Jack woke up, grasping for his breath with a bullet hole and mess of blood on his shirt. At first he didn't know where he was and what had happened, but when he saw the trees above him he suddenly remembered that they were on a job.
He jumped to a sitting position, quickly locating his team. Both Gwen and Nella were looking at something, completely captivated.
Gwen looked at the glowing shadow before her. It started to form a face, a smiling face she loved so much. Then it turned into a memory. A painful memory she saw re-enacting itself right before her eyes. That night when the stroll had become their last. The stroll that had led to her choosing the work over Rhys… The night she let his hand go to run after some stupid alien and never got back to hold it. There were so many things she would have changed about that night if she could.
Tears filled her eyes as she watched the pain on his face when she pulled her hand away from his, telling him she had to go – just like she had told him so many times. And while she had been running, she hadn't even noticed one of the aliens jumping at Rhys. Later they had figured out that the aliens had been after Torchwood, some kind of vendetta. And the only reason that one alien had been there was because of her. She was the reason he had died.
How could she live yet another day, knowing that she was the very reason Rhys wasn't there anymore? The image was getting fainter. She reached her hand to grab it. It didn't matter that it wasn't real. It didn't matter that it was a painful memory. She just didn't want to forget! And she felt that if she let this image go, she would.
Nella lost her balance soon after Gwen had been taken over by her vision. She had looked at the same glowing form and as she'd watched, it had shrunk to only a fraction of its original size. It became a baby, barely few weeks old.
Not being able to tear her eyes away from the being, she stood up and walked to it. She wrapped her arms around it and held it tightly against her chest. Her, she held Lucy tightly against her, looking as she smiled and giggled to her. Tears were falling down Nella's face. She would give anything to save this moment forever.
Jack heard a car's breaks hitting the floor and Mieke ran out of the Torchwood SUV. "Jack! Are you okay?" He yelled as he was running, seeing as Jack was the one closest to him. Jack managed to nod and say that he was fine, he still hadn't recovered fully and hadn't really had time to register what was happening around him.
Fortunately, Mieke was in better state of mind and having made sure that Jack was all right he rushed to his wife's side. "Nella, what's wrong?" He asked worried as she was staring at nothing between her arms with the saddest smile he'd ever seen on her face.
"It's Lucy," she replied, he could hear the lump on her throat. "Who?" He asked her gently as the name didn't say anything to him.
"The baby." She explained, rocking her arms as if to putting a baby to sleep. This time it hit him. He got a heavy feeling on his heart and he wrapped his arms around the trembling woman, trying to give her all the comfort he could. But he also needed to get her out of this state, so he tried to channel all his tenderness to his voice as he whispered to her. "It can't be her. The baby never got to be." He hoped that this would work. But Nella broke out to violent sobs. She wrapped her arms even tighter around the illusion her mind was torturing her with.
"She's here." She insisted, staring at the baby in her arms, never taking her eyes off her. Her baby was here, that was the most beautiful thing in the world. Mieke wouldn't – no; he couldn't take this away from her.
As he watched her, Mieke could feel a lump of his own forming. "Please, honey. Don't leave me alone here. I need you to come back to me. Don't let this pain steal you away from me." He felt awful how he had never understood just how much the miscarriage had wounded Nella. It had been years ago and he had thought they had both more or less gotten over it. But apparently he had been wrong to assume so.
Jack looked at his team as they were helpless, having completely been taken over by their emotions. He made sure, not to look at the glowing being standing where the two women were staring. "Aria, can you tell me what's going on?"
"I'm sorry Jack, but the readings are going off the chart. I can't tell you what that is; it might be an alien, or then it could be something created by the rift." He could hear her typing as if her life depended on it, which it might actually have been like to her. She was very young, barely in her 20's and Torchwood and the team had quickly become pretty much her whole life. When she saw the most important part of her life falling to pieces, it was like it was reaching all the way to her.
"Can you at least do something about Gwen and Nella?" He hated to see the distress on their faces. For some reason the alien had seen it necessary to kill him first, or maybe this spell-like thing was self-defense after being outnumbered.
"I can maybe send some disturbing cross frequencies to mess up with the ones it's sending. Might work." Aria said and Jack could already see her at it in his head. He gave a small smile. She was still very young but in the future she might just as well become as legendary as Toshiko Sato.
Then Jack saw how both of the women hunched to the ground, completely exhausted thanks to the harshness of the emotions they had felt. Mieke laid Nella gently to sit on the grass, rocking her back and forth in his arms similarly to the movement she had done for the baby earlier.
"Do you know if it still works, the spell?" He asked Aria, turning his head towards the being now but keeping his eyes closed. He really didn't fall to it's victim; he had too many memories it could bring back up, some so heavy they could cause his mind to shut down.
"I hope so, but I can't know for sure. The numbers are much lower now, but they're still there," the reply came quietly. It was all she could do for him, so he decided to take what he was offered. When he opened his eyes, Ianto Jones was standing there before him, lips in the slightest curve to bring a sentimental smile to his face. Jack's breath hitched at the sight, this creature really knew which buttons to push.
"Jack," Ianto spoke softly. He just stared at the image. "You know, Jack. If I just hadn't been there that day… There wasn't really any need for me to come with you." Ianto shrugged a shoulder and gave him a look that told Jack that Ianto thought it had been silly of him to think he'd be of any use for Jack there. He shook his head. "I needed you there, I really did." Jack said quietly, leaning closer to him. "Imagine," Ianto spoke. "There's so much we could have done, I don't think we crossed even half of the list." He chuckled and Jack forced himself to swallow before he'd feel like he'd choke.
This was just the creature messing with him, Jack reminded himself. He pulled his gun out. Hurt crossed Ianto's face quickly before it returned to his usual poker face, it was so quick that if Jack hadn't gotten so good at reading small changes in Ianto's face, he would have missed it. "I always imagine what life would be, if you were here with me." Ianto spoke still, keeping his tone light as if it didn't bother him that Jack was aiming his revolver at his face. "I always hope that there would be time when you came here, and we would have the rest of forever together. But I know it will never happen. Because, Jack; you never die." Ianto gave him a steady look, his eyes full of loneliness and sorrow. Jack forced his eyes shut, then, when he opened them again he forced his finger around the trigger to curl and watched as the bullet went through Ianto's head. As the picture disappeared and the creature fell to the ground, dead as stone, there was one solitary tear that fell down Jack's face.
During that night, Jack went to get some flowers from a florist that had thought it would be a good idea to keep his store open around the clock, and too them to the park he'd first met Ianto. The very tree he had been wrestling with the weevil when Ianto had arrived out of nowhere. The tree had become the symbol of Ianto's grave to him. The body, of course, was still inside Torchwood, but he came here every time he wanted to remember Ianto.
He set the flowers next to it, and squat there, looking at them for a while. The pain of losing Ianto still hadn't disappeared, and the happenings of that night had just brought their memories together back to him even stronger. "Sorry, I only have these lousy roses. There's not much to choose from at this time." He chuckled and brushed the petals with his finger. After a long silence, he looked up at the tree. "Was it true, Ianto?" He asked the tree. "Are you waiting for me, knowing I'm never going to come?" He knew that there was nothing after death, but he couldn't help but thinking that part of what he had seen that day was true. Ianto was still so real to him, like he was constantly there with him.
He slid his hand down the tree's rumpled trunk, his mind flying miles away. He really felt like Ianto was there, just outside his reach; and he wanted to hold him so bad. To whisper his feelings to his ear and really tell him that he did love him and had just been too afraid to say those words because at the moment they had sounded too final. And in the end, he couldn't say them because they sounded too much like a goodbye.
Ianto had told him today how there had been no reason for him to be there in the Thames house with him, but that wasn't true. Jack had needed Ianto next to him during all that happened those days. He had needed to keep at least one of the things most important to him as close as he could.
Now he just felt like he couldn't live with what that selfishness had brought him to.