Title: An Exercise in Hope
Disclaimer: Nothing you recognise belongs to me.
Summary: When he saw her on the CCTV, he honestly thought he was seeing a ghost. In a way, he was – just not the ghost of the person he'd thought.
Notes: For fading_xhopex on LJ as part of the Minor Characters Ficathon, who wanted either Jenny joining Torchwood, Adam Mitchell's life with the implant or a Ross Lives! fic. I've taken the first, so here's a story of Jenny, and how she meets the Torchwood crew. I suppose this could also almost be considered a tie-in to my fic All Chapters End Eventually, though it's not necessary to read either to understand the other.
Spoilers: Spoilers for Doctor Who up to and including Journey's End, spoilers for Torchwood up to and including Exit Wounds.
The Hub was powered down, he'd sent Gwen home to Rhys and Ianto home to his television, and Jack was left watching the endless parade of people in the plaza pass by the CCTV camera. It was a Friday night, and so the plaza had a steady flow of people. Jack wasn't sure what it was he was expecting to see, what he was waiting for, but there was little else to do. He'd normally be urging Tosh to go home, to go out, to get a life outside of the Hub. He'd normally be listening to Owen's lewd commentary on what he was going to be doing in a few hours time. He'd normally have more than two people on his team.
Jack scrubbed his hand across his face. He really needed to get a tech expert and medic. Tosh and Owen were invaluable, unique. He could only hope to find people to live up to their legacies – he'd hoped Martha and Mickey would be the ones to do that, not just to keep them close but to save him the tedious task of sifting through candidates and retconning those who couldn't hack it. But, after saving existence itself, Martha had swiftly run back to UNIT, and Mickey had seen Torchwood Three's rag-tag operation and run pretty quickly after her. It seemed that Rose's World's Torchwood was more reminiscent of Yvonne Hartman's Torchwood in structure and efficiency, though thankfully not in ethics.
And boy, did he ever not want to think about Rose and her world – no matter how happy she must be to have been left Earth-bound with Doctor Mark Two and no say in the matter.
He turned his attentions back to the CCTV and almost fell out of his chair. There, looking right at the camera, was Rose. He blinked, and remembered that Rose was cut off – again – and it was definitely almost impossible. Maybe. He'd never underestimate Rose's willingness to defeat the impossible, or the possible uses of the Rift.
As he studied the blonde figure, he could understand why he'd confused her with Rose so easily. The girl was dressed just as Rose had been years ago – lifetimes ago – when he'd been travelling with Rose and the Doctor, and all they'd had to worry about was a homesick Slitheen; when the words 'Bad Wolf' were just… a strange coincidence, and the Doctor was a gruff U-Boat captain with a Northern accent. When he could still die, and such a death would be permanent.
It felt so long ago, but looking back at this girl, he could just see Rose there, in a long scarf, denim skirt, tights and boots, her hair in plaits and a cheeky grin on her lips. This girl was shorter than Rose and her hair was longer, but the resemblance was remarkable. The girl seemed to be getting more impatient, staring as she was into the camera.
Then she clearly mouthed the word 'Torchwood' at him, and he knew he'd have a reason to bring her inside.
He grabbed his gun out of habit, powered up the main lights and headed up the lift – it would give him a chance to observe the girl undetected. If he used the Tourist entrance, she'd probably notice him straight off – Jack wasn't exactly an inconspicuous man.
The girl was standing against a pillar, looking nonchalant except for her unbroken stare at the near-invisible camera behind him. Her expressionless face hadn't changed, her eyes hadn't wavered so she clearly was susceptible to the perception filter. With a closer look, she was clearly not Rose, and didn't even look a great deal like her. Her eyes were large and bright, and she was – as far as he could tell – just human.
But as he continued to study her, she began to shiver and was glancing around with a wince. Something, Jack realised, was clearly putting her on edge. She'd been standing there for only ten minutes at most, and in that time, only one thing had changed: him. It was a long shot, but he knew he put a certain species on edge without fail…
Jack stepped off the slab and the girl's eyes immediately fixed on him. She continued to wince and blink rapidly, like staring at the sun or having grit in your eye.
The girl was undoubtedly having trouble looking at him.
Hope, terror and extreme curiosity warred in him. Perhaps the Doctor would finally have someone to share his life with without guilt or fear; perhaps the Master wasn't quite as dead and gone as they'd all thought; perhaps the Master was gone but someone else had survived similarly and was tracking them all down for whatever purpose; perhaps he should just ask – after all, the girl was walking towards him and was almost -
- right in front of him.
"Having trouble looking at me?" Jack asked, mentally berating himself. He held quite a few cards, one of which he'd revealed, and was that the worse opening line ever?
The girl was valiantly maintaining eye-contact, but her lips quirked a little. "As a matter of fact. Care to tell me why?" Her voice was light and sweet, but she held herself confidently. She wasn't obviously armed, and all of that – coupled with her statement – served to make Jack even more suspicious.
"You don't know?"
"I missed a lot of biology in school," she replied dryly. "Are you Jack Harkness?"
Jack gave a bow. "At your service. Are you a Time Lord?"
The girl's jaw dropped, but she pulled herself together enough to reply, "Does that matter?"
He laughed. "It does when you know who I am, sweetheart. There aren't too many left and they always brings trouble."
"And running?" the girl asked all too innocently.
Her sly smile was frighteningly attractive, and Jack couldn't help but grin back as he knew who she was hinting at. "Yes, lots of running."
Yes, Jack thought, this girl definitely knows her stuff – it was a merry dance he was leading her on. Was she the one leading this dance? Jack thought he wouldn't mind letting this girl lead him – he liked assertive women. "Only from everyone else, usually those we're running from."
And then the girl cracked, her face falling and she became desperate. "You are talking about the Doctor, right?" She was wringing her hands. "Because I've come so far and this is the only solid lead I've had and do you have any idea how hard it is to track one person on a planet like this? It was complete luck anyway, being on Shallacatop when it was moved and then those Daleks, I think they called themselves, and then someone mentioned Earth and I remembered Donna so I managed to hop to Earth before it was moved back and I know my dad had something to do with it but-"
"Okay, now I'm going to stop you," Jack said, his face pale and his voice a little shaken. He cast a glance around him, and the girl's increasing hysterical tone had attracted a few stares, so Jack put an arm around the girl's shoulders and guided her towards the tourist office. "Let's take this somewhere less public, shall we."
She came quietly until, "Why are we in a tourist office, Jack?" He wasn't concerned about her casual use of his (apparent) first name, though it was a little odd to hear from someone he didn't know from Eve. However, Jack found the confused expression on her criminally cute face to be the thing that stirred his broken heart. As soon as he clocked his appreciation of the girl, he remembered that only moments ago she'd used the words "Doctor" and "dad" in the same breath.
"It's a cover, sweetheart," he said simply as he unlocked the door. It was late, and any good tourist office – cover or no – would be closed.
"Not that I mind, but I have a name, you know," the girl's smile was wry. At an unremarkable doorway within the tourist office, Jack turned with a raised eyebrow. The girl rolled her eyes, reminding him yet again of Rose. "Jenny," she said. "Of course, that's the closest think I have to a name, because I was created and not born like most people, so I'm a generated anomaly from a progenation machine. It was Donna who came up with 'Jenny', but I like it – it's very 'me', as they say."
Jack hadn't moved, though his jaw had dropped to reveal a gaping mouth. It was quite unattractive, and Jenny reached forward slowly with a finger to push his mouth closed. "Right," he choked, "Jenny it is then." If this wasn't the Doctor's daughter, Jack thought, he'd die of shock. Again. He opened the door and led the girl – Jenny – through the steel-reinforced tunnel and through the blast door into the Hub.
"Wow," the girl - Jenny - breathed, looking straight ahead. He noticed that she wasn't looking at him when she could help it. "Is that a time-space rift manipulator?"
He blinked, recognising the enthusiasm in Jenny's voice. He remembered having that enthusiasm himself, once. The memory of going giddy over Mayor Margaret's tribophysical waveform macro-kinetic extrapolator overcame him for a moment, not aided by Jenny's slight resemblance to Rose. It was so long ago, and Jack felt older than he remembered. He pushed the feeling aside to answer Jenny with a simple 'yes'. "Although, it's rather cobbled together," he added.
She flashed him a cheeky grin, and Jack forgot Rose, the Doctor, Owen and Tosh for a moment. "Yes, I see that." She circled the Hub slowly. "So have you seen my dad lately?"
"Can we just be clear," Jack said carefully, almost cautiously as though he didn't want to provoke an answer, "by 'dad', you mean 'the Doctor'? Two hearts, pin-stripe suit, mad-hair, motormouth Doctor?"
Jenny nodded, "In a manner of speaking."
"In a-" Jack sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose and cursing Jenny's clear patience. "And by that you mean…"
"Technically, I'm a clone. It was a-"
"Progenation machine," he interrupted. "I got that bit. I'm familiar with that tech."
There was a silence in the Hub. Jack slowly made his way to the sofas, and motioned for Jenny to sit. He wasn't sure how much to share, but he knew on some level that this girl was the Doctor's daughter and she was of no threat to him. "I haven't seen your dad," he almost choked on the actual words, though, "since the planets were put to rights. He dropped a few people off here on Earth, a few people elsewhere, and then he phoned from the TARDIS a couple of weeks ago with some news about Donna, but there's no telling when I'll see or hear from him again," Jack said honestly.
To Jenny's credit, she took this in her stride. "Do you have any way of contacting him?"
Jack thought of the sub-wave, hijacked by Davros, intercepted by Rose, and the woman who'd died for it, Harriet Jones. Then Martha sprang to mind – she should be able to call the Doctor, provided the sub-wave hadn't fried the mobile. He explained this basic fact to Jenny.
"I only vaguely know Martha," Jenny said, picking idly at the threads on the blanket someone had left on the sofa. "She got separated from Donna and dad, and I didn't see that much of her. But I should warn you that she might not believe you. Dad and Donna might not either."
He said nothing of Donna, and how she wouldn't even remember Jenny to begin with – she couldn't. He simply raised an eyebrow. "And why is that?"
"I died. I died," she repeated, though Jack knew it wasn't for his benefit. It was like she was trying to explain it to herself. "And by the time I woke up, he'd gone. Five and a half hours, that's all he'd have had to wait for me."
"I don't think so," she cocked her head, still not looking directly at Jack, her frown showing she was deep in thought. "I don't know much about my own physiology or heritage, but I know I died and woke up later, and I looked exactly the same."
Silence descended once more, and Jack took stock. This girl was the Doctor's daughter – the latest Doctor – and she'd been created/cloned on a planet while the Doctor was travelling with both Martha and Donna. That placed Jenny's birth/creation within the last year at most. Jenny had died, the Doctor had left, then Jenny had awoken in the same body only five and a half hours after popping her clogs.
"Do you have somewhere I can sleep?" She asked frankly after a few uncomfortable moments of quiet. She was sat very primly with her hands in her lap and her back straight, looking for all like a girl of high society. She seemed very calm, and he wondered what she'd been through since being made. "I've been grabbing snatches where I can for months but I can't keep going like this for long – superior physiology or not."
Jack shrugged, loath to send her out into the world when she clearly had nothing and no-one except a woman without her memory of the last few years and an alien nomad who never kept in touch. "If you don't mind sleeping on this couch, you can stay here tonight. But if you're going to be waiting around for the Doctor, we'll have to put you up somewhere a little more comfortable."
"I don't need much," she confided, "I was bred for war."
He gave her a soft smile, unsure how to respond. "I'll get you some blankets."
Jack woke up fairly late by his usual standards the next morning, climbing out the extra-sub-terranean bunker he called an en-suite bedroom to see how Jenny had fared through the night. He was almost inclined to put it down to some bad prawn curry, or even just grief and exhaustion, but when he saw the boots at the end of the sofa, and a tuft of blonde hair poking out from under a duvet, he knew that he had met a clone-slash-daughter of the Doctor himself. He crouched to study her face, taking in the pale skin, the blonde locks and the soft mouth. He couldn't see a great deal of the Doctor in her – maybe a bit of his blonder incarnation many years back - but he knew she could waffle just like him, and was just as adventurous and intelligent.
She could pass as his perfect woman, really, Jack thought, before checking himself. Doctor's daughter, he reminded his brain firmly. Off limits if ever there was such a thing. The man would never forgive him, once he found out.
Then he felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end, and Jack realised he was being watched. A sudden, irrational fear swept through him as he thought that perhaps the Doctor had come here on a whim, was standing right behind him and knew exactly what he was thinking. He rose slowly and turned on the spot, just to see Ianto standing down by the coffee machine, his face disturbingly blank. "Morning, Ianto. You're in early," Jack said as though nothing was amiss; as though he didn't have a hot blonde on the sofa of the Hub; as though Ianto wasn't his possibly-former lover, or at least someone steady that he hadn't really interacted with socially or sexually for a good while – weeks even.
"Gwen's on her way in," Ianto offered. "I'm sure you can wait ten minutes to tell us who she is?"
He rolled his eyes, "I haven't just dragged a twenty-something blonde off the street for the sake of something to look at, you know."
"Of course, sir," was all Ianto said, though Jack could see the twinkle in his eyes. At least Ianto could joke again – they'd all found it hard to laugh lately. Jack threw up his hands in mock-despair and turned back to Jenny as Ianto moved away.
The duvet was pulled up so high that her mouth was covered and her hair was spilling over the top; that said, she was a petite girl and so there were inches of duvet left after her feet. She was, quite frankly, gorgeous. As her nose began to twitch and she began to blink ever so slightly, Jack could tell she was about to wake up. He sat back a little, not wanting her to know he'd been studying her and waited until her eyes opened. "Hey there."
For a split second her eyes were cloudy with sleep and confusion. She sat up and eventually a smile spread across her face. "Jack." They shared a grin.
The blast door opened to the usual alarms and Gwen bounced into the Hub. "Morning all, I brought a box of croissants, and I remembered the jam so don't all rush at-." She spotted Jack and Jenny at the sofa, clocked the quilt and the lingering smiles. "Hello."
"Hi," Jenny gave a little wave with an entirely too cheerful smile given how she'd been fast asleep not moments before.
Jack stood and beckoned Gwen over. "Take it all up the conference room, and we'll do the introductions. Ianto, have you got that heavenly coffee ready?"
Gwen unburdened herself and offered Jenny a spare washbag for her to tidy herself up in the bathroom before she joined the team a few moments later. Jack took his usual seat, with Gwen and Jenny on either side, and Ianto next to Gwen. Jack worried it looked a little antagonistic to Jenny, for them all to be facing her, but she seemed fairly comfortable, ripping up a croissant and sipping a cup of white coffee. He wasn't sure where to start, and was gathering his thoughts while ticking into breakfast, but it didn't matter as Jenny started speaking first anyway.
"The Doctor is my father," she said simply. "He, Donna and Martha were drawn to the planet Messaline, where a ship of people had been sent to terraform and build with a race called the Hath. But it all went wrong, and the Hath and the humans went to war. They used Progenation Machines, which essentially cloned and remixed donor DNA, to create new soldiers who were made with all the knowledge of the war, with tactical skills, weaponry skills. We were even slightly more athletic and our reflexes were better. Dad got his hand shoved in a machine before he even realised what was going on, and I was made." Jenny paused, and instead of talking to the coffee mug as she had been, she turned to Jack. "I immediately got involved with the fighting, detonating a bomb that separated dad and Donna from Martha. He didn't thank me for that," she gave a sad smile. "He kept ignoring me, putting me down. Donna called me Jenny because I'm a generated anomaly. Dad didn't look past that until he heard both my hearts beating."
Gwen, ever the sympathetic, was giving Jenny very supportive smiles; Ianto was politely interested; Jack was riveted – riveted and utterly convinced. After all, wasn't that very typical of this Doctor? He liked things that made sense, that were natural and the way they're meant to be. There was little room in the Doctor's world for a clone, or a fixed point in time.
Jenny continued, her eyes fixed on Jack's. "Eventually, Dad had a stand-off on his hands, and the General shot at him. With those fabulous reflexes they'd enhanced, I took the bullet. I died, and when I woke up, there was peace and my Dad, Donna and Martha had gone. I took a shuttle and I left Messaline."
When Jenny hadn't continued to speak after a few moments, Gwen softly prompted her, "So I take it this was in the future? How did you make it here?"
She took a deep breath, and Jack could see some hesitance in her eyes. She broke eye contact and began to stare at the coffee cup again. "I don't know exactly what the year was by Earth's calendar, but I think it was around the sixty-first century. I flitted around a bit, planet to planet. I met a few people who'd known my Dad, and not all of them appreciated who I was. I learned pretty quickly not to be so straight-forward. I was recovering on Shallacatop from a rather nasty encounter with a Prince whose father I helped depose when the sky changed. The Daleks arrived pretty quickly to round people up – I managed to get my shuttle off there, and watched as more and more planets appeared. And then your sub-wave went live and I realised that my best shot at getting back to my Dad was by getting to you guys. I missed the mark a little, ended up crashing on one of the Japanese islands. It's taken me weeks to barter my way here."
Only the sipping of coffee could be heard – and that was only Jenny. The three Torchwood employees sat in various states of shock while Jenny refused to look at them. "Can you help me find my dad?"
"Well, we have his number right," Gwen shrugged, "it should just be a case of phoning him."
"The phone may have been fried," said Ianto. "He did use it to track us, and with the amount of power took just give him the signal…"
Jack nodded, having thought of that already. Jenny was looking between them, her eyes shining brightly with tears. He reached out and took one of her hands. "We'll give it a try. Did any of you save the number?" A few sheepish looks passed between Gwen and Ianto before they both shook their heads. "I swear I don't know why I pay you two sometimes. I'll phone Martha," Jack rolled his eyes, reaching into his pocket and scrolling through the meagre list of contacts. As Jack waited for Martha to answer, the other three returned to their coffee.
"Martha, it's Jack," he said eventually, and when he didn't pause it was clear to Gwen and Ianto that Jack had reached Martha's voicemail. "I've got a family emergency here and need you to get the Doctor on the line, pronto. Make sure he gets to Cardiff as soon as he can – he's going to want to see this. You're welcome to tag along too, so long as you don't keep us waiting. Thanks."
Jenny was clearly confused, and Gwen quickly explained that Jack had left a message. "She could be working or sleeping or in the shower. We'll just have to wait for her to either get back to us, or for your dad to show up." Despite the set-back, Jenny was closer to her dad than she'd been since Messaline, and Jack could see her excitement in the way she sat up a little straighter. But he knew that if the Doctor's phone was out of action, they'd have to come up with a contingency plan and that plan would certainly involve a long wait.
"Our hands are tied until either of those things happen," Jack said simply, "so Ianto and I will get back to work and Gwen, could you take Jenny on a very quick shopping trip to set her up for a few days at least?" He knew Gwen would do it, especially if-
"Do I get the company credit card?"
Bingo. Jack nodded, "Yes."
"Can I get myself a few things?"
"Don't go overboard – high street only," he warned. He did not want a bill on Torchwood's proverbial mat with payments to Vivienne Westwood, Prada and Cavalli. And it seemed that 'shopping' was not only universal, but timeless, as Jenny was sporting a grin Jack hadn't seen so wide yet. "And a max of five hundred – I don't want you buying out Dorothy Perkins, okay?"
Gwen's grin practically matched Jenny's. "You've got it, boss."
They left, and Jack felt surprisingly bereft. He had to keep reminding himself that the Doctor could show up at any moment, and he would not appreciate Jack taking advantage of his daughter. Jenny was categorically off-limits, and that was that.
Jenny blinked sleepily and the Hub came into view; this time she knew immediately where she was, even though only the floodlights were on, lighting the Hub very barely. It was clearly still the middle of the night, and there was a chill in the air. Jenny pulled the duvet tighter around her and tried to settle back to sleep. Try as she might, she couldn't seem to relax – a day had passed and Martha had yet to call back, and her dad hadn't shown up… Granted, it had been slightly less than a day, and Martha could be in any number of time-zones with no mobile signal - but Jenny was anxious all the same. She'd worked so hard to get here, so confident that Torchwood could get her back to her dad, and now she had a wait on her hands.
She wriggled out from under the duvet and slipped her feet into the 'slippers' Gwen had bought her to go with her… 'pyjamas'. She'd bartered at markets before making it to Earth, and it was an enjoyable experience for the most part. But Earth – it was so full! There were huge warehouses for just food, a different shop for every style of clothing. It was frankly astounding!
Moving as quietly as she could, she took a walk around the Hub.
Torchwood was a name known to people in this time, but their agenda certainly wasn't known, not yet. Jack had a good set-up here, she thought.
Ah, Jack. He was a real sweetheart, she smiled in the semi-darkness. She'd heard that Torchwood had links to the Doctor, and they'd seemed an easier bet than UNIT. She hadn't realised that she'd find a soldier, a confidante, someone who knew her dad and was prepared to do all he could to get her to him.
She didn't understand why he was so hard to look at, though.
Because she really did want to look at him.
She resolved to ask him when morning came, and settled down to read a newspaper Ianto had left on a spare surface.
Given the kinds of situations Torchwood could find themselves in, it was helpful to have a shower in the Hub. A fully functional wet-room was sequestered in one of the many nooks and crannies of the facility, and Jenny felt the distinct need for it. The lights in the Hub were clearly on a timer because at six am the place had been flooded with light – surprising Jenny greatly – and yet no-one had walked through the door, and Jack hadn't appeared from his apartment below. With the option of sleep gone (though she wasn't at all tired, really), and another day dawning, Jenny decided a refreshing shower and a change of clothes would do her some good.
After all, who's to say that her dad wouldn't show up today?
Optimism was the way to go, she decided, gathering some clothes and trying to remember which way Gwen had taken her the day before.
She was more familiar with sonic showers and buckets of water emptied over one's head, but the mechanism was easy enough to work – the stream of cold water gave her a shock straight off, but it soon warmed. The water was powerful, the shower gel Gwen had recommended was invigorating and not at all flowery, and the towel was soft. She examined her limbs as she lathered the gel, seeing bruises in varying shades of grey, purple and yellow. Some we recent, some were faded, some were gone – merely the memory of the pain was left. She prodded at a new bruise, no doubt from the pipes she'd been bumping against in the tanker she'd been on from Turkey to England. That hadn't been her most pleasant journey, but it hadn't been the most traumatic.
She eventually stepped out of the shower, unsure how she was going to get her hair dry, short of letting it hang for hours to dry itself in the air. Aafter enjoying fifteen minutes under the spray, Jenny re-emerged from the washroom in jeans and a fitted t-shirt to the smell of coffee.
"Morning," Jenny called out, assuming Ianto was the one at the coffee machine. Even after only one day, she'd noticed how covetous the Welshman was of his precious coffee-maker.
A head popped around from behind the coffee maker, "Morning, Jen."
She pulled at her t-shirt, very conscious the sudden queasiness that should have alerted her, and of the fact that her hair was still very damp, "Jack, I didn't know anyone else was allowed to make coffee."
"What Ianto doesn't know won't hurt him," Jack grinned mischievously.
"I heard that," a voice called out from the upper levels somewhere, the Welsh lilt a dead giveaway to the identity.
Jack rolled his eyes, and Jenny made her way to the little work station that she'd made her own. She could feel Jack's eyes following her, and she dug deep into one of the bags for her hairbrush, pulling it through her almost tangle-free hair gently. Aware of Jack's observations, and feeling only slightly uncomfortable now she wasn't looking at him, she quickly pulled a hair-tie from the bag and fashioned her hair into a tight bun. She turned back to Jack, who's eyes carefully slid away and back to the job at hand. "Have you heard from Martha?" She advanced on the American, ready to claim her mug, watching Jack pour.
"Not yet, but I know she's in England, so we shouldn't have to wait long for a return call."
Klaxons sounded as the blast door rolled over and Gwen arrived. "So what's occurring?"
"You know that's not half as funny to quote when you're actually Welsh, right?" Jack nudged a mug of thick, milky coffee towards a bemused but unconcerned Jenny, taking the others himself as he went to settle on the sofa. Jenny was quite glad in that moment that she'd folded up the duvet and shoved it with the rest of her stuff by the workstation. The idea that Jack was sitting on the sofa where she'd slept was one thing, it was quite another to have him sit on her duvet as well. "And anyway, the rift is hardly gurgled the past week or so – as well you know."
"A girl needs a little excitement," Gwen demanded in good nature.
Jenny could see that the three Torchwood crew weren't at all bothered about their quiet spell, seeming to be comfortable to take her shopping and tell her stories. As Gwen settled herself at her workstation and began to tap away at her computer, and as Ianto was still upstairs somewhere, Jenny decided that it was worth taking the quiet moment to ask Jack a burning question. "Jack?"
"Hmm," he hummed, blowing at his coffee in a pointless attempt to cool it down some. He took a sip, tentatively.
"Why are you so hard to look at?"
Jack swallowed very deliberately. "That, my dear Jen, is an interesting and involved story, with important, compelling characters, and quite frankly," he turned to meet her eyes, pretending not to notice the very slight flinch she made as he did so – she bravely held his gaze – and said, "I don't think I could do it justice."
"Please, I know you're a great story-teller, Jack," she said, feeling the underlying sense of wrongness about Jack dim slightly, the longer she forced herself to hold his stare. "Does it involve my dad?"
"Yes, it does, though he was a different man then."
"And does he find you hard to look at?" The question was innocent, but she knew she was grasping for something else in common with her dad, as much as she wanted to understand Jack. Two days ago, he'd identified her as a Time Lord because of her inability to look at him, so clearly it was something pivotal. If she could understand Jack, maybe wouldn't be so difficult to look at him.
He sighed, curling his fingers carefully around his mug of coffee. "Not at first," he was teasing her with tidbits of information. "But it's really not my story to tell."
"Jack," she pleaded, "I need to understand. The more I look at you, the easier it is to do. I know you shouldn't be here, but you are and I know that you shouldn't feel wrong but you do - I just want to understand why." She watched for any sort of reaction from Jack, but his face was expressionless, even blank. He wasn't even looking at her anymore, his eyes were carefully trained on his black coffee.
Eventually, he turned to meet Jenny's gaze again and she felt herself relax, even as something deep inside her tensed, revolted. "It was 1941," he began, "and at that time there was a war on – World War Two…"
He told her everything, from first spotting Rose hanging from the barrage balloon, to the con he'd set up just for them; from the Trinny and Susannah bots to the Anne-droid transmatting Rose; from dancing to Glenn Miller to kissing his companions goodbye; from mortal to waking up after being exterminated and seeing a dematerialising TARDIS. He stopped, and Jenny was hanging on every word, drinking in the stories of Jack's adventures with her dad and Rose. There was a sadness in Jack's eyes when he talked of the girl from London, and after Jack had continued and he gave her a heavily edited version of the next chapter in the story, Jenny found out why: He'd thought she was dead, until he met the Doctor again, and Jenny was all too aware of how Jack glossed over that event. Jenny listened closely to every word, every intonation, every in-taken breath, and finally Jack recounted the final – or latest, at least for him and her dad – meeting of the trio, from the street of empty cars with two reunited friends and an opportunistic Dalek, to the moment he left the TARDIS, knowing he was never going to see Rose again and he'd never got a chance to forgive her. Now Rose was sealed off with another clone of her dad, she mused, and Jenny almost wished she'd got a chance to meet this woman who'd done so much and travelled so far to find her dad. Jenny figured that they'd have a lot to talk about, and notes to compare.
Jack had finally fallen silent, and Jenny had been rendered speechless by the story he'd woven. She tried to gather her thoughts, to try and put some of her feelings into words, but she couldn't quite manage it. In the end, all she said was, "You're not wrong, Jack, because you've done so much good with that gift," though it came out almost emotionless. Jenny had never felt to full and chaotic and yet so numb.
"I've a lot to make up for," he replied, "You wouldn't believe."
Jenny felt something stir at the words, and as they both stared at their empty, cold mugs, she said flatly, "I've seen a lot, so maybe I would."
The klaxons sounded again, and Jenny saw him tense immediately. He sprang up, setting the mug on the coffee table with a little too much force and pulling his gun from his holster even as he pushed her behind him protectively. Jenny clocked the actions of a man who'd seen battle, and who'd seen too many people die in one. She'd taken part in a few battles herself, not even counting the memory of the war she was given when she was made, and she knew when to let someone protect her. Jack had the upper hand on her, having a gun, and she saw Gwen had taken a similar stance with her gun trained on the blast door entrance. The memory of the Dalek was still clear in their minds, the shell sitting only yards away being analysed and what was left having been cryogenically frozen for a proper xenobiologist to take a look at.
The door rolled open and a tall, attractive, dark-skinned woman with her dark hair tied back and her suit only slightly rumpled was revealed, her hands held up in a surrendering pose as soon as she saw the guns trained on her. Jack, Gwen and Ianto (who had his gun out on the upper grating) relaxed quite quickly, and it took a few moments for Jenny to recognise the woman who'd arrived to be Martha, the woman they'd all been waiting on. Jenny didn't like the way Martha closed her eyes and smiled widely as she and Jack hugged, but Jack was quick to re-holster his gun and he turned right back to Jenny and so she felt a little more comfortable. Again, she relaxed under his kind and openly happy gaze, the part of her that was rebelling getting easier to ignore in the face of such compassion.
Martha wasn't looking her way Jenny realised, and without missing a beat Jack said without turning around, "Martha Jones, I believe you've met Jenny." She didn't say anything, knowing that if Martha didn't believe her, she was going to have to do some earnest talking to convince her. Martha studied her for a few minutes, the hums and buzzes of the Hub seeming deafeningly loud in the face of such tense silence.
"Jenny?" Martha said, the scepticism clear for all to see. Jenny just nodded. "You're alive?"
The tone of Martha's voice was slowly turning from disbelief to almost giddy incredulity, and Jenny had only seconds to prepare herself before Martha had swept her up into a hug. "That's some family emergency," she said, her barb aimed at Jack but the slight squeeze she gave the younger woman showing Jenny that Martha did consider it an emergency, but a most happy one.
"Have you called my dad?" Jenny asked, cutting to the chase as Martha released her. She really just wanted to see his face right now, after all she'd been through to get here. Jack had moved back to Jenny's side, and Gwen had seemingly abandoned her computer for the family drama unfolding.
Martha shook her head, "No offence, but I wanted to see for myself what this family emergency was before calling him – it's not that I don't trust you, Jack," she added honestly, "but I had no idea what you meant and it had to be something big to warrant bringing him here so soon after …everything." Martha trailed off, a wary look in Jenny's direction, and Jenny was aware that something else was being skirted over.
She was content to let Jack hold things back – he was immortal and who knew how old he was between leaving the Game Station in the year two thousand one hundred and getting here in the twenty-first century, in fact he was almost entitled with so much life to cover she can't possibly expect to hear it after only two days – but she didn't know Martha, and if there was some reason her dad wouldn't be happy to be brought down to Earth, then Jenny wanted to know why. "Everything, what? What is it, why wouldn't he want to come?"
The older woman sighed when she realised that she wasn't going to get help from anywhere else on this. "He lost Donna."
Jenny felt sick. "Donna is dead?" She'd been so lovely, so accepting of Jenny, especially when her dad hadn't. She'd been happy and funny and Donna had given her a name and a father, and her father had given her a purpose. Donna was integral to the person Jenny had come to be – how could Donna be dead?
It was Jack who explained, seeing the stricken look on Jenny's face and wanting to wipe it away. "She's not dead, but she couldn't keep all of that Time Lord knowledge in an ordinary human brain – the metacrisis was starting to kill her, and the only way to save her was to wipe her memories of the Doctor, the TARDIS, everything. She doesn't remember any of it, she can't or it'd kill her."
If anything, this made Jenny feel worse and she felt the tears well up in her eyes, threatening to fall. Donna had helped fashion who she was, and she doesn't even remember – can't even remember. If Donna even tried, or was reminded, then she'd die – it wasn't fair! Jenny held a hand up to her mouth as she began to sob and Jack pulled her against him as she slumped down to the sofa. "It's so unfair; it's all so unfair," she mumbled into his shirt, only slightly aware of Martha, Gwen and Ianto moving away to give them a little privacy.
"She knows about the Earth being stolen?" Martha asked, a little confused as to how Jenny could be so familiar with the recent events – especially events she wasn't on the TARDIS or in the Crucible to see.
Ianto shrugged, keeping a discreet eye on the distraught Jenny and comforting Jack. "She was on one of the other stolen planets when it was moved from her time. She got off the planet and made it to Earth after detecting the sub-wave," he relayed, "It explains how she managed to get from the sixty-first century to the twenty-first without any time travelling tech."
Martha nodded in understanding, "The Doctor said the planets were being pulled from Time as well as space."
"I didn't realise she was so close to Donna," Gwen said, a little sadly, "though she did say that Donna named her, and accepted her before the Doctor did. I suppose that made a lasting impression."
They all tried to ignore the cries and mumbles, and Jack's deep and soothing voice below it, but it was difficult. Martha decided the reunion of father and daughter could stand to wait a little longer and whipped out her phone to check she'd still have some signal in the Hub, after all, the satellites had to be repositioned. "We're lucky my old one survived the sub-wave," she grumbled to a relieved Gwen and Ianto.
It was when Jenny suddenly mumbled something about a Prince Eagan and a King Eldred that Jack realised she wasn't just crying for Donna anymore, she was crying for herself. He could pick out a few more names, a few plants he thought he might recognise but anything substantial was lost in Jenny's wracking sobs. Jack pulled her closer, let Jenny practically crawl into his skin as she tried to find some protection. She'd been so alone, trying to live up to what her dad wanted of her so when she saw him again, he could be proud, but it had clearly been a struggle to get to this point.
Slowly, the sobs became quieter, then fewer until finally the tears were drying on her cheeks, and his shirt was fisted in his hands. "Could you call my dad now, please, Jack," she said, her voice small, only serving to remind Jack just how young this girl was, and just how old he'd become. She seemed so lost as she whispered to herself, "I want to find home."
Jack looked around to try and see where his team and Martha had respectfully disappeared off to. He spotted Gwen at the kitchenette, and called out to her, trying to keep his voice down to avoid startling the very still girl in his arms. "Gwen, where's Martha?"
Gwen came closer, a cup of tea in her hands which she set down in front of Jenny. "She's up in the conference room. There you go, Jen, it'll warm you up and make you feel a little better. Cups of tea can save the world, you know." Jenny didn't move, but her eyes slid to Gwen's and she thanked the woman quietly. She realised that Jack and Gwen kept shortening her name to Jen, which was very familiar of them, but it made her feel little more comfortable. These people knew who she was and accepted her, which is more than she could have ever asked for in the months she'd been travelling. She wondered if her dad would call her Jen, or whether he'd want to give her another, more Time Lord-esque name. Was 'the Doctor' his name, really? Would she have to choose something like that?
"Could you get her to phone him now," Jack asked, hoping she wouldn't shout like she was prone to do. A calm quiet had settled over the Hub and he didn't want it destroyed.
"Of course," and Gwen - thankfully – walked off up the grated steps.
"You won't have long before he shows up, I'd reckon," he advised. "Him having a time machine and all."
"I'll go tidy myself up then," she said with a very tiny smile.
Jack looked down at her indulgently, "You look beautiful."
"The puffy eyes, runny nose and blushing complexion notwithstanding?" He was encouraged by her ability to joke slightly, and rolled his eyes, Jenny reluctantly pulling away and smoothing her hair back. "I'm going to go wash up." She retreated very quickly, grabbing her hairbrush as she made her way towards the washroom for the second time in as many hours. It was with a sigh of relief that she closed and locked the washroom door behind her, and she sank onto the bench there. She'd just incoherently leaked her soul to this amazing man, told him some of the worst things she'd had to experience since leaving Messaline, and she could only hope that he couldn't understand her rambling sobs. She felt drained and exhausted and dreadfully embarrassed, but her dad could really arrive any minute now and she was a mess. She definitely didn't want her dad to see her like this, she decided as she looked at herself in the mirror.
She stood up, filled the sink with warm water and gently washed her face. When she'd rid her cheeks of the salty tracks, she rinsed her face with colder water, and used a hand towel to pat her face dry. Much better, she thought, though her eyes were still rimmed with a redder shade of pink. She hoped it wasn't immediately obvious she'd been crying. Her hair was a mess, and she re-made her bun.
Luckily, her own shirt had escaped the onslaught, though she wasn't sure she could say the same about Jack's. There was a slight breeze from the doorway, and Jenny shivered. She re-examined herself in the mirror, and decided she looked as normal as she was going to get right now. It was time to face the world again, and hope her father was quick.
"I don't care if this is the only time in three millennia these planets swap suns, you have a bloody time machine, and we have an emergency." Jenny could hear Martha from across the Hub, and she moved towards the voice. "Yes, the world is at stake," Martha lied, "So get yourself to Torchwood, right now or we will all die horrible, fiery deaths." There was an echoing silence, and Jenny seriously hoped that the shameless lie would pay off, and that her dad wouldn't kill the woman for it, then the silence was broken by the most beautiful and unrivalled sound in the universe. Jenny saw Jack stand up – he hadn't moved since she'd walked away – with a wide grin on his face. Was this it, she wondered. "Thank you," Martha said tersely from the bottom of the stairs, snapping her phone shut. Jenny didn't have a clear view of the blast door, but there was something appearing there, something blue, and Jenny really hoped this was it – she couldn't bear to be disappointed again.
There was a blue box in front of the blast doors, and Jenny moved slightly to the left to see past the central column of the rift manipulator to see the door open and her dad stepped out. And he was very angry. "You're welcome, now what the hell is going on? It doesn't look much like an apocalypse but I'd never put anything past you lot." He looked ready to tear Jack apart. "And just what are you grinning about, Captain? You do know I just left the most beautiful sight in the universe, right?"
Jenny stepped out from her inconspicuous hiding place, and felt all eyes in the Hub turn to her. She locked her eyes on her dad's, and she felt like crying all over again. She couldn't believe he was here! After so long, it was almost like a dream. "Hello, dad," she choked out, her voice a little raw from the crying earlier and the sheer surge of emotions she couldn't control.
A few moments passed, and Jenny began to worry. Her dad had yet to say anything, his jaw was hanging slack and his eyes were glazed over like he wasn't even seeing her at all. No-one moved, almost afraid to draw attention away from the reunion. Martha was motionless at the bottom of the stairs, her eyes fixed on the Doctor. Gwen and Ianto were looking between the two Time Lords like there was a tennis match going on, and Jack made an aborted move towards Jenny.
"I've never seen you so speechless," Jack quipped at the Doctor, trying to break the very awkward anticipatory air that had settled over the Hub.
It worked, and her dad finally seemed to be able to control his jaw and close his mouth. "Jenny?" She nodded, and the tears spilled down over her cheeks. She couldn't help herself anymore, and she ran forward into his arms. Feeling him hug her back was the best feeling in the world, she decided. "Oh, Jenny," he was squeezing her tightly and breathing her in deeply, "I thought I'd lost you. I'd hoped you might… but oh, you precious girl, I thought I'd lost you forever."
"You did," she whispered, only for him, her daddy. "But I'm here now, and I'm never going to leave you. I promise."