Fandom: Doctor Who
Beta: The lovely starxd_sparrow
Disclaimer: Doctor Who doesn't belong to me. What a pity.
A/N: This was written for the Ninth Doctor Ficathon. My request was provided by honorh
I'm sorry I didn't manage the Superphone as a projectile.
This is my first time writing Nine and only my second Who fic, so I apologize in advance.
Also, I wasn't sure if honorh wanted the shameless PWP between our three heroes so I opted to leave it alone. If you do, just let me know and I'll gladly write it. :)
When they were together they were unstoppable. The three of them united could save the universe from whatever threat - alien or otherwise - that was thrown their way. Sure, most people didn’t understand the connection, the desperate need for the three of them to remain together, but most of the time they didn’t understand it themselves. People accused them of being arrogant, childish, or just bloody weird, but all comments were taken in stride.
This is why it was a cruel irony when they became separated. That was the one thing that none of them could bear, an indescribable torture that none of them wanted to think about.
They had been running. The Doctor had Rose’s hand safely tucked in his as he pulled her along, and Jack was following behind them, his blaster armed and ready if anyone dared to get too close.
He had stumbled, his blaster falling into the mud, his arms flying out to steady himself as the black sludge seemed to pull him further towards the earth.
“Jack!” The Doctor’s sharp call caused him to jerk his head up.
“Go on, I’ll catch up!”
“We’re not going to leave you!” Rose called back.
However flattering her declaration was, there was no time. Jack and the Doctor both knew that. Jack struggled against the mud, but immediately went still when felt two hands wrap around his biceps and heard a soft order being given.
“Doctor, you and Rose,” Jack began his voice hard and angry. They should have left him. Rose must be kept safe at all costs, and the Doctor, the last Time Lord, was irreplaceable.
“Shut it,” the Doctor growled as he waited for Jack’s body to go limp before pulling him out of the quicksand-like mud. “You’d have never gotten out if you kept fighting like that.” Jack had known better than to fight the pull of the thick sludge, but in the heat of the moment, keeping a level head was always easier said than done - especially when one was fighting to get back to the most important people in one’s life.
The voices were approaching, the fast falling footsteps of an alien army drawing ever closer, as the Doctor grabbed Jack’s arm and Rose’s hand and started pulling them along. It didn’t take much encouragement for the trio to start running again. Running was one thing they had gotten very good at over the last few months.
It was Rose who slipped the next time, her foot catching on a twisted root causing her to fall to the ground in an undignified heap. The ache in her ankle was instantaneous as she collapsed on the forest floor and struggled for breath as waves of pain swept through her body. The cold realization struck her like ice water being thrown on her face; there was no way she could keep up now.
“Rose, are you hurt?” The Doctor was kneeling next to her, his face appearing calm, yet his eyes giving away the obvious concern. “We’ve got to keep moving.”
“My ankle,” she murmured as she brushed her fingers across the already swelling pale skin. Jack, his face now mirroring the concern which was so evident in the Doctor’s eyes, scanned Rose’s rapidly swelling ankle and silently berated himself for losing his blaster when he fell before. If he could buy the Doctor a few minutes, maybe he could do something about Rose’s ankle.
“We can carry her,” Jack offered. He offered her a small smile and raised his eyebrows casually, but his typical playful tone wasn’t there. If they were going to die, might as well do it with Rose in his arms.
“I’ll just slow you down,” Rose stated softly as she glanced between Jack and the Doctor. “You two are going to have to leave…”
“What is it with you two?” the Doctor grumbled. “Always wantin’ to be left behind. I’m going to start developing a complex if this keeps up!”
“I was just sayin’…”
“Well don’t say it,” Jack snapped. Sure, he was stealing some of the Doctor’s thunder, but the idea of Rose being left behind was just ridiculous. Leave Rose behind? Yeah, not in this lifetime.
“Lean against me,” the Doctor commanded as he tried to help Rose to stand. Jack was on the other side, his arm wrapped protectively around her waist as she tried to place all of her weight on one foot.
The trio took a couple of shaky steps forward, but the voices were close now. The angry yells were surrounding them, alien faces were emerging from the shadows, and there was no where to run.
The Doctor stopped, his blue eyes scanning the faces of the encroaching aliens, and vainly attempting to figure out a way to keep his companions safe. He released Rose, using his hip to press her against Jack, and stepped forward.
“Doctor, what are you doing?” Jack growled.
“It’s me you want,” the Doctor stated with a nod as the leader stepped forward and identified himself. “Leave them and I’ll go quietly.” The Doctor gave a half crazed grin that left both Jack and Rose leery.
The alien leader, a species which the Doctor had yet to identify, nodded one of his three heads, and motioned for the Doctor to be taken away.
“Doctor, no!” Rose attempted to step forward, before a shot of pain rocketed through her body leaving her light headed and weak. Jack caught her easily, drawing her body against him once more. They watched silently as the Doctor was led away.
They were not silent when they were pulled apart and led in different directions.
Time has a weird way of standing still when you’re alone with your thoughts. The constant worry for those you care about grips your heart like an impenetrable vice. Jack had lost count of how long it had been since he’d seen the Doctor or Rose.
Maybe a day, maybe two…
He wasn’t sure.
He couldn’t remember how long he’d been alone in his cell. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d eaten or slept. However, he could remember the moment he wanted to die.
“Your friends are gone,” Alagreme, the three-headed alien stated, as he pushed open the cell door. “They were of no use to us.”
Rage, frustration, loss, and an incredible feeling of sadness all fought for control as Jack stumbled towards the alien guard. Of all the most brutal ways he could imagine of killing this alien, none would come close to making this creature feel even an ounce of the pain he was feeling.
“You are of no use to us either.”
“You are no use to us.”
“So why’d you bother fixin’ my ankle then?” Rose snapped after the cell door opened.
“You need not suffer needlessly,” the guard muttered as he shook his three heads at her. Humans. They really didn’t understand.
“Suffer? You took away the Doctor and Jack! How’d you think I feel now?”
“Your friends were of no use to us.”
“Yeah, you keep sayin’ that. Where are they?” she demanded as she placed her hands on her hips. She was done worrying about her safety. She’d been in this cell far too long, and the only thing that could possibly fix the ache in her chest was being reunited with the Doctor and Jack.
“They are gone. If you are of no use then you must be eliminated.”
Leaving the cell door open, the three headed alien turned and walked out. If he had stayed, Rose was sure the creature would have been able to hear her heart breaking.
“You are not who we thought you were.”
“Yeah, gathered that,” the Doctor barked as he glared at the creature who appeared on the other side of the steel bars. “All this for mistaken identity,” the Doctor growled as he shook his head. “You could have asked, you know.”
“You were running from us. What we were supposed to think?”
The Doctor ran his hand over his short hair and resisted the urge to tug his own ear out of frustration. For an underdeveloped race, they were making far too much sense.
“Next time don’t start shooting at people before you ask questions. We’d have been apt to stick around longer.”
One of the head’s nodded and a long arm gestured for the Doctor to leave the cell.
“Right, I’ll be on my way then. My friends, you lot left them alone, yeah?”
“We brought them back to scan. They were of no use to us.”
“I’m of no use to you either. What exactly does that mean?”
“They were eliminated.”
“They were WHAT?”
The alien disappeared down the corridor and behind a steel door before the Doctor could respond. The Doctor beat on the door that the alien had retreated behind and got no response. He briefly considering finding a way to blow the place all to Hell, as Rose would say, but decided he needed to find the TARDIS first.
He left the facility noting the fact that he saw no living creature, alien or otherwise, which was probably for the best. The Doctor prided himself on his ability to disassociate himself from the situation, but mess with something or someone he cared about, that could cause a chain of events that he didn’t care to think about.
Rose, his beautiful Rose… Eliminated? That simply couldn’t be possible. And for nothing? Because she was of no use? He definitely needed her, even more than he cared to admit.
And Jack… The fighter, the loyal hero to the end, the man that was definitely bigger on the inside. Jack wouldn’t have gone down without a fight. Jack who had seen and done so much definitely deserved better than this.
And as always, it was all his fault.
He wrapped his leather jacket tighter around his body, forcing one foot in front of the other, as he struggled his way through the jungle back to the TARDIS.
Rose walked through the forest, somehow managing to pick her feet up and step over the various roots and plants that were growing in the earth. There was no joy or happiness behind her movements. She was now simply surviving only because the Doctor would expect her to.
The Doctor and Jack had refused to leave her earlier and she hated them for their stubbornness. If she ever saw Jack again, she’d probably slap him for his efforts…and then hug him, and kiss him…and do many other devious things to him. The same would go for the Doctor as well.
The TARDIS appeared in front of her, the same blue box as always. She reached out and pressed her hand to the side.
“M’ so sorry,” she mumbled as she pressed her face against the cool exterior.
At that moment, she’d have given anything to have them back.
She was so caught up in her own thoughts, she didn’t hear the rustling next to her nor did she see the figure emerging from the shadows or the blank look of shock that appeared across the handsome features.
She stopped, her breath frozen on her lips, as she forced her eyes open. She knew that voice.
She turned slowly, her eyes shining through the tears. “Jack?”
She collapsed against him, his strong arms folding around her, and they melted into embrace.
“I thought you were dead!” he cried as he pressed his cheek against her hair. Despite the fact that they had both been held in jail cells, she still smelled like flowers, like Rose.
“Yeah, I was thinkin’ the same thing about you!” she returned as she twisted her fingers around his jacket. The tears finally gave way and began sliding down her cheeks. Calloused fingers appeared to wipe the salty tears off her face.
“The Doctor, is he here?” Jack asked quietly. He didn’t want to ruin the moment, but there was still a vital part missing from their group.
“I haven’t seen ‘im. I was hoping he was with you,” she whispered softly as the brief reprieve that their reunion had allowed began fading away.
The Doctor was still missing.
“He said he was the one they wanted,” Rose murmured as she thought back to when they were taken by the aliens. “Oh God, Jack, what if they still have him? What if he’s…”
“No, don’t think like that. The Doctor will be fine. He is fine.” Jack hoped she would find his response comforting even if he didn’t believe a word of it. The Doctor wasn’t always fine even though he’d never let them see anything different.
What exactly were they supposed to do without the Doctor?
They each had a place, but it was undeniable that the Doctor was the leader, the brains, the one that drove them to constantly do better. They would be lost without him.
Rose’s hand slipped into his, unlocked the TARDIS with her free hand, and pushed open the door. Inside, Jack seemed to take control which was more than okay with Rose. The TARDIS seemed to like him enough and he knew what he was doing…most of the time.
Seconds turned into minutes and minutes bled away into hours.
The Doctor was no closer to being found.
“I think we should move the TARDIS,” Jack said finally as he reached to wipe the sweat off his forehead.
“What? You can’t just leave him here!”
“That’s not what I meant,” Jack returned trying to keep his tone light. There was no way he would ever leave the Doctor, but he couldn’t assure their safety if they remained in the forest. “We need to formulate a plan.”
Jack, the realist, knew that there was a chance, a good chance, that the Doctor wasn’t even alive. It wouldn’t take those aliens long to figure out what he was. The last Time Lord would fetch a high price in any culture.
“I’m not leavin’,” Rose said firmly and added a sharp nod for emphasis. “Think of something else.”
“Rose, the Doctor would want…”
“I don’t care what the Doctor wants! I’m said I’m not leavin’!”
Her voice was raised now, her hands clinched into small fists, her eyes burning with fury and pain. Jack understood how she felt too. God, did he understand.
He crossed his arms across his chest and stared at her. He was going to have to find a way to make her see reason.
They were locked in a silent battle of wills.
They were still staring at each other when the door to the TARDIS was pushed open and the Doctor entered.
Two sets of wide eyes turned slowly, the Doctor lifted his head to meet their gaze. It was obvious that he was just as surprised to see them.
“Doctor?” Jack asked as he shook his head. Surely this wasn’t some type of cruel joke.
“Doctor, they said you had been eliminated!” Rose cried as a wide smile spread across her face. She couldn’t stop herself from running towards him and wrapping her arms around his neck. He lifted her easily, her legs swinging behind her as he spun her around. It was several seconds before he set her back down. Jack had appeared at his side and laid his hand on the Doctor’s shoulder. The leather felt cool against his skin and he found himself savoring that feeling for the first time.
“What happened?” Rose asked. “We were afraid that…” She couldn’t bring herself to finish the sentence. The harsh reality of what could actually happen to any one of them at any moment wasn’t something that warranted thinking about. She had given that enough thought over the last couple of days. Now was the time to appreciate the fact that they had survived and they were together once more, reunited and whole.
Studying them both, the Doctor began to smile, a wide, maniac grin, before laughing. He laughed so hard that he grabbed one of the support rails to steady himself. He began mumbling about being ‘of no use’ and ‘elimination’.
“Doctor?” Jack repeated hesitantly as he stepped towards the quivering man. Rose spared Jack a concerned glance as she pressed herself against the Doctor’s side.
“We were eliminated,” the Doctor managed to state between gales of laughter. “We were all kicked out.”
“That’s it?” Jack responded flatly. “Elimination to them means we all get booted out?”
“Apparently!” the Doctor said with another fanatic grin.
“They certainly have a gift for overstatement,” Rose grumbled as she shook her head.
“Perhaps next time we should ask for more clarification before assuming the worst?” Jack questioned with a carefree grin. He reached out and wrapped his arm around Rose’s waist as his other hand remained pressed against the Doctor’s broad shoulder.
“You know what they say about people who make assumptions?” the Doctor questioned with a wink. Jack groaned and Rose smiled, her pink tongue now snuggly stuck between her teeth.
“So what do we do now?” Rose asked. She didn’t feel like letting either of them go for a long time. Jack grinned deviously and raised his eyebrow.
“I can think of a few things,” Jack responded as he squeezed Rose’s side gently and pressed his fingers into the Doctor’s shoulder.
The simple touch that they were sharing, the jokes that were being tossed back and forth, it wasn’t meant to lighten to the mood or negate that had happened over the last two days.
It was a simply a reminder. They were together again, united, whole, and happy.