such_heights: amy and rory looking at a pile of post (who: little blue box [gemstar69])
Amy ([personal profile] such_heights) wrote2010-10-27 06:58 pm

FIC: Memory and Time (Doctor Who; Ten/Rose/Jack)

Memory and Time
Doctor Who ; Ten/Rose/Jack ; PG-13 ; 3000 words ; no content notes ; beta'd by [personal profile] lyras and [personal profile] wanderlight ; also at the AO3
In which Rose gets sick, Jack comes back, and the Doctor doesn't know what to do about either of them. AU.

Written for [livejournal.com profile] wendymr for the [livejournal.com profile] help_haiti auction, many moons ago. Many thanks to her for her generosity and infinite patience!

---

Memory and Time

---

Mostly, Rose is really bloody annoyed. She's sprawled on her back like an idiot, and she'll get up in a second, she's fine, but Jack and the Doctor are fussing over her like two mother hens and her legs don't seem to be working properly. Stupid alien tea; she should have known that was a bad idea.

"Rose, can you hear me?" the Doctor says, and she'll reply in a moment; she just needs to rest, and his voice is so far away.

She slips in and out of consciousness. She dreams of constellations and the aligning planets, and a blue box that sails the swirl of time like an ocean. Starlight bursts bright in her vision, and now she's falling.

---

Miraculously, Rose had managed to make it back to London bang on time for her mum's birthday. This new Doctor seemed to be better at the whole flying the TARDIS business, or maybe he was just trying to impress her. Rose still wasn't used to this new face, not really, but then he'd say something ridiculous and have that same goofy smile on his face and she'd feel a comforting wave of recognition.

Mickey was still a little suspicious of him, and that was reassuring too.

It was good to be back home with no alien attacks following close behind. It was just her and her mum after she kicked the Doctor out for a while, and it was almost like nothing had changed.

She should have known by now: travelling with the Doctor means you never get more than half an hour's peace and quiet at a time.

There was a crash outside accompanied by a bitten-off yell. Jackie took a second to glare at Rose in an accusatory sort of way before running outside, Rose right behind her.

There was a figure collapsed on the ground below them, grey coat pooling in a tangle by his legs. Rose sprinted down the stair. She didn't even know how this was possible, but Jack Harkness was here, and he was hurt, and that was all that mattered right now.

"Mum!" she yelled. "First aid kit!"

Jackie's eyes widened but she dipped back into the flat, and Rose tore off her jumper as she knelt by Jack, meeting his hands where they clutched his chest, blood dark and wet.

"Found you," Jack said, smiling a little.

"Shut up, don't talk."

Jackie came back with a first aid kit. "Had this for years, barely even opened it," she said, sounding worried, but there was still a roll of bandages inside. "Should I call an ambulance?" she asked, already digging out her phone.

"Oh god, no," said Rose. "This is Jack, he's a friend of mine and he's -- well, he's not from around here. I need the Doctor."

Jackie waved Rose aside. "I've watched enough Casualty, I can handle this. Go find him."

Rose ran as fast as she could, and she didn't look back.

The Doctor was right where Rose had left him, lounging around in the console room and looking a little sorry for himself. He started to speak when she burst in through the door, but thought better of it when he saw the look on her face.

"Jack's here, he's hurt," she said, her speech short and breathless, and then she pelted out the door again, only taking a moment to check that the Doctor was following after her.

Mercifully he didn't pepper her with too many questions as they ran back to the scene. Rose's head was buzzing with half-articulated fears, all of which took hideous form when they reached Jack.

Jackie was kneeling beside him, looking stunned with dark tear tracks down her cheeks. "Rose," she said softly. "Sweetheart. I tried. Even called 999, but it was too late."

The Doctor rested a hand on Rose's shoulder, and she was too numb to do anything but passively accept the touch. Jack had come to her, here, for help, and she had failed him.

They all stood there in mute silence, and then, out of nowhere, Jack took a huge, gaping gasp of life and sat upright.

Rose clapped a hand to her mouth.

"What the hell?" said Jackie.

"Ah," said the Doctor.

"Huh," said Jack. "That was --" he shivered, "-- unpleasant."

"You were dead," Jackie said accusingly.

"Yeah," Jack agreed, and clambered to his feet. "You must be Rose's mother," he said, and took a gallant bow to kiss her hand.

Rose glanced at the Doctor, and they rolled their eyes in unison.

"So," said Jack, clapping his hands together, "Twenty-first century, lovely little place you got here. Much better than my last visit - late nineteenth, wretched historical period. Took weeks to get my manipulator up to attempting another jump after I overshot, and managed to pick up a couple of enemies in the meantime." He gestured at his blood-stained shirt with a tight-lipped smile.

"What happened?" Rose asked hesitantly, stepping towards him.

Jack peeled back his torn shirt, revealing smooth unbroken skin where there should have been a wound. "I've got nothing," he said, and then looked to the Doctor.

The Doctor was watching the scene with a closed-off expression, something resigned in his eyes. "This is so wrong," he said.

"Right," said Jack, hurt. "It's good to see you, too."

Rose wrapped her hand in the thick wool at Jack's wrist, a tight, miserable feeling growing in her chest. Then the feeling started to spread, and change, her vision going blurry and nausea building up in waves.

"Rose?" the Doctor asked, sounding suddenly concerned.

She went down to her knees, Jack gripping her shoulders and Jackie anxiously looking at her.

"I feel --" she started, but she couldn't explain it. There were galaxies in her head and time roaring in her ears. She looked up at the Doctor and saw him as he was and as he had been and as he would be, a dozen faces and so many lifetimes. She couldn't focus, she could feel herself slipping until she was outside her own body, watching the scene from above in a disinterested, disconnected way. Something was happening, somewhere far away from here, and it was pulling her away.

A moment later, she was gone.

---

The Doctor hasn't said anything for a long time now, the silence only broken by the low hum of his sonic screwdriver as he runs scan after scan. Jack watches him, unmoving. Rose has been out for the count on this alien world for hours. Neither Jack or the Doctor know what's wrong with her, but the one thing the Doctor's proclaimed so far is that they absolutely cannot move her into the TARDIS, because whatever it is that's got her in its grip is messing with her chronology, and she's too temporally unstable to survive being inside the TARDIS.

Jack sits back on his heels, feeling stupid and useless. He's run out of his own ideas and every malady he's ever heard of at the Time Agency. The Doctor still seems to have tests to run, but Jack wonders whether he's just delaying the inevitable admission that he has no idea either.

"Doctor," Jacks says. "Just give me something to do."

The Doctor blinks and looks up, as if he hadn't realised Jack was there. "You can stop hovering like that. Just go and see if there's anyone, anywhere you can find."

Jack knows there won't be. After all, they'd been walking into the middle of nowhere most of the day, exploring. But at least a walk will be something to do.

He walks and he walks through beautiful rainforest that he is completely unable to appreciate. He calls for help a few times but he knows that it's useless. There is nobody else here. Whatever the problem is, they're going to have to fix it on their own.

When he returns, Rose remains the same, still and peaceful. The Doctor says that she's anything but, that her consciousness is fracturing, but none of it shows on her face. All they can really do is sit and wait for Rose to fight this off on her own.

Jack starts doing a series of stupid, little things. He brings pillows and blankets out of the TARDIS until he's created a fortress around Rose, shielding her from any harm or discomfort. He wipes her brow and all the other things he can remember his mother doing when he was a child and he was sick.

And in the meantime, there's the Doctor. He's quiet and closed off and unreceptive to Jack's presence in that way he is when he's frightened or worried and doesn't want to talk about it. Jack offers comfort a couple of times - truisms about how he's sure Rose is going to be okay and they've had worse than this before - but the Doctor says nothing in reply.

The day passes and there's no change, no nothing. Jack disappears into the TARDIS and when he returns he brings a trayful of food and drink and a determined expression. The Doctor attempts to shoo him away but Jack isn't having any of it. The Doctor reluctantly accepts a sandwich with an expression more fitting of a moody child than anything. It almost makes Jack laugh. Instead, he sits down beside the Doctor and rests a hand on his shoulder.

Jack doesn't expect much by way of acknowledgement or thanks, because his relationship with this new Doctor is still strained and complicated. He's pretty sure that if the Doctor had his way about it Jack wouldn't be here at all, but Rose is a mediating influence and she wants him to stick around.

The Doctor does meet his eye, though, and although he doesn't smile, some of the tension in his face dissipates. Jack supposes that will do, for now.

---

They travelled through the universe, the Doctor and Jack and Rose, and Rose could see it all. Time had become different for her now. Time hadn't exactly been linear for her for a long time but now it was more than that - there was no order at all, it was everything all at once. She was simultaneously laughing in the TARDIS with Jack, holding the Doctor's hand on some alien world, and curled up in an armchair with tea and a cat, old and satisfied.

She didn't know what was real and what wasn't; all she was aware of was a dizzying array of images, detailing points in her life or in her imagination; she wasn't sure which. Perhaps it didn't matter either way. She was outside time now, floating, observing, being. She could come back, she supposed, but this was so easy, never having to think about where you were going or where you'd been, just existing because you could. Rose wondered, idly, whether this might be a little like what it meant to be the Doctor.

She floated through time and space, leaving her friends behind but wishing she could take them with her. Oh, the things that they'd see - the TARDIS had nothing on this. She'd felt like this before, she knew - bad wolf, I create myself - but she couldn't really remember. There was a small, insistent part of her mind that told her she was not meant to.

---

It was taking a long time for the three of them to get back to where they were before. It had been a slow and frustrating process for Rose because she loved them both, it was that simple, and once they'd loved each other too. Now there was a strange tension between Jack and the Doctor, based on the things that had happened to Jack that none of them really understood.

Rose couldn't really imagine what it was like to be Jack, now. She couldn't think about the fact that all of it was her fault. He'd only talked about it a couple of times, and he'd seemed so unwilling to attach any blame to Rose at all; instead, he said he'd expected the Doctor to be able to fix everything.

Whenever she pressed the Doctor on the issue, on why he was so cold towards Jack, he never really had an answer. He'd mutter something about the laws of the universe and then go back to fixing the TARDIS or whatever it was he was doing before.

Instead she would go and find Jack, and try to spend time with him while the Doctor wasn't around, just to let him know that not everything had to change between them. Jack really was so sad about the whole thing that Rose kissed him as a gesture of reassurance as much anything else. But Jack was Jack, and he responded to it, and Rose figured that if the Doctor wanted to go and have some existential crisis, that was his problem.

Jack was kissing her collarbone when she felt it, the now-familiar tug at her heart. She was being called away from everywhere, all at once, fading out of time. She spoke, but her voice sounded like a distant ocean.

"I'm sorry. I'm trying to hold on. Remember me."

---

Stars. Cold light. The song of the universe. Rose was everywhere, and it wouldn't be long before she would be nowhere at all.

---

Jack is pacing. He's certain it's annoying the hell out of the Doctor, but Jack is half-hoping to get a reaction. Then he freezes, a new thought crossing his mind. No, not a new thought, a new memory.

"Doctor," he says, suddenly urgent. "My timeline's changing."

The Doctor looks up sharply, and Jack can tell he feels it too.

"Outside her flat, when you found us again --" the Doctor starts.

"In the TARDIS, just the two of us --" Jack says at the same time.

"The virus is eating away at her timeline, her own history," the Doctor says. He looks up at Jack, his face wide open with fear. "I don't know what to do."

"'Remember me,'" says Jack. "That's what she said."

He sits down by Rose's side and squeezes her hand. "Hey," he says. "Balloon girl. You in that great big flag t-shirt and all those German bombers. Big Ben, champagne. Remember?"

He glances over at the Doctor, nodding encouragingly. Jack has no idea what he's doing, but it's not as though that's anything new.

The Doctor swallows. "I remember you getting mixed up with Autons in your department store," he says. "Typical, you just had to go looking for trouble, even then. Oh, the things we've seen, Rose, you and me. You and me, and Jack too." He looks up at Jack then. "I remember when we -- that is to say, when --"

"When we first had sex," Jack says kindly, and trust the Doctor to still look like a startled deer about the whole thing. "All Rose's idea."

"She was laughing the whole time," the Doctor says. "It helped me remember what it was like to be happy."

Jack shuts his eyes, his hand still tight in Rose's. He tries to summon to mind every detail of her. Her bright hair, the taste of her skin, every story she's told him. The memories feel vivid and fragile, and Jack holds on with everything that he has. The Doctor reaches out and takes his hand.

---

Someone was calling her name. Rose shuddered, feeling pieces of herself being knitted together with new, strong bonds. Then the forces of the universe were pulling at her, tugging her inexorably down, down.

---

Rose comes to with a shout, a long, low rushing in her ears. The ground is soft beneath her and trees surround her.

And there's Jack, and there's the Doctor, and she relaxes down again, safe.

"You're all right," says the Doctor, "everything's going to be okay."

Jack kisses her temple and smoothes back her hair. "Had us worried for a minute there!"

"Oh," Rose says sleepily, "you'll have to try harder than that if you want to get rid of me."

With their faces hovering over her, worried and relieved and so very familiar, Rose lets herself fall into sleep. It's easy and dreamless, and the universe does not call to her with its insistent song.

---

"Stop. Fussing," Rose snaps, batting the Doctor's hands away. "I can walk fine, I am just going to take my time."

Rose had been more or less out for the count for a couple more days, recuperating. She'd drifted in and out of sleep, waking each time to see Jack or the Doctor watching over her, smiling to see her every time. It's all been very nice, but now Rose has grown bored of the arrangement and wants to attempt more adventurous activities like sitting up and walking around.

The Doctor says she may still be experiencing some lingering temporal instability, and it's best not to risk putting her in contact with the TARDIS just yet. Rose feels somewhat betrayed by her beloved ship, but she must admit that she couldn't have picked a better spot for her convalescence.

It's quiet here, but never silent. There is always the sound of far away birds, or wind whispering through the treetops. Rose is happy to spend her time walking amongst the trees and vines, searching out patches of mottled sunlight and bright, beautiful flowers, some as big as houses. She knows she'll always return home in the end.

The Doctor and Jack seem different, as though some kind of understanding has passed between them while she's been sick. It's a relief to see it, Rose is tired of ferrying between them.

On the third day of her recovery she returns to find the two of them standing close together, intimate, the Doctor's palm on Jack's chest and a soft look in his eyes. They reach for her when they see her and she goes gladly, happy to let their touch ground her and keep her solid and safe in here, now. Home.

[identity profile] azn-jack-fiend.livejournal.com 2010-10-27 06:05 pm (UTC)(link)
This was absolutely wonderful and gorgeous. I teared up at the end.
51stcenturyfox: Gwen <3 (Future)

[personal profile] 51stcenturyfox 2010-10-27 06:29 pm (UTC)(link)
So great.

Rose figured that if the Doctor wanted to go and have some existential crisis, that was his problem.

YEAH. :D
pocky_slash: (:D)

[personal profile] pocky_slash 2010-10-27 08:50 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh, this made me so happy! My original Team TARDIS! ♥ ♥ ♥
laurashapiro: (so cool)

[personal profile] laurashapiro 2010-10-27 11:21 pm (UTC)(link)
Sweet. Thank you for writing this.
trelkez: (Default)

[personal profile] trelkez 2010-10-28 01:07 am (UTC)(link)
Oh, lovely. ♥ the OT3.
secondsilk: By smeared_icons @ LJ (Amused)

[personal profile] secondsilk 2010-10-28 08:42 am (UTC)(link)
This is wonderful. And subtle. The whole big story that it's a part of. The ease and tension between them, the travelling that they do, how much they love each other and the life they can build together!
wanderlight: (Default)

[personal profile] wanderlight 2010-10-30 11:52 pm (UTC)(link)
Yay, this! \o/ You have all of my comments on it already, but ♥.

[identity profile] wendymr.livejournal.com 2010-10-28 02:04 am (UTC)(link)
Yay! Thank you so much! This is lovely, and so original in its plot and execution. As if it's not hard enough for Jack to come back after being left behind and then to find the Doctor distant towards him, suddenly Rose is sick and neither of them know what's wrong :( I can only assume it's a remnant of having held the Time Vortex inside her when she rescued the two of them.

Lovely solution having Jack realise what to do and he and the Doctor working together to make it happen. And that final paragraph is beautiful :)

Thank you so much again!

ETA: want to link on [livejournal.com profile] betterwiththree?
Edited 2010-10-28 03:38 (UTC)
juliet316: Made for me by < lj user= alizarin-skies> as a result of bidding on her for the Support Stacie auction.  Not shareable (DoctorRoseJack)

[personal profile] juliet316 2010-10-28 11:46 pm (UTC)(link)
So very nice. Love that Jack and Ten came together to save Rose.

[identity profile] spoggly.livejournal.com 2010-10-29 03:24 am (UTC)(link)
Absolutely lovely!

[identity profile] sahiya.livejournal.com 2010-10-29 03:11 pm (UTC)(link)
This is beautiful. I particularly loved the image of the Doctor and Jack in the last paragraph.

[identity profile] ana-rpm.livejournal.com 2010-10-29 11:21 pm (UTC)(link)
Great story. :)