Disclaimer: I don't own either Doctor Who or Torchwood, though it truly pains me to say so. But if I did own either show, there would have been at least one crossover episode like this fic. :D
A/N: Thanks so much for reviewing, everyone! Since this is the last chapter, I made it extra long. *grins* And the very last of this is dedicated to Snow'sLuckyCat (you'll know which part when you read it! :P).
Gwen pulled the Torchwood SUV to a smooth stop, and switched off the motor. Everyone climbed out, though the Doctor and Jack moved with obvious stiffness. The Doctor was mostly healed from his injuries, though that didn't stop him from feeling dim flares of pain whenever he shifted position. And dying was a painful process, so it was understandable that Jack wasn't feeling his best.
Owen climbed up onto the roof of the SUV, and balanced like a Hawaiian surfer on the wildest of waves. He began untying the Gleckania ropes from the Thredanian's unconscious body, which were made of the alien equivalent of steel. Ianto hovered worriedly, trying to make sure that the medic wouldn't scrape off any paint.
The Doctor fairly beamed as he watched Owen pass the alien down to Jack, Martha, and Gwen, who staggered under its weight as they deposited it over by the TARDIS. "I'm right proud of you lot, I am! Didn't even get angry when I told you not to kill the Thredanian. Makes a change from what I'm used to."
Tosh shrugged awkwardly. "From what you've told us, Doctor, the Thredanian is rather like the Weevils. The basic mind of an animal, just doing what comes natural to it. I don't think much of this was really its fault."
Now the Doctor was really grinning. "Jack, this one's definitely a keeper. And I don't say that a lot, mind you. Only occasionally. Well, I say occasionally. The point is…well, never mind. You get the idea!"
"So how's this gonna go down, Doc? Before our little playmate wakes up and wants another round." Jack gestured at the Thredanian, questioningly raising a brow.
"Oh, right. Sorry. Just got caught up in the moment, there…" The Doctor trailed off, fumbling blindly in his pockets.
"Left pocket of your coat. Saw you put it there earlier," Martha supplied helpfully.
The Doctor blinked blankly at her for several seconds, then his hand emerged with the sonic screwdriver. "Martha Jones, you are a star! Brilliant, you are!"
She nodded once, smiling, to acknowledge the compliment. "Just comes with the territory," she said. "I learned to subconsciously watch what you did with things like your sonic, back in the old days. You were always misplacing important things when we really needed them."
Ianto looked pleased. "If you ever need a new job, Martha, I could use some help down in the archives," he said.
"Thanks, Ianto. I'll be sure to keep that in mind."
"Okay, kids. We're still on the clock," Jack said pointedly.
The Doctor snapped to attention, pressing a tiny button on the side of his screwdriver. "Let me just get the right setting turned on…ah-ha! Molto bene! Setting number twenty-eight!" He aimed his screwdriver at the Thredanian, and the Gleckania bindings harmlessly withdrew, leaving the creature utterly free. Jack tensed, hand drifting towards where he had sheathed his gun. But he didn't pull the weapon out, knowing that the Doctor probably had the situation under control.
"What are you doing?" Tosh asked with unsuppressed scientific curiosity.
"I'm just activating the Rift for a few seconds, so we can pop our little mate in and send him back home," the Doctor replied absently, still fiddling with the slim tube in his hand. "Can't even begin to explain it to you. Very…timey-wimey. Time Lord stuff. I doubt your human brain could even begin to decipher what I was saying. Sorry."
"Don't knock her till you've tried her," Owen spoke up unexpectedly. "Tosh's brilliant."
Tosh flashed him a smile of pleasure at the unexpected compliment. Behind her, Gwen and Jack exchanged an amused glance. Maybe Owen wasn't as oblivious to how Tosh felt about him as the rest of them thought.
The Doctor merely looked interested. "Is she now? Well, then maybe…oh, here we go!" He bounced up and down once, looking like an excited schoolboy. "Here comes the Thredanian's trip home!" He pointed the screwdriver, then a burst of white light exploded in midair. The Thredanian's winged body was sucked into the portal as Martha and the Torchwood team shielded their eyes from the intense glow. And then the Rift opening was gone, as suddenly as it had come.
There was a moment of silence, then there came the sound of a small dog yipping. Everyone turned to see an elderly woman and her tiny poodle, whom she had evidently been out walking, even at this time of night.
"Howdy, ma'am!" Jack called casually, in his best attempt at a Western accent.
"Bloody Torchwood," was the woman's only comment, as she turned and continued unhurriedly on her way.
The Doctor's eyebrows had almost merged with his hairline. He didn't seem to find it strange that the woman was out walking her dog this late, as he thought all humans were just a bit eccentric. That's why he liked the stupid apes so much. "Jack, I thought you said this was a secret organization, Torchwood," he commented.
Jack was in a good mood after their success, so he merely rolled his eyes. "All right, everyone. Back to base."
As the door of the Hub rolled back, gate clanging open and lights flashing, the members of Torchwood, Martha, and the Doctor walked inside. Above their heads, Myfanwy the pet Myfanwy soared past.
"Well, this calls for a right celebration, then," Owen said. "I'll go get the beers then, yeah?"
"Yeah, Owen. For once, I think you just had a good idea." Jack clapped the medic on one shoulder, ignoring the look of pointed disgust he received.
"Oh no you don't," Ianto said quickly, Welsh accent even more pronounced than usual in his hurry to speak. "The last time you were in there, everything was completely out of order. And keeping this place tidy is hard enough as it is, with all of you lot here," he said severely.
Gwen laughed outright. "Nice one, Ianto. You just made my day, telling Owen off. He bloody well deserves it!"
Martha also laughed, as did Jack. Only Tosh seemed reluctant to join in the merriment.
"Also, I don't think you'll be drinking anything, Owen," Tosh said hesitantly. "It probably wouldn't be for the best."
"Bollocks, Tosh! I bleeding forgot!" Owen swore, looking aggravated. In the exhilaration of the moment, he'd forgotten about the fact that he and beer didn't mix so well, since he'd died.
"Uh…Jack?" The Doctor caught the captain's attention. He had been strangely silent ever since the disposal of the Thredanian had been completed. "Can I, er, talk to you for a minute? Won't take a tick, I promise."
"Go ahead, Doc. I'm right here." Jack grinned, though he already knew, deep down, that the Doctor wanted to discuss something in private with him. Something he didn't want the others to hear.
"I mean, in the meeting chamber," he said, though his beaming smile seemed a bit stale. "I'm sure you know the one. It's where I didn't get my ginger tea earlier." His teasing tone held something darker beneath it.
Jack's grin slipped. "Right. Uh…Owen, Ianto, you get that beer. Remember, Owen, none for you. Tosh, type up a quick report about the Thredanian while it's still fresh in your mind. Gwen, you lend her a hand if she needs it. And Martha…just chill." He waved his hands at them all, then backed out of the room. The Doctor followed him, and slipped casually into the lead.
The two men walked all the way to the conference room without saying a word to one another. Jack kept both hands in his pockets and stared at the Doctor's back. He knew he was about to hear something important, because the Doctor didn't get serious for nothing.
Though part of Jack wasn't exactly sure if he wanted to hear whatever it was the Doctor was going to say.
When they finally reached their destination, Jack closed the door before turning to face the Doctor, who had propped himself up against the table with both hands stuffed in his pockets. "Doctor, there are easier ways to get me alone than this. We could have just gone to my office, you know." Jack wiggled his eyebrows suggestively. When the Doctor didn't reply, he asked flatly, "So, have you finally decided to spill the beans and tell me everything?"
The Doctor carefully considered this. "Well, I suppose I could tell you that I was going to tell you everything, but then your head would explode. Which wouldn't be pretty. Understandably. Exploding heads never are, really. But anyway, it would be impossible for your head to contain everything, Jack. Only one person I know of has ever done that, and it didn't end well." His smile was sad, haunting.
Jack only stared at him, raising a brow.
"Er…why are you looking at me like that?"
"Doctor. I know you're hiding something from all of us, including Martha. So tell me, 'cause I hear that the truth sets the soul free, yeah? What's up?" he asked firmly.
The Doctor shrugged, obviously not exactly feeling inclined to set his soul free at the moment. "Jack, I can't even begin to tell you what's happened since we've last seen each other."
"Ah-ha! So you are from the future!" Jack exclaimed triumphantly. He folded his arms and leaned against the door conveniently positioned behind him. "Spill the beans, Doc. Am I still such a ladies' man when we meet again? And what about the jaw line?"
"I know it's hard to believe, Jack, but I wasn't actually looking at your jaw line at the time. You were on a video screen while I was being held prisoner, threatening to blow things up," the Doctor said with uncharacteristic irritation. "So I was understandably distracted."
Jack chuckled. "Sounds like I don't change that much in the future, then. So, um…who was I threatening to blow up? So I'll be, you know, ready. Was it an alien threat, or was I just mad at Owen again?"
Much like Queen Victoria, the Doctor wasn't amused. "You know I can't tell you that. Is your memory already starting to go? Blimey. I don't want to change time anymore than it already has been changed. End of discussion. Finished. Done. That's all for now, folks." He hesitated. "But I just wanted to say…don't always be so harsh on your team, yes? They, well, they won't always be around like they are now."
Jack's grin faded, a look of horror replacing it on his handsome features. "You mean…?"
"I'm sorry." The Doctor didn't say anything else, but his silence said more than words ever could.
"Then I'm going to lose some of them." The life almost seemed to drain out of him. Jack's shoulders slumped, and the way he was leaning against the door suddenly seemed to be a way of holding himself up, instead of a simple gesture of nonchalance.
The Doctor straightened, pulling both hands from his pockets. "Well, you knew it would happen eventually, Jack. You're immortal. You'd be daft to think otherwise," he said with false optimism.
Jack nodded woodenly. "It's obvious you want me to do something. So what is it?" he asked dully. He tried his best not to think about the images lingering in his mind's eye: of the four people he'd grown to care for so deeply lying on the ground, bodies broken and battered.
"I hear you've got these little white miracle pills that wipe away memories of certain events. I'm not so sure I approve of that little practice by the way, but they'll serve handily enough for my purposes."
The captain looked up quickly. "You want me to Retcon someone?"
"Yes. All the others. Not yourself, mind, because that would be a bit odd. And who knows how one of those things would react with your system, being as wrong as you are. Only the others. Make sure they forget everything. That's how it works, isn't it? Just tell me if I'm wrong." The Doctor finally clamped his lips closed again. He tended to babble when he was even a little bit nervous. And he was also still in not a little bit of pain.
Jack continued to look appalled. "But, Doctor. All these things they've learned, meeting you…they'll forget everything about all that." When the Doctor didn't reply, he asked warily, "Even Martha?"
The Doctor winced theatrically. "Even Martha Jones. We'll meet again. In not too long a time, in fact. Something to do with Sontarans. And fire. And cars. And poison gas. And red hats. And guns. So no harm done, eh?"
Jack didn't comment on the rhetorical question. "Okay, Doc. I'll do this for you. But will you at least stay for the beer?" He didn't want these good times to end. Because once they did, it would be like they had never happened. The others would forget all about these exciting new experiences, and he wouldn't even be able to discuss them with Martha.
The Doctor shook his head, grimacing almost comically. "I don't drink. Welllll, except for tea. I love tea, me. Ginger, to be precise. Saved my…oh, I already told you that story, didn't I? Never mind, then."
"Oh. Then I guess it's time for you to ride off into the sunset on that little blue box of yours," Jack said flatly, not even attempting a smile. "Actually, the Time Vortex. But I guess you get my point, Doc." He paused, suddenly snapping to attention. "Doctor, it's been an honor, as always."
"Aw, don't salute. Whatever you do, just…don't." The Doctor shuddered, briefly wondering if his next regeneration would enjoy being saluted to. He prayed that it wouldn't become so. Though he probably wouldn't mind that so much if he were finally ginger.
Jack's lips curved slightly. "I'll see you around, Doc."
"Well, you'll see me. But I won't see you, so be sure not to tell the old me anything about this. When I came here, I had no idea what was about to happen. More fun that way, don't you think?" The Doctor gave a small wave, then opened the door to leave.
Jack sharply saluted, and the Time Lord's shoulders tensed as he somehow sensed the dreaded gesture. But he left without comment, leaving the door wide open as he drifted off down the corridor.
The captain heaved a deep sigh, shoulders drooping once more. It was good to know that he would see the Doctor again, but would he ever come across that version again? One that coincided with what had already happened to him? It was starting to look like that earlier time with Martha and the Master and the Year That Never Was was going to be the only time.
He sank down into one of the chairs, pulling a packet of Retcon tablets from his pants pocket. He slid five white pills into his other hand, and put the small package away. No matter how much he didn't want to do this, the Doctor had ordered him to, for the sake of multiple timelines. He had no choice.
Then he had a thought, one that didn't bode too well with the Doctor's intentions. Owen couldn't drink beer, and he couldn't digest Retcon into his system. So how the hell was he supposed to forget that all of this had happened?
Jack felt momentarily panicked, heart beating frantically against the inside of his ribs. The timelines were all going to be destroyed, ripped apart, the minute Owen didn't take a Retcon tablet with the others. And it was going to be all his fault!
Then the answer struck him like a bolt of lightning or a ton of bricks, both of which he had experienced deaths by at least once, nearly causing the heart that had been beating so quickly to stop.
The Doctor never would have forgotten that Owen was dead, and that his memory couldn't be induced. And he hadn't bothered to explain an alternative means of preserving the timeline, which meant…
Jack put his head in his hands. Owen was going to die. Well, become deader. That's why the Doctor didn't consider him to be a threat to the timeline, and why he had warned him about losing at least one teammate. And it was going to be before he ran into the Doctor again.
"Shit," he whispered to himself, the crushing realization feeling as though it was brutally tearing the very air from his lungs.
The captain's eyes flew open, and he spun round to look towards the doorway. Gwen stood there with the others, Martha included, looking concerned. "Is something wrong?"
He forced a smile that felt bogus onto his lips. "Nope. And I hope someone brought me a beer. You better not have left me out of this little party." Especially not now, he added silently.
Ianto set down two bottles on the table, and all the others except Owen followed suit and sat theirs down as well. Jack couldn't have had a better opportunity if he'd planned it, so he took it by getting to his feet and casually standing over them.
"Where's the Doctor?" Martha asked with confusion, glancing round the room. The others looked at her when she spoke, which was when Jack swiftly slipped pills into four of the bottles.
"He had to go. You know how it is." Jack shrugged, attempting to plaster a look of content onto his face. "Had to be the hero, then run off to his TARDIS. Business as usual." He sat down in his chair and took an exaggerated sip of his beer, which prompted the others to do the same.
Martha looked hurt, but quickly covered the vulnerable expression. "I would have thought he'd at least say goodbye," she muttered, taking another sip.
Jack felt the urge to comfort her, even though he knew she would be forgetting this whole experience in just a few moments. "He said you'd meet again shortly. And admit it, you do miss traveling with him."
She shrugged. "Okay, maybe a little. But I'm perfectly happy right where I am, thanks very much," she said.
"I still think he was a nutter," Owen said.
"Shut it, Harper. He's not as crazy as you think he is." Jack couldn't bring himself to insert any real menace into the words, now that he knew the truth about Owen's coming fate.
The medic rolled his eyes. "Says you, Harkness."
"I thought he was a right looker," Gwen said offhandedly, elegantly sipping from her bottle. "His eyes always seemed to be bugging out of his head, but that hair really improved him a lot, I think."
Tosh nodded with appreciation, blushing. She glanced quickly towards Owen to see if he'd noticed her approval of the Doctor's looks, but he didn't really seem to care.
Martha laughed out loud. "Just don't tell the Doctor that. That ego of his does not need any more inflating."
"And you were feeling a bit insecure, weren't you, teaboy?" Owen leered menacingly at Ianto. "Thought Jack might like his Doctor more than you?"
Ianto's eyes narrowed minutely as he stared darkly back at Owen. "You should have been the one feeling insecure, Owen. He was definitely the better Doctor of the two, I'd say."
Owen looked outraged. "Oi! Watch it, Jones!"
Jack couldn't help noticing the way the other four were starting to slump tiredly towards the tabletop, starting to lose consciousness as the Retcon took hold of their bodies. He stared down at his hands, which were white-knuckled as they clutched the hardly-touched bottle of beer. "I thought you all did great today," he said sincerely. "Even you, Owen. You worked with the Doctor and helped neutralize the Thredanian threat without anyone getting seriously injured. So I just wanted all of you to know that I'm proud."
"What the hell?" There came the sound of Owen leaping out of his chair, causing it to clatter to the ground. "Jack, what's going on?"
Jack looked up again, and saw that all the others had drifted off into peaceful unconsciousness. The Retcon had evidently began to work on their memories.
He took a swig of beer to stall for time, then met Owen's incredulous gaze. He wouldn't tell him of the coming end to his existence, but he could certainly explain about the complexities of timelines and why the others needed to forget. "Sit down, Owen. I need to enlighten you on a few things."
The Doctor inserted his key into the TARDIS lock, then stumbled inside. He pulled the door firmly closed behind him with a loud creak, then leaned wearily against it for a few seconds. His body was aching and throbbing in various places, and he had quite the pounding headache.
After a few seconds, he opened his eyes and glanced around the cavernously empty control room. It seemed even emptier than when he had left it hours earlier, thanks to all the time he had spent with Jack, Martha, and the others. He kept expecting someone to pop out from behind a chair and ask where they were off to next. And the feeling of sadness when that didn't happen was overwhelming.
He limped slowly over to the console, and began his routine of starting up the TARDIS engines once more. He flipped countless switches, and pressed quite a few buttons. Then he rang two bells and whacked a rubber mallet against several parts that were protesting a little. Finally, the refreshing sound of the engines grinding and wheezing filled his ears. He smiled, relishing in the fact that he had once again reentered the Time Vortex, then got down to the business at hand.
Moving carefully, he shrugged out of his coat and dropped it across the two bolted-down seats. He grimaced with disgust at the sight of several ugly bloodstains left over from both the Weevil attack and the Thredanian follow-up, wondering if he had any stain-remover in at the moment. He hoped so. That coat was simply too good to give up.
He unbuttoned his suit jacket, and loosened his tie. Then he also unfastened his shirt and peered curiously down at his body. The pale skin of his chest was peppered with purple bruises and bloody scrapes, though he had certainly healed quite a bit. He wasn't exactly at death's door, but that didn't stop his many injuries from hurting. Quite a lot, too.
He shook his head grimly. He needed to get himself fixed up in the medical bay before going on to any new adventures. Which was a real shame. He had been planning, somewhere in the back of his mind, to go somewhere with real snow. Perhaps somewhere in the 1800's. A bit dull, but it still had the faint potential to be interesting.
He started talking to himself, mostly just to chase away the silence that lurked all round him. As he spoke, he started off across the control room, towards the dimly-lighted corridor just ahead. Behind him, the TARDIS continued grinding, fighting off the intense storms of the Time Vortex.
"Okay, first things first," he said to no one in particular. "Patch yourself up, then off to see some real snow. The white, fluffy good stuff. Right. Sounds brilliant. But only if there are some slobbering aliens involved, preferably kidnapping beautiful damsels in distress. Though I suppose it's doubtful." He paused for a moment, and a grin lit up his face. "Allons-y!"
This was definitely one of my favorite stories that I've written. *smiles fondly* Anyway, I hope all of you enjoyed it, and thanks so much for reading!
This was definitely one of my favorite stories that I've written. *smiles fondly* Anyway, I hope all of you enjoyed it, and thanks so much for reading!