Chapter 24 - Day Two
Everything hurt. He'd had days like this before, when he'd awoken from some incident or another to find the world around him in tatters, and today was no different. For a split second Ianto had no idea where he was and what was going on, but memories of the last hour kicked him hard in the head, catching him up with his past.
Jack, stomach bomb, explosion! The ringing in his head was disorientating, almost to the point that thinking was extremely difficult. He opened his eyes, painfully, to look around at the destruction he was almost in the middle of. Broken bits of rumble consisting of concrete blocks and twisted metal girders covered the area around him. As he continued to scan his surroundings he realised he was inside a bloody great crater where the Plas used to be. Ianto experienced a rapid flashback to the warehouse that Captain John Hart had blown up with him and the rest of the team inside, on Jack's brother's behalf...the crushing weight of the concrete...the sharp stabbing pain from his dislocated shoulder every time he breathed.
A hot, burning sensation at the edge of one wrist caught Ianto's attention. Pulling his arm up to eye level he saw his suit arm was on fire, lit by smoking embeds nearby. Without any conscionable thought he quickly whipped up his arm, batting the embers to death.
A shot rang out making Ianto jump from his task. The shot came from above the crater. Cautiously Ianto moved to the top edge of the crater, stopping when he saw a red laser light, from a gun sight, through the smoke.
Judging the timing of the laser as it scanned the area around him was tricky, but Ianto waited patiently before sprinting as fast as he could away from the source of the laser. The sniper must have caught some movement as he started firing, not to accurately, missing each time.
Ianto ran for his life, on hearing the first shot ring out. He felt chips of metal work and brick shoot in his direction as the bullets missed him, embedding themselves in walls and lampposts. He ran almost blindly, as paths and buildings that once stood were knocked out of place, disorientating him. He dashed around the corner of a building and stopped to catch his breath. The bullets seemed to have stopped for the time being, but the screech of tyres and the scream of sirens forced his beaten and tired body to spring into motion once again.
Ianto ran to the only place in town he thought he would be safe from gunmen and police; Splott. The further away he got from the Bay area, the safer he began to feel. This meant that he started to slow down. By the time he hit the centre of the city Ianto was walking, still at a reasonable pace, but enough to take stock of his aching and blistered feet, and tight calves. Dress shoes were definitely not the right attire for long distance running. Ianto's logical thought process stopped working once he hit the outskirts of Splott. He had no car, workplace or colleagues. His husband was scattered into tiny pieces all around the Bay, and Ianto didn't know if Jack would survive this latest death. Ianto had seen in Jack's eyes that even he hadn't believed he would survive.
Ianto sat on a wall outside a church, taking stock. Ianto had briefly seen a glimpse of Gwen as he'd run in the opposite direction, but was unsure what had happened to her. He dug his phone out of his pocket, but the screen was cracked beyond repair. Ianto briefly thanked his photographic memory, as found a phone box, tapping in Gwen's mobile number. He waited impatiently for the dialling tone to connect, but was disappointed to hear the answer phone kick in. Logic would dictate that if his mobile was destroyed in the blast, then Gwen's probably would have been too! Digging deep into the recesses of his memory Ianto pulled out Gwen's home number. He hoped she had managed to make it back.
"Come on, come on... Come on," Ianto whispered as the phone connected and rang, continuing to ring for a while. He was about to put the phone back on the hook, when it was answered.
"Hello," answered a deep, husky, male voice.
"It's Ianto. Is Gwen there?"
In the back ground Ianto could hear Gwen hiss 'Jesus Christ, Rhys!'
"It's Ianto, alright?" Ianto heard the swapping over of hands on the telephone handset.
"Christ's sake, man!" Gwen hissed again, muffled, "Ianto, are you OK?"
"Yeah, have you heard from Jack?"
"No. No I haven't. Sorry, hang on. Do you think he survived?"
"He usually does. Who was it? Any idea?" Ianto tried his best not to sound so unsure of his husbands immortality.
"Yeah I had a run-in with one of them. Said he was working for the government."
"That doesn't make sense."
"How did they get close enough to plant it inside him, Ianto?"
"It was him, that Dr Rupesh guy. He was shot and killed in the hospital earlier tonight. It must've been then."
"Let's go," Ianto heard Rhys mutter near the mouthpiece.
"Yeah. Take the bag. Get the car ready. Er, where shall we meet, Ianto?"
"Your phone, your phone could be bugged."
"Erm, right... Er...,"
"Remember the last time we had ice cream together?"
"Yeah, you do. After the Grand Slam."
"I don't like ice cream. It gives me a headache. Jack's always the one that has ice cream, and I know we have never been to a Grand Slam, because Jack doesn't like rugby, and won't go."
"I've got to go."
Suddenly at a loss, Ianto couldn't think what to do with himself. Thinking hard, he knew there was only one other place he could go that would be safe. Walking the back streets of Cardiff seemed like the only safe option left open to him too, to get to his next destination. The main roads were deserted so late at night, but any lone individual wandering around would only intrigue the police, most likely bringing him unwanted attention.
Half way through his journey, Ianto did have one close call though.
One particular back alley, steeped in shadows and stinking gutters was empty except for himself, for a while, then he caught a shadowy figure walking behind him. The figure turned off down one of the alleys offshoots, but the figure was replaced by a mysteriously ominous white van with blacked out windows, slowing to about 3-4mph. The van trundled behind him, causing Ianto to become anxious. The closer it got, the more he wanted to run. The van stopped dead behind him, throwing open its doors, and Ianto's fight or flight response was kicked into overdrive, but before he could move, the van threw out a stack of newspapers. Checking his watch, Ianto saw it was just after three in the morning. The van was delivering the day's newspapers to newsagents wanting to spread worldly facts and figures.
Ianto roughly carded his fingers through his hair and turned away from the van, taking shelter around the corner of a building. He stayed like that until the headlights of the van passed him by, then he jogged back to grab a newspaper.
Reading the headlines of the day, Ianto returned the paper uninterested. He had been looking for a headline relating to the hub explosion, but it appeared the police were keeping it under wraps for the time being.
Ianto's next stop was getting in contact with his sister. With the police presence he had spotted while running for his life, and the amount of bullets he'd been subjected to avoiding, Ianto was sure Rihannan's house would be under surveillance. She was the only person he knew he could trust to help him out discretely, and she and her family were his only living relatives. It seemed like the only conclusion.
The journey to her estate took several hours on foot, some of which had to be ran to ensure he would make it in time. His shoes had rubbed blisters over to top of blisters, his shirt and waistcoat stuck unpleasantly to his body from the sweat of overexertion. Ianto hadn't eaten since breakfast that morning, because they had been so busy, so he was suffering from stomach cramps every now and then. He desperately needed a drink, and was forced to use public toilets in the local park in an attempt to quench his thirst.
Ianto managed to track down a piece of paper that was caught blowing in the wind around the streets of the estate. Using a pen he kept in his jacket pocket he wrote a short note to Rhi. His best option to get it to her without being seen by any covert authorities was to track down the paperboy. Ianto had lived on this estate for several years, and had a good idea of the timings and route paperboys were forced to endure before they headed off to school. Luckily for him, the BMX bike gave the young boy away. Asking nicely, and the added incentive of £10 for his trouble, Ianto convinced the boy to add the note to the newspaper he would soon deliver to his sister's address.
Ianto stood a long distance away, keeping his eyes on the parked cars scattered along the road in front of his sister's house. He watched the boy knock on the broken front door, watched as Johnny accepted the paper and took it inside the house. Ianto heard the echo of Johnny slamming the front door behind him, and just hoped Rhi would understand his note, and meet him.
While he waited for Rhi, Ianto pondered the cryptic meeting place Gwen had asked him meet her and Rhys. He had no idea where they had had ice cream in the past. Nothing sprang to the forefront of his memory. It could be anywhere in the local vicinity, or even farther afield, but he'd never know now.
Ianto stood behind a tree, opposite a park bench, for another hour in his dusty, beaten suit in the park his father used to take both his children when they were little. Ianto had chosen this place because he knew Rhi would remember it, just as he did.
Rhi finally turned up looking around for him. She sat herself at the bench, tapping the sides of the laptop she had brought with her. Ianto walked over to the bench quickly, looking around, checking the area to ensure no one had followed Rhi from the estate.
"Hey," said Ianto.
"Oh my God! What happened to you?"
"I'm not sure yet."
"I wasn't followed. Sit down."
"You worked out my little code, then?"
"Dad didn't break your leg on purpose, you know."
"He pushed me too hard. He always did."
"Well, you should've held on tighter. Seriously. How did you get in that state?"
"There was a bomb that exploded in the Plas last night. It was meant for me and the rest of Torchwood."
"My God! Why?"
"I don't know."
"Is the government permitted to attack one of their own outfits?"
"I don't think so, but at the minute I'm starting to feel like an unappreciated civil servant."
"Are they OK? Jack and Gwen?"
"I don't know. Gwen's alive, but I have no way of contacting her. I'm not sure about Jack," Rhi could see the unshed tears glistening in Ianto's eyes and moved in to hug him.
"He'll be okay Ianto. Even I know he'll be okay."
"They won't get rid of him that easy. I just need to find him."
Ianto lapsed into silence, in an attempt to control the tears in his eyes, but was interrupted by children in the playground opposite chanting.
"We are coming tomorrow. We are coming tomorrow."
"This has something to do with it. It must do. When they tried to blow us up, this is what we were working on."
"We are coming tomorrow."
Ianto ran to the kids area in the park in an attempt to talk to the nearest child.
"Hey, hey, hello. What did it feel like? Just then?"
"Leave her alone! Go away!" shouted the mother of the child.
"They said the same thing here."
"Leave her alone. Piss off, you perv!" the mother continued pointedly.
"Yeah, OK, bye. It happened to David and Mica. What is it? What is it?"
"I don't know. We couldn't find any information about anything like this happening in the past. Nothing in the Archives or on file! It's unusual for something like that to happen and us have no record of it."
"So deal with it. Stop it."
"I need to find Jack. Give me that," Ianto demanded, almost snatching the laptop from Rhi's lap.
"How will this help?" Rhi asked, ignoring Ianto's mood.
"I took down the registration plate of the van they put Jack in. You can track any vehicle with the right computer programmes."
"Yeah. Give me the car keys."
"Oh, Johnny'll do his nut! Especially after what happened to your car."
"Please don't remind me. Jack was not happy when I told him. We don't have time to spare, I need to find Gwen and your car is the only vehicle I have access to otherwise, that can't be traced back to me."
Ianto gratefully took the keys from Rhi and started to move away from the bench.
"A 'thank you' would be nice!"
"Look, I'm sorry. I've got to go. Thanks for all this. I love you!"
It took him 30 seconds to track down who owned the vehicle Jack had been placed in. It took an additional minute to work out the route the vehicle took, and its final resting place - an MOD base in Monmouthshire. Then all he had to do was work out the directions to get there, and how he would go about helping Jack.
With all the fake ID they were given throughout their Torchwood career, finding one that would allow him access to an MOD secure unit was relatively simple. All Ianto needed was a fake personal ID and a contact name in order to get a valid name and vehicle pass. He even managed to talk his way into getting the passes 'unescorted', forgoing the need to contact anyone.
Next on the agenda was working out which building Jack was being held in. This took a little longer to work out. He had to plug Rhi's laptop into the car cigarette lighter for power. Using Torchwoods secure remote software, Ianto was able to dig into the MOD server and retrieve the building number and directions to it. He took up a space on an opposing hill, giving him the perfect vantage point to watch the comings and goings of people and vehicles.
There was one final thing Ianto needed to do. He had to get eyes and ears inside the building. All this hard work would be useless if he didn't know the movements of all individuals inside the building, including which room Jack was being held in.
On his way to the unit building, Ianto had stopped off at a computer store to get some essential hardware. Keeping all senses trained on the building, Ianto moved across open terrain before flattening himself against the building exterior. He quickly located what he needed, using the bought hardware to secure a bird's eye view' inside. Once he'd accomplished his goal, Ianto rapidly moved back to his hiding spot.
In a matter of hours, people, room locations and private conversations were swimming around inside his head. After patiently watching and listening, Ianto now knew Jack's location, the location and patrol timings of all the guards, and the names of pretty much everyone inside the building. One thing that shocked Ianto was the state they were keeping Jack in. Under all prisoner rights laws, there was nowhere that said prisoners should be left to regenerate in a body bag, then, when fully recovered, left naked and bloody for all the world to see.
Every time Jack screamed in agony as his body knitted itself back together, or grew another bone, Ianto shed a tear. If he hadn't been on high alert of being found out, he would have curled into a ball and sobbed uncontrollably for his husband.
The worst thing that Ianto could have ever witnessed was when an agent called Johnson struck up conversation with Jack, because Jack challenged her very loudly. She made it very clear that she did not want to be troubled by Jack's inconvenience coming back to life time and again, and as she spoke, Ianto could see the cement mixer moving into place over the top of Jacks cell. Ianto had to stuff his fist into his mouth to prevent any sound escaping as the mixer was turned on, and cement was poured from a great height onto Jack's body. Ianto closed his eyes, but couldn't block out the sound of Jack's muffled cries and breathing.
It was a great relief to see Gwen and Rhys enter the facility and make their way over the Jack's building. How they'd managed to get into the building was a mystery, but Ianto was glad to see them both alive. It appeared that they'd managed to acquire a morticians van and clothing, and had come under the guise of picking up some deceased bodies.
As Ianto could hear even their whispered conversations he knew exactly what they were planning. His only thought was how he was going to get Jack out of his cement prison, until his gaze fell across a fork lift truck in a hangar not far away. He kept his ear piece in so he could time their getaway just right.
Not only did Ianto steal the fork lift truck, but his nature prevented him using it without the appropriate health and safety, personal protective equipment, so he also stole a builder's hard hat, and a bright yellow high visibility jacket.
He charged as fast as the fork lift truck would go, forcing the metal prongs into the exterior wall. He pulled lift stick upwards, then slammed the gear stick into reverse. The fork lift worked a treat, hauling the big cement block, that contained one Captain Jack Harkness out of the building and away from the soldiers with guns. Ianto caught a glimpse of an astonished Gwen and Rhys ducking to avoid the falling rubble.
Gwen and Rhys ran through the opening Ianto had made.
"Come on, get on," shouted Ianto over the roar of machinery engine.
"Ah, Ianto. You took your time."
"Come on," Rhys urged his pregnant wife, helping her climb up, ensuring her gun arm was free to provide fire cover.
A gunfire fight ensued, with most of the soldiers firing wide of the fork lift truck. Rhys flinched with every shot but kept hold of his wife.
"They're going to catch up."
"Rhys, get out and move that truck up ahead."
"Hold on tight."
Rhys moved as fast as he could, jumping in the truck opposite, using it to block the road after the forklift passed him.
As Rhys ran to get back to his wife, Gwen shouted, "Move, Rhys!"
Ianto watched distractedly as Rhys ran, ducking for cover all the way, as Gwen fired her gun at the truck. The noise from the explosion that followed was deafening. The air blast was something akin to walking out of an air conditioned building and hitting a walled furnace of heat. It took their breath away.
"Come on," shouted Gwen irrespective of their deafened states.
Surprisingly, given the speed of the forklift, the Torchwood team, plus Rhys, managed their daring escape.
Ianto hadn't been given the opportunity to think about anything except retrieving Jacks body, and the escape that followed. Now he had the luxury, he had a bit of an emotional dilemma. How could he free Jack without damaging him further? In the depths of Ianto's mind he knew it was an unreasonable question to ask himself, because Jack was most likely constantly dying, encased in his concrete prison. He drew his mind away from the emotional aspect, instead focusing on the hard facts.
What was the best way to get something out of concrete? Drop it on the ground from a sufficient height in order to smash it open. Realising that this was the only option, Ianto focused his mind on adequate locations to accomplish the concrete smashing.
"Where the hell are you taking us Ianto?"
Ianto was too engrossed in his thoughts to answer straight away.
"What are we doing? Ianto please talk to me!"
He clicked some buttons as he stopped the forklift. He was at the edge of a cliff, overlooking a quarry of some kind. The forklift responded sedately to the buttons demands, growing feet and lifting itself higher. Once everything was set in motion, Ianto spoke.
"You'll see in a moment. Get the car started! We've only got a few minutes. Come on!"
Clueless, Gwen and Rhys obeyed Ianto's instructions, thinking him a crazy with grief.
"Come on, come on, come on," muttered Ianto to himself, watching as the big block of concrete took its time positioning itself over the edge of the cliff. In reality it took several seconds, but time always felt like an eternity when family was involved. Eventually the forklift angled the concrete block off its metal prongs. One minute it was there, the next it dropped over the cliff into the ether. The only sign that anything had happened was the loud crack rippling sound waves around the base of the quarry, as the material encasing his husband shattered into hundreds of pieces.
Ianto jumped of the forklift, almost twisting his ankle in the process. He didn't bother resetting the forklift, as the need for a quick getaway was more urgent. He almost threw himself into Rhys' stolen vehicle, which took off like a bat out of hell down the side of the quarry, following the road towards the mess Jack had been imprisoned in. Wheels screeching to a haul, and all three of the car's occupants quickly scrambled towards the concrete wreckage.
Ianto almost held his breath waiting for something to happen. For Jack to show himself, and as if on cue Jack's gasp back into the living world echoed around the quarry walls. Jack started to pull himself free.
Unable to help himself, Ianto ran as fast as his legs could carry him towards his lover, husband and best friend. Before Ianto could reach him, Jack stood up, slightly unsteadily and totally unexpectedly, but not surprisingly naked. Unusually for Jack, once he had taken in his surroundings, and his audience, he had the graciousness to cover himself with his hands bound by metal.
"Told you I'd be back!" called Jack, trying to act as if he wasn't stark bollock naked, covered in cement dust, wearing only a pair of handcuffs.
"Breaking out the bondage kit a little early in the day don't you think? Especially given present company."
Jack's smile was enough for Ianto to cover the distance separating them, and almost topple them both to the ground. Ianto shone a watery smile at Jack as he righted themselves. In the end he settled for having his arms around Jack's waist, and his around Ianto's neck, given the cuffs. They slipped into a tight hug, Ianto making sure that he couldn't find any injuries on Jack, and Jack just happy to be in the arms of someone he loved and had almost lost, through no fault of their own.
Some tongues and hands may have ventured further south than was acceptable, with present company, and they only separated after Ianto overheard Rhys whisper, "I think they're a millimetre away from heavy petting. We really need to go!"
Drawing apart, Jack looked down at the damage the cement dust had caused over the shoulders of Ianto's suit jacket.
"Seems like I owe you a new suit, again."
"This time I'll settle on getting you some clothes, and keeping you safe and with me."
"Guys! We really need to move. That secret service group will be trying to track us. Get in the car. Come one, we've got work to do."
Jack hobbled his next few steps, before Ianto offered him a piggy back ride. Never one to turn down something fun, and an experience for Ianto to play the knight in shining armour, Jack was more than happy with his mode of transportation to the car. Ianto was definitely stronger than he looked.
Rhys lent Jack a coat to cover up his modesty as they settled in the back seat. Rhys slammed the car into gear and wheel spun out of there.
"What the hell is going on?" Jack asked when they were a sufficient distance from the quarry.
"Dunno yet, but the latest from the kids is that it's happening tomorrow."
"I'm just in time, then."