Coming around the cluster of trees, Jack was greeted with the best, the most welcome sight in the Universe: the TARDIS, sitting serene and undisturbed in a shaft of sunlight like some holy vision. Against the dark background of thick conifers, even the timeship's dark blue paint positively glowed.
Just then the Doctor stumbled -- again -- threatening to throw Jack (and thus Rose) off-balance. Jack staggered under his portion of his partners' weight; with concentrated effort he managed to keep them all upright. Rose and the Doctor thought it was great fun, and whooped and giggled like a couple of drunks . . . which, Jack had to admit, they probably were.
He gritted his teeth. Not much further now. Fortunately his partners were pliant, happy to go wherever Jack led; he hoped that state of affairs would continue.
(Forward/walk/home/steady,) he chanted like an internal mantra, channeling it through the emotional portion of the link as tightly as he could. All the same, he still had enough brainpower to spare for some private, internal cursing, like a counter-melody.
A nice walk in the woods, they'd thought, no civilization within scanning range. Quiet. No sign of big predators anywhere. Pretty. Especially the luminous, white, sweet-smelling flowers twining around the charcoal-dark trunks of the trees. Naturally Rose went over for a closer look at one, and naturally the Doctor followed her . . . just in time to get a face-full of alien pollen, ejected suddenly and forcefully. Jack, not far behind, had received a pretty good snootful himself, but for some reason it hadn't hit him the same way it had the others. They'd been almost instantly affected, but even now, a good ten minutes later, Jack had only the hint of a buzz going and was clamping down as hard as he could on the somatic portion of the link to keep it that way.
All those immunizations and retroengineered toxin-clearing pathways the Agency had handed out as part of basic training must still be holding. Speaking of the Agency, there'd even been a whole training course on the dangers of alien pollen. Stupid, stupid, stupid, should've remembered . . . Some pollen effects could be downright entertaining if you went after them voluntarily . . . but even the benign versions were disaster if an agent got hit with them in the middle of a mission.
Let this be one of the benign ones, please . . . Jack thought, taking a break from cursing to send a prayer to whatever Power might still be listening in. All he could think of were the horror stories, the plants that had evolved psychoactive pollen as a means of drugging mobile nitrogen sources -- namely animals, and people -- ensuring they didn't wander too far before the secondary, toxic effects took hold and they stopped where they were, permanently, to provide fertilizer and nutrients for greedy plant roots to sup up.
Even less-dangerous varieties that hijacked animal species' own mating instincts to use them as pollinators, encouraging under-the-influence individuals to undertake every type of tactile contact possible (and then some) to spread the pollen as widely as possible, could be bad news. Situations like that were the subject of a lot of jokes and tall tales, but the unfunny truth was that victims could work themselves into exhaustion, dehydration and even starvation before the effects wore off.
Jack was distracted from his worries by the realization that his companions' clinging and groping was beginning to be less about keeping hold of him and maintaining balance than about . . . Well, maybe they were in a pollination scenario. Better, but still not great. Definitely not time to relax yet.
They reached -- finally -- the familiar doors of the TARDIS; it took some juggling and wiggling (to the utter delight of the others, who happily wiggled back) for Jack to get his key out and the door open, and then to maneuver everyone inside so nobody actually fell through the door. The downside of keeping the link controlled to avoid picking up the others' intoxication was that Jack couldn't tune his body to theirs to improve mutual balance and coordination. He'd just have to keep them moving the old-fashioned way, much as his back and arms were starting to protest.
"Home!" Rose giggled, the first coherent thing either of them had said in a while. She stood up on tiptoe to plant a sloppy kiss on Jack's neck.
The Doctor rumbled in agreement, and slid his hand down the front of Jack's jeans -- the outside, fortunately. Jack gently removed the hand, ignoring his body's natural responses, and began the slow task of herding/pushing/pulling the others up the ramp. They seemed to get the idea and it got easier for a little while, everyone trying to move in the same direction, albeit clumsily, until they stalled out in front of the bedroom door.
It took a lot of work to get Rose and the Doctor past that obstacle.
"Nuh-uh," Jack said, very firmly, attempting that manifestation-trick of the Doctor's, putting the weight of his personality behind every word he was saying, in addition to wordless communication through the link. It probably would have helped if his inner space was as big as the Doctor's, but at this point he was willing to try anything. "Sickbay first. Then playtime. If you're still up for it," he added under his breath. He had no idea what kind of detox the TARDIS would recommend; some of them could be lengthy, or have various side effects. But he wasn't about to relax until he knew exactly what was going on with his partners' body chemistry. It had to be something pretty major to hit a human and a Time Lord so identically . . .
In the end he didn't know if it was the result of his physical or his mental efforts, but he pried the others off of the bedroom doorframe and got them moving down the corridor again. Along the way, he diverted the Doctor's hand once again; it slid round and ended up grabbing Jack's arse. Since that position actually provided leverage, Jack let it ride. In fact, it worked so well, he pulled Rose's hand away from his chest (and nipples), and slapped it up against the other side of his bum. She liked that.
"Now I know you two have corrupted me," Jack said conversationally, not really expecting his words to be absorbed, except possibly by the TARDIS. The ship was was watching the show with curiosity, he could feel, but no alarm, which he took as a reassuring sign. "Who would have thought there'd be a day when I was the responsible one dragging two gorgeous, horny people away from the bedroom for their own good?" He sighed, shook his head and began the long job of disengaging enough from the others to shove them through the sickbay doors and toward a cure.