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One is the Loneliest Number

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Author's notes: Non-consensual remembrance scene in PART 2, angst... angst and more angst, but a happy ending. If you are squicked by the non-con scene in Nightmares you can skip that part entirely. The story reads just fine without Jack's POV.

The lights go down.

A spotlight appears on a single black Baby Grand piano.

A man clad in a tight black shirt, a leather coat, and a pair of sunglasses sits down at the instrument. His face doesn't reveal the agony that his eyes do. His silver hair reflects the light and complements the otherwise dark background. He stretches his tired fingers and prepares to play. His hands have known the fight for survival, they have pulled the trigger, they have pressed the buttons to send so many people to their deaths. But today... The calluses have been softened; these hands have known love...

His hands begin to stroke the keys as gentle as the caresses he will never give his love again.

A voice as low and sad as loneliness itself barely whispers the words that cannot be heard over the loud and powerful chords being struck by the player. He has always known the words, now he knows their meaning. The piano resounds across an empty hall...

The song tells of love now gone and a man now alone, trying to find something to fill the now vacant hole. The words whisper of the recent past and tears unshed. A mind remembers a wrong unforgivable and the love that wrong has killed...

Dry eyes and cold hands are the only signs of his empty heart.

The last note played seems to hang in the air.

The man stands up and backs away from the instrument. He takes off his glasses and throws them at the piano. "Why? ...Why the Fuck did you do that?" he shouts across the hall.

He collapses back on to the bench and lets his face fall into his hands.

A lone figure stands in the back... in the shadows... and eyes the man alone on the stage.

It hurt, it really hurt. The figure tries to deny it. Tries to move on. 'I just don't know how I can go back. I just can't... I close my eyes and all I see is him... Why didn't he want me?'

The man on the stage runs his fingers through his hair.

The figure remembers how that hair felt.

Soft... always soft... Clean and fresh, or dirty and ruffled, but always soft.

The figure remembers how the man laid his head back into his arms, while he ran his hands through his lover's hair.

"Because, I wanted you to..." He almost says to the question the other posed.

But before he can the man on stage gets up and walks away.

The figure wants... no, Needs... to go after him, but his legs just won't respond. The spot light clicks off and the room goes dark. The working lights come on as they were before. The figure tries to decide whether or not to call out a name.

But he doesn't get the chance.

He hears the back stage door slam shut.

"Jack" the figure says in a voice, soft but still powerful.

The figure steps out of the shadows. His carriage is careful, but uncertain. He doesn't like to be on a stage without a script. People thought he enjoyed going over and over his notes for his lectures. And in truth, he really didn't mind, but he just wanted to make sure he didn't have to improvise. He wanted to know his topic by heart.

He sits down at the piano, after picking up a discarded pair of sunglasses. He runs his fingers over the worn frames. These glasses are old, fifteen years maybe. He laughs to himself. 'Everything is relative,' the man thinks to himself. 'I have never considered 15 years, 'old' for anything else in my life.' He runs his fingers over the slight flaws and scratches that betray hard use. 'He probably wore these in the war. They're hardly issue but that's never stopped him before.' He remembers why he loves him, the way he follows only the orders he wants to, the roguish smile and the feel of his arms around him. A small smile starts to cross his lips, but it fades fast as the cold reality rears its ugly head. This is the same man that was his friend, his confidant and most recently his lover. This same man has turned him away. Left him with this... this aching need inside.

The figure presses the tips of the earpiece against his freshly shaven face.

He wanted it so badly that he let himself be put in a situation no one was ready for. Patience is usually his trademark; action is the other's. Timing had killed his chance. At least he had that one night, that one night of memories that he did know by heart.

The figure runs his free hand over the keys, the keys that were just touched by those hands. He closes his eyes against the memories, but they come anyway...