Characters/Pairings: Ten/TARDIS, Jack/Ianto, Martha/Tom
Summary: The Doctor, Jack, and Martha talk about the Year That Never Was with their respective partners.
Word Count: 2,045
Original Story: http://www.fanfiction.net/s/4571091/1/And_So_It_Goes by Galadriel 1010
Notes: Special thanks to my wonderful beta <3
It's only just ended. He's leaving the site of the pyre, the burning smell of his mortal enemy (oldest friend) still clinging to the hairs in his nostrils. He has to get away from that, he has to run away. But he can't run yet.
The Doctor steps back into the TARDIS. He slips off his trainers so his feet can touch grating and it's very like he's come home for the first time in a year.
A long, horrible year that the TARDIS knows so well.
He puts a hand to the cool railing leading up towards the console. The flat of his palm slides along the rusted surface, skin against metal. Ship to man.
There's pain there within her, so much pain. He can feel it, he knows it's there.
He reacts on instinct, slipping on his glasses and getting to work. He breaks the wire mesh around the console. He digs the bullets out of the coral and dabs at the warm, oil-like blood that ooze from the wounds.
"It'll be all right," he murmurs to his ship. "I promise."
It's been six months. They've fallen back into a familiar pattern: get in trouble, get out of it. The team handled things pretty well without him and he's impressed. Even now, having accidently slipped back twenty hours due to a shift in the rift, they've already prepared a place to stay for the night in a local hotel so they won't accidently run into themselves.
Jack heads to his hotel room door to answer the knock. It's Ianto, standing there with two cups of tea and a somewhat shy smile on his face.
"Where were you, Jack?" he asks, without preamble. He's not asking about the incident earlier this evening, or even last week. He's asking about when he vanished for a few weeks. A few weeks, Ianto's time, a year for Jack.
It's a year that Ianto knows a few things about.
"Come in." Jack reaches out for the tea and his fingers brush Ianto's as the cup passes between them. Warm skin against warm skin. Familiar contact. Man to man.
Jack needs to talk about the year. He needs to. There's so much pain there, Ianto can't feel it but he knows it's there.
Jack wants to react instinctively. He wants to toss the tea aside and pull Ianto towards him, silence him the way he's silenced most of his questions these last few months, with touch and sensation. But not tonight. No, tonight he lets Ianto in.
He moves to the bed and sits on the edge of the coverlet.
"I used to think it would be all right," he tells Ianto. "If I just forgot about it."
It's been a year. She's completed her medical degree, she's finished residency, and she's left everything for a life in the military. It's good. It works. She functions. She's got herself a new flat, a new car, and even rustled up something like a relationship between herself and Tom Milligan, the man she met briefly during the year.
Martha slips into the café forty-five minutes late. She always was a woman who kept the time, but lately things at work have been difficult, she's been stressed and frustrated, though she's bottled it up tightly.
"Running a bit late?" Tom asks. He smiles warmly, though from the number of empty coffee mugs on the table, she imagines he's been waiting for the whole forty-five minutes, if not longer.
He stands and holds the chair out for her. She sits and her bare shoulder brushes his fingertips. Her skin is cold from the fall weather, his is warm from the café. Still unfamiliar, the touch. Woman to man.
"I need to talk to you," she says, not bothering to apologize for her tardiness. She needs to talk to him about why they met. About the year.
The year he knows nothing about.
She doesn't consider instinct in her manner. She accepts a cup of coffee and pours exactly the right amount of sugar and stirs the cup in a counter-clockwise motion. Her fingers are graceful, they don't betray how she's trembling inside.
"Are you all right?" he asks, sliding into the chair next to her.
"It was never supposed to be like this," he says, plucking out another bullet and dropping it into the bucket by his feet. He has no idea how long Jack blasted at the console, but he had to have emptied at least one clip of bullets into her core.
She hisses in his mind, the pain so raw. He pauses and strokes the side of the console. The pain quiets.
"I could've saved him. I could've…convinced him."
There's a quiet pressure on his mind, something similar to a reminder. A reminder that things can't always be fixed. Or that they've always been broken.
She was not pleased to see the Master. She did not want to take him where he tried to go. She did her best to make every journey painful and frightening. And the Master, in turn, chained her, deformed her, broke her. She suffered more than anyone that year.
And the Master would not let her die. The Doctor begged for him to just kill her, to spare her the pain.
The Master liked the pain.
The Doctor plucks another bullet from the console, just under the fast return switch.
She presses a feeling of nostalgia to him. Of Susan and Ian and Barbara and easier times. Younger times. They have a lot of pain right now, but they also have memory.
The Doctor smiles, despite himself.
"It was never supposed to be like this," he says, idly stirring his tea. "I was supposed to forget. Give up the memories, eventually."
"What happened that year?" Ianto asks. His voice is cool, grounding. It feels good, to Jack, to know that someone can still hold him here, keep him on the planet even when he has a universe offered to him.
"The Master," he says. "Destroyed the world, killed everyone. Me, many times."
Most of the Torchwood crew died in the first attack. Owen, Tosh, Rhys. Gwen and Ianto stayed away, safe, or so Jack wanted to believe. But every now and again a bloody piece of suit or a leather high heel with a foot still attached would turn up with dinner. All to keep him guessing, keep him worried.
And the Master would never tell him if he'd killed them or not. Jack never begged, but he asked, tell him if they were alive, stop the pain of his worry.
The Master liked the pain.
Jack takes a sip of his tea. "Not the Doctor," he says.
Ianto nods. Though he doesn't know the Doctor, he knows about him at least. Jack doesn't have to say it for Ianto to know who saved the world.
Jack smiles, despite himself.
"It was never supposed to be like this," she says, taking a sip of her coffee. "I was just supposed to thank you. I thanked a lot of people."
"Thank me for what?"
"For what you did for me," she says. "In…a year that didn't happen. For you."
She tells him in that calm, methodical way she talks to patients. She tells him what she knows and she diagnoses herself as sane but suffering from PTSD. It's pretty obvious, she says, if one considers what happened. And she tells him.
It was a year she walked the Earth. A year fighting Toclafane and people who'd turned on her. A year of telling stories and healing wounds and giving up on herself and giving up on the world. And finally finding one person, one friend. Tom. He saw her, even though the rest of the world couldn't.
And the Master killed him. Viciously, mercilessly. She refused to show the way his death hit her like a bullet through her heart. She wouldn't show him that pain.
The Master liked the pain.
"And that's why I wanted to thank you," she says. "For dying for me."
"If you just wanted to thank me," he says, shaking his head like he's trying to decide whether or not she's completely mad. "Why are we dating?"
Martha smiles, despite herself.
He pulls out broken pieces of metal and buffs the coral smooth. He feels the relief his actions give to the machine. He wishes he could do more, could do it faster, could stop her hurting
"I didn’t want you to die," he says, and he means it. He means it, but he begged for her death, once. Once, when her pain was too great. Once, when he thought that he could survive alone as long as she wasn't hurting anymore. It was a brief moment, a moment where hope seemed to be completely lost.
He likes to think of that moment as completely unselfish. He'd give up the only other being he had in the universe to stop her pain.
But she's alive, here, now. Around him, warm and safe, listening.
He tosses the tea into the bin. The hot liquid splatters against the hotel wall, but Ianto doesn't react to the outburst. He's long since learned that Jack's temper is anything but predictable.
"I didn't want you to die," he says, and he means it. He means it, and he remembers trying to pray, even with his hands chained apart and his body starved and aching, that Ianto wasn't dead. That somehow he and Gwen made it out, that somehow they were alive, well.
He knows the prayer was just as much about himself as it was about Ianto. He couldn't fail all of them.
But he's alive, here, now. Across from him, calm and collected, listening.
She pushes the coffee away. The caffine is making her jittery (or is that the conversation?). Jittery means out of control, and Martha Jones doesn't like being out of control. She spent so long out of control, so long watching terrible things happen to the people she loved.
"I didn't want you to die," she says, and she means it. She means it, but she watched him drop to the ground, watched his dark eyes blacken, empty out. She stepped over his torso once, forcing back all feelings of grief with the reminder that one day, she'd see him again. They'd almost won by then.
She thinks that this, now, is completely selfish. She only wanted to say thank you, and now she can't leave him for fear of losing him again.
But he's alive, here, now. Sitting on the other end of the table, confused and concerned, listening.
"We were all that's left, him and I," he says.
We're all that's left, you and I, she replies with a mental push of emotion.
"You stayed hidden until the end," he says.
"Sorry to worry you, Sir," he apologizes.
"I wanted to see you, the way you saw me," she says.
"And do you?" he asks.
He can't say "I love you," so he presses a hand to her side and offers up his emotions to her. She understands and accepts, and he pulls away her pain and offers up his thoughts. She feeds on them and shares them and she promises she won't leave, not without him.
He can't say "I love you," so he leans across the bed and presses his mouth to Ianto's. He might not understand but he accepts, and he returns Jack's kiss firmly, lovingly. They move back onto the bed and he promises he won't leave, not without Jack.
She can't say "I love you," so she reaches across the table and takes his hand. He might not understand or accept what she's saying, but he knows that from how she's trembling, the simple contact is a feat. He curls his fingers around hers and promises he won't leave, not without her.