Characters: Jack, Alex Hopkins, Ianto, Gwen, Rhys, Alice, Steven, Tosh, Owen, Suzie.
Spoilers: Season two, CoE, and House of the Dead.
Summary: The locket that drove Alex to despair and murder gives Jack a chance to prepare for the future. Torchwood will be ready.
Word Count: 1995
Content Notes: Character deaths, but I promise it’ll be okay in the end.
Written For: Challenge 44: Clone at beattheblackdog.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters.
What Alex had seen in the locket had terrified him, driving him over the edge into insanity, but Jack was made of sterner stuff. He’d already seen so much worse than Alex could ever begin to imagine that what the locket revealed to him, horrifying though it was, didn’t have the power to break him.
There was still plenty of time to prepare; when the events he’d seen finally happened, he was determined that Torchwood would be ready. With that in mine, he started preparations immediately, setting up a safe and secret bunker, equipped with all he would need, and only then did he begin to form his team.
Getting his hands on a sizeable spaceship in need of only minimal repairs had been a stroke of luck, and Suzie, his first recruit, had revelled in helping him to fix it. They’d worked tirelessly together and he was sure that without her help he wouldn’t have been able to fit it out nearly so well. That made losing her all the more tragic. If only he’d thought to check the locket sooner, instead of just taking it for granted that the devastating events it had already shown him were the only disasters it could warn of.
After Suzie’s death, Jack checked the locket every couple of months, so he’d know what was coming and be ready to act. There were several smaller incidents ahead of the main one, and to get through those he had to be very careful so that none of the members of his team would notice anything unusual. But he succeeded without arousing suspicion, so when the children started chanting, he was as ready as he could be and everything played out the way it had to.
Losing Ianto was devastating anyway, his heartfelt ‘I love you’ stirring up horrendous guilt in Jack because of his dismissive treatment of the man over the past few weeks. It was ridiculous really; he hadn’t wanted to get too attached to someone he knew he was going to lose, never mind that he couldn’t grow more attached than he already was.
On top of that, being forced to sacrifice Steven almost shattered him, even though he’d known all along that there was no other way to save the children of his adopted planet. In retrospect, it wasn’t surprising that the foreknowledge of these events had caused Alex, who’d always been a good and decent man, to kill his team. It really must have seemed like the best option to him. If only he’d talked to Jack, told him what he’d seen… But it was too late to think of that now, and besides, he had more important things on his mind.
Alice hated him, and Jack didn’t blame her. He’d killed her son, willingly sacrificing one life in exchange for thousands. She had every right to hate him. It hurt so much to know what she was going through, but he comforted himself with the knowledge that it wouldn’t be for long. She’d be gone soon, free from the grief and pain. Real as it felt right now, her suffering was as ephemeral as her existence would be.
He travelled for the next six months, waiting for things to settle down, before returning to Cardiff to say his goodbyes. Leaving Gwen behind would be a wrench, but her pregnancy was something that had to happen. She and Rhys would continue with their lives, and he’d see them again before too long. Well, he wouldn’t, not exactly, but Gwen wouldn’t know any different. He would be the Jack she remembered, as far as she was concerned. It was a good thing he’d managed to build a couple of working vortex manipulators from the five damaged ones Torchwood had salvaged over the years, because the Jack who returned to earth would need to have one, and there’d be no way of getting it back.
A couple of days before his visit to the House of the Dead, Jack flew his cloaked ship into a high geostationary orbit above Cardiff. He’d stocked it as fully as he could over the past few years, not just food and supplies but personal items and the best of the alien tech from Torchwood’s archives. With autopilot engaged, he used one of the spare VMs to return to the planet below; the ship would remain where he’d left it until he returned to begin the long voyage out among the stars.
Seeing Ianto again after so many months affected Jack far more deeply than he’d been expecting. Even telling himself that this was just a version of Ianto and not the real thing didn’t help. This Ianto looked, felt, and sounded so real that Jack tried desperately to save him, but just like the original Ianto Jones, he wouldn’t be convinced, putting duty before everything, even his own life. It was like losing his lover all over again and Jack’s heart broke a bit more, even while he was telling himself he was grieving for nothing.
At least it helped him give a convincing performance when he saw Gwen and Rhys. He was every inch the heartbroken man bent on escaping a world that held too many painful memories for him to remain. Gwen begged him to stay, but he wasn’t lying when he told her there was nothing left for him on earth, no reason for him to stay. Everything that mattered to him was already on board his ship. Except for Gwen, who would have to remain because she still had a life to live and a family to raise.
The return of his old vortex manipulator was an unexpected bonus, and it touched him deeply. He had no earth money on him with which to repay Rhys, but that hardly mattered; in a day or two he and Gwen would receive confirmation that a tidy sum had been paid into their joint bank account, so they wouldn’t have any financial worries. It was the only thing Jack could do for them now.
When all goodbyes had been said, Jack used his old VM to transport himself up to his ship, rather than to the fictional freighter he’d told Gwen about. Once onboard, he hung up his coat, took the ship out of orbit, and laid in a course for a world some ninety light years from earth. He stayed at the helm until after the jump into the Vortex. The journey would take a couple of weeks, ship’s time, which would hopefully be long enough to get everyone up to speed and acclimatised to their new environment.
Making his way through the ship, he came to a large room where a bank of stasis units had been fitted. There were ten of them, but only five were in use, humming serenely. Moving along the double row, he selected one in particular and opened it, holding his breath as the drawer slid out to reveal a familiar figure. After a few minutes, Ianto stirred as if waking from a deep sleep. He smiled up at Jack.
“Hi. I gather it worked then?” he asked, sitting up.
“Oh yes, it worked.” Jack helped Ianto out of his drawer and enfolded him in a tight hug, clinging as if he’d never let go.
“Jack? What’s wrong?” Ianto hugged his lover back, squeezing tight, trying to reassure Jack that he was here and fine.
“Nothing, I just missed you.”
Ianto knew there was more to it than that. “And?”
Jack sighed. “And in the last six months I’ve had to watch you die twice.” His voice was muffled because his face was pressed into the side of Ianto’s neck, little puffs of breath tickling Ianto’s skin.
“Twice? I thought you only cloned me once?”
“I did, but at the House of the Dead… Ianto, you weren’t just a ghost, you were real and solid, and I tried to save you, but you’re so damned stubborn! You wouldn’t leave!”
“I should think so. What would you do with two of me anyway? No, on second thoughts, don’t answer that, I’m sure I already know.” At least that got a laugh out of Jack.
They took the time to enjoy their reunion for a few hours before waking the others. Owen and Tosh were first, and after hugs and hellos, and a quick rundown of recent events, both were shown their new quarters, big suites with all their belongings boxed up after their ‘deaths’ and waiting for them to unpack. Leaving them to it, Jack returned to the stasis units and woke the last two passengers, Alice and Steven.
They’d been in stasis the shortest time, replaced with clones less than a week before the whole 456 affair began. The cloning technology Jack had acquired wasn’t the best; clones could be produced quickly, but only had a short lifespan. The ones created in a couple of hours lasted only two or three weeks, while those that were grown more slowly, taking several days to fully develop, still only lived for about three and a half months. It hadn’t mattered to Jack; the short-lived clones had been more than adequate for his needs, the only tricky part had been spiriting his people away in advance of their deaths, explaining everything, and replacing them with clones while preserving the originals in the stasis units.
“Are we really out in space, Uncle Jack?” Steven asked in wonder.
“Yep! There’s not much to see right now because we’re travelling through the vortex, but when we get where we’re going, you’ll be able to see all sorts of amazing things. Other planets, spaceships, all kinds of aliens…”
“And you just wait until I introduce you to our pet Pteranodon.”
Jack nodded. “Really.” Myfanwy had settled in nicely, although her quarters weren’t as spacious as she was used to. The shrinking ray helped, she was less than half her original size, but it might still be worth looking into getting a bigger ship. Either that or finding a nice planet where she could live free and happy.
“Cool!” Steven was practically bouncing with excitement.
“I still can’t believe all this,” Alice admitted.
“I know, it’s a lot to take in, but what matters is that you’re safe, and you can make a whole new life for yourselves, anywhere you like.”
“What about you?”
“I have Ianto, my ship, and my friends. I always told them one day I’d show them the universe, so that’s what I’m going to do. You’re welcome aboard for as long as you want, there’ll always be room for you here, but I’ll understand if you want to settle on another planet, or maybe a space station, where there’ll be other kids for Steven to play with. It’s your life.”
“As tempting as that sounds, I think we’ll stick with you lot for now, we’re not ready to go it alone and besides, it’s about time Steven got to know his grandfather better, don’t you think?”
Jack smiled. “Yes, I do. Thank you, Alice.”
“You know what, Dad? I don’t think I want to be Alice Carter anymore; let her rest in peace back on earth. This is a whole new beginning, so call me Melissa. That’s the name you and mum gave me when I was born and now I’ve sort of been reborn, I’d like for us to be a family again.”
“I can’t think of anything I’d like better,” Jack said sincerely. “I’ve missed so much of your life.”
Hugging his daughter and grandson, Jack silently blessed the day that little locket had fallen through the Rift. Without it, he would have lost all the people who meant the most to him, but now here they all were, alive and well, and ready for the biggest adventure of their lives, travelling among the stars together. There was so much he wanted to share with them. It was going to be amazing!