Spoilers: up through CoE
Characters: Jack, OC, Team
Pairings: implied Jack/Ianto, Jack/various
Beta: Deepest thanks to 51stcenturyfox for the steady eyes and quick turnaround; any remaining screw-ups are mine alone
Warnings: OC overload, emo, potentially derivative, fails at Bechdel liek whoa
Summary: Alice is not an only child.
Olivia is radiant in her wedding gown, and Frank's heart puffs with pride as they exit the church together amid a hail of rice and good wishes. The reception is at the church hall next door. They snapped the keepsake photograph yesterday, so it's right to the hall, as short of a reception as courtesy can make it, and then he can whisk his lovely new bride away on their honeymoon. (Livvie is old-fashioned and proper about some things. Frank has respected her wishes. He is however already studying the catches and buttons on the back of her gown every time the lace veil allows him a glimpse.) They stand together and shake hands with the friends and family members who made it today.
Which is why he should have expected this sooner.
"Hey, old man," Jack says with a practised smile that doesn't reach his eyes, and he takes Frank's hand before Frank can protest. "Good to see you." His eyes glance down to Frank's cane, a constant companion since he came home from the war fifteen months ago.
"And the lovely bride!" he says, swooping in for a careful kiss on Livvie's cheek.
"Thank you," says Livvie, a bit flushed, but of course Jack has that effect on people.
He says, "Frank, aren't you going to introduce me?" with a familiar twinkle.
"Olivia, this is my … cousin Jack. From America." Frank doesn't let any friendliness through in his tone. Lying to Livvie on their wedding day is not setting a good precedent.
"Enchanted," Jack says, and Livvie blushes deeper.
The line moves on, but now Frank watches Jack as he shakes hands and smiles and acts all the charming, gallant bastard that he is. He tries to shake it off, shake him off, but even as he and Livvie are seated, as they share their champagne, as the toasts start going around, his eyes are drawn to the table where, uninvited, Frank's worst secret sits and grins and flirts, as though the last time Frank saw him wasn't at a funeral.
Frank stands up suddenly, painfully. "I'd like to make another toast." He raises his glass, holding it too tightly. "To my brother Phillip, who couldn't be with us today. God rest his soul, and the souls of all the brave men who died so we could be here."
"To Phillip," the words go round with the drinks, and there, that's what he wanted. Jack's face goes hard and distant, and the glass barely touches his lips.
Dancing is hard, will always be hard for Frank from now on, but he leads Livvie around the floor gently. Back when they'd first started seeing each other, he a brash young pilot off to fight Hitler, she a good girl from Aberdeen there to send the boys off in style, he could have twisted and danced and thrown himself into the song. That won't happen again, but slow dances have their charm as well. He leans into her, smelling her perfume and wishing he could get into the car already, but they have hours to go.
While Olivia dances with her father, Frank goes to the corner where Jack is eyeing the busboy.
"You should go," he says. "You're ruining this for me."
"I wanted to pay my respects," Jack replies. "I even brought a gift."
"I don't care. Get out."
Jack comes in closer, so only Frank can hear him. "Is this … are we always going to be about Phil?" His eyes are sharp, wounded.
"You should have saved him." Jack was two hundred miles away. "You should have been there."
"I couldn't. I would have. He knew I would have."
"You're you. You can do anything."
"You think so?"
He doesn't. He knows that Jack has information about the future, that he has been alive in this time before, that he cannot grow old or die. He only hoped that Jack would know enough to save Phil from the German bullet that took his life, and if not, it means his father will not save him either when the time comes.
"You should have done something," he says, petulant as a child.
Jack touches his arm. Jack has always been tactile, and perhaps he has a low level of telepathy or empathy, because people are happier when Jack touches them. Phil was the same way. Frank has always preferred the opposite, and he shrugs off the hand.
"Do you want me to say I'm sorry?"
"I want you to leave."
"Dad, I swear if you come back, I'll call the police." He does not watch Jack go.
"Are you all right?" Livvie asks when he returns to her, and Frank kisses her instead of answering. It's a trick he learned ages ago, right at home.
Aberdeen is far enough away from London, from Cardiff, to make Frank content. Livvie's family likes him. Even her mother thaws to him after the arrival of their first child, a daughter. Frank tells them his family is gone: his mother during a bombing raid at the start of the war, his brother in a pointless skirmish a few days before the end. His father, listed as James Harrison on the papers that need a name, went missing. Frank is always careful to follow that with, "But we were never close."
Cards arrive in the post around Frank's birthday and their anniversary. Sometimes the card arrives on Mum's birthday instead and Frank suspects Jack is starting to forget details. It's always signed the same way: "Thinking of you. – J." There's usually money, which Frank doesn't tell Olivia about, instead putting it safe in the bank.
Sometimes, he finds a newspaper clipping inside the envelope, articles such as "Sheep Disappearances Tied to Wild Dogs" or "Sightings of 'Deformed Man' Merely Escaped Gorilla From Zoo, Say Local Constables." There's never a note saying what really happened, but Frank was present for half a dozen alien encounters during his childhood, and he can guess. He isn't sure if Jack is bragging or sharing the joke.
He is in Glasgow on business when he sees Jack across the street. Frank stops dead, and the old woman walking behind him bumps into him, startled. She curses at him in a thick brogue, not accepting his apology.
Jack hasn't seen him yet. He could just keep walking and pretend nothing has happened, but Frank wasn't raised to be a coward.
"Hello," he says, just loud enough to be heard.
Jack's head turns, and his face lights. "Hey, old man," he says. The accent always shakes Frank. For someone who has lived in Great Britain for as long as Jack, one would think he'd have adjusted out of the not-American sounds. Frank's own voice has developed a distinct Scottish flavour, but his father's hasn't changed.
They meet on Jack's side of the street. "You look good," Jack says. He's still wearing his RAF greatcoat, though the war has been over for fifteen years.
"You look the same."
They find a pub, a table near the back, and now they are sitting, not talking to each other over untouched drinks. Jack flirts with the barmaid, a pasty-faced woman in her fifties, causing a blush to rise over her features and letting Frank see what she would have been like as a girl.
"What brings you to town?"
"Courier duty." Jack taps the black satchel over his shoulder. "The Glasgow team needed to send something to Cardiff."
Frank pictures an alien head in the bag. He takes a drink.
"What about you?"
"Work," Frank says. "The company is starting an office here." He plays with his glass. "You haven't asked about Livvie and the kids."
"You've got kids?" There's delight on his face, and against his better judgment, Frank pulls out his wallet.
"Here's the family." He passes over the photograph, watches Jack's eyes move across the unfamiliar faces. "That's Phil Jr.," he says, pointing to his older son. "Robbie, Sarah, and Bonnie."
"How long ago was this taken?"
"A few years. Bonnie's walking and talking now." He takes the photo back and puts it away, not missing the brief expression that crosses his father's face. Frank looks older than Jack. It's strange.
"How are you doing, Frank?"
"We're fine," he says, and he stands. "I should go. I've got a meeting in about half an hour."
Jack stands as well. "If you're going to be in town, maybe we could get supper later."
"I'm taking the train back tonight." It's a lie, but it's easier than facing an evening with his father.
"Ah. Well, then."
Frank pauses. This is the part of the conversation where he should ask Jack to come visit, meet the kids. Normal families do that sort of thing. "I'll be off, then."
Jack pulls a small notebook out of his coat, scribbles something. "This is a number where you can reach me. If you want." He rips out the page and holds it in his fingers.
Frank takes the bit of paper, wonders how many men in random pubs have been given that same number. He folds it and puts it in his jacket pocket. "Thank you for the wedding gift."
That smile again. "I'm glad you liked it."
Frank thinks he ought to offer a hug or a handshake, but he takes his hat and goes.
Cards start arriving on the children's birthdays and at Christmas. It's getting harder to hide them from Olivia, so he tells her the lie about his cousin again. She remarks on the postmark from Cardiff, no return address. He says Jack is a wanderer, that he doesn't stay in one place long. No, they can't go visit. No, Jack's job keeps him too busy to come see them. Terrible shame.
The entire family, including Sarah, her husband Charlie, and the twins, are going on holiday together. Frank thinks this isn't as good an idea as Livvie insists. Phil's talking about moving to Dublin and Bonnie's sweetheart wants to settle down and start a family the day she's done with school, so this may be the last time they can all go together. He relents.
Livvie says she wants to visit Wales, see where Frank was born, but he convinces her that there's nothing to really do or see there, and if they want to spend their holiday overcrowded in a tiny room waiting for the rain to stop, they can do that at Sarah and Charlie's place for free.
They rent a cottage for a week on the Isle of Man.
Their second day, Frank is out in the shops looking for things on Livvie's list, and there he is, wandering among the vegetables.
"I was wondering when I'd find you here," Jack says. "I'd like you to meet … "
"Dad, what's keeping you?" Rob, as he likes to be called these days, has his arms full of dry goods from his Mum's list.
"I ran into someone," Frank says, watching Jack. "Rob, this is my brother Phil's son. From America."
"Jack." He shakes Rob's hand around the packages. "Pleasure to meet you, Rob."
"For real? You never said Uncle Phil had a son."
"Family doesn't talk about me much," Jack says amiably. "My folks never got married."
"Oh, no one cares about that sort of thing these days," Rob says. "Dad, you should have said."
"I'm saying now," Frank says. Remembering the list, he picks up an aubergine and places it in his basket. "How did you find us? Here, I mean?"
Jack shrugs. "The usual way." Torchwood, then. Bloody wiretaps and all get out. "I wanted you to meet someone."
There's a pram beside him, and Frank assumed it belonged to one of the women shopping nearby, but Jack is reaching in for a dark-haired baby, all chubby cheeks and pink frills. He jostles her a bit to soothe her, and then passes her to Frank. "This is my daughter." Jack's eyes dart to Rob, and Frank knows the next word out of his mouth will be a lie: "Rose."
Frank loves his children and grandchildren, but he's not much with babies. Livvie fusses over kids enough for them both. He hands the little girl whose name isn't Rose back to Jack. His sister, Frank thinks, more than half a century younger.
"Nah. You know me." Jack continues holding the baby, stroking her head absently. Not for the first time, Frank thinks he might have had other siblings, besides Phil and the baby. Jack has probably left his blue eyes marked on a dozen kids around the world, more. But he stayed, in his fashion, with Frank and Phil, and now the girl.
"I do. How long are you going to keep this up?"
Jack's expression is familiar, and so are his words. "I'll see the Doctor, and I'll get fixed. Things will be different then." Rob winces, and Frank holds back a smile.
"Well, you've got to come back with us," says Rob. "Mum would love to meet you. And Sarah's got little ones not much older than Rose."
"Does she? I'd love to see a picture."
"Haven't got any with me," Frank says, and then knows that's a mistake.
Rob says, "Now you have to come. Stay for supper."
"I can't," says Jack, and Frank breathes a sigh of relief. "Rose and I have to get back. Her mum thinks I'm, well, not here."
"Sorry to hear it. So good to see you again," says Frank.
"Hey, isn't your birthday next week?"
Frank swallows. "Yeah."
"Happy birthday, Frank."
"Nice to meet you," Rob says and shakes Jack's hand again.
"Likewise. Tell your family I said hello."
The buggy wheels squeak as Jack rolls the little girl away. He'd come here just to say hi, just to wish Frank a happy birthday, just to say, "You have a sister now."
"Dad," Rob says, later, as they load their packages into the car. "I thought you said Uncle Phil was … You know. He didn't date women."
Frank doesn't say anything until they're driving back to the cottage.
"Your uncle was a good man. He always had room in his heart to love everyone he met. Lot like our father, really."
The writing on the notebook page is faded, but he can make out the number. After some mishandling by the operator, and a deep fear on Frank's part that all the numbers had changed already, he's put through.
"Yes?" says the voice on the other end. Male.
"I'm looking for someone. The last time I heard, he was going by the name Captain Jack Harkness."
"He's not here."
"Oh. Can I leave a message for him?"
"No." The voice is sharp. "I am not running Jack's escort service."
"It's not like that. Tell him it's Frank."
"Listen, 'Frank,' you can tell Jack the next time you see him that we don't appreciate … "
What the man doesn't appreciate, Frank never finds out, because the phone makes an odd sound like someone grabbing it out of someone else's hand, and Jack's distinctly accented voice says, "Gimme that. Frank?"
"It's me." The line is probably bugged, and he doesn't know how much they know.
"How are you? Is something wrong?" He can hear the worry crackle across the line.
"No. Nothing's wrong. I just wanted to say hello."
"Hello." And now the smile is coming through loud and clear. "This is a surprise and a pleasure."
"Stop that," Frank says. "They're going to think I'm one of your boyfriends."
He must cover the mouthpiece, because the next bit is muted as Jack asks for some peace and quiet on the phone.
"There. And with that button," Frank hears a click, "we can talk without anyone else listening in. How are you, old man?"
"I'm fine," Frank says. "Got two more grandchildren."
"They pile up fast."
"You called her Rose."
"Oh. Right. She's getting big. I don't see her as much as I'd like." Frank's stomach clenches, just a little. Story of his childhood, until Mum had finally said enough and told Jack to stay gone. "Her name's Alice," he says quietly, maybe not trusting his equipment as much as he says.
"That's pretty." His sister's name is Alice, and his brother has already proven immortality isn't like blue eyes or a strong chin. He wonders what it must be like for his father to see his own children as babies, and know for a fact they'll be dust someday, and their grandchildren will be dust, and Jack will still be there.
"Tell me about the kids," Jack says, and Frank does.
It's a good funeral, pretty flowers and deep organ music, and every time he thinks how much Livvie would have liked it, he starts to weep again.
There's a wreath, one of many, signed, "I'm so very sorry. – J."
The phone system in the Hub was the most modern they could have in 1996. Now they all have mobiles and the comms, and honestly, no one uses the regular phone anymore except for official business. Since Suzie's little trick with the power, Jack insisted on rewiring a line to the regular grid so that if they manage to get trapped in their own headquarters again, they won't have to bounce signals off the water tower. Owen doesn't even know what the direct number to the Hub is. He does however have the Tourist Info Centre's phone number written down at home for the purpose of prank calls.
He has never heard the main phone ring, and he's startled when the sound echoes through the Hub.
"What the hell is that?"
"Amazing device," Ianto says. "Invented by Alexander Graham Bell." Before Owen can tell him to stuff it, he's grabbed the receiver. "Yes?" A pause. "Of course. Please hold." He presses a button and touches his earpiece. "Jack, it's for you."
Owen raises his eyebrows at Tosh, who catches the look.
Through the window in Jack's office, they watch while pretending not to watch, as Jack picks up the phone, and moments later, goes pale. Less than a minute passes before he's down in the Hub with them, coat on, ready to walk out the door. "I'll be back in a few days," is all he gives them, and he brushes off Gwen's questions of concern before he's on the lift and headed upwards.
Owen watches Gwen's face and then Ianto's, and knows they're both remembering the last time Jack ran off without a word, how long he was gone, how much he'd changed when he returned.
"I'm sure it's nothing," Tosh says.
"That didn't look like nothing," says Gwen.
Owen pulls up the phone record. "Does the name Franklin Harrison mean anything to any of you lot?" Blank looks all around. "Right. Background check time. Fiver says he's one of Jack's floozies."
Ianto says, "If Jack wanted us to know, he'd have told us."
That doesn't stop Owen's fingers from flying over the keyboard. "Here we go. Home address, place of business, picture coming up."
The girls come over to his station; Jack favours pretty boys, and it's always exciting to see what he's pulled this time. Ianto stays where he is until Owen says, "What, don't want to take a look at the competition?" With an annoyed sigh, he joins them just as the photo pops up.
All four lean back at once, surprised. "Codger," says Owen. "Former floozy, then."
Tosh reaches past Owen and types something. Another picture comes up, the same man but younger.
"Now he's good-looking," says Gwen.
"He looks a bit like Jack," Ianto says. Owen can see what he means, and chalks it up to Jack's particular brand of narcissism.
"We should get back to work," Tosh says. "Ianto's right. If Jack wants to tell us, he'll tell us."
Owen closes the screen, but not before saving the info to a file. Could be useful later, if just for tweaking Ianto. While Jack's gone, he keeps an eye out for obituaries in the Aberdeen papers, but instead runs across a new record of Harrison at a local old folks home.
Jack comes back three days later, and to no one's surprise, does not answer any questions. Owen mouths the word "Floozy" to Tosh after Jack goes up to his office in his normal cloud of mystery, and she covers her giggle with her hand.
Rob's death is sudden: a brain embolism in his sleep. His wife, his kids, they stand around in shock, but all Frank can think about is the day he lost his brother, and how it's not right for a man to bury his own children.
Frank feels someone watching him and looks up from his game with Sam. One of the nurses is approaching, and Jack is with her.
"You have a visitor, Mr. Harrison," she says, and waits for him to acknowledge the newcomer. Some bastards like to pretend they're related to the residents here, then steal their meagre possessions. Sam's wallet went missing last year. Frank knows Jack's a thief, among other things, but he won't take anything from Frank that he hasn't already.
"Thank you," he tells her. "Sam, this is my brother's grandson Jack."
"Nice to meet you, son," Sam says kindly, as the nurse walks back to her station. "Want to play the winner?"
"Not today," Jack says. Frank watches his face. He's always looking for some sign of change, something to indicate that Jack won't escape Time after all. Instead, he finds something he wasn't expecting.
"Sam, can we continue this later?"
"I can push you," Jack says, looking at Frank's chair.
"You'll do no such thing," Frank says, getting to his feet unsteadily, holding onto his cane more than he likes. "I'm still up for a walk if you are, old man."
Jack smiles as if the world is ending. "Race you."
There's a pond, with railing so no one falls in, and they make their way slowly around it. "I wasn't expecting you," Frank says. "You're so busy these days. Every damn day, it seems like an alien is trying to take over the planet."
"That lot last month, the ones that made the kids talk. They scared us. Sarah's girl kept her kids home."
"They're fine." Frank keeps an eye on Jack's face. "You're not."
"I'm always fine," Jack lies. "You know me."
"I don't want to talk about it."
"Why are you here?"
"I wanted to see you. It's been a while."
"Bullshit. Try again."
"I did. I wanted to see you." Jack rubs his face, and Frank sees centuries, more, in his eyes. "I'm going to be travelling. I wanted to tie up some loose ends."
"I'm a loose end?"
"You're a pain in the arse is what you are," Jack teases him. Frank looks for the old sparkle behind the words, and there's nothing.
They are at the far end of the pond now, far out of earshot of anyone else.
"Someone broke you," Frank says at last. His eyes, his face, they're of a dead man, and it rattles Frank more than he can say.
Jack shakes his head, but it's less a denial and more as if he is shaking off flies. Voices, maybe. "I'll be fine," he says, a ghost of himself.
Frank remembers Phil's funeral, remembers standing stoically while Jack let the tears come. It was the first time Frank had realised that Jack never wept for other people, but instead for his own pain. Jack's selfish streak again. And now …
"How's Alice?" The horror on Jack's face is more than enough to tell him. "Bonnie's coming this afternoon to visit. You should stay."
"I can't. Miles to go."
"Suit yourself." They walk, and Jack doesn't seem to mind that Frank is much slower for this half of the trip. His bones ache. "I could do without the immortality. But I wish I'd inherited your knees. Kidneys, too. Mine are going."
"I'd give you both of mine. They'll probably grow back anyway."
"That'd be something to see."
"Frank." His voice is distant, thick. "I'm glad you're okay. I'm glad your kids are okay."
"Well, that's all you, isn't it? You keep the world safe, and the rest of it falls into place."
Jack can't speak and, amidst a silence that stretches, they return to where Sam is resting.
"Thanks for coming by," Frank says, settling gratefully back into his chair. "Next time, stay a while." It's a false jollity; Jack will not come back again, he's certain of it.
After Jack is gone, he considers that a loose thread is also a tie to be cut.
Jack's mobile rings for the fifth time that day, and he checks the name. If it's Gwen again, he's going to scream and then delete the message like all the rest.
It's not. Aberdeen number. His stomach falls. "Yes?"
"Is this Jack Harkness?"
"This is Sunrise Gardens. You're on the contact list for one of our clients, Mr. Franklin Harrison."
"Is he … "
"He's taken a turn for the worse, I'm afraid. The family is being called back. He asked for you."
He catches the next available flight, gets a car, is there within five hours. At the desk, he tells the nurse on duty that he's here to see Frank, and she shows him to a waiting room.
The people in the room --- that must be Bonnie, and that's Phil Jr., both looking just like the last photographs Frank showed him --- glance up from their conversations, unsure about this interloper. He considers not making eye contact, going out and away, and he knows it's not the time.
"Captain Jack Harkness," he says, shaking the hand of a young man who is probably his great-grandson. "I'm a friend of Frank's."
"Glad you could come, then," says Phil Jr. Sarah, the image of her mother, is crying quietly on her sister's shoulder. Jack takes in these strangers who are Frank's family, sees a familiar feature here, a particular turn of head there. For a moment, the memories surrounding him are so thick he can't draw breath.
Another nurse pokes her head out of the room. "Mr. Harrison is awake." The others stand, except for Bonnie and Sarah. "He wanted to know, is there a Jack here?"
Jack nods, and to the mystified expressions of the rest of the family, he follows the nurse into the room.
Frank's lost a lot of weight in the past four months. He's got an oxygen tube in his nose, and more monitors strapped to him than Jack can count, but his eyes are bright. "Hey, old man," he whispers.
Jack takes his hand. "Hey."
"I wasn't sure they'd find you."
"I gave them my number the last time I was here." Jack brushes wisps of hair away from Frank's face. "You look good."
"You look like hell," Frank replies. "Where were you?"
Frank coughs, and Jack holds his hand until it passes. "Tell me."
"Death. You've been there. What's it like?"
Jack licks his lips, considers a tender lie and discards it. "Cold. Dark. Empty." He doesn't mention the thing that moves in the darkness. That's a secret the dead are keeping back. "I've told you before."
"You have. And I've been thinking, maybe it's not."
"Trust me. I've got the experience."
"But if there's someone in charge of things, maybe they already knew about you. Knew who you'd be. Didn't want to let even the great Captain Jack Harkness get a sneak peek of what's to come." He smiles. "That's what I'd do."
"When you become God, let me know."
Frank laughs, breathlessly. "Livvie always said Heaven was like a waiting room, where you stay for the arrival of everyone you've known, everyone you've loved, so you can go on together. In your case, I suppose it's already standing room only."
That's an image he can't bear, and he thrusts it away. Jack has met the darkness, and that is enough.
"You're still broken, aren't you?"
"Let's not talk about me."
"There isn't much left to say about me. In a while, I'm going to die surrounded by my grieving children and grandchildren, which is as good a death as anyone gets. And after that, who knows? I think Livvie will be there waiting for me yet." His breathing is shallow now. There isn't much time.
"I'm going to miss you," and it's not a lie, not even a small one.
"Good. Now go on. This last bit isn't for you." But he squeezes Jack's hand once more before he lets go. "Send them in, yeah?"
Jack leans over and kisses him on the head. "Love you," he says, because it's goodbye.
As he reaches the door, touches the knob, Frank says, "I'll tell Phil you said hello."