Disclaimer: If I owned Doctor Who, I would not Worry about tuition, now would I?


Captain Jack Harkness, who had never been officially defrocked, was worrying about being decapitated. He tapped his toe nervously against the chrome bar of his cracked pleather stool. His fingers beat an uncomfortable rhythm against the side of his glass of Kyperian whiskey, making the ice clink against the side.

Around him, the typical noise of a bar on any human settlement had returned from its brief sabbatical. Jack would normally be soothed by the raucous laughter, tipsy giggles, and idle gossip punctuated by the occasional thump of someone who had had one too many falling face-first. But, at the moment, he was too busy to even notice it. The irony that he was wasting time calculating how much time he had left to live did not escape him.

Staring at the door where men in clichéd white jackets had dragged one infuriated but drugged Rose Tyler out of the bar, Jack watched the blue tint fade from the world around him. When it was gone, Jack knew that the protective barrier he'd been encased in by the cops was gone, and he was free to move properly, rather than just fidget.

After popping his wrist and stretching his shoulder, both of which had cramped during his imprisonment, Jack downed his drink, now abysmally watered down, tossed a few grey bills on the bar and trudged reluctantly out of the door Rose had been dragged through.

"He's going to murder me." Jack muttered gloomily to himself.

*

The Doctor's hackles were up even before Jack slunk into the TARDIS unaccompanied. The Doctor had only come to this dwarf-planet because he knew he could get mercury cheaply from the mines here, and he needed some to fix the thermostat for the engine's core temperature. No digital temperature gauges could withstand the heat properly.

Still, he didn't like the idea of Rose running loose on this settlement, even though they were all human. The mercury in the area had effected the population. He knew better than to tell Rose to stay in the TARDIS, since she'd never stand for him being high-handed, not his Rose. But, he didn't want her around the actual miners, since they were worse than the other settlers and were all quite a bit madder than any hatter had ever managed to be.

Telling her to stick close to Jack and be careful, the Doctor had left Rose to explore after a fierce hug and a glance at Jack that told the Time Agent exactly how much it would suck to be him should anything happen to Rose.

When he got back to the TARDIS before them, dusty, sweaty, frustrated from hours of negotiation, but triumphant, the Doctor had known something was wrong. He told himself to relax, that they would be along shortly as there wasn't much in the way of either entertainment or shopping in this mining town. He paced for a time, waiting to hear the snick of a key in the lock.

The TARDIS soon tired of this routine as placed a piece of piping in front of him, causing him to trip. The Doctor righted himself in a huff. In glaring down at the pipe, the Doctor realized that his jumper was in a state of ragged disrepair. It was not only covered with dust and splattered with mud, but there was a small hole which had been worn in the fabric by the crate he'd carried the mercury back to the TARDIS in.

He might as well get a shower and change so that he wouldn't look a complete mess when she got back. He paused mid-stride to wonder just when he started caring what his companions thought of his state of dress. Ignoring the part of his brain that reminded him of how soon after he'd met her for the second time he'd examined himself in the mirror, the Doctor hurried towards his room, pulling the ruined jumper over his head as he went.

When he emerged, the Doctor tried not to be surprised to not hear the voice of either Rose or Jack. He threw an entreaty towards the TARDIS, hoping good news. His jaw clenched when he learned they hadn't come back yet. He barely paused to pull on socks and boots over his still damp feet before charging towards the consol room.

Dials whirled, switches flipped, and buttons depressed under his quick fingers as he searched the town for Rose and Jack. He'd refused to show Rose some Spock in London, but this time speed was important. If anything happened to her, he'd never forgive himself for wasting time.

The sound of a key in the lock.

The Doctor spun away from his scan, desperate to see Roe stumble in, laughing. Instead, Jack came in alone, wincing as soon as he saw the Doctor standing there.

"Where is she?" the Doctor demanded, not caring how needy he sounded.

"They took her. The government did. It seems that, because of all the mercury in the area, this city has a very…proactive welfare system. If they decide you're sick, it doesn't matter what you think, you will be treated. Men in white coats came and carried her off." Jack was speaking quicker than the Doctor thought was humanly possible, but he was grateful for the speed. It was clear that Jack had had to give reports before when time was short. The Doctor had never thought he'd be grateful for the Time Agency's training.

"Why didn't you stop them?" the Doctor interrogated, eyes blazing. "I told you to protect her.

"I couldn't move!" Jack protested. "Some one must have reported us-"

"For what?" the Doctor interrupted. If one of Jack's antics had gotten Rose in trouble…

"I don't know!" Jack snapped, but there was some doubt in his eyes. "They said they were taking her to the loony-bin of all places! All we were doing was talking!" That much, the Doctor could tell, was true. "Anyway, they came in, guns blazing, and before I know it, I was in one of those timed immobilization force-fields. They drugged her, and carried her off way before the force-field wore off. Said they'd let her go when she was better, whatever that means. As soon as I could move, I came to get you."

The Doctor gave Jack a curt nod and grabbed his jacket, heading out the door. Jack trotted along behind him.

"Where are we going?" Jack asked.

The Doctor didn't break stride, just kept on pushing towards the center of town. "I'm wondering if the hospital here could use another doctor."

*

White light speared through the slit in Rose's eyelids. She scrunched her face up and blocked it with her hands. When the pain receded, Rose cautiously opened one eye, then the other. Looking around, she noticed that she was lying on a mattress of the floor of a calm blue room. It wasn't the first prison to worry about decor that she'd been in, and she knew better than to take it as a good sign. Some of the most horrendous things she'd ever seen had occurred in a room that was designed by a feng shui master.

She pushed herself into a sitting position. A sheet was draped over her which she balled up and threw on the ground, careful not to touch the walls or floor. With the sheet lying, unharmed, on the floor, Rose noticed that she was wearing what looked to be a pair of maroon scrubs. Her clothes, shoes, jewelry, even her TARDIS key were gone. On closer inspection, Rose realized that her bra and knickers had been removed as well.

Hoping that the safe sheet meant the floor wasn't booby trapped, Rose sprang from the bed, infuriated. The cold floor did nothing more insidious than chill her feet. "Oi!" she screamed at the door that was unsurprisingly locked. "Who's the perv who took my stuff? Try that when I'm awake, you wanker!"

There was no response. Rose let loose a few more choice words before settling herself on the mattress to see what she could do. Not all prisons fed their prisoners, and she would need her strength for a jailbreak.

While she was going over her assets, a very short list, the door clicked calmly open. A plump, middle aged woman with graying chestnut hair shuffled in. She clutched a clipboard protectively to her chest.

"Hello. I'm nurse Roberts. Can you tell me who you are?"

"Where am I?" Rose demanded.

"You're with friends. We just want to help you get better. If you can tell me who you are, it'll be easier for us to help you."

The Doctor had once told Rose to give her name if she were captured; it made it easier for him to find her. "I'm Rose," she said sullenly.

"Do you know why you're here, Rose?"

"I don't even know where here is," Rose snapped.

"You're at the hospital."

"The hospital? But I'm not sick!"

Yes," the nurse said gravely with a bit of disgust. "You are."

*

Rose came back from her first session of therapy, working hard not to give into hysteria. Who would have thought she would be literally certifiable for loving the Doctor. She'd known it was crazy for her to love the Doctor when he obviously couldn't love her back. She'd known she had nothing to offer him. But she'd never thought anyone would call her on it.

She didn't believe it at first, but the doctor had pulled down an enormous tome labeled "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders volume XI" and had shown her the page that said, when translated from a mixture of medical speak and legalese, that wanting to have sex with an alien meant she was crazy.

It was all she could do to not grab him and shake him yelling "Have you seen him? How can you not want to shag him into the ground?!"

Still fighting this urge, Rose allowed herself to be escorted back to her room. The absurdity, the surreality of it all must have gotten to her, because she almost thought she could hear the Doctor's Northern accent echoing down the corridors.

*

It had been decades since the Doctor had done proper undercover work. Simply refusing to tell people that he's an alien that come to save their simple little lives wasn't the same as being undercover. At least, it had been decades before Rose came along. Before he met her, he'd gotten into the habit of simply going where he needed to be, blowing up the building, and not even meeting the people he was saving. As soon as she came on board, he'd managed to slip back into the patterns of introducing himself, though he still hadn't gone undercover long term.

It was a pain having to force himself into a hole that needed filling in these people's lives, and he was fortunate that this lot had been dreading the arrival of an inspector from the hospital in the capital. Still, it needed to be done. As tempting as it was, incapacitating the guards, kicking in the door and carrying Rose back to the TARDIS wasn't an option. She could have been put on any of a number of medications, depending on what they thought was wrong with her. As if there was anything wrong with his Rose.

Some of the medications they could put her on she would need to be weaned off of, and some could prove toxic and would need to be flushed out of her system. The Doctor needed to know what she was on, if anything, before bringing her home, or he could kill her. And the only way he could know what medications they gave her was to gain access to her charts.

Proper undercover operations took a patience and a subtlety he lacked, this regeneration. In years long past, the Doctor had been known to wait weeks, even months for information, all the while pretending to be something else. Tonight, however, all of that was forgotten. Whether it was that this Doctor of leather and boots couldn't be bothered, or whether it was that every minute spent waiting was one more minute with Rose being locked away from him, the Doctor didn't care to discover.

This wasn't the first time the Doctor had been afraid of the truth, and, as long as Rose was around, it wouldn't be the last.

When he strode into the hospital's lobby, the Doctor mustered all the arrogance that was his birthright. He could see surprise and anxiety blossom in the staff as they noticed his bearing was that of a man who owned all he sees. Assumptions and whispers were flying before he reached the receptionist. Due to his superior hearing, which these stupid apes couldn't think to anticipate, the Doctor knew everything to say.

"I'm from central. I need to see the chief of medicine." He snapped, not even bothering to look at the person before him.

The young man half saluted before scurrying off, muttering, "Yes, sir. Right away."

The Doctor's heavy soles banged on the tile floor impatiently while he waited. Time lords weren't supposed to fidget when upset (hell, they weren't supposed to get upset), but the Doctor was beyond caring. If tapping his foot kept him from grabbing the chief of medicine by the throat and demanding to know how they could think anything was wrong with Rose, then he would tap away. Besides, this obvious impatience was unsettling the staff, and unsettled people were less likely to question his story.

A slightly overweight man in his late fifties came rushing through the door, his face red. He stopped, panting, and straightened both his tie and his back with assumed dignity. He patted his receding hairline, pushed his glasses up his nose and walked up to the Doctor with a brittle air of calm.

"I'm Dr. Shote," the man said, holding out his hand. "And you are?"

"Unimpressed," the Doctor replied tersely, ignoring the man's proffered hand. "But if you must address me, I'm Doctor Smith. I want you to walk me through your admissions process. Let's start with the last person you admitted."

"Yes, sir. We just got her name. She says she's Rose Tyler. It's a very interesting case."

*

As was to be expected, Jack took a less direct route to gaining information on Rose's condition. A small troupe of nurses was standing outside the hospital, gossiping and smoking.

Turning his charm on full measure, Jack sidled up to the group. "Ladies," he began. "Sir," he added to the one male nurse after a quick but thorough look over. "Captain Jack Harkness with the news." It was vague, as he didn't know what form of news they had here, but Jack delivered his line with confidence and a saucy grin. They were already practically eating out of his hand. He'd almost forgotten the rush of a good con.

Pulling out a small notebook and pen, Jack addressed them with a shade of professionalism. "I heard there was a bit of a to-do down at the bar, earlier tonight. Some of your doctors had to bring someone in? Can you tell me about it?"

"Well," one began with a coy smile. "The bartender called us. He's been trained to let us know if the mercury is getting to someone. Well, this girl who was there was talking to some man." Jack didn't bat an eye at a mention of himself. The nurse opened her mouth to continue, but another interrupted, eager for a turn in the spotlight of Jack's attention.

"She obviously had a sexual disorder, and was crying about it to that poor man."

"Sexual disorder?" Jack asked. "Oh, people will love that! What kind?"

"She wants to sleep with an alien." The male nurse drawled.

It took everything in Jack not to laugh. Fortunately, he was a professional, and thus, he simply asked a question that any reporter would ask in follow up to that statement. "Any alien?" He asked casually, glad the Doctor wasn't there to kill him.

"No a specific one, apparently. Some one she travels with, but only ever refers to as 'the Doctor'."

In order to save his ability to keep a straight face, Jack pushed the thought of the Doctor learning this information to the corner of his mind, and changed the subject slightly. "Why is it considered a disorder for someone to want to have sex with an alien, when the Japanese had pornos with sea-creatures and such with tentacles as far back as the late twentieth century?" He asked, struggling to keep the laughter out of his voice.

"If it causes the patient marked distress, than it is classified as a disorder, In most people, the desire to have sex with an alien is either a passing fancy or something that they're okay with, but when it causes someone to break down in public, than it's something a bit more serious."

"There are other things like that," a blond nurse said. "Did you know that premature ejaculation can be considered a psychological disorder?"

"I've never been in a position to find out." He told them with a smug smirk that made the whole group giggle. "But enough about me, what about this girl? How will she be treated?"

"Well, something like that can't be treated with medicine. Not really. She might be put on an anti-depressant temporarily, and if she continues to be difficult, she might need to be sedated for her own safety, but mostly she'll need therapy to help the underlying causes of her distress."

"How long will that take?"

"Each case is different."

"Well, I only have one more official question. What if she still wanted to shag this 'Doctor,' but was no longer distressed about it? If, for instance, she and this Doctor were to hook up?"

"She'd be free to go. We're not here to pass judgment. We just want to ease her pain."

A whistle sounded and all the nurses stubbed out their fags and scurried off. Except for the male nurse.

"What's your last question?" he asked Jack with a knowing smile.

"How do you know I have one?" Jack asked with an answering smile.

"You said you only had one more official question. So, what is it you want to know off the record?"

Jack's smile became slightly predatory. "What time do you get off tonight?"

"Fifteen minutes ago."

"Perfect."