Characters: Jack, Gwen, Ianto, Team, Others.
Summary: Jack is trying to do all he can for the victims of the Rift, but he’s only too well aware of just how little that is.
Word Count: 772
Written For: Prompt # 045 – Spared No Expense at fandomweekly.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters. They belong to the BBC.
After he took over the running of Torchwood Three and discovered the two Rift returnees locked away in the vaults, abandoned and uncared for, Jack had spared no expense in setting up the facility on Flat Holm Island. People taken and returned by the Rift were still people, no matter how shattered their bodies and minds might be. They deserved better than to be hidden away in the depths of the Hub like some embarrassing secret. They weren’t prisoners; they were sick and injured, irreparably damaged through no fault of their own. They needed care, and understanding, and protection, from themselves and the horrors they’d seen as much as from anything the world might do to them. After all, what worse could there be than what the Rift had already done?
So he bought the remote island in Cardiff Bay, with its crumbling stone barracks, its decommissioned World War Two radar station and gun emplacements, and its rugged, windswept desolation. Over a period of a few months, he had the buildings cleared out and renovated, turned them into a sort of hospice. It’s more functional than pretty, but it’s isolated and secure, and most importantly it’s well away from the hustle and bustle and noise of the city, things its residents find intolerable.
He staffed the facility with medical and psychiatric doctors, nurses and orderlies, whose only task was to care for people who couldn’t take care of themselves. Unable to tell them the truth, he simply let it be known that their patients were the victims of experiments that had gone badly wrong. For all he knew, in some cases that might actually be true.
The initial outlay had been high, but cost wasn’t an issue; Jack had used whatever funds he could spare from Torchwood’s annual budget, then added a significant amount of his own money. He could afford to. Even now, years later, he still pays the staff wages out of his own pocket, but as much as he’s tried to do for the victims of the Rift who have found their way back to Cardiff, he knows it will never be enough. Nothing short of curing them and restoring their lives would be, but he’s well aware that’s beyond the ability of current medical science, and right now that’s all he has access to. He won’t risk testing barely understood medical technology from the future, and from other worlds, on people who are already so badly damaged. There’s too great a chance of it going wrong and causing even greater harm.
Sometimes he wishes that the Rift would deliver some kind of device that could turn back time and reverse all that’s happened to the men, women, and children housed at Flat Holm. It would be like hitting the jackpot, and he’d give anything to see Jonah, and Caroline, and Saeed, and Earl, and Alice, and all the others whole and happy, unscarred, able to return to their families and live out the lives they should have had, if not for their bad luck at being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
But even if there were such a device, Jack knows deep down that he wouldn’t be able to use it. Altering timelines is too dangerous; he might heal one person and in so doing, doom the whole world. Some prices are simply too high.
Gwen thinks he should do more, and the rest of the team probably feel the same way now they know about the Rift’s penchant for cruelly snatching people away from everything they’ve ever known and, occasionally, returning them like broken, discarded toys. Jack has tried to explain that he’s already doing everything he can with any degree of safety, but as always, she refuses to accept that there are limits.
Ianto, as practical as ever, is looking into what little comforts might make a difference; brightly coloured blankets and cushions, music and books, toys, and games, jigsaw puzzles and art supplies. He’s even suggested applying a coat of whitewash to brighten the dreary walls. It doesn’t smell as much as paint so it’s less likely to cause an adverse reaction in the patients with severe chemical sensitivities. Jack is willing to authorise such expenditure, but it still seems pitifully little for people who have lost so much, a sticking plaster applied to a gaping wound.
More than anything else, Jack wishes there were some way to detect negative Rift spikes soon enough to prevent the Rift from snatching further victims and ruining yet more innocent lives. If there were, he knows he would give everything he owned to obtain it.