Hey guys! Sorry for the ridiculous wait for updates again!
Just to fill you in on what's going on; some of you may have seen on my LJ that I'm taking an indefinite hiatus from all things Torchwood, due to a growing dislike for current 'projects' of a certain someone over in America. As such, I'll not be writing much new stuff for the forseeable future, but who knows,maybe I'll be back as a Torchwood fic writer someday =] For now, I'll focus on just updating my profile and upload all the oneshots and smaller fics that may have slipped through the cracks between here and LJ
As for this fic, I'm hoping o write the final chapter sometime very soon, though I think it's safe to say that there will be little to no smut involved - which means the epilogue I'd initally visualised isn't going to be written. I hope the ending still works out well and I hope you enjoy this chapter (the penultimate) and the final one when it appears!
Thank you all so much for the support and comments over the last couple of years. My Torchwood fanfic has been a pretty huge part of my free time and I'm a little sad to find myself so disillusioned, but hopefully, more stuff might arrive, as I do have a few half written ideas that I'd still like to see realised.
In the mean time though, for those of you who might be bothered, I'll be starting to write in the Merlin/Arthur fandom. I've already written and posted my first fic for the fandom up on my LJ and will be adding it to here soon =] - I'd love to see some friendly names in comments, but if you're strictly Torchwood fans then I don't blame you. However, keep watching this space in the future.
"I told you, I don't feel any different to how I was last time." Ianto muttered as Owen continued to scan him, poking various parts of him and applying different amounts of pressure to gauge any changes in his sensitivity.
He'd given Ianto the first dose almost five hours earlier and it was clear that his first attempt at a cure wasn't working. The actual injection had been performed with a great deal of tension and jaw gritting on all three of their parts, but it'd been no where near as traumatising for any of them as that first blood draw. Owen suspected that giving the two lovers time to be together and adapt slightly to Ianto's bizarre senses had served to ease both of their minds.
"Okay, okay. You're right." He snapped the scanner shut and put it down on the desk behind him, rubbing his eyes hard. It had been a long day. "There're some minor changes in the levels, but whether that's from your body adapting slightly, the drug or just general deterioration of the compound, I don't know. Sorry, Jack. It might take a while longer to sort out. I'll get these scans analysed and start working on a new formula."
He tucked his scanner back into his pocket and clambered up out of the bunker. It had been a very long day, and he knew there would be a good few hours left to go before he could even think about clocking off.
He trudged round to the bottom of the autopsy bay and plugged in the scanner, uploading the information he'd just gathered. Wearily, he dropped into his seat and closed his eyes as he sunk down. He'd been wracking his mind for any way to relieve some of the discomfort of the compound's effects, but everything he'd thought about would dull one sense just to heighten another.
It had lead him to think of possible uses for the compound. He'd come to some interesting conclusions about it, but they'd need to be run past Jack. However, he did have an ace in the bag that he could pull out if Jack gave any resistance. As it was, he now needed to get back to work to help Ianto – his side project could wait for a few more hours.
"I feel gross." Ianto slumped awkwardly back against Jack, who wrapped his arms carefully around him.
"In what way? Because I need to know which line to spin." Jack grinned and Ianto growled gently.
"I mean that I've been lying here for... a long time? I need a proper wash and the urge to brush my teeth is getting ridiculous." Ianto looked thoroughly unhappy.
"Has temperature been affected by this thing?" Jack asked gently, the thought not having occurred to him in so far. Ianto hadn't seemed to have an issue with eating the soup, but it wouldn't hurt to check.
"No, I don't think so... Why? What're you thinking?" Ianto twisted slightly to fix Jack with a scrutinising look.
"How about you slip the ear defenders back on for fifteen minutes and I'll show you?" Jack raised his eyebrows and grinned and Ianto, who knew that look anywhere, sighed and nodded.
"If you insist." Ianto said in a faux weary voice. Jack pressed a kiss to his forehead and reached over to the bedside table, retrieving the ear defenders and slipping them back over Ianto's ears. Carefully, he eased himself from behind his lover, kissing him soundly as he did so, and disappeared into the small en-suite bathroom on the other side of the bunker.
Jack carefully closed the door behind him and turned the light on. He moved to the bathtub, put the plug in and sat on the edge as he turned the taps. There was a grinding sound from the walls as the water pipes filled and either expanded with the incoming hot water or contracted a little from the cold water. There'd been times in his past where Jack had thought a Weevil was loose in the Hub, only to find that it was the pipes in the walls.
As Jack considered seeing if he could get the pipe work around the bunker replaced, he glanced around, trying to see if he had any bubble bath and was in mixed minds about whether he was glad or not to be out of such a commodity. The fact that he didn't boded well for his masculinity, but he couldn't deny that it would've been nice – albeit, not essential – in this circumstance.
He waited for the rattling and protesting of the pipes to quieten and swirled the water together absently with the tips of his fingers. It was still a little hot, but not painfully so. He adjusted the amount of cold water flowing in and went back to trailing his fingers through the water. It had been a while since he'd indulged in a really good bath.
He remembered a time when he would frequently spend an hour or two soaking in some hot water after a long day at work – he'd even ordered an unusually large tub to allow for a bit more comfort. Memories of sharing baths on occasion with Ianto brought a smile to his face. With a sigh, he tapped his fingers on the rim of the tub and counted down from twenty, watching the water level rise to just the right point, before turning the taps off to the semi-methodical cacophony of clunks and shudders from the pipes.
He dipped his hand in until his palm lay flat across the bottom of the bath and he judged, due to the ever so slight scolding of his arm, that it was the perfect temperature. He glanced up and found steam already swirling around near the ceiling.
As an afterthought, he dug through the cabinet under the sink and found an old box of plain candles. He used to use them in 'the good old days' when the electricity was prone to being cut off after his superiors left for the night. Even when they'd installed their supposedly 'highly efficient' generator, he'd kept the candles on hand. They'd proved useful a few times in the early years of that first generator.
Now though, he dug two or three out and propped them on the sink, in line with the taps. He put a couple on top of the toilet's cistern lid and he retrieved an old box and very large box of Cook's Matches from the cupboard. He quickly moved around the room, lighting a grand total of seven candles before he turned the light off and opened the door.
He picked his way back over to Ianto, who was lying on his side, eyes closed and a heightened degree of tension in his face. Jack grimaced slightly and ran a hand along Ianto's arm so as not to startle him when he pressed the release on the defenders and eased them away. Ianto looked up with a gratefully and pushed himself up so his lips hovered an inch or so from Jack's.
"So... what've you got for me?" He breathed, making a smile curl at Jack's lips before he closed the gap and kissed Ianto slowly, tugging gently at his lower lip before pulling back and taking his hands.
Ianto got to his feet and Jack carefully covered his eyes, guiding him into the bathroom before moving them away in a 'ta-da!' motion. Ianto grinned and laughed gently, pecking Jack on the cheek in thanks. He let Jack help him out of his pyjamas, not pointing out that he could see better than Jack or that Jack's fingers and palms were taking the very long and winding route across his body as he worked. He paused for a moment, expecting Jack to strip his own clothes off, but he made no move to do so, only taking the time to fold Ianto's clothes carefully and put them in the clothes hamper in the corner.
"Something wrong?" Ianto asked, snaking his hands under Jack's t-shirt to caress his skin.
"No?" Jack glanced over his shoulders, eyebrows raised a little.
"Then why are you making no move to get undressed?" Ianto frowned as Jack's lips stretched into a smile
"Oh no, this one's all yours." Jack grinned and kissed him gently, Ianto understanding and feeling more than a little embarrassed at his assumption.
"Stay and talk to me a bit?" He asked, Jack's grin fading to something more personal and Ianto returned it as Jack gently pushed him towards the full, steaming bath. He took Jack's hand to steady himself as he stepped in and carefully eased himself down into the water.
"You know, I just had a really good idea." Jack said abruptly, vanishing out of the door just as Ianto looked up to him, a witty retort waiting right on the tip of his tongue. He wasn't going to deny being minorly put out at not being able to voice it. Jack appeared back a moment later, brandishing a book. "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes."
Ianto couldn't help but smile at the look on Jack's face. He loved that book, and Ianto had been very pleased to find out that his own passion for the rogue detective was mirrored by his lover. Of course, Jack had lived through the initial publications and hearing Jack's enthusiasm as he told of all his Sherlock Holmes related escapades from the time was a wonderful thing.
Ianto nodded and Jack settled down beside the bath, his back against the tub as he began to read. Ianto lay back in the water and closed his eyes, reaching out one of his hands to run through Jack's hair. With his heightened senses, he could feel each hair, tough and straw-like, though thankfully as a whole, it was still as soft and silky as ever.
Ianto closed his eyes, ignored the hard, smooth surface of the bath against his skin and let Jack's voice and the water wash over him.
Ianto waited until the last possible moment to tell Jack that he was beginning to get cold, waiting for a pause in the story before tapping him a couple of times on the head and starting to hoist himself out of the water. Jack was already on his feet and holding out the softest towel he'd been able to find as Ianto set his feet on dry land again.
He smiled and hummed his approval as Jack wrapped the material around him and gently rubbed his body to dry it off. He found a second towel draped over his head as Jack rubbed his hair a little harder. Ianto couldn't help but feel about five years old again and was surprised to find that he wasn't particularly averse to it.
"Feeling a bit better after that?" Jack asked gently, pushing the towel down round his shoulders and smiling at Ianto.
"Definitely." He leaned forwards and kissed Jack gently, fully aware that if he got too absorbed, Jack's pheromones could easily over power him. He pulled back a little reluctantly.
"What would you like to do now?" Jack asked. Ianto had been crowded into bed for the past day and even on the rare occasions that he fell ill, Ianto didn't like spending too much time cooped up.
"How about getting out of the bunker to stretch my legs?" Ianto asked with a slightly childish grin. Jack nodded with a smile.
"Sounds like a plan." Ianto grinned and Jack couldn't help but chuckle as they went back through to the bedroom and Jack dug out some clean boxers, a pair of jogging bottoms and a clean t-shirt. As Ianto pulled on a pair of soft, thick socks, Jack dug around his desk and found an old pair of sunglasses. The lights were still on in the Hub, even if they were dimmed, but the glasses would take the edge off the light.
"Are these yours?" Ianto asked a little dubiously as Jack put the glasses on him. Jack nodded.
"Yep, real-life 1936 Ray-Ban aviators." Jack smiled at the bizarre way those sunglasses had survived the Second World War and the decades since. He'd been very proud to receive a pair when they were initially released exclusively to fighter pilots.
"I feel like I should be in Top Gun." Ianto said, adjusting the frames slightly.
"I'm cooler than Tom Cruise... and taller." Jack said, a little defensively. Ianto grinned.
"Yes, you are." He patted Jack on the chest patronisingly and turned and climbed up the ladder, shifting the half open cover and climbing out. Jack joined him a moment later and they made their way out into the Hub, Ianto stretching his arms and back as if he was about to go for a run. "That feels so good."
Ianto sighed happily and the sound alerted them to Owen's attention. It appeared Gwen and Tosh where either out on a run or had finally left to get some sleep. It was getting quite late in the evening after all.
"You're up and about then?" He asked, a little louder than necessary, but Ianto was prepared to put up with it. Instead, he cocked an eyebrow.
"So it would seem." He tried to match Owen's volume and the medic smiled slyly.
"Good, it saves me from having to venture into our dear Captain's love-den to have another chat." Ianto snorted at that and followed Owen into the autopsy bay, leaving an indignant looking Jack standing just outside his office.
"It is not a 'love-den'! Just because we happen to have sex in there alot does not make it some kind of kinky hideaway." Jack moved to stand next to Ianto at the top of the stairs, a pout on his face. Ianto looked at him over the top of the sunglasses, matching the look Owen was fixing him from the floor below. "Okay, okay... sometimes it's a love-den – but not often enough to be called one all the time!"
"That's something I didn't need to hear." Owen muttered, turning back to his computer. He tapped at his keyboard a few times and brought up displays from microscopes on the wall in front of them all. "Okay, steering away from that potentially scarring conversation, these are the effects of the different solutions I've been trying."
"How are they different?" Ianto asked, studying the images.
"The injection I gave you was an enzyme suspended in a saline base, but with the concentration I gave you, it was barely moving a few feet through your blood stream before being absorbed." Owen called up some more graphs and diagrams, but neither of the other two understood them particularly. "I know that the enzyme dislodges and breaks up the compound from applying it directly to a sample, but my problem is what to use to make a solution. These slides are different concentrations of saline and a couple that bind the enzymes into bigger clumps with wheat gluten."
"And the larger clumps mean the solution travels further?" Ianto asked, keeping up reasonably well with Owen's dumbed down explanation.
"Theoretically? Yeah." Owen avoided Jack's eyes, but thankfully, the glare being directed at him didn't have the chance to be verbalised as Ianto cut in.
"But?" The warning tone was in his voice, but it was nowhere near as dangerous as Jack's would've been.
"But the wheat gluten isn't allowing the enzymes to get where they want to... so I have to go back to finding something to transport the enzyme more effectively." Owen swivelled on his chair a little, as if pondering what to say next. Ianto was beginning to get an inkling of what might be his next suggestion. "The only other thing that might be affecting the efficiency of the enzymes is the location I inject it into you."
"I'm willing to bet that using the top of my arm isn't the fastest way to my..." Ianto frowned and glanced at Jack, who seemed to be in deep contemplation. He looked back at Owen. "Where is it you're targeting?"
"Your nervous system." The medic replied. A silence fell across them and Owen found Jack staring darkly at the floor.
"The fastest way to that is through the spine, correct?" Ianto said a little haltingly. He didn't like the thought of what would come next.
"Yep... only problem is, I can't sedate you and no matter how much we restrain you or numb the area, it'll hurt. Alot. It's bad enough without your hyperactive senses, but it would be a whole new level of pain." Owen grimaced as he looked at Ianto. He couldn't read his eyes behind the sunglasses, but the set of his jaw and the way his hands clung tightly to the metal railing told him the idea wasn't much appreciated.
"Pain means flinching, flinching means movement and movement means complications." Jack said, surprising them both. Ianto turned to look at him. He suddenly looked very old and very tired.
"It would also have to be a drip fed in over an hour or two, giving a constant supply of the enzyme. If I did it in one injection, the concentration would be too high and, from what I can tell, could do more damage than good to your system."
"Okay then. Long, painful cure with plenty that could go wrong. I like it – very Torchwood." Ianto smirked humourlessly and let go of the railings. "At the moment, what're the chances that you find a solution of the enzyme that'll travel through a normal IV and sort this all out?"
"I might be able to do it, but it could take weeks – if not months."
"I don't want to stay like this for that long. We may as well just leave my body to filter itself on its own for that length of time... It might take years, but it would happen eventually." Ianto was suddenly all business, ignoring the curious look Jack was fixing him with. "With this straight into my spine option, what's the likelihood of being able to carry out the process?"
"Ignoring possible complications - pretty high. The current solution I'm working on is a tweaked version of what I injected you with. That works extremely well when applied directly to your clogged up blood. All I'd need to do is inject you with it and take some scans and then work out the concentration needed and mix up a large enough batch." Owen looked Ianto dead in the eye – or at least, dead in the face. He hoped he was looking him dead in the eye. He was slightly gratified to see he was when Ianto lowered the glasses slightly.
"And the time estimate?" He asked carefully. Both of them were amazed at how little Jack was inputting into the conversation.
"By tomorrow afternoon, the day after at the very latest." Owen replied. They stared hard at each other for a long moment before Ianto slid the glasses back over his eyes and nodded. He leaned back and slapped his palms down on the metal railing.
"What're we waiting for then?" Ianto said with his usual efficiency. Owen felt a smile curling at his own lips and he granted the tea-boy some kudos for how he was handling the situation.
"Alright, come down here and let me give you an injection of the altered solution. Jack can monitor you for me over night and I'll take scans in the morning when I get in." Owen turned back to the counters behind him and began preparing a syringe.
Up by the railing, Ianto slid his hand into Jack's and squeezed gently. He leaned his head against Jack's temple and closed his eyes for a moment. Jack's stiff posture relaxed a little and he let go of Ianto's hand, sliding an arm around his waist. Ianto felt a small swell of comfort in his chest and hesitantly left Jack's embrace to go down to where Owen was waiting, immensely thankful to find Jack following him.
He sat on the metal table and Jack moved to stand between his legs, resting an arm around his neck. Ianto leaned into Jack's chest and let Owen roll up his sleeve and firmly grip him just above the elbow. Without any warning, the medic swiftly plunged the needle into his skin, not relinquishing his now painful grip as Ianto's arm flinched until all of the solution had been injected. Ianto bit back a howl of pain and gritted his teeth, just waiting for it to be over.
It only lasted for a second or two before the syringe was pulled out and Owen had let go. Jack's hand moved to the puncture mark and pressed a piece of cotton wool to it gently but firmly. Ianto took a couple of deep breaths before sitting up properly and taking over from Jack. He smiled his thanks to both of them and jumped to his feet.
"Now, if you don't mind, I'd like to stretch my legs. I'll leave you two to yell at each other." Ianto slipped out from Jack's personal space and quickly made his way up the stairs and out into the Hub. The tension had been brewing the moment Owen mentioned the spinal drip and he didn't want to be around as they both exploded.
Knowing there was only a matter of seconds before the yelling began, he quickly made his way across the basin and into the tunnels that lead to the lower levels. His aim was one of the only soundproofed rooms in the Hub – the firing range.