First off a HUGE thank you to Sidlerocks for the fantastic job on Cavatina!
I've been on a bit of a hiatus the past couple of months… but if the last few weeks are any indication, the Muses seem to be back to work. And yes, that means I'm going to finish up those unfinished pieces, do some work on Short Stories and maybe even write the story that's been alluded to, where Jack finds the box in the first place – with a little help from John. I have just a few weeks left of school, then I'm off for the summer…
Ok, so where to start… I'm not 100% sure where this is going, hence the rather unimaginative title. I *do* have a decent chunk written, a fairly good idea where I'm going to end it and some idea of the things I want to see happen in between. Julian Kyle, the box… more of the crew… hopefully an appearance by our favourite Time Lord. I'm keeping the M rating to err on the side of caution. Expect some drama, some romance, a little angst… the usual mix. As always, reviews fuel the writer's soul. :-)
"It is not the experience of today that drives us mad; it is remorse or bitterness for something which happened yesterday and the dread of what tomorrow may bring"
An Cho accepted her pay envelope without saying thank you; she'd earned it, after all. And it wasn't as if she wasn't grateful. For all that she felt trepidation about working for a man like Jack Harkness, she knew that her job on the Welshman was better than she deserved. But if you started thanking people – especially people in authority – they'd think you owed them more than you did. All she owed Harkness was her best on the bridge and the requisite loyalty her pay earned him.
The haul from the Janus and Hestia had been sold off while they were away from the Station and although their initial liberty was up, the Captain had decided to pay them before heading back out again. An presumed his timing was no accident. Giving a raggedy bunch of spacers too much money and too much time to spend it in would probably have led to worse than the bar fight she'd gotten into the last time they were docked at Omega Station. Since they were back on regular shifts, their time away from the ship was limited; in fact, Harkness was strictly regulating 'shore leave' because there was so much traffic in and out of the station just now.
An didn't mind. She would willingly give up her shore leave to anybody who wanted it. There was nothing for her on Omega.
She glanced only briefly through the crumpled old bills in her envelope. Giving it too much scrutiny would be construed as an insult, but she had learned a long time ago never to leave the pay-master's office without being certain she hadn't been shorted. The same was doubly true when the 'pay-master' happened to be the captain of the ship – even if deep down she didn't expect this particular captain to short change her. But An knew better than to trust anyone… and Jack Harkness… why was she even considering trusting him, she wondered.
"Something the matter with my accounting skills, Ms Cho?" Harkness queried in a casually – cautiously – neutral tone. He slid his hands into his pockets, eyeing her almost as if he was daring her to point out the error she had just noticed.
An dropped her gaze further away from his face, feeling increasingly uncomfortable. She didn't want to come under Harkness' scrutiny any more than was necessary, only here she was, with him staring at her with those cold blue eyes of his.
"N-no," she started to say… but then stopped. "That is…" she hesitated again, clearing her throat. She tried to collect her thoughts. It wasn't some nagging sense of integrity that was making her speak up, or so she tried to tell herself.
Why should she be honest with someone like Captain Jack Harkness, anyway? He was the kind of man who thought nothing of buying (and no doubt eventually selling) the company of another human being, a boy half his age no less. If he made a mistake in her favour, she shouldn't point it out, she should just take her pay and go. It's what anyone else in her position would do.
But he's also the kind of man who bailed the lot of us out of the brig for that stupid bar brawl with nothing more than 'Well kids, you ready to go home?'
There had been no glowering remarks, no admonishments – well, none that could be taken seriously, anyway. He'd actually said he wished he'd been there! Then he proceeded to half heartedly tear a strip off them for disorderly conduct and brawling in public. Never once, however, did he say that he should have left them in the detention centre to rot or threaten them with docking their pay for his trouble. He just paid the fine, signed the paperwork and herded them back to the main area of the Station, suggesting that they steer clear of those 'yahoos' from the Mining Corp. from now on.
Then with a friendly pat on Garrison's back, Harkness had left them to enjoy the rest of their liberty… which was cut short, but that had nothing to do with the fight in the bar, that had to do with… something. An still wasn't sure what to make of that situation.
She sighed. It didn't really matter what kind of man he was, or what kinds of secrets he was harbouring, she knew the kind of woman she was. The kind of woman she wanted to be.
"I think you made a mistake, Sir." An handed the envelope back to him, before she lost what little nerve she had left. She only hoped that the fact that she was willing to point out an error in her favour would outweigh his ire at being contradicted. "I'm sure you just had a lot on your mind is all, Sir," she added hastily to his deepening scowl. She wondered if she had miscalculated in telling him he'd overpaid her.
Jack accepted the envelope from her outstretched hand; he had counted out everyone's cut himself. He knew there wasn't a mistake. But to appease her – and that nagging little voice in the back of his head which for reasons that escaped him spoke with beautiful Welsh vowels, telling him that it was better to double check it than brush it off – he recounted the bills in the communications specialist's envelope. By his reckoning, everything was in order.
"Would you care to elaborate on my mistake?" he asked, making every effort to keep his tone neutral.
"I… Sir… with all due respect, I believe you've miscounted," she stammered, obviously frustrated and uncertain how to be any more clear, clearly regretting having said anything in the first place.
Jack pulled up her contract on the compute terminal in front of him. He swivelled the monitor around and handed her back the envelope. "Your original contract," he nodded at the screen; she nodded as well. Good, at least it didn't look as if she was disputing her contract. That was a good start. "Plus three percent – the two you agreed to when you signed on, long term," he glanced at her again. No it didn't seem as if she was changing her mind. Thankfully. She was replaceable, but she as a damned fine specialist. He would let her go in a heartbeat if it was over Kam, but anything else he wanted to understand and have a chance to correct.
He continued, in a patient tone: "And the one percent I threw in for indulging my little junket to Pieri – minus the pay out Mr. Smeed distributed on our first day here."
He and Smeed had agreed that it wouldn't be wise to pay the crew in full before giving them twenty four hours liberty. There was entirely too much trouble they could get into if they had that much money in their pockets. But they had earned a small pay out, certainly. Most of the crew was likely completely broke by the time they had got back to Omega Station for the second time.
An's gaze shifted from the screen – where all of the umbers were in order except for one detail – up to his face, trying to read what she saw there. She reminded herself that this was the same man who had allegedly killed two men on Omega a few months ago. He'd never been charged, but as near as she could tell it was common knowledge that he'd done it.
She cleared her throat. "Captain, when we were on Omega before and I got into that...altercation...with the others in that bar, you had to bail us out, Sir."
At the time it had felt good to be a part of that… a part of something, anything… she hadn't even stopped to think about what would happen after they got arrested (and they would get arrested.) At time, however, it had seemed worth it.
It still did. She still had her job. She had a home, such as it was… she hated so much about the Welshman's Captain, but she couldn't deny that he treated his crew fairly.
However, he should have deducted the cost of her bail from her pay, plus some, for his trouble. That's what any other captain would do, it was considered fair practice. Heck, most captains would have left them there for the remainder of their liberty as punishment for getting into a fight in the first place. Any other captain would certainly have done more than half-heartedly lay into them about it. They should have had a multitude of unpleasant tasks awaiting them back on the Welshman.
Which was why Harkness' smile surprised her. "Like I said, by my reckoning, it's all there."
An blinked. "Sir?" she couldn't help herself but ask.
"I count bailing my crew out of the brig now and then as part of the cost of doing business, Ms Cho. Just so long as it wasn't my guys who threw the first punch," he shot a wink in her direction. "Although remind me never to stand in front of you if you've got a beer stein in your hand," he teased. "I hear you're pretty handy with one of those things."
An ducked her head, embarrassed. Clocking some jerk in a bar was one thing, but hitting a ship's captain, any ship's captain, was a corporal offense!
But Harkness was still smiling. He slid his hands back into his pockets. "Station security told me it wasn't you guys who started it," he assured her in an easy tone. That fact only seemed to surprise her more. He waggled his eyebrows, "Gotta love a man in a uniform, Ms Cho. Now… if there's nothing else…?" he had a very handsome young man who would hopefully be wearing nothing at all, waiting for him back in their cabin.
Cho blushed, but took her leave of him. She had almost started to feel some measure of… something, something good (if not warmth, respect perhaps)… before he had made it clear why Station security had gone to find him so quickly. It had puzzled her at the time, Security had no vested interest in getting someone out of the brig quickly. But clearly he was on more than a first name basis with some of the guards.
So why did he have to buy the attention of his own private cyprian? she wondered, not for the first time. It seemed as if Harkness could have just about anybody he wanted… but maybe that was it. Maybe he was so used to getting what he wanted that he didn't think twice about buying a person's life… and what does that say about the value he places on human life? She mused bitterly.
Of course she also knew she didn't have a whole lot of latitude to talk. She had done to her own son exactly what she suspected Mr Anders' parents had done to him. And just like Anders, he ended up belonging to a man like Harkness… a part of her secretly hoped that it was someone like Harkness.
She had never seen a bruise on Mr Anders, and while she knew that bruises could be concealed beneath clothing, the way the boy acted towards the Captain, like a devoted pup, suggested that Harkness probably treated him the same way in private as she'd seen him treating the boy in public. But she was sure that eventually Anders would be too old for him... or that the Captain would just get bored. But maybe that didn't necessarily mean he would sell Anders off to some labour camp… or worse… he seemed fair. Maybe he would let Anders buy his way out of his contract, some day.
Oblivious to An's dark musings, Jack locked up his office and headed towards his cabin. She had been the last crewman he had to pay before he could take some well deserved time off.
He hummed quietly as he made his way down the corridor… his ship. His Bonny Welshman… he smiled. He didn't know the name of the tune he was humming, although he was sure he had at one time. All he knew was that he had three full hours before he was due to meet with Julian Kyle. He intended to use that time wisely, doing everything in his power to make his lover squirm, giggle and moan… probably in that order, too… he smirked.