Jack sat on the jump seat in the console room, watching as the Doctor performed his seventh likely unnecessary diagnostic check of the evening. The Time Lord had not reacted well to Jack’s tentative suggestion that they go somewhere, standing by his earlier claim that he was ‘done’ adventuring.
Jack could only wonder how long that would last. The Doctor had spent the day fidgeting and bouncing around as impatiently as his healing injuries would allow.
Looking back over the day, Jack was confident that he’d done the best he could. He’d promised the battered and exhausted Doctor that he would help him get cleaned up, and that he would turn back all emergencies and potential adventures at the door.
That second promise had been easy. They were floating in the Vortex, so there wasn’t actually anything that could come knocking at the door.
He’d fulfilled the first promise just after he’d made it, helping the limping Time Lord make his way to the infirmary and take advantage of the almost magical medical equipment to be found there. Once his broken ribs, sprained ankle, and twisted knee had all been tended to, Jack had left him sulking in his shirtsleeves and taken his suit and coat off to be laundered.
That was one thing the TARDIS could manage without supervision, so Jack had quickly returned to the infirmary. He’d arrived to find the Doctor trying to sneak off down the corridor.
“Oh no, you don’t,” Jack had said, grabbing the escaping Time Lord’s arm. “Your ribs aren’t really healed yet. The bones are still knitting and you shouldn’t put any stress on them.”
Reluctantly, the Doctor had allowed Jack to drag him off to a nearby bathroom. Even more reluctantly, he’d sat still as Jack washed his hair.
He’d drawn the line at letting Jack help him take a shower, but Jack had insisted on waiting nearby, just in case.
By the time he’d finished his shower, dried off, and pulled on the pair of stripy pajamas Jack had found, the Doctor had been yawning and nodding off to sleep while standing up. So Jack had patiently prodded him towards his bedroom, where he’d drifted off as soon as his head hit the pillow.
Duty done, Jack had then dragged himself off for his own shower and a much needed rest. He’d slept almost eight hours, and woken feeling refreshed.
The following day had proceeded mostly as a normal day on the TARDIS usually did while floating along in the Vortex. Jack helped the Doctor tinker with the console, and generally lazed around.
But the Doctor’s small, lingering limp and the way his ribs were clearly still aching were constant reminders of their disastrous adventure and the Doctor’s exasperated reaction upon their return to the TARDIS the night before.
As Jack watched the Time Lord wince while determinedly reaching across the console for a lever, he tried to think of what else he could do for his friend. The distraction of travel was apparently not an option. Based on those winces the Doctor was failing to hide, neither were most of the other distractions Jack was proficient at providing.
Then he remembered something from the conversation they’d had the night before as they’d stood muddy and tired in the corridor just outside the console room. And suddenly, Jack knew what he could do.
“Hey, Doc,” he called.
“What is it, Jack?” the Doctor replied absentmindedly, still tinkering away at the console.
“What ever happened to the ‘hot tub’ part of your plan?” he asked.
“The what?” the Doctor wondered, looking curiously over at Jack.
“Hot tub,” Jack replied. “You know, small pool of hot water? Deep enough to sit in comfortably? Usually has those delightful bubble jet things?”
“I know what a hot tub is,” the Doctor sighed. “Are you saying you want one?”
“I was asking if you still wanted one, actually,” Jack answered.
The Doctor’s eyes closed and he sighed again, one hand rubbing gently at his ribs.
“It’s not a terrible idea,” he admitted.
“Well, does the TARDIS have one, or do we need to ask her for one?” Jack enquired, jumping to his feet and stepping up to the console.
The Doctor’s eyes opened again and he looked down at the controls. He flipped a couple of switches and peered at the monitor, then hit a few buttons and flipped several more switches.
“Down the corridor to the right, take the second left, past the spare swimming pool,” he reported triumphantly.
“You have a spare swimming pool?” Jack asked, incredulous.
“Sure,” the Doctor replied, shrugging. He stepped around Jack and made his way towards the interior door, still limping slightly. He called back, “So are you coming with me, or what?”
“Right behind you!” Jack replied, following closely.
The Doctor stopped him with a hand on his chest as they reached the interior corridor.
“Swimsuit, Jack,” he said sternly.
“Aw, do I have to?” Jack complained.
“All right. I’ll meet you there,” he acquiesced. He jogged down the corridor towards his own room, getting a head start on his buttons as he went. He located and changed into appropriate swimwear in record time, and then headed back out into the corridor.
He found the room with the hot tub with little trouble, and at first glance he thought he’d arrived before the Doctor. But as he slipped carefully into to the warm, bubbling water, he saw that the Time Lord was in fact sitting completely submerged on the bottom of the tub.
Jack poked his shoulder gently, and was kicked in reply. Chuckling, he settled himself on one of the benches along the inside wall of the tub. He relaxed, waiting for the Doctor to finally come up for air.
It was a longer wait than it would have been for a human, but not long enough that Jack got bored of simply luxuriating in the feeling of the warm water.
Eventually, the Doctor’s head popped up, hair dripping water down onto his shoulders. The Time Lord took a slow, deep breath.
“I am hereby officially envious of your respiratory bypass system,” Jack told him.
The Doctor grinned.
“This is wonderful, Jack, thanks for reminding me about it,” he said.
“Thanks for sharing it!” Jack replied with a grin of his own.
The Doctor settled himself beside Jack on the bench, wincing again as he moved.
“Still hurts?” Jack asked. He carefully eyed the Doctor’s lanky form, partly looking for signs of his healing injuries and partly appreciating the sight of so much more skin than he was normally allowed to see.
“Just aches,” the Doctor answered, sitting a bit stiffly and rubbing at his ribs again. “I’ll be fine in another day or so.”
“And then we’ll go somewhere new?” Jack replied, wondering just how long the Doctor was planning to refrain from further adventures.
The Doctor groaned theatrically in reply, sliding down on the bench until his head slipped back under the water. He popped back up very quickly, groaning for real and gasping, “Okay, maybe not the best position for the ribs.”
“Oh, Doc,” Jack said, wincing in sympathy.
“Stupid revolutionaries with their stupid explosives and their stupid itchy trigger fingers,” the Doctor grumbled.
“I think it would help if you would just stop moving for more than thirty seconds,” Jack told him. He reached his arm around him, gently pulling the Doctor through the water until the Time Lord was resting against him, supported by his carefully placed arms.
The Doctor wiggled in protest at first, then settled against Jack with a relieved sounding sigh.
“Does that take the pressure off your ribs?” Jack asked him.
“Yes, thank you,” the Doctor replied.
“Good,” Jack said. “Now, just relax. Stop moving.”
“Yes, Mother,” the Doctor replied sarcastically, but he stilled and even let his head drop down to Jack’s chest.
“That’s better,” Jack said, playing up the patronizing tone in response to the Doctor’s sarcasm.
“Oh, shut up, Jack,” the Doctor replied, sounding lazy and happy.
“Yes, sir. Shutting up, sir,” Jack responded dutifully.
They sat in silence for a moment. Jack enjoyed the soothing warmth of the water, and hoped that the Doctor was finding it just as soothing for his aches and pains.
He also thoroughly enjoyed the feel of the Doctor resting against him, nothing between them but the thin layers of material that made up their respective swimming trunks.
“I’m not going to forget that this hot tub is here, you know,” Jack pointed out, breaking the comfortable silence. “And I’m going to misplace every single item of swimwear in the TARDIS, see if I don’t.”
The Doctor chuckled, the sound mirrored by a slight wiggle of his whole body. Shivers cascaded down Jack’s spine, and he found himself suddenly that much more aware of the slippery feel of the Time Lord in his arms.Perhaps something good was going to come of their disastrous adventure in the swamp after all. It was a thought that made Jack smile widely.