Jack hadn’t been particularly happy when the TARDIS had shown up in the Hub unexpectedly in the middle of the night. A version of the Doctor he’d never seen before poked his head, adorned rather incongruously with a fez, out the door, beckoning Jack to join him inside. He’d approached cautiously, wondering what the Time Lord wanted from him this time.
Now, standing in the console room, he stared at the Doctor in disbelief, trying to digest what he’d just been told.
“You don’t think I’m wrong, or a freak?”
“No, Jack, you’re not wrong. In fact, you’re so right it almost hurts to look at you, but in a good way. My previous regenerations were shortsighted fools, I can only apologise for them. For me. Past me, not this me. This me hasn’t done anything I need to apologise for. Well, not to you anyway. At least, not yet. Unless I have in your past and my future. Do I need to apologise?
“No, Doctor. And thank you.”
“For saying I’m not wrong.”
The Doctor waved his hand dismissively.
“Don’t mention it. Take it from me, you’re definitely not wrong, but you’re not a hundred percent right yet either. You’re incomplete.”
Jack was struggling to keep up.
“I don’t understand.”
“You’re a fixed point, an instant of complete stability in the universe, which is good. But there’s only one of you, so you tip the universe just a little off balance, which is why my earlier selves mistakenly thought you were wrong. There need to be two of you to balance things properly.”
“There needs to be another me?”
“NO! No no no, the universe couldn’t handle more than one Jack Harkness, it would probably implode! No, we don’t need another you, but there does need to be another fixed point, so the two of you can sort of…” the Doctor waved his hands around, “orbit each other, keep each other in balance. The yin to your yang, if you like. But your other half hasn’t been created yet.”
“By ‘other half’, what do you mean, like a soul mate?”
“But my soul mate doesn’t exist yet.” Jack sighed heavily. For a moment, he’d hoped, but…
“Oh, no, he exists! He just isn’t immortal yet. That had to wait until he was old enough and in perfect health. After all, anytime he gets killed, he’ll reset physically to the condition he was in when he became immortal, just as you do. Obviously it wouldn’t do to make him a fixed point while he’s hung over, or has the sniffles, or broken bones. Imagine how inconvenient that would be!”
Jack winced, imagining that. Thank goodness he’d been in great shape right up until he’d been exterminated.
“You keep saying ‘he’, so I’m guessing my soul mate is a guy. Have I met him yet?”
The Doctor stared at Jack and shook his head in disappointment.
“Jack, Jack, I thought you were smarter than this! Of course you’ve met him! If you’re going to be stuck with someone for eternity, the universe isn’t going to take any chances with compatibility issues. It would do no good at all if you were stuck with someone you couldn’t stand. In a way, you picked your own soul mate. There have been a number of potential candidates since you became a fixed point, but for one reason or another, they didn’t work out. Only one has stayed the distance, his faith in you never faltering. He’s proved he can handle the job of keeping you in line.” The Doctor’s grin nearly split his face in half. “Takes a rare kind of man to be able to do that! Your Mr Jones is one of a kind.”
Jack felt light-headed, his heart was pounding so hard
“Ianto is my soul mate?” he whispered.
The Doctor nodded, still beaming.
“Does he know?”
“The Doctor took the liberty of informing me.”
Jack spun around to see Ianto standing in the doorway that led further into the TARDIS.
“He thought it wise not to get anyone’s hopes up, just in case he was wrong.”
“The TARDIS has checked him over and confirmed he’s the one,” the Doctor added. “Now all that’s left is for Mr Jones to accept his destiny.”
Ianto looked at the Doctor and nodded.
“Then I accept.” He stepped towards Jack and took his lover’s hands. “If you’ll have me. Just bear in mind, once this is done there’s no going back. You’ll be stuck with me forever.”
Jack’s face lit up with the most dazzling smile Ianto had ever seen, which, considering Jack’s usual thousand watt smiles, was saying something.
“I can live with that. In fact, I can’t think of anything that would make me happier. What about you? Think you can put up with me for eternity? I know I’m not the easiest person to live with…”
Ianto rolled his eyes.
“I believe I’ll stand a better chance of surviving the experience as an immortal,” he teased, before turning serious. “Most Torchwood operatives don’t make it to thirty; I’ve known since I became a field agent that I could be killed any time, and what scared me the most was the thought of leaving you alone. You’ve lost so many lovers in your life, there’s nothing I wouldn’t do to spare you that pain. I know it won’t be easy being immortal, I’ll stay the same while my family and friends grow old and die, but I can live with that because I know I won’t be alone, and neither will you. Not anymore.”
“I can’t believe you’re willing to give up so much, just for me. Thank you,” Jack whispered.
“I think in the long run, I’ll be gaining far more than I stand to lose,” Ianto smiled. He turned to the Doctor. “What do I have to do?”
“Both of you stand over there.” The Doctor pointed to where he wanted them. “You know, this is rather like a wedding in a way!”
“Does that mean I can kiss the groom?” Jack smirked.
“Go ahead if you want, it won’t interfere with anything.”
Jack didn’t need telling twice. He swept Ianto into his arms, planting a passionate kiss on his lips just as the heart of the TARDIS opened a crack, bathing them both in the golden glow of the Time Vortex.
Ianto could feel it, just as he had when Jack had brought him back with a kiss after the cyberwoman had killed him, but more, stronger, spreading through every cell in his body until he felt sure that he must be glowing like a light bulb.
Distantly, he heard the Doctor announcing, “I now pronounce you Fixed Points in time, you may kiss the… Oh, you’re already doing that. Carry on, let me know when you’re done.”
The golden glow faded, yet Ianto knew it was still inside him, just as it was in Jack. He smiled against Jack’s lips and felt Jack smile in return.
Everything had changed, but at the same time, nothing had. He and Jack were still together and still Torchwood; the only difference was that they no longer had to fear the future, because no matter what happened, they’d be facing it side by side.