A/N: A little epilogue. Many, many thanks to all who have commented or followed this story - sorry I couldn't reply to all comments individually, but I've been in charge of getting an A level paper marked over the past month and a bit, which has kept me busy, that and teach full time!
"Did it work then?"
"What? What? Yes – yes of course it worked."
"But it didn't last time, or the time before that."
"As soon as you returned his vortex manipulator to him I knew it would work… eventually. I told you I'm brilliant."
"How do you know he won't undo it?"
"I programmed in a fail safe – as soon as equilibrium in the vortex was restored the manipulator short circuits."
"So he's stuck there? He can't be - that would make two of him!"
"No, no, no – it was set to return to one final destination."
"That sounds awfully like you've stranded him – again."
"He makes friends fast – he'll be fine."
"Remind me why you had to do this again? After all this time refusing to have anything to do with him."
"Have you any idea of the damage that one homicidal, guilt-ridden, death-proof man running rampage across the galaxy, joining one mercenary army after another, can accomplish? I could hardly stand by and let that happen, could I?"
"But you did."
"And then I undid."
"Semantics. People got killed – what happened to them?"
"Didn't happen. You see time isn't linear-"
"I know, it's wibbly wobbly, yes?"
"But if he's changed what happened in his past, surely he won't be in the right place to go back and change it – so it won't happen. It can't work!"
"Yes it will. He's created a loop in time for himself – no matter what path he takes he'll always return to Rome for those few days."
"Because he can."
"You are so bloody smug sometimes – make that most of the time."
"I can't help it if I'm brilliant."
"What about him then?"
"He's like the lettering through a stick of seaside rock – however much it gets stretched and distorted, he's still there, running all the way through it. Might get a bit knocked about, but he's tough, he'll survive anything."
"I don't believe I'm hearing this! Isn't it bad enough that he never dies and keeps losing everyone he ever loves? Don't you care about him at all, Doctor?"
There was a pause – an awkward silence that heralded a sigh and a softly spoken confession.
"More than he'll ever know. But not a word about that when we pick him up – got it?"
A/N 2 - yes, this is deliberately ambiguous ... but there's hope there, too.
I have a few more stories ready to edit and post ... the next one is called 'Bad Seed', a malevolent plant and corrupt policemen feature, as does angst, h/c and Jack & Ianto ... it follows on from Fragmented, whereas this fic stands alone. Let me know if you want me to post it ;-)