eleventymod: eleven, clara, river, amy and rory, text reads 'eleventy fest' (Default)
eleventymod ([personal profile] eleventymod) wrote in [community profile] eleventyfest2013-09-14 11:13 am

Fic: Things That Can't Be Said, for fate_incomplete

Title: Things That Can't Be Said
By: a_phoenixdragon
Recipient: fate_incomplete
Rating: PG-13
Character(s)/Ship(s): Eleventh Doctor, Jack Harkness, Eleven/Jack
Summary: The quiet lingered for a moment more before the Doctor replied, more like he was speaking to himself than Jack – but the Captain was getting used to that, too. It was the Doctor falling apart without anyone but Jack to see. It was him wandering the hallways of the TARDIS, barely aware of where he was, much less who he was supposed to be. It was heartbreak, but he was still there to break Jack’s heart.
Content Notes: Angst, Dark!Fic, Spoilery mention of TATM, Canon Character Deaths mentioned
Wordcount: 7587
A/N: Written for eleventyfest. Based on this prompt 'Everyone else sees the smiles, he sees the broken pieces hidden in the dark.' Can be considered an AU after TATM.

Finding him wandering the halls in confusion was bad.

Having him shake in silent, tearless grief within one’s arms was almost worse.

It wasn’t the fact that he was grieving for people that were long gone, or even that he was so lost within the corridors of his beloved ship and home that made it so terrible. It was the fact that when he did these things, there was no way to reach him – no way to comfort him, because in so very many ways, he wasn’t there to
receive that comfort.

After all, there was no turning back time. That in itself, was the main problem.
Time. And how it breaks all things: even a Time Lord with all the time in the universe at his fingertips. But not the past. Never the past.

If he could give him anything, it would be yesterday – just to see that joyous smile upon his lips. To see him fully engaged and aware and active like he couldn’t be when no one was looking.

Jack was starting to think he
was no one.

He was quite sure even his beloved River had never seen this side of him.

And for that, he envied her more than he ever had before.

The third sun broke the horizon and Jack smiled tiredly at the Eribinee child he held tightly in his arms; exhausted, relieved and taking pleasure in such a simple thing as a small child being saved in the middle of chaos. It had been more than their usual brand of chaos, but it all happened too fast to comprehend at the time; it was the aftermath (as always) that told the tale – and for once he and the Doctor had stayed behind to oversee some of the beginning clean-up.

Finding little miss wandering by herself in a half-collapsed manse was sheer chance. Or fate. Whose fate was still the burning question of the day – as was the child’s identity. Knowing their luck, she was Someone Important – that’s usually how it rolled with the Doctor. Either he had a sixth sense about these things or just the sheer devilry to stumble across them.

Of course, in the Doctor’s own words ‘Everyone is Important’. Which was true (in many respects), but also quite beside the point.

So here he was, cradling a small alien child of unknown origin outside a crumbling house in the government district, waiting for the Doctor to return and tell him what to do with the little creature. She didn’t seem the slightest bit interested in anything but clinging like a limpet and burbling happy nonsense at him – which was just as well. He’d rather be doing this than hauling great slabs of concrete out of the roads any day.

The TARDIS had arrived just minutes before the last Great Wall of Storms. Between the two of them (with a little help from a small rebellion at the Capitol), he and the Doctor managed to save the city, stop a (conveniently timed) assassination attempt and set events in motion that would play out for the next thousand years. This was to be the great city of Dirillium – the shining apex of the Crystal Age of Andromeda Ten. The famous Singing Towers would be built in honor of the new age of enlightenment and the Emperor of the Four Suns would live to a ripe old age of three hundred – bringing science, religion and industry together; the dawning of a new era.

“The Panoptican of the Papal Mainframe,” the Doctor murmured out of nowhere. “Wondered where it had come from. I know where it ended up, but I never had any idea where it had started. Funny how so many endings have such simple beginnings – and in such obvious places.”

Jack shifted the child to his left arm, heart still thudding slightly, though he was quite sure other than the spike in his heart rate, no one would have any idea that the Doctor had scared half of his lives off of him. Man still had a nasty habit of sneaking up on him – and here Jack thought he was too damned old to be snuck up on anymore.

And way past being surprised by anyone, much less the Time Lord grinning at him from his right shoulder. Which only proved that the asshole knew and thought it was funny. Some things never change. And being startled by an errant child who was several lifetimes too old for Legos (but still had them anyway) was definitely one of those things.

Jack remembered anew what it was like to be amused, fond and irritated all at once.

“The Panoptican of the Papal –”

“Mainframe,” the Doctor nodded, chucking the child under her chin and laughing when she wrapped seven fingers around the offending digit, bringing it to her mouth so she could chew with enthusiasm. “Still teething then, are we? Well, let’s see if we have something in my pockets for that – I taste terrible, I’m sure.”

Jack didn’t think so – but he also didn’t think this was the time or place to disagree.

He waited to see if any other answers were forthcoming, but the Doctor seemed thoroughly entranced by the child in Jack’s arms, so if there was an explanation, it obviously wasn’t going to be further elaborated on at this point. If ever.

Yup, some things never changed.

Unlike the toddler on his left hip who definitely needed something changed – and quickly, if the damp patch was anything to go on.

Said toddler didn’t seem the slightest bit put out when Jack handed her over to the Time Lord, who had (of all things) a nappie in his pockets – chewing happily on her magically produced zwieback biscuit (reducing it to mush in seconds), as he efficiently and quickly fixed the problem – not even the remotest flicker of thought to it as he cooed and babbled back at her in (presumably) her own language. Jack knew he’d had children…and grandchildren…and great grandchildren, but it was moments like this that brought it all crashing home. Not that it should have been that big of a shock – he had his own children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Happens when you have a few centuries under your belt.

Which made him wonder why the Doctor had a family before the Great War – but not one after. War usually makes one want to connect. In many ways the Doctor had reacted just the opposite (and Companions didn’t really count in this sense by Jack’s reckoning).

He was poised to do the ultimate no-no – ask if the Time Lord had ever thought about it: starting another family, doing it all over again, but something in the Doctor’s gaze stopped him. It was just a flick of his eyes, a small glance that froze the words in his throat before they could even start forming. It was a look of such age and loss…

Jack would be there at the end and the beginning of the universe. He knew this for a fact. Had come to grips with it merely decades ago. But he knew he would never look like that. Not in a million lifetimes. He didn’t know whether to be disturbed or comforted by that fact.

If he still harbored the (insane, unwise) urge to ask though, it was completely decimated just a split second later –

When the Doctor smiled.

It could light up a thousand galaxies that smile. It could fuel the universe forever. Jack lived to see that exact smile on the man’s face. He soaked it in every time it happened – and he was lucky (oh so lucky) that it reached the Doctor’s eyes, filling in the corners of his mouth – practically glowing from beneath his skin.

The toddler burbled happily at the Time Lord and dropped the zwieback in favor of the Doctor’s fingers again, her own smile more than a match for the one on the Doctor’s face and the one currently starting on Jack’s own, (albeit it was involuntary and not completely under his control). It was one of those things that made him such magic. No surprise children glommed onto it first. He really was nothing but a big kid himself half the time. Even if that was a lie they all told themselves, it didn’t make it any less true.

And he couldn’t sound more like the Doctor in his own mind if he actively tried.

“No, I’m telling you, I taste terrible. The biscuit is so much better – what do you mean it tastes like socks? It does not!” The Time Lord protested, only for the wee one to jam the half-masticated zwieback biscuit between his lips. Even if it was to share or prove a point, the Doctor conceded her win.

“I see…that is quite awful,” the Doctor agreed humbly, submitting to her happy gnawing with an absent sigh. “Not quite as awful as socks though. More on the level of carrots minus the evil intent.”

Jack broke into a quiet chuckle, even as he swiped absently at the damp patch the baby had left on his hip, the cloth there rather cold now – and him without a fresh shirt. Par for the course it seemed. Even as nothing was quite par for the course with the Time Lord around.

“Don’t see what you’re laughing at,” the Doctor grumbled with cheery irritableness. “Let’s see you argue with the future Empress of Seventeen Galaxies and win.”

“She already had an argument with my shirt and my shirt lost,” Jack grinned, not the slightest bit surprised that the toddler was indeed (as far as this planet was concerned), Someone Important after all. “So of course, I turned her over to you…but it seems even you can’t handle her.”

“Such is the way of the universe,” the Doctor nodded solemnly, that wonderful smile never wavering once. “Small packages and all that. Now – let’s see if we can cram one more adventure in and find her governess, shall we?”

He was quiet again.

Normally, Jack would blow it off, call it nothing – but it was rare for the Doctor to come to his bed. It was even more rare for him to not initiate contact once he had done so. Before the Ponds had…left, he was playful to the point of annoyance, willing to coax or tease until Jack gave in.

Not that Jack had to be pressured in any way, but the game was what it seemed to be all about and he was more than willing to play.

Now it was more of a need to be held, maybe keep his demons at bay. He was the One Who Couldn’t Die and while it was a loathsome idea to a Time Lord, this incarnation seemed to draw comfort from that fact. More often they would lie side by side, the Doctor’s fingers tangled in his own, their breathing filling up the small spaces. Sometimes he could be lured into something more: small kisses to the nape of his neck, fingers trailing the grooves of his spine, hips aligned, one hand on the Time Lord’s chest to ground him – or just show that someone was there. It didn’t always happen, but there were times when the Doctor would turn to him and fall into the absence of memory.

At those times, Jack didn’t know whether to be angry or grateful – or if he should even feel anything at all. The moments of peace, of happiness were there (they always would be), but moments like this one were still frequent enough to make him wish he had never stepped foot back on the TARDIS.

But if he hadn’t…

What would the Doctor have done?

He tried to not think on that. Partly because he didn’t know. But mostly because he

“What are you thinking?” Jack had asked – mostly because the silence was starting to be oppressive more than peaceful and warm.

The quiet lingered for a moment more before the Doctor replied, more like he was speaking to himself than Jack – but the Captain was getting used to that, too. It was the Doctor falling apart without anyone but Jack to see. It was him wandering the hallways of the TARDIS, barely aware of where he was, much less who he was supposed to be. It was heartbreak, but he was still there to break Jack’s heart.

That in itself was more comforting than it should be.

“Nothing really of consequence,” the Time Lord murmured, one finger tracing the bones of Jack’s hand in idle fascination. “Books, libraries…how it all ties together, even if it doesn’t make sense.”

Cryptic then. Okay, Jack could do cryptic.

“Love a good library myself,” Jack replied in a sleepy fashion. “TARDIS has got the most impressive one though.”

“Does She?” The Doctor mused. “I hadn’t noticed in a while. Bout had my fill of libraries, really.”

“Then why are you thinking about them?” Jack retorted, slightly exasperated and hovering back on the edge of wakefulness.

“Because there is little else to think about tonight,” the Doctor muttered. “And too much else to think about besides. Because it is better than thinking about how enemies were fostered and raised by the arms of people I once thought of as friends. How the beginning was an ending – even before that ending was truly in motion. About promises that should never have been made.”

Double-cryptic. And Jack was too tired to dance this dance of talking without really talking; so he kept silent.

The Doctor shifted to a sitting position just as Jack was starting to nod off – the only reason the Captain even noticed was because of the sudden absence of weight beside him – but it was enough to drag him (momentarily) back to awareness. He blinked up at the rigid line of the Doctor’s back, the Time Lord pulling on Jack’s silk robe over his naked form, sash being tied in short, sharp jerks of movement – as always, ever unaware of Jack unless the Captain was deliberately drawing his attention.

“Where are you going?” Jack asked – thought he asked, anyway. He was so sleep logged he could have dreamed it, his tiredness trying to drag him back under, even as he struggled to come awake. The Doctor was within arm’s reach, but he could have been on another planet as distant and distracted as he obviously was. “Hey – ”

The Doctor stood, no sign given that he had heard Jack – though he glanced at the Captain as he lay tangled in the bedclothes, his mouth twisted in a fond, sad smile. That smile meant he was breaking. And once more, Jack wondered if he was the only one to see this – the pieces that didn’t quite fit, the bits that couldn’t be repaired.

And he wondered if he only saw these things because he didn’t matter. He wasn’t Rose. He wasn’t Martha or Amy or Rory or Donna or – hell – River. The one who had seen and heard about damned near everything – except for (maybe) this. These snatches of time and breath that ached with loss and pain that could never be healed. She likely wouldn’t have allowed him to do this, to fall like this.

But Jack wasn’t River. And in many ways (the Captain suspected), not only did he not matter, he wasn’t really
there for the Doctor. Not like the others. Not like Real People.

So that made him safe. Just a non-entity in the TARDIS. Another stick of furniture that just happened to move and eat and sleep and breathe –

“There was a generation of mine, an incarnation if you will – that started much like I did,” the Doctor said quietly. “I – he – was born out of a darker self, but he started with such hope, so many possibilities. Even as he struggled to maintain that hope, that newness and freshness of life…he was blessed with gaps in his memory. He even lost himself for over a century – unsure of who or what he was. In the end, he was luckier than I – in so many ways. Even though he was the one who was Called Home. He saw the start of the Time War. So many parallels, so many…even as there is no comparison at all. He saw the beginning of the end. I have seen the end – and the beginning of that end all at the same time. He lost much more than even I can quite grasp generations later. There can be that blur, you know – that fading of feeling. It comes with regeneration. A curse and a blessing.”

The Doctor paused, shaking his head as he wrenched open Jack’s door with more force than was strictly necessary. Angry at himself? Or angry that he had given so much away?

“He was a better man,” the Time Lord concluded – then disappeared through the doorway, leaving behind a sense of insurmountable loss, an ache that throbbed through the air and settled like ash under Jack’s skin.

The Captain shivered with a sensation not quite akin to cold, huddled under the warmth of the covers – his mind turning over the last sentence, trying to make sense out of a concept that seemed so simple on the surface, though it also was anything but simple underneath. Eventually he drifted, losing reality inch by inch as he slipped into sleep, the Doctor’s last words following him down into the dark. For once, he didn’t dream – not like he normally did. But he slept the sleep of the nightmare ridden, the grayness of his waking clinging to him for most of the next day.

And all that day, he didn’t once see the Doctor.

The relief almost felt like a betrayal.

“Fitz,” the Doctor said with a smile, giving Jack a hand through the dense brush they were trying (and sometimes failing) to wade through. “His name was Fitz. Hadn’t thought about him for a long time…probably best. I’ve spent too much time in the past here of late.”

“Fitz,” Jack echoed, knowing he was gripping the Doctor’s fingers too tight, but unable to help himself. He was right here – and the Doctor was thinking of someone (likely) long gone. It was fantastic that he was relaxed enough to share his friends, his old Loves with Jack – but at the same time it was a swift reminder that Jack was…less…than even your average Companion. Otherwise, why would the Time Lord even say anything at all? “And why were you thinking of him?”

He knew it sounded petulant. He knew he was being rude and pushing for too much – and he couldn’t quite keep the hurt out of his voice, even as he tried to mask his words with indifference, with detached curiosity. Not that it mattered, the Doctor didn’t seem to notice any of it. Why would he?

“You remind me a bit of him,” the Time Lord mused, flipping his hair out of his eyes as he yanked another bit of stubborn, clinging vine out of their path. “He was…he was Fitz. He was a Companion, but he was so much more in so many ways.”

The Doctor stopped to laser an unreadable look at him over his shoulder and Jack reddened slightly, realizing the pain in his voice had not been missed at all. Sometimes being noticed was worse than being ignored. And the Doctor always noticed at the worst times.

“You don’t have his pragmatic practicality (bless) – but he was full of tales and adventures of his own. He was quite the Renaissance man, in his own way,” the Doctor continued. “And in so many ways, the ones that truly mattered – he didn’t need me. Never had. But I…oh look, we’re almost there. Just another mile and we should find what we’re looking for.”

Jack kept his eyes on the back of the tweed jacket for the next mile, thoughts spinning frantically in his head as he stumbled and struggled through the thick brush surrounding them. He didn’t realize until they were mere feet away from the edge of the wood that the Doctor hadn’t let go of his hand once, though he must have been more of a hindrance than a help to the Time Lord.

The grip of those cool fingers kept him anchored, kept him focused, even as he reeled with the idea of not needing the Doctor. As his mind churned with the new concept of the Doctor needing him. Though really, that was likely a bone thrown at him to keep him from snapping under the weight of being himself – an abomination in the face of Time…and a friend that was not quite a friend, even as he was one step away from an enemy.

They arrived at the edge of the village and were greeted with happy enthusiasm – then a sense of rushed urgency as the Doctor pulled the lost idol out of one of his many pockets. It wasn’t really an idol (according to the Doctor), but an oscillating frequency generator that kept the shield overhead running – and kept the villagers hidden from more advanced races that might have the intention of harming them and stealing their resources. Not that they knew that. They just knew it was a representation of an Old God – and that the idol itself kept them safe from the Others (denizens of the Netherworld).

Jack hung back as the Doctor laughed and chatted with the village elder, his smile, his pleased chuckles tinged with light and childish joy – as if this was the first time he had done something like this. As if this was out of the ordinary, saving those who were unable to save themselves.

With a pang, Jack concluded (all over again), that this was why he was in love with him. Well, one of the many reasons. And he loved him still, even though he shouldn’t. He should have run the other way, the first chance he got – but he was always chasing him, even as he couldn’t catch him. He wasn’t the first to do that and very likely he wouldn’t be the last. A thought that hurt, even as it brought relief.

He wondered if Fitz ever felt like this.

Then he wondered why he wouldn’t.

The Doctor tugged on his bowtie in a gesture of pleasure at something the village elder had said and beamed in Jack’s direction, one eyebrow quirked as if to ask why Jack was at the edge of the crowd. The Captain shrugged in response and ambled back to the Time Lord’s side, that wide smile reaching his eyes and lighting the Doctor up, making him shine brighter than ever: that smile just for him (even as he entertained the idea that it might be for someone else altogether) – an easy smile of companionship and grace. Jack hoped he would keep that smile for a little while longer; that maybe tonight the Doctor would sleep beside him in comfort and peace, fingers tangled together as they held each other up against the dark.

The Doctor’s hand fell on his shoulder, touch light but reassuring as he chattered in the villager’s language – other hand coming up to punctuate what he was saying as he gestured toward Jack, obviously giving him some type of credit in how they had made it safely back with the coveted piece of technology. Jack leaned into the grip, grateful for the cool weight of the Doctor’s hand, the soothing tilt of his voice – wondering how long it would be this time before he found himself outside of the TARDIS again, running away and not too the man beside him.

The Doctor’s eyes met his mere seconds after he thought it and for a moment (just a small one), the smile wavered. A melancholy – deep and sharp with knowing – passed through the light of those eyes, reflecting back shadows that held their own weight, distorting the twist of the Time Lord’s lips (more of a grimace than a smile) and –

And then it was gone, the Doctor’s happy chatter filling up the sudden deep void that Jack was falling through – the light around them too bright, even as the sounds that slapped against him seemed hollow and far away. One squeeze from the Doctor’s fingers pulled him back to himself – reality fuzzing for a moment before collapsing back into the ready spaces around him, filling the void he had been twisting within/against.

Jack was left breathless and unsteady, the sudden deluge of conflicting emotions (too much, too intermixed to be identifiable), leaving him gasping inside the delicate walls of his mind. He found himself wishing for that safety of being at the edge of the crowd – even as he focused on the touch of the Doctor’s hand on his shoulder. Those long cool fingers gave his shoulder another squeeze in silent understanding, before falling away, the emptiness left in their wake another feeling that overwhelmed.

Jack packed it away tightly, shoving it into a mental box to be dealt with later – when the quiet in the TARDIS was long and the night was too full of things that couldn’t be said. Things that shouldn’t even be thought, if he was honest with himself.

Still he was left wonder what that must be like – to be needed (to be noticed) by the Doctor. To be so depended upon by the Time Lord, remembered with such fondness and hope…and for that feeling to not be returned.

And for a small fraction of time (just a flash, really), he was almost jealous of this Fitz. Even as he felt sorry for him in a way he couldn’t quite express.

It was as if he couldn’t figure out which of them was luckier: the man who needed the Doctor too much and could never tell him. Or the man who didn’t need the Doctor at all and likely made sure the Time Lord knew it.

But then the Doctor smiled at him once more (those green eyes filled with such life and joy and silent mischief), and Jack wondered how he could ever question who was the luckier man.

“I can’t find her,” was the quiet murmur in Jack’s doorway. “Please…I can’t find her.”

“Doctor?” Jack rousted with a start, almost falling out of bed in his haste to sit up, heart thudding out of rhythm as his mind tried to acclimate between sleep and sudden wakefulness. Even after all these centuries, he still hadn’t gotten the hang of it – that ability to go from a deep sleep to being wide awake within a manner of seconds.

A trait he needed to work harder on, it seemed.

If he hung out with the Doctor much longer, he just might get it nailed. That was if he didn’t get the boot sooner rather than later. Always a possibility (as paranoid as that sounded), even with this incarnation of the man.

Jack turned his gaze toward the doorway, blinking the last vestiges of sleep away as he tried to get a gauge on the Time Lord, the light from the corridors not doing much towards assisting his visual assessment. The room was too dark to see the Doctor’s expression, though his stance suggested bewilderment and lack of awareness – almost as if he had gone walkabout while dreaming, only to wind up near Jack’s room. Stranger things had happened, Jack was sure – and it wasn’t as if this was the first time he had caught the Doctor in a vulnerable state.

Images of the Time Lord wandering confused and rumpled through the hallways of the Ship flicked through his mind and Jack could feel his heart sinking as he struggled to free himself of the bedclothes. The last time this had happened the Doctor has disappeared for days on end before turning up near the console room, unsure of where and when he was; asking if Nyssa was awake yet (forcing Jack to look her up), as he was quite sure the quantum experiment she was working on had gone out of phase again. Jack had bundled him into his own bed, shushing him with soothing nonsense and promising to help the Doctor find her in the morning, even as the man fussed about vector locking and how random quantum expulsions could knock the TARDIS out of the Vortex.

This time he hadn’t disappeared a few days beforehand. Jack had gone to bed with a bellyful of the Doctor’s excellent tea (as well as a few rounds of Jammy Dodgers), content with the world and his place within it, the Doctor’s cheery ‘Goodnight, Captain.’ still bouncing around in his skull long after he had succumbed to sleep.

Dread clawed at his gut as he made his way to his feet, approaching the Time Lord as if he were a frightened wild animal, not an all-powerful being with the eternity of time and space at his fingertips. The Doctor never moved from his slump in the doorway, shoulders bowed with misery, head cocked to one side as he (likely) watched Jack move towards him. Whether he recognized him remained to be seen, but really, Jack wasn’t too worried about that. The Doctor hadn’t reacted (so far) in this state to Jack’s…unnaturalness – so while he stayed cautious in that regard, he somehow knew the Doctor wouldn’t attack him. He just might run though – and while he was in this fugue, anything could happen to him.

“Jack?” The Doctor queried in a small voice. “Jack are you – ”

“I’m right here, Doc,” Jack soothed, almost within hand’s reach, but unwilling to close the distance and touch the man yet, still not sure exactly where the Time Lord’s head was at.

“I can’t – I can’t find her,” the Doctor said plaintively, expressive hands too still and lost as they dangled by his sides. “I have…I have to tell her…”

“Tell her what?” Jack prompted, knowing (somehow) that he could touch him now, that he could anchor him to reality with a brush of his fingers – he was just unsure of how (or where) to start.

“I don’t,” the Doctor started to say, then shook himself with a start, backing out of Jack’s doorway as if he had just realized where he was.

“Doctor – ”

“I’m sorry,” the Doctor murmured, that terrible bewilderment leaking into his voice and spilling like acid against Jack’s skin. “She’s not…I’m sorry, Jack. I didn’t mean to wake you. You should go back to bed.”

He seemed on the verge of apologizing again and the idea of that made Jack feel like screaming. The Captain was pleased (relieved even) that the Doctor had found his way out of the nightmare he seemed to be drifting in, but he didn’t like the thought of him walking away like this.

So he did the only thing he could think of and reached for the Doctor’s hand, fingers brushing lightly along the Doctor’s arm as if to prompt him, goad him into accepting the contact for what it was. An assurance. A promise.

As long as I am here, Doctor,’ Jack thought grimly. ‘You will never be alone. And when I’m gone from here, I will always be waiting – even when you no longer need me.

“I’ll always need you,” the Doctor murmured, almost startling Jack into a reverse step, his fingers now gripping (too firmly) around the Doctor’s wrist, the skin shockingly cool, his pulse thready – even for a man with two hearts. “Jack – ”

“Shhh,” Jack soothed, steadying himself internally as he reached up with his free hand to brush the unruly mop of bangs out of the Doctor’s eyes. “Come to bed. Stay with me a while.”

He tried to swallow around the sudden lump in his throat as the Doctor quietly complied to the request, allowing Jack to lead him to his bed – laying himself delicately under the covers as if he was unsure what they were for. The Captain waited until he was still before settling in beside him, pulling him close so he could bury his face against the Time Lord’s hair, breathing in that comforting smell of sandalwood and stardust.

Time must have passed, though Jack was only dimly aware of it – everything centered on the man in his arms and keeping him safe and grounded. Sleep drifted over him once or twice, only for him to shake it off, everything telling him that being awake, being
there when then Time Lord was obviously not was vitally important. So he was aware of time and how it was passing (though his grasp of it was very dim), when the Doctor spoke up, his voice hollow and too faint against the surrounding darkness.

“I was so sure she was here,” he murmured, shifting in the grip of Jack’s arms – almost as if he was embarrassed by what he was saying.

“Sure who was here?” Jack asked, though he already knew the answer.

“River,” was the reluctant sigh. “I thought…I thought River was here.”

Jack dropped a kiss on the Doctor’s shoulder, letting himself relax against the man’s back now that he had the reason for the Time Lord’s midnight wander, the pull of sleep stronger than ever.

“We’ll go find her tomorrow,” Jack mumbled, tightening his grip around the Doctor’s chest as though he slide away if he gave him half a chance. “First thing in the morning.”

“We can’t,” was the eventual reply, the Doctor’s voice too far away to be chased as Jack shifted to the edge of sleep. “She’s already gone.”

His voice was dry, but Jack knew he was crying: whether it was because of the loss, or the sudden realization of it, Jack didn’t know. And in many ways, he didn’t
want to know. So he did the only thing he could, the only thing the Doctor would accept from him and held him tight, hoping that (somehow) he could keep the man from falling again, even as he came apart within the circle of Jack’s arms.

He wept for a long time, silent and trembling within Jack’s bed until he finally fell into an exhausted sleep – the Doctor’s body too light, too unreal against the ache of Jack’s flesh. Jack kept quiet and hung on long after the Time Lord had drifted to unconsciousness, wishing he was someone else – wishing he was anywhere but here – even as he couldn’t think of where else he could possibly go and not be haunted by this man.

This man who meant far more than he should to one Jack Harkness, even after everything that had fallen between them.

Eventually Jack slept – and as he slept he dreamed. Dreams filled with endless running after a figure that was always too far away, even as the same figure held his hand and ran beside him – green eyes blazing with secrets that his mouth would never tell.

The TARDIS sang quietly to Herself – voice warm, sweet and deep as the rotor rose and fell within its housing – a study in perpetual motion as the Ship sailed the winds of Time. Her roundels flashed and hummed to the unspoken words of Her tune – a melody that never changed (even as it did), a symphony that knew no end.

Jack knew the song, but didn’t know the steps. He left that to Her and the Doctor. The pilot and machine in absolute sync – whether it be sailing the universe or drinking tea or mourning those loved and lost.

Sometimes they were lost – the Boy and his Box. But they always had each other. They always found someone else to love (even as they would lose them) and they always left their hearts for the ones they loved to find. Even if they couldn’t love them back. Even if they couldn’t see them. They always tried. And in the end, they would wrap themselves in the comfort of each other – tomorrow at their collective fingertips – forever before their feet.

There was no other path. How could there be?

And maybe…maybe it was time to go. Before he became one more lost one on the Ship. Before he lost himself to them – maybe irretrievably. Well, more so than he was anyway.

He always belong to Them. But They belonged to no one but themselves.

And Jack… Jack was like the rise and fall of the time rotor. He was the song that never ended. He was the dream they chased, even as he ran (always) to catch up. His love for the TARDIS and the man She called home was bone deep. He could never escape it. But he knew (sometimes) they longed to escape him. To run so fast they could forget all those left behind.

An elusive dream for the man and the machine, but one they dreamed within the winds, the vortex all they ever needed to call their own. Sharing it was the icing to the cake of discovery. Soon, it would be time for them to share it with someone else.

“You have never been ‘no one’, Jack Harkness,” the Doctor murmured from behind him – his voice somehow hushed in the vaulted expanse of the console room – the sounds dampened and secret within the cheery openness of the heart of his machine. “You have never been less than what you are. And you have never been more important. How could I turn you away, Jack? How could I not tell you of my past, my hopes and dreams? You have never been what you thought you should be. You have always been a miracle within yourself. Something so shining and bright, it hurts to look at you. But to do so…”

Jack turned to look at the man he called friend, lover and enemy. The Time Lord of all the legends that were (and were yet to come). So close, yet always so far away; maybe that was because of Jack – how Jack chose to see him. Maybe it was a cloak the Doctor always wore. How could one see the shift in perception, when you lived within that shift? When perception itself was an illusion.

“Doctor…Doc,” Jack started to say – then stopped, unsure how to speak what had weighed so heavily upon him within these last few weeks. The joy and pain – and how sometimes, their differences were so slight, it was hard to tell between them. The loneliness, the secrets within secrets that dogged the Time Lord’s footsteps and how they haunted the halls with things that hadn’t happened and just might never be.

How do you tell a man you feel privileged to see every facet of his being, even as it left you isolated from the man himself? How it made you feel less, even as you never felt more important.

How it made you invisible – even as you were in plain sight.

The Doctor smiled that sweet, warm smile – the one that said he understood, even as it broke him to pieces. The one that sang of happiness and sorrow so entwined, there was no beginning of one state without the ending of another. It looked like an apology. It looked like a thank you. Gratitude, fondness, love and hope shone from the crook of the Doctor’s lips, though his eyes showed the losses of his soul. Jack felt gifted and bereft – and was left to wonder how he had seen so much and yet missed the point at the same time.

He wasn’t River. He wasn’t Rose or Nyssa or Turlough or Martha. He was just Jack – a man without an anchor who named himself after a lover that never was. A man who dreamed of being something he was not and made himself fit that pattern anyway. The man he had been before (long, long ago in the province-township of Boshane) had been remade again and again, until he could no longer remember being anything other than what he was now.

Time erased all things. It polished the strengths and softened the flaws. They were always there (those strengths and flaws), but they were made manageable – easier to see and understand.

Maybe he and the Doctor weren’t that different after all. Maybe the Time Lord really did see him (all of him) and these last few weeks were a show of acceptance and faith that no one else had a chance to see, much less understand. In many ways (Jack was starting to realize), it was a gift – all of it. The secret smiles, the hidden hurts…they were all shared and shown without shame or remorse. But not because Jack wasn’t there – that wasn’t the case at all.

“It is because you always will be,” the Doctor confirmed, eyes shining even as his mouth was serious. “Who else could I possibly confide in? Who else could know and understand?”

“Doctor,” Jack breathed, the flood of emotion threatening to rise and choke him once more: only this time, he didn’t know if he should let it go (let the Doctor in, make himself vulnerable all over again), or rein it back in. The sands were shifting, the tides were turning – and Jack Harkness, for once in his very long life – had no idea if he was meant to sink within it, or swim against it.

“I didn’t mean to hurt you,” the Time Lord rasped, taking a hesitant step closer. He looked unsure, he looked afraid. Jack would give anything for him to not look like that. “I didn’t want to…I didn’t mean to hurt you. To burden you. I know I have. I just couldn’t find any other way to tell you, to show you –”

“That you trust me,” Jack said faintly, knowing what that trust entailed – good and bad, wrong and right. To be given that trust so freely, without reservation or hesitation –

The Doctor nodded, still looking unsure and unsteady – his shoulders set as if he was bracing for Jack’s denial or misunderstanding. A creature such as the Time Lord never got second chances. He gave them freely, without remorse or recrimination – but he never expected the same. The universe didn’t work that way. Not most of the time.

But sometimes, there were second chances for the man who made them possible. Sometimes, those things could happen at the hands of a man made of second, third and fourth chances.

Sometimes anything was possible, even for those who were not possible to start with.

Jack didn’t quite know what to say – or even if anything should be said. But he did know how to forgive. He did know how to accept. And he knew how to give back (even if by giving, it was just acceptance all over again). He was given the chance to start again, to start anew. Maybe not where they had been before, but wasn’t that the point? That ground was already covered. He couldn’t give the Doctor the past. He couldn’t give him what belonged to yesterday.

But he could give him tomorrow.

“Where do we go from here?” The Doctor asked, the question open and covering so many, many things. Some things could be answered immediately – some would take time. But what else did they have?

“Where ever She wants to go,” Jack answered quietly, awed by the fact the Doctor was willing (for once) to let him lead. It didn’t feel quite right, but maybe, if they learned it together – they could run side by side, instead of chasing one another to catch up. He wasn’t sure if that was altogether the right answer, but from the widening smile on the Doctor’s lips –

Just for him, always for him – a light to shine in the darkness

it was a good way to begin.

“Anywhere and everywhere,” the Doctor mused, reaching for Jack’s hand.

Jack watched in fascinated joy (so shining and new), at the perfect fit of his hand within the Doctor’s, his answering smile just as bright, if the happiness reflected in the Time Lord’s face was anything to go by. He let their fingers tangle together (an anchor, an unspoken promise) and vowed to hold tight – the flex of the Doctor’s fingers against his own a return of that vow.

Anywhere and everywhere,’ Jack thought to himself.

A perfect metaphor for them if there ever was one.

And a fitting end – even as it was just another beginning.

Every now and again, there were bad nights. Sometimes there were terrible days. In between, there was joy, laughter and running. There was love (spoken and not) – there was warmth and comfort and the call of Home.

Sometimes the smiles were fractured secrets that held more than hope. Sometimes the pain could be gotten past, to find the beauty beneath it.

He wasn’t River Song.

He wasn’t Rose Tyler or Donna Noble or Rory Williams or Amy Pond.

He wasn’t No One (in the end). He was Jack Harkness. He was and always would be. Some days that was enough. Some days that knowledge was too much.

But even on those days, he had the Doctor by his side.

He no longer had to chase him or run to catch up. He was no longer being pursued by the secrets the Time Lord held within. They ran together, fingers locked tight – an anchor and a promise: the past always behind them, but the future (forever) at their feet.

The Boys and their Box, off to see the universe.

Anywhere and Everywhere was just the start.
nancybrown: (River Godmother)

[personal profile] nancybrown 2013-09-15 08:28 pm (UTC)(link)
So sad!
a_phoenixdragon: (Eleven - Turn Away)

[personal profile] a_phoenixdragon 2013-09-21 10:21 pm (UTC)(link)
Sorry, sweetie - have a bad habit of that. *Beams*

Thank you for reading - and for letting me know what you think!


[identity profile] eve11.livejournal.com 2013-09-15 11:55 pm (UTC)(link)
Ah, it's the Doctor and Jack: the contrast between what he shows the world and what he shows to Jack, since Jack is in a way outside of the world. I think that some of the sadness Jack has is due to his own insecurities.... at least I hope so.

I loved the toddler at the beginning, and how at the end, they and the TARDIS are off to see the universe :)
a_phoenixdragon: (Eleven - Junked)

[personal profile] a_phoenixdragon 2013-09-21 10:32 pm (UTC)(link)
It certainly is...but then with the last two Doctors he is making a judgement call based off of them. They ARE all the same man in so many ways. But his own perceptions are kind of skewed here. After all, Eleven is the Doctor, but he is a changed man.

The toddler was fun - it just seemed like some lightness in there was needed for contrast (what Jack alone sees and what everyone else does). I hope that it worked. *Grins* And that bit at the end...that was just as fun to write. I do love to try to make a happy ending (even as I acknowledge that things will sometimes be rocky).

fate_incomplete: (Default)

[personal profile] fate_incomplete 2013-09-20 02:16 pm (UTC)(link)
This was wonderful! Sad, haunting, uncertain and showing all of the fragility behind both their smiles. I love that he let Jack see everything, even the things he usually takes great lengths to hide. That Jack mistook that as meaning he was no one to the Doctor, when in reality it was an unflinching trust was beautiful, heartbreaking and perfect. Basically, this was full of all the emotion I was hoping for from the prompt and I loved it every bit of it.

a_phoenixdragon: (Eleven - That's New)

[personal profile] a_phoenixdragon 2013-09-21 10:39 pm (UTC)(link)
Ohh, I'm so happy you liked it!! These two just grip my heart and shake me to my bones and I was hoping some of that came through. I'm so glad that what I wished to convey came through for you. That makes me content - and highly pleased that I could give you a gift that makes you smile. That I even covered half of what you were asking for gives me great joy!

*Squishes you tight*

fate_incomplete: (Default)

[personal profile] fate_incomplete 2013-09-22 12:56 am (UTC)(link)
Ha! I had an inkling this was by you as it was filled with all the beautiful emotion you do so wonderfully *twirls you* I loved it hun, you certainly know how I like my fic, it was everything I wanted and so much more. That it was from you is just icing on the cake *beams*
a_phoenixdragon: (Eleven - Called Out in the Dark)

[personal profile] a_phoenixdragon 2013-09-22 02:37 am (UTC)(link)
*Beams* I was thinking my style might give me away. I just let them wander this time; tell me what was going on...took me a while, but I think I finally get what they were trying to do. I'm just happy they told the story so well for me - and that THEY knew what was going on. *Laughs*

I was so nervous!! I know exactly how you like your fic - and I never want to disappoint. I'm so happy that I didn't do so this time.

Do you know how I squealed when I saw my recepient was you?! OMG, I think I broke windows!!


*Joyous Kisses!*
honeynoir: (a door in my head [rory])

[personal profile] honeynoir 2013-09-21 09:34 pm (UTC)(link)
Wow, this was a whoppingly good fic! The similarities and differences between Jack and the Doctor, the shared weariness and experiences and... that slight tinge of "are they turning into each other? No, it's just age. Wait, is it?" The sadness, the happiness, the love, the "things I can't tell anyone else because no one else understands", the part about families... And a Fitz mention! \o/

You've created this wholly different dynamic between Eleven and Jack (as opposed to Nine/Jack and Ten/Jack) -- it's very much more mature and very... Eleven. I love the way the fic evolves and grows, until those perfect, perfect last lines. ♥

(This is a mess of a comment, sorry.)
a_phoenixdragon: (Eleven - Turn Away)

[personal profile] a_phoenixdragon 2013-09-21 10:54 pm (UTC)(link)
*Reddens with pleasure* Thank you, sweetie!! I'm so happy you enjoyed it so!

They are so, so alike in so many ways - and yet those very similarities make them so different. I like they idea that Jack has been around during the time of the Ponds and he happened to be there when they were gone. But Jack is familiar and loved (even if he doesn't know it), though the Doctor thinks of Jack like Fitz (haven't read much on him - yet - but enough to get a grasp) who doesn't seem to need him, but is rather fond of the Time Lord.

The dynamic seems to shift with each Doctor. And I'd like to think Eleven would be a kinder, more understanding Doctor in so many ways. He has learned a lot since he last saw Jack. I'd like to think he'd apply that to his dealings with Jack.

As opposed to my mess of an answer? *Laughs* No - your comment was perfect and left me fluttery and without proper words. Thank you...thank you for reading - and leaving such a lovely comment.