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Title: The Children of Time Will Gather (3/6)
Rating: PG
Characters: Jack, Martha, Sarah Jane, Ianto, Gwen, Mickey, Wilf
Genre: Gen, drama
Spoilers: MAJOR spoilers for Stolen Earth and Journey's End, references to various older episodes from Classic and New Who.
Summary: After the events of Journey's End, the Doctor's friends and companions gather together to remember the past and to prepare for the future.
Disclaimer: The sandbox belongs to RTD and the BBC. I'm just playing here, in the corner, making little sand-TARDISes.

Author's notes: This chapter is a bit shorter than the others. The next should be longer. The police box information is essentially correct, and the Flickr groups do exist.




“An interview with the aliens who really saved the Universes.”

“And who would those be?” Martha says in her best don’t-argue-with-the-lunatic voice.

Jack shrugs. “Vorcarians, Vogons, Vorlons – we can discuss the minor details later. The important part is that the Earth was not saved by a skinny guy in a pinstriped suit and trainers. I mean, how ridiculous is that? He didn’t even have a lightsaber.”

“How ‘bout the Vulcans?” Mickey suggests. Despite the tension – or perhaps because of it – a wave of laughter goes around the room.

At a previous CoT meeting, Jack had reminisced about his first meeting with the Doctor. “It’s a real pleasure to meet you, Mr. Spock,” he’d said to the scowling man in the black leather jacket. Jack had quickly figured out that Rose had invented a pseudonym for her supposed Time Agent partner; it was all of twenty-seven years later – or more than a century in his personal timeline – before he’d realized where she’d gotten the name.

“No Vulcans,’ Jack says, grinning at the memory. “Green isn’t my colour.”

“You mean that you’re gonna—”

“Mickey, I don’t know enough yet to know what I’m– what we’re gonna do. All I know is that we need to give Linton something else to write about. Something plausible, and something that won’t hurt Donna.” He grins again. “Hey, kids! I’ve got a Hub, and Ianto can sew costumes – let’s put on a show.”

Martha eyes him for a full ten seconds before speaking. “You’re mental.”

“That your professional opinion, Dr. Jones? I would’ve thought that a girl who flirted with Bill Shakespeare would have more appreciation for the theatre.”

Sarah Jane looks wistful. “Shakespeare…”

Martha’s return glance is apologetic. “Yeah, well… opening night of Love Labour’s Lost. Loads of fun, except for what came after: murders, an alien invasion, and Queen Elizabeth yelling ‘off with ‘is head!’”

“Typical. Absolutely typical.”

“Ladies, can we get back to the subject of modern theatre? I’m thinking we need a re-write of All’s Well That Ends Well.”

Comedy of Errors, more like,” Ianto mutters under his breath.

“We? Captain, you know perfectly well that you have every intention of being the playwright – and probably the star, too.”

Jack turns the full force of his smile on Sarah Jane. “And I’m going to need a leading lady. Not an ingénue, but someone who can convincingly portray an experienced investigative journalist.” He looks at Gwen and Mickey. “A pair of cops would round out the cast nicely.” Mickey laughs. Gwen looks nervous.

“Ianto – props and special effects. See what toys we’ve got in storage that might be impressive. Something discreet that can mimic innate abilities would be best. Wish we still had that telepath pendant…”

“Oi! What about me, then?” Wilf demands.

“That’s why I need the cops, Wilf. You don’t mind being arrested for murder, do you?”

…..

They spend an hour hammering out plot details. Gwen actually wants a script for her part. Jack doesn’t know whether to laugh or to bury his face in his hands. “For the love of— Gwen, you haven’t been with Torchwood that long. Please don’t tell me you’ve forgotten how to arrest someone. This isn’t The Bill – it isn’t even The Mousetrap – you won’t have to make a speech.”

Mickey, cast as the rookie cop, will have no lines. This suits him just fine. “But can I do the handcuffs?”

Wilf grimaces. “I suppose you must, me being a dangerous murderer and all.”

“Not to worry, Mr. Mott,” Ianto says, “I have a pair of handcuffs that I can lend. Very comfortable, they are.” Gwen snickers, Jack smirks, and Ianto blushes a fiery red.

Jack is less amused when Wilf wants to provide his own gun. Normally, it’s safest for someone to use a familiar weapon, but a fifty-year-old Webley Mark IV service revolver, however well-maintained, would not be his first choice. After some arguing, Jack reluctantly agrees, provided that the Webley passes his personal inspection. He also resolves to take Wilf onto the Hub’s firing range for some practice rounds. The finest weapon on the planet won’t do much good without a good eye and steady hands.

That settled, they move on to the next item of business. “We need to find out what Chris Turner knows, and what he passed on to Linton. Oh, and how the hell did he keep any memories to pass along?” After the Master’s death, most of the UNIT personnel aboard the Valiant had been debriefed, then retconned. At Jack and Martha’s insistence, her family had been given a choice. They had chosen to remember. Considering his mental condition, Turner should not have been given that option.

“Turner was given retcon,” Martha says. “It isn’t foolproof, Jack. You know that.” She looks pointedly at Gwen.

Jack acknowledges her point with a curt nod. “If you’re resistant enough, and if there’s a strong trigger, yeah.”

“What was the trigger for Turner, then?” Gwen asks.

“A police box,” Martha replies. “No, not the TARDIS – a real police telephone box. I thought somebody was having me on when I heard about it.”

Gwen is wide-eyed with disbelief. “Don’t tell me anyone still uses those old things!”

“Not since before you were born, darling,” Jack assures her, “but there are still a handful sitting on street corners around the UK.”

Ianto’s hands dance over his keyboard. “There are at least two Flickr groups devoted to photos of old police boxes. Not all of them are quite the same style as the Doctor’s TARDIS, but most are close enough. Hmm… over eighty of them in Edinburgh.”

“That’s where Turner saw one,” Martha explains. “He went up to visit an old school mate. They went to a dance club one night, and the police box was on the pavement outside. The club had a red neon sign, flickering badly—”

“I guess that would do it,” Jack says dryly. A police box with red lighting could certainly be a memory trigger for anyone who had seen the TARDIS hooked up to the Master’s paradox machine.

…..

There’s very little debate over who should talk to Turner. Of all the members of CoT, Jack and Martha are the only ones who remember the Year That Never Was. The others have been told the essential details, but little more. Martha has shared a few innocuous stories: a lucky escape in Prague, a family who sheltered her in Guadalajara, a breathtaking sunrise in the ruins of a Buddhist monastery in Thailand. She has not spoken about the village in Dijon that was torched just on suspicion of aiding her, or the college students who let themselves be cut to bloody shreds by Toclafane to cover her retreat from Chicago. And she knows without asking that Jack has not told his Torchwood colleagues about the hundreds of horrific deaths he suffered as the Master’s plaything.

On the drive to Hackney, they discuss how to handle the questioning. “Good cop, bad cop?” Jack suggests.

“I’m a doctor, not a cop.” she reminds him. “Turner is UNIT personnel, and I’m their Medical Officer. He’s my responsibility, and if he’s remembering the Year then he’s not in very good psychological shape.”

“If he remembers the Year,” Jack growls, “then he must remember the Doctor and what he did for this world – and he’s got no excuse for selling him to a damned reporter.”

Sometimes, Martha muses, Jack has too little patience for the weakness of others. Courage and self-sacrifice are so much a part of him – many of the deaths he endured were deliberately provoked, to distract the Master’s attention from the Doctor – that he expects them from others. “Try to behave yourself, all right? Remember, we need to get information from the man.”

“Yes, mother.” Jack sing-songs in a syrupy falsetto. “We’ll get the information, and then I’ll shove the thirty pieces of silver down the bastard’s throat.”

He calms down by the time they arrive at Chris Turner’s flat. When that door swings open, Martha smiles, ready to deliver her “Dr. Jones from UNIT” introduction.

She never gets a chance. The man in the doorway goes very still, except for his widening eyes, which dart back and forth between his two visitors. “The Messenger,” he breathes reverently. “The Messenger and the Angel of Death.” Wordlessly, he waves them inside. Only when they are inside the sitting-room, and the door is safely shut, does he speak again. “Have you brought word from Him? Or are you here to kill me?”

Continue to Chapter 4

Comments

( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
tebasile7
Aug. 17th, 2008 07:15 am (UTC)
I love this!
From the really great banter and outrageous planing to the ending which is totally unexpected and really intriguing. can`t wait to see where this is going ( I really hope for Donna back though ;-)).
I really didn´t want to read another WIP, but I just can`t stop here...
Speaking of WIP do you plan to continue the one with the Doctor and Donna and memory eaters yor did the finale eat you brain in that respect?
Would be understandable but a real pity because I love that one too (couldn`t comment yet because I don`t have an account there)

lindenharp
Aug. 17th, 2008 10:46 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you're enjoying this story. Sorry about the delay in "All the King's Horses". Yes, the finale caused me to step back and think about the whole issue of lost memories, especially in regard to Donna. It also inspired me to start the current story, which has slowed me further.

I do intend to finish both WIP, and I am contemplating a sequel to "Choices". (Isn't it a good thing that I have no life?)
torn_eledhwen
Aug. 17th, 2008 09:11 am (UTC)
Oooh, I love the ending! Another really great chapter; looking forward to more.
lindenharp
Aug. 17th, 2008 10:38 pm (UTC)
Thanks. I haven't started Chapter 4 yet, but the essentials of it have been simmering in the back of my mind for a while now. I think that people may find it... unexpected.
persiflage_1
Aug. 17th, 2008 09:27 am (UTC)
This is excellent. I love the switches you have in Jack's personality between light-hearted messing about when they're plotting to deal with Linton to the darkness of his attitude towards Turner. And the way Martha understands him so well, and works to maintain a balance.

The references to her experiences during the YTNW are moving.

And the ending is a Cliffhanger of Doom (TM)!!
lindenharp
Aug. 17th, 2008 07:38 pm (UTC)
Thank you. Linton is just doing his job -- and under other circumstances, we would consider him admirable. But Jack sees Turner as a traitor, and betrayal is a hot button for our Jack.

Martha understands Jack better than anyone, because they are members of a group even more exclusive than CoT: the End-of-the-World Survivors Club. And although Martha was not on board the Valiant to see what Jack endured, she saw enough of the atrocities on Earth to understand what the Master could do.

And the ending is a Cliffhanger of Doom (TM)!!

*evil laugh*
persiflage_1
Aug. 17th, 2008 07:46 pm (UTC)
Thank you. Linton is just doing his job -- and under other circumstances, we would consider him admirable. But Jack sees Turner as a traitor, and betrayal is a hot button for our Jack.

Yes, I could see that...

Martha understands Jack better than anyone, because they are members of a group even more exclusive than CoT: the End-of-the-World Survivors Club. And although Martha was not on board the Valiant to see what Jack endured, she saw enough of the atrocities on Earth to understand what the Master could do.

*Nods* Yes - I'm sure she must have spent a considerable amount of time worrying about him, the Doctor and her family even as she was trying to survive against the Master. It was clear to me, by the time she left the Valiant, that Martha and Jack had bonded quite strongly (probably Jack's "You too, huh?" comment was the thing that sealed their friendship because she knew he understood), so I'm quite sure that although they hadn't spent a huge amount of time together, they were good friends (quite apart from the fact Martha's such an empathic person).

*evil laugh*

*shakes head* Such wickedness! :D
the_summoning_d
Aug. 17th, 2008 09:40 am (UTC)
Ooo, wow o.0 This just keeps getting better. Keep writing, you've got us hooked :)
lindenharp
Aug. 17th, 2008 07:19 pm (UTC)
Thanks. I will certainly keep writing. I've got me hooked, too. :-)
kathyh
Aug. 17th, 2008 01:37 pm (UTC)
Great ending. I really love how you're managing to give everybody nice little character moments. Very much looking forward to more.
lindenharp
Aug. 17th, 2008 07:18 pm (UTC)
Thanks. I hope the next chapter will be interesting to read -- I know it will be interesting to write.
hab318princess
Aug. 17th, 2008 02:27 pm (UTC)
I like this a lot and look forward to the next part!
lindenharp
Aug. 17th, 2008 07:18 pm (UTC)
Thank you.
laurab1
Aug. 18th, 2008 09:59 pm (UTC)
Oh, brilliant :) Just how many times have you done something like this "lets do the show right here, kids" thing, Jack? XD
mickeyk
Oct. 4th, 2008 06:50 am (UTC)
CoT Part 3
You probably want to double check your post. All of Part 3 is in italics instead of just the last line of Part 2, and there are no tags, so a search for, say, Jack Harkness (busted) doesn't pull up Part 3. I was lucky; all the parts were easy to find on the current first two pages of your journal.

“Vorcarians, Vogons, Vorlons

Since I'm well acquainted with the latter two, off to Google I go... and realize that I should have known who they were, too. ::headdesk::

The important part is that the Earth was not saved by a skinny guy in a pinstriped suit and trainers. I mean, how ridiculous is that? He didn’t even have a lightsaber.”

Hee! Yep, totally ridiculous, everyone knows that the hero should be in the 21st century and wearing a greatcoat! ;)

Love all the banter here downwards: He grins again. “Hey, kids! I’ve got a Hub, and Ianto can sew costumes – let’s put on a show.” what with name-dropping Shakespeare, Queen Victoria, wistful Sarah Jane, and Martha who's remembering her adventure.

“Ladies, can we get back to the subject of modern theatre? I’m thinking we need a re-write of All’s Well That Ends Well.”

“Comedy of Errors, more like,” Ianto mutters under his breath.


Ianto gets all of the good lines!

Love Jack taking charge and the end of this section here:

“Oi! What about me, then?” Wilf demands.

“That’s why I need the cops, Wilf. You don’t mind being arrested for murder, do you?”


This is so Jack and Gwen (and for Jack a good thing, not so much for Gwen): They spend an hour hammering out plot details. Gwen actually wants a script for her part. Jack doesn’t know whether to laugh or to bury his face in his hands. Love what Jack says after that, too.

“Not to worry, Mr. Mott,” Ianto says, “I have a pair of handcuffs that I can lend. Very comfortable, they are.” Gwen snickers, Jack smirks, and Ianto blushes a fiery red.

Bwahahahahaha!!!!!

He also resolves to take Wilf onto the Hub’s firing range for some practice rounds. The finest weapon on the planet won’t do much good without a good eye and steady hands.

Remembering the scene with Jack and Gwen on the firing range... I can't decide if I want to read this scene written up or not! I suspect it would be comedy gold.

Courage and self-sacrifice are so much a part of him – many of the deaths he endured were deliberately provoked, to distract the Master’s attention from the Doctor -

Yes, I do completely believe that.

She never gets a chance. The man in the doorway goes very still, except for his widening eyes, which dart back and forth between his two visitors. “The Messenger,” he breathes reverently. “The Messenger and the Angel of Death.” Wordlessly, he waves them inside. Only when they are inside the sitting-room, and the door is safely shut, does he speak again. “Have you brought word from Him? Or are you here to kill me?”

EEEEEEEEKKKKKKK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! *rushes off to Part 4*
lindenharp
Oct. 4th, 2008 07:05 am (UTC)
Re: CoT Part 3
Thanks for catching the italics. I've fixed those; I'll tackle the tags later, when I've had some sleep.

EEEEEEEEKKKKKKK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! *rushes off to Part 4*

*Softly whistles "Another One Bits the Dust"*
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )

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