Without Absolute Evidence (1/?)
Anderyn on fandom_stocking gave me the excuse I needed to write this. All silliness can be blamed on me. Unexpected Plot should be blamed on my darling beta, Priscillie. Awesome should be directed to Anderyn. Thanks muchly!
Title: Without Absolute Evidence (1/?)
Fandom: Doctor Who/Vorkosiverse
Spoilers: Through The Doctor Dances, for the Whoniverse, and through Barrayar for the Vorkosiverse. Fairly big spoilers for Barrayar, actually.
Summary: "That is part of the pleasure of friendship: trusting without absolute evidence and then being rewarded for that trust." --David Shore
Part One: in which Jack Harkness gets arrested and meets an old friend.
They were in a cell. Again.
“Remind me,” Rose said, in her sweetest voice, “how we got into this.”
Jack attempted to ignore her. The walls were stone, a nice grey granite-type stone that sucked all the heat out of the air. Very nicely cut and fitted together, too; he ran a hand over the joins and could barely feel a crack. Maybe if he...
The Doctor broke into his thoughts. “Hmm," he pretended to think aloud, leaning up against the wall in his best scowly mood. "'S a bit difficult to remember, bit fuzzy…oh, right! Jack flirted!”
“Hey.” Jack, who had been on the receiving end of this for the last hour, whipped around from his examination of the wall and scowled at them. “For the last time. If you’d told me I shouldn’t flirt with pretty women here, I wouldn’t have.”
“I thought you said you’d been here before,” Rose said, not quite accusingly.
Jack shook his head. At least there he had an answer. “I meant this general area and time, not this planet,” he said.
‘Here’ was the planet Barrayar, specifically the capital Vorbarr Sultana, and he’d only been kicking around Beta Colony a time or three, years ago. He said as much, and added, “Nice place, Beta Colony. Nobody cares what you do as long as everyone involved is a consenting adult, and everybody over fourteen gets contraception. My kind of town.”
The Doctor rolled his eyes. “Yeah, well, we aren’t on Beta Colony and you flirted with some sweet young thing. Which got us arrested. Well done you.”
“She started it,” Jack said, and realized how puerile that sounded right about the time the door opened and a couple of guards scowled in at them, stunners at the ready. He’d never in his life been thankful for guards scowling at him, but the Doctor wouldn’t get sarcastic in front of them, so he decided he’d make an exception this once.
“Are we being released?” he asked, hopefully.
The guard on the left scowled harder, kiboshing that idea, and said, “You. Your name really Jack Harkness?”
The Doctor’s eyebrows went up, and Rose gave him an interested look, but neither of them said anything.
“Um,” Jack said, and racked his brains for anything he could possibly have done that would get him recognized on Barrayar of all places. The last time he’d been on Beta Colony (which was, granted, almost seven years before the current date, though more like seven months in his personal timeline) he’d heard the place was a backwater, a military power but content to keep to itself. Why would anything he’d done elsewhere be of interest here?
The guard had gotten tired of waiting. “You Jack Harkness or not?”
He came up blank, and decided that honesty was the best policy. “Uh. Yes?”
The two guards exchanged a pained look, and the talker said, “In that case, Lady Vorkosigan wants to see you. You’d better come quietly or you'll have to answer to her.”
Jack dug in his heels. Divide and conquer was the oldest trick in the book. And he didn’t need the Doctor’s hissed “Vorkosigan?” to know that it was the Regent’s wife they were talking about. A meeting with some starched-up old Vor matron, either furious that he’d dared to taint an innocent girl’s reputation by flirting, or bored with her husband and looking for something on the side, could not end well for anyone.
“Not without my friends,” he declared, boldly. At least if there was an audience along, he wouldn’t get slobbered over by some desperate woman. And they wouldn’t be seperated.
The guards exchanged another look. The quiet one shrugged, and the talker said, “Fine. You all go, as long as you all go quietly. Lady Vorkosigan was very specific about that.”
Ah. That tone of voice did not bode well…
Another guard was summoned, and the three of them were frog-marched up through the varied layers of the Imperial Residence, to a sunny, airy room hung with green silk. It was surprisingly bare; there was only a desk, a comconsole, a few couches and a redheaded woman in a dress as green as the room, her arms folded across her chest and a wry smile on her lips.
The guard opened his mouth, but before he could say anything, Jack blurted “Cordy!” in a tone of complete and utter shock.
“Jack,” Cordelia Naismith replied, the wry smile she wore widening and softening into something a bit more welcoming. “I detest that nickname and I’ll thank you to remember it.”
The guard had let go of Jack in apparent surprise; he took advantage of his sudden release to step up, take Cordelia’s hand, and bow over it in his best courtly fashion. “Sorry, love,” he said, and grinned at her. “How’s this? Cordelia, my dear, my darling, lady of my heart and soul…” An old game, but one they’d both enjoyed greatly when he’d known her.
She laughed, and expertly removed her hand from his. “I’m married,” she said. “And aren’t you lucky I am. Are you going to introduce me to your friends?”
Jack blinked. “Ah—married, really?—yes, of course. The pretty blonde is Rose Tyler, and the scowly bloke in the leather jacket is the Doctor. Cordelia, what are you doing here of all places?”
Cordelia regarded them both with an air of polite interest; Jack noticed somewhat abruptly that the guards had made themselves disappear. “I’m very pleased to meet you both. Any friends of Jack's are... probably... friends of mine,” she said. To Jack, she added, “Yes, married. For close to three years now. And where have you been that you didn’t hear about it?”
“Travelling,” the Doctor broke in. “With us. Very pleased to meet you too, my lady.” His voice rose at the end, a questioning inflection.
“Cordelia Naismith,” Jack said, his eyes still on Cordelia. “Not a lady. She’s a friend of mine from Beta Colony, and you heard me, I don't know what she's doing here." There, that should have answered anything the Doctor could possibly have wanted to ask. As for Cordy... "Where’s Lady Vorkosigan? Guard said she wanted to see me. Not that I’m not thrilled to see you instead, but I'd rather get this over with.”
Cordelia, who was suppressing a smile with increasing difficulty, asked, "Out of curiosity, what are you expecting to get over?"
He shrugged. "Some starched-up old matron who's either going to lecture or proposition me." The Doctor choked; Jack shot him a glare, then asked, "Why? Have you got something up your sleeve?"
"No," she said, "and I was thinking more along the lines of you explaining how you came to get arrested. God knows I lectured enough people in Survey, and as for propositioning, I refer you again to 'I'm married.' Very happily."
Jack opened his mouth to say 'I heard you the first time' and instead said, "Wait, what?" as the rest of what she'd said caught up with him.
The suppressed smile broke out full force. "I'm Lady Vorkosigan, Jack."
For a moment, Jack could only stand with his mouth open and stare.