Title: Lyonnesse (8/?)
Characters: Ninth Doctor, Rose Tyler, Jack Harkness
Rating: Teen. A few lustful thoughts in this chapter.
Summary: A supposedly harmless planet holds unexpected dangers, and disturbing revelations about the Doctor's past.
Disclaimer: The sandbox belongs to RTD and the BBC. I'm just playing here, in the corner, making little sand-TARDISes. Not making any money, not asserting any claims.
A/N: Sorry (again) for the delays. Thanks (as always) to my hardworking beta, WendyMR.
Jack steps backwards. Slowly. "I'm sorry," he says, as if to a skittish animal. "I didn't mean to startle you." Sojore is staring in his direction, but he isn't sure if she's seeing him. He recognises that distant, haunted expression. He's seen it on the faces of former soldiers, liberated slaves, and survivors of catastrophes. He's seen it on the Doctor's face, and knows that he sometimes wears it himself.
"I'm sorry," he repeats. For several long moments he doesn't move, doesn't breathe. He watches her, but avoids direct eye contact. Too many species regard that as a challenge or a threat. For gods' sake, Jack, how dumb can you be? You heard her story. Should've known that she might be damaged, not just a soft touch.
Sojore blinks, then makes a hand gesture -- palms up, fingertips touching. "It is I who should ask pardon. My thoughts were elsewhere. What is your question?"
He keeps his voice low and even. "While I'm waiting for my friends, and there's still light, I hoped someone could show me around your settlement. What I've seen so far has been beautiful."
Sojore hesitates. He understands her dilemma. Right now, he's a hostage, a guarantee that Rose and the Doctor will return -- and return alone, not with a few dozen mercenaries. In her place, that's what he would suspect.
On the other hand, they've just become trading partners. Judging from the formal language that the Doctor used while sealing the deal, these people take verbal contracts very seriously. They can't treat him like a max-security convict without losing face.
Sojore exchanges glances with some of the other Elders. "I am sure that a suitable escort can be arranged."
That's fine. He didn't expect to wander around with just a tour guide. Guards won't interfere with his plans. He doesn't intend escape, theft, or sabotage -- just some casual gathering of information.
There's murmuring amongst the Elders. One of the males -- Priyan, if Jack remembers correctly -- steps forward. "My elder son can serve as guide. I will send for him."
The son arrives quickly. He's an adult, though still young. Havrukiy is not thrilled with his assignment, but he manages a cool politeness, even after they leave the Council Chamber and his father's watchful eyes. They're an odd quartet: Havrukiy in his multicoloured finery; Jack, his t-shirt and trousers stained with red dust; and the two guards trailing a discreet five paces behind them.
They head north along the cliff-face. Havrukiy shows him hydroponic greenhouses, protein cultivators, and communal spaces for eating, for study, and for music. The word has spread quickly, as it tends to do in small communities. No one is surprised to see Jack, though many of the A'atrans fall silent when he enters a room.
The afternoon sunlight is deep gold tinged with copper by the time they enter the weavers' studio. The wide looms are an odd mixture of technology and handicraft. They are mechanically powered, but the patterns are manually controlled by a complicated set of levers and dials. The weavers' hands flick over the controls, with the quick precision of a surgeon or a pilot.
The humming and clacking of the looms is just loud enough to cover the sound of their footsteps. One stout male shuts off power to his loom and bends over, peering closely at his work. He uses a thin metal hook to coax a thick green strand between two rows of shimmering blue threads. A rough sketch of his design is stuck to the upper cross-beam of the loom. When he glances up to consult it, he notices the visitors.
"There you are!" He hurries across the workshop. "I have been waiting for you to come by," he scolds.
Havrukiy looks abashed. "Forgive me. My father asked me to escort the visitor." There's a short pause before the final word.
"Jack Harkness," the visitor says, guessing that his guide doesn't remember his name.
The weaver inclines his head. "Sha'albin." He's much older than Havrukiy, probably older than his father. His crest of white hair is long by A'atran standards. It would hang past his shoulders, if it were not twisted into a complex braid.
"Master Sha'albin," Havrukiy corrects. "He is the greatest weaver amongst us." He ignores the silencing gesture that Sha'albin makes. "He restored most of the patterns that were lost on the Journey, including the Double Jade Sea." He gestures at the elder man's tunic. Plain green, Jack would have said earlier, but now that he's closer, and standing in the sunlight, he can see a million subtle shades of green twisting through the fabric in curves and lines that hint at waves and currents.
Sha'albin said to Jack, as if confiding a secret, "Children grow up and learn that their parents are neither perfect nor all-wise, but apprentices -- Havru bless them! -- never do." He studies Jack with the same careful concentration that he had given to his work-in-progress. "You are not the one who has seen Lyonnesse."
"No, sir." Jack's not sure where that 'sir' came from, but it feels right. "That would be the Doctor."
"I hope I may have a chance to speak with him. Perhaps-- no matter. Old men ramble like a tangled thread. Have you any questions?"
Jack asks a few, genuinely interested, then allows Havrukiy to lead him towards the door. Just before they exit, the Weaving Master calls out, "Kiy! Come back tomorrow. I need your opinion of the new mordants." Havrukiy waves assent.
Once outside, Jack asks casually, "Kiy?"
"My short-name. It is for friends and kin only."
Jack nods, suppressing a fierce grin. "So it was you and your brother that Rose met."
"He's a very talented sculptor," Jack says truthfully.
"He will be a Master one day. He needs the study, and the discipline, but the gift is in him."
"He chose an interesting subject for his current project."
"I don't know what you mean."
You're a very bad liar. "You were there. You saw the ghrazi. Sacred flower, right? A boy who isn't even an apprentice yet shouldn't be attempting it." Two beats. "What does your father think of it? And the other Elders?"
In an instant, Havrukiy's cool civility turns to something hotter. "You will not speak of this, Outsider. Not to anyone."
Jack shrugs. "No reason why I should. Unless..."
It takes Havrukiy a moment to catch on, and when he does, his first reaction is confusion. "What do you want?"
Jack smiles encouragingly. "Why don't we sit down and have a chat?"
Two guards follow them at a distance, then drop back as soon as they cross whatever invisible line marks the edge of the A'atran settlement. The Doctor is silent, which suits her fine, because she's got a lot to think about. She's worried about both of her blokes. Worried about the Doctor because she knows he's still fretting about Lyonnesse and the Time War. That little bit of playtime cheered him up a bit, but it didn't really change anything.
Then there's Jack. He's safe -- 'course he's safe -- but it doesn't feel right, leaving him behind. "You shouldn't have told Jack to stay there," she blurts out.
The Doctor gives her one of those 'stupid ape' looks. "Somebody had to stay. Wasn't gonna be you, an' I'm the only one who knows where to find the right tools."
Bloody hell, she's got to spell it out for him. "He would have volunteered."
"'Course he would have done," the Doctor says, frowning. "Jack's a good lad, an' a clever one."
"Yeah, but you didn't give him a chance to say anything. 'S like you didn't trust him."
The Doctor rolls his eyes. "Not in the habit of sharin' a bed with someone I don't trust, me."
Is it a Time Lord thing or a bloke thing? Prob'ly both. She doesn't push it any further. Maybe later, when all three of them are back in the TARDIS and off this world.
By the time they arrive at the TARDIS, Rose has given up on nagging him about Jack. He can't really blame Rose. Her kindness and her belief in fairness are among the qualities that first made him love her. Thing is, he really doesn't want to talk about Jack. He knows he went overboard, ordering the man to stay behind as a hostage. He knows that Jack would have volunteered. But one truth was weighing heavily on his hearts: it should have been him staying behind, because the whole bloody mess is his fault. He should have stayed, but he couldn't stay; and in his shame and frustration, he flung a command at someone who deserved better.
Once inside, he heads towards workroom four. Rose is off to get some female essentials, and to take what she promises will be the fastest shower in the history of the TARDIS. He doubts that's true. Rose loves to soak and steam and pamper herself. Even if she hurries, he seriously doubts that she can break Adric's record. The boy always treated showering like an unpleasant chore, and used his considerable intelligence to figure out the fastest, most efficient method to get through the daily ordeal.
Rose doesn't have Adric's speed (or motivation), but she is quick enough. By the time the Doctor arrives in the Console Room with his armload of tools, Rose is there, dressed in clean clothing, her pale hair damp and faintly scented with strawberries. He'd like to bury his nose in her sweet-smelling hair, then strip off the fresh clothes, the better to stroke and kiss and taste the pink and ivory skin beneath them. He could have her naked very quickly; into a bedroom very quickly; but everything after that would have to be very slow and leisurely indeed. "Off we go, then," he says briskly. "No time for shilly-shallying, Rose."
They head downstream at a quick pace. As soon as they are out of sight of the TARDIS, Rose frowns. "Bugger! I left my mobile in the bedroom." She looks apologetically at the Doctor.
"Go ahead. Be quick -- sun's close to settin', an' I can't hold it back." (He can, actually, but sees no reason to tell Rose. The amount of power it would drain from the TARDIS -- not to mention himself -- would only be worth it in the most dire emergency.)
Rose sprints away. While she remains in sight, he admires the view. If he can't have that softly rounded bum bare and wriggling against him, the next best thing is to watch it in motion. He has only a minute to appreciate Rose's bum -- and the rest of her lovely body -- before she disappears around a corner.
He can't see her, but he can hear her clearly. "What are you lot doing here? Oi! Put that knife away!" And then the only thing he can hear is the pounding of his hearts as he runs full tilt towards the TARDIS.