Jack was tired. He'd found an ex-Time Agent in a bar who had fixed his Vortex Manipulator, and since then he'd been bar hopping through time and space, trying his damnedest to drown out every experience he'd ever had on Earth with hyper vodkas and Gorrekian whiskey. He couldn't even keep count of how many times a barkeep had dragged him into a corner to sleep it off or tossed him into the street. He had no idea how many days he'd lost, how many hangovers he'd suffered. He just knew that it would never be enough, never enough penance for the things he'd done to the people he loved, whatever time or place they may have come from.

He was tired, and the cruiser he'd been on had tossed him onto a planet that was clean and sober after he'd gotten into one too many rowdy drunken fights. At first he'd been furious that he was on this pale planet where no booze or drugs or anything intoxicating were available. He'd collapsed from dehydration and alcohol poisoning a few minutes later. Someone had rather kindly dragged him off the street. He'd slept it off for a few days in some nice fancy white hotel that he hated, but now he wanted to go elsewhere. He never stayed in one place too long, for fear he'd get attached. And he never stayed in a nice, lush place like this. He didn't deserve it.

He set his Vortex Manipulator coordinates to random, something he used to do when he was bored back when he had just broken away from the Time Agency. He took a deep breath and pressed the button.

He landed on his feet on unstable ground, and crumpled to his knees in the rubble. He took a moment to stare at the dirt in front of him as he rubbed his throbbing temples and worked the kinks from his body. Then he stood, looking around him at whatever new place the Vortex had chosen for him, ready to explore. And stopped.

He knew where he was. He'd only spent a few months in this exact location, but he'd lived this time twice over. He took a deep breath, shuddering as he recognized the cold dark shapes overheard. His hand reached toward his wrist.

"Jack! Old boy, where you been?"

He turned, glad he'd kept his coat. He recognized Grahame, a young man he'd been introduced to by Algy. He'd only talked to the boy once or twice, but he'd liked him.

"Grahame, hi." His voice echoed in the still night. People were afraid in this time period, he remembered. People were always afraid, but this time, it was enough to make the silence heavy.

"The boys are going out later tonight, if you wanna come. There's this fantastic girl singing. Thought you might want to check her out."

"Not tonight. Listen, I-I gotta go. I'll see you in a few hours. Tell the boys I'll catch up."

He jogged away from his former colleague. When he could no longer see Grahame, he slowed to a walk, staring up at the lights in the sky as he strode down an ally. He remembered the last time he was here, he'd do that, staring at the lights shielding the stars from his view.

"Oof!"

"Hey, watch where you're—"

They stared at each other for a moment. Then his younger self seemed to snap out of it.

"Well, obviously you're me from a later time. I've got a doppelganger hanging around! Great. Jeez, do I really look like that? Still with the coat?"

"Hey, I like this coat. Spent a lot of time with it."

"How much older?"

"You don't want to know."

"Try me."

"Let's just say, I'm looking damn good for the age I am."

"Okay…"

"Timelines. You know." Then Jack thought about it, watching his oblivious, carefree younger self peer at him. Timelines. Fuck timelines. The Doctor couldn't do anything to him, really. Couldn't kill him, wouldn't lock him up, wouldn't go back and fix things for fear of mucking it up even more. To hell with timelines.

He interrupted his younger self as he was about to speak.

"Listen. I need you to remember something, okay?"

"How do I know you're not some sort of alien trick?"

"Your brother's name is Gray. You lost him when the Peninsula was attacked. You won the Rear of the Year award in 5094. You worked for the Time Agency and you and your partner were stuck in a Time Loop for five years. He was the good wife."

"Okay, okay. What do you want to tell me?"

"Just remember this, okay. Write it down, put it in the Vortex Manipulator, memorize it, I don't care. Just remember it." He took his younger self by the shoulders and looked into his own eyes. Somehow he could feel this memory inside of him now, remembered how old and pained and forlorn his eyes had looked to his younger self, how he had been compelled to listen just from staring into their aching depths. "2009. Thames House. Leave Ianto in the warehouse."


I won't be writing a sequel to this, as it was meant as a oneshot for the prompt "doppleganger." However, if any of you feel compelled to write a sequel, credit me and message me to let me know so that I can read it when you're done!