A Thousand Years' Time

A Torchwood Angst/Hurt/Comfort Fanfic

Summary:
He'd made a promise to a dying man he intended to keep, even after all these years away.

Rated K for nothing but allusions to stuff.

Disclaimer: Nothing is mine. I wouldn't've ended Torchwood as RTD did if it was. Hell, the "Children of Earth" special wouldn't exist.

A/N: I couldn't stand days 4 or 5 of Children of Earth. Absolutely couldn't. So I wrote this, to ease the pain a bit. It didn't really help. I don't think it's angsty enough, but that might just be 'cause I'm personally in a lot of pain from falling off a horse Thursday and am therefore cranky and pessimistic.

Spoilers: "Children of Earth" specials

(861 words)

A thousand years' travel had turned him into a different man. It was enough time to actually have an effect on him. Finally, the ghost of age played on his features, though it was maybe only the effects a tough year might have on a mortal human.

Still, if the time that had passed for him was anything to go on, he'd only look five million years old when the Earth was roasted.

But now, when he stepped upon the Earth, that future was a long way off and there wasn't a person on the entire planet that even might know of it.

And all he had, anyway, was memories of the past.

* * *

He was here because of a promise to a dying man.

Hadn't someone, somewhere along the way, told him not to do that? "Don't make promises to the dead." Or was it "Don't break promises to the dead"?

Or "Don't make promises you can't keep"?

Whoever it was, whatever they'd told him, it didn't matter now. He'd made the promise, and there was no way he was backing out on it. Not on this promise. Not to this –

A solitary tear rolled down his cheek.

* * *

He climbed the hill alone.

Of course he did. There was no one who remembered his face around now. A thousand years had passed. The 31st Century. At least, by some stroke of luck, these heart-wrenching graves, the ones that held every memory of the life – lives – he'd once lived here, were undamaged.

He'd climbed the hill alone, but he was surrounded by ghosts. In fact, there were more graves than he remembered having put there; remembered having accounted for. Gwen and Rhys, he suddenly realized, must have had more than that one child he'd known about. Who'd been the stay-at-home parent? Gwen was out of a job, but she didn't seem the one to settle down like that.

He shook his head, bringing himself back to the present. He climbed and climbed, through the graveyard that was dominated by Williams and their futures. As he really climbed the hill, the years went back and back, until he finally reached the generation that he was looking for.

He was stopped by a name before he got there.

Jack Owen Williams
2010-2114
"A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. It may well be noted that this was a man, not a rose, and therefore would never smell as sweet, though he may have lived up to his name."

* * *

"Jack." He turned, and saw a bit older Gwen than the one he'd left, standing over a grave. "I'm a hologram," she explained, then went on to business. "I knew you'd come back one day." The hologram of his former partner, former friend, sighed. "If I haven't died yet, please, please come back and visit me. I don't care –" Here, her voice hitched, but she braved on. "I do care that you left, but I want to see you before I die." The artificial image had tears streaming down her face.

As if coming here hadn't been hard enough for him already.

"I know you're here to see Ianto, so I'll leave you to it. I just want you to know that I love you. No, don't give me that look, the one I know you're giving me. You're my best friend, Jack, and I love you like a brother.

"You shouldn't have run away from me like that." And with that sentiment left for him to think on, the message clicked off.

* * *

Now, after all that prelude, he made it to the grave he wanted. He read over the inscription he'd carved into the worn stone, all those years ago.

Ianto Jones
1982-2009
"Better to die fighting than fight dying, but best of all to die in loving arms."

He kneeled on the ground and leant his head against the gravestone. "Oh, Ianto," he murmured, tears cascading down his cheeks. "I kept my promise. A thousand years and I still remember."

Silent tears were streaming down his face when he could have sworn he heard a knock, like wood through six feet of dirt. Then he realized what he was thinking and stopped. He stopped daring to hope.

Then, out of nowhere, he heard another one. What he was hearing – what he thought he was hearing – was completely impossible. A thousand years sitting in dirt had decomposed that beautiful face – no, don't think like that, he ordered himself – and rotted away the wood.

A third clear knock emanated through the earth. He dropped to the ground, pressing his ear against it.

One last knock rose up from the depths. He frantically tore at the soil, which fell away in his hands like it had just been poured in. In what seemed like no time at all, he'd relocated pounds of dirt. His back ached and his fingers bled, and he'd only barely reached the casket, let alone devised a way to pry it open.

* * *

He was a bloody, aching, disheveled, and disheartened mess when he pried apart the surprisingly well-preserved wood and gazed upon his long lost lover once again.

"Ianto..."

A/N: Apparently, I'm amazing at guessing; trektotorch was nice enough to go and look up Ianto's birthday for me. It's "officially" 2/12/82, if anyone's wondering.

I feel it was a bit cheap to have Gwen name her son – the one she was pregnant with when Jack left – Jack Owen Williams, but the name works, so I let her.

I hope that helps someone out there, somewhat.