“You ain’t getting me in there, no way. That bloke’s crazy.”
“Mum, you all right, you sure?”
“'Course I’m sure! I’ll be back in no time. He says so. It’s a time machine. And I’ve got the mobile, haven’t I?”
“You take care of her, you hear? I’ll break your head if I find you’ve hurt my mum.”
“C’mon, Rose. Let’s see a film. Or do something safe, like play with matches in a fireworks factory.”
“Young people these days! I’d have been ashamed to be such a coward in front of my elders.”
Bit of a relief, really. Tardis was crowded with four. Did all right with three, and two was downright comfortable. Though Jackie looked as if she’d take up all the space there was through sheer force of something. Will? Personality, that was it. She’d sat herself down at the Tardis’s controls and was running her hands over everything.
“What are all these knobs and levers?”
He flung himself down on the chair next to Jackie and grinned. “What, these? Instruments. For controlling our flight.”
“Flight,” Jackie said, speculatively. She caressed a lever in a manner he thought at first was meant to be suggestive but realized couldn’t possibly be. It was so blatant. “Through time and space, you said.”
“Yes, exactly. Brilliant, isn’t it?”
“Don’t laugh. It’s true.”
“'Course it is. Where are we going, then?”
He tugged at an earlobe. Still strange to him, these ears, the way they wiggled when he grinned. Had he had ears like this ever before? He didn’t think so. He’d had a face that moved like this once, but there’d been more hair to go along with it. The ears had been hidden.
“Where’d you like?”
“Oh, someplace fun. Where we can have a good time, have a drink or two. You know.”
He gave this some thought. “Right! There’s a little club in Liverpool.”
He fairly leapt for the controls. Was good to have company again. What was the point of a night at the Cavern without somebody moshing next to you, screaming out the words to “Hippy Hippy Shake” and frightening the kids?
“Wait. Slow down. What’d you do with this one, then? You sort of wiggled it.”
That’s the sort of companion this one was, then. He did it again more slowly, and then let her do that disturbing stroking gesture with the lever, and the Tardis whooped into motion.
“You can’t fool me. This isn’t Liverpool. That sign’s in German. And it’s naughty.”
“I think this is Hamburg.”
“And that’s not a woman, even if she is in six-inch heels and has legs better than any I’ve had in my life.”
“Never been in Germany before. Just Ibiza on holiday. When I could afford it.”
“Oh! Look! It’s the Indra Club.”
“Are we going to hear them, then?”
“Tardis knows where I’m going even when I don’t. Fantastic!”
Cigarette smoke and noise and people doing things they really ought not be doing in public. The band on the stage was impossibly young. Far too young to be here in this room, with drunken sailors putting their hands up the skirts of professionals who might or might not be women. It’s not that he disapproved of such games-- he’d put his hand up many mysterious skirts and kilts and been surprised or delighted and often both-- but that he felt somehow the band ought not to be seeing up skirts. The boy with the guitar bigger than his chest and the ears that stuck out further than his own ought to be in school, not twisting his fag between the strings on the head so he could take his solo. It was far past his bedtime.
Bennies and fags and bottles of beer, condoms on the floor of the toilets, and none of it mattered because of the glorious noise. The sound of those voices, singing Chuck Berry and Chet Atkins and every song Buddy Holly wrote though they’d forgotten half the lyrics. Jackie had him up and dancing and screaming out the words to “Long Tall Sally”. Or some approximation of them, likely better than the ones the band were screaming out. Then back to the bar, laughing helplessly, hot and hoarse and in desperate need of a drink. Or two.
The bartender gave them a look when Jackie ordered banana daiquiris. The look would have blistered varnish from the wood of the bar had there been any left in the place where Jackie leaned her elbows. He gave it right back, and was gratified to see the man quail. He loved banana daiquiris. Hadn’t had a good one since the time he’d had appeared in Jack Kennedy’s office to talk missiles and boats and last-ditch plans to save the world.
The bartender relented and made a complicated apologetic gesture. “No one drinks them here. Beer, scotch neat, rum and coke for the boys in the band. That’s all they drink here. Waste of my time.”
He didn’t have fresh bananas, but he had a bottle of banana liqueur on the shelf against the mirror, nearly full, dusty. Tasted close enough, sweet and syrupy and strong. Went down a treat.
“You can’t go 'round doing things like that!”
“He had a gun! He was aiming it at Paul! Paul’s my favorite.”
“But you mustn’t meddle with the timestream! The past can’t be changed.”
“I did not so change the timestream! He hasn’t written ‘Silly Love Songs’ yet. He’s got to live to write that. I like that one.”
“Oh. Yeah. Me too. Imagine a world where they didn’t all live to be ninety.”
“Do they really?”
“Oh, yeah. All four. Touching reunion on Top of the Pops in twenty-seventeen. First world president said it inspired her to go into politics.”
“Oh, that’s lovely.”
“Leastways, I think that’s how it went.”
“They’re still after us.”
The Tardis. Now. Where had he left her? Short-term memory was as bad as his long-term had become. Though perhaps that was the rum. They reeled through the cold filthy streets of naughty, naughty Hamburg, giggling. He trusted the advantages of a time machine were now quite clear to Jackie. Travel in space, space, he should make that point next. The supernova that created the Crab Nebula in progress from a nice safe distance, perhaps? Total eclipse in the six-star system of Lagash?
He stumbled over a curb and decided that perhaps these could wait until he could walk. The Tardis might know better than he where he wanted to go, but even she wanted a steadier hand than this.
Five daiquiris were, perhaps, three too many. Two too many, definitely. Next time he’d stop at four. Or had it been six? Jackie hadn’t had as many as he had. She’d kept ordering them, and he’d been the one to drink them. That wasn’t the way it was supposed to work. He was the one in secret control of everything. But he hadn’t been, from the moment that Jackie had laid hands on his console.
There she was. Key had been safe all night in the leather jacket, which had tricks up its sleeves and in its multidimensional pockets and sewn into its ultra-reinforced seams. Keyhole was most uncooperative. Most. It kept moving. Jackie snorted through her nose and he was forced to wiggle his ears at her to get her to stop.
“Oh, you’re cute when you do that,” she said. “Right. Where we sleeping?”
He found the correct knob to twist through centuries of habit, and staggered his way down the corridor. Jackie opened doors behind him and stuck her head into the revealed spaces.
“Oh, would you look at that. It’s a walk-in closet the size of my entire flat. That’s a lot of clothes for a man who’s worn the same thing every time I’ve seen him.”
“Kitchen, good, good, I was worried we’d be stopping for alien takeaway every day. You get tired of it, don’t you.”
“Oh, is this where we’re sleeping? Nice and big. Plenty of room for fun.”
“Close your mouth. You look like a guppy.”
Five was definitely too many. How else explain it? He was flat on his back on his bed, still in the bloody sweaty leather jacket, trousers down to his knees. Knobby knees, rather, when he looked down at them. Jackie pulled off his boots, without unlacing them all the way, then her own. She was going about it in an odd order, an item of her own clothing, then one of his.
He giggled helplessly. This was the sort of companion she was, then. They usually weren’t. Usually they stole books from his library, picked his brains, joy-rode with him, saved the universe a few times, then-- His mind skipped over that groove. Reality shifted, tilted, then adjusted itself. But that was just the rum.
He didn’t recall even kissing her. Weren’t these things supposed to start with a nice kiss or something? He dug into the cross-index for human mating rituals, premasticated food passed from mother to child, right, best not mention that. Or think about it any more. He’d save the kissing for later, if at all.
The undressing had moved past his socks and on to his shorts. He lifted his hips for her cooperatively.
“Oh,” she said, drawing the word out.
“What? It’s not big enough for you?”
“I was hoping for two.”
He had a snappy comeback primed and ready to fire, just as soon as his lips cooperated, but she continued. “Just as well. I’ve only got one mouth.”
Jackie’s hand was making that gesture again, the one he’d found possibly suggestive, over a different sort of knob. The whooping noise was him, he decided. Hand, lips, tongue, flickering over him, no subtlety, but he was well past being able to appreciate subtlety anyway. And then a finger right up him, no proper introduction, no by your leave, no mercy, and he drove his hips up and found himself all the way inside that welcoming, cunning, brave mouth.
“Here! Swivel round. Can’t reach you where you are. Two can do this at once, you know.”
“Thought you’d never get around to it. Was worried you weren’t a gentleman.”
“Shut up. A man needs peace of mind to work.”
Peace and quiet would not be what he experienced in the next few minutes, at least not by all his previous reference points for it. Squelchy. That was a better word. Wet hot sweet fast dirty relentless intense squelchy. Both of them moaning. Fingers and tongue at work on the complications of the human female, close enough to his sort of female as to make no difference. Tasted just as good. Like sugar and banana and lime. No. That was the daiquiri. What? Shut up, brain. Concentrate. This was a contest, the goal of which was to make the other person break down from pleasure and come before they could finish you off.
Though now that he thought about it, it was a stupid game. Anything that made Jackie’s tongue falter in that licking he liked so much, anything that stilled that finger inside him, he was against that.
He couldn’t stop playing, though. Once he understood the rules to anything, there was no preventing him from playing. He was going to win. He always won. He had his finger on her trigger and nobody could do him no harm, and oh bloody hell she had two fingers up him now and was there nothing this woman wouldn’t do to defeat him? Obviously this was an arms race, and he needed bigger missiles: finger and thumb deployed at once, opening her in both places, wringing from her a sound that he was certain was surprise and shock and then she was shaking under him, and shouting her pleasure.
Ha! He’d won.
“Do you have anything to smoke?”
“Not that I smoke as a general rule, just that it’s nice to have one, after.”
“Right. Second drawer there. That blue crystal thing’s a lighter.”
“Mmm. That’s nice.”
“Pass it here. Yeah.”
“Aren’t we meant to be saving the universe now?”
“S’a time machine. We’ll save it in the morning.”