Fandom: Doctor Who
Beta: The lovely starxd_sparrow
Rating: PG-13 for angst
Disclaimer: I own nothing related to Doctor Who. What a pity!
Characters: Tenth Doctor, Jack, Martha, and various others of my own creation
Spoilers: Vague discussion of all three seasons of the new Doctor Who
Summary: After the Last of the Time Lords, the Doctor isn’t coping well and decides he’s finished with…well, basically everything. Martha and Jack encountered a strange alien which has taken up residence in a child.
“Oh Doctor,” Jack murmured, tightening his grip on the shivering Time Lord. “What hurts? Tell me where it hurts.” Timeless brown eyes lifted, the color unimaginably enhanced by the unshed tears. “Please, Doctor, just tell me what hurts,” Jack begged. If there ever was a time for the Doctor to be open and honest about his feelings, this was it.
“My soul.” It was a broken response uttered through dry lips, and Jack swore he could hear his hearts – at least what was left of them - breaking a little more.
“What can I do? I’ll do anything, Doctor.” He had never felt more helpless in his whole life. The Valiant was one thing, a battle that lasted a year, but he had trusted Martha and knew that however bleak it might have been, there was a light at the end of that dark tunnel. There were so many questions, and Jack possessed no answers. “Please talk to me. What can I do? Just tell me what you need,”” Jack persisted, lifting the Doctor’s chin using his free hand and forcing him to meet his gaze.
“Soup and a sandwich,” the Doctor laughed, a burst of desperate energy, his voice dark and hollow. Oh, how he missed Jackie Tyler, the woman who wasn’t afraid to slap a Time Lord. He’d faced thousands of adversaries, and it was Jackie Tyler who scared the hell out of him.
“I’ll run to the kitchen,” Martha offered, her eyes alert after waking to the Doctor’s laugh. She spared a concerned glance at him before leaving the room. It wasn’t much, but getting food in the Doctor’s stomach was a good place to start.
“Why do I get the feeling that’s a private joke?” Jack asked even though he had a good idea of who the Doctor was referring to. He had heard of the legend that was Jackie Tyler from Rose and the Doctor. It was a shame that he never got to meet her in person.
“It doesn’t matter.” The Doctor sighed, rolling to his side to widen the space between himself and the Captain. Now that he was conscious, the physical contact was too much. His weary brain was barely keeping up with the signals the parasite was involuntarily generating. There were memories, too many memories, too much emotion, too much time.
“Oh no you don’t,” Jack chided. “I never thought I’d say this while lying in bed next to you, but we’re going to have a proper conversation. You and me and lots of talking, got it?” He prayed he could break through the barriers of that stubborn mind.
“What do you want me to say, Jack? What can I say to make you feel a little better? Shall I tell you what a wonderful job you’re doing? How you’re saving the last pathetic Time Lord? That’s what it’s all about, yeah? The Doctor off to comfort the human race again!” Bitter sarcasm dripped from his words like honey from a comb as he recoiled to the far side of the bed. He hated that Jack had to see this part of him, this dark side he kept hidden behind a typically jovial exterior. Sure, that was a part of him as well, but now, with the drain of the parasite, he was powerless to fight the emotions, to suppress the memories. This could end badly - very badly - and if the Doctor’s track record was any indication, death and destruction would most likely follow. There was still one thing he could do - better one than three should have to face whatever was going to happen. He could give Jack and Martha that much - he owed them that much.
“That’s a hell of a thing for you to say to me,” Jack growled. He couldn’t stop the anger from creeping into his words. After everything they’d been through, the battles they’d fought, the enemies they’d faced, the losses they’d overcome, he deserved better than that, didn’t he?
“If you want to feel better, go find Martha, because I’ve got nothing left.” The Doctor slid to the end of the bed and pushed himself off the mattress, his body swaying as he tried to keep his footing. His grand exit wasn’t going to be so impressive if he did a face plant on the floor.
“How much of this is you and how much is the parasite?” Jack questioned as he got to his feet. Despite his anger, he reached out his hand to steady the Doctor who looked like he’d fall over if someone coughed.
“This is all me, Jack.” The Doctor shrugged Jack’s hand off his shoulder and crossed his lean arms across his chest.
“I doubt it.”
“I want you and Martha to leave. Go back to Torchwood. That’s what you wanted, wasn’t it? That’s the life you chose, so go live it.” His voice was low, nearly menacing, as he waved his arms dramatically towards the door. Rassilion knew he didn’t blame Jack. If anything, he was more proud than he could ever put into words.
The Doctor’s mind was burning with past memories, some forgotten and some still fresh. The Time War, the brave orphaned maid Gwyneth, the courageous people who fought at battle they could never win at Satellite Five, losing thousands of humans to Cybermen, Rose being ripped from his side… There were so many. Too many. The memories were fresh, all culminating at once, all fresh in his memory as if they had happened yesterday, as if they were happening now.
It took nearly all of his waning energy to sustain his argument with Jack. The Doctor had to make him see reason, had to make him and Martha leave his side once and for all.
“Get over yourself, Doctor,” Jack snapped, his arms crossing to mirror the Doctor’s stance. He was never one to back down from a power play. “We’re not leaving.”
“It wasn’t a request,” the Doctor barked. It was his bloody TARDIS after all. He never said it was a democracy. He wondered if he had the energy to physically show Jack to the door. At this rate, he doubted he could put one foot in front of the other to walk out of the room.
“Working on it!”
Jack’s eyes widened, the statement blindsiding him completely. Dark eyes narrowed as he studied the Doctor’s similar shocked expression. Apparently that wasn’t something he had intended to say.
“Do you mean that?” Jack asked, all previous irritation gone from his voice. “Answer me, Doctor. Did you mean that?” The Doctor, after everything he’d been through, couldn’t possibly be suicidal, could he? That seemed beneath him, seemed too human. Still, the Master had blatantly refused to regenerate, had willingly decided to end his life.
“No, no, of course not,” the Doctor responded quietly as he lifted his hand to pressed his fingers against his eyes. “I just…” He sighed, his lungs aching at the enormous effort. “I want you both to leave.”
Jack opened his mouth to respond, but Martha was hovering in the doorway, a sandwich in her hand, and a pained expression on her face.
“I brought you lunch,” she offered weakly as she stepped into the room. She felt incredibly silly. Jack and the Doctor were ready to claw each other’s eyes out, and she was offering him a turkey sandwich. All those years of medical school put to good use, she thought dryly.
“Thank you, but I’m not hungry.”
“You need to eat, Doctor. You’re weak and your body is trying to-“
“I’m well aware of what my body is doing. I think I know a little more about Time Lord-“
“Okay, I’ve had enough of this,” Jack interjected as he grabbed the plate from Martha’s hand and moved to stand directly in front of the Doctor. “Sit down and eat.” The Doctor opened his mouth, a scathing remark at the ready, but Jack jammed his finger against the Doctor’s boney chest. “Doctor, I give you my word, I will cram it down your throat if I have to.” The look in Jack’s eyes spoke volumes; he was serious.
The Doctor grumbled, albeit quietly, as he took the offered food and began taking small bites. The sandwich had the consistency of rubber and tasted like cardboard. He had scraped more appealing substances off the soles of his trainers. Martha never was much of a cook, though; she was many other things. So many things, and brilliant, all of them. How much better off would she have been if she’d never met him? If he’d never offered her just one trip? Why hadn’t he insisted on one trip? Why had he let himself be caught up in that awful cycle once more? It wasn’t like he didn’t know where it would end. It wasn’t like he didn’t know better.
“What are you thinking about?” Martha asked as she leaned against the doorway. The Doctor met her gaze, forcing his mouth to chew, and saw pure, unyielding compassion staring back at him. It was more than he could stand.
The TARDIS was kind enough of move the bathroom just across the hallway, and even though he managed to slam the door closed on the startled faces of his companions, the Doctor’s retching could be heard throughout the ship.
“Jack?” Martha asked her voice soft and confused. Jack pressed his forehead against the door, forcing himself to hear the Doctor’s muffled choking, listening for any slight change that the situation was sliding from bad to worse. He’d break down the door if he had to, but he doubted it would come to that. The TARDIS would allow him entry if she thought it necessary. “He didn’t mean it, did he? Those horrible things he said, he didn’t mean it, right?” Again, Martha felt powerless. She was a bloody doctor after all, and the one ill person on the TARDIS had managed to lock himself in the bathroom. Fat lot of good she was.
“Hang on,” Jack murmured as he pressed his ear to the door after he heard the Doctor speaking between bouts of nausea. “Who the hell are Adric and Tegan?” Martha shrugged and pressed her ear to the door. They listened to the Doctor murmur names, whether they were people or planets, they didn’t know.
“I shouldn’t have made him eat,” Jack sighed as he leaned back ran his hand through his short, black hair. For a man who was always in complete control, he felt like he was fumbling around in the dark. He always felt that way around the Doctor. “I thought it would help.”
“You didn’t know,” Martha said comfortingly as she touched his shoulder. “We’ve got to get that parasite out of him. He’ll be fine once it’s gone.”
“Yeah, I’m sure you’re right.” Of course Jack wasn’t sure. If the last year and a half were anything to go on, the Doctor hadn’t been fine for quite some time. They heard the sink running, and soon the door opened slowly. The Doctor looked worse, his hair hanging in his eyes, his face gaunt and pale. All signs of the previous fight were gone as Martha and Jack wrapped their arms around his waist and assisted him back to bed.
“Doctor, we’ve got to get that thing out of you,” Jack said firmly after the Time Lord had been resettled in bed. “What planet is it? I’ll fly the TARDIS, and we’ll be there before-“
“You can’t,” the Doctor interrupted, his voice defeated. “After what happened with the Master, I’ve got to be the one that flies her.” Jack felt the ever present guilt creeping into his heart as he thought about the TARDIS. She was still healing, and he knew that Doctor wouldn’t do anything else that might damage her.
“How’s that going to work?” Martha asked flatly. “I don’t mean to point out the obvious, but you can barely stand up.” The Doctor sighed, his foot sliding out from beneath the covers, before Jack placed his hand firmly on his shoulder preventing any further movement.
“Just rest, Doctor,” Jack ordered. Someone had to take control, and due to the Doctor’s current condition, Jack knew it had to be him. “Take a nap, I’ll take a look at the TARDIS and see if she needs any repairs. When you wake up, we’ll see if you can hold down some food, and then we’ll try to get off this rock, okay?”
It was a testament to how the Doctor was feeling when he didn’t argue and offered only a weak nod.
“Go with him, Martha. I’ll be fine,” the Doctor said as he closed his eyes. Martha glanced at Jack, who nodded, and they left the room together.
“The TARDIS will tell us if something is wrong,” Jack stated. He knew the TARDIS would sell the Doctor out in a second if his wellbeing was at stake. It was another reason why he loved this ship.
“Something’s already wrong,” Martha muttered as she sat on the floor next to the console and watched as Jack laid out several tools.
“At least he’s not trying to throw us out anymore.” Jack figured if the Doctor was feeling a little better, he and Martha would have been shown to the door. He doubted they would have been able to stop him either. If the Doctor’s mind was made up about something, it was near impossible to change it.
“It was a futile effort anyway.”
“Yeah,” Jack returned with a smile. “Yeah, it was.”
They worked in companionable silence as Martha handed Jack the tools that he requested and he tinkered underneath the console. She usually got the correct tool the first time around too.
“Do you think he wants to die?” Martha asked after she handed Jack the sonic lance he requested.
“I don’t know,” Jack replied as he pushed himself further underneath the console. He had been replaying the argument he’d had with the Doctor over and over in his mind. “We don’t know what that parasite is doing to him. We’ll have to wait and see what happens after it’s gone.” Jack figured that was a rational response to a legitimate question.
“He’s been through so much.”
“We all have,” Jack responded as the bolt he was working with clicked into place.
“But we talk about it,” Martha stated as she leaned against the wall. “We’ve got friends and family that care about us. Who does he have?” Jack sighed and wiped the sweat off his brow using the back of his arm. He, like Martha, and figured the Doctor would take another companion immediately after leaving Earth. It was common knowledge that the Time Lord hated to travel alone.
Their conversation was cut short as the Doctor stumbled into the control room and grabbed the support rail as his knees gave way beneath him. Jack heard the Doctor lose his footing and knocked his head on the wiring panel as he tried to slid out from beneath the console.
Martha was on her feet in a second and purposefully strode towards the Doctor. “What are you doing out of bed?” she demanded.
“Doctor, you’re in no condition to be up and moving around,” Jack chided as he wiped his hands on his jeans, his eyes never leaving the Doctor who was struggling to remain upright. He instantly recognized the look of staunch purpose and extreme stubbornness in the Doctor’s brown eyes.
“We’ve got to leave now,” the Doctor stated as he let go of the support rail and stumbled towards the controls. He used the momentum of his fall to make it across the room and grabbed one of the levers to steady himself.
“There’s no way you can-“
“The parasite is dying, Jack. I don’t have a choice,” the Doctor stated as he dropped to his knees in front of the controls.