Fandom: Doctor Who
Characters: The Doctor, Mickey Smith, Jack Harkness, Rose Tyler
Date Written: October 2006
Timeline: Somewhere between “The Girl in the Fireplace” and “Rise of the Cybermen”.
Word Count: 6,995
Disclaimer: The characters of Doctor Who do not belong to me. They belong to BBC and whoever else owns them. I’m just borrowing them for a little fun. Although I did as much research as I could on the time period being used in this fic, any corrections to anything I may have gotten wrong would still be appreciated.
Dedication: I don’t usually do this, but this one’s for barbiejedi for convincing me to do this and making me write my longest fic in ages.
Summary: On a trip to ancient Rome, Mickey and the Doctor meet a phallic god, old friend, and some very hungry flesh eating aliens.
“Well, here it is, Mickey Smith. Rome, anno Domini 79, Titus of the Flavians currently sits on the throne as emperor and Vesuvius just blew her top, oh, say one – two – months ago and the smell of late autumn is in the air.”
With a jolly grin on his face, the Doctor stepped out of the TARDIS and inhaled deeply. “Just smell that--” A loud cough interrupted him, followed by a rather unseemly choking-sputtering sound and an animated grimace. “Oh, liquamen. Yep, forgot about that.”
By this point, Mickey had followed him outside of the time ship, closing the door of the conspicuous blue police box now standing on the corner of a side street in ancient Rome, when only moments earlier, it had been in twenty-first century London. He stood awkwardly, pulling at the skirt of his woolen tunic and shuffling from foot to foot.
“Why are we wearin’ these things again?” Mickey asked, staring down at his own bare legs.
The question came out more like a whine than anything. A dress that came up to mid-thigh was not his idea of fun. The Doctor had it easy. He was dressed in a full-length white tunic with a purple stripe down the side instead of the itchy tunic Mickey had. It wasn’t fair.
The Doctor swirled around, walking back to Mickey from inspecting a nearby graffito on the wall next to the TARDIS. He placed his glasses back into a pouch hanging off of his toga and chuckled. “Live a little, Mickey! Can’t very well be walking around in a crowd in first century Rome wearing jumpers and trousers, can we?”
“But I don’t have any underwear on!”
“Good thing Rose isn’t here then, eh?” He patted Mickey on the back and then began to walk off in the direction of the liquamen odor. “Oh, buck up. You’re in Roma, capital of the Mediterranean, home of some of the most innovative human beings to ever walk this Earth. Well, except for the revival of the New Roman Empire in the late 31st century. And when in Rome…”
Mickey frowned, grumbling to himself as he walked away from his one link back to his time to follow the Doctor to god knew what. “Rose had the right idea. ‘Fancy a trip to ancient Rome, Rickey? Eh, Rickey?’” He signed. “I knew I shoulda stayed with Rose. I want my bloody underwear.”
A crowd had begun gathering around the Rostra in the Roman Forum, even since half past seven. It was loud and noisy and not at all an unusual site for a late Tuesday afternoon in the heart of the Roman empire. Men and women of all social classes stood there, watching the platform next to the Curia wide eyed and clamoring away in the crowd. Even from meters away, the overwhelming stench of those who hadn’t been to the public baths for weeks could be discerned. But the crowd didn’t notice, nor did anyone seem to care.
A pair of boys ran through the outskirts of the crowd, engrossed in their game of gladiators until a loud scream caught their attention. The scream also caught the attention of two passing time travelers, as one of the men babbled eagerly to his bored companion.
“He did it!” came the shrill and loud voice of some over-excited man. “By Jove, he actually did it!”
“Don’t you mean ‘by Priapus’?” another member of the crowd shouted.
The Doctor’s head perked up and he grinned – no beamed – at Mickey. Mickey had seen that expression before, and it never seemed to result to any good. For not the first time since they arrived in this decade, Mickey had wished that he had stayed in the Estates for a quick visit home.
“Well, what do you say?” From the twinkle in the Timelord’s eye, Mickey knew he had no say. “Fancy taking a look at all the commotion over there?”
“Not really,” Mickey replied, giving a wary look at the crowd. Too many bare legs and men in dresses for his taste. Not to mention all those shouts and screams of 'Priapus!' and flying and other things not quite as discernable to his ears. “Who’s this Priapus bloke they’re all excited about, anyway?”
“Oh Mickey.” The Doctor shook his head, still grinning like a fanatic. “Mickey, Mickey, Mickey. Mickey Smith, didn’t you learn anything to get those A-levels of yours?”
“Hey! I know jus-”
“Course you don’t,” the Doctor interrupted. “Never teach you anything in those schools do they? Anything worth learning, anyway.” He paused for a moment and shook his head again. “Not like you’d be the one to ask.”
“Hey!” Mickey protested both that remark, and this tiny dog that had taken a sudden fondness of his leg. This just wasn’t fair.
“Now where was I?” He had completely ignored Mickey, holding a finger up as he thought. “Ah, yes. Priapus! Roman god of fertility. Known most commonly to make things rise. All sorts of things, really. But I wonder what his cults are doing here – usually they’re more commonly found worshiping at bakeries or in bedrooms…”
Mickey stared blankly at the Doctor. “…bakeries?”
“He makes things rise, Mickey. Makes things rise,” the Doctor emphasized, raising his hands in an upward gesture. “And not just phalluses, y’know. Although I’ve seen quite a collection of them in this one art gallery on Tega Prime – ones with wings, this one little dwarf… But yeah, where was I? Oh, yes. It’s anything; bread too.”
“Oh great.” Mickey groaned. “First togas, then rotting fish paste, now flying dicks? You bein’ serious here?”
“Correctomundo!” He grinned brightly and then frowned, scratching at his chin. “A word I’ll never use again…well, again.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Mickey muttered, rolling his eyes and sighing. But his words fell on deaf ears, as the Doctor had already begun to make his way to the crowd. Mickey kicked the stray dog away, pulled down at the tunic, and started to chase after him. “Hey! Wait for me!”
When Mickey finally caught up with the Doctor, he was standing near the edge of the mob, talking with a couple of kids. The Doctor reached into his pouch and pulled out a few foreign looking coins. He then swapped them for the wooden sword the dark haired boy carried. Satisfied with the exchange, the Timelord mused up the kids’ hair and sent them along their merry way.
“Here. Souvenir for Rose,” he said, tossing the sword to Mickey when he was in close enough range. “She didn’t get any last time we were here.”
“What’s she gonna do with something like – hey, wait! Why do I have to carry it?”
“Someone’s got to play manservant,” the Doctor replied nonchalantly, nodding to Mickey’s tunic and pushing his way through the crowd with many a ‘pardon me.’ “And you’re the one dressed for the role here.”
It took a moment for Mickey to process that. No wonder there was a difference in the clothing! “Oy! First I’m the tin dog, and now I’m a bloody slave. Whatever happened to bein’ politically correct, eh?”
The Doctor stopped for a moment to look at him. “It’s the first century, Mickey. Politically correct hasn’t even been invented yet.”
“Oy,” Mickey repeated, nearly bumping in to an elderly man that bore a striking resemblance to his mate Nick’s father. As he followed the Doctor through the crowd, he stuck the sword into his belt. If he was going to carry this, he may as well look as manly and intimidating as possible.
“Blimey!” the Doctor said loudly, earning the glare of the last man he had pushed aside to make his way to the front of the crowd. “It’s Jack!”
He turned to grin at Mickey, who had been apologizing to the disgruntled Roman the Doctor had offended. “Shame Rose isn’t here,” the Doctor continued, “or it would jus’ be one ole reunion. Again – well, never mind that. ‘s not important, but if she were here…shame really, after our last trip to Rome, she really didn’t want to come back. Doesn’t know what she’s missing. It’s fantastic!”
“Yeah, you’d call it that,” Mickey replied dryly, putting his hand on the hilt of the wooden sword. His eyes quickly became fixated on a stature of a certain fifty-first century man; chin up with an arrogant grin. His face wrinkled up in a disgusted grin. “Him? Why’d someone make a statue of him?”
“Impressive, really,” the Doctor replied, admiring the details of the marble carving. He nudged Mickey to look towards a chair set up on the platform.
Sure enough, it was Captain Jack Harkness seated in a throne-like chair at the base of the Rostra. He was donned in an elaborate faux purple toga with gold hemming, and an equally elaborate olive leaf wreath sat on his head. One hand held a scepter and Jack wore a smile as haughty as the one on his statue.
Elsewhere on the podium stood an average looking man in his late thirties. Mickey and the Doctor watched as the man gestured to Jack and then engaged the crowd in his narration. “But he speaks the truth! This man does channel the god Priapus. My bread business speaks of the proof!”
“Don’t you mean that your business with your mistress?” someone in the crowd shouted, inciting a riot of laughter.
“What’s he doing here, anyway?” Mickey hissed, as he looked at the Doctor. “Thought Rose said you two kept him in that future place.”
“Satellite 9, Mickey,” the Doctor corrected, shaking his head at him. The look of disappointment only lasted for a few seconds before another bright grin took its place. “Mickey Smith, I think it’s about time you meet Priapus.”
Mickey stared at the Doctor. “Fat lot it’s any of your business – oy! I’ve had plenty just so you know!” Then the realization slowly dawned on him. “Oh my god, you’re going to make me a eunuch, aren’t you?”
“Righty-o!” The Doctor wrinkled his noise and smacked his lips together as if tasting the word. “No, never using that one again either.”
Mickey ignored him, staring up at Jack – now being praised by a head priest or something, a man exceptionally wrinkly and short – with disgust. “First the bloody tin dog, and now a eunuch. Great, just great.”
“Look, even gods need a break sometime,” Jack protested as the wrinkly bald priest in the white toga ushered two more clients inside. The room was small, dark, dank, and smelled like something had recently died in there. It wasn’t exactly the sort of place you would expect to find a god, but then again, the tribute had only just started to poor in. And Jack really had no complaint when it came to those two slave girls flanking him with their large peacock feather fans on either side.
“Last two, get it? Then this god here has to see this newlywed couple about making something,” he said and chuckled, “or should I say…make things rise?”
“Yes sir,” a second priest replied, also dressed like the first and bald. Unlike the other man, he wasn’t nearly as wrinkly, and slightly taller in stature. “Last clients.”
“Lucky us, eh, Mickey?” said Client Number 1.
“Yeah, lucky us,” the other client said under his breath. “You’re not the one playing eunuch.”
“Now Mickey, being a eunuch is a highly prized position popular among the universe – or maybe that’s just the people of Begotta Prime.”
“Actually, the people of Begotta Prime tend to idolize their mimes more,” Jack corrected, shifting his position on the chair to hang his legs off the arm. He had caught the tail end of his clients’ conversation. “I’m guessing you’re not from around here.”
“Nonsense!” Client 1 grinned wickedly. “I’m the Doctor and this here is Mickus…uh, Smitus.”
The response only earned a jab in the ribs as the Doctor gestured with a nod to the priests and slave girls still in the room. Mickey’s face creased in pain and he rubbed at his side. The Doctor didn’t care though; he didn’t know who these priests were or why they were in cahoots with Jack, but there was no need to let the cover slip just yet.
“This man,” the wrinkly priest said, pointing to the Doctor, “brought a slave for breeding purposes, only to discover that the slave was a eunuch instead.”
Jack winced in sympathy, but that still didn’t get rid of the hint of nervousness on his face. He waved a hand in dismissal and shrugged. “Hey, there are some things that even the great god Priapus can’t even help you with. Sucks to be you, kid, so why don’t you just play nice, run home, and call it a day?”
But the Doctor wasn’t one to be scared away that easily. Not at the least by Jack.
“At least favor us with a private audience with his worshipfulness, Priapus Jackus,” the Doctor asked, bowing slightly and winking at the man. That should get him.
It did. Jack gulped and nodded to the two priests to exit. The Doctor nodded to the slave girls, and very reluctantly, Jack nodded to them two, pinching one girl’s bottom as she left. A minute or so later, he was left alone in the room with the two not-so-strangers.
“So you’re obviously not a eunuch-”
“Got that right,” Mickey interrupted, still indignant at the Doctor for coming up with that whole idea.
“I told the Time Agency that I’d be back in a couple of days. Have, uh,” Jack paused and looked furtively around the room, grinning, “business to finish up first.”
The Doctor blinked. “I know I’ve changed lots since the last time we met, but blimey, I thought you’d at least recognize Mickey here.”
“Yeah, me,” Mickey shot in, straightening up his body to look more intimidating. “You know, the bloke with the girlfriend you’d hit on?”
“Mickey?” Jack angled his head, thinking it over. “Nope, doesn’t ring a bell. Look, when you’ve traveled the galaxy like I have, it all becomes a bit of a blur. So many species, so little time?”
“Is that what this is about then?” The Doctor asked, waving around to the room and throne and feathers on the floor. “Volcano Day’s passed by oh…I’d say about two months by the look of things, and you’re saying you’re with the Time Agency again? What, one too many sips of the ole wine?”
“I have absolutely no clue what the two of you are rattling on about,” Jack said, standing from his chair and straightening his toga. He looked between the two men and winked at Mickey, much to Mickey’s dismay. “You’re cute, but not my type. And you,” he continued, sizing the Doctor up, “hmm, maybe. But tell the guys back home I have their statue ready and sent, and it’ll be there in a few days. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a date with a couple of newlyweds.”
Jack winked at them both and then left.
“Blimey, did you hear that? I ranked only a maybe,” the Doctor complained, wrinkling his nose. “Well, that was interesting.”
“Interesting? Jack’s a git, but he didn’t even know us.” Mickey looked confused, even more so when he shrugged. He watched the Doctor for a moment before shrugging again. He went to sit on the now empty throne.
“Hmm,” the Doctor murmured, taking a place against the left wall where one of the priests had previously stood. He leaned backwards, carefully knocking his head against it. “Hmmm, hmmm, hmmm.”
“Hmm?” Mickey was growing impatient.
“Hmmm,” he replied, pursing his lips together. “Hmm – oh! Oh! Well, what do you know?”
And then the Doctor laughed, almost hysterically.
“Huh?” If he wasn’t confused before, Mickey was really confused now.
The Doctor stopped laughing and nodded, smile in place. “You see, it’s all quite simple really. Jack doesn’t recognize us because he doesn’t know us yet. He did say the Time Agency took away two years of his memory, oh yes he did! This must be one of those memories. Aha!”
He shook his head again and laughed like a boy let loose in a candy store. “Oh, this is brilliant! Bloody fantastic!”
“But he still doesn’t know us!” Mickey protested.
“I know,” said the Doctor, still full of glee. “Bloody brilliant if you ask me. None of this regeneration business causing mix ups. Just two friends meeting in different parts of their timelines.”
“Don’t you mean three?”
The Timelord ignored him once again, muttering another round of ‘brilliants’ as he launched himself off the wall. Then he stopped and picked up his hand, frowning in concentration once again. He tilted his head and looked at his other hand, muttering ‘hmmm’ all over again. A strange iridescent glow covered the part of his hand that had been touching the wall. “Blimey.”
“So wait, Jack did all this?” Mickey asked as he frantically tried to keep pace with the Doctor. After a foray back to the TARDIS for some analysis or another – Mickey could never keep track of those things – and then they were back on the streets of Rome.
“Keep up, Mickey, will you?” The Doctor was annoyed and not at all pleased with Mickey’s slow pace. “It’s those priests, using Jack. See, I knew there was something funny about them – no human in the world is that wrinkly, you know. Not unless it’s some sort of human skin.”
Now they were heading in to familiar territory. “Like the Slytheens?”
“Bingo,” he replied, snapping his fingers together. “Except, think nastier, if that’s at all possible. Little grey men that don’t quite fit into the disguises they wear. Nasty folks, that lot – down to their razor teeth.”
The Doctor stopped walking for a moment, for a moment to look around at their surroundings. He took a sharp right at the obelisk with the Egyptian hieroglyphics. Mickey hurried to follow.
“Tell me, Mickey. What race do you know of that wears a human skin, leaves iridescent residue, and would have business in ancient Rome?”
Mickey shrugged. “Uhh.”
“Maioms,” the Doctor continued in a rather ‘duh’ type tone. “Maioms from Maiomee. Nasty little buggers with an appetite for human flesh, especially the brain, and a fondness for a good roasting. But who doesn’t love a good roasting? You’d have to be crackers not to like a good roasting!”
He had been so engrossed in the Doctor’s explanation that Mickey stumbled over a piece of loose concrete, earning a distinctive glare from the Doctor. “I, uh, I think I’ll pass.”
“Course you would. That’s what any smart idiot would do.”
At least he hadn’t called him Mickey the idiot yet, even if Mickey knew a hidden insult when he heard one. He frowned, glancing at the Doctor. “Except Jack?”
The Doctor nodded gravely. “Except Jack.”
Mickey hadn’t quite caught on yet. “So what are they doing here then?”
“Mickey, pay attention, will you? Right, what did I just say?”
“They eat brains?”
“Sacrifices,” the Doctor retorted, stopping at another street corner, this one adorned with some temple or another. He rested his chin in his hand and made a low sort of thinking sound before deciding upon continuing straight down the road. “These Maioms love their sacrifice, and what better place will you find them than in the ancient world? Get one dumb ape thinking that he’s a god and he’ll do anything. Voila, instant roast without the hassle of a cover up!”
“Oh,” was Mickey’s only response, nodding vaguely at the Doctor. It made sense, so why didn’t he think of it in the first place?
“Oh look, it’s the Forum Augusti!”
The Doctor’s sudden stop caught Mickey off guard and he backtracked quickly to where the Timelord stood admiring the colored marble building. He couldn’t see much from where they were standing – just a wall built abut a slum apartment that looked like every other building in this area. But that hint of a colonnade and portico was apparent through the small tunnel that peaked into the Forum.
“Marvelous! Simply marvelous! Brilliant piece of architecture, oh, just brilliant,” the Doctor cooed. “Oh, these Romans – some of the most innovative peoples in the history of your planet. Wonderful!”
Mickey didn’t really understand the Doctor’s enthusiasm over this conglomerate of rocks and colored brick. It didn’t seem like anything special to him; just a hole in the wall with some fancy looking columns. “I guess.”
“I guess?” The Doctor gaped at him. “Mickey, this wall, right here, will withstand the test of time! And you only guess?”
This, the Doctor decided, was the last time he was ever going anywhere with Mickey sans Rose. He only guessed. Really!
“Right then, come on.” It was time to dismiss Mickey’s idiocy. “We have a baboon from the fifty-first century to go save. This way paradox will have been avoided and, y’know, we’ll have only prevented the end of time itself.”
Mickey gulped slightly, pulling at the neck of his tunic and trying not to let that random burst of nervousness show. Only the end of time? It sounded serious. He began to walk in the same direction as prior, only to be pulled sharply on the arm by the Doctor in the direction of that colorful building.
“Shortcut.” The Doctor beamed. It was sort of scary to Mickey. Very scary, in fact.
A loud thump on the door woke Jack form his nap. He rolled over, disentangling himself from the mess of limbs on his bed. The memories of the previous hour came rushing back to him as Jack began the search for his toga. Yeah, they were a good couple. A very good couple, indeed. They’d probably last for a long time, given their willingness to explore new sexual options. Couldn’t say that about most newlyweds.
Jack groaned and fastened his toga to his shoulder, the faux purple fabric flushing against his pinkish skin. He really didn’t want to get up quite yet. After all, this Priapus thing was definitely had its benefits and Jack wasn’t done taking advantage of this particular one yet.
He combed his hair back with one hand as he walked over to the door, ready to tell off whoever it was that bothered to disturb him. Outside stood one of the priests. What was it – Harrius? Mickus? Drusus? Somethingus? Jack never could remember these ancient names properly. Not that it was important or anything. The only important thing here was what these Priapus things could do for him.
Jack rolled his eyes and stared down at the little man. “Yeah?”
“You are to come with me,” the priest replied, looking around Jack and into the room.
“Okay, I don’t know if you missed that little newsflash, but I’m the one with the godlike powers here, remember?”
The wrinkly man shook his head. “Only because we make you that. You will come with me.”
Jack crossed his arms over his chest, suddenly suspicious of the cult priests. They never seemed this demanding in the two weeks he had known them. If anything, they were rather meek, spending most of their hours praising a giant phallus and helping him with the con. Not that that was a bad way to spend their time, or anything like that.
The priest’s eyes glittered yellow in the dim light and a creepy looking half smile spread across the man’s face. “We are to have a sacrifice in your name.”
They couldn’t have just said that? Jack grinned. Sacrifice in this place usually meant party, which, in other words, usually meant orgy. He held out his hands in defeat. “Hey, that’s fine by me. I love a good orgy. Why didn’t you just say that to begin with?"
“Come with me.”
So the guy hadn’t learned his manners. Jack shrugged and shut the door behind him as he followed the priest. Some of his favorite people back home lacked manners anyway.
“Hey, where’s the party?”
Jack scanned the room, bewildered at the lack of crowd present, except of course, for those creepy looking priest type people. In fact, this was a room that Jack didn’t remember ever seeing before. It was dark and windowless, with a huge something or other that didn’t at all resemble a flying phallus sitting smack in the center.
“I thought you said this was a sacrifice.”
“It is,” a particularly wrinkly priest replied, stepping out of the shadows. “As we have already told your public, it is time that Priapus’ vessel returns to his god.”
That triggered the basic primal instinct in Jack; the one that told him to run like there was a hell devil on his tail. He grinned at the priests and shrugged cockily. “Sorry guys, but this is one divinity not done with his worshiping yet.”
The grin persisted for a second more before Jack grabbed a torch off the wall and begun to swing it wildly at the priests. He knew he shouldn’t have left his sonic blaster in the bedroom.
“Hah!” Jack shouted, thrusting out with the torch at a nearby priest. He never saw the wrinkly hairless man that came up behind him, or that stun ray that got him in the back. He clutched his neck and blinked as the whole world went dizzy and faded away. “Bwah?”
“Ahh, right, here we are,” the Doctor said as they approached the same alley-way building off the side of the Forum. Unlike earlier, though, the crowd was now gone. The Doctor frowned. “I don’t like this.”
“Huh?” Mickey’s hand went for the wooden sword again. He had forgotten to leave it inside the TARDIS when they had returned. “How come?”
“Too quiet. It’s not quite past sunset yet and it’s too quiet. Can’t you hear it, Mickey? The wind rustling through the buildings, the alleyway cats howling in the setting sun? The lack of people bustling about? It’s too quiet,” he declared. “And that’s never a good sign.”
“Right,” Mickey replied almost immediately. “Cause I knew that. Really I did.”
But the Doctor was already out of hearing range and never witnessed Mickey’s protest. Not like it would have mattered much anyway. The Doctor would’ve just ignored him, as always. Instead, the Timelord busied himself with the door, running his hands over the edges. Mickey approached and watched from over his shoulder.
The Doctor pulled out his sonic screwdriver, aiming it at the door lock as a blue light lit a small area, alongside a familiar humming sound. The lock fell on to the ground with a clang and the door then creaked open.
“Don’t scream or anything,” the Doctor warned before they stepped inside, earning a scowl from his companion.
It was just as empty inside the building as the outside, and the Doctor’s ‘hmmm’ echoed down the hall. He made the ‘hmmm’ sound again, louder and louder each time and grinned at the echo. “Blimey!”
“Thought you said we needed to be quiet,” Mickey muttered, scowling again.
“I said you shouldn’t go screaming like a girl,” the Doctor answered good naturedly. “It would give us away.”
“And this isn’t?”
“Nope!” He grinned brightly. “That’s because there’s no one here to give ourselves away to. The building’s empty, vacant, unfilled, drained even! No one here but us and the rats.”
Mickey gulped. He really didn’t like rats much at all.
“Where’s Jack then?”
“That would be the question now, wouldn’t it?” The Doctor’s brow wrinkled in concentration as he thought it over. “No, this isn’t good at all.”
“Now can’t we just all be men and talk this over?”
When Jack had woken up this time, he had found himself in a more compromising position than the last. Rather than waking up in a bed with a Roman newlywed couple, his legs were bound to the base of the throne and both of his arms were securely strapped to the arms of the chair with tight leather bands. It wasn’t even the kinky brand either!
“Come on. I love Priapus, you love Priapus. But that doesn’t mean I’m ready to give up my life for him.”
They were back at the Rostra and this time, the crowd almost seemed bloodthirsty. Captain Jack Harkness wasn’t one to normally be frightened on situations like this, but this was one time he actually thought otherwise. It was a strange and new feeling to Jack, and one he had no intention of ever getting used to.
The priests ignored Jack as they continued with their preparation for the sacrifice, wrinkly faces glowing in anticipation. A blade was currently being sharpened on a wheel while another priest prepared a small pile of white towels. Probably to mop up the mess of whatever blood they intended to spill. Two more of the wrinkly short men stood guard on either side of Jack. All in all, it was a rather embarrassing position to be in. And Jack knew a lot about embarrassing positions.
“Guys, I hate to break it to you, but I have a lot of very powerful friends that’ll go looking for me if I don’t report back to them in a couple of weeks,” Jack said, attempting a not quite so true threat. “Hello?”
“We are hungry,” said one of the priests behind him.
“Very hungry,” the other priest echoed.
Jack sighed, staring out at the crowd. If that wasn’t creepy, he wasn’t sure what was. Still, he figured, if it was his turn to go, at least it would be with his adoring worshippers cheering him on.
It was now dark, to Mickey’s great dislike. Dark and creepy and not at all like the Estate at night. He jumped when a rat ducked out of a crack in a wall and then laughed nervously. The Doctor turned around, now done with locking the building back up, and raised an eyebrow.
“Nothing, it was nothing,” Mickey said quickly. He attempted to change the subject. “So where to now? Still gonna find Jack?”
“Boom, Mickey. Boom. The universe imploding from a paradox in time. Boom.” The Doctor looked doubtful. “Do you want boom, Mickey?”
Mickey shook his head, letting his shoulders fall. Sometimes the Doctor could be nothing more than a smarmy git. “Suppose not. But how’re gonna find him?”
“Think,” the Doctor replied, tapping at his forehead. “There not here – there’s nothing here. Which means they went somewhere else and oh, given the time of day, yada yada, I’d say they’re currently holding that sacrifice of theirs. And, there’s only one place you’d want to do that.”
The Doctor tapped at his forehead again. “The Forum is the heart of Roman life. Brilliant how everything works its way around it. Fancy a sacrifice? That’s where it’ll be.”
With another quick grin, the Doctor nodded and slipped the sonic screwdriver back into his pouch. He gestured to Mickey and began to walk toward the Forum. His companion took a deep breath and, reluctantly, followed.
It didn’t take them that long to find the Forum again. The Doctor knew his way around Rome, and they were nearby to begin with. The only delay in their hurry was when another rat scurried past Mickey, eliciting a girly scream from the man and a brief interrogation by a nearby legionnaire.
“Eunuch,” the Doctor had explained, waving a hand in dismissal. Sadly, psychic paper wouldn’t do much good in a society where the majority of the population still wrote on wax tablets. “Taking him home from the slave market across town. Bloke gets distracted whenever we see rats.”
“Manage him well,” the legionnaire replied, his heavy set lip curled in a disgusted snarl when he looked Mickey over.
“You can count on it, lashings and all. As soon as we get back.”
Mickey had never been more relieved to be back inside the Forum again. And away from that legionnaire and now all he needed was Rose and underwear and home (or at the very least the TARDIS) and his life would be complete. A lack of eunuch and slave jokes would be nice too.
Spotting the ongoing sacrifice was a lot easier to do in the evening than it would have been during a busy afternoon. For one, the midday crowd had mostly departed – gone home for evening meal and sleep. In fact, the majority of those that still remained in the Forum gathered around the Rostra. And on top, on the platform, sat Jack. It came as no surprise to the Doctor.
This time, though, it was clear that Jack wasn’t really enjoying himself. He was bound to the chair and there was fear mixed into that normally highly arrogant face. This was bad, the opposite of good. He surveyed the rest of the scene: the mob in front of the podium the six priests on the stage – two embracing the crowd, two guarding Jack, and two working on the knives.
No. This wasn’t good at all.
“What do we do now?” Mickey asked, coming up behind the Doctor. His hand had gone back to resting on the wooden sword yet again.
“Crowd control. ‘n rescuing Jack,” he replied, matter-of-factly. “Go and tell them that a lion’s escaped from the amphitheater. Panic, you’re good at that. And it should get their attention.”
Mickey didn’t like that panicking bit – he was brave! Really! But the fewer people around, the easier it would be to save that fifty-first century git. He nodded at the Doctor, and then jogged forward, ignoring the feel of the wind blowing underneath.
“Oy there, listen up!” Mickey came to a sudden halt and fixed his face into what he considered was a look of pure terror. It wasn’t quite. “Lions have escaped from the Coliseum!”
He got nothing but blank stares. Unfortunately for Mickey, he had no way of knowing that the Coliseum was still under construction as he spoke. “I mean amphitheater!”
There were only more blank stares.
“Don’t you understand what this man is saying?” At some point during Mickey’s attempt at crowd persuasion, the Doctor had snuck up behind him. “Big, giant, man-eating, ferocious lions just escaped and are heading this way! And unless you plan on being their next snack - RUN!”
That did the trick. One look at the Doctor’s wild eyed stare and the crowd fled away from the Rostra, into the safety of the Basilica Julia, while others ran in the direction of the Basilica Amelia. The Doctor grinned and clapped his hands together. “There we go! Veni, vidi, terrui!”
Mickey glowered, now deprived of his opportunity to play a formative role in the rescue. He looked at the podium and saw that the priests were still preparing the sacrifice. “Uh, Doctor.”
“I see, I see,” he replied, pulling out the sonic screwdriver and tossing it to Mickey. “Setting forty-nine: undoes binding and clears smoke inhalation.” Mickey stood there, surprised at being handed the tool. The Doctor grimaced. “Get to it, Mickey the idiot.”
“Yeah, right,” Mickey replied, pulling out the wooden sword with his free hand. Those two priests were still standing back Jack and he needed something more than a ruddy old screwdriver to protect himself. Even if it was sonic and the sword was only made out of wood.
Meanwhile, the Doctor had calmly been making his way up the stairs to the top of the Rostra, smiling and waving at the waiting priests. “Lovely night for a sacrifice, eh? See, I know your type. You’re like the Slytheens, the Maioms are. Except with that whole tiny size ‘argh – I’m hungry’ zombie like thing. Right?”
“We are hungry,” said the most wrinkly priest, holding one of the sharpened swords. “We will have his brain.”
“And then we will have yours,” another priest added, joining in with his partner.
“No, now, you see, that’s where you’re wrong. I fancy my brain right where it is.” The Doctor lifted his head up slightly, and then beamed when he noticed that Mickey had managed to knock out the two aliens guarding Jack and freed the man from his bonds without bumbling up. “Brilliant!”
“Maioms. I should’ve known,” Jack spoke, coming up behind the priests with Mickey beside him. “See if I ever come back to this time again.”
“Don’t make promises you can’t keep,” the Doctor warned, remembering full well Jack’s Volcano Day story, told back when they first met in that hospital during the London Blitz. He’d be coming back – just not with any of the memories rattling around in his brain of the past two years.
Now talking to the alien priests, the Doctor continued: “That goes for you lot too. There won’t be any brains eaten here tonight.”
Mickey nodded, throwing the sonic screwdriver back to the Doctor so that he could clutch the wooden sword tightly with both hands. “You heard him.”
At this point though, the Maioms had stopped listening and were now slowly emerging from the wrinkly human skins. Dark, black almond eyes appeared, standing out against the dull grey skin. Claws took the place of human hands. But what shocked Mickey the most were the rows upon rows of sharp teeth, rather like those of a shark.
In the quiet of the night, Mickey’s gasp was quite audible. “Uhh, Doctor?”
The answer was definitive. “Run.”
As the trio of time travelers raced down the streets of Rome, the monsters followed closely and moaned with hunger. Jack raced ahead, digging into the pouch tied to his bright purple toga. “Damn. Never leave your sonic blaster in your bed, boys and, uh, boys. What do you guys have?”
“I’ve got a wooden sword,” Mickey answered, holding it tightly in one hand as he ran.
The Doctor frowned. “And I’ve got, oh you’ll find out eventually anyway. Sonic screwdriver.”
“Some Time Agents you guys are. Didn’t they send you here prepared at all?”
Mickey grunted and the Doctor shook his head, taking a sharp right through an alley in the slums as the other two followed closely behind. “For the last time, we’re just a couple of blokes you’re going to meet again soon enough. I’m the Doctor, and that there’s Mickey.”
“Right, the Doctor and Mickey; the two most inefficient Time Agents ever.” If there was one thing to be said about Jack, it was that he was a stubborn git. “My ship’s back that way.”
“And mine’s closer,” the Doctor snapped, stealing a glance behind his shoulder to see the Maioms close behind. “There’s got to be-”
He was cut off when Mickey’s sword landed in the center of one of the alien’s abdomens. A split second later, the alien exploded, covering his fellow priests and Mickey, Jack, and the Doctor in a pink goo. Mickey whooped and jumped up and down in victory, beaming.
“Blimey, Mickey!” The Doctor was impressed. “Maybe there’s hope for you yet.”
Jack looked between the two of them, pulling a glob of goo from his hair and gagging in disgust. The frown deepened when he looked back at the Maioms, currently puzzled by the loss of their brother. “Don’t start celebrating yet. We still got those guys to deal with.”
“No we don’t,” the Doctor answered, still smiling. “Maioms rely on a hive mind, connected a deeper level than most sentients can understand. It’s an amazing form of biology with one flaw.”
And, as if on cue, one Maiom after another quite literally blew its top.
“Brilliant!” The Doctor beamed, wiping more goo off of his face. “Oh, fantastic show!”
“At least these goons won’t be bothering anyone again,” Jack said, raking goo out of his hair. He turned to address the Doctor and Mickey. “Well boys, it’s been great working with you, but a Time Agent’s work is never done. Guess I’ll be…”
He blinked, placed a hand on his head, and them crumpled on to the street.
Mickey looked over a the Doctor, slightly fearful of Jack’s sudden collapse. “Setting 109,” the Doctor cheerfully explained. “Emits a low frequency that knocks a target unconscious. Can’t have Jack running amuck as Priapus, now can we?”
“Guess not. Why do we have to take him with us though?” Mickey glared at the unconscious man on the alleyway floor. He really was more trouble than he was worth. “Can’t we just leave him here?”
“Nah. ‘sides, I promised Rose a trip to the fifty-first century.” The Doctor smiled at Mickey and then reached down to start to heave Jack upward.
Mickey signed, muttering something about slaves and political correctness, then bent down to help.
Rose had eagerly been anticipating the return of the Doctor and the TARDIS when she heard the familiar shroom, shroom, shroom of the TARDIS arriving somewhere on the Estate.
“Mum, I’ll be right back,” she called as she pulled on her jacket and raced through the apartment. “Sounds like the Doctor and Mickey are back!”
She didn’t wait for a response from Jackie as she slammed the door behind her, racing down the stairs two at a time.
The sight she saw when Rose arrived at the TARDIS was something all together unexpected. Inside was the familiar glow and Mickey and the Doctor – covered in pink goo and laughing like they were the best of mates. What was even odder than that was the sight of one toga clad, pink goo covered Captain Jack Harkness lying unconscious on the floor beside them.
“Rose!” the Doctor said joyfully when he saw her step inside. He rushed over to hug her, but she backed away fast.
This time, it wasn’t just the Doctor smiling, but Mickey too as he came to stand beside the wiry alien. “Fancy a trip to the fifty-first century, Rose?”