Reed Boats for Wet Egyptians
There is a man at the bar, Jack notes. The man’s delicate back sports a Victorian jacket, velvet, green maybe. Or blue. It’s hard to tell at this distance with all the smoke. A lit cigarillo peeks from one side of the dark strawberry-blonde curls. The smooth, wiry shoulders are seals about to slip into the water, slumped and obfuscated, as though their owner hates himself.
Cut to the piano in the darkest corner of the long, disarranged room full of knocked over chairs and floor-bound drinkers. Long fingers leap into the strains of Satie again. A creamy camel trench settles across shoulders that are slightly wide and tensed and slumped, as though the piano man’s muscles are aching to play anywhere but here, despite the reek of surety aching from the keys, and so Gymnopédie 1 sallies forth, undaunted.
But then, Jack reasons, his eyes flipping back toward the Victorian gent at the bar, pianists always seem that way.
Jack feels a chill again, that warmth he gets as though someone’s poured bourbon down his spine.
“Jack Harkness, you can come over here now. I’m not going to bite. As if I ever could again. As if I never had before. As if I never will, over and over. As if… oh, it doesn’t matter. Come here. Sit.” A hand taps on the short stool beside the speaker.
Yes, it’s the man with the curls, the Victorian gent. His eyes widening, Jack uses the thirty seconds of walking it takes to reach the bar to get a bead on the man’s temperament from the way he’s sitting. But it all falls away when that face reaches up like an abandoned puppy, sick and wet, and just… pulls at him, droopy damp curls like old springs rusted by the kiss of rain, all bounced and stuck and crusted around a porcelain gaze as old and young as any clock worth admiring, set with two blue stones that bleed. Two blue stones- it doesn’t do Him justice, really… Imagine an ocean begging for recognition from a dead horse? Drink Me! Drink me… please? Drink me? And they say you can’t make them drink.
The Time Agent finds himself transfixed, floating in his own head as though he’s never been in anyone else’s.
“Hey there, honey,” Jack manages finally, pressing a hand across the contours of the man’s lithe, slightly bony runner’s back and rubbing circles. “You look like you could use…”
But a finger tip presses against his lips, and then lips press there too, cramming something inside so Jack is robbed of speech- a blunted tongue, bloated by blackened promises… it feels like.
“Don’t bother,” says Victorian Coat even as he smushes his mouth harder against Jack’s then pulls away, “…the piano player sent me, the manipulative sod. I think I hate him, except that he’s pregnant, and I’m fairly certain he didn’t hate me.” He turns to the man at the piano- the oddball is still wearing his long creamy coat colored of camel… at least he was when he… “Two, no… three miracles in one night. I shall have to think further on’t. Good day, Wrong weather, Captain! Don’t bother following me- my memory doesn’t!”
Just like that, the wet and angry dog becomes a boy again and fades away out of doors into the night, leaving Jack dizzy on a bar stool, wondering why and what, and how the hell.
Then his half-diverted bead on the piano player, Jack sticks a hand in his mouth to soothe the stung muscle as he scrambles from his seat toward the big black and white piano in the back. The sound of a supply door swinging clambers like reason up the backs of the legs of his ears, and he sighs as he reaches for the sheet of music sitting demure on the stand above the keys.
But as he holds it up to the dim round lights in the ceiling, it’s only then he realizes.
There was no music. But the bench is warm to the touch. –He- was here, playing… from memory.
Jack looks down at the sheet of paper he’s retrieved. The edges feel smooth; there’s weight to the paper, too, like Old Earth vellum.
It’s an ad for a job offer…
Rare Antiquities Museum
Applicants needed for Security Detail
The Indsø Tys in Fortescue Sector