Like a Wink and a Smile

Episode 2: Attachments

Summary:In which attachments are sent, recalled, discussed, and formed.
Timeline:June-July 2013; starting two days after “Crossing the Coffee Table.”
Published:May 12, 2021 (Part 1); January 1, 2022 (Part 2); February 14, 2022 (Part 3); October 04, 2023 (Part 4)
Rating:PG-13/T - Part 1 has some unsubtle innuendo and some possibly NSFW songs linked; click at your own discretion. Part 2 is such kiss, so naked, very lime, wow. Part 4 includes a non-graphic discussion about bodily harm and death.
Betas:Lily Winterwood and Thoth.


The timestamps on the e-mails in Part 1 display the number of days since LWS 1, then the hour in military time.

For your convenience, you can find the lyrics to all the songs in Part 1 here, and a playlist can be found here. Apologies for unpredictable variations in volume.

Part 1: Fascinating Rhythm | Part 2: All That Jazz | Part 3: Shall We Dance? | Part 4: Simple Melody

Part 1: Fascinating Rhythm

From:Jacques Bonnefoy [jbonnefoy.console34184c1844h341843a18418i.rc5242.ESAS]
To:Jennifer Robinson [jrobinson.console3114ps94394fp42865.rcC-14.FICPSYCH]
Sent:02 17:22

‘Accentuate the Positive’ – Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters

From:Jennifer Robinson [jrobinson.console3114ps94394fp42865.rcC-14.FICPSYCH]
To:Jacques Bonnefoy [jbonnefoy.console34184c1844h341843a18418i.rc5242.ESAS]
Sent:02 20:39

Dear occupant(s) of RC 5242:

What a nice thing to find in my inbox this evening! That song has a message I can get behind. Very cute.

Sadly, I’m sure you can’t have meant to send it to me. I suggest you be more careful next time so there’s no repetition of this happy mistake.

Kind regards,

Jennifer Robinson

From:Jacques Bonnefoy [jbonnefoy.console34184c1844h341843a18418i.rc5242.ESAS]
To:Jennifer Robinson [jrobinson.console3114ps94394fp42865.rcC-14.FICPSYCH]
Sent:03 12:40

Hey Sandy!

I’ve been thinking about the last time we got together.  Now, I know you’re not much of one for bars, so what do you think of this for a proposition?

‘Tea For Two’ – Doris Day

Let me know.  ;)

-Danny from the beach

From:Jennifer Robinson [jrobinson.console3114ps94394fp42865.rcC-14.FICPSYCH]
To:Jacques Bonnefoy [jbonnefoy.console34184c1844h341843a18418i.rc5242.ESAS]
Sent:03 14:18

You’re a bad boy, Danny. You better shape up if you want to go to the school fair with me.

—Miss Sandy Olssen and her adorable poodle skirt.

P.S. “Tea For Two” – Bishop Allen

From:Jacques Bonnefoy [jbonnefoy.console34184c1844h341843a18418i.rc5242.ESAS]
To:Jennifer Robinson [jrobinson.console3114ps94394fp42865.rcC-14.FICPSYCH]
Subject:Re. Re.
Sent:03 20:48

Aw, Sandy, you know I’m just having fun!

‘Fascinating Rhythm’Lady Be Good soundtrack (Gershwin Brothers)

Ever come across this musical before?  It’s pretty old by now, but still a good time.

-Danny Zuko in leather

PS: Bonus Eleanor Powell.  That’s the overture she’s dancing to.  Isn’t she amazing?

From:Jennifer Robinson [jrobinson.console3114ps94394fp42865.rcC-14.FICPSYCH]
To:Jacques Bonnefoy [jbonnefoy.console34184c1844h341843a18418i.rc5242.ESAS]
Subject:Re. Re. Re.
Sent:03 21:12

Oh, Danny. When I hear music, I just can’t make my feet behave. ;)

Eleanor Powell is tripping the light fantastic. Gorgeous. (And her little dog, too!)

Gotta love the Gershwins. I don’t know that musical, but I have heard that “Fascinating Rhythm” before. :) Gets me thinking . . .

“Shall We Dance?”, The King and I – Rodgers & Hammerstein

—Sandy, stealing someone else’s line. (The school secretary or something?)

From:Jacques Bonnefoy [jbonnefoy.console34184c1844h341843a18418i.rc5242.ESAS]
To:Jennifer Robinson [jrobinson.console3114ps94394fp42865.rcC-14.FICPSYCH]
Subject:Re. Re. Re. Re.
Sent:04 03:17

You know, Sandy, I’d love to say yes, but...

‘I Won’t Dance’ – Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers (from Roberta)

What can I say?  I won’t dance!  Why should I?

-Danny, combing his hair

From:Jennifer Robinson [jrobinson.console3114ps94394fp42865.rcC-14.FICPSYCH]
To:Jacques Bonnefoy [jbonnefoy.console34184c1844h341843a18418i.rc5242.ESAS]
Subject:Re. Re. Re. Re. Re.
Sent:04 20:40

I don’t believe you for one second. You’re a fake and a phony, Danny Zuko. ;P

“Fortune My Foe” – Owain Phyfe & The New World Renaissance Band

—Sandy’s cute pout.

From:Jacques Bonnefoy [jbonnefoy.console34184c1844h341843a18418i.rc5242.ESAS]
To:Jennifer Robinson [jrobinson.console3114ps94394fp42865.rcC-14.FICPSYCH]
Subject:Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re.
Sent:05 02:01

Give me a chance, Sandy, and I’ll prove to you that laying eyes on me was the best thing you ever did.  ;)

No real reason for this one; just been whistling it a lot lately.

‘Penny Lane’ – The Beatles

Oh, and:

‘Paperback Writer’ – The Beatles

‘It’s a thousand pages give or take a few/I’ll be writing more in a week or two...’  I’ve had a couple missions that felt about that length, lately.  Funny how that happens.

-Danny’s bright grin

From:Jennifer Robinson [jrobinson.console3114ps94394fp42865.rcC-14.FICPSYCH]
To:Jacques Bonnefoy [jbonnefoy.console34184c1844h341843a18418i.rc5242.ESAS]
Subject:Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re.
Sent:05 06:11

Hark at the cheek on you! We’ll see about that. :)

“Penny Lane,” huh? You know, I’ve never been sure what that nurse is up to with the poppies. I suspect I’d disapprove if I thought about it too hard. But if we’re going to wax nostalgic . . .

“Sentimental Journey” – Doris Day with Les Brown and His Orchestra

. . . here’s a bit of mine:

“Nonsuch” – Tania Opland, Mike Freeman, & Anne McCaffrey

And a bit of free association:

“NeverEnding Story” – Limahl

—Jenni (Yeah, this horse has left the barn.)

From:Jacques Bonnefoy [jbonnefoy.console34184c1844h341843a18418i.rc5242.ESAS]
To:Jennifer Robinson [jrobinson.console3114ps94394fp42865.rcC-14.FICPSYCH]
Subject:Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re.
Sent:06 22:54

I think you may’ve jinxed me, Jenni – that last mission...​well, I’ll spare you the details, but it was an epic.

One good thing came out of it, at least:  I’ve been wanting to see Singing In the Rain again, and what do you know?  The characters put it on!  (In a private theatre, for their date, two years before it came out...)

And then they had a nice little duet of one of the songs combined with some pop song I remember hearing all over the radio in 2007, which kind of came out of nowhere considering they never sang anything before that.  Or after, for that matter.  Apparently, it’s something to do with some show called Glee?

So, for something nice that’s also from Gene Kelly (though not in this version – stumbled on Ella and, well, how could I not?):

‘I Got Rhythm’ – Ella Fitzgerald

And, for a song those characters could’ve stood to learn something from:

‘I Got Plenty O’ Nuttin’,’ Porgy and Bess – Alvy Powell

Hope the details of your job have been making more sense...


From:Jennifer Robinson [jrobinson.console3114ps94394fp42865.rcC-14.FICPSYCH]
To:Jacques Bonnefoy [jbonnefoy.console34184c1844h341843a18418i.rc5242.ESAS]
Subject:Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re.
Sent:07 04:57


“I’ve Got a Theory/Bunnies/If We’re Together,” Buffy the Vampire Slayer s6 e7


From:Jacques Bonnefoy [jbonnefoy.console34184c1844h341843a18418i.rc5242.ESAS]
To:Jennifer Robinson [jrobinson.console3114ps94394fp42865.rcC-14.FICPSYCH]
Subject:Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re.
Sent:07 17:49

‘Some kid is dreaming/and we’re all stuck inside his wacky Broadway nightmare...’

I looked up the episode.  It’s pretty great.  Funnily enough, I think I’d actually rather Spike to John (vampire to ex-partner with the same face.  The vampire seems more honest).

Speaking of the episode:  Giles’ song definitely stands out for me.  (Admittedly, most of them stand out, but I’ll stick to just the one in the interest of not flooding you with the entire soundtrack...)

‘Standing’ – ‘Once More With Feeling’ (BtVS) soundtrack


From:Jennifer Robinson [jrobinson.console3114ps94394fp42865.rcC-14.FICPSYCH]
To:Jacques Bonnefoy [jbonnefoy.console34184c1844h341843a18418i.rc5242.ESAS]
Subject:Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re.
Sent:07 21:32

I’m glad you liked the episode. The song was my commentary both on your mission and on how much sense my job tends to make, in case that wasn’t clear. (Didn’t have time for a proper message earlier, wanted to respond anyway, this is what happens.)

“Partner”—with the history you’ve told me, this word is even more vague than usual for the PPC. :) I’d invite you to elaborate, but maybe it should wait?

Anyway, Spike has been on quite the journey at that point, and has further still to go. I recommend the series highly. Not just for him, the characters are all great, but he’s a major component of the show’s alchemy in the later seasons, for sure.

I’d happily listen to the entire OMWF soundtrack again, but since you mention Giles, let’s take a moment (okay, a few moments) to appreciate Anthony Stewart Head and his glorious singing voice:

* Giles sings “Freebird” (and is cruelly interrupted)

* “Babies (The In Between)” – Anthony Stewart Head & George Sarah (make me cry)

* And, to make up for that, something fun. I bet you like The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and I bet you’ll dig this, too. :)


From:Jacques Bonnefoy [jbonnefoy.console34184c1844h341843a18418i.rc5242.ESAS]
To:Jennifer Robinson [jrobinson.console3114ps94394fp42865.rcC-14.FICPSYCH]
Subject:Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re.
Sent:08 00:20

You’re right on both counts.  I can’t imagine not having a soft spot for Rocky Horror and, horrific video quality aside, that was great.  ;)

As for ‘glorious’...​that’s definitely the word for it.  I’d happily attend a concert at this point.

And John...​where to even begin with John.  Well, it’s not his real name:  John Hart is the last name I heard him use, and if he didn’t make it up on the spot, I’ll be shocked.  He showed up in twenty-first century Cardiff, you see, then caused some trouble and blew out of town again.

I called him my ex-partner because that’s what he was to me:  my longest-standing partner at the Time Agency.  We were very close.  Getting trapped in a two-week time loop for five years will do that to you.  We lost touch when I quit, but he moved on far less than I did – well, I had a lot more time and a lot of new experiences to help with that.

(He’s also the picture you should see in a dictionary next to ‘loose cannon’.  Barely cares about anything or anyone that isn’t him, money, booze, sex, drugs...​murder...​doesn’t exactly have too many lines he won’t cross.  He was a little more moral when we first met, but it didn’t last too long.)

Speaking of too long, this message is probably getting there.  How about a palate cleanser?  Have you ever seen much of the televised singing competitions that started cropping up in the early 2000s?  I’ve started looking them up again in spare moments, and I think they got better.

‘What A Girl Wants’ – Judith Hill (The Voice)

And for something completely different:

Ashley and Pudsey (2012 Royal Variety Show)


From:Jennifer Robinson [jrobinson.console3114ps94394fp42865.rcC-14.FICPSYCH]
To:Jacques Bonnefoy [jbonnefoy.console34184c1844h341843a18418i.rc5242.ESAS]
Subject:Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re.
Sent:08 16:58

Yikes; bad boyfriend who didn’t know when it was over, huh? And very bad, at that—but I’m the last person in the universe to judge anyone based on their past entanglements. Especially if it wasn’t exactly by choice. So that’s what you meant about HQ time being better than a time loop . . . But, “twenty-first century Cardiff” means the trouble was recent, right? Sounds like there’s a lot to unpack there, if you want to.

In the meanwhile . . .

No, I’m afraid I don’t follow “reality” shows too much. Some of the greater moments (good, bad, and ugly) do circulate, but I hadn’t seen either of those clips. Good stuff—and a second cute dancing dog, I note. Do I detect a pattern? :)

But in general, it’s not exactly in the line of duty, you know? It’s tough enough keeping up with the big franchises when my media time tends to fill up with cartoons and Wobbles the Clown and whatever else is on NutMint.

. . . Which reminds me. I guess I take it for granted that it’s obvious to anyone who’s been in my office, but you’d think I might want to actually mention that I have a son, seeing as that’s the sort of important detail people tend to want to know about people they’re keen enough on to exchange this many illicit e-mails with. :) His name is Henry, he’s four, and he’s the most important person in my life.

And now I’m running up the word count, which I’d be fine with if it weren’t for that whole “illicit” thing.

Sigh. Is it just me, or are the days really dragging their heels?

Let’s see . . . Here’s something nice and cheerful and refreshing to close on:

“Rosie Finn’s Favourite/Over the Water to Charlie/The Kid on the Mountain” – The Bothy Band


P.S. And now for something completely different: It’s . . . a certain John Philip Sousa march. Because I had to. ;)

From:Jacques Bonnefoy [jbonnefoy.console34184c1844h341843a18418i.rc5242.ESAS]
To:Jennifer Robinson [jrobinson.console3114ps94394fp42865.rcC-14.FICPSYCH]
Subject:Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re.
Sent:09 07:48

Obvious or not, it’s always good to get the details.  Thanks for telling me.  I’m currently childless myself, but I can understand some of the emotion that goes into having them.  It must be interesting having him live with you instead of in the Nursery like a lot of the field agents seem to go for.

Can I ask if there’s anyone else in the picture?  I wouldn’t want to cross a line there accidentally, but I can’t deny I’m curious.  Especially since the situation doesn’t match what I’ve been seeing so far with other agents.

As for John...​well, he probably does bear discussing, unfortunately, because you’re right – he showed back up again not too long before I got recruited to the PPC, about five months ago now.  Over a century later for me, maybe about ten, fifteen years for him at most.  It was never exactly simple with him, even when it was easy, and this last time...​wasn’t so easy.  Even knowing something was up, he still managed to cause us a whole lot of trouble; no one was sorry to see him go in the end.  Well, I was, a bit, because he dropped another bomb – the metaphorical kind this time – two seconds before he went, but other than that, we were glad to see the back of him.  Metaphorically.  I’m still working on whether I’m entirely glad about having been recruited before I reached the answer to that question or not, though I think it’s the kind of thing you can’t help but feel a little conflicted about.


Eight and a half days down, six-ish left to go?  It feels like it’s already been a good two weeks, but even the least exact ways of time keeping I have available seem to disagree.  We’ll just have to keep waiting, even if it can sometimes feel like...

‘Agony’Into the Woods

I had to.  ;)


From:Jennifer Robinson [jrobinson.console3114ps94394fp42865.rcC-14.FICPSYCH]
To:Jacques Bonnefoy [jbonnefoy.console34184c1844h341843a18418i.rc5242.ESAS]
Subject:Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re.
Sent:09 15:03

Ooh, Sondheim! New, exciting territory for us!

Ah, let me stop laughing and back up a bit . . .

First, I’m sorry the ex gave you such a rough time. With—if I’m reading this right—literal explosives involved? Not nice. I don’t know what question you’re referring to, but at least there’s a possibility that you can find answers if you want them? Maybe that’s something to bring up with Mirrad for more direct sounding out.

Second, a serious question deserves a serious answer: no, nobody else in the picture besides the one you already know about. (Agent Suicide, btw; really; yes, really.) It honestly took me a minute to figure out why you’d ask—Henry’s adopted, see. :) Anyway, I get it, and I’ll take up-front questions over speculation and festering concerns every time.

As for the living arrangement, I like having my baby close to me. I’ve done creche-rearing before, and it’s great, but I don’t have to rely on that here. I’m not a field agent, I’ve got the time and stability, and I guess I thought it would be more normal for him this way, living at home. I am now questioning the logic of this relative to what’s normal for other kids in HQ, but I’ll spare you the panic attack. He’ll resent me when he’s older no matter what I do, right? :)

It’s good, is the point I was trying to make. For now, at least, life with Henry is really good.

And, you know, I’ve got this feeling about the next few days . . .

“Something’s Coming”West Side Story


From:Jacques Bonnefoy [jbonnefoy.console34184c1844h341843a18418i.rc5242.ESAS]
To:Jennifer Robinson [jrobinson.console3114ps94394fp42865.rcC-14.FICPSYCH]
Subject:Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re.
Sent:09 21:05

Hey, maybe you’ll get lucky and he’ll only resent you over silly things you can fix easily!  You never know.

More seriously, he might end up appreciating growing up living with you when he’s older – sure, the Nursery’s handy, but it’s very different living with your parent(s).  I know I appreciated it eventually.

Jumping back a topic...​oh, I have those answers.  I read the right things to find out.  Better than Jack:  he had to live it.  I just got to stare at my screen in horror.  That was a fun night.  I think the one thing I envy him is that he got the chance to apologize.  I’m never going to get that.  I mean, I could do it on a mission, if he ever shows up in one, but it’s not like he’d remember afterwards.

The rest I’m glad enough not to personally remember, though.  At least my team was alive, the last time they were, you know, mine.  That’s something.

Ooh, West Side Story.  That’s a great one.

Not from a musical this time, but hey, someone reminded me of him recently and he was active around the same time as when West Side Story came out:

‘Carol’ – Chuck Berry

What do you think?  Ever come across him before?  He was really big back in the day.  The Rolling Stones also covered some of his songs – I think the Beatles did a few, too, and maybe...​the Beach Boys?  What was that rant – oh, right, they took the tune from ‘Sweet Little Sixteen’ and set ‘Surfin’ USA’ to it.  Now I remember.  Funny how worked up people can get about music, huh?  This all happened before the friend I mentioned was born, but she’s still up in arms about it.


From:Jennifer Robinson [jrobinson.console3114ps94394fp42865.rcC-14.FICPSYCH]
To:Jacques Bonnefoy [jbonnefoy.console34184c1844h341843a18418i.rc5242.ESAS]
Subject:Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re.
Sent:10 05:17

No time right now, but . . . *hugs*


From:Jennifer Robinson [jrobinson.console3114ps94394fp42865.rcC-14.FICPSYCH]
To:Jacques Bonnefoy [jbonnefoy.console34184c1844h341843a18418i.rc5242.ESAS]
Subject:Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re.
Sent:10 20:56

. . . So, hey, Jacques. Nice seeing you at a very casual, totally cool arm’s-length in the hall earlier. I’m so glad I wasn’t caught flat-footed and definitely didn’t stammer some vacuous nonsense at you like a fourteen-year-old afraid of being discovered with a boy past curfew. Ahh, adrenaline. XD

Seriously, it was a nice surprise, and it was nice to share a few words in person. Even stupid words. :)

Not to pry, but I don’t imagine you were in FicPsych just to not-dance with me . . . ?

I’m happy to hear you’re “gonna learn to dance if it takes you all night and day,” though! ;P Mr. Berry is one of the greats—but at the moment I’m feeling Ms. Billie.

“You’re My Thrill” – Billie Holiday

How about you?


From:Jacques Bonnefoy [jbonnefoy.console34184c1844h341843a18418i.rc5242.ESAS]
To:Jennifer Robinson [jrobinson.console3114ps94394fp42865.rcC-14.FICPSYCH]
Subject:Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re.
Sent:11 01:43

Well, I’m definitely feeling that song.  And I’m looking forward to a very different kind of adrenaline next time I see you.  ;)

As to why I was there, you’re right – that was a ‘maintenance session’, as you called it way back when.  What with one thing and another (remember that really long mission I got back from a few days ago?) my first time with Mirrad got pushed back a bit.  It went...​alright.  You’ll be happy (?) to know that I didn’t manage to flirt myself out of his care, too.

It’s just as well.  I think you and I will do better as friends than he and I would​.

Only a few more days, and then we’ll be able to paint the town and...

‘All That Jazz’Chicago


From:Jennifer Robinson [jrobinson.console3114ps94394fp42865.rcC-14.FICPSYCH]
To:Jacques Bonnefoy [jbonnefoy.console34184c1844h341843a18418i.rc5242.ESAS]
Subject:Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re.
Sent:11 15:42

Ooh, all that jazz? You promise? Should I rouge my knees? I’ve been halfway committed to tight black leather and a perm since about message six, but I’m flexible. ;)

Yes, I’m happy to hear you got around to seeing Mirrad, and also that he’s as unflappable as ever in the face of what I can well imagine was terribly perilous temptation.

It really is just as well. I don’t think you know how right you are! The Minbari are the Vulcan analogue of the Babylon 5 continuum. They’re a dispassionate and highly ritualistic people. If you think waiting two weeks for a date is bad, look up Minbari courtship rituals. Somewhere beyond dating, there’s a phase where one partner watches the other sleep for three nights in a row, until the one sees the other’s “true face.” That’s sort of romantic, sure, but imagine trying to fall asleep with someone staring at you—and IIRC, if the other person messes up by falling asleep themself or getting distracted, you have to start over.

There’s another phase where the couple spend the night together, “slowly and meditatively discovering each other’s centers of pleasure.” You might think that sounds pretty good, until you learn there’s supposed to be a crowd of trusted friends and family members listening at the door to make sure things don’t go too far. I say that’s cruel and unusual punishment!

Anyway, since I have every intention of going back and facing the peril of you personally, I’m trusting Mirrad to carry on for me professionally—I do trust him, and I respect him. Even when the zen thing gets so annoying I could almost smack him. That’s exactly what makes him someone you can rely on for perspective and, dare I say, wisdom. Plus the occasional dry remark that will come up and make you laugh out of nowhere. Watch out for that. :)

I have to wrap this up. Text is barely good enough, anyway. Deep breaths and all that.

“Patience” – Guns ’n’ Roses


From:Jacques Bonnefoy [jbonnefoy.console34184c1844h341843a18418i.rc5242.ESAS]
To:Jennifer Robinson [jrobinson.console3114ps94394fp42865.rcC-14.FICPSYCH]
Subject:Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re.
Sent:11 18:38

Turns out today was a day for working ‘9 to 5’ – originally Dolly Parton, but it turns out it’s also a musical.  I never knew!

It feels very relatable right now, let me tell you.

Nothing too exceptional, in the end – relatively short mission, as missions go.  Still, it’s good to be home.

I can take or leave the perm and rouged knees, but I’ll happily keep tight black leather or rolled down stockings in the mix.  ;)

I didn’t notice much sense of humour in Mirrad, but maybe I’ll spot it the next time I see him.  I’ll keep an eye out for it, anyway – it’ll give me something to do.  Oof re:  Minbari traditions, though.  Don’t think it’s for me, given a choice.  The person would have to be really worth it.

Only a few more days before we can do some of this talking (eventually) face to face!  I’ll put practicality over daydreams for a moment – where shall we go?  What shall we do?  (Hopefully, you do give a damn...)


From:Jennifer Robinson [jrobinson.console3114ps94394fp42865.rcC-14.FICPSYCH]
To:Jacques Bonnefoy [jbonnefoy.console34184c1844h341843a18418i.rc5242.ESAS]
Subject:Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re.
Sent:11 19:37

There’s a depressing reference. Fortunately, I do give a damn, so let’s see. Where to go?

. . . Ha. “A Whole New World” popped into my head here, but a) that’s too cheesy even for me, and b) I wasn’t actually thinking the Disney song. I was thinking this:

“Mixtape”Avenue Q

Seems fitting, somehow. :)

Anyway. It was going to be dinner, right? Dinner is good, and the best place for a real dinner is New Caledonia. There are options, most of them good—just not Deepdelver’s. Not saying I’d never give rat-based cuisine a shot, but it’s not the sort of adventure I’m looking for at this time.

We might even find some music afterward or during, too. We could wander, if the weather cooperates. I could show you around a bit (this is why “Whole New World”), if you haven’t been yet.

Oh, and by the way, you said something early on about me not being much for bars? You were nearly right. I don’t mind bars—the kind with live music, like Rudi’s, can be great!—but I don’t drink much. It doesn’t suit me. (Don’t like to see other people going to excess, either.)

So, what do you think?


From:Jacques Bonnefoy [jbonnefoy.console34184c1844h341843a18418i.rc5242.ESAS]
To:Jennifer Robinson [jrobinson.console3114ps94394fp42865.rcC-14.FICPSYCH]
Subject:Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re.
Sent:11 20:16

Well, I’ve hardly ever been to New Cal (I know, I know, I’ve been here for months, but the opportunities just haven’t been coming), so I’d be interested to see what you think is worth showing me there.  And I do somehow think I’ll live with passing on the rats.  Not really my cup of tea.  I think I heard there’s a Japanese place there?

As for bars, well, it’s been a while since I was much of a drinker.  Shouldn’t be a problem.

Speaking of finding music, here’s a song on the topic that I used to hear all the time on the radio:

‘Play A Simple Melody’ – Bing and Gary Crosby

Catchy, isn’t it?


From:Jennifer Robinson [jrobinson.console3114ps94394fp42865.rcC-14.FICPSYCH]
To:Jacques Bonnefoy [jbonnefoy.console34184c1844h341843a18418i.rc5242.ESAS]
Subject:Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re.
Sent:11 20:31

> Musical demon, set your honey a-dreamin’
> Won’t you play me some rag?

Invoking a musical demon? Did you learn nothing from “Once More With Feeling”?

Nah, it’s a good song. :) TBH I’m more for a reel than a rag, though. For instance, because it is so very apropos:

“Cooley’s Reel/The Cup of Tea/The Wise Maid” – The Tulla Céilí Band

Anyway, I’m down for Japanese. That’ll be Nakamura’s; it’s a good place. Did you hear about it from Lux? I know she likes it, too.

Not that her taste is always reliable. For instance, I don’t think I’d play this song-sharing game with her. ^_^;

I’ve enjoyed it with you, for the record. It’s nice to know we have a few simple things in common. Liking musicals, for one, is a very good thing to share in my book. You have to have a bit of a romantic soul to appreciate a musical; you have to know what it’s like to feel something so strongly you wish you could break into extemporaneous song and dance about it.

Or at least kiss someone about it.

Ah, there I go a-dreamin’. Guess that rag got to me after all. ;)

On that note, sadly, I do not work 9 to 5, I work 6 to 2, so I’ve got to go sleep. I’ll catch you on the flip side. But, one more for the dream-road:

“Sweet Sea” – Anne McCaffrey, Tania Opland & Mike Freeman


From:Jacques Bonnefoy [jbonnefoy.console34184c1844h341843a18418i.rc5242.ESAS]
To:Jennifer Robinson [jrobinson.console3114ps94394fp42865.rcC-14.FICPSYCH]
Subject:Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re.
Sent:11 23:57

Nakamura’s it is.  (And yes, I did hear about it from Lux.)

Liking musicals is a fantastic thing to share with someone, I’ve always thought.  Remind me to tell you about some of the first musicals I ever saw sometime; there are some interesting ones in the future I remember.

Although, there are definitely more interesting things to talk about.  Kissing you, to take a random example!  ;)  We didn’t get very far on that topic back in your office, unfortunately, and not at all in the corridor yesterday...​but certainly not for a lack of interest!  I hope we’ll have better luck next time we meet in person.

In the meanwhile:  Sweet dreams!  ;)

‘Good Night’ – The Beatles


From:Jennifer Robinson [jrobinson.console3114ps94394fp42865.rcC-14.FICPSYCH]
To:Jacques Bonnefoy [jbonnefoy.console34184c1844h341843a18418i.rc5242.ESAS]
Subject:Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re.
Sent:12 01:54

Jacques, I did a silly thing. Woke up in the middle of the night, thought I’d just glance at the inbox, not really expecting anything. Yet there you were. And now I don’t want to go back to sleep.

I can’t imagine why I might be so restless . . .

No, wait, I can. Vividly. I blame you and your little winkey face. ;P

“Good Morning”Singin’ in the Rain


From:Jacques Bonnefoy [jbonnefoy.console34184c1844h341843a18418i.rc5242.ESAS]
To:Jennifer Robinson [jrobinson.console3114ps94394fp42865.rcC-14.FICPSYCH]
Subject:Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re.
Sent:12 02:07

What can I say?  I’m obviously a distraction.  I’d work on that, but after nearly two centuries, I just don’t see the point!

Just think:  a couple more days, and we can finally work out some of that restlessness together.  ;)

This song seems fitting, to say the least:

‘Come On To Me’ – Paul McCartney

If you come on to me, I’ll happily come on to you.  ;)  As often as you like.


From:Jennifer Robinson [jrobinson.console3114ps94394fp42865.rcC-14.FICPSYCH]
To:Jacques Bonnefoy [jbonnefoy.console34184c1844h341843a18418i.rc5242.ESAS]
Subject:Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re.
Sent:12 02:42

Ask and ye shall receive. ;)

Is that a remote activator in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me?

Did we just walk into an Escher room, cuz I’m falling head over heels.

You’ll want to be careful with eyes like yours. Love charms are illegal in decent universes.

If I said you have a nice body, would you hold it against me . . .

“Nine Times a Night” – Frankie Armstrong


From:Jacques Bonnefoy [jbonnefoy.console34184c1844h341843a18418i.rc5242.ESAS]
To:Jennifer Robinson [jrobinson.console3114ps94394fp42865.rcC-14.FICPSYCH]
Subject:Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re.
Sent:12 03:08

Quite frankly?  Yes.  Absolutely.  Just say the word.

You know, we’re only down to a couple of days now.  How much trouble do you think we’d get in if we just skipped the rest of it?  My time travel device might not be working again yet, but I’m sure we could find something that would.


From:Jennifer Robinson [jrobinson.console3114ps94394fp42865.rcC-14.FICPSYCH]
To:Jacques Bonnefoy [jbonnefoy.console34184c1844h341843a18418i.rc5242.ESAS]
Subject:Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re.
Sent:12 03:29

You’d probably get in no trouble at all, saucy boy.

Me, though, loss of professional respect at the very least, which wouldn’t bother me except that I had to work hard to earn it in the first place. Long sordid backstory there, not for three in the morning before we’ve even made it to the first date.

I think you’d get it, though. I really do. That’s uncommon.

And uncommon is well worth waiting for. It’s not like you and I don’t have time, after all.

. . . she said hypocritically, having just stayed up all night messaging a guy against regulations and good sense to boot. :)

That said, I’m really going to go now. I have to get Henry up in an hour, and I’m gonna try to grab a nap so I’m not completely useless later. And what else could I sign off with but:

“Dream a Little Dream of Me” – Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong


P.S. Jacques . . . did you see the copyright date on the McCartney video? I played it again, because it’s fantastic and I love it, and either I’m so sleepy my eyes are playing tricks on me, or I gotta borrow Su’s lampshade here. How did you find that? XD

From:Jacques Bonnefoy [jbonnefoy.console34184c1844h341843a18418i.rc5242.ESAS]
To:Jennifer Robinson [jrobinson.console3114ps94394fp42865.rcC-14.FICPSYCH]
Subject:Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re.
Sent:12 03:32

I like staying up all night with you.  Maybe we’ll do it in person sometime.  ;)

That’s a great recording – but of course, anything with those two turns to gold.  I’m going to respond with a song for the future, though:

‘It’s De-Lovely’ – Cole Porter

Not quite Ella and Louis, but trust me, it’s great – and when that first date comes, it’ll be even better.

Sweet dreams,

PS:  Huh, the McCartney song’s from 2018.  That’s odd.  Do you get a lot of time travelling videos here?

From:Jennifer Robinson [jrobinson.console3114ps94394fp42865.rcC-14.FICPSYCH]
To:Jacques Bonnefoy [jbonnefoy.console34184c1844h341843a18418i.rc5242.ESAS]
Subject:Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re.
Sent:12 15:51

Well, I’ve made it through the day, and I’ve reached that place where everything is about ten times funnier than it should be. Like “de-lovely” not being a word, but they keep saying it anyway. Hilarious! Also, yes: it is delightful, it will be delicious, and I’ll even say de-lovely if you like. Might giggle and wreck it, though. ^_^

I got some strange looks from my coworkers today; that was fun. Pretty sure some of them already thought there was something wrong with me. I love ’em, but they’re sure nosy! It’s like living in a dorm. My neighbor in C-15, Gerry, even brought me a cup of tea unsolicited, like I was too far gone to look after myself. Well-meaning gesture, and nice, if silly.

This song wandered across my train of thought at some point, and is also extremely funny in context, I’m pretty sure:

“Friendly Duet” – Flanders and Swann

I’ll let you know for sure once I figure out whether it’s tomorrow or today. ;)

Re. McCartney, HQ does forget what day (or year) it is sometimes, too. I guess it’s a case of plotholes and/or time slippage? Not complaining. Fun song, eerily appropriate. Suspect the PTBs are playing silly buggers with us, though. :)


From:Jacques Bonnefoy [jbonnefoy.console34184c1844h341843a18418i.rc5242.ESAS]
To:Jennifer Robinson [jrobinson.console3114ps94394fp42865.rcC-14.FICPSYCH]
Subject:Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re.
Sent:12 19:47

Should I start calling you my chickadee, in that case?  I can’t say I’ve ever done that before, but I’d be willing to give it a shot.

Get some sleep, Jenni.  I can’t personally remember much of what being that type of sleep deprived is like, but I’ve had some pretty vivid descriptions over the years.  I’ll still be here when you wake up, barring missions.

A song for your morning, since it’s a little upbeat for a sleepy night:

‘I Wanna Hold Your Hand’ – The Beatles


From:Jennifer Robinson [jrobinson.console3114ps94394fp42865.rcC-14.FICPSYCH]
To:Jacques Bonnefoy [jbonnefoy.console34184c1844h341843a18418i.rc5242.ESAS]
Subject:Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re.
Sent:13 06:23

Good morning!

You’re sweet. And, as sappy pet names go, I guess chickadee’s all right. It only makes me want to vomit a tiny bit. ;)

If I had time, I’d try to parse that fascinatingly over-qualified comment about sleep deprivation, but I do not. I’m off to do rounds, which is always fun. Never know who you’ll run into and what nutty things they’ll be shouting about. Thus do I bide my time. :)

Do you know this band? I only know them a little, but this woman plays a killer acoustic guitar and is a tad more direct than the Beatles.

“Crazy On You” – Heart


From:Jacques Bonnefoy [jbonnefoy.console34184c1844h341843a18418i.rc5242.ESAS]
To:Jennifer Robinson [jrobinson.console3114ps94394fp42865.rcC-14.FICPSYCH]
Subject:Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re.
Sent:13 08:31

Chickadee it is, then, until I find something that doesn’t make you want to vomit at all.  Though, speaking of pet names – did you know that in French you can call a woman your flea or your sardine as an endearment?  It’s a real thing, I swear.

The sleep deprivation comment is really pretty simple:  since I became immortal, I’ve had to put in a lot of effort to really feel sleep deprived.  When I do get there, it’s usually been because I worked through several nights in a row, so it isn’t quite the type you ended up with.  Mostly.  Maybe you’ll see it in person sometime.

I do know a few Heart songs.  Have you ever heard ‘Magic Man’?

I think I still know almost every word – I used to listen to a radio station that played it a lot.  Let me know what you think.


From:Jennifer Robinson [jrobinson.console3114ps94394fp42865.rcC-14.FICPSYCH]
To:Jacques Bonnefoy [jbonnefoy.console34184c1844h341843a18418i.rc5242.ESAS]
Subject:Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re.
Sent:13 14:45

Oh, jeez, that was not meant to be taken as encouragement. :P But weirdly, I don’t actually hate the idea? Huh. Well, I guess that means I have to come up with something for you, then. I’ll think about it. Giving names is a serious business.

I knew “my little cauliflower” was a thing in French, but not the other ones. You know what language has the best endearments? Persian. Forget what the words mean, though you can’t really go wrong with stuff like “light of my eyes”; they just sound beautiful. Nooré cheshm-am; aziz-am; ātashé del-am . . . Gives French a run for its money as the language of love, if you ask me. I used to know someone who was (among other things) a serious polyglot, who spoke both . . . not that those sorts of words really came up ever.

Tangent aside—wait, is that redundant?

Thanks for clarifying re. sleep dep and immortality. I had noticed some late timestamps (apart from the other night!). Honestly, that could mean anything here, so I didn’t think much of it, but it would make sense if it’s part of the superior hardiness/recuperation package. I’m pretty curious about how all that works for you.

That song feels almost autobiographical. I think I’ve been on both sides of it at various times. You can be the magic man this time, if you believe in magic.

“Do You Believe in Magic?” – The Lovin’ Spoonful

You’ve got the eyes, anyway. :)


From:Jacques Bonnefoy [jbonnefoy.console34184c1844h341843a18418i.rc5242.ESAS]
To:Jennifer Robinson [jrobinson.console3114ps94394fp42865.rcC-14.FICPSYCH]
Subject:Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re.
Sent:13 15:20

It’s hard not to believe in magic when you’ve been on Harry Potter missions (among others), so...​I’m going to have to say yes, I do.  Not in my home universe, but outside it?  Sure.

I haven’t heard much Persian; it looks pretty nice, though.  You’ve met some interesting people, haven’t you?  Not that you haven’t had time...

And that would be the console.  I swear, that beep was so loud you might be able to feel it through the message.  I have to run – Doctor Who/Harry Potter/Twilight, because of course it is – sending this now since I don’t know when I’ll be back.


From:Jacques Bonnefoy [jbonnefoy.mobile18ia431818ch418.rc5242.ESAS]
To:Jennifer Robinson [jrobinson.console3114ps94394fp42865.rcC-14.FICPSYCH]
Subject:Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re.
Sent:13 15:27

PS:  ‘An Awful Lot of Running’ - Chameleon Circuit

Good band, interesting songs, this one v. appropriate right now, à bientôt! -J

From:Jennifer Robinson [jrobinson.console3114ps94394fp42865.rcC-14.FICPSYCH]
To:Jacques Bonnefoy [jbonnefoy.console34184c1844h341843a18418i.rc5242.ESAS]
Subject:Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re.
Sent:13 16:19

Wow. I find the timing of this beep highly suspect, but I’ll keep all other thoughts about it to myself lest I make it worse.

Re. magic, that’s good. I spent a fair bit of time in the Potterverse just prior to starting here, so I can confirm that magic is a thing there. ;)

Also interesting people. The multiverse is full of them! I keep turning up more everywhere I go. In fact, there’s this one guy I’m hoping to go out with in a couple days, if he’s not too busy . . . ;)

I’ve actually heard that song before! The animation is cute, too. Fanlove like that is great. Have you seen/heard this?

“Harry Potter in 99 Seconds” by Paint (Er, spoiler warning for the whole series, just in case.)

Since that’s got a mention of Edward Cullen in it, I’ll go ahead and round out the crossover trifecta with a Doctor Who-inspired song as filthy as it is funny. I hope it makes you laugh and isn’t somehow more offensive than it means to be, anyway.

“It’s Bigger on the Inside” – Aurelio Voltaire

Now, when I say that pretty much encapsulates everything I know about the show, that’s not because I learned it from the song, it just works out oddly well. :P

Let me know when you’re back?


From:Jacques Bonnefoy [jbonnefoy.console34184c1844h341843a18418i.rc5242.ESAS]
To:Jennifer Robinson [jrobinson.console3114ps94394fp42865.rcC-14.FICPSYCH]
Subject:Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re.
Sent:14 23:49

I’m back.

And boy, am I ever glad to be here.  That was exhausting.  And wangsty.  Incredibly wangsty.

I’m going to grab a shower and go to sleep now before I wind up spending the night on the couch in the same set of clothes.  Hope you had a good day – and hope even more to see you tomorrow, once I can string more than a couple sentences together at a time.  You’re still game, right?


From:Jacques Bonnefoy [jbonnefoy.console34184c1844h341843a18418i.rc5242.ESAS]
To:Jennifer Robinson [jrobinson.console3114ps94394fp42865.rcC-14.FICPSYCH]
Subject:Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re.
Sent:15 00:18

Just realized I forgot a song.  The only one I can think of is the one I jokingly thought should become my mantra by the time the mission really started dragging:

‘We Shall Overcome’ - Joan Baez

Let me know when you’re free tomorrow, and we’ll do whatever we’re planning to do.  New Cal, I think?

Off to bed –
-J x

From:Jennifer Robinson [jrobinson.console3114ps94394fp42865.rcC-14.FICPSYCH]
To:Jacques Bonnefoy [jbonnefoy.console34184c1844h341843a18418i.rc5242.ESAS]
Subject:Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re.
Sent:15 04:40

Good morning!

And good timing! I know missions can run long, but I was on the point of needing to get worried if I hadn’t heard anything. A literal eleventh-hour return is a little dramatic, but that’s all right. :)

I’m absolutely game if you are. If you’re not, it’s okay. There’s no such thing as set in stone plans here.

Must run, but I’ll check in when I have a minute.

—J2 and I don’t know if that was a typo, but xo back anyway. :)

From:Jacques Bonnefoy [jbonnefoy.console34184c1844h341843a18418i.rc5242.ESAS]
To:Jennifer Robinson [jrobinson.console3114ps94394fp42865.rcC-14.FICPSYCH]
Subject:Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re.
Sent:15 07:44

I don’t think it was a typo, but I was definitely exhausted.  Can’t say I want to take it back, though, especially when that’s your response.

Well, let’s see.  I’ve slept, I’ve showered, I’ve even eaten...​yeah, I’d say I’m game.  Go on, then – when do you get off?

-J xx

From:Jennifer Robinson [jrobinson.console3114ps94394fp42865.rcC-14.FICPSYCH]
To:Jacques Bonnefoy [jbonnefoy.console34184c1844h341843a18418i.rc5242.ESAS]
Subject:Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re.
Sent:15 10:17

First client is late. Yay?

That is an intriguingly phrased question. I might say the answer rather depends on you. ;)

More seriously, I’m off work at 14:00, free from then on, and the plan (if it’s slow coming back to you) was to start with some combination of entertainment, sightseeing, and sushi in New Cal—with no annoying time limits or circumscriptions of any sort!

I’m excited. And I’ve got a song I’ve been saving for today:

“You Feel the Same Way, Too” – The Rankin Family

Meet at the clock tower?

—J2 xx

From:Jacques Bonnefoy [jbonnefoy.console34184c1844h341843a18418i.rc5242.ESAS]
To:Jennifer Robinson [jrobinson.console3114ps94394fp42865.rcC-14.FICPSYCH]
Subject:Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re.
Sent:15 10:57

I’ll see you there at, say...​14:30?  15:00, if you’d like more time after work?  Let me know.

Definitely sharing that excitement – and, speaking of the clock tower...

‘I Can Hear The Bells’Hairspray

Sounds so easy, doesn’t it?  I don’t know if I ever thought it was that simple...​but I definitely know we’ve got better imagination than Tracy when it comes to this.

-J xx

From:Jennifer Robinson [jrobinson.console3114ps94394fp42865.rcC-14.FICPSYCH]
To:Jacques Bonnefoy [jbonnefoy.console34184c1844h341843a18418i.rc5242.ESAS]
Subject:Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re. Re.
Sent:15 12:04

14:30 it is, HQ labyrinth gods willing! It’ll be tough not to think too hard about it. The imagination is a double-edged sword!

—J2 xox

Part 2: All That Jazz

Jenni had somewhere she desperately wanted to be. She’d been patient for two weeks. She had plans. She wanted them to be happening now. Naturally, the HQ labyrinth gods were less than willing to oblige her.

Objectively, Jenni was well aware, two weeks wasn’t a very long time. Her patience could stretch to years before breaking. In this case, however, less than one week of illicitly swapping music with Jacques Bonnefoy had been enough to convince Jenni he was worth not waiting for. Somewhere between talking in a silly cypher based on Grease references and discovering a shared fondness for Anthony Head’s singing voice, her reticence had almost completely vanished. During the second week, with its more genuine conversation and serious flirting, she had built up quite a head of anticipation for seeing him in person and learning just how far their compatibility extended.

Now that the time was finally here, it took a real effort of will to think about anything besides the moment she would see him, and he would see her, and one of any number of daydreams she’d entertained would follow. She had been suppressing such lovely thoughts all day, and she was fed up with it. But did Headquarters care? No.

And she was already running late, which didn’t help. Her last client of the day had been a chatty sort, tricky to disengage from gracefully. You couldn’t exactly say to people, “hey, sorry to cut you off, but I’ve got a hot date!”

Mostly it was her own fault, though. She’d fussed over her appearance a bit more than she’d meant to. Getting back into the world of relationships more serious than the odd fling with Lux had given her an excuse to expand her wardrobe beyond the utilitarian, so she had options. Not that Su would have objected to seeing her in jeans and her least-boring shirt all the time (their clothes didn’t typically stay on all that long anyway), but it was nice to dress for an occasion.

Especially when the occasion was in New Caledonia. Being July, it was winter there. That meant a lowest probable temperature of a comfortable 22°C (72°F) and stunningly gorgeous weather.

Jenni was rather hoping to match that description. She’d fixed her hair into a simple but sleek double-twisted ponytail, and she’d picked a deep green summer dress with a layered, gauzy bottom that flowed smooth as silk around her thighs. It transitioned to white at the top with a liminal design of field flowers just below the bust line. It was very her, and she knew it would turn Jacques’ head.

When she finally got to the town center, the clock tower told her it was almost 15:00 already. She gave a little groan, but resisted the urge to break into an anxious jog over the final block. It would be okay, she’d anticipated this, he’d understand. He’d be there.

He was.

Jacques stood leaning against the base of the clock tower, one ankle crossed over the other. One hand was in the pocket of his lightweight cream pants; the other held a small tablet, which he was scrolling through and occasionally raising his eyebrows at. He’d rolled up the sleeves of his purple linen shirt in deference to the weather, or possibly just to complete the look. His hair didn’t seem like he’d paid much attention to it, but it did have more of a style than a quick brush would produce.

Jenni paused a moment just to admire the debonair picture he made. Remembering how he’d artfully draped himself over her couch, she didn’t at all put it past him to be doing it on purpose. The thought that it might be for her benefit made her smile.

Of course, she could play at making impressions, too, and was delighted to have the opportunity. She gave herself a final once-over to be sure her dress and her hair were lying right, then approached from an oblique angle. Jacques was really absorbed in his tablet, so Jenni got almost within arm’s-length of him before she stopped. She rested one hand on her hip, tilted her head as though trying to get a look at what was so very interesting, and called out, “Hey, there.”

Jacques glanced up, obviously still distracted, smiled briefly, and went back to the tablet. Seconds later his head jerked up again, and he lowered the tablet to his side with a sheepish smile. “Jenni! Hi.” He looked her over quickly, and then again, and then a third and very appreciative time before meeting her eyes. “You look incredible. Did you wear that to work?”

Jenni laughed. She’d been on the point of laughing at his reaction to her anyway, and the silly question tipped her over the edge. “Yes, clearly this is a look I’ve been maintaining all day, through the FicPsych equivalent of Fall, Fog, and Fire.”

Jacques grinned, showing off the deep dimples in his cheeks. “You must have had some very distracted patients, then.” He lifted the tablet enough to see the screen as he turned it off, and then slipped it into his pants pocket.

With a final chuckle, Jenni shook her head and stepped closer to him. “Got your attention, anyway. Now that I have it: I’m sorry I’m late. I really didn’t mean to keep you waiting any longer than necessary.”

Jacques waved a hand. “We kind of had a range in place, didn’t we? I figured you’d run into something in the end when you didn’t show up. Not that it was exactly a chore to wait a bit, either, what with this weather.”

“Good. And you had something to do,” Jenni noted with a smile and a nod indicating the pocketed tablet. She didn’t trouble to disguise the once-over she gave him and his well-fitted clothes while she was at it. “Business, or pleasure?”

Jacques smiled warmly back. “I’m not completely sure how to classify it. Let’s just say it’s . . . some kind of mixture. I have a feeling it’ll turn into business at some point, anyway.”


“Well, it’s the erotic version of Twilight,” Jacques explained. “The published one; I’m sure there are plenty of others.”

Oh,” Jenni repeated, both eyebrows raised in dubious amusement. “Interesting choice.” She recalled from his messages that his latest mission had involved Twilight, so she supposed it was merely a sensible precaution and the timing was irrelevant, but she couldn’t resist teasing him about it. “Cards on the table? I’m pretty open-minded, but if you tell me I have to sign a bogus contract at any point, I’m out.” Grinning, she made a dramatic chopping gesture with one hand held flat like a blade.

Jacques grinned back at her, eyes bright with mischief. “What if I have a paperwork kink?”

“I thought we agreed everything was better with less paperwork.” Jenni tilted her head, feigning confusion.

“Well, sure,” Jacques said, shifting more comfortably against the wall. “That’s outside the bedroom, though, isn’t it?”

Jenni chuckled. “Fair point. I have to warn you, though, I’ve never responded well to anyone trying to control me, in or out of the bedroom. I’m a free spirit.” She wagged her eyebrows, inviting him to imagine the implications of that.

“I bet you are,” Jacques said, with obvious appreciation. “Although, who says it wouldn’t be about you controlling me?”

Jenni’s grin broadened. “In that case, it’s a good thing we’re having this conversation about both of our interests and boundaries. Unlike some people, I appreciate the responsibility inherent in the dom’s role.”

“Very glad to hear it,” Jacques purred. “Me, I’m very flexible, but I do try to keep the right amount of responsibility in mind.” He smiled, quick and startlingly sincere on the heels of the play. “I like my fun to stay fun.”

“Absolutely agreed,” Jenni said warmly. “Whatever the details, it’s not fun unless everyone is having it.”

Jacques grinned and reached out to brush his fingers over her wrist. “I knew I liked you. You’re really pretty great, Nurse Robinson.”

Laughing through the thrill of first contact, Jenni slipped her hand into his and let him bring her a step closer. “I hope to earn that compliment properly later, Mr. Bonnefoy. This date’s barely begun.” She winked at him.

“And now I really can’t wait to see where it goes,” Jacques said lightly. “Though at this point I hope I’m right in thinking it won’t be a polite kiss goodnight on the cheek?”

Jenni shook her head, still smiling. “We’ll see, but if that’s what happens I might have to hang up my coat and quit FicPsych. As far as I can tell, we’ve been on the same page since at least that one long night, if not before.”

“My money’s on before,” Jacques said. “That night just made it a little bit clearer.”

“I’m inclined to agree. If only it weren’t for those damn rules—which reminds me.” Jenni held up a finger in theatrical revelation. “I still owe you three answers from your visit. I can give them to you now.”

“Oh?” Jacques shifted, pushing off the clock tower and decreasing the distance left between them. “I like the sound of that. What are these answers, then?”

“First,” Jenni said, “you asked me how long I’ve been here. Ten years as of last month. Second, about Lux: yes, I have.” She paused for cheeky effect.

Jacques smiled at her. “That’s two. What’s the third?”

“Just this.” Looking intently into his eyes, Jenni reached up with her free hand and brushed the back of her fingers along his jaw, echoing a gesture left torturously uncompleted two weeks back.

Jacques chuckled. “My favorite kind of answer,” he said. His hands slid down over the fabric of her dress and settled at her waist, holding firmly as he leaned forward.

Jenni met him halfway, one hand cupping the back of his head and the other pressing against his side. Jacques was a great sport, playing along so nicely with her little game; coming on top of the illuminating conversation they’d just had, the payoff was even more rewarding than she’d imagined.

Their lips brushed gently once, then joined as though magnetically charged. Jacques’ arms wound around her back, tugging her against him; delighted, Jenni held him tight in return. He loosened his grip almost immediately, as if he’d surprised himself, but even so, Jenni could feel his barely restrained enthusiasm in the way his mouth moved against hers, and she reciprocated joyfully.

She was not surprised—she’d imagined this moment too many times to be anything but enormously pleased about it—and she found her resolve to leave the pre-dinner kiss at a kiss being tested as it went on, quicker and deeper. Knowing the two of them were simpatico was one thing; feeling it, tasting it, was electrifying. Jacques really knew what he was doing, and Jenni wanted to meet him on his level and show him she knew what she was doing, too.

Too soon, though, air became a problem. Jenni took the smallest possible step back, just enough to break off without making Jacques let her go. She liked his hands where they were.

“Well!” she said, grinning and panting to catch her breath. Her left hand stayed at Jacques’ side, and her right trailed down his arm, skipping lightly over the fetchingly rolled-up sleeve to brush his skin.

Jacques grinned back, breathing hard. “Definitely my favorite sort of answer,” he said. “Especially after two weeks of flirting. I don’t know about you, but I’m very happy we’re done with that.”

“Oh, shards, yes,” Jenni said, tightening her grip for emphasis; then she blinked and cocked her head. “Not that I’m done flirting with you, not by a long shot. It’s too fun.” She winked.

Jacques laughed. “That may’ve scrambled my words a little,” he admitted. “The kiss, I mean. Believe me, I’d hate to stop flirting with you now; I’m just glad to be done with not being able to act on it when we both want to and even have the time.”

“I get it,” Jenni assured him. “I’m not ashamed to admit I planned that kiss from the first day, for the very first moment it wouldn’t feel horribly taboo. We deserved it—we earned it.”

“We absolutely did.” Jacques traced the line of her jaw with his fingertips, much as he had before not getting to kiss her two weeks earlier. “And hopefully many more. I’d love many, many more. Would you?”

“Hm. Among other things,” Jenni said, turning into his touch. She raised her eyes, and her smile grew wider. “But if I’ve been unclear about my feelings, shame on me. Let me fix that right away.”

She took Jacques’ hand and pressed the palm to her lips, then looped her arms over his shoulders and stretched up to firmly kiss his mouth once more. He eagerly pulled her flush against him. “One more” turned into several more, and Jenni’s racing pulse told her this might not have been the most sensible move, but it sure felt like the right one. Jacques’ earnest caresses of her hair, her waist, her arms let her know he agreed, and moreover that he was prepared to throw exactly as much care to the breeze as she was and not a breath less.

In the arena of attraction, Jenni was used to worrying about other people’s boundaries and limitations. Knowing there was nothing to worry about felt strange, like the bottom dropping out of her stomach in a steep dive a-dragonback or on a broomstick. Good, but strange.

She stopped to peer at Jacques with smiling interest. “You’re really something else,” she told him.

Jacques smiled brightly in return. “I know. Isn’t it fun?” He leaned down to her lips again, cupping the side of her neck with one hand.

He’d found just the right place to touch her, and Jenni answered by curling her fingers through the hair at the back of his head and kissing back with a pleased sound in her throat. Her other hand roamed over his back and shoulder with no conscious direction from her, encouraging him and hoping to reciprocate good feelings.

She retained enough of her faculties to realize this could not continue much longer, though. Some hapless bystanders were no doubt under severe strain to pretend they hadn’t noticed the sparks flying at the base of the clock tower. Jenni made an effort to speak up for their sake.

“So, um,” she muttered, then cut herself off, unable to resist lipping the corner of Jacques’ mouth. He responded by initiating another kiss, which she threw herself into.

When she could manage a few more words, she said, “So this wasn’t my plan, but . . . ?” A crooked smile and a sideways nod suggested that they might want to take it off the street, maybe even back to HQ. It was a shame to turn a perfectly good plan for a date on its head, but it would be even more of a shame if Jacques took his hands off her now.

“Yes,” Jacques said. He ran his hands down her sides, and then back up as he kissed her again. “Oh, absolutely. Whatever you want.”

“I want,” Jenni replied, thrilled to the core. “Very, very want. Have done since you first showed up at my door.”

Oh,” Jacques said, grinning. He smoothed a hand over her hair, and brought it around to cup her cheek. “I know that feeling. Glad you share it.”

He leaned in again, and she let him, humming in agreement and enjoyment. Counterproductive it might be, but staying apart for more than a few seconds at a time seemed impossible at the moment. It was like she’d found some part of herself she hadn’t even known she was missing. It was ridiculous—her libido was exactly where she’d left it—but worth exploring thoroughly.

Not here, though!

With an effort, Jenni worked her hands down from Jacques’ shoulders and let them settle against his chest, gently kneading through his layered shirts and wishing they weren’t there. But, with her elbows acting as spacers between them, any further smooching would be difficult. Not impossible, she acknowledged with a big grin, but maybe just difficult enough.

“Work with me here?” she said. “It’s not that far to the Door. Really.”

“I’m pretty sure distances triple at times like these,” Jacques told her. One of his hands kept moving, gliding over the fabric of her dress. “New Cal doesn’t seem like the kind of place to have no laws against public indecency, though, so I’m guessing making it back is our best option right now?” He’d started off looking and sounding very distracted indeed; by the end, though, he’d made it back to clearer focus.

Jenni nodded. In sympathy and empathy both, she raised one hand to his face and stroked his cheek with her thumb. “Good thing about New Cal, though: the distance won’t literally increase. And I don’t think we’ll have much trouble not thinking about where we’re going in Headquarters, either.” Her grin was daring. “Want to leave it a mystery whose room we end up in?”

Jacques chuckled. “Yeah, let’s do that. Sounds like a fun sort of gamble.”

“I mean, as long as it’s actually one of ours; let’s make that clear.” Jenni directed a side-eye vaguely upward, to the realm of the Powers That Be.

Summoning her willpower again, she slid her hands down Jacques’ arms and gently disengaged his hands from around her waist. She held onto them and took one step backward, then another. Jacques let himself be towed easily enough, curling his fingers snugly around hers, and they gathered enough momentum for Jenni to turn and walk properly. They continued hand in hand.

The road did feel at least three times longer, she had to admit. They stopped several times for completely necessary breaks to drink each other in. They got more than a few strange looks and cat-calls from other people, too, but those people might as well not have existed for all Jenni cared now.

Eventually, they stumbled their way into what turned out to be Jacques’ RC. With any pretense of restraint long forgotten in a haze of need, it was a miracle that somebody remembered to shut the door.

Jacques tipped his head back against the pillow, grinning widely as he caught his breath. “Got to say, I’m already really enjoying this date.”

“Oh, good. I wasn’t sure,” Jenni teased. She leaned up and kissed him again before settling back down at his side, limbs draped across him. She sighed deeply. “Yeah. No complaints. I think you might really have magic hands.” One of hers wandered languidly up and down his side.

“I am a magic man,” Jacques said lightly, always happy to reference both songs and flirtatious messages. He wrapped one of his arms around her, and was soon drawing small circles against her skin with his thumb; the other arm got tucked behind his head to supplement the pillow. “Though, to borrow a phrase, if I haven’t been clear enough about how I’m feeling here—”

“Shame on you?” Jenni shook her head, nestling more snugly against his shoulder. “No, no. None of that. Absolutely not.” She ended on a chuckle.

Jacques grinned down at her. “So I have been clear enough? Because I’m sure I could get clearer if I had to. Somehow.”

“Now, I can’t say I wouldn’t like to see you try,” Jenni said, fighting back laughter. “Third time’s the charm, after all. But not right away. Later. Definitely later.”

Twice in a row had certainly been satisfying enough for now, Jacques reflected, and had been mutually necessary, too. The first time had been too urgent and ended too abruptly to completely satisfy either of them after all the tantalizing hints of more creativity, so once they’d recovered a bit they had started over, taking the time to get properly acquainted with each other’s bodies. Then they had made good on demonstrating what two people each concerned with the other having a great time and possessed of many, many years of practice at making it happen could really do together.

“Later it is,” Jacques agreed aloud. He pressed a kiss to her hair, which was now gloriously loose and spilling over his shoulder. “You’re amazing, by the way. I know you already know, but sometimes you really do have to point out the obvious.”

For a brief moment, Jenni’s eyes drifted shut, like someone stepping into warm sunlight. “Thanks,” she said, “but it takes two.” She reached up to stroke his brow and cheek, smiling. “I’ve never been with someone who’s been around anywhere near as long as I have. That was amazing.”

Jacques hummed contentedly, his eyes closing briefly at the touch. It was an interesting point. “Same here, actually. I’ve met a couple young-looking people with a century or several to their names, but they have a strange tendency to not be interested.” And wasn’t that a shame. “I’m pretty sure you’re the first, apart from this one time before I met the Doctor—but that species just matured very slowly, so she’d only actually come of age and started . . . getting to know people that way about fifteen years earlier. Completely different situation.” He raised his hand to Jenni’s hair, sifting the strands through his fingers as he let . . . what had her name been, Una’yin, maybe, slip back into passive memory again. “Nothing like you. I’ve never met anyone like you who wanted me enough to act on it.”

“Isn’t that strange?” Jenni mused. She quickly smiled again. “The idea of not wanting you enough to act on it sounds pretty strange to me—but I mean, I’ve had the same experience of anyone counting in more than decades just not being interested. Maybe Reria . . .” Jenni’s lips pursed. “I don’t know how old she was; I just know she was some flavor of vampire. But I’d hardly count that situation anyway. Hilarious little prank with a lust potion in the Lounge, see. Reria was kind enough to let me work it off with her, but we weren’t . . . close. Not like I feel with you.” She curled herself more firmly around Jacques, eyes turned up to his.

Jacques looked down at her, smiling faintly around sudden wariness. He liked her, too, but there was such a thing as too fast! “You feel close to me?”

“Mm.” She nodded. “I know we don’t really know each other all that well yet, but after this . . . and since what you do know about me is already more than most . . .” She paused; Jacques waited, wishing he had a better idea of what she was thinking, and hoping more and more that he wasn’t about to discover that her home universe, whatever it was, had some sort of Twilight-esque concept of insta-soulmates and she had settled on him. That would be awkward.

To his relief, she finally shook her head, looking mildly abashed, and finished with, “I’m glad you kept messaging me.”

“I’m glad you messaged back,” Jacques said, cautiously relaxing again. It was fine; his mind was just wandering in that direction because of his last mission. He could dismiss it, and go for honesty about the long shot that sending Jenni a “misaddressed” ICEP message had been instead. “I wasn’t sure you would, at first.”

Jenni chuckled. “I wasn’t going to, but the songs and musical references did me in. What can I say? I was weak.” Her tone and the way she was running her fingers over his chest said she was not at all unhappy about it.

“I really like music,” Jacques said, smiling. He also liked the way she was touching him. As far as he remembered, both had been touchstones for most of his life, and honestly, if Jack didn’t share that constant, the poor man was really missing out. “It actually helped me with the Sue, a little bit. The one who got me instead of Jack? I couldn’t quite break free of her, but it was . . .” He looked up at the ceiling, trying to put it into words. He hated talking about this, but doing it in bed with Jenni pressed up against him made it more palatable; and it was suddenly something he wanted her to know about him, to understand the new meaning he’d found in being able to use his voice that way. “I was in love with her, but I knew something was wrong. I knew I wasn’t thinking clearly. Singing was pretty much the only way I could express that at all.”

“Oh, hon.” Jenni’s tone suggested that a gesture more overt than the slight tightening of her arm around his middle was incoming, but to Jacques’ faint surprise, she held still. “You don’t know how many stories like that I’ve heard. Mostly, the singer is the culprit, though.”

The corner of Jacques’ mouth tipped up, for all Jenni had sounded a little bitter at the end. “Not this time. There wasn’t much else I could do, so I opted to sing at the culprit.” The hint of a smile stretched easily into a smirk. “‘You’re So Vain’, in fact.”

Jenni chuckled and gave his ribs an approving stroke. “Good for you. That’s more than a lot of people in your position can manage.”

“I’m a stubborn guy,” Jacques said. He glanced down at her. “Maybe it isn’t always my best quality, but it does come in handy.”

“It does, at that.” Now Jenni did prop herself up far enough to kiss him.

Jacques kissed her back, humming contentedly as he slipped his hand into her hair again. There was no ache of need to this kiss, just slow, quiet appreciation.

When it had run its course, Jenni stayed where she was, lightly bracing herself with one arm against his chest. “You know, I have a bit of a stubborn streak myself. I’m not at all upset with how things have gone, but I had this little agenda for showing you around New Cal. Do you still want to do that? We’ve got the whole rest of the day, and we can always come back here later.”

Jacques chuckled. “If that’s how your stubborn streak comes out, I can’t say I mind.” He traced the line of Jenni’s cheekbone with his thumb. “Sure, let’s go to New Cal. I think we had plans for a meal, too—that might be a good idea.”

“Absolutely.” Smiling brightly, Jenni sat up with her legs tucked under her. She started looking at the floor, where their clothes had been haphazardly abandoned, but ended up looking with more interest around the room.

Jacques looked with her, glancing around and trying to guess what she’d take from the view. It was, he’d gathered, the average HQ bedroom. The walls were grey and bare for now; there was a sturdy but not especially remarkable wood-veneer wardrobe against the wall opposite the bed, next to the closed door to the bathroom. A small night table in a much darker shade of wood veneer stood between the bed and the wall, and held an elegantly curved lamp that was one of the nicest pieces of furniture in the room (and had been nabbed from Tony Stark’s uncanonical best guest room). The bed itself was reasonably big, but not firm enough; the sheets, at least, were soft, new, and in flattering shades of light to dark blue.

All in all, it was more functional than comfortable, and had the air of scavenged pieces trying to fit into a cohesive look that remained just out of reach. He’d work on that, eventually.

“An actual bedroom,” Jenni remarked. “What I wouldn’t give for an actual bedroom.”

“It’s nice to have a separate space,” Jacques agreed. He stretched with a sigh. “Bathroom’s through that door, if you’re hoping to find it.”

“No kidding! You’ve got an en suite?” She grinned. “Such decadence!” With a sly glance back, she added, “How big is your shower?”

Jacques groaned, and sat up. “Tiny. It barely fits me.” He reached for her hand with an earnest look. “I swear I’m working on changing that.”

“Hm. Good luck,” Jenni said with real sympathy. “D’you mind if I hop in quickly, though? You did sort of undo all my hard work earlier.”

Jacques kissed her hand and let it go. “Be my guest. Hold on—I’ll find you a towel.” He got out of bed and headed for the wardrobe. It was still only partially full, even with several sets of sheets, largely mismatched towels, and a thick blanket he’d acquired from the Rook Takes Pawnshop in the mix. He picked out one of the plusher towels, in a dark shade of green, and turned to offer it to her. “Here. Matches your eyes.” He winked.

Jenni laughed as she got up and accepted it. “Thanks. I only use color-coordinated towels.” She thanked him again by putting her arms around him, and they indulged in a tight embrace, sealed with a kiss. “I won’t be long,” she promised, stepping away.

Jacques grinned. “I think I’m supposed to say ‘hurry back’ here, right?” The phrase tugged at something in his memory, though he couldn’t put his finger on what.

“Nah, it’s a bit redundant.” Jenni picked up her things. Before slipping into the bathroom, she smiled at him and added, “But I will, though.”

Jacques smiled back. “Good.”

He turned to straighten the sheets, and—

“Hurry back,” he added, smiling cheekily.

It got him a laugh. “You’d think I never spent any time with you!”

“No—I just can’t get enough.” He met her eyes, briefly sincere under the laughter. “Go on, get the sugar. I’ll keep an eye on the cake.”

“You might start the dishes while I’m out, too,” she said teasingly, and turned to get her hat.

“Oh, sure thing, darling—”

He was standing in his little bedroom with the grey walls, hand outstretched to pull the sheets back into place. He completed the motion, then sat down, staring blankly at the wall.

Who was this woman? He’d called her “darling” and felt perfectly comfortable and at ease in . . . whose house was it? Hers? She had been able to pick up her hat . . .

The scene was such a domestic one. Astoundingly so, for a person he couldn’t even identify.

Or could he? Think. They were almost definitely together, between the pet name and the flirting and how very affectionate he’d felt. It would help, of course, if he’d been able to see her face clearly, but . . .

Time blurred details. People, places—even the most important risked some loss of detail eventually. But to so fully forget someone he’d baked with, teased, spoken to like he loved her . . .

The hat, he thought. The hat was the clearest part of all that. Shame a hat couldn’t be used to track someone down that easily.

Would he want to track this woman down, though? He’d forgotten her so thoroughly that he hadn’t realized she’d ever existed, ever crossed his path, until that shred of a faded memory forced its way back into his awareness. What had she done to him? Worse, what might he have done to her? Why did he not know?

There were horrors in Jacques’ past, more than enough for multiple lifetimes. There were details he remembered more clearly than he wanted to, and others that he had managed to compress and desaturate until little remained of them but a nearly colorless summary and a couple associated emotions. Still other events had been suppressed to the point where he knew roughly what had happened, but took care to never pull on the threads that might unravel his layers of preventative muffling.

Was this such a thread? Wasn’t he probably best off leaving it alone?

Jacques was still staring at the wall ten minutes later, when Jenni’s voice shook him from his reverie. “Hey. Everything okay?”

Jacques blinked and turned his head toward her. It took him a moment to come back to the present and smile at the woman standing in his space now. She was almost as put-together as she had been when he’d first seen her in New Cal, with the exception of a simpler ponytail; very different from most of the 1950s hairstyles he’d been thinking of just now as he attempted to place the memory woman despite his better judgement. “Yeah, just got distracted. You look gorgeous as ever.”

She smiled back, but it didn’t entirely erase the concern from her eyes. Thankfully, she didn’t question him. Instead, she walked over to brush her fingers through his hair. “You look very naked. It’s a good look, and I approve, but I don’t think the rest of the population will take it so kindly.”

Jacques grinned. “I’m pretty sure a sizable number of them wouldn’t mind at all.”

“No, you’re right.” Jenni solemnly dropped her chin in acknowledgement of her error. “Within two seconds there would be someone from the Monitor popping out of the woodwork to snap photos, and they’d undoubtedly have record sales of the next issue.” She gave Jacques’ head a few more gentle pets and finished with a touch to his cheek. “If that ever happens, I want an autograph of the page.” She winked.

“You got it,” Jacques told her. He got to his feet, and pressed a kiss to her mouth before going to gather his own clothes. “Give me a few minutes—there’ll be other days to cause a riot.” He winked back at her and went into the bathroom, closing the door behind him.

In private once more, Jacques closed his eyes for a long moment. This was strange, this was—unprecedented. Unexpected.

Irrelevant, he told himself firmly. At least right now. He was finally on a date with a woman he was liking more with every hour; whoever the woman in this suddenly restored memory was, she wasn’t going anywhere, especially if he was right about the memory taking place around the 1950s. He could have another go at solving the mystery later, if it was even possible. The time the problem spent percolating in the back of his mind might even help.

He turned on the water and stepped into the shower. He wondered if it had spared Jenni the perpetual dance between too hot and lukewarm water temperature; it was working well enough for him, for a change, but for all he knew that was down to it having got out the hijinks with Jenni.

Jenni, who was currently probably wandering around his RC, unless she was feeling unnecessarily polite. Besides, she’d already seen the bedroom.

What might she think of the rest? he wondered. He wasn’t exactly uncomfortable with the spartan feel of the living room—after most of a decade spent primarily living in a tiny room under his office in the Hub, he was a little unused to having a living room. The bedroom was another matter: he’d missed having more luxuries there, and had every intention of acquiring them and making it a comfortable, pleasant space. After all, what was there to stop him?

Still, a lack of discomfort wasn’t the same as feeling happy with the space. Just as he was determined to get the shower expanded, so too was he determined to make the living area more comfortable and a little less . . . eclectically furnished. Whoever had lived here before he moved in had managed to acquire and mount a poster of what he was pretty sure was the default Windows XP desktop picture, for pity’s sake (a photograph of three palm trees on a little white sand island with a sailboat off to the side and white clouds against the vivid blue sky overhead). He was definitely looking forward to replacing that with something a bit more his style.

Jacques shook his head as he turned the water off, and reached for his towel. Once dressed again, with his hair toweled dry and quickly styled, he padded out into the living room and took a quick look around. There was the poster in its wooden frame with the charming knife marks. The mission gear on the battered metal desk below it didn’t look too embarrassing: weapons, a partially eaten bar of Swiss Bleepolate, some DVDs. Several packets of an unholy cross between commercial instant soups and military ration packs sat on top of a half-full cloth bag; he was happy enough to wait to find out what their attempts to thrill his taste buds would be like on the next mission. That was all against the west wall; the little kitchenette took up most of the northeast corner of the room, while the ubiquitous console squatted against the north wall. Across from the console sat the squashy brown couch he’d hauled in with Luxury’s help. Apart from that, the only notable objects were the bookshelves scattered around the room, and that primarily because they had so little on them.

(He knew. He was working on it.)

To his amusement, Jenni turned out to be looking at none of it. Instead, she stood in mutual regard with jack harkness the mini-Reaper. Jacques’ unlikely roommate was a gangly brown creature with the appearance of a spider crossed with a bat; as he approached, it shifted on the top of the lockers next to the front door, glaring down at Jenni with malevolent red eyes. Jenni gazed back, appropriately wary.

Jacques laughed softly as he stopped at her shoulder; Jenni turned and smiled at him. Jacques smiled back.

“I see you’ve found jack,” he said.

Jenni winced; like many of the veteran agents Jacques had met, she had apparently picked up the knack of hearing incorrect capitalization. “Jack?” she repeated with an ever-so-subtle correction. Then the penny dropped. “Wait, like, that Jack?”

“jack harkness,” Jacques said with a nod. The mini screeched but otherwise didn’t move. “He’s a mini-Reaper. Don’t worry if you see him flying into things—he’s a Torchwood mini, so he can’t fly in a straight line. Something about being from a spin-off show. Doesn’t seem to hurt him, though.”

“Yeah, I’d heard that about spin-offs. Huh.” She gave the mini a second, thoughtful look, then shrugged and slipped her hand into Jacques’. “So, all set?”

Jacques nodded, seeing no reason to linger. “Let’s go. Back later,” he added to jack, who turned away disinterestedly.

“We come from the same badfic,” he told Jenni as the door closed behind them. “The same chapter, even. I figured it made sense for us to stick together.”

“Ah, that explains it. I wouldn’t have expected—” She cut the thought short with a brief shake of her head. “I understand now.” She squeezed his hand.

“Mm,” Jacques said, wondering briefly what reasons she’d come up with for him to want such a reminder of his origins around. He squeezed back, then set off down the hall. “So, however will we keep ourselves distracted this time?”

Jenni hummed thoughtfully. “I don’t know. What do you usually do?”

“Alone, or with someone else?”

Jenni smiled. “I got a good idea of what you like to do with someone else. It might work a second time, but I’m not sure I’d trust the Powers That Be that far.”

Jacques chuckled. “Fair enough. Alone . . . actually, a lot of the time I just sing something.”

“Yeah?” Jenni looked up at him with the interest of someone who has just been offered an unexpected treat.

“Well, I do like music,” Jacques said, and winked. “How about it? Want to sing with me?”

Surprisingly, Jenni’s demeanor shifted to acute embarrassment. Her cheeks reddened, and her grip tightened on Jacques’ hand. “The thing is . . . yes, I would love very little more than that. It’s just, someone like me? I have this ingrained fear of the DIA coming to get me.” She gave him a watery smile. “I sing to Henry, because I’ll be damned if I ever let anyone stop me from singing to my baby, but that’s different from . . .” She gestured to the two of them. “You know. This.”

“Hm,” Jacques said. He raised their clasped hands and put his free hand briefly on top before letting them swing back down. “Well, what if we sang something very silly? Something that would never be a Sue’s first choice? No solos, either, and we can be very careful not to actually compliment each other’s voices.”

Jenni laughed. It seemed to relieve some of her tension. “That sounds fantastic. Any suggestions?”

Jacques smiled. “How about ‘Time Warp’? It’s silly, it’s fun, and there’s no focus on singing really well.”

She gave him an amused side-eye. “Sure, but ‘Time Warp’, though? I know you like Rocky Horror, but I didn’t think that one would be a go-to for you. Unless being comedically on the nose is the appeal?”

“Hey, what kind of time traveler would I be if I couldn’t sing about it sometimes?” Jacques said. “Besides, it’s a fun song. You can get creative with it, dance along . . .”

“Hm, true. It’s . . . astounding,” Jenni stated deadpan.

Jacques grinned. “Time is . . . fleeting.”

Madness . . . takes its toll—and I’d know!”

Jacques broke down laughing. “Oh, that’s good.”

Jenni grinned and laughed, too. She recovered with a visible effort. “But . . . but listen closely!

Not for very much longer!” Jacques’ voice wobbled slightly from the laughter, but it firmed as he went on. “I’ve got to . . . keep control.” He winked at her, because really, why not?

That set Jenni off again. “Well, so much for control!”

“I’m frequently uncontrollable,” Jacques said, mostly straight-faced. “Also very good at making other people lose theirs.”

Jenni tilted her head at him and seemed on the point of saying something a bit wicked, but a quick glance up the hallway ahead stopped her short. “Oh, for the love of little green dragons.” She gestured for Jacques’ benefit.

The Door to New Cal had decided to put in an early appearance.

“Doesn’t that just figure?” Jenni said. Jacques wasn’t sure if she was more disappointed or relieved to be saved from having to come in on the first sung line of the number, and he tucked his curiosity about it away to examine another time.

“Guess we’ll have to save the Time Warp for later,” he said. He shook his head. “Oh well. Come on, let’s go to New Cal!”

Jenni waved at the Security Dandelion minding the Door as they walked up. “Hi again. Sorry about earlier!”

If I had eyes, they might be bleeding, said the Flower, sounding slightly shell-shocked. Stay gone . . . longer, at least? Please?

“That’s the plan,” Jenni said.

Jacques smiled at the Dandelion, and leaned closer to Jenni as they passed it to murmur, grinning, “But then again, it was last time, too . . .”

Part 3: Shall We Dance?

On the other side of the door, Jenni and Jacques paused to adjust to the change of the air. Headquarters was neither particularly humid nor particularly dry, not particularly hot or particularly cold. It depended on who you asked. In contrast, New Caledonia was always warm if not hot, and the air was always humid and fragrant.

Once she’d gotten used to it, Jenni took a deep, satisfying breath, letting go of her giddy nerves over almost getting into a duet, however silly, with a man she already had overweening feelings about. He could have no real idea of how it had made her heart race, and that was just as well. She’d really have to watch herself, or she’d scare him off.

Preparing to settle into her self-appointed role as his tour guide, she took a quick look around. The late afternoon sky was still clear, and at the elevation of the Door, there was a good view of the brilliant blue water of Poya Bay sparkling away to the south. Catching Jacques’ eye, she tipped her head and pointed. “I never get tired of seeing that. It’s a good start to the grand tour.”

Jacques drew in a startled breath, eyes widening slightly. “I didn’t know we had water this close. Is there a beach?”

One corner of Jenni’s mouth turned up as she took in his rapt expression. “Yes, but it takes about a two-hour hike to get down there, and it’s not the greatest. There are others, though, really nice ones. Do you ride, by any chance?”

“Ride what?” Jacques asked. “Though, really, the answer’s probably yes no matter what it is.”

“Horses. They’re the best way to get around. There’s a place at the south end of the town that rents out a few for trail riding—or, if you can convince one of the Courtyard herd to take you, they like a chance to get out, too.”

Jacques smiled. “I know how to ride a horse, yeah. Had to learn eventually, in the eighteen hundreds—sometimes we had to get places quickly, with Torchwood, and horses were often the best option.”

Jenni smiled back. “Excellent. Put a pin in that idea for another day, then.”

Jacques nodded, though he glanced wistfully at the water again before he spoke. “Onward, then?”


Jenni pointed out a few items of interest as they walked along the Rue Elisabeth, the northernmost part of the track leading to the city proper. She named the crops growing in the farm fields around them and some of the more distinctive native plants on the hillsides, like the omnipresent araucaria trees stretching their sparse brooms of spiky, whorled leaves toward the sky. Jacques admired them dutifully, albeit with a teasing smile. Clearly, his interest in trees didn’t extend to the non-sapient sort.

She was deliberately reticent about the Cemetery Hill, giving its identity and no more. There was still no need to bring up anything connected to the year 2008. Jacques glanced at her when she fell silent, but didn’t comment, only squeezing her hand as they moved on.

She resumed her narrative at the intersection of the Chemin de Wisteria, which led to the Multiversal Sportsplex. Fittingly, the Flower whose memory was honored by the path’s name had been famous for wearing a tracksuit and being more interested in exercise than in managing its department.

Since it had headed the Department of Operations, that explained the noticeably unregulated architecture of the northern residential district, nicknamed the American Quarter. Since Jacques seemed intrigued as they walked through it, Jenni told him a brief history of the “badfic baby boom” of the early 2000s that had prompted many agents newly with children to move into family homes in the fresh air of New Caledonia. The agents had wanted what was familiar to them, and in the sudden expansion, no one (certainly not the Wisteria) had bothered to tell the builders they shouldn’t put American houses on a South Pacific mountain.

“But that’s something I really like about New Cal,” Jenni said as they reentered the town square. “Exploring it is like a game of spot the anachronism. Upstairs tries to keep things under control now, but, well, it’s the PPC. We could never resist a touch of the extraordinary here and there.” She gave Jacques a telling look: he was proving both extraordinary and irresistible.

Jacques grinned. “Sounds about right,” he said. “It’s like visiting DoSAT—everywhere you look, there’s a bit of technology that doesn’t match the piece sitting next to it.”

Jenni nodded. “Points for spotting a vibranium door knocker here or some potted athelas there. No points for, say, the clock, though.”

She pointed up. The tower was in typical French-colonial style and painted yellow, but the clock face set into it had a complex wheel mechanism in place of hands, and it counted from one all the way to twenty-four.

Jacques laughed. “Yeah, that’s not too hard to spot. I’d think it’d seem on the cutting edge of modern technology to people not in the know, though.”

“That, or maybe modern art,” Jenni agreed. “You can get away with a lot by calling it modern art. Have you seen the TARDIS docks?” Thinking of them brought a wry twist to her smile.

Jacques’ smile faltered momentarily. “Didn’t know we had them.”

Jenni grimaced and looked down. Stupid thing to mention for several reasons. “Yeah, it’s a thing. Some agents use them. But, we don’t have to go there; there’s plenty else worth looking at.” She raised her eyes back to Jacques’. “Is there anything you’ve wanted to see?”

“Hm,” Jacques said, seemingly just to buy himself a moment. “Well, the beach, of course. And maybe the rest of the residential area, sometime. I hear there’s a good ice cream shop there. I don’t really know much about New Cal, though—what do you think I should see?”

“Well, if you like ice cream, I don’t know about a place in the residential area, but there’s one called Le Cagou just across the market square,” Jenni replied, pointing northwest toward the shopping district. “There’s a bubble tea place, too, and you must try bubble tea sometime if you haven’t had it before.” She smiled at a fond memory of the time someone had said much the same thing to her.

“I haven’t, no,” Jacques said. “Uh—what is bubble tea?”

Jenni chuckled. “It’s tea, usually cold, with milk, very sweet, and also with chewy, molasses-flavored tapioca balls—those are the ‘bubbles’. You have to drink the tea with a giant straw to get them. It’s fun! The place here, PPTea, will add a pump of Bleepto-Dismal if you ask to ‘make it an Unsee Juice’, too.”

Jacques raised his eyebrows. “Oh, I see—so it also serves drink alternatives to Bleepka?”

“Not as such.” Jenni waved a dismissive hand. “That’s just one of the special options. They also offer different kinds of tea—including Bleeptea—which they’ll make with non-dairy milk, Bleepolate milk, or blue milk; and you can get taro bubbles, juice-filled popping bubbles with or without glitter, or flavored jelly bits instead of the tapioca ones. Some of the flavors are quite exotic: shrivelfig, snozzberry, wahoonie . . . Don’t get wahoonie, though; trust me. Nobody’s that nostalgic for the ‘flavor of Ankh-Morpork’.”

“The flavor of Ankh-Morpork,” Jacques repeated, and shuddered. “Noted. Say no to wahoonie jellies, but yes to bubble tea. Sounds interesting.”

“So there are a couple options for dessert,” Jenni concluded. She hadn’t forgotten the original question. “Anyway, for things to see, I like the Arboretum. It’s got trees and plants from all over the multiverse, including the ones I just referenced and then some. There’s always a slight chance of running into one of the Flower Officials in there, but other than that, it’s great—removes the need for someone to go to Pern for a bit of klah bark, for example.” Just hypothetically, of course.

“Plus,” she added, seeing Jacques’ eyes begin to glaze over, “Club Aujourd’hui is out that way, and that’s another one you get no points for noticing. There’s a bit that hovers.”

That got his attention. “Sounds like my kind of place. What’s the function of the bit that hovers? Anything interesting?”

“That’s the really strange thing,” Jenni answered, smiling again. She started them going southeast on the Rue des Fleurs. “It’s not actually connected to the main building by any means anybody can figure out. I think the dance floor must be up there, because there’s not that much real square footage in the ground-level part, but if you look out from the inside, the views don’t match up with where the windows seem to be, and if you look at it from the outside, all the windows have offices behind them. There’s no obvious door. It’s like the Willy Wonka chocolate factory: nobody ever goes in and nobody ever comes out, but the lights come on every night.”

Definitely my kind of place,” Jacques said. “I don’t suppose you’d like to go?”

“I’ll show you where it is,” Jenni said, and with a hint of mischief she added: “but I never got a straight answer from you on the subject of dancing.”

Jacques smirked. “Oh, believe me, I dance. Come on, an opportunity to hold someone close and move around to music?” He shook his head. “I’ve danced in every decade I’ve lived through and some I spent all of two days in. How’s that for a straight answer?”

“Fine words,” Jenni said, all play. “But as the fair lady said, I get words all day through; show me!” She tugged on his hand, urging him to a quicker pace along the street.

Jacques zipped his lips shut and locked them, equally playful, then flicked the key over his shoulder.

The tour continued briskly along the Rue des Fleurs, past several of the most noteworthy restaurants in the eating district, including La Trattoria, Nakamura’s, and Âra ma Wayo. (“That’s the place for local cuisine. Mostly vegetarian, and really good.”) At the first major intersection, they turned south onto the Rue Fait des Choses, passing by the library on their left. (“The normal library, not to be confused with the Musée des Univers Perdus; that’s farther east. Definitely go there sometime.”)

Club Aujourd’hui stood on the southeast corner of the Rue Fait des Choses and the Rue Bart Ronson, respectively the first major north-south and east-west streets from the center lines. The main building had a bowed triangular base with walls that swept up into a sharp central spire at the front corner. As advertised, a structure shaped like a spindle with a half-twist hung behind the spire with no visible means of support, both a part and apart. It was all very futuristic: metallic gold, but sleek and organic, as though the walls might have been grown rather than built. And behind every visible window of the spindle was a drab, bog-standard office.

Jenni gave a dramatic gesture. “Et voilà.”

Jacques whistled. “I like it. Let’s go in,” he said, looking up at the spindle’s unsupported piece and grinning. “Closest I’ve been to a place like that in over a century is Rudi’s. For some reason, trying to at least get a mission to Star Wars hasn’t been working—probably because I want it to happen, actually.”

Jenni laughed, catching his excitement. “Yeah, that’s a sure-fire way to ruin your chances. All right, come on. At this time of day, we’ll have the place more or less to ourselves.”

At first glance, the interior was a normal drinks lounge. The décor combined the smooth, organic gold of the walls with glass and crystal surfaces and dark leather seating. It had a bar along the north wall with some standing tables dotting the center of the space. The area south of center contained a set of comfortable-looking couches with matching armchairs. Northeast of center, there were a few square dining tables. Low ambient lighting created soft shadows that made the walls look even more alive, and LED spots sparked rainbows off the tables and the rows of liquor bottles behind the bar. Cheerful-sounding music played from a jukebox near the door—a native duo, judging by the language. There were a few people present: a group of three sat together on the couches, chatting, and lone drinkers occupied a couple of the bar stools.

“I love it,” Jacques declared once he’d turned his head enough to see everything. “Especially if it fills up with HQ residents like Rudi’s does. Does it?”

“Absolutely.” Jenni grinned at his enthusiasm. “I don’t get out here too often myself, but I’ve seen the place pretty full. Very good people-spotting—it’s fun to see if you can tell who’s in disguise and who isn’t. I know there are a few ghosts who like to hang out here, too. Did you see the sign on the door, ‘spirits served here’?”

Jacques’ face had fallen slightly at the word “disguise,” but now he brightened again. “No. Really?”


Jacques shook his head. “That’s amazing. Where are they from?”

“Originally?” Jenni’s brow creased in thought. “I don’t know. Someplace where you can come back as a ghost, I guess. It’s not a Headquarters thing, that’s pretty clear.”

“Good to know,” Jacques said. “So, what do you serve a spirit?”

Jenni smiled again. “Well, in the Potterverse it was moldy bread and other things that had gone off. They could almost taste it that way. I don’t know if that would fly here, though.”

Jacques wrinkled his nose. “I think the living might protest.”

“Just a bit. Especially about the salmon. But, look up now.”

The most impressive view was overhead. The long, concave southeast wall swept up and in to form the spire visible from outside. Looking up from the inside, the eyes were filled by a dance floor, or at least a holographic image of one. It seemed both too three-dimensional to be a simple projection and too translucent to be real. There were no stairs.

“Wow,” Jacques murmured. “I haven’t seen anything like that in . . .” He trailed off rather than give a time estimate, turning his head back and forth to take in the complete view.

Jenni chuckled. “Clever, isn’t it?” she understated. “I’ll show you how to get there.”

She led Jacques to an elevator on the southeast wall. Inside, pushing the correct buttons on the number panel triggered a vworp noise reminiscent of a portal opening, which, given the impossibility of the club’s architecture, it probably was. Moments later, the doors opened onto the dance floor.

The term didn’t do the real thing justice. There were several tiled floors, arranged like a Trekverse 3D-chess board and suspended with antigrav fields. One could move between them via strategically placed portals. The tiles lit up. Currently, they cycled slowly between colors to the visualization algorithms of the prerecorded song set playing from the DJ’s nest. The stage lights, some of which also hovered, were mostly dormant now, with natural light still streaming through the large windows. The walls had a slick, vitreous quality, suggesting their ability to become translucent from the inside on very special occasions.

“I like it,” Jacques said. His eyes just about sparkled as he looked around, and he was smiling the kind of small smile that couldn’t be completely suppressed. “We’ve got to come back here when it’s full. Or I do, if you’d rather not join me.”

“I tend to prefer a more old-fashioned setting,” Jenni admitted, “but I’d love to see you having fun with it. You look like you’ve found paradise.” Happy to have pleased him, she stroked his cheek where his smile creased it.

Jacques’ smile deepened. “I think I mentioned it’s been over a century?” He looked down at her, drawing her close. “This is . . . it’s the kind of place I loved, before I got stuck in the past. It’s what I considered normal. When it’s full, I think—it’ll be almost like going back in time, to my time. To the kind of place where I fit in perfectly.”

“I’m glad,” Jenni said. “I want you to have that.” She knew the heartache of not quite belonging far too well, and leaned against him in sympathy.

“I really want it.” Jacques’ voice was low, as though he were afraid to catch himself speaking so openly. “I never used to think I’d stop having access to places like this in my thirties. I thought I’d just keep going until I got too old or too settled to enjoy them as much, if that ever happened at all.”

There was a lot Jenni could have said to that, but earlier, when she’d caught Jacques looking worrisomely pensive after her shower, she had resolved not to push him about anything the way she might have done in her office. Not today. That wasn’t the relationship they had opted to explore together, and if all went well now, there might be time later. An almost unbelievable wealth of time.

So, Jenni kept her thoughts to herself, gave Jacques a squeeze, and said, “Do you want to get out there? Just for a little bit, while it’s quiet?”

She passed the test: Jacques’ smile returned, lighting up his face with excitement and possibly a touch of relief. “Oh, absolutely. Let’s go!”

Jenni beamed back, happy for her own sake as much as his. She loved to dance almost as much as she loved to sing, and while HQ holiday parties afforded her some opportunities, it was rare to find a partner who really knew how. She led Jacques out into the middle of the main horizontal plane, then turned to face him, holding both of his hands. Hoping to help him feel even more at home, she said, “What do you say to showing me something I wouldn’t be likely to know? Something you remember from your thirties?”

Jacques’ eyes widened, and then he laughed. “That’s—I really don’t get asked that a lot. Ever.”

“Is that all right?” Jenni tilted her head. “I mean, I don’t know if you would remember well enough, or want to. But I’d like to learn.”

Jacques shook his head slowly. “I haven’t thought about this in . . . years. Let’s see.” Moving haltingly at first, he took her through a few steps, though many of them seemed to rely more on body position and quick touches than foot movements. Some she could anticipate; others were entirely unfamiliar, like words in a dialect far diverged from her own. Finally, he stepped in and to the side, catching her around the waist. “I think there might be a spin from here?”

Jenni smiled. “Like this?” She stepped forward, one-two, and turned on her toe, just fast enough to ripple the edges of her skirt. She finished up facing him again.

Jacques nodded. “Something like that. Think . . . beach meets . . . flirtation meets night club.” He stepped in again, moving lightly, and was around her and over to her other side with a fleeting brush of fingers along her shoulders and back to mark his path.

Jenni shivered and laughed. “I like that. So then . . .?” She turned counter to his vector to catch him coming back.

Jacques’ fingers skimmed up her arm as he stepped in close. “Hi.”

Jenni grinned. “Hey.” She couldn’t resist stretching up and kissing him.

Jacques hummed as he kissed her back, both hands settling on her shoulders. “That’s actually supposed to happen after the next round, assuming everyone’s into it, but we already know each other, so throwing it out the window’s fine, too.”

“Oh, good. I don’t want to throw us off; you were just too cute.” She gave him another quick peck.

Jacques laughed. “I’ve heard that before. Different language, though, at least the first few times.”

“Hey, I’m being serious!” Jenni winked. “I still want to learn the rest.”

“The rest often gets sidetracked at this point,” Jacques said without the faintest trace of shame. “If you want to go on, though, it’s a lot more of the same—but with more touching, more twirling . . .” He shook his head, smiling. “It’s the kind of thing that originated on a sandy beach, first on the dry part, then on to the firmer sand for the fancier steps. And then it made it to the mainland and got incorporated into something that takes more advantage of a floor that doesn’t shift under your feet.”

Jenni raised her eyebrows. “I’d think the shifting sand would be to your advantage, if the idea is to get sidetracked as quickly as possible. Why, at any moment, someone’s foot could slip, and—”

She mock-stumbled against Jacques’ chest and let him catch her. He laughed and turned the move into a halfway credible tango dip. Caught off-balance, Jenni yelped and had to hang on for real until she got one foot back under her.

She grinned up at him. “I think I begin to see why you were excited about the beach.”

“See? Beaches are great,” Jacques said, grinning, and leaned in.

They shared a longer kiss.

“I don’t disagree,” Jenni said once upright again, carding her fingers through Jacques’ hair. “I used to live somewhere—the climate was similar to New Cal, actually, and there were some stellar cove beaches. White sand, blue sea, fresh redfruit right off the trees . . . Most of the dancing was a lot more structured, though, and not on sand. Unless it was at a Gather in Igen and it wasn’t a choice, because it’s a desert.” She wrinkled her nose; desert grit underfoot wasn’t anyone’s idea of a good time.

“Desert aside . . . that sounds beautiful,” Jacques said. “Is it somewhere we can get to from HQ? Could be a great place to vacation.”

Jenni went still, not quite sure if the question was serious or how fully she was comfortable answering it. So much about her life on Pern was just a bit dubious from a PPC standpoint, from its broader AU nature down to her specific experiences. She shouldn’t have mentioned it at all. It was just that she felt almost as free and easy as she had as a journeyman Harper on her way to her first posting.

She covered the lapse with a chuckle and resumed a swaying step. “Well, in the sense that you can get anywhere from HQ, if you can convince the Flowers to give you leave. New Cal is easier, and just as good, with the reef and all.” She smiled, ran her hands over Jacques’ shoulders, and hoped he couldn’t tell how her nostalgia made a lie of her last statement.

“There’s a reef?” he said, happily free of deeper inquiry.

“Oh—yeah, second-largest barrier reef in the world, I think, and everything amazing that goes with it.” Jenni honestly appreciated the reef’s diverse beauty beyond its success as a distraction.

Jacques ran his fingers along her back, lazily tracing the seams of her dress. “Do people go snorkeling, then? Seriously, no one tells me anything here.” He grinned at her.

Jenni nodded at the question. The last remark gave her a startling sense that Jacques was aware he was being diverted, but giving her the same courtesy that she’d extended to him by letting it go. She smiled back. “I’ll steer you right. Stick with me, kid, and you’ll go far.” On a whim, she changed her hold on him to the leader position, making a dare of it.

Jacques’ eyes lit up as he grinned again. He shifted his own hands to play follower, and raised his eyebrows at her. “Going to show me what you’ve got?”

“Share and share alike, right?” Jenni winked at him. “Nothing too fancy, just a variation on a two-step with some distant inspiration from Irish folk-dancing, I think.” That was usually a safe bet with anything Pernese.

“I do like the Irish,” Jacques mused. “Go on, how’s it start?”

She took them hesitantly through a few basic figures, getting a feel for the current music, which wasn’t the ideal tempo, and remembering how to lead. After a few missteps, Jacques caught on, and by the end of the song, he was following her smoothly.

“Not bad!” Jenni said when they paused, smiling ear to ear. Switching roles was plainly not the usual for either of them, but it was fun to mix things up, and pleasing to know they could. “Brilliant, in fact, all things considered. You have no idea—or maybe you do—know how hard it is to find someone who can keep up on the floor. Or wants to, for that matter.”

Jacques chuckled. “It varies a lot, I’ve found. I do love finding a compatible dance partner, though!”

“Same,” Jenni replied, matching his flirtatious tone. Returning strictly to the topic of dance, she added, “To be fair, this exact style is pretty obscure. In more advanced forms, you can throw in a number of kicks and flicks—I’ve seen people get so into it they barely seem to touch the ground. Something like this.” She took a step back to demonstrate a relatively sedate set of embellishments. Barely a patch on what she’d been capable of as a sixteen-year-old, but it seemed to please her audience nonetheless.

“Nice,” Jacques said. “Do we have to stand apart to do them, or what?”

Jenni nodded, a bit breathless—shards, she was out of practice. “Some apart, some in hold. At the moment, I think I’d rather be in hold.” She reached for his hand and pulled herself back in close.

Jacques obligingly rested his hand on her shoulder again. His eyes sparkled. “No objections here.”

“Not the right shoes, anyway,” Jenni muttered, embracing him. “But thanks for going along.”

“I’m flexible,” Jacques said, smiling. “Think I mentioned.”

Jenni chuckled. “You did, at that.”

Jacques’ smile deepened. “It’s been a fun afternoon, hasn’t it? I know it’s a bit early to make plans for a second date, but I think we should have one.”

“Absolutely.” Jenni gave his back an appreciative rub and leaned back enough to smile up at him. “I can’t often get this much time free, but I do usually have a couple hours in the afternoon between my last appointment and picking up Henry from daycare. It’s enough to take in an episode or two of something, like we talked about back at the start.”

Jacques nodded. “Sounds like a plan. I can start letting you know when I’m not on missions—when I go, when I’m back, that kind of thing. A steady schedule just doesn’t seem to exist in the Action Departments, unfortunately.”

“Believe me, I know all about it,” Jenni said with a long-suffering roll of her eyes. “In my experience, if something like today lines up more than once a month, I’m doing pretty well.”

Jacques laughed. “Ouch. And now you’re going to have two agents to try to arrange times with.”

Jenni nodded. “Which should, theoretically, work well, unless you and Su routinely end up coming and going in lock step. Not that I’d put it past HQ once in a while, but surely some levels of comedic coincidence are too much even for the PPC.” She was smiling, but serious as she went on. “In general, I think a policy of first asked, first answered makes sense, subject to exceptions for unusual circumstances—extraordinarily long absence, injury or illness, special occasions, that sort of thing. Is that all right with you?”

Jacques shrugged. “I don’t see why not. It makes sense.”

“Good. I do try.” Jenni got up on her toes and gave him a quick kiss.

Jacques hummed as he kissed her back, and then smiled at her with a touch of genuine sweetness that surprised her following the rollicking sort of affection he’d shown so far. “I know I’m the newcomer here, Jenni. I’m not planning to make it hard on either of you, I promise.”

Jenni’s expression softened, and she nodded in both acknowledgement and gratitude. “I believe you. Thanks. But, don’t worry: I take responsibility for managing my commitments wisely.”

Jacques tucked a stray wisp of hair behind her ear. “How about right now we share a bit of responsibility and go find some food? Unless you’d rather keep dancing, of course.”

“Well . . .” Neither of those choices was at the top of Jenni’s list anymore if she were completely honest, but she wasn’t quite prepared to admit it, no matter how strongly she suspected Jacques felt the same way. In a bit of mischief, she wrapped one leg around his, Argentine-style, but grinned and said, “Food would be sensible.”

“Well, if we’re being sensible,” Jacques said. He leaned in, but pulled away before either of them could steal a kiss.

“Aw!” Jenni grinned despite her involuntary protest.

Jacques widened his eyes at her. “What? You’re right. We should take a break and go eat. Calories are useful things.”

Jenni sighed and rolled her eyes dramatically heavenward. “It’s such a burden, being right. But, yes. Let’s do that.”

“Sounds good,” Jacques said, and leaned in again. He did steal a kiss this time, moving away before she’d caught up enough to kiss him back, and began to walk toward the door. “Coming?” he added over his shoulder, with exactly the sort of provocative smile Jenni expected.

“You!” She darted after him and playfully swatted his rear when she caught up. “You don’t get to pull that one on me now that I can follow you out the door!” She seized his hand and held tight.

Jacques laughed and wrapped his fingers around hers. “Good. I like teasing you, but this sounds more fun.”

“We agree, then,” said Jenni. She pushed the elevator’s call button, but headed off the impending set of worrisome clichés by reaching up to stroke Jacques’ hair and draw him into a proper kiss before the elevator could arrive.

“Impatient,” Jacques accused when his mouth was free. His arms had wrapped firmly around her waist again.

“Logical: passing the wait time,” she corrected him cheerfully. “And fearful of the Narrative Laws, as is good and proper. No stupid, overplayed elevator tropes, hm?”

Jacques wrinkled his nose. “Considering I’m pretty sure I’d wind up remembering Ana Steele’s descriptions of her elevator scenes if we went for it . . . yeah, not today.”

As if it approved of their decision, the elevator went [DING!] and opened up. Like most technology that originated from Headquarters, there was a chance it had gained a degree of sapience, so it might have been true.

“Don’t worry,” Jenni told it. “I’m sure we can behave for one minute if we put our minds to it.”

“Just this once,” Jacques agreed with a wink, and gestured theatrically for Jenni to precede him into the elevator.

Part 4: Simple Melody

Back in the bar lounge, they cast around and found seats catercorner to each other at one of the square, glass-topped dining tables. If pressed, Jacques might admit to it being a silly need for two people of their age and experience, but being out of easy touch range, let alone with a whole table between them, still seemed a bridge too far right now. Even as they perused the menu, their knees leaned comfortably together. Jacques shifted the first time he tilted his head closer to Jenni’s while pointing out an option that looked good, but ultimately left his leg where it was.

“Well,” Jacques said lightly, once they’d placed their orders and handed over the menu card. He smiled at Jenni, an easily affectionate curl of lips. “I think we’ve answered the question about whether or not I dance pretty thoroughly. Anything else you want to clear up, while we’re at it?”

“Hmm.” Jenni cast her eyes upward in thought. “Nothing especially pressing.” She looked at him again. “Tell you what: I got my clarifying question. How about you—is there anything you’ve wanted to ask me?”

Jacques hesitated, tapping his fingers on the lacquered tabletop. “Not . . . exactly,” he said at last. “Not a question, at least.”

Jenni blinked. “Oh?”

“Maybe a bit of a confession,” Jacques said. He didn’t love how much of a gamble it felt to admit to this, but in the interest of open communication and not making trouble for himself in the future, it should be said. “We were just talking about Agent Suicide, right? I . . . actually got curious after you mentioned there’s someone else in the picture for you.”

Jenni’s expression remained one of neutral interest. “And?”

“I asked some questions—very discreet ones, I promise—and then unexpectedly saw him in Rudi’s,” Jacques said, watching her face carefully. “Didn’t talk to him, though.” He smiled faintly. “I’m not that into crossing lines.”

“I see.” Jenni picked up her water glass and took a sip, not quite masking her brief frown. “You could have asked me about Su earlier,” she went on mildly. “I’d have told you, if I knew you wanted to know.”

“We were just a message or two in,” Jacques said, a bit apologetically. “It, ah, really didn’t seem like the right time to ask—especially since I wasn’t sure yet if you were going to respond, much less keep responding. Once we did get into the realm of more serious conversations, I was already thinking it should be a talk we had in person.”

Jenni took his reasoning on board with a slow nod. “Okay. I guess that’s fair.” She sighed, loosening her shoulders, and smiled. “So . . . Su, then. What exactly were you trying to find out?”

“Oh, you know, the usual,” Jacques said, relaxing in mirror image. “Who he is, what he looks like, what kind of person he is.”

“Mm-hm?” Jenni put one elbow on the table and leaned her chin against her palm, watching him.

“Mm,” Jacques said. The corner of his mouth tipped up at the memory. “It was . . . an experience. Probably much less of one than if I’d talked to him, but still an experience.”

Jenni’s smile widened another tick. “Do elaborate. This should be interesting.”

Jacques shook his head and went for broke with an incredulous chuckle. “How the hell did you two end up together? He wasn’t even remotely what I expected, apart from maybe one or two things.”

Jenni snorted and laughed. “Oh yeah? Such as what?”

“Well, he’s a soldier,” Jacques said. “I could tell that just by looking at him, and I bet plenty of other people can, too. And he seems like he could sometimes be complicated enough to catch your interest. But other than that . . .” He shook his head. “He just isn’t what I expected you to be into.” Especially with a baseline of . . . mostly just me, at that point. And that’s rarely too reliable.

“Ah, it doesn’t get old.” Jenni paused for another sip of water. “You should’ve seen the looks on my coworkers’ faces when they found out—rather, when we went and rubbed their faces in it, because they were being brats.” After another chuckle, she added, “Fact worth knowing: I’m into people. And you’re not wrong about the rest.”

“Oh, I understand being into people,” Jacques said, grinning. It was so nice, finding unusual interests in common with a new person. Especially this one. “I understand that very well. I hadn’t realized it applied to you, but now that I do . . .” He nodded to himself. “Yeah, all right, I get it a bit better. He’s got a lot going for him, if you pay a bit more attention than the initial startled stare really allows for.”

“So, you startled, then you stared?” Jenni grinned back. “Can’t blame you, of course. Do you think he noticed?”

“Probably,” Jacques admitted. “The woman he was sitting with certainly did.”

“Most likely Diocletian, his partner. She doesn’t miss much,” Jenni said. “Brown hair, sharp look, bit like a suspicious chipmunk?” She said this with nothing but affection.

Jacques chuckled, noting yet another mildly odd HQ name to himself. You never really knew what you were going to run into next; he’d already encountered everything from “Riboflavin” to “The Fisherman,” but the novelty still had yet to wear off. “Yeah, that sounds about right. I looked away when she spotted me, anyway, but there’s a good chance she told him, especially if they’re partners. And he definitely looked at me when I walked by on my way out, though that could be a coincidence.”

Jenni shrugged. “I’m not worried about it. If he’d gotten the idea you were looking for trouble, you’d have known.”

Jacques grinned. “As fun as that sounds, I’m pretty sure it was obvious I wasn’t looking for trouble.”

Any sort of trouble,” Jenni amended, teasing. “Su lived most of his life with the Spartans, if you catch my drift.”

Jacques shook his head after flicking briefly back through some very old memories. “Never quite made it to Sparta. Probably my loss, though.” He tapped a finger against his water glass, mentally sorting the pieces he’d been given so far. “So, he’s the direct sort in multiple areas, then?”

“Oh, very. It’s refreshing most of the time.” Jenni’s eyes flicked away, then back. “But you’re right that there’s a complexity to him you wouldn’t necessarily expect, too.” Her smile grew fond. “He’s a soft touch with animals, for one thing.”

Not bad. “That’s a good quality in anyone, but especially in a soldier who looks like he could take down the wrong kind of trouble pretty quickly. The contrast, you know?”

“True,” said Jenni.

She might have gone on, but their waiter, a wavy-haired French-Caledonian who had introduced himself as Luc, picked that moment to return with their food. “Here you go, folks. Enjoy!”

Jacques turned a smile on him, bright and lightly appreciative. “Thanks, Luc.”

Luc told them to let him know if they needed anything else, then went away again to see to another table’s request.

The food looked good, and tasted a little better, which boded well for future visits. Jacques soon realized, however, that he was trying it out of obligation rather than genuine enthusiasm: it was hard to ignore the old urge to take responsibility for any food he bought, and eat it or find a way to store it for later. All the same, it took only a few bites past the initial taste test for him to realize that he was far more interested in resuming the conversation than in eating his meal like a sensible person should. After all, his food just tasted all right; Jenni, on the other hand, kept revealing new wittiness and traits they had in common.

He noticed that she’d also taken to eating like a chore, passing bites methodically from her plate to her mouth with little evidence of enjoyment. After the latest, she caught him watching and regarded him in return with a speculative, playful expression. “Do you still want to know how we got together—Su and I? It’s a good story.”

Jacques smiled, pleased to set aside the pretense that he was more interested in eating than in returning to their conversation for a time. “Sure. Tell me the tale of your romance.”

She set down her fork and grinned. “The first time we met, he literally swooned into my arms, if you can picture that.”

Jacques laughed aloud. “No kidding? Hard to picture for the big, tough warrior type, but I’m certainly giving it a good effort.” He shook his head. “He’s pretty tall, too, isn’t he? Just for my accurate mental image, you understand.”

Jenni nodded and raised a hand over her head. “Almost a foot taller than me.”

Jacques whistled. “That’s a good mental image.”

“Isn’t it?” Jenni said cheerily. “I’ll add to it. This was in the lobby of FicPsych. I happened to be on shift at the front desk when Su, Dio, and a couple of my friends from the DIC portaled in with some canons to drop off. They’d just wrapped up a rough mission, and all of them were a bit banged up, but Su had been thrown head-first into a tree by an angry wraith and gotten himself concussed.” She rolled her eyes in exaggerated frustration, as if to say, some people; what can you do?

“You know,” Jacques drawled, “I don’t actually know the guy, but I’m still not too surprised by that.”

Jenni hummed in agreement. “Between the scars, the crooked nose, and the cauliflower ear, I suppose he might give the impression of being a bit disaster-prone.”

“Just a little bit,” Jacques said, holding up a hand with thumb and forefinger spaced a bare inch apart for emphasis.

Jenni chuckled. “So, he lost a fight with gravity, and I was there to catch. Not that I could actually hold him up, of course. We both ended up on the floor, and he lost no time in hitting on me.”

“Quite right, too,” Jacques interjected, leaning forward a little with a charming smile.

Jenni grinned and tipped her head in thanks. “It’s tough to say no to those big, brown eyes of his, but since they were unevenly dilated at the time, I told him to try me again when he could see straight—and that’s what happened. Well, more or less. I put him up in FicPsych rather than try to move him to Medical, and, like you, he wasn’t big on waiting to keep coming on to me. Unfortunately, as you know, I am a paragon of restraint in the workplace.” She gave a self-deprecating smile.

“It’s an attractive quality, even if you’re right about it being unfortunate,” Jacques told her, with perfect honesty. “So, did he have to wait two weeks, too, or was he luckier?”

Jenni tilted one hand side to side, so-so. “Maybe a bit luckier, depending on how you look at it? He had about a week of bedrest—which we had to physically enforce—and then another few days with a mission in them.”

“So not too much better, but different,” Jacques said. A particular smile curved his mouth. “So, how’d that first date go?”

Jenni mirrored him, knowing and gently teasing at once. “Also different. We were both making an effort to do the thing properly, since it was kind of new territory all around and there were nerves, so we met up at the Bleepka Bar and had drinks, like normal people.” She laughed. “I think that lasted about forty-five minutes, too.”

“Oh, so we do have more in common, then,” Jacques said, grinning at the confirmation. “I wondered.”

Jenni nodded thoughtfully. “Maybe. Su is, uh . . .” She broke off with a wry chuckle and shook her head. “Well, suffice to say he lives in the moment. And that works for me better than ‘normal’ does. It’s nice not having to worry so much about crossing a line when the mood strikes.” Her gaze rested on him, steady and appreciative, and she took his hand under the table.

Jacques smiled at her, letting it be almost as warm as he felt just then. “It’s nice not to have to pretend to be normal, even if you sometimes like to play at it a little.”

“More than a little,” Jenni said seriously. After a moment’s hesitation, she added, “Su doesn’t know everything about me. I’d like it to stay that way. Me being psychic came up, and his tinfoil hat comment was enough to tell me I should leave it at that.”

“I’m sorry that’s the case,” Jacques said, and squeezed her hand. As difficult as it now was to sort out what were Jack’s memories and what could be truly considered his, he certainly remembered a moment or two where he’d realized he actually really appreciated Ianto knowing about Torchwood . . . or, in a regrettably more platonic context, Gwen being the first person in quite a while to actually know that he couldn’t die. You didn’t realize how valuable that sort of freedom was until you suddenly had it again.

“I didn’t mean for you to be sorry.” Jenni squeezed back and gave him a smile. “That’s about how it usually goes. I get it—especially around here, people have good reason to be nervous around that sort of thing.”

“Doesn’t make it any easier to be involved with someone who’s frightened of a part of you,” Jacques said, though he returned the smile briefly.

Jenni’s answering chuckle had a bit of an edge to it. “Fortunately for me, being direct and in the moment means Su isn’t the kind of man to let a little thing like fear get between him and what he wants. He likes living dangerously.”

“Well, with a name like that,” Jacques said, smiling wryly. PPC naming conventions were very . . . informative, sometimes.

Jenni’s expression flickered with a grimace, and Jacques suddenly realized that he hadn’t once heard her use Suicide’s full name. Perhaps it wasn’t a matter of familiarity.

“I’m glad it hasn’t been a huge issue for you two, at least,” he continued, doing his best to look as though he hadn’t noticed. Still, he’d keep an eye out now. He didn’t want to keep hitting sore spots.

She shook her head in agreement, smiling again. To Jacques’ relief, it seemed genuine. “We’ve been about two years as an off-and-on thing, and it doesn’t come up much. It’s really okay.”

“Glad to hear it,” Jacques said, squeezing her hand again briefly. “Seriously, that’s great. I’m sorry it’s part of your relationship at all, but this sounds like it’s probably the best way it could go with that in the mix. You’re lucky.”

Warmly, she said, “I am.” Then, with a thoughtful frown, she tilted her head at him. “It sounds like you’ve been less lucky?”

Jacques hesitated for a moment, then shrugged one shoulder. Why not. “The average person who finds out you can come back from the dead . . . once they believe you at all, there’s still really no telling which way they’ll jump, even if you know them well.”

Jenni nodded in sympathy. Suddenly, she sat up straighter, her brow knitting: trouble. “Wait a minute. I’d heard—and you said—you can’t die. That’s different from not staying dead.”

Jacques blinked at her—but then, hadn’t he known from the first day that she didn’t know much about Jack? This probably shouldn’t be so much of a surprise after all. “There’s . . . a bit of a difference between the reality and how I’m used to talking about it, yeah.” The corner of his mouth tipped up without much humor attached. “It’d be more accurate to tell you that I can’t die permanently.”

Jenni stared down, right through her mostly full plate of food. “So, then . . .” When she looked up again, her features had settled into a passive, open expression that Jacques eyed with banked suspicion. “I don’t want to push, but—under the heading of ‘I really hope I don’t need this information, but’—it might be good to know how the whole ‘coming back’ thing works for you.”

“I die about as easily as the average human,” Jacques told her, after barely a moment’s hesitation. It wasn’t worth hiding something that everyone in HQ had the means to know. He watched her as he talked, though, not wanting to miss her reactions at exactly the right moment to horrify her. “Well, the average fifty-first century human with my physique and training, anyway. I’m also resistant to some things, to a point. Where the real difference comes in is what happens next.”

He paused for a moment, setting the words in order before he spoke them and resting his free arm on the table to lean on. “I always come back, Jenni. From anything and everything. There’s literally nothing that can keep me down forever. It might take a few minutes, or sometimes a bit longer—longest so far was a full week, I think—but I’ll always come back. That’s how this works for me.”

Jenni had kept what Jacques was coming to recognize as her game-face on: attentive, but keeping her opinions to herself until the full picture came into focus. “Whole?” she asked now. “I mean, how much of the process are you conscious for?”

“It varies,” Jacques admitted. “I heal faster than most people in general, though, and even faster when I’ve just come back. The most lasting part is usually more of a phantom pain, of sorts. You know—headaches if I’ve been shot, feeling cold if I’ve bled out, that sort of thing. I’m usually able to be up and moving within seconds of coming back, though.” It was stretching the truth a little, perhaps, and softening still more of it, but he wasn’t exactly lying. Some minor deflection, maybe, a touch of smoke and mirrors to minimize the horror a bit.

He’d only had this conversation twice since joining the PPC, as most people with whom it came up at all were already familiar with Jack’s story. Between that and remembered conversations from his old life, his explanations at least emerged reasonably smoothly. It wasn’t the first time he’d had to put it all into words.

This was definitely the only time he’d done it on a first date, though. Most people in a position to be given that information so early had already known how it worked––largely because they’d seen it happen, or had a colleague brief them upon joining Torchwood.

Jenni, however, had come into this conversation knowing just enough to be . . . he still wasn’t sure what. Curious? Concerned? If she was alarmed, she hid it well, only nodding slowly along with his words; still, as she replied, her voice took on a leaden quality.

“So, you’re killed. You’re gone. Your body recovers, mostly; enough to revive. And you remember what happened.” Laying out the details in her own words must have brought home the horror for Jenni; her gaze left his face, his eyes apparently too difficult to keep meeting. “That’s . . .” A dark chuckle stood in for whatever she was thinking. “I’d never have put you in ESAS, I’ll say that much. There are things people aren’t meant to go through once, let alone repeatedly.” Her hand clenched tightly around his.

She was alarmed, but for him, Jacques realized with a sudden wave of relief—not by him. Coming from someone who’d known him such a short time, it was unusual. She wasn’t Ianto; he’d already been a little bit in love with Jack when he’d found out. Dear Ianto. She wasn’t Martha, either; Martha had already seen so many strange things while traveling with the Doctor that one more hadn’t fazed her too much, after the initial shock.

But Jenni was a nurse, one who worked in a multiversal organization and had been around long enough to have seen some things, besides. Maybe it did make sense.

Jacques returned the pressure, leaning closer to her. “I don’t exactly mind being able to use my skills, you know. Not—” He waved his free hand, trying to indicate that one skill where I come back to life a lot and forcefully brushing away the accompanying memories like heaps of sawdust from a workbench. “But, you know, I have a lot of other skills as well. I don’t think I’d get to use them as much, go all out in the same way, in another department. I’m all right with being an ESAS agent, Jenni. Really.”

“Okay, but—it’s just—” She stopped, sighed, and ran her free hand over her face. After a moment, she looked up again, seeming more composed. “Sorry. I don’t mean to knock your skills, or your toughness, or anything like that.”

Jacques chuckled, relaxing a little. “I’m not that attached to seeming macho. Even if you’d been aiming for my ego, it can take a few hits.”

One corner of Jenni’s mouth tipped up in response. “You’re right, it’s not your ego I want to have a go at. I often find I have sharp philosophical disagreements with Our Floral Overlords, that’s all.”

Jacques smiled back at her, attempting encouragement. “Do you have them in person? Should I be picturing you tearing a giant daisy to shreds with your words?”

Jenni snorted softly. “Only in my dreams, I’m afraid. I’ve written some strongly worded recommendations, and I like to think they’ve helped sometimes, but . . .” She shrugged one shoulder. “Mostly, all I can do is damage control.”

“Sometimes, that’s enough,” Jacques pointed out, lowering his free hand to gently cup their clasped ones. “At least you can do that much—at least you want to do it. Plenty of people wouldn’t jump in that direction.”

“Somebody has to,” Jenni said fervently. In an abrupt reversal, she cracked a smile. “If everyone jumped the same way, the world might tip over.”

Jacques laughed. “If they were all jumping a good way, I might be fine with that. Especially if it was consistent. I’ve known far too many people who claimed to be fine with the immortality and then . . . weren’t.”

“Hm.” Jenni’s smile faded to something gentler. “For what it’s worth, you won’t get that from me. Lots of people are immortal.” She winked. “But I’d wager that the upsetting thing was not the ‘being around forever’ one, per se. It would be hard for most people to actually see someone they care about suffer death and then get up again. Maybe not as hard as being the one going through it, but still.” She brought up his hand and pressed it against her lips, eyes sliding momentarily closed.

Jacques watched her for a long few seconds, his eyebrows drawing together slightly. He didn’t object to the touch; so long as the person doing it didn’t set his teeth on edge, he generally welcomed it. He did want to steer her away from whatever she was thinking. They weren’t exactly avoiding heavier topics, which was certainly a choice for a first date, but this was still a step further than anything he wanted her to dwell on today.

“Well,” he said, drawing out the word. Their joined hands came to rest on the table; he smoothed his thumb over her knuckles, hoping to distract or soothe. “I’m sure that’s true in some cases. Not all, though. I’ve had more than a few fellow Torchwood agents claim not to really care I could come back from the dead right up until they witnessed it, and then it was all avoidance, or wide eyes and skittishness, or wondering if I’m a sign of the Second Coming—or maybe a mockery of it—” He sighed. Not helping. Stop already. “It never really went away completely, either, with those ones.” He shook his head. “Look, in my experience, once in a while I get really lucky. The rest of the time I hide it or don’t get far enough for it to really matter.”

Jenni nodded like she understood something of what he’d said personally. “People fear what they don’t understand. I’m sorry you’ve been on the pointy end of it.”

Jacques grimaced. “It’s a bad deal all around, except for the part where it has its uses. On the other hand, having someone there when you wake up . . . that isn’t so bad.” If you can stave off the guilt. “Well, depending on the person, anyway. I’d take, say, Ianto Jones over . . . well, you wouldn’t know her, but I remember working with a Frances Cole who’d wait with me, sure, but she’d do it from a foot or two away and only stop praying for my soul to come back to rest properly after I’d been awake a full minute. It was better than ‘oh, you’ve come back, then. Help us budge this crate, will you?’, but rather . . . inconvenient.”

He shook his head, caught up in the memory now. Even better, he had a feeling that, for once, it wasn’t one of Jack’s. “I tried to tell her I’d been coming back perfectly fine on my own for decades, but she never stopped. I probably wouldn’t have been annoyed by it if she’d ever tried to be friendly outside of that, but she didn’t, so . . . it came off as her doing some sort of duty for someone she cared as much about as any stranger on the street.”

He thought of something else, and snorted, letting his mouth keep running as he chased down the fragments. “Mind you, I did try suggesting to her that, hypothetically, I might not even be Christian, let alone Anglican. She said it wouldn’t make a difference, so I left it at the hypothetical. Good shot, though,” he added. “And she was great for getting through to, oh, just about any more conservative citizens we had to talk to. Anyone who wasn’t determined to embrace modernity had a good chance of trusting her. She gave off these kind of . . . dependable vibes, as far as I could tell.”

“Dependable is good,” Jenni said distantly. She’d settled into a worried sort of smile as he’d rambled; it reminded Jacques slightly of how she’d waited him out when he’d told her about drinking with one of the Trees of Cheem, back when they hadn’t yet flirted their way out of a professional relationship. “Listen . . . not to invite trouble, but if you do get into some, if it helps to have someone around . . . ?”

Jacques waved this off. The last thing he wanted was to lay that kind of responsibility on Jenni, especially all of two weeks in. (He didn’t want to lay it on anyone, if it came down to it.) “It’s nice, I guess, but you’re not a field agent. Besides, it’s not like I go looking for people to sit around waiting for me to wake up. If I happen to have someone there, great; if I don’t, it’s not a big deal. Really.”

After a moment’s hesitation, Jenni nodded. “Okay. And, I mean, obviously I’d rather you don’t get hurt at all,” she said with some force. “I just want you to know I don’t spook easily. I’ve seen a lot.”

“I’m sure you have,” Jacques said, and smiled briefly. “You don’t have to see this, though, and I don’t need you to, either. Don’t worry about it.”

Jenni tucked her chin down and said wryly, “That’s asking the impossible. Best you know that, too.”

“Is there a way to get you to worry about it less, then?” Jacques asked, leaning forward and reaching for her other hand. It seemed like knowledge he might want for the future.

Jenni gently squeezed his fingers. “Let’s both try not to think about it.” She shook her head, perhaps in aid of doing just that. “I meant in general, though—and I told Su something similar the first morning, too, by the way. Birds fly, fish swim, and I care about people.”

Jacques smiled. “It’s a fact of the universe?”

Jenni smiled back. “Exactly. You catch on quick.”

“I’m a fast learner,” Jacques said. “Always have been.”

Jenni nodded in approval. “You have to be, around here. There’s a learning curve no matter where you come from or how much you think you know.” She glanced aside and back with an apologetic half-smile. “Normal twenty-first century dating etiquette, for instance. I’m pretty sure you’re supposed to avoid grim topics on a first date, but I can’t seem to help wading right in.”

Jacques grinned, quick and flashing. “Grim topics aside, I’m really not much of one for twenty-first century dating etiquette to begin with. It all seems . . . really old-fashioned, for the most part, unless I start comparing it to nineteenth or twentieth century dating etiquette. Then it starts feeling more modern in places.”

“See,” Jenni said, “I’ve lived in too many places—times—whichever—where ‘dating’ wasn’t even a concept. Formal courtship, maybe, but only for people high-class enough to be concerned about it. I can’t say I never worked my way into a higher class, but . . .” She stopped with a shrug. “Point being, this is all newfangled to me. With nothing very serious for quite a few years before Su, too.”

“I didn’t really do much ‘dating’—or an equivalent—when I first got stranded,” Jacques said. “Or before, actually. It took me a while to get to anything remotely serious, and even that never got off the ground properly.” He smiled faintly, tucking away remembered bafflement (and, if he was honest, jealousy) at seeing how far Ianto and Jack had gone. He was on a date, a good one, and Ianto was very far out of his reach. Focus on Jenni. “So, did it take you a while to adjust? Once you and . . . Su started up?”

Jenni took a sip of water while she thought about it. “Not compared to the adjustment of being in the PPC . . . but really, bringing someone new into your life always is one, isn’t it? Learning each other’s interests, needs, and boundaries; learning how to accommodate them . . . yeah. It’s an ongoing adjustment. It makes life interesting.” She smiled.

Jacques nodded slowly. “Yeah, I guess it does. But you have to be in the right frame of—” He broke off, shaking his head. “Well, obviously you are. Anyway, I guess you’re mostly adjusted by now?”

“Mostly.” She held her curious gaze on him a little longer than was comfortable. “That’s assuming we’re talking about the same thing, and I’m not sure we are.”

Jacques shrugged. “Let’s fix that, then. What are you talking about?”

“Having someone in my life romantically. I mean, sort of—Su’s not the flowers and chocolates type, which is fine, because I don’t need vapid Hallmark gestures to know where I stand. And I know some people—all right, everyone—might think Su in particular would require extra getting used to.” She tilted her head. “And you?”

“Letting people in,” Jacques said after a moment. “Letting them get close to you—letting yourself get close to them. Being able to accept that you’ll be doing it again, and again, and again, no matter how long each time lasts. You need a certain mindset to manage it.”

Jenni sat very still. “That’s true,” she said softly.

Jacques nodded. “It’s an . . . interesting lesson to learn. Definitely worth the process, though.” Eventually. After much too much . . . difficulty.

“It is,” Jenni said. “Love is always worth it. You can’t stop it; you shouldn’t try.”

“It doesn’t really work, no,” Jacques agreed. “Keeping anything from coming of it—that’s more doable, but I wouldn’t call it a good thing even when it’s the right decision.”

Jenni shook her head. “If it’s a one-sided thing . . . if there are other reasons to keep it to yourself . . . sometimes that’s the way it has to be. I’ve been there plenty of times. More often than not, I’d say. You get used to it, and if it’s really for the best it helps, but . . .”

“Yeah,” Jacques said, and then, “Well, no. It doesn’t help, not always. Not when everyone involved knows there’d have to be a change that just can’t be made for it to work out. Like I said—even knowing it’s the right decision doesn’t usually make it a good thing.”

After a moment’s hesitation, Jenni said, “You’re talking about something specific. Can I ask what?”

Jacques looked at her for a long moment before he spoke. “You were born immortal, right? Created that way? I mean, you always knew that’s what you were?”

She nodded.

“I didn’t,” Jacques said, more flatly than he’d intended. “I thought I’d be lucky to reach two hundred—hell, that would’ve been miraculous. I’d’ve been shocked to reach a hundred-fifty, with the life I led. And then I got stuck in the past—and then I found out that I wasn’t staying dead, and I wasn’t aging. Now, I like my face, and I’m happy enough to keep it, but suddenly finding the entire course of my life just . . . wasn’t? It . . .” Terrified me, but the words wouldn’t leave his mouth easily. “. . . was an adjustment. A hard one. Took me a while to really understand, let alone come to terms with.”

“One thing or the other would be tough enough on its own,” Jenni agreed. “Realizing something you thought was fundamentally true about yourself wasn’t, and having to deal with that in an unfamiliar place—?” She stopped abruptly and looked down. “I can imagine.”

“I handled it very poorly,” Jacques said quietly. “Extremely poorly. Which meant I ended up in the position of loving someone who loved me back, and both of us knowing that it wouldn’t be fair to try something serious if I couldn’t change my habits—and I couldn’t, Jenni. I tried to, but I just couldn’t manage it.”

Jenni freed one of her hands from his and squeezed his shoulder.

Jacques looked up at her briefly, then away. It was something about this new life of his, something he couldn’t seem to get around consistently: bringing up a memory for the first time since arriving in HQ could feel so vivid. “She was smart—she gave me a chance, then moved on and found someone, uh, stable.” Someone who could hold down a steady job, and didn’t need more support than he could give. “He was a good guy. Solid. They were happy together, from what I know.”

“That’s good,” Jenni said. “But you—you stayed miserable.” She stroked his cheek with the back of one finger.

“Not forever,” Jacques pointed out. He lifted his head to smile at her, forcing down the memories. It had been over a century. “I certainly haven’t been miserable here.”

She smiled back tolerantly. “No, I realize you must have figured some things out between then and now.” She sighed. “When it’s right to love—to act on it, I mean, to really engage with it, when you know how it’s going to end . . .” Now she was the one to look away. Her hand retreated from his shoulder.

Jacques caught it before she could retreat too far, and squeezed before lowering their joined hands back to the table.

Jenni looked at him for a long, pensive moment before relaxing again. “The point is . . . you just have to live in each moment as it comes, don’t you? The moment is everything.”

“Mm,” Jacques said. “You can’t get too caught up in thinking ahead, anyway—not so much it paralyzes you. It doesn’t work not to address it, though. Oh, it’s fine for a while, but eventually it just raises questions and creates problems—” He shook his head. “It’s a fact. Ignoring it just leaves everyone unprepared, I think.”

Jenni took a slow, deep breath. “I think . . . it’s different for me. I can hide, play the part of ‘normal’ so well you’d never know. That’s how I’ve done it, almost always. But you can’t.” She tilted her head, making the statement a gentle query.

“No,” Jacques said slowly, “I can’t. I don’t age, not quickly enough for anyone to notice. I’ve pretended to be my own son, a couple times; that works reasonably well.”

Jenni nodded. “At least you don’t have to worry about that anymore. Not here.” She smiled for him.

Jacques’ responding smile was small. “No, I won’t ever have to fake being my own son or grandson here. The rest, though—unless everyone here is secretly as long-lived as you are, everything else could still be an issue at some point.”

“The part where nothing around you is permanent? Yeah,” she grudgingly agreed. “I don’t think about it much, but I’ve had a lot of practice. I try to look forward to what new things will come.”

Jacques sighed. “Me, I’m still getting used to not leading a team. It’s freeing, but—kind of a hard habit to fully break. Looking around, knowing no one’s permanent but I’m not responsible for them in any way . . . it’s . . .” He shook his head, and raised her hand to his lips.

“You’re at loose ends? Not sure how you fit in yet?”

Jacques shrugged and turned her hand over to kiss her palm. “It’s an adjustment. Been a while since I was only really responsible for myself. Over a century, I’d say.”

Jenni chuckled. “That word again—adjustment. And there’s one I could never make. I’m an inveterate meddler, you can ask anyone.”

Jacques looked up at her through his eyelashes. “Does that mean I can look forward to continuous meddling in the future?”

“Oh yes. Non-stop.” Her smile turned more playful. “Really, if you ever find you don’t know what to do with yourself, just call me. I can always think of something.”

Jacques smiled back. “Creative people are the best.”

“I’ll take that compliment, thanks.”

“You should,” Jacques said. He grinned at her. “You’re beautifully, wonderfully creative. Really, it’s impressive.”

Jenni laughed and shook her head. “And you have a silver tongue. You’re laying it on a little thick now, but I don’t mind.” She lightly touched two fingers to the side of his chin and tilted her head in invitation.

“Good,” Jacques said. “It’s been a long time since anyone accused me of being subtle.” He leaned over to kiss her, his near arm wrapping around her shoulders.

Jenni shifted closer on her chair, easing the angle, and they lingered in the kiss. One good thing about a nightclub was that everyone tended to be about a certain type of business, and didn’t mind other people going about it, too. There was no need to protect anyone’s sense of modesty at the expense of stifling this feeling of inarticulate yearning.

Jacques’ eventual words echoed his thoughts. “I like this,” he murmured. “It’s . . .” He shook his head, unwilling to say that kissing someone, even someone as great as Jenni, felt like coming home. That was ridiculous and sappy and completely inappropriate. “It’s very nice,” he settled on instead, and kissed her again before the lameness of the sentence could set in properly.

Fortunately, Jenni didn’t seem inclined to criticize. She laced her fingers with his over the table and ran her other hand up and down his back in firm, steady strokes to express her agreement. “I like you,” she told him. “You’re very nice.”

Jacques chuckled. “I haven’t heard that much recently, either. I could probably get used to it, though.”

“Keep on as you’ve been going, and I’ll be happy to see to that. You’re . . . It’s like we’re . . .” Jenni shook her head at herself. “Well, you’ve got me twitterpated, that’s for sure.”

Jacques grinned. “Hey, turnabout is fair play—you certainly had me feeling scrambled earlier. I like the sound of ‘twitterpated,’ though.” He leaned toward her again, only to pause and add, “You know, I used to hear that word a lot more. It went out of style at some point, though I couldn’t tell you exactly when.”

“Hmm. Remind me when you landed?”

“I got, uh, lucky and showed up in the Victorian Era,” Jacques said. “Eighteen sixty-nine.”

Jenni nodded thoughtfully, playing with the hair at the nape of his neck. “You lived through some interesting times. My knowledge of it all is very general and mostly indirect, as pertaining to the fictional multiverse, I’m afraid.”

Jacques shrugged. “You might be better off. There were definitely interesting parts, and good parts, but . . . let’s just say they weren’t the best fit for me, and might not have been for you, either.”

“You’re right about that.” Jenni smiled. “The places I’ve spent the longest in have tended to be pre-industrial. The stretches between that and around about a Star Trek level of advancement are the most challenging a lot of the time, and not in the fun problem-solving way. More in the ‘restrictive social codes’ and ‘general intolerance’ sort of way.”

“Unfortunately, yeah,” Jacques said. He looked around, and laughed, before leaning in to say in a confidential tone, “I think our food’s congealed.”

Jenni followed his glance and shook her head with a soft laugh. “Whoops?”

“Too invested in the conversation, I guess.” He winked.

“You were telling me some fairly important stuff,” Jenni said. “And I certainly don’t mind giving you my complete attention. These things happen.” She gave her signature half-smile.

Jacques smiled back. “I like having your complete attention.”

“Oh, good. That works out, then.” With a cheerful air of going with the flow, Jenni leaned over to kiss him some more.

Jacques kissed back with a pleased hum. For his part, he couldn’t have cared less about dinner just then. If they got hungry enough to care, they’d eat; simple.

In the meantime, with the token attempt at level-headed, sensible behavior a bust, they compensated the club and wandered back out into the city. It was winter, if a highly agreeable tropical winter, so the sun was starting to get low in the sky. Heading back to HQ seemed reasonable enough.

They took a meandering path that led them past the playhouse (which doubled as a movie theater) and through the Square. The bubble tea place they had discussed earlier was on the western side, and it made a nice stop-off for hydration and easier calories.

When they made it back to the Door, Jenni stopped and turned southwest. She smiled. “Ah, good timing. Look.”

Jacques turned, and was immediately glad he had. “Oh, that’s nice.” There was nothing in all the universe like an ocean sunset: as always, something embedded in the core of him softened the longer he stood there, watching the gentle waves. Jenni leaned against him, and he wrapped an arm around her shoulders without glancing away from the view. “Look how it’s reflecting—the water’s all over orange and red ripples.”

“It’s beautiful,” Jenni agreed. “You can tell how clear the water is inside the reefs.”

Jacques sighed quietly. “Yeah. I can’t wait to get out there.”

“We’ll go dancing on the shore sometime. Promise. I’d really like that.”

“So would I,” Jacques said. “Although my mission schedule might attempt sabotage,” he added with a wryly amused twist to his mouth. “We’ll see.”

“There’s always a fighting chance; can’t ask for more than that,” Jenni said. “Start looking for extra luck and the Ironic Overpower starts looking for a target. And today has already been better than I imagined.”

Jacques finally looked at her, smiling. “Yeah? I’ve exceeded your expectations?”

Jenni chuckled and smiled back at him. “I knew we’d have a good time. Beyond that, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I think I got to see a little bit of who you are when you’re at home, and I like that guy. I still want to get to know him better.”

Jacques leaned in, eyes sparkling. “You know what? I have a hunch you’ll get that chance.”

Authors’ Notes

To clarify a few things that may need clarifying:

  1. 05.12.2021: This isn’t the whole story; there’s more to come. We decided to publish Part 1 on its own first because it’s in a different format from the rest and because we hope it will be easier to engage with the multimedia aspect in an 8,000-word piece than it would be in a 25,000-word piece. You don’t have to, but we think it’s more fun if you do. {= )
    • 01.01.2022: This still isn’t the whole story. We wanted to start 2022 on a good note, so we knuckled down to get Part 2 into a state fit to be seen. There are two more parts to come!
    • 02.14.2022: Happy Valentine’s Day! We hope you enjoyed Part 3. One more to go!
    • 10.04.2023: Here it is at last! The whole story, featuring all the components of a first date! J2 have dined, danced, and done the deed... just not in that order. Why should a pair of immortals do anything in the conventional way? ^_^
  2. The “Sandy and Danny” bit at the beginning is a series of references to the musical Grease. We’re not sure why Jacques decided to drop the name Sandy (and the associated Danny) in the first place, but then Jenni picked it up and ran with it, and it was a thing.
  3. In the “I Got Rhythm”/“Plenty O’ Nuttin’” message, the duet Jacques refers to is a mashup of “Singing in the Rain” and Rihanna’s “Umbrella.” It does in fact come from Glee, and can be seen here in all its umbrella-dancing-on-a-water-filled-stage glory.
  4. Persian endearments (found on a site delightfully called Chai and Conversation):
    1. nooré cheshm-am - “the light of my eyes”
    2. aziz-am - “my dear”
    3. ātashé del-am - “the fire of my heart”
  5. The “fair lady” Jenni refers to in Part 3 is the titular protagonist of the musical My Fair Lady. One of the songs is “Show Me.”
This website is © Neshomeh since 2004. This page’s content was last updated 10.04.2023.
The PPC belongs to Jay and Acacia and is used with permission.
The fanfiction parodied here belongs to its original writer and is quoted in accordance with Fair Use.