"His name is Alonzo."
As goodbyes go, this one stings. For all they've been through together, all they've done, all the time Jack waited and all he's had ripped from him, the Doctor is giving him a pickup line to use on a naïve kid. The man Jack used to be would have jumped at the chance: forgiveness and apology wrapped up in one badly-timed gift. He can feel the warmth of his TARDIS key glowing in his pocket, though, and Jack isn't the man he used to be. The man he's become has seen and lost too much. The Doctor can't resist meddling and will find something to distract himself from going wherever he meant to go next. Jack has time.
Jack buys Alonzo a drink but leaves before the bartender returns. He is already forming a plan.
She skitters nervously in his mind, wary of her Fact. He knows if she chooses, the TARDIS can change the shape of her lock, make him a thief rather than a lover, but his key slides in as if greased. She opens her door to him.
"Please," he says, standing within her. "Please."
His thoughts are sharper than his dull supplication: she made him like this, she cursed him.
She loved him so much that she brought him back to life and then left him in horror. She owes him.
Jack's memories wade in Dalek dust. Her power destroyed the Doctor's enemies and changed Jack forever.
He would render the 456 to dust, let them feel the screams inside his head. He pictures himself an awful god sitting in judgement.
No. He wants destruction, but he'll exchange death for life. Jack fills his mind with calm smiles and dirty laughs and sweet hours spent just kissing. He remembers strong arms wrapped around his body, remembers a quiet presence offering him strength and hope, and that rarest gift of all, acceptance.
Love pours through him so thickly he nearly chokes. He offers the memories up to her. The TARDIS broke him. All Jack wants is someone to put him back together.
Her console opens to him
Ianto wakes to cramped darkness and the foul smells of formalin and worse. He cannot see. He feels his clothes soaked through with what his brain sluggishly tells him is secondhand embalming fluid. When he can breathe, he screams, but he can't breathe for long. He is oxygen-starved and delirious, hallucinating in the cold, stinking dark. Suzie talked about this. Jack never does. Did. This is the dark, and he is alone. He must be dead.
Pounding on the padded lid of the casket bruises his hands, breaks bones in his fingers. He loses consciousness, gasping awake again and again, his hands healed.
The screams become constant and unaware of time.
Ianto hears rough sounds high above him. He gibbers and fears at the noises in the dark. The casket trembles. Ianto screams and screams and passes out again.
He gasps awake.
"Jack, please," says a voice. Female. He knows her. Gwen.
"Trust me." Ianto must be dreaming because it's Jack. He forms the word on his dry, hungry lips like a last prayer.
With a mighty creak, floods into Ianto's world. It's too bright. He screams again, only vaguely aware of Gwen screaming in reply and falling back, of Jack bending in over him with his great arms and grateful sobs.
Ianto is sane, eventually. Days pass, wrapped in blankets with tea and soft foods brought to him by people who love him. He remembers the time after Jack's own purgatory underground, Jack who spends hours stroking his hair and brushing his mouth against a missing scar.
Ianto is treated like a precious, fragile thing. Jack stays beside him, whispering endearments into his skin, even as Ianto sleeps.
"Who else?" Ianto asks him, three days later, when his mind is recovered and he has tired of tea.
Jack gives him a dopey smile. "There hasn't been anyone else."
"No." He's sane, but coherency is difficult. "Who else did you bring back?"
Her power thrums through him, better than any sensation he's ever felt. Rose was the Bad Wolf, but Jack hasn't written himself across time, merely borrowed the Vortex for one moment. He has lost so much. He can see them all now. He came here for Ianto, to plead for his life. He cannot help thinking that Ianto is but the most recent cut of so many.
His mind drifts only for an instant. But what is an instant in the Vortex?
The excavator digs deep into the earth. Alice fought them with law and tears, but Torchwood can overrule even her objections. At a meter deep, Ianto can hear the child crying.
Tosh will be next.
Jack stands back at a distance, watching Gwen give orders to the workers at the ruins of the Hub. She's huge and tired, lines drawn on her face as they bring her the latest news. The coded tapping is louder now, and they think the breakthrough to the vaults will happen sometime today. Gray is down there, with Harriet and Charles and so many others. Waiting.
His mobile has a snap Alice sent this morning: Lucia snuggling their grandson, miraculously alive, miraculously ten years old for always and ever.
Ianto joins him. Jack takes his unresisting hand, allows himself a moment to admire his own handiwork: Ianto will be young and healthy, will be the quiet support Jack needs when he feels himself falling, will love Jack and be with him forever.
A cheer erupts from the direction of the Hub. The beloved dead are rejoining the world, will live until the end of time.
Ianto, still holding Jack's hand, isn't looking at the scene. Instead, he is staring with sadness and reproach directly at Jack, and this is a memory that will also last Jack until the end of time:
"What have you done?"