Author's Note: This in no way belongs to me, it's a rewrite of the Torchwood Radio 4 drama Lost Souls, because I was annoyed with it and thought that certain things should have happened differently or not at all in some cases.
Disclaimer: Totally not my property (Have I said that often enough?)
Dedication: Dedicated to Potterfan89, who was the first person apart from my brother to see this and encouraged me to share it on here
"Leon, how are you getting on?" The Professor's voice crackled over the intercom
"Erm, I've resecured the valve so the magnet's fixed, Professor, inspected the cooling pipes, they're all OK." He replied, concentrating on his work
"That's fantastic, we don't want any hitches tomorrow, see you when you get back."
"OK," he called as he collected up his tools, "see you up there." As the intercom switched off again there was a strange distortion noise, but it wasn't coming from the speakers, it was behind him. "Who's that?"
"Come closer." A strange voice called to him
"Come close to me."
"Get away from me!" he panicked and reached out to the wall, backing away from the noise
"There's nowhere to hide." Something was choking him, but it didn't feel physical, it felt more like his body was just not breathing, no matter how hard he tried, he couldn't decipher any further words as he felt the life leaving him, somewhere he found the strength to scream.
Noise and light blared from one of Cardiff's many nightclubs as the figures ran through the door. One of them stopped by the door, calling out in an American accent, "Get back all of you." Shots rang out down the street and most of the revellers were eager to follow his orders.
One of the bouncers stopped him with a hand and a glare, "What do you think you're playing at?"
Captain Jack Harkness was in no mood to argue, "Chasing a weevil. Tall thing, leather skin, sharp teeth, really bad dress sense." He said the last thing as if it was the most important, but as if it had only just occurred to him, or was confusing him.
"The heck are you?"
"Captain Jack Harkness, Torchwood."
"Gwen Cooper," a woman approached putting something in her back pocket, "We catch aliens."
"Ianto Jones," said a second man, dressed inexplicably in a suit, "And we need to catch this one before…" he broke off and stared in the direction of the screaming that had just started.
The woman set off running with the others close behind, "Over there, by the fire exit, come on!"
The American called out over the screaming of the crowd, simultaneously trying to elbow his way through the crowd to the weevil and get them away from it. He was in the lead as they burst through the fire exit, looking both ways down the street, trying to find the escaped alien when his phone rang, "You two carry on." He called to Gwen and Ianto, acknowledging their replies with a nod as he answered the phone, "Hello?"
"Martha Jones, suddenly, outside a tacky nightclub, the voice of a nightingale."
She ignored him, "Where are you?"
"Oh you know," he looked down the street towards where he could hear Gwen yelling instructions, "chasing a weevil around Cardiff Bay…" he pulled a face, "It's a quiet night really." There were many places he'd much rather be than right here, but it wasn't like Torchwood had ever been a 9 to five job.
"Jack, I need you." He'd surmised as much, she sounded worried, but he tried to cheer her up
"Got a date set yet then? I mean, Ianto's the man for seating plans, but if you want me I'm on the first train to London." It had become a 'thing' between them, talking about weddings. He'd promised that he would propose to his young Welshman as soon as she'd set a date for her wedding, which probably wouldn't be for a while as the couple never seemed to be in the same country for long enough to talk about it.
"I'm not in London." He could hear that he'd put a smile on her face, which had to be a good thing, "I'm in Switzerland." Her tone grew serious again, "Have you heard of CERN?"
"Home of the famous particle accelerator? It's all over the news Martha, but what are you doing there?"
"There's a big thing tomorrow, for the launch and everything, loads of politicians, diplomats… UNIT are covering security for it, you know, because if they create a black hole down there we'd be more use than any other person who couldn't do anything."
"Sounds like fun." He commiserated
"Anyway, listen, a friend of mine works here and when I arrived she told me that people were going missing." She paused and Jack waited for her to continue, aware that something was wrong, there usually was when people started going missing, "Look, Jack, something's really wrong here, my friend's disappeared." He could tell how worried she was from her voice, although she was trying to hide it. "Tell me you'll come."
"You know I will." He promised, "Have you tried the Doctor?"
"It's history, isn't it? He doesn't like messing with History, besides he's not answering his phone, and he's made it clear that he's not answering, not just unable to answer."
"Look, don't come in all guns blazing, phoning Torchwood isn't going to make my bosses happy, but I need a fresh pair of eyes." A splash in the direction of the bay distracted Jack's attention for a moment, but Martha's attention was also distracted, "Damn it, someone's coming, I've got to go." And she hung up
Gwen and Ianto approached him, glancing back over their shoulders every so often but noticeably weevil free, they were both breathing heavily, "Where's the weevil?" he asked in amusement, putting his phone back in his pocket.
"It's er…" Gwen fanned herself and looked over her shoulder again, "it went into the bay."
"Oh." He half turned away and then looked back as her words sunk past Martha's to get his attention, "Can weevils swim?"
His lover shook his head in amusement, "Apparently not." Jack gave him his best guilty puppy look and he rolled his eyes, "Anyone for coffee?"
"Right, coffee, yes, good idea. Then Torchwood's going to Switzerland." He seemed distracted, but this did nothing to placate Gwen
"Jack! I can't just disappear off into another country like that, I've got Rhys waiting for me at home!"
He appeared to focus for a moment, "Bring him then, if he wants to come, you can have a couple of days away in a spa in Switzerland, and we can have a couple of days away in a different spa, and Jay can keep an eye on things over here."
"Assuming she's not there." Ianto pointed out
"We'll sort something Gwen, Martha needs us, people are disappearing there."
"OK." She relented, "but I need to go straight back to Rhys, now."
"Go on, call me to tell me what he wants to do, if he's OK with you going I'll make up for all the nights with you he's missed by treating you both to a Six Nations holiday."
"You're a star Jack." She hugged him and turned away, "I'll see you both in the morning."
"See you at the airport Gwen, I'll text you the flight details." Ianto waved to her, then once she'd gone he took Jack's hand and they walked back to the Hub together
Jack stretched his arms and grinned, "Did I ever tell you about the time I flew from Venus to Mars?" He grinned at a passing Stewardess, "You should have seen that flight crew, all those hands, all those pincers..." he was trying for a reaction from Ianto, but he got one from Gwen instead
"Yes, thank you Jack!" she smothered a laugh, "Anyway, I've found out a few things about this particle physics lab, over ten thousand people work there, from a hundred different countries."
"Martha said people were disappearing." He was worried, that was a lot of people who could disappear
Gwen flipped through her report, "Well, I certainly couldn't find any official reports of any accidents or of people disappearing. Just a load of scientists working on something called the LHC?"
"The Large Hadron Collidor, a thing of beauty," Gwen snorted, "oh I love what they're doing, pushing the boundaries of human knowledge."
Ianto stared fixedly at the ceiling, trying to ignore the effect that tone had on him, "So what are they trying to do with this collidor thing?"
"Have you not been watching the news lately Ianto? Shame on you." He teased
As Ianto knew very well, two could play at that game, "I always intend to, but then I always seem to get distracted. You know, something crash lands in Aberystwyth or a weevil gets out of the sewers or…" he paused and gave Jack a significant look, "something else comes up." Jack was about to make a comment about multi-tasking, until he remembered that Ianto had been multi-tasking the last time he was distracted, and those memories knocked his thought processes way off kilter.
With difficulty he dragged his mind back to Switzerland, "They're looking for the Higgs particle."
The looks of total incomprehension were a joy to behold. "The what?" Gwen asked
"It's the fundamental particle of existence." He caught himself before he told them everything he knew about it, most of what he knew wouldn't be discovered for a thousand years or more; instead he tried to explain it, "Look out the window. See those clouds?"
"Yeah..." Gwen looked like he'd gone nuts, again
"Well, what do they look like?"
"Candyfloss." Ianto supplied with a deadpan expression that Jack was almost certain he was putting on
The Captain laughed, "They look solid though, but they're not."
Gwen flopped back and closed her eyes, "Yes, thank you Jack, we all know what clouds are made of." Ianto continued watching him with interest.
"Well imagine that you had a digital camera and you could zoom in right into the clouds so you could see the individual rain drops." He was getting excited now, and Gwen's interest levels were picking up, "Then zoom in further so that you can see that the raindrops are made of molecules of H2O, then zoom in further and see what hydrogen is made of, one proton and one electron and then zoom in on the proton and that's where it gets interesting. At CERN they've found a way to look at those particles. At the very building blocks of matter, of the universe. Of everything."
Ianto grinned, "They've got a really big camera."
He rolled his eyes, "Not exactly." He knew that Ianto knew, but if he were going to play silly buggers then so would Jack, "They've built the world's biggest particle collidor. It goes through Switzerland and France, deep underground. It's in a circular tunnel, twenty-seven kilometres round, and they're going to send protons hurtling round it at the speed of light, smash them into each other and boom!" he mimed an explosion with his hands and the others laughed, his excitement contagious. "Kind of like the Big Bang."
Gwen gave a disgruntled grin, "That's impressive." She paused to consider it, "So, why would they want to make anyone disappear?"
"I don't know." He admitted, "Maybe those people found out something and had to be removed. This proton smashing isn't trivial stuff."
"Isn't there a possibility that it could create a black hole?" Ianto asked with his eyes closed
"Only a very slight one, why?"
"Because calling anything that could possibly create a black hole under Switzerland 'not trivial stuff' has got to be in the running for understatement of the year award."
"Problem is, if we're still running that, I still think Owen's the winner." They smiled sadly at the memory of their colleague telling Gwen that Jack and Ianto had 'something going on'; she'd nominated him at the next team meeting.
"Not something you'd ever picture Owen winning an award for is it, understatement?" Ianto commented sadly, and then shook his head and smiled, it was still too soon to go down that path, although the wounds were healing, "So what could go wrong in there?"
"Well some theories say that it could create a black hole, or a gateway to a parallel dimension, or even turn the world inside out." They looked worried, "Hey, it's only theories, it's going to be fine, and Martha's got us front row seats."
"OK, now I'm really worried." Gwen muttered to Ianto, making him laugh in agreement
"Get ready for the biggest hug of your life Doctor Jones." He swept her up and heard her laugh
"Thanks for coming Jack, Gwen, Ianto. How are you doing? I'm sorry I haven't been able to get over there more often to see you, it's been a while." 'Since the funeral' went unspoken
"Oh, we're OK, bobbing along. Saving the world, eating pizza, recovering."
Gwen hugged her before passing her along to Ianto, who held her at arms length, "How have you been?"
"I've been OK thanks, I've even managed to see Tom twice."
"Twice?" Gwen asked in shock, "But it's been months."
"Yeah, but it's difficult, he's still out in Africa, I've been here mostly. I can't wait till he gets back, I miss him."
"Yeah, and when he gets back you need to set a date." Jack put his arm around her shoulders and gave her what was an obviously significant look, but neither Gwen nor Ianto knew why. "So," they set off towards the car, "tell us what's going on."
"Well this friend of mine, Julia Swales, she works here as a doctor, and a couple of weeks ago it came to her attention that people were being taken ill with symptoms no one could really understand. Because no one here could do anything they were sent away to some specialist hospital over the border in France, which makes sense." They nodded in agreement, "The thing is, none of them arrived. All eleven of them just vanished. Julia was worried so as soon as I got here with the rest of the UNIT medical team she told me about it."
"Clever Julia." Jack muttered, deep in thought
"Clever Julia, who's now gone missing as well." Martha pointed out
"Why didn't UNIT investigate?" Gwen asked
"They did," she explained glumly, "But they couldn't find evidence of anything wrong. When Julia vanished, well I knew I needed you guys. Two days ago another worker fell in, he's still in the sick bay, I want you guys to take a look at him."
"And you can get us in there?" Jack checked, "Without UNIT security guys being alerted?"
She laughed, "They're rushed off their feet, the collidor's being activated today, so there's loads of dignitaries and ambassadors and celebrities coming, right now there's this big reception happening."
Jack chuckled at recollections of receptions he'd attended in the past, "Oh, a reception for the ambassadors" He nudged Ianto and grinned, "An ambassador's reception."
"Yes, Jack." Martha sighed with a chuckle at his enthusiasm
Ianto winked at her, "Excelente"
Martha led them up to the security desk where a bored looking guard asked for their security passes; she handed hers over and gestured to Ianto, "And this is Mr Ianto Jones, you should have him on your list."
"Mr Ianto Jones…" he repeated, scanning down the list quickly, "Ah, here we go, the Ambassador for Wales." He read, in some surprise
"Ah, hello, that's me." Ianto smiled
"What?" Jack caught Ianto's grin and tried not to laugh
Martha glared at him subtly and continued, "And this is his wife, Gwen."
"Hi" she waved cheerily
"And this is their assistant, Mr Harkness." He just nodded, not trusting himself to speak, especially with Ianto hamming it up like that.
"There are your security passes, and one for your assistant." The guy at the desk was already turning back to his computer
Ianto offered Gwen his arm, "Darling, shall we go in?"
"Darling, it would be a pleasure." She took his arm and turned towards Martha, who was fighting back laughter as much as Jack was.
"Well, if you'd like to follow me." She composed herself, "Oh and before I forget, there's an entry pack here. It's got a map and itinerary… We'd really hate for you to get lost down there."
He took them from her, "Mademoiselle, with these maps you are truly spoiling us."
Gwen elbowed him sharply in the ribs and Martha covered a laugh with a cough, "Just get in the lift." She pushed a button, "Going down."
Jack stood as close behind Ianto as he dared to mutter, "Do you want some eggs with that ham?" His Welshman had to fight hard to keep his composure.
Soon after they set off, Gwen winced and raised her hands to her head, "Ooh, my ears just popped. How much further down is it?"
"It's about a hundred metres altogether." Martha explained as she watched Ianto in amusement, she didn't really want to know what Jack was doing, if anything, she could see that both his hands were in his pockets, but the overall effect on the young man was… interesting.
He still seemed to be able to think though, "Will our bluetooths work down there?"
Jack stepped away from him to lean on the wall, "Blueteeth, surely?"
"It should do." She glared at him, "Give it a go now."
The Captain activated his bluetooth, "Jack calling Gwen, Ianto?"
"Loud and clear."
The doors slid open to reveal a wide, gleaming corridor, "We're there, undercover, remember Jack?"
"Sure", he adopted his best professional face
Martha led them out of the lift and down the corridor, "It's like an underground city down here. Research labs, offices, the control room's down this side. And that," she gestured, "Is ATLAS." Jack stared at it in delight, "The biggest of the particle detectors."
"Oh wow." Gwen exclaimed, but even wow didn't really cover it. It was enormous.
"That's impressive," Ianto muttered, "It's like a jet engine…"
"The size of the London Eye." Gwen finished for him
"And behind that," Martha explained, "Is the entrance to the tunnel."
"That's where the LHC is?" Jack asked
"The Large Hadron Collidor, that's correct." A voice behind them answered, "It's the tube that the proton beams will be fired through. Welcome." A tall, thin, practical looking woman with her hair tied back in a bun and a white lab coat introduced herself, "Professor Katrina Johnson, head of the LHC project, and you are?"
"Jack Harkness." Jack shook her extended hand
"My personal assistant." Ianto interjected with a glare for his errant 'assistant', "Ianto Jones, ambassador for Wales, and this is my wife, Gwen."
She looked slightly taken aback, as would most people when greeted by the ambassador for Wales, "Well, it's good to have you here."
"It must be a very exciting day for you," Gwen commented
"Nothing could be more important," excitement glowed in her eyes, "I've been working all my professional life towards this moment, today we could unlock the secrets of dark matter. What were about to do could change our understanding of the universe."
Jack was staring at ATLAS, lost in thought, "How long until the collidor's activated?" he asked
"Well actually, the countdown's already started. In fact, Doctor Jones, perhaps you'd like to take these guests to the viewing area."
"Yes, of course."
"Now, if you'll excuse me…" she stalked away and Martha turned to Ianto
"Ambassador, if you'd like to follow me?"
"Thank you Doctor Jones."
She rolled her eyes, "Sickbay's down this corridor." She added with a smile.
Martha pushed the door open to reveal an elderly man studying a report of some sort, "Oh, hello Martha, I was wondering where you'd got to."
She smiled at him, "I've been roped into showing visitors around. Ambassador, this is Professor Oliver Harrington, head of UNIT's medical team and my boss."
Jack resisted the urge to scowl at him, "Nice to meet you Doctor."
Ianto recognised the signals Jack was giving off and attempted to distract him, "Looks like you've got some pretty impressive equipment down here."
"Well we're not exactly in an ordinary situation, cut off from the world in our underground base."
Ianto smiled, "I know the feeling." More than you would ever believe, he added mentally.
"Oh, it's quite an honour being here," he added hurriedly, as if they might have thought he didn't want to be here, "Not many people get the chance to work alongside the world's brightest scientists."
"Doctor Harrington," Gwen interjected, turning back to him from a chart on the wall, "When the LHC's activated, could there be any side effects, you know, could the people working here be affected?"
"Oh no, not at all." He replied with a smile, "I mean, we've checked and double checked everything, so no, we're not expecting any problems at all. Today you're more likely to injure yourself slipping on a vol-au-vont." They smiled and resisted the urge to exchange meaningful glances with each other
"That's reassuring." Gwen replied
"Well I'm representing UNIT's medical team, so I really should be getting along to the control room. I'm sure Doctor Jones will take good care of you." He left, closing the door behind him.
Jack stared at the door after he left, an expression of deep thought on his face, "Handsome guy," Ianto gave him a pointed look which he didn't even seem to notice, "Sad eyes though." The immortal looked at Martha for confirmation
She nodded, "His wife died last year, now he just works all the time. I guess he's blocking out the pain."
Bad idea, thought Jack, "OK Martha Jones, let's take a look at your patient."
"Yeah, he's in intensive care, it's this way."
There was only one patient in intensive care, the equipment beeping steadily around him. They approached the bed, "Who is he?" Ianto asked
"His name's Leon Foire, a technician. He was working in the tunnel when something happened. His bluetooth was switched on." She shifted uncomfortably, "They heard him screaming."
Jack bent to study him more closely, "I can't see any obvious injuries, no attack marks."
She shook her head sadly, "He's in a deep coma, won't respond to anything. Well nothing we've got anyway."
"OK," Gwen put her bag on a table and pulled a device out of it, "Well let's try a Bekaran deep tissue scan."
Martha stared in astonishment at the scanner's display, "That's amazing, I've never seen an x-ray like it!"
She smiled, "Owen was working on adapting it before he…" She shrugged, "Well you know." She took a closer look at the scanner, "The readings don't make any sense… Oh…"
"What the hell is that?" Jack asked, leaning forwards
Ianto did the opposite and leaned away slightly "Look at his skin."
"It's glowing." Martha looked shocked
"You can see right through it!" Gwen had frozen with the scanner hovering over his arm
Ianto was paler than usual, "That is disgusting." Jack stood up and squeezed his hand reassuringly
Suddenly, Leon started breathing more heavily; Martha gasped and waved them back, "Everyone stand back. OK, come on Leon, come on, stay with me."
The young man's eyes were open and glowing like the rest of him; he half turned to Martha and appeared to be struggling to speak, "Your life is our life." He gasped out it a strange voice, overtones and undertones of something other, it chilled Jack to the bone and he pulled Ianto closer to him protectively.
"What is he saying?" Gwen asked
Martha hurried to calm him and administer painkillers, "Shh shh shh, Leon, it's OK, come on Leon, I've given you something for the pain." All the while he was gasping unintelligibly, something about 'Don't take them', or 'don't take me', they couldn't make out the words. As the drugs started working he fell back onto the pillow again, breathing heavily but not trying to speak
Gwen checked the readouts on the equipment, "It looks like he's stable again."
The doctor shook her head, "I have never seen anything like it"
Ianto had regained some of his colour, possibly through embarrassment, "Do you think this is what's happened to the missing people?"
He was disappointed when Jack let go of his hand and folded his arms, watching Leon almost curiously; "Leon was in the tunnel when he fell ill, right? So was he exposed to something?"
"The collidor?" Gwen suggested
He nodded, "Possibly, let's find out where the other people were when they got sick; there has to be some connection."
"Here's a list of the names." Martha offered
Gwen took it from her, "Is there a computer we can use, check the databases?"
She thought about it, "The main computer room's just down the corridor, there's signs pointing to it, and you've still got the map."
The older woman grabbed Ianto's hand with a smile and tugged him towards the door, "Ambassador, you're coming with me."
"Yes ma'am." He laughed, following her
"Hey," Jack called before he left, "Be careful, OK?"
"Always." They heard Gwen's voice calling him and the young man disappeared out into the corridor in pursuit
"Don't you just love it when she's bossy?" Jack laughed to Martha, then turned back to Leon, "Now, let's see if we can find out what's wrong with the angel Gabriel here…" he fiddled with his wrist strap and followed the readout carefully
"How are you Jack?" Martha asked carefully, laying a hand on his arm, "It's been a while since we last talked, I wish I could have been there for you more."
"We're getting through it, learning how to live without them, Ianto's stopped making them cups of coffee."
"And you two? I'm sorry I'm keeping you waiting."
He laughed, "You haven't noticed then?" She looked at him quizzically, "Next time you see him, have a closer look at his hands."
Delight spread across her face, "You asked him?"
"On his birthday, yeah. I think, it sounds weird saying it but the Daleks did me a favour. We were almost falling apart at that point, but then I came back and… God Martha they found them, I got back and there was an exploded Dalek there. I knew then that I could have got back to find I'd lost him, it made me even more determined to cling on to the time we have together. And," he grinned, "Quite frankly I've already wasted too much of our time together waiting for doctors."
"I'm glad, you're good for each other. But how are you, yourself? I know you Jack, we all do, we can all see when the smile doesn't reach your eyes." He looked at her briefly then concentrated on the readings from his wrist strap again, "It wasn't your fault."
"I let go of his hand, if I'd held on, if I'd protected him like I was supposed to…"
"You would never have gone off the rails when you got to the Time Agency, you would never have become a con man, you would never have met the Doctor and you wouldn't have been there to save them. Tosh would still be in a UNIT cell, God only knows what Owen would be doing. You saved them Jack, remember that." She squeezed his arm and he finally met her eyes again, she could see the depths of pain swimming there and it broke her heart.
"How many more can I lose Martha? How many before it becomes too much and I stop being able to love? When it's Gwen or, oh God Ianto, how will I carry on?"
"You will, because you have to, because you have no choice, and because you will want to. You'll remember seeing people like Oliver and you'll be determined not to become like that, because that's who you are. You're Captain Jack Harkness. Savvy?"
He smiled at her gratefully, "I have to take care of them now, of Gwen," a more genuine, happier smile curled his lips, "and of Ianto." He shook his head, "It'll work out in the end, one hundred years and it'll all just be memories, nothing more. Right… back to golden boy, let's find out what's happening to him."
Gwen pushed open the door and looked around the computer suite. There was only one person in there, a man dressed in a suit and staring fixedly at the computer. As they entered he flashed a card at them without looking up, "John Smith, UNIT." He explained, "Don't mind me, I'm just checking the lists, stuff like that."
Ianto coughed and hid a smile, "That's psychic paper."
The man looked at it in surprise, "Really? Well I never, how did you know that then?" he finally looked at them and ran a hand through his hair distractedly, "Ah, that's how. Ooooh that's not good, nice to meet you in the flesh and all that and many thanks for the thing with the Daleks, but Jack's not with you, is he?"
Gwen smiled, he was exactly like Jack had described him, "Yes, he's just down the corridor with Martha, nice to meet you too, finally." Ianto looked less sure about that
The Doctor, meanwhile, looked worried, "Bugger, it's been hard enough trying to avoid just Martha, let alone Jack as well. They're not going to be happy with me."
"Why's that?" Ianto asked
He shook his head, "Never mind, I take it you're here about the disappearances?" They nodded, "I'm not, well… I wasn't supposed to be. I just came to see history happening, you know, the big switch on when the human mind learns more than ever before. Then I heard talk of people disappearing and well, what could I do?"
"What indeed?" Ianto asked, "Have you found anything? We've got a list of the names of the people who've vanished."
"Oh have you, can I look?" He took it from Ianto and put his glasses on, peering at the computer screen, "Jack finally got round to asking you then?"
The young man tried not to gape and fiddled with the ring on his finger, "Yes, on my birthday, very romantic."
"Good for you, he always was one for the romantic. When I met him, I didn't want anything to do with him, but he saved our lives so I sort of had to save his. Best thing I've ever done I think. Now, Julia Swales…" Ianto was bewildered; the man had the attention span of a six year old, it was worse than Jack's, "Ah, now there's a coincidence, she discovered the other victim."
Gwen leaned over his other shoulder, "I don't believe in coincidences."
He smiled at her, "Me neither, now there's a coincidence."
Ianto coughed, "Next victim… Janet Russo"
"Oh I can see why he likes you Ianto Jones." The Doctor chuckled as he found her, "Minds like mine and Jack's, we need someone to keep us focused, oh the hours of fun we had letting out minds wander."
"Funny," Gwen commented to Ianto as she made notes, "I always thought it was because you keep him distracted."
Ianto just glared whilst the Doctor chuckled, "Well with Jack there's always that too… Now Janet here was working on the Quadruple Magnets the day she was taken ill. Severe migraine apparently."
"Is that part of the collidor by any chance?" Ianto muttered
"Oh, what a coincidence, yes it is." The Doctor smiled at him
Ianto read over his shoulder, "Alan Nielson, maintenance worker in the tunnel. Jacques Fournier, coolant expert, collapsed…"
"In the tunnel." Gwen finished, "Curiouser and curiouser."
"Yes indeed," The Doctor agreed, "Although technically it should be more curious and more curious because curious has more than two syllables. I did tell him I said, 'Lewis, it should be more not –er', but she said it sounded better even if it was wrong, so I gave up eventually."
"But all these people," she ignored him, "They go into the tunnel perfectly normal, then come out complaining of migranes. And if Leon's anything to go by, they end up…"
"Lit up like a Christmas tree…" Ianto finished
"Jack…" He looked up at her, "Look at the liver composition, I've never seen anything like it." He came round to stand behind her and look over her shoulder, "It's like it's losing its density…"
"Weird." He breathed, racking his brain for what it reminded him of
"All his organs are fading, it's like he's made of tissue paper or something." She gasped. "I don't believe it."
"What?" he asked quietly
"The human body's made up of atoms, right? And every atom has a nucleus made up of protons and neutrons in a cloud of electrons. Well that's why he's falling apart. His neutrons are missing!"
"But you can't just lose your electrons," he said, "They're part of you."
"Oh I don't think he's lost them." She explained, looking horrified, "I think they've been stolen."
"Oh God." Something clicked and he knew what it reminded him of, he felt sick to the core at the memories
Martha put her hand on his back, "You recognise this, don't you?"
He nodded, "Years ago, well, years ago for me, back when I was with the Time Agency, I saw a whole colony go the same way as Golden Boy. Trust me, it wasn't pretty." She could tell that by his face, Jack Harkness had seen a lot of suffering in his extraordinarily long life, to make him look like that it must have been bad, "There was this creature…" it was here, he knew it, "We'd better tell Gwen and Ianto."
"So all these people are falling ill in the tunnel, but how's it linked to the collidor? It hasn't been activated yet." Gwen asked, leaning back in a swivel chair to read the report. The Doctor and Ianto were both staring at computer screens, trying to find what they could.
"I've got something here," Ianto said, making the Doctor leap up to look over his shoulder, "They did a test, back in May."
"And I wonder what they let through." Jack strode into the room, then stopped short at the sight of the man bending over his fiancé, "Doctor?"
He turned and smiled, "Hello Jack, thought I'd come and see history happening, then found out there were people disappearing and you know how it is, I thought I'd lend a hand."
"Careful, you haven't got one to spare any more." He grinned and pulled him into a hug, "It's good to see you anyway, glad you could make it."
"Doctor Jones." The Doctor said, smiling at her before opening his arms
"Doctor. Why haven't you been returning my calls?" she glared at him
"Ah, well… Yes, sorry, I just wasn't feeling up to conversation really, needed to be alone for a bit."
"You're not alone though, are you?" Jack asked in concern, "What happened?"
He sighed, "Rose is back in the parallel world, with the other Doctor and her family, where she belongs. They've got a TARDIS, a baby one, they'll be able to travel together, Rose and the Doctor in the TARDIS, just as it should be."
"For someone so intelligent, you can be an idiot sometimes." He said softly, his eyes full of compassion.
"Yeah, I know."
"And Donna?" Martha asked
"There isn't supposed to be a human-Time Lord meta-crisis, the human body isn't strong enough to take it, the human mind isn't strong enough to take it. I had to wipe her memory of me completely to get rid of the Time Lord consciousness, if she remembers anything we did it'll kill her."
"I'm so sorry." Martha put a hand on his arm and he smiled at her
"You should have come to Cardiff; if you ever need somewhere, a bolt hole, we'll be happy to have you." Jack was surprised by Ianto's invitation, but he slid his arm around his lover gratefully, he hadn't wanted to say that, not knowing how Ianto felt about the matter.
The Doctor just smiled gratefully and changed the subject, "So what have you found out?"
"Activating the collidor back in May, even for a few nanoseconds, was enough to let a creature through, a creature that feeds on the neutrons in the human body."
The Doctor took off his glasses and put them in his pocket, leaning back on the desk to survey the group, "The full experiment today, who knows what will be waiting to pay us a visit?"
"Like the Dungeon Dimensions, just waiting for the doors to be opened." Ianto commented
"Exactly… I think it's time I had a word with Professor Johnson." Jack replied
Gwen stopped him, "Someone got the people away from the base's medics and from UNIT. We're talking about twelve people, they can't just go missing without someone covering it up."
"Someone in charge." He agreed
"Someone who knows this base inside out." Martha mused
"I know what I'd do," Gwen appeared to be lost in thought, "Why risk taking them out at all? I mean, you said it yourself, it's like a city in here, plenty of room to hide the bodies…"
"I'll bring up a satellite image of this place, just in case there's some indication on the surface." Ianto suggested, sliding away from Jack and turning back to the computer
"Good thinking, Ianto, have you got that plan somewhere?"
They got it out and studied it, comparing it with the satellite image, Gwen pointed at the screen, "Look at that building, just to the west of the main complex, is that inside the facility?"
Ianto checked, "Yep."
"Well it's not on the site plan." Gwen double-checked, "Nope, that building doesn't exist."
"I'll go have a look." Martha said, "Julia might be in there."
"OK, be careful." The Doctor called after her, "Right, Jack, I think we should go to the control room. I've got an idea to stop the creature, but we'll need to find it first."
"We'll go into the tunnel." Gwen suggested
Jack nodded reluctantly, "OK, but be careful, keep us updated. Hope you're wearing your thermals." He smiled as Ianto squeezed his hand on his way past
"You can warm me up when I get back, sir." He disappeared with a grin.
"H'OK." The Doctor grinned, cracking his fingers, "Let's go meet the professor."
They pushed the door open, making sure no one saw them and stepped into the corridor. The temperature was much colder in here, and they both shivered in the sudden change. "This is no job for the ambassador for Wales." Ianto muttered, making Gwen laugh
"OK, Jack?" She activated her bluetooth, "We're in the tunnel."
His voice rang out in her ear, "What can you see?"
She looked around, "Not a lot, it's dark."
"And cold." Ianto muttered
"Is Ianto moaning?" she could hear the laugh in his voice
"Oh yes." The Welshman stuck his tongue out at her, then seemed to regret it, "Don't laugh though, or I'll make you take his place."
"You can try. OK, get scanning. Call in if you find it and I'll tell you what to do, don't engage it by yourselves."
"Let's hope it doesn't want to engage us." Ianto pointed out, looking around them into the dark, bland tunnel.
"Good hunting." Jack told them, cancelling the connection
"OK." Gwen turned to look around them and found herself wishing they'd brought torches. On cue, Ianto handed one over to her, "Ever prepared Ianto. OK, you go that way; I'll go…" she nearly tripped over something, "Bikes?"
"It says in the information pack that the employees use them to get around down here."
"OK…" she resigned herself to the inevitable and pulled one of the bikes upright, "Let's give it a go." She got on and heard Ianto doing the same behind her, "OK, I don't feel stupid at all." She laughed
"So we ride around the tunnel in opposite directions and meet up in the middle? I see a flaw in this plan…"
"Splitting up? Yeah, but we need to find it, and it's more likely to try one at once. Still, nice bit of exercise…"
"Yeah, like we don't get enough of that as it is." The Welshman pointed out
"Take care!" she called into the darkness, now nervous as the sounds of Ianto's presence faded and she was left alone, cycling through the darkness under Switzerland. Every day at Torchwood, she thought life couldn't get more surreal, but it always had a new surprise for her
"Professor Johnson, we're nearly ready to begin."
The professor put down her coffee and smiled at him, "Thank you, Tom." She reached for the PA, "Ladies and Gentlemen, if I could just have your attention," Someone gave her a status report which she acknowledged with a smile, "Firstly I would like to thank you all for your hard work, your dedication, and, well quite frankly your brilliance over the last few months. Today is a landmark day for science. In just a few short minutes our knowledge of physics will be propelled into a new era."
"Temperature in tunnels being lowered." Tom told her
The door burst open and the American who had been with the Ambassador for Wales and a man she recognised as being UNIT staff, just arrived today, came running in, "Professor Johnson, shut it down!" the American called, "Shut it down now."
The UNIT man made his way over to the controls, watching the proceedings with interest and leaving her with Harkness; that was his name
"What the Hell is this man doing in here?" She demanded
He seemed deadly serious, "Professor Johnson, I am ordering you to shut the experiment down."
She laughed, "You're the Welsh Ambassador's Assistant, right?"
"Jack Harkness, and I'm Torchwood."
"Torchwood, and Torchwood is?"
He folded his arms and glared at her, casting nervous glances towards the control screens, which showed a rapidly decreasing temperature, "Torchwood is protecting the human race from alien invasion."
"Aliens, right." The man was clearly mad, "What are you talking about?"
"Listen to me. The Large Hadron Collidor was tested in May and something came through?"
"How do you know about the test?" She demanded, suddenly nervous. This strange man was deadly serious
"A creature that feeds on the neutrons in the human body."
She believed him, that was the strange thing. The other man approached them, "And you think this, why?" she asked
"Because of the twelve missing people?" he suggested, as though she should know
"And because the one you have in your sickbay has a tendency to glow." The other man interjected more calmly, extending a hand, "Hello, I'm the Doctor, pleased to meet you."
"Just the Doctor." They explained at the same time, then they exchanged amused smiles before getting back to the topic in hand, twelve missing people
She was flabbergasted, they were talking nonsense, "Missing people, what are you talking about? I don't know anything about any missing people."
The American laughed incredulously, "Oh come on Professor, I don't believe that there's anything here you don't know about."
She gave up on them, "I don't have time for this madness." She turned away, "Status report please?"
Gwen heard Martha calling her name breathlessly over the bluetooth, "Hey Martha, how are things up top?"
"Raining." The other woman laughed, "How are things down there?"
"Cold, damp, underground." She peered along the beam of the torch, trying to see anything, "I could have stayed in Cardiff."
Martha laughed, "No sign of Jack's creature then?"
"No, nothing. How are you getting on?"
"It's a bit of a trek, but I'm nearly there." She'd walked further than this, been colder than this; she could cope, she thought to herself, "How are you Gwen, after Owen and Tosh? Are you OK?"
"Honestly?" She stopped and got off the bike, propping it against the wall and leaning next to it, "No… Improving, improving every day. I don't know where I'd be without Rhys, if he didn't know…" she sucked in a breath, "But we're still not there, I'm not there. The destructive downward spiral's ended at least; the Daleks reminded us how important we were to each other, how important it was that we stuck together. It definitely helped Jack and Ianto, I think they were the furthest apart they'd ever been until Jack got back again, it's good to see them together again, properly together. I can't imagine what it's like for Jack, he's lost so many already, so many friends and lovers."
"The man who can never die." Martha sighed
"Yeah," Gwen agreed, feeling a rush of compassion for her mysterious boss, "I can't imagine an existence more lonely."
"He'll be OK Gwen, he'll pull through." Suddenly her breath caught and Gwen heard her excitement, "Gwen, I think I've found it."
"OK, good luck, and be careful."
It was raining, it was really raining, the sort of rain that she'd only ever experienced on planet Earth, that sort of very wet rain that isn't all that heavy but still manages to soak you to the skin in seconds. She was cold, and wet and nervous and a bit excited. She rattled the door and found it locked; no amount of jiggling would get it open. Casting her eyes around she muttered to herself, "Couldn't half do with a sonic screwdriver, but a rock will have to do." She picked it up and smashed the padlock, breaking it easily and pushing the door open. Inside the room she was shocked, "Oh my God, no!" she hurried over to her friend, "Julia, Julia come on!"
Ianto was bored, lonely and cold, "Gwen… Come in Gwen." He called into his bluetooth.
After a second she responded, "What is it Yan?"
He couldn't think of anything, he just wanted to hear her voice, any voice. He really wanted to call Jack, but Jack was probably busy, "My bike's got a bell." He pointed out childishly, ringing it to prove his point.
Gwen laughed at the other end, "I'm very pleased for you. Oh, it's getting colder." She complained with a slightly worried tone
"Yeah, same here." He confirmed, "Can you see anything?"
"Nope." He heard something else whilst she spoke, something that wasn't Gwen. Then a voice called his name.
He stopped the bike suddenly, "Gwen, I think I've found something." He called, then, "Who is it, who's there?"
"The dead…" the voice told him, "We're coming back."
He ignored them, the dead couldn't come back, and it was usually a bad thing when they did, "Gwen, can you hear that?"
"I'm on my way."
"Quick as you can, yeah?" he tried to hide his fear, not believing for a second that it was the dead, "Good afternoon. Soo… you're the dead then? Not an alien creature."
"I was always alien to you, coffee boy." The voice complained, "You told me I wasn't a doctor."
"Owen." This could not be real
"Help me Ianto!" the voice called
He backed away, but from what he didn't know, maybe he was going towards it, so he stood still, struggled to hide his fear, desperate for Jack to be there, "Did I ever tell you I don't believe in ghosts?" he attempted
"Help me Ianto, help us. We're trapped."
"Where are you?" He demanded, "Where are you?"
"In the darkness, help us Ianto, we're starving, please Ianto Jones, help us!"
"How long until activation?" the Professor demanded, getting more annoyed by the second
"You're making a big mistake Professor." The American warned her, looking nervously at the countdown again
"Look, even if I believed this nonsense, there is nothing I can do to stop it. I'm sorry, but it's not like pressing a switch."
"Jack." Gwen's voice came over his bluetooth and he turned away,
"What is it Gwen?"
"Ianto's found the creature, I'm on my way back to him now." He grabbed one of the desks to steady himself as cold fear formed a lump in his gut; the Doctor looked at him in concern but he waved him away
"Is he OK?"
"Fine, as far as I can tell. I'll keep you posted."
"Jack." Martha's voice called out
"What is it?" he snapped, and then regretted it, but he was worried
"I've found the building, the one that's not on the map. The missing people, they're all here in comas. And Jack, they're glowing."
He looked up to the Doctor, "She's found the missing people." He explained
The professor threw her hands in the air in despair, "There are no missing people!"
"They're glowing like angels Jack."
"They're glowing. Shit!"
"What are you talking about? I don't know about any missing people." Doubt was starting to creep into her tone and the American rounded on her
"Yeah, so who took those people away, who covered it up in the paperwork?"
The Doctor had put his 'brainy specs' back on now, "Someone who knows a lot more about the creature in the tunnel than they should. Your tests last May let something through into our world Professor…"
"And far worse is on its way if you don't stop what you're doing now!" Jack finished, glaring at her whilst the Doctor looked at her more kindly.
"It's all pre-programmed!" She cried, "Nothing can stop it, there's nothing I can do."
"Ianto…" a voice called again, where was Gwen? "Ianto it's me, Toshiko."
He covered his ears but knew that it wouldn't do any good, "You're in my head, that's how you're doing it. Just particles." He reasoned, wanting the voices to stop, it was so much easier not believing them when he couldn't hear them.
"Please Ianto, it's Lisa. Hold me…"
He shook his head firmly, "You can't be Lisa." This he knew for certain, "She's gone. They're all gone"
"Ianto, can you hear me?" That voice was real, that was Jack, and he sounded concerned.
He felt relief and warmth flooding his at the sound of his lover's voice, "Yes Jack?"
"Gwen's on her way, are you OK?" yep, definitely concerned
"Yes" Now I can hear you, "No" I need you here to chase the nightmares away, "Maybe, sort of." He trailed off, glad that the voices had stopped now he had Jack to focus on, it was all in his head
"Well that helps." He chuckled, "What's going on?"
"It's in my head Jack, the alien. It's talking to me, saying it's Owen and Tosh and Lisa…"
"I'm on my way, remember Ianto, it's an alien, just like the weevils. Block it out."
"Listen to me Ianto Jones. You only need to listen to me." The voice had cut in again, over the top of Jack. He tried to focus on his lover's voice, but he didn't seem to have any control. As soon as Jack started speaking again, reassuring him, saying the words he needed to hear, his hand moved to cut off the connection, "That's it, now it's just you and me, Ianto Jones and Lisa Hallett."
"Ianto, can you hear me?" Gwen's voice echoed down the corridor, but that felt less real than Lisa's voice somehow, as if Lisa were the living one
Lisa was telling him things, reminding him of things they used to do, the Greek restaurant in Camden, but these days he and Jack went for Italian on the Bay. "Stop it." He said, he'd moved on, he had Jack, Jack needed him. Lisa carried on, reminding him of things he'd never forgotten, "Stop it!" he yelled
He heard Gwen's voice again, "Ianto where are you, answer me!"
"Ignore her. Concentrate on me." The voice said, he couldn't respond, couldn't answer Gwen's calls, he could barely hear them, "I'm here for you, I've always been here for you. Come closer, come to me." That wasn't true, Lisa was gone, she hadn't been there, she'd been a figure in his nightmares, it had been Jack who chased the nightmares away. He summoned up every ounce of strength, concentrating on his lover's face, his strength, and tore his mind away with a yell of determination before everything went black.
Jack turned and ran for the door, stopping when the Doctor laid a hand on his arm, "Where are you going?"
"It's got Ianto, I'm going to get him, I should never have let him go in there in the first place. If he…"
"It's OK, I understand. I'll deal with this, you go save your damsel in distress." As the immortal left the room without a backwards glance he smiled cheerfully, "He's always had a thing for damsels in distress; now let's have a look at this. Now, someone very very clever should be able to prevent this, without having to stop it, and probably do some cool stuff in the process." He smiled at here again, "Now isn't it a good job that I'm very, very, very clever? In fact, I'm brilliant."
"Come on Julia, stay with me." Martha stared at her friend, unable to do anything; she activated her bluetooth, "Jack, what's going on?"
"Gwen and Ianto have found the creature, or it's found them, I think it's got Ianto, I'm going round there now." She could tell from his voice how scared he was, she remembered how he'd been when the young man died during the year that never was.
"He'll be fine Jack, we'll stop this."
"I hope so, the professor says she can't stop it though. I've left the Doctor with her."
"He'll sort it Jack."
"I know. Concentrate on your patients Doctor Jones. I'll keep you posted."
As they cut the connection the door opened. She swung round, reaching for her gun, but she relaxed when she saw who it was, "Oliver, thank God. Look, Oliver, something's happening."
She stopped at the look on his face, although the fact that he was pointing a gun at her could also have been a factor. "Martha, you shouldn't be in here."
He cocked the gun and she resorted to stating the obvious, "Oh my God, it's you! You had the authority with your UNIT credentials."
He grabbed her, "Please don't resist, I really don't want to have to start shooting people."
"Ianto." She whispered, bending down beside him and gathering him to her gently, he'd already started glowing, "Oh God."
His eyes flickered open, "Lisa?"
"No sweetheart, it's me, Gwen."
"Gwen? Jack, where's Jack?"
"We'll be back for you Gwen Cooper!" She heard the voices and stared upwards, desperately searching for something to be afraid of, rather than just a generic terror, "So much death in your short life."
"So not listening." She snarled, turning her attention back to Ianto, "Ianto sweetie, can you hear me?"
"Gwen?" he reached out for her and then dropped his hand, "Let me go, they need our help, let me go to Tosh, to Lisa."
"Oh no you don't!" she stormed, "You're not leaving me like that young man, and you're definitely not leaving Jack like that, and I am not leaving you here. Come on!" She hauled him upright and he leant on her heavily
"Jack…" he pulled himself together, "I need to get to Jack."
"Yeah, and we need to get moving, it's too cold in here to stay still for very long. Come on love."
"What are you doing?" she demanded as he pushed one of the scientists away from his computer and started pulling up information
"You're scientists, you're brilliant, always searching for answers without really knowing the questions. That's so human. Fortunately, or unfortunately, in this case the answer is a bit bigger than the question, which isn't usually the case in science, because 'why?' is the biggest question of the lot, isn't it? Even bigger than 'how?' Good thing I know the answers really, isn't it?"
"You know answers to questions we don't know we've asked?"
"Oh yes, all those known knowns and unknown knowns, I know everything me. Well, nearly everything, the jury's still out on why the duck-billed platypus is. What I know that's relevant is that if you activate that collidor, all Hell's going to break loose."
"You're actually serious, aren't you? The other man, he's just angry, but you're deadly serious."
"Oh Jack, he's allowed to be angry I think, his fiancé's in the collidor tunnel."
"What?! There shouldn't be anyone in there, it's too cold they'll freeze to death."
"I think his intention is to get him out of there."
"Well, good. But, oh dear… Well if you're right, we're going to have to prepare for an emergency lock-down. Everyone," she raised her voice, "step away from the computers, now!"
"Right, you're firing two beams of protons at each other, correct?"
"Didn't this place once have an anti-proton beam facility?"
"We won the Nobel prize for it back in the 80s." She confirmed
"Yes, I was there, lovely do, in fact I think there's probably still my sonic screwdriver hanging around here somewhere, Carlo borrowed it and I never got round to getting it back… Do you still have the facility?"
"We use it for making atoms of anti-matter." He smiled at her encouragingly as she realised, "Of course! If I can flip one set of the magnets and replace the proton beams with anti-protons…"
"They'll cancel each other out. Let's reverse the polarity of the proton flow." He paused, "Sounds better when it's neutrons, but it'll do."
"Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow…" she muttered, "Yes, it does, doesn't it. But Doctor, that's brilliant!"
He clicked his teeth together, "That's me." He confirmed
"Get away from there!" Doctor Harrington yelled, pushing Martha into the room ahead of him
"Doctor." Martha greeted him miserably
"Martha, would you can to introduce us?" he was, of course, the only one who seemed unfazed by the arrival of a member of staff aiming a gun at another member of staff
"This is Doctor Oliver Harrington." Martha explained
"Step away from the controls or I'll shoot her!" he yelled
"Now why would you do that?" he asked, seeming mildly annoyed, "She's just trying to help, I suppose we're all trying to help really, even you. How can we help you Doctor Harrington?"
"Step away from the controls."
"Yes, I got that bit…" he muttered, complying with his wishes
Ianto was slipping away, she could feel it. It was too cold, he wasn't active and the cold was getting to him, he couldn't walk any further, so she was half pulling, half carrying him. "Come on Ianto, come on." She cried
Voices were calling to her, in a strange sing-song voice, "Gwen Cooper…"
"Not listening!" she snarled, moving Ianto further down the corridor, towards the door
"Is Ianto an angel yet?" they asked. She stifled a sob, because the answer was yes, he was glowing.
Suddenly, there was light ahead of her, or behind her as she was moving backwards, and Jack was running towards them, stopping dead in his tracks when he saw Ianto, then coming forwards again, to drop on his knees beside them, "No, please no, Ianto, come on, talk to me…"
"Jack." He opened his eyes slightly and clung onto the other man's hand, "I won't leave you Jack, don't leave, please don't leave me."
"I'm not going anywhere, OK. You're cold, come on." He took his coat off and wrapped it round his lover, then picked him up like a child and carried him to the exit. He couldn't hear the voices like Gwen could, couldn't hear their call, all he could hear was Ianto's weak breathing, all he was aware of was Ianto, lying in his arms where he belonged but not like this, never like this.
"You know," he ran a hand through his hair again and paced back and forth, "killing Martha won't achieve anything, just because she's dead, we won't want to help you more. In fact, killing Martha would be a very bad move, because I like Martha, and I get very protective about the people I like. In fact, hurting people I like is pretty much guaranteed candidacy for a Darwin Award."
"What's a Darwin Award?" the professor asked
"It's awarded for removing yourself from the gene pool by acts of sheer stupidity, like bungee jumping using knicker elastic, or trying to steal live lobsters by putting them down your trousers."
"Or hurting your friends."
"Or hurting my friends, yes."
"Who are you?" Oliver demanded
"I'm the Doctor, pleased to meet you, well…"
"But you see, it doesn't matter if I kill her, because she'll come back."
"You know, when the dead start coming back, I usually find it's a bad sign. Tell me, Oliver, when you were in the tunnel, you heard a voice, didn't you?" He nodded silently, "Whose was it?"
"My wife, she came back to me."
Katrina shook her head in disbelief, "That's impossible."
He stared at her as though she was blind or stupid and he'd only just realised, "But don't you see what you've done here? Am I the only one who can see it?"
"What do you mean Oliver?" The Doctor asked quietly
"You've opened a doorway, to heaven."
He shook his head sadly, "It's not heaven, maybe there is a heaven, I don't know, but if there is, that's not it. That's just another dimension, like this one. Something has come through, a creature, and it's feeding off people, living people. I'm sorry; it's not your wife. It's using your memories of her to draw you in."
"No, you're wrong, Marie spoke to me. She told me that she could help me, if I helped her she could bring everyone back, and it's already happening. You've seen them."
"That creature, it attacked them."
"Attacked them?" he looked astonished by the thought, "No, it turned them into angels, that's why they're glowing. That's why I had to hide them, to protect them until they're strong enough. When the portal is opened their souls will return from heaven and they, and Marie, will live again."
Martha had pulled away from him slightly and was now watching him with compassion, willing him to believe them, "It's not their souls that have been taken, I believe in the soul, I really do. But I've seen someone come back from death and it wasn't worth it. Maybe those few extra weeks he got with his friends, the people he managed to save in that time, maybe that was worth it, but at the same time it wasn't." Tears filled her eyes at the memories and she brushed them away, returning to science in her attempts to persuade him, "It's their neutrons that have been taken, not their souls. I'm sorry Oliver, I really am, but Marie's not coming back."
"And you think that's it, you think there's nothing after? Nothing more?" the old man looked desperate
"I don't know." Tears were streaming down Martha's cheeks now, as well as Oliver's. "Maybe there is a heaven, but that's not where the voices are coming from."
"You're wrong, I have faith."
"And that's excellent." Interjected the Doctor, closer than either of them knew he was, laying a hand on Oliver's arm, "But we have science, and science has been proving faith wrong for years. Are you going to sentence everyone on this planet to death because of your beliefs?"
"But they're not going to die Doctor, they're being saved!"
"You can't be sure of that. You heard a voice telling you it was Marie, and because of that you're prepared to put people's lives in danger, can't you see that that's wrong?"
"But it is Marie, she told me things, things that only Marie would know." He was begging to be told he was right, that his wife was coming back; it was a heart breaking sight
"You humans, with your tiny brains and huge minds, it's so easy to find the right buttons to press if you live on the right plain." Even Martha had no idea what he was talking about, but it sounded good, if slightly insulting
Professor Johnson took a cautious step forwards, "Doctor Harrington, I don't know who's right here, if it's an alien from another dimension or you're right and it's ghosts or spirits or if it's something else altogether, but we can't take the risk. We're neutralising the collidor now."
He hung his head in despair, then looked up with a firm glint in his eye, "No. No, I won't lose her again." He strode from the room without a backwards glance and the Doctor pulled Martha into a hug.
"Are you alright?" He asked gently
"Yeah, all part of the lifestyle, isn't it? I'll go after him."
He nodded and watched her go, "Don't let him go near the collidor, and make sure that Jack, Ianto and Gwen are out of that corridor." She nodded and disappeared in pursuit of Harrington. The Doctor turned back to a scene of absolute quiet and confusion, "Right, we have to reverse the polarity of the proton feed, because otherwise those creatures will be through, straight on top of my friends."
"Yes, I couldn't live with that on my conscience." She agreed, settling at a computer, "Even if they are attacking people, and even if they are from another dimension, no one deserves that." She was sure she saw him wink at her
They were nearly at the door now, but Jack was having to support both Gwen and Ianto now; it was hard work and it was scaring him. "After everything we've seen, everything we've done," Ianto muttered, "We're going to die in a tunnel, in Switzerland."
Gwen managed a laugh, "What did you expect, the Bahamas?"
"It's cold, so cold…"
"Hey, come on, closer to me." Jack pulled him in tighter, "I'll warm you up. Come on, we're nearly there, it's just ahead, and then it's right by the control room and I'll make you a coffee."
"I'm not that ill…" came the pained reply
"Jack…" Gwen whispered, "I can hear them, telling me they're Tosh and Owen… I'm not listening." She shook her head forcefully and repeated, more loudly, "I'm not listening."
"Atta girl Gwen, come on, here we go, nearly there. Keep moving, both of you, I've got you." Gwen reached for the door handle and they collapsed into the relative warmth of the corridor.
"Right… so we've got two streams of protons about to head down the corridor towards each other. I really need to get in touch with Jack and make sure he's clear."
"I've got them on the CCTV, they're out, not looking well but out…" a scientist offered
"That's good, OK, so…"
"What about Doctor Harrington?" Professor Johnson asked
"Martha'll deal with him, she's a sensible girl. I'm more worried about preventing the destruction of the entire human race… again." He added in an undertone
"Point taken, can you stop the creatures?"
"No, but I can stop them opening a portal in time and space, or possibly a portal in time and space opening on its own. Trust me, you don't want one of those in your basement."
"OK, do you know what you're doing?"
"No, I'm making it up as I go along, as usual. But… I think I might be able to do what you wanted and show you the world. I think I'm about to show you the God particle."
"The Higgs?" She asked in excitement
"The Higgs Boson. But we'll have to get a move on…"
"Oh of course!" Realisation dawned, "The proton beams won't meet proton beams, they'll meet anti-proton beams."
"Give the girl a gold star! I like you Professor Johnson, if you ever want to see the stars close up, I've got a blue police phone box."
"You make no sense, but OK."
"You know, you remind me of Agatha Christie, wonderful mind."
"Well, thank you. But we've been doing it all wrong. I see it now, the particle is life, and the anti-protons and protons are going to create it."
"By George I think she's got it! And the protons and anti-protons will cancel out the portal as well. The Higgs Boson is just a side effect, almost an afterthought."
"We're going to create life as a side effect?"
"Yup, that's all life is really, a side effect. Isn't that brilliant?"
Katrina was distracted when a claxon sounded somewhere, she span round, "What's going on?"
"It's Doctor Harrington, he's activated the tunnel lockdown procedure."
Jack, checked on Gwen, then sat with his back against the wall and pulled Ianto into his lap, cradling him, "Come on Ianto, talk to me, please don't leave me."
Gwen pulled back as much as she could to give him space but she was exhausted. She looked up as Doctor Harrington hurried round the corner and stopped short at the sight of them, "What are you doing here?"
"Warming up," she gasped, "Can you help me up?"
"Yes, of course" he took her hand and pulled her up, then bent to check on Ianto. When Jack waved him away, insisting that he could cope, the doctor turned and hurried down the corridor towards the tunnel again, just as Martha came running around the corner.
"Gwen, stop him!" she called, but it was too late, "Oliver don't go in there!"
He turned as he opened the door, "I'm sorry, I'm going, don't come after me."
"Oliver, the doors are locking, you'll die in there." But she was shouting at a closed door. As she sank to get her breath back her eyes came level with Jack and Ianto and she cried out in shock, "Oh God, Ianto no!"
Jack looked up at her, "Martha, Gwen and Ianto need to get into the warm now, can you help Gwen?"
She nodded, "'Course, come on Gwen, I've got you."
They stumbled into the control room and Jack and Martha set down their respective charges, Jack sitting down with Ianto on his lap again to give him the extra body heat whilst Martha hurried to make coffee for them. The Doctor had put on his glasses the moment he saw Ianto and checked him over before returning to the Professor
"Look." She was staring at the screens in excitement, "an anti-proton beam, we did it."
"Where's Doctor Harrington?" The Doctor asked quietly
"I'm sorry Doctor, I couldn't stop him."
"You mean…" Professor Johnson stopped
"He locked himself in." Martha confirmed
"Oh the poor man, he'll be… Oh God." She covered her mouth with her hands and watched in equal parts horror, equal parts wonder.
"Marie?" He called, not noticing the by now intense cold, "Marie, are you there? It's Oliver."
"I'm here, I'm waiting for you my love."
"It's so good to hear your voice." He cried, tears running down his cheeks and freezing, "We'll be together again soon. These last months have been so lonely; all I ever do is dream about you. But now we'll be together again, forever."
The smile died from his face as the voice started laughing, "You humans, so often undone by love. Dream of it in the void, be ready to embrace the dark times." He let out a sob as the reality of the situation sank in and he fell to his knees, "We are back, and we are hungry." It gloated
"It was true, what they said, Marie was never here, you were never her… But you knew things, things that only she could know."
"Drawn from your fractured mind," it taunted him, coming closer, revelling in the moment of victory, "You have granted us passage. You have enabled us to feed on the minds and souls of this world, a whole new energy to feed us for centuries. Your species, so weak, but so useful, you are nothing compared to us."
"No, you're wrong, we are so much more! And we're going to stop you." He struggled to his feet, "We die together!" And it came for him, claiming him at the exact moment that proton met anti-proton in the same place in the tunnel
Most of them watched the ever changing displays with interest and excitement, one of the scientists drew their attention to one in particular, "There, on the screen."
"The Higgs Boson…" Katrina breathed, "It's beautiful."
"And it's inside all of us, every living thing. Alien, human, plant, fish, everything. It's life." The Doctor smiled at her, "Something good came out of all of this."
"Are you sure you've stopped them coming through, those creatures?"
"Yep, door sealed and locked, although I'd keep an eye out for things slipping through. You never know, you might need a Torchwood to patrol it. And quite frankly there's enough of those already, just in this room." He didn't turn round, but they could tell he didn't mean it, "And with the creatures either blocked or destroyed, all your angels should be returning to normal, much like Mr Jones over there." He finally turned back to Jack who smiled at him, relief obvious on his features, "He'll be OK Jack."
"I know." He looked down at his lover, now merely sleeping; the deep sleep of the emotionally and physically exhausted, "I knew the moment that I saw you in that IT suite that he was in safe hands. Thank you."
"Yes," the Professor agreed, "Thank you, for everything."
They sat in one of the rooms they'd been given at the facility and worked their way through a pile of chocolate on the bed. Ianto was sitting up in bed, with Jack behind him and with an arm around his waist, Gwen and Martha sat on the end of the bed, "Like angels", Ianto had commented, which earned him a glare he didn't understand, whilst the Doctor sat in a chair next to the bed. Gwen was trying to explain to Ianto what had happened, "We dragged you all that way in the freezing cold and you don't remember?" she asked.
"Nope," he shook his head and reached for another chocolate, "Don't remember a thing. Last thing I remember was telling you that my bicycle had a bell."
"Well you know what they say about little things Ianto…" his lover shifted slightly so that Ianto could lean against his chest again
"Yes we do, and we all know that I have a very little mind, Jack." He teased
"Anyway," Jack kissed the back of his neck, "The Doctor's the hero of the hour, as usual. What did I tell you? Torchwood's always been barking up the wrong tree."
"Nah, even you could have done what I did Jack; your lot are the real heroes. You humans, tiny little brains, but enormous potential." He smiled, "How's your friend Martha?"
"She's fine, they're all fine. I just need to let HQ know about Oliver."
"The stream will cease to flow; the wind will cease to blow; the clouds will cease to fleet; the heart will cease to beat…" Ianto said sadly
"For all things must die." Jack finished, "Tennyson, right?"
"You twenty first century humans, with your beliefs and your science and your poetry. Yeah, you're pretty great." He smiled at the Doctor, sharing the joy of watching a civilisation that wasn't his own, but had accepted him as its own, and watching it grow and develop.
"You say all these things Jack, like the twenty-first century's when it all changes and we've got to be ready. What do you kno?" Gwen asked, staring at him with her chin resting on one hand
"Spoilers." The Doctor warned, "We can't tell you these things, even if you are Torchwood. When Jack learned about the Higgs Boson, if he ever paid attention, which I very much doubt, he was learning about something over three thousand years old. Can you imagine what could happen if you knew what the future would bring?"
"If we knew things were going to happen, like 9/11, the World Wars…"
"That's the hardest part, even way in the future, we remembered 9/11, and I had to get up in the morning and pretend that nothing was wrong when I knew how many people would die because of that day." He gazed into the distance, resting his chin on Ianto's shoulder
"How do you do it Jack, why do you do it Jack?" Gwen asked quietly
"Because I have to, because you're worth fighting for." He answered, squeezing Ianto gently
"Why do they keep coming to us though?" Ianto asked, "What's so special about us, why did you two come to us?"
"Oh everything's special about you." The Doctor answered, standing up, "You keep searching for answers when you don't even know the questions and, yes, that sometimes makes it easy for them, but it scares them and attracts them. Like moths to a flame, it's bright and beautiful, even though they know it's dangerous."
"Sometimes I think that just asking the questions is an answer in itself." Jack commented with an affectionate smile
"I feel so stupid when I'm in a room with you two." Martha grumbled
The Doctor smiled at her, "You are, well compared to me at least, but all the more brilliant for it."
"Thanks… I think." She rolled her eyes and stood up, "Anyway, I've got work to do, no rest for the wicked and all that."
"OK, good to see you again Martha."
The Doctor followed her as far as the doorway and watched the group on the bed watching him, "You know, I've got this space ship, just around the corner actually, I think she has an affinity with store cupboards. And, well, there's plenty of room for some passengers if you wanted to come along for a bit?"
Jack smiled ruefully, "I've got a world to protect Doctor, duty calls and all that, but if you two want to go for the trip of a lifetime, I can cope on my own for a bit."
"I'm going nowhere." Ianto snuggled further down into Jack's chest
"I can't leave Rhys." Gwen explained
"Well bring him along then," the Doctor suggested, "But whether you want to come on an adventure or not, the least I can do is give you a comfy, door to door delivery back to Cardiff, coming?"
"My hero, it'll save me from having to persuade Jack that we're not joining the mile-high club." Ianto laughed, getting up and pulling Jack behind him to follow Gwen and the Doctor down the corridor to the little blue box.