Series: True/Troubled Beauty
Series tagline: How do you love someone who believes they don’t deserve your love?
Chapter: 01. When Past Lives and Current Loves Collide
Fandom: Doctor Who (10th)
Chapter Summary: The (10th) Doctor runs into a past love and is surprised to find himself more preoccupied with another past companion.
Rating: PG-13 for recalled violence
Word Count: 3300 ish
Warning: Not so much in this part but over the series there are a lot of references to other shows, actors, movies, games etc. so there may be spoilers for them.
Disclaimer: I am a lowly fan. This is FANfiction.
A/N: I started writing a vignette but it grew into a rather large fanfic and then I had to split it into sections and now the chapters have grown into double digits. Also, I started writing this quite a while ago so Mickey’s still in it.
Feedback: helps me to keep writing and keep improving and is GREATLY needed. Please?
When Past Lives and Current Loves Collide
“Rose, we’re receiving a distress message. Press the blue button to put it onscreen.” Rose is slightly shocked by the Doctor’s harsh, urgent, commanding tone but then he smiles, trying to convince her that it is all just an adventure and not that people desperately need their help. He knows it’s the latter; he feels it and can’t ignore it. Rose presses the button.
“Please help….” The message is highly damaged, barely comprehensible but the Doctor understands. “Ship…badly damaged…scavenged by pirates. I’m fine… Captain isn’t. He hid me… protect…ship. Alive… he’s unconscious. We’re alone now, dead in the water. Please… help us.” The woman pleads, tears cleaning her smoke-stained face. He recognised her immediately.
“Isn’t that?..” Mickey starts to ask
“Yes.” He replies and is already busy with the TARDIS, working out how to rescue her.
It actually doesn’t take that long because TARDIS knows how important this is to him so she concentrates real hard and is actually accurate for once. They board the broken ship mere minutes later, where Rose and Mickey immediately run off in opposite directions. The Doctor is all alone.
This ship is big. Just a carcass now though. It’s innards ripped out and several parts of the ship burned to ash and melted metal. It’s a shame because this ship has potential, maybe it was even fulfilling it, he’ll never know now. He can’t identify the ship’s origin though and that’s a surprise. It’s unique, individual. If the Doctor didn’t know better, he’d say she was handmade but it would take years to build a ship like this and nobody puts in that kind of effort. It was probably stolen.
The Doctor searches the ship but he still can’t find her and he’s getting slightly frustrated now. He remembers the video message saying that the Captain had hidden her, trying to protect her but it’s pretty hard to rescue someone if you can’t find them! Stupid ape!
Of course, he has no knowledge as to whether the Captain is from Earth but he strongly suspects it. Humans have the uncanny knack of being the centre of trouble. Whether they’re the perpetrators or the victims, humans are bound to be involved somehow. You’d think that the universe revolved around them the way that they carry on. Mind you, he can’t help but be fond of them.
Suddenly, the woman from the video message appears from nowhere to greet the Doctor.
“It IS you.” She exclaims, as though she had been expecting him but not really sure that she’d ever see him again. “Doctor!” She hugs him but he doesn’t return it.
“Sarah-Jane” he acknowledges curtly, keeping a tight lid on his emotions. “I believe you called for a Doctor.” He jokes but knows this is no laughing matter. Sarah-Jane releases him from her grip and her expression has changed greatly: she’s no longer ecstatic at meeting an old friend, she’s now scared of losing a new one.
“He kept drifting in and out of consciousness for the first few days but he hasn’t woken up for three days now.” Sarah-Jane takes the Doctor’s hand and skilfully leads him through the labyrinth of corridors. “All our medical supplies were stolen. They took everything and the things they didn’t take they destroyed. There’s an escape pod, the Captain managed to keep it safe, and he kept telling me to use it but there’s only room for one and I won’t leave him here alone. He kept telling me to, he wants me to, but I won’t.”
“You said everything was taken, how did you manage to contact us?”
“I learned a few things when I was your companion, Doctor.” They both smile at that but soon their expressions grow more severe as they focus their minds on the present rather than the past. “I managed to adapt the escape pod so I could send a video distress but everything else was beyond repair or just … out of my league. Oh, you should have seen this ship in all her glory, you’d have loved her.”
“I bet I would have.” The Doctor emphatically agrees before adding what is really on his mind. “This is an awfully big ship for just two people.”
“It was just him before he met me. He reminded me a lot of you, you know. So full of energy and hope, yet no-one to share it with. So gifted and talented. So lonely and haunted. With you I had to keep reminding myself that you aren’t human, but with him, I had to keep reminding myself that he is. He’s amazing, you both are. He’s been so strong for me. He has nightmares and he doesn’t think I know but I do. He’s remarkable. So troubled, so beautiful.” She notices the Doctor’s silence but she doesn’t know how to interpret it: fear, jealousy, love, reflection, bitterness, anger, pain. She sees all these things in the Doctor’s eyes. All and more.
They reach the door to where the Captain is but Sarah-Jane pauses. She’s out of breath slightly yet the Doctor isn’t even perceptively breathing. “He’s a good man, Doctor. Please save him.” She begs before opening the door.
When the Doctor sees who it is he rushes over to the body and falls to his knees beside it. It isn’t just A captain, it is THE Captain. Captain Jack Harkness, the one and only (unless you count other dimensions, eras and ages). This was his Captain. His Captain Jack who has been beaten, tortured, burned, poisoned, broken and left to die.
“Rose.” He tries to call out but only a whisper escapes his mouth. He tries again and this time her name comes out in a blood-curdling, anguished, terrified scream, “ROSE!”
The Doctor doesn’t know what to do. He should but his mind is blank. He’s running on blind fear. He thinks a thousand things yet can’t pick out a single thought. He feels a myriad of emotions yet he can’t identify any of them. Except for fear. Cold, irrational, stabbing fear and it is making him paralysed.
“Doctor?” Sarah-Jane repeats again and again, with more urgency each time until she finally brings him out of his panic-stricken trance. He has to force himself to take his eyes off of Jack and look at her.
She looks afraid, scared because Jack is dying and even more terrified that the Doctor can’t save him. But there’s also another look on her face. A tender look as if she almost pities the Doctor. He doesn’t need her pity. He needs Jack.
And once again the Doctor is lost in the void in which he finds himself. It’s as if Jack’s a magnet that scrambles all the Doctor’s thoughts and senses whenever he’s too close. And it is very hard not to get too close to Jack.
But now Jack is right here: bleeding, broken, shivering. He is dying and still the Doctor can’t pull himself together. Jack is fighting for breath, shaking himself apart in his sleep, poison slowly defeating all his organs and it would only be a matter of time before it reached his heart. His untouched skin looks so pale compared to the charred skin covering over half of his body and the bruises covering about a third, and even though he’s at death’s door it’s possibly the most beautiful Jack has ever been.
“My God…” Rose gasps, stopping in her tracks and Mickey bumps into her.
“Isn’t that?…” Mickey asks.
“It’s Jack.” Rose confirms, almost not believing it, even as she say the words. But fear turns into desperation and she finds herself angry to see the Doctor isn’t helping him. “Doctor, what do we do? Doctor!”
“Erm. Right. Yes.” The Doctor tries to make the world come back into focus but it is terribly difficult. He can only focus on Jack and that makes it hard for him to think. But they could lose him if he doesn’t act soon.
“Doctor!” Rose and Sarah-Jane scream at him.
“Mickey, help me carry him back to the TARDIS. Rose, run along ahead of us and tell her we’re coming. Tell her Jack’s been badly injured and we’re gonna need the best medicines and antidotes that she has. Sarah-Jane, I need you to tell me everything you know about the species that attacked him. I need to figure out what exactly they did to him and how they did it. I need to know so we can fix it.” And with that everybody springs into action: Rose runs down the labyrinth until she reaches the TARDIS. The Doctor and Mickey drag a lifeless Jack as quickly and as carefully as they can as Sarah-Jane follows close behind, telling the Doctor all she’s able to.
“They claimed to be merchants. I didn’t recognise the ship but Jack seemed to admire it. It had a crew of five. Every single one of them belonging to a different species and I didn’t recognise a single one. Jack welcomed them onboard: he’s too trusting. He knows it… but he just can’t help it.”
“Sarah-Jane.” The Doctor scolds, his voice choked. He doesn’t need to hear this.
“I don’t know how I can be any help to you, it all happened so fast!” she cries and the Doctor regrets berating her but Sarah-Jane knows his reasons why better than he does so she continues with her account. “They turned nasty. The blue one hit him on the head, knocked him unconscious. The orange one tied me up at gunpoint whilst the others went about scavenging the ship. K-9 was resting. Jack had exhausted his batteries playing with him so he was recharging. He should have been safe.
“They made Jack watch as they raped his ship, as they tore her insides out, as they stole her parts, as they burnt what parts of her they couldn’t steal. And he watched. He didn’t say a word but I could see how much it was hurting him. He put so much time and care and love into this ship but he watched them crudely rip out her innards and he didn’t do a thing. I know he could have, but he didn’t.” Sarah-Jane notices a silent tear falling down the Doctor’s cheek even as she tries to prevent her own.
“He didn’t act until they took K9. He snapped the rope and broke free. They had underestimated his strength. There were two aliens guarding us, the same ones that had tied us up and he took the orange one out no problem but the blue one was a lot more difficult. He beat Jack pretty badly, I’m sure I heard a few of his ribs crack but Jack just kept on fighting. The alien stabbed him with the spikes on his arms, dripping with this green ooze, but Jack still somehow found the strength to win. He untied me and showed me where to hide. Then he was gone.
“I don’t know how long it was until I came out of hiding. The ‘merchants’ were gone and taken those Jack had rendered unconscious. The fires were out. I found Jack collapsed next to an escape pod he’d manage to save. He was drifting in and out of consciousness, apologising again and again for losing K-9 and saying he’d let me down, repeatedly telling me to use the escape pod and leave him behind. He drifted into a coma a few days later and that was when I used the machinery from the escape pod to send a video distress message.”
“Doctor, he’s… he’s stopped breathing!” Mickey shouts, and then they wordlessly place Jack on the ground. The Doctor knows what he must do. He gives Jack the kiss of life, and prays it is enough.
It’s been seven minutes of the Doctor giving Jack his breath then pounding his chest to keep the oxygenated blood pumping around his body but the Doctor refuses to give up. He sees the pitiful looks both Sarah-Jane and Mickey are giving him but he doesn’t care. He won’t give up. And all his hard work pays off.
This time, the Doctor doesn’t rely on anyone else. He just slings Jack over his shoulder and runs to the TARDIS himself. He’s there before Mickey or Sarah-Jane.
“It’s been three days and he hasn’t moved.” Rose whispers to Mickey whilst leaning on the doorframe, looking in at the Doctor but not entering the room.
“I can still hear you though Rose.” And perhaps his voice is more severe than he intended but he has more important issues occupying his mind. He’s been sitting by Jack’s bedside for three days now like Rose said. The TARDIS has cleaned Jack up; given him a medical shower and fresh hospital-style garments, his old clothes being unrecognisable after being blood-soaked, burned and torn; She found the antidote alien poison, the Doctor administered it; he’d stopped the bleeding, reset his bones, restored his badly burnt skin all using his sonic screwdriver. Jack should be awake now. There’s no reason for him not to have regained consciousness. Except maybe he didn’t want to.
He still has nightmares though, and it hurts the Doctor to watch but he can’t leave Jack all alone. All he can do is try to comfort him through touch and meaningless words, which Jack never even seems to notice. But no matter how futile it appears he still has to try and comfort his friend whilst he’s twisting and struggling in terror, trapped in a nightmare he can’t seem to wake up from. Or won’t.
“How is he?” Mickey expresses a vague interest because how Jack is affects the Doctor and how the Doctor is affects Rose and Rose is Mickey’s real concern.
“He won’t wake up.” The Doctor’s voice is loaded with a multitude of emotions. “I don’t get why he won’t wake up!”
“He will.” Rose replies confidently. “He’s got to.” The Doctor’s face goes pale as he has a flashback of her misguided confidence just before Jack marched off to his death fighting the Daleks.
It has been six days since they answered the distress signal and Jack is still unconscious, the Doctor is still by his bedside and the TARDIS still isn’t moving.
Sarah-Jane had settled in, fast becoming reacquainted with Rose and Mickey; alleviating the boredom Rose feels, mothering both of them with cups of tea, entertaining them of anecdotes of her time with the Doctor, her journalist work or K-9. She never mentions Jack, and it isn’t until now that Rose finally asks her.
“How did you meet him, the Captain, anyway?”
“It was shortly after you left me, a few months later. I was investigating a bout of UFO sightings. He was actually the one causing it. He loves his ship but she isn’t exactly reliable. The invisibility thing was acting up and as great a mechanic he is he couldn’t fix it without the right parts and for some strange reason that happened to be in Cardiff. He detected K-9 and instinctively knew I’d been in space before and asked if I wanted to go again. How could I refuse him?”
“You couldn’t.” Rose says with complete understanding before adding with a twinkle, “Nobody can resist that Harkness charm.”
“Huh.” Mickey huffs. “I don’t think he’s all that charming.” Rose smiles at that.
“He had you laughing at his jokes and eating out of the palm of his hand thirty minutes after you’d met him.” Rose tries to tell him through the laughing fit and Mickey tries to refute it but he can’t. So he sulks instead.
“You know, I hope he does regain consciousness soon so I don’t have to listen to you two anymore. I mean, Jack’s got to survive. Seriously, if it’s just you two and the Doctor, I’m getting off at the next stop.” Mickey tries to laugh but the others are really missing him and the TARDIS is silent for a bit.
“Tell me more about him.” Rose asks, almost pines, softly.
“He is SUCH a romantic.” Sarah-Jane smile lit up.
“Did he lay it on proper thick like he did with me?” Rose laughs. “I remember he rescued me, hanging from a barrage balloon during the blitz in Britain. We ended up dancing on the roof of this Chula ship he had at the time, parked outside Big Ben, drinking champagne.”
“I feel cheated, he never tried anything like that with me.” Sarah-Jane insists trying to look shocked before adding, “although he did take me to this planet, K-PAX, when both of the suns were setting. It was such a beautiful sight.” She sighs. “He’s taken me to some of the most amazing places, we’ve met the most wonderful people…
“I reckon he was lonely.” Sarah-Jane says suddenly and it strikes a nerve with Rose. She thought she had understood Jack well. She understood his need of approval, especially from the Doctor but she generally thought that Jack really was as happy and as secure as the image he portrayed. She realises now that she was just naïve.
“Do you know the real reason he took me onboard?” Sarah-Jane continues and Rose puts on an intrigued look. “I told him about my past, and about the Doctor, and the TARDIS. And he was appalled that the Doctor had left me behind. I told him that I had asked to be left behind but Jack thought the Doctor should have come back for me later. Jack’s the kind of man who always makes time to revisit old friends, the ones he remembers, anyway. He understands that once you’ve visited the stars that it’s hard to be content with less. I had grown content but he said I shouldn’t have had to. He took it upon himself to take me to the stars. I talked about the Doctor all the time. Jack never mentioned him. I never knew.”
Two days later and Jack is tossing, writhing and screaming. But he is still asleep, and the Doctor is still watching over him.
Everybody else has given up on Jack. They’ve never said it but the Doctor knows. He understands it up to a point. He knows a part of Jack has given up on himself too. But the Doctor won’t. Can’t.
“K-9!” Jack screams as his beautiful blue eyes fly open.
“It’s okay Jack. You’re safe. You’re here now.” The Doctor tries to reassure him but Jack isn’t listening.
“Where’s K-9! I’ve got to save K-9!” He screams, tears staining his face. “I’ve got save Sarah-Jay”
“She’s safe.” The Doctor says abruptly and that seems to get through to him. “She’s here.”
“Where is ‘here’ exactly?” Jack asks, wiping the tears from his eyes.
“The TARDIS. We picked up a distress signal Sarah-Jane sent from your ship.”
“My ship? I told her to use the escape pod. I told her to leave me. She should have left me, Doctor.” The Doctor feels a surge of emotion at Jack calling him by his name. Also slight surprised Jack realised he was the Doctor, what with him regenerating since Jack saw him last, but Jack has always been clever. A little suicidal but still a genius.
“You underestimated her.” The Doctor states simply before tenderly adding, “You underestimate yourself.”
“You’ve been unconscious for 11 days. Drifting in and out of consciousness for a few days before that.”
“Wow!” Jack yawned. “If I’ve been asleep for that long, why am I so tired?” The Doctor doesn’t reply, too busy lost in the images of Jack suffering from his nightmares to respond. “Don’t worry, I’ll just have a shower, maybe some coffee if that’s okay with you and TARDIS then I’ll fix my ship and be out of your way.” By the time the Doctor has regained his voice, trying to protest, Jack has already stumbled out of the room and is gone.
*End of Chapter One*