I'd like to thank all those that reviewed including Fr3ya, Lifes Black Sheep, Candybree, gaia-x-goddess, perfectlyflawedx, x-Athenea-x, picky and paranoid, and its,intoxicating.
And to its,intoxicating : I've been thanking you every chapter for reviewing but your name keeps getting erased as soon as I post and no reposting will fix that. What I don't know is WHY? It's so frustrating. So just know that I am thankful and I'm not forgetting you on purpose. And now I apparently have to misspell your name with a comma or it just won't work.
Chapter #4: Of Dreams and Flat Visits
Jack didn't sleep anymore. Or at least he tried not to because not only was sleeping far too much like death, but sometimes he dreamed. And his dreams were never good.
But then there were times when he was just so exhausted that it was all he could do to get back to the Hub and crawl down into his bunker before he fell asleep where he stood. This was one of those nights.
"Wakey, wakey." A singsong voice and a few gentle slaps to the face when Jack didn't immediately wake up. Then the voice got stern and he was smacked roughly upside the head. "I said wake up."
Jack slowly opened his eyes to find himself back in his room on the Valiant, dangling from the chains that kept him standing day and night, the Master right in his face smiling that familiar demented grin. It was all he could do not to groan. But he wouldn't give the Master the satisfaction of seeing him discouraged so he mustered up a smile. "Morning," he said with as much cheer as he could give, as if he wasn't dangling and chained helplessly in front of a mad man.
"I have a present for you," the Master said, stilling grinning that grin and looking far too pleased with himself for it to mean anything good for Jack.
Jack barely kept the smile on his face. "Oh? Well I'm not interested."
The Master seemed amused by this. Not a good thing for Jack that he wasn't even slightly irritated. "Oh I think you will be." The Master turned to call for the guards. "Guards! Bring him in."
Jack watched with more than a little trepidation as the door to his room opened and two guards came through dragging a chained up Owen between them. His clothes torn and dirty from hard living, face streaked with soot, Owen was doing his best to thwart them by twisting and turning in their grip, so mad he was nearly spitting.
"You are going to regret this!" he was shouting, "I swear I'll kill you! I'll rip you apart with my teeth and find some device to keep ripping you apart until there isn't a molecule left to identify your body! You'll just be atoms in the air and nobody will cry because everyone hates you! Or even worse! I'll—Then he seemed to notice Jack and he stopped, looking completely astounded. "Jack!"
The Master turned to Jack with a pleased grin. "I found him in North Russia trying to help save some stupid refugees. I take it you know each other?"
Jack somehow tore his horrified gaze away from Owen's dirty face and turned back to the Master with a blank expression to say, as disaffectedly as he could, "Never seen him before in my life." Hoping that this would protect Owen from some of the Master's more creative torture sessions, even if it probably wouldn't.
The Master only looked even more amused by this, the bastard. "Oh?" he said.
Jack nodded and tried to look only vaguely interested. "Yeah. Never. Why? Who is he?"
"Oh now. Don't be like that," the Master said mildly but with that same undercurrent of amusement. "And here I went through all the trouble of finding one of your little friends and bringing him to you. Don't you like your present?"
"I hate it," Jack said honestly. "I mean really," he continued less honestly, "If you wanted to find my friends you could at least bring me someone who looked remotely like them. This guy looks nothing like any of 'em. And besides, he's too scrawny. Why would I hire somebody that scrawny to fight aliens? It just wouldn't be smart."
Owen did not look amused by any of this, but he thankfully seemed to understand what Jack was doing and kept quiet. Though there was some muttering under his breath going on that hopefully the Master couldn't hear.
"And who ever said you were smart?" the Master replied easily, his amusement obviously slowly fading but not quite gone just yet. He walked casually over to Owen's side, motioning for the guards to let their prisoner go.
Letting Owen collapse to the floor, the guards stepped aside and Jack watched as Owen pulled himself back up so that he was standing on his knees. The Master carded his fingers through Owen's short hair like he was a prized pet and smiled as Owen hissed angrily at him and tried to jerk away only to find himself held down by the Master's grip on his hair.
"Oi, I'm not a bloody pet," Owen spat out rebelliously.
The Master roughly yanked Owen's head to the side until it was at a painful angle and leaned in closely to say kindly, "I think you'll find that you are," and then threw him to the floor and stepped on his back to keep him there.
"Now Jack," the Master continued calmly, as if he wasn't stepping on the back of a snarling, twisting, prisoner, "How about now? Do you still not recognize him? I think this is his good angle." He looked down to smile at the man underneath his foot still spitting creative invectives.
Jack's eyes narrowed and he clenched his teeth but answered, "I keep telling you. I've never seen him before in my life."
"Then you won't mind if I do this then." And the Master got out his laser screwdriver and aimed it down at Owen's neck.
Obviously sensing that something bad was about to happen, Owen started to really struggle and Jack's eyes widened as the Master prepared to turn his laser screwdriver on.
"No!" Jack shouted at the last moment and the Master thankfully paused, looking up with a pleased smile.
"So you do know him," he said.
"Yeah. Yeah, I do. Just don't do that," Jack replied, his eyes locked on the Master's screwdriver, wanting to make sure it didn't go anywhere near Owen again.
The Master smiled again. "Ah, but then how would I have any fun?" And he turned back to Owen and turned on the screwdriver without another word.
Owen's scream rang through the room and then suddenly went silent as Jack closed his eyes, not wanting to see Owen's dead body collapse to the floor. But he told himself to get over it and opened his eyes again to find the Master coming closer to him with yet another pleased smile, just leaving Owen's corpse lying there. Jack glared mutinously at him, clenching his teeth against the angry words that wanted to come.
"There," the Master said pleasantly. "Wasn't that nice of me? To let you be witness to your friend's death? Not many people get to know that it was their fault their friends are dead. How does it feel?" And he looked as if he really wanted to know.
Jack grit his teeth but managed to spit out sarcastically, "It feels great."
It felt horrible.
The Master gave him a mild look of disapproval as he fingered a knife on the table of weapons kept nearby just for the Master's convenience in torturing him. "Now what did I tell you about that sarcasm?" he asked as he took the knife and came closer to his prisoner.
"Fuck you," Jack said.
"That wasn't it." The Master smirked and lashed out with the knife, plunging it into Jack's side. So used to the pain, Jack merely grunted as the Master pulled the knife out and his blood began to spill onto the floor. Putting the knife down, the Master smiled one last time at Jack's pained expression and turned to leave the room.
"Leave them," he commanded and the guards obediently followed him out of the room, leaving Jack to slowly bleed to death with only Owen's dead body for company.
Maybe when he woke up they would have at least taken Owen's body away. He knew they would never clean.
Jack gasped and sat up suddenly in his bed, looking around himself frantically as he tried to remember where he was. He wasn't on the Valiant. He was back at the Hub. Martha had succeeded and he was free. Funny how it took a few minutes to remember that.
Gradually calming down, his breathing slowing to a more normal pace, Jack brought his knees up to his chest and let his head fall down to rest there. He felt pathetic curling up like this, but he also needed the comfort, the dream-memory still crystal clear in his mind. He could still hear Owen's dying scream in his ears, the pain of the knife wound almost secondary to the knowledge that if it wasn't for him Owen would still be alive.
Owen. The snarky doctor with a heart. He was almost like a son to him. What had he been doing? Helping refugees in Russia? Good for him.
At least he could take comfort in the fact that Owen's death had been relatively quick if not exactly painless. Toshiko hadn't had that luxury and he had only heard of Gwen's death secondhand but it hadn't sounded like a nice way to go either. Only Ianto had survived, or at least Jack thought he had because the Master had never been able to discover what had happened to him. And that was good enough as alive for Jack to keep up some degree of hope.
And he was so pathetically grateful for that one bit of hope because it allowed him to go on with his charade that everything was okay. That the daily torture sessions and death didn't bother him. That the deaths of Owen, Tosh, and Gwen hadn't nearly destroyed him. That the weekly scares for Martha's life every time the Master said he'd killed her weren't taking years off his life every time. That the knowledge that he could possibly spend the rest of his life chained in that cell, being tortured and starved and killed in every way imaginable, until the Master's very long life was over didn't scare him witless. And they didn't even know what number regeneration the bastard was on so it feasibly could last for another two thousand years.
He thanked a God he didn't believe in for the fact that the Master wasn't interested in rape. It seemed like something he'd do, but apparently the Time Lord aversion to freaks and sex kept him safely away. Jack didn't know what he would have done if he'd had to deal with something like a daily rape on top of everything else. As it was, after the year was over and the clock was turned back, Jack already highly suspected that he wasn't quite sane anymore after what the bastard had done to him. Who could be?
He'd done a marvelous job of pretending for the Doctor, Martha, and Martha's family though and finding his team safe and sound had done a lot to restore him. It was only too bad that Ianto had moved on and the team blamed him for abandoning them. Though he was just so grateful for them all to be alive for him to resent them their anger or Ianto's new boyfriend.
Now if only he could keep it together for a little while longer. Sooner or later the memories had to fade away and he was doing all he could to move the memories quickly along by trying to replace them with new memories of a happy, alive, and much closer-knit team.
It was just really too bad about Ianto moving on.
Stephen had finally agreed to showing Ianto his flat and it wasn't nearly as messy as Ianto had feared it would be. Obviously Stephen had bit the bullet and actually cleaned. All of the shelves were orderly, he could see faint vacuum tracks on the carpet, nothing was dusty, even the trash was taken out. Ianto was actually somewhat impressed.
"So?" Stephen asked from where he had stood back to let Ianto look the place over. "Does it pass?"
Ianto turned away from examining the room to smile at his boyfriend. "It's nice. You cleaned."
"Well anything for you and all that," Stephen said with shrug before starting to lead Ianto in the direction of the bedroom. "C'mon. Let me show you how clean the bedroom is."
"Oh yeah. This is romance," Ianto said sarcastically as he let himself be led into the adjoining room, which was, admittedly, rather clean.
"Hey," Stephen said, pretending to be wounded by the barb. "I cleaned for you. What do you want me to do? Go out and hunt down dinner with my bare teeth? Would that be good enough for you, your Highness?"
"No, no, this is fine. Thank you," Ianto said, not wanting to sound unappreciative.
"Good. Then take off your pants," Stephen said even as he started to pull his own shirt over his head.
Ianto rolled his eyes but obediently began to unbutton his pants. "A please would be nice, at least," he muttered.
Stephen rolled his own eyes, but obliged him, saying. "Fine. Take off your pants, please."
"I guess that'll have to do," Ianto said, unbuttoning his shirt and pulling it off even as across from him Stephen was having a little trouble getting out of his own pants. Finally stepping out of his pants and throwing them casually across the room, Stephen reached out and pulled Ianto down onto the bed with him. Shutting him up with his mouth, soon there was no more complaints.
Later, the next day, the alarm went off at almost 8 o'clock. It was Sunday so Ianto didn't actually have work unless the Rift spit something out, but Stephen did and he rolled over with a grumble to hit the snooze button. Fifteen minutes later, the alarm went off again and Stephen finally dragged himself out of bed. Left in the bed, blinking at the ceiling, Ianto stayed there for a few more minutes, just waking up, before letting out a sigh and getting out of bed himself.
He didn't have any clothes with him so he found his boxers and clothes from the day before, put them on, and sleepily made his way out into Stephen's main room and to his kitchen to see if he had any coffee. But, fumbling around in the cupboards, Ianto came across something weird in the way back of the cupboard. It looked like an egg timer, but Ianto had enough experience with alien technology to recognize something that was not from this Earth. But it did have English writing on it so maybe it was just something new he hadn't heard of yet.
But then if it was something he hadn't heard of yet then it was probably obscenely expensive and rare because he knew everything. So how had Stephen, a British waiter for a local breakfast place with no A-levels, gotten enough money to buy something expensive that he obviously didn't use?
Maybe it was from the Shopping Channel. They had things on there that were cheap and unheard of, right?
"What are you looking at?" Stephen mumbled, walking into the room as he rubbed at his eyes, wearing only a towel.
"This," Ianto said, holding out his find. "I was looking for coffee," he explained before Stephen could ask if he was searching through his stuff.
Stephen seemed to look at the thing in Ianto's hand and freeze for just a second before turning away with a yawn so that Ianto could almost convince himself that the freeze hadn't happened. "Oh. That."
"What is it?" Ianto asked, looking at the thing in his hand questioningly.
"It's an egg timer," Stephen said as if it were obvious. "Can't you tell?"
"It doesn't look like an egg timer," Ianto said suspiciously even if it did actually kind of look like one.
"It's a new kind," Stephen explained. "I got it at that new store. Um, Branden's, Bronden's, Bradhem's." Stephen waved a hand vaguely in the air. "You know, something with a B."
Ianto was still suspicious, but he let it go. "Okay. Sorry. I was just curious."
Stephen waved the apology off as if he didn't care, walking over to a different cupboard to pull out some coffee. "Here," he said, putting the coffee bag down on the counter next to Ianto. "Coffee. Can you make some for me too? I have to go change."
"Sure," Ianto agreed, before putting the "egg-timer" to the side and moving closer to the coffee machine. He waited until Stephen was in his bedroom before taking out his mobile and taking a quick picture. He'd show that to Tosh and see what she said.