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Turn Left, Torchwood

Where Everything Changes

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Turn Left, End of Days
Title: Turn Left, End of Days
Author: nightporters for the Turn Left, Torchwood Project
Rating: PG-13
Notes: A retelling of Torchwood Series 1, Episode 13 where different decisions are made. Part of the turnleft_tw Challenge. Thank you to avon_09 for this swansong piece of Torchwood fic.
Reminder: Project participants, don't leave any telling information in comments.

Previously: Captain Jack Harkness

Dawn bled slowly into the night sky as Jack watched him. Ianto was on the roof as he expected, hands stuck in his trouser pockets, staring out over the Bay as if it would give him the answers he was looking for. Jack watched him shiver as he leaned on his cane, his light wool suit no barrier against the chill morning air.

"I know you're there," Of course he did. It was stupid of Jack to think otherwise. He didn't turn around as Jack approached.

"I came to see if you were alright."

"I'm fine, Sir."

"You send shivers down my spine every time you roll that 'Sir' around in that glorious accent." Jack told him, ignoring the chill in his voice.

"What do you want?"

Jack wrapped his arms around Ianto, enveloping him in the warmth of his greatcoat. "You," he said simply. He had woken up without Ianto beside him and for the first time he felt how empty his bed was without the young man sharing his space.

"I needed to think."

Ianto's voice was so low and thin Jack almost didn't hear him over the muted hum of the early morning traffic.

"Do you want to talk about it?"

"Going to offer me a cup of sweet tea and a biscuit, Jack, to make it all better?" Despite the sarcasm Ianto leaned back into the warmth and Jack drew him in closer. He took a deep breath, knowing that he had to deal with the strain that had developed between them since their return from 1941.

"Ianto, I know you're unhappy with the decisions I've made, but I would do it again. It's not the first time I've had to make decisions you've disagreed with, and it won't be the last." Jack turned Ianto to look at him face on and saw the deep purple circles pressed like thumbprints under his large eyes.

"I know, but still..."

He traced the marks with his thumbs and Ianto leaned into the touch. Jack pulled him against his chest and manoeuvred them so that they were both facing the Bay. He felt Ianto's shivers ease as he warmed in Jack's embrace.

"Does your leg hurt?" he asked.

Against his neck, Ianto shook his head. "Not really. You can stop protecting me now. I'm ready for full duties. I mean it!" he concluded as Jack opened his mouth to protest. "Until we replace Gwen we're short-handed. Owen's not fully recovered and you need me."

"I know but..."

Ianto pulled back from Jack's arms. He had that determined expression that Jack knew only too well. "Somewhere out there is the possibility of a homicidal woman with a time-travelling maniac as a companion. And we're not talking about the you and Doctor." He tapped his finger at Jack's shirt-clad chest. "You. Need. Me!"

Jack was unable to refute the argument. His silence was taken as agreement by Ianto and he laid his head back down on Jack's shoulder. As they stood together the sky lightened and he aware that the noise of the morning traffic had increased.

"We ought to get back to the Hub," Ianto said eventually, although he didn't seem all that eager to return to their underground workplace. The strain between them had obviously taken its toll on him as well.

Jack nodded reluctantly and dropped his arms. As he did so the light seemed to dim slightly. He looked up at the sky. The night's tendrils were fading away and in its place was a clear pale blue sky, the sun not yet fully in the horizon. He frowned and opened his mouth to query it with Ianto but the other man didn't seem to notice anything odd.

"Such a lovely couple."

Jack's head shot around seeking the cultured tones of Bilis Manger. The elderly man was standing on the opposite side of the roof, his thin face staring malevolently at them both.

Ianto was looking at Jack, a bemused expression on his face. "Jack, are you all right?"

"Once upon a time I would have been interested. But now..." Bilis shrugged elegantly, "Such a shame it won't last."

"Bilis," Jack hissed, staring over at the man.

"Bilis Manger? Where?" Ianto looked around, his eyes darting around frantically.

"He can't see you?" Jack asked Bilis calmly, laying a hand on his arm to still Ianto.

The old man shook his head. "Not this time. My message is just for you."

"What is your message? I haven't got all day."

Bilis smiled at him maliciously. "No, you really haven't got all of this day," He looked at the watch strapped onto his thin wrist. "You have about seven hours, Captain... Harkness."

"Jack, what is going on?" Ianto asked. He was poised to move but otherwise calm and was watching Jack carefully.

Jack felt a rush of pride for the way Ianto was handling the situation. He'd come a long way in the last few months.
"Bilis has come to deliver a message," Jack answered shortly, "And a time limit."

"So glad you're going to be civilised about this, Captain. My mistress wishes you to know that it is the End."

Frowning Jack asked, "The end? What do you mean? Who is your mistress?"

Bilis smiled, although Jack felt it was more of a smirk. "I have delivered the message. I suggest you make your peace while you have the chance. Good day, Captain Harkness."

Jack opened his mouth to demand more but Bilis inclined his head and disappeared. The sky lightened again. Jack looked at Ianto, his expression grim. The young man was staring at him, one eyebrow raised in silent query. "According to Bilis Manger the end is in about seven hours."

"The end of what exactly?"

"He wasn't that specific but you know these megalomaniacs. It wasn't the end, it was the End."

Ianto nodded. "They do like their overblown emphasis. So let's assume it's the end of what... the earth... everything? I think we'd better get back to the Hub and do some research."

"Why for once couldn't it be the end of the game, or the end of dinner?" Jack grumbled as they walked towards the rooftop staircase. He didn't need to look at Ianto to know that he was rolling his eyes.

"Do I need to dignify that with a response?"

Jack sighed and laid an arm around Ianto's shoulders. "Not really. Coffee? If we're going to die we may as well be caffeinated."

"Actually for once, Jack, you were right." Ianto looked up from where he was poring over a dusty-looking Bible. The cover had imprints of the bottom of countless mugs littered over it.

Jack raised an eyebrow. "For once? Should I be offended that you have so little faith in my abilities?"

"Could we keep your sex life out of the office?" Owen looked over from Tosh's work station.

"Shut up, Owen!" Jack, Ianto and Tosh didn't bother to stop what they were doing as they reprimanded him in unison. Owen shrugged and went back to eating his croissant.

"So what was I right about this time?" asked Jack.

"It could be the end of the day, or rather End of Days. 'And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things? And he said, 'Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.'' Daniel 12:8-9 or if you want to be really freaked out, go and Google 'end of days'. We're all going to die in 2012 or," Ianto looked at his watch, "at lunchtime today, if you believe Bilis Manger."

Jack waved his hand impatiently. "Yeah, thanks, Ianto. I can do without all the superstition. I mean, Google for God's sake?"

"Don't you mean 'goddess'?" muttered Ianto.

"You people love any story that denies the randomness of existence."

"Thank you, Jack. That's really helpful. Now can we focus on who Bilis is working for?"
Tosh had been running through the database of evil goddesses. Owen, who was watching over her shoulder, pointed to the monitor. "What about that one?" he asked, leaving a greasy smudge on the screen.

Slapping his hands away with distaste, Tosh peered at the entry. "Lilith, a bearer of disease, illness and death, and sexually predatory towards men."

"Does it sound like someone we know?" asked Owen.




"Our friend Suzie indeed."

"We thought they might be in cahoots but what are you saying? Suzie is a goddess? Because last time I checked she was very human; mad as a box of frogs but still mortal." Jack said.

"She could have been possessed in the Rift. Some evil bitch wandering around looking for a meat suit."

Ianto sighed. "That is a TV programme, Owen. It has monsters of the week and pretty boys with impossibly white teeth. This is Cardiff."

They all turned to stare at him in bemusement.

"You are kidding, right? Torchwood, sex-crazed aliens, cannibalistic humans, evil faeries. Any of this ring a bell?" Owen pointed out as he drained the last of his coffee. "They may not look as pretty but they're just as evil."

"Aren't we getting off the point?" Jack asked impatiently, "Bilis Manger gave us a little over five hours before the end. We don't know what he wants, what it's the end of, or who he's working for. So far all we've got is superstitious nonsense and speculation."

Owen grinned. "A typical day at the Hub, then. Me and Tosh will research anything odd going on here around Cardiff."

Nodding, Tosh tapped on the keyboard and brought up the local weather charts and the Rift patterns. Everyone could see they looked quiet, ominously quiet for a world that was about to end. Where were the portents of doom other than Bilis Manger?

"Right. Ianto and I can do the same with the superstition." Jack cocked an eyebrow at his lover. "Bring some more coffee, Ianto. We've got a long morning ahead of us." Jack turned to go to his office.

Owen sighed. "Make sure he can still run afterwards. Somehow we always have to run heaps when things are going to shit."

Ianto glared at Owen and the back of his neck was glowing as he gathered up the mugs, but Jack just smirked. "Noted, Doctor Harper. We'll meet back here at ten."

Ianto handed Owen and Tosh their refills and entered the office. Jack was already surrounded by large, dusty books with alarmingly graphic illustrations of people dying in all horrible manners. Jack muttered his thanks as Ianto placed the mug on the desk and sat down. There was silence as both men looked for any meagre clues among the faded pages.
"I can't help feeling we're missing something, something important," Jack burst out after a while. Ianto looked up from a particularly detailed description of the apocalypse. "We've all leapt to the same conclusion. That the world is going to end. But nothing is happening. The Rift is quiet again, people aren't dying suspiciously..."

"No plagues of locusts," said Ianto thoughtfully.


"So what did he mean, the End? He gave it emphasis, like it had meaning."

"Meaning for you perhaps?" suggested Ianto, "You were the only one who could see him."

Jack frowned at Ianto's words. "Good point. They're going to kill me? That's impossible as you know." He sat back in his chair. "They may not know that though."

"Suzie does," Ianto pointed out and held out his hand to take the empty mug from Jack. Their fingers brushed and Jack smiled at him.

"You used to smile at me like that," a voice said sadly from the corner of the office.

Jack's head spun around to see a pretty, young woman staring at him, a sad expression on her face. He hadn't seen her this way for sixty years and it took his breath away just how delicate she had been, so tiny in his arms as they had danced. She was wearing the frock she had worn the last time he had seen her as Captain Jack, her lover.

"Estelle?" he said out loud, putting down his mug.

Ianto sat up; suddenly aware Jack was having another visitation. He opened his mouth to speak but Jack raised his hand quickly.

She nodded as she looked at Ianto. There was something in her eyes, a strange expression that Jack couldn't put his finger on.

"You used to stroke my fingers or my hair all the time."

"That was a long time ago, Estelle. It was another lifetime." His stomach churned, not wanting to get into this conversation in front of Ianto, one sided though it was.

"Yes, several lifetimes ago and another lover." She looked angry. "You lied to me, Jack. It was you, not your father."

"I know." Sadness flooded Jack as he thought about a lifetime of lying to his lovers, a lifetime of moving onto the next partner. It was going to happen to all of them, even Ianto... especially Ianto. His expression must have been obvious because Ianto leaned forward and laced his fingers through Jack's.

"What does she want?" he asked.

"It's the End, Jack. Say your farewells to your pretty boy." Her expression was satisfied as she stared at the two of them hand in hand.

"The end of what? What do you mean, it's the End."

Estelle smiled; a cold, hard smile that sat ill on her pretty face. One he had never seen on the face of the girl he adored as the bombs flew overhead and the city burned around them.

"The end for you, my Jack."

"I'm going to die?"

"You can't die," she said pointedly.

Jack drew in a sharp breath, his fingers tightening on Ianto's protectively. "Many people have tried to get rid of me, Estelle. They always fail." He was aware of Ianto's eyes glued on his.

"You have such a clever team here. Such a shame it won't last."

He stood up; shaking his hand free from Ianto's and took a step towards Estelle. "You are not going to touch my team!"

Jack heard Ianto's intake of breath and he looked down. The young man had gone pale and he smiled down at him as reassuringly as he could. Ianto didn't look particularly convinced.
Estelle shrugged as if she didn't much care one way, or the other. "I have delivered the message. Goodbye, my Jack." She turned as if to leave.

"What message? You haven't done anything except send obscure threats to my team," he snapped.

"I think the message has been received then," she said as she disappeared.
Ianto gathered up the mugs of cooling coffee and looked at Jack. "So now we know."
Jack looked over to where Estelle had been. "I guess so."

Owen and Tosh took it very well considering. "We're going to die?" she asked, pushing her glasses up her nose.

"That's the message," agreed Jack.

They were sitting in the conference room after Estelle's appearance. Jack's debrief had been short but to the point. It was ten o'clock – four hours left - and the only real piece of information they had gleaned was that they were the intended victims.

Owen tapped the table thoughtfully. "So this is petty revenge rather than the Apocalypse?"
Jack hadn't thought about it like that.

"It seems a little anti-climatic," suggested Ianto.

"What do you mean?"

"As we said earlier, this is Torchwood. We open the Rift and the world goes to shit. This seems 'small' in comparison."

"Nothing more dangerous than a woman scorned," Owen smirked.

"Yes, thank you for that, Owen."

Jack said, "You've got a point though. Why would Bilis fall in with someone who's just after scoring points. He's into power not points. And all this elaborate set-up? Why not just pick you off, one by one?"

Tosh blanched but she said, "Because it isn't satisfying enough. Suzie, if it is Suzie, made really elaborate preparations to kill, and Bilis- look at him. He thinks through every detail, nothing is left to chance and he loves mind-games. We are dealing with two megalomaniacs who really want to screw with your mind, Jack."

"A couple of visions are hardly going to do that."

"So far we've had Bilis and Estelle. He's not likely to bother you on an emotional level but Estelle must have a bit. She was important to you."

Jack nodded slowly. It wasn't the threats. It was the assessment of his life that had got to him. The loving and the leaving, the lying as he left."

He looked up to see Ianto watching him closely again and gave a small smile. "I'll be more on my guard next time. There's nothing they can really attack me with."

"Be careful Jack," Ianto told him quietly.

"I will," Dismissing it out of his mind, Jack put on his 'Captain' face, "We've got to protect you three and stop them. Any suggestions?"

Owen answered first. "For a start, we need to stay together. We're safer here than anywhere else and we need to arm up. I think they're going to give Jack more clues simply because they can't resist taunting him."

"I'll stay with the systems. If they're going to take us down it'll be through those," Tosh said.

"But they can penetrate the Hub. Estelle's little visit proved that." Ianto pointed out.

Jack shook his head. "It wasn't Estelle. Whatever it was, it wasn't real."

"What makes you say that?"

"Because she wasn't the Estelle I knew. My Estelle didn't know who I was. This one was cold and hard. My girl was warm like sunlight." No one pointed out the obvious flaw in his argument.

"Jack, I'll give you a check up. See if you've been tampered with in any way." Owen pushed back his chair. "Join me in a few minutes if we're done here?"

Normally Jack would have chewed him out for leaving before Jack's say-so, but today he was preoccupied and not paying attention to formalities. Tosh left with Owen to start running her diagnostics and that left Ianto at the table.

"What do you want me to do, Jack?"

"Go to the armoury. We all need to be armed, then hit the safe. I want you to get out the mind-shield."

Ianto's eyes widened. "I thought it didn't work on you."

"It doesn't. But it will on you all. If they're getting in here by mind-control then we need to be prepared."

"But the side-effects... we might not recover."

Jack looked grave. "Better that than dead."

Ianto's answer wasn't convinced. "I'm not so sure of that."

He left Jack alone in the conference room, for a few minutes lost in memories of a sweet girl with hair like sunlight and a laugh that stayed with him for a lifetime.

Owen took his time to examine Jack. He poked and prodded and ignored the impatient mutterings of his de facto patient.

"We haven't got time for this." Jack grumbled as Owen peered into his eyes for the third time. He was sitting in his undershirt, braces off and feeling stupid.

"We have time for this."

Jack shook his head and made to get off the gurney. He was surprised when the doctor pushed him back and sat beside him.

"You are the only one who's had these visitations. The only one. Is it an hallucination or a projection? We don't even know that there is actually something going to happen."

Jack opened his mouth to say something and then shut it again. He tried again. "You think this is in my head?"

Owen hesitated before he answered but then he said, "It had occurred to me, yes."

"And the others? Tosh and Ianto, do they think I'm making this up as well?"

"No one is saying you are, Jack," Owen patted his arm awkwardly. Jack realised it was meant to be reassuring, but Dr Harper's bedside manner sucked.

Jack folded his arms and sat back. "So what's your prognosis, Doc?"

Choosing his words carefully, Owen said, "All the tests are clean. There doesn't seem to be any obvious sign you've been drugged or tampered with."

"What about the unobvious?"

"I'll have to run more tests but there's really no way of telling. The fact is that we've got no idea whether this is a real threat or one in your head. Bilis and Suzie are capable of messing with our brains so why did they pick yours? Of all of us you are the least likely to be affected."

Jack stood up and slipped on his shirt. "You have my permission to take whatever action if you think I'm becoming a threat to the team's security."

Owen started clearing up. "I had that anyway, Captain, but noted. In the meantime, I'm sticking close by your side. I want to see your physical reactions when one of these unwanted visitors decides to drop in."

"We're running out of time, Owen. It's just over two hours to the End." Jack's frustration was showing. He wanted to go in full guns blazing, if only he could work out which direction to point them.

"We've only got your word for that," Owen pointed out, "And no idea what the End actually is."

Jack looked over his shoulder as he went up the short flight of stairs. "Whatever it is, you can be sure it won't be pleasant. It never is."

Ianto was laying out the guns when he arrived at the armoury. They all carried arms as a matter of course, even Ianto as he become more of a field agent, but Jack thought that a little extra firepower would provide some reassurance even if it was just a placebo. He wondered what use bullets were against an enemy that was only in the head of the one of the team.

Jack leaned against the wall and watched as Ianto checked out each weapon, his movements swift and efficient as he worked. He hadn't acknowledged Jack beyond a brief nod, just concentrating on the task at hand. In the background he could hear low music, a light, joyful melody. With a pang that surprised him, Jack realised that Gwen's weapon of choice, a customised pistol, was still there, cleaned and ready. It didn't surprise him that Ianto hadn't touched that one.

"Do you think it's all in my head, Ianto?"

Ianto paused, his hands poised over the guns, and then he looked Jack in the eye. "It's not the first time it's happened to us, is it?"

If men look you in the eye, they're lying- basic psychology 101. Ianto wasn't lying though, he was trying to be reassuring. At the periphery of Jack's consciousness he could hear the sound of a children's nursery rhyme. For some reason, that simple tune eased his fears, and he smiled at Ianto.

"No it isn't. We'll work it out. Are you nearly done?"

Nodding, Ianto handed Jack the gun he had finished prepping and made to walk out of the armoury. Jack caught him by the shoulder and pulled him closer. Ianto leaned over and pressed his lips into Jack's neck.

"When this is over we need to have that date, get a movie and a takeaway," Jack murmured, and then he frowned. The music was still playing, a melody that he knew intimately. His mother had played it to him many times as a child. It was a well-known tune but it seemed stilted, as if the person playing it was not familiar with the music. Then the blood drained out of his face and he swayed. Ianto pulled back and looked at him with concern.

"Jack, what is it? Who is here now?"

"The music. I can hear music."

Ianto was gripping his shoulders, his fingers digging in painfully. Jack could feel the pain but it was secondary to the music he could hear as clearly as if he was standing next to the source.

"Jack, what music? There's no music playing."

"They're playing with me again. The music is a child's nursery rhyme."

He could hear Ianto calling for Owen as he led them back to the main area, and then he was being pushed into a seat and a light was being flashed in his eyes. "What's so special about a children's nursery rhyme, Jack?"

"I learned to play it when I was a boy, only I was useless so it was always stilted. I could never get the upper notes." Jack came back to see the three of them watching him closely. "The music I can hear is how I used to play it – badly." he admitted ruefully.

"You're hearing a nursery rhyme from the fifty first century?" Tosh asked curiously.

"A nursery rhyme I played," Jack corroborated.

Ianto frowned a little. "So what's the significance to you?"

"I used to play it to my brother to send him to sleep. Mom used to get me to practise by playing to him. For some reason it used to settle him down." He'd spent hours and hours of practice for his baby brother. He still never managed to play it any better than the version playing out in his head.

"What happened to your brother?" Owen had finished with his tests.

Jack bit the inside of his lip so hard he could taste the coppery tang that flooded his mouth. "He – uh." Alarms went off and everybody's attention was diverted. Tosh and Ianto took off at a run for the monitors. Owen was making notes on his PDA.

"You left me behind. I died because of you." It was a high-pitched, child's voice in his head, and no one to see the pain on Jack's face.

It was like his whole world had narrowed down to the music in his head – over and over the melody repeated itself and Jack was left unable to concentrate or focus, just when they needed him most. All he could do was watch as his team handled the event.

The monitor had signalled a spike in the Rift; something had arrived. They weren't sure whether it was debris or something more significant. All they had to follow were coordinates for waste-ground on the outskirts of the city. Ianto contacted PC Andy to ask the local police to investigate the site as the team needed to focus their efforts on what was happening to Jack.

The young voice in his head begged and pleaded every time the music came to an end, "Jack please, come and get me. You know where I am. Please don't hurt me. They're hurting me, Jack. Let it End." The voice broke and sobbed on the last word. The pain tore through Jack as he listened each time.

Jack wasn't sure why he didn't tell them about this voice. He knew it was stupid to hold anything back and Owen was going to have his hide if he let it slip. "You're not him," he said silently to the voice, "Whoever you are, you are not him."

The voice and the music blessedly stilled for a moment and then it, still child-like, said, "It's the End, Jack. Time to say bye-bye." Jack covered his face as the music started again, this time louder and louder and he moaned, unable to get away from it.

"Back with us now?" Opening his eyes, Jack's first sight was of Ianto's worried face bending over his.

"Ianto? What happened?"

"Easy," Ianto helped to ease Jack into a sitting position as he tried to sit up. "Let me help you."

Jack rubbed at his eyes and discovered he was sitting on the sofa. He accepted the glass of water Ianto offered him and sipped at it. "Did I pass out?"

"If you call falling to the floor screaming at the top of your lungs, then yes, you could say that. We couldn't calm you down so Owen decided he'd had enough and put you out."

Jack had no memory of that at all- except the music in his head getting louder and louder. The music – it had stopped. There was nothing except a throbbing headache from whatever Owen had used to fell him.

"Why didn't you tell us that you'd had another visit?" Ianto asked, his tone reproachful.

"Because I didn't, leastways I couldn't see anything. It was just a voice in my head, over and over again. I told you about the music." Jack said, trying to justify his actions.

"But not about him, whoever he is. You kept saying 'You're not him,' repeatedly." Ianto took the empty glass away and placed it on the table. "Who was it, Jack?" As Jack didn't answer he asked, "Whom did you leave behind? Was it your brother?"

Jack just stared at his hands. It wasn't something he wanted to discuss, not now, not ever. That part of his life had been locked up and buried so deep inside him he'd thought the key was lost.

Ianto took Jack by the shoulders and pulled him back so that Jack was resting his head against Ianto's shirtfront. He could hear the sound of Ianto's heart beating in his ear and the noise was strangely comforting. "You should have told us something was happening."

"Is Owen pissed at me?"

"Yes, Owen is." The familiar acerbic tones of the doctor answered for Ianto. "You're a bloody moron, Jack Harkness."

He was too tired to argue. Too tired to explain why he'd not shared this particular piece of information with anyone. Besides which, Owen was right. He'd told them time and again that withholding information was dangerous; that and don't mess with the Rift. He just wanted to lie in Ianto's arms and let the End happen. It couldn't be long now.

"I've found something." Tosh's light voice cut across Owen's scolding. Her tone held a note of barely suppressed excitement that had Jack raising his head to look at her.

"What is it?" asked Ianto.

"I've detected an unusual frequency. It's piggybacking another system. I wouldn't have noticed if I hadn't gone looking for it."

"Is that what's causing Jack's... visitations?"

Tosh nodded at Ianto's question. "It could well be. I'll need to investigate."

"Better get your arse in gear then. We haven't got very long." Ignoring Tosh's frown, Owen turned to Jack. "At least we know you're not completely losing your marbles. Well, you are, but someone else is helping."

"Ever the diplomat," Ianto said dryly, "However did you manage to become a doctor with a bedside manner like yours?"

Owen shrugged. "I lied at the interview."

"Children, could we focus?" Jack begged them, his tone strained. Normally he could deal with the repartee, but not today.

His voice all business now, Owen said, "Jack, they've stepped it up a notch. You're going to lose it completely if they try that again."

Jack sat up, trying hard not to shake as he pushed away from Ianto. "Not if I know it's coming. Is there some form of signal before it starts, Tosh, or is it a constant?"

"On it," She rushed off to monitor the frequency, her long hair flying behind her.

"Ianto, is there any coffee ready?"

The young man gave Jack's back a gentle pat and stood up. "I'll go and make it now."

"Don't forget me, Teaboy," Owen yelled after him.

Jack gave him a weak glare. "Doesn't that ever get old?"

Owen smirked at him. "Taking the piss out of the office junior? Nah."

Slumping back against the sofa, Jack closed his eyes and willed himself to relax. "How long have I got?"

"We have just over an hour before the deadline," Owen corrected. His cool fingers were on Jack's pulse.

"They can't kill me, you know."

"No, but they can probably drive you insane. Can you imagine an eternity with that music inside your head, Jack? You went under within five minutes," the doctor said bluntly, his eyes not missing a trick. Jack felt as if he had been stripped bare under the all-knowing gaze.

"Five minutes? Is that all it was? It felt like hours." Jack admitted.

"Tosh'll work out how to block it," Owen said confidently.

Jack nodded. He had no doubts in Tosh's ability to figure out any systems attack but he also knew time was running out.

"INCOMING!" Tosh yelled from her workstation.

Bracing himself, Jack closed his eyes and waited for the next attack.

"Hello, Jack."

He opened his eyes. "Gwen." It was more to let Owen know who was there than actual acknowledgement. The doctor's eyes widened and he sat back on his heels.
She was sitting where Ianto had been on the sofa, dressed in the jeans and t-shirt she customarily wore while she worked at Torchwood rather than the 1940s clothing he had last seen her in. She reached out and touched his knee. It was his turn to be surprised at the physical contact.

"Why didn't you tell me that he was going to die?" Her large, dark eyes filled with tears and Jack had to swallow hard against his own.

Jack placed his hand over hers, knowing that to Owen it just looked like he was putting his hand on his knee. "I couldn't tell you. It wasn't anything I could prevent."

"I lost Diane. You knew that. And then you left me knowing that I would have to go through it again. That beautiful, gentle man burned to death and you could have stopped it, told me something. God, Jack. Why the fuck didn't you tell me?" She pulled her hand away and stood up, brushing past Owen. The doctor clapped a hand to his shoulder in surprise as if he felt something. He glanced over to Jack with a questioning look.

Jack nodded and gestured in Gwen's direction. "I couldn't prevent it, Gwen. Captain Jack had to die. Everything that has happened since has been defined by that one event."

"My love was sacrificed for you? God, how do you live with yourself? How do you sleep at night with death after death on your conscience?" Her voice rose and she stared at him as if he was beneath contempt.

"Which bothers you more, Gwen? The fact that he died or the fact that it was you left there to face it? You worked for Torchwood. You know how I worked." It was heartless but he needed to fight back against the constant guilt trips.

Her lips trembled as she spat out, "I wish I'd never met you, Jack Harkness." A wealth of contempt loaded those last two words.

Jack felt pressed down by the weight of her hatred and despair. How many lives had he wrecked and then casually walked away from? Had he ever thought about the people left behind? Of course he had. Constantly, in the long dark hours that he struggled to fill. Gwen's words though, were a reminder that he had another bridge to mend. The gulf between he and Ianto had been postponed but not forgotten in the current crisis.

Owen had been watching him closely as he sat slumped on the sofa. "Tosh, can you disrupt the signal?" he called out.

"Not yet. They've got it so closely intertwined with all our essential systems, I shut it down and we lose everything."

"What do you want, Gwen?"

She knelt at his feet and stared up at him earnestly. Jack noticed she didn't seem to be able to stay still for more than a moment. "You should leave here. Leave them and Torchwood before you hurt them, like you hurt me, like you hurt Estelle. Like you hurt so many others. The End is coming, Jack, and unless you leave they'll all suffer too."

"How?" he asked bluntly, "How -- will they die? One minute you're threatening the team; the next minute you're attacking me. Make up your damn mind. Who exactly are you going after? Why are you bothering with all this nonsense?"

Gwen smiled, but the way her lips twisted made Jack shiver. Owen noticed the shudder and opened his mouth to speak but a small gesture from Jack stopped him in his tracks. She stood up and stared coldly down at him. "Because you deserve to suffer. The way Estelle suffered. The way Gwen suffered. The way your..."

Jack cut her off with a sharp movement of his hand. "Spare me the B-movie rhetoric. I know what they all went through. I've lived lifetimes watching their pain. You're not Gwen or Estelle, so who are you?"

Gwen laughed, a shrill sound that grated on Jack's fraying nerves and the air around her shimmered. Jack wasn't surprised to see Suzie in Gwen's place; her long hair tumbled around her thin face. What was more surprising was Owen's reaction to the sudden materialisation beside him.

"Jesus! You could have warned me, Jack." He clutched at his chest, mock-gasping for air.

"I suppose I'm going to need to make more coffee then," Ianto said urbanely, appearing with a mug in each hand. He handed Owen and Jack their mugs and raised one eyebrow at their guest. "Your usual, Suzie?"

"The world could be collapsing around us and dear Ianto would make sure we die fully caffeinated. Yes please, Ianto. I suppose I can hold off long enough for one of your special coffees." He inclined his head and moved away again. Jack was tempted to suggest he make her an instant but Jack valued his balls. Suzie was nothing compared to the wrath of Ianto and the subject of Asda's instant coffee.

Tosh joined them, sipping at her own drink. Jack assumed Ianto had filled her in on their guest's sudden appearance. She nodded at Suzie but the other woman ignored her, her attention fixed on Jack.

"So where's your sidekick?" Owen asked, stretching. Jack winced at the sound of his spine popping but Owen huffed out a breath contentedly.

"My sidekick?" Suzie looked momentarily confused. "Oh, you mean Bilis?" At Owen's nod, she said, "He's otherwise engaged at the moment. But don't worry; you'll meet him very soon."

A moment later and Ianto had returned with a mug of coffee. Jack recognised it as the one Suzie used to use. From the twitch of Suzie's lips he could see she had noted it as well. They all stood in uncomfortable silence as they drunk their coffee. "Well, this is civilised," Owen muttered sarcastically, "when did we start offering hospitality to the enemy?"

"I'm hardly your enemy, Owen."

Jack heard the slight emphasis. "But you are mine?"

Suzie took a long swallow of coffee before she answered. "I can never forgive you." Her eyes locked on Jack's.

He nodded and stalled all the protests around him. "Let's get on with it then. The deadline's arrived. Suzie handed the mug to Ianto with thanks and looked at Jack. Instantly the music started up back in his head, but not at the child-like level of before. This was at a pitch that drove him straight to his knees in agony.


He was dimly aware of pottery shattering and the concerned shouts of Owen and Ianto. He tried to respond, to get back to his feet, but the song kept him locked on the floor, a deafening sound that filled his head and left unable to respond. He could feel more than hear loud moans that penetrated the noise, vaguely recognising that they came from him, but it was all just a blur.

Hands held onto him, firm grips that seared his skin, all his nerve-endings ablaze with pain. Jack forced his eyes open. All he could focus on were Suzie's eyes; they were black, the iris and pupil blending together to nothing, but blazing with unearthly fire. Black fire. Odd, he thought. Black should be peaceful and calm- like his deaths. He was pulled into blackness, burning blackness. Not peaceful or calm.

Jack came back from the darkness, hoarse and raw from screams he didn't remember uttering. The deafening noise inside his head had stopped and the only sound he could hear was soft footsteps padding around his body. A hand lifted his head and a cup was put to his lips, and although he tried to resist, the cool water soothed and cooled the ragged tatters of his throat.

"Thank you," he rasped, the words hard to enunciate.

"You are welcome, Captain. There is more if you need it."

Bilis Manger.

He was settled back on the floor and waited for whatever was to come. There was more, there always was, but at the moment he was too weak to take any active role in defending himself. He would go down fighting, just as long as he got a little breathing space. "He's awake now."

Jack could hear the cultured, slightly prissy voice talking to someone, Suzie he guessed. Or whatever inhabited her. "I'm almost ready." Her voice seemed deeper, almost as if there was another voice overlaying hers. "The rituals are complete. Get him in the circle." He was dragged across the floor, little care taken for his comfort now. Jack took some satisfaction thinking about Bilis' slight form getting hot and sweaty trying to shift his much larger frame.


"A bit closer. He needs to be in the centre for me to drain his power."

"We need to hurry, mistress. If Abaddon finds out I've switched my allegiance to you he will come looking for me, and if he sees you here he will fight you for this vessel."

Suzie gave a contemptuous laugh. "He can't do anything without an influx of power, and I've got his only supply." Well, that answered that question.

Jack opened his eyes and immediately wished he hadn't as pain stabbed through his head. Bilis had his back to Jack and was talking again. "The blood is ready for letting, mistress."

The blood? That didn't sound good. Jack made a supreme effort to force his body to start functioning again. Whatever they'd done to him was suppressing his abilities to heal as quickly as he normally did. He finally managed to sit up, swallowing against the desire to vomit. The 'blood' was stretched out on a stone slab, eyes wide in terror, but unable to move. It was Tosh, her dark hair wild and mussed as it draped down over the sides. Jack suspected she had been given some of the paralysing agent they had slipped him. It would make her conscious but unable to fight every revolting thing to which they were about to subject her.
Owen and Ianto were unconscious in a cage in the corner. Jack wasn't sure why Suzie had bothered bringing them along- a necessary audience for their megalomania? A light snack for later perhaps? Jack was definitely the main course and Tosh the appetiser.

The movement alerted the pair's attention. Bilis moved so he could see Suzie, or what was left of her, as she prepared herself. She was... stunning. There was no other way to describe her. Naked and confident in a way his former team mate had never been. Full breasted and slim hipped, she appeared to be daubing herself in a dark liquid, Tosh's blood perhaps, as she worked her way through a complicated ritual.

"Ah Captain, excellent timing," Bilis gave him a cool smile, "We are just about to commence our final rituals."

"Keep your hands off Tosh, Suzie." The woman ignored him and continued with her ritual, two fingers coming to rest on Tosh's head. The Asian woman arched her back, screaming in agony.

Jack tried to get up but was still too weak to stand. "Leave her alone, you bitch!" he yelled, but Suzie didn't miss a beat.

Strong hands pressed him back down. "The ritual can't be stopped now. My mistress needs the life force of Miss Sato to be able to drain your power."

"Who is she? Who is possessing Suzie?"

"She is Lilith, the first woman, my mistress." The awe in Bilis' voice was obvious as he contemplated the gloriously naked woman. The symbols on Suzie/Lilith's body appeared to glow as she continued to drain the power from Tosh. "She will stop soon," he confided, "and then slit her wrists for the blood. She doesn't want Miss Sato to die quickly. The link needs to last to become fully connected. Now my mistress needs to complete the opening stages."

Jack wept in rage inside as he watched Tosh's pain. "You don't seem fussy about which evil overlord you follow."

"I will follow whoever has the most power," Bilis admitted. He appeared wholly unrepentant. "I have skills they need and in return they give me power. It's mutually beneficial."

"Except this time you've jumped employer without giving notice?" Jack asked. "A dangerous move in your profession."

"Normally my employers are conquered by the newest contender. This time I saw an opportunity and took it. She is so strong." His eyes were fixed on Lilith and Jack realised that Bilis Manger worshipped her – at least for the moment.

"So what does she want me for?" Jack's strength was returning. He could feel it slowly as his body shook off whichever drug they'd plied him with. Out of the corner of his eye he could see Ianto stirring. Tosh was weakening and he wasn't sure any of them could get to her in time. A sheen of sweat was covering her pallid skin and her movements were getting less frantic.

"She wants the power inside you, Captain. There is the power of the universe stored up inside your mortal flesh. Lilith feeds on life force. You are an all-you-can-eat buffet. She will be invincible."

"So I'm a demon battery?"

"She will be a goddess reigning supreme. You can't stay dead, so every time you recharge Lilith can drink from you again," Bilis paused, "My mistress is ready for you now." Jack looked over to Lilith. It was easier to think of the naked form, covered in the blood of her former colleague, as Lilith. Jack shuddered as the woman looked over and stared directly into his eyes. If there was anything left of Suzie she was far, far down.

Tosh had ceased her struggles and her screams had died to hoarse moans. She managed to turn her head and saw Jack staring at her. "Jack, get away from here." Her voice was weak but resolute.

"I'm not leaving you here, Toshiko."

"Jack..." she started to say, but Bilis interrupted her.

"Don't bother, Miss Sato, the Captain is as much a prisoner as you are. He cannot get out of the circle." Jack looked down at the floor. He was in the centre of a complicated pattern on the floor. Some of the symbols were mirrored on the skin of the goddess. He made an abortive attempt to move but Bilis was correct. He was stuck in the middle of a primitive yet wholly effective trap. A cough from the corner attracted his attention. Ianto was supporting Owen as he retched. Jack was pleased to see both men alive and conscious again. He had a feeling Owen had the answers to a problem.

"Nice of you boys to wake up finally," he said dryly.

"Sorry, Sir."

"We didn't get a lot of choice about it," Owen pointed out sourly, "One minute you'd vanished with Suzie and the next we're knocked flat by a wave of sound."

"It just blew through all our defences," Tosh agreed weakly.

Owen looked over in her direction. He blanched when he saw the state she was in but said breezily, "How're y'doing, darling?"

"Could be better," she answered, "You two?"

He shrugged carelessly and then winced. "Killer headache. Like a normal Saturday morning really."

"Owen," interrupted Jack, "the meat suit over here is just about to hook up to me. How do I break this trap?"

"See?" Owen crowed as he turned to Ianto, "I told you watching that shite was good for something." He turned back to Jack, "The lines of the trap need to be broken." He goggled as he got a look at Suzie for the first time. "Lost some weight there, Suze."

Lilith ignored him. She was still intent on finishing the symbols on her body. Bilis stared at all of them as if they were particularly interesting bugs under the microscope. "I have found the human desire to laugh in the face of adversity an admirable trait, but I have never met people as irritatingly stupid as you and your team, Captain Harkness."

"It's been said before," agreed Jack. He rubbed stealthily at the lines and symbols on the floor. They didn't erase at all. They appeared to follow dips and troughs in the floor.

His actions hadn't gone unnoticed. "You cannot break the lines. The trap is foolproof. It is time. My mistress is ready. I am truly sorry, Miss Sato, it will be over quite quickly."

The amazing thing was Bilis did look regretful as he spoke. Jack could see the panic on Tosh's face and the fear coming from the two men in the corner.
Lilith turned to the woman on the slab. She slashed Tosh's wrist carefully, draping her hand towards the floor and touched Tosh's forehead once more. Tosh starting screaming again as the blood drained from her wrist, dripping to the floor in a small, steady stream. Jack realised it was draining towards him in the complicated pattern. When it reached him he would be connected to Lilith, and Tosh would be dead, and she would be invincible. Tosh was still screaming. The same words over and over. The sounds piercing Jack's heart as he heard, "Leave me, leave me behind." Her blood was drawing closer to the centre of the trap. He could feel Lilith's power reaching out to him and he was scrambling to find a way to free himself, to free her, to not leave her behind, like all the others.

"Jack, block the lines." Owen yelled at him.

"How?" he asked. He was stuck in the middle of it for Christ's sake.

"Puke, piss, blood. Anything will do. Just something that hasn't been purified by Lilith."

"It won't work. Nothing can stop her now," Bilis contradicted gleefully, "She's almost connected."

And it was true. Jack could feel the power rising. The blood was almost half way towards him and Tosh had almost stopped struggling. "Jack, your army knife. Slice your wrists." Ianto ordered sharply. Jack wasn't wearing his coat but he dug into his trouser pockets just in case. In the left one was his knife. Without a second's hesitation he sliced his left wrist, the blood immediately soaking into the ground around him. Bilis looked shocked as if he hadn't expected Jack to take such drastic action.

"No! You can't leave. Stay where you are!"

The red liquid pumping out followed the sweeping lines and indentations. As the blood drained slowly from him he could feel it confusing the power surge from Lilith. He stretched out the bleeding arm. It went past the centre lines. He had one attempt at this before he lost too much blood to function. Forcing himself to move he starting to crawl out of the trap. Bilis tackled him, using his surprising strength to try and manhandle him back into the circle. Jack struggled against him but he was losing the battle, his depleted strength no match for Bilis' determination. Lilith realised something was going wrong and looked over. She howled in rage at the sight of her power source attempting to escape but she didn't release Tosh from her power. The conduit was still open; Jack could feel the power thrumming beneath his body.

Bilis had him down against the blood-soaked ground, Tosh's blood seeping towards him once more. He'd failed to save the young woman, and the rest of his team would likely die once the power transference had taken place. Jack looked into Bilis' eyes and saw the madness there, the steely madness from years of serving evil, and he something else.

He saw power.

Not for the first time Jack wondered exactly who was this man that wandered the universe, seeking out evil to serve. "Jack, get out of there," Owen yelled at him. He made a supreme effort and twisted his body under Bilis' in a move that left the elderly man on the ground and in the centre of the trap. Jack flung himself sideways, leaving Bilis alone in the centre as Tosh's blood reached them.

Bilis' eyes widened in horror as he was pinned down by unseen forces, and then he was screaming in unbridled agony, just as Tosh had been moments before.
Unseen by Jack, Ianto had been attempting to open the cage and Jack found himself watching as the two men tumbled out and rushed towards Tosh. He was unable to intervene, the last of his strength disappearing into the dirt beneath him.

"Get the fuck off her, you skinny bitch!" Owen was shrieking at Lilith as he reached the Goddess, arms outstretched to knock her away from Tosh. The Asian woman was hanging limply from the hold she had on her.

"Owen, stop!" Ianto tried to stop him but it was too late.

With one contemptuous glance, she sent Owen flying across the room. "Well, well, boys. You're not as stupid as you look. Or maybe you are." Her attention was split between Tosh, the conduit with Bilis, Jack and Owen. "I'll take the life-force from him and then I'll take you all."

Ianto limped over to Jack, brushing his lips over his pallid lips. "Stay with me, Jack. Don't think I didn't notice you pulling a move on Bilis like you do with me." He pulled the knife from Jack's bloodstained hand and in one swift move threw it straight at Lilith.

The blade embedded itself between her eyes. Lilith howled and momentarily, it was the fragile form of Suzie standing there, then she was gone. It seemed to have no effect beyond irritating the Goddess.

"Good work there, Teaboy. Playing with the cutlery again?" Owen's sarcasm was obvious even across the room.

"Wait!" Ianto said softly.

"What?" Jack reached out a hand and clasped it weakly around Ianto's wrist.

As Ianto opened his mouth to answer, the abused form of Bilis suddenly slumped to the floor, his eyes glazed and wide. Lilith looked confused as she stared at her hands.
"What did you do?" she shrieked.

Ianto's face was one that Jack found intensely irritating when it was directed at him. "I cut off your energy. The flow is stopped."

Yanking out the knife, she bared her teeth. "I'm going to rip your balls off, little man." She pressed down on Tosh once more trying to re-establish connection. Both Tosh and Bilis whimpered as she focused her energies on gaining more energy, ignoring everything else around her.

Jack tugged on Ianto's wrist. "Ianto, what have you done?"

The young man helped him to his feet. "Given you time to take control. Jack, reverse the flow and give her what she wants. Send the energy back through Bilis to Lilith."
Jack couldn't process that order. "What will that achieve? She'll get all the energy she needs."

Ianto shook his head as he helped Jack back the way he had just come. "Her trap is broken, defiled by Bilis' presence. She was absorbing his energy but it is evil. The energy inside you is raw and pure. You are a vessel for the energy of the universe."

"So the conflicting energies –" Jack looked at Ianto, hope staring to burn inside him.

"Will destroy her," Ianto nodded, "Give her all you've got."


"Is gone. Leave her behind." Ianto's fingers dug into his arm. "Leave her in the past."

Jack shut down all emotion, banked down the pain that threatened to paralyse him again. He touched the fragile husk that was left of Bilis and prepared to give Lilith exactly what she had come for. "Lilith!" he barked. She looked up, annoyed at the distraction, her dark, empty eyes widening as she saw him back in the centre of the blood stained trap. "Here I am. You give me Tosh and I'll give you my power."

"You're lying." Warily, she looked at him, "Why would you do that?"

"Because I'm not leaving Toshiko behind to die on that slab. It's too late for Suzie, and all the others, but it's not too late for her. You don't need the trap. Come on. It's what you want, isn't it? Forget him," he gestured to Bilis, "You want my power. Take it from the source." He held out his hands to Lilith. She was mad enough, desperate for power and primitive enough to say yes.

"Take her," she agreed indifferently, "She's almost dead anyway."

Ianto and Owen limped over to Tosh' side as Lilith walked towards Jack. The runes on her skin were almost glowing in the low light. Jack took her cold hand, and as she had done, placed the tips of his fingers on her forehead, feeling the link between the power roiling inside him and the cold, deadly forces of this ancient woman. "Give it to me!" she ordered. "Give me the universe!"

He smiled. It should have warned her. It would have warned Suzie but she wasn't home any more. Jack gave her everything he had and didn't stop as her exultant grin faded, as the primordial power overwhelmed her and destroyed her mind. She managed to gasp out one plea. "No! Don't let him take me. Please Captain, don't let Abaddon take me!"
He ignored her, channelling more power through her, almost feeling sparks flying out of his fingertips. He didn't stop when Lilith was blasted out, and he didn't stop until the empty vessel that had once been his colleague disintegrated into dust. Still gripped by the raw forces pulsing through them, Jack turned his attention to what was left of Bilis. He reached down. He felt like he was about to fly apart at the seams and he needed someone else to take the energy.

"Jack, stop!" Ianto shouted at him. "Enough!"

He growled, angry and frustrated, every nerve ending in his body screaming for release. Ianto was standing in front of him. "Bank it down. You've got to get it back under control or it's going to tear you and us apart."

He reached out but Owen shouted "Don't touch him, Ianto."

Taking a step back, Ianto was still talking at him, quickly, urgently. "Jack, think about it. You'll be alone again if you take us out."

Owen's voice penetrated his haze. "Oh for heaven's sake! Move out of the way, Ianto."

A huge pain penetrated his heart. Jack looked down. Owen had shot him. Owen had shot him? He fell to the floor. Ianto knelt and waited until he stopped twitching, then gathered him up in his arms. This time the blackness was peaceful and calm.

Jack stared moodily into the amber liquid. His thoughts were a tangle of emotions and he'd found it difficult to talk or function beyond the barest minimum for a week after the conquest of Lilith and the loss of Suzie. In one way, Tosh had recovered faster and with less damage to her body and emotions than Jack. She had received a large blood transfusion to replace what was lost during her ordeal and now was back on her feet, if not at full capacity. They were all on light duties, the cumulative injuries of the last few weeks taking too much of a toll on Torchwood's ability to cope. Jack had arranged for UNIT to stand by in case of emergency. Bilis had been taken away by them, what was left of him anyway.

He'd forgiven Owen for shooting him. The doctor had found the gun near the bier. Torchwood issue. Ianto wasn't so forgiving. He'd pointed out in excruciating detail that they could have all gone up, taking the Earth with it if Jack had ignited. Jack had recovered physically of course, but his mental state was another matter. Lilith had struck at the core of his despair, at the pain of every relationship he had formed and lost, left behind in age or death or fear. She had been so clever, so accurate with her strategy.

"What are you waiting for, Jack?" The Captain looked up. He hadn't heard Ianto enter the office and sit down opposite him.

"I'm not..."

"Yes, you are. You have been for years." Ianto's voice was firm but resolute. Jack wasn't going to be able to dodge this question.

Jack swallowed. "A doctor. The right kind of doctor."

"The Doctor?" At Jack's reluctant nod, Ianto asked, "Why?"

"Because only he can tell me how I got this way. Only he can make sense of this interminable existence." Jack took a swift gulp of whiskey.

Ianto looked at Jack, not bothering to hide the hurt. "Is this life that bad?" Jack closed his eyes. He didn't have the defences to deal with Ianto's issues as well as his own. "I'm sorry, Jack. That was unfair." Ianto moved around the desk and placed his hand over Jack's. The marks of the knife slash had long since disappeared.

Jack squeezed his hand. "It makes no difference, I've been waiting for so long now." Ianto bit his lip and then pulled Jack to his feet. Surprised, Jack looked at him.


"He's here. Or at least in the area." Ianto handed Jack his greatcoat. "Time to get some answers, my Captain." Hope bubbled up inside Jack. He pulled Ianto close to him and kissed him long and deeply, their bodies flush against each other.

"I'll be back," Jack murmured against Ianto's lips.

"I know," Ianto threaded his hands through Jack's hair and kissed him again, then stepped back. "Now go." Jack ran out of the door, not looking back as he flew down the stairs. The noise that had dominated many lifetimes was filling his ears and it was all he could think about as he left the Hub behind.

Tosh and Owen were bickering loudly when they came back to the Hub. "I'm telling you she wasn't hitting on you. She was fifteen if she was a day."

"That doesn't mean to say she wasn't going for it. Some girls like an older man." Owen pointed out as he licked at a few errant drops of coffee.

"Yeah and most of them prefer men who aren't old enough to be their grandfather."

"Cheeky cow!"

Tosh caught sight of Ianto sitting on the sofa. "Ianto? Are you all right?"

He looked up, a wan smile on his face. "Not really, but I'll live."

Owen looked around curiously. "Where's Jack?"

"He's gone."

"Gone where?"

Tosh put down the coffees and sat down beside him. "Where has he gone, Ianto?"

"To be with the Doctor."

Her eyes widened. "The Doctor."

"The very same."

"And you let him go?"

Ianto looked at her angrily. "What was I supposed to do, Tosh? Hold onto him as he ran out of the door?"

"Well... yes," she said bluntly.

"I couldn't do that," he said quietly, "he's been waiting for too long."

Tosh patted him on the back. "No, I don't suppose you could. I don't suppose he said how long he'd be away."

"That's all well and good, Teaboy, but we're down another team member. He's buggered off and left us really short-handed now." Owen slurped at his coffee.

"I guess we're going to have to advertise." Ianto suggested, reaching for his drink. One cup was left untouched on the table.

Tosh frowned. "I'm not sure you exactly advertise for a position in Torchwood. Jack just... found us."

Owen snorted into his cup. "I'd like to see you taking this one down the job centre. Wanted – versatile person to do light admin work, make coffee, hunt and kill aliens and lie to the world. Early burn-out rate with short life expectancy guaranteed."

"Sounds about right," Ianto agreed, "I'll phone it through."

"It's times like this we could do with Gwen coming back." Tosh mused quietly as she picked at her cup.

"Except for the fact she'd be eighty-something now. I think her chances of out-running aliens are slim." Owen scoffed.

"At least we wouldn't have to explain."

"This is Cardiff. Strange things happen all the time, remember?"

Ianto shook his head. "Still, it doesn't seem right, trying to get someone else without Jack's say so."

"Well, how the hell else are we going to cope?" Owen said, exasperatedly.

As if on cue alarms from the monitors rang out. Tosh sighed and got up to kill the sound. "Deposit in Splott. Shall we call Andy?"

PC Andy approached the lump cautiously. Experience had taught him to hang back. He grimaced at the memory of the green alien goo from the last present from the Rift. He'd still not managed to explain that satisfactorily to his mother. The goo wasn't the problem, the shape of the alien's um... genitalia burned into his uniform was more difficult. Standing at a safe distance, he called out. "Hello? Are you all right?"

"Hello?" The lump moved slightly. Well, that was new! The aliens didn't normally have Welsh accents, female at that. He frowned. There was something very unnerving about this. The lump moved more this time, exposing the shape of a slim woman.

"Are you all right, miss?" he repeated.

"I... er... I'm not sure." She sat up carefully, pushing the hair back from her face. "Andy? Is that you?"

Andy's jaw dropped. "Gwen?"

End, Turn Left, Torchwood Series One

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What a great series! Not sure how I missed the whole thing before, though I had read one or two, but to read the whole lot from start to finish has been a real treat... So much better than RTD's vision and team - but how many times have we said/heard that?
I know some of you are still around and wanted to say very well done and thank you!
Are you sure it's too late for more? Big Finish are doing some.... 😉👍😄

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