oh, yeah, at least he still looked good. He smirked at the boyfriend.
"And... what year is it?"
The female stopped blushing, and stared at him like he was crazy. Insane. Whacko. Loony. "It's 2050," she said, and made it sound oddly pitying. The boyfriend put an arm over her shoulders and nudged her into moving. They both gave him one last odd stare.
"Stop it!" he called after them, irritated. "I'm not crazy, I'm just ..."
He paused. He could sense something, something that felt off, there was no other word for it, and he didn't like it at all - it felt strange and out of place and exuded an ancient burning that almost made him shiver. He turned.
Three people wearing what looked like togas – beige clothing – and heads covered with a cloth of the same colour stared back at him. He frowned at them. "Who are you?"
Blood-red eyes burned at him, and suddenly he knew something was about to go very wrong. A fact which irritated him to no end – he'd come here with only one thing in mind. And now he was left with...
"Brilliant!" he said sarcastically. "Doc, I always knew you were a trouble magnet, but this is pushing it a bit far!"
There ya go. Told you it was a long chapter. I could've split it into two, but I wouldn't have known where to split it. Hopefully it was worth the wait though.
Review! Please! I love them!
Talia! I expect a long review! (Or at least, I hope desperately for one!) I love long reviews. They're quite possibly the best thing that can await writers on fan fiction.
Oh, and thank you so much to those who reviewed the first chapter! You're all incredible. Reviews make my day.
Hopefully the next chapter will be up soon, but this is unlikely as I head back to school in a couple of days. So expect updates over Christmas, because that's the time that I should be free. I hope. I am extremely sorry, but I've just been absolutely overloaded with work and I don't expect that to stop anytime soon. Thanks so much for reading!