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It was hard to tell the passage of time when you were travelling in the Tardis, but Jack figured he had been on board for ten days or so. Judging by how often they went to sleep and had breakfast. It wasn't clear how much food or sleep the Doctor needed, but he clearly took Rose's human needs into account. Maybe even Jack's, but it was surely first for Rose's benefit.

There were many strange things about being on board, but the strangest was this: feeling like he was a part of something. The past few days, he had had the distinct feeling that it wasn't just that Rose liked him and the Doctor let him hang around. It was as though he belonged. Like they were a team together. And it had been so long he had experienced that, he wasn't sure what to think of it.

He also wasn't sure what to think of the moments when his longing for the Doctor was something more complex and deeper than just the desire to shag every shaggable species in the Universe. So he didn't think of it. Mostly. When he did, it was rather disconcerting, and Jack didn't like being disconcerted. And Rose was always around, so it wasn't like anything could really happen. He adored Rose, of course, but she was very early 21st century and might have problems with Jack and the Doctor shagging in her presence (the 21st century was odd) even if Jack could get the Doctor to agree to it. Which was unlikely, anyway. The Doctor seemed to be willing to let him stay around for some time, but he never doubted that Rose came first. And they weren't doing anything together either.

So Jack let his fantasies and flirting run wild, but never seriously believed that they would become reality. The problem was, he was getting so damn attached to the two of them, he wondered what would happen if they ditched him. When. It was best to assume it was a question of 'when' and not 'if'. But he was going to make sure it was later rather than sooner.

Suddenly, over breakfast, Rose announced she wanted to visit her mother.

"Oh, I haven't seen London in the early 21st," Jack said brightly. "That should be fun."

Rose squirmed a little, but Jack was pretty damn sure she was trying not to giggle. "I think it's better I go alone. Doctor, you can pick me up at eight. And I mean at eight today, not next month."

When Rose was gone, Jack shot a questioning look at the Doctor. The expression he got in return seemed half grimace, half grin. "The last time I saw her, we didn't exactly become the best of mates." The Doctor's glance turned dour. "Don't ask me for the details."

"Sure won't. I'll ask Rose." Jack smiled widely. He was all jittery inside at the thought of spending a day alone with the Doctor. Not that Jack Harkness ever became jittery. Apparently Time Lords possessed strange powers. Well, at least he wasn't going to show he was jittery.

The Doctor clapped him on the back. "An' I suspect she's not eager to set her mother on a pretty boy like you."

Jack looked over his shoulder with one of his charming smiles. Hey, the Doctor had just sort of said he was pretty. It was a start. "Oh, I'm sure I could have handled her."
"Jackie Tyler? I wouldn't be too sure. C'mon, Captain, we've a busy day ahead."

"Where're we off to? Some other part of the 21st century?

"Nope. Don't think the 21st century is ready for you just yet."

"Oh?" Jack leaned against the wall in a position that showed off his body quite nicely. The Doctor might care. "Gonna keep me all to yourself, then?" His grin softened to what should be an enticing smile.

"That's right," the Doctor said with a bright grin. He bent down, rummaged in a drawer and came up with something that looked suspiciously like a toolbox. "A perfect day for Tardis repairs."

Jack blinked. "You want me to help fixing your ship?"

"Sure. 'Bout time you start earning your keep. Afraid of getting your hands dirty?" There was challenge in the Doctor's voice, an expectation that he'd get to poke at Jack in one way or another.

"Not in the least", Jack replied, feeling so excited he forgot to lace his voice with innuendo. "It's a rare man that gets a chance to work on such a beauty."

The Doctor gave him another sudden grin. "Dead right."

"Just wasn't sure you'd let anyone else touch her."

"Well, you'll be under my supervision. Doubt she's gonna let you do anything that'd harm her, anyway."

Jack rubbed his hands together. "Well, what are we waiting for? Let's get to work."

 

Jack knew his way very well around all sorts of tech – a former Time Agent had to, especially a former Time Agent who had made a habit of travelling all over Time in someone else's spaceship. Still, his head was swimming by the time the Doctor had explained what a portion of the console was doing. The Doctor noticed and commented in his lesser-species voice that of course Jack wasn't going to really understand, but he might still be able to help.

But tech was tech, even if he didn't understand the transdimensional physics of Time Lords to perfection, partly because some terms apparently existed only in Gallifreyan. Time Agency training hadn't covered that, seeing as Time Lords weren't supposed to exist. When Jack got down to work, he found out it didn't take long to start figuring his way around the energy feeding systems. The Doctor was watching his every move at first, but after a while he nodded contentedly and began working on a complicated set of circuits. "She's been very haphazard lately about where and when we end up," he mused. "Probably something here is burning itself out."

"Oh, I thought that was just your driving," Jack commented.

"Watch it, lad. You're flat on your back under my console."

Jack glanced up. "And isn't that exactly where you want me to be?" This time he didn't forget the innuendo.

The Doctor snorted. He didn't come up with a retort, which Jack thought was odd.

They worked some time mostly in silence that was only interrupted by Jack's occasional questions and comments about the tech, and the Doctor's answers. Jack noticed that as the Doctor realized Jack really did understand some parts of it fairly well, his answers became longer, his tone more excited. It was a little like someone finally getting to talk of a favorite obsession. After a while the Doctor came to him, knelt on the floor grating and inspected his work.

"Not bad," he said in a tone that meant 'good'. "You seem to know your way around."

"Well, one has to, if one goes about stealing spaceships," Jack commented.

"True, that," the Doctor said, nodding as though he had some experience. Maybe he did.

Jack sat up, too, and found himself suddenly very close to the Doctor. He could smell the leather jacket and something he could not name, as though looking at a color that didn't normally exist. He wondered what it was about the Doctor that made him think such thoughts. He turned his head and saw the Doctor looking at him, but averting his gaze as soon as Jack's eyes met him.

It was too good an opportunity to waste. "Want to know what else I know my way around?" He let his hand touch the Doctor's shoulder slightly. When the Doctor looked at him again, Jack made sure his facial expression couldn't leave any questions as to what he meant. The Doctor snorted.

"Oh, I should have guessed it would soon come to that, Captain. Surprised it took you this long. You must really like tech."

"Well, this ship of yours is a special case." Jack didn't take his hand off the Doctor's shoulder. In fact, he let it move slightly towards the Doctor's neck. "You think well of your own attractiveness."

"Bit rich, coming from you."

"I suppose," Jack admitted. "Oh, you have a good reason, of course." Jack leaned towards him. The Doctor stood up.

"Time to get back to work."

"All right. When we're done, do we get to play?"

The only answer was a dry laugh.

They worked for nearly a minute before the Doctor added: "You have to try a bit harder if you mean to get me, you know."

That had to be an invitation. "What sort of thing? Buy you a drink? Take you to a picnic?"

"Somethin' like that."

Jack got up and went to the Doctor. He put his hands on the Doctor's shoulders. The Doctor pointedly ignored the touch. Interesting. Jack massaged the shoulders a bit. They were tense. "You could use a little relaxation."

"I bet I know your methods of relaxation."

"Would it be so bad?"

The Doctor was silent.

"C'mon, Doctor. I know you haven't got any quaint 21st century notions about these things."

"I might have quaint Time Lord notions," the Doctor replied.

"Oh? No messing around with lesser species?"

"Somethin' of that sort."

"You really think so?" Jack moved hand onto the back of the Doctor's neck. The man shuddered, but he didn't shake off Jack's hand. Jack moved his hand, carefully, in a slow caress. He could hear the Doctor swallow.

"Just said I might." The voice suddenly sounded uncertain.

"Oh, but you wouldn't. You have far too much fun adventuring around with us backward things."

The Doctor spun around abruptly. "Still, who's to say I'd want anything of the sort with you?"

That was so hard, so blunt, that Jack actually stopped. Then he realized… it was too harsh. And the Doctor stared at him too intensely. He smiled.
"Just think about it, Doctor. You must sometimes want a…" He swept his hand down the Doctor's chest, watching something flicker in his face, watching him swallow. "…release. And who better than me?"

The Doctor laughed, briefly and dryly. "You think highly of yourself, Captain."

"Well, I'm pretty good, I think," Jack said modestly. "But I didn't mean that, really. It's just… You know me. I'm not someone you need to take seriously. Just me. I'm not…"

The Doctor snapped hold of his wrists and stared into Jack's eyes with a ferocity that made Jack stop mid-sentence for once. "The problem is," the Doctor half whispered, half growled, "you're part of my crew now, which means I am taking you seriously."

Jack stared into his eyes, suddenly feeling dizzy, like he was staring into a chasm and was in a danger of falling far, far down. Which, he realized, he was. And he should maybe have been worried about that, but instead, he leaned towards the Doctor.

He was standing inches away from the Doctor now, their mouths so close that he could feel the Doctor's breath on his mouth. He savored the moment, knowing how he intended to go on, how soon he would close the distance and…

He found himself pressed back against the wall of the Tardis, the Doctor's hands squeezing his shoulders hard, the Doctor's mouth on his. There was no tentativeness, no hesitation. There was the taste and smell of the Doctor everywhere, the Doctor ravenously claiming his mouth, holding him firmly in place. At first Jack was so stunned he didn't even remember to respond. Once he did, he made sure he gave the Doctor back as good as he got. Then the Doctor ended the kiss abruptly, drew back and stared at Jack, hands squeezing his shoulders hard.

"You just have to mess around with things you don't understand, lad, don't you?" he snarled.

"Yeah," Jack replied, he voice coming ragged, husky. And then the Doctor's mouth was on his neck, and Jack breathed: "Oh, God, yes."

There were a few more searing kisses, and the Doctor's hands wandering across his body. A sudden fierce storm of touch. Hands in his hair now, pulling, caressing in turns. The taste and smell of the Doctor all over. Clung to each other, explored each other with a sudden shared intensity and need. Jack let his hands slide underneath the leather jacket, feeling the tensing of the Doctor's muscles. The Doctor pushed Jack off him, but there was a dark grin on his face, a challenge in his eyes.

"Let's see if you're as good as your word, Captain," he said.

Jack did not need more urging. They stumbled into a corridor, into the first room they could find which contained a bed. Jack didn't have time to pay much other attention to it. He was aware this might be his only chance. He threw himself into the heat and the passion, feeling nothing but the Doctor, knowing it wasn't just desire and pleasure engulfing him but something far more dangerous but he didn't care, just threw himself head first into it, like he always did. And the Doctor, the Doctor was his for these brief moments, and damn it, Jack was able to make him happy, or something that could pass for happiness.

Afterwards he lay in nebulous haze, the Doctor's body near him, listening to the gradually slowing breath, keeping his eyes closed. He was afraid that this was going to dissipate as soon as he opened his eyes, and for some reason he wasn't ready for that. It was bad, bad that he was so unwilling to let go, but right now it was so good that he didn't care. He reached blindly towards the Doctor, brushed his lips against his face until he found his mouth, kissed him long and languid and deep. The Doctor let him. And for a moment, there was a tenderness in his response that really wasn't fair, all things considering.

After the kiss, the Doctor pulled away. By the time Jack could force himself to sit up, the Doctor was dressed already. His eyes met Jack's in a brief, hesitant glance. Jack thought he saw the shadow of a smile before the Doctor turned away.

"Well, clean yourself up, boy, and get back to work. We've still got half of the repairs left." And that was it, the Doctor disappeared and left Jack on his own to sort out which way his clothes were supposed to be worn. It shouldn't have been this complicated.

Back in the console room, he found the Doctor working as before. But he was humming a tune Jack didn't recognize, and Jack could have sworn his shoulders were more relaxed than before.

When Jack got ready to go back under the console, the Doctor threw him a tool. "Once you're finished down there, we'll see what you understand about Huon particles."

Huon? Those weren't even supposed to exist anymore. Jack grinned and saluted. "Yes, sir."

The Doctor rolled his eyes at the salute. "And if you're a good boy and finish early, we just might have time for a little trip. A darn good thing that for once I picked someone who knows his way 'round tech a bit. You'll be useful."

Jack smiled and set to work.