The Usual




"Oh, it's you."

"What're you doing here?" Jack pounds up the ring-walk through the shifting crowd, panting.

"Here? The fine Corvidan Station of Engelessen's Moon? The triumph of the century of ring-reactor one-plane Dyson engineering? Trying to keep the most idiotic scientists I've ever met--right, well, second most idiotic, nobody can quite top Big D--from creating a miniature black hole in the core, that's what. Stuffed shirt, mind as narrow as a Venetian canal with bad cholesterol, won't look twice at his calculations and factor in the Klein-Hanson efficient and realize what he's about to do--what about you, what're you doing here?"

Jack catches his breath and shrugs. "Getting laid. Far less interesting."


"Dull as dirt. No sense of humor. No clitoris either, very disturbing. Did it work?"


"Stopping the black hole."

"Oh, that." The PA system dings. Routine reaction scheduled in five minutes. Please go about your business. "Ah, not really, no."

"Aww, great. The habitat ring got release clamps? Get the civilians out of the event horizon?"

"In quarters."

"Where's the TARDIS?"

The Doctor jerks his head down a back hallway. "In the closet."

"You really should talk with her about coming out. I mean, it's been long enough." Business as usual, then. Minimize the damage, at least. Split off the ring, make for the TARDIS. Run down a lot of corridors. "I'll take left, you take right?"


Jack throws a quick salute and they pelt off in opposite directions, coats flapping.



"Remind me," Jack pants on the floor of the TARDIS control room, "never. To try to. Outrun a collapsing. Black hole. Again."

The Doctor bangs the console with the hammer, spins on trainer-clad heel, pulls something else as the rotor begins to whir. "Remind me never to forget how bloody stupid humans are."

"Were those scientists human?" Jack rolls a bit, clutches at one leg. "I thought they were Corvies..."

"No, you, idiot. There were rush tubes."

Jack slaps his forehead. Thinking a century off again, he'd been. "Yeah, but that would've been easy."

They're in flight, safely away from the singularity. Jack slowly finds his breath; the Doctor comes over, crouches above him.

"You getting up any time soon?"


"Well then. Been a while, I suppose. The usual for me, pretty much. Sontarans a pain in the left kneecap. She's been steering forty-two years consistently short, it's bizarre." He strokes a strut of the TARDIS, looks down at Jack. "You? Still not dead, I suppose. How's your Welsh boy?"

"Who--oh. Check my timestamp, Doc. I buried him a century ago. Did all I needed to for Torchwood. Traveling now."

"Ah. I can't read your timestamp. You're all fixed and funny about the neutrons."

Jack chuckles weakly. "Looking for you, actually. Augh, my hamstring."

The Doctor brushes a hand through his sweaty hair. "You daft romantic, you."

"Got anyone on board?"


"So where can I put my stuff? Which I forgot to bring?"

The Doctor snorts. "Under the console, unless you're going to get up."

Jack grins. "Kiss me and I will."

"Bonobo. Scamp." The Doctor plants a kiss on Jack's forehead, gives his shoulder a shove. "Up you go."

Jack looks up at him, upside-down in his vision, doesn't move. There's a long moment of silence.

Then those expressive lips close over his, tender and hungry. Jack wriggles closer, up into the kiss, blissful despite the ache in his body. The Doctor's cold fingers clamp under his jaw, holding him there.

He's home.


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