A/N: This is a companion one-shot to my Torchwood/Doctor Who crossover, Forever Constant, but it can stand on its own, too. It takes place before The Empty Child for the Doctor and Rose, between The Parting of the Ways and Utopia for Jack (so, while he was stranded on Earth for a century, pre-Torchwood Season 1), and it encompasses the time period of Chapter 17 of Forever Constant.
Disclaimer: I do not own Doctor Who.
Police Telephone Boxes
By 1962, Jack had decided: the 60s were hell.
Granted, all decades had their ups and downs. There were the World Wars in the teens and forties, the Great Depression in between. But those were big, worldwide problems and they didn't really affect him if he didn't want them to. The trouble with the sixties, though, was up close and personal – and just could not be ignored. Because in the sixties, there were real Police Telephone Boxes.
Their were lots of them, all over the place. Everywhere he turned, it seemed sometimes. Tall, blue, with phones on the doors and lights on the top. He had to look twice every time he saw one – no matter how often that was – because of the possibilities that just a glimpse created.
It was possible that one of them wasn't real. It was possible that the TARDIS had materialized without him hearing it. Which meant that it was possible the Doctor had come back. Maybe not likely, but possible.
And it was that possibility that made the sixties hell. All through the first half of the century, Jack had been able to focus on other things – a corner of his mind always knew that the Doctor could turn up at any moment, but for the most part he could ignore that. If the Doctor showed up, great, Jack would always be ready. If not, well, life would go on, perhaps forever. He could wait. He could afford to be patient.
Patience was so much harder to come by when an image of the TARDIS taunted him from every street corner.
Not long after the first Police Boxes started filling the streets, Jack began trying to open them whenever he thought he could get away with it. Sometimes, he was wrong on that count; more than once, he was stopped by extremely confused coppers. Who wanted to break in to what was effectively a prison cell?
One time, however, and one time only, he got lucky: he found the real TARDIS.
The difference between this Police Box and all the others was obvious as soon as he reached for his key. The key itself was warm and glowing faintly, but it wasn't just that. He felt something from the key, a sort of pull – like it wanted to get back to the TARDIS, if keys could want anything. Well, he wanted it too.
Sparing less than a moment's thought to wonder what would happen if the Doctor inside were on the wrong part of his time line, Jack brought key to lock and opened the door.
Inside, the control room shone with golden light familiarly. It was empty, but that was to be expected; the Doctor was probably off saving the Earth from something Torchwood wouldn't learn about until after the fact. If then.
Jack tore his thoughts away from the organization that he would hopefully never have to work for again. He was home now – despite the disappointingly short amount of time he'd spent here, he knew nowhere else would ever feel as much like home as the TARDIS had.
Smiling as he hadn't in years, he steeped forward...and immediately jumped back again in shock, grin vanishing. Wave after wave of what he could only describe as hostility were radiating off the central column.
If he had ever doubted that the TARDIS was sentient, he didn't any longer. The pure sense of unwelcoming that he was getting from it – from her – could not come from a machine. "It's all right, it's just me. Jack," he said uncertainly. The Doctor spoke to the TARDIS all the time, but Jack had never done it before. "I'm a friend – a friend of the Doctor. I do have a key," he held it up.
The hostility briefly turned to exasperation. He could almost hear her sigh. Of course you have key, she seemed to say. If you didn't have a key, there's no way you could've gotten in.
"But that's gotta mean I'm ok, right? The Doctor wouldn't give a key to just anyone," Jack pointed out. "He trusts me."
The engines gave a low growl, whether in disagreement or rejection, he couldn't tell – but it was definitely a negative.
"Look, I have been here before!" he told the console angrily. "You're a transdimensional being, time means nothing to you. Even if the Doctor doesn't know me yet, don't you?"
Evidently, she didn't. Or if she did, something had changed drastically since the last time he was here. One thing he knew: he couldn't stay much longer under the constant flow of mistrust and hatred (and even, was it fear?) that still came from the TARDIS.
Stepping outside once again, he couldn't decide where to feel relieved or disappointed. He settled on neither until he learned whether it would've worked out anyway. He still didn't know whether this Doctor had even met him, after all.
It wouldn't be hard to discover – the vortex manipulator had the ability to detect where someone else was on their time line in comparison to his. It was useful, even necessary, for an Agency whose agents time-traveled regularly.
It did need the subjects to be in sight, so he found a place nearby to wait for the Doctor to return. It didn't take too long. It was the regeneration that he knew, and Rose was with him, both good signs. Unfortunately, a scan of Rose (it worked better on humans than Time Lords) told him that they were too early to coincide with him. Not by much though. He thought if was possible that their very next trip could well take them to World War II chasing a Chula ambulance.
He sighed, giving in to disappointment as the one Police Box in Cardiff that wasn't real dematerialized.
Why had the TARDIS reacted to him way she had? It made him wonder whether there was something wrong – whether the Doctor's abandonment on the Game Station might not have been an accident, as he'd long tried to convince himself.
One day, he would find a version of the Doctor who knew the answers and get an explanation from him.
A/N: So, I know next to nothing about the history of Police Boxes. Basically, I know what they've said in Doctor Who. How prevalent they were in Cardiff during this time period, whether they should've been there earlier...yeah, no idea. But you must remember that the Doctor Who universe is not exactly the same as ours, so I'm just going to say that all historical error in this story is due to that. Yay? Yay.