Rating: PG (for Captain Jack Harkness-ness)
Characters: Rose, Nine, Jack
Word count: 2800ish
Summary: When the TARDIS malfuctions, the trio finds out that it's hard to talk your way out of something when you don't speak the language.
Author's notes: Once upon a time a few monthes ago, joonscribble gave me the prompt of 'A DW fic with Nine, Rose, and Jack. Involving the TARDIS automatic language translation program going wrong.' When I am feeling ill, I tend to get very creative and suddenly this fic was finished. Hopefully it makes sense to other people besides me. Thanks to the people at dw_britglish, who helped me find the right words.
“We have to stop meeting like this,” Jack said, grinning down at her.
Rose rolled her eyes. He’d fallen on her, ostensibly to ‘protect’ her as the TARDIS made another crash landing. It was the fifth one in a row and Rose was starting to feel travel sick.
“You gonna get offa me?” she snapped.
“Not ‘til I’m sure we’re staying put,” he replied. He turned serious, a mock serious that he couldn’t hold in his eyes. “You might get hurt.”
Rose shifted her knee slightly. “So might you, f’you don’t move it.”
He raised his eyebrows and grinned that dazzling, amazing grin of his that made her insides melt.. She rolled her eyes again, but couldn’t help smiling. Then she was laughing and then the both of them were laughing and she wasn’t sure why. Something to do with the giddiness of being flung around a time ship over and over again.
“’Scuse me.” The Doctor coughed from behind the console, pointedly. “You two gonna get up and help me or do I have to do all the work myself?”
Jack leapt to his feet and snapped to attention as though a commanding officer had entered the room. Rose just giggled on the floor and waved a useless hand. Jack managed to keep serious for a few seconds before he started to laugh again as well.
“What do you want us to do?” Rose asked, in between giggles. “You never let me touch anything, anyway.”
“Jack,” The Doctor said, ignoring Rose in favour of someone slightly more in control. Jack still stood at attention despite his laughter. “Turn the crank there. Something’s throwin’ us off. I’m going to try and boost the power to get us past it.”
Jack stepped over Rose and obediently turned the crank when commanded. This time the heaving sent all of them off their feet, even the Doctor, who tended to keep his footing like an experienced sailor in a storm. Jack landed in a heap beside her and the Doctor was on his arse not far away.
“This reminds me –” Jack began.
“Something’s wrong,” the Doctor interrupted. The seriousness of his tone stopped Jack’s no doubt bawdy tale in its tracks. The Doctor got to his feet and patted the console. “I won’t do it again, sweetheart. Xxx xxx xxx xxx.”
“What?” Rose asked, unsure of the last part of what he said.
“Xxx xxx xxx xxx,” The Doctor said.
It was a funny sound coming from his mouth – foreign words but not just words. Almost like music that buzzed in her head, with syllables that made his tongue sound like it was dancing. She exchanged a look with Jack, who seemed to agree that it wasn’t understandable.
“Xxxx?” The Doctor asked, looking between them. “Xxxx xxx xxx xxx?”
“You’re not speakin’ English, Doctor,” Rose said.
“Xxxxxx xxx xxx,” he said, in a scoffing tone.
“You’re not,” Jack agreed. “You aren’t speaking English.”
The Doctor furrowed his brow and looked to the TARDIS console for a moment, then he clicked his fingers at it excitedly a few times.
“Xxx xxx xxx xxx!” he exclaimed. He held up a finger to Rose and Jack, indicating to give him a second. “Xxx xxxing...to xxxx ...xxxx myself xxxx not xxxing.” He closed his eyes for a moment and then opened them. “DO. YOU. UNDERSTAND. ME?”
“YES. I. DO,” Rose replied, matching his patronizing and loud tone. “What was that?”
“The translator’s malfunctioning,” the Doctor said, looking at the console again. He gave it a soothing pat, before beginning to move around, pushing buttons. “Something’s blocking it. Something’s blocking everything...”
“So, you don’t speak English, when you’re speaking to us, normally?” Rose asked.
“’Course not. Not all the time. All the stuff going on in my incredible brain, 5 billion languages, d’you think that I’m going to waste some of that space on trying to translate?” He said. “Plus, English. Bloody ridiculous language. Borrowing and stealing words from all the others, stalking them down dark alleys to rifle through their pockets. No, thank you.”
“Oi!” Rose objected.
“Hey!” Jack said, at the same time.
The Doctor dismissed them with an impatient wave of his hand. “Bigger problems, thanks.”
“You don’t sound right,” Rose said. “Your accent is funny.”
“What’s wrong with it?” the Doctor asked, looking down at his jacket as though there was something physically wrong.
“Nofink, you just don’t sound like yourself,” Rose said.
The Doctor shrugged and went back to work. “There’s something blocking us,” he said. “We’ve only moved adjacently in the vortex, instead of linearly.”
“Okay, that sounds like you,” Rose said. “What does that mean?”
“We’re moving sideways instead of forward or back,” Jack said. He held up one hand and moved the other around it in demonstration. “We want to go here – forward in time. Instead, we’ve moved sideways – here. So, instead of going from, say 2000 to 3040, we can only move from here in 2000 to there in 2000. It’s kind of like trying to get out of a relationship and then ending up sleeping with her sister. Or brother. Or both.”
“Oh that’s just...” the Doctor began. “Well, not bad actually. Good for you.” Jack beamed. “This -” he tapped the screen. “This is bad. It’s gotta be something big to block us. Massive. Riesig. Bol’shoj. Enorme.”
He started to push more buttons, nattering away in the funny language again. Rose was about to remind him that they couldn’t understand it but she realized it wasn’t directed at them. He was speaking to the TARDIS, encouraging it along. Jack went up beside him observe over his shoulder and Rose joined them, not to be left out even if she couldn’t understand what was going on.
“What’s with the swirly-dos?” Rose asked, pointing to several circles dancing along the screen.
“Words,” the Doctor said. He pushed her hand away impatiently.
“He’s trying to locate the source of the energy that’s blocking us and get the TARDIS to go there,” Jack said.
“You can read that?” Rose asked.
“No, but I can see his fingers on the keys,” Jack said.
Rose tried not to look impressed. Jack didn’t need any help feeling like he was impressive. She watched the Doctor’s face as he typed, noting that it was furrowed in that sad way it got sometimes. Usually when he spoke about his planet or the War that destroyed it.
“You okay?” she asked. She touched his shoulder, gently and he brought his hand up to cover hers, giving it a pat.
“Sure,” he said. He smiled at her, lopsided. “M’always alright, me. What’s life without a few speed bumps?”
“Not ours,” Rose replied.
He grinned. “Atta girl.”
“Hey, I think I’ve got it,” Jack said. He shoved his watch in the Doctor’s face. “See? The point of origin?”
The Doctor looked at it boss-eyed. “You sure?”
“It’s not a TARDIS,” Jack said. “But it’s done me well so far. Except for that one time it got me lost on Dextrel 5. Walked right into the - “
“Good enough for me,” The Doctor interrupted. He held Jack’s hand where he could see it and typed something on the keyboard. “Alright, girl. Just a little trip. Then we’ll fix you up. You might want to hold onto something.”
There wasn’t time to take his advice before Rose was knocked off her feet again. This time she managed to grab hold of one of the railings before she fell. She suddenly understood why they were padded. Jack’s version of holding on to something seemed to be grabbing the Doctor around the waist. Rose clung on as the TARDIS jolted and bumped and whirled around, feeling a little like she was on a Waltzer at a funfair.
Finally the crashing stopped and her legs went to jelly beneath her. Jack caught her under the arms before she hit the floor. Both men seemed unaffected by the jolting.
“If you’re going to be sick, go outside,” The Doctor ordered.
“Right,” Rose said, weakly.
The Doctor turned, suddenly concerned. “You aren’t going to be sick, are you?”
Rose swallowed and then forced a smile. “Nah. M’good. Are we there?”
“We’re there,” Jack confirmed.
He hoisted her back onto her feet and made sure she was steady before he let go. The Doctor offered his hand, as usual. Rose always assumed time traveling employed the buddy system, just like going swimming or on a school trip. She took hold of it and they went to the door, Jack a step behind. He grabbed his greatcoat off the coat rack as they left.
There was always a spark of excitement Rose got just before the TARDIS doors opened. It came with the knowledge that there could be anything in the universe on the other side. She squeezed the Doctor’s hand and stepped out after him into the unknown.
“You are bloody useless when you can’t talk, y’know?” Rose snapped at the Doctor, fifteen minutes later.
The Doctor looked somewhat sheepish and squirmed against the ropes that tied him to a pole next to her own. Jack was tied to one next to The Doctor and a large crowd of townspeople were gathered before them, staring up in wonder.
Rose felt like she was in some bad sci-fi movie about clones taking over the world. Every person looked almost exactly alike. They were of various ages, or heights at least, but their colouring and features were almost identical. They all had pale white skin, long pale blonde hair and silvery pale blue eyes.
Despite that fact that the whole race seemed to be preternaturally beautiful, Rose noticed that many of them were checking out Jack. She supposed she shouldn’t be surprised that even the genetically perfect found him attractive.
“Five billion languages, huh?” Jack asked, through the large smile he was aiming at the crowd.
“That may have been a slight exaggeration,” The Doctor admitted. “’Sides, you weren’t much help, either, flirting with the princess.”
“How was I supposed to know she was a princess?”
“She had on a crown!” Rose and the Doctor said, in unison.
Jack shrugged as much as he could all tied-up. “It could have been an accessory.”
A tall, very pretty man was on the platform, ranting angrily at them. Being unable to understand him, Rose made up her own dialogue for the rant. She suspected it went something like ‘who are you and why are you here? What makes you think you can just waltz in with a bloody blue box and have your sinfully handsome man play catch with our little clone-like children and smile at our princess?’
“They look like elves,” Rose said, as she waited for the speech to be over. “Y’know, like the ones from Lothlorien in The Lord of the Rings movies?” Mickey had dragged her to see them all and had forced all the Extended Editions on her too.
”Savoh det!” The pretty man shouted.
”Swah!” the crowd shouted back.
“They don’t have pointy ears though,” she continued. She looked over to the Doctor. “Are you listening?”
“Not really,” the Doctor said, absently.
He had his head craned back to look at the sky, which was full of small meteors. They crashed into the large forcefield that domed over the town. He had surmised that the forcefield was what was throwing the TARDIS off. ‘One in a kabillion chance’, he’d said. It was their attempt to investigate the forcefield that got them arrested and nothing the Doctor could say helped a bit. Mostly because nothing the Doctor said to them made sense. Rose had done her best ‘talking to stupid customers’ routine, which she’d honed when she was a shopgirl, but that didn’t help either.
“Well, it doesn’t matter,” Rose told him. “If you were listening, you’d probably just say something like you and Tolkien go way back and he based his elves on this race of people.”
“Don’t be daft,” The Doctor said. “Tolkien and I never came here. Looks like the storm is calming down.”
“You’re thinking once the storm is over the shields will go down?” Jack asked. Rose marveled at his ability to talk coherently through his smile.
“Hope so,” the Doctor said. “S’a lot of energy to keep them goin’ all the time.”
“Hope it’ll happen before they kill us,” Jack said.
It turned out that waiting for one’s pre-execution speech to be over was very boring. Rose found herself daydreaming, thinking about what she’d like to eat and if they could stop for chips. If they weren’t killed, of course. Being killed would probably put a damper on the chips idea.
“S’kinda fun,” The Doctor said. She glared at him. “Well, it’s just like olden times. Your ancestors, going out to see the New World, messing about with the locals, learning the customs, getting into trouble. It’s tradition!”
“They can’t be my ancestors, if they got killed,” she pointed out.
“Where’s your spirit of adventure?” the Doctor said.
“I left it in the TARDIS,” she said. “Jack, you can’t be finding this fun.”
“It’s not the first time I’ve been tied up,” Jack said. “Nor the last, I hope.”
Rose rolled her eyes and went back to thinking about chips. The man continued to drone and drone, until there was a large sucking sound, which didn’t seem to bother any of the locals. The Doctor and Jack both looked up, so Rose did too.
“Storm’s over,” the Doctor said.
“Shield’s down,” Jack added.
“Which means?” Rose asked.
“And so, I say the prophecy has come to pass!” The pretty man shouted. He suddenly had a rather posh accent and spoke in perfect English. “Strangers from the Blue will come and you shall know them by hissing of their tongues!”
Rose perked up. “Was that?”
“It was!” Jack agreed. “Hey, you, pretty boy!”
The crowd gasped and began to chatter to each other, nervously. The man making the speech turned very white. The girl with the crown, who was being guarded at the back of the crowd, found her escorts tightening up around her. She strained on her tip-toes to keep an eye on Jack.
“Yes, you. If you’re all done with your little dissertation,” the Doctor said. “D’ya mind untying us and letting us go? We’re very important and busy people.”
“Places to be,” Rose said.
“People to do,” Jack added.
“In a peaceful, non-threatening fashion, of course,” the Doctor said.
“By the Great Falling Stars!” The man gasped. “It’s you!”
“Nah,” the Doctor said. “Easy mistake. I do look like me, me. Happens all the time.”
“The one from the Box! The one who speaks with our tongue! ‘And he shall be flanked by two companions, terrible in their beauty.’”
“That sounds like us,” Jack said.
“We must untie them at once!” The man cried.
“Definitely us,” Rose agreed.
The crowd cheered as the man cut off the ropes binding them. The three companions had a quick group hug before the Doctor turned to the man.
“You, what’s your name?” he demanded.
“Sahn,” he said.
“Well, Sahn, you should work on your people skills,” he said. “Your tourism is going to suffer if you keep tying people up when they come for a little visit.”
“Forgive me,” Sahn said. “I thought you were the ones from the prophecy. The ones from the Blue who would destroy us!”
“So, let me get this straight,” Jack said. “You have one prophecy saying that three people in a blue box would destroy you and another prophecy saying that three people in a blue box would...not destroy you?”
“Sounds like someone was preparing for all possible contingencies,” Jack said.
“Can we go now?” Rose asked. “Not that it hasn’t been fun. I enjoy being tied up like Joan of Arc as much as the next girl, but I am starving and I don’t much like people who try to kill me.”
“Agreed,” the Doctor said.
The three of them made their way off the platform and down into the crowd, which parted as they approached. They fell in behind them as the Doctor, Rose and Jack headed back to the TARDIS.
“Wait!” Sahn called, as the Doctor opened the door. “The Man in the Box is supposed to offer us wisdom for the future.”
The Doctor turned back. “Right. Um...always wash behind your ears, never take any wooden nickels and don’t eat anything bigger than your head.”
The crowd murmured the words to each other reverently. The Doctor rolled his eyes and went into the TARDIS. Rose went in next. Jack paused before following her.
“And, most importantly,” he said, with a wink to the girl with the crown. “Call me!”