The three hours it took for Ianto to revive was the first time Jack had had a chance to slow down after returning to the current time. It gave Jack plenty of time to think about what had happened and what could have happened. Jack felt something approaching guilt as it started to sink in how close he had come to betraying Ianto.
His whole life, he had been a love ’em and leave ’em type of guy. Commitment and relationships weren’t ever things he had considered for himself. While it had hurt to leave Estelle, he had never doubted it was the best thing for her. The events with Lucia and others in his past all combined to confirm what he had always known since he became immortal. He had no one and he was destined to be alone.
When he was transported back to 1941 and met the original Captain Jack Harkness, moving on seemed almost inevitable. Seeing visions of what he had thought was Ianto’s death and given the slim likelihood of Gwen, Suzie and Owen being able to get them back, Captain Harkness proved to be a welcome distraction. Even though the Captain was going to die the next day, and Jack couldn’t do anything to stop it, Jack wanted to get to know him as much as he could.
By the time the two of them had acknowledged their attraction to each other however, Jack’s attention had been drawn back to Ianto and what he had lost with Ianto’s death.
Looking at Ianto lying unconscious on the autopsy table, Jack couldn’t help but compare the two men. Captain Harkness was more solidly built than Ianto; Ianto’s skin was so much paler… but the differences between them were so much more than physical. And no matter how Jack looked at it; there just was no competition between them.
Jack reached out his free hand to run his fingers through Ianto’s hair. Jack was so grateful to have Ianto back and he realised, almost for the first time, how easy it would be to fall, utterly and completely, for Ianto. How close he actually was. After Lucia especially, that was not something he had planned to do again. Sometimes, life didn’t go to plan though.
By the time Jack had brought Ianto down into the bunker, Ianto was nearly asleep on his feet. Even though the effects of the tracker had gone, he was still left feeling very weak. Jack had to bite his lip to keep from laughing when Owen had admonished him to let Ianto rest; there wasn’t much chance of Ianto being able to do anything but rest.
He settled Ianto onto the bed, folded up Ianto’s clothing how he knew Ianto liked and then went for a quick shower.
He came back, towelling his hair dry and stopped in the doorway, smiling affectionately at Ianto. While Jack had taken the time to fold Ianto’s clothes properly, he had simply thrown his own coat haphazardly on the other side of the bed to Ianto, intending to hang it up later. While he was in the shower, Ianto had rolled over and snuggled up against the coat, his nose buried in its collar and his hand tightly clutching the lapel. He really does love that coat, Jack thought to himself.
Jack pried Ianto’s fingers off the material of the coat and threw the coat over the nearest chair. He got under the covers and lay down on the bed facing Ianto, pulling him into his arms. Ianto responded by wrapping an arm around Jack, although in his weakened state, he could barely do much more than drape his arm over Jack’s side.
With his eyes still closed, he mumbled, his voice barely louder than a whisper, “Where did you go?”
Jack stroked the back of Ianto’s head thoughtfully and began telling him about the 1940s and meeting the real Captain Jack Harkness, leaving out how he felt about the Captain and in particular not mentioning the kiss. He wasn’t surprised that Ianto already seemed to know that Jack Harkness was not his real name.
As Jack spoke, Ianto tried keeping his eyes open, eventually blinking rapidly a few times to try to wake himself up. He reached a hand up to the side of Jack’s face and stroked his cheek gently. Jack stopped talking and returned the gesture.
Out of the corner of his eye, Jack saw shadows moving up in Ianto’s office. After over one hundred years of sleeping in the bunker, he knew when someone was approaching the entrance of the bunker, and he turned slightly so that Ianto would not see anyone there. Jack didn’t want this moment interrupted by anyone in the team.
Ianto listened intently to everything Jack said, and to everything he didn’t say. He was so grateful to have Jack back with him. When the alarms had gone off signalling Jack and Tosh being taken by the Rift and the tracker in his arm had activated, he really thought he was going to die. And worse than that, that he would die without saying goodbye to Jack. He knew he wasn’t ready to lose Jack.
“Don’t ever leave me,” he whispered so softly that Jack only just heard him.
Jack kissed him softly. “Go to sleep Ianto. I’m right here.”
Ianto was running along the corridors of Torchwood One, his heart racing and his lungs struggling for breath. Daleks and Cybermen were close behind him and it was only a matter of time before one of them caught up with him. Exterminate! Delete! It was all he could hear in between the sounds of people screaming and the building burning. Exterminate! Delete!
The scene changed and he was pulling Lisa out of a conversion unit. Lisa was screaming and Ianto calling out for help. Lisa suddenly stood up on her own; she looked at him and smiled grimly before saying, “Delete!” Lisa reached out a metal-encased hand and started squeezing his throat. Ianto started to black out and the scene changed again.
Ianto stared into the eyes of a UNIT soldier. The soldier was pointing a gun at him and telling him to say his goodbyes and then get out of here. He turned and saw Lisa – no, not Lisa – he saw a partly converted Cyberman strapped to an examination table. Two men wearing cravats and “Vote Saxon” pins came from out of the shadows. Ianto fled the room.
He ran down more corridors and stopped when he saw a young girl standing in a doorway. She wore what appeared to be a white nightdress and she stood there staring at him. He opened his mouth to speak to her but no sound came out of his mouth. He knew that girl; he had seen her before, he just had to remember when. Her long brown hair, and whatever it was she was wearing. Seeing her, he knew he had to do something. The girl looked at Ianto before turning and pointing to something behind her.
The scene changed again and Ianto found himself back in Cardiff, standing in the middle of the Plass. He had barely had time to look around to see what was going on when Jack came running past.
“Jack!” he called out but got no response.
As he continued to watch Jack run, he noticed a leather wrist strap on Jack’s left arm. Was that the Vortex Manipulator that was locked away in the Secure Archives? Ianto also noticed Jack was wearing his coat and a full backpack. There was a Torchwood branded container in the top of his bag. The container appeared to have a hand in it. A hand in a jar, Ianto wondered.
He called out to Jack once more and again got no answer. He heard people chanting in the distance, “You didn’t kno-ow. You didn’t kno-ow!” Ianto started running after Jack, trying to catch up to him.
“Jack! Come back!” he tried calling again.
To Ianto’s surprise, Jack leapt into the air and seemed to grab onto something, but Ianto couldn’t quite see what it was. It was almost like Ianto’s eyes were being turned away from whatever it was. Ianto called out yet again. He thought he saw lights flashing just above Jack’s head and then both the lights and Jack disappeared forever.
“JACK!” Ianto screamed this time. “Jack! Come back! Please!”
Ianto stood there in the middle of the Plass. Alone. Abandoned.
Jack sighed as Ianto began thrashing in his sleep. Even though it had only been two nights since Ianto’s last major nightmare, after the day’s events, it had seemed a lot longer than that. Jack struggled to hear what Ianto was saying at first, but then he realised Ianto was saying the same thing over and over.
“Jack, come back.” “Please don’t leave me!”
Jack shook his head, even though he knew Ianto couldn’t see him. “I’m not leaving you, Ianto.” Jack had to repeat himself a couple of times and eventually resorted to shaking Ianto gently in an effort to wake him up.
Ianto came awake with a start and he looked at Jack with fear. “Jack?” he asked uncertainly, as if he didn’t believe Jack was actually there.
Jack held him tight. “I’m here, Ianto. I’m not going anywhere. I’m not leaving you.” Jack stroked the back of Ianto’s head and down his body until Ianto’s breathing and heart rate returned to normal.
“Want to tell me about the dream?” he asked gently.
Ianto closed his eyes and was about to shake his head when he decided he might as well tell Jack what happened. Jack lay there quietly listening, not saying anything until the part where he was involved.
“A hand? In a jar?” he asked in disbelief.
Ianto nodded. “Apparently you kept it in the Hub. Near where we’ve got the head of Vexor 11.”
“A hand in a jar,” Jack repeated. He couldn’t imagine why anyone would want to keep a hand in a jar.
Ianto smiled at the tone of Jack’s voice but then his expression sobered.
“Jack?” he began hesitantly. “You’re not planning on going anywhere, are you? I mean, if you could.”
Jack’s hand stilled momentarily. He thought back to his conversation with the tarot card girl, the night he decided to sign the contract with Torchwood. She had promised him that after the century had turned twice, the person he was looking for would come. Someone that would give him the answers he needed. Even though he still had no idea who this person was, Jack had always intended that once he had his answers he would leave Torchwood and never look back.
For over a hundred years, that had been the only reason he had hung around. Even when the tarot card girl had gone to London and was eventually killed in the battle of Canary Wharf, leaving had still been his plan. But over the last couple of months, as he and Ianto had grown closer, those plans had begun to fade into the background. He still intended to go, but now he wasn’t so sure if he would.
Jack took a deep breath and hoped he was telling the truth. “No, Ianto. I won’t leave you.”
The phone began to ring about half an hour after midnight. First, it was the phone in Ianto’s office, and then when that wasn’t answered, his mobile phone started to ring. Jack picked it up hurriedly, not wanting Ianto to be woken up again. He saw the call was from Ianto’s contact at UNIT, Major Ivan Tomich. Jack hesitated for a moment and then answered it anyway.
“Ianto?” The voice paused. “Who the hell is this?” someone snapped down the phone.
“Captain Jack Harkness,” he replied, trying to keep his voice calm and quiet.
“You! Where’s Ianto? What are you doing with his phone?”
“He’s asleep at the moment. It is nearly one o’clock in the morning after all.” Jack felt his patience slipping.
“Doesn’t give you the right to answer the Director’s phone. How did you get your hands on… oh…” His voice trailed away in sudden understanding. “I.J. never told me about that,” the Major continued in a much softer tone.
I.J.? Jack thought. This UNIT guy had a pet name for Ianto?
“How long hav… oh, never mind…” the Major’s voice trailed off again.
Jack frowned in the dark, unsure where the conversation was likely to go next. “Was there something I can help you with, Major?”
After a brief pause, Major Tomich spoke again, back to the slightly impatient tone with which he had started the call. “If Director Jones is still asleep, haven’t you lot been getting any alerts then?”
Jack looked up the ladder to the entrance of the bunker. If there had been alerts, he wouldn’t have heard as Tosh had set everything in the Hub to silent. Owen had texted him before they all left to say that he would get any alerts transferred to his PDA so that Ianto could get the rest that he needed. It wouldn’t surprise Jack if Owen had missed any alerts though; he was probably at a bar somewhere drowning his sorrows over Diane.
Jack got out of bed to go up to Ianto’s office to see what was going on. He was concentrating so much on trying not to wake Ianto up that he almost missed what Tomich said next.
“I’m sorry. Did you say there were UFOs over the Taj Mahal?” Jack asked incredulously.
“Yes! And there’s a Samurai on the rampage in the Tokyo subway system. We’ve checked the readings – all these cracks in time are spreading out from Cardiff, from Torchwood itself! What has Torchwood been up to? I thought Director Jones had control of you lot. I didn’t think Torchwood Cardiff was a renegade branch any longer!”
Jack bristled at the insult to Ianto. For someone who was supposed to be a friend of Ianto’s, the Major certainly wasn’t sounding like one.
“Ianto has perfect control of the team here…” Jack began icily.
“Yeah. I can tell. That’s why we had to have the pleasure of Ms Costello’s company for so long.”
Jack could barely keep the sneer from his voice. “UNIT hired her, not Torchwood. I suggest you look in your own house before you start criticising Ianto’s!”
To Jack’s surprise, the Major started laughing. “Well, it’s clear to see he’s got at least one fan in his team.” The Major sounded almost civil as he said that, but then his voice turned cold and serious again. “Listen, I’m not sure how things are between you and I.J., but one thing is for sure, you better look after him or I will be coming for you. Do you hear me? I don’t care how immortal, or whatever it is you call yourself, you happen to be. Ianto is a very special person, and I won’t have him mistreated.”
Jack gripped the phone tightly. How did Major Tomich know Jack couldn’t die? Outside the committee, Suzie and Ianto, no one else should know. Had Ianto told him? Or was his secret not so much of a secret anymore?
Exactly what was the relationship between Ianto and the Major?
During the night, Jack fielded other calls from the government, other UNIT branches, the CIA, Torchwood 2 and many other agencies. When the call came from Her Majesty’s office though, he knew it was time to awaken Ianto.
Jack helped Ianto up the bunker ladder and together they started searching through all the alerts and digging up all the information they could find on the sightings that had been occurring during the night. The fact that the reports had started coming in no more than an hour after the Rift had been opened was very telling.
The morning found the rest of the team watching the news reports from their homes, after being called by Ianto, before they came in to the Hub.
When everyone was there, Ianto called an emergency meeting in the boardroom. He told them about Jack fielding calls all night about the various sightings. Ianto went on to explain that the callers had all asked pretty well the same question – was this anything to do with Torchwood.
“And is it?” Gwen asked.
Tosh walked over to the screen and keyed some instructions into her PDA. “I’ve run a profile on every reported temporal anomaly and tracked any physical or temporal pattern.”
A world map displayed on the screen. It showed the paths of all the anomalies reported so far, and every single one of them tracked back to Cardiff. More specifically, to Torchwood.
“The cracks in time trace back here to the Rift,” Jack began. “This city, this Hub, is the centre. What you’re seeing around the world are ripples and aftershocks. The Rift is splintering because of you.” He turned to face Owen as he said the last sentence.
“What?” Owen spluttered.
“You opened the Rift without knowing what you were doing. You’ve caused the temporal cracks to widen. Time is seeping through.”
“If it wasn’t for me, you two would still be in the 1940s. So are we going to sit around crying into our lattes, or shall we do something about it?” Owen was livid.
“Enough you two!” Ianto snapped. “We don’t have time for a bitch fight between you two.” He pointed at Jack, Tosh, Gwen and Owen. “I want you four to go out in pairs and round up as many of the people who have fallen through time as possible and put them in the vaults. Suzie, I need you here with me so that we can work out what we can do about getting them back and closing the cracks in time.”
“You can’t control time, Ianto,” Owen was still glaring at Jack, but it was Ianto he was speaking to.
Ianto was about to reply but stopped when they heard the cogwheel door start to roll open.
The team looked around at each other in confusion; everyone was there already, so who could be entering the Hub? The intruder alerts hadn’t even been set off, which confused them even more. Ianto and Jack however, looked at each other in resignation; they knew only too well what was happening.
They knew they had been lucky to get away with so much for so long. With Jack not keeping the Cyberwoman alive as instructed, the tracker being set off when Jack was sent back in time, the opening of the Rift and now all these cracks in time, it was only a matter of time before their luck ran out.
A large group of people entered the Hub and, as Bilis Manger, the man from the Ritz, stood out in front of all of them with an evil looking smirk set firmly in place, it all seemed rather inevitable.
The committee had finally made their move.