anightingalesang: (Standing alone)
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"Why did you make me kiss her goodbye?"

"I just think you should live every night like it's your last. Make tonight the best night of your life. You're alive, right here, right now. Your men are fine."

"What are you trying to say?"

"Go to her. Go to your Nancy and lose yourself in her."

"Maybe I should."


"Is Toshiko your woman?"

"No. There's no one. - Go to her."

He made it down the stairs, to the coat room, reaching for his ticket to claim his coat. His feet dragged every step, though, like fighting through quicksand to get to the door. It opened and a laughing couple came in, relief on their face that the air raid was over, and a hectic shine in their eyes that said they were all too intent on following through with on Captain Harper's maxim. Carpe diem, right? Eat, drink, be merry, for tomorrow you may die. However you said it, he'd heard it all before, from a dozen different sources, books and lips, and seen his men and the girls they held living it out before his eyes. Nothing wrong with it, he supposed, except for the trail of broken hearts it left behind for some.

She loved him, and for all that he knew she was a sweet kid, there was nothing in her that lit that spark in him. He wouldn't lose himself in her, no matter how hard he tried. Instead, he'd perpetuate a sham he lived every day, concentrate on keeping that facade up and working. There would be no joy in it for him, and only raise expectations in her that he would never be able to fulfill. There had been something in Captain Harper's eyes, some desperation he didn't want to name or look at too closely, and a loneliness that echoed and touched his own.

If this were truly his last night on Earth...if he had only one chance for one thing in life left...

Handing his coat back to the girl behind the counter, he moved back upstairs.

"I thought you'd gone. This could be your last chance."

"That's why I came back."

"I might have to leave before the night is over."

"Well, then make the most of now."

The boldness in the move took his breath away. That he initiated it, was able to say anything left something inside him trembling. He felt...he didn't know what he felt. His stomach was knotted up, twisting around until he was certain it was going to turn inside out. His mouth was dry, and he would have given anything for another drink. Reaching for James's hand was one of the most difficult things he'd ever done, far more terrifying than any smile he'd ever given any girl, for the amount of himself bared in a single gesture.

When warm fingers wrapped around his, and their eyes met, and the layers around their conversation slid away so that the meanings behind the sentences were crystallized, he found he could breathe again, and for a moment the world seemed right.

The interruption ripped the feeling apart, sending his heart skittering off at a rapid pace, the implications of his actions swirling around in his head. The offer was there in James' eyes, now that he knew, now that Jack had revealed himself, but he couldn't take it, running as always, back to his men, and his easy smiles and the role he'd cast for himself.

He couldn't stop his eyes from wandering, though, to the man who'd captivated something inside of him. The fall of hair over his forehead, the slump of his shoulders, the weight he carried on them, the timeless grief in his eyes that had seen too much somehow...Jack moved from his men to lean against the wall, the better to watch him, to let his gaze feast on that only he and convention were denying him.

Something, some conversation murmured to Toshiko, caused James' shoulders to droop a shade lower, and the sight tugged him forward. His drink hit a table with a blind sort of precision born of practice, and then he was their beside him. When their hands met again, there was no hesitation. He led, James followed. Only when they hit the dance floor did he hesitate, and James took over, pulling him close and moving with an ease that bespoke comfort and practice.

The people, the stares, the gasps, they meant nothing in the swelling tide that rose up inside him. Warmth, connection, a growing thread of desire, and the release of dropping the mask he'd worn for so long. His lips were so close he could taste the lingering brush of alcohol on his breath. His whole body tightened in anticipation, yearning toward him, toward that something more he knew could be, was just around the corner out of reach.

And the world exploded into light.

"Jack! Jack, we need to get out! Jack, you have to! We need you."

"I have to go. It's my duty."

Jack understood duty. He didn't understand the light, or Toshiko's urgings, or the way the wall seemed to be missing, but he understood duty. He recognized the anguish in James's eyes, and the way his fingers clung to him, even as he nodded. Because duty called, and you gave up what you wanted for it. You buried it deep inside of you to be the person you had to be to serve those who needed your protection, your support.

It didn't make it hurt any less as James walked away, and it didn't stop the selfish leap of his pulse when he paused and turned back to him. There was a moment where he didn't know exactly what to expect, and then their lips met and he wasn't thinking, not anymore. He didn't want to. It was a kiss leading nowhere but goodbye, a kiss with no future, no promise in it but a desperate passion and an aching loss, and it was still the most beautiful, most true kiss of his life. He wanted to drown in it, to follow James's advice and lose himself in it, and for a few sweet heartbeats he did. It was just them, just this, and then it was over, and each breath felt colder.

He tried to form words, but neither of them had anymore. James' fingertips slid over his cheek and he walked away, letting the light encompass him. Turn around, he found himself thinking, over and over. Not to stay, he wasn't foolish enough to think he'd stay, but one more look, just one.

James turned.

Jack still had no words. The salute was all he could muster, because speaking would break it all down, crack the spell forever. He watched, helpless, as James faded away, and the light died, and he was left standing there alone.

Date: 2012-12-30 06:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
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Jack Harkness

September 2012

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