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Laddie, Lie Near Me (2/4)
abadplanwellex
Part Two!



After several minutes, the silence was getting was getting to Jackie.

“Right, then, that’s enough brooding,” she said firmly, crossing her arms and tucking her fingers in against her sides to keep them warm.  “You want to tell me why you aren’t going after her?”

The Doctor tucked his own hands into his pockets.  “I don’t think she wants to talk to me,” he said evenly.

Jackie shook her head.  “Doesn’t matter what she wants.  It’s what she needs, and you need, too.”

“I don’t want to force her to do anything.  No matter what the other me said, I don’t want to be her…responsibility.” 

Jackie snorted and muttered under her breath, “Dunno why not; you both need a bloody keeper.”  There was a moment of palpable silence, broken only by the eerie wailing of the wind over the eaves of the lean-to. 

“You know,” said Jackie as she tugged the collar of her coat up, “they don’t make self-help books on how to handle relationships with aliens.”

“Oh, sure they do,” said the Doctor.  He stared out at the fields of beach grass with a tight smile.  “Jump forward a few millennia, and they’re practically flying off the shelves.”

“Doctor,” said Jackie quietly.  She waited until he turned to look at her.  “That girl nearly broke herself to pieces trying to get back to you.”

The silence hung between them again, and he swallowed.  “I didn’t want her to do that,” he said softly.  “I just…I wanted her to be happy.  I still want that.”

“I know.  But still, to pieces.  And it weren’t just the injuries, and yeah,” she said, holding his gaze with her soft, blue eyes, “there were plenty of those.” 

He swallowed again and looked away.   

“But every step of the way, she questioned herself.  ‘Would the Doctor approve of this, would he be mad that I’m not living a ‘fantastic life’, would he say I’m being selfish.’  Tore herself to bits over it.”  Jackie shook her head.  “A whole universe away, you were still her compass, still in every one of her thoughts.  It was only once the stars started going out that she knew what she had to do.  And after that, there was no stopping her.”

“She’s brilliant,” he said hoarsely.  “Rose has always been brilliant.”

“Yes,” she agreed.  “But like I said, no books on what to do when the one man you love is suddenly two people.”

The Doctor ran his hand through his hair.  “It’s all a bit new for me, too, Jackie,” he said impatiently, but Jackie didn’t seem to be paying attention to his discomfort. 

“Pete ‘n me,” she mused in a seeming non sequitur.  She had a faraway look in her eyes.  “The first Pete.  I don’t think we’d have made it.”  She turned her face away, looked out toward the sea.

“No?” the Doctor enquired politely when it was clear that she expected a response.  He thought of messy flats, daft little schemes, and harsh words shouted over a sleeping baby, and he privately agreed with her.

“And I don’t think the Pete from this world ‘n me woulda done any better.”  She sighed.  “I mean, if we’d met in the same way, and all.  It’s funny,” she said, twisting toward him so that just her shoulder rested against the lean-to, “‘Cause he was the one.  Out of all the men, he was the one I loved.  Still do, come to think of it.  My old Pete.”  She smiled softly, the pain of the memory softened by time.  “But it took the loss of him, and the loss of me for him, I s’pose, to show us how to pull all the pieces together.  How to manage the give and take.”

The Doctor looked at her, took in the contented look of a woman fulfilled.  “I’m glad it worked out for you, Jackie,” he said, and he meant that sincerely.  It was his policy to avoid following up on the results of his own meddling, even though that meant things tended to come back around and bite him in the arse.  Still, it was nice, every once and a while, to know that he’d done it right.  “A happily ever-after,” he sighed, tipping his head back and closing his eyes against the grey of the sky.

“No,” she said simply, firmly.  “That’s not what it is at all.  Don’t you ever listen?”  When he blinked in surprise, Jackie just shook her head at him.  “Daft one, you are.  It’s not a fairy tale; that’s not how it works.  It takes effort, every day.  You have to work out how to manage the back and forth, how to be together and separate.”  She poked him in the shoulder.  “How to be different and still equal.”  She prodded him again for emphasis on the last word.  “And what about you, Doctor?  Do you understand that?”

He frowned.  “Is that what you think this is?  Why we brought her back here?  Because she’s not equal?”  He shook his head in contempt of that idea.  “You’re the one who doesn’t understand.  And I thought you of all people would be happy she’s here.”

“I am,” Jackie answered.  “Oh, believe me, I am.  Happy and grateful, both.  But if I’ve learned anything about my daughter, it’s that she has her own mind.  You took her choice away.  Again.”  She tilted her head at him.  “I’d have thought you’d have learned better than that by now.  It sure has never worked before.”

 “She had a choice,” he protested.  “She could have…we didn’t…”

“Maybe,” Jackie allowed, “but it wasn’t very gracefully done.”

“It was painful,” he bit.  “For everyone.”

Jackie just shrugged.  “Life is pain,” she quoted.  “Anyone who says differently is selling something.”

“That so?” he snapped, feeling defensive.  “I thought you finally had it all worked out.  Put all the pieces together.” 

“What I’ve worked out is that anything worth having’s worth earning.”  She gave him a level look.  “My girl has done her best to follow you to the ends of the Earth.  And beyond.  Wouldn’t give up, wouldn’t take no for an answer.  Wouldn’t even listen when you told her a thing was impossible.  No, instead, she shook them all up at Torchwood, rallied the resources, and built that god-awful Dimension Cannon.”  She shuddered just a bit, thinking about it.  “She walked right across the universe to find you.  But Doctor, she’s not an infatuated 19-year-old girl anymore.”

“I don’t know what it is you want me to do,” he said, raking his fingers through his hair in frustration.  “What’s your point?”   

“My point is that, this time?  It’s your turn to chase after her.”

The Doctor stared out at where the road reached the horizon.  “But what if she won’t talk?” he muttered, mostly to himself.

“Well, if she’s being horrid, you tell her to check her clock,” said Jackie.  “Tell her I said so.”

He glanced at her.  “What clock?”

“Never mind that now.  You’ve got somewhere you need to be.”  Jackie leaned over to place a hand on his shoulder.  “Doctor?”  She smiled.  “Run!”




  • 1
Nice to have the Doctor being the one to chase after his companion this time. :D

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