• When you came in the air went out.
And every shadow filled up with doubt.
I don't know who you think you are,
But before the night is through,
I wanna do bad things with you.
I'm the kind to sit up in his room.
Heart sick an' eyes filled up with blue.
I don't know what you've done to me,
But I know this much is true:
I wanna do bad things with you. •
He could tell the moment the Doctor walked in the room. It was like the air left his lungs, left the area around him, left the whole bar. Everyone turned and stared at the tall, trenchoat-clad stranger stepping in from the spaceport.
"Was wondering when you'd show up," Jack said, downing another shot. He had a long line of them already empty in front of him, and a few dozen more to go before he died of alcohol poisoning (his preferred method of death since he arrived in this galaxy).
"Oh, I always show up, haven't you figured that already?" His voice was different, and Jack turned his head slightly to the side to watch as the Doctor dropped into the seat next to him.
He looked the same. Same messy hair, same shouldn't-be-as-attractive-as-it-is skinny body, same blue suit. But it was his eyes. They were something Jack always liked about the Doctor; his eyes. They were different now, definitely different. Wilder.
It was a sobering change.
"What do you want?" Jack demanded, reaching for another shot.
"You," the Doctor replied.
Jack downed the shot easily and leered drunkenly at him. "Well, why didn't you just say so? I've got a room upstairs. Died there a few times already, might as well die a little more, if you know---"
"Not like that," the Doctor said, though his look was more amused than anything else. Almost smugly amused. It wasn't something Jack remembered settling so naturally on the Doctor's face.
"Then how?" He reached for another shot, but the Doctor's hand was faster. He caught the small glass and pulled it away from him.
"You're depressed here," he said. "Feel like you've failed Earth. Your team. Your family. That boy---what was his name?"
"Steven, that's right. All of them." He knocked back the shot.
Even in his drunken haze, he knew this was not right. This wasn't how the Doctor acted. But he was right.
Jack swallowed. "Yeah."
The Doctor tilted his head to the side, a bemused and curious expression on his face. "Did you know the 456 were a fixed point in time?"
"Kinda figured that when you didn't show up," Jack said, his voice bitter. "Could've used your help." He was angry at the Doctor since it happened, though he hadn't wanted to admit it. He was angry because of the decisions he'd had to make. Angry because of the people he loved that had to die. He was too drunk to hide his anger, and he knew it.
The Doctor smiled at the anger, like it was a good sign. More than a good sign, a tool. "But I was there, Jack. And so were you."
"What?" He shook his head. "I was there, you---"
"Am one trip away from that place in the TARDIS." He nodded back to the door. "And you are, too. What do you think? Go back, change the universe? Save your friends?" His eyes almost glowed in the dim barlight. Bright and wild, full of confidence Jack wasn't sure he should have.
"That would be crossing over my own timestream," Jack said, shaking his head as if that could possibly clear the drunkenness. "You said that's dangerous. Really dangerous. Universe-ending dangerous."
"I changed my mind," the Doctor replied, and he sounded irritated by Jack's words.
"So suddenly it's not-so end of the universe?"
"Not if I don't want it to be," the Doctor said. "I can change it on my own, but it's up to you to save your friends. To save that Ianto Jones of yours."
At Ianto's name, Jack's head shot up. Save Ianto? He couldn't, could he? Maybe he---but what if---
"It's a paradox," Jack said. "I'd be going back to---"
"Already been taken care of." The Doctor said, slipping from his seat and heading for the door as if a decision had already been made. "I've invested in a paradox machine for these sort of problems."
Jack couldn't think of any paradox machine in the universe besides the TARDIS, but the Doctor wouldn't put the TARDIS on the line like that---would he? The Doctor Jack knew wouldn't insist that changing a timeline or even creating a paradox was a viable option.
But the Doctor Jack knew also abandoned him on Satellite Five. The Doctor Jack knew abandoned Earth during the invasion of the 456.
And he could save them. He could save all of them. All of the people he couldn't save before. He could stop the pain before it began. And the Doctor said it was possible. More than that, he was giving Jack a free ride there.
"Coming?" the Doctor called.
Jack picked up another shot, downed it, and then got to his feet. "Lead the way, Doctor."
His companion smiled. "I don't go by that name anymore."
Muse: The Doctor (Valeyard)
Fandom: Doctor Who
Word Count: 809