Friends in Dead Places 5
Rating: PG13 (for a couple of bad words - Owen!)... However there is one NC17 chapter which will be clearly marked.
Characters/Pairings: Jack Harkness, Ianto Jones, Toshiko Sato, Owen Harper, Gwen Cooper, Jack/Ianto, Ianto/OMC, mentions Jack/OMC
Spoilers: Small ones for Cyberwoman, Countrycide, End of Days, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Exit Wounds but nothing major!
Warnings: M/M relationships, violence, blood, Character Death, angst. Don't like any of those - don't read!
Length: apparently: 25,381 (oh dear.)
Summary: Ianto gets a lesson in dining, morality, mortality and the betrayal of friends.
Disclaimer: Torchwood belongs to RTD and the BBC, unfortunately. But if I owned them they'd have a lot more fun! This is a non-profit work of fiction and the only thing I lay claim to is the OMC and the plot (and I still have reservations on that one!)
"I need coffee," Owen groaned, stumbling though the cog door, his hands clamped over his ears in a desperate hung-over attempt to block out the noise. The scent of stale larger and gin clung to him, despite the shower he'd taken. It was as if the alcohol was simply seeping out of the man's pores. Even he didn't know how much he'd had to drink the night before.
"Well, it'll have to be instant," Jack's cheery voice echoed from somewhere. Owen couldn't quite pinpoint where, partly because of the acoustics of the Hub and partly because his head was killing him.
"Is the coffee machine broken?" There was a hint of panic and utter desolation in Owen's voice at the thought of the coffee machine, beloved by them all and a valued member of Torchwood Three, being out of action.
Leaning over the railings on the gangway Jack grinned down at his delicate medic. "Nope, coffee machine is fine."
"Then why the fuck can't I have a coffee?" he yelled up to his smug captain. Then winced as his voice rang in his ears and added to the pounding of his head.
"Ianto isn't here to work the machine. And you, better than anyone, know the penalty for touching the coffee machine without supervision."
Owen winced as he remembered the long, tortuous week when he had been forced to survive on Tesco's own label decaffeinated blend. He'd been in agony.
"Where's the Tea-boy then? Having a lie in?"
Jack leered down at the implication, a naughty spark in his eyes and Owen rolled his own. Jack shook his head. "Nah. It's his day off."
"Day off? He can't. What's he need a day off for?" Jack might have been annoyed, had Owen not sounded so thoroughly pathetic. It was obvious that he didn't care about Ianto having a day off, but about being taken care of.
Jack smiled and shrugged. "Oh, I don't know, perhaps because he hasn't had one in months. Because he works 18 hour days eight days a week?"
"But it's not fair!"
"Owen, I'm sure you can survive one day without Ianto. And, if you do it without too much whining, I might not tell Ianto you missed him!" Jack chuckled at the growl Owen emitted and headed back to his office, shaking his head at the fact that the doctor never learned. He'd come into work so many times, hungover and hurting and swearing off alcohol. A week later he was at it again.
"How the hell am I meant to get through today without coffee?" Owen mumbled, quietly so Jack's freakish hearing didn't pick it up.
"Perhaps you should start with some Nurofen and a big glass of water."
Owen jerked around, Tosh was sitting unobtrusively behind her desk, eyes fixed on one of her many monitors. He headed over to her and collapsed into the chair by her desk and laid his head on the blissfully cool metal of her table.
"Could you get me some?" he whimpered.
"Nope, busy, sorry."
"Come on Tosh… please?" He tried giving her the puppy eyes that had worked on her so many times, but it failed. Partly because she didn't look at him and partly because his eyes were bloodshot and watery.
She shook her head.
"Well, doesn't this just take the fucking biscuit?" he griped into his arms, "The Tea-boy is finally needed and he's no where to be found! Just sodding perfect." Closing his eyes, he wondered whether he could just go to sleep here and wake up when his hangover was gone.
"Tea-boy has way too much fucking power," he mumbled, his mind's eye picturing the mess he'd left in the autopsy bay, and he just knew Ianto wouldn't have cleared it before going home last night. He groaned and dug further into the burrow his folded arms made on the desk.
"Perhaps," Tosh began gently, "If you didn't demand he clean up and look after you like you were a toddler and not a fully qualified doctor, you wouldn't be in such a mess now."
"Shut up Tosh."
He didn't see her smile, nor the way it morphed into a smirk when her computer logged Gwen's access code being punched in.
The alarm screamed out, red lights flashing and the cog door wheezingly rolled back. Owen valiantly tried to disappear into his arms and block out the sound, but it had been designed to be heard in the Archives and all he could do was grit his teeth and wait it out. Tosh chuckled quietly as she carried on working. She did so love it when Owen's arrogance got the better of him.
"Good morning!" Gwen chirruped as she bounced into the Hub. She was bundled up in a warm wool coat, scarf and bobble hat and in her gloved hands was a pumpkin. "Happy Halloween!"
"I didn't take you for a Halloween fan Gwen," Tosh stated, finally looking up from her screens and smiling at the pumpkin and the black cat sweater Gwen was sporting.
"What? Oh I love it! Rhys is taking me to a fancy dress party tonight down at the pub. You should come," she nodded, wide eyed and encouraging.
"We'll see." Tosh nodded. "You dressing up?"
"Yup. Though I'm torn between being a witch or a cat." She pointed at her top. "Rhys is keen on the cat outfit, though I think its something to do with the leather boots."
Tosh raised a querying eyebrow, but before Gwen could go into detail of her costume choices, they were rudely interrupted by an almost pitiful groan.
"Oh god, kill me now," Owen moaned.
Gwen glared in his direction before turning to Tosh who mouthed 'hangover' over his head. Gwen pulled a mock sympathetic pout before tiptoeing over to the beleaguered man. Leaning in she grinned before yelling, "Trick or Treat!"
"Oh fuck! Knock it off!"
"Did I hear the mention of leather boots?" Jack had appeared from his office the moment the alarms had sounded, and had listened with interest to Gwen's plans. If he'd thought of it earlier, he could have dragged Ianto out to one of the many themed evenings all the local pubs seemed to sporting. What he'd give to see that man dressed up to his own specifications.
"Mornin' Jack." Gwen turned, bright grin on her face and looked up at her boss. She'd long grown immune to his (and Ianto's) ability of appearing out of nowhere and Owen's soused death threats.
"You're perky this morning."
"Trick or Treat?" she asked, heading back to her desk.
Jack frowned in confusion, darting a glance at Tosh, who just shrugged, and Owen, whose bleary eyes refused to focus.
"Well, you know me! I never could resist a challenge." Jack cocked his head to the side and folded his arms. "Did I ever tell you about-"
Oh, right… Treat?" He flashed her the patent 'Harkness Grin', copyrighted and trademarked on over forty worlds throughout the universe.
She smiled sweetly, and practically skipped up the stairs towards him, hands behind her back. As she drew closer his smile grew. Finally drawing level, Gwen handed him an envelope. His name was on the front.
"Tickets to a party?" he asked hopefully.
"Dunno," she shrugged. "It was on the mat in the Tourist Office. Ianto obviously hasn't been up there this morning."
"No, it's his day off," Jack replied distractedly, turning the envelope over in his hands.
"Yeah, apparently Tea-boy has a stressful job," Owen grouched.
Jack was too interested in the envelope though to reprimand Owen though. It was thick, good quality cotton paper. The writing was old-fashioned. Loops and slants and written in proper ink, which had bled slightly into the fine weaves.
"Well?" Gwen was looking over his shoulder. "Aren't you going to open it?"
"Can't." Jack headed down the stairs. "Standard Torchwood protocol. When receiving mail at a Torchwood office that is specifically labelled for one of its officers the mail must be subjected to tests."
"X-rays, UV irradiation and the Bekeran scanner," Tosh picked up where Jack left off, "It has to go through all of them before it can be opened."
"Why?" Gwen asked.
"Torchwood One used to get a lot of terrorist threats."
"And also," Jack said, "Better safe than sorry."
A few hours later and the envelope had undergone every test Torchwood had to offer and had passed them all with flying colours. Owen had dosed it heavily with their modified UVGI unit, guaranteeing that no matter where or when the letter came from it wasn't carrying any type of germicide. It looked totally innocuous lying on Jack's desk, totally undeserving of the glare being levelled at it.
Jack loomed over the envelope; hand's bracing his weight on the desk, trying to work out what was wrong. Something about the bland piece of stationary rattled his teeth. Jack wasn't used to receiving mail of the non digital variety. And even then, all of his emails came from UNIT or Torchwood or the PM's office. None of them were personal, although Martha did ask how he was when she emailed him. The only ones he ever got that were for him, and him alone, not for Torchwood Three's team leader or Captain Jack Harkness, were random little notes sent by his team during the day. But they didn't really count because they were nothing more than substitutions for coming up and talking to Jack face to face.
There was only one person who Jack could think of that might have the affinity to use such old fashioned materials to write to him, and it wasn't Ianto's handwriting.
Briefly Jack considered the Doctor, but it was perhaps a little too understated for the ebullient Time Lord.
Settling into his chair he picked up the letter. Gently he ran his little finger between the flap and seal, separating them with soft snickt. Sheaves of paper, folded perfectly in half, fell out. Dark writing covered everyone. Unfolding the first, he settled back into his chair and began to read.
My dear Jack,
I would normally spend this paragraph with trivialities, asking after your health and that of your loved ones, but I fear such sentiment would be wasted on you. After all, if a man can not die, the common cold is not much of a concern for him. And besides, I already know the answer to my questions.
Yes, I have been checking up on you. Not in any obvious way of course, just venturing to Cardiff whenever my travels bring me back to Great Britain. Hasn't the city grown over the years? I imagine that the changes haven't seemed that drastic to you, they never do when you are amongst them. But I have only visited twelve times in the hundred years since we parted.
I haven't bothered you before now, simply because there was no point. Many of the times I saw you, you were happy. To a degree. I don't think you are capable of true happiness my friend. Even when we were together, you were haunted. Whatever happened in your past, you haven't left it behind. Nevertheless, over the years you seemed to have grown and been living your life. Yet, on the past three occasions I have noticed changes, and I am worried Jack.
You are failing I fear. Not physically of course. No, physically you are as strong as ever. More so perhaps. I wonder whether you, like me, gain strength as you age. Does it take more to hurt you? More to knock you down? Are your deaths growing shorter? But that is not my point, and as always, you are very distracting!
My point is that you merely exist but you have forgotten how to live. You refuse to love and accept the happiness others wish to offer you. Perhaps you fear the grief and heartache that comes when you say goodbye. But I told you years ago, humans aren't meant to live forever. You are too fragile for it.
And you are proving me right Jack.
I warned you. I asked you to come with me, spend eternity at my side; I was selfish yes but I didn't want to see you fade. I swear that our relationship and the endless blood supply where only bonuses. But you refused. Something was holding you to Cardiff and you refused to give up on it. I hope, whatever it was was worth the wait, but I fear that you didn't get the answers you sought.
Don't get me wrong Jack, you are not yet past the point of no return. You haven't lost your passion, but your sense of compassion and empathy, don't you see? They are waning Jack. Waxing cold and forgotten in that eternal chest of yours. You surround yourself with people but you don't let them in.
I thought, when I returned last year that maybe the policewoman, Gwen, would be the one. The one who taught you how to live again, I hoped that she would be able to break down those damned walls I have watched you erect over the decades. But you took the easy way out. How very typical of you. You let her do all the feeling for you. Let her become the conscience of Torchwood and its Captain, so that you didn't have to deal with it. I admire your ingenuity, even if I curse the stupidity of your actions. Letting her worry about the emotions and the humanity of your job is the last straw Jack. If you carry on down this road then there will be no going back. You'll stop caring, and eventually you'll stop trying. From there it is only a matter of time before you bore of this planet totally. Forget your self appointed quest to protect Earth and mankind from what the future has to throw at them.
I don't know why you feel this mission is so important, but what was once your obsession is in danger of falling by the wayside.
You were once a friend to me Jack. Not family, but I would go far enough to say that I cared for you. And so, I feel it is my place to step in and put you back on your path.
You left me no choice really Jack. I warned you not to let things slide for a reason. You are immortal, and unlike me, you are very able to affect the world. I can't take the chance that you'll be lost to the madness that can claim my kind. I won't take that chance.
So remember, when you are cursing my name and vowing to wipe out my existence: you forced my hand.
He loves you Jack. Wholly, and uncomplicatedly and I fear that he would have laid down his life for you, even though you can survive anything. I am not sure whether I pity or envy you such loyalty. But you didn't see it, and that blindness, to one so close to you, has galvanised my actions.
I know he will forgive you this. He will forgive me eventually I'm sure. Ianto Jones is a man of deep passions and endless empathy. It's just hidden under tailored suits and a laconic attitude.
All you have to do now Jack is accept it. Take my gift, take his, and accept it into your life. Let it change you, protect you. Let him love you. You don't have to love him in return, he doesn't need it anymore. He's stronger than you, he was before I met him, and if anyone can escort you through eternity it is him.
If you open yourself to him Jack, I have no doubt that you will make it. You'll be happy. I won't lie to you, there will be times of great heartache and grief and you will lose friends and loved ones but there will be someone there, to stand by you when all else crumbles.
That is my gift to you Jack.
Hopefully, the next time I'm in Cardiff, I won't have to fear for you.
Your friend, even if you are no longer mine.
The letter fell from Jack's nerveless fingers and the world stopped spinning. Everything stopped. The clock didn't tick and the halogen lights didn't buzz. Tosh's fingers didn't tapdance across her keyboards and Myfanwy froze mid-flight. Everything just stopped.
And then it started again, rushing at him like life coming back from the dead, the world spinning faster than before, and Jack's blood was cold. So cold. Fear ripped at him, clawing through flesh and bone and chewing into his still beating heart and he knew he was shaking his head in denial.
His hand slammed down on the alarm button by his desk. The emergency alarm that was never used. But Jack felt that it had to be used now. Or else what was the point?
Grabbing his phone he flipped it open and hit '2', Ianto's mobile, with a shaking hand. It rang and rang and rang and Jack felt sick and he'd never known relief until he heard it answer.
"You have reached Ianto Jones. The world is most probably ending at the moment so I can't make it to the phone, but please leave a message and I will get back to you. After Armageddon, of course."
It beeped, prompting Jack to leave a message, and usually he would. Usually he'd leave something obscene and 'unsuitable' but there were no such thoughts in his head now.
"Ianto, please call me."
But he doubted that he'd ever hear from the young man. But he was Captian Jack Harkness and he didn't just give up that easily. He had a tenacious streak that outstripped Gwen's, rang rings around it and then waited smirking at the finish line. And it was that tenacity that was refusing to let go of the small sliver of hope that maybe, just please God maybe, Webb hadn't gotten to Ianto yet.
Phone in hand, he grabbed his coat and flew from his office, not caring the way the pane of glass rattled ominously as the door smacked against the wall. Gwen was at her desk, checking her gun and loading extra clips into her pockets. Tosh was doing the same, but her actions were practised and automatic and she had one eye on the Rift Monitor, searching for the emergency Jack had hailed.
On seeing him, Gwen tucked her gun into the waistband of her jeans, "What's going on Jack?"