Rose's eyes widened almost unnaturally when she heard that all too familiar American accent.
Oh no. No, no, no, no, no, no…this is not happening! There is no way that this could be happening. Of all the places James co—
Her frantic inner ramblings came to a sudden halt as she noticed the smug smirk plastered on James' face, while he leant back in his chair and folded his arms across his chest.
He planned this! That bloody wanker planned this! How could he poss—
Before she realized what was happening, she was lifted up off her seat and pulled into a tight embrace, Jack's strong muscular arms pulling her close to his chest. Gone was the remembered scent of sand and salt, and was replaced with an unfamiliar but pleasant cologne. They pulled back from each other and Rose was met with a brilliant smile from Jack.
"Ah, Rosie," he said elatedly and pressed a kiss to her forehead, flashing a winning smile afterwards.
Rose couldn't help but giggle at his enthusiasm and smiled genuinely at him, despite the incredibly awkward circumstance that they all found themselves in currently. The fact that Jack still had his arms around her waist didn't help matters.
"Dang, Rosie…I know it's only been a couple days, but I swear you got hotter!" Jack said, pulling her just a tad closer than what would be considered "friendly." That coupled with his rather flirty tone, earned him a pointed look from Rose.
Before she could reprimand Jack for his overt flirtation, James let out a low growl. Rose pulled back from Jack and turned towards James. He was clearly angry that his supposed "brilliant" plan at exposing her deception had backfired; but then Jack put a possessive arm around her waist, and the change in his expression startled her. James' whole body went rigid; his eyes became coal black and his jaw clenched with restrained fury. She'd never seen him appear so menacing. Quick to diffuse his obvious escalation, she stepped away from Jack and gestured to James.
"Uh…Jack, this is my husband, James. James, this's Jack Harkness. My friend," she said with quiet emphasis.
Up until that moment, Jack seemed to be oblivious to James' presence; but at Rose's introduction, he finally turned to acknowledge the man. Recognition flashed in Jack's eyes when he saw James and he couldn't help but smirk.
"Oh, we've met. Haven't we, Doc?" Jack said in a knowing tone. Bits and pieces were mentally falling into place, and Jack couldn't help but be highly amused—especially as he recalled the events of that morning.
Rose's eyes widened again at that sudden revelation, and her gaze flitted between the two men.
"Wha-…how?" she asked as she finally settled her confused gaze on James. His previously threatening demeanor instantly deflated and he shifted uncomfortably in his chair, refusing to meet her eyes.
Jack laughed at James' obvious discomfort and sat down next to him. Jack patted the empty seat next to him and Rose silently sat down. The small size of the table made it impossible for there to be any sort of comfortable distance between them. Jack slapped James good-naturedly on the back, his grin sparkling.
"See, Rosie…the Doc here and I had a nice chat this morning."
James scowled at him, shaking Jack's hand off of his shoulder. Rose felt her brain sputter as she tried to process that new bit of information.
"Chat? What chat? Will one of you explain what's going on?" Rose said, her confusion quickly turning into frustration.
Neither man moved to answer her, both of them continuing to blank each other.
"Don't you have something else to do? I thought you were having lunch with your sister?" James said sharply. Jack's close proximity to Rose continued to fuel James' possessive anger and he was anxious to be rid of him.
"Gwen's running late. She-"
"How do you know he has a sister? What is goin' on?!" Rose demanded, struggling to not shout.
"We met at the hospital. He was lost and I helped him," James answered, though it was painfully obvious that more had happened than he was letting on.
Jack smirked. "Yeah…right after he spilt coffee on me. By the way, Dr. Erickson didn't appreciate you using his office…or breaking his pen."
James glared at him.
Rose furrowed her brow in concentration at the mention of Dr. Erickson.
I know that name…how do I know that name?
It suddenly dawned on her and she locked eyes with James. At seeing the fierce anger in her eyes, he began to nervously tug on his ear.
"What did you do?" she asked pointedly.
James opened his mouth to speak but no words came out. Jack rolled his eyes and answered for him.
"He pretended to be the shrink."
Rose's eyes flashed with fury. "You did what?!"
"I just asked him some questions, that's all," James defended.
"About what?!" she hissed.
"You," Jack said with a smile.
"Can't you just go back into whatever hole you crawled out of?" James spat. He'd had enough of Jack's interfering. He felt a sudden pain to his shin, and realized Rose had just kicked him.
"Oi! Don't be such a prat. 'S not his fault you got caught! You're the one who decided to come here!" she said while glaring at him.
James snorted in derision. "I wouldn't have had to come here if you had just been honest with me instead of parading around some sniveling little man as this—this…"
"American Adonis?" Jack offered, but neither of them heard him as they were too focused on one another.
"Oh! OH! Don't you even dare lecture me about honesty!" Rose barked.
"This isn't about Reinette. This is-"
"Who's Reinette?" Jack inquired, cutting James off. He knew that his question would most likely further their escalation, but he reckoned the answer would help his own endgame.
"No one!" James snapped. His answer wasn't just to deflect Jack; it was how he genuinely felt. To James, Reinette was no one—even though he hadn't worked up the gall to tell her that.
"Can't be 'no one' if it has Rosie all fired up like this," Jack responded, giving her a long appreciative look.
"Quit leering at my wife, Harkness," James growled as a storm began to brew in his eyes once again.
Rose gave a brief look around her, before looking back at him and placing a hand on her chest.
"Oh, you mean me?" Rose said, her voice tinged with sarcasm. "For a minute, I thought Reinette had decided to join our little party."
Jack put his hand out into the middle of the table, as if calling a timeout. "Wait…Reinette's your wife? You have two wives? Huh…never would have pegged you as a polygamy sorta guy."
"I'm not," James growled at him. "It's just a little misunderstanding—one that I will be correcting."
"Oh yeah? When, James?" Rose scoffed, her harsh tone trying to hide the hurt in her heart. "Because you keep saying that, and still nothing…you've got two wives and I've got—"
"Me," Jack unexpectedly replied.
James snapped his eyes toward Jack, his fury brimming but not breaking.
"You have a death wish, Adam?" James snarled.
Jack just smirked at him, seemingly impervious to James and his escalating rage.
Rose finally turned and looked at Jack, frowning as she did so.
"Jack, this really isn't the time for jokes. I 'precia—"
"I wasn't joking, Rose," he said determinedly.
Her eyes widened as she realized his sincerity. He'd almost never called her Rose, only doing so when their circumstances had appeared bleak or serious. The fact that he was using it now—it was unsettling. The skies outside began to darken, appropriately mirroring the atmosphere around the three of them.
"What?!" Rose and James said in unison. She just sat there gobsmacked, her mouth slightly agape. James sat there gripping the edge of his seat, his knuckles white as he tried to restrain himself.
Jack moved his chair closer to Rose to where they were practically touching.
"I'm serious, Rosie. Pretty much from the moment I met you I felt something…and then spending those years with you, I—"
"Are you seriously declaring yourself to my wife? With me sitting right here?" James said, practically seething.
Jack turned his focus to the man in front of him, his eyes cold and challenging. "From what I just heard, you already have a wife…Rose is free to do what she wants. You seem to have made your decision. If you really cared about Rose, you would've taken care of it by now. Besides…I know how to take care of her—did it for three years. What she deserves is a real man—which you clearly are not!"
James' entire body locked in place. He clenched his jaw, muffling a growl. His eyes became almost inhumane with rage at this man. It wasn't that he was challenging his masculinity—it was the fact he was trying to take Rose, that he questioned his adoration of her, that his words had struck a mark. The weather outside began to intensify and thunder rumbled overhead, equaling the storm within him.
"Jack, don't say—," Rose started but James quickly cut her off.
"You're a real arrogant piece of work, you know that?" he snarled. "What makes you think you know anything about Rose, hmm? That you love her even a fraction of what I do? That y—"
"Well for starters, I wouldn't choose another woman over her," Jack bit back.
"I did not choose another woman over her! I'm trying to handle this the best way I can. I would never choose another woman over Rose. I'll always choose her. No question!"
Jack snorted in derision. "Really? Because Rose seems to question it, don't ya Rosie?" he said turning towards her.
It was then that both men suddenly realized Rose had managed to slip away during their argument. Without a word, they quickly stood up and rushed out the door after her. The clouds finally broke and the rain began to steadily fall. Fortunately, she hadn't gotten very far.
"Rose!" the two men called out in unison.
She turned around, strands of wet blonde hair clinging to her cheeks. She made eye contact with them but quickly turned around and resumed her trek away from them, traces of hurt and confusion evident. They sprinted to meet her, James reaching her first. He gently grabbed her arm, turning her towards him.
"Rose, you're practically soaked. C'mon…I'll—"
Jack grabbed her other arm. "Gwen doesn't live too far from here. I can take—"
"Hands. Off. My. Wife," James snapped.
"Which one?" Jack taunted.
Rose had had enough. She shook herself out of their grasps. "Stop it!" she shouted as another clap of thunder echoing across the sky. "Just stop! I'm not some piece of meat for you two to fight over. I don't need you to make decisions for me about who I should and shouldn't be with!"
She turned on her heel to leave but a passerby knocked into her, causing her to fumble backwards and her ankle to roll. She cried out in pain and landed hard on the pavement. Both men were at her side in an instant. James knelt beside her, taking her ankle in his hands and tenderly examining the muscles and feeling for any break. Though the rain had chilled her to the bone, it was James' touch that sent shivers throughout her. He looked up at her, their eyes locking and her breath hitching.
"Well, it's not broken. Do you think you can stand?" he asked softly, his words full of concern.
"I'm not sure," she said as she reached her arms out for assistance. Each man took hold of an arm, but as Rose put slight pressure on her foot, she felt a sharp pain radiate through her ankle. She cried out again and sank back to the ground.
"C'mere Rosie," Jack said and moved to lift her up again. James darted his hand out and grabbed his arm fiercely.
"Back. Off," he said, his tone broking no questions and conveying his territorial stance.
This time, Jack seemed somewhat apprehensive and he moved back from Rose. He quickly masked his uneasiness with a cocky grin.
"Ya know what, Doc? I'm gonna let you have this one. After all, you won't have her much longer."
James scowled at him, his rage at the brink. Jack leaned forward to kiss Rose's forehead. In one swift movement, James put an arm under her knees and lifted her into his arms. Instinctively, her arms wrapped around his neck.
Jack looked somewhat impressed at James' deceptive strength. He smirked, but his face softened as he looked at Rose.
"I'll be seeing you soon, Rosie," he said assuredly before turning and walking back to the tavern.
James looked down at her, her warm eyes looking up at him with intense love but also marred with sadness. It was the latter that pierced his heart.
I have to fix this…now
He pulled her closer to him, both of then soaked through and chilled. He pressed a kiss into her wet locks.
"Let's go home."