Characters: Tenth Doctor, Jack Harkness, The Tardis
Rating: Pg13 for safety, references to the Year, one swear word and for Jack's thoughts. He simply can't be in a G rated story. It's Jack. :D
Categories: Hurt/Comfort, Friendship, Whump
Summary: When night falls after the Year has been erased, Jack wanders back to the Tardis and finds that not everyone is as okay as he thought. DoctorWhump! with H/C. Jack behaves, too.
Author's Note: I never agreed with the idea that you could do almost anything to the Time Lord and he bounces back with a smile and a wink. Jack needed to be the one to stumble across him after the Year was all done, as he would understand it all best. Thanks to Master Yoda for listening, and Curious_Kitty for read through and deep discussions on all things Jack. :D
Everything was quiet, and peaceful, and totally sane.
Normally, Jack Harkness would have been pulling at the bit, trying to get into the next scrap by now, to avoid the boredom that came after harrowing missions. Oh, he loved the post-drama rush, and the (inevitable) encounters with team mates and friends, as everyone celebrated being alive and in (mostly) one piece. Sex was never quite the same, he mused, as after you've just almost been blown up three times in an hour by homicidal blowfish. Just that little bit spicier.
Tonight, as everyone on the Valiant settled down after endless briefings and reports, and he'd made sure of his team's safety via his own access codes into the Hub's security footage, he was quite happy to put his feet up and simply lie there, wherever there happens to be, and just relax, and be still.
Martha was with her family, having taken over a set of rooms on the great ship. Tomorrow would see the last of the briefings, and one last health check before they would be ferried back down to Earth's soil. The Doctor, declining the offer of rooms with the excuse of repairs to the Tardis that needed to be done quite soon, had apologized for not being able to take them home that very night. He'd retreated to his ship several hours ago, telling Jack and Martha that their rooms were still in good condition, and ready for them, should they want them.
Jack wasn't ready to sleep, but he'd left several good books in his room the last time he'd been on the Tardis, one of which was bound to catch his interest. Giving a half-jaunty salute to the UNIT guards standing outside the Tardis, he slipped inside her doors.
The red light of the paradox machine was gone, replaced by the more familiar light of the green working/sleep lights that Jack had always associated with 'stand-by' mode. Most of the central pillar was still open, and the closest bit of the console was two feet lower than it usually sat, with more of the wiring showing than normal. Several long tubes and ducts were lowered from the ceiling, and every strap bit of the floor and chair was covered in bits and pieces. Some of it was labelled in the Doctor's own language, the strange swirls conveying so much more than regular English could in ten times the room. Other parts were labelled in English, with useful information tacked on, like, 'works,' 'strange noise,' and his favourite, 'piece.'
Of the Doctor, there was no sign. Probably, Jack thought, draping his coat over a hook on the coat tree that still stood beside the door, off trying to find a part or a cup of tea. Taking inventory of the parts in neat order down the corridor, around the first three bends and into one massive room of swirls and rows, he changed his mind; make that a pot of strong coffee. He knew from old UNIT files that the third Doctor had been rather fond of the stuff, and the ninth hadn't been averse to it when the work was going to take a long time.
The deeper Jack went into the Tardis, the less damage there was. The main kitchen, still bearing the scorch mark on the counter from Rose's attempt to make banana bread once, was nearly unchanged, except the mugs were a different colour now, perhaps replacements for the last batch. The library, which was empty save one duck in the swimming pool, was little different, even the books in the domino pattern that Rose had been working on once, long ago and far away, in the cooking section. He went closer, and noticed, hidden under one particularly hideous Martha Stewart book, a small, flat stasis projector, forever keeping the pattern just as Rose had left it.
The memories were good, but Jack could feel himself starting to drift on his feet, the wonderfully subtle hum of the Tardis running up his legs and easing muscles he hadn't even noticed were tense. She loved her Doctor, he reflected, stroking one wall with his fingers, and those he brought on board, too. Even Jack the Fact. She'd let him come in, after all, let him take an automatic weapon to her, knew that he was trying to help her. The Doctor had told him so, when they'd first gone to see what work needed to be done. It hurt, the Time Lord admitted sadly, but so did having a bone set or teeth pulled out due to abscesses. After all was done, she could heal, and she loved Jack for that. She needed to rest, and heal, and then, he'd explained to Jack just before he'd left to check on Martha, then she would take a short hop to Cardiff and refuel. Now, she needed rest more than fuel, just like Jack did now.
So, when a door opened down the corridor the moment Jack remembered his bed, he could be forgiven for thinking it was his room. The lights were at half brightness, easy to see in, but not that bright –a nice, soothing, reading for ten minutes before finally going to sleep level. Jack stepped inside, pulling the door closed behind him, and stopped.
This wasn't his room.
This wasn't Rose's room, which he'd been in once to help her get over some flu bug they'd picked up while travelling, bringing her soup and tea and stories.
This wasn't Mickey's room, with pictures of Rose in it.
This room was old. The paintings on the walls were of places that would never see suns rise again. The desk in the corner held books that had been written by a people long dead, long forgotten eons ago by the galaxy at large, and the little blue green planet below less than a day ago. A suit of brown lay over a chair, collecting dust, and a pile of converse sneakers looked confused and bedraggled, under the permanent scuff marks on the wall above them, testifying to the way their wearer usually put, or rather, hurled them there. The bed on the far side of the room, massive and old and carved and rumpled, held the rightful, and normally only, occupant of the room.
The Time Lord was half curled on his side, half on and off the bed, as if he'd simply meant to sit down, to rest and recover for a moment before sleep had crashed over him. Eyes closed, breathing faint, body limp, to all casual appearances comfortable like he was. The human had certainly found the old alien in weirder spots for sleeping, including lying on the stairs to the wardrobe, head fourteen steps lower than his shoes. Jack almost convinced himself, but something was off. Something that wasn't sleep, but rather ….
There. The long hands clutching elbows, arms against his ribs, as if only now relaxing against pain that could not be controlled, only rode out. The angle of the head, just that tad too close to the chest, not relaxed completely on the pillow beneath it. The feet, hooked under the edge of the bed, not caught, but rather holding the legs from drawing up any further up, to stop curling completely into the fetal position.
"Doc?" he called softly, stepping closer to the bed. There was no movement, no change in the other's position. He felt a nudge in his mind, urging him closer. Obvious, then, that the Tardis wanted him in this room. Obvious, too, that something was deeply wrong with his friend.
"Doctor?" he called again, reaching the head of the bed and kneeling down, putting his face level with the Time Lord's. "Can you hear me? Come on, Doc, wake up, and kick Jack outta your room." The eyelids began to flutter just a bit, prompting a smile from the Time Agent. "That's it, come on, Doc, open your eyes, look at me."
Slowly, slower than Jack had ever seen the Doctor wake up before, the dark brown eyes opened, and focused on Jack. His face remained blank, as if it would hurt too much to smile or frown or raise an eyebrow, or do any of a number of things that it normally did. His Doctor was animated, energetic, mobile, not this frozen stiff facsimile.
"Jack?" the Doctor whispered, reaching one hand out to tentatively cup the Time Agent's face. "Jack?"
"I'm here, Doc. What do you need? What's wrong?"
The Doctor's hand began to slip down, his eyelids following suit, and Jack held the hand against his face, even as the fingers moved into vaguely familiar places in his hair, on his temples… oh.
Jack, it hurts. It hurts so much. Jack, the man who can never die, time all bendy-wendy, my rock, always feel him, always there, it hurts, Jack, please, help me, I can't move it hurts it hurts it hurts –
The contact was broken as the Doctor's fingers moved, clenched into a tight fist around Jack's hand, so tight the fingers were white with lack of blood. He curled into a tighter ball, legs still trying to stay hooked under the bed frame. He was silent as he curled tighter, jaw clenched tight, hands gripping Jack's fingers and his own ribs, head lowered until the spasm ended. Jack could do nothing, afraid to touch the shaking muscles and make it worse, afraid to talk, unable to do anything.
He'd never felt that helpless around his Doctor before … hoped to hell he never would again.
The lowest moan escaped the Doctor's chest, as slowly he relaxed against the bed, fingers uncurling against Jack's cheek. Points found on his face again, gentle against the agony of a moment ago….
Jack, please, it hurts, everything hurts, I'm so sorry, you've been through Hell and back and all its antechambers, but I need your help, I can't do it, need help… it hurts —
"You've got it, Doc-"
… never again, never again go from a munchkin to a giant in forty five seconds… it hurts, Jack, every muscle, every nerve, can't stop it, thought I could walk it out, ride out a few spasms, be fine, always alright, have to be, Martha needed me to be, she's done so much, had to be strong, one less to look after, it hurts, it hurts it hurts it hurts…
They rode out another spasm, Jack reaching out this time to hold the Time Lord's face in his free hand. He hoped he didn't imagine the Doctor leaning into his touch.
…it hurts, Jack, please, help…
"How, Doc? Should I go get Martha-?"
No! Jack, no, don't go…done so much, suffered, she won't tell me, ruined everything, doesn't trust me … can't blame her, Jack, seen so much, needs her family, her mother and father and sister and so lonely, it hurts, Jack don't go, it hurts it hurts it hurts…
Jack held the Doctor's hand against the side of his face, waiting for the next spasm to pass. Finally, the fingers lost their familiarity to claws, and this time the mind touch was softer, weaker.
... Jack, please, the med-bay, cabinets, lots of bottles, jars – Suddenly, an image seared itself behind Jack's eyelids, a hodgepodge of jars and bottles in the cabinets, saw one that was nearly glowing, jumping in his field of vision, 'Pick me!' inside his mind – should still be some, whole jars from the 8th, can't move, can't help, should be there, oh, darling, please help him, show him, take him, Jack, please, help, go…
Almost before he knew it, Jack was on his feet, stumbling into a run for the now-open door to the hall, turning left because that way felt warmer, following lights that went on just ahead of him in the hall, through another set of doors, felt a shudder of pain, not his own, quickly hidden from him, saw the last door swing wide, into the medical bay, opening cupboards, no, too high, too high, lower, near the floor, so rarely used, there, that door, with the green marking, and the moon and the jars inside – top shelf—one jar with English labels, neatly written, a woman's hand writing, instructions simple, just like the muscle rubs back on Earth, no heat, no showers, just massage and wait, the hardest part, running again, jar held firm, and doors opened again, shorter on the way back, and dropping down by the bedside of his pain-twisted friend.
The thin connection was muted as Jack dropped the jar on the bedside table and began to get the Doctor completely on the bed. Two sneakers joined the pile of lonely discards, two new scuff marks on the wall. The thin pinstripe pants slid off easily from too-thin legs and hips, hidden muscle wastage beneath a finely cut suit, thin feet revealed from within warm brick red knit socks. Martha would have been shocked, Jack reflected as he started to work on the buttons to the shirt, to reveal the ever-present t-shirt, burgundy this time. Shocked into lecture mode, and the Doctor couldn't even spare the energy to shush her. Jack, though, knew when to badger and when to ignore what he saw and work.
It was work, now, to lift the limp Time Lord into a position where he could get the shirt off, and try to get the t-shirt over his friend's head. It won't work, he thought, trying to work out how to pull it over his head as the sleeves of the shirt finally released the Doctor's hands (Jack had forgotten about cuff buttons; he never did his own up, after all).
"I'll get you a blanket when I'm done undressing you, Doc. Need your help for a second, okay? I'm going to pull your shirt up, you try to take it off, Doc."
An old trace of warning, almost a playful tease, but thin shoulders moved under Jack's hands and helped to shrug the final layer off. Tossing it off to the side of the bed, he eased the Doctor back down onto the pillows, half curled on his side, a pile of blankets suddenly beside him. "Thanks," Jack murmured to the Tardis, pulling the top fleece one and tucking the shivering Time Lord in. A second one covered his legs to his knees, leaving his calves and feet still exposed. Kneeling beside him on the bed, Jack reached over to the bedside table where he'd left the jar.
The jar was simple to open, simple to figure out. Warm cream (only on the Tardis, Jack thought wistfully) came out easily, tingled on his skin. He gave a passing thought to whether it was safe for him to handle the stuff, but, really, what was the worst that could happen to him, he'd die? He'd worry about numb fingers later.
Even in his agony, the Doctor's feet still twitched away from Jack's hands, ticklish and sensitive to any touch. Rose had had way too much fun with that discovery one day long ago with the previous Doctor. Jack opened his mouth, intent on distracting the Doctor with days of old, but then thought better of it. He'd lost enough today, without having to remember everything else that was gone from his life. Instead he worked in silence, rubbing the thick cream into every inch of the long feet, thin legs, and knobby knees.
Pulling the middle blanket away for the moment, Jack caught the shivers that were tracking up and down the lean muscles. "I know, Doc, you're cold. Can't blame you, but I can't – Doc!" The spasm was wracking through the Time Lord, and laid out as he was, there was nothing to stop him from drawing his legs up completely, hugging them to his chest. Nothing to stop the bone crushing force on abused flesh, there wasn't even any fabric in the way of long fingers blindly trying to claw away the pain…nothing except Jack.
Pulling the hands away from the alien's own arms, where long thin red lines were now blossoming, Jack forced one and then both hands to his face. "Doc, you've gotta hold on, now. I know it hurts, but you've got to give me the time to get that stuff into your muscles. I can't if you're going to hurt yourself."
The contact came in a flash of agony that, had Jack been standing, probably would have dropped him to the ground. It hurts it hurts why Jack, why does it always hurt, lost everything, everyone and he's gone and we run and run and it hurts and follows us, so cold, please, make it all better, why can't someone else make it alright, make it go away, make the pain the silence the screams the memories go away it hurts it hurts it hurts I'm so, so sorry Jack please help it hurts… I'll try, but hurry, please, go…
Jack wrenched back, gasping. Diving for the jar again, he didn't care about even spread or the finer points of massage therapy anymore. He'd have to treat this like you did a Charlie-horse: knead the muscles as hard and as long as needed, but with speed. No lingering. No backtracking. Just get one coat on, take the top layers of pain away, get his Doctor back.
He'd finished the legs, and though he'd had liked to leave the Time Lord with his dignity and his modesty intact, every inch had to be done. The Doctor would not thank him for a pulled muscle in certain areas. Jack had managed, on jumping a fence while chasing a weevil, to pull and tear several muscles a few years previously. Even at his healing rates, it was an uncomfortable week. But there wasn't a fuss, no comments or frowns or any movement whatsoever as he finished and tucked the legs back under their blanket.
As the next spasm wracked its way up the Doctor's spine, Jack took a massive dollop of the healing agent and began to work up and down the tense back muscles. They seemed to like the rubbing, if nothing else, loosening under his hands. The Doctor's long legs were trying to curl up, but they weren't even making it even half way up to his chest this time. Now, either the cream was working much faster at relieving the pain than he thought it would, or the Doctor was trying to help Jack, letting him finish the first coat at least.
The other option, of course, was the Doctor was simply too weak to fight it anymore. He'd barely moved without Jack's help these last few minutes, and Jack knew that the mind to mind contact was less draining for the Doctor, and faster, than talking was. So much information passed along, not always filtered from his entire thought processes, in the blink of an eye.
Working the top arm, the left in this position, Jack made sure that the biceps were well covered, as well as the fingers. He rolled his palm over the narrow shoulder socket, marvelling at the thinness of the joint, checking to make sure there wasn't a dislocation in it, before sliding an arm under the Time Lord's shoulders. "Time to roll over, Doc. Come on, just turn for me, there we go," he coaxed the limp form. He thought, for a moment, that he felt another tremor move through the muscles, but he wasn't sure, that time it could have been a shiver. His uncovered skin was icy to the touch, cooler than even his normal lower body temperature.
The right arm was next, and lifted without problem. Jack moved with sureness over the muscles, making sure everything was covered, the limp fingers just brushing his lowered cheek. The faintest trace of thought passed into Jack's mind… sleepy … cold … why doesn't it smell like fruit?… before he gently lowered the limb to the bed top. The thin chest, too thin in Jack's opinion, was easier to do now that the Doctor was lying more or less on his back, head slightly tilted to one side. The ribs were still a little ticklish, and they were much too easily counted, but Jack knew that with time and real food, that would sort itself out. Jack could count his own ribs right now, too.
Tracing his way up and across the collarbone, over the long muscles that ran down the neck, Jack drew another medium scoop out of the jar, coating both sets of fingers with it. Carefully, he reached behind the Time Lord's head, and slid greased fingers past the long, unruly hair to the scalp beneath. This area he slowed down for, moving in proper circles, following muscles and nerve direction, careful to sooth and calm, take away any lingering headaches, ever so careful to not cause any pain on such a sensitive area. Moving behind and over the ears, so unlike the first Doctor's, he kept a firm rein on where all he pressed down on, especially careful of the dents in the skin from where his glasses rested when he wanted to look all brainy.
The final scoop came, and Jack paused for a heartbeat, looking over the Time Lord. Completely limp, only the occasional twitch where one or two muscles simply did not want to lie down and behave, it was the most relaxed the former Time Agent had ever seen the Doctor. It was as peaceful as he had ever seen the Doctor.
It was heartbreaking.
Swallowing once, he leaned down over his friend, and with the most infinite care, began to cover the gaunt face with sure strokes of the medical cream. Tracing over high cheeks, careful to stay far enough away from the close eyes, he stroked every inch of the Doctor's face with the lightest of touches. Running the last traces over the slack muscles in the jaw line, Jack brushed away a tear that had dropped from his own eyes.
The hand that slid up to the side of his own face startled him, but not enough to stop him from putting a hand over top, to help hold it there, help as the fingers slowly, stiffly, moved into position.
…Jack… my Jack, my fixed point, Jack the Fact … so sleepy, so tired, … thank you, Jack, I… thank you… can't feel my toes, that's strange… stay? … need to… need to … sleep… rest… heal… stay? … Jack? …
By the end of the thought, or the middle, or the beginning, Jack found himself staring into the glazed and dull eyes of a very drowsy Time Lord, their faces inches apart. There was a hint of a smile, and a dash of worry, or loneliness, there in the dark depths. Jack smiled sadly and nodded. "I'll stay" he whispered, brushing a faint kiss on his friend's forehead. He laid the hand back down and pulled the blankets up to his friend's chin. "Sleep," he commanded, lying down beside the Doctor, pulling the last of the blankets over himself as well.
The Tardis dimmed the lights to a pre-dawn glow as her two favourite Time hoppers drifted into exhausted dreams.