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There was someone waiting for him in front of the TARDIS.

Human, male, sitting on the quiet grass field where the TARDIS stood, leaning back against the wooden door, one long leg stretched out, seemingly out to enjoy the Mayday sun. A handsome boy, just at the edge of adulthood, eyes as blue as the sky above and, at the Doctor’s approach, face brightening in a smile as bright as sunlight.

He wanted something from him, the Doctor realised – no-one sat against the TARDIS by mistake.

“You’re in my way,” he glowered. Most people would have flinched at that tone but the unexpected visitor’s smile didn’t falter, blue eyes locking onto the Doctor’s without hesitation, chin up but more to show off that perfect jawline than in any apparent defiance.

“Doctor,” the boy got up smoothly, with a casual elegance that had to be studied. “You’re a hard man to find.”

The Doctor’s reply was curt. “Get to the point or get out of my way.”

“I need your help.”

“I’m not in the business of helping people, especially not stupid apes who don’t know what’s good for them.”

“I have information you want.”

The Doctor snorted. “I doubt that very much.”

“It’s about the Master.”

That was interesting. The boy had done his homework. The Doctor took a step forward, encroaching on the boy’s personal space. The boy was nervous but stood his ground, his smile growing brighter but his hand surreptitiously moving to his hidden weapon. “Tracked him down last week.”

The Doctor lifted an eyebrow, impressed despite himself. Tracking down one Time Lord was difficult enough; tracking down two was near impossible, and in such a short space of time. The boy was talented, but he’d be damned if he let the little ape think he could manipulate a Time Lord.

“Move.”

Surprise and desperation flashed in the boy’s eyes but were quickly submerged. “Don’t tell me you’re not interested in the news of your oldest friend?”

The Doctor lost patience, leaning across and using his superior height to intimidate, hissing into the boy’s ear. “You stupid little ape, I don’t need information on the Master from you. If I need to find him, I’ll find him myself. If he needs to find me, he can come. Now move!”

The boy paled, still determined, but the desperation he had been suppressing bubbled to the surface. “Of course, my apologies. But I’m sure I can offer something else that you want.” He looked up at the Doctor, nervously licking his lips. “Whatever you want.”

Well, at the least the boy knows how to take a hint. The Doctor wanted to say he had no need for the help of a human, but somehow, looking at the boy’s pink, moist lips, something else came out. “Whatever I want?” he asked, taking a step back, looking over the boy’s body inch by inch. He was rather pretty.

“Kneel.” The Doctor ordered.

If the boy was surprised by the order, he didn’t show it. Something flickered across the blue eyes, too quickly for the Doctor to figure out what it was, but he was sure it wasn’t disgust, more like relief, really.

Then he kneeled.

The boy’s hair under his hand was silky and hot from being under the sun, but not as silky and hot as his throat.

*

The TARDIS was everything the stories said her to be, and more.

Jac wasn’t sure what to expect when he came on board the Doctor’s ship. He had agreed to become the Doctor’s ‘pet’ in return for help finding Grey, but was relieved when he got his own room and bed. Not that he couldn’t have handled sleeping naked on the floor or in a cage in the Doctor’s room, but the Doctor valued his privacy, for which Jac was grateful.

Lying on bed, surrounded by the soft hum of the TARDIS engine, Jac still couldn’t quite believe he had finally got here. He had joined the Time Agency to search for Grey and deserted it for the same reason. He had made deals with all kinds of crooks, conmen and mercenaries for leads, and finally his choice had dwindled down to one: the Doctor.

The man who had topped the Shadow Proclamation’s most-wanted the list of for more than a century, the number one enemy of the Time Agency, the man who destroyed whole planets, systems, galaxies; one of the Last of the Time Lords, the man they called the Oncoming Storm, the Bringer of Darkness, the Merciless God.

If there was one man in the universe who can find Grey, it was the Doctor.

And now he had found him, and the Doctor had agreed to help him. Jac could finally see himself finding Grey, and that made him felt more nervous and afraid than ever before. This was it, his last chance, his best chance. If he messed it up…

A soft warmness floated over his mind, calming him, singing to him in a language he didn’t understand. It was the TARDIS, Jac knew instinctively, enveloping his mind with a warmth that left him wordless. In the gentle embrace of the TARDIS’ mind, Jac felt safe for the first time in a long time. He fell asleep with a faint smile on his lips.

*

Jac wasn’t sure what to make of the Doctor. He had heard a lot of stories and the man’s temper could be described mercurial as best, but Jac found that since he had come on board, the Time Lord had been almost pleasant to him. The Doctor didn’t limit his movements, dictated no rules and, more worryingly, made no demands. He was almost treating Jac as a passenger rather than a ‘pet’.

But Jac wasn’t a passenger, and it wasn’t a good sign that the Doctor seemed to be more interested in the maintenance of his ship than in Jac’s body. Had he lost interest or did he want Jac to make the first move?

It surprised Jac at first that the Doctor let him anywhere near the console room, but then again, the Doctor must have figured he had nothing to fear from someone like Jac. Not that Jac would ever hurt the TARDIS in any way, even if she hadn’t taken care of him that first night. He could never damage something as beautiful, as magnificent as the best ship in the universe. Just being inside this marvellous ship was a privilege.

Caressing a coral strut, Jac sent his wonder and appreciation to the ship. He didn’t notice the Doctor’s sharp look at his gesture, being too busy ogling the innards of the TARDIS console.

“Are you trying to realign the electro-magnetic field of the time-stasis unit?” Jac asked and, just because he couldn’t help his little geeky heart, “Can I help? I came first in my class at temporal physics and worked on a lot of time ships.”

He expected to be shot down with another snide comment about ‘stupid apes’. The look the Doctor gave him was inscrutable, but Jac stood his ground. He couldn’t just let the Doctor forget about him. Just when Jac thought the Doctor was going to say no, he ordered: “Come down here, hold this.”

Jac’s shoulders sagged in relief.

They worked in silence at first. The Doctor’s words consisted of “hold this”, “push that”, “no, the other one, you idiot”, but Jac could be very persuasive when he tried, and it wasn’t hard to figure out that the Doctor loved to show off his ship to someone, especially someone who knew what he was talking about. It wasn’t long before they were working in easy camaraderie.

All in all, it was a good day. Jac learned a lot about this magnificent ship, got closer to the Doctor and, if the Doctor ignored all the times their bodies brushed against each other, well, there was always tomorrow.

The TARDIS thought so too.

*

It had turned into a habit.

Working with the boy had been more enjoyable than the Doctor had expected. He found himself teaching the boy more and more things about his ship. The boy was a quick study, for a human. If the Time Lord Empire still existed, the Doctor would have recommended him to the Academy.

Taking a well-earned break, the Doctor leaned against a coral strut, taking a long, cool drink from a blue bottle and watching the boy work.

He was bending over the console to reconnect some wires. He wore a white T-shirt and blue jeans, both tight enough to show off every line of his body, especially when he bent over. The Doctor could only deduce this pose to be a deliberate provocation, just like all the times he ‘accidently’ brushed over the Doctor’s body.

Not to disappoint, the Doctor moved close, standing close enough to feel the heat of the human body. Another step and he had trapped boy between him and the console. The boy tensed then relaxed deliberately, never stopping the work in his hands.

The Doctor slid the mouth of the bottle around the boy’s neck, slowly and deliberately, and smirked when he felt a slight tremble run through the bonny frame. “Before you came to me, you made a deal with the white hunters,” he casually mentioned.

The boy froze, but still answered. “Yes.”

The Doctor continued to draw lazy circles on the boy’s chest with the bottle, water dripping out and staining the boy’s shirt front. “But instead of your body, they asked for information.”

“Yes,” this time the answer came slower.

What, no explanations, no excuses? The Doctor wasn’t satisfied. His other arm curled around over the boy’s narrow waist, pushing up the T-shirt, massaging the hot human skin underneath. “Information that you broke into the Time Agency’s restricted archive to provide.” Still nothing. “Information that led to the death of five agents and three hundred civilians.”

The boy had stopped working, but remained silent and still. The Doctor’s hand found his zipper and deftly pulled it down, shoved his hand inside the boy’s underwear and closed around the soft organ. “I wonder. Given another chance, would you have done the same thing?”

The body beneath tensed further, but the answer was still clear, if faint. “Yes.”

“That’s what I thought,” the Doctor commented. Finally he put down the bottle and pulled down the boy’s jeans and underwear with one smooth motion, exposing the bare buttocks. The boy jerked then stilled again, silent as the Doctor took up the bottle again and teased at the crack along his ass. The cool mouth of the bottle had already been warmed by hot skin, but the boy still gasped as it poked into his hole. The Doctor’s movement was slow but unwavering, pushing through any resistance the boy might have had.

The boy leaned over the console, supporting his weight on his arms, trying hard to relax his muscles. But the Doctor’s hand was on his back, pushing him to lay flat across the console. The neck of the bottle was halfway in. A change in position tipped it, and liquid poured into the boy’s hole, lubricating the tight passage. The doctor slapped on the bottom of the bottle, shaking it, watching as water leaked down the tanned thighs.

The boy was hard.

“You want this,” the Doctor sounded amused.

“Yes,” the boy murmured, closing his eyes.

The bottle was drawn out, replaced by something much bigger and harder, if no less cool. The boy moaned as the Doctor’s hardness pierced him. “You only have to sell your body to me, not your soul,” the Doctor whispered at his ear. “You already sold that.”

There was no reply, but the tight channel gripping the Doctor’s cock became even tighter.

*

Ever since that day in the console room, the Doctor had seemed to remember he had a ‘pet’ on board, and had been using him accordingly.

Although for someone who was keeping a ‘pet’, the Doctor’s taste in sex was rather vanilla, discounting the mind game he had played with Jac the first time they had intercourse. However, the Time Lord’s stamina was awesome. If they had been real lovers, Jac would’ve been very interested to explore that further.

Even so, even when the Doctor shagged Jac for hours on end, making him struggle to keep up, Jac still had the suspicion that Time Lords, or the Doctor at least, weren’t especially enamoured of sex. And while Jac had a high opinion of his own desirability, he didn’t think it was enough to persuade the Doctor to help him. But whatever the reason, the Doctor had agreed to help him, and they were trying to track down Grey together.

The enemy that had torn Jac’s childhood asunder were the Traxlinians, an essentially militant, warlike race; most of their energy was spent on attack and conquer. The raid on Jac’s home world had just been one of many they had conducted over the years.

Traxlinians regularly took prisoners, mostly children, to brainwash and train them into slaves and cannon fodder. Understandably, they had no interest in keeping the records of the children’s previous identities beyond their planet of origin, and the sketchy records made the process of tracking down Grey a wearing process.

However, they did find that there were about two hundred children taken in the raid in which Grey had disappeared. Most of them had died over the years, but sixteen were still alive. There was no way to know if Grey was one of the lucky sixteen, but Jac was sure he must be.

*

It was another invasion.

They had tracked down one of the children taken from Boeshane to this legion, but the legion was scheduled for another attack on another unfortunate planet.

Jac was hiding in the shadows with the Doctor, looking out at the peaceful backwater planet crushed under the invasion force. The blue sky burnt red, full of invading warships, pressing down menacingly, firing without discrimination at the frantic, running, screaming people on the sand.

Just like that day on Boeshane.

The Doctor muttered in his ear; “Do you want to help them?”

The Doctor seemed to love to play the devil’s advocate. Jac wished he’d give it a rest. Fingers tightened on his sonic blaster, he replied, “We’re here to find Grey.”

“If he’s here, then he’ll be the one with the gun.”

“Then we need to find him before he can do more damage.” Ignoring the Doctor’s sceptical look, Jac adjusted his wrist comp, running a more complete schematic of the battlefield.

The human slave-soldiers had been put down as the ground force, among the first attack wave, and a lot of them were lying wounded or dead on the ground. Jac had programmed Grey’s DNA signature into his wrist comp when he joined the Time Agency, and had run this scan countless times since then. It was the first thing he did wherever he went. He had even run one on the Doctor’s TARDIS the first night he was there.

But a battlefield wasn’t a good place to run this scan, too many interferences. Jac couldn’t fine-tune the scan to search for his brother’s genetic signature, only for Boe-sphere standard human DNA.

There was one match, and its owner was alive.

Jac’s heart leapt. He looked at the Doctor and the Doctor nodded.

*

It wasn’t easy to locate one specific person on a battlefield, but the Doctor was a genius. However, it seemed the boy wasn’t quite prepared for what they had found.

Their target rather stood out on this part of the battlefield. Several years younger even than Jac, he was clearly the leader of the assault team. They had cornered a group of the natives. The obstruction the natives had been hiding behind had been blown to pieces, but the team kept firing at the frightened people to keep them pinned.

The Doctor could see a small proton cannon in their arsenal that could have obliterated the pitiful little group easily. Instead they were playing with them, like a cat playing with mouse.

They seemed to have taken a liking to a little blonde girl, and kept taking pot shots at her. The girl was crying, struggling to get away, but a shot grazed her shoulder and she fell down in the sand again, red dress dirty and torn, blonde hair stuck to her cheeks, matted by blood. Even from afar, The Doctor could see could see her large blue-grey eyes were full of terror and despair.

Beside him, the boy’s hand tightened on his gun, fingers white against the dark metal.

The Doctor cut off the assault team’s communication, even though he knew the Traxlinians took little care of their slave-soldiers, so there was little chance of reinforcement. The boy glanced over to the Doctor then took off without a word, keeping to the shadows. Taking up position, he started picking off the assault team one by one.

The Doctor watched, fascinated. The boy was good, much better than he expected. His opponents, who were admittedly skilled, had pinpointed his position almost at once, but the boy was moving and changing his position with a stealth and agility that seemed to be beyond human ability. He took very few shots, but every time he shot, one of the enemies dropped.

It was like watching a perfect, emotionless, killing machine at work. The boy must have gone through some very expensive and painful genetic manipulation to become such a perfect weapon.

The end of the battle came quickly. Jac had taken out almost every member of the team. Only the leader, their target, was still fighting. The natives had run away long since, including the little girl. The leader was hiding behind some fallen debris that couldn’t have concealed someone half his size, but at this point he seemed to care very little about his own safety. Jac’s threatening shots only made him furious, shouting obscenities in Galactic Standard and firing back without thought.

The boy looked grim, cold and hard and pitiless. He disabled his last enemy with cool efficiency, shooting the target’s hands and legs and incapacitating him completely.

The leader lay on the ground. He looked young but the mad gleam in his eyes screamed insanity and wrath. The boy had seen it, too, and was cautious; approaching slowly, never giving the kid a chance to attack. He shot the kid with a neural-binder to paralyse him. Then he quickly and efficiently disarmed him, checked him over and bandaged him.

He didn’t look at the kid’s face, nor did he talk to him, instead he ran the scan he finally had the chance to run, at short range and without interference.

The Doctor didn’t go near to see the scan, but he could guess the result. The boy’s face didn’t change, but something about him loosened. He sat down in the sand, holding his wrist comp close, and just stayed liked that for a minute.

Then, the boy stood up, the lines of his body straightening again. Turning to face the kid, still lying paralysed on the ground, Jac lifted his gun and took careful aim. Looking the kid in the eye, he didn’t turn away, not even after it was done. Then he bent down and carefully closed the kid’s eyes.

The Doctor stared down at the body, small and torn like all the other bodies littered on the sands. He asked seriously, “Could you pull the trigger if it was Grey?”

There was a pause, but Jac answered: “It wasn’t Grey.”

“It could be.”

“It wasn’t.”

“It might still be.” The Doctor wasn’t sure why he was pushing, except he wanted to know.

“It wouldn’t be.”

“Why?” The Doctor just couldn’t let it go. “Because he was your brother? Don’t tell me you haven’t done worse,” he indicated the dead kid on the ground, “in the course of your career.”

Jac looked grim and didn’t say anything for a long time. Just when the Doctor had given up on an answer, he replied: “I have. Grey wouldn’t.”

Humans and their delusions.

*

It wasn’t the Doctor’s responsibility. However the episode might have affected the boy, as long as he remained plaint and responsive in bed, it shouldn’t matter. But somehow it did, and the Doctor was frustrated that boy’s silence and withdrawnness was making him upset.

As a result, and the Doctor spent more and more time on TARDIS repairs, the boy working alongside him, still more silent than he was used to be. He made no argument about the fact that the Doctor spent more time on repairs than on helping him to track down his brother. For some reason, that upset the Doctor, too.

But today the Doctor decided to stop indulging the boy and get on with things. He punched in the co-ordinates for the planet the next Boeshane kid was on, and ordered: “Get your gear in order. We’re going after the next target.”

The boy, waiting beside the console for today’s repair chores, froze.

“What?” The Doctor sneered, “You want to give up? Then just say the word, I can take you home like a good little boy.”

Jac looked back at him, expressionless, just like his voice when he answered: “Let’s do it.”

The Doctor smiled.

*

That day was a disaster too, like all days with militant aliens, slave soldiers and explosions tended to be, but it was marginally less disastrous than the last time. At least the boy didn’t have to kill anyone who reminded him of his brother.

They threw themselves through the TARDIS door as explosions rocked the ground behind, kicking the door closed. For a minute they just stayed where they were, gulping in air. Then the boy moved, faster than the Doctor thought he was able, and pounced on the Doctor, pushing him to the floor and kissing him to within an inch of his life.

The Doctor returned the kiss with equal fervour, the thrill and exhilaration of the chase still running through his blood. They kissed and bit, pawed and clawed at each other, rolling on the floor, tearing at each other’s clothes, unmindful of blood and other stains on them.

Jac straddled the Doctor, snarling and tearing off his shirt with his teeth. The Doctor’s cock jumped with the rough treatment, and he forced the boy’s hand to his groin. They ground against each other, too desperate to do anything else but take out their painfully hard cocks and rut against each other. The sex was fast, feral, and furious, and both of them released days worth of bottled up tension in the fantastic climax.

Afterwards, as they lay boneless on the cold and uncomfortable grating of the console room floor, the Doctor could feel all the scratches and bruises that were this crazy day’s reward. His back might never forgive him, but the hollow look in the boy’s eyes had been replaced by something softer, calmer. It made the Doctor feel oddly at peace.

*

Things were different after that.

Although on the surface nothing changed – the Doctor still gave orders, Jac still obeyed – now there was a closeness and empathy that hadn’t been there before. Even the sex, which had always been enjoyable, changed tone subtly: they began making love to each other, not just to another body.

Now they lingered over each other; sex wasn’t just about sensation and climax anymore. The Doctor licked and caressed every inch of the youthful skin, feeling every tremble as the boy writhed underneath him, listening to every whimper and moan. Jac slipped his arms around the Doctor’s neck, and rubbed their cheeks together, opening his legs and wrapped them around the Doctor’s waist as he was slowly breached open. They moved together, like waves on water, in perfectly rhythm, and entered into the maelstrom as one.

Afterwards, they lay in each other’s arms on the Doctor’s bed. Jac reached out to touch the TARDIS wall. The TARDIS sung to him, and enveloped them in her gentle embrace. The Doctor traced the faint smile at the boy’s lips, and felt peace.

*

They had tracked down all the Boeshane children stationed away from the Traxlinian core and Grey wasn’t any of them. Not to be deterred, they decided to go to the Traxlinian home world for the rest of the children.

They were orbiting just at the edge of the Traxlinian home world. As a race that had used piracy as a legitimate mean of making profit, the Traxlinians had a lot of enemies, and the security of their home world was tight. The TARDIS was hiding behind the orbiting moon to avoid being picked up on sensors, although Jac doubted the Traxlinians had anything advanced enough to pick up the TARDIS’ signature.

The Doctor was checking something on the monitor. “Traxlinians are very xenophobic. Aliens on their home planet are either slaves or registered traders.” He looked at Jac. “You’ll have to be a slave.”

Jac frowned. They couldn’t become traders because they didn’t any commodities or contacts, but a slave? “You look as human as I am.”

The Doctor grinned, although without mirth. “Time Lord technology can rewrite every cell of my body and transform me into a Traxlinian.”

“Wouldn’t that hurt?”

“Oh yes.”

The Chameleon Arch was a fascinating piece of technology. The Doctor had reprogrammed it to transform his body while retaining his Time Lord consciousness. Jac couldn’t help wondering: at the height of the Time Lord Empire, what other wonders did they have? How could so ancient, so powerful a race ever be destroyed?

His speculation about the Time Lord Empire, its history and their fascinating technologies, paled in the shadow of what happed the next. The Doctor could reprogramme the Chameleon Arch but he couldn’t do anything about the pain in the transformation process.

It hurt. A lot. The Doctor screamed.

Even though the Doctor had warned Jac, the scene still shocked and horrified him. He looked on, white-faced and wordless. Just when he thought he had began to understand the Time Lord a little, he realised he didn’t understand anything.

Watching this powerful alien in the grips of pain, Jac knew he would never get this picture out of his mind.

He felt suddenly like crying.

*

Traxlinian’s home world, Trax, orbited around a yellow sun, much like earth. The most important installation on Trax was the military headquarters, the imposing, grey TMC compound. According to their research, all the remaining Boeshane children lived in this compound.

The TARDIS had created identities for the Doctor and Jac, and they went into the TMC in the guise of a soldier and his human slave.

The collar looked good on the boy’s neck, the Doctor thought as they walked into the control centre of the TMC. It even worked similarly to a real slave collar, tracking the location of the wearer, although this one also doubled as communicator. Unfortunately, Jac couldn’t wear his wrist comp in the TMC, as the Time Agency’s standard equipment was too distinctive and would have been picked up by the sensors at the door.

The Traxlinians were vaguely humanoid, but built on a larger scale than both humans and Time Lords, grey with a hard exoskeleton that was the result of genetic manipulation rather than natural evolution; they looked as unpleasant as they actually were. The Doctor felt uncomfortable in his new Traxlinian skin, and the environment he was in was not making it any better. The TMC, like any other military headquarters, was cold, hard and grey, unwelcoming to visitors.

At least he had something nice to look at. The Doctor looked down at Jac and the boy lowered his head in a manner befitting a slave. His skin was too tanned to be called white but still produced a nice contrast with the dark leather of the collar. The Doctor placed his hand on the nape of Jac’s neck, kneading. The smooth skin and rough leather felt nice in his palm. Jac shot him a look from under his lashes and the Doctor belatedly realised he had hurt the boy; the Traxlinian body was stronger than the one he was used to.

They were near their destination when the alarm sounded, a trilling noise that hurt Jac’s human ears. There were explosions in the distance and the corridors quickly filled with Traxlinian soldiers, slaves and other personnel, accompanied by running, shouting, smoke and more explosions. The Doctor and Jac looked at each other; this was not part of the plan.

“Soldier, what’s your station?” a Traxlinian officer barked at the Doctor, ignoring Jac completely. Jac gave the Doctor an imperceptible nod and followed the other slaves, who were all going the same way. The Doctor allowed the Traxlinian officer to direct him. They turned a corner and the Doctor took a chance, knocking the Traxlinian out and running back to catch up with Jac.

There was no answer when the Doctor tried to contact the boy on the communicator. He knew he shouldn’t be worried – Jac was young but seasoned in fighting, and genetic tempering made him fast, agile, and very hard to kill – but the Doctor felt agitation whenever the boy wasn’t under his control, in situations like this.

*

Jac followed the other slaves off to another corridor. They were trying to get to the slave pen, where they were supposed to be locked up until the situation was under control. Jac didn’t know this, but the kid leading the slaves caught his eye. Something about him seemed very familiar to Jac, so he continued to follow them.

The kid led them off from another corridor, but some of the slaves raised doubt. “This isn’t the way to the pen,” one hissed.

“We’re supposed to be there. You’re going to get us punished!” The others were panicking.

But the kid looked calm and confident. He jumped on a box so he could tower over everyone, and called for everyone to calm down. He didn’t shout over everybody, but obviously had some sway over them, as other slaves quietened down to listen.

“This is our chance!” He began, excitement in his every word, “Don’t you see? We have an opportunity here, we can break free!”

A shocked silence greeted him. They had been slaves for too long.

“Do you want to live the rest of your lives as slaves?” the kid asked. “Do you remember what your lives were life before, before the Traxlinians came and destroyed your world? Don’t you want to be free?” he pushed. “Don’t you want revenge?”

It wasn’t the words but the delivery, the sincerity of it, that made the others listen. Jac could almost see a whisper of hope beginning to take root in their hearts. The kid looked earnest, fearless and utterly sure of himself. The stubborn look in his eyes, the intractable line of his jaw, seemed so familiar that Jac suddenly realised who the kid reminded him of.

Grey.

When he wanted something, usually something that would get him in trouble, Jac felt his heart thump, almost jumping out of its cage. Could it be? Finally? His communicator vibrated and Jac stilled it; he didn’t want to cause a distraction.

The other slaves were clearly tempted, but still afraid. They talked and argued, but fear had most of them in grip and the situation quickly degenerated into panic. The kid was too young, Jac thought, these slaves weren’t going to follow him just because of a rousing speech.

One of them couldn’t take the pressure any more. He took off in a run screaming that he didn’t want anything to do with this insubordination. Without lifting a brow, Jac shot him in the back of the head.

Everyone went still, all eyes were on Jac.

“If any of you lot are still under the delusion that the Traxlinians wouldn’t punish you because you didn’t intend to rebel, think again. Since when could our masters be said to be fair?” Jac sneered, a rather good imitation of the Doctor, he thought. “The only way any of us are going to get out alive is if we win!”

The slaves were not stupid, otherwise they wouldn’t have survived for so long; neither were they cowards, or they couldn’t be used as soldiers. They just needed someone to make them see they had no other option.

The kid spoke, upping the ante. “And we’ll win, because we have a Time Lord on our side!”

The slaves looked shocked, staring around and at each other in confusion, and looked to the kid for confirmation. Then one of them cheered, and the cheer spread like wildfire. Everyone looked energised, confident, happy, like the mere word of Time Lord was a guarantee of success.

Only Jac frowned. Time Lord? What the fuck?

*

It was logical to assume that since someone arranged for the explosions away from the control centre, then that someone would be very interested in the centre itself. But the Doctor didn’t expect that someone to be someone he knew. One the other hand, he really should have expected this. Wasn’t it just like the Master, messing up his plans as always?

Standing in the corridor leading to the control centre, the Doctor nodded tersely to the other Time Lord. “Master.”

“Doctor?” The Master looked shocked, no doubt at the Traxlinian suit the Doctor wore. “What are you doing here?”

The Master had regenerated again – he was now medium height and blond. How he could run though regenerations as quickly as other people ran through clothes, the Doctor would never know. “I could ask the same thing of you. Did you set off the explosions?”

“I’m freeing the slaves,” the Master glared at him defiantly, no doubt expecting the Doctor to deride him about involving himself in lesser races’ affairs – although having turned himself into a Traxlinian, the Doctor really didn’t have a leg to stand on there. He smiled, or whatever the Traxlinian equivalent of smile was, and replied cheerfully: “Good, so am I.”

The look of confusion on the Master’s face made the Doctor’s day.

*

Things developed quickly after the other slaves decided to join the rebellion.

It appeared the kid leader didn’t just hope to inspire everyone with a speech. He actually had a plan and a group of royal supporters. The explosions were only a smokescreen to get the Traxlinians’ attention elsewhere, the real plan was to take over the control centre, get the weaponry and take the whole planet hostage.

They had prepared a sleeper gas that would knock the Traxlinians out but was harmless to other races when released through the air vent, but the environmental control centre was the only place that could flood the whole compound and was normally under diligent guard, therefore they needed a diversion. Also, the explosions would put the whole compound into lockdown mode automatically, making the gas work even better and deterring any reinforcements.

It seemed a sound plan when the kid was selling it to the other rebels, but Jac was far from convinced. For a start, they would need to gain control of the mainframe computer in the control centre, and none of the slaves would have the necessary authorisation codes. To break into the mainframe in the short time they were expected to have would need a genius.

Or a Time Lord.

Some of the other slaves had seen the problem too, and had questioned the kid, but the kid had promised them the Time Lord would take care of it and they all seemed happy to accept that.

Jac had thought like that too, before he met the Doctor and worked and lived with him.

The Time Lord Empire, although collapsed, was a legend still, inspiring fear and awe. The Time Lords themselves were all-knowing, all-powerful beings; nothing could touch them, nothing was beyond them. They were almost gods to the lesser races.

But he couldn’t think like that anymore, not since he saw the Doctor screaming under the chameleon headgear. The Doctor could be touched, could be hurt even, and Jac found something inside him hurt a little every time he thought of that.

Distracted by his thoughts, Jac didn’t notice some of rebels close in on him. When he realised it was too late, he was surrounded on all sides. Stupid, he cursed himself, but he put up his hands compliantly, showing no reluctance to cooperate.

The kid eyed him with suspicion. “Who are you? None of us here knows you. Did the Traxlinians send you?”

The rebels were rattled, fear of their old master rising to fore. One of them tore off Jac’s collar and showed the kid the communication device embedded inside. The situation had just gotten dire. Jac needed to think of something fast.

“The…” he was going to say the Doctor but changed his mind mid-sentence. “The Time Lord sent me to help you.”

“Oh really?” The kid didn’t buy it. “Then why didn’t he tell me about it?”

“Because one of your followers couldn’t be trusted,” Jac replied, shrugging. It was a fair assumption. After all, it was hard to believe that the Traxlinians didn’t have informants among the slaves.

This claim disturbed the rebels. Some looked around in suspicion, some became agitated, others, like the ones holding Jac, became angry, and Jac received several hits on account of that anger. He didn’t back down; it would just make things worse.

The kid didn’t touch him, but threatened him in a low voice. “If you insist on these lies, I’ll make you regret the day you were ever born.”

I already do, Jac wanted to say, but found that sentiment to be less true than before. Instead he replied, in an equally low voice, so that no one else could hear it: “It’s bigger on the inside.”

The kid looked shocked, and looked at Jac as if seeing him at first time. “Let him go,” he ordered. The other slaves reluctantly obeyed.

The kid smiled at Jac. It was the first smile Jac seen on his face, and made him look his real age, like a kid was supposed to look. Jac couldn’t help smiling back. But who was this ‘Time Lord’? What did he want with the kid, except to save him from slavery?

“Sorry about that,” the kid smiled a little bashfully, “we had to be careful.” Then he looked up at Jac hopefully, his heart in his eyes. “Did he have any word for me?”

The kid’s trust in the supposed Time Lord was amazing, he trusted Jac just because he thought the Time Lord had sent him. It was against all common sense, but somehow, this naivety, this innocence made the hope flutter in Jac’s chest again – he felt light for the first time in years. Not sure what that ‘Time Lord’ would say, Jac paused before answering. “He said he believes in you.”

The kid glowed at his words. He seemed to be injected with an energiser, almost bouncing off his toes. Jac discreetly reminded him that he was still a leader in the middle of the rebellion. The kid leased in his happiness and gave the others their orders. He didn’t seem to do anything about the supposed traitor among their mist, but Jac noticed he had a quiet conference with some of his closest followers and made change to his plans.

Now he, Jac and some others would go to the environmental control to release the gas, afterwards taking over the control centre. The others, led by a blond young man, would go to the test centre to rescue fellow slaves held there for test purposes.

*

They took out the guards outside the environmental control room without trouble. The room was empty, lit in the red hues of backup power; it seemed the explosions had done some damage.

The kid was worried, and immediately went to the main computer. The others separated to take positions behind the door and other key points. Jac went to stand by the kid and watched as he jacked a code breaker into the computer and begin to breaking down its defences.

The breaker worked very fast, and soon the kid had the gas prepped and ready to go. Things were going well, and Jac could see the others were excited.

That was when it happened.

Shots rang out and a white light blinded everyone. Instinctively, Jac shoved the kid under him and took cover behind the central computer.

“That’s enough,” a stern voice ordered in the Traxlinian guttural tongue. Peeking out, Jac saw the bodies of the other rebels littered on the floor. A female Traxlinian in a white lab coat, surrounded by a group of Traxlinian troops, appeared from a hidden room.

“You have nowhere to go. Why don’t you just give yourselves up?”

Jac glanced at the kid, who looked pale but still smiled weakly at him. He reached out and took the kid’s hand, and the kid clamped on it, squeezing tightly. I’ll get you out, Jac promised silently.

“I’m sure you can see the error of your ways by now.” The Traxlinian leader indicated the bodies of the fallen rebels. “You don’t have to end up like them. We just want the Time Lord,” she attempted to cajole – as much as a Traxlinian can cajole – them.

The kid’s hand turned cold at the mention of Time Lord, and Jac squeezed it in reassurance. He called out: “I don’t believe you. Who says you won’t kill us once you get the Time Lord?” The kid stiffened, trying to draw back his hand, but Jac tightened his fingers and wouldn’t let him. Turning towards the kid, he mouthed: ‘Trust me’.

The Traxlinians were a bunch of liars. Jac would never have trusted them to keep their promise, but even if they were trustworthy, he still wouldn’t have made the deal. It wasn’t any sort of moral qualm. The Doctor had helped him, admittedly for a price, but Jac didn’t delude himself that what he paid was worth more than what he received. The Doctor trusted him for some reason, he let Jac work on his beautiful ship, and taught him many useful skills. But that wasn’t why he couldn’t contemplate selling the Doctor out.

The Time Agency had helped him, too, had trusted him and taught him useful skills. He had betrayed the Time Agency, why not the Doctor as well? The answer was that he couldn’t, not that he wouldn’t. He just couldn’t, not since that time he saw the Doctor scream under the Chameleon headgear.

“Trust me, compared to the Time Lord, you’re nothing. We wouldn’t waste the energy on you.”

“Well, that’s so nice to hear,” Jac replied sarcastically, “why don’t you show your faith first? Why don’t you let the kid go?”

The kid immediately responded in fierce whisper: “I’m not leaving you here!” But Jac knew how to circumvent that. “You need to warn him.” That silenced the kid’s protest.

The Time Lord was the most important thing in the kid’s life, it seemed. Jac couldn’t help but to be a little worried, but he didn’t have time to contemplate, instead entering into a spirited haggling process with the Traxlinian leader.

Then several things happened at once.

A grenade came through the door; someone shouted “Get Down” in 51st-century Boeshane; the kid’s small body landed heavily on his back, holding him to the floor.

Jac hit his head when he went down and blacked out for a moment. When he came to, the Doctor was looking at him in concern.

“About time you woke up.” The Doctor helped him sit up, the big, hard Traxlinian hands strangely gentle; he seemed to have mustered this body’s strength now. Jac grabbed the Doctor’s arm to steady himself, and found himself reluctant to let go. It wasn’t until he saw the Doctor again that he realised he’d been worried about the Time Lord. It felt so good to see him again that for a moment, Jac forgot about the kid.

All the Traxlinians were down on the floor, but so was the kid, laid on his side with a large, serious-looking hole in his back, blood everywhere. A blond man bent over him, running checks with something that looked very much like the Doctor’s sonic screwdriver.

“Is he all right?” Jac asked, throat dry. The Doctor’s hand was at his back, giving him the strength to stand up.

The blond man looked intense, but he assured Jac that the wound wasn’t serious and the kid would be fine in a few weeks. Jac moved to where the kid lay and bent down to touch his hair. The kid looked very pale, but his breathing was regular.

“He was trying to protect me,” he told the other man – no, Time Lord. The Master.

“That sounds like Sainn,” the Master sighed.

Sainn, the kid’s name was Sainn.

Jac’s heart sunk and he felt unsteady on his feet. There was no reason to be upset, he hadn’t lost anything, really, but he hated himself for his assumptions, for allowing himself to hope. He almost didn’t hear the Master’s question. “The Doctor told me you were the reason he was here. You’re looking for your brother, what was his name?”

“Grey,” he heard himself say. “His name’s Grey. He was taken the same time as Sainn.” He looked around the room where the other slaves lay still. None of them was around the right age, fortunately.

The Master looked sad, the compassion in those brown eyes burned Jac. “I think know where your brother is.”

*

The test centre was the second most feared place in the TMC, the first being the torture chamber. It was a huge area full of scientific equipment, which Jac ignored – his attention was taken up by the large, sealed, glass cube on the center dais. The cube was filled with some kind of pale green liquid and a pale figure floated inside, dozens of wires attached to the listless body.

Grey.

Pressing his face to the glass, Jac knew he was too late.

“There hasn’t been any brain activity for three days now,” the Master told him. “The Traxlinians were going to replace him with another test subject today, before we interfered.”

Jac didn’t say anything. The Master sighed, and left him to it.

Jac didn’t know how long he stood there, could be a minute, or an hour, it felt an eternity until a cold, hard body embraced his from behind.

“Is it him?” he asked, he had to be sure. “Is this Grey?”

“Yes,” the Doctor confirmed. “I ran a scan with the sonic screwdriver. It’s him.”

Jac closed his eyes, all the strength disappeared from his body and he slid down bonelessly in that cold but comforting embrace, on to the lab floor.

*

After the Doctor released the gas that knocked all the Traxlinians out – it seemed the female Traxlinian was working on her own initiative, and didn’t warn the others – they had taken the control centre and followed their plan to take the whole planet hostage.

With the way the boy was after finding his brother, the Doctor didn’t want anything more to do with this planet, but the boy insisted, with a vehemence that surprised the Doctor, throwing himself into the cause of smashing the Traxlinians to pieces. This bloodthirsty figure was much better than the miserable form in front of the glass coffin, so the Doctor stayed, and made sure the Traxlinians got what they deserved.

*

Afterwards, the Doctor helped the boy built a funeral pyre, and they burned Grey one grey morning. The sun was shining without much warmth, the air clear but biting, and they could smell the ocean close by. The Doctor stood behind the boy, who stood with back straight, eyes dry, watching as the orange flame consumed the body of his brother, black smoke rising into the sky.

That night, in the boy’s bed on the TARDIS, the Doctor held him in his arms as the boy cried. Tears stung his bare chest until finally the boy exhausted himself and slept.

*

It wasn’t until a week later they went to Boeshane. The Doctor didn’t think it good idea for the boy to be back too soon, and they waited until Jac decided he shouldn’t put it off any longer.

The Doctor parked the TARDIS close to the boy’s house. He didn’t offer to go in with Jac, and Jac didn’t ask. But he watched as the boy walked to the front door, carrying his brother’s ashes in an ebony box, and knocked.

The Door opened to reveal a middle-aged female, obviously Jac’s mother. The Doctor couldn’t hear what they were saying, the woman didn’t seem to be happy to see her son, but the ebony box in the boy’s hands caught her attention. Her hands went to her mouth, and it was clear that she had deduced the content as she trembled with anguish. Hesitantly, Jac reached out to comfort his mother, but she pulled herself up and rebuffed the gesture. She took the box from Jac, and closed the door in his face.

The boy stood still in front of the doorway, seemingly unable to move. The defeated slump of his shoulders made the Doctor feel a surge of anger towards that woman. How could she be so cold to her child after he had tried so hard for so long? She didn’t even know what the he had gone through to rescue his brother.

The boy turned and walked away from his home, perhaps for the last time, and the Doctor wasn’t sure if that was a bad thing. He had the urge to keep that woman away from Jac for the rest of her life. He left the doorway and went to the console as soon as Jac was at the door. But the boy didn’t come in, instead standing bewildered at the door as if he unsure of his welcome.

The Doctor shot him an exasperated look. “We’re leaving in two minutes.”

That got the boy moving, but he still seemed too dispirited for the Doctor’s liking. Jac had let the need to find his brother consume his life for too long, and now he didn’t have any inkling of what to do with his life, only an emptiness that needed to be filled. Luckily, the Doctor had just the thing to distract him until they figured it out.

“I’ve downloaded the research they were conducting in the lab on Trax. It wasn’t Traxlinian technology, someone else was behind the tests conducted on Grey.” The Doctor looked at the boy. “Want to pay them a visit?”

“Someone else?” Something sparked in Jac’s eyes. “Who?”

“A race even worse than the Traxlinians, or so some say. So, do you want to show them the error of their ways?”

The boy looked at him, searching for something in his eyes. Finally he nodded. “Why not?”

The Doctor punched in the co-ordinates, preparing the TARDIS for takeoff. Jac went to his usual station and began his own checks, just as sure and professional as before. The Doctor didn’t miss Jac gently caressing the TARDIS before he began.

He’d be all right, the Doctor thought. It’d take time, but they had plenty of that. And if the Doctor could get over the Time Lord Empire’s collapse, leaving only him The Master for company, then the boy would get over his brother’s death and his perceived failure eventually.

In the meantime, they could occupy themselves with the likes of the Xemanians, and after they finished the Xemanians, the Doctor could find them some other bastards to smash. Luckily, the universe would never run out of lower races that needed to be taken down a peg or two.

Although the Master might try to stop them, unlike the Traxlinians, the Xemanians weren’t destroyed until the 53nd century. Trying to eradicate them now might have serious repercussions, but the Doctor wasn’t going to let that ruin the boy’s fun. If the Master worried about the space-time continuum, then the Master could do something about it, instead of getting on the Doctor’s case all the time.

After all, the Doctor had his own life to lead.

Walking around the console, coming behind Jac, the Doctor put a hand on the boy’s cheek, and turned him round to catch his lips in a slow, open-mouthed kiss.

 

The End