Jack leaned over the railing and watched the Doctor — well, what he could see of the Doctor - sticking out from beneath the console. “So tell me again what happened?”
The Doctor’s voice was muffled when he replied, “I’ve already told you. I landed in Cardiff to refuel and then…”
“Half the console blew up,” Jack finished, barely concealing his laughter.
“I prefer to say I’ve encountered a ‘minor malfunction.’”
“You were picking up levers and coils halfway across the room when I got here,” Jack pointed out, and because he was so helpful, he added, “not that I could see that well through all the smoke.”
“As I said, minor malfunction.”
Jack made a thoughtful noise. “Sure looked like an explosion to me.”
“Just about — there! I think that does —“ A shower of sparks cascaded down and the Doctor yelped before the sound of a pounding hammer drowned out his curses.
Jack cleared his throat. “You were saying?” He could see the Doctor’s toes curl underneath the fabric of his trainers. No doubt he was counting to ten in several different languages.
“Are you going to make yourself useful or just stand there like a stupid ape?” the Doctor snapped.
Jack considered this, tapping the railing thoughtfully. “You know, the view isn’t bad from here.”
“I could use a break actually,” the Doctor said, sliding out from underneath the control panel. “Why don’t we take a tour of Torchwood instead? I’m sure there are a few things I’d be really interested in seeing.”
Threat sent and duly received. Jack leapt off the stairs and onto the metal grating. “What can I do?”
“So nice of you to offer, Jack,” the Doctor said, the corners of his eyes creasing as he grinned.
“You know me,” Jack said, running his hand along one of the panels. “I’m a giver.”
“How about a little more fixing and a little less giving?” the Doctor said disapprovingly, eyeing Jack’s hand that was resting a little too comfortably on his TARDIS.
“Jealous?” Jack teased, dropping to his knees and sliding into the crawl space beneath the controls.
“Does everything have to be a contest with you?” the Doctor asked, his voice clearly conveying he was far too old and too brilliant to play the silly human game of who’s better than who. “Anyway, we all know who she likes best.”
“Do we now?” Jack said, squeezing against the wiring to make room for the Doctor. “I wasn’t the one that nearly got burned alive a few minutes ago.”
“Can’t you move over?” the Doctor asked, accidentally elbowing Jack in the stomach as he inched past.
“This is far as I can get, and would you watch your damn elbow?” He rubbed his stomach ruefully. “Were you always this skinny? Eat a cheeseburger or something. Your elbow is like a metal rod.”
The Doctor managed to roll over and Jack narrowly avoided getting the same elbow to his nose. “So much for ‘bigger on the inside,’” the Doctor muttered.
“I wouldn’t worry about it,” Jack said, his voice dropping an octave. “I’m used to working in tight spaces.”
The Doctor groaned and pressed his fingers against his eyelids. “I’m going to pretend you didn’t say that.”
“Loosen up, Doc’,” Jack said. “I’d say I was joking, but we both know I wasn’t.”
“Have you ever heard the phrase quit while you’re behind?” When Jack opened his mouth to respond, the Doctor was quick to say, “And if you make some sort of sex joke out of that, I’m going to hit you with this hammer.” As if to prove he’d do it, he waved the hammer in front of Jack and ended up hitting one of the wire coils in the process, sending another shower of sparks flying. The onslaught left the Doctor with singed hair and Jack conveniently unaffected. “I think she’s mad at me,” the Doctor said, sighing.
“Well, you did just hit her with a hammer,” Jack, ever helpful, pointed out.
“Of all the places, she had to break down in Cardiff,” the Doctor said glumly. “Honestly, an imploding nebula, a black hole, a forming sun, a —“
“I didn’t realize my company was such a hardship,” Jack interjected, sounding despondent.
“It’s you, Jack. Of course you’re a hardship.”
Jack blinked several times. “Did you just make a joke?”
The Doctor grinned. “It was funny too! Why aren’t you laughing?”
Jack started laughing then and took some of the broken wiring to work on making new connectors. They worked in silence for awhile, their shoulders and arms brushing against each other.
“I am funny, you know,” the Doctor said as he wiped a coil on Jack’s shirt while he was looking the other way. Jack made a noncommittal noise and kept reconnecting wires. “A lot of people think I’m hilarious,” the Doctor continued.
“You’re many wonderful things, but funny? Not so much. Now if we’re going to talk about how sexy you are…”
The Doctor’s voice was muffled by the sonic screwdriver that was now wedged between his teeth. “Tha’s na ‘en a compa’ment com’ um you.”
Jack turned his head to the side. Seeing the Doctor’s open mouth, his brown eyes reflecting the green hues of his ship further proved Jack’s previous statement. “What?”
The Doctor rolled his eyes. “Tha’s na ‘en a compa’ment com’ um you.”
Jack took the screwdriver from the Doctor’s mouth, forcing himself to ignore the damp handle and repeating over and over in his mind that shouldn’t be a turn on for a normal person. “Now — what?”
“I said that’s not even a compliment coming from you.”
Jack held the screwdriver away when the Doctor tried to reach for it. “What do you mean by that?”
“Jack, give me —“
“Answer the question.”
Rolling his eyes again, the Doctor said, “You saying I’m sexy is like saying the Earth is round or you work for Torchwood.”
If there had been enough room, Jack would have crossed his arms over his chest. “My, don’t we have a high opinion of ourselves.”
The Doctor, however, did manage to cross his arms and Jack was on the receiving end of a rather pointed elbow against his sternum. “I meant to say because you say that to everyone. You’d flirt with a houseplant if you thought it’d give you the time of day.”
“Now that’s not true!”
The Doctor uncrossed his arms and snatched his screwdriver back. “It is true. I saw you. Lobnardet, remember?”
Jack did remember, actually, but in his defense, it was a very nice houseplant. He didn’t think Rose was ever going to let him live that down. “Well, yeah, but you have to know you’re different.”
“Do you tell that to everyone you chat up?” the Doctor asked, using the sonic screwdriver to reattach a wiring panel.
Jack continued to stare wide-eyed at the Doctor. “I know you’re thick, but you can’t be that blind.”
“It doesn’t matter.”
Jack suddenly felt like he'd taken a wrong turn somewhere in the conversation. It was a typical feeling when he was talking to the Doctor.
The Doctor continued staring intently at the panel overhead. Suddenly his eyebrows lifted. “Do you smell — ouch!” He jerked his hand away, the screwdriver falling and rolling away.
“Are you okay?” Jack asked, reaching for the Doctor’s hand only to have him jerk away.
Jack rolled his eyes. “Stop being such an ass. Let me see.” Despite his harsh tone, he was remarkably gentle when he pried the Doctor’s hand away and uncurled his fingers. “It’s not too bad. You might blister, though.”
“Thank you so much for the medical evaluation,” the Doctor muttered. “I feel so much better now that you’ve had a chance to —“ His mouth snapped closed when Jack stuck his two burned fingers in his mouth, his tongue surprisingly cool as he soothed the abused skin.
When Jack released his wrist, the Doctor pulled his hand back slowly. “Better?” Jack asked, his tone low, questioning.
The Doctor managed to nod, wiggling his fingers in front of his face. “Actually, yes. Um…thank you?”
Jack rotated his shoulders off the grating in what was supposed to be a shrug. “Don’t mention it.”
They managed to reattach all of the wiring when the Doctor spoke again. “So did you mean it?”
Jack turned his head, his nose nearly brushing against the Doctor’s hair. “Mean what?”
“When you said —" the Doctor coughed and he tried for a casual wave — “I was different.”
“Of course I meant it,” Jack replied, eying the Doctor curiously. Being this close, he could hear the Time Lord breathe, and he knew when that breathing stopped. “And not because you’re a Time Lord either so don’t think that. You’re — hell, I don’t know. You’re —" He tried and failed to list all that the Doctor was to him. He couldn’t put it into words if he tried, and he was trying. Very hard.
“Why does it matter, anyway? It’s not like you care what anyone thinks.”
“You’re not anyone, Jack.” The Doctor slowly rolled his head to the side, his gaze locking with Jack’s.
Jack opened his mouth to ease his breathing, pulling on the suddenly constricting collar of his white tee-shirt. “Is it just me or is it —“ His eyes widened and he grabbed the Doctor, yanking him against his body as sparks rained down around them. One hand rested against the back of the Doctor’s head and the other was wrapped around his waist. Brown eyes reflected gold and shined with passion, and he could feel the Doctor’s grin when they kissed.
Sparks continued to fall around them, neither caring as they finally allowed themselves what they’ve been dancing around for over a century.
Jack finally pulled away when the danger of passing out from lack of oxygen became a very real possibility. He didn’t move his hands, though, and he massaged the back of the Doctor’s neck, feeling the Time Lord’s racing pulse underneath his thumb.
“So maybe Cardiff wasn’t such a bad place to break down after all,” Jack suggested, closing his eyes when the Doctor’s lips ghosted over his eyelids.
The Doctor reached out to pat the grating which was cool to the touch despite the sparks that were falling on it moments before. “Well, she can be rather clever when she wants to be.”
Jack threaded his fingers through the Doctor’s. “So she won’t mind when we take a break and move to a more comfortable location?”
The area they had been working in seemed to widen when they slid out from underneath the console. Jack was going to mention it, but then the Doctor was kissing him again, and, well, nothing else mattered at that point.
The TARDIS dimmed the lights when Jack pulled the Doctor in the first bedroom he found. She hummed, pleased, and set about solving her other problem - doing the repairs properly because, really, if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.