Rating: Teen, for some violent imagery
Summary: Sometimes, it all goes horribly wrong. And then there is pain.
Characters: Ninth Doctor, Jack Harkness, Rose Tyler
Warnings: Descriptions of the aftermath of torture
A/N: This is a bidding incentive fic for yamx , who bid on me in the Support Stacie Auction (she also won me, and will be getting a full-length fic). Thanks to 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?"
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 --