Title: The Next Time Around
By: angstytimelord
Pairing: Tenth Doctor/Jethro Cane
Fandom: Doctor Who
Rating: PG-13
Table: 50ficlets
Prompt: 4, Frozen
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 followed the Doctor into the Tardis, closing the door firmly behind him. He didn't turn around to face the Time Lord and follow him up the few steps for a few moments, not wanting to look at the other man, feeling ashamed to look him in the eye.

How could he have let the Doctor down so badly? His lover depended on him; he wasn't just the Doctor's boyfriend, but his companion as well. He was there to watch the Doctor's back, to defend him, to try his best to keep the other man safe.

And he'd failed in that duty. He hadn't been able to protect his lover; the Doctor had been forced to rely on his own ingenuity to do that while Jethro had stood by helplessly.

He didn't deserve to be with this man. He didn't deserve to have the Doctor's love; he should just go back to his parents, hide himself away, pretend that he didn't have empathic abilities. He obviously didn't know how to do any good with the gifts he'd been given.

All he'd managed to do while the Doctor was being surrounded on all sides was stand there and watch as their enemies closed in, rooted to the spot, frozen with fear. The first real test that he'd been put to since he'd been with the Time Lord, and he'd failed it miserably.

He couldn't stand here by the door any longer; it was obvious that the Tardis was firmly shut to any outside interference. The Doctor was probably watching him, waiting for him to move up those few steps and confront him with anger and disappointment.

Jethro sighed softly, closing his eyes. The Doctor had every right to angry with him. He just didn't want to face the scorn that he was sure would be written on his lover's face.

He'd probably have to stop thinking of the Doctor as his lover after this, he thought with an inward sob. The sound almost became a reality, threatening to force its way out of his throat, out into the air where it would be heard by the man he most needed to keep it from.

What good would crying do? He wasn't going to beg the Doctor to give him another chance; the Time Lord deserved better than that. He deserved someone who was going to be there for him when they were needed, not someone who would let him down.

He pushed back the tears that were dangerously near to the surface, threatening to spill over. They wouldn't do any good; it was time for him to be strong and resolute, not to break down and show any kind of weakness. The Doctor would only despise him more for compounding the mistake he'd already made; he didn't want to compromise his dignity at this point.

One foot in front of the other; up the three steps, then over to the console where the Doctor was standing. He didn't want to raise his eyes to meet the Time Lord's gaze; he was already too sure of what he would see there.

"Jethro. What's the matter?" The Doctor's voice was soft, worried. He sounded as though there was nothing wrong, as though he was the one who should be comforting Jethro, rather than castigating him for failing to do what he was here for.

He was so surprised by the tone of that voice that his head came up quickly, his eyes meeting the Doctor's, his mouth falling open in surprise at the warmth and care in that dark gaze.

The Doctor's arms were around him, pulling him close, holding him against that slender body. Jethro's arms slid around the Doctor in automatic response, his mind unable to comprehend for the moment why the Doctor was holding him and speaking in that concerned tone.

"Jethro, I'm sorry that you were thrown into that situation," the Doctor said softly, one hand stroking through his young lover's hair. "I know you've faced situations before where you've had to rescue me -- but you haven't had enemies closing in on all sides before."

"I froze," Jethro whispered, burying his face against the Doctor's shoulder, trying to hold back his tears of regret. "I should have been able to do something and not made you rely on your own devices to get us out of there. I should have been a better companion."

"A better companion?" The Doctor sounded genuinely perplexed by his words. "You couldn't possibly be a better companion, Jethro. You're all I want, or need."

"I won't let anything like that happen again, I promise." Jethro gulped, lifting his head from the Time Lord's shoulder and looking into his eyes. Those beautiful dark eyes were regarding him with love, all the tenderness in the world in their dark depths.

"We all freeze in desperate situations sometimes, Jethro," the Doctor told him, his voice gentle. "It's nothing to be ashamed of. And there'll be plenty of other chances for you to prove yourself, love. We can both be sure of that."

Jethro raised a hand to wipe away the few tears that had trickled down his face, smiling and nodding as the Doctor's lips met his. Next time he wouldn't freeze, he vowed to himself. The next time around, he would give the Doctor all the protection he needed -- no matter what the risk might be.