Infinite Haystacks (6/?)
Title: Infinite Haystacks (6/?)
Spoilers/warnings: Post JE
Characters: Eleven, Jack Harkness, TenII
Word count: 2,049
Disclaimer: I own nothing. The characters and names all belong to their respective parties. Purely written for fun and personal entertainment.
Summary: There are some people the Doctor doesn't expect to see again. Rose Tyler, Jack Harkness, the Meta-crisis clone of himself, to name a few. He expected them all to go on living their brilliant lives without him. He never thought he'd be called on when one of them goes missing.
A/N: Nothing to worry about. Though, as always, comments are cherished. They give me some motivation and feed the muse.
"So," the Doctor began with a renewed sense of bravado. "As I was saying, Rose has vanished. Is being erased. I can't quite see her timeline, I never have been able to clearly, she's too closely intertwined with my own. I need to find her, I need to figure out where she's gone, and why a spatial displacement is erasing her personal history. I can only look here, James guessed she would have to be here if people in that dimension aren't remembering her. And of course, he has no way to search other planets on that side. But it couldn't just be a change in location or time, or people would still remember her."
"You keep saying James. I assume that's the Meta-Crisis?" Jack asked. The Doctor nodded. "Why James? Why not John Smith? Isn't that the standard?"
The Doctor shrugged. "I didn't ask him."
"But you came here first," Jack mused, getting back on track. "I take it to mean you don't know where she is."
"If I knew where she was, I wouldn't be here, would I?" The Doctor said with a sniff, that single sound imparting his very low opinion of Jack’s logic.
"Which means," Jack plowed on, ignoring the Doctor, "you don't know where to look for her. You started at the most obvious place, square one."
"That was the TARDIS," the Doctor explained, waving a hand behind him at the blue box who had been standing quietly while they spoke. "She makes those kinds of decisions sometimes, and more often recently. I didn’t really question her navigational choices.”
"So, what do we do now?"
"Oh come off it. You can't possibly expect to show up here, tell me that Rose is being erased from history, and expect to swan off again without me."
"Right, yes." The Doctor nodded, knuckling his chin with a wince. "Wouldn't dream of it. But we can't stand around here, we're on a schedule. We don't have forever to look for her. What will happen if she's completely forgotten? If it gets to a point that you and I don't even remember her?"
Jack looked both defiant and worried. "I won't forget her. I can't. How could I possibly, when she's the reason I'm still alive?" The Doctor didn't answer. In a maneuver Jack recognized as Time Lord Avoidance 101, the Doctor spun on his booted heel and took a few long strides to the door of the TARDIS, drawing a key out of his pocket. Jack didn't bother waiting for an invitation, following in through the doors. The Doctor didn't really expect for Jack to do the whole "bigger on the inside" bit, but was gratified by the Captain's low whistle.
"New face, new decor. You didn't do it by halves this time, did you?" He eyed the stairs and the glass floor as the Doctor patted the console fondly and preened. "I like it. Not as cozy, mind, but nice." With a rueful shake of his head he crossed to the console. "So what's the plan. Do we have a plan?"
"Ah, well --" but the Doctor was saved from having to explain that he very rarely ever had an actual plan by what sounded like a pulsing crystal harp. He couldn't help the look of awe that came over his face. "Jack my good man, you're going to love this." He smiled and stepped in front of the screen. He didn't hesitate, this time, to press the button on the side.
"About bloody time!" a voice shouted, shattering the quiet interior from moments ago. "I've been trying to ring through and you didn't answer. I thought I'd lost the connection, but then I thought, I can't have, the coral is, rather surprisingly but not that surprisingly at all, doing better than she ever has." Jack began to smile behind the Time Lord, and tried to crane his neck to see the screen, recognizing that voice with every bone in his body. "But I was worried that I'd lost it, and if I had I'd have no way of knowing what was going on. Have you found anything?"
"It's not been that long, a couple hours at most, here at least. I checked the Powell Estates, but no such luck."
"No, I would have been shocked, and more than a bit suspicious, if she'd been there," the voice concurred glumly.
"But, hey, we've got another volunteer for the search and rescue team!" the Doctor responded, still blocking the screen. He spun, his arms out, and finally let Jack see the screen. The Captain leaned his face close to the glass and let out a whoop. The man on the screen grinned.
“Oh is it good to see your face!" Jack exclaimed.
"Oi!" The Doctor behind him protested half-heartedly.
"Captain Jack!" the Doctor on the screen responded enthusiastically. "Perfect! Two thirds of Team TARDIS, back in action! We're bound to find her now!"
"I promise," Jack said fervently, "I'll do anything I can to help. We'll find her Doc, don't worry."
"I just, urgh!" The bespectacled face on the screen gripped handfuls of his hair and pulled, his fingers making his already spiky hair look positively wild. "I wish I could do more! I feel useless, just sitting here! I'm having to hide in here, locked the door from the inside. Jackie's on the warpath, and I seem to be persona non grata. Ooh, I quite like that, might keep it,” his voice dropped a bit, as he seemed to speak to himself. Without breaking stride his voice regained its volume and he continued. “And she's right! I should be doing something. What I wouldn't give to be over there, with you two, looking for her. What do I do if we can't find her? What do I tell her family? How can I…" He trailed off, looking embarrassed.
"Hey," The Doctor said sharply from behind Jack. "We'll find her. I'd never just leave her. Jack and I, we've got centuries. We can spend the next few hundred years combing every second of the Vortex for her if we have to."
"I don't think we've got that amount of time," the Doctor on the screen sighed, scrubbing his hands across his face, his long fingers dipping below his black-framed glasses and setting them off kilter. "Think about it. If everyone forgets her, if every person she's ever helped loses their memories of Rose, what will happen? All the good she's done in all the universes will be erased. Even you Jack, you won't have centuries to look. You'll just disappear; stay dead on the Game Station. It'll be a horrific domino effect. If you died on the Game Station, you didn't go back to Earth and take over Torchwood. All the things you did will never have happened. How many times did you both help save Earth? It'll be long gone, if we don't find her soon."
"We'll find her," Jack said echoing the Doctor. So busy was he tamping down his fear, trying to convey reassurance to the man on the screen, he didn't notice where he put his hands as he leaned forward onto the console. Didn't bother to wipe the few tiny specks of dried blood, left over from his earlier swing at the Doctor, from the creases of his fingers as he accidentally brushed buttons and levers and readout screens that hadn't been there before.
Suddenly the TARDIS jerked, the lights flaring around the console room, and the glass underfoot began to vibrate, the rotor in the centre column starting to churn. The screen began to flash circular prints across the transmission. Under the glass floor a light began to build, a sun under their feet, washing the console room in a white light. "What did you do?" The Doctor shouted, rushing around the console and adjusting the machinery.
"I didn't do anything!" Jack and the face of the previous Doctor both shouted, unconsciously mimicking each other as they frantically looked around their own spaces.
"She's dropped her external shields," the Doctor said in shock, "and she's opened the walls around the Heart! What is she doing?" He was tossed away from the console as she lurched, launching herself into the Vortex with a groan.
"Doctor!" Jack shouted, clinging to the console, trying to get his feet back under him.
"What!?" It was then that the Doctor registered a growing screeching noise, as though two pieces of metal were being scraped together. He could vaguely hear the meta-crisis yelling, his voice strained. He skittered across the glass floor, wondering absently if maybe this design wasn't as well thought out as others had been, and latched onto the handles sticking from the sides of the screen. He couldn't see his other self, though he could hear him, the screen a blinding white, matching the light emanating from the Heart below their feet. An impossible wind began to buffet around the room, sending loose papers and other equipment flying. Jack's coat tails whipped out behind him, the fabric snapping loudly. With a final concussive crack, everything quieted. The wind dropped, the shuddering stilled, and the light began to dim. After the sudden tumult, the resulting quiet pressed on their ears uncomfortably. They both jumped slightly as a retching noise echoed around the room, and the Doctor, always quicker to his feet for having dealt with strange TARDIS behavior for the greater portion of his life, rushed to Jack.
"I'm fine," Jack waved him off, grimacing but no worse for wear. It was as his hand waved irritably at the Doctor that the Time Lord noticed the golden glow lacing the Captain's palm. He shot a look to the console and saw an identical hand-shaped glow shining from the surface.
"I'm bloody well not," came a hoarse voice, before it broke into another painful retch. The Doctor froze, eyes locked on Jack's. They both looked at the screen where the Meta-Crisis' face had been, but it was black, white words quickly scrolling across them in Gallifreyan. The Doctor's jaw slackened. He'd only seen those words on the TARDIS screens once before, after Donna's experience on the planet Shan Shen. Jack was faster, for once, and rushed around the console to the man kneeling on his hands and knees, head hung low between his shoulders.
The Doctor was only a split second behind the Captain, and both crouched quickly beside the still-heaving meta-crisis clone. "That was horrible," the man with the sideburns groaned. "Like being sucked through a straw, across the Void, through the Vortex. How the hell did she manage to do it so many times?"
"More to the point, how did you?" Jack asked.
"I didn't do anything," the Meta-crisis said, finally looking up.
"You did," the Doctor said to Jack with a jerk of his chin. "Your hand, the one that you punched me with. You must have gotten blood on it. You touched the console, and she reacted to your genetic material. The link between TARDIS' was open, and they managed to propel him through."
"What does my blood have to do with anything?"
"Bad Wolf," the Meta-crisis breathed, his eyes locked to the screens behind the others’ backs. "You and me, we've got residual Bad Wolf energy in us. Every time you come back to life, it's a surge of that energy. This whole regeneration," he managed to push himself backwards into a sitting position and gestured at his face, "was dictated by that energy. She latched onto that signature; opened the Heart and fused the energy we have with the energy it originated from. Yanked us together like magnets. Well," he drew the word out, "more like a gravitational pull on multiple objects." He paused and locked eyes with his originator, a smirk beginning to play across his mouth. "And if all that energy was being drawn back together..."
The Doctor stared hard at his clone as his own mind finished the thought, their ideas almost identical. "It wouldn't just be you two being drawn in. The common denominator is Bad Wolf herself." He spun on his heels, quite a sight still crouched on his haunches as he was, and looked at the still Time Rotor. "We've landed."
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