Pairings: Jack/Ianto, John/Nick, Gwen/Rhys
Characters: Jack, Ianto, Gwen, Rhys, John Hart and a cast of (probably!) thousands.
Spoilers: Set after Exit Wounds. Sequel to 'Will My Arms Be Strong Enough?'
Rating: Adult - it's going to get very dark in some places.
Warnings: Slash, language, angst, dark themes.
Summary: What will the rest of the team think of Jack's research?
Disclaimer: I'm a student. I don't own Torchwood.
The Master List (as it stands) is here: anduria-trianys.livejournal.com/27610.ht
Upon returning from the garage with Ianto, Jack called the team into the boardroom. His mind was still reeling over his discovery of the ring and the realisation of what it meant, but he also knew that there was still a very big job to be done. He waited for Ianto and the girls to sit down and make themselves comfortable before he started. Then, he took his place at the head of the table, but didn’t actually sit down. Instead, he leaned on the table and looked at what was left of his team.
“Right,” he said, “I realise that it might seem like early days, but we need to get cracking again.” He passed out the pages he’d printed out. “While you were out doing the,” he paused for a second and glanced sideways at Ianto, “last clean up, I was here doing some research.”
Gwen raised an eyebrow at him. “Oh,” she said. “Is that what you’re calling it these days?”
On any other day, they would have laughed at that (and at whatever comment Jack would have made in response). But this time, all she got was a frustrated look from Ianto and she blushed. “Sorry. That was inappropriate.”
“Yes it was, Gwen,” answered Jack. He cleared his throat. “We’ve got an important job to do here; whoever takes the position as Torchwood’s medical officer is going to have big shoes to fill and we need to make sure we choose the right person for the job.”
Andie had already started scanning the pages. “I think we need to interview them and see how they are in pressurized situations before we can even think about recruiting anyone. But, on balance, I would say that Garrett Evans is a good man for the job, since we know that he’s got experience of functioning in these situations from being in the army.”
“I agree.” Ianto looked up. “I think we do need to see them in action. Being involved with something like Torchwood is very different to being involved with the army.” He picked up another one of the pages. “I mean, Dr. Potter clearly has experience with Torchwood, but we’d have to see how she’d cope with the work when it’s this constant.
“Yeah,” agreed Gwen. “And if it doesn’t work out, there’s always Retcon.”
Jack’s response was a small laugh. “I think we’re a bit beyond Retcon now, Gwen. I’d be very surprised if there’s anyone out there who doesn’t know who we are.”
“Especially after the incident with the earth being stolen,” remarked Ianto. “I think you’d be hard put to find anyone around who doesn’t know that something strange is going on after that.”
“Exactly,” agreed Jack. “But my point is that we need someone who can cope in these situations; situations where you don’t know what you’re going to see every day. And I think we need to find someone fast. We waited two months before recruiting Nick and nearly paid the price.”
He rubbed his hand across his face. “I also feel that, as their friends and family, you have a right to know what happened to John and Nick and to know why they left.”
Ianto looked up sharply. His partner’s voice had been quiet and calm, but his eyes were downcast. “Jack, you don’t have to,” he whispered, reaching for his hand. “You don’t have to talk about anything you don’t want to.”
A tiny smile drifted over Jack’s face. “It’s all right,” he said. “I know you want to know and I know you need to know. Nick was your closest friend and your brother.”
Gwen chipped in then. “You don’t have to tell us, Jack,” she said kindly. “I know I’ve pushed things in the past and I know that I still will in the future.” Her eyes drifted to Ianto for a moment, showing Jack’s champion that she meant what she was about to say, before she turned back to her boss. “But this time, it’s going to be different. It’s up to you who you decide to tell, if you decide to tell anyone. I won’t push you. We won’t push you.”
“No,” agreed Andie. “We won’t. It’s your decision. If you want Gwen and I to go out while you talk to Ianto, we will.”
Jack was rendered temporarily speechless. Andie and Ianto hadn’t surprised him much with their choices, but Gwen’s speech had completely blown him out of the water. He couldn’t deny that her determination to get to the bottom of a case, while admirable, could often get exceptionally aggravating. To hear her say that she was prepared to let something go for his sake – as well as admit that she had a problem with letting go – at once shocked and delighted him.
“Thank you,” he breathed out, his voice catching in his throat, “for your consideration. But I think you’ve all got the right to know what happened and I don’t know if I can face saying it twice.”
He straightened up and looked at his team, keeping one hand on Ianto’s elbow. “When John and I were at the Time Agency, there were stories, myths, if you will. Fragments of some ancient history, from before what would be considered ancient today.”
He smiled slightly at the memories of hearing those wonderful stories for the first time. “Some were very obviously myths and no one believed them, but there were others that were believed by several of us. Some of them were about the Rift.”
Gwen’s eyes grew wider. “You mean the Rift survives to your time?”
“Yes. It’s legendary by my time. It found its way into several stories, many of which were not taken too seriously. But there were some that were. One in particular was treated with the utmost respect – treated like a prophecy.”
Now, it was Ianto’s turn to react. “A prophecy…about –”
“No,” answered Jack, knowing what his lover was thinking. “It’s nothing to do with our two missing years. Well, not directly,” he amended. He wasn’t going to tell everyone about what had happened then. Telling Ianto had been hard enough.
“Basically, the story was that a Time Agent would leave one day after being greatly wronged and travel through time and space, eventually ending up thousands of years out of his time after facing several trials and almost certain death.”
Andie’s eyes widened. “You think –”
Jack nodded. “I don’t think, Andie. I’m certain it meant me. But it also said that there would be another wronged one who would follow at the same time and search for his partner, wandering through centuries, maybe even millennia, before finally finding him –”
“Until they were ripped apart again,” finished Ianto.
Jack stared at him. “How did you know that?”
“I didn’t,” Ianto deadpanned. “But that’s always the way it goes.”
Gwen sat up. “So you think that the prophecy referred to –”
“I don’t think there’s anyone else it could refer to,” said Jack. “The Time Agency was an organisation that prided itself on its top level security. There were only two Agents who managed to leave successfully.”
“You and John!” gasped Andie.
“Yes. Anyway, it was said that the follower would find his partner eventually, but they would be separated when…” but he couldn’t carry on.
Ianto made the connection immediately. “John left!”
“Yes, he did. But there’s more to it than that.” Jack rubbed his head. “John didn’t just leave thoughtlessly. He was called – called to fulfil his part of the prophecy.”
He waved away any questions. “The prophecy said that when he was called, he would be lost, sacrificed…for the greater good.” The last four words were barely a whisper.
“Like Jasmine with the faeries,” whispered Ianto. “But what’s that got to do with the Rift?”
Jack smiled sadly. “Everything,” he said. “By doing what he did, John has proved that he truly has changed. He’s done something that will benefit others rather than benefiting himself.”
“What?” But Ianto suspected that he knew. And sure enough –
“He’s started to close the Rift.” Jack rubbed his face again. “And Nick went with him.” He did his part to protect the future so that his children, and the children of the earth, will be safe. The thought made him laugh slightly, but his eyes were clouding over.
Nobody moved for several minutes; it seemed as if Jack’s story had shocked everyone into silence. Then, without making even a hint of noise, Ianto stood up and laid his hand on Jack’s back before resting his head on his shoulder and smiling up at him. He could relate only too well to what Jack was feeling; he too had lost someone he cared for deeply to a greater cause.
Gwen followed a moment later, standing close to Jack on his other side, but this time she wasn’t touching him. She was letting him know that she was there for him, but also recognising that this was a time for her to step back a little.
A second later, Andie also stood up. Like Gwen, she kept a degree of distance from the two men, but she stood beside Ianto, smiling gently when he nodded to her.
Jack couldn’t help but smile back. His heart swelled to see his team banding together again and he was instantly brought back to the words he had spoken after the deaths of Owen and Tosh.
“Now, we carry on.” He rested his head on top of Ianto’s. “We keep doing what we do.”
Two hours later…
Ianto found Jack sitting on the roof of the Millennium Centre, apparently smiling at the city below him. However, as he drew closer, he realised that his partner was holding the green box with John’s ring inside it and turning it around in his hands. Slowly, he moved towards him and sat down beside him, letting their shoulders touch gently.
“If you’d told me two years ago that John Hart would have a partnership ring and would be planning to propose to someone, I would have said you were out of your mind,” remarked Jack with a small laugh.
“If you’d told me six months ago that John Hart would be dating my cousin and planning to propose to him, I would have had you sectioned under the Mental Health Act,” replied Ianto with a perfectly straight face. “I guess it just shows you that people can surprise you.”
“Yeah, it does.” Jack nodded. “It really does.” He started playing with the box again.
Ianto indicated it. “What will you do with the ring?”
Jack shrugged. “Well, I can’t get rid of it. This metal hasn’t been seen before; people would want to know what it was and where it came from.” He spoke calmly, but the way he was stroking the box told a different story.
Carefully, Ianto closed the box, eased it out of Jack’s hands and into the pocket of his greatcoat. “Then don’t get rid of it.” He didn’t add that he also didn’t want to get rid of it. Even though he knew that John had never had the chance to give it to Nick – and probably never would – just knowing it was there would be like having a still having a part of his cousin there.
The moment was broken, however, by a beeping sound coming from the pocket of Jack’s waistcoat. Sighing, the older man drew out the portable Rift monitor he’d been carrying around.
“Where are we going?” asked Ianto, standing up as he watched Jack shift from the contemplative lover to the alert Captain.
“Maindy Barracks,” answered Jack, hauling himself upright. “We’re picking up massive Rift activity there.” He scanned the device in his hand. “Whatever’s there is large, deadly…and definitely not human.” He thumped his earpiece. “Gwen, Andie, we’ve –”
“We know.” Gwen’s voice came over the comms. “I’m on my way. Andie’s volunteered to stay and man the Hub. Where are you?”
“On the roof of the Millennium Centre with Ianto,” answered Jack.
“I’ll pick you up outside there.”
Next Time: Our heroes spring into action – but what will they find?