Written for Prompt 462 - Mortality at slashthedrabble.
Everything that lives eventually dies, that’s the cycle of life in action, and nothing is immune, not even planets and stars, because nothing in the universe is designed to last forever. That’s the way it should be of course. If nothing ever died the universe would soon become overcrowded, which wouldn’t be a good thing at all. Life needs room to breathe.
Jack has lived a long time. He’s seen people born, come to know and love them, and then watched them grow old and die. Friends, lovers, children, grandchildren… Their lives are so fleeting compared to his. It hurts every time he loses one; no matter how many times he’s experienced that loss it never gets any easier. Perhaps that too is the way it should be, because lives matter and the loss of one, even through old age, should never be a matter of indifference.
Jack’s killed too, many times, and the taking of lives brings its own burden of grief and pain. Even when there’s no other choice, killing isn’t something he’s ever done lightly because life is precious, and ending it prematurely is the worst kind of theft, only to be committed as a last resort.
Centuries have passed, then millennia, until time has almost seemed to lose meaning. He’s watched mountains rise and crumble, civilisations evolve and eventually die, seen the birth of stars and watched over them throughout the aeons until they’ve finally burned out.
The universe is approaching its own inevitable end; the stars are going out one by one and it’s been a long time since any new ones were born. With the death of their stars, the planets are dying too, taking their civilisations with them, some of which are barely in their infancy and will never have a chance to discover what they might have become. They came along too late to ever reach their full potential.
Everything dies, and although Jack Harkness is the oldest being that has ever existed, and as close to being eternal as any living thing has ever been, even he is not immune to the passage of time. His hair, though still thick and luxuriant, is white now, and his face lined with wrinkles. Still, he doesn’t look bad for someone trillions of years old, and Ianto laughs when he says that. Ianto is old and wrinkled too, but still younger than Jack.
The universe is dying, and they are too, but that’s okay; they faced up to their own mortality uncountable millennia ago; it’s not something they fear. They may have lived longer than anyone else, but they’ve died more often too. Most people only do it once and they’ve long since lost count of their deaths.
They’re part of this universe though, and when it reaches its end, so will they. They’re ready. They’ve had a good life, seen and done everything more than once. All that’s left to discover is what might come after, and as always, they’ll face it together.