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trobadora ([personal profile] trobadora) wrote in [community profile] wintercompanion2014-04-11 06:10 pm

GIFT FOR PAMYMEX3GIRL: Break the Silence 1/2 (Jack/Eleven) [Teen]

Title: Break the Silence (Part 1)
Author: [livejournal.com profile] a_phoenixdragon
Recipient: [livejournal.com profile] pamymex3girl
Rating: Teen
Pairing(s): Jack & Eleventh Doctor
Spoilers/warnings: Some Violence, Mild Gore, Horror, Angst, Dark, Character Study, Introspection, Mild Slash, One-sided UST
Summary: So many lives disrupted and destroyed in the wake of that box of bluest blue. It would have happened whether they had been there or not – maybe in a harsher degree than if they hadn’t been there. He had witnessed that first hand; more than once actually. Had wished for the Doctor’s brand of destruction to come and wipe away the destruction that was unfolding before his eyes so many, many times. But it was easy, easier to blame the Doctor than see the truth. The Doctor knew it. He expected it.

O-o-O


Vows are spoken
To be broken
Feelings are intense
Words are trivial
Pleasures remain
So does the pain
Words are meaningless
And forgettable


- Depeche Mode




There was nothing playful, funny, shy or awkward about him now.

At this moment, in this time, he looked very much like what he claimed to not be: a vengeful, ancient god standing strong and near towering amidst the rubble of a battle-field. His eccentric-professor clothing was streaked with ash and gore, his overly-youthful face rigid stone – all trace of charm, mercy and innocence gone with barely a flicker of the eye – his gaze icy, alien indifference as he stared down the aggressors. That look was enough to bring whole worlds to their knees. It had done so in the past and it was likely it would do so now.

The Storm had descended. All that was left to do (if you happened to be on the wrong side of it), was run. It would not chase you. It would not seek you out and destroy you (not immediately). It would let you do that to yourself – and during moments like these, it cared not one whit of your fate. To dash yourself to pieces is the only option (just in case it changed its mind and turned upon you). Blind fear was smart. Bravery and belligerence was death.

He was beautiful.

Jack had never loved him more.

And yet, all he could think was ‘
Where was this when I needed it? When Earth needed it? When my family needed him. Where was he? When he has ever been there for us – for me?

Love tastes so close to hate: Fiery. Disarming. Inevitable. Both fill you up; override all else; leave you breathless with awe, power and the raw majesty of these things. Both consume you until there is nothing left to erase them, except their polar opposites.

But one can live with such contradictions. Jack always had. And in that moment, for that split second in time, Jack loved the Doctor so much, his hate sang with joy at the coming fall. Such moments as these could not last. They never do.

One day the Doctor would fall. On that day, Jack didn’t know whether he would mourn or celebrate – but as he watched him

The all-powerful Lord of Time. The watchful, wrathful god of compassion and smothering mercy.

The Truthful Liar.

The Sorcerer-Trickster.

stand so, so tall and frighteningly beautiful amongst the ruins of a once magnificent city, he knew (very likely) he would do both….



O-o-O



He spun, all eerie grace and awkward limbs, his smile bright enough to rival the lights of the console room, energy pouring from him in humming waves as he started the sequence that would take them away from this world; leaving behind the horrors that had occurred like they never were.

That was the secret with the Doctor, really. He never forgot – but with one push of a button, one toggle of a switch – he thought he could erase himself from a world’s atmosphere, almost like his existence there was an illusion. That in itself was an illusion, really. His presence could blow away like so much dust within a few hours, or leave an impression that would last for a millennia.

This is how gods are made.

But try telling that to the self-described ‘madman in a box’.

He twirled and chattered, his movements frenetic, his words inconsequential. There was so much difference between the man he was now and the man he had been half an hour ago. It was like a distortion, a mirage in the desert, a flaw upon a mirror; there was no reconciling the two men, even as they were one in the same.

But then, how could one love a being such as the Doctor with their whole heart and yet hate them so, so deeply all at once. You’d think such a thing wouldn’t be possible, but then when you met the Time Lord, it made perfect sense. He was always running ahead, hand firm within your own and yet he could leave you behind without a flicker of a thought; his time with you at an end.

Jack knew he was an exception to the rule. Even as he was left again and again, the Doctor could never truly let him go. They were such constants in one another’s lives, it was almost inevitable that they would keep meeting, keep running together and then running away from each other.

Tides upon a shore,’ Jack mused, noticing how the Time Lord’s twirling steps faltered for just a moment, sharp eyes taking in Jack’s stillness and (likely) interpreting it wrong. It was hard to tell as he spun away again, one final slap to a lever as the TARDIS shuddered Herself into motion, lights flashing in the walls as She sang Her joy back to Her Pilot – the two always one while in flight.

Jack loved seeing that.

He loved the adventure, the perfect moments when they sailed between the stars, the Time Machine and Her Time Lord in glorious sync – a marriage and a love forged over long centuries that hardly needed more than a second of thought, of touch to be communicated. He had lived a long time himself and had never quite found someone to share that with. Every time he got close to that sort of perfection, Time would take it away again, leaving him to start anew. It was endless and exhausting – and he had never forgiven the Time Lord or the Machine for his affliction. He would never find peace because of them (those snatches of darkness between deaths tantalizing and hateful all at once), and he found he still hated them for that, even as he loved them for caring enough to try to fix what had been lost and broken.

Only to promptly abandon him (all over again) when it suited them.

He had thought that time away would have healed these wounds, but he had spent too many centuries chasing down the man in front of him. He had spent many more hoping he would never see him again. There was too much in between. There was too much pain, too many unanswered questions, too many torments that an endless life brought. It was all well and good for a Time Lord – they were used to long years and the damage that those years could bring. A human was never meant to live so long, much less forever. Jack had hit madness so often it had almost become a game: see how many decades would pass before the pain would catch up, leaving him screaming, alone and shattered from too many deaths in a short span of time. Eventually the insanity would wear off, leaving steadiness in its wake.

Somehow, being sane was even worse.


O-o-O



He hadn’t heard Her land.

He hadn’t seen Her arrival, really (not that this truly mattered in the long run). All that mattered was that She was here: big and blue and impossible in the middle of the most desolate planet of the Outer Rim of the Trillium Spiral.

There was nothing out here. Zelt-ink Five was a wasteland; the Cyber War of the Trillium Galactic had only just started and the launching point was only so much dust, bone and corroded metal.

It was the perfect place to hide, to lick ones raw wounds and hope the universe would just pull the proverbial blanket back over its head and wish itself away. Jack hadn’t meant to come here, but then, he really hadn’t meant to land anywhere. Nowhere would have been preferable, but Zelt-ink Five was as good a start as any, he supposed. He had thought himself alone, with time and enough to breathe the dead air and get the energy to start over (for the hundredth time), but the presence of the TARDIS defied that idea. One minute it was just him and the glass-dust winds and the next –

He was smiling in anger when he approached Her, unable to resist the pull of the Machine, even as he dreaded the sight of Her Pilot. He let his fingers drift over the synthetic wood exterior, a spark of happy hurt in his chest when She hummed in response, more warm and inviting than the Doctor ever was. She still loved him, despite it all. The Doctor…well, that was a different matter.

Speaking of different, he wondered which one he would be encountering: someone from the far past? One of ‘his’ Doctors? Or someone from the future? There would only be so many future ones, after all. Even Time Lords had their limits.

He didn’t have long to wonder; the door seemed to open of its own accord, the slight creak as it swung back on itself barely audible, even in the deadly stillness of the landscape. He hesitated on the threshold, half-waiting for someone to come barreling out of the doors, but no one came as the seconds (then minutes) ticked away. He was dazzled by the warmth and light spilling from within Her, his pause lengthened as his mind ticked over possibilities beyond the doors – who he would encounter just as important as the change he sensed from inside the Machine.

He barely cleared the frame of Her doorway (the slight shifting of Time something he had long missed, but quickly acclimated to), when he saw him. He had definitely changed, but Jack hardly took the time to adjust to the shock of the new face as he stalked towards him, the pull of the terrible smile on his lips reflected in the deep light of the Doctor’s eyes. New eyes, but so very, very old – his youth jolting, almost disorienting. Jack registered all of this within mere seconds, anger and fear and hate and relief warring for attention within his heart as he forced himself to a stop, his boots mere inches from the Time Lord’s, practically nose to nose as he asked the only question that ever rose at moments like these (even as he already knew the answer).

“Doctor?” Airless and hopeful and sad all at once.

“I’m sorry,” the Time Lord breathed, voice hushed (just the two of them), in the vaulted cavern of his inner sanctum; the lights too bright and cheery for the melancholy of his voice.

Jack felt taken off guard for a moment. The apology was so out of the blue, so unexpected it forced him to take a step back. Then he remembered what the Doctor could possibly apologize
for and had to resist the urge to launch himself at him and choke the life from his bones. The life that seemed stolen when so, so many had died calling his name. He had kept on living while those who needed him had not. When still others who had needed him, who had screamed for him had mourned those losses. Losses that were almost stupid on the face of it, because they had been so, so unnecessary. If the Doctor had been there –

His fist followed through on what the rest of him had not, anger curled into the clench of his fingers as he hurled that fist towards the Time Lord’s face, barely managing to stop short of hitting him. The whole exchange was less than a second, maybe a lifetime for the being such as the Doctor – but he never flinched. He never made a move to defend himself. He just calmly accepted that violence against him, his eyes glittering an understanding Jack couldn’t possibly comprehend.

It wasn’t as if he was
human.

Jack slowly lowered his hand, still itching to hit him (and keep hitting him until he just…
stopped), mouth frozen in that terrible smile, wetness surging up to blur amongst his eyelashes, blind him from the calm, impassive face before him. It was only a moment, but he thought he saw relief (of all things) reflected in the Doctor’s eyes. His millisecond burst of hatred not only expected, but somehow welcomed.

That, more than anything, was what made him stay.


O-o-O



“Jack.”

The console room was now quiet. The hum of energy and whirling limbs now replaced with the background hum of the Time Rotor, all movement coming from the console and surrounding roundels as they flashed thoughtfully; the TARDIS fully concentrated on their destination, not on Her occupants. With nothing to distract, to lose himself in, the Time Lord had seemed to notice him – his lack of engagement with him or his Girl.

Sexy he called her now.

Fitting.

He had been caught daydreaming, it seemed.

The Doctor moved as if to approach him, but stopped before his feet could truly take that first step – eyes watchful under the artful scatter of his bangs. Artful because of how they let him hide, even as he looked you in the face. Some things never change. Others change too much.

He leaned against the console, mouth snapping closed with an almost audible click, frown lurking in the corners of his eyes, even as understanding hovered along the edges of his lips. He looked weary – a startling idea considering the high energy that still buzzed off his limbs. He had forced himself into stillness, mirroring Jack almost unconsciously it seemed, waiting for the questions, the disbelief, the anger. Jack was too tired to offer what the Time Lord was poised for, but found the words anyway, that damnable curiosity always at the fore. Keeping him human, even as he was anything but.

“All those people,” Jack said before his voice gave out, lips pressing closed against the urge to scream at him, ask him if the toll was ever paid, if anything truly ever changed in the wide universe.

“Yes.” Was the soft reply, those sharp eyes boring into his face, trying to read what he was thinking, even as the Time Lord seemed light years away from the conversation; likely thinking the same thing Jack was: how things changed and yet didn’t. The tumble of chaos that followed them both the only constant in their very long lives.

The Doctor’s mouth twisted upon itself, smile flickering into being before being swallowed by the frown around his eyes. He nodded as if he was answering an unasked question, face blanking into blandness as he turned to the stairs, obviously thinking the conversation was over before it had even begun. Jack knew him too well, so vocalizations of unhappiness, of dismay would only be wasted.

So unpredictable in their very predictableness.

Jack felt that horror, that confusion and pain as if it was the first time. So many lives disrupted and destroyed in the wake of that box of bluest blue. It would have happened whether they had been there or not – maybe in a harsher degree than if they hadn’t been there. He had witnessed that first hand; more than once actually. Had wished for the Doctor’s brand of destruction to come and wipe away the destruction that was unfolding before his eyes so many, many times. But it was easy, easier to blame the Doctor than see the truth. The Doctor knew it. He expected it.

That was what stayed Jack’s metaphorical hand. The darkness in the Doctor’s eyes was quick to welcome his own – and therein lie the true problem. The one he could question, when all other questions were answered by the very silence that breathed between them.

“You could have died,” Jack said, his voice crawling back for one more shot at breaking this terrible grace between them. “You could have died for nothing. Those people didn’t care. They still don’t. You could have died and it wouldn’t have solved a damned thing. They made it very clear that they aren’t beholden to anyone but themselves. We could have left and it would have turned out exactly the same.”

The Doctor paused mid-turn, shoulders tense and statue-still, his very image almost frozen in place, as if stopping his movement could stop the words being fired at his back like bullets. Eventually, he relaxed – his posture tilted away, head cocked as if he was listening to words that weren’t being said when Jack’s voice gave way again – hands loose by his sides, knee still angled for the next step away from the Captain and his questions and his invective.

He said nothing, which was beyond frustrating. This version of him said so much, but most of it was just air and cover. Anything meaningful was locked away tight, wrapped selfishly just out of reach. Jack was once more overcome with the urge to hit him. Then kiss him gasping. These feelings were usually present when he was near the Doctor, but never more so than when he was being elusive like this.

“Did you hear me?” Incredulous and curious, two other consistent feelings when in the vicinity of this aggravating creature. “Or does it even matter?”

“Yes,” the Time Lord answered, voice oddly light as he turned to face Jack once more, those eyes too heavy and blank for the simplistic answer falling from his mouth. “It always matters.”

He took two steps closer, awkward shuffle back as if that was all his limbs knew how to do – the liquid grace dropping away as if it had never existed. Deception in every cell. That’s what he was.

“But I’m not always there when it matters, am I, Jack?” The Doctor’s voice was cool and detached, hands still motionless at his sides. “That’s what you’re thinking, isn’t it? That if I could die for these people and their ignorant squabble, why couldn’t I have done the same for you and yours?”

Jack wanted to protest, but was stilled by the image of an alien and wrathful god, poised on the edge of destruction as he gazed through the very souls of the people who had placed him on the veritable bomb he had been standing on. Even chained he was grace and distant thunder: the blood of those who had died before him smeared across his countenance like an accusation.

“One day, I will, Jack,” he said in a soft, relentless tone, the god lurking beneath this youthful, shining façade; face so made for smiling and laughter, eyes made for vengeance and power beyond comprehension. “That’s what you want, isn’t it?”

No. Yes.

There was no answer as Jack struggled with the statement disguised as a question, his mouth dry at the certainty that bled from the quirk of the Time Lord’s mouth, the Doctor’s smile knowing and filled with that odd relief as he spun away from him once more, footfalls growing fainter as he retreated into the recesses of the Time Ship. Jack stood there for a long time, wondering when the Doctor had come to expect, much less welcome the hate that burned within him.

When his love had become less important than his rage.


O-o-O



He had become the centerpiece in their war.

They had dragged him out in chains, tossing him into the middle of the blood-stained field as if to accuse him of all the atrocities they had committed upon it. Weariness sat heavy on those boyish shoulders, his face gray in the light of the coming dawn. He looked like a man who had gone ten rounds with an earthquake and lost – all energy and joy sapped from his frame as they hooked the chains to one of the largest explosive devices Jack had ever seen in his very long life.

Jack himself was part of the milling crowd – the Doctor’s last move before he had been captured was to push him away, cover him in a scrap of blanket that had been laying across a decaying chair. He had somehow known what would happen and Jack was damned sure he had taken steps to prevent Jack from being caught out as well. Whether it was because Jack could help him escape when the time came, or due to his tendency to come back to life when presumed to be dead (something these people would objected to strenuously), Jack wasn’t sure – but as always he had been taken out of the running before he could even raise a protest.

That was one thing he hadn’t missed about running with the Doctor. Free will was almost a joke. Choice was only in the hands of one being and (nine times out of ten), that being was the Doctor himself.

The flimsy ruse had worked though. They had been so desperate to get their hands on the Time Lord, they hadn’t paid much attention to anything else. They’d descended on him like birds of prey, pausing only when they’d had him in their grasp to relay their contempt and anger through a few well-placed blows and kicks. They’d cuffed him between bursts of violence, seeming to be further enraged by his silence and lack of resistance. After one final kick (that’d had the Doctor curling helplessly around the aggressor’s boot), they had hauled him off, deliberately dragging him in such a fashion he would have to scramble to keep up or be ‘assisted’ with further aggression the rest of the way.

It had taken everything Jack had to keep from flying after them, offering the same violence they had visited upon the Time Lord. He had known coming to the planet had been a mistake. Their fear of aliens and their hatred of anything that wasn’t them was depicted in nearly every street sign, in every face of the planet’s peoples. But the Doctor had needed something that could only be found in this sector of the galaxy. He had never indicated what it was and Jack had been quite sure they would be unable to find it even before everything had gone to hell.

Somehow they had found themselves embroiled in a planet-wide civil war. It wasn’t the first Jack had encountered and it very likely wouldn’t be the last – yet somehow it had still felt…
off. It was as if they had known who and what they were before he and the Doctor had even set foot on the planet.

Twelve hours after his capture, the Doctor had been hauled out before a jeering, blood-thirsty crowd, the rabble screaming for his death even as they backed away from the blast-zone, shielding being placed to protect the citizens from the detonation. Whatever the war was about seemed to have been long forgotten in the face of this new distraction. These fresh deaths a rally to whatever their cause happened to be. Jack had been quite sure even they no longer knew exactly what they were spilling blood for, but in the end it didn’t really matter as long as that blood was spilled.

It mattered only in the fact that it wasn’t their own.

If only the Doctor had been the sole being on the block that day. Two other aliens had also been captured and placed (chained) on explosive devices, their pleas for their lives only drowned out by the Doctor’s pleas – the Time Lord talking fast and frantic, voice already hoarse for gods knew what reason.

“Please,” Jack had heard, the crowd falling silent in a gruesome display of joyous attention, restless for the blood to flow, but with that fascinated, twitchy focus of people watching a car wreck. They would get their wish, that much was assured – but they’d craned to hear the words of the dying aliens, their sick need pacified (for that moment) by the desperation in the prisoners’ voices.

“Please, stop this,” the Doctor rasped, eyes flicking to the off-worlder on his right, the captive on his left reduced to incoherent sobs in his own language, unable to add his voice to the call for mercy. “Let them go, they have no wish to harm you. Let me help you. You can do as you wish to me, just
please –”

The shielding had snapped up around the three captives and Jack had actually felt his heart surge into his mouth as the magnetic field sparked into place, shimmering ephemerally in the weak light of the rising sun. He had wanted to look away, but had been unable to. He would not dishonor himself (or the Doctor) that way; so he had been an unwilling witness to the first blast, the explosion overwhelmingly loud in the open courtyard.

The crowd’s collective sigh was felt more than heard as blood and chunks of gore spattered against the shield and the other two prisoners. Ash fell like snow beneath the peaceful gleam of the force-field, any leftover flesh and bone being burned away by the heat of the blast and the sizzling impact against the energy bubble surrounding the prisoners.

The Doctor looked shocked and too pale in the wake of that detonation, bluish-green blood streaked down the lean lines of his neck, his jaw – the ash (all that was left of the captive on the Time Lord’s right) – had fallen whisper-soft against his frozen body, leaving smears of gray-black that seemed to just seep into his skin and clothes and make itself at home there. Jack had bit his lips to keep from bellowing his fear and anger at the crowd, eyes finding the Doctor’s –

Their gazes had locked, the Doctor’s voice stifled by the carnage he was covered in. An odd peace had slipped into the depths of his eyes, like he had been ready to face this fate, face his death, if it would appease these terrible people; this planet that wasn’t worth one ounce of the man’s pity, mercy or compassion. Jack could feel rage rise at the passive flicker in those eyes, rage that it would end like this when there were so, so many more deserving of the Doctor’s passion and fire and reckless lack of self-regard. If he was to die, it should be for something worthy of his blood, his pain. These people were not worth the dust beneath the Time Lord’s feet.

The next blast was almost anticlimactic: After all, the worst had already happened. It was almost over. Everything. Nothing.

None of it mattered anymore because there was just one more to go and part of Jack’s world would disappear in flame and ash…and it would mean less than nothing. The Doctor would die and it would be the worst thing that could ever happen, but not because he had died. Everyone (except him) died – so no, that wasn’t the problem. It was the where. It was the
how. Any moment he would be blown to pieces and there would be no return from that. Not even a Time Lord had the power to regenerate from an explosion.

There would be nothing to mourn, nothing to celebrate. No real closure or ending.

Then the Doctor had staggered to his feet (face granite, lightning blazing in his eyes) and it had all gone to hell.



O-o-O



He didn’t know whether the TARDIS had nudged him there, or he had just followed his feet, but not too long after the confrontation in the console room Jack found himself in the medical bay, the object of his worry and consternation busy patching himself up with the help of a few med-bots and his own deft fingers, the sheer amount of damage to his upper torso telling of long hours of work ahead. That was, if he was left to his own devices.

With an inner sigh, Jack picked up a skin-grafter and approached the Time Lord on deliberately heavy feet, though he was quite sure the Doctor was aware of his presence long before he had even entered the med-unit. Not much got by the man that was for sure – Jack had been personally privy to that little lesson on more than one occasion.

He managed to get within ten feet, close enough to hear the Doctor instructing one of the med-bots (that held a grafter of its own) in his own strange, beautiful language, before he was halted by a flick of the Time Lord’s eyes – ‘back off’ as clear in his gaze as if he had shouted it. Sure that the message had gotten across, he went back to dressing one of the worst of the oozing wounds on his forearm, head bowed in concentration and dismissal.

“Doctor,” Jack started to say, only to be cut off with –

“It isn’t necessary, Captain.” The Doctor raised his head long enough to pin him with another icy stare before turning his attention to the ragged edges of what looked like a stab wound just above his hip. Jack wanted to alleviate the tension, but even jokes about the Doctor and his state of undress at the moment would smack of trying too hard, so he fell silent, refusing to move from his frozen position in the middle of the med-bay.

But the wash of stilted quiet became too much after a while. Jack shuffled his feet with mild impatience, almost sorry that he did when the Doctor’s shoulders slumped further, his eyes exhausted and too ancient within that young face as he glanced in Jack’s direction. The slight twitch of his head seeming to be too much too soon and it wasn’t long before he dropped his gaze again, though more in abject weariness than in dismissal. Jack swallowed hard and reflexively tightened his grip on the grafter, rethinking this new confrontation. Now was not the time to press the issue, to ask what the Doctor meant when he said those things. Why he acknowledged (and even encouraged) Jack’s hatred faster than his love. Why he seemed relieved in the face of it.

They had lost a battle before it had even begun. In the end, it had been a futile battle. They couldn’t have won even if they had truly tried. The Doctor’s pleas had fallen on deaf ears. His reason shunted aside for the promise of senseless violence and mayhem – his blood an anathema to the sickness that had taken root in the soul of that planet and its people.

It wasn’t the Doctor’s fault he had failed, but Jack knew better than to think he could change his mind about that. He had only been back on board the TARDIS a mere handful of weeks and he had already learned (all over again) that the Doctor was his own worst enemy. He declared he was not a god and yet he wielded enough power for five of them.

But all that power couldn’t cure some afflictions, especially when those afflicted were more than happy to suffer the malady of their own making. Nothing could change that planet – its inhabitants were as desolate and empty as the abandoned rock the Doctor had found him on all those weeks ago.

“I’m sorry –”

Don’t,” Jack snapped, wishing he could go and shake him out of this depression he was wrapping himself in, wishing they had something more than just ‘Captain Jack and the Doctor’, because he would give anything to hold him close and tell him it was all okay and have him truly believe it. “Don’t apologize.”

The Doctor nodded, likely taking the plea as a rebuke, attention turned back to the bot grafting the charred and torn flesh along his abdomen back together. He seemed to sink into his own mind – not necessarily ignoring Jack, but not focused on him either – hiss escaping through his teeth as the med-bot reached into the wound to clean it, face hidden beneath his bangs as he leaned into the pain. Jack was unsure if he was so open to that pain because it relieved his anger at himself, or if it was just too much after the last twenty four hours and he was therefore unable to mask it any longer.

Jack watched silently as the bot began the painstaking task of pulling the tattered skin back together, the only sounds being the Doctor’s labored breathing and the buzzing hum of the medical devices working on his abused torso. The Doctor didn’t offer an explanation for his injuries and he obviously didn’t seem to think Jack would care enough to ask: his own indifference to his condition enough to have Jack gritting his teeth all over again, surprise and horror elevating when the Doctor literally peeled his button up off of his back – the flesh there coming away with a sickening ease that had the Captain’s stomach turning.

“I’ve had worse,” the Doctor murmured (barely audible enough for Jack to hear), nose wrinkling in distaste as he discarded the shirt on the floor, the pattern of blood across the crumpled swatch of fabric telling Jack everything he needed to know. This wasn’t just the explosion. Likely the Time Lord had been tortured while he waited for his demise. Probably as an incentive to not kick up too much of a fuss over his inevitably messy ending.

And yet he had still tried to reason with them, to appeal to their (non-existent) sense of mercy, of compassion.

Jack could only imagine what he had likely gone through –

voice hoarse, body bent with weariness and pain as the Time Lord staggered (almost blindly) to the device that would obliterate him from the inside-out –

and that alone brought that sense of awe, that feeling of warm surprise that he would still try despite it all. That the Doctor would willingly shunt aside his own personal pain in favor of belief, that spark of faith that there was some good left in this rotting mass of a civilization. He had paid for that faith. He was forced to endure the deaths of two beings he didn’t even know (but cared about all the same), at the hands of those very people he chose to believe in, his ideals used to beat him with before he was covered in the blood and ashes of his failure.

But when it was almost over; when his executioners truly thought they had the upper hand…

Jack pushed the surging thoughts away, mouth cottony-dry, gut writhing with something sickly and afraid, though his pulse beat with a fierce joy that tasted too much like the rage he had succumbed to far too often in his very long life. The feelings were usually associated with (and about) the Doctor, but this reached far beyond the Time Lord himself and straight to the power he commanded at a mere whim. His status as a god was not a concept, it was not a fantasy or daydream – it was the truth. The lie at the center of that truth was the Doctor’s denial of it.

Jack was afraid.

He was afraid of what the Doctor could do. He was afraid of what he had done. But he also lusted for the mad uncertainty and chaos as surely as he lusted for the Time Lord himself. It was like grief and horror and longing all mixed together; a strange feeling and one that the Captain didn’t much like. It reminded him of madness and sanity and how there was so very little difference between the two.

He wondered if the Doctor tasted like insanity now.

He wondered if his memory had failed and he had always tasted of it, but Jack just hadn’t remembered – too human and flawed and ignorant to know what he had come into contact with.
Now…now he knew that flavor all too well: ashes, blood, bile and creeping, purple-gray sorrow. He wondered if he would relearn that taste, that knowing from the Time Lord himself, or if he would be able to identify it despite him. He was quite sure (as sure as he had ever been of anything in his very long existence), that the Doctor was not just familiar with the concepts he was toying with, but damned near the inventor of them.

Even amidst the joy, the laughter and love, the Beast always lurked. The Bringer of Storms and the Hand of Retribution. The Doctor could deny it. He could run from it and lie about it and turn away from the sound of it, but in the end, there was no way to hide from the truth. It wasn’t right, but it wasn’t wrong either – and even after all these centuries, Jack still couldn’t find a way to force it to make sense.

It was something just felt, even if it couldn’t be logically known. The mind can barely reconcile with itself, much less grasp what the soul already knows. What makes nerves flare, blood pump and bones ache –

“You’re wondering,” the Doctor said quietly. “If I knew what would happen. If I knew – and if I did it despite that knowledge.”

Jack snuffed in a deep breath, startled more by the Doctor’s insight into the spiral of his thoughts more than the sudden burst of his voice across the creaking, cautious silence of the med-bay. He could feel Time snap back into place and didn’t know whether to be embarrassed or indignant that he had been caught out once more; the displacement of himself from the surface of reality to merge into his own mind a habit he had developed decades ago.

He normally kept better track of himself, of his surroundings, though the situation was far beyond the realms of normal. It generally wasn’t when one dealt with the Doctor – but even what little he had witnessed over the last few weeks (much less the last 24 hours), smacked of odd, even for him. Which brought (once more) a whole host of questions to mind that he knew would never be answered.

“You’re wondering,” the Doctor continued, soft, gray and surprisingly there in a way he hadn’t been a few minutes ago, “if I have finally become the monster you’ve always secretly believed me to be.”

Jack’s whole world seemed to shake and he tried to find a way to breathe past it, the skin-grafter in his hand (long forgotten) falling from nerveless fingers to clatter to the ground; sound twice as shocking as the Doctor’s words. The ideas falling from the alien’s lips something Jack had never dared to think to himself, much less speak it out loud. To say it would give it life, make it real.

He never wanted that.

He didn’t try to deny it, though.

He forced himself to meet that cool, green gaze and almost staggered back from the strange sadness that bled in their depths. The acceptance of any anger or odium – the expectation of these things in the tilt of the Doctor’s head, the understanding of them in the twist of his lips.

“And if I did…if I was – if I am that monster, Jack…”

To Jack’s relief he stopped abruptly, the Doctor’s eyes falling away (sliding shut, pain creased in the corners), as the med-bot between his shoulder-blades concluded its scan – a high-pitched whine warbling from the tiny device as it began to repair the damage to the Doctor’s back. The Time Lord arched silent and ghostly-pale against the invasive treatment of his (unknown) injuries, all speech locked behind the grit of his teeth, knuckles white as he grappled with the crisp cotton of the sheets beneath his fingers.

Jack wished he had given in to centuries of want and kissed the man quiet before he could reveal horrors Jack had been running from for damned near a millennia. He wished he had hit him: that he had knocked him down (years ago, weeks ago, seconds ago) and escaped before the Doctor could reopen that old wound and dig out the one thing that made the festering rawness in his soul so unhealable. He wished to rewind the last ten minutes, leave unsaid all those things he had never dared to truly contemplate – even in his darkest hours.

What the Doctor should never have guessed (much less voiced); so starkly surreal, bleak and terrible under the soft shine of the med-bay’s lights, the leaning quiet of its four walls. To contemplate those words was to court true insanity. It would make everything he had believed in, everything he had ever done futile. Useless. All because it was done in the name of a creature that had never truly existed except in his own mind.

He wanted to cross that expanse of the med-bay and soothe the Time Lord with soft words, a gentle pair of hands and an open heart. But he also wanted to hurt him. He wanted to physically make him feel that ache expanding beneath his breastbone, the sorrow unfolding under the tight cinch of his skin. He could almost see himself doing it and that brought a fresh wave of horror, too soon (and too much) upon the heels of the last one.

If I am that monster, Jack…

Jack didn’t need to hear what he was ultimately asking, even if he had never really got a chance to voice it. He didn’t need to know the Doctor’s trust in his aversion ran that deep. That he depended on it with the unwavering faith that some societies hold for the sun rising in the morning and setting in the evening.

The Doctor trusted Jack with his life.

He also trusted in Jack’s incandescent rage, his venomous (human) hatred.

In the end, that only meant one thing –

He almost tripped over the skin-grafter in his haste to leave; feet carrying him away from the med-bay before he could think on what he was doing, what this act might mean to the man he was running from. How it might confirm what was said (and all those things that never could be said). He ran and tried to detach from the pounding of his feet along the bright, open corridors; the pull of harsh oxygen in his lungs; the rush of heat as his heart tattooed madly in his chest. He ran and tried to ignore the wetness that blurred his vision and burned his eyes.

He didn’t know where he was going and in that moment (that spilt second of time) he really didn’t care…


O-o-O


» Break the Silence (Part 2)

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