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Time Breaks All Promises

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The Doctor clinging to him is not a new thing, although in the past there was more letting go when it made sense to do so. It’s just that there’s so much more time to live through, now, on a very short tether to a hyperactive, moody alien. Whom he happens to love but sometimes it wears a bit thin.

“There’s a book about that in the library, hold on - no, come with…”

“We’re going to want a hyperwave capacitor, little doodad about yea long, kind of spiky, of course you know what it is. Storeroom two, could you - no! No, don’t, I’ll come with you… “

“I just need to do some maintenance on the fluid links, erm -” After a baffled look at their joined hands here, he pulls up his trouser leg and offers his ankle hopefully to Jack, who groans and covers his face with his free hand. Even with them both sleeping more often than usual, there are still eight or more hours of waking time in between to survive; it's only taken a day and a half to drive Jack to distraction. His life had been constrained before but not like this. They need progress, and soon.

Not having bothered with shoes since it's not like the Doctor can go out in this condition, Jack opts to stand on the Doctor’s ankle instead as he disappears under the console. Not that the Time Lord is actually having any better time of it, but Jack is feeling put upon and needs to take out his annoyance on something, and no active pursuits are available to him currently.

“Are you angry with me?” His lover's plaintive voice drifts up to him from below the console.

Jack sighs. “No, I just…” He folds his legs beneath him and sits, lays his hand on the Doctor’s ankle. “Kind of; frustrated. At the situation.”

“Yes. I'm sorry.” He seems to have stopped working. “Knowing what's waiting for me, I just… can't. Can't let go. But I don't… Jack, if you think it's best…” He's entirely lost faith in himself, Jack realises, and his heart breaks anew for this despairing man whose recent choices have turned out so poorly for all involved.

“You're going to have to let me, then, Doctor,” he says, gently. “We can't go on like this, even in the short term. It will get better, either with practice or with time, but even if it's time I still need to be able to let go for a few minutes. I'd like to use the bathroom alone, at least. Or take a hot shower occasionally.” It seems that Jack himself is just about the perfect therapeutic temperature for the Time Lord, which makes shared showers often unpleasantly tepid.

“And getting dressed is just ridiculous, I know.” He sounds resigned, and less afraid than Jack expected; it seems he's been thinking along similar lines, underneath the distractions that have been driving Jack mad. “Well.” He takes a few slow breaths, then pushes himself out toward Jack. “Best try it here; maybe the TARDIS can… help, somehow.”

Jack reaches over to take his outstretched hand, and lets go his ankle. He hadn't meant to push the Doctor to immediate measures, but neither is he going to protest. “We'll catch you,” he promises, and hears the TARDIS hum comfortingly.

The Doctor smiles sickly. “The catching is the worst part; that's the problem.” Jack opens his mouth, spotting the flaw here easily, but the Doctor shakes his head. “Do it anyway. Please. Please don't… leave.”

Something to do with the complex mess of trauma and withdrawal the Doctor is dealing with, then; Jack nods. “I won't leave you.”

“I know.” The look in the Doctor's eyes is so open and trusting that Jack finds he can't respond; he gathers his lover into his arms instead, holding tight. “Jack -” It comes out sounding choked. “Jack,” the Doctor tries again, swallowing thickly, “this is the exact opposite of letting go.”

“It's not that I ever want to,” Jack mumbles into his hair, pushed into unaccustomed honesty. “Don't imagine I've ever wanted you to go, in all my life. I would keep you, safe here, forever if I could, if it wouldn't destroy you. You don't know…” He takes an odd hiccuping breath, then another. He shouldn't, he shouldn't, but he can't stop, he's ripped open straight to the depths of his soul. “If you could never leave me. How much longer would you live.”

“Oh, Jack…” His lover twists in his lap, right hand cupping the back of his bowed head; he pulls his left from Jack's grip to wind around his back and hold him close. Kissing Jack's head, he makes no further comment, and they sit there together, Jack mostly occupied in being grateful that the Doctor hasn't rejected him outright; not that he would have a lot of standing to do so.

Then the Time Lord sits up, and Jack raises his head to see his eyes feverishly bright, expression intent. “Shall we find out?” he offers, sliding his hand around to Jack's cheek.


“One more fixed point, Jack. One more time, and my future is yours.” That deadly earnest face, and Jack feels the bottom dropping out of his world.

He is in freefall, terror and an awful hope eating him from the inside, tempted, so tempted in this moment.  Unfair, something in him cries, unfair to have laid his heart bare and been handed back this dreaded test in return; because he has known from the beginning that he is the wrong man for the job. Every time he has had a choice he has failed to stop the Doctor, and Jack is so tired of wondering if this is the time that counts for all. If life were a story, of course, this time it would be. What would he trade for his heart's desire?

Time is nearly standing still; he can hear each heartbeat loud in his ears and all he sees are the Doctor's eyes, intent and desperately hungry. If he could, if only he could, make sure the Doctor will keep living and not throw himself into reckless, stupid causes, not burn through his life uncaringly as his previous self did - there could be no surer way than this. But it is no sure way at all.

“You can’t promise that,” Jack says wretchedly, knowing it for truth. “You can do a great many things, Doctor, but this isn’t one of them.”

“I can try,” the Doctor whispers, a consuming fire lit behind his eyes. “And never stop trying. Let’s find out what kind of life we can have together, Jack.”

What would he trade for an honest try? This is worth far more than the first blithe promise, and his next words feel like barbed hooks tearing his throat out as they come. “I don't think I can, I don't know if I can do that again. I don't know if you can do that again. It might burn out your mind.”

“No galaxies this time,” the Doctor assures him. “Just finesse. We can try, Jack.”

It is utter madness, but it is a blazing, brilliant madness, a damn the odds, face to the wind sort of madness. Jack's first Doctor was full of it, and Jack ran laughing after him. In these years together, what have they become but people who try, who keep trying, keep doing, keep going on? The Doctor doesn’t say anything more, just waits, eyes unblinking, thumb stroking Jack’s cheek slowly. Maybe it’s that which tips the balance despite Jack's exhaustion with the whole effort, the clear acknowledgment that this is his choice, that he is now, finally, an equal partner; or maybe it is simply that he knows this death is not meant for the Doctor. Throat working convulsively, Jack takes a deep breath, gathers his lover back into his arms, and chooses life and love. “We can try,” he agrees.

The Doctor suffers himself to be held for a minute, then sits back again, hand still resting against Jack's neck. He looks torn between chagrin and eager excitement. “Now?”

Startled, Jack laughs. “You still have to be able to let go of me.”

The Doctor's face falls. “Oh. Of course.” A long pause, wherein he gradually leans closer to Jack, eyes averted. “... Now?”

“No. Not if you don't want to.” When the Doctor shakes his head, still without looking at him, Jack shifts to his knees, more than willing to distract and be distracted. Sliding his hand up the Doctor's back, Jack cups the back of his head, tilts his face up, and kisses him, wholehearted and hungry. The Doctor opens his mouth eagerly, moaning as Jack pushes him back slowly to the floor. His left hand creeps under Jack's jumper to pull at him. The ease with which he surrenders now should be more worrying, probably, as a sign of the damage he has done himself, but Jack can’t fix it right now and he is only human. Centuries of fantasies are hard to forget. Settling himself between the Doctor's legs, he shifts forward, folding the Doctor's knees up, trapping him. His hand is still safely on Jack's back, tucked into the waist of his trousers, so Jack may do as he likes without concern.

Face flushed, mouth open, the Doctor stares up at him. “What have you done to me?”

Jack laughs. “Nothing yet. Requests?”

Jack. I feel like, this is, it's more…” He shakes his head. “Kiss me?”

“Always,” Jack says, and does. More responsive than Jack is used to, the Doctor moans loudly and his feet scrabble at Jack’s hips to find some leverage. “Mm-mm.” He stops. “Relax,” Jack says against his lips. “Take what I give you. Can you?”

Eyes dark and wild, the Doctor swallows. Something here, the relief of tension, the promise of later, or maybe just his incomplete recovery, has driven him to an intensity of feeling far beyond his usual, and Jack wants to explore it. One side of his mouth curves up, and on a breathless laugh he says, “I can try.”

“That’s what we do here,” Jack agrees, and lowers his head to lick the long line of his lover’s throat.

He can't lie still, it seems, but his movements are aimless now, his head tilted back. “You burn,” he sighs, “so bright, Jack… Captain, Captain, burning bright, in the forests of the night…” Happy to play the tiger, Jack smiles and bites carefully at the Doctor's throat as he opens the Doctor's shirt with one hand. He sets his hand spread wide on the cool skin of the Doctor's belly, feels him press upwards, trembling.

“I love the way you shiver when I touch you,” Jack says quietly, thumb stroking ticklish skin. He rocks his hips, pushing gently against the Doctor’s thighs. “I love the way your collar sits so neatly around your throat.” Beginning at the notch of his collarbone, he licks the Doctor’s neck again, up to his chin, nips along the line of his jaw. “I love when you moan like that, like you need me, like you could never get enough of me.”

“I do,” the Doctor gasps, “I never could.”

Momentarily speechless, Jack groans quietly and rests his cheek against the Doctor’s. He unbuttons his own shirt and lets it hang open, trailing teasingly over the Doctor’s skin with every movement. “I love -” Cool fingertips brush across his chest now, pinch a nipple, slide down toward his aching cock, and Jack pauses to catch his breath. “I love the way your hair falls across your face, I love when you open your eyes -” He does, and Jack forgets what he is doing, why he is drawing this out. “Desperate,” he chokes out, having lost track of what he was saying.

Sounding painfully so, the Doctor hisses, “Yes, I am. Do something about it, Jack.” He is trying to push himself up against Jack; failing that, he tries to pull Jack down to him. When that doesn’t work either, he fumbles Jack’s trousers open, shoves them roughly down, and wraps his hand tight and demanding around Jack’s cock. Physics can’t help him this time; Jack cries out and his hips press forward and the Doctor gasps as he is finally rewarded for his efforts.

“Don’t stop.” Jack kneels up and the Doctor frowns at him briefly until Jack opens his trousers too, working them up to his knees which are now well trapped folded above his chest. “You look amazing, perfect…” vulnerable; it’s not a common descriptor for him and the thought sets something protective, possessive, burning in Jack’s chest. The Doctor’s reply is lost to a moan as Jack rubs his thumb over the head of his cock. He fishes in his pocket for lube, holds it up. “Alright?”

“If you hurry,” the Doctor says with a glare, and Jack laughs.

“I love when you’re pushy,” he says, slicking his cock and fingers, “and I’m going to love teaching you to beg.” The Doctor presses back against his fingers with a little gasping cry, a groan as he pulls back out, and after a moment, when Jack sets his cock against him but doesn’t move, the Doctor raises his head and glares at him again. “So, go on.”

You go on!”

Jack grins. “Tell me what you want. Beg me.”

Jack. I’m not going to beg! You want it just as much as I do, go on!”

“Really? I can be very patient when I have a good reason, you know I can.” Nevermind the sight of him is maddening, skin flushed, clothing half off, desperate by his own admission; desperate for Jack. He isn’t truly fighting, either, just arguing by habit; it shouldn’t take much. Jack runs his finger lightly down the Doctor’s cock and his head thumps back to the floor. “It’s just words.”

“It’s some kind of long game, I know you -” He trails off as Jack nudges forward teasingly. Of course it is, but the endgame is hearing deliciously filthy things from the Doctor’s lips, nothing more.

Jack pulls the Doctor’s legs up against his shoulders, sets a single fingertip against the head of his cock. It slides back and forth, just a few millimetres, with the movement of their breathing; his belly tenses as he tries to find some leverage but Jack doesn't allow him any. “I just want to hear you. Say: I want you to touch me, Jack. Please touch me.”

Swallowing hard, the Doctor takes a breath. “I want you to touch me, Jack, please -” Not as patient as he had claimed, Jack’s hand slips down eagerly over his lover’s cock and the Doctor loses his words in a garbled exclamation, fingers clutching at the floor.

“Say,” Jack says, panting, feeling like he is burning up, left hand clamped on the Doctor’s thigh to hold him in place, right hand stroking steadily, “I want you to fuck me.”

Staring straight into his eyes, the Doctor says, very seriously, “If you don’t do it right this moment you will regret it, I swear to you,” he is trying to push himself against Jack, but he hasn’t said it yet and Jack will be damned if he gives up now. “Just fuck me, gods, you insufferable ape, please, Jack, I want you to fuck me-eeee -” Jack only doesn’t laugh at the evidence his brain hung for a moment there because his own brain does too, sparks between his ears as he thrusts forward, finally. He is tight and eager, so eager, but Jack eases in, working his cock a little deeper each time. The Doctor, once started, hasn't stopped talking, a flood of bitten off words, please and oh and Jack, his head turning restlessly. When Jack’s hips meet his arse he pauses to enjoy the sight, the feel, of his lover writhing against him. The Doctor flails a hand at him and Jack catches it, entwining their fingers. Now lacking a hand on his cock, the Doctor moans piteously. “Please don’t stop.”

“You have a perfectly good hand,” Jack points out breathlessly as he starts moving again. “It’s a really high-quality hand, I can tell you from personal experience -”

“Like yours better,” the Doctor sighs, but the difference can’t be too bad; his eyes unfocus and he relaxes, moving in time with Jack. That rare feeling of oneness stretches; Jack closes his eyes for a moment, trying to etch it deep in memory, the start of a new life here, together. The Doctor is making beautiful noises beneath him, so close already, and Jack feels the tension winding tighter in the pit of his stomach, coiling up his spine, sizzling in his nerves. He leans a little harder against his lover’s legs, speeds up, and suddenly the Doctor's eyes fly open and he is shouting, bucking under Jack, caught by surprise by his orgasm. Jack follows him, thrusting wildly for a moment before everything shatters; he bends the Doctor nearly double as he strains forward, crying out, catches himself on his hands. Feeling like he's been turned inside out, wrung out, he hangs his head and gasps for air before dizzily pushing himself back upright.

“That was wild,” he mutters, shaking his head. “Are you alright?”

“Good,” the Doctor says vaguely, staring at the ceiling. “Well done, yes.” A little scrambled, but probably alright; Jack smiles, feeling fairly well done himself. The begging is going to need some work, but he will be happy to demonstrate as needed. Careful not to lose contact, Jack pulls out, lets the Doctor’s legs down, runs steadying hands over thighs and flanks still trembling with aftershocks. He licks the Doctor’s belly clean to an accompaniment of soft moans and restores their trousers to a semblance of normality.

“Still alright?” Jack wants nothing more than to curl up with his lover in bed, but they are nowhere near one. Poor planning; although he couldn’t have anticipated how shattered the Doctor would be.

“Still alright,” he echoes, sounding a little better. Lying down on the floor, Jack pulls the Doctor into his arms. It won’t be the first time sleeping in the console room for either of them; the TARDIS is the best comfort, sometimes. The Doctor snuffles as he burrows into Jack’s shoulder.

“Sleep, anwylyd.” Jack holds him tight, and hums along as best he can with the TARDIS’s song.