For the two days following the Doctor's unexpected visit, Jack threw himself into his work, focusing on Torchwood affairs in order to drive all other thoughts from his mind. Okay, that was a blatant lie. But it hadn't been a complete disaster, he assured himself. So the Doctor had snuck off while he slept, without goodbye or explanation. That was very Doctor, wasn't it? It didn't mean Jack would never see her again. He might have to wait a hundred years and a regeneration, but he'd done that before. And surely she'd let him know if anything of, er, reproductive significance had happened that night. Wouldn't she?
Jack was fighting off a series of mental images that featured the Doctor pointing out a sullen teenager in a crowd and saying by the way, that one's yours when an American accent forcibly recalled his attention.
"Hey, World War Two! You avoiding me again?"
Jack suppressed a sigh. Rex Matheson was a peerless agent, and Jack respected him well enough, but his position as CIA liason to Torchwood had gone straight to his head. Worst of all, he technically reported to the CIA, leaving him outside Jack's authority.
"What do you want?"
Rex clapped him on the shoulder, hard enough to be a challenge. "Word among the peons is that you're flaunting regulations again."
Jack was determined that one day, he'd figure out which of his agents was ratting on him. He suspected Stella, but the lingering glances she directed toward Rex over the rim of her coffee cup weren't exactly solid evidence. "Who told you that?" he asked.
"Nice try, Harkness."
"Worth a shot." Jack started walking, heading for his office, where he could shut the door in Rex's face with impunity. "What regulations are we talking about, anyway?"
Rex chuckled. "If you've got a guilty conscience you want to unload, I'm all ears."
"Confessions aren't my style. Why don't you tell me what I'm supposedly guilty of this time?"
"Inter-Agency Cooperative Regulations, Section four-oh-five-point-two. If an organization's headquarters are compromised by extraterrestrial activity, that organization must immediately notify all other parties with which it collaborates. In your case, that means the CIA and UNIT."
"But we haven't been compromised," Jack argued, even as suspicion coalesced in the pit of his stomach.
"My intelligence informs me that at oh-nine-hundred hours two days ago, a blue transportation capsule appeared in the middle of the third floor of this building, occupied by some kind of humanoid alien female. Who appeared to know you by name."
"Transportation capsule?' Really?" Jack laughed. "Don't let her hear you calling it that."
"Then you admit that an extraterrestrial life form bypassed Torchwood security, entered the building, and then escaped without being tracked or apprehended?"
"I'm not admitting anything. Just saying it'd take a lot more than a basic 'transportation capsule' to get into the heart of Torchwood. This is my stop, now, so if you don't mind..." He opened the door to his office, preparing to slip inside and shut Rex out before the latter could respond. Then he stopped cold.
The TARDIS stood tucked into a corner, as out-of-the-way as possible but a towering presence nonetheless. The Doctor lounged comfortably in his chair, feet on his desk, toying with a mechanical pencil. When she saw him, she brought her feet down with a thump and stood, leaning both hands on the desk. "Hello, Jack."
Jack moved to shut the door and found that Rex had wedged his foot into the frame.
"If I go around the corner for backup," said Rex, "will this door be locked when I get back?"
"Yes," Jack replied.
"Looks like I'm stuck here, then."
"Jack," said the Doctor, sounding a trifle annoyed, "I'm talking."
"I know. Look, I'd really love to talk, but can we do it later? Somewhere other than Torchwood?"
"It'll only take a minute. There's something I'm supposed to say. A human thing. You know, part of the whole ritual." The Doctor frowned in concentration. "Oh, yes, that's right. You never called."
"Called?" Jack felt the familiar mental whiplash he often experienced around the Doctor. "You mean on the phone?"
"No, I mean you should've shouted really, incredibly loudly. Yes, on the phone! I have a mobile, you know, and I waited by it and everything. Well. I kept it in my pocket, which is almost the same thing. I thought you'd call. You never did."
"You never called me, either," Jack retorted–cleverly, he thought.
"Yes, well, I don't have your mobile number! And I know for a fact you could get mine from Martha any time you wanted."
"Already have it," Jack admitted. "But you made it pretty clear you didn't want to be bothered. Running away without so much as a goodbye, and all."
"I know." The Doctor's whole demeanor deflated, and she spoke softly, not quite meeting Jack's eyes. "I thought you wouldn't be able to help yourself."
Jack winced inwardly. The Doctor had his measure, or very nearly, which was something he'd always worked hard to avoid. Apparently without success. "It's only been two days," he offered. "That's not so long." No need to tell her how quickly he would have called if he'd thought he stood the slightest chance of getting an answer.
"Oh. It's been longer for me." The Doctor glanced downward.
"Harkness," Rex put in from behind him, "please tell me you didn't knock up this alien chick."
The Doctor's head came up, causing Jack to wonder if she'd just noticed Rex for the first time. She sidestepped around the desk and stalked forward, eyes narrowed. "No," she said coldly, "he didn't. And if he did, it would be none of your business." She spun on her heel and snapped her fingers. The TARDIS doors opened.
"Jack," the Doctor called over her shoulder, "I'll meet you tonight, six o'clock, outside your flat."
"You have a conference call with Washington at seven," Rex reminded him. "You missed the last one. You promised you wouldn't miss this one."
"Can't make it." Jack grinned like an idiot, not caring if Rex noticed. "I've got a date."
"And on top of that, you're clearly violating regulations. I expect a full report sent to the appropriate authorities, containing everything you know about this alien and her activities on Torchwood property–"
The harsh wheeze of the TARDIS engines cut him off. Seconds later, Rex stared dumbly at the empty space the TARDIS had previously occupied.
Jack smiled pleasantly. "What alien activity would that be, exactly?"