Again, huge thank you's to everybody who has been reading this! Here it is, the last chapter...
"Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in,
where nature may heal and cheer and give strength to the body and soul."
Even if he hadn't spotted Sara right away, Gil would have been hard pressed not to see – and hear – her boss, even across a crowded bowling alley on a Friday night. Even if he wasn't wearing the RAF great coat, Jack would have stood out in the crowd. It was more than clothes or looks, there was just something about the man that seemed to command attention, attention that he was obviously not uncomfortable with.
Since it didn't seem as if he'd been spotted just yet, Grissom took a moment to size up the group gathered around the boisterous American before making his way over. To call them diverse would have been the understatement of the century.
There was Ianto Jones-Harkness, of course, with the Captain's arms wrapped snuggly, affectionately, around his waist. The Welshman was no longer wearing a suit, but he still looking impeccably well groomed in fitted jeans and a t-shirt worn tucked in. What Gil really noticed, however, was the easy way he and Harkness seemed to interact with one another, even in a crowded room. It wasn't that they were both men, it was that he was sure he had never felt that comfortable with anyone in public, even though his relationships had all been perfectly socially acceptable. Mostly. He had been Sara's supervisor, her boss… but Jack was Ianto's.
Jack sets the rules, the younger man had said. Watching them from a distance, Gil got the distinct sense that whatever Torchwood was, it began and ended with Captain Jack Harkness.
Sara glanced up, then, and spotted him. Her smile deepened. Warmed. For a few precious seconds it seemed as if her attention was focused solely on him…it was an incredible feeling.
Then he heard Jack's voice calling his name, welcoming him into his circle… no, not welcoming so much as giving him permission to enter. He knew he had yet to fully win Jack's approval; it hadn't occurred to him until that moment that he was going to need it.
"Glad you could make it out, Gil," Jack's tone was warmer than the appraising look he gave. "We were just sorting out how we were going to divide up into teams." His eyebrows shot up lasciviously, making what would otherwise have been a harmless statement an obvious innuendo.
"I still say we should play blokes against the ladies," said a blond man, ignoring Jack's smirk; he had an Australian accent. He wore faded jeans with holes beginning to appear at the knees and seemed in desperate need of a haircut and shave. If he were a few years younger, Gil would have mistaken him for a college student.
"Except that that puts you and Ianto on the same team," objected a girl in a circa nineteen fifties bowling shirt and poodle skirt; her outfit was directly at odds with the studded dog collar around her neck. "You two are never supposed to be on the same team, it's not fair."
"Says you!" the blond scoffed right back. "You're as good as we are."
"Well I know that," she replied in a saucy, self-satisfied tone. "I'm Abby by the way," she held her hand out to the new comer.
Gil recovered his surprise enough to accept. This was the 'forensic goddess?' "It's a pleasure to meet you."
"He is polite," she said to Sara. "And you know what they say about the polite ones," she smirked, causing a conservatively dressed man who had been almost hiding in the background to flush a shade of light pink.
It was Jack, however, who answered, "I sure do," he draped his arm over his partner's shoulders.
"I wouldn't know what you're talking about, Sir," Ianto returned in a flat tone.
Jack chuckled and pulled him just a little closer; the younger man didn't resist.
"You know, if we play them against us," the other brunette woman was saying, "it means they get stuck with Rhys."
"Oi!" a big man, presumably Rhys, objected. He looked more bark than bite.
"All right, Kids," Jack had clearly had enough. "Keep it up and I'm sending you all to my room for the night!"
Ianto flashed Gil a sympathetic look.
"Well I for one think we could take the guys on," Sara surprised him by saying. Her tone was cocky; so was the grin on her face. "After all that means they also get Mickey. Remember last week?" she inquired of a dark skinned young man wearing loose fitting jeans and a faded t-shirt.
"That was not my fault!" the man in question shot an accusatory glare at Jack, who managed to look almost convincingly innocent of any wrong-doing. Almost.
Sara just laughed. It had a distinctly mischievous sound to it. "You can blame anyone you want to, Mickey. You were still the one who…"
"Oi!" Mickey cut her off loudly. "That was Captain Cheese Cake's fault and you know it!"
"I don't know what you're talking about," Jack winked at the younger man. Just the same, he settled the argument before it escalated any further. "All right, girls against guys, losers pick up the bar tab," he added in Sara's direction. Then he steered Gil towards the male members of his team.
"I'm afraid bowling really isn't my sport," he confided to them.
"No worries," Ianto assured him with a kind smile. He proceeded to make the introductions.
The blond with the Australian accent was their medic, Dr. Bobby Chase; he had a firm handshake and warm smile. Next was Mickey Smith, then the rather quiet Tim McGee and the not so quiet Rhys Williams.
"Nice to have another Torchwood Widow on the team," he greeted Gil with a clap on the back.
"You know, all the crazy hours they keep," he explained. "And having Harkness here call up in the middle of the night because there's some emergency."
"Just be glad there's someone around to handle those emergencies," Mickey told him; the statement and his tone surprised Gil.
"I'm going to head up to the bar," Ianto said then. "Gil…?" He inquired.
"Just a beer. Thanks."
Ianto nodded; he obviously already knew exactly what everyone else was drinking. Tim went with up him, offering to give a hand carrying everything back. Of the entire group, they were the only two that struck Gil as the sorts of men he would cast as members of some clandestine government opperation.
Sara stepped over and slipped up next to him, a shy smile playing across her lips. "Come on, I'll introduce you to the rest of the team while everybody settled," she offered in a quiet tone. "It could take a while," she added.
"All right... Sara," he stopped her part way between the two tables; he kept his voice down. "Thank you."
She gave him a perplexed look. "For what?"
"Letting me come tonight. Letting me meet your friends. It means a lot to me."
Her smile deepened and she slid her hand into his. "It means a lot to me too."
"All right, enough fraternizing with the enemy!" Abby declared, although she was grinning broadly. "Either bring your boyfriend over here and introduce him to the rest of us or get back over here so we can figure out how we're going to beat the pants off those guys! I am not getting suck with the bar tab tonight!"
"You know, Abbs," Jack shot over a mischievous wink, "if all you wanted was to get me out of my pants, you only had to ask," he smirked; his voice was loud enough to be heard across the entire room.
Abby walked over and smacked him upside the head in a way she never would have done with her former boss. But unlike Gibbs, Jack occasionally had to be put in his place. "That is not what I mean, Jack Harkness, and you know it!"
Jack just laughed; Gil was baffled by the insubordination.
"Well I see some things haven't changed," said a new voice in the crowd.
The man standing just behind Gil and Sara was tall, slender… he wore a dark blue suit, his tie loosened around his neck. He was grinning broadly… a moment later he and Jack were caught up in an embrace. It was impossible to tell which of them was the more pleased for seeing the other.
"Doctor!" Jack finally held him at arms' length. "What…?"
The other gave over a bemused sort of chuckle, as if finding Jack Harkness at a loss for words was truly a remarkable sight.
"I thought I'd come a few days early, catch up with old friends," he cast a friendly glance at the others, his gaze settling briefly on Gwen… Mickey. "Maybe save the world a time or two before whisking you and Mr. Jones off…" his smile deepened as Ianto and Tim re-joined them. "Your team's grown, I see, Captain," the Doctor observed.
"Let me introduce you…"
Gil slipped quietly out of his bed. Sara was sleeping soundly… after a rather interesting game of bowling, made even more so by the unexpected appearance of a Dr. John Smith, of whom Gil could say very little with any certainty at all, they had gone for pizza. Jack's treat. Jack had picked up the bar tab as well, despite the fact that the men had beaten the women by quite a few points, Gil's lack of experience with the game not withstanding.
But Jack sets the rules… and Torchwood began and ended with Jack Harkness. Gil knew that now.
He glanced back as Sara shifted in her sleep. They hadn't done more than talk. For hours. They hadn't talked about anything in particular, just life. Sara told him a little more about some of her teammates…. Abby knew sign language and Bobby used to work in New Jersey. Wendy, Bobby's girlfriend, and Ianto had been friends forever. Jack and Ianto were going to be out of town for a while, adopting a baby...apparently Dr. Smith had something to do with that, although Gil was fuzzy on exactly what his role was.
It didn't really matter, what mattered was that Sara was bringing him into her life, telling her how Gwen and Rhys were expecting their second child and how Tim and Abby used to work for the US Navy… how she grew up in New Orleans and he went to MIT. How Mickey Smith had recently started dating Ianto's sister Nerys and that it wasn't going over well with the young Welshman, although apparently Jack thought they made a cute couple. Sara had never met 'the Doctor' before tonight, but she knew that he and Jack 'went way back' and that he was some sort of scientific advisor for UNIT.
Gil closed the bedroom door behind him; his place was tiny, cozy. Comfortable. He settled in at his desk and dialed the number for Catherine Willows' mobile phone from memory.
She picked up after only two rings, which most likely meant that she had been neither sleeping nor working. "Hello?"
"Catherine," he smiled into the receiver.
"Hi…I… I wanted you to be the first person to hear that I wasn't coming back to Vegas."
There was a moment of silence on the other end before she asked where he was.
"I'm in Cardiff. With Sara."