They were in a bar. This was an important fact. Gwen needed to keep this fact firmly in her mind, and not let the instincts of the Old Country betray her. Under no circumstances (Esther lost her footing momentarily among the slippery sibilants) should Gwen kid herself that they were in a... (Esther rummaged mentally for a second, before fishing out the mot juste with an air of triumph) pub. Bar, not pub. Very significant distinction (slither and slide).
Gwen wondered whether a sober Esther believed that Her Britannic Majesty’s subjects divided their drinking time exclusively between pubs, inns, and possibly the occasional tavern. In her cups, she certainly seemed to think that they not only lacked access, as a nation, to cable, but had also stopped paying attention to developments in global English sometime around the publication of The Pickwick Papers. Esther was now discoursing upon “hot”. In the States, Gwen would be shocked to hear, the word did not apply just to temperature. Her eyes lingered upon Gwen’s calves and thighs, which wrapped around the bar-stool with a casual insouciance Gwen had planned before they had sat down.
“Luminary”. That was a weird word. Esther thought of it as kind of an English word, if that made any sort of sense to Gwen (who was leaning, unnoticed, closer and closer in, shaving away the air between herself and Esther like a gunsmith filing a bullet). And yet, there it was in the Frost poem Esther had mentioned earlier. A luminary clock against the sky proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right. Did Gwen remember that poem?
Gwen did. The poem which, whatever Esther might think, really wasn’t about mortality. Gwen knew poems about death. The giveaway was that they tended to mention it a lot, and, in extreme cases, put your underground base into lockdown if anyone recited them aloud.
Esther’s poem wasn’t about death. It was about contingency. How hard it was for a stage-manager, however careful (Gwen arched her neck, and watched Esther watch her cleavage) to counterfeit a moment of destiny in a world of meaningless cries and indifferent clocks.
Esther’s pretty lips were a little parted. Gwen wondered what they would feel like, when she kissed them. Yielding, at first, she thought, but afterwards, responsive. And then, of course, there would be the taste.
Compound B67, Retcon, had a numbing quality on the senses of anyone it had affected. The subject would not perceive its aftertaste. To anyone else, however, a slight flavour of cinnamon lingered on the lips for several days. Gwen knew that she would taste that upon Esther; Jack would have used his classic opening move. But Jack, since the crisis had broken, was not himself. Which meant that someone had to be Jack for him.
Once upon a time, an immortal in a pretty coat whisked a sweet girl to a bar (not a pub), and shortly after that, took away her life. Once upon a time.
Twice upon a time.
Gwen smiled at Esther over the rim of her glass, and damned Jack Harkness to the burning Hell he might finally be capable of reaching, and counted down the beats until the kiss.