Carpe Diem

"I'm a time traveller."

Ethan smiled encouragingly into the handsome face across from him. "You don't say," he murmured. "That's very interesting."

Confusion replaced the friendly look he'd been admiring in a detached way for the last fifteen minutes. Good. He liked confusion.

"That's ... not the usual reaction I get when I tell people I'm a chartered accountant."

Ethan carried on smiling. "I'm sure it isn't." He raised his eyebrows expectantly, waiting for the man to put the pieces together. It took a little while longer than he'd expected. Pretty but dim? He hadn't thought so when he'd allowed himself to be picked up by him. No; he'd been right. Jack, I hesitated just enough before saying my name to make Ethan cast a truth spell, Harkness swallowed and then sat back in his chair, glancing around the crowded pub with a rueful smile all ready to go.

"What did I say instead? Because, you know, I've had a lot to drink tonight and you're making me kinda nervous." Jack leaned forward, one tanned, strong hand covering Ethan's in what felt like a very well-planned move. "Tell me we'll be spending tonight -- well, a few hours of it at least -- together and watch me relax." He grinned, perfect white teeth on show. "It's the not knowing if I've gotten lucky that gets me every time."

"I can't imagine many people turn you down," Ethan told him, for once speaking no more than the truth. Pretty, he could walk by; charm he could do without, having plenty of his own, but this man had enough trickster in him to offset the tedious predictability of an engaging smile and warmly sparkling eyes.

"Yes, and see that? Right there?" Jack spread his hands expansively and Ethan surreptitiously checked that his watch was still on his wrist. It wasn't. "That's my problem. I'm not used to failure, but in a statistical universe --"

"Which you'd know all about, being an accountant," Ethan interrupted snidely.

"Naturally," Jack said. "As I was saying -- it's got to happen one day. One day I'll meet a man -- or a woman -- or a -- never mind. And they'll say 'no' --" His nose crinkled rather fetchingly as he screwed up his face in anguish. "And I can't relax until I'm certain you're not the one."

"Or that I am," Ethan pointed out. "That would be just as good, wouldn't it?"

Jack frowned. "I wouldn't get to have sex with you then, so, no, it wouldn't."

"I'm flattered. Not very; well, not much at all, really, but enough that I'll spare you that fleeting second of sadness." Ethan studied him. Brash, cocky, fly-boy type. He could have him kneeling obediently without lifting more than a questioning eyebrow or using a more complicated magic than a simple 'please' tacked onto an order. Didn't mean that he would but it was a pleasant enough thought to warm his gaze as he met Jack's eyes and said. "How do you travel in time, then? A spell? A charm? Do tell, as we're going to get chummy later."

Jack blustered of course and fairly convincingly, but with a spell tying his tongue in a tangle he couldn't actually lie. Finally he took out a card and slammed it down on the table. "My business card, Ethan. Christ, I could understand it if I'd told you I was an astronaut or something, but why would I tell you I was in one of the most boring jobs known to man, if it wasn't true?"

Ethan looked at the card without touching it. "To stop me asking questions you couldn't be bothered to answer?" he asked mildly. "What's your name?"

"Captain Jack Harkness."

"Ah, so that was the missing bit," Ethan said. "I did wonder. Captain in what?"

"The Time -- why am I telling you this?"

"If it's any consolation, you're resisting me slightly," Ethan said. "Good for you, except not really, as I want the truth and the other ways I could get it aren't nearly so painless." He pulled a sympathetic face. "Poor you."

"Look at my card," Jack said through clenched teeth.

"The card that gives me one of your vital statistics and an illustration to back it up?" Ethan flicked the card back at Jack contemptuously. "I've seen bigger and, trust me, it's not always better." He pursed his lips. "And no, that's not sour grapes."

"How are you doing this?" Jack demanded after one cursory glance of confirmation into Ethan's lap where reasonably tight trousers were doing a good enough job of backing up his words. Cheeky brat.


Jack sneered quite well for someone who smiled so much. "Sorry. I don't believe in magic. Along with a few other things, like a perfectly mixed martini and long goodbyes. Speaking of which --"

"Let me channel one of those tiresome religious types and tell you that you might not believe in it, but it believes in you," Ethan said. "Which is why, despite you being such a naughty unbeliever, you're going to find it impossible to stand up and walk back to your -- where are you staying, by the way? Or was my seduction, swift and hopefully ecstatic for both of us, to have taken place on my sheets to save you even the small inconvenience of tidying up after yourself?"

"I sleep on board my ship and yeah, got that right, Ethan. I wasn't planning on inviting a twentieth-century ape on board."

"A space ship?" Ethan murmured, entranced by the idea and filing the insult away to marinade in pique. "Well, I can't imagine why we're still in this tedious hostelry, can you?"

He stood up and Jack stood too. "It's your lucky night," Ethan said, patting Jack's face fondly. "You get a guaranteed stress-free fuck, if you still want it when we're done, and I promise I won't be angry that you lied to me when we met."

Not that he ever had been, not really. There was something delightfully chaotic about a lie after all.

"Does it have a name?" he asked chattily as they left. "Oh, I do hope so..."

Jack stopped at the end of an alley and did ... something that didn't work.

"Why can't I use the transport beam?"

"Is that a pout? How sweet. Because you're trying to leave me behind and I don't want you to," Ethan said absently. "Transport to where?"

Jack stared up at the night-time sky. "My ship. She's directly overhead."

Ethan didn't take his eyes off Jack. "Oh dear. Looks like you left the keys in and someone stole it."

"It's invisible."

"And you say you don't believe in magic?" Ethan shook his head. "I don't have time for this, you know."

Jack grinned. "Yeah. You do."

Ethan blinked. He was on a spaceship. Cramped, but even so...

"All the time in the world." A gun appeared in Jack's hand. "Until you die, but, hey, you look like a man who makes the most of life, am I right?" He sighed. "Sorry about this."

"Trust me, if you pull that, you will be," Ethan told him.

Jack did it anyway.

It took Jack thirty seconds to stop whimpering from the pain of a sprained finger and a lot longer to stop swearing. Ethan let him do both, showing, he thought, a remarkable restraint considering how close he'd come to being --

"What would that gun have done to me? If the spell hadn't forced your hand to jerk up and -"

"Blow a hole in the cupboard where I keep the vodka?" Jack shook his head sadly, staring at the shattered glass in the corner. "You'd be dead and I'd be able to have a drink to celebrate. Look, I've had enough of this. Enough of spells and people who invite themselves onto spaceships when that was never going to be part of the entertainment, trust me. What the hell is going on?"

"I think it's time we moved to negotiations, don't you?" Ethan said hastily. There was an edge to Jack's voice and he was clearly someone who was prone to rash actions. Best not to push the man too far... He glanced around, looking for somewhere to sit and for want of anything else chose the bed. There wasn't much else to choose from; Jack was in the captain's chair and didn't show any signs of moving from it.

A wary but interested look replaced the sulky pout. "Could do. What did you have in mind?"

Ethan settled down on the bed and then winced as something dug into his thigh. It turned out to be a pair of cuffs, lacking a connecting link but with their function clear. Jack's expression didn't alter when Ethan gave him an amused smirk which earned him a few brownie points.

"Oh, quite a bit, actually, but let's start with the spell, as you asked so nicely."

"Yeah," Jack said, his eyes narrowing. "Let's. I'm still not buying that, you know. Hypnosis, drugs -- c'mon; you can tell me; what was it? It's still too early for you to have any of the common mind control drugs and I'm immune to all the known ones anyway; perk of my old job, so what was it?"

"It was magic," Ethan said. "Pure and simple. Dear me, what a poor choice of words." Jack looked unconvinced and Ethan sighed. "I slipped something in your drink, yes. You were raising more than my interest, you see, and I'm a cautious chap at heart. Hard to believe, I know, but I've got enemies."

"The list got longer about half an hour ago," Jack said.

Ethan blew him a kiss. "You don't mean that, but I'll allow you a certain amount of chagrin. The various ingredients wouldn't do much by themselves; I'll give you the recipe if you like, but when I jazz them up with an incantation and more than a little native talent, well, the effects can be quite amusing."

"Didn't see you whipping out your magic wand in the pub," Jack said. "I think I'd have noticed that."

"It has been known to happen in public but let's keep the details of my gloriously sordid past out of this, shall we?"

"You're funny," Jack said bitterly. "See? I'm laughing."

"The potion's something I carry with me," Ethan told him, losing his patience. "As I said; I have enemies. It's --" He hesitated. It was a mild version of a slave spell, but he didn't intend to share that particular piece of information. People tended to overreact to that word, he'd found. "It will wear off by tomorrow and if you hadn't told me what you are, I promise I wouldn't have used it to compel you to do anything you hadn't already planned to do. To sum it up, you can't lie and you can't hurt me, or... thwart me." Ethan waved his hand dismissively. "I think you can see for yourself just how harmless it is; you just tried to kill me and got no more than a slap on the wrist." He let Jack see a hint of a snarl. "Do that again and it'll be more than a slap and it won't be your wrist that's smarting."

Jack rolled his eyes. "We can do that later," he said. "Fine; I'll take your word for it that you've dosed me up with something, but for the sake of my sanity, can we just agree that you drugged me and not mention the m word again?"

"For a man with a time machine, you're remarkably set in your ways," Ethan said. He looked around him. "This ship leads me to believe that you're not from here and now?"

"51st century," Jack said casually. "Born on a little planet called -- well, you won't have been there."

"But you're human?" Ethan asked curiously, tucking away his reaction to that little piece of information be dealt with later.

"As much as you," Jack said.

"And you're here? Why?"

"My business," Jack said shortly. His eyes gleamed in triumph. "Guess it's wearing off, old man."

"No; it allows you to dance around the truth. It doesn't matter anyway; you're working for me now."

Jack straightened abruptly and walked over to Ethan, leaning over him and getting in close. "I'm freelance. Want me to spell that for you? I don't work for anyone but myself. Got it?"

Ethan stared up, unmoved, into a face anger made even more attractive than a smile. To him, at least. "No. I need what you can do and I'll make it worth your while, but I'm really not giving you any choice." He smiled. "Do stop looming over me and glowering like that; you look adorable but I've other fish to tickle now."

Jack grinned suddenly. "You're lying on my bed," he said. "It's distracting me. One kiss and then you can tell me just what you want me to do?"

There was a cheerful insinuation in his voice that left Ethan in no doubt about what was being offered. He felt a flicker of suspicion, but Jack's tongue slid slowly over his lip and Ethan shrugged. Why not?

"One kiss," he agreed.

The click of the cuff around his wrist was unexpected but Jack did at least finish the kiss before sitting back and fastening the second cuff on himself.

"Nice," he remarked. "If we come out of this alive, let's do that again and do it naked."

Ethan stared sourly at the cuff. "Tell me what they do," he said. "I can tell you're dying to."

Jack beamed. "They mean you can't leave my side without getting zapped," he said. "Fatally. And because I don't plan to let you get away, I guess the 'spell' --" Jack's gesture was eloquent. Air quotes had survived? Ethan sighed. Might have known it. " --didn't trigger."

"And you want us to stay close, because?" Ethan asked.

Jack shook his head. "You really don't get it, do you?"

"Enlighten me," Ethan said tightly.

Jack's face lost a layer or two of the boyish charm. "One; I want that drug. Could come in handy. You're not the only one with enemies. Two; I still don't know what you want me to do and I'm curious. It's a failing of mine, I know. But mostly... when this wears off, I want you where I can get my hands on you."

"Ah." Ethan tried a smile. "We're back to the getting naked together, are we?"

Jack smiled engagingly. "Go a bit further back. To the part where I tried to kill you."

"You picked me up," Ethan said indignantly. "It's not my fault if you can't spot a Chaos Mage when you see one. I'm just doing what comes naturally."

"So am I," Jack said. "Computer; gin and tonic whenever you're ready." He plucked a glass brimming with ice and sporting one perfect slice of lemon from thin air and raised it in a toast. "To revenge and retribution."

"You know, we could have been such good friends," Ethan told him wistfully.

Jack studied him thoughtfully and then shook his head. "Sorry. Second chances aren't a specialty of mine."

"And yet you can travel in time," Ethan said making no effort at all to keep his impatience from showing. "Which means second chances -- and third, and fourth -- are your stock-in-trade. Or are you going to bore me with some tripe about not meddling with the past, because of consequences too dire to comprehend?"

"They can be," Jack said, leaning back on his elbow. "Dire, I mean. Which is why it's something best left to a trained professional."

"Like you?"

"Actually, yes," Jack said shortly, his face clouding over. "Or I was." He balanced his glass on the bed and fished out the lemon slice. "And whatever you want to do, I'm going to take a wild guess and say it's on the forbidden list because, no offence, you look like that kinda guy." He bit down on the lemon, sucking at it and shuddering slightly at the sourness.

"How perceptive and astute of you," Ethan said. "No offence taken, I assure you." He ran his finger around the metal of the cuff. "How far can we be apart before it triggers?"

Jack smiled at him. "Take a walk and find out," he suggested.

"You know, even allowing for your understandable pique at being outsmarted by a primitive ape like me, you're getting a little tedious," Ethan told him. "Could we call a truce, do you think?"


"Short and sweet."

"There's nothing short about me and I'm not feeling all that sweet on you right now," Jack said tersely. "You found out about the time travel and your eyes lit up like you'd hit the jackpot; why?"

Ethan pushed a pillow behind his head and stretched out his legs, deliberately drawing Jack's gaze. "There are certain points in everyone's life that are pivotal. Oh, you can make a case for every decision being potentially significant, no matter how trivial, but I'm talking about the ones that stand out; the ones that scream, 'change me and all will be well'."

"Nexus points," Jack said, nodding his head. "Very tricky to deal with. Let me guess --"

"You don't have to guess," Ethan said sharply. "I'm telling you. Something happened, something bad. Someone died, and although that was regrettable, I can live with his death."

"Bet he can't," Jack murmured. "Not exactly full of sympathy, are you? Or was he one of those enemies of yours?"

"No; he was a friend. Quite a close one, as it happens," Ethan admitted.

"And you wonder why I'm not rushing to be your pal," Jack said.

"Would you not make assumptions?" Ethan said wearily. "Randall -- the man who died -- yes, I grieved. A little. But we all die, and he knew the risks."

"Of what?"

"We were -- experimenting," Ethan said, choosing his words carefully.

"Now that sounds safe," Jack said sarcastically. "What with? More drugs?"

"They were involved, yes, but --" Ethan sighed and divulged a little more than he ever had. "We raised a demon. For kicks. It possessed us in turn and he didn't control it well enough. It -- I don't think you need to know the details. Even now, a decade later, they rather turn my stomach."

"You really don't give up, do you?" Jack said. "Magic, spells, demons... Did anyone ever tell you that you're insane?" He stood up. "You know, forget it. I'm done with what I came here for; I was just celebrating with a drink, and you looked like you'd be fun to sleep with. I'll take off the cuffs, send you back down, and we'll call it quits."

"No," Ethan said stubbornly. "You can certainly take off the cuffs, but I forbid you to send me anywhere until we've done what I want." He smirked. "I don't think you can get around that."

Jack snapped his fingers and then slammed the heel of his hand against his forehead theatrically. "What am I thinking of?"

"Rhetorical? Or are you in the mood for games?" Ethan asked.

Jack ignored him. "You've altered my physiological makeup with your drug. I'll just --" A cloud of golden lights appeared, swirling around Jack's body and he sighed, looking indecently triumphant as they faded away. "Perfect. I'm back to normal, and you're history. Get up, will you? You're making the place look untidy."

"Was that magic?" Ethan asked politely, not stirring. "Or just some advanced form of aspirin?"

"Nanogenes," Jack said. "They fix you up the way you were. The way you should be. Great when you've been drinking and don't want a hangover." He put his hands on his hips. "I'd send them your way, but I don't think they fix delusions of being Merlin."

"And you think that they've removed the compulsion to tell me the truth and generally be such a good little boy?" Ethan asked. "Shall we see if your optimism's well-founded?" Without waiting for an answer, he said, "Tell me if you really intend to kill me, always assuming that you could."

"No. I don't do that, not unless I have to. I was just trying to scare you." Jack's eyes widened in shock. "That isn't what I was going to say," he said, sounding numb. "Look, Ethan, I really don't know why it's not working, but --"

"Incompatible systems," Ethan said with a shrug. "Does that make sense? Those -- nanogenes? -- can't deal with something that's invisible to them, and I really doubt that magic's susceptible to science anyway."

Jack sat down heavily. "I'm still not convinced," he said. "Do something. Something magic. Prove it."

"Pull a hat from a rabbit's arse you mean?" Ethan sniffed scornfully. "No. I go more for the subtle and I have a feeling that if I engaged in a spot of levitation, you'd only say it was a force-field or something, so what's the point?"

"Can we agree to differ on the magic, and just get back to what it is that you want me to do?"

"Don't see why not," Ethan said agreeably. "I'm quite used to being alone in my view of the world."

Jack arched an eyebrow. "Go on then; how do you see it?"

Gifting him with the truth -- he really was too pretty not to have Ethan feeling mildly indulgent -- Ethan said softly, "As my playground. Complete with bullies, parents too busy to pay attention until the screams get loud, and, yes, a sand pit to bury things in."

"Wish I hadn't asked," Jack muttered.

"Well you did," Ethan snapped, already regretting his frankness. "And you also asked what I wanted you to do."


"You're going to take me back to that night."

"When your friend died?" Jack shook his head, a flicker of sympathy showing. "I can't save him. He died, and that's that."

"Someone will still die," Ethan said. "It'll all balance, trust me." He smiled. "It just won't be Randall who's torn to pieces this time."

"It doesn't work like that --" Jack began.

Ethan glared at him. "Oh, yes, it does. It works any way I want it to work. Don't worry; I understand what you're saying; for the universe to remain stable, Randall has to die."

"Yeah, exactly," Jack said. "You see --"

"And to all intents and purposes, he will," Ethan said steadily. "It just won't be him inside the body."

"Who will it be?" Jack asked. "How can it be anyone but him? I don't get it."

"You don't have to," Ethan said coldly. "You're the fucking taxi driver, no more than that." He waved at the console of flashing lights and buttons. "I'll tell you where and when; you get me there."

"I won't do it."

Ethan stood up and took a single step, reaching down and cupping Jack's face in his hands. "Sweet boy. You don't have a choice." He smiled, ghosting his thumb across the warm lips so close to his. "And neither will Rupert."


Time travel, Ethan decided, as he stepped out into a golden afternoon a decade earlier than the one he'd woken up in, was best done impromptu. He was certain that given time to think even he might have succumbed to a list of things to pack or started to fiddle around with complex plans to buy shares in this that or the other, and make a killing on his return to the present.

Or in his case, change his mind about the killing.

He found himself muttering, "' If 'twere done, ''twas best done quickly'" and shook himself.

"It's getting to you, isn't it?" Jack said, with less gloat to his grin than Ethan would have expected. "Doubts creeping in, about to freeze with uncertainty --" His attention was caught by a blonde in a miniskirt that barely skimmed her knickers, and he eyed her with interest as she crossed the road and headed towards where they stood, outside the run-down house Ethan had shared with Rupert and three other friends. "And she's lucky it's a sunny day, or I know where she'd be feeling the chill." Jack grinned and rubbed his hands together briskly, the metal of the cuff he wore clanking against his watch.

"Oh, for God's sake!" Ethan snapped. "She's a tart who'd give you more than you paid for, but don't let that stop you if you're that desperate for a shag. I daresay your nanny gadget could fix the clap before the itching started."

Jack grimaced and stepped aside to let the girl pass. Mary? Maisie? Ethan couldn't remember, just that she'd be dead in three months from a drug overdose. That recollection made giving her the friendly smile she clearly expected surprisingly hard. The puzzled, wary look he got in return left him frowning until she'd passed out of sight when realisation dawned.

"I'm ten years too old," he said wonderingly, his hand going up to his face and tracing his features.

"Yeah, and did I mention that any interaction with the younger you is off-limits?" Jack said. He rounded on Ethan, jabbing his finger at him. "I mean it. If you think the other you is inside that house, we're not going in. I'll take a chance and start running; you can chase me, but you'll be wondering with every step if I'm going to get just far enough ahead for you to end up crispy and well-done, won't you?"

"No," Ethan said. "I'll be staring down at you writhing in pain on the pavement." He lied with the ease of much practice. "Oh, sorry; did I not mention that with each infringement, the penalty increases?" He held up his hand and shook the cuff, his mouth twisting in a sneer. "You're wearing restraints, too, Jack. You just can't see them. And no, I'm not inside. I'm getting in supplies for later and I don't get back until dark because the dealer was remarkably elusive." Ethan smiled. "Of course, had I known he was a vampire, I wouldn't have been quite so surprised at his unavailability during daylight hours."

Jack gestured dramatically at himself. "See this? It's me ignoring that last comment, and thinking that from now on when I fall for a strange man in a bar because I like the way he smiles, I'm going to take a moment to chant, 'Remember Ethan and walk away' about twenty times or so, until the madness passes."

"Do you think it'll work?" Ethan asked, momentarily distracted.

Jack gave him a rueful and totally charming look. "I really doubt it, but I promise I'll try." He sighed. "Can we just go? This is stupid. You don't need me to tell you that, but I am anyway."

Ethan shook his head, his gaze going to the front door of the house. Had the paint always been that tatty, the scrap of garden at the front that devoid of life? It wasn't as if, between them, they couldn't have afforded something better... They'd been making a point, he supposed. He just wished he could remember what it was.

"You liked my smile?" he said, walking up to the door and fumbling in his pocket for his key ring. The worn, dark-brown Yale key lost amongst a dozen others -- he never threw away a key; you never knew when you might be faced with a lock -- felt familiar in his hand and slid into place as easily as it ever had.

He pushed open the door and turned to Jack, who was following him reluctantly but, as Ethan couldn't help but notice, making sure that they stayed close. With a small part of his mind, Ethan began to piece together the clues that would tell him how long his leash was.

"Well, you're about to meet a young man who'd agree with you." Ethan sighed, remembering. "And if he thought that you liked it a little too much, he'd kick your teeth in." Ethan pursed his lips, trying to look disapproving, and failing rather badly. "He was a little impetuous, and more than a little possessive. First love does that to you, don't you find? Or can't you remember in amongst the myriad of later encounters?"

"There's a lot I don't remember," Jack said coolly. "Like giving you the right to ask personal questions." He glanced inside the house, wrinkling his nose against the pervasive smell of damp, take-out food and joss-sticks that floated out to greet them. "You lived here?" he asked incredulously. "On purpose?"

Ethan shrugged and stepped over the threshold. "It served as a roof over our heads."

"What are you going to tell him?" Jack said. "This Rupert guy. He'll never believe the truth."

From upstairs a voice called out, clear in the silence. "Ethan? Is that you? You're back early. Couldn't you find him?" There was a chuckle, affectionate and mischievous. "Or did you just miss me?"

Ethan felt his throat tighten. "Oh God," he managed.

Jack's hand slipped around his neck and he stared into blue eyes, intent and serious. "It's not too late," Jack whispered, his thumb stroking Ethan's skin gently. "I'll answer, we'll go, and I'll take you somewhere good; show you the sights." He leaned closer, kissing Ethan with a flicker of his tongue that promised a lot more than Ethan had expected, given their current impasse. "Come on; we could have fun."

Ethan stepped back, his mind made up. "I'm not here for fun," he spat out. "I'm here for --"


They turned as one and Ethan stared up into the indignant, hurt face of his lover who must have witnessed the kiss. "You bastard, Ethan!" Rupert, naked from the waist up, barefoot, and in a threadbare pair of jeans fastened with a bootlace that, as Ethan recalled, had a frustrating tendency to tie itself in knots at the most inopportune moments, hurtled down the stairs, all legs and wide, wounded eyes and stood between them, breathing heavily.

"Love, it's not --" Ethan stopped, the reassurance and endearment bitter on his tongue. No. He couldn't let himself forget why he was here and what this boy would do to him soon, how he'd betray Ethan in a way that went beyond a stolen kiss or two.

"Ethan?" Some of the anger faded from Rupert's face and he swallowed quickly, his gaze going between Ethan and Jack. "Who the hell is this?" he asked belligerently.

"A friend, no more," Ethan said soothingly, unable to resist running his hand over the bare skin of Rupert's arm, refreshing memories he'd worn out through over-use, conjuring them up until they were dim and thin. "His name's Jack. And I'm not the one half-naked, now am I? What have you been up to?" He pulled Rupert to him and kissed him hard, his hands trembling slightly. God, the taste of him!

"It's so bloody hot up there," Rupert said. He grinned, leaning into Ethan's shoulder and scratching absently at his bare ribs. "You're lucky I heard voices and pulled my jeans on or I'd have been more than half-naked."

Ethan saw Jack's gaze travel over Rupert approvingly and bit down on indignation of his own.

"I've seen all you've got," he said dryly, "and Jack's not interested --"

"Yes, I am," Jack said. He'd changed into jeans and a tight blue T-shirt before they'd left the ship, and as he leaned against the hallway wall, studying them both carefully, Ethan had to admit that he looked good. "I'm interested in any friend of Ethan's." He held out his hand to Rupert, his smile genuine. "Jack Harkness. Pleased to meet you --?"

"Rupert Giles," Rupert said, taking the proffered hand automatically, his voice slipping into his normal way of speaking, all silver spoon with a plum balanced on top. "So how do you know Ethan then?" He blinked. "You look a bit old to be a student."

"I look old?" Jack said. He jerked his head at Ethan. "Not him?"

Ethan smiled slightly. "To Rupert, I don't think I'll ever look old," he murmured meaningfully, catching Jack's eye. The glamour he'd cast after seeing the look on the girl's face wasn't a strong one, but it didn't need to be. People, even people in love -- or especially people in love -- saw what they wanted to see, saw what they expected.

And Rupert didn't expect his lover to have aged a decade in the space of an hour or two, now did he?

"Oh, come on!" Jack exploded. "That's just too much to expect me to swallow."

Ethan smiled, giddy and filled with a sudden exhilaration. "That's what you said once, love, wasn't it?" he murmured wickedly, nuzzling into the hollow of Rupert's throat and letting his tongue dart out to taste the warm beat of blood captured there. "But you managed very nicely, as I recall."

Three months ago, Rupert might have blushed. Now he got hard between one breath and the next, it seemed, arching against Ethan and pulling him in for a long, hungry kiss, Jack forgotten.

So tempting. So very, very tempting. Could he be divine, and forgive a sin this Rupert hadn't committed yet? Exact delicious penances on willing flesh until he could forget the revulsion in Rupert's eyes when he'd muttered goodbye and flinched away from Ethan's hand, stretched out pleadingly?

Let Randall die, let this golden boy live to break his heart?

It hung, perfectly balanced, perfectly poised.

"Ethan. It's time to go."

Jack's voice was low but he didn't need to shout. Not when he was walking out of the door. Ethan wrenched himself free of Rupert's arms and stared into puzzled, green eyes. "Ripper. Listen. I have to go. Jack's going to take me to someone with the good stuff. You know. I'll be back soon, I promise."

Rupert rolled his eyes. "You'd better be," he said. He lowered his voice. "We can't do it without you, you know that."

Jack had paused once Ethan had said he was going. He watched as Ethan smiled, his hand caressing Rupert's face one last time. "There's a lot you can do without me, love. Except, perhaps, have fun, but there's a price to pay for everything."

"You've been drinking, haven't you?" Rupert said resignedly. He gave Jack a grin. "He always gets gnomic after the fifth pint or so."

"I wouldn't know," Jack said with an answering grin, "But I'll be sure to stop him having more than four if he's ever drinking with me. Nice to meet you, Rupert Giles." His eyes held pity and a little regret. "Ethan? Time's ticking away."

"So it is." Ethan kissed Rupert lightly. "Back soon, love."

Leaving without looking back left Ethan feeling hollowed-out and numb. The pain that followed as regret and loss ripped through him was an improvement.

Jack let him rail against fate, the gods, and his own stupid sentimentality for long enough that even Ethan was getting bored, and then changed the subject by the simple, but effective, method of stripping them both naked over Ethan's increasingly weak protests.

"Shut up," Jack said finally, his fingers brushing away the last of Ethan's tears and then going elsewhere. "You might be sentimental, but you're not a fool. And if he loves you that much, you know you'll get him back one day."

"I suppose," Ethan said grudgingly, leaning back and gasping as Jack's hands moved over his body, followed by the warm press of his lips. "Although the last time we met, he told me that if our paths crossed again he'd break every bone in my body. Unoriginal, I know, but that's the sort of person he is, these days."

Jack's head lifted slightly, which was a pity. "To do that, he's going have to touch you, right?"

"One would assume so, yes," Ethan said, reaching down to stroke Jack's dark hair, the cuff glinting silver on his wrist.

Jack grinned. "I saw you two. Don't tell me that if he gets that close you can't have him kissing you again."

He went back to what he'd been doing and Ethan sighed, closing his eyes so that he could pretend, the way he always did. "Oh, that's the easy bit," he said absently. "It's getting him to stay as long as the bruises do that's tricky."

"But that's what you're good at," Jack said, stopping again. He propped himself up on one elbow and ran his finger over Ethan's cock. "I'm used to threesomes, but usually the third person's in the bed, if you know what I mean. Do you want to go and get him? Within this time, I mean; you can't go back again."

Ethan was about to thank him, even say 'yes', when a thought occurred to him. "You fancied him, didn't you?" he said accusingly.

Jack caught his lip between his teeth and grinned. "Sure. Is that a problem?"

"Yes," Ethan hissed, flipping Jack to his back and straddling him. "It bloody well is. You'll have to make do with me, I'm afraid."

Jack shrugged, his eyes dancing. "Then you'd better be good."

"That I can't rise to," Ethan said. "But I can make you forget the six before me, and make the six who follow seem inadequate."

"Promises, promises," Jack murmured, squirming a little as Ethan's hands closed around his wrists and pinned them to the bed. "And will you keep on wishing I was him?"

Ethan smiled down at him a little sadly. "I'll try not to," he said. "Just this once. Will that do?"

"Ask me that tomorrow," Jack said. "You'll like the answer better when I can lie."

Return to Home

Click here if you'd like to send feedback