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sam_storyteller ([personal profile] sam_storyteller) wrote2005-07-17 10:15 am

The Rules Of Torchwood Three: Nicholas Redux 4 of 4

Title: The Rules Of Torchwood Three: Nicholas Redux 4 of 4
Rating: PG-13 for shenanigans and greenhouses.
Characters: Jack, Team, OMC. Canon pairings.
Summary: After Jack disappears, Torchwood hires a new tea boy -- someone to fetch and carry and take some of the burden off Ianto's shoulders. Nicholas knows his place is in the shadows, but he watches and listens as the dramas of Torchwood play out around him. And he learns all the rules.
Notes: Spoilers through 2.13. This chapter is entirely AU and will be sidelined in favour of canon when canon returns next season. Credit for the Whenkipedia goes to [ profile] fyrdrakken, who suggested the idea in the comments to the original Rules Of Torchwood Three.

First Posted 4.6.08


Scalpels are not steak knives. Scalpels are not letter openers.

"It's not that we need a medic," Nicholas tells her on the telephone. "If we just needed a medic we could find someone else. We need you, Martha. Jack needs you."

"I can't just pick up my life and move to Cardiff," Martha replies, but she sounds uncertain. "I have a boyfriend and a reasonably sane, relatively safe job."

"Yeah, I know. But Jack needs you."

Nicholas isn't ashamed he used that ploy; it worked, which is what matters, and a week later Martha shows up and startles the hell out of Jack, striding through the door like she owns the place and informing him, rather than asking him, about her transfer from UNIT to Torchwood. She invades Owen's -- invades the medical bay, rearranging it to her own liking, learning the computer systems and easily memorising the various codes and passwords.

Jack is skittish and uncertain, watching her, but she deflates every self-important objection he raises and scorns every attempt at suggesting that perhaps she shouldn't give up the life she had for Torchwood. Martha, Nicholas realises quickly, is no stranger to sacrifice, not the pain nor the pleasure. And she kicks Jack around and has gentleness for his grief but no sympathy for his self-indulgence. Just what he needs to come out of the dark places he hides in.

Tom comes with her, and he and Rhys form a sort of Torchwood Widows club, which would be funnier if a quarter of Torchwood hadn't just died.


"Alien Tech Made Me Do It" is a one-time-only excuse.
The emergency telephone line is for emergencies only. Emergencies include severe bodily harm, threats to the safety of the planet, family illnesses, and untoward events. Any telephone call that begins "I was just wondering" is automatically classified as a non-emergency.

And in the midst of Martha's invasive chaos and Jack's terrible coping mechanisms and Ianto's attempts to be everything they've lost and Nicholas's attempts to just keep everyone sane and fed, of course, in the middle of all this is when Gwen decides to be pregnant.

Well, okay, that's not entirely fair.

"I didn't decide it," she protests, as they huddle over their drinks in the cafe and Ianto gently thuds his head down on the table. "It's one of those things."

"One of those things?" Martha echoes faintly.

"Rhys swears he didn't know the condom -- "

"O-KAY," Nicholas says loudly, half because he doesn't need to hear about Gwen's sex life and half because really, he doesn't believe it for a second. Rhys is smart and kind of shifty in a very obvious way, but fortunately for their marriage Gwen doesn't always grasp obviousness.

"And I would think at least a cursory attempt at congratulations are in order," Gwen adds, looking injured.

"Congratulations," Ianto says, forehead still resting on the table.

"It is brilliant," Nicholas concedes. "I mean, new life into the world and all that."

"Please don't make me be your obstetrician," Martha says.

"Have you told Jack?" Ianto asks, lifting his head. Gwen gives him an uncomfortable look. Ianto nods and places his head on the table once more.

"I thought I'd sort of...find out about procedure first," she says. "We have procedure for alien shapeshifter egg babies, we must have a procedure for old-fashioned human ones."

As it turns out, Gwen doesn't have to tell Jack. Two days later, while she's still trying to decide how, he smells the hormone change on her.

"You're benched," he says, and then he gives her a huge hug and the biggest smile Nicholas has seen since he joined up. "Go make us some coffee."

Gwen gives a little giggle until she realises he's serious, and Nicholas is amused by her face until he realises what that means for him.

"Oh, no no no no no," he says, as Jack advances on him. "You might be able to pull that on Ianto but not on me."

"All hands on deck," Jack replies, giving him an almost casual shove that knocks him flat on the ratty sofa. He picks up a newspaper, rolls it, and taps him on the shoulders. "By the power vested in me by Torchwood and my own incredible charisma, and out of sheer desperation, I hereby declare you a Torchwood field agent."

"I never got a ceremony," Ianto complains.


Until we have learned the alphabet, we are not allowed in the archives.

"So, that could have gone worse," Ianto says.

"Ianto," Nicholas replies, and Ianto looks at him. He's covered in gore (not his, so that's more or less okay) and his hair, which he was saying needed a trim, is singed on the ends. "How could this have gone worse?"

"The first time they took me out in the field, I almost got eaten by cannibals," Ianto replies, and his eyes cloud over. "That was not very fun."

"Oh," Nicholas says.

He keeps a little score in a corner of the whiteboard:


It makes him feel better.


Ex-time-traveling ex-partners are not allowed to touch the guns. They have their own guns, and too many of those to start with.

"Well," Ianto says, "this is the worst idea in an illustrious history of Torchwood's bad ideas."

"I don't know," Martha answers. "He's kind of cute."

"You're not allowed to shoot him," Nicholas reminds Ianto, who is quietly seething, as Ianto does. It's almost totally indistinguishable from many of Ianto's other emotions, including quietly being happy, quietly being unhappy, quietly eyefucking Jack when he thinks they aren't looking, quietly preparing coffee, and quietly bleeding out. Ianto is not exactly an open book a lot of the time.

"I said we needed a computer tech who could work flexibly and follow Tosh's notes, and it should be someone we trust," Ianto says.

"Two of three," Martha shrugs.

"He paralyzed me and threw Jack off a roof," Gwen points out.

"And he molested me with a handgun," Ianto adds.

"He shot me," Nicholas reminds them.

"Jack says he'll behave," Martha replies uncertainly.

Nicholas doesn't like John Hart any more than Ianto does, but he has to admit that Jack has a point. Nobody in existence in the early twenty-first century is going to be as skilled with Torchwood's organic, hasn't-actually-been-invented-yet computer mainframe. Hart, on the other hand, actually used the Rift Manipulator to Manipulate the Rift, which nobody else has managed to do without disrupting causality.

Nicholas's last job before Torchwood was butler and general house-manager for a wealthy young man who liked to sleep around on his wife. Nicholas sort of misses the days when the most uncertain part of his life was whether or not there'd be a strange woman in his employer's bed when he brought in breakfast in the mornings.

Up above them, Jack and Hart are standing on the mid-level walkway, talking quietly. Jack looks like he's laying down the law and Hart doesn't look very happy about it, but Hart is trapped here now and unlike Jack, Hart is not eternal.

And this is how they rebuild their team: Jack Harkness, immortal ex-time-traveler, John Hart, immoral ex-time-traveler, Dr. Martha Jones, former companion of the Doctor, Ianto Jones, survivor of the slaughter at Torchwood One, Gwen Cooper-Williams, trained police officer...and Nicholas.

Former butler.

"Well, this is...primitive," Hart says, returning to floor-level and examining what they've managed to salvage from Tosh's workstation. He sighs. "All right. To work. You, blondie, with me -- "

He's stepping forward to gesture Nicholas over to help him, but Ianto puts a hand on Hart's shoulder and shoves him back. Hart looks equal parts annoyed (as if a toddler kicked him in the shin) and startled.

"His name is Nicholas," Ianto says, hand on his sidearm, and Gwen stops Jack from interfering. "And my name is Ianto. Not Eyecandy, not Office Boy. If these facts are too overwhelming for you, I'd be happy to beat them into you."

There is a long moment where they look at each other but Ianto has spent too much time around Gwen and Jack, champions of the meaningful stare, to back down.

"Ah," Hart says. "I remember. Your pet." He gives Nicholas a look that goes from shoes to hairline. "Nick?"

"No," Nicholas says.


"Hell no."

"Right. Nicholas with me. The rest of you, leave us alone for four days."

Hart is actually really good at this stuff, and when he gets interested in something it's an obsessive, world-eclipsing interest. Nicholas learns a lot just watching him and Hart hardly speaks to anyone else until the computers are back at about 120% capacity of what they were before.

This might work. Jack is probably out of his mind, and Hart is definitely out of his, but if they can keep him occupied and housetrain him not to automatically try to fuck or kill everyone he meets, it might work.


Martha's scalpels are also not sex toys. Get your own.

Ianto begins keeping a running list of Things John Hart Is Not Allowed To Do in the spot on the whiteboard where Nicholas used to keep tally of times he didn't die.

1. Kill anyone not directly threatening someone.
2. Kill anyone because it's easier than incapacitating them.
3. Talk to Ianto unless absolutely necessary.
4. Leer at Martha.
5. Leer at Nicholas.
6. Leer at small animals or plants or pieces of machinery or any items of food or furniture.
7. Ever go to a rugby match again.
8. Attempt to instigate orgies.
9. Write software superviruses "just in case".
10. Blow up anything that does not absolutely require being blown up.
11. Molest strangers without their direct invitation.
12. Consume illegal drugs in public.
13. Sing anything about Sausages, Hedgehogs, Sailors, Sport, or the concept of Sexy being Brought Back.
14. Steal Martha's medical supplies for any imaginable purpose.
15. Or any unimaginable one.

But aside from all that Hart's pretty well-behaved, and Nicholas doesn't have to do field missions anymore, which is a huge relief. Jack keeps Hart on a short leash, and Nicholas notices that Hart is oddly apologetic around Gwen; he and Ianto are constantly at each others' throats but Nicholas thinks Hart is intimidated by Ianto, and mostly baits him to watch a pretty boy in a suit suddenly flare up into something precise and dangerous (and, it has to be said, kind of hot). Martha just laughs at Hart, but rarely with him.

Nicholas, protected at first by Ianto's possessiveness, interacts with Hart mainly to bring him food, to assist him with the computers, and to distract him when possible with puzzles or tasks. When Hart is distracted, he's actually kind of a decent bloke. Hart's learning.

Nicholas realises one day that Hart kind of likes him. And he might even like Hart, just a little.


Inappropriate touching is to be kept strictly to after-work hours. This means you too, Jack.

It's a bad'un, Nicholas can tell when the team returns. He pours whiskey for Ianto and Martha and Hart, coffee for Jack, tea for Gwen, but Jack asks him not to hand them the cups. He lowers the tray and lets each person take theirs, instead.

It was supposed to be a recovery job, so Gwen went out with the team because she was getting fretty at being cooped in the Hub, especially since her hormones are beginning to act up. This might have been a mistake, and looking at Jack Nicholas thinks Gwen's never going to get out of the Hub again until the kid is toilet-trained.

Aside from the bloodshed (and there's always bloodshed), they've all caught a dose of a telepathic link-wave of some kind, the aftereffects of which are still creeping around in their heads, making them unable to touch each other but fully able to complete each others' sentences without thinking.

Jack has managed to shield himself, which is good because nobody should have to live through what Jack's lived through even vicariously. The rest of the team isn't so lucky. Gwen and Hart both got a thorough dose of the roiling fury and grief that Ianto keeps locked down in the sub-basements of his mind, and Ianto took a blast of Martha's intense former traumas full-on, and Martha got both Hart and Gwen until her teeth rattled from the contrast. They're all quiet and they look sidelong at each other and try not to talk too much.

Except for Hart, who sits by himself at the far end of the table, head in his hands, and whimpers occasionally.

The others look at him and Jack tries once to touch him but Hart pulls away and continues to sit there until they leave him alone, going back to their desks to write their reports. Nicholas brings him a second glass of whiskey, but he ends up putting it on the table next to the first untouched glass.

John Hart killed Jack once, and shot Owen, and has inappropriate thoughts about poodles, and was instrumental in the disaster that burned Cardiff and got Tosh and Owen killed. Clearly he's never much stopped to feel any emotion over the many and varied cruelties he's committed before. While Nicholas feels it's only just punishment, he also feels compassion for Hart.

So he kneels in front of Hart and reaches out, and Hart jerks away, but Nicholas reaches out again and touches his hands to Hart's throat, thumbs cupping his jaw. Maybe it won't work, maybe it will.

The link-wave's aftereffects are still strong enough that Nicholas can feel it, though it's a one-way street and he gets nothing at all from Hart. But he digs into his own mind for his most boring memories, the enormous store of everyday experiences that Hart never actually has had.

His face, creased with misery and pain, slowly smooths. Ordinary, Nicholas thinks, ordinary and harmless. This is my life on Earth; all my time linear, all my experiences confined to this place. This is my sense of wonder at things you wouldn't look twice at. These are my triumphs -- getting this job, getting into university, winning fifty pounds on a football match, losing my virginity. These are my tragedies, being dumped by my girlfriend and getting a low mark on an exam and missing a bus. Aren't they boring. Aren't they silly, compared to what you've seen. Aren't they real.

There's a little echo of the others in there; bigger tragedies, Owen and Tosh's deaths, and some stranger experiences too, getting bitten by an alien and even, yes, shot by John Hart, and meeting Jack for the first time.

With that memory, Hart's eyes clear and he exhales, lifting one of Nicholas's hands to brush his mouth over the knuckles, then turning it over to kiss his palm in gratitude.

"I didn't know," he says softly. "I didn't understand -- I've done things -- "

"You didn't look," Nicholas corrects, pulling back and standing. "Bet by this time next week you won't even remember. That's fine. You'll just be Hart again."

Hart looks at him as if he's about four years old. "I'll remember."

After that Jack lengthens Hart's leash a little, and in return Hart stops hacking into the CIA for kicks and harassing people on the street (unless they're really really gorgeous). Nicholas isn't certain, but he doesn't think it's his memories, which really were just the mental equivalent of a hug. He thinks Hart took the brunt of Ianto's experiences, and to see what Ianto has seen changes you.

It seems as though John Hart has changed for the better.

"So," he says to Nicholas one day, "Eyecandy's actually shagging Jack, huh? Don't suppose you'd help me install some surveillance cameras. I want to know if Jack's picked up any new tricks. Reckon Ianto's kinked, or do you think he's the virginal type? I vote kinky."

Then again, some things never change.


We will not taunt the police. It isn't nice to Gwen.

In Gwen's last trimester, her doctor declares she needs rest, preferably bed-rest, because of hypertension or something (Nicholas has long since learned to tune-out Gwen's pregnancy babble). They throw her a party in the Hub and invite Rhys and have Gwen's favourite Thai food, and Nicholas promises to bring her reports from the Hub twice a week and to drag Jack along at least half the time.

He feels more sorry for Rhys than Gwen; Gwen'll get over it, and she knew she'd have to take some leave when the baby was born, but Rhys is going to have to put up with a restless, annoyed copper for two months even before the wailing bundle of joy arrives. Nicholas buys him some chocolate cigars and a huge book of Sudoku puzzles. Hart buys him a set of vibrating cock rings. Everyone agrees that, inappropriateness aside, the look of terrified incomprehension on Rhys's face is pretty priceless.

"I don't know how you eat that crap," Hart says, gesturing at their food as he gives the fruit equivalent of oral sex to an apple. He refuses to eat any of the takeaway Nicholas buys, and in one of his more expansive moments Jack has told Gwen (which means he's told the whole Hub) that Hart was raised on a planet where processed food was not only nonexistent but forbidden. Hart cooks for himself or eats fruit, mainly, which is this weird monkish thing that Nicholas can't get past but Martha likes, because she eats mostly fresh food too.

"You keep eating that processed bollocks, you'll die young," Hart continues.

"We'll die young anyway," Ianto says, and the horrified look on his face means that he's had a brief moment of disconnect between brain and mouth. Jack's look of miserable resignation hurts.

"A-ny-way, hi there faux pas, I have an idea," Hart says, lifting his feet from the conference-room table and leaning forward. Juice runs down his thumb and he licks it up before continuing. "The puppy doesn't want to go back to being a big dog, and while I know I'm worth two of any of you, we can't shrink the regiment again. Gwen's got a good-looking pal, let's hire him."

"PC Andy?" Ianto snorts.

"He did all right when someone blew up Cardiff," Gwen says.

"Under duress!" Hart protests.

"Have I met Andy?" Martha asks.

"Curly-haired, wide-eyed, sort of sarcastic?" Hart says. "He called us about that short-term time-loop generator that kid was using to steal televisions with. God, you people are boring. Televisions, honestly."

"Oh right! He is cute," Martha says.

"Being a good cop doesn't mean he'd be good for Torchwood," Jack says. "There's nothing wrong with that, but I don't think he's really..." he waves a hand.

"Why not? He knows enough to call us when something spooky's happening, and he's kept his mouth shut about it," Ianto says.

"Pretty mouth," Hart adds.

"You're not allowed to hire Torchwood employees because you want to sleep with them," Jack replies, and Ianto makes a significant throat-clearing noise. Jack doesn't look at him. "You can sleep with him on your own time."

"Nobody's sleeping with Andy," Gwen says, with a sort of horrified defiance.

"Really, though, it wouldn't be such a bad idea," Nicholas ventures. "I talk with him all the time, he's not stupid."

Every head in the room swivels. Jack lifts an eyebrow.

"Well, who do you think gets everyone in line at the station when you lot make a mess out there?" Nicholas mutters. "Andy's good with people, and he copes well in emergencies. He's a bit clueless sometimes but that's hardly his fault, is it? It's not like we give him much to go on. I'm not saying he's as good as Gwen or anything but it would be handy to tap him for a few months, train him, send him back to the police when Gwen's ready to come back, and keep him in reserve for emergencies."

"Do you want to sleep with him?" Martha asks.

"I wouldn't say no if he asked nicely," Nicholas replies. "But I'm pretty sure he's straight, so no joy there."

"It's so quaint, the way they say that, the Straight bit," Hart says to Jack.

Jack's fingers drum on the table, thoughtfully, and they can all see him turning over the possible outcomes in his head.

"We'll give him a week," he says. "End of the week, if I don't think he's up to it, it's retcon and back to the station with him."

"Is this how all your decisions get made?" Rhys asks Gwen. "By force of personality?"

"More or less," Jack replies, sighing.

Hart winks at Nicholas, which is really disconcerting.

"Oh my god," Martha says suddenly. "I'm going to drown in testosterone."


We don't try on any alien jewelery unless Jack says it's okay.
Jack's handwriting: And as long as it doesn't look better on me.

Torchwood has changed so much since Nicholas joined. He wonders what Tosh or Owen would think of it now.

Hart is fiddling away at Tosh's -- at the central computer workstation, possibly plotting world domination or possibly just playing Portal, it's an even toss with Hart. He's given up the red jacket for a short leather aviator's coat with a fleece lining, which makes him and Jack look like some kind of historical re-enactment club when they're together. His sword hangs next to the monitor bank, and there's a set of throwing knives on the table.

Martha is playing techno at top volume in the medical bay as she dissects their latest specimen, which is hard going because the whole thing is white, including the blood and all the organs. She's having trouble identifying what is either a very mis-shapen heart or a heart with both kidneys still attached. Ianto's keeping her company and taking notes, which is part of his programme to exorcise the ghost of Owen that still seems to haunt the little room -- or maybe just haunt Ianto, who knows it was his idea to go to the reactor in the first place and thus it should be him who is dead.

Andy, who thinks Martha's music is terrible, has his headphones in and is sitting at what is still ostentatiously Gwen's desk, her photos still hanging and most of her paperwork still in a pile on the corner. He's studying flashcards because he's not naturally gifted with machines and the computers still baffle him a little, but he's trying. He's wearing a metal band on one arm that nobody so far has been able to remove, but it's not his fault. It jumped him on his first field trip and doesn't seem to actually be doing anything so aside from poking at it occasionally he serenely ignores it.

Jack, as ever, is pacing, inspecting, exploring, tending, fiddling with plants in the greenhouse, whistling up at Myfanwy, touching every member of the team when he passes them. He touches Hart on the shoulder and it's obvious in the way he looks up that Hart loves him, though he never propositions him anymore. Andy gets a hair-ruffle and flails in surprise, and Jack grins at him. He rests his chin on Martha's shoulder as she cuts, one arm coming around to point out an interesting bit of white in the mass of white. He trails his fingers up the nape of Ianto's neck which, from the way Ianto's face changes, he might as well have thrown him down and blown him right there. He cups Nicholas's elbow for his attention, asking if he can have another coffee.

Jack is eternal. It's only the faces around him that change.


We will always make every attempt to keep our perspective and if we can't we will find someone to keep it for us.

"You live in a kitchen," Nicholas says, as Hart unabashedly and nakedly looks for his clothing.

It's an old cafe Hart bought (probably with stolen money) and there's a bed in the pantry and a lot of scary-looking computer equipment on the central table. Nicholas jingles his keys; Hart is taking his time and Nicholas really just wants to pick him up and go because Gwen might be having the baby right this minute and everyone wants to be there and why doesn't Hart have a car? He has six gas burners and a pasta station, after all.

"Yeah, well," Hart replies defensively. "Lots of outlets, and I like to cook."

"You live in a kitchen!"

"It's just a place to sleep," Hart says. Which is kind of how Nicholas and Ianto view their flats, but still, at least they live in flats.

Nicholas looks at him as he buckles his belt and pulls his coat on, and thinks, You were destined for Torchwood, John Hart.

They reach the hospital with ten minutes to spare, and Jack's eyes are wide and kind of baffled when they're finally allowed to crowd around Rhys and the screaming giant sultana they've decided to name Bethan. Nicholas glances down; Jack is gripping Ianto's fingers tightly.

"Hallooooo, beautiful," Andy says. "Who's a pretty baby?"

Nicholas rolls his eyes. Of the many things Bethan may turn out to be, she is not currently a pretty baby at all.

Hart wanders off, bored, which will be his pattern regarding Gwen's spawn; it's not that he doesn't like babies, it's just that they hold zero interest for him because he can't shag, eat, or annoy them. Even Hart has his boundaries.

"Please can I hold her?" Martha asks, beaming at Rhys, and Rhys eases her into Martha's hands.

"Look, you," she says, cradling Bethan's head with a doctor's care. "I'm Martha. Either of your parents give you trouble, you come talk to me, okay? That's John, don't ever talk to him, and that's Ianto who's not as scary as he looks -- "

"Martha!" Ianto frowns.

"And that's Jack, don't let the big coat fool you. This is Andy, you got him his job, he owes you sweets for life."

Andy doesn't even hear her; he's waggling his fingers at the baby, and Nicholas will be embarrassed for him because he is being a huge girl.

"And that's Nicholas, who will probably end up on nappy duty so be nice."

"That was not in my hiring contract," Nicholas says to Ianto.

Jack looks terrified but he lets go of Ianto's hand and lifts his arms questioningly, glancing at Rhys. Rhys nods, because Rhys knows that some part of everything in his life will always belong to Torchwood, and Jack bites his lip as Martha puts the baby in his arms.

"Sometimes I forget why we do it," Jack says quietly. Nobody needs to ask what he means. "Sometimes I forget. Little humans in all their ordinary little lives, reaching for the stars."

Bethan obediently flails an arm, and Jack laughs brokenly.

"Grow up strong," he says, and kisses Bethan's forehead and gives her back to her father, who beams at her and carries her away. Jack watches them go.

"Bored," Hart announces, tapping something out on a PDA in his hand. "It's all accidental chemistry and DNA soup anyway. She'll probably get his brains and her teeth. Let's go drink."


If it's alien, it's ours.

And then the Doctor turns up and things go to shit. As, Ianto tells him, they generally do.

But when the smoke clears (fortunately not in Cardiff this time but in Newport, where they were investigating disappearing rugby players and the Doctor was coincidentally trying to break up an interstellar sex-slave industry, apparently this kind of thing is a hobby for him) the Doctor gives them all a once-over and tells them they did all right for humans. Which from the Doctor is high praise.

Nicholas commandeers the local police station's canteen under the authority of Torchwood and while Gwen phones Rhys to let him know she's all right and coo at Bethan, Ianto helps Martha patch up Hart's gunshot wounds. Jack has eighteen different law-enforcement and military officers to sort out, which he is doing with his customary charm and bluntness, and the Doctor is sitting around looking a bit forlorn in the midst of all this heaving humanity and also kind of miffed that Martha isn't paying him more attention.

Nicholas makes tea and then, because he can, a huge platter of fried eggs and toast.

The Doctor keeps staring at him. Especially when he sets some of the egg and toast down in front of him and pours him tea.

"Thanks. What are you doing here?" the Doctor asks him.

"Erm," Nicholas says, because he's not used to aliens being so polite, where "polite" means "not pointing a gun at him". "I work for Torchwood."

"No, I mean, at Torchwood. You seem awfully normal for Torchwood."

Nicholas just smiles and moves on to Ianto, who looks like he could use some coffee and also maybe heavy drugs.

"That thing you did," the Doctor continues, following him. "With the ball. That was interesting."

Somewhere in space there is an alien slave-ship with a rugby ball lodged firmly in its thruster engines, and because of said rugby ball, it is drifting helplessly. Which is okay because most of the aliens who used to use it are dead.

"Played at school," Nicholas says, and nudges the Doctor to one side as he dabs some toast in the runny yolk of one of the eggs and offers it to Hart, who is bitching loudly and maybe this will shut him up.

"How'd you know where to throw it?"

"We're not idiots, Doctor. Will you please stop, I'm trying to bring comfort and nourishment to these people," he adds, annoyed, as the Doctor gets between him and Jack, who is gesturing furiously for some of the coffee while he shouts into his earpiece about Torchwood's jurisdiction being the Earth, and you're welcome by the way for saving it from certain destruction.

Martha is watching Nicholas now too.

"What?" the Doctor asks.

"I asked you to move, because I'm trying to work and you are in my way," Nicholas retorts. "And, incidentally, I am deeply unimpressed by your shoes. You should wear boots if you're going to be running around wet sports arenas."

The Doctor doesn't look down, but Nicholas catches a moment of uncertainty.

"I helped save the world," the Doctor points out.

"Yes, and aren't you about due to bugger off now? That is what you do, isn't it? You're making Ianto twitchy," Nicholas retorts. "Jack says you don't do domestic."

"I can do," the Doctor protests. "Besides, I'm waiting for Jack."

"Fine." Nicholas places the plate of food in the Doctor's hands. "Make yourself useful in the meantime."

Then he sort of passes out, because he didn't really think the scrape on his leg was much to worry about but apparently it nicked some major blood vessel and he's been bleeding into his shoe without noticing.


We will always remember to wear clothing appropriate to the workplace Hart.

When Nicholas wakes up in hospital, which is a pleasant change from "on the floor of the Hub" or "in a field somewhere" or "in an alley that smells of Weevils", the Doctor is still there.

Well, not there, Martha and Jack are actually there in the room, and Nicholas vaguely recalls that he had a crush on Martha, as she lifts his leg and examines it and asks him if he feels much pain. Jack rubs his shoulder reassuringly.

"Gwen's gone back to Cardiff, but the rest of us are staying in Newport for the night," he says. "The doctors say we can take you back to the hotel, if you want."

"Can I get drugs this good at the hotel?" Nicholas asks, examining the IV drip in his arm.

"No," Martha says, grinning. "But the food's better."

"Up I go, then," Nicholas agrees, and lets Martha take out his IV and help him to stand. He's about to ask if he can please have some clothing, because Jack is casually eyeing his legs in the hospital gown, when a shadow appears in the doorway.

"Brought you some shoes," the Doctor says. He offers a pair of black hi-tops, almost shyly. Martha seems to find this amusing for some reason. "Yours got sort of manky and, well, that was somewhat my fault. Funny thing, actually, I found out there's a setting on the screwdriver that adds traction so if you -- "

"O-kay, let's find you some trousers," Martha interrupts. They're standing almost defensively in front of him, between him and the Doctor, and there's some weird chess game going on here that Nicholas doesn't get and is too tired to try for. Martha wanders out into the hallway and then it's just him and Jack and the Doctor.

"Jack, could I have a word alone with -- "

"No," Jack says firmly.

"But I wanted to -- "

"No," Jack repeats. The Doctor looks annoyed. Nicholas leans on the bed and flexes his leg experimentally. Oh. Ouch.

"Listen, he did bring me shoes," he says to Jack, who shoots him a seriously, did you just say that? look. "I'm a big boy, Jack, I can deal with one reasonably polite alien."

"On your own head, then," Jack says. "Just remember what happened to me."

This seems to cut the Doctor deeply, somehow, but Jack points a finger in his face, tells him to behave, and sweeps out. They stand there in silence for a minute.

"D'you know what the Karsiphon Construct looks like?" the Doctor asks.

"I don't even know what it is," Nicholas replies.

"Want to find out?"

Nicholas narrows his eyes. "What?"

"I'm a traveler. I travel. Whoosh," the Doctor adds, making a little airplane-taking-off gesture with his hand. "In space, and time too if I want to. Footloose, that's me."

"So it's something out in space," Nicholas says.

"Yeah, sort of. And about ten thousand years in the future. Ten thousand? No..." the Doctor looks up, calculating in his head. "Eight thousand nine hundred and fifty-six."

"Oh, is that all."

"Yes, well, it's this enormous office building in space. Just sort of floating there. Nobody knows where it came from or who built it, but it looks amazingly like the Gherkin and it's totally filled with cubicles. Down to the staplers and the paperclips."

"Alien paperclips?" Nicholas's lips twitch. The Doctor beams.

"They have six loops instead of three," he says solemnly.

"Well, for more efficient clipping."

"You could test that for yourself," the Doctor offers. Nicholas tilts his head. "My ship's just outside."

"I've got eight stitches in my leg," Nicholas says.

"Now or never, Nicholas the Domestic," the Doctor replies.

"Bollocks," Nicholas retorts. The Doctor's eyebrows raise. "You travel in space and time, three days while I think it over isn't going to kill you. Go do a walking tour of Newport and see a few films and stop being such a bloody dramatic enigma."

The Doctor's mouth makes a small 'o' of surprise.

"You remind me of someone I used to know," he says. "Your surname's not Tyler, is it?"

"No," Nicholas replies. "Now fuck off, Doctor, so Martha can bring me some trousers. If you're still hanging about Cardiff in three days I might say yes. If you aren't, well, I have Torchwood."


A reminder to all: We do not steal alien tech for our own nefarious purposes.

The paperclips really do have six loops, but they're not any more efficient, as it turns out.

Nicholas has just enough time to ponder this mystery of the universe before the occupants of the office building come back from their decade-long lunch break (they're slow eaters) and he and the Doctor are arrested as interstellar corporate spies and also for the theft of two staplers.

"Does this happen to you often?" Nicholas inquires, as they make a bolt for the TARDIS.

"You wouldn't believe," the Doctor replies.

"Actually, I think I would," Nicholas gasps, diving into the TARDIS and hearing the Doctor slam the door shut behind them.


We will be properly suspicious of machinery which talks.

While they're in transit to wherever the Doctor is going next -- he says it's a surprise -- Nicholas explores, finding the kitchen fairly easily (there's a banana tree growing in one corner, and it has an ambulatory pot, which is weird and cool). He locates a bedroom nearby, the bed neatly made with military sharpness and the sparse decorations evidence that someone once lived here. It's probably not the Doctor; there are old-fashioned sepia prints on the walls, and the Doctor doesn't seem the type.

Nicholas toes off his shoes, unbuttons his cuffs and collar-button, and lies down.


He starts up so suddenly he nearly falls off the bed, and when he turns there's Jack, oh god, Jack, standing in front of the door.

"I'm Captain Jack Harkness," Jack says.

"Yeah, I know that -- "

"This is a recorded message to the next occupant of this room," Jack continues, and Nicholas's heart falls a bit. "I hope you're hot. Or at any rate think I am."

As the hologram-Jack talks, Nicholas notices differences. His hair is strange, and he's not wearing his coat or braces. And he looks...looser, somehow, more relaxed, happier. Intangibly younger.

"Who am I kidding, of course you think I'm hot. Well, welcome to the TARDIS. I made this vid in the hopes that when I'm gone, some other companion will find this -- and you have. Well done. Feel free to redecorate, by the way."

"Are you voice-activated?" Nicholas asks warily.

"Anyway, since I can't actually give you the full rundown, I've programmed a little surprise into the TARDIS for you." Apparently not. "If you'd like to see it, follow me."

Holo!Jack turns and walks through the door, and Nicholas scrambles to follow, yanking the door open and catching up with him in the corridor.

"In case the Doctor has forgotten to fill you in, the TARDIS is a ship that travels in time and space," Holo!Jack continues, moving along easily, hands behind his back. He stops talking every once in a while to look at where he assumed Nicholas would be standing. "There's usually a lot of running involved, so I hope you're fit."

He stops in front of a large bank of monitors hooked together in a little niche in the wall. At a wave of a hand, the monitors light up and an absurdly familiar-looking webpage appears.

Oh, Jack, always the show-off.

"This is the Whenkipedia," Holo!Jack says. "My little joke. Hopefully you're from a time when Wikipedia was still around. And, you know, not from the time when it was a superentity ruling the galaxy. That wasn't a great century," he muses. "Here's the remote."

A small black stick shoots out of the wall, and Nicholas grabs it before it can fall. It has two buttons.

"Point at the link you want and click. Right-clicking saves it to your console in your room," Holo!Jack continues. "This will tell you anything we know about the TARDIS and the Doctor. It isn't actually all that much, but I've tried to make it as comprehensive as possible. There's a keyboard under the left-corner monitor; feel free to add anything relevant or amusing."

Nicholas clicks experimentally on a link on the sidebar reading PROFILES.

"There I am," Holo!Jack says, apparently in a subroutine to judge by the way he flickers for a moment. "Handsome devil, huh?"

Indeed, Jack is there on the screen, a small photo to the side of one of three profiles. Username CPTNJACK. Jack's never been very original when it comes to things like that. Nicholas clicks on his profile and Holo!Jack goes into some kind of loop, endlessly standing at attention and occasionally rocking on the balls of his feet.

Captain Jack Harkness.
Born 51st Century local time, Boeshane Peninsula.
Boarded TARDIS 20th century local time, London.
Former Time Agent. Excellent in bed. Or out of it.
Entries created: 912.
Entries edited: 35.
Related Profiles: Rose Tyler.

Rose Tyler is the next entry on the list, a pretty blonde woman with a slightly defiant expression. She boarded the TARDIS in the 20th century too, also in London; perhaps she and Jack were aboard together. She has 43 entries created, with 62 edited ones.

"She's my honeysuckle rose," Holo!Jack sings, apparently the only vocal in this particular subroutine. Nicholas scrolls to the third profile. Martha, of course. Jack hasn't got a subroutine for her; apparently he either didn't think to write one or didn't actually travel in the TARDIS when Martha did. Martha has 212 edited entries, but only wrote four herself.

He jumps back to the main page.

"Well, I'll let you explore," Holo!Jack says, looking where he imagined Nicholas would be, which is slightly to the right of where Nicholas actually is. "This hologram's pretty limited so there's not much more I can do for you, but if you need a user's guide to the Whenkipedia, just bring up my profile again."

"Thanks," Nicholas says, although he knows nobody can actually hear him.

"Oh, and if you want the crash course..." Holo!Jack waves his hand again and a new page appears. "These are the TARDIS house rules."

Nicholas stares up at the page of rules as Holo!Jack disappears. All three former companions have edited the page, sometimes adding informative or sarcastic comments on rules they didn't write. It looks almost precisely like the whiteboard hanging up at Torchwood, down to the outwardly arbitrary commandments and the arguments no outsider would understand.

He sets the remote down carefully, leans back against the wall, and laughs and laughs and laughs.


Next in the series: The TARDIS House Rules

[identity profile] 2008-04-06 03:23 pm (UTC)(link)
Well my dear. You never cease to amaze me. You have just written series 3 beautifully!

This has been such a joy to read. Thank you!

[identity profile] 2008-04-06 05:17 pm (UTC)(link)
LOL! I never thought of it that way, but you may be right. Thank you!

[identity profile] 2008-04-06 03:40 pm (UTC)(link)
Is it wrong that I wish Nicholas was actually a character on the show? You've done such a good job with him! I love everything you did, from Martha and John and Andy, to Gwen's pregnancy, to the Doctor...

What's the possibility of you taking over, now that Chibnall's gone?

[identity profile] 2008-04-06 05:16 pm (UTC)(link)
I have a lot of fun with Nicholas. I think the combination of normality, innocence, and cynicism really are what makes him appealing. Because he can totally handle being coated in gore, but he's all surprised and sorry when Ianto's like, well, MY first time out someone tried to eat me.

Poor Nicholas. He's never going to win Top My Torchwood Trauma.

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[personal profile] marginaliana - 2008-04-06 18:25 (UTC) - Expand

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[personal profile] drgaellon - 2008-04-07 00:01 (UTC) - Expand

[identity profile] 2008-04-06 03:48 pm (UTC)(link)
13. Sing anything about Sausages, Hedgehogs, Sailors, Sport, or the concept of Sexy being Brought Back.

Does John Hart know the Hedgehog Song? That would be...strangely expected.

This is amazing. Your Doctor is absolutely spot-on, and Andy in Torchwood is fantastic. Take over the BBC, please? This needs to be season three. I'll help you with the seige, if you want.

[identity profile] 2008-04-06 05:12 pm (UTC)(link)
Of course he knows the Hedgehog Song! Jack taught it to him. :D

I'm glad you think the Doctor is accurate there, I was worried. He's hard to nail down, especially when he's not the one doing most of the talking.

I would like nothing better than to work for the BBC, but alas I think after watching Partners In Crime they hardly need me...

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[identity profile] - 2008-04-06 21:47 (UTC) - Expand

[identity profile] 2008-04-06 03:55 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh, <3! You took an original character and made him _work_, and the part about the TARDIS rules was just brilliant. Please! More!

[identity profile] 2008-04-06 04:09 pm (UTC)(link)
As always brilliant!
Thanks for posting. I yearn for more Nicholas adventures...

[identity profile] 2008-04-06 04:23 pm (UTC)(link)
Fantastic. :D I really, really, REALLY want a Whenkipedia.
aunty_marion: Torchwood (Torchwood)

[personal profile] aunty_marion 2008-04-06 04:36 pm (UTC)(link)
I keep reading that as a Whokipedia. Which is possibly also necessary.

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[identity profile] 2008-04-06 04:39 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh, this is fab.
ext_23799: (10)

[identity profile] 2008-04-06 04:41 pm (UTC)(link)
he doesn't think it's his memories, which really were just the mental equivalent of a hug. firstly, this was a really beautiful idea on its own, but more importantly and secondly, this is what this final chapter was for me. after i finished reading i just sat on the tube grinning, which must have frightened theother passengers considerably.

i don't think you could write a better ending than this... well, i think it's quite possible that you could, but i wouldn't want you to because it would devalue this which makes me so happy.

favourite parts: all of it really, though i particularly love the doctor and nicholas being arrested for stealing staplers, wikipedia controlling the galaxy and nicholas who was always the most purely fascinated by aliens being allowed to travel with the doctor :) its really beautiful and funny and lovely and wonderful.

also, i happened to read it whilst wearing a very soggy, very cold pair of converse so i felt the force of nicholas's remarks regarding them.

[identity profile] 2008-04-06 05:02 pm (UTC)(link)
LOL! Poor Doctor, his feet must get cold alllll the time.

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[identity profile] - 2008-04-07 12:39 (UTC) - Expand

[identity profile] 2008-04-06 05:06 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh, Hooray for Hart! You fit him in just perfectly. Wonderful, Sam.
And I have a mini crush on Nicholas. Can he be real, please? *sigh*
I still vote that you talk to Russel T and tell him about how your fic is made entirely of win. The LOLCat episode would make series 3 RULE THE PLANET!

[identity profile] 2008-04-06 05:10 pm (UTC)(link)
LOL, I'd like nothing better, but I can only imagine how many pitches he gets a day from eager fans. :D
ext_3690: Ianto Jones says, "Won't somebody please think of the children?!?" (bloody Torchwood)

[identity profile] 2008-04-06 05:48 pm (UTC)(link)
Jack Harkness, immortal ex-time-traveler, John Hart, immoral ex-time-traveler

All brilliant, but Hart on the team FTW!

[identity profile] 2008-04-06 05:54 pm (UTC)(link)
Awwww. How completely perfect.
ext_29257: (BallyK: Beauty and the Priest)

[identity profile] 2008-04-06 06:08 pm (UTC)(link)

So much love!


This is a wonderful ending to what I think is my absolute favourite TW fic. The overwhelming humanity in it, in the way you capture characters and show us all sorts of things about them, is what gets me with your writing, every time. And also why you rock out at AUs :D And your Hart is hot.

I'd list the things I love but they'd take too much time. It's all marvellous.

(Ambulatory banana pot FTW, though, omg. Socool.)

[identity profile] 2008-04-06 06:39 pm (UTC)(link)
Banana trees walk around! QI said so!

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[identity profile] - 2008-04-06 19:42 (UTC) - Expand

[identity profile] 2008-04-06 06:16 pm (UTC)(link)
I love Nicholas. Woe is me, for neither Torchwood nor Who writers will come up with anyone as specifically awesome.
marginaliana: Buddy the dog carries Bobo the toy (TW - Insert Innuendo Here)

[personal profile] marginaliana 2008-04-06 06:24 pm (UTC)(link)
13. Sing anything about Sausages, Hedgehogs, Sailors, Sport, or the concept of Sexy being Brought Back.

Oh, Sam, I adore you so very much.

[identity profile] 2008-04-06 06:55 pm (UTC)(link)
*squeezes you tight* This is fabulously good. The healing power of mundane memories - just wonderful. And: Rhys nods, because Rhys knows that some part of everything in his life will always belong to Torchwood, and Jack bites his lip as Martha puts the baby in his arms.

That's so.... true.

Also, I like Martha. She's - well, she's me, kind of. This is, I think, rather cool.
Edited 2008-04-06 18:56 (UTC)

[identity profile] 2008-04-06 06:55 pm (UTC)(link)
*kicks Russel T. Davies out and firmly ensconses you in his office.* There, now, that's better.


Everyone agrees that, inappropriateness aside, the look of terrified incomprehension on Rhys's face is pretty priceless.

Made the neighbors ask if I was okay, since I was reading this out on the porch and laughed so hard I got the painful hiccups.

[identity profile] 2008-04-06 06:57 pm (UTC)(link)
LOL! Sorry for your hiccups :D

[identity profile] 2008-04-06 07:47 pm (UTC)(link)
Ok, i've just copied and pasted all of this into a word document.

*looks at page count*

see you in thirty or so minutes. *waves*

[identity profile] 2008-04-06 08:21 pm (UTC)(link)
What IS the page count anyway? I wrote most of it in text files and my LJ posting window.

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[identity profile] 2008-04-06 07:48 pm (UTC)(link)
yay giant space gherkin :D

also - awesome continuation of the story. i love the way that Nicholas fits in seemlessly, you do a wonderful job writing Torchwood

[identity profile] 2008-04-06 09:03 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh, Sam, this is brilliant. Nicholas fits in perfectly, I love the way you have life just go on (stumbling and limping at first, but still, just going on in an ordinary and imperfect way), Jack and Ianto's interactions, the glimpses of what happens in the field, and the way you balance funny and touching. I think my favourite thing about it is the dialogue. You've managed to get the voice of every single character, from PC Andy to Jack to John Hart, spot on. I could hear and see them clearly - it was like watching telly in my head! And I jump on the bandwagon to say that I, too, was expecting Nicholas/Hart. Though now that you've said he's shy, I'm content to imagine what might have happened off-camera. :)
drgaellon: I Has a Yantoe: from <lj user='copperbadge'>'s _Trying to Communicate_ (I Has A Yantoe)

[personal profile] drgaellon 2008-04-07 12:47 am (UTC)(link)
Your icon is BRILLIANT!

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[identity profile] - 2008-04-07 00:51 (UTC) - Expand
such_heights: amy and rory looking at a pile of post (dw: jack smile)

[personal profile] such_heights 2008-04-06 09:10 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh this is fantastic! I loved the way you showed them picking up the pieces again, and carrying on with things. And the end, with holo!Jack and Whenkipedia! So perfect and such a good idea, that it's not just the Doctor who has input into the TARDIS.

[identity profile] 2008-04-06 09:30 pm (UTC)(link)
Jack is probably out of his mind, and Hart is definitely out of his, but if they can keep him occupied and housetrain him not to automatically try to fuck or kill everyone he meets, it might work.

This is, quite possibly, the best line ever written in fanfiction.'s not that he doesn't like babies, it's just that they hold zero interest for him because he can't shag, eat, or annoy them. Even Hart has his boundaries.


Absolutely lovely fic. A gold star to you.

[identity profile] 2008-04-07 02:47 pm (UTC)(link)
Well, honestly, with John Hart it's generally one or the other. Except for babies, which he ignores. :D

[identity profile] 2008-04-06 10:46 pm (UTC)(link)
I think I love you. GUH.

Are you doing the Rules Of The TARDIS too?

[identity profile] 2008-04-07 02:55 pm (UTC)(link)
Alas, no. I haven't the fannish energy for that :D But it's a fun idea, isn't it?

[identity profile] 2008-04-06 11:14 pm (UTC)(link)
I thought I'd wait till I read the entire series to comment.

You've managed to do something I thought was night well impossible; create an OC for Torchwood and not have them come out as a Sue/Stu. Nicholas is so completely normal (and at the same time, so clever) that not a bit of it rings false. From his semi-hero worship of Ianto in the beginning to the aftermath of the deaths of Owen and Tosh, to actually managing to fit John Hart into Torchwood, to the attraction between him and Nicholas (I love how Nicholas manages to bring John back by feeding him ordinary everyday memories-he's a bastard, but I suspect that, mentally and emotionally, he's probably just as fucked up as Jack, if not moreso). Getting Ianto's memories probably didn't help either

But most of all, I love his reaction to The Doctor. He's not impressed, and I think he's exactly what #10 needs-a reality check. I wish him many happy years traveling in time and space, maybe coming back to Torchwood once in a while to visit. He'll want to keep an eye on Bethan as she grows up, I'd imagine.

Though I think Ianto's going to miss him terribly.

[identity profile] 2008-04-07 02:52 pm (UTC)(link)
I'm glad Nicholas wasn't too Sue-y for you :) I did fret a lot about it and worked carefully to keep him from toppling over the edge.

And honestly, I think most of the Torchwood crew would not be as impressed with the Doctor as ordinary people. They're used to a mysterious charismatic leader, and they've already acclimated to the whole "aliens exist" thing :D

In my personal canon, Nicholas doesn't stay all that long with the Doctor -- six months at most, before one day calling the Doctor "Jack" by mistake and realising that it's time to go home. Torchwood is where he belongs, after all....
drgaellon: (squee)

[personal profile] drgaellon 2008-04-07 12:00 am (UTC)(link)
Hart wanders off, bored, which will be his pattern regarding Gwen's spawn; it's not that he doesn't like babies, it's just that they hold zero interest for him because he can't shag, eat, or annoy them. Even Hart has his boundaries.

This had me screaming in hysterics, as did the "giant screaming sultana."

"You remind me of someone I used to know," he says. "Your surname's not Tyler, is it?"

Sounds more like "Noble" to me...

Hopefully you're from a time when Wikipedia was still around. And, you know, not from the time when it was a superentity ruling the galaxy. That wasn't a great century.

Gah, what a horrifying thought...

These are the TARDIS house rules.

You realize you've now condemned yourself to WRITING these...

[identity profile] 2008-04-07 02:50 pm (UTC)(link)
I don't think I'm geektastic enough about Doctor Who to write the TARDIS house rules. I'd have to go back and rewatch from the start of Nine's tenure...

[identity profile] 2008-04-07 01:02 am (UTC)(link)
I may be drunk, but I think I love you. (psh, two g&t's get me like this now? I'm such a lightweight).

Seriously though, this, like all of your stuff that I've read, is insightful and funny and just plain fun. I have enjoyed it immensely, so I wish to offer thanks in the traditional lj format of a comment. Yeah, that's the gin talking again. I get convoluted when I'm drunk.

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