Diversions & Digressions | fanfiction by mara

A Lesson Finally Learned (The Repetitive Remix)

A Lesson Finally Learned (The Repetitive Remix)

by Mara

Summary: Jack Harkness can sometimes be a very slow learner.

Written for the 2008 Remix Challenge

Original Story: A Lesson Finally Learned by Xwingace

Spoilers: Minor spoilers for season 2, up to “Adam.”

Actions have consequences.

Mother, staring at Jack, had a frown he rarely saw aimed at him. “What did you think you were doing, taking Gray with you on the ride down the falls?”

Jack peered out of the corner of his eyes at his entirely unharmed brother and thought about shrugging, but for some reason his mother always got annoyed when he did that.

“I thought it would be fun,” he said finally.

The frown deepened. “I’ve warned you again and again about making that ride. You could both have been killed.”

Jack couldn’t help wrinkling his forehead. “But we weren’t.”

His mother sighed heavily and continued bandaging his leg.

Actions have consequences.

Mr. Auger, dean of mathematics, peered over his computer screen with a look of polite interest. “Might I ask what you were doing instead of studying for your fractal geometry exam?”

An image of climbing over rocks and dunes and laughing and Asok’s face very close to his.

“Ah,” Jack said, shuffling his feet. “Well, nothing really. I guess I thought I knew it better than I really did.” He smiled shyly, peering through his lashes to check the effect of his act. Normally he wouldn’t push it this far, but he just couldn’t get in trouble again so soon.

Mr. Auger sighed, but his expression softened. “Just try not to do it again. I know you youngsters always have something better to be doing, but someday you’ll be in the real world.”

Jack held back his triumphant grin.

Waving his hand, Mr. Auger pointed at the door. “Go. Do try to stay out of my office for a few weeks, please.”

Actions have consequences.

There was a war, Jack knew. But it was no more real than the stories his mother told him at bedtime when he was younger than Gray.

But then there was noise and running and screams and Gray’s hand in his and the beating of his heart, so loud that it almost drowned everything else out.

And then there was Father lying on the ground, blood already darkening on his chest, and the sounds of Mother’s wails.

Standing on a small ridge a year later, Jack looked critically at the group of young men and women arrayed in front of him. They could kill a lot of the enemy if they put their minds to it…and they would, if he had anything to say about it.

“You’ve all seen what the enemy brought to our world,” he said with no preamble. “You’ve seen what will happen if we sit back and do nothing. And we will die. So I say we take the fight to them! Take it to them and make them pay for what they did to us.”

The simple words, so heartfelt, so sincere, worked all too well.

Of the thirty-eight teenagers who followed the man who would become Jack Harkness into the hell of war…only seven survived, and three were so psychologically damaged they might never recover.

Actions have consequences.

Jack joined the Time Agency mostly out of surprise at still being alive. He didn’t *care* what the consequences of his actions were, but the Agency did, so he learned how to predict, how to prevent, and how to shape.

As a Time Agent, Jack watched civilizations rise and fall. He nudged and pushed and bribed and killed (when necessary) and laughed and cried and spied.

He figured, in fact, he’d learned every lesson he could possibly need in his life.

Jack grinned with transparent glee at his partner as they reappeared back at the Agency. “You think they’ll figure out that we changed everything back for the third time?”

John grinned back. “That bunch of wankers? Nah.”

“We probably shouldn’t have left the donkey, though.”

“But just imagine the look on their faces!”

John smacked Jack on the back as they strolled down the low-lit hallway toward their debriefing, and for a moment Jack had a memory, a memory of another friend and a battlefield…


“Hmm?” Jack looked at John.

“Coming? They won’t wait long before they come to get us. And I have some plans for after.”

“Yeah. I’m coming.” Jack shrugged, unsure what his subconscious was trying to tell him.

Actions have consequences.

“Are you my mummy?”

Jack swallowed, following the two strangers who’d appeared and made him face up to what he’d done.

This was *his* fault. These people with gas masks where their faces should be. This kid with the one phrase. He’d gone too far with this con and now people were dying.

The Doctor and Rose showed him that his mistakes could be fixed, that consequences don’t have to be final, and Jack embraced their life with gusto, an immediate convert.

Actions have consequences.

Riding on the back of the most phallic symbol he’d ever seen, the wind trying to blow him off it, Jack considered that he might just possibly have learned the lesson too late.

But even if this was his final act, Jack couldn’t find it in himself to regret it. If he died, he died knowing that just once he did the right thing.

As he hitched the bomb to his ship, his beloved Chula ship, Jack imagined everyone he ever let down, wished he could show them what he was doing, what he was willing to do.

Drink in hand, Jack prepared for the end.

All of which is why the sound of the TARDIS was simultaneously thrilling and startling and…a bit of a letdown.

Actions have consequences.

Jack learned a lot while traveling with the Doctor and Rose.

Leaving enemies alive means they can nearly kill you again and again and again. Traveling with the Doctor means never staying in one place for too long. Daleks are mean and conscienceless and utterly fucking insane.

Actions have consequences.

Jack opened his eyes, gasping once for breath before he realized he wasn’t in any pain. Automatically he patted himself, shocked to find all his limbs present and accounted for.

Slowly raising his head from the deck of Station 5, he looked around, bewildered. Then some instinct made him take off at a dead run for the 500th floor.

How he knew, he could never explain to himself, but the sound of the TARDIS dematerializing wasn’t precisely a shock. But it still made him double over, the feeling of loss like a gut punch.

Actions have consequences.

The Cyberman invasion wasn’t his fault. Jack knew that. He hadn’t been on the need-to-know list, out there in Cardiff guarding the Rift. The ghosts turning into evil monsters intent on cutting up humanity to further their race…he didn’t know about what Torchwood London was doing.

But as Jack helplessly shot at the creatures and their long-bladed machines, the knowledge that he did nothing wrong was a small comfort. If there’s one thing he learned from the Doctor, it’s that doing nothing is never a viable option.

It’s Owen, pacing him down a hallway, trying to find and free Cybermen captives, who saw the Dalek first. “Shit!”

For a long moment, Jack couldn’t move when faced with one of his worst nightmares…literally. It’s only Owen grabbing him by the wrist and bodily pulling him down a hallway before the thing turns that saved Jack from finding out if his immortality can handle total disintegration.

“What the fuck was that?” Owen yelped as they run down twisty corridors.

“More bad news.”

“I could have guessed that, mate. Care to give me a little more detail?”

“Did you ever get around to reading the files on Daleks?”

Owen tripped over his own feet. “We’ve got Daleks *and* Cybermen?”

“Yes.” Jack grabbed his arm and dashed down a hallway that looks likely to lead to the cafeteria, a possible location for large numbers of prisoners.



Actions have consequences.

Jack spent so long waiting to find the Doctor, that it’s a shock to find that the TARDIS is no longer home. It’s not just the Doctor’s regeneration, it’s that what the Doctor can give him is no longer what he needs.

He’ll always love the Doctor, but he now understands the love can never be reciprocated.

And besides, everything Jack has done…it’s changed him. He belongs in Cardiff. He belongs with his team. He belongs with Ianto.

There are things that only he can do, problems only he can solve, paradoxes only he can sort.

Actions have consequences.

Captain Jack Harkness is immortal, or the nearest thing to it. He’s going to do a lot of things over his lifetime–his actions will resonate through the centuries.

And Jack will live to face the consequences of his actions…whether he likes it or not.


Comment Pages

There are 2 Comments to "A Lesson Finally Learned (The Repetitive Remix)"

  • ladymordecai says:

    So, I did absolutely love this story, and how it takes being immortal for Jack to figure out the whole “consequences” thing (seriously, there are people I know who would *never* figure it out).

    I did also want to tell you that all the “read more” links on the Torchwood category page lead to “Hours of Visitors” instead of their intended fic. All the other links–at the top of the page, the comment link–work fine, so obviously the stories are still here, it’s just that the most obvious link doesn’t lead to them.

  • xwingace says:

    Dude, 2008 remix, yet I can’t remember reading this one. Did I miss it? If I did, I missed a great one. 🙂

    You did a wonderful job fleshing out what was, essentially, almost an outline of a fic rather than a real fic, and you gave it some more real emotion. My compliments.

    (also echoing the comment by ladymordecai that the obvious link ‘read more’doesn’t work)


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