Time and the Trickster
Chapter Fourteen: Christmas Time: New Old Friend
Disclaimer: I do not own Doctor Who or any of the spinoff material and I gain no income off of this story, just the satisfaction of playing with the characters.
"You won't survive this without me," Jack said very seriously. "And that is not a pickup line. The Silver Lord means to kill you tonight and I'm here to make sure that doesn't happen."
Rose stared at Jack trying to decide if he was being honest with her. Strangely her normal instinct to fight or put distance between them wasn't activating. She barely noticed the blood stained into his shirt fade away in a soft golden glow that dissipated a moment later.
"That's a nice trick," she offered softly as she stared at the now clean and crisp fabric.
"It is isn't it," Jack laughed though it didn't reach his eyes. "We need to get moving."
He reached for Rose's hand, but she quickly moved away with a few quick steps backwards into the alley. "Do you honestly expect me to go with you?" Rose hissed before gesturing at the corpse. "You shot him! He's dead!"
"He was going to kill you, Rose," Jack reminded her urgently. "I couldn't let that happen. Trust me! I did what I had to do in order to save you."
"You want me to trust you?" Rose gasped, "I don't even know you."
Jack seemed surprised by her words, but nodded a moment later and pulled his hand back. "I guess you don't," he admitted gently. "This is our first meeting in your timeline, but not in mine." Jack gave her a soft smile. "When I first meet you, Rose, you believed in me when I saw no reason for you to do so. You were my friend from the start even when I made it pretty hard to trust me." Jack grinned and added, "You even defended me to the Doctor. I'm not sure who was more surprised me or him."
Rose glared at Jack and said, "It's not uncommon knowledge that I know the Doctor."
"True," Jack agreed with a nod. "But it isn't common knowledge that you are in a romantic relationship with a future version of him partially because your future-self has disappeared. Even if you recently saw her after her return to the TARDIS which proved to you that you will come back from whatever happens."
Rose refused to react to the words. If he was from the future and this was some kind of trap then he'd probably know that. Jack sighed softly and glanced around to check that no one could see them with the dead body. He turned back to her and gently told her, "Your name is Rose Marion Tyler. You were born on 27th April 1986 to Peter and Jacqueline Tyler. Your father died when he was hit by a car when you were just an infant. Your UNIT ID number is D79 and you currently live at number 22 Bannerman Road when you aren't at school in Cambridge."
Jack smiled at her and continued to speak, "Your best friends after the Doctor are Shareen, Sharon and Eve. Your favourite colour is turquoise, your favourite food is chips and you love tinkering and painting. You like fantasy novels, especially Tolkien, but with your lifestyle, you find most science fiction dull. You keep letters from Eve and the Doctor in a hollowed out copy of the Time Machine. You're a fan of the original Time Machine movie and once told me that if you could use three books to rebuild civilisation you'd use How Things Work, the complete works of William Shakespeare and Siddhartha. You like watching bad science fiction movies to pick them apart and when you do it with the Doctor you two can't stop laughing. You use your translator to watch foreign films so you get the full effect without subtitles. You love to paint imaginary worlds as well as those you've seen so you never lose your imagination even in sight of everything you get to see in your life."
Jack took a step towards Rose as he watched her face soften and become more vulnerable. "You're very kind and generous," he revealed with a smile. "You have a great capacity for forgiveness and try to find the best in everything around you. You're very loyal and don't give up on your friends or family. Part of you has a hard time trusting others in a crisis as it can make you vulnerable or put someone you care about in danger, but you still try. I know that sapphire around your neck was a gift from Jane Grey, someone you couldn't save. And I know that right now even as you face new dangers with the assurance of a future with the Doctor you are still very frightened of getting things wrong." Jack reached out a touched Rose's shoulder. "In short Rose Tyler you are a very strange person, but a great pleasure to know."
"Who are you?" Rose whispered.
Jack smiled and answered, "A friend with a vortex manipulator from his Time Agent days. I know how to travel in time without causing damage to timelines." Jack took her free hand and tugged it gently. "Come on we need to get out of here." Rose didn't fight Jack as he brought her back to the street. He looked up and down the quiet street. "Where's your vehicle?" Jack asked.
Rose pointed down the street and managed to say, "About two blocks that way."
Jack nodded and led the way, not releasing Rose's hand and keeping his eyes tracking the entire street as they walked. They moved quickly and Rose took a chance to study Jack more closely out of the corner of her eye. He was very attractive with a charming smile, but he carried himself like a soldier. Someone who was highly trained and remained aware at all times of what was around him. Her gaze dropped to the wrist where his vortex manipulator was kept. It looked like a wide leather wristband, the sort of thing that wouldn't attract much notice. Rose wondered if Jack was the friend the Eleventh Doctor had borrowed the vortex manipulator he had used from. It fit she realised and helped her calm down a little more.
When they reached the vehicle Jack snatched Rose's keys from her hand and climbed into the driver's side while ignoring Rose's glare. "Trust me," Jack murmured as she glared at him. "I know where we can go to think and talk." Rose huffed but climbed into the passenger side with no further complaint. Jack smiled to himself and started up the car. He looked down at the clock and then at Rose. "Happy Christmas," he said with a grin.
Rose glared down at the clock and couldn't quite help her own smile. "Happy Christmas," she returned with a little smile towards Jack who returned her smile with a full grin.
He drove them away from the area quickly, taking side streets in a direction that Rose was not familiar with. As the lights of London move past her window Rose pulled out the box and studied it.
"Don't open it," Jack warned quickly glancing at her from the driver's seat.
"It's empty," Rose told him with a hint of confusion. "I opened it earlier."
"Did you touch the inside?" Jack asked urgently.
"No," Rose answered now even more confused. "What does that matter?"
"In a few minutes, I'll explain," Jack promised as he returned his focus to the road. "But I want to be away from this area first."
Rose wanted to argue and demand answers now, but the tightness around Jack's mouth and the way his grip tightened on the steering wheel gave her pause. She looked down at the small box and considered the words on it once more.
"Rose, can you solve this little problem? I've taken something precious to all of them. It cannot be returned. What will you sacrifice?"
Jack's reaction to the box only worried her more and Rose settled for slipping it back into her pocket for the time being. She sat back in her seat and looked out the window trying to find landmarks or street signs, anything to give her a sense of where she was. They were actually near the Torchwood building, Rose realised as she spotted the skyscraper in the distance to the right of them, but it didn't seem to be Jack's destination. Suddenly, Rose's phone rang pulling her from her thoughts and observations. She pulled out the mobile and accepted the call without bothering to check the caller.
"Hello?" Rose answered as she rubbed her tired eyes.
"Hello Rose," a male voice taunted on the other end. "It seems you found my puzzle box."
Rose instantly woke up and straightened automatically in her seat. "Silver Lord," she greeted as calmly as she could. "You sound different," she observed.
"New body," the Silver Lord replied calmly. "My native form doesn't exactly blend into your world very well."
"So you're what possessing someone?" Rose questioned, trying to sound casual even if she was extremely angry at the notion.
"Oh don't worry," the Silver Lord chuckled. "Once they are suppressed their brain pattern sort of fades away. I suppose they die, but they aren't aware of what I'm doing for long. I liked the irony of his research expertise."
"You're hideous," Rose growled into the phone.
"Occasionally Rose," the Silver Lord replied without any concern. "So have you figured out what I've done?"
"You've eaten some of their time," Rose hissed. "You are part Chronovore after all."
"Indeed, but not enough to remove them from the timeline like most Chronovores do as I'm sure you remember. No, I drained them based on what I needed to survive each day, sometimes a bit more and sometimes a bit less."
Rose glanced over at Jack. He was looking between her and road but kept driving. "So what do you want Silver Lord."
"Well I want you dead," the Silver Lord answered simply. "I considered a gun, but that seemed too inelegant. Not to mention I'm certain that the Guardians would find a way to bring you back so I needed to find something more creative and permanent."
"Explain," Rose said sharply.
"Those people are in temporal shock from the rapid drain of their temporal energies. I've aged them and they will never wake up unless you save them," the Silver Lord informed her in a calm and smooth voice that caused Rose to shiver. "I did it to attract your attention. They will die because you made me your enemy. The box is very special and will drain your life force, your time, into itself. If the box is then opened near my victims some of their time will be returned and they will wake up. The box will only accept your life energy and no one else's. So will you save them or write this off as a failure, it is your choice and I look forward to it."
The line went dead and Rose slowly took the phone away from her ear. She looked down at the mobile and tightened her fingers around it. Suddenly Jack turned a quick right and Rose looked out the window to see they were in a warehouse district. Jack drove up to a warehouse and stopped the SUV in front of it.
"Wait here," he ordered before climbing out. Quickly he walked over to a door and pulled it open before returning to the jeep. They pulled inside the cold and dark building and he manoeuvred the vehicle so the front was facing the open doorway. Jack parked them a ways back, turned the heat up and flicked on the interior light.
"Alright," Jack announced. "We'll be alright here for a bit."
"He said I could save them," Rose whispered as she pulled out the box. "Is that what you meant about him meaning to kill me?"
"Yes," Jack answered honestly. "This is a trap for you. He knows enough about you to know that you'll try to help these people."
"He said the box will only take my life force," Rose told Jack.
Jack reached over and pulled the box out of her stiff fingers. He examined it for a moment before he opened it carefully. Then he lowered one finger into the box and touched the sides, but nothing happened.
"Well that answers one question," Jack intoned as he carefully closed the box.
Rose slumped back in her seat and looked over at the box in Jack's hand. "What can I do?" she asked in a quiet voice. "I don't want to…" she trailed off for a moment before saying, "I don't want to leave them like that."
"He knows that," Jack pointed out in a dark voice. "In fact, he's counting on it."
Rose thumped her head against the cushioned headrest of her seat and then shook her head. "Damn the Silver Lord," she hissed.
"If you surrender your life energy then the Guardians may not be able to bring you back," Jack remarked thoughtfully as he turned the box over in his hands. "Bringing someone back from the dead is hard, but doable. Life is a just a spark of matter, but the body still needs to have certain energies left in it. Enough of a brain left that the original person is still there."
"And this will drain all of that," Rose questioned. "So I couldn't be brought back."
"Maybe," Jack answered carefully. "I'm sure he'd do his best to make sure that you couldn't just be brought back."
"Or maybe it's a bluff," Rose suggested as she took the box out of Jack's hand, but she didn't open it. "Maybe he figures I won't do it."
"Or maybe he figures that you'll believe that and let it kill you," Jack countered with a frown. "Worse yet is what he's done has attracted attention. That man who tried to kill you for the box was a former Time Agent, like me."
"What's a Time Agent?" Rose asked glancing at the vortex manipulator.
"Time Agents worked for the Time Agency which will exist from the 49th century to the 52nd century. We'd travel in time to ensure certain events played out according to history, occasionally change small things and recover historical treasures." Jack shook his head and added, "the problem was that a lot of agents went rogue over the years and started causing trouble. That one I killed had a history of selling technology out of its time and going after strange things." Jack looked over at Rose and told her, "Believe me he would have killed you."
"I wonder if the Silver lord meant for that to happen?" Rose asked herself.
"Meddling with time can cause ripples to those with the technology to watch for it," Jack snorted. "The TARDIS pays a lot more attention to such things than the Doctor."
"So that's how she figures out where to go," Rose suggested with a laugh and a smile. They both chuckled, but Rose sighed a moment later. "What can I do Jack?"
He tapped the steering wheel and then glanced back over at Rose. "I've got an idea, something you said when you asked me to come."
"What did I say?" Rose questioned, but Jack just smiled.
"Timelines," he reminded her with a wink. "Can't know too much in advance." Jack shifted the SUV into drive and looked over at Rose. "Back to Torchwood, I think."
"Back to…." Rose blinked at him. "Are you crazy! Those people can't get ahold of this or your vortex manipulator."
"Do you trust me?" Jack asked as he drove the jeep towards the warehouse entrance.
Rose looked over at him as he stopped the vehicle right outside their hiding place. Jack met her gaze without any hesitation. Slowly Rose nodded and said, "Yes I trust you."