Title: Through Time And Space: Chapter 6.2 – In Memories And Dreams Part 2
Characters: Ianto, OFC, OMC, Team Torchwood, Rhi, Mica, David, Jack
Word Count: 1784
Spoilers: CoE, House of the Dead
Summary: Ianto is haunted by thoughts, dreams, memories, and maybe even visions of the people he’s loved and lost and of those he’s had to leave behind.
Written For: Challenge #99: Amnesty, using Challenge #98: Haunted at fan_flashworks.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters.
A/N: Contains hints of two previous fics I’ve written for other challenges, my drabble ‘The Library of Lives’ and the ficlet ‘All Things To All Men’. It’s not at all necessary to read them in order to understand this chapter, but they feel like they should be a part of this ‘Verse.
The dreams began almost immediately. Ianto was walking through the old Torchwood Three Hub; everything about it was just as it used to be, the sights, sounds and scents so familiar they would have brought a lump to his throat had he not been dreaming. Tosh was at her workstation, busily tapping away at her keyboard, Owen was in the autopsy bay, clattering about and swearing inventively. Overhead, Myfanwy circled gracefully on the Hub’s ever-present thermals, her long, leathery wings flapping lazily. Ianto paused to watch her, smiling; she was magnificent.
Making his way to the little kitchen area, he brewed coffee, lovingly stroking the old coffee machine that no one else could ever work. He took Tosh her drink first, setting it by her elbow. She glanced up briefly with a smile and a word of thanks before returning her attention to her screens. Gwen wasn’t in yet, so he set his tray on her workstation and carried Owen’s mug into the medic’s domain.
“About time, Teaboy, what kept you?” Owen took a swig of coffee. “Ahhh, that hits the spot! You got any more scalpels stashed away? I’ve run out.”
Ianto rolled his eyes. “You wouldn’t run out so often if you didn’t keep throwing them at the dartboard.”
“I’ll get a bull’s-eye one of these days, just you wait and see!”
“In your dreams. I’ll fetch a box from storage when everyone’s got their coffee. Try not to waste so many, they don’t grow on trees you know.”
Owen chuckled. “That would be a sight worth seein’! Thanks, mate.” He dropped into a chair, gulping his coffee as Ianto made his way back up the steps into the main Hub.
Leaving Gwen’s mug on her desk, Ianto picked up his tray and headed for Jack’s office, where he found the leader of Torchwood Three leaning back in his chair, feet up on the desk. Jack was on the phone to UNIT, but he smiled delightedly and waved Ianto over. Setting his and Jack’s mugs on coasters, Ianto propped the tray against Jack’s desk, pulled up a chair and sat down. Jack reached for his coffee and inhaled the aroma, an expression of sheer bliss on his face. Sipping slowly to savour the brew, he turned his attention back to his phone call.
“No, General, you seem to be missing the point…”
Ianto tuned out Jack’s words and just watched his lover, the expression of annoyance on his face vanishing briefly every time he took a sip of coffee, only to reappear a moment later due to something the General said to him. Finally, Jack slammed the receiver back in its cradle and took a long drink from his mug.
“Ahhhh, perfection! There’s nothing better than your coffee for washing away the bad taste left behind from talking to UNIT’s top brass.” He smiled warmly at Ianto. “So, I was thinking, dinner tonight? We could go to that little Italian place.”
“Sounds good. Should I book a table?”
“No need, I can do it.” Jack reached for the phone. “Seven thirty alright?”
The scene changed abruptly, as tends to happen in dreams, and Ianto found himself lying with Jack in the small camp bed hidden away beneath Jack’s office. Both of them were naked, sweaty and breathing hard. He felt a bit peeved at having skipped the events that had led up to that moment, but then his perspective changed and it was as though he were standing by the ladder that led up to Jack’s office, watching himself and Jack in the bed as they settled down to sleep.
Time skipped forwards again and Ianto could see that his other self was dreaming. He watched himself wake, smiling, and turn towards Jack, settling again with one arm draped over the other man’s waist. Must have been a good dream for once.
“I don’t know how, but something tells me we’ll be together for a long time. I just hope you don’t get tired of having me around,” the other Ianto whispered.
Oh, that dream; the one with the library and everyone’s lives set out in books, his and Jack’s lives shelved side by side in countless volumes. He remembered that dream very well indeed. Smiling, he turned away from the scene and found himself in the bedroom of his flat, watching himself and Jack sprawled across the bed, once again basking in the afterglow.
“So,” his other self said, “this Doctor of yours, tell me about him?”
Ah, now that was a night he remembered even more clearly. He felt as if he could almost recite the conversation his earlier self was having with Jack word for word, but still he watched the scene play out right to the end as Jack described the Doctor’s many qualities and the other Ianto told him he could be describing himself.
“Trust me; I’ve seen the future, you won’t be facing it alone.”
Perhaps the dream really had been a premonition. Maybe the Library of Lives existed somewhere, if not in this universe then in another. All that he had to do to make it come true was to find Jack, somewhere out there among the stars… As images of swirling starfields and a myriad distant planets filled his head, Ianto rolled over, burrowing under the covers and sinking deeper into sleep.
For the rest of the night, Ianto’s dreams were haunted by all the people he’d loved and lost. He saw Lisa as she’d been before Canary Wharf, a vibrant, lovely young woman with a wicked sense of humour, and he saw what she had become. How had he missed seeing the signs that seemed so clear now? By the time they’d arrived in Cardiff, all that had been left of her had been a hollow shell and some stolen memories.
He sat in Rhi’s lounge sipping tea and telling her how sorry he was that he couldn’t visit in person. He hated the thought that he would miss seeing the kids grow up, but he told her of the bank account he’d set up in her name that would provide for all of her family now that he was gone.
Sitting on an alien beach of green sand, pink sea lapping at their toes, he told Mica and David not to be sad, that he was fine and travelling the stars in a spaceship that looked like a tree from the outside. He pointed to a majestic oak at the edge of the beach, explaining that his ship was so clever she could look like anything she chose. In their beds on earth in 2009, Mica and David smiled in their sleep, forgetting their sorrow as in their dreams they explored their uncle’s amazing spaceship.
Tosh walked beside him through Cardiff as they fetched lunch for the rest of the team, enjoying a rare sunny spring day. They talked about everything and nothing, simply enjoying their time together. A change of scene found him sitting in a pub with Owen, grumbling about work and their wanker of a boss, who also happened to be Ianto’s lover and had taken off for parts unknown without so much as a goodbye. A blink of his eyes and it was Rhys sitting opposite him as they argued about rugby and drank beer, while Gwen regaled Jack with tales of what she and her husband had got up to on their recent holiday.
Jack. Even in his sleep, seeing the man he loved brought tears to Ianto’s eyes. He saw his lover’s grief as he stood at a graveside, watched as the broken man travelled the earth trying to escape the memories of what he’d done and all he’d lost. He relived those moments with Jack in the House of the Dead when he remembered that he’d died, yet discovered he was somehow alive again. With Jack’s “I love you” still ringing in his ears, he witnessed the explosion that had destroyed the most haunted pub in Wales and watched as his Captain walked away, shoulders bowed by a burden no man should ever have to carry.
Scene after scene passed through Ianto’s mind; were they memories, dreams, visions, or all three?
Standing in the shadow of a massive tree, Ianto observed Jack standing alone on a hilltop outside Cardiff, Rhys and a heavily pregnant Gwen struggling up the slope to join him. They handed Jack his Vortex Manipulator, goodbyes were said and then Jack was gone, transported to some unknown ship high above earth’s atmosphere. In a corner of Ianto’s sleeping mind, he wondered if it would be possible to locate the ship, get onboard and find Jack. But before the idea could properly form, his dream self was in another place, a bar on a distant space station, watching as Jack tried to summon up that old thousand watt grim and flirt with some guy in uniform. The flirting didn’t last long; Jack’s heart clearly wasn’t in it and after a few minutes he left, apologising to the stranger and walking away alone. Ianto ached to hold the man he loved, comfort him and tell him they’d be together again soon, forever. He couldn’t move though, couldn’t interfere; he felt like a ghost, unable to affect the world around him. All he could do was watch, blinking away tears and vowing that he would search the universe from end to end if that was what it would take to be reunited with his lover.
Thus the ‘night’ passed as the TARDIS stood on a small asteroid high above earth, picking it apart and absorbing its molecules, using some to gradually grow areas that were not yet completed and storing the rest for later. It was a task that required little thought or effort, so the TARDIS ‘slept’ too, powering down all non-essential systems. If she picked up a scene or two from Ianto’s dreams, well, surely that was only to be expected since their minds were linked.
And on the planet far below, forty-nine years in the future, Jack Harkness also slept. In his dreams, he saw the grandson he’d been forced to sacrifice, the daughter who hated him and the man he’d loved, who’d been taken from him so cruelly. Waking with his face wet with tears, he gathered his few possessions and set out once more to travel the world. He was trying to escape from the memories that haunted him even as he clung to them, willing himself to never forget. He’d made a promise to remember and he intended to keep it for as long as he lived, even though remembering broke his heart. His loved ones deserved no less.