Doctor Angela Kilpatrick checked her clipboard once and matched the number of names on the sheet to the number of faces before her. Good. They were all here. She flipped to the second page for her notes. As she faced them once more, she worriedly bit her lip. This entire operation was risky. She didn't like it, the drug wasn't ready for human testing, but it wasn't her call. She was a doctor, but a very junior one.
If this worked, humanity would never have to worry about attrition by cancer or HIV or plague. If it didn't, she stood the possibility of being blacklisted from every medical job from hospital physician to school nurse.
"Al... alright, everyone," she started nervously. "Donna," she gestured to the nurse waiting beside the door, a similar clipboard clutched in her hands, "is going to call you into the room one-by-one. She will be collecting the waivers you signed as you come in. Feel free to take your time reading through the paperwork. If you haven't had enough time, we can move you to the end of the list."
She hoped her smile conveyed reassurance, though she didn't feel any. "I'll be giving you a shot of our test vaccine. There's an information sheet on the drug, currently in development under the serial X1B12 Omega, in your packet. The injection may sting a little, no more than getting any other shot." That was a lie. There was a chance that the vaccine would react negatively when it hit human blood. Some of the animals they'd tested it on had developed sores, some had gone strange. Most, actually, but the upper echelon were sure that the human element would make all the difference. "We'll move you into a resting room. Each of you will have your own bed, and we'd like to monitor you for the next forty-eight hours before we release you to your homes. You will be fully cared for during your stay here and our chef does take requests." She laughed nervously. Her attempt at humor fell flat. "Right. Payment will be debited to your accounts tonight and should be available for immediate withdrawal when you are released. Shall we begin?"
Angela couldn't help but feel that she'd botched that somehow. Her first big medical trial and all she had were doubts. Her smile was less than reassuring as she carefully administered the test drug to all twelve subjects. At least she didn't stutter as she listed off the possible side effects and rattled on about protocol during the resting period. The words were more an exercise to comfort herself than the patients.
Another nurse, Anne Marie, led each patient into the resting room. The mechanical noise coming from the next room increased with each patient as they were hooked up to an array of machines – IV drip, heart monitor, EEG. In a way, the repetitive beeping was soothing. It meant that everything was going alright, that her patients were alive and safe. Unbidden, images of their most recent batch of test animals came to mind. She shuddered as she remembered the blank stares of the monkeys they'd used and the howling cries as they'd thrown themselves bodily against their cages trying to escape.
She hoped that the head doctors were right, and her patients wouldn't suffer the same fate.
Seconds after she administered the vaccine to the twelfth and final patient, one of the heart monitors started to beep erratically. A second followed seconds later, and then a third. Anne and Donna rushed between patients, taking pulses and frantically administering sedatives. The sedatives wouldn't work, she knew from experience. The vaccine, the test drug, would burn it away before it got more than a foot through the bloodstream, eradicating it because it didn't belong there.
The patient nearest her started to convulse and she stood frozen. There was nothing she could do for them.
"What's happening?" Mrs. Ellis, the sixty-odd matron who still sat on the exam table, screamed at her. She had been screaming for quite some time.
"I don't know. I'm sorry."
Angela kept staring through the glass observation wall at the room beyond. Half of the patients had flat-lined, despite Anne and Donna's best efforts. The rest were only seconds behind. Mrs. Ellis's screams were cut off as her tongue swelled, blocking her airway. Out of the corner of her eye she saw Mrs. Ellis collapse against the table, her body spasming, feet banging against the metal storage box under the table. Minutes later, her seizure stopped and she was dead.
Donna flung open the door, tears staining her pretty face. "Why didn't you help us!?" She demanded.
"There was nothing I could do," Angela replied, her voice flat, emotionless. Anne and Donna were new, hired on specifically for the human trials. This was their first time seeing this. For Angela, this marked number seven.
She pulled her mobile from her pocket and pressed the first speed dial. The phone was answered on the first ring. They'd been waiting.
"We're here." She shuddered involuntarily. He must have her on speakerphone. She hated it when they talked like that, in unison. It made her blood run cold.
"They've died, sir. All the test subjects, all twelve. They're dead, sir."
There was a pause on the other end. "We'll send someone for clean-up."
"Don't let the nurses leave the building."
"Yes, sir." She started to hang up the phone but movement in the other room stopped her. "Wait, sir. There's something going on in the other room."
The first patient, a young kid by the name of Donald Trumpet, barely out of his teens, sat up. He was blocking the heart monitor with his body, but there was no reassuring beep of life from the machinery. Donald stood up and the machine leads pulled free, disconnecting. Subjects two and three were starting to rouse.
"Sir," she began softly, her voice a mix of wonder and trepidation, "I think it worked. The patients... they're moving." One by one the patients stood and turned towards the observation room, slowly shuffling their way forward like in a trance.
She heard the board draw a collective breath. "Are they alive?"
"I... I don't know."
"What are they doing?" Anne whispered to Donna. "Their monitors are all dead. They're still dead. That's not possible."
A glance at the nearest heart set of monitors confirmed. Even as the body connected to them started to rise, there was no heart activity. She shifted a step closer. There, on the EEG. There was a faint pulse. Not real activity but something, like there was a current running through the brain but no real thought.
"There's a slight reading on the EEG, sir," Angela reported. "There's a current there but no thought." This was so bizarre. None of the previous subjects had acted like this. Perhaps there was something special about human blood after all. "I don't know what-"
The rest of her sentence was cut off as she screamed. Pain exploded through her neck and she felt two sharp, stabbing cuts either side of her collarbone. The weight on her shoulder moved away and she fell. Blood spurted from the severed arteries in her neck, painting the walls in a wide arc of sprayed blood. The phone fell from her hand as it shook along with the rest of her body, heaving as life poured away from her. Vaguely, she was aware of Donna and Anne screaming, as well as a distant pounding, growing louder each second.
They wanted in.
Angela stared up at Mrs. Ellis. The woman's eyes were vacant. Blood – Angela's blood – dripped from her mouth and she turned on the two nurses with a feral grin.
She knew no more.
Gwen Cooper stepped outside of the coffee shop and frowned at the thick black storm clouds rolling in from the bay. So much for a day of shopping. It fit that her one day off in near two weeks would have bad weather. Best check in and make sure the storm wasn't related to any sort of rift activity.
Briefly she wondered if she should pick up anything for the boys while she was here. Ianto would have the coffee covered, but there were sweets. The coffee house did make rather good pastries. Even if the boys didn't want any, she wouldn't really mind having a go. There was a chance they wouldn't be there. They'd started venturing out of the Hub together more frequently for non-work things. Dating. Good for them if they were. She'd be fine on her own. More for her, in that case.
Her stomach made the decision for her, choosing that moment to growl loudly.
When Gwen stepped out onto the street a second time, the clouds had advanced to the first row of houses lining the bay. She pulled the collar of her coat up to block out some of the wind. It whipped at her. It was strong, obviously the driving force between the storm's rapid advance. Her shoes clattered loudly against the cobblestones. The street was rapidly becoming deserted as the other pedestrian took one look at the oncoming clouds and sought shelter.
Something large and heavy struck her as she passed the small alleyway between the bookstore and an apartment building. Her coffee splashed across the ground, the box of Danishes breaking open as it hit the street to send the pastries skidding away.
"Bollocks," she shouted as she shoved the man who'd tackled her off. "What the bloody hell do you think you're doing?"
The man stumbled back a ways, head down. Gwen quickly stood and put her hand on her pistol in case he had any weapons. It was just a young kid, unarmed, but the way he kept staring down at the road directly in front of him disturbed her. She was ready when he came at her again. Gwen clocked him across the head before he touched her, sending him down to the pavement.
"You picked the wrong bloody woman to mess with," she warned. "I've got a gun. You'd better run on home."
He twitched, groaned in pain, but didn't get up. A junkie, she thought. Saw a woman walking alone and thought he could hit her up for another fix. Bastard.
She spared a glance for the spilled coffee and pastries. Ruined. There went a couple quid wasted. As she hurried down the street towards the Hub, she spared a backwards glance for the kid who'd attacked her. He was slowly starting to pick himself up, moving awkwardly, disjointedly.
With a press of a button she had PC Andrew Davidson on the phone.
"Hello?" He answered in a harried sort of voice. There was a clamor in the background, and the sound of several voices raised in argument.
"Busy day?" Gwen asked.
"You have no idea," Andy drawled. "Make it quick."
She glanced back. The man was shuffling up the street away from her. "I just got accosted by a druggie off at the waterfront. Fended him off but I don't know if he's going to try for someone with a little less fight in them." She read off the address and gave him directions towards where the man was headed.
Andy sighed. "Seems all the loons are out today. Our cells are nearly full, but I'll send a squad car around."
Gwen blinked in surprise. "That bad?"
"Must be the full moon," Andy muttered. "Brings all the loonies out."
"Yeah, must be."
She snapped her phone closed and started towards the Hub with renewed urgency. It could be coincidence, but she'd still like to take a look at today's reading and make sure there wasn't anything going on with the Rift today.
Just what she needed, she thought, and on her bloody day off.
David Ackers winced as the businessman next to him elbowed him right in the arm as he rifled through the briefcase in his lap. He'd managed to hit David, right over the spot where that loon in the lobby had bitten him. Thankfully the nurse in the concourse had assured him that the man wasn't rabid, just having some sort of psychotic episode. How the man had gotten through the security at Cardiff Airport when he was so obviously ill, David had no idea. It had taken nearly a dozen men to subdue him after he'd attacked that poor little girl, and he'd either bitten or scratched all of them.
His hand throbbed in pain. The nurse had given him some Advil for it, but they didn't seem to help. He debated seeing if the stewardess had any more.
No, he thought. He'd be fine. He could deal with the pain. Wasn't even bleeding much anymore.
David settled back into his seat and shut his eyes. He rested his arm across his lap, well out of the way of flying elbows. Three days in the Netherlands and then he'd be back to see his family.
As the plane took off, his ears started to ring. It got worse and worse as they ascended, building into the most spectacular of headaches. Maybe the bite had been worse than he'd thought. Maybe he should have had it looked at. He tried to wring for the stewardess but his body didn't seem to want to move.
He passed out as the tremors started.
"Hello," Gwen called out as the door to the Hub started to roll back in place behind her. The computer terminals were on but unmanned, and to all outward appearances the Hub seemed deserted. "Anyone home?" She started towards the deck of computers that would always in her mind be firmly labeled as Tosh's.
Jack answered her seconds later. "Down in a moment." His voice carried through the open door of his office on the upper level.
She carefully hid a smile as Jack appeared, followed discretely by Ianto. The Welshman was pulling on his suit coat as he exited Jack's office and adjusting his tie. Didn't have to be a mind-reader to know what they'd been up to. Jack's huge grin was evidence enough. He hadn't bothered to fully button up his shirt and the undershirt he usually wore underneath was conspicuously absent, revealing a swath of smooth chest.
Ianto was a very lucky man.
"You're not supposed to be here today," Jack said, a faint reprimand carried in the tone of his voice.
"Mmmhmm," she agreed. Her smile took on a smug taint. "Neither are you."
"I live here," Jack pointed out. He was giving her the 'get out' facial signals. Obviously, she'd interrupted them before the main event.
"Just wanted to check on something real quick, and then I'll be out of your hair."
She brought up the day's readings of Rift activities.
"Looks normal," Ianto commented as he walked up beside her. He grabbed the dirty coffee cups and plates that had been left there by someone – likely Jack – since she'd last been in the Hub and moved on, building a small tower of dishes in his hands as he moved around the Hub, cleaning.
So much for the theory that it was something in the Rift.
"Well, that solves it." She double-checked the logs all the way into yesterday morning and found nothing unusual.
"Something up?" Jack asked. He sounded distracted. She glanced sideways at him. His eyes were following Ianto around the room, paying close attention to a particular part of his anatomy – his rear.
"Just some tweaker acting all weird at me this morning. Spilled my coffee and some Danishes. Police'll have him rounded up, so it's no bother, but I saw the storm and thought I'd check."
"Humans do strange things all the time without aliens being involved," Jack said. He paused for a moment. "You said there were Danishes?"
"Ruined, I'm afraid."
"If you're hungry, sir, I can call in," Ianto called from the vague direction of the kitchen.
"Don't bother," Jack called back. "We'll go out in a bit."
Gwen gave him an odd look. "A sit down? In this weather?"
Jack leaned forward to whisper conspiratorially in her ear. "What's more romantic than sharing an umbrella in the rain? Besides, it'll be less crowded this way and I'm all for anything that makes clothes stick to skin."
She laughed loudly. "You are incorrigible."
"I do try."
She gave the Rift monitors one last look-over. "You'll be here in case something goes odd?"
"If not, I've got alerts set up." He tapped his wristband.
"Well, then." She gave him and Ianto a broad smile as she left. "I'm off. You boys have fun."
"Don't we always?" Jack replied with an impudent grin. Ianto just waved from where he leaned against the kitchen doorway.
As she heading back towards the surface, she debated what to do with the rest of her evening. The prospect of a good cuddle was starting to appeal to her. Rain was lightly pelting the sidewalk as she reached the tourist office and glanced outside. She popped open an umbrella from the stand by the door and pulled out the phone. Maybe Rhys was home. She could stop for take-out, maybe a movie.
Plan in mind, she dialed.
Nerinder Shupali was running late. He dashed across the parking lot at LAX, heading towards the terminal. Hopefully his flight had been delayed, or security would be quick. For him, it never was. He was an American citizen, but try telling that to the crowds of shifty-eyed passengers who stared at him with suspicion or to the gate guards who always seemed to take extra long questioning him. He knew the standard list of questions by rote and had his official U.S. passport in hand as he burst through the doors.
The lobby was empty, deserted.
He frowned and approached the security checkpoint. There was no one there. Luggage was discarded along the walls and walkways, some seemingly left lying haphazardly in the middle of the terminal. He glanced at the information signs. Departures and arrivals scrolled across as usual, nothing amiss.
Where was everyone?
He bypassed the security tape, probably the only time in his life he'd be able to do so. His footsteps echoed off the walls, sounding discordantly loud in the silence. There was no one on the other side of security. There was no one anywhere. He checked his printed ticket for the terminal number and started in that direction. It was a Thursday, not that early in the morning. The airport should be filled with the morning rush.
As he walked he caught sight of a lone janitor trudging out of one of the service doorways.
"Hello?" He called.
The man said nothing, but he turned towards Nerinder and shuffled forward. Nerinder hustled forward to meet him halfway.
"Hello? Is the airport closed? Did something happen? I have a 7:45 flight scheduled out of Terminal 7. Do you know anything?"
As the man approached, Nerinder caught sight of the blank, dead-looking expression in his eyes. Poor man. They all got like that if they worked in service too long. He remembered his grandfather had been the same, almost a zombie when he'd got home from work, at least until after dinner and a few beers.
"Hello?" He asked again. Maybe the poor man was mute.
He barely had time to react before the man lunged, jaw popping impossibly wide open before he bit down, hard, on Nerinder's arm, tearing fabric and flesh in the process. Nerinder screamed and flailed feebly. He'd never been much of a fighter and the man had a strong hold. They fell to the ground, landing hard. Nerinder's head met with the floor with a loud smack.
The last thought that passed through Nerinder Shupali's head was one of regret. He should have listened to his boyfriend, Arima, and rescheduled the trip. He'd turned down breakfast in bed to die on the airport floor.
Life was not fair.
The phone rang seconds after Jack got Ianto's shirt off. They were a tangle of limbs on Ianto's bed. Ianto was sprawled on his back, clothes a mess, and Jack was leaning on top of him, half on the bed, half still standing.
"Don't answer that," Ianto said between furtive kisses as he pulled Jack more firmly on top of him.
Their interruption earlier had left them both in a bit of a mood. Dinner had been an interesting affair, full of innuendo and not so subtle touches. It was a wonder they hadn't gone at it right there in the restaurant. He wouldn't have minded but Ianto could be so... Welsh about things like that. Plus, they made an amazing risotto there and Jack really would like to be able to go back.
One of his hands worked its way under the waistband of Ianto's pants as he flipped open his mobile.
"Hello?" Jack cut Ianto off as his fingers teased their way down Ianto's stomach to brush lightly against erect flesh.
Gwen's voice poured in from the other end of the line, sounding strained and slightly panicked. "Jack, we have a problem. People are going bonkers all over Cardiff."
He shouldered the phone briefly while he worked on getting Ianto's fly open and pulling his pants down to his hips. Ianto had his arm over his mouth to muffle the low moans he was making as Jack teased him. "If there'd been any rift activity, the alarm would have gone off. No alarm, must just be a crazy night."
"Jack!" Gwen's tone increased in fervor. "This isn't normal, human level bonkers."
He let one of his hands dip lower to press tauntingly against Ianto's entrance, pressing a finger inside for the briefest of moments before pulling it away to run circles around the puckered hole. God, Ianto was close to begging for it, probably would be if Jack wasn't on the phone. That thought only made him want to tease Ianto more.
"People are going mad out in the streets, biting each other. They've over-run the jail cells."
With his free hand, Jack pushed Ianto's arm away from his mouth and replaced it with his fingers. Ianto took them in greedily, working his tongue around them with loud slurping sounds. He moaned around Jack's fingers as Jack pressed a finger fully inside of him and crooked it before dragging it slowly back out.
"Andy called me from the police station. Even some of the coppers have gone mad. He said it's like whoever gets bitten goes mad themselves."
"Rabies?" Jack asked as he worked a second finger inside of Ianto. He wished he had a free hand to grab some of their toys, something to push Ianto that much further towards the edge while Jack was occupied. From the way Ianto was writhing on the bed and arching into Jack's touch, he didn't seem to mind the little he had.
"Rabies doesn't make the dead get up off of operating tables and go after their doctors," Gwen announced harshly.
A cold feeling rose in the pit of Jack's stomach, tinged at the edges with a slowly building excitement. "Are you saying that we have zombies, here in Cardiff?"
"That's what it looks like," Gwen confirmed.
"Zombies," he repeated in wonder.
Ianto's muffled cries were getting louder. He was getting closer to climax but it would take more than fingers to give him a real release when Jack was this distracted.
Regretfully, he pulled his hands free, wiping them on a rag on the bedside table.
"Jack?" Ianto looked up at him with the most gorgeous, full-lipped pleading expression. It took all of Jack's will power not to give in.
"All right, Gwen. We'll meet you at the hub."
"Thanks, Jack." Gwen sounded relieved, like she expected Jack to have the magical solution to their problem. Maybe he would. Maybe there was no solution. Only one way to find out.
He hung the phone up with a click and dropped it in his pocket. "Come on, Ianto," he said as he stood, "duty calls."
Ianto groaned. "Take a message and tell it to call back later." He reached up to grab Jack by the shirt front and pull him down into a searing kiss.
A broad grin stretched across Jack's face as their lips parted nearly a full minute later. "I'll make it up to you later," he promised.
"I fully intend to keep you to that." With a put-upon sigh, Ianto stood and started straightening their clothes. The bulge in the front of his pants was incredibly noticeable but Jack knew it wouldn't be a problem by the time they reached the hub.
As he watched Ianto walk out of the flat, he started planning exactly how he would make it up to Ianto. There would be toys involved, he decided. Maybe wrist cuffs and whipped cream.
The Hub was more crowded than Jack expected when they arrived. Gwen shifted nervously on her feet while Rhys gawked at everything around him and PC Andy stared at some paperwork that had been left out near one of the computer arrays.
"I thought we talked about you bringing home strays," he chided gently.
"Now, Jack, I couldn't just leave them out there when there's..." Her mouth froze around the word, as if she couldn't quite get her mind around it. "...zombies... out there."
He couldn't really fault her for the decision, but that didn't mean he liked it.
"Coffee?" Ianto inquired of the newcomers. They seemed startled to be offered such niceties.
"Black," Andy said.
"Cream and two sugars," Rhys supplied. At a look from Gwen, he corrected himself. "Just one sugar, thanks." She cast a pointed look at his gut. He sighed. "Just cream."
"Right." He could tell Ianto was trying very hard not to smile at Rhys and Gwen's antics. "Be right back."
As Ianto started up the stairs, Jack approached the Rift monitor.
"Nothing," Gwen said. "Not even a beep. Whatever this is, Jack, it's not alien."
Jack chuckled slightly. "Humanity has always been capable of destroying itself without alien intervention."
"Oi!" Rhys objected. "We're not all bad."
The look Jack shot Rhys made the other man pause visibly. "Hiroshima," Jack said firmly. "Auschwitz. Srebrenica. Nanking. Need I go on?"
Rhys frowned like a kicked puppy. "Well, maybe in that light. But that's hardly a judge."
"It only takes one."
No one had anything to say to that. He stared at the computer monitors beside Gwen.
"Bring up the CCTV footage. What have we got?"
"Tons," Gwen said. "It's all over the place."
She cycled through minutes worth of video, showing men and women attacking each other in the streets. Blood sprayed as the attackers bit into vital organs though that didn't seem to be by design, they just went after whatever body part was handiest. It was like watching a horror flick being played out on the streets of Cardiff.
"Nasty," Ianto commented from behind Jack. He handed Jack a familiar mug and then moved on to divvy out the rest of the drinks.
Gwen kept cycling through more and more footage as Jack thought. To find a solution, they'd need to get to find the problem and that meant figuring out what specifically was making people go crazy.
"Ianto, how's the armory on sharp, bladed weapons?"
"What?" Gwen piped up. "What good's a sword going to do?"
"I have a feeling," Jack started as he watched a man fight back against one of the zombies. It was a short fight. "...that guns aren't going to be much use up there."
Rhys piped up. "Haven't you ever watched zombie films, luv? You got to hack 'em to bits, cut off their heads."
She looked at them in horror. "You want us to go up there and start chopping people's heads off?"
"No," Jack answered calmly, "I want us to go up there and capture one alive. Or undead, case depending. The swords are for any of the other zombies that try to get in our way."
"What makes you think we're going to see more than one?" Gwen asked.
He gave her a patient look. "They're zombies, Gwen. Plague, infection, spreading..."
"Right. Well, best be off then."
"You two stay here," he told Andy and Rhys. Like any other order he gave around here, it was ignored.
"No way, no how," Rhys complained, his jaw set in a firm line. "I'm not letting Gwen go out there alone."
"She won't be alone."
"We can help," Andy added.
He sighed. They didn't have time to argue this. There was no telling how far it'd spread. "Fine. Let's go."
Jack pressed a quick kiss to Ianto's cheek as Ianto stepped up to help him on with his coat.
"I'll just stay here then," Ianto suggested, a question in his voice. "Monitor the TVs?"
At least someone listened to him. "See if you can figure out how far it's spread."
He stalked off to the armory, felling slightly like a mother ducks as the three others followed him. When he returned to the Hub, he had a large, long sword strapped to his back.
Ianto was already gathering up discarded coffee cups as they started out the door. "Happy hunting," he called after them.
"Will try," Jack shot back. As soon as the door slid shut behind him, he let the smile that had been threatening to burst out of him appear. He couldn't believe it. Zombies. In Cardiff. He couldn't wait to tell the Doctor.
Jack stepped out into the streets above the Hub and stared out into the dark night. The wharf was quiet, which was unusual for this time of night. Gwen and the two men followed him out, forming a loose semi-circle at his back.
"This is eerie," Gwen whispered, echoing the thoughts that were in Jack's mind, likely in the others' as well. "Where do you suppose we should look?"
The sword hissed low and metallic as he drew it from the sheath. "I don't think we're going to have to go far."
He stepped out onto the stones of the wharf. His boots thudded heavily as he walked, sounding like drum beats in the stillness of the night. There was no movement in the shadows at the edges of the street but he knew by some deeply buried instinct that they were not alone.
The first growl came from the left. It was low and guttural and entirely not human. Andy and Rhys jumped. Gwen clutched her axe a little tighter in both hands. After a few seconds, the shadows started to move. Slowly shapes emerged, resolving into more human-looking figures the closer they got to the light. They moved unnaturally. Their feet slid along the ground instead of stepping properly and their arms hung loosely. Some had their heads down, others stared forward at them with wide slack jaws. There were roughly seven of them approaching from all directions, but there was a strong possibility that there were more in the area.
As they got closer, Jack heard the noise. They were moaning.
"We only need one alive. Just get one we can get blood from, then get back inside. Kill anything that gets in your way."
Gwen stared at him aghast. "They're people Jack."
"Not anymore. Right now, they're carriers, like the fleas and rats of the Bubonic era. However many we kill are however many aren't out there biting more people, spreading it."
"Right." Gwen's body belied the confidence in her voice. She shifted nervously on her feet and stepped slightly towards one of the approaching zombies.
"Don't get too far," Jack warned. "We want a quick extraction. Let them come to you."
She awkwardly waited a few feet from the group to the west. Andy and Rhys fanned out in the other two directions while Jack held still. One of the zombies was approaching faster than the others, gaining speed as it crossed the courtyard until it had built up a strange rolling sort of lope that carried it towards them at a rapid pace. Jack was ready for it. He held his sword in both hands, point towards the ground and waited. It lunged as soon as was within three paces of Jack. He easily sidestepped and brought the sword up, blade flat and smacked it hard in the side of the head. It fell, crumpling to the ground like a sack of potatoes, and then a second appeared, right on its heels. Jack swung again, this time using the blade to perfectly bisect the head and shoulders. There was no spray of blood like in the movies. A few droplets spattered on the cobblestones before the body hit with a dull thud. The head rolled away for a foot before coming to a halt.
Jack's attention was briefly drawn away from the advancing horde as he stared at the decapitated body. Blood oozed out of the stump were the neck used to be, not really flowing, but more pouring out like a stiff strawberry jam. It was oddly pigmented too, more greenish than red, leaving the overall effect rather nauseating at first glance.
Then, he had no more time for contemplation as the rest of the zombies reached them. Gwen fought admirably, wielding her axe well if rather ungracefully. Rhys blundered and relied more on Gwen's help than anything. Really all he did was distract them long enough for Gwen or Andy to get round and chop off their heads. Andy was the most surprising of them all. What he lacked in finesse he made up for in enthusiasm. Every zombie that approached Andy died in rather quick, rather brutal fashion.
That is a very repressed man, Jack thought absently as he decapitated his third zombie. He looked around for another and was surprised to realize that was it. There were no more, at least not that were approaching him.
He stared into the shadows around them for a long moment but nothing stirred.
"Gloves," Jack ordered.
Gwen had hers out in seconds and was pulling them on while Andy and Rhys stared at him in confusion. He ignored them and pulled on his own set of triple thick rubber gloves. With one hand, he grabbed the unconscious zombie under one armpit and together with Gwen they got it lifted and started hauling it back to the Hub.
"Will one of you two get the door?"
"Right." Rhys jumped to respond and Jack couldn't help but think that was likely the most useful thing he'd done all day.
"It's bad," Ianto confirmed as they emerged into the Hub.
"How... bad...?" Jack asked as they struggled to get the corpse up the few short stairs to the walkway to the medical bay. It wasn't so much heavy as awkward.
"I'm getting reports from all around the globe. Tracing back it seems there was an attack at Cardiff Airport which led to reports of attacks at a number of major airports that link out of Cardiff and spiraling on from there. It's fairly safe to say that it's everywhere by now and spreading rapidly."
"Shit," Gwen said, a sentiment they all shared.
There was something hot in the way the rubber gloves snapped as Ianto pulled a pair on. He came around and picked up the corpse's legs, and suddenly they were having a much easier time getting it to the med bay. They strapped it tightly to the examining table, pulling more restraints out of the cabinets to make sure it was fully secure. Jack rummaged through the medical supplies until he had found a syringe. He pulled out a vial of the thick blood and fed it into a test tube save for the few drops that went on their scanner.
"Amazing," Jack said as the chemical makeup of the drug appeared on the screen. They could see the green parts of the blood visibly attacking whatever remained in red, surrounding it and turning it green with a tiny pop. "There's a virus here taking over the blood stream."
Gwen took one look at the screen then shook her head. "I've never been much good at all that biology stuff."
"We need a doctor," Ianto announced. "Particularly one with knowledge of dealing with mutated viruses. There's a chance we may be able to find a cure or at least a way to block it from spreading."
A smile spread across Jack's face. "It just so happens I know one." Well, not a doctor with those specific qualities, but between Martha Jones and the Doctor, they'd be able to figure something out.
He pulled out his cell and dialed. The line rang several times with no answer.
"Looks like we're going on a road trip. Gwen, you, Andy, and Rhys stay here. Get that thing into a holding cell and see if you can isolate areas this hasn't hit yet. Ianto, you're with me."
"I'll just get some coffee for the road." Jack smiled appreciatively at that and watched him go.
Maybe he'd finally have a chance to introduce Ianto to the rest of his odd little family.
The roads were mostly vacant near Cardiff. Once in a while they'd pass another car on the road, but they didn't stop to examine whether the people inside were moving. Some zoomed past them, survivors on their way to a safer place. Jack turned the radio to a news channel for a few moments before switching back to music, just enough for them to catch the pertinent bits.
"...government advises all uninfected to seek shelter at the nearest military facility. All entrants will be screened, infected killed on sight. I repeat, the government advises all uninfected citizens to seek shelter at the nearest military facility. In Cardiff, there is..."
"Well," Jack said after a moment's pause, "at least the government seems to have a handle on containment."
"Which means we have maybe a day before something goes horribly wrong."
Jack grinned over at Ianto. "Feeling optimistic today?"
Ianto's returning grin was a touch wicked. It only served to reinforce how desperately he wanted Ianto. As much as he played it cool, the constant interruptions were starting to get to him. As soon as this was over, he was tying Ianto to the bed for a full weekend of fun.
"How good are you at driving while distracted?" Ianto asked after a second's paused.
He thought about it for a second, wondering where Ianto was going with this. "Rather good."
"Wonderful," Ianto proclaimed.
Ianto leaned across the center aisle between them before Jack could really object. Deft hands unzipped Jack's pants and pulled him out of his pants. Cool air hit his burgeoning erection, though that was only for a brief moment before Ianto swallowed him down. Warm, wet suction surrounded him and he groaned. Jack's fingers tightened on the steering wheel and the car jumped forward.
This was exactly what he needed.
"Don't ever stop," he moaned.
Ianto's tongue played against him as he bobbed his head. Jack lowered the radio volume to let the sound of Ianto's mouth echo through the car. Practice had made Ianto a bit of an expert at sucking Jack's cock, though even when they'd first been starting their relationship, Ianto had made up for lack of finesse with enthusiasm. At this point, Ianto knew exactly which buttons to push to make Jack twitch.
He kept his eyes mostly on the road, occasionally glancing down to appreciate the view of Ianto swallowing him down. The car only swerved a little and Jack was suddenly much more grateful for the vacant roads. He could have gotten off on the sounds alone. Ianto could be amazingly lewd and lurid when Jack got him wound up.
It didn't take long for Jack to come, not with their two half-starts from earlier today and all the tension he'd been carrying with him throughout the day. Ianto swallowed it all down and kept bobbing until every last drop had been licked up. There was a loud pop when Ianto pulled away, looking smug and incredibly hot as he licked swollen lips.
The car swerved as Jack pulled over to the side of the road. Ianto made a little sound of surprise as they bumped along the gravel at the side of the road and skidded to a quick stop. Before Ianto could say anything, Jack grabbed him by the hair and pulled him into a hungry kiss. There were few things that tasted as good as his come in Ianto's mouth. Ianto moaned into the kiss, undoing his seatbelt so he could slide closer to Jack. Jack pushed him back into the seat and dropped his hand to fondle Ianto through his pants. The other man arched into his touch, whimpering a little into the kiss.
He undid Ianto's pants in seconds and slipped his hand inside to coil around Ianto's erection. Desperate noises escaped from Ianto's lips every time Jack pulled back just a little to catch his breath before covering Ianto's mouth once more. Ianto twitched against the seat and clutched at Jack. He was practically shaking with need, making Jack regret slightly that they hadn't taken at least a few minutes to finish up properly earlier. Still, he couldn't complain much when it left Ianto this desperate and needy.
Warm seed spilled into Jack's hand. He was careful to keep it from getting onto Ianto's clothes. Jack pulled away to watch Ianto as he came. He loved the way Ianto looked when he was undone, mouth gaping open, eyes unfocused, hands unsteady. It was almost more erotic than the act itself. When Ianto looked like that, it made Jack want to push him, to keep going, keep teasing until he was mad with pleasure, constantly hovering on the edge of completion. That was a thought for later exploration, once they were done with zombies.
Jack went to wipe his hand off with tissues but Ianto stopped him. He pulled Jack's hand to his mouth and laved at it with his tongue, cleaning his palm before sucking each digit inside his mouth.
"When this is over," Jack promised aloud, "I'm keeping you in bed for at least a day."
"I look forward to it, sir," Ianto said with a wide smile.
Something thumped heavily against Ianto's window and they both jumped, turning to stare at the slack-jawed figure pressed against the window. Two more thumps sounded at the rear of the car. The figure next to Ianto's window ran its hand down the glass before bringing it up to smack the window. The sound of cracking glass filled the car as a spider web of cracks splintered out from where the fist had made contact.
"Jack, go. Now." Fear was thick in Ianto's voice.
The car punched forward into the road. In the rearview mirror, he could see more zombies emerging from the woods and heading towards the road. He waited until Ianto had tucked himself back into his pants and buckled back in before punching the acceleration. They needed to find Martha, now.
There was still no answer on Martha's phone so they headed directly to her flat. Jack studied the street as they parked, but there was no movement from either end. He put the car in park and together, he and Ianto hopped out. They met Martha at the door. She was obviously in a hurry to get somewhere because she nearly ran into Jack as she rushed out the door. They both started and Martha started to lift a sword.
Martha paused, her weapon still in mid-air. Recognition blossomed across her face and the sword was quickly sheathed before she threw her arms around Jack.
"Jack! Ianto! What in the world are you doing here?"
"Has Unit been following the plague?" Jack asked instead of an answer.
She gave him a pointed look. "Yeah, of course."
"You should answer your phone more often. Do you have any idea what caused this, or how to cure it?"
Ianto waited by the gate, his gaze attentively fixed on the road around them. He was watching for anything suspicious on the roadway. Jack was slightly relieved that someone was keeping watch.
Martha gave him a rueful smile. "Sorry. Forgot my mobile at home." She waved the device at him before slipping it back in her pocket. "We've got some doctors on it, I've looked at it, but this is some really deep stuff, advanced genetics."
Jack glanced back at Ianto. "So, you're stumped."
"Yeah, pretty much."
"We think it started in Cardiff. Ianto's been working on a timeline. Well, Gwen is now. The first victims were all in Cardiff."
She shifted on her feet and cocked a smile. "Why is it that all the big stuff seems to happen to Cardiff? Well, most of it, recently. Is this Rift related? Some sort of alien virus?"
Jack shook his head. "The Rift monitors haven't registered a peep. It's been quiet. Normal."
"We'll send UNIT down to help, see if we can help track it back to the source."
Jack flashed his most convincing, winning smile on her. "I was hoping for a bit bigger of a favor. We'd like you to call the Doctor."
She paused. "But if it isn't alien...."
"He's still one of the smartest men on and off the planet. I'm hoping there's something he's seen in his travels, maybe from Earth's future, something that could help us."
Martha pulled out her phone and pressed a button. "I'll try my best, but he doesn't always- Hello?" She quickly stepped a pace away from them, turning her back to Jack. "There's something wrong and Jack was wondering- Yes, Jack. He's here with Ianto. Ianto Jones. No, we aren't related. He's Torchwood. Yes, the one..." She glanced over at Ianto quickly and dropped her voice to a near-whisper. "...the one Jack's snogging. Wait, Doctor..."
She pulled the phone away from her ear and glared at it. Less than a second later, Jack felt that familiar stirring in his blood as the sound of the TARDIS working its way into existence here, now, echoed through the air. Ianto started visibly and stared at the blurry outline of the police box as it formed in Martha's front lawn. He pointed.
"Is that supposed to be happening?" Ianto asked Jack.
He couldn't stop grinning. "It is. Ianto, you're about to meet the Doctor."
Ianto raised an eyebrow but said nothing. He looked out onto the street once more and then jumped back.
"Jack, we've got incoming."
Martha and Jack cursed in union. Jack pulled the sword from the sheath on his back and pulled Ianto by the sleeve over to where he and Martha stood. Together, they inched closer to the spot where the TARDIS was emerging, careful not to get too close. The first head appeared as the blue panels of the box started to solidify.
"Come on, Doctor," Martha whispered urgently.
The zombie, a man who appeared to have been somewhere in middle age, still dressed in a rather nice looking suit, groaned lowly at them and rattled the gate. Each shove pushed at the metal with more and more force until the hinges pulled free from the stone wall. A second head appeared.
"Come on, come on."
The TARDIS finally solidified. Without preamble, Jack yanked open the door and shoved Ianto inside, right into the Doctor. They both stumbled slightly. The Doctor looked confused.
"Get inside," Jack ordered.
The first zombie was nearing them so Jack stepped forward and chopped off its head with a swing of his blade. The second was only paces behind it. Jack moved forward to kill that one as well before turning and running towards the open door.
"Problems?" The Doctor asked as Jack ran past him.
Jack slammed the door shut and locked it. "Zombies."
The Doctor's face lit up with excitement. "You're joshing me."
"I can assure you, they are quite real," Ianto said. He was very carefully not gaping around at the insides of the spaceship, though Jack could tell he wanted to. Everyone wanted to. He wondered if he'd missed the usual comment.
"We need to get out of here, fast." Jack moved to the controls and started programming in a spot in the Hub. "Ready to meet the family?" Jack asked with a wide grin.
Jack started the TARDIS and suddenly they where whirring away from the hoard of zombies. The outer monitors showed them circling the police box but it was obvious they had no clue what to do with it.
"So," the Doctor said slowly, "Martha, looking lovely as always." She flashed him a wide grin back. The Doctor turned to Ianto and gave him a once over. "And you must be Ianto Jones. I've heard a lot about you."
Ianto took the comment in stride. "All pleasant, I hope."
"Quite, though perhaps a bit embarrassing considering Jack's stories."
Ianto shot Jack a pointed look. "Is that so?"
"I'm innocent, I swear," Jack lied, sounding nothing of the sort.
The Doctor cut off any reply Ianto would have made. "What do you think of my spaceship?" He was practically bouncing on his feet, waiting for Ianto to remark how big the inside was comparatively.
Ianto stared around the TARDIS, his expression carefully blank. Jack caught a hint of mischief in his eyes and he turned back to answer the Doctor. "It's so..." The Doctor smiled eagerly. "...messy."
"What?" The Doctor's indignant squawk had both Jack and Martha cracking up.
Jack wandered over to drop his arm loosely around Ianto's waist and kiss him lightly on the cheek. "Well played."
"You coached him!" The Doctor accused.
A wicked grin stretched across Ianto's face, matching the one on Jack's own. "Why would I ever do a thing like that?"
"It is a bit messy in here," Ianto added. "I suppose all that time flitting from place to place leaves little room for cleaning. Have you ever considered hiring a maid?"
It took a minute for the indignant look on the Doctor's face to wear off. He glanced once again between Jack and Ianto before grinning. "I can see why Jack likes you so much. Well played, indeed. I don't suppose you're offering?"
Ianto cast a mock-sharp look at Jack. "Maybe if Jack decides to run off for weeks on end without telling anyone, I could be persuaded."
"I'll keep that in mind."
The alarms beeped, signaling impending landing.
"I hope the rest of your team isn't this impertinent," the Doctor said with a wink.
"You'll like them," Martha added with a grin.
Through the outside monitors, Jack watched as surprise and confusion registered across Gwen's face. Rhys was gawking like a wide-eyed tourist, PC Andy not faring much better. Gwen drew her gun but kept it pointed low, just in case. Andy followed suite seconds later, obviously watching to Gwen for the lead.
"This them?" The Doctor asked, glancing back at Jack with a raised eyebrow. "I thought one of them was supposed to be Asian?"
A wash of grief flooded through Jack momentarily, mirrored on Ianto's face. He swallowed around the lump in his throat. Martha gave him a sympathetic look and started to speak but he waved her off. Apparently Martha hadn't passed on that piece of news.
"They were killed. Tosh... Toshiko, and Owen. My brother, Gray... he..." killed them. "...was responsible."
"Oh. I'm sorry." The Doctor's expression saddened and he stared down at the ship's floor. In seconds, his expression shifted and he looked at Jack curiously. "You have a brother?"
"Had." Jack corrected. Technically Gray was still alive, frozen away in cold storage, but he couldn't quite bring himself to think of him as Jack's brother. No, his brother had died when the aliens had captured him. All that was left was a monster.
He shook his head to clear his thoughts and crossed the room in quick strides. Gwen's voice greeted him as he opened the door.
"Jack! What in the blazes are you doing in a Police Box?"
He forced melancholy off of his face and replaced it with his usual carefree grin. "It's a spaceship, and quite a marvelous one at that. Oh, and it can travel in time."
She gaped at him and stepped forward, closer to it. "You're kidding. It can't be."
Ianto stepped out, followed by Martha and the Doctor.
"Nice to see you again, Gwen," Martha greeted.
"Always a pleasure, Martha." Gwen stared curiously at the Doctor. "And this would be?"
Jack gestured grandly towards the Doctor. "Gwen, it's my great pleasure to introduce you to the Doctor."
Her forehead wrinkled in a frown. "Doctor of what?"
"Just the Doctor," the Doctor answered with a broad smile as he shook her head. "Title, not a profession." He glanced at Rhys and Andrew, who were standing off to the side looking a bit lost. "And these gentlemen are...?"
"Oh!" Gwen pointed. "That's my husband Rhys, and my partner from back when I used to be with the police, PC Andrews. Thought it'd be best to keep them down here, safe."
"A constable! How quaint!" The Doctor beamed at the pair of men before turning towards the bank of computers. "So, zombies you said?"
"Over here," Ianto called from beside one of the computers. He loaded up all the information they'd been able to gather from the blood sample. "It's a virus, or at least we think it is. Seems to be spread by biting, though I believe blood-to-blood contact would work just the same."
"At first we thought it was just some nutters," Andy spoke up. "We had 'em rounded up at the police station because they were going round attacking people. But, they bit some of the officers and then they went looney, and before we knew it the entire station was overrun. It's mad up there."
The Doctor took over the keyboard from Ianto and started paging through the information on the virus, Martha watching from over his shoulder. From the corner of his eye, Jack watched as Gwen approached the TARDIS with a fascinated expression.
"How far's it spread?"
"Worldwide," Martha said.
Ianto tapped away at another computer, pulling up an automated report he must have left running. "At worst calculation, sixty percent of the world's population has been affected. I've been getting reports from all over the globe. They're doing much the same as we are and packing everyone into military installations. Anyone outside has a chance of survival, but it's slim."
A thought came to Jack's mind and he looked over at Ianto. "Your sister?"
"They went to St. Athan. Got out before the worst of it."
"How fast is it spreading?" The Doctor cut in.
"About one percent per hour," Ianto answered after tapping at his keyboard once more to pull up the figures.
Gwen was circling the TARDIS, her fingers brushing over the blue-painted wood.
Martha pointed at the image of the virus on screen. "This is some really advanced stuff. I've never seen the like of it. I can't tell if it's a mutation of an existing virus or something completely new."
"I think new," the Doctor said as he peered in closer. "History's never had something like this pop up before." He tapped at the keyboard to rotate the image. "Do we know where it started?"
"Here in Cardiff," Jack said. "We can trace the first attacks back to here."
Gwen stuck her head inside the open door of the TARDIS and then quickly pulled it back out. Jack, Martha, and the Doctor all grinned at each other briefly and mouthed the words along with Gwen. "It's bigger on the inside."
"I think I know where they originated."
They all turned to face Ianto. Pictures started appearing on the large monitor, twelve faces, a mix of age, gender, and race, followed by the website for a pharmaceutical company.
"MKT Tech. A pharmaceutical company located between Cardiff and Bristol. Yesterday morning they brought in this lot for a drug trial. Seven of the patients were reported missing by sundown, three of them were arrested for inciting violence."
"They created zombies," the Doctor said with awe in his voice. "What will you humans think of next?"
"Unfortunately, that's as far as I've gotten," Ianto said with a frown. "Their security is more than our automatic programs can crack, and I'm no Toshiko."
"Let me try." The Doctor pointed his sonic screwdriver at the machine. In seconds, a login box appeared. Letters scrolled through the text fields for a few seconds before the box blinked away, leaving them with a window into the company's network. The computer continued to act on its owns, opening and closing files faster than the eye could read.
"Blast." The Doctor smacked his fist against the desk in frustration, causing Ianto and Rhys to both jump slightly. "If it's on their computers, it's not web-accessible. They must be keeping their notes locally."
Jack smiled and checked his holster and sheath. "Looks like it's time for a field trip."
The TARDIS landed them square in the center of the MKT facility. Papers rattled as the doors whooshed open, but that was the only thing they heard as they stepped out into vacant halls.
"Oh, this is Ground Zero, alright," the Doctor muttered to himself. He stared at the intersection carefully before running off in one direction. "This way."
Jack, Ianto, and Martha followed him.
"What are we looking for?" Ianto asked.
"Survivors," the Doctor called back.
"Not likely," Jack pointed out. "We're looking for medical documents. They'd keep them in a special testing facility, everything together. Probably set apart from the other labs for privacy."
The Doctor skidded to a halt at a T intersection. Multiple arrows pointed to several labs to the left, but only one lab to the right. "This way!" He dashed to the right.
Blood spattered the walls of the corridor, growing more profuse the closer they got.
"I think we're heading the right way," Ianto commented softly. Jack squeezed his arm in reassurance.
The Doctor was ahead of them all. He pounded through the double doors at the end of the hall and then doubled over gagging. They caught a whiff of the smell seconds later and similarly gagged.
"Good lords, what is that smell?" Martha asked.
"Bodies." That was all the Doctor would say. He started back, closing the doors behind him.
There was a metal door to the side of the big double doors and the Doctor paused at it. His sonic screwdriver made quick work of the electric lock, revealing an orderly office on the other side of the door.
Jack started towards the double doors, curious what had made the Doctor turn.
"Don't," a stern voice warned him. The Doctor's eyes had a hint of pleading as he stared at Jack. "It's the clinic. No files, just bodies."
He stared at the closed doors. "Where it all started..." After a second's pause, he turned and followed Ianto into the office.
"Split up," the Doctor ordered. "Look through everything."
The Doctor stepped over to the first computer, Martha to the second, which left Jack and Ianto with a wall of filing cabinets. Ianto cursed as he pulled the first one open.
"Of course they don't even have a bloody system."
Jack shot him a grin. "I think you've spoiled me for unorganized files."
Ianto grinned back. "Now if only you could learn to file things properly on your own."
"I don't need to. That's what I have you for. Well, that and other things." He leered at Ianto suggestively.
"Oi, you two." The Doctor shot him a half-glare. "No flirting."
Jack grinned back and let his hand brush down Ianto's back to linger on his ass, loving the way the move made Ianto shiver. "Oh, we're well past flirting."
"Save it for later," Ianto warned, before the Doctor could.
"I like him," the Doctor said with a grin.
They worked quietly for several minutes. Ianto and Jack formed a pile of possibilities on the floor between them. It was strange how quiet the place was. Normally, when he was breaking into a place like this, he had to worry about being stealthy and not alerting the guards. But the guards would be long gone from here, as was everyone else. They were either dead or undead, and either way they wouldn't be worried about guarding files.
"Got it!" The Doctor crowed suddenly. " X1B12 Omega. That's what we're looking for."
Ianto froze. "I saw that." He dropped to his knees and started rifling through the files, pulling out the very bottom one. "Of course! They organized chronologically."
"Hand it here."
Ianto handed a stack of papers about two inches thick over to the Doctor, who thumbed through them quickly before nodding in satisfaction. "This is what we need. I've got an idea, but we're going to need a test subject to try it out."
"We just so happen to have one, locked in one of the cells at the Hub."
"Always one step ahead," the Doctor grinned at him. "No time to waste. Let's go!"
"Okay, I think we've got it." With Martha's help, the Doctor pulled a vial of glowing red liquid from the beaker currently bubbling away at one of the lab stations.
Jack led them down to the cell they currently had the zombie chained up in. The few Weevils in the nearby cells all moaned and huddled away from the creature. It stared at them as the plastic door slid open and hissed low in its throat.
"Someone's going to have to keep it still," the Doctor instructed.
Jack grabbed the zombie by its hair, glad for the extra layer of protection of thick gloves between his skin and the zombie. He really didn't want to find out what his immortality would do versus a zombie virus. The zombie snarled at him and tried to thrash but Jack held it still while the Doctor gently inserted the syringe in its throat, careful to keep his hands away from the eagerly gnashing teeth. When the Doctor was done they both stepped back and waited.
It took a moment for anything to happen. One moment the creature was trying to bite at them, then suddenly it froze, arched its back and howled. Tremors overtook its body and it pulled against its restraints for a few seconds before suddenly falling still.
"Let's get it back to the lab, where we can analyze it," Jack said.
He and Ianto each reached for one of the wrist restraints. Suddenly, without warning, it lunged. Time slowed for Jack, like he was watching a stop-motion film. He saw the zombie lunge for Ianto, saw its teeth latch onto his skin and bit down, hard enough to break skin. Distantly, he heard Ianto scream. The Doctor caught him as he fell and pulled him back, out of the creature's reach. Ianto left a thin trail of blood in his wake as he was dragged from the room.
"It didn't work." The Doctor cursed loudly.
"Try it again," Jack ordered as he crossed the cell in two quick strides and pounded on the button to close up the cell. "You must have missed something. Make a new batch and try it again."
Martha was cradling Ianto's head in her lap. He looked drawn, pale. "How long's he got?" She asked worriedly.
Jack was not going to allow this to happen, not on his watch.
"Anywhere from ten minutes to half an hour. Incubation seems to depend on the severity of the wound."
The Doctor glanced pointedly at Ianto's arm. It looked like it might be broken in two places. "That's pretty severe."
"Then we don't have much time."
He bent down and cradled Ianto in his arms before standing, lifting Ianto into a carrying position. Ianto whimpered as his arm was jostled but didn't seem to wake from the haze he'd fallen into. Jack moved quickly towards the medical bay, worrying about speed over comfort and wincing along with Ianto every time he jostled Ianto too much.
"Think, Doctor. What did you miss?"
The Doctor stared at the chemicals laid out on the tray. He was muttering to himself, but it wasn't in English and too low for Jack to distinguish what alien language he might be speaking. Seconds turned into minutes. Jack brushed Ianto's hair away from his face as he tried not to yell. They needed to do something, fast.
Three more compounds went into the bubbling beaker. It exploded slightly, sending smoke up in a puff of air and then shifted into a light blue.
Ianto moaned, his breath turning shallow, weaker. Martha had fastened a heart monitor to him and its beeps were growing more and more distant. Beep. Beep. Pause. Beep. Longer pause. Beep. They were losing him.
The Doctor extracted some of the medicine from the beaker and stepped over, pressing the needle into Ianto's neck just as the heart monitor flat-lined.
"No," Jack said. "No, no, no."
They waited, breath caught in their throat to see if Ianto was going to rise to join the ranks of the undead. A full minute passed and then suddenly the heart monitor beeped loudly, causing them all to jump. It beeped again, and again, climbing back to a steady rhythm. Ianto gasped for breath but didn't wake. Jack pressed a hand to Ianto's face. He felt warm, alive.
"You did it," Jack said.
The Doctor scribbled a note on a piece of paper and handed it to Martha. "Get this broadcast as far as you can. Let people know there's a cure, and then we'll start making as much of it as we can."
As he ran his hands through Ianto's hair, Jack could only think of one thing to say. "Thank you, Doctor."
Ianto Jones woke with a pounding headache. He sat up slowly. His arm hurt too, he realized, and he couldn't move it. He glanced down at the cast that covered his right arm and couldn't quite remember how he'd hurt himself.
Something strange niggled at the back of his mind, something important. He was home, in his own bed. That was wrong somehow.
Realization hit him suddenly and he jumped to his feet, or tried to at least. It didn't work so well, so all he really ended up doing was flailing a bit in his sheets and making his arm smart more. He needed to get out of here, get back to the Hub before the zombies found him. What was he even doing here? Where was Jack?
As if summoned by his thoughts, Jack appeared in the doorway. He quickly crossed over to Ianto and forced him back to bed. "Calm down. Stay still. You're hurt."
"Jack, what are we doing here? What about the zombies?"
"They've been contained."
From the tone of Jack's voice and the glint in his eyes, Ianto wasn't quite sure if he wanted to know what that meant.
"So it's over?"
Jack nodded. "We... well, the Doctor found a cure. You were the test subject, proof that it works. We managed to distribute it to all the major populations centers, and then the military took out the ones too far gone to save."
Ianto stared at Jack. Had he slept through the entire thing? "How long have I been out?"
Jack shrugged. "A couple days. We had you in the Hub until Cardiff was cleared. Just moved you here last night." He paused for a moment. "Your sister and her family are safe by the way. They're with the others returning today."
"So all the zombies are gone?"
"A few stragglers here and there, but the Doctor and I are working on a detection system for them, a way we can hunt down the last of them."
Ianto considered that. It seemed so simple once they'd brought the Doctor in.
Jack smiled at him and kissed Ianto on the forehead. "Now, you and I take some much needed days off, which I fully intend to spend in bed, with you."
Practicality and need warred inside of Ianto. "Jack... my arm..."
Jack cut him off with a kiss. "We'll work around it."
Ianto smiled. That was perhaps the best idea he'd heard all week.