Epilogue


Technically, Martha lost her registration a year ago, due to that unfortunate run-in with the Judoon. The medicine she practises is off-the-cuff, strictly first aid and emergency treatment only. The lack of paperwork doesn't mean she's not still good at it. Ianto's alive when they reach the hospital, and they all wait outside during his surgery, unable to go in, to ask.

Jack spends the time on the phone with Alice. There's lots of shouting. There are some tears. Steven is still wearing Martha's key, one perception filter cancelling out the other like a red glass over a hidden message that was in plain sight all the time. He talks to his mum. There are more tears. Jack never, ever takes a hand off Steven, his shoulder, his hand, his arm, like he doesn't want to let go, and there isn't one person in the room to blame him.

These slow hours are like living inside glass, inside a crystal diorama of a life: here they are forever, frozen in their worry, unravelling explanations that don't make sense to anyone who hasn't seen the end of the universe, clinging to bodies, hands, friends. Waiting.

The crystal cracks with a new sound like a bell, the ring of Martha's mobile phone.

The voice on the other end is new, and young, and she still loves him and always will, as he says, "Amy tells me there's been a small problem?"


His eyes peep open, but there's too much light. He closes them again.

"Hey, no sleeping on the job," he hears in a stern tone, and his eyes open again. Jack is there, looking at him. Seeing him. Smiling, with worry gracing his features, and then Ianto has his own worries back.

A dry, dusty throat strangles him as he grinds out, "Where's – " and Steven is piling into his side, the uninjured side where he wasn't shot but does have an IV line, and it doesn't matter. Steven's all right, the TARDIS key safely around his neck. Ianto's hand comes up, painfully, to his own neck. He feels another key.

Jack sits down beside him, holding his hand. Around him, Ianto can see things more clearly now. Flowers cover every flat surface. As he heals, more will arrive and he will read the cards over and over until they are dog-eared in his hands. He will keep the cards for as long as he lives, these small reminders with his real name written down in ink: from Gwen, from Martha and Mickey, from Amy and her husband, from Richard, even from Sally (she has taken her old name back, it suits her best, Ianto thinks) and the others from Amy's Friends. There's an enormous bouquet from Alice. Well-wishes and good thoughts, and gratitude from those who are getting a visit from the man in the blue box, Ianto will treasure each one. This is the last legacy of the crack, the last gift of the TARDIS explosion. Amy dreamed the universe back, and now there are a thousand homecomings waiting to happen.

Ianto hugs Steven close to him, and his smile matches the one he sees on Jack's face.

Nine-hundred ninety-eight to go.


The End


AN: As always, my three favorite words are: "I liked this."