Turn Left, Torchwood

Where Everything Changes

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Turn Left, Captain Jack Harkness
Title: Turn Left, Captain Jack Harkness
Author: teachwriteslash for the Turn Left, Torchwood Project
Rating: PG-13
Notes: A retelling of Torchwood Series 1, Episode 12 where different decisions are made. Part of the turnleft_tw Challenge.
Reminder: Project participants, don't leave any telling information in comments.

Previously: Combat

Jack tried to avoid scowling as he steered the SUV through traffic. “Where were the spikes again?” he asked his passenger.

Ianto consulted his PDA. “Old dance hall, according to Tosh.” He listened to the Comm. “She says workers have been prepping it for a remodel and have heard music, laughter. Someone called the police. Kathy Swanson called us. If it’s strange, call Torchwood. I suppose calling Yvette and Karl never occurred to them.” Ianto had spent way too much time watching television while he recuperated from his injuries at the hands of the Cannibals. ‘Most Haunted’ had been a particular favourite. He wondered how many so-called ghosts were actually aliens.

“What?” Jack looked confused. “What the hell is that?”

“If you have to ask, it would take me much longer to explain than the drive,” the younger man sighed. “Tosh says the spikes are irregular. We might not have even noticed them without the police report.”

“Hmmmph,” the Captain growled, still not at all pleased at taking Ianto back out on a full-fledged field assignment. The Welshman was mostly recovered, but still prone to overdoing it – as he proved when they had chased the Weevil and stopped the fight club a couple of weeks before. But with Owen still recuperating from his injuries and Tosh needing to run the data they were getting on the spikes through mainframe, Jack had been forced to bring Ianto with him. He knew he needed to find a replacement for Gwen, but despite the recent upheavals his team worked well together. He did not want to disrupt that.

The Captain’s hovering was starting to chafe on Ianto. They’d had a silent battle of wills when the Welshman handed Jack his coat and Jack handed him his cane. Ianto didn’t really need it anymore, except for when he over did it.

“We don’t know how long we’ll have to prowl through that place,” Jack had told him. “We need as many readings as we can get for Tosh. This might give her enough for the program she’s been working on.”

In addition to her prediction program, Tosh was working on a way to control opening and closing the Rift based on frequencies. If something living came through, she theorised that the frequency of the spike might allow them to return it to where it came from. Faced with that argument, Ianto had relented, albeit reluctantly.
Now, as they approached the derelict building and saw its façade plastered with old concert bills and more recent political posters urging people to ‘Vote Saxon’, Jack made another attempt to control the situation. “You can take readings from the SUV while I inspect the building. It looks unstable. It’ll be safer for me and your readings …”

“Sorry, Jack,” Tosh interrupted. She’d heard everything over the Comm; she knew Ianto had to be stewing. “I need readings from both of you from inside to calibrate this.”

“Great,” Jack muttered as he parked the SUV. “Stay close to me,” he told Ianto. “Rift spikes make me nervous.”
“Not fond of them either,” Ianto muttered, grabbing his cane as an afterthought just to avoid a showdown with Jack.

Inside the dance hall, they could see echoes of the former grandeur despite the ravages of the years. “Imagine it,” Jack sighed, running his hand over the woodwork. “1941. Height of the Cardiff Blitz. America’s not in the war yet, so England stands alone. Fortress Britain, they called it. Young men and women dancing, singing, drinking, and loving like it was their last night on Earth.”

“You sound like you were there,” Ianto observed casually, taking a series of readings.

“I was. Twice,” Jack responded as he placed a couple of the sensors Tosh had asked for. “The first time, I was just passing through. The second, I did my bit for King and Country; served in the RAF and worked my way up to Group Captain.”

Ianto raised an eyebrow. “Honestly?” he asked, eyeing Jack’s coat.

“What?” Jack sounded a bit hurt. “Did you think these were just for show?”

“Really?” Ianto said, pausing as Jack nodded. “I know you served. I’ve seen the files, but I wasn’t sure about the rank. It suits you, though.”

“I carried it before I’d earned it,” Jack admitted. “But it’s legitimate now.”

Nodding, Ianto moved off to place some more sensors. They worked in silence for several minutes, occasionally checking in with Tosh, who was directing where to place the monitoring devices. They were just about done when Jack straightened suddenly. “Did you hear that?” he demanded.

“Hear what?” Ianto asked, frowning as he listened. The faint sounds floated to him through the air. “That sounds like music,” he stated.

“And people,” Jack added, drawing his Webley. “Stay here.”

“Like hell,” Ianto muttered. “Separating is a bad idea. Don’t you ever watch the films at my place?”

“Why?” Jack demanded as they moved towards the source of the noise. “The view of other things is better.”

Muttering about harassment, Ianto followed Jack down a hallway into what must have once been the main ballroom. They had barely crossed through the doorway when Ianto heard the music and noise increase. Suddenly, they were surrounded by the sights and sounds of a very real party – albeit clearly one from nearly seven decades before. “Jack,” he whispered. “Do you see this?”

“Yeah,” Jack responded, somewhat awe-struck. “Isn’t it gorgeous? Feel the energy. Listen to the music. Everyone is so alive.”

“In a metaphorical sense at least,” Ianto replied, consulting his PDA. The device was not picking up much. Whatever had manifested around them was wreaking havoc with it. The sensors needed to re-calibrate. “Tosh,” he called over the Comm. “We have a definite manifestation of temporal disturbances here. Are you getting any readings?” He tapped his earwig again but all he got was static. “Tosh?” When there was no reply, he turned to Jack, who seemed mesmerised by the scene in front of them. “I can’t contact the Hub.”

Jack tapped his own Comm., frowning when he got no reply. “I think we should get out of here,” he told Ianto. “Come back with Tosh and more equipment. Owen can man the Hub.”

“Yeah,” Ianto agreed, following the Captain back down the hall towards the doors. Both of them exchanged looks of concern when they noticed the shoddy rooms they had passed through moments before looked pristine and were full of people.

“Outside,” Jack ordered, breaking into a trot. “We need to go back through the opening.”

Ianto followed his Captain through the door, and then stopped short. Rather than the deserted afternoon street they had left, it was nighttime. There were a few cars – 1940s models – about, and all the windows nearby were covered in blackout curtains.

“Fuck,” Jack swore, noticing posters advertising a ‘Kiss the Boys Goodbye Dance’ in April of 1941. “I think we have a problem.”

“Understatement,” Ianto replied, feeling his stomach lurch. From some things Jack had said, time travel wasn’t new to him; but, for Ianto, being out of his element was not a welcome experience.

“Let’s get back inside,” Jack said. “We’ll sort this.” He noticed Ianto’s look of concern and started to say something when air raid sirens began to wail all around them.

“That can’t be good,” Ianto sighed.

“Inside, now,” Jack directed him sharply. “Use the cane,” he whispered as they returned to the building to find the occupants relatively unfazed by the sirens. “It’ll explain why you aren’t in uniform and hopefully keep you out of trouble. Stay close.”

Ianto was about to reply that he was not planning on exploring when an oily voice called out, “Gentlemen, I’m Billis Manger, the proprietor. It’s been suggested we move to the basement; however, most of our guests are choosing to ignore that suggestion.”

“Because we know where Gerry is tonight,” an American voice called out. “And it ain’t over Cardiff.”

“Of course, sir,” Manger said, giving a small bow before retreating.

The American, who wore the dress uniform of a Captain, directed a smile towards Jack and Ianto. “Ignore him. He’s a nattering old woman. I haven’t seen you two around here. New to the area?”

“Just passing through,” Jack said smoothly. Something about this man was familiar.

“Captain Jack Harkness, 133 Squadron,” the man introduced himself.

Oh, God, Jack thought, feeling Ianto stiffen beside him. “Captain James Harper. My associate, Ianto Jones,” he replied easily, sticking out his hand and using the name he had when he’d actually served in the Second World War. When he’d signed up he had known couldn’t use ‘Jack Harkness’; as far as the RAF were concerned the name was already taken, until . . .

His train of thought was interrupted by a familiar voice, “Oh my God!”

Jack and Ianto turned as one, coming face to face with Gwen Cooper.

“Gwen!” Jack called out, hugging her tightly. Pulling her close, he whispered, “Call me James Harper. Please, for Ianto’s sake. He won’t be safe if they think I’m impersonating an officer. I’ll explain.” He broke the hug with a smile. “It’s been ages! Look at you!”

Gwen appeared more slender than he remembered. There were fine lines around her eyes. Her hair was shorter than she’d worn it in the Twenty-First Century, and she wore a WAFF Uniform. “You look the same, Jack,” she muttered too quiet for anyone else to hear, before turning to Ianto. “How have you been, Ianto?”

“Passable,” Ianto replied, kissing her cheek.

“You all know each other?” the real Captain Jack demanded, looking surprised.

“We worked together before the war,” Jack lied smoothly, his conman skills coming back to him easily.

“I thought you were a pilot?” Captain Jack asked Gwen with a frown.

“Oh, she was,” Jack assured him. “So was I. Ianto here kept us all organised. Still does, actually.”

Gwen looked grateful and gave Jack a small nod. “Sweetheart,” she said to the Captain. “I haven’t seen James and Ianto in ages – since before Dunkirk. Could you get us all something to drink?”

“Of course!” the Captain responded with a smile. “Anything for the future Mrs. Harkness,” he added, kissing her hand. He turned to Jack and Ianto with a saucy grin. “Asked her to marry me tonight and damned if she didn’t say yes. This round’s on me. Captain, I bet you’re a bourbon man. Most of us are.” Hiding a grimace, Jack nodded as the Captain turned to Ianto. “Beer, Mr. Jones?” he asked, eyes alighting briefly on the cane. “Or something stronger?”

“Beer is fine,” Ianto replied, trying not to blush at the suggestion he might want alcohol for the pain. He understood what Jack was saying earlier. An able-bodied man out of uniform in 1941 would draw unwanted attention. No one would think twice about questioning an injured one; most would assume he’d been hurt in the failed attempt to halt the Nazi’s progress across Europe.

When the Captain left, Gwen turned to Jack and Ianto. “We have to talk,” she hissed. “Starting with why you,” she thrust a finger against Jack’s chest, “have my fiancé’s name!”

“I promised, I’ll explain,” Jack said again, fixing her with a firm glare. “And so will you.”

Gwen had the grace to blush. “I did what I had to, Jack.”

“James,” the Captain reminded her sharply. “It could go very badly for all of us if I’m exposed. Find us a quiet place to talk. I need a moment with Ianto.”

Responding to the fury rolling off the Captain, Gwen went to do his bidding. He turned to Ianto and sighed, “I’m sorry,” he said. “I never wanted you to find out this way. I’d prefer to tell you alone, but… We can’t risk her doing something stupid.”

“No, we can’t,” Ianto said shakily, the enormity of their predicament hitting him. “Hell, Jack- James- we’re in the middle of World War II, in Wales, during the Battle of Britain. We have bigger issues than your, admittedly, murky past. My parents haven’t even been born yet. I am so far out of my element that I don’t know where to start.”

Jack glanced around to make sure they weren’t being observed. He hadn’t forgotten how things were for two men in any sort of physical relationship during this time. He didn’t care for himself, but he was not putting Ianto at further risk. When he was certain they were alone, he grabbed the younger man’s hand and briefly pressed his lips to the knuckles. “I promise whatever happens, I’ll take care of you. Trust me?”

“You know I do,” Ianto replied, wondering why the Captain’s earlier hovering had rankled so much but this gesture just made him feel safe. “Let’s go talk to Gwen.”

“Before we do, I need you to promise me something,” Jack said seriously. “Please.”

“What is it?” Ianto asked warily.

“When I tell you and Gwen my story, remember I’m not that man anymore,” Jack nearly begged.

Ianto gave a hollow laugh. “I have a feeling you’ve been a great many people, Captain,” he replied, and then met Jack’s gaze. “People can change. I know that better than anyone.” Nodding, Jack led them over to where Gwen had secured a small, corner table.

“Okay,” Jack began once he ascertained that the real Captain was still queued up at the bar and likely to be for some time. The crowd seemed to be bent on drowning out the impending air raid with music, song, and drink. “You first,” he said to Gwen. “What the hell were you thinking, flying off with Diane?”

“That I wanted to take a chance and live,” Gwen snarled. “I’d been in a holding pattern since I first found out about Torchwood. I didn’t trust my own mind. I lost my job, my home, and Rhys. Even getting into Torchwood turned out not to be what I thought it would. Diane seemed so sure of herself and what she wanted. I needed that.”

“You could have been killed or worse,” Jack told her. “Never mess with the Rift. How long have you been here?”

“We landed in 1937,” Gwen told him. “Diane knew what was coming and how to avoid her present self. I knew enough to keep us out of the hands of Torchwood. Diane called in a favour or two and got us on with an air cargo outfit in Scotland. She taught me to fly, so that, when the war came, I was ready to do my bit helping to ferry planes. We had a good life,” she added wistfully.

Jack and Ianto exchanged glances. Clearly their former colleague’s relationship with Diane had been more than platonic. “What happened?” the Captain prompted.

“Her plane went down over the Channel during the Dunkirk evacuation,” Gwen told them. “I wasn’t experienced enough to be flying, so I was helping ferry men from the boats. I tried to convince myself that the Rift had taken her, but two other pilots saw her spin in. They found her body on the beachhead a week after the evacuation.”

“I’m sorry,” Ianto told her, covering her hand with his as she brushed at her tears.

“Thanks,” Gwen replied. “I asked for a transfer, was sent here to Cardiff and started hearing about a Captain Jack Harkness.” She eyed Jack. “At first, I thought it had to be Torchwood; that maybe they had a Captain Jack in every generation like Shamu or Lassie.”

“Who?” Jack looked confused.

“Killer Whale. Heroic collie. I’ll explain later,” Ianto assured him. “Go on, Gwen.”

“I gave him a wide berth until I saw him one day,” Gwen said. “I knew he wasn’t Torchwood. There was just something about him. He … he saw me.” Her eyes shone with love. “Now, what about you?” she asked Jack. “Why do you have his name?”

“I stole it,” Jack told her, glancing at Ianto; silently begging him to remember his earlier promise. “I’m not from the Twenty-First Century, Gwen. I’m a time traveller and I used to be a con man. The first time I was in 1941, I was running a scam. I needed a name that would open doors. His did. When I moved on, I just kept it. It’s been my name for so long…” He looked from one Welsh face to the other. “Ianto knows this. Something happened to me a long time ago, and now I can’t die. I barely age. I’ve lived for nearly two centuries; most of that as Captain Jack Harkness. I’ve spent the last century plus working for Torchwood. I’m not the man I was.” The last part was said more to Ianto than Gwen.

“We’ve all changed, Jack,” Gwen sighed. “Back in Cardiff, the woman I was would not have handled this well. I would have been morally outraged or something. I’m not that woman. I’ve lied; you know that, but no more. My Jack knows I’m from the Twenty-First Century, and he knows about Diane. It took him a while to accept it, but now it doesn’t matter. We’re getting married as soon as we can. Once the war is over, we’ll start a little airfreight company – I have money Diane left me – and maybe a family. Until then, I do my bit for the war effort. I do good work, and I’m happy. I can’t begrudge you making a life for yourself when I have.”

“Gwen,” Ianto began gently. “You can’t stay here. You know too much. You could change history. You might have already. Tosh and Owen have to be working on a way to get us home. When they sort it, you have to come with us.”

“No,” Gwen said firmly. “I have a life here. I’m in love with a wonderful man who is everything I’ve ever dreamt of. I’m staying.”

“May I take a picture?” a voice said before Jack or Ianto could respond. The three of them looked up to see Bilis Manger handling a large camera. He snapped a shot of Jack and Ianto and a separate one of Gwen before any of them could say anything. As they blinked away the spots from the flash, the little man vanished into the crowd.

“I don’t trust him,” Ianto muttered. “He keeps turning up. I wonder…”

“Yeah,” Jack replied, and then noticed the real Captain heading for them. “Not a word about any of this,” he warned Gwen, who nodded. “Let me help you there,” he said cheerily, standing to relieve the Captain of his and Ianto’s drinks.

For a while, the four of them just talked. Ianto and Jack let Gwen lead the conversation, so they could hear all about her time in the past. They managed to slip in veiled references to Tosh, Owen, and Andy Davidson to let the former PC know they were okay.

Gwen hesitated at one point, and then looked directly at Ianto. “Do you remember my friend Rhys? How is he?”
Ianto looked at Jack, who nodded. “He had a bit of a rough time of it after the plane accident,” the Welshman replied. “We looked out for him. The right medication fixed things up for him.”

Gwen nodded with her throat tight. They’d Retconned Rhys. Part of her had hoped they would; she’d hurt him, and she didn’t want to think of him in pain.

“Say, that’s our song,” the real Captain said as the strains of ‘We’ll Meet Again’ filled the hall. He stood and held out his hand to Gwen, who smiled then looked hesitantly at Jack and Ianto.

“Sorry,” she said. “He ships out tomorrow, so…”

Jack nodded, knowing full well that the man would be leaving in the morning and what would happen afterwards. He knew everything about him. “Have fun, kids,” he said with a small salute before turning to Ianto. “You okay?”

“Yeah,” Ianto replied. “I meant what I said. I know about being a different man – making different choices. The man you were – that’s not who you are.”

Jack nodded slowly. “Thank you.” He wanted desperately to kiss him, but he wouldn’t risk it. “Manger bears watching,” he said, shifting the focus back to business. “Something is… I can’t put my finger on it.”

“It feels like we should be doing something,” Ianto muttered. “I’ve been sneaking looks at my PDA. I’m getting readings, but nothing that resembles what happened when we were pulled here. If we could communicate with Tosh and Owen…”

“We can’t,” Jack insisted. “We have to be very careful. This time period is a focal point in history. Even small changes could create a massive temporal ripple.”

“We could leave a message for them somewhere,” Ianto suggested.

“No,” Jack shook his head. “What if someone else found it? Even if we made it completely innocuous, what if they stopped to read it, were delayed by a couple of minutes, and got in an accident they shouldn’t have. It’s too dicey. For now, we sit here, drink, listen to music, and watch Gwen dance with the love of her life. Tosh and Owen will get us back. I picked them; they’re good.”

“And if they don’t?” Ianto wondered.

“We’ll know tonight,” Jack assured him. “It has to happen here and now, or it won’t. If morning comes, and we’re still here we’ll have to make some decisions. Remember what I said; I’ll look out for you.”

“I know,” Ianto replied, glancing up as he heard Gwen laughing. He’d never seen her look so happy. “We’re going to have a tough time convincing her to return with us.”

“That’s why we’re not going to even try,” Jack replied. “Gwen is staying right here with her Captain Jack Harkness.”

Ianto stared at the other man, mouth open, for several seconds. “Are you mad?” he finally whispered. “She doesn’t belong in this time. I’m not the expert, clearly; but, from what you just said about this time period being a focal point of history, how do we risk letting Gwen alter history when we can prevent it?”

“Because we can’t,” Jack muttered. “I’ve seen the work Tosh is doing with manipulating the Rift. Her calculations are very precise. She only knows we’re here. She’ll be calibrating based on the readings she took when we were pulled through. Two people went; only two can go back.”

“Fuck,” Ianto muttered, glancing at where Gwen was dancing. “It’s bloody World War II, Jack. We can’t leave her in the middle of it. She’s a civilian now. I’m not as far anyone here knows. I could stay and do my bit for the war effort, then when it’s over go to Torchwood Three in this time. They could freeze me. You can wake me up as soon as…”

“No,” Jack responded definitively. “Gwen’s set in this timeline. You’re not. Having you here risks changing history far more. If anyone besides her is going to stay, it’s me. I can hide out somewhere; after all, what’s another sixty-five years? I could meet you right at the dance hall, as if I’d never been gone.”

“Okay, again, I’m not the expert,” Ianto repeated. “But, from what you’ve said, there are already two of you around in this time period. If you stay, they’ll be three. I can’t imagine it wouldn’t be risking a huge paradox, even if you hid in a cave. Besides, I can’t see you surviving in a cave,” he concluded, smirking at the Captain. He glanced at Gwen again. “Taking her back is next to impossible, if what you say is true, and it’s not like she wants to go. She’s happy with her Captain. You’re right, we should let her stay.”

“I don’t think it’s about letting,” Jack muttered as he too watched the couple dance. “Look at them. She’s… that’s love. It’s undeniable.”

“Yeah,” Ianto said. “At least we can tell Owen and Tosh she’s happy. As furious as they were, they were worried, too.”

“We all were,” Jack admitted. He smiled in memory as the song changed to ‘Moonlight Serenade’. “Dance with me?” he whispered to Ianto.

“It’s 1941!” Ianto reminded Jack. “I doubt going to prison for buggery will improve our current situation.”

“Trust me,” Jack whispered, pulling Ianto to his feet and leading him to a small, curtained alcove he’d spotted just behind the table. He closed the drapes, and then wrapped his arms around his lover as they swayed to the music.

“I don’t think we’ve ever danced before,” Ianto observed after several minutes, slowly relaxing in Jack’s embrace.

“I’ve been remiss,” the Captain admitted, looking a bit wistful. “At the height of the London Blitz in the middle of a German air raid, I danced to this with a beautiful blonde who changed my life. I’ve never forgotten that; I’ll never forget this either.”

“You’re a sentimental fool,” Ianto whispered, then placed a strong hand at the back of Jack’s head and pulled him into a deep, slow kiss. His tongue parted the Captain’s lips, probing gently and tracing the contours of Jack’s mouth. He felt a sigh – part pleasure and part contentment – escape from the other man. They lost track of time, kissing and swaying through two more songs until they broke apart, flushed and breathing hard, and just looked at each other.

“Oh my God,” Gwen’s voice broke through their fugue. She and the real Captain stood just inside the draperies. “I’m sorry,” she stammered. “We were looking … we just wanted …oh, bollocks.”

Jack laughed. “You’ve always had a mouth on you, Gwen,” he remarked. He fixed the real Captain Jack with a hard look. “I trust you’re a man of discretion,” he stated, warning clear in his voice.

“It’s none of my business,” the other man responded firmly, not backing down from the challenge. “From what Gwen’s told me, you’re not from around here, so …”

Ianto heard Jack growl deep in his throat, and decided to avoid a potentially disastrous confrontation between the two Captains. The less attention they called to themselves, the better. “Perhaps Gwen would like to dance, James,” he suggested pointedly. “I’m sure Captain Harkness won’t mind.”

“Not at all,” the real Captain Jack replied, transferring Gwen’s hand to Jack’s. “Buy you a drink?” he said to Ianto as Jack escorted the former PC to the dance floor.

“Brilliant idea,” Ianto said with a sigh of relief.

On the dance floor, Jack twirled Gwen expertly. “You’re good,” she breathed as she looked up at him, eyes shining and cheeks flushed.

“Years of practice,” the Captain quipped. “Gwen...” he began.

“I meant what I said,” the Welshwoman stated. “I’m not going back. There’s nothing for me there. I belong here, with my Jack.”

“I know,” he told her gently. “Ianto and I talked. It’s your choice. We respect it.”

“You’ll tell Owen and Tosh…” she faltered, and then regained her composure. “You’ll tell them that I’m sorry, but I’m happy here?”

“Of course,” Jack muttered, briefly considering confessing what he knew was coming, but weighing Ianto, a member of his team, against Gwen, a civilian, he knew he was making the right decision so he didn’t say anything else. His or Ianto’s presence in this period wasn’t meant to be; Gwen’s appeared to be. He had no choice.

“And Rhys…” Gwen was saying.

“We can’t have contact with him,” Jack told her. “It might trigger his memories. What he thinks now is better, trust me.”

“I know,” Gwen nodded. “Just… keep an eye on him. I know Ianto can do that.”

“He can,” Jack replied with a smile. “He’s brilliant.” Before he could add anything else, a shout caught his attention.

“Captain, look!” Ianto called, pointing to the swirling vortex at the top of the stairs. “It’s time. They did it!”

“Wait for me,” the Captain called as he steered Gwen into the real Captain Jack’s arms and kissed her on the forehead. “Be well,” he whispered. He couldn’t bring himself to wish her happiness, knowing what he did. Moving to grasp Ianto’s hand, he pulled the younger man towards what they both knew was an opening in the Rift.

“You could stay,” Gwen called, sounding suddenly uncertain. “Britain needs everyone it can get.”

“We can’t,” Ianto told her sadly. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s our duty,” Jack added, seeing the Captain nod in understanding. He left Ianto’s side for a minute, kissing Gwen and the real Captain Jack much the same way he’d kissed the Doctor and Rose over a century before. “Fly well,” he told the Captain.

“Shoot straight,” his namesake urged, wrapping an arm around Gwen’s waist and pulling her to him.

Joining Ianto again, Jack looked at him with a grin. “Here we go,” he said. “Hold on to me. Wherever we end up, it’s together.”

“Of course, Sir,” Ianto nodded as he swallowed nervously. “Can’t have you traipsing around alone. Imagine the cleanup.”

With a grin, Jack led them into the Rift. Around them, the festive dance hall vanished to be replaced by the derelict building they’d entered earlier in the day. “Readings?” Jack demanded instantly.

Ianto shook his head as he adjusted his PDA. “It’s still recalibrating after that little journey. Can you get a Comm. signal?”

“Why didn’t I think of that?” Jack asked with a fond grin as he pulled his earwig out from where he’d secured it in his pocket when they arrived in 1941.

“I’m more of the detail man,” Ianto quipped as they made their way out of the building. He continued to fiddle with his hand-held, trying to get a reading.

“Well, the SUV’s here,” Jack muttered glancing around and seeing the same street scene they’d left earlier in the day, right down to the ‘Vote Saxon’ posters. “Tosh, Owen, can anyone hear me?” he demanded.

“Jack, thank God,” Tosh breathed over the Comm. “Is Ianto with you?”

“He is,” Jack replied, giving Ianto a positive gesture. It appeared they were back in their own time. “How long have we been gone?” he asked.

“Almost a day,” Tosh responded. “How fast can you get back here?”

“We’re on our way,” Jack told her, jumping into the driver’s seat of the SUV. In the passenger seat, Ianto buckled himself in as he keyed his own Comm. “What’s happening?” the Captain demanded.

“Owen’s been shot,” Tosh told him breathlessly. “I don’t think it’s bad, but he’s refusing to go back to hospital.”

“Shot?” Jack repeated incredulously. “Why was he out in the field?”

“He wasn’t,” Tosh told him. They could hear her working and Owen’s grunts of pain.

“Were we breached?” Ianto asked, looking at Jack with concern.

“No,” Tosh replied, her voice hesitant.

Jack and Ianto exchanged looks. “Situation report, Toshiko,” Jack ordered. “Now.”

“We needed help with the equations to get you back,” Tosh admitted. “Suzie was the only one who knows the systems as well as I do. Owen decided we needed her help. He brought her up from the cells. We kept her shackled and he held a gun on her while she worked. But, when we keyed in the final sequence, the manipulator went crazy. It was bedlam here. She got the gun away from Owen, wounded him, and took off.”

“Good thing she’s a lousy shot,” they heard Owen add through gritted teeth.

“She was aiming for your shoulder, you git,” Tosh told him, a catch in her voice. “She could have killed you if she wanted to.”

“Tosh,” Jack said sharply. “Can you track her? Ianto and I will go after her and bring her back, and then you, Owen, and I are going to have a long talk. I know Suzie was your colleague and you trusted her, but you risked way too much to get us back. We can’t take those types of risks.”

“I can’t track her,” Tosh told him, her voice leaden.

“Give me something to work with!” Jack nearly shouted. “We can’t let her run lose in Cardiff.”

“Suzie isn’t in Cardiff,” Owen said over the Comm., with pain evident in his voice. “She didn’t escape through the Hub. She went through the Rift.”

Jack was sitting in his office, staring at a bottle of bourbon. Once he’d debriefed the team thoroughly and reprimanded Tosh and Owen, he’d sent them home as soon as he’d been sure that the medic’s shoulder wound was dressed properly. He might be furious with the man – and with Tosh – but that didn’t mean he wanted him bleeding to death, or even incapacitated. They had work to do.

Suzie had not lied about one thing; her equations had helped Tosh control the opening of the Rift just enough to allow Jack and Ianto to return. However, they’d also allowed Suzie to leave. While the Rift itself seemed stable, there was a potentially immortal - certainly insane and definitely homicidal - Suzie Costello wandering through time and space.

If he ever did find his Doctor, Jack mused, the Time Lord would probably find a way to kill him for that alone, and make sure it stuck.

Part of him wanted to go with the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ theory. As long as Suzie was not on Twenty-First Century Earth, he tried to tell himself that she was not their problem. He didn’t manage to convince himself. Jack knew how these things went, well enough to know that Suzie would turn up again and bring a world of trouble with her. He needed his team at their best to find her before that happened.

They also had to find Bilis Manger. Jack trusted Ianto’s instincts and had to agree that the old man had something to do with their trip to the past. The Welshman had found pictures of him dating from the 1940s, the 1960s, the 1980s, and the 1990s. He looked the same in all of them. Tosh and Owen had sent Andy Davidson to check out the dance hall when they could not reach Jack and Ianto. The young PC only reported seeing a caretaker, one Mr. Manger. Tosh was going to email an image to him to see if it was the same man.

He wondered where Ianto was. He’d invited the younger man up to his office to drink a toast to the real Captain Jack Harkness and Gwen. He hoped that wherever the former PC was, she’d found the peace and happiness that had eluded her in her own time.

“Did you know?” an icy Welsh voice demanded from the doorway.

Jack looked up and knew instantly what Ianto was referring to. “Yes,” he replied, not flinching from the other man’s gaze.

“You let her stay with him in 1941, knowing that when he flew out on that mission the next day, he didn’t come back?” Ianto asked, needing Jack to say it.

“I knew everything about him,” the Captain agreed. “I didn’t just take his name. I took his whole identity.”

“Did you think I wouldn’t check on what happened to him – and her – the moment we got back?” Ianto sighed, waving a handful of papers at his lover. “It’s all here – at least what happened to him. Gwen disappears off the face of the Earth during the war, but then again, thousands did. Records were lost; anything could have happened to her. Did you really believe I’d just leave her to the mists of time?”

“I hoped you would, or that you’d understand why I did it,” Jack replied softly. “Gwen made her choice. She flew off with Diane and she wanted to stay with him. There was nothing here for her to come back to; Rhys doesn’t remember and I won’t have her back. At least there, she had a purpose with her work. I knew you’d make me bring her back, even if it meant leaving you. You’re a member of my team. You were my first responsibility.”

Ianto sat down heavily. “I wish I believed that. I want to believe that you sacrificed her for me because I’m part of the team, but we both know that’s not it. You did it because of… us. Whatever ‘us’ is.”

“You want me to put a label on it?” Jack demanded hotly. “Would that make it easier?”

“Maybe,” Ianto retorted. “Maybe, knowing you made this decision for your lover makes more sense than knowing you did it for your part-time shag.”

“Don’t!” Jack shouted angrily as he stood and began to pace. “Don’t make this – whatever we have – sound so unimportant. It matters; and, if I was selfish for a minute, I don’t care. I would have made the same choice if it was Tosh or Owen, and I’m not sleeping with either of them.”

“No, you’re not so we can’t really know that you would do the same thing, can we?” Ianto said wearily.
Jack shook his head. “No, we can’t, but I still say I made the right choice.”

“That’s what scares me, Jack,” Ianto whispered. “I don’t know what you’d risk or sacrifice for me and be able to justify it. I’ve seen what that type of action leads to. I’ve hurt people because of it and I won’t do it again.”

“Ianto,” Jack began, but stopped when the Welshman stood.

“I need to go home,” Ianto said slowly. “I’m knackered and we need to start the search for Suzie and Manger tomorrow. If they’re working together…” Ianto paused, not really wanting to entertain the possibility.

“Should I come around later?” Jack asked hopefully. “We could just watch a film or…”

“I don’t think so,” Ianto replied, moving to exit the office. “I just don’t think it’s a good idea.”

Jack felt his shoulders slump at the sound of finality in the other man’s voice. As he left, the Captain stared after him, wondering if the younger man meant his coming over that evening, or their relationship in general.

Coming Up Next: End of Days

Oo, really going off into unexplored territory now, love it!

Now that the author's have been outed (not complaining mind), I will admit that this was fun to write I must admit!

Now that the author's have been outed (not complaining mind), I'm glad you liked it.

asdfjkl; My brain, it is eaten.

Now that the author's have been outed (not complaining mind), must ask if this is good or bad ...

nice. I was wondering if you were going to let CJH live or not. I feel bad for Gwen. You leave this off with everyone in very interesting situations. SHould be fun to see what happens next.

Now that the author's have been outed (not complaining mind), I felt the real CJH had to die. Jack would not have taken his name otherwise, and it would have changed history.

You had me worried there for a second when Gwen popped up, but good job. Why do I have this strange feeling that Suzie might come back with The Master or Gray?

Now that the author's have been outed (not complaining mind), I can admit that I hope we see Suzie again.

Damn you guys a brilliant with this series, Gwen in 1941 with the original Capt. Jack, but so much angst at the end!!
Thanks for sharing!

Now that the author's have been outed (not complaining mind), once Gwen went with Dianne I had this bunny!

WOW. I love Gwen in it (so unexpected), and the last conversation between Jack and Ianto.

It's my favourite part so far.

Now that the author's have been outed (not complaining mind), thank you so much!

Nothing like watching a train wreck in slow motion! Torchwood keeps getting kicked in the teeth and yet they're still there.

End of Days... I'm almost worried to see what becomes of it.

Now that the author's have been outed (not complaining mind), I'll admit I was worried the EOD author would hate me.

OH man...This was brilliant!!! So good!!!! Love that Ianto went with him, that Gwen was there...but the ending...oh man...so much angst...I take it this is to prep for Jack leaving with the Doctor??? Oh man....I just want them together... :)

Now that the author's have been outed (not complaining mind), its me. Of course there was angst.

This was brilliant! I like that Ianto went with Jack and that they found Gwen in 1941. My favourite part was Jack and Ianto dancing, and Jack saying he would never forget it, that was gorgeous. :) And the ending was just heartbreaking!

Now that the author's have been outed (not complaining mind), thanks!

Love the path this has taken now! So many opportunities and tangents to explore. I can't wait for more.

Now that the author's have been outed (not complaining mind), I freely admit it was a great ride. None of us knew what was coming.

At first, I thought it had to be Torchwood; that maybe they had a Captain Jack in every generation like Shamu or Lassie.

That line made me laugh out loud.

Unexpected!Gwen was an interesting twist.

Now that the author's have been outed (not complaining mind), that line just appeared. Not sure where it came from :-)

Awesome chapter! I was just as surprised as Jack and Ianto to see Gwen there! That was a truly great twist!

Now that the author's have been outed (not complaining mind), thanks so much. I was suprised she appeared as well.

I much preferred this that the actual episode. At least they weren't daft and knew that two men couldn't snog on the dance floor in 1941. Also good on Gwen, I felt happy for her. Jack is right, despite the impending grief, she was much happier in that time.

Now that the author's have been outed (not complaining mind), I made the decision about the dance floor because Jack would not put Ianto at risk that way. He knew the real CJH had nothing to lose.

this is made of so much win. I love the direction you took this episode in.
and as much as I may dislike gwen at times, I was kind of hoping that she would come back with them, and the way you wrote her made me really like her (current theory: she ends up coming back with suzie, forcibly or not), and I loved the jack dancing with ianto scene. I can't wait to see how the next person deals with this awesome build up :)

my only complaint is that you refer to the bluetooth earpiece as an earwig. and unless "earwig" is also slang (and I'm just ignorant in that regard), I know earwigs as cockroach-like insects, so that made me shudder a bit.

So since the writers have been "outed" (not complaining mind you :-), yes an earwig is slang for a bluetooth!

Glad you liked it!


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