Jack's hand closed on his wristband, eyes fixed on the silent planet below the Game Station. His fingers found the controls, moved instinctively to program a jump as far back as it'd take him at once.
Light flared. Reality bucked and twisted around him; he opened his eyes on a too-loud city street. He checked the coordinates, and smiled grimly. Only another hundred and fifty thousand years to go.
He shouldn't be here. He wished he could say his presence in New Argos was an accident; the most he could say was that maybe so many jumps in rapid succession brought on time-sickness leading to temporary insanity.
Jack had few friends left in a city owned by the Time Agency; he did have people who owed him favours. Finding the Doctor on his own would be hit-or-miss. Set a Time Agent or three on his trail, though, and-
And he'd betray the one man who'd expected more from him. Jack eyed Agency headquarters for one minute longer, and reached reluctantly for his wristband.
Jack's head hadn't stopped throbbing since landing. Then, that was exactly as expected, travelling hundreds of thousands of years in a few not-so-short hops. Not to mention dying...
His footsteps echoed on the empty street, one lonely sound in the otherwise quiet Cardiff night. His wristband felt too heavy on his arm, no longer a useful tool, just dead weight, a shackle to this time.
He'd been to Cardiff once before, not long ago, but Cardiff in 2006 was a world away from Cardiff in 1869. This foreign country, it seemed, would be home now. His heart felt, suddenly, as heavy as the wristband.
Jack didn't realize how much he'd missed the background hum of the Hub, in the year he was gone, the year that didn't happen. Now, prowling around empty desks, he couldn't believe he'd forgotten.
He stopped in the door to his office, turning to survey the atrium from that familiar vantage point. In a few hours, the others would be filtering in. None of them had asked, yet, the question on everyone's mind: would he stay this time, or leave again in a month, six months, a year...?
Jack hoped they wouldn't. He'd missed this place, how it felt like home, but some promises he couldn't make. After so long waiting for the chance to fly away, home was almost a foreign concept.