A/N – B L U N D E R !
Seems I managed to upload completely the wrong chapter ten, well done me! Never mind, here is the correct one, I apologise to all those I confused. Mental note – don't upload at 2am when you cant see straight...
This is the final chapter of this story. I hope you like it, and you're not too disappointed by the ending. I'm sorry it has taken so long to put it up, but life is one of those irritating constants that wont leave me alone! I'm hoping to write more stuff soon, but in the meantime thank you to EVERYONE who has taken the time to read, review and just to use this site. Much love to you all.
Loss Of Sensation
Chapter Ten -
The Maker and his Match
Jack had decided that the mortuary was the best place to do the deed, it being the easiest room in the Hub to clear up after blood was spilled after all. Leading a solemn Ianto up from the archives, he had grabbed his service revolver en route – 'Never failed me yet', he quipped – and was now sat on the edge of the mortuary bed.
Gwen had accompanied Jack and Ianto into the pit but, though in favor of the idea, had opted out of watching the event itself. 'I've watched you die too many times already Jack, it doesn't get any easier,' she had said as he hopped up onto the table. 'At least this time I have the choice.' Tosh, who was standing by the railings looking down, had agreed. Despite being able to dispose of bodies of all species without so much as a hair left behind, she too was clearly uncomfortable with watching her boss die. Again.
So with the girls now holed up in the recreation area, Ianto and Owen were left in the cold mortuary pit looking rather uncomfortable, both wanting to but neither able to excuse themselves.
Jack, feet swinging slightly as he perched on the edge of the bed, grinned widely at the pair of them, an expression far cheerier than either of them had seen over the past few days and completely inappropriate given the situation. Ianto had to admire the man, defiant and cheerful right up to every end he met.
'C'mon, stop looking so grim, the pair of you,' Jack said jovially. 'If this doesn't work, it doesn't work. I'll still come back to complain about it. We'll just have to find some other solution before I go completely insane, that's all. No problem.'
'Completely?' Owen questioned. 'There's more?'
'Always,' Jack winked.
Ianto attempted a smile in appreciation of the forced banter, but could feel the emotion stiff on his face despite the reassurances. Though part of him wanted to be as far away from this moment as possible, the need to be there for Jack was stronger. Not just because the man had requested it, but because the part of Ianto that was a control freak wanted to oversee it all, make sure everything went to the rather hastily concocted plan. Ianto didn't doubt Owen's capabilities or talent in any way, but did believe his bedside manner left a lot to be desired.
Exchanging a look with Owen, Ianto met Jack's eyes.
'Are you ready?' he asked, his voice sounding small in the echoing room.
Jack spread his arms briefly, inclining his head. 'Bring it on. And don't worry, I'll see you kids again in a minute.' Jack then looked at Ianto specifically. 'Make sure he'- he indicated Owen with a nod of his head- 'doesn't try to dissect me while I'm out.'
Owen opened his mouth to protest, but thought better of it, instead handing Jack the fully loaded gun that had been sitting on an instrument tray. Ianto nodded, allowing a small smile before stepping back as Jack took the gun. His heart was racing all of a sudden, unable to take his eyes from the weapon as Jack checked it himself.
Shoving away the memories that were trying to surface, Ianto forced himself to feel as numb as Jack was, hands clenched by his sides. He could feel it again, his gun in his hand, trigger pulling tight against his fingers. He could smell the leaves around him as he had all those months ago. Ianto shut his eyes for a moment and breathed deeply before looking back at the table.
Jack caught his eye again and winked at him, lifting the gun to his temple. 'Fuck, this is going to hurt,' he murmured before gritting his teeth and pulling the trigger. The bang echoed sharply off the walls of the mortuary, reverberating through the air before dying away to silence. The bullet that split Jack's skull exited and hit the wall opposite, cracking a tile and leaving a red splatter on the white ceramic.
Unable to look away, Ianto saw the second that the life left his Captain's face. The light in his usually animated blue eyes went out immediately he fired the gun, his entire body going limp and flopping down sideways onto the hard surface of the bed with a dull thud. The gun dropped from his boneless hand and clattered to the floor, where Owen quickly retrieved and disarmed it, putting it to one side. Looking rather grey, he checked the body over before looking at Ianto. 'He's dead.'
Ianto looked down at the stopwatch in his hand and realised he had already started it automatically.
Ears ringing in reaction to the sudden noise of the gun, he set about arranging the Captain into a more comfortable looking position on the bed, wanting, needing to do something to while away the long minutes. Laying Jack out properly looked far more dignified than having him rest in an uneven heap. He forced himself to breath slowly, calmly, fighting the panic of memory that threatened to engulf him.
This could have been me, Ianto thought to himself dully. So easily, it could have been him, growing cold and stiff in the Torchwood mortuary, another file to add to the backlog. Reduced to mere memory. Ianto's eyes kept flicking back all the while to the small, bloody holes in the side of Jack's head, the entrance wound produced by the bullets of the Webley smaller than the exit. It was difficult to tell if the fatal wound had started to heal yet, and the gnawing knot in Ianto's stomach was a treacherous one. What if? it said in a constant litany. What if he doesn't come back this time?
Ianto looked up at Owen, who was standing with his hands in his pockets, face white. It was an odd moment. Ianto had fully expected the doctor to look bored at best, but Owen looked drawn, his gaze also fixed on the body before him. In that moment he seemed very human, not so much the unaffected hard case that he usually liked to portray. He looked up and caught Ianto's eyes, his wide mouth briefly stretching into a smile before disappearing.
'Shouldn't take long,' Owen said in what was supposed to be a reassuring voice. 'Never does when he carks it like this.'
Ianto nodded a little, eyes once more drawn back to the wound. Was it smaller?
'You alright?' Owen asked, surprising Ianto, his voice sounding unnaturally loud in the pit.
'I will be when he gets up,' was the quiet reply.
'Bet this brings back memories.'
Ianto looked sharply at the man but quickly realized that, despite the poorly phrased comment, Owen was actually showing concern in his own, albeit bizarre, way.
'You could say that.'
'Look mate, I know what it's like to watch someone you love die. Difference is that this one will be back any moment now,' Owen said, not quite removing the melancholic tone from his voice. 'Look.' He motioned towards the Captain's head. Sure enough, the holes were slowly starting to close over, the skin almost imperceptibly knitting itself back together. Owen's eyes were alight with fascination as he leaned in closer, watching all the while.
'Amazing,' he mumbled to himself.
Ianto felt his heartbeat quicken as first the entrance wound sealed itself, and then the larger exit wound followed suit. It was strange to watch. The whole thing had the disturbing air of a horror movie abut it, one that plays with your nerves until they stretch tight, waiting for that jump when something finally jumps out at you. Watching as Jack healed, slowly, so very slowly, was the same sort of thing. Ianto knew he'd wake up eventually, he knew it was coming, but he knew it would still scare the crap out of him when it happened.
The whole process from the initial shot to the reduction of the wound to clear skin took exactly thirteen minutes, seven seconds according to the stopwatch ticking away by the head of the bed. Ianto could have sworn he didn't breath at all during this period as the holes became nothing more than dark bruise-like marks on the skin, then faded red smudges. All the while he was watching Jack's face, which remained as lifeless as that of a doll, eyes flat and staring blankly at the high ceiling, skin waxy and dull.
'C'mon Harkness, wake up,' Owen murmured. 'I really need the loo.'
Ianto shot the doctor an unimpressed glare. 'What?' he shrugged in return. 'It's been nearly twenty minutes.'
'Seventeen minutes forty-three, actually'
'I said nearly, didn't I?'
'Just be quiet Owen.' Ianto sighed, reaching out again to rearrange Jack's already neatly arranged arm, as if touching him might speed up the process.
Shocked, Ianto doubled over slightly as if he'd been punched. His grip on the Captain's arm tightened as the shout engulfed his mind.
Owen stepped forward. 'What? What is it?'
'Did you hear that?'' Ianto gasped. 'Did you?'
'I heard him! I heard him shouting at me!'
Owen shook his head, staring at Ianto as if he were crazy. 'You mean Jack? You can hear him? Is this your weird psychic shit again?'
Ianto nodded, eyes stretched wide open. 'He's coming. He's coming.'
A huge, sudden whooshing sound echoed around the tile walls as Jack breathed in violently, eyes going wide and his mouth stretching impossibly far as he gasped in oxygen. Has his face really been so lifeless a second before?
The arm that Ianto still held snapped up and grabbed Ianto around his upper arm, the grip painfully tight. Ianto leapt forward to hold Jack down as he flung his arms out, the momentary panic he always seemed to experience causing him to flail and nearly topple off the bed. The shouting was back again, reverberating around Ianto's head as much as it was the room they were in. Ianto threw his arms over Jack's chest and pinned him down to stop him, and a split second later Jack's eyes locked onto his. He relaxed immediately.
'Welcome back,' Ianto gasped, the relief coursing through him as he gazed down at Jack's now animated face.
Jack blinked and grinned, his fingers on Ianto's arms loosening. 'Hi.'
Ianto felt that last trace of fear filter away as Jack smiled, sheer relief washing through him as he silently thanked whatever twisted logic it was that existed to bring Jack back each time.
'Er...if you two could let go of each other for just one moment?' Owen interrupted. Ianto smiled and stood back a little. He could have told Owen it had worked already, but let the man do his job just the same.
He could hear Jack again, and it was wonderful. Newly regenerated, Jacks guard was down for the moment and Ianto could sense the sheer joy coming off him in waves. Ever since he'd begun to understand what it was that allowed him to read people so effectively, Ianto had managed a controlled restraint on the ability so as it didn't affect him as it had before. But now, just for the moment, he allowed it loose, letting himself revel in Jack's good humour as Owen checked the man over quickly and thoroughly.
'No lasting damage as per usual.' He raised an eyebrow, arms crossed. 'Next question; did it work?'
A mischievous look entered the Captain's eyes and he looked back at Ianto. 'Let's find out shall we?' With that he grabbed Ianto's lapels and hauled him the short distance into a kiss.
Taken by surprise, Ianto was powerless to resist, and if he was honest he probably wouldn't have anyway. He vaguely heard Owen sighing and murmuring 'He's fine,' but was far too distracted to pay much attention. Once again he was completely lost in the sensation of the Captain beneath him, his hands steadying himself against Jack's shoulders. Ianto knew very well that Jack didn't need to do this in order to figure out if he was cured, but in an uncharacteristic display of throwing caution to the wind he allowed himself the moment, reveling in the sensation of Jack's mouth on his.
Ianto had no idea how long they had remained like that, it could have been seconds or days, but eventually his sensible side made him pull away. He had to check, had to hear it in words.
'Jack? Are you alright?' he said breathlessly.
'Hell, yes!' Jack hollered, leaping off the bed and towards a startled Owen. 'C'mon Harper there's plenty to go round!' With that he seized the medic and planted a huge kiss on his lips.
Owen shoved him away, wiping his mouth disgustedly but unable to hide the amusement on his face. 'Wonderful. If only all our problems were so easily solved.'
Jack whooped joyously and ran up into the Hub. Ianto and Owen followed and emerged just in time to see Jack plant yet another kiss on a startled Gwen before grabbing Toshiko and flinging her round into a spin, all the time laughing in his deep baritone.
Tosh squealed as he plonked her back down, staggering slightly and straightening her now wonky glasses. She stared at Jack.
'I take it it worked then?'
'Of course it did, my little genius,' Jack grinned, hands on hips, looking ready to take on the world once more. He then started patting himself all over, the joy on his face apparently infectious as the rest of the group felt themselves grinning too. 'Yep, all here, all working.' Then, Jack curled over slightly, arms wrapping round his stomach.
'What?' Owen stepped forward quickly?' 'Jack?'
'Oh my god, I'm hungry,' Jack moaned, realizing the issue. 'Scratch that, I'm starving!'
'On it,' Ianto replied, indicating the phone he'd already dialed out from. The clipped tones of the pizza delivery company on the other end confirmed the account number and the delivery time. 'Ten minutes,' he added, hanging up the phone.
'Ten minutes? I'll die of starvation! Someone distract me, quick!'
A shriek bounced off the corroding walls of the Hub as Myfanwy, clearly disturbed by the racket, soared down towards the group. She missed clipping Jack with her wings by mere inches, swooping around the five of them before settling on a handrail on the opposite side of the room. She released a short burst of ticking noises before lapsing into a watchful silence.
'Nice distraction, birdie,' Jack congratulated her. 'Now, where did I put my whiskey?'
'Er, officially I won't advise you drink alcohol after several days without food,' Owen said as Jack leapt up the stairs three at a time to the office.
Jack turned to look at him, one eyebrow raised. 'And unofficially?'
'Bring us a glass would you?'
Jack grinned and disappeared into the office, emerging seconds later with several glasses and a bottle of his favorite malt, usually kept by for celebrations.
Three days later, the rift alarm sounded. The location was somewhere along the coast just outside of Swanbridge. Fields and coastline. An empty area.
Jack parked the SUV in the middle of one of the fields, approximately a hundred yards from the location of the alarm, and the Torchwood team, minus Gwen who was full of flu and had remained at the Hub, unfolded themselves from the tight confines of the vehicle awkwardly, stiff from the unnecessarily hectic journey and silently cursing the designated driver. Jack was still celebrating the full use of all of his senses again, which apparently included driving like a psychopath and punctuating every skid with a loud screeching noise like that a child would make when imitating a fast car. He'd brought them all along, citing that they needed to spend more quality time together outside instead of underground. Owen had grumbled something along the lines of quality time in the pub instead of on the job, but Jack had ignored him as usual.
The four made their way slowly across the field, guns drawn in precaution. Whatever it was that Tosh had picked up on was stationary, and had remained so, but it couldn't hurt to be cautious.
Gulls skittered around their heads in the strong gusts coming off the sea, heavy clouds threatening rain. The smell of the water was sharp, and Ianto breathed the clean tang in deeply. Far better than the majority of the Hub, which smelled of damp and Pterodactyl most of the time.
Jack advanced a couple of steps ahead as he usually did, and as the team topped the slight hill they all caught sight of a small, dark shape on the grass.
'Fifty meters, straight in front of you,' Gwen's tinny voice came through the comms.
'Got it in sight, stand by.' Jack clicked off his safety and walked down the hill, a mixture of cautious authority. Tosh's palm pilot was in overdrive, but all scans and search programmes that she was running on the unidentified object were coming up blank.
As they got closer, it became clear that the object was a bag of some kind, brown and made of something that resembled leather, although Tosh confirmed that it was not a type of material that was of earth construction. The bag looked full, and as Jack picked it up, it became apparent that it was heavy. Whatever was inside shifted, and both Owen and Ianto took aim immediately. A faint humming noise was now coming from the bag, muffled by the material.
'Alright boys, calm down,' Jack said, eyes not leaving the bag in his hands for a second. 'I think I just dislodged it, it's not alive.'
'Open it then, lets see what Kinder toy we've got this time,' Owen urged, not dropping his gun.
Jack unhooked the large flap of the bag and pulled it back. From the angle he was at, only he could see into the bag, and as the mild humming became clearer it took on a distinctly familiar tone.
Unable to see into the bag, the three others only had Jacks look of sudden dismay to go on.
'What? What's in it?' Tosh asked.
Jack threw the bag away and darted off suddenly, running as though the hounds of hell were at his heels.
'Run!' he screamed back at them as the bag began making a shrill, continuous sound and vibrating violently. Not needing further encouragement, Tosh, Ianto and Owen all took to their heels and ran back towards the SUV. Ianto felt the adrenaline rush of the sudden need to escape pump through him, not sure what he was scared of but damn sure he wanted to be nowhere near it. He skidded to a stop on the opposite side of the SUV where Jack was cowering, staring wildly back in the direction they had just come from. Tosh and Owen joined them, panting and questioning the Captain.
Before Jack could answer, a whole string of explosions went off from where they'd left the bag, shooting what appeared to be clouds of dust into the clear air. The gulls circling above wheeled away in surprise, squawking their protest.
Ianto blinked as he grasped what it was, catching his breath. 'A whole bag of them?'
Jack nodded, watching as the drifting dust became a thin cloud, then nothing. 'Yup. And they still don't like me.'
'On the contrary, I think they like you a lot,' Owen sniffed, holstering his gun. 'Why else would they keep trying to make Harkness Kebabs out of you?'
Jack raised an eyebrow. 'It's true. Once you've had a taste, you never go back.'
All three of his staff groaned in unison at that. Tosh circumnavigated the car and began to make her way back to the explosion site again cautiously, her PDA held out in front of her. Owen shook his head and joined her, while Ianto and Jack turned to lean back on the car.
Jack eyed his companion with a grin. 'Oh come on, I thought I could count on you to agree with that one.'
Ianto raised an eyebrow. 'I couldn't possibly comment, sir.'
'Is that right?' Jack challenged, fixing Ianto with a look. 'You just wait, Jones-Ianto-Jones. I'll give you something to comment on.'
With a swirl of jacket and a spring in his step, Jack strode down the hill to join Tosh and Owen in their sweep. Ianto watched him and sighed.
'Oh, I'm in trouble,' he murmured to himself, and with a small smile, followed the others down the hill.
- fin -