30th January 2030
Camilla sighed as she finally made it to the large storage unit. It was pouring down with rain and she was soaked to the skin but Jack had demanded that she go and drop off the last of Karl's boxes. They'd been moving them from his flat into the large unit for the past week and this was the final load. She stopped outside the door and began to place them on the damp ground while still singing along to the music that was playing in her ear. Of course it was so loud that she couldn't hear the man that was approaching behind her.
"Move your taste of your lips down monorail. Your toxic guns slipping…"
"Excuse me! MISS!" She jumped as the distinct welsh accent penetrated through her music. Jack always said that her classic noughties pop would be the death of her. The team always said that she'd be too wrapped up listening to Britney or Kylie to even hear a weevil approaching behind her. This seemed to just prove her point.
She yanked the invisible headphone out of her ear and turned to face the man who had just spoken. A man, who looked to be in late fifties, was stood just a few feet away from her. His hair was grey and thinning on top and there was clear evidence of a beer gut underneath the faded blue shirt that he wore. He appeared to be growing a beard that really didn't suit him if she was honest. It was his eyes that caught Camilla's attention the most though. Their colour was indistinguishable to her, not quite any shade that she recognised. On first glance they appeared to be green but there were elements of blue and grey and even purple – it was like every colour was present in his eyes.
She shivered slightly and averted her gaze so she was focused on his lips instead. She noticed that flecks of spit flew from his mouth as he spoke and she wrinkled her nose slightly in disgust.
"I was wondering if you needed any help." He gestured to the four overflowing boxes that were leant against the large entrance to the storage facility. "A young girl like yourself can't handle all that." She groaned internally. The last thing she needed was another man thinking that she was a helpless victim. That was how she had met Jack, defending herself against a perverted man that insisted upon helping her up to her flat and inviting himself in for 'coffee.' She smirked slightly at the memory before glaring at the man who was giving her a distinctly disgusting look. She wouldn't be surprised if he started drooling in a minute.
"I'm alright thanks. I can manage"
"No really, let me help." He strode past her and bent to pick up one of the boxes. A sudden burst of anger flared up in her and she harshly pushed him out of the way.
"I said to leave it!" She knew that her eyes had become black as they always did when she became angry. Her breathing was heavy and erratic and this time she held the old man's gaze.
"That's what that welsh brunette was like," he muttered quietly under his breath. "Refusing to let me help with any of the boxes. Her and that one in the suit did it all. Never did find out what was in them, wouldn't let me in. What are you lot doing in there? Every year or so one of you turns up with a different box. Never see the same one though, always a different person. Except for the man in the greatcoat, he's always coming and he never looks any different." He walked away from her, still muttering under his breath, but his last words ran through Camilla's head. A welsh brunette? A man in a suit? She knew that the man in the greatcoat was Jack; who else walked around in period military dress? All the team were aware of the fact that Jack never aged and never died. It had been a shock the first time that they found out – seeing your boss shot through the head and coming back is a bit of a surprise. However they'd all adjusted to it. They knew that he'd been in Torchwood for years, long before any of them were born, but he always refused to speak about it. They'd tried, hell they all had, but it was like drawing blood from a stone. He clamped up and refused to mention anyone who had been at Torchwood. But they all knew that sometimes Jack would come down here to lose himself in the memories that he never wanted to share.
Sighing, Camilla began to pick up the boxes, her mind still focused on the brunette and the man in the suit that the man had mentioned. There hadn't ever been anyone at Torchwood that she knew like that. She was the only Welsh person on the team, which was something that Adam constantly teased her about. And she was pretty sure that she wouldn't find suits in either of the boys' flats.
And that's when it hit her. It wasn't boys anymore, just boy – Adam. Karl was dead and he wasn't coming back. These were the last of his boxes and when she shut the door of the storage unit then it really would be goodbye. He'd been shot two weeks ago and had died instantly. There'd been no chance to say goodbye or to tell him how she had felt about him. And that really hurt. She'd loved Karl, had done for three years, but she'd never had the courage to tell him. Instead she'd been a friend and had had a laugh with him. She'd refused to let her feelings come out and now it was too late. He was frozen in the morgue alongside the other fallen Torchwood officers. He'd be there until…until Torchwood fell and no longer existed. And she couldn't stand the fact that there was no grave for her to lay flowers at or to talk to, just a door among many doors.
She took a deep breath and felt the tears run down her face. She had thought that she had long since stopped crying over Karl but it appeared that there were still tears there. She knew she wasn't the first to lose someone without saying how they felt, but it still hurt. None of the team could understand how she felt, not really. Adam and Sophie had each other and Jack…well maybe Jack had lost someone but he never spoke about it. Instead he locked himself away in his office, filling out paperwork and making calls to the Prime Minister. He spoke to the team, led them and joked with them, but he never really opened up to them.
She began to place the different boxes up on the shelves that had been assigned to Karl, desperately trying not to think about what was inside. She really didn't need to route through old memories that would just be painful. She needed to focus her mind on something else, anything that wouldn't make her want to cry all over again. The last thing she wanted to do was run back to her flat and hide under her covers, sobbing her heart out over Karl – the man who never knew that she loved him.
She pushed the last box up on the shelf and took a step backwards and took in the sight before her. She shivered slightly, though she was unsure whether that was due to the cold that was being blown in through the door or the fact that Karl's whole life was in front of her. There, in front of her very eyes, were the numerous boxes labelled 'Karl Bennett: Torchwood Officer 693.' Everything from his apartment and desk at the hub were in those boxes. An entire life was now stuffed roughly into cardboard boxes and it was unlikely to ever be touched or seen again. She shivered once more as she wondered about how many other lives were in here; how many other people's belongings lay in this huge unit. She turned and stared down the dimly lit corridor that was piled high with huge boxes, all named but never touched.
She turned to walk away before glancing at her watch. Jack wouldn't expect her back at the hub for another hour or so and she had always wondered what the draw of this place was. He spent so many hours in amongst the memories and she couldn't deny that she was curious about those who had come before her. There must have been so many – being a Torchwood officer was hardly safe. And that was when she made her decision. She would only stay a little while, just to see who had died in the line of duty. She wouldn't prod or poke, it was personal, but she just wanted to see.
'Louise Adams: Torchwood Officer 683' Camilla remembered her. She had been the medic when she had first arrived. She'd died less than a month later, killed by a weevil.
'Tom Rogers: Torchwood Officer 644.' 'Marcus Elk: Torchwood Officer 621.' 'Rebecca Holloway: Torchwood Officer 985.' The names were becoming less and less familiar the further she walked. There were names that she had heard once or twice but soon even those stopped. The names on the boxes became just that, names. It seemed hard to believe that these were once people who had done the same job that she had, fought the same aliens that she had. But the reality was that one day she would be here too, her life placed in boxes that no one cared about. And that made her shiver more than she had before. It scared her that one day she would just be another forgotten officer. Right now she felt special and important – she was part of Torchwood. But all these people had been too. They had all been a member of Torchwood three at one point and had fought just like she did. They were no different to her.
She was about to turn and walk away when something caught her eye. She must have walked through twenty years of names but nothing had made her stop until now. There on the floor was a piece of paper – a photo. Scanning to make sure that Jack wasn't about to jump out and berate her, she bent to pick it up. It was lying face down on the dusty floor so she could read the writing on the back:
"Torchwood Three 2008.
Gwen. Ianto. Jack. Owen. Tosh."
It was written in thick black marker pen that had failed to fade over time and the writing was a lot neater than her own messy scrawl. She turned the photo over, noting that it had been taken over 20 years ago, and gazed at the image that had been captured forever. The colours were slightly faded but the picture was practically as clear as the day it was taken. There were five people in the photo and they were all grinning at the camera. She instantly recognised Jack in the middle, not looking any different. However the smile on his face was one that she had never seen before, he looked genuinely happy. He had one arm draped across one guy's shoulder and his other arm around the other man's waist. From what she could tell his hand was resting on the man's arse. From the names she knew this was Ianto and it seemed Ianto was smiling flirtily at both the camera and Jack. The other man was grinning cheekily at the camera and judging from the Japanese girl's expression, he'd just made a sarcastic comment. She had one arm raised to hit him but her eyes were still focused on the camera. The last woman was smiling broadly at the camera and Camilla could easily guess that it had been her idea to take the photo judging by the way she was unaware of the chaos next to her.
And then it hit her where she had seen this photo before, Jack's bedside:
"You need to sleep this off Jack. You're drunk," Camilla grunted as she tried to shove the captain down on to his bed. She'd been working late on a report when Jack had stumbled in. It was obvious from the stench of alcohol and the fact that he couldn't walk in a straight line that he was drunk She'd escorted him down into his bedroom and had successfully gotten his coat off. The challenge was just getting him to sleep.
"Anyone would think you were trying to get me into bed McEwan!" he slurred as he fell down onto the mattress. As he fell his arm flew out and knocked a photo off the nightstand. He flopped down onto the bed and didn't appear to notice the fall. Sighing she bent to pick it up. It was an image of a group of five people, including Jack, who were all grinning at the camera.
Before she had time to think he snatched it from her grasp and gazed at it.
"They were the best team I ever had you know?" He was speaking so quietly that he didn't appear to be speaking to her at all but she stayed and listened. "Was never the same after them, I never let myself get close to a team again. I loved them…all of them." He stopped speaking and his eyes shut. A moment later he was snoring. She sighed and tried to remove the picture from his grasp but he clung to it tightly. She shook her head and walked out of the room, leaving Jack to his dreams of a long gone team.
They'd never brought that conversation up and she wasn't sure if he even remembered it. But she had. Sometimes she had wondered about the team that Jack had praised. And for some reason she believed him when he said they were the best team he had had. She didn't know why but something told her that they were the only ones that he had ever been close to. His smile in the photo said it all, he never smiled like that anymore.
She stared at the rows of boxes and she realised who they belonged to. The first set was labelled 'Gwen Williams: Torchwood Officer 581' and she could guess that was where the picture had come from. Next was 'Ianto Jones: Torchwood Officer 574' and she couldn't help but notice that there weren't many boxes for him. Then there was 'Owen Harper: Torchwood Officer 565' and 'Toshiko Sato: Torchwood Officer 554.' She stood frozen in front of Gwen's boxes and struggled with the debate that raged inside of her. Could she really delve into these people's lives? She so wanted to know about the people that Jack had cared about and this seemed to be the only way. He would never know and she would never mention it to him. Plus it might help her deal with losing Karl. Throwing herself into someone else's life for just a short while.
She smiled slightly as she began to gaze through the boxes that had once belonged to Gwen. Most seemed to be filled with bits and pieces that had once decorated a house but then she found one that appeared to have once had been taped shut. The brown tape had been ripped away and then stuck back down but it was too old to seal it properly. The box was partly open and she knew this was the one. She heaved it down from the shelf and sat on the dusty floor with it open in front of her. It was time to see what was so special about this team.
A/N: This was an idea that came to me when I was writing another fic yesterday. I thought about writing it and this evening the plot bunny would not leave me alone so here it is. They'll be one chapter for Gwen, one for Ianto, one for Owen and one for Tosh. If you have any suggestions for what should be in their personal box that really highlights their life then please tell me in a review.
I'll try and update this and 'Happily Ever After?' a.s.a.p
Please review – a freshly baked cyber chocolate cake for all who do.