SCARS

Obligatory Disclaimer: Dedicated to David Tennant, John Barrowman and James Marsters. Fare thee well, Ten.

"Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars."
Kahlil Gibran

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Author's Note:

Standalone but follows my story "Love." I have been through dark days. Your encouragement and feedback are appreciated. In return I promise to try to finish this, my thirteenth story.

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PROLOGUE

"Give me one good reason why I shouldn't kill you where you stand, you rat bastard. Right here, right now." John Hart's voice was like liquid helium, the blade in his hand, the same razor-sharp blade his friend Jaad had used to slit his own throat, shined harshly in the starlight.

Gray gasped and involuntarily squirmed inside the choking, vise-like grip of Wil Beinert, her long, powerful fingers easily encircling his neck. Her eyes were wide open now, although everything was still tinted blood-red; she could see the back of Gray's head and John standing not far beyond.

"Because…" Jack's little brother croaked, but just barely, "you must listen to me! There is something coming for Jack."

"And you're telling me this why?" John snarled.

"Like I already told you!" Gray's eyes were watering, starting to go unfocused, the pale irises floating upward, their whites becoming more and more prominent in the dim light. "You've seen the Darkness; I've shown it to you, shown you the Darkness. But there are far worse things out there than the Darkness." His chest heaved. "There are relentless, inescapable, mind-blasting horrors. Someone must warn, must save my brother before it's too late. I know he'd sooner kill me than hear me out. You… both of you are my only hope. You're Jack's only hope."

John caught Wil's attention and the two lovers exchanged a long look, a silent yet not insignificant interchange. The relentless pressure around Gray's neck eased moderately. Gray gulped air harshly as he tried to fill his heaving lungs.

John Hart began pacing back and forth. "You're not very convincing. We know you're a habitual liar. Why should we believe you?"

With tremendous effort Jack's little brother stilled himself and blinked, "A question of honor."

John halted in mid-step, slowly sheathed his knife, pivoted and peered into Gray's face. Those four words had specific meaning. They had a significance, a history, and deep, deep meaning, "What exactly are you saying?"

"You know exactly what I'm saying."

John scoffed, "Wait, you're telling me you've turned?"

"I have been adrift in brilliant dreams of madness," Gray's voice had gone quiet; his panting breaths almost as loud as his words. "When Jack released me I went back to them, back to those who had come to be my life, my existence, my purpose. Back to the world-eating beings who patrol the threatening emptiness which stretches as far as the imagination can conceive. But everything had become unglued. I spoke to them as I always spoke to them, using sharp, pointy words and unseeable diagrams with the wrong sorts of angles. But for the longest time there was only silence in return. The emptiness… the emptiness took its time answering, and when it finally did answer the loudness of the response drove me stark raving sane."

Gray laughed; it was not hysterical but rather a sad, forlorn sound. "When it finally did come, the response was about Jack. Only and entirely and absolutely about Jack. It turns out that everything has always been about him, the Captain, my brother. I believe Jack knows this undeniable truth already and I think you do, too. I am positive that the Time Lord knows. Everyone knows, yet no one acknowledges. No one speaks. Why did those creatures come to our home world? Why did they take me? Why did they preserve me? Allow me to become their sycophant? Why did they…?" He shut his eyes tightly, as if trying to not look at something dreadful like a car accident in the other lane or a corpse floating on a pond, "Everything has always been about Jack..."

John turned away and resumed his pacing, hands clasped behind his back to keep them from shaking. It sounded almost as if he was talking to himself, his words were so softly spoken, "So you're informing us is that these creatures are out to get Jack?"

"Get Jack?" again the lonely laugh. "They are out to eradicate him from all of time and space."

ONE

After they left Cardiff, John and Wil had spent several luxurious cycles simply enjoying each other's company. Making love, making small talk, and telling stories.

Wil spoke of her childhood, parts of which had been gloriously happy, filled with music and art and the unsurpassable joy of learning. That's not to say her early years weren't complicated, or that much of that time wasn't often difficult. Having been identified at a very early age as an intellectual prodigy, she'd been privately schooled by the best tutors in all of Europe but had few friends or even acquaintances her own age. She was often lonely, left to herself and her books; even adults were intimidated by her precociousness. Still, her parents were social creatures integrated firmly within a radiant University community, and she'd been raised amidst brilliance, amongst the planet's finest academicians and artists, scientists and poets.

Unsurprisingly, John's childhood memories were far different, full of nothing but pain and sadness. Filled with defeat, despair, and not only mind-numbing loneliness but wrenching abandonment. He did not tell happy stories of his youth. He had absolutely none to tell. Those days from before he was discovered by the Time Agency, identified as a likely resource and put through rigorous and often dangerous training were kept hidden – he kept those stories pristinely and perfectly private. Even then, it was not until his training was long since completed and he met the man who'd later take the name of Captain Jack Harkness that John Hart's life would change for the better. It'd been love at first sight for John – the tall, dark, dashing and enigmatic human with the dazzling, hypnotic blue eyes had swept him off his feet. From that point forward John never looked back. It was suddenly so very clear that everything important lay ahead of him and that the past was best left forgotten. The journey forward had indeed been amazing, if at times terrifying, but John regretted none of it – not a single second.

As for the stories John told of his and Jack's Time Agency escapades, some were so outlandish Wil didn't know whether to believe them or not. But it didn't really matter as they left her with tears in her eyes from laughing so hard, and made her adore her handsome, sometimes spooky and always unpredictable lover all the more. She delighted in listening to those tales and he delighted in telling them.

The time passed easily, happily, and much too fast as Wil and John continued to find themselves more and more deeply in love.

Wil traced a finger slowly down John's body. They'd finished their lovemaking and were laying very close to each other, face-to-face on the bed, breathing in each other's scent, the cooling sweat still glistening on their flushed skin. "Your scars," she said, breaking the long, comfortable silence.

He waited a luxurious beat before answering, "What about them?"

"How did you get them?"

He took her hand, kissed it, and then held it to his left breast, above his heart. "I acquired them in more than one place, at more than one time." He frowned slightly, "There are far too many stories…"

Wil narrowed her eyes, shook her head slowly back and forth, "But you told me about a time – a specific time – Jack had to rescue you. When you'd been…" she could hardly say the word, it pained her so much to even think it, "tortured."

He closed his eyes, shivered involuntarily and said nothing.

"Inamorato?" she spoke their special, private term of endearment softly, urging him on.

"No," he said after a long moment, once again looking into her face, into her eyes, and into her soul, "I don't want to relive that tale. Maybe sometime, but not now, not today, not here."

She smiled sadly, "I understand. I'm sorry."

"Don't be. Don't ever be sorry for asking me anything… anything at all," he whispered, pressing her hand more firmly to his chest.

Her smile became less sad, "Well then, answer me this. Are those scars important to you?"

"What do you mean?"

"Are they significant? Do they carry meaning with them? Are they a part of your persona? Your psychology? Your history? Are you proud of them? Fond of them? Are they important?"

He pulled a face, "I don't know. I've never thought about scars in that way. They're just there. Why do you ask?"

"Because I am wondering if you would like to have them removed."

"Removed? How?"

I can remove the cicatrices, Captain Hart. It was Grasshopper. She normally didn't intrude on their personal space, during their private conversations. In fact it was the first time John could remember that the ship had communicated with him while he and Wil were in bed.

John looked at Wil questioningly. Wil nodded in response, "It is true, John, there is a medical procedure, the process has been available to you ever since we met. In fact I almost removed the scars without your permission that first time I saw you… uh… I mean them, after Grasshopper extracted the nanoid com device from the frontal lobe your brain. I was so very tempted to make them go away, even then, before I really knew you, but at the last minute I hesitated, I held back. It didn't seem right to perform the procedure without your approval. I've always known something could be done about them, yet I've been afraid, I guess, of asking you."

"Afraid? Why?"

She shrugged. "I'm thinking scars can be personal. They tell their own stories, don't they? You've implied as much. They are elemental reminders and they are an intimate part of your past, of your history, a past that I am forever separate from. I just wasn't sure… I still don't know…"

He smiled at her and then laughed out loud, "No, my scars are not an integral part of who I am. They do not define me. Nor do the events which created them define me. You're right, they do indeed tell stories… but stories I would probably rather not remember in any great amount of detail. Grasshopper?"

Yes Captain Hart?

"What is this procedure? Tell me about it."

It would be a form of highly advanced laser surgery, Captain Hart. Normally the procedure could be done under local anesthesia, but the areas of fibrous tissues on your body are so extensive that it would be preferable to use general anesthesia. There would be no pain involved and you would be unconscious only for a very brief period of time. The cicatrices would be entirely removed. You would need to take precautions against getting sunburned for a short time afterward, but otherwise your epidermis, dermis and subcutaneous tissues would be totally normal.

"Ah, I see. Grasshopper?"

Yes Captain Hart?

"Are you typically listening to your Teacher's and my pillow talk?"

"No, she's usually not," Wil interceded sharply. "I invited her to participate when I decided it was time to ask about removing your scars."

"Ah," John's eyes were sparkling. Got ya! He let the little white lie pass without further remark. "At any rate, moving on… if it is okay with you I want to put off my decision and think on it a bit. I'll get back to you on your most kind and generous offer. That is assuming there's no expiration date and if you don't mind?"

Wil, knowing full well she'd been caught in an untruth, shook her head and replied in a small voice, "No and no. I don't mind. Whatever you want."

Once again he brought her hand to his lips, gently kissing each of her fingers. "And what do you want, my inamorata?"

"What do I want?"

"Yes, you. Tell me what your heart desires."

She thought for a long minute, "I want to go back to Orolo."

"Orolo?" Not the answer he'd been expecting, not even close to it, he was suddenly mystified.

"Orolo. Yes. I want to go see Crade."

John took a deep breath and held it for a second or two, thinking of a million questions but asking not a single one, "Your wish is my command, M'Lady."