Title: Gone Today, Here Tomorrow
Rating: Teen for language
Disclaimer: BBC owns Torchwood. It's as simple as that.
Author's Notes: I always appreciate concrit. While I do appreciate reviews, they are not required. I just hope you enjoy the story.
X X X
They'd rebuilt. Only this time with no false front. No sign shouted for tourists to stop and take a look.
Just out of sight of the CCTV cameras, Captain Jack Harkness leaned back, half-sitting on the rope railing of the dock as the first rays of sun touched the sky. With the sea at his back, he smiled grimly, knowing it was out – the secret of Torchwood. The rope barriers surrounding the entrance gave note to that, with their 'Official Personnel Only' signs hanging like dull metal flags.
The anonymity would be gone, now that the world had seen alien life first hand. No government cover-up had come forth, because those who had pulled even the highest strings knew what a stupid move it would be. It had affected the entire world, and the world had responded.
Staring at the small half-sphere office-front, he eyed it critically. It sure as hell beat the old office front that sported a worn-down interior that had driven Ianto to distraction.
"It's nice," Jack announced, loudly.
"Christ, Jack, how do you do that?" Gwen Cooper asked, ruefully approaching from the side. She'd been so sure he hadn't heard or seen. If anything, he'd looked lost in thought – bereft, even.
"I have the senses of a wolf."
Standing upright, he rolled his shoulders in the cool morning mist and thanked the universe for his overcoat. He'd forgotten how absolutely frigid Cardiff could be at day break in early spring. Without ever taking his eyes off the silver dome in front of him, he said, "Hello, Gwen."
"Coming back?" she briskly asked, staring at Jack, almost afraid he might simply disappear again.
"Yeah," he said, finally turning and looking at the woman in front of him. Her face seemed… fuller. More womanly. Like a mother. "Yeah, I'm back."
For a moment, he stood uncomfortably, sure of his position as the leader of Torchwood, but unsure of where he stood with her. This was Gwen, after all; and watch out when her temper shot off. He didn't breathe a sigh of relief until she stepped forward, wrapped her arms around his waist and tucked her head under his chin. For a moment, it felt so achingly familiar, he flinched.
"Are you okay?" she quietly asked.
"No," he replied. "Not now. Not yet. It's only been two years since…"
No need to rehash Steven and Ianto. Besides, it was a point of contention between the two remaining Torchwood members. He'd never lay the blame anywhere but at his own feet; she would never consider laying it there at all.
"I like what you did with the place," he said, smiling as the early sun stroked light off it like a brush, making it gleam like a halo. That would be fitting. A halo for those who'd gone before. Owen would bark a laugh at the thought, then say something snarky; like, "Shouldn't the halo be tipped a little to the side?"
"Come inside, Jack," she said, stepping away and holding out her hand. "See what we've done."
"We?" Jack asked as they approached the entrance to the small dome.
In an obvious attempt to lighten the tension emanating from Jack, she laughed and said, "Of course, 'we', you sod. Did you really think Rhys was about to let me go traipsing through the wreckage to reassemble this place on my own, pregnant as I was?"
"No," he stated, not adding he would've paid money to see a very pregnant Gwen ordering Rhys and everyone else on the project around. She could be a bossy bit of goods.
"The world knows we're here," she quietly murmured. "The docks down here are off-limits now, because Torchwood is no longer anonymous. Although, we are still autonomous."
"As it should be," Jack said, stepping to the door and stopping, stock still. There, etched in the reflective glass, were the names. Of all the teams, including his own so recently lost.
Reaching out, his hand trembled as he stroked over Suzie's name, then Owen's and Tosh's – placed together on the same line. Perfect. Appropriate. Then below… Ianto's name. Running his finger over the rough lettering, he sucked in a breath and tried not to choke on it.
"Lois thought of putting the names here," Gwen said. "She's been a Godsend, keeping us all organized. Not to mention she's a whiz with technology."
As tears streaked down his cheeks, he nodded hard and let out a sobbing breath, only to shake his head when Gwen scooted closer. Turning to look at her, he said, "No. No, you don't understand. It's perfect."
Because right under his name was written in permanent ink, "No longer the bloody office of tourism." Ianto would've loved it. Reaching out, he felt for a handle, only to discover one didn't exist. Of course. Torchwood would be off-limits to all but those agents who dedicated their lives to it. Those with clearance.
Those with badges.
"Stand on the blood red brick in front of you, Jack and look into that little circle," Gwen stated. Apparently badges had been replaced with retinal scans. That worked. Then a series of thunks and bangs could be heard, and the door slid open.
"There's now an underground water entrance as well," Gwen stated. "This area of the channel is off-limits to everyone. The local police ensure that, as do our Mariners in UNIT."
Glancing down, Jack frowned. The last he'd heard, the need to rebuild the whole damn thing had been because of UNIT and their failed assassination attempt. Why on Earth would Torchwood be relying on those self-serving bastards?
Gwen must've sensed his stare, because she sighed heavily and said, "Jack, a lot has changed since you left." When he didn't say anything, she continued, "The team I've built… they're good. Just remember that – whatever you do. I trust them."
Why did that sound so ominous?
He'd find out, he mused, as sliding doors whooshed open, ushering him inside. Down a flight of stairs, he noted how light glowed from the base of the steps, illuminating the wide corridor as it sank deeper and deeper, ending at the old cog door.
The pock-marked iron showed its wear, although it had obviously been re-smithed to fit its function once again. As it rolled away, Jack received the first glimpse of the new hub. The excitement that had begun to course through as they walked in through the glass doors surged, and he moved ahead, letting Gwen trail.
Holy hell, they'd rebuilt the Torchwood tunnels, exactly as before; with all its quirks and faults. Just like an old subway stop.
Glancing up, he sucked in a sharp breath.
Without a backward look, Jack strode up the stairs and bound inside his office. He rounded his desk, sank into his chair and laid his palms out on the wood in front of him and soaked in the cool feel under his hands. It felt... right.
"We tried to put it back the best we could," Gwen stated, looking nervous. When he didn't look up (and he couldn't for fear of losing control), she continued, "The explosion collapsed some walls, and we discovered that most of your things in here and the things in your personal space had been spared."
Closing his eyes, Jack drew in a deep breath, shaking all the while. One questioned burned in him and he was afraid to ask. Afraid to go look.
"Yes, Jack," Gwen said, laying her hand on his shoulder. "Everything is there. I didn't feel it my place to remove anything from there." Like Ianto's clothing and other personal affects.
Shuddering out a breath he'd been holding, he finally looked up and gave a watery smile. He'd known it would be hard to return. He just hadn't realized how hard. Yet he couldn't let it get to him. He couldn't. It wouldn't do justice to the living. Nor the dead.
So, sucking in a hard breath and blowing it out animatedly, he rose, held Gwen's offered hand, and said, "Introduce me to the team."
Gwen gave him a gap-toothed smile, drew him toward the door, and said, "Just remember what I said. I trust these people."
Oh hell, Jack thought as they descended the steps. What's she done now?
He came up short, though, when he saw a trio of women step over to greet him. Grinding his teeth, he snarled, "You."
Jack might've lunged for Johnson, had a screech not resounded through the air and he looked up. A smile spread across his face as he walked forward. Circling high above, the Pteranodon cried out, swooping toward him. As the others shouted, he couldn't help but stare. And smile.
"Johnson, do you have some dark chocolate?" Gwen asked, turning toward the woman in question.
In a flash, Johnson retrieved a large bar and handed it to Jack.
"Come here, girl," he softly crooned. "I've been worried."
Holding up the sweet, he watched her twist and turn in a graceful arc before gliding toward him. In a flash the chocolate was gone – clutched in her massive talons.
As he watched her fly off to her nest, Gwen sidled up and linked her hand through his arm. He'd always adored the creature, and truly had worried about all their 'pets'. Not just Myfanwy. Janet too. All those locked below.
"Johnson… she's not what you think," Gwen softly stated, pulling Jack reluctantly from more pleasant thoughts.
How could he feel so damn tired, when he didn't even need to sleep? The ache, always there – raw still – burned as he turned and walked to join the others. It hadn't surprised him to see Rhys standing among them, although the man would never be a Torchwood team member in an official sense.
And, Jack noted, Rhys had yet to speak. Now that was a surprise.
And it shocked Jack when Rhys reached out and pulled him into an awkward hug, patting him on the back, and saying, "Welcome back." Without thought, Jack wound his arms around the bulkier man, closed his eyes, and held close. Oh, how he'd forgotten what such a simple touch could mean. Or how the scent of another could fill his senses so completely. It had been so long since he'd just been truly held.
"Okay, Jack," an uncomfortable Rhys said. "You can let go anytime."
Chuckling, Jack released his hold, still keeping his arms around Rhys's waist.
With a wicked gleam, he wondered, Why not?
And kissed him. Hard.
All the while, Rhys shoved, until Jack broke the connection, grinned, and said, "We'll need to work on that."
As Gwen laughed maniacally behind him, Rhys's eyes bulged. He looked like a man who'd just been given a death sentence.
Letting go, Jack turned as the rag-tag crew moved to stand side-by-side in front of him. Lois Habiba. Gwen. Johnson. Rhys stood to the side, supportive if not a team member. He'd have to trust Gwen's instincts for now. Lois had been useful, cooperative, and with enough moral obligation to know what's what. But Johnson grated on his nerves and had a hell of a lot to prove.
Because if the woman who brought down Torchwood took one step out of line, he'd snap her fucking neck.