Title: Day One, part 3
Series: What If? 'Verse
Rating: Teen for this part
Pairings/Characters: Jack/Ianto, Gwen/Rhys, Rhiannon, Alice, Steven, Mica, Rupesh
Summary: In which Jack and Ianto are more persuasive with their families, which has an interesting effect on the rest of the day.
Spoilers: Assume anything up to and including CoE
Word count: 5,828 this part
Disclaimer: I'm treating these guys much better than their creator, so it's really unfortunate that I don't own them.Part One
As the Hub rocked from the force of the explosion, Jack pushed Ianto to the floor and then covered the younger man’s body with his own. Bricks fell down around them, a few bruising Jack’s back, and there was the sound of shattering glass.
When silence fell, Jack breathed a sigh of relief. Ianto had been right; it seemed as though the Hub had survived. What the damage had been above ground remained to be seen. “Are you okay?” he asked, turning his attention to his lover.
“Just the usual loss of dignity,” Ianto replied. He turned his head so that he could see Jack. “Much as I like this position, I think you should get up now, sir.”
Jack grinned and got to his feet so that he could give Ianto a hand. He took his time brushing his partner down before giving Ianto a hug. “You were right.”
“I always am.” Ianto pressed the communicator. “Gwen, is everyone okay?”
[No. The kids are chanting again. Was that a bomb?]
As Ianto rolled his eyes at the obvious question, Jack replied, “Yes, it was. Fortunately, we think we’ve contained the blast to the tourist office with minimal damage down here. Bring one of the children up here immediately. Ianto?”
“On it.” Ianto carefully went to the examination room, avoiding the shattered glass, and cleared the debris away from the chair.
Jack walked back into the main part of the Hub. Bricks dotted the floor and there was some lingering dust in the air as well. In a stroke of luck, only one of the computers had been hit, leaving the other two still functioning. “Camera’s gone,” he reported, “switching to external view.”
As the view changed from static, the devastation was obvious. The tourist office was completely gone, as was a portion of the jetty and the nearby building had been severely damaged. Several cars had been thrown by the force of the blast and were now fiery wrecks. Part of the Plass had been damaged also but fortunately, no other buildings seemed to have been in the path of the explosion. Hopefully, there had been no-one injured or killed by the blast.
“If UNIT was behind this, I don’t think this was the result they were looking for,” Jack commented loudly as he surveyed the damage. Now that the danger was past, he was getting angry. What did UNIT think they were playing at, trying to kill them all? And at a time where there was a global alien threat? He banged his hand down on the desk. “What do the idiots think they’re doing?”
“Maybe it has something to do with the 456,” Ianto theorised, hands on hips as he came back up the stairs. “Maybe they’re worried that those involved last time might speak out about it.”
“So they try to kill someone who’s seemingly immortal? No, not even UNIT is that stupid,” Jack said, trying to clear his mind and think clearly; he knew what his reputation was in that organisation. If they hadn’t locked down the Hub in time, then everyone - Ianto and his family, Gwen, Jack’s family - all might have been killed. Why would anyone want to do that, particularly at this time? “We’re the only ones who can help them get rid of the 456.”
“They want control of the Rift.”
Both men turned to see Rupesh standing near the armoury, carrying Mica. Rhiannon wasn’t far behind. “What?” Jack asked, stalking over to the doctor.
Ianto decided to let Jack deal with Rupesh while he took Mica from the doctor’s arms. His spine tingled as Mica kept chanting, “We are coming,” but his hands were steady as he took her into the examination room and placed the helmet of metal strips on her head.
Rupesh knew he should keep quiet but he had almost been blown up by the people he was working for and he felt betrayed. “UNIT hired me to get inside Torchwood. They wanted to know whether your inability to die was tied to the Rift and if it was, then I was to help them infiltrate and take over Torchwood. Then they would be able to reap the benefits for themselves.”
By the time he finished talking, Jack had reached him and now the older man pinned the doctor against the nearest pylon. Shattered glass crunched beneath their feet. “Tell me you’re joking,” Jack demanded. Of all the stupid, idiotic…
“I wish I was.” Rupesh didn’t look away from the angry man. “I told them it couldn’t be the Rift but they didn’t listen to me.”
“Well, you’re right about that. It’s not the Rift.” Jack, still pinning Rupesh in place, snarled, “Did UNIT know that there were going to be innocent people here?”
Rupesh shook his head. “I didn’t even tell them that I was coming here. I was going to do that tomorrow,” he added miserably.
Gwen appeared then, Alice and Steven following her. Quietly, seeing what was happening, she took the two up the stairs to sit on the old couch.
Jack stepped back from Rupesh, fists clenched as he got his anger under control. “Gwen,” he shouted, “take Doctor Patanjali down to the cells. We’ll deal with him later.”
“Why, he hasn’t--” Gwen started to protest.
“Now, Gwen.” Jack wanted the doctor out of his sight. How dare the man try to get into Torchwood for UNIT!
“Ianto, keep an eye on the CCTV. Emergency services should be showing up soon but let me know if you see any evidence of UNIT out there,” Jack continued. As Ianto came up the stairs with Mica and Rhiannon, Jack queried, “Anything on the scan?”
“There was only a few seconds but there was definitely something,” he replied. “And right at the very end, Mica said, ‘we are coming back’. Take a look.” Ianto pressed a few buttons and the information came up on the computer screen.
It only took one glance for Jack to confirm what he had suspected. “The 456.”
“Who are the 456?” Rhiannon demanded, scared by the whole situation. She held Mica to her side, protecting her.
“A… group that uses that frequency to communicate with,” Jack spun the truth a little. “Obviously, they’ve progressed somewhat in their use of the frequency.”
“And what do they want?” Alice questioned, coming up to stand at her father’s side.
Jack contemplated not saying anything but his daughter was just as stubborn as him sometimes. “I don’t know. But now we know who it is, we can scan that frequency, see if we can find any other transmissions.”
“The government,” Ianto muttered for Jack’s ears only, implying that if the 456 had sent anything else, it would have gone to them. “Jack.” He pointed to the screen that was currently showing CCTV of the destroyed tourist office. Several people in black uniforms had just got out of a black van and were searching the area.
“Great.” They were probably searching for a way in to see if there were any survivors. “Do we know if the tunnel was blocked?”
“No way of knowing unless we try opening the door. Since we don’t want to let them in, that wouldn’t be advisable.”
“Besides which, we’re still in lockdown,” Jack commented. They still had several hours before they would be able to get out of the Hub, even through the secret exit in the bowels of the Hub or through the garage unless they could break the lockdown.
“Exactly,” Ianto agreed. “And if UNIT tries to get in by blowing the door up, maybe Tosh’s time lock will kick in.” Just as it had when the Daleks had attacked. “So… what do we do?”
Jack knew his first priority should be getting the non-Torchwood people out of the Hub safely but at the moment, there was no way of doing that unless they used the alien lock pick.
Rhiannon tugged on Ianto’s arm. “Is there any way I can contact Johnny? He’ll be getting worried by now.”
“No phones,” Jack ordered, looking at Rhiannon and then at Gwen, whom he knew would be wanting to contact Rhys. “Not just yet anyway. They’ll scan for mobile signals and we don’t want to alert them that we’re still here.”
“What about life signs?” Steven spoke up. “I’ve seen that on TV. When there’s an explosion, they always check for life signs.”
“Good point.” Jack ruffled his grandson’s hair. “We’re a fair bit underground here but they might still be able to detect us.”
Ianto had been watching the screen and now stated, “I think they have.” He pointed to two people in black who were studying something.
“Okay, we’ll assume that they know we’re here. I think we also need to assume that if they’re determined to get rid of us, that they’ll try to stop us from reaching our homes. So, Rhiannon, Gwen, call your husbands and warn them. Tell them to get out of the house and go somewhere safe, and that you’ll call them back when everything’s okay,” Jack ordered.
As Gwen nodded and went off to call Rhys, Rhiannon protested, “But what I am I going to tell him? That someone’s trying to kill us?”
“They’re not trying to kill you,” Jack disagreed, “they’re trying to kill anyone who works for Torchwood. You being here is just bad timing.” He grimaced, hating the situation.
“Lucky us,” Rhiannon said sarcastically.
“Rhi, it’s not Jack’s fault,” Ianto defended the older man. “He didn’t know this would happen - none of us did.”
“But since it has, we’ll do our best to get you all out of here safely,” Jack assured her. He turned his head to look at Alice. “I promise.”
“You’d better,” Alice said. She was regretting coming here and was hoping that Torchwood wasn’t going to be the death of her.
Above ground, the UNIT officers noticed that there was one - now two - phone signals active, and at least eight life signs, one of them very large; too many considering there were only three Torchwood members. However, collateral damage wasn’t their concern. Their orders were to take control of the Rift and that’s what they were going to do, no matter what the cost.
“What about trying Frobisher again?” Gwen suggested as she came back over to her team. “Tell him what’s happened and get him to order UNIT to back off.”
“After we couldn’t get through earlier? It’s entirely possible that he’s supporting UNIT in this,” Jack told her.
“At the very least, he’s looking the other way,” Ianto added, just as frustrated as Jack about the whole situation.
Gwen shook her head in disbelief. “They must be out of their minds to do this now when more children could be under threat.”
“That about sums UNIT up,” Ianto muttered. “Martha excepted.”
“So what do we do then?” Gwen wanted to know. “Wait until they break in?”
Jack bit back his immediate response; the last thing he needed right now was Gwen continually questioning him. “Ianto, is there anyone watching the cars?”
Ianto called up the footage. “There’s no-one in sight.”
“Right then. Gwen, once we get the door open, take everyone out through the garage and then take them to one of the safe houses. Ianto and I will take the SUV, and work on the problem of the 456,” Jack decided. If they had a solution, then Frobisher might be more willing to listen to them.
“What about Rupesh?” Gwen persisted as Ianto disappeared into Jack’s office. “We can’t just leave him in the cells!”
“He was going to spy on us!” Jack countered, still not willing to cut the doctor any slack. “We’re not taking him with us.”
“And what if we can’t get back into the Hub for days?” Gwen continued. “He’ll starve to death.”
“Better him than us,” Jack replied, his gaze locking onto Ianto as the younger man came towards him.
Ianto held up the alien lock pick that had been in the secure archives in Jack’s office. “We’ll need this to get through to the garage,” he said.
Jack took it from him and went over to the armoury. When the door opened, Jack held the lock pick out to Gwen. “Get them to safety. We’ll call you on the comms as soon as we get to the back-up Hub.”
Gwen’s eyes widened. “We have a back-up Hub?” Why didn’t anyone tell her these things?
“Yes, we do, now go.” Jack’s tone brooked no argument.
Realising that Jack was serious, Gwen nodded and headed over to explain things to their guests.
After listening to the plan, Rhiannon left Mica with the group and went over to Jack. “You take care of him,” she ordered, worried that Ianto might not get through this unscathed.
“I will,” Jack promised sincerely; he didn’t want to be without Ianto yet either.
Ianto frowned. “Did I miss something?” What had those two talked about?
“No,” Rhiannon replied. She hugged Ianto and kissed his cheek. “Don’t do anything stupid.”
“I’ll try not to,” was all Ianto could promise. He watched as Rhiannon went back over to the others, then turned to Jack. “What did you say to her?”
Jack avoided his eyes. “I’ll explain later. You got that information on disk?”
“Yep.” Ianto held it up for proof. “Jack, I think now would be a good time to try Tosh’s defensive program. Oh, and we’d better take Rupesh with us. Despite what he was doing for UNIT, he could be useful.”
Thinking it over for a few moments, Jack had to agree. “Okay, go get him. Fast.”
Ianto ran all the way down to the cells. He found the doctor in the cell next to Janet. “Sorry about that,” Ianto apologised as he opened the cell door. “Jack gets a bit carried away sometimes.”
“I underst-- wait, where are you going?” Rupesh asked as Ianto started running back the way he had come.
“UNIT’s trying to break in, we’ve got to get out before they get in,” Ianto explained, looking back over his shoulder.
“Oh.” Rupesh took off after him.
By the time they got upstairs, Gwen had taken the others through to the garage and Jack had just finished shutting down all the computers. “Have you input Tosh’s program?” Ianto asked his lover. It was based on the one Suzie had implemented before she had died the first time and had worked so effectively to lock them inside the base.
Jack nodded. “If the time lock fails and UNIT get inside, they won’t be able to even turn the computers on. Once we go through, no-one will be able to get anything to work, no lights, no doors, nothing. And if they try to blast their way through any of the doors, there’s a dampening field that will help contain the explosions,” he explained for Rupesh’s benefit.
“And if all that doesn’t work?” Rupesh questioned, not quite believing that such a feat could be accomplished.
“Then we’ll have to hope that their techs aren’t as good as Tosh,” Jack replied. He headed over to the armoury, grabbed a few guns and grenades, and then sealed the room as Ianto went to the office to seal the hatch. “Ready?”
“Ready,” Ianto agreed. He handed Jack his coat and got the car keys. Using the SUV would be a risk as it could be visually tracked but they needed the computers.
They shut the door leading to the garage after they had gone through, and Jack pressed some buttons on his wrist strap to ensure that it was locked again. Much as he wanted to stay and make sure UNIT didn’t get their hands on anything, there was something bigger at stake.
Two minutes later, the three men were seated in the SUV, which was now heading out of the underground carpark. Jack was driving, Ianto was in the back so that he had access to the computer, and Rupesh was next to him; Jack hadn’t wanted him up the front.
Jack kept an eye on the side-view and rear-vision mirrors, checking to see if they were being followed. So far it seemed that no-one had noticed… okay, scratch that. “Ianto, one black van behind us.”
“They must have noticed that our life signs had moved,” Ianto conjectured as he got his gun ready. “Let’s hope they didn’t notice Gwen. Front tyre?”
“If you can.”
With a touch of a button, the side window slid down. “How close are they?” Ianto asked.
“Thirty metres and closing,” Jack replied, checking the mirrors every few seconds. They would only have one shot at stopping the UNIT vehicle and he was relying on Ianto’s skill with the gun. Though the younger man preferred to use a stun gun, Jack knew he was a crack-shot; he had trained Ianto himself. “Twenty metres…”
When Jack said ‘ten’, Ianto leaned out of the window, took aim, and fired at the van, releasing several shots in a row. At least one of them hit its mark and the driver swerved at he tried to compensate for the now-flat tyre.
Jack grinned as the SUV pulled away from the UNIT vehicle. “Nice shooting,” he praised his lover.
“Thank you.” Ianto felt a warm glow at the praise and at the satisfaction of hitting a tyre on a moving vehicle for the second time that day. He settled back in his seat and started inputting information into the computer.
“Why don’t we just send the 456 a message saying, ‘You’re not getting the children. If you try, we’ll destroy you’?” Rupesh suggested when the other two men didn’t say anything else.
“Because we need to be able to back up the threat,” Jack replied a little testily. “And we’d have to be able to find them.”
“The fact that they can communicate through the children indicates that they have to be relatively close to Earth,” Ianto said, thinking the problem over, “so we would need to hack into NASA and get their satellites to do the scan for us.”
Jack nodded; that was a good plan. “And backing up the threat? I don’t suppose those alien guns that Torchwood One used to blow up the Sycorax ship are still intact?”
“The Jathaa Sun Gliders?” Ianto shook his head. “They were dismantled straight after that and taken back to Torchwood One for further research.”
Well, there went that idea. An absent thought flitted across Jack’s mind - the ideal solution, really - but he was reluctant to voice it as he knew Ianto wouldn’t like it.
Unknown to him, Ianto had just had the same thought. “Isn’t this the kind of thing that the Doctor usually deals with?” He still had issues about the Time Lord, not the least of which was the hero-worship Jack had for the man despite the way the Doctor had treated him. Abandoning Jack nearly 200,000 years in the future had not endeared the man to Ianto, and the way his lover had related the tale - without any trace of resentment - hadn’t helped. He likened it to the way Gwen looked at Jack: in love with the idea or image rather than the man himself.
“Doctor who?” Rupesh asked, breaking back into the conversation.
Jack ignored him. “He does have a habit of turning up just when he’s needed but there’s been plenty of crises over the centuries that he hasn’t helped to solve. My guess is that if he’s not here, we’re on our own.” Jack didn’t resent him for that because he knew that the Doctor couldn’t be everywhere he was needed. He knew, however, that Ianto was still afraid of him leaving with the Time Lord again, and for that reason Jack was relieved that the Doctor wasn’t around.
Deciding to put aside his reservations, Ianto suggested, “We still have his number. If you like, we could try calling him?”
Jack thought about it for a moment and then shook his head. “Only if things get desperate.” He was reasonably sure that they could solve this themselves. “Ianto, how are you at making bombs?”
“Don’t know, I’ve never tried,” Ianto replied. “Why?”
“I brought some of the weapons from the armoury. If we could somehow combine them…”
“We could blow up the 456’s ship,” Ianto finished for Jack. It made sense but whether they could actually make a bomb large enough was another matter. “We really need Tosh.”
Jack sighed in agreement. He hadn’t wanted to replace his fallen team members so quickly but in hindsight, maybe that might have been a good idea. “I wonder if she left instructions in the mainframe?”
“I’ll check.” Ianto’s fingers flew over the keys, grateful that the computers in the car were remotely connected to the mainframe deep down in the bowels of the Hub. A minute later, he let out a chuckle. “Do you think it’s in the folder labelled ‘Bomb making for Dummies’?”
“Oh, she didn’t?” Jack couldn’t help laughing as well. Tosh’s sense of humour had always been more subtle than that but occasionally, she went for the obvious.
“She did,” Ianto confirmed as he opened the file. “Step one: do not build the bomb next to the computer. Owen and Jack, this means you. Ianto is too smart to do that and Gwen wouldn’t be building a bomb in the first place.”
“Sounds about right,” Jack agreed. “Does it list what we need?”
“Yep.” Ianto skimmed through the list. “It’ll be hard to tell whether we have everything until we sort through the weapons.”
“Don’t worry about that now. Just concentrate on the building part.”
By the time they arrived at the back-up (which Ianto privately christened ‘Hub 2’), the young man had memorised the steps for building a bomb. Just in case though, the first thing he did upon entering the base was to boot up the nearest computer and download the file.
The first thing Jack did was handcuff a protesting Rupesh to a chair. Ianto noticed and commented, “Where did those come from?”
“Always keep a pair with me. You should know that,” Jack replied with a wink. “Never know when I’ll need them.”
“I’m sorry I asked,” Ianto murmured, lowering his head to hide his embarrassment. It was one thing to admit they were a couple in front of someone but he didn’t want their sexual practices publicised as well.
“So, what do we need?” Jack asked, getting back to business. He went over to stand behind Ianto and put one hand on his shoulder as he read the list of items. “I think we’ve got all that.”
“Good. You work on that and I’ll hack into NASA,” Ianto ordered, moving to another computer; Jack was better with weapons than he was. Since he had memorised the instructions, he could simply call them out to Jack and let the older man do the hard work. The back-up Hub had five computers, all in a row, plus some filing cabinets and tables nearby. Ianto had only been there once before, doing the yearly check to make sure everything was in order, and that had been the time Jack had been away with the Doctor for several months.
Jack nodded. “Has UNIT got the Valiant repaired yet?” It had been four months ago that the Daleks had attacked it, just one month after Grey’s devastating visit.
Ianto shook his head. “The damage was too extensive. They haven’t even launched it again, according to reports.” His fingers flew across the keyboard, implementing the program Tosh had written that allowed anyone at Torchwood to hack into virtually any database.
“There goes that idea,” Jack muttered, coming to peer over Ianto’s shoulder.
“Jack - weapons?” Ianto said pointedly, reminding his lover that they had a job to do.
“Right.” With reluctance, Jack moved away and started rummaging through the weapons he had brought with them.
An hour later, Gwen walked through the door. She had taken the others to one of Torchwood’s safe houses (the title of which was in a name that could not be traced back to them) and then had called Ianto on the comms for directions to the second Hub. “Any progress?” she asked when she saw her ‘boys’.
“Some.” Jack looked up from welding two components together. “Is everyone alright?”
“They’re fine. Scared, but coping,” Gwen replied.
“And they know to stay put?” Jack continued; he knew what his daughter could be like if she got something into her head.
Gwen nodded. “I texted Rhys, waited for him to head over there and look after them.”
“As long as the message wasn’t intercepted,” Ianto spoke up. He had hacked into NASA a while ago and was scanning for alien ships but wasn’t having any luck finding one so far. Somehow, they needed to boost the signal; the ship had to be out there somewhere.
“Rhys is watching,” Gwen stated. “If UNIT come for them, he knows how to get them out. What are you doing?” she asked Jack as she realised he was building something.
“Making a bomb. In case we can find the alien ship and send it to them,” Jack explained. “Ianto?”
The younger man sighed and reached for the cup of coffee that wasn’t there; he hadn’t had time to make one yet. “We need to extend the signal. There’s no sign of anything being in orbit around Earth.”
“Unless they’re hiding above the North or South Pole,” Gwen suggested. She received two incredulous looks from the men. “What? Doesn’t the magnetic field above those two points help hide ships in orbit?”
“What have you been watching?” Jack wanted to know. “The only way a ship could hide around Earth was if it was cloaked and even then, it should still leave a trace depending on what kind of engine it has.”
Ianto bit back a complaint. Why hadn’t Jack mentioned that sooner? “So what sort of radiation or whatever should I be looking for?”
In the safe house across the other side of Cardiff, Rhys sat vigil at the window. The lights were off and the two children were sleeping in the nearest bedroom, Alice watching over them. Rhiannon sat on the couch, watching Rhys.
“When did you find out?” she asked softly.“About Gwen being in Torchwood?” Rhys didn’t take his eyes of the view outside. “About a year after she joined. Told me she was Special Ops but couldn’t explain any injuries that she got or any cases that she worked on. Found out by accident one day.”
“How did you react?” Rhiannon was curious.“Anger. Disbelief. I mean, aliens? In Cardiff?” Rhys chuckled, thinking back on his reaction. “I’ve seen what those aliens can do and what Torchwood does.”
Rhys gave her a quick grin that she could barely see in the dark.“How do you cope? With knowing Gwen’s in danger?” She couldn’t get it out of her head that Ianto’s job was extremely dangerous and that she might lose him at any second.“Cooking keeps me pretty calm,” he admitted. “But sometimes I don’t cope at all. You should have seen me when I first met Jack. I was a jealous as hell, Gwen working with that good-looking bloke, and angry that he was putting her in danger. I’ve calmed down a bit since then but it still worries me, you know. You’re worried about Ianto, I suppose.”
“’Course. He’s my baby brother. Never one for talking, him, but it doesn’t stop me from wondering what’s he’s doing and whether he’s taking care of himself.” Now even more so. “How does Jack treat him?”
“Jack? You mean, at work or…?”
Rhys thought about that.“Whenever I’ve seen them at work, they’ve always been pretty professional but outside that, they seem like any other couple. Why?”
“Do you think they’re in love?” Rhiannon persisted, wanting an outside perspective. She hadn’t been able to observe the two together for long enough to decide.“It’s a bit hard to tell.” Rhys thought back to the times he had seen Jack and Ianto outside work hours - which wasn’t often. “I reckon they’re maybe past that stage after everything they’ve been through. They don’t act all lovey-dovey in public, if you know what I mean, but I’ve seen them holding hands. And Gwen reckons that Ianto’s done the impossible and actually domesticated Jack, and from what she says, Jack wouldn’t allow that if he didn’t want it.”
Rhiannon pondered that. Maybe Jack did love Ianto. Maybe he was one of those blokes who just couldn
**********’t say the words, like Ianto was. But regardless of that, she still wanted the older man to let Ianto know how much he really did care. She would have to ensure that after everything was over.
Another long half hour later, and they had the faintest trace of something that shouldn’t be in Earth’s orbit. Now all they had to do was figure out whether it was the 456’s ship, and how they would get the bomb there.
As Ianto went over to the kitchenette to make everyone some coffee, Rupesh decided to speak up again. He had been ignored, handcuffed to the chair for the last ninety minutes, and he was sick of it, so he said something that would get him noticed. “You’re assuming that they want the same thing as last time. What if their intentions are peaceful?”
Three sets of eyes stared at him, amazed he could even suggest such a thing. Jack recovered first and replied, “If their intentions are peaceful, why are they trying to take control of the children? If they didn’t want anything, they would have just called like they did last time, except they weren’t exactly peaceful then either. Somehow I don’t think that a group of aliens who have already blackmailed Earth and taken some of their children are just dropping by for a social call.”
“So you’re going to kill them? How does that make you better than them?” Rupesh continued.
“If you’ve got a better idea, I’m listening,” Jack said tersely. “No? Then we do this our way and protect Earth’s children. Besides, the government hasn’t been taking our calls today, and neither has UNIT, so both of them appear to have something to hide and given the timing, I’d say it was the 456.”
The harsh tone in which Jack was speaking made Rupesh feel stupid for saying anything at all. He looked over at the other two to see their opinions: Gwen’s expression was thoughtful but she didn’t object to Jack’s words; and Ianto’s face was carefully neutral. No help from either of them then.
Jack turned away from the doctor and glanced at Ianto to get confirmation that they were doing the right thing. His partner nodded, which was all Jack needed. “Okay, so I need to go up to the ship and find out who or what is on it, and if it’s the 456, plant the bomb and leave before it explodes.”
“Couple of things,” Gwen stated. “What if it’s not a ship but a glitch or something, and you end up floating in space? And if it is the 456, what if they don’t breath the same atmosphere on the ship? You’ll die and we won’t be able to get you back.”
“Oxygen mask,” Ianto replied, already thinking ahead.
Jack nodded. “That way, if I’m in space then I can still breathe and transport myself back here. And if the ship’s atmosphere is toxic, then I’ll be safe as well.” He didn’t mention how quick he would have to be if he ended up in space; the vacuum could possibly crush him or freeze him within a minute.
Ianto left Jack to answer more questions from Gwen and went to retrieve the necessary items from the locked storage cupboard. He pulled out an oxygen mask - complete with mini-tank - and set it aside. There was also a handheld device that tested air composition so that Jack would know whether the atmosphere was toxic, and a sonic disruptor in case guns didn’t work. He took the items back to the main part of the Hub2, where Gwen was silently glaring at Jack. The immortal man was ignoring her, putting the finishing touches on the bomb. Just how long was I gone? Ianto wondered.
Gwen turned to him. “Ianto, tell him he can’t do this.”
“I’m sorry, Gwen, but I agree with Jack.” As much as it pained him to see Jack go into a dangerous situation without back-up, he would let his lover do it. If this was what it took to prevent a threat to the world’s children, then he couldn’t say no. “And there doesn’t seem to be any other way.”
“We could…” Gwen trailed off, unable to think of another plan.
“Exactly.” Jack turned around, having finished the bomb. “It’s my risk to take. I handed over the twelve children forty-four years ago, it’s my responsibility. I’m not risking either of you two.” He gave Ianto a significant look.
Ianto’s lips twitched into a tiny smile, all he would allow himself at the moment. He felt pleased that the look was aimed at him, that Jack didn’t want to risk him. However, he also felt trepidation at what Jack was getting himself into.
Gwen realised that she couldn’t talk him out of it so she started giving him orders. “Make sure that you come straight back then, don’t wait around because we don’t know what they’ll do.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Jack grinned at her. He kept the grin on as Ianto handed him the oxygen mask and other items, then he allowed it to fade. Putting the items down on the nearest surface, Jack drew Ianto in for an intense kiss, trying to put all his feelings into it. At the end of the kiss, he whispered against his partner’s lips, “I love you.” Just in case he didn’t make it back, he didn’t want Ianto to be in doubt about his place in Jack’s life.
Then he stepped back before Ianto could say anything, put the oxygen mask on and picked the other items up. “I’ll be back. I promise,” he said to them both before disappearing.
Ianto stared at the spot where Jack had been. Had Jack just said ‘I love you’? Freely, without any prompting or hesitation? It was the first time Jack had ever said the words and Ianto was stunned. Why had Jack spoken them now? Was it because he didn’t think he would be coming back or because Rhiannon had said something earlier? Either way, Ianto was privately very pleased that his feelings were returned. Somehow, when Jack returned, he would have to find a way of saying the same thing without making it too ‘chick-flick romance’.Part Four