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Fic: Internal Injuries

Title: Internal Injuries
Author: Lindenharp
Genres: drama
Rating: Teen, for some violent imagery
Summary: Sometimes, it all goes horribly wrong.  And then there is pain.
Words: 1245
Characters: Ninth Doctor, Jack Harkness, Rose Tyler
Series: Changes!verse
Warnings: Descriptions of the aftermath of torture
A/N:
This is a bidding incentive fic for
[info]yamx , who bid on me in the Support Stacie Auction (she also won me, and will be getting a full-length fic).  Thanks to [info]wendymr  for super-swift beta services AND help with the title.

Jack is screaming.

Even if the Doctor didn't know the identity of the prisoner in the interrogation room, he would recognise the voice.  He even recognises the particular scream.  It's not the shrill keening of a man pushed beyond his ability to stay silent.  He's grateful for that.  Jack's tailored genes and his Time Agency training mean that he can take a lot of pain.  But this isn't a fake scream, either.  Whatever the Xoshian security officer is doing is a lot worse than the kicks and punches that are the standard fare of bad cops.  He can hear that in Jack's voice, too.

The Doctor hates that he knows what Jack sounds like at various levels of pain.  Especially since it's his fault that Jack is in that room.  Maybe not his fault, exactly, but it ought to be the Doctor in there instead.  That was the original plan.  Only logical.  A Time Lord's superior physiology can handle a lot more pain than a human, even one as advanced as Jack.  Except Jack, sounding as cool as if he was plotting a minor navigational correction, had pointed out that the Xoshians were a wee bit paranoid about alien invasions.  "It won't take them long to discover you're not human, Doctor."

So they switched roles: Jack is the offworld weapons smuggler who 'accidentally' got caught by Xoshian Security, and the Doctor is the rescuer waiting for a signal from the rebels.  And here they are: Jack screaming in pain while the Doctor listens and waits and curses silently.  Rose is distracting the corridor guards, but he's sure she can hear Jack.  The whole security complex can probably hear Jack.

The screaming stops, and Jack begins to babble.  "Please, I'll tell you what you want to know.  I'll give you the coordinates--"

Clever lad.  Despite the ache in his chest, the Doctor has to smile.  Jack doesn't know the coordinates of the rebel HQ.  An' he wouldn't tell them if he did know.  This is a ploy to get himself some breathing space.  He had to wait 'til it would be believable.  They wouldn't've swallowed it if he pretended to break too soon.

For once, the plan comes together the way it's supposed to.  The guards follow Rose away from their stations, and soon find themselves locked in a utility closet.  The rebel guerrillas trigger minor explosions all over the citadel that bring security forces running, including Jack's interrogator.  As soon as he's out of sight, the Doctor rushes into the room.

He comes to an abrupt halt.  Jack is secured to a high-backed chair that faces away from the door, so the first thing the Doctor sees is the interrogator's desk.  Scattered across the surface of the desk are items that make his hearts skip a couple of beats.  Xoshia is a technologically advanced world.  The standard interrogation tool is a neural prod.  Hurts like hell, but it won't do much damage.  There's a neural prod on the desk, surrounded by a dozen other tools for inflicting pain: primitive, cruel, and very effective.

He runs past the desk and around the restraint chair.  Jack is strapped into it, naked.  The Doctor stares, horrified.  The tale of Jack's ordeal can be clearly read on the bruises, weals, cuts, and burns marking his flesh.  The young man is slumped in the chair, but he's conscious.  One blue eye -- the other is swollen shut -- fixes on him.  "I'm ready to check out of this joint, Doc," he mumbles.  "Think I won't be tipping the chambermaid.  Service here is terrible."  Jack coughs, and a trickle of blood drips from the corner of his mouth.

Okay.  For Jack's sake he can keep up the facade.  As his hands unbuckle one strap after another, the Doctor forces a grin.  "They catch you tryin' to nick the towels, Jack?"

"Nah.  Pillows."

A loud intake of breath is his first clue that Rose has entered the room.  She rushes to the Doctor's side.  "Oh my God!  Jack!"  The Doctor braces himself to deal with hysterics.  Rose's face is very pale, and it's a good job that she wears waterproof mascara, but she merely asks in in a subdued voice, "He's gonna be okay, yeah?"

The Doctor nods.  "Nothing that the TARDIS medbay can't patch up."

"Right.  I'll find some clothes for him."  And she's gone.

The Doctor releases the last of Jack's bindings.  He uses the scanner in his sonic to confirm what his eyes have been telling him: ugly as they are, Jack's injuries are all superficial.  There's no internal damage.

Rose returns with a yellowish-brown boiler-suit taken from a maintenance staff locker, a first-aid kit, and a can of energy drink.  The Doctor digs an analgesic spray out of the kit and applies it generously to the worst wounds before helping Jack to get dressed.

They stagger back to the TARDIS, Jack supported on either side by his partners.  Once inside the medbay, the Doctor cuts away the boiler-suit.  It's served its purpose.  Jack mutters something that might be a protest.

"Hush," Rose tells him softly.  "'S not your colour, anyway."

"Yeah.  My best colour is... naked," Jack says.  He glances down the length of his body.  "Well, usually," he jokes feebly.

The Doctor wields the dermal regenerator with more precision than is actually necessary.  The extra concentration helps keep his anger under control.

Rose hovers beside him, leaving just enough room so she doesn't jog his elbow.  She starts to reach for Jack's hand.  The Doctor shakes his head.  Rose frowns, then notices the swelling of the broken fingers.    Her own hand drops to her side.  She bites her lower lip.

When the Doctor finishes mending the fractures, lacerations, and contusions on Jack's right hand, he nods at Rose.  She touches Jack as carefully as if he's a newborn baby made of spun crystal.

He smiles at her -- crookedly, because the painkillers are starting to take hold.  "Sorry.  Didn't mean to scare you."

"Just don't you dare do it again," she scolds.

"You listen to her, Captain.  No more of this," the Doctor adds, trying to sound stern.  "Got better things to do with my evenings."

Jack starts to nod, then thinks better of the idea.  "I promise," he mumbles.

"We're gonna hold you to that," Rose says.  There's no reply.  Jack is asleep.

The Doctor finishes tending the lesser wounds.  Some will have to be left alone to heal naturally.  The human body can only handle a certain amount of artificially stimulated healing.  Gesturing for Rose to step back, he flips a couple of switches.  Two broad wings rise up on either side of the exam bed where Jack is sleeping.  "Have a lie down, yeah?"

"I won't disturb him?" Rose asks hesitantly.  "Won't hurt him?"

"Nah.  The worst is taken care of.  He'll be all the better for having you nearby."

With this assurance, Rose hops up onto the bed and stretches out beside Jack.  She drapes one arm over him.

The Doctor positions himself on the other side.  The truth is, Jack is so far under from the pain-killers, he won't know his partners are there until he wakes -- and that will be many hours from now.  That's not the point.  It isn't meant to comfort him.

Maybe Jack is the only one of them with bruises on his body, but he's not the only one who suffered through torture today.

-- THE END --

Comments

( 26 comments — Leave a comment )
honorh
Mar. 30th, 2010 03:17 am (UTC)
Man, both the Doctor and Rose. I have a feeling she'll choose a quiet moment in her room to have her breakdown. It's good she wasn't there to hear the screaming. Jack will need lots of TLC, and they'll need to give it before they're all recovered from this.
lindenharp
Mar. 30th, 2010 03:52 pm (UTC)
The Doctor will be keeping an eye on Rose. If he decides she shouldn't have that breakdown alone, he'll be there.

Jack may get more TLC than he wants, but he'll put up with it, for his partners' sakes.

Thanks for commenting!
yamx
Mar. 30th, 2010 03:21 am (UTC)
*sobs* This is heartbreaking. I'm actually not sure whom I pity more. I almost thing the Doctor hurts more...

Thank you very much. It's great. :)
lindenharp
Mar. 30th, 2010 03:59 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad you like it. Yes, I think the Doctor hurts more, since he feels responsible. (Then again, he always feels responsible.)
yamx
Mar. 30th, 2010 09:33 pm (UTC)
Well, yes, and he always takes it to heart, too...

I forgot to mention that I love Jack in this. So brave, knowing exactly what he's getting into and being so cool and calculated about it. And afterwards, making jokes to help them all cope.

I hope he wakes up soon so he can give the Doctor a talking-to about feeling guilty hen one shouldn't. *g*
wiggiemomsi
Mar. 30th, 2010 03:30 am (UTC)
Wow, powerful imagery! Torture is a nasty business, ESPECIALLY when it's done to characters you love.

*Hugs*
lindenharp
Mar. 30th, 2010 04:07 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I tried to make it ugly -- as it ought to be.
garpu
Mar. 30th, 2010 03:46 am (UTC)
Aww...

I like how you've made it affect not just Jack but the rest. (Something I think a lot of people who write torture tend to forget. Or I've read way too much about it from a social justice perspective.)
lindenharp
Mar. 30th, 2010 04:31 pm (UTC)
If you love someone, their pain hurts you, too. There's going to be feelings of anger, fear, helplessness, frustration, and guilt. Rose is going to have nightmares, and the Doctor... is going to insist that Time Lords have better control of their unconscious minds.
garpu
Mar. 30th, 2010 04:39 pm (UTC)
...which means he's going to be hurting the worst. I'm sure it doesn't help that they can read thoughts.
kaffyr
Mar. 30th, 2010 03:56 am (UTC)
Damn good stuff. You made it clear that the danger wasn't mortal, and made it equally clear that it was horrible. It's hard to write that sort of balance, but you did it.
lindenharp
Mar. 30th, 2010 07:10 pm (UTC)
Thanks. The prompt was for "torture", so that's what I wanted to focus on.
hazelwho
Mar. 30th, 2010 04:10 am (UTC)
Oh, this was heartbreaking and wonderful. *hugs them all*
I especially love your Rose here, being so strong when they needed her to be. I think honorh is probably right - she'll break down when he's better and she's alone.
lindenharp
Mar. 30th, 2010 07:16 pm (UTC)
Just between you and me, one reason that Rose scurried off to get clothes and stuff was to give herself a chance to calm down. A little.

Thanks for the comments!
taffimai
Mar. 30th, 2010 04:36 am (UTC)
This is lovely. Perfect little h/c story.
lindenharp
Mar. 30th, 2010 07:17 pm (UTC)
Thank you. There really isn't much "comfort" in it, but I hope you can tell that there will be a lot of it -- for all three of them.
navaan
Mar. 30th, 2010 01:15 pm (UTC)
Very touching. I love how they try to get over it by staying close to each other.
lindenharp
Mar. 30th, 2010 07:51 pm (UTC)
Jack needs to know that he's safe -- and his partners need to know that he's safe. Closeness will help heal all three of them.
knm1234
Mar. 30th, 2010 02:25 pm (UTC)
Oh, they're so good together, all trying to protect the others' feelings while they're falling apart inside. And Jack's little hotel joke... *sniffle*
A holiday is in order for our heroes, I think.
Beautifully done x
lindenharp
Mar. 30th, 2010 07:55 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much! Humor is one of Jack's primary defenses. In "The Doctor Dances", Jack was cracking jokes when his ship was about to explode, even though there was no one to hear him except the ship's computer. It's a deeply rooted part of his personality.

And yes, a holiday would be a good thing. Perhaps I'll write that one day.
hab318princess
Mar. 30th, 2010 06:38 pm (UTC)
the last line is so wise... Jack may have suffered physically but The Doctor and Rose have too (on the inside)
lindenharp
Mar. 31st, 2010 03:55 am (UTC)
Thank you. That last line was planned from the very beginning, when this was going to be a drabble. Then Yamx took the option of combining her six bidding incentive drabbles into a longer ficlet. I was able to add more details, but the finishing line remained the same.

I'm glad it works for you.
kholly
Mar. 30th, 2010 08:23 pm (UTC)
Wow, you really didn't flinch away from the prompt and what it really means. In their relationship they're all going to be hurt from an experience like that. Even though we don't observe the comfort it's so obviously there.
lindenharp
Mar. 30th, 2010 10:44 pm (UTC)
The comfort will be there. Actually, it already is. One of the things that made Jack willing to walk into a trap was knowing beyond all doubt that Rose and the Doctor would be there to get him out.

Edited at 2010-03-31 04:43 pm (UTC)
kate_swynford
Mar. 24th, 2011 12:22 pm (UTC)
Great story, I especially liked the last two paragraphs.
lindenharp
Mar. 25th, 2011 05:25 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much!
( 26 comments — Leave a comment )

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