Title: Among the Living
Spoilers: Through Season 3 (Children of Earth)
Disclaimer: Torchwood is the property of the BBC.
Author's Notes: This is my first attempt at writing a Torchwood fiction, and constructive criticism is very welcome.
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It was funny how experiences could subtly change a man, as he accumulated them over the course of years – or centuries. Captain Jack Harkness made that observation, while staring up at the moon-washed sky.
For all the hundreds of years he'd lived, those didn't know him viewed Jack as a young man, since he looked to be in his mid-thirties. But recently he'd felt so bloody ancient. He'd lived and loved in so many differing ways, but the last year had done more to age him than the millenniums before. Little things had touched him over time, barely leaving a mark.
Some experiences and people who touched him left solid, lasting memories. Some good. Some bad. And then on a rare occasion, someone touched him, leaving a piece behind, deposited deep within a core hidden well within the eternal man. The man who would live forever.
"I miss you. I remember you," he murmured, tilting his head back and treating the flickers of the stars like the Earth's own sun, and letting it wash across his shadowed face. So easily, with his eyes fluttering closed, he could feel his lover's hands running across his chest and the hint of coffee on Ianto's lips. Those beautiful, soft lips. At times, Jack's memories sharpened with crystal clarity, until the world closed off and he could hear his lover's voice like a whisper in his ear.
"In a thousand years, I'll still remember," he whispered to the night sky, knowing Ianto couldn't hear him, but feeling the need to say the words anyway.
Releasing a long breath, the man in the dark coat descended the hill. The last time he'd been on this spoit, Jack had made his last living Torchwood member climb to meet him. Gwen Cooper, her belly protruding with child, had begged him not to leave. He'd run anyway.
This time, though, he would go to her – to Gwen and Rhys… and their four-month-old boy, Ianto Owen Cooper-Williams. Ianto. Named for the man who had died saving the children of the Earth – the man who had died in Jack's arms.
Taking his time, he plastered on a smile, knowing it wasn't much of one. Without Ianto's quips and dry humor, he'd lost his ability to really feel a smile. Yet he had to try. So sauntering down the grassy decline, he raised a hand to the woman leaning against the hood of her vehicle, while the man next to her held a small bundle in his arms.
"You saddled the lad with enough of a name, didn't you?" Jack said, close enough to see Gwen roll her eyes.
"It fits him well," she replied. "This morning he spit milk all over me, gave me a disgusted look, stared at my mug of decaf, and for just a moment I expected him to demand some coffee."
"She bloody well bought him a grinder just one week out of hospital," Rhys responded with mock-exasperation.
Then in the awkward silence, the dark haired woman launched herself into Jack's arms and buried her face in his neck.
The warmth of her breath felt so good, Jack didn't move. He simply wanted to hold onto her. The panic he'd felt a year ago upon losing Ianto and his grandson Steven had made him run so hard and so fast. He might still be running had he not had an emotional epiphany.
Just weeks before, he'd been tossing back one drink after another in a bar on a distant star cruiser. Then it had hit him. The breath had expunged in a wheeze, leaving a very drunk Jack Harkness leaning over his knees and sobbing into his hands.
They were everywhere he ran. In every corner, he could see them – his young grandson smiling like an innocent boy; his lover quirking an eyebrow in silent code to come play with him. But more than that, he could see all the others who had died along the way, like Owen and Tosh.
And Jack could no longer see the living.
So Gwen's tearful sobs had driven him away, but now they drew him home – back to his duty as the leader of Torchwood and back to the place he and his lover had been together every day. Ianto had touched Jack in ways very few had, and in doing so left a piece of himself that woven dead center within the Captain.
Finally, after kissing Gwen fully on the mouth (knowing full well he'd get "Hey!" out of Rhys), Jack said, "I'm not running anymore."
As he handed little Ianto over to his honorary 'uncle' Jack, Rhys muttered, "Damn straight you're not. Gwen here'll be tracking you down if you think of taking off again. And then I'll be forced to beat you to a bloody pulp."
It might be an empty threat, but it made Jack grin.
It was good to be back among the living.