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The Crack House: A Home For Orphaned Prompts

Chapter Text

Interlude

- OR -

He's Baaaaaack!

After sleeping about a dozen years, without once being awoken by any irritating high squeaky voices, Charlie cracked one eye open. He was terribly thirsty and terribly hungry. He saw innocent blue sky over innocent blue sea, with innocent waves washing gently on the innocent sandy beach, an innocent mild breeze stirring the innocent palm leaves above. He opened the other eye, rolled himself up and looked around. No pink or blue unicorns - no unicorns of any color - no one at all around. A stream gurgled from the hilly forest down to the beach and out to the ocean. He walked over, looked carefully again, and very cautiously bent to take a drink. A quick sip and he backed off immediately. Nothing happened. Just waves washing, breeze blowing, stream gurgling. He bent to take a longer drink. A buzzing startled him and he jumped back five feet, but it was just an innocent fly. A swish of the tail flicked it away. He returned to the stream and drank his fill.

No longer thirsty, Charlie waddled along the shore, his belly sloshing with that uncomfortable feeling of several gallons of water in an otherwise empty stomach, hoping to find something to eat. Maybe a cafe, or a grocers, or even a convenience store. A food cart? A vending machine? Anything?

Chapter 24

- OR -

All's Well That Ends. Well...

After Captain Aubrey confiscated Bonden's dice and set him to hauling timber for the carpenter, he stood hands on hips looking down at Lady Clonfert, who stared defiantly back at him, and wondered how in God's name he was going to explain this to Captain Lord Clonfert. Out of the corner of his eye he saw the tip of a white horn come around the curve of the island along the shore. "It's that damned odd narwhal again!" he cried.

"What?" Stephen looked around.

"A narwhal - a narwhal's horn - tusk rather - but on a creature with legs. Look!" Jack remembered his odd vision of a narwhal treading water years ago while cutting out the Fanciulla, just before his duel with Stephen. He'd never even had a chance to mention the creature to him. And here it was again, years later and on the other side of the ocean.

Charlie had seen them and came trotting up quickly. People meant food, especially the tall healthy-looking full-bodied yellow-haired man.

"A unicorn," breathed Stephen. The Rinion in him knew all about unicorns, and for what they were especially useful. He walked up to meet it.

Charlie obligingly lowered his head to gaze upon the young girl with his eyes as adorably soft as he could make them. She reached up gently to stroke his horn.

As Jack stood staring, astonished beyond words, Lady Clonfert grew. Right back to her old self. Well, not quite her old self - she looked much healthier and happier than Jack had ever seen her. Her cheeks still retained their rosy glow, the frown lines that had seemed etched in her forehead and mouth were erased, the forward hunched stoop of her posture relaxed and lightened.

She turned towards him smiling. "The touch from the horn of a unicorn has the power to heal any illness or injury." Stephen himself was almost overwhelmed with happiness, a condition he'd rarely experienced before. Although pleased to be restored to his proper age (he had not looked forward to experiencing the throes of puberty again), feeling himself united inside once again engendered a wonderful sense of relief mingled with joy.

Jack's mind had wrapped around the idea that a unicorn could possibly exist - certainly not all the lands of the world had been thoroughly explored. But his amazement at Lady Clonfert's regrowth still took him aback. His mind was just forming the words, "Now I won't have to explain anything to Clonfert--!" when yet another figure stepped from the forest.

"Ah, my dear Rinion, excellent work! I knew I had chosen the right man for the job." This figure was at least human, and he spoke English. How he had come to be on this previously unknown island in the South Atlantic was a mystery that did not even make the short trip across Jack's mind. The man was fixing a halter over the unicorn's head, which was allowing it, albeit reluctantly.

"Do you have anything to eat?" whined Charlie as The Doctor led him away.

"Oh yes, of course," said The Doctor, rummaging in his pockets. "Here you are." He held out a couple sugar cubes and an apple, which Charlie snatched up instantly.

"Thanks," he said, a little wetly. "I was hoping for maybe a hamburger? With fries? A milkshake?"

"Oh, ah, let's see what we have back at TARDIS, shall we?"

A talking unicorn proved too much for Jack, but the odd man was leading it away into the forest, where they both vanished from sight. No longer a problem, then. And Lady Clonfert was back in her rightful shape, so also no longer a problem. He could now forget all the ridiculously absurd things that had happened here. Except for the sudden appearance of this island at all, but that wasn't strictly impossible...

Something the man had said suddenly struck Jack. "Beg pardon, Lady Clonfert, are you acquainted with that gentleman?"

Stephen hesitated, "Yes, a little. Perhaps not well enough for introductions."

"Oh no, not at all. Clearly he just came for - for his unicorn. I thought I heard him address you as Rinion?"

"Yes, I believe he did."

"Then you are not Lady Clonfert?" cried Jack.

"I am not."

"And you are not married?"

"No, my dear, I am not."

"Then will you marry me?" Jack blushed at the sudden baldness of his proposal.

Stephen looked up at Jack, into his ridiculously blue eyes, the red flush climbing his face intensifying the blue. In all the universes, in all the forms he had known Jack, always the same ridiculous blue eyes. But Stephen had no more time to contemplate the absurdity of it, for from his own lips he heard himself say, "Yes, Jack, I will."

He had the pleasure of watching the blue deepen as Jack's eyes crinkled to slits under the force of his smile. Then Jack's mouth descended upon his and they were kissing.

Some time later: "You do understand, joy, that I am not a woman."

Jack smiled. "Yes, Stephen, I know you are not. I do not know why you choose to go about dressed as a lady. I do know that I love you dearly, and I wish to be with you always."

Unfortunately for Jack he was wrong about the odd man being gone, for now here he was returning, although at least without his unicorn.

"Well, Dr. Maturin, or Rinion I should say, TARDIS is ready to take you back home."

At these words Stephen felt the same dismay that he saw on Jack's face. A coldness gripped his heart. His selves - Rinion and Stephen - had integrated so well. He no longer felt that same sense of emptiness, or incompleteness that had plagued him all his life: that Stephen had attributed to his bastardy and Rinion to his mixed heritage. He felt whole. And then Jack - at that thought his dismay gave way to an indescribable sadness. He could see his friend preparing to say goodbye. He could not bear the thought. "No, thank you, I believe I - we - will stay here, as I am. I have an - an engagement still to keep," he smiled at Jack. "A most pressing engagement, which I expect will last a lifetime. Or two."

~*~*~*~

For the wedding Captain Aubrey was magnificent in his full dress uniform, complete with his Nile medal, one-hundred-guinea presentation sword, and the chelengk glinting from his number one scraper. Stephen's eyes were transfixed by the central glowing gem. "Ain't it a pretty bauble?" said Jack, working the mechanism that turned the diamond aigrette. "The Sultan of Turkey gave it to me for knocking a rebel of his on the head."

"Sure, it is the beauty of the world," said Stephen. "May I examine it?" Jack unfastened it from his hat and passed it over.

"Pure light itself, for all love," Stephen murmured to himself, as he viewed the Silmaril in the palm of his hand.