Yes, it's been FOREVER since I've posted anything and yes, I have other stories that I need to finish. But this was a special request that I've been meaning to get to…and okay, I wanted to be able to do a one-off chapter because I'm so insanely busy lately.
Visit my website between December 16-December 18 for details on a super cool Blog Hop giveaway I'm taking part in. Up for grabs are prizes from 195 authors (romance), many of us who write m/m. I'm giving away a signed copy of my debut novel, Heart's Home, and a victorian insprired tree ornament (Heart's Home is set in Victorian England, and is pretty much what you would expect from me, just a little "hotter" than you'd see here-and the awesome editing team at Dreamspinner Press has beaten my punctuation into shape!) My website is Helenpattskyn dot com.
Also, please, pretty please consider joining me for an online chat to celebrate the release of Heart's Home (but really, I'll talk about anything you want to!) on Christmas Eve Day (December 24), from 1-6pm Eastern Standard Time (here in the U.S.) I'll be camped out in front of my laptop, at my in-law's and would REALLY love the cyber company! If you stop by and say "hello", you'll totally make my day. More details at my website, but again the quick and dirty of it is that you need to sign up at Goodreads (goodreads dot com), and join the Dreamspinner Press group. (Dreamspinner is my publisher—and they are awesome. Seriously, anyone who likes steamy m/m action needs to check them out.)
I hope everybody has seen/remembers the Doctor Who episode: Gridlock.
Everything Has its Time
"Be glad today. Tomorrow may bring tears. Be brave today. The darkest night will pass. And golden rays will usher in the dawn."
Sarah Knowles Bolton
The air felt… cool. How long had it been since he'd felt the wind? The sun? Any sun.
Only there was no sun, for he was behind closed doors. No wind blew. The air smelled of… death. Always death.
Always other people's deaths.
But not this time. This time it would be his own, death. A final death.
And he was afraid. He'd come to understand—to believe—that something lay beyond the darkness, but… what if that something was only for other people? What if the only thing waiting for him was… nothing.
Empty blackness. What if that was the tradeoff for immortality, for being a fixed point in time? What if—
As if sensing his fear—or perhaps understand that his death was at hand—Novice Hame touched him. It felt so good to be touched. To feel. To breathe.
"Doctor?" a voice from the past, the far, far distant past, called out to the Time Lord kneeling next to him. He couldn't remember the woman's name…Manda… Mary… Martha.
Only he hadn't met her yet. Or rather, she hadn't met him.
Topsy turvy, timey wimey. He almost smiled.
"Over here," the Doctor called her over.
The slender Black woman rounded the corner. "Doctor! What happened out there?" Her smile faltered when she saw him. "What's that?"
What indeed? A giant head? Oh, if she only knew. What a field day she would have teasing him about his ego. He missed… damn. He missed her.
Martha was a part of Torchwood. His Torchwood.
Bobby… Mickey Mouse… Abbey…Sara… names without faces in his memory.
Ianto. His beautiful Welshman.
Their daughter, Seren.
Ahh, the trouble she would cause the Doctor someday when she travelled with him!
But Martha didn't know any of those people yet. She didn't know him. He had to remember… where were the Doctor and Martha in their timeline?
"It's the Face of Boe," the Time Lord told his companion. "It's all right. Come say hello. And this is Hame. She's a cat. Don't worry."
Martha looked dubious. She must have just met the Doctor then; she didn't seem quite comfortable around aliens. Oh the things she would see in her future…
The Doctor went on, "He's the one who saved you, not me."
The pronouncement made Martha only marginally more comfortable.
It's good to see you again, to put a face to your name.
It wasn't the only face, the only name he had for her. Another time, another life, she'd been called something else… Roberta, he thought it might have been.
It was a name inexorably intertwined with the name Kam Anders.
"My lord gave his life to save the city," said Hame. "And now he's dying"
"No, don't say that, plenty of life left," the Doctor argued, his voice thick with grief, even though he didn't know the whole of it, didn't know that someday he would be the best man at a wedding, or help a nervous couple get to a time and place where they could have a child… that one of the last acts of this regeneration would be to break a desperate Captain out of detention and get him back to his family when it seemed as if he would never see them again.
"Who is he?" Martha asked.
The Doctor shrugged. "I don't even know. The legend says the Face of Boe has lived for billions of years. Isn't that right? And you're not about to give up now."
"Everything has it's time. You know that old friend, better than most."
"The legend says more," Hame reminded the Doctor. The Face of Boe smiled. Hame was a smart girl. She understood what the stories meant.
"Don't," the Doctor warned. "There's no need for that."
Smart and stubborn, Hame continued, heedless of the Time Lord's protests. "It says that the Face of Boe will speak his final secret to a traveller."
"Yeah, but not yet. Who needs secrets, eh?"
He turned his gaze to his friend's face. He wished he could say more, but… Spoilers. Ahhh yes. Spoilers.
Or more to the point, no spoilers.
He couldn't alter the past. His past. Another's future. He knew the warning would be understood too late, but there were some things that simply had to unfold. "I have seen so much. Perhaps too much," he told the Time Lord. "I am the last of my kind. As you are the last of yours, Doctor."
"That's why we have to survive, both of us. Don't go," the Doctor pleaded.
He understood what wasn't said: don't leave me all alone. Alone was something he knew all too well… but he had used up the last of his life force to save the city, the people down below. It had taken… everything. He met the Doctor's gaze dead on. "I must. But know this Time Lord: you are not alone." Please try to understand… he closed his eyes, welcoming the darkness.
Fearing what he would find.
Crossing over into… emptiness.
It felt… cold.
He was alone.
He could feel… his body. His old body.
A pair of rings hung on a chain around his neck. In the real world, the living world, the rings were long gone, gone to dust just like the bones of every one he'd ever know. Ever loved. Here, in the dark, he clutched onto them, onto the memories of a past he never wanted to forget.
I will always love you.
I will never forget you.
"Don't forget to empty the bins."
Jack's eyes snapped open.
Faces in the dark… a sweet blond boy with brown eyes and tattooed wrists… a red head welcoming him in at two o'clock in the morning… a tall dark haired man serving him coffee and pineapple danishes… so many others… but finally… one face. Grey blue eyes.
"A red UNIT cap," he whispered.
"A suit." The other countered, stepping closer.
"All two of them," he teased, laughing.
Jack smiled. "Chocolate chip cookies."
"A perfect cup of coffee—if I do say so myself."
Jack's grin became a lascivious smirk. "That stopwatch."
"Lots of things you can do with a stopwatch. Sir."
"Oh yeah." They were so close, they were almost touching.
"Pineapples—and whipped cream." His Welshman drew him into his arms.
"And whipped cream," Jack echoed, just before pressing a searing kiss to his husband's lips.
"The dawn is not distant, nor is the night starless; love is eternal."
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow