The Doctor is obsessed with fixing things, with making the world better. The more he breaks the more he wants to make it better.
Jack could see the connection.
Breaking and fixing. An everlasting circle of breaking and fixing.
Sometimes he thought that it was a trait he had himself picked up from the Doctor. The more he struggled with himself the more he wanted to keep others save.
What he did not know was whether the Doctor was aware of the connection. Did the Time Lord see it as clearly as Jack could see it?
He did not think so.
The Doctor was also too good at running. And he ran. Ran from everything that could bring his own pain to the surface. He ran from himself if he had to and was quite good at it. Jack knew how that worked, too.
Jack loved him for never stopping. For never not trying to help.
And sometimes he hated him for it, too.
Because sometimes like today the Time Lord let all of it go too far, forgot about anyone else around him. Or actually thought about everyone's well being, but then made crucial decisions without consulting anyone, putting his own life on the line, without any regard to the distress he caused those around him. Not even the people that cared about him.
It took Jack a lot of effort not to throttle him, when he stepped outside the collapsed building unharmed. The impossible man had the cheek to smile at him, his happiest most radiant smile, while he brushed chunks of debris and dirt out of his hair. "Sorry," he said simply, probably not apologizing for what he should rightfully be apologizing for.
Jack knew there was no real answer to that so he just sidestepped him to deal with the bigger picture. His heart was still constricting with worry, despite the undeniable proof that the Doctor was all right.
Beside him Tosh muttered: “Who is he anyway?” But he did not answer her. This could all become too complicated if he said something out loud.
The Doctor had just played a vital part in destroying a military building that had been taken over by an alien cabal and UNIT and MI6 officials are impatiently standing in line to scavenge what was left of the alien technology that had nearly split the planet in half. Gwen was already standing there looking at him, asking him to intervene with just that one look. This was Torchwood business, first and foremost. If there was anything to be found in this rubble, it was theirs and he would make damn sure that it would not get back into the hands of the people that had funded this crazy experiment in the first place.
Shouting at generals and scientists made him feel considerably better.
Only once did he glance back just to see the Doctor standing in the middle of some rubble looking deadly serious. The man didn't focus on what was going on all around him, he was looking at something there in the debris.
Jack had no time to ponder and was less than willing to go over and talk. Not right now when his heart was still beating much to fast and the only thing he wanted to do was shout some sense into the most wonderful and dangerous man he'd ever met.
When he looked up again the Doctor was gone.
Gwen informed him hours later that he had taken something from the debris and had somehow managed to vanish before she could ask questions about it. It was just like the Doctor to take the most dangerous part of this puzzle and spirit it away in his Tardis, not trusting anyone else to deal with it. It was a relief, really. Torchwood had enough dangerous tech already and keeping it out of the wrong hands was hard enough sometimes as it was.
He was sure he wouldn't hear the Doctor's side of the story for years to come. And in the end it was probably best that way, because at the moment he still felt the distinct urge to scream at the Time Lord for being a stupid, risk taking, very mortal idiot, despite regenerations and longevity.
He was all the more surprised when he found the Doctor sitting on the sofa inside his dark office in the Hub, wearing his nerdy dark rimmed glasses. His coat was hanging over the side of the sofa. How long had he been sitting there all alone in the dark?
“What are you doing here? I thought you had long since gone!”
The Doctor looked at him sheepishly. “I was a bit in a hurry then. So when I was finished I figured it would be good to hop back for a bit, but I didn't know how long you would have stayed at the sight and... I thought, that it would just be easier to come here. But you hadn't arrived, yet. I thought maybe we should...”, he paused unsure, “talk.”
Jack was too stunned to formulate an answer. He kept staring at the Doctor lounging on his little sofa in front of his desk and looking shamelessly comfortable. The bloody wanted to talk right when he had decided that it was good not having to see him for once. He strode around his desk and let himself sit down in his big office chair. He didn't bother with discarding his coat. He gave a loud huff and asked in a gruff voice: “That really why you're here?”
The Doctor cocked his head to the side. “Yes. What did you think?”
Jack shrugged forlornly. “There is no telling with you.”
The man shrugged and scratched his nose. “You're not any better, Jack.” he scrunched up his nose. “I know I'm not good at this. No, really I'm bad at this. We both know it. Everyone knows it, I suppose.”
“Yes?” He wasn't at all sure where this was going.
“What I want to say is this: I'm sorry. I really am sorry. Don't be angry with me. Not again. Not now.”
Jack stared. “So you figured, I am angry with you?”
The Doctor nodded.
In a sour tone he asked: “And you know why?”
The man gave a loud sigh. “Do you have to make this even more difficult?” he asked exasperated.
Jack rested back in his chair and contemplated that carefully. “Yes. I think, I have to. You don't like things easy anyway.”
“Don't be patronizing,” the Doctor complained, “I'm trying.”
Jack leaned back watching him sullenly, but nothing else seemed forthcoming.
“Okay, you are trying. But you do not understand! I'm not angry!” he shouted, although he supposed he was. He was angry, because the man didn't even know what caused Jack to worry so much.
“Okay,” the Doctor said. “You are not angry at all.”
“No! I'm not! I'm distressed! Because I thought you were dead or dying in there. Because I could have gone in there and done it without risk! And you don't even understand why that is distressing to me!”
The Doctor furrowed his brow and said in a very soft tone: “Sure I don't. I've been doing this for a long time and you never doubted me before.” Jack wanted to shout at him again, but kept quiet when he saw the answering anger in the Doctor's hard gaze. “You don't think, that maybe it's distressing for me that you throw yourself in harms way over and over again. You think it's any easier because I know you can't die? Do you have any idea how it feels every time you die and come back to life?” He didn't have an answer for that. “It feels horrible, Jack. It feels impossible and distressing and frightening. It makes me want to run away and leave you!” he shouted. The Time Lord hid his face in his hands and suddenly Jack was completely out of his depth.
“You want to leave me?” He tested the words out on his tongue. The Doctor was leaving all the time. But he was coming back, too. Since the Valiant they had been trying to make this work, one step at a time. But was this the end of their tentative relationship?
“I'm here,” the Doctor said and looked away, swallowed.
And the magnitude of his being here finally hit him. “You are.” The lump in his throat hadn't bin there before. “You are here.”
The Doctor still looked somewhere between angry or upset. It was the look he got sometimes when he faced down the impossible, dangerous. A true storm in the making. But when he turned his face so they were looking at each other again, he looked merely uncomfortable. “I am.”
“That's the first time you actually...”
“Yeah,” the Doctor admitted. “Nice place you have here.”
They stared at each other across the space, both aware that something in their relationship had changed just now. Since the Doctor had repaired his Vortex Manipulator it had been easy to communicate and meet up occasionally. The closest the Doctor ever came to Torchwood was landing the Tardis up on the Plass to let Jack out and back into his life here.
“Thanks,” he said slowly and then tried to grin. “Thanks for coming.”
Probably trying to shake the discomfort of being here the Doctor sniffed and then started looking around. “So, show me your little Torchwood.”
“I can show you the bedroom?” he suggested and wriggled his eyebrows.
The Doctor rolled his eyes. “That's not the way we do this thing. Date first.”
The easy way they fell back into the flirty banter after the worry and anger from before was a load off his mind. “Alright,” he agreed amiable. “I'll give you the tour and then we can see about that.”
Impatient and curious as always, the Doctor was already standing in the doorway, peeking into the dark mess that was their base of operations.
He was here. He wasn't running from this.
The worry of being left alone with his mortality fell away, slowly. He'd thought their timey-wimey relationship had come as far as it would, but the Doctor had made another step to meet him half-way. They were learning. After all the things they'd gone through and all the things that stood between them – his immortality, the Doctor's role in it, the abandonment – and that they'd suffered at the hands of the Master, they were here and together.
That counted for something, he thought, as he watched the Doctor walk around, inspecting everything, his mouth shooting words like bullets.
He loved it.
He'd lead him down to the storage era next – and finally steal the kiss he should have given him when he'd appeared