Fixed Point

Author: Milady Dragon

Disclaimer: Not mine, sorry...

Author's note: And here we are, the first chapter of Dragon-Verse: The Year of the Toclafane. This first part is a one-shot, dealing with Jack meeting the Doctor once more. Hope you enjoy!

Unknown Time, Hundreds of Trillions of Years in the Future, the planet Malcassairo

There was pain, then darkness.

Then the inevitable agony of resurrection.

Pulling as much air into his lungs as possible, Jack surged upward, surprised to find an attractive woman kneeling next to him, wearing clothes that would have been right at home in Cardiff in what he now considered his home time. It took him a few precious seconds to regain his wits; as he did so the woman began to speak, revealing an obvious London accent. Of course, she would be the Doctor's current companion.

"It's all right," she said soothingly, sounding very much like a doctor would sound…well, any doctor but Owen, that was. "Just take deep breaths, I've got you."

Jack smiled charmingly, despite his body aching from his unprotected trip through his Vortex. "Captain Jack Harkness…and who are you?" He could practically hear Ianto's eyes rolling all the way to wherever they were.

"Martha Jones," she answered, blushing slightly.

"Nice to meet you, Martha Jones," he said sincerely.

"Oh, don't start."

Jack looked up at the voice. The man in the brown trench coat had to be the Doctor; it was the same man who'd been at Canary Wharf and who'd saved the world from the Daleks and the Cybermen. He was very different from the one Jack had known, but then that had been the point of him waiting in Cardiff for as long as he had to find a regeneration he could interact with and not damage the time lines.

His tone irritated Jack; it was as if he was being told off like an errant schoolboy. His own Doctor would have made the warning sound playful, and would have made a joke of it. Regeneration really was a bitch.

"I was just saying hello," he angrily snapped, but his tone didn't seem to affect the Time Lord at all.

"I don't mind," Martha said, grinning. She helped him up.

He got a look around at his surroundings. It was like a wasteland, cold and gloomy, not a sound traveled and no wind blew through the skeletal brush that somehow survived in the rocky ground. Jack couldn't help but shiver, the desolation settling into his bones. And the sky…it was as empty as the landscape was, black as pitch, only a very few stars visible and those flickering pitifully. He wondered where they were…when they were, for it to be like this.

Jack reached down to pick up the backpack that had somehow come off in transit. He stood, staring at the Doctor coldly, already not much liking this version. "Doctor."

"Captain," the Doctor acknowledged, simply standing there with his hands in his trouser pockets.

"Good to see you." It was, despite the irritation he was feeling. He put it down to finally seeing the one person who could give him answers as to his condition, and ignored it.

"And you," the Doctor sounded a little less frosty, but there was something still in his tone that Jack couldn't put his finger on. "Same as ever…although…have you had work done?"

What the hell? Even if Jack had been into that sort of thing, it would have reversed the first time he'd died after the actual surgery. "You can talk!" he exclaimed, his surprise obvious.

"Oh yes," the Doctor said. "Regeneration. How did you know it was me?"

Jack jabbed a thumb over his shoulder, toward the TARDIS. "The police box kinda gives it away." He looked at the man the Doctor had become, wishing he could see the previous Doctor in him. Still, this would make the confrontation a bit easier, since he appeared to be talking to a virtual stranger. "I've been waiting for you for a long time," he accused, not able to keep the hurt out of his voice. "You abandoned me."

"Did I?" the Doctor asked, sounding completely blasé about it. "Busy life. Moved on."

Just like that, the Doctor washed his hands of Jack. It hurt, more than he would have thought. Jack had hoped that, perhaps, the Doctor hadn't known he was alive; that he and Rose had left because they'd believed Jack had been exterminated by the Daleks. Yet here, the Time Lord was practically admitting that he'd known that Jack had been left behind. No remorse; no sorrow.


Suddenly, Jack didn't want his answers anymore. He rubbed the ring on his finger; the ring Ianto had given him, as he'd sung to him, as an outward sign of his commitment to Jack. He wanted to go home, to Ianto; to curl up next to his mate and let out the pain he was feeling. This wasn't at all how he'd imagined it; for so long, he'd thought about leaving with the Doctor, believing he'd be welcome, and having more adventures while the Doctor fixed whatever it was that made him unable to die. But, after acknowledging his feelings for his dragon, he'd realized that his place was on Earth, and that he'd only be gone long enough to get his answers.

Now, he wasn't even sure he would be getting those.

But this Doctor wasn't his. This Doctor, by his body language, was uncomfortable with Jack's very presence. This wasn't the Doctor that Jack would have gladly given his life for; and in fact, had, trying to buy him enough time to stop the Daleks. He hadn't sacrificed himself for this particular Time Lord.

However, this particular version of the Doctor hadn't done the actual abandoning, either. He was simply agreeing with it, which made Jack's own Doctor just as bad. It was as if Jack was finally seeing the truth behind his hero, and it was horrible. Jack wanted to curl up and scream at the unfairness of it all.

Life wasn't fair, though. Just looking at his own existence, that much was obvious. At least though he still had Ianto waiting for him.

There was one thing he did need to know, however. "I have to ask: about Canary Wharf. I saw the list of the dead. It said Rose Tyler."

Now, that brought a grin on the Doctor's face. "Oh! No, sorry…she's alive."

Relief and joy slammed through him. When he'd seen Rose's name…she hadn't deserved to die at the hands of the Cybermen or Daleks. "Really?" he gasped, unable to hide his own happy grin. She'd been his friend, the one who'd really believed in him, and knowing that she was fine took a huge weight from his shoulders.

"Parallel world," the Doctor answered. "All safe and sound. And Mickey! And her mother!"

The sudden urge to hug the Doctor hit him, but he stayed his ground. There was still being abandoned between them, and the hurt was stronger than the relief at Rose's survival.

Instead, he nodded. "That's fantastic!" he said in relief.

"Well," the Doctor said, clapping his hands together, "how about we explore? It's not often you get to see the end of the universe!" With that, he turned and strode off.

Well, that explained the when.

"Actually," Jack replied, "I'd like to go home now." He'd leave the Doctor's hand with him, and go back to his life in Cardiff… and to his dragon. He really had no desire to look around; the place was far too gloomy, and wasn't helping his mood.

The Doctor stopped in his tracks. "You're not serious," he scoffed, his eyes wide.

Martha was looking between the two of them, her pretty face confused. Jack couldn't blame her.

"I'm sorry," he said, even though he really wasn't, "but all I wanted to do was catch you long enough to get some answers. I have my own life now, and I really would like to get back to it." Before, he would have gone off with the Doctor happily, no questions asked. But now…

"I can have you back in Cardiff before we even left," the Doctor said.

Jack thought he was trying too hard.

He rolled his eyes. "Please. You can't navigate the TARDIS at the best of times. I'm supposed to believe you care enough about getting me back to my own time to make an effort like that?" He hadn't meant for it to come out the way it had, but he honestly didn't think the Doctor did care.

The flinch told him that he'd hit some sort of target.

"C'mon," the Time Lord coaxed, "what's in Cardiff that you can't wait a little bit to see?"

Jack stood up a bit straighter. "Someone I love very much. And I would like to see them again before the turn of the next century." He didn't want to tell this man about Ianto. The dragon was his, and it wasn't any of the Doctor's business who his mate was. Hell, he didn't think the Doctor would even understand.

The Doctor looked surprised by the answer. "Someone's actually managed to tie Jack Harkness down? I don't believe it."

Jack stared him right in the eye. He was flabbergasted that the Doctor obviously didn't think he was capable of being happy in a relationship. Certainly, Jack was well aware of how he'd acted back when he'd traveled with his Doctor and Rose, but why was it so impossible to accept that he could find someone to settle down with?

"Fine," he answered. "I'll just wait in the TARDIS for the pair of you to get back, shall I?" Jack was genuinely insulted, and it wasn't just the Doctor's attitude toward Jack's own ability to find happiness. No, it was the Time Lord's complete dismissal of him, admitting that he'd abandoned him on the Gamestation without even checking to see if he was alive or dead. He didn't want to spend any more time in the Doctor's company than he had to.

Turning his back on the Doctor and Martha, Jack marched over to the TARDIS, pulling out his keyring, where he'd kept his own TARDIS key. Laying a hand on the blue wood, Jack let the time machine's presence wash over him, welcoming him back.

But there was something else: a feeling of great sorrow, as if she was apologizing for something. "What is it?" he murmured, stroking down the door, hoping she could be more communicative with him. They'd always had a bit of a rapport, and Jack loved her fiercely…just as she did him. There weren't actually words involved, but Jack could understand what she was trying to tell him.

He was meant to be there.

Jack might give the Doctor grief about not landing where he always said he would, but he knew it was really all up to the TARDIS, which is something he didn't think the Time Lord quite understood. There'd been times when traveling with him and Rose that Jack had gotten the distinct impression that the time machine knew exactly what she was doing in having them at certain places, and at just the right time to stop the bad things from happening.

She seemed to sense that he understood, and the TARDIS pulled away, leaving Jack to his own thoughts. Well, if she wanted him there, it must be important.

Shoving his keyring back into his pocket, Jack turned back to the Doctor. The Time Lord looked stunned, as if he'd just seen something he hadn't expected. "Well," Jack said, hitching the backpack onto his shoulders, "what are we waiting for?"

Jack trusted the TARDIS; even though he got the feeling what was going to happen would not be good.

When he looked back on this moment, when things were as dark as they possibly could be and he'd just endured another seemingly session of agony with the Master, he would think about how he'd trusted the TARDIS to put them where they'd needed to be. How angry he'd been with the Doctor for the way he'd finally explained just how Jack had become immortal; how he'd been told that, basically, his very presence made the Time Lord ill, and how he shouldn't have existed, acting as if it were Jack's own fault that he was unable to stay dead when it had actually been because a well-meaning young girl had taken on a God-like power and had messed it all up.

Jack would also think of a certain dragon, and how Ianto had accepted him no matter what, and had loved him for who he was. Ianto had changed his life for the better, and not the Doctor as he'd always maintained, and had supported him throughout everything in their too-short seven years together. Jack would reflect on just how many of those years he'd wasted on a dream that had become a nightmare, when the one being he'd thought would accept him had pissed their previous friendship away.

He knew Ianto would be out there fighting, and hoped that the so-called plan the Doctor had cooked up would work, because his trust in the Doctor had been severely damaged by events on Malcassairo. He would keep on playing the role of the slave, and the test subject for a madman in exchange for the Master leaving the Jones family alone.

He really wanted nothing more than to see his dragon, and to go home to his family.

But certain things had to happen.

They were a fixed point.

Just like Jack was.