Title: Matters of Illusion
Author/Artist: entercreativename (aka: azmatazz, arizonamyrie)
Prompt: 27 – ENB meet Jack Harkness. For some strange reason, he doesn't massively hit on her.
Characters/Pairings: Evil Nurse Brenda, Jack Harkness
Rating: PG-13 cause it's Jack. You can't have a PG or G version of him, that's just wrong.
Warnings: mild sexual innuendo – cause it's Jack.
Disclaimer: I don't own House, or the other show from whence this fic came. And I'm just a poor music teacher turned nursing student. Suingdon't
Beta: The fantabulous girlofsoccer (aka: Hail the Random)
Summary: A relative from Brenda's past turns up to help her out. Written for the ENBFest at LiveJournal
She remembers a golden light. Golden light floating around her, surrounding her, enveloping her and then crushing her life into one moment, a moment that spanned across all of eternity but was over in the briefest of seconds. It was as if she had broken all the laws of contemporary physics. She had become a fact, a set point in time and space. That's when it all started. That's when it all ended.
Brenda sat at the table in the library, the cool oak table glistened in the reflection of the setting sun. The same sun she had seen all her life, but somehow, the historical value of her surroundings made it seem older, wiser. She felt as if she had lived this life before, known all the lines, known all the actions to the script held by someone cleverer than her. Not that she wasn't clever, she always had been, but today felt repetitious. Not only did it feel the same, but it was the same.
She opened another book, scanning the index for a glimmer of hope for information on the subject of her research. It had taken her long enough to get to this point in her life. Where she had once settled for familiarity, and where she still wished she could do so, she now settled for anything to keep her secret from being discovered. She had to keep it hidden at any cost, even if that cost was too painful to bear. No, she couldn't give up again. Lord knows she once tried. She tried many times, and failed in all of her attempts. The one final act promised to all she failed at. Figured.
But she was getting distracted from her work, which seemed all too common these days. Brenda looked back at the stack of books in front of her. She was getting odd glances from the many students scattered about the library. Too many books. No one used the old collections anymore, not since the library had gone digital far too long ago to remember. The books were merely kept for the sake of having books, much like a family heirloom is kept long after the original owner has passed away. Why hadn't she switched to the laptops that everyone else was using now? Why did she still insist on doing the research the old way?
Brenda sighed as she sat back in the chair, closing her eyes and taking in the atmosphere of the room around her. A room that had once smelled of aging paper and the hint of varnish, but had now taken a warm silicon scent, the scent of computers; a scent that had become all too familiar to her in this life. Picking up the stack of books to return to the librarian, she heard a familiar voice.
"You're not still using those things?" the man said from across the entryway, the breeze coming in from the doors and blowing his WWI era coat around his knees. Brenda handed the books across to the young student sitting behind the desk and glanced to where the voice had come from, trying not to draw further attention to herself. "I'm how much older than you and even I've adapted to these new systems!" A couple of young women walking past the man gave him a second glance over their shoulders; he turned and winked back at them. Brenda rolled her eyes and pulled her bag closer over her shoulder, trying to find a way to escape from the man trying to catch her attention.
She started to walk to the first floor stacks, but the man caught up to her. "Look, I don't want any trouble!" he said as he held his hand on her shoulder.
"You should have thought of that earlier, Jack Harkness, before you got me fired from PPTH."
"That was ages ago!" Jack said, releasing her from his grip. "I didn't know that House was actually going to release those squirrels in the clinic. Or the hospital for that matter."
"What did you think he was going to do? Name them after Disney princesses and play dress-up?" A few of the patrons glared at Brenda from behind their computer screens, her voice having interrupted them.
Jack pulled Brenda to a secluded alcove, away from glaring eyes. "You know just as well as I do that those squirrels were the only way to contain the threat."
"It's always about that damned Torchwood!"
"Hey, don't knock it, it's gotten you many the divorce settlement over the years."
Brenda crossed her arms as she leaned back against the wall, still refusing to look Jack in the eye. "Why are you here?" she asked, settling into the inevitable list of excuses that Loverboy always read off to her when he came back begging.
"There's a problem."
"I'll say. I'm arguing with my ex-husband in the middle of a university library."
"It hasn't stopped you yet."
"I'll tell you Jack Hark-- hrmmph!" Jack grabbed Brenda's face to kiss her as she shrieked into his mouth and hit his shoulders with her fists, trying to get away from the man. "Hrmmph!!" she screamed again, this time earning a stern look from the librarian. Her bag slid off her shoulder and hit the floor, a few books and pens scattering across the hard marble as she tried yet again to push Jack Harkness off of her.
"Well that always used to shut you up in the past."
Brenda dropped to the floor to pick up the scattered books and pens. Her eyes darted up at Jack, a furious rage burning behind them. "It only worked before the fourth divorce. After then I got smart."
"It took you that long?" Jack chuckled and wiped a spot of Brenda's saliva off his cheek. Brenda only stared back at him. "Or is that because you just can't stay away from me?"
"More like keep you away. What do you want this time Jack Harkness? Or should I still call you Jack Hardness as that's what it always seems to be."
"Ohh, touchy today, aren't we?"
"Your beanstalk will be the death of you. And besides, you haven't been up for over thirty-six hours straight researching a paper on Alzheimer's Disease."
"That's what I smell."
"Jack!" Brenda threw a light punch at his shoulder, but he was too fast to be caught by her lethargic arm.
"Okay. It's about that day in the clinic." Jack looked down, drawing Brenda's attention away from his eyes for the moment. "The day we first met. Please don't be mad!" He added as fast as he could to soften the blow of Brenda's oncoming storm.
"The day you Retconned my boss, making her forget that it was you and House who set those squirrels loose, and not me?"
Jack sighed. "Yes, that day. I can explain. Really I can!"
Brenda crossed her arms yet again and looked up at Jack. "You have my attention."
"Remember the sudden outbreak of rashes in the Princeton area that week? Well, that's why I brought those squirrels. They weren't really normal squirrels; they were specifically attracted to the breed of mite that had been biting the area residents. Release the squirrels, catch the mite - alien threat detained."
Brenda looked up at Jack, "And how do I know you're telling the truth? How can I confirm this fact? All of this is long since gone, all my friends have long since died. We attended their funerals, you and I mourned at their graves. It's just us now."
"And Torchwood record."
"And hospital chart."
"Which can be faked. We do it all the time. I'd Retcon you but it obviously didn't work the first time."
Brenda sighed. "Jack, you and your Retcon cost me my job. You somehow convinced me to sleep with you, which led to this condition, which then led to me marrying you. Six times. What do you have now that you haven't already given me?"
Jack smiled and pulled a large envelope out of his coat pocket. "This," he said as he held it out in front of her.
"If you're asking me out on another date, it's not gonna work," Brenda said as she eyed the envelope.
"Not a date. An apology. I'm sorry for everything I've put you through. I'm sorry I've changed you. And I'm sorry that you'll be stuck with me to the end of the universe and beyond. Our condition does that, and I know that it's the real reason you're here, not at some hospital working as a nurse, not as my companion running along behind me at Torchwood."
"If I ever see you before the end of the universe, it will be too soon," Brenda sighed.
"Then at least take this. It will come in handy." Jack handed Brenda the envelope, aged and worn, with an old 1914 Torchwood Institute stamp on it. "Take it, it is yours, after all. Just don't tell anyone how you got it. Paradox theory and all." Brenda took the envelope from Jack. He nodded his head towards the envelope. "Don't open it now."
Brenda looked down at the envelope, trying to figure out what was in it. She was still furious with Jack for all the treacheries he placed upon her over their failed relationships, but he always came running back to her, and she always gave in and ended up taking him back. Always. It didn't matter what excuse it was.
"Thank you then, I guess," Brenda said as she turned the envelope in her fingers. "What is it?"
"Really hon, it needs to wait."
"It's that toxic?"
"Nothing can kill you. Trust me, I've tried."
Brenda glared up at Jack, his smile beaming in her eyes. She smiled a little too. "Brenda, I know you've been involved in the research on aging. And I hope that envelope helps. What's the title of your article?"
"Intraganglia complexes of the delta and epsilon polyaminopurite casts and their effects on the aging complex."
"You can hardly imagine."
"May we never meet again, Brenda."
"Goodbye for now, Jack."
Brenda watched Jack walk out of the library as she held the envelope just under her nose, smelling a hint of his aftershave still lingering on it. There was a day and time where their argument would have ended with her waking up in a cheap motel room, but they had outgrown that over seventy years earlier. She smiled as she tugged her sweater closer to her body, the envelope holding the acrylic taught against itself as she darted across campus to her office. When she was safe within the confines of her version of academia, she took a closer look at the envelope marked "Torchwood, Deliver to Brenda Previn" on the front along with the date of December 15, 1914.
"He's held it for two hundred years?" Brenda asked aloud, reaching into her desk for a letter opener. She tore the envelope open and a copy of the June 2116 Neurology Today, her polyaminopurite article featured on the cover slid out of it, along with a Torchwood file folder marked Princeton, New Jersey, USA – 5 April 2010 – the day she first met Jack. She smiled and opened the folder when torn piece of paper from a Jack's diary fell to the floor.
Last night I made love to Brenda for the first time, but something happened, something I fear that may have changed her life for all eternity. As I bed her, a golden light enveloped us, wrapped around us as if the Bad Wolf herself had returned, bringing me back to life for my first resurrection. Brenda has now been changed. She will live forevermore.