None of the offices and corridors of the SSAD (Soul Stratification and Assignment Department)1 were particularly inspiring – that would have defeated the object of the place - but those of the Temporary Death Initiative were mind numbingly bland almost to the point of causing insanity; not that this was really an issue for those who happened to pass through the doors of the TDI, as they never remembered the place anyway.
Shane2 was unusual amongst the employees of the SSAD – he'd volunteered for the job rather than being conscripted from the ranks of those in the queues – and as such had ended up in the TDI as a means to an end. He'd been there a while now, with no end in sight, but that was just how he liked it; he didn't really fit in anywhere else. Shane had started off as an Angel, become one of The Fallen in pursuit of something a bit more exciting to do than just hang around being angelic but found he was just a bit too *nice* to really make a go of being a Devil. The Bosses of Above and Below had then cast him to earth thinking he'd fit in great with the Nephilim and their descendants but the earth couldn't hold him either and he was back in the Big Office in what seemed like no time at all and at a loose end. At that point, purely by happenstance, he encountered his first immortal on a temporary visit and volunteered on the spot. He'd been in the TDI ever since and while he had what seemed to be a never ending procession of assistants Shane had become part of the furniture and probably the only un-insipid thing about the place.
Shane had become used to most of the immortals that popped in and out of the TDI offices, some of them on a semi regular basis, and had got to know the ones who hung around for a bit fairly well. He wouldn't exactly describe them as *friends* but they were certainly more than acquaintances, except for the more uppity ones who thought they should have been somewhere better like the guy who thought he was the end of time and that Egyptian bint, Nefertiri. He'd been so pleased with Duncan MacLeod shutting them up permanently that the next time the Scottish immortal had shown up he'd been surprised with a comfy chair and a large scotch.
His life in the TDI was comfortable, almost predictable in fact, and would have been boring if it weren't for his temporary charges though even Shane had to admit that some of them *were* boring – a long life wasn't necessarily an interesting one.
Then everything changed.
It was just another day at the TDI, or it had been until the inter-galactic temporal meddler known as The Doctor had managed to piss off the daleks – again – sending his colleagues in arrivals into an apoplexy as they were inundated with a massive influx of souls. Unsurprisingly, the Boss Below had had a field day with the daleks. Shane was amusing himself by listening in to his much busier colleagues (it had been a fairly quiet day for the TDI for some reason) when a new information panel pinged into existence. He stared at it for a moment before hitting his communication module.
"What the ghstakz is going on?" Shane demanded.
"No need to be so impolite! There's someone being reallocated from the reformed-con queue."
"Reallocated? You mean they're on divert to the TDI? That never happens and I've always been informed well in advance of any new TDI attendees – to the tune of years usually."
"Well it's happening now. The Big Bosses say it's nothing to do with either of them, something else decided to have a hand in it."
"Bloody typical. I've a good mind to… too late." Shane terminated the contact as a rather startled – but still kind of handsome – man landed on his backside in front of the desk. The information panel helpfully provided him with a name, which it highlighted as 'current alias' but before Shane could say anything to Jack Harkness, he started yelling. Loudly. Very, very loudly. About what and when and where and who and Rose and Doctor and why and how and death and time and fuck it hurts.
Shane raised an eyebrow, managed to enunciate a very uninspiring
"I can explain…." and then Harkness was gone. He knew it wasn't the last he was going to see of the guy as the information panel suddenly went into overdrive as it calculated potential attendances. There was a tendril of smoke rising from the abused panel when he received a useful nugget of information from the Big Office; Harkness would be being processed in relation to his own timeline and not with respect to earth time. The attendant memo (which Shane was fairly sure neither of the Bosses had seen) drily stated that it gave everyone a headache trying to work out when and where he should be otherwise and Harkness was liable to be a big enough headache without colliding timelines being involved too.
Shane settled into wait with a strange sense of anticipation; with the advent of Jack Harkness he had a feeling that working in the TDI was going to get a whole lot more interesting.
1) also known by some earth-dwellers as purgatory
2) not his original name; he'd started using Shane when he got fed up of introductions taking so long that his tea was cold by the time they'd finished and they cut into time that could be spent doing something more interesting – like teasing his colleagues in Reincarnation.