Chapter 1 – Home coming
Jack’s heart almost leapt from his chest when he heard the sound he had been waiting for for years, fill the HUB.
Without thinking he ran towards that sound and sure enough the police box materialized before his eyes. When he was three feet away the door flew open and a voice called to him. “Hurry up and get in!”
Jack didn’t even hesitate; it didn’t even penetrate his mind that he didn’t recognise the voice from inside. It didn’t matter.
He shut the door and leaned back against them as he felt the TARDIS resume its flight.
He could just see the Doctor obscured by the control column, as he franticly fiddled with dials and leavers. “Sorry it’s a quick jump in and grab, but I couldn’t afford leaving the TARDIS near the Rift when it’s only recently been closed.” The voice sounded almost accusing.
Jack leaned his head back against the wooden doors, closed his eyes and just drank in the atmosphere. He had longed for this, the smell of the Doctor that permeated every inch of the ship along with her own smell of oil and ozone. The sound of her softly beating heart as she moved through time and space almost of her own accord.
“Home” he whispered, caught up in the moment of heady excitement.
But it wasn’t to last, the smile faded from his lips as the emptiness in his chest once again let it’s self be known. The despair, anger and loneliness seeped through his very soul turning everything black as it had been for such a long time.
“You left me…” The words escaped his lips in a strained whisper.
A head popped around the control column, at first all Jack could do was blink, this wasn’t the Doctor he had known, this was a younger, taller, thinner one. He would have been truly surprised if he hadn’t finally been given access to all the Torchwood files on the mysterious Doctor. There were lot of him on file, all claiming to be the same man, and this was one of them, they had photographic proof. But as to which one it was, in relation to his Doctor, he didn’t know, neither did he care.
This one obviously knew him, or why pick him up?
He shook himself then stormed up the ramp and without another word he shoved the Doctor in the chest, sending him reeling back.
“What you do that for?” the Doctor accused as he rubbed his sore chest, sounding perplexed.
Jack couldn’t keep the anger in check, after everything that he had been through over the past few days, his nerves were beyond being held in, he was exhausted and so tired…
“You left me!” he roared this time, his fists clenched, ready to use them, “You both fucked off and left me on that bloody station!”
The Doctors eyes were very round as he gawped like a goldfish a few times.
“Bastard!” Jack seethed out through clenched teeth, then without another word he fled to the sleeping quarters of the TARDIS, found the room he had used so long ago and flung himself inside. The only little relief he gleamed from it, was that no one had used it since he had left, everything was still the way he had left it, like it was only yesterday he was there…
But it wasn’t yesterday for him, it had been a lifetime, or more.
Finally, he let the events of the past few weeks take their toll as he crumpled onto the bed, sobbing out bitter tears at all the things that had gone wrong and all the things that he couldn’t change, however much he wished.
+ + + + + + + + + +
It was some time later before there was a tentative knock on the door, and the new Doctor stuck his head in.
“Umm…” he said, looking like a naughty school boy. “The TARDIS seems to have a mind of her own at the moment, so I thought you might like some tea?” the last was said with a little half smile as he held a tray out. “I even bought some Hob-Nobs you were so fond of.”
Jack couldn’t help but smile a little at the peace offering and waved the other man in as he sat up slowly from where he had been half dozing on the bed. After his outburst, for the first time in years, he had actually managed to shut his eyes and loose himself a little to unconsciousness.
The Doctor slowly walked in and placed the tray on a small table by the bed. Nothing was said as he poured the tea into odd coloured mugs, put in the right amount of sugar and milk, just the way that he liked it, then with a sheepish look he handed it over.
Jack was rather happy that his hand didn’t shake as much as he thought it would as he took the mug of hot liquid.
Taking a sip, he watched the Doctor pour his own and look around awkwardly before sitting down in the chair by the table.
“So…” The Doctor finally said, looking everywhere but at him. “How have you been?”
Jack couldn’t stop the cheerless smile that came to his lips as he looked away from the stranger sitting across from him. “I came alive on the game-station, it took a few days to get found, took longer to steal myself a time ship, looked for you for a few dozen years, crashed on earth about eleven years ago, managed to get myself caught by Torchwood, interrogated for a few more years before I got command of Torchwood 3 Cardiff… Shot in the head twice, saved the earth a few times, then finally you came…” he said in a rush, it was a speech he had been preparing for a long time, granted the last he just tagged on, but it left him feeling hollow. He looked back up at the Doctor to find dark brown eyes staring back at him intently. “How about you?” he said.
He watched as the Doctor seemed to shake himself before answering. “Well.” He breathed, trying to look all business like. “Rose came back after looking into the heart of the TARDIS, she destroyed the Dalek’s. To save her I took the time vortex into myself. Died. Came back as ME!” he said with a bright smile. “Ran about the universe a few times, killed some Cybermen in a parallel universe, killed them again with a lot of Dalek’s.” Jack watched as the light suddenly went out of the Doctors eyes. “I lost Rose that day. Did you know?”
Jack nodded, he had read the Torchwood tower files once they had finally cleaned up, had mourned bitterly when he had read Rose’s name on the list of people MIA. He had hoped, but as time went on that hope, as all other hopes he harboured, had died.
“She’s not dead…”
Jack’s breath caught in his throat at that, as he looked back into those large sensitive brown eyes. He was about to ask more when the Doctor held up a hand for silence.
“She’s also beyond our reach… she’s…”
The pain and loss he saw in the other man’s eyes almost made him move, but he resolutely stayed where he was.
“She’s in a parallel universe now, with Jacky and her dad from there, ohh and Mickey the idiot.” The smile didn’t meet his eyes. “She’s safe now.”
“So she survived?...” he asked softly.
“Yeah…” a flicker of a smile. “So anyway, the TARDIS picked up some Bride, we killed a Spider Bitch and saved the Earth, then I dropped her off and well… as they say, the rest is history.”
Jack just smiled at that, he had also heard about the incident in London. He took another sip of his cooling tea. Then the silence fell between them, it seemed an age before Jack finally said what was in his heart.
“I’ve been waiting for you…” he whispered into his mug. “Every time you came back I could never get there in time… and when you were here before, in Cardiff, I couldn’t risk meeting myself.” He heard the bitterness enter his voice even though he had thought he had cried that out a few hours ago. “You made a mess of my base by the way, it took a few months to get back up and running again after we fixed all the cracks.”
He heard the Doctor chuckle at that, “You were there too. Don’t blame it all on me!”
Jack felt the bubble of humour and couldn’t help but laugh; those had been the happiest days he could remember. Him, Rose and the Doctor that they both revolved around. The laughter soon died.
“I…” he heard the Doctor say softly, “I only just found out you survived.”
Jack flinched as he looked back at the Doctor, who raised his own eyes from his mug to stare at him, loss stark in his eyes. “I heard you die. When I found out I went back. But you were already gone. All the leads dried up and I couldn’t seem to get to you, always the same thing, until finally, your trail dried up all together.”
“How did you find me then?” Jack let out, their eyes still locked.
The Doctor shrugged, “I’ve followed the only lead I really had.”
“Lonely wolf.” He grinned, “Rose. As she left Bad Wolf across time, seemed to also leave me another trail she thought I needed to take. Finally I think the TARDIS got bored with me and in her own time and convenience, she finally brought me here… to you.”
Jack felt the back of his eyes begin to sting again, “I waited so long…”
For the first time, Jack thought he saw an honest smile cross this Doctors lips. “Do you want to come with me?” he asked so softly, Jack almost missed it.
The tears burned from his eyes as he nodded; “Like you even need to ask” he smiled back through his tears.
Leaning forward the Doctor placed a hand on his bare wrist ever so tenderly and smiled again.
Jack felt his heart beat a little bit faster, then there was a tiny echoing beat that took his breath away, literally. He managed to look up at the Doctor, and if it was possible the other man’s eyes were wider, with something akin to shock, there was no doubt he had heard or felt it too.
Jack was about to say something witty when he finally caught his breath, but before he could, his insides ignited in fire and began to convulse. Without much pride or warning he bent over his knees and vomited all over the plush carpet and his feet, he just had time to grimaces before he did it again.
All his muscles felt like they were cramping as his whole frame began to shake violently. In-between the pain and the vomiting he seemed to have gone blind. Something seemed to be tugging and pulling inside the pit of his stomach, like it was trying to break free.
The only consolation was that he knew what was happening, even if he wasn’t expecting it to be quite so savage. But there was relief in this, and maybe, just maybe, a little bit of hope?
He felt the Doctor move, then sat beside him as he was sick again, one hand went around his shoulders, the other began to stroke though his hair, the long fingers giving as much comfort as they could.
Over the sound of his retching he finally heard the Doctor humming softly, he didn’t recognise the tune, but it didn’t matter. He leaned into the offered support as much as he could, feeling a cold sweat break out over his skin.
Slowly, the shaking eased a little and his belly finally figured there was nothing else left to get rid of, leaving him felling nauseas, but blissfully free of convulsions.
As his senses finally came back, he realised that the small heartbeat inside himself was now beating again just after his own, ever so faint, but was there none the less.
As his breathing finally settled down he moved a little so he was looking up at the Doctor, who looked back at him with something he couldn’t quite read in the other’s eyes. Maybe fear or hope, Jack couldn’t quite tell, it was too late though, too late to back out now…
Of all his secrets, this one was one of the biggest.
He managed a slight smile, despite the pain still thrumming though him.
“It’s yours.” He whispered simply.
Jack watched with a bit of gleeful malice as the other man’s mouth formed an O, as a frown creased his brow in question.
“That time when Rose got us all plastered, she passed out on the bathroom floor and somehow you Did me.” He couldn’t help but grin at the vague memory he had clung to all these years, of sloppy drunken kisses, clothes half on and off, of passion so intense he had never known the like before. He had lost his heart at that moment; the happy go lucky conman had finally found what he didn’t even know he had been looking for… then in the morning he had woken alone. But the Doctor had acted as though nothing had happened as he frolicked around a very hung over Rose. He had thought he had imagined it… it wasn’t till he was found on the game-station and been given a physical that he had found out that it wasn’t a fairytale of his own making.
He watched in fascination as the Doctor blinked owlishly, “My god, I thought that was a dream…” he said in an equally stunned voice.
Jack couldn’t help a chuckle as he watched the Doctor looking like he had been pole-axed. “Yeah, me too!” he grinned, “Surprise!” but the mirth didn’t last long before it felt like his guts were being wrenched out and he doubled over again, but that only put his face closer to the stench of his own vomit, which wasn’t helping as he dry retched.
He felt the Doctor move then and tried to stop him, he didn’t want to be left alone, not now, not when things were actually back in motion again after being suspended for so long.
“Shhhh…” the Doctor said keeping one hand in his hair.
The movement of the mattress as the Doctor shifted his weight, just made his nausea worse, then he was being pulled back and on to the side. When he was finally settled, his head was resting on the Doctors lap as a soft flannel sheet was being thrown over his shivering body, those long fingers once again laced into his short hair.
Jack gripped the pinstriped material of the Doctors trousers desperately.
“I’m not going anywhere.” The Doctor chuckled, “Just rest,” he said ever so softly, “This will pass soon enough.”
Jack was about to explain that he hadn’t slept since he woke up alive on the game-station, but it was like being encased in something soft and heavy, like being smothered in comfort. It took him a few moments to realize what he was feeling.
The sound of the TARDIS seemed to intensify for a moment; its soft hum lulling through him as the Doctor’s caresses continued.
This was where he belonged, he still had questions, but they all seemed to melt away with the physical pain.
He wasn’t sure where the word had come from, himself, the Doctor or the TARDIS, he didn’t care as he slowly slipped into unconsciousness, whatever had said it, it was the truth…
- - -
Jack smiled slowly as he turned over and snuggled into the warm soft pillow below his head, he felt, rather than saw, the lights in the room slowly brighten.
He scrunched his eyes up, not willing to let the light invade quite just yet, he was about to drift off again when his stomach give a gurgle demanding to be filled and sooner rather than later.
With a groan he turned over onto his back and slowly opened his eyes to find himself staring up at an unfamiliar ceiling.
With a start he sat bolt upright and began looking about the room he found himself in.
He was sitting in a large double bed, which was covered with comforters from different ages and galaxies, all in deep rich colours and sinfully comfortable. The rest of the room was littered with shelves and bookcases, none of them matching. Some were filled with old books and others with odd bits of stuff, from small statuettes to bits of metal. Jack had to blink, a few dolls and soft toys on some in various stages of decay and some in mint condition.
Slowly he moved to the edge of the bed, letting his feet out from under the covers, that was when he realized he was only wearing light blue pyjama bottoms, running his hand over the butter soft flannelette knowing they weren’t his, he didn’t think he even owned any.
As he wiggled his toes into the opulent fur rug that sat at the side of the bed, a pile of clothes carefully placed on a pouf caught his attention.
He reached over and found the top of the pyjama’s which were just as soft, and if anything, too large for him, but for lack of his own clothes and anything else resembling a wardrobe or drawers, he pulled it on.
Standing up … or at least trying to, he fell back onto the plush bed with an oomph.
His legs felt weak and shaky, he lay there panting for a bit before finding the strength to try again.
With the help of the bedside table that had a glass of water on it, he managed to heave himself onto his feet. He had to wait for the dizziness to pass as his stomach once again gurgled. Picking up the glass he downed the cool liquid, feeling it wind its way down like a blissful balm, it would keep him going until he found something to eat at least.
Feeling a little better he managed to stand on his own, picking up the only other piece of clothing on the pouffe, a heavy blue and silver brocade dressing gown. It took a bit to get it on with shaking fingers, but he managed it in the end and it felt great and warmed his cool skin wonderfully.
Holding on to the furniture in the room, he slowly made his way over to the door, it opened just as he reached it, much to his relief, because he really wasn’t feeling well.
As he made his wobbly way into the corridor he finally realized where he was and why.
He leaned against the wall of the TARDIS and smiled. Just at the end of the corridor he saw a door that stood open leading directly into the heart of the ship where he could hear someone clanging about. As quickly as he could he made his way into the control room.
Once he made it up to the metal grating he gave a little polite cough announcing his presence to the legs that he could see.
Instantly the Doctor stopped whatever he was doing beneath the console and with a flurry of motion Jack found himself being held by the elbow and guided over to the double seat just to his right.
He was relieved to finally get off his feet, “Ahhh thank god for that, I feel like I’ve been dragged though a few thistle bushes backwards.”
The Doctor chuckled, “You have been asleep for three days.” He said as he sat down besides him on the seat.
Jack blinked, “That might explain why I’m so hungry then.” He groused as his belly let him know it was still there as it made an embarrassingly loud noise.
“Stay there!” The Doctor said as he jumped to his feet and ran off in the direction of the kitchen.
Jack couldn’t help but chuckle to himself as he waited; it was kind of strange having someone actually take care of him a little.
Before he got bored the Doctor came back in carrying a tray carefully, Jack was about to take it when the Doctor pulled it away a little and made a tutting noise. He held the tray just before his lap and seemed to press something on the underside; suddenly the tray grew legs until it was firmly planted on the floor at the desired height.
“Little invention of mine.” The Doctor said as he plonked down on the seat again. He waved his hand over the try. “Eat before you pass out.”
Jack just shook his head as he looked down at the meal, a mug of steaming hot tea and a glass of orange juice took up the top right side, top left was a moist slice of carrot cake topped with icing, and for the main course, a huge slab of roast beef, Yorkshire puddings, roast potatoes, peas, carrots and cauliflower cheese, and all smothered in a rich smelling beef gravy.
He looked over to the Doctor with a questioning smile on his face.
“Well…” he drawled, “You seem to like all that 1940’s stuff, thought you might like the food too, and well.” He cast his eyes away, “it’s all full of nourishing goodness.” Then in a whisper. “You’re eating for two now... so…” he trailed off, his large brown eyes looking up at him sideways almost shyly if it wasn’t for the grin.
Jack felt his heart beat a little faster as he gave an answering smile. “So long as I don’t loose my figure, I could get used to this.” Then he picked up the knife and fork and dug in with gusto.
As he ate he tried to ignore the eyes on him, but every now and again he found himself glancing sideways, and grinning as he chewed. The Doctor was watching him intently, as if he were thinking about something, but only gestured at Jack to carry on eating before he could ask what was on his mind. He was dying to ask questions, but knowing the old Doctor as he had, he was also preparing himself for getting not very many answers, if any at all.
He was washing down the last of his carrot cake with some tea when the Doctor finally spoke.
“Want to know what I’ve been doing these last few days while you’ve been sleeping?” he said with a quiet voice, “In my bed, may I add.”
“And very comfortable it is too.” Jack answered as he leaned back, he was finally sated and it felt wonderful, even if once again he was feeling a little sleepy as he digested his food. “So…” he said moving so he could face the other man more comfortably. “What were you doing while I slept?”
“Do you know anything about your ancestry?” the Doctor asked his face serious.
Jack shrugged, it wasn’t something he really wanted to talk about or even remember, but he figured he would have no choice. “Not really.” he huffed. “I vaguely remember my mother leaving me at an orphanage when I was small, she said she would be back, but she never was…” He couldn’t look at the Time Lord anymore, as his eyes stared at the console unseeing.
“She never said anything about her people, or your fathers?”
Jack shook his head, “I was just told she said she would be back, I was only there for safe keeping until she came back… she…” He bit back his emotions, this wasn’t like him at all, and he wasn’t sure he liked it.
He felt his hand, which rested on the seat, covered by a long fingered hand; he focused on the Doctor who smiled with empathy.
“I did some research.” The Doctor informed him. “I managed to get classified files from the Time Agency you worked for… I know why you lost two years of your life…”
Jack’s jaw dropped as his insides went cold. “Wha… how?”
The Doctor just shrugged, “The TARDIS seems to only want to land in ‘safe’ places now… and, well, I had nothing else to do while you were asleep, so I popped in and took what I needed… Also,” he gestured to Jacks mid-section. “I needed to find out HOW this happened.”
Jack looked down and placed his free hand over his abdomen. “What do you mean?” He asked, managing a small smile, “Two people have unprotected sex and boom, one of them’s pregnant.” When he looked back at the Doctor his face was nothing but serious again, his face stark of almost all emotion.
“I can’t get just anyone pregnant.” he said softly, his hand slightly squeezing Jack’s to emphasis this fact. “I’m from Gallifrey, we can only really impregnate those of our own kind, well, that’s when we did actually get together to populate the species.”
After a moment’s silence Jack just laughed, though it came out harshly, “You trying to tell me I’m a Time Lord?” he said incredulously.
The Doctor gave a half smile and shook his head. “Not really… but that brings me back to my main point… your lost memories.”
Jack felt suddenly restless and wanted to stand up and pace about the control room, but the Doctor’s hand acted as an anchor, keeping him seated.
“You actually found out most of the information yourself. Illegally using your privileges, you found out about your own history. As far as I can understand, they wiped your memories as punishment.”
Jack wasn’t sure if he was in shock or not, his mind was spinning at the speed of light, but he didn’t have a thought in his head.
“So anyway.” The Doctor continued in lecture mode, “Your mother actually was from Gallifrey, I knew her by the name of Lilly, only met a few times, she was rather fond of the Earth too as I remember.” His eyes seemed to be looking at another time and place, before he continued. “But your father… Well, he was from Kerrafrey, one of the planets that Gallifreyans populated millennia ago, got cut off for a bit, then ended up just like humans, almost a backwards race in comparison. They never got the chance to gain intergalactic travel, never mind Time travel…” he then took a deep breath. “Your mother left you to fight in the great time war with the Dalek’s… and well, no one survived, not even your father, or his people… I’m sorry.” He trailed off.
Jack couldn’t sit any longer, he pushed the tray in front of him aside, and it jiggled to one side without toppling. Getting to his feet he began walking blindly around the control room, then around the corridors of the TARDIS. He wandered past what was his room when he had shared the ship with the other Doctor and Rose, but he didn’t linger long before moving on again.
Finally he stood inside the room he had woken in, the bed was still rumpled, the empty glass sill besides the bed.
He felt tears stream down his cheeks. He had always hoped that his mother would come back for him, that he would find her somewhere alive and well, that she would welcome him with open arms… He still remembered her face as she told him to be a good boy. Her hair was long and blond, and he had liked stroking it and sucking on it as she held him close. The sound of her soft singing and the noise of the ship’s engines slowly pulsing used to lull him to sleep.
The noise of the ship…
He gasped as he turned to look at the Doctor who stood by his side, he hadn't let go of the man’s hand as he had traipsed about the ship.
This was why the TARDIS felt like home, from the very first moment he set foot inside her. His mother ship had sounded almost the same, the place where he had spent the first few years of his life, the only time he remembered being happy and free.
The Doctor said nothing as he freed himself, wrapping Jack in his arms, pulling him close, holding his head against his shoulder as he finally cried out all the loss and pain he had suffered over the years.
He also cried for what he hoped he had found; what he had longed for… somewhere to belong… and someone to belong to.