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 2: The Line Between a Fool and a Hero Still Exists
Author's Notes: I'm anticipating three parts to this story. Thank you to Jess for the much appreciated beta services!

“What are you doing?” Jack asked, snatching the uncapped needle from Owen’s hand.

“I was trying to take a blood sample,” Owen snapped as he opened the medical cabinet to retrieve a fresh syringe.

“No blood samples, no tests, no — just don’t touch him.” Jack didn’t feel like having to explain what one vial of the Time Lord’s blood could do to the universe. He had even less desire to explain what exactly a Time Lord was.

“He’s my patient, Jack.”

“He’s my friend, Owen,” Jack returned with equal venom. “He’s certainly not one of your patients.”

“Let’s break this down, shall we? He’s an unconscious, possibly injured alien in my medical unit. Sure sounds like a patient to me.”

“Leave him alone,” Jack growled, straightening to his full, imposing height.

“Oh, quit puffing your chest out.” Owen returned the syringe to its rightful place in the drawer. “You look like a chicken having a strop.”

Jack felt the air deflate out of his lungs and he leaned against the wall. He always was rather silly when it came to the Doctor. It wasn’t like the 900-year-old alien wasn’t capable of taking care of himself.

“Since you won’t allow me to examine him,” Owen began, tossing a pointed look in Jack’s direction, “you do expect him to wake up, don’t you? I mean, he has done this before, correct?”

“He’s got an advanced healing system,” Jack stated. “He’ll be awake soon enough.” Owen nodded and wandered out of the medical room to leave Jack alone with his mysterious friend. “You better not make a liar out of me,” Jack growled as he settled down to wait for his friend to wake up.

Two Hours Later

“How’s he doing?” Gwen asked from her place on the landing.

“He’ll be fine,” Jack said with confidence that was flagging and a smile that didn’t reach his eyes. “Falling through the Vortex can’t be easy on the body.”

“A human would never have survived that,” Gwen pointed out.

“Then I suppose it’s a good thing he’s not human.”

“What is he, Jack?”

“He’s an idiot.”

Five Hours Later

“Jack, it’s almost morning,” Tosh said quietly.

“Why are you still here?” he asked wearily, his gaze barely straying from the Doctor’s still form.

“We all stayed. We’re worried about you.”

“I’m not the one who’s unconscious.”

“He’ll get better, won’t he?” She looked at the Doctor, cocking her head to one side. “You made it sound like he does this sort of thing all the time.”

“He’ll get better,” Jack confirmed with a nod. “He’ll get better if he knows what’s good for him.”

Nine Hours Later

“I brought you some coffee.”

“Thanks, Ianto.”

“How is he?” To his credit, Ianto actually sounded concerned. It was no secret that Jack held a great respect for the strange alien - Ianto had heard stories about the Doctor, but the skinny, bedraggled man who fell from the sky wasn’t what he had been expecting. The phrase ‘drowned rat’ seemed a more apt description than ‘intergalactic hero.’

“No change.”

“Is there anything we can do?”

Jack sighed as he reached out and checked the Doctor’s wrist for a pulse. If one more person asked him if there was anything they could do, Jack swore he was going to have a mental breakdown. If there was something that could be done, didn’t they think Jack would be doing it?

“He shouldn’t be out this long.” There. He finally said it. “This isn’t normal for him.”

“What is normal for him, sir?” Ianto asked.

“Not this,” Jack growled. “He just couldn’t leave well enough alone. Always has to meddle. Always has to shove his pesky, know-it-all Time Lordliness where it’s not wanted!”

“Don’t lie. It doesn’t suit you,” Ianto stated simply. “You know you love it when he comes around.”

“Don’t ever let him hear you say that,” Jack admonished with a distant smile. “I’d never hear the end of it.” At that moment, he’d have given anything to have the Doctor wake up and insult his mediocre human intelligence. Anyway, Jack knew he didn’t mean it. It was no secret how much the Doctor adored the human race. The universe was full of planets with thousands of alien races, yet the Doctor kept returning to this planet — and Jack knew it wasn’t to admire the scenery.

“You should let Owen run some tests. Maybe there’s something we can do,” Ianto offered. Despite everything, he couldn’t find it in his heart to be jealous of the Doctor. Jack had told him once that it was like comparing apples and oranges. Ianto knew he gave Jack something the Doctor never could, but he was also acutely aware that the complex relationship between their team leader and the infamous Doctor crossed time, space, and several dimensions.

“Don’t you leave me, you alien bastard,” Jack whispered. “I forbid it. You hear me? I forbid it.” When Jack looked up, Ianto had gone.

Twelve Hours Later

The shrill sounds of the alarm system echoed through the Hub and the team began gathering readouts and weaponry, preparing for the disaster du jour.

“What is it?” Jack asked as he jogged down the stairs. It was the first time he’d left the Doctor’s side since he’d placed him carefully on the bed over half a day ago.

Tosh passed him a computer printout. “Temporal disturbance.”

“I think we’ve got company,” Gwen said as she spun her computer monitor toward Jack, showing him the CCTV footage from across town.

“Time to save the world again,” Owen added glibly, tossing his set of car keys in the air and catching them.

“Did somebody mention saving the world?” a cheerful voice asked. Five sets of eyes swung to the staircase where a lanky, smirking alien was wandering towards them.

“Doctor, you’re awake!” Jack exclaimed.

“Well, I’m glad to see your ability to state the obvious is still in tact,” the Doctor replied with a sniff.

“You’re okay?” Jack continued, still unable to process the fact that the Doctor was up, walking, and seemed well enough to insult his intelligence. Things were obviously looking up!

“Well, according to you, I’m an idiot.” The Doctor busied himself reading the data Tosh had collected and then moved to Gwen’s computer screen.

“Wait a minute,” Jack began as he pointed an accusing finger in the Doctor’s direction, “You heard that?”

“I was resting, Jack. I wasn’t dead,” the Doctor stated. “And you like having me around so don’t even lie.” The Doctor winked at Ianto before he started tapping on the keyboard.

“You didn’t think it might be a good idea to let me know you were okay? I thought you were dying!”

“Like I’d give you the satisfaction,” the Doctor returned. Jack growled and resisted the urge to strangle the Time Lord.

“Is he always this polite?” Owen asked, smirking.

Gwen huffed. “I’m sorry to interrupt this lovely reunion, but we’ve got several alien life forms —“

“Hm…” The Doctor’s quiet sound cut Gwen off mid-sentence.

“’Hm’ what?” Jack asked apprehensively as he folded his arms. He knew the Doctor well enough to know when he was plotting something. “’Hm’ what, Doctor?”

The Doctor pressed a more few buttons on the keyboard; the GPS system was tracking something he had obviously discovered and thought was worthy of attention. Jack vowed that one day Torchwood was going to have a security system that even the Doctor couldn’t crack.

“That should do it,” the Doctor confirmed as he pushed back from the computer, stood up, and jogged towards the exit.

“Doctor! What are you doing? Where are you going?” Jack yelled. “Don’t you dare! Are you listening to me? You aren’t listening, are you? You are not saving the world without me!”

“Nearly seventy five, Jack!”

“Doctor, get back here!” he shouted, grabbing several weapons from the table, and motioning for his team to follow. He’d be damned if he was going to be shown up on his home turf.

“Just a day in the life of Torchwood,” Owen sighed as grabbed his medical kit and dashed toward the disaster.

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