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The Stolen Earth Incident

Chapter Text

 

30 April 2009

The TARDIS

 

Jack held both Rose and the Doctor’s current companion back as the Time Lord began the regeneration.

He held out a small hope that the next version of the Doctor would perhaps let go the events on the Valiant, that they would at least be able to move on from it.  But he wasn’t counting on it.

The immortal missed his Doctor, the one who’d accepted an unrepentant conman onto the TARDIS at Rose’s urging and had changed him into a much better man.  Although it had been that Doctor to have ultimately abandoned him on the Gamestation, they’d been friends, and Jack had been half in love with him, willing to give his life for that version of the Time Lord. 

This version…this was the one who’d called him wrong, even though it hadn’t been his fault that he’d been made immortal.  That had been down to the woman in his arms, someone he’d also loved more than he should, and he couldn’t blame her for it.  What Rose had done had been out of her love for him, and it had led him to his mate.  Jack had, for a long time, despaired of his life until he’d met Ianto, and while he’d screwed things up so badly between them they’d eventually moved past it all and now they’d be together for eternity.

Golden light coruscated about the Doctor, obscuring his face as he was flung his arms outward with the force of the power flooding him.  Jack blinked against the glare, his grasp on both women tightening as he felt Rose flinching from what was happening.

Rose was another matter Jack wanted to talk about, but it could wait. 

Suddenly though, the Doctor was moving against the tide of his regeneration.  His arms came down and he bent forward, and the energy that had been pulsing through him was directed toward something else, something that had been tucked into a small corner underneath the console.

Jack couldn’t make out what it was, it was obscured within the gold energy that engulfed it.  He flinched back, taking Rose and Donna with him.  He moved slightly, just enough to put himself between them and the stream, needing to protect them from whatever was going on.

Out of the corner of his eye, he caught a glimpse of Clint.  The SHIELD archer was standing guard by the doors, his bow out with an arrow on the string, ready for action.  His sharp eyes were watching everything that was going on, and Jack felt bad that he couldn’t take the time to explain.  He knew how much he hated working in the dark, and not being able to clue Clint in on what was happening made him feel as if he was failing the man.  While Clint might not officially work for Torchwood, he was still looking after Jack, and the immortal needed to make certain he was doing what he needed to do to make certain they got through this.

The light faded out and the Doctor stumbled backward.

He looked exactly the same.

Jack was disappointed…not that he was about to admit that.

“Well,” the Time Lord said, straightening his tie, “now, where were we?”

“What the hell was that?” Jack demanded.  That wasn’t anything like any sort of regeneration that he’d read about. 

The Doctor didn’t answer right away.  Instead, he knelt on the TARDIS grating, his nose right up against the glass of what was a clear container, in which a hand was floating.  Glowing energy flowed around the hand, until the Doctor gently blew on it, and the glow dissipated. 

Jack recognised it.

It was the Doctor’s hand.

The last time Jack had seen it had been on the Valiant, back during that Year.  The Master had gotten it from the Doctor; Jack had used it as a detector, in order to know when the Time Lord came back into the area.  He himself had gotten it from Torchwood One, after it had fallen to the Daleks and Cybermen.  He’d had Suzie look for it particularly, since Yvonne Hartman had bragged to all sundry about finding it after the incident with the Sycorax.  Apparently, the Doctor had lost it in a fight with the Sycorax leader, and had grown a new one.  Jack still wasn’t sure how that had happened.

The Master had been able to use it to tap into the Doctor’s biodata, and it had allowed him to age the Doctor by centuries while keeping him from regenerating.  Jack still remembered the Doctor, reduced to a dwarfish caricature in a gilded cage.

He couldn’t blame the Doctor at all for confiscating it.  Jack was just surprised he hadn’t destroyed it yet.

“Quiet, you,” the Doctor crooned to the hand.  He stood up, looking smug, jamming his hands into his pockets. 

“How?” Rose asked, her voice tinged with hope.

“You see,” he began, and of course he was going to answer Rose and not Jack, “I used the regeneration energy to heal myself.  As soon as that was done, I didn’t need to change.  I didn’t want to.  After all, why would I?  Look at me!” He threw his hands out to his sides, a huge grin on his face.  Then he went back into lecture mode.  “So, to stop the energy from going all the way, I siphoned it off into a handy bio-matching receptacle.  Namely, my hand.”  He gestured toward the jar.  “That’s my hand, there.  My handy spare hand.”  He wriggled his fingers.  “You remember?  Christmas Day?  The Sycorax? Lost my hand in a sword fight?  That’s my hand.”

“That’s kinda gross,” Clint commented flippantly, “keeping your cut-off hand around like that.”

Clint might have had a valid point.

The Doctor completely ignored him, his eyes instead on Rose.  Jack couldn’t see the expression on her face from where he was standing, but he could guess it was a mixture of love and hope.

“And you’re still…you?” she asked softly, uncertainly, as she took a step forward.

The Doctor’s own face had melted into a fond expression, and it made Jack’s heart ache a little to see it.  Even back during the regeneration that Jack had cared for, there had been the beginnings of that affection between the Time Lord and Rose, but it must have really blossomed once the Ninth had become the Tenth judging from the cow eyes that he was giving her.

Jack wanted to be jealous.  It just wasn’t in him to be like that, especially now that he had a mate of his own and after the falling out he and the Doctor had had.

“I’m still me,” he said, smiling sweetly.

Before Jack could even register it, Rose had practically jumped into the Doctor’s arms.  He was hugging her fiercely, and the immortal could swear that there were tears in his ancient eyes. 

Jack suddenly wanted nothing more than to be back in the Hub, with his mate. 

Then he felt eyes on him, and there was Donna Noble.  The redhead was staring at him, her arms crossed, looking at him as if she was trying to figure him out.  “And you and your bow-carrying friend are?” she challenged.

“Captain Jack Harkness,” he said, wanting to be polite.  Donna hadn’t done anything to him, so there was no need to be rude.  “And this is my associate, Clint Barton.”

Clint gave her an off-hand salute from his position at the TARDIS doors. 

“And you know the Doctor how?”

“I don’t know him,” Clint piped up.  “I’m just here to watch his back,” he jerked a thumb toward Jack, “because his boyfriend can’t be.”

Donna sighed.  “Why are all the cute ones taken?”

Normally, Jack would have preened at that remark, but he just wasn’t feeling it today.  “I know the Doctor because I used to travel with him,” he answered her. 

Rose looked as if she wanted to say something, but the Time Lord interrupted.

“That was a long time ago.”

Jack frowned at the Doctor’s tone.  “You’ve been busy, I take it?” he growled, throwing back to the Doctor the words he’d used with Jack when they’d met again after that wild trip to the far future.

The Doctor stood there, his arm around Rose, glaring at Jack as if he was the last person he wanted to see.  Which was most likely correct.

Rose was glancing between them, her brows drawn in puzzlement.  Of course…she had no idea what had gone on between them.  All she would remember was how they parted, and that she’d used the Vortex to bring him back.

Did she even know about his immortality? 

Most likely not, and he wasn’t about to tell her.

Jack loved Rose.  He’d been devastated when he’d thought she’d been killed at Canary Wharf, and had blamed Torchwood One for a long time for that.  After that, he’d held One responsible for what they’d done to the dragon who’d called herself Lisa, and for breaking his mate’s heart. 

But she’d just been trapped in another dimension, and not dead.  Now, she was back, she was with the Doctor, and he didn’t want to ruin that for her.

“I take it the pair of you don’t like each other very much then,” Donna piped up, managing to hit the nail on the head with one sentence.

“What?” Rose was stunned. “How did that happen?  And how did you even get here, Jack?”

“It’s not important,” Jack growled.  “Right now we have to deal with the Daleks and what they have planned.” He didn’t want to get into his and the Doctor’s issues; there were more important things going on that raking up the bad times, and Jack needed them focussed on that instead of anything else.   He was willing to put it all aside in order to save the planet.

The Doctor opened his mouth to speak, but the TARDIS went dark.

Gone were all the little noises that the time ship would make constantly.  Also gone was the familiar light mental touch that Jack had always felt when he was inside, that quiet intelligence that had been so very sorry for having in involve him in that disastrous trip into the far future.  He’d long forgiven her for it, and she knew that, and having the TARDIS so very silent was so very wrong.

The Doctor released his grasp on Rose, darting around the console, trying to get the power back on.  “They’ve got us!” he exclaimed.  “It’s some sort of chronon loop – “

Jack froze.  He knew immediately what that meant.  There would be no way to escape wherever the Daleks were taking them.  They were trapped.

The TARDIS lurched, and if it hadn’t been for the coral-like struts that surrounded the console room Jack would have been tossed to the floor.

As it was, Clint did go flying, bow thrown in one direction and the arrow that he’d been holding nocked to the string in another.  Rose was slammed into the console, and Donna into the far wall.  The Doctor somehow managed to hold onto the console as the TARDIS rocked and shuddered.

The Daleks must have been transferring them to their space station.

Jack wrapped his arms around the strut, trying to set his feet to keep from being pitched onto the floor.  Clint managed to grab one of the rails, holding himself in place. The Doctor had grasped Rose to him, and that left Donna, who wedged herself into a corner, crying out as she started to skid across the tilting deck.

The shaking seemed to go on forever.  Jack’s arms were getting tired, but he didn’t dare let go.  The last thing he wanted was to go head first into the console and risk getting himself hurt or worse, killed.  If he died then he might be out of the action, and the last thing he wanted to do was to not be able to protect those in the TARDIS.

And yes, that also included the Doctor.

No matter how the Time Lord felt about him, Jack still believed he owed him a debt.  He would repay that debt today, by taking care of those in his charge, and make certain the Earth got back to where it belonged.

After that, then he wouldn’t have minded never seeing the Doctor again.