Time to be bled
a Torchwood story
Disclaimer: Don't own them, but I'm happy that they were ready to play along. LOL
Summary: The Ianto side of Countrycide. Enjoy!
A/N: Thank you very much for your nice comments. We have reached the end of this story… which will seamlessly continue in the sequel Time To Heal. I'm looking forward to sharing it with you, but I'll still need some time until I can start posting it. Thanks to all of you for reviewing, the favourites and the alerts. Your feedback is always appreciated. Enjoy!
Special thanks to my beta reader mandassina.
Chapter 12 – Escape
While Jack talked to Detective Inspector Morrison the first rays of sunlight crept over the mountains. They found their way through the dusty windows, throwing long shadows on the floor.
Ianto could not stand it inside anymore. As soon as he saw the sun rise he pushed himself up from the chair and fought his way to the door. It was still rather cold outside, but Ianto welcomed the fresh air. Dew glistened on the grass, enchanting the mountain range. The countryside looked peaceful. Birds were singing and a breeze rustled in the trees.
A paramedic brushing his side as he went to his ambulance brought Ianto back to reality. The area in front of the house was still filled with different vehicles. One of the ambulances just left and vanished between the hills. A police constable guided one of the patched up cannibals out to a patrol car. Other officers walked across the front yard and came dangerously close to Ianto.
Anxiously he avoided meeting them. Suddenly the open space in front of him seemed to be way too small. He had to get away from there. So he quickly made his way across the yard to where their SUV stood. As he did not feel like being confined to the small space inside he opened the back door and sat down in the open boot.
It did not take long until first Jack and then Owen emerged from the house. Owen looked for something on the passenger's side of the SUV before he met Jack in front of the car.
Ianto wondered what they were waiting for. Women. Gwen and Tosh are not here yet. What's keeping them?
What Jack and Owen were talking about he could not hear and he did not care anyway. All he wanted was to leave the horrific place. He would never look at the countryside with the same eyes again… no longer beautiful, peaceful, and tranquil… now barren, desolate, and menacing.
Out of the corner of his eye he saw Evan Sherman being led to a waiting police car. The officers pushed him inside and then took their seats up front. Then the vehicle left the yard. Ianto followed it with his eyes and wished never to see that poor excuse for a human being ever again.
Gwen came out of the house now. Holding her injured side she walked straight toward Jack and Owen and looked over her shoulder as two more officers led Huw, Brynblaidd's constable, from an ambulance to their car to take him to prison. When she reached her boss and the doctor she only glanced at them before she passed between them, marching a small distance over the grass where she stopped under a tree. She was shaking and sank to the ground in a crumbled heap.
"Gwen!" Owen cried out when he saw her break down, assuming that her injury was the cause, and hurried over to her. Jack followed right behind him.
"Gwen? Are you all right?" Owen wanted to know as he squatted beside her in the dew wet grass.
"What?" she mumbled, looking up at him out of teary eyes.
"Are you okay?" Owen prodded, feeling her forehead for increased temperature. "How's the pain?" He reached for her shirt to push it up and see if she was bleeding again.
"Owen," she groaned, trying to push his hands aside. "It's not… I just…" She was fishing for words. "How could he?" she then erupted. "He's a police officer! How could he help them? Relative or not! He knew! And he did nothing! Nothing!"
Her voice breaking with anguish she slumped to a boneless mound of flesh. Owen wrapped his arms around her, holding her as she wept.
Jack stood beside them and felt curiously superfluous. As he did not know what to do with himself he turned to go back to the car. Approaching it he saw Ianto's figure leaning in the open boot, hands on the knees of his spread legs, somehow looking as if he could barely support himself. So Jack decided to go to him. Without asking his support officer's permission he sat down on the edge beside him. Neither man said a single word for a long while until the silence became unbearable.
"Come on, get it over with," Ianto finally broke their silence.
"Get what over with?" Jack asked back, honestly surprised.
"With whatever you wanted to reprimand me for."
Jack's mouth opened, but nothing more came out. Incredulously he studied Ianto's profile in the warm glow of early morning sun. He saw nothing like warmth in his features, though. It looked as if he was frozen inside, his skin pale and, when Jack reached out to touch his cheek, clammy and icy cold.
Ianto did not flinch away from his touch, too tired and too much in pain to waste his energy on avoiding Jack's advances. And advances he thought it was when Jack's fingers touched his cheek. Can't you reign in your carnal nature for once? Ianto thought miserably. I can't deal with you in addition to everything else right now. Just leave me alone!
But he said nothing.
"Ianto?" Jack said and the single word was laden with anxiety and insecurity. He could sense the younger man's repulse as well as if he had voiced it and quickly withdrew his hand. "I'm sorry!" he gasped, the words hitching in his throat. "I didn't…"
It did not happen often, but the captain was at a loss of what to say. He knew what he wanted to tell Ianto when he came over, but now he was undecided. Then, in the steadfast belief that it could not be wrong, he told him anyway.
"I wanted to let you know that you did well," he said. "You mastered your acid test brilliantly." Unable to keep himself from physical contact he gently put his hand on Ianto's shoulder, felt the young man shiver and realized that that probably was not enough yet. He asked his heart for advice and came up with a fairly simple feeling. "I'm proud of you."
Ianto's head whipped around and from the agonized expression that flitted across his face Jack deduced that it hurt him.
"Don't make fun of me," Ianto hissed, his eyes spreading fire. "Especially not now."
Jack was stunned… and hurt. What he saw burn in Ianto's bright blue eyes was a strange mixture of pain, anger, fear, disgust, and something that Jack could only describe as self-loathing. He seems to be on a full blown guilt trip. Just why, for god's sake?
"Ianto," he said, taking his hand away again because he sensed that he was not welcome. "What can I do to make you believe?" Jack looked at the younger man with what he hoped was a combination of compassion and desperation. He did not want to make him feel pitied, but that was exactly what he feared Ianto would take it for.
"Please, Ianto. I was scared. I thought I had lost you." Helplessly he wrung his hands, insecure about where to put them, especially as he was mere centimetres away from the younger man he desperately wanted to touch. "All I wanted was to reassure myself that you're here, that you're okay. I didn't mean to upset you."
Carefully he reached out for him again and when he sensed no resistance he put his arm around Ianto's shoulders.
"I really am proud of you," Jack said. "You saved Toshiko's life. I'd go so far as to say that you saved all our lives. You bought us time, the time I needed to get to you and take them out."
Ianto looked at him out of tear-flooded eyes, his lips trembling, unable to say anything.
"You're safe now," Jack murmured and gently pulled him to his chest. "It's all right. You're all safe now."
He saw Toshiko approach and smiled encouragingly. So she stepped up to Jack and Ianto and the captain included her in the hug.
"Jack?" Toshiko said softly. "Can we go now?"
"Sure we can," Jack agreed. "Ianto? Come. Get into the car. We're driving home."
Surprisingly reluctantly Ianto separated from Jack and Toshiko, but still he stood up as soon as Jack asked him to, and went around the car. He wanted to get in on the back, but Jack opened the passenger door for him. So Ianto got in there.
"Owen! Gwen!" Jack shouted. "We're going!"
A moment later the other two team members climbed into the back seat with Toshiko, Jack got in behind the wheel, and off they went.
Detective Inspector Morrison followed the black SUV with his eyes until it vanished out of sight between the hills. From the path leading to the Tap House a group of officers came back to the row of houses. One of them approached the CID officer.
"Where're the captain and his team?" Constable Whitmore asked.
"We completed the interviews," Morrison told him. "They've left a few minutes ago."
"You know if one has a mobile phone?"
Morrison frowned. "Why?"
"The captain said that another captive was at the pub, but when we searched it no one was there."
"Some ropes on the floor, though… and blood."
Thoughtfully Morrison rubbed his chin.
"Gethin Sherman isn't here either," Whitmore stated.
"He's the son of Helen and Evan Sherman. He's missing."
"Well, then we should put out an APB on Gethin Sherman and Martin…"
Morrison nodded. "Okay, Constable. Take care of it."
"Yes, sir," Whitmore confirmed and went to carry out the order.
Inwardly Ianto rolled his eyes when Jack pulled the SUV off the road and onto a path down to the clearing where they had set up camp.
"Oh, no! Jack! You've got to be kidding me!" Owen groaned.
"You're not serious, are you?" Gwen asked.
Only Toshiko choked down any reaction.
"Do you expect me to leave the camp like it is?" Jack replied. "The trashed tents, our supplies, and everything else we brought?"
"No, Jack," three of them answered as one.
Ianto remained silent. For him it was no question that they had to clear up the camp, the only question was how he was supposed to pack up. Well, I'll get through that, too.
"Gwen. Ianto," Jack said. "You'll stay. Tosh. Owen. You'll come with me."
"Oh, no!" Owen moaned.
Jack shot a death glare in his direction and left the car. Toshiko was already outside, and Owen reluctantly followed her. Jack was just about to close the driver's door when he saw Ianto reach for the door handle.
"Ianto!" Jack snapped. "That was an order. You'll stay."
"I need to pack the tents."
"The hell you do! You move a muscle and I'll cuff you to the steering wheel."
Ianto froze. He knew that Jack would not hesitate to keep his promise. Behind him on the backseat Gwen could not suppress a chuckle. Jack glanced at her warningly and turned to leave but changed his mind and threw another look into the car.
That was when Ianto dared to shift his position to get a little more comfortable.
"What did I say?" Jack smirked, reaching behind his back. The horrified look standing in Ianto's eyes now tore his heart apart. "I'm sorry, Ianto. That was a bad idea. I don't even have handcuffs. See?" He held his empty hands out for him to see.
"Bad joke," Ianto hissed. "Bloody bad joke."
"I know. I couldn't help myself."
"When can you?"
Gwen decided that she should better get out of range and left the car on the passenger side.
Jack looked rather sheepish. "Sorry. I didn't think."
"Yeah? Seems to be a new sport…" Ianto mumbled and looked out of the side window.
Being ignored like that Jack decided to go and he left to get started with the tent that was still partially standing.
"That was a really bad idea, Jack Harkness," he scolded himself. "Thoughtless and insensitive. No wonder he's mad at me."
Not mad, really, he realized as he bent down to the first tent peg. He certainly is still in shock. We should look out for him. He did well in the crisis, but he's obviously having trouble handling the aftermath.
While he was working Jack let his mind wander. So he did not pay attention to movement to his left side, assuming it was Owen or Toshiko.
"Hey, bastard!" a young but mercilessly cool voice startled Jack out of his thoughts. "Feel righteous having killed my parents?"
Jack looked up at a man of barely twenty years. More frightening than the voice or the steely gaze the boy fixated him with, though, was the rifle in his hands.
"Say your last prayer," the boy hissed, taking aim.
All Jack could do was stare at him incredulously. Who's that? And where are Tosh and Owen?
"No last words? Well, not my problem."
And with that the boy pulled the trigger. The load of pellets smashed into Jack's stomach, throwing him into the grass on his back.
"What the hell?!" Jack heard Owen shout like through thick fog. His vision blurred. He could see a dark shadow towering over him.
Then he knew nothing anymore.
"Jack?" Toshiko screamed and started to run to the tent where she had last seen him. From her right side Owen came running.
The beep of the SUV's horn cut through the silence that had followed the shot. While Toshiko stopped and turned to look at the car Owen kept running, never thinking of the fact that he was unarmed.
"Owen!" Gwen shouted, trying to stop him.
"Nobody moves!" someone yelled. "Stop! Or he's dead!"
All three of them froze in their tracks, turning to the man who had spoken. He stood on the driver's side of the SUV, pulling a feebly struggling Ianto by his hair out of the car, holding a gun to his head.
Ianto was terrified. So were Gwen, Toshiko, and Owen.
Ianto could not see Jack anywhere and that scared him even more, especially as he had seen a flash behind the tent. The shot thundered and as their leader was not coming to their aid that could only mean that he was incapacitated, was injured or worse.
None of them knew what to do.
"Your friend's dead," a young man coming from behind the tent said. "Make a wrong move and you're following him. Who's got the keys?"
They just looked at each other questioningly.
"Of the car, guys. Who's got the keys?"
"Jack was driving," Toshiko choked.
"I see. Martin! Make sure they don't try anything."
"Sure," the other man grunted, wrapping his arm around Ianto's neck to hold him tight and pressing the muzzle of his gun against the young man's head.
A moment later Gethin reappeared and marched over to Martin.
"Thanks for the car," he said, waving the keys at them. "Goodbye!" Smirking he reached for the handle of the right backdoor, pulling it open. "Come!" he yelled at his cousin and swung the driver's door open, too.
"Yeah, come," Martin snarled and pulled Ianto with him.
"No," Ianto moaned. Someone shoot the bastard! Jack! He was scared shitless. If those men belong to the villagers… and take me with them… what're they gonna do with me?
"Let Ianto go!" Owen shouted. "You have the car. You don't need him to get away!"
"Aah," Gethin mused. "I think we should keep a hostage."
"No!" Toshiko yelled, stepping forward. "Not Ianto! Take me!"
Ianto thought his heart would burst out of his chest it was beating so hard. Not Tosh! They can't take Tosh! But he could not object. The arm pressing on his throat choked every word he would try to say.
Still his blue eyes burned with determination when he searched her gaze, pleading with her not to come closer. Toshiko, though, did not let herself be stopped.
"What do you want with him?" she asked. "He's useless. Well, he makes good coffee, but that's it. I can hack any computer you want, break into security systems."
"Tosh!" Gwen gasped as she heard her offer her skills. Holding up his hand Owen tried to stop her.
"I'll go with you, help you free your folks. In return you'll let me go then. That's the deal."
Both men looked at each other, Gethin suspicious, Martin rather insecure but hopeful.
"So what do you say?" Toshiko pushed. "Do we have a deal?"
"No deals with my personnel without my permission!" a very familiar voice thundered across the clearing. "Let go of him or so help me god…"
Everyone stared at Jack who strode toward them, his Webley raised, taking aim at Martin.
The man holding Ianto started to tremble when he saw the captain cross the distance between tent and car. He had no doubt that he would shoot.
"B-b-but you…" Gethin gasped and jerked his own gun up, ready to shoot.
"Oh really?" Jack said, seeing the trigger finger pull back.
Gethin was way too slow. For a second or two he stood unmoving, his eyes wide with surprise at the puncture hole between his eyes. Then he fell.
Gwen and Toshiko shrieked.
Martin pushed Ianto off himself, making him fall, and tried to hobble away.
"Stop!" Jack barked and Martin did as he was told, holding up his hands in surrender. "Sit!" Martin did that, too.
Shocked team Torchwood stood amidst the remains of their camp.
Toshiko shook off her rigor and squatted down beside Ianto, wrapping her arms around him, and hugging him to her chest. Jack strode past them to tie Martin up. Gwen was shaking and searched for something to sit on, but could only sink down in the grass.
Owen, though, looked rather angry when he approached Toshiko and Ianto.
"Hey, teaboy!" the doctor snapped. "Why the bloody hell did you let them into the car? That glass is bullet-proof! You could've just shut the fucking doors!"
"And left the rest of you out there to get killed?" Ianto screamed back, almost sobbing and shaking in Toshiko's hold.
"Why are you picking on Ianto?" Toshiko growled. "It wasn't his fault!"
"No? Wasn't it your fault, teaboy? You just had to shut the bloody door!"
"If it had just been you, maybe I would have," Ianto panted with sudden, unrestrained rage. "If only to keep you from screaming at me!" Painfully he gasped for breath. "But there were Jack and Tosh and Gwen to think about and… Jack?" Ianto's head whipped around so suddenly that his neck cracked. "Are you all right?"
"Yeah, I'm fine," the captain said, offering them a reassuring smile that grew to a smirk, "Remember? I'm not that easily deleted…"
Astonished he looked at four shocked faces.
"Hey, it's okay. I'm alive and well. No worries, okay?"
"Yeah, Jack," Toshiko murmured. "It's just that he… he said, he shot you."
"Ah, well, he certainly thought he did." Jack smirked. Still he felt them eyeing him up and down, from head to toe, for an injury. There was some blood in his hair, but other than that there was no indication of him being wounded. "Okay, guys," Jack said. "I want you to make yourselves comfortable here. I'm gonna call Detective Inspector Morrison and then pack up our stuff."
They groaned. It was clear what they thought, Not the police again. But they were left no choice. The police would have to pick up Martin, too.
"I'll help you," Toshiko offered.
"Thanks, Tosh, but I'd rather you'd stay with Ianto." Encouragingly he nodded at them. Then his gaze fixed on Owen. "Maybe you want to help me?"
It was phrased as a question, but the tone was commanding, and Owen knew better than to disobey. Something told him that if they were not all so utterly shattered right now he would be getting his ears blistered with a lecture for picking a fight with the teaboy.
"Sure," he grumbled.
The doctor was left a short reprieve while Jack made the call, but then they started to collect their equipment and stuff it into the SUV.
Detective Inspector Morrison was remarkably courteous for a local copper playing host to a group of Special Ops investigators who kept dropping corpses and casualties in his lap without a proper reason for being on his patch. By the time Jack and Owen had finished loading the SUV, he had completed his interviews with Toshiko and Gwen, and was chatting with Ianto in the warmth of his police car. Owen sat in the SUV with the girls, still sulking about being made to help pack up the campsite. He honestly would have preferred a lecture.
Jack stood leaning against the back of the SUV, trying to look like he was not keeping an eye on Ianto, but once the ambulance left with the corpse of Gethin Sherman and the police car took Martin Llewelyn away it became increasingly difficult to play the disinterested bystander. Concern was eating away at Jack and so he withstood the urge to join the others in the SUV as well as watching over Ianto too unashamedly. When Morrison got out of the driver's side of his car and frantically waved him over, though, he gave up all pretence of minding his own business and took off running.
"What's wrong?" Jack panted, breathless not from the run but his worry for his youngest team member.
"I'm not sure, Captain," Morrison replied. "I think I touched a subject he got pretty upset over, but, well, I think, is not allowed to talk about."
"I see," Jack murmured, not really seeing through yet, and ducked into the car. "Ianto?"
The young man sat in the passenger seat, staring blankly out in the distance. He had his arms wrapped around his body, his hands clutching at the fabric of the jacket they had found in the remaining equipment. It should warm him, but Ianto still was shivering violently.
Whatever it was, it has shaken him badly. Jack was not sure about what to do. Over his shoulder he glanced at Morrison, contemplating asking him what he had tried to talk about but deciding against it.
"Ianto?" he softly asked. "What happened? How can I help you?"
There was no reply.
Feeling the urge to make it better by reassuring contact Jack murmured, "May I touch you?"
Once more he got no answer.
Uncertain about what he should do or say Jack just sat in the driver's seat rather helplessly.
Suddenly Ianto sucked in a breath that seemed to catch in his throat painfully. His blue eyes brimmed with tears and his bottom lip trembled. His breathing became erratic and he started to rock forward and back.
Now Jack could not hold himself back. Comfortingly his arms wrapped around Ianto, pulling him close. He felt a shudder run through the younger man's body. A sob escaped between hard gasps and Jack reflexively hugged him tighter. It was an attempt to reassure Ianto of his presence and Jack found himself crooning softly.
"It's okay, Ianto," he murmured. "You're safe. Nothing bad will happen. I promise. I'll take care of you and the others. You have my word."
Still Ianto could not stop himself from quivering, tremor after tremor coursing through him.
"I'm so sorry, Ianto," Jack whispered. "All this wasn't supposed to happen. I'm so sorry. Really."
"…you were dead."
Jack only got half of what Ianto whispered so lowly and tonelessly that he was not sure at first if he heard something at all.
"You thought he shot me?" he choked and sensed Ianto nod. "Oh, c'mon," he hugged him closer. "I'm okay. No harm done."
"The blood," Ianto rasped, pulling back from Jack's hold and fixating his captain with a scrutinizing gaze that was so intense that it was all Jack could do not to flinch. "All… that blood and… there's not even a scratch."
How perceptive! Now Jack returned the stare. None of the others said anything. Did they just not notice? Okay, Gwen knows, but the others would wonder…
"He missed me. I'm sure he said he shot me because he wanted to scare you to gain the upper hand." Jack smiled reassuringly, he hoped.
Still he could not chase the anxiety from Ianto's beautiful features. His face contorted with emotional pain and he struggled to say something. The words caught in the young man's tightening throat.
Then Jack shuddered.
For just a split second he had seen something in Ianto's stunning blue eyes that he had always hoped to see.
Then it was gone again and Jack felt a strange emptiness try and suffocate him. Ianto turned away from him. His breathing had slowed down again and he was not shaking like a leaf anymore.
It's simply too much for him, Jack thought. We should get the hell out of here.
"Wait a moment," he murmured, retreated out of the car and walked around the front to open the passenger door for Ianto. Without further ado the young Welshman got up. When he stood beside Jack his face was an unreadable mask.
"Detective Inspector Morrison," Jack said. "It's time. We need to get back to Cardiff. Are we free to go?"
Morrison considered his request for a moment, and finally nodded. Captain Harkness probably had the clout to get away with telling him to bugger off, but he and his team had been quite helpful. A little professional courtesy was in order.
"Right, you go on then," Morrison agreed. "But I would appreciate it if you and Dr. Harper would each make a statement about this incident at some point in the near future. We can do that by phone in the next day or so if you like and then, you can sign them along with the other statements I am sending to Cardiff Police HQ."
"We can do that," Jack agreed. "Goodbye."
Morrison nodded and watched the captain lead Ianto to the SUV and manoeuvre him into the passenger seat there. Then the captain climbed in on the driver's side and off they went.
It was a silent ride.
No one felt like talking at all and so they sat, for once content with Jack driving, and tried to relax. Gwen leaned against Owen, her head resting on his shoulder and was slowly dozing off. Owen only stared out through the windshield, willing Cardiff to show up on the horizon as soon as possible. And Toshiko laid her forehead against the cool side window.
Ianto looked like he was asleep, but Jack was not sure about that. Sure, he was exhausted, but he also was agitated and so sleep would not come easily. Right now, though, Jack did not want to push any of them. He was glad to have them all here in the car, safe and sound.
It could've turned out so much worse. Jack shuddered. I don't want to think about how much worse.
He slowed a little down as he spotted a derelict vehicle sitting in the field off to the side of the road. As he cruised by, he heard Owen grunt.
"Hey!" Owen suddenly exclaimed. "Wasn't that the lunch van where we ate yesterday?"
"Looked like it," Jack confirmed, picking up speed. "Tosh, can you patch me through to DI Morrison? I forgot to ask him something."
"Shit! And I was hoping to get a decent burger for lunch."
"Ugh," Toshiko and Gwen moaned at the same time with disgust at the imagination of meat.
Dr. Harper needs to prove how tough he is again, huh? Ianto thought, but kept his eyes closed, pretending to be asleep. His stomach rolled unpleasantly and he wished to fall asleep to be relieved of the throbbing pain in his head and the dull ache throughout his body.
"Yeah, a burger," Owen insisted. "I'm hungry."
"Try a salad," Toshiko groaned. "Or a spring roll."
"Vegetarian pizza," Gwen suggested sleepily.
"Lentil stew," Jack said.
"Baked potatoes with sour cream," Ianto murmured without as much as opening his eyes.
"Spaghetti with oil, garlic, and chili."
"Sweet potato casserole."
The suggestions came rolling and Owen rolled his eyes with exasperation.
Behind the steering wheel Jack listened with half an ear to the conversation as he waited for his call to ring through to the inspector, and he could not help but smirk. This sounded like them joining up against the doctor… and a little like a team. So maybe something good would come out of the disaster in the end.
They were battered, shaken, exhausted, and sick, but not beaten. Jack drove them home to their base with a hopeful heart, looking forward to them becoming the team he always dreamed of.