Disclaimer: I don't own Torchwood and I am not making any profit from this work.
When Jack sleeps, he dreams of people. When he falls asleep, they come silently and quickly, like ghosts in a fog, crowding into his mind and surrounding him. They watch him silently, and they seem to be waiting. Some of them are smiling, some of them seem angry, and some of them are blank slates, like there's nothing behind their eyes at all.
He knows these people - knows every last one of them. And some he remembers, and some he doesn't. Some have faded into his mind as it struggles to cope with hundreds of years of memory, and eventually - inevitably - loses huge chunks of his life.
The frustrating part is that the people he wants to remember the most are the ones that he seems to have lost. Why does the man in the white coat with the face that resembles a weasel look so cocky? And why does Jack find that funny? Why does he ache when he wakes up if he dreamed of the tiny Eastern woman with the glasses, so always looks so anxious and controlled?
Why does it even matter?
He knows that these people are dead. Their clothes are archaic, their faces almost unfamiliar, and they don't crowd and jostle and touch like peopel today do. He doesn't understand them...but he finds comfort in their faces, even as those are fading as well.
Something is special about four of these people in particular. The Eastern lady, the weasel-faced man in white, the woman with the big round eyes that look both cute and frightening at the same time, and the tall man in the suit who sometimes fades away without Jack noticing that he's gone.
There is something different about them.
Jack has files, these days. Diaries and journals and pictures and videos. Reams and reams of information about people he didn't want to lose, but in the end, it became too much of a chore to drag through it all looking for specific people, and it's been lost to his carelessness anyway. Along with the names that went with the faces and the things that once, he probably swore never to forget.
He remembers vague things, things that he doesn't understand and must have been, somehow, important.
He remembers a room with a high ceiling and strange lights and sounds that bounced off the walls. He remembers faint laughter and voices in odd accents. He distinctly, clearly, remembers the weasel-faced man in white yelling at somebody to speak English, not the language of the sheep-shaggers, but Jack doesn't know what that means anymore either.
It's the man in the suit who changes, though. It's him that Jack's mind holds on to, deep down inside, even when Jack himself can't really recall him anymore. The suit is sometimes exchanged for even older clothing - blue trousers and loose, baggy tops with hoods that make the man look years younger. Sometimes, the lines on his face smooth and he is young and strong and his hair is completely dark again, the faint greys gone.
But he never grows old.
The suit-man, the Eastern lady, and the man in white don't grow old. The man in the suit acquires, sometimes, a few grey hairs, but never more. The woman with the big round eyes gets the greyest and the most worn, before she, too, stops.
Whenever Jack notices their youth, he feels sad, and he can't remember why.
He remembers ripping a tie in his hands, and the hardness of a warm shoulder under his fingertips, and being hit with a clipboard, and helping a drunken man home who was speaking something that Jack doesn't know now, and doesn't think that he even understood then. But the images are disconnected and vague.
When he dreams these faint, distant memories, the faces smile. Once, the man in white even laughed.
He can't hear them speak, because he doesn't remember how they sounded, but they act like they speak. The man in white has a swagger and a posture, showing off, and the man in the suit always rolls his eyes and moves away a little, as if he's avoiding them. The Eastern woman doesn't say much, but she smiles and fiddles with her hair, and the woman with the big round eyes moves around a lot.
And whenever he dreams of these faces, and their quiet owners, he smells a rich, familiar scent, that ghosts over his senses as if it's really there.
One night, he woke up from his dreams and called for coffee. He doesn't know what coffee is, and his research just tells him it's an old Earth drink made from a plant that no longer exists and probably made all the humans high.
But there's coffee in his dreams, and a silver tray to carry cups of coffee on, and a hissing from behind a door that he never opens.
Something sacred is behind that door.
In his dreams, and in his waking hours, he doesn't open the door. He locks the smell of coffee in his mind, and hopes he won't lose that final piece of familiar information.
The dreams faces fade away.
When they are blurred and distorted, and upsetting to see again, Jack stops sleeping.
Somehow, he thinks that maybe he didn't sleep before. Somehow, he thinks that he didn't dream before.