A/N: Spoiler for Doctor Who episode "The Stolen Earth". I always wondered what Jack would think when he returned to find the destroyed Dalek at the cog door entrance.
Every Time We Say Goodbye
By Lizabeth S. Tucker
Captain Jack Harkness tried to contain his worry as he strode across the open area towards the bay. He had heard nothing from either of his team since before the fight against the Daleks had begun. His cell phone fried from the attempt to incinerate his supposedly dead body on the enemy ship, he had no way of contacting them. As Mickey Smith and Martha Jones walked beside him, his steps began to quicken.
"Jack, what's wrong?" Martha asked.
"They should've been safe in the Hub," Jack muttered in response, finally giving up his attempt to appear calm. He broke into a run, heading for the lift next to the water feature. He stomped on it, only to have the stone fail to move. "Shit."
Martha's beautiful face began to show her own worry as she watched. "Mickey, we need to hurry."
"What is it?" The younger man asked, startled to see the usually cool, calm and cocky Immortal in a panic.
"His team, Ianto Jones and Gwen Cooper, were by themselves at Torchwood when the Daleks began sweeping through Cardiff."
"And he just left them?" Mickey was surprised. He might harass the other man, but was well aware that Harkness was extremely loyal to those he cared for.
"They should've been safe in the Hub." Seeing Mickey's confusion, Martha explained. "That's the base of operations for Torchwood. It's below us. Torchwood Cardiff has been here since Victorian days. Thick walls of concrete and whatever alien technology that could be utilized over the centuries."
She grabbed Mickey's hand, pulling him along into a fast trot as they followed a grim-faced Jack Harkness to the main entrance to Torchwood, the tourist office. Jack was waiting impatiently for the hidden door to slide open, squeezing through when there was barely enough space to do so. His two companions waited a bit longer, but soon enough made to run after Jack when they heard his yells.
"Gwen! Ianto? Ianto! IANTO!!!"
The last shout was on the edge of hysterical, soon explained by the destroyed Dalek just this side of the cog door. Martha's eyes widened. "Oh, no."
Jack moved slowly into the heart of the Hub, looking around wildly.
Mickey, caught by the hopeless look in Jack's blue eyes, turned to Martha. "He's terrified."
"He's afraid of what he's doing to find."
Mickey barely had time to turn, his gun suddenly back in his hand, when two people came tearing down the gantry stairs.
Jack gathered the two people, one dark-haired female and a male dressed in a suit of all things, into his arms, burying his face in the crook of the man's neck.
Martha relaxed, gently pushing down on Mickey's weapon. "It's okay, they're Jack's team."
"Jack, it's okay. We're fine, honest." The man gently laid his hand on the Captain's face, his thumb wiping the tears off the man's face.
"And with that, now that you're finally home, Jack, I'm heading to my own." The woman's smile was shaky at best as she pulled away from the embrace. "I need to see Rhys."
Jack nodded. "Go. Stay away from this place for the next couple of days."
"Gwen, if anything comes up, I promise we'll call you. But for now, just be with your husband."
She nodded, her smile a little wider now, revealing a prominent gap in her teeth. "Thanks." She gathered her purse, stowing a gun inside as she passed Martha with a smile.
Mickey didn't know where to look when Jack wrapped his arms tightly around the overdressed man and kissed him desperately. Martha, on the other hand, was watching with a wide smile on her face.
"Jack," Ianto said, pulling back slightly from the other man. "We have company."
"Yeah, okay." Jack rested his forehead against Ianto's for a moment, his emotions naked on his face. Finally he took a deep breath and loosened his hold on Ianto. He turned to face Mickey and Martha, a grin on his face, one that wasn't as convincing as usual.
"Martha, welcome back." Ianto moved to meet the doctor halfway, giving her a quick smile and a hug.
"Good to see you safe, Ianto." She nodded toward the destroyed Dalek. "Close call?"
"If it wasn't for Tosh, it would've been closer." The Welshman grimaced, realizing just what he had let slip.
"What do you mean?" Jack asked, his smile gone once again.
"Nothing important, sir."
"Ohhh, now I know it is something important, if you're back to calling me sir. Spill."
"Why don't you introduce me to your friend first. I'll get some coffee for everyone and we'll discuss what happened in the conference room."
"Oh, sorry. Ianto Jones, this is Mickey Mouse, huge pain in the ass. Mickey, this is Ianto Jones. He is actually the one who runs this miserable place, keeps us on course, and looks great doing so."
"Mickey Mouse?" Ianto asked faintly.
"Mickey Smith. Captain Cheesecake's brain is too rotted out with sex to remember it."
"Captain Cheesecake?" Ianto snorted.
"Beefcake, Captain Beefcake. How many times do I have to correct you?" Jack asked, trying to act annoyed without much success.
"Pleased to meet you. Jack, Martha, show Mr. Smith to the conference room. I'll just get the coffee." Ianto took the time to steel himself for the explanation to come. Jack would not be happy.
"What the hell do you mean, the Daleks were already on the way?" Jack jumped to his feet, leaning over the conference table as he glared at Ianto.
"Jack, calm down," Martha said, her hand gripping the Immortal's wrist.
"Why didn't you tell me?"
Ianto sighed. "There was nothing you could've done, Jack. You were needed elsewhere. The Doctor needed you, remember? We survived, thanks to Tosh's time bubble."
"But you didn't know it was there." Jack struggled to control himself. "Don't you understand? I can't lose you, Ianto. I can't."
"And you didn't."
"But I could have. You and Gwen let me leave you, knowing that the Daleks were on the way to the Hub. I wouldn't have left you…"
"That's exactly it, Jack. You wouldn't have left. Maybe, just maybe you would've been able to save us. For a while anyway. But the rest of the world would have died. You did what you needed to do. Gwen and I did the same. Our job will always entail making the hard choice."
A sharp nod was the only answer, but Jack did sit back down in his chair.
Martha waited until she was certain that Jack had calmed down before reaching into her bag for something wrapped in brown paper, tied with a white piece of string. She passed it to Ianto with a twinkle in her eye.
"What is this?"
"Just a little something that I promised to send Jack ages ago. With everything that has been happening, both with UNIT and Torchwood, I had forgotten about it."
"If this is for Jack, why are you giving it to me?" Ianto asked, puzzled.
"Because it will probably be something you'll be using more than Captain Jack Harkness."
Mickey found himself switching his attention from Jack to Ianto to Martha as the three all reacted to the mysterious package. Jack's grin was huge and very real. Ianto was blushing, his eyes firmly on the package. Martha was giggling. "So what is it? Something filthy?"
"No!" Ianto yanked the package into his lap.
"Is that the UNIT cap I asked for?"
"It is. I'm so sorry that it too me this long to get it to you."
"A UNIT cap? One of those red beret thingies?" Mickey didn't understand why anyone would be embarrassed by receiving a cap.
"C'mon, Ianto, I want to see it."
"Jack, stop teasing him. I don't know about you, Mickey, but I'm desperately in need of a hot shower and a comfortable bed."
"Yeah, I could murder a good fish and chips."
Ianto went off to make reservations at the nearby Berkshire Hotel across the Plass while Jack took leave of his two friends. "Think about joining us. We could really use the help."
"Not me, mate. I've had enough of saving the world. I just want to get back to London, see my old mates, try and live a normal life."
Martha smiled at Mickey's vehemence, but she was equally certain of her place in UNIT. "Maybe someday, Jack, but not now. Tom and I have a good life in New York. I'll let you know if that ever changes."
Jack shrugged, accepting their refusals with his usual grace. "If you change your minds, you know where to find me."
Jack was sprawled on the bed in Ianto's apartment, waiting for his lover to finish up in the bathroom. He held the glass of wine up and admired the way the light made the red glow. He started to sip at the warming liquid when he saw Ianto appear in the doorway, wearing absolutely nothing but the bright red UNIT beret. The glass was quickly put on the nightstand.
"Welcome home, Jack."