Disclaimer: Doctor Who and Torchwood belong to the BBC and Russell T. Davies. They are not mine, nor will they ever be.
Spoilers: 'The Parting of the Ways'
This Thing Called Love
The day Jack Harkness realised he loved the Doctor was just like any other.
They had set down on another fabulously weird planet, gone for a walk, met the locals, pissed off the locals, been chased back to the TARDIS by the locals, taken off in a hurry, and were now floating serenely through the time vortex.
Rose had gone to change her clothes, having slipped over in a patch of mud during their rather hurried escape. The Doctor had returned to his endless tinkering with his ship's circuits. And Jack…Jack was watching the Doctor.
And it was then that it hit him, for no particular reason – he was in love with the Doctor.
Jack's first instinct was to dismiss it – there was no way he could love the Doctor. Love presupposed some kind of emotional attachment, and Jack didn't allow himself to form those.
But the feeling wouldn't go away, and his next instinct was to run from it. If he could leave it behind, lose it in some way, he wouldn't have to acknowledge it.
But that wouldn't work. He was hardly in a position to run. Time vortexes didn't make for very good human living conditions. He was stuck.
So, in the end, he had no choice but to follow the rather radical course of letting the feelings in.
The idea scared the shit out of him. Jack didn't do love. And he had no idea what to do with love. Plus, the Doctor wasn't exactly the most receptive person in the universe. There was a good chance that if Jack declared his feelings he would either be laughed at or kicked out – probably into the non-conducive-to-human-living time vortex.
No, he would have to give it some time. See where this entirely new situation led. Feel his way carefully. Try and work out if this thing called love would end well or not.
The day Jack Harkness stopped flirting with the Doctor was just like any other.
Except that Jack Harkness had stopped flirting with the Doctor.
The Doctor noticed it immediately. Usually his time was equally split between fixing the TARDIS, showing Rose the universe…and rebuffing Jack's advances. Now a full third of his time was suddenly lacking in something to fill it.
Suspicion immediately reared its ugly head. What had Jack done now? The only possible reason for his sudden reticence was that he was feeling guilty about something he'd done – either to the TARDIS, or during their last trip to the fabulously weird planet that the Doctor had forgotten the name of.
But somehow that didn't seem to be quite right. Jack wasn't avoiding the Doctor – which he certainly would have been doing if he'd thought he was in trouble. He was still being friendly – laughing and joking with Rose, offering helpful hints on how to maintain the ship, suggesting fantastic places that they simply had to visit. He was still Jack…in all but one respect. No flirting.
And the Doctor was surprised to find that he missed it. While it had annoyed him at first, he had eventually got used to it. He had even grudgingly started to enjoy it, on occasion giving back as good as he got. But now there was nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch.
And the Doctor began to wonder just what exactly was going on inside Jack's head.
The day Jack Harkness told the Doctor he loved him was not just like any other.
"I wish I'd never met you, Doctor. I was better off as a coward."
And then Jack Harkness kissed the Doctor, just once. And the Doctor suddenly saw what he'd been failing to see for quite some time now.
But it was too late. It was all too late. Because Jack was going to his death. They both knew it, and they couldn't stop it.
Strangely, though, Jack didn't mind. For the first time in his life he was doing the right thing. And not because of guilt, or psychology, but because of love. He was willing to face death to save the Doctor. And knowing that the Doctor knew that was all he needed. Now he could rest easy.
This thing called love was going to end well. Jack wasn't, but the love was. Jack wished he could be around to see it, but he knew he wouldn't be. But at least the Doctor would.