Author's Notes:
This marks the beginning of a section with just Jack and the Doctor. In my opinion, one of the biggest flaws of the current series (and of some earlier one, Five's Team TARDIS for example) is that there are too many companions and not quite enough plot to hand out. At the moment, Jack is the one with the most plot relevant knowledge, he needs time to naturally be able to impart that. Don't worry, Yaz and Co. will be back.

Summary: The fam and Jack arrive in Cardiff.

They rematerialise in Cardiff, in their usual parking spot. It’s cold.

“Cardiff?” Yaz asks in surprise as they step out the door and look around. “What’s in Cardiff?”

“Absolutely nothing of interest,” the Doctor scowls at the TARDIS.

The fam swap looks and elect not to ask.

The Doctor sighs, she knows she’s being a misery guts. “There used to be a cafe along there a bit,” she points. “Did good chips.”

“Shut down,” Jack interjects. “There’s a pizza place though.”

“Pizza sounds good,” Graham agrees brightly and Ryan rolls his eyes.

Jack backs up until his heels touch the door. “I’m not that hungry, I’ll just stay here.”

The Doctor looks at him, really looks at him. Jack had always been vain, and she’s sure that the ruin left of his face by whatever has been done to his eyes must upset him and he may still know people around here, people who might want to know what had happened, but this is more than that. He’s tired and drawn. He’s been through a lot and for who knows how long. Even consummate extrovert Jack Harkness has reached his capacity for dealing with lots of people.

“I’m not that hungry either,” she agrees, “just bring us back some, yeah?” She fishes in her pocket until she pulls out a debit card and hands it to Yaz. “Don’t go spending it all on sweets, but you can top up the kitchen, and Ryan needs new trainers. His got slimed by that bug thing on Monday.”

“You sure? We can go somewhere quieter?”

“I’m sure,” and if the Doctor had wanted to push that would have stopped her. It’s the first time Jack has sounded sure, telling instead of asking.

“I’ve got some repairs to make anyway,” it’s not a lie, she hasn’t replaced the transistors she blew out yet, “and Jack’s an excellent TARDIS mechanic.”

“You never let us help,” Ryan mutters. “I’m doing an NVQ.”

“Yes,” the Doctor says patiently, “and I will let you help when I have time to teach you. But Jack’s from the fifty-first century, he already knows how spaceships work. The TARDIS just isn’t like a beat up volvo.”

Ryan scuffs the ground with his shoe.

“C’mon,” Graham breaks the tension. “Let’s get you some shoes and me some pizza. See you later, Doc.”

“Yeah. I’ll be done around 6,” the Doctor answers. “Stay in touch,” she waves her phone.

“Don’t blow up anything we need,” Yaz calls cheerily over her shoulder.

“Rude.” The Doctor mutters. “I’ve never blown up anything we need. Some things we want, occasionally.” She stands and watches them leave, pushing each other and laughing. And ok, Cardiff has a reputation, but that’s because Torchwood kept attracting stuff or experimenting on things they had no business touching. The TARDIS knows they’re here for rest, she won’t have picked a day with a massive problem, they’ll be fine. They’re grown adults who are capable of doing some shopping alone.

“You could go with them,” Jack offers.

“And leave you and the TARDIS alone. I’d come back and you’d have run off together.”

Jack looks stricken. “I’d never. Please-” he tries to back up, but the door is still in his way. “I don’t even have a key any more. Not since-”

“Jack. Jack, I know, it was a joke. I was going to take us to the Eye of Orion, but the TARDIS brought us here because she’s sweet on you, that’s all.”

His breathing is still panicked and rapid and the Doctor has no idea how to fix this. Rescuing people from captivity in slave mines? She considers herself pretty good. But dealing with the trauma afterwards? Martha had stayed on Earth because she’d recognised her family needed someone to talk to; the Doctor never stays. Free the slaves, load them onto medical ships and onto the next adventure, that’s how it goes. This is new.

“I wouldn’t,” he promises again, panic still edging his words.

She probably shouldn’t ask, but she can’t help it. “Did you try? With her TARDIS?”

A long silence. “Just once.”

She doesn’t dare ask what happened to him afterwards. “We don’t have to go in,” she offers instead. “We can go...somewhere. Is there anywhere you’d want to visit?”

He shakes his head. “The Hub’s gone. And so are all my friends. Even Gwen doesn’t live here anymore.”

“We can just sit?”

He pushes away from the TARDIS and, angling himself by sound, reaches out and touches the water feature, the silver drops flow over his hand. He freezes like that for a moment, like he’s communing with it, then brings his wet hand up and touches the water to his eyes, like a pilgrim hoping for a miracle. Of course, nothing happens. “I’d rather fix the transistors. Do something useful.”