Pairings: Jack/Multiple partners (OMCs, OFCs, Dead!wife, Estelle, etc)
Notes: Inspiration from fics by laurab1 and secondsilk. Spoilers for series 1 & 2. Beta by beta_goddess, rose_cat a/k/a Rosie The Tiger, and _tallian_.
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Summary: 1953. Jack is still Jack. Torchwood is not amused.
Jack woke up in a jail cell that had become far too familiar over the years. His bruises had already healed and the memories of the night before were just clear enough to account for the glare from his superior.
Grafton had transferred from Torchwood One after the war, and Jack knew he was among the Torchwood hierarchy who considered him a necessary evil, emphasis on the evil. Today he might have a point.
Jack briefly struggled for the name of the man he’d been with, before giving it up with a vague wave. James, John, or Jarvis. It was probably a lie anyway.
“Still in hospital. The doctors are doing their best, but there were several kicks to the head once he was on the floor.”
Bastards, Jack thought in several languages.
Grafton was still giving him a look comprised of both sympathy and disgust.
“For god’s sake, Harkness. It’s the third time this year.”
This year. Nineteen fifty-three. The war was over, rock and roll was still three years in the future and the Rift wasn’t providing nearly enough excitement, leading Jack to places where he was destined to get into trouble and take others with him.
Even on his home planet, he’d always been considered a bit extreme, ever since it was discovered that his first lovers were the boy and girl next door. Since then, he’d always gone after whatever he wasn’t supposed to have. That certainly hadn’t changed in his long life on Earth.
When women were corseted and practically cloistered, he’d found himself pursuing them, even though the mores of the day, if not the law, were more likely to turn a blind eye to his activities with men.
With post-war morality dropping its own Iron Curtain of gloom over the United Kingdom, Jack spent large chunks of his free time in the cinemas where men met in the darkness. He knew how to be discreet, using his coat to shield what was happening in the theatre or a nearby alleyway; the problem was not wanting to be discreet.
The Doctor was still at least fifty years away, and there were days when the furtive, forbidden sex wasn’t enough. He’d grown tired of seeing good men hate themselves for what they were.
“It’ll be okay,” he’d coax, using his own self-confidence to convince them that there was nothing to be ashamed of and the next thing you know, some poor fellow who’d spent a lifetime in the shadows would be in a pub providing a display of affection that wouldn’t raise an eyebrow in Jack’s time, but had nearly inevitable results in this one.
“Consequences, Jack. Do you understand?”
He did, theoretically.
Torchwood would be in the position of having to Retcon a whole pub or leave a man’s reputation shattered, if he actually survived the beating.
For Jack, the only residual effect was more guilt for what he’d caused, and more anger toward the Doctor for leaving him like this, where he couldn’t even suffer his punishment like a man. He’d never cared for his reputation on this or any other planet, and by now the Cad of Cardiff had been a well-tended myth for over fifty years.
“I’m sorry,” he muttered, meaning it, but not in the way he wanted Grafton to think he did. “Can we leave now?”
“Not yet. Before we get you out of here, Torchwood has certain conditions.”
Jack pulled himself to his feet, feeling the need for a defensive stance. Silly reflex, but he knew whatever Torchwood wanted, he wouldn’t like it any more than the other conditions they’d attempted to impose on him over the years.
“We’d like you to get married.”
“Oh, no!” he said, emphatically.
He’d done that once and he’d basically destroyed a good woman in the process. Jessica had been a transcriptionist for Torchwood. She’d said that she understood. All of it. The men, the women, the fact that he wasn’t going to die. They’d started out laughing and dancing and ended up with her constantly sewing curtains, as if she could keep him to herself with the right dressing on the windows.
The assignment to track down the Night Visitors was a chance to get away, give her the opportunity to find a life without him, but he’d come home to find her still there, still sewing, looking like she’d aged far more than the two years he’d been gone.
“How many, Jack?” had been the first words out of her mouth and his willingness to show her exactly what he’d learned from those two acrobats only made things better for a few hours, until she had time to think about exactly where and how he’d picked up those tricks.
They stayed together until she died, because it was what people did, and Jack had promised himself at her grave that he would never do it again.
That was why he’d left Estelle.
If there was true love to be had on this planet, he’d had it with Estelle, holding hands and kissing, and never asking her to go to bed because he knew if he did, he’d never be able to walk away, and he just couldn’t do that to her.
It still hurt. Part of him wanted to believe it wasn’t too late. He knew where she was. He could show up. Sweep her away, make love to her the way he’d always wanted to.
And then what, Jack? Five years? Five days? Five minutes before you’re looking for someone else?
He could try. For Estelle he would try. And for Estelle trying wasn’t good enough.
Still a coward, he thought, wishing the Doctor were there to tell him he’d done the right thing and was doing it now.
“No,” he repeated, making sure Grafton had gotten the message. This was a game anyway. They couldn’t very well leave him here indefinitely.
“I thought you might say that.”
“Then give the guards the pass code and let’s get out of here.”
“Not just yet. I told them you’d never agree to a marriage, so there is a counterproposal.”
Grafton wasn’t smiling, but there was just enough of a glint in those green eyes for Jack to think he’d at least noticed the pun. Or maybe he was just enjoying seeing Jack behind bars. He’d wondered about Grafton. Why does a man move to Cardiff without his wife and children and still manage to deflect every pass Jack had made at him? It didn’t make any sense.
“At the very least, in the name of Torchwood’s mission, would you consider restricting your activities to Torchwood personnel?”
Amusement had given way to embarrassment, as well it should, considering he was essentially offering his co-workers and possibly himself as sexual distractions to keep Jack from creating disturbances that would reflect negatively on Torchwood. As opposed to the cold-blooded murders everyone knows we commit “in defence of the Empire”, Jack thought bitterly.
It wasn’t as though he hadn’t screwed his way through a half-century of his fellow alien hunters, starting with Alice and Emily, but the option to reach out and take his pick had never been offered quite so blatantly.
“Any personnel I choose?” he asked pointedly with a look that Grafton couldn’t fail to understand. Who’d have known a square-jawed army man who’d served with the Second Armoured Division in Egypt could blush quite so profusely?.
The new arrangement might be enough fun to keep him busy, at least until the late sixties arrived. In fact, this could be the leverage he’d been looking for all along.
“I’ll need to make sure that all new employees meet my standards.”
“You’ll be given complete veto power over all hires to Torchwood Three. Effective immediately.”
Within minutes he was outside, breathing in the dank chill of a Cardiff night.
Grafton had brought the car, a top-of-the-line Austin-Healey, and for once, Jack was eager to get to work. Potential recruits to investigate. He wasn’t honestly going to try to force Grafton into anything, but he was more convinced than ever that forcing wouldn’t be necessary. He was Jack Harkness, after all, and being that had finally gotten him the one thing he most wanted aside from the Doctor: the chance to rebuild Torchwood.