May. 11th, 2009

anightingalesang: ([Jack] Almost kiss)
Jack knows duty. It's a word that has pulled him through more than he can say, through moments when nothing else could. It's a mistress, a taskmaster, a rock, a mask, an excuse. As music swirls around, it feeds the words that form the escape. His men need him tonight. He needs to stay with them, though she and he both know not a one of them would begrudge him leaving to spend some time with Nancy, but he says the words anyway and she lets him, though he can see the hurt in her eyes, the wondering if she's doing something wrong. Well enough to say she's a lady and there are rules, ways of treating ladies, even in wartime, when others don't follow them. There's nothing else he can say, though, no other reassurance he can give her. She's a wonderful girl, a girl any man would be proud to call his, a girl he knows he's lucky to have care for him. He tries to feel something, anything. When she goes, he feels relief.

It's different the first time he shakes Captain James Harper's hand. The flicker of sensation that crawls through him may not be new. He's fought the inappropriate feelings most of his life, knowing what they would condemn him to--a life of shame and hiding or open ridicule and revilement for himself and those he loves, or a lonely one where duty compels him to abjure satisfaction. He chose the latter, and it hurts when he looks in the other man's eyes and for an instant believes he sees a kinship there. There's something, at least, a flicker in those eyes that are too old for such a young face, and the man is there every time he turns around. His words are intense, burning, telling him to go to Nancy, to make tonight the best night of his life, to lose himself in her, and they set off a different yearning all together and Jack wonders if James has any idea the thoughts he's placing in his head. It isn't Nancy he wants to lose himself in. It never has been. There's a desperation in James' tone, as if he knows something, and it feeds a fire in Jack's core, pushing him to action, to instinct.

They're all staring, he knows, when his fingers close around James' hand, but the other man follows him, and then they're dancing, and it's awkward for him for a moment. He's never dared; he doesn't know what to do, but James does, and he follows, and he knows he wasn't wrong with what he saw in his eyes. It's a moment out of time, when the rest of the world, the shocked gasps, the staring eyes, can fade into the distance, and for once, perhaps his last chance, he can have a sliver of what might have been. The girl's shouts barely register until James pulls back. She's shouting his name, though, and that makes no sense, but all he can see is the look in his eyes. He's leaving. Because of duty.

Jack knows duty. He lets him go, releases his hold, watches him turn, the absence already growing like a hole in his stomach, but then he turns, and there's a moment where hope flares. For once, maybe, they can tell duty to go to Hell. He at least consigns propriety to it, meeting the other man's kiss without reservation, letting it fill all the empty corners he's neglected for too many years. His fingers clutch at James' shirt, feeling the strength underneath, letting the craving fill him for everything that isn't, but in that moment could be, and then it's over. There's a chill where his body was, and he's walking away, into the light that's so blinding despite having no recognizable source. Duty tears and demands, and Jack straightens, raising his chin and saluting, even as James fades away, before he can hear him toss duty's call aside and ask him for the one thing he can't have.

anightingalesang: (Disconcerted)
"The future is the past returning through another gate." - Arnold Glasgow

It was supposed to be a routine training mission, nothing more, nothing less. The air was clear and cold when they took off, colder up high, and it pushed in on him in ways that made him smile as he slipped into maneuvers. The night before had weighed on his mind, keeping him from sleeping. Music played in his mind, he could feel James against him while he tried to sleep, thinking, wishing he wasn't alone. His men had looked at him somewhat askance after James had disappeared, but it seemed James and Toshiko literally disappearing into thin air outweighed the sight of their Group Captain locked in a passionate embrace with another man, at least for the moment. It would come, he was sure, the looks, the comments, some sort of repercussions, but this morning there were only high spirits as they all headed out into the dawn.

He was alert, despite the restless night, aware of his men, of the plane, of the conditions around them. There was a strange tension running through him, though, that he couldn't attribute fully to frustrated desire. James' words lingered, that strange intensity, the look in his eyes that seemed to know too much and sent trickles of unease down his spine this morning. When the first shout came across the comms, he wasn't surprised, a surreal inevitability settling over him. He'd known. He didn't know how he'd known, but he'd known, and something was going to go horribly, horribly wrong.

The knowledge of it fed into a sense of calm. Perhaps he was doomed, but that didn't mean his men had to be. Those boys were in his care, and he'd be damned if they were going down with him. The world narrowed to the battle, the sounds of guns, the shouts of orders the shift of air under wings and the flip of the plane as he shifted in the air to face the threat. One of the enemy went down, and he felt a pleased thrill slide through him. The second lit up, flaming in the sky and hurtling downward, and he gave a shout. The third hurtled at him and they chased each other through the clouds, and when the German plane exploded, he couldn't contain the whoop of joy. Perhaps James had been wrong, after all, or he'd been reading too much into that look in his eyes.

And then he smelled the flames. His radio cut out, and he couldn't hear his men. He shouted at them to cut out, to head home as he felt the heat licking at him. He tried to bail out, to get free, but it was too late. Smoke scorched his lungs and he coughed trying to clear them, feeling tears stinging his eyes. Through the heat and flames and smoke, he couldn't be sure of what he was seeing, but it seemed as if the sky in front of him split open in a crack of blue light. A rift appeared in the clouds crackling and dark and swirling with energy that terrified him more than the plane. He felt himself hurtling toward it, the plane jerking, and the world went black around him. It was cool at least, and he welcomed what he thought had to be the end, hoping, at least, his men had made it home.

* * *

Everything hurt. His lungs felt burned, filled with smoke, still, in such a way that he couldn't believe he was dead--heaven couldn't hurt like this and he felt a fierce disappointment that one night's indulgence after a lifetime of service and denial could have left him stranded in hell fire. He coughed, trying to clear his lungs, cracking his eyes open, but instead of some twisted landscape, he found himself looking at a bay he recognized.

Cardiff Bay.

Sitting up, Jack Harkness looked around, bewildered. The water was familiar, as was the landscape, but the buildings around it had changed to the point of being nearly unrecognizable. He pushed to his feet, swaying just a little bit before he got his balance and started to ask himself where he was. But the familiar landscape told him that too well, and a little voice whispered that however impossible the question might seem, the better one to be asking was when was he?


anightingalesang: (Default)
Jack Harkness

September 2012

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