Still grinning, Jack slipped away from the jubilant gathering the control room, navigating the TARDIS's interior with the ease of long familiarity. Even an immortal bladder could only hold out so long, even in the context of celebrating having saved the Universe.
On his way back to the control room, he was surprised when he turned a corner and found the Doctor -- the new Doctor, tie-less and blue-suited -- leaning casually against the wall of the corridor. From the way he looked up and met Jack's eyes, it was clear he'd been waiting. Jack raised a mental eyebrow; this had the look of wanting to get him alone to talk something over, though he couldn't even begin to think of what that might be. He decided to take a cheerful and neutral tone, letting the Doctor take the lead.
"Now that's what I call a team," he said, with a grin, gesturing down the corridor where faint sounds of laughter and chatter carried from around the far bend. "You really know how to pick the best."
The Doctor's expressive eyebrows went up in amused good humor. "Including yourself, of course," he said, with a hint of teasing in his voice.
"Of course. You won't be getting any false modesty out of me," Jack replied easily.
"No, that's true. It's one of your more attractive traits, really," the Doctor said, pushing off from the corridor wall.
Jack's brain stumbled, brought up short by the Doctor's phrasing. Did he just apply the word "attractive" to me? The stumble turned to a flat-out flailing for balance as he took in the Doctor's studiously-casual approach, the faint half smile, and the completely shocking expression in the familiar brown eyes.
"Uhhhhh . . ." Reflex kicked Jack's mouth into gear. Whenever things got strange, talking was the way to go -- at best, it could help buy time, at worst he was just out a little breath. "Nice to hear you say it, finally. I was starting to think you'd never notice."
"Oh, I always noticed," the Doctor said, the half-smile increasing to a smirk that was devastatingly sexy for something so subtle. "I just never let myself comment on it."
When did I start dreaming? Jack thought, frantically. I don't remember falling asleep . . .
"Um, so why mention it now?" The Doctor was getting close enough, Jack's personal space detectors were pinging in his head. This was not standard behavior from his friend. Disconcerted, Jack took a step backwards.
"Let's just say that being part of a human-Time Lord metacrisis, when the other participant is a bolshy ginger with an up-front attitude who happens to think you are exceptionally hot, tends to give one more of a 'carpe diem -- or 'carpe captain,' as the case may be -- perspective."
Jack blinked and took another step backwards as he sought to process the information. Yes, Donna had certainly been up-front in her interest, and Jack would have been happy to respond in kind anywhere but in the TARDIS. The memory of his first night aboard, after Rose had gone to bed, had kept Jack thinking firmly of the Doctor's other Companions as strictly off-limits material. Being backed against a wall while hard blue eyes bored into his and a gruff Northern accent had informed him that he was going to keep his hands to himself, or else get a personalized tour of an airlock, well, that was the sort of thing that stuck with a guy. Nor did Jack doubt that the wild hair and big brown eyes of this current Doctor were strictly a surface veneer. Scratch that surface, and there was no doubt one would find the same terrifying intensity waiting to snap out.
In fact, he was looking at it -- though in an entirely opposite context -- right now.
"Uuuuhh," Jack began intelligently, shifting slightly to one side with his next step backwards, to avoid being trapped against a wall this time (he had learned a few things over the years), "you're saying you're interested in me now because Donna is interested in me, and you picked that up off her?"
"No, I'm saying I was always interested, and enough of Donna's rubbed off on me that I'm finally willing to make a play for you." The Doctor chuckled, a low, sensual sound that ran shivers up Jack's spine even as he moved to keep avoiding the Doctor's slow, purposeful advance. "She says she got the best part of me, but I say it wasn't exactly a one-sided trade, and I'm very happy with what I got in return."
Jack blinked again . . . and then a truly bizarre thought hit him. It must have shown on his face, because the Doctor outright laughed. "No, I didn't get that! I'm still the same as I always was in that department. No, I'm talking about libido, sex drive . . . look, are we going to spend our time walking in little circles in the corridor 'till someone else needs to use the loo, or are you going to make good on all those flirty little comments of yours? Money where your mouth is, pretty boy!"
That last comment definitely had a Donna-ish ring to it. The Doctor was close enough now that Jack could feel the faint glow of radiating body heat -- definitely not a Time Lord feature. How much humanity had the metacrisis imparted?
"I . . . Sorry, Doctor, this is just really weird, and I'm not sure you're yourself. The last thing I want to do is take advantage." Protest aside, he found himself slowing his backwards retreat and holding his ground.
The Doctor kept advancing until just a few inches separated them. He was tall enough to look Jack directly in the eyes, and his expression was serious. "Jack, I'm me. That hasn't changed. Now I just have a few . . . bonus features, as it were."
No mistaking that endless, enveloping gaze, centuries of experience and joy and pain. Jack swallowed. "And the whole airlock-tour thing . . . ?" He was very aware of that thin sliver of empty space between them.
The Doctor wrinkled his nose in irritation and disbelief. "What?!" he exclaimed, voice rising in pitch. "I just said that to keep you in line 'till I figured out if we could trust you. You have to admit, we got off to a rocky start." His expression shifted again, lightning fast, now it was playful, teasing and wistful all at once. "Really, Jack, I never thought I was going to have to work this hard. Is there anything I can say to convince you?" He raised his eyebrows invitingly.
It came completely out of nowhere, prompted by the long-ago memory of a chaste evening spent with the former Doctor and Rose, when it turned out there was something humans could do that Time Lords couldn't. Rose and Jack had laughed themselves silly, the Doctor had grumped back at them with his usual poor grace, and it had stuck in Jack's mind through all the years. It would definitely help answer the question of the Doctor's new percentage of humanity.
"Can you roll your tongue?" he asked.
The Doctor's eyebrows drew together in a frown. He took the non sequitur in perfect stride -- after all, it was how he tended to talk and think himself. "You know, I have no idea, now." His jaw worked thoughtfully for a moment, then he grinned dazzlingly, sticking out a tightly-rolled tongue in proof. A very impressive tongue.
"Oh, wow," Jack said, weakly. "This is all so 'Young Frankenstein' . . . but . . ." It was better than a dream come true -- a willing Doctor who combined all the best features of Time Lords and humanity? What the hell was he waiting for? His voice strengthened. "You're on. C'mon -- we've got at least twenty minutes before that lot gets suspicious, from the sound of things." He tilted his head in the direction on the hubbub still drifting from the Control Room.
The Doctor grinned even more widely and grabbed Jack's hand, dragging him off into the depths of the TARDIS.
Actually, it was about an hour and a half before anyone missed them.