When she regained consciousness Olivia was surprised to find herself in the medical lab, lying on the exam table. She blinked rapidly, working to clear her vision while her brain sought to separate the voices she was hearing.
"Pulse and blood pressure normal."
"She's breathing fine."
Someone shined a painfully bright light into her eyes, causing her to wince and groan.
"Pupils reactive, and unless I'm mistaken she appears to be coming around."
"Yes, she is," Olivia said, her eyes tightly shut. "And she'd appreciate it if you wouldn't shine that light in her eyes again." There was a quick burst of relieved laughter and she opened her eyes. After a moment in which assorted images swam before her eyes the faces of Martha and Ianto came into focus, looking concerned, and then the white tiled walls of the lab. She sat up, assisted by Ianto's hand on her back, and took stock of her surroundings.
"How did I get here?" she asked. "The last thing I remember was being on the plaza."
"You fainted," Ianto said, his hand warm where it still rested between her shoulder blades.
"Fainted?!" Olivia asked, incredulous. "I don't faint! Why would I have fainted?" Then she looked down at her legs and saw the blood that stained her jeans. It was a lot of blood. She pointed at one of her legs. "Does that have something to do with it?"
Martha and Ianto exchanged a glance. "Yes and no," Martha said, a secretive smile tugging at the corners of her mouth. Olivia waited for more of an explanation, but none was forthcoming.
"OK, so I fainted, apparently while we were out on the plaza. That still doesn't answer the question of how I ended up here, in the lab."
"Jack brought you in," Ianto replied. "He came down the lift carrying you before the others returned via the regular door."
"Jack carried me?" Olivia asked, looking puzzled. "But he was. . ." her voice trailed off and her eyes narrowed.
"Here it comes," Ianto whispered to Martha.
"He was dead," Olivia said, giving her head a slight shake to get rid of the fog that still gripped her. "I saw him die! He was dead!" Suddenly her eyes widened and an angry flush suffused her face.
"That tears it," Martha whispered to Ianto.
"THAT BASTARD!!!!" Olivia shouted, leaping down off of the exam table, anger stiffening what would otherwise have been wobbly legs. "Where is he? I'll kill him myself this time!"
Ianto stepped in front of Olivia and put a hand on her shoulder, holding her steady. "It won't do you much good to kill him," he said with a grin. "He always comes back."
Olivia took a deep breath, praying for a measure of self-control. "Where is he?" she asked again, sounding much calmer this time. "I think even the two of you would agree that I need to talk to him."
Ianto and Martha looked at each other, silently communicating. It was nearly a minute before Ianto gave a curt nod and stepped aside. "He's in the vaults," he told Olivia, gesturing for her to precede him from the lab. "He's with the Doctor and our newest guest."
"Guest?" Olivia asked as they made their way across the main room to the entrance to the vaults. "Is it. . . Did the virus work?"
Ianto grinned. "It worked perfectly. We've got the one Krillitane in our vaults right now, and Gwen and Rhys are out on the trail of another one. Without that ability to manipulate time any of them currently on Earth are stuck here."
"And Jack is. . ."
"He's alive and well," Ianto replied. "As always." He glanced at the woman at his side. "I wouldn't lay odds on him staying well once you get a hold of him, though."
Olivia laughed. "Do I seem that mad?"
"I would be in your place. And we've all already seen what you can do with one punch." Ianto pulled open the door that led to the main vault corridor, standing aside to let Olivia pass through before following.
Jack and the Doctor stood about halfway down the hallway, talking in low yet earnest voices. Occasionally one or the other would gesture toward the cell at their backs and the tone of his voice would become harsher, more demanding, but not louder. The conversation came to an abrupt halt and they both turned when they heard Olivia and Ianto's footsteps approaching. Jack made a move as if to hide behind the Doctor, but then stopped, squaring his shoulders and waiting. Nothing could wipe the look of apprehension off of his face, however.
Olivia bit down on her lower lip to keep from laughing. "I'm not planning on hitting you, if that's what you're worried about." She came to a halt beside Jack and the Doctor and looked into the cell. The Krillitane lay stretched out on the concrete shelf inside the cell, half-turned so that his wings wouldn't get crushed. Without the glaring orange eyes he was much less menacing, so she took a couple of steps closer.
"What's the matter with him?" she asked. "Did you drug him somehow?" she continued, looking at Jack.
Jack and Ianto laughed, so the Doctor answered. "You did that, Olivia. He's still unconscious from when you hit him." He took a step closer to the clear Plexiglas that made up the front of the cell. "Maybe Krillitanes are extra sensitive around the jaw, sort of like the base of the skull on a human. One good blow and you can knock someone out for hours."
"Can't you do something to wake him up?"
"Why?" Jack asked. "Do you want to talk to him about something?"
"No," Olivia said with a shake of her head. "But I figured you would."
Jack was quiet for so long that the others were beginning to think he wouldn't respond. Then he shook his head. "No. There's nothing I need to know from him."
"What about how he knows you?" the Doctor asked. "Aren't you even a little bit curious?"
"A bit," Jack said with a grin. "But I can deal with not knowing. Who I am right now is more important that who I was, or who I might become."
The Doctor smiled in response. "That's the spirit. Besides, chances are that meeting, if it was to take place in the future, won't ever happen now. He and any of his friends are stuck."
"What are we going to do with them?" Ianto asked. "I know we have to track down any other Krillitanes that might be on Earth, but what do we do when we find them?"
"Send them off somewhere," the Doctor said. "You have the capacity to open the rift in a limited way, right? So open it up and shove them through."
"But there's no guarantee that they'll survive such a trip," Jack said.
"There weren't any guarantees that they'd survive when they started playing with time on their own, either," the Doctor said. "Putting them inside a crack in the rift is no more of a risk than what they already chose to do."
"He's right," Olivia said. "The Krillitanes as a species had already made the choice to muck about with time, which means accepting all of the risks involved." She looked at Jack and Ianto. "Your consciences can be clear on that point."
Jack looked pensive for a moment. "I'd like to do it in a relatively safe manner, all the same. We'll keep this one, and any others we get a hold of, here in the vaults for the time being."
There wasn't really any more to be said on that subject. The four of them stood in the corridor, surrounded by an awkward silence, for a few minutes before Ianto cleared his throat.
"Right, then," he said, glancing from Olivia to Jack. "Back to work." He walked off with one quick backward look as he pulled open the door. Jack gave a barely perceptible nod and Ianto disappeared.
Both Jack and Olivia looked at the Doctor, who seemed somewhat oblivious to any undercurrents in the air. When he noticed the two of them all but glaring at him he started. "Oh," he said. "I should probably. . ." He looked towards the door. "I'll be going now." And he quickly walked away and slipped through the door.
Olivia breathed a sigh of relief as soon as the door closed. "I didn't fancy having this conversation with witnesses," she mumbled to herself before she turned and hit Jack; a hard, stinging slap that left her hand tingling and the crack of contact echoing. Jack staggered back, his hand pressed to his now red cheek, and stared at her with wide eyes.
"You said you weren't planning on hitting me!" he exclaimed.
"I changed my mind," Olivia said, her voice rising. "Why didn't you tell me? WHY?!"
He didn't need to ask what she was referring to. He lowered his hand from his face and shoved both hands in his pockets. "It's not the sort of thing that comes up in general conversation."
"This morning wasn't general conversation!" Olivia shouted, losing control of her emotions. "I asked you to give me a reason to trust you! You could have told me right at that moment!"
"I could have, yes," Jack replied, looking somewhat chagrinned and subdued. "But you said you would trust me without an explanation." He looked up and met Olivia's eyes. "It was important that you trusted me and had faith. I mean, if you're going to be a part of this team I need you to take some things on faith."
"What makes you think I'm going to stay here and be a part of the team?"
That gave Jack pause; he had to make a conscious effort to not drop his jaw. "I just thought. . ." he began.
"Maybe you thought wrong, did you ever consider that? Maybe I don't want to stay. I have my memory back; most of it anyway. I could go anywhere and do anything. I was freelance investigating when I lost my memory and I can do that again."
"This is about him, isn't it?"
Olivia briefly looked as if she wanted to laugh, but then answered Jack seriously. "No, it isn't. This is about me, Jack. Not about 'him' or anybody else."
Jack flushed. "I thought –"
"Stop thinking," Olivia interrupted him. "And stop trying to think for me; I'm pretty good at doing that myself." And she turned and walked away, yanking open the door and storming through, leaving Jack alone and feeling more confused than he had in years.
By the time Gwen and Rhys returned to the Hub (with a slightly groggy Krillitane in tow) the place had become a study in awkward silences. Jack was sulking in his office, Martha was engrossed in something in the lab, and Ianto was just doing his best to stay out of everyone's way. Neither Olivia nor the Doctor where anywhere to be found.
Olivia had, in fact, retreated to one of Jack's favourite haunts as soon as she was certain he'd stay in his office. Despite what she felt was her justified anger at the secret he had kept from he she was rather ashamed of how she had spoken to him. Especially in implying that she had no reason to stay on Earth and work with the Torchwood team, because the truth was she really didn't want to leave. The idea of going back to a rootless existence with nothing but her wits and a Vortex Manipulator to get by on did not appeal at all.
Staying on Earth did appeal, mainly because with her memory back she saw Torchwood as the best chance she had of returning to medicine. Jack needed a doctor, and it was fairly obvious that Martha was content working with UNIT. So why shouldn't Olivia step in and take over that role? It wouldn't be hard to work up credentials and licenses; she had seen the team work that kind of magic before. And if she was honest with herself she knew that she wanted to be a doctor again more than anything.
A cold blast of wind gusted across the roof of the Millenium Centre, causing her to shiver. It was long past time to return inside; her hands felt like two blocks of ice and she imagined her nose was approximately the colour of a cherry. But she felt calmer and more assured then when she had first climbed to the roof, having made a decision about her future. Now she just had to face the music below and make that decision known.
The Hub was buzzing with chatter when she returned. Everyone was gathered around the Tardis, and it was obvious that the Doctor was preparing to leave. She watched as first Martha and then Gwen kissed him on the cheek, then Rhys exchanged a few words before shaking his hand with a grin. Ianto was somewhat solemn as he said his good byes, and then Jack stepped forward. The warmth of their farewell was genuine, but then they both tensed, as if suddenly discussing something much more serious. Olivia moved closer in an effort to catch some of their conversation.
". . . force her to do something she doesn't want to do," she heard the Doctor say.
Jack's immediate reply to that was indistinct, although it was clear from the change on the Doctor's face that the words were not what he expected. "Take care of her," Jack said. "That's all I ask." He turned then and saw Olivia standing near. His eyes clouded with some unknown emotion and he stepped aside, nodding at the others as he did so. They all walked off, but not without a couple of backward glances.
The Doctor gave Olivia a questioning look and then turned and entered the Tardis. She followed, curious as to what he might have to say to her that he couldn't chance being overheard. The door of the Tardis shut soundly behind her as she looked at him across the control panel.
"So," he said, looking somewhat nervous.
"So, indeed," Olivia replied, crossing her arms.
"Jack thinks you want to come with me."
"I know he does.
"Do you?" the Doctor asked, looking hopeful and almost heartbreakingly like the young man she had known (and loved, she could admit to herself) so many centuries ago. "Because I want that." He stepped forward and took her hands in both of his. "More than anything."
Olivia felt the pull of emotions that she had thought long dead. She had suffered a great deal due to her decision to reject becoming a Time Lord, not the least of which had been losing his friendship. But as time had past, and then more time, she had grown to realize that she had been right from the start. The life of a Time Lord wasn't for her. It hadn't been what she wanted then and it wasn't what she wanted now.
She gently slid her hands from the Doctor's. "I'd like to be with you," she whispered. "More than you could ever know. But in the end we both know it wouldn't be right."
His face fell, but after a moment he nodded in agreement. "It's too late, isn't it?"
Olivia gave a weak smile. "It was too late a long time ago." She looked behind her at the closed door of the Tardis, as if seeing beyond it to the Hub. "Besides, Jack needs me," she continued, turning back to face him. "You don't."
"What if I said I did?"
"You'd be lying."
Silence stretched between them as they gazed at each other, neither willing to take the next step or say the next word. Finally Olivia stepped close and wrapped her arms around his waist.
"I'll miss you," she said. "I always did."
The Doctor bent his head and kissed her softly. "I know," he said, drawing a grin from her. "And for the record I always missed you as well." He released her then and stepped back, moving part of the way around the ship's central column. He cleared his throat.
"Ummm. . . Well. . ." He cleared his throat again. "Remember when we talked in here before?" he asked.
Olivia laughed. "It feels like it was a lifetime ago."
"Well, you wanted to know what I was working on with the parts that were scattered about." He looked awkward for a moment and then held out a hand towards her. "Here," he said. "I thought you might find a use for it."
Olivia took the sonic screwdriver out of his hand and stared almost reverently at it. "You made another one? For me?"
The Doctor nodded and closed her hand around the metal tube. "I thought - you know - if you planned on staying here it might not be a bad idea. Especially as opposed to carrying a gun like Jack and the others do."
She grinned. "I was a Time Agent; I'm used to carrying a gun." She ran a finger along the shell of the instrument, surprised that it felt warm, almost alive. Then she pushed the button that activated it and a soft, greenish glow illuminated her face. She looked up at the Doctor. "It's green!" she exclaimed.
He shrugged. "Your favourite colour," he said, reaching out and pushing a lock of hair behind her ear. "I never forgot."
"Thank you," she whispered, pocketing the screwdriver and turning to leave. At the door of the Tardis she turned back one last time.
"No," the Doctor said before she could speak again. "Thank you."
She smiled gently at that then pressed her lips to her fingertips before waving goodbye. She walked out of the Tardis, pulled the door to and leaned back against it.
With a loud Whoosh the ship started to dematerialize and Olivia jumped away from it, startled. She stood and watched as it slowly disappeared, surrounded by a miniature whirlwind that sent papers flying and tousled her hair. When the Tardis had completely vanished she brushed the tears from her cheeks and made her way to Jack's office, passing a stunned Ianto, Gwen and Rhys as she did.
The door of the office creaked slightly as she pushed it open. Jack was sitting with his back to the door and didn't turn around. "Is she gone, then?" he asked.
"Is who gone?" Olivia replied, gratified by the way Jack's shoulders stiffened when he heard her voice. He turned around slowly and a grin transformed his face.
"Welcome to the team, Doctor Raines."
Author's Note: In case it wasn't obvious from the conspicuous lack of Pregnant!Gwen and Dead!Ianto this story is meant to have taken place after Doctor Who: Journey's End and before Torchwood: Children of Earth. I don't really have any plans for any COE canon-compliant fics (except for one possible one-shot story that I haven't decided on), so anything else I write for Torchwood will need to be considered Alternate Universe. Not just because I plan on keeping Ianto alive but because Olivia, the original character in this story, will be making further appearances.