Look Back Once, and Then Ahead

"Jack, are you alright?" Gwen asked. It was late one cold winter's evening when she came to stand on the threshold of the Captain's office after an uncommonly uneventful day.

Outside the city skies continued to subject the Cardiff residents to a heavy downpour of torrential rain, a steady stream of rainwater flooding into the Hub via the towering waterfall above.

The miserable weather outside appropriately reflected the oppressive atmosphere within, a concerned Gwen thought as she'd approached Jack's office, and quietly knocked upon the door, before deciding to turn in for the evening. Having received no response she'd entered cautiously, just in time to witness as the Captain hastily replaced something in his top desk draw.

Jack immediately looked up, meeting Gwen's concerned gaze across the room, but not in time to conceal from the young woman what it was he'd been occupied with before she'd entered the room. She recognised the photo immediately – the last photograph of the whole team together, before their world had been turned upside down.

Gwen sighed. Never before had she seen Jack Harkness looking so tired and pale.

"It's been months now Jack… talk to us, please."

Jack looked at her, and smiled.

"Gwen Cooper, always the compassionate one, always concerning yourself with everybody else's feelings, everybody else's problems… it's why I hired you… I sensed there and then that you were something special."

"We know you're hurting Jack, why won't you just let us help you? You're always there for us!"

"I've lived for so long, loved so many people, sooner or later I lose them all one way or another… you learn to deal with it, learn to cope. I will not burden you with that!"

"But we don't mind Jack!"

"I do!" He snapped, before seeming to soften slightly as he noticed the look on Gwen's face. "You off home now?" He asked her.

She looked at him, unconvinced. "Well, it's not as though there should be very much more for me to do tonight, and I promised Rhys, if I could get away. He's cooking dinner… which probably means the take away pizza will be cooling on the table by now."

Jack laughed at this – at least that was something she thought. She still wasn't convinced that he really was alright, but it reassured her a little to see him smile.

"That is unless you want me to do anything else?"

He shook his head. "You go home Gwen Cooper, spend the evening with Rhys, eat pizza, watch television. Enjoy a normal life, just for tonight."

She smiled. "Are you sure?"

He nodded. "You deserve it."

She looked at him – he seemed so far away, his eyes so full of pain and she made no attempt to leave.

"Are you sure you're alright Jack?" She asked uncertainly, but he fixed her with a steely, determined gaze.

"Go home Gwen Cooper." He smiled, and she realised that she was beaten – there could be no reasoning with Jack, once he'd made his mind up about something it could be very difficult to change. He'd talk to them in his own time, when he was ready, and so she nodded, bidding him goodnight, before promptly exiting from the room – leaving him to his own private thoughts.

Hearing her footsteps descend the stairs outside his office Captain Jack got to his feet and looked down, surveying the Hub below him. They said that time was supposed to be a great healer of pain, but the truth was that for Jack it just got harder to say goodbye to those he loved – those he knew he would ultimately outlive. It hurt knowing that he would carry on for an eternity.

He would never forget any of them, not Tosh, not Owen, not Grey, not even Suzie, they would all always hold a special place in his heart – but Jack had realised a long time ago that the only way for him to survive had been to push forward, and to do his best to carry on.

He watched Gwen say goodnight to Ianto on her way out and he smiled – watching the young Welshman busying himself at his work station as she left.

His Ianto…

'and at that moment the future looked very bright indeed.'

He smiled. Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten