Disclaimer: All recognisable characters belong to the BBC and/or Starz.
Author's Note: This is only a short snippety bit – it was initially the introductory chapter to a much longer COE fix-it fic which when I get some kind of muse back might materialise in the future. In the meantime hope you enjoy...
The barman wasn't sure how long the man had been here, propping up his establishment, but judging by the trifling amount left in the bottle of Nebalian Stormwater he could guess that he wouldn't be hear much longer. Not conscious anyway.
The bar was a haven for all the down and outs of this sector of the solar system, and the owner had seen all sorts of people sat in the same seat, and yet somehow this man looked completely out of place. It was hard to put his finger on why he didn't quite fit in. Perhaps it was that he was slightly too well dressed in his long military coat, or slightly too well groomed with his clean shaven face and well styled hair or perhaps it was just that he was slightly too handsome when you compared him to the ruffians who drank either side of him. The more the barman studied him, the more it came to him that it was none of those reasons; what set him truly apart was the look on the man's face. He was not angry, nor raucous, he hadn't tried to flirt with the servers, and didn't brag about the latest haul he had smuggled from the next solar system; instead he sat in silence, staring into his drink with lines of sorrow etched into his face.
"Can I get you anything?" the bartender asked gruffly. He didn't really expect an answer, let alone for his questioning gaze to be met by a bloodshot, piercing gaze from blue, sorrow filled eyes.
"I doubt it." The man's voice was deep and shot through with an accent he recognised as being from Earth, "Unless you do a sideline in resurrections."
The barman shook his head, and considered the question. He knew the man was drunk, but politeness cost him nothing, and it was a quiet afternoon. All he had to do was wash the glasses, and he was happy to prolong that for as long as possible.
"Resurrections, eh?" he mused, "Funny you should mention that, had a bloke in here not a year since, moaning about how he'd lost a glove that he claimed raised the dead. Never knew if he was lying or not, but it was an interesting change from gold and jewels."
He wasn't expecting the strangled half sob, half laugh that burst out of the customer before him. It was a noise that spoke of sorrow, and regret, amusement and happy memories. The barman was astounded at how much feeling the wordless sound conveyed.
"The Risen Mitten," the stranger murmured, "It wasn't all it was cracked up to be."
The barman stifled a chuckle.
"Not surprised with a name like that, sir." He commented.
"Jack," the man said abruptly, any hint of amusement draining away as quickly as it arrived, leaving behind only crushing grief. "Not sir. Just Jack." He paused, and took another swig from the bottle, gasping slightly as the bitter taste assaulted his taste buds. "The Risen Mitten, The Life Knife, The Stun Gun... he wasn't all that great at naming things." He lifted his bottle, in a silent toast, "not that it matters now. He's gone, like the rest of them."
Without warning, tears began to slide down the man's cheeks, splashing unheeded to the bar. This made a change for the bartender; usually he cleaned up blood, sweat, piss, vomit and other bodily substances he didn't want to think too closely about. Saddening as it was, he was forced to admit that he preferred the tears, at least they didn't smell.
"And you want him back?" he asked, gently, unsure of what else to say.
Another strangled sob.
"Want him back? I'd move heaven and earth and time to get him out of that room and not to have to... watch... kiss him while he... but I can't! I can't because of bloody PARADOXES!" he slammed his glass down so hard on his final word that the barman feared that it would shatter. As quickly as he had angered the man calmed.
"I can't bring them back," he whispered sadly, "any of them, no matter how much I... how much..." his voice broke, "how much I loved them."
He dropped his head into his arms, his shoulders shaking with the sobs he was battling to repress. The bartender shook his head slowly in concern, wondering whether it would be supportive or condescending to pat the man on the shoulder. Customers crying on the bar wasn't good for business, put the other customers right off their drinks. Set them all off thinking of their own sorrows, their own families and put them right off their ales and sent them running for the nearest commlink. He would have to try and perk him up a bit.
"You know," he began, his voice full of mystery, trying to pull the sobbing man into conversation, "I once heard tales of a man who couldn't ever die, every time someone tried he'd wake up again, right as rain. Some kind of immortal he must have been. They called him the Captain, I think."
That strange sound again, halfway between a laugh and a sob. The man looked up, a wry smile, incongruous against the sorrow in his eyes, twisted his face into a bizarre mass of conflicted emotions.
He held out his hand.
"Captain Jack Harkness, pleased to meet you."