A/N A nice, random little Jack/10 that I wrote a while back for a friend. I didn't like it at first, which is why it wasn't posted here then, but... meh, might as well try and fish out a few reviews with it ;) If you don't find it all that great, we're of a similar mind type, no? If you like it, then extra special bonus happiness for le authoress. Looking over this, the storyline seems to pretty much be a twist on "Amy's Choice" with a little moment from "The Unicorn and the Wasp," so I guess I was just feeling un-creative plot-wise. Gah, don't kill me! XD
Rated T for slashy kissing. Yumyum.
Disclaimer I don't own Doctor Who or any associated characters, events, etc.
"Just what I've always wanted," Jack Harkness muttered sarcastically, crouching down and peering into the tunnel. He aimed the flashlight in his hand into the musty darkness, and a cold draft drifted from it, chilling his fingertips. As far as he could see, there was relatively nothing other than rusty walls and grimy puddles, the steady sound of dripping echoing off the claustrophobic surfaces. "A mysterious alien that we know nothing about, a tunnel that looks just about as haunted as anything I've ever seen…" He glanced up towards his companion, trademark grin spreading over his face. "And you, Doctor."
The thinner, spikier-haired man standing beside him glanced down, an exasperated look settling onto his wide-eyed face. He was wearing his glasses, the tortoiseshell frames perched neatly on his nose. "I'm sure," he grunted in response, then half-kneeled next to Jack, squinting into the semi-darkness.
The tunnel was hidden behind a broken-down wall, the paper covering of which was a garish, faded flower pattern. They'd traced the creature to this dejected house, working through a pattern of bizarre deaths (whatever the thing might be, it was obviously quite violent), and now there was no doubt in either Jack or the Doctor that they'd reached the hiding place of their quarry. There was something about the tunnel—perhaps a bit more material for the Time Lord, but even Jack's human senses could detect it. A vague wrongness. Something was there that shouldn't be. Another species—from another world.
It was a longer story how the two of them had gotten together again in the first place, but still a simple one. In summary, Jack had simply stumbled upon a very lonely Doctor while pursuing the alien, and, with good intentions (and perhaps a decent eye for the Time Lord's slim figure), had suggested that he be of assistance. The Doctor had agreed all too eagerly, and Jack couldn't help but recognize how awful he must feel. They were all gone now—Rose, Martha, Donna, Mickey, Jackie. The Doctor had, as usual, ended up on his own.
Somebody just giving him a passing glance probably wouldn't notice, Jack thought as his companion pulled out his sonic screwdriver and began running it over the edges of the hole in the wall. He was as intensely focused on his work as ever, looking for all the world as though he was nothing more than a particularly enthusiastic scientist. He was more, though, so much more, and Jack knew that as well as anybody.
Why do they always leave you? Who do they have that's better than you?
Jack himself wouldn't have left the Doctor if Torchwood didn't need him, if Gwen and the rest didn't need him… but they did. That was the problem. And he doubted that he'd be accepted as a full-time rider of the TARDIS. The Doctor may need somebody, but he didn't want Jack. And that was all right, if painful. It was the little moments like these, anyways, the fragments of time when their worlds crossed over, that made the link between them all the more magical.
Jack's mouth quirked up at the word. Magic. He lived in a gritty reality. If there was one thing that becoming immortal, hunting aliens, and traveling through time had taught him, it was that there was absolutely no such thing as magic. Magic was a thing for stories, not real life. For princesses and princes, the latter of which would defeat a gruesome dragon with a single swipe of his shining, broad sword. Not for them, a former time agent and a nine-hundred-year-old alien who were pursuing a creature from another planet armed with a gun and a screwdriver.
There wouldn't ever be a happily ever after for them, not really, but that was okay. They didn't need one. Jack wasn't even sure he wanted one.
"Well?" he prompted when the sonic screwdriver's buzzing ceased.
"It's definitely in there, but still not registering as anything I'm familiar with." The Doctor didn't look at Jack, but instead gazed deeply into the tunnel, wearing the sort of look that came only with discovering a new and intriguing species. "What are you…?" he murmured at the murky darkness.
"Best to go and find out," Jack suggested after a brief bout of silence that showed no sign of abating.
"Don't rush it," the Doctor shot back, a hint of annoyance working its way into the three words. "There's no need to disturb anything that doesn't want to be. Look at the place. There's no way that the only thing down there is our alien."
"My job is to track them down, Doctor. Imprison them. Often kill them."
"And you know what I think of that," was the muttered response.
"I sure do." Jack tossed a casual grin, one that some people might swoon for, in the direction of the Time Lord, who only gave a small eye roll, clearly unimpressed. One day, that'll work on you, the captain thought before pulling himself into the tunnel.
It was low-ceilinged, enough so that he had to duck. The dripping from the moldy ceiling to stale puddles seemed magnified, each little plop shattering the silence that was otherwise unbroken save Jack's heavy breaths. "Looks safe enough," he reported, flicking the flashlight he held back and forth a couple of times before twisting his neck around to peer back through the broken-down wall. The abandoned, Victorian-furnished house that he'd been in moments ago looked especially dusty in comparison to the sleek suit the Doctor wore. The two didn't quite fit together. The Doctor was like that. Rather than looking natural everywhere, as one might expect, he stood out no matter his surroundings.
No wonder everyone was always chasing after him. People were often attracted to inaccessible things.
Yeah, Jack would know.
"That's what everyone always says," the Doctor breathed, eyes flicking back and forth as he carefully removed his glasses, "before the ones with the fangs come out."
"Yeah—well, Doc, I have some expertise in this area," Jack plowed on, trying to ignore the faint chill that slid down his spine at the words, "and I can promise you that no live alien'll be getting within a five-yard radius of us."
"How very Torchwood of you," the Doctor muttered.
"Well, aren't you being a spoilsport today. You could use a protector. Don't have that many regenerations left, do you? What's this—Ten?" He said it as though he didn't know. As if he didn't constantly think about all the differences between the Ninth and Tenth versions of the Time Lord, and just how much he adored each and every feature of them both.
"Tenth," he agreed. "Well—Tenth and a half. I kind of cheated."
"I remember that," Jack agreed with a broad smile. "I didn't want you to change, I like you this way. Same with—"
The unspoken word hung suspended in the suddenly awkward silence between the two men. Rose. Rose Tyler, back home in her alternate reality now. She didn't exist here anymore. In a way, to them, she really was dead. Things had sealed for good this time. Accepting that was hard, but Jack thought he had finally managed to. He could tell that the Doctor wasn't so fortunate, though. It showed. There was something about him—subtle, indescribable, but very much there—that reflected the old, old man trapped inside the young body. He'd had so many companions… before Jack, before Rose, even, and, some way or another, he must have lost them all…
"No time to waste," the Doctor mumbled a bit gruffly, taking a deep breath and filling the space left by the single unspoken syllable. Jack gave a small nod and looked away, aiming the flashlight towards the end of the tunnel. The slimy walls were close together, and as he inched farther down, things began to get a bit claustrophobic—the tunnel narrowed until his broad shoulders were actually brushing against both sides at once. His fingers lingered over the gun strapped to his waist, but he didn't remove it, not yet. He wouldn't normally be this cautious, not if he was with any other man. But he didn't want to dip the Doctor's opinion of him lower than it already was—he did have a feeling that he wasn't quite up to par currently.
"Getting a bit narrow," he called back, carefully laying one foot in front of the other. The light from the house behind them was nearly gone, and Jack's flashlight beam was rebounding off something ahead of them. He hurried forward, scooting rather awkwardly through the tunnel, and reached the end quite suddenly. The wall loomed before him, glistening with moisture. He reached out a hand to touch it, then stopped, retracting his hand.
"That's not water…" he breathed, eyes flickering over the odd silvery sheen of the gel-like liquid coating the dark bricks.
"What?" The Doctor came up behind him and poked the sonic screwdriver over his shoulder, buzzing it up and down the wall. "Still unrecognizable… what could this possibly be?" Jack glanced back to see that his eyes were wide, roving around the shadows of the extremely close corner the two of them were packed in.
"More importantly, where could it be? This is the end of the tunnel. Could we have missed it somehow?"
"No, I don't think so. He just kept going… there must be a way ou-ut!" With a yell, he completely vanished from sight.
"Doctor!" Jack shouted, eyes widening at the sudden darkness where the Time Lord had stood mere moments ago. He fell to his knees, stare flitting over the floor, searching for a device, anything that could have seemingly vaporized a seemingly solid man. What he discovered was a rotted trapdoor that he must have stepped over somehow, a couple of feet wide and hardly any more than a few damp wood fragments dangling from rusty hinges. The Doctor must have fallen straight through it.
"Leave that to the skinny-assed one," Jack grumbled to himself, hooking the heavy-duty flashlight on his belt and sliding his legs into the dark chasm, lowering himself down until he was dangling by his fingertips. "Doctor!" he yelled.
"Just down here, it's not a far drop… I think we found where our alien was headed, anyhow. Don't wait up! Allons-y!"
Shaking his head in rather fond disbelief, the American exhaled heavily and released the edge of the floor, falling for an instant before crashing ungracefully to a cold ground that felt rather like cement. Groaning, he picked himself up, blinking a few times before realizing that it was completely dark. He felt the flashlight clipped to his side, running his finger carefully along the lens and immediately locating a large crack down the middle.
"Hey, language!" the Doctor protested indignantly from somewhere nearby. "It's only a torch!"
"Only a torch to you, maybe, Englishman, but to me it's the only light supply in here. I don't know what sort of Time Lord superpowers you might have—"
"You're getting quite worked up over such a tiny thing," the Doctor mused, sounding slightly alarmed.
Jack took a couple of deep breaths, trying to hold himself together. "Sorry about that. I haven't eaten all day, it does things to my mood."
"Doesn't it to everyone's?"
He gave a short type of chuckle as acknowledgement that a mildly funny comment had been made. "I suppose so. Then there's also the fact that we're trapped underground, ten feet below an exit, in complete darkness, pursuing some type of deadly alien that neither of us have ever encountered before—and that is saying something."
"It sure is." A shuffling sound clued Jack in to the fact that the Doctor was walking around the chamber they were now stuck in. "Seem to be plenty of exits… this thing ought to be enough to tell us which one we'd best take." A faint buzzing filled the air, and Jack's eyes focused on a small fragment of pale blue light. The screwdriver, at least, was still working. It illuminated the Doctor's thin face, his lips pressed together intently and his eyes focused on the faint beam. Jack's stomach suddenly lurched as he became even more aware of the situation they were in—from a different perspective. Even as he told himself furiously that this was not the time for flirting, he was taking a more casual pose, his lips already moving to form long-practiced words.
"So, Doctor, look at the two of us. Ten feet below an exit in complete darkness." Though they were the exact same words he'd spoken earlier, the different tone in which he now put them changed everything about them.
The Doctor froze and turned back to glare at him. "Is this really the time?"
It's not my fault that low lighting makes you ridiculously sexy. And don't mind my mouth, it says what it wants to. "Why not?"
"Why not? Because we're pursuing something deadly, mysterious, and quite possibly very hungry, that's why."
"It's nowhere around here," Jack pointed out matter-of-factly. "Come on, don't push yourself too hard. We've been tracking this thing since dawn, and it's practically sundown. Give it a rest."
"Not when we're this close."
He sighed as the Doctor turned away from him again, resuming his scan of the various tunnels leading out of the small room they were in. For God's sake, get a grip on the fact that he's not interested in you. He couldn't, though. That was his problem. The Doctor was something to him that others weren't, as hard as they tried. Not even Ianto had quite been the same. You're like a clueless girl, just padding after him. How cliché that he happens to be the only one to be completely immune to you. Cliché, and yet still indescribably frustrating. He wouldn't be laughing next time he heard tell of such a cheesy storyline.
The examination of each roughly hewn doorway seemed to take ages, and a chill that came with being underground was beginning to set into Jack's skin. He ran a hand through his hair, leaning back against one of the stone walls—which didn't help, seeing as it was slick with icy water that soaked through his thin, tight T-shirt in moments. "How much longer—" he began, when suddenly a massive crash rang through the chamber. He quickly leapt away from the wall, eyes straining in the darkness, struggling futilely to recognize the source of the noise. It was vaguely that he recognized himself to be holding his gun, slowly pivoting it around. The sonic screwdriver's light had gone out.
"Doctor?" he called warily.
"Right here. Looks like the exits have sealed themselves off…"
Instinctively, Jack glanced towards the hole they'd dropped through. Sure enough, the faint trickle of dusty light that had previously shown around it seemed to have completely vanished.
"Perfect. Just perfect," he muttered in disgust. "So this isn't a chase…"
"It's a trap," the Doctor agreed quietly.
The two of them stood there, surrounded by absolute, pitch-black silence, a dark air in which palpable tension seemed to hang. The deaths… the slime… and now this. Something that neither of us were familiar with the methods of…
"I think," Jack began half-jokingly, "that this thing is a bit smarter than we've given it credit for."
Neither of them were in danger, not really—Jack couldn't die, and the Doctor would almost certainly be able to regenerate—but that didn't stop the two of them from laughing with a sort of completely spooked humor.
"It's fine, we can get out," the Doctor declared, as though Jack's words had inspired him to break out of his silent reverie. The screwdriver buzzed to life again, and Jack found that they were somehow much closer together than they'd been before.
Suddenly, a sound rasped through the air. It was slow, but eerie, an unidentifiable minor note, sounding like a mix between a child's cry and a woman's frightened intake of breath. It was enough to send Jack's hair on end, and he wasn't one to be scared easily. But this noise—it seemed to strike some deep chord within him, the child he used to be, the one afraid of the dark, ghosts, monsters. It was wordless, but ran by them like wind, twisting and somehow managing to brush against his bared arms even without physical substance.
"Doctor," he breathed when the shivering whisper faded away again, "what is it?" As if he expected there to be an answer now. As if the bizarre fear that was now setting in on him somehow placed an explanation in his companion's mind.
"…I don't know."
"There's something in here," he growled, switching gun hands in order to wipe his sweaty palm on his pants, "that neither of us know a thing about, that's intelligent enough to actually trap us in here, and that makes sounds that—" He hesitated, searching for non-cowardly words to describe the feeling the thing had delivered.
"Must be a psychological thing," the Doctor reasoned, but he sounded a bit desperate. "It gets into your mind, activates fear centers…"
"Fear? Ha." Jack snorted. "For you, maybe. This thing isn't killing either of us, though, that's for sure. Come on, let's…"
"Cut it out. If anyone's getting us out of this situation, it's m—"
A tremor ran through the floor just then, so that they both crashed into each other with faint yelps. Jack instinctively grabbed for the Doctor, seemingly just as the other chose to turn around, resulting in his open hand connecting with what might have been a forehead, but, anyhow, was certainly quite hard.
"Hey!" he drew back, the sharp pain in his fingers managing to momentarily distract him from the looming menace. He shook them out furiously. "I think your face broke my hand…"
The Doctor ignored him, and within moments, the floor had steadied out again, along with his mind. The creepiness was back, and stronger if anything.
Of course, that changed moments later when something heavy hit him in the back.
He yelled wordlessly, stumbling forward, then turned around, blinking into the darkness. "Doctor? What the hell was that for?" He ignored the idea that it could be anyone—anything—else, even though the odds were quite high.
"Are you scared?" was the immediate reply.
"What—of course I'm not—"
"No, Jack, I mean it. Are you scared?" He felt slender but strong hands grasp his shoulders, squeezing. "You need to answer this honestly. Everything could depend on it."
"Well…" The creature's voice slid through the chamber again. "Yes… yes, I suppose I am. What's it to you?"
One of the hands disappeared, and moments later, a sharp smack ran across one cheek, which then began smarting madly. "Fuck—Doctor—"
"How about now?"
"I… no," he realized aloud. Then, just as quickly as it had gone, the fear was back. "No, again…"
"To be logical-minded, in control, you need to be in shock—no, stress, pain," the Doctor explained rapidly, his voice growing faster and louder with excitement. "There's probably a way out of this, something really obvious, and that's why it's trying to frighten us. The mind can't work right under pressure. But if there's a different dominant emotion… like pain, for instance."
"Like pain. For instance."
"Go on, then."
Jack felt a slow grin spreading over his face in the darkness. "Are you telling me to…?"
"Hit me, slap me, whatever. Just something. Quickly."
Of course. Trying to rein in his sudden frustration, he obeyed easily, reaching out for the Doctor's arm and twisting it backwards, keeping his movements perfectly controlled, hurting without injuring. It was a useful skill, and one that he'd had plenty of practice with. He carefully held it in position, trying to ignore the Doctor's stifled whimpers of pain, gritting his teeth against the mysterious alien's power.
"Yes!" the Time Lord finally gasped out, relief seeping into the single syllable.
"You've got it?"
"So simple, it was staring us both in the face…"
"But what is it?"
"Mental. Psychological. This thing, whatever it is, gets inside your head. And while it does that, it's working on something else—on your body. Killing it. But those sounds, the ground shaking, even the slime…"
"In our heads," Jack echoed wonderingly.
"Yes! I can't believe I didn't think of it before, I don't know where we are now, but this is a—a sort of shared dream, see… neither of us are here, not really. I don't know how far back it got us, probably at some point in the upper tunnel, but we need something truly powerful to get us completely out of this—pain to that level would be too mentally damaging, so what's another strong…"
"You complete idiot," Jack sighed, slowly tucking away his gun.
"Sometimes I forget how much of an alien you are," he breathed, then took the Doctor's head in his hands, pulling him forward in a single swift, strong motion, and pressing their lips together. The body opposite him stiffened up in alarm at first, but he was an experienced kisser, and knew how to do things properly. He started out slowly, gently, running his fingers through the other's spiky hair, mouth moving softly in and out. No time to waste, the part of his mind that still recognized his reason for doing this reminded him, and he moved things along perhaps a bit faster than he might usually, moving a hand to the Doctor's back while supporting his neck steadily with the other, moving their bodies closer together and applying a bit more force where their mouths were connected, sliding in his tongue, feeling himself heat up—
Abruptly, he found himself lying on a hard floor, cold once more, and most certainly not kissing anybody. His flashlight sat next to him, the beam bright as ever, shining on a drowsy-looking Doctor, who was slumped awkwardly against the wall. They were in a narrower part of the tunnel, and a little ways ahead, he could see the end of it—this time, though, the black bricks appeared to be dry.
"It's gone," the Doctor murmured, his voice so soft that Jack hardly heard it. "Whatever it was… it's gone now. Escaped. It would take weeks to track it down again…"
Jack turned back to him, pulling himself off the floor and watching the other do the same, not speaking as he retrieved his flashlight and aimed it back towards the house they'd left. He couldn't see any sunlight left, so over an hour must have passed since the two of them unknowingly collapsed. Dreams did always pass oddly.
He glanced back towards the Doctor then, the large brown eyes and the mussed-up hair, his gaze questioning. The Time Lord looked away at first, but slowly met Jack's eyes.
"Don't pretend like it didn't happen," Jack urged.
"And don't give me crap about having a different dream than me or something, because we both know—"
"I wasn't going to," the Doctor cut in impatiently. "What I was going to say was that… well.. I'm glad that—" He hesitated nervously, contemplated his words for a moment, then let them rush out. "I'm… I... didn't mind that all so much." He gave a small cough and tucked his hands into his suit pockets.
Jack slowly shook his head, a ridiculously large smile taking over his face. "How long has it been since somebody kissed you? Really kissed you?"
"Well—Donna had to administer shock a while back when I was poisoned, actually rather similar circum—"
"You know what I mean," Jack interrupted.
"Yeah. I could tell."
"Hey!" the Doctor cried indignantly as he whisked around and started up the tunnel again, back out to the house. "I wasn't—I mean, come on…"
"You could use some practice is all."
"And you're willing to offer that?"
"Maybe I am."