ext_4029 ([identity profile] wojelah.livejournal.com) wrote in [community profile] wintercompanion2011-01-31 11:58 pm

Wojelah: Passing Through Gethsemane (Ten/Jack) [R]

Title: Passing Through Gethsemane
Author: [livejournal.com profile] wojelah
Challenge: Resolutions
Rating: R
Pairing: Ten/Jack
Spoilers/Warnings: Through End of Time and Children of Earth
Summary: “Why?” Jack says. He’s done pulling punches. He’s done waiting for the next monologue. It’s not the Doctor’s turn this time.
Notes: Title is actually stolen from a Babylon 5 ep. There's no other relation, though. :)

---

Alonso had been sweet.

Jack hadn’t been looking for sweet. Not that he hadn’t enjoyed it. Not that he hadn’t taken time to leave a note on the dresser, in the small hours of the morning, smiling at the sated, sprawling shape under the covers. Not that he hadn’t been careful - before, during, after - careful of Alonso, of himself. Careful not to let a one-night fling leave wounds.

Jack has learned to be careful of others. He just didn’t learn it fast enough. Not this time.

Alonso had been sweet. Like Ianto. Like Tosh. Like Gwen, for that matter - and even like Owen, underneath it all and when he could be arsed. Like Grey, before. And like all of those before him, Alonzo doesn’t deserve what’s lurking behind Jack’s smile.

He knows he’s grieving; knows it’s guilt and shame and loss roiling deep in his gut, but he also knows it’s anger, down in the pit of his belly, hot and bitter and heavy, that chases him out of Alonso’s bed. Because Alonso was meant to be a gift, or a reminder, or a comfort. Jack had seen the Doctor’s face. That message had been clear.

And that means the Doctor had known. He’d known about the 456, known about all of it, and he hadn’t come.

Alonso had been a confession.

Jack doesn’t care about confession or absolution or resolution. He just needs to know why, and the pressure beats and builds and burns in his chest like the question’s tearing its way out of him.

Alonso isn’t an answer. But now Jack knows where to look for one. Or at least who has it.

---

He waits. He searches, and he guesses, but mostly, he waits. Jack waited over a hundred years on Earth with nothing but a hand in a box. Now he has an entire universe of resources and nothing but time. He has no doubt he’ll find the Doctor. Not this time. Not when it’s his only goal. So he mines for information and does a little thinking and he ends up back on Women Wept, in the same small, abandoned outpost shelter they’d used when it was the three of them, the Doctor and Rose and Jack, and he waits.

It takes six weeks, by Earth reckoning.

---

The Doctor knows Jack’s there before he’s more than a few steps out of the TARDIS door. He can see it in the set of the Doctor’s shoulders and the sudden stiffness in his spine. Immortality’s a disadvantage in more ways than one. It doesn’t matter, though. Jack left the shelter as soon as he heard the engines; she’s not parked more than three feet away. He’s had more than enough time to slip out the door and between the Doctor and the TARDIS. He’s leaning against the side by the time the Doctor starts to turn around.

“Why?” Jack says. He’s done pulling punches. He’s done waiting for the next monologue. It’s not the Doctor’s turn this time.

The Doctor pauses, caught in profile. Behind him, the great frozen wave looms in the distance, soft and blue-silver-white in the moonlight. Jack can’t read his face well when he finally does turn around. “Jack,” he says, low and rough. “Not now.”

Not, why are you here, or why, what?, or even, least desired, I’m sorry.

“Oh,” Jack answers, straightening up. “I think now’s perfect. After all, I can’t die and you’re a Time Lord. Anything that might be a problem can just be rescheduled.” He means it to bite. The Doctor’s face, what he can see of it, doesn’t move, but his eyes flick to the side, glinting in the blue half-light. “Don’t you dare tell me you haven’t got the time.” He doesn’t mean his voice to slip on the last word, doesn’t mean to lose his carefully light tone, doesn’t mean to let it scrape down into something raw and acid. He’s good at things he didn’t mean to do, apparently. “So I’ll just ask you again.” He saunters forward, hands jammed in his coat pockets, hiding his fists. “Why?”

“Don’t,” the Doctor says, and another, younger Jack would have stopped at the iron behind the word. A Jack without Malcassairo behind him, without London and Cardiff and Steven behind him, might have turned away.

Instead, Jack’s so close to the Doctor that he can see the rise and fall of his chest; can see the rapid double-flutter of his heartsbeat just next to his jacket collar. He makes himself unclench one hand and reaches out, taking the Doctor by the shoulder. His grip isn’t tight. It isn’t threatening. Were they any other beings in the universe, it would look like a friendly clasp. “Tell me why,” Jack says again, voice too soft to carry even in this planet’s frozen hush, “why you knew, and did nothing.” The cold air catches in his throat and tightens his chest. “Explain to me. Because I understand the problem of not being able to be everywhere at once. I do. But to know that the 456 had come - that they would come, that they were coming...” He swallows around the ragged edges of his composure. “You knew when I left, after the Daleks. You knew,” Jack insists, baring his teeth around the word. “And you never came. Twice.” His hand is fisted in the Doctor’s coat. He lets go, takes a step away, lifting his chin. He’s short of breath, like he’s been running for miles. “Explain it to me, Doctor.”

The Doctor hasn’t moved, not through any of it. He just stands there, watching Jack, eyes dark, tight lines etched around his mouth. “Some things,” he says, in a voice that sounds like gravel, “are fixed.”

“My grandson died,” Jack says flatly. “By my choice.”

The Doctor doesn’t move. “Some things,” he says again, in that same quiet voice, “have to happen. They cannot be changed. They have to happen.”

“I learned the rules at the Agency,” he retorts. “And even then, they could be broken.”

“For some things,” the Doctor says, “there are laws. And for some things, there is always a step too far.”

He’s so quiet, so still, and it makes Jack want to rage. He wants to pace, wants to shout, wants to come apart at the seams. But the Doctor gives him nothing to rage against. It’s like arguing with stone, when what he wants is a fight. And so he aims low, uninterested in pulling punches, rough and brutal and cruel. “Some excuse. Time Lord.”

It disgusts him even as he says it.

He turns away without trying to meet the Doctor’s eyes. “Forget it,” Jack spits. He’s still angry as hell, and an apology is somewhere beyond his reach at the moment. Whatever the point had been, what he needs, Jack thinks, is to leave. “Sorry to interrupt,” he sneers, starting back to the shelter. “Go on about your business.”

A heartbeat later, he’s pinned against the shelter door.

The Doctor’s pressed against him, one hand holding him against the wall, all that wiry, understated strength suddenly very, very clear. Jack can’t seem to breathe, but he’s not sure if it’s because he’s had the wind knocked out of him or because of the look in the Doctor’s eyes. They’re deep and dark and they’re every bit of the Doctor’s nine-hundred-plus years old. And Jack’s seen that same mixture of grief and anger and despair in his own mirror every morning. The realization catches him hard, like a knife to the gut, and it takes him a second to realize the Doctor’s speaking.

“Are you listening, Captain? There are lines. There are boundaries. They are not meant to be crossed, no matter how much you want to. Ever. You know they’re there, and you can’t even see them. You know they’re there, and you don’t know you’re living through them until they’re over.” The Doctor’s voice is low and it slices through the silent, frozen air, the words tumbling out hard and fast. “They’re monuments, great, hulking pillars in the flow of Time, and yet they’re tiny, infinitessimally so - a shot gone wrong, a letter misdelivered, a death required. So small, against the vastness of time and space, and they should be nothing, except that they’re everything, and more than everything, to the people involved. But what’s a person to the whole of reality, hey? It’s just one person.”

“Just one boy,” Jack tosses back at him, the anger still burning. The door is cold against his back, even through his coat.

“Just one boy.” The Doctor agrees, his tone relaxing into something Jack trusts much less and fears much, much more. “Shall I tell you, Captain, what I did today? Today I met Captain Adelaide Brooke.” The fingers in Jack’s lapel clench. “Recognize the name?” Jack nods. “Thought you might. Today I met Captain Adelaide Brooke on Mars, and I saved her life. Brought her home. Saved two of her crew as well. Brought them home, too.” The Doctor narrows his eyes, staring Jack down. “And I knew, Jack. I knew exactly what I was doing. Explained it, even, to the indomitable Captain Brooke herself. I saved her. Forgot about pivot points. Forgot about great honking pillars of space-time. I decided she deserved to be saved, and I saved her.”

He pauses, and Jack doesn’t dare breathe. “And do you know what happened? Captain Adelaide Brooke took her own service weapon, and saw to it that the universe was properly ordered. Herself.” The Doctor tenses. “I felt it. Felt the entire flow of time and space slosh and judder and reroute back into their proper paths. And Adelaide Brooke died by her own hand, in a cold, dark, empty house in the middle of winter.”

Jack knows it’s wrong. He knows it’s not the point. But he’s angry and he’s got his own grief, and so all he says is, “But at least you tried. For Captain Brooke.” He regrets it as soon as the words leave his mouth. Twice in one day, he thinks. A new record.

The Doctor drops his hand like he’s been burned, but he doesn’t back away. “Adelaide Brooke’s death was an immutable point in time,” he says slowly, enunciating as if for a child. “Your entire life - every event you touch - whether you have toast or eggs in the morning - everything you do, Jack, has something of the unchanging, unmoving nature of you about it. If her death caused turbulence, could you imagine what would happen if I tried reordering your life?”

Jack opens his mouth, not knowing what he wants to say, but the Doctor plows over him. “And I did try.”

To that, it turns out, Jack has no answer whatsoever.

“I looked at everything, Jack. Every option, every path, every point I could influence. Every warning I could give, every risk you could take, every choice you might make. I chased them all. And every single one ended in death and destruction on an epic scale. Planetary. System-wide. Galactic. Disasters of varying sizes, but only one where the death of one meant the survival of many. Only one where the weight of continents and worlds and galaxies didn’t fall on your shoulders.”

“This was the only possible choice?” Jack doesn’t want to believe it. He doesn’t want to see the look on the Doctor’s face.

“Would you like proof?” The Doctor’s breath ghosts across his cheek. “In one variant, I kept you with me. Didn’t let you leave, after Davros. The 456 culled Earth. Steven was in the first harvest. It was a dead planet in six generations. I came with you, in another. Met your team. Kept them from blowing you to smithereens. Once, they killed Ianto instead. Once, Gwen - you had to tell Rhys about the baby. They put out the sun, in that version, because you’d dared rebel. Once, I made the choice, and Steven died, and it wasn’t enough to save the planet, because we’d delayed too long. Once, they took your daughter, and you killed Rhys with friendly fire. Once - “ The Doctor keeps going, a flat recitation that goes on and on and on, entirely dispassionate and utterly belied by the lines carved into his face and the terrible look in his eyes.

It’s too much to process, too much raw pain for anyone to handle, and the only thing Jack wants is for it to stop. He tries, he does - asks, shouts, begs, but the Doctor just keeps talking, caught in his own reverie, his hands gripping Jack’s arms, holding him still, until Jack’s out of every option save one. Stepping closer, inside the Doctor’s arms, till they’re all but sharing breath, Jack reaches up and leans in and kisses him, hard.

It’s messy and awkward and for a minute the Doctor’s mumbling against his mouth, still talking. Only then he breathes in deep, a shudder wracking through him, and kisses back, a clash of lips and tongues and teeth that fires along every raw, aching need Jack’s had laid bare in the last twenty minutes, or maybe it’s the last twelve months - it’s too difficult to tell.

They cling, greedy and rough, fingers clumsy in the cold until Jack fumbles the latch on the shelter, dragging them in and over to the nest of blankets he’s made out of the blessedly sturdy cot. They shed clothes as they go, and Jack learns the feel of skin just slightly too cool, the texture and taste and sound of the Doctor, tumbled against rough military-issue thermals and synth-cotton worn thin with use. He learns the weight and texture of the Doctor’s cock, smooth and heavy and hot against his own, as they move together, as he reaches down and takes them both in hand, working them over with a desperate need. He learns the Doctor’s words, a stream of what must be Gallifreyan as he comes; murmured 51st-century English against Jack’s shoulder as Jack shudders against him; silent, gentle gestures as they lie together in sorrow and frustration and the beginnings of something like comfort.

---

“Some choices are unbearable,” the Doctor says at last, voice rough, like they’re continuing a conversation. Jack supposes they are. “But you have to make them anyway.”

“And then you have to live with them?” Jack asks. He doesn’t look at the Doctor’s face, but he feels a hand cup the back of his neck.

“You learn to,” the Doctor answers. “Or at least you try.”

Jack says nothing. For a long time, they just lie there, curled up in the blankets, quiet.

----

Eventually, restlessness returns. Nothing’s fixed, not really - it’s just a less tearing ache, sort of. But it’s still there, and he still knows that right now, to cope, he’s got to keep on moving. Something at least a little similar is going on in the Doctor’s head, if the tension creeping back into the body beneath him is any kind of indicator.

Jack surrenders to the inevitable and starts looking for his clothes. Out of the blankets, it’s not really comfortable to be naked. He tosses the Doctor a microflannel, claims one for himself, cleans up, and shimmies back into shirt and pants and trousers.

He’s shrugging back into his bracers when the Doctor puts a hand on the door and clears his throat. “Jack.”

“Doctor,” he says, wanting to thank him for Alonso, understanding now, or at least better than before - but then Jack realizes what he’d missed before. The look on the Doctor's face is the one from the bar. For the Doctor, Alonso - Alonso and Jack, at least - that hasn’t happened yet. They’re out of sync, though Jack would bet it can’t be by much.

The Doctor's still looking at him, one eyebrow raised in inquiry.

Jack's tired and uneasy and it makes him honest. "You'd tell me, " he asks, though it’s not exactly a question. "If I could help."

The Doctor smiles. It’s thin and a little strained, but it’s there, gentle and fond. "Yeah," he says. "Yes." He opens the door and steps outside, then turns and looks back one more time.

Jack doesn't push. The question's been asked; the question's been answered. He just nods and sketches a salute and lets the Doctor go, then turns to pack his gear.

The silence of Woman Wept surrounds him when he steps out for one last look. The wall of water shimmers. He tries to breathe the silence in, let it settle onto his shoulders.

It's unbearable, he thinks, but he'll learn. Somehow, he’ll learn.

[identity profile] phinnia.livejournal.com 2011-02-01 05:55 am (UTC)(link)
Thank you for this. It's beautiful. I'd say more, but i'm crying. *sniff* *gulp* *hunts for tissues*

[identity profile] silvermoon07.livejournal.com 2011-02-01 06:19 am (UTC)(link)
Oh, wow! This was really so heartbreaking and so very sad, but still so poignant all at once. It made me shiver it was just so powerful and filled with so many emotions. But I loved it so very much.

Poor Jack and poor Ten, both of them were so broken in this, but I love how you wrote them both so perfectly here. Jack with his heartache of loss and grief and anger at Ten for not being there to help him; and Ten fresh from the Time Lord Victorious, where he messed with the laws of Time, and saved Adelaide Brooke. I could feel all of their emotions and angry and grief so clearly.

Their rough, angry, grief striken sex was just so gorgeous, though. They both needed that release after all they'd gone through, if only to vent how they were both feeling at that moment. You really captured that so well here. The end really made me cry too, when they both acknowledged that that was the last time they'd see each other with the Doctor in that body. I've saved this one to my memories as well, because it was absolutely brilliant. Thanks so much, sweetie. *hugs*

[identity profile] lindenharp.livejournal.com 2011-02-01 06:22 am (UTC)(link)
Oh, this is so gorgeous and powerful that I don't have words for it. Thank you.

[identity profile] 51stcenturyfox.livejournal.com 2011-02-01 07:05 am (UTC)(link)
This is just so good. It's perfect!

“Don’t you dare tell me you haven’t got the time.” He doesn’t mean his voice to slip on the last word, doesn’t mean to lose his carefully light tone, doesn’t mean to let it scrape down into something raw and acid. He’s good at things he didn’t mean to do, apparently.

Yes. And the Doctor's speech about monuments. And the various horrid scenarios. I'm blown away.

[identity profile] teamharkness.livejournal.com 2011-02-01 08:34 am (UTC)(link)
Amazing. Absolutely. Well done.
yamx: (Default)

[personal profile] yamx 2011-02-01 10:07 am (UTC)(link)
This is wonderful and terrible. Great work.
navaan: (JackTenAtWork)

[personal profile] navaan 2011-02-01 11:10 am (UTC)(link)
This is wonderfully heartbreaking and so very in character. I loved the explanation the Doctor gave to Jack. It fits in so well with both End of Time and Children of Earth.

[identity profile] wendymr.livejournal.com 2011-02-01 01:22 pm (UTC)(link)
This is brilliant - especially the Doctor's alternative scenarios for the 456. But it's also so very painful, because they still have to go their own ways in the end. :(

If you wanted to move your readers to tears, you succeeded :)
trobadora: (Ten/Jack)

[personal profile] trobadora 2011-02-01 05:37 pm (UTC)(link)
Wow. You weren't kidding about the angst. This is fantastic - heartbreaking and very true. The alternate scenarios for the 456 were awful, and just right for this.

[identity profile] heddychaa.livejournal.com 2011-02-01 08:42 pm (UTC)(link)
Absolutely stunning. Gripping, breathless, so perfectly grieving, wonderfully in character...

BRB MUST GO READ EVERYTHING YOU HAVE EVER WRITTEN<3

[identity profile] neifile7.livejournal.com 2011-02-01 08:52 pm (UTC)(link)
Really well done, and a great conjunction in their stories. Of the many hard aspects of CoE, the Doctor's absence is one that defies explanation; this version fits him perfectly if harshly. Great Jack characterization as well.

[identity profile] plaid-slytherin.livejournal.com 2011-02-02 03:41 am (UTC)(link)
Oh, wow. Ouch. This is wonderful, but absolutely heartbreaking.

[identity profile] azn-jack-fiend.livejournal.com 2011-02-03 02:46 pm (UTC)(link)
The intensity of the conversation was just... stunning. I loved this.
Edited 2011-02-03 14:47 (UTC)

[identity profile] redpearl-cao.livejournal.com 2011-02-03 11:10 pm (UTC)(link)
In one variant, I kept you with me. Didn’t let you leave, after Davros. The 456 culled Earth. Steven was in the first harvest. It was a dead planet in six generations. I came with you, in another. Met your team. Kept them from blowing you to smithereens. Once, they killed Ianto instead. Once, Gwen - you had to tell Rhys about the baby. They put out the sun, in that version, because you’d dared rebel. Once, I made the choice, and Steven died, and it wasn’t enough to save the planet, because we’d delayed too long. Once, they took your daughter, and you killed Rhys with friendly fire. Once -

The universe is very cruel and unfair...

[identity profile] ebineez01.livejournal.com 2011-02-05 03:09 am (UTC)(link)
this was fantastic. It makes so much sense in the scope of things. next time I watch that scene in the bar I'll be thinking of this happening in between

[identity profile] ent-alter-ego.livejournal.com 2011-02-05 04:09 am (UTC)(link)
Wow, this is amazing. You've really captured their characters in pain. I like how there's no simple resolution - that would be trite - but a slight easing of Jack's burden. Very powerful.

[identity profile] sahiya.livejournal.com 2011-03-28 02:23 am (UTC)(link)
I love this version of them working through their issues. It's rough and raw and difficult, but that's how it should be. Nice work.