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Five Times Jack Was in the Wrong Story

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Notes: At the end of the story.

 

1. York, England, 1872

"What?" Jack said, not quite believing the evidence of his own eyes. The woman had a *sword*. A big one. Pointed at him. And fine, it wasn't like he'd never had a sword pointed at him; he had lots of experience with various instruments of death. He just hadn't expected to be threatened by a sword-wielding woman in Victorian England.

"You are the old one. I can feel it." Her long blonde hair was pulled back sharply, doing no favors to her thin face. Her eyes blazed with some kind of fervor -- religious fanaticism, maybe, or plain old hatred, though Jack couldn't think of any reason for her to hate him.

"I think there must be a misunderstanding," Jack said, going with his instincts. Time to charm his way out of trouble. Or maybe not, he thought, as the sword came up to his throat.

"If you don't respond," she said, her voice quiet in the early morning darkness, "I'll take your head, whether you defend yourself or not."

"But it's such a pretty head. Think what a waste that would be."

She wasn't amused, judging from the pinprick of pain in his neck. Three years of tinkering with his vortex manipulator hadn't fixed it, and if Jack was stuck here for the rest of his life, he intended to make it as long a life as possible. "I'm sure we can find a way to settle this without anyone getting stabbed or impaled or -- ow -- anything else undesirable."

"This is your last chance. Draw your sword."

Jack drew breath to protest that he didn't *have* a sword, but another figure stepped out of the alley to Jack's right.

"Excuse me," a man's voice said. The woman's attention snapped away from Jack, her sword held high to defend herself, but she didn't have time to make a move before a gunshot echoed. She dropped to the cobblestones, and Jack carefully backed out of range, in case this guy was crazy and homicidal too. When the man tucked the gun -- a six-shot revolver, by the looks of it -- into his belt, he was only slightly reassured.

"I don't make a habit of getting into fights," said the stranger, still hidden in the shadows at the mouth of the alley.

"Uh, thanks?" Jack said. "I don't make a habit of asking people to commit murder for me."

The other man stepped over to the prone figure and picked up her sword, which he somehow managed to hide away in his long coat. "It's not actually murder." The light from the streetlamp illuminated his face and kindled a spark of recognition in Jack.

"You! You're the man from the pub. I wouldn't have been so friendly to you if I'd known you were a killer." They'd spent a congenial hour earlier that night drinking side-by-side. He'd said his name was Adam, and Jack had tried to figure out whether Adam's flirtatious smile was an invitation or a side-effect of being truly gorgeous.

Adam grabbed the woman by the legs and dragged her deeper into the alley. "I just told you it's not murder."

"You shot her!"

"She'll wake up!"

Jack blinked. "Really?"

"Oh, God help me," Adam sighed. "An amateur. Grab her shoulders, will you?"

Together, they maneuvered her into a dark corner that smelled like mud and piss. Jack made sure she didn't land facedown, and considering she'd been about to kill him, he thought he was being pretty generous. "And now you can explain to me how she's not dead."

"Right," Adam said, rubbing the back of his neck, "I will give you a short version of the speech. You are an Immortal. Sometime in the recent past, you died and came back to life. Now other Immortals want to behead you. Best of luck." He moved as if to step past Jack, but Jack grabbed him by the arm, mindful of the two swords concealed in his coat.

"Hold on. That seems kind of unlikely," Jack said.

"You haven't died recently?"

"I -- well, maybe. I'm not exactly sure."

Adam nodded sagely and pushed Jack's hand away. "You really ought to find a mentor, but I am not the mentoring sort. I think you'll manage well enough."

"Wait," Jack said, remembering the white flash of the Dalek's weapon, and the gold glow that had greeted him when he'd opened his eyes again. "I'm not like you. I don't know what I am, but I know that much."

Adam's brow furrowed. "Now that you mention it, you do feel different. But it doesn't make any sense. There can't be more than one kind of Immortal, or at least I've never met one. And I've been around a long time."

Jack laughed. "Maybe I'm not immortal, but I've seen some things I bet you wouldn't believe." They both tensed as the woman on the ground twitched.

"Whatever you are," Adam said, "you should probably get out of here before she wakes up."

"You too." He walked toward the mouth of the alley and heard Adam follow. "We could go together. I have more questions."

"I usually stay away from other Immortals," Adam said. "I had a gun on you from the moment you sat down next to me in the pub."

"What if I promise not to behead you?"

Adam shook his head. "I can't promise to believe you."

They halted under the streetlamp. Jack watched the gaslight flicker across the sharp planes of Adam's face.

"You could search me for a sword." He held his coat open and stepped closer to Adam, pleased when Adam didn't move away. He could see the lines of Adam's body through his thin shirt.

"Tempting," Adam admitted.

"I knew you were flirting!" When Adam didn't deny it, Jack leaned in for a brief kiss. Adam's lips were warm, and the kiss made Jack ache for all of the men he'd walked away from in the past three years, afraid of drawing too much attention to himself.

When the kiss ended, Adam sighed. "This is really not a good idea."

"You have two swords and a gun," Jack pointed out.

"And a knife."

"And a knife." This time it was Adam who initiated the kiss, which rapidly moved past acceptable behavior for two men standing on a public street, even so late at night. Adam's hand stroked down his back and came around to rest on his hip, fingers flexing. Jack pressed his face against Adam's neck and bit him lightly, and Adam shuddered.

"You have a place we can go?" Jack asked.

"Yes." Adam caressed his cheek, then moved away. "Just for tonight."

"That's fine," Jack said, gathering his coat around himself. "I didn't expect anything more."

2. Prague, 1997

The group of people gathered in the Old Town Square look like trouble to your practiced eye.

You've been in town for a week or so, long enough to hear the rumors circulating. Children disappearing in the night. Bodies found the next morning, horribly mutilated, or worse, never found at all. You have a professional opinion on what might be the cause, of course, but no one's asked you, and you know better than to offer up that kind of information. Instead, you sit at your table outside a little restaurant, drink your kafe, and watch the sun set as the murmuring grows louder.

You don't know much Czech beyond a few tourist phrases, but it's got enough in common with Russian that you can pick out key words here and there. "Scared" and "strangers" and "death". The ringleader is a middle-aged woman, her short frizzy hair like a halo in the dying sunlight. She's attracting quite a crowd, standing on the steps of the memorial at the center of the square. Most of the tourists look uneasy and hurry by, hands clutching their purses or wallets, but locals are arriving from every side of the square.

A hundred years plus of immortality have taught you what a lynch mob looks like. Once you've been buried alive, you learn to pay close attention whenever anyone starts shouting about abominations. On the bad days, you can still remember dying over and over, suffocating from lack of air, choking on the dirt as you dug yourself out. And if there was anyone around to keep you honest, you'd admit that most of your days are bad.

The mob's already swirling into action, a group of scared and angry people spilling down an alley and heading for one of the old houses near the square. You leave some money on the table and take your coffee as you stand to follow them. By the time you catch up, two of the biggest men are throwing themselves against the door. It splinters under the attack, and the crowd charges forward with a roar, almost instantly emerging with two people in their grasp.

In a way, you sympathize with the crowd. When dark things invade your life, it's hard to accept that there's nothing you can really do. So you shout and scream, make all the noise you can, hoping to drive the darkness away, if only for a little while.

You could stop it from happening, maybe. Call the local police, or try to find the right words to defuse the situation. You think you could do it, even though vampires creep you out, and the feeling is probably mutual.

But you don't. Not because of the man they've grabbed, who's raging at the crowd, threatening them with pain and dismemberment. But the silent girl, slim and big-eyed and a little bit crazy -- you just don't like the way she looks.

So you lean against the wall, finish your drink, and watch as the crowd drags them away.

3. New York City, 2000

"You've never thought about it?" Rachel asked.

Chandler set his coffee down on the table. "Does it count if I've thought about you and Monica doing it?"

"No," she snapped, and thumped him on the shoulder for good measure.

"Most people are bisexual," Phoebe said. "They're just not free enough to admit it."

Ross snorted. "I don't believe that."

"Well, of course *you* don't."

Rachel sighed and took a sip of her cappuccino. "I always thought I was completely straight until I saw 'Cruel Intentions' and wanted to make out with Sarah Michelle Gellar. Of course, there was that one time in college."

"Hands up if you want to hear that story." Four hands went up, and Chandler stared accusingly at Monica.

She shrugged. "I already know the story."

"I could never do it," Joey insisted. "I don't have anything against gay people. I mean, that would be stupid, because I'm an actor. And I'll kiss a guy if I'm in a movie or something. But sleeping with a guy? Joey Tribbiani is just not wired that way."

Rachel shifted to curl her legs under her, and out of the corner of her eye, saw a man turn away from the bar. He moved over to the sofa and perched on the arm next to Joey.

"Captain Jack Harkness," he said, offering Joey a handshake.

Joey looked confused at the intrusion into their little bubble, but took Jack's hand. "Joey Tribbiani."

Jack held onto his hand and gazed into Joey's eyes. "How are you?" He wasn't even looking at Rachel, but she suddenly felt a little woozy.

"I'm good," Joey said, his voice low and husky. "How *you* doing?"

4. Once Upon a Time

"Giants?" Jack says. "Really?"

"Oh, yes," the Baker tells him, cradling a toddler in his arms. He brushes a bit of flour from the child's cheek with a gentle finger. "It was very strange. Many people died."

Jack looks around the shop, and though there's a dark-haired young woman wrapping up a loaf of bread for him, he doesn't see any sign of the child's mother. "I'm sorry to hear that."

"Life goes on," the Baker says, "no matter what you lose. It's a hard lesson to learn."

"That's very wise," Jack agrees, wishing the girl would be a little faster with the bread. The Baker's nice enough, but something about this village doesn't sit right with him. Maybe it's the deserted house that sits next to the bakery; when he'd walked past it, he could have sworn it didn't like him.

"It was a time of many lessons, actually." The Baker sets his child in a pen against the wall, between the muffins and the pies. "You wouldn't believe how many people don't know what to pack when running from a giant. The royal family brought their silver service, but not a single sword."

Jack blinks. "Right. I can see how that would be irritating." The girl brings the loaf of bread over and presents it to him with a smile. For a second, he reconsiders his travel plans. He's not worried about the forest, but maybe it would be better to wait until morning. He'd liked the look of the young man he'd seen outside, chopping wood for the ovens, and if the girl can smile like that--

"You've lost things too," the Baker says, wrenching Jack's attention back over to him. "I can always tell now, because I've lost so much myself. But it doesn't mean you have to be alone. Don't you have anyone who loves you? It's not good to go into the forest by yourself."

Jack grins at him. He doesn't mean it, but it's a long-held habit. "I'll be fine. Thanks for the bread."

"Here," the Baker says, "at least take this." He pushes another loaf of bread into Jack's hands.

"Thanks again." He hurries a bit as he walks to the door, but they both follow him, and the young man puts down his axe to watch Jack go.

"Look out for wolves," says the young man.

"And princes!" says the girl.

"And keep an eye out for giants," says the Baker. "I think they're all gone, but you never know."

5. Stars Hollow, 2008

The memory of a truly spectacular hangover keeps Lorelai away from Karaoke Night at Kacey's for several months until she's lured back by the promise of Kirk working his way through Britney Spears' greatest hits. Luke even agrees to come with her, and they compromise on a table towards the back, safely out of gyration range. Lorelai keeps the yelling to a minimum, though she can't resist the chorus of "Toxic."

"Thank you, everyone," Kirk says, taking a few more bows than the applause really warrants. "I'll be back next week with an in-depth exploration of the "Baby One More Time" album."

Miss Patty steps on the stage and nudges him away from the microphone. "Out of the way, honey."

Lorelai takes a sip of her drink. "Are she and Babette still doing the cabaret act?"

"I have no idea," Luke says.

"Right, forgot who I was asking. Babette's out of town anyway. She and Maury went to a cat show, so I guess Miss Patty's flying solo tonight." Miss Patty's got enough personality and volume for five people as it is, so Lorelai leans back in her chair with a hand on Luke's leg and enjoys the show.

She doesn't pay any attention when the door opens, other than to shiver at the rush of winter air, but Miss Patty actually misses a couple of beats. Heads are turning all around the place, so Lorelai looks up. She's never seen this guy before, which means he's probably a tourist, and she can see why he caught Miss Patty's eye. He's *adorable*.

He walks casually over to the bar and perches on a stool, one foot planted on the crossbar. A couple of words to the bartender produce a nod and a bottle of beer. Lorelai's already dying of curiosity before she notices the old-fashioned cut of his coat and the military stripes on the shoulder.

She grabs Luke's empty bottle. "You want another? I'm going to go talk to that guy. Don't be jealous."

"Why would I be jealous?"

"Have you seen him? I might decide to run away and join the circus with him."

Luke peers around her. "Oh. Make sure you bring my beer back first."

"Will do."

The guy doesn't move when she sits down next to him, even though he has to know that everyone's staring at him. Miss Patty's practically drooling on the microphone, but he's got an amused smile on his face.

Lorelai orders Luke's beer and waits until the song ends. Everyone claps, and the stranger turns back to the bar to take a swig from his beer.

"Haven't seen you around here before," she says.

"That's because I haven't been around here before."

"Are you touring Connecticut, or all of New England?" After all her years in the hospitality industry, she knows tourists like the back of her hand. He's too late for the fall foliage, and if he's up here for the snow, he's probably from the South. He's got no trace of a Southern accent, though that doesn't necessarily mean anything.

"I'm sort of wandering around a bit. Call it an extended vacation."

"Lucky you. Where are you from?"

"I live in Wales, actually." Miss Patty starts her next song, and Lorelai knows if she talks too loudly, she'll get a polite but biting lecture about respecting artistry. She figures she'll buy Patty off with whatever she learns about this guy.

"Wow, Wales," she says. "I...don't think I know anything about Wales, except maybe that it's got a lot of sheep. But I could be thinking of New Zealand. Oooh, and Tom Jones."

He chuckles. "It's a gorgeous place. You should visit, especially in the summer. You've never seen anything so green."

"You know, if you're looking for a place to stay tonight, I own an inn."

He gives her a look, and she can tell he's wondering if "I own an inn" is a euphemism. "No, really," she says. "I'm Lorelai Gilmore, and I own the Dragonfly Inn." She offers him her hand. His handshake is perfectly polite, but she feels a little like he kissed her hand instead of shaking it.

"Captain Jack Harkness. I may take you up on that."

They sit for a bit and listen to the music. About halfway through the song, Luke comes over to retrieve his beer. He doesn't kiss her or put a hand on her waist, nothing that would make it clear to Jack that she's taken, and she loves him a little bit more for that. It's taken them years to get here, and she's not always sure where they're going, but she knows she wants to go there with Luke.

Miss Patty finishes "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off" with a big flourish and takes her bows to enthusiastic applause. She barely stops to acknowledge it before she heads to the bar, Jack firmly in her sights.

"Hello, stranger," Miss Patty purrs.

"Hello yourself." He really does kiss Patty's hand, with a gentlemanly flourish that reminds Lorelai of black-and-white movies.

"Careful," Lorelai says. "If you flirt back, you better mean it."

"Who says I don't?" Miss Patty glows with the compliment, and Lorelai doesn't sense any hint of sarcasm or insincerity from him. She wonders why the hell a guy like him is wandering around small-town Connecticut instead of doing whatever he does in Wales.

"You've got quite a voice," Jack says, pulling up a chair for Miss Patty.

"Thank you, honey," she says, settling herself down. "Of course, it's not what it used to be. It's hell getting old."

"You can't sing those songs without a little bit of life behind you," Jack says. "You have to know about passion and heartbreak and disappointment."

"A connoisseur," Miss Patty says, looking like she does when one of her students does something right.

"Hey, Miss Patty," Lorelai interjects, because it's a little weird watching these two eye each other. "Jack's from Wales."

"Really?"

Jack grins. "Not originally, that's obvious. But for the past few years, yeah."

"What do you do there?" Patty asks. Her respect for the artist doesn't seem to apply when there's a cute guy to talk to, since she pays no attention to Al's rendition of "I Will Survive."

"Oh, a little bit of everything. Right now I'm on a little vacation. Sort of reassessing my life, you know?"

"Are you thinking about moving? You'd love it here."

"They'd sure roll out the welcome wagon for you," Lorelai says, then jumps when Luke pokes her in the back.

"Seems like this town has quite a personality," Jack says.

"Seriously," Lorelai says, "it's a great place. Good place to raise kids, close to big cities. The neighbors can be a little nosy, but you'll appreciate the chicken soup they bring when you have the flu."

Jack holds up a hand in defeat. "You're both very convincing, but I do have a job to get back to. And some chicken soup people of my own. But I'll definitely stay for a couple of days and enjoy myself."

"Wonderful," Miss Patty says. "And you're not getting out of here tonight without singing. I bet you'd do a number on some George Michael."

"Maybe later," Jack says. "I might need a few more drinks."

"Oh, that never leads to anything good," Lorelai says. "Trust me."

"I don't know about that," Luke murmurs in her ear, and Lorelai pretends she's not blushing.

"But you know," Jack says, "there's something I'd like to hear. Do you take requests?"

Miss Patty bats her eyelashes at him. "Of course I do."

"I'm sure the karaoke machine doesn't have it, though."

"Oh, honey," she says, "I don't need a machine to back me up."

He leans over and whispers something in her ear, and she lights up. Al's finished his song, and no one objects as Miss Patty steps on the stage. She opens that big, wonderful mouth of hers and starts singing, and even the people who've had one drink too many stop talking. Lorelai looks over at Jack, but he's got his eyes closed as he listens to Patty sing about angels dining at the Ritz and how, once upon a time, a nightingale sang in Berkley Square.

--End--

Notes: The crossover fandoms are 1) Highlander, 2) Buffy the Vampire Slayer, 3) Friends, 4) Stephen Sondheim's musical "Into the Woods", and 5) Gilmore Girls. The summary is also from "Into the Woods."