The hinges creaked as the Doctor pushed the already half-open door and took a few steps into the room. Even from where he was standing, he could hear Rose’s soft, steady, slow breaths. Once his eyes were accustomed to the dark, he could see her outline on the bed, covered with the duvet up to her waist.
He shouldn’t disturb her. She’d had a long day.
He wondered, for a moment, if she would be dreaming about any of it tonight. He hoped not; one person with dreams full of Daleks on this ship was enough.
But if she were, he would be the one who had done that to her.
A few steps further and the Doctor was hovering above her, just before the edge of the bed. She looked like she was sleeping peacefully, he decided.
But it wouldn’t hurt to stay here and keep an eye on her. Strictly for her sake, of course.
He lay down beside her, above the covers, but took her in his arms gently, moving slowly so as not to wake her up. She nestled against him as if it were second nature to her, draping her arm across his stomach. And, if he’d seen right, a small smile spread across Rose’s lips.
* * *
Rose hesitated for a few minutes outside the shut door, getting up her courage to open it. He wouldn’t be angry. He had no right to be angry – he’d done the same thing just last week. Chances were, in fact, that he wasn’t even asleep.
But she’d already done enough harm today, another side of her argued. Better to get out of his way until tomorrow. It would be a brand new day.
And yet, he’d forgiven her. If he hadn’t meant it, tough.
She opened the door and entered.
The Doctor lay in bed, though awake, as she’d expected. He was looking at the ceiling, almost pensive, but when she entered he quickly turned to her in surprise, and sat up. “Anything wrong?”
“Yes,” she replied. “My dad died today.” She felt foolish as soon as the words left her mouth.
But the Doctor’s expression softened and he nodded. “Sorry, shouldn’t have asked.” He turned from her to examine his hands, but just before he did so, she thought she could see something in his eyes... understanding.
“Can I sleep here tonight?” This came out less confidently than her previous words.
For a few seconds she thought he would reject this as a bad idea, but then the Doctor peeled the bedcovers back and said, “Of course.”
She slid under the blanket and felt his arms envelop her. “Thanks,” she whispered.
A comfortable silence stretched between them for a few minutes.
“It gets easier,” he said then, startling her. Rose raised her head and looked at him, listening. “It won’t get easier yet just because I said so, but there’ll be moments when it doesn’t hurt so much.”
His gaze penetrated her and she suddenly felt almost ashamed of her grief. She’d lost a father who had been dead all her life; the Doctor had lost all his people. He’d never spoken of his feelings so openly before, and the fact that he shared them with her now meant more than she knew how to express with words. Suddenly their differences seemed smaller than ever.
“I know,” Rose said softly, letting a stray tear slip down her cheek. She laid her head on his chest. “We’ll remind each other.”
* * *
It was a different door Rose was facing this time, and she didn’t hesitate before walking through; it was wide open. By the dim light, which came from a decidedly mysterious source, she watched Jack sleep for a few seconds. Then took a few steps closer.
Their relationship was still strictly friendly – and she was sure her feelings of regret about that were returned – but it was so very easy to step over boundaries and still feel comfortable with Jack.
He looked so peaceful that she was about to turn back, reluctant to disturb him, when he opened his eyes and looked back at her. She suddenly noticed that she’d come closer, and was standing beside his bed. He smiled and she smiled back.
Wordlessly, Jack moved away from her and held out the end of his blanket invitingly. Rose slid in and immediately snuggled up to his chest as he wrapped the blanket around her and held her close.
She took a deep breath, relaxing, and heard him laugh. “What?” she asked, smiling.
“Nothing,” he replied impishly.
She laughed. It was never nothing. “No, what?”
“Okay, it’s just... whenever you’re in bed with me you always take this deep breath like you’re... smelling me.”
She laughed quietly again, but said, “I like your smell.”
“Really? What do I smell like?”
She thought for a moment. “Sort of... familiar. And mine.”
“Possessive. I like it.”
She took a deep breath again and he laughed. “Smelling me again?”
“Well, you did ask! But never mind then,” she said in mock-offence.
“No, I want to know.”
She laughed at the absurdity of the conversation, sure that if the room were lit he’d be able to see her blush. “Well... sort of like soap, and … vanilla.”
“Vanilla?” he asked, almost indignantly. “I am not vanilla. I can show you right now that I am not vanilla.”
“I believe you,” she said quickly, before he’d had the chance to roll her over.
Then he whispered in her ear. “Anything wrong?”
“Not really,” Rose whispered back. “Just, you know, you don’t really want to sleep alone after a near death experience.”
Jack nodded. “I hear you.”
“I’ve never said before, but... promise you won’t laugh?”
“Of course I won’t.”
“I get... sometimes, I mean, not all the time, but I get these dreams – nightmares – and sometimes I see one of you die – or both of you – or we get separated and lose each other...”
Jack hugged her tighter. “Well, everything’s okay for now, sweetheart.”
“I know. ‘S just… I thought I’ll probably dream about it tonight if I sleep alone.”
“Good thing I’m here, then.”
She smiled. “Yeah.”
She felt his lips against her forehead and slipped into slumber quickly, finally giving in to the soothing darkness of the ship.
* * *
It had been an exhausting day for all of them – not an unusual thing when one was a time-traveller with a taste for danger.
The fight against the Slitheen and the trip to Raxacoricofallapatorious were enough to call it a day.
Jack sat near the console and watched the Doctor’s limbs peek out from beneath the console every few minutes to retrieve one of the metal pieces laid out.
“So where do you think we’ll go tomorrow?” Jack asked after an endless silence.
There was a clatter and a curse from the Doctor’s hole in the floor. The Doctor sat up, rubbing his head, and glared.
Jack laughed. “Sorry, didn’t mean to startle you.”
The Doctor stopped rubbing the sore spot. “You didn’t startle me. Takes more than that to startle a Time Lord, but nice try.”
Jack raised his eyebrows, still grinning. “Right.”
The Doctor lay back and disappeared from view again. “Tomorrow?” His voice reverberated oddly through the floor. “I don’t know, thought we’d decide what you and Rose are in the mood for in the morning.”
Jack nodded, then realised the Doctor couldn’t see him, and said, “Okay.”
“You got something in mind?”
“Not really. Though you know I’m always in the mood for somewhere where the hypervodka’s cheap.” He grinned again. “Maybe I’ll buy you a drink.”
The Doctor emerged with an almost resigned expression, as though Jack was a hopelessly misbehaved child – and that thought amused him. “We’ll see if we can accommodate you then, Captain. In the morning. As in, after you’ve slept.”
Jack rolled his eyes and shook his head, then stood up. “Forget it. You’re no fun when you’re making love to your TARDIS.”
The Doctor’s scandalized expression almost made him burst out in laughter. “I do not - Captain – just hand me that,” he said, pointing to a round red metal tool of some sort, which had rolled under the driver’s seat, out of reach for him.
Jack handed him the object, then turned to leave the room. “I’m going to look for Rose, I’m sure she’ll provide better conversation.”
“Good luck,” the Doctor called after him.
But twenty minutes later, Jack hadn’t found Rose in any of the usual places. She wasn’t in the library, the kitchen, or her room. He returned to the console room to see if they hadn’t missed each other in the many corridors. But at a quick glance, he could see she wasn’t there, either.
“Doc,” he called. “Did Rose come through here just now?”
The Doctor’s head emerged again. “No, haven’t seen her since we’ve been back from Raxacoricofallapatorious.”
Jack frowned. That was a bit strange. Of course, the TARDIS was much bigger than the areas he was familiar with, but he was sure that this was true of Rose, too. She didn’t normally go exploring without a guide anymore, not since she’d got lost a few weeks ago. “I can’t find her.”
The Doctor frowned too. He stood up and climbed into the platform., “Maybe she’s gone exploring, or something. Would be like her to forget this is an alien ship with more corridors than she could count.” He lead the way into the interior, peering into various rooms as they walked through lengths of hallways Jack had never seen before.
“Rose!” the Doctor called after twenty minutes of search which yielded no results. But she didn’t answer or come running.
They passed the hallway Jack was most familiar with so far, on their way back to the console room – it was the one where all of their bedrooms were situated. Jack’s and Rose’s across from each other, the Doctor’s at the other end. Jack couldn’t help peering in when he noticed that the Doctor’s door was open.
He stopped. Rose lay on the Doctor’s bed, curled up on top of the covers and clutching a pillow. As they walked in, the tear tracks on her face became visible. His heart wrenched for her – more than they knew about had clearly transpired between her and Mickey earlier.
He looked at the Doctor, who gestured to the bed with his head, and removed his leather jacket.
Realising what he meant, Jack took off his shoes and jacket as well, and walked around the bed. The Doctor lay down and took Rose in his arms – she seemed to relax considerably, stretching out. Jack wrapped his arm around her waist protectively, and buried his face in her hair.
It wasn’t long before they joined her in slumber.
* * *
Rose was in bed when the Doctor came through her door. He paused for a moment before moving to climb into bed with her, but she scooted obediently and made room for him in her bed. The TARDIS had made sure she had a bigger bed since the Doctor had got into the habit of joining her in it whenever he felt like company at night.
She didn’t mind – she loved it – except when he actually woke her up and began prattling. He had things to learn in the ways of etiquette.
This time, though, he was quiet as he gathered her into his arms and she settled comfortably against him, as she always did. “This is nice. What’s the occasion?”
“Just thought you wanted company. You’ve had a rough day.”
“I’m okay, I think.” She was coping. But she smiled at the Doctor’s touching gesture.
She did have a tough day, she considered. With Mickey leaving... and her mum… and then her dad… although, she reminded herself, they weren’t her mum and dad. Her mother was alive, as the Doctor showed her earlier. They’d all had a nice evening, with tea and biscuits – even the Doctor hadn’t complained.
“Still have me,” he said, and nuzzled her neck.
She smiled again, and a familiar jitter fluttered in her stomach. He’d been doing a lot of this lately – dropping hints towards something more happening in their relationship – but he always stopped before that extra step.
Still, cuddled in bed together, and being nuzzled by him wasn’t so bad.
“Yeah, still got you. Got to settle for what I have, I suppose,” she said with an exaggerated sigh.
“Hey!” he said indignantly.
She laughed. “You’re such an easy target sometimes.”
He tightened an arm around her. “I’m the one who lets you run around this ship, you know.”
“Oh, yeah? I’m the one who cooks.” She looked up at him with a challenge in her expression.
“Did okay before you got here,” he replied with a wave of his free hand, his face inches from hers.
“No, you didn’t,” she said, shaking her head. “Bet you just ate chips all day.”
Instead of replying, he closed the distance between them and touched his lips to hers - firm and soft, making it clear he wasn’t letting her win this argument.
But it was okay; she was willing to let him have this one.
* * *
The Doctor lay on his bed, fully clothed save for his trainers and jacket, and stared at the ceiling.
The last time he’d had Jack on board, truly on board, he’d been a different man – literally. And Jack had been a different person too.
But the difference that stood out the most was their missing third link – Rose. The rest could be worked on. He dared to hope that Jack’s return meant he’d forgiven him.
He hadn’t thought Jack would come back once he’d declined his invitation, but the Doctor had let him know where he would park the TARDIS for a few hours in case he changed his mind. And he was glad he’d done it.
He heard Jack outside his room and smiled to himself, his hearts swelling.
Martha had left, and he was going to miss her, but having Jack around made it better, somehow.
The door opened, and he knew Jack had walked in, though he didn’t look. Jack lay down beside him.
He turned his head. Jack was almost fully clothed himself, as well. Like soldiers, both of them, he thought with some amusement. It was clear that he had been wandering the TARDIS, anywhere but his old room. Jack’s gaze was fixed on the ceiling too, now.
“So did you settle things with the old team?” the Doctor asked when the silence became heavy and loaded.
“Yeah,” Jack said, turning his head to look at him. “Left them in charge. They don’t need me. Just hope they can stop Owen from parading our archive around Cardiff to impress the women.” He laughed. “Funny, I’m going to miss them. I always thought I was just stuck there, but it wasn’t so bad, really.”
“I’m going to miss her, too.”
“I’m sorry she left. I liked her.”
“I liked her too.” He smiled. “But I guess I did made her feel second-best.”
“I’m sorry about Rose too,” Jack said, laying a warm hand on his leg.
“Yeah, well.” He sighed.
“I got yelled at for the Himalayas thing,” Jack said.
The Doctor laughed.
“See, I knew that would cheer you up.”
The Doctor turned to look at Jack again, and suddenly, warm lips were on his, gentle at first and then more insistent. Jack’s hand covered his cheek.
Jack broke the kiss after seconds, but did not remove his hand. His gaze was startlingly penetrating.
“Thank you,” the Doctor said. “For staying.”
The Doctor slid his arm under Jack and around his shoulders. Jack draped an arm across his stomach. And the Doctor closed his eyes.
* * *
Jack sat on the bed in his room, not quite ready for sleep yet.
He looked around the room. How much had his life changed over the course of a few weeks? He’d had his doubts about leaving Torchwood at first, but once he was on the TARDIS again, he knew he’d made the right choice.
Though he was Earth-bound at Torchwood, he and his team did much the same job that the Doctor did – save the planet, make contact with foreign life, shag an alien or two on the way. Yet it was so much more exciting, so much more life-affirming when the objective was to explore, rather than kill all threats.
And of course, what made it best was their missing link.
There was a knock on his door, though it was ajar. He glanced at it, and awarded a broad grin to the young woman standing at the entrance. “I was just thinking about you.”
Rose grinned back. “Oh, yeah?”
“How much I missed you.”
She came in and sat beside him. “Last time I was in this room, I cried myself to sleep because I thought I’d never see you again.”
Jack put his arm around her shoulders. “I’m here.” He planted a kiss on her hair. “And by the looks of it, not going anywhere,” he added with a small chuckle.
She hit his thigh playfully. “Don’t joke about it. I missed you too.” She yawned.
“Ready for bed? Guess it was a long day, huh?”
“I’m afraid that if I close my eyes and fall asleep, I’ll wake up and find it was all a dream.”
He turned her around to face him, taking her hands in his. “Rose, this is not a dream. I promise.” He smiled. “Unless I’m having the same one.”
Rose smiled, her eyes shining. She leaned in to press a tender kiss to his lips.
Jack stood up, pulling her after him. “Let’s go find the git. He’s going to fuss and moan but he needs to sleep too.” He gave her another grin and a wink.
The Doctor was in the console room. He wasn’t fixing anything, but standing over the many buttons and knobs, fiddling with them, when they found him.
“Time for bed, Doctor,” Jack said.
He looked up at them, surprised and wide-eyed. “Well, you know where your rooms are.”
Hopeless, he was. Jack gave Rose an exasperated look and signalled with his head. Together, they stepped onto the platform and flanked the Doctor, taking his hands in theirs. “Time for bed, as in, you too,” Rose said.
The Doctor stopped fighting very quickly, Jack noted. He’d expected more of a struggle. They had slept in the same bed a few times when it had been just the two of them, but every time, Jack had to trick him into coming to bed.
They led him into Rose’s room. They had all come full circle; they’d been separated across time and space and even the Void, but they had all found each other again. Maybe it meant they had something special, here.
Jack hoped Rose was convinced of their reality when she fell asleep between the two of them.