The Doctor was enjoying his dance with Rose, but was beginning to think it might be time to switch partners.
Rose ducked her head, attempting to hide her second yawn, then missed a step and ended up bumping into the Doctor. The Doctor stopped and leaned back slightly. "Think it's time for you to go to bed, young lady," he said, then reached over to the console to turn the music down a notch.
"Aw. Not…" Rose was interrupted by another yawn. She gave the Doctor an embarrassed look as she covered her mouth.
"Yeah, definitely bedtime for you." The Doctor glanced behind him at the third person in the room. Captain Jack Harkness, who had yet to move any further into the TARDIS than the edge of the platform the console sat on, was looking a little lost and alone, though the brash and confident con man from earlier in the night quickly reappeared once he noticed he was being watched.
"Sorry," Jack said, smiling at the two of them. "Feel free to just drop me off at the nearest convenient planet."
"Don't tell me you've got another volcano day you need to get to?" The Doctor immediately regretted the words when he saw the flicker of hurt in Jack's eyes, though not a lick of that hurt was evident in Jack's easy chuckle.
"Not that I'm aware of, no."
The Doctor knew Rose was biting her lower lip and giving him a pleading look even before he turned back towards her. She was probably remembering how things had turned out the last time she convinced him to let someone else travel with them. He gave her an elaborate sigh. "I'm not going to kick him off in the middle of nowhere," he said. "Go to bed. I'll take care of our guest."
"Be nice," she said.
"I'm always nice!" The Doctor rolled his eyes at Rose's dubious look. "Fine, I'll be nice."
Rose shook her head and leaned around him to say, "Night Jack."
Jack gave her a dazzling smile. "Night Rose."
Once Rose was out of the room, the Doctor walked over to the console and fiddled with a few dials. "Well," he said, "don't just stand there. You can come in you know. I don't bite."
Instead of jumping on that last line, Jack simply said, "Sorry." He walked a few steps forward, then stopped again. The Doctor gave him a look.
"Okay," he said, "You can stop saying sorry now."
"No, I think I've got a ways to go before I can stop saying that." Jack stuck his hands in his coat pocket and looked away, his façade crumbling a bit, and the Doctor caught another glimpse of the lonely man hidden behind it.
The Doctor sighed. The first crack in that façade had appeared as soon as Jack had realized what a mess his little con had produced. The Doctor had been surprised by the open shock and anguish on Jack's face at that moment, and by the stab of disappointment he felt when he realized how badly he had judged the man. Jack hadn't hesitated to correct part of his mistake, and the Doctor felt he might owe Jack an apology for judging him so harshly.
Turning around, the Doctor crossed his arms and leaned against the console. "Did you learn your lesson?"
Jack looked up and met his gaze. "Yes, definitely."
"You gonna go back to running your little con games once we drop you off?" The Doctor waited for his answer.
"Hard to say," Jack finally admitted. It was an honest answer; if he had answered with anything less, the Doctor really would have dropped him off on the closest available planet.
"Fair enough." Clapping his hands together, feeling a little bit of satisfaction when Jack twitched in surprise, the Doctor straightened and turned back to the console. "So, what do you want to do now?" He glanced over his shoulder and grinned at Jack. He turned the music back up. "Care to dance, Captain?"
He watched Jack's expression freeze. The Doctor was curious to see how Jack was going to respond to that offer this time.
An amused-- and slightly goofy-- grin suddenly appeared on Jack's face. "I think I need to sleep on that," he said, stepping up to the console.
The Doctor gave a snort of amusement. "You need to sleep on it?"
"Yeah." Jack raised an eyebrow. "I'm pretty sure I need to be more awake to keep up with you." He looked down at the Doctor's feet, then back up, his expression surprisingly open and vulnerable as he added, "You'll probably end up stepping all over me."
"I wouldn't do that," the Doctor answered softly.
It was as honest an answer as Jack's, and it caused them both to look away from one another. The Doctor concentrated on the controls until he noticed Jack's fingers brushing over the surface of the console. He gave him a mock scowl when Jack suddenly jerked his hand away and took a step back.
"Hey, no flirting with my ship." When Jack turned towards him, the Doctor decided to see how much Jack, the ex-Time Agent, knew.
"What, you didn't know TARDISs were sentient?"
"I'd heard that, I just though that was a legend," Jack said as he returned to his spot next to the Doctor.
So you know about Time Lords, the Doctor thought. Of course, by the time Earth and her colonies had started playing around with time travel, they would have been all too aware of the Time Lords. Actually, the Doctor had yet to figure out why the Celestial Intervention Agency had never gotten around to putting a stop to the Time Agency; though knowing the CIA, they probably just used the Time Agency to carry out their own agenda.
The Doctor nodded at the console. "Living up to the hype?" he asked.
"More than living up to the hype." Jack touched the console again, a delighted grin spreading across his face. "She's beautiful."
"Hey, what did I just say?"
Jack turned the grin on him. "Sorry."
"No you're not."
Jack laughed. "No, I'm not."
The Doctor shook his head, amused. He flipped a circuit, altering their course, and monitored the changes in the flight pattern; all while watching Jack out of the corner of his eye.
As Jack walked around the console, his expression slowly shifted to one of surprise and curiosity. "Figure her out yet?" the Doctor asked.
"I'm not sure."
"What do you mean?"
Jack held up his arm, exposing the vortex manipulator strapped to his wrist. "This almost seems more complicated than her."
"Careful, that's my ship you're insulting."
"It's not an insult." Jack looked at the console, not trying to hide his awe. "This kind of simplicity is pure genius."
"You think this is simple?"
"Compared to some of the ships I've had to fly, yeah. Don't get me wrong, the complexity of what she does is almost mind-boggling, but the controls are…" He paused, searching for the right word, then said, "They're perfect!"
Seeing his opportunity to apologize without actually saying anything out loud, the Doctor quickly inserted a course flaw that sent the TARDIS tilting wildly. He then stepped back and said, "Well, let's see if it really is as simple as you think." He tapped the monitor screen. "Final destination code is here. Go to it big fella."
Jack looked flummoxed. "What? Wait, you can't…"
"Oh yes I can." The Doctor dropped onto the chair facing the console and rested his arms across the top. He grinned at Jack. "She's all yours, Captain."
Jack stared at him, but was forced to break eye contact when he grabbed the console to keep upright as the TARDIS tilted the other way. "Shit," he muttered before grabbing at a switch.
After a minute of watching Jack work the controls, the Doctor had to admit he was impressed. It seemed Jack did have the basics figured out and was quickly picking up the finer points.
Rose burst into the console room, interrupting his observations. She staggered over to a column. "What happened?" she shouted, clutching the column as she looked at Jack, then the Doctor. The Doctor grinned at her.
"The Doctor's an idiot," Jack yelled without looking up from what he was doing. He stretched across the surface of the console, cranked a lever just at the edge of his reach, and brought the TARDIS back to an even keel.
"Am not," the Doctor said before looking at Rose. "Just seeing what he knows."
She let go of the column once the TARDIS stabilized and slowly walked over to the Doctor. "You're letting him fly the TARDIS?" she asked.
"You never let me fly the TARDIS."
"Have you ever flown anything before getting on board?" An odd look crossed her face, her cheeks blushing slightly. The Doctor frowned at her. "And Ricky doesn't count."
"Mickey," Rose automatically corrected as she slapped him on the shoulder.
"Whatever." The center column came to a stop and Jack braced himself against the console, arms straight, head bowed, breathing hard. The Doctor jumped to his feet to see how close Jack had come to hitting their landing point.
Of course, he got it just right. The Doctor glared at him. "Showoff."
Jack's head came up. The expression on his face made him look like a kid let loose in a candy shop. The Doctor grinned. "Let's see where we are," he said then spun around and headed for the door.
"Wait!" Jack shouted. The Doctor stopped and gave him a questioning look. "You set the coordinates," Jack said. "Don't you know where we are?"
"Not a clue."
"What, you just put random numbers in?"
"Yep. I like those numbers."
A pained look settled over Jack's face as he turned to Rose. "Is he always like this?" he asked.
She grinned up at him. "Pretty much, yeah," she said.
"You're welcome to leave anytime you want, Captain," the Doctor said.
"But I don't have to."
Rose laughed in delight and grabbed Jack's hand, pulling him towards the door. "Well, come on then," she said, "let's see where you landed us!"
"Hey, I picked the spot!" the Doctor pointed out.
"Well then, if it's lame then you get all the blame," Rose said as she let go of Jack's hand.
The Doctor shook his head and gave her an exasperated look. Rose retaliated by sticking her tongue out at him. Resting his hand against the door, the Doctor turned to Jack and asked, "You ready for adventure?"
Rose giggled and added, "In time!"
"And space!" the Doctor finished happily. They high-fived then turned to Jack with matching grins on their face.
Jack looked at them. "You're both insane."
"Yeah, we know," the Doctor said.
"Welcome to the club!" Rose said. She grabbed Jack's hand again, and the Doctor grabbed the other, and they dragged Jack out of the TARDIS; and the Doctor had to smile when Jack pulled him in for an impromptu tango.