Summary: In another universe, the Doctor left Jack behind. And when Jack finally caught up to him again, he ran. The TARDIS took them all the way to the end of the universe to escape. But what if it happened just a little differently? Regeneration sickness and the Doctor forgets. Not Jack, never Jack, but he forgets exactly what happens during that confusing time around when he died. To him, Jack is dead. He didn't run away, he mourned. And then later, much, much later, something new happens to him, something both horrible and wonderful. And that changes everything.
Pairings: Jack/10, 10/OC
Genre: AU, romance, drama, angst, slash
Warnings: Adult situations, slash, non-con
Spoilers: For Torchwood: S01E02, through season one. For Dr Who, anything up through season four, mostly 3, big ones for S03E01.
Disclaimer: I do not own Dr Who or Torchwood, nor am I affiliated with them. I am making no money from this.
Martha Jones watched the Doctor with a bemused expression as he jumped about the console. In another universe, it might even have been the lovelorn expression of a schoolgirl crush. The Doctor was cute enough, and what other bloke could offer all the universe through space and time? But there was also something broken about him, something closed and cold. And it wasn't just the Rose issue, or the painful way he spoke of his lost home. He had changed, somehow, between their first meeting in the hospital and offering her that 'one' trip. He had seemed, somehow, more alien. And of course she knew she was alien, had known from practically the very beginning when she had to revive both his hearts, but he hadn't really felt alien all the same.
Then he came back, and said just one trip. And he was changed.
They weren't big, obvious changes. He still ran around with that grin, talking a mile a minute about things way over Martha's head. But there was a look in his eye. Martha had seen that look before, just once, on a little girl. The girl had been on vacation and something happened and she had lost her parents. There was that look in her eyes, of being lost and alone and so very, very far from home. The expression was deeper on the Doctor. Whenever it got too deep in his eyes, he would start jumping around with nervous energy and throw them into their next adventure. And from what little she had managed to gleam from his past, he had every right to have that look. But she swore it hadn't been there, not so blatant at least; she might have believed him an alien faster if it had.
And as much as the Doctor seemed to love adventures, to crave the distraction at the very least, he hated the crowds. He was alright meeting people one on one; he had been thrilled to meet Shakespeare, but looked on the verge of a panic attack when confronted with a street full of strangers. The trip to New New York had made him jumpy when they first arrived; all those people hiding behind doors and under windows. He had looked calmer though, when she caught up to him again at the end of that adventure.
He acted equally conflicted about having her around. He wanted company, but at the same time he didn't. He'd flinch, sometimes, when she got too close. He told her, in the beginning, that it was just one trip. He had tried going with people and it didn't work. They left…or they died. Two names seemed to be held sacred, the mere mention of which would pull that alien lonely god look onto his face. She still tried to get him to talk sometimes, the doctor in her convinced it was healthier. One trip turned into two, and then into three. He had seemed a little better after the second, even if he had gone off in the TARDIS to be alone for a long while. He was worse after the third. It would be a long time before she got the vision of him screaming for them to kill him out of her mind.
He said he'd take her home, then. Twelve hours after she had left with him. For once, the TARDIS got the time dead on. It just completely missed the right planet. It was times like this that Martha was certain the TARDIS was not only sentient, but just as concerned about the Doctor as she was.
Eventually, after cursing a lot in a language Martha didn't understand (but could still tell it was cursing) he did something to her phone so she could at least call her mom and let her know she might be away for a while. And now, days or weeks or months later (it's rather hard to tell when you live in a time machine) he announced that out of all of space and time they would be landing in Cardiff.
"Just for a pit stop," he explained, something about a rift. It was a short stop, anyway. He wasn't planning on even going out, though he did think to ask Martha if she wanted to. She didn't. So they started to leave. And then something happened.
One second the TARDIS had been making that wheezing noise it got when it traveled, and the next the entire structure shuddered and stopped, knocking Martha to the floor and the Doctor onto the seat near the console.
"Doctor?" Martha cried, "What was that?"
"I don't know," he answered, already bouncing around the instruments, "Now that can't be right…" Which is around the time the door to the TARDIS door opened. The doctor didn't notice right away, being completely absorbed in the readings and Martha just stared. A man walked in, glanced at her, and then turned his full attention onto the Doctor, his eyes swallowing him whole as the Doctor continued to run around, babbling on about readings Martha didn't begin to understand.
"Er…Doctor?" she said. He still didn't look up. The stranger walked slowly further into the TARDIS. He had a key, she noted, on a long string. He was slowly putting it around his neck as he walked. When he took another step towards the Doctor, Martha stepped between them defensively. "Who are you?"
"Martha, what are you…" The Doctor said, finally looking up. Martha was facing the wrong way to see his face, but she heard the small, fragile sound that followed. "Jack?"
Time froze. Then Martha had to move; she had to see if the Doctor was alright, had to know if this intruder was good or bad. Experience told her that the unexpected usually meant trouble, but, on the other hand, the man had a key. She moved away from the stranger, watching to make sure he wasn't going to suddenly lunge, before turning to the Doctor. The Doctor had a look in his eyes she had never seen before. Broken and alone, yes, but something else, akin to that look when she got him to talk about his past. Longing. Now there was also fear, and utter confusion.
"Doctor," the man replied, still not moving. Something of the Doctor's look was reflected in his eyes.
"No!" the Doctor suddenly exclaimed, his whole body trembling, "No, you're dead! I heard you die!" The stranger had tensed at the first 'no!' but his expression didn't waver. Slowly, he started moving again, towards them. The Doctor didn't back up but he looked ready to. Martha didn't know what she should do, if there was danger here or not.
"Who are you?" she repeated again, and he finally tore his eyes from the Doctor to look at her. He looked her up and down, and then grinned.
"Captain Jack Harkness," he said, "And who are you?"
"Martha Jones," she answered automatically, and then suddenly her eyes widened in recognition, "You're Jack?" She turned her head to look once more at the Doctor, "That Jack?"
The Doctor shook his head. "It can't be. He's…" Slowly, an odd look coming over his face, the Doctor took a step towards Jack. Jack stood very still, waiting, as though the Doctor were a feral cat and might run if Jack moved.
"Doctor?" Martha said again, feeling very out of sorts. Was Jack a threat or wasn't he? Was this Jack? Maybe it was an old Jack, from before he died…but then how did he know the Doctor? The odd look of confusion still on his face, the Doctor slowly raised his hand towards Jack's temple. Jack didn't move, letting him do as he liked. The Doctor stood very still for a moment, fingers pressed to Jack's head, before quickly jerking his hand back as though burnt, eyes wide. Still Jack waited, waited for the Doctor to say something, anything. Expressions flashed across the Doctor's face too swiftly to make sense of. Finally he stepped back, squeezing his eyes tightly for a long moment before opening them again.
"Rose," he whispered, looking towards the ground, before jerking his eyes onto Jack again. And then, without any warning, he practically fell forward, grabbing Jack fiercely, mumbling something into the shoulder of his coat. Jack looked just as startled as Martha felt, but he was quick to hold the Doctor back. Martha could just make out words here or there, 'wrong, sorry, wrong, Rose'. Jack was saying something back, into the Doctor's hair. Slowly, gently, Jack led them over to the seat. Martha hung back, feeling awkward and out of place in this scene. The Doctor was still trembling and belatedly Martha realized he was actually crying. Finally, deciding this stranger wouldn't hurt the Doctor and unwilling to intrude, she left to make some tea.
By the time she came back again, the scene had changed. For one thing, the Doctor was pacing at one end of the room and Jack was standing casually and relaxed at the other. Approaching Jack cautiously with the tray, she was able to see that most of his relaxed attitude was an act. He took the tea and flashed her a smile that was completely at odds with the tense atmosphere. If she had met him on the street, she might very well have taken him up on the promises that smile held. As it was, she turned away again to watch the Doctor's nervous pacing. He wasn't crying now but he was anything but composed. He was also talking to himself, in that one language the TARDIS never translated. Sensing she wasn't going to get anything out of him for a while, she reluctantly turned back towards Jack, setting the remaining teas on the floor.
"Alright," she said, "Just what exactly is going on." For a long moment, it didn't look like she'd be getting answers out of him either. But then he nodded his head slightly and motioned for her to sit with him.
"You've heard of me," he said, not so much a question as a statement but she nodded anyway, "Have you heard of Rose?"
"You three traveled together," Martha answered, "He mentions you sometimes. Sometimes I try to get him to talk…I think it's good for him to talk. But it's always in bits and pieces, the stories. He said once you died to save them…and then he died to save Rose. And I know Rose is on a parallel world or something…"
"That's more than I thought he'd share," Jack said, his eyes still on the Doctor before he tore them away to her again, "He always avoided the past. Of course, he was a different person then…" There was a look in Jack's eyes then, akin to the look the Doctor got. But Jack shook himself and the look was gone…or at least deeply hidden. "I died. And then I was alive again. I don't know why. I was alive and everyone around me was dead. I ran, I ran to the Doctor but I was too late. I arrived just as the TARDIS left…"
Martha gasped. His story resonated with a deep fear she had learned in her travels; the fear of being stranded in the wrong place and time. It wasn't something she could let herself dwell on but it always there…the risk. If the Doctor was hurt or if he died…if the TARDIS broke down…if the TARDIS was lost…if, if, if…
"I had a vortex manipulator," Jack continued, holding up his wrist in a vague motion to show her, "Good enough for one jump. I knew he'd come back here, eventually. We always used to stop by London, so Rose could see her mom. I jumped. I missed. By about a century, I missed."
"But you're here now," Martha answered, having gathered from his words that the wrist thing was a sort of mini TARDIS device, "Unless…did the Doctor get the time wrong again?" Jack laughed, shaking his head slightly. He watched the Doctor pacing a moment longer before speaking again. "I can't die." Martha stared at him.
"What do you mean, you can't die?" she demanded.
"I mean…I die, and then I'm alive again. Apparently, it shouldn't have happened. I'm wrong." Martha still stared, unsure what to say to that. The Doctor suddenly stopped talking, stopped pacing, just stopped. He didn't look at them. He just, slowly, slid down a wall until he was sitting on the floor. "I think he's almost done freaking out," Jack remarked.
"What do you mean, wrong?" Martha asked. Surely the Doctor didn't call him that. Not to his face.
"Apparently it's a timelord thing. I'm not supposed to be here. He can feel that." Then he turned his head to look at her again, his gaze penetrating. "You're Martha. The Martha from the hospital on the moon." Her eyes widened slightly.
"How do you know that?" she demanded, "Did he mention it, before…" Before his meltdown.
"No," Jack answered. She began to feel uncomfortable under his gaze. "From a friend of yours, Katia Jameson." Martha couldn't stop the scowl from crossing her face at the mention of that name.
"Katia?" she asked, "What were you talking to her for?"
"I take it not a close friend?" Jack asked with a raised eyebrow at her expression.
"No," Martha answered quickly, "She just worked in the same hospital where I was. She always cared more about hooking up with the cute doctors than her job. Or maybe the cute doctors' money." Jack nodded his head briefly but didn't elaborate on his meeting her. Belatedly, Martha remembered her tea and reached for it as something to do. It was room temperature by that point but not quite cold.
They sat in silence. And then, at last, the Doctor moved. He stood up and slowly approached them. Martha couldn't read the look on his face. Jack tensed and slowly stood himself and Martha followed suit. She could practically see the tension between them and wondered if she shouldn't leave again. Perhaps make some more tea.
"I can't undo it," the Doctor said. Jack slumped slightly, looking down. "You're part of it now, all through space and time. It's a wonder I didn't feel you before. I think I did…I just didn't realize…" He ran his hand over his hair, looking more broken than ever.
"Would you?" Jack asked, "If you could." The Doctor look down at his toes, anywhere but at Jack.
"I don't know," he answered at last. "Probably. Yes." Jack nodded his head, as though that was what he expected to hear. "If I did, I'd have to undo all of it. From the beginning," the Doctor continued to explain, "I can't just do it here and now. And it would tear time apart if I tried."
"Right," Jack said, and then, "Will I ever die?"
"I don't know," the Doctor answered. He paused for a bit. "Do you want to?" He was watching Jack without watching him now.
"I did. Now…I don't know. I want to know I can die." The Doctor didn't answer that, still avoiding Jack's gaze. The moment deepened, then broke as the Doctor managed to spin out of it in the same way he avoided most of Martha's more serious conversations. An unexpected grin suddenly spread across his face. "Well, but look at you! Jack, my Jack! My not dead Jack! Still alive and burning so bright." He reached out to grasp Jack's shoulders, looking for all the world like an excited puppy greeting a long missed friend. Jack and Martha couldn't help but smile in response. Then he moved away again, looking over the TARDIS's console, sonic screwdriver suddenly in hand. "And messed up my TARDIS something awful, jumping on her like that. You know she yanked herself into full reverse when you did that? She must like you; most people would find themselves dragged through the vortex. So, what have you been up to since I saw you last? Surely you haven't been hanging out on the rift this whole time?"
"You've gotten hyper this time around," Jack said, smiling lightly in response to the Doctor's energy. His eyes swept over him, taking in the changes, accepting them. "And no, as a matter of fact, I have not been just hanging out on the rift these past hundred years."
The Doctor paused in his movements before continuing with his tinkering. "One hundred years? Really?" he asked lightly.
"Lately I've been helping Cardiff with alien threats," Jack continued, and though his tone remained light he looked suddenly a bit nervous. Like a kid caught doing something he shouldn't.
"Really?" the Doctor said, not seeming to notice. Jack approached him slowly, absently patting the panel with an affectionate motion. He took a deep breath, as though steeling himself for something,
The Doctor's hand jerked and something sparked. Martha took in a deep breath. Torchwood was right up there with Rose and Daleks as Things To Never Mention. Slowly the Doctor raised his head. To her surprise, the expression that gradually spread across his face was one of amusement.
"Torchwood, Jack?" he asked, "Are you here to turn me in then?"
Jack grinned, looking relieved as he answered, "What do you think?"
The Doctor grinned back, then grimaced. "And I suppose they let you run around with your big honking space guns? Saving the world from the alien threats?"
"Earth guns, actually," Jack answered, "Don't want to get too anachronistic." Then the smile slowly fell from his face. "Doctor…there's something I need to tell you." The Doctor twitched again. Slowly, he lowered his sonic screwdriver and waited.
"You were at the hospital, on the moon," Jack said slowly. Martha looked back and forth between them, having no idea where this was going. She knew all about that adventure; it was her first meeting with the Doctor. But why was that important to Jack? Jack looked even more nervous than when he had to admit to working for Torchwood. Jack hesitated, then finally said, "She got pregnant. The baby has two hearts."