A Fine Line between a Fool and a Hero by nordesm

Summary: The Doctor and Jack have a history of self sacrifices and for once the universe decides to give something back.
Rating: All Ages
Categories: Tenth Doctor, Torchwood
Characters: Jack Harkness, Jack Harkness, The Doctor (10th), Torchwood
Genres: Action/Adventure
Warnings: None
Challenges: None
Series: None
Published: 2008.01.19
Updated: 2008.03.17

A Fine Line between a Fool and a Hero by nordesm
Chapter 1: Chapter 1
Author's Notes: Thank you to Jess for the beta work.

“The rift is out of control!” Tosh screamed as the ground shook. There was something terribly wrong. It was the rift yet it wasn’t. It was time, a pocket of time perhaps, a tear in time and space. It was something the team hadn’t encountered before, and frankly, due to the direness of the situation, were likely never to encounter again.

“We can’t stop it!” Owen cried as he grabbed onto the metal railing. Four sets of imploring eyes turned to Jack as if he possessed all the answers.

“Jack, think of something!” Gwen demanded as she reached out to steady Ianto. Jack knew the one person who stood a chance to fix this was probably jaunting across space with a lovely blonde clinging to his arm.

“I’m going into the rift,” Jack announced as he pulled his jacket tighter around his body. His voice could barely be heard over the howling wind.

“You’re going to do what?” Ianto screamed as he stared at his part-time lover through wide eyes. “Only a fool or a hero would even attempt it!” Jack figured on a good day he could be considered both, probably more of the former than the latter.

As if on cue, a blue police box fell through the sky, the widening rift closing after its exit, and dropped to the ground several meters away from the startled team.

“That’s one way to close a rift,” Owen stated.

“Nice entrance,” Gwen added with a smile.

“That bastard stole my thunder,” Jack muttered as he strode forward to wait for the door of the TARDIS to open and a smug Time Lord to appear on the other side.

“It’s him, isn’t it?” Ianto asked quietly. “It’s your Doctor.”

Jack waited for several seconds before using his key to open the TARDIS door. If there was any question that Jack had been involved with the Doctor, it was answered when he used his personal key to gain access to the precious ship. The team waited quietly while Jack searched the TARDIS, and several minutes went by before Jack reappeared. He was still alone.

“Well?” Owen asked.

“He’s not there,” Jack returned quietly as he ran his hand through his hair. That could only mean one thing. It wasn’t a possibility Jack wanted to think about. He leaned back against the blue door, exhaustion and a profound sadness pricking at backs of his eyes.

“Jack, I’m so sorry,” Tosh offered gently.

“I know you and the Doctor were close,” Gwen continued with compassion in her voice. Close? Yes, he and the Doctor were close. They were so many things, but no words in the English language seemed adequate to describe their complex relationship.

They waited for the imminent breakdown, for Jack to succumb to the powerful emotions that were dancing across his face. His eyes narrowed dangerously, and all four members of the team took an involuntary step back.

“That jerk,” Jack growled. “If he thinks he can march in here, save the universe, and go all self-sacrificing martyr on me, he’s got another thing coming!”

“No you don’t, you alien bastard!” Jack yelled as he spun around and glared at the star filled night sky. “Get your scrawny ass down here so I can kick it across time and space!”

“Well, I’m glad to see Jack’s not affected by all this,” Owen deadpanned.

“Jack, he saved the planet,” Gwen offered gently as she reached out to touch his arm.

“That’s my job,” Jack barked as he stepped back. Apparently the legendary Doctor stepped on someone’s toes with his heroic gesture.

“Oh really?” Owen asked. “Is there a contest between the two of you? Who can save the planet the most times? Who’s winning?” He winced when Tosh jabbed her elbow into his side.

“I’m sorry,” Ianto said as Jack continued glaring at the sky as if he expected the stars to provide answers that he was desperately seeking.

“Just once you’d think the universe could give something back,” Jack sighed, his shoulders sagging, his impossible age showing in his weary movements. “Just once it’d be nice if life was fair.”

“Is there anything we can do?”

Jack shook his head, his eyes dancing between insanity, pain, and loss.

“You can’t bring him back,” Jack sighed as he spared a glance at the TARDIS. Anger crept into his bones, a welcomed substitute for the grief that was threatening to overtake his soul.

“This is just like him,” Jack growled. “Flies in long enough to save the day and doesn’t bother stopping by for a proper hello.” Owen and Ianto glanced at each other, concern evident in their eyes. No one bothered to inform Jack that saying hello was rather hard if you were dead.

“We should go back to the Hub,” Gwen stated. She figured if nuclear meltdown ensued, it would be easier to contain Jack in a familiar environment. Owen’s large supply of sedatives wouldn’t hurt either.

“Oh no!” Jack yelled as he defiantly crossed his arms over his chest. “I’m not going anywhere!”

“So that’s then?” Owen asked. “You’re just going to stand out here all night?” It wasn’t that he wasn’t a compassionate man. Well, most of the time he wasn’t, but in this situation he was a realist.

“Why yes I am, Owen! I’m going to sit out here until the damn Universe spits the Doctor right into my lap!” Jack hollered, his voice growing louder to be heard over the howling wind. He spun around, his arms once again opened, as a cool body collided with his and sent him sprawling to the ground.

“Well, that’s one way to do it,” Owen said as he dropped to his knees to examine the man that had just fallen from the sky and landed directly on top of their leader.

“That’s the Doctor,” Ianto commented as he leaned down to verify Jack was still breathing.

“What could have given possibly given that away?” Tosh quipped.

Jack groaned, one hand curling around soft, brown fabric, and another reaching up to rub his forehead. “Doctor?” he asked as he forced his eyes open. “Doctor, look at me! Say something!” He sat up, the Doctor’s upper body wrapped in his arms. “Oh no you don’t. You don’t get to fall from the sky just to die in my arms!”

Eyelids lifted to reveal gentle brown eyes. “Hello Jack.” Jack was the only one that breathed a sigh of relief. The rest of the team didn’t know what to think. It wasn’t often that Torchwood’s worst enemy fell, quite literally, right into their laps.

“Hey,” Jack returned gently. Ianto found himself wondering where all that earlier anger had gone.

“Seventy four,” the Doctor muttered. He laughed briefly, before his eyes slipped into welcomed unconsciousness. Jack growled, a low sound coming from the back of his throat, before standing with the Doctor in his arms.

“Seventy four, sir?”

“He’s saved the earth seventy four times,” Jack sighed as he adjusted the weight in his arms. “He’s just trying to make me look bad.”

Jack knew the universe wasn’t always fair and usually wasn’t kind. He also knew that sometimes, maybe once or twice in a lifetime, if you asked the right way, the universe had a way of giving you exactly what you needed.

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.

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