The Long Nights
By Mickie Newton
Gwen, when she first joined Torchwood so long ago, asked Jack “When do you get to go home? You seem to live here. You don't, do you?” He smiled and replied “Gotta be ready. The twenty-first century's when it all changes. And I hate the commute.” Gwen then asked with a gentle smile “Where do you sleep?” Jacks reply was simple “I don't.”
Gwen found curiosity creeping in “Doesn't it get lonely at night?” Jack doesn't answer. How could he. She answered it for him. Yes. It does. Alone with a past he found hard to live with at times and with an uncertain future. The only two things he was certain of was that the 21st century was changing and his future was never ending. The only thing he would try and focus on was the here and now. After all, he could do nothing about the things he regretted about his past and much of, but not all of, his future that was' as of yet, unwritten.
He'd implied he never slept. Well what is sleep? You lay down. Close your eyes. And your brain shuts down everything that isn't needed in order for the body and mind to rest and re-charge the batteries. Without sleep the body would become exhausted and unable to function and you'd probably just pack up. Jack's body was constantly repairing itself. So sleep was something he didn't really need. Sleep, when he did lay down, close his eyes and allow his brain to shut his body down, was something he would do when he was with Ianto, to seem normal, or just something to do at night.
The problem was that though his body would give up to the nights sleep, his mind wouldn't. Jack's dreams, nightmares, were far more vivid. More real than anyone else's he knew. His were never abstract plays of problems he had and how he may solve them. Jack's dreams were reality events of both his past and future. Things he'd seen, witnessed and done. Much of which he tried to forget, which is impossible to do when asleep and you succumb to your subconscious. But no matter how much he tried to explain this to Ianto, Gwen, or any one of them for that matter, they would never, could never understand. No. There was only one individual in time and space, past and present, who knew exactly what Jack was going through. There was only ever one, from the moment Jack popped back into existence, who could ever know. The Doctor.
Almost a thousand years old. So much life. So much loss and pain. He, like Jack, has lived in the past and the future. And like Jack he has things he wanted to forget and couldn’t. All he could really do was bury them. And like Jack, he never really slept. But Jack had made the choice to stay with his team, his family. But even when he was with The Doctor, he never spoke to him about such trivialities. He never asked how he had coped all this time with his demons and angels of memories. They were always too busy saving someone or something or somewhere. So it never came up.
So instead, when The Hub was still a reality, Jack would go out alone Weevil hunting or on long walks to try and clear his mind. He'd sit at Gwen’s computer watching the world. Never used Tosh's because it was usually busy calculating or analysing something and you never used Owen's because, well because it was Owen's, need one say more. And Ianto just used Gwen's.
And now Torchwood is all but gone, surviving only through Jack and Gwen. And no Hub to go and hide in during the long nights. The nights haven't got any easier since the loss of Owen, Tosh, Steven and Ianto. Yes, especially that of Steven and Ianto. Both he loved dearly and both left him feeling a much deeper guilt than that of anyone else. Yes. Those losses have added to Jack's inner demons that haunt him both day and night. Every second, of his unending life. More guilt to carry on his shoulders along with those collected over the past 150 odd years. Or was that 2,000 and odd. All the time travel and being buried, he's lost track how old he really is and how long it is since his life was changed forever.
So now what? What do you do when there's no Hub to hide away in? Maybe no Weevils to hunt down and although he did enjoy hunting them alone; he missed the shared excitement with Ianto when they hunted together. Hunting alone, permanently alone didn't have the same feel. It just reminded him of his loneliness.
Before everything changed. Before the end of The Hub and all the terrible losses; Jack was content and happy to stay. Now there was only Gwen, whose life was now taken up, and rightly so, with Rhys and Anwen. Jack had never wanted to hear those wheezing engines of the TARDIS as much as he did now. Now he was pretty sure that if the Doctor asked now, he'd be in the TARDIS quicker than the Doctor could click his fingers. But for now, he would stay. Try and continue his work of Torchwood with Gwen. Even Rhys helped on occasions. He would do all he could to protect this small family that meant so much to him. On earth they are all he has. For now he would just wait out those long nights alone, forever waiting for the right Doctor to come along...