Gwen parted from her captain as they came up to the group who were allegedly under attack from a pack of Weevils, though she couldn't see a single one anywhere nearby. Mentally she shook her head in disbelief. The lack of attackers suggested that it had been nothing but pure tom foolery from her colleague as the two men seemed to be unable to keep their hands to themselves for more that ten minutes these days. But still, there was an unconscious girl who needed her help.
"Hello, I'm Gwen Cooper." She introduced herself to the teenage boy tending to the girl on the ground. "I'm here to help your friend."
"I'm Yamino." He replied back with an outstretched hand for the woman to shake. "Thank you for your offer of help."
A smile snuck on Gwen's face as she accepted the handshake. It was such a rarity to meet a well mannered youth nowadays, and one who was so calm in the 'supposed' given situation. "What happened to your friend?" She crouched down to get a closer look at the unconscious girl.
"Miss Mayura just took a bit of a fall. Nothing serious; she'll be fine when she wakes up."
The way which the boy had addressed his friend took Gwen by slight surprise. Nobody except servants, Ianto, and sweet old Mrs Biggs from down the road from her and Rhys, ever used 'Sir' or 'Miss' to address another, no matter how they were equated to the person in question.
Suddenly the sound of two voices shouting over each other, followed by a bright blinding light, caught Gwen's attention. She shielded her eyes as she fought to stare in the direction of the chaos. When the light faded she mirrored the expression worn by her captain as she saw what had become of their colleague.
"Ianto?" Jack's voice was nothing more that a confused whisper as he continued to stare at the diamond encased form of the Welshman. He hadn't come across any kind of being that had the ability to do such a thing. Was his lover still alive in there? Dead? No! Like a switch at the thought of having lost Ianto from his life, the captain flung himself towards the young boy.
Still stunned at having captured the wrong man with his magic, Loki lost the hold on his staff as he was gripped tightly by the anger fuelled stranger and it fell to the ground with a thud as his body was hoisted into the air.
"What did you do to him?!" Jack demanded angrily and shook the boy in his grasp. Part of him wanted to lose control and beat the boy black and blue; he wasn't part of this world, or at least timeframe, so what would it matter after what he'd done to Ianto? But the more humane part of him clung in control and reminded him that this boy was nothing more than a child; just like Steven, and there wasn't anything that'd make him lift a hand to his own grandson, or any other child for that matter.
Loki now found it difficult to breathe from the tightened clothing around his neck where he had been grasped and began to cough and wheeze as he tried to respond to the narrowed glare fixed on him.
"Daddy!" Fenrir leapt at his father's attacker and sank his teeth straight into the man's arm.
Annoyed by the nip he had received, Jack flung his arm and easily shook it free from the puppy dangling there. He had to admire the small creature's devotion to its master, but seriously, was that pathetic bite supposed to hurt him? His attention drew back to the boy. "You had better undo what you did to Ianto or else… Ugh!"
The captain didn't get the chance to finish his threat as he felt more teeth on his arm as they buried themselves deep within his flesh. He let go of the boy and now found a huge black dog, - no it wasn't a dog, it was a wolf, but where had that come from? - release its jaws and then prepared to come at him for another attack.
Quickly Jack drew his Webley and shot off several bullets at the vicious beast.
The gunshots missed their target indicating just how severely the captain's arm had been injured as he never usually missed his mark. Jack's arm wavered as he tried to line up his aim and fire again. He watched his attacker come closer and then suddenly stop as it spied something over his shoulder. Foolishly Jack turned to look too but his gun, - still quivering from the pain in his arm, - remained pointed at the wolf.
There stood directly behind him was a giant snake. Its body was mostly coiled together on the ground though its head hovered way above the captain as it swayed to perfect its aim before diving down at him without warning.
"Aargghhh!" Jack let out a roar of pain as the snake's fangs penetrated through his upper torso and injected him with burning venom.
Using the sudden rush of hormones produced by his body to help combat the excruciating pain flaring throughout, he gained the strength needed to redirect the aim of his gun and fired at the snake. He hadn't been excepting to hit it at all with such a spontaneous shot so was extremely pleased when he heard a loud hiss blown in his face as the bullet skimmed the scaly form.
Jack steadied his hand a little more as he prepared himself to take another shot. This time he wouldn't miss; how could he when had the barrel pushed up against the snake's sinuses? He fought back the pain as he felt the endorphins fade within him and attempted to squeeze the trigger of his Webley once more.
Crunch! With one swift bite the wolf tore clean the threat to the serpent's life.
Hot blood oozed into the captain's mouth as he bit down hard on his tongue to stop him from screaming out again. Tears streamed from his scrunched up eyes as he struggled to control his rapid breathing through gritted teeth.
Eventually Jack opened his waterlogged eyes and viewed the stub of his arm where his hand should have been. He'd faced and lived through much worse tortures in his time but still his body was struggling to stay conscious. Dying on a job was not something he liked to let happen, but right now he could do with a fresh restart for his body.
Loki coughed and spluttered where the greatcoated man had dropped him. As he fought for the use of his voice to return he had no choice but to watch the fight that had broken out. He was filled with a sense of pride as both of his sons had come to his aid and each others' but had to stop them as he needed the skewered man alive.
"Stop!" He managed to shout as he saw Fenrir land in front of him with the freshly severed hand.
"Yes Daddy." Obediently the wolf dropped the contents of its mouth and slowly morphed back into the small puppy.
"Yamino, don't kill him!" Loki shouted up to the serpent's raised head. "I need him alive."
"I think that it may be a bit late to guarantee his survival." The snake's speech was muffled with the captain still pierced inside its mouth. "Sorry father." Carefully he lowered his head to the ground and retracted the fangs that had gushed the toxic poison upon their penetration.
Jack flopped down on the ground with two huge stab wounds that now flowed freely with blood. If the remaining venom burning inside his system didn't kill him first, he knew that the blood loss soon would. He saw the young boy now peering over him where he laid unable to move, but at least his mouth still worked as he spat blood and sneered; each word causing him a huge amount of pain. "I got a few words … I'd like to say … unfortunately … they're not suitable … for pretty little ears … like yours..."
"Where's Odin?" Loki asked. He was aware that the man was angry, would die soon, and doubted that an apology would do him much good.
"What?!" A confused expression momentarily flickered on Jack's face before it scrunched up with pain once more.
"Odin. I know you've been in contact with him. Where is he?" There was no reply from the disgusted stare he received from the rapidly life fading man so Loki decided to issue an apology after all in the hope that it would prompt the response he wanted. "Sorry, I didn't mean for this to happen, but I need to know where he is."
Still no reply as the man's breathing become shallower.
"Please, it's important. I need to find him!"
From beyond his discomfort the darkness called to Jack and before he got the chance to tell the boy that he didn't have a clue about the person he was searching for, he was dragged away by the strong and insistent force of death.
"Damn!" Loki muttered at seeing the eyes roll back inside the dead man's head. Relying on instinct and travelling to the foreign country, he'd come so far to tracking down the god he sought and now his lead was at an end.
"Punyan." Ecchan returned to his master's head and offered words of comfort to the disappointed god. "Punyan, punyan, punyan."
"Thanks." Loki petted the little pink spirit who had assured him that he'd find the other god someday in the foreseeable future and not to blame himself for the man's unfortunate death. He turned and glanced downwards at Fenrir who sniffed at the dead body and then over to Yamino who was now in his human form, nursing a shallow bullet wound to his left arm. All the while there was silence as he made his way to them.
Suddenly the stillness of the air was interrupted by the sound of a clicking hammer of a gun getting ready to shoot. "Who, or rather what, are you?" Gwen demanded as she stood beside the fallen girl and with her gun locked onto the boy she had seen Jack go for a moment earlier. Without any ammunition in her gun she had been forced to sit back and let the fight proceed to the end. Now she hoped that her bluff of threatening to shoot would pay off and get her information out of the group.
"Shall I disarm her Daddy?"
"No, there's been enough bloodshed." Gwen watched as the boy shook his head in reply to the series of yaps that had just come from the puppy before he answered her question. "Trust me ma'am; you wouldn't believe me even if I told you."
"Try me!" As Gwen waited for the boy to start his explanation there was the sound of a crack coming from the diamond shaped mirror which held her friend captive. She looked over to see that a fracture slowly grew bigger across the fragile prison and then another break forming beneath that. Her attention was snagged back from Ianto and to the boy who moved towards where the fallen staff lay. "Freeze, or I'll shoot."
"Okay, it's your call." The boy stepped back into position and away from his staff. "But if that mirror breaks before I can undo my magic, then your friend will cease to exist."
Now Gwen became unsure of what to do. If what the boy was saying was true, well she didn't want anything bad to happen to Ianto. But if he was bluffing, and she believed his lie in order for him to retrieve his staff, then she'd be defenceless with her empty gun if he challenged her with his weapon.
"You may want to hurry with your decision Miss Cooper." Yamino urged as the second split grew bigger. "Master Loki's magic won't hold forever."
Had she not seen the teenager transform into the giant snake and back then she might have instantly done as he had told her. He was polite and had an honest face so why not? Because he's just murdered Jack that's why! She screamed at herself. Okay her boss was immortal and could come back from the dead but that was besides the point…
"Okay, but any funny business and I'll shoot." The sound of yet another fracture threatening to break the fragile diamond prompted her to make the decision with another bluff of firing her weapon. She couldn't just stand there and possibly let her friend die as a result of doing nothing to try and prevent it. If this Loki boy was lying and attacked her instead…Gwen hadn't quite thought that far ahead, and as she watched him pick up the staff and point it at the mirror prison, it looked like she wouldn't need to either.
The Welshman was released the moment that the command left Loki's mouth. He re-materialised from the fading diamond, turned back to his normal self and landed hard on the grassy earth below him.
"Ianto?" Gwen called as she sidetracked over to him whilst keeping her aim fixed on the boy; just in case.
"I'm okay." He insisted as he stood and rubbed the sore area of his behind that had taken most of the impact from the fall. His eyes were fixed on Loki, particularly on the young boy's head where he could now see the small pink spirit, and tried to dislodge the hallucination with a prolonged blink.
No good, the creature was still there so Ianto chose to do the next best thing by ignoring and not making a fuss about what he had seen. His eyes diverted to land on the lifeless captain. "Pity we can't say the same thing about Jack." Slowly he moved to retrieve the missing limb and then approached the bloodied body of his lover. The unpleasant sight caused his stomach to turn but he managed to keep his wit. "I can't believe that I sacrificed myself and yet you still managed to get yourself killed."
There was a feeling of guilt tugging away at Loki as he watched the Welshman kneel down beside the corpse with his back to him and blocking the deceased from view. "I'm sorry about your friend's death."
"It's okay." Ianto spoke weakly to the boy. In front of him he watched as the tissue and bone of the severed hand began to reattach itself to Jack's body and the gapping chest wounds close up to leave only tattered clothing behind. He sat patiently, - and now silently, - waiting for the moment when the other man would awake.
"I didn't intend to harm him." Loki continued and tried to justify his actions from just a short while ago. "All I wanted was his cooperation …"
"And you thought you'd get that by sealing him in a pane of glass?" Gwen questioned sceptically. She received a wide eyed apologetic look from the boy who seemed to seek forgiveness for the outcome that had accrued. Boy, was he in for a surprise.
"It's a little hard to explain …" Loki's voice was cut off by the sound of an extremely deep inhalation as the captain revived.
With his first intake of fresh breathe Jack lunged forward and back into life. Every time his body would react in the same manner from the terrifying experience of being dragged across broken glass, but this time he felt himself restrained from behind.
Reaching up he fumbled at the thing that held him so tightly that it almost stopped the physical shaking caused as a result of the trauma from his revival. An arm he figured, but whose he wasn't completely certain though he did have a fairly good idea from the texture of the fabric beneath his fingertips. "Ianto?"
"Yup, I'm here, I've got you." The Welshman held on tightly, refusing to let go of his lover as though the embrace would be their last. He'd seen the scared look in Jack's eyes each time he had had to witness the revival process and wanted the other man to know that he wasn't alone to cope with it on his own anymore. Not while he was around.
Oh thank god! Jack closed his eyes as he breathed a heavy sigh of relief from not having lost the man he loved. He clung on to him tightly in return and savoured the comfort provided that made his revive that little bit more bearable.
The two men gradually parted and the captain was helped back up onto his feet. Jack stood there in his crimson shredded greatcoat and smirked at the bewildered looking faces gawking at him. "What's wrong boys? You never seen a man come back to life before?"
"What the fuck is going on here?!" Fenrir barked demandingly.
"Okay?!" Ianto almost jumped a mile at hearing the puppy speak and looked at Loki. "That pink blob on your head I can deal with, but talking dogs?" He shook his head. "No way!"
Gwen and Jack exchanged looks, each of them urging the other to be the one to tell the Welshman that he'd been imagining things.
Caving in to that stubborn look which he secretly loved, Jack was the one to eventually speak up. "Ianto, when you say talking, you don't mean that in the literal sense right?"
"That's exactly what I mean."
"No you're hearing things sweetheart; the dog didn't say a word, it only barked." Gwen felt the need to provide back up for Jack and finally lowered the gun in her grasp. "And there's no pink blob on his head either so you're seeing things too."
"Oh I wouldn't sound so sure if I were you." Loki replied, still stunned by seeing the dead captain revive, hearing the unlikely f-word leave his son's mouth, and the Welshman with the ability to now see and hear things which most mortals could not. "It seems that since being release from my magic it has left your friend with some side effects."
"Punyan?" The pink spirit left its master's head once more and floated over towards the Welshman who seemed to almost flinch away from it.
"No need to fear, Ecchan's completely harmless." Loki assured.
Ianto forced a half smile as the creature floated around in mid-air just inches away from him. "Kind of reminds me of something from an anime I used to watch. Small, round and insanely cute."
"Punyaaan!" Ecchan exclaimed happily as it performed a series of summersaults and then returned to the favoured nesting spot atop the laughing boy who now felt more at ease around the three strangers.
Feeling like they'd been left out of some kind of elusive club, Gwen and Jack exchanged another bemused stare before Jack asked, "Who are you guys?"
The laughing stopped though the smile remained on the small boy's face as he introduced himself. "I am the Norse god Loki."
"That figures." The captain snorted. "A little brat like you in charge of mischief and chaos; also explains why you're looking for some guy called Odin." He smirked mockingly. "Sorry though, can't help you."
"That's obviously a lie." Loki shot back calmly and amazed that the man hadn't doubted what he'd been told. It was like he must deal with abnormal things on a regular basis so was open minded to what most people would refuse to accept when heard. "Fenrir smelt his scent on you."
Jack shook his head. "Impossible. I don't know him."
"He didn't say that you did, just that you've had contact with him." Ianto pointed out. "Think Jack, what have you done these past few months? You might have unknowingly encountered him during that time."
"In that case then it could have been anyone." The captain shrugged lazily. Despite that fact that the question had been phrased politely enough, what his lover actually meant was, 'Okay, you've been rumbled, who have you been cheating on me with?' Of course there hadn't been anybody. "You know how busy we've been with the residential Weevils and then there were, - to name just a few, - the Daleks, two trips abroad, Jackson Leaves, sin eating insects, apocalyptic pallbearers … Hey!" He broke off as the puppy came closer sniffing frantically all the while. "You get any more acquainted with my leg and I'll introduce you to my boot!"
Fenrir ignored the unhappy reaction from having pressed his nose up against the man's lower right limb. "There it is again!"
"Odin's scent?" Ianto asked in response to the faint growl like sound.
"Yes it's there, but this … sniff … this is something else." He breathed in again so that the many different odours filled the receptors inside his nose. "Blood, dirt, sweat, coffee…"
A raised eyebrow and an accompanying whine was sent Jack's way.
"What?" The captain asked the cynical looking dog and then turned to his lover for a translation. "What'd he say?"
"The same thing that I tell you a quite frequently."
"To indicate when I'm driving?"
"No." Ianto breathed out tiredly. What the hell did Jack think his driving skills had to do with scent? "That you should shower after sex."
"What!?!" He gawked down at Fenrir before his attention shifted to Gwen who avoided his gaze whilst keeping her lips tightly purse together to stop further laughter escaping. The captain straightened himself up again as he tried to keep as much dignity as possible and jeered the Welshman. "Yeah, well I'd rather smell like me then an overpowering strawberry."
Ianto's eyes narrowed at the jest that had been made; Jack would never let him live it down that he'd accidentally picked up the wrong type of shower gel last time he'd done his shopping. It was an easy mistake to make for anyone who had been awake for over forty hours and he didn't intend on correcting it to only let the summer berry scented one go to waste, so had gone ahead and used it.
"At least he's clean."
"My point exactly." Ianto agreed with the remark that Fenrir had quietly muttered. "You completely read my mind."
"He can read minds too?!" Gwen asked amazed but received an odd look from the Welshman.
"Figure of speech Gwen, figure of speech."
"Look, can we hurry this, - whatever it may be, - up?!" Jack was becoming impatient and frustrated with not being able to understand what it was that the dog was conversing. At least when Owen and other past team members had made snippy remarks he could comeback with some kind of retort.
Fenrir took another nose full of the captain's scent. "Odin. And …?" He paused and looked at his father. "Are you sure that you haven't met this guy before Daddy?"
"Positive." Loki assured. "I think that I would remember meeting a man who couldn't die." He looked at Jack. "How is that possible anyway?"
"Long story." The captain breathed deeply. He never much liked talking about the finer details of his past with anyone, even Ianto, though the Welshman was aware of this particular tale. "The short version is that my friend, she accidentally resurrected me and now I can't die."
"Your friend being a goddess?" Yamino questioned in the hope that it would provide a clue to how the man may have had contact with Odin.
"Depends on who you ask." Jack smirked as he remembered the day he met and rescued Rose as she dangled in the night time sky above wartime London. How her behind had filled the view from his binoculars; the way she'd fainted in his arms after arriving onboard his ship before they later danced on top of it with the cloaking on in front of Big Ben. If only she hadn't had eyes for the Doctor … He became aware that he was spending too long in his memories. "No, she wasn't. Just a normal everyday human."
Things went silent for a moment and then the little black dog began to inhale once more. "I need my nose examined." Fenrir whined as he took one final sniff of the captain. "There's a very faint whiff of you on him too Daddy."
"What!?!" Both Yamino and Ianto exclaimed at the same time.
"Hmm, this just keeps getting weirder." Loki spoke aloud before pondering to himself. Who is this man?
"Yes Ecchan, Mayura would indeed say such a thing about this mystery." The boy agreed with the spirit on his head.
"Oh my, Miss Mayura!" Yamino exclaimed. He'd forgotten all about her since morphing into his true form and going to his brother's aid against the greatcoated man.
Loki watched as his youngest son, - still nursing the wound on his arm, - returned to their unconscious friend and frowned. How could she have slipped his mind too? They had to get her some place more comfortable than outside in the open night air. He turned to Jack. "Would it be possible for you to accommodate us until she wakes up?"
"I think that that would be a good idea." Ianto spoke up. "That way we could try and figure out what connects you both to each other."
Jack nodded. "Okay, you're coming with us. Gwen, help Ianto carry the girl…"
"Mayura!" Loki corrected Jack on his terminology. He disliked the way that he'd just referred to her as 'the girl' as though she were a nobody. "Her name's Mayura."
"Okay." Jack drew out the word as he looked at the offended glare of the young boy. "Carry Mayura back to the SUV."
"SUV?" Yamino asked as the two Welsh colleagues supported the teenage girl's weight between them.
"Yeah." The captain snorted. "Got a problem with that?"
"I haven't." He replied. "But Master Loki has a touch of Amaxophobia."
Jack's face was blank as was Gwen's. "What's Amaxophobia?" She asked.
"It means, he has a fear of riding in vehicles." Ianto explained to her; displaying his almost never ending source of knowledge once more.
"Really?" The captain's lips turned in a sly upwards curve at hearing the Welshman's words. He swept the boy up with one arm. "Come on squirt, you can ride shotgun with me."
"Punyaaan!" Ecchan relocated to Yamino's head as they watched his master being helplessly carried away.
"Who you calling squirt?!" Loki bellowed with his arms and legs flailing wildly and not wanting to go anywhere near the black four by four. "Put me down! Put me down!"