Fandom: Doctor Who
Present For/Prompt: taffimai | Timelords are always going to outclass Time Agents [I’m paraphrasing]
Word Count: 1000
Summary: Jack is travelling around the universe in a glorified box, his only protection coming from a sonic pistol that keeps running out of batteries and spends large amounts of time actually being a banana.
Author’s Notes: When I was given the prompt I was told I’d be loved forever if I managed to hurt Jack a little; I hope that meant physically as I haven’t injured him emotionally! I’m also going to mention entangled_now’s excellent Ten-and-Jack fic Habits, which as far as I can tell I have in no way plagiarised, but which I re-read to help me set the tone for this.
Footsteps on the floor echo an obnoxious, loud, and above all painful beat in Jack’s ears, and he makes a manful attempt not to let out a pathetic little noise because he’s still Captain Jack Harkness – this week, anyway – and he decided a long time ago that Captains do not make pathetic little noises. Not even when they’re lying on the floor because the world is spinning in an unpleasant way and they’re potentially bleeding somewhere but haven’t opened their eyes open long enough to check.
The main problem, Jack decides, is that the Time Agency doesn’t really adequately set you up for life as anything but a Time Agent. You join up, they give you a gun and a potentially insane partner and send you off to shag your way around the universe and bring back souvenirs. There’s a frame of mind the Time Agency drops you into, and it makes it very difficult once you leave. Of course; no one was ever meant to leave the Time Agency, and the hollow space in his head where two years’ worth of memories used to lodge still gapes.
It was one of the only times Jack had ever been scared; waking up cold and confused and his head empty.
Right now, he isn’t feeling scared at all; just kind of pathetic. He hasn’t done pathetic in years; when you’re striding about with a film star smile and a dramatic outfit of some kind it’s hard to feel anything other than overzealous and smug. Jack misses smug. Smug was fun.
‘Smug’ is really the only word to describe the grin currently being aimed down at him, as Jack discovers when he tentatively cracks an eye open.
“I knew I shouldn’t have let you run in all guns blazing,” the Doctor informs him.
Jack scowls manfully, and in no way pouts at all.
“Gun,” he corrects wearily. “I had one gun, and it wasn’t blazing.”
The Time Agency was simple; all the Agents were varying shades of crazy, all of them were great with weaponry and great in bed (or whichever flat surface happened to be closest), and they all had either superiority or inferiority complexes – though you often wouldn’t find out which until it was too late. Still, it made life a lot easier. Now, Jack is travelling around the universe in a glorified box, his only protection coming from a sonic pistol that keeps running out of batteries and spends large amounts of time actually being a banana. And as for the owner of the box; well, he’s probably mad, which isn’t anything new, but he carries about a freaking sonic screwdriver – and Jack could rhapsodise for hours on all the ways that is completely and utterly stupid – which still manages to save the universe better than Jack’s actual real weapon does.
“Picky, picky,” the Doctor replies, rolling his eyes.
There isn’t any running and yelling and hostile aliens waving pointy things, so Jack assumes that the Doctor has managed to rescue Rose from the native aliens, who decided that she was going to be their queen/sex slave/lunch, with a minimum of fuss.
“Is Rose ok?” he checks.
“She’s back at the Tardis,” the Doctor assures him, smile broadening. “Think she might be making lunch.”
This is Jack’s life now. There’s a lot of humility in it, which is annoying because humility, when you get right down to it, is crap. Rose was the one kidnapped, but Jack is currently the one crumpled up and injured. It’s frustrating.
“How did you get her out?” he asks.
“I just talked to the Chief,” the Doctor shrugs. “Pointed out that the screws in their gigantic dam were maybe getting a little bit loose, and if he didn’t want them loosened further it might be nice for him to give my friend back. He was very accommodating. And then I fixed the dam, so everyone’s happy.”
“If you knew that you could just talk them around, why did you let me come in here in full attack mode?” Jack demands.
“You were very enthusiastic,” the Doctor points out defensively. “I wasn’t going to be the one to rain on your parade.”
Jack screws his eyes up, and manages not to childishly mutter I hate you because it’s not entirely true and also it’s really undignified.
“Come on,” the Doctor says after a moment, “Lunch, remember?”
After a moment of steeling himself, Jack carefully pushes himself into a sitting position. He aches everywhere, but he’s probably just bruised. And he seems to be having one hell of a nosebleed, which is irritating because he likes this shirt.
The Doctor offers him a hand and after a moment of debate Jack lets him pull him to his feet.
“You look dreadful,” the Doctor informs him helpfully. “Ah well. At least I don’t have to worry about you impregnating anyone on this planet.”
With that flattering comment, he strides off down the corridor. Jack retrieves his gun, which has helpfully turned into a banana again – unless he’s going mad, and it’s always been a banana – and watches the inhabitants back away from the Doctor, bowing and murmuring flattering comments. Jack sighs. The Doctor is swishing along quite happily, which is impressive given that he’s bearing a battered leather jacket which has no swish in it whatsoever, and he’s weird-looking and annoying and embarrassingly charming and he’s a Timelord; and Jack comes to the bitter conclusion that whatever he does, the Doctor is always going to sweep in a few minutes later and do it better, and in a more dignified, organised, and logical way.
Jack begins to trudge after him, and the Doctor turns back. He offers Jack a disarming grin and then jerks his head, indicating he should hurry up. Even though it’s patronising and frustrating, Jack can’t help grinning back.
And that’s always going to be the problem; in spite of the humiliation and constant feelings of inadequacy, it’s completely and utterly worth it.