Stargazers by enchantment
The evening is warm and a soft breeze wafts pleasantly through the air as the foursome of Donna, Jack, Rose and the Doctor wait patiently in line at Jack's favorite Chinese restaurant.
Unable to remain still for very long, the Doctor is soon rocking back and forth on his heels and sticking his hands in his pockets when he makes a discovery. "What's this?"
Rose watches him withdraw an envelope and asks in astonishment, "It's still sealed? Honestly, Doctor, you've been here long enough to accumulate more than a few paychecks. When are you finally going to open your wages envelopes?"
Accepting that he'll finally have to cope with something so mundane that not even sonic can make it better, he relents with a grumble. "Fine! I'll take a look right now!" He makes a huge showing of opening the envelope before thrusting it Rose's face. "See? I opened it."
When she pushes the envelope back at him, he glances at it and declares, "Wow, will you look at that?" He gleefully waves his check stub in the air and boasts, "It looks like I'm finally being acknowledged for my genius and universe saving skills!"
Donna inquires suspiciously, "What are you on about, Spaceman?"
The Doctor replies in mock humility, "Well, I don't want to brag but check out how much I've made so far!"
Donna, well aware of how much the Doctor makes, takes a quick peek to verify that the accounting department hasn't made a mistake before giving him a pitying smile. "I hate to break it to you, Doctor, but that's not what you've made so far, that's what you've paid out in taxes."
"What?" squeaks the Doctor. "But…but…but that's an enormous amount of money? What could they possibly be using that much money for?"
Rose teases, "Most likely to pay for the repairs for all of the damage that your universe saving skills cause."
The Doctor shoots her a dry look and retorts, "Very funny, Rose Tyler. I'll have you know that I have mad universe saving skills."
"More like maddening," quips Donna. "Or have you forgotten about the Sheffield incident?"
The Doctor avoids their accusing gazes as he glances away from the group and clears his throat to stubbornly reply, "I happen to know for a fact that the residents of Sheffield greatly missed having a Hole in the Road and were very appreciate in showing their gratitude."
"Yeah," ribs Rose, "they were so grateful that they were very quick to send us a lovely thank you note." At his glare, she modifies, "Oh, no sorry, I meant an incredibly huge bill."
Jack enters the conversation by noting, "Actually, Doc, it's true what Rose said earlier. All employees of Torchwood or UNIT have taxes taken out of their wages every payday that goes towards paying for any destruction that's caused during an invasion or any type of alien contact. Otherwise, we would just pay taxes annually like everyone else."
The Doctor glowers down at the envelope before shoving it back into his pocket. "I am definitely confiscating some alien tech for this."
"What's that?" questions Donna tersely.
"Nothing," denies the Doctor innocently. He turns away from Donna's mistrustful gaze and notices Jack staring at something inside the restaurant. "What are you looking at, Jack?"
Jack's gaze doesn't falter and he continues to fixate on the restaurant's interior and wonders aloud, "I was just checking out the new signs that Mr. Yu has put up on his wall. I wonder if I can use their military discount."
The Doctor looks at Jack disbelievingly and scoffs, "I don't think that your nickname of 'Captain Jack' applies to this situation, Harkness."
Before Jack can respond, Donna comments, "No, Spaceman, I believe that Jack was referring to his membership in the KISS Army. Right, Jack?"
Only Donna and the Doctor are laughing as Jack suddenly exhibits a defiant stare which causes Rose to instantly realize that Donna's little taunt has hit the nail right on the head. The Doctor's fleeting look immediately alerts him that something's up and he attempts to control his laughter as he asks, "What's wrong? Why aren't you laughing?"
Rose smiles widely and replies, "Hello? Because KISS rocks! Best rock group ever! And I for one think that membership in the KISS Army should be recognized by everyone, including those offering military discounts."
The Doctor stares at her incredulously and queries, "By any chance, did you happen to join the KISS Army before I arrived here?"
Rose digs into her purse and promptly pulls out a key chain displaying the KISS logo. "I've been a member since our original universe, actually. Thankfully, I had this in my pocket when Dad caught me."
Jack grins widely and throws his arm around Rose's shoulder and hugs her to his side. "That's why I love Rose so much!" He then turns to her and proudly informs her, "And for that very reason, you can have an extra piece of cake tonight, on me!" Rose giggles her appreciation before they high five each other and start singing 'Rock And Roll All Nite' to the amusement of the other patrons waiting in line behind them.
The Doctor leans toward Donna and whispers, "These are the people that we've chosen to spend the rest of our lives with." As their soul mates begin the chorus, he adds resignedly, "Oh, well, they say that love is blind."
Donna quips, "Yeah, well I wish it was deaf too." Noticing the owner waving them through the front door, she announces, "Oh, look, here's our host! Everybody belt up!"
Mr. Yu walks over to the group as they reach the front doors and enthusiastically greets, "Welcome to Fok Yu's! We hope that you enjoy your stay!" As they enter, Mr. Yu notes, "Ah, Mr. Harkness, I saw you inspecting out latest décor. Let me show you the latest treasure that has become my pride and joy."
He tugs Jack over to the section of wall alongside Mr. Yu's podium and shows him the new proprietor certificate proudly displayed on the wall. "My son and namesake has finally joined our family business." The foursome stand in awe of the documentation and are very grateful for their combined good manners and Torchwood resistance training as they read that the proprietors of the family restaurant are Fok Yu and Fok Yu II.
As they make their way to their table, Rose gushes, "Jack, thank you so much for the wonderful surprise of treating us to an engagement dinner, it was so sweet of you." She hugs him tightly before the Doctor offers his own manly embrace.
When the Doctor hugs him, Jack jumps back in horror and the Doctor instantly interprets the cause of his distress. "Idiot! It's not what you think, that's a banana in my pocket!"
Jack still looks doubtful as he questions, "Why do you have a banana in your pocket?"
The Doctor's tone is superior as he advises, "Always carry a banana, Jack Harkness, they're an excellent source of potassium."
Donna quietly confides to Rose, "I had the same problem with Jack when I hugged him earlier." When Rose's eyebrows rise in surprise and interest, Donna tells her, "Don't look so excited, I'm pretty sure that it was just his coupon book."
Rose reiterates, "Well, I still think it's nice of Jack to treat us to dinner." She gazes at him adoringly. "It's very sweet of you, Jack."
The Doctor's eyes narrow warily and he verifies, "You are treating us, right, Jack? No big surprises when the check arrives and you announce that we're going dutch? Because I don't have any money on me…"
Jack mutters, "What a surprise," and then more loudly, "No, tonight I'm definitely treating you. It's a celebration, after all, with two of my best friends getting married! This evening is 100% on me!"
While the women comment on Jack's unusual display of generosity, the Doctor leans in close and whispers knowingly, "More two for one coupons, Jack?"
Jack nods excitedly as he shares, "That's right, Doc, a whole book full of them! Mr. Mott got them for me. Do me a favor though and try to make sure that Rose avoids the right side of the menu, that side tends to be a little pricey and I'll do the same with Donna."
The Doctor's smile contains a trace of disdain as he promises, "I'll do my best."
They sit themselves at their table and begin to peruse their menus while the Doctor casually remarks, "I hear the right side of the menu is the tastiest." Ignoring Jack's heated gaze, he adds, "And that was a pleasant drive in that we had, especially since we didn't take Jack's car. Thanks for that, Jack."
Jack makes a face and Rose cuts in, "You know, Jack, I've been meaning to get you a gift to thank you for helping us with moving all of our stuff into the hotel. Is there anything you'd like?"
Donna interrupts Jack's response with her own suggestion. "Well he has a new car that he absolutely loves, so why don't you get him a paraffin lamp?"
Jack grimaces and pleads, "I told you that I was sorry! I was only trying to help!"
Donna snorts, "Well, that's all well and good but just remember our group motto," as she and the Doctor state in unison, "Don't touch my car!" Jack hazards a glance at Rose but she sends him an apologetic look as she nods her agreement with the other two.
The Doctor turns to Jack and gripes, "I still can't believe that you're keeping the Mini as well as the Whistle."
Jack replies, "I thought I'd keep it for when I needed to move larger stuff."
The Doctor laughs derisively, "Like what? A passenger?"
Jack growls angrily, "Oh, here it comes, The Oncoming Scorn!"
The Doctor responds haughtily, "That's The Oncoming Storm! And I'm not scornful, just honest and highly accurate and well…frankly, I'm also magnificent." His eyes seem to glow and his smile goes manic as his candid declaration turns to prose. "I'm like fire and ice and rage. I'm like the night and the storm in the heart of the sun. I'm ancient and forever. I burn at the centre of time and can see the turn of the universe and... I'm wonderful."
The other three stare at him mutely, their individual expressions a mix of amusement, incredulity and flat out disbelief. Rose shakes her head and proclaims, "What you are is full of it."
Donna mumbles, "He's full of something," before changing the subject. She reminds them, "Well, I've been gone for two weeks at the most boring conference in my life." She looks around the table hopefully and prods, "So, tell me all the news, I want to hear everything that I missed while I was away. So, Spaceman, how did the Torchwood seminar go?"
He tugs on his ear as he reluctantly tells his tale. "Well…"
Not having asked for directions before he left the office, the Doctor is running late for the Torchwood Agent seminar for new recruits who are nervous about going into the field for the first time. Thinking that he's found the right room, he bolts inside the auditorium and without further ado, jumps up on stage and introduces himself as Dr. Smith, their guest speaker.
"I know that you're all very nervous about the subject that we're discussing but don't be, it's a perfectly normal and understandable reaction. The fact of the matter is gentlemen, is that you just can't over think this situation when it arises. You're going to have simply steel yourself and dive right in. It's daunting, I know, but there's nothing for it. You are going to need to take control of the situation. Don't let it control you! You set the pace! Remember, don't stop and think about it, just go with what you're feeling! Go in there, fast and hard! It's going to be messy, it's going to be sweaty, but when you climb that final peak and let loose with your cry of victory, that's when you'll see that it will have all been worth it!"
He receives a standing ovation before turning around to see a HUGE banner that states HEADS UP SEMINAR — SOCIETY TO FIGHT IMPOTENCE! He hastily glances back at the crowd still cheering him and smiles half heartedly while muttering, "Oh, bugger." The Doctor stares wonderingly at the sign and ponders, Now how did I manage to miss that?
**END OF FLASHBACK**
Donna can't stop laughing and Rose grins and urges, "Tell her what happened with the Torchwood meeting."
The Doctor amusedly replies, "I used the same speech. Apparently it works quite well for whether you're trying to bring somebody down or keep something up."
Amidst their laughter, Fok Yu and his staff unexpectedly come over to their table praising, "I'm so glad that the birthday girl is having such a great time!"
Donna barely manages to utter, "What?" before they all break into singing 'Happy Birthday' while presenting Donna with a cake.
She tries to protest that it's not her birthday but Jack shushes her with a kiss and grits between clenched teeth, "Now, now, sweetheart, no need to be embarrassed. You still look great for your age."
"Gee, thanks," replies Donna dryly as she doesn't want to create a scene in front of the restaurant staff and their customers who have decided to join in. When they're finished and all of the applause has died down, she hisses in a whisper, "What the bloody hell was all that about?"
Jack responds slyly, "Thanks to," he gestures with air quotes, "'Donna's birthday', we now have a free cake." Donna snorts in disgust and the Doctor rolls his eyes at Jack's extravagant attempts to save money.
Jack defends, "Unlike you two, I happen to appreciate the value of money and besides, I notice that Rose never complains about my frugality."
Donna turns to her and quizzes, "Does she even know what it means?"
Rose gives her a withering gaze and states, "I totally understand, Jack. I may be the Vitex Heiress now, but I remember having to pinch every pence back on the Powell Estates."
The Doctor chastises, "I can't believe the hair-brained schemes that you come up with to save money, which I can't even understand since you've always been very well off due to your father's successful business. It simply boggles my mind how you could have been raised in that type of environment and still be so cheap."
Before taking another mouthful, Jack replies sincerely, "How else do you think that we managed to keep all of that money?"
Donna watches the Doctor refill his plate before he's even started on his first slice of cake. "Hey, Worzel Gummidge, why are you cutting two slices of cake for yourself?"
The Doctor merrily answers, "Isn't it obvious? I'm having my cake and eating it too!" When nobody laughs he grouses, "Nobody appreciates historical humor."
Rose points out, "Actually Doctor, what Marie Antoinette said was 'Let them eat cake."
The Doctor clarifies, "She did?" He thinks about it a bit and soon recalls, "Oh, yeah, she did say that."
Donna asks, "You want historical humor, how's this then? I wish that Atropos were here so that we could cut this conversation short." Rose adds, "Donna doesn't need to be Lachesis to know the true measure of a man," and Jack asks, "So who wants to be Clotho and spin us a tale?"
The Doctor leans back in his chair and applauds, "The three Fates of Greek mythology, very impressive."
Donna smirks, "Well somebody at this table had to be," causing the Doctor to bolt upright in his chair and shout, "Oi!"
Donna cuts herself a slice of cake as she observes, "First dinner and then a night under the stars. This is the most unusual engagement party that I've ever been to. Is this one of your weirdo alien takes for life on the slow path?"
"Actually, I was going to have a stag night with just a few of the guys at Jack's place but it didn't go quite like we planned."
Donna looks around the table in confusion. "Why not? What happened?"
The Doctor stares silently at Jack who just glares at him in return. The Doctor finally breaks his gaze to ask, "Jack didn't tell you? Me, Jack, Pete, Jake and," he displays a little shiver of revulsion at the mere mention of the name, "McDonald, who Jake so considerately thought to bring along were going to stay in for a night of cards. The refreshments were at hand, the cards had been dealt and being the generous sort of man that I am, I allow Jack to go first."
Donna waits a bit before urging, "So? What happened?"
The Doctor replies succinctly. "He went." Jack turns away from the Doctor's condescending glare as he explains, "He turned right to me and asked 'Do you have any fours'?"
Donna nearly chokes on her laughter and sputters, "You were playing Go Fish?"
The Doctor insists, "That's going to play, not playing. There's no way that I was playing Go Fish at my stag night, especially not with those cards."
At this remark, Jack turns back to the table and concurs, "Now on that point, I agree with you."
Donna manages to stifle her laughter enough to ask, "What was wrong with the cards?" She's especially curious as Rose has continued to snicker throughout their entire conversation.
Jack stares shamefacedly down at the table as he admits, "Jake brought them especially for the party. The people on them were naked."
Donna snorts, "Is that all? What's the big deal? Plenty of people have those types of cards of at their stag nights."
Both the Doctor and Jack answer in unison, "Naked men?"
Rose finally speaks up, "Well, it was Jake after all! What else were you expecting?" Knowing that the men weren't willing to concede that point, she offers, "Well at least you got a great gift out of the evening."
Jack blushes hotly and the Doctor spits out, "I thought that we weren't going to talk about that, Rose, ever!"
Rose giggles hysterically, "I'm sorry, Doctor, but that's just too good to let go!"
Donna continues to stare at him and asks, "Okay, so what am I missing?"
Jack fills her in, "Well, you know how my uncle, the Brig, likes a lot of women?"
Donna nods her head and Jack carries on, "He also likes a lot of woman."
Rose snickers while the Doctor glares at her and Donna demands, "And what does that mean when it's at home?"
One last fierce look at Rose and the Doctor enlightens, "Apparently, the Brig has a fondness for ample women."
"You know," David remarks to the group of men gathered around the round dining table in Jack's flat, "I was more than a little surprised to be invited here tonight."
"Oh?" inquires Pete interestedly while happily munching on Jack's famous fish and chips, "Why's that?"
David teases, "I was so sure that Rose would have come to her senses by now."
The Doctor simply darts a look of loathing at David and Jack pipes up, "Oh, I almost forgot!" before reaching over to a side table to grab a small box and hand it to the Doctor. "Here Doc," he hands him the wrapped gift, "this is for you from the Brig."
Always eager to receive a present, the Doctor quickly seizes it and chirps, "How thoughtful! Perhaps I misjudged your uncle."
He rips off the wrapping and opens the box to reveal an embossed card that states 'Congratulations! You are the lucky recipient of an online magazine subscription to Wham! Bam! That's A Lot Of Maam! Please be sure to view in full screen when you log in with the enclosed code. Enjoy!'
Seeing the Doctor's exasperated features, Jake leans over the table and snatches the card from the box and laughs aloud while he shares the information with the others. There's a knock at the door which Jack goes to answer while Jake grins evilly, "That will go perfectly with the dvd that we brought. Show him, David."
David reluctantly pulls out the dvd from a bag under his chair and tosses it on top of the table. "I can't believe that you made me bring this."
Pete glimpses the cover and chortles, "Debbie Does Dallas! I remember this at my bachelor party. It's Jake's preferred offering for occasions like these."
All eyes turn to Jake. "What? I happen to know that it's standard viewing fare at bachelor parties and besides," he chuckles at the mere thought, "men and women together? That just cracks me up!"
Jack returns to the table with Liane Piper in tow, who has brought over a special order of banana cream cake for the Doctor's party. The Doctor jumps up and gushes, "Ooohh! Is that for me?" He grabs the box and swipes some frosting onto his finger, "Mmmmm…delicious! Thanks so much for bringing this by Liane!"
She smiles sweetly and replies, "It was my pleasure Mr. Smith," and then she notices the dvd at the same time as Jack.
Jack inquires, "Debbie Does Dallas? Cool, I love travel documentaries! Oh, and it's marked triple X! That's for extra kisses, how sweet! Let me go put it in the dvd player while you guys cut the cake."
The Doctor lays a hand on Jack's arm to stop him from rushing off and implores, "Jack, don't…just don't."
David's been rendered into a speechless dreamlike state by Liane's sudden appearance until he instantly comes back to reality at Liane's harsh tone. "I'm shocked, Jack Harkness, that you of all people that would have such a film like that in your possession!"
Jack's brow furrows in consternation and before he can respond, the Doctor inserts, "Oh, it's not Jack's film, Liane, McDonald brought it." He turns to David with an evil grin. "Didn't you, McDonald?"
David's eyes widen in panic and Liane grimaces in disgust while he sputters, "Wh-wh-what? No! It's not what you thinking, lass! Jake told me to bring it!"
Liane gives him a disbelieving glare while he vows, "I swear it's not mine! If I even had a movie like that then it would be set in Ireland because…," he trails off at Liane's look of horror while Pete, Jack and Jake all imitate the hand gestures of the three monkeys that see, hear and speak no evil and the Doctor looks on in malicious glee.
Liane's Irish brogue thickens to the point that it's barely decipherable and she huffs, "Please don't say anymore, Mr. McDonald. In fact, the only thing that I want to hear from you is 'goodbye'."
She hurriedly leaves the flat while muttering her farewells to the others. The silence is broken when the Doctor remarks, "Well, that could have went better." He throws his arms out wide and queries excitedly, "So, who's up for some cake?" His answer is in the form of his field of vision becoming filled with a very angry oncoming Scot.
***END OF FLASHBACK***
Jack sympathizes, "Too bad that you ended up wearing more of the cake than eating it."
The Doctor stares off into the distance as he recalls, "Yeah, but what I scraped off my face was still good cake though." Donna is only silent for a moment before she breaks into loud guffaws.
Jack darts a shrew look at the Doctor and inquires, "So, Doc, you never told me, did you try it out?"
He finishes another bite of cake before asking, "Try out what?"
Jack persists, "You know, Uncle Alastair's present. Did you go online and view it?"
The Doctor's expression fills with contempt before he counters, "What do you think?"
Jack replies blithely, "I don't know, that's why I asked."
Donna's laughter finally subsides to soft chuckles as she wipes some stray tears away. "Well, did you?"
The Doctor's cheeks flush crimson and he confesses, "One time! I was curious, okay? It was a gift that was meant to be viewed so I viewed it." At everyone's amused stare, he repeats, "One time!"
Rose snickers, "Yeah, too bad it was the one time that my mum walked in the room," and then adds with a giggle, "with my dad and Jake in tow," before throwing her head back in unrestrained laughter.
The Doctor frostily suggests, "I think that we've all had enough dinner conversation, don't you? This is an engagement dinner after all, aren't we supposed to be eating?"
With an amused shake of her head, Rose brings up the Torchwood fancy dress party that Donna also missed while she was away. Rose states, "Of course, Jack was his usual sweet self and was kind enough to pick out our costumes when we couldn't find the time to get away from work."
Donna chuckles, "Oh, that must have been something to see," when she notes Rose's broad smile and the Doctor's grimace. "Well, cough up then, what did he pick out for you two?"
Rose replies grandly, "I was Princess Leia."
The Doctor adds moodily, still obviously upset, "Yeah and they stared at her buns all night and I don't mean the ones from her hairstyle in the first movie."
Jack insists, "I didn't select the white outfit because that outfit is so boring and Rose is too hot to wear something so drab." When three pairs of eyes turn to stare at him in surprise, he states, "That's what Jake said when he helped me pick out everyone's outfits and besides, I meant it in a totally brotherly way." They continue to stare at him and Jack instantly apologizes. "Yeah, sorry, that sounded way better in my head."
The Doctor immediately demands to know, "Are you telling me that Jake is the reason that I got stuck with that outfit?"
Jack argues, "There was nothing wrong with that outfit! It was completely authentic and just what you wanted! Something with really great hair!"
The Doctor snarls, "I didn't say with really great hair, you idiot! I said to go with my really great hair! I should have been the one to be Han Solo, not Chewbacca!"
"I don't know, Doc," muses Jack. "I think I made a much better Han Solo than you would have." He flashes a cocky grin reminiscent of a former Time Agent in another universe to drive his point home.
Donna hoots, "I can't believe all that I've missed. It's so good to be home."
To Be Concluded…
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