elisi: (Laser)
[personal profile] elisi
This chapter started out as about 300 words. Then it (happily) grew! :)

Chapter 1 and notes here.

Summary: “Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” – Miriam Beard (or: The Seeker takes some time out to travel and think things over)
Setting: Between A Good Day and The Death and Life of Rodageitmososa. (This is AU, but within New Who between Name of the Doctor and The Day of the Doctor.)
Spoilers: A Good Day. But can easily be read on its own.
Rating: PG-13.
Characters: The Third Seeker (OC), Alt!Capt Jack (during his con man days)
Beta: Um... That would be a no. All mistakes mine.
Feedback: Would be amazing. :)

Stepping Sideways: A Jack in the Box

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Miller


The spaceship was a tree. Which was impossible, so it had to be a trick, but Jack couldn’t figure out how. They had landed in a forest, and the spaceship he had stepped out of stood amongst the other trees… a bit bulkier than the rest, but not by much. The Seeker was leaning in the open doorway, through which Jack could see the control room which stretched much further back than the tree he was looking at. Slowly he made his way around it, but there were no holographics involved, and he returned to the front, studying the Seeker, who was smiling smugly, eyes dancing:

“For your information... As you have probably gathered, I am not human, and this is very very advanced technology. Your lipstick, retcon and any other little tricks you may have up your sleeve won’t work on me; besides which I’m practically immortal, highly telepathic and the controls are isomorphic. In case you ever feel tempted to… get a little creative. Are we clear?”

Jack crossed his arms, eyes narrowing, mind following several different avenues at the same time. It had to be dimensionally transcendental, but how?

“I thought you said I was your best friend…”

“You on another world, yes. Whereas this you is currently a conman, and a very charming and successful one at that. Now I don’t have a problem with that. I just want to make sure we are on the same page: I would love for you to stay, but don’t think you have a hope in hell of conning me.”

“I hope your bedside manner is more forthcoming,” Jack shot back, cheeks dimpling. (He was enjoying this. No pussyfooting around…)

The Seeker held his eyes, and hell, if this wasn’t flirtation taken to a whole other level.

“If you have any complaints when we get that far, I should probably point out that you were my teacher in the arts of Eros. So you’ll only have yourself to blame.”

At which point Jack couldn’t stop himself from beginning to chuckle, and as he was by now desperately needing some answers he had to ask:

“Who - or what - are you?”

“I’m a Time Lord, and everything you have heard about us is probably true. Except for the fact that we are all dead.”

Jack did his best not to let his jaw drop, then softly whispered “Bugger me,” subconsciously channelling a former partner.

The Seeker raised an eyebrow.

“All in good time…”

Jack tried to think back to that morning. Had it seemed particularly auspicious? Had there been any signs that today would be the day he finally hit the jackpot?

Not that it mattered. He smiled his best million watt smile and thanked his lucky stars for looking out for him.


Going by first impressions, Jack had half expected the Seeker to play hard to get. And there had certainly been a wariness and hesitation to their physical interactions - a few kisses, but the Seeker had always broken it off just as things began to get interesting.

Resigning himself to waiting it out (and it’d be worth waiting for, of that he was sure), he was surprised to look up one day after a swim in the TARDIS swimming pool, towel in his hand, to find the Seeker leaning against the door frame, studying him.

The Seeker was usually fairly buttoned up, but here he was in shirtsleeves, collar and top button undone, and with bare feet below the nicely tailored black trousers…

The myriad questions in Jack’s mind must have shown on his face, as the Seeker half-smiled.

“I decided, fuck it - it’s gonna happen sooner or later, there’s no need to drag it out. I just need to get over myself. So, what do you say?”

He should have said something cutting about his other self having done a terrible job teaching the Seeker how to seduce someone with subtlety or finesse. Or quipped something like ‘Don’t mind if I do’.

As it was, he quite simply let the towel drop to the floor and pinned his Time Lord to the wall.


Afterwards, the Seeker had studied him with that look Jack still couldn’t gauge, laying a hand on Jack’s chest, then closing his eyes.

“It’s so strange. It’s you, but it isn’t.”

Jack had lazily brushed a lock of black hair out of the way, pondering the peculiar twists of fate. He could never quite escape the feeling that there was something the other wasn’t telling him, and physical intimacy hadn’t changed that.

Not that the Seeker was altogether secretive. He answered most of Jack’s questions quite happily, but there was still something nagging at the back of Jack’s mind. It might just be the fact that the Seeker knew him so well, anticipating his responses and behaviour in a way that was downright spooky at times.

Or maybe it was the fact that his new friend was a Time Lord. Jack knew only of the Time Lords as ancient legends, and this wry and somewhat calculating youthful looking man was not at all what his history lessons had conjured up.

Letting his thumb follow the Seeker’s cheekbone, simultaneously appraising and wondering at the naked, living legend in his arms, he attempted humour in the face of the weirdness he couldn’t categorise.

“Well, they did always say that Time Lords were cryptic and up themselves…”

The Seeker opened his eyes again, bright green meeting Jack’s blue, mesmerising. Love was no part of this, but intrigue and fascination worked equally well for keeping Jack enthralled.

“Pompous, Jack. The word you are looking for is pompous. And you’re absolutely right.”

Jack’s eyes narrowed.

“Secretive is probably more like it…”

“That too,” he agreed, letting his head fall down to rest on Jack’s chest. “Sorry. But I never played well with others. I will tell you my secrets in good time, I promise. But right now - can this be enough?”

The kiss that followed the question sealed it quite easily. Especially since Jack had a few chapters of his own past that he was quite happy to leave behind untold. And quite frankly, travelling round the universe with a living legend (and lover) was not something Jack was going to spurn…


There were adventures and fighting and a small heist or two and saving a few planets from evil regimes, and it was evident that the ‘best friend’ tag was no idle boast. They worked together as perfectly as Jack had ever worked with any of his Time Agent partners, the Seeker instinctively knowing Jack’s ingrained training and habits… Besides being a hell of a good fighter himself, the laser screwdriver immensely useful and very deadly when necessary.

“You trained me,” was the Seeker’s enigmatic response when Jack complimented him.

They were sitting on the roof of a palace, celebrating with cigars and copious amounts of alcohol after a successful coup to overthrow a tyrant.

The evening dusk was wrapping itself around them, the sky had gone a dark lavender, and they could hear the people rejoicing throughout the town.

“Mind you, my father was pretty handy too…” the Seeker then added, taking a long slow drag of his cigar, as Jack abruptly found himself focussing on the conversation with far more interest than before.

“Your father?” he asked, the subject of the Seeker’s parents never having come up before, and he had to admit to being curious.

“Hm?” the Seeker replied, half turning.

“Your father? Taught you to fight?” Jack prompted, and the Seeker smiled that strange smile that Jack could only ever think of as too ironic for his own good.

“After a fashion. If you could call ‘genocide’ fighting… He just wants to bond with me, really, it’s just unfortunate that he’s an evil, psychotic megalomaniac who loves murder and mayhem.”

Jack wasn’t sure whether this was jest or not, so merely mumbled: “Sounds charming.”

“Oh he is. Right up until the moment he snaps your neck. People tend to be a little less fond of him after that…”

The Seeker refilled his wine glass, as Jack mulled this over. If true, no wonder the other didn’t feel like sharing… Even so, he didn’t want to miss his chance for further information, now his friend was finally letting his barriers down. (Possibly due to the drink, although Jack liked to think that he’d managed to win the other’s trust.)

“And your mother? Presuming you have a mother…”

How exactly Time Lords procreated was not entirely clear. He was sure his teaching back in the day had said they’d moved beyond simple physical reproduction, but what it had been replaced with was a mystery.

The question led to a prolonged silence. It had gone so dark that Jack could hardly make out the Seeker’s features, and he worried if maybe he’d overstepped some kind of line.

“My mother was human,” the Seeker eventually said, voice softer than Jack had ever heard. “And in case you’re wondering why my father married her, she possessed the quality he values over any other: Loyalty. Not that it was voluntary…”

The Seeker didn't continue, instead emptying his glass, before adding:

“In short, there are a lot of reasons I don’t talk about myself much.”

Jack didn’t know what to say. The Seeker was usually as opaque emotionally as he was himself; calm, competent and brilliant, with a side-line in wry humour that Jack deeply appreciated.

A monstrous father and a human (and abused) mother he had never guessed at. And now that he had this information, he wasn’t sure what to do with it.

In lieu of anything to say, he reached out and took the Seeker’s hand, trying to communicate without words.

It seemed to work, as the Seeker then shuffled across and leaned against him, with a little sigh that cut Jack to the quick.

“You smell the same…” the Seeker mumbled, and Jack felt like he had won some sort of victory. It was no longer his differences that were noteworthy, but the ways he was similar to the ‘original Jack’. And he had finally been allowed inside the defences, learning something of what lay behind that enigmatic façade.

With hindsight, he should have known it was all too good to be true. The perfect friend/lover/partner, who accepted him without question and never asked for anything…


One day, having checked into a ten star hotel for some exquisite pampering (Jack had quietly pocketed the credit card with limitless funds, and if the Seeker noticed, he didn’t say anything), Jack brought up the matter of the Seeker’s current travels - why was he there? (Jack didn’t ask ‘Why me?’ because the answer to that question was abundantly obvious. Nor did he ask ‘Are you running away from something?’ because he was beginning to have some ideas as to the Seeker’s reluctance to talk about himself in any detail. Dark pasts had an unfortunate habit of being difficult to get rid of.)

The Seeker mulled over the answer for a moment, eyes lost and not seeming to notice the masseuse who was using all six hands on his back simultaneously.

“I guess it’s… a holiday? I mean, I did just win a war, so I wanted a break. Get my head together before the next step.”

“The next step?” Jack asked, puzzled.

“Oh, I’m going to rule the universe.”

The Seeker’s voice was as calm and matter-of-fact as when he’d asked Jack what he wanted for breakfast that morning.

Jack merely stared, by now being very familiar with the Seeker’s deadpan sense of humour, and waiting for the familiar little quirk in the corner of his lover’s mouth. Except it didn’t come.

The moment stretched, then the Seeker had added: “Well, obviously not all of it. Just the bits that need fixing…”

“Right,” Jack said, before being brought back to the present by his own masseuse beginning to do something both painful and wonderful, but even so his mind was whirling.

They’d ‘fixed’ quite a few things together, but only ever as helping hands to local dissenters, and if the Seeker had seemed overly interested in the ruling structures after the downfall of the despots, Jack had chalked that up to general anthropological curiosity.

“Don’t worry, my universe, not yours,” the Seeker then added, smiling, as he studied Jack with those guarded, doting eyes. So enigmatic and unique and delightful to unravel and ravish that Jack dismissed the warning bells.

(Time Lord humour; that’s all it was, he told himself.)

But then came the day when he stumbled upon a klaxon...


It was a fairly ordinary day. Jack had decided to go exploring, and this time found a completely new corridor. Although the Seeker had vaguely said something about the TARDIS being endless… Maybe it was new.

He almost didn’t see the opening, and he had the strangest feeling that the TARDIS didn’t want him to go down that way - which of course made him even more curious.

The corridor was nondescript and bare and he had almost decided to turn back when he came upon a door bearing a large sign.


Jack looked at it speculatively. He remembered the Seeker talking about Time Lord engineering, how the engine was an exploding star in the act of becoming a black hole - ripped from its orbit and suspended in a permanent state of decay. He’d said something about how it was also too dangerous to show Jack, as more than a few seconds’ exposure could kill him.

Jack bit his lip.

A few seconds would surely be OK?

The door was locked, so opening it was a bit complicated, but being Jack helped overriding the lock mechanisms - the Seeker truly trusted his best friend in every way imaginable, which was one of the things he found quite reassuring, despite his occasional twinges of doubt. And Jack trusted his other self too - at the very least to choose his friends wisely.

When the door opened he stepped inside, bracing himself for the deadly heat of a star.

What he found was infinitely worse.

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