Oh dear… It appears this is the end. I imagine many people will be unhappy with how it ends, but I wanted this to remain in the canon universe. I started writing this story with the intention that by the end, it could be plausibly canon… So… without spoiling anything, I'll leave that thought with you guys.
SUPER gigantic final thanks to riftintime. They really have helped me out with my writing skills and made this story far more readable than it would have been without them. In turn, you readers should send silent thanks to them as well.
CarpeDiemforlife also contributed to helping me with my doubts about the ending, though I know they didn't want it to end the way that it does… Tough love, Captain.
For all of the reviews I have received… I have no words for you. You guys are definitely a major part of what kept me writing. Thank you so much!
Thank you to those who don't review as well. I know you mysterious ghost readers are out there, just know that I know you exist, and I acknowledge and thank you for reading this.
So without further ado, the brief finale to 'Back with Jack'!
Jack stood atop a cliff at Lake Silencio, Utah, his coattails billowing out behind him in the wind. He felt terrible about everything he had said to the Doctor. He had worked out that the Doctor had been lying to him about his feelings in an attempt to make his death have less of an impact on the ex-time agent. While it had worked, it had torn a completely different kind of hole in Jack's heart.
He understood why he didn't get a blue envelope like the ones the Doctor had sent out. Amy, River, Rory and Canton were supposed to be the only ones there. Wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey. However, that hadn't been enough to stop him from going. The Doctor had told him everything, after all.
After leaving the Doctor back in space Florida, Jack had teleported to a planet he didn't recognize, clad in dirty clothes, and with absolutely no money. At least he had remembered his coat. After buying fresh clothes with some money he had stolen from a random person's pocket, Jack opened his Vortex Manipulator and teleported to Earth.
He'd arrived at the lake before the Ponds, which had allowed him to find a perfect vantage point. He watched the events from afar. He couldn't be seen. He knew better than to interfere with fixed but weak points in time.
He cried shamelessly as the Doctor was shot by the impossible astronaut, and then again as the Time Lord's body was burnt.
It was Jack's first time back in 21st century Earth since he'd left after eliminating the threat of the 456. Once again, he was overwhelmed with a sense of true loneliness. The Doctor was gone forever, just like Ianto. Just like Toshiko and Owen… Just like all of the other Torchwood operatives that he had lost over the years. Jack could have called himself Abaddon, because everywhere he went, death followed in his shadow…
His eyes followed the Ponds as they walked away. He cast one last glance out at the water, seeing the spot where the Doctor's ashes were slowly diffusing into the lake. He took a deep breath, knowing there was one last place he needed to visit before he left Earth again. He knew he couldn't stay. The guilt would drive him mad.
He teleported back to Cardiff Bay and slowly walked up to the water tower in the middle of Roald Dahl Plass. It had been rebuilt since the explosion that had torn him apart and destroyed the Hub.
He looked down at the cement squares surrounding the monolith and smiled faintly as he stepped onto one of them, the one that the TARDIS had landed on and allowed Jack to create the invisible lift. He turned around, his back to the water tower, and closed his eyes, taking a deep breath. Torchwood was gone. There was no secret base beneath his feet; just earth and more concrete.
The Doctor had broken Jack's heart to help him move on. The Doctor didn't want Jack to mourn him. The Time Lord had wanted Jack to carry on with his life. Jack knew he needed to. He stepped off the pavement and started to walk away to find a secluded place to teleport from.
He hadn't even taken three steps before a sound that he was convinced he would never hear again came from behind him. Jack whipped around and stared at the blue box that stood right where it had landed what seemed like several life-times ago.
Jack couldn't comprehend what he was seeing. How is the TARDIS here? The Doctor is dead! I saw him die! Jack thought frantically.
The door swung open and the Doctor jumped out, looking almost exactly like Jack had last seen him.
"I just thought you'd like to be the first to know, Jack! I'm not dead. It's really complicated, in fact Amy and Rory don't even know I'm alive. And they can't. No one can know," the Doctor said matter-of-factly.
"Wh-what? How are you-"
"Long story, Jack!"
"Why the hell are you telling me that you're alive? I just accepted that you were dead!" Jack couldn't help but feel slightly annoyed, but he was relieved more than anything.
"Because my death would be one more to add to your list of grievances. And, well, you know I hate putting you in pain." The Doctor smiled softly and pulled Jack in for a hug that Jack didn't return. He couldn't let himself fall for the Time Lord again.
"Come on, Jack! Let's go on some more adventures!" The Doctor beamed, pulling back from the embrace.
Jack shook his head and sighed. "Doctor, you know we can't do that and you know why." Jack wanted to go, he did, but he knew what would inevitably happen. He figured out that what he had felt with the Doctor wasn't really love. At least, not like what he had felt with Ianto. With the Doctor, it was an infatuation both participants let run on for far too long. Jack needed to move on, something that all of his time at Torchwood and all of the deaths of his friends and colleagues had taught him.
The Doctor nodded and tried not to look crestfallen. "It was good, yeah?"
Jack's face twisted in pain. "What are the chances?" he muttered.
"I'm sorry?" the Doctor asked, his concern evident.
"That's exactly what Ianto said before he-" Jack's voice caught in his throat.
"Yeah… But it was... It was great. We just can't be together. We're both too destructive," Jack said, his eyes locking with the Doctor's.
"Too much blood on our hands and too much guilt in our conscience." The Doctor nodded.
"And we're both just too damn attractive." Jack flashed him a grin, needing to lighten the mood. They both laughed and embraced each other again.
"Bye, Jack," The Doctor whispered.
"You think we'll ever run into each other again?"
"I have no doubt about it. We're both drawn to universal danger, aren't we?" The Doctor chuckled.
"Guess so." Jack rolled his eyes.
"I really did enjoy my time with you, Jack. You need to know that. I'm so sorry for what I said to you in Florida, but you know-"
"You said it to save me from myself, I get it. Stop with the apologies." Jack forced a smile.
The Doctor sighed and pressed a kiss to Jack's forehead. "But really, Jack, you shouldn't waste your breath on me. I'm not worth it."
Jack shook his head. "But you are. We just can't handle each other, and that's enough to spoil any good relationship."
The Doctor smiled and hugged Jack tightly. "See you again, yeah?"
"Yeah…" Jack chuckled sadly.
And with that, the Doctor slipped back inside his blue box. Jack stepped back as the wind picked up around him and the TARDIS dematerialized. He shoved his hands in his coat pockets, smiled wistfully, and turned away.
He'd see the Doctor again. He knew it. The Time Lord was right; they were both drawn to the same kinds of circumstances. Their paths would cross again, no doubt.
And if Jack ever found the Doctor again, there would be no stop to the flirting, but now he knew where to draw the line. Jack could safely say he was completely over the Doctor. That didn't mean that the situation hadn't hurt him, but he knew he couldn't afford to slip back into his post-Ianto depression or anything similar to it.
He had learned quite a lot from his experience, too, so that was a plus…
"The end is where we start from," Jack had told his team once, and in all senses, this was most definitely another end.