Categories > TV > Doctor Who

Snapshots from the Vortex

by dilly 5 reviews

Things aren't the way Jack thought they were before he joined the Doctor and Rose. And maybe he isn't either. (Jack/Rose/Nine)

Category: Doctor Who - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Drama - Warnings: [!] - Published: 2007-06-13 - Updated: 2007-06-14 - 2044 words - Complete

Snapshots from the Vortex
by dilly r

"I'm glad one of us didn't forget," she mutters into his shoulder. She's half asleep, and irritatingly enough, this is entirely platonic. Jack could go for a shag about now, but Rose is off limits.

Sort of. Close enough, anyway. "What did I forget?"

"Not you," she clumsily shoves him, then pulls him back to rest on his shoulder again. She's had maybe a bit too much to drink, but it was a long day. They saved a planet today, after all. A planet Jack had never heard of out in the middle of nowhere that evolved sentience a few millennia after he was born, but a planet nonetheless.

"I see..." Jack brushes her hair away and whispers into her ear. "Then who?"

"The Doctor. Would've left you to blow up if I hadn't reminded him. I wasn't so sure I should've, but now I'm glad I did."

Her voice and her smile are teasing, but Jack can't quite smile back.

She must see it, because she adds, "You can't take it personally." She sighs as she drifts off to sleep. "Sometimes he just forgets."

"OW. Could you be a bit more careful. That's my HAND."

"Yes, I see that. And this:" The Doctor holds up the offending object. Long and jagged and purplish-green. "Is the barb of a female Yugunda. You should've gone with that guy you had an eye on instead. No barb on the males."

"She seduced me." Jack sulks, gingerly touching around the ruined flesh in the center of his palm. Completely numb, at least.

The Doctor drops the barb in a bowl. "Just be glad it was your hand you had up her skirt."

"I am, trust me." Jack squints at the Doctor through the hole in his hand. "So, are you going to fix this, /Doctor/, or what?"

"No need. The same compound that's keeping your nerves from screaming at your brain right now will heal that up in a few hours. Brilliant, really. She wasn't trying to hurt you. It's all part of the mating ritual."

"Remind me not to mate with a Yugunda any time soon."

"I'll do that." The Doctor dumps the spine into one of the seemingly arbitrary compartments in the wall.

Jack decides it's best not to ask what he's saving it for. "If you don't forget."

"What's that?" he asks, distracted by the console. "How do you feel about Earth's 8th century BC? Founding of Rome. A nice solar eclipse in 780... No, better not. Last time I was in 780 that earthquake didn't go well for the Zhou Dynasty. Not in any way my fault."

"I'm not drinking milk from any time BC. The 21st century is disgusting enough."

"Well. Maybe it was a bit my fault, but I couldn't exactly let the rock people of Berril Three invade Earth, could I? Especially not in the 8th century BC."

"Are you actually listening to anything I'm saying at this point or..."

"Amazing what humans will decide is portent. Natural disasters happening all the time, and some self-centered human has to think it's all about him."

Jack crosses his arms. There is one way to get an answer. "I was thinking we could go to my time. I wanted to bring aboard my pet duck. His name's Roger. I miss him horribly."

"Then, when something happens at any point afterward, any little thing, he thinks he's brilliant for having read all the signs so accurately. All throughout human history."

"Not listening, then."

"And you wonder why you've got a reputation for being intolerable egotists."

Jack sighs. "I'll go get Rose before we take off."

The Doctor waits until Jack is almost gone before adding, "No pets on the TARDIS. Besides, I think I'm allergic to ducks."

Sometimes they just sightsee. Nothing blows up, not even buildings, and no one ends up dead before they put a stop to whatever is threatening whomever, because there's no threat.

Sometimes it's just the three of them sitting on an old, wooden bridge on Ranx watching the sun set.

The orange sky is darkening to a deep violet-blue, and the three of them are underneath it: Rose kicking her feet, Jack leaning back on his (now healed) palms, and the Doctor grinning from ear to ear like he hasn't seen a million things more fantastic than this.

"I like how the water's shining. Looks like cellophane wrap or something," Rose says dreamily.

"There's a kind of fish all through this river that has iridescent waste." The Doctor's smile widens even more. "Pretty, isn't it?"

Rose grimaces. "Yeah. It was until you ruined it."

"Waste is just a part of life, Rose. Without waste, nothing would grow. It's poorly named, if you ask me."

Jack laughs. "Is there anything you can't extol the virtues of, Doctor?"

"Farts," the Doctor answers without a thought. "I'm sure they have virtues, but..."

"They just remind me of 10 Downing Street," Rose says.


Jack raises an eyebrow. "Am I... missing something?"

"Yup," Rose answers, and the Doctor nods along with her.

Jack would ask what it was, but some sort of blue light is expanding on the horizon like a starburst.

"Is that normal?" Rose asks.

The Doctor laughs and stands up. "Nope!"

Sometimes it's just watching the sun set. Most of the time, it's Jack and Rose running after the Doctor, and the Doctor running off to save the world.

Jack hates the way the Doctor looks when he's disappointed.

It was just about all he saw of the Doctor the first time they met. Like everything wrong about humanity was showing on Jack's face or something. At first, the only way he knew that look wasn't the only look the Doctor had was because he saw the way he looked at Rose. And the TARDIS. And just about everything other than Jack.

Jack's proved himself to be a little bit worthwhile by now, he thinks, because the Doctor's usually neutral toward him. Sometimes he even rewards Jack with one of his gigantic smiles.

Now isn't one of those times.

"I didn't have a choice, all right?" Jack is trying not to sound angry, if only because Rose gets this sick look whenever he and the Doctor argue. "You were off somewhere--"

"I was off somewhere trying to save their lives while you were staying behind to end them."

"One. And I was trying to save the rest of them just as much as you were. She was hysterical. I thought she was going to get us all killed. I thought it was a bomb. I was sure it was a bomb she had."

"Maybe you should leave the thinking up to someone with a brain." The Doctor is standing in front of the TARDIS with his arms crossed, like he's considering not letting Jack in when they leave. "I've told you, I don't like you bringing weapons with us wherever we go. If that's what you think this is about, I should've left you on your ship. If I did, that woman would still be alive."

"Doctor..." Rose mutters.

The Doctor glances at her, then back at Jack. One long, hard glare that makes Jack feel small and irrelevant and worthless all over again, then the Doctor turns his back on him to unlock the TARDIS and go inside without another word.

"He doesn't mean it," Rose says.

She does look sick. She's probably not the only one.

"Yes, he does," Jack says, and he follows the Doctor into the TARDIS.

The Doctor is at the console, pretending to work at something. Hell, maybe he is. Maybe he's already forgot.

"Here. Take it. I won't carry it anymore." Jack took his blaster out of his holster and held it out, barrel pointed down.


Jack lets his arm and his blaster fall back to his side. "What do you want? Do you really want to leave me here? Or how about this? You've got a time machine. Make your best wishes come true; take me back to my ship just before it exploded."

The Doctor's eyes flick up.

"I won't fight you. Just take me there, and I'll go. I'll walk right back in and--"

"Stop being so dramatic. Do you really think I'm going to blow you up?"

"I don't know," he says, and it's the truth. Jack never knows anymore.

It seems like that should be thrilling.

"Will you close the door, Rose?" the Doctor says. "There's a draft."

Jack leaves the two of them to make do the way they always did before he was there. He finds himself in the dressing room, sitting with his back against the wall, trying to sort himself out as the TARDIS hurls them through time and space.

Rose is asleep on his shoulder again. This time, she's dragged Jack out of the TARDIS for fresh air while the Doctor does some maintenance that he refused to be helped with. They sat on the bench together for hours as the evening dimmed to night and watched the people pass them by. Now that the streets have cleared, she has her arms wrapped around one of his, and she's smiling in her sleep.

Anyone looking at them would think they're lovers, but he doesn't think about shagging her anymore. When they touch, it's not fire -- it's warmth. Somehow, that's ten times more satisfying than dancing with her next to Big Ben was.

He doesn't really think about shagging anyone these days. Not the way he used to.

The TARDIS door creaks open, and Jack listens to the Doctor's footsteps as he approaches them.

"Comfy?" the Doctor asks. Maybe with a touch of jealousy, but it's hard to tell.

"She seems to be. I can't feel my hand. And I think I have drool on my shoulder."

"A few more minutes, then we have to go," the Doctor says, all seriousness.

Jack suppresses a laugh to keep from shaking her. "I'm not going to be the one that wakes her up."

"I'm not afraid of her."

Jack raises an eyebrow. The Doctor raises one back, then looks at Rose.

"Okay," he concedes. "We'll wait until she wakes up on her own, then. But not because I'm afraid to wake her."

"Of course not."

"Not at all."

They are both quiet for a long moment, listening to Rose's strange little snore -- in, in, ouuut, in in, ouuut -- and the distant sounds of London at night. There's a song playing in some nightclub that Jack is pretty sure he knows the lyrics for. He's been spending too much time in the 21st century.

"I know you didn't mean to do it," the Doctor says. Nonchalant. Like it's nothing.

Jack looks up to see the Doctor's frowning off into the distance, his brow just slightly furrowed, like he's watching something. Jack wonders if there's actually something there or not.

He hadn't thought it was like this. He thought it was easy. He thought it was kissing and joking and being happy all the time and having great sex. Especially sex. He thought it had to have sex or it didn't mean anything.

Then, he fell in love with the Doctor, and he suddenly knew he'd never fallen in love before. He suddenly knew that it was anything, everything but easy. He suddenly knew that, even if there could never be sex, he would love the Doctor for the rest of his life.

It seems like it should be a horrible, depressing thing, but it isn't. In fact, he's pretty sure it's the best thing that's ever happened to him.

Jack smirks. "I know you wouldn't have blown me up.

"I have thought about it now and then."

"You'd miss me too much."

The Doctor doesn't say anything, he just grins his enigmatic grin.

Rose sighs and stirs against Jack's shoulder, and the Doctor turns back toward the TARDIS. "Come on, then. I'm tired of London."

"That's a first," Rose yawns.

Jack stands, pulling Rose up with him. "First time for everything."

She smiles and twines her fingers with Jack's as they follow the Doctor.

As they will always follow the Doctor, wherever he happens to lead them.
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