I really enjoyed this one. Hope you do too!
Disclaimer: Doctor Who and Torchwood are property of the BBC. My only affiliation with the shows is as an avid fan.
It was that noise that both killed him and made him feel alive, alive in a way few things could make him feel anymore. The gentle whoosh traveled from his ears to his heart, and then coursed around his body with his immortal blood.
The note had said 12:30 sharp, but it wasn't until almost 13:00 that he heard that noise and watched the blue box begin to materialize seemingly out of thin air. Though he had been quite annoyed, the emotion was quickly replaced with admiration when the doors to the vessel opened.
The traveler stepped out of his ship. "There you are, Jack! I went to the wrong year…Three times!"
"Right- sorry! New face!"
"Aren't I allowed to see the same you more than twice?"
"Believe me, if it were in my power, I wouldn't change. We might both be practically immortal, but at least you get to stay the same man!"
"And you think that's a blessing."
"…Never mind. How was Alonso? That was, what, two nights ago for you?"
"Three. And he was quite talented. A lot like a…a friend of mine."
"Are you talking about Ianto Jones? I'm sorry."
"How do you know about him?"
"That Gwen Cooper told me. She's a good one, she is. Hold onto her."
"I didn't mean it like that. I meant for your team. Torchwood."
"Those days are over."
"You can't just run. There are people who need you."
"You're one to talk, Doctor! Like there's no people who've ever needed you, who've prayed every single day of their stinking lives that you'd come back for them, save them, waited centuries until you finally did show up, and you didn't even bother to stop! All you do is keep running from that Untempered Schism thing! Besides, you don't know everything that I've done. It's worse than just my colleagues…. you wouldn't believe…"
"I know about your grandson."
"How much did Gwen tell you?"
"Everything I wanted to know. She told me about the 456. I'm sorry I wasn't there."
"Why weren't you? Gwen thinks it's because you're ashamed of us. Is that it? Should we do something better for you?"
"Jack, look at me."
"I could never be ashamed of the human race."
"Then why would you leave us? Is it 'instinct' again? Because I really don't want to hear that."
"You're a father."
"Yeah. What of it?"
"Once, a long time ago, I was a father too. With your children, there comes a point when you have to start letting them solve their problems so they can grow up. You humans, you're so young."
"Are you saying you're not going to help us anymore?"
"No- I couldn't stop doing that even if I wanted to. But my people, they had this law that I always thought was stupid. It was called the non-interference policy. I got into all sorts of trouble for breaking it. It's only now that I think maybe I interfere just a little too much. They were right all along, and I was never able to admit it to them. Now it's too late- they're all… gone."
"Doctor… your people… They were so strong. I mean, so were the Daleks, but how are you the only one left?
"I still don't believe it sometimes. Sometimes I go for long stretches of time…just pretending, lying to myself, just to try and believe they're still there. Because the guilt would kill me, otherwise."
"You can't feel guilty for surviving!"
"It wasn't just that, though. Jack, those last few days of the war were Hell. Literally, Hell. And it changed the Time-Lords. They wanted to escape all the bloodshed and devastation, all the "faults of matter," as they called them. So they decided that they didn't need matter, and were going to destroy it, all of it. We didn't need bodies. And what's the best way to destroy all the matter in the Universe? Destroy Time. Matter loves Time, and the Time-Lords had power of it. I…I had to stop them."
"Yeah. It was all me. The whole of Gallifrey burnt at my hands. I was supposed to die with my people, not regenerate. And so were the Daleks… but neither of us can die. They just keep surviving, and I just can't stop running from myself."
"It would have just been so easy to just let them do it. I wanted to just let them do it. But I had to choose between my people and all peoples, my family and all families. I couldn't let them destroy all of… this, just so I wouldn't be lonely."
"You had to do what I had to do… I mean on a much larger scale. But my grandson…"
"You had to choose between your family and millions of other families. It's exactly what you had to do. That's why I told you, Jack. You can't just run away from yourself."
"But that's what you do."
"You're a stronger man than I am."
"No! No, I'm not!"
"You don't abandon people if you can help it. You let yourself fall in love, even though you know you're destined to outlive people. Your wife, and Ianto…"
"But so do you!"
"No, I don't."
"What about Rose?"
"That was an accident. I never meant… she was the first person I saw after the War, and I needed something to keep me from dwelling on what I'd done! I invited her to travel with me so I wouldn't be on my own, and the love sort of snuck in there. You, on the other hand, you grab love by the horns…or other body parts."
"Are you talking about sex? Because that doesn't have anything to do with love. That's just a gaping distraction for me."
"I know that. But the point is, even though you have to live with immortality, you live. And that's something I've never been able to do. If you can do that, you can stop running, and go back to the people who need you, Jack."
"And what about you?"
"You know me."
"If I have to try to stop running, so do you."
"It's different with me."
"There's no where for me to go. You have people who need you: Gwen, and your daughter-"
"She's never going to forgive me."
"Don't give up on her. Whether or not she'll admit it, she needs you. Be there for her."
When Jack didn't respond, the Doctor continued, "Come on. I'll give you a ride back to Earth."
"Doctor, what's the point of all this?"
"The point, Jack," said the Doctor, as he unlocked the TARDIS door, "is not to end up like me."