Disclaimer: I own nothing, especially not the quotes I am using from BtVS, AtS, Torchwood and Doctor Who at the start of every chapter.
A/N: Before you ask - yes, there will be a sequel!
Just... give me a little while to catch my breath.
Jack: Just gotta ask. The Battle of Canary Wharf. I saw the list of the dead. It said Rose Tyler.Cardiff. Monday 31st of July, 2006. Morning.
“Your coffee, Sir.”
And with immaculate precision a mug was placed in from of him. Jack smiled deeply with pleasure and looked up at the young man standing by his side.
A brief incline of the head was the only response before the other moved on with his tray - even Vittore couldn’t have bettered the polite servility.
Sipping his drink, Jack smiled. His own butler at Torchwood, who’d have thought?
Certainly not Suzie...
that he’s very pretty, Jack, but he was
stalking you. I thought you were going to wipe his mind and throw him out of town if he didn’t stop!”
“True. But that was before
he caught a pterodactyl.”
It was only once in a blue moon that he got to see Suzie speechless, so he had relished the sight immensely, before taking her arm and showing off their new pet.
Looking through the Hub he could see her now, busy trying to somehow tame the beast. Which left him to admire his newest acquisition as he silently and efficiently moved around.
To Jack’s surprise - and, if he was honest, somewhat disappointment - the flirting had ceased the second Ianto had turned up for work. Which meant that Jack had (maybe) only been a means to an end - and why would Ianto Jones want to come here?
Well... why was he here himself? Why were any of them here? Torchwood guaranteed death and misery, and yet once you knew what was out there, it was impossible to live in the normal world. At least Ianto had no illusions...
Also, since Jack hadn’t
hired the boy for his looks, it might be prudent not to pursue him too eagerly - not to mention the ‘he-just-lost-his-girlfriend-in-hugely-traumatic-circumstances’ part. Jack didn’t want to appear insensitive.
Still, there could be no harm in low-level flirting, right? Just making sure that if Ianto ever felt the need for a pleasurable distraction, he’d know where to find it. (Although so far he had shown none of Owen’s tendency to drink and shag his way out of heartbreak, which, quite frankly, was a relief.) And it’d help keep the boy in his mind - Ianto had in no time at all mastered a butler’s eternal art of disappearing into the background, and Jack had more than a century’s worth of practice in taking the ‘help’ for granted.
As he drained the mug a document of some sort was placed before him. Looking up he saw Ianto already moving away - heading down to the archives as far as he could tell.
Frowning he looked more closely at the cover, then nodded softly.
The official list of the dead for the Canary Wharf Battle. They’d be lucky if they saw their Mr Jones at all for the rest of the day.
Letting the sheets of paper sift through his hands he quickly found the page. And there she was: Lisa Hallet. Just a few names above Yvonne Hartman...
How often had he warned her? Telling her in no uncertain terms that they were messing with something they didn’t understand and that it could destroy them?
Being proved right was no consolation, the thousands of names in the report were far too painful for that. Absentmindedly he glanced through the pages upon pages of names... so many ordinary people caught up in the slaughter. And then he froze.Rose Tyler.
And right above was her mother’s name...
No, it had to be a coincidence. There were probably lots
of Rose Tylers in London. Hands stuttering on the keyboard he brought up her official file - but it had the same information. As did Jackie’s.
Every single thing he tried, every contact or number he could think of... it all pointed towards the same impossible, yet inescapable, conclusion.
Resting his head in hands he fought against sudden nausea.
His Rose, killed by cybermen. Killed, he hoped. The thought of her having been converted... No, he couldn’t begin to come to terms with the idea. Death was difficult enough without having to contemplate.... that.
Cybermen were going straight to the top of his personal hate-list. He’d waited so long - so fucking long
- and now she’d been stolen from him, just when he could almost touch freedom again. He’d died
Unbidden he recalled another golden girl, not as innocent but certainly as brave - another one who’d danced with him as he pretended to be more than he was.
Where was she now? Was she
still alive? Her weapons would have been useless against the steel...
With sudden urgency (although he knew it was a survival instinct, turning to those who might be saved when others were lost) he looked through his desk drawers until he found his Immortal mobile. A swift battery change later and he was pulling on his coat, slipping the phone into his pocket as he headed for the invisible lift.
“Going out,” he said, Tosh giving him an absent smile, absorbed as she was in her work. Owen (still
on his coffee break) opened his mouth to ask for something, and then closed it again when seeing Jack’s face. The man apparently did
have a spark of self-preservation - who’d have thought. Suzie didn’t even look up.
Emerging onto the Plass, Jack barely noticed the grey sky and low hanging clouds over the Bay. Making his way out along the pier, he pulled out the phone, taking in a whole pile of missed calls and messages - all from Buffy.
What could they be? Anger at his deception? Or news? He wasn’t sure he could cope with bad news... much less happy ones.
And there was the whole Schrödinger’s Vampire situation to consider too. He’d avoided any contact - had resisted even the tiniest peek at anything related to her world - because that way he wouldn’t know for sure that her vampires were dust. Could fool himself into thinking that maybe one or other (or both? That might change her view on threesomes) had made it out alive, and that she was now happily settled in Slayer-vampire-y bliss...
didn’t want to know, which meant that conversation would be tricky. On the plus side he was good at talking.
Choosing the most recent call (it was a UK number - had she moved? Maybe... maybe she just travelled more these days) he pressed return and lifted the phone to his ear, waiting.
After a few rings - result.
There was the tiniest pause, then he heard a tentatively hopeful “Immortal?”, and closed his eyes in relief. She was OK.
“Yes, it’s me. Buffy-”
“Where are you? What have you been doing? What-”
“Buffy! Please... just...”
He stopped and swallowed, unable to rid himself of the image of the ruin that had once been Torchwood One.
“...tell me about heaven?”
There was another pause, then softly...
“Did you lose someone?”
Relief at her instinctive understanding flooded through him in waves. He’d missed that so
“Yes,” he whispered, tears finally burning behind his eyelids.
“I’m sorry,” Buffy said, somewhat helplessly, because there was never anything that could be said at times like these.
“Thank you,” he replied - then realised that maybe this
was why he’d called.
“No really. Not just for this, for... for everything. Not just all the fun parts. But... for showing me that there are people out there who can do this job without compromises - who can come out whole.”
(Unlike himself or his brilliant, but hopelessly damaged, team.)
For what seemed like the millionth time he wished that things were different. Or more precisely that he
was different. That he had anything to offer someone like her...
Which of course he didn’t.
“Immortal-” she began, but he cut her off.
“Buffy, can you promise me something?”
He could quite clearly picture the unsure frown on her face.
“Um, sure. What?”
. You’ve done more than your share, get out before it takes everything away. You can’t trust the future to provide, live now
. Oh, and don’t die again until you’re old and grey and surrounded by cute grandchildren. Please? For me?”
Before she could respond he ended the call. ***London, the new Council.
The sudden disconnect made Buffy pull the phone away from her ear and stare at it, waiting for a moment to see if he’d call back, then tried to return the call - neither approach getting any results.
Of ‘Unexpected Calls Out Of The Blue’ this one came pretty high on the list. Although when seeing who the caller was, she’d half expected a cheeky: “So tell me, Princess, what are you wearing?”
But no such luck.
Looking up she saw Dawn studying her, with ‘Go on - tell!’
written all over her face.
“Um... that was The Immortal,” she said, and Dawn looked impatient.
“I got that. And...?”
“I... don’t know. He sounded...” She turned the phone over in her hands.
“Well if it was anyone else, I’d have said they sounded suicidal. But with him...” she sighed.
“He lost someone he loves, but obviously he can’t actually talk
about it, because that would mean opening up
to someone, instead of curling up into a ball of broody angst. And OK, I’ve been there, done that, but I got over it, y’know? What is
it with men - especially the immortal variety - that they can’t see that sharing helps
Dawn shrugged her slim shoulders. “I don’t think they can help it. They haven’t got logical minds.”
Trying to suppress a smile, Buffy shook her head.
“You are wise beyond your years.”
“Pft! Once you’ve got a few millennia of being a shiny ball of energy under your belt, life is pretty straightforward. Seriously, he didn’t say anything?”
“No... If only I could speak to him face to face - sometimes he slips up and says more than he means to.”
“We could try a locator spell... again...” Dawn said uncertainly, and Buffy sighed.
“Because we haven’t set enough maps on fire yet. No, there’s no point. I... guess I’ll just have to leave him to it, whatever it
is. And anyway...” she smiled wryly, “it’s not like I haven’t got my hands full already!”
Then one of the secretaries opened the door, inquiring after Dawn’s latest translation, and her little sister’s attention was abruptly diverted.
Turning her eyes back to the phone, since that was the nearest thing she had to her elusive ex-lover, Buffy softly shook her head.
“Good luck, my Immortal. I hope one day you find what you need, whatever that might be.”***
After switching off the phone, Jack stood still for a moment. Then, before he could change his mind, he hurled it out into the Bay, watching it hit the water and then vanish, causing barely a ripple in the choppy water.
He wouldn’t need it again.
His waiting was nearly at an end, although his planned escape would no longer include the reunion he had most longed for. At least everything else was ready - he even had his own ‘Doctor-detector’ now. And Suzie had proven herself a more than capable leader - all he had to do was wait for that elusive blue box...
As he stood there the first few drops began to fall, the clouds finally fulfilling their promise, and he pulled the coat closer as the rain swiftly intensified.
It was cold and wet and dark. Yesterday, today, tomorrow - always the same. But Jack had long ago stopped hoping that it might kill him.The End
(Author's notes here