Chapter 9: Big Brother
Disclaimer: Nothing here is mine except Alex.
A/N: And we come to the end. I almost feel like I ought to apologise for the odd meandering nature of this story, but it came to me in bits and I never really knew where it was going. To be honest it’s more of a set-up for the other [more carefully structured] stories in the ‘verse (which I’ll definitely post at some point in the future, don't worry). For now I just want to thank all of you for reading (you have no idea
what it means to me!), and daveykins in particular for suggesting I post it here. :)Chapter 9
Big Brother23rd of April 2015
Thursday morning, and Jack was taking Alex to school. He’d arrived the night before, present in hand - along with Martha, Tom and their baby - to find not just a birthday party for an 8-year-old, but a household that had been shaken thoroughly. Alex himself had been almost bouncing off the walls (before settling down and systematically taking apart every piece of technology in the house, enlisting Luke’s enthusiastic help when he needed more hands), the Doctor had been looking by turns relieved and worried, and the Master had been so happy that he almost purred. Lucy had been concentrating on making sure everyone had enough to eat.
It was good that by now they were all very accomplished at maintaining the careful balance needed to keep the past at bay... Pretend that the man in the armchair across from you didn’t torture you for a year. Pretend that his wife handing you a cup of coffee didn’t dance when the Earth fell. Pretend that it never happened, even if the boy - laughing as he shows off a simple time experiment - wouldn't have existed otherwise...
At one point the Doctor had taken his former companions aside and confided in them what had taken place earlier, and it was apparent that, although Alex was clearly fine, the Doctor was still deeply conflicted. Jack had offered to give the boy a lift in the morning, so the Doctor could have a rest, and the offer had been gratefully accepted (it’d take him a good while before he got used to the new name, he was sure. Alex was just Alex in his mind).
“Can you pick me up too?” the boy had asked as they left the house, and Jack had said maybe - while he was in town he had to go looking for a shape changing alien that they thought might have hidden itself somewhere in the seedier parts of Soho. If he couldn’t make it, he’d make sure to call the Doctor and let him know.
They were now standing by the gate to the school playground, but instead of running in the way he usually did, Alex had stopped. He was studying the raucous games, and Jack followed suit - couldn’t blame the boy for being a bit tired after staying up half the night. Although children were the same anywhere, he mused... Sure in most playgrounds the banter would involve less decimal points or literary quotations - but the happy, carefree spirit was the same.
They stood like that for a moment; then Alex said, never taking his eyes off his friends:
“One day they’ll all be dead; but I won’t. Like you Jack.”
Jack nearly choked and turned his head to look at the boy by his side. With a sickening feeling he realised that there was something eerily familiar about the look on the kid’s face - he’d seen it over and over in the eyes of war children: the knowledge of their own mortality, something no child should have to face. And yet this was different - this boy had understood his own im
mortality, and the way in which the world would change around him, whilst he stood still. Jack still remembered his own reluctance to face up to this fact, the years in which he had desperately tried to deny the truth. And yet Alex had apparently in an instant accepted the reality of the situation.
Was that what the Schism did? No wonder the Doctor had run away. And no wonder he’d been looking so guilty...
Then slowly the boy turned his head, and again Jack was struck by how much he resembled his father. The golden hair apart, Alexander Saxon was his father in miniature, right down to the brown of his eyes. Except his were clear and calm, with none of his father’s unpredictable malice. “It’s OK though,” he continued, as he tilted his head. “If I was only human I’d never have enough time to discover everything, would I?”
Jack swallowed. “Look - Alex...”
“Seeker,” the child corrected automatically, then suddenly frowned. “Jack - can you keep a secret? Like a really, really big one?”
Jack nodded, wondering what was coming, but tried to appear as though he was ready for anything. “Of course I can lil’ buddy.”
The kid smiled. “I need you to do me a favour.” He glanced at his watch and then walked off to a bench close by and sat down. Jack settled himself next to him, and watched as the boy took off his backpack and rooted round in it for a moment.
And then he pulled out the Master’s laser screwdriver.
For a moment Jack felt faint. He could still remember the very particular pain of being shot with it, and his mind was wildly trying to think of a reason why on earth this tool of destruction was in the hands of a child.
“Daddy gave me this last night, as a special birthday present,” Alex said, slowly turning it over in his hands. Seeing the questions on Jack’s face, he elaborated. “The Doctor made sure Daddy could never use it. But he never thought that he’d let anyone else use it either - so yesterday Daddy changed it, and now it only works for me.”
Jack slowly nodded. Yes, he could see it all now, and yet again he dearly wished he could wring the Master’s neck. How perfectly typical of him to do something so reprehensible - putting his own son in such an impossible situation. Although Jack knew that that was not how he’d see it. Yet again he wondered how on earth the Master could have fathered this child - because he couldn’t have been more different. If it hadn’t been for the boy’s looks, Jack would have been convinced that Lucy’d had an affair with the Doctor.
Alex looked up, biting his lip worriedly. “I don’t want it. But I can’t tell Daddy that. And I can’t tell the Doctor, because then he’d get mad - like really, really
mad - and maybe think that Daddy wanted me to help him escape.” Slowly he stroked the brushed metal. “Can you look after it, Jack? Put it in your special safe in Torchwood, and promise never, ever to tell anyone? Please?”
Brown eyes met blue, and Jack swallowed. “Of course I can. And yes, I promise never to tell a single soul.”
The relief on the boy’s face was palpable, but then suddenly a mischievous look came into his eyes. He turned his attention back to the screwdriver, carefully adjusting the settings. Then, as Jack stared - first in bewilderment, then in sudden understanding - he grabbed hold of Jack’s wrist, exposing the vortex manipulator, before expertly aiming the screwdriver and a second later the wrist unit sprang back to life.
He smiled. “No one will be able to shut it down again. For some things, laser really is better!”
Jack was still staring at him speechlessly as the screwdriver was handed over with a secretive smile and a wink.
“Don’t be late picking me up!”
Shaking his head, Jack couldn’t help laughing.
“And what exactly am I supposed to say when the Doctor notices?”
The boy grinned. “I guess you better make sure he doesn’t!”
“Right...” Jack had a feeling that he ought to say something, or do something - to be the responsible adult. Except what exactly that something should be, he didn’t know.
Before he got any further in his thinking, the bell rang.
“Oh crap!” In a flurry of worried brown eyes and impish grin the child ran past Jack towards the gate, only stopping once to look behind him.
“Please don’t tell the Doctor that I said a naughty word. And thank you
And then the Seeker was gone.
Quietly Jack turned over the weapon in his hand, before yet again staring at the familiar little lights on his wrist. And he realised that not once had the boy called him ‘uncle’ the way he had before. But then - everything had changed, hadn’t it? He might centuries older, but the boy already had more knowledge and brainpower than Jack ever would. So not an uncle... maybe an older brother? That would fit nicely, he thought, since they were already partners in crime against ‘the grownups’, weren’t they? And it wasn’t like he could ever lose this
He also had a feeling the Seeker would need a brother very much.