Notes: I do not own Torchwood or Doctor Who, nor do I own the TARDIS, Jack or the Doctor.
I'm playing here in Helen Pattskyn's universe as well, I don't own Kam or the idea behind this story. This takes place far in the future for both Jack and the Doctor in her universe. I claim no particular regeneration for the Doctor-it could be Twelve, Thirteen, or (in my own fanon) some regeneration beyond those. The relationship presented here between the Other and the Doctor is however, at least somewhat canonical.
To my regular readers: Helen's universe is more explicit and graphic than my writing is, if you follow this into her universe, please take into consideration all warnings and ratings.
Return to Me
It was the 584th century and Jack was once again travelling with the Doctor.
Jack's hair was a distinguished salt and pepper, his skin a bit more wrinkled, with a right knee which was slightly time-sensitive; the Doctor was finally ginger, with freckles and a tendency to get sunburned quite easily.
They did this periodically. When one or the other got tired of losing people, and tired of the loneliness that was the price of avoiding losing people--neither would really look for the other, but they would always find each other and be the ones each other could never lose for just a little while. (Years, days, centuries, decades, it could be any or all--it didn't matter just as long as it was long enough.)
"Its getting harder and harder to find a time when we aren't crossing dangerously into your life. Or at least an interesting time." The Doctor's expression was very put out, though Jack could tell he was once again trying to wind him up.
"Yes, well, when you've lived as long as I have, young grasshopper, you will learn that all times are equally interesting and therefore, equally boring." They had long since passed the point in which the Doctor could stay ahead of him in age and Jack took full advantage.
The Doctor rolled his eyes, "Now you're just lying."
Jack grinned and leaned towards the TARDIS console to flick a switch as the Doctor continue his familiar (comforting) dance about her controls.
Predictably, the Doctor slapped his hand back.
It was this, it was now, it was two old friends who had known each other for longer than some species survived the universe. They'd hurt and forgiven each other too many times to count and too few times to think either would never happen again.
The Doctor steered the TARDIS through the vortex, guiding them to whatever brilliant adventure awaited them. Eventually, Jack and the Doctor would part ways and live their lives separately, and then they would find each other again. Parting always hurt both of them, even though they knew it was time. Their reunions weren't always joyful--sometimes they found each other so tired, so broken. But always, always, they would find each other again.
Of all the people Jack had ever known, there were only two that he kept finding. And both of them he loved, utterly and completely.
He had met, all told, seven versions of his Doctor now. He'd met some of them our of order of course, but seven of them.
He had met, all told, thirty faces of his Cariad now. He'd met some of them out of order too, but thirty of them just the same. Sometimes it would be just five hundred years before finding him again, sometimes more than three thousand. Occasionally he wondered, during those long periods, if he just wasn't paying enough attention--too distracted, or too hurt perhaps--to find him. It kept him human, kept him looking, kept him hoping.
He had forgotten the face of three Doctor by now, and nearly a fourth as well. But he still loved each one.
He had forgotten more than he remembered of the faces of his Cariad. But he still loved each one.
He'd never told the Doctor that he wasn't the only one who changed faces.
A hand on his shoulder startled him out of his thoughts. The Doctor gave him a chagrined look.
"Sorry, didn't mean to scare you."
Jack shook his head.
The Doctor cocked his head to the side, "What were you thinking about?"
The Doctor's eyebrows rose in surprise. "As in the Hindu wheel of karma, or more just the idea of being reborn and remembering past lives?"
Jack shrugged, now not really wanting to discuss it. "Remembering past lives. Do you believe in reincarnation?" He looked at the Doctor, curious because though he didn't follow any religion or believe in any deity, the Doctor did have a certain amount of...spirituality, faith and hope in things not readily visible.
"Well, yes and no. In general, I think most people who claim to remember past lives, are simply low level telepaths. However, some of my own experiences...I don't think it is entirely impossible."
Jack smirked, "In my experience there is very little that is truly impossible if you live long enough or have seen enough."
"True," the Doctor grinned. Then his face became more serious, almost hesitant. "On Gallifrey, there was a triumvirate who founded our society: Rassilon, Omega and the Other. There is plenty known about Rassilon and Omega, but the Other was more mysterious. It is said that he threw himself into the Looms of Gallifrey to be reincarnated at a later date."
"Was he reincarnated?" Jack's interest was definitely piqued. Even after all the time he had known the Doctor, it was rare for the Time Lord to volunteer information about his home planet and history.
The Doctor shrugged and then admitted, "I have his memories. Whether it is reincarnation, genetic memory or something else, I don't know. But I do have his memories, and no other Time Lord ever did."
Jack took a moment to digest this. The Doctor looked at him curiously. "Why were you thinking about reincarnation?"
"My...Cariad. I keep finding him again and again. And each time there is just something so familiar. As you say, I don't know if it is reincarnation or what, but its him each time."
To his relief the Doctor did not react with scorn or humor, but looked at him contemplatively.
"You met him as Ianto, and again as Kam, and so many other times. I've met him, in total thirty times—thirty faces, names, lives. But each time I find him, or he finds me."
There was a minute of silence and then the Doctor moved and gave Jack a gentle kiss on the forehead. "I'm glad," he said softly, "that you have someone who keeps returning."
And for one moment, Jack thought for sure he could feel every single one of them (so different, yet the same), right there beside him.