Show/Ship- Doctor Who. Doctor/Rose post Runaway Bride
Genre- Drama, dark
Rating- PG13 for scenes of a violent nature
Disclaimer- I have the right to declare arms of which I have two...uh possibly.
Summary- Regeneration is supposed to get rid of the old. Not this time.
A/n- This is kinda the PUNCH chapter, written before season 3 so the whole Jack blows his top at the Doctor was something that has been playing around for a while. Enjoy.
There was a silence following the Doctor’s declaration, one punctuated with hesitation, astonishment, and, in two instances, confusion.
“What?” Owen, as ever, was the first to regain his power of speech.
“It’s not brain science,” the Doctor snapped. “Rose Tyler, I want her back.”
Jack gaped. “But she fell into the Void, I saw it. She’s on the list of the dead.”
Three voices spoke simultaneously.
“What’s the Void?”
“Who’s Rose Tyler?”
“She’s not dead.” The Doctor’s voice cut above them all. “You didn’t see it all, Jack.”
“Then where is she?” Jack demanded. “It’s been months since
The Doctor swallowed hard and looked away for the first time in the conversation. Jack’s words bit at him, because they were true.
Had they been separated on some planet somewhere he wouldn’t have waited until Donna was safe before tracking down Rose, instead he’d have taken Donna along for the ride and sorted her mess out afterwards. If they’d been in danger Rose would have been his first priority.
And yet … he remembered when his first priority had been cooling fans and women made of wood. He remembered when his first priority had been ridding the world of one single Dalek to the entrapment and destruction of the woman he loved. He remembered when his first priority had been keeping the TARDIS away from enemy hands and he remembered the look in her eyes when she stared at him regenerating—betrayal, hurt and worry.
So many times he’d failed Rose Tyler.
But not now and never again.
He lifted his head to fix dark brown eyes on Jack. “Are you going to help me or not?”
Everyone could feel the chill and power in the room as those words resounded and Jack made the only choice he could.
After admonishing his team to get back to work, Jack led the Doctor up to his office and set about fixing up the projection unit. The Doctor sat with his long legs under the ornate mahogany table as Jack flicked up the office blinds to shield the tape from his eagle-eyed team.
“I was assigned to Torchwood years ago, but had no idea what Torchwood London was doing. The whole ghost shift thing was as much a surprise to me as it was everyone, Yvonne Hartman was a real piece of work. Devoted but delusional.”
“And dangerous,” the Doctor added with a nod. “Most fanatics are.”
Jack eyed him. “Anyway, not long after the
“And IQ points,” the Doctor mumbled.
Jack pushed a tape into the machine and sat on the edge of the table, near the Doctor’s hip. “Tapes A through C have Yvonne Hartman’s tour through the facility, ending at the lower lab where the
The Doctor fought the urge to twitch at the name and nodded calmly. “My people built the prison ship and it must have ended up in the Void; when Torchwood opened the rift it was pulled through.”
That brief sentence betrayed nothing of the sheer abundance of emotions that the scene brought up.
Even watching through someone else eyes, he’d felt the fear and fury as his old enemies were brought back into reality. He’d felt hatred bubble and burn inside him and cursed at the new Doctor’s lack of action; sending them back into the Void wasn’t enough—he wanted them destroyed—erased from existence.
Destroyed, like his people. Devastated, like his heart. Shattered, like his world. Damaged, like his psyche.
He wanted them to pay; he wanted them to hurt, to bleed, to suffer, to scream.
Dead, gone, annihilated.
Jack interrupted his train of thought. “Well, the tapes stop short of the lab, no cameras due to security, but I did pull off everything that happened on the ghost shift floor.” He paused. “These are the final moments I have. Are you sure you wanna see this?”
He’d been trapped inside the head of an arrogant, head-strong arse and had to watch while the love of his life hurtled towards oblivion. He’d had to stand by as the new Doctor repeated his mistakes and tried to send Rose away and could do nothing, but scream inside his prison in impotent rage. Instead of keeping her by his side and ensuring her safety, the new him had sent her away—again—and forced her to prove how devoted she was by making her own way back to him. Again. Rose Tyler had stood by his side as he did the ridiculous to save the universe.
Only this time he couldn’t regenerate to save her, this time there was no TARDIS to hold her or final reprieve. This time he lost.
See it? He’d lived it.
He braced himself. “Just play it.”
Jack hit the play button and the screen flared to life with the worst moment of the Doctor’s life.
Okay, one of the worst moments.
He watched, like he’d watched before, as Rose backed away from her family, declaring her intentions to stay with him, no matter what. His fists clenched as the new Doctor slipped the big yellow button over her neck and pushed it down, sending her away from him.
But his Rose wouldn’t allow that, not again, and she came back, staring him down and telling him that she’d made her decision and that she was never going to leave.
Rose pressed buttons and followed his lead and laughed with him, asking for a smile as they engaged the mega-clamps and started up the ghost shift, sucking the Daleks and Cybermen into the Void.
His stomach churned as he knew what was coming next and suddenly he wanted to see it all, wanted to know why and how and who.
“Stop!” He snatched the remote from Jack’s hand and was out of his seat before Jack could even respond to the yell.
He froze the image and clicked it a frame forward, slowing down the final seconds to heart beats. Another frame forward and then another and another—and there it was.
One frame showed it as clear as day; an eyepiece protruding from his greatest nemesis, just at the wrong angle—or the right angle to cause the Doctor pain.
“The edge of the Dalek just clips the lever.” The hollow voice echoing through the room was his own. “See, there. Just one slight nudge.”
He flicked it forward a frame and the Dalek clipped the lever, knocking it from its secure post to drift down where Rose would—
He pressed play again and the images sped up: the lever slipping, Rose reaching out for it as it started to slide, his own panic and fear as she grasped for it, elation and pride as she pushed it into its upright position and locked it.
Then the gut-wrenching, stomach-churning fear as she started to slip.
The tape would play out the way it always did in his nightmares, nightmares that had him shaking and sweating and trembling and screaming at it all to be a dream, a illusion, a mere trick of the mind. It always ended with him awakening in another’s mind, dripping in sweat and begging for another chance.
This time he found himself wishing, praying, for a different ending as the blonde girl on screen started to fall.
“Don’t let go,” he whispered as she did just that.
Rose hurtled towards the wall, being sucked in by the vast nothingness, going straight to hell. There was a flash of light and she was gone.
The picture went still as the Doctor stopped the tape, staring blankly at the spot where Rose had been.
Eight seconds and one last look as she slipped away from him; stolen by her father like a faery changeling, leaving a hole where his heart used to be.
Had she been able to hold on for just ten more seconds then they’d be together still. Had she been able to hold on for ten more seconds he’d be holding her.
His fingers touched her image on the screen, feeling instead the cold unyielding hardness of a blank wall; a wall which separated him from all he’d ever wanted.
“No one comes back from the Void, Doctor.”
He’d forgotten Jack was in the room.
“She’s not in the Void. That flash was Pete, her dad from another universe jumping in to save her. She’s alive, but in another universe.”
Jack’s voice was openly sceptical. “Her dad from another universe just happened to drop in at the exact time and place he was needed in time to stop her dying? Isn’t that kinda, I don’t know, convenient?”
His attitude grated and the Doctor shot him an icy glare over his shoulder. “I came to
“Design.” Jack amended. “I’ve been waiting for you, Doctor. I knew you’d need to power up the TARDIS again eventually and this was the most likely place I knew.”
The Doctor turned and folded his arms. “Why wait for me? And how did you get here anyway?”
Jack’s eyes went dark. “You want the short version or the long?”
“Give me the short, I’m on a schedule.”
The terseness of the phrase with its bitter sarcasm had Jack standing straighter, almost to attention as he delivered his next few words.
“Satellite Five, I woke up just as you guys dematerialised. I saw you go, figured you thought was dead. Thanks for burying my body, by the way,” he added sarcastically with no little undercurrent of pain. His hands clenched and his jaw tightened. “I went back to Earth and helped clean up, then called in a few favours and managed to hitch a ride to the twentieth century. Hung around a while before getting picked up by Torchwood.” He spread his arms in an ironic bow. “Here I am.”
That was so abridged it didn’t even count as a summary and the Doctor could see the truth of that in his eyes. He could see stretched before him all the things that Jack didn’t say.
He didn’t mention that everyone else on the Satellite had also been dead and he’d woken to a ghost ship and had to find his own way back to Earth. He didn’t recount the hours he’d wandered amidst the corpses, smelling the scent of charred flesh and not knowing what had happened on Earth below, as he waited for a rescue that he didn’t know would come. He didn’t speak of the tears and relief as, finally, a broadcast was answered and someone was able to come and bring him back to an Earth that he didn’t recognise; an Earth almost totally decimated from the Dalek attack with a stench of blood and death that hung from everything. He didn’t talk about the bodies that littered the ground and the destruction of civilisation. He didn’t bring up the grime and sweat and pain and tears and regret and agony and madness, and yet the Doctor felt them all in the words he didn’t say.
“I’m so sorry, Jack.”
Jack shrugged. “I survived.” He met the Doctor’s gaze in anger, accusation seeping through as he dislodged a bitter pill. “And then I couldn’t help surviving. Ever been shot, Doctor?”
“Me too, straight through the frontal lobes.” Jack pointed to his forehead. “Bang, brain matter all over the shop. Twenty seconds later, nothing. Ever been hung?”
“Me too, asphyxiation’s really not the way to go. Drowning, that was fun, felt like a bath. Electric shock; hurts like hell. Cyberman—woman attack took a little longer but hey back on my feet in a minute. Dalek Ray, washes right off. Old age? I wish.” His voice got louder and louder. “Slashed wrists, booze and pills, gun shot, taser, laser, blaster, gassing, nothing, nothing, nothing!” He screamed, his fists slamming onto the table top with an audible crack.
“You can’t die.” The Doctor voice was matter-of-fact but he felt anything but; the horror of that kind of life coming to him in Technicolor surround sound.
Life was about circumventing death and cramming living into each second; to know that those seconds would never end and that nothing you did would make your endless existence less futile was horrific.
Jack gave a bark of macabre amusement. “Got it in one. Do you know what it’s like to actually be immortal, Doctor? Nothing fazes you, nothing can touch you.” His eyes darkened, turning bitter and cold as his voice lowered to a numb hiss. “But with each death you become a little more hollow and little more empty. Until one day you wake up and there are two hundred candles on your cake and you left your heart in a million pieces on a godforsaken space trash heap five million years in the future. You’re not human anymore, you don’t know what you are; except alone.”
Abandoned by those he loved, forced to live a life he didn’t want and couldn’t end and doing it alone, with no comprehension of how or why or how long.
The Doctor felt a wave of pity and sickness slide over his skin.
Jack wrenched himself out of his seat and strode over to the other side of the table, his hands braced on the edge of the wooden furniture so hard the Doctor could almost hear his nails dig in. Jack bowed his head.
“Just tell me, Doctor. What am I?”
The Doctor folded his arms and stared compassionately at Jack. “I don’t know.”
Jack laughed bitterly. “What the hell happened to me? I can’t die, I can’t live. I’m stuck in hell.” His eyes widened as he rounded on the Doctor. “I just go on and on and on like that damn bunny advert, never stopping but with no emotion except longing.”
Haunted eyes pleaded with the Doctor. “I wanna die. I’m done.”
This wasn’t Jack. This was some shell of the Jack that the Doctor had known. This man was drifting through an existence that he didn’t want and couldn’t handle, almost walking through it like a ghost. His lethargy was a palpable spectre in the room and the Doctor knew that Jack needed to be shaken out of it in order to continue, so that he didn’t become empty and hard.
The Doctor swallowed, hating himself. “I know what you are.”
“What?” desperation coloured his voice.
Jack blinked, his jaw dropping. “What?”
“A whinger. Whiner. Moaner. Ingrate.” The Doctor sighed and pursed his lips. “Most people’d give an arm to have immortality and yet you complain. Captain Complainer. That’s you. Ask a hundred apes if they wanna live forever and they’d say yes.”
Jack’s mouth was around floor level as the Doctor continued.
“But no, not our Jack. This precious gift of life is a burden.” He shook his head as Jack’s eyes bugged. “I figured you for better than that, Jack. Give you eternal life and you sit and moan, doing bugger all.”
“I’ve been doing a helluva lot more’n that!” Jack’s accent came through strong and thick as his temper soared. “I fought my way to Earth, I practically resurrected this goddamn planet dump hole with no more’n a shovel and my bare hands. I fought my way back to the twenty-first century and set up as one of the few organisations to help humans to cope with contact an’ you stand there and tell me that I’ve done nothing?”
Jack’s eyes all but bulged in disbelief, veins throbbed in his head and he grabbed at the chair by his side, picking it up and throwing it across the room. The Doctor barely flinched as it shattered against the door.
“Bastard!” Jack bellowed.
“That all you got, cry baby?”
Jack’s hands went to his belt and he cursed as the Doctor hid a grin.
“Where the hell’s my blaster? I wanna shoot you.”
The Doctor smirked. “So you do want something.”
Jack stilled. “What?”
“There’s that fire, Captain Jack. That’s life.” He inclined his head at the fuming, furious and gloriously alive man. “You’ve been allowed to wallow in self pity for far too long and now that I’m here you have a chance at life, and yeah, death again.”
Jack could feel fire coursing through his veins, anger and fury resonating in his heart, he felt ire and hurt and … alive. He gaped at the Doctor. “You pissed me off to make me wanna kill you.”
“And that’s your idea of therapy?”
“Oi, at least I’m not charging. Could though. I was taught by Freud himself. Great man, had a weird thing about his mother though.”
Jack shook his head in patent disbelief. “Only you could use a death threat as catharsis.”
The Doctor suddenly turned sober. “I will fix you, Jack. I’ll find out what happened and I’ll help. But you have to help me too.”
“Rose.” Jack said faintly, unable to believe that the Doctor had just shaken him out of his lethargy.
“Rose,” the Doctor affirmed.
Jack scratched the back of his head and looked away. “What happened on Satellite five, Doc? You sent Rose away and started the Delta wave and I got shot, next thing I know you’re a different guy and you have Rose back. What gives?”
“Rose,” the Doctor said again a mixture of frustration, anguish and awe in his voice. He turned away from Jack’s inquiring glance and picked up a small glass ornament off the table, it was an odd twisted structure, probably some art-deco thing that no one ever understood. Unfathomable and fragile. He stared at the prisms of glass and stroked the smooth plains with his fingers.
He continued, almost absently. “Rose looked into the heart of the TARDIS and the TARDIS returned the favour. She came back to the station and killed the Daleks—or so we thought—atomised them. Scattered their particles through time and space and she did it for me.”
The Doctor bit down on his lip as he stared at the glass screens that separated Jack’s office from the rest of Torchwood, his fingers twirling the glass figurine in his hands. “She did it for me, to keep me safe. My Doctor, she called me that and I was, I am. Rose Tyler; shop girl ends the Time War by blasting the Emperor of the Daleks to eternity and she did it for me!” His hands clenched in utter helplessness and anger, his mind lost in the past.
“I told her to run. I put her in constant danger but when she had the chance to escape she came straight back to stand by my side.” He spun to face Jack, not really seeing the pale-faced man in his anger. “She could have died, melted from the brain inwards. The Vortex could have done anything and she didn’t care. Then I changed into him and she still stayed with me, through it all. Through French tarts and cats, black holes and heartache and now she’s lost. Lost in another universe where she didn’t want to be and she’s not staying there. I won’t let her.”
“Doctor.” Jack had seen preoccupation in all its forms but this fixation the Doctor had on Rose was blinding him to what was really happening and he tried to warn him, his tone a caution. But the Doctor could only hear Jack repeating his name and he took that caution as disapproval.
He snarled at the perceived censure. “I’ve paid, Jack. I lost everything, my planet, my people, my home, my family, my friends. Don’t I deserve something? I save the world, I save the universe, hell I saved two universes, destroyed Daleks, Cybermen, Sontarans, Slitheen, Zarbi, scourges of the universe!”
“Doctor, your hand.” Jack finally managed to spit out the words he’d been too horrified to speak and the
Doctor looked down to the crushed glass in his hand as blood spilled through his fingers. He opened his hand and shards sprinkled across his palm, coated in slick red liquid glistening like rubies in the fluorescent light. He clenched his fist, relishing the bite as the fragments bit into his flesh, blood oozing from cuts, reminding him that pain was life.
He looked up and locked gazes with Jack; the hunter meeting the hunted. “The universe owes me.”
Jack swallowed at the darkness swirling in his eyes.
“And I intend to collect.”