Those Who Wait

Captain Jack Harkness was in awe. Never had he seen anything so beautiful in his life- and that was saying something! He tentatively reached out his hand to touch, to caress, to study.

The myth of the Pandorica, the mysteries surrounding its existence, intrigued Jack ever since he first heard about it. He was very jealous when he found out that Torchwood was sending out a team that did not include himself as a member to retrieve it. He found out from Ryan, who not only did get to tag along on the mission, but who also had deep blue eyes and a square jaw, that the box was now being held in one of Torchwood's storage facilities. After suavely achieving possession of a pass to gain entrance into said storage facility through a shapely brunette named Marie, Captain Jack Harkness wasted no time in searching for the ancient box of lore.

Jack stood before the Pandorica, falling silent. There was something about it that seemed so significant that for a moment he could only stand there, taking it all in. Suddenly, as though he had no control over his body, his hand reached out to touch it. The metal exterior was warmer than he would have thought it should be in a dark, dank warehouse.

"Stay away from there," came a voice that made Jack nearly jump out of his shoes.

Jack turned around swiftly. Out of the darkness stepped a scrawny young man dressed as a Roman soldier. Jack knew it was a Roman soldier because he had met plenty of them; the memories caused a faint smile to pass over his lips.

The Centurion, misunderstanding the smirk, said, "I... I mean it. Don't go near the box. And don't try to open it; it will only open when it's ready."

"I'm used to waiting," said Jack.

"So am I," said the mysterious figure.

They stared at each other in silence for a moment, each taking the other in. "So," Jack finally said. "What's with the outfit? Not that I have anything against it; you have lovely legs."

The Centurion shifted a bit uneasily, but did not back away. "I don't have any other clothes."

"Well," said Jack. "The look suits you."

"Who... who are you?" the man asked.

"Captain Jack Harkness," he said, flashing a smile. "And who are you?"

"I'm Ror... I'm the Centurion, Lone Protector of the Pandorica," he said, standing taller to make himself seem important and imposing.

"You don't say," said Jack, giving the man a once over. "What kind of money does a job like that pay?"

"I don't do it for the pay..." the Centurion answered, almost whispering.

"What do you do it for, then?" asked Jack. Having heard many stories over the years relating to the Pandorica, he knew that part of the myth was of the Lone Centurion, who faithfully guarded over the box. But he was surprised to actually meet the man in person. Even if the Centurion had been real, a part of the truth from which the original story stemmed, Jack had supposed he would have died a natural death many centuries ago. After all, fixed points in time don't happen every day.

"I do it because I made a promise many, many years ago," the Centurion answered. "And that's all you need to know about me. Except for the fact that if you try to open the box before it's time, I will take no hesitance in killing you."

Jack let out a small laugh. "Good luck with that," he said. And even if it were possible for himself to finally die, one look at the meek, scrawny guy standing before him, and Jack knew how empty of a threat it actually was.

"But speaking of death," Jack suddenly said. "The myth of the Centurion has been around for ages. How can you be here? Is it, like, a title passed on from generation to generation? Or is it like they say: a curse cast upon you?"

"Some have called it a blessing..." the Centurion retorted, which caused Jack to frown.

"What do you call it, though?" Jack asked.

"A ridiculous miracle," he answered, not even pausing. It was as though he had thought about this very subject many times before.

Jack eyed the Centurion carefully. He then looked away, and took the moment to look back at the box. "So," Jack said. "The Pandorica will only open when it's ready. Do you even know when that will be?"

"I don't even know what year it is," the other man admitted.

"1914," said Jack.

"World War I..." the Centurion murmured. But it was still loud enough for Jack to hear.

"Wait," he said. "How do you know about WWI?"

"How do you?"

They now both stared at each other again, but this time out of mutual shock and suspicion. The tension made Jack consider that the setting would be more apropos if they were standing outside a saloon with a tumbleweed floating past like in an old western film.

"You first," said the Centurion.

"I'm a time traveler," Jack said, bluntly. "You?"

"Same."

"Time Agent?" asked Jack, raising his eyebrow in interest.

"Time what?" asked the Centurion.

"Never mind," said Jack. "But then how'd you end up here?"

The Centurion gave a reluctant sigh, his thoughts preparing on how best to explain his situation. "That's a long story. But I suppose it all started when my girlfriend met this guy called 'the Doctor.' They met when she was-"

"The Doctor!" Jack immediately interrupted, anxious to grasp onto any information pertaining to the man whom he spent the last several decades in search of.

"Yeah," he said. "Do you know him?"

"Where is he?" Jack asked.

"Don't know," he said. "I'm waiting for him to show up again."

"Good luck with that," Jack scoffed.

"He promised," he said. "He was going to take me with him, but I chose to stay and wait for him. He used some wristband thing to travel two thousand years ahead when he left me."

If Jack hadn't been so flustered right then, he would have wondered why the Doctor hadn't traveled by TARDIS. Instead, however, he asked, "Wristband? Do you mean a Vortex Manipulator?" Jack then lifted his sleeve to reveal his own, albeit broken, time travel device.

"Oh yeah," said the Centurion. "You got one, too."

"Listen to me," said Jack, raising one hand up in the direction of the Centurion in order to convey his seriousness. "I have a very important question to ask you: what did the Doctor look like when you last saw him?"

"Like he usually does," the Centurion said. "Only with a fez."

"Please," said Jack. "Describe him to me."

"Well," the man said. "You said you've met him before, right? So you must know what he's like."

"It's complicated," said Jack. "Just indulge me."

"I dunno," he said. "Dark hair, short, wears a tweed jacket, bow tie, highly energetic, tends to ramble a lot..."

"Damn," Jack muttered. Not his Doctor; he still had to wait.

"So how do you know him, then?" the Centurion asked.

"I used to travel with him, too," Jack said. "A long time ago."

"It seems ages since I traveled with him myself," the other man said.

"So," said Jack. "Is your name really just 'The Centurion?'"

"Actually," he said. "It's Rory Williams."

"Well, Rory Williams," Jack said. "It was nice to meet you." Jack then turned and began to walk away.

"Wait!" Rory called out, causing Jack to turn around again. "Where are you going?"

"I have to report back to work," Jack explained. "They might be wondering where I got off to, and I'm not exactly supposed to be here."

"Oh," said Rory.

"Oh?"

"I mean, it can get pretty lonely guarding over this box," Rory explained. "I don't usually have anyone to talk to."

"You still never told me what was inside," said Jack, nodding toward the Pandorica.

"The most important thing in the entire universe," Rory said, also turned toward the Pandorica.

"Yeah," said Jack, sarcastically. "That explains everything..."

"I can't," Rory sighed. "I mean, nothing against you. I'm sure you're a perfectly nice bloke and all, but I don't know who to trust. I don't know if you'll accidentally say something to someone..."

"It's all right," said Jack. "I get it. We all just have to sit patiently on the sidelines, making sure not to get in the way while the Doctor saves the day. Not that it wasn't fun to watch, but I was never a sidelines kind of guy."

"All my life, I've been a sidelines kind of guy," said Rory, furrowing his brow slightly. "I think it even sums up my entire personage. Rory Williams: the guy who waited. How pathetic is that?"

"I guess that really just depends on what you're waiting for," shrugged Jack. "Look, I got to get going now. First I have to pop back in quickly at the office, then I got to a date with a fiery red head." He then winked at Rory and extended his hand. "It was nice to meet you Rory Williams."

"You too, mate," said Rory, shaking Jack's hand. Jack turned to leave again, this time for real.

After Jack left the warehouse, he thought about the strange man whom he just met. He didn't learn anything new about the Pandorica, except that the Doctor was involved somehow. But really, why was that so surprising? And Rory Williams seemed a pretty nice guy. Perhaps he'd try to visit Rory again soon. After all, Jack knew a lot about what it meant to wait, and how lonely it could be. It would be nice to have someone to talk to and confide with, someone who could understand on their own unique level what you were going through and to provide some perspective.

"Yes, that would be nice," Jack thought, smiling to himself. "And Rory really does have gorgeous legs..."