Jack and Rose waited for about ten minutes before the Doctor came into the diner. He was holding a blue envelope in his hand, staring at it in confusion. Rose smirked. The other Doctor, the older one, would have been expecting her. This one? Well, she was looking forward to the look on his face.
"Doctor?" She stood carefully, and the Doctor stopped dead to stare at her.
"No," he muttered.
"Excuse me?" Rose asked.
"No, I can't be seeing this again." He reached forward, extended a finger and poked her in the shoulder. "Oooo, solid, worse than usual," he added. "Dreaming, maybe?"
"Ahem," Jack joined Rose standing in front of him. "Doctor."
"We-ell, less likely to hallucinate that," the Doctor muttered to himself. Jack and Rose exchanged amused looks.
"Doctor," Rose said. "You're not hallucinating."
"How'd you get here?" the Doctor asked blankly, clearly not convinced. Clearly sure that if he believed that she was real and gave her the hug that he was dying to give her, she would dissolve into nothing in his arms.
Rose waved the heavy black bracelet on her wrist in his direction. "Dimension cannon," she explained. "This—" she produced the TARDIS-blue envelope—"came flying through the void, popped out in Bad Wolf Bay, clearly addressed to me. And I have quite the reputation at Torchwood, they wouldn't touch it without my permission. As soon as I touched this thing," she opened the envelope and pulled out the metal-and-wire contraption, handing it to him carefully, "the cannon activated and I found myself in Jack's living room."
"That's genius," the Time Lord breathed, eyeing the metal capsule. "Didn't have to pierce the void itself, just make a connection with the technology that you already had, and repaired the holes in the universe that it left behind you—" he seemed to realize that he was wasting time babbling when Rose Tyler was here before him, and stopped dead, shoved the metal bit and the envelope into Jack's waiting hands, and surged forward to wrap her in a hug.
"Rose," he breathed desperately into her hair.
"Doctor," she said, burying her face in the junction where his neck met his shoulder and melting into the hug.
"Oh, Rose," he said again. When people began staring and it didn't appear that they were planning on separating anytime soon, Jack carefully moved forward and pried them apart.
"People are staring, Doctor," Jack sung. "Come on, let's sit down."
Jack slid into one side of the booth, and Rose and the Doctor took the other. "What's going on?" The Doctor said.
"We've been invited here," Rose said. "Well, except for Jack, he's just sort of a tagalong."
"Yes, but what for?"
Rose shrugged helplessly. "I've no idea. I'm sure that there must be other people, too, maybe they'll know. Maybe whoever sent the invitations will dispense with the cloak and dagger bit and show up to tell us why he wants us here."
Not likely. But the Doctor couldn't know that.
"Rose," the Doctor began carefully. "What happened to the other me? Did he come with you? Did you get ripped away from him? Because if you want to go back, I can—" he was cut off by Rose smacking him hard on the arm.
"Doctor! Don't be ridiculous. I've got nothing to go back to. John—the other you, I mean—he died, Doctor. He aged and died... and I didn't."
"How?" The Doctor gaped at her.
"Bad Wolf. I'm like Jack, sort of. Or, maybe the best way to describe it would be a hybrid between Jack and you. I don't die, I heal. There's this song, and gold light, exactly like when you regenerate, but my whole body doesn't change or anything, I just heal."
"Rose... How long?"
"It's been one-hundred and twenty years since you left me on Bad Wolf Bay the second time," Rose said.
Rose shook her head. "I—I married him. Lived with him, had my fairytale with him, Doctor. I don't regret it. And I know why you didn't say it. I was mad, at first, but now all that I can say is thank you."
They seemed quite happy to ignore Jack entirely, but Jack had suffered through far too much UST when he had been travelling with them to get in the way when they were finally on the verge of working out this mess. The Doctor leaned forward and rested his forehead on hers.
"It's been far too long, and this sentence needs saying. Rose Tyler... I love you. Always. Forever."
Rose blinked back sudden tears, literal years of daydreams of him saying those exact words to her, and now she had heard it twice from him, on the same day. "Quite right, too," Rose managed through the lump in her throat.
The Doctor chuckled.
"I love you too, Doctor," Rose said.
"How long are you going to stay with me?" He asked her. And even though he had to know the answer now, he still awaited her response with baited breath.
"Forever," Rose replied.
Then their lips connected in what seemed to be a shower of literal sparks. Jack could practically hear the cheesy romantic music playing in the background. And it had only taken two new faces, marriage, two different incidents wherein one of them was trapped in another dimension and a whole multitude of alien uprisings and saved planets to get them to the point that everyone had known they were going towards all along.
Hell, even a Dalek had figured it out—Jack had been told all about the incident in Van Statten's basement, and he, unlike the oblivious Rose and the Doctor, had quickly seen (and agreed with) what the Dalek had—namely that the Doctor was in love with Rose, and that she very clearly felt the same.
The Doctor set his envelope on the table and slid out of the booth with a ridiculous amount of enthusiasm, babbling about bendy straws that made drinks fizzier and bolted out the back door of the diner.
"Some things never change, Rosie," Jack said.
"Clearly not," Rose agreed, laughing indulgently at the Doctor's retreating form.
The front door of the diner opened with a ringing bell, admitting the three people from earlier. Amy looked utterly dumbstruck, as if some major belief in her world had just been challenged, and Rory wasn't much better. River was less wrecked, but clearly her mind was working in overdrive, trying to figure out the Doctor's motivations, his plans, trying to put together the pieces of a puzzle that she only had half of.
"You got 3, I was 2, Mister Delaware was 4," River was saying as she entered, brandishing the envelope in one hand.
"So, where's 1? Is it Rose? That doesn't quite fit, somehow. He trusts Rose more than anyone that I know, but..."
"And who is Rose, anyway?" Rory asked.
"The woman that he loves," River said absently.
"What, you think he invited someone else?"
"Well, he must have. He planned all of this, to the last detail," she said.
"What about Jack?" Rory blushed at the talk of Jack, but persevered with his point.
"Thing is, Rory, I don't think that Jack got one at all. He wouldn't have needed to send Jack one, he expected him to tag along with Rose. Like he didn't send you two separate letters, you just got one together. It's rather well-known—or will be, anyway—that Jack Harkness will follow Rose Tyler anywhere."
"Hang on. I thought that you said that the Doctor was in love with Rose? And also, if Jack is with Rose—very Titanic, by the way, it works—then why did he sleep with us?"
River burst out laughing. "Jack slept with you over a hundred years ago, according to his own linear timeline," she explained. "It happened less than three months ago for you, but for him, it happened before he ever even met the Doctor, which was a long time ago. And Jack and Rose aren't together romantically, they're—it's very difficult to explain. I wouldn't say that they're like brother and sister, because there's far too much flirting in that relationship for me to ever say that they're like siblings. Pack. They're Pack. She's the Wolf, and he's a part of her Pack."
"I'm so confused," Rory muttered. "How could it possibly have been over a hundred years ago for him? He hasn't aged a day! Does this have anything to do with the fact that you killed him earlier?"
"He's immortal, Rory. He cannot die, he's a fixed point in time. But, beyond Jack, what was the Doctor planning?"
"Will you two shut up? It doesn't matter," Amy said. She leaned one hand against the back of a booth, staring into the distance.
"He was up to something," River said.
"He's dead," Amy murmured, in the same empty tone.
"Space, 1969. What did he mean?"
"You're still talking, but it doesn't matter," Amy continued.
"Hey, it mattered to him," Rory assured her.
"So it matters to us," River said, finality clear in her tone. She finally spotted Jack and Rose and started towards them, placing one hand on Amy's back to herd her along and trusting that Rory would follow his wife.
"He's dead," Amy repeated.
"But he still needs us. I know. Amy, I know. But right now we have to focus."
"Look," Rory said. There were two envelopes on Jack and Rose's table. Rose picked hers up and angled it so that River could see the number embossed onto it.
"Zero, of course," River breathed. "He trusts her more than anyone, ever, in the entire mutliverse, anyone in reality. But who does he trust most in the universe? The Doctor knew he was going to his death, so he sent out messages. When you know it's the end, who do you call?"
"Er, your friends. People you trust."
"Number 1. Who did The Doctor trust the most?"
Then the back door swung open, admitting the Doctor himself, carrying three bendy straws.
"This is cold. Even by your standards, this is cold," River said dully, staring at him in astonishment. She had thought that he cared more for Amy especially, than to make her watch that.
"Or hello, as people used to say," the Doctor said cagily.
"Doctor?" Amy asked.
"I just popped out to get my special straw. It adds more fizz," the Doctor said. "Here, Rose!" Rolling her eyes, Rose slid out of the booth and took the three straws from him before setting them gently on the table.
"You're okay. How can you be okay?" Amy asked numbly. She stepped forward into his arms, clinging to him soundly.
"Hey, of course I'm okay. I'm always okay. I'm the King of Okay. Oh, that's a rubbish title. Forget that title. Rory the Roman! That's a good title. Hello, Rory." He gave Rory a hug, which Rory barely returned before the Doctor pulled away again. "And Doctor River Song. Oh, you bad, bad girl. What trouble have you got for me this time? Ooo, we should stop that now, I've got a—" He gestured at Rose. River smirked.
"She doesn't mind, Doctor."
"I don't understand," Amy muttered.
"He's saying that he shouldn't flirt with me anymore, because she's here. Speaking of, Doctor, don't you think that you should introduce us your ladylove?" River asked. She glared at Amy and Rory when they went to say that they'd sort of already met, though the future version of the Doctor hadn't exactly bothered with introductions.
"Right, of course! Rose Tyler, Jack Harkness, meet Amy and Rory Pond and Doctor River Song."
Jack smirked, a look of unholy glee lighting up his face. River really wanted to kiss him, right then, but resisted the urge. She knew exactly what he was about to reveal. "Already met the Ponds, Doctor. Remember that story that I always used to tell, about the time that I got sentenced to death and woke up with both of my executioners?"
Predictably, this version of the Doctor was as horrified as the older one had been. "Executioners? Amy! Rory!"
River took this opportunity to change the subject and vent some of her frustration with his older self, since he wasn't exactly around to slap. It would all make sense to him, one day. She slapped him hard enough to send his head snapping to the side.
"Okay. I'm assuming that's for something I haven't done yet," the Doctor said, making several different faces.
"Yes, it is," River snapped.
"Good. Looking forward to it." She barely hid her wince.
"I don't understand. How can you be here?" Rory asked. Come on, Rory! Use your brain! Sometimes, her father wasn't exactly the brightest bulb in the bunch. Rory stepped forward and poked the Doctor in the chest.
"I was invited. Date, map reference. Same as you lot, I assume, otherwise it's a hell of a coincidence," the Doctor said. Amy turned to her, such trust in her eyes, even now, unaware of who she was.
"River, what's going on?" Amy asked.
"Amy, ask him what age he is," River instructed, having long since figured it out.
"That's a bit personal," the Doctor said mildly.
"Tell her. Tell her what age you are," River snapped, at the end of her rope. At least Jack was there for her to shoot. If she hadn't gone and used up her ammo uselessly firing at that astronaut. She had no idea what was going on—bits and pieces that weren't coming together, flashes that weren't fitting. Something here was very much not right, and she didn't like it one bit.
"Nine hundred and nine," the Doctor said promptly.
"Ridiculous old man, lying about your age," Rose said, grinning through her teeth.
"Yeah, but you said you were—" she started to protest, not giving the Doctor a chance to respond to Rose—when they got started, God help anyone that tried to pry them apart. "So where does that leave us, huh? Jim the fish? Have we done Jim the fish yet?" she interrupted herself.
"Who's Jim the fish?" Agghh!
"I don't understand," Amy said blankly.
"Yeah, you do," Rory corrected, trying to comfort her.
"I don't! What are we all doing here?"
"We've been recruited. Something to do with space 1969, and a man called Canton Everett Delaware the third," River said, gathering her wits so as to reply calmly.
"Recruited by who?"
" Someone who trusts you more than anybody else in the universe. But, of course, not the multiverse," she added, gesturing to Rose. "But that's to be expected."
"And who's that?"
"Spoilers," she managed, forcing herself to utter a line that was usually fun, taunting and flirtatious, even if today it just left a sour taste in her mouth.
They got to the TARDIS, and Rose burst through the doors and went straight for the console, seemingly without even noticing that the interior had changed since the last time that she had seen it. She dropped to her knees next to it, and the TARDIS hummed in greeting under her palms.
Then she turned around and walloped the Doctor with a smack that rivaled River's earlier.
"Hey! What is it with you people today?" The Doctor cried, wounded.
"Old girl says that you still use that blasted mallet on her," Rose reprimanded. "I could hit you with that instead, if you like?" She pulled said mallet off of its hook and brandished it at him. The Doctor backed away.
"I wouldn't have to, if she actually took me where I wanted to go!"
"She takes you where you need to go," Rose said primly. River resisted the urge to burst out laughing. The only person in the world that could keep that man in line.
"1969, that's an easy one! Funny, how some years are easy. Now, 1482, full of glitches. Now then, Canton Everett Delaware the third. That was his name, yeah? How many of those can there be? Well, three, I suppose. Rose, do you know why they're all acting weird?"
"I don't know how they act normally, Doctor," Rose said, amused. "I just met them, remember?" River followed Amy down to underneath the console, to find her mother, so small and distraught, but strong, sitting cross-legged on the floor.
"Explain it again," Amy said desperately.
"The Doctor we saw on the beach is a future version, two hundred years older than the one up there," River repeated herself, repeated with Amy already knew.
"But all that's still going to happen. He's still going to die," Amy said.
"We're all going to do that, Amy." Except, maybe Jack. But—'Everything has its time, and everything dies.' The Bad Wolf had said that, right before she made Jack immortal.
"Everything has its time, Amy, and everything dies," River quoted, crouching next to her mother and placing a hand on her knee. "A very wise, strong, powerful being once said that."
River smiled softly. "No. Rose." River snorted. "Right before she pushed the Time Vortex right through the brain of the Dalek Emperor, and turned his entire fleet to dust. She reached through time, erased him from existence. Then she gave Jack life. And that is why Jack will follow her anywhere."
"I thought you weren't allowed to tell us this stuff?" Amy asked, confused.
"That's already happened, Amy," River explained. "I wasn't there. It was just the Doctor, two faces ago, Jack and Rose herself. He hadn't met me yet. I only know about it because Rose told me. But we're all going to die.
"We're not all going to arrange our own wake and invite ourselves," Rory objected as he joined them. "So, the Doctor, in the future, knowing he's going to die, recruits his younger self and all of us to, to what, exactly? Avenge him?"
"Uh huh. Avenging's not his style. And if we succeeded in killing whatever it is that killed him before it happened, then it didn't happen, and he didn't invite us here. Paradox. This is a closed loop, a stable circular paradox. The older version of him invited us here because he remembered us being here, and he remembered his younger self being here. Rose and Jack, I'm not entirely sure about—something's changed, I'm sure, because his older self didn't seem to remember them. But the timelines feel okay, which means that the parts that matter will still happen as they need to."
"Save him," Amy suggested.
"Yeah, that's not really his style either," Rory muttered.
"We have to tell him," Amy said insistently. River held back her groan. Why did he have to go and die and leave her to deal with all of the dirty work?
"We've told him all we can. We can't even tell him we've seen his future self. He's interacted with his own past. It could rip a hole in the universe," River said patiently.
"Yes, but he's done it before," Amy said.
"And in fairness, the universe did blow up," Rory pointed out.
"But he'd want to know," Amy protested. River cursed whatever force out there had made Amy Pond so bloody stubborn.
"Would he? Would anyone?" She returned.
"I'm being extremely clever up here, and there's no one but Rose and Jack to stand around looking impressed! What's the point in having you all?" The Doctor called from above.
"Couldn't you just slap him sometimes?" River said exasperatedly.
"River, we can't just let him die. We have to stop it. How can you be okay with this?" Amy asked insistently.
"The Doctor's death doesn't frighten me. Nor does my own. There's a far worse day coming for me," River said ominously. They all filed up the stairs, to find the Doctor circling the console, Rose's hand clutched in his own and Jack leaning against one of the railings with casual negligence.
"Time isn't a straight line. It's all bumpy wumpy. There's loads of boring stuff like Sundays and Tuesdays and Thursday afternoons. But now and then there are Saturdays. Big temporal tipping points when anything's possible. The TARDIS can't resist them, like a moth to a flame. She loves a party, so I give her 1969 and NASA, because that's space in the sixties, and Canton Everett Delaware the third, and this is where she's pointing," the Doctor said, spinning the scanner around.
"Washington D.C., April the eighth, 1969. So why haven't we landed?" Amy asked.
"Because that's not where we're going," the Doctor snapped.
"Oh. Where are we going?"
"Home. Well, you two are. Off you pop and make babies. And you, Doctor Song, back to prison. And me? I'm late for a biplane lesson in 1911. Jack and Rose can come with, I'm sure they'll enjoy it! Just like old times! Or it could be knitting. Knitting or biplanes. One or the other. What? A mysterious summons. You think I'm just going to go? Who sent those messages? I know you know. I can see it in your faces. Don't play games with me. Don't ever, ever think you're capable of that," he said, flopping casually into a chair to the side.
"You're going to have to trust us this time," River said tightly. Of course, Jack and Rose didn't seem all that inclined to talk him into cooperating, and there went the biggest ace up her sleeve.
"Trust you? Sure. But, first of all, Doctor Song, just one thing. Who are you? You're someone from my future. Getting that. But who? Okay. Why are you in prison? Who did you kill, hmm? Now, I love a bad girl, me, but trust you? Seriously." She sighed. Of course not. It could never work out when she needed it to. He hadn't known her for long enough.
"Trust me," Amy said suddenly.
"Okay," the Doctor agreed, dragging Rose over to stand level with Amy.
"You have to do this, and you can't ask why," Amy said tearfully.
"Are you being threatened? Is someone making you say that?" the Doctor asked, clearly honestly curious.
"You're lying," the Doctor returned.
"I'm not lying," Amy said insistently.
"Swear to me. Swear to me on something that matters," the Doctor finally said.
"Fish fingers and custard," Amy said shakily.
"My life in your hands, Amelia Pond," the Doctor murmured. Amy flinched and turned away, but the Doctor took no notice.
"Thank you," River said quietly, glancing at Rose and giving her a 'thanks so much for helping' look. Of course, Rose didn't know her at all, had even less reason for trusting her than the Doctor did. But she was so used to Rose having her back.
"So! Canton Everett Delaware the third. Who's he?" The Doctor said, turning to the console.
"Ex FBI. Got kicked out," River read the files that the TARDIS had produced.
"Authority problems," Jack said unexpectedly. "At least that's what's on the official file. He wants to marry a black man, in the year 1969. How do you think they'll react? Canton Everett Delaware the third and I, we've met. In '67, too, when I was working for Torchwood One."
"He'll know you, then?"
"He'll know me," Jack confirmed.
"Six weeks after he left the Bureau, the President contacted him for a private meeting," River read from the scanner.
"Yeah, 1969. Who's President?"
"Richard Milhous Nixon. Vietnam, Watergate. There's some good stuff, too," River recited.
"Not enough," the Doctor muttered.
"Hippie," River accused mildly.
"Archaeologist," the Doctor returned. "Okay, since I don't know what I'm getting into this time, for once I'm being discreet. I'm putting the engines on silent," the Doctor said. Rose snorted at the idea that the Doctor could be discreet, and the Doctor flipped a lever that made the TARDIS wail in protest. Rose clutched the console with one hand and her head with the other, and River quickly circled the console to turn off the noise.
"Did you do something?" The Doctor asked her suspiciously.
"No, just watching," River answered.
"Putting the outer shield on invisible. I haven't done this in a while. Big drain on the power," the Doctor narrated.
"You can turn the Tardis invisible?" Rory asked.
"Ha!" The Doctor flipped a switch and turned on the back lighting.
"Very nearly," River said dryly, pressing a couple of buttons.
"Er, did you touch something?"
"Just admiring your skills," River returned, rolling her eyes.
"Good. You might learn something." She rolled her eyes again. "Okay. Now I can't check the scanner. It doesn't work when we're cloaked. Just give us a mo. Whoa! Whoa, whoa, whoa. You lot, wait a moment. We're in the middle of the most powerful city in the most powerful country on Earth. Let's take it slow," the Doctor said, not seeming to notice that he had picked up Rose's hand again on his way out the door.
"Hello? Who is this? This is President Nixon. Who's calling? Is this you again?"
"A child," Canton said.
"This is the President, yes," the recording continued.
"I'm scared, Mister President. I'm scared of the spaceman."
"A little girl?" Canton asked.
"Boy," Nixon said.
"How can you be sure?"
"What spaceman? Where are you phoning from? Where are you right now? Who are you?" Nixon on the recording demanded. The Doctor quietly produced a notebook to begin writing things down.
"Jefferson Adams Hamilton."
"Jefferson, listen to me," Nixon began. Then the line went dead.
"Surely this is something the Bureau could handle, sir," Canton said roughly, more than happy to leave his fractured history with law enforcement behind.
"These calls happen wherever I am. How do I know the Bureau isn't involved? I can't trust anyone," Nixon said, turning around and stopping dead. Rose backed away, but the Doctor simply waved at them to continue their conversation as Canton stood up to stare at them.
"Oh. Hello. Bad moment. Oh look, this is the Oval Office. We were looking for the er, oblong room, right Rose? We'll just be off, then, shall we?" the Doctor said, turning to his companion. He tried to wander away, and walked smack into the cloaked TARDIS and crumpled to the floor. Rose couldn't resist laughing at him as Canton leapt on top of him and wrestled him to the ground.
"Don't worry! It always does that when its cloaked!" The Doctor said. "Ah, no. Stop that," he instructed Canton quietly. The Secret Service ran into the room and began assisting Canton in smushing the Doctor's face into the rug, but ignored Rose entirely. She was a little bit miffed at how easily they dismissed her as a threat.
"Lockdown! Lockdown!" One of the guys called.
"Stop that! Argh! Oh!" The Doctor yelled. "River, have you got my scanner working yet?" he called. "No, you don't!" he added into thin air.
"Get the President out of here. Sir, you have to go with them, now," the Secret Service guy ordered.
"River, make her blue again!" The TARDIS shimmered into view, in all of her Police Box glory.
"What the hell is that?" the president demanded. The Doctor used the opportunity presented by their distraction to slip out of their grasp and pull Rose with him around the president's desk and seat himself with his feet up. Rolling her eyes, Rose stood behind him.
"Mister President, that child just told you everything you need to know, but you weren't listening. Never mind, though, because the answer's yes. I'll take the case. Fellows, the guns, really? I just walked into the highest security office in the United States and parked a big blue box on the rug. Do you think you can just shoot me?
"They're Americans!" River shouted, exiting the TARDIS with her own gun pointed, sending everyone into a gun cocking party.
"Don't shoot. Definitely no shooting," the Doctor babbled.
"Nobody shoot us either. Very much not in need of getting shot. Look, we've got our hands up," Rory said.
"Who the hell are you?"
"Sir, you need to stay back. Jack?" Canton asked incredulously.
Jack smirked and swaggered forward. "Stop it," the Doctor said. "You'll get shot, again, and then where will we be?"
"I'll have been dead. Again. Oh well," Jack said airily.
"But who are they and what is that box?" Nixon demanded.
"Well," Canton began. "That's Captain Jack Harkness, he works for Torchwood."
"Torchwood doesn't exist, sir," the Secret Service guy protested.
Nixon, Canton, Jack and Rose rolled their eyes in unison. "Director Rose Tyler, Torchwood High Command," Rose snapped, circling the desk and flashing her Torchwood ID at him. "And if it's a myth, why is it so classified?"
"Miss, don't move any closer—"
"Let them talk," the president snapped. Canton nodded in agreement. "If they're from Torchwood, let them talk. But what is that box?"
"It's a police box. Can't you read? I'm your new undercover agent on loan from... Can't believe I'm saying this, but Torchwood. Code name the Doctor. These are my top operatives, the Legs, the Nose, and Mrs Robinson. And that's Rose Tyler and Jack Harkness, apparently you already know them," the Doctor said sulkily.
River and Rose exchanged glances. "Doctor River Song," River introduced herself. "And that's Amelia Pond and Rory Williams. And he really is the Doctor, at least that's what everyone calls him. Just ignore him when he's being ridiculous, though."
"Who are you?" Nixon asked.
"Nah, boring question. Who's phoning you? That's interesting. Because Canton Three is right. That was definitely a girl's voice, which means there's only one place in America she can be phoning from."
"Where?" Canton asked interestedly. He obviously knew firsthand exactly what Jack was capable of, and was eager to see him at work with some of his associates.
"Do not engage with the intruder, Mister Delaware."
"You heard everything I heard. It's simple enough. Give me five minutes, I'll explain. On the other hand, lay a finger on me or my friends, and you'll never, ever know."
"How did you get it in here? I mean, you didn't carry it in," Canton observed, attention going back to the TARDIS.
"Love it," Canton admitted freely.
"Do not compliment the intruder." Everyone ignored the secret service guy.
"Five minutes?" Canton confirmed.
"Five," the Doctor said.
"Mister President, that man is a clear and present danger to—" the secret service guy started.
"Mister President, that man walked in here with a big blue box and five of his friends, and that's the man he walked past. One of them's worth listening to. I say we give him five minutes. See if he delivers," Canton interrupted. "Besides, Jack Harkness might seem like a blowhard, but he's very good."
"Thank you," Jack purred.
"Thanks, Canton," the Doctor rode over Jack's tone loudly.
"If he doesn't, I'll shoot him myself," Canton added.
"Not so thanks," the Doctor said, wounded.
"Sir, I cannot recommend—"
"Shut up, Peterson! All right, five minutes," Nixon agreed.
"I'm going to need a SWAT team, ready to mobilise. Street level maps covering all of Florida. A pot of coffee, twelve Jammie Dodgers and a fez," the Doctor declared.
Rose arched a brow at him, his suit, his bowtie, and his hair, and critically said, "No fez. Get the Jammie Dodgers, though, or else he'll be pouty for days, and I'll have to deal with him."
"Get him his maps," Canton ordered gruffly.
"Why Florida?" Canton asked later, with maps strewn across the oval office.
"There's where NASA is. She mentioned a spaceman. NASA's where the spacemen live. Also, there's another lead I'm following," the Doctor said offhandedly.
"What is it?" Rose asked, leaning in close over his shoulder.
"You'll see," he said, grinning infectiously at her. "You and I, we'll do this.
"Mutt and Jeff, Shiver and Shake, Hope and Glory?" Rose said.
"The stuff of legend," the Doctor added. "Plus Jack."
"Jack's always good," Rose said, chuckling slightly. "God, it feels like no time has passed, almost. Like it was only yesterday when we landed at my mum's and had to investigate those damned ghost shifts."
"Apparently I died yesterday," the Doctor said, laughing.
"I died," he said, in a supremely unhelpful tone of voice. Rose rolled her eyes. "Radiation. It was me or Wilf."
"Yeah." He looked up at her. Canton shifted uncomfortably—clearly, neither of them remembered his presence. "I went to see you, you know. When I was dying. I crossed my own timeline, just to see you. The sound of your laugh... nearly broke me."
"I remember," Rose said, reaching up to swipe a tear from her cheek. "You told me that I was going to have a great year."
"Same man, you know. Same man who can never seem to stop loving you."
"New, new, new Doctor?" Rose offered.
They were interrupted by Amy's voice raising slightly, drawing everyone's attention to her.
"Yeah. No, I'm fine. I'm just feeling a little sick. Excuse me, is there a toilet or something?" Amy said, turning from Rory's worried gaze.
"Sorry, ma'am, while this procedure's ongoing, you must remain within the Oval office," Peterson, the idiotic secret service guy said.
"Shut up and take her to the restroom," Canton snapped.
"This way, ma'am," another one of the agents said, leading Amy away. Rory went to follow, but was soundly rebuffed by the Peterson-the-idiot.
"Your five minutes are up," Canton said, hoping to distract the Doctor from going back to his obviously heavily emotional conversation with his girl.
"Yeah, and where's my fez?"
The phone rang, and everyone in the office jumped. "The kid?" Canton asked.
"Should I answer it?" Nixon wanted to know.
"Here! The only place in the United States that call could be coming from. See? Obvious, when you think about it," the Doctor said triumphantly, fingering a spot on the map. Canton leaned over his shoulder.
"You, sir, are a genius," Canton admired.
"It's a hobby," the Doctor said.
"Mister President, answer the phone," Canton instructed.
"Hello. This is President Nixon."
"It's here! The spaceman's here! It's going to get me! It's going to eat me!"
"There's no time for a SWAT team. Let's go. Mister President, tell her help's on the way. Canton, on no account follow me into this box and close the door behind you," the Doctor said, leaping to his feet and seizing Rose's hand in his own, leading the way back into the TARDIS.
"What the hell are you doing?" Canton demanded, following them exactly as the Doctor intended him to do.
"Jefferson isn't a girl's name. It's not her name either. Jefferson, Adams, Hamilton. River?" The Doctor was saying, circling the console in his usual manic way, Rose's hand clutched tightly in his. She seemed happy to follow for now.
"Surnames of three of America's founding fathers," River supplied.
"Lovely fellows. Two of them fancied me."
"Yeah, and four more fancied me," Rose shot back. "You were jealous."
"I was not! I'm a Time Lord, I don't get jealous."
"Do the words 'hands off the blonde' ring any bells?" Jack singsonged. Unlike the Doctor, Rose, River and Amy, Jack and Rory had stayed by the entrance to comfort the very shocked and disturbed Canton.
"Are you okay? Coping?" Rory asked gently.
"You did not say that to him," Rose said.
"Okay, I didn't," the Doctor agreed cheerfully.
"Actually, I believe that he said that I'd wake up on the wrong side of the TARDIS airlock if I laid so much as a finger on you," Jack said.
"The TARDIS doesn't have an airlock," the Doctor protested weakly.
"You threatened to dump him out the TARDIS into space," Rose said flatly.
"And he threatened to chuck me into a black hole, too," Jack added helpfully. Canton, still stunned, gave another disturbed squeak.
"You see, the President asked the child two questions. Where are you and who are you? She was answering where," the Doctor said, clearly frantic to change the subject.
"You threatened to chuck him into a black hole," Rose said flatly.
"It's bigger on the inside," Canton said in astonishment.
"Yeah, you get used to it," Rory attempted to comfort him.
"Now, where would you find three big, historical names in a row like that?"
"Doctor! Black hole? Really?" Rose demanded hysterically.
"I—he was a fifty-first century con man, Rose, I was trying to keep you safe," the Doctor whined. "I wasn't jealous. Nuh-uh, not me. Time Lords don't get jealous. I was just worried—"
"That I would fall into bed with him because he's quite the charmer, or, in other news, jealous," Rose shot back.
"Fifty-first century con man?" Canton demanded, his tone going slightly high-pitched. "What does that even mean?"
"It means that I was born in the fifty-first century, Canton," Jack said slowly. "And that, when I first encountered the Doctor, and Rose—she was dangling from a barrage balloon in the middle of the London Blitz, and I rescued her—I was a con man," Jack stated.
"Where? Doctor, where would we find three big, historical names in a row like that?" Amy prompted, trying to get them all back on track.
"Here. Come on."
"It's er," Canton stuttered.
"Are you taking care of this?" The Doctor said to Rory on his way by, Rose's hand in his. Rose seized Jack's hand in her other, and Jack reached back to grab River's because, what the hell, and River grabbed onto Amy's as they began to exit the TARDIS in a chain.
"Why is it always my turn?" Rory whined.
"Because you're the newest," Amy said, pressing her lips to his briefly before River pulled her out of the TARDIS.
"Where are we?" Amy asked, having emerged into an empty warehouse office. River released her hand, and Jack had released River's, but the Doctor, Rose and Jack were still connected in a little mini-chain.
"About five miles from Cape Kennedy Space Centre. It's 1969, the year of the moon. Interesting, don't you think?"
"But why would a little girl be here?"
"I don't know. Lost me a bit. The President asked the girl where she was, and she did what any lost little girl would do. She looked out of the window." He gestured out the window, where there was a signpole with three different street signs—Hamilton Avenue, Jefferson Street and Adams Street.
"Streets. Of course, street names," Amy said.
"The only place in Florida, probably all of America, with those three street names on the same junction," the Doctor said absently, before wandering off and dragging Rose and Jack with him.
Amy turned to River. "Do they always hold hands like that?"
"Eh," River said. "The Doctor really only holds her hand—they hold hands and run for their lives, it's sort of their thing. And Rose holds everyone's hand. Habit that she picked up from his previous incarnation, apparently he held everyone's hand. And she was married to him for years."
The TARDIS doors swung open again—clearly, Rory had finally managed to talk Canton out of the TARDIS.
"We've moved. How, how can we have moved?"Canton asked.
"You haven't even got to space travel yet?" The Doctor asked. Jack pulled free of Rose and moved closer to Canton.
"I was going to cover it with time travel," Rory said irritably.
"Time travel," Canton repeated. "When you said fifty-first century?"
"I was born there," Jack said. "Joined the Time Agency, split off and went to the Blitz in 1941. Met a girl, she introduced me to her Doctor." He gestured to Rose and the Doctor. "Then there was a fight. I got killed and they went off without me, and I used this—" he waved his Vortex Manipulator at Canton—"trying to get back to the twenty-first century. But it burnt out and left me stuck in 1869."
"Brave heart, Canton. Come on," the Doctor prompted.
"But that makes you over one hundred years old!"
"I'm immortal," Jack said flatly. "As is Rose. The Doctor regenerates instead of dying, and doesn't age."
"So we're in a box that's bigger on the inside, and it travels through time and space."
"Yeah, basically," Rory said.
"How long has Torchwood had this?"
"I'll tell you a little secret, Canton. We're not Torchwood. Well, Jack is. And Rose is Torchwood in another universe, but I doubt that it counts here, especially since she won't be born for another oh... eighteen years?"
"Who are you, then?"
"Canton, I'm the Doctor."