Chapter 3

Present day

The sonic screwdriver fell from his hands. He took half a step back, stumbled over nothing, and wound up on the floor. All the while, Jack's words reverberated in his head. Pregnant. Two hearts. Impossible. And even as that mantra filled his head, yet another thought was running around, enough to make his hearts stutter in his chest. He knows.

How Jack knew, the Doctor had no idea, but he did. He knew, or had guessed, everything.

Suddenly someone was beside him and he flinched away, before the solid vibing ache through his time sense told him it was only Jack. Jack who was impossible himself, who should be dead and was all wrong. And if other time lords had been around he would probably have been 'fixed' long long ago. But they weren't and Jack was here. Martha too, at his other side, hovering. And now he was back to trembling again. He sensed more than saw Jack pulling away after the flinch, and almost of its own accord his hand darted out to stop him.

"Doctor? What is it? What does he mean?" Martha was babbling in his ear, a look of fear on her face, as though she had already half guessed. And she would guess, too. She was a doctor, after all, or almost one. And he only chose the best for companions. Martha moved to touch his arm, probably meaning to soothe him, but he jerked away and wound up falling into Jack. Time jumped and suddenly he realized he was shouting at her, and in Gallifreyan at that. He stopped abruptly, shutting his mouth with a clack as his teeth banged against each other. He was lucky his tongue didn't get in the way.

"There, Doc, you okay now, back with us?" He was still leaning against Jack and he felt strange. Like he had lost time somewhere along the way, and that was very very wrong, because timelords don't lose time. He looked up to see Martha staring at him, fear in her eyes. His own eyes widened when he saw her nose was bleeding. Did he do that?

She must have noticed his change of expression because she drew towards him again, more cautiously this time. "Doctor?" she said, sounding a bit stopped up. One hand was wiping at her nose but most of her attention was on him, "Are you okay?"

"Fine, fine, fine, fine, fine," he answered, wanting to run but unsure if his legs would hold him up right at that moment. He had to be squashing Jack a bit at this point, but the man behind him didn't complain. Distractedly, the Doctor ran his hands through his hair again, trying to get his brain to work once more. His eyes moved involuntarily towards the blood on Martha's face. "Sorry. Sorry. Did I…? Sorry. I'm fine; why don't you…" He made general motions towards the blood.

"Don't worry about it," Martha answered quickly, concern still coloring her words, but she did begin to back up. "I'll just go…" she waved her hands towards the door.

"Right," the Doctor answered, despite not knowing exactly what she had in mind to do; clean up her face, make more tea…she could want to make a gourmet meal for all he could tell in that moment. Or she could just be trying to run away from the insane timelord; he wouldn't blame her if she did. Martha escaped out the door, only pausing to collect the old tea.

The Doctor's current pillow shifted beneath him. "You okay, Doc?"

"Don't call me Doc, Jack," the Doctor answered wearily, and then, "Jack. Jack, Jack, Jack." A bit as though he were trying out the name in his mouth.


"Just…been a while since I could say that. Jack."

Jack shifted beneath him again, and reluctantly the Doctor began to slide off. The reluctance wasn't so much that Jack was that comfortable as that, so long as the man was behind him, the Doctor could pretend he hadn't just witnessed the last few minutes. And once he faced him, he'd have to face everything that had caused his little freak-out. And, well, Jack was unexpectedly comfortable. Something about his solidness in time, a bit like an anchor. Or maybe it was his heat.

Jack helped the Doctor to rise wobbly to his feet, one hand clutched in his and the other resting solidly on his back. The Doctor still refused to look at the man, partly in avoidance of everything and partly because he was afraid of what he would see in his eyes. It still felt amazing that the man was here at all; it felt like running into a ghost. The Doctor's mind literally didn't know what to do with that, how to address it. Should he run from the 'wrongness' or embrace the chance at a new friendship? Should he face his responsibility in Jack's death and then abandonment, did Jack himself want or need something from him? Did Jack hate him? He didn't seem like he did, but then, hate could be a complicated thing when it came to someone you loved. The Doctor was afraid to look him in the eyes and know for sure. So, since he couldn't run at the moment, he did the next best thing, and turned away.

"Doctor," Jack said, his tone telling him he wasn't going to let him hide. Back still turned, the Doctor ran his ran his fingers over his hair once again. "Doctor…" The Doctor stood waiting, tense, and he heard Jack sigh behind him. "It's good to see you again."

"You too, Jack." But he still didn't turn around. He looked on the floor instead, searching for his missing screwdriver. It turned out to have rolled under the chair.

After a few minutes of watching the Doctor tinkering over the console, Jack stepped up to join him. If it weren't for the tenseness of their shoulders and the almost complete lack of talking, it could have been like a step back in time, to before Jack left and the Doctor changed. But Jack had left, or was left anyway, and the Doctor had changed, and with his new look the silence was even more telling.

"So what have you been up to?" the Doctor asked suddenly, startling Jack into jerking his hand at exactly the wrong time, making the console spark.

"Sorry," Jack murmured reflexively, stroking the ship gently, before turning to look at the Doctor. The Doctor still didn't look at him, though he could see him in the corner of his eye.

"Waiting for you, mostly," Jack answered, his tone morose, and the Doctor ducked his head slightly.

"Well, I mean, Torchwood!" the Doctor babbled, "Been keeping yourself busy, haven't you?"

"It's the twenty first century," Jack answered, his voice cautious, as though he still wasn't sure where the Doctor stood on his job, "You know what happens. I haven't been…they don't know where I'm from. I tell my team what they need to know, and that's all."

"Yes, well," the Doctor answered, sounding a bit distracted as he tinkered, "Would be hypocritical of me to call you on that, seeing as I used to work for UNIT."


"Sorry?" the Doctor looked up, finally startled into staring directly at Jack. The other man's triumphant expression slowly morphed into something softer as the Doctor stared into his eyes.

"Just…I knew it was you…" Jack answered, "Only they never let me see you; apparently they'd had trouble with Torchwood before. I wasn't even really sure…"

"Just as well you didn't," the Doctor answered, "Could have created a paradox. That me hadn't met you yet."

Jack shook his head. "This changing bodies thing is seriously weird. Could you always do that? Were you…I mean, the Daleks…" His tone sounded a bit fragile now, a bit brittle.

"Would have killed me," the Doctor answered swiftly, and then finally broke eye contact as he ducked under the console to check on something, "Dalek guns are fatal to timelords; no regenerating from that."

"Oh," Jack answered, a hint of relief in his voice, and then, "So what else can kill you?"

"Why?" The Doctor ducked his head back up, grinning, "Planning to carry out Torchwood's mission after all?"

Jack didn't even bother to answer that. He continued to watch the Doctor until the grin slid slowly off his face and he ducked down again. Something sparked.

"Let's see…" he said into the console, after a long enough time that it seemed he wasn't going to answer at all, "Aspirin would do it. A few other poisons or viruses maybe…I had a bit of a scare once with spectrox toxaemia, but it turned out alright in the end. Well, I say alright, I mean, I didn't die but I did try to kill Peri after. Some radiations. Anything that destroys the body completely. Well…not anything, anything, well…okay, probably."

"Is that why there's no aspirin on the TARDIS?" a voice called unexpectedly from the other side of the room, "You told me it disagreed with you, not that it'd kill you!"

The Doctor glanced briefly towards Martha, noting the absence of blood though her voice was still a bit nasally, and then looked back at his work. "Disagree…kill, same thing, isn't it?"

"No it's not the same thing!" Martha cried, sounding more exasperated than annoyed. The Doctor suspected this was one of those things she wasn't going to let go; the doctor in her always wanted to know all the little things about what made him tick. But before she could start on a rampage, demanding a more satisfactory explanation, there was a knock at the door. At the outer, supposedly unnoticeable due to the perception filter, door. Everyone turned to stare at it.

"That will probably be Ianto," Jack said, a hint of guilt in his voice, "I kinda left in a hurry when my TARDIS detector…I mean…well, he probably saw me running on the camera."

At the second knock, the Doctor stalked reluctantly towards the door, throwing it open. A young man stood in the doorway. In his arms was an odd, technological looking contraption that was built around what looked like an ordinary human hand. The Doctor stared at the hand.

"Jack, you didn't!" Before Jack could respond, or the newcomer make a statement himself, the presence of another life form made itself known by squalling loudly from the carrier on the newcomer's back.

The Doctor didn't say anything; he just stared with wide eyes. Jack and Martha joined him, Jack coming around to stand next to his teammate. Numerous expressions radiated fleetingly from Jack's eyes; anger, annoyance, fear, love, acceptance, resignation. None of them showed in his face, which appeared relaxed, bordering on jovial as he extended normal pleasantries.

"Doctor, meet Ianto Jones." Ianto Jones's expression was harder for the Doctor to decipher, most likely because he didn't know him like he had known Jack. It didn't help that the Doctor's attention wasn't on him so much as that which surrounded him; a hand in a jar and…something…still making unhappy noises from the carrier on his back. The Doctor wasn't sure he wanted to know, to acknowledge its existence. Jack was relentless, however, continuing his introductions.

"And meet Jason Harkness. Your son."