Remix: Clothes Make the Man (The One Small Thing Remix) [Jack, Nine, 495 words, rated G], by astrogirl2
Jack is in the back of the second-hand shop, scanning some items that have turned out not to be alien after all, when the Doctor walks in.
He's already opening his mouth to call out the Doctor's name, when he suddenly realizes it's the wrong Doctor. Not the one he saw last, but the one he knew first. It's odd, this mixed feeling of familiarity and strangeness... You'd think he'd be used to meeting people out of sequence, as much time traveling as he's done, but somehow it's a little different when the person in question has a habit of changing his face.
The Doctor doesn't see him. He doesn't appear to see anything, or even to be entirely aware of where he is. He looks oddly vulnerable without his usual leather jacket, and his eyes are unfocused and strange. Jack might even go so far as to call them "haunted." He looks as if he's just come from a war.
Jack walks towards him. "Doctor?"
The Doctor blinks. "Do I know you?" His voice is flat. Lifeless. He doesn't even seem to register that "wrongness" his later self talked about, which leaves Jack wondering just how much temporal wrongness he's seen lately, to become so inured to it.
"Not yet," he says. "I don't think you'll remember me, either." At least, if he will, he'll be surprisingly good at hiding it. But regeneration sometimes has that effect, if the things he's heard are true. Funny, to think that the Doctor has a harder time coming back to life than Jack does.
Jack's gaze suddenly lights on something familiar hanging on the clothing rack, and he laughs. "Well. Look at that." They taught him at the Time Agency that it's better to go along with a closed temporal loop than to fight against it. Who is he to argue? He slides the jacket off its hanger and settles it gently around the Doctor's shoulders. "You're having a tough time right now," he says softly. "There's nothing I can do about that. But I've found that the right coat can do wonders for one's sense of identity."
The Doctor shrugs himself the rest of the way into the jacket and looks into Jack's eyes with an expression of surprised confusion, as if startled to discover that there's still kindness in the universe. "Thank you," he says. He looks different already. Better armored. More himself.
"You're welcome," he says. "Keep it as long as you need it. But, you know, you really don't want to shop here. Try Henrik's. I think they may have some of what you need."
The Doctor blinks at him, nods, manages something that might at some point in the future evolve into a smile, and walks to the exit.
Jack holds up a hand as the teenager behind the cash register begins to protest, and tosses him a small wad of cash.
"Keep the change," he says.