Ratings & Warnings: 18/NC-17 for sexual content.
Characters: the Doctor (first during his Ninth incarnation, then during his Tenth) & Captain Jack Harkness
Spoilers: for New Who up to series 3; minor spoilers for series 1 of Torchwood.
Summary: Jack's spent a long time trying to persuade the Doctor to sleep with him, but it's never really been about sex.
Comments & constructive criticism hugely appreciated!
When the Doctor has free time he likes to fix things. Jack could go on for hours about what that says—about the Doctor's all-consuming desire to make things right, to restore people and things to past states of grace; about his guilt and desire for redemption and almost pathological fixation on restoration—but he doesn't, because the Doctor doesn't want to hear (“I've heard all the jokes about my name before, thanks”), and Jack, well, Jack likes to watch.
There is a beauty in fixing that Jack has never before appreciated, an order and a mystery and a boundless patience. Careful and gentle, the Doctor moves from tool to tool and from problem to problem, gesturing silently for Jack to pass him this spanner or that wire, painstakingly easing about grating mechanisms so as not to wake Rose who sleeps close by, curled and peaceful. Jack relishes the thick slithering smell of oil and the faint click of metal on metal almost as much as he loves the Doctor's frown: thoughtful, critical, understanding and solving and fixing. Everything is silent and still, the TARDIS sliding gracefully through the eye of time's storm, and Jack loves it. He takes deep breaths and relaxes, coat off and shirt slightly unbuttoned, leaning back against the console and watching. After being on the run from the Time Agency for so long it is so impossibly good to be still.
Tonight the Doctor is working on something that Jack can't name, some coil of circuitry under one of the TARDIS's floor panels which pulses with a soothing blue light and emits a low, throbbing hum that Jack can feel in the back of his throat. The Doctor, leather jacket discarded, rests on his hands and knees before the opening, occasionally leaning back to rub his jaw with his hand, to murmur something too quietly for Jack to hear. As he bends over the muscles of his back stand out sharply against his black t-shirt, straining against the fabric: Jack can see each vertebra, the sharp lines of his shoulderblades.
“Do you have a body under those clothes?”
The Doctor starts a little and looks to Rose quickly as if to check Jack's words haven't disturbed her—but she lies as serene as before, her chest rising and falling slowly, cheek cushioned on the back of her left hand as her body curls, vulnerable and at peace. Reassured, he rests back on his heels and looks to Jack with one eyebrow arched, a furrow between his brows, half-accusing and half-curious.
Jack grins, sitting up to gesture to the Doctor's body—skin and muscle and bone hidden beneath black fabric, sweat slightly darkening the collar of his t-shirt. “We never see you naked.”
That makes the Doctor laugh, quiet because of Rose, a faint look of incredulity on his face. “Are you supposed to? TARDISes aren't nudist colonies. At least, not this one.” For a moment he pauses, and some darkness passes over his eyes that Jack has seen before and still doesn't understand.
“Well, I've never seen you go to the showers, either.”
“Oi! That's slander, that is,” the Doctor says, quickly perking up again. “You can't go around implying healthcare professionals are dirty. Don't take all your hormones out on me just because I have showers before you're awake. You're worse than a teenager, Jack. Should be ashamed of yourself.”
Jack grins at that, shaking his head a little. He's used to this kind of flirting with the Doctor: this gentle banter, a slow back-and-forth broken up with sudden hesitations on the Doctor's part, sudden inexplicable falters and halts. Sometime it'll happen, like it always does when Jack's involved, and right now he has all the time in the world to wait. For a while neither of them speaks again: the Doctor, grinning and shaking his head with affectionate disbelief, leans back down once more to look into the revealed circuitry; Jack lets his eyes slide lazily over the other man's body, the taut muscles of his thighs, ass and arms pressed tight against the fabric. The Doctor may turn down sex every time, sure—but Jack is sure that some degrees of flirtation have to be intentional.
After a few more minutes something clicks and then whirs briefly beneath the floor panels; the Doctor sits up again with a triumphant grin on his face, holding up a confusing instrument—half whisk, half garden trowel with a slight homage to nail clippers—in a gesture of victory. “Done! Wow, they didn't make that look so hard in the manual.”
“Are you going to answer my question now?”
The Doctor points the instrument at Jack accusingly, but he's smiling. “You're terrible. What is it with humans? Sex-crazed and daft, the lot of you. First Rose asks me if I—dance, and then you go and ask me what I look like without any clothes on? I'm gonna have to talk to some representative or something. This is sexual harassment.”
“I never asked you what you look like naked,” Jack replies quickly, holding back a laugh. “Just if there is a body under there.”
“What do you think? Time Lords may be alien, but I'm strictly one-hundred-percent corporeal, thanks. None of this disembodied consciousness rubbish for me.” The Doctor stands quickly, turning his back on Jack as he goes to one of the far corners of the room; there is the sound of a tap being turned on, running water splashing against metal and skin. From where he sits Jack can see the small movements of the Doctor's arms as he washes his hands. Jack himself moves too—gets to his feet and stretches slightly, wincing at a brief rush of pins and needles over his feet, massaging his hands lightly where the pattern from the TARDIS's floor is imprinted onto the flesh of his palms.
“Anyway,” the Doctor says suddenly, so quiet because of Rose that Jack for a moment thinks he's imagined the sound of the other man's voice, “I'm the Doctor. Doesn't matter about the body underneath. I'm the Doctor, through and through. I'm not here to dance.”
After a slight pause Jack takes a few steps over to him, stopping several feet behind the Doctor and a little to his left—close enough to see how white the Doctor's knuckles are as he clasps his hand together, trying to scrape off a thin layer of grease; close enough to smell the sheen of sweat over the Doctor's skin. It's hot in the TARDIS, in this moment: the warmth presses against Jack's skin and clings to his body. His mouth is dry.
“You don't have to be here for it. It's just fun.”
The muscles over the Doctor's back tense for a moment, his shoulders rising ever so slightly before he exhales, air audibly rushing over his lips. “When I need a lecture on sex from a human with enough hormones to fill a swimming pool, Jack, I'll be sure to let you know,” he bites back—but his voice is, though quick, not harsh; before he looks back to the sink the Doctor ever so briefly turns his head back towards Jack, gives him the tiniest hint of a smile.
Jack feels, all of a sudden, confident and brash and needy: he steps forward again so he's close enough behind the Doctor almost to touch, lingering on the edge of the Doctor's personal space, breathing on the back of the man's neck, making the little hairs there stand up. The Doctor's hands stop moving instantly in the sink, the water running undisturbed over them—but he does not pull away. It's as good a sign as any Jack thinks he's likely to receive. Slowly, carefully, more tentative than he thinks he has ever been in his life, he reaches forward, lets his fingertips brush the bare skin at the Doctor's wrists, momentarily feeling the double pulse flicker. The Doctor's skin is chill from the water, his palms still slightly stained with grease; holding his breath, Jack allows his fingers to slide forward further still, tracing away droplets of water, hardly touching the tough flesh of the Doctor's palms. Before him, the Doctor's body tenses again, and Jack half-hears a little rushed intake of breath, feels the brush of the Doctor's back against his stomach as he leans backwards ever so slightly.
Jack is so hard that he aches.
“We can find somewhere...?”
The Doctor half laughs, the sound breathy and unusually soft. “Where? There's only the Vortex out there.”
“The TARDIS has hundreds of rooms,” Jack replies, hardly thinking about the words: all of himself is focused on his hands, fingers slowly threading through the Doctor's, clasping together, feeling the Doctor's nails catch slightly on his skin. He swallows. “It's bigger on the inside—”
An indignant noise comes from the Doctor, and he turns his head sideways so that Jack can see him in profile, so close: his strong nose, thin lips, the big ears he's always complaining about. “That's like having sex on your parents' bed!”
Jack can't help a laugh at that, letting himself lean slightly forward so that his lips brush the curve of the Doctor's ear as he speaks: “didn't stop me when I was younger.”
“I'm not young,” the Doctor says firmly. “And anyway—it's worse than that. You couldn't understand. It's like—it's having sex in front of yourself.”
“...That's bad? 'Cause I've kinda always had this thing for mirrors...”
The Doctor laughs again, and suddenly he is pulling his hands free from Jack's, turning to face him. Their bodies are so close together that Jack can feel the distance between them, vibrating with possibilities and chances, so fragile, so easy to bridge. For a long moment neither of them speak, though the Doctor's lips move briefly as if he looks for words; a faint frown deepens over his forehead. Just when Jack thinks that it is safe for him to lean forward to kiss him, the Doctor rests a hand firm and strong on his chest, easily holding Jack back.
“And when would we have time?”
Jack blinks incredulously for a moment. “You live in a time machine.”
Looking a little offended, the Doctor sniffs—but a smile tugs at the corner of his lips, irresistible, impossible to hide. “Well, that's selling her short. Like calling a Swiss Army knife just a pair of scissors. Or an atomic bomb a nasty surprise. Something's left unsaid—”
Jack kisses the Doctor before he can push him away again, before he can even finish his sentence, cupping the back of the Doctor's head in his hand and pulling him close, pressing their lips together. On his chest the Doctor's fingers briefly flex before, suddenly, tightening in his shirt, pulling him forwards—
They are both knocked off their feet so suddenly that Jack can't even work out he's on his back in a pile of Jack-and-Doctor for a few moments: there are some seconds where he just breathes and tries to work out whether the ringing is coming from inside of his head or outside of it. The answer is, apparently, outside: from the other side of the room there's a rustling noise of blankets being pushed away and then Rose says, voice groggy with sleep, “what's the alarm...?”
Suddenly the Doctor is bracing himself against the floor and pushing up onto his feet as if nothing at all had happened, running to the console to look at some screens, flick a few switches. His eyes widen and a beam spreads over his face. “Quick! You have to see this! This isn't supposed to happen for another fifty million years—can't be—but it is—oh, Rose, you'll love it—you too, Jack, what a sight... Fantastic!”
For a moment, before he can pick himself up, Jack is left lying alone in the wake of the Doctor's enthusiasm.
After they drop Blaine's egg back on Raxacoricofallapatorius, a trip to ancient Japan sounds like a nice way to wind down. Rose is still upset after losing Mickey back in Cardiff, and that affects the Doctor; Jack, personally, gives a yes-vote because the last time he visited Kyoto—granted, several thousand years in the future from now—he met a pretty girl and hey, you never know, her great-great-great-great....-great-great grandma might be wandering around somewhere. It's happened before. Who says that time traveling doesn't have its perks?
After the Doctor has set the coordinates (“how does the fourteenth century sound? Kemmu restoration. Interesting time,”) and Rose has gone off to look for something a little more historically-accurate than her jeans to wear, the Doctor and Jack are left alone in the control room. It is the first time that they have been properly alone in the TARDIS since that night when they stood together by the sink, and the memory of the kiss hangs heavy in the air, weighing on Jack's shoulders, pressing at his throat. In the days since there has not been one mention of what happened: the Doctor has not looked at Jack in any way that recalls it, or done anything which has reignited the possibility. Instead he has been stubbornly, contrarily normal, upbeat and chatty, and now, left alone with him again, Jack does not know what to do.
“Maybe you should change too,” the Doctor says after a pause, fiddling with a little dial on the TARDIS's control panel. “I could be wrong, but I don't remember trench coats being all the rage in fourteenth century Japan.”
Jack can't stop himself smiling. “What about you? Leather jackets the big thing in Kyoto this year?”
“People don't tend to notice what I wear,” the Doctor replies with a shrug—but it is clear that his mind has already moved on and he takes a step back from the console, giving Jack a brief appraising look before he tilts his head towards the door. “Come here.”
Without hesitation Jack does as he's told, trying not to think of how just coming closer to the Doctor sends little flickers of arousal through him, making his skin tingle. The Doctor rests a hand on his shoulder and gently propels him forward, towards the door; he opens it with his other hand before pushing Jack through it in front of him to stand at the entranceway. Jack catches his breath as he stops. Traveling in the TARDIS will never get old.
At this moment in time and space the door of the TARDIS opens out onto a bamboo forest, an almost surreal greenness surrounding it everywhere. The air is slightly chill on Jack's skin, so pure and fresh that it almost aches in his lungs: as he turns his head to see as far as he can in the shadows under the towering bamboos, looking this way and that through the clustered ranks of hard trunks, he breathes it in deep, shivers as its chillness slides down his throat. Far above him the leaves of the bamboo plants rush against each other in the wind, a hundred thousand voices whispering.
The Doctor's voice is so close behind his ear that Jack starts, ever so slightly.
“One of the most beautiful things on all the worlds, this. Of course, you humans won't appreciate it. You'll use it for light bulbs, yes. For wind chimes. But not really appreciate it. It's nearly all gone by the time you're born.”
Jack can hardly breathe. He stays as still as he can, sure a particularly strong gust of wind could blow him over, sure that a single leaf could cut him apart. Standing so still he can feel every particle inside of him shaking. When the Doctor's lips brush his neck, ever so slightly, and his breath runs across Jack's skin in a whisper, Jack's ribs threaten to crack open with the inability to contain this want.
“Will Rose ever forgive me?”
Heart beating loud, Jack swallows, briefly licks his lips. “For what?”
“For taking her away.”
“Is this about Mickey?”
The Doctor shifts, ever so slightly, and ends up pressed against Jack from behind—hardly touching, but Jack is painfully aware of how close they are, acutely alert to every touch of the Doctor's chest and belly to his back. “Not only that.”
Jack tries to turn, tries to take the Doctor into his arms and kiss him again; but the Doctor puts his hands firmly to Jack's hips, holds him still, and though he keeps his hands there his body moves backwards and away, leaving Jack's back aching and untouched.
“Just answer my question, Jack.”
“Of course she'll forgive you,” Jack says quietly, looking out into the great undisturbed expanse of the forest. “You know how she feels.”
Other words hang unspoken in the air.
There is a long pause. Jack looks straight ahead, but all of his attention is focused behind him, to what he cannot see but can only feel: the Doctor's breath on his bare neck. The lightness of the Doctor's hands on his hips. It is only after what seems like an age that once more the Doctor presses to his back, gentle and careful, and Jack cannot stop his breath hitching as the Doctor slides his arms about Jack's body, holding him. Inside the encircling protection of the Doctor's arms it is warm and still, with only the double beat of the Doctor's heart on Jack's shoulder to disturb the serenity of it.
This time, when Jack tries, the Doctor allows him to turn around.
The kiss is soft and questioning: Jack rests his hands on the Doctor's upper arms, careful not to press too much weight on him as if worried the Doctor—or this fragile moment—will break. Against his mouth the Doctor's lips are warm and closed; so close he smells faintly of something at once strange and homely, alien and welcoming. Beneath Jack's fingertips the fabric of his t-shirt is smooth, and the muscles about his collarbone and neck shift as he tilts his head ever so slightly. It doesn't last, though: as Jack presses close, allows his body to move where it wants against the Doctor, the other man pulls back, opens his eyes. His pupils are wide; his expression kind, ever so slightly frowning.
Jack stays close—will stay close until the Doctor pushes him away—and carefully lets his right hand slide down to the Doctor's lower back, resting in the slight concavity there. Under his fingertips he can feel the press of the Doctor's hips against his skin. “Yeah?”
For a moment the Doctor's frown deepens, but after a second it is overtaken by a smile that seems a little forced, ever so slightly brittle. The Doctor's arms around Jack are no longer entirely relaxed, but instead seem tensed, his fingertips pressing a little too hard into Jack's hips; though he stays standing just as close Jack can feel, somehow, his centre of mass moving as he leans the volume of his body barely perceptibly back.
“Time Lords don't have sex.”
“Then where'd you come from? An intensely bureaucratic mail-order procedure?” Frustration rising, Jack finds it hard, right then, to keep his voice civil: his own smile tastes slightly bitter.
The Doctor laughs, and it is not convincing. “Fine. I don't have sex.”
Trying, and failing, to sound nonchalant, Jack leans back a little to look the Doctor full in the eye. “Rose told me you'd done some dancing.”
Something in the Doctor's face closes like a door slamming, so sudden that Jack recoils slightly backwards. The Doctor's look is suddenly entirely unreadable, alien, and he pulls away from Jack, turning his back to him as he goes over to the control panel, flicking some switches with considerably more force than necessary.
“When did it become your business?”
Jack stands alone by the open doorway, suddenly cold in the wind from the empty forest.
“Hi, Jack. Long time no—hear. How's saving the Earth going? Holding up? Not going to need me to come and fix it all up for you, are you? 'Cause I'm not the world's best babysitter.”
Jack's eyes widen and he leans back in is chair, his grip on the phone tightening slightly until his knuckles are white. “Doctor? Is that you?”
“Of course it's me. Who else? One-hundred-percent bona fide Time Lord here, with a TARDIS and all. Forgotten me so soon?”
“No,” Jack says far too quickly to be nonchalant. “I'm used to having phone calls from the Prime Minister at work, not from time-traveling aliens.”
Over the phone line the Doctor's laugh is just as Jack remembered this incarnation's to be: full and genuine, with an infectious edge that makes Jack's lips twitch. “Well, I promise I'll try to be more interesting than the competition. Shouldn't be all that hard. Listen, are you free?”
Jack swivels his chair to look out of the glass windows into the Hub. Only two of them are visible from here: Gwen, sitting on the couch and reading a pack of papers, and Owen, wasting time with a ball at the basketball net. Tosh, he remembers, is at home with a cold; Ianto will be in the tourist office upstairs, from where he forwarded the call.
“Yeah, I'm free.”
“Great, because I'm in a phone box up at ground level and I'm freezing my lovely face off. I'll come wait for you round that tourist office of yours. Did I tell you how ridiculous that is as a cover? Hurry, or I'll have to spank you.”
Jack doesn't have time to ask if that's a promise before the Doctor hangs up. For a second he is still, trying to process it—the Doctor back, months after they parted in the Plass; the Doctor, back and wanting to see him—but all of a sudden he stands, grinning, and reaches for his coat. There's no time to waste. Gwen and Owen don't pay him any attention as he hurries past them and up the lift to the front office where Ianto sits behind the desk, tapping away at something on the computer. He looks up as Jack enters, a slight frown forming as he sees Jack's coat.
“Going out, sir?”
“Yep. Important call. Shouldn't be too long. Give me a call if you need me.”
Ianto looks faintly suspicious, which is probably fair given Jack's record of going suddenly MIA for long periods, but Jack doesn't have time to worry about it. Resting his hands on the desk he leans forward and presses a quick, firm kiss to Ianto's lips. “I'll explain later, I promise. Look after the kids for me.” And then, with a wink, he's gone—out into the cold street, pulling his jacket about him and instinctively ducking his head down from the freezing pinches of the wind and the harsh calling of the gulls which circle above him.
The Doctor is standing on the street corner, just out of sight of the office, unmistakable and alone. Jack can't help but think that he must be freezing: his long brown coat is open and fidgeting in the wind, the thin fabric of his pinstripe trousers pressed close to his legs. Early December and the Doctor is wearing sneakers.
“Jack,” the Doctor says with a wide smile, opening his arms to pull the other man close for a tight hug. “Someone's still got that fountain of youth thing going on, eh?”
Unable to restrain a laugh Jack holds on a little closer, a little tighter than he needs to; when he lets go it's reluctant and slow, his hand trailing briefly down the Doctor's arm, shoulder to hand. The skin of his fingers is freezing. “It's only been a few months.”
“Really? Wow. It must be all those hallucinogenic weapons they used on me on Basadan Narma, I've totally lost track of time. It's been—well, gosh. Years. Maybe. Or.” The Doctor bites his lip, raising a hand to run his fingers through his hair, leaving it standing straight up. “Maybe it's my age,” he says finally with a small, teasing grin. “I mean, several centuries starts to wear on a man after a while. Even if I'm still dashingly handsome, if I do say so myself. Which I do, to be honest. Not that other people don't say it too—”
Jack holds up his hands in a mock gesture of defeat, hoping that if he stays this far back he'll be able to restrain himself from throwing himself on the Doctor entirely. “Whoa, there, let's quit while we can still get your head through the door. You're not all that amazing.”
“Oh yeah?” the Doctor replies with a playful flick of his tongue, one eyebrow arched flirtatiously. “Sure you're not just jealous?”
Shaking his head, Jack leaves the silence as it is for a moment before looking back to the Doctor again, tilting his head. “Martha not here? I would've thought you would want to visit both of us.”
For a moment the Doctor's expression darkens before he reassembles his smile, shakes his head quickly. “Nope, I just felt like some man-to-man time. Anyway, she wouldn't be interested in this trip.”
“We're going,” the Doctor says with the pride and wonder of a little boy announcing the success of his football team, “drinking.”
The Doctor looks out of place in a pub, like a character from a children's TV show suddenly appearing in a post-watershed setting. There's nothing obviously wrong with him—he looks of age, solvent and, most importantly, human—but there is some subtle otherness to him which has heads turning. Or perhaps, Jack thinks, that's how good looking he is: Jack isn't used to going out with other people as attractive as he is. Serious competition is not something of which he makes a habit. He leaves the Doctor at a corner table, reading the pithy slogans on beermats, as he goes up to the bar and orders for them. While the woman behind the bar draws the pints she looks pointedly over Jack's shoulder to the corner, where the Doctor has decided to get out his 3-D glasses and peer curiously at the clientèle.
“He with you?”
Jack clears his throat awkwardly, looking back and making small 'stop!' hand gestures to the Doctor, who doesn't seem to notice. “Yeah.”
The woman frowns a little. “Haven't seen him before.”
“He's not from round here,” Jack says quickly. “Comes from out of town.” Wincing a little as the Doctor squints at a sign through the red-and-blue lenses he adds, “very far out of town.”
The Doctor smiles as Jack brings back the pints, finally taking off the glasses with a grin. “Thanks. This what's good to drink here-and-now, then? I never could remember the good drinks from everywhere, everytime.”
“It's passable,” Jack says with a shrug, before leaning closer to add, “look, maybe keep the glasses off?”
The Doctor laughs and says, quickly, “but they add to the geek chic charm, don't you think?” But he puts the glasses back in his pocket, just like Jack asked, before reaching for his beer and holding it up towards Jack with a grin. “To reunions.”
Jack clinks his glass slowly against the Doctor's. “Cheers.”
Drunk, the Doctor seems more vulnerable, younger: he leans heavily against Jack on the walk back to the TARDIS, steps in the puddles that Jack tries to coax him into avoiding, water soaking through his thin shoes and seeping up the legs of his trousers. The alcohol has flushed his cheeks and he has spent all night running his fingers through his hair, leaving it standing up every which way, creating a fractured halo about his head in the light of the street lamps they pass.
“I'm sorry about this,” the Doctor murmurs against Jack's neck, breath hot and sticky on the other man's skin. “It's only—wow—I had no idea it was so strong.”
Jack shows his teeth in a half-smile, focusing on staying upright, on not allowing his hand to slide under the Doctor's shirt, to press against his skin. “No problem. After all that time teetotal waiting for you I'm just—used to staying sober. Means I can take care of you.”
The Doctor nods a little, the grip of his hand increasing on Jack's shoulder as he starts, slightly, when a police car goes down the next street, siren wailing. “Ugh. My head is going to kill me tomorrow. Who'd hold me up as a role model now?”
Laughing softly at that, Jack squeezes him briefly close. “Who held you up as a role model before? I'm not a father, but I wouldn't be that keen on giving my kids such a trouble-magnet as an example.”
It is unclear whether the Doctor hears or not: he is quiet, and there is only the sound of their feet tramping through the puddles in the quiet night, the faint thrum of early-morning traffic in the background. Jack holds the Doctor close as they walk, supporting him easily, half amazed that the Doctor, pressed so near to him, cannot hear the quick beats of his heart.
“Why did you want to see me tonight?” he says, finally, working up the courage to ask the question that he thinks he probably doesn't want to know the answer to, the question that has been heavy on the back of his tongue all night.
The Doctor tilts his head to look at Jack, and stops walking as he blinks once, twice, again. “Because I missed you. Is that against the rules? Did I miss a memo?”
Swallowing, Jack pauses, his arm around the Doctor suddenly too intimate, too close. Through the thin fabric of the Doctor's shirt he can feel the heat of his body, now and again his fingers brushing smooth skin. He realizes how close the Doctor is—the glare from the street light catching the peaks and dips of his face, casting one of his eyes entirely into shadow, leaving a slither of darkness under his slightly parted lips. His breath smells strongly of beer, and Jack finds himself opening his mouth slightly, leaning close to breathe in more—
It is the first time that he has felt the Doctor's tongue, sliding over his own, hot and wet on his lips. In a sudden burning moment the Doctor is pressing himself close and willing—more than willing, demanding—into Jack's arms, pulling him tight so that their bodies are forced together, Jack's erection pressing hard against the Doctor's hip. The consummation of so many years of waiting and watching and wanting is suddenly compressed into this: a burning in his skin and the firm mass of the Doctor's body close to his and the little shudder down the Doctor's spine under Jack's fingertips.
When the Doctor suddenly pulls back, it is as if they have been physically torn apart, a pain erupting in Jack's chest as if he's bleeding. The Doctor half-stumbles as he steps backward, but he shrugs off the hand that Jack offers to help; instead, wide-eyed and wary, he slowly edges away, holding up his hands almost defensively.
“Jack—don't.” When Jack opens his mouth to speak the Doctor says, quick and loud: “no, don't.” He cracks a terrible smile. “I'm drunk as a fish in a sea. A sea of beer. I can't—wow, you'd've thought I'd've learnt by now, wouldn't you? Hundreds of years and I still don't know my limits.” His laughter grates painfully, seeming to tear itself out of him. “I'm sorry.”
Jack pauses, fisting his hands slowly before letting them relax again, his nails leaving half-moon marks in his palms. “...Are you okay?”
The Doctor nods quickly, passing a hand over his forehead. “Yep. Right as rain. Just give me a moment and I'll be with you.”
Doing as he's told, Jack stands there and watches: watches as the Doctor composes himself, closing his eyes and pressing his temples, and Jack himself takes deep slow breaths, tries to fight down surges of arousal and anger. He doesn't like himself like this: weak enough to keep trying for something he will never have, pathetic enough to keep throwing himself against this wall over and over again. It's not like he doesn't have people who do value him, who do want him there; not like Ianto isn't waiting for him, probably worried. Not like Jack needs the Doctor anymore, now he knows that there's no cure for his sickness.
The Doctor's breathing eventually slows and he straightens once more, giving Jack the horrible blank smile. “Right. Where's the TARDIS again?”
Jack ignores the question, replies with his own: “what was that about?”
“That?” the Doctor says, looking hopefully blank. “Jack, I've drank more than a Mimehoosan high priest on the last day of the Alcohol Festival. I'm off my face. I'm not sure I have a face, I'm that off it. Perhaps I never had a face. I'm fairly sure I've wrecked it now. I'm wrecked now.”
Sliding his hands into his pockets, Jack clenches his fists again and takes a deep, slow breath of the freezing winter air. Little needles of cold stab into his throat and chest. He doesn't let himself look away, not this time. “This has happened before and you weren't drunk then.”
The Doctor shakes his head impatiently. “Just forget about it. Let's go. Places to go, people to see. I'm meant to be on Naylan Five by the morning, have you heard of it? Amazing place. Lovely people. Really fantastic food, actually, they have this thing made with—”
“Did you ever sleep with Rose?” Jack says suddenly, not even aware that that's what he was going to ask before he says it, before he finds the words tumbling out of his mouth.
The Doctor shuts up, and even on the edge of the street light's illumination Jack can see him tense, can see every muscle coil and bunch, ready for a spring. The Doctor's voice is icy cold and brittle: it cracks. “What?”
For Jack it is, all of an instant, easier to drown than keep treading water alone: easier to give in to the rage and the jealousy and the spite and the hurt, easier to square off against the Doctor, hands emerging from his pockets in tight fists, easier to feel the red tide of anger swelling up in him. “Did you fuck her?”
The Doctor's punch is a relief, more than anything: the crunch of his fist into Jack's face a welcomed, blissful release of all this tension. Jack knows exactly where he is with this, with hurt; he knows exactly where he stands as the bone crunches, as he narrowly manages to avoid losing his footing, as he reaches up to his face and draws his hands back to see blood over his fingers. His anger ebbs away to a dull, slow throb. This is simple, and this is good. After so many not-quite-happeneds with the Doctor, it is such a relief to have something concrete to deal with, some visible, physical pain.
“I'd never sleep with you,” the Doctor hisses, voice suddenly low, all pretense at smiles or jokes gone. “Do you know why, Jack? Because you're human. Because you're only human. How could a Time Lord ever want to do anything with someone like you? You're little children. Young and stupid and weak. You need to be saved from yourselves. I don't think I have the energy to care any more.”
“It's about Rose, isn't it?” Jack says sharply, his throat sore and aching as if there's a cold stone lodged in his gullet, slowly choking him to death. “It's because I remind you of her. It's because I remind you of her and you can't take it, can you? It's why you didn't want Martha, and it's why you don't want me. Because we're too like her.”
“You are nothing like her!” the Doctor shouts back, quivering, hands clenched at his sides. “You could never be like her!”
When the Doctor goes he walks in the wrong direction and Jack, left shivering and bleeding alone, does not correct him.
Comments & constructive criticism hugely appreciated!