Bilis Manger leant over Ianto’s bed, his hands clasped tightly to the sides of Ianto’s head. A manic smile was showing on his face and his eyes had partially closed as he stood there, seemingly absorbing the feelings of pain and humiliation emanating from the dreaming man below him.
“Are you sure we have to let Mr Jones go?” he asked. “Why can’t we just kill him now? Why risk him and that freak stopping our plans?”
“We’ve discussed this,” a gentle female voice said from the other side of the open doorway. “We need Mr Jones and the… freak bonded so tightly together that they feel like nothing could separate them. Just imagine how much energy that will generate for our Lord to feed off once you… rip their lives apart.”
Bilis smiled at that image and nodded reluctantly.
“What happened to the one you sent back with the Dogon eye?” the girl continued.
“He has been suitably punished for his failure,” he replied grimly.
“Good,” she replied. “You can’t change their pasts. They both have the ability to tell the differences in their memories if you continue to mess with them. You need to let events play out how they are meant to be.”
Bilis took his hands away from Ianto and stood up. He looked back through the doorway, but the girl was still hidden from sight. He knew she didn’t want to risk Ianto seeing her. Bilis stared at Ianto one last time and stepped away. It was time to let him wake up.
Ianto sat up with a gasp. For the first time in a while, he had woken up not feeling groggy and his mind didn’t feel as fuzzy.
He looked blearily around him and noticed all the food had been removed and there were only two sealed bottles of water left behind. He started to reach out for one but stopped. Now that he was starting to think properly, he started to wonder about the food he had previously eaten and whether even this water would be safe to drink.
He swung his legs over the side of the bed, but his legs felt like lead and it was a very slow process. He eventually got up and stumbled unsteadily into the ensuite. He turned on the tap and watched the water running for a moment. After deciding he didn’t have a choice, he cupped his hands and took a cautious sip of the tap water. When he didn’t feel any ill effects, he drank some more before washing his face.
Ianto went back to the main room and saw his phone. He switched it on again but still couldn’t get any reception. He slipped the phone into his pocket as he heard the door start to open and turned to face the committee member who now stood there.
The committee member silently escorted him to the building’s garage where he was placed into the back of the van again. They drove him back to the Plass, pushed him out of the van and left him standing there.
By the time Ianto had located Jack, John Ellis was dead.
Ianto was still feeling a bit disjointed and entered the Hub fully expecting to see everyone there but even though all the lights were on, no one was there. He looked at his watch and grinned self-consciously. At that time of night, of course there was no one else around, although he would have thought that Jack would be there at least. Ianto walked over to his office and sat down. He saw that Jack had logged onto his computer in the last couple of hours. Frowning, he sat down and checked the CCTV to see what had been going on.
His frown deepened as he saw an unknown older man wearing a hat going up to Gwen’s desk and, after a surreptitious look around, start digging through Gwen’s bag. The man seemed to have heard something that Ianto couldn’t see on the CCTV footage, as he suddenly stepped back and stood up as Gwen walked up to her desk, a questioning look on her face. Ianto saw the man put something in his pocket, out of Gwen’s line of sight. The two of them spoke briefly before they shook hands and the man left the Hub.
Gwen sat at her desk for a while longer working before she started to get ready to leave. She looked in her bag for something; apparently, she couldn’t find whatever it was because she soon turned her bag upside down and dumped everything out onto her desk. After another frantic look through her stuff, she pushed it all back into her bag and sat there looking thoughtful. She rang someone on her mobile, but didn’t seem to get an answer.
Eventually she got up and walked into Ianto’s office. She went to the entrance to Jack’s bunker and called out to him. Jack came up the ladder quickly and spoke to Gwen. She started talking and gesturing angrily back towards her desk. Jack looked at her briefly, before they moved further into Ianto’s office, to a position where the CCTV deliberately didn’t cover. Ianto assumed that was when Jack had used his computer.
Jack came rushing back around Ianto’s desk, grabbing his coat from the hanger in Ianto’s office, where he had taken to hanging it lately. Gwen followed close behind him and they made their way to the garage. After both of them drove off in the SUV, Ianto was no longer able to follow them on the Hub’s internal CCTV.
Ianto logged onto their GPS tracking software and found where the SUV was currently located. According to satellite photos, the SUV was parked just outside an abandoned shop. Ianto noticed that Gwen’s car also was at the shop, but parked inside the garage. Ianto rang Jack’s phone but didn’t get an answer. Curious, Ianto decided to trace Jack’s phone and discovered it was in the exact same location as Gwen’s car. Why would Jack be in Gwen’s car in a garage? He tried ringing Gwen next and also got no answer. Her phone didn’t show up in a GPS scan either, meaning it was either damaged or switched off.
Grabbing his phone and the spare keys for the SUV, Ianto called for a taxi and went out to the shop. He found the SUV straightaway, but no one was in it. He circled the building and located the garage. Ianto double-checked his PDA; this was where Gwen’s car was, and Jack was still inside the car. He reached out to open the door but stopped when a feeling of dread gripped him. Why was Jack in her car, in a closed garage, in some random shop, he asked himself again? A voice from his nightmare rang out in his head. You didn’t kno-ow. What – who – was he going to see when he opened that door?
When he finally rolled the door open, Ianto didn’t know whether to be relieved or angry. The last thing he had expected to see was Jack sitting in the front seat of the car holding another man’s hand. He wasn’t sure if he would rather have found Jack there with Gwen.
Ianto pulled a handkerchief out of his pocket and covered his mouth and nose before entering the garage. The garage was full of exhaust fumes from Gwen’s car. The unknown man, who Ianto now recognised from the CCTV footage, had been dead for a while. There was nothing Ianto could do for him. Ianto opened the car doors and switched off the engine. He went around to the other side of the car and checked on Jack; he was dead too and Ianto wasn’t sure how long it would take for him to revive.
Ianto stood up straight and placed his arms on the top of the car, resting his head on his forearm. He was still feeling a bit woozy from his time with the committee and the fumes in the garage were making him feel even worse. He considered going outside to escape the fumes, but decided against it, as he wanted to be there when Jack woke up.
As he waited, he tried to make sense of what had happened. The man was obviously someone Jack and Gwen trusted, since he had been allowed free access to the Hub, but who was he? Why was Jack sitting in a car with him while he apparently committed suicide? And who was he to Jack, that they were holding hands?
A while later Ianto felt the car rock slightly beneath him as Jack gasped back into life. He stood there a few minutes longer to let Jack recover a bit and build his strength back up. Ianto was about to lean down and help Jack out of the car when he felt Jack’s arms wrap themselves around his waist underneath his jacket. Ianto stood still, not wanting Jack to feel like he was trying to pull away. He moved one of his arms off the top of the car and gently rubbed the back of Jack’s head when he felt the man shuddering against him. Whatever had gone on here tonight, it had obviously shaken Jack, and Ianto immediately put all his doubts aside to simply concentrate on comforting and looking after him.
Jack finally got out of the car but he just stood there, staring into the distance. Ianto tried to get his attention but didn’t get any response. Ianto watched him a few seconds longer before putting a hand on Jack’s cheek and caressing it gently. Jack blinked several times and glanced at Ianto briefly, but didn’t respond beyond that. Ianto sighed and moved away to start the clean up.
Jack continued to stare out into the distance. He was aware of Ianto moving around him, and he knew he should really be helping out, but he couldn’t bring himself to move. Memories of John kept playing through his head over and over: unpacking his suitcase in the motel room, their conversations at the pub, holding him when he was overcome by not being able to complete a seemingly simple a task as counting out the correct change for the bus.
The only time he stirred was when it came time to move John’s body as there was no way Ianto could move him on his own. If he was being honest with himself, he didn’t want anyone else handling the body anyway. Not even Ianto.
Jack lifted John’s body out of Gwen’s car and, with Ianto’s assistance, gently placed him in the back of the SUV to take him back to the Hub. Ianto locked up the garage behind them; they would deal with the car in the morning.
“She’s been wanting a new car for a while anyway,” Ianto remarked as they drove off. It was the first words spoken between them that night but Jack still didn’t reply. Ianto looked over at Jack then gently squeezed his knee before concentrating on the road.
When they got back to the Hub, Jack helped Ianto put John in the Autopsy Room, ready for Owen to deal with in the morning. After he left the Autopsy Room, he stood outside Ianto’s office feeling lost. He didn’t want to go down into his bunker; he wanted to leave, he wanted to get out of there, he wanted to leave Torchwood and never come back. He just… He looked at the cogwheel door longingly. This whole thing just wasn’t fair. This wasn’t his time either, and sometimes he felt just as unable to cope with it as John had. Unfortunately for him, he didn’t have the luxury of the same “escape clause” that John had.
Ianto stood patiently beside Jack, waiting for him to notice him. Ianto could see Jack was still working through things, and he knew better than to disturb him. When Jack finally looked at him, rather than through him, Ianto took his hand and led him down to the showers. Jack followed him but didn’t react beyond that. When they got to the showers he stood there blankly, his mind still elsewhere. Ianto nodded in recognition and started undressing the two of them. When they were both naked, he turned on the shower. The fact that Jack hadn’t made any lewd comments about them being naked together showed all too clearly that Jack was not in his normal headspace. That made two of us, Ianto thought.
Ianto gently washed Jack, gradually ridding him of the smell of carbon dioxide. He washed Jack’s hair, massaging his scalp all over and taking a lot longer than he needed when he finally felt Jack beginning to relax. At one stage, Ianto wasn’t sure if the water running down Jack’s cheeks was from the shower or was actually tears, but he didn’t comment. When he felt Jack begin to shudder again, he stopped what he was doing and held Jack tightly against him, letting him cry on his shoulder. Neither of them knew how long they stood there; not even the water going cold enough was enough to move them.
When Jack had got himself back under control, they got out of the shower and put on the clothes Ianto had placed there before he had brought Jack down. Ianto led Jack back up the Hub and sat him on the sofa while he went and cleaned out the SUV. When he came back he was disappointed, but not surprised, to see that Jack had still not moved. Ianto urged him into the garage then back into the vehicle and drove them back to his flat.
Jack still didn’t respond as they sat down in the kitchen and Ianto asked him if he wanted anything to eat, but he accepted the cup of hot chocolate Ianto handed him and drank it slowly.
By the time Jack had finished his drink, Ianto could barely stay awake. The number of nightmares he’d had while with the committee had left him exhausted. He took Jack into the bedroom and they got ready for bed. Jack got into the bed first and lay on his back, staring up at the ceiling. Ianto got in next to him and went to curl up against Jack’s side. He tried not to feel hurt that Jack continued to lie there, not acknowledging Ianto’s presence. Even though he knew Jack was upset about whatever had happened, after his time with the committee Ianto needed the comfort of Jack’s arms too. He placed a hand on Jack’s chest.
“Jack?” he asked quietly.
Jack continued to lie there a few moments longer, before covering Ianto’s hand with his own.
“Not tonight,” he replied just as quietly. “I’ll tell you tomorrow.” With that, he gripped Ianto’s hand a bit tighter and rolled onto his side facing away from Ianto, wrapping Ianto’s arm around him as he did so.
Ianto snuggled up behind Jack and pressed a soft kiss onto his back. “OK,” he agreed.
It was a long time before either of them fell asleep.
In the morning, Ianto awoke to find that Jack had gone. His side of the bed was cold, meaning he had been gone for a while.
Ianto reached for a piece of paper lying on Jack’s pillow and read it quickly before laying back down again. The note simply said he had gone to get some air. Ianto lay there for a while before looking at the note thoughtfully again. All it said was that Jack had needed some air, not that he wanted to be alone. Ianto got dressed and made his way to the building where he hoped he would find Jack.
Jack stood on the roof of his chosen building, watching as the sun began to rise over the city. After having spent most of the night lying awake, thinking about his conversation with John in the garage the night before, he needed to take some time to sort out the thoughts running through his head.
His thoughts had progressed since his initial reaction to John’s suicide. The night before all Jack could think was that it wasn’t fair that John could escape, but he couldn’t. The morning light had brought a new perspective for Jack.
John Ellis had been unable to cope with being sent fifty years into the future. He felt that he had lived his life already, when he was meant to, and he just didn’t want to do it all over again.
Jack had been sent over three thousand years into his past, the differences that John had had to deal with were nothing compared to what Jack had experienced, yet he was in a much better position to cope with the jump in time than John had been.
Jack was no stranger to travelling in either time or space; John had never even heard of the concepts. Jack had changed his name and identity so many times that it was second nature to him; John’s entire life and who he was, was reflected in his name and he couldn’t let it go.
Jack took a deep breath as he felt the morning breeze flowing gently around him, washing away the last of the negative thoughts he’d had during the night and leaving him feeling refreshed. And as he heard the roof access door open and the hesitant footsteps coming up behind him, Jack realised the main reason why he was better able to cope than John. John’s entire family was either dead or an empty shell; Jack had some living relatives, but more importantly than that, he had the support of the man standing behind him.
Jack had woken sometime during the night to hear Ianto having another nightmare. He realised, with a stab of guilt, that after having been detained by the committee for nearly two days, Ianto would most likely have been through something fairly traumatic himself, yet that had been ignored as Ianto had taken care of Jack without a second thought.
Jack had rolled over and pulled Ianto into his arms and held him tight. Ianto had begun to calm down almost straight away and didn’t wake up. Still lost in his negative thoughts, Jack felt even worse for not having paid any attention to whether Ianto was suffering. When he woke up, just before dawn, Jack was still holding on to Ianto. His desire to flee had gone, but he still needed to get out for a while. He left Ianto a note, knowing that Ianto would be able to work out where to find him.
He turned around and looked at Ianto who was standing back, keeping well clear of the edge of the building. Ianto clearly still needed to talk, but Jack could see nothing but concern for him in Ianto’s face. Jack smiled tentatively at him.
“Come here,” he said, holding a hand out to Ianto.
Ianto stepped forward and Jack wrapped his arms around Ianto.
“Sorry about last night,” Jack said.
Ianto held on to Jack tightly, still not entirely comfortable with where they were standing. “We can talk about it later,” he answered back. “Everything will be fine.”
Jack lifted Ianto’s face and kissed him deeply. And for one wild moment, he actually believed it.