The Chairman Dances
Set during the closing moments of Captain Jack Harkness

There is no one else in the great hall save his nurse and his old secretary. Chairs line the sides of the room like mourners at a state funeral but there is no sadness here. In the plush scarlet of their seats a hundred flowers blossom. At the far end of the floor incongruous in the ornate surroundings stands a strange blue box. From within its depths comes the faint melody of a two-stringed ehru. The man himself is humming to its music, shuffling slowly around in his silk slippers as his face shines in the half gloom. The emptiness of the space merely echoes his present happiness, but in the faces of his associates there is manifest compassion: they know the Great Helmsman is coming to the end of his journey; all his works completed.


That certain night

Chessboard tiles beneath our feet: our shoes clip the joins – black, white, black, white – as we turn. His hand warm against my shoulder, my neck, smells of gun oil, bourbon, regulation soap. He presses my back firmly with his other; I mirror the gesture. My eyes never leave his. He has blue grey eyes like the serge of his tunic. Hand still firm on my shoulder and mine on his. Tomorrow he will die and I will be alone again. Until then we dance.

The night we met

From the side of the floor they watch us aghast, captain to captain, but the band does not miss a beat and we are sure footed in our rhythm. His dark hair reminds me of burnt Arkansas cornfields, the curve of his open mouth of white water rafting in summers past. Lips close towards mine. He whispers something lost to the trumpet and the drum and the honeyed tones of the chanteuse. A breath of sweet gum assails me. Yet I cannot save him. All my love cannot make him whole nor him my life complete.

There was magic abroad in the air

The wings on his breast catch the light from the lone chandelier: resplendent, gilded, imperial. As the band picks up tempo so my partner of the moment swings me around to match the change. Yet come tomorrow his aircraft will catch fire and he will burn, my handsome squadron leader, never having known my intimate touch. But I shall be in his last thoughts. There shall be music and there will be yesterday and he will remember my smile.

There were angels dining at the Ritz

The light is becoming brighter, calling me. I hold him closer. We no longer move cheek-to-cheek. There is the uncertainty of a first kiss. His mouth tastes of freshness, the promise of Christmas come early. We are alone on the dance floor now but it does not matter. There is nothing more important in the universe than our togetherness. I am pulled by brilliance, trapped by history, ensnared by the love of an evening. In my sacrifice I promise to myself I will become him and keep his name alive for all of my time. I see it in his eyes that he knows I must leave soon. That he will fall tomorrow. How it aches: the knowledge, the return of loneliness. Duty.

And a nightingale sang in Berkeley Square

The glare is nearer now. I can no longer see anything except my hero, no longer feel the air on my skin only his galvanic touch. I an buffeted by the encroaching whiteness, billowing in around us like a sea fog.  It tears at me. I find myself stumbling in the vortex. He looks at me in sorrowful acceptance while I am a violence contained. I try to cup his face in my hands as the light wrenches me backwards and the whole world fades to grey.


He is still laughing and dancing in the great hall in his silk shoes and soft tunic. The music has departed with the blue box yet if he noticed their absence it did not dampen his spirits. A step for each of the millions of dead.  A long march to the end of the room.