anightingalesang: (Standing alone)
The streets of Cardiff had changed into something Jack barely recognized in most places. The layout was familiar, but he found himself getting lost even as his steps wandered routes they had known well in a time that seemed not so long ago to him. New businesses loomed out of old buildings, and new buildings stood where old ones had held their ground. Time stretched its hand out across the city, shifting everything, and sometimes Jack felt he was the only thing that hadn't changed.

When he stumbled across a monument or a street corner he knew, or came upon a church he'd seen people coming out of from prayer, he lingered, letting the familiarity of it soothe his aching soul. Today he was wandering, half looking for such a place, half just seeing where his feet would take him before he'd have to call someone to come and get him because he'd gotten inextricably lost, or, less embarrassingly, catch a cab back to terrain that he had finally mapped in its altered form. His brain must have had a higher purpose, though, as he looked up and froze when he saw the building across the street.

It was run down, abandoned to the ravages of time much of the rest of the city had fought off successfully, but there was no mistaking the lines of the bricks, the shape of the door, the setting of the windows. He crossed the street as if in a dream, nearly getting himself hit by a speeding cab and waving off the driver's curses. The door gave way under the push of his fingers, swinging open in a way he knew it shouldn't have.

Dust swirled up under his feet with each step. The banister was coated in it, clinging to his fingers as he ran them over the wood while he climbed. He lingered in the arch, staring at where the dance floor stretched before him. Closing his eyes, he could almost hear the ghosts of the laughter of the men he'd known rising above the notes of music that was rarely played any more except for random nostalgia of men and women who had been just boys and girls when it first played.

How long had it been since anyone had danced here? How long had it been since he had stayed that fateful night? Not so very in the way he reckoned time, but the memory of it was just a whisper of a fragment of a ghost in the boards before him. Seven decades, nearly, stretching themselves out through the memory of the one man Jack couldn't seem to find a way to truly know. Could anyone know another, though? The thought flickered as he moved to the bar, collecting more dust along his fingertips. If he strained hard enough, would he hear the music? If he waited, would that strange light find him as it had Jack before, pulling him from this point back to where he belonged? Did he belong there anymore? Did he belong anywhere? Did dead men make wishes for places to haunt? If so, he'd choose this one.

The silence remained absolute, though, even as he settled on an abandoned box. Filtering through the windows, the afternoon sun made dust mites dance the way doomed men had once, then slowly faded into dusk, leaving the room in darkness. Still Jack sat, fixed, caught, dreaming of what was and had and might have been.
anightingalesang: (Standing alone)
"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' )
anightingalesang: (BW Angels dining at the Ritz)
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.
anightingalesang: ([Jack] Look)
Jack stood staring out the window at the landscape that was familiar but twisted and distorted just enough to seem like something foreign. His gaze scanned the horizon and flicked to the street below, desperately searching for those things he could pick out, name, know among everything that seemed like so much visual clutter. The new buildings that reached for the sky like those in New York made him shake his head and swallow back a knot of fear at the realization of just how far he had come. Not in space, no, because there on the corner, he could see the faded sign of the pub where he had had dinner just a couple of weeks before, still standing. In space images pressed in on him to declare that he'd gone nowhere but from the wharf to a hotel room, fingers pressing against the cold glass leaving smudges the maid would remove tomorrow. But time...time was something else altogether.

James had explained as best he could about the Rift, how it worked. Jack had read Jules Verne. He understand the concept of time travel as a fictional device, but he never expected to have to be accepting it as a reality of his life. The realization that it only went one way for sure, that there was no way to get home had hit him like a fist to the gut, pain first, then a sick feeling, and now it had settled into a cold knot. What did he know of this life, this world? He was a man out of time, unsure of what to do, or how to do it. The planes were even different, and he couldn't just run off and join the Air Force again without extensive training in how to fly them. What would he even fight for, now? Everyone he'd ever known, save James and Tosh, were dead. His family, his friends, his cause, his war...all of it over and done with, and according to history he was supposed to be, as well.

It was disconcerting to realize you should be dead. To know that was the truth James had choked back, the reason he'd pushed him to seize the moment...he, Jack Harkness, was meant to die in that fire. Meant to have it consume him, die fighting, die defending his men, letting them all escape...It was something, he supposed, to know they'd all gotten back safe. But he didn't. History said he disappeared, assumed he died. And instead, he was here. He felt a shiver run over him, like he was walking on his own grave when he moved through the streets.

Drawing in a shaky breath, he turned back from the window to observe the bed instead, and despite the heaviness that clogged his throat, making his pulse speed up in random bursts of panic now and again, the sight of the man sleeping there, with dark hair tousled and cheeks still flushed, made him smile, just a bit. At least he hadn't wandered into a world truly alone. At least James had been there, found him. And in this world, apparently, there was a chance for something he could never have had at home, not without scorn or hiding all his life. He could be himself, at least in one aspect, while having to lie in the others. It was a trade off, and he wasn't sure if it was worth it, yet.

He was terrified, lost and adrift, in ways he'd never felt in his life. Without purpose, without a home, without a name he could even lay true claim to anymore. But he was alive, and he wasn't alone. It was something.

It would have to be enough.


anightingalesang: (Default)
Jack Harkness

September 2012

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