Title: Second Best
Pairing: Tenth Doctor/Jethro Cane
Fandom: Doctor Who
Prompt: 26, Jealous
Disclaimer: This is entirely a product of my own imagination, and I make no profit from it. I do not own the Tenth Doctor or Jethro Cane. Please do not sue.
***Jethro frowned as he made his way into the main room of the Tardis; he hadn't particularly wanted to go to 20th-century Earth. Especially not to see someone who the Doctor seemed to be far too enthusiastic about reuniting with. Just who was this Jack Harkness, anyway? Jethro didn't know him, but he wasn't prepared to be generous with his friendship.
All he knew about Jack was that he'd been one of the Doctor's companions at some point -- and from some of the more oblique references that the Doctor had made, Jethro could only come to the conclusion that the two of them had been lovers. One more reason for him not to like Jack; he was already on Jethro's bad side.
Maybe he shouldn't feel like that, he told himself, taking a deep breath before he entered the large room at the center of the ship. After all, the Doctor wasn't with Jack now. He'd chosen Jethro, and the young man felt secure in their relationship.
Well, as sure as he could feel when he'd more or less had to convince the Doctor to take him along when he'd left Midnight ....
Jethro could feel his throat closing, his muscles tightening, feel the familiar dread start to creep over him. What reason did the Doctor have for going to this time, this particular place, to see someone from his past? Was he trying to show Jethro that he could never measure up to what the Doctor had in his past?
Or was he just being paranoid? One thing that he could say for sure about the enigmatic man he'd fallen in love with -- the Doctor wasn't the type of man to push Jethro out of his life in a roundabout way. If the Time Lord wanted him gone, then he would say so -- he would simply take Jethro back to his own time, wish him well, and be on his way.
No, the Doctor wasn't sneaky. He wasn't going to just abandon Jethro, either. So why did he feel so fearful and paranoid that this would be the last trip he'd make with the Doctor, and that it was somehow the beginning of the end for them?
He shouldn't feel that way, Jethro told himself, forcing himself to step from the hallway into the control room. The Doctor would probably have told him point-blank if he had some ulterior motive in bringing them here. Wouldn't he? Jethro couldn't shake the uncomfortable feeling that there was some reason for them being here that he didn't know about.
The Doctor was already there, leaning over the console and pressing a button here and there. He looked up when he saw Jethro, smiling and holding out his arms to his young lover. Jethro couldn't keep back a smile of his own as he crossed the room; there was something about the Doctor's smile that was infectious.
The Time Lord's arms slid around his waist, that slender body pressing against his own as Jethro took the Doctor into his arms. "I wondered if you were going to stay in the bedroom all day," the Gallifreyan murmured, nuzzling his cheek against Jethro's. "I was nearly ready to come and get you, but here you are."
"If you'd done that, then I would have tried my best to convince you to come back to bed," Jethro laughed, pulling the Doctor against him and pressing a kiss to the Time Lord's lips. "I doubt that would have been the best thing to do, but I'd have tried."
"I don't think Jack would have had too much of a problem with that," the Doctor laughed, his eyes sparkling with amusement. "But he would have wanted to watch, and I don't fancy the thought of being some sort of performing monkey for him. My sex life isn't anyone's business but my own, though he would protest that statement."
"You'd be right about that," Jethro muttered, pulling away from the Doctor. He shoved his hands into his pockets, avoiding any direct eye contact with the Time Lord and moving to the other side of the console. The Doctor looked surprised, but didn't comment; Jethro supposed that it was because he was so enthused about seeing his former lover.
The Time Lord didn't speak for several long moments; Jethro didn't look over at him, staying stubbornly silent. Finally, the Doctor sighed, leaning on the Tardis' console and crossing his arms over his chest. Jethro could almost feel him searching for words.
"Jethro, what's wrong? It isn't like you to act this way, you know."
The Doctor's words weren't accusatory in any way; his voice was soft, even a little curious. But at this point, Jethro was so angry that he chose to interpret the question in a way that it more than likely hadn't been meant. He whirled around to face the Doctor, clenching his fists at his sides.
"What's wrong? You want to know what's wrong?" His voice was rising as he continued to speak, letting his anger get the better of him. "You've been so excited about seeing this so-called perfect person who used to fuck you that you can't be arsed to give a damn about the one who's actually here and didn't walk out on you."
He had the satisfaction of knowing that his shot had struck home; the Doctor's dark eyes widened, his mouth dropping open. Jethro could see his hands shaking before he, too, shoved them into his pockets and looked down at the floor, his voice sounding shaky when he spoke. "You know that isn't true."
"Yes it is!" Jethro shot back, nearly spitting the words out. "All I've heard about for the past few days is Jack Harkness, how fantastic he is, all the good times you had with him. Go the hell back to him and let him use you and walk out on you again, but don't come running back to me when he does!"
The Doctor's head snapped back as though he'd been slapped; Jethro could almost feel the impact of his words hitting the Time Lord. He almost wanted to reach out to the Doctor through his empathic abilities, but at the moment, he was too angry to even try. He turned away again, refusing to look at the Doctor or speak to him again.
What had happened to them in the past few days? he wondered, his hands clenching in his pockets. When had everything become all about Jack Harkness and not about the two of them? It was fairly obvious to him that the Doctor wanted to be with Jack again; the fact that he'd been talking about Jack nearly non-stop (or so it seemed to Jethro) was proof of that.
"I don't talk about him all the time." The Doctor's words were barely a mumble, but they were loud enough for Jethro to hear them. And for them to make him even more ragingly angry at the Time Lord.
"Yes you bloody well do!" He almost screamed the words at the Doctor; the Time Lord took a step backward, nearly cringing away from him. "I'm fucking sick of hearing about Jack fucking Harkness! I'm bloody sick of your obsession and I'm sick of being second best! I'm sick of being in his bloody shadow! Go the hell back to him and get out of my life!"
This time, the Doctor did recoil from him, the color draining from his face. He took a few steps back from Jethro, then turned and left the room without saying another word, leaving the young man to slide down the wall and bury his face in his hands.
It was over, that was obvious. The Doctor would always want Harkness more than anyone else, Jethro thought bitterly. He'd never seen the immortal, never met him, but he hated Jack Harkness more than he'd ever hated anyone in his life. Hated him for having what he could never have, no matter how hard he tried to win it.
The Doctor's love. His heart.
Well .... hearts, he corrected himself. Having to hear about Jack constantly for the past days had only proved to Jethro that he would always be second best, that he'd never be able to compete with Jack. The Doctor would always belong to someone else.
The thought cut into him like a knife; he wanted to scream, cry, pound the walls of the Tardis until his fists were bloody. But that wouldn't do a damn bit of good, he told himself. It would only add physical pain to the emotional pain he already felt. And it would only make his parting with the Doctor that much harder to deal with.
No, it would be best if he simply told the Doctor to take him back to his own time before he went to meet Harkness. Then the Doctor could go to his former lover with a clear conscience, and no one to hold him back from what he really wanted. He'd be free -- which was what he and Harkness probably both wanted.
Jethro struggled to his feet, taking a deep breath before heading out of the control room and back to the bedroom he'd shared with the Doctor. He'd get the few things he'd left there, tell the Doctor to take him back to where he belonged, and begin the long process of trying to get over the man who'd captured his heart and soul.
This wasn't how he'd wanted it to end. He'd actually fooled himself into thinking that it wouldn't end, that he'd be with the Doctor forever -- or as long as forever could be, considering that he was human. But at least he'd be able to spend as much time as possible with the Doctor before they were inevitably parted.
He would have spent his life with the Time Lord, every second of it, with no regrets. But now he wouldn't have the chance to. Just one more thing that Jack Harkness would have taken away from him.
Jethro stepped into the bedroom, then stopped in his tracks. He hadn't expected the Doctor to be there, laying facedown on the bed, his slender body shaking. Was he .... crying? The young man's brow creased in a frown; he'd thought that the Doctor would be elsewhere in the Tardis, trying to make contact with the man he wanted.
But no, he was here, apparently sobbing into a pillow. Jethro ached to sit down on the bed and take the Time Lord in his arms, kiss away his tears, soothe him and take back the angry words he'd spoken that had more than likely caused this apparent breakdown.
Before he could take more than a step forward, he was hit by a feeling so strong that it almost made him gasp. He'd had strong emotions attach themselves to his consciousness before; it was one of the problems of being an empath, not being able to keep those feelings out at times. But he thought he had more or less learned how to handle it, to keep himself protected.
Not this time, apparently. He was hit by a wave of despair so overwhelming that it froze the breath in his throat; Jethro had to struggle to gulp in air and not to fall to his knees. That despair was coming from the Doctor, seemingly wrapping itself around the Time Lord so densely that he couldn't feel anything else.
A shock ran through Jethro, his eyes widening at the realization that this was the Doctor's reaction to the cruel, dismissive words he'd spoken. How could the Time Lord even breathe under such a crushing weight? He had to get to the Doctor, had to shake him out of this -- as his last gift to the man he loved.
It seemed to take him forever to reach the bed, to sink down beside the Doctor and reach for the Time Lord. At first, the other man resisted, but after a few moments, he seemed to give in and turned towards Jethro, letting the young man wrap strong arms around him, sobbing against Jethro's chest and clutching him as though he would never let go.
"Don't leave me," the Time Lord whispered, the words choked, barely audible. "I'm sorry I've made you feel this way. I won't do it again. Just don't leave. Please."
"Shhhh, it's all right," Jethro murmured, brushing the Doctor's damp hair back from his face and pressing gentle kisses over his face, tasting the salty tears on his skin. "You don't need me, Doctor. You're going to the person you love. It's better if I leave now, so I don't have to see that. I can't handle seeing you with him, don't you understand that?"
"But I'm not going to him!" the Doctor wailed, struggling to sit up. "I don't want him in that way, Jethro. What was between the two of us ended a long time ago. I don't even think of Jack in that way now -- I couldn't. How could I, when I'm in love with you? How could you even begin to think I still wanted him?"
Jethro blinked, staring at the Doctor as though seeing him for the first time since he'd come into the room. "You're not ....?" His voice was incredulous, disbelieving; this certainly wasn't what he'd expected to hear. When the Doctor's words hit him, his eyes widened and his hands tightened on the Time Lord's slender shoulders. "You're .... in love with me?"
The Doctor looked blank, then shocked. "Of course I am. Don't tell me you didn't know. Not after all that we've already been through together. I should have thought my feelings for you were quite obvious."
Jethro thought back over the time he'd spent with the Doctor; the intimacy they'd shared, the words that had been spoken, as well as the unspoken words that had been conveyed to each other in smiles and glances. He'd let his jealousy blind him to those little proofs of the Doctor's affection, and he couldn't help feeling ashamed of doing so.
"It was," he mumbled, his gaze not meeting the Time Lord's. "I-I suppose I just didn't want to admit that. It was easier to be angry about something I felt that I couldn't control. And I --" He hesitated, not sure how to put his feelings into words.
"Tell me," the Doctor whispered, sniffling a little. "I want to know what I did to make you so angry, Jethro. I want to be sure that I don't do it again."
"I know that I'll always be second best to him," Jethro burst out, hating how petulant he sounded but unable to keep the hurt note out of his voice. "I know he'll always be hovering in the background. But knowing that doesn't make it any easier to accept. I want to be first in your life, in your heart. I don't want to feel that he'll always be there between us."
"Jethro." The Doctor's voice was quiet, gentle; he took Jethro's face between his hands, gazing into his young lover's eyes as he spoke. "You have never been second best. You never will be. From the moment we reconnected, you've been the most important person in my life. That isn't going to change."
"How do you know that?" Jethro whispered, hating how his voice sounded shaky, fearful. "How do you know that something won't be rekindled between the two of you, that you'll want him again? I can't compare to him. I'm not a hero, I'm not an immortal. I can't give you what he can. I wouldn't even know where to start."
"It won't." The Doctor's voice had gained strength, his words firm and decisive. "And you don't have to be like Jack. I don't want you to be anyone but the person you are, Jethro. I fell in love with you just as you are, and I wouldn't change a thing. In fact, that's what I wanted Jack to see -- that I'm happy and that I'm with someone I love."
Jethro nodded, biting his lip. He knew that he should apologize to the Doctor for his actions, for the words that he knew had cut the Time Lord to the quick. But he couldn't make those words come, couldn't make himself say that he was sorry -- even though he was.
"You don't have to apologise," the Doctor whispered, placing his fingertips on Jethro's lips. "I understand why you felt jealous, Jethro. I do. But there's no reason for you to feel that way. You're more to me than Jack ever was, even though I do still care for him as a friend. He was a fleeting moment -- you're the rest of my life."
"Do we have to see him right away?" Jethro murmured, rolling over and pulling the Doctor down beside him. His hands moved over the Time Lord's body, cupping the Doctor's ass and pulling the Gallifreyan close to him. "I can think of a few ways to apologise to you -- but they all involve us being here for a while."
"Oh, I don't think that will be a problem," the Doctor said, sighing softly as Jethro turned him onto his back and began to work his hands under the Time Lord's shirt. "In fact, I think the visit could be postponed indefinitely. We seem to have much more important matters at hand that need to be taken care of first."
"We definitely do," Jethro agreed, leaning down to capture the Doctor's mouth with his own. Within a few moments, they were lost in each other, their mutual need pushing all thoughts of anything else aside.
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