Time seemed to stand still as the two groups stared at each other. The Torchwood team looking down from the boardroom, and Bilis Manger and the committee looking up from where they had spread out around the Hub.
Ianto looked over to Jack from where he was seated at the table.
“Jack, that’s Bilis Manger…” he whispered.
Jack looked at Ianto questioningly. He knew who Bilis was, but he didn’t know how Ianto would have known, considering he hadn’t yet read yesterday’s reports.
“He’s the one from ‘A Stitch in Time’. He’s the one who fixed your stopwatch.”
Jack looked at him in shock then told Ianto what he knew about Bilis. Did Bilis already know about Torchwood when Jack and Tosh had gone back to the 1940s? Was he the one responsible for all this in the first place, Ianto wondered.
The silence was shattered when an alarm saying a Priority 1 attendance was requested screamed out from the computer in the boardroom. Owen, Tosh, Gwen and Suzie belatedly seemed to remember eleven unknown people had entered the Hub unchallenged and as one drew their weapons and aimed at the intruders. Bilis shook his head in an amused gesture of admonishment and simply disappeared.
“I wouldn’t do that if I was you,” said Bilis.
When he spoke from behind them in the boardroom, all six Torchwood agents jumped in shock. Owen spun around to point his gun at Bilis, leaving the three women to cover the committee.
“I suggest you lower your weapon, young man. This is one battle you can’t win.”
Owen looked inclined to disagree; he cocked his gun angrily and looked like he was about to shoot until Ianto raised a hand to gesture him to stop.
“Owen, put your gun down,” Ianto said.
Owen continued to glare at Bilis.
Ianto had realised there was no point trying to shoot at someone who could disappear and re-appear at will. He wanted to buy the team as much time as possible, so he decided that co-operation would be the best plan, for now at least. Owen didn’t resist as Bilis took the gun from his hands.
With all of their attention on Bilis, none of them had noticed two of the committee had come up behind them until they started taking the guns away from the women. It didn’t surprise either Ianto or Jack which two of the committee they were. They had clearly been Bilis’ faithful henchmen the whole time.
Bilis moved to the doorway and started organising the remaining intruders. Some of them were sent to the various workstations and others came up to the boardroom. Bilis gestured to two of his men.
“You two, take this freak,” Bilis pointed at Jack. “And shut him away in one of the rooms in one of the lower levels. Make sure he stays there. I don’t want to see him again until I’m ready for him.”
The two men stood on either side of Jack and grabbed an arm each, preparing to drag him out of the room. Ianto stood up in protest but staggered slightly as he was still not back to full strength. Jack automatically turned to help him, an action that inadvertently pulled him from the grip of the two men. They reacted instantly, one of them grabbing a gun and aiming it at Jack and the other one pulling him away from Ianto.
“Move freak!” one of them snarled, kicking Jack in the back of the leg for good measure.
Jack stumbled and nearly lost his balance. He spun around and glowered at the man who kicked him. A quiet cough from Bilis made the three of them stop and look at him. Bilis gestured out the office door; the two men nodded and dragged Jack away.
They went in search of a suitable room where they could lock up Jack. Jack felt a chill pass through him as he realised where they were taking him – it was the room where he had kept the Cyberwoman.
“Think this is a very appropriate room to shut you into,” sneered the man who had kicked him.
The second man took some items out of a backpack he was wearing and started hammering something into the wall. When he was done, Jack saw some restraints had been hammered into the wall, above his head height. His suspicions were confirmed when they slammed him against the wall and chained his wrists to the wall. Some more restraints were attached to the wall near his feet. The men then chained him by the ankles, one foot at a time, stretching his legs apart so that he couldn’t stand comfortably.
The two men stood back and admired their handiwork.
“I think I like him like that,” said the one who had attached the restraints to the wall. He walked up to Jack. His hand ran down Jack’s chest, coming to rest on Jack’s crotch. “We could do anything we like to you now!”
Jack struggled against the restraints, trying to get away from the man’s touch. He had just started to yell obscenities at them, when the first one spoke up.
“Oh, I think we forgot something.” He pulled a gag out of the backpack.
Jack moved his head from side to side, trying to prevent the gag being put on, but the second man tightened his grip on Jack’s crotch in warning. The sudden intense pain caused Jack to stop moving for a fraction of a second, just long enough for the gag to be fastened around his head.
The first man let go of Jack and stood back with the other man again. “Don’t worry freak,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to touch something as disgusting as you anyway.”
They turned around and went over to the door.
“As for young Mr Jones, well that is another story!” He laughed and switched the lights off, leaving Jack in semi-darkness. “I think we can have a lot of fun with that one. And there’s not a single thing you can do about it.”
Both men laughed that time. Jack began struggling ferociously at the threat to Ianto, but the gag muffled any protests he made. They slammed the door shut and left him in the dark.
While Jack was being taken care of, Bilis arranged for the three women to be taken to other rooms around the Hub. Neither Ianto nor Owen could see where they were being taken. Once they were out of sight, Bilis gestured to Ianto.
“After you,” he said pointing out the door.
Ianto and Owen glanced at each other before Ianto stepped outside the boardroom.
“To your office, if you please Mr Jones.”
Ianto sighed and started walking slowly. He was really starting to feel the effects of the past twenty-four hours and wasn’t sure if he would make it to his office. Bilis, walking close behind him, made sure he did.
When they got up to Ianto’s office, Bilis ushered him in, shut him in the office and left him alone.
One member of the committee stayed at the entrance of the boardroom, having been told to make sure Owen didn’t try to leave. Owen looked him up and down contemptuously.
“Do you lot wear cravats because you’re too stupid to knot a tie?” he sneered.
To Owen’s surprise, the man simply looked him up and down before turning away, dismissing him without a word. Owen sighed and stood near the door, trying to see if he could work out what was going on out in the Hub. When it became obvious he wasn’t going to see anything, he walked over to the computer and switched the alert off.
He growled in frustration when he saw the details of the alert. It was from the hospital, the mortality rate had gone through the roof. They had sealed the area off and designated it a hot zone. Damn it, Owen thought. I should be there.
“Owen!” a voice whispered from behind him.
Owen’s heart stopped. That voice sounded achingly familiar.
He straightened up and spun around. And stared straight into the face of Diane Holmes.
Ianto sat down at his desk and rested his head on his arms, trying to get his energy back. A noise in the office caused him to look up, and if Ianto weren’t already sitting down, he would have fallen back down in shock at what he saw.
“Hello Ianto,” Lisa said.
“Oh… Jesus. Diane…”
As Owen stood there in shock, the sounds of the Hub faded away and all he could see and hear was Diane. He saw them dancing together on the rooftop, the red dress swirling around her. He saw her in the plane, taking off to fly back into the Rift and leave him behind.
He couldn’t believe she was standing there in front of him. Looking as beautiful as the day she left. She looked beautiful, but also afraid and so, so lost.
“Oh, Jesus.” He looked around the boardroom and out into the Hub, but the man outside the door had his back to him and appeared unaware of Diane’s presence.
“I’m lost, Owen.”
Owen reached out a tentative hand and was amazed that he could touch her. “I can touch you. I don’t understand. Where did you end up?
Diane didn’t answer him and carried on with what she wanted to say. “Please. Bring me back, Owen. You can do that, can’t you?”
Owen shook his head. This was too much. He was finding it hard to breathe. “I don’t know. Everything’s out of sync.”
“Please. Please bring me back. Open the Rift.”
“What?” Owen asked, even more confused.
The man standing guard outside the boardroom moved suddenly, drawing Owen’s attention for a moment. When he looked back, Diane had disappeared and he could hear all the noises around him in the Hub again.
He looked hopelessly around him, trying to get his breathing back under control. A tear rolled down his face and it took all his self-control not to grab the glasses off the sideboard and throw them against the wall.
Ianto tried to stand up but staggered again and nearly fell over. He reached out for the desk in front of him before standing up properly. He thought about walking over to her, but found he simply couldn’t. As he stood there, he didn’t know what to do and put his hands on his hips.
As he looked at Lisa standing in front of him, images of the Cyberwoman flashed through his head. The Cyberwoman taking off the faceplates and revealing Lisa’s face behind all the metal. Ianto on the floor, kneeling beside what was left of the body after Jack had shot her, crying miserably.
Lisa walked toward Ianto. The last time Ianto had seen her walking, she was covered with the metallic parts of the Cyberwoman. The Lisa walking towards him was wearing the red top from when they had last gone camping. Ianto shook his head.
“What do you want? Why are you here? This isn’t happening.”
“There’s only one way to stop this, before things get worse. People will die, Ianto. Thousands of people. Unless you open the Rift.”
Ianto closed his eyes for a moment. Why would they open the Rift again, when doing it the first time had caused so much damage? He opened his eyes again. Lisa had gone.
Spooked, Ianto looked around the office. She was definitely gone. Much like Owen, Ianto was finding his breathing hard to control. He ran a hand through his hair, trying not to panic.
What was going on?
Toshiko was taken down to the interrogation room and shoved roughly onto one of the chairs.
“You should be used to interrogations by now,” the intruder said.
Tosh swallowed. She had too many bad memories of being questioned while she had been held by UNIT. She wrapped her arms around herself defensively and hoped she wasn’t going to be held there for too long.
She looked over to the stairs and was shocked to see a woman standing there with a worried expression on her face.
“Okāsan?” What was her mother doing there? It had been so long since she had seen her mum. When Tosh was released from UNIT, it was made abundantly obvious that Tosh was still not trusted by UNIT. It wasn’t until her five-year contract to Torchwood ended that she would have full access to her family again. All access had to be carefully vetted. It had taken three months of negotiations alone for her to get permission to attend her grandfather’s birthday party the previous day.
Her mother replied to her in Japanese.
“It is coming, out of the darkness.”
Tosh looked at her in confusion. “What is coming?”
“If there is no other way… you’ll have to do it.”
“Do what? Mum?”
At the top of the stairs, someone thudded back and forth, temporarily distracting Tosh. When she looked down again, she was disappointed to see her mother was no longer there.
After depositing Ianto in his office, Bilis went over to one of his men.
“Did you put those extra photos in Mr Jones’ office?” he asked.
The man simply nodded. Bilis smiled in satisfaction. Mr Jones, Mr Harper and Miss Sato should just about have finished their visions by now. They weren’t anything too hard to create, just simple illusions that should put them off kilter for a short while. Miss Cooper and Miss Costello, however, were going to get something a bit special. Their visions were a bit more elaborate and required a bit of assistance before he started them.
Bilis turned his attention to the freak. He had been looking forward to this day for so long. Not only did it mean his Lord was about to be returned to his rightful place, but he would finally be able to get rid of that abomination.
Captain Jack Harkness was going to see everything that he cared for ripped away from him. The freak was going to be left with nothing and with nowhere to turn.
Once he got himself back under control, Ianto sat down at his desk and tried to think through the reasons why Lisa would possibly want him to open the Rift. As soon as he tried to work through that, he realised that he was thinking of Lisa as being alive.
That thought chilled him. He had already thought she was dead once and it turned out that she had been in the Hub all along. Surely, that couldn’t have happened again. There was no way. He saw the body himself after Owen had prepared her for cremation. There was no possible way that Lisa could still be alive.
He ran both hands through his hair then, his thoughts were starting to jump from item to item and he was beginning to panic. God, he wished he knew where Jack was.
Ianto decided to go over the case reports from Jack and Tosh’s trip back to the 1940s. It wasn’t really the appropriate time to be working, but he needed something to concentrate on while he brought his thoughts back under control.
He read the information in them, reinforcing what Jack had told him about Bilis. Gwen also came across Bilis while she was at the Ritz, investigating from this time line, and he read what she had to say about him.
Under the pile of reports were a number of photos. Ianto knew that Suzie had printed a few out as part of her investigation, but he hadn’t realised there would be quite so many.
He looked through them one at a time. The first ones were copies of the photos Suzie found while she and Owen were trying to work out what had happened to Jack and Tosh. But other photos were ones he didn’t know about. These one looked like they had been taken more recently. They were taken at the Ritz at the same time, but looked recently printed. Had Jack or Tosh brought some back with them? They couldn’t have though – there was no way they would have been able to get any printed in the short time they were in the 1940s.
Ianto looked at the photos of the caretaker, Bilis Manger. When Bilis entered the Hub, Ianto realised straightaway that Bilis was the man who owned ‘A Stitch in Time’, the shop where he had had the stopwatch repaired. It explained why he had reacted so strongly to him at the shop. Ianto continued flicking through the photos. When he saw the last couple of photos in the pile, however, he nearly dropped them all.
The photos were of Jack, dancing with another man. The dance was intimate and the way the two men were holding onto each other left little doubt of the feelings between the two. But it was the last two photos that broke Ianto’s heart. One of them showed tears on Jack’s face as he walked away from the man back to the bright light of the Rift opening Owen had generated. The last one distressed Ianto even more. It was Jack and that other man kissing passionately.
Kissing like they never wanted to part.