Author: adaliazandra @ adaliafic
Fandom: Doctor Who
Characters: Ten, Future!Jack
Rating/Warnings: The Rating Formerly Known as PG-13. Nothing graphic. Quick and unbetaed, so please do let me know if you happen to notice any typos. THIS FIC CONTAINS LARGE SPOILERS FOR WATERS OF MARS. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
Summary/Teaser: What if there had been someone else standing in that road at the end of WoM, watching from the shadows?
Author’s Notes: Darn new episode derailing me when I'm supposed to be working on time-critical schoolwork and previous WIP fics! Instead I've written this, which adds a few minutes between Adelaide's final action in the episode and the moment the Doctor sees Ood Sigma in the street, hopefully fitting seamlessly into canon. There is a distinct possibility that this is Old!Jack from the GP Who Universe at some point in his timeline before the events of Growing Pains. I haven't decided yet. But this is definitely a Jack much, much older than the one we last saw in CoE.
Disclaimer/Apology: I don’t own these characters, I’m just borrowing them. For better or worse, I happen to be American. So please excuse my English.
He watched from the shadows as the Doctor walked back toward the TARDIS, confident and powerful, madness sparkling brightly in his eyes.
He watched as Captain Adelaide Brooke, one of his childhood heroes, calmly closed her front door and shot herself dead, making her window glow brightly blue for a single second and thus ensuring that the timeline was safe for all the remaining seconds to come.
He watched as the Doctor turned around in shock and stood motionless for a long moment, staring off into space, before falling weakly back against the solid exterior of the TARDIS.
All was silent. And then, without so much as looking in his direction, the Doctor spoke to him. His voice was as cold as the snow which still fell serenely around them.
"Did you know that she was going to win in the end, Jack? Is that why you're here?"
Jack couldn't help but notice what a telling turn of phrase that was. The Doctor spoke of her selfless choice to die for the sake of the human race's future as if she'd won in some contest against him, just as the Master had done spitefully on the Valiant all those years ago. It would have been both shocking and horrifying to hear him speak that way if Jack hadn't had the dubious benefit of already having heard him declare himself the winner of the Time War just moments previously. So instead it was just horrifying.
Steeling himself for the confrontation to come, Jack moved out of the shadow and towards the TARDIS to respond.
"If by that you mean did I know she was going to kill herself to preserve the timeline you'd destroyed, then yes, I did know," he replied, stopping just out of arm's reach from the Time Lord who still wouldn't look in his direction. "I actually felt the timelines warping and changing. I'm a fixed point, myself, but I would never even have been born if the human race hadn't gone to the stars. Everything would have unraveled and it... it could have been very bad, Doctor. I had to come back and make sure this event occurred as it needed to. And I had to know why."
"You had to know why? What what?" the Doctor replied, sounding detached and only mildly curious, still staring blankly at Adelaide's darkened, silent house.
"You're in the news reports, you know. The other two, Yuri and Mia, they tell the world what you did. When I read about what happened when the story broke the next morning, it was different than what I'd been taught in history lessons in my childhood in the future. And your name was all over it. I had to know why you tried to change such a pivotal event... but I guess now I do."
"You heard what I said, then. What Adelaide said," the Doctor stated as if it were a fact he was already sure of.
Jack supposed he probably was sure of it. He'd probably felt Jack's unique presence nearby from the moment he'd exited the TARDIS. The only remaining question was why he hadn't asked Jack to join the Time Lord Victorious's self-congratulatory party sooner.
"I heard," Jack confirmed for him anyway.
The Doctor finally turned to look at him and the dark, cold look in his eyes nearly took Jack's breath away.
"So how does it feel, Jack, to know that you aren't the only one in the universe who's wrong, after all? I can fix that in your case, by the way. All I have to do is go back and stop Rose from absorbing the Vortex."
Jack shook his head sadly. "No, Doctor. It doesn't work that way, and you know it. You would just cause another pivotal timeline to unravel."
The Doctor scoffed, pushing away from the TARDIS and stalking dismissively past Jack before turning around and stalking straight back towards him. He was agitated, angry, and dangerous. Jack mentally braced himself as the Time Lord closed the distance between them again.
"Don't you understand?" the Doctor railed, his hands darting about emphatically for a moment before he abruptly turned and began pacing back and forth in front of the TARDIS. "You could regain the ability to die. Adelaide doesn't have to die. I can always go back and rewrite the timeline again. There's no reason I can't rewrite any timeline I choose. Or all of them! All of Time is mine to control! I can fix whatever I like... I could even go back far enough to make sure the Daleks never have the chance to exist and spread their hatred and death and destruction across the universe! In fact, I think that's what I'm going to do next! There's no one left to stop me and there's nothing left I can't do!"
"So you'll be bringing Gallifrey back, then? Won't they have a thing or two to say about what you've done? The other Time Lords?" Jack asked him softly as the Doctor paused to take a breath, thus effectively derailing his rant.
The Doctor's wild motion came to a shuddering halt in front of Jack. His arms stopped their frantic fluttering about and came to rest wrapped around himself. His eyes dropped down to the ground between them.
"You hadn't thought that through, had you," Jack surmised when the Doctor failed to respond after a moment. The Time Lord's head jerked up and their gazes met. Jack shivered in sympathetic reaction to the haunted look he saw on his old friend's face. "You hadn't thought any of this through."
"It doesn’t matter," the Doctor whispered almost desperately. "I can change them, too, if I have to. I always wanted to, anyway."
"Do you really think that would work?" Jack asked him, finally bridging the empty air between them by reaching out and grabbing the Doctor's shoulders. He resisted the urge to shake him and instead aimed for a reassuring grip. "If you changed the Time Lords so much that they would accept what you've done you would probably have managed to negate your own existence in the process. I can't even imagine how big a paradox that would create. It could tear apart the fabric of Time surrounding Gallifrey. It would all be destroyed again, would all have been for nothing! You would still be the last Time Lord, assuming you even survived the experience!"
"Well, maybe that would be a good thing," the Doctor muttered darkly. As Jack watched, the haunted look faded away and the crazed look returned. The transition was smooth but quick, like the flipping of a switch had turned his deeply-hurt friend back into this raving monster.
"Are you even listening to yourself!?" Jack demanded, something inside himself snapping as he gave in to the temptation to shake the Time Lord solidly.
"Are you even listening to me, Jack? None of it matters! I can do anything I want!" the Doctor replied angrily, exploding free of Jack's grip and shoving him forcefully backwards. He pressed his advantage, pushing Jack until he was backed against the TARDIS and pinned there several inches off the ground by one thin but incredibly strong arm.
The physical violence of it was more shocking than any of the Doctor's verbal ravings had yet been. It knocked some sense into Jack, though likely not in the way the Doctor had intended. In that moment, Jack realized that there was no good he could do here. There was absolutely nothing he could do to help his oldest and dearest friend through this dark and painful stretch of time in his life.
And, what was worse, he suddenly knew without a shred of doubt in his mind that he shouldn't even be trying.
It wasn't a fixed point, as such, but it was an integral section of the Doctor's timeline. There was nothing Jack could or should do to change it.
"I should go," he whispered sadly to the crazed Time Lord whose face was mere inches from his own. "I really should go. I'm sorry."
The Doctor's expression darkened to one of terrible rage. Despite long years of becoming used to his own immortality, the small, frightened animal that lived in the back of Jack's mind still knew when it had been hunted down and trapped by a powerful predator. For the first time, Jack instinctively feared for his safety at the hands of the Doctor.
But then the rage passed, slipping away to leave only the previous madness in its wake. The Doctor dropped Jack and pushed away from the TARDIS, a horrible, manic laughter escaping him. He paced across the street again, hands wringing jerkily through his hair.
Jack landed back on his feet with a soft thud and spent a moment bracing himself against the TARDIS and catching his breath. He felt a warm, worried-feeling pulse of energy spread through him from the aged, blue wood he was leaning against. Keeping a wary eye on the Time Lord currently in the process of losing his mind just on the other side of the road, Jack took a moment to press his hands into the TARDIS's exterior and whisper an apology.
"I'm sorry. I can't help him now. But he's going to be okay. You'll see."
"Stop flirting with my ship!" the Doctor ordered him, suddenly pointing the sonic screwdriver threateningly in Jack's direction as he stalked forward again. His tone of voice was a sickening mockery of the almost flirtatious way he had always said those words in the past.
Jack hastily backed around the TARDIS and out into the other side of the street, trying to maintain his distance. There was nothing more he could do here. The timeline of Captain Adelaide Brooke's family was safely set in motion, and no matter how much it hurt to leave the Doctor alone in this state it was exactly what Jack now needed to do. He began to blindly feel for the controls on his Vortex Manipulator, warily keeping his eyes on his disturbed friend.
"I'm sorry," he said again. "I can't help you. I can't even be here. I'm so sorry I have to leave you to face this on your own. But... it's going to be okay. I can at least promise you that. It's going to be okay."
"What are you talking about, Jack?" the Doctor demanded angrily as his path took him in front of the TARDIS. "Of course everything is going to be okay. I can do whatever needs doing to fix anything that isn't okay. Time is my personal playground! Wrong or not, I am the Time Lord Victorious!"
Jack had reached the center of the road and stopped, his hand poised on the activation control of his Vortex Manipulator.
"But you already know what's going to happen, Doctor," he pointed out. "You told me... you said you'd already been told at this point that he would knock four times. So I know that you already know what's going to happen."
The Doctor stopped in his tracks, the madness once more abruptly shifting back into the haunted terror.
"What's happening to me, Jack?" he asked plaintively, leaning weakly against the TARDIS once more as if all the fight in him had just melted away. "What's going to happen to me?"
"I can't be any more specific than this," Jack said sadly, suddenly fighting back tears. "It's bad, Doctor. And I wish so badly that I could help you through it. But, in the end, you're going to be okay. And I'll be there. Just remember that. I can't be here for you now, and I couldn't be there for you then, but later... I'll be there. And that's all I can say. I'm so sorry. I have to go now."
The Doctor just shook his head slightly and stared silently back at him, such a hurt and frightened look on his face, as if he didn't understand what Jack was trying to tell him.
Before he could lose his nerve and give in to the strong impulse to go comfort his friend, Jack pressed the activation control that would teleport him away. The last thing he saw through the tears he could no longer hold back and the shimmering of the teleport beam was the Doctor reaching one hand towards him as if desperately begging him to stay.
When he re-materialized, a safe distance away in both physical and temporal location, Jack crumpled bonelessly to the ground and dissolved helplessly into tears. He cried for his friend's terrible pain and his own devastating inability to do anything at all to make it better. The only thought he clung to was the fact that he knew he'd done the right thing.
The right thing had just hurt so terribly much to do.