Title : The Wanderer - Chapter 1 : So long ago...
Summary: At the far end of the universe, Jack has an interesting encounter with a too perfect woman and finds unexpected help to keep his promise. (Spoilers for Children of Earth)
Rating: All Ages
Characters: Ianto Jones, Jack Harkness, Original Character.
Genres: General, Introspection
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Author's Notes: It occurred to me that I have spent all my spare time during the last three weeks trying to do something decent with the third chapter of it, without even knowing if it's worth it. Indeed, I've already posted it at Teaspoon and an Open Mind, but never get any comment, apart from teleen and welsh_scotsman who had the kindness to beta read.
I wrote the French version of this story on August 2009, as an outlet for my feelings after Ianto's death. The first chapter is a little bit sad, but there will be some improvement and a happy end, though this is not a fix fic.
Comments and reviews are highly welcome.
Chapter 1: So long ago...
Memories were very strange things, thought Jack.
He'd forgotten so many things throughout his long life.
He was unable to remember the sound of his father's voice or the colour of his mother's eyes. The face of his first wife was now just a fuzzy image and sometimes it was even hard to remember Rose's smile.
So many memories faded away whereas some others were still printed vividly in his mind.
- - - - - - - - - - - - -
He went to the funeral. It was a discreet ceremony in a little graveyard in Grangetown. It was only attended by the family and a few friends. He could see Gwen and Rhys huddling together and Ianto's sister sobbing against her husband's shoulder while he stroked her arm gently to comfort her.
He stayed in the background, hidden behind a tomb and unable to take his eyes off of the coffin.
He listened to the priest's sermon about the eternal life and the immortality of the soul. He heard him claim that Ianto had left them for a better world.
If it could give some comfort to Ianto's sister and friends, good for them. Thanks, but no thanks. Jack knew that there was nothing after death. Just cold, darkness and nothingness. There was no salvation, no light at the end of the tunnel and definitely no smiling loved ones waiting for you. He'd learnt from experience long ago.
He left before the end without turning around. Seeing the coffin disappearing down the hole and the body he had so often held in his arms being buried under the cold ground was too much for him.
He hailed a taxi and rode to Ianto's flat, but once in front of the building he hesitated and nearly turned back. He'd had a vivid memory of himself right here, almost one year before, waiting for him before their first official date and looking at his shadowy figure outlined against the window.
He took a deep breath, trying to suppress the tears burning in his eyes, before quickly walking in the building and bounding up the stairs.
The seals were still on the broken door. Jack tore them off and pushed open the door.
His heart wrung in his chest when he saw the destroyed inside of the flat. The cupboards had been completely emptied and their contents scattered on the floor. The ripped cushions spilled their stuffing on the carpet. The bookcase had been carefully inspected and the books, ordinarily so neatly arranged, were strewn across the floor.
He crossed the living room like a sleepwalker towards the bedroom, where he found the same indescribable mess. He stood for a long time ; frozen in the middle of the room, his eyes wandering aimlessly from the unmade bed to the open chest of drawers, to the fragments of the shattered lamp on the floor, and back again to the bed.
It was an insult, the last offence to Ianto's memory, to everything he had been.
Jack felt a terrible anger overwhelming him, burning inside him like an all-consuming fire. Anger against Johnson, against Brian Green, against Frobisher and the 456. But mostly against himself.
His eyes came across a heap of clothes in front of the wardrobe. All Ianto's suits were torn apart, the linings torn out.
It was too much. He collapsed on the bed, his body shaking. He buried his face in a pillow and, for the first time since Steven died, let the tears flow in an endless torrent, flooding the sheets where they'd made love for the last time.
He never knew how long it was. Ages at least.
Even when the tears dried up, he stayed still for a long time, his mind blank and his body worn out, staring through the window at the slow swaying of the trees.
Eventually, he proceeded to stand up painfully.
He headed towards the door, but once at the threshold, he stopped, his hand on the handle. He turned back and knelt in front of the jumble of books and papers scattered on the lounge's floor. He'd carefully lifted some volumes until he found what he was looking for. Then he slipped it into his pocket.
He was about to leave, when his gaze was caught by a square of black paper standing out against the light carpet. He bent down and picked it up. He had great difficulty getting back up again. He felt as if the weight of the whole universe had crashed down on his shoulders.
He stroked the piece of paper softly, before slipping it into his coat.
Jack left the flat for the last time, feeling incredibly old and weary.
- - - - - - - - - - - - -
It had happened so long ago.
Nearly eight hundred and eighty years after, Jack was sitting in a bar in an interstellar station one hundred and seventeen thousand light years away from Earth and yet for him it still felt like it had happened yesterday.
to be continued