Title: Bad Hospitality
Characters and/or Pairings: Nine/Jack/Rose, established relationship
Warnings: Non-explicit violence and sexual references
Summary: Bad steering and worse luck land the Doctor, Jack, and Rose in three different shades of trouble. Can they all make it out together?
Word Count: 3577 this part, 7839 total
While skulking through dank alleyways, the Doctor reflected on how thankful he was for his lifetimes of subverting innocent minds. Because of it, Peck hadn't taken much convincing to nick his coat back for him, not once he assured her that he would wait until she was long gone to make use of it. With any luck, the kid had been rustling up a good alibi, possibly making trouble for a neighbor, while he had made his escape.
Now, he had to check the TARDIS. While it was perhaps overly optimistic to hope his companions were waiting for him there, he could at least call Rose from the phone if they weren't.
He and Jack really needed to get mobiles.
“'Curious?' The prince is a kinky xenophile; that's wonderful.”
Rose scowled down at her lap, where Jack's head rested, even as she continued to comb her fingers through his hair. “It's not wonderful. I'm being blackmailed for sex.”
“Aw.” Jack used the hand on his less-injured side to reach up and touch Rose's cheek. “It's alright. From the way you described it I don't think he'll force the issue. The Doctor's in more trouble than we are.”
She placed a hand over his and squeezed it. “I know, but... I feel bad. You'd do it – in a heartbeat, if it meant getting the three of us off this planet safely. I bet you don't even get why I'm so weirded out by the idea of sleeping with a prince.”
One corner of Jack's mouth curled up, but it didn't look much like a smile. “I thought we were over this idea that I'd do anything that moves.”
“No! I mean, yes, damn, I'm sorry. That's not what I meant at all. I know you wouldn't do anything to hurt the Doctor and I. I just mean that, given the choice I have, it wouldn't be a big deal to you. Not outside worrying about my stupid, 21st century reaction.”
“Honey, even in the 51st century, not everyone is as... open as me. And the ones that are, they do it because it's fun. It's about agency and not being judged, not about pressuring or hurting people. My rakish charm is more than I need and all I'll ever use. I would never look down on you because you won't do what you don't want to do in the bedroom. So don't worry, and do or don't do what you want, whether I understand it or not. I'll still respect the decision because it's yours.” The long speech took something out of him, turning his skin paler and breaths shorter, but it made Rose smile.
“When you put it that way, I... that makes sense. Thank you.”
“Welcome.” Jack took his hand back, resting it on his belly and closing his eyes.
“Are you sure there isn't anything else I can do for...” Rose trailed off.
Jack cracked an eye open. “What is it?”
“Do you remember what the Doctor said? About a prince of this city taking an alien wife?”
There was a beat of silence. “He said that's years from now.”
“He's only right about what time period we're in like half the time.”
More doubtfully, Jack said, “And he said the prince and the alien fell in love.”
“I'm sure that's what the history books will say regardless of what happens.”
“But... marry? You wouldn't. And he wouldn't make you, right?”
It seemed absurd, but that fact didn't quell Rose's worry. “I've only spoken to him for like fifteen minutes total. And I wouldn't want to, but... there's nothing more important than the time line, Jack. We both know that. Better than most.” They shared a deadly serious look.
Jack broke first. “No. No, don't worry about that. You were about to ask if you can do anything for me? You can escape. Leave me be and go to the TARDIS. With you and the Doctor free, with the intel you'll have between you, you can rescue me later. Make a run for it when the guards fetch you next.”
“Jack.” Rose put her hands on his cheeks, firmly framing his face. “Even if I could get away, what makes you think I could abandon you, injured, with people like this? Who knows what they'd do to you, or where they'd move you to? I'm staying until we can both get out. I'll convince them, or the Doctor will come for us.”
Jack sighed. “Fine. But, please, if you see a clean opportunity to run, at least think about it. Don't waste it on my account.”
“Deal.” Rose didn't even try to lie convincingly.
Empty TARDIS. It came as no surprise, but the Doctor still had to sigh. Undoubtedly he'd been spotted getting here, and parts of the neighborhood probably had it out for him, so leaving wasn't going to be easy unless he moved the ship. That itself carried a few risks, including the possibility that one or more companions could end up in the current alley in need of a ship and not find one. However, if they were able to get back here, he suspects he they would have already. At the very least, he'd have either seen or heard the commotion they would be making in the city by now.
Weighing the pros and cons carefully, he eventually started putting in the dematerialization sequence and aimed for the part of town he'd just left. The TARDIS helped him locate a secluded enough alley, and then he picked up the phone.
“So, Rose, have you carefully considered my offer? Your crafty friend is still eluding us, but it's only a matter of time.”
Bloody hell, what was she supposed to do? “I- Yes, I've considered. And it's a very attractive offer. Generous. But I'm in a relationship, so it takes a bit of extra thought.”
“I was under the impression that humans did not restrict their mating to a set few partners.”
“Well, some of us do; some of us don't. But if we are, er, for those of us that do, it's really cruel to sleep with someone besides your partner or partners.”
“Is sleep part of the process? How long does it take for you humans, exactly?”
“Well, you don't actually sleep, that's-” Rose froze. Her phone was ringing – or vibrating, anyway. Either her mother had more awkward timing than usual, or the Doctor had reached the TARDIS.
“-that's just a funny human way of putting it. I mean that we don't have sex with just anyone...” She continued to ramble. Time line troubles or no, the Doctor would sort it out when he got here. Until then, she would stall like it was her job.
The Doctor left Rose a message, put down the phone, and managed to wait calmly for about five minutes.
To hell with it. He had been out of contact with his companions for entirely too long already, and he had no way of knowing whether his escape had caused them any additional grief. So, he called Rose one more time, used the TARDIS to sync that signal to his sonic screwdriver, and put boots to pavement.
With his abundance of caution, it took quite a while to get anywhere. Still, there were actually off-worlders in the part of town where Rose's phone was, so he could try to blend in with gaggles of them whenever there were no empty streets to take. It helped. He did wonder why the public news screens he saw weren't broadcasting that the people's benevolent overlords had captured some dangerous aliens, or even that one was on the loose. He half expected to see his face on the big monitors, but there was nothing.
And so his luck held out until he reached the building that held the signal. Surveillance equipment, guard patrols, and an attractive fence stood between him and his goal. How was it possible that this place had better security than the prison he'd fled just a few hours earlier? There had literally just been locks and a code-secured elevator in his way then. Now, he had to wait and plan.
“What? No, please, don't tell them to shoot him on sight! He's not dangerous, I promise! He's a doctor, a healer. Just let us go; you'll never see us again. I promise.”
“You do not seem to understand the urgency of the situation. If we do not resolve our deal before your healer causes another disturbance, it cannot be resolved. I will have no ability to officially deny his presence, and he will have to be dealt with accordingly. Your only chance is to convince me to let you go and stop him, or else you can hope he leaves quietly without you.”
After twenty minutes of standing around trying to eat some kind of foul fruit from a street vendor, the Doctor had memorized the guard patrol pattern. Some extensive wandering after that, he'd located a likely back entrance to the squat structure. He thought he could crack the door alarm to keep it from going off. Cameras could be dodged. The only remaining problem was the fence. He could cut it, but the hole would be obvious, so likely he'd only have one shot at rushing into the building. He could only hope that the lack of a blaring door alarm would keep the guards searching the grounds for a while before they bothered checking indoors.
Plan settled in his mind, he hid behind a garbage receptacle to wait. Aaaand... time!
The Doctor dashed from his hiding place and across the alarmingly open terrain between it and the fence. Standing at what he thought was a camera blind-spot, he sonicked exactly half the cuts he would need from the fence, as cleanly as possible so it would still look intact. Then, he ran back to the receptacle with plenty of time to wait until the guards next rounded the corner.
And waited. And waited. And, now!
He ran twice as fast this time, with three times as much to accomplish before the guards rounded the corner again. These cuts weren't as neat as the first, but they felled the fancy pickets well enough. Ducking through the hole in the fence, the Doctor took a semicircular path to the door to skirt as much of the camera coverage as he could. He hit it sonic-blazing, forcing the lock undone as he got within touching range.
Luck directed his attention to the alarming device almost immediately, but it took longer than he'd hoped to find a signal capable of fooling the door-contacts into believing they weren't actually separated from the door. Still, he found it, started emitting it, grabbed the large handle, and almost hurt his arm wrenching at the deadlock.
Damn! The guards were due around the corner in exactly 20 seconds, give or take 4. He MIGHT make it to his hiding place in that time, but he'd never get near this door again with an obvious hole in the fence. His hearts galloped against his ribcage, and the distracting feeling of uncertainty in the time line niggled at the back of his mind. It was make or break time for this plan.
In a split-second, he made his choice and kicked at the door violently. It budged but didn't break, so he adjusted his aim and kicked again. Part of the wood frame tore as the door flew open, a thin deadlock bar extending from its side. The Doctor leapt inside without hesitation, shoved the door closed behind him, and looked around. The sound of heavy footsteps was already headed his way, and there was little hope the owner wouldn't notice the mangled door frame when he or she got here. The Doctor ducked into the nearest, thankfully-empty room and recalled the signal belonging to Rose's mobile. If he had any luck left over at all, it would actually be on her person and not in some lonely evidence locker.
Jack had seldom felt as useless as he did now. It hurt to breathe, Rose had been gone for a peculiarly long time again, his head was pounding, the Doctor had been out of contact for entirely too long, and he thought he might puke if he stood up. Just the thought was giving him mild vertigo.
His main resource at the moment seemed to be the ability to lie here and crack wise. To no one. It would probably hurt too much to yell loud enough to be heard by the guard outside.
Suddenly, the door opened.
“Rose?” Jack lifted his head and was shocked to see the Doctor looking down at him with dismay.
“Sorry I'm not the pretty face you were expecting, Captain.”
“Doctor! How did you get in here?”
The other man negligently gestured with a rounded, hand-held communication device. “I found a stash of these while I was hiding from the guards here. Your babysitter is on a wild goose chase. Where's Rose? Are you alright?”
Jack gave him as swift a rundown as he could while being assisted to a seated position. At the end, the Doctor gave him the most profoundly confused look Jack had ever seen on his face.
“You two thought she was the alien I was talking about?”
Being addressed with that tone made Jack feel a lot stupider about the idea than he had five minutes ago. “Well, you didn't specify the species. And humans are the most flexible ones around this part of space, as far as I know. We had to consider it.”
“Well, you can stop. I promise you, no.”
“Well then go get her, Doctor! I can wait a little longer, but who knows what kind of pressure that royal idiot is putting on her on our account right no-”
“Oh, look, Pil'dok! The intruder caught himself for us.” The Kynthan speaker, a guard, jovially shoved Rose into the room as he looked at his companion, bouncing a little. Their combined bulk eclipsed the door. “We never get this lucky!”
“Oh, that's it,” Jack complained. “I am never leaving the ship without my blaster again. I don't care where I have to hide it.”
A minute of gloating later, the Kynthan gleefully shut and locked the door, then left his friend to guard it while he walked off, talking into his communication device.
The freshly-confined trio had been watching in silence, but now the Doctor spoke, “I don't know where he's going-”
Rose interrupted, “Probably to tell the prince in person how he caught you.”
“-but this is probably as good as the going is going to get. Rose, help me with Jack. And are you alright?”
“Yeah. Just... a little freaked out, but I can save it. And since I haven't mentioned it yet, I am glad to see you.” She stole a quick kiss from the Doctor before stationing herself under Jack's arm. Just as he'd predicted earlier, getting up was the hardest part and involved gasping against nausea and pain. Once standing, however, he found himself capable of walking with just a small amount of assistance; there was nothing wrong with his legs.
“Gonna use the communicator again?” Jack asked.
“Can't. Last time, they thought I'd knocked out a guard who'd left his receiver on, and they 'overheard' me implying I was on the other side of the building. This one can just turn and look in the window to see we're still here, and I can't sound enough like a Kynthan to give him or anyone else fake orders.” The Doctor stepped away from the humans.
“I hate this,” he muttered even as he went to the door, sonicked the lock, and swung it inward. Before the guard could react, the Doctor wrapped an arm around his neck and placed the sonic screwdriver against his head. “Don't shout! This weapon is extremely sensitive. If you startle me and make me set it off, you'll have a hole in your head the size of your eye.”
Pil'dok simply froze. So did Jack, unused to seeing the Doctor even act like he had a gun.
“Good man. I won't hurt you, so don't worry. All I want is a head start. You can tell your bosses I hit you in the head with something, if they question the delay. Got it?”
The Doctor walked the Kynthan forward a few steps, then jerked his head to indicate that his friends should get moving. When they were halfway down the hall, he let Pil'dok go and joined them. “Run!”
It was more of a pained lope in Jack's case, but it was enough to get them from room to previously-locked room between the patrols rushing through the halls. In the end, though, Jack and Rose were left in a closet. After some whispered conversation, of course.
“I'm going to move the TARDIS to the grounds, as close to the door as possible. Rose, when I call you, you two need to start moving immediately. Don't even answer it; just go. These halls are one thing, but we'd never outrun these people on the open ground outside.”
Rose asked, “Won't there be a door guard?”
“...You're right. I'll sneak out a window, and on the way, I'm going to plant a com unit somewhere. The guard will hear me down one hallway and run to catch me; you'll come from the other hallway and make for the door.” He pulled two of the rounded devices from his cavernous pockets, turned them on, and fiddled with the settings, presumably to put them on a different channel than the one used by the rest of the guards.
Jack couldn't help but comment, “This is completely mad, you know.”
For just a moment, the Doctor's serious visage brightened to a manic grin. “Do we do it any other way? Don't worry about me; these people are remarkably unobservant for what I think used to be a prey species.”
“Well,” Rose joked, “we're remarkably uncoordinated for a species that used to swing in trees.”
“Ha! True. Well, wish me luck.” And with no further ado, he listened at the door, took a peek, and dashed into the hallway.
Later, Rose and the Doctor stood at Jack's bedside in the infirmary. She held his hand as the Time Lord administered some drugs for the concussion and began mending Jack's rib area.
“Oh... hell yes,” moaned Jack. The chill numbness sweeping his chest was a vast improvement over the stabbing, agonizing feeling of trying to run with cracked ribs. Through danger, no less, which had further ratcheted up his breathing.
“If the infirmary equipment can make you sound like that, should I be jealous?” Rose grinned at him cheekily.
Jack returned it. “It's a one-time thing. She means nothing to me! Don't you know only you can make me sound like that over and over again?” He looked at the Doctor, who had quirked a brow at him as he worked. “Well, you and him.”
Rose snorted. “I've heard that one before. Except the 'and him' part, anyway. Next thing I know, you'll be chatting up the toaster.”
“Is that all you two think about?” groused the Doctor as he put the medical device away.
“You like it,” teased Rose. “But, um... Doctor?”
“Is everything okay? With the planet? Jack and I, we were worried about mucking up the time line.”
“Well, I can't be sure, but we may have instilled a near-mythic distrust of humans in those people. Or not, depends how the story gets passed along.”
“But don't worry about it. When the defining event I told you about does come to pass, it'll lead to good relations with humans in the long run.”
Rose asked, “So, is it or isn't it a human that a Kynthan prince marries?”
“Nope! Guess what race his bride actually is.”
Rose shrugged and looked at Jack, who also shrugged.
“What?!” Rose exclaimed while Jack looked puzzled. “Slitheen? But they're mean and gassy!”
“They aren't gassy; that was their human suit technology. And I told you the Slitheen are only one family from that planet. Why are you surprised? Surely you can see that a Raxicoricofallapatorian would be more aesthetically pleasing to a Kynthan than a human. Round belly, long arms, legs built for a bounding run?”
Rose put her face in her hands. “Bad, bad mental images. I was traumatised enough today, don't you think?”
Jack sat up and pulled her into his arms, chuckling. “It's alright. At least you didn't do anything you'd regret, right?”
“You're right. Still, I had to lead him on as long as I could, since I was trying to keep him from issuing a shoot-on-sight order for you, Doctor.”
That made sense. She likely kept the prince going until he was told of the Doctor's actual break-in, at which point she was shuttled out the door and back to their holding room.
The Doctor asked, “Are you really alright?”
“Hmm, you know, I'm not so sure. I might need some extra snuggling to feel safe tonight.”
On cue, Jack held her closer and rubbed his cheek against hers like a cat, drawing out a giggle.
“I think we can manage that as long as you tell me about these Slitheen sometime.”