Title: The Worst Best Day
Characters: Jack, Ianto, Owen, Tosh, Mickey, Andy, Nosy.
Warnings: OMG WHAT DID I DO? (But it’ll be okay).
Summary: Jack and the team suffer the devastating loss of one of their own, but is their loss quite what it seems?
Word Count: 1962
Written For: My genprompt_bingo square Character Death.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters. They belong to the BBC.
It should have been routine, just the simple retrieval of a piece of junk that had fallen through the Rift. Only the junk had turned out to be both unknown and lethal, possibly a weapon, possibly of Time Lord origin, and its journey through the Rift had somehow primed it to go off.
In the few seconds they’d had before everything went to hell, there had been just enough time for Jack to bitterly regret dragging Ianto with him on this jaunt. He’d thrown himself in front of his lover, but his body hadn’t been protection enough; the arrow-like projectile had gone straight though him, and into Ianto’s chest, pinning them together, pulsing energy flowing through it like a double heartbeat.
They’d fallen, Ianto driven to the ground beneath Jack from the force of the impact, and even as Jack’s sight had been fading he’d seen the light of life go out of Ianto’s eyes. It was the last thing he saw before his own life fled, and he prayed to any higher being who might be listening that this time he wouldn’t wake up again.
Jack had revived some unknown time later, gasping back to life but with no comfortingly familiar arms holding him, and for a moment he wondered where Ianto was. Then he remembered, and his heart felt as though it were being crushed in a vice.
Looking about, he saw the rest of the team gathered round the still body just a few metres away. Climbing to his feet, the weight of eternity on his shoulders, heavier than it had ever been before, he staggered the few steps that separated them to fall to his knees beside Ianto. He wanted to gather his love into his arms, but was prevented by the spike through Ianto’s chest, pinning him to the ground like a specimen in a display case. Instead he just stared in numb disbelief. This couldn’t be real, had to be a nightmare of some kind, because Ianto simply could not be gone, not like this, not so soon; it made no sense.
When he and Ianto had failed to return, the rest of the team had tracked them down, horrified by what they’d found. Lifting Jack off the spike that had pierced first him and them Ianto before embedding itself in the ground, they’d set him aside while Owen had turned his attention to their friend, even though they’d all known it was already far too late to do anything; Ianto was beyond saving.
Tosh and Mickey had checked the device they assumed was responsible, but it was inert, seeming to have shorted out, or used up all its power supply. Whatever the reason, it was no longer a danger to anyone, but it hardly mattered to them; the damage had already been done. Now all they could do was stand there, helpless and lost, grieving along with their leader for the man who had been his lover and their friend.
Time passed, and eventually Owen moved, placing a gentle hand on Jack’s shoulder. “We should take ‘im back to the Hub, Jack.”
Jack looked up, face wet with tears, and nodded. “Help me?”
Together they gently lifted Ianto, unpinning him from the ground, the killing metal arrow still in place. Surprisingly, even though it had gone right through him, there was very little blood. Between them, they carried him to the SUV and Jack sat in the back seat with Ianto cradled in his arms, not speaking, never looking away from his lover’s face, as if committing every detail to memory. Owen drove, Tosh beside him in the passenger seat. They went slowly so as not to jostle their precious cargo; after all, there was no real reason to rush. The others rode back to base in Andy’s car, following the SUV all the way, the device responsible for the day’s devastating events stowed securely in a containment box in the boot.
Back at the Hub, Jack carried Ianto in and laid him on the sofa, unwilling to put the man he loved on the cold metal of the autopsy table. That would just seem too final. Drawn by the emotional pain and misery radiating from its friends, Nosy slithered over to them, humming its distress.
“What should we do now?” Tosh asked in a broken voice.
Owen wrapped one arm around her in a comforting hug. “Give Jack some time alone with ‘im. He’s not ready to let go yet.”
“Shouldn’t we at least remove that metal spike? It seems wrong to leave Ianto like that.”
“Better leave it until we move ‘im down to the medical bay. You know how much he’d hate it if we got blood all over the furnishings.”
Tosh nodded. “He’d be furious, probably sentence us to decaf.” She managed a weak smile before bursting into tears again as Owen led her away. Ianto was her best friend; what was she going to do without him? As soon as the thought crossed her mind, she felt guilty. Ianto was her friend, but he was Jack’s everything. She knew how devastated she’d be if she lost Owen, and how much worse must it be for Jack, who’d loved and lost so many times? She couldn’t begin to imagine.
Alone apart from Nosy, Jack stroked Ianto’s cheek and talked to him. “I’m so sorry, Ianto. This is all my fault. I shouldn’t have taken you with me, it was just such a nice day and you’d been down in the archives all morning. I thought it would do you good to get out in the fresh air. I never expected…” He shook his head, tears dripping off his chin onto Ianto’s face, making it look almost as if Ianto were crying too. Jack wiped them away quickly and closed his eyes, needing a brief respite from the sight before him. Not that it did any good; it was as though the scene was etched indelibly on the insides of his eyelids, so he could see it as clearly as if his eyes were still open.
Nosy slithered up onto the sofa with Ianto, nudging him, trying to make him wake up, but he didn’t move. As far as the Fluff could see, there could only be one thing stopping him. The nasty thing sticking out of its friend’s body would have to come out, so Nosy got hold of the end with its mouth and pulled upwards as hard as it could. Really, it slid out quite easily, and wrinkling its snout in distaste, Nosy dropped the thing to the ground. It made quite a noise when it hit the concrete, and everyone looked round at the sound, freezing in place, startled and a bit shocked.
But it was the next sound that snapped everyone out of their stupor.
Ianto drew a gasping breath, hands flailing, one finding Nosy and grabbing a handful of soft fur, the other gripping Jack’s coat sleeve so tightly Jack half expected it to tear.
“You’re alive!” Jack gasped, before gathering Ianto into an almost crushing embrace and kissing him breathless. Ianto didn’t seem to mind, kissing back with enthusiasm despite having not even succeeded in catching his breath yet following his abrupt revival.
“How?” Owen asked. “He was dead, no doubt about it!”
“So was Jack until we pulled him off that spike thing,” Andy reminded them.
“So the spike kept Ianto from reviving?”
“Good an explanation as any,” Mickey shrugged. He looked at Tosh. “Maybe we should take at closer look at the latest Rift Gift because last I knew, Jonesy was like the rest of us, Captain Innuendo excluded, but now I’m not so sure.”
Tosh looked at him speculatively. “You’re thinking that because he came back the same way Jack does…?”
“Maybe somehow that piece of tech did something to Ianto so that he’s like Jack now. It’s only a theory, but it fits the facts.” Together they went to fetch the containment box; not that it helped, because when they pulled it out of the boot and removed the lid, they found the device within it had crumbled to dust, just like the spike Nosy had pulled out of Ianto.
“Designed to be used only once,” Tosh said quietly.
“Because if it does what we think it did, all of us would’ve wanted to use it,” Mickey agreed.
“You’d want to be immortal?” Tosh asked, surprised.
“Not if I was the only one, but if there was a group of us, so there’d always be someone else out there like us, that could be pretty cool.”
“I don’t know; Jack says being immortal is a curse.”
“Well yeah, there was only one of him. But now, maybe there’s two of ‘em. Two’s better than one, right?”
Owen was trying, so far unsuccessfully, to persuade Jack to let go of Ianto long enough for him to examine their previously deceased colleague.
“Put him down for a minute, Jack.”
“Nope,” Jack’s voice was muffled. “Never letting him go again.”
“I need to make sure he’s okay.”
“I’m fine.” Ianto’s voice was as muffled as Jack’s, his face buried in the fabric of Jack’s coat. “Never felt better.”
“Sorry to remind you, but you were dead a bit ago and I want to make certain you’re not goin’ to return to that state.”
That got Jack’s attention. “Is that a possibility?” he asked worriedly.
“I won’t know until I do some tests.”
Jack reluctantly disentangled himself from his lover, but didn’t let go as they made their way to the medical bay, holding Ianto’s hand the whole time Owen was doing just about every test he could come up with. The results, when he’d checked and double-checked everything a few hours later, seemed fairly conclusive.
The team were sitting together eating pizza when Owen joined them. Jack and Ianto had clearly showered and changed into clothes that didn’t have holes right through.
“What did you find out?” Jack asked before Owen could even open his mouth, never mind sit down.
“Ianto’s in perfect health.”
“Yes he is,” Jack agreed.
“No, I mean absolutely perfect. He’s broken several bones in his life, but there’s not the slightest trace of callus in the healed bones any more, and no visible scars from other injuries either. His DNA and blood samples match those on file for him, but the energy that permeates your cells,” he looked at Jack.
“Yeah, that. Well, it’s all through Ianto’s body now too.”
“Does that mean I’m immortal?” Ianto raised an eyebrow, asking the question everyone wanted the answer to.
“Can’t be completely certain unless you get killed again and come back, but yeah, I’d say it’s likely. How d’you feel about that?”
“A bit miffed that no one asked me first, but otherwise… I think I can live with it.”
“Technically, if you are immortal, you don’t really have a choice about the livin’ part,” Owen said wryly.
“That’s true, but even so… If I’d been offered the chance to be here for Jack forever, I’d have said yes.”
That surprised Jack. “You would?”
Ianto nodded. “You need someone to look after you, and I think I’m better qualified for the job than most people.”
“You are. Does that mean I get to look after you too?” Jack asked hopefully.
“I suppose it does. It’s only fair.”
Jack’s grin was positively giddy. He didn’t care how this miracle had occurred, just that one of the worst days of his long life had been turned into one of his best days ever, a day he’d remember for eternity. How could he ever forget when today’s events meant he’d have his precious Welshman with him until the end of time?