Summary: The return of lost friends isn't necessarily a cause for celebration. Dalek Caan's breaking of the quantum seal had unforseen consequences, and now the Torchwood team, with the help of the sometimes lucid Dr. Donna, need to set things right before the year that never was will be.
Spoilers: Through S4 of Doctor Who, and S2 of Torchwood. Speculation for casting of S3 of Torchwood.
Pairings: Jack/Ianto, Owen/Tosh, Martha/Tom, hints of Gwen/Rhys, Jack/Dr. Donna UST
Genre: Dark, angsty, and sarcasm filled. More Torchwood than Doctor Who.
It was mid-afternoon when Jack walked in on Owen in the med lab, cursing profusely as he bandaged up his fingers. This in and of itself wouldn't have been anything out of the ordinary, except for the fact that Owen was dead- well and truly dead, and disintegrated, with no way of returning. Jack blinked down at his form for a long, disbelieving moment before exclaiming "Owen!"
For his part, he look just as shocked to see Jack as Jack was to see him. His eyes widened comically, and he jumped to his feet, wincing as he did so. Jack noted distantly that his fingers were burnt to a sickly brown color between the bandages.
And just like that he was gone. Jack stared at the spot where he'd been for a moment before throwing down the new medical files on the nearest elevated surface and running from the room.
Martha was settling back into Torchwood well enough- it was a more intimate setting than UNIT, but more clinical than the TARDIS, which suited her just fine. She'd missed them- Jack's playfulness, Ianto's dry wit, Gwen's fiery spirit.
She'd missed Owen's scathing remarks and Toshiko's professionalism as well, but there was nothing to be done there, she thought with a small pang of loss. Of course, this was followed almost at once by a small gasp from the doorway, and the sound of falling papers.
Tosh stood in the doorway, open-mouthed and staring, a file folder slumped on the floor in front of her feet.
"M-M-Martha?" she asked in a reverent whisper. "Martha Jones?"
At a loss for words, Martha nodded. Tosh wheeled around and bolted down the hallway, snapping her out of her shock.
"Hey, wait!" she cried, taking off after the other woman. Tosh was, however, nowhere to be found, and a few minutes later saw Martha back at her station, frowning, lost in thought. She failed to notice that the pile of papers Tosh had dropped had lingered for several moments before it to disappeared.
Ianto had been manning the reception desk for only an hour when she stormed in through the door. Putting on his best 'the customer is always right' face, he began to greet her, but he got only as far as "Hello, and welcome to-" before she cut him off.
"Yes, you can bloody well help me!" she yelled. "You can start by telling me what the hell I'm doing in Cardiff, of all places!"
"I'm sorry, I'm afraid I don't have access to that sort of information," Ianto replied dryly.
"Really? What a coincidence, neither do I!" The woman threw her arms up into the air and exited as swiftly as she came.
Of course, no one said anything. They had a stressful job. A stressful job that happened to be based near a rift in the time-space continuum. If they sometimes saw things, well, as long as they tried their best to catch up on some sleep and the visions didn't interfere with their duties, than there wasn't anything to fuss about.
No one had bothered to tell Mickey about this rule, however, nor had anyone mentioned exactly whose position he was filling, so when he dragged a struggling Toshiko out of the bowels of the archives and into the main hub, it took everyone by surprise.
"I found her rooting around the basement," Mickey explained to the room at large. "She says she works here!"
Ianto stared. Gwen stared. Jack stared. Martha stared. Mickey shifted uncomfortably. Toshiko opened her mouth, and promptly disappeared, leaving his hand encircling empty air.
It wasn't long before chaos broke out.
Ianto was only half concentrating when the woman came to visit him another time, and therefore only noticed her after she has marched up to his desk and placed her hands flat against its surface, causing Ianto to jump.
"Oi," she said. "Listen carefully, Jones, because this is important, and if we're lucky I won't have another chance at a go at this for a long while…"
Ianto listened, but the woman did nothing other than stared blankly straight through him.
"Miss…" he interrupted quietly. The woman blinked, and focused on his face again, rather than some invisible point beyond it.
"What are you doing here?" she demanded.
"I work here."
She looked around in frank bewilderment. "What am I doing here?"
"You said you had something important to tell me," Ianto replied carefully.
"I did?" she asked. "Oh, bugger all. I don't suppose I actually got around to telling me what it was I needed to tell you, did I?"
"No." he answered, getting up. "Miss, are you in any trouble?"
"You know what?" she said with a slightly hysterical laugh. "I haven't the foggiest. Much like I haven't the foggiest as to what I'm doing in bloody Wales!"
She turned to leave.
"Miss?" Ianto called after her. "Do you want me to call a cab for you?"
"No," she replied over her shoulder. "I seem to have no trouble taking the train. No trouble at all!"
Ianto watched her stride across the Plass agitatedly, and made a mental note to ask for her name next time she showed up.
"Hey!" Owen shouted. Martha and Gwen wheeled around. "Shouldn't the pair of you be in Russia by now?"
Martha and Gwen blinked as one.
"Oh bloody hell, I'm hallucinating again, aren't I?" He asked.
"Actually-" Martha began, but Owen cut her off.
"Don't answer that, I already know the answer," he said tiredly, pinching the bridge of his nose with his good hand. "Although, really, as far as hallucinations go, you're really dull, you know that?"
Gwen and Martha exchanged looks. Gwen opened her mouth but was once again cut off by Owen.
"I mean, you don't need to go asking me to open the Rift or anything, but something a bit more normal than staring at me would be nice."
"Owen-" Gwen tried again.
"And really, if I'm going to have a nervous breakdown, why can't it at least be one I can embrace fully?" he asked.
"Because we're not hallucinations!" Martha cried.
"Yeah, you would say that if-"
"Owen, you prick, shut up!" Gwen yelled.
Contrarily, Owen grinned. "Now that's more-"
"We all think you're the apparition," Martha explained.
"You died," Gwen whispered. "You and Tosh. Just a few months ago."
"Well, technically, you died several months before that," Martha supplied, more to fill the awkward silence as Owen processed this information than anything else. "But there was a mishap with the Resurrection Gauntlet and you sort of ended up being a kind of zombie. I mean, you could walk, and talk, and didn't have undeniable cravings for human flesh or anything, but your heart wasn't beating and you couldn't breathe, so…"
He disappeared before he could finish spluttering.
It had been a quiet day for Ianto, and like he did on all quiet days, he was searching some of the weirder, if more accurate, nooks of the internet. And like he was prone to do when the work load was slow, Jack was distracting him.
Jack5066: Anything interesting on your end?
IantoJones: Numerous sightings of small black balls flying through the skies for seconds at a time. How about our ghost problem?
Jack5066: I have Mickey working on it. He says it doesn't seem to be coming from the Rift, but he's getting readings similar to the transdimensional fractures the Cybermen exploited.
IantoJones: Are they the Tosh and Owen from that universe, then?
Jack5066: No. The readings are too different to be coming from that reality. Mickey says Toshiko is dead there any way.
IantoJones: So we've come in contact with a new one, then.
Jack5066: Seems to be the case.
There was a small pause, before Jack typed:
Jack5066: I wonder if they have a Ianto.
IantoJones: Stop right there, sir.
Jack5066: Stop what?
IantoJones: I can already tell where this conversation is going, and the answer is no.
Jack5066: And where would that be?
Ianto spared a moment to roll his eyes at the unseeing computer screen. Honestly.
IantoJones: Where your mind would naturally wander in this situation.
Jack5066: I haven't the slightest idea what you're talking about 0:)
IantoJones: That is the most insincere thing you're ever written.
Jack5066: What would be wrong with a threesome?
Ianto took a minute ponder an answer, which would have had to include a juxtaposition of 51st century morals to the contemporary ones, the inherent nihilism of having sex with yourself, the possible spatial ramifications of having more than one version of the same person in close physical proximity, and the reams of issues their relationship had already.
By the time he'd decided against opening any of those cans of worms, Jack had added another line.
Jack5066: Technically speaking, we wouldn't even be adding another person.
IantoJones: True, but that might not stop me from being jealous and strangling him with his own tie in bed.
Jack5066: Okay, now I'm turned on.
IantoJones: Breathing turns you on.
Jack5066: Actually, I think I just said NOT breathing turns me on.
The door to the reception area swished open, and in walked the woman.
IantoJones: Redhead's back.
"Hello again!" he said cheerfully. "Do you remem-"
"Dalek Caan," the woman said, loudly and without preamble. "Quantum locks breaking down, and bogeymen in the sky. What am I forgetting?"
Ianto paled. "I don't know. But I think you should really talk to my boss…"
"The drums!" she shouted triumphantly. Jack entered the room at a run, his coat swishing out impressively behind him. "Here come the drums!"
And with that she collapsed on the ground.