Fandom: Dr. Who
Pairing: Jack/Doctor (references to others)
Notes: Very angsty missing scene from Journey's End. Thanks to haldane for pain-staking beta.
Summary: Jack knows the Doctor too well.
Jack could always tell when something was bothering the Doctor.
In the old days, it didn’t take a great deal of intuition. That Doctor didn’t often go to the trouble of hiding his emotions, especially hurt or anger. He wore them on the sleeve of his leather jacket and when Jack or Rose had done something to incur his displeasure, the TARDIS would become a dark place until the matter was resolved.
This Doctor, with his young face and cheeky grin did a better job of covering it up, but Jack wasn’t fooled. Jack could see it in his eyes, read the body language, practically feel the pain. Now he had to try and figure out what the problem was.
The Daleks were gone. The Universe was saved. The TARDIS was full of the Doctor’s friends, currently involved in a mass orgy of hugging that Jack was very much wishing might turn into the other kind. Most important of all the Doctor had Rose, the one person he’d wanted back for so long.
Jack tried to push back the jealousy. The laws of time and space couldn’t keep Rose and the Doctor apart. He should be happy for them instead of wallowing in his own hurt feelings. Especially since the Doctor, for all his brilliance, was still unable or unwilling to see something in front of his face. On the other hand, why was the Doctor not happy for himself? Not happy at all, from the looks of it.
He could see what was going on even as he was squished in a very promising, if only somewhat compromising position between Sarah Jane Smith and Jackie Tyler. Rose was talking to Mickey, her old bubbly, effusive mile-a-minute self, not noticing the Doctor, the other Doctor and Donna all looking at her with expressions more suited to a funeral.
He moved away from the two women, leaving them to hug each other as enthusiastically as they’d gripped him, (very promising indeed), and took a few minutes to observe and think.
Doctor, Doctor and Donna. Lewd imaginings aside, that meant three people with essentially the same thoughts. They all knew something about Rose, something bad.
Was she sick? Had coming back from the parallel world damaged her in some way? If that were the case, the Doctor would have told her by now. She wouldn’t look as though she had the rest of her life to travel the stars with the man she’d spent so long trying to get to. It had to be the opposite, the Doctor was giving her up. Protecting his own hearts against Rose’s humanity. Jack understood. He’d done the same thing for years, letting people get close, but never close enough to hurt. That job he’d left for the Doctor himself.
Jack watched the three Doctors, telling himself to focus on something besides how much he wanted all of them, figure out what was going on and if it was a threat the human race, or just to Rose.
There were shades of pain among them. Anguish for the Doctor, sorrow for Donna and the other Doctor…a mixture of agitation, anger, fear and…anticipation.
That Doctor was part human and to save the Universe he’d done something terrible, something that had to be done, that Jack would have done in a instant, but something terrible none-the-less, and Jack knew a few things about the Doctor’s sense of morality. He couldn’t kill part of himself, but he couldn’t let it live in the world he cared about either.
Jack wasn’t sure exactly how this was going to play out, but he had a good idea what was going to happen. Rose was going to get a Doctor, and it wasn’t going to be the one she wanted.
Maybe he should feel sorry for her and for the Doctor and even the double. They were all going to suffer in their own way, but for one second Jack indulged in a habit he thought he’d given up years ago; he felt sorry for himself. Where was his Doctor? He’d done worse things than either of them without a single scar to show for it except for the ones inside. Even a hint of long-dormant anger toward Rose started to come to surface. In all her innocence and with the best intentions, she had done this to him.
He made his way to that side of the console, absently stroking part of the TARDIS as moved. The ship loved him, even if the Doctor couldn’t. He had to find out if it was true, whether the Doctor could be that cruel, while remaining completely oblivious to the fact.
Give it a rest, Jack. How many have you abandoned along the way?
It was a good point, if he did say so himself, but he still needed to know.
The Doctor intercepted him and started talking before he could say anything about Rose.
“That’s some girl you got there, your Gwen Cooper.”
Another small stab wound in his soul. Not that he’d ever tell the Doctor.
“She sure is.”
“That’s the Jack I know. Can’t see you being alone for long.”
Never alone, but getting lonelier by the minute.
“But you’re going to be with Rose, right?”
He tried to make it gentle, vaguely inquisitive, but the Doctor could usually see through him as well, and he knew the accusation Jack was making.
“Not me; him. Parallel world. Can’t have him here,” his reply completely failed to conceal just how heavily the decision was weighing on him.
“And she has no idea?”
The Doctor shook his head.
Trapped. Whatever Rose had done, she didn’t deserve that. Nobody did. Once again the Doctor was making decisions about other people’s lives without giving them a choice. Maybe he had the right, but a little consultation would have been nice.
Jack was ready to launch into a full-scale telling off until he looked into the Doctor’s eyes and saw again how gut-wrenching this decision must be for him, and his anger and self-pity evaporated. This wasn’t about him. It was about the Doctor doing what was right for everybody, the way he always did.
All he could do was to put his arms around the Doctor to try comfort him and hope he wouldn’t be pushed away too quickly. In a perfect world, he would have done a hell of lot more than comfort, but this was the best he could do for now. The embrace lasted longer than Jack would have thought possible given his wrongness and the Doctor’s Time Lord instincts, leaving Jack with hope for the one thing he really wanted.
Maybe if he waited long enough, the Doctor would finally see him.
Meanwhile, back at the HUB...