lindenharp (lindenharp) wrote,

FIC: The Children of Time Will Gather (3/6)

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

Tags: children of time, drama, fic, jack harkness, martha jones, tenth doctor
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