This is a repost of my first Reel_Torchwood story in more manageable chapter sizes. It's a Whoniverse retelling of The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Characters are: Jack/Ianto, Tosh, Owen, Gwen/Rhys, Andy, Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, the Doctor as portrayed by David Tennant and Matt Smith, Brian Cox and OCs galore. Dedicated to my fantastic betas, Gogo_Didi, Istezada, Lizzy, Aranellaurelote and, on one nortable occasion, my mother.
I hope you enjoy it. We're currently up to the end of The Two Towers, so there will be a long wait for the final part, for which I apologise.
The noise of the river was calming as the dusk settled around him for the third day after he left Strasbourg. He knew that to get here so fast he'd pushed himself too hard, but this serene region was a blessed relief after the utter devastation he'd witnessed and experienced through the rest of Europe. War had ripped out the continent's heart and left it battered and bleeding on a thousand battlegrounds, from the streets of the ghettos to the beaches of Normandy. Here, though, all was quiet and still apart from the sussurus of the leaves moving in the wind and the rush of water through the shallow river bed. It was an idyllic spot even when the world was at peace, but when all he had to compare it to was war it seemed like heaven.
He shrugged his bag off and ducked into the shelter of a weeping willow near the bank, pausing to let his eyes grow accustomed to the darkness under there. Once he could see more than merely vague shadows, he dropped his bag against the tree trunk and pulled his filthy clothes off, dumping them in a pile next to his bag. The water was extremely cold, forcing a gasp out of him despite his best efforts, and he cleaned himself off as fast as he could.
Back in the shadow of the tree, he emptied the contents of his bag onto the floor and found two blankets, one cleaner than the other, and wrapped the cleaner one around himself, sitting on the other. Darkness had fallen fully and he could see nothing beyond his shelter, or even inside it. With a heavy sigh, he wrapped the blanket tighter around himself and settled down to sleep.
It was the light that awoke him, a glow like fire that dragged him back into his memories so that, just for a moment, he was back in Berlin dodging allied bombs and enemy police. He reacted without realising it and dropped to a crouch just inside the protection of the hanging branches, gun in one hand whilst the other pulled the branches aside enough for him to be able to look outside. Quiet reigned once more, though – he was alone, apart from the glowing something across the river. "Why me?" he muttered, chucking his gun onto the pile of discarded blankets.
Back into the water, now even colder after night had taken away the sun's minimal warming effect, hesplashed his way across, only just keeping his footing and saving himself from a dunking. The rocks underfoot were uneven and occasionally sharp, and he really didn't want to fall onto them, even if the (icy cold) water would cushion his fall slightly.
Whatever had woken him in its landing was still glowing, although its light had dimmed slightly. He flicked water at it and sat down next to it when the water just ran off. It was warm to the touch, but possibly only compared to the temperature of the river, and was vibrating minutely, just enough that he could tell it was doing it, but not enough that he could actually feel it. The glow dimmed further as it warmed more in his hands and then increased when he carried it across the river.
Back in his grotto, he turned it over and studied it in the light cast by a single match. The brief look he got was enough to tell him that it was a flat-ish box, about twice as long as it was wide, curving smoothly widthways and flat on each end. There was a series of buttons, which he refrained from pressing, on one end, and a selection of holes on the other end. The match burnt nearly down to his fingers and he blew it out, blinking as the light blindness descended, the only point of reference he had was the very, very dim glow of the box in his hands. Sighing again, he shoved it into the bottom of his still empty bag and curled up under the blanket, trying to get warm again.