As the boat chugged along the Bristol Channel, headed back towards Cardiff, it could have been any normal Sunday afternoon boat ride. Just two friends who had spent a relaxing, sunny day out on one of the islands. Maybe they’d enjoyed a picnic in one of the many grassed areas available. Or maybe they’d climbed up to the top of the lighthouse to enjoy the scenic views of the bay. Absolutely normal.
Instead though, the captain of the ‘Sea Princess’ was transporting an immortal alien from the 51st century and the director of a company set up to catch aliens back from an apparently deserted island that housed a secret refuge for the hideously damaged returned victims of a rift in time and space. Maybe not so normal then.
Jack watched Ianto as he leant against the railings, staring down at the water, lost in thought. Ianto hadn’t spoken to him since they had left Flat Holm Island, and it was starting to worry him. Jack looked towards the horizon and saw dark storm clouds gathering in the distance. Exactly how would Ianto respond to what he had been told and had seen on the island?
The day that Alex Hopkins killed himself and the other Torchwood operatives, Jack was left alone. Alone, for the first time, in over 100 years. As what had happened started to sink in, Jack prepared all the bodies for preservation in accordance to Torchwood regulations, and put them away in the morgue. After he closed the final drawer, he stood there, lost, not knowing what to do next.
With one final glance at Alex’s compartment, he eventually wandered off. He didn’t go anywhere in particular; he just walked. Walked through random corridors and down through the various levels of the Hub. Despite having been with Torchwood for so very long he hadn’t actually been in every room of the Hub. Some areas were classified as out of bounds to the alien, some areas he just wasn’t comfortable with being in and some areas were that old and run down they weren’t considered safe for anyone to enter at all.
That night though, he just needed to go somewhere, anywhere, that didn’t hold any memories for him. Memories of one of the only Torchwood teams he had ever actually considered to be friends. He ended up near the vaults in one of the lowest levels of the Hub. Jack stopped to try and get his bearings – he hadn’t really taken much notice of where he was walking – when he was startled by strange sounds coming from one of the vaults. On entering the passageway in front of the vaults, he was appalled to see two horrifyingly disfigured people locked away.
Jack looked around in the rooms nearby to see if there were any clues to who these people were, or how they got there, but he couldn’t find anything. The only useful thing he found was an enormous stash of non-perishable food and drink. Not wanting to take his chances with the two unknown people, he decided it would be best to leave them there for now and get back up to the main area of the Hub to see if he could find anything in Alex’s personal files. Jack spent a further half hour down in the vaults, trying to talk to them both, but while they were both clearly listening to what he was saying, neither of them uttered a word.
Logging on to a terminal, he discovered that Alex had sent him an email not long before Jack got back to the Hub. He must have sent it immediately before he shot the rest of the team.
The email started off by apologising for not being able to save Jack, echoing what Alex would say to Jack directly, just before his suicide. He went on to explain about the negative rift spikes, and how the rift would sometimes take people or objects instead of just depositing stuff here in Cardiff from other times and places. He also explained that even more rarely, the rift would sometimes bring these people back.
When these people came back, they were never the same as they were when they were taken. The differences weren’t just physical, but were also mental and emotional. Alex had found four people that the rift had returned while he was in charge of Torchwood, but only the two in the vaults were left. One had died not long after coming back through the rift. Kelly Webber had been sent on a seemingly endless number of jumps through the rift and she was simply too fragile to survive the effects of being flung through time and space over and over again. The other death was a relatively natural death – by the time the rift deposited Matthew Evans back in Cardiff he was in his late eighties and he died peacefully in his sleep one night.
The names of the two people in the vaults had never been worked out. They had no identification with them and as neither of them spoke, they couldn’t tell him anything. He had even run DNA tests, but got no matches. And while the two had come back together, he didn’t even know if they had been taken together.
Alex had no idea why these people had been taken or why they had been brought back. He put them down in the vaults where no one else would find them. He hadn’t meant to neglect them as much as he had, but he simply couldn’t risk anyone finding out about them. He had no doubts that anything the committee would do with them would not be pleasant for them. He didn’t want UNIT to get their hands on them either, knowing that they were more likely to experiment on them rather than try to help them.
After he finished reading the email Jack barely had time to delete the email from his Inbox, and to log into Alex’s account to remove it from his own mailbox before the cogwheel door alarms sounded. The committee, alerted by the deactivation of the tracker in Alex’s arm, had arrived to find out what had happened. Jack turned around to see that the two with cravats were standing by the door; complete with their typical looks of distaste that they seemed to wear whenever they were around Jack.
Knowing he would be carefully watched to begin with, Jack was unable to immediately do anything about the two in the vaults. He could occasionally sneak away to make sure they were fed and was able to stop anyone from going down there, but that was about the limit of what he could do. This did give him time to think though, and to work out how he would actually deal with them.
Like Alex, there was no way he wanted UNIT anywhere near them, and he certainly didn’t want the committee to get their hands on them either. One of the advantages of living where he worked meant that Jack didn’t have many expenses and, with over 100 years of Torchwood pay, he had quite a bit of money saved up. He was able to get the facility at Flat Holm Island set up; it wasn’t anything fancy but he did the best he could. He hired the minimum of staff, telling them that their patients were experiments that had gone wrong and they needed to be kept safe from anyone who would mistreat them. None of the staff questioned him too hard – they were all caring people and saw that the best thing to do was just to look after them, rather than question Jack too much.
After the committee put Suzie in temporary charge of Torchwood, the committee goons left the Hub and Jack had a bit more freedom. With Suzie concentrating on other things, he was able to transfer the two over to Flat Holm Island.
Unfortunately though, recently the rift had been returning more and more people. Jack had to hire more people and extend the facilities. There were currently fourteen patients at the facility. This was starting to put a strain on Jack’s finances and if too many more people were returned, he wasn’t sure how he would be able to continue to support them. Suzie wasn’t too interested in the Hub’s finances and happily agreed to Jack’s suggestion that he look after them for her. This meant he could supplement his contributions a little, but he had to make sure he didn’t siphon off that much money that someone would become suspicious of what he was doing.
Once a month Jack would go over to Flat Holm to check up how everything was going and to see if there was anything he needed to do for them. He was due to go again, but he knew the tracker injected into Ianto would be set off if he travelled that far away from the Hub and Ianto. He had promised Ianto that he wouldn’t deliberately do anything to hurt Ianto back on Ianto’s first day at Torchwood 3, so he knew he had to persuade Ianto to come to Flat Holm with him. That would mean telling Ianto everything he knew, and about what he had done.
After he had finished telling Ianto about it the previous night, he wasn’t sure how Ianto had taken it. Ianto had looked at him steadily for a few minutes before asking him when he planned on going out there next. They decided to go the next day – Sunday was officially the director’s day off so he could legitimately be away from the Hub for the day, without it raising any suspicions.
Jack met Ianto at the dock the next morning and they sailed over to the island. Jack pointed out where the main facilities were as they walked along the short jetty and down the paths to the main building. Ianto was introduced to all the staff, and some of the more lucid patients. He was his customary polite, attentive self and quickly won over Helen and the other staff. Ianto had kept his usual business-like mask on the entire time they were at the facility and Jack had been completely unable to gauge his mood or to judge his reactions to what he had seen.
After saying goodbye to the facility’s staff, Ianto and Jack walked back to where the boat was waiting for them. Ianto didn’t say a word to Jack for the entire walk back and maintained his silence on the boat. The longer he was silent, the more worried Jack became.
Jack continued watching Ianto; he was clearly thinking things through. Jack watched as the wind whipped at Ianto’s clothing, and unconsciously found himself admiring the view as Ianto’s jacket was plastered against his body, outlining the slender yet strong looking body. Jack chastised himself mentally. There was no telling what Ianto would do; whether he would support Jack with Flat Holm or if he would can the whole thing altogether or worse still, tell the committee. It certainly wasn’t the time or place for him to be distracted by an attractive man.
He realised suddenly that Ianto had finally turned around and his calm blue eyes were regarding him steadily once again. The boat began docking just at that moment and Ianto disappeared inside the cabin, ready to go ashore. Once back on land Ianto thanked the boat captain and headed off towards the SUV, with Jack trailing close behind. Ianto looked at his watch and saw it was late in the afternoon.
“Jack,” he began. “I’m going to go home now.”
Jack opened his mouth to speak, but Ianto carried on.
“I have a lot to think about, what with this and Suzie coming back tomorrow. I need to think this through properly. I don’t want to make any rash decisions here. I’ll let you know what I decided tomorrow when I get in.”
Jack was disappointed, but he was relieved, to an extent. Ianto hadn’t immediately come out and said to close it down, so that gave Jack a small ray of hope that Ianto might actually support him and not put a stop to it. He watched as Ianto walked off as he headed home. Jack drove the SUV back to the Hub. It would be a long night for him, wondering exactly what Ianto would do.