Jack’s hand trembled as he clasped his pistol and slipped it from its holster. He swallowed hard and started to raise it, when Rose caught his wrist and backed up half a step, staring at him with shock and hurt written all over her face, tears gathering in her eyes. “Jack?” she whispered.
“You’re not her,” Jack said, his free hand going for his back up piece.
Rose, in shock, dropped Jack’s wrist and backed up another step, tears starting to run thick and fast down her cheeks. “I am me,” she insisted, her voice choked, “I am.”
By this time, Jack had his gun pointed at her forehead, but with her looking at him like that, he couldn’t bring himself to pull the trigger.
All of this had taken less than twenty seconds. The Doctor had waited 8.5 seconds through what he expected to be a joyful reunion, then frozen in shock for 5.2 seconds when his carefully laid plans unraveled around him. He was over by the door of the TARDIS in another 2.3 seconds, and trying to figure out how to intervene as Jack ripped Rose’s recent wounds open anew.
“The first time I saw you, you had just caught me when I was falling through the air from a Barrage balloon during a German air raid in World War Two,” Rose said. “You told me to turn off my cell phone. When I got inside your ship, I said hello twice before passing out. You healed the rope burns on my hands with nanogenes. You had a sonic pistol which we used to escape from the gas mask zombies by cutting a whole in the floor and dropping down through it, but only after you got it back from the Doctor, who had switched it with a banana, ‘cos bananas are good’,” she said, putting her best Northern accent on the last statement.
“You can’t be her. Rose was human. Pure, total, 20th century human. I don’t know what you are, but you certainly aren’t that.”
“Perhaps I can explain,” said the Doctor. “Hello, Jack, long time no see,” he said, waving in his former companions direction.
“Doc?” Jack tilted his head. “Yep, definitely two hearts…regeneration? Always thought that was a myth.”
“Not a myth. Now, would you mind not pointing a gun at Rose?”
Rose was shaking as she backed up against the Doctor’s chest. He wrapped an arm firmly around her and looked calmly at Jack. “I assure you, Jack, it is Rose. She’s changed a bit from when you knew her, but it’s her.”
Jack’s eyes flicked between the two of them for a moment, then he lowered the gun.
By this time, Rose was gasping, her breath catching in her throat as she stared at Jack, eyes full of pain and betrayal. When she pulled away from the Doctor and ran into the TARDIS, he made no move to stop her, in part because she was already moving fast enough to do him serious injury if he tried, and also because he knew from previous experience that this was how she dealt with stress.
Instead, he turned the full force of his gaze upon Jack and glared. The former Time Agent, who hadn’t been at the receiving end of such a stare for over one and a half centuries, almost withered under the onslaught, but managed to hold up.
“I have spent the last week and a half trying to convince Rose that this is NOT the end of the world, that it doesn’t make her non-human, and I honestly thought that seeing you was going to be the best thing for her. I don’t think I have ever been more wrong about something in my 900 years of life.” He sighed hugely and forced himself to relax. “Okay, let me explain…”
Five minutes later, Jack was highly tempted to put the barrel of his pistol in his own mouth and pull the trigger. “Fuck,” he muttered, feeling that summed up his feelings fairly well right now. “If you feel the desire to actually kill me right now, I would understand and more than likely survive, so go ahead.” When the Doctor didn’t move, he shrugged. “Where will she be?”
“The gym,” the Doctor replied. “She’ll be destroying the punching bag.”
“Your punching bag? The one from Tatalusa 8, the one made for those genetically enhanced soldiers?”
“She put her fist through it the other day,” the Doctor told him. “Come on.”
He led the way down the hall and stopped outside a doorway. From inside the room come the sounds of something hitting leather, and sobbed, panted breaths. The Doctor reached out and opened the door, revealing Rose pummeling the bag, tears running down her cheeks as she used a combination attack to swing the two ton monstrosity on its heavy duty chain.
“Rosie,” Jack whispered, staring in astonishment.
Rose froze in place at the sound of his voice, before one hand came up to dash the tears from her cheeks and she turned to face him.
“What do you want?” she asked coldly, her expression hard and unyielding.
“I’m sorry,” Jack said simply. “I…I never thought I would see you again, and then I did, but you weren’t the same…and I’m not as trusting as I used to be,” he grinned his old endearing grin, and Rose almost smiled back. “I thought someone was trying to use your face to get to me. Alright, I admit, it didn’t make total sense, considering you did arrive in the TARDIS, but…I thought someone had killed you and was using you. I’m sorry…I never, ever, wanted to hurt you.”
Rose dashed another tear from her cheek, cursing her traitor tear ducts.
“It…It’s okay,” she said softly, taking a step towards him. “I…I mean, I can understand…” she trailed off and just stared at him.
Jack waited a moment to see if she was planning to continue, but when she stayed silent, he stepped forwards and opened his arms once more in invitation. Rose hesitated for a moment, then stepped into his embrace. Jack held her tightly, feeling her tears soak into his t-shirt, and he pressed a kiss into the top of her head, wishing he could make the pain go away for her.
Eventually, they ended up the in the kitchen, Jack recounting stories of his past 150 years of life. The Doctor had shaken his head when Jack had started to ask about what it was that kept him from dying, mouthing ‘later’ over Rose’s head.
The Doctor was setting several large plates of food on the table, and Rose reached out and took a steak sandwich, bringing it to her mouth without once taking her eyes off Jack, who was recounting a daring tale of adventure on the high seas…or some such thing. The Doctor wasn’t really paying attention, being more focused on Rose’s shining eyes, smiles, and the sound of her laugh. He had known, false start or not, that this was the right place to bring her.