Owen was starting to get fidgety. His hands shook from the effort of keeping himself under control after the shock of seeing and touching Diane and he just couldn’t seem to sit still. He had lost track of how long he had been left alone in the boardroom. Since Ianto had been taken away and locked in his office, Owen hadn’t had even a glimpse of any of his team mates, and the longer everyone was out of sight the more concerned he became.
He got up from where he was sitting at the boardroom table and walked over to the door. The guard who had stood by the door previously was no longer there. In fact, as Owen looked around, he couldn’t see any of the intruders. He tried the door, more out of hopefulness than anything else, only to find it was still locked. Frowning thoughtfully, he took one more look around the Hub before deciding to go back to the computer.
The police reports Owen found online didn’t make him feel any easier. There were reports of a man, dressed as a Roman soldier, who had mercilessly stabbed two blokes to death in Penarth. The man had eventually been captured and then taken to the local police station. Unfortunately, no one could work out what language he was speaking so there was no way of communicating with him.
The Priority 1 alert Torchwood had received earlier was equally disturbing. It had now been discovered that the Cardiff A&E had been infected with the plague – the Black Death – by an unknown woman who had appeared from out of nowhere. Owen felt a stab in the guts; Jack was right, people were dropping out of time and it was his fault.
With an angry stab at the keyboard, Owen shut down the reports. There was nothing he could do trapped in the Hub. Nothing any of them could do. The world could be coming to an end and Torchwood was powerless to stop it.
He started to walk back over to the door, when to his surprise it burst open and Ianto, holding a crumpled photograph in his hand, was pushed roughly through the doorway.
“Are you OK?” Owen asked, concerned at how pale Ianto looked.
Ianto didn’t say anything, just nodded tiredly and staggered towards one of the chairs. They looked at each other awkwardly. Both of them were shaken by their visions and weren’t sure whether to say anything to each other.
The decision was taken out of their hands just seconds later when the door opened again, this time to admit Tosh. Both Ianto and Owen looked concerned this time, as Tosh was clearly upset about something.
Ianto tried standing up, wanting to go over and comfort her. When he stumbled slightly, Tosh waved him back down and came over and sat in the chair next to him instead. Ianto placed his hand over the top of hers.
“Did they hurt you?” he asked.
Tosh shook her head but just like Ianto and Owen, she was still shaken and was unwilling to speak of her own vision. Being locked up in an interrogation room again had only served to increase her discomfort. Owen walked over and sat on the other side of Tosh. Ianto had opened his mouth to speak again when the door opened once more. This time a very angry-looking Gwen entered the room, followed close behind by Suzie.
Gwen stormed over and slapped Ianto across the cheek, the force of the blow snapping his head to the side. “You fucking bastard,” she yelled.
Tosh and Owen jumped up; astounded by what they saw. Suzie grabbed her from behind in an attempt to stop her doing anything further. She knew that Gwen was still upset after her discussion with Bilis but she had not expected her to turn violent. Suzie’s thoughts were still consumed with Jack and that he had dared to save her father. Worrying about what Gwen might do had been the last thing on her mind.
“Gwen! What are you doing?” Tosh gasped.
“You could have saved him!” Gwen spat at Ianto, completely ignoring Tosh.
Ianto’s eyes widened with confusion. “Saved who?”
“Rhys! He died because of you!” Gwen lunged at Ianto again.
Owen moved in front of Suzie and grabbed hold of Gwen, pulling her away from Ianto. Gwen spun around and punched at Owen trying to get out of his grip. “Don’t touch me!”
Unable to get away from Owen – despite his build, he was still stronger than she was – she reached out towards Ianto again. If she couldn’t hit him, she could at least scratch him; do something – anything – to hurt him. The same way he had hurt her by letting her beloved Rhys die. And then refused to do anything to bring him back.
“Rhys? Your boyfriend, Rhys?” Ianto asked. “I’ve barely even met him.”
“He’s dead. You saw him. They brought his body up through the Hub and left him in front of my cell. You refused to help when Bilis told you what needed to be done to save him.”
Ianto shook his head. “No Gwen, I didn’t see Rhys and Bilis hasn’t spoken to me about him either. I didn’t see Rhys being brought through the Hub.”
“Don’t lie to me Ianto. How could they get him into the vaults and dump him in front of my cell without you knowing?”
Ianto looked at Suzie helplessly. “He was in the vaults?” he asked.
Suzie shook her head. “I didn’t see anyone else there. Only Bilis and Gwen.”
Gwen looked at her in disbelief. “You walked straight past him Suzie. He was there in front of the cell I was in!”
Suzie shook her head again. “I’m sorry Gwen. There was no one there.”
Gwen laughed and sneered at her. “Well of course you would say that, of course you would side with Ianto. Your little girlfriend here is mates with Ianto, so of course you would say whatever he wanted to hear.”
Tosh bristled at both the comment about her and at Gwen’s attack on Suzie. It took all of her self-control not to slap Gwen herself. Ianto stood up, ready to move if Gwen decided to attack him again.
Any further response from Gwen was cut off as the door opened yet again, this time to reveal an extremely dishevelled and downcast Jack.
When Jack first arrived in Cardiff, he never had any intention of staying there permanently. He had spent the last thirty years wandering the planet aimlessly, stuck with no quick way of getting out of the 1800’s and had only just come to terms with his immortality.
It wasn’t until what he had thought was a chance meeting with the Tarot Card girl that he had been convinced to stay in Cardiff until the century had turned twice. This was supposedly because a man would come, one who could give him the answers he wanted. He didn’t know why but he trusted the girl, he believed her when she said he would only be able to find this man through Torchwood.
Throughout the years of his virtual enslavement to Torchwood, the faint hope offered by the Tarot Card girl’s words was about the only thing that sustained him. She would turn up every so often; to remind him he needed to stay, and to reassure him that he was doing the right thing. Her visits made him feel not quite so alone.
The day Jack had discovered her supposed death at the battle of Canary Wharf, was the first time he had really started to feel the depths of his isolation. This manifested itself in his initial antagonism towards Ianto. Ianto, in Jack’s mind, was firmly associated with the stupidity of Torchwood One: London was the reason he had lost the Tarot Card girl, and he wanted nothing to do with anyone from there.
As time passed though, he realised Ianto was nothing like your typical London suit. Their growing relationship had substantially relieved the hurt of losing his one constant companion in Cardiff. After Ianto forgave him over Lisa, Jack had finally, tentatively, begun to imagine a future that wasn’t quite so lonely. During Ianto’s lifetime at least.
Then he saw the Tarot Card girl take her place alongside Bilis Manger and the bottom dropped out of his world.
After the Tarot Card girl had entered the room where Jack had been restrained, she delivered her line and fell silent.
The smirk never left Bilis’s face as he drank in the look of shock and despair on the freak’s face. He looked over at the girl expectantly, but when it became obvious she had no intention of saying anything further he started to unlock the chains that were holding the freak in place.
Bilis unchained Jack and dragged him out into the middle of the room. Jack didn’t resist. He simply gave the Tarot Card girl a slight look of hurt bafflement before dropping his gaze to the floor. After the initial shock of her betrayal he was starting to feel numb. Bilis was talking to him but the words merely flowed over him; Bilis could have said anything and Jack wouldn’t have heard a thing. He couldn’t concentrate, he couldn’t think; over one hundred years of his existence had just proved to be lie and he had no idea what was happening or what he was going to do.
It wasn’t until Bilis mentioned something about Ianto that Jack took any notice. He looked up suddenly. Ianto. He needed to get to Ianto. Jack realised Bilis had said something about opening the Rift again. Bilis had said Ianto was going to open the Rift.
Bilis smiled again when he saw Jack had re-engaged with his surroundings. Mentioning Mr Jones and the Rift would hopefully be the last ingredient to spark off the reactions from the team for which Bilis had been waiting.
Time to get moving.
As the boardroom door locked shut behind Jack, Gwen wrenched herself away from Owen taking advantage of his momentary lapse in concentration. With a sob, she flung herself into Jack’s arms. Jack instinctively wrapped his arms around Gwen in response, although all he really wanted to do was be with Ianto. Alone. Having had his one security blanket ripped away from him, having found out that the Tarot Card girl never had been an ally, he desperately needed the comfort that being with Ianto would give. He was relieved to see that they were all alive and apparently unharmed, but really, he just wanted everyone else gone.
He looked down at Gwen who had rested her forehead against his chest. Her make-up was a mess and her reddened eyes showed she had been crying for a while. She also had smudges of what appeared to be blood on her face and hands. Jack caught a glimpse of Suzie’s face and was taken aback by the look of absolute hatred she was sending him. Owen and Tosh were watching them too, but they seemed more surprised by Gwen’s behaviour than anything else. Finally, he looked over at Ianto, longing to see his smile, wanting his assurance that things were under control. Instead of a smile, Ianto was looking at him dispassionately. He had his standard business face on and there was no warmth in his expression whatsoever.
Jack turned his attention to Gwen, wanting to get her out of the way so he could talk to Ianto.
“What’s wrong?” he asked gently.
Gwen sobbed a few times before answering. “Rhys is dead! Rhys is dead and they won’t believe me!”
Jack looked up in confusion. “Who won’t believe you?”
“Ianto, Suzie, all of them. Bilis killed my Rhys, dragged his body through the Hub, dumped him in front of the cell where he put me and everyone says it didn’t happen. Look!” She held her hands up for Jack to see. “My hands are covered in Rhys’ blood. How else could that happen?”
Suzie sighed. When Bilis had let her out of the cells, Gwen was standing in the passageway and the only other person there was Bilis Manger. Gwen was acting like there was someone else there with them but there hadn’t been anyone else there. Suzie couldn’t even see any sign of her father being there.
As the two were escorted to the boardroom, Gwen had cried constantly and muttered under her breath that everything needed to be undone. Suzie had begun to wonder if Gwen had become undone.
“You were alone in your cell when you said your hands were covered in Rhys’ blood. How could it be Rhys’ blood if no one else was there?”
Gwen shook her head vigorously against Jack’s chest. “It’s not true. He was there. They killed him.”
“Gwen,” Jack said gently. “I’m sorry, I don’t know what Bilis has done, but we will sort it out, I promise.”
“We can bring him back,” Gwen sobbed. She turned to Ianto. “You bring him back!”
Ianto shook his head. “There’s nothing I can do.”
He and Gwen glared at each other briefly before she turned back to Jack. “You believe me, don’t you? Suzie’s lying, Rhys really was there. You can fix him, can’t you?”
Distracted by Gwen, Jack hadn’t noticed Suzie striding towards them. “Of course you can fix him. You can fix anything, can’t you Jack Harkness!”
Jack looked up in Suzie in shock, before gazing over at Ianto trying to work out what was going on. He was stunned and a little hurt when Ianto turned his back on him without a word and walked slowly over to where Tosh and Owen had gathered.
Suzie pushed his shoulder. “How dare you heal my father!”
Jack stared at her, open-mouthed in shock. Suzie’s father? He didn’t even know she still had a father. Suzie had never mentioned anything about him; the only thing Jack knew about Suzie’s family was that her mother had died a while back.
“Why did you do it?” she asked Jack. “Why did you bring my father back?”
Tosh looked at Suzie in equal surprise. Over the past few months, as she and Suzie became closer, they had spent many hours telling each other about their pasts, telling each other things that they had never told anyone else. She knew all about the breakdown of Suzie’s parents’ relationship and the extent to which she and her mother had needed to go to escape her father. There was no way that Suzie would want her father around again. What had Jack done?
As Suzie reached out again, Gwen held a hand out. “Back off, Suzie!”
“Oh that’s rich,” Suzie replied. “Look at you, defending your little mate here. And you had the gall to make snide comments about Tosh and her friendship with Ianto. I don’t know what anyone sees in either of you!” Suzie glared scathingly Gwen and Jack before turning to look at Ianto searchingly.
“This coming from a would-be murderer!” Gwen screamed back.
Jack tightened his hold on Gwen as it looked like she was about to launch herself at Suzie.
“I haven’t met your father, Suzie. I don’t know what you’ve been told, but I didn’t do anything to heal him or bring him back.”
Ten very uncomfortable minutes later, the door opened one last time and Bilis stood in the doorway.
“Ladies, gentlemen, freak,” he announced. “It’s time to open the Rift.”
Everyone stared at him.
“We’re not opening the Rift,” Ianto finally said.
Bilis smiled knowingly at Gwen and spoke to Ianto. “Everyone here knows that the Rift needs to be opened for everything to go back to normal, Mr Jones. Everyone but you and the freak. Time is splintering and you are all needed to stop it.” He gestured for everyone to follow him out the door.
Surprisingly, Owen was the first one to move. He looked around at the others. He was the only one who had seen the reports of what was going on outside the Hub. How many other people would have to suffer? With no other way of reversing what had happened, what choice did they have? If Rhys really had been killed, then maybe the only way to fix it and get him back was to open the Rift.
“Ianto! You have to stop him!” Jack implored. “If the Rift is opened again it could have disastrous effects.”
Tosh and Suzie looked at each questioningly. Tosh had always listened to her mother, and if her mother somehow knew that the Rift needed to be opened, then Tosh knew she would have to listen to her. Still, she paused, waiting to see what Suzie would do.
Suzie was still glaring hatefully at Jack. The thought of her father being back in her life was an anathema to her. You need to be punished. Over and over again. Suzie tore her gaze away from Ianto to look back at Tosh. She was looking at her with an expression of complete trust. Suzie smiled back gently and turned to follow Owen through the doorway into the Hub knowing that Tosh would follow her.
Jack looked around him in horror. Were they really going to open the Rift, knowing what had happened last time? He called out to Tosh as she turned to leave the room.
She shook her head. “No, we’re gonna help him.” She disappeared after Suzie.
“This is a trap. All these cracks around the world, they’re diversions. This is what Bilis wants.” Jack was getting desperate.
Gwen looked out the door at Tosh’s retreating figure. She looked up at Jack again and slowly pulled out of his arms. “Bilis was right, he said open the Rift and everything goes back to normal. I’m going to get Rhys back.”
“Gwen,” Jack cautioned.
“No!” she yelled and ran out of the room.
Jack closed his eyes in horror. What would happen if they were successful? Would there be any going back this time? He opened his eyes again to see Ianto looking coolly at him.
“Ianto, listen to me. You have to stop them.”
Jack felt a chill run through him. Up until the moment Ianto had said no, he still thought he had a chance of stopping them. But if not even Ianto would listen to him?
“Ianto, you need to trust m-”
“No!” Ianto interrupted vehemently. Ianto held what looked to be a crumpled piece of paper out to Jack.
Jack took the paper and unrolled it to reveal a photograph of him and… “Oh my God,” Jack paled instantly.
Ianto grunted emphatically. “I don’t have to trust you at all.”
“Ianto, let me explain!”
Ianto shook his head and gave a bitter laugh. “You don’t need to explain, I can see quite clearly what’s happening in that picture.”
“It wasn’t like that Ianto. I thought you were dead. I thought…” Jack looked away in distress. How could he possibly describe the incredible loneliness that overcame him when he thought Ianto was dead?
“It was two hours, Jack. Two hours of thinking me dead and you had already moved on to somebody else? Don’t try and tell me it had anything to do with your feelings for me, when that’s all it took for you to forget me!” Ianto turned and started to leave the room. He paused in the doorway when he saw Bilis staring up at him. As he looked at Bilis, he felt something shift in the back of his mind. He turned back to Jack.
“If I mean so little to you, then we are through!”