Notes: The full oneshot for #91 from 'Snapshots of Smiles'. Requested by WickedWitchoftheSE, captainme and Sony Boy.
Disclaimer: I do not own Torchwood and I am not making any profit from this work.
In Another World
This letter is the product of our experiments to contact another parallel universe; hopefully, specifically the alternate version of our own organisation. My name is Captain Jack Harkness, and I am the leader of Torchwood Three, or Torchwood: Cardiff, as of the year 2000. Hopefully, this letter has reached my counterpart or, if not, any operatives of Torchwood Three.
The experiment was begun by Torchwood One with the ghosts, but never completed. Scientists from Torchwood Two and Three (Irene Johnson, Mark Painter, and Toshiko Sato, respectively) theorised that base level of communication would be a safer way to establish contact with other parallel dimensions as opposed to simply pushing them together. Hence this letter. Toshiko has enclosed instructions to return communication, and we need you to do so to inform us that our experiments have worked.
I am enclosing some information about our current Torchwood Three, on Suzie's advice, in order to begin to further understanding on both sides of the nature of the differences between universes and where one split from another. The current Torchwood team is as follows: myself, Dr. Owen Harper, Miss Toshiko Sato, Miss Suzie Costello, Mrs Gwen Williams. I personally recruited all four of them, and the recently deceased Ianto Jones, former Torchwood One and Three operative.
The letter had been the result of what Jack assumed was a disastrous experiment, and he had forbidden the team from trying to find a way to respond.
"You should never connect parallel universes," he said firmly.
Now, he sat up in his office, the day drawing to close, and skimming through it with only mild interest. It was quite obvious that Suzie had really written the letter - she had always been very good at sounding posh on paper. How interesting, though, that she hadn't died in this team, yet Gwen had still been recruited. Had Ianto's death opened the gap for Gwen instead, or had the events been unrelated?
"Coffee, sir," Ianto said, elbowing the door open, and Jack flashed him a quick smile. He skipped the team information almost entirely - at a glance, it looked very much the same, and got to the end of the letter.
Hopefully you can see some points at which the two universes diverge. I would suggest that this would have happened at major turning points, but Toshiko informs me that this isn't necessary; all it would require would be one, simple decision. I await your response to see if this is true. Instructions to respond are on the back of these notes.
"Any earth-shattering secrets?" Ianto asked, glancing at the letter as he set down the mug, but Jack pushed the papers aside and drew Ianto down for a kiss. "Mm, what was that for?"
"Felt like it," Jack said. "Apology, I suppose."
"For what?" Ianto looked puzzled.
"Well, you're dead in their world," Jack said. "Thought I'd remind you you're not here."
Ianto chuckled dryly and said, "The twinge every time I move reminds me of that one, Jack."
Jack grinned, kissing him again, then let him go to let Ianto gather up the files scattered on the desk.
"Go on, then, how did I die?" Ianto asked as he stacked empty mugs on the tray. His tone was light and easy, and Jack felt a sense of pride in getting that macabre undertone to Ianto's voice when they discussed death to leave. That tone had always frightened him.
"Didn't read it, hang on," Jack said, reaching for the letter again and scanning it.
I will include Ianto Jones as he may well still be an operative with your team. Ianto was recruited after the fall of Torchwood One under the Battle of Canary Wharf. He was one of twenty-three survivors. Ianto died in December 2007 for crimes of treason against the Crown and nearly causing the resurrection of the Cybermen; he was shot dead under Torchwood policy, clause 331.
Jack crumpled up the letter violently and dropped it back to the desk, pushing his chair back. When Ianto shot him a surprised look, Jack reached out and caught his wrist, pulling him into his lap.
"It's a little early for games yet, Jack..." Ianto began, but Jack hugged him tight and Ianto shut up. "What did the letter say?"
"Don't," Jack said. He didn't want to tell him. Ianto shouldn't have to know that.
"Jack," Ianto said in his warning voice.
"Their Jack didn't care about you like I do," Jack insisted, tucking his face into Ianto's shoulder so he wouldn't have to see his face. Ianto had the face of an interrogator - one glower and you spilled all your secrets. "He gave up on you when I didn't. And you...died."
"Ah," Ianto said. "So. Would this be after Lisa, or after that village?"
Jack froze, and stared at Ianto aghast: "What?!"
"Only times I can think of," Ianto prompted. "You executed me after Lisa, or I killed myself after Lisa, or you didn't come for us when the cannibals caught Tosh and I, or I killed myself after the cannibals incident. They seem the most obvious choices."
"I..." Jack stammered.
"Okay," Ianto said, obviously shrugging the matter off, and Jack didn't know how he could be so calm about the whole thing.
So he asked.
"Because that wasn't you," Ianto said, "and that wasn't me. And, presumably, it's a past event if their me is dead and they're at the same point in time we are. Something that's gone. Done."
Jack was fairly sure the grammar in there was 'gone' too, but he simply tightened his grip in one last hug and let Ianto go, albeit a bit reluctantly. Ianto gave him a small, indulgent smile as he picked up the tray and dropped the crumpled letter on top of the brown files.
"Throw it away," Jack said.
"You mean file it."
"No. Throw it away."
Ianto blinked at him and said: "Why?"
"I don't want any contact with that man. I don't want to know. I don't want anyone to know."
Ianto stared at him for a moment longer, before he shrugged. "Okay."
Jack followed him to the door and opened it to let him out. As Ianto passed, Jack brushed a kiss against his temple and said: "I'm glad you're still here, you know. I really am."
Ianto didn't say anything, but leaned over and kissed Jack full on the lips for a very long five seconds, before disengaging and heading off to the acrhives. Jack watched him drop the letter into the pile for the paper shredder and let the tension in his shoulders ease.
He had never thanked himself for a decision so much in his entire life.