The sun was just coming up, casting the shadows of the small group of people standing on the deserted remains of Cardiff’s Roald Dahl Plas across the shattered paving slabs in front of them. Despite the sunshine, it was a bleak view; hardly surprising that there wasn’t another soul about to see it this early in the morning. What had once been a popular tourist attraction was now more apt to scare people away.
“So you’re tellin’ me Torchwood’s base has been down there all this time?” Andy asked, standing with Jack, Ianto, Gwen and Rhys at a safe distance from the massive crater.
“Yep!” Jack beamed proudly. “For more than a century.”
“Huh. Not lookin’ so good right now, is it? It’s a gigantic hole in the ground.” Andy stood on tiptoe and craned his neck, trying to see down below the surface, although he was too far away for the additional few inches in height to make any noticeable difference.
Jack shoved his hands deeper into the new greatcoat’s pockets, hunching his shoulders slightly, and threw a hurt look Andy’s way, not that the former PC noticed. “Well yeah, it is now, but it didn’t used to be,” he pointed out, sounding defensive. “It just needs a bit of work, that’s all. Trust me, before you know it, we’ll have it looking as good as new, maybe better.”
“A bit of work. Right.” Judging by what Andy could see, that was likely the understatement of the century; it went way beyond minor cosmetic damage. “What even happened? I heard there was a massive explosion; someone leave the gas on and light a match?”
“A black ops assassination team used Jack as a Trojan Horse,” Ianto said. “Stuck a bomb inside him and sent him home. The government wanted us all dead so we wouldn’t interfere with their plan to give the 456 everything they were demanding.” Ianto’s face was devoid of expression, but his anger was clearly audible. “Luckily we found out in time, so Gwen and I were able to get out before it went off, but Jack…” He trailed off, shuddering, a distant, haunted look in his eyes as he relived those awful moments. Had it really only been a few days ago?
“Fuck!” Andy looked suitably horrified. Then he frowned at Jack. “Hang on a mo… If the bomb was inside you when it went off, how can you be here now? Don’t tell me there’s more than one of you!”
“I can’t die,” Jack said with a shrug. “Or more accurately, I die, but I don’t stay dead. Coming back from being blown to bits is not an experience I’d care to repeat.”
“I can imagine.” Andy winced. “Or actually, no, I can’t, and I don’t want to. That’s just…” He glanced at Gwen. “They’re not just ‘aving me on, are they?”
Gwen smiled faintly and shook her head. “Nope, sorry, all true, and all part of the weirdness that’s Torchwood. You get used to it though. Sort of.”
“Not sure I want to.”
“Changing your mind about wanting to join the team?” Jack asked. “’Cause now’s the time to say so, before we waste time and resources training you.”
“Not that we have much in the way of resources right now,” Ianto muttered.
Andy stood up straighter. “Nope, not changin’ my mind. I can’t, not after what I was expected to do, takin’ innocent little kids from their parents to be handed over to a bunch of monsters. I know everyone was following orders from higher up, but it was wrong, and I can’t respect the kind of people who’d accept orders like that. Makes me feel dirty, what we were told to do, but we weren’t given much choice; obey or face trial for treason.”
“But you did the right thing in the end, Andy,” Gwen reminded him.
“Not that it did much good. You guys though, despite everything, you never gave up. You just kept fighting, doin’ the right thing. That’s the side I want to be on.”
“And we’re glad to have you.” Jack grinned, exuding confidence. “You too, Rhys; having you onboard with your talent for logistics and your HGV licence is gonna be a big help.”
Rhys puffed up with pride. “Oh aye? You’d better not just be sayin’ that to keep Gwen happy. I might not be field agent material, but I know how to make meself useful, you’ll see. Not sayin’ I’ll always agree with you, but I’ll do whatever I can to help.”
“I don’t doubt it. We’ll still need a couple more field agents, what with Gwen expecting, and a new medic, although I’ve already got someone in mind for that job.”
“Martha?” Ianto raised an eyebrow.
“Martha,” Jack agreed. “I’ll get in touch as soon as she’s back from her honeymoon, see if she’s ready to quit UNIT and join the good guys.”
“That’s alright then, at least we’ll have a team and a medic, even if we don’t have a base or any equipment,” Ianto commented, deadpan.
“You can be such a defeatist,” Jack accused.
“It’s called being realistic, Jack. The Hub’s not exactly habitable right now, and all our tech is buried down there, assuming any of it’s even salvageable.” He sighed. “I wish Tosh was here.”
Jack pulled his hands from his pockets and wrapped one arm around Ianto in a hug. “We all do. There’s not a day goes by that I don’t miss her, and Owen, but they wouldn’t want us to give up. We’ll figure things out. Lizzie is arranging for a construction crew from the Royal Engineers; they’ll clear the rubble and make it safe for us to salvage what we can. The Brigadier has come out of retirement to take control of UNIT in the interim, and he’s promised us weapons and tech. Should be a shipment arriving first thing tomorrow; that’ll get us operational. We just need somewhere to use as a temporary base.”
“I can tell you right now we’re not using my house,” Ianto said firmly.
“Or our flat,” Gwen cut in. “I’m not having Weevils housed in the spare room. That’s going to be the nursery.”
“Damn, there go my first and second choices,” Jack said, grinning. “Andy, mind if we use your place?”
Ianto punched him in the arm.
“Ow!” Jack pouted, making a show of rubbing his arm even though it had been barely more than a tap. “That was a joke!”
“Maybe it was supposed to be, but it wasn’t funny.”
“Boy, tough audience. Hey, did I ever tell you guys about--”
“Yes!” Gwen and Ianto chorused, cutting him off.
“You two suck the fun out of everything,” Jack huffed. “Fine, guess we’ll have to use the old storage warehouse.”
“Oh joy, another warehouse.” Ianto wasn’t alone in his lack of enthusiasm.
“Needs must,” Jack pointed out. “At least this time we won’t be living there, we all have somewhere else to go when we’re not working.”
“On the rare occasions that happens.” Ianto sighed. “I suppose we can make do for now. Not exactly ideal, but it’ll be a roof over our heads.”
Jack beamed at his rag-tag little group. “That’s the spirit!”
“Not much of one,” Andy commented.
“Don’t you start. We just have to make the best of what we’ve got until the Hub is rebuilt.”
Because it would be. This wasn’t the end; it was a new beginning. Torchwood would rise again.