“How do you feel?” Jack asked, coming to stand beside his lover. It wasn’t as if this had been planned, and honestly neither of them had even believed it was possible, and yet here they were…
Understandably Ianto was still reeling from the news a bit, it was a lot to take in, but he knew it changed things significantly.
“I feel… I don’t know, still a bit stunned to be honest, but not in a bad way.”
“You know this isn’t something I would ever have wished on you…”
“Relax, Jack; I have no regrets, it just might take me a little while to get used to. What matters is that I’m alive, and that’s a whole lot better than the alternative.”
Things had all been a bit of a blur since first Jack and then Ianto had revived in the makeshift morgue, surrounded by bodies covered with red sheets, people who hadn’t been as lucky as he had and would never wake up again.
Until now there hadn’t been time for them to give much thought to what Ianto’s unexpected return from the dead meant for him; they’d been too busy dealing with the 456 to spare a thought for anything else.
But now it was over, the aliens destroyed, and the children of earth saved from a fate even worse than death. Those who had attempted to prevent Torchwood from doing their job, a number of high-ranking UNIT officers and the former Prime Minister among them, were already behind bars, awaiting trial. A little while ago, in a private ceremony, the Queen had awarded Jack, Ianto, Gwen, and even Rhys commendations for service above and beyond the call of duty, thanking them personally for their courage and determination in eliminating the alien threat. Now they were finally free to return to Cardiff, with Her Majesty’s assurance that the Hub would be rebuilt. It would take a while so they’d need to find themselves a temporary base of operations, but Torchwood Three owned several old warehouses not too far from the bay and one of those would do well enough for the time being.
“So you’re not mad at me?” Jack asked, just to be certain.
“Why would I be? I know it won’t always be easy, watching the people I know and love grow old and die while I never age, but I’ll be okay; we have other, so neither of us will ever have to be alone again unless we want to be.”
“There is that,” Jack agreed with a smile. “Even though I would never have wished immortality on you, I can’t say I’m sorry it’s happened.”
“Good, because you shouldn’t be sorry; I’m not. If I’d been given the choice, I would have jumped at the chance. I always used to worry about dying and leaving you all alone, because I’ve seen what it does to you every time you lose someone you care about. I wanted to be there for you, always, and now my wish has been granted. No one should have to go through eternity alone, least of all you.”
Jack smiled softly. “I really don’t deserve you.”
“Yes, you do. You’re a hero; you even have a medal now to prove it.”
“So do you.”
“And so do Rhys and Gwen. We did good.”
“We did, but I still feel bad about the kid.”
“I know, so do I, what he must have gone through I can’t begin to imagine, but you know as well as I do that we couldn’t have saved him, not after what the 456 did to him. His death saved the lives of so many others; at least his suffering is over now and he can rest in peace. Besides, if it hadn’t been him it would have been some other child, perhaps one who would otherwise have lived. Better to sacrifice one who was already dying.”
Jack nodded. “It was a good idea of yours to use him to transmit the constructive wave.”
“He was the logical choice since he was already wired in to the 456’s technology.”
“I know; I just wish we could’ve saved them all. It’s my fault they were taken in the first place.”
“Don’t put it all on yourself, Jack. There were other people involved; you were just following orders. If it hadn’t been you they would’ve found somebody else to do their dirty work for them.”
Jack’s shoulders slumped. “I’ve tried telling myself that. Never really helps.”
“Some day it will. Someday you’ll believe it.”
Their conversation was interrupted by the arrival of Rhys and Gwen. “Everything alright?” Jack asked, looking from one to the other.
“The doc says mother and baby are both fine,” Rhys said, arm around Gwen’s shoulders and a proud smile on his face. “Never thought I’d ever become a dad, but now…”
“Life can surprise you when you least expect it,” Ianto agreed.
“So what now?” Gwen wanted to know.
“Now we go back to Cardiff; we still have a Rift to watch over. Work will start on excavating the Hub day after tomorrow. Ianto locked down the lower levels so with luck everything below the main work area should be more or less intact. It’ll take a few months to get it shipshape again, but Lizzie’s promised we’ll have whatever help we need, and she’s authorised me to hire four more personnel; a medic, a tech expert, and two new field agents. We’re going to need them; as of now, Gwen, you’re relieved of fieldwork.”
“Don’t be ridiculous, Jack! I can still work; I’m pregnant, not sick!”
“And you will still work, just not in the field. We’re not putting your baby at risk, Gwen; it’s a miracle all of us came through the last week or so alive so let’s not press our luck.”
“He’s right love.” Rhys threw Jack a look of gratitude. “We’ve been lucky so far, but you can’t keep puttin’ yourself in harm’s way, not now.”
“Well alright then, but only until after the baby’s born,” Gwen said firmly.
“We can discuss it again then; you may find you feel differently once your baby’s here. In the meantime, we should get on the road.” Jack gestured towards a familiar black vehicle that was just pulling up. “Turns out Johnson’s squad were the ones who had it stolen. Paid some locals to sneak it off the estate, loaded it into the back of a truck, and brought it to London, effectively denying us access to both the equipment inside it, and the onboard computers.”
Ianto barely heard, he was already checking the SUV over, making sure it hadn’t been damaged. Amazingly it looked fine, not a scratch on it. “I’m driving!” he said firmly.
“Whatever you say,” Jack agreed with a smile.
“No arguments?” Ianto raised a sceptical eyebrow.
“Nope!” Jack had already made up his mind to let Ianto have whatever he wanted; considering the way he’d been treating his lover just before the children started chanting, it was the least he could do. He had a lot to make up for.
“Alright then; let’s go home.” Ianto slid behind the steering wheel, a satisfied smile on his face, as the others settled into their seats.
The drive back to Cardiff was uneventful; the four of them made good use of the time it took to go over what equipment they had squirreled away, and what they’d need to requisition from UNIT for their temporary base.
After their sojourn in England’s capital it felt good to be back on home ground. Dropping Gwen and Rhys back at their flat, Ianto drove to his own, parking outside. It was hardly more than a week since he’d last been there, but with everything that had happened it seemed more like a year.
“Home sweet home!” he said cheerfully. While he’d been running for his life he’d been sure he’d never see his home again. Now, with the Hub and Jack’s bunker reduced to a crater, he and Jack would be living here together. It was about time. “I hope Agent Johnson’s lot didn’t leave too much of a mess when they were looking for me.”
“If they did, we’ll just book into a hotel for the night and sort it out tomorrow,” Jack assured him.
“Fair enough, but if they broke my coffee machine, heads will roll.” Ianto hadn’t had a decent coffee since they’d all been forced to go on the run.
Thankfully the coffee machine and Ianto’s supply of beans were still intact, and although the search for clues to where he might have gone had been thorough, the mess wasn’t as bad as he’d been anticipating. Nothing had been wantonly destroyed, but the place would still need a thorough clean. Ianto decided that could wait until morning; right now all he wanted was a restorative cup of coffee, and then… there was something else he needed to do. He set about getting his favourite beverage brewing.
A little while later, sitting with Jack on the sofa, both of them sipping from steaming mugs of his finest blend, Ianto broached the subject that had been hovering in the back of his mind since he’d come back to life on the floor of Thames House.
“As soon as I’ve finished this I need to go and check on my sister and the kids.”
“Of course you do. Would you rather go alone or do you want me to come with you?”
“You can come if you like, it’s about time you met Rhi, just… I don’t want you to feel like you have to.”
“I’ll come then.” Jack studied Ianto’s expression. “What?”
“How do I tell her I’m never going to die? Should I even tell her? She only just found out I’ve got a boyfriend and I work for Torchwood.”
“Do you want to tell her?”
“I don’t know. Maybe. But… what if she reacts like your daughter and doesn’t want me around her and the kids?”
“She won’t, Ianto. Alice’s mother turned her against me as some sort of twisted revenge, I still don’t really understand why. Maybe Lucia thought she was protecting our daughter, that Alice would be safer if she had nothing to do with me. Maybe she was right; the fact that she’s my daughter put her and Stephen in danger.”
“And being my family could put Rhiannon and the kids in danger. Eventually people are going to start realising I’m not getting older, and then what?”
“By then Torchwood will probably be out in the open; after everything that’s just happened maybe we already are. If you want to tell her I’m not going to stop you. Why not play it by ear? I’ll back you up whatever you decide.”
Ianto nodded. “That would probably be the most sensible approach; thanks, Jack.”
“Any time. I’m here for you, always.”
“Same here. Literally.” Ianto gave a wry smile.
Finishing their coffee, they left the mugs in the kitchen to wash later and headed for Newport in the SUV. If anyone tried to steal it this time they wouldn’t get anywhere; Her Majesty had arranged to have an immobiliser fitted once Torchwood’s official vehicle had been retrieved from where Agent Johnson’s people had hidden it. Now they’d got it back Ianto didn’t intend to lose it again; he’d felt bad enough about that the first time.
Ianto hadn’t called his sister to say he was coming, he hadn’t wanted to fend off questions; whatever he decided to say to her would be best said in person. Nevertheless the door opened the moment he rang the bell and there she was, throwing her arms around him and squeezing as tightly as she could. “Ianto! Oh my God, I was so scared, I thought I’d never see you again!”
Right then Ianto knew he couldn’t tell her everything, not just yet. If he told her he was immortal now, he’d have to tell her how he knew. He’d have to tell her he’d died, that the 456 had killed him, and he couldn’t do that to her, not when she’d been through so much the past few days trying to protect her family. She was strong and she was tough, more than people gave her credit for being, but to put any more weight on her shoulders while she was still trying to come to terms with recent events might well break her.
“Never going to happen, Rhi; I’m fine, just a few minor scratches. How about you and the kids, are you all okay?”
“I think so. David’s still a bit clingy, but Mica… It’s like she’s already forgotten; you’d think nothing had happened.”
“She’s resilient, like her mam. Can I see them?”
“Oh, of course! I’m sorry; I don’t know where my head is at, keeping you standing on the doorstep like this! Come on in.” She frowned, noticing Jack for the first time. “And who’s this?”
“This would be Jack.”
“That’s him? Your Jack, your boss slash boyfriend? Susan was right; he’s bloody gorgeous!” Rhiannon said, looking Jack appreciatively up and down.
“He knows.” Ianto followed his sister, leading Jack inside the house and closing the door behind him. The enemy was gone, defeated, and although there were bound to be other battles in the future with other dangerous enemies, right now Ianto was with his family and all was as good as it could be in his little corner of the universe. He silently prayed it would stay that way, at least for a little while.