This is a crossover between Hard Core Logo and Doctor Who/Torchwood. There are no spoilers for Hard Core Logo here. If you haven't seen Who 1.13 (The Parting of Ways) and/or Torchwood 1.01 (Everything Changes) and don't want to be spoiled, stop here. This was inspired by a line in Who 3.11 Utopia.
I wrote this for Tora K's birthday.
While I think this is gen, there is a "background" slash relationship. If this bothers you, don't read. It's that simple
1. WHO THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?
Joe thinks he knows everything.
John thinks he knows the mystic secrets of the universe.
They found him in the middle of a field with mud on his bare feet and paint on his skin. He was chanting that in the end it’s love. He chanted over and over until Billy started accompanying him on the guitar. They’d brought him back to the van because it was cold out there and there were probably some psychiatric douche-bags looking for a lone crazy guy.
A finger to the system. There’s safety in numbers. And there are numbers in music. John had picked up Joe’s guitar and started turning the pins. The thing was in tune for the first time in its miserable life. And then he joined Billy, picking out the counterpoint and playing the mantra. His words kept perfect time.
It would have been great if they were in a hippy band. They could probably pull it with the way Pipe was growing his hair. He wants to be able to wipe his ass with it, he says.
Joe thinks they are in the world’s greatest punk band. Never hip and stealing cool.
They need a bass player. Joe only knows three chords.
Three’s meant to be enough for punk. Billy disagrees.
2. WORDS AND MUSIC
John hauls around all these notebooks he’s bought or scammed off other bands. He keeps them in a duffle bag, which he never lets go of except to play guitar.
Joe eases them out of his sleeping arms and shows them to Billy.
Joe thinks that Billy is going to laugh at the crazy cunt.
That isn’t buddies. Billy tells Joe. Presses him against the wall and moves his hand until Joe is hard and begging and crying. Billy lets go and lets Joe fall onto the rotting carpet.
Joe’s cursing, threatening to beat him, give him a blue tattoo, and wreck those perfect pretty fingers.
Billy mimes playing a guitar.
Joe thinks they are in the world’s greatest punk band. But he needs Billy Talent.
Joe heads into Pipe’s room to try and wake one of the groupies to bring him off. It won’t happen. Coke does that. Billy smirks.
Billy should just put the books back. Put them on the pillow by John’s head.
Instead he starts reading.
3. MT RUSHMORE STRIP MINE, Inc.
Billy reads. John studied philosophy. He knows the sound a tree makes when there’s nobody to hear it. He’s in tune with the music of the spheres.
He knows a hawk from a handsaw.
John knows everything, and everything is too damn much.
Page after page after page say that in the end it is love.
Love is the only thing that survives.
John used to be on Northwestern’s Varsity Athletics Team. He threw things. Discus. Javelins. There are drawings in the book, illustrating perfect technique, becoming the exercises John does every morning. He loosens his arms and controls their every movement.
Billy had thought it was something to do with guitars. For Billy, it’s all in his fingers rough calluses coated with superglue. Some guys, though, it all comes from the arms. Like Joe on stage making shapes and never noticing that Billy unplugged his amp.
There’s a drawing of a guy. He looks like Cary Grant and Kirk Douglas’ secret lovechild. Billy would do him in a heartbeat. Hell, Joe would try, but Billy would succeed.
The books say that Joe is a supple tree that bends. Billy is the wind. Buckaroo Bonsai, the page says. Billy doesn’t know what it means.
He wishes he could see through John’s eyes for just a moment, just long enough to understand.
That’s the sort of thing you’re not meant to wish for. Horror movie material.
Billy turns a page. It’s the matinee idol again with a javelin in his heart.
Billy wants it to be symbolic. He knows it isn’t.
4. UNDEFENDED BORDER
Some unnoticed moment, a slip of newspaper, roughly cut, falls from one of John’s books. It could have blown out into the slush, instead it stays there in the back of the van.
Pipefitter is about to burn it, just for shits and giggles. They’ve parked – the engine burned out – by an old well and Pipe wants to see how deep it goes.
John’s playing with prayer beads and murmuring quietly.
Joe thinks they are in the world’s greatest punk band. Starting fights keeps them sharp. John is going to drive Joe nuts some time in the next hour.
Billy can set his watch by Joe.
He snatches it out of Pipe’s hand when he sees the headline. Before Pipe can go and bleat to Joe Billy gives him the set list for the gig.
A man died at the athletics meet. Somebody didn’t stop recording with their Super 8 Camera even then. Pictures of the guy. He has a dimple like Douglas and looks like Cary Grant’s hooker brother. He also looks kind of alive.
Billy glances at the top of the page. It’s the Weekly World News.
A man died at an athletics meet. He’d appeared out of thin air and into the path of a javelin thrown by “John Oxenberger, 22”. He was wearing an air force uniform straight out of the forties. John had run to check him out. Got there before the medic. There was no pulse, the medic confirmed that.
The javelin in his heart was a big hint there.
It sounds like some tragedy. Once you get past the Weekly World News’ belief that this is proof that Einstein was experimenting with time travel during the forties.
Billy doesn’t want to read the rest of the page.
Billy thinks he already knows the story.
Then he sees the caption on the picture.
5. BRING OUT YOUR DEAD
In his dreams, John pulls out the javelin and there is blood and the paramedics put the body in a bag and drive off. His girlfriend runs up to John and gives him a hug. He goes home for the week and his mother makes a fuss and plies him with Nanaimo bars. He quits the athletics team and he gets on with his life. Scores top grades and now has a beautiful house and a thriving law practice.
And he’s living this wonderful picture-perfect life, he does a little pro-bono work for a punk band trapped in a punitive contract with a piece of scum called Festus, he takes his wife out for dinner, the baby sitter is pretty…
And he’s working on his paperwork, using his shiny new Commodore.
His secretary – Mary – tells him he has a client.
And the man comes in. There’s no javelin in his chest. And he’s smiling at him.
That’s always when John wakes up.
John knows everything and nothing.
They’re in New York. They’ve just got the promoter to bail out Joe.
Joe thinks he’s the worlds’ greatest punk bandleader. He feels the need to show it. He feels the need to offer to suck the police officer’s cock when he’s caught drinking whiskey without a paper bag.
They go on stage. Billy’s sobered Joe up a bit. Billy’s lips are glossy and red like he’s been in a nettle-eating contest.
John feels the music through his feet. He belongs here. He can feel Billy’s guitar before it sounds. He plays the bass counterpoint without thinking.
Billy’s staring at the back of the venue. John doesn’t care because he’s in the music. The music is everything. Right now, he knows nothing but the music.
Joe goes to kiss Billy and notices the guy Billy’s staring at.
Joe doesn’t hear the music as much as feel the hate. He spits. Asks what the hell some zoomie Air Force mind slave is doing here. Does he want some rough trade or…
The music stops. Pipe keeps playing the drums, but the music’s gone.
John looks up
He looks no different to the day the javelin fell.
The day he got up and kissed John and told him that he’d opened his eyes.
The kiss was nothing like the way Joe kisses Billy. It was like nothing John had ever had. John knows everything and nothing; he knows he can’t have it again, so he doesn’t try. He doesn’t whisper to Billy in the night, doesn’t take him aside and show him what the universe keeps telling him.
In the end, it’s love.
The man – Captain Jack Harkness, nice to meet you, no hard feelings – looks at once perfect and wrong. John can see the way space curves around him. He’s a square peg and the whole universe is one massive round hole. He sucks everything in.
He’s like a black hole.
Everyone’s staring now.
John knows Jack’s going to be at the stage door later, hiding in shadows and saying that he’s sorry, that if he could do anything to put John right, he would do it. He’ll be muttering something about energy fields that John already understands. Something about latency that John already knows, because John knows everything.
“Face it, Dick, I’m everything you want to be and never can.” He’s tearing the audience away from Joe. They’re falling into his orbit.
John hopes they don’t get too close. The gravity pulls things loose. Jack is just one big line through eternity, from 1862 to the Big Crush.
John was a philosophy student; he knows paradoxes and forms and raisons d’être. But he knew nothing. And now he knows everything and he can follow back the line to a girl with tears in her eyes and knowledge of everything.
In the end it’s love.
John starts to chant.
Nobody notices. Everyone is looking at the man in a military coat the colour of regret and dreams long past.