|Be All My Sins Remembered
Author: Nancy Brown PM
Someone from Jack's past comes through the Rift, while Gwen, Ianto, Lois, Martha and Johnson all deal, or fail to deal, with their own problems. Also, an invisible face eating alien may be stalking Cardiff. Must be Tuesday. Part of my fake third season.Rated: Fiction T - English - Drama/Angst - Jack H. & Ianto J. - Chapters: 4 - Words: 28,702 - Reviews: 10 - Favs: 6 - Follows: 7 - Updated: 10-11-10 - Published: 10-06-10 - Status: Complete - id: 6378273
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
As soon as Martha was free, Gwen went down to the med bay. Martha was just putting away supplies, and Gwen started to help, trying to remember where Owen had stocked everything.
"Don't," Martha said, but kindly. "I'm trying to set up a system."
"All right." Gwen put the plasters down on the bed. Then she wasn't sure what to do with her hands.
Martha took one look and sighed. "Come on." They went into the small room where Martha had performed the examinations.
"So," Gwen said. "You processed the results?"
Martha nodded. "You're anaemic."
"Is that another side effect?" She hadn't been able to sneak a peek at the websites she wanted to visit, not with Torchwood at one end and Rhys at the other.
"No, that's a diagnosis. You've got low iron and a number of vitamin deficiencies making you tired, and between that and a massive amount of stress, your menstrual cycle isn't functioning properly right now."
Gwen opened her mouth, but nothing came out at first. She finally managed a small, "What?"
Martha took her arm and sat her on the edge of the bed. "You're not pregnant. I checked twice. I know you're not eating right. When you do eat, you're eating whatever's put in front of you, and half your diet is coffee, it's no wonder you're nauseated."
"That's not … "
"And I'm doing the same thing, but for God knows how long, every hot meal you've had has been catered by two Welsh men who think beer and pizza are food groups."
Gwen was shocked into laughter. Rhys loved to cook, as long as it was spag bol or lasagne, and all right, yes, Ianto ate like a bloke in his mid-twenties which meant so did Jack and Gwen when they were at work, which was all the time.
"I'm not breaking much confidentiality to tell you Ianto's in the same boat. Jack's not, but he probably died recently, and he could use with better nutrition as well. I'm putting the two of you on supplements, and I want Lois to handle the food orders until further notice because she believes in vitamins."
Gwen's thoughts came back around again. "I'm not pregnant." She'd spent yesterday and today getting used to the idea, and while she was relieved, she discovered that part of her heart was breaking.
"Not currently, no. But that's good, right? You were worried about having to leave, and now you don't."
Gwen heard the false note in Martha's voice, and tried to match it. "Right."
Martha's eyes were sad. "I'll want regular reports, and if you haven't started your period within another week, call me and I'll repeat the test just to make sure."
"All right." Gwen frowned. "Call you?"
"I tested everyone the same way, just to have a baseline for the whole staff. The boys, too. This is Torchwood, after all. With our luck, it'd be Jack. But it wasn't."
Her face moved strangely, and it clicked. "Oh, Martha, really?"
"You're right, this is no place to be when you're expecting."
She managed a weak smile, and then Gwen hugged her hard, the sorrow she was feeling sliding away, replaced with a blooming joy for her friend.
Martha's head was still buzzing when she went out of medical into the Hub proper. There was so much to do, to think about. She hadn't even called Tom yet to tell him, but she'd wanted to tell someone. Gwen was already grinning excitedly for her, and Martha knew it'd be a hard-kept secret. Martha would have to inform Jack anyway. Like she'd told Gwen, Torchwood was no longer a good option for her.
Not that she had a lot of good options.
She didn't want to go, though at least she had multiple ways to continue working. Tom would want to be home more, she was certain, and she hoped he'd be happy rather than resentful.
She moved an absent hand over her abdomen. Before the wedding, she'd done some quick research on the Doctor's known companions in the UNIT databases. The ones who'd lived, who hadn't vanished, some had gone on to have children of their own, ergo the radiation from the TARDIS shouldn't be an issue there. Still, she'd been exposed to so many unusual factors even aside from the standard Vortex weirdness - her brief time at the Pharm, her abductions by the Sontarans and by the carpoolers on New Earth, just for starters - that she worried already for a child she hadn't known about this morning.
So it was understandable, she decided later, that she didn't at first pay close attention to what Lois was saying, in the report she showed to Jack and the rest. Martha only caught the very end: " … likely was going to stay here all along."
"What?" she said, coming closer. "Staying?" Martha wasn't staying. She couldn't stay.
"Fletcher," said Jack's son. "Your records say he went MIA the day we came through. He's supposed to stay here."
Ianto was definitely not hiding in Jack's bunker. He'd dusted, given Jack's spare pair of boots a polish, and was sorting the little pile of laundry now that he'd noticed the mess. They slept here only when they'd worked so late into the night that it was ridiculous to go back to the flat, but dirty clothes still accumulated when Ianto was too busy to clean.
He picked up a shirt, his own, and tried to remember the last time he'd worn it. At least a month had gone by, he thought, perhaps longer. Oh yes, that had been the day they'd crawled back to the Hub at ten in the morning after a gruelling night, and had passed out for a few hours while Gwen went home, so that was before the new recruits.
Half a smile touched his lips, as he looked around the unlived-in space.
Ianto spun around, shirt in hand, and did not scream. Jack's head poked down from the hole in the ceiling, hair askew by the demands of gravity.
"Sorry. Did you need something?"
The face disappeared, to be replaced by Jack's body climbing down the ladder. Ianto waited patiently until he reached the floor.
"Sit down. I wanted to talk to you for a minute. Couple things."
"All right." As he always did, Ianto ran through the quick and nervous 'Are we breaking up?' checklist, and came up with a 'No.' He sat beside Jack on the tiny camp bed. "What did you want to talk about?"
"What happened with Lois. Are you sure you're okay?"
"I'm fine. Why?" He'd settled back into his own head, and they'd managed to work together well over the last few stressful days. Ianto was proud of himself.
Jack made his 'I don't want to be having this conversation but here we are' face. "We never talked about what happened when I was gone with the Doctor that first time."
Ianto frowned in confusion. "Do we need to? I thought we agreed whatever had happened, it was finished." And didn't have anything to do with Lois.
"Right. But, while I was gone, did you … ?"
"Did I … ?"
"I'm not going to tell you I spent that whole year celibate." Jack had touched upon this before, lightly. He and Martha thought they were being oblique and clever when they talked about the year that never was. The two of them hadn't been together for long, but Martha's sister had been confined with Jack, and later Ianto had met her at the wedding. Tish was just as gorgeous as Martha, and Ianto didn't blame her or Jack in the slightest. And as Jack had said, it was finished.
"I didn't think you were. For one thing, when you got back, you didn't rip off anyone's clothes."
"Hey, I never rip. Pop buttons, maybe. So, while I was gone," he said, "did you see anyone?"
"You mean socially?"
"Yeah. I mean socially."
Ianto stood and went back to tidying. Jack followed him, cramped in the small space. "We agreed not to discuss it. But since you seem to be ignoring that agreement, no. The team was down a man, we were constantly fielding calls from higher up demanding to know where you were, we were all run off our feet, and I spent half my nights here taking the overnight shift because I was used to sleeping at the Hub anyway." He closed the laundry hamper. "There wasn't time for social."
"Then I came back."
"Yes." And they'd talked, what little Jack could say about what had happened, and they'd fallen asleep talking, there on the king-sized bed at the hotel, still fully clothed. Ianto woke first, and had watched Jack sleeping, wondering what he'd been through to exhaust him to this point, and feeling, well, a bit chuffed honestly that Jack felt safe enough to sleep beside him after everything.
"And you can call this ego and crack a joke if you want, but I know you haven't been with anyone else since then."
There was nothing embarrassing about that. "And?"
"I was pretty sure I was the only one since Lisa died, but I wanted to be sure."
Ianto closed his eyes. "Did Martha find anything? Did Lois or I give each other something that your immune system bounced out?" Scenarios began unspooling in his head, each worse than the last.
"No." Jack looked confused, his brows drawn tight. Then he relaxed. "No, not as far as I know."
"Oh. Good. Then what are we talking about, exactly?"
"You keep calling Lois 'Lisa.'"
He hesitated, thinking back. "No, I don't."
"She's noticed you doing it. She thinks you're saying her name wrong. I didn't correct her."
Ianto opened and closed his mouth like a fish. "No, that's not possible. I'd never do that."
"It makes a lot of sense. I mean, she's the first woman you've had sex with since you lost Lisa, and the names are close enough … "
His stomach dropped. He'd been trying not to think about Lisa, trying not to compare them, did not want to be that man who was attracted to a woman because he had a type rather than because of who she was. And instead, his subconscious had gone ahead and done it for him. He was that man after all. He felt ill.
"You're not stupid. You aren't going to start thinking Lois is Lisa, and stalk her or anything. Right?"
"Of course not. I just … " Completely fucked up. Oh God.
"Hey, I'm sure it's going to be fine. Just pay closer attention next time to what you're saying."
Ianto nodded, still horrified, and Jack rubbed his cheek affectionately until Ianto got himself back under control.
"When this is done," Jack said, "I want you to consider talking to someone."
"About what? Accidentally calling my co-worker by my dead girlfriend's name?"
"That's a start. You're not okay, Ianto. You always say you are, and you're really good at making everyone believe you are, but you're messed up."
Ianto pulled back. "Thanks." Jack grabbed his shoulders and wouldn't let him move.
"And a lot of that is my fault, and that's why I'm no good at helping you with it. I wish I could be. Gwen gets to go home to Rhys and talk things out to him. You're stuck with me," he said with a quirky smile. Ianto couldn't bear to return it.
"I'm fine. Really I'm fine. I was tired, and frankly, we could both use more sleep, and … "
"Ianto, please shut up."
Jack took a breath. "Neither of us has been fine for a long time." Too true. It was why they got on so well; the places each was broken matched up to the jagged edges of the other. Jack's thumb began rubbing circles on his arm where the cast had been. "You think you're going to die, don't you?"
He tried a nonchalant shrug. "It's Torchwood." As if that were the only answer.
Jack led him back to sit on the bed. "Give me a selfish moment here, okay? There's no way I'm not going to lose you. I have to live with that every single day, knowing that there's going to come a time when you're going to be gone, and I'll have to just keep going." A thick note was in his voice. Given the events of the past few days, Ianto guessed he wasn't really the one Jack was thinking about right now. "When you say you don't expect to live very long like it's a given, and you mix up the names of the living and the dead, and you stop following orders, and you beg to go out on dangerous missions, all I can think is that you're speeding up that process, and I'm going to lose you before I can even blink."
For a moment, Jack's layered mask peeled back, and there was nothing but fear, naked and lonely. Ianto pulled him in for a quick kiss. Whether or not this was about him, about Jack's son, or about the memories that haunted them throughout the Hub, it didn't matter, nothing mattered. Ianto knew he would be dead sooner rather than later, but that wasn't the story Jack needed to hear, not now.
"I'm not trying to get myself killed. I swear. But I'll talk to someone." There was a section in the policy manual about therapy. He could make an appointment to appease Jack, and one for Jack as well, because he'd need one when this business with Harrison was finished. Hell, they still hadn't properly recovered from the incident with the ghosts a month ago, just another damn thing about this job that never ended. "I'm not going anywhere, Jack." He sealed the lie with a quick smile. At his words, the shutters clamped tight over Jack's face again. "What's wrong?"
"Almost forgot." Jack took a breath. "Johnson found a Rift spike coming up tonight. Phil and the guys are going home."
"Oh. That was fast."
"Yeah." He couldn't read the mix of emotions on Jack's face. "I'm going with them."
His ears had stopped working. Ianto blinked. "What?"
Jack took his hands. "I'm going to loop again. I'll go back with Phil, and after … Look, I'll make my way back to Torchwood and have them freeze me again. Rhydian and Llinos will be so pleased." He tried to laugh, but it came out broken. "You won't even notice I'm gone. It'll be an hour, tops."
"That'll be sixty four years for you."
"I'll be asleep for most of it. And then you can wake me up. Come on, tell me you've never wanted to do the Prince Charming routine." His tone was light, but the worry was back on his face, and Ianto warmed to the idea that this was worry for him, that Jack was concerned Ianto would be hurt.
"How will I know where you are?"
"You pick the drawer. Name one that should be empty, and I'll go into that one. Then, right after I go through the Rift, you open me up. If you're fast enough, we might have time before the others get back."
"Not even your metabolism can manage an erection right after coming out of the freezer." This was actually going to happen. Jack was going to jump back through time again.
Jack laughed, and his eyes were a little less sad. "I'll take that as a challenge. Which drawer?"
Ianto thought. "43. No, 44. I know 43 is empty."
"Did we empty it recently?"
"No, I cleaned it. 43 is, um, my drawer." He looked away from Jack, who'd lost the smile. "For when the time comes. I wanted to make sure it wouldn't be much trouble to get one ready. I've mentioned it in my file." Perhaps therapy wasn't such a bad idea.
Jacks's lips went to Ianto's head. He paused, like he was going to say something, and then let out a breath. "Drawer 44. I'll let them know."
He wanted to beg Jack not to do this, to remind him that the last time he looped, he woke up five minutes too late to save Tosh, and Ianto could not stand to lose someone else. Jack's lips moved from his head to meet Ianto's mouth, and in reply, he kissed him deeply and softly and sweetly, like a promise that wasn't a lie.
It was with a strange electricity that Phil sat in the car. Such a whirlwind trip to the future, and now they were going back, except Fletcher was staying and Jack was going. He'd only caught a glimpse of the report, the one that listed Fletcher as MIA, but it had been enough. The future, the past, it all came clear, and when his father pulled him aside and explained the plan, Phil had felt a weird peace move through him, like this was right, and proper, and the way things had always been meant to happen.
He met Jack's eyes in the mirror. The doctor was coming with them to the safe house to check over Fletcher again, but her eyes were focused out the window, either lost in her own world or pretending to give them some privacy.
"It's going to be soon, isn't it?"
Jack's eyes flicked away.
"A couple of weeks? Days?"
Jack was quiet for a long time. "A little over a week."
Phil let out his breath, the feeling of a hard destiny closing in around him. Eight days, maybe nine, and it was war, and he'd known this would come. "Thanks."
"For telling you when you're going to die?"
"That. And for being there with me when I do." For the goodbye.
The doctor glanced over from her seat, staring for a moment at Jack before returning to her inspection of the world outside.
When they arrived at the safe house, the lads were full of questions: why were they going back so soon, why was Jack going with them?
"It's all right," Jack said, one of his better faked smiles at the ready. "I'm going back. I can avoid myself for a while, and get on with my life once the other me comes through." Stibbs's face was aglow.
Phil took Fletcher aside as the others chatted and got ready to leave. "You're going to be in good hands here. Dr. Jones will explain things to you once we've gone." And Jack would be there to help, but he couldn't tell anyone that, not the greatest secret of his life.
Fletcher looked lost. "I want to go back with you. The war's not over."
"For you it is. But this is good, yeah? New world to explore. You always loved those pulp novels about the spaceships and the aliens, and I couldn't tell you back then, but they're real, and you'll get to see them all." Fletcher didn't have any family left to speak of, so that was a blessing. He placed a hand on Fletcher's shoulder. "You're meant to stay."
"I'll never see you fellows again."
Phil looked at Jack. A little over a week. "No, you won't. You'll be here, long after the rest of us are dead and gone, and you'll have to remember us. That's the duty of the one who lives." He met Fletcher's eyes kindly. "Are you up for that mission, Corporal?"
Fletcher's voice was a whisper. "I'll do my best."
Gwen tried not to worry as she drove to the site. Jack would be fine, more than fine. Clad in a vintage uniform, he looked the part convincingly. Something about him always shone out when he dressed for that era, as though he'd been born to live there, time and time again.
"I don't like this," Johnson said, beside her.
"I'm sure he'll be fine."
Johnson turned, her semi-permanent scowl firmly in place. "There's no question of that. I don't have as much faith in the timeline. Captain Harkness has proven he's not averse to changing the timeline to suit himself. We could be looking at a serious breach."
"He knows better. He just wants to be there for his son at the end. We'd all do the same."
From the backseat, Lois said, "When did the Captain rewrite the timeline?"
"Oh," said Gwen. "There was a year that went a bit differently from what we all remember. Ask Martha about it some time." Not that Martha ever said much, either. "I think we died, all of us, but Jack put it to rights."
As Gwen pulled up, she saw Jack's car and parked beside it. He'd gone by the safe house with Martha, who would stay there with Fletcher and get him started on a proper transition to the twenty-first century. The four men stood at the site, waiting. Jack looked completely natural with the others, his face glowing in anticipation. He touched Phil's arm, then walked over.
Ianto had run out of busy work, for once, and went down to the morgue to pace. Jack had said to give him about an hour. It had been forty five minutes. Logically, if the time loop happened, it had always happened, so Jack was already in the drawer.
Jack had spent over a hundred years in a drawer. If he'd come out early, Tosh might still be alive.
Ianto tapped an unhappy rhythm on his trouser leg.
Lois checked the readings on her scanner. The Rift opening was imminent. No-one asked.
Jack said to Gwen, "If everything goes according to plan, you won't even miss me. If for some reason it doesn't, you're in charge until I get back."
Gwen nodded. No surprise there, but perhaps he'd said it so Johnson and Lois both could hear. Presumably Ianto already knew from prior experience, and Martha wasn't staying.
The scanner hummed. The Rift would open in about one minute.
Jack glanced over. "How long?"
Lois thought fast. "Eight more minutes."
"Okay. Johnson, you take the SUV back. Gwen, you can drive my car." He handed her the keys. "Pick up Martha and Perry and take them to the Hub. We can get started on setting up Perry's new life. Lois?"
"I'll need you to ... "
The scanner went wild.
Forty seven minutes was long enough to wait. He could bring Jack out of stasis, kiss him awake as Jack had suggested, and everything would be back to normal.
"What the hell?" Jack said, spinning to face the place where the Rift crackled with energy.
"Sorry," Lois said, horror on her face. "It spiked."
Phil and the others were already fading. Jack sprinted towards them.
The drawer slid out smoothly. Ianto stared at the empty tray.
"No!" Jack shouted, feeling the remnant energy charge him, but not enough, never enough. Phil called out to him, tried to say something, was gone.
Jack touched only air.
Ianto shut the door with a clang. Heart racing, mind numb, he opened drawer 43 on a gamble.
Inside, there was nothing but a folded note.
Gwen saw the moment when Jack's heart broke, and she mourned for his sake. One last chance, and he'd lost it forever. "I'm so sorry," she said, when he finally wrenched his gaze away from where Phil had been standing. She took his arm, gave him a half-hug. She'd only lost the idea of a child today. She couldn't imagine what Jack was going through now.
"I thought it would work," he said hollowly.
Johnson took the scanner from Lois's hands, glancing at it. "The Rift is closed again. There's nothing left here." She let the statement hang in the air, but Jack said nothing.
"Let's go home," Gwen said.
Ianto rubbed his temples and sighed. He'd spent the last three hours building the scaffolding of a history for Perry Fletcher (born 1986, parents recently deceased, good school records, steady if unimaginative work history, and five faked photographs at various ages including his passport photo). He'd need job training and lessons in how the world had changed, and Ianto was sure he and Lois would end up saddled with both tasks.
Fletcher was currently shadowing Gwen as she finished up her own reports. His attention, though, kept being drawn to the work bench Johnson was using to poke at a bit of alien tech they'd found last week. "What's that?" he kept asking, as she set aside parts. "That looks like … " He frowned. "That changes something into something else, doesn't it?"
Johnson kept shooting him annoyed looks every time he spoke. Ianto got up from his station and went closer. "I believe so. Jack says it's a matter converter."
Fletcher nodded. "That makes sense."
"It does?" asked Johnson, disbelief heavy on her features.
"Sure. See how this bit goes?" Fletcher began waving his hands near the device, never actually touching it. Ianto watched him, watched how his face lit up as he tried to find words about this shiny new toy that he'd clearly never seen before but still understood.
Gwen tilted her head oddly, and she met Ianto's eyes, raising her own eyebrows.
Ianto shrugged, but a smile tipped the edges of his mouth. Fletcher would have to be trained from the ground up, but he'd be trained within Torchwood, among all their amazing technology and with Tosh's meticulous records. There were worse ways to find new people, especially now that they'd also need a new doctor.
His smile grew. Martha was going to be a mother. Something good was coming out of this place.
In his pocket, he kept the note safe. His name had been on the front, and he'd opened it as the voices came over the comms telling him that the mission had failed, that Jack was coming home the regular way. In Jack's unmistakeable handwriting, Ianto had read, "Everything is going to be okay. I love you. - CJH" There was also a scribbled word at the bottom which Ianto couldn't make out, something hasty that looked like "Spinach". Possibly the paper had been part of a shopping list.
Jack hadn't written the note yet. Jack would loop again someday, or drop back, and he would remember drawer 43 and leave a love letter behind. Every time Ianto thought about it, he tried not to grin from ear to ear.
There was a knock on his door. Jack didn't even look up. "Come in."
Martha let herself inside. "Hi."
He managed a smile for her. "I'm going to have to work on my jokes. What are baby nightingales called anyway?"
"This one's going to be called Sarah. At least, that's what Tom wants."
She sighed. "When I figure that out, I'll let you know." She sat down opposite him, and he took her hand gently. From the moment he'd met her, he'd loved Martha more than a little bit. She'd become the sister he'd never known he needed. She squeezed his hand. "Are you going to be all right?"
"Everyone keeps asking me that," he said. "I will be. I've done this before." He made a face, thinking about the people he'd buried. Quietly, he said, "Sometimes, I … " Out in the Hub proper, he could hear the others talking. Gwen was saying something, and Ianto was laughing, and his heart ached just thinking about them. How long until he opened drawer 43, alone and in pain and full of grief? How long until Gwen was gone?
He'd closed his heart, kept it safe, or tried. Care about people, but not too much. Allow them in, but only so far. Don't let himself fall in love. None of these plans had worked, but he tried.
"I don't think I can keep doing this."
"Losing people you love?"
He looked out the window, and then back at her. "Yeah. And I have to. This is my life, forever and ever. Any time I care about someone, I know it'll end the same way. I've got other kids. One of them is going to die soon. Alice says she already looks older than I do. And it's always going to be this way. Come the end of the universe, I'll be out there on some rock watching the last of the human race shoot off for a Utopia that doesn't exist, and I'll just keep going. Alone."
Martha's face twisted. Damn, he hadn't meant to lay that particular pain on her. Then she said, "He never told you."
"Him." Her face was set.
"A long time from now, so long that even the Earth is gone, billions of years in the future, you're going to die saving a whole world. A real death."
He looked at her strangely. "What?"
"People who love you are going to be with you. The Doctor and I, we're going to be there beside you. But," she tiptoed around her words, "you're going to change. You're going to look different, and we won't know who you are, not really. You can't tell us. But it was you. I know it was you."
His world tilted, and only the fact that he held onto his chair kept him from falling. "I'm really going to die some day?" She nodded, a spill of tears edging her eyes. "Promise?" She nodded again.
He swept around his desk and lifted her into the air, mindful of not squishing the new member of her family. He set her down again and kissed her on the head. "Thank you."
He grabbed her hand and hurried down the stairs to the rest of the Hub, slowing only enough so that he didn't drag her off her feet. Martha laughed as she ran with him, and he finally let her go at the bottom of the stairs. He made a beeline for the others, and without preamble, he took Gwen into a hug, and then he clapped Johnson on the arm, and the same to poor confused Perry, and then he pressed up as closely to Ianto as he could and kissed him. Ianto's mouth was surprised open, and Jack took his time, what time he had - he had time now! limited and wonderful! - and held Ianto as the kiss was returned in full measure. They finally broke for breath, foreheads resting against one another like two halves of an arch.
"I'm going to die!" Jack announced, a bit breathless.
"What?" said Ianto. "Right now?"
"Nope. In billions of years. So we've got some time to kill."
From behind him, Jack heard Gwen say, "How do you know?"
Martha said, "A little bird told him."
The cog door opened, and Lois came in from where she'd been working in the Tourist Centre. "Did I miss something?" she asked, as Jack took the opportunity to kiss Ianto again.
"I'm going to miss him," Jack said. It was the first he'd spoken in about an hour. The initial elation at finding out he came with an expiration date had settled back into his previous melancholy. Ianto had taken his own paperwork up to Jack's office in order to spend time with him and be a listening ear if he needed one, and also to reassure himself that Jack was no longer going away.
At Jack's words, Ianto glanced at the form he was working on and set it down to one side. "Yes. You are. And so are we." He didn't want to ask if Jack wanted to talk. Jack talked when he was ready, and that was that.
"When he was a little boy, he was never afraid of anything. Frank would always shy away from climbing trees or jumping in head first when they went swimming. But Phil loved it."
"He kept his memories." Ianto hadn't thought about it until the words came out. "We never Retconned him or the others. They remembered being here, remembered about you."
"Phil and Mark didn't live to tell anyone. Jason thought I was a Rift refugee anyway."
"But Phil remembered you, that you were going to go with him. He knew that you loved him."
Jack's eyes crinkled in thought, and for a moment, Ianto saw where the wrinkles would form, millennia from now. "Yeah. I guess he did."
Self-satisfied, Ianto sat back. Jack returned to his quiet thoughts, gradually scooting his chair over to his window. Classic Harkness work avoidance technique. Ianto chose not to call him on it, not this time.
"Interesting," Jack said, after a while.
Ianto put down his paperwork again and went over to where Jack spied on their co-workers. Gwen was chatting with Martha, likely over babies again. Johnson was sitting at her station, looking up something on her computer. Fletcher was at the station they hadn't yet designated as his, and Lois was beside him. She leaned near him, eyes on what he was doing, but drifting back to his with quick, shy smiles. "Is she flirting with him?"
"Do you want to give him the standard 'If you break her heart, we'll shoot out your kneecaps' speech, or shall I?" Part of him thought he ought to be jealous. Part of him probably was.
"Save it. Keep it for later. Perry's a good guy." That was the nicest thing Jack had said about Fletcher yet. But it was going to be hard for a while on Jack, thinking about might have beens, and Ianto would give him space. "So, office betting pool time. What kind of odds do you give them?"
Ianto thought, but only for a brief moment. "A military man lost in time and a stunningly attractive personal assistant? It'd never work out."
The boys had left about an hour ago, allthe boys: Jack and Ianto were going to drop off Perry at the safe house on their way home. His new flat would be available next week, and in the meantime, he could have a semi-familiar space in which to continue his acclimation to this strange new world.
Lois smiled. He was so full of questions, only a few of which she could answer. But he seemed nice, a bit old-fashioned as could be expected, and he was good-looking in a more subdued way than their movie-star marquee Captain. Perry had made a joke that he was the only person he knew, other than Phil, who'd never had any interest in sleeping with Jack; Ianto had drawn up employment papers on the spot. Lois had already agreed to take him on a tour of the city tomorrow.
Gwen had just left, affectionately prodding Lois to do the same. Lois would finish up one last item Jack had requested, perhaps do a quick bit of sniffing in the records to add to her knowledge, and head home. It was a good day.
Which was somewhat ruined by the click of a safety and the muzzle of a gun pressed to the back of her head. Her mouth went dry. No matter now how she'd been found out, the important tasks now were assuaging suspicion and staying alive.
"Who are you working for?"
Ah. This was going to be easier than she'd dared hope. She could even explain away the CCTV glitch later. "The same as you." Lois kept calm, kept her eyes in front of her, kept her voice steady. "Gloucester."
Agent Johnson said, "You could have got that from the surveillance you've been keeping on me." The gun didn't move.
"I could have. But then I wouldn't know that his orders have all come through Mr. Frobisher, because he has not contacted you even once since you were found out."
"They sent me."
"And they knew you'd attract attention, which is why they sent me." She turned, set her face into her best slightly scared but willing to serve doe-eyed secretary mien. "I'm sweet, and quiet, and people like me."
Johnson lowered the gun, and she smirked. "I thought you were too perky to be real. Cooper swallowed that completely. I'm less sure about Harkness."
Lois was sure, but she didn't need to tell Johnson why. "How did you know?"
"You lied at the site yesterday. About the time the Rift was opening. Why?"
"My job is to observe and report, and to intervene when possible. Jack was planning to subvert the timeline for his own ends. That could have been disastrous. I saw the opportunity to prevent the plan, and I took it." She tried not to think about the hurt on Jack's face as he watched Harrison vanish. "Are you going to turn me in to them?"
"God, no. My mission hasn't changed. Her Majesty's Fuckups have too much power and not nearly enough oversight. Captain Harkness is a person of interest in the murders of the American President and Harold Saxon. His willingness to subvert or ignore the orders of the government has been well-established. The Crown protects them, but someone has to protect the world fromthem. If they go against orders, if they sacrifice the interests of the British people and the world for their own ends, someone has to step in."
They would, Lois knew with an unhappy shiver. Jack would be told something he didn't want to hear, and he'd follow his own head, and Gwen and Ianto were far too caught up in him to stop him. The only real questions were what would be the breaking point, and when would Lois be obligated to follow her own orders?
"Prevent situations when possible, take down the team if necessary."
Johnson said, "I've come up with some scenarios which might be able to contain the Captain. The others can be captured or killed." Lois leaned towards the former. Their previous doctor had been a wealth of information about incapacitating drugs, at least before he'd been given a specially-laced cup of coffee and sent home for good. Lois had been more circumspect around Martha, but then, Martha wouldn't be handed Retcon at the end of her tenure.
"We'll want allies."
"Your new friend is already a member of the Harkness Cult." Johnson leaned over Lois's shoulder and typed a name on her screen. Lois had been collating a list of potential new doctors for the team once Martha left. "I spent months trying to get this one in. They'd never accept a nomination from me."
"I'll move him to the top of the pile." Patanjali was already on their list of potential new doctors. Lois would see to it that he was hired.
Johnson smiled tightly. "Good girl."
In the darkness of her cell, she told herself stories.
Once upon a time, there was an evil wizard who made the world love him. He was handsome and charismatic, and to seal the spell he'd cast, he wooed and married a lovely princess, and promised her that he would set her as the Queen of the whole universe. She believed him, and she loved him, and she watched as he ripped holes in time, and she stood by as he murdered millions, and the spell in her head said it was right.
But there was a good wizard, who worked his own quiet magic as the Earth burned slowly, unwriting the spell in the people and in the princess. He sent one knight out into the world to weave a counterspell on his behalf, and a second knight hung in chains, singing defiantly even as the evil wizard plucked out his heart and murdered the people he loved. Imprisoned with them were a beautiful maiden and her parents, subject to the evil wizard's wrath but shielded from the worst of it by his vow to destroy them in front of the wandering knight. Nothing shielded the princess. When the enchantment was broken, the world recreated, and the dead set to walk again, the last of his wicked spells guided the princess's hand, but she chose to pull the trigger in memory of all he'd done, to the world and to her.
Stories needed tidy endings, and the people were told the princess drank a poison draught and died by her own hand just a few days later. Instead, her gaolers changed her name and cut her hair and bundled her here, locking her up tight in a tower, or a dungeon, she could not tell which, and they said, "We are keeping you here forever and no-one will ever know."
She hoped the other prisoners found their happy endings.
But she remembered songs in the dark nights, remembered the stories he told to keep up their spirits, after his friends were safely, bitterly dead. She'd seen the Millennium Centre targeted with Harry's bombs, and she knew the tales of a tatty little tourist office along the quay. She could get out one message, just one, in the hands of a soft-hearted guard, and while the addressee had no reason at all to like her, to help her, to even care, she had no other to ask.
"Please. I'm alive. Help me. Lucy."
AN: The next story in this series is "The Charm's Wound Up"