Time Knots

If I had a time machine, I'd make damn sure the universe imploded at least once a week. It's probably a good thing I don't.

Jack stared around the empty hub. He was beginning to conclude his team was elsewhere. This was somewhat confounding, given that he had no idea where 'elsewhere' might be. He was sure they'd been here a few minutes ago.

Touching his ear piece, he frowned up at Myfanwy, perched in her nest. 'Jack to Torchwood. Where is everyone?' Myfanwy glared back down at him as he broke the silence of the unusually peaceful hub.

It was Ianto's voice that answered him, sounding strained. 'Uh, we've got a bit of a situation, Jack.'

Jack was moving before Ianto had finished the sentence. His first urge was to pull his gun out of his holster but he managed to resist. It was somewhat embarrassing having to wave it around vainly for several useless minutes until he reached the problem. 'I'm on my way,' Jack told him authoritatively. 'Where are you exactly?'

'I'm not sure you should…' started Tosh uncertainly.

Jack gave a half pause at that. 'Why?' he demanded, hitting the button for the lift.

There was an uneasy silence for several long seconds. 'Where are you?' asked Jack, increasingly bemused by the vague warnings from his team.

'We're just outside the hub Jack, but you really shouldn't come up here.' That was Gwen, her voice suggesting he keep calm in a way that betrayed just how worried she was.

Jack cocked an eyebrow and stepped out of the lift. 'You're going to have to give me a better reason than that. Tell me what's going on.'

The comms gave of the sounds of a brief scuffle, followed by Owen's shout of 'don't move. Stay where you are!' That did it for Jack. He quick stepped it out the front door of the tourism office, pulling up dead when he saw the scene.

'Safeties on, everybody. Now!' he snapped when they didn't immediately comply. One by one, his team flicked the safety on their weapons, glancing from their boss to the individual wearing a casual grin at the other end of their barrels.

'Is he a clone, or a robot, or what?' demanded Owen, his gun still trained despite its induced harmlessness. The other three had lowered theirs but looked ready to re-aim at any second.

Jack sighed heavily and eyed himself. 'This better be really important,' he told him.

'Is tracking down my future self for a make-out session important enough?' queried the kid with a roguish grin.

'He's really you?' blurted Gwen in surprise.

'He really is,' confirmed Jack wearily. The anecdotes were right. It was a special sort of embarrassing to meet your younger self. Has his hair ever really been that artfully mussed?

Jack's team stared at the newcomer they had cornered with renewed curiosity. This version of Jack was the right height but his face was fresher and he was yet to fill out- lanky and lean. His hair was longer and tousled, and that lopsided grin never left his face. That utter confidence was a thing that definitely hadn't changed.

'I know I didn't sleep through that bit where they warned us about this,' Jack stated, his tone dangerous as he faced off with his doppelganger. He made sure not to get any closer. The universe was in enough peril as it was.

'It's OK. You don't remember this, do you? Must mean it's going to get wiped from my head. So we're free to talk.'

'Talk about what exactly?' asked Jack suspiciously.