A/N: I'm something of a glutton for punishment. This is my first Torchwood/Doctor Who fic, after spending a few years now lounging happily over in the Law & Order: Criminal Intent fandom. Now that I've finally discovered John Barrowman, though, the muse won't leave me alone.
I can't honestly say I know where this story is headed. I've decided to let the muse run with it, and see what happens. Although, I can say that the plot bunnies are starting to make themselves clearer to me by the day.
I am going to try and keep a low profile – I have three or four fics in my other fandom that have yet to be completed, but this one just wouldn't wait. I think my fellow fic writers would understand that. I hope they do.
Disclaimer: Torchwood and Doctor Who are the property of the BBC, and anyone else lucky enough to have their hand in the pie. I'm not one of them. Don't sue me – I have no money.
Rating: a strong T, for now. Descriptions of torture will follow in later scenes, as well as a good deal of emotional whompage on Captain Jack. Warnings will be duly posted.
NB: This story is set after the season three finale. My premise is thus: What if the Doctor decided he wasn't going to let Jack walk away? And what if Jack wasn't as well-adjusted after his year-long captivity as he appeared to be at the end of the season?
Reviews would be appreciated, as always, but try not to be too harsh.
I have now seen the final three episodes, and have edited the prologue accordingly. I'm ignoring the little incident with the Titanic crashing through the wall of the Tardis at the very end, but I've altered the prologue to take into consideration that Martha is no longer with the Doctor. Which makes it easier for me, really.
He jogged away from the Doctor and Martha, head held high and showing every intention of returning to the Hub. He ran, not walked, taking care not to give in to the temptation to look back, and see what he was giving up. What had, this time, been so freely and warmly offered to him by the Doctor. To look back now would have hurt far too much, and he'd already endured more hurt over the last year than even he was capable of withstanding.
He avoided the pavement block with the perception filter at the last moment, not because he didn't have the control in his possession to open it but simply because he felt surprisingly disinclined towards making such a showy entrance. Instead, he turned at the last moment and made for the tourist shack that served as a front for Torchwood's underground base.
As he drew nearer, his heart began to thump painfully in his chest as a thousand thoughts raced through his mind, and his quick jog slowed to a walk. As far as his team was aware, he would only have been gone for a short while, but he still wondered how they might receive him. After all, he had disappeared without so much as a goodbye, and then there was no knowing how their perceptions of him had been damaged by Saxon's public denouncement of the Doctor, Martha and himself as terrorists.
More than that, though, he found himself almost sick to his gut with nerves over the prospect of them discovering what had befallen him during the time he had been a prisoner of the Master.
For a long, painful minute, Jack stood outside the reception entrance to the Hub, staring at the door and torn over his desire to go in and a deeper instinct to turn and run. Instinct won, and he turned away from Torchwood Tower and away from the tourist shack, and headed instead for a sheltered spot some distance away. There, concealed in shadows and well-hidden from sight, but with a clear view of the two entrances to the Hub, Captain Jack Harkness sat down on the cold concrete, and waited.
The Doctor returned to the Roald Dahl Plass that afternoon, after saying a bittersweet farewell to Martha. He supposed he shouldn't have been surprised by her decision to stay with her family. After all, they needed her as much as he did, if not more. And to be fair, he had never really given Martha the consideration and attention that she deserved. Too long, he thought sadly. Too long he'd spent pining for Rose.
He didn't think Martha blamed him for that, but that didn't make it easier, or right. If he was honest with himself, he'd admit that he'd known even before taking Jack home that Martha would not be rejoining him.
A sigh escaped the Doctor as he strolled across the Plass, and back to the railing where he'd stood earlier that day, with Martha on one side of him, and Jack on the other. He'd known all right, but a part of him hadn't honestly cared. He still had one companion to look forward to travelling with… or so he'd thought.
Pole-axed didn't quite cover how he'd felt when Jack gently refused the invitation to go with him. He'd thought that Jack would have jumped at the offer to travel with him in the Tardis once more, to once again be a welcome guest… nay, a welcome companion.
It had been a great surprise to him that Jack had opted instead to return and take responsibility once more at Torchwood, but it had also been reassuring. After all, this present day Jack Harkness was a far cry from the carefree and often careless man of times past. He was a different man altogether, the Doctor mused, and definitely a better one for it.
The Doctor leaned against the railing, recalling the leaden feeling in the pit of his stomach as he'd watched Jack trot away towards the Torchwood hub, and couldn't help but wonder whether that feeling was anything like what Jack had felt on board the Game station, when he'd had to stand there and watch the Tardis disappearing before his eyes. Almost immediately, the Doctor rejected that comparison. He knew well enough that whatever strange, mixed emotions he had experienced that morning watching Jack leave could not hold a candle to the anguish that Jack must have suffered at being abandoned like that.
Sighing again, he pushed himself away from the railing and turned, intending to head back to the Tardis. He was so lost in his own thoughts that he almost didn't notice the figure that sat in the shadows on the ground some distance away, his greatcoat folded carefully around his powerful frame while staring away towards the Hub's public reception, by all appearances oblivious to everything else around him.
Curiosity was gradually replaced with concern as the Doctor observed the lone, forlorn figure. He wondered whether Jack had gone into the Hub, only to suffer rejection from his colleagues… or whether he hadn't even been inside yet. Watching as Jack lowered his head into his arms, the Doctor guessed that it was the latter; that he had never even made it inside the tourist shack that served as a front for Torchwood Three.
Normally, by this time, the Doctor would have moved on. He had never been one for hanging about in the aftermath. Finish the job and clear out fast had been his standard practise for many eons. He surprised himself, therefore, when instead of simply turning and heading back to the Tardis, he found himself walking across the concrete and over to where Captain Jack Harkness sat on the ground in a wretched heap.
He couldn't do this. After days… weeks… maybe even months of insisting to the Doctor that he was fine and that he was ready to go home and get back on the job, he had come very abruptly to the painful realisation that he was not ready at all, emotionally or mentally. The memories that he had struggled so hard to suppress now threatened to overwhelm him once more, and he didn't know if he could cope. Moreover, he knew in himself that he could not walk back into the Hub, and into the lives of his team, while he was still in such a raw emotional state.
A leader had to be strong in front of his team, and he refused to let any hint of weakness show. In his own defence, he knew his traumatised state of mind did not equate to being weak, but the principle was the same. To allow his team to see him broken like this would quite possibly shatter them, and he couldn't let that happen.
After a good couple of hours sitting alone in the shadows, he sensed someone approaching, and looked up just as the Doctor sat down beside him.
"You're still here," Jack said softly. It was less of a question than a surprised utterance. The Doctor appeared to be equally perplexed by his own presence, much to Jack's own amusement.
"Yes, I am, aren't I? Rather surprising, really. I'd normally be off again by now, wouldn't I?"
"So why are you still here?" Jack asked. The question came out sounding harsher than he'd really intended, but if the Doctor had noticed, he gave no sign.
"A few reasons, I expect," he answered in that same flippant tone that so successfully masked the very real concern he had for his friend. "Just as I imagine there are a few reasons why you obviously didn't go straight back into Torchwood."
His words struck a chord, and Jack looked away again, clearly distressed. When the Doctor spoke again, it was in an uncharacteristically gentle and caring tone.
"Come back to the Tardis with me, Jack. You're not ready for this. Come with me, and I promise you'll have as long as you need to heal."
It was tempting. Oh god, but it was tempting.
Jack shut his eyes, struggling to regain some degree of equilibrium, and remember why he'd refused the initial offer to stay on the Tardis.
"I need to be back here," he said softly. The Doctor looked over at the Torchwood Tower.
"For their sake?"
"No," Jack answered without hesitation. "For mine."
Jack felt a warm hand close over his own, and he looked down to see that the Doctor was now gently grasping his hand.
"Good answer," he said simply, approvingly.
"You're staying?" Jack wondered when the Doctor made no effort to get up again.
"For now," the Doctor answered. He smiled affectionately at Jack. "I have a patient here who needs his doctor."
They continued to sit there as the afternoon wore on, and dusk settled over Cardiff. Jack was apparently in no hurry to move, and the Doctor was in no hurry to make him.
"Thought they might have spotted me by now," Jack remarked quietly at one point. "I'll have to have a chat to Ianto about paying closer attention to the monitors. Never know what be lurking around."
The Doctor merely smiled at the remark, and said nothing.
Evening came, and then night proper fell, and still they sat there – the Doctor and Jack, side by side in comfortable silence.
And then, abruptly, Gwen and Toshiko appeared, stepping off the cement paving and into full view. Jack's breath caught in his throat as, for a fleeting moment, he thought they'd seen him. But no. They turned and headed away from him, oblivious to his presence. A soft sigh escaped Jack's lips that the Doctor initially thought to be disappointment. He realised an instant later that it wasn't disappointment, but rather relief. Jack was relieved that the women hadn't seen him.
"It'll be bad enough when I do have to face them," Jack said in answer to the unspoken question from the Doctor. "I just wasn't ready for it right now."
The Doctor regarded him soberly.
"Jack, are you ready for this at all?"
Jack ignored the question, watching intently as Owen appeared, exiting the shanty and heading away as well. That left only Ianto down in the Hub, and one was significantly easier to face than four… wasn't it?
Grimacing, he got stiffly to his feet.
"Time to go in there."
"Face them one at a time," the Doctor mused as he followed Jack's lead and got up as well. "There's a certain ape logic in that, I suppose." He slapped his palms together, startling Jack a little. "Well, let's go then, shall we?"
Jack stared at the Doctor, confused and perhaps a little bit hopeful as well.
"Yes. I think I'd like a look-see at this Torchwood that you say you've reformed in my honour."
Jack had to smile, both at the Doctor's audible curiosity and at the realisation that he really wasn't going to simply run off and leave him again.
"I abandoned you once," the Doctor admitted. "It was wrong… though I'm not making any apologies for that… but I'm not going to abandon you again."
Jack sighed softly, feeling relief wash over him and warm him all the way through.