Summary: Were the 456 defeated? Will Ianto come back or does his new found immortality have its limits? Yet, It began in a bar on a cold fusion cruiser with a stranger named Alonso. From there Jack's life takes a turn he never expected.
Characters: Jack Harkness, Alonso Frame, Gwen Cooper, Rhys Williams, Rhiannon Davies, Ianto Jones, Tenth Doctor, Twelfth Doctor,
Spoilers: CoE compliant fix-it and The End of Time (DW)
Disclaimer: The characters do not belong to me. I just borrowed them for a short spell. I wish I owned them so there wouldn't be the need to write fix-its like this.
Word Count: ~26k
Notes: Welcome to the final chapter of this tale.. Thank you to all who have commented this far and those who have been following and/or favorited. And one final thank you to jo02 who the original prompt for this came from. It was a long journey to finish this story and it's always rewarding to see something finally completed. I'm also cheating and posting this a little early.
It was another two agonising minutes before Ianto gasped back to life and saw Jack's relieved face looking down at him. Before Ianto could even say anything Jack grabbed and kissed him as if it was their first kiss. Ianto did not even notice the stray tear that rolled down Jack's cheek.
The couple came up for air only for a brief moment before they resumed their kissing. There was something about dying and subsequently coming back to life that tightened their bond. Together they had saved the world once more. The universe's children were saved from the savage species at the expense of their own unborn child. It hurt more than either would ever admit to each other. It was as if the never ending kiss was an outlet for their grief, a way to feel alive and to celebrate life after one was deprived the chance of living.
"Don't scare me like that ever again."
"I'm sorry?" Ianto asked unaware of what happened. "Did it work? Are they gone?"
"They're gone," the Doctor assured the couple, relieved to see Ianto was among the living once again.
"Why do you look so worried?" Ianto asked. Sitting up, a wave of vertigo hit him and he flopped back into Jack's lap.
"It was taking you longer to come back," Jack smiled wearily as he cupped his hand against Ianto's face. "I got scared that you wouldn't wake up."
Just like that the insecurities Ianto thought they had banished last year were back. "I’m okay now. A little dizzy and nauseous, but okay."
"Plan on moving anytime soon?"
"Not until the spinning stops."
"Take your time." Jack ran his fingers through his husband's hair, ignoring the impatient glare from the Doctor. Life was always a little better with Ianto's head in his lap and a bright smile showed just how much better it was.
Yelling could now be heard in the distance and it got closer and closer, the owners of the voices obviously looking for Jack, but neither Jack nor Ianto paid any attention as they were focused on each other.
"Are you okay?" Ianto reached out to touch Jack's flat stomach through his shirt. He could not explain why he felt the emptiness that he did. It did not make sense that he was feeling such grief over the loss of a life he had only known to exist for a few minutes.
"We'll survive. We always do," Jack replied sadly. He felt the grief as well and had so many questions. How far along was he? Was it a boy or a girl? What kind parents would they have been?
"That doesn't mean we aren't allowed to feel pain." Ianto slowly sat up and wrapped his arms around Jack and in turn Jack wrapped his around Ianto. They clung to each other, burying their faces into each other's neck. It was as if the world did not exist outside of their embrace.
They were so lost in their own world that they did not hear the Doctor calling out to them. Not that he tried too hard, knowing they needed this time to process what had happened.
The Time Lord took out his sonic screwdriver and pointed it at the door to unlock the door for the guests that were on their way.
Once the door was unlocked Alice and Gwen barrelled into the room only noticed by the Doctor. "Nice of you to join us. Why don't you come in? Don't worry we fixed everything. The 456 are gone." He quickly pointed the sonic screwdriver toward Ianto's neck to remotely activate the chip to keep his cover intact.
"What the hell are you doing here?" Gwen yelled and charged at the man whom she thought was John Frobisher.
"Who's your friend?" The Doctor tried to diffuse the situation, but stopping a raging pregnant Welshwoman was no easy task.
"Don't try to change the subject, Frobisher." Gwen grabbed him by the front of his jumper. "What are you doing here and why would Jack be with you?"
"You'll have to ask them," he nodded toward where Jack and Ianto still only saw each other. The Doctor surmised it was all a part of the grieving process. Humans and their complex emotions.
Gwen turned to the men who seemed not to notice they were no longer alone and were holding onto each other as if when they let go the other would disappear and their world would fall apart.
"Jack," Gwen tried to get their attention. It was just like old times, but Ianto had been replaced. There were questions she needed answered and now, but the couple clung to each other as they sat on the floor refusing to let go. She still had no idea what had transpired, but knowing Jack it had to be bad.
"Jack!" She called out several more times with no response.
"Jack. Don't ignore me!" Alice finally called out, annoyed and a bit confused by Jack's behaviour. She believed he lost the right to be called dad when he sacrificed her son.
"Damn it, Jack. What's wrong with you?" Gwen tried one last time starting to wonder if she was purposely being ignored.
"What is it?" Jack asked finally looking up, his arms still holding Ianto tightly. He flinched slightly upon seeing Alice, fresh guilt being renewed at the sight of the hatred and loathing on her face.
"What is going on?" Gwen had enough of not knowing what exactly was going on. "Why is Frobisher alive? He killed his family and then himself."
Jack took a deep breath and held onto Ianto tighter. He was still having issues coming to terms with the truth. "He is really the Doctor. When he regenerated into this form something went wrong and he wound up with amnesia. It was not until after he killed his family that he realised who he was." Jack knew he had to lie, as telling the truth would mean explaining who Alonso really is. A simple lie to throw Gwen off the truth was the only way out.
"That's enough, Captain." The Doctor warned, playing along with Jack's lie. He thought bring Ianto into the mix would help authenticate the truth Gwen and Alice needed to believe. "Mr. Frame, what about the deal we had? Are you going back on it?" The Time Lord questioned. He never bothered to ask if the couple planned on leaving Earth. He would hate to make good on the consequence for breaking his rules made when he brought Ianto back to life.
"No, he's not!" Jack said forcefully. "We came only for a short visit. We both were homesick."
Ianto lifted his head and dried his face. "We will be leaving today. I see now we should never have come back." He tried not to look at Alice who clearly recognised him from the graveyard. She looked like she was about to call him out about their meeting, but he was grateful for Gwen's pit bull attitude as she jumped in before Alice could speak.
"Homesick?" Gwen butted in. "He's not from this planet. How can Alonso be homesick?"
Jack and Ianto looked at each other and then at the Doctor. Both hated to lie to Gwen about everything and wished they could tell her the truth.
"May we tell her?" Ianto asked. He was worried that if he did not abide by the Doctor's terms that he'd be put into cold storage on the TARDIS or that the space time continuum could collapse in on itself.
"Only if you are a hundred percent sure she'd keep your secret. Can you be certain of that? You and only you can make that decision, Alonso. Jack has no say in this."
Ianto looked at Jack and sighed. He knew the answer was no. Ianto knew Gwen would never be able to keep the secret from Rhiannon once he told Gwen he was alive. The bigger threat was that his sister would break the Retcon and she'd have to live with the memory he had drugged her. That was not a risk Ianto was willing to take. "Never mind," he said with defeat and tightly gripped Jack's hand. Tears threatened to fall, but he pushed them as far back as he could. "It was a mistake coming here. We brought the 456 with us and now they are gone..." Ianto could go no further and buried his face into Jack's shoulder once more.
"We thought we were missing something, but as long as there is no place here for us then this world is no longer our home. Home is wherever we are together and with us it's going to change many times through the years." Jack hated to show his sentimental side in public, but there were times it was needed.
The immortal men stood up, resigned to the fact Earth was no longer their home.
Gwen's head began to throb as she tried to make sense of what was going on. Since joining Torchwood it took a lot to confuse her but nothing made sense. She felt the veins in her temple pulse and throb. "Amnesia? You are buying that line?"
"I didn't have a choice. If it wasn't for him, we would not have defeated the 456 once and for all." Jack tried to reason with Gwen. He averted his gaze away from his daughter, unable to stomach the way she looked at him as if he was the worst sort of monster to have ever lived.
"How did you defeat them?" Alice asked as she noted the similar set up from when her life was irrevocably ruined. "Whose child did you murder this time?" She wanted to make sure her feelings regarding Jack were clear and that they were of loathing and disgust.
Ianto narrowed his eyes at the low blow Alice took at her father. She was obviously in a great deal of pain over losing her son and was taking it out on the person she blamed for his death. The comment caused Ianto to switch to overprotective mode and he stood between father and daughter. "We sacrificed our own unborn child and ourselves too."
It looked like the revelation had the desired effect on Alice and Gwen. At least Gwen seemed to genuinely be upset, but with Alice once the shock wore off, it morphed into something ugly and scary.
"How can you even compare an unborn child to a child that I actually gave birth to and raised for his entire short life? How can you even speak of knowing what that pain feels like?" Alice yelled and she repeatedly poked Ianto in the chest. "And the coward hides behind you. It's typical Jack Harkness."
Jack felt as small as any one person could feel at the moment. There was really nothing he could say that would make any difference but he moved beside his husband just to prove he was not hiding.
"Aren't you going to say anything?" Alice challenged her father to say something...to say anything.
"What do you want me to say? What could I possibly say to you? You're always going to hate me for what I did." And there were days Jack hated himself for that choice.
"You were in no position to make a decision like that while you were grieving."
"That played no role in why I did what I had to do. I had no choice."
"Bollocks, you had a choice. And bollocks that grief played no part in it. What was that man to you? Was he someone you strung along? I watched the video from Thames House. How old was that kid you lead to his death?"
"Does it matter? The answers are not going to change how you see me."
Ianto thought perhaps he should answer the questions posed by Alice. Being perceived as an outsider, her realised he was probably best suited to answer them and give Alice some measure of closure. "Ianto Jones was twenty six when he died. Jack did not string him along..."
"And if you want the truth, I can never put into words what Ianto means to me."
"Jack killed himself twenty times between the time the 456 were defeated the first time and when he met me. He was at such a low point from losing Ianto and Steven. He made the tough choice that no one should have been put in the position to make. It's a position Jack has been put in countless times. He makes the choices no one else would make. The ones that have to be made and he is given grief for it. I'm sorry you lost your son, but there are millions of children getting to live because of him."
"He's got you brainwashed." Alice did not want to hear what a stranger had to say on the issue. "You have no idea what happened."
Ianto shrugged. "I know more than you think. It's useless to reason with you. You'll see whatever you want to see. No amount of explanations or apologies will ever be enough."
The Doctor cleared his throat, knowing everyone would continue to devolve into bickering children if they were left to their own devices. "Alonso...Jack. We need to go. We've all overstayed our welcomes."
"That's it. Are you just going to leave again?" Alice asked angrily.
"What reason do I have to stay?" Jack asked with all honesty. "You are never going to forgive me for what happened to Steven. I will always, always hate myself for what I did. What I was left with no choice but to do. I'm not going to stay here to be a punching bag for your anger. It's really for the best that we leave. There is still so much of the universe to see."
"That's the coward's way out. Why can't you stay and face what you did?"
"Truthfully, I have no choice but to leave. If I were to stay it would mean losing my husband. So if that makes me a bastard, so be it. I'm choosing a long life with him." Jack doubted this Doctor would really put Ianto in stasis if they chose to stay, but Alice and Gwen did not need to know that.
"Why would you lose him?" Gwen kept her contempt for Alonso to a minimum. She reminded herself that all that mattered was that he made Jack happy. "He's making you choose between home and him?" She could not help but to point an accusatory finger at Alonso.
"If by him, you mean me, then you are correct." The Doctor spoke up. "I'm the reason these two cannot live on this planet."
"What does that mean?" Gwen glared at the Time Lord, still having difficulty separating him from what Frobisher did to all of them. She wanted to smack Jack for helping the man who all but ruined their lives.
"It's part of the deal I made with Alonso after I saved him three years ago. He's supposed to be dead and needs to stay that way." The Doctor explained in simple terms, giving what he could of the truth and since it had been only a year and half since Ianto died, none of them could make a connection.
"Then how did you come to meet away from this planet?"
"I orchestrated it. I thought they would have a lot in common and I was right. They both found love again after having it previously ripped violently from them." The Time Lord tried to usher the other men toward the exit, but the stony glares from both woman stopped him from going too far.
It was odd to Jack that his regeneration seemed to really worry about his well being and wondered if it had to do with the way this Doctor ruined his life when he was human and now he was overcompensating for the heartache caused by those five days in September. But Jack took it in his stride and chose not to worry about it too much because the sooner they got away front his planet the sooner the Alonso disguise could be put away and he could have his Ianto back. "Our old lives don't exist here anymore. We just want to start a new life together. We were given a second chance at love and that can't work here."
"You don't deserve to be loved," Alice spat out, venom spewing forth.
"But I am loved." Jack snapped, gritting his teeth. "And there is nothing that will change that. Go ahead call me every horrible name you want if you think that will make you feel better. Holding on to the hate will only destroy you in the end."
Alice did just that, calling her father every horrible name she could imagine. She cried and hit him and Jack stood and took it all without reacting.
Five minutes into Jack 's tongue lashing Gwen started to walk away, giving parent and child the time they needed even if that meant sacrificing her goodbye with her friend. She gave Alonso and the Doctor a curt nod before leaving. What could she really say to either of them? It was not as if she would she see either man again. Before she walked out of the warehouse, Gwen looked sadly at her friend wishing for one more moment with him, but that was not going to happen. She shed a few tears as she walked back toward her car. Their goodbye a year ago would have to serve as their farewell.
Ianto and the Doctor retreated to the far end of the room to give Alice and Jack their space.
"You want to there for him, don't you?" The Doctor leaned over to his fidgeting companion.
"Of course I do. She refuses to see anyone's pain but her own." Ianto looked down and kicked at the ground. "But I know he needs to do this on his own." It pained Ianto to see Jack being belittled and abused and not being able to do anything about it.
Nearly an hour later, Alice finally collapsed exhausted into Jack's arms in tears. "I'm sorry," Jack whispered, tears streaking down face.
Alice looked dead into her father's eyes, no emotion reflected in her dark pools of nothingness. She wiped her eyes and walked away with nothing left to say to Jack. The anger was gone and replaced with nothingness. Jack was nothing. Just like a passing stranger in the street.
Once Alice was gone, Ianto dropped his hologram and took his place at Jack's side, wrapping his arms around his husband as tight as possible, lending his strength and offering all the comfort possible.
"Where is home for men who have no home?" Jack asked feeling as small as a gnat.
"Wherever we are together," Ianto answered simply and from the heart.
With those four words the book closed on their past and a new one opened for the endless future that was before them.
The End...Epilogue to follow
Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5, Chapter 6, Chapter 7, Chapter 8, Chapter 9, Chapter 10, Chapter 11, Chapter 12