Pairing: Jack/Wilde, (Jack/Doctor, Wilde/Lord Alfred Douglas mentioned)
Characters: Jack, Wilde
Summary: "Have I not stood face to face with beauty; that is enough for one man’s life." - Oscar Wilde.
Spoilers: Torchwood 2x12: Fragments, DW: 3x11: Utopia -- for Jack's backstory. The beginning of the story takes place during DW 1x03: The Unquiet Dead. Spoilers for and allusions to Wilde's life, summarized here, abound. And, of course, the story is based on and around Wilde's novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray.
Wordcount: ~1500 words
Author's Notes: This was originally written for round 3x09 of writerinadrawer; for which the challenge was to write a story which would include a photograph which one of the characters had in their possession, as well as a song title.
Christmas Eve, 1869
Outside the music hall, snow was falling.
Inside, soon Charles Dickens would be reading from "A Christmas Carol" and it was Christmas Eve, and Jack knew he shouldn't be here. This wasn't the right time. Yet nevertheless, here he was, skulking around, waiting for a glimpse, just a glimpse, of the Doctor. And Rose. Before they'd ever seen him.
He narrowed his eyes at the door. Soon, he'd have to leave; he couldn't risk messing up the time stream. Not if it meant somehow changing things so they never met him. Angry as he was at being abandoned, he wasn't willing to risk that.
As he stared, someone came through the door. A boy, about fifteen, dark-haired, with intense eyes. He stood near to Jack, and fumbled in his breast pocket briefly, then pulled out what appeared to be a cigarette.
The boy took a puff, and then shook his head. "God bless us every one," he mimicked savagely. "What unforgivable drivel."
Catching his eye, Jack tried hard not to laugh. "Not fond of Dickens then, I take it?" he asked.
"On the contrary," the boy said. " If genius is measured in pain, he has it in abundance. He makes me weep as well as laugh. Now if only it were intentional."
Jack grinned. "Why did you come if you dislike him so?"
"My parents," he said disgustedly. "My father went to school with Mr. Whiffen, and now that he's mayor, he's invited us for a winter visit. A house party. In Wales. And nothing would do, but we must all come to hear Dickens in the snow. Dickens! Of all the tedious, sanctimonious slop. I escaped, and will be stricken down with some sort of diplomatic illness that will necessitate my returning to the house forthwith. And you, sir, why are you not inside where it's warm?"
"I'm waiting for a friend."
"Rather odd place to meet a friend, isn’t it?"
"I didn't say I was meeting him. Perhaps I don't want him to see me, and I'm waiting to see him pass before I venture forth."
The boy smiled, and Jack noticed his eyelashes were very long. Stop it, he ordered himself silently. This was 19th century earth, and this was a child. Even with those come-hither eyes. "I can perfectly understand your sentiments. Friends, like pieces of fine art, are often best appreciated from a distance."
Jack choked with laughter, and the boy looked back at him deadpan. "How very true," Jack said finally, when he could speak again.
"You are a long way from home, are you not?" the boy asked, furrowing his brow. "I cannot place you at all."
"I am. And so are you," Jack pointed out. "Irish, right?"
The boy nodded. "Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde, at your service," he declared proudly. "And you are?"
Jack blinked with surprise. "Captain Jack Harkness," he said, after too long a pause. "6th Dragoon Guards. Pleased to meet you… Mr. Wilde."
A group of carolers swung by, and Jack could hear the strains of "Good King Wenceslas" in the distance. Christmas. What a joke.
"Likewise," Wilde said. "Will you be waiting here long? For your friend?"
"I don't know," Jack said. "I might die first, I guess."
Wilde stared at him, clearly uncertain about whether he was joking.
"Just kidding. You should get inside though. Or home, or whatever."
Jack leered at him. "Because you're far too young and pretty to be out here with the likes of me." There now. That would scare him. Have him run to the police or his mother or--
Wilde raised an eyebrow. "Just pretty enough, I'd say."
Oh god. This was Oscar Wilde. And he was, it appeared, quite willing. And he, Jack, needed to get the hell out of here before he did something really stupid. Like taking advantage of whatever seemed to be on offer. Because he was sad, and lonely, and it was Oscar fucking Wilde, for god's sake.
"Sadly," he said hurriedly, "I really do have to be going. But… I'll remember our meeting." He stretched out a hand to shake the boy's, then -- what the hell, you only live once, right? Quickly scanning the street to make sure no one was coming, he pulled him in and kissed him.
When he pulled back, the boy was looking at him with a strange expression.
"Sorry," Jack said. "I thought--"
"No," Wilde said. "It was just… you taste like… starlight."
Jack winced. "Part of my charm," he said. "Goodbye, Oscar."
And with that, he hurried down the street. Before he added another crime onto his list. Something else the Doctor and Rose wouldn't be able to forgive, when they came for him. If they came.
Christmas Eve, 1889
"I know you," the man drawled. "I know I know you." He took a puff of his cigarette.
Nearby, a gentleman in an odd costume of velvet knickerbockers, and flowing shirt thumped out 'Good King Wenceslas' on the piano, while a young man and his older companion in Grecian-style robes sang along. Various other people doing various intoxicating substances seemed to ring the rooms.
"Still smoking, I see," Jack said. The boy had filled out, quite a bit, but the eyes were still the same, intense and piercing, and there was still a laugh hiding behind the ever-present sneer.
"A cigarette is the perfect pleasure. It is exquisite, and it leaves one unsatisfied. What more can one possibly want?”
Jack smiled. "I can think of a few things."
"You said, 'still' smoking. Which means I am not mistaken. You've seen me before."
"How on earth did you get invited to this party? It's meant to be quite select. And we don't generally get military men in our little corner of the world."
"Surprising, that. And… tragic."
Wilde raised a supercilious eyebrow. "For us?"
"For the army, of course."
"How very unexpected you are," he said, laughing. "And yet, somehow… not. It's coming back to me… and…is it possible?!"
Jack leaned back in his chair casually. "Most things are."
"You haven't aged a single day. Captain."
"Please," Jack said, "call me Jack."
"It's been twenty years," Wilde said with disbelief.
"You know it has." He stubbed out his cigarette, and stared at Jack's face keenly, reaching out a hand to touch its contours, and Jack felt the pleasure pooling at the base of his spine.
"Have you found the fountain of youth?" Wilde asked. "Have you sold your soul?"
"A long time ago, and many times over since then." Jack said. "Was it worth it?"
"Oh, yes," he said seriously. "Beauty always is. Did you ever find your friend? The one you were waiting for?"
"No," Jack said shortly.
"Like the cigarette, perhaps the pleasure is in the lack."
Jack shook his head, but didn't say anything.
"We'll go to the studio, Jack. Gilman will take us, if I ask him. A photograph. I must have this moment immortalized at least, if you won't share the fountain of your youth."
"There are some fountains I'd be happy to share," Jack said with a smirk.
Wilde laughed. "First, the photograph. It will remind me that I haven't dreamed this…. And then… yes, I'd like to see if you still taste like the stars. Do you?"
Jack grinned. "Why don't we find out?"
Christmas Eve, 1899
Wilde sat at the piano, idly picking out a tune.
"Good old King Wenceslas," Jack said, from the doorway.
"The song is the same, and you are the same," he said. "Only I have changed."
Jack sighed. "I'm sorry."
"I did it to myself," Wilde said, his mouth twisting bitterly.
"Some of it," Jack admitted. "Not all."
"I should not have loved him."
"Probably not, no."
"I still do," Wilde said. "After everything, losing my family, losing myself… everything I cared about. I still do."
Jack put a hand on his shoulder. "I know."
After a pause, Wilde said, "I wrote it for you, you know."
Jack smiled. "Dorian? It didn't end well."
"How could it?"
"Do you think I'm evil?"
He turned to look at Jack. "Probably. Beautiful things – the painter, the painted, the portrait -- usually are. It doesn't matter."
"It matters to me."
"After we parted ways," Jack said, "I went to America. The miners were as delicious as you said. But… do you remember how you used to say a man could survive anything except death?"
"Sometimes, apparently, they can survive that too."
Wilde turned back to the piano. "I can see now how life might be a burden. I didn't understand before." He sighed. "Go away now, my Dorian. When I'm dead, I'll have them send you the picture. It won't be long now."
"No," Jack agreed slowly.
"I thought so," Wilde said.
As Jack left, he could hear the tinkling sounds of the carol playing him down the hall.
"~Sire, the night is darker now/ And the wind blows stronger…~"