When you've lived longer than you can count (plus or minus thousand or so years) the rules of the universe become clearer:
Things are always more interesting when you travel to places with names that start with "Un-". The Unclimbable Mountain of Tarsus. The Unwooable Princess. The Unseeable Crystal Caves. The Uncharted Territories.
People (and most non-hive mind, non-ascended species) are all pretty much the same.
Money is worthless.
Favors are worth everything.
No matter where you go, no matter when you go, the Doctor will always make it more interesting.
Skip the dull parts, but don't assume that the day-to-day tea and biscuits are dull.
Famous people aren't any more interesting than regular people.
Except when they're way more interesting.
Jack found himself searching for a number in the market of Te'alk 'rissa. The shops were shadowed, the market of Te'alk 'rissa had no goods on display. The vendors were a mix of species, some Nebari, some Zenetan, and a lot of mix and match species.
He already had the coordinates of a Marnsi auction in his pocket, the winning lottery numbers for next week's Hynerian games, the phone number of the most beautiful woman in 1949 Europe.
He was looking for a different number. A date, to be specific. The date that Twelfth Doctor will (has already, will again, timey wimey) appear on the planet of the Kaldari.
The market of Te'alk 'rissa was famous for numbers.
Approaching a stall, he recognized the vendor, a blind Luxan.
"I have a number for you," the Luxan said.
"Is it your contact frequency, gorgeous?" Jack asked, leaning against the counter. "I am looking for a date."
The Luxan barked laughter, her facial tattoos changing with her smile. "I can sell you the number of named children on Vega in 2629."
Jack snorted. "That's public record."
"The public record is wrong," the Luxan said. "Isn't that interesting?"
It was tempting. The type of mystery that the Doctor would like, when they finally caught up.
As he began the opening maneuver to bargain for the number of named children on 2629 Vega, a child crashed into his knees, rolled up and sprinted fast and hard in another direction. Subtly, Jack checked his pockets, but his hand found all his data chips. Around him, shops shut their doors, one after the other.
The other thing that the market of Te'alk 'rissa was famous for was its empaths and precognitives. Nowhere in the galaxy were there so many in one place.
From the direction the child ran from, there was an explosion, smoke rising and the sound of a building collapsing. The ground shook. The smell of Chakan Oil burned at his nose.
When he was two hundred, he might have run towards the explosion. When he was five hundred, he might have gone to look for survivors.
He was older than anything in the universe (and still wrong, capital W, dot at the end) so instead he went for a drink. The number of bars on the planet were relative to the season: the elliptical orbit made it unique in its solar system. During the high trading season there were as many as two bars to a block. As the planet cooled, moving further from the sun, the number of bars decreased, closing for the winter. This time of year, you were lucky to find five open in all of Te'alk 'riss.
But you didn't live to be as old as he was without having a nose for liquor.
"A Varshan Mix," he ordered. "And open a tab."
"Drinking alone?" someone asked near his elbow. "No one as pretty as you should have to drink alone."
It was a Nebari. Young, because her skin was still flawless, smooth of wrinkles. She leaned into his space and he saw her duck her head, turn it and raise her face again, chin first. He liked the way Nebari moved. A human might find it off putting, but he'd always found their movements more like a dance. Graceful and alien.
"One for her, too," he said.
She tilted her head again, leaned to sniff him.
"You got a name?" she asked.
Jack laughed. "A few. Do you?"
"A few," she said. "But most people call me Chiana."
"Jack," he said. She put a gloved hand high on his arm, almost on his shoulder.
"Jack," she tried out his name. "Jack."
The thing about young Nebari was that they were as sensual as he'd once been. Willing to do anything. They liked to travel.
Having been to the Nebari homeworld, he couldn't say he blamed them. So when she asked, coyly if he had somewhere they could go, he didn't say no.
Jack took her back to his ship. It was a beaten thing, stolen from under the noses of a Peacekeeper Ghost Unit. He'd had it for years. Long enough to be able to tell that something wasn't right before he even lowered the ramp.
"Now," said a voice behind him. Male. Human, speaking English. Jack missed the days when guns clicked or made a whining noise to show they were active. "This is how it's going to go. You're going to open your ship and you're going to tell any commandos you've got out there that we're going to trade. Aeryn for you. And if this doesn't go right, I have to tell you, I have a lot of experience with some really nasty people, so don't bother sniffing my ass, just roll over and show your stomach."
"Listen, there's been a mistake," Jack said. "I'm not a Sebacean. This marauder? Stolen."
He moved his hand to the Nebari next to him, trying to keep her out of the way of the gun. She danced out of his reach, sweeping aside his Greatcoat to pull his gun from his holster.
Jack laughed. "All right. All right. Ask your friend," he said, jerking his chin at the Chiana.
"He's telling the truth, John." Chiana had pocketed his gun and was pulling everything out of his pockets.
"Shit," the voice – John – said. "Well, wrap it up, Chi. Aeryn's been kidnapped."
The man came around to his front and clapped him on the shoulder. "Sorry, I saw the marauder and assumed that they were the only ones who'd be able to take her."
He was tall, not Jack's height, but moved well. He moved like a man used to action and fighting. His clothes were typical Peacekeeper garb: leather pants and a red tac vest. Not too muscled, so probably not one of the mercenaries Jack had seen all over the planet. His eyes were a pale blue.
Oh, yeah, Jack would have a hard time choosing between Chiana and this guy. No argument that a man who knew how to move the way this guy did would be awesome in the sack.
"D'Argo?" Chiana asked. All of Jack's possessions had disappeared and he didn't bother to ask for them back. Once you'd won one Hynerian lottery, they were all pretty much the same.
"Safe," John said. He sighed and rubbed at his eyes with one hand. "Let's go, Chi."
"Maybe some other time," Chiana grinned, then leaned up on her tip toes to kiss his lips.
It had been a long string of what the Doctor would call tea and biscuit days.
"I might be able to help you," Jack said.
"Zalid?" John asked.
"A vendor," Jack said. "They always know things that go on in the market. If your friend was kidnapped, they'd know who did it."
"They?" John asked.
Chiana giggled. "Parn, right? Hive mind?"
"Yep," Jack grinned. "And boy do those Parn know how to throw a party. And they like space boys as cute as you."
Ignoring Jack's wink, John said, "You remember when rescuing Aeryn didn't involve me in a dress?"
"Chi," John said. "You'd better have gotten the data."
Jack laughed, slinging an arm over John's shoulders. The man did have the legs for a miniskirt. "Don't be so dour! They loved you! Do you know, I got offers of up to a hundred thousand credits for you?"
"Well, now," John said, sarcasm. "I hope you told them that I'm yours exclusive. We're going steady after all. Chiana. The information?"
"Zalid said that there'd been an acquisition in the market today," Chiana said, grinning manically. "A genuine hero. Something that could bring in a lot of credits from a collector. He said that something worth that wouldn't be taken directly to a Marnsi auction in case someone wanted to steal it."
"What does that mean?" John asked. He was stripping out of the outfit and Jack didn't bother hiding his appreciative glance. There was more to the boy than a nice gun.
John glanced over his shoulder and glared at Jack. "Privacy, please?"
"My ship," Jack grinned. "My strip show."
He turned towards Chiana who was still grinning at John. "Zenetans are worse than magpies. They find something valuable and they stick it somewhere safe before anyone else can get it."
"How the hell are we supposed to find a hidey hole in an entire system of hidey holes?" John started pulling on the leather pants that Jack personally thought weren't over the top at all.
Chiana was looking around the marauder's controls and then back at Jack. "Zelid said that you'd bought the coordinates to the Marnsi auction and that he didn't cheat Jack Harkness."
"You already knew where the auction would be?" John asked, glaring. "Why the hell did I get all dressed up like a hooker for prom night?"
"Well," Jack said, holding his hands up. "I didn't know that's where they'd take her. They might have sold her directly to a collector, or sold her to some system lord as a host..."
"Just tell us where the damn auction is," John said, still glaring.
Still fighting a grin, Jack said, "Give me the chip."
Reaching between her breasts, Chiana found the datachip she'd stolen from him and handed it back to him. Jack plugged it into the computer.
"Marnsi auctions change locations all the time, so if you get the coordinates it's not really coordinates to the auction." He zoomed in on the map. "It's coordinates to the first clue."
"You think they'd store her on the route to the auction?" John's face was cold. "That's dangerous."
"No," Jack said. "I think that they'd leave a trail for someone who wanted to see the goods before the auction."
Chiana nodded and threaded her way between Jack and the control panel. "Y-yeah. A code. Something to tell collectors what they had."
"Well, let's go. Sunlight's burning." John looked at Jack with narrowed eyes.
"I'm not a ferry service," Jack said. He liked Chiana, and he could appreciate someone as pretty as John, but this really wasn't his problem.
"Well," Chiana said, turning until her breasts were pressed up against Jack's chest. "It's not like we couldn't pay a fare."
"Chi," John said in warning.
"What do you say. Not many people go up against Zenetan pirates." She moved, holding her body in one of those positions that Nebari seemed to find so easy. Leaning in to whisper in his ear, she said, "It would be... exciting."
He took a step back from Chiana. There was always the chance of getting too involved. He always did it. Some odd thousand years old and he couldn't find any perspective on life.
"It must Aeryn Sun, right?" he looked from Chiana to John. "Which makes you John Crichton."
"Yeah," John said, sounding tired. "And I know... I look taller in my mugshots, the camera adds ten pounds and I don't have any advice for getting on the Uncharted's most wanted list."
"When I was a kid..." Jack paused, trying to remember that far back (his life was a series of things he had forgotten). He squinted, then shook his head. "Never mind. Let's find a hero."
They found her with a lot of luck, a couple of bribes and some outright theft. John and Chiana's Blind Man's Bluff was good. Not as good as Jack's Daisy Chain, but good enough to fool the bartender into giving them the first coordinates to the empty planet the Zenetans liked to use before auctions.
Then it was just an old fashioned gunfight, Chiana squirming into their ship through an airlock and putting a bomb inside their engine and the threat of massive destruction before they were throwing the crate with Aeryn in it out and turning on tail to run.
Jack had to admit, John's speeches were pretty frightening. 'You have no idea what hell I will rain down on you.' Jack would have to steal that one.
Definitely not tea and biscuits.
"John Crichton and Aeryn Sun." Jack leaned back against the marauder, watching Aeryn lay John out flat on his ass. Chiana was pacing in looping figure 8's. "He looks a lot better in a dress than the books say."
Chiana paused and leaned to look at him. "They might be a while."
Jack laughed. "Think we can find a way to pass the time?"
Definitely not a tea and biscuits day.