Title: By My Side
Pairing: Tenth Doctor/Jethro Cane
Fandom: Doctor Who
Prompt: 46, Helpless
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.
***"I can never stop worrying about you when you leave the Tardis in a strange place and you don't take me with you," Jethro began, a frown furrowing his brow as he looked over at the Doctor. "I don't want you to do that any more than you have to."
"Jethro ...." The Doctor shook his head, his frown mirroring his young lover's. "You know that I've been exploring planets I've never been on before -- and in different times -- for centuries longer than you've been alive. You worry about me too much. I'll be fine."
"But you aren't always fine, are you?" Jethro sighed, looking down at his hands and regretting the words as soon as they were out of his mouth. He didn't like referring to the times that the Doctor had gotten himself into trouble.
That usually sparked an argument between them; he'd learned that rather quickly. And the last thing he wanted to do was to disagree with the Time Lord at the moment.
There was never a good time to have an argument with his lover; that was another thing that Jethro had learned very soon after he'd become involved with the Doctor. The Time Lord could always manage to override his objections to anything, no matter what he said.
Though this time, he was determined to make his objections known. He didn't want the Doctor to go off alone and leave him in the safety of the Tardis; he should be out there with the man he loved, putting his life on the line as much as the Doctor might be.
Of course, the other man wouldn't see it that way. Jethro sighed, looking down at his hands. He'd clasped them together to keep from fidgeting, and it was almost making him uncomfortable not to be gesturing as he usually did when he spoke.
"I just .... I couldn't bear it if anything happened to you," he said in a low voice, hating himself for the way his tone sounded weak and almost trembly. "I wouldn't have anywhere else to go .... and I don't want to live the rest of my life without you."
"Jethro." The Doctor's voice was soft, almost like a caress. He looked up to see those dark eyes fixed on his face, their expression soft and loving.
"Sweetheart, you know that if I have to leave you behind in the Tardis, I'm going to try my best to be careful and watch my back. I want to be sure that I come back to you," the Doctor told him, reaching out to take his hand and twine their fingers together.
He had to admit that what the Doctor had just said was true. The Time Lord wouldn't put himself into the path of danger if he could help it; he'd want to come back to him, to the Tardis, to the life that they'd made with each other.
All right, so maybe it was a little childish for him to be so afraid of being away from the Doctor. But Jethro couldn't keep back that nagging feeling that he should be with his lover wherever he went, protecting him to the best of his ability, looking out for them both.
Aloud, he only said, "I know it sounds a bit selfish -- like I only want you to be safe because I'm lost without you -- but it's not like that, Doctor. I want you to be safe because I want to have a life with you. Because I love you, and I don't want to lose you."
"I know that, Jethro," the Doctor told him, squeezing his hand gently. "I've never doubted that, not from the moment we met again on Midnight."
"I just ...." Jethro's voice trailed off; he wasn't entirely sure how to put what he felt into words. The feelings were there, and he understood them -- but articulating them to someone else, even the Doctor, was much harder for him to do.
"It's not just because you're afraid for our future, is it?" the Doctor said softly, tilting his head to one side and studying Jethro intently. "What you're feeling isn't selfish, love. It's perfectly normal to fear for the safety of someone you care about when they're going into an unknown situation."
Jethro shook his head, tryng to force back the lump that was trying to lodge in his throat. No, it wasn't merely that he was afraid for what he'd feel if the Doctor didn't come back, or that he was afraid for his love. There was more to it than that.
"What is it?" the Doctor asked, leaning closer to Jethro and taking the young man's other hand in his own. "Whatever the problem is, you can tell me, Jethro. I'm not going to laugh at you, and I promise that I won't get angry."
"It's ...." Jethro swallowed hard, forcing himself to look the Time Lord in the eye. "It's that I feel so helpless when you're gone and I'm not with you. I feel that I should be by your side, helping you in any way I can, instead of being useless to you."
The Doctor frowned a bit, opening his mouth as though to say something and then thinking better of it. Silence surrounded the two of them for several long moments.
When the Time Lord finally spoke again, his voice was just as soft and gentle was before, with only a hint of worry in it. "Jethro, I don't look at it in that way at all. Of course you're of use to me. Your empathy has helped me in more situations than I can count."
"But not when I'm not out there with you," Jethro pointed out, sighing and looking down again. "I wish you didn't feel that you had to leave me behind sometimes to keep me safe. I'm in this with you, Doctor. I should be out there with you all the time."
The Doctor sighed, looking down at their clasped hands for what seemed like a long time before his gaze moved up to fix on Jethro's face again. After another few moments, he nodded, letting out another sigh and speaking hesitantly.
"I suppose you're right -- I know that it must be frustrating to feel that you're left behind. But .... I feel much the same way you do, Jethro. I feel helpless sometimes -- as though I can't watch over you and protect you in the way that I should."
Jethro had to swallow hard again as the Doctor's voice trailed off; he hadn't realized that the Time Lord felt this way. It had never occurred to him.
Maybe he should have realized that, he told himself, feeling guilty that he hadn't tried to see things from the other man's perspective. Of course the Doctor would want to protect him. He was, after all, human -- and therefore, more vulnerable than the Time Lord in many ways.
"I can understand why you might have felt that you had to leave me behind," he said, not wanting the Doctor to feel guilty about the decisions he'd made. "But .... I want to be out there with you, Doctor. I want to be alongside you, helping you."
"I can't blame you for that," the Time Lord said, the words coming out on another little sigh. "And I know what it's like to feel that helpless. So .... I won't leave you behind again, Jethro. From now on, you'll be with me. I might be a bit uneasy about it, but you belong by my side."
"Do you mean that?" Jethro couldn't keep a smile from spreading across his face; he hadn't expected this at all.
"Of course I do." The Doctor squeezed his hand again, smiling a little ruefully. "I should have realised before now how you felt, Jethro. But there are times when I'm not the most observant of people. I hope you can forgive me for that."
"I can forgive you for anything," Jethro told the Time Lord, squeezing his hand in return and laughing out loud. "Now, what do you say we go out there and see just what's in store for us -- together, as a team?"
The Doctor nodded, leading the way to the door of the Tardis. Jethro could feel his heart leap with anticipation of whatever was to come, his senses alert and ready for anything. It was good to be able to put that helpless feeling in the past, to feel needed.
After all, his abilities could help the Doctor. And there were times when he thought that the Time Lord could use all the help he could get, whether he would admit it or not.
He followed the Doctor out of the Tardis, still unable to keep back the smile and the feeling of excitement that coursed through him. Whatever they were headed for, he would be by the side of the man he loved.
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