sam_storyteller: (Default)
sam_storyteller ([personal profile] sam_storyteller) wrote2005-07-18 01:10 pm

The Harkness Variations; Post-CoE

Title: The Harkness Variations
Rating: PG-13 (violence, innuendo)
Summary: Ten ways Jack's life could have been different -- some better, some worse, for him and for others.
Warnings: Character death. #10 has very, very mild CoE spoilers (translation: Not THAT character).
BETA CREDIT JESUS: [ profile] 51stcenturyfox beta'd the hell out of this.

Originally Posted 7.25.09

Also available at AO3.


Ten Ways Things Could Have been Different

I. 1941

He'd missed snagging the ambulance vessel by mere minutes; a war salvager had got there ahead of him. By the time Jack caught up with them their comms had gone silent, and when he boarded he found all hands dead, their faces contorted into the smooth glassy surface of an EVA helmet.

Jack decontam'd four times before he re-entered his ship, and decided perhaps his volcano-day con had run its course.

In the records of a 1941 wartime hospital, there is a strange demise listed for one Jane Doe, blonde, age approximately 20 years.

Cause of death: fall from a barrage balloon.

II. 1973

"Delivery," the uniformed man grunted, setting a large carton on the table of the film library's office. "And pickup."

"Pickup?" the archivist drawled. "No film to pick up here."

"Oh yeah," the man flashed a clipboard briefly. "Swappin' out new film reels for your old stuff."

"I thought we were wiping those."

"New trade-in program from the film company. We'll take 'em off your hands," Jack Harkness, time-traveling antique dealer, beamed sunnily.

"Next lot, a complete set of the missing Doctor Who episodes, originally thought to be lost in the early seventies. What am I bid for this priceless archive?"

III. 5121

Jack said all the right things. He raged at the Time Agency for stealing two years from him, threatened to quit, and made a half-hearted attempt to find out what he'd done. Once they'd slapped him on the wrist for that, he played the meek reformed agent and accepted his minor demotion with a humble expression.

He wouldn't for worlds have told them that the Retcon didn't take, now that he knew the Agency's filthiest secrets. With some judicious whispering and a little well-applied pillow talk, he could be director of the agency in ten years.

Well, maybe twelve.

IV. 2001

It wasn't that he didn't like Rose and the Doctor. He just wasn't made for settling down, even by their loose definition of the phrase. When they stopped off in Cardiff in the twenty-first century, he left a note on the TARDIS console and quietly slipped away for good.

There was a woman, Suzie Costello, who started out a one-night-stand (quaint term!) and ended recruiting him for this thing called Torchwood. Jack had never put his life expectancy at more than a few years longer so, when she killed him and tested the glove on him, he wasn't very surprised.

V. 1963

He wasn't going honest. He was doing recon in the era, waiting for a valuable shipping pod that was supposed to crash down in the next few months. The teaching job was a cover, an excuse to go specimen-hunting in the greenbelt where the pod was going to land.

But he found he liked his students. When he wore the name Ian Chesterton he felt so...respectable. Besides, Barbara was fun. And it'd been a long time since he'd played the slow-seduction game.

When she suggested they find out what was up with Susan Foreman, he thought, Sure. Why not?

VI. 200,100

Jack gasped awake -- back to life -- in the empty gamestation. He didn't hesitate; he could feel the time vortex thrumming in him, and Rose's silent call -- Come on, Jack; come, come.

"Anything you say," he muttered as he ran. He reached the control room and dove across the floor, landing just inside the closing TARDIS doors.

He never asked why the Doctor hated him after that. Why tempt fate? Being the Doctor's immortal dog was better than being anyone else's god. He'd stay as long as he was allowed.

The Doctor would get used to him, surely.

VII. 1999

Jack left the Hub on December 31st hoping when he came back the party would be swinging. Then he realised that he'd left his sidearm in his locker.

By the time he returned, Terence was dead and Anya wounded. Jack gave her enough cover to slam the archive door shut, locking Elise and Zimmer safely inside.

"You can't stop this, Jack!" Alex shouted.

"He just went nuts," Anya whispered.

Jack took Alex out with a single shot to the head. More merciful that way. Torchwood London sent a replacement.

Toshiko Sato died in a UNIT prison during an escape attempt.

VIII. 2006

Tosh had flu and couldn't go to London for the research Jack needed. Grumbling, Jack went himself.

Jones, the gorgeous research assistant they assigned him, was clever and quick. When Jack grabbed his ass he just turned and quipped, "My cash is in my coat pocket, Captain."

"You should come work for me," Jack said. "I need an archivist."

"I have a girlfriend."

"I like threesomes."

Neither Ianto nor Lisa could resist the pay, though. Or, once they realised Jack wasn't joking, the sex.

The day Torchwood London was destroyed, Jack gathered them both close and held them for hours.

IX. 5087

Jack felt Gray's fingernails scrape his palm as he stumbled and fell. He pulled his brother up by the collar of his tunic, hauling them both into the shadow of a brittle-rooted tree. He stroked his hair and hummed songs as the Creatures culled their homeland.

"Oh, thank god," his mother said, when they returned. She abandoned their father's corpse and wrapped them both in her arms.

Jack couldn't go to war; he had a brother to look after. He went to university instead. His first best-seller was a touching story of life for two brothers on the Boeshane Peninsula.

X. 2010

"In 1965, these aliens made contact," Jack said, lying on his side in Ianto's bed. "They wanted twelve children. I was supposed to deliver them. Orphans. I went along with it, for a while. Halfway to the rendezvous point I shot our entire escort and took the kids home."

"What happened?" Ianto asked.

"Plague 1966," Jack replied. "Twelve million people died."

Ianto's eyes closed. "Because you said no."


"I'm so sorry."

"Sometimes you have to make a hard decision. Sometimes you decide wrong."

"Why are you telling me this?"

Jack traced Ianto's lips with his thumb. "Because I can, I suppose."

[identity profile] 2009-07-25 03:50 pm (UTC)(link)
*happy sigh*

And oh, so many of these are just perfect tiny little fic ideas waiting to explode. I'm almost afraid to touch them because I know they'll break in my hands!
elisi: (Jack by chatona)

[personal profile] elisi 2009-07-25 03:52 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh *excellent*!

[identity profile] 2009-07-25 03:54 pm (UTC)(link)
These are lovely, especially no. 8.

[identity profile] 2009-07-25 03:55 pm (UTC)(link)
I LOVE Nr. 8. :D

[identity profile] 2009-07-25 04:15 pm (UTC)(link)
That has completely scrambled my head @_@ Some heartbreaking, some beautiful, all incredible.

[identity profile] 2009-07-25 04:17 pm (UTC)(link)
I like X very much.

[identity profile] 2009-07-25 04:25 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh my! Several of these would make wonderful AU stories. Thank you for sharing, Sam!

[identity profile] 2009-07-25 04:30 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh dear, I just had a plot wolverine take a chunk out of my leg --- what if the 'Creatures too Terrible to Imagine' from no. 9 were the same aliens as in No. 10? I CAN'T write it myself, since I refuse to watch TW S3... (spoilers can be our friends!)...

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[identity profile] 2009-07-25 04:27 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh God, thank you for this. They're all pure gems, but I love 5 and 8. And 10, especially, because I refuse to believe Jack never opened up to Ianto.

[identity profile] 2009-07-25 05:19 pm (UTC)(link)
Well, I dated 10 "2010" on purpose -- I think it's not unlikely that Jack didn't open up to Ianto as much as he could have, pre-CoE, in part because if he tells Ianto every horrible thing that ever happened to him he's going to be talking for a LONG time. :D So I think given more time Jack might start to tell more stories, but it would need that emotional kick of Tosh and Owen dying, and a deepening relationship, before he could.

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[identity profile] 2009-07-25 04:33 pm (UTC)(link)
I love the possibilty resonating in these. They inspired my mind! Thanks:)

[identity profile] 2009-07-25 04:40 pm (UTC)(link)
This is like a viewmaster fic. See a picture. Click. See another. Click. See the last one and BAM! the viewmaster explodes. Meaning that you really do always know just how to "end" your stories to make them something more than just the sum of their parts. What a great kicker.

I loved the whole thing, but my favorite bits:

#3 because I can see that, #4 creeped me out, #6 was poignant, #7 was sad, #8 OMG I ship this now! And of course #10 is my favorite and I love it, with a sweet honorable mention to #9 because I like thinking of Jack as a writer.

[identity profile] 2009-07-25 05:17 pm (UTC)(link)
I'd like to write a Time Agency Corporate Climber fic sometime, I won't lie; the setup fascinates me.

Seven, with Alex trying to kill everyone, was quite sad, but at the same time I feel like it's also a redemption -- he never knew Tosh, so he couldn't feel that loss, and he got to save three of his friends from death. Plus he wouldn't feel as responsible for Alex, because he shot him in self-defence instead of pleading with him to stop as Alex shot himself.

The threesome seems very popular, and I like the idea, but I think I like almost more the idea of Jack clinging to them while Torchwood London burns -- watching it on the telly, trying to get through to UNIT, and Ianto and Lisa so grateful to be in Cardiff and so broken to see all of their friends dying. There wasn't room in the drabble but I really wanted the image of the two of them standing together, holding hands, trying to be brave for Jack as they watch.

I think Jack would make a great novelist :D

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[identity profile] 2009-07-25 04:43 pm (UTC)(link)
aww, these are just brilliant! Makes you realise how important Jack is to so many people. And the consequences of his actions. Simply lovely, your work continues to amaze me.

[identity profile] 2009-07-25 04:56 pm (UTC)(link)
This is brilliant! It's a horrible tease, of course, but brilliant, and I'd rather have Stories Sam Probably Won't Write In Full than no Sam stories at all.

(...I want to read III, VI, and VIII soooo bad, though.)

[identity profile] 2009-07-25 05:12 pm (UTC)(link)
I really like the threesome idea, though I have to admit my personal favourite is II, Jack as an antique dealer. :D
rhianona: (ian and barbara)

[personal profile] rhianona 2009-07-25 05:08 pm (UTC)(link)
very nice possibilities. I am amused by the idea of jack, ianto and lisa in a threesome. Now someone should actually write that.

I also really liked no.5 , but then Ian, Barbara and Susan are my favorite companions.

[identity profile] 2009-07-25 05:12 pm (UTC)(link)
I have to admit after I wrote it I found the idea of the threesome sort of charming -- Ianto and Lisa have each other and get to have Jack, and Jack in turn has two people to love him.
ext_29271: (Default)

[identity profile] 2009-07-25 05:12 pm (UTC)(link)
Once again, you've made my day with your fantastic bits of insight into the 'verse that is TW. I think I love you. ♥

I really do love your work. Thank you for this.

[identity profile] 2009-07-25 05:16 pm (UTC)(link)
beautiful vignettes...

[identity profile] 2009-07-25 05:20 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh loved these. 5, 8 and 10 were my favourites :-)

[identity profile] 2009-07-25 05:29 pm (UTC)(link)
Ohh, that last bit. I love the whole thing, but that was the part that really got me.

[identity profile] 2009-07-25 05:39 pm (UTC)(link)
Ooh, some fascinating glimpses of different stories. Thank you for this.
ext_29257: (DW: I see what you did there!)

[identity profile] 2009-07-25 05:50 pm (UTC)(link)
These are all brilliant :) I like that the reader has vestly different reactions to each one, but mostly bitter-sweet, I think. The potential for the canon adventures/heartbreak/joy is lost when the different actions are taken - even if these actions save lives - but the potential in the AU is lost in the canon. And especially I love that each drabble contains a bit of give-and-take - save 12 children and a piece of your soul, but kill 12 million. Or rejoin Rose and the Doctor in the TARDIS but lose the Doctor's love. I like that you don't try to just 'fix' things. And I like the slightly different Jacks we see in each one.

Which is rambly, but what I mean is yes, very lovely. I really really like no 9 for some reason :)

[identity profile] 2009-07-25 05:53 pm (UTC)(link)
1963 should be a full fic. Especially when Jack and the Doctor finally confront each other, time traveler to time traveler.

[identity profile] 2009-07-25 08:07 pm (UTC)(link)
The re-meeting would be really and truly awesome. :D

[identity profile] 2009-07-25 05:57 pm (UTC)(link)
These are great. One little thing, and tragedy is averted (or not). You win, Sam.

[identity profile] 2009-07-25 06:01 pm (UTC)(link)
Old Doctor Who episodes! Awesome.

Although, you went on a bit of a killing spree, huh. Rose goes splat, Tosh dies in prison. VI just kind of hurts, poor Jack.

I really want more of VIII. Not just the sex (OK, the sex too), but the whole dynamic. It seems like an interesting set up, and I'd like to see how it works out.

And of course, I love X for obvious reasons. :o)

[identity profile] 2009-07-25 08:04 pm (UTC)(link)
Yeah, I think this is the first time I've had to warn for character death. I was looking at it going, warnings? HUH. WEIRD.

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julesjones: (Default)

[personal profile] julesjones 2009-07-25 06:06 pm (UTC)(link)
Love this. Just love it. And like a lot of other people, 5 and 8 are my favourites. I'd love to see the idea in 5 as a longer piece.

[identity profile] 2009-07-25 06:11 pm (UTC)(link)
Glad to see you keeping up the drabbling. :) These are great fun but also a little...sad? There's sort of a cumulative impact when you get to the end and realize just how much has gone wrong for him (even if they aren't all about his losses). Also, the order of arrangement here is one of the most effective things, just the little shifts in tone and rhythm that make for a kind of reader's hopscotch. Love that.

All wonderful, but V inspires geeky glee and X guts me.

Am I allowed to self-insert in VII? I'd gladly take a bullet for the chance of a rescue by the Handsome Safety Captain. :D

[identity profile] 2009-07-25 08:03 pm (UTC)(link)
I was going, in some ways, for "Look how much has gone right for him" but without the done-to-death It's A Wonderful Life motif.

I have to say I was pulling names out of the air but surely there's a reason Anya came to me as a name :D Go to town, if you want to be a Torchwood Survivor I am all the way on board. :D

[identity profile] 2009-07-25 06:11 pm (UTC)(link)
All gorgeous. I'll particularly take 10 as truth. :-)

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