I indulged the "Next Doctor" bunny a bit when I realized how the dates fell canon-wise.

Title: Beginning of the Adventure
Ficverse: A Touch of Smith and Jones
Rating: PG
Summary: Jackson Lake meets an old companion for the first time.

Jackson Lake slowly made his way through the city, enjoying the bustle and energy the Christmas season brought to London. He felt no reason to hurry to his destination; he knew when he needed to be in the alley just off Cooley Street. He had plenty of time to walk the remaining distance and it gave him an opportunity to reminisce about all the adventures he had had since becoming the Doctor almost twenty years earlier.

It hardly seemed that long since that first adventure involving the Cybermen, an adventure that had wounded his spirit grievously. There was still an ache that filled him whenever he thought about his wife and how she had died, but his son and Rosita had helped greatly in easing that pain. Now his son was married-- and about to become a father himself, imagine that! -- and both he and Rosita were looking forward to meeting the newest addition to the Lake family, and the adventures that new addition would bring them.

But while he waited for his first grandchild to arrive, he had an old and familiar companion to meet for the first time.

When he finally reached the narrow alley, Jackson stepped into the dark shadows without hesitation and set the bag he was carrying down on the ground. He wondered if he would know what needed to be done, then he had to chuckle at that thought. Right now, he was the Doctor again; he’d just make it up as he went along just as he had done in the past.

A breeze that had no earthy source stirred his hair. He watched, with only a mild sense of astonishment, at the swirling kaleidoscope of color forming in the center of the alley. Jackson waited patiently for the source of the twisting unreality to appear, then stepped quickly over to the man who crumpled to the ground when the time vortex retreated. The man was still for a minute or two-- killed by his long trip through time and space-- then he took a great gasping breath and curled into a ball on the dirty ground. A weak whimper of pain slipped out of the man as Jackson swung off his long tan coat.

“There, there Jack, everything will be fine,” he said as he draped the coat over the shivering man. Confused blue eyes stared up at him as he gently wrapped his fingers around the arm the Vortex Manipulator was strapped to. Panic flashed across Captain Jack Harkness’s face as he tried to pull the arm out of Jackson‘s grip.

Jackson smile and rested a hand on top of Jack‘s head. “It’s all right Jack,” he said softly. “You‘re safe, you‘re not alone anymore.”

Jack stared at him for a few heartbeats then he sobbed and closed his eyes as he turned his face towards the ground. Jackson pulled the bag closer and reached in to pull out some supplies as he examined Jack‘s wrist. The skin around the Manipulator was covered with dried blood, and there was a faint burning smell lingering in the air around it. Jackson cautiously pressed down on the Manipulator’s blackened screen to see what reaction Jack would have.

There was a grunt and a weak pull of the arm, but no stronger reactions than that. Jackson breathed a silent word of thanks as he cleaned up the blood.

By the time he was done, Jack was asleep. Jackson considered waking him, but then thought about how far the man had traveled and decided it was best to leave him be. Pushing aside the bag, Jackson leaned back against a wall and waited for the man to wake up.

Jackson was a little startled when he discovered he had fallen asleep himself. He slowly straightened, then winced as a few aches and pains made their presence known. A rueful smile pulled his lips as he thought about how long it had been since he’d slept under conditions such as these.

When he glanced at his companion, he was not surprised to find Jack watching him closely. Jackson smiled and leaned forward slightly to stretch his spine. As he leaned back and settled against the wall again, he said, “Feel free to ask me anything, Jack. I‘m sure you have more than a few after such a long trip.”

Jack was silent as he slowly pushed himself upright. He pulled the coat tighter around his shoulders and crossed his legs Indian style as he hunched forward. “You know who I am,” Jack croaked, then frowned at the sound of his own voice.

Jackson nodded as he leaned sideways to dig in the bag. “Yes I do.” He pulled out a flask of water and held it out to Jack. As Jack reached for the flask, Jackson said, “I‘ve known about you for quite some time.”

Jack scowled as his hand closed around the flask. His gaze snapped suspiciously to Jackson’s. “What do you mean?” he asked.

Letting go of the flask, Jackson shrugged his shoulders. “It’s a long and complicated story.” He made a face and looked at the hard ground Jack sat on. “And I apologize. I should have brought something softer for you to land on than these cobblestones when you fell out of the Time Vortex.”

Jack took a sip of water. “How do you know about the Time Vortex?”

“I know many things.” He gave Jack a sad smile. “Including the fact that you missed the time that you were aiming for.” Jack stiffened, and his gaze flicked over Jackson’s clothes as if only now becoming aware of how Jackson was dressed.

When Jack‘s gaze met his again, he said gently, “I’m sorry, Jack. You’re in London, and the year is 1869.”

Jack’s eyes closed tight. He moaned and seemed to shrink in on himself as his grip on the flask became tight enough to cause the hand to shake. Jackson quickly reached out and cupped Jack’s face in his hands. He saw a flash of despair as he forced Jack’s head up. “Everything will work out,” he said, “Don‘t start doubting things now, Jack.”

When he saw the sudden desperate hope that flared in Jack’s searching gaze, Jackson wondered why phrasing things in such a way had caused such a reaction. Taking a wild guess, he caught the wrist of Jack’s free hand and pressed it quickly against his chest. He knew he had guessed right when Jack sagged, his breathing hitching a bit, as the realization that there was only one heart beating beneath his palm hit.

Jackson sighed. “There were Cybermen in London not that long ago. I fought them but was unable to protect my son, nor my wife. They stole my son and killed my Catherine before my eyes, and I would have die as well, consumed by my grief, if it had not been for the infostamp that I held in my hands.”

Understanding dawned on Jack’s face. “It was about the Doctor,” he said flatly.

Jackson nodded. “Yes. It backfired and, for a time, I believed that I was the Doctor.” For a moment, he looked away. “It was a way of escaping what had happened, a way of becoming someone new, a way of running away from my grief. I didn‘t hesitate to take it,” He laughed softly and turned his gaze back to Jack. “Ah, it was a fine adventure, being the Doctor. I even built my own TARDIS. Tethered Aerial Release Developed In Style,” he added proudly. When Jack raised an eyebrow at that, Jackson shrugged. “It was a balloon, but a magnificent one if I do say so myself,” he said. A shadow of a smile appeared on Jack’s face. Jackson smiled back, then sighed again.

“But there is only one Doctor and thankfully he arrived just in time, as he always does, to save London; and to save me.” Resting his hand lightly over Jack’s, Jackson added, “But I still remember everything that was on that device, including you Jack.”

He leaned closer to Jack. “You will find him, Jack. It will take time and,” Jackson made a face, “he won’t be the man you remember…”

“He regenerated.” Jack took a deep breath and bowed his head but not before Jackson saw the pain those two words brought him. The fingers of the hand pressed against Jackson’s chest twitched in response to the emotions running through Jack.

“It was one of the reasons he left you,” he gently told Jack. “He had to rescue Rose before he regenerated. He knew you could take care of yourself.”

Jack nodded as he leaned forward to rest his head against Jackson’s shoulder. “And the other reason?” he murmured.

“Ah, that. That I think I should let him explain to you.”

“But I will see him again?”

“Yes Jack. One day you will see him again.”

He heard Jack swallow hard and knew Jack had begun to weep by the ragged sound of his breathing. Wrapping an arm around Jack’s shoulder, Jackson silently held him. After a time, Jack grew quiet as well, resting against Jackson as he pulled himself back together.

Jackson smiled when Jack’s head shifted slightly and his fingers began fiddling with the buttons on his vest. The Jackson Lake that existed before the Doctor had come into his life would never have allowed himself to get into such a situation as this, holding a man as he waited to see what that man might need without fear or judgment. He had found it to be one of the more enlightening aspects of having a Time Lord’s memories in his head and had opened up an entirely new way of looking at those around him.

It appeared that Jack was simply distracted though. He stopped playing with the buttons, took a deep breath, then pushed away, though Jack’s hand remained pressed against Jackson for a few moments before he dropped it into his lap.

“You’re quite welcome to join me and my family until you get settled in,” Jackson said, but was hardly surprised when Jack shook his head.

“No, that won’t be necessary.” When he opened his mouth to protest, Jack gave him a weak smile coupled with an appreciative look as he said, “I’m guessing you know things about me that I shouldn’t know yet and that you could easily tempt me to stay if I gave you the chance.”

Chuckling, Jackson snagged the strap on the bag and dragged it over. He then dumped it into Jack’s lap. “I thought you might say that.” He nodded at the bag. “Everything you need to get started is in there, clothing, identification, money…” Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out a card and handed it to Jack.

“And you’ll find a room there in your name that has been paid for through the end of the month.”

Jack looked at the card, then up at Jackson. “Thank you,” he said quietly.

“You’re welcome.” Jackson pushed himself to his feet then rubbed the small of his back. Looking down at Jack, he muttered lightly, “I think I might be getting a little too old for all this adventure business.” He nodded and smiled. “Good luck to you, Captain Harkness.”

Jack gave him a grateful smile.

When he reached the end of the alley, Jackson paused to glance back. He found Jack looking down at the Vortex Manipulator strapped to his wrist. A frown crossed Jack's face, and then he sighed and looked up to stare at the alley wall. Jackson watched him for a minute then snapped his fingers and spun around as he reached into his pocket. Stepping back over to Jack, he held out his screwdriver. He grinned at the bemused expression on Jack’s face as he reached up to take the screwdriver.

“May not be sonic and it may not help with your Manipulator,” Jackson said, “but it might come in handy sometime.”

Jack laughed. “It just might.” He grinned back. “Thank you. I promise I’ll take good care of it.”

“I’m sure you will.” Jackson turned away and this time he did not look back. Jack, he knew, would survive and one day would meet the Doctor again; but that was Jack’s adventure, not his.

He had his own adventures to live.
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