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Fudge Ripple

By JalendaviLady

Characters: Jack, female humanoid

Pairing: Jack/someone

Rating: PG-13

Summary: Jack, a young Time Agent, meets a girl.

...

Disclaimer: I own not Doctor Who.

...

Part 1

She'd been in the ice cream parlor at this exact time for the past four weeks. Always alone, always the same order, always the same ship in the parking lot.

Even more oddly, always the same outfit. Short blonde hair under a floppy pink bow, yellow shirt, and a thigh-length black skirt. Her shoes were an odd sort of high heel that one Captain Jack Harkness had never seen anywhere else in his travels. He'd even been looking.

She was an enigma. Stunningly beautiful and graceful, but a near-total engima.

He sat on the stool next to her, adjusting his hat.

"Hello."

He blinked, then stammered out "Hello."

"Not used to someone else talking first, are you?" Her eyes were sparkling. He couldn't name the color; he had never seen quite that shade of blue-violet before on a human face.

Actually, now that he thought about it, he hadn't seen that shade on a non-human face, either.

"Not really. I've seen you around here before."

"I'm not surprised. I come here often enough." Her eyes were still sparkling. She poked her bowl with a spoon, swirling the half-melted remnants of the local special.

"You from around here? It's a small colony and I haven't..."

"...haven't seen me around? I travel. But no other place makes ice cream like this. And what about you? Is this home, or a place to pass through?"

"I travel. I keep a place here, though. Have to get the ship fixed somewhere."

"Indeed. So nice, just a ship and the open sky."

"Just take the spacelanes wherever..."

"Mmm." She nodded, smiling, and ate a spoonful.

They sat in silence.

"Mine's a timeship."

Usually this would be about the point where the swooning would begin.

Instead, she just took another bite. "That would make you a Time Agent, right? Either that, or a thief with very nimble fingers."

"Captain Jack Harkness, at your service."

"You mean the Time Agency's service, of course." She looked at her watch, took the last bite and hopped off her stool, hairbow bouncing. "And if you'll excuse me, I have somewhere I need to be. I'll be here again next week, though."

She left, climbing into a little brown and orange planethopper. There was some odd detailing near the tail, but she sped off before he had a chance to get a good look.

...

She was there again, same spot and same time, just as she had promised. The bow still sat floppily on her head.

"Hello, Captain Harkness."

Her smile was just a little less wide.

"What's up, oh pretty one?"

She giggled, ever so slightly, then returned to looking somewhat dignified. "Nothing much. The worlds are still spinning and the ship is still flying. That's all that really matters."

He could tell she didn't mean a word of it.

A moment later her shoulders dropped. "Another firm is coming after my family's business."

"And that would be..."

"Accounting, legal paperwork, record keeping. Bureaucratic stuff. Some of my cousins do courier service. I handle some of the more negotiative aspects."

He laughed ever so slightly. "Certainly sounds like an interesting life."

"Well, we do get to see quite a bit of the galaxy. There's some lovely stuff out there in the night sky, Captain. One could spend a thousand lifetimes out there and still not see everything." Her eyes were so bright he could have sworn they were glowing.

"Yeah. And you handle the paperwork."

"Very important stuff, paperwork. Universe wouldn't keep running without it."

"I've seen times back when paperwork still took place on paper. Real paper. Have you ever smelled an old book, a truly ancient one? Plastic sheets never get like that."

She nodded. "We've got an archive of old documents back when the family started handling things ages ago. They're all musty, but there's something about them..." She was leaning towards him.

"... like you can smell the history..." He leaned towards her as well.

"... all the ages..."

"... of the world..."

"Mmm."

He could taste the chocolate on her lips as they pulled apart. They were cool. Not human, then.

She was blushing ever so slightly, breathing a bit fast.

Or at least not entirely human.

A few more silent bites of ice cream and she finished. "I have places to be. It was a pleasure to talk to you again, Captain Harkness. Same time next week, again?"

He nodded.

The same hop down, the same walk to the same ship. The same inability to see the detailing on the thing before she took to the sky.

...

The next week, she straggled in after he was already sitting at the counter.

She sat in front of the bowl. "Thanks."

"Hey, you always get the same thing, so I just figured..."

"It was very sweet, Captain." She ran a hand through her hair and he noticed the bow was missing.

"You seem to be missing something."

"It fell off somewhere. Things are getting worse." She attacked the ice cream with the spoon.

"Cutthroat business, paperwork?"

"Some of the others in the business have already been exterminated by the new competition." There was a sadness in her eyes.

"Don't you mean eliminated?"

"Scorched earth policy. Nothing left. Paper ash and melted datachips, all of it. One of my cousins went to the headquarters of one of them yesterday and... they were all dead, just slumped at their desks and homes. The entire firm."

"Are you safe?" The words are blunter than he intended.

"Safer than most. We're the last group they'll go after unless we can stop them first, and I'm a bit more defended than most of my cousins. For now, we're safe."

"Better the enemy that steals market share than the one that kills you?"

"That's the idea." She took another bite.

"And you're sitting in an ice cream parlor on a backwater colony while all this is going on."

"Sanity can be just as important as life, Captain."

"And how come no one has heard about any of this?"

"Captain, how often have you actually met the people responsible for the computer that pays you? That keeps track of your banking? That keeps that beloved timeship of yours running? Companies shift, workers move from place to place, and the common folk of the galaxy never notice."

"But you're talking things on the level of serial murder," he hissed under his breath.

"Whole colonies die every month, Captain. Who is to say which are accidents and which are planned?"

"Those who see the patterns," he admitted slowly. "Like you."

She nodded.

"So those in danger see the end coming and the rest of the galaxy doesn't care."

She took a bite before answering. "A few see who aren't in danger. Mostly uninvolved watchers. The monks of the universe. But they don't see much reason to care either. The universe goes on, you know. A city burns but the next day the sun rises anyway. Eternity marches on. I could die tomorrow and the galaxy wouldn't care."

He covered her hand, the one without the spoon, with his own. "I'd care."

The spoon banged against the bottom of the bowl. "You don't even know my homeworld, my company, my name. You barely even know what I do for a living. I could be gone next week and you would never know if it was because I was bored of ice cream or if I was dead." The words were far calmer than they should have been, but he could see the pain in her eyes.

"But I would miss you and hope you weren't dead. I would keep looking for you until I was sure you weren't coming back." He squeezed her hand and she trembled.

"I'm scared."

It was so easy just to scoot a little closer, wrap his other arm around her shoulders. "You have a right to be scared..."

"Freddie. You can call me Freddie."

"Freddie. Isn't that an odd name for a girl?"

"Hey! My favorite uncle gave me that name," she sniffed.

A silence between them. "Is he safe?"

"Safe to be around, or safe from danger?" The corner of her mouth twitched upwards.

"Safe from danger."

"Danger follows him like a baby duckling, Jack. He's one of the members of the family off putting themselves in harm's way right now, trying to find out what's going on. And speaking of family, I have to go."

"Is there any way at all that I can help?"

"This is beyond you, Jack. Just believe me on that. Besides," she looked down and away, "I want to know at least one person I care about is safe."

The kiss this time was a bit more planned. Still just a swift pressing together of faces, nothing that didn't happen thousands of times a day between near-total strangers in places like this throughout the galaxy.

"I have to go now. I'll be here again next week."

She pulled away, hopped down, and sped off.

...

The next week, she ate faster than he thought she was capable. Freddie was the sort of girl who ate ice cream bite by tiny bite, savouring it.

He did not protest when she hauled him bodily out of the parlor by his collar and proceded to kiss him desperately in the narrow space between buildings.

When they pulled apart so he could catch his breath, he stammered, "I can't promise you exclusivity, if that's what you're after."

"Did I even say I was offering that?"

Another kiss, bodies moving closer.

He could feel her heartbeat... no, that was odd... hearts beating?

"Is this just a distraction from your family troubles? I can do distraction, but I like to know beforehand."

She pulled away. "No. A bit more needed, but... Jack, I was watching you while you were watching me. You were coming here before I was."

Odd. He couldn't remember coming here more than once or twice before she started showing up, and even then it hadn't been this time of week.

"And you don't have problems with out-of-species?"

"Ah, so you noticed that?"

"Low body temperature, double heartbeat, not currently in the process of dying... not very hard to figure out, Freddie."

She looked down at her watch. "I'm nearly late. I wish I could stay..."

"I've got a timeship. I could hop you back to now in a few hours, and no one would ever be the wiser."

"It wouldn't work, Jack."

He put his hands on his hips. "Doubting a Time Agent's ability to jump a few hours?"

"It just wouldn't work. I can't explain, not without putting people I care for at risk. It just wouldn't. I have to go now, but I'll be back again." She looked away, then met his eyes and moved closer.

"How's your family situation going?"

"Worse. My uncle's still okay, but a few cousins disappeared. Things are getting risky."

"Then stay here."

"I can't. They all need me. Besides, I'd be found anyway, even here."

"And I'd defend you."

She smiled. "Mister hot stuff Time Agent Captain Jack Harkness, understand this: the enemy that my family faces is beyond even your ability to fight."

And then she was gone again.

...

She was back the next week, a bit worse for wear.

"Things worse?" He wrapped an arm around her as he sat on the stool beside her.

"Looks like things will get really bad soon. But we'll be ready."

"A Time Agent can't do anything, but your family can?"

"We're very resourceful, us paperpushers."

"And your enemies will lie dead in their ships, bled out from papercuts."

She smiled under rumpled hair. "Knowledge can be power, and bureacracies breed allies as well as enemies. We'll give a good accounting of ourselves."

They both laughed for the barest second at the unintended pun.

"Will you be safe?"

"As safe as I can be."

"Freddie, that's not what I asked."

The spoon was carefully balanced across the bowl. "Jack, I am one of the most defended of my family. In all likelihood, if anything does happen to us, I will be the absolute last to fall. I'm safer than most of them are."

"But you aren't safe."

"And being a Time Agent is?"

"Point." Kiss. "Just be careful."

"I'll try."

They spent the rest of the time quietly, simply being there.

"I need to go now."

Kiss. "Why not stay, let the world go by?"

"Because my family is depending on me." The words were firm but held a sadness behind them. "I'll be back next week. The danger isn't all that great right now. I'll be fine; don't worry."

"Freddie... let me help."

"Remember, I'll know that you're safe if you stay here. Not everything I care about will be at risk."

"Freddie..."

"Shh." Kiss. "I have to go now. I can't wait any longer."

She hopped down and hurried out.

...

The next week she had circles under her eyes.

"It's about to get really bad."

"Stay."

"I've already told you, I can't." The spoon tapped against the bowl nervously. "Too much depends on me."

"Freddie..."

"Jack..."

"Why can't you all just run? Get away, regroup, solidify a position?"

"We've already done what we can. They keep coming. We have to fight to survive now." She choked down a spoonful.

"Freddie..."

"Jack, I may not be here next week."

The words hung in the air.

"I may never be here again."

He slipped an arm around her, otherwise still with shock. They might not be heading towards anything near exclusive, but she was... special. Even without having done much of anything together other than talk. She was certainly more important to him than any of the one-night romps he had garnered over the years from 'he's got a timeship' swooning. "Freddie..."

"Jack, I might be dead tomorrow. Our number's up. No one left of note for them to go after but our headquarters. No place left to run."

"Then stay here."

"I'll be hunted. This colony will die. This place will burn. You'll..." There were tears in her eyes.

He hugged her. "How long until you have to be back this time?"

"I've got a few hours."

"Say a proper goodbye, just in case?"

She met his eyes, something playful trying to enter them. "Don't you mean an improper goodbye?"

He leaned close, lips brushing hers. "How improper do you want your goodbye?"

He felt rather than saw her smile.

"Get a room!" the man behind the counter called out.

Jack leapt down to the floor, dragging her by the arm. "Already got one!"

...

They stood beside her ship, practically lip-locked.

"If I'm not back this time next week, move on. If I'm still around, I'll understand."

"Freddie..."

"Move on, Jack. Let me know you're going to have a good life no matter what happens to me."

"And if this enemy seeks new things to fight?"

"You won't be a target. I can promise that. This place will still be safe. And you could run anyway, right? Timeship."

"Just try to stay alive and unhurt, Freddie. Try to come back."

She kissed him, then entered the ship and flew off.

He had never seen the emblem on the tail, some combination of circle and infinity sign, before.

He walked back into the parlor.

"I can't believe it took you over two years to do that, Jack."

Two YEARS!?

...

She rematerialised her TARDIS in the presidential office on Gallifrey and walked out, watching as it morphed into its usual disguise as her desk chair.

Her closest confidant was standing there, all green coat and wavy hair. "Hello and welcome back, President. Good trip?"

"Wonderful trip. Defenses ready for the attack?"

"As ready as we can get them."

"Then let's go."

Date: 2006-04-27 05:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] purple-smurf.livejournal.com
Zomg! Jack/Romana!!!!!1! You may have just broken my brain with teh glee.

Date: 2006-04-27 05:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jalendavi-lady.livejournal.com
Mind if I ask exactly when you figured out who she was (authorial curiosity, etc.)?

Date: 2006-04-27 05:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] purple-smurf.livejournal.com
I had suspicions earlier with the firm business -- I knew it had to be someone the Doctor had travelled with, and I'm All About Romana --was reasonably sure with the Those who see the patterns conversation, but I knew for certain with the name of Fred, and the two hearts was just confirmation.

Although I really don't do what the Doctor and Romana so did with my favourite uncle ;)

Date: 2006-04-27 06:10 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jalendavi-lady.livejournal.com
Well, she was including all of Gallifrey in the family metaphor, so with the whole protege-thing also going on he had to be closer than a cousin. I've also got a suspicion that under the loom-option (and I am following that, since it lets me do some things with the fall of Gallifrey that I couldn't do otherwise) either sexuality gets really repressed or becomes rather open (at least within species, because there is that whole 'we are better than everyone' thing as well). Either there's no need seen for it anymore, or is becomes just another level of social bonding activity between individuals.

Besides, what was she gonna say if she had done stuff before with the Doctor: "Jack, you may call me Freddie. The name was given to me by the man who taught me everything I am about to do to you. Your place or mine?" (Then again, from all I've heard about Jack... would he even mind that?)

Date: 2006-04-27 06:16 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] purple-smurf.livejournal.com
"Jack, you may call me Freddie. The name was given to me by the man who taught me everything I am about to do to you. Your place or mine?"

*dies laughing* Oh, Jack would LOVE that.

Date: 2006-05-23 03:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jalendavi-lady.livejournal.com
After finally having seen some episodes with Jack in them, I concur.

(But in this fic, no. Just no.)

Date: 2006-04-27 08:03 am (UTC)
tau_sigma: (Boggling Four)
From: [personal profile] tau_sigma
Oh my! Jack/Romana! *loves* 'Exterminated' was a nice touch, that was what got me thinking, and 'Freddie' and the 'favourite uncle' clinched it. Beautiful fic. :)

Date: 2006-04-27 11:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] melata-fic.livejournal.com
I, on the other hand, came in hoping for Jack/Romana and expecting to be proved wrong. *beams*

Love the metaphor running through it, and the "two years" bit.

And those subtle hints to let me know I was actually on the right track to start with. :)

Date: 2006-04-28 10:44 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jalendavi-lady.livejournal.com
I was rather surprised I couldn't find anything else Jack/Romana anywhere. She is just about the only major female character in the entire history of Doctor Who who has absolute immunity to the 'I've got a timeship' line.

I'm glad you liked the hints and the metaphor. Those were rather fun to come up with.

Date: 2006-04-27 08:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mahala.livejournal.com
Oh! Clever!

Date: 2007-02-17 02:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bigeyedrabbit.livejournal.com
I. LOVE. JACK/ROMANA. Someone pointed me towards this because I had complained that no one was writing it.

::is dead from love::

Date: 2007-02-17 02:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] vamp-lynette.livejournal.com
Great story, loved it, but I can't read part 2 :(.

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