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FIC: Learning to Say Goodbye (4/5)

FIC: Learning to Say Goodbye
Author: NightRider
Beta: The wonderful starxd_sparrow and hence_the_name. Thank you so much!
Rating: PG for angst
Disclaimer: I own nothing related to Doctor Who or Torchwood. What a pity!
Characters: Tenth Doctor and Jack Harkness with discussions of the Torchwood team
Spoilers: The second season of Torchwood, especially Exit Wounds
Summary: Jack has difficulty coping following a great loss. This story is loosely based on the five stages of grief.
A/N This was written for the comfort challenge on tw_dw_slashfest.





Depression

Jack leaned against the metal railing, his eyes fixed on the churning sea below. The lulling waves matched the color of the gray sky as the setting sun fell behind the horizon. Gwen and Ianto had returned to work yesterday, and thankfully it had been quiet. There had been little interaction save a few awkward hugs and inane questions about paperwork. They all seemed to be going through the motions and attempting to find their way without their two colleagues.

Jack had figured the Doctor would’ve returned the night after their shared meal, but leave it to his friend to keep him guessing. Jack knew he couldn’t be mad at him, couldn’t blame him for not returning so soon. It wasn’t like the Doctor owed him anything, and to be perfectly honest, Jack knew he hadn’t exactly been good company during the Doctor’s last few visits.

After several weeks of feeling like he was barely hanging on to an emotional rollercoaster, Jack found himself drained and left feeling numb. He knew a barrage of emotions were simmering beneath the surface, but energy and the ability to express them evaded him.

Out of the corner of his eye he saw folded hands hanging over the railing that led to arms covered in a familiar brown coat. Jack had wanted to see the Doctor, needed his soothing presence, but now that he was here, Jack had nothing to say. They stood in silence for several moments.

“It’s raining.”

“Huh?” Jack asked, glancing upwards and wincing when several large droplets landed close to his eyes.

“The product of the condensation of atmospheric water vapor.” The Doctor stepped away from the railing and held his hand out, watching as several droplets splashed on his palm. “Also known as rain.”

“Hadn’t noticed.”

“Obviously,” the Doctor replied, grabbing Jack’s hand and pulling him along. Jack thought it would be weird to hold the Doctor’s hand, but the gesture was strangely comforting. If anything, it prompted his feet to move when his mind refused to cooperate.

Jack didn’t register that the Doctor somehow knew about the secret entrance to the Hub. He didn’t feel the Doctor pulling him out of his soaking wet coat nor did he feel the warm towel being wrapped around his body in attempt to sop up the excess water.

The Doctor pushed Jack into a chair and returned minutes later with a steaming cup of coffee. Jack hadn’t moved.

“Drink that,” the Doctor instructed, wrapping Jack’s hand around the handle of the mug.

Jack stared at the cup for several seconds before sipping the hot liquid. “Ianto’s coffee is better,” he mumbled without thinking.

“Maybe you should tell him that,” the Doctor replied, leaning against the desk and crossing his legs at his ankles.

Jack found himself suddenly defensive. “Ianto does more than just make coffee.”

“I’m sure he does. Perhaps you can tell him that too.”

Jack wanted to glare at the Doctor, but he couldn’t muster up the energy even for that. Slumping lower in his chair, Jack’s gaze drifted to the floor. “You’re trying to make a point, aren’t you?”

The Doctor picked up a random piece of alien technology that had been discarded on the table in the “no idea what this is” pile. “What do you think?”

“I think it’s a little late for a therapy session.”

The Doctor pulled his screwdriver from his coat and started dismantling the black oblong shaped instrument he’d picked up. Whatever it was, it obviously wasn’t something he thought Torchwood needed. “Is it also too late to tell your team what they mean to you?” he asked without lifting his eyes from his work.

Jack’s eyes narrowed and in the same moment he knew why the Doctor wasn’t looking at him. There were some things the Doctor wouldn’t discuss, gray areas about human emotions he always avoided, but Jack wasn’t in the mindset to appreciate the Doctor’s honesty or willingness to talk. The wounds were still fresh. Jack’s semblance of control was waning and his pain was barely concealed.

Jack wrapped his arms tighter around his damp sides, his jaw muscles tensing. “In case you’ve forgotten, half my team is dead.”

“Half your team is still alive.”

Jack sighed, somehow finding a way to sink lower in the chair. “I’m a bad leader. I get that, Doctor. Any other pearls of wisdom you’d like to share to me?”

The Doctor wiped the metal bracket he’d removed on his coat and reattached it to the other end of the object. “You’re not a bad leader. Even I’ve followed your plans before. You know that doesn’t happen every day.”

“But…” Jack let the word hang in the air.

“You’re better than me, remember?” The Doctor’s hands gripped the metal tighter than necessary, his knuckles turning white as the blood drained away. “Don’t make the same mistakes I have. If you wait –“

The Doctor rubbed the back of his neck, his eyes staring at the forgotten object in his hand.

“If I wait I’ll end up as a holographic image on a beach in Norway?” Jack asked, knowing his response was cruel. He wondered how far the Doctor would take this.

“A beach in Norway, an alley in Cardiff, one of a hundred funerals that never should have happened –“

Jack swallowed with some difficulty. “Doctor, I –“

The Time Lord lifted his hand. “You have a long life ahead of you, Jack. I don’t want you to spend it regretting what you should have done, what you should have said.”

There was something in the Doctor’s voice that forced Jack to hang on every word. “Even if I screwed up?”

The Doctor sighed, dropping the piece of alien technology on the table and running his hand through his hair. “You’re going to make mistakes, Jack.”

Jack dropped his face his hands, his fingers pressing against his eyes. “I miss them,” he whispered.

The Doctor’s reply was soft and spoken from lips that understood what it meant to lose so many people he loved. “I know.”

Jack’s chest ached from the gnawing sensation of loss. He leaned back in his chair. “So what happens now?”

“Now you try to get some proper rest.”

Jack wondered if the Doctor thought he had come up with an original idea. Despite how badly Jack’s weary body craved a few hours of precious sleep, the idea of being left alone with his thoughts was enough to make barely suppressed tears burn the backs of his bloodshot eyes.

The Doctor stepped forward, stretched out his arm and wiggled his fingers in a silent invitation. Jack realized he wouldn’t be going unaccompanied. He wouldn’t have to face this alone.

After climbing down the ladder, Jack stood awkwardly in the corner of his modest room. The Doctor waited until Jack met his gaze then started removing his coat in short, deliberate movements. Jack felt a cool hand on his shoulder and was steered until he was seated on the bed. He watched his shoes being tugged off with detached interest. He felt as if he was somewhere else, someone else, when he was pushed against the pillows.

The Doctor didn’t speak when he stretched out beside Jack after toeing off his trainers.

Minutes ticked by and Jack tried to think of something to say. He’d already told the Doctor about his long lost partner from the Time Agency, about the heroic deaths of Tosh and Owen, about Grey and his plot for revenge. Was there anything left to say? Anything left to do that he hadn’t already done?

Jack felt a cool hand on his arm, pulling him towards the Doctor. Another hand slid underneath his head and soon his cheek was resting on the Doctor’s chest. He felt dampness beneath his cheek; the Doctor’s shirt absorbing tears that he didn’t realize were falling, as a steady hand massaged the back of his neck.

A broken sob escaped parched lips, and Jack wrapped his fingers around the Doctor’s shoulder. The constant pressure remained on his neck, a second arm wrapping around his waist.

Anchored to this moment by the steady beating of two hearts, there were no expectations and no one he had to protect. There was nothing left to say, and now, in this stolen moment of peace, Jack could finally allow himself to grieve.

Acceptance

Comments

( 48 comments — Leave a comment )
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souleswanderer
Aug. 5th, 2008 01:12 am (UTC)
Wonderful job of showing just how numb one can be to outside influences when you hurt that bad. Jack doesn't realize it's raining, and has to look up even as the Doctor assures him it is. I do love the rain, not only does it hint at depression (title!!) but it's also very cathartic in that it's cleansing and leaves behind a freshness.

The Doctor provides Jack with that same feeling...one can almost hear him murmur in Jack's ear.."Let it go--"

You've captured mind-numbing superbly...Jack just watches the Doctor, subconciously knowing what's going on yet, conciously his body is unable to respond.

And yet you still just brush along the surface leaving more for us to feel and empathize with.

I'm so glad you posted this today :) I needed a rain shower, and the Doctor comforting Jack leaves me a pile of goo...

Dismantling the alien piece of technology--he just has to keep busy doing something.

Thank you for sharing!

/huggles

G
nightrider101
Aug. 5th, 2008 01:17 am (UTC)
As you know, I love a good rain shower. It's something else we have in common!

I'm so glad this chapter worked for you. I'd like to think that Jack has progressed to the place where he'll accept physical comfort for the Doctor.

And yet you still just brush along the surface leaving more for us to feel and empathize with.

Thank you! That's high praise indeed. :)

I appreciate your thoughtful comments and kind words so much. It means the world to me!
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nightrider101
Aug. 5th, 2008 04:18 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad to hear that this story made your day a little better. ;) I know what it's like to work those long shifts.

Yes, part five will be the final chapter. There's always other fics hiding in the back of my mind. :)

Thanks for the kind review!
daisyrainwater
Aug. 5th, 2008 02:37 am (UTC)
I almost went to bed and missed this exquisite story. Read the whole thing so far; it's beautiful.
nightrider101
Aug. 5th, 2008 04:17 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much!

I'm thrilled that you're enjoying it.
mysteryimmortal
Aug. 5th, 2008 09:13 am (UTC)
I really think this is something that could happen for Jack... great job at writing it
nightrider101
Aug. 5th, 2008 04:20 pm (UTC)
After everything Jack's been through, I think he needed time to grieve. :)

Thank you for taking the time to respond!
torn_eledhwen
Aug. 5th, 2008 09:16 am (UTC)
Nicely-drawn parallels between them. If anyone can understand Jack at this point, it is the Doctor.
nightrider101
Aug. 5th, 2008 04:22 pm (UTC)
Thank you!

Yes, the Doctor and Jack have so much in common. More than they even realize, I think. :)
petit_fox
Aug. 5th, 2008 01:09 pm (UTC)
Ohhh! The last image was so strong and sad! I could picture Jack and the Doctor so well. Being in bed with each other (well, not in THAT way ^^) It was beautiful. And I'm kind ahappy for Jack that he was finally ready to grieve. The whole part was full of Jack being apathetic. But that was okay. I mean... this part was called depression after all.

But Jack was rude too.

“If I wait I’ll end up as a holographic image on a beach in Norway?”

This line made me flinch inside. And kudos to the Doc! He is so genereous and very patient with Jack. That makes him even more tragic and wonderful.
It seems to me as if he regrets all hi mistakes but wants to make sure Jack won't do them too. *sigh* And by the way: I liked the idea of Jack and Ten standing in the rain. I don't know but I'm not only a sucker for Ten/Jack (as you know ^^ ) but for scenes in the rain too. You almost can feel it and then... the Doctor being so sensible with Jack... cute.

Unfortunately... the next part is going to be the last part! To follow all those stages was interesting. It showed another aspect btween the relationship of Doc/Jack. Very intensive and strong.

Happy to read the last part!
nightrider101
Aug. 5th, 2008 04:30 pm (UTC)
You know I can't handle too much angst without having a cuddle somewhere along the way. ;)

Yes, Jack was rude. When that line appeared on my screen I got chills. He's hurting and the Doctor has handled Jack's grief far better than I would have.

The next and final chapter will be acceptance. :) Hopefully all the Doctor's hard work will pay off!

Thanks for the wonderful review. I always have a little fangirl squee when I see that you've responded. You're so kind and generous with your feedback!

I'm going to consult with the muses after this story is finished and see about more Scorched Food. ;)

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aschicca
Aug. 5th, 2008 01:13 pm (UTC)
Such a beautiful new chapter... so full of emotions and pain and yet I felt somehow better knowing Jack had the Doctor there to help him through this moment. I wish he could have him in canon too... *sighs*

I loved the hug at the end and I adored this bit “You’re not a bad leader. Even I’ve followed your plans before. You know that doesn’t happen every day.”... I'm such a sucker for Nine references *G*

Amazing story, did I ever tell you that? *squishes*
nightrider101
Aug. 5th, 2008 04:26 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I can't imagine Jack after the TW finale without the Doctor around to help him. In my world there's lots of comfort! LOL Of course there's lots of angst too. ;)

YAY for Nine references! I'm so glad someone caught that! I should have known it would be you. :D

Amazing story, did I ever tell you that? *squishes*

I think you did, but you know I never get tired of hearing it. *hugs*
skullgirl013
Aug. 5th, 2008 02:31 pm (UTC)
Oh this is beautiful I really like this series.
Youve really captured how it feels to greive for someone and youve written it so well in both Jack's actions and the things he says to The Doctor.
Keep up the good work!
nightrider101
Aug. 5th, 2008 04:31 pm (UTC)
Thank you for all the lovely comments! :)

I'm thrilled to hear that you're enjoying this story. Thanks again!
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vail_kagami
Aug. 5th, 2008 04:08 pm (UTC)
So sweet again. I can't tell you often enough how much I love this story.

It would be easy to bring in all the loss and pain the Doctor has suffered, but he wouldn't mention it and this story is about Jack. Still you remind us of all that, without moving it into the focus of the story. Very well done.

The Doctor staying with Jack for once, offering some comfort through his presence, was great, but made me feel a little sad, because no one ever forces the Doctor to give in like that. (It probably wouldn't work with him, though.)

It seems to me that with every chapter the Doctor stays with Jack a little longer. I'm looking forward to the conclusion of this story.

Also this helped me through another few paragraphs of homework. However will I manage the remainging pages scheduled for tonight...?
nightrider101
Aug. 5th, 2008 04:34 pm (UTC)
You know it was very hard for me not to drift over to the Doctor's pain and feelings of loss while I was writing this. You know how much I love my hurt/comfort focused on the Doctor. :) I'm glad you could feel empathy for the Doctor while the focus was kept on Jack.

Also this helped me through another few paragraphs of homework. However will I manage the remainging pages scheduled for tonight...?

I'm so glad I could be of service! :D I've got faith in you that you'll be able to finish what you need to tonight. You're more dedicated that I ever could be!
(no subject) - vail_kagami - Aug. 5th, 2008 06:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
shinodabear
Aug. 5th, 2008 07:34 pm (UTC)
Speaking of fics that give you a good cry . . . *sigh* Killer line about the Dalig ulv Stranden scene. (I really just wanted an excuse to type Dalig ulv Stranden again. No, I really liked that line. Jack can hit below the belt when he wants to. It reminds me of his lines in "End of Days" when the team is turning on him.)

The beginning has to be my favorite bit, though. A great mood-setter, and the rain. Love the Doctor's explaination of it. One more installment to go. . .

*hugs*
nightrider101
Aug. 5th, 2008 10:40 pm (UTC)
Yeah, Jack is no saint either. Fanfic tends to idolize him - not that I don't. ;) It's almost like he can do no wrong. But either way, he still has his faults. I do love my flawed heroes. He's also pushing because he's in pain. At least the Doctor, king of RUN AWAY!, understands that.

Thanks for the lovely review. It's always so nice to receive your feedback! :D

*hugs*
the_summoning_d
Aug. 5th, 2008 10:17 pm (UTC)
Oh, Jack. That's absolutely beautiful, but so sad...
nightrider101
Aug. 5th, 2008 10:37 pm (UTC)
Huh. I thought this was the most comforting chapter yet! :P

Thanks for the kind review. I appreciate it.
gnatty_bug
Aug. 6th, 2008 11:29 pm (UTC)
That was so freakin' beautiful! *Sniffle* And fantastic!
<3
Yay cuddles!
nightrider101
Aug. 7th, 2008 01:46 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! :)

I do love a good cuddle. ;)
ophitewrites
Aug. 7th, 2008 05:13 pm (UTC)
Just read all four parts in one go and am impressed. It's like you're inside Jack's head, you describe so well how he struggles with what's happened.
And I love the last scene here, it almost broke my heart.
nightrider101
Aug. 7th, 2008 09:58 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much!

Yeah, the last scene was my favorite. :) Jack's not the only one that needs a cuddle! :D
sarkywoman
Aug. 7th, 2008 09:32 pm (UTC)
I actually put off reading this for a couple of days because it's heart-breaking, but this part was actually wonderfully sweet.

I would say more, but I have to go and figure out how to start your birthday story.
nightrider101
Aug. 7th, 2008 09:58 pm (UTC)
Awww! I hope this last part gave you a bit of comfort. :)

So do you have Skype on your new laptop? I miss chatting with you!
(no subject) - sarkywoman - Aug. 7th, 2008 10:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
laurab1
Aug. 9th, 2008 01:00 am (UTC)
Oh, I love that. That hug at the end... :)
nightrider101
Aug. 9th, 2008 02:20 am (UTC)
I'm a sucker for a hug. :)

Thanks for the review!
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