Author note: This November just gone I participated in a trial of writing madness called NaNoWriMo (look it up: it's like being in a cult without the free robes) and I wrote a 60,528 word, thirty chapter story called And Then Some, all about Jack Harkness and John Hart as they first met and theit time in the now infamous time loop. (It was like having a wife!) And this ramble does have a point, I assure you.
Anyway, on the morning of December 1st, I was left feeling strangely hollow. All those characters I'd created and nurtured (and abused... mostly abused) throughout November, they still had stories to tell. The beginning of this chapter wrote itself not eight hours after I had thought I was done with NaNoWriMo for good.
I hope you enjoy.
Chapter One – The End is Where We Start From
A scream jolted Jonathan Holster from his bout of un-thoughtful thoughtfulness, and he glanced towards the bedroom in dread of what he might find there. He had thought Jacobyte past the nightmares that had so haunted their first few years together.
Jonathan pushed himself away from the mid-height table bar that ran the length of the kitchen. He faced the rest of the room. The penthouse suite was open plan, mostly. To his right, the key coded lift doors, behind him and above the breakfast bar, a series of large windows, mirrored on the outside. The wall on his left wasn't a wall, in fact, but made entirely of glass, with one small door to let anyone who wished out onto the balcony. Jonathan paused, looking out at the view. That was the reason he'd snapped this place up straight away, all those years ago, regardless of the fact that it cost all of his savings. The view, and the freedom it brought.
Jacobyte and Jonathan had returned to Glariyo several weeks before, and Jonathan had practically forced Jacobyte to move out of his tiny Agency cabin and in with him. The small yet somehow expansive suite with star studded sky above and sweet, bustling city all around – Jonathan didn't think he could bear that sight alone. Living with Jacobyte had its costs, though. Some days it seemed worth it, others not so much.
Jonathan didn't know which one this might be as he passed the mirror screen, noting the purple smudges under his eyes, and nudged at the bedroom door. He hesitated before entering. Why did he hesitate? This was still his apartment, his home. He didn't have to pander to anyone's wishes. He was free. They were free. Despite all of this, Jonathan tiptoed as lightly as he could into the room, nervous of what state he might find Jacobyte in.
He turned the floor length blinds. Starlight fell across the bed, revealing tangled sheets and finally Jacobyte, twisting, turning, writhing at their centre.
Jacobyte jolted awake as Jonathan watched. The fear in his eyes reflected by the dusky light of the open Glariyo sky. Jonathan advanced on the bed, trying not to sigh. He crawled across the sheets and tossed pillows to reached where Jacobyte shivered. When Jacobyte caught sight of him, the relief that flashed across his face stung Jonathan like a temporal backlash. It felt like that, too, to see Jacobyte reduced to this state once more.
"Not real," Jacobyte mumbled. "Not real, thank god. Not real."
"What's not real, sweetheart?"
"Had a— had a dream. Trapped. I couldn't find— couldn't get out again— and then you were, but I wasn't, and I wanted so much just to, but I couldn't—"
"Hush!" Jonathan gathered the shaking man up in his arms. "Jackie, it's alright, listen to me now, yeah? It's fine, I'm fine and we're— hey, are you crying?"
"Shut up," said Jacobyte, if soggily. Jonathan held him tighter, rocked him until he felt Jacobyte still under his hands, until he fell back into the lull of a dreamless sleep.
"Jacobyte, what I going to do with you, eh?"
"Lov' y' Jon'th'n."
"What?" Jonathan peered down, unsure if he'd heard a sleepy mumble or a sighing breath. Jacobyte's expression was slack, one of peaceful innocence, and it shut down Jonathan's thought processes, cancelled out his worries. So what if Jacobyte said he loved him? He didn't have to be conscious for it to be true. Jonathan pressed a kiss Jacobyte's sweat drenched forehead. "Love you too."
* * *
Dawn came too early for Jacobyte. Light pierced his lavender lids, and he moaned against the bright red invasion. He heard a chuckle, too. "Stop laughing at me."
"It amuses me how much you are still not a morning person."
Jacobyte raised his head, winced as he opened his eyes and the glare really struck. "Why would I have changed, though?"
Jonathan unfolded his legs and lay down beside Jacobyte, wriggling until they curled against one another. Jacobyte put one arm under Jonathan's neck and lay the other over his waist, content to just be.
"I don't know," Jonathan told Jacobyte's hand. He fiddled idly with the fingernails, brushing them against his palm. "I keep expecting this big sign to flash over our heads saying 'You're free! You're free!' but it doesn't, and I don't know what to feel." He rolled over so that they bumped noses. Jacobyte laughed, and Jonathan felt the warm breath of it ghost over his face. He closed his eyes, opening them in surprise when Jacobyte kissed him. "What was that for?"
"You're confused. It's sweet."
"You die now."
Jacobyte grinned. The sight made Jonathan's heart soar. "Worth it."
* * *
Jonathan shrugged into his russet coat, pausing at the mirror screen to check his appearance. It had been some time since he'd been bothered about his looks, a long time since he'd had the need to. The right kind of cut never went out of style though, and boy did Jonathan love this coat. He twirled a little. Jacobyte whistled appreciatively from the sofa, ignoring the cityscape before him in favour of Jonathan's delighted grin.
"Where are you off to?"
"Going to check in with the Agency for a while," said Jonathan. "I haven't heard any news from Lindsa, so I'm assuming she's still around somewhere."
Jacobyte returned to whatever he was reading. Jonathan peered; couldn't see the cover. "Happy hunting," mumbled Jacobyte.
Jacobyte looked up again. "What?"
Finger on the lift button, Jonathan paused. "I have no idea."
"Any plans, then?" Finger still on the button. Waiting, waiting waiting.
"Not really. Might just mope around for a bit."
Go somewhere with me, he wanted to say. I want to show you places, just like you showed me. "Alright then," Jonathan said instead, swallowing down an unfamiliar lump in his throat. "I'll see you later, yeah?"
* * *
In the crowded Academy canteen. He didn't recognise her straight away. He had to do a double take when he realised it was her. Gone were the baggy combats and unflattering jacket. In their place she wore... Were those legs? Lindsa had legs? Jonathan blinked. In place of the previous outfit Lindsa now wore a pair of dark grey calf boots, dark blue trousers and a red-brown waistcoat over a plain white shirt. A tiny gold epaulette sat on one shoulder of her waistcoat.
She looked very much the part.
"Hello there, Captain."
Lindsa turned, caught sight of him and scowled. "Sod off, Jonathan."
"Not pleased to see me, then?" said Jonathan.
"Do you know how much trouble you two caused? Tulsen was at his wits end!"
"What's that then, two inches?"
Lindsa had to laugh then.
"And then he settled you here," said Jonathan, smirking. "Babysitting duty."
Lindsa glanced out over her charges. She'd spent the entire morning trying to school basic survival instincts into seemingly dim-witted teens, and she had had enough, thank you very much. "Sod off, Jonathan," she said again. Another session that afternoon, this time weapons training on the ranges. Well, there was some bright spark in the day after all. Maybe she'd get lucky and hit one of the brats by mistake.
"Shan't," said Jonathan.
"That was an order, Lieutenant."
"You can't order me around, Lindsa."
"Can too! See this?" She painted to the braid on her shoulder. "This means I can. Nyer."
"But it's me, Lindsa... Lickle ol' Jonnie."
"Sod off!" Jonathan pouted. Lindsa rolled her eyes. "God, you're annoying. And stop preening."
"Stop saying that!"
Lindsa slapped him. A wolf whistle echoed across the sudden silence in the canteen hall. Lindsa raised an eyebrow, daring him to make a fuss, daring him to challenge. Jonathan lowered the hand from his cheek, tonguing the sore flesh from the inside where it had cut into his teeth.
"Oh, Captain, Captain," he drawled. "I am ever so sorry."
"Just make it harder next time, yeah? You know I like it rough."
He ducked the next slap and pegged it from the canteen to shouts and jeers from the cadets all around.
Once outside, Jonathan flicked open his wrist strap to get in contact with Jacobyte, see if he fancied heading out for dinner or anything like that. Jonathan knew this lovely little place—
Since when did he get the voicemail?
It didn't matter. Jonathan left a message, asking Jacobyte to get in touch as soon as possible. Several hours passed as he hung around the Academy complex, watching young cadets go about their businesses, slowly ruining their lives though they didn't know it yet. His wrist strap bleeped.
"Hey," said Jacobyte's tiny hologram.
"Rathy's place. Favourite haunt."
Jonathan hung up, happy.
* * *
The door to the bar creaked upon, and Rathy glanced up. "Lieutenant!" He put down the glass he'd been, for lack of a better word, cleaning and smiled at Jonathan. "It's been too long."
A man Rathy didn't recognise, taller than the Lieutenant, followed him inside. They approached the bar and Jonathan quirked an eyebrow. "How long?"
"Too long," said Rathy. "I miss my regulars, you know that."
"The ones that tip the most, you mean?"
"That too. What'll it be for you and your..." Rathy eyed up Jonathan's companion. "You and your gentleman friend?"
"Partner," Jonathan corrected. "Rathy, Captain Jacobyte Hasphane. Jacobyte, this is Rathy. He's a blowfish."
"I hadn't noticed."
"Rathy, I swear to all that is holy, beloved, twisted and-slash-or cynical, if you offer us mega-gins, I will chop you up into sushi chunks right here and now."
Rathy stopped with his hand halfway toward the row of bottles he kept under the bar. His head spines deflated. "What do you want, then?"
"Get me..." Jonathan stared at the wall behind Rathy. "Get me a Baladin cocktail."
"Two," said Jacobyte Hasphane.
"Oh, he speaks! Speak again bright angel!" Rathy threw down his cleaning cloth. It landed on the bar with a squelch, and Jonathan stared at it, as if daring the fetid piece of material to run away. As it was, Jacobyte was sure he saw the cloth twitch slightly under Jonathan's glare. "Jonathan," Rathy began, "you know I haven't got any of that stuff. This is a humble establishment—"
"You can say that with a straight face? Well done you!"
"This is but a humble establishment," Rathy said again. "I can't afford what's needed for bloody Baladin, and you know it!"
Jacobyte pulled himself up onto one of the bar stools and began teasing at the rag while Jonathan laughed at Rathy. He leaned across and dumped a handful of dull, heavy sounding coins onto the puddle spotted bar.
Rathy stared at the pile. "How?" he mouthed.
"Five years back pay," said Jonathan with a grin.
"What? You were only gone five months!"
Jonathan raised an eyebrow. "Are you complaining? We can take our business elsewhere, Rathy." Jacobyte looked up from the dishcloth and nodded.
"No, no," said Rathy, backtracking hastily. He made the coins disappear somewhere about his person. "I'll just go and get started, shall I?"
"You do that." Jonathan turned around and leaned his back on the bar, elbows splayed in support. He flicked his gaze sideways and paused. "Jacobyte, did that cloth just chase your finger?"
Jonathan sucked his cheek, staring at the scene. "Right," he said after a long moment.
"Can we adopt it?"