anightingalesang: (BW Angels dining at the Ritz)
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Night's fallen, leaving the Cardiff streets cold. People are still out, though, moving from restaurant to theatre to bar to club, back and forth along the sidewalks in groups of two and more, huddled close with arms linked to keep away the chill. He slips between them, weaving his way down the street with an occasionally apologetic smile that no one seems to notice, and, really, why should they?

He's a man out of time, a man nearly seventy years dead. His bones should be ash from the heat of the flames; his soul the only thing left to wander among them, and sometimes it seems that's how it is. Everything is so different--movies, television, music, clothing, cars. He has words for them all, at least, can identify what the things are he's faced with, but they seem as foreign to him as if he'd never seen them. Cell phones and computers baffle him, and where he always thought of himself as an intelligent man, they leave him feeling like a backwards child. When he masters how to make a call on one, it's a thrilling sense of accomplishment, but text messaging and the internet continue to elude him, and after a few disastrous attempts, he gives up.

Pulling his coat around him more tightly against the wind, he watches the faces of the people who move past, remembering what it felt like to be so at ease, to know where he belonged. He's grateful not to be dead, but he doesn't feel alive, and the in-between feeling haunts him the way he feels he haunts these streets.

Stopping by a vendor, he buys a cup of coffee, letting the warmth sink through the cup and into his hands. The man smiles at him as he hands him his change, and it's a moment, at least, of connection, of something real, something familiar. It helps ground him in that instant, but then the stream of humanity pulls him back into his wandering path down the sidewalk, and he wonders if he'll ever manage to truly feel as if he's alive and belongs again.

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Jack Harkness

September 2012

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