Manipulated Timeline

Disclaimer: There are only a few characters in this whole thing I lay claim to. Anna is the only one I really want of them. Oh, and I'm partial to the Manipulator, but you can use it if you ask.

A/N: One last twist and a semi-sweet ending. This chapter is a little shorter than the others (but not as short as the preview/first chapter), but no matter how hard I shoved it, it wouldn't break the thousand-word mark! Anyway, enjoy the ending!

Chapter Six: Departures (988 words)

"Jack!" Anna called across the system's control board. It had taken them a while, but they had managed to hastily patch their wrist straps into the Manipulator's technology, which made for a bit more compatibility, at least on Anna's part, with the Marulian symbols. It also gave them easier access into the trickier systems of the machine – such as actually activating it. "What's the entry code?"

"50XA-alpha-Q," he answered.

"Ta!" she replied.

"Wait! We need the Doctor to finish."

"I know." They worked quietly for a few moments before another small disruption crept up.

"What do you have the time set to?"

"06:10."

"Thanks." They went about; setting up the controls and making sure everything was in working order, without a problem, until–

"Shit!"

"Bloody hell, why are these things never easy?"

"You're telling me!" Anna said with an exasperated sigh, realizing what she had to do. "I'm going to have to climb through the vent!"

"What?!"

"You're too big. This slim body, narrow hips – I'm the only one who will fit."

"Fuck no!"

"You want to be stuck in this loop?"

"No!"

"Then I have to go."

"Anna, no! You'll be fried when the Manipulator initiates!"

"There's no choice. You know that."

"Annalily Harpwell, you're not doing this."

"Too late." She heaved herself up and into the vent and was gone. Then, with amazing timing as usual, the Doctor arrived.

"I'm ready."

"Anna's in the vents."

"What?!"

"Internal fuse blew. She's the only one who fits."

"This is bad."

"You're telling me."

"I fixed it!" Anna's voice came back to them through the vents. "Go, boys!" Jack and the Doctor looked at each other. Neither could send Anna to certain doom. "God dammit, boys, I can't hold this forever!" They just stared at each other. "Fuck you!"

She engaged the remote deploy with her wrist strap.

"Anna!" Jack yelled with the slightly familiar tug of undoing reality. The Doctor looked away, feeling the hurt.

With the help of the Marulian Manipulator, reality undid itself.

Jack awoke with a start. It was the morning that he'd had that strange dream.

Speaking of dreams… He ran the last few miles into the city of London. He vainly tried to find a ride to the Torchwood headquarters, but it proved to be a bit more worth his while to just run there. It wasn't as if his heart was going to give out on him.

Once there, he headed to the basement where confused specialists were quite literally scratching their heads at the disappearance of the manipulator. Asking around, Jack learned the only thing left of the giant contraption that had once filled the entire basement was a small leather wrist strap. He told them he knew whose it was and promised to return it. He spoke with such authority on the matter that they trusted him – especially because he could tell them what had disappeared and theorized a situation or two in which it would have been activated and therefore lost.

He took the wrist strap to a flat owned by some friends of his who worked for Torchwood 1. The brothers recognized the hurt look in his eyes and didn't ask questions. They let him into their study, agreed not to bother him, and asked him if he wanted any coffee, which he politely declined. He had a slightly more pressing matter at hand.

After an hour of trying everything he knew on Anna's wrist strap itself, Jack decided he needed a break. He put the bit of black leather on the desk and went and got a drink of water, to do something to clear his head. When he got back to the study, the wrist strap itself hadn't changed, but Jack had gotten an idea. He flipped open his own wrist strap and spent the next twenty minutes hacking into Anna's with his own. Once he was in, he crossed his fingers, closed his eyes, and tried the safety.

It worked.

Anna slowly began to materialize in front of him. He was ecstatic that it had worked and was beaming because of it. Anna smiled at him, expecting him to say something brilliant to her.

Instead, all she got was "This is really antiquated technology!" Anna frowned.

"Come off it! I bet your wrist strap doesn't have a safety!"

"I don't need one!" She shook her head.

"Jack..." She pulled him into a sudden hug. He held her close, loving the fact that he could envelop himself in her presence.

"That last thing you said," he murmured in her ear, his low voice sending a shiver down her spine. "Was that a threat or a promise?"

"A promise," she hissed back and stole his lips with her own.

She broke from the kiss early. He frowned. "Have I done something wrong?" Beaming, she shook her head.

"Absolutely not. Do you still have the map of Cardiff I gave you earlier?" He dug in the pockets of his greatcoat. They were certainly a nice addition. Unearthing the right bit of paper, he handed it over.

"Thanks! 51° 27′ 50″ N, 3° 9′ 50″ W," she read out, punching things into her wrist strap.

"What are you doing?"

"Leaving."

"Now?!"

"Yes! You yourself said not to stay in one place too long."

"Why would I say something like that?" She gave him a pitying look.

"'You run into too many ghosts,'" she quoted. After a moment, her demeanor completely changed. "Pick a day," she ordered. He narrowed his eyes.

"Why?"

"Just do it!"

"Alright! Oh, I don't know… December 3rd."

"December 3rd," she repeated, beaming again. "I like it." She punched a few more things in. "Right. You there, Captain Jack Harkness. December 3rd, 2008, be on the lookout for yours truly." She pressed a button and began to dematerialize. "Love you." Her half-there lips brushed his cheek. "I know I shouldn't, but I do."

A/N: Well... it's done! It feels amazing to have it up – to have finally introduced Anna! I love her to death, and now I can put up some of the other stuff about her that's been floating around in my head.

As soon as it's finished.

But be prepared! Though we have seen the last of the Marulian Manipulator (or this one, anyway), we have not seen the last of Annalily Harpwell! I have a one-shot plotted out as a sequel to this already, but I've no idea where it's going, and I don't know if it's going to go where I'm telling it to! We'll see, won't we? Anyway, better stop rambling, you're probably bored to death of me, aren't you? Love you all for reading this, and reviewing if you have.