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Fic: Five Times the Doctor Rescued Jack

Title: Five Times the Doctor Rescued Jack (and One Time He Didn't)
Characters: Jack, Nine, Rose
Spoilers: Parting of the Ways
Rating: Mild PG
Word count: 2071
Notes: I have no idea where these things come from. No, really, I know I'm a bit late for the season 1 fic. Whatever. Thanks to xwingace for enduring my repeated blathering beta skills. Concrit is love.
Fic Masterlist: Here, archived at alien_sands



Soul of man, how you resemble water. Fate of man, how you resemble the wind.

- Goethe



He hasn't been invited to stay, but he hasn't been kicked out either, so Jack finds himself tagging along on tourist trips to impress Rose. Meanwhile, he keeps his eyes open for an opportunity to jump ship before the Doctor makes him. It's clear that the guy wants him gone - the glances he gets, checking his every move, are clearer than words.
So he's genuinely speechless when he is rescued by the Doctor once again. Not just out of surprise that the Doctor would care enough to go and look for him in a city that's as big as the Earth's moon, but also because something in the fruits he was offered had a spectacular effect on his brain.
He can't remember how long he's watched his memories flutter around him like butterflies, twinkling in the crisp night air before they are blown away into oblivion. But then a dark shape enters the alley where the scared locals dumped him once they realised the foreigner reacted badly to their food. It's like a planetstorm on two legs advancing on him. He struggles to avert his gaze from the raging darkness in the form of a man, but his mental shields are in pieces lying on the dirty tarmac all around him. The darkness comes closer, threatening to devour him whole. But something changes in the air, the storm abates and he can only gawk as strong hands help him up onto his uncooperative legs. Their grip is gentle, the darkness resolving into the Doctor, helping him chase the little trinkets of winged memories back into his mind, into the order it's supposed to be in.

Later in the TARDIS med bay, when his wits have returned, Jack stares up at the Time Lord, only now believing that he is really travelling with a mythical creature. He suddenly understands the power behind that worn leather jacket and wonders even more why he's still aboard his ship.

"That makes it twice you saved my life," Jack rasps. "That's quite a debt to pay."

The Doctor smiles, but Jack can't help thinking he looks a little sad. "It doesn't work that way," he answers, and stays with Jack until he falls asleep.


---


Jack's bleeding and cold -- the things he was already hating the most when he was a little boy. He shakes the thought away and checks for escape routes. But he only finds pain when he tries to shift his aching body in the little cell. Rose probably made it back to the TARDIS in one piece, he hopes, not daring to think about what the Doctor will say about their little run-in with the officials when he told them to avoid those at all costs.
When the rusty cell door opens with a sharp creak, he closes his eyes and steels himself for more pain. When it doesn't come, he squints at the figure in the doorway and his muscles relax instinctively.

"How do you always find me?" Jack asks, incredulous to be once again saved by someone who has every right to not give a shit. But then the Doctor is far too enthralled by a pretty blonde to anger her by feeding him to the wolves.

"My nose has special powers." The Doctor grins, but it's feral, and Jack wonders if he isn't in the wolf's lair already.


---


"Why did you rescue me?" Jack asks later that night, finally voicing the question that has been threatening to smother him ever since the London Blitz. He has to know, has to get to the bottom of this to find out why he's still alive, why he's still aboard this incredible ship with these incredible people and what will be expected of him in return. They haven't asked for anything and it's driving him crazy.

The Doctor simply shrugs. "Because I could," he answers and turns back to the dials and knobs of the console. Anger wells up in Jack, because the one thing he can't stand is a half-arsed answer like this. If the guy starts talking about karma and serendipity now, he'll be off this ship faster than he can say Raxacoricofallatorius. He's been around long enough to know there are no such things, and that the gods are powerless cowards with no inkling to help no matter how loud you scream.

"That's not an answer," Jack snaps, barely suppressing his urge to yell.

"It is for me," the Doctor answers calmly, his eyes hiding something dangerous behind the careless smirk as they flit to meet his and Jack realises he forgot again how alien the other man really is. Mythical, a god to some, even. Jack thinks of the stories of Djancaz-Bru, the warrior goddess that rode out and destroyed all her followers, just because she could. He shivers, his questions suddenly petty. He doesn't ask again.


---


The slaver simply hits him with the energy whip again when Jack claims for the hundredth time that he's a free man, but his protests are getting weaker. He's almost too tired now and in too much pain, to care being a free man or not. It's been seven days on this freighter, four since Betaxin Prime Cathedral suddenly went black and he awoke with an obedience collar around his throat. The slavers are efficient and experienced, draining the fight slowly from their cargo, a peculiar mixture of the homeless, tourists and pilgrims, all snatched from the Cathedral. They certainly won't be missed for a long time, if at all. They're sufficiently broken now, and will be sold today, the slavers tell them, to be scattered across a planet he hasn't even heard of.

Are the Doctor and Rose even looking for him on Betaxin Prime? Will they assume he left to find his own ways again when they won't find him? Would they even go to the trouble of saving him again? He shouldn't hope, but he can't squash that tiny speck of light in his heart at the possibility that they might. He hates himself for it.

He casts his eyes down when they leave the freighter to be presented to the waiting crowd of buyers, the slaver's whip, the helplessness and the shackles finally getting to him. He takes a deep breath and glances at the crowd, a sea of bored strangers, mustering the merchandise. But there, dark leather and blonde hair. His heart is making a painful leap for reasons he doesn't understand.

The Doctor saves the day (of course) and once the slaves are free and sufficient chaos is created in the marketplace, they release him and the other from their bonds, wrapping him in a two-way-hug. It tells him all he needs to know, and it scares him more than a life in slavery.

"Thank you," he whispers, and while his voice doesn't shake, his body is trembling in their embrace.


---


"Jack," the voice penetrates the haze of red hot anger, and for the first time since the rage overwhelmed his senses his hands waver from their aim.

The slaver dared to look at Rose, dared to look at her longer than was perfectly necessary to enjoy her beauty, dared to follow them into the back alley of the restaurant they ate in while waiting for the Doctor, dared to bring his friends for business. They left him no choice when they took out their stun guns to secure a 'lovely set of merchandise'.

"Jack," someone says again, and Jack suddenly realises that he hasn't yet lashed out at the owner of that voice, even though its owner is standing in one of his few blind spots. Jack blinks, then notices a now familiar hand on his arm, gentle and not restraining. That's probably why he hasn't disposed of it yet with a reflexive jab. Jack tries to calm his breathing and to tear his thoughts away from the slaver whose throat he's crushing. The slaver's eyes are wide with fear at what he sees in Jack's face. Just a little longer, and the light will leave those eyes forever --

"Let it go," the Doctor says, and to his own surprise, Jack nods and complies. Released from Jack's grasp, the slaver checks his fallen comrade. After slinging the man over his shoulder, he turns en runs as fast as he can. Not dead then, Jack muses, but he can't regret that when Rose is watching them go, her stance showing how relieved she is that no one died. She doesn't hesitate to take his hand when he holds it out to her, and only when their fingers touch do his muscles relax. He's stepped over this edge so many times, but he's glad he didn't in front of her. She'll be fine. He sighs with relief.

Back on the TARDIS Rose excuses herself off to bed, but Jack lingers in the console room, too afraid what he'll find should he fall asleep. The last week was filled with nightmares he simply cannot face after those slavers tonight.
Next to him, the Doctor opens one of the TARDIS roundels, tearing Jack from his ponderings by revealing a burnt out temporal stabiliser he would just love to get his hands on. The Doctor doesn't even look at him, just hands him a spanner.


---


Consciousness and pain come creeping back, his thoughts are still muddled and he wonders for a moment why his chest is aching so fiercely. Then the memories return like a torrent, and he struggles to sit up, ignoring the pain, ignoring the now so familiar and soothing hum of the TARDIS.

"Rose," he gasps, frantically looking for her, needing to know if she's safe, if the electric discharge from that Pameran crystal in the cave got to her. He tried to shield her, he remembers, and then there was--

"She's fine," the Doctor's voice calms him somewhat, at least enough to bat the Sonic Screwdriver away that blinds his eyes, ignoring the babble about his pupil reactions and the frailty of the human body in the absence of oxygen.

"Where is she?" Jack cuts the rambling short, not daring to relax until he has seen her. The Doctor frowns, but helps him when he struggles to stand on his own to get his answer. His lungs are aching and his head is swimming, but he has to find her. If she's injured, if she's dead (and with those crystals there's a very good chance of that, the ruthless part of his mind whispers) because he was too slow, he has to know. He can take everything the Doctor will throw at him then, but he has to know.
He stumbles more than walks towards the medbay, nearly running into a frantic Rose on her way towards them. She's staring at him with surprise and obvious relief, carrying something that looks deceptively like a Cardiocerebral Resuscicator. But who would-- oh.

"You got quite a jolt." The Doctor pats his shoulder gently, minding his (probably bruised) ribs, shoving him towards Rose. There are tears in her eyes, and he stumbles forward to make her feel better.

"Thank you," she whispers, and hugs him carefully. He inhales the smell of her, and wonders when this place, an impossible ship, these two people, became home.


---


The TARDIS disappears right in front of his eyes, so he waits.

He's certain they must return. The Doctor is probably just fetching Rose, fending off her mother and then setting sail to pick him up again.
Jack sits down in Dalek dust, once again checking his chest, finding no wound there, his mind shying away from the darkness he woke up from. He shudders. He can't wait for the TARDIS to return, to leave this Satellite full of ghosts behind. He wonders how they'll celebrate their victory.

Hours tick by. Days. He needs two weeks to realise what a tiny little voice at the back of his mind has told him since he saw the TARDIS disappear.

They left him. But they wouldn't... Would they? They saved him so many times before.

"Why?" he croaks at the empty place where the time ship stood, his voice echoing back from the empty room. "Why now?" He's unable to move, unable to function with his world so utterly out of tune. He sits in Dalek dust and waits for it to make sense again.

Everything feels wrong.




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