Owen Harper hated being left in the dark.
He was the doctor here damnit! He needed to know what was wrong with Jack.
Why had he been out so long? What had killed him this time?
The Doctor had spaced out after they arrived on the scene, looking like someone had told him the world was flat and his dog was dead. He'd looked crushed and very fragile cradling Jacks' lifeless body in his arms as the rain pelted down leaving them all sopping wet.
He was already showing signs of an oncoming cold which was just friggin' perfect, as though his day hadn't been bad enough already with out the common cold to add to its glamour.
Between Owen and Gwen they had pulled Jack away from the Doctor and loaded him into the back of the Torchwood SUV, and now they were in the Med lab at the Hub waiting for Jack to revive.
That's when the good Doctor spoke breaking the silence he'd held to since they'd found Jack, "He'll be needing an exam, doctor" which made Owen snort rudely, "That'd be a bloody waste of time all this while I thought you knew mate, Jacks immune to death."
The Doctor swiveled from his position of bedside-guardian beside Jack pinning Owen with a dark, furious look that made Owen step back and think "Okay, I get it, now I see why he's the boogeyman for aliens" because looking into those eyes was like looking into the heart of the Universe, so much knowledge, so much pain, so much pent-up rage – it was frightening.
"To death, yes, but not to pain"
"He seems fine"
"Seems fine? Is that you're professional opinion or you're best guess? Fine is not dead, fine is not covered with, with, lacerations down ones back and arse, fine is not bruised lovely shades of black-and-blue, fine is not r-" the Doctor stop speaking abruptly choking on the last, unsaid, word his face becoming like stone.
"Is not what?"
The Doctor looked away folding his arms, his message clear.
He was done talking.
"Is not what? Tell me damnit!" Owen waved his arms wildly "What's going on here Doctor. What am I missing because I bloody well know there's something you're not fucking telling us, isn't there?"
The Doctor rubbed the back of his neck and turned away from Owen and Jack saying over his shoulder, "Just do your examination doctor," drawing out the title like a mockery of his profession that had Owen clenching his fists until his knuckles cracked, lips thinning in a sneer.
"Lot of help you are Doctor, you have any more vague advice for me today, or is that it, have you filled your quota for the time being, I heard about you, yeah that's right" Owen ranted, "The supposed Defender of the Earth, always swanning off, never sticking around to clean up the mess you make, I bet you cant wait to get out of here!" Owen accused.
"Don't presume to know me Doctor Owen Harper, because you known nothing! No, I cant always stop to chat, and I'm sorry but I'm usually a bit busy what with saving the world and all!" the Doctor snapped back his gaze returning to Jack his eyes gentled at the edges "And you're wrong I promised Jack I'd be here when he wakes and I will" the Doctor said vehemently, his hands resting alongside Jack own, almost touching but not quite.
"I always keep my word."
Owen snorted disdainfully turning his attention to his patient peeled the dirtied RAF coat off of Jack making a mental note to have Ianto send it to the dry-cleaners, that's when Owen lost his clinical professionalism and completely forgot the Doctor pacing along the opposite side of the lab like the bloody energizer bunny.
Always moving, this Doctor was.
"Oh God, no, no, no, this cant be right" he muttered his experience told him exactly what he was looking at. There were bruises all over Jacks' body but the most prominent ones were the hand-shaped ones at his hips and the crescent-moon shaped cuts left where fingernails dug in deep.
His wrists were a bloody mess, the skin torn and ripped.
All of it pointed to one thing.
"Maybe…maybe he just went looking for a little rough sex, that would explain it" Owen said quietly knowing the words for a lie the moment the crossed his lips.
"No one asks for this, not even Jack."
"Jack doesn't mix pain with pleasure."
"And you would know that how?" Owen demanded, he liked his idea; it was a better picture than the ones drawn in bloody detail across Jacks body, painted on like a morbid abstraction.
"Jack did it once and nearly died back when dead meant dead, no exceptions, no exclusions" the Doctor said his voice calm and detached and entirely fake, Owen could see the emotions swimming in the Doctors dark eyes for a second before they blinked out, and all he saw was the façade.
This Doctor did care, a lot, more than he would like maybe.
Owen sighed, shaking his head emphatically "Guess that changes things doesn't it then."
"Jack was raped."
"God I never thought I'd be saying that, I mean Jacks hardly the hardest bloke to get in bed to begin with, there was no need, they didn't have to…do this, damnit, this is so wrong" Owen muttered his eyes clinically sweeping over Jacks prone form, "That must have been bloody painful."
"Jack's tough, he'll be alright, he will you'll see" the Doctor said pulling the Med sheet up over Jacks exposed waist, he should be waking any moment now the Doctor could almost feel the Vortex coiling inside him drawing life into his body, no matter how wrong it was, to the Doctor it had never felt more right.
"You're right of course, he's the toughest man I've ever has the misfortune to meet. He'll be fine, in the end it was just sex" Owen said wearily the Doctor spun on him so fast he knocked over a tray, the contents rattling loudly as they scattered across the floor.
"Don't" the Doctor said sternly a warning in his eyes.
"Don't what?" Owen asked picking up his things so he wouldn't have to look at Jack, pale and lifeless and violated on his medical examination table.
It twisted his insides something terrible if he thought to hard about what had happed to their Captain.
"Don't pretend they're the same thing, they're not."
"Its how Jacks going to think of it"
There was so much unsaid in those two words so much history, understanding, that they – Jacks team – would never have.
"How am I going to tell the others?" Owen muttered.
"I have to."
"Whatever happened to doctor-patient confidentiality?" the Doctor inquired wearily, Owen shrugged dispassionately "He's dead, doesn't apply."
The Doctor stepped closer, nose-to-nose with Owen.
"How would you feel if this happened to you, if you were beaten within an inch of your life, raped, then beaten some more and you're colleagues were informed before you yourself had time to deal with what had been done, hmm? What then Doctor Owen Harper? Would you want them hovering, watching, knowing?" the Doctor demanded his voice deadly soft, "Is that what you'd want?"
Owen crossed his arms, "Yes" he said, out of spite.
The Doctor stared at him for an unspeakable moment, sizing up Owen like a potential problem he needed to analyze. "Liar, liar, blimey PJs on fire."
"Oh you heard me Mr. Harper, you're a boldfaced liar. Boldfaced liar, huh, wonder where that one came from…is it even possible to be boldfaced? Never mind" the Doctor said with a shake of his head that sent wet hair onto his forehead. His clothes were still sopping wet, drip dropping puddles all over the Hub wherever he went.
Ianto would be cleaning that Owen supposed.
"You are not to tell the others, is that understood?"
"Who the hell do you think you are? You can't order me around in my own lab. I'll do what I bloody well please, what are you going to do about it, huh?" Owen snapped annoyed that this skinny man in his pinstriped suite and bed-head hair thought he could waltz into his domain, his lab, and tell him what was what.
"I don't rightly know, but you can be sure you wont like it."
"Is that a threat?"
"Of course not, don't be daft," the Doctor said turning away from the British man to watch Jack, soon he'd be waking with a gasp and a flail any moment now… "Just a friendly warning."
Owen grumbled but let the matter lie.
The Doctor was right.
Maybe it wouldn't be as bad as he thought, maybe Jack would wake up and everything would be normal again. "Yeah, right and maybe I'll pick out a pink tutu and dance to Brittany Spears in the town square."
Jack Harkness woke up with a gasp and a flail, a familiar hand grasping his reaching hand as he escaped from the darkness back into the land of the living. His eyes flicked around unsteadily, until they landed on the man who was clasping his hand and he thought he must be hallucinating, but his hands felt so real, and he had that Look in his eye, like someone had died on him again.
Jack struggled upright; tightly clutching the clinical white lab sheet at his waist, not even consciously realizing what he was doing, "Doctor what's wrong? Did…is…Martha alright?" unable to contain the worry from leaking through. The thought of anything happening to that girl made him cringe, she was a rising star at her peak with so much more to see, to do.
The Doctor smiled gently, awkwardly patting his shoulder, "Cant I wont to pop in on an old friend?"
"Course, I just wasn't expecting you"
"Yes well I didn't plan on coming here, I just seemed to end up here, looks like it was a good thing to, eh?" the Doctor said quietly and Jack sat back weak kneed remembering the hell that had led to this, him and the Doctor in the Torchwood Med lab and him clutching the white lab sheet like a shield.
"Get dressed would you, not all of us like staring at your white arse!" Owen muttered tossing Jacks' clothes at him.
He awkwardly caught them, still holding the sheet the Doctor noticed, remembering a time when Jack would have dropped the sheet with a cocksure you-know-you-wanna-look grin.
"I look good naked" he'd once said, and he wasn't wrong.
Seeing the clean angular lines of his face, his strong jaw, sensually curved lips, the Doctor felt himself respond instantly and wanted to be sick. Thinking about Jack like that wasn't right. Not now.
"Um, I know I'm hot but could you turn around or something?"
The Doctor turned away quickly squashing the spark of physical desire that had flared up unexpectedly. The line was a straight-up Jackism but it fell flat, the smile to stiff, to utterly fake. Neither the Doctor nor Owen called him on it.
But they were both thinking it.
This wasn't Jack. Jack was unashamedly everything sexual from the waggle of his eyebrow to come-hither smirks.
"Their, its safe now Owen, my white arse is covered. Better not tell Ianto you were staring."
Owen gaped unattractively, his mouth hanging open like a fish out of water.
"He's got a possessive streak, you'd be surprised the ideas he gets in that head of his" Jack laughed heartily, "The look on your face…" he shook his head, "What? You're staring."
"Jack mate, what do you remember of tonight?" Owen asked carefully wondering if maybe a miracle had happened and the Captain wouldn't remember.
After all if he didn't remember it, then technically it never happened.
Owen crossed his fingers and prayed for the first time in his adult life.
"Nothing. Nada, zilch. Why did I miss something good?" Jack asked, "I remember this one time, a long, long time ago, when I got good and smashed on Ariel and in the morning woke up with not one but three beautiful, butt-naked girls and couldn't remember a damn thing about the night before, what a damn shame that was because apparently they had such a good time they left me a large payment of credits with their numbers, before I got around to calling I ran into the Doctor."
Jack smiled, "Was to busy running for my life then for pleasure calls" the Doctor raised an eyebrow, "If I recall correctly there was that time on Beta-Nine, and Delta-Eight, and lets not forget Trifolia."
"How could I forget Potentillahepatica."
A faint grin twitched at the Doctors mouth as he remembered the various tomfoolery Jack had gotten them into.
For all the trouble he was, he was also fun.
Always up for a good laugh, good joke, good roll in the sheets Jack was.
The Doctor sighed rolling his eyes.
The Captain arched an eyebrow.
"What?" he asked with all the innocence of a devil.
The Doctor crossed his arms, "You are impossible."
"Yeah, you said that before."
"No, before I said you where an impossible thing."
Owen cleared his throat, once more feeling very much in the dark as the Doctor and Jack shared this friendly banter that spoke of trust, and friendship, and other sickly sweet things that made Owen want to hurl.
"What the hell are they going on about, Beta-Nine, Delta-Eight, Ariel those aren't place, are they?"
"Right, almost forgot you their Mr. Harper" the Doctor said that boyish grin fading as though Owen was somehow an unpleasant reminder of why they were here, as thought this were all his fault.
"No, now I'm projecting. This wasn't my fault, I know that, and if this Doctor is half as clever as Jack thinks he does too."
"Its Doctor Harper, Doctor."
"This could get confusing, two Doctors, one Medical Lab, what do you get?" Jack inquired with a knowing smirk that had both residents Doctors groaning "Jack!" with equal levels of frustration.
"Nope, wrong answer."
The Doctor watched as Jack smiled and smirked and put on an elaborate show for Mr. Harper and himself, but that was exactly what it was. A show. A shame. A façade.
A brilliant, well scripted one, with Jack as the star. He got every cue, knew his lines by heart but the Doctor knew all the same that Jack was not as fine, or clueless, as he pretended. He was doing something the Doctor never thought to see Captain Jack Harkness do.
He was running, as far and fast as he could from the memories dogging his steps. The Doctor saw through the enactment only because he recognized the shadow in Jacks' eyes, the stiffness of his smile.
He'd been there before.
And he also knew that running never really worked.
"Doctor meet Gwen Cooper, Ianto Jones, and Toshiko Sato" Jack said with a flamboyant gesture somehow encompassing them all and the entire Hub, too.
There was no missing the pride that shone in his eyes.
Jack had finally found a purpose other than chasing after a blue police box in the stars. The Doctor wasn't entirely sure how he felt about that but he knew how he should feel.
Very relieved, relieved as the mythological Atlas then the world was taken off of his shoulders. Maybe Atlas was a bit much; he was hardly the world to Jacks Atlas but still. He should be, relieved that is.
But he really, really wasn't.
But that was wide of the mark odd, wrong even and other bigger things he was afraid to contemplate, so he did what he did best he disregarded-ignored-overlooked, it.
"Yes, we've met. Quite the team you've put together here Jack even if your methods are a tad dodgy" the Doctor tacked on, unable to resist. Jack huffed a laugh, "Dodgy? We just try and do what you do, without you're indomitable cleverness and a smidgen less running."
The Doctor flicked a casual glance over Jack and nodded seriously, "Yes I can see that."
Jack for his part just chuckled.
"Where did you leave the TARDIS Doctor?"
"Oh she's around somewhere."
"You don't bloody know where your own ship is?" this from an exasperated Owen, "Of course he knows, don't you Doctor, he's just being coy, but that's understandable. We are Torchwood" Jack said with a casual shrug.
Owen blinked before saying "Oh," and if the Doctor didn't know better he'd think there was a dash of disappointment mixed in there somewhere.
"I guess you'll be needing some spare clothes, seeing as how your clothes are all wet and clingy, and…"
Nothing. Jack had drifted off, lost in thought likely finishing off that sentence with graphic detail in his head. The Doctor bit his lip finding this oddly amusing, apparently the thought of him all 'wet and clingy' and knowing Jack very naked too, was enough to send the human into a daze.
It was really quite flattering.
"Huh? What, oh right, clothes."
The Doctor had crossed and uncrossed his arms several times before Jack returned with a suitable change of clothes, the shirts were a wee bit large and he'd need a belt for the trousers but in the end it worked out well enough.
Even if he did feel like he was playing dress up in the Captains clothes.
The Doctor also noticed that they smelled like him, not the raunchy last weeks sweat kind of smell but a faint dab of that unique something that was purely Jack Harkness, and the Doctor found out much to his surprise, he rather liked it. And if that wasn't strange Earth with a Purple sun and a Yellow moon, and a Violet sky then well, he wasn't a Time Lord.
All the facts could hardly be wrong the rules of logic dictated if it quacked like a duck, and looked like a duck then it usually was a duck.
The though that he was comparing himself to a duck was off putting to say the least.
He was going mad, he was. And yet all his mental faculties were in perfect working order and nothing specific was wrong with him which left only one answer…And there it was, plain as the nose on his face, and the stripes on his suit.
"Blimey, I think I'm falling for Captain Jack Harkness."
The idea completely blindsided him, popping up from the myriad of things zipping through his mind at warp speed. But it was the most confounding because if it was true and he wasn't admitting that for a moment, then he was in for some serious trouble. Now was the worst possible time to start feeling things, other than friendship, for the Captain.
A)He'd just been assaulted.
B)He was involved with Jones
C)Where in the Cosmos had these, dare he say it, feelings, come from?
Bad timing wasn't showing up late for a wedding. Bad timing was the TARDIS appearing in the midst of the 1918 Battle of San Won with Theodore Roosevelt charging down the front lines.
Bad timing was plotting the wrong course and winding up in Phryxus on the eve of intergalactic war. Bad timing wasn't forgetting the odd anniversary, because really who ever remembered?
Bad timing was boarding the Titanic before its historic sinking. "The ship that couldn't possibly be sunk, please, it was doomed the moment those words were spoken" the universe didn't like impossible things.
Even if, maybe, the Doctor did.
That right there was bad timing, but the Doctor he had the worst timing in the history of bad timing.
His hearts were set on the Captain apparent by the way they beat like drums against his chest whenever Jack entered the room, so loudly that the Doctor thought for sure he'd notice.
Thankfully, he didn't.
Then his stomach rebelled doing ridiculous flip-flops when Jack brushed past just a little to close.
Furthermore he was having the darnest time keeping his eyes on what he was doing, a nifty computer upgrade for Ms. Sato, and off of Jack-bloody-Harkness.
Of all the times they might've chosen to go and fall for someone they chose now, and they chose Jack. That was bad timing, in the history of bad timing.
And the Doctor should know, he'd been there.
Author Note: Thank you everyone for the wonderful reviews, and a special thank you to Sherlocks Sparrow for being such a good sport about helping me fill in the blanks when my Muse was lacking. And to Athnina for the reviews, you made my day, I hope you've enjoyed "Eclipse" and are satisied with the ending I've come too. There is a sequal in the works, in case anyone wanted to know.
Again, thank you all, reviews feed a writers soul, and the Muses inspiration.