Characters: Ianto, Owen, Gwen, Tosh, Jack.
Spoilers: End Of Days.
Summary: Jack is dead, and the team have to accept that they all share the blame for betraying him.
Word Count: 1251
Written For: Prompt 038 – Betrayal at fandomweekly.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters. They belong to the BBC.
The team stood around helplessly, numb with shock. Actions had consequences and this… this was what happened when they didn’t listen, didn’t obey, didn’t trust their leader.
“This is my fault,” Gwen whispered. “I just wanted Rhys back, was that so wrong? I didn’t know…” She trailed off, tears sparkling in her eyes, ready to fall, until she dashed them away with the back of her hand.
“Fuck that; if anyone’s to blame it’s me,” Owen retorted. “I’m the one who opened the Rift to get Jack and Tosh back. I started this whole sorry mess, and I’m the one who decided to open it again to fix something that couldn’t be fixed. Hell, I’m the one who shot Jack when he tried to stop us!”
“Shut up, Owen,” Ianto snarled. “This isn’t some kind of contest; you don’t get to take all the blame. We’re all guilty, we took your side; none of us even tried to stop you. We all betrayed him and now see where that’s left us. We wouldn’t listen to Jack, thought we knew better than him when we had no idea! We unleashed a demon that would have destroyed the world! Jack’s dead and it’s our fault, all of us. He came back from being shot just so he’d have to sacrifice his life to stop Abaddon, and we stood back and let him. We should all have gone with him, stood alongside him when he faced the Devourer. We owed him that much at least.”
“But if we’d done that we’d be dead too,” Owen said hotly.
“What makes you think any of us deserve to live after what we’ve done?” Ianto fixed Owen with such a look that the medic took a step back.
“Okay, yeah, fair point.” Owen ducked his head, suddenly subdued.
“Jack gave his life so we wouldn’t have to,” Tosh said quietly. “Dying would have been the easy way out for us anyway; we don’t deserve to get off so lightly. Now we all have to live with the consequences of our actions, and that’s a far more fitting punishment.”
Ianto’s shoulders drooped. “You’re right, Tosh; we made this mess, and now we have to fix it.”
“But didn’t Jack just do that?” Gwen asked.
“No.” Ianto’s voice shook slightly. “He defeated Abaddon, but that’s all he did. He let it suck the life force out of him until it absorbed more than it could handle, and I’m betting no one else in the universe could’ve done that. No one else would’ve had enough life to give. But Cardiff’s probably still a mess. Even if all the cracks in time have closed and everything that bled through has gone back where it belongs, what about the people who died up there?” He tilted his chin towards the ceiling of the Hub, and the Plas beyond. “They were dropping like flies when Abaddon’s shadow touched them; are they all still dead?”
“Dunno,” Owen said. “I guess we should probably check.”
“Maybe they’re okay, maybe when Abaddon fell…” Gwen’s eyes were wide with hope.
“If they’re alive again, it’s more luck than we deserve. We’ve still got this mess to fix though.” Ianto scanned the Hub with weary eyes, taking in the wreckage caused by the recent tremors. “Got a lot of work ahead of us, and the Rift’s probably going to be unsettled for some time We shouldn’t have messed with it. Jack warned us about that enough times.”
“You did try to stop me,” Owen pointed out.
“For all the good that did. Sorry I shot you.” Ianto wasn’t sure he meant that, but it seemed like the right thing to say.
Owen gave an awkward half shrug, shoulder still giving him pain. “Might’ve been better if you’d aimed for something a bit more permanent instead of just winging me. Maybe that way none of this would’ve happened.”
“But then Jack and Tosh would still be stuck in the past,” Gwen reminded them.
“That might have been better than this.” Tosh sighed, wiping a weary hand over her face. “We were manipulated. Bilis Manger wanted us to open the Rift, wanted Abaddon released, and somehow he knew all the right buttons to push.”
Gwen nodded. “Yeah. All the promises he made us were nothing but lies.”
“For all the good it did him in the end.” Owen managed a bitter smile. “His lord and master might’ve been freed but Abaddon’s reign of terror didn’t last very long.”
“No thanks to us,” Ianto muttered.
“So what next?” Tosh looked from one of her colleagues to the next, her gaze finally settling on Ianto.
Hands stuffed in the pockets of his trousers, he scuffed one foot against the concrete floor. “I suppose we should start clearing up, get the computers and the Rift predictor back online. We’ll need to monitor what’s going on up top in case we’re needed, and right now we’re flying blind.”
“I’ll get started on that.” Tosh seemed grateful to have something concrete to do.
“What about Jack?” All eyes turned to Gwen as she spoke. “Well, we can’t just leave him… like this.”
They’d all been avoiding looking at their leader, the man they’d betrayed. Cold and still, his skin grey and lifeless, Jack lay there on the gurney Owen had used to bring his body in from the garage. Owen and Ianto had already stripped him of his trademark WWII era clothing, replacing it with an incongruous white medical gown.
Owen steeled himself. “Yeah, suppose I’d better move him to cold storage.”
“No! You can’t!” Gwen protested.
“He’s dead, Gwen. No sense leaving him here to stink up the place.” Owen’s characteristic bluntness made the rest of the team flinch as if they’d been struck.
“I know, but…”
“Ianto, give me a hand.”
Ianto nodded silently and moved to help. It was a solemn procession to the morgue, but when they got there, Gwen balked at the idea of sealing Jack away in a drawer.
“You’re certain he’s dead?”
“I’m a doctor, I know dead when I see it. He's ice cold. No vital signs.”
“But he survived when you shot him. When I first joined Torchwood, he said he couldn't die…”
“Looks like he was wrong. There’s a big difference between him getting shot a few times and having all the life sucked out of him. It’s over, Gwen; whatever brought him back before isn’t gonna work this time.”
“You don’t know that, Owen Harper, and you’re not shutting him away in there!” She gestured angrily at the bank of morgue drawers behind her. “I won’t let you! I want to sit with him.”
“Fine suit yourself, leave all the work to the rest of us.” Owen was too tired and too depressed to argue. He led the way out with Tosh, Ianto bringing up the rear.
Ianto glanced back over his shoulder as he reached the door, torn between wanting to stay with Jack’s body and knowing he needed to help the others set the Hub to rights. Torchwood had to carry on; they still had a job to do, and without their leader it was going to be harder than ever. Eventually he trailed after his friends, head bowed, feeling the weight of his guilt pressing down on him, all but crushing him.
This was the price they paid for betraying the man they should have trusted. No matter what they did from this moment on, they could never make this right.