"Right now," Rose said, pulling her face away from the Doctor's shoulder.
"What?" he asked.
"You said we could see him anytime we wanted, I want to see him right now."
"We…we've only just left him—" he stuttered a bit.
She shot him a look.
"Not that it matters!" he said quickly. "One trip to Torchwood coming up. We'll swing by the Shestich ship to pick up his little genius, it'll give us a reason to drop by." He said, setting the coordinates.
"Can I tell him?" she asked, sitting on the floor and leaning back against the console. "I mean, he's completed the whole paradox thing by now. He already met us, and I've given birth to him, so now we could tell him, right?"
He sighed and looked back at her. "Even now, Rose, after all these years… there's no telling how his mind will react. It might do nothing, or it might resurface all of his Time Lord consciousness. I know he has come back to life before but…something like that is just too much."
She nodded, wiping her face so that no one would be able to tell she'd been crying. "I expected as much. I just needed to be sure. I'll keep my mouth shut. I can do that. To keep my Jack safe, I can do that."
"I'll send the Shadow Proclamation a message. You know…I'm sure he had the chance to kill every one of those Shestich. But he didn't. Our son saved everyone, in the end, good or bad."
"Not the end," she reminded him. "It was only his beginning. It's okay to be proud of him, you know."
The Doctor nodded, smiling back at her and looping his fingers through hers.
The familiar screech of the TARDIS echoed through Torchwood Hub, and Jack and Ianto jumped to their feet. Owen Harper peeked his head curiously out of the examination room he was setting up. He was still a bit weirded-out by all of this, not to mention still reeling from Katie's death, and he preferred to ignore most things going on around him.
The doors swung open and a weak-looking Toshiko Sato stepped out, staring at the small doorframe. "It's really true. It's bigger on the inside," she marveled for the tenth time.
"Tosh!" Jack laughed, swinging her up into a big hug. "We thought we'd lost you already."
"Not getting rid of me so easily," she said with a tired smile. "There's too many interesting things around here."
"Good to see you safe," Ianto smiled, giving her an awkward hug.
Jack crossed his arms, watching the both of them, when two small arms wrapped around him from behind, pulling him into another hug. He spun around to see Rose Tyler right behind him, not letting go of his torso. He knew what it looked like when a woman had been crying, but he also knew how to tell if they were hiding that fact. If Rose didn't want him to know, he'd pretend he didn't.
"Well, I've always got a hug for you," he beamed, giving her a tight squeeze. "If you don't mind that is, Doctor?" he asked as the other man came through and closed the doors behind him.
The Doctor stared at him for a moment. "Mind?... Oh! Right, no, no problem. Hugs are wonderful." He hugged Rose, hugged Toshiko, hugged a very confused Ianto, and then grabbed Jack, lingering just a moment too long as he hugged the Captain. "Everyone can use one of those every couple days."
"Uh, yeah," Jack nodded a bit suspiciously, with a raised eyebrow. "We'll just go ahead and make that the Torchwood Motto. Friday will be Hug-a-weevil day. Ianto, put that in the company memo."
"Sure, Sir," Ianto smiled, sneaking a look at him.
"Torchwood, right," Rose said, looking over their operation in a way she had not before. "It's quite a little set up you have here. It's really impressive, you're doing a great job."
"We're trying," he nodded.
"Perhaps…" the Doctor started. He struggled to find the right words not. "Maybe you've been working too hard, Jack. I mean all this," he said, gesturing around him, "must be very grueling. How much sleep are you getting? Are you eating alright? Or—well, sorry, probably none of my business. What I'm saying is, I do have time machine, and you seem to be in need of some time. You could come with us, if you like, just for a day or so. Have some fun, sleep as long as you like, catch up with a couple of old friends, and I can drop you off right back here with only a minute used up."
"Oh," Jack said, genuinely surprised. "I didn't think you'd want me on the TARDIS. You said I made you uncomfortable."
"I got over it. Besides, I owe you something, I did strand you here for years, right? Let me apologize. Besides, you need the break—you look pale. Does anyone else think he looks pale?"
"I think he looks fine—" Ianto started but quickly stopped when Rose discreetly stomped on his foot. "Oh! Yeah, definitely pale. You go for a few minutes, Sir, we'll just work on our own for a bit. We won't touch anything important until you get back."
Jack shrugged. "Okay. Free TARDIS vacation. Let's go."
"The Olympics?" Jack asked with a smile as they stepped out of their carefully hidden box into a crowded hallway. "In Rio. Not complaining or anything, Doc, but why here?"
"Rose and I have been meaning to come here for days," he shrugged. "The two of you head down that hall there, take the psychic paper and get a good seat. We should be just in time for the opening ceremony. I brought snacks, I'll sneak them in. These pockets have to be good for something, eh?" he smiled, ushering them down the hall and slipping back into the TARDIS.
Jack walked with Rose down the hall, lowering his voice so the crowd around them would not hear. "Rose, are you okay?"
"Yeah," she smiled. "Why wouldn't I be?"
He raised an eyebrow at her. "Your son. Jack. Last time I checked he was in terrible danger, calling you to say goodbye. The two of you left to go see him, and then you came back without a word about him. It looks… it looks like you've been crying, Rose."
"Oh, he's okay," she said, patting him on the arm and thinking as quickly as she could. "Sorry, we didn't mention, we saved him in time. He's with my mother on Earth, resting up a bit."
He sighed in relief, setting an arm around her shoulder. "I'm glad. You two deserve a miracle once in a while."
"So," she said, swinging her arms a bit, trying not to look him in the eye, "Ianto seems nice."
He stared at her. "I know."
"Are you two…together?" she asked.
He paused. "No immediate plans. I think he mentioned having a girlfriend."
"Oh. Toshiko was nice, too, very smart—"
"Since when are you so interested in my love life?"
"I'm not," she said quickly, pulling him to a stop. "It's just… you know the Doctor and I are happy, I just want to be sure you're happy, too. You're our friend."
"I'm okay, Rose—"
"No," she cut him off. "Really. Tell me how you are. Please, I want to know."
He set a hand on her shoulder. "I'm…making do, Rose. I don't know what you want to hear. I'm building my own team…but my last team is dead. My boss had a breakdown, but he left his operation to me."
"You're the only one left? Do you have any friends, someone not connected to Torchwood?"
"Not really," he shrugged, looking a bit uncomfortable.
"You're lonely," she asked, a slight quiver in her voice. "You've been alone for a century?"
"No," he said quickly. "I've met people, along the way. I've had some friends, other really good friends, some very good friends if you know what I mean. I fell in love a few times. I just don't seem to be able to hold on to some of the best ones. We stay together for a while, but eventually I have to face the fact that I don't age, or at least that I age very slowly. Sometimes I only get to be close to someone for a few years, but it's worth it, while it lasts. Everyone needs someone to talk to."
"Companions," she said softly. "You collect companions?"
He smiled. "Sort of. I guess I do. Maybe the Doctor rubbed off on me a bit." He watched her strange expression, not a clue in the world why she was staring at him like that. Finally he shrugged it off, figuring he must be imagining things. "I'll let you in on a little secret," he whispered.
"To be honest, I have a family. I just never see them, we think it's better that way. I had a daughter."
Rose's mouth dropped open. "No! I'm a… I'm only twenty!" she muttered under her breath.
"Then she had a son, Steven. I look a little young to be a grandfather, right?"
"You're telling me," she said, pressing a hand worriedly to the side of her face.
"Well, we better get going," he said, reaching into his pocket. Psychic paper is only going to do so much for us if every seat is taken before we get down there." He pulled an old beat-up pocket watch from his coat, checking the time.
What happened next was impossible for Jack to explain. One minute he was looking at Rose, and the next he saw a flash in front of his eyes. Toshiko's face. A rose in a vase. An old record player. He gasped, grabbing his eyes, wincing against the sharp sting.
"Jack?" Rose asked, grabbing his shoulder. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah," he said, trying to shake it off. "Just a headache. I—oh!" he gasped, bending over a bit and grabbing Rose's arm for support.
"Doctor!" Rose screamed, her voice much louder than you'd expect it to be in such a busy place. She searched for him, but they were still alone in this crowd. Perhaps if Jack had collapsed, or screamed, or called for help, someone in the massive crowd would have stopped, but they were practically invisible here. Rose grabbed at his face, and for just half a second she could have sworn his eyes were a little brown. Her plans changed instantly.
"Sorry," he said with a wince. "I don't know what that was about."
It didn't matter. She had ahold of his arm, pulling him back through the crowd toward the TARDIS. "We'll fix this. We have to."
"I'm okay," he insisted.
She ignored him, pushing a few people out of the way. The Doctor stepped out of the TARDIS just as they reached it, smiling and holding up a small white bag. "I found snacks, took a bit of digging, but I still had some in my old coat. Would either of you like a—"
"We need to talk," Rose said quickly, ushering him back into the TARDIS and pulling Jack in with her.
"No, Rose," the Doctor said dropping his voice and glancing at the Captain, "I don't think we do."
"Well then, for once, you're wrong," she snapped a bit.
Jack shifted uncomfortably. "If you two need to have a fight I could wait outside."
"No," Rose said quickly. "The three of us have to talk about something."
"No, we don't," the Doctor said again.
"I'll just… walk a bit," Jack said opening the door.
"No, stay in the TARDIS where we can find you," Rose said. "In case you get another…headache."
He shrugged and walked past them, heading into the hallways.
The Doctor looked at her, lowering his voice. "Headache? He had a headache?"
"The way he looked at me," she whispered. "I swear… he knows."
"No, he doesn't. He's not exactly subtle, he would have told us if he knew."
"Maybe it isn't a conscious knowledge, but there is something in there. The memories are there. He met himself today, and that has to have triggered something. What if they resurface?" She asked, a small, sad smile.
"That's what we're trying to prevent, did you forget? What is all this about talking to him?"
"If he's going to remember anyway we should just tell him. That way we'll be with him and we can help him."
"Help him what? Burn? You want to see that happen? I thought we made this decision already."
"This changes things. He's remembering on his own. He'll figure it out on his own, and we might not be there when he does."
The Doctor sighed, running his hands through his hair. "We…we just can't, Rose. It's so dangerous. Would you shorten his time to make yourself feel better?"
She covered her face. He stared at her moment, and then sighed, pulling close to him. She sobbed once, one hand curling on his shirt. "I don't know what to do. He's my son and I don't know how to help him."
Above them, a voice answered, one neither of them could hear. Fine. I'll do it for you.
Okay, so he was lost.
Jack walked down the halls of the TARDIS, having absolutely no idea which way he was going. The halls seemed to have decided to change since he'd been on it last. He thought he was heading towards the swimming pool, but nothing this way looked familiar. He glanced back over his shoulders, wondering if he should just go back and see if the happy couple were done arguing. He had no idea what had set them off in the first place, so hopefully it was something that could be resolved fairly quickly.
Lost? A sweet voice asked him.
"That was a quick spat," he smiled, turning to face Rose.
She wasn't there.
"Who said that?" he asked.
You know me, it whispered. You returned to me. I waited, I am so patient. I've been dealing with your father for 700 years, I have to be patient.
Jack pulled a gun from under his jacket. "I said who's there? How did you get onto the TARDIS?"
There was a small zap from the floor and Jack gasped, dropping his gun.
No weapons, it chastised. You were told not to use weapons, you must learn to listen.
"Not gonna' happen," he said, grabbing his gun from the floor. "Show yourself."
You see me. Do you want to see more?
"Yes," he said cautiously.
I brought you here. To the left, Child. The door.
Jack looked to his left. There was a solid door in front of him, a bright light shining from inside it. With a slow swing the door opened by itself. Jack held tightly to his weapon, holding it in front of him as he tiptoed inside.
It was just a room. The wallpaper was a bright, burnt orange. There was a big, comfy looking bed against the wall, and books all along the wall. "Hello?" Jack called.
Music started playing.
Whatever you do
I'll do it too
He looked over at the corner and saw an old record player spinning.
Show me everything
Tell me how
Jack frowned. He gasped, the pain in his head hitting him again. Flashes danced in front of his eyes. Rose in front of him, smiling. An older blonde woman. Fear, followed by comfort. These weren't his memories, this didn't make any sense. Rose's mother, that's who the blonde woman was. He knew it, but he didn't know how.
It all means something
And yet nothing to me
Scribbles on the wall over the bed caught his eyes. They were circles and lines, he recognized them from the console room. The TARDIS didn't translate Gallifreyan. He approached the wall slowly, his gasping as the pain grew more intense. He laid his hand against the gibberish.
Not gibberish. There was no reason he should be able to read it, but something in his brain simply told him what it meant. He'd never read Gallifreyan before, but this was absolutely clear.
"Doctor," he whispered, staring at the first symbol. He saw the man in his mind's eye. He had been in this room before. He had laid in this bed, and the Doctor was there. The watch in his pocket bumped against his leg.
He placed his hand over the second symbol. "Rose," he said. A warm hug. Safety, happiness, contentment, absolute amazement at someone so wonderful. Pure, comforting love. Tears.
He looked at the third. With a gasp, the dam broke. Memories came pouring through. His head pounded in time with his heart. "Jack," he whispered. Then he screamed.
They heard him in the console room. Rose ran faster than the Doctor, running as fast as she could through the halls. "Jack!" she screamed.
Run if you want, the TARDIS whispered inaudibly. It doesn't matter, Rose Tyler. You've already saved him.
She saw a door open in the hallway and bolted to it. Jack was on the floor, gasping yelling, shaking. "Jack," she cried, dropping to her knees and pulling him to her as the Doctor caught up to her. "Are you okay?"
He looked up at her as if seeing her for the first time. There was a wildness to his face, and he grew quiet, becoming far too still. "Mum?" he whispered.
"Yes," she said, holding his cheek. "I'm here. I'm right here, Jack."
He stared at her and said nothing. His eyes were glassy, and his face lost all expression. His breathing stopped.
"No. Jack? No!" she screeched, shaking his lifeless form.
The Doctor wrapped his arms around them both. Kissing Rose on the head. "I'm sorry."
They sat in silence, but Rose has a determined look on her face. "One more miracle," she whispered, shaking Jack. "Come on, one more, for us."
The Doctor jumped, startled, but Rose didn't budge. "That's it, you can do it."
His eyes opened and he moaned, wincing and shaking, rubbing at his face with his hands.
"Jack?" the Doctor asked, staring at him. "You're alive. You were dead."
"Yeah," Jack said, catching his breath. "I have a tendency to do that."
"I didn't think…" the Doctor said. "With Time Lord thoughts in your head, you shouldn't be able to come back."
"Well," Jack shrugged weakly, "shocking people runs in my family."
Rose brushed his hair back, making it stick up just a bit. "Your family?" she asked gently.
"I missed you, Mum," Jack said catching her hand with his.
Rose sobbed, burying her face in his shoulder.
The Doctor smiled at the two of them as the fact settled over him. An outcome unfolded in front of his face which he had never expected. The impossible. A tear ran down his face.
"What's wrong, Doctor?" Jack asked him.
"You lived," the Doctor said simply. "I screwed up in every way possible, and you survived anyway. My son lived."
"Of course," Rose smiled smugly, turning to face him with a grin. "He's my son. He can do anything."
The Doctor let out a chuckle, helping Rose to her feet.
He gestured to Jack's face. "How are we going to explain this to your grandmother?"
Jack laughed, pulling the Doctor into a hug. "I missed you, too, Dad. Can I ask you something?"
"Of course," he said.
"Can we go watch the Olympics now, Doc? I have been waiting for a century."
"Yeah," the Doctor said, not letting him go for a long moment. "No more waiting. Never again. You do what you want in this universe. Build your team. Live your life. But we'll be here. One call, that's all it will take."
The TARDIS watched the little family step back out into the world together. They were strange, but they were wonderful. It hummed happily to itself, because it knew something wonderful. The Doctor was right.
The End (For now)
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