Title: Rubber Band Effect
Characters: Captain Jack Harkness/Rose Tyler
fic_variations Prompt: Time (#3)
Content Warning: Spoilers through 410: Midnight.
Summary: Rose finds herself a bit off course in her search for the Doctor.
Author's Note: I haven't seen "Turn Left" yet. In fact, I still have to wait about ten minutes for it. I don't know how Rose has been trying to get in contact with this world -- this is all just speculation. I was going to wait until after I watched the finale, but apparently I wasn't allowed. Muses are finicky things.
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters of Doctor Who or Torchwood. They're owned by the BBC. However, any and all original characters are mine, so please do not use them without my permission.
Traveling between parallel worlds wasn’t really an exact art. They hadn’t perfected the technology, even with the world crashing down around them. Holes were being created, but there was no telling where they would end up. She wanted to get to London, to try and find the Doctor when he landed in her timeline for some reason or another, but there was no way for them to pinpoint exactly where she was going to break through the void and come out on the other side. Somewhat like the Doctor when he would want to wind up in London on Christmas, and he turns up in Cardiff on Christmas Eve. In fact, it was exactly like that, because she was aiming for London, and she managed to stumble her way into Cardiff.
A few stories under Cardiff, to be more exact.
The first thing she really noticed was the shriek of the pterodactyl over her head as she glanced around, trying to figure out where she was, and how long she had before she got sucked back into her world again. She didn’t want to go back, but it was almost like a rubber band—stretch it too far and you’ll get snapped back to where you belong again. No muss, no fuss. However, every time you stretched the rubber band, she got to land in her universe for a little while longer. And every longer moment she savored with everything she had.
It only took a moment before she found him, leaning back in a chair with a pensive look on his face. He was the last person she ever expected to find, not remembering how things ended with him back when she absorbed the time vortex. All she knew was that the Doctor had left him behind, and every time she asked about him after that, it was nothing. A distant look, almost sad, almost scared and then a blink and it was gone, almost as though she’d never asked. She’d always assumed that the Daleks had taken him, but considering how things had ended up, there he was.
For a brief moment, she wondered if she had found a Jack that came before she had met him—that she had somehow missed her target completely and wound up in the fifty-first century, but as she looked at him, she realized that he was older. Older, much older than he looked. Something had happened to him, and she wasn’t sure what, but that all didn’t really matter. What mattered was that he was there, Jack was there, and all she wanted to do was just run to him and verify that fact for herself and make sure she wasn’t dreaming.
And then he looked up. His eyes met hers, and he jumped out of his chair, moving out of the room and down the gangplank towards her. She started to move towards him as well, and when they met in the middle, he grasped her by her arms, searching her eyes for something, something that she wasn’t sure what it was, but he was touching her. He was there, and that was all that mattered.
“Tell me you’re real.”
“Oh, Jack,” she sighed, before throwing her arms around his neck and pulling him close against her, just closing her eyes and breathing in the scent that was all Jack, just Jack, and this was where she had hoped she’d be for so long. He held her close, tightening his arms around her waist and just holding her there. She wished that she could just stay there, and not snap back to the world beyond, but she knew that wasn’t possible—knew that the fabric of reality would never let her stay. She pulled back from him, lacing her fingers around the back of his neck. “Jack, I don’t have long.”
“How, Rose—the Doctor said—”
“That doesn’t matter. It doesn’t,” she said shaking her head. “How did you—?”
He paused for a minute, before pulling her close again, resting his head against hers as he whispered in her ear. “Dance with me.”
“Jack,” she said, desperate in her voice, starting to try and pull back from him, and he kept her close, rubbing the small of her back lightly as he did. “There’s no time.”
“I remember you saying that the last time I asked you to dance with me,” he murmured as he slipped a hand in his, starting to move them back in forth in time to the music in his head. She eventually relaxed against him, praying that they gave her enough time to finish this dance.
“Answer my question, Jack,” Rose sighed, pulling back to look at him. “The Doctor—he never said—”
He studied her again for a moment, before resting his forehead against hers. “You brought me back, Rose.”
She froze for a moment, before looking up at him. “I what?”
“When you absorbed the time vortex—you brought me back.”
Her grin brightened almost instantaneously. So she did do something right in that mess—other than the Daleks, anyway. She’d always felt somewhat guilty about forcing the Doctor to regenerate, but knowing that she’d saved something, rather than just destroying. “So how’d you wind up back here? Did the Doctor go back and get you?” She was a bubble of excited energy, wanting to know everything that had happened since they had last seen each other, not noticing really that the ecstatic energy wasn’t transferring to him, that he wasn’t sharing in her moment. After a little while, the bubbly grin faded, and she looked up at him, confused and not sure of what had just changed. “What’s wrong, Jack?”
He looked up at her, and she could see the weariness in his eyes, weariness that she never would have expected, never would have seen. “You brought me back a bit too well.”
Rose frowned, not sure how to take that. “What do you mean?”
He pulled away from her slightly, resting his lips against her forehead, before speaking with a heavy sigh. “I can’t die, Rose. You brought me back permanently.”
It took her a moment to process this, and her hand left his shoulder, coming over her mouth as she realized the gravity of what she had done. “Oh, Jack. Oh, God, Jack—I’m so sorry. I’m so, so sorry. I didn’t mean to—”
“I know, Rose,” he said, cupping her face in his hands as he brushed her cheekbones with this thumbs. “Believe me, I know.”
She watched him for a moment, then noticed as the walls started to swirl behind him. “Jack, I don’t have much more—” She was cut off as Jack suddenly pulled her closer, kissing her deeply. Her eyes closed, leaning in and relishing it for as long as she could, before Jack started to fade away. He sensed it, he must have, because he pulled away, and she reappeared with her hands against the wall of Torchwood in her world. Another time that the rubber band snapped back. She kept her eyes closed, and just stayed where she was, savoring the moment while she had it. She had a feeling that she was never going to get another one like that again. She needed to keep it while she had it.