Title: The Discovery
Author: Angel’s Kuuipo
Fandom: Doctor Who- Ninth Doctor
Characters/Pairing: Nine/Jack, Rose
Disclaimer: Not mine, never have been, never will be…damn it.
Warnings/Spoilers: Set sometime after Boomtown
Author’s Note: Sequel to The Offer. I couldn’t just let it end there. Thanks be to Elisabeth for the beta.
Word Count: 1,419
Written: February 15, 2008
Summary: Rose knows something is going on.
Something was going on between Jack and the Doctor. Rose knew it; she just had no idea what it could be. It had started not long after they’d left Cardiff to take Blon the egg back to Raxicoricofallipatorious. The way the Doctor looked at him sometimes, almost like he hated him, it made her uneasy. Rose liked the three of them together and didn’t want to see that change. Jack made it easier to be around the Time Lord when he got on his high horse. He flirted with her and made her feel pretty and smart when the Doctor unwittingly cut her down. He kept her grounded when the whole meeting-aliens-and-running-for-their-lives-on-different-planets thing got to be a little overwhelming. He made her feel safe in a way the Doctor couldn’t.
The day she found Jack in the garden, tear tracks on his face and a shattered look in his eyes, she knew it was time to get some answers. She slipped out of the room and went to the kitchen. This was a conversation that required tea, and a lot of it. When she returned, it looked like Jack hadn’t moved and she made sure to make some noise so she wouldn’t startle him.
Jack still jumped a little and quickly wiped his face before fixing her with a tight smile. “Rose.”
She set the tray down on the ledge of the fountain then handed him a mug and sat down across from him. “You look like you could use it.”
Jack wrapped his hands around the mug and inhaled the steam. A shiver went through him and Rose touched his leg in concern. “You gonna tell me what’s wrong?”
He blinked at her and said hoarsely, “Nothing’s wrong.”
She snorted indelicately. “Bullshit. Finding you in here spaced out and crying is not an everyday occurrence. Try again.”
He looked at her, surprised by her swearing, but then looked away just as quickly. The silence stretched before Jack sighed and took a fortifying sip of his tea. He cradled his mug and stared at it as if it held all the answers in the universe. He wouldn’t meet her eyes when he said, “I bit off a little more than I could chew.”
Rose leaned forward and placed her hand on his leg again. She felt the muscles tense and started to remove it when he covered it with one of his. The residual heat from the mug faded rapidly and she felt the iciness of his hand. Something was seriously wrong. “Jack, please. Are you ill? Should I get the Doctor?”
He flinched at the name and Rose sat back, a vague suspicion niggling at the edge of her awareness. “What did he do?”
“Nothing I didn’t invite him to do,” Jack said swiftly.
Rose blinked at that. She hadn’t expected Jack to actually admit that the Doctor was involved in whatever had put him in this state. She knew they both thought she was in love with the Doctor, and she did love him, but she also knew nothing would ever come of it. The Time Lord was too intense for her, and to be honest, the thought of their relationship becoming more intimate scared her. He was possessive enough as it was. Adding sex to the mix was just asking for trouble and she’d had enough of that kind of pain with Jimmy Stones.
She loved Jack, too. He wasn’t quite like a brother, because the flirting they did was just wrong in that context, but she knew she was safe with him. She would have been insulted that he hadn’t tried to get into her knickers since the night they met if it weren’t for the fact that she knew he genuinely liked her and didn’t want to use her. She didn’t want to use him either. The three of them had managed to form a dysfunctional family of sorts and she thought the arrangement had been working for everyone.
“Are you injured?” she asked softly.
Jack shook his head. “It’s nothing physical.” He finally met her eyes. “I’ll be fine, Rose. Don’t worry about me.”
She gave me a crooked smile. “I love you, Jack. Of course I’m gonna worry. It’s in the handbook.”
He stared at her, openmouthed, and she wondered what she’d said to put that look on his face. Then she realized and she grinned. “What, you thought I’d never say it? I love the both of you, you know.” Her smile faded and she looked at him soberly. “I don’t expect anything from either of you. What the three of us have together is wonderful and I don’t want anything to spoil that.”
Jack closed his eyes and bowed his head. He let her take the mug from his lax hands and then he felt her wrap him in her arms. He sat there, cradled in her warmth, and let her presence soothe him. She started rocking him gently and one of her hands stroked through his hair. He let his guard down without even knowing.
It had taken the Doctor a month after their conversation in the library to take him up on his offer. He really had thought he was prepared for whatever the Time Lord could dish out.
Oh, how wrong he was.
The Doctor was angry with him for bringing it up, angry at himself for wanting or needing the release, and he’d set out to show Jack just what he was capable of. He’d held nothing back and Jack felt as drained and wrung out as he had when he woke up with two years of his life missing. He had offered himself to the Doctor to try to help in the only way he knew how. He didn’t know if it had worked, but he knew he couldn’t go through it again.
How the Doctor managed to function with that much pain and anger running through him, Jack didn’t know. He was just glad that Rose had been spared.
“I wanted to spare you the pain,” he said softly.
The hand stroking his hair paused and she said, just as softly, “I don’t understand.”
He snuggled in closer to her without opening his eyes. He murmured, “Making love to a Time Lord involves a mental link. It opens you both to each other’s emotions and memories. It makes the act honest and real. I didn’t want him to hurt you with what was in his head.”
The rocking stopped, but her arms tightened around him. She asked quietly, “So you let him hurt you instead?”
“I thought I could handle it. I probably could have if he hadn’t been hell bent on teaching me a lesson.” Fresh tears made their way silently down his cheeks, but he didn’t notice. The gentle rocking started again and he sighed. “God, Rose, what he’s seen, what he’s been through, what he’s done
. I don’t know how he goes on.”
She pressed a kiss to his forehead. “He doesn’t know any other way. When I first met him, I think he was ready to chuck it all. He wasn’t ready for me. I surprised him and gave him a reason to keep going. He tried his damnedest to get rid of me, but I’m not so easily shaken.”
He smiled at that. “No, you’re one of the bravest people I’ve ever met.”
He could hear the smile in her voice when she said, “Thanks,” but it faded quickly. At the touch of her hand on his cheek he opened his eyes and looked up at her. She looked more serious than he’d ever seen her as she brushed away his tears. “Jack, I don’t want that kind of relationship with him. I love him, but I couldn’t handle it, and I knew that even before you told me about this mental link. Please don’t let him hurt you again, especially not for me.”
Jack studied her, really
looked at her, and he saw it: the knowledge that came with bitter experience. Someone had hurt her at some point and the experience had left its mark. He wanted to know, but now wasn’t the time to ask. The Doctor had been right, Rose was stronger than he knew, probably stronger than the Doctor knew.
He pressed his lips to hers, a thank you without words. She returned the kiss sweetly then laid her cheek on top of his head when he curled into her warmth again. “I love you, too, Rose,” he whispered as the beat of her heart lulled him to sleep.