Prompt: wintercompanion's Summer Holiday Challenge: Cardinal, in a field, with a shoe, in a gondola
Spoilers/warnings: No spoilers. Established, mild dom/sub relationship, mostly off screen.
Notes: Title extrapolated from a quote from Dr Evelyn Smythe: "I find that cake is an excellent solution to so many of life's problems” - (The Marian Conspiracy: Big Finish Audio). Evelyn is lovely so I hope I've revealed enough about her for this fic to work for people
Beta credit: karaokegal, donutsweeper - they did their best to turn a sow's ear into a silk purse, for which I'm extremely grateful.
Jack turns up, just as unexpectedly as usual, looking – to Evelyn - like he needs feeding.
Translation: Jack turns up again, unannounced (at least as far as she is aware since the Doctor doesn't tell her anything) looking like he has a problem that - correction 'and' needs to be taken care of.
Not that he'll accept it – she's learned that about him by now. Not her particular brand of 'mothering' as the Doctor calls it, anyway. Which is why, one run in with a lizard creature; a last minute struggle for some kind of futuristic gizmo; and an unexpected floating gondola ride to safety later, she turns toward the kitchen when she sees the the pair of them heading for the library.
A good chocolate cake will take a while – even with the TARDIS to help with the baking – and Evelyn isn't in a mood to hurry. They don't need her hovering around. Not that she minds.
The Doctor's known Jack a lot longer than she has. He's... careful with Jack in a way he generally isn't with other people, automatically modulating his usual acerbic babble into something approaching white noise whenever Jack's within earshot (which actually means it rapidly becomes the new normal when he's with them). He also tends to treat Jack like the young man she'd mistaken him for in the field outside Paris where they'd first met. Cardinal Richelieu had not been nearly as awful as she'd expected, an admission that had made the Doctor question her abilities as a professor of history, yet again.
Jack is not as young as he appears. Come to that, neither is the Doctor. Evelyn's no spring chicken herself, of course, but at least she has the common decency to look her age, unlike the two of them. She's sure it isn't vanity on their parts though, more a quirk of evolution. As far as she understands it, Jack is from her own time's far flung future. A concept oddly easy to grasp when it was being explained to her whilst hiding in the bushes of 17th Century France. The Duke of Buckingham had been thoroughly taken with Jack, a situation that hadn't gone unnoticed by the Doctor, judging by the cold shoulder he'd turned on Buckingham. It wasn't, after all, he'd informed her, any of his business what Jack gets up to behind closed doors, or the curtains of a pavilion. It was a lie. A lie with limits, she supposes – they are both time travellers after all.
Whatever business Jack 'gets up to' otherwise is really not their business. “Don't ask, don't tell,” he mutters when she quizzes him about it during one of the Doctor's infrequent absences. As rules go, it sounds an awful lot like “my laptop ate my coursework” to her, but what she thinks she really understands about time travel - like the things that she really understands about them - could be written on the back of a postcard and leave room to spare so she isn't about to argue.
“Unless we are actively concerned, it needn't concern us,” the Doctor says loftily, because he simply can't resist being 'clever' with words entirely.
Concerned or not, their business or not, Jack is more than happy to share a backstory or three when the circumstances are right, which is how she'd learned that the Duke of Buckingham had, apparently, a thing for shoes: buying them, wearing them, carelessly leaving them behind in compromising places...
“Not exactly Cinderella,” she'd remarked when he'd paused for effect. “Though I suppose Richelieu was hardly Prince Charming, come to that.”
“I seem to recall you saying you were 'pleasantly surprised' by him,” the Doctor had said.
“I'd be pleasantly surprised if I ate an avocado and it tasted like broccoli instead of rubber. It still doesn't mean I'd like it!” she'd shot back.
“And besides, I think Richelieu would be the wicked stepmother in that scenario,” Jack had put in, from his seat at the Doctor's feet.
He's sitting at the Doctor's feet tonight as well, just as she expected. His legs curled up beside him on the floor; one arm pressed close against the Doctor's calf from shoulder to elbow; his head a bare inch away from the loosely open book on the Doctor's lap. His eyes are closed and he doesn't stir when she sneaks into the library, although she knows he's not asleep. The Doctor himself blinks a little as she sets the tray she's carrying down – quietly - on the table within arm's reach, almost as if he's coming back from somewhere, which she supposes he is, in a way.
He thanks her with a simple smile. Then smiles down at Jack, for whom 'simple' will never quite be enough.