Gwen stood in between the two silent men, feeling confused and wondering why things had changed so much for her.
It had been a week now since she had solved the case that Ianto had claimed wasn’t a case, and had located the Dogon sixth eye which now resided in the Torchwood Hub where it could be studied and benefit the institute. During that week, she had found that both Jack and Owen had grown increasingly distant from her. Ianto had always been aloof from her, believing himself more important than her, and Tosh had never really started talking to her again anyway, after having been found reading everyone’s minds with that pendant Mary had given her. Gwen was beginning to feel on the outer amongst the team, and she couldn’t understand why.
The entire time she had been with Torchwood, both Jack and Owen, to a lesser extent, had gone out of their way to make her feel both welcome and wanted. Jack had flirted with her since day one – granted, he flirted with absolutely everyone – but his flirting with her had always seemed so much more genuine, so much more real, than his flirting with anyone else. Even his flirting with Ianto when he first started hadn’t ever seemed as intense as his flirting with her.
And that was another thing she didn’t understand. Jack and Ianto. She didn’t understand what Jack saw in him and she couldn’t see how a relationship between those two could possibly work. Jack was so outgoing and gregarious; and while he seemed to have many secrets, he was still approachable and nearly everyone, except for those in authority, seemed to like him. But Ianto seemed to her to be the complete opposite. He was quiet, didn’t join in with a lot of the team conversations and was always so formal and business-like. After all, he was the only one in Torchwood who wore a suit to work – what was with that?
Since Ianto had been around, Jack had scaled down his public flirting with her considerably, and she missed that special thrill she felt every time he flirted with her. She supposed that since Jack was now sleeping with the boss, he would probably think that he had to play it safe to not get in trouble with Ianto. But that didn’t mean she had to like it.
She looked over at Owen who was standing on her left wearing a large backpack. He was being just as silent and impenetrable as Jack.
She and Owen had had a love-hate relationship from the start. Whether they were arguing with each other or were having the wildest sex imaginable, every interaction they had with each other had been emotion-charged and full of drama. But this week, as everything seemed to change for her, their interactions were mostly low key and distanced from each other. She hadn’t been to Owen’s house all week now and, since his outburst in the back seat of the SUV, he had barely even spoken to her. Not even to argue.
The sound of an aircraft descending from the clouds drew her attention back to the present, and she turned back to the front and joined Jack and Owen in watching the plane land.
Once the ‘Sky Gypsy’ had landed, the introductions made and Jack had found out where the three passengers had come from, he told Gwen to call for a taxi to take them back to the Hub. Jack knew the three people from the fifties would have a fair amount of culture shock, and he didn’t want to overload them with all the technology in the SUV. A ride in a far less technical taxi would be much easier on them and he sent Gwen with them as he thought they would be more comfortable with her than with Owen.
While they were waiting for the taxi to arrive, Jack arranged for the plane to be moved to an empty hangar. As the taxi left, Owen scanned all their luggage, which had been packed into the SUV, to make sure it did all originate from the fifties and there wasn’t anything alien hidden inside, then he and Jack left in the SUV. Jack called through to Tosh on the way back to give her all the details he had on the three people and the plane. It would be up to him now to decide what to do with them.
John Ellis. Emma Louise Cowell. Diane Holmes. They were the names of the three people who now stood in the centre of the Hub, lost and confused, none of them quite yet believing that they had travelled fifty years in half an hour.
After Owen had given them all a quick medical to make sure they were all right after their time jump, they were brought into the boardroom. Jack tried to explain about transcendental portals and how the three of them had arrived in Cardiff at the time they had, but none of it made any sense to the three travellers. Their minds were still reeling from what they had seen so far, and nothing that Jack was saying was making any sense. Doors in time and space were so far out of their experiences that they simply couldn’t comprehend any of it.
The looks of despair on the three travellers faces when they were told there was no way back made all four of the Torchwood agents feel their pain.
Jack wished desperately that Ianto was there to tell him what to do, but he had been called away the day before by the committee for something relating to the twelve month anniversary of the Canary Wharf battle and neither of them knew when he would be back. Jack didn’t even know where he was, although he supposed he couldn’t be too far away, not without setting off the tracker.
Using the information that Tosh had been able to dig up so far, Jack, Gwen and Owen paired off with John, Emma and Diane to let them know what had happened with the family members they had left behind or to ask them more questions to help fill in the gaps. Jack then took John over to Tosh and had her look up details of his son, Alan. John was the only one of the three who had left children behind.
Tosh eventually found accommodation for the three of them and she remained at the Hub with Owen while Jack and Gwen took them to the motel.
As Jack stood there in the motel room, watching John unpack his belongings, it struck him how similar the two of them were. If they had been from the same point in time, they might have been quite good friends. Gwen didn’t have quite the same connection with Emma but as they talked together, while Diane was elsewhere, she began to get a picture of how truly young and alone Emma was. Emma was not used to living independently and Gwen wondered how she would get along with the more liberated Diane.
When he got back to the Hub, Jack tried to call Ianto but was unable to get through. After listening to Ianto’s voice mail message, he decided not to leave a message. He went down into his bunker and lay on the bed instead. He stayed there all night, unable to sleep, trying to think things through. In the morning, Jack found he was actually tired from not having slept at all. Since he and Ianto had started spending every night together, Jack had found he had been sleeping more and more consistently, even though he didn’t need to sleep. That habit had clearly been having an affect; he hadn’t felt this tired in quite a while.
Somewhere in Cardiff, Ianto was feeling in quite a similar state. While he had fallen asleep briefly at some stage during the night, his sleep had been disturbed by many nightmares and he kept waking up and reaching out for Jack, only to find himself on his own. He had even turned his phone on at one stage to call Jack, despite the committee warning him to leave it switched off at all times, but he couldn’t get any reception.
He had no idea where he was, but, like Jack, he reasoned that he couldn’t be too far away from the Hub, given there hadn’t been any signs of the tracker being activated.
He had been summoned by the committee to meet someone up on the Plass the day before, to be taken to a meeting to discuss the tribute that had been performed for the anniversary of the battle of Canary Wharf, an event that Ianto had failed to attend a couple of months ago. Ianto wasn’t sure how he could have attended, given that he had been told quite firmly that Jack was not welcome to attend and had to stay in Cardiff.
When he was taken to this unknown location, he had been placed in the back of a van with the windows covered up so he couldn’t see where they went. He quickly found out that the reason he was there had absolutely nothing to do with Canary Wharf.
As soon as he arrived, he had been escorted to his room and locked in. The only time the door had opened again was when someone had brought him his evening meal. At least it was a comfortable room, complete with a luxurious ensuite, and the food supplied wasn’t that bad either.
The next morning found him sitting at a large table, across from the two committee members that he had come to particularly loathe ever since his transfer to Cardiff had been on the cards. The two of them were looking at Ianto like he was the most distasteful thing they had ever seen. It was taking all of Ianto’s self-control not to glare back at them.
“You were supposed to be taking strict control of that abomination,” one of them declared.
Ianto had taken to calling them Tweedle-dum and Tweedle-dee to himself; the one who had spoken was Tweedle-dum. He hoped desperately they couldn’t read minds.
“I have been watching him,” Ianto replied carefully. Could they be referring to Lisa, he wondered. Jack had still not told him anything about the committee’s involvement, so as far as Ianto knew, the committee shouldn’t know anything about it. “Has he done something wrong?”
“Oh really? Watching him?” Dum sneered. “I bet you were doing a lot of ‘watching’ him when you were fucking him!”
Ianto’s blood ran cold. How could they possibly know that?
Dee saw his reaction and laughed nastily. “Oh yes, we know all about you and that freak. Quite frankly, I would have thought you would have better taste. I hope you sterilise yourself thoroughly afterwards, god knows where that promiscuous freak has been!”
Ianto gripped the edge of the table, so tightly that his knuckles turned white, to prevent himself from launching himself at them. He doubted he would get out of there in one piece if he did anything stupid like that.
Dum stood up and walked over to Ianto. “You’re not the first one to fall for his wiles. There’s a long list of Torchwood directors and agents the freak has been known to have sex with. And you certainly won’t be the last.” He threw a file on the table in front of Ianto. “Here, have something we must have accidentally forgotten to include in the original file we gave you.”
Ianto started to reach out for the file, but hesitated when he remembered what had happened the last time he had reached out for a file while near these two. Dum laughed at him and deliberately stepped back from the table and walked back to his seat. Ianto picked up the file and looked at the label: “MORETTI, Lucia; CARTER, Alice; CARTER, Steven.”
He started reading through the file and looked up at the committee members in shock when he realised what – or whom – the file was about.
“Yes, that’s right. Your beloved pet freak has a daughter nearly twice your age,” said Dum.
“Bet he never told you that! Or about how we had to sneak Lucia out of Torchwood and into a new life because she was so scared of what having that freak in their daughter’s life could do!” Dee sneered.
Ianto sighed silently to himself. They were right; Jack hadn’t told him about having a daughter or grandson. He knew that Jack couldn’t possibly tell him everything about himself – he had lived too long for that – but still, Ianto thought, having a living daughter and grandson would surely count amongst the things that Jack would have shared with his partner or lover or whatever it was they were to each other. He found he was quite disappointed that Jack hadn’t felt able to confide in him.
“Guess you’re not that special to him after all!” Dum asked, having realised that Ianto really hadn’t known about Alice and Steven.
The committee members stood up. They had given Ianto the information their leader had wanted passed on; it was now time to let Ianto stew over it for a while.
“We’ll be back tomorrow morning. You should return to your room,” instructed Dum.
“What am I supposed to do shut up in there all day?”
“To be honest, neither of us cares.” Dee stated. He pointed at the file and smirked. “You can take that with you and read it again.” A night alone, with only that file for entertainment, should be enough to make him doubt his place with the freak, they had decided earlier.
Ianto picked up the file reluctantly. He didn’t really want to examine the contents of it too carefully but, as he was escorted back to his room, he figured he didn’t exactly have a choice.
Jack’s lack of sleep, and resulting tiredness, manifested itself in a slight lack of judgement when he instructed Toshiko to create new identities for the three travellers. He had changed his own name, changed his entire life, so many times in the past, that it didn’t even occur to him how off-putting it would be for the three travellers. They had lost everything else in their lives, and losing their names as well was just too much for them, for John Ellis especially.
John was now in his forties, and had lived a life time: he had been married, he had a son, he had his own business and it was his name – his son’s name – that was above his shop. Not the name of some non-existent person called David Ward. Diane seemed to silently agree; it was only Emma who didn’t seem put out by the possibility of having a new name. Maybe that was only the novelty of having the same name as a famous film star.
After calming John down, and agreeing to let them keep their names, Jack sent them out with Gwen to do some grocery shopping. Tosh gave them recommendations on how to divide their money up and sent them on their way.
The shopping trip passed without too many dramas, and while she had been initially put out that she had been sent to do babysitting for grocery shopping, Gwen was soon taken in by the reactions of the three travellers to everything they saw. Seeing things through their eyes, and seeing the delight in what she would consider the simple things, like a bunch of bananas or an entire aisle of confectionery, started Gwen thinking that just maybe some of the priorities in her life at the moment needed slight readjusting. She would have to do some serious thinking.
On their way back to the motel, John asked if he could be dropped off at the Millennium Stadium. Gwen didn’t think anything of it and was happy to oblige. She was a bit annoyed when they got back to the motel and realised it meant they would have put his shopping away for him, but she unloaded the car anyway and left the two ladies to themselves.
Ianto had lost track of whether it was day or night. When he was escorted back to his room, he was given trays with his next three meals and left alone. The room had no windows, no clocks and without being able to use his phone, he had no way of telling what the time was or even what day it was. He found that he kept starting to drift off.
He read through the file over and over, and as he sat there drinking endless cups of coffee, he found the coffee was actually having the opposite effect to what he intended and his eyes kept closing, no matter how hard he tried to keep them open. He eventually lost the fight and his arm fell down to hang loosely by his side, the photos of Lucia and the Carters falling from his hand to the floor.
Despite his tiredness, he kept on being woken by nightmares. He struggled each time to keep his eyes open afterwards and to not fall asleep again, but he just couldn’t do it. He seemed to fall into an endless cycle of falling asleep and being woken up by a nightmare.
Sometimes he imagined he saw the old man who fixed the stopwatch standing over him holding onto the file.
The old man stood there and suddenly everything around them went dark and they were both transported to the highway he had dreamt Suzie and Gwen had been driving along a few weeks ago. The old man suddenly started growing bigger and bigger and transformed into some unspeakable monster and reached for Ianto.
Ianto sat up with a gasp and looked around him. Had he only been dreaming the old man was in the room with him? He saw the file sitting on the bedside table – it was back in order and contained all the photos he had dropped on the floor earlier. Ianto shook his head. He couldn’t remember tidying it up himself, so who had picked it up?
Ianto reached over and grabbed something to eat but almost immediately found himself falling asleep again. It didn’t take long for the nightmares to start again.
He was running through an empty building. It was one corridor after another and no rooms opened up off of any of them. He ran to the end of the corridor and then turned into the next one and kept running. As he was running, he heard laughter; an adult male that sounded terribly familiar, an adult woman and a young child that he couldn’t tell if it was a girl or boy. He ran through more corridors, turning a different direction each time. He had no idea which direction he was running in, or where he was going, but he knew he just had to keep running.
Finally, he came to the end of a corridor and turned into a room. There were three people there; they all had their backs to him. He walked closer to see they were watching video footage of him running through the building.
A voice coming from behind him made him spin around quickly. A man stood there. He must have been from the committee, he looked just like one of them, but his features were morphing so quickly that Ianto couldn’t tell which one it was meant to be.
“You really didn’t know, did you?” the committee man laughed.
A singsong voice behind him started chanting, “You didn’t kno-ow. You didn’t kno-ow.”
Ianto spun around again to see the other three people had turned around too. The small one, the young boy, Steven, was the one taunting him. Pointing his finger at Ianto and chanting. The other two, they were Jack and his daughter Alice, had their arms around each other and were looking at Steven with pride.
“That’s right soldier,” Jack said to the boy. “Ianto doesn’t know anything!”
Jack and Alice looked at each other and burst into laughter. The committee man started laughing too. And Steven, even though he was still taunting Ianto, he was laughing too. The four of them stood there laughing at Ianto.
They laughed and laughed and laughed…