Characters/Pairings: Jack/Ianto, mentions of pretty much everyone, OCs
Spoilers: Seasons 1 and 2, Children of Earth
Warnings: Character death. Lots. Major characters, minor characters. Original and canon.
Summary: Ianto always kept a mental list of the people that he knew Jack would stay alive for, then later who he would stay human for. Ianto is that last one on that list and his own time is running out. Fourth and final part of my "Crossings" 'verse.
Author's Notes: As mentioned above this is the fourth in a series (and I know it's been like a year since the last one. My apologies). Nothing will really make sense unless you've read those - sorry to be assigning extra reading. I know it's been awhile. Earlier fics are as follows:
Crossing Back (Prologue plus 13 parts)
Crossing Eyes and Dotting Tees (one shot)
Crossing Lines (11 parts)
They lost Gwen at the age of fifty-seven. That was a record for any Torchwood employee, field agent or otherwise. Torchwood employees from the organization’s inception seldom survived past the age of thirty-five – and those were only the lucky ones. It was a painful fact of life but that was Torchwood for you. When Gwen turned thirty-five a little warning bell sounded in Ianto’s head, a bell that warned him to enjoy Gwen as much as he could since he would lose her soon. It was an awful sentiment but he knew he wasn’t the only one who felt it. Jack’s response hadn’t been quite as intense as he’d anticipated and it took him longer than he thought to figure out why.
Jack had placed Gwen off field duty when she reached her third trimester. That had been a sound conclusion at the time, as had been the decision to keep Gwen on desk duty when Tegan had been small but he’d never put her back on field duty and Gwen herself had only asked twice. She also hadn’t put up half as much of a fight as she normally would have. Gwen’s desk job was prolonging her life. Gwen wanted to stay alive for her family as long as possible, especially while Tegan remained a child. That was both the practical reason and the official reason but there was a personal reason, more on Jack’s end then Gwen’s anymore.
Gwen and Jack always had had a special sort of connection. There had been loads of points where Ianto had wondered if they’d ever slept together or whether Jack really wanted her. He’s been shocked to discover that the time that he, Gwen, Jack and Rhys had had their one night foursome that this was the first time Gwen had had sex with Jack. He’d always just assumed that they’d done it at least once. No emotion involved. This was Jack we were talking about. It turned out the relationship had changed in the Post-456 world. Gwen had really been there for Jack when there was literally no one left for him to rely one. They had become best friends and nothing more during that time period. That being said Jack wanted to keep her as safe as possible, for her family as well as his own sanity. Ianto wasn’t sure if Jack or Gwen had ever actually discussed this but he knew that Gwen had to have known. He’d been the last one to see her alive that day after all.
5 March 2036. That was the day that had signalled the ending of an era in the head of Ianto Jones. It had been one of the few instances where Gwen had run “base” from outside of the Hub. For a four week period they had all been taking turns observing this one bakery that was suspected of selling some highly exotic treats. Ianto and Calvin (their tech expert at the time) had actually gone undercover as employees and reported to Gwen at the end of each of their shifts with any findings. Gwen was operating outside of the hub to maintain a constant presence while everyone else kept up pretences at the Hub. So base of operations for the Field Agent Coordinator of Torchwood Three was in the condemned apartment building across the street.
That night he had been coming off shift and was checking in with his findings – that and brewing her some of his coffee. She’d had the recipe for over twenty years and she still couldn’t do it right. There was nothing noteworthy about the conversation; just a few quips about his coffee, some information sharing about the bakery, and then Ianto had said good night. So had Gwen.
The next morning she’d been ashes. Literally. All that was there was a pile of ashes in the apartment when Calvin had gone to check in the next morning. No sign of how or why. Later Jack had identified her likely cause of death to be a disintegration gun. She literally had never known what had hit her. It was a blessing and kindness to go out that way in this job but it didn’t hurt any less for any of them. Or for Rhys and Tegan when they were told.
Jack had held off on finding a replacement for Gwen as long as he could. When they literally could not function anymore Gwen was eventually replaced by an overly chipper woman named Mackenzie Ryder, a former MI6 analyst. She’d wormed her way into their hearts and became a dear friend in her own way but the loss of Gwen Cooper was something that had never left the rest of the team. Those that had known her at any rate. It really hurt when he and Jack were eventually surrounded by a team who had never known her.
Gwen Elizabeth Cooper: 8 July 1978 – 5 March 2036. Solid life for a Torchwood employee. One more name to add to the list of friends – of family – lost.
As the memories stopped playing in Ianto’s mind, and he found himself in that familiar darkness, he watched as Gwen Cooper walked by him with a smile. “She walks in beauty like the night,” ran through Ianto’s head and Gwen chuckled as if she’d heard it. She held a hand out. “Time?” she asked.
“Not quite yet.” Ianto blinked, surprised at what he’d said as much as that he’d replied before even realising what the question was. “Have to sort a few things.”
Gwen nodded. “Whenever you like,” she said. “We’re in no rush.”
“I know.” He wanted to reach out to touch her but she vanished and he knew it was time. He shut his eyes and soon was dragged down that hallway of broken glass back to the living world.
= = = = = = = = = = =
When Ianto opened his eyes he locked eyes with a very annoyed looking medical technician. “You’ll need to resubmit your ID chip.”
“Why?” Ianto blinked, almost unsurprised to be dealing with bureaucracy upon resurrection. He’d woken up to stranger circumstances.
“Doesn’t say you’re a regenerate,” the technician lectured. “Gotta declare that sort of thing when you apply for these things. Grounds for invalidation of your citizenship, that is.” He winked. “Good thing you have a very persuasive partner.”
“I’ll be dead by the end of the month anyway,” Ianto grumbled as he accepted his replacement paperwork and signed it all off. If the technician had heard, which was debatable since Ianto was quite sure he had no ears, he made no sign as Ianto got up off the bed and headed out. He breezed through the waiting room, feeling the burn of the stares of all the families and friends of those who weren’t ‘licensed regenerates’ on that train. It was a mess in here and he felt those eyes following him all the way out of the hospital. He knew the key was to not make eye contact but he couldn’t help catching the eyes of a handful of them as he walked out unscathed from death yet again.
One of the last times, he promised himself, if not the the last time.
Jack was waiting with the transport as far as possible away from the main entrance. He didn’t get out to meet him. Ianto slipped into the passenger side without a word and Jack sped off at legal speed. Jack had become a much more careful driver in the past decade for some reason. As much as Ianto appreciated the idea, he missed that way his heart would tighten and his stomach would fall to his toes whenever Jack got in the car.
“What was that about?”
Ianto blinked, surprised that Jack had spoken. “What?” he asked.
“You heard me.”
“No, I mean what is ‘that’?”
Jack sighed. “I love you and I’ll be okay? That bit.”
Ianto shrugged. He knew what he had meant and so did Jack. There was no point. “Are you going?” Jack asked. “Is it time?”
“I don’t know,” Ianto admitted quietly. He wanted to go into greater detail but he was distracted by Gwen Cooper standing at a public transport stop with what appeared to be Rhys, Tegan, and Nigel. All four of them waved at him. He waggled his fingers back at them.
“Who are you waving at?” Jack demanded, frustrated that Ianto was not paying any attention to his concerns partly, but also a bit of worry there.
“Old friends,” was all Ianto said and Jack didn’t point out that Ianto didn’t have any friends that were alive aside from Jack. It was probably best that way, Ianto gathered. He spent enough time staring into space seeing people that had long gone into the black. Ianto found his thoughts turning to Mel Telson. She could see ghosts. She had seen him. Had she ever seen anyone else? She had never mentioned it but, then again, that wasn’t Mel Telson now was it?
“Where are you and who are you with now?” Jack asked. The sound of Jack’s voice yanking him back into the present with all the force of coming back to life. He was standing in the living room of their beach house. He had no recollection of the ride back or even walking in the door. This also was not the first time that Jack had asked this question of him. Sometimes it was nice since they got share memories of whomever Ianto was thinking of at the time. Other times Jack was angered at Ianto’s nostalgia, demanding that Ianto live in the here and now.
It was a reversal of roles that made Ianto laugh. He realised that it was out loud when Jack shook him. “You there?” he asked more forcefully. “Really?”
“Here now,” Ianto assured him. He caught Jack’s elbows and squeezed tight. “I’m here now.”
“For now,” Jack corrected. “You’re here for now is what you mean.”
“For now is all that matters.” That was an old turn of the phrase. A sentiment that they’d both had together and separately since day one, when Ianto was still mortal. “Nothing changes,” he told him. “No matter what happens.”
It was times like this, Ianto reflected as he led Jack to the bedroom, that he didn’t want to leave. Didn’t want to leave Jack alone. That being said the first thing that he had learned when he had come back the very first time was that he had to do things for himself and, it seemed, that dying was what he had to do for himself this go around.
As appealing as it sounded it was still a hard pill to swallow.