Title: Touching Blue

Author: Aeshna

Spoilers: only for Jack's length of service with the Institute.

Disclaimer: Not mine, no matter how many DVDs and toys I buy! Everything here belongs to RTD and to Auntie Beeb, who already has my licence fee.

A slightly expanded version of something I wrote for the latest bringthehappy" challenge, prompt "Torchwood; Jack; kite". This is something that I've actually wanted to play with for a while Jack has lived through some terrible times and done a lot of terrible things, but it hasn't been all bad... :) In case anybody is interested, Jack's toy is one of these.

Many thanks to Mimarie and Jwaneeta for looking this over for me. Feedback of any variety is very much appreciated but not compulsory I'll post anyway! I've suffered for my art, now it's your turn...

17th April 1910, near Tredogan

The wind was fresh with the fading chill of spring, bringing a flush of colour to Jack Harkness's cheeks as he strode across the sunlit field. An early lark sang somewhere nearby and the skies overhead were broad and blue and open, the intermittent rains of the past week relegated to memory and a lingering sheen of fine droplets that clung to the low grass and painted wet streaks across well-worn boot leather. A bee buzzed lazily past his ear, intent about its business, and everything was so desperately British, so effortlessly normal after the heat and the horrors of India...

But today wasn't normal. Today with his heart skipping every other beat, with hungry anticipation burning in his belly was anything but.

"You're absolutely sure about this, Jack?"

"Trust me, Gerry, I have never been more certain about anything in my life." Jack stopped and just gazed at the unlikely sight before him, fighting back the urge to laugh in pure, dizzy delight. "Besides, what's the worst that could happen to me?"

"Yes, well." Gerald Carter snorted softly, although he didn't look any less concerned. "You may have a point there."

Jack grinned and started forward again, fumbling with the fastenings of his leather jacket, never taking his eyes from the fragile machine that sat at the field's edge. He had waited half a lifetime for this and, if there was even one reason to be thankful for his strange immortality, it would be that he had lived long enough to reach this moment. So long, so long, and oh, how he had missed it...

There was nothing to the thing, really it was a toy, a kite, a delicate confection of wood and wire and rubberised cloth. Jack didn't know where it had come from or how his team leader had swung this for him although he suspected he would be repaying the favour for the next decade or three but in that moment he really didn't care. It would be brief, it would be basic, and he'd have to give it back immediately afterwards, but he didn't care.

All that mattered was that he was going to fly again.

He brushed aside Gerald's concerned questions yes, he knew the controls; no, really, this wasn't his first time aloft; hadn't they gone through all of this already? too caught up in examining every inch of the simple biplane's frame, running his hands over the polished wood of the pusher prop, testing the responsiveness of the wirework tendons. In his time he had flown everything from atmospheric fighters to deep-space freighters, from retrofitted timeships to cybernetically-slaved dragons; had taunted gravity in a hundred different ways. In just a few short years the world would be at war and machines such as this would evolve into weapons, ever faster, ever fiercer, but for now...

Now was an age of innocence, of novelty, of pushing unknown limits. Now was an age that celebrated eccentrics and explorers and daredevils.

Now was all that he had. And in this moment, tightening belts and buckles as he strapped himself in, he wouldn't have it any other way.

A nod to Gerald still looking concerned, although there was an air of genuine excitement about him now who took a hefty swing on the prop... and the engine spluttered into life at Jack's back, a throbbing, vibrating roar that he could feel in his bones, in the fierce rush of his blood. He pulled his goggles into place as the biplane bumped forward, trundling roughly over sheep-cropped grass, faster, faster, the wind snatching at his face, buffeting the cloth-clad wings as the craft skipped, fluttered

His visceral scream of triumph was lost in the rush as the world fell away and the lurching run gave way to the smooth transitions of flight. The controls were rough, almost painfully primitive, but they responded to his touch as finely as any lover, the muscle memories of decades past rising to the fore as if the intervening years had never happened. He could feel the thrumming pulse of the engine through the aircraft's frame, feel every dip, every subtle shift in air pressure, each breathless, delirious, dancing second of it all action and reaction, desire and motion, the machine an extension of self. The sun illuminated taut cloth, flashed off polished metal and varnished wood, and there was nowhere in the universe that he would rather be...

The world stretched out fresh and green below him, the sky open and beckoning and blue above. His flimsy craft all aglow in the sunlight, Jack laughed out loud for the pure, foolish joy of it all.

And flew.