Rating: K +
Notes: Set after 'The Doctor Dances', before 'Boom Town'. Rose has a bad dream and seeks comfort, but Jack has something to say about that.
Rose dreamed about the Dalek again, and she didn't want to go to the Doctor for comfort because of the dead look in his eyes whenever anything reminded him about his dead planet. So she went to Jack.
She knocked on his bedroom door. He called for her toenter in a sleep-ridden voice, and she slipped in and closed the door behind her.
"Rose?" He peered at her through the darkness, then reached across and switched on a light. "Are you okay?"
"No," Rose admitted after a moment. "No, I…I had a bad dream."
Jack raised his eyebrows. "Don't you usually go to the Doctor when you have a nightmare?" He'd discovered the two on several occasions sitting in the kitchen with hot chocolate following one of Rose's nightmares.
"He doesn't like talking about…this thing," Rose said softly. "I just…"
She must have looked thoroughly miserable, because Jack pulled his blanket to one side and patted the bed. He was wearing boxers, which Rose was very grateful for. She slipped into the bed and rested her head on his chest. It was odd, not hearing two heartbeats, but he was warmer than the Doctor.
"So," he said after a moment, "do you want to talk about it?"
Rose squeezed her eyes shut. "I…I don't know."
"Okay," Jack nodded, wrapping his arms around her. "It's okay, Rose. Whatever it was, it wasn't real. It can't hurt you."
"It was real," Rose said in a low voice. "It wasn't a nightmare, it was a memory. Sort of. I…it was a while ago. The TARDIS got pulled off course, there was a distress signal…we landed in Utah in two thousand and twelve…" She shivered.
"It's okay, Rosie," Jack soothed. "You don't have to talk about this."
"There was this man…Van Statten. He had an alien museum. Things from all over. There was a Slitheen arm, and something from the Roswell crash. All sorts."
"Sounds harmless," Jack said after a moment.
"It was," Rose agreed. "All except his one living specimen." She pulled a face. "He shut the Doctor in with it, and he had it tortured, and then I let it free."
"Was it dangerous?"
"Yeah," Rose said bitterly. "And I set it free 'cos I felt sorry for it. It killed hundreds of the guards there. Hundreds of them. And it wanted to kill me, and Van Statten. And the Doctor. Only it didn't. It didn't kill me, and I stopped it killing Van Statten, and it destroyed itself 'cos it was changing." She opened her eyes and pulled away so she could look at him. "Only in my dream, that's not what happened," she told him. "In my dream, it killed Van Statten and it killed Adam and the Doctor. And I saw it all happen."
Jack hugged her close to him. "Oh, Rose," he murmured. "It didn't happen like that."
"I know," Rose said, struggling to keep her tears at bay. "But it was so real…" She clenched her hand into a fist. "I touched it…and it took my DNA, or something, and it changed, and it got free, and it was all my fault – and he never blamed me for it."
"What was it?" Jack asked. "The alien?"
"A Dalek," Rose said quietly. "The last Dalek."
Jack's arms around her tensed. "A Dalek? But they're all gone, they were destroyed in the Time War."
Rose nodded. "All but that one, the Doctor said. Like him, the only survivor of a race. It self-destructed, 'cos it couldn't bear to be different."
She rested in his arms in silence for a while, enjoying the relative safety that he offered her. It was nothing like being held by the Doctor, but it was enough for now. A big brother's embrace was something she'd missed, growing up.
She shifted at last and sighed.
"Sorry," she said. "I woke you up, didn't I?"
"Not really," Jack lied. He was disturbed, more than he liked to admit, by what Rose had told him. He didn't like the idea of even one Dalek surviving. He'd fought against them, in the Time War. They were brutal killing machines. And the thought of Rose, his little Rosie, being confronted with one…she'd had no idea what it was, no comprehension of what it could do. She'd just shown compassion to a living thing.
He held her tighter. "I'm glad you were alright," he said in a rare show of emotion. "Don't do that again, okay?"
Rose smiled weakly. "Wasn't planning on it," she answered. "Do you…would you mind if I slept in here tonight?"
Jack smiled – not a flirtatious smile, or a smirk, but a genuinely happy smile.
"No, I don't mind," he said gently. "You just stay right where you are." She snuggled closer to him happily and fell asleep swiftly.
Once he was sure she was deeply asleep, Jack slipped out from under her, pulled a t-shirt over his head, and went in search of the Doctor.
"Thought you were asleep," was the alien's greeting to him when Jack entered the console room. "Bad dream or something?"
"Rose had a nightmare," Jack said bluntly. The Doctor looked up from his tinkering, worry etched on his face, which Jack noted with a hint of satisfaction. "She said she couldn't go to you about it, so she came and found me. She's asleep in my bed."
The Doctor grimaced. "The Dalek," he muttered. "She dreamed about the Dalek." Jack nodded, and the Doctor slammed a fist against the console. A light flickered, the TARDIS letting him know his displeasure. He didn't pay any attention to it. "Damn."
Jack sighed. The Doctor never swore.
"She told me what happened," he offered. "About how she let it free, and it did what Daleks do best, and then self-destructed."
"Yeah," the Doctor said grimly. "Did she tell you how she was between it and me, when I was pointing a gun at it? About how I lost it, when I saw it?"
"No," Jack said. "She told me that you didn't blame her for letting it free. She blames herself, though, or she wouldn't be having these nightmares about it killing you."
"I know," the Doctor said reluctantly. "But…" He sighed. "It's complicated."
"I don't care," Jack said flatly. "I love Rose. She's like my sister. And she needed you tonight. I was second best. And she couldn't go to you because you're hung up over the Daleks. There's something wrong with that."
"Have you ever seen a Dalek, Jack?" the Doctor asked, finally looking Jack in the eye. He was deadly serious, but Jack wasn't going to back down.
"Yes," the human nodded. "I've seen them. Fought against them in the Time War."
"My people fought them," the Doctor said, his voice low and too even. "We were their enemy. We were to be wiped out at all costs. And oh, we were wiped out. They took the Daleks with them, though. And then there was one left. One Dalek survivor. And I was trapped in a room with it, and I was more scared than I'd ever been in all of nine hundred years. It was broken. Couldn't kill me. So I yelled at it, taunted it with its uselessness and with the fact that it was the only one left. Only it reminded me, I'm the only one left too. And then it got free and started killing, and I was the only one that had seen a Dalek before, I was the only one that knew how to stop them. And I had to seal the vault, and I sealed Rose in with it, and I thought she was dead. Only she wasn't, and I let the Dalek out and found a gun and I was going to shoot it, but Rose stopped me. It destroyed itself. Do you know what it's like, to see your greatest enemy protected by your greatest –" He broke off and turned away from Jack, anger and pain radiating from his tense frame.
Jack approached him and rested his hand on the Doctor's shoulder.
"No," he said quietly. "I don't know what it's like. All I know is that Rose cried herself to sleep."
The Doctor glanced at Jack, shoulders drooping. "It's not easy," he said. "Any of it." Being alone, he wanted to say. Being in love.
Jack understood, however. "It never is," he agreed. "But she needs you, Doctor. Not me. Not a brother. She needs you."
He watched the Doctor go with something akin to regret in his eyes.