"God fucking dammit," is the first thing Owen says when Ianto finally gets him free from the control room. He says "fuck" several more times as Ianto explains the basics:
- Yes, Owen is once again back from the great beyond.
- Yes, if he'll inspect his own chest, he'll notice that means really back, really alive and no longer partially alive but mostly dead.
- Yes, it's Jack's fault, as if he had to ask, and
- Yes, that means as far as Ianto, Jack, or anyone else knows, they're immortal now.
"This isn't going to end well for anybody."
Ianto has already considered this. Jack is over the moon giddy with the thought of all his loved ones back, and despite Ianto's concerns, he thinks it will be fine. But while Ianto will be twenty-six for the rest of time, Jack's grandson will be ten, and Jack's ex Lucia will be in her sixties forever. He's not pleased at the thought of meeting all Jack's exes, especially those who died still in love with Jack. Most recent does not mean best beloved, and even best beloved does not and cannot mean only, not with Jack, not ever. Some of those Jack brought back will be elderly. Some will be very young.
Jack never does think things through. It's part of why Ianto loves him.
Owen breaks into his thoughts. "Where's everyone else?" They fall into step as they walk through the abandoned corridors.
"Jack and Gwen are explaining to the survivors from the Hub. Tosh is recovering. She ought to be up and about tomorrow."
"She died when you did."
Several expressions cross Owen's face. Ianto's not sure Owen knew. He's also not sure he didn't know. "She's immortal, too?"
It takes three days to acquire the rest of the permits. Jack yells at many important people. Ianto apologises to them when he finishes. Tosh hacks into their laughably-protected systems and smooths the paperwork chain. Jack has asked Gwen to take over the reintroduction of the Hub survivors to the modern world. She's good at it, and he's a coward, making this a perfect arrangement.
He's only spoken to Gray once. Gray doesn't remember the power shutting down when the Hub exploded, only recalls waking up in the darkness to the sounds of the other resurrectees beating in terror on their drawers until they climbed out into their little pockets of pitch-black fear and waited for the workers to rescue them. Jack is sure they died down there but he can't make himself ask the question. He can't even force himself to see the hope in Denys's eyes, or Regina's, or Marco's. Let Gwen handle them, let her answer their questions. God knows Ianto doesn't want to.
Ianto doesn't want to be here now. His face is sharp and shadowed. But he's here regardless, a silent supportive presence beside Jack as the cold dirt moves away from this set of graves.
In the Hub, not all the dead came back. Suzie has rotted in her box, Tilda too. Some of Jack's friends died and are dead and will stay dead, and what if he didn't love Cora after all? How many graves would he unearth only to find another corpse?
He approaches her coffin with dread. His breath catches as he hears a woman weeping, and then he can't rip the lid off fast enough, can't scoop her into his arms despite the smell in the casket and the ruin of the fabric. "Cora... "
She's crying, screaming, and he soothes her tears until she manages a shuddering, "John?"
Ianto is behind him, giving instructions to the men conducting this excavation. Jack owns several plots in this cemetery, would have buried Ianto here had Rhiannon not fought tooth and nail for custody of Ianto's remains when the government wanted them destroyed, had he the heart to fight for the body with her instead of leaving.
Cora shakes like a brittle seed pod in a strong wind, shakes like she's got the same fever that took her away from him a year after they wed. Jack holds her and whispers gentle words as he helps her stand for the first time in nearly a century. "It's okay. It's going to be okay. We've got a place for you to rest." He leads her to the pavilion they've set up, with chairs and Owen's annoyed ministrations.
He can hear the machine dig deep into the ground again as he sets her down, as Owen introduces himself and takes her pulse. Jack acts as nurse, fetching what Owen needs, giving Cora small sips of a nourishing broth. Who knows how often she died, choked, starved while waiting for him? She keeps a clutch on Jack's hand when she can, follows his every move with her eyes when he steps away.
Ianto shouts when the next grave is close. Jack kisses Cora's head and hurries over. He does notice when Owen bends in and asks, "What d'you think his name is?"
Owen's not going to be pleased when Cora tells him "John Harper."
The next coffin is simpler, and smaller. Jack's terror is back, and it's only going to get worse. Alive, dead, he'll have to go through this again and again, in churchyards where he knows to dig but also in unmarked areas where the barbed wire used to stretch for miles. Men, boys really, clawing their way up through the dirt of France, of Germany, of Africa. He's barely sketched out his list of names for other continents, old loves whose final resting places he doesn't even know. Tosh is running searches.
Ianto holds his hand and squeezes. Jack oughtn't take his strength that way, but he's grateful.
He hears a sound from inside the coffin, and this is no longer about Jack's pain. He wrenches the lid free. The child inside is six years old, and frightened, tears flowing in great gasping sobs, but Jack is here now.
"It's okay," Jack says, voice breaking. "It's going to be okay." He pets fine dark hair, and lifts Robert into his arms.