Characters: The Ninth Doctor/Rose Tyler/Jack Harkness
Word Count: 1,766
Edited by: Relentlessly re-read and self- edited multiple times, but untouched by other, wiser heads or hands; all mistakes, characterization or thematic inconsistencies or structural weakness are solely mine.
Summary: They loved each other very much, but sometimes there were days ....
Author's Notes: Written, with great affection, foryamx , for the 2011 fandom_stocking effort on Live Journal. The relationship of Jack Harkness, the Ninth Doctor and Rose Tyler comprises my favorite OT3 in the Whoniverse, and my love has often been furthered by yamx 's own wonderful tales. I hope this story - in which the two non-Gallifreyan sides of the triangle help each other work through the doubts that might accrue when a Gallifreyan Time Lord makes up the third side - pleases. The story is part of my Beijo Sonho series, which is a post-Parting of the Ways AU in which Jack's deadly immortality and the Ninth Doctor's sacrifice are obviated by the Bad Wolf.
Disclaimer: As much as I wish it were otherwise, no Whoniverse characters are mine. They are the sole properties of the BBC and their respective creators. I intend no copyright infringement, and take no coin. I do, however, love them all, and thank the BBC for letting me play (and create the occasional original character) in their sandbox.
They loved each other very much, but sometimes there were days ....
All three of them had been exhausted after navigating the Erholitian peace conference. Rose decamped to bed, the Doctor chose to tinker with the TARDIS in silent communion with Her, and Jack had—
Where was Jack?
The Doctor felt something skew wrong in the back of his head, where his ties to the others always hummed. He put down his tools, swung himself up from under the console, then stretched and turned his face to the vaulted ceiling, waiting for the information to come to him.
It didn't take him too long to find the source of his unease, sitting alone in a darkened study off one of the dimmer side corridors. It was Jack's place, with lots of sybaritically comfortable chairs and couches among a tiny but well-stocked set of library shelves. And, tonight, an opened liquor cabinet.
"You're not much of a drinker, Captain."
Jack looked up, slightly bleary, and put down the half-empty bottle. He didn't seem surprised to see the Doctor there. "No. No, I am not."
"So, why now?" The Doctor had that purse-mouthed look of mingled affection and exasperation that made him look almost human.
Jack answered with the addled honesty of the half-wasted. "Because I can't figure out why the hell we work. You. Me. Rose.
"I mean, it's not right, is it?"
"You're sayin' we're not right." The Doctor kept his voice so noncommittal that Jack didn't notice how still his face had gone.
The younger man nodded and continued trying to explain. "See, when I was in training, one of the most important things we were taught was analysis — classic, analytics, you name it — and when I stop to take a look at, at us, using those tools, we don't ... make any sense."
The Time Lord drew in a breath. "What about us doesn't make sense, then?"
Neither of them noticed Rose, standing in the shadowy hallway.
Jack shook his head. "Nothing. You take you, for instance. You're hundreds of years old, you're at least twice as smart as us on your worst days — something you're not shy about reminding us, either. And you're not human. Despite our physical compatibilities, which I adore, don't get me wrong ... despite those delicious compatibilities, we're not biologically compatible so, logically — at least genetically logically — our physical compatibility shouldn't interest you in the least.
"It's worse than that, really," he continued, bleariness deepening into bleak hurt. "We're both human, we're going to grow old and die, we can't give you anything. God knows I can't. I know about time travel, sure, but I know how you feel about the Agency. And I know how you felt about me when we first met. And Rose ..."
He trailed off into silence.
"What about Rose?" The Doctor's voice was a little less noncommittal now.
Jack's smile was soft. "Oh, she's wonderful. She's brave, and bright and beautiful, and any other alliterative word I can think of. She may be the best thing that ever happened to me — no, strike that, along with you, she is the best thing to ever happen to me."
In the hall, one shadow slipped away.
"But not to me." If Jack hadn't been so wound up, he might have heard the pain in that. He didn't, but he shook his head.
"That's what I can't understand. I see you together, and I know you think the same way about her that I do." Jack rubbed his face with the bottle-free hand. "But it doesn't make any sense. She's even younger than I am, and she's got even less experience. So that's the two of us. Con man and naif. Humans. Apart from having someone to talk to and impress, there's no reason to — to — " He swallowed convulsively. "Whatever. Long story short, you should have no interest in Rose and me.
"I don't know ... I don't make it a habit to worry over what I can't change, Doctor. You know that." Now his smile was crooked.
"But this afternoon, when we were waiting for you to complete your consultation with the Erholites, I saw the way some of them looked at all three of us. It as as plain as the noses they didn't have on their faces. They didn't know why Rose and I were there. And they certainly didn't think much of us. It started me to thinking. Couldn't stop."
He picked up the bottle again and waved it vaguely at the Doctor. "So I figured I'd have a drink or three about it. Win-win ... it'll either help me figure it out, or I won't care about not figuring it out."
The Doctor, whose face had darkened when Jack first began talking like the storm that was his namesake, now looked simply defeated. He dropped into a chair opposite Jack and gazed at the younger man helplessly. "I don't know what to say."
"Oh, I'm not asking you to say anything," Jack said, his joviality touched only a little by bitterness. "You want a drink?"
"No. And you shouldn't have any more, either, Captain."
"Probably not," the other agreed. "But I'm going to."
"No. You're not."
Jack almost dropped the bottle. The fury in Rose's voice snapped both men's heads back.
"You're going to listen to me," she said, stalking into the room with a book cradled in her arms.
"I — I am so incredibly angry with you, Jack Harkness, I can't even—"
She stopped, and both men realized when they looked at her puffy eyes, that she'd been crying. "I need a place to sit," she said, looking about and trying to regain her composure.
The Doctor silently rose and offered her his chair. She took it, juggling the book as she settled in.
Neither he nor Jack said a word as she did so. She remained silent for a moment longer, still obviously fighting her emotions. Finally, she let out a very long breath.
"Every day I'm with you two, I wonder why you keep me with you. No matter how many times you tell me I'm worth it, Jack ... no matter how much you tell me I'm brilliant, Doctor, I still wonder. S'pose I should feel better, in a way. At least I know I'm not alone when I wonder; I know that Jack feels the same way.
The Doctor's attempted rebuttal subsided with the hand she raised to ward off his words. Her own came out in a feral growl.
"But I don't care. I don't care. I don't care how much I wonder. I'm not gonna listen to everything that's in my head, all those things I worry about. That's what I decided, back when we — when we began, when we all got together.
"I decided that I don't care that I'm not as educated, nor as ... you know ... intelligent as you, Doctor. I can't be a Time Lord. I'm just me. And you say you love me, I have to trust you when you say it. 'Cos I love you. And you trust me when I say it, yeah?"
He nodded, blue eyes glued to her and filled with everything he couldn't say.
"And you, Jack Harkness!" She rounded on him so quickly that he flinched. "What about you? You love me? Because I'm not from your time. I'm some ignorant little shopgirl from south London, never went anywhere farther away than a coach tour to Wensleydale with my mum. I'm like every mark you ever made, Captain, only I'm even more so. So do you love me?"
The haze of alcohol cleared from Jack's eyes. "Yes. God, yes. I love you. And more, Rosie. You're my friend."
She smiled briefly, a glorious burst of momentary sunlight. "Good."
The sun clouded over. "But it's hard, I know. An' when I heard you from the ha ll— got the strangest feeling in the back of my head and wound up here — I felt like ... like ..."
She faltered then, and looked at both of her lovers before giving in to the tears.
Unbidden, both men moved to her; the Doctor holding her shoulders from behind, and Jack leaving his chair unsteadily to reach her.
"I'm so sorry," Jack whispered. "I didn't mean to make you cry."
"Hush, Captain," the Doctor said. "It's alright."
"'s right," Rose finally mumbled into Jack's shoulder. "You didn't ... but sometimes it still gets to me, and I just hated thinking you felt it, too."
There were no words for the next little while, as the three took comfort in each other.
Finally, though, Jack disengaged gently and said, "Rose, do you mind telling me why you still have this very hard-covered book in your arms, and not us?"
Her smile was watery, but real. "I came in with it because I wanted to read you something from it. But ... I'm not even a believer, and I guess I thought it was pretentious of me. Or sacrilegious or something."
"No." The Doctor's voice was rough with emotion. "No. If you wanted to read it to us, I want to hear it. Captain?"
"Got it, Doc." He looked at Rose. "May I?"
Rose looked at him and at the Doctor, then nodded. Jack took the book from her.
"It's marked," she said. "I marked the lines I love long ago."
He found the place and began to read.
"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away ..."
Jack looked up at Rose and the Doctor, swallowing his own tears, now, his eyes shining.
They loved each other very much, through all of their days ....
The piece that Jack reads is a partial quotation from the Christian New Testament's 1st book of Corinthians, Chapter 13. I decided not to use the admittedly beautiful King James Version language of 1611, because it uses the rich but archaic term "charity" rather than "love." I instead quoted from the English Standard Version of 2001; I guessed that Rose might be familiar with it, as she certainly would not be with either the American Standard Version of 1901 or the Revised Standard Version of 1946..This entry was originally posted at http://kaffyr.dreamwidth.org/213535.html?mode=reply, where there are currently comments. You can comment there or here; I watch both.
And I note again, as Rose did indirectly; I chose these words not as a believer, but because I believe they speak, albeit totally coincidentally, to what lies at the complex and challenging heart of this OT3 relationship.