…eek. I know, I fail at life. Apologies! Hopefully this update will make up for it!
Without any more delay…:
Disclaimer: Oh, how I wish… but no, Doctor Who is not mine.
Jenny skidded into the Torchwood hub, barely avoiding a tumble down a set of stairs by grabbing hold of a railing. Her almost-accident did not bother her for too long, as she immediately demanded, "Did you guys see that?"
The audience she was referencing – Martha, Rose, Mickey, Gwen, Ianto, Sylvia and Wilf – were stood around a desk, staring at one of the computers. At Jenny's exclamation, Rose turned around, and the young Time Lady noticed how ashen she was.
"We did," Rose confirmed, "The ship must have blown."
"They did it," Mickey added in a shaky voice. Martha whimpered, reaching out and grabbing his hand, "The Doctor and Jack – they must have blown it up,"
"But what happened to 'em?" Wilf asked in a small voice. A deafening silence descended on the hub.
The implications of recent events – the ship's explosion, and the no-show of Jack and the Doctor – occurred to Jenny and she stumbled down the stairs, sinking down to sit on them. She propped her elbows on her knees and her head fell into her hands as she trembled. It wasn't fair. She had just found her father again and what if he was…
An arm suddenly wrapped around Jenny, and she became aware of a comforting presence at her side: "'Ere, come on, darling. It'll be okay."
Jenny looked up with wide, worried eyes, to see Donna's grandfather smiling as warmly as he could.
"I have since your dad defy the odds in lots of situations," Wilfred confided, "He's always made it before, and he's not gonna give up now – not now you're waiting down here for him."
Jenny scoffed, recalling a time when her father wanted nothing more than to see the back of her. In response to her cynical noise, Wilfred tightened his hold around her, pulling her further into the embrace. Jenny frowned, unsure about his actions: "What are you doing?"
"Giving you a hug."
Wilfred looked slightly taken aback, but quickly decided it must be a Martian thing, "It's what we do here on Earth – to offer comfort to someone."
Jenny mimicked his surprised look; her natural instincts told her that comfort was unnecessary, and all that mattered was fighting the good cause and being a worthy solider. However, she was still shaking with the knowledge that she might never see her father again, and Wilfred was warm and smelt like peppermint, so Jenny decided to give these Earth customs a try. Wilfred smiled victoriously as Jenny snuggled closer to him.
Smiling at the sight, the others, all of who looked somewhat pacified by Wilfred's optimism, glanced at each other.
"Jack's been in worse scrapes," Gwen conceded aloud, "And that means the Doctor's been in much worse situations."
Martha rolled her eyes, "Believe me – you have no idea."
She tightened her grip on Mickey's hand.
"We have one minute – run!"
Jack had run with the Doctor plenty of times, but this was probably the most frenzied and panicked their escape had ever been. The Doctor kept a firm grip on Jack's coat, dragging him along and ensuring the immortal did not fall behind. Jack, however, managed to keep up pretty well, spurred on by the thought of getting home and – well – imminent death.
Neither of the men had any idea how they managed to go so quickly, but just as red lights and klaxons were beginning to go off, the Tardis came into view around a corner. They were in the home stretch. Somewhere they found the strength to speed up, bolting towards the blue box. The Doctor stretched his hand out in front of them and snapped his fingers; the Tardis doors fell open, just as the two men tumbled in. Jack hit the ground heavily, gasping for air, but the Doctor scrambled to his feet and ran to the Tardis, pulling levers and smashing buttons.
"Come on!" he ground out, lurching as the ship lunged into the roughest flight Jack had ever felt on board her. But it felt as if she was flying – they were safe.
Suddenly, there was the noise of a blast from outside, and the Tardis practically somersaulted as the explosion of the Okoquian ship propelled her into her flight. Jack clung to the grating of the floor, squeezing his eyes shut. He had always hated theme park rides, and this was ten times worse.
The Doctor turned to see his friend sprawled over the floor, and quickly went to his side, "Jack! Are you okay?"
"Jack, stay awake now," the Doctor demanded, inspecting Jack's dark head for signs of bleeding from the fall he took earlier – none to speak of, but there was a pretty nasty bump, "We've escaped the ship, the blast, everything. We're on our way home – we've won."
The Doctor didn't sound particularly happy, and somewhere in his muddled brain, Jack knew that this was just another thing the Doctor was going to add to his guilt list. In an attempt to raise some cheer from the Time Lord, Jack cracked open one eye and feebly lifted his fist in a celebratory gesture, saying from behind gritted teeth, "Awesome. Team Tardis – undefeated!"
It worked, and the Doctor smiled.
"Can you sit up?" he asked, already slipping an arm under Jack and helping him back onto his knees. They succeeded in moving him, and Jack swayed in his new position for a moment, before falling backwards, landing on his backside and hitting the wooden doors of the Tardis with his back. The whole world swam briefly for Jack.
"I think you may have a concussion," the Doctor told him, kneeing before him and peering into Jack's blue eyes, "When we get home, I'll have Martha look you over."
The mention of their friend Martha suddenly brought the realisation that they had won home for Jack. They had defeated the Okoquians for good, and were now going home. Back to Torchwood, back to Martha. Back to Donna. His fiancée.
"I'm marrying her."
The Doctor frowned, blinking at Jack owlishly. For the first time since they had reached the Tardis, Jack looked properly aware of his surroundings. "Who?"
Jack's face split into a lopsided grin, "Donna. I asked her, and she said she would. Marry me, that is. We're getting married."
The Doctor stared at him, mouth slightly ajar. And then: "Oh."
"Aren't you happy for us?"
"Ye- … yes, of course I am. That's excellent news."
Jack squinted at the Doctor, registering his lack of excitement, "You could look a bit happier, Doc,"
The Doctor sighed and sat back on his heels, "Jack. I'm honestly glad you found someone – but Donna is… Donna's a…"
"A Time Lord now," Jack finished grimly, "You don't think I'm good enough for her,"
"It's not that, Jack," the Doctor said firmly, "I know you are a good man – a wonderful man. But Time Lords don't marry human beings. It's just not done,"
"You mean it wasn't done. The rest of the Time Lords are dead now, you have to carry on somehow, right? New era, Doc."
The Doctor clicked his tongue, irritated, "The Time Lords' almost-extinction doesn't change sensibilities, Jack. I still have them – which means Donna does too,"
"She was born on Earth! She's been a human for most of her life, and she'll retain her human sensibilities." Jack scoffed, mocking the Doctor slightly. The Time Lord's eyes narrowed.
"She will live much longer than you," he reminded Jack, "She'll regenerate, and change. That's why Time Lords would never be with humans – you wither and die, while we go on. Think about what it will do to her, Jack. You must understand my concern!"
"I do," conceded Jack, "But I've got a pretty hefty lifespan myself, Doc,"
The Doctor flinched slightly, imperceptibly. Jack frowned.
"That's right, you do. But even that must come to an end," the Doctor told him, quietly and mysteriously, as if he knew something Jack didn't.
"What do you-?"
The Doctor shook his head, and Jack realised it was better he didn't ask. He probably didn't really want to know, anyway.
"What about Rose?" Jack asked, changing the subject suddenly. The Doctor's brows shot up.
"What about her?"
"Aren't you two together, now that she's back?" Jack asked, cocking his head and giving the Doctor a smirk.
"Jack," the Doctor exclaimed, flushing slightly. The Doctor got more embarrassed at talk of such things than a Victorian would.
"Rose and I are not together. Not in that way," the Doctor clarified, although it wasn't without a hint of disappointment, "We've…"
He gestured lamely with his hand, before admitting, "We've kissed, a couple of times. Things are… are different, yeah. But—but nothing's… nothing's official."
"'Nothing's official'?" Jack repeated, unamused, "You really are an idiot, aren't you?"
"I beg your pardon!" the Doctor exclaimed, reeling back, "I am not an idiot – I'll have you know that if it weren't for me…"
"If it weren't for you, the Universe would not exist, Earth would be destroyed twenty times over, various scientific discoveries wouldn't have been made, a few colours wouldn't have been found, yadda yadda yadda, I know all that. You may be a genius in that respect, but you're a dumbass in all others."
The Doctor's mouth fell open, surprised at Jack's tirade.
"Rose is in love with you, and you love her too." Jack stated, "You shouldn't keep her hanging, you shouldn't do this to yourself!"
"I can't," the Doctor shook his head and got to his feet, moving away from Jack. "I just…I can't," He reached the Tardis console and started playing with some levers and buttons, avoiding Jack's gaze.
"She'll be gone, soon. I'll have to lose her, all over again and next time for eternity. Donna will lose you too, but at least she'll have you for much, much longer than I'll have Rose. She'll live for another sixty, seventy years - if that. Then she'll die, and I'll have to survive without her. Seventy years…"
The Doctor suddenly turned around, surprising Jack with the raw, heartbreaking emotion on his face, "Do you know what that's like for someone who was born centuries ago, and still has centuries to go? Someone who can live forever? Seventy years – that's the blink of an eye! I open myself up, I admit I love her, then one blink later and I have to go on without her. Isn't it better that I don't get her to begin with?"
Jack was the one person the Doctor allowed himself to be honest with, especially with matters of the heart. Even so, his revelations made him awkward, and he turned back to the console, moving slowly, painfully, the full weight of his long life sitting on his shoulders. Absently, he started playing with the levers and knobs on the Tardis. Jack swallowed thickly and, using the Tardis' railings, pulled himself onto unsteady feet.
"Doc, I promise you, it'd be worth it," he said firmly, staggering up the ramp, "When you live as long as we do, any happiness – even if it lasts for just a blink – is worth it. We've seen so much bad, that I think we could both use some joy, right? You and Rose… Donna and I… that'll get us through the darkness, don't you think?"
"You're saying one moment of happiness will make the unhappiness seem better?" the Doctor asked bitterly, reminded of a beautiful courtier, wise beyond her years, who he had met in Paris.
Jack paused for a moment, then answered honestly: "Yes."
The Doctor swallowed thickly as Jack came to rest on the console beside him.
"Nobody deserves this more than you, Doctor. You've got Rose, Jenny's back, another Time Lord exists... allow yourself this." Jack said firmly, "It won't matter, in the end, as long as you're happy – even if it is jut for the blink of an eye."
The Doctor glanced at Jack, just as the Tardis landed.
Jenny didn't even wait for the Tardis door to open – she leapt at it pushing it open herself and leaping at the surprised humanoid behind it.
"Dad!" she exclaimed, enveloping him in a bone-crushing hug, "I thought I'd never see you again – I thought you'd been blown up!"
The Doctor squeezed her back just as tight, maneuvering her back out of the Tardis so that Jack could escape. Jenny pulled back and looked up at her dad, tears glistening in her eyes.
"Hey – why are you crying?" her father asked softly, stroking her cheeks with his thumbs, "I'm here, I'm alright,"
"I was worried." Jenny responded thickly, "I thought you'd left me, again,"
The Doctor felt a stab of guilt, and quickly pulled her back into his embrace. Jenny happily burrowed close to him, almost stepping inside his trench coat with him.
Rose smiled at the sight, and her smile widened when she met the Doctor's eyes over Jenny's blonde head. Wordlessly, he held out one arm to her and she stepped into the embrace, one arm around the Doctor and the other stroking Jenny's back soothingly.
Jack, meanwhile, had been pushed between Gwen, Mickey and Ianto for hugs and handshakes respectively, and was now being yanked into the medical bay by Martha, who had noticed his concussion immediately.
"I'm fine, honestly," Jack insisted for the tenth time, even as the world span. Martha rolled her eyes and gently propelled him into a seat.
"Just let me check – it's what you pay me for, isn't it?"
"I thought I paid you in opportunities to check out Mickity-Mick?" Jack said with a wink, his eyes wandering pointedly to her ringless left hand. Martha blushed deeply.
"You pay me for my medical services first," she insisted, trying to hold her head high despite embarrassment. She pulled a small torch out of her white coat and shined the light in Jack's eyes.
"Where's Donna?" Jack asked, wriggling under Martha's firm hold. He heard Wilfred wolf-whistle at him from somewhere above him, in the main hub. A moment later, he heard Sylvia hushing her dad, only for him to whistle louder. Jack grinned broadly – he couldn't say Donna's family weren't interesting.
"She is resting," Martha told him stiffly, returning the flashlight to her pocket, "As you should be. You've got a concussion, but it'll be fine. What the hell happened up there?"
"Long story – get the Doc to explain," Jack said hurriedly, already hopping out of his seat.
Martha rolled her eyes, "In your office,"
"Thank you, Doctor Jones!"
Next Time: Donna and Jack reunite, the Doctor and Rose finally talk, and perhaps a return appearance from JC and his glorious cheekbones.
Again – sorry for the wait. But reviews make me write the next chapter faster! :)
Thank you for reading! xx