The War to End All Wars. If only. Uncontracted agent Jack Harkness was damn glad of that status tonight, just this short of telling Gerald where he could stick himself if he didn't shut up about everything that had gone to hell here while Jack had been flying flimsy excuses for aircraft over France. Torchwood and their phantasmagoria could wait, damn it. Tonight was for getting drunk. No, tonight was for getting hammered. Legless. Paralytic. Something, anything, some state past being able to remember where he was and what he'd done. What they'd all done, in these last few years.
That pub was still where he'd left it, just off what would one day be a corner of the wide proud plaza he remembered, celebrations all around these squalid docksides tonight almost loud enough to drive those ghosts of future glory from his head. In these stones... no, best not to remember. Not sober.
Crowded as he'd ever seen it in here, and not a few seemed they'd been in here almost since that eleventh hour, but nothing quite like shoving your way through a crowd of happy war-weary drunks for a change, even the wretched excuse for lighting seeming brighter once Jack had his hands on a pint of the promise of temporary oblivion. And his lips. Ah, sweetheart, did you miss me? I've been counting the moments, good thing I knew exactly how many...
Oh, and entertainment to have to ignore, too, what joy. "It's a long long way to Tipperary, but my heart's right there..." Maybe a little too mournful for a night like this, kid. Cute though, tousled hair and lanky like they could grow them on this island, maybe even taller than Jack when he was at home, though the way he was curled over that guitar it'd have to stay a guess for now. Eyes that could have been blue or brown in this light couldn't seem to stop flicking to Jack at every opportunity, just a good thing for him that it was far too raucous in here for anyone to really notice how his fingering had suddenly gone all to hell every time he lifted his gaze much from the guitar. Yeah, I'm sexy, kid, deal with it and you'll get better tips. This first pint wasn't doing anything, he waved for another to go give it a talking-to in there.
"So we rode down to the river where Victorian ghosts pray for their curses to be broken --"
Now the cutie with the guitar was trying to catch his eye. Oh, honey, some other night, maybe, but me and the bottle have it going on right now. Drinking it all away felt like something Bastard Ex would have done after a job, but this wasn't just a job, was it, this was four years, three months, and fifteen days of hell on earth and his reward only to have his wings clipped until the next one. (Wouldn't even mind seeing his lying ass right about now, so long as it was wearing a manipulator that worked --)
"And if I grow old, well I know I'm gonna be, I'm gonna be the man who's growing old with you --"
Yeah, big if, that. Damn spry for eighty even if he did say so himself, and it was not for want of trying lately. If it wasn't the war it was this damn fever, spreading through the lines faster than mustard-gas and far more deadly. Like to see what that was going to do to this world now all those sick men would be mustered home and cashiered out, wouldn't be at all surprised if half the people in here celebrating tonight would be down with it by morning...
"Will you still need me, will you still feed me --"
(Interesting repertoire Cutie had, cut above the usual music-hall crap. Maybe another night when he was less hell-bent on drinking himself to death right on the spot in the pub -- Speaking of which, now this glass was empty too, had to do something about that.)
"Some day I'll wish upon a star --"
Jack snorted, thinking of all the stars he'd wished on since he'd fallen from among them, and how little good it had ever done him. It could be worse, kid. You could work for Torchwood. See how many wishes you have left, once they've had you dissecting all the romance out of the wonder that's really up there...
"Last orders, please, last orders --"
Jack took the opportunity to procure for himself pint number not-near-enough and settled at the bar to give it as much of a working-over as he could get in before someone should decide to shovel him out. The throng had mostly begun to spill out into the street already, quiet enough in here now for the few neurons he hadn't managed to subdue yet to chirp that hey, he knew this one --
"There'll be bluebirds over the white cliffs of Dover, tomorrow, just you wait and see..."
Fucking bluebirds, might not be indigenous to these shores but at least they still got to fly, dammit. Would it be wrong of him, to miss a living hell because there had been moments when he'd been able to forget he was pinned here to this earth? Trapped walking the slow path, and looking more and more like he had all the time in the world to wait for that next war's u-boat captain and his barrage-balloon blonde...
"That's time, gentlemen, please -- Davidson! Hand with the clearing-up?"
And once Jack had staggered home, lying across his bed watching pairs of non-indigenous bluebirds strafe him from the spinning ceiling --
Wait a minute, was that song from this war?