Jack shot at one of the bulky figures over the wooden barricade he was hiding behind. Blaster fire and grenades exploded all around him, peppering him with debris.

He ducked back behind his barricade and changed out the charge pack in his gun. A lanky man ran up, slipped in the shale, and joined him behind the barricade. The floppy haired individual stared up at him in shock.

"Jack! What are you doing here?" he said in a high pitched, surprised voice.

"Shooting people," Jack said, and took a couple of potshots over the barrier. "Who the hell are you?"

"Jack," the man said with a trace of hurt. "It's me."

"Gonna have to be more specific than that," Jack said, sighting down his gun. "I know a lot of me's."

"Oh, right, the face."

Jack's head whipped around at that. He scanned the man in front of him, young, pretty mouth, thick hair, wearing, good god, a bow tie and tweed. "Doctor?"

The man grinned. "Got it in one."

They hunkered down, cringing, as a strafe of machine gun fire went overhead.

"What the hell are you doing here?" Jack demanded.

"Oh, you know, sightseeing," the man said as he sprawled in the gravel.

Another person tore around the barricade and slid to a halt, slamming her back against the wood. She was wearing a sheepskin jacket and leaned around the end of the barricade to let off a rip of three shots in quick succession. Jack peeked over the wood and saw three figures fall.

"Good shooting," he said.

"Thanks." She turned to look at him. Wildly curly hair, pale catlike eyes, and features so strong they couldn't be pretty and instead were simply. Gorgeous.

Jack gulped. "I can explain about the ship!"

She gave him a baleful look. "I heard." She pointed a familiar gun at him, more gesturing than threatening, but he still cringed. "You get off this time only because you helped him." She waved the gun at the Doctor. The Time Lord grinned.

"But try anything like that again, and I'll be removing a favorite part of your anatomy. And I've got just the gun to do it." She waved the squareness gun at him. Then turned and shot something beyond the barricade.

"I take it you two know each other?" the Doctor said, turning avidly from one to the other, grinning hugely.

"Now is not the time, sweetie," River said, she ducked her head down behind the barricade as a red laserbeam screamed overhead.

"Sweetie?" Jack grinned.

"Never mind that," the Doctor said. "What's going on here?" he waved a hand around at the chaos going on all around them.

Jack shot a grey suited figure that appeared around the edge of the building behind them. "Sontarans," Jack said succinctly. "They found out this colony was furnishing supplies to the Rutans, and took exception."

River snorted. "Hell of a date," she muttered to the Doctor as she turned and let off a few more shots over the barricade.

"Date?" Jack grinned. He watched with glee as the Doctor's ears turned red.

"River..." the Doctor groaned.

"Yes, River..." Jack imitated the Doctor's groan. "Do you share?"

She turned and glared at him. "No."

Jack was taken aback by that possessive glare, he backpedaled. "So," he cleared his throat. "How are we going to get out of this? Where's the Tardis?"

The Doctor jerked his thumb over his shoulder, over the barricade. "Back there, buried in a rockslide."

"Ookay, so no quick exit," Jack said. "Any suggestions?"

"Well, we can't just sit here and play 'Ping the Sontaran' all day," River groused, shooting two more Sontarans as they emerged from the wrecked buildings beyond them. She pointed with her gun, "Over there. There's a clear alley with some cover leading to that warehouse. Stay low, move fast."

She took one last shot. Jack jumped up and threw a spray of fire behind them for a distraction. And they all ran. They ducked and weaved, dodging from crate to post to shattered wall.

River sped into the wide doorway and turned to give them covering fire. Jack turned and ran backwards the last few steps. Picking off Sontarans left, right, and center. The Doctor sprinted into the building between them, as he crossed the threshold he screamed, fell, and slid in a lump on the sawdusty concrete floor.

"Doctor!" River yelled. She laid down a constant stream of fire through the door as she ran to his side. Jack found the controls and hotwired them to close the hydraulic doors, holding his blaster in his teeth as he bypassed the previous blast damage to the panel.

The doors slammed shut with a ponderous thunk. He ran over to the Doctor and River. The Doctor was cussing, or at least what passed for cussing for him.

"Ow, ow ow!" He yelled as River ripped away his pantleg.

"Sorry, honey," River muttered as she examined the bleeding wound on his leg. Jack's eyebrows almost climbed off his head at the soft endearment.

"Why is it always ankles?" the Doctor complained, sitting up and twisting his long gawky legs trying to get a look. He hissed as River sprayed something on the wound.

"How bad is it?" Jack asked.

"Bad enough," River said. She was wrapping the wound with a strip of gauze she'd pulled out of her beltpouch. She was quick and determined, but as gentle as if the wound were mortal. Frankly, she fussed, in her own understated way. Even stranger, the Doctor was letting her. He didn't mutter one complaint.

The whole thing was bizarre. Jack knew River of old. She'd always been a stone-cold bitch. That's what he'd liked about her. Hot, deadly, and sexy as sin.

"There, that should hold it," River said quietly.

The Doctor ran a hand over her hair. "Thank you."

She gave him a shy little smile.

Jack turned away, as if he'd just seen something unbearably intimate.

He whistled, and twiddled with his gun, checking the settings, trying to ignore what he'd just seen, or rather, what he'd just sensed.

There was a hail of thuds on the doors that sounded like rifle butts.

"That door's not going to hold them long," Jack said urgently, turning back to the others. River pulled the Doctor up on his good foot and draped his arm around her shoulders.

"Where's the nearest safe base?" she asked, one arm around his waist, gun clutched in the opposite fist.

"Half a click north. Can he make it?"

The Doctor looked up at him and grinned gamely. "I may not be able to run, but I can hobble with the best of them. Let's go."

The Doctor reigned from his throne of a camp chair with his foot propped up on a footstool. The plan took twenty minutes to set up, three hours to complete, and at the end of it, the Sontaran fleet was limping home in stuttering ships with the energized equivalent of sugared gas tanks.

River had stood at the Doctor's shoulder the whole time, like some sort of medieval general to a lame king. The locals had become amazingly cooperative any time she had scowled at them. Which was generally any time they disrespected the Doctor.

Jack could only admire her style.

"So, kiddies, where are you off to next?" Jack asked, as they watched the locals shift the last of the rubble off the buried Tardis.

"Sickbay," River said, resolutely.

"River..." the Doctor whined.

"Doctor..." River whined right back. "As fast as you heal, we still have to make sure you heal properly. All the running you do, a bad Achilles tendon could get you killed, I'm not having that."

"Yes, nanny," the Doctor pouted, rolling his eyes.

"That's right," River said, herding him toward the Tardis. "Now be a good boy and take your medicine." She gave him a pat on the butt, and he jumped a foot, landing on his bad leg. He swore, and gave her a dirty look.

She grinned sweetly and he unlocked the door and limped inside.

River turned and gave Jack that full blown smile that always made his toes tingle. Probably because she was the only conquest he could never con, or quest with.

"I'm sorry if I gave you the wrong impression of me," she said and reached up and gave him a kiss on the cheek. He smiled his cocky smile.

She pointed her gun up under his nose. "I hear you're immortal now." Her eyes narrowed. "That just means things hurt longer," she warned.

He gulped.

The Doctor stuck his head out of the Tardis door. "River, quit threatening my friends."

"No such thing, honey, just coming to an understanding," she yelled over her shoulder.

He rolled his eyes but disappeared back into the Tardis.

River gave Jack a last glare for good measure, then turned to follow the Doctor.

"River," Jack called. "How long have you known him?"

"Longer than you, sweetcheeks!" she called back, not looking. But she stopped at the door and looked over her shoulder. "And better."

With a wink, they were gone.


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