I Won't Say It
Requested by an anonymous flubble for their birthday. They wanted an Eleven fic based off of the song “I Won’t Say I’m In Love” and I’m pretty sure I nailed it (I even managed to incorporate some lyrics).
And for those of you wondering why Jack Harkness is here - first of all, Jack Harkness is too good to not be here, and secondly, he’s the best person I could think of to be a sassy singing Greek Muse in a toga whose most pressing interest is matchmaking. (Except for maybe Donna, but I don’t think she’d put up with all this nonsense.)
Also, look at this gif. Look at those lips. Just look at the lips. Look at them.
“I’m not doing this with you, Jack.”
“Like you have anything better to do than me.”
You glared at Jack Harkness, Captain of the Innuendo Squad, and wondered how long it would be before Jack got distracted by something shiny and ran off. That’s basically what he did last time. Alright, so last time, the “something shiny” had been a blue alien woman in very revealing clothing (what she was revealing, you weren’t sure, but that was not one bit human at all), but the point stood that Jack could be distracted from this current line of discussion. But, considering the lack of revealing aliens in this situation and how intent Jack seemed to be on having this conversation, you doubted it would happen like that again anytime soon. Shame.
“You’re disgusting,” you said plainly, playfully tossing a grape at him so he would know you weren’t quite as angry as you sounded. He leaned back and caught it in his mouth.
“You love it," Jack said around the grape. He chewed it with a smirk on his face.
You picked up another grape and stuck it in your own mouth. "No. And we’re not talking about this.”
“Oh, so we’re not talking about your very mature, reasonable crush on a really sexy Time Lo-”
“No, we’re not!” you snapped. Now you were angry. Or at least very, very frustrated.
This conversation happened a lot. Every time the Doctor left you and Jack alone in the TARDIS (which the Doctor seemed a little uncomfortable with because he always tried to take you with him and leave Jack behind, but you and Jack weren’t having any of that), Jack hounded you about your ‘crush’ on the Doctor. It wasn’t a crush, though, and you knew that, and you were pretty sure that Jack knew it too, which was why he was pushing it so hard. Because it was more than a crush, way more, and Jack wanted you to say it.
“And we’re not talking about it,” you continued, angrily chomping down on another grape, "because there’s nothing to talk about.“
"Who d'ya think you’re kiddin’?” Jack drawled. “You like him…”
You rolled your eyes. “What are you, four?”
“Nah. I’m six, at least.” Jack gave you that grin, the you-can’t-hate-me-because-I’m-so-cute-and-sinful grin, trying to take the edge off of the conversation. It didn’t work. "Honey, I think the world of you, but this is ridiculous. You love the Doctor. Can’t you face it like a grown-up?“
Hurt stung you. He hadn’t actually said anything offensive, but there had been a veiled accusation of immaturity there, and you couldn’t defend yourself and tell him that it wasn’t like that, not without saying exactly what you didn’t want to say. So instead, you said:
"Get off my case, Jack, would you?”
Jack scoffed irritably. Jack rarely got angry, as far as you had seen, but this was obviously getting to him. You didn’t want to see what an angry Jack was like, but you weren’t going to give in just because he got huffy. There was no good reason for him to get to bully you like this and you weren’t about to let him do it, either.
The grapes were left forgotten on the granite countertop of the island in the TARDIS’s oddly compact kitchen. You had stood up in an effort to regain the upper hand by making yourself taller than Jack, but Jack was leaning forward in his seat, halfway to standing up himself. Oh, he wasn’t going to turn this into an actual fight, was he? You had never fought with him. Why did he have to push this?
“You can’t keep denying this. It’s unhealthy,” Jack hissed. “You’re too proud to say it and you’re making yourself miserable.”
“Oh, please.” You put as much biting sarcasm into your voice as you could, trying to stave back the sting that was making your eyes water. You were going to cry. You didn’t want to cry, not in front of Jack or in front of anybody, but especially not in an argument like this.
“You love him.”
“No way. Nuh-uh.”
“And he loves you too!”
Now that was taking it too far. That hurt.
“Jack!” you snapped. A single hot tear welled over and made a scorching path down your cheek. You aggressively wiped it away, trying to save face despite your complete loss of control.
You knew your face was red - you could feel the heat of blood rushing up to your face. Your ears were hot and your mouth felt full of cotton. You weren’t sure how this had escalated so quickly, and maybe it wouldn’t have under normal circumstances, and maybe you wouldn’t have let tears fall so easily, but this was a wound that had been festering for years and Jack had poked at it in all the ways that hurt the worst.
Jack stared at you, stunned by the way you had broken so quickly. He didn’t know what to do - he knew that you needed to face up to this, but he hadn’t realized that it was so bad that you would… well, this. He had never made you cry, not once in all the years since you had met. The Doctor, who could sometimes be extraordinarily insensitive, had made you cry multiple times, and Jack had never failed to give the Doctor hell for it, but this wasn’t the Doctor. This was him. Jack had made you cry, and he didn’t know what to do about.
“I-” He swallowed, trying to find the words. He stood up from his seat, slowly moving to comfort you. “Aw, Sweetie, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean-”
“Just stop, Jack. Okay?” You shuffled towards the sink, purposefully out of Jack’s reach. "Just stop.“
You grabbed a scrubbing brush and began to clean dishes that had been left to soak in soapy water. The TARDIS could do he own dishes very well and didn’t mind doing them, but you liked to extend her the courtesy of doing it yourself. Not to mention it was a good distraction. With your back to Jack, you couldn’t see him and he wasn’t saying anything.
Finally, you heard the scrape of a chair and the quick footsteps of Jack making his escape from the kitchen. You sighed in relief even as another traitorous tear slipped from your blotchy cheek and into the sudsy water. You looked at your murky reflection. Your eyes were already red and puffy, just for two little tears, and your cheeks were terribly flushed.
"Get a grip, girl,” you told your reflection, and then you splashed it away with frothy suds and a tea-stained mug.
Since bringing Jack back onto the TARDIS, the Doctor had been torn about the decision. On one hand, he really liked Jack and was glad to have the man back. On the other hand, you really liked Jack and Jack really liked you and that meant that the Doctor didn’t get you all to himself anymore, which he didn’t like. Since finding you, he hadn’t really bothered bringing other companions aboard for very long, mostly because he liked it best when it was just the two of you, as it should be. But on the other hand, Jack was sort of a good security measure. The Doctor wasn’t a fool - he had lost companions before and he wasn’t so arrogant as to think that he wasn’t in danger of losing one again. Jack was like extra security for you, which was good. But on the other hand, you were spending more time with just Jack when the Doctor wasn’t around, and that made the Doctor terribly nervous, because Jack was handsome and charming and tempting and romantic and a man and you were- were- well, he was a boy and you were a girl and the Doctor didn’t like what his brain came up with when he wondered what went on when you two were alone together. But on the other hand, Jack was trustworthy and the Doctor knew that you were safe with the captain. But on the other hand, you had very pretty lips, and Jack couldn’t resist a set of pretty lips, and the Doctor couldn’t recall seeing you kiss anyone ever in all your travels, so perhaps you were letting Jack kiss you, just because humans got lonely without kisses. But on the other hand-
Oh, goodness, that was more than enough hands. That was at least six hands and he didn’t have nearly enough, even if he used his feet.
But the point was, in the end, that even though the Doctor knew that you were quite safe with Jack, the Doctor hated leaving you with him, because the Doctor would spend his outings thinking of Jack kissing you and you kissing Jack, and the very idea of it made him feel frantic. So he would do whatever errands he needed to do and then scurry back to the TARDIS as quickly as he could, often entertaining the thought that, maybe, if he asked nicely, you would get your kisses from him instead of Jack. The Doctor was lonely too, after all, and it seemed more than fair to him that if you were both lonely, you could be unlonely together. Jack could and would get his kisses from just about anyone else in the universe. The only person who the Doctor wanted was you. Wouldn’t it be fair for you and the Doctor to be together while Jack had the rest of the universe? Yes, that was perfectly fair.
This, of course, was all very ridiculous, and the Doctor knew it.
He had no proof, or even the barest bit of evidence, that you and Jack were anything other than good friends. And he wasn’t so silly as to think that he could just ask you for a kiss, or that he could woo you like a Gallifreyan might, but it was a beautiful fantasy that he liked to entertain. And it was true that humans got lonely. Your species was meant to be in pairs. There were some of you who didn’t need it or want it for some reason or another, but the majority of human beings were much better off when they were in pairs. Romantic pairs, that is, and devout pairs, not the casual sort. And you didn’t weren’t part of a pair, which meant that you could have all the friends in the world, but that would not stop you from feeling that loneliness. The Doctor empathized, to a degree - Gallifreyans didn’t feel that pressing urge to find a bond-mate until much later in their lives (the second puberty, if you will), so the Doctor had gotten through many of his regenerations with some curiosity towards the idea but no sense of loneliness or hurt in his lack of partner. Then he had hit the age when that changed, and since then, there had been a terrible gap that he wanted someone to fill. That he wanted you to fill, if he could have his pick, but he doubted you would agree. So, knowing what it felt like, to be missing the other half of something so dear and yet not knowing how to find it… the Doctor couldn’t find it within himself to be angry or blame you at all if you were interested in Jack
The Doctor opened the door to the TARDIS, arguing with himself over whether or not to find you immediately or leave you in peace with Jack. As it turned out, there was no answer to that debate, because Jack was sitting in the console room, looking awful, and you were nowhere to be seen.
Jack looked up at the Doctor with an odd expression on his face. The Doctor stared back even as he shut the TARDIS door behind him.
“… Jack…?” the Doctor ventured to say. “What’s the matter with you, eh?”
Jack grimaced. “I screwed up, Doc.”
The Doctor blinked in surprise. Jack wasn’t terribly proud, not compared to many of the Doctor’s other companions, but rarely admitted to failure before he was absolutely sure that he couldn’t fix his mistake or at least give another attempt to do better. 'I screwed up’ were not words to be heard from Jack Harkness’s mouth.
“What happened?” asked the Doctor, dreading the answer.
“It was…” Jack sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. “I was just trying to get her to admit it to herself, y'know? It’s been hurting her. I can tell. I thought that if she could say it in front of me, maybe she could tell you, and then you’d both stop dancing around it like it’s not there… you two would be so perfect, and you don’t even…”
The Doctor’s nose wrinkled in confusion. “Jack, what are you talkin’ about?”
Jack scoffed. “Both of you are hopelessly oblivious. Doc, she loves you.”
No. No, no, not this. Jack wouldn’t pull such a cruel joke.
“I mean, she really loves you. She is in love with you. She has been for ages. Maybe even before I met you guys. I dunno.”
Stop. Stop, it hurts. Don’t lie. Don’t tease. It hurts.
Then Jack sighed again, heavily, and pursed his lips. “I tried, and I screwed it up. She got upset. Cried. I’ve never made her cry before, Doctor. And what did you do that has her so convinced that you don’t love her, huh?”
I never said anything. Actions speak louder that words, but I never kissed her, either, and I never gave her a flower or shiny thing or a note full of love words. What I’ve done for her, she could logic away to concern and friendship and the protection of a companion. I never said that I love her in straight words or unquestionable actions. How was she to know?
“Where is she?” the Doctor asked when he finally regained his voice.
“Kitchen,” Jack grunted.
You furiously scrubbed away at a pan that you had already scrubbed twice. You were soaked all down the front of your shirt from splashing yourself. There were suds on your face that itched and your fingers were starting to prune, but you didn’t care. You were too upset to care. You usually knew better than to take anything Jack said too seriously, but this time, that was impossible.
You paused. When had the Doctor gotten back? “Hey, Doctor. I didn’t hear you come in.”
“I love you.”
The pan you were scrubbing slipped from your grip and splashed loudly into the sudsy water in the sink. You turned around so that you could face the Doctor, scrubbing-brush still clenched in your hand.
“I love you,” the Doctor repeated, green eyes large and pleading, "and I… I know that I’ve never said anything about it, or shown you how I care, and I’m sorry. I was… scared. I haven’t, I mean, felt this way, not since… well, Rose, really, but this isn’t about Rose. It’s about you. And me, but mostly you. Or, um, us. Because Jack said, and I- I- I want… I want what he said.“
You swallowed, trying to make your voice come out steady: "And what… did Jack say, that you want?”
“That you love me,” the Doctor whispered, stepping closer to you, “and that we would be perfect.”
“I bet we would be,” you agreed, and the Doctor’s eyes lit up.
“I was thinking the exact same thing!” he exclaimed, and he swept you up for a kiss, soapy clothes and pruned fingers and all.