NO GREATER GIFT

Interlude One: The Time Agency

For a little while, Jack just floated. He was not quite asleep, but nor was he by any means awake. He was just there. His mind was a blank slate, and he realised without any real alarm that he couldn’t even clearly recall his own name. He almost smiled at that. Well, when a guy had a different identity nearly ever week, was it all that surprising that he sometimes had trouble recalling his current identity?

It was dark, and he wondered about that briefly until it occurred to him that his eyes were closed. More so out of curiosity that anything else, he slowly opened his eyes.

Jack blinked. He knew this room. It was his room at the Time Agency station on Vila Three. The room that he shared with...

“Bloody hell, will you get your lazy arse out of bed?”

He looked to find himself staring up in the familiar and distinctly annoyed face of his partner, and tried for a sexy grin. From the expression on John’s face, it wasn’t working.F

“Get up now, or I’m getting the iced water.”

“What, no good morning kiss?” Jack asked with a pout. John sneered back at him.

“Not with your morning breath. Go brush your teeth, and I might consider it.”

All else momentarily forgotten, including that odd sense of unease, Jack abandoned the warmth of the bed, and made for the bedroom.

“I hope you’re ready,” John said from the doorway of the little room. Jack found himself responding automatically, fast becoming bound within the flux of his memories.

“Are you kidding me? We’ve spent the last months chasing our tails, looking for the bastard responsible for the time shifts and manipulations. Now we’ve finally got a solid lead? I am ready like you wouldn’t believe, baby!”

In the midst of his excitement, Jack managed to spray toothpaste everywhere, attracting an irritated glare from his lover.

“This is why I’m the wife. You’re a slob.”

Jack grinned and quickly rinsed his mouth out before stalking up to his lover.

“But you love me anyway. Now, where’s that kiss you promised me...?”


The memory faded out, and a new one took its place.
...Time Agency Headquarters, Debriefing Room Nine. Jack always felt like a naughty schoolboy in this room. Technology developed over centuries, and they still couldn’t do better than eighteenth century Earth-style school desks. It never failed to amuse Jack, and the scenario almost always made him horny as hell. He’d lost count of the number of times he’d snuck into one of these rooms with someone to play out a fantasy or several.

The sharp sound of hands slamming down on the desk startled him back to reality, and he offered the senior agent as sexy a grin as he could summon. It was met with a dark glare, and a twinkle in the eye.

“Pay attention, Agent. If you make me punish you, I guarantee you’ll regret it.”

Jack licked his lips and grinned at the thought. The last time he’d been punished, his arse had hurt for a week, and not just from the caning he’d been given. It was not an entirely unpleasant thought. All the same, there was serious business at hand, and he really did need to listen.

Someone – or someones – in the Delta-Ro Quadrant had been triggering a series of illegal time shifts and vortex manipulations for more than three months, now, and a number of individuals wanted for various crimes had vanished without a trace. Somebody was running a very profitable business, it seemed, but they also ran the risk of ripping open the fabric of space and time itself in the process. After hitting one dead end after another, they finally had a solid tip leading them to where the disturbances were originating from, and both he and his partner were eager to get moving and see their investigation through.

He settled down again and listened as the senior agent briefed them on the plan of action, and he didn’t miss the resentful look on John’s face when they were told they would be joining the squad of agency soldiers, rather than the lead team of agents. He disliked it himself, but John was more likely to actively want to do something about it. He wasn’t wrong.

“We did the fucking leg work here,” John ranted as they headed towards the assembly room where they would be kitted out for the operation. “But do we get the glory we rightly deserve? No! Fucking Jaydn gets to run the show! You know she’s after another promotion? Seriously, mate, I’m tempted to fuck this up just out of spite.”

“I’m pissed, too,” Jack conceded. “But what can we do? And I’m not going to deliberately screw up the operation just because I feel slighted. We both did too much work on this to do that. Besides, the most important thing here is stopping the guy who’s doing this. Not advancing our careers.”

The words were barely out of his mouth before John exploded into gales of laughter, and Jack grimaced in discomfort and irritation. He probably should have known better than to throw a line like that at the guy he’d spent stuck with in a five year-long time loop.

“Bullshit! You wanted control of this just as much as I did, and don’t you bloody deny it!”

Jack considered arguing for all of five seconds before deciding that it wasn’t worth the aggravation. Not to mention, the son of a bitch was right.

“I’m not saying that. All I’m trying to say is that we need to have our priorities straight. This isn’t about us.”

And, even as he said the words, he knew full well that he didn’t believe them. Judging by the look on John’s face, the other man knew it, too. And, going by the devious glint in his eyes, he was about to make a suggestion that both of them would be sorry for later.

“Let’s take a ship, and get there first!”

Simple, logical and beyond stupid. He was wavering, though. John spotted it and, like a tiger sensing weakness in its prey, pounced.

“C’mon! We know the background, we know everything we need to know! We can do this on our own! You know we can! Let’s get the jump on all of them. You and me, together. Let’s show these pompous arsewipes what we can do.”

It should have disturbed Jack with how easy it was to ignore that little voice in the back of his mind that was telling him not to be a bloody idiot. In his usual fashion, though, he barely spared it a thought, though. By the time they’d slipped off and stolen an agency ship and were on their way to the Planet Gleb in the Delta-Ro Quadrant, that voice had been very thoroughly silenced...


...Jack had always known that when John had ideas, they usually ended up in trouble. It was how they’d wound up caught up in that damned time loop. He had always known that one day, following John’s lunatic plans would land him in very real and extreme jeopardy. However, the one thing that kept him from having his lover committed was the solid belief that that day was still a long way off.

Jack was wrong, and he had plenty of time to reflect on how wrong he was whilst suspended six feet off the floor and pinned to the wall by a man whose psychic powers were unlike anything Jack had ever known. He had plenty of time while their target-turned-assailant threw John around like a rag doll without laying a single finger on him.

He had more than enough time to consider his own mortality as John was eventually left in a bloodied heap, and their captor turned back to him with a feral grin. At that precise moment in time, Jack was fairly certain that he’d never been so glad as when his fellow Time Agents gatecrashed the party and surrounded them just as large, powerful hand closed around his throat and he felt his insides start to contract under the force of his captor’s power.

“Release him and surrender!” Jaydn Taark demanded. Jack caught her gaze, and his stomach dropped unpleasantly at the sneer he saw twisting her lips. Oh yeah. He and John were going to be in deep shit for this fuck-up. Although, given his current situation, the thought of spending a few days in a cell back at Headquarters, and perhaps getting a little corporal punishment, sounded like bliss by comparison.

It took a moment to realise that the hand around his throat, and the giant of a man that that hand was attached to, was not complying with the demand. If anything, the grip on his throat had tightened, and he could feel himself on the cusp of blacking out.

“You pathetic humans,” the man said in a voice that was deceptively beautiful in its intonation. “I do not surrender, and you have no technology capable of taking me down.”

Jack could see Jaydn edging forward slowly. He could see how furious she was, but right then he had never been more grateful for her utter professionalism. As angry as she might have been with him and John, he also knew that she would do nothing to endanger them even more. He saw her dark eyes flashing, and would have grimaced if he’d been able. He knew that look. If anyone was going to kill them, it was going to be her.

“Release your captives, and we won’t have to kill you,” Jaydn demanded.

The only response to that was harsh laughter.

“I don’t think so. Take your precious weapons, and go, and maybe I won’t kill you. As for these two, they spoiled my operation, and destroyed vital equipment. Equipment that took me years to build. I plan to take my payment for the damage done from them.” He paused, looking back at Jack, insane glee in his luminescent green eyes. “Or, perhaps just this one will suffice. You are beautiful, for a human, and it has been so long since I had a pet.”

Panic hit at the implication, and Jack began to struggle, but his efforts were useless against his captor’s psychic strength. A hand came up to rest against his temple, and Jack screamed in anguish as his mind was brutally invaded. His shields, such as they were, shattered under the ferocity of the mental assault.

The last thing he knew before losing consciousness were the green eyes that bore into him, and the all-encompassing voice in his mind telling him that his life was no longer his own...

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