|she can drive as fast as me, but she stops at all the lights
The first time he met her (at least according to his memory), she was cozied up to the bar at Milliways, drinking something that looked vaguely like an off-putting Goa'uld cocktail, and he was drinking the closest thing Milliways had to Miller Lite (which wasn't very close at all). Somewhere in the galaxy, it was 2002 on the planet Earth, and somewhere else in the galaxy, Rose and the Doctor were probably accidentally wreaking havoc on a planet far, far away.
He'd asked them to drop him off at Milliways and the Doctor had -- he'd tipped an imaginary hat from the door of the TARDIS and told Jack that they'd be back in an hour, give or take 20 (hours), and to behave himself while they were gone. Rose was laughing in the background, and Jack almost told the Doctor to wait, to stay, that he was going with them -- but he knew where he was a third wheel, and so he went inside to find the prettiest girl in the bar instead.
She wasn't the prettiest girl in the bar, but she was the most interesting -- dark hair, great breasts, nice legs; leather coat thrown over the chair next to her, alien-looking sidearm strapped to her thigh -- and when he slid onto the stool beside her (the one that her coat, with the gleam of a knife in the inside pocket, wasn't on), she looked him up and down and smiled. "What's a girl got to do to get a drink bought for her around here?" she said.
"Ask," Jack said.
"Buy me a drink," she said.
"No problem," Jack said.
She told him that her name was Cera, but she didn't look like she meant it; she looked like she was waiting for him to contradict her, tell her that her name was something else entirely. He wasn't sure what he was supposed to say. So he offered her a hand and said, "Captain Jack Harkness."
She said, "So what's a nice boy like you doing out on the edge of the galaxy?"
"What's a nice girl like you drinking a Goa'uld cocktail?"
She tapped her fingernails on the bar and looked away. "Spend enough time planet hopping and you develop a taste," she said, but it was as much the truth as her name was actually Cera.
Jack didn't say anything.
"I was a host, once," she said. "I don't like to talk about it."
"So we won't talk about it," he said, because he had a list of things he didn't want to talk about that was a galactic mile wide. "I'll show you my gun if you show me yours."
She grinned wide, and pressed her shoulder up against his chest when she shifted to unholster her weapon. It was a sweet little gun, not sonic but something pulse-based like sonic weapons, and a good heft in his hand. She smiled over at him, pleased with herself, as he admired it. The bartender glared up the bar at him and said, "Don't you dare fire that in here." Jack grinned and nodded, hefted the weapon again, and turned to look at her.
"Aren't you going to show me yours," she said and her hand was sliding up his thigh, heavy and warm and convincing. Not that a woman in a leather cat suit required much in the way of convincing him; women like this, who knew what they wanted and what he wanted, were his favorite kind.
"Absolutely," he said. He tossed back the rest of his drink, stood up, and held out a hand. She slipped her gun back into her holster and pulled herself off the stool with his help, sliding up against his body with her breasts pressed against his chest and her hand drifting casually across his crotch.
"I thought this was just a stopover until I could steal another ride," she said. "Didn't know this sort of excitement was in the works."
Stranger things that two people having sex in the bathrooms at Milliways had happened (like six people, several of them not human, having sex in the bathrooms at Milliways, which Jack had walked in on once, much to his surprise), and when she pinned him up against the door to the Men's (And Other Male-Gendered Creatures) bathrooms, he didn't bother to lock the door behind him. She tasted sweet and sour, both mixed together, when he kissed her, and he knotted his fingers in her hair. She groaned, pressing a leg between his thighs and shimmying.
Her leather left a lot less of her cleavage to the imagination than most cat suits did, and Jack ran his hands over her ass, pulling her closer and appreciating the muscles underneath her skin. This was a woman who looked tough, and who was even tougher than she looked.
She was good with her hands -- had to be, to handle a gun like that -- and while he was appreciating her ass, she'd opened his pants, tucking a hand inside around his dick, and stroking slowly while she writhed up against him.
"So," she said. "It really isn't a gun in your pocket. You're just happy to see me."
"I'm always happy to see a pretty girl," Jack said. His hips jerked under his hand, nothing he could do to stop them, and she grinned up at him, speeding up her hand and kissing him. He could feel her smiling against his mouth, even as she bit down on his lip.
"Woman," she said, and then she shimmied out of her leather, coat thrown over a bathroom stall, cat suit shed like skin in a pile on the floor. She tugged him close, fingers curled around his coat, and said, "Well, then, Captain, why don't you impress me?"
She was wet, slick, warm, when he slid inside her, her back pressed up against the wall and her legs wrapped around his waist. It had been years since he'd fucked against a wall, and he'd forgotten how much of a rush it was, her heels digging in against his ass every time he thrust into her and her back arching when he ran his thumb across one of her nipples. "Gods, yes," she said, "oh, fuck, yes, please."
He braced one hand against the wall and kissed her, her legs tightening around his waist and her hands tensing in his hair. When she came, clenching around him, she dug her fingernails into his neck, pulling him even closer. She kissed him so hard after she stopped shuddering that he tasted blood, the bite of her teeth against his lip. He turned his head, burying his face against her neck, her hair, and came.
She slid back into her leather as easily as she had slid out; he leaned against the bathroom wall with his pants still open and watched her, appreciating the line of her back and the curve of her breasts as she shimmied into her suit. She fixed her hair, swung her coat over her shoulders, and caught Jack staring at her in the mirror. "Vala Mal Doran," she said, and he had to blink before he realized that she was giving him her name.
"Captain Jack Harkness," he said.
"I know, darling," she said, halfway out the bathroom door. "I met you five years ago, even if you don't remember."
The door slammed shut behind her. Jack said, "I'll look forward to it."
The first time he met her (chronologically), it was 1997 on Earth and he hadn't lived on Earth in years, no matter how mixed round those years happened to be. He'd landed on some godforsaken planet on the outskirts of the Milky Way in hopes that the alien tech he needed had actually landed there. 1997, the second time around or maybe even the third time. He could never be sure, time all twisted up -- because it was after he'd been in Milliways and met Vala the first time (in his memory), but before he landed in the middle of Torchwood. He didn't understand the way the time stream had twisted, but when she came pelting out of the village he was heading toward, six angry natives on her tail and a whole lot more behind those six, he knew he'd seen her, known her, before.
She ran straight into him, shooting backwards over her shoulder, coat flapping around her legs, and she looked up, startled, when she stopped suddenly against his chest. His arms came around her, and she was just as gorgeous as he remembered, all muscles and curves in motion. She smiled breathlessly up at him. "Give a girl in a spot of trouble a lift?"
"Sure," he said, because he had fond memories of Vala, halfway drunk and pressing up against him in a bathroom in Milliways. The tech would be there when he got back from stowing her somewhere safe; the natives were gaining on them, but they were carrying bows and arrows, not guns, and Jack would bet his ship that if they'd even found the doodad he was looking for, they wouldn't be able to use it.
He'd parked the ship more than a couple of miles from the village, but their pursuers left off after a mile of scrambling over rough terrain. He let her into the ship before him, and she looked around with a hungry expression on her face. "Nice place," she said.
"Ah, home," Vala said. "Haven't had one of those since they ran me off the planet where I was a goddess."
She whipped around suddenly, pulling her hands back from the consoles like she'd been burned, and stared at him, face shocked, before she said, "How did you know?"
"Five years from now I won't know you, but you told me, tell me, then that you got a taste of Goa'uld cocktails while you were a host."
"Who the hell are you?" she spat, backing away from him, fingers creeping toward her holstered gun.
"Captain Jack Harkness," he said. "In five years, we'll meet in Milliways and I won't know you, but you'll know me."
"I've met a lot of strange people in the galaxy," she said, and stopped. She looked like a frightened animal, hardly anything like the self-possessed woman he'd met in Milliways five years earlier, five years later.
"So have I," he said. She looked up at him, a little startled, and so he said, "So am I, actually."
She frowned, minutely, and then smiled, a smile that didn't make it up to her eyes. Time was so twisted around him that he almost couldn't see how this woman, scared and restless, would turn out to be so self-possessed, so certain of herself. She was a shadow of herself in the here and now, and Jack tried to cast through his twisted up memories to find her cat-smug smile, to find this fear underneath that brash exterior.
She said, "So, Captain Jack Harkness, what are you doing on this gods-forsaken planet with a spaceship this nice?"
"Trying to scavenge alien tech," he said. She settled into the co-pilot's seat, slinging a leg over the arm of the chair and watching him carefully as he took the ship off the ground. "And what were you doing down there?"
She smirked, reached into her pocket and pulled out her hand. Flat on her palm was the tiny personal shield he'd set down to find. "Stealing alien tech," she said.
"Well, I'll be damned," he said. "So, Vala Mal Doran, what is it that you do with yourself, when you're not stealing the alien tech I was trying to scavenge?"
"Really, this little thing?" she said, sounding interested. "You've got this shiny little spaceship, what do you want with this?"
"Never can have too much protection," Jack said. They were out of the atmosphere, hovering over the planet while he tried to figure out what to do with her. "So what's your day job?"
"Intergalactic thief," she said.
"No, really," Jack said.
"Really," Vala said. "I steal, I sell, I steal it back, and I sell it again."
"Spend a lot of time running, then," he said.
She shrugged. "It's a living."
"The planet looks a lot better when you're not being chased."
"Most places do," Vala said. She was watching Jack, her eyes half-lidded and cautious, and she said, "You know something about the future that I don't know."
"I know a lot of things about the future that you don't know," Jack said.
"So tell me something," she said, leaning forward in the seat and showing off a pair of breasts that Jack remembered were fairly spectacular.
"In five years, we're going to fuck in the bathroom of Milliways," he said.
"Well, that's not news," Vala said. "Honestly, look at you. I'd be a fool to pass that opportunity up." She ran her fingers up his sleeve, faint drag of nails across the cloth, and Jack remembered her legs wrapped around him and the smell of her hair like it was yesterday, and not tomorrow.
"Is that a come on?"
"Are you saying no?"
"I'd be a fool to," he said.
She tugged him from the captain's chair to the floor in front of her, her leg still tossed over the arm of the co-pilot's seat, and he leaned against her while he kissed her. Slow, this time, because he'd done this before but she hadn't, and he was willing to take his time even the second time around. Too many of his second chances, earned while he hopped through time, required the utmost speed and caution, trying to avert disaster. The second time around with a woman like Vala Mal Doran was worth savoring.
She kissed hungrily, biting at his lips and running greedy fingers down the back of his neck, and he wrapped his arms around her shoulders and pulled her close, trying to contain the wildcat energy that would pin him to the wall five years from now. She sighed against his mouth and went limp in his arms, pliant enough that he could pull her to the ground and strip her of the leather, the gun, the hidden knives, at his own pace.
She arched her back when Jack ran his tongue across her nipple, groaned noisily when he closed his teeth carefully against it. Vala sighed, "Oh, Jack," when he buried his face between her thighs, thumb pressed against her clit and his tongue stroking inside her. She came quietly, thighs clenched underneath his hands and fingers tightened in his hair, and she smiled at him when it was over.
She stripped him carefully and pressed him down onto the floor when she was finished with his clothes, her hand wrapped around his cock until she climbed on top of him. Jack dug his fingers into her hips when she slid down onto him, trying not to thrust up, and she rode him patiently, slowly, and just before he came, she leaned down and kissed him, hot and hard, her hair falling over his face.
When he came, his head fell back, hard against the floor of the ship, and in a sliver of window above him, he could see all the stars in the galaxy.
She waved jauntily when he left her on the nearest, safest planet -- called out, "See you in five years, stranger!" and disappeared into a teaming marketplace, presumably to steal something worthless and sell it for too much.
Five years in a straight line from where Jack was in the universe, he might not even be in Milliways, which was the problem of getting mixed up with a Time Lord and his amazing flying phone box, but five years from then in some topsy-turvy line, he'd be there.
He wouldn't trade two first times with a woman like Vala Mal Doran for half the universe and all the time in the world.
The first time he met her (in real time), it was 2006 in Cardiff, and she was sitting in a bar three blocks from Torchwood with an academic-looking type wearing glasses and talking animatedly about something linguistic-sounding. Gwen was still in the phase where she thought they should have a life outside of corralling alien technology, so she and Owen were pressed behind him (Tosh was on a date, a real date, a fact that Owen had teased her mercilessly about), trying to crowd in the doorway toward the beer as fast as possible. When he saw Vala, he stopped short in the doorway. Owen smashed into Jack's back, and Gwen must have bumped into Owen, because she said, muffled and far away sounding to Jack's ears, "Oi, Jesus fuck, you dolts, watch where you're going!"
The scuffle drew Vala's eye -- even from a distance he could tell that she was listening to her companion's prattle with only half an ear, albeit what appeared from her expression to be an affectionate half an ear -- and the sight of her slow smile made his stomach drop out.
"Jack Harkness, as I live and breathe," she called, and suddenly Jack's legs worked again. He threaded through tables, Gwen and Owen arguing amiably behind him, until he could hug her, tugging her out of her chair and swinging her around.
"Darling," Vala said, when he set her back on the ground. "I heard rumors of your untimely demise."
"All false," Jack said. "I thought for sure you'd be in jail somewhere by now."
"Not yet, more's the pity," she said, sinking back into her chair and threading her fingers through his. "Pull up a chair."
Vala's companion cleared his throat pointedly, and Jack spared him a glance, and then a second glance -- good looking in a bookish sort of way, but with muscles uncharacteristic for an academic under his sweater, and decidedly displeased by Jack's sudden appearance. "Dr. Daniel Jackson," he said, extending a hand to Jack.
Jack shook it, smiled his best disarming smile, and said, "Captain Jack Harkness. And Gwen Cooper, she's the good looking one, and Owen Harper, he's the weedy looking one." Owen gave a wave and disappeared off toward the bar in search of drinks.
"Friends?" Vala said.
"Business associates," Gwen said, rattling a chair up to the table and peering at Jackson with interest.
"And here I thought you always flew solo," Vala said.
"And I thought that Earth didn't have anything interesting enough for you to steal," Jack said.
"Ah, but there's credit cards," Vala said, smirking at him. "You never told me about credit cards. So we're both full of surprises today. Still scavenging?"
Jack could see Gwen out of the corner of his eye watching him warily, and with a broad amount of curiosity. On the other side of the table, Jackson's head was snapping back and forth like he was at a tennis match, open fascination written across his face. "It's more containment these days," Jack said. "Still stealing?"
"Daniel's broken me of the habit," Vala said. "Now I just retrieve priceless artifacts from other ... places." Jackson was shaking his head at Vala, frown creased between his eyes, and she made an irritated, affectionate gesture at him, a what did I say? sort of gesture. "Oh, darling," she said to Jackson, patting his hand and smiling at him fondly before shooting Jack a wicked sort of grin. "I met Jack at Milliways, back in the day."
"The restaurant at the end of the ..." Jackson said, his frown creasing deeper before it edged off, and then he leaned back in his chair and peered at Jack over the tops of his glasses, a different sort of interest suddenly appearing on his face. "Oh."
"Oh, what?" Gwen said.
Owen, precariously juggling three pints (Newcastle for Jack, bitter for Gwen, Guinness for himself), echoed her. "Yeah, what?"
"See?" Vala said to Jackson. "He's harmless. Well, not harmless, but a friend. A friend."
"You should have said," Jackson muttered accusingly. "Top security clearance doesn't mean anything to you, I can never tell when you're getting ready to spill all the secrets."
Arguing with Jackson, Vala looked like a well-fed cat -- sleek and happy, well cared for. Like Jackson had taken her home and collared her. The wildness that had radiated out of every pore when he'd seen her earlier was tamped down, hampered by what seemed to be a friend -- maybe even a family -- of sorts. But it was still there, humming underneath her skin and flashing behind her knowing smiles, and Jack had the sudden thought that it actually suited her better than the feral fierceness had. She was in jeans and a black shirt that showed off her breasts as well as her leather had, with a drab olive green jacket -- American military issue, Jack was almost certain, and Jackson had a similar one -- slung over the back of her chair.
She looked happy.
She'd stopped arguing with Jackson while Jack had been staring, probably rudely, and had her head bent together with Gwen's, whispered girl-talk or maybe gossip about Jack. Jackson was toying with an empty pint glass and making awkward sounding small talk with Owen -- awkward on Owen's part, Jackson actually looked engaged by a conversation about Cardiff's finer points and lesser restaurants, but Jackson was rapidly starting to look like one of those people who could have an interesting conversation with a rock.
Jack said, "So what do you do?"
Jackson jumped in his chair, in the middle of a sentence about an Indian carry-out place three blocks over, and jerked around to look at Jack. "I'm an archeologist and a linguist. Dual Ph.D."
"What's a double Ph.D. doing working for the U.S. Military? Actually, what's a ... known alien doing, working for the U.S. Military?"
Jackson flushed deeply, blinked several times, glanced around nervously, and then said, low and cautious, "How did you know?"
"What, that Vala's an alien?" Jack said, leaning closer to Jackson. His first impressions had been wrong; Jackson had a lot more going on for him than just a pair of wire-rim glasses and a distracted, tweedy air. "Or that you two are working on some high-clearance project for the military?"
"Both," Jackson said. "Either."
"I met her off-world," Jack said, matching Jackson's quiet, guarded tone. "And the jackets are a dead giveaway, even without any kind of identifying patches."
Jackson nodded -- acceptable answers, he seemed to be saying -- and gave Jack a long, assessing look. It was a staring contest, Jack (who'd showed up in Vala's past when it was still her present) and Jackson (who seemed to be her future) squaring off across a cluttered, beer-soaked pub table. "Vala's never mentioned you," he said.
Jack said, "Vala doesn't really talk about herself."
Jackson laughed, an open, honest laugh, and he grinned at Jack. "I'm not sure which Vala you've met," he said, "but she doesn't really do anything but. The trouble is telling what's lies, and what's truth."
He and Jackson both looked over at her, laughing at something Gwen had said, and Jack thought again about wild animals tamed, the instinct to run held at bay by comfort. She'd been on Earth, been with Jackson, for more than a little while. "How'd she end up here, anyway?"
"She tried to steal a battle cruiser from the U.S. Air Force," Jackson said. "But not before she beat the shit out of me."
"A battle cruiser?" Jack said. Vala had never had any interest in boats.
"Not the sort you're thinking of," Jackson said. "Not the sort I can say anything else about."
"She really beat the shit out of you?"
"There was a fire extinguisher and a great number of security codes that I didn't actually have involved," Jackson said fondly. "It wasn't one of my finer moments."
"I bet it was one of hers," Jack said.
"Actually," Jackson said, sounding surprised at whatever he was going to say. "It was." Jack laughed, and Jackson studied him carefully, before he reached into his jacket and pulled out a business card. "Don't you get tired of having innocuous conversations in public?" Jackson said.
The card was for one Dr. Daniel Jackson, Ph.D., Ph.D, USAF Consultant, Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado. Jack stared at it.
"Vala trusts you," Jackson said, and Jack didn't ask how Jackson knew that, because he suddenly didn't want to hear that this stranger knew Vala Mal Doran better than Jack knew her himself, even though he also knew it was true. "Genuinely trusts you, and I don't know how or why, but she doesn't trust lightly and I don't blame her. People she trusts are a lot thinner on the ground than people she's pretended to trust and then stolen from. If you ever need anything, call me."
Jack didn't say thank you. He said, "I saved her from an angry mob once, and I bought her a drink." Jackson frowned again, obviously playing back what he'd just said until he got to I don't know how or why, and then he nodded. Jack said, "What are the two of you doing in Cardiff, anyway?"
"Chasing dead ends," Jackson said, and stood up. He grabbed his jacket and shrugged into it. "But we're finished. We fly back to the States tomorrow."
Vala looked up and saw Jackson standing. She said, "Do we have to?"
"Yes," Jackson said.
"But Daniel," she said.
Jackson said, "If you don't complain and we don't miss our train, you can order porn at the hotel in London tonight." Vala hesitated, hand halfway to her jacket, and Jackson added, "With the SGC credit card."
"All right," Vala said, and then reached out toward Jack. "Jack," she said, sounding warm. "It was lovely to see you. Try not to blow up the world, would you?"
"Never on purpose," Jack said. "Try not to steal anything you wouldn't want to have to return."
Jackson was holding her jacket, standing behind her protectively while she shrugged the coat on. When she had it on, she leaned back against Jackson, and stared down at Jack. "I never want to return anything," she said.
"Go on, then," Jack said, and she did, trailing her fingers against the back of Jack's neck as she passed him, and Jackson smiled down at Jack as Jackson followed her. "Take care of her," Jack said to Jackson, and Jackson nodded.
Jack watched them go -- Vala knocking against Jackson with her hip, affectionate and casual, while he talked expansively at her. Jackson held the door open while Vala walked through, his hand on the small of her back, and they disappeared out onto the streets of Cardiff. Then Jack turned back to Gwen and Owen, the closest thing he had to family, and said, "So. Who wants Chinese for dinner?"
author's notes: title and summary from fred eaglesmith's "wilder than her", as covered by [dar williams]. my otp did above-and-beyond-the-call-of beta duty, and my heterosexual life partner audienced the early drafts. all remaining mistakes are mine. <333