It was horrible, beyond horrible and the ramifications of the horror had yet to be fully appreciated.
Torchwood had received a request for assistance from UNIT to deal with what was described as 'a significant alien incursion, possible precursor to invasion'. However, by the time the team had arrived at Cardiff Castle, the grounds were littered with dozens of small alien corpses and the UNIT squad were busy congratulating themselves on a job well done. When the commanding officer had showed Jack the weapon that one of the aliens had produced, initiating the slaughter, Jack had paled. From the sidelines, Gwen, Owen and Tosh had watched aghast as Jack had spoken low and viciously to the officer, pulled out his Webley and shot the man twice in the hip and once in the knee. He had then turned on his heel and headed back to the SUV shooting and wounding any solider that made an attempt to stop him. As he stormed past the team he growled 'we are leaving – NOW' not even waiting to see if they would follow.
Hurrying after Jack, Tosh and Owen exchanged glances. They had seen Jack like this only once before, when a slaver ship had crashed in Bute Park. The ship's captain had diverted life support to the crew quarters and all of the slaves had died, a considerable number of them had been children. Jack had helped the captain and crew repair the ship but had also inserted a vial of a flesh eating virus into the air system, timed to release once the ship had left the earth's atmosphere. Tosh and Owen could still see Jack, sitting alone in his office, grim faced and tight lipped, as he had listened to the desperate pleas and dying screams of the slavers. They knew not to antagonise Jack when he looked like this. Gwen, of course, had no such compunction
'Jack!' she ran after him and grabbed his shoulder, forcing him to stop and face her 'What the fuck?'
Jack shrugged himself free, 'leaving, now'
Gwen grabbed hold of him again and persisted, 'Jack like them or loath them UNIT are on our side. We are here to protect the people of this planet, not randomly shoot them'
Jack stopped and looked at Gwen's hand grasping his sleeve. 'Leaving, now' he repeated, 'you can come with me and maybe keep your job or I can shoot you like I shot them and not lose any sleep about it'
Gwen gasped, 'you wouldn't'
Tosh and Owen, seeing that Jack already had his Webley in his hand, scooped Gwen up, almost frog marched her back to the SUV and bundled her inside.
Jack was driving furiously back to the hub, Tosh and Owen in the back of the vehicle holding hands and communicating via looks and raised eye brows. They hoped that Gwen had enough sense to see how bone deep furious and upset Jack was and to leave him alone. No chance thought Owen as Gwen started on Jack again.
'Jack talk to me' she demanded, 'what where you thinking? UNIT will be down on us like a ton of bricks over this and, honest to god, I wouldn't blame them. You were completely out of order!'
Jack slammed on the brakes and turned to face Gwen. 'They showed me the "weapon" that kicked off that blood bath' he snarled at her, 'that fuckwit officer didn't even look at it. It wasn't a weapon; it was an authorisation pod from UNIT command in Geneva for them to be there.' A tear slid down his cheek, 'It was a school trip Gwen! 50 kids and 4 teachers from the Gren'ai collaborative, who had been given permission to visit Cardiff Castle at two in the morning because it is one of the wonders of the galaxy, were slaughtered because of some trigger happy officer who wanted to make a name for himself. Well, he's got a name now – he will be known throughout the galaxy as the man who butchered a bunch of innocent school kids and their teachers, I'll make sure of that.
'Oh' said Gwen quietly
Then, despite the combined mental opposition of both Tosh and Owen, Gwen continued, 'I still think you over reacted; you haven't been yourself since Ianto…'
Jack interrupted, 'Ianto is gone. He won't be back and don't you dare imply that my personal life affects my ability to do my job.'
'I'm just saying,' persisted Gwen, 'You have been a little bit..erm..'
Jack's jaw tensed, 'Gwen, I am begging you to stop talking! I am so fucking close to shooting you right now' he ground out
Gwen scowled, 'Then just drop me here' she said, fumbling at the door handle, 'I'll get Rhys to come get me'
'No' said Jack, 'I have something to do at the Hub and it will take all three of you'
Tosh and Owen exchanged worried glances and Gwen settled down into a sulk.
When they got back to the Hub, Jack stormed off to his office. 'Team meeting in the boardroom in an hour' he said as he slammed the door behind him.
Gwen turned to face the other members of the team but Owen got in before she even opened her mouth
'Bloody hell, Cooper, what were you thinking?'
'What?' said Gwen, 'We can't let him get away with that sort of behaviour. He was totally out of control'
'It was a bunch of school kids, Gwen, a massacre' yelled Owen
'All I'm saying,' pointed out Gwen, 'is that he would never have over reacted like this if Ianto...'
'ENOUGH' shouted Tosh, 'Gwen, a big part of the reason we lost Ianto was because you took your eye off the ball and Owen and I have been covering your sorry arse for you ever since. If Jack is out of control, a lot of it is down to you. So I suggest you remember that, act like you are part of this team, cut Jack some slack and SHUT THE FUCK UP!'
Gwen and Owen looked at her in astonishment and both sat meekly and silently down upon the sofa
Tosh surveyed them both with satisfaction, 'Well alright then'
It was an hour and a quarter later when Jack shot out of his office yelling,' Boardroom'
Gwen, Owen and Tosh filed in and seated themselves around the table, leaving as always the chair on Jack's right vacant as they had since Ianto had been lost to them. Jack stood to attention at the head of the table and addressed himself to Tosh.
'Dr Toshiko Sato, Torchwood operative TW191171/Sato. Following my recent conversation with UNIT Geneva and Her Majesty recorded under date/time stamp Harkness 07/10/05, 15.08, I formally relinquish leadership and control of Torchwood 3 to you, effective immediately. This transfer of leadership to be officially witnessed by Dr Own Harper, Torchwood operative TW097401/Harper and Gwen Cooper TW008878/Cooper.
A cacophony broke out,
'Bloody hell, Captain where has this come from?'
'Jack, you can't, I can't'
Jack looked at Tosh, 'I have, you can. You have the seniority, you have the expertise, you have the skills and now you have command'
Tosh smiled at him uncertainly 'and you, Jack. I'll have you here for a transition period, yes?'
Jack shook his head, 'I have resigned from Torchwood as from today.' He said, 'This morning's debacle did it for me. There is nothing for me here anymore'
Gwen looked at Jack with her big eyes, 'Nothing?' she asked softly.
'No' said Jack firmly, 'Without Ianto, there is absolutely nothing to keep me here'
Owen tried, unsuccessfully to hide his smirk from Gwen.
It took nearly another hour before Jack finally managed to escape from the team and the Hub. He handed everything over to Tosh and succeeded in circumventing all of Gwen's attempts to get him alone. Owen had surprised him by simply giving him a squeeze on the shoulder and a gruff, 'take care of yourself, Captain,' before leaving the Hub in quite a hurry. He loaded the few possessions he wanted to take with him into the boot of the Mercedes SLK that only Ianto had known about and took one last look around his office. Tosh stood in the doorway,
'Jack, are you sure about this?'
Jack nodded, 'I loved the humanity of this planet' he said, sadly 'all the optimism and curiosity. I knew about the cruelty, none better...' Tosh nodded, she knew what Torchwood had done to Jack in the past, 'but, oh I don't know, there was always this compassion, the kindness of strangers, to balance that. But what I saw today made me realise that the cruelty and selfishness is never gone, it's just hidden. The UNIT guys, Gwen trying, oh so subtly, to move herself into my bed, all the shit we see…'
Tosh put a gentle hand on his arm, 'Jack, is some of this about Ianto?'
Jack gave a sigh, 'yeah, I guess so. He could always show me the hope, make me see the good. Watching him in the field, he often was the kind stranger. He made me a better man; he made me want to be a better man. This…' he waved a vague arm towards the rest of the hub, 'this is all so much harder without him'
Tosh pulled Jack close and planted a chaste and gentle kiss on his lips, 'I know' she whispered, 'I miss him too. Please, try to be happy Jack.'
Jack gave a watery smile, 'not sure I know how any more' he said, 'but I will try, I promise'
It was getting dark as Jack sped away from Cardiff and that coupled with the light drizzle and the pricking of tears behind Jack's eye lids meant he almost missed noticing the young man who ran across the road in front of him to climb over the safety barrier of the A4232 as it crossed over the River Taff.
Jack slammed on the brakes and pulled the Mercedes as close to the edge of the road as he could. Jumping out of the car he ran over to a spot close but not too close to where the young man was clinging and casually leant on the rail, looking out over the bay.
' hey buddy' he said, 'whatcha doing'
'Charming' smiled Jack, 'Here I am just trying to be friendly and that's the response I get'
'I'm sorry' said the young man, 'that was incredibly rude of me. Fuck off, please'
Jack couldn't help himself, he laughed. 'C'mon' he said 'I've had a really, really shitty day, shitty month actually and you are the first person to have made me laugh for a long time. For that reason alone I think you should re-consider what you are about to do'
The young man turned to face him and Jack's breathing hitched, gods he's so gorgeous, he thought.
'Why do you care?' he asked Jack, 'you don't know anything about me'
'Not true' replied Jack, 'I know you look really hot in the tee-shirt even though I can tell you are freezing your fantastic arse off.'
'Yeah, well' said the young man, 'wasn't really planning on standing here for as long as I have'
Jack laughed again, 'what's your name?'
The young man sighed heavily, 'look, it's too late, you are too late. I don't want you as a friend' he mumbled, 'so why don't you just leave me alone'
'OK, then I'll just call you Evan.'
So, Evan what brings you here tonight?'
Evan huffed an irritated sigh, 'Look, if I tell you will you then fuck off?'
'Maybe' said Jack edging a little closer.
'Ok, then' said Evan, 'I've been really ill, had some kind of encephalitis. It wiped some of my medium term memory. Basically I've lost the last three years. I remember my childhood, which was shitty. I know I had a girl friend but she died. But... after that everything is a blank. Apparently I work for the City Council in the archives but I don't remember applying for the job or any of my colleagues. I have no family. Thing is, I know I had someone fantastically special after my girlfriend but I can't remember who he was' Jack raised an eyebrow at the pronoun and also at the fact that Evan didn't seems to realise what he had revealed. The young man continued, ' No-one visited me in the hospital at all so I clearly haven't got anyone now which means we must have been over before I got sick. I don't remember it though; I may have walked past him in the street a hundred times and not recognised him. Thing is, even though we obviously were over, I still remember how much I loved him. I still do love him, I can't move on, don't want anyone else. It makes me feel so useless and lonely. What's the point of trying to struggle on and pretend everything is fine when it isn't; no-one needs me or cares about me.'
Jack placed a cautious hand on Evan's shoulder, 'I do understand' he said softly, 'I've lost someone recently too. He was brilliant and, gods, he loved me, he loved me so much. I loved him too but I was too scared to let him know. In my arrogance I thought I had loads of time, all the time in the world to tell him how I felt and then I lost him in a stupid incident and he never knew how much he meant to me, how special he was. Now he's gone, I have no-one to talk to about him and I feel like I'm half a man without him.'
Evan looked into Jack's face, 'You do understand' he whispered and he shivered violently.
'May be I could tell you about him?' Jack suggested tentatively, 'I mean that CCTV up there will have already recorded us together so if you jump now I'll be complicit, a prime suspect. You wouldn't be that unkind would you?'
Evan gave a small smile; Jack smiled back, 'C'mon' he said, 'I'll buy you a coffee.
Evan rolled his eyes and clambered back over the safety rail to stand next to Jack on the road. Without thought Jack pulled the young man into the warmth of his coat and encircled him in his arms. He heart surged as Evan wrapped his arms around him and pressed close to him. Jack rested his chin on the young man's head 'We seem to fit' he said.
Reluctantly Jack released the young man and walked toward the Merc, he looked back 'coming?' he asked.
Evan chuckled, 'enjoying the view' he said, 'I really like that coat'
Jack pulled into the first decent hotel he came to. Next to him, Evan raised a quizzical eyebrow,
'I'm not sure I'm really up for a long drive tonight and you are borderline hypothermic' said Jack, 'I'm thinking a warm bath would be good. Don't worry, no funny stuff, you can have the bed, I'll take the sofa'
Evan blushed, 'I can't pay my share, I have nothing' he said 'I gave all my stuff away'
'Not a problem, I have plenty of cash and I reckon my clothes will fit you. Go have that bath and I'll order us some food.' said Jack
With an uncertain smile, Evan headed toward the bathroom.
Jack had just taken delivery of pizzas and a large jug of coffee. He poured a mug and, tapping on the door, entered the bathroom, 'Thought you might want this now' he began his voice failing him as Evan turned to face him. Jack swallowed heavily as he took in the pale skin and slim torso, the sprinkling of dark hair on the chest and the thick cluster of curls around an impressively thick cock. He was staring, he realised, ' sorry' he said, 'sorry I thought you were still in the bath, I'll just...' he turned to leave, he really didn't want Evan to feel obligated to have sex with him just because he had tried to save him, he wanted this broken young man to believe in the kindness of strangers.
Jack turned to find Evan close to him. Evan moved towards him reaching out to trace Jack's mouth before brushing a kiss across his lips,
The young man smiled 'has anyone ever told you that you smell fucking gorgeous' he said running his mouth over the sensitive skin of Jack's throat making him moan. Jack was vaguely aware of long fingers fumbling with the button on his trousers and easing down the zip. Almost without conscious thought, Jack's hand had wrapped itself around Evan's cock and was slowly stroking him. A soft grasp matched him stroke for stroke, until looking into each other's eyes and gasping they spilled over each other hands and melted into a passionate kiss.
Jack was looking a little shell shocked; he had forgotten what it could be like. Since Ianto's accident, Jack sexual encounters had been brief and meaningless but this young man was...something else entirely.
Evan smiled at Jack, 'You know what' he laughed, 'I am starving, has the food arrived?'
Jack grinned and, taking his hand, pulled him back into the bedroom.
They had eaten everything that Jack had ordered and most of the overpriced chocolate from the mini-bar. Somewhere along the way Jack had ended up as naked as Evan. Now they lay on the bed, Evan's head resting on Jack's shoulder and his hand softly stroking the skin of Jack's stomach.
'I don't even know your name' said the young man.
Jack gifted a tender kiss to his forehead, 'I don't know yours' he replied.
A tiny grin, 'you named me, to you I'm Evan'
'Ok then, it's only fair you give me a name' smiled Jack
Evan rolled on top of Jack and studied him carefully, 'You look like a...Jack. Yeah, I'll call you Jack, is that OK?'
Jack rolled them both so that Evan was underneath him once more, he nuzzled into the young man's neck, he didn't want him to see the look on his face, 'more than OK' he whispered.
He could feel Evan's cock, hardening against his own and thrust gently, gasping as Evan bit down on his shoulder. The young man was trembling in his arms and Jack was struck with a sudden attack of conscience, 'Hey' he said quietly, 'This is not part of you getting the room. If you don't want to, then it's OK. Tell me and I'll stop'
With a cat like twist, Evan turned them, grasped Jack's hands and pushed them up over his head. He pulled Jack into a bruising and dominant kiss, before sliding down his body. Evan paused briefly to suck the tip of Jack's weeping cock into his mouth before pushing on Jack's inner thigh. Helpfully Jack spread his legs wide and canted his hips, letting out a loud moan as Evan pushed his tongue deep into his ass. The tongue was soon joined by a finger probing and curling around Jack's prostate. Jack thought he would probably come without Evan even touching his cock. Suddenly Evan withdrew, looked up at Jack from under his lashes and growled, 'please tell me you have lube'
'Right hand pants pocket' gasped Jack and his lust addled brain registered no time between him saying those word and Evan being back on the bed and teasingly pushing his hot, hard erection into Jack. Neither man moved, they just locked eyes, panting and needy until finally Jack whimpered 'please' and Evan pulled back with glacial slowness. 'Please' said Jack in a stronger voice and Evan began driving hard into him, hitting his prostate with every thrust. Hooking his hands under Jack's shoulders he pulled their sweating bodies close, so that Jack's cock was trapped between them and subject to an incredible heat and friction. Jack tangled his fingers in the young man's hair pulling him into a kiss that only broke as they came almost simultaneously screaming wordlessly into each other's skin.
Sunlight was streaming into the room when Jack awoke, he smiled, that must have been the longest he had slept since he had last slept in Ianto's arms. He sat up and looked at Evan who was sprawled beside him, one leg hanging off the side of the bed, one arm thrown possessively across Jack's hips. A blue eye looked up at him,
'Are you watching me sleep?'
Jack's heart ached but he managed a smile, 'you are so cute when you sleep' he said
Evan gave a disgruntled huff, then sighed heavily
'What?' asked Jack
Evan scrambled up to sit next to him, curling into his side, 'well' he said sadly, 'last night was, amazing, brilliant, incredible...I don't have enough words but...'
Jack felt a cold tendril of fear curl inside him, 'but what?'
'What now' asked the young man seriously, 'You leave, I keep my appointment with Cardiff bay? We don't even know each other's real names, never mind if this thing between us is anything'
Jack pulled him closer, 'felt like something to me' he whispered, 'felt familiar, felt like forever'
Evan looked at him fearfully but nodded slowly, 'yeah' he murmured, 'I felt that too, it was like it was with him'
They sat quietly for a moment or two, then - 'If you could do anything at all' asked Jack suddenly, 'what would it be'
Evan blinked at the apparent non sequitur , 'Travel for a bit' he said, 'I've never really been out of Wales except for when I lived in London, then come back and open a coffee shop in a university town' Jack raised a quizzical eyebrow as Evan continued enthusiastically, ' It would only sell brilliant coffee and I'd open until really late for students with essays and stuff until three in the morning or something like that, I'd have free wi-fi, debates, poetry readings' he looked at Jack's face, 'don't laugh at me'
'I'm sorry' Jack looked penitent, 'I'm not laughing at you, it's just, well you've put a lot of thought into it haven't you?'
Evan blushed and drawing his knees up to his chest, wrapped his arms around himself, 'I've never told anyone else' he said.
Jack swallowed the lump in his throat, 'thank you for trusting me' he said
'Doesn't matter' mumbled Evan, 'In an hour or so you will be gone and so will I'
Gently Jack pulled the young man into his arms again, 'Listen' he said, 'if you think I'm walking away from you, you could not be more mistaken. I have no plans, no goals and no destination in mind so it would be a kindness if you would let be share yours.' Evan opened his mouth, 'No' said Jack, 'hear me out. I think last night showed that we could have something really special if we are both prepared to take a chance. So let's do it, let's travel together, see how things go and in 12 months, if we are still together we'll come back and open your coffee shop in...'
'Cambridge' said Evan, 'I've always liked the sound of Cambridge'
Jack smiled, his heart was singing; he could not believe that he was getting this chance, that the universe could be this generous to him, ' OK then,' he said, ' What do you think, is it a deal?'
The young man looked into Jack's face, then stroked his cheek with his fingers, 'yes please' he said softly and kissed Jack as if his life depended upon it'
Jack felt a huge grin spread across his face and the lump of ice that had seemed to be lodged in his belly since he had first lost Ianto melted away completely. 'I can't keep calling you Evan, so I guess introductions are in order' he said. He took a deep breath stuck out his hand, 'Cap'n Jack Harkness, and you are...?' (the litany in his head was, say it, say it, remember this from before and say it )
The young man, smiled, took Jack's hand and caressed it with his thumb, 'Jones' he said, 'Ianto Jones'
'Good to meet you, Jones, Ianto Jones'
It was wonderful, it was beyond wonder and the possibilities of the wonder were waiting to be fully appreciated