It had been a very long time since he had thought of himself as Captain Jack Harkness. But on this day, Earth’s last day, the Face of Boe remembered the man he used to be.
He would have preferred to be alone, but propriety–and his reputation–demanded he invite the rich and powerful of the universe and make an affair of it. Being old and legendary had its privileges, though; he could throw a party and absent himself, stare out the window at the planet that would soon be dust. Cassandra’s nasal voice carried across the observation deck, and he bit back a chuckle. The last humans, indeed; and what a pair they’d make. A face in a jar and a skin trampoline. Not much room for procreation there.
He turned his capsule to face the windows. The Earth turned below. It wasn’t the place of his birth, but the man he had become had been born there. AD 1941 by old Earth reckoning, at the height of the London Blitz. A blonde in a Union Jack had fallen out of the sky and led him to the man who would give Jack another chance; a reason to think he could be something other than a con man. A hero, even.
Ancient history. He remembered it like it was yesterday.
He remembered dancing with Rose in front of Big Ben, the feel of her in his arms; he remembered the Doctor’s fury with him for endangering his beloved planet. Oh, how the Doctor had loved that planet. He remembered stepping into the TARDIS for the first time, and the first time he died to save the Earth.
He remembered running, remembered what it felt like to have a body, a mortal body, that surge of adrenaline that said, you are alive. And all the long years of living like this, stubbornly hanging on to life, even as his body could no longer be sustained. He remembered the Doctor’s voice–
“I give you...air from my lungs.”
The words cut through the murmur of the guests into his reverie, and he froze. That voice. His voice. Slowly, the Face of Boe rotated his capsule so that he could see the man who had spoken. Tall, gangly, blue eyes twinkling and looking pleased as ever with himself. He had to remind himself to breathe. Then the Doctor shifted his stance and his breath caught all over again, because standing next to him was Rose Tyler.
Rose, who had saved and doomed him in the same moment. But this wasn’t that Rose, not yet. This Rose was a little more tentative, a little more fearful. Was this her first journey with the Doctor? To see the death of her home world? He studied the Time Lord, and thought, I wouldn’t put it past him. There was a sharpness about the man who stood before him that would be tempered by the time he met Captain Jack. He would be less inclined to such cruelties.
When they reached him, the Face of Boe had composed himself, though it felt as if he was speaking to a pair of ghosts.
In a way, of course, he was. He watched them move about the room, thinking of all the adventures that lay ahead, and behind. Then he turned away. He lived for the Doctor, now, just as he had died for him so many times.
The Face of Boe had a secret to tell. But not yet.