Disclaimer: Torchwood is not mine.
Prologue – Departures and Returns: "Tell Jack – tell Jack I – " Tell Jack she what? And with Ianto there... she couldn't say it. So she left it at that. Hart was rambling about last-minute rescues, but she knew they couldn't wait. So she leapt into the Rift, pulling Hart with her.
Jack and Owen arrived less than a minute after Hart and Gwen had gone. The look on Jack's face when he realized they were too late... none of them had seen him look like that before, and no one had any idea what to do about it. There wasn't anything they could do, in the end, because they couldn't change the past.
It burned. Oh God, couldn't it just be over already? Or maybe it was, and she was in Hell. Suzie had said death was cold black emptiness, but maybe it was different for each person? She'd always had nightmares about fire, about fire and something else, something... ghosts, or maybe zombies, a woman with blonde hair and a man with blue eyes... Oh God couldn't this stop?
And then, all of a sudden, it was over. She was lying on her back on what felt like grass, and she was almost certainly still alive. She didn't think being dead hurt this much. Every muscle ached, and her breath came out in a moan. "You're hurt worse than I expected," said a light male voice. She opened her eyes tiredly, looking up into chocolate brown eyes. The face was attractive, matching the eyes. He wore a pinstriped suit and a rather.. unusual smile. "Hello there Gwen Cooper. I'm the Doctor."
Two weeks after Gwen's disappearance – Jack would not say her death; he didn't think he could handle it – Martha Jones came to work for Torchwood. She arrived to a broken team. The loss of one of their own when it had been so unnecessary, the way Jack in particular was affected by it, had left them all shaken. Martha had seen this before, and she wasn't too worried about Owen, Tosh, or Ianto; they'd pull through. But Jack... she'd seen the man after a year at the Master's mercy, and only now did she see him as broken. Who had Gwen Cooper been to mean so much? And was she trying, once again, to step into shoes she could never fill?
"Are you sure about this?" Gwen asked uncertainly, looking at the Doctor.
"But it's been two years! What if – "
"It'll be two years there. It's supposed to be, Gwen, trust me. I'm a Time Lord; I can make sure of these things. But you have to go now, or it won't work, the timeline will be changed, and the universe will fall apart." She wondered how he could say all that so calmly.
She scowled at the man who'd popped in and out of her life for the past two years. He'd never stopped her from trying jump after jump, though obviously he'd known none of them would work. So she'd found herself in all sorts of times, from the Tudors to the pre-Roman days to the 1940s and Nazi bombs. Currently, it was the 60s, in San Francisco, which also had a Rift, albeit a far less active one. In keeping with the time, she wore a tie-dyed T-shirt and bellbottoms, with her hair loose and nearly waist-long. She drew the line at love beads, however. "No pressure then," she said irritably and jumped with his chuckle in her ears.
"OK, you're almost on top of it, guys," Tosh said over Owen's and Ianto's headsets. The two men were checking a sudden surge in Rift activity over in the park.
"Nearly on top of her, you mean," Ianto said as they rounded a corner and saw a woman lying face down on the ground. She wasn't moving around, but they could see she was breathing. "Looks like someone from the 60s."
"An American one at any rate," Owen agreed. "I wonder what she's doing here." He walked over and checked her pulse, though they knew she was alive. "Strong, steady pulse, she's just knocked out, I guess."
Back at the Hub, Tosh and Jack were at the console. Martha was nearby, listening. They heard rustling – presumably turning the woman over. Then – "Bloody Hell."
"Owen?" Jack snapped. "What is it?" There was no answer. "Owen!"
"Jack..." That was Ianto. "It's Gwen."
A/N: So, I hope you liked the intro. I promise, I'll start explaining things in the next chapter – though not everything, of course.