The Doctor is a lot of things, but blind isn't one of them. He's known since before Cardiff, since a few days after they left 1942. Of course, Jack works very hard to tease and act relaxed about it, but the emotion is there, sitting heavy on Jack's shoulders.
He used to think it wasn't love. No, it was just Jack's way of loving someone. A rather large crush of sorts. It would go away eventually. Time would make him find someone else.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder, they say. It's true, in Jack's case. He stands with the strength of a men ten times the age he was when he met the Doctor the first time, but that emotion is still strong. The tension is still there. He wishes it was just fleeting but it isn't.
They sit and wait for Martha to return with some sort of food. Anything she can find, they said. Saxon's searching for them, and they're on the run. It should be the sort of thing he thrives on, but the disconnection with their world he's forced on his companions hurts. He feels responsible. They pace, the Doctor and Jack, around and around the warehouse where they've been hiding out. The Doctor stops after a time and finds a space of air to stare at.
"You keep that up Doctor, you're going to burn off more of our ozone layer."
The Doctor blinks and looks up at Jack. He can see the circles under the other man's eyes. The youth in his face is still there, but he's so much older now. So much has changed and it's because of the Doctor. He doesn't forget that. He won't let himself forget that.
"Well, I'd be moving just about at the speed of you lot with all those gas-powered machines. SUVs, honestly. Might as well be high-powered lasers." He tries on a smirk for size and it only just about fits.
Jack laughs. He's not sure if it's a genuine laugh, and that hurts. He used to feel like he knew everything about Jack, but the only things he's certain of is Jack is impossible, and Jack is in love with the Doctor. Everything else seems subjective.
"What prescription do you wear?" he asks, offering his hand to take the Doctor's glasses. The Doctor pulls them off his face and hands them over. "Never saw you wear them in the leather-jacket incarnation."
"Eyesight changes with different personas," the Doctor replies. "And I have a wide store of glasses available in the wardrobe room. Oxybiol glass, changes depending on your eyes."
"Also makes you look smart," Jack grins at him. "Going for extra geek-chic, eh?"
"Something like that."
Jack toys around with the glasses for a few moments and looks over to the Doctor. His tone shifts so drastically it's almost as if the room has tilted. "Were you really afraid of me, Doctor? The Impossible Thing?"
"Jack the Fact?" the Doctor offers. He sighs and shakes his head. The answer to that question swirls about his brain a bit. Afraid. What fear what really made him pull the lever to run away from Jack Harkness? What made him run away from him twice?
"I failed you, Jack," he says at last.
"You didn't---" Jack begins to interrupt, but the Doctor raises his hand.
"No, I did. You would never have had to be resurrected by Rose, you would never have had to go through everything you went through if I didn't fail. If I didn't let the Daleks take over. And…I'm sorry." An apology. It had been a while since he'd managed one of those. Funny, how letting that out released a tension in his shoulders he didn't realize he had.
"Oh, come on, Doc. You know I'd stick it out with you until the end." Jack's jaw tightens, and he looks like he wants to say something very, very badly. In any other circumstance, the Doctor imagines he'd be on the end of a rather nice love poem. Jack's a rather creative individual and the Doctor imagines he's rather good at them. But he's the Doctor, and the Doctor doesn't get romantic things quite so easily. He's too much of a threat to be a typical lover.
"I know, Jack," the Doctor says. He tries to keep his voice neutral, but it comes out with emotion he didn't realize was there for the other man. "I really do."
The words seem to have some sort of an effect on Jack. A little bit of awe, a little bit of frustration. After all, if the Doctor's known all this time, why didn't he do something? Why didn't he say something? It would be too complicated to say why. To explain what he knows and what he can't have.
But maybe the Doctor's overanalyzed the situation. This is Jack, after all. Two steps forward and Jack takes the Doctor by the face and kisses him firmly. Almost desperately. Yep, there's definitely desperation in Jack's kiss. His mouth opens just slightly and his tongue traces the Doctor's lower lip.
The Doctor's breath catches at the sudden expression of sexual adoration, but he doesn't push him away. Which is probably completely unfair. The Doctor can't love him back. No. No, that's a lie. He could easily love Jack back. Jack is so bloody lovable it's not even funny. All heroics and big smiles and bravery. And, as he's quickly learning, Jack is a rather fantastic kisser. The Doctor won't love Jack back because that would push boundaries he's set up for himself aside. And he can't let that happen.
Still, he doesn't pull away from the kiss.
The Doctor is a little taller than Jack is, and Jack wraps his arms around his neck, using the slight difference to his advantage. The Doctor's hands stay by his side, but he imagines what it must be like to tangle them in Jack's hair. To allow himself to give in to desires.
Jack and he are very much alike, he thinks. Very similar sexual interests, although Jack's libido is universes larger than the Doctor's. Maybe that's why he understands this kiss, understands the need. Maybe that's why he kisses back, even as his body stays unmoving. It's easy, sometimes, to blame ordinary things on extraordinary situations. Ordinary things like blurting out emotions, or finding a sudden sexual urge. These things are things that can be done ordinarily but might not be done unless a situation presented is extraordinary.
Like Great Britain being run by the Master. That's fairly extraordinary, and completely terrifying. That…well, that has to be the reason for hidden emotions coming out. For kisses and touches and nearly-spoken emotion.
"Doctor." Jack is the first to pull away, though he speaks the other man's name just above his mouth. It could almost be a prayer, the way he says it so lovingly.
That…well, with Archangel…well, it could work. A plan begins to form in his mind, even as he tries to stay focused on the situation. On the man still holding him close.
Apparently Jack can sense his mind wandering, because the look on his face (briefly, before it's covered up by a mask of indifference) is very disappointed. He wants some sort of a reaction and the Doctor doesn't know how to give it.
"Here." He hands the Doctor back his glasses. "Lots of work to do, right?"
Jack begins to pull away and the Doctor pulls him back. He doesn't kiss Jack, but the suddenness of his movement is enough to cause Jack's breath to catch in surprise. He presses his forehead to Jack's and holds him there for a moment. A long, painful moment where he tries to think of what to do next. Of what this terrible plan forming in his head will mean for mankind. What it will mean for Jack.
Jack Harkness. Con man and Casanova-in-training. Only here because he'd travel to the ends of the universe for the Doctor (and he has). The Doctor feels a heavy guilt settle over his hearts at that knowledge. Better off as a coward, Jack said once. He was probably right.
There's the sound of high heels clamoring down the walkway into the warehouse. Jack jerks away from the Doctor first and takes a few steps away; trying to recover from what is probably more emotion than he's allowed himself to feel in a long, long time. The Doctor understands that. Oh, but he wishes he didn't understand that. He moves to his own chair and looks up at the computer screen he snagged from Martha's flat. Tries to look like he was, truly, in the middle of something that didn't involve snogging one of his companions.
He tries to think of a way to stop this whole disaster with the Master before it ever began. He doesn't think he can, anymore than he can make Jack stop loving him.
Muse: The Doctor (Ten)
Fandom: Doctor Who
Word Count: 1,507