Title: Bruise Pristine
By: angstytimelord
Pairing: Tenth Doctor/Jethro Cane
Fandom: Doctor Who
Rating: R
Table: 4
Prompt: 16, Vulnerable
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 felt as though he'd been creeping around the Tardis ever since he'd gotten the Doctor back to the ship, trying to tread softly and not disturb the Time Lord. It had been easier to do when they'd first gotten back, given the fact that the Doctor had been close to unconsciousness before they'd entered the ship, and that he had passed out soon after.

At least he seemed to be all right, Jethro thought, sighing and running a hand over his face. Well, as all right as he could be after he'd been beaten to within an inch of his life. Jethro had been terrified that the beating the Time Lord had taken would force another regeneration, but fortunately, that hadn't happened.

He'd known that it probably wasn't the best idea to let the Doctor go out on his own, not while they were in what was apparently a hostile world that thrived on violence. He still felt guilty about that -- he should have gone with the Doctor, no matter that the Gallifreyan had insisted that he'd be safe and that he could take care of himself.

No, he should have known that the Doctor was incapable of staying out of trouble. Though, given what this world seemed to be like, he was fairly certain that even if the Doctor had gone out of his way to avoid trouble, it would find him at some point.

He didn't know just how the people who'd beaten the Doctor up had found him, or why they'd decided to set upon a man who had apparently not done anything to antagonize them. But the fact remained that they had -- and Jethro was grateful that he'd been out looking for the Doctor and had been able to find him quickly and get him back to the Tardis.

He'd been shocked when he'd found the Doctor, lying in a boneless heap at the back of a dead-end alley. The Time Lord's face had been bruised, his lower lip split open, a trickle of blood running down the side of his face. Jethro had been terrified, sure that there had to be some broken bones that he would have no way of setting properly.

The Doctor insisted that he would be all right if he could be taken back to the Tardis, but Jethro hadn't been so sure. The Time Lord had been panting, his breath rasping in his throat, seemingly unable to take a deep breath without wincing in pain. Jethro was positive that there were some broken ribs, though he knew the Doctor wouldn't tell him if there were.

All he could do was to get the Time Lord back to his ship, and make him as comfortable as possible. It had been slow going to get back to the Tardis, with the Doctor having to stop and rest every few feet. It had been a good thing they hadn't had to walk too far.

Once they'd gotten inside the ship, the Doctor's condition had seemed to improve, if only minimally. He was still pale and shaken, the pallor of his skin making the bruises stand out all the more, but his breathing seemed to return to normal a few degrees at a time. But as soon as they'd crossed the threshold of their bedroom, he'd fainted in Jethro's arms.

The young man had gotten the Doctor over to the bed, laying the Time Lord down and starting to undress him. By the time he'd stripped the Doctor down to his skin, tears were streaking down his face. He'd known that the Gallifreyan had been beaten -- that had been obvious enough when Jethro had found him -- but he couldn't bear to look at the dark bruises that marred that perfect skin.

All he wanted to do was to take the Doctor in his arms and rock him back and forth, to let himself cry and hope that the man he loved was going to be all right. But what good would that do? he'd asked himself, sitting up and wiping at his tears with the back of one hand. No, he couldn't give way to his emotions -- at least, not now. That wouldn't help the Doctor.

He had to make the Time Lord as comfortable as he possibly could, and hope that the Doctor's resilient body would be able to heal. He had no idea exactly what sort of damage had been done, and he wasn't sure that the Doctor could know, either. He would just have to wait until the Time Lord awakened to find out exactly what his lover's condition was.

What if he didn't awaken? What if he'd been beaten into a coma that he'd never come out of, and he slipped away without coming to? What if he died in Jethro's arms? The thought was enough to make the tears come again, tears that he couldn't control.

No. That wouldn't happen. He wouldn't let it happen. The Doctor wasn't going to die; he wasn't going to leave Jethro, not like this. He'd been in worse situations before, and Jethro was certain that he'd been more badly injured before. He had to come out of this; he had to wake up and tell Jethro what to do for him.

All he'd been able to do was pull the warm blankets on their bed over the Doctor's nude body, to sit there and watch him sleep, hold his hand and occasionally press his other palm against the Time Lord's thin chest. He didn't seem to be having any problems breathing, at least. That was one thing to be thankful for.

Was it his imagination, or was there a bit more color coming back into the Doctor's cheeks? He looked better than he had when Jethro had brought him into the Tardis, though the bruises still stood out starkly against his skin. Jethro let his fingers brush over the bruise on his cheek, then another on his jaw, and yet another at one temple.

Jethro didn't want to take his eyes off the Doctor's face; he almost felt as though he could will his lover back into consciousness by looking at him. He let his eyes move lovingly over those beautiful features, drinking in the Doctor's face and imprinting it on his memory. Even with the bruises marring his skin, he was still the most gorgeous man Jethro had ever seen.

How had he gotten so lucky? he asked himself, reaching out a hand to smooth back a lock of hair that had fallen over the Doctor's forehead. Yes, he'd gone back to Midnight in the hope of seeing the Doctor there again, but he'd never really thought it would happen. And yet, miraculously, it had -- and now they were together. In a way that Jethro had only dreamed they could be.

Every day that he spent with this beautiful man was a gift. He knew it, had known it from the first moment he'd bumped into the Doctor on Midnight and recognized him. Maybe that was why it terrified him so much to think of anything happening to this man.

Not only that, but he loved the Doctor more than he'd ever thought he was capable of loving anyone. He'd known that he had feelings for the Time Lord after their first encounter on Midnight, but he'd never thought they would grow into what they were now. He hadn't thought he had the capacity for this kind of love, but it was something he wouldn't give up for anything in the world.

What was it about the Doctor that inspired this kind of love? Jethro had often wondered about that; he couldn't quite put into words just what it was that drew him to this man. It was a combination of so many things: intelligence, beauty, and things that weren't readily noticeable. Maybe the fact that he could be so vulnerable was a big part of it, he told himself.

But being vulnerable was dangerous, especially given who the Doctor was. Jethro sighed, trailing his fingertips down the smooth skin of the Time Lord's cheek. It would be so much better for him if there was a way to protect him -- or at least to keep him out of the situations he could get himself into. Of course, given the Doctor's curiosity, that was almost an impossibility.

That curiosity led the Time Lord into situations that he would be better off to stay away from, Jethro told himself with another soft sigh. How was he going to be sure that the Doctor was all right? He knew nothing about any kind of medical procedures, and he wasn't at all sure that the Doctor's physiology was the same as a human's, anyway. In fact, it more than likely wasn't.

So where did that leave them? He winced, looking down at the slender body under the blankets. He knew the bruises weren't life-threatening, but he hated looking at them, knowing that they must be causing the Doctor a lot of pain. Still, maybe he could do something to alleviate that.

He wished that he knew how to get the Tardis away from here, but the Doctor had never showed him how to manage the controls. Jethro was fairly sure that he wouldn't be able to do it, anyway; the Doctor had that strange bond with the Tardis, the bond that was already seeming to rejuvenate him. Jethro hoped that the bond with his ship would heal the Doctor quickly.

If it didn't .... then they could be here for a while. Well, hopefully not -- he should be able to help the Doctor into the control room of the Tardis to get them away from here. They needed to go to a place where the Doctor would have time to heal -- and stay out of trouble.

Jethro almost jumped when the Doctor stirred; he hadn't expected the Time Lord to awaken any time soon, but he was glad that it was happening. He reached out for the other man, laying a gentle hand on the Doctor's shoulder to keep him from sitting up too quickly, anxiously searching the Time Lord's face and waiting for him to open his eyes.

When those dark eyes did finally open, the Doctor didn't have the fuzzy, disoriented look about him that Jethro had half-expected to see. No, the Time Lord looked as though he was in complete control of his faculties -- another thing that Jethro felt grateful for. It would have been much more difficult to get the Gallifreyan to the control room if the Doctor was suffering from any disorientation.

"How long have I been out?" the Time Lord asked, his voice sounding hoarse and raspy. He ran the tip of his pink tongue over his lips, and the thought flew across Jethro's mind to kiss those lips. He held himself back from that, even though it took a great deal of willpower. All he wanted to do at the moment was take the Doctor in his arms and hug him.

But he didn't dare, not with those bruises all over the Doctor's body. He had no idea if there were any broken bones -- and given the state of the Time Lord's body, he wouldn't be surprised if there were. How was he going to bring that up to the Doctor? It wasn't as though he knew how to set a broken bone, or where to take the Time Lord to get patched up.

"A couple of hours," he said, after a quick glance at his watch. "Should you be doing that?" he asked anxiously as the Doctor sat up, wanting to push the Time Lord back down and insist that he rest, but knowing that it wouldn't be the best thing for him to do. He didn't want to risk making the Time Lord feel patronized, after all.

"Yes, I should. Don't worry about me, Jethro." The Doctor managed a wan smile, his gaze resting on Jethro's face. "It may take me a while to heal, but I'll be all right. A few cracked ribs, but they'll mend. Thank goodness for Gallifreyan physiology. A human might be near death's door." He turned his head from side to side, wincing. "Too many bruises for comfort."

Jethro moved closer to the Doctor, unable to keep himself from touching the Time Lord. To his susprise, the Doctor leaned against him, resting his head against Jethro's shoulder and closing his eyes. Jethro slipped an arm around the other man, raising his other hand to stroke his fingers through the softness of the Doctor's hair.

"I should have been more careful," the Doctor whispered, his voice still sounding hoarse -- and regretful. "I'm sorry that I put you through so much worry, Jethro. That will teach me to go out on my own -- from now on, we'll stick together."

"It's more my fault than yours," he said softly, closing his eyes and inhaling the heady, almost sweet scent that he'd come to think of as being uniquely the Doctor's. "I should have insisted on going with you. I'll never make that mistake again -- no matter where we go. I was just lucky to be able to find you."

"It was our bond that led you to me," the Time Lord told him, lifting his head and locking his gaze with the young man's. "You have amazing empathic abilities, Jethro. I don't know why they were never developed before, but since we've met, it's like .... I can feel them getting stronger. If not for that, I might still be out there somewhere."

"But you're not," Jethro told him, turning more fully towards the Doctor and pulling the Time Lord into his arms. It was a bit of an awkward position for him, trying to maneuver the Doctor halfway into his lap without hurting him. He didn't quite manage, and had to content himself with having the Doctor sitting at his side. But Jethro's arms were around him, and that was good enough.

"No, I'm not. Thanks to you," the Doctor agreed, wincing again as he stretched his arms above his head. "Bloody hell, that hurts." He looked down at his body, partially uncovered when he'd sat up and the blankets had fallen aside. "Time Lord physiology can heal broken bones and internal injuries quickly -- but they never quite discovered how to keep bruises from being painful."

Jethro didn't want to smile at those words, but he couldn't help it. The Doctor was indeed going to be all right; saying something like that was proof of it. It seemed that no matter what the Time Lord went through, he could always see the lighter side of things -- and lift Jethro's spirits along with his own. It was only one of the things he loved about this man.

Truth be told, he loved everything about the Doctor. He loved the Time Lord's face, his body, his way of speaking, his nobility, his intelligence, his smile, his laughter, his effervescent personality .... absolutely everything. And if he was lucky, he'd be able to spend the rest of his life loving the Doctor just as much -- if not more -- than he did now.

"I've got no idea how to keep the bruises from hurting," he whispered, brushing the delicate shell of the Doctor's ear with his lips. "But I think you might feel better if you had a hot shower -- with a bit of company, of course."

"That sounds like a very good idea." A smile quirked the Doctor's beautifully shaped lips in response to Jethro's words; he tilted his head to one side, making an unruly lock of hair fall into his eyes. "Do you propose to carry me off to the shower, then?"

"I could do that," Jethro said softly, standing up and bending down to lift the slender Gallifreyan into his arms. As he headed out of the room, Jethro couldn't help wondering if they would make it to the bathroom on the Tardis before he would have the irresistible urge to kiss the Doctor.

It only took a few steps for him to find out that they wouldn't.

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