Death Apologizes

Author: Milady Dragon

Disclaimer: Nope, not mine, but it's a really good plot I think.

Author's Note: Another one that's not so Gwen Friendly, so be warned, okay? I wrote this ages ago for the Anti-Gwen Alliance over on LiveJournal. It's crack also, just so you know, and also a fix-it and doesn't fit into my Armageddon-Verse.

Death met Jack Harkness at a ratty roadside café just off I-75, somewhere in Ohio.

He glanced around the place and made a note to come back when he was less depressed. As it was, if Death could commit suicide over the general grossness of the place he would do it with his own scythe, right then and there.

He found his quarry in one of the back booths, torturing himself by drinking what passed for coffee in the place. Death rested his scythe against the well, carefully tucking his robes around his skeletal body as he slid in opposite the immortal. This was the first time he'd ever actually met the man in person, although Death had had at least one Angel following Harkness around for centuries. He might not be able to die, but those around him were fair game.

No, that wasn't exactly true. Which was why he was there.

Harkness glanced up, apparently not surprised to find the Avatar of Death sitting at the same gritty booth as he was. If he was honest with himself, he would have said that the man looked like Death Warmed Up, which was quite one of his favorite sayings.

"Look," Harkness said, "if you're waiting for me, you've got a long time to do it."

The waitress came round to ask Death what he wanted; a bony hand waved her away, even as he was nudging that cancerous growth in her stomach to grow just a little faster. "Believe me, Captain," he answered, "if I could grant you final release, I would. But honestly, the Doctor really screwed you up, my friend." He had a pack of Angels traveling with the Doctor now, and sometimes Death didn't think it was enough. He'd had to pull in every bit of help he could find when Gallifrey went up.

Harkness actually chuckled, although it sounded more like he was clearing his throat. "You have to admit, it's a little bizarre for Death to be sitting here and calling me 'friend'."

"These are bizarre circumstances." If Death could have sighed, he would have. "I've come to apologize."

An eyebrow went up. "Apologize? To me? What the hell for?"

This was the hard part. Because, it really wasn't Death's fault; it was simply the way things were, and there's been no choice. "To apologize for all the grief I've had to cause you lately. It was never my intention, I promise. Circumstances…were beyond my control."

Harkness snorted. "I see. And what could possibly be beyond Death's control?"

Oh, Universe and fluffy bunnies…he was going to have to admit the whole thing. "Gwen Cooper."

The immortal stiffened. "What about her? You going to take her, too?"

"That's just it…I can't."

"What do you mean by that?" Harkness scoffed. "If you're going to tell me she's immortal – "

"No, she isn't…but she may as well be." Death really didn't want to go there, but thinking about it he really did owe the man an explanation. "All right…first of all, I'm not the only Avatar out there. There are all sorts of us: Time, Space, Pain, Pleasure, Order…and Chaos. And we're dealing with Chaos here, mucking about in things she shouldn't be."

Harkness took another sip of the coffee, and Death could see his immortal digestive system fighting off the bacteria from the dirty cup. "Well?"

"Chaos got it into her head to mess with the Universal balance. To do that, she picked someone fairly ordinary and…played, a bit. Made her so very lucky that nothing sticks."

"And this is Gwen?"

"I'm afraid so."

Harkness rolled his eyes. "I always knew she was far too lucky for her own good…"

Death nodded. "She was on my list for collection after that incident with Suzie. You were supposed to capture Suzie…and rehabilitate her. Gwen wasn't even supposed to be in Torchwood, but because Chaos interfered with things, Suzie died and Gwen was saved. And it just keeps going on. Do you have any idea how galling it is? To know you're supposed to collect a specific person's soul, and then something happens and someone else dies in her place?"

"I can imagine. So, you're saying a bunch of people who shouldn't have died, did because she's basically untouchable?"

"I'm afraid so, yes. It just gets worse, too…"

"Tosh? Owen?" Harkness swallowed. "Ianto? Steven?"

Death nodded. "Well, Owen was always going to be a servant of mine, but that didn't turn out at all the way it was meant to. By the way…that wasn't me trying to kill all those people at that hospital. Some beings just have a megalomaniacal streak a galaxy wide. But the others…no. None of them were meant to die. In fact, Ianto and Steven dying have really cocked things up."

Harkness sat up straighter, looking a bit more like the Captain than he had ever since the incident with the 456. "In what way?"

"Well…Fate was telling me that Steven was meant to become someone important in the founding of Earth's first lunar colony. As for Ianto…well, let's just say if he'd lived another year you would never have lost him again."

Harkness' mouth dropped open. "Immortal? Ianto?"

"Yes. And Time was quite pissed off about it, too. She'd had it all planned out, as a reward to you for all your service to her, but then Chaos screwed things up. So you see, it's not just me she's gotten on the bad side of."

"That bitch!"

"Well, the rest of us Avatars used ruder terms, but essentially yes."

"Does Gwen know?"

Death nodded. "Oh yes. She's firmly in Chaos' pocket. In fact, the next victim is going to be her husband, so the way is clear for her to admit her undying love for you."

Harkness went green. Death wondered if projectile vomit would come out of his robes. He'd have to consult Ianto about that…

Luckily, he didn't have to ask. Harkness seemed to regain control. "So…what are we going to do about it?"

If Death could have blanched, he would have. "What do you mean?"

"How can we stop Chaos from using Gwen anymore? Put things right?"

Well, now Death should have expected this. If there was one thing Jack Harkness was, it was a hero. Of course he'd want to fix things.

"As I said, I have no power over Chaos – "

"Then who does? And how do I find them?"

Death shook his head. "You don't understand – "

"The enlighten me. Because I'm going to do something about it, since you and your Avatars can't seem to police your own ranks."

"Gwen made a deal with Chaos," Death explained. "Such a deal is inviolate unless the parties involved do something to break the contract."

"And what sort of deal did Gwen offer?" Harkness demanded.

Death really wanted breath to sigh. He really did…

Harkness had arranged to meet with Gwen on a hill overlooking Cardiff, ostensibly to see her before leaving Earth. Death stood nearby, confident that he wouldn't be seen by the approaching woman and her husband.

It was at times like this when he really wished he could read human minds. Because he wanted more than anything to know what Harkness planned.

Although, if whatever it was worked, then Chaos would be stopped…at least until she found another devotee. But he was hopeful that he and his fellow Avatars might be able to stop her from doing as much damage next time.

"Do you really think you can stop me?"

Death turned. He had expected Chaos to see him, and wasn't surprised that she was there to find out what was going on. "I don't intend to stop you," he answered.

Chaos looked confused. "Then why are you here?"

He glanced over to where Jack was greeting Gwen Cooper and Rhys Williams. So, the immortal had been right about her bringing her husband along. Death would have bet good money that Gwen would have shown up alone, the better to vamp him without interference. "I'm just here to watch the show. I have to admit; you've really outdone yourself this time, sister."

Chaos looked very pleased with herself. "Gwen Cooper was perfect. Meant to be ordinary, but I made sure she was involved in world-altering situations. She was so eager, and such a dupe. I've enjoyed using her to upset the Universal balance."

"Yes, you have. The human race has been damaged by your meddling."

"She was more than willing to help me, to get what she wanted."

"I'm aware of that." Oh, Death wished he had lips, so he could smirk. Chaos was concentrating on him, and not paying attention to the conversation in front of them.

In fact, she only noticed what was going on when Harkness left in a blaze of light.

Oh, and Gwen Cooper's scream really helped.

Chaos looked very put out.

"You promised me!" the woman was practically shrieking. "You promised me Jack would stay!"

Her husband was looking a bit gobsmacked. "Who the hell are you talking to?"

Death laughed. "You'd better see to your partner, Chaos. It looks like your luck has run out."

As the Avatar appeared to Gwen, Death did the same to Rhys Williams. He motioned the man over to him, and he came, his surprise written all over his features and yet seeming pretty calm about seeing a seven foot tall skeleton swathed completely in black and holding a scythe gesturing to him to join it.

"So," he said, "you'd be Death then?"

Oh, Death adored the Welsh pragmatism. "I am."

"Then maybe you can explain what the hell is going on?"

"I'll be glad to." He told Rhys exactly who Chaos was, and what she was presently doing arguing with his wife. He didn't withhold anything, thinking this poor dupe deserved the truth. "I am sorry," he finished.

"Not your fault, mate," Williams answered. "Can't help it if my wife made a deal that got people killed."

"You're accepting this awfully well."

He shrugged. "I always knew something was up, but I didn't know what. She changed after she joined Torchwood, but I thought it was something else, like an affair or something."

"If it makes you feel any better," Death said, as the screaming match between Gwen and Chaos got even louder, "Captain Harkness never touched her…as much as she might have wanted him to."

"Yeah, figured he mostly was all talk. Besides, even I could see how much he loved Ianto. Nothing was coming between those two…well, except for you, of course. No offence."

"None taken." Death was finding himself quite liking this human. "And it wasn't my choice."

"So…what happens now?"

"Well, since Chaos didn't keep her side of the bargain your wife made with her, by freeing up Jack Harkness so he could be with her, then the contract is null and void. The moment Harkness left the Earth, he left Gwen's reach. No immortal, no deal. Even if it didn't originally start that way, that's how it ended."

The two stood there and watched as the argument descended into a catfight, although it wasn't very fair with Gwen being pregnant. Rhys decided he rather wanted a baby, so he waded into the tussle and pulled her out of it. "Your luck's run out," he told her. "Fight like that and you'll lose the baby."

"Rhys," she whined, "it's not what you think – "

"You mean it's not you making a deal with some sort of eternal being in order for you to get what you want?"

Gwen's mouth opened, then closed. But she didn't answer.

"Yeah, thought that. You've always been a bit selfish, but honestly…" He took her by the arm and pulled her down the hill, leaving Death and Chaos to sort things out.

"You've caused enough trouble, Chaos," Death said solemnly. "It's time you faced up to what you've done."

"Like the others are going to punish me!"

"You've ruined the plans of at least half our number, and the other half are willing to let things run their course if only to get the Universe back under control. So don't think pulling your 'poor little me' act is going to work."

Chaos pouted. In that moment she looked very much like a certain Gwen Cooper.

The café on Altaris Prime was almost worse than the one on Earth, where this whole thing started.

Death promptly killed three rats just by looking at them as he made his way toward Jack Harkness' table. Death hated rats with a passion.

"Well," Harkness said, as Death sat, "this is certainly familiar."

"Is the coffee as bad?"


"Then I'll pass." Death looked at his favorite immortal. If anything, his demeanor was worse than before. "It wasn't your fault."

"Yeah, that makes it so much better."

"Chaos would have chosen her whether you were in charge of Torchwood or not. It was…just luck."

"I used to not believe in luck…until I almost met her."

"You missed a great fight," Death chuckled. "But," he sobered, "I'm here because you did a real favor to me and to the others, and we wanted to thank you. Taking yourself off Earth like that, in order to break the contract…"

Harkness shrugged. "It wasn't too bad, really. I didn't want to stay anyway."

"Be that as it may, it was very much appreciated." Death stood, putting his hand on Harkness' shoulder. He was the only human Death could touch and not kill immediately. "Come with me."

"Where to?" Harkness got to his feet reluctantly.

"It's a surprise."

"It better not be like the last one I got. The Doctor might be brilliant, but he doesn't know anything about matchmaking…"

Death led the way out of the café, casually pickling someone's liver and tearing another's heart valve slightly. He made sure Harkness was following, not wanting to lose the immortal in the spaceport's crowds.

They didn't go far, which was a good thing because Harkness' grumbling would have been getting on Death's nerves, if he had any. The hotel was just down the street from the café, and luckily was a bit tidier and hygienic. Death didn't actually do anything to anyone in the lobby, but as they passed into the lift a gentleman on the third floor died while having sex with an Alpha Centaurian. Death sent an Angel to collect the man's soul, all while admiring the drape of his robes in the mirrored walls of the lift.

The pair got off on the fifth floor, and it was at that point Harkness spoke. "Not that I don't appreciate it, but I'm really not in the mood…"

If Death had had eyes, he would have rolled them. "You're not my type."

"I'm a man?"

"No…you're alive."

"Ah. Kinky."

Death didn't dignify that with an answer. Instead, he used the keycard he'd gotten from the concierge downstairs – and didn't he love alien one questioned a walking skeleton needing a room – to open the door. He pushed it open with his scythe, guiding Harkness inside.

He got the very distinct pleasure of seeing Jack Harkness struck silent.

"We thought you deserved a reward," Death answered the unspoken question. "And before you ask…yes, Steven is back with his mother. We couldn't go this far and leave him out."

Harkness didn't answer…he was too busy wrapped up in a four-way hug with his team…Tosh, Owen, and, of course Ianto.

Death left them to it, shutting the door behind him.

Ah yes. There were times when Death got such a rush of job satisfaction.