elisi: (Alexander)
[personal profile] elisi
And done… Hope it does not disappoint.

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

Four.

The room was coldly metallic and the dimensions were… wrong; the ceiling sloping upwards, the light faintly blue and harsh - a marked difference from the golden ambience through the TARDIS - the very air somehow unpleasant.

But that was background, secondary impressions that merely backed up the horror at the sight in front of him.

The Seeker turned, the surprise on his face evident, before being overlaid with concern and anger:

“Jack - what the hell are you doing here, can’t you read?” he cried, as - slowly, deliberately - Jack drew his gun; everything he had thoughtlessly accepted without question coming back to taunt him…

Every unsettling myth, every rumour, every chilling story from the Time War that he had dismissed – they all crowded in his mind, irrefutable and painfully relevant.

But dammit, he wouldn’t go down without a fight.

“Oh Jack, don’t-” the Seeker sighed, as Jack took careful aim, not taking his eyes off the unspeakable terror that had shaken him to his core. He couldn’t kill it, he knew that, but one good shot might disable it...

(It should be dead, they were all dead, it was killed or be killed, they had no mercy, they exterminated everything in their path… Damn straight he was threatening it, if he had a better gun it would be dead already like it ought to be.)

“No really, don’t. Either of you.”

It was a clear warning, as the Seeker bodily stepped in front of the abomination whilst retrieving the laser from his pocket. He kept the weapon lowered, but Jack knew how fast he was, how deadly the beam.

“Why…” Jack’s voice was tight with fear and anger, “... do you have a Dalek in your ship?”

The Seeker hesitated, studying Jack with those guarded eyes.

“It helped me win a war against its own,” he answered - calmly, but cautiously, “and it was the key to travelling between dimensions. It’s… sort of my pet?”

“Your pet?”

He’d thought that maybe it was a prisoner. Because the Seeker was curious and arrogant enough to do something like that; constantly wanting to know more and studying everything they came across. And Jack could just about understand - if not condone - keeping something that evil alive if it were for a greater purpose.

But this

Jack swallowed, trying to temper the bitterness that was now overwhelming him, as he renewed the grip on his gun and changed the direction ever so slightly, so now he was aiming straight at the Seeker’s chest, rather than the Dalek’s eyestalk.

It seemed to take a few moments for the Seeker to realise that Jack was serious.

“Et tu, Jack?” he asked softly and there seemed to be a genuine chink in the armour, his eyes betraying the hurt. Not that Jack cared.

“That is not my name!” he cut the Seeker off. “And I am not him, your bestest friend in another world. I don’t know what the hell you wanted with me, because this is sick!”

At this, the Dalek spoke. It sounded… odd, its voice strangely lilting and somehow even more unsettling than those he remembered. And what it said didn’t do much to improve matters either.

“Peace turns to war when the mortal man sees the truth,” it said, causing the Seeker to half-turn, a mocking eyebrow now raised.

“Prophecies after the fact are not actually called for, Caan,” he remarked, laying his free hand on the dome and almost smiling.

(Jack couldn’t count how often those hands had touched him, held him, grasped his own hand… The visceral disgust was such that he felt sick.)

But, he realised, the Seeker was now half-turned away…

Jack’s finger tightened on the trigger. One simple movement, he could find out if his ‘friend’ was as immortal as he claimed.

Leaving Jack with a Dalek, which would mean instant death.

And - if he escaped the Dalek, the four Toclafane.

And if he could somehow escape them, the TARDIS itself.

Being the type to always roll with the punches, Jack had from the start been impressed with the Seeker’s ridiculous organisational skills, the way every plan had several backup plans.

Viewed from the other side it was less appealing.

And then the moment passed…

The Seeker patted the dome, thanking the Dalek for something-or-other, before turning back to Jack, clearly once more composed.

“Put the gun away. If you were going to try anything, you would have done it already.”

Jack didn’t move.

“Just how telepathic are you?”

The Seeker shook his head.

“I am familiar enough with your thought patterns to know how you figure stuff out. And I am quite keen for you to leave the TARDIS alive, believe it or not. Since I’m presuming you don’t want to spend any more time here, I’d say you better go pack up your stuff and work out where you want to be dropped off. You still have the credit card, right? The limitless one?”

Walking past him, as Jack could only stare in surprise, the Seeker put the laser away and then opened the door:

“Best get out before Caan becomes less lucid. He’s… not exactly sane, to put it mildly. The plus-side is that he tell the future.” A sudden, penetrating look. “I realise I won’t change how you feel, but I have perfectly sound reasons for keeping him around.”

“Well, that’s good to know,” Jack retorted, telling himself that holstering his gun wasn’t a sign of defeat, and followed the Seeker out of the room.

A simple room, yet it had been the setting of a watershed unlike any he’d experienced before.

(Realising that the Time Agency had stolen two years of his memories had been most unpleasant, but he’d not been surprised.)

The Seeker closed the door behind them, and for a moment they just stood there, unsure. It felt anticlimactic, too quiet. Jack wanted to scream his anger, his sense of betrayal, his disgust…

He remembered last night; a tiny planet which happened to be the ideal viewing point for a spectacular celestial show. The sky so stunning it silenced them both, the heavenly beauty impossible to speak of with any human words. Trying to communicate, to somehow share the unspeakable, physical closeness had been the only answer. The only word ever spoken had been the Seeker’s softly whispered “Jack…” and for that one brief moment he had looked at Jack with the exact same look with which they had viewed the wonders above.

He hadn’t known what to say or do, as the experience had been entirely out of anything he had a reference for.

He still didn’t know.

Didn’t know how the man who had looked at him as if in love (no not love, something other, something different, something there was no word for), could also claim the most evil creature in the universe as a friend.

For a second he thought the Seeker would try to explain himself, but then he seemed to think better of it.

“See you in the control room,” the Seeker said, face unreadable, before turning and walking away.

~

The worst thing in the world was being wrong.

And he had been wrong. Hugely, spectacularly, wrong.

When he had visited ‘Pete’s World’ he had approached that Allison carefully, taking time out to evaluate the issues, what to say, what to do. Her rejection had been expected, and mostly welcomed, confirming his suspicions.

But with Jack he’d jumped straight in, grasped the unexpected opportunity and not looked back. And was now paying the price.

(Good thing Jack had never asked about the Toclafane, he reflected wryly, or the thing could have been over before it started…)

No, it was no good. He needed to straighten his head out, work out what had happened, how he had gone wrong.

Although first there was more urgent business to attend to… Despite the eventual outcome, he was glad he had consulted with Caan, who had indeed been able to see more clearly than he could himself. He knew exactly what to do now, even if it’d be hella complicated. Thank goodness he’d worked out the schematics a long time ago.


~

It seemed wrong that it should end like this. A magical adventure, abruptly ended by a chance discovery…

As he packed up his few belongings (he had always been one for travelling light) Jack tried to figure out why this felt so wrong, the still-lingering shock and anger apart.

He’d watched the Seeker impersonate a god once, on a planet where the ruling elite was particularly powerful and the population too cowed to dare fight back against the oppression. Jack – adept at impersonations, even if he said so himself – had been impressed at the audacity, but the Seeker had merely smiled that enigmatic smile of his.

“For them, I might as well be a god,” he’d remarked. “After all, I could destroy them all with a flick of my wrist. Although of course I much prefer saving them.”

Being dropped off with a civil goodbye, and that being that – it somehow didn’t fit. There should be more... More something. Jack wasn’t sure what, but this was too anticlimactic. It felt more like the parting after a less than successful one-night-stand, surely it couldn’t end like this? The juxtaposition of the ordinary and the unimaginable had effortlessly reached its peak…

The TARDIS shuddered, and he wondered what was happening.

Then his face hardened. Anticlimactic or not, he needed to get the hell out of there.

~

He found the Seeker in the control room, blankly staring at the screen. Jack stood in the doorway, waiting, until the other finally looked up. Had he changed his mind?

Finally he spoke:

“I would like to apologise.”

The look on Jack’s face must have spoken volumes, because he immediately clarified.

“Not for the Dalek. But I’ve been trying to work out why it went wrong… I took you – I take Jack – for granted. Always have. He is my one constant in an ever-changing world, and I mean that absolutely literally. I don’t know that there is a way to explain what he means to me with words, except he is as close to me, and as much a part of me, as a brother. It just – never occurred to me that you would not accept me. So I am sorry. You are not him, and I forgot.”

If the speech had been meant to mollify, it did the opposite, the choice of words setting Jack’s teeth on edge.

If the Seeker had known him at all, he would have understood that calling himself Jack’s brother was the ultimate insult.

But it was obviously all the explanation he’d ever get, and he wasn’t sure he wanted another. Endless questions were now presenting themselves, but he had a feeling he didn’t want to know the answers.

“Where do you want to go?”

It had been a question he’d been asked most days. But today was the last time…

(Dammit, he was upset. Why the hell did the Seeker have to turn out to have been… this?)

He named a medium sized city on a planet where he had connections from before, should he need anything.

The Seeker merely nodded, and moments later they landed. Jack glanced at the screen, saw they were in what appeared to be in an empty park at the edge of the city. Early morning if he judged the light correctly.

The doors opened, but as he nodded an uncomfortable “Goodbye” and walked towards the hazy morning light outside, the Seeker reached out.

Jack froze.

“Don’t touch me,” he said, and the Seeker stopped, hand outstretched, but no longer moving.

“Understood. There is just one more thing…”

~

He watched the TARDIS disappear with relief, mixed with anger and confusion, the Seeker’s final words unsettling him more than he had let on. A final question, the answer to which he could not guess at.

And still that bone-deep chill, the shock of the Dalek not letting up.

He had known there were deeper issues, should have asked instead of brushing it off, because the Seeker was honest, when pressed…

Fuck it all, why had he been so taken in by-

The dust settled, and Jack’s attention was suddenly caught by… impossibility.

Impossibility far beyond technology or legends made flesh or evil monsters.

Where the Seeker’s TARDIS had stood, there was a small boy dressed in white. A boy who had haunted his nightmares for too many years to count; the loss of whom had marked the point when his life had changed forever.

“Gray?” he whispered, unconsciously falling back into his native tongue, a language he had not used in decades, as the boy looked at him, confused and scared.

“Where am I? Where’s my mummy and daddy? There were scary aliens and we had to run and hide, but I fell and let go of my brother’s hand…”

(The Seeker had tilted his head, studying him with eyes that made him feel very very young.

‘I need you to know that I love you.’

‘The hell you do,’ he’d sneered, wondering what kind of last minute sick ploy this was. But the Seeker had merely smiled. The same smile he had smiled at the worshipping crowd.

‘Didn’t you ever wonder why I looked you up in the first place?’)


Gently reaching out to his brother, he fought against tears. He wasn’t used to love, had lived on the edge for so long that deep emotions were buried further down than he wanted - or dared - to look. Had forgotten that love was not just a feeling, or pain, or empty words. It could be actions. Or gifts. Or a second chance. Sent by heaven or hell, he no longer cared.

“Don’t worry, it’s going to be OK. Come with me, I’ll help you.”

Gray took his hand, trusting and clearly trying to be brave, and looked up at Jack with wide eyes.

“What’s your name, mister?”

The hesitation lasted but a heartbeat, then Jack smiled.

“You can call me Jack.”


~End~



To be continued in Redjay’s Revolution.

(no subject)

Date: 17 February 2017 04:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] luckweaver.livejournal.com
I don't have words to describe how brilliant this was. All of this. Every bit of the rollercoaster of the finale. I just *waves hands* Yes.

I forgot about Caan but it all makes sense now. Again, you've worked with something canon and put your own twist on how it affects people and the juxtaposition is gorgeous. OUR Jack and THIS Jack both have preconceived notions about Daleks; OURS because he has experience and THIS one because he's heard stories. I think I said in an earlier chapter that a Jack who only knows of the Time Lords by reputation makes for a really interesting dynamic; you pulled the same sort of trick here. And it works especially where because here is Jack, kind of the everyman in the middle of the Time War and judgemental of both sides.

And then you have to have fall in a sort of love/lust, and make it all complicated. I'm not surprised that Jack is mad - I think a fundamental part of any Jack is trust, and if not the truth, certainly not being lied to. Important distinction. Poor Jack - we see him go through so many emotions and thoughts here that he must be getting whiplash. The betrayal of trust, the fear, the feelings of love... even to have it all happen so soon after such a perfect day... it's not quite the 'pride comes before the fall' that the Seeker's had recently but it's something similar.

Of course the fact that this whole affair doesn't go the way that the Seeker planned ties in nicely with the end of A Good Day. He thought that all he had to do was take a step back, and try again. It's not that simple. The brief change of POV back to his works very well, because it shows us the sort of over-confidence that leads him to think he can leap right in and succeed. He had the false confidence from meeting Tentoo, Rose and Allison, and Jack noticed it too (not contextually, of course). This Seeker is secretive but with Jack he wasn't careful. That's where it went wrong; trying to just slip sex into what they already had.

That was worded poorly. I hope you understood... but I loved it, thanks.

(no subject)

Date: 18 February 2017 12:03 am (UTC)
enevarim: (hourglass)
From: [personal profile] enevarim
Every unsettling myth, every rumour, every chilling story from the Time War that he had dismissed – they all crowded in his mind, irrefutable and painfully relevant.
– Jack thinks the Seeker is the Hybrid? :P

Damn straight he was threatening it, if he had a better gun it would be dead already like it ought to be.
– So totally evoking the moments in Bad Wolf: “That's impossible. I know those ships. They were destroyed.”

“That is not my name!” he cut the Seeker off. “And I am not him, your bestest friend in another world
– That’s rather brilliant.

could also claim the most evil creature in the universe as a friend.
– And we the outside readers can remember that what the Seeker actually said was “sort of my pet”, not “my friend”, while also seeing how it makes perfect sense for not!Jack to reconstruct it like this in his head. Anger being the quickest path to a mistake, and all that.

No, it was no good. He needed to straighten his head out, work out what had happened, how he had gone wrong.
– This is so like the Seeker.

You are not him, and I forgot
– Good man. At least some of the time.

I had to look Gray up, which I presumably means I stopped watching season two of Torchwood after the first episode. So the coda didn’t have the impact on me that it would on someone who knew the rest of the story.

(no subject)

Date: 18 February 2017 03:16 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ragnarok-08.livejournal.com
Whoa, this is just amazing ♥

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