The Storyteller

Left Behind

Did I mention he's immortal?

Immortal? Seriously?

It's a long story, involving the heart of the TARDIS and a girl...

Yeah, I bet there was.

...and a misunderstanding. You can't blame the TARDIS for making mistakes. She's twice as old as I am, poor girl. We've been to places her and me.

Get a room.

When Jack died the first time the girl in question used the most powerful source of energy in the universe to bring him back to life. She wanted him to live so the TARDIS made him live forever.

Well, forever...

He lived to die a thousand deaths because one human girl failed to differentiate between life and mortality. Nothing good ever comes without a price, I guess. If you think immortality is a good thing. It's as much a curse as it is a blessing...

In the dark, Jack shot back to life with a gasp with not a clue to what had just happened. There was barely any breath left in the dark tunnels, only ash and bones and a man who similarly shot upright at the sound of his beating heart.

Imagine being left there in total darkness knowing there're skulls all around you and bones making up the very ground you stand on. The empire of the dead isn't a place you enter lightly nor simply leave.

Of course, anyone who's ever been to Beta-Lemon One can testify to that of course. The difference between the dead and the immortal is not having life, it's living it.

Well, there was no chance of that down there. The pirates had gone and left without a trace and without as much of a breath left behind in the dust. Jack wondered how long he'd been out.

How long had that poor man been left alone here among the dead?

"Hey, hey!" Jack yelled into the dark. "Listen to me! I'm alive!"

He tried to calm the man down aiming his voice for the sobbing in the dark whilst feeling his way across the floor to find the key to his escape.

He'd hoped they had left him lying exactly where he had dropped. If they'd moved him he was never going to find his way out of there, at least not for another hundred years. A hundred years trapped in the sewers, can you imagine that?

He found a human femur as old as the mine itself and as dryer than the dust and he threw it out of his way.

"I'm looking for something!" he said. "If I can find it, I can get us out of here!"

"Who are you?" the man said in the dark. Jack knew names would be futile at this point.

"I'm Captain Jack Harkness," he replied and then he found what he was looking for. He'd touched the end of Michelle's boot, which was attached to a leg and in the pockets of its pants he found his lucky charm.

"Thanks for saving my life girls," he said to the dust. If they hadn't taken it away from him the pirates would've had it now. He wanted to say he was sorry but knew there was no point now.

He'd found his handy time vortex manipulator still wrapped in handsome leather. Except it was all out of juice.

It had been three decades since he last used it. Jack figured that if he had to be lucky any day, it might as well be today.

"Listen! I found it!"

He wrapped it around his wrist and with a tap on a button he managed to turn on the thermo-crystals the pirates had left behind. There was even still a huff of smoke coming off them (still smouldering) which gave the indication they hadn't been gone long.

Among the bones there was a familiar face crawling in the dust. Just another fellow traveller.

"Captain Jack Harkness..." he repeated formally. "What's your name?"

But before Gustave could answer his question Jack shot back upright.

"Whoa! Usually it takes years to soak up that much background radiation but now it seems to have stockpiled overnight! Oh, that's brilliant."

But Jack realized this wasn't a miracle. The pirates had brought something with them when they returned to the tunnels. Something powerful cloaked beneath a dark veil and a mystery, and discovering his "old friend" had been involved with it just confirmed it.

"This can't be right," Jack realized. "This means the floodgates are open. The readings are off the chart!"

"What is that thing?" Gustave asked. "You said it could help us get out of here. Is it some sort of compass or distress beacon? Can we be rescued?"

"Afraid not, gramps. But there's another thing we can do now. Oh, I've been waiting so long for this."

"What?"

"Teleport. Don't go anywhere without it."

Suddenly something moved in the corner of his eyes and Jack almost thought it'd been a body come back to life as he had. Any other day, any other moment, Jack would've drawn his gun, but not that moment. The boy lived.

"Bernárd!" Gustave rushed to help his young protégé. Many years ago a dying girl made him make a promise to look after him. Whether the boy really was his son is unknown, whether the promise was made wasn't.

"Am I dead?" the boy asked. "Is this heaven?"

Jack watched Gustave struggle to find words of comfort. A man's mind is not so easily repaired as his projects were. Somehow he had to find the courage to tell the young boy his suffering wasn't over. His actual death was yet to come.

Gustave realized the boy had come to terms with his fate. All his tears had already been shed. The teenager seemed a hollow shell of the eager and curious young soul he once was. Just hours ago.

"I'll get you out of here, Bernárd," Gustave promised him. "I will."

Jack kept quiet. He didn't dare to extinguish this flicker of hope before it had even had a chance to grow.

Yet the readings didn't lie (only he could) and the ugly truth would have to rear its head sooner or later, so Jack swallowed and braced himself. How he hated moments like these...

And yet for Jack Harkness this wouldn't be the last time he'be faced with a choice like this.

"I'm sorry," he said. "I'm so sorry..."

Gustave turned as he helped Bernárd up.

"The teleporter only has enough energy right now to carry two," Jack broke the news. "Not three."

"Father?"

Gustave tightly hugged Bernárd and Jack looked away.

"You could come back," Gustave suggested.

"No."

"Bring us home one at a time."

"No."

"You could come back!"

"We're buried deep below the surface. It's dark. I don't know where we are," Jack spoke and every sentence seemed to cut Gustave's spirit physically. "I need co-ordinates! I could teleport myself into the ground. Merge my atoms into the Parissiene rock."

"Please..."

"Listen! If there was any way of bringing all of us to the surface I would do it. If there was any way I could stay behind myself and let you two live, I would do it!"

The actual words came as a surprise to Jack. What scared him more was the fact that the thought of it didn't scare him at all. Their lives felt far more precious than his own bohemian existence, wandering for a hundred years waiting for the man who could fix him.

But someone had to take the wheel. Controlling a vortex manipulator is more instinct than knowledge. You let the current take you where you want to go.

"I'm sorry," Jack finally said. Gustave was going to have to make a choice.

Maybe if Gustave had told him who he was it would've made Jack hesitant to agree with his choice, maybe he would've been reluctant to let the great engineer Gustave Eiffel, remembered by history for the Tower that bears his name, die alone in an empire of death 24 years before his time, but Gustave pushed Bernárd into his hands and Jack accepted him.

"Take him!" Gustave said. "I'm an old man. I don't have many years left in me. He's young. He has a future."

Both cases wrong, but Jack obviously didn't know that, did he? Of course, at the time, neither did I.

Jack nodded and before Bernárd realized what had just happened he had already inserted the right co-ordinates and disappeared in a flash.

Gustave sank to his knees in the dark, not knowing that the criticism of the Eiffel Tower would fade eventually and that the appreciation for his creation would grow with time and France.

His Tower would be an icon for the very country that previously loathed it. A symbol of hope to every patriot. A remarkable change of heart in just so little time.

Of course, he also didn't know the entire universe was going to end in about six hours. You always assume the universe will go on after you die, in whatever form or shape it happens to find comfortable, but you don't expect everything you have once known to come crashing down that very same day.

But he didn't die that day. He died in 1923, didn't he? I read about him in school.

Things aren't always what they seem, Amy. Especially not when I'm around. Then suddenly things go all bump in the night.

Sometimes stories don't end the way they should. Sometimes they end mid-sentence.

Sometimes...life isn't fair.

You said this wasn't going to be a depressing story!

D'you think I was going to let it end like this? Then you don't know me as well as you think you do. Then you don't know me at all!

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