Characters: Captain Jack Harkness/Claire Bennet
fic_variations Prompt: firsts (#1)
Content Warning: General spoilers for all aired episodes for Heroes.
Summary: Nevertheless, she shouldn’t have been there, yet there she was, sitting up on the desk that Ianto used to work behind, that countless men and women had worked behind since, all legs and blond hair, and not looking a day older than the last time he saw her, while he was sure he’d probably aged a little.
Author's Note: Set way post-canon. First time writing Jack, and he's decided that it's from his POV, therefore any constructive criticism is welcome.
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters of Heroes or Torchwood. They're owned by NBC and the BBC. However, any and all original characters are mine, so please do not use them without my permission.
He hadn’t seen her in years. He hadn’t even thought about her in years. Not to say that she wasn’t an unforgettable woman, but she was just one of those people who’s memories got stuffed to the back burner after a couple hundred years. Especially the bad ones. Especially the ones related to a person who he wished was forgettable, but really wasn’t—not with all he had done and seen. Not with everything that the two of them had been through together, and as the years passed by, centuries faded and new teams of members for Torchwood cycled through with him as their captain, they kept reencountering each other again, and the same old cycle would be begin again. She was a part of that, and while he tried his best to separate her from it, he couldn’t. It had happened to many times over the years for him to ignore it. Being alive for centuries had that disadvantage—you began to seem the patterns in the human condition all too clearly.
Nevertheless, she shouldn’t have been there, yet there she was, sitting up on the desk that Ianto used to work behind, that countless men and women had worked behind since, all legs and blond hair, and not looking a day older than the last time he saw her, while he was sure he’d probably aged a little. He could see it every time he looked in the mirror—his skin was starting to look a bit saggy, his hair was starting to get a bit gray—he was aging, slowly but surely, while she still looked like she could have walked off a centerfold every time he saw her. Was enough to make a guy jealous—she had gotten the good genes, and he was the one who was going to fall apart at the seams eventually—the body could only hold together for so long without cellular regeneration to help it hold together, but regardless, the point of the matter was that Claire Bennet, the gorgeous thing that she was, was sitting up on the counter of the Torchwood hub, looking rather expectantly back at the team, before a sly smile crossed her face and she actually spoke, still the same Texas twang on her lips from when he’d met her all those years ago—back in that small town of Odessa, Texas.
She spoke, said hello, and the customary reaction would probably have been to say it back, but Jack couldn’t put effort into that. His head was too busy pulling together the calculations of what she possibly could have wanted, trying to think of all the ways this could possibly go wrong, or how he was going to explain to his team the whole, ‘oh yeah, this is my ex-girlfriend from a couple centuries ago.’ Most of them still hadn’t gotten to the ‘Jack can’t die’ section of the Torchwood orientation quite yet, and he wasn’t quite sure that this was the way he wanted to introduce them. He still hadn’t developed a really good way to break that one to the team quite yet, but he was still working on it—each time he had to do it providing a bit of new insight to the situation. Anyway, he was digressing again—point was that he was doing all that thinking, so he wasn’t exactly responding to what Claire had said, instead he was just staring, looking at the woman in front of him, and trying to find the best way to get to the team out of the way so he could find out what she wanted and get her out of here was seeming to be top priority.
“She a friend of yours, Jack?” Jonathan began, turning to give his leader a look. That seemed to snap Jack out of it enough to turn and look at him, before turning back to the girl ahead of them.
“Someone I knew once. A long time ago,” he said quickly, before turning back to the rest of the team. “Why don’t you guys head downstairs and get started on the assignment? I just have to deal with this.”
That statement was accompanied with weird looks from his team, but he’d gotten used to them after a while. He would also explain later—as much as he ever explained anything—so it would also be something that could be dealt with later. Claire, however, needed to be dealt with in the realm of right now, and that was probably never going to change.
“Same old, same old, huh?” she said with a smirk. “You order them around and they follow you like lil’ lost puppies?”
“What do you want, Claire?”
The quick jump to business registered, and she dropped her head to the side slightly, her eyes narrowing as she studied him, like a hunter watching it’s prey. That look was something that he had seen develop over time, and it scared him a bit. He’d seen it echo in Adam’s eyes, and he was hoping that he’d never see it in hers. However, no matter the predatory look in her eyes, the easy smirkish-smile stayed on her face, looking things looking friendly and easy, unless you were looking closely.
“What, can’t a girl drop in to see her old lover and former employer?”
“Not this girl,” he said as he dropped his bag to the ground and started moving towards her. “No, this girl only shows up if she wants something—so what is it?”
“Jack—we’ve known each other all this time, and you still think that low of me?” He knew he should have stopped a few paces back, but he didn’t and he still doesn’t stop now, keeps going until he’s close enough for her to touch, for her to drape an arm around his neck and whisper softly, lips barely inches apart. “Still think I can’t pop in just to see you?”
He fights the internal battle for all of a moment, his hand sliding up her leg to her waist, wondering how long he can wait before he gives in, and closes the small gap between them. He can’t help himself when it comes to her—she’s a constant, like Adam, like the Doctor. She’s one of the people who have been there for a good majority of his life, and will probably be there for time to come. People who don’t wither away and die, people who don’t leave him—at least not permanently. People like Claire, they come back to him. It may not be frequent, and it may not be for long, but they always come back. And when they do, he can’t help himself but to indulge, searching for the taste of something familiar, even though it had been long gone for ages. When he finally does kiss her, she doesn’t exactly push away either. In fact, she pulls him in closer, deepening the kiss as soon as she gets the chance, and it’s like a junkie being reintroduced to his old drug of choice—he knows it’s terrible for him, and it’s going to end disastrously in the long run, but God does it make you feel alive again. And after years of just living, he could do with a few simple moments of being alive.
She broke the kiss after a moment, but he stayed close, eyes angled down to the floor as though he was trying to search for the words. It was a long silence, and she broke it easily before it stretched into an awkward one.
“Missed me that much, huh?”
He closed his eyes for a moment, looking away from her before he started to pull away again, his hands leaving her as he broke the connection, the constant, and drifted back into reality again. “What do you want, Claire?”
“Just comin’ for a visit.”
“A visit and what else?”
“Damnit, Jack—what am I, some kind of criminal?”
“No, but you work for one. And odds are, he’s probably the reason why you’re here. So why don’t you just spit it out so I can turn you down and we can move on with our evenings.” His face remained cool and even—mastered through years of practice and distancing himself from others, from people like her especially. She’d seen him emotionally vulnerable before—she wasn’t about to see it again. “I’m sure you have places to go and people to see.”
Her eyes hardened and her lips pressed into a thin line, clarifying that she was already not happy with the situation, but also it meant that she was going to quit trying to screw with his head, playing on smoke and mirrors. “I need to use the Walker System.”
He didn’t have a reaction at first. At first, he wanted to blurt out how she even knew that he had it, but he didn’t keeping his face blank as he searched for the right answer, trying to find what she was getting at before he gave away the information. What she wanted with a GPS system that never worked, he didn’t understand, and he wanted to before he just blindly told her no. Something was up—she wouldn’t be coming to him for a piece of technology as oppose to something more valuable if there wasn’t.
“It doesn’t exist.”
“Oh, don’t do that,” Claire said with a glare. “I was there when it was built—I worked on it, remember? Me and Mohinder Suresh. The Queen sent you in to play ambassador, make sure we weren’t building anything that might be used as a weapon.”
Oh, he remembered, alright. It had been a remarkable project—a robotic replication of the brain of a woman named Molly Walker. A woman who could find anyone, anywhere, just by focusing. It was her genetic manipulation, her genetic quirk that made her different from everyone else, but she wasn’t going to be around forever. If the Walker System had managed to work, missing person’s cases would be a thing of the past—people would be able to find each other without all the footwork. If the machine had worked, no one would ever be ‘missing.’ In theory—no one would ever be alone.
“It doesn’t exist because it doesn’t work, Claire,” he said, matching her glare with one of his own. “You also know that.”
“Times have changed, Jack,” she began. “I’m sure if one of your little technical experts downstairs had a go at it, I’m sure they’d find a way to get it up and running.”
She did have a point. Any one of those people could probably have a look at the outdated technology, bring it up to code and get it to work, but he wasn’t about to give her that that easily. She hadn’t told him why, yet. “So what’s it to you?” he began, watching her carefully. “Why do you need it so badly?”
“Does it matter?” she said, arching an eyebrow. “I’m not going to hurt anyone with it. All I can do is find people.”
“Who are you looking to find?”
“Again—does it matter?” she said, giving him a look.
“Well, maybe he’s better off not being found,” he said with an innocent look. “Did you ever think of that?”
“Whether he’s better off not being found doesn’t matter—I need to find him,” Claire said, her eyes narrowing again in that predatory look. “Can’t you at least grant me that? For old time’s sake.”
“The Walker System doesn’t work, Claire. It never will.”
“It might if you could just try—”
“Why the hell not, Jack?” she said, her voice raising as she started to get more frustrated with him. She always got frustrated—half the time it was why she left him, and it was why she had quit Torchwood—all their conversations ended in a fight. He usually chocked it up to her way of seeing things, but there weren’t exactly many different ways to shape this. “Why can’t you do this for me, just this once? What harm will it do?”
He didn’t give her anything, just let her stay that way until her head dropped and the mask of contempt went along with it. In fact, he could honestly say that he may have seen tears in her eyes, which was odd for this particular girl. Claire hadn’t cried in years, at least no moment that he had been witness to, and he wasn’t sure he wanted her to start now. Something was definitely wrong, and his gut was telling him that it didn’t have anything to do with Adam and everything to do with Claire—the little girl who had been trapped inside this woman’s body a long time ago, and buried by a personality driven by self-preservation and a practiced good first impression. It was a side of her that he’d never thought he’d see again, and the fact that he is under these circumstances is breaking his heart. He doesn’t move towards her, though, just waits to hear what she has to say and hopes that he’s not believing something that was going to be proven to be a lie later.
“His name is Peter Petrelli,” she said after a long silence, tilting her head up at him, and lifting her hand to brush at one of the tear tracks that had made their way down her cheeks, breaking the persona of the woman who was cool and in control, and giving way to the woman who was actually a human being. “He’s my uncle. He’s—he’s all the family I got left, and I recently found out that he’s alive, but my source didn’t know where he was. Even if he did—Peter knows how to hide when he doesn’t want to be found.” She paused for a moment, swallowing hard and taking her pride down with it, the pleading look remaining on her face. “He’s the last of my family, Jack. My real family. I need to find him. And in order to do that, I need something that even he can’t hide from.”
“So you need Molly Walker’s brain—or whatever’s the closest thing you can get,” Jack said with a nod. He still was weighing whether or not he should believe her, but he could already feel himself cracking under the look on her face, the need to do whatever he could to make sure he didn’t see her crack like this again. He had no problem dealing with the cool collected woman. It made things easier, actually—the less emotionally involved she was, the less emotionally involved he had to be. This wasn’t one of those times, though, and so long as she was looking for family— “I’ll have my team have a crack at it,” he said with a heavy sigh. “I can’t promise anything, though.”
The smile that broke across her faith was worth the turmoil, however. It was probably the first genuine smile he had seen from her in ages, and it took him back to the woman he had loved, oh so long ago, before she became the person that he despised, the person that he couldn’t get attached to. She hopped off the counter and threw her arms around his neck, pulling him into a tight hug, before turning her head slightly to drop a kiss on his cheek. “Thank you, Jack.”
“You’re welcome,” he said softly, continuing to revel in the first emotional moment, the first connection that he had had with her after so long, and even though every warning bell in his head was going off to tell him to not take it too seriously, he couldn’t help but melt into it, letting him savor one of the few constants he had left, and hoping that this wasn’t the last time she would open up to him like this. He hoped that maybe, this time she would really start over.