For hllangel in the twdw_ficathon Captain Jack exchange.
Summary: Jack's first experience of life in the TARDIS.
Spoilers: Up to The Doctor Dances, Doctor Who Series 1, leading into the events of Boom Town.
Author's Notes: Many thanks to pinkamethyst for the beta! hllangel requested "snappy dialogue, alien stuff of some kind, and a stopwatch in some form or another" - I hope this suits.
Jack woke up, feeling the hum of a spaceship all around him. He flung a hand out, fumbling for the control panel, but his arm just flopped through air down to his side. He opened his eyes in surprise, and for a moment felt wildly disorientated. He propped himself upright and looked around the room. In the darkness he could make out strange shapes, and then remembered. The bomb, his ship destroyed, the Doctor dancing.
He leapt out of bed, grinning. This room alone was bigger than his entire old ship – definitely moving up in the world. He wandered out into the corridor. The ship was humming with life, and when Jack put his hand against a wall it fairly pulsated against his palm. In awe, he stepped in and out of rooms full of strange wonders – alien tech he'd only ever heard whisper of, just lying scattered around as though it was all part of a child's toy collection.
The humming of the TARDIS was becoming more melodic, and distinctly reminiscent of Glenn Miller. He moved towards the sound, and found Rose in a room full of mirrors, idly arranging her hair and singing to herself.
"Never had him down as the vain type," Jack said, and Rose met his eyes in the mirror.
"He had no idea it was here until I asked him about it," she said with relish. "A Time Lord that doesn't even know his own spaceship."
Jack laughed. "That's encouraging."
"But," Rose continued, "not a safer place in the universe. A supernova couldn't rip this old girl apart." She patted the chair she was sitting on with a smile. "Welcome aboard, Captain."
With a wink, Jack left her and continued his travels. He roamed up and down great spiralling staircases, trying to get a feel for his new place of residence. Eventually, he ended up down the last set of stairs, and spotted a most curious sight.
The Doctor was hovering over the console, staring intently at a display and muttering under his breath. In one hand he held a stopwatch that he glanced at periodically in frustration.
"A stopwatch," Jack said in disbelief. "You're telling me that's the best time recording device you've got on—"
The Doctor held up a silencing figure. "Shut up a minute, I'm counting."
A moment or two passed, then he banged the screen in a flash of annoyance. He looked up at Jack with a sudden beaming smile.
"Sorry about that – hello!"
"A stopwatch," Jack repeated.
"Your point?" The Doctor folded his arms. "I like it."
Jack stepped forward to pick it up. "I thought I'd seen the last of all this analogue stuff – look at it, Doctor, it's practically prehistoric!"
"My ship, Harkess," the Doctor replied, one eyebrow raised. "You watch your mouth."
"Or what?" Jack pulled his best pathetic face. "Can't go back to the war, can I? And you wouldn't leave me homeless after I blew up my ship for the greater good."
"Could drop you off on the Eye of Orion, sure you'd be happy there – beautiful in the summer time."
"I'd like to see you try."
The Doctor relented and laughed. "Seeing as you asked so nicely… Now give me that back!"
Jack tossed it casually over, and the Doctor caught it with a grin.
"What do you make of it?" he asked. "The reformed life?"
Jack sighed extravagantly. "I don't know how I'm going to get used to it. Are you really sure you're ready to make an honest man out of me, Doctor?"
The Doctor snorted. "I certainly never offered to do that!"
Jack threw his hands in the air. "What's a man got to do?"
"Despairing so soon?"
"Oh, I've barely even started."
The Doctor looked alarmed. "What have I let myself in for?"
Jack moved and leant over the console next him, resting a hand on his shoulder. The Doctor didn't blink, just brushed him off again.
"So what's wrong with the TARDIS anyway?" Jack asked.
"Running low on energy after that bomb blast – I tell you, the twentieth century knew how to pack its punches." The Doctor tapped the stopwatch. "Everything's running down, going very slowly at the moment."
Jack looked around. "How d'you fuel something like this?"
The Doctor shrugged. "It depends. You need an enormous source of energy. Any bright ideas, Sparky?"
Jack spluttered. "Sparky?" After a moment of recovery, he paused in thought, turning to lean against the console. "What about the Rift? You been there? I mean, I know it's in Cardiff, but the Welsh have got their uses sometimes. All that radiation, gotta be perfect fuel."
The Doctor looked impressed. "Exactly what I was thinking! Alright, you can stay. Cardiff it is."
Jack groaned. "Not my century, I hope. Completely overrun by seagulls, terrible place."
"It really went downhill after the 27th, didn't it?"
"I'll say. And after that?"
"Anything! Wherever takes your fancy."
"Oh well, in that case – I may have a few ideas." Jack leaned forward slightly.
The Doctor wasn't giving an inch, just coolly remarking "I'm sure."
There was a cough at the doorway. "You alright there, Doctor?" Rose asked, hand on her hip.
"Never better," he replied, stepping away from Jack. "Now then. We need to stop off at the Rift in Cardiff, refuel. Pick an era, any era."
"Could do with a trip home, actually. 2006 alright?"
Rose stuck her tongue out. "Yes."
"Bet she just wants to buy shoes," the Doctor muttered to Jack.
"Oi! Well, if we're there… I've nearly worn these boots out."
The Doctor sighed. "You're impossible, you are."
"Yeah, and? You love it!"
Jack watched them both, laughing. The Doctor set in co-ordinates, Rose disappeared to call home, and as the buzzing of the ship increased Jack couldn't wipe the grin off his face. The Doctor glanced over at him with a conspiratory smile, and Jack glowed with belonging.
"We'll have to stay there for at least 24 hours – I'm afraid it will be terribly dull."
"Oh, I don't know," Jack replied slowly. "Seems to me excitement follows you around everywhere."
"So that's what you are, then? Excitement?"
"You'd better believe it!"
With a disparaging look at the ceiling, the Doctor yanked down a lever, and Jack felt a bump as they landed on solid ground. Rose bustled past, armed with a handbag.
"See you boys later – oh, and Mickey's catching a train, he'll be here sometime this afternoon," she called as she went out the door.
"Mickey?" the Doctor yelped after her indignantly. "Idiot, absolute idiot," he explained to Jack.
The Doctor moved to open the door again, but Jack touched his arm.
"She'll be gone for ages, what's the hurry?"
"That stopwatch still to hand?"
"Yeah – why? Not finally warming to it, are you?"
"Perhaps." Jack stepped forward, placing a hand on the Doctor's hip.
"You never let up, do you?" The Doctor's exasperated sigh belied a growing smile.
"No, not really," Jack replied, kissing him. He was met with no resistance.