secret welfare poet (secondsilk) wrote in silkyfic,
secret welfare poet

Torchwood: Time Again

There were many things I loved about episode 1.12 "Captain Jack Harkness", not least was the number of times Jack must have crossed his own timeline by now.

Time Again
A not-for-profit fan work based on characters and settings created by Russell T Davies and the BBC.

917 words. Warnings: crime, death, second person point of view
Beta-ed by karaokegal
Podfic (read by me) HERE mp3, 4.37 MB, 4'46"

This time the cover-story is far more important than the first impression on the mark. Whoever tracks you down will be as out of their time as you are out of yours, but before then you will have to spend up to several months in London without being executed for treason or impersonating an officer or whatever other reason they might find to do away with you.

He is sadly easy to find; a bright young American volunteer lost in action. Three days later, after the dispatch to his mother, you arrive in his uniform, with his name and papers. No one questions the orders, and no one is unhappy to have another officer around.

You’ve been here less than two weeks when your ship tells you that they have finally found you, whoever ‘they’ will turn out to be. You are at the club (as you’ve come to call it), and had planned to spend the start of the night gently teasing Algy.

When the bombs start to fall, you are at the window with your omnioculars. A young woman in post-war clothing is hanging from a barrage balloon and you know that the countdown has started. It’s only just in time, too. You’ve managed this bit well, you can even tell them when the bomb would drop, play the crook, and they still won’t have time to find it for themselves.

You’ve left a couple of threads hanging if you ever need to return. If it comes to that, you’ll be pleased to see Algy again. You know that you will miss him and the enticing combination of his daring and his fear, but the next turn in the plot is already forming in your mind. Its call is stronger. Rescue the girl, sell the junk and avoid the bomb. Then it will be over and you can return to a civilised time and place with the cash to build a persona you might genuinely enjoy.

The plan, when there had still been a plan, did not include spending 1941 in London. You are working your way up through the ranks and will go where they tell you, with little manipulation on your own part. Even Torchwood has agreed that the Germans are a greater threat than aliens. But you feel, despite a new name and new rank, that there is too great a risk of meeting yourself or revealing how much you know about wartime London. You’re planning to receive special orders before the end of December.

Then you see Estelle. You have lived for more than a hundred years, but the shock of falling in love can still take your breath away. And it does; the way she smiles, the way she walks, the way she turns toward you when you approach her.

New Year’s Eve is sedate in the aftermath of the Second Great Fire. You see in 1941 in a quiet corner of a salon. Estelle tells you about the fairies, like it is a great confession. You cannot pretend to be sceptical. She laughs and kisses you, too pleased that you believe her to listen properly to your stories. She teases you about the war confusing your idea of good and bad.

“Perhaps one person’s good is another’s bad,” you say.

She smiles, not pretending that it makes sense.

“Will you promise me,” she begins, then pauses to gather herself. “Can you promise that we’ll be together?”

You do not hesitate to say, “Until we die,” because you would mean it if you could.

The orders you arrange ship you out on the sixth of January. Then you simply disappear, walk out of her life like she was a mark. You think you’ll try to find her again, when you can.

The dance hall is long abandoned, but it can still evoke memories of its era. The 1940s on Earth is as familiar and comfortable for you as any other time or place you’ve ever discovered. The time shift feels like the resetting of a dislocated joint.

You really would have loved to return. When it turns out you have to, you revel in it. You spent years training for this sort of infiltration, and months studying and living in this time period. You are more pleased to be stuck here than you can ever let Toshiko know.

You forget that you have stepped out of the twenty-first century. 1941 is home, and you are surprised, embarrassed to realise that you do not have the correct money. It’s a reminder that you are not supposed to be here, but not so stark a one as coming face-to-face with the man whose life you stole.

Jack is better looking than you imagined. But also older, more weary. You certainly never expected him to look at you more than twice. His hand is warm. If you did not know that he is not going to live to see tomorrow evening, you might not have accepted the invitation to dance. He will have to face consequences of this, and you will not.

You never stay with anyone long enough to face consequences for anything. Except for Rose and the Doctor. It’s for the Doctor that you return to the time you came from.

It’s only after the gate closes that it occurs to you that Jack may have known his coming fate as well, to have approached you as he did. You don’t think you’ll be able to go back to 1941 again.

Tags: !fic, c: algy, c: estelle, c: jack harkness, c: original jack, d: 2008-06, f: torchwood, g: character study, p: jack/algy, p: jack/estelle, p: jack/original jack, r: 1
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