Word Count: 903
Summary: When Jack returns to the Hub on New Year’s Eve 1999, what he finds there turns his world upside down.
Content Notes: None needed.
Written For: Challenge 11: Reverse Fandom: Twilight Zone at ficlet_zone, using ‘Sounds And Silences’. Also for the Blood square on my 100prompts prompt table.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters.
Everything’s changed; the Hub has become a warped parody of itself, twisted out of what’s normal, natural, familiar, into somewhere alien, a place Jack doesn’t know. He’s used to Torchwood’s underground lair being full of sound and life, the computers running in the background, his colleagues talking to each other, sometimes shouting. He’s used to alarms going of, the sound of footsteps walking and running, paper rustling, the hustle and bustle of a group of people getting on with their jobs. All that’s gone now; where there should be noise and movement, now there’s only silence and stillness.
It stains the concrete and drips from the catwalks where the bodies had lain until a short while ago… They’re all in drawers now in the morgue. He took them there one at a time, cleaned them up as best he could, laid them in body bags and sent them to their eternal frozen rest; his colleagues, his friends, and last of all the man who’d been his boss.
Alex… What had he seen in that locket that was so terrible, so unbearable that he’d thought killing his team and then himself was the only answer? It doesn’t matter, Jack will never look, he doesn’t want or need to know, doesn’t want to open himself up to the kind of insanity that could drive one of the sanest men he’s ever known to commit such an unspeakable act. He’s already destroyed the damned thing, for all the good that does; it’s too late to save the team.
Jack curses silently. Why had he decided to go out and celebrate New Year’s Eve? Usually he wouldn’t have bothered, but it was the eve of not just a new year but a whole new millennium, stepping forward into the 21st century when everything was going to change.
Everything, but not this; there was no way this could have been meant to happen.
He should have been here. If he had been, maybe he could have kept this slaughter from happening, restrained Alex, locked him up until he came to his senses, if he ever did. Killed him before he could kill the others, if that was what it took. But no, instead he’d been out having fun and… okay, there’d been that bug thing too but he’d thought Alex was joking, hadn’t taken him seriously until he’d run into it. Eighteen legs, poison… Dealing with it had been a priority, but still, he hadn’t been here when his team needed him. He should’ve come straight back after handling the bug situation instead of deciding to join the throngs of revellers and have a few drinks… He’d been living it up while good people were dying at the hands of someone they’d all trusted with their lives.
No, none of this should have happened, it was beyond wrong, and the blood of his teammates was on his hands. Literally, drying on his fingers, cracking and flaking away from his palms.
He should wash it off, but he can’t, not yet; there’s too much he still needs to do. He has to clean the place up. In the warmth and beneath the lights the blood will start to smell soon, but still he can’t bring himself to begin. He wants so badly for this to be nothing more than a nightmare. Wants to wake up and see the faces of the people he works with, hear their voices and laughter echoing through the Hub, but instead there’s nothing but an awful, unnatural silence. The only thing he hears is the occasional drip of blood, and Alex’s words still ringing in his ears before that final, fatal gunshot…
“This place, it's yours. Torchwood Three, my gift to you, Jack, for a century of service as field operative. Give this place a purpose. Before it's too late. Please,” and then, “We’re not ready.”
“We will be,” Jack whispers. “I promise you that. Whatever’s coming, whenever it gets here, Torchwood will be ready.”
Finally he gets his feet moving, goes in search of cleaning supplies, rolls up his sleeves and gets stuck in. First he needs to mop up the blood, set the place to rights, and when that’s done he’ll have to rebuild, find new people, young, fit, talented, pretty; his own team, hand-picked this time, not Torchwood One personnel assigned here on Yvonne Hartman’s orders. If he’s going to do this he’ll do it his way. There are going to be quite a few changes around here.
From field operative and team player to leader; this isn’t what he wanted, but he’ll do the best job he can, for Alex and the others, and for the sake of earth’s future.
This vast, too silent place will come alive again with voices and laughter and the scuff of shoes on concrete, the tapping of fingers on keyboards, the hum of computers, the rustling of paperwork; all the sounds of a dedicated team of people carrying out their jobs, protecting Cardiff and her citizens.
It’s the best memorial he can give to the people who lost their lives this night, the ones he wasn’t here to save, and he vows nothing like this will ever happen again, not on his watch. From now on he’ll be here, day and night, keeping vigil and ensuring the safety not only of Cardiff’s citizens but of the people under his command. His team.