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The Unwanted Companion

Word Count: ~2.900
Summary: The Doctor and Jack have a talk about abandoning companions, the year that never was and how things changed.
Characters: The Doctor (Nine, Ten), Jack Harkness, Rose Tyler
Rating: PG-13
Spoiler: The Parting Of The Ways, The Sound Of Drums, The Last Of The Time Lords
Setting:
after The Doctor Dances, after The Last Of The Time Lords
Crossover:
with Torchwood
Crossover-Setting:
Between series one and two
Crossover-Spoilers: None
Author's Note: This was written for ficlet_las and the prompt Before and after.
Beta: alt_universe_me checked it after the voting was over. Thank you!
Disclaimer: I’m not making money with this fanfic. The tv-shows Doctor Who and Torchwood and the characters appearing within it belong to their producers and creators. Any similarities to living or dead persons are purely coincidental and not intended.

***
***


Captain Jack Harkness wrapped his arms around Rose's waist and picked her up easily, spinning in a half-circle before dropping her carefully and then taking the basketball away from her to shoot a hoop in the basketball court the TARDIS had created just for them. He celebrated his victory by hugging her.

The Doctor saw Rose's eyes sparkle happily, and the way she blushed when Jack's hands dropped to rest on her hips. She didn't look in the Doctor's direction, and it stung a bit that, after weeks of being alone with her and having all the wonders of the universe at his disposal to impress her, there was suddenly another man in her life. He couldn't blame her. Jack Harkness had the good looks, the mischief, the flirty remarks and the aura of a man who'd seen many beautiful and incredible things. He was alive, loud and huge and Rose seemed to fall for him. It showed in the way Rose looked at the captain, the way she let him touch her ever so casually but with intent.

The Doctor wasn't jealous, of course. Far from it. He shook off the soft rumble of laughter that echoed through his head. Bloody TARDIS! He wasn't jealous. Time Lords didn't get jealous because of some good-looking ape flirting with their companions. Who was Jack Harkness, really? A stray puppy that had followed Rose home and that she couldn't bear to abandon. A companion's companion.

Then Jack's blinding grin found the Doctor, and he couldn't help but smile back and wave.

Rose smiled at the Doctor and on her way out, she gave him a hug. ”You should play with us next time. Get a little exercise.”

”I'm getting enough exercise, thank you very much.”

Rose made a face that said Aw, are you jealous? and left.

Jack approached the Doctor now, the trousers he was wearing fitting him perfectly and the blue t-shirt accentuating his broad chest. When Jack stopped beside him, the Doctor could practically taste the pheromones he was giving off. These 51st century men and their little tricks. He was probably still all wired up from being so close to Rose.

Jack chuckled. ”Now, Doc, don't scowl like that. You'll get wrinkles, and wouldn't that be a shame on such a handsome face?” He winked and left.

The Doctor found him in the kitchen, preparing tea.

”You'd think someone like you would prefer beer.”

”Someone like me?” Jack asked.

”Americans.”

Jack grinned. ”I spent some time in the UK. Kinda got used to tea.”

The Doctor sat down at the small table. Time to get to know the new companion. Jack had been with them almost 24 hours now and the Doctor wanted to get an inkling on whom he was dealing with before they stumbled upon their next adventure.

He cleared his throat and leaned back, crossing his arms casually. ”So, where do you come from?”

Jack glanced at him from over his shoulder before selecting a strawberry-vanilla tea Rose had insisted on buying the last time they'd been at her mom's. ”Why so interested all of a sudden? I thought you'd hate me after what happened with those nanogenes.”

”Hate? No, I don't hate you. Hate's a waste of time.”

Jack turned around to him and frowned. ”You must hate someone. I mean … everybody does.”

”So, you hate someone?” the Doctor asked.

Jack froze and turned back around to the kettle. ”I don't want to talk about it.”

”Me neither. So let's just not.”

Jack nodded, still turned away from him, still fussing with the kettle. They didn't talk until Jack had joined the Doctor at the table with two steaming mugs. The Doctor took a careful sip and sighed appreciatively. There weren't many things he liked about Jack but he'd already discovered that the captain was excellent when it came to making tea.

Suddenly, Jack asked, ”Ever been to the human colonies in the 51st century?”

The Doctor thought about that question for a moment. ”One or two,” he answered finally. It was easy to lose track of the places he'd been to. Only a few of them stood out. He wanted to take Rose to each one of them.

”The ones in the Ragar Galaxy?” Jack asked. The Doctor shook his head. Jack smiled wistfully. ”I grew up on Colony Number 17 – Boeshane Peninsula. It's beautiful. You should visit it some time.”

”Maybe I will”, the Doctor said.

”I don't think I've thanked you yet,” Jack said and the Doctor looked at him questioningly. Jack gestured vaguely towards the ceiling. ”For taking me with you,” he clarified.

”Well, we couldn't let you die out there, right? A bloody mess that would have been.”

”Nobody would have missed me,” Jack said with a shrug, but no bitterness. He sounded almost as if he really didn't care. The Doctor wondered if that was true, if there really was no one waiting for him, or if Jack was just one big lie. Jack threw him a crooked smile. ”The closest relationship I've had in years was with my ship's computer.”

”I don't want to know the details,” the Doctor said.

A beat, then Jack laughed loudly. ”I did it with an AI once,” he said. ”It was fantastic.”

”You're impossible,” the Doctor said and was surprised that a touch of fondness had entered his voice.

Jack grinned. ”I heard that before.” He stirred his tea, then he asked, ”It's okay that I'm here, right?”

”Of course.”

”It's just that I didn't really ask, you know, officially. But I can make myself useful. I could help you with the old girl.” He winked. ”I'm good with my hands.”

The TARDIS purred appreciatively and the Doctor wondered if she, like Rose, had a crush on the captain. Then he belatedly realized that the wink had been intended for him and he raised his eyebrows. Surprisingly enough, he didn't mind. In fact, the longer he talked with him, the more he liked Jack.

The captain was still grinning and winked again, slowly this time, as if he wanted to make sure that the Doctor got his meaning.

The Doctor snorted. ”Don't make promises you can't keep, captain.” He didn't make a habit of sleeping with his companions. It wasn't right. They depended on him for so much, most of them had never before left their home planet or even heard about travels through space and time, like Rose. It would feel like he was taking advantage of them.

Jack seemed unfazed. ”Who said I can't?”

The Doctor laughed. ”Oh, that's fantastic! What have I gotten myself into?”

”I heard that before, too,” Jack answered.

The Doctor smiled. “No need to ask. You can stay. There is one condition, though,” he said, becoming serious once again.

”What's that?” Jack asked.

”No cons. You have a home here and I'll do anything I can to get you out of trouble, just as long as you didn't provoke it.”

Jack nodded. ”I promise.”

”Well,” the Doctor said and leaned back in his seat, ”Jack Harkness. Maybe we'll make a respectable man out of you after all.”

***

The Doctor had never told Rose about it, but he'd known that they'd left Jack behind on Satellite 5. He'd known that the dead captain had come back to life. The moment Jack had forced air back into his lungs, something inside the Doctor's mind had jolted, causing a stabbing pain, a vague feeling of being sick. Time had been disturbed, slashed open, and the Doctor had gone with his first instinct and ran, leaving Jack, his companion, behind.

Jack was different when the Doctor saw him next. From the very first moment he laid eyes on the captain running over Roald Dahl Plass for the TARDIS, the same feeling of being sick welled up in him and he reacted with harsh words. It wasn't until he sat in his cage on the Valiant, watching Jack being killed over and over again just because he wouldn't give up believing that the Doctor would eventually put the Master back in his place, that he realized how wrong he'd been in pushing him away.

When everything was over and Earth had reverted to how it should be, while the TARDIS was on stand-down in space to run some diagnostics to make absolutely sure that she was alright, the Doctor decided to mend some fences.

He knocked on the door to Jack's room. The “Come in” sounded tired.

Jack was lying on the big double bed. He'd obviously gone through the wardrobe on the TARDIS since he'd changed into a clean button-up and trousers. Jack's old trousers had been filthy and he'd lost his button-up along the way – maybe four or five months into the year that never was. The Doctor remembered the Asian woman that had bled all over it while Jack had cradled her tenderly until she was dead – Toshiko Sato. The Master had watched, taunting Jack with the promise to find his other friends as well. It hadn't taken long for him to fulfill that promise.

Jack's boots – still stained with blood in some places – were on the floor. Before leaving the Valiant, Jack had hastily looked for and found his coat, braces and gun. They were a mess in the armchair in the corner of the room, apparently just dropped there without care.

Without the coat and braces, without the boots and his weapon, with that haunted look in his eyes and lying curled up on the bed, Jack looked small and broken. He'd suffered so many deaths over the past year. The Doctor's hearts went out to him.

Jack sat up slowly and turned his head to look at the Doctor. "What is it?"

The Doctor closed the door and sat on the edge of the bed. "I wanted to see how you're doing."

Jack smiled bitterly. "I'm kind of unbreakable."

"I'm not talking about your body."

Jack avoided his eyes. "I'm alright. It'll take some time – it always does – but I'm gonna be just fine." He looked at the Doctor again. "Just want to go home, really."

"You just had to ask. 51st century coming right up," the Doctor said with a smile.

Jack shook his head. "More like 21st century, Cardiff," he answered.

The Doctor was surprised. "You call it home."

"It has been my home for over a hundred years."

"Then why did you leave in the first place?"

"I hoped you could fix me."

The vulnerability in Jack's eyes made the Doctor catch his breath.

"I can't," he whispered. "I wish I could, but this seems to be one thing I can't fix. I know it sounds harsh but you're wrong, Jack. You shouldn't even exist. I have no idea what you're doing to space and time just by being alive."

Jack swallowed thickly and avoided the Doctor's eyes again, apparently ashamed. "Sorry. Can't help that."

"No, no, no," the Doctor said, "I'm not saying that I want you dead, Jack. I don't."

Jack picked at a thread on his trousers. "Could have fooled me."

"I know." The Doctor felt ashamed for how he'd handled the situation with Jack. It wasn't the captain's fault that he was like this. It was no one's fault. "I'm sorry," he said softly, waiting for Jack to meet his eyes before he repeated, "I'm so sorry, Jack."

Jack smiled sadly. "I'm actually not."

Intrigued, the Doctor swung his legs onto the bed and folded them beneath him, looking at Jack curiously.

Jack shrugged. "I mean, it's a curse. Sometimes I hate it so much, but ... I also saw things and met people I would've never met if this hadn't happened."

"Your team means a lot to you. I could see that on the Valiant."

Four young lives lost so tragically and violently. The Doctor could still hear their screams, see their defiant eyes and smell their blood. He could still remember Jack holding them when they died, whispering words the Doctor hadn't been able to hear from his vantage point in his cage. It was a memory he wouldn't be likely to forget soon and he suspected that Jack wouldn't either.

Jack had changed so much. Gone was the loud and grinning go-getter, the big kid and bigger flirt, the conman. In his place was a truly mature and reliable leader. Someone the Doctor would trust without the least bit of hesitation. Jack was still flirting, he was still loud and self-confident, but there was a sadness lingering in his eyes now, heavy with the memories of more than one lifetime.

Jack said, "They're mine. Did you know that? The very first team I handpicked all by myself. I thought I could do it alone. After I took over Torchwood Three, I spent some time on my own, only occasionally asking UNIT for help. It worked well enough. But I got fed up with being alone and with UNIT. Even though I didn't want anyone else to risk their lives for Torchwood, I realized that I needed a team. The Rift got more active and ... well, I couldn't handle it alone anymore. I looked for them, kept my eyes open, made sure I was picking the right people for this job. And they are."

"They tied you down," the Doctor said with a grin. "Jack Harkness, I never thought I'd see the day."

"It's funny that I waited for you all these years and in the end, being here is not what I want."

The Doctor let a moment of silence reign, then he said softly, "You know I'd take you anywhere you wanted to go." He didn't want to lose Jack again. Not when it felt as if he'd just found him.

Jack nodded. "And I want to go home. They need me." The fierce need to protect his team shone in his eyes.

The Doctor laughed. "You were their leader, Jack. You taught them how to handle themselves. And they seemed like very smart and strong young people. I think they managed just fine without you." The Doctor knew that he was being pretty blunt, but the worry hadn't left Jack's eyes, yet, and he wanted him to know his team would be alright. That Jack could take his time to get his bearings back before returning to them.

Jack seemed to understand that, because he nodded and a small grin slipped out. "They'll be so angry with me. I just left without a word." He became serious. "I hurt them."

The Doctor was still pondering the change Jack had underwent and explained, "Sometimes you have to trust those who look up to you and love you that they will make it on their own. Sometimes you have to leave them, no matter what, even if it hurts them.” He cleared his throat. “I knew a young man once, thought he could do whatever he wanted to do. Almost wiped out an entire race in the process. I didn't want him here, on the TARDIS, but my companion at that time ... she has a heart of gold. Persuaded me to take him in."

Jack's eyes had misted over. "You left him behind."

The Doctor ducked his head. "He scared me. He ripped a whole into something I'm very fond of – time. I didn't know what to make of him, so I left him." He raised his eyes to look at Jack. "I thought we'd never meet again. And now look at the man he's become. I'm so very proud."

Jack bit his lip and looked away. "I always wondered if you left me or if you just didn't know I was alive."

"I knew," the Doctor said. "I could feel it. I didn't tell Rose, though. She would have had my head."

Jack choked on a laugh and wiped his eyes. "She's scary like that."

"That she is," the Doctor said with a grin. Thinking of Rose still hurt, but he learned to live with it. Ever so slowly. He always reminded himself that she wasn't dead and he shouldn't grieve, but it was hard.

For a moment, they indulged in memories of Rose. Then the Doctor got up, sighing deeply. "Well then, I'll take you home."

"You could stay for a while. Meet the team," Jack suggested.

The Doctor smiled. "Some other time. I'll have to make sure that reversing the year didn't leave tears in the space and time continuum."

He headed for the door, but Jack's voice stopped him, "Doctor."

He turned around and found that the captain was now standing next to the chair, clipping on his braces. He was looking at the Doctor with a warm smile. "I never got to tell you: Thank you."

"What for?" the Doctor asked.

"Believing in me when I needed it," Jack answered. "I wouldn't be the man I am now if you wouldn't have taken me with you."

The Doctor shoved his hands in his pockets and balanced on the balls of his feet for a second. "You know, Jack," he said slowly, "I have to thank you, too, because ... neither would I."


END
03/11

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Comments

( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
jolinarjackson
May. 10th, 2011 05:51 pm (UTC)
Thank you. :)

I'm quite smitten by Ten, actually. Except in the episodes about TYTNW, because he was so bitchy and mean towards Jack a lot of the time.
bukabe16
May. 10th, 2011 08:01 pm (UTC)
Very few stories catch my eye such as yours did. Thank you for sharing, I really enjoyed it very much. I especially liked your take on Nine, I could almost see CE again. Too bad it's a one-parter, I would have enjoyed a sequel.
jolinarjackson
May. 11th, 2011 03:25 pm (UTC)
Oh, wow! Thank you. :)
remuslives23
May. 11th, 2011 12:13 am (UTC)
I love this! I really like that Jack got some closure with this conversation. Beautifully done. :)
jolinarjackson
May. 11th, 2011 03:26 pm (UTC)
Thanks. :) I thought he needed that.
kilodalton
May. 11th, 2011 02:57 am (UTC)
Very nice!! I like the characterization very much. (Like another commenter though, I can't say I like Ten all that much ... I have kind of a love/hate relationship with him, even though I consider him "my Doctor," I also thing he's a total tool =P) So it was nice to see him in-character but more on his best behavior here!
jolinarjackson
May. 11th, 2011 03:26 pm (UTC)
Thank you. :)
badly_knitted
May. 11th, 2011 07:44 pm (UTC)
Beautiful! The whole conversation is something that was desperately needed in the show but never happened, but this is perfect.

I also loved the start as Nine tries to get to know his new passenger and finds he actally rather likes him!
jolinarjackson
May. 12th, 2011 03:46 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I never liked the way they never got into that conversation. It was like the pink elephant in the room, really. :)
ravenja1170
May. 11th, 2011 07:52 pm (UTC)
wonderful, warm story/missing scenes! I loved Nine's "so not being jealous" LOL
jolinarjackson
May. 12th, 2011 03:32 pm (UTC)
Thank you. :)
rox712
May. 13th, 2011 09:49 am (UTC)
Beautiful and sad. This really would have been the conversation Jack needed.
jolinarjackson
May. 13th, 2011 04:20 pm (UTC)
Thanks. :)
dil_deal
May. 16th, 2011 04:04 pm (UTC)
I wish it happenned like that. Because the way Jack is treated breaks my heart.
jolinarjackson
May. 17th, 2011 03:17 pm (UTC)
Mine, too. But they seem to have come to some sort of understanding, 'cause their relationship's better later on.
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )