“So,” said Ianto drowsily, sprawled across his bed in the afterglow, “this Doctor of yours, tell me about him?”
Jack chuckled. “Jealous?”
“Not that you’d notice. Should I be?” He sounded amused.
“No, you really shouldn’t. The Doctor is… hard to define. He’s been called a lot of things; the lonely god, the Oncoming Storm, a meddler, a teacher, a prophet, a myth… He shows up somewhere, saves the day then slips away like he was never there; a ghost or a shadow, briefly glimpsed but never forgotten. He doesn’t do goodbyes, never sticks around afterwards, but just by doing what he does, he inspires people to be better than they are.”
“Sounds pretty impressive.”
“He can be. But you know what? For all his knowledge, wisdom, compassion and rage, when it comes right down to it, he’s just a man, not so different from any other. He has the same faults and failings, the same doubts and insecurities, the same fears, hopes and dreams. He’s just lived longer and seen more than other men. His hearts still break when he loses someone who matters to him, and everyone matters to him, so his hearts break a lot. He doesn’t give up though, just moves on to another world, another time, another mission of mercy, trying to make the universe a better place.”
Ianto smiled and traced his fingertips over Jack’s chest, lingering above his heart.
“You could be describing yourself.”
“Hardly. I shouldn’t even exist; I’m a mistake, an aberration. I try to live up to his ideals, but I’m just a poor imitation.”
“Don’t sell yourself short, Jack. You may only have one heart, but you’re every bit the hero you describe. The only difference is that you don’t run away after the battle is over; you stay and help rebuild. By being here, you’re serving as guide and teacher to this world. The time will come when humanity becomes aware that we’re not alone in the universe, and then the earth is going to need all your knowledge and wisdom to make sure we don’t screw up. After all, we can’t always count on your Doctor to show up when he’s needed.”
“That’s quite a burden you’re handing me.” Jack looked at Ianto, completely serious now.
“Yes it is, but you can handle it. Trust me; I’ve seen the future, you won’t be facing it alone.”
Even though he didn’t understand what Ianto meant by that last statement, Jack couldn’t help the little spark of hope that ignited inside him. Maybe his future wouldn’t be as bleak as he’d thought.