anightingalesang: (Half smile)
Hello. You've reached Captain Jack Harkness. Please leave a message, and I'll get back to you soon.
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: (Over shoulder shock)
Parachute or not, Jack hit the ground hard, half stunned. He twisted enough to land properly without breaking anything, but it still jarred him and he disconnected from the chute on instinct and lay on the ground trying to get his bearings and catch his breath. Something had happened up there, something he couldn't fully describe. Already dizzy from the smoke and heat from his plane burning around him, it had seemed like the sky itself opened up, sucked him in. After struggling to even be able to eject from the burning cockpit, he figured he had to be delusional, must have hit his head on something, but now, staring up at the empty sky, he reassessed that. No planes. No wreckage. No enemy fighters. None of his men. Nothing but a few birds up against a leaden sky. He'd felt tossed around by the wind, felt pretty sure he'd blacked out for a while, but no way he'd gotten carried this far away from the fight without realizing it, was there?

Cautiously, he reached around to feel his head. Whatever had hit him hadn't done so hard enough to break skin or leave any knots he could feel. Pushing himself up to sitting, he started coughing, throat and lungs both raw with smoke. He felt like he'd been run over, caught in a tornado, tossed around with Dorothy's house and smashed into the ground under it for good measure, but he was alive.

The question was where.

It was silent, no sounds of fighting reaching him. God only knew how far he'd been blown off course, and the sense of unease, the image of the gaping hole in the sky wouldn't leave him. He managed to get to his feet, tugging off his helmet and goggles as he looked around. The terrain still looked like Wales, but nothing struck him as overly familiar. When he turned enough to catch a glimpse of the city on the horizon, though, he froze. Something was wrong, all right, very wrong. Because while there were a couple of familiar looking landmarks telling him he'd landed not so far outside of Cardiff, the city he was looking back on didn't look like the Cardiff he knew at all.

"What the hell is going on?"
anightingalesang: (Dancing cheek to cheek)
Rationally, Jack knew sleeping with Captain John Hart was probably not the wisest decision he'd ever made, but after years of battling with himself, for a few moments at least, he knew what peace felt like.
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: ([Jack] Look)
It was funny, in a sort of sad way, how when his actions could upturn his whole life, he'd barely paused to think before making a move toward the man who drew him like a magnet, but now that his life had been upturned every time he thought of taking that step again, he felt himself falter.
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)
James told him to spend the night as if it were his last, as if there would be no tomorrow, and Jack had every intention of doing so, caught up in the urgency in the other man's voice, but they were interrupted by a flash of light, and while morning did dawn the next day, Jack faced it alone.
anightingalesang: ([Jack] Kiss)
One kiss was all it took to set tongues wagging and him free from the shackles of the lie he'd let bind him.
anightingalesang: (Left behind)
For an instant the world stills, and he steps out of his life, away from his duty, and into the fullness of life, but then the air itself shatters and splits, the decades slide in between, and he is left standing with his mask in tatters, alone.
anightingalesang: (Leaning and watching)
A history altered by a man in need of a name says he disappeared, and the man who changed that recorded destiny believed him dead, but somehow the words on the page have become the truth, and Jack cannot help but marvel at the strange workings of fate as he looks out on the new century he must learn to make his own.
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: (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: ([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.

Page generated Oct. 23rd, 2017 09:39 am
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