Keeping Time: Epilogue

Jack went back to the TARDIS, freely letting the tears shed that he had held back trying to be strong for Ianto. The Doctor was waiting for him and surprised Jack by pulling him into hug the moment that he got within arms' reach. At first, Jack thought it was a forced effort to console him, until he felt the Doctor's body lean into the embrace, seeking his own need for comfort that he could never express.

"Everywhere we go," the Doctor said quietly, "every place we visit… every time we exist in… he'll be there with us. By the time we join him in whatever world lies beyond this one, every corner of the universe will have known him."

Jack pulled back and looked at him in surprise. "Ianto always said that you weren't as cynical as you looked."

The Doctor frowned. "He didn't think that I looked cynical – did he?"

Jack smiled. "Ianto thought you were gorgeous."

"He did?"

"Very much. This one time –"

"Stop right there! I know where this is going and I don't want to know."

Jack laughed. It felt good and sad; it would be the first of thousands of times that Jack would wish Ianto was there, so he could share a joke with him. He pulled the Doctor into a quick hug, patting his back.

They separated and the Doctor pushed the door of the TARDIS open. "Are you certain you're ready?"

Jack nodded. "Yep. It's time, Doctor. Take me home."

Sayru read over Ianto's file once more before pressing the 'enter' key and officially classifying him as missing in action. Though she had agreed to do it within twenty-four hours after he left, she had waited one more day, hoping that he'd return.

It was early, just after dawn. She had been up all night reading the book of Torchwood's secrets that Ianto had left her. She hadn't had anything to eat or drink in hours. Peter had missed his rotation that day to stock the Hub with coffee and food. He had put on a brave face, but she knew Ianto's leaving had crushed him.

In her opinion, it had been Ianto's one flaw, getting involved with one of his subordinates. None of that dodgy business under my watch, she thought as she walked out through the tourist office and into the waking morning sun. 'Things are going to change around here.'

"Good morning."

Her hand flew to her weapon, but she halted when her quick reflexes and photographic memory helped her to identify the handsome man standing in front of her, wearing a vintage grey greatcoat, and holding a simple silver urn.

"You're…" She wagged her finger at him, losing her ability to express her thoughts coherently. "I… know… you…" She couldn't believe it. He was a legend and, if they were true, immortal. "You're…"

He snapped his heels together, stood at attention, and raised his right hand in a salute, while the other cradled the urn against his hip.

"Captain Jack Harkness reporting for duty, ma'am!"

The End