Summary: In which Jack meets Arthur, and gets an explanation
Notes/Warnings: Sequel to Something That Didn’t Fit. References DW: Bad Wolf/POTW, DW: Utopia/SoD/LotTL. Extremely brief reference to Merlin: 1.13.
“Merlin! Where have you been?”
“Out, and I told you not to call me that!” he hissed, as he slipped into the booth beside Arthur. “It’s bad enough you kept your name–put ‘Arthur’ and ‘Merlin’ together and people are going to get suspicious!”
“I like my name,” Arthur protested. “And ‘Jethro’ is a stupid name anyway.”
Merlin shook his head. It was an old argument, centuries old, and it wasn’t going to be resolved tonight.
Arthur choked on his beer. “You what?!”
“OK, not exactly. You remember that guy I told you about?”
The next day Merlin was back at the Millennium Centre, Arthur not having believed him about Torchwood.
“You know,” the well-dressed man–Ianto, wasn’t it. Merlin wasn’t sure; he was the only one who he hadn’t been introduced to–said drily, looking at the two of them, “The tourist business is just a front. We don't actually conduct tours.”
“Yeah, sorry. Arthur didn’t believe me when I told him about you.”
“Good. I still think we should retcon you, and him too to be safe.”
“‘Retcon’?” Arthur demanded. Ianto ignored him and Merlin could see he was gearing up to throw a princely fit, when Jack wandered out.
“What’s going on?”
“I was just wondering if you’d mind showing Arthur around.”
Jack looked at Arthur and leered. Merlin stepped in front of Arthur and glared, and Jack backed off.
“Sure, come on downstairs.”
Ianto’s sarcastic “I’ll just install a revolving door, then, shall I?” followed them into the tunnel.
“I can see why he was jealous,” Merlin said to Jack, “If that’s your usual reaction to meeting new people.”
Jack shrugged. “It’s a reflex. Doesn’t mean anything.”
They went through the same round of introductions, with Arthur looking around with a sort of haughty indifference, but Merlin could see he was impressed, particularly when the pterodactyl flew over.
“It’s just Myfanwy, she came through the Rift,” Merlin explained casually. Jack gave him an amused look.
“The Rift. A rip in the space-time continuum. Runs right through Cardiff,” Jack explained.
“Where does it lead?”
“Somewhere else, somewhen else, I dunno. It shifts, there doesn’t seem to be a set time and place at the other end.”
“So you could travel through it?” Arthur wanted to know.
“Not unless you wanted to end up stranded, and that’s if you’re lucky. It only opens up occasionally, thank God, or we’d be waist deep in Weevils.”
“Weevils? What is this, a granary?”
Jack smirked. “Come down to the vaults.”
“What is that?” Arthur demanded.
“That,” Jack said calmly, “is a Weevil.”
“And I thought the Questing Beast was bad,” Arthur muttered.
“Nothing,” Arthur said quickly, as Merlin gave him a dirty look.
"Why does the Rift give you migraines?” Jack asked suddenly. “Why can you even sense it at all? Why do you look like that?”
“Like what?” Merlin asked suspiciously.
“Like…like you’ve been alive forever, seen everyone and everything you know and love turn to dust.”
There was an odd note in Jack’s voice as he said this.
“Because I have,” he said quietly, not sure why he was telling him this. It just seemed he’d understand.
“Well, OK, not forever, although it felt like it, particularly when I was waiting for Prince Prat here to get himself reborn,” he said, digging Arthur in the ribs
“Hey!” Arthur protested, refusing to rub his side. “Those elbows are lethal weapons! Besides, it’s not my fault you’re immortal! You’re lucky I got reincarnated at all, although this doesn’t look like ‘Britain’s hour of need’ to me, the economy notwithstanding.”
“What the hell are you talking about?” Jack demanded.
Merlin started. For a moment he’d forgotten he was even there.
Jack glared at him, waiting for an explanation. Arthur smirked. “Well, Merlin? Are you going to tell him?”
“Wait, Merlin? Merlin and Arthur? The wizard and the once and future king?”
“Exactly,” Arthur said smugly.
“Wait, I thought Merlin was old,” Jack shot at him.
Merlin shrugged. “When I saw I was going to live a long time I spread rumours to sort of…blur things a bit.”
Jack scrubbed his hand over his face. “So let me get this straight. You’re Merlin, the wizard, advisor and mentor to King Arthur?”
“‘Mentor’!” Arthur snorted. “That’s rich! What kind of lies have you been telling? You couldn’t find your arse with both hands!”
“At least I have an arse instead of being one!” Merlin shot back.
“Um, hello? God, you’re like an old married couple…And that’s another thing, Arthur and Merlin weren’t lovers! You married Guinevere!”
Arthur grimaced. “Political expediency. She knew what was going on.”
“Is that why she had an affair with Lancelot?”
Arthur glared at Merlin again. “All the misinformation you were spreading and you left that intact?”
“What does it matter?”
“I don’t want everyone to know my wife cheated on me!”
“In case you’ve forgotten, you were busy buggering your manservant. Besides, no one knows she was your wife!”
“Would you prefer I leave you two alone?”
Merlin winced, “Yeah, sorry. He gets in these moods.”
“I don’t believe any of this,” Jack announced, before Arthur could retort.
“Don’t you?” Merlin approached him. “There’s something odd about you, Captain. You don’t belong here any more than we do.”
“I do so!”
“No need to get defensive. I’m just stating a fact.” He approached Jack, until he was right in his face. Admirably, Jack didn’t flinch. But when his eyes went gold, Jack backpedalled so fast he almost fell over.
“So. I’m not the only immortal in Cardiff.”
“What?” Arthur demanded.
“He can’t die,” Merlin replied.
“What the hell was that?” Jack demanded.
Merlin shrugged. “Just a spell. Do you believe me now?”
“I guess so,” Jack conceded reluctantly.
“How’d it happen?” he asked.
“Long story,” Jack said.
“You’d think after being immortal so long he’d have bothered to look up the definition,” Merlin remarked to Arthur.
“Fine! I was a former Time Agent running a con in London in 1941!”
“During the Blitz?”
“Best place for it.”
“A Time Agent?” Arthur wanted to know.
Jack sighed. “Like I said, long story. I was on the run from them, but I still had my Vortex Manipulator.” At their confused looks, he said, “That’s how I travelled through time. Anyway, I met this strange guy and his friend, turns out he was a Time Lord, the last of them…”
“Wait, the Doctor?” Merlin demanded.
“You know the Doctor?” Jack asked, suddenly intent.
Merlin shrugged. “Met him a few times, why?”
“He’s the reason I’m immortal, at least indirectly. Like I said, I met him in 1941, travelled with him for awhile. We ended up on a satellite broadcasting station in the year 200,100. It was being run by Daleks.”
“Wait, you said if you encounter a Dalek you wouldn’t survive,” Merlin said.
“I didn’t. They killed me. The Doctor had sent Rose–that was his friend–back home, but she opened the heart of the TARDIS and got it to bring her back. She resurrected me and destroyed the Daleks, and the Doctor sucked the energy out of her before it could kill her.”
“They left me there. Apparently I was supposed to ‘help rebuild the Earth,’” his voice was bitter.
“I used the Manipulator to get back, but I ended up in 1869. Found out I was immortal fairly quickly. After that I moved to Cardiff to try to find the Doctor.”
“Did you find him?” Merlin asked.
Jack nodded. “Last year. Helped him out again. He’d regenerated.”
Arthur looked confused. “Time Lords are long-lived. They do this thing where if they’re killed or their old body wears out, they make a new one, but they can’t do it forever,” Merlin explained and Jack nodded.
“He’d regenerated and had a new Companion, but he was able to tell me what happened.”
“What did happen?” Arthur demanded.
“Like I said, Rose resurrected me. But she couldn’t control it. She made it so I couldn’t die.”
He looked at Arthur. “What about you? Are you immortal?”
Arthur shrugged. “Dunno.”
“You would think so, with all the chances you take!” Merlin shot at him.
“You should talk. Being a wizard in Camelot was bad enough, what do you think people will do to you now?”
“I’m careful!” Merlin shot back, irritated, “And if people get suspicious I just create a simulacrum and leave it in a river. Harder now that there’s DNA testing, but still possible.”
“Idiot! You’re going to get yourself killed!”
“Another one who needs a dictionary,” Merlin muttered.
“And you were just recently reincarnated?” Jack asked Arthur, trying to derail the argument.
“What about you? Don’t people notice you don’t age?”
“I do. I use magic to make people who want kids but can’t have them believe they adopted me, and I change my appearance using illusion.”
“No, this is what I really look like. Only the aging is illusion.”
“And you keep changing your name?”
He nods. “I recycle identities after a century or so, but yeah.”
Jack laughed. “An immortal, a wizard and a king. Who’d believe it?”
Merlin grinned. “Nobody.”
Arthur looked at his watch. “It's getting late, I think we should go,” Arthur said.
Merlin pulled out his cell-phone and looked at it. “You’re right, we should. Nice talking to you, Captain.”
Jack grinned. “Drop by sometime. I’ll be here.”
“I’ll do that,” Merlin promised as they entered the Hub proper.
As they left, Jack heard Merlin ask, “Now do you believe me?”
“Yes, Merlin, I believe you.”
“Merlin?” Tosh echoed.
“Yep,” Jack said.
“Merlin and Arthur.”
“Yep,” he repeated.
“Like from the legend?”
“Apparently the same ones.”
“Who’re we to judge what’s strange?”
Tosh looked around at the banks of computers, the lift and the pterodactyl. “I guess you’re right.”