Title: Beautiful Madness
Beta: Thanks to my good friend Seattlecsifan for the quick beta on this - it's much appreciated.
Spoiler: CoE and Doctor Who ("Gridlock")
Disclaimer: I do not own either Torchwood or Doctor Who. I'm just borrowing the characters.
Author's Note: I was rather nervous about writing this, and appreciate constructive criticism on anything I write. I hope you enjoy…
X X X
I made a promise so very long ago that only I remember. To those around me, I am nothing but a confusing entity. A prophet of sorts. A face.
For millennia after millennia, I have stood guardian over these people, guiding them as I could. Watching in agony at the choices made and lesson unlearned. One would think that after a billion years, the people of this place would soon realize the error of their ways. Yet time marches on, generation upon generation.
And so we marched to New Earth. To a new era and a new home much like the one we left behind. A new chance, I said. A time to be brave and face our mistakes.
Most dismissed the opportunity, thinking only of settlement. Expansion. Rebuilding.
But there were other humans who heeded the opportunity amidst the beautiful madness of life. With hands stretched in faith and their minds open to possibility, they held faith. In him – the creature to which they gave reverence. To life – which became so much more valuable after the loss of the 'old' Earth.
I gave myself so long ago to these people that only I remember. Young and full of energy, I stood guard over outside sources that might hurt them. For centuries, I stood as guardian of the gates, sacrificing so much I might never know peace from the misery.
Yet this is the way it must be for survival of them all. Gifts of life and honor must be given in order to save the masses, even if no gratitude comes forth. Only grief.
In that grief, hope springs forth. Wave upon wave of challenging foes bring the potential for destruction. Agonizingly, choices must be made. Which brings me to where I am this very moment, as my life slowly drains.
As I die.
I find myself… content. Peace is within my reach as my life force wanes – a gift I give willingly and with beloved grace.
What is it I love so much about these humans, considering their colossal levels of selfish stupidity? Their capacity for compassion as individuals humbles me, their expressions of love enthrall me, and those precious few who show insightful acceptance of all in the universe give me hope.
I am billions of years old – disintegrated. Yet the young man in me would say they are fun. I was always an incorrigible flirt.
The light around me calls, strong and vital. Strangely enough I want it, even if it means the end of billions of years of life. Because I am falling into that light. No longer am I being pulled into the dark, with pain as my constant companion. Every ache, every pain fades as the light swallows me into a meadow of white.
My children and grandchildren hail from a hilltop just a hundred yards away; even my Alice and her beautiful fair-haired boy, the grandson I sacrificed to be savior of the human race. Can one weep in such a place? It's been so long since either has looked on me with anything but hatred and pain.
Blinking away unshed tears, I hear a noise. Off in the distance I see them. Around an ethereal table, glowing white with light, dalliances left with goodly charm see me and wave as I walk forward.
As I walk. No longer am I the leg-less prophet, settled in a container or placed on a pedestal. I am once again a man.
Looking down, I see the legs of youth on which I once strutted. So I swagger a little to the hoots and calls of that far-off table. They applaud when I smile in just the way that seduced them so long ago.
Oh, how I have missed this face I sport once again. Young, handsome, charming. And yes, I'm vain enough to admit it.
My smile widens as I move forward across an unseen floor the color of the brightest stars. There, right in front of me, stepping slowly they smile. My teams. The ones that called themselves Torchwood, until that name no longer existed. Until they all died so young… so bravely in youth and passion. And still they smile, as if they've found some secret that delights them for all time. Something that fills them.
Then they stop, not too close, but not too far, and I can hear an echo among them that they will wait – that their patience, something that took me millions of years to develop, came to them here in the light. Instead, they smile just a few strides away. Until one by one, they part, leaving a path through the middle of the throng.
So others can step forward… hand-in-hand.
Mother, Father, Brother.
I'd never thought to see any of them again. But then again, I'd never thought I would die. In an instant, they hold me close. Only there is no grief or longing. Instead, I feel a sigh deep in my very bone, reverberating in my marrow.
Another hand begins its caress, one I've missed, and I lift my head from my brother's shoulder to look into glowing blue eyes. So little has changed. That shy smile forms slowly. Just slightly upturned lips. I can hear him in my head, murmuring softly, almost a lullaby.
Then the others step away, until I feel arms sliding around me, holding me close.
It must be a dream to be in such a place, because even in my evolution I have never seen anything so… exquisite; never felt anything so completely. Every sense bursts to life in a flash as he strokes a hand through my hair, runs his tongue across my lower lip, and gives me a playful grin. Then he's wrapped around me again, with his head on my shoulder, swaying to a soundless dance.
"We're here, Jack," Ianto whispers into my ear, letting his breath float across my cheek in a spine-tingling thrill. And then the light becomes so very bright, like a great coat enveloping me in warmth and comfort, and I feel myself drifting into glory.
"We're safe," Ianto whispers, with those around us nodding agreement. "Your promise has been kept."