Title: Wall of Silence
Pairing: Tenth Doctor/Jethro Cane
Fandom: Doctor Who
Prompt: 30, Silence
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 looked up from where he was sitting cross-legged on the floor of the Tardis' control room. The Doctor was leaning over the console, frowning and seemingly concentrating hard on what he saw in front of him. And as usual, not speaking a word.
If he got up and went over to the Time Lord, he would talk, Jethro knew. He would spout some inanity about space and time, some fact that Jethro didn't want to know about. He would talk about anything and everything -- except whatever it was that had been bothering him since they'd left the last planet they'd been on.
They'd had to get out of there quickly; the Doctor had thought that he'd glimpsed the Master in a crowd of people, and it had agitated him so much that he'd literally grabbed Jethro's arm and dragged him back to the Tardis. It was the first time the young man had seen the Doctor actually act as if he was frightened of something.
He knew about the Time Lord's run-ins with the Master in the past; he'd gotten the Doctor to talk about those experiences a few times, feeling as though he'd dragged the words from the Gallifreyan unwillingly. But he had to know. He'd seen what the Master was capable of doing to the Doctor firsthand, but he had to know what had happened in the past.
What was it about that guy that scared the Doctor so badly? He'd thought that the Time Lord wouldn't be afraid of anything, least of all another person -- but apparently, whatever the Master had done to him in the past was enough to send him running away in fear. And Jethro wanted to know just what it was that made him so afraid.
After all, if the Doctor was that scared, then maybe he could help his lover get past that fear, he told himself. It wouldn't do the Doctor much good to keep running from that Master; that bastard seemed to be able to find the two of them no matter where they went.
He scowled down at his hands clasped in his lap, wishing that he could wrap those hands around the Master's throat and squeeze the life out of him. Just from what he'd seen of what the Master had done to the Doctor as the aftermath of the one encounter they'd had since Jethro had been with the Time Lord had already given him an unparalleled hatred for the man.
No, not a man, he told himself fiercely, clenching his hands into fists. The Master couldn't be called anything but a monster -- not as far as he was concerned. The Doctor had tried to shrug off what he'd done by telling Jethro that it was something he'd done several times in the past and would probably do again in the future -- well, not if Jethro Cane had anything to do with it.
He was going to protect the Doctor at all costs. He had no idea how he was going to manage that, but he was determined -- and when there was a will, there was a way, he thought, remembering the old saying that his mother had so often quoted to him. He'd protect the Gallifreyan with his life, if he had to. He'd willingly sacrifice himself if it kept the Doctor from harm.
When he'd said as much to the Time Lord, the Doctor had almost gasped, whirling around from where he'd been standing at the controls of the Tardis -- much the same way he was now -- and shaken his head almost frantically. Jethro remembered the look on his face, a combination of fear and despair. He'd never seen the Doctor look like that before.
"No, Jethro," the Time Lord had told him, those long, thin fingers digging into his arms where the Doctor had gripped him. "I don't want you to think like that. I don't want to hear you say that again. Ever! Promise me you won't do something stupid. Promise me!" His voice had risen to a much higher pitch than normal, his dark gaze fixed on Jethro's.
He'd promised. He really hadn't had a choice, he thought, shivering a little. The Doctor had seemed so .... so insistent, and so afraid. He'd had the feeling that if he had argued, the Time Lord would have had some sort of a meltdown, and he wasn't willing to cause that.
They'd been through so much together -- maybe it wasn't a lot in the Doctor's long life, but to Jethro, it felt as though they'd shared innumberable experiences. And now there was this silence that had built up between them, a silence that the Doctor didn't seem willing or able to break. It was up to him to charge through that wall of silence and knock it down.
Jethro got up from where he was sitting, moving to the controls of the ship behind the Doctor. He slid his arms around the Time Lord's waist, not pulling the Doctor back against him, but letting the other man know he was there. He let his chin rest on the Doctor's shoulder, lookng at the array of controls in front of him that he knew nothing about.
"Where are we headed to next, love?" he asked softly, hoping that this would be a way to get the Doctor talking; he had to draw his lover into some sort of conversation before he could ask him all the questions that were crowding into his mind. "I can't make heads or tails of this -- so I rely on you to let me know what's going on."
The Doctor sighed, closing his eyes and rubbing his forehead, as though he was suffering from a headache. "I've been trying to come up with someplace in the universe where he can't follow us -- somewhere that we can feel safe and not have to look over our shoulders the entire time we're there. But I can't, Jethro. He knows all of the places I do. No place is safe."
Jethro sighed and tightened his arms around the Doctor's slender waist, pressing a kiss against the colum of the other man's throat. "So that means we can't be 100% safe anywhere. Nobody's safe all the time, Doctor. That's too much to ask for."
"I know that." The Doctor's voice was low, almost as though he didn't want to say the words. "But I want to keep you as safe as possible. There's no telling what he could take it into his head to do -- and he knows how much you mean to me, I'm sure of it. He might not have been told in so many words, but I know that he can sense our feelings for each other."
"If he can, then so much the better." Jethro didn't want to argue with the Time Lord, but he couldn't let the Doctor go on thinking that they had to run from the Master constantly. Whatever he was so afraid of, the two of them had to face those fears so that the Doctor could conquer them. He couldn't keep living with that fear, or it would consume him.
The Doctor shook his head, his voice sounding firmer and more determined when he spoke again. "No, Jethro, you're wrong. If he knows just how much you mean to me, then he would try to take you from me -- in the most permanent way possible. And he knows you're human. If you're taken away .... then there's no coming back."
"I wouldn't let him do that," Jethro whispered, realizing even as he said the words how inadequate they sounded. He knew that the Master would stop at nothing to destroy the Doctor -- or at least to feel that he controlled the Time Lord. Taking away the person he loved most would be the ultimate way to break his spirit, and the Master would delight in that.
"You wouldn't be able to stop him." The Doctor turned in Jethro's arms, facing his young lover and taking Jethro's face between his hands. The young man's eyes met the Time Lord's, a gasp almost coming from him when that intense dark gaze seared into his own. He'd never seen the Doctor look like this; he was completely focused on Jethro, to the exclusion of everything else.
"I can't put you in the middle of our battle, Jethro. I can't let him have any sort of access to you. It almost happened once -- it was pure luck that made him decide that he couldn't override his lust for me and turn it onto you. I won't risk your life, not in that way. Not in any way." The Doctor's voice was low and urgent, as if he wanted to burn the words onto Jethro's very soul.
"I'm not going to let you face him alone again, if he tracks us down." Jethro's voice was just as determined as the Time Lord's, his words stronger and more decisive. "I won't let you sacrifice yourself for me. That's not going to happen."
The Doctor fell silent again, his arms dropping to his sides as he turned away. "It's not your decision to make, Jethro," he said, his words sounding cold and final. "You've never had to deal with him before. He's already taken far too much from me in the years he's chased me around the universe. I'm not going to let him take you, too. I'll die first."
"No!" Jethro wasn't aware that he'd cried out until the Doctor turned around, eyes widening. He pulled the Time Lord into his arms, not caring if he almost crushed the other man in his embrace. "Don't you dare talk about dying. Don't you dare. That's not an option, not for either of us. I won't let you leave me like that."
"Jethro ...." The Doctor sounded tired, his shoulders sagging. "You have too much of your life ahead of you for me to let you walk blindly into situations that could get you killed. I've already lived for far more years -- centuries -- than you'll ever see in your life span. I'm expendable. You're not."
"Stop it!" Jethro shook the thin body in his arms, not caring if he angered the Doctor by doing so. "You're not expendable. Not to me, and not to anybody else in the whole fucking universe. I might not have been there to see everything you've done for people, but I know there's a lot more to what you've done than you've told me."
"There isn't." The Doctor shook his head again, but he didn't pull away from Jethro's embrace. "It's not negotiable, Jethro. I'm going to keep you safe, no matter what I have to do. There's nothing you can do to change that."
"We're making a deal. Right now." Jethro's grip on the Doctor tightened; he somehow felt that if he let the Time Lord go now, there would be a wall between them that he'd never be able to break down. That silence that the Gallifreyan had been wrapped in for the last few days would become more pronounced -- and it would go on and on with no end in sight.
"All right." The Doctor was looking at him quizzically, as though he wondered what Jethro was on about. Maybe what he was going to say would pull the Time Lord out of the silence he'd buried himself in; Jethro sincerely hoped so. If it didn't, then he didn't know what else he could do or say to make that silence disappear. Probably nothing.
"Whatever we do, whatever either of us has to face -- we'll do it together," he whispered, resting his forehead against the Doctor's as he spoke. "I know you want to protect me -- but you have to know that I want to protect you just as much. I love you, Doctor. I won't lose you, not if there's anything at all that I can do to keep you with me. Don't ask me to go through that. I can't."
"Don't you understand, Jethro?" The Doctor's voice broke; he closed his eyes, his voice shaky when he spoke again. "I've already lost so much -- so many people I cared about, so many worlds that I couldn't save. I couldn't do anything to help them -- I had to stand by and watch them die. I won't watch that happen to the person I love. I can't go through that, either."
"Then that means we have to protect each other," Jethro said softly, pulling the Doctor close against him and stroking his hair back from his face. The Time Lord buried his face against Jethro's neck, his thin arms wrapping around his young lover's waist. Jethro was surprised to feel him trembling; he tightened his hold on the other man, hoping to reassure him by his presence.
"If we go -- then we go together," Jethro murmured, closing his eyes and taking a deep breath. "I couldn't survive without you, and I know you feel the same way about me. So .... if one of us has to sacrifice themselves, then the other goes with him. That sounds to me like it's the only solution. I know that I'm damn well not going to stick around without you by my side."
Jethro didn't know how long they stood there, holding each other and holding back tears. He didn't want to pull away from the Time Lord; he could hold the Doctor like this forever. But after what seemed like a long time, the other man raised his head, giving Jethro a watery smile and nodding as he reluctantly pulled away from their embrace and took the young man's hand in his own.
"It's a deal," he whispered, squeezing his young lover's hand. "All I can say is .... I hope that it won't come to that. And if it does, I hope that I'm the first one of us to go."
"I can't promise you that," Jethro said softly, returning the gentle squeeze with pressure of his own. "But I can promise you this -- that no matter what happens, if the Master catches up to us or if something else threatens us, I'm going to be right there with you, right to the end. I wouldn't have it any other way."
He knew why the Doctor had said those words -- the Time Lord couldn't bear to see another person he loved taken away from him. Jethro wanted to ask about the past, to find out what the Master had taken away that the Doctor had been so passionate about. He was willing to bet that it was his home -- Gallifrey -- but that was still too painful a wound to bring up.
Were there other people he'd loved, wanted to be with? Jethro mentally slapped himself for that thought -- of course he'd loved other people. He was over 900 years old, after all. It wouldn't have made sense for him to have gone that long without having had lovers. And besides, whoever they were, they were long gone. He had no need to be jealous of people who didn't even exist now.
What mattered was that he had the Doctor -- here with him, in his arms, in his heart. This man belonged to him, in all of the important ways, and whatever had happened in his past had been part of making him who he was today. The man that Jethro had fallen in love with. That past was part of him -- and if it disappeared, he'd be a different person entirely.
"I wouldn't have it any other way, either," the Doctor whispered, letting Jethro pull him into his arms again, his own arms sliding around his young lover's waist. They stood like that for a long time, silence wrapping around them -- but this time, it was a comfortable silence, one that Jethro didn't mind at all.
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