Jack Harkness was used to all sorts of people strolling in and out of his office, but they were people he worked with, men and women he respected. It was a rare stranger that found his way to the heart of Torchwood proper. There were 10 checkpoints between Jack and the entrance which was why he immediately tensed at the sight of the unfamiliar man in a suit. While Jack processed both his attractiveness and the possibility of danger, he rose to his feet. "Who are you?" he asked evenly.
"Funny question, that," the man said, glancing around at Jack's messy office. "I don't think you'd believe me if I told you."
Strictly speaking, that wasn't the case as Jack believed a great number of things now that he had traveled across time and space and now spent most of his time processing information about aliens, but he was in no mood for games. The stranger fiddled with a prop ray gun that someone had turned in as proof of an alien attack. "People actually think this is a weapon?"
"How did you get past all the checkpoints?"
"Told 'em I was an old friend of yours," he said succinctly. "When that didn't work, I mentioned Harriet Jones. When you're intimate with the Prime Minister, it does wonders for getting into this fortress."
"Are you intimate with the Prime Minister or was that just another lie?"
The man paused in his examination of a Trifflian communication unit and looked at Jack with a slightly manic smile. "I didn't lie to your colleagues, Jack."
"Captain Harkness," he said, his usual charm vanishing. "And I've never met you before in my life."
"Sure you have, Captain Harkness," he answered, his voice full of droll amusement. "You just don't remember it."
"When did I meet you?"
"A long time ago." There was an enigmatic smile playing around his mouth. "Or next week. It doesn't really matter. Time is such a relative thing, don't you think?"
"Depends on what you do with it when you have it," Jack said coolly, his trembling fingers reaching for the gun he kept in a nearby drawer. This man knew more than he was telling; perhaps he was even a Time Agent sent to retrieve Jack from this period.
Reading his mind, the man stepped forward, his smile disappearing immediately. "Time is the one thing we don't have, Jack. I'm not a Time Agent sent to bring you back for trial. I'm here because I need you to help an old friend."
"Are you the old friend?" he demanded, his hand resting on the drawer. He could count on two hands the number of people who knew his full history and most of them were either dead or not yet born.
"No," he said with an inscrutable expression. "But if you help her, you'll be helping me as well."
Jack heard the note of desperation that crept into his tone and remembered what he said about having no time. Once upon a time, he wouldn't have thought twice about what the man was saying, but Jack had changed. "What do you need from me?"
There was a flash of relief in his eyes as the stranger became businesslike in an instant. "I need you to come with me right now. We can't waste any more time."
"Where are we going?" Jack asked, snatching his leather jacket from the back of his chair. "What's your name?"
"Come on," he said, already turning toward the door. "We don't have time for questions."
Jack strode after him. 'I can't just call you "you."'
"Why not?" The man glanced at Jack's assistant with a friendly smile. "Captain Harkness will be back in a few minutes, but you probably want to cancel all his appointments for the afternoon."
She looked toward Jack immediately. Jack nodded, his concerns about the stranger's name and the amount of time disappearing when he was suddenly dragged into one of the vault rooms located just down the hall. "Hey, what are –?" Swallowing the rest of his question, Jack stared at the large blue police box. "It's the TARDIS," he whispered.
"Indeed. We should be off, Jack, if . . ."
Once again Jack was pleased that he kept an extra gun on his body. "No, I'm not going anywhere with you until you explain where the TARDIS came from. Where's the Doctor? I don't remember the day we met, but I remember the first time I stepped into this ship and you were not on that ship," he said grimly.
"Oh, right." He stared at Jack with a grave expression. "I admire your loyalty, but it's more important that we help Rose."
"Rose is supposed to be in this time."
"You, of all people, ought to know that Rose doesn't stay put when she's supposed to." He waved toward the door of the TARDIS. "She's not in this time. She's currently trapped on Escobar in the year 4567 and she may be stuck there forever if we don't leave to help her right now."
"Escobar in the 46th century? But . . ."
"Exactly. Keep your gun trained on me if you feel safer, but we need to go." The urgency was back in his voice.
Jack didn't necessarily trust the man in front of him, but if his words were true, then someone needed to rescue Rose. He lowered the gun with a frown, a thought occurring to him. "Is the Doctor on Escobar, too?"
"What? Oh, no," he answered in a distracted tone, running into the TARDIS. He poked his head back out when he realized that Jack hadn't followed. "Come on. I don't want her there any longer than she absolutely has to be."
He considered the words, hearing an oddly familiar phrasing and tone. How many times had the Doctor said something similar when Rose was in danger? It didn't matter though because it was Rose in danger. Jack followed him into the TARDIS. It was almost exactly the way he had last seen it except for the man who was fiddling with buttons and banging on the console. "Escobar, 4567."
"You seem to know your way around the TARDIS," Jack said casually, his mind starting to sort through what he remembered about Time Lords. The Doctor would not have left the TARDIS to a stranger, and he certainly wouldn't have left it in the hands of an enemy. He would have destroyed the TARDIS first. In fact, he had sent it with Rose back to her time, but she must have brought it back to rescue the Doctor on Satellite Five. More importantly, the TARDIS was responding to the stranger's direction, something it wouldn't have done for just anyone. Jack had spent most of his time at the Time Agency studying interpersonal matters rather than the history of time and time travel, but there was something small that niggled at the back of his mind, a fact that might make everything clear.
"It's just a matter of knowing how to talk to her." He patted the console with great affection.
When Jack looked up, he found the man watching him with a smile that was almost encouraging, leaving Jack with the impression that he was reading Jack's mind and waiting for him to connect the dots to an as-yet-unseen picture. The knowledge in his eyes bothered Jack more than the smile. Jack was all for a bit of fun at his own expense, but he thought the man was taking enigmatic to a whole other level. The only person he had ever known to be half as mysterious was the Doctor, and he wasn't human. He thought about the alien heritage of the Time Lords and the myths that swirled around their legendary existence before he remembered the fairy tale idea that the Time Lords lived to be centuries old. "Where did we meet?"
"Where do you think we met?"
Jack studied him carefully before he made his guess. "In a hospital during the London Blitz, Doctor."
His guess was rewarded with a wide smile. "Thought you'd get it eventually. If anyone would understand how I survived to be this old, an ex-Time Agent would be one of the few."
"Regeneration," he said in an awed tone. "But how? We were always taught that regeneration was a myth."
"It's part of what Time Lords have always been able to do. Like piloting the TARDIS and fixing timelines."
Jack slipped his gun back into his jacket and moved closer to the console. The Doctor looked, sounded, and acted different, but some things, enough things, had remained the same that he was able to accept the idea if not the Doctor himself. "When did -?"
"When did I die?" the Doctor guessed with a twinkle in his eye. "I died on Satellite Five."
"So did I," Jack said, remembering the feeling of coming back to life, the warmth that crept back into his bones even as he heard the sound of the TARDIS leaving him behind on an empty space station.
"Yeah, you did."
"But how were the Daleks destroyed? How did Rose bring the TARDIS back? How did I come back to life?" Jack asked, all the questions he asked himself every day tumbling out in succession. "How did you die?"
The Doctor gave him a wry smile. "That is a really long story, Jack. One we don't exactly have time for. Let's save Rose and then I'll tell you all about the girl who saved the universe."
"Rose? She saved the universe?" He didn't know how to wrap his mind around the thought. If anyone had saved it, it had to have been the Doctor. It hadn't been the delta wave that killed the Daleks; in fact, it seemed almost like they had never existed. There were no mechanical parts littering the walkways of Satellite Five. They had just vanished into thin air along with the ashes of all the people who had died.
"Something like that," the Doctor said, gesturing toward the console. "Want to help me out?"
Jack strode over to the console, falling into a familiar pattern of pushing buttons and monitoring the trajectory of the TARDIS. "Do you have a plan?"
He gave him a curiously amused look. "For getting to Escobar?"
"For saving Rose."
"Nothing beyond you walking in and rescuing her. After all, isn't that what Captain Jack does? Rescues hapless maidens?"
Jack grinned with familiar cheek. "And misters. I'm not picky."
"Aliens, too, if I recall correctly." The Doctor's eyes glinted with mischief. "Ever the gentleman."
The mischief caught Jack by surprise. This man seemed more playful and light-hearted than his Doctor had been. Still, there was something about his eyes that hinted at pain, the kind of pain that had plagued his friend. And in his desperation to help Rose, Jack sensed the same sort of intensity and devotion. "How did Rose handle your regeneration?"
"Badly at first," the Doctor said truthfully. "She wanted me to change back and then she gave up on me when I couldn't help her right away. Course it wasn't her fault that she didn't know tea was the magic ingredient."
"All you needed was tea?"
"Tea. But then I came to and I fought the Sycorax leader with a sword. I think that helped convince her a bit."
Jack leaned forward with rapt attention. "A sword?" Somehow, he had never imagined the Doctor with a sword and looking at him, Jack would have bet that he looked incredibly dashing.
He waved his hand a bit uselessly. "Got my hand cut off for that effort. Regeneration saved me in more ways than one. Then again, I never did like swords much."
"Or guns," Jack added.
He beamed at Jack. "Or guns. Give me a good old-fashioned sonic screwdriver any day. Truth be told, it was actually Howard's satsuma that saved the day though."
"Howard?" Jack didn't know if this Doctor still had a knack for picking up strays, but he wondered if Howard had replaced him onboard the TARDIS.
"Rose's mum's boyfriend. I woke up in his pajamas."
The TARDIS landed at that precise moment, cutting off further questions from Jack although it didn't help with the mental image in his head. "Do you really not have a plan for getting Rose out?"
The Doctor seemed to realize that he wasn't completely serious. If nothing else, Jack trusted him with saving Rose even knowing that he had changed. "The plague wiped out most of the female population of Escobar. They captured Rose as soon as we landed last time and as an alien, they won't let me near her. There are all sorts of alien alarms on the complex where she's being held. Women are precious commodities right now and they don't take any chances."
"That makes sense. If I recall correctly, it took Escobar two centuries to even out the population of males and females so that the men didn't outnumber the women."
"Exactly. That's where you come in. The wealthier men on Escobar have first pick of the new crop of women. We dandy you up a bit, you stroll in to view the human merchandise, and you make your great escape with Rose."
As plans went, it wasn't one of the Doctor's better plans – there were far too many factors to consider from Jack's perspective. However, it was a plan which was a step up from some of the situations they'd muddled through. But instead of expressing his misgivings, he turned and walked toward the wardrobe room, hoping there hadn't been some sort of remodel. A few minutes later, Jack emerged from the room, wearing the closest thing to Escobar fashion in the 46th century. "Lederhosen was a bad idea when it first originated," he complained. "And the designers who decided to improve it only made it worse."
"At least you have the legs to pull off the lederhosen," the Doctor said, eying Jack's legs with an envious look. "At the time I wore it, it wasn't a pretty picture."
Jack cast an assessing eye over the Doctor, imagining his new self in the tight material. "Have to say, Doctor, I think you could pull it off now. Not that the suit isn't working for you."
The grin the Doctor gave him was brief and pleased. "Give me your watch."
"Compliment a man on a suit and he robs you of your watch. I'll have to remember that next time," he said, handing over his watch without much concern.
The Doctor set the watch down on the TARDIS console and used his sonic screwdriver to fiddle with settings. "There isn't enough time to set up a proper two way commlink, but this should be enough for a quick message if we need a plan B. Just send me your location in the complex so I can land close enough to extract you."
"How likely are we to need a plan B?" Jack asked, putting his watch back around his wrist and examining the new modifications.
Ignoring his question, the Doctor pointed to a nearby screen. "That's where she's being held. According to my calculations, you have less than two hours before a border baron lays claim to her. Maybe less depending on how many servants saw her as she was hauled through the gates." He sounded worried again.
Jack laid a comforting hand on his arm, but he was more concerned with the part of the plan that made him nervous. "And what happens when they demand payment up front?" Payment was always the most nerve-wracking part of any con job (or rescue).
"Ah, but we have payment." The Doctor handed him a metallic disc that must have contained enough money to buy Rose out of trouble. At Jack's puzzled expression, he leaned forward as if to impart some great secret. "This is courtesy of the Escobar government. Someone should teach them how to secure their funds before their treasury is liberated and they're bankrupted."
He smiled widely – the Doctor always had been excellent at sideways justice. "I suppose it's too late to teach them how to secure their funds."
Cocking his head, the Doctor considered his words. "You're right. I used the wrong tense." He handed Jack an antique gun. "Since you'll be traveling to the complex without a servant, it's acceptable to carry a gun for protection on Escobar."
"Will it actually protect me?"
"You probably don't want to find out," he replied with a smirk that acknowledged the truth in the question. "I may not know how to load a gun properly."
With a laugh, Jack tucked the gun into the shoulder holster. "Or you do and you loaded the gun wrong to teach me a lesson."
"I would never do that." The Doctor look terribly offended. "It's Rose's life on the line after all."
With that single sentence, Jack felt like an unspeakable cad. He had forgotten how easily the Doctor could make him feel lower than dirt. "Doctor, I didn't mean . . ."
The Doctor laughed cheerfully. "Go on then. Get to saving Rose and we'll be even."
Jack obeyed, his mind reeling from the quick change in moods. The Doctor had always swung from serious to laughter in an instant, but it was hard to miss the steel that underlined his amusement. "I'll bring her back, Doctor," he promised as he started toward the door.
"Hey, Jack?" He turned to look at the Doctor who flashed him a wry grin. "See you in hell."
Jack relaxed and strolled through the doors of the TARDIS and onto a dirty street littered with trash. He saw the gleaming white complex at the top of the hill, but it was more disconcerting to see all the houses with peeling paint and overgrown yards. There was the stench of illness and poverty in the air, and it was evident to him that the people of Escobar had let the desperation and despair overwhelm them to the point of apathy. Enslaving the remaining women and parceling them out to the highest bidders allowed the government to control the wealth and access, stifling Escobar's population growth even more than the virus had. He remembered the brief mention of a corrupt government in old Time Agency reports, but nothing prepared him for the stark reality of Escobar after the end of their world. And he had never been one to stay for the aftermath of Volcano Day. The planet still existed, but the life they had known was gone because a virus mutated and killed off their chance to rebuild quickly. Though he knew that they would eventually save themselves since humans were a resourceful bunch, that time was a long way off. Even in the 51st century, Escobar was still something of a backwards planet, trying to find its way back into the universal consciousness.
The walk up the hill to the complex was shorter than he had anticipated, and he was surprised at how easily he was able to walk through the gate of the complex. The uniformed guards examined his psychic paper and let him pass without question. Better yet, the receptionist led him into a lavishly decorated room and asked him to be seated while he fetched the director of the facility. A glance at the psychic paper revealed that he was a viscount of some place called Santo Burleighton, a name that meant nothing to him.
Jack rose when a burly fellow walked into the room, his expression full of satisfaction. "My lord viscount, it's a pleasure to have a man of your stature visiting this facility. I was under the impression that you weren't looking for companionship at this juncture. In fact, we were all sorry to hear about the death of your wife. The viscountess was a great woman." The satisfaction had been replaced by insincere sympathy.
Judging by the man's obsequious bowing and scraping, this viscount was extremely important, a fact that could only improve Jack's chances for a successful rescue. "A man does get lonely," he murmured, trying to sound appropriately mournful. "And you are -?"
"I apologize, my lord. I'm Georges Farnsworth, the director of this facility."
He started to pace across the room, assuming a thoughtful tone. "Someone told me, Mr. Farnsworth, that you're the man to see about . . . companionship."
"Actually, we're not concerned with companionship, sir. There are plenty of women who would be honored to be companion to a viscount."
Jack saw the trap that had been laid neatly and he adjusted his attitude. "Let us be frank, Mr. Farnsworth. Neither of us is talking about companionship in that sense. We're talking about children and their companionship. I'm not looking for someone to replace my wife, but I want someone who will be my family, someone who will carry on with my estates," he said. "The companionship of the female will be secondary to the progeny I desire."
"You are aware that any female child you have will be matched with a male child of this facility's choosing once she is old enough?"
"If that's what it takes," Jack agreed easily. Only the fact that he planned on leaving this godforsaken planet in the TARDIS as soon as possible let him make the agreement without affecting his conscience. "I'm more concerned with sons."
Farnsworth brightened considerably at this remark. "Aren't we all? If only women weren't so necessary for reproduction."
After the tragedy that had struck Escobar, Jack had a hard time believing that anyone would feel like women were just objects to be controlled and doled out. Anger coursed through his blood at the callous treatment of these people. "Right," he said with a tight smile.
"No disrespect to your ladyship, sir. She was the right sort of woman," Farnsworth responded swiftly, sensing that he had crossed a line. "So . . . do you have a preference for the sort of woman you want to be mother to your children?"
"Blonde, spirited, strong." Jack listed the three qualities that he thought would be most connected with Rose. "In fact, one of my servants saw a girl that you brought in a couple of hours ago. She was quite lovely."
"Why, yes, I know the one you're speaking of, sir, but are you sure? She's nothing like your wife was. For one thing, she hasn't got an ounce of proper respect and we haven't had the chance to beat it out of her."
Jack's fists clenched angrily and he counted to five, forcing himself to relax before he knocked the man's smug expression from his face. He smoothed his face into a friendly, determined smile. "I like a good challenge, Farnsworth. I have the money to pay for her services, but if I have to go above your head . . ." Jack let the threat hang in the air between them.
"I should have known you have a strong preference, my lord. Forgive me for questioning your choice. I'll have the matron take you to one of the copulation chambers so you can get to know the girl before you make payment."
Jack barely had time to question the idea of a copulation chamber before an elderly lady was at his side. "My lord, your chamber is about twenty feet down the hallway. It's the nicest suite we have." While he tried to figure out how to proceed from the unforeseen circumstance, Jack followed her to a plush suite though suite seemed to be generous for a room which consisted solely of a comfortable bed. He supposed the small bathroom attached gave the suite its name. "If you'll just have a seat, I'll bring 1243 to this room."
"1243? She doesn't have a name?" Jack asked softly.
The matron said, "We're not concerned with names around here, my lord. It's easier to train the women if they're stripped of their individuality and identity."
When Jack didn't respond, she turned and left the room. He continued to stand, feeling excitement tingling down his back. Seeing Rose was more than he had let himself hope before the Doctor had walked into Torchwood. He wondered if she had changed at all, a foolish question considering the Doctor's regeneration and Satellite Five. She had saved the world and that would change anyone.
"Here she is, my lord."
Jack turned and faced a struggling Rose for the first time. She stopped, her smile blossoming and her mouth starting to form his name. He shook his head slightly, his eyes begging her to stay silent and still. The last thing they needed was for her to ruin the illusion – it would make getting out peacefully that much more difficult. "You are as lovely as I heard, Miss -?"
Rose ignored the outraged matron's sputtering reaction. "Tyler, Rose Tyler."
"Rose, it's a pleasure to meet you." He cast a dismissive glance toward the matron. "Here is the money. Release her from her restraints and leave us to get acquainted," he ordered.
She complied with a sniff of disapproval. "Most do not require the restraints to be removed."
"I'm not that kinky," he said, sounding both annoyed and imperious.
"I apologize, my lord," the matron answered through gritted teeth. "If you need anything, you can press the courtesy key on the panel next to the door."
Rose waited for the woman to disappear and for a familiar click of a lock. "You're not that kinky?" she asked with a raised eyebrow, remaining near the door.
"Maybe I am that kinky." Jack's joy threatened to overwhelm him and he opened his arms for a much-anticipated hug. "Why are you still standing over there?"
She glanced upward slightly. "Did you know there are cameras here? I don't think they can hear us, but they can definitely see us. I'm guessing you didn't bring anything that can disable the cameras so we can get out of here."
Jack glimpsed the small camera in the corner of the room. He hadn't thought to check for cameras, but it made sense at any rate since the director of the facility had instituted a number of paranoid measures. They would want to make certain that people were copulating in the copulation chamber. "Sorry, I didn't come with anything except a gun that may or may not work. I was counting on my charm to get us out of here."
"How's that working out for us?"
Grinning triumphantly, he gestured in her direction. "I got them to bring you straight to me with minimum fuss. However, we're going to have a conversation about the trouble you keep finding yourself in."
"It's not my fault," she said, settling on the edge of the bed and trying to keep the paper dress she wore closed. "The TARDIS was supposed to take us to a giant millennium party for the change from 4999 to 5000. And it certainly wasn't supposed to be on this planet where they kidnap women for being able to have babies."
"The situation here is at critical mass. It's an awful place to be for anyone who isn't rich, old, and male. Escobar is going to take a few centuries to get back on track," Jack agreed, moving to sit next to her on the edge of the bed.
Rose's eyes filled with unshed tears. "It's more than just awful. I talked to this one woman named Libby – she's pregnant with a girl and once she gives birth, she'll be lucky to have the chance to hold her before they take her away permanently. And most of the women have husbands and sons outside of these walls, people they're never going to see again. They have daughters in here, daughters that are chosen by lottery to lose their virginity to those very same rich, old men. There are girls who are 12, 13, too young to know what is going on and to understand why their mothers can't protect them. All to give birth, lose their children, and start the cycle over again."
Wrapping his arms around Rose, Jack let her cry into his shoulder. He murmured soothing nonsense into her ear, not caring that the cameras caught him comforting her. If nothing else, he could argue that she was still new to their ways. And he didn't know if the viscount was known for compassion, but maybe his wife's death changed him. When she finally seemed to be quieting down, he rubbed her back gently and kissed the top of her head. "I'm so glad to see you, Rose."
"Oh, Jack, I didn't think I was ever going to see you again. The Doctor mentioned that you were rebuilding Earth so I thought you were going to be stuck in the Fourth Empire forever," she sniffled into his cravat.
"Well, that explains why he didn't come looking for me until I was needed," Jack said more to himself than to Rose. She lifted her head with an inquiring expression. "I caught a ride out of the Empire about six months ago on a Time Agent's ship."
"You stowed away?" she guessed.
Jack smiled at her surprise. "I may have stowed away, but Rommy was quite pleased to have me aboard. In fact, I think it was sort of disappointed when it dropped me off on Earth 2007."
Letting the genderless Rommy pass without comment, Rose beamed at him. "Earth 2007? Did you look me up because you thought I was there?"
"I would have," he said slowly. "But I was still dealing with the TARDIS leaving me behind and I couldn't stand to think about your loss too much on top of my own. Besides, I was hired by Harriet Jones to run the Cardiff branch of Torchwood and it's kept me quite busy. But I was going to look you up once things settled down. I wasn't going to leave you." An unspoken "the way the Doctor left us" hung in the air between them.
"I'm sure you wouldn't have left me for long." Rose hugged him, letting go of her paper dress.
He held her tightly, reveling in the way she clutched his neck; this was the hug that he had been waiting for since she recognized him. The last year of his life had been the hardest – he missed the companionship of his comrades and that loss was more difficult to deal with than the loss of his memories. And while he had never had the chance to find out that Rose was lost to him (as lost as he had thought the Doctor was), he was grateful that she was still the same Rose that he remembered. When she pulled away a few minutes later, her eyes were wet again. "Hey, I'm here and I'm not going anywhere without you."
"I know. I'm just so happy to see you. Don't mind me - they gave me hormone shots to better facilitate conception and that's making me cry like a leaky faucet."
"Conception, right . . . I don't think they're going to let us out without seeing us have sex," he admitted. "They'll want to make sure that we're trying to advance their goal of repopulation."
"Advance their goal of repopulation? I don't think I've ever heard it put quite that way," Rose laughed. If she was already laughing, then the hormone shots were definitely working. He chuckled in response, but the laugh didn't reach his eyes. Jack was trying to work through the best way to accomplish the task. "Wait a minute, you're serious about this?"
He wanted to deny it and apologize for even considering the idea, but he was too busy trying to figure out a way around it. Calling the Doctor crossed his mind, but he didn't want to risk the Doctor if he could help it.
"Jack?" Rose asked. His silence made her squirm on the edge of the bed. "In my fantasies, I didn't think we'd be doing it to prove to a foreign government that we can make babies together."
Having hit upon a solution, he was delighted to hear Rose's comment. "You've had fantasies about me?"
She turned pink but grinned, obviously determined to brazen it out. "So? I'm sure you've had your share of fantasies about me. And probably the Doctor as well. And Lynda with a Y and . . ."
"I get your point," he said, touching her arm. "And you're not wrong. Sometimes it's even the three of us."
Rose's color heightened to a darker shade of pink and she choked out, "The three of us?"
"You, me, the Doctor." Jack smirked at the glazed look in her eyes. He knew she was imagining it though he had no idea what she was thinking. "I suppose I'll have to change it up a bit though," he added, considering the regeneration.
She shook her head, trying to clear out the mental image. "I don't suppose you've come up with a plan to get us out of here."
"Have you ever faked sex?"
"Well, there was Jimmy Stone," Rose answered, a familiar glint of amusement in her eyes. Jack blessed whatever had let Rose keep her sense of humor in a situation where she wasn't sure if she would be rescued.
He grinned. "Never for Mickey?"
Her eyes darkened unhappily, making him realize that Mickey was a sore subject that she didn't want to discuss so he changed the subject back to Jimmy Stone. "I don't remember you mentioning Jimmy Stone before."
"Because he wasn't worth talking about," Rose said, waving her hand dismissively. "He was a loser then and he's probably still a loser. So you think having fake sex will convince them that you're serious about making a baby with me, yeah?"
"That's the plan." Jack's hesitation was clear. This plan hinged on Rose feeling comfortable enough to pretend something he wasn't sure she was ready to pretend.
Rose touched his cheek affectionately. "What do you know about faking sex? I thought you were the great Captain Jack Harkness."
He lowered his voice in confidence. "Well, I have heard the stories. Can't say I've ever experienced it for myself though."
"Of course not." Standing, she held out her hand to him. "All right. If you think it'll work, then let's play pretend for the cameras."
Grabbing her hand, he jumped to his feet and asked, "Are you sure you want to do it this way?"
Rose ignored the question and pulled the bedding back to reveal an elevated pillow. "What do you think that's for?"
"They don't take any chances with conception, Rose. Elevating a women's hips during copulation would have the best chance of making sure that the conception takes."
"That seems to be a very uncomfortable way to . . . copulate," she answered, adopting their word uneasily.
"It's not about comfort," he said, startled to hear the anger in his own voice. "It's not about comfort, love, affection, fun, or just companionship. It's about turning women into baby makers who have no emotional attachments and it's about taking the joy out of being human. They might as well be Daleks."
She looked unnerved by his anger. "Jack . . ."
"Let's get this over with." His frustration spilled over into his grip on her arm, making her wince with pain. He noticed and dropped his hand, immediately contrite. "I'm sorry, Rose. You shouldn't have to do this. Not even in pretense."
"If you say it's the best way to get out of this place, then I don't care about whether I should or shouldn't have to do something. That doesn't matter to me," she said without hesitation and climbed onto the bed across the pillow.
Jack stared at her brave expression and wondered again if calling the Doctor was a better option. He had a fairly good idea of where they were in the complex, but he felt the faithfulness and devotion the people in this facility had to preserving their race. Risking the Doctor's presence would be dangerous – they already had fitted the complex with alien alarms to prevent the taint and there was an excellent chance that there was an alien defense system as well. The government couldn't be bothered to help rebuild people's homes, but they would protect their monopoly on the female population with every penny if they needed to.
"I never thought it would take this much effort to get you in bed." He glanced at her and found her smiling cheerfully.
Jack laughed in spite of himself. "Usually it wouldn't."
"Do you know what the hardest part is going to be for me?" Rose asked, her eyes twinkling with amusement.
"I'm guessing you're not going to say resisting my charms." He followed her onto the bed, wondering if she knew that her good humor was breaking down his resistance.
"That goes without saying, yeah?" She wiggled on the pillow, trying to get comfortable. "But how am I supposed to keep from laughing?"
Jack knelt between her legs and forced himself to stop thinking so hard about a decision that she had already made. "Maybe it wouldn't be so bad if you looked like you were enjoying yourself. I get the feeling that they expect it of the guy I've been pretending to be."
"Yeah, the matron did seem to go on and on about what an honor it was to be chosen to be the mother of the viscount's children," Rose said, wrinkling her nose. "I get that children are the future and all that, but I hope this guy walks on water for all the fuss he's raised."
Leaning forward, Jack slid the covers over them and pretended to be pulling down the lederhosen. "I get the feeling that he's pretty much a jerk like the rest of them. He doesn't seem to hold women as much more than someone to look pretty and be obedient."
"You got all that from your conversation with Farnsworth?"
"Farnsworth has some serious issues with women so maybe he was just projecting what the viscount would want to hear." Jack reconsidered and then shook his head. "Nah, he's still scum for letting the government go this far."
Rose shivered. "Farnsworth is the real slimebag. He called us merchandise and looked us over like we were a pound of beef he was choosing from the butcher."
"He didn't do anything else, did he?" Jack already had a desire to punch Farnsworth, but he was willing to do more damage if Rose had been harmed in any way.
"Well, there wasn't time for anything else – he ran out as soon as he heard there was a lord in the building. I guess that means I owe you a bit of gratitude," she said flirtatiously.
"Save your gratitude for when we get out of here. I'd like to add a bit a more before I collect." He glanced over his shoulder at the camera before he asked, "How do you want to do this then? We could talk about the weather or the Slitheen."
"I think we ought to give them a show," Rose answered and pulled him down to her level so it appeared that he had entered her abruptly. "Make sure you look like you don't care about my feelings."
"I could never do that," he said, but he started moving in a familiar rhythm between her thighs, feeling the heat of her skin through the lederhosen as he pressed against the pillow under her. His desire for Rose flared to life almost immediately and he gave her an apologetic look; this was definitely not what he had anticipated.
She responded with a mischievous smile and a long, drawn-out moan that was obviously fake to anyone with half-a-brain. Not that anyone like that existed on this backwater planet. "Come on, Jack, you gotta play along," she teased, releasing yet another moan. "Oh, deeper, my lord!"
Jack laughed and tried to match her enthusiasm as he pretended to move deeper into the pillow. "I'll show you deeper, Rose Tyler."
She said something shockingly rude that made him grin and he answered in terms that gave her a run for her money and so on until they were both fighting tears of laughter over the competition for the most ridiculous climax ever.
"Oh God," Jack wheezed as he rolled over to the spot next to her. "Rose, that is possibly the most fun I've ever had that didn't involve sex."
"But if we were faking it, doesn't that mean it did involve sex?" she said, blinking innocently as a smile danced around her mouth.
"C'mere." He opened his arms so that she was able to put her head on his shoulder. They rested in silence, mentally preparing for whatever confrontation was coming next.
"So you've seen the Doctor then?" Rose asked, her voice small in the quiet room. "You said he came to you because he needed you."
Jack touched his lips to her forehead and held her closer, marveling at the sensation of Rose in his arms. Two hours ago, he'd wondered if he'd ever see her again. "I was on Earth in the year 2007 and a strange man showed up to ask me to help an old friend. He had gotten past all my security and teased me with the knowledge, acting like I was a good friend, talking to me with familiarity. He knew you and he flew the TARDIS by himself. That meant the Doctor must have trusted him. Then I remembered the regeneration rumors and eventually worked out that he was the Doctor."
"I wish I had known about regeneration."
Her voice was not exactly bitter or pained, but there was still something akin to regret. Regret he understood – didn't he regret not having the chance to say goodbye to Rose and the Doctor? "Why? Would knowing that the Doctor has the ability to change affect your feelings for him?"
"No," she said slowly. "He's the same Doctor save for being a bit more rude . . ."
"And a little more classically handsome?"
Rose laughed. "You haven't changed, Jack."
"Well, somebody has to remain the same for you." That wasn't true, but he wasn't going to contradict her. Satellite Five had changed all of them – the Doctor's changes were the most severe, but Rose and Jack had both lost someone special on the game station. At least the Doctor and Rose had had each other which was more than Jack had been able to say. "What do you remember about Satellite Five?"
Her forehead furrowed in thought, but she shook her head almost immediately. "I dream sometimes about what might have happened up there, but what I remember is bits and pieces. It's like a jigsaw that I can't quite put together. All I remember is Mum, Mickey, and I opening the heart of the TARDIS so I could go back to the game station and then suddenly, the Doctor was telling me I was fantastic and changing into someone completely different." She pressed her fingers to her lips in an uncertain manner. "I feel like the Doctor and I shared something in between my memories, a kiss that might have been a dream, a sharing of secrets that I never knew. And I know that somehow the Daleks were destroyed, but the Doctor won't tell me about it. He swears he doesn't remember either."
It meant something that the Doctor had confided the truth about Satellite Five to Jack while keeping the knowledge from Rose, but he wasn't ready to work through the reasons why. Instead, Jack spoke quietly, "I died on Satellite Five."
"There seems to be quite a bit of that going around. I sort of died, the Doctor sort of died, you sort of died. I guess what we can remember is that Satellite Five was bad luck."
"No, Rose, I didn't sort of die. I did die, facing down the Daleks alone with a weapon that ran out of ammunition not long after. The next thing I knew, my heart started to beat again and I ran into the control room just in time to see the TARDIS disappear, presumably to take you and the Doctor to your mother's place where the Doctor woke up in your mother's boyfriend's pajamas, took on a Sycorax fleet with a sword, and somehow used a satsuma to chase them off."
"That is pretty much exactly what happened at Christmas," Rose said with surprise. "You and the Doctor had quite a long discussion."
"There wasn't time for anything but the barest details. We had to talk about something to pass the time between Earth and Escobar."
At that precise moment, the door to the chamber opened and the matron strode in with a stern expression. "My lord, it's time to return 1243 to her room." Rose and Jack stood, ready to fight her on the matter, but she produced the restraints again and immediately clipped them around Rose's wrists. There was no time for discussion or thought as she forced an uncertain Rose out of the room
"Hang on a second," Jack said, following them into the hallway. "I'm ready to take the girl home, not let you take her back to some miserable little cell."
The matron looked grim. "You may come back after the time of her monthly flow when we will know whether she has conceived or not. If she has not, you may copulate with her again."
"I paid for her companionship." His tone had a steely edge. This situation was sounding worse by the second.
She shifted to catch at the restraints around Rose's wrists. "And so you have had it. In the meantime, it is important that we keep her under our care to better facilitate reproduction and prenatal care. You will be given the boy if he survives his first year. Any girl produced will be returned to the general pool and raised here. You may have 1243's permanent companionship once she has given her fertility to Escobar."
"You would say that and make everything more difficult." Jack saw the insidiousness of the way they controlled the population, to keep women bearing children every nine months until they could no longer do it. Permanent companionship would be almost impossible when the likelihood was more that they would be dead by the time they were thirty. "Didn't you learn your lesson from the Middle Ages of Earth?"
Farnsworth arrived at that moment, glancing between the matron and Jack with keen interest. "Viscount, is something wrong?"
"Your matron won't let me leave with this girl. I paid good money for her companionship and I expect it to happen more than once a month," Jack demanded imperiously.
"Sir!" the matron argued, but there was a sudden cacophony of noise at the front of the complex that stopped her almost immediately.
Farnsworth shifted his attention to his employee. "Matron Adams, please go find out what is going on in the reception area. I'll talk to the Viscount." With one last annoyed look at Jack, she departed; Rose immediately moved back to Jack's side and touched his hand awkwardly, the restraints hindering her movement. "I see you did get on with your selection. Excellent."
Sick of the man's fawning and the way he looked at Rose, Jack gazed coolly at Farnsworth and produced his gun, pointing it at the man's heart. "You will let me leave with Miss Tyler."
Eyeing the gun with trepidation, the director tried to stall. "My lord, this is highly irregular."
"You're going to make me shoot you, aren't you?"
"My lord, I would never dream of it," Farnsworth said although his hands were already reaching for Rose's arm. "But she is the property of Escobar. You have merely paid for her company and her sons."
"You will not touch Rose." Jack pulled the trigger and nothing happened. "Damn," he swore, dropping the gun onto the ground beside him. Some day he and the Doctor were going to have a discussion about his gun issues, but that day would only come if they lived through this one.
Farnsworth had grabbed his shirt in anticipation of the shot, but when it didn't come, he relaxed a little. "Can't we discuss this like reasonable men? Surely, you wouldn't want to add murder to your list of great deeds. And all this for a girl who is nothing special," he added.
"Murder is the least of my great deeds, Farnsworth," Jack answered, pushing Rose behind him. The anger coursing through his blood reminded him of the way he had felt on Satellite Five when he thought Rose was dead and the Doctor was numb. He hadn't been able to do much damage to the things that had taken her, to the things that had led to the death of the Doctor he had known, but this man, this cretin, he could do a lot of damage to. "And killing you with my bare hands will give me great pleasure."
Swallowing, Farnsworth looked to the gun on the ground. "My lord!"
"I’m not anyone's lord. Haven't you figured that out yet? I'm just a man who walked in off the street and said I was a lord. The money I gave you – it was stolen from your government."
Farnsworth appeared stricken by the revelation, but he regained his composure quickly and pressed a nearby button. "Guards, we have an intruder on the premise!"
The next thing Jack and Rose knew Farnsworth was toppling over onto the floor with blood pouring out of a bullet hole in his chest. Startled, Jack and Rose looked toward a young woman with bright green eyes and tangled brown hair, holding the forgotten gun. She let it drop onto the floor and stared at the director with a satisfaction tinged with madness. "He's dead," she murmured, touching her stomach reassuringly.
"Libby?" Rose said, reaching for her arm.
"Ma'am?" Jack asked softly, trying not to startle the woman.
When she gazed at him, her expression was peaceful, a far cry from the insanity they had just glimpsed. "He can't touch us anymore. He won't take my daughter from me the way he took my son."
Ever compassionate, Rose moved toward her while Jack picked up the dropped weapon. "I expect we can get you back to your family, Libby, once we find a way out of here."
She sneered at the body. "He was my family and our son will be just like him. No, my family is right here," she said, patting her pregnant belly. Jack's desire to hurt Farnsworth was even stronger than it had been. Too bad he was dead now. "You should leave while you can still slip away."
"We can't just leave you." Rose's protests fell on deaf ears as Libby dismissed her words.
"A change is coming," she answered, cocking her head. Jack listened intently, hearing the faint roar of a distant crowd. Alarms and increasingly terrified lockdown announcements began to sound over their heads. "So much for slipping away."
"What do you think is happening?" Rose asked.
Jack peered at the security panel and pressed a few buttons. "It looks like the men have come to reclaim their women judging from the angry crowd. I think they're trying to take back their lives from government control." He frowned – the technology the mob wielded was expensive and not the sort anyone would expect from people who lived in dilapidated homes. There wasn't time to consider the situation further since the mob was heading in their general direction and keeping Rose safe was his prime directive. "We have to go, Rose." Turning away, he grabbed her hand and dashed for the chamber that they had just left.
"Jack, this is a dead end."
"Doctor, I think it's time for plan B," Jack said, lifting a panel off his watch and talking into the small speaker. "We're about fifty yards from the northwest corner of the complex."
Rose peered expectantly at the watch. "Doctor?"
Smiling apologetically, Jack shut the panel and shook his head. "Sorry, Rose, we only had time to set up a one-way commlink."
"Why didn't he come for me sooner?" she demanded suddenly, realizing that there was a possibility that she would have been rescued sooner. Her face fell as another thought occurred to her. "Did he hear everything, you know, from before?"
He understood immediately what she was asking. "He couldn't be sure the TARDIS would land in the right place. This complex is locked up tighter than the crown jewels and alien technology would have set off an alarm that would make it impossible for him to rescue you without knowing exactly where you were in the complex. He was concerned that you would be at risk if he did mount a blind rescue attempt," he said with a reassuring look. "And the only thing the Doctor heard was our location and your voice. I'm the one who activates the commlink and I haven't done it except for what you just heard."
"He must be going crazy." Rose grinned as Jack joined her in amusement. They both knew that the Doctor wasn't one for sitting still if there was action to take. "He hates to be useless."
"Who said anything about being useless?" the Doctor said after the TARDIS walls appeared around them. "I was out financing the mob with government compensation while you two were having a lay about."
"Doctor!" Rose said and hurtled toward his waiting arms for an awkward hug. Hanging back, Jack watched them with a familiar twinge of envy and wistfulness. The more things changed, the more they stayed the same.
"Let me see your hands." The Doctor released her from the restraints with a turn of his sonic screwdriver. "I was beginning to think you were never going to call," he chastised. Jack took the halfhearted scolding without complaint; no one missed the sharp relief in his expression at Rose's safety.
"I told you I'd bring her back."
"But no one made that promise about you," the Doctor said, surprising Jack with his candid comment and a tight hug. The Doctor had been worried about him as much as he had worried about Rose. Jack was reminded again how much the Doctor had trusted him to save Rose when he couldn't do it. They were a long way from a bomb site in 1940s London and the Doctor did still care about him. He wondered why he wasn't angry about being abandoned on Satellite Five even though he knew it didn't matter, hadn't mattered since the Doctor had asked for his help in rescuing Rose. All that mattered to him was this moment in the TARDIS, reunited with the two people he loved best. "So what did you two get up to?"
Rose and Jack shared one look and burst into laughter. "I don't think you'd believe us if we told you," Jack sputtered.
"Take a chance."
In a sunny voice, Rose announced, "We had sex and talked about Jack's threesome fantasies."
Jack might have melted on the spot if it hadn't been for the stunned expression on the Doctor's face. Trying to suppress another fit of hilarity, he gestured wildly at Rose. "Rose!"
The smirk she shot his way said more than enough. "Okay, we pretended to have sex for the cameras so that the director guy would let me leave. But the thing about Jack's fantasy was true."
"Pretended to have sex?" the Doctor asked in a bemused tone.
"It was so much fun." Rose skipped across the floor of the TARDIS and spun Jack around with delight. "Unfortunately, he was a perfect gentleman."
Jack twirled her briefly and winked at the Doctor. "All the talky parts with none of the fun if you know what I mean." Slightly more serious, he continued, "It was the best way to get Rose out without risking you. I got a peek at their alien defense system and it was nasty."
"You still should have called me to let me know what was going on," the Doctor said. "You could have left the commlink on once you found Rose."
"No." The negative reply came from Rose, not Jack. "I'm glad you didn't hear our reunion and what followed. It was private." That comment hurt the Doctor judging from the flash of pain in his eyes, but Jack understood – she hadn't wanted the Doctor to hear the regret she had about the regeneration. She cared enough about the new Doctor to spare his feelings when he expected her to have gotten over her residual pain.
"Trust me, Doctor, it was nothing more than us trying to play our parts."
The Doctor looked somewhat satisfied by the response although he still gave Rose a look of concern that she brushed aside. "The diversion was fantastic. It was a good thing, too – I don't think Farnsworth would have let us out otherwise."
"Simple trick," he said modestly. "While everyone else is going in the front door, slip out the back."
"Which reminds me, Doctor, you left the first chamber of the gun empty. I tried to shoot Farnsworth and nothing happened," Jack accused.
"How was I to know that you wouldn't try more than one time to use the gun? I had to be sure you wanted someone dead."
"It doesn't matter," Rose intervened. "Libby got her justice. Do you think the death of Farnsworth will be enough?"
Jack exchanged a look with the Doctor. "The corruption went deeper into the government than Farnsworth. He was nothing more than a pawn."
"The uprising of the people might be enough to turn the crisis around though. If they can stand strong against the people who told them that it was in their best interest to have their womenfolk examined so they could kidnap them, Escobar might recover as a viable planet in less than five centuries."
Rose considered the possibility. "Maybe the TARDIS didn't make a mistake by dropping us on Escobar. We helped start a revolution and got Jack back."
"Handy man to have around," the Doctor said, clapping him on the shoulder. "So where to next?"
Confusion warred with hope in Jack's brain, but he settled for looking at the Doctor neutrally. "Shouldn't the next destination be Earth 2007 so you can take me home?"
Rose was first to deny his question. "What? No, you'll be traveling with us." She faltered uncertainly and gazed at the Doctor with pleading eyes. "Right, Doctor?"
"It's his decision, Rose. He might want to go back to his stuffy job with fake alien artifacts. Maybe Earth is his home now."
Jack stared at Rose's hopeful face and the Doctor's almost uncertain expression. It wasn't a decision he needed to make; it was a decision made the moment he knew what had happened to the Doctor on Satellite Five. "If I'm going to go with you, I need to leave my resignation with the Prime Minister."
"So what are you doing standing around looking pretty?" the Doctor said gruffly. "Get the communication system back up to par before we leave for Earth."
"I'm not the prettiest one in the TARDIS anymore." Jack moved up to the console with a significant smile at Rose.
She laughed. "He's right, Doctor. You can't make fun of him anymore."
"What do you mean?"
"Have you looked in a mirror?" Jack asked wryly.
The Doctor rolled his eyes but accepted the good-natured ribbing. Bubbling over with joyful laughter, Rose spread her arms wide. "This is it."
The other two looked at each other with puzzled expressions. "This is what, Rose?"
"This is what's been missing, Doctor. We've traveled all over time and space looking for something even though we didn't know anything was missing. But it was Jack. It's always been Jack."
Her warmth and love gave Jack a feeling of contented satisfaction, but it was nothing compared to the way he felt when he glanced up to find the Doctor staring at him. "I'm sorry that we left you for as long as we did, Jack. I did mean to go back to get you, but alternate universes and black holes kept getting in the way."
He heard the regret in the Doctor's tone and it was enough for Jack. "No problem," he said with a smile. "I can imagine how hard it is to break in one Companion much less two after a regeneration. The important thing is that you did come back." Turning his attention back to the communications system, it only took a few more minutes of calibration before he announced, "We are back online."
"Right, Harriet Jones, London, circa 2007." The Doctor programmed the destination into the console with a small grin.
"She's going to be very surprised to see us," Rose said, frowning. "You don't think she'll arrest us, do you?"
Jack smiled faintly. "You've just got to know how to talk to her."
His grin widened. "It's not like that, Rose."
A familiar whirring and a gentle thud later, the TARDIS doors opened to reveal a small, cozy office and Harriet Jones standing with a wary expression. The Doctor and Rose strolled through the door, hand in hand. "Prime Minister," he greeted.
"What do you need, Doctor?" Her voice was cool and polite. "Another invasion?"
Jack emerged, distinctly aware of the tension in the room. He ignored it in favor of striding toward Harriet. "It depends on your definition of invasion. Do two humans and a Time Lord count?"
"Captain Harkness!" Pleased surprise replaced the cool politeness when she spotted Jack.
"Now, now, what I have I told you about that Captain business? It's Jack to my friends." He was very fond of the old girl – she had rescued him from UNIT and given him a purpose until he could track down Rose and the Doctor. She had been kind to him even after she knew that he was a friend of the Doctor. And he respected the job she had to do even if she hadn't warned him of the Doctor's change.
She glanced at the pair standing nearby. Rose was beaming as if Christmas had never happened, but the Doctor was giving the room a casual once-over. "I should have known that you wouldn't have Gwen cancel a meeting with me for anyone except them," she said softly.
"Rose was in danger," he said without preamble. "He needed help to rescue her."
"I'm sure she was." Harriet touched his arm and stared up at his expression with a quizzical look. "You've come to give me your resignation." It was a statement of fact that he refused to deny.
"You always could read me so well," he said. "They've invited me back to the TARDIS."
Removing her hand, she nodded with a smile of acceptance. "And you'll go. They're your family and I knew this was only temporary until you found each other again." Her voice was a touch frosty when she spoke over his shoulder. "Isn't that right, Doctor?"
"It's not the Doctor's decision, Prime Minister." Jack looked between them, two friends-turned-adversaries, and shook his head. They had never spoken about the Sycorax and Christmas, not because she was ashamed of her actions but because she hadn't wanted to tarnish his opinion of her or the Doctor. It was the fairest thing she could do and the only reason he knew the gory details was Gwen who had a contact in the London office. "I understand why you blew up the Sycorax, but I also understand why the Doctor did what he did."
"It was genocide," the Doctor added unhelpfully, but he subsided into silence when Jack glared at him.
"You've never traveled among the stars, Harriet. You don't know what exists beyond what you've seen so you'll never understand the beauty of Grosner's music or the view of a pink ocean lapping at the green sand of Vederblount. The Earth has plenty to offer the universe, but so does the universe have plenty to offer Earth. Blowing up the Sycorax did nothing more than keep the aliens at bay a little longer and when they come, there won't be warning before there's hostile fire. After all, the next visitors won't know that the planet is protected. And it is protected so long as the Doctor is welcome here."
Before Harriet could interrupt, Jack continued, "I'm not here to fight old battles. I'm here to thank you, Prime Minister, for giving me the chance to develop Torchwood into an organization that will fight at your side. To thank you for being a friend when I needed one."
Harriet looked at him with a compassionate smile. "You're a dear boy, Jack, and a good man. I want you to do me a favor though."
"If it's within my power, Prime Minister," he pledged.
Lowering her voice, she inclined her head toward the Doctor. "Keep him in line, Captain. You and Rose are the only ones who can do that."
Regretfully, he shook his head. "I can't promise anything of the sort. The Doctor usually has good reasons for what he does and I trust in his reasons."
"Thank you, Captain Harkness, I accept your resignation," she said in the same cool, measuring tone that she had greeted the Doctor with. She understood that he was choosing the Doctor, but she didn't approve of his choice. Her dismissal stung painfully until Rose walked over to squeeze his hand for support and the Doctor placed a hand on his shoulder.
Jack wanted to say something comforting to the Prime Minister, but the Doctor's hand tightened. "No, Jack, you'll only make it worse. As far as she's concerned, you've made your choice and nothing you say will change her mind."
"And what do you think, Doctor? Have I made my choice? Am I just throwing my lot in with you?"
He smiled lightly. "I think you've made your choice on terms you've already decided. Maybe it's because you love Rose. Maybe it's because you want to make sure I don't destroy the human race. Maybe it's to appease your curiosity about who I am now."
Jack's answering grin was equally humorous. "And what if it's a little bit of everything?"
"Then I know it's going to take more than a drink and a story to figure it all out," the Doctor said. "Shall we go then?"
"It's a good thing we have all the time in the world," Rose chimed in, slipping her other hand into the Doctor's. "But while we're here, I was thinking we should pop by to see my mum."
"What? I get to meet the famous Jackie Tyler at last?" Jack said teasingly, beginning to follow them back to the TARDIS. He glanced back at Harriet and was surprised at how lonely she suddenly appeared. No one would ever sit and talk about the Doctor, the Slitheen, the truth about the future of the human race because it was all too extraordinary to discuss with people who didn't know. Still, when she caught his gaze, she lifted her chin and stared back with a strong, resolute expression. There was no question that she would continue down her own path to greatness.
"Jack, are you coming?" Rose asked, tugging on his hand. His two years of missing memories notwithstanding, he had joined the Time Agency to be a brilliant Agent. He made sure that his sex partners knew just how fantastic he was in bed. He had set out to be the greatest con man to ever hit the Time Agency in the pocketbook. Even in Torchwood, he had attempted to excel at his role in the facility and to be indispensable to the government. And yet none of his attempts to be great matched the way he felt when he saw Rose's happy face and the Doctor's thoughtful smile, the love that surged within. It was hard to believe that his whole world had changed in a few hours due to a simple word from a man he thought he didn't know.
He turned his back on Harriet one last time and grinned at his family. "Let's go. I'm sure there's an adventure waiting for us. Perhaps we'll find an alien in a pub near the Powell Estate."
"You mean another alien," Rose corrected, looking at the Doctor significantly.
"Keep that up and you'll never see if Jack's fantasies match reality," he said.
Rose shoved him lightly. "Quit teasing."
Instead of focusing on Rose, the Doctor glanced at Jack, including him in the joke and the moment. "Who said I'm teasing?"
Jack grinned. "I'll be holding you to that promise, Doctor."