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: Nick's home again, but more revelations are in store, some less pleasant than others.
Disclaimer: I'm a student. I don't own Torchwood.
The Master List (as it stands) is here: anduria-trianys.livejournal.com/27610.ht
Nick smiled as he looked around the Plass. “It's still standing then?” he half-joked.
“What is?” asked Ianto.
“The Plass and the water tower,” chuckled Nick. “Hell, the entire Bay looks to be intact!” he added, laughing. “And considering that you get into enough trouble to need three doctors, that seems like a pretty impressive achievement, if you ask me.”
Ianto snorted. “Cheeky bastard,” he said, but his eyes were twinkling as he moved around to hug Nick again. “I have to say, it is so good to have you back – oh!” He reached into his pocket and passed something to his cousin. “I think this is yours.”
Nick gasped. “Oh, my God!” he cried, hastily fastening his watch around his wrist. “How did you find this?”
“It fell through the Rift a few weeks after you left,” said Ianto. “I picked it up in the little library back at the tailor's shop.” He sighed softly. “I've kept it with me since.”
“Thanks.” Nick stroked the face of the watch and turned to John who was watching in confusion.“I never thought I'd see this again; I thought I'd lost it when I left here. It was a gift from Ianto...he gave it to me when...” but he shook his head. “It doesn't matter. What matters is that he found it and kept it safe for me, even if he didn't know if he'd see me again.” He reached out and hugged Ianto again. “Thank you.”
Orion suddenly stepped forwards. “As sweet as this reunion undoubtedly is – sweet enough to make me vomit a little,” he said, “can we please get a move on? Unless,” and here he laughed disdainfully, “all of Torchwood is actually up here as we speak.”
Declan ground his teeth slightly. “Can't we ditch him?” he whispered to Nick, who snorted.
Ianto sighed and moved back. “Right, well, let's get going – what is it, Nick?” he asked when his cousin moved to intervene.
“Can we go in through the tourist office?” asked Nick quietly. “I don't think it's a good idea for John to take the lift yet; he won't want to be stuck on a tiny slab descending at that speed.”
“It's not that fast, Nick,” said Ianto, laughing. “But you're right; we'll take it easy for him. Come on, this way.”
He led them across the Plass towards the entrance to the Tourist Office – Nick's heart clamped briefly as his eyes flickered over the bench on the boardwalk where he and John had shared their first kiss – and escorted them through the office and down to the Hub. Unfortunately, just as they entered, Myfanwy, who had been flying around the ceiling, let out a loud screech and nosedived towards them, crowing with apparent joy at Nick's safe return. John shot backwards in terror and only his grip on Nick's arm stopped him from falling.
“Hey!” said Nick, quickly supporting him. “It's okay, she won't hurt you.” He wrapped his arms around the trembling man and soothed him. “It's all right now, it's all right...it's okay...it's okay...”
“Jack!” Ianto called out. “I think you need to come here for a minute. And don't touch that!” he added threateningly at Orion who was fingering some technology that had come through the Rift the previous day. “You don't know what that could do!”
“Oh, I think I do,” replied Orion with a lazy smirk. “I think I know perfectly well what it could do.”
Ianto groaned inwardly, but before he could say anything, Jack came out of his office. “You wanted to –“ but then he trailed off when he realised who was with his lover. “Nick?”
Nick jumped and turned. “Jack!” he gasped. He would have rushed over to hug his friend, but he didn't want to let go of John at the moment; the poor man was still absolutely terrified. “Jack, it's good to see you again!”
“I could say the same!” said Jack, bounding up to him with a grin, though that quickly faded when he took in Nick's appearance. “Okay, as sexy as you look at this moment, Nick, what on earth are you wearing?”
“Ah,” said Nick, instantly shifting into a serious mode. “Jack, there's something you need to know.” He took a deep breath and looked between Jack and Ianto. “The Time Agency hasn't been shut down. It's still as open as Torchwood is today.”
Jack paled. “Are you sure?”
“Absolutely. I was there, Jack. I was there and I heard people discussing an incident that involved two Agents having their memories wiped before they disappeared. I guessed that was you and John.”
At that moment, John suddenly looked up and stared at Jack, his eyes widening. “You!” he gasped. Quickly, he turned back to Nick, pointing a shaking finger in Jack's direction. “It...it's him!”
“What?” asked Ianto. “What's him, John?” He glanced at Nick, who shrugged.
“I met him...briefly,” stammered John, “I can't remember where I was, but...” his mouth trembled, “he was the only one who was kind to me...” Slowly he turned to Nick. “Until I saw you.”
Nick swallowed hard. “It's all right,” he repeated. “Go on.”
John frowned. “He was the one...who sent that box...” he whispered and then turned to Jack. “You...you sent him,” he nodded in Nick's direction, “a box of things...I saw you put them together and...and you added a note saying that you were watching over him, but he shouldn't go looking for you.”
Nick was stunned. John met a future version of Jack? And that same future version of Jack was the one who sent me those things? He swallowed hard and looked up at Jack with a small smile. “Thank you,” he murmured, only then realising how strange it must be to be thanked for something you probably wouldn't even do for another three thousand years.
Jack looked at Nick sharply for a moment, but then his attention was drawn to the tall man stood behind him and he instantly stiffened. “Orion,” he said.
Orion looked up. “Sirius,” he said coolly. “It's been a long time.”
“Indeed it has,” said Jack. “Long enough for me not to go by that name any more. It's Jack now – Captain Jack Harkness.” He looked around as the rest of the team started to join them. “Don't worry, kids, he's not another psychotic ex-lover of mine, though we did work together at one point.”
Orion scoffed and ignored Jack's words about his identity, instead focusing on the others. “So, these guys make up your team? Well, they are a pretty young bunch aren't they, just like those people I ran into earlier when we arrived! And boy do they know how to get rough and ready!” he added with a grin.
“They arrived in the middle of a rugby match,” explained Ianto.
“Well?” Orion tapped his foot. “Are you going to introduce me, Captain?” The last word was spoken on a mocking drawl.
Jack twitched. Introducing his team to this man was the last thing he wanted to do, but he knew that when Orion spoke like that, he didn't mean it as a suggestion. Slowly, he went round them, introducing them one by one, only to spin back when he heard a shocked gasp. “Nick?” he said, concerned. “What's wrong?”
“Did,” Nick hesitated, “did you just say...Garrett Evans?” He knew it was a pretty strange thing to be worrying about at this point, but he also felt that he had to ask.
“Yes, he did,” said a voice and, a moment later, Garrett himself appeared, his black hair just as messy as it had been on the first day Nick had seen him. His dark eyes looked shocked, but amused. “Good to see you again, Nick.”
“But...” Nick stumbled again and Ianto had to support him. “I thought...”
“Garrett,” interrupted Jack, “why don't you and Nick take Orion down to the cells? Don't worry,” he said quickly to Nick, who looked ready to protest, “I'll look after John.”
“What?!” exclaimed Orion. “Are you really going to treat me like I'm some sort of prisoner?”
“For now, yes,” said Jack simply. “At least until I'm satisfied you can be trusted.”
“What's going on?” asked Nick as they locked the cell door on the now extremely irate Time Agent. “The last time I heard from you, you were still working in Newport.”
Garrett snorted. “Well, then it really has been a long time,” he said. “I resigned my position there shortly after you left. I guess you could call it a protest resignation.”
“Why?” Garrett grabbed Nick's arm. “Do you really think I was going to stay with them after the way they treated someone who I considered my only friend? No way, Nick. I didn't want to be a part of an organisation who had been stupid enough to blame you for what happened to that young lad. Any idiot could see that it wasn't your fault if they'd only looked outside their rear ends!” He started making his way back up the steps.
Nick rushed after him. “So, what did you do then? I'm guessing you didn't come straight here, since Jack wouldn't have needed to hire me if you had.”
“No, I didn't,” said Garrett. “I joined the army as a field surgeon. That's how I met Matt; he was injured in the field and I had to treat him.” A small smile flickered over his face. “We just bonded, Nick. He was the only person, apart from you, who didn't care about my sexuality and I couldn't love him more for that. He was there for me when no one else was; at a time when I was getting bullied by some of the other soldiers when I didn't want to take part in their stupid games about deciding which woman in a twenty metre radius had the biggest tits!” He gave a bitter laugh at Nick's shocked expression. “I know, you wouldn't think it, would you? But soldiers can be pretty immature when they're off duty.” He sighed. “Anyway, there was an attack on the Maindy Barracks by an alien – I can't remember the name of it, but Jack said that they were basically space dolphins gone rabid – and apparently, Jack saw something in Matt and I that he liked and he hired us.”
“Well, if he sees the you that I know, then of course he'd seen something good in you,” said Nick. “You're a good man, Garrett, and a very talented doctor. Anyone who doesn't see that would have to be a fool.” Gently, he touched the other man's shoulder. “And you know what? I'm proud to call you my friend – just as I'm sure Matt is proud to call you his partner.”
Garrett stared at him for a moment. “We should go back upstairs,” he said and carried on his way. However, just before they made their way back into the main Hub, he turned round. “Thanks, Nick.”
The alarm suddenly sounded and Ianto turned round. “Ah, that'll be our dear police officer turned field agent back again, Weevil in tow, by the sounds of it.” He chuckled. “Declan, can you deal?”
“No problem!” The young New Zealander was on his feet in an instant to help the new arrival. However, Nick was shocked to notice that, instead of the black-haired woman he had once worked with, a skinny man with dark blonde closely curled hair was dragging the unconscious Weevil into the Hub. He looked up and smiled at Declan who was helping him, and Nick experienced another shock of recognition.
“Where’s Gwen?” he asked, looking confused. “And why is PC Davidson here?” He felt his palms growing slightly sweaty as he remembered a certain night when the young constable had caught him and John in a very compromising position on the Plass. In his defence, though, he had honestly thought that the slab they had been sprawled over had been the invisible lift! Although, whether John knew it was the wrong one is another matter altogether...
Ianto bit his lip. “Nick, Gwen’s dead.”
“What?” Nick stared at his cousin, shocked out of his musings. “She’s…but how? And…when?”
Ianto smiled sadly. “Would you believe it, she was shot by a Blowfish; took a shot that was meant for me, actually. It was about two months before you came back.”
“Oh my God,” breathed Nick. “I’m so sorry.”
“We all were.” Ianto nodded. “Do you know what the last thing she said to me was?”
“That she did it because,” Ianto made quote marks in the air, “she didn’t want you to come back to find your cousin dead.” He laughed softly at the astonished look on Nick’s face. “I know. None of us thought that you would come back. I guess she just wasn’t prepared to let you go.”
“Stubborn right to the end,” murmured Nick. In all honesty, he had never been as close to the former police officer as he had been to the others. He hadn’t disliked her, but he hadn’t really warmed to her either. But now, hearing that she had saved his best friend’s life, he realised that he would be forever in her debt.
“How's Rhys?” he asked cautiously. He had only met Gwen's husband a few times, but he had found him to be an all-round good bloke, as well as a great man to watch the rugby with.
“He's not too bad,” said Ianto slowly. “Gwen's death hit him hard, especially considering their daughter was only a few weeks old. But she gave him a reason to hold on and he's gone from strength to strength.”
“What's his daughter's name?”
Ianto smiled. “Alyssa Cailin Williams. Speaking of babies, though,” and here he showed Nick a picture of a little brown-haired girl with bright hazel eyes. “This is your niece. Michelle Gabriella Ashford.”
Nick swayed. “Catrin has a daughter?”
“Yep. She was four months pregnant when she and David got married.” Ianto frowned. “Didn't you know?”
“No, I didn't. She never said a word.” Nick sat down heavily as he held the picture. “She looks just like her father – except for her eyes. She's got her mother's eyes.”
Ianto blinked at him. “Since when have you quoted Harry Potter?”
“Since the quote fitted the moment.” Nick chuckled softly. “So, how's Dad and Trev and everyone else?”
Ianto hesitated. “Trev's fine, but...” he swallowed hard.
“But...what?” asked Nick. “Ianto, what's happened?”
“Nicky,” Ianto gripped his cousin's hand. “Nicky...your father passed away in May.”
“He was ill in hospital for a long time. I'm so sorry, Nick, but the doctors said that he didn't suffer.” Ianto took a huge breath. “They think that he never properly recovered from what he went through in Providence Park.”
Nick swore under his breath. “Was...was he in pain when...” but he couldn't finish the sentence.
“No,” Ianto assured him. “He was ill for a long time before it happened, but he didn't suffer. And I can tell you now, Nicky, he always knew that you loved him.” He paused for a minute. “He said something to me at Catrin's wedding.”
“What was it?”
“He said that he knew that one day you'd come home. But he wouldn't be here when you did.” Ianto smiled softly. “Even in the moments before he died, he believed in you, Nicky. The last thing he said to me was a request for me to tell you how much he loved you. And he did love you, Nicky. You meant the world to him.”
Suddenly, Nick started to feel that something was very wrong. “Ianto, what's going on?” he asked. “I mean, when I left, Catrin barely even looked pregnant and now I hear that she's got a daughter who,” he checked the picture again, “looks like she's just turned two.” He looked intently at his cousin. “I haven't just been away for a few months, have I?”
“Where did you get the idea that you had?” interjected Garrett. “No one said anything about you just being away for a few months.”
Ianto ignored his colleague. “No, Nick,” he said, “you haven't just been away for a few months.”
“Then how long...how long has it been?” asked Nick. “I mean...it was only a couple of months for me. How long was it for you?”
Ianto sighed. “I didn't want to tell you straight away, because I knew how much of a shock it would be, but...here.” Taking a deep breath, he passed Nick the newspaper and watched as his cousin's eyes widened in shock. “You see?”
“But...but this can't be right!” spluttered Nick. “It says that today's date is –“
“4th of November, 2012,” said Ianto quietly. “Nicky...you've been gone for over two and a half years.”
Next Time: Still reeling from the shock of how long he's been away, Nick still has to face the rest of his living family. But then there comes a reunion that even he can't forecast.