Jack Harkness looked up from his calendar, and scanned the cubicle landscape before him. He had the strange sensation that someone, somewhere out there, was watching him. He looked over the mild hum of computers, the backs of people's heads, bright ceiling lights and occasional potted palm, and saw no one looking back. Not a single one. He scratched his neck and went back to writing addresses in neat script on the large white envelopes that needed to go with the mail at four o'clock sharp.
The feeling returned, but this time he ignored it. Maybe it was someone playing silly buggers. He scratched the back of his neck, and continued to write. Every now and then he paused to answer an email, or the phone. Some of the emails he forwarded, but most he could answer himself. After all, he was the Personal Assistant to the head of Customer Service at Temps R' Us, an apparently funny play on both the River they were situated near, and the infamous toy store. Jack apparently lacked a sense of humor, because he'd not laughed when his boss, Mr. Stephens, explained it the other week, and had been labeled a bore. Efficient, but a bore.
Yep, that was him all right, he thought as he sealed the envelopes. An efficient bore. A hard worker who was always on time, and always polite. He did his job quickly and efficiently, even helping Personnel with filing, when there was a lull in calls or other PA-duties. Though mostly he fetched coffee, took care of deliveries, orders, mailings, got the newspapers, sent emails and answered inquiries from reporters and angry customers, and tried his damned best "to bring each contact to a satisfactory conclusion", as it said on the company's website.
Every day was the same: He woke up at 6 am, and went for a run. Then he came back home, took a shower, got dressed in dark trousers, a pale shirt, a gray tie, and dark, suit jacket. He made breakfast for himself and his lover, Alex. They ate and read the paper in silence. at 7.20, Jack got his coat and his briefcase, his keys and his mobile, and went to take the bus to work. He arrived at 08.00 sharp, settled in, and began answering calls at 08.15.
At 12.00 he went to lunch, most often alone, unless he had to bring his black notebook and index along to a business lunch with Mr. Stephens. But usually he managed to get time alone, and would go to a quiet café 15 minutes away to grab a salad. It was easier to eat alone, brought on less questions from home. He would sit alone, look at the people walking by, and not really think of anything. Sometimes, he looked at movie billboards, and imagined he was one of the heroes in a perfect tuxedo, but he always nipped those fantasies in the bud, laughed at himself and went back to work.
At 13.00 he was back at work, and remained in his seat - unless he helped Personnel - fielded more calls, messages, handled deliveries and supplies, until it was time to leave. He ended the workday at 17.00 exactly, logged out, straightened his desk meticulously, picked up his briefcase, his keys, and coat and headed out the door.
The phone rang. He answered it. As always, he frowned at the uncomfortable bulkiness of his headset.
Mr. Stephens barked straight into his ear.
"I've got visitors coming at three fifteen Mr. Harkness, I expect coffee, tea, and those lovely little sandwhiches from down the street, you know the café? Can you arrange crumpets and some little cake along as well?"
Jack tried not to roll his eyes. He was not an eye-rolling person. But God, Mr. Stephens could eat. Jack had no doubt half the food he ordered would be for Mr. Stephens alone. The man must have a black hole linked to his stomach, because Jack couldn’t imagine any other way for the man to stay the size he was: big, not fat, just tall and imposing.
"How many sir?" he asked, quiet, businesslike.
"Six sandwhiches. Then double the crumpets. Cake?"
"I'll see to it sir," he said.
"Good man! There might be a future for you at this place yet!" Mr. Stephens laughed at his own private joke.
He liked to threaten all his employees with dismissal at any given moment, but as far as Jack knew, no one had been sacked for nearly six years.
"Yes, sir, thank you, sir," Jack said, and tried to sound amused, and was positive he failed. He hung up and ordered the meal.
30 minutes later the meal was delivered, and he rose to arrange everything in the conference room: Coffee (he used the coffee from the machine, because the stuff he made could apparently “fry the insides of wild Hyenas”), tea, lemons, napkins, sugar, honey, and milk, as well as cups and spoons, and small knives for the sandwiches. He set the sandwiches on a large plate, the crumpets on a smaller one, and the little cakes with pink icing Mr. Stephens liked near Mr. Stephen's seat.
Then he went back to the office, declared everything ready and took his seat again.
That day, he took the bus home as he always did, sitting with his legs together in front of him, the briefcase in his lap. He looked straight ahead, like he always did, not seeking eye contact.
It rained. Again.
Seemed it always rained in London. Something, a small noise of rustling paper, or the shifting of a shoe against the bus floor, made him turn his head. There was a young man there, in a suit more expensive than his own, a vine red tie, reading a newspaper. Jack looked at him, as the man’s face was illuminated by the street lights coming through the rain soaked windows. Young, smart, with neatly cropped black hair. Jack wondered if he had blue or dark eyes.
Blue, he thought, when the man looked up.
Jack dropped his gaze. Caught staring. Shouldn't stare, you saw more than you were supposed to that way, and that was never good. The last time he'd looked around on the bus, he'd thought he'd seen a man with a tail. He'd told Alex, and Alex, half convinced he was going mad, had set him straight immediately. Jack avoided looking around ever since. He kept his eyes on his hands, clutched the handle of the briefcase tightly, no matter how much he wanted to look up and see the blue eyes again.
His lover was home already. There was the scent of meat sauce cooking, and spaghetti. Jack hung his wet suit jacket in the closet next to the door, took off his shoes and put them on the little plastic mat. Then he went into the bathroom, got a towel out of the dirty laundry, and went back to clean up the puddles of rain and dirt that he'd brought in. He cleaned his briefcase and set it next to the mat. Done, he went back into the laundry room, and loaded the washer, including the dirty towel. He watched as the machine filled up. When it began to spin, he went into the kitchen.
They didn't speak, merely sat and ate while his lover listened to the sports on the television, still on in the living room. Jack ate carefully, did not spill or drip a drop on the white placemat. White. He wanted to snort. Why hadn't they bought black placemats instead?
When they were done he did the dishes, first the plates, then the cutlery, the glasses, and finally the pots and pans. He lined them up carefully, all in a row, then dried them off, and put them away in their proper places.
He cleared away the leftovers, left the wine next to the stove and wiped the table. No crumbs. He let out a little breath and rinsed the dishrag. Quietly, he went into the living room and sat down on the couch. His lover was watching football.
"Good day?" Alex asked.
"Yes, it was all right," Jack answered. "How was yours?"
"Fine, some twat at the factory was making a row, something about someone sneaking about. They saw some bloke in personnel, but he got away before they could catch him."
They watched the football, and when Alex reached for him, he opened his hand and entwined their fingers. He didn't ask to change the channel, or for the paper. Alex offered neither.
When the game was done, the television turned off, and they went upstairs.
Jack brushed his teeth and washed his face. He changed into his pajamas, and looked at himself in the mirror. Ordinary, flat hair, strong jawline, but that was about it. He felt gangly, out of touch with his body. Out of touch with his life.
Was this it? Was this what his life would be, for the rest of his life?
He felt tired, cold and alone. Empty. He thought of the man with Blue Eyes, and felt a small thrill run through his chest.
"Jack? Are you coming?" Alex called. The thrill disappeared.
Jack looked at himself one more time, then went to bed, still thinking, wondering if this was it. If he was doomed to Groundhog day, every day. To get up, eat breakfast, go to work. To not speak to anyone, never partake in any activities. To come home to his lover who didn't speak other than a few rare questions, or comments. To make love - fuck — lying on his belly and feel Alex move inside him, hard and fast, or hard and deep.
Lying there again, he thought of the man with the blue eyes, and came, quietly, his cock stimulated by the sheets beneath him. Alex grunted and came in him, then wiped him off, and turned off the lights.
Jack breathed into the sheets, still wondering. He closed his eyes and dreamed of running in the rain.