Summary: Jack Harkness has been waiting, but he isn't prepared for the shock he'll get when he doesn't have to wait anymore. AU-ish post-'Doomsday'. Heavily implied Ten/Rose.
Disclaimer: Me no own-y Doctor Who. I just play. (And then get depressed by the results!)
This presumes that the Tenth Doctor and Rose had an ongoing relationship prior to 'Doomsday'. I guess like the one explored in my other stories Breath of Life and Golden Death (subtle plug there!). And this was inspired mostly by the first two episodes of Torchwood (how amazing were they!). And there was no Bride at the end of 'Doomsday' either, 'cause I think that was a crass way to end it - it's disrespectful to Rose's memory. But anyway.
Captain Jack Harkness stopped suddenly and froze, listening. His eyes went wide, the shock incongruous in such a capable face, and every single muscle in his body tensed.
No… It can't be… Can it?
An ethereal, unearthly moaning filled the still air of Cardiff city centre, and Jack's head turned, as if on automatic, towards the incongruous noise. No one was around at four on a freezing December morning; the clubbers had stumbled through their front doors long ago and the workaholics were only just beginning to think about rising. Jack was alone. Or, at least, he had been.
He began to run. Not away from the almost mournful moans, but towards them. Please let it be him. Please let it be him. His breath caught in his throat as he saw it; the faintest outlines of a worn old blue box, just appearing in the Welsh cold. Jack slowed his pace, almost wondrously. It is him. It has to be. He came to a stumbling halt a few metres away from the box as it creaked into existence; if he was drunk, and hallucinating, this illusion was too precious to break.
I was right to come here, Jack thought numbly. He had figured that Cardiff would be the best place to hang around if he was waiting for the Doctor. The Rift made sure of that; the TARDIS had to refuel eventually. And the twenty-first century? Well. It was when everything changed. The American had been waiting for so long now, so long. It was almost dreamlike: he was actually there.
The door opened and a stranger stepped out. A flood of fear and disappointment flooded through Jack. Disappointment: he hasn't come. Fear: where is he? This stranger leaned back against the TARDIS's blue panels and let his eyes slide shut. A sigh escaped the man's thin lips, clear in the cold morning. Jack felt a sudden blast of restlessness; he was callously watching this man's pain. Voyeurism… Not really my thing. He shifted from foot to foot.
The stranger's eyes opened and he looked over at Jack. The man blinked once in bewilderment, and then straightened up, wonder written all over his features. "Jack…?"
Jack took a defensive step backwards. "Do I know you?"
A smile almost seized the man's lips, but something seemed to repress the joy. He seemed tired, and Jack felt a sudden blast of recognition. It can't be… Is that him? "It's me," the man said softly, his dark eyes following Jack's tiniest movement. "I look a bit different…" He cast a brief glance down at himself. "But I promise. It's me."
It was the eyes that did it; no one had ever managed to make Jack feel so insignificant, so young, with a mere look. Jack stepped forward slowly, warily. "Doctor?!" the American finally managed, incredulous. "Is that you?"
The smile flickered back, but for the briefest fraction of a millisecond. "Yes. It is. In the flesh." He shrugged. "So to speak."
"I thought regeneration was just a myth," Jack murmured.
"You thought wrong." Depression; grief; heartache. All were blazingly obvious in his voice.
What's wrong with him? Even the 'old' Doctor hadn't been this… melancholy. This resigned. What happened? Sudden fear gripped the ex-Time Agent's heart; fear, and horrified realisation. Someone was missing. Oh God… No… Please, no…
"Where's Rose?" he choked out, his heart already knowing the answer.
This new Doctor's face closed off, all emotion blanked. He didn't answer, but his dark gaze never left Jack's face. And that non-reaction told him everything he needed to know.
"No…" he whispered.
The Doctor gestured back towards the TARDIS. "It's warmer inside," he said simply. Jack numbly nodded.
Two clear cut crystal tumblers rested on the TARDIS console, each half-filled with amber liquid. It had been a while since Jack had actually drunk this much; he'd always preferred to at least try to keep his wits about him. But now… He'd just found out that Rose was gone. He'd just discovered that the human girl he'd grown to love as a sister had been ripped out of her home and washed up in another universe.
Alcoholic indulgence was a must.
"I can't believe it." The American's words were only slightly slurred. The heady fuzz of the alcohol in his mind was a welcome dulling to the razor-sharp pain of her sudden loss. A slight tingle of amusement made itself known in his mind. He'd never coped with emotional turmoil well.
"Believe it." The Doctors long fingers played lazily with one of the pair of tumblers. "And I just stood there. And let it happen."
"You did everything you could."
"Doesn't matter. I failed her."
Jack didn't miss the biting bitterness in the Time Lord's voice, and he rolled that fact over in his slightly fogged mind. Bitterness and pain. No. Not pain. Utter agony. And he abruptly realised exactly why the Doctor was verging on suicidal. "You told her."
Love always did do crazy things to a person.
The Time Lord didn't even look up. "Yeah. I did." The tumbler was raised and the amber nectar was downed in one. He swallowed roughly, eyes squeezing shut from the burn of the spirits. "I did."
Jack was afraid to know. "And she…?"
Jack's features softened. "I'm so sorry."
"Yeah." The Doctor rolled the glass in his left hand, leaning heavily against the TARDIS console. "So am I." A pause, and then a pained smirk. "I always am. I'm always sorry for something." The tumbler was cast aside, dropping to the grating on the floor. The Doctor didn't seem to care.
"Isn't there any way…?"
"No." He was decisive; agonizingly decisive. "There is no way to get her back." His gaze swayed over to Jack's face. "Not without both universes collapsing into the Void." Jack had never seen the Doctor this open, or this emotional. On some levels, it was scary. "I should have known; should've picked something up before it was too late."
"You did all you could."
"How d'you know?"
Jack smiled gently, despite the pain. "Because you're the Doctor. And that's what you do. You do everything you can to save people."
"I left you on Satellite 5," the Doctor pointed out.
"You thought I was dead," Jack countered.
Jack studied this new Doctor's features, so opposite to the old, but so similar at the same time. "You did everything you could," he said softly. "And Rose knows that." The Doctor stiffened. Rose's name had only been mentioned once before; when the pair of them were outside the TARDIS. Jack could tell that her name was still painful. "She won't blame you."
"How can you know?"
"Because she loves you. What other answer d'you need?"
They sat in silence after that; silence only broken by the rustle of fabric as Jack gave wordless comfort to Rose's Doctor as tears ran down the Time Lord's pale cheeks.
"Will you be okay?" The Doctor leaned against the doorway of the TARDIS, watching Jack as the rogue Time Agent stepped out into the Cardiff cold.
The American nodded, digging his hands into the pockets of his coat. "I'll be fine." He turned to face the Doctor. "Will you? Will you be okay?"
The Time Lord met his gaze squarely. "I'll survive." He dropped his eyes briefly, and then reconnected with Jack. "I would ask you to come with me but…" He trailed off, but Jack understood. He understood more than the grieving Doctor knew.
I remind you of Rose. We were with you at the same time; you look at me and you remember her. And that hurts. I know.
"Don't worry about it." Jack smiled. "But if you ever get lonely, you know where I'll be."
The Doctor smiled faintly, a far cry from the grins Jack just knew could split that youthful face. "Yeah. I do." He stood up straight in the entrance to his home, and his eyes conveyed his thanks to Jack. "See you around, Jack Harkness."
Jack just nodded, and smiled. He turned away and began to make his way back across the square. He heard the TARDIS door shut, and he heard the time machine's engines start up with the same mournful moaning. In that moment he knew that he'd not be seeing the Doctor again for a long time. He sighed softly, and just hoped that the broken man he'd just met would heal before the two men's paths crossed again.
Captain Jack Harkness squared his shoulders and didn't look back as, for the second time, the TARDIS faded out of his life.