Jack stared at Owen, shock written all over his face. The last thing Jack had expected to hear was that Ianto was still alive. “How?”
Owen looked at Suzie uncertainly. How had Jack even known something had happened to Ianto? They deliberately hadn’t said anything to Gwen while she was at The Ritz, wanting Jack to be told when the whole team was together and there to support him, rather than have Gwen inadvertently telling Jack about Ianto before they got back.
“Ianto’s not dead Jack. Well, not as far as we know anyway.”
“What do you mean, as far as you know?” Jack asked in confusion. “Either he is or he isn’t.”
“We’re not even sure what happened yet. He went to get us some coffee, then the next thing we knew, he’d collapsed onto the floor behind us,” Owen explained. “I had no idea what was going on. All I knew was that he was dying and there was nothing else I could do for him before whatever it was that was affecting him actually did kill him.”
Tosh winced as Jack’s grip tightened on her shoulder.
“I had to cryo-freeze him; he’s in the Autopsy Room. It’s just temporary, only until…” Owen rolled his eyes and sighed as Jack nearly bowled him over in his rush to get to the Autopsy Room, “…we figure out what happened,” he yelled at Jack’s retreating back.
They all chased after Jack, with Owen getting there just in time to stop him from mindlessly opening all the drawers in his haste to find Ianto.
“Jack! Wait!” Owen shouted. “We still don’t know what it was that caused him to collapse in the first place. Or what it was that was spreading through his body. You can’t just go and wake him up. Not until we know what is going on.”
“He’s right, Jack.” Suzie agreed. “We don’t even know if he survived the procedure yet.”
Jack spun around in fury. “What do you mean; you don’t know if he survived? Didn’t you do the basic tests?” he asked.
“There was no time!” Owen answered. “He was too weak for us to delay freezing him, and after that, we were caught up trying to get you back. There was nothing else we could do for him.”
“So what do we do now?” Tosh asked quietly from the stairs where she was standing with Gwen.
Owen took a deep breath, relieved to get away from the rage on Jack’s face. “I took some blood and tissue samples before freezing him. Most of the cells died before I could even look at them, but some of them survived for a short while. I managed to get those ones into the freezer before they broke down too much. Maybe some of them would have survived well enough for me to run tests on, I don’t know.”
Jack shook his head. “No. He’ll be fine. If he did survive the freezing process, trust me, he will be OK now.” His eyes closed as he let out a deep breath causing him to miss the looks of confusion the team were giving each other.
“Jack, we can’t just take him out of there without knowing…” Owen began.
“Fine!” Jack snapped. “Get the damn samples out first then. I swear to you they will be fine now!”
Owen glared at Jack and was going to point out that Jack was not the boss – he was second in command thank you very much – but, after some silent prodding from Tosh, he walked over to a freezer unit and pulled out the surviving samples. To his astonishment, they showed none of the signs of dying or breaking down that the other samples had done after they were extracted from Ianto.
“I told you,” Jack said quietly. “Can we please just get him out of there now? Please.” It was taking all of Jack’s will power not to explode; he just wanted Ianto back.
The decision was made for Owen as Suzie started to walk over to the drawer Owen had placed Ianto in.
“Tosh, give me a hand,” she said, glancing behind her.
Tosh rushed over and together they opened Ianto’s drawer and undid the restraints holding him in place. Jack hovered behind them and when they were finished, he carefully lifted Ianto out of the drawer and placed him gently on the autopsy table. He looked down at Ianto fondly and a pained expression crossed his face as he brushed a hand over Ianto’s forehead and felt how cold and lifeless he seemed. Jack turned and looked expectantly at Owen.
Owen glared at him again but started to get the equipment ready for the attempt to revive Ianto regardless. He slammed the equipment around noisily, making his feelings quite clear to the rest of the team. Everyone ignored him.
When the equipment was ready and Ianto was hooked up to the monitors, Owen cast a look around at the team and prepared the medications. Suzie knew the routine well and was ready to assist him if Ianto didn’t react to the medications Owen was about to inject to reverse the freezing process. With a final baleful glare at Jack, Owen injected the solution into Ianto’s good arm and stood back, ready for something to happen. There was no response.
“Do something Owen!” Jack said through gritted teeth as Owen ran around checking the readings on the monitors.
“I’m trying to, damn it Jack!”
Suzie rushed to Owen’s side to assist him. She knew they had to try everything they could, or Jack would never forgive them. They took turns at trying to get the solution flowing through Ianto’s veins.
In spite of their best efforts, Ianto simply did not respond. Suzie prepared the defibrillation paddles for Owen, seeing that the injection was not having any affect. Not even the shocks from the paddles had any effect. Owen tried again and again, desperately not wanting to give up. He wasn’t able to face Jack after each attempt failed, but eventually it began to sink in that there was no point in continuing on. Suzie and Owen looked at each other in despair; there was nothing more they could do.
They had lost him.
It was quite nice lying there in the dark.
He could just lie there. There was nothing he had to do, he could just lie there in peace and nothing would bother him ever again. Nothing could ever hurt him again.
He felt a sharp prick at his arm and knew it meant something was supposed to happen, but nothing could drag him from the haze surrounding him. Not even the sensation of something flowing slowly through his body could disturb the feelings of languidness surrounding him.
He felt electric shocks run through him and knew they were trying to tell him to do something. Open his eyes? Was that it? He tried, but the dark was too comforting and he soon gave up without a single regret. The dark was soothing, calming, peaceful. Why would he want to leave it, when leaving meant pain and chaos?
There was something there, in the darkness, waiting for him. Coming for him. Coming for…
The darkness started to lift and he heard someone calling the word “Ianto.” Ianto. That was… his name, he thought idly.
It wasn’t… Jack… calling him though, it was a female voice. Lisa? But no, it wasn’t Lisa either. This voice sounded far too young to be Lisa.
“Ianto!” The voice seemed to be getting closer now.
“He needs you Ianto!”
Ianto turned his head slowly and saw a young girl standing next to him. She seemed to be very familiar to him, something about her clothing seemed to stand out, but he had no idea who she was.
“Who are you?” he tried to speak but no sound came out of his mouth.
“Ianto, it’s nearly time for you to wake up,” she replied. She stood there a moment and looked down at him lying on the autopsy table. “When this is all over, there’s something you need to do.”
She turned and pointed to a spot behind her. Even though he wasn’t able to see it for himself, he knew precisely where she was pointing. She was looking through to the Secure Archives, to the exact location where Jack’s container was located. Ianto understood. As soon as he was able, he would give Jack the contents of the package. It would be the right thing to do.
But that meant he would have to wake up…
The girl turned back to face Ianto once more, an unreadable look on her face. “Remember, no matter what has happened, and what is yet to happen, he still needs you.” Brushing a gentle hand over Ianto’s forehead, mirroring Jack’s gesture from earlier, she prepared to speak for one last time.
“There’s something I have to do before I go.” She looked at Ianto with deep sympathy. “And I’m so sorry Ianto, but this is going to hurt.”
Ianto looked up at her in confusion as she reached down and grabbed his wrist. She squeezed his arm tighter and tighter, sending an excruciating pain burning through his entire body. He looked down at his arm and screamed soundlessly as the ends of her fingers seemed to disappear into his arm. She seemed to be sucking the life out of him but still she squeezed and squeezed. The pain became overwhelming and darkness overtook him once more.
When the girl had finished, she pulled her hand back out and her skin briefly turned the same red colour that had been spreading out over Ianto when he collapsed. She put a hand out to steady herself and looked down at Ianto in satisfaction before stepping away from him and disappearing back into the darkness.
As the team stood around the Autopsy Room looking at Ianto’s body in disbelief, no one dared to look at Jack. Knowing how disconsolate they were themselves, they that knew Jack would be absolutely shattered.
Gwen had reached out an arm to comfort Jack but then yelped as Ianto’s body suddenly began to move beside her.
Ianto started thrashing about wildly on the autopsy table and all his vital signs went mad. Owen ran back to the equipment, desperate to find out what was happening, urgently trying to get at least Ianto’s heart rate down to a normal level.
Thankfully, after a few chaotic minutes filled with both Jack and Owen swearing at each other, Ianto’s readings started to stabilise. His body appeared to relax and his erratic movements calmed down. Owen sighed in relief when he was eventually able to declare that Ianto had now stabilised. Tosh also pointed out Ianto’s skin had returned to its normal colour.
“So what happens next?” Jack asked, unable to take his eyes off Ianto.
Owen shrugged. “We’ll have to wait and see. It’s best to let him wake up naturally now, no point in pushing him before his body is ready.”
Jack looked at Owen. “I’ll be staying here with him.”
Owen nodded. He hadn’t expected anything else.
It took nearly three hours, but Ianto eventually regained consciousness. Jack stayed with him the whole time, just as he said he would. Gwen told Owen to bring down a chair for Jack to sit on, and he had sat there beside Ianto, holding his hand, just waiting.
When Ianto started to stir, Jack lifted Ianto’s hand and kissed the back of his fingers. Ianto opened his eyes to see Jack looking down at him with a worried expression. He smiled weakly at Jack. Ianto tried to turn onto his side to face Jack and get closer to him, but lacked the strength. Jack put out a hand to keep him still; he could see Owen was on his way to check Ianto out so he urged Ianto to stay there. Ianto’s eyes drifted closed again.
Jack waited impatiently for Owen to complete his tests before declaring he was taking Ianto down to his bunker. Jack said he would be more comfortable there and it would be easier for Jack to look after him.
Owen didn’t bother arguing this time either and simply helped Jack get Ianto upright for the slow walk to the bunker. He stayed close while Jack helped Ianto up and down all the sets of stairs. He had to help support Ianto’s weight a couple of times, when his legs grew too weak to carry any more weight. Seeing Jack was able to get Ianto down the bunker ladder without injuring him, Owen gave Jack strict instructions that Ianto was to get as much rest as possible – “And I mean actual rest Jack, not your style of ‘resting'” – and left them to it.
He came back a while later with some extra medication for Ianto but was stopped at the entrance to the bunker by the sight below him.
Ianto and Jack were lying on the bed, facing each other. Their bodies were pressed against each other and their legs were intertwined. Both of them were both touching and stroking each other’s faces and upper bodies as if they were learning and memorising every inch of the other man.
Even from where Owen was standing at the entrance to the bunker, he could see the tenderness and caring in their actions. They looked like two people who had never expected to see each other again. Owen felt his eyes threaten to well up, remembering many similar tender moments with Katie in the beginning of their relationship, before things went bad.
He backed away quietly – the medicines could wait.
Leaving Ianto’s office, Owen could see Tosh and Suzie sitting close together, catching up with what had gone on while Suzie was away. Gwen was on the phone talking to Rhys but hung up as he walked over to them.
They all looked at each other, unsure what to do next.
He sighed and told the other three they may as well go home. No one argued, even though it wasn’t really his decision to make. They had all written up their reports on the day’s case and all printouts had been left on Ianto’s desk. None of them wanted to risk disturbing Ianto, instead wanting him to recover as soon as possible.
Owen scribbled out a note for Jack and left it, and the vials of medicine he had been going to give Ianto, on top of the printouts. Surveying the now empty Hub, and knowing there was nothing more he could do that night, Owen decided to go in search of a pub and see how much trouble he could get into.