In the afternoon they hiked up the mountain behind the beach, and the Doctor insisted that Jack put some kind of protective clothing on. There was no way he would be able to concentrate on his footing through the lush tropical vegetation if he was worried about Jack's sensitive bits being exposed to sharp leaves and poisonous insects. In addition to it being just plain distracting.

He knew it was a bit irrational to worry about it, because Jack healed quickly from any injury, even if he didn't die. But the Doctor was reluctant to take that for granted, to treat Jack as an indestructible toy. Jack sometimes saw himself that way, but it wasn't to be encouraged.

When Jack went off by himself again in the evening, the Doctor didn't say anything about it. He just welcomed him back later with hot tea and a cuddle.

The Doctor's friend, now lover, seemed to feel that he had been given licence to touch the Doctor whenever he wanted. It was admittedly pleasant, but did take some getting used to. He never objected, though, because it was bringing out the more gregarious side of Jack; relaxed and affectionate. It reminded the Doctor of how Jack had been before everything happened, when they were with Rose. It was nice to see again.

It also pleased the Doctor to see Jack sleeping. He knew that Jack didn't need to sleep much anymore, even less than the Doctor did, and that he probably hadn't slept at all during the last year, so the little cat naps he caught the younger man taking at various points throughout the day had to be a good thing.

They spent the night outside on the blanket again, and the Doctor studied Jack’s face as he dozed. All the lines were gone, his face softly relaxed. So different than…

The Doctor studied Jack’s face as he hung in his chains. Even dead, lines of pain distorted his features. He was still, but not at peace.

It had been a fairly standard session as these things went. With the Doctor parked in front of Jack in his wheelchair where he would have a good view, the Master had raped Jack, had his guards beat him with hard wooden batons, and then ordered them to use Jack as a target while they practiced their knife throwing. Throughout it all, Jack had maintained a grim stoicism, broken only by his ongoing critical assessment of the skills demonstrated by each successive attacker.

It went on for quite a while, since the more often Jack died, the harder it seemed to be to kill him. There had been dozens of deep wounds all over Jack’s body by the time one of the men had slipped and sent his blade straight through Jack’s heart, which did still tend to be fatal.

What was unusual was that the Master had then gone off to arrange a suitable punishment for the guard who had cut short his fun, leaving the Doctor there on his own. He didn’t know if it was an oversight or part of some twisted plan. It didn’t really matter, since the Doctor couldn’t do anything about it either way.

He sat and watched Jack. He was getting much better at it, ironically due in large part to the Master’s insistence that he witness the 'Freak’s' torture. At first it had been hard for him to look at Jack. Not only because of the discomfort caused by his condition as a fixed point in time; it was actually difficult to see the unique human. Unless the Doctor concentrated, his eyes would slide away from his former companion to focus on the wall, the ceiling, anything but Jack, almost as though he had a permanent perception filter.

Allowing Jack to suffer alone, however, was more wrong than his distasteful permanence, so the Doctor did concentrate. He trained himself to see Jack, forced his eyes to trace the lines of his body, noticed the nuance of his reactions and catalogued his expressions. It still wasn’t like looking at a regular human, but really, the Doctor had known quite a variety of life forms, and this wasn’t so different.

The Doctor was slightly surprised to find that Jack wasn’t exactly the same as he had been before, when he had last seen the younger man on the Game Station, bravely going off to fight the Daleks. He had filled out more, matured. He was a more substantial man now, and even better looking. One thing that hadn’t changed was that he was still bloody cheeky.

By now the instinctive aversion was completely overcome, and the Doctor could sit and look at Jack for as long as he wanted to, which meant that he was quite the expert on what Jack looked like dead. It was still disturbing, no matter how many times he’d seen it, no matter that he knew it would be reversed. When alive, Jack’s personality filled the whole room with vibrancy. When he was dead, the universe was a poorer place.

The Doctor was horrified by how cavalierly he had treated Jack’s deaths when they were first reunited on Malcassairo. He hoped that it was because of his difficulty really seeing Jack, and not a true indifference to the fate of a sentient being, and a good friend at that. He didn’t feel indifferent now. Even streaked in blood and covered in dirt and bruises, even dead, Jack was beautiful. One good thing that had come of the whole situation was that the Doctor could once again appreciate that.

So he sat his vigil, waiting for Jack to revive. After about twenty minutes the wounds began to disappear and the bruises fade, which was, it had to be said, eerie. The knives that were still embedded in Jack’s body fell to the floor, pushed out as his body healed itself. Jack heaved a breath as he returned to life, gasping and grimacing, then got his feet under himself and stood.

His head bowed, Jack just breathed for a moment, swaying slightly. Some day the Doctor would have to ask him what it felt like to come back to life. It didn’t look pleasant.

When Jack lifted his head his eyes widened at the sight of the Doctor. He looked around quickly, searching for the Master or his goons, clearly surprised to find them alone. “Well, this makes a change,” he said.

The Doctor grabbed the wheels of his chair and used all his strength to move slowly toward Jack.

“Hey, take it easy, Doctor,” Jack protested. “Don’t give yourself a coronary.”

Determined, the Doctor ignored him and kept going. By the time he came to a stop directly in front of Jack he was panting, but pleased with himself. He looked up into those intense blue eyes. After so long silent it was hard to get words out.

"I'm sorry, Captain.”

Jack grinned and shook his head. “None of this is your fault.” He looked around again. “Is he watching? Should we expect him to come in guns blazing to punish us for talking? You shouldn’t take the chance. I understand why you don’t speak. You’re doing great.”

The Doctor frowned and reached down to lock the handbrake on the wheel chair. Then he moved his frail legs to the ground and pushed himself up on the arms, trying to stand. Jack shifted in his chains so that he could lower one arm as far as possible, and the Doctor grabbed hold of it. Jack straightened, pulling the Doctor the rest of the way up. He leaned forward to support himself against Jack’s chest, his cheek resting on Jack’s shoulder. The man was filthy and stank, but the Doctor couldn't have cared less. From there he could whisper into his friend’s ear with less chance of being overheard.

"If I could stop what he’s doing to you," he grated out, "I would.”

“I know,” Jack said softly. “You’d stop what he’s doing to me and to the planet. You will stop him. I believe in you.”

Alarmed, the Doctor raised his head. If Jack knew what the Doctor was preparing the Master would stop at nothing to rip the knowledge out of his head.

Jack leaned toward him and whispered, “I don’t know what your plan is and I don’t need to, but I know you have one. I’ll be ready to help when the time comes. You can count on me.”

The Doctor shook his head. “Escape if you can. Don’t let him hurt you more than necessary.”

The human met and held the Doctor’s eyes. “Don’t do this," he insisted. "Don’t wind yourself up about me. Look, Doctor, was it Nietzsche who said, ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’? Well, at this point I’m pretty damn strong. He has no idea. Don’t waste your energy worrying about me.”

“Jack.”

“I mean it, I can take this. He won’t break me. He’s purposely debilitated you and you have to use your energy wisely, this is too important.”

In the face of that conviction and sincerity the Doctor could do nothing but nod in agreement.

At that point the Master had stormed in, furious. He'd grabbed the Doctor’s shoulder and flung him back into his chair. “You are talking to the Freak! That’s not allowed. Why do you insist on defying me, Doctor?”

“Hey,” Jack interjected jokingly. “It’s my natural magnetism. No one can resist me. Not even you, Saxon.”

The Master grabbed one of the ever-present knives and turned, swinging his arm out so that the point of the blade crunched through the cartilage at the base of Jack’s throat. Grabbing the Doctor’s wheelchair, he pushed him out the door before Jack had finished dying.

The Doctor blinked and refocused on the face in front of him. Jack was awake and was watching him solemnly.

"Where do you go," Jack asked quietly, "when that happens? What do you see?"

His breath caught in his throat. The Doctor hadn't realized that Jack had noticed these spells; had hoped that Jack wouldn't notice, because he didn't exactly want to talk about it.

"Are they blackouts? Flashbacks? Something unique to Time Lord physiology?" Jack's questions were gentle and curious, not judgemental or threatening, which helped.

The Doctor picked the most applicable answer. "Flashbacks."

"From the Valiant, or before?"

"The Valiant."

Jack nodded. "It seems to be happening less often. Is that accurate?"

The Doctor nodded tentatively. "Seems to be."

"Is there anything I can do to help? Is it something we should be concerned about?"

The Doctor shook his head. "No."

Jack waited for him to say more, then, when the Doctor didn't elaborate, said, "Okay," and closed his eyes.

Since Jack was going to let it go, suddenly the Doctor wanted him to understand. "Nothing like this has happened before," he blurted, regaining Jack's attention. "I don't do catharsis. It doesn't work for me." Jack's eyes widened. He probably hadn't realized that the Doctor knew about that. "I usually just move on. Keep moving, that's the key. Don't dwell on it. Push it back until it's no longer important."

"That works for you?" Jack asked incredulously.

"Well enough. 'S just how I am. This time it's different, though." He shook his head with frustration. "It won't stay boxed up like it ought to."

"Why do you think that is?"

"I think," the Doctor took a deep breath, "that it has to do with how I stopped the Master. To connect to the Archangel Network I opened my mind farther than ever before, and then I touched the minds of millions of people as they sent me the energy I needed. It's as though it blew some circuits that still haven't been reset. Feels raw, you know?"

"That makes sense," Jack agreed thoughtfully. "What can we do?"

"Just wait," the Doctor shrugged. "Keep reminding me that it's over. Meditation helps." He added, a bit self-consciously, "Seeing you whole and healthy helps."

Jack moved closer and shifted the Doctor so that their bodies pressed together.

"And feeling me whole and healthy, does that help, too?"

The Doctor realized that it did. Jack's heat and solidity grounded him in the present and made it hard to think about anything else. He settled in closer.

"Yeah, it does."

"Good." Jack wrapped his arms around him.

They were quiet for a long time after that. The Doctor didn't think Jack was sleeping either, but it was comfortable. The stars overhead shifted about ten degrees before Jack spoke again.

"I doubt there's ever going to be a good time to ask this, so I'm just gonna do it." The Doctor tensed, not liking the sound of that. "Did he," Jack hesitated, "did the Master, um, hurt you?"

The Doctor pulled back enough to look at Jack, not sure how to answer that.

Jack went on earnestly, "I know he aged you, and knocked you around, and made you watch him destroy a planet you love, and even turned you into a gnome for a while. That's not what I mean. Did he physically, do things…" he trailed off.

The Doctor thought he understood, and put it bluntly. "Are you asking if he sexually assaulted me?"

"Yes." Jack sounded relieved at not having to spell it out.

It was amazing how Jack had zeroed in on the one area, amongst so many, that the Doctor least wanted to address. The pain in his chest quickly reappeared, and he was tempted to get up and walk away. Very tempted. He had to stop himself doing it.

But it was brave of Jack to bring it up. If the Doctor brushed it aside now, he doubted that Jack would try again, and he deserved an answer. Since they were doing middle-of-the-night confessions, it was as good a time as any to get this conversation over with.

"No, he didn't," he said honestly.

Jack sighed with relief, then rushed on, "I'm glad. I didn't see anything, but I wondered, because of some of your reactions. It's like something's put you off intimate contact. Which would be fine! I just want to know what's going on. I don't want to hurt you unintentionally."

The Doctor explained, "Oh, there was obviously a strong erotic charge between us, no denying that, always has been. But he'd made me old and frail, and if he'd hurt me physically it might have killed me. The Master needed me to be his audience much too badly to risk it. If I'd been young I don't expect he would have held back, but as it was, he took it out on you instead."

This was the part they had never spoken a word about. The Master had committed violent sexual acts against Jack, and had made the Doctor watch. In fact, most of the people aboard the Valiant had watched at some point. It horrified the Doctor, and he had no clue how to talk about it.

He looked away from Jack and said, "What he did to you…" then paused to collect his thoughts before trying again. "You were my proxy. In a way everything he did during that year was for my benefit, but what he wanted to do to me directly, physically, he did to you instead."

"I know," Jack whispered.

"All the time I watched him acting out his sadistic impulses on you, I knew it was my fault. I wanted to stop him, to protect you, but I couldn't do anything."

Jack touched the Doctor's cheek and turned his head so they faced each other again. "You did stop him. You rose up, shining like a warrior angel, and made everything right. You saved everyone, including me."

The Doctor shook his head unhappily. "Too late. Nothing turned back time so that you were spared. Not you nor Martha and her family, nor anyone else on board."

"Nor you," Jack added.

"Nor me," he agreed. "And now I can't forget. When I touch you, I sometimes see… I'm not like him. I don't want to be like him. I don't want to hurt you." There, he'd said it. It was almost a relief, but not quite. The Doctor knew he was making what had happened to Jack be about him, and he felt guilty about it, but it really was an obstacle between them here and now.

Jack sat up and pulled the Doctor to sit facing him. The starlight infused the younger man with a soft glow that almost moved the Doctor to tears. Who looked like an angel now?

"Doctor, you are nothing like him. Nothing at all. I guess I need to explain this. What he did to me didn't matter."

"No," the Doctor protested, shaking his head.

"Hear me out. A lot has happened to me in my life, both before I met you and after. I know the difference when someone wants to hurt me with sex and when they don't. And when someone's using sex as a weapon it doesn't count."

The Doctor was suddenly angry – at everyone who had hurt Jack, and at Jack for not being angrier on his own behalf. "So you can just brush it off that easily?" he asked, his voice hardened.

"No!" Jack insisted in response. "It's never easy, but I have my ways of dealing with it, both at the time and after. And I made a decision. I enjoy life and I love sex. I'm not going to let anyone take that away from me. Certainly not him." The derision in Jack's voice made clear he was talking about the Master.

"I mean that," Jack went on. "I like what we're doing together. I," he paused to swallow. "I love you, and I want to share everything I can with you. I refuse to let him ruin that, and that's my decision. I'm not saying anything specific has to happen between us, but I do hope you get to the point where you don't see him every time you look at me. I want you, Doctor, and you're not like him at all. I wish you could believe that."

The Doctor was slightly stunned. What Jack was saying…made sense. It was admirable, and was a demonstration of just how strong the other man was. The least the Doctor could do was meet him half way.

He leaned forward and kissed Jack lightly on the lips. "I want that too. And I'll get there. Just give me time."

Jack relaxed and rested his forehead against the Doctor's. "Take all the time you need. That's one thing we've got plenty of."

++++++


The days took on a dreamlike quality, filled with swims, walks, hikes, naps, meditation, and lovemaking.

Jack loved what they were becoming together. They could be playful, sometimes competitive, sometimes serious, and sometimes allowing each other time alone. Whatever issues the two of them had had were softening around the edges. Jack understood better, if not perfectly, some of the choices the Doctor had made along the way, and with that understanding came true forgiveness. It was good to release his image of the Doctor as a superior, perfect, god-like being, and accept him as a man. A remarkable, singular man, true, but with imperfections that Jack could totally identify with.

And the inner man that the Doctor was allowing Jack to see for the first time cared for Jack, too, and was capable of showing it. He was accepting that Jack's way of interacting with the universe was different than his own, but not intrinsically inferior. The Doctor was learning to understand and value who Jack was; his strengths as well as his weaknesses. That was something Jack counted as a miracle every single day.

They were living a moment out of time and it wouldn't last, he knew, but Jack would treasure it as long as he could.

+++++++


The Doctor had arranged Jack on his back with his legs spread, while he comfortably sprawled between them. He had one of Jack's testicles in his mouth, gently rolling it with his tongue. The flavours were quite intriguing. On the surface there was a hint of salt and an animal musk that was no doubt a legacy of the human's primate ancestors.

On the scrotum itself those were the primary essences, along with 'Jack's Skin,' a basic undertone that the Doctor had become familiar with very quickly. Within, though, the testis was exuding testosterone, which had a sharp bite to it. It was highly stimulating, and the Doctor knew he could become addicted to it, if he wasn't careful. Especially when he thought about how large a part it played in making Jack who he was. Nice, healthy testosterone production, that.

The scrotum was slightly cooler than the rest of Jack's body, but the Doctor's mouth was still a lower temperature than the sensitive sack was used to. A couple of pesky muscles kept trying to pull the organ back up closer to Jack's body, but a few gentle tugs, teeth scraping for emphasis, brought it back down again for the Doctor's convenience.

Jack was moaning and twitching, but the Doctor already had his hips well restrained so that he could explore without interruption.

Releasing the first testicle from his mouth with a pop, the Doctor moved to the other one. Much the same, though the relative amount of male hormone was slightly lower here. The density of seminiferous tubules appeared to be somewhat greater, however, giving it a slightly larger circumference. The Doctor wasn't sure which one he liked better, and proceeded to thoroughly compare and contrast.

Jack was making some incoherent noises that might have meant he was trying to speak, but the Doctor ignored them as irrelevant.

There was an increasingly noticeable tang of seminal fluid and gametes. The Doctor's senses were so well developed that with some concentration he could have a good go at mapping Jack's DNA, but he decided to leave that for another time.

The smooth skin just behind the scrotum, the perineum, attracted his attention. It was a slightly different texture, with an increasing concentration of essence of Jack, but there was more. The Doctor sensed something inside that drew him closer, like a spark of fire. Perhaps a bit of the Time Vortex that shouldn't be in Jack but was anyway.

The Doctor was intrigued, and probed harder with his tongue to see what more he could detect. There it was again. Hmm, very interesting. He made that noise, "Hmm," and a tremor like an electric shock reverberated through Jack's body. His arms still holding Jack's thighs down, the Doctor slid both his hands under Jack's lower back and released a bit of time energy into his root chakra, to see if that made any difference.

Jack shouted incoherently and the Doctor frowned, because it sounded a bit like pain, but he didn't see anything that could be doing any harm. And the flavour of the burst of time, filtered through Jack and onto his tongue, was so very sweet, like maple syrup laced with sugar cane. It engaged the Doctor's sweet tooth and was completely distracting, and he found himself sucking happily for several minutes.

There was more to explore, though, so he shifted to the base of Jack's penis, and with the flat of his tongue licked up the underside in one motion, tracing the large vein. There, the hot rush of blood was the dominant flavour. Life, nutrients, oxygen, white cells and red cells, various other bits and bobs. All racing frantically round and round; it was quite exhilarating.

He took the glans into his mouth and tested its spongy texture. And oh, there was the urethral opening, just begging to be investigated. Using the tip of his tongue, the Doctor pushed and wiggled as far in as he could. What a wealth of treasure! The gathering fluid was a bit alkaline, rich with amines, and was that fructose? Yes, he determined that it was. A drop or two of nice, thick semen, too, as a special treat.

The Doctor opened his mouth wider and engulfed the entire organ, relaxing his throat and engaging his respiratory bypass system. It was so very hot - swollen and gorged with blood. It twitched as though it were a live creature, and the Doctor amused himself by tickling and teasing it with his tongue.

At this point he had to put more effort into holding Jack's hips down, as the man was beginning to actually writhe under him. He would have to put up with it a bit longer, since the Doctor hadn't quite finished yet.

With the penis entirely inside the Doctor's mouth, his nose brushed pubic hair. A nice, neat little patch. As he noticed the characteristic 51st Century pheromones nestled there, he wondered if body hair design was also a genetically engineered characteristic. Nicely done, in any case.

Those pheromones were indeed a spectacular distillation. They made the Doctor a little light headed. Of course he'd noticed them before; one could hardly help it, the way Jack walked around enveloped in a cloud of them, but this concentration was particularly effective. They made the Doctor…want Jack. Want to devour him, swallow him, have as much of him as he could get.

His throat worked around the tip of the penis that was lodged in it, and then the Doctor got his reward. Accompanied by a great, bloody cry on Jack's part, seminal fluid began to pump out of the tip. The Doctor pulled up enough to make sure that he got a few good pulses directly onto his tongue. The semen was a delightful mix of so many elements, with amino acids, enzymes, proteins, minerals, this and that. All those lovely wiggly little spermatozoa.

He sucked a bit, making sure he didn't miss a drop of it. When the stream finally ceased, the Doctor reluctantly released the organ from his mouth. As he savoured the lingering taste, he looked up at Jack, who had gone completely limp and still. In fact, he appeared to be unconscious. The poor man must be tired, to have dropped off into another nap right in the middle of the day.

The Doctor licked his lips and smirked down at his lover. He had won that round quite thoroughly.

++++++


It was getting closer to the time to leave. They both knew it without discussing it. The items that had been scattered around on the beach had begun to migrate back into the TARDIS; they were taking the last swims, the final walks.

Jack wasn't going to stay with the Doctor, and was dreading telling his lover, so he just kept putting it off. It wasn't that travelling with the Doctor wasn't an exciting and tempting prospect, but it wasn't the right time. So much had happened during the last week, the last year, the last 150 years if it came to it, that Jack's head was practically spinning. He needed to sort himself out and be in top form when he finally joined the Doctor on his journeys.

For a long time he'd thought of the TARDIS as home, one he didn't know if he'd ever see again, but now he had a home of his own, too. All through the year on the Valiant he'd been thinking about it. He'd held onto the image of his team going about their normal lives in order to give himself a focus outside of the ongoing drama.

Their normal lives? Well, there was Gwen with her sometimes-for-brief-periods-something-approaching-normal life. And Tosh's intensity and drive. Owen's sarcastic defence mechanisms and need to be shaken back into himself every once in a while. And of course Ianto's cute… accent. They still needed him and he still needed them. It was something that had to play out.

He was going to miss the Doctor, though, and worry about him. The Time Lord was recovering well, but it might take him a while longer to completely get over the last year. At least he would still have Martha to look after him, which was good.

At last there was nothing left on the beach but their blanket/bed. They would leave in the morning.

Jack sprawled on the blanket enjoying his last chance to feel the air on his naked skin. As of tomorrow it would be back to the many layers of clothing that Cardiff's weather and his lifestyle required. Back to fighting Weevils and trying to repair the damage caused by the rift. Not a bad life, all in all.

When the Doctor joined Jack he was carrying something in his hand. He flopped down on the blanket and solemnly handed the item to Jack. It was a tube of personal lubricant. Boots brand of all things. Surprised, he looked at the Doctor for clarification.

"I'd like to have penetrative intercourse with you," the Doctor said. "It's been quite a long while, but I remember the basics. Not terribly difficult, if memory serves. Whichever way it goes, I'm game. If you want to, that is. Do you want to?"

Jack smiled so broadly that it almost broke his face. He took the Doctor's hand and placed it on his already stiffening member. "What do you think?" This was just what Jack needed to put recent experiences behind him for good.

The Doctor grinned back and closed his hand around Jack's cock. "Good enough. How do you want to do this?"

"I want you to top me," Jack said gravely. "I really want you to. Please."

"All right then." The Doctor took Jack's face in his hands and kissed him deeply.

Jack ended up on his back with the Doctor alternating between kissing him and nibbling on his nipples, bless his oral fixation, while one dexterous hand stretched and lubricated him. Then the Doctor lay down on his back and slicked his own erection with slow, sensual strokes.

Jack couldn’t take his eyes off of the hard cock pointing straight up at the sky. Oh, yes. He wanted that very, very much.

++++++


The Doctor smiled at the younger man's wide-eyed desire. As often as he had complained about Jack's flirtatious sexuality, it was quite heady to be the focus of that burning intensity. So human, so male, more powerful than he knew. The Doctor was pleased to be able to finally welcome it rather than hide from it.

"Come on, then," he said, hearing the crack in his own voice.

"Yes, Doctor." Jack's smile was completely triumphant as he straddled the Doctor, positioned the Doctor's cock, and lowered himself slowly onto it.

The Doctor thought that any gloating on Jack's part was quite justified, because it was exquisite. Not only the tight heat of Jack's body, but the arch of his back, which displayed his muscular chest and abdomen, and more than anything the look on his face.

When he had settled completely, taking in all of the Doctor, Jack laughed breathlessly and smiled down at him. His head fell forward and he steadied himself with his hands on the Doctor’s shoulders. His expression was incredibly soft.

“This is generally about friction and the prostate,” Jack said tenderly, “but with you it’s so much more. You’ve been inside my heart since the day I met you, Doctor. Feeling you inside my body now is…it’s….” He panted a series of quick breaths as emotion played over his face.

Sometimes when the Doctor looked into Jack’s eyes they were deep with the weight of struggle. Now Jack’s eyes were deep with joy. The Doctor had little experience, in all his years, with this sort of openness and generosity. His own race had tended to be more reserved and perfunctory, and didn’t expose themselves to others readily. It wasn’t, the Doctor reflected, one of their better qualities.

It was a little thing, not particularly difficult to achieve, this age-old sacrament of the joining of two bodies. That it could mean so much to Jack was nothing short of beautiful.

The Doctor reached up and cupped his palm around Jack’s jaw. “You’re such a gift to me.” The look they shared communicated volumes that would probably never be spoken.

The Doctor murmured, “Show me how much you like it. Show me your pleasure, Jack.”

The younger man didn't hesitate to comply. He moved over the Doctor, rising and falling, finding the speed and rhythm that would take them both higher. He rolled his head and moaned with every spike of pleasure, holding nothing back.

As his own excitement grew, the Doctor enjoyed watching Jack's pretty cock bob between them. He had also developed a certain fixation on the other man's thighs, and found that they were perfectly positioned to grip and savour the movement of muscle under the skin.

The Doctor took in the scene. His handsome Jack, flushed and sweaty with exertion, framed by a million stars in the night sky. The two of them joined as one. It was a moment of perfect happiness. The Doctor had an excellent memory when he chose to, and would keep this with him for a long time.

Later, as they lay together in sated, drowsy contentment, a different memory came to him unbidden.

Jack was on his knees, bound so securely in chains that he couldn't move. The rope around his neck was twisted with a stick through the end, making it easy for the Master to tighten or loosen it at will. The other Time Lord was bent over the immortal man, snarling into his face.

"You want the Doctor, don't you, Freak? I'm so glad that you do. It's fantastic. Because you'll never have him. He'll never want you. You want to know why? I'll tell you, and no, you don't even have to say please. It's because you're disgusting. You make a Time Lord's skin crawl with your wrongness. You're an abomination; even I think so. Imagine how much more the Doctor hates what you are."

Jack's face was red and he was fighting to breathe past the constriction, but he managed to spit, "Bullshit."

The Master tightened the rope another fraction. "Oh, you think so? Given the choice, the Doctor would always choose me over you. You know it's true. That's because I feel right to him, oh, so very right. We're the same. Our minds can sing and soar together, while you are just a repulsive lump. You're like fingernails on a blackboard to a Time Lord, like the smell of vomit. You can live forever, and he'll never, ever care for you. How does it feel to know that, Freak?"

It was ugly, but it was just a memory. It made the Doctor sad to think of it, but he never lost his awareness of where he was and who he was with. The past was starting to lose its hold over him.

In the present, Jack was lying in the Doctor's arms with his head resting on the Doctor's chest. The Time Lord idly stroked the warmer human skin, feeling gratitude more than anything else. If Jack didn't know that the Master's words were a lie at the time, he hoped that he knew it now.

++++++


Jack wasn't going to stay with him. The Doctor could tell by the way Jack held himself – reluctant to say something the Doctor wasn't going to want to hear.

The TARDIS materialized on the Valiant less than an hour after it had left, and Martha soon joined them. After a round of enthusiastic hugs the Doctor asked brightly, "So! Where to next?" He pretended not to see the uneasy look his companions exchanged.

Jack said, apologetically but firmly, "Cardiff."

The Doctor knew what he meant, had been expecting it, but that was no reason to give in. After the effort he had gone to to open up to Jack, he found it more difficult than he'd imagined to let him go.

"Good idea. The TARDIS does need refuelling, and I could do with a nice plate of chips."

Jack met his eyes directly and didn't waver. "Yeah, you can do that, too."

After a moment the Doctor accepted what he couldn't change. "All right. Cardiff it is, then."

He went to the controls to set the coordinates. He briefly toyed with the idea of going to Cardiff far in the past or the future, since Jack hadn't specified, but forced himself to act like an adult, and input the current time – just a week after the time reset. It was a short jump, but when they arrived Jack wasn't in the control room.

"Where is he?" he asked Martha.

"He went to his room." She gave him a look and then said, "I'll wait outside."

The Doctor found Jack straightening the items on top of the dresser in his room. He was wearing his greatcoat, but there was no duffel bag in evidence.

"Are you going to pack?" he asked quietly.

"No," Jack said and turned to look at him. "I thought I would leave all this here. For next time."

The Doctor tried not to let the relief show on his face, but thought it probably did anyway. Jack walked over to him and pulled him into a warm embrace.

"As far as I'm concerned, Doctor, there'll always be a next time."

The Doctor nodded against his shoulder, and Jack tightened his arms.

"Don't doubt that. Don't doubt me or how I feel about you. That hasn't changed. I just need to get my life back to normal for a while. Captain Jack Harkness, Director of Torchwood Three, is who I want to be right now."

The Doctor nodded again and then pulled away to look at Jack. "All right. I'll come back later then, shall I? Five minutes? Half an hour?" Then he smiled to show that he was joking, mostly.

Jack laughed. "I'll let you know."

"Okay then," the Doctor said with a final squeeze to Jack's shoulder. "Cardiff awaits."

As they walked back through the TARDIS, the Doctor reflected that he actually knew what Jack meant. He felt better after their tropical holiday, and he was anxious to get back to his normal pursuits. Felt a little bit excited about it even. And at least Martha was still with him.

In spite of the Year that Never Was they were still alive, all three of them, so he knew they were strong enough to survive anything.



END

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