Toshiko backed away. There was something new about this boy she'd been talking to only moments before. His eyes shown as he stared forward, an excited grin across his face.
"Oh, yes," Jack said so quietly that she leaned in to hear him. "Yes!" he shouted, making her jump. He jumped to his feet, cracking his neck to one side. There was a scuffling sound outside as the guards heard him, running down to hallway to capture the escaped prisoners.
"Jack! The guards!" Toshiko gasped.
"Not a problem," he said, waving her off. He flipped around and slid his hand across the door. A large screen appeared in front of him, and his finger flew over, typing madly at holographic buttons. There was a loud clank as the door sealed itself, and guards pounded angrily at the outside of it, growling fiercely.
"Ha!" he laughed, spinning on his heel and running to the small globe on the pedestal.
"What's happening?" Toshiko asked, taking a step back from him.
"Time Lord consciousness," he said, tapping himself on the forehead and talking far too quickly. "Compared to the stuff I just learned to use, this technology is downright primitive. It's like learning how to fly a plane, and then being downgraded to a bike. Slightly different, a bit similar as far as both of them being transportation, but ultimately easier to master once you've learned the harder one. Oh! I made an analogy," he grinned, "isn't that fun? Never done that before. Didn't know what an analogy was before, I think. Didn't know a lot of things before, but hey, that's to be expected with a fairly regular human mind, not that I mind humans, you understand. Mum's a human, I'm part human, and you all seem to be a lovely species. I think I'm rambling. Am I rambling? Brilliant, the Doctor seems to make his best decision when he's rambling. Now tell me, Shestich Mainframe, how long do we have left in that countdown?"
Information: 1:13 until Mass Teleportation
"Ah, it's Christmas!" Jack clapped his hands once. "Love a ticking clock, much more dramatic. Plus they help me sleep, but that's another story." He ran his fingers from under the globe, and then moved them in a tight circle on the top. A screen shot up out of the globe, flickering to life in front of him.
"How did you do that?" Toshiko asked.
"This little globe here is a direct line to the Mainframe Computer, I just moved the screen to this room. I should be able to access everything from here. Sounds like a bit of Deus Ex Machina if you ask me, but I suppose it makes sense. They want to be able to access the countdown from any Mass Teleportation room. Now we get to use that against them."
"The countdown has already started, though," Toshiko said. "It said we can't stop it."
"Don't need to," Jack grinned, working away at the screen. "In fact, I'm glad they've started it. All we have to do is change the template. Right now it's set to human but—" Jack stopped talking and let out a shriek, grabbing his temples and falling to the ground.
"Jack!" Toshiko yelled. "What's wrong?"
"Oh, nothing," he shrugged, pulling himself back up the pedestal. "I'm just burning out my brain. It's a bit painful."
"Your brain is burning?" she asked incredulously.
"Too much mind, not enough grey matter," he said, rubbing his eyes. He finished typing and spun the screen back into the ball. "How much time?" he asked.
Information: Twelve, eleven, ten, nine, eight…
"Oh! One last thing!" Jack said quickly, pulling the screen back up and dragging his fingers down the screen. "We better lower the voltage a bit. No genocide, not today."
"What did you do?"
He grinned. "They set the template to human, and broadcast the teleportation field all around Earth's orbit. All I did was change the species that the field is set to abduct. Instead of grabbing humans in Earth's orbit and sending them to this room, and the other's like it, it's set to grab the Shestich."
Information: Three, two, one… Mass Teleportation activated.
There was a blinding light as every Shestich aboard the ship was teleported into the room. As soon as their scaly feet touched down on each tile there was a loud zap, a bolt of electricity just powerful enough to knock them out. They fell by the scores, dropping their guns and other weapons.
"Ha!" Jack laughed. "A thousand Shestich, packaged and ready to be picked up by the Shadow Proclamation." He winced suddenly, grabbing onto the pedestal to keep his balance. His hands were shaking, and his vision was a bit blurry. He looked at the globe again. "Toshiko, can I ask you a favor?"
She was still in awe, looking at the unconscious forms of the aliens all around them. "Yes. What can I get you?"
"May I borrow your phone?" he asked. "I need to make a call."
"Of course," she said, laying her cell phone in his hand.
He slapped his hand against the door and it slid up. "Find the Mainframe. There's no one else on the ship but us. The Shadow proclamation should have no need for this ship or the weapons on it—we'll deliver the prisoners, but nothing else. Set the ship to self-destruct, and set the timer for a full day, just to be safe. It should be pretty easy, especially for someone as sharp as you," he smiled.
She paused at the door, looking back at him. "Will you be okay?"
"Yeah, don't worry about me," he said, smiling grimly. "I think the worst is over."
Toshiko smiled and kissed him on the cheek. "Thank you. Just in case no one else remembers to say that—thank you for saving the Earth, even though it hurt."
"Always," he promised. "It's in my blood."
He closed the door after her, pulling up the screen one last time. If Toshiko, working by herself, could send a message, then he would be able to go a step farther. He had to see them one last time.
"Come on, come on!" The Doctor said, pounding at the console. Rose hovered over his shoulder, crossing her fingers. There was a loud ding and he let out a whoop of triumph. He stated the engine, and the TARDIS began to lurch into motion.
"Is that it?" Rose asked. "Can we break the cloak and get on the ship?"
"I boosted the engine and set the coordinates—there will be some damage after the trip, but nothing I can't fix later. Let's go get him!" he said happily.
"There's not enough time," Captain Jack said woodenly. "It's hit zero. The countdown has just hit zero."
The Doctor took the screen, looking at the blinking zeros in front of him. He ran to the doors, and popped his head out into the Torchwood Hub. Ianto was sitting at a desk, still sipping his coffee.
"Hi," the Doctor said simply.
"Um, hi," Ianto said a bit awkwardly. "Is there something I can help with?"
"Nah, but could you just tell me; did anything happen just now?"
"Happen? Like what?"
"Uh, no bright lights, no headaches, you didn't pop out of the universe or find yourself teleported to an alien ship orbiting Earth?"
"…No. I don't think anything like that happened. I'm just drinking coffee. Should something like that have happened?"
"Let me get back to you on that," the Doctor said, heading back to the console. "It didn't do anything. The countdown ended, but nothing happened. This doesn't make any sense. The Shestich said they were going to do something big."
"Captain!" Ianto called from outside. "There's something on that screen you set up!"
The three of them ran out of the TARDIS, but Rose saw it first. There, on the screen they'd used to speak to the Shestcih, was the smiling face of Jack Tyler.
"Jack!" she cried, pressing her hands against the screen "Your cheek if bruised! Did they hurt you?"
"It's just a scratch, Mum," he promised.
"What happened up there? Why would they let you call us? Where are the Shestich?" the Doctor asked.
"I stopped them. They tried to teleport all the humans up here to kill them, and I stopped them."
Rose let out a sob her tears rolling over her proud smile. "Of course you did. You're just like your father."
The Doctor was not smiling. "How? How did you do that?"
"They're alive. They're up here, waiting to be picked up. Make sure you send a message to the Shadow Proclamation to pick them up within twelve hours, it'll be safest. The ship is being set to self-destruct. Captain, Toshiko Sato is safe. My parents will pick her up for you."
The Captain sighed in relief. "Thank you."
"Answer my question," the Doctor said quietly. "How did you know how to stop them?"
"Does it matter? He saved us all," Rose asked cheerfully. She saw the Doctor's expression and she smile faded. "What's wrong?"
"He couldn't have stopped them, not as a human," the Doctor said. "Tell me, Jack."
"I…I had to," Jack said quietly. "You would have done it. I pushed over the wall, and I thought of a way to stop them. I would do it again."
"What?" Rose cried. "Put it back up! Jack, put the wall back up!"
"I can't," Jack said. "It's too late. I don't have much time."
"What?" she asked again. "No! Jack, do something! Doctor, do something!"
"He's right," the Doctor said, with a bit of a catch in his voice. Rose looked at him. He was crying. Her Doctor was crying. "It's definitely been over a minute. The wall's been down too long."
"Mum?" Jack asked.
"No," Rose sobbed through her tears, touching the screen, "there has to be a way."
"Mum, I love you," Jack said, one tear leaving his own eyes. "I haven't been able to say that yet, but I want you to know. I had a wonderful time with you. I was born scared and afraid, but you fixed me so quickly. I was so happy, even if it was for a short time. Never feel sorry for me, I was so lucky to have you. You were fantastic."
Rose cried against the screen. "I love you, Jack. Please don't do this, please."
Jack looked away from his mother, and his eyes fell on the Doctor. "Dad."
The Doctor winced. Rubbing his hands over his eyes.
"Dad," Jack said again. "I love you, too. This isn't your fault, it was my choice, okay? I decided to do this. I knew the consequences. You did not force me into anything."
"I forced you to be born," the Doctor spat. "All of this is on me, don't try to make it better."
"What would be the alternative?" Jack asked. "Would you have rather me never been born. Would you rather I never have seen this world, or known any part of this universe? I was lucky to see what I did."
"It's not enough," the Doctor said. "There is so much out there, Jack, so much that you'll never see."
"You tried. You tried your best, and I still turned out okay, I think," Jack smiled. "Saved the earth at a day old, not bad I'd say."
"I love you, Jack," the Doctor said, a catch in his throat.
"Goodbye. Thank you both. Tell Gran I thought about her, too," Jack said moving to turn off the screen. Just as his hand was about to reach the control, he gasped, falling to the floor, out of their eyesight, and letting out a scream.
"Come on!" the Doctor said, pulling Rose away from the screen and into the TARDIS.
"He's dying!" Rose cried, grabbing his arm.
"I know, hold on," the Doctor said, pulling back the lever to send the TARDIS rocketing toward the Shestich ship.
The TARDIS materialized inside of the Shestich ship, and Rose was immediately out the doors, looking wildly up and down the vast hallways. The Doctor was inches behind her, pulling open random doors and looking inside. Toshiko Sato peaked her head out of one of them, and Rose immediately caught her attention.
"Where's my son!?" Rose yelled.
Toshiko pointed at a door down the hall. "Arrival Room 245."
Rose ran to the door, banging on the outside of it. "Jack? Can you hear me?"
The Doctor pulled out his sonic screwdriver and the door slid open. Jack was lying on the floor in front of a globe on a pedestal. His eyes were closed. He was not moving.
"No," Rose said, dropping to the ground and pulling his head to her knees. The Doctor knelt with her, feeling at Jack's neck and wrists. He scanned his body with the sonic, then sighed setting it back in his jacket.
"I'm sorry, Rose," he whispered, pulling her close to him, pressing his lips against her scalp. "We're too late."
"We can't be," Rose whispered back. "He was alone. He was all alone in this room—he can't just die like that."
"I'm so, so, sorry," he said, petting her hair. "It was fairly quick. He was in a bit of pain when he was talking to us, but after that it would have only taken seconds."
Rose stared at her son, his beautiful eyes closed, and his cheerful face blank. "No," she said simply.
"What?" he asked.
"No!" she screeched. She hopped to her feet, grabbing Jack's shoulders and dragging him from the room.
"Rose? What are you doing? I'm sorry, it's too late," he said following after her.
She ignored him, pulling Jack through the doors and into the TARDIS too quickly for the Doctor to help her. She drug him to the middle of the room, laying him out on the floor. "There you go, Baby," she said brushing her hand through his hair and kissing him on the forehead. "I've brought you home."
They sat in silence for a long time, and then the Doctor laid his hand on her back. "Rose…."
"Just wait," she whispered. She laid on the floor, laying her head on Jack's chest, over his un-beating heart. "Just wait."
The Doctor watched her sadly, trying not to look at Jack's body. His eyes involuntarily flickered over the boy's hand.
Jack's fingertips glowed a dull orange, and the got brighter.
The Doctor grabbed Rose and pulled her back. "Doctor, I want to stay with him—" she started.
"No, stay back, Rose. He's regenerating."