Work Header

Too Long Have We Tarried

Work Text:

Out of sequence

This was a Doctor Jack didn’t know.

He thought he knew all of them up through his current Doctor, the one with the floppy hair and the bowtie. He hadn’t met them to speak to, of course, but he’d seen photos of them all, from the grouchy grandfather to the stiff cricketer to the Victorian gentleman. He’d kept his distance, but he was sure he’d know any of them on sight.

Which meant that this Doctor, the dark-haired, handsome, Ascot-wearing one who currently had Jack pushed up against the side of the TARDIS and was kissing him, kissing him, was from Jack’s future.

This was a heartening thought. Jack let himself relax into the kiss. It was more frenetic than Jack would have expected. This Doctor kissed like he wanted to crawl inside Jack. He knew Jack’s hotspots well, too; his hand was stroking gently at the spot on Jack’s hip that always made him shiver. And yet the kiss seemed to be the end, rather than the means.

At last the Doctor let him go with a sigh. He leaned his head against Jack’s shoulder. “Jack, Jack, my Jack,” he murmured, thumb still moving against the skin of Jack’s hip.

“Am I?” Jack whispered.

The Doctor lifted his head to look him in the eye. “Not yet,” he admitted. “But you will be.”

“Which one are you?” Jack asked. How long do I have to wait?

“Lucky Thirteen,” the Doctor said with a smile. “But you’ll be mine long before I’ll be me.”

“Oh,” Jack said. He swallowed. “Promise?”

The Doctor nodded. “Promise.” He kissed him again, then tugged at the hand with Jack’s vortex manipulator on it. He aimed the screwdriver at it, hushing him when Jack protested, and then nodded, stepping away and slipping the screwdriver into his pocket. “There. Don’t worry, it’s just a set of space and time coordinates. For when you’re ready.”

“I’m ready now,” Jack said. He’d been ready for years.

The Doctor smiled. “Then go now.” His long fingers brushed Jack’s cheek briefly. Then he slipped around the corner and into the TARDIS. Seconds later, Jack felt it rumbling. He stepped back and watched as it wheezed into and out of existence before fading completely.

He drew a deep breath and winked out of sight.

The Doctor hates being rescued, Jack loves doing the rescuing

What the Ascot-wearing Doctor had never mentioned was that when Jack found his Doctor again, he’d be tangled up in a giant Grenfffrix’tian creeper, halfway to being swallowed. Slowly.

“Well, this is a fine pickle you’ve got yourself in,” Jack said, surveying the Doctor with his arms crossed over his chest. He couldn’t help a smirk. Well, to be fair - he didn’t really try to help the smirk.

“This? This is nothing,” the Doctor said in a strangely high-pitched voice. It was Bow-tie, which was a little disappointing - Jack still missed Pinstripes, if he were honest - but probably for the best. “I’m almost to my screwdriver, and once I’m there it’ll just need a zap or two - well, maybe three, four at the most -”

“Or I could just cut you out,” Jack offered.

“No, no, no, no! I’m fine! See!” The Doctor wriggled one long-fingered hand. “Everything is under control.” He hissed suddenly.

“Stings a bit, does it?”

“Well, that’s acid for you. As long as my bow tie makes it out, I’ll be fine, just you - oof!” The Doctor made a sound that sounded suspiciously like a squeak. If Jack didn’t miss his guess, that was the sound of an impatient Grenfffrix’tian creeper cutting off its prey’s air. The Doctor had respiratory bypass, of course, but that didn’t make it comfortable. And he’d guess that the sonic screwdriver was no longer an option.

“So,” Jack said, ambling closer, “still have everything under control?” The Doctor glared, sulkily. “That’s what I thought.” He held up his flick knife. “May I?” The glare intensified. Jack took that as a yes. Swiftly he sliced two of the vines holding the Doctor’s hands in half. Two more made a swipe for him, but he dodged them long enough to slice through the vines holding the Doctor’s feet. From there it really was just a matter of zap zap zap with the sonic, and then the Doctor was free, tweed jacket, bow tie, and all.

“Well, then!” the Doctor said, adjusting his tie. “That was invigorating.”

Jack raised an eyebrow at him. “I’d say it was nearly regenerative.”

“Well, aren’t you cheeky,” the Doctor said, glaring. “All right, all right, thanks for the rescue. I appreciate it.”

“My pleasure, Doc, as always.”

“I know,” the Doctor said wryly. “Anyway, if you don’t mind my asking - what are you doing here? Right place, right time - it’s too much of a coincidence, and I don’t believe in coincidences anymore. Usually I find out later it was my future self meddling.” Jack quirked an eyebrow at him. “Blimey, don’t tell me - why do I keep doing that?”

Jack shrugged. “I guess you like how things turn out.”

“Spoilers,” the Doctor warned him.

“Yeah, yeah - but you know,” Jack said, “the thing about spoilers is that sometimes they’re nice in moderation. Sometimes they whet your appetite for what’s to come.”

“For the next series of East Enders, not for my personal timeli -”

The Doctor stopped speaking. Mostly because Jack had kissed him. Jack didn’t push his luck, just laid one on him and then let him up for air. “See what I mean?” he said, smiling.

“Yes,” the Doctor said faintly. “I think I do.”

Filling his shoes

Jack drifted, halfway between waking and sleeping. He was in his bed on the TARDIS, warm and safe. He could go back to sleep if he wanted, or he could just stay here, content.

Someone slid into bed behind him. Long, lanky limbs wrapped around him. No scratch of tweed. Linen, soft, well-pressed. The faint whiff of cologne. Hands with familiar calluses skimmed his body beneath the blankets, and then a voice, that beloved voice from a lifetime ago, before he had lost everything, said his name: Jack. Jack.

“Mm,” Jack murmured, too sleepy to fully waken. He remembered a hot room, a lead wall. There had always been that wall between them, always.

“You were never wrong,” the voice murmured. “Uncomfortable, maybe, not but wrong. I should never have said that. The universe needs you. I need you. Strong Jack. Beloved Jack. My Jack. I’m so proud of you.”

Jack made a noise and sank into arms that had never held him, let the body roll him over and cover him, rock them both into the mattress as they had never done - and he believed, believed, that perhaps the voice was right after all. Perhaps he was not wrong. Perhaps he had been loved.

Jack was alone when he woke, the sedative finally wearing off. The Doctor, ever the gentleman - well, sometimes the gentleman - had cleaned them both up, so Jack just pulled on pajama bottoms and went to find him.

He was in the console room, of course, and back in his regular tweed and bow tie. Jack spied him tinkering through the glass floor and went down to sit next to him. The Doctor rolled himself out and sat up, looking at him. “Thank you,” Jack said at last.

“Did it help?” the Doctor asked.

Jack nodded. “I think so. I just . . . I needed -”

“Closure,” the Doctor said. “It’s all right. I understood.”

“It’s not that I want him back.”

“It’s okay if you do,” the Doctor said gently. “It wouldn’t hurt my feelings.”

Jack was silent. “I miss him,” he confessed at last. “We missed our chance, and I wish - I wish either of us, both of us, hadn’t been so afraid. But what we have now,” he said, looking at the Doctor, “I wouldn’t trade that for anything.”

The Doctor smiled, a little ruefully. “Not even for a second chance with him?”

Jack shook his head, smiled, gently pressed the pad of his thumb to the Doctor’s bottom lip. “No, not even that.”

Never in a million years

“Well, this is something I never thought I’d see in a million years,” Jack said, leaning back against a jet in the whirlpool. It was perfectly centered to work out the knots in his lower back. The Doctor, who had sunk down in the water until it covered his nose, raised his eyebrows. “You. At a pleasure resort. Actually relaxing and not fomenting dissent or whatever it is you do.”

The Doctor opened his mouth in protest, produced a torrent of bubbles, and came up sputtering like an indignant cat. Jack grinned. “I don’t randomly foment dissent,” the Doctor informed him. “I foment dissent when dissent is called for.”

“Of course,” Jack said soothingly. “Anyway, I’m very impressed.”

“So I noticed,” the Doctor said cheekily, casting his gaze down under the water.

Jack frowned. “How can you tell? There are bubbles!” He swiped his arm across the surface of the water in demonstration.

“I could taste it,” the Doctor said. “When I was under water.”

Jack’s arousal, which had been simmering along at a very pleasant level, abruptly intensified. “Taste it?” he managed.

The Doctor nodded, flicking some of the suds away from himself. “Water molecules, zinging around in there from place to place. Loud and clear, if you’re me. Might as well put up a sign: Jack’s turned on. Not that I blame you - we are naked in a bathtub.”

And he did have a lover with respiratory bypass. “Hmm,” Jack said speculatively. “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”

“I’m thinking you’ll have to return the favor,” the Doctor said, but he went to his knees in the center of the tub with flattering alacrity.

“With oxygen,” Jack specified.

“Humans,” the Doctor sighed. “How do you lot get by?” He ducked under water before Jack could reply and took Jack into his considerably cooler mouth. Jesus Christ.

But Jack was nothing if not flexible. He adjusted. He leaned back against the porcelain of the tub, feeling the steady flow of the jet at his back and the suction of the Doctor’s mouth on his cock, watching the clouds as they scuttled across the broad green sky overhead. And he thought, Never in a million years did I think I could be this happy.

“In a beautiful pea-green boat”

The Doctor let the doors of the TARDIS close behind him. Outside, Jack had already left to go find his eleventh self. Inside . . .

Inside it was very quiet.

The ship hummed at him comfortingly, and the Doctor smiled up at the Time Rotor. He hung his coat on a coral strut and made his way slowly down the hall to the medbay.

The rejuvenation tank was lit up reassuringly in the corner. The Doctor checked all the readouts - everything normal - and then sat on the floor, pressing the palm of one hand against the glass. He couldn’t see anything inside; it was a swirl of dark, dense gases. But somewhere in there was Jack. Jack dust. As much Jack dust as the Doctor could find after the accident on Teler XII nearly ten years ago now.

It was probably selfish to want him back so badly. He and Jack had had hundreds of years together, and Jack might like a rest. But it could be hundreds more before Jack came back on his own, and the Doctor had found that none of it really seemed to have a point without him.

Sometimes it wasn’t so bad; he took companions and traveled and got into scrapes and got out of scrapes, just as he always had. But sometimes, like this morning, he woke up and the universe felt so empty without the man he’d lived with and loved for so long. Usually he just came in and sat here like this, with his hand pressed against the glass. Today it hadn’t been enough.

“You were so young,” he murmured. “You could hardly believe I’d want you. I think the only reason you believed me at all was that I told you I already had wanted you.” He swallowed, remembering the touch of the younger Jack’s lips to his own, thrilling after so long. He’d been too intense, startled him, but he couldn’t help it. “You kissed just the same, though. Just the same.”

He’d thought about stealing him, the younger Jack. He could have stolen that Jack from himself for as long as he wanted and sent him back to the younger him eventually. No one would have known the difference. Except for him.

“Just us now,” he told Jack. “Sailing away in our pea-green boat.” He laughed weakly. “If you were here, you’d tell me I was color blind. But one bit of that silly old poem is true - we’ve tarried too long.” He leaned his forehead against the tank and closed his eyes. “Come back and dance with me, Jack. Please.”

There was no answer - at least, not that night.