Jack's thoughts and questions to the TARDIS. The next chapter, which should be up shortly, will jump ahead to several weeks into Nine's human existence.
All four humans turned to face the newcomer who was smiling broadly and, for lack a better term, sizing them up with the art of a professional. He sauntered over to the Console, fully aware that they were watching him, and caressed the coral. "Hello there, gorgeous. And who might all of these fine folks be?"
JackHarkness, this is BridgadierGeneralAlastorLeth bridgeStewart, the screen read and the TARDIS spoke in his mind and a light from the console shown on the distinguished-looking older gentleman standing closest to the monitor. Jack gave him a short salute. This is his MATE, DorisLethbridgeStewart, the TARDIS continued, shining the light on an attractive older woman with iron gray hair, leaning on the word 'mate' in Jack's mind with a heavy prod, leaving Harry and Benton to wonder why the word "mate" was bolded and in capital letters, although Alistair had no such wonders as Jack stepped forward and laid a deep kiss on the back of Doris' hand, winking at her cheekily.
This is HarrySullivanMD, another light shone and a handshake, although it looked as if Jack was sorely tempted to kiss Harry's hand as well which made Harry shift uncomfortably and Benton snicker, and this is JohnBenton, the TARDIS finished.
Just as John's name was fading from the screen, another message popped up. And none of them have the slightest interest in engaging in sexual intercourse with you, the screen chastised, making Harry sputter, John snort, Doris raise her eyebrows and Alistair scowl.
"Aww, you take all my fun away," Jack complained light-heartedly, swaggering over to stroke the console. If the TARDIS had eyes, she would have rolled them. As it was, a wave of affectionate exasperation washed over them.
I need to speak with JackHarkness, the screen read next, So if I may ask for the rest of you to retire to the house. I believe DorisLethbridgeStewart has been planning a lovely meal for you all for the past few moments. I'm sure she could use some assistance, the TARDIS finished. Alistair cast one last slightly mistrustful look over his shoulder at Jack and then followed the other three out the door.
Once they were gone, Jack dropped his charming mask and placed his hand on the console again. "What's wrong, old girl? Why am I here? Where is she? Unless you're responsible for this?" he asked, pulling a postcard from his greatcoat pocket. Written on it in a flowing girlish script he could have recognized anywhere in the universe was the date, time, and address of this manor. In the upper left corner was a stamp of a howling wolf.
The Golden One? The one who will save us? She is not here, the TARDIS replied, sadly.
"Where is he then? Last time I saw him...he was in bad shape. He needs her," Jack said, softly, remembering manic mood swings and dead eyes. Jack had waited and waited for the Doctor to show up once again and when he finally had, investigating some unusual activity at the Cardiff rift where Jack had set up base, the Time Lord had been a distraught mess. "Is that why I'm here? Can we bring her back?"
The TARDIS saw in Jack's mind his memory of the slightly wild sad-eyed brown-haired man that would follow the one she had currently asleep in the MedBay and she allowed herself a moment of pity for him. But she was going to fix it. Her Thief would not suffer much longer. She would make sure of it.
He is here, came the reply. But it is not as simple as you might think, the TARDIS replied.
"It never is," Jack sighed.
It is time that you lived out the past as it was meant to be for him, the TARDIS said, cryptically. She was old, much older than her Thief and Jack and she had seen what would come for them. She could see the past, the present and the future and, tangled as it was at the moment, the Timelines would eventually straighten and the future would stabilize. Only the best for her Thief and her Rose.
"What do you mean?" Jack asked cautiously.
The Doctor here is not the one you most recently met. He is, as the Golden One calls him, your first Doctor, the TARDIS replied. Jack's breath caught in his chest. That meant that this TARDIS wasn't the one he knew either. It was an earlier version.
"What have you done?" he asked, stroking the console.
I have done only what was necessary. You forget, JackHarkness, that I see everything that is, everything that was, everything that ever could be. I know what is and is not supposed to happen and what has and has not happened to him. And this has always been part of his past/future.
"But I can't meet him now! He didn't know me when we first met! Hell, he didn't even like me, then."
That is because he saw you as a rival for the Golden One's affections, the TARDIS replied. And because you almost wiped out the entire human population, she added as an afterthought.
"And we both know which of those was the biggest offense," Jack muttered.
No need to be petty, JackHarkness, it does not become you. Once he is no longer human, he will forget this experience until a later date, until it is safe for him to remember you both and everything will work out as it should. I have seen to it.
"Hold on!" Jack said, as his brain attempted to short out. "What do you mean 'no longer human' and what do you mean 'both'? And who are all those other people?"
The TARDIS sighed and once again explained, for the third time, what had happened to the Doctor. Jack put his head in his hands. "I can't believe he tried…I mean, I know it was rough on him. I've been through wars, I've seen soldiers but…he never seemed that bad when I knew him," Jack finally answered.
You met him after Her, the TARDIS replied. She helped heal him in ways even he did not understand although if you have seen the future him without Her, you may have some idea of what he was like. She made him care and She made him try. She gave him a reason to live once again, a hand to hold and a heart to love. And I will not let him be without Her. She needs him and he needs Her. I need Her. I will have Her, the TARDIS finished emphatically, the air around him growing agitated.
Jack was silent for a moment, considering everything the TARDIS had told him. A human Doctor, huh? Without the stiff Time Lord morals, maybe he'd have a chance to…
He is not for you, JackHarkness, the TARDIS said forcefully, sending a slight electrical shock to the fingers that were resting on the console. And neither is She.
"Ouch!" Jack said, stuffing his fingers in his mouth. "I was just kidding!"
You were not, the TARDIS countered.
"Ok, ok, I wasn't. But I won't do anything. You haven't lived through it yet, but trust me, I knew from my first step onto this ship that neither of them were ever going to be mine, no matter how hard I tried," Jack said, sighing again. "I wasn't going to stand in the way of a love like that. Especially considering how hard they were trying to stand in their own way."
He tentatively laid his fingers back on the console once again. "So she's coming then? Rose is coming?" he asked, almost afraid for the TARDIS' answer, almost afraid to hope for his precious friend back.
Before she could reply, the main door opened once again and Doris came striding in, followed closely by Alistair who had insisted on accompanying her in the conman's presence, much to the amusement of Harry and Benton.
"Jack, was it?" she said, warmly. "Dinner is up."
"Sounds great," Jack said, turning his most winsome smile on her and then on Alistair. "Lead the way!" He followed the two humans out the door and once he was gone, the TARDIS gave a mental sigh. There was still so much to accomplish...and Her Thief was still shouting at her from his watch.
She chose to ignore him and stretched her consciousness out through Time and Space, searching and searching for the golden light that would signify Her Rose. She needed Her. His taut and teetering Timeline and thus the future existence of Time itself, depended on the Golden One.
She will come, the TARDIS thought to no one in particular. She has to come.