Lady Christina swirled a straw in her drink absentmindedly, frowning into the alcoholic concoction. One week ago she'd been rejected by an alien with a blue box.
True, he'd left her with a flying bus, (she smiled, remembering where she'd parked it before heading out tonight) but a lady had her pride. And she wouldn't deny it went further than that. She had enjoyed the kiss she'd stolen.
Oh, it was nothing like love- couldn't even be called a crush- but the playful banter between them was enjoyable, and he'd been the first man in a very long time that she considered an equal.
She smiled to herself, tipsy and amused at her unconscious use of "man."
"Lady Christina de Souza."
A man slid onto a stool next to her at the bar and leaned on one elbow to flash a Cheshire cat smile. He said her name slowly in an American drawl, lilting the words as if they gave him great pleasure.
Bristling immediately, Christina rolled her eyes to the side, sizing him up without moving her head.
"Who are you, how do you know my name, and what do you want?"
The American chuckled condescendingly. "Oooh, you're just full of questions, aren't you doll?"
"Listen," Christina began, slurring the 's' a bit, "In the last week I've escaped from evil aliens, saved the world, and flown a big red bus all the way from London to Monaco while evading the authorities, so I'm really not interested."
The American, instead of being put off by her crazy story, just laughed again and replied "That's what he said."
She turned to face him now, and noticed the mischievous look over his features. He seemed confident in his knowledge of her, but she knew nothing of him, and it made her very crabby when other people knew things she didn't.
"I know I'm a bit inebriated, but doesn't the saying usually go 'that's what she said?'"
"Normally I'd be the first to agree with you, but not this time." The man slipped into a slightly more professional, though teasing mode.
"To answer your questions, I'm Captain Jack Harkness, and I know your name and story because of a mutual friend- that's what I meant by 'he.'"
"Which friend is that?" The American had Christina's attention now.
Jack smiled with a twinkle in his eye.
Christina blinked. Had she heard right? Her heart skipped a beat. Maybe he was going to take her with him after all…
"Why are you here?"
"Well, a civilian, even a noble one, can't just keep alien technology for personal use and gain."
"Yeah, you know- the alien technology that lets the 'big red bus' you flew here fly."
"Oh." Christina turned back to her drink, rather put out. "So the Doctor still doesn't trust me."
"It's more a matter of I have experience and know what to do with it."
"What makes you so special?"
The cheeky grin and mischievous twinkle reappeared.
"I'm an almost 200 year-old immortal man from the 51st century who's travelled in time and space, and am currently the head of a secret branch of government called Torchwood which deals in alien affairs. I've also travelled with the Doctor, which is how I know him."
Jack finished his ramble with a wink and gloated over Christina's flabbergasted expression.
"…Oh," she finally said. Her shoulders slumped with defeat. "Of course. I'll take you to George now."
The Captain arched an eyebrow in confusion. "George?"
Christina shrugged. "Yeah, never had an urge to name an inanimate object before, but an enhanced, flying bus seemed like a special case."
Jack chuckled and offered her his arm as they left the crowded club. They walked in a surprisingly comfortable silence for a while.
"You know how I met the Doctor, but what about you, Captain?" inquired Christina. She was extremely curious, despite being taken aback with his claims.
"Me? First I met a girl named Rose- she was hanging from a barrage balloon in a World War II air raid- and she introduced him to me. He saved the human race from death through nanogenes after my con went south, I brought a bomb on board my ship to save him, and he gave me a chance at redemption by taking me with him."
This explanation left many more unanswered questions, and Christina was about to ask how the human race could be killed by really tiny pants, when she realized that probably wasn't what he meant.
"So is everyone from the 51st century immortal?"
"Nope." The Captain paused and took a breath. He stared straight ahead and his eyes were full of an emotion she couldn't name.
"That was Rose again," he continued. "She absorbed the Time Vortex and brought me back to life after I was killed by Daleks- but she didn't realize it brought me back for good, and now I'm the man that can't be killed." He seemed bitter.
"Daleks? As in the aliens that moved Earth and invaded it? Those Daleks?!"
Captain Jack nodded slowly, all jokes forgotten. "Yes, except this was in the year 200,100 aboard a satellite orbiting Earth, and these Daleks had been 'made' with human cells."
Christina started. "What?!" She was completely sober now.
Jack just nodded grimly. "It's a very long story that I won't go into right now," he said in a tone that was final.
She examined his face and decided that she wouldn't pester him for more… now.
"So why did you stop travelling with the Doctor?"
He gave a sharp bark of laughter. "Actually, he left me behind. I tried to follow him back through time to the 21st century, but landed a bit earlier, in the 19th instead. I lived till I met him again and… well, stuff happened. But I'm not mad at him anymore. You see, I'm a fixed point in time; nothing can kill me, and believe me I've tried. I'm a 'fact' in the universe, and that goes against all his Time Lord instincts. They're very sensitive to temporal changes, as hinted at by the title."
Lady Christina knit her brows, taking all this in. "Time Lord- yeah, he mentioned that name. Is it his… species?"
The Captain nodded.
"Well, I'm not completely convinced he's extraterrestrial- he looks so normal- but after all I've seen, and watching him talk to those two flies, I'm willing to bet he's at least part alien."
Jack laughed. "Trust me; he's alien all right."
Christina shrugged noncommittally and stopped in front of a narrow alley. "Here it is," she said, motioning to the bus parked in it.
Jack knelt down and peered at the altered wheels, then stepped inside, smiling all the while. He paused at the steering wheel and frowned at the golden lump sitting on it.
Lady Christina told him that story and he whistled admiringly.
"The Doctor never said what you'd stolen. May I just say, from one former criminal to another, I'm impressed!"
She shrugged, striving for modesty, but her grin gave her away.
Jack looked at her appraisingly for a moment, then exited the bus to stand in front of her.
"You're clever and up for adventure, Lady de Souza. Why don't you travel with the Doctor?"
Christina's face darkened a bit.
"I wanted to; I asked! But he said something about always losing and hurting his companions, and how he'll never travel with someone again- even though earlier he'd admitted we made a good team." She stopped, then said with a softer voice "He must have lost an awful lot, Jack."
A stone mask fell over the Captains expression, and she was surprised at the coldness of it. Obviously, what the Doctor had told her struck a chord with him. Then he sighed and looked away. When he next met her eyes he was smiling again.
"The Doctor may be angst-y and depressed right now, but until he comes to his senses, I have an offer."
Lady Christina shifted her weight to the other foot. "Yeah? What is it?"
Jack grinned wider. "I'm rebuilding my Torchwood team right now, and could use a capable and beautiful lady like you on it. I can't claim it's as exciting as travelling with the Doctor, but it's plenty dangerous if that's what floats your boat.And we have the most… extensive medical coverage I know of," he added with obvious meaning.
She smirked. "Let me guess- that coverage comes in handy rather often?"
"I can neither deny nor confirm that."
Christina regarded him for a second, then broke into her own mischievous smile.
"I think I'd like that." She held out her hand and Jack shook it.
"Welcome to the Torchwood team, Lady Christina."
"I'm delighted, Captain Jack."